IN previous editions, we have talked about the reforms in the German social network: old-age pension, health insurance, etc. In this number, a couple of lines about the most important of all the “reasons” for these reforms are stated. On one hand, the consolidation of communication, transport, travel, bank deals, etc., has helped the neo-liberal ideology (perpetual growth + maximum profit in minimum time) to take possession of the world. Any other point of view of the economy is to be considered as heretical and old-fashioned. And whatever may be good for the economy is above “Good” and “Evil”
On the other hand, the capital- however anonymous or well-known was used to be linked to an enterprise, which produced things, tangibles objects. Nowadays, an amount of capital enormously bigger than the one “linked” is known as “not linked” capital, as migratory, that in a few minutes can go from a point to another of the globe, leaving the enterprise A, and investing in the enterprise B in the other hemisphere. And it only produces profit for their shareholders. The so-called “investment funds” accumulate and handle this amount of capital and they only look for the maximum profit in the minimum of time” for their bank securities, the rise of which decides everything. The size of the numbers and the speed of shifting allow this capital to impose the enterprises, even more powerful, unappealable conditions. If an enterprise does not produce the maximum profit (which means a minimum of costs), the capital is withdrawn from this enterprise and is invested in another more “flexible” one, in other latitudes.
Consequences for the enterprises: if the required technique for the production allows it, movement of the factories to countries with low wages, charging the social network of unemployed people. If the technique
does not allow this emigration, drastic reduction of the staff (again at the expense of the social network) in order to save wages, and “social costs”. Or reduce the wages and extend the workweek to avoid firings… for two years (Siemens’ solution, June 2004).
During several years, Governments and Parliaments have been working on other subjects; a period of which the capital has taken advantage to be unnoticed and so to be able to obtain and to guarantee places which could be useful someday. And the day came when the Soviet Union fell and with it the support to the West’s social movements has disappeared. Nowadays, Governments have lost their power on capital. Only small and medium enterprises still pay their taxes; the big ones, relying on a legislation prepared by their lobbies at length, have only got losses in Germany; and their benefits in tax oasis. The political power is almost unarmed in against the tax fraud. As well as against the enterprises that move their production to countries with better costs.
The legislative reforms in order for the enterprises to stop their competitiveness are, so, unavoidable, whatever the social convictions of the politicians are. And what is worse: the reforms only solve the problem only for the moment. New techniques eliminate more and more staff; new countries with low wages are creating competence because of attracting factories-, which are also nearly migratory as well as the capital they are working for; and some new reforms are needed in the country of departure in order to stop this unstoppable erosion.
This is the main “reason” for the reforms in Germany, which have just begun. The globe is loosing gas and is descending quickly to the North American social solidarity level: flexibility in the approval of conditions and districts of work; need of more than one employment to survive; and when the end comes, every man
Consequences for the usual citizen: to button up his overcoat and not to forget his scarf.
Eduardo Espert (Bonn)