You didn't ask but you're getting it anyway: my advice? The left - or at least some of it should a) calm down a bit b) stop conflating issues. I won't link them all because no doubt you've come across the sort of thing I'm referring to: this bank crisis is the end of "kamikaze capitalism", "the end of the neo-liberal world order", the refutation of the "unbridled free-market", it represents the nadir of the "Hayekian/Friedman axis of evil"...
I'm concerned about the conflation of concepts and institutions - these being collapsed into lazy cliches about "unfettered free-markets", "the neo-liberal world order" and the like. It's being done with capitalism and markets, for example. But they are two different things. The former has to do with the form of ownership under which goods and services are produced, the latter is a means of allocating these. Obviously historically these have been closely related and how the latter works is very much determined by the former. But damn it all, they are two different things. I'm very concerned that the failure to distinguish between the two, along with the apparent revival of the notion that state intervention is a Good Thing, will result in the people and the parties of the left advocating, and perhaps if they are in power, implementing ideas that would be a complete disaster.
I'm referring to trade here. I simply don't understand some people on the left and their attitude to international trade. In the 19th century, the 'liberal-left' in this country, including sections of what we would now probably describe as the 'hard-left', campaigned for free trade and against the Corn Laws on the grounds that it meant cheaper bread for hard-pressed working class families. Can someone explain to me what the hell happened? You might think, for example, that some might welcome trade with China on the grounds that this means cheap T-shirts for children in low-income families as well as recognising that the expansion of trade in this context forms part of the reason why we have seen in the East the largest rise in material welfare ever recoded in human history.
Of course, I have sampled the bits that are generally critical of the Left, but Shuggy and his degree in economic history are pretty good on the ideologues of the Right too.
Simon Heffer and his ilk may equate state intervention with socialism but anyone with even a passing acquaintance with economic history understands that capitalism has since 1945 co-existed with large scale nationalisation, credit controls, exchange rate controls, price and income controls.
It's worth noting, though, that such controls were, generally speaking, something of a fucking disaster, culminating in the near-bankruptcy of the British economy in the 1970s.
However, Shuggy is quite correct to point out this worrying conflation of markets and capitalism, and the knee-jerk reaction against international trade. Free trade makes both parties better off or they wouldn't do it.