Demystifying Deregulation


There’s a perfectly good reason why Jeremy Kyle gets higher ratings than the morning business news. Financial news is mind-bendingly boring. Unlike the tragically comic familiarity of the guests on the Jeremy Kyle Show, the business news is packed full of jargon and an ever changing in-house vocabulary that almost forces the mind to switch off. This isn’t an accident by the way, most people aren’t meant to be watching the business news and so it’s calculated to attract as little public attention as possible. If most people tuned in and understood what was going on there would be blood on the streets by lunchtime.

Capitalism is like a great big game of Monopoly that rich people play, with the marked difference being that whatever happens in game time impacts, often very seriously, on ordinary people’s lives – especially on the lives of those watching Jeremy Kyle. When the players decide to stop spending their money, for example, people start losing their jobs. It’s that simple. They may decide to move jobs to somewhere else in the world because wages there are cheaper. This means the players make more money, but the bad news for the worker is that even though the job has moved, he or she can’t. What they get for their years of hard work is unemployment benefits and the chance to have Jeremy Kyle call them “scroungers” on national television.

Fundamental to the game is the concept of competition. There are no real surprises as to what this means, it just means that all the players – people with enough money to buy the houses and hotels (corporations) – are trying to win the game by getting the most money. The more money that they get the less money there is for the state to help struggling parents to look after their disabled children and so forth. In theory at least governments have a responsibility to the little people (in reality though they are increasingly on the payroll of the large corporations), and so impose rules or “regulations” on the game, stopping the players doing whatever the hell they please.

Since the mid-1970s all we have heard from the masters of free market capitalism is this mantra of “deregulation.” Their argument is that state intervention in the market is bad for business, and because they wear the suits and can afford the glossy media coverage the voters tend to trust them and vote for whatever they want. Voters are that fickle (“Vote For Jobs!”). What they mean by deregulation isn’t that they don’t want rules to their game. Of course they want rule, they just don’t want democratic governments setting the rules. They want to make the rules themselves, and always rules that guarantee they win with every throw of the dice. Regulation stops big business gambling at the risk of other people’s homes, healthcare, education, and welfare.


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