While in Australia it is being loudly proclaimed that there is no turning back from a full blown free market economy, one country is showing that there are alternatives.
The Australian Financial Review (April 20) explained how in recent years Holland is showing remarkable economic growth, so much so that the highly reputable International Institute for Management Development (IMD) in its World Competitiveness Study 2000, has ranked the Netherlands fourth behind the USA, Singapore and Finland in terms of providing an environment conducive to business competitiveness.
Economic growth has grown by 3.4 per cent a year and unemployment has fallen to 2.7 per cent in the last few years.
The Dutch have achieved this remarkable record through the setting-up of an accord-style arrangement between government and unions, which has maintained wage stability, jobs growth and a generous social security system for all.
Professor Gerelli from the IMD ascribes the Netherland’s success to its having an economy which integrates the global and the local.
The economy allows a level of globalisation in those areas that need to be open to competition, as well as a level of government support for industry and businesses.
Deregulated sectors, such as telecommunications and transport, operate within the global market, while within the local economy government assistance allows home grown small and medium businesses to thrive.
The benefits of all this arrangement has been greater social cohesion and strong local communities, as well as a dynamic globally orientated economy.
Meanwhile in the Anglo-Saxon world, the unfettered free market rules supreme.
Of the 47 countries surveyed by the IMD, however, Australia comes a poor thirteenth and Great Britain, often held up as an example of free market success, comes fifteenth, in terms of long term economic growth and international competitiveness.
Work: loyalty is out
“It is the time dimension of the new capitalism, rather than high-tech data transmission, global stock markets, or free trade, which most directly affects peoples’ emotional lives outside the workplace.
“Transposed to the family realm, ‘No long-term’ means keep moving, don’t commit yourself, and don’t sacrifice.
“Rico [a technology adviser] suddenly erupted on the plane:
‘You can’t imagine how stupid I feel when I talk to my kids about commitment. It’s an abstract virtue to them; they don’t see it any where.’
“Over dinner I simply didn’t understand the outburst, which seemed apropos of nothing.
“But his meaning is now clearer to me as a reflection upon himself. He means the children don’t see commitment practised in the lives of their parents or their parents’ generation.”
Extract from The Corrosion of Character: The Personal Consequences of Work in the New Capitalism by Richard Sennett