Paul Craig Roberts is pretty good at foreign policy and empire analysis; I find him horrendous on all topics economic:
…the plummeting living standards forced on the Greek people by German chancellor Merkel and the European banks have forced large numbers of young Greek women into prostitution.
This is capitalism at work.
What are the characteristics of this “capitalism” that he decries?
In Greece the hardship is imposed from outside the country by the European Union, which Greece foolishly joined, giving away its sovereignty in exchange for austerity.
His complaints are regarding governmental and supra-governmental agencies.
The banksters and their agents in the EU and German governments claim that the Greek people benefitted from the loans and, therefore, are responsible for paying back the loans.
Here his complaints are regarding one of the most government-protected and enabled industries in the world as well as governmental and supra-governmental agencies.
The loans were made to corrupt Greek governments…
More complaints about government.
…Greek governments were paid bribes to borrow money from German or other foreign banks in order to purchase German submarines.
Complaints about a Government borrowing money to buy things made by one of the most government-supported and enabled industries.
You get the idea. For Roberts, government supported and enabled cronyism and theft is capitalism.
Let’s look at some common definitions; from Wikipedia:
Capitalism is an economic system based on private ownership of the means of production and the creation of goods and services for profit. Central characteristics of capitalism include private property, capital accumulation, wage labour and competitive markets. In a capitalist market economy, investments are determined by private decision and the parties to a transaction typically determine the prices at which they exchange assets, goods, and services.
No room for government here, although Wikipedia goes on to allow government intervention into the definition, in contradiction to this opening paragraph:
The degree of competition in markets, the role of intervention and regulation, and the scope of state ownership vary across different models of capitalism.
There is competition or there isn’t; there is private ownership or there isn’t. Anything in-between is government intervention in a capitalist economy.
Capitalism is a social system based on the principle of individual rights. Politically, it is the system of laissez-faire (freedom). Legally it is a system of objective laws (rule of law as opposed to rule of man). Economically, when such freedom is applied to the sphere of production its result is the free-market.
[A]n economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly by competition in a free market.
A system of economics based on the private ownership of capital and production inputs, and on the production of goods and services for profit. The production of goods and services is based on supply and demand in the general market (market economy), rather than through central planning (planned economy). Capitalism is generally characterized by competition between producers.
Again, introducing a contradictory sentence:
Other facets, such as the participation of government in production and regulation, vary across models of capitalism.
Roberts does not list a single complaint toward private ownership and decision-making, market-determined prices, market competition, free markets, or rule of law – even with the minor contradictions in the definitions, the most important characteristics of “capitalism” per every definition cited. Instead, his complaints are aimed at the government interventions, in other words, actions that move the economy away from capitalism.
Paul Craig Roberts, with his complete ignorance regarding capitalism, demonstrates that he was perfectly qualified for a position at the US Treasury Department.