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Tepco is the End of the Market Economy

Tepco operated antiquated nuclear reactors and glossed over the harm of a meltdown. The Japanese government will probably nationalize the firm since it cannot pay a fraction of its liabilities. What lessons do we learn? Should the public sector be expanded? Do corporate subsidies, tax breaks and tax avoidance cause deficits? We are all Wisconsin.

Incalculable risks for the community exist in most economic areas. Businesses refuse to bear the economic consequences

By Alexander Dill

[This article published in the German-English cyber journal Telepolis 3/28/2011 is translated from the German on the Internet, www.heise.de/tp/r4/artikel/34/34443/1.html.
After 20 years in the economy, Dr. Alexander Dill returned to his vocation as social researcher. Since February 2010 he has been chairperson of the Basel Institute of Commerce and Economy founded after the financial crisis.]

To the end of the DDR (East Germany) in 1990 it seemed a socialist planned economy was the greatest threat for the market economy. Most economists still believe this today. But now there are novelties. A business named Tepco largely unknown unlike Google seemingly attacks the whole market economy worldwide which could fall like the Soviet Union in 1985.

In September 2010 the Tokyo Electric Power Company [1] published its report "Vision 2020" [2] document PDF [3] A Manifesto of Sustainability, CO2 Reduction and Social Responsibility" on September 29, 2010 Tepco pocketed new capital of $3.2 billion "building emission-free nuclear power plants."

On September 13, 2010 the Dow Jones Sustainability Index first accepted a number of nuclear companies. Tepco had its place in the FTSE4Good Index [4] because of its exemplary social responsibility. The Tepco stock fell from 18 Euro to 7 Euro after the greatest economic disaster in the history of nuclear power trivialized as an "accident."

The damage caused by Tepco could be many times the official estimates of the Japanese government at $200-300 billion. A trillion or even 2, 3 or 4 trillion dollars will be quickly reached if the second-largest industrial state of the world cannot export any automobiles any more, its housing prices collapse, foreign firms and states evacuate their representatives and freighters no longer reach the port of Tokyo.

Tepco which already posted losses in 2007 and 2008 cannot pay even a fraction of the damage. A truth unbearable for many is clear. The market, markets and their "market participants" are not remotely able to deal withy a complex theme like "energy" with the paradigm of profit maximization.

Tepco operates completely antiquated reactors that can never be controlled as Madoff operated his funds - in the hope that no one would notice. The newly appointed chairperson of the German government ethics commission, Klaus Toepfer, dared to make the following statement at the beginning of the commission's work:

We should make an exodus as quickly as possible from a technology that cannot exclude uncontrollable events. Any other response would be irresponsible. Klaus Toepfer

This means energy cannot be left to a fictional "energy market." But what about raw materials, food, water, currencies, credits, medicines, chemical products and telecommunications? In most economic areas, there are incalculable risks for the community whose consequences businesses cannot or will not bear economically. The opportunity costs - as in the disastrous local transportation - could even top the sales of businesses.

Let us take a look at the 30 corporations on the German DAX exchange. How many of them move on a terrain where private profit interests can, may and should be trusted without risk for the general public? Except for tennis shoes (adidas) and business software (SAP), there are no DAX businesses whose competitive interest can run without great damage to the community.

This is bad news for most foreign investors who previously lived in the religious faith that their profits were permanently guaranteed through "favorable framing conditions" like low taxes, no competition, low wages and non-existent monitoring.

Tepco has ruined faith in the market economy faster than thousands of globalization critics and environmental activists. If there will be something like a market economy in the future, it will have to be limited to areas of life where market actors cannot ruin whole states. The market would return to the market place.


(1) www.tepco.co.jp/index-j.html
(2) www.tepco.co.jp/en/corpinfo/overview/vision-e.html
(3) ./34443_1.pdf
(4) www.ftse.com/Indices/FTSE4Good_Index_Series/index.jsp
(5) www.commons.ch


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Crisis is a change to rethink the purpose of government, the relations of market and state, private and public and production and consumption patterns. As Andreas Exner explains, a society based on sharing and community could replace the society based on profit and capital.

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