TA, your ideas don’t appeal to me. Consider:
1. Criminalize capital flight. Back in the 1960s, when a whole flock of new countries were getting up and running, they were concerned about the vulnerability of their economies to large-scale capital transfers. Moreover, we had little experience with this problem, and so many economists supported measures to minimize the damage done by big capital transfers. So scores of different schemes were set up to protect these fragile economies. Some were rather heavy-handed, and some were more subtle. Most involved currency controls of some sort. The Indian raj system was one of the most extreme: it not only limited capital going out, it also limited it coming in! Anyway, by the 1980s, it had been clearly established that this approach doesn’t work. If you impede the flow of capital out, then you discourage the flow of capital in, and countries starved of capital had very low growth rates. These days, most of those capital-control schemes have been eroded down to almost nothing. There remain a few counterexamples, China being the biggest; but China’s economic distortions are intended to maintain an export economy, not to restrict outward capital flows.
2. Put controls on foreign ownership. This makes no sense. Do you really believe that an American-born owner will be any less eager to pursue profit than a foreign-born owner? Capitalists want ROI, not warm fuzzy feelings. There are still a few countries with such schemes, but most of them are restricted to either “national champions” or industries considered vital to the survival of the country.
3. Put a very tight leash on the financial industry. I’m in agreement with that—at the top end only. That is, the upper reaches of the financial system have the most widespread effects, the least competition, and engage in the least well-understood activities. That should be carefully regulated. At the middle and lower levels of the financial system I see little need for change.
4. nationalize education, health care, telecommunications and other public services. I see no reason to nationalize these operations; they can be farmed out to better overall effect. I’d certainly like to see improvements in the performance of both our education and health care systems (and in fact I offered a detailed scheme for that which involves a lot Federal activity). But simply taking them over won’t accomplish anything worthwhile.
These are not new ideas. In fact, these are economic policies that have helped the developed world become developed. New ideas are rethinking concepts of ownership, allocation, planning and division of labor.
This seems to suggest that more socialist approaches to economic policy are spreading throughout the world, when in fact the reverse is the case. For the last 30 years we have seen the steady advance of more laissez faire policies. There have been some reversals, such as in Venezuela. But the world as a whole, the lessening of government control over the economy has been the overall trend. And that trend is correlated with an increase in global GDP. It’s correlation, not causation, but it’s difficult to argue in the face of this evidence that diminishing the government’s role in the economy makes people better off.
We should be asking: why are people “free” to own the labors of others even if they dont own the workers directly?
Why do we use markets to allocate resources when they pit buyers versuses sellers and ignore externalities or are bias over private consumption rather than social (i.e. health care, social programs and so-called “entitlements”)?
The task of integrating externalities into economies belongs to the government. I would love to see more government action in this area. And your last clause confuses me; are you suggesting that private consumption does not include health care, etc?
Why are decisions that affect billions of people made behind closed doors through unelected and largely unaccountable businessmen loyal to profits, not people?
The same thing could be said of the rulers of China or Saudi Arabia. But to answer your question, it is because this system has been found to work best. If you have a better system, put it forth.
Why do we remunerate people based on private ownership, or inheritance in the form of direct wealth or genetic lottery?
Those are some of the means of distributing wealth. I am in agreement with you that inheritance taxes should be restored to higher levels.