An open letter to the London occupiers

Dear protesters,

If you’re reading this you’re open minded enough to look beyond the simple narrative and are interested in the deeper causes of the crisis and possible solutions.

If you’ve heard of Libertarians before you’ve probably been told we’re ‘hippies of the right’ or shills for big business. This is not the case. We are in favour of real free markets, the current system is best described as corporatism or crony capitalism.

If you’re worried about corporations having too much power then really you need to realise that they only have power because politicians give it to them. Favourable laws, bailouts and lucrative contracts go to those that lobby most effectively. Regulations are favoured because they create barriers to entry and reduce competition. The real way to limit corporate influence is to maximise competition, maximise accountability to the market, and a level playing field under the law.

Pissed off? So are we.

Regarding the current crisis, we get that you’re pissed off with the financial sector. So are we! But the key villains are not the big bankers but the central bankers, especially the Federal Reserve chairman and Governor of the Bank of England. They had the task of controlling interest rates, which for the last decade were held artificially low. This meant money was cheap and credit readily available, which fuelled the housing boom in both the USA and UK.

Banks like Northern Rock followed risky strategies based on the availability of cheap borrowing, and as soon as central banks started to raise interest rates they failed. Add in that since the 70’s money has been fiat money backed by nothing but the Government’s promise that it is worth something. That promise is paid for by the goods and services you have not yet produced, making you a slave, but worse is the fact you can print as much fiat money as you like. Laws enacted in the US forced banks to lend to individuals that can’t afford to repay. Government guarantees like deposit insurance and limited liability protect bankers from the consequences of the risks they take. Losses were therefore socialised in advance, not just afterwards. It is clear that politicians share a huge part of the blame for the crash.

Another key claim is that financial markets were unregulated. As if! There was lots of regulation but it was badly written and enforced. Regulation was little more than box ticking as no one really understood what was going on. The FSA gave Northern Rock a clean bill of health weeks before it collapsed, while the US Securities and Exchange Commission failed to spot Bernie Madoff’s crimes. Do you really think we need more regulation? What is needed is clarity and effective enforcement of existing rules not new rules.

More Myths

The crisis was a failure of Laissez-faire capitalism, it is claimed, but governments control the supply of money, interest rates and write the rules. Then is violated them by bailing out firms. In a true laissez-faire economy does not do bailouts.

The Bonus culture lead to banks to take excessive risk – true, but only because the structure of the industry means individuals are not held responsible if things go wrong- the problem is limited liability (a creation of an 1855 Act of Parliament) and moral hazard created by previous government interventions (especially the US bailout of LTCM in 1998)

The government needs to stimulate the economy- every penny of stimulus has to come from somewhere. Governments can either print money (causing inflation and rising bills), borrowing (that needs to be paid back) or taxation (which takes money out of the productive economy and transfers it to those best at lobbying). The best way to get the economy growing is to get out of the way and let individuals judge best what their priorities are.

To conclude here are six policies we would like to see implemented that we’d hope you could also support:

  1. Remove setting of interest rates from central banks,
  2. Sound, commodity-based money politicians can’t debase,
  3. No more bailouts for the financial industry – firms must be allowed to fail,
  4. Reform limited liability laws so financiers are personally responsible for their actions,
  5. Reduce barriers to entry so new firms can enter the sector and increase competition.
  6. Reform individual taxes so that the poor do not pay income tax.

Essentially, it’s a choice. Right now we have cronyism and capitalism and the combination has messed up our economy. We value capitalism. It feeds us, clothes us and entertains us. If we rid the world of capitalism we loose all of that, and keep only the cronyism. We believe we should rid the world of cronyism, of the favours and protection offered to companies by the Government. We should let the market and the judiciary hold corporations to account and insist they stand on their own two feet.

We hope this letter has been eye-opening and given you plenty to think about. Whether you agree or if we’ve still to persuade you, we wish you well.

Regards,
Libertarian Home

  13 comments for “An open letter to the London occupiers

  1. Oct 16, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    Good stuff

    • Jay Hughes
      Jan 17, 2012 at 10:28 pm

      May i just point out, the property boom around the world was not because “money was cheap”. The boom was kicked off with lies/hype/bu*lsh*t. The media latched onto the stories as they made exciting reading/listening/watching and created a “buzz” in the audience. They claimed prices were rising, demand was growing, and if you didnt want to get left behind you HAD to buy now before you were priced out of the market..
      This did several things to the markets/economies (all looking good as the heavy price increases meant big profits, very quick for many individuals. But the biggest earners were the banks. Just before the bust and even now in certain areas, the banks were lending the people 4 or 5 times what the property was worth in 2004/2005. so whos really made the biggest bucks of this boom & Bust…?

  2. Oct 17, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    I’ve a similar post on my blog too – we all agree that the system we have now is wrong, but agreeing on why is always much harder!

    Ending the role of central banks – either through outright abolition or at least a return to a gold standard, and removing their ability to control interest rates – is the most important change we need to make. Let’s get the protest redirected to the Bank of England!

    • Oct 18, 2011 at 10:10 pm

      Couldn’t agree more! Watch this space…

    • Runcie Balspune
      Nov 6, 2011 at 12:20 pm

      Out of interest are there any web based resources discussing such an idea of returned to a commodity standard from fiat money ? I hear so much about the desire but little on how it can be done.

  3. Hemulen Jones
    Oct 19, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    Also, banks should just be banks, they look after your money, that’s it. A place to deposit your money, no more, no less.

    • Matthew
      Oct 20, 2011 at 6:15 am

      And the economy will grind to a halt as nobody can afford to buy anything.

    • Runcie Balspune
      Nov 6, 2011 at 12:17 pm

      Banks were never such places, the original role of a bank was to lend money to provide investment.

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