Arran's Alley

Watch what they do, not what they say.

Mick Arran

Mick Arran
Portsmouth, New Hampshire, USA
January 05
I've done everything from recycling to teaching in a pre-school. Most recently I was for 10 years an acting and theater teacher as well as a pallet builder. I read a lot and I'm an old man who remembers the distant past with somewhat more clarity than this morning's breakfast. I've been blogging for a decade and I don't do "light". If you're looking for recipes, self-promoting displays of items made for sale, titillating stories about how I was a pimp for an afternoon, or the beauties of toasters, you've come to the wrong place. Check the Front Page.


SEPTEMBER 11, 2010 5:21PM

New Liberals = Old Conservatives

Rate: 7 Flag

David Sirota is having a little difficulty telling the difference between Neoliberal economic policies and the kind the GOP has been pushing for decades. (Via Norwegianity)

In simplistic, Lexus-and-Olive-Tree terms, the neoliberal economic argument goes like this: Tariff-free trade policies are great because they increase commerce, and we can mitigate those policies' negative effects on the blue-collar job market by upgrading our education system to cultivate more science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) specialists for the white-collar sector.

Known as the bipartisan Washington Consensus, this deceptive theory projects the illusion of logic. After all, if the domestic economy's future is in STEM-driven innovation, then it stands to reason that trade policies shedding "low-tech" work and education policies promoting high-tech skills could guarantee success.

Of course, 30 years into the neoliberal experiment, the Great Recession is exposing the flaws of the Washington Consensus.

Yah think?

David's concerned about the latest neoliberal scam - that the unemplopyment situation can be fixed if we just reeducate and retrain "yesterday's workers for today's jobs" or some shit - but while it's important not to fall for yet another BD excuse for keeping everything as tilted toward their rich friends and Republican soulmates (and their rich friends), wehat's cranking my case is the Orwellian notion that there's anything liberal about neoliberalism.

Let's take David's precis of the "neoliberal economic argument". What's the actual, practical difference between that and the standard free market conservative argument?

The biggest problem with the labor market right now is that wages are too high. As Washington again turns to government spending as a cure for unemployment, some against-the-grain thinking is in order.

Economics teaches that full employment would be reached if wages adjust downward, to a level that better reflects current circumstances. At lower wages, employers would desire more workers. Labor markets generate persistent unemployment only if wages are sticky, failing to fall as demand declines.

There isn't one. The "neoliberal" approach is to train us for lower paying jobs so we can "survive" the "new economic reality". The conservatives' Wall Street mouthpiece approach is to insist that we have to take lower paying jobs (or lower pay for the jobs we already do) to survive the "new econmomic reality". In neither case is anyone suggesting that the rich have become insufferably greedy or have been systematically looting the country or even that workers have a right to a living wage. What exactly is "liberal" about this?

If Mark sees red when people think there's anything genuinely conservative about today's right-wing crackwhores, I get the same way when the word "liberal" gets attached to ancient - and outmoded - conservative shibboleths, hopelessly wrongheaded recipes for economic disaster.

[W]e may get a chance to find out just dreadful it is to have a worldwide depression, followed by three new wars in the mideast led by President Palin, followed by an even greater depression. If we're lucky we might also get an Early Christmas global warming catastrophe somewhere in the process.

I have to admit, I may have once again underestimated the ability of the Democratic Party to make the world a much, much worse place.

How could it do anything else when the neoliberal Blue Dog leadership is following the very same old conservative prescriptions that have landed us in the soup time and again while making fat cats fatter and their puppets meaner? Neoliberalism is nothing but old conservatism in a less venal-looking shirt. Nothing about it relates to traditional liberalism is any way; everything about it is a shadow of traditional consevative dogma.

Though the confusion might well explain why "liberal" has become a dirty word.

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If words still meant what they mean, "neoliberalism" wouldn't exist.
Neoliberalism really describes the philosophy of the ruling class. It was perhaps meant to be misleading to begin with, insofar as "liberals" usually preach a limited form of government involvement, entitlements, reformism etc. Perhaps a better term for the outlook applied with such wide inconsistency by the World Bank-WTO-U.S. Treaury complex over the last thirty years or so would be "free market fundamentalism." This at least gives some sense of the violence involved in its application, although it's also a voluntaristic term in relation to the security-fixated politics of the present. In a sense, we've overshot neoliberalism, and remain stuck in an age of "neoconservative" policies---with neoliberal economic ideas still hanging around in the wings.

Have not seen that brand here in AZ. There are moderate democrats, conservatives (no more moderate Republicans - they are so much a dying breed, killed by their party and cowardice), and ultra-conservatives. No liberals. Wish a few of the old-fashioned kind would re-appear. R
If only we serfs would learn "our place" and be grateful for whatever pittance we are granted, the world would be a better place for those who truly matter.

And if Palin was elected, there would be pogroms instituted against true liberals. She brooks no dissension.

Greetings Mick. Wasn't neo-liberalism meant to hearken back to the liberalism of the 18th and 19th century where it designated the free market, free-trade Aam Smith school?

Nonetheless, I agree with the main point that it's indistinguishable from the Friedman laissez-faire capitalist view.

I don't quite agree with restrictions on trade. In my view, a bigger problem is the increasing gap between rich and poor. It's a long story as to what caused the explosion in executive wages in the past 30 years or so. The obvious remedy would be the high income tax rates of teh 50s and 60s. Fat chance of that happening anytime soon with teh Repubs already yelping about allowing the ridiculous tax cut on the richest to lapse, as was agreed on when enacted.

Once you start implementing trade barriers, where does it stop? Wasn't that one of the main contributors to the length and depth of the 1930s depression?
Mick's comment:

"If words still meant what they mean, "neoliberalism" wouldn't exist."

I've been thinking that for some time. Liberalism is a pretty comprehensive philosophy with a wide spectrum of thought. Neoliberalism has come to represent an idea that doesn't belong in short-- we're to live within contractual liberty, and corporations/wealthy/property (however you want to say it) are/is allowed a State of Nature liberty. Might is Right.

so, neoliberalism, or libertarianism, or neoconservatism, or conservatism...should never be used in a sentence containing the word "liberty" without the "anti-" prefix.