Our economy is a market economy: on that everyone agrees. What economists call the "price mechanism" controls the allocation of labor, the production of goods and services, and the distribution of commodities. (...)
But do we really live in a market economy? When we look at the pattern of economic transactions in our modern market economy, the striking thing is how large a proportion of transactions do not pass through anything like a market. In any given year more than three out of every four workers do not go on the labor market: they keep working for the same organization that they had worked for the prevous year, doing much the same thing, at much the same wage. When they do change jobs, they are at least as likely to change jobs within the same organization as to get bid away by another offering them a higher wage (or fired by the first as not worth their pay). Within the production side of the economy, the overwhelming proportion of movements of goods and the provision of services takes place within a single corporation: one branch or division providing something of value to another branch or division, with no money changing hands. Microsoft's application developers do not sell their products to its marketing division. Different branches do not bid for and buy the daily services of the corporation's top managers. Within each of the corporations in our economy there exists not the spontaneous division of labor produced in an unplanned fashion by the invisible hand of the market, but a planned and organized division of labor. (...)
There is a sense in which these large modern corporations do indeed live in the market economy: the prices at which they buy materials and sell goods are to a large degree those that balance supply against demand. They are set to match the marginal resource cost of the last unit of any commodity produced to the utilitarian benefit to its consumer. And when large corporations negotiate with one another, the terms and conditions they agree on are reached in the context of the threat to break off negotiations and buy what is needed on the open market if the trading partner does not provide a good enough deal. The transactions by which a corporation buys materials and supplies from and sells products to the outside world are "market" transactions (Williamson, 1981). But there is a strong sense in which we do not live completely in this market economy. As consumers we do. But as producers and employees, many of us live in an economy that is better thought of as a corporate economy: an economy in which patterns of economic activity are organized by the hands of bosses and managers, rather than a one in which the pattern of activity emerges unplanned by any other than the market's invisible hand. (...)
Still a fourth reason for the flourishing of the modern corporation is that the government finds the large corporation very valuable. Thus all kinds of benefits—from the limited exposure to liability of those who commit their equity capital to the corporation, to the fact that corporations that pay their employees in the coin of social insurance benefits do so tax-free, to the fact that corporations realize economies of scale in dealing with the government and its paperwork (whether the IRS or the MA)--give the modern large corporation a government-sponsored competitive edge. The corporation in America is valuable to the government because it can be called upon to do more than its own private purely economic tasks. From the perspective of the modern government, the corporation is the government's principal tax collector. The corporation collects the government's income and sales taxes for it. Withholding for income taxes and point-of-sale collection for sales taxes make the paying of taxes largely automatic. The government would have an infinitely more difficult time collecting anything if it had to deal with each individual for his or her entire tax bill either for income or for sales taxes.
Indeed, there is no one that the Internal Revenue Service fears more than the independent contractor: the person who does not work for a corporation, and with whom the government must deal directly in order to collect taxes. So the IRS tries as hard as it can to force independent contractors into being someone's employees. It desperately wants collecting, withholding, and monitoring compliance with the tax law can be their employers' job--and not the IRS's.
Uma coisa que me ocorre é que, sendo o capitalismo uma combinação de ilhas de economia planificada (as empresas) num mar de economia de mercado, muitos dos chamados "males do capitalismo" talvez derivem mais da parte planificada do que da parte mercantil.
- a desigualdade de rendimentos: pelo menos no caso da desgualdade entre os rendimentos dos gestores e os dos outros trabalhadores, é exatamente devido a esses gestores estarem a gerir e coordenar uma enorme organização; o mecanismo pode ser "gerir uma grande organização é díficil, e por isso os gestores têm que ganhar bem" ou "gerir uma grande organização dá um grande poder aos gestores, que eles utilizam para se apossarem de grande parte da riqueza gerada", mas em ambos a causa é a existência de grandes organizações
- a alienação, isto é, a falta de controlo do trabalhador sobre as condições do seu trabalho: penso que neste ponto, não há grande dúvida que, em principio, um trabalhador por conta própria está menos alienado que um trabalhador por conta de outrém, e um trabalhador de uma pequena empresa menos do que um de uma grande empresa
- os ciclos económicos: pelo menos se acreditarmos na teoria keynesiana que explica as crises pela rigidiz de preços e salários, é de esperar que essa rigidez ocorra mais numa empresa do que num trabalhador por conta própria
Se for assim, será que as propostas de combater os problemas do capitalismo através da regulação/centralização/planificação atacam o problema pelo lado errado?
Ainda sobre este assunto - Re: Os limites naturais à dimensão das empresas e (está já muito indiretamente) Re: Re: (...) Desemprego.
Uma nota final - o texto de DeLong é de 1997; talvez hoje em dia ele não tivesse escrito "Apple Computer is now unlikely to survive its current crisis".