The best the City can do is call Vince names

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From the Guardian:

You'd think from the horrified response to Vince Cable's comments about capitalism yesterday that he'd called for City traders to be rounded up and sent to re-education camps in Caithness. The Liberal Democrat business secretary, declared the Sun, had launched a "vicious attack on the free market". This was an "all-out assault on capitalism", the Daily Mail warned. The Federation of Small Businesses demanded an instant apology. Was an anti-capitalist business secretary actually possible, one BBC presenter wondered.

It's a measure of how bizarrely constrained political debate remains in Britain that when a government minister makes the blindingly obvious point that markets are often rigged and that capitalism "kills competition where it can", it is regarded as both extraordinary and outrageous. Where have all these people been for the past two years, during the greatest market failure and crisis of capitalism since the 1930s?

Amazing, isn’t it, that the response of many in the City to what Cable had to say was that he was “cretinous”. According to the CBI he was Marxist. And yet this is a man who is as the Guardian rightly points out is “a stronger deficit hawk than some of his admirers, and is a more orthodox economist than his reputation may imply.” Oh, too true, regrettably.

So why the reaction to Cable saying what Smith did so long ago that:

People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty and justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary."

And yet Eamonn Butler, director of the Adam Smith Institute, said:  "Vince Cable is wrong on capitalism and wrong on Adam Smith. Unfortunately, we have a business secretary who doesn't understand business and who misinterprets the founder of modern economics too."

No he wasn’t wrong: and just because law could do nothing about those things in 1776 and concepts of justice then were inconsistent with concepts of justice now does not mean Vince was wrong to say what he did and threaten what he did.

Like it or not, what the messaging about what he says really reveals is that he knew exactly that what he was saying is right — and so do those whom he targeted know it is right. The difference between Vince and the likes of Osborne is though a simple one. Osborne, Cameron, Clegg et al have never been in business. Cable has. So have I. that’s why we know and they don’t.

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