When the old Soviet Union fell and China began to open itself to the beginnings of free markets, it was widely thought that capitalism had triumphed over state-run economies. Guess what? The tide of history went the opposite direction.
After 1990, the big, successful western economies began to accelerate their way along the path to the dustbin of history. It is no accident that the only country in Europe that seems to believe in free markets today is Poland, having endured a century of state-run economics.
It is interesting watching the political debate taking place between Clinton and Sanders. They seem to outdo one another in urging the end of free markets. Not a word comes from either mouth that doesn't propose some specific way of removing free market policies and replacing the American democracy with a bureaucratic overlord system, not far removed from the way the old Soviet Union was organized.
Clinton and Sanders are typical of the favored elite that increasingly dominate American political and social life. They are both incredibly wealthy, at least as compared to average Americans (even Sanders!). Neither seem to believe that the average person is capable of making their own decisions. They both believe the state should direct investment not the private sector. In many ways, both would have been comfortable in the old Chinese government of the pre-1990s.
No wonder both dislike post-1990 China, a country that has advanced more of its citizens into the middle class by using free markets than any country in the history of the world. For this, they have nothing but contempt.
Like the Democratic combatants, most of the Republican combatants are right there beside them on most of these issues. Of the Republican candidates, not a single one has failed to speak out against at least one aspect of the free market, including Rand Paul (think ethanol). None of the Republican candidates have made free market economics the centerpiece of their campaign. None seem concerned about the economic stagnation that is now ubiquitous in the western world.
For the poor and lower income, the rout of capitalism portends declining opportunities and further reduced living standards. Only free markets help poor people. Government simply keeps the poor in a virtual prison constructed with government welfare programs.
When the old Soviet Union fell, it looked like, at last, the least fortunate in our society would be cut a break. But, the politicians will fight mightily to preserve their hegemony over ordinary citizens, as the elite move around gracefully in their limousines and gulfstreams, all the while decrying inequality and Wall Street.