It is important to recognize there are varieties of capitalism

Dear Editor
All too often columnists, letter writers and politicians in Guyana deploy the construct “neoliberalism” to indicate displeasure with a particular form of global capitalism. Without fail, neoliberalism is taken to be a form of exploitative market-based structure of accumulation that privileges the rights of businesses over and against the economic rights of workers and communities.
While there are legitimate concerns about the economics of what used to be called Reaganomics, or about the institutional expression of the latter as the “Washington Consensus,” we need to recognize that there are varieties of capitalism. For instance, Canadian and American capitalism are remarkably different. While the former is based on a combination of market-based economics combined with significant social welfare protection, the latter is an aggressive form of what I described elsewhere as personal responsibility capitalism.
Nowhere is this more pronounced than in the differential pricing for prescription medications. Drugs produced in the US are not only cheaper in Canada, but cheaper in the US when reexported. Social market capitalism in Germany and the Scandinavian countries are also remarkably different from the neoliberal model.
It is fundamentally incorrect to label Guyana’s political economy in the language of neoliberalism. This is because of numerous measures that constructively alter market conditions and subsidize end-user goods and services. Of these measures, government subsidized house lots, combined with a progress mortgage-rate structure, best exemplify the unique model we have here. In my view, Guyana’s political economy is based on the capabilities approach developed by Amartya Sen. In this approach, the focus is on what people are empowered to do in terms of political, civic, and economics freedoms. That is the Guyanese variety of capitalism.

Dr Randy Persaud