December 31, 2008



A source of mild entertainment which I have allowed myself to indulge since this recession washed up on our shores; has been trying to figure out when the online community will begin to ferret in earnest, the deeper questions stirred up by this economic crisis: could we have done better a job of managing this financial meltdown? Is there a better machine that can produce ‘good?’ How reliable is the free market logic? Should it be tweaked with safety nets to protect those who are most vulnerable?


It could be my imagination, but, for the most part, the internet has been slow to pick up on the scent; as for the MSM, they’re no where to be seen. I imagine whether the blame game is just a muffled cry or reaches a deafening crescendo really hinges on whether this whole financial crisis was foreseeable in the first place?


Or is it? Though judging from the version forwarded by officialdom you would hardly ever notice it. Going by MSM accounts; this whole financial crisis really reads like a cut and dried whodunit – there’s no Da Vinci code there – no mystery even – it’s a freak accident; the smoking gun can even be traced to good olde fashion greed and avarice; once again, the blue eyed boy; the free market economy comes up smelling like roses; he’s innocent. He can do no wrong. Good has won over evil; there is justice after all. End of story.


Err hold on a second….. Didn’t George Soros warn us all circa 2005, about Mr Free Market and how he could suddenly go siaow (psycho) and even do a reenactment of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde when he shared the thesis of  market fundamentalism.; coming to think about it, didn’t Dean Baker, the director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. Who authored The Conservative Nanny State: How the Wealthy Use the Government to Stay Rich and Get Richer.: warn us all that Mr Free Market could even do a spot of drive by shooting just about now!


I mean, if you want, I can go on for another two pages, but you get my drift – contrary to popular myth; there were plenty of red flags and warning lights going off way before the global financial markets decided to take a swan dive.


I suspect, one reason why everyone these days keeps on pretending they’ve been blindsided is because I can’t think of a better way to ensure the show goes on and its business as usual. That could explain why ONLY the official version of the world economy finding itself suddenly slumped with its throat slit from ear to ear is so often forwarded by officialdom; it’s a par excellence excuse to stick to the trite and tested yellow brick road. They like Samurai, Manchu and Mamelukes, fear to tamper with anything in the system they control, lest in so doing they bring the whole edifice crashing down; and that to me is really just a great way to perpetuate the status quo ante; that’s also the cue when the same set pieces are rolled out; we are really only a red dot and when the world catches a cold; how do you expect us not to sneeze? We are price takers, not trendsetters and so on and so forth. You get the drift.


These of course are rebuttals one layered on top of another like kueh lapis; some contend this financial crisis was altogether – freaky – screwy – a one off – my point is all these explanations also serve to fulfill the all important function of deflecting blame from those who once considered it the best thing since slice bread; yes, I am sure by now you’re all picking up on the scent; I am not a big fan of Mr Free Market. In fact, I consider the free market a liability; a hazard to life and limb like blind aunties who have no business driving SUV’s like bats from hell – like alchemy you can only believe in it; if you didn’t know it’s not possible to transmute lead to gold; the free market is in short; the problem!


And no, as I said, I don’t believe what we have seen in the financial carnage was freaky or screwy either; if anything it’s a timely reminder why we should all seriously consider flushing the free market wisdom down the chute like we once did away with lobotomies, child labor, drunk drivers, Ponzi schemers, dodgy melamine laced milk feed which was once mistakenly considered be the reliable producers of good. If pushed further, I would even argue the alternative thesis; every single thing that we have seen so far about this financial carnage was foreseeable, predictable and avoidable!


I know what some of you are thinking; hey Darkness, why you’re calling for heads to roll? Why you’re baying for blood? Understand this! Nothing can be further from the truth; I just can’t figure out one conundrum; why is it when things are hunky dory; government heaps credit on themselves and every minister is sporting a laurel wreath; but when everything turns to mud; they conveniently point the other way and insist everything under the sun is beyond their control. And all their levers to power are suddenly connected to nothing? Can you tell me this!


And let me share with you all, why I think that sort of shitty attitude is bad and doesn’t serve the greater good, in the absence of an inquest, things don’t improve; they don’t get better; its really as simple as that; they stay exactly the same. In the absence of any convincing explanation for what actually went wrong; there is a real likelihood; no one will probably learn anything ‘new’ from it and in all probability, its likely to happen all over again somewhere down the future.


This leads to all to consider the next question, can we afford not to examine the logic of the free market economy?


And this is what really disturbs me no end; even in the midst of the financial crisis; many policy makers haven’t really come to terms with the inherent flaws of the free market economic model. They havent even begun to scale the social cost associated with the minibond crisis and the disparity in pay between rich and poor or even how it underscores the wider implications brought forth by blindly keeping to the free market logic.


What’s even more perplexing is the complete lack of response, the deafening silence that even suggest its business as usual and there’s absolutely nothing to learn from all this.


Truth remains, unless we question the fundamental tenets of the free market logic and probe further into how, where and why it gave way in the way it did – we will never ever know how to mitigate its corrosive effects in the future; we wouldn’t even perceive the wisdom to question whether social welfare, minimum wage or streamlining our moribund CPF system to meet the emerging challenges of our times would in some way be able to somehow improve our lot – things in short will just remain the same; nothing will ever change for the better.


Neither would we be able to effectively scale the cascading effects of this recession on the ordinary man in the street either. Is it realistic for example for wages to be allowed to float free? Do we need minimum wage to stem the rot? Will the free market be able to sort out the good currency from the bad to effectively guarantee that salvation prevails over perdition? Or will it just sharpen the sense of hopeless and desperation for thousands? All these important questions will remain unanswered and business would just amble along happily oblivious to the esoteric issue that unregulated market poses real risks and threat which can only be mitigated by government stepping in to say; this needs to be supervised; we need to set limits to make sure this doesn’t go out of control.


And that simply has to be the tragedy of the commons. The real crisis within the crisis.


Good Bless you all and Happy New Year.


Darkness 2009


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My reflections on the first decade of blogging – Darkness 2009

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