Neo-Liberalism Defined


From around the web.

From the web site, Political Snapshots.

Neo-Liberalism and the role of Government.


When a government abdicates its responsibility in regulating the economy (as did the U.S. government), capitalist greed accompanied by all sorts of illegal amassing of wealth by the few, at the expense of the majority in society takes place. In other words, policies of neo-liberalism compel governments to abandon regulation of the economy, so that only profit- making becomes the law of the land. Society be damned. The citizen is only a consumer. The government is only a facilitator of business exploitation.


A government as a body that has the power to enforce environmental, labor and consumer laws was required by neo-liberal philosophy to abandon its most critical responsibility of social policy to “market forces”. While it is true that Democracy gives ordinary people a significant voice in government, at the end of the day, who makes the policies that the U.S. government pursues, is what matters. When that question is properly answered, then, we will find out who has power in America.

Capitalism, What a Concept!

Reading a newspaper i464Capitalism, What a Concept!

If you read the story below you will discover that large corporations are receiving enormous sums of money from state and local governments. Apparently, free market neo-liberalism is good for the common folk like us but we must not speak the dire word, competition, when it comes to large corporations. After all, why should a multi-national organization with billions of dollars in resources do the hard thing like compete in a free market when they can milk state and local governments?

So, it is neo-liberalism for us and corporate welfare for them. Can you say, “Hypocrisy?”

What does neo-liberalism for us mean? It means depressed wages, direct competition with workers in undeveloped nations, continued decline in what we can expect in terms of education and any other government benefit, and that we will be forced into ever more dire circumstances of economic insecurity.

What does neo-liberalism mean for multi-national corporations? In terms of the company itself, nothing. They don’t do neo-liberalism. They do it to others. In terms of the environment of the company, it means they pay less in wages, less in taxes and can exert ever increasing control over their workers while maintaining a loyal and servile class of would-be courtiers who bow and scrape before them while uttering the sacred phrase, “Job Creators.”

Yes, job creators. You can ship American jobs overseas by the millions, play havoc with the American dream of owning a home, almost destroy the world’s economic system and you win the title of “job creator.”

We live in a strange country where people can believe in this kind of nonsense.

James Pilant

The shocking numbers behind corporate welfare | Al Jazeera America

State and local governments have awarded at least $110 billion in taxpayer subsidies to business, with 3 of every 4 dollars going to fewer than 1,000 big corporations, the most thorough analysis to date of corporate welfare revealed today.

Boeing ranks first, with 137 subsidies totaling $13.2 billion, followed by Alcoa at $5.6 billion, Intel at $3.9 billion, General Motors at $3.5 billion and Ford Motor at $2.5 billion, the new report by the nonprofit research organization Good Jobs First shows.

Dow Chemical had the most subsidies, 410 totaling $1.4 billion, followed by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire-Hathaway holding company, with 310 valued at $1.1 billion.

The figures were compiled from disclosures made by state and local government agencies that subsidize companies in all sorts of ways, including cash giveaways, building and land transfers, tax abatements and steep discounts on electric and water bills.

via The shocking numbers behind corporate welfare | Al Jazeera America.

From around the web.

From the web site,

So…when the corporations, and their toadies in Congress, are spewing forth the lie that corporations pay too much in taxes, inhibiting job growth, you can cite this.

S&P 500 members citing effective tax rates of 0% in past twelve months, ranked by market value (in billions):

Verizon: $146.4

MetLife: $53.9

Eaton: $32.7

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals: $29.6

Public Storage: $29.5

Ventas: $19.3

Avalonbay Communities: $17.4

Agilent Technologies: $16.9

Vornado Realty Trust: $16.8

Boston Properites: $16.7

Seagate Technology: $15.9

Broadcom: $15.7

News Corp.: $9.8

Lam Research: $8.8

Kimco Realty: $8.6

Waters: $8.5

Macerich: $8.3

Plum Creek Timber: $8.4

PulteGroup: $6.4

Apartment Investment & Management: $4.3

Perkin Elmer: $4.2

From around the web.

From the web site, Badger Democracy

In 2011, an $8 million tax break for a new Washington DC Whole Foods development raised questions of return on public investment and why public money was even needed:

And why does this project require a special subsidy to move forward in the first place?  This Whole Foods already would qualify for a set of tax incentives for grocery store development, including a 10–year property tax break on the store itself.  Moreover, while some projects near Nationals Park have languished in the recession, this area is likely to be part of the emerging rebound, thanks in part to prior public investment by the District.  Finally, if a Whole Foods will revitalize this neighborhood as it did in Logan Circle, why won’t private market interests step up to make it happen?

In the same year, Whole Foods received $4.2 million in tax subsidies to open a Detroit area store, uncovered only by FOIA requests:

The documents, obtained by the Chaldean News under the Freedom of Information Act and provided toCrain’s, show that Whole Foods is asking for $4.2 million in city, state and federal incentives to open a store in downtown Detroit.

According to the exchanges, the 21,000-square-foot project is expected to get $1.5 million in local and community foundation funds, $1.2 million in federal tax credits under the New Market program and $1.5 million in state incentives.

Michael Sarafa, president of the Bank of Michigan and co-publisher of The Chaldean News, questions the use of incentives to lure a national grocery chain to Detroit. He said there are 83 independently-owned grocers in the city, many of them owned by Chaldeans, who did not receive incentives.


Controversial “TIF” funds are being used for construction of a Whole Foods-anchored development in St. Louis, hardly in a blighted area.

The new Whole Foods development in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago is being partially funded by an $11.3 million “TIF” in an already well-developed area.

Just Poor People and Rich People?

004dJust Poor People and Rich People?

(Please read the article below and see if you agree with my remarks.)

Is that where we are headed?  Is that what we want? Or do we matter any more?

For thirty years now, the middle class has been diminishing in its proportion of the population.

It’s not the inevitable result of globalization or automation or any other outside force. The destruction of the middle class is a policy decision involving tax rates and governmental allocation of resources. It was made deliberately and with intent. The philosophy dictating these policies is called Neo-Liberalism.

But there are other philosophies, some emphasize the importance of people over economic elites and downward wage pressure. Policies can be changed and there is time but not much.

Will there be action? I’m watching.

James Pilant

Daily Kos: Red Lobster Blues

This excellent article on “the eroding Middle Class” by Nelson Schwartz featured in the business pages of the New York Times yesterday.

Schwartz wasted no time painting a bleak picture. After describing middle-class department stores and restaurants closing up and down the East Coast only to be replaced by high-end clothiers and upscale eateries, he delivered this hard-hitting fact about our recent ‘economic recovery’: “about 90 percent of the overall increase in inflation-adjusted consumption between 2009 and 2012 was generated by the top 20 percent of households in terms of income.”

Whew. You read that right. Ninety percent of the growth from just the richest 20 percent of households. (What on earth could that statistic mean for the rest of us?)

Schwartz’s article is based on an equally excellent paper by Barry Cynamon and Steven Fazzari entitled “Inequality, the Great Recession and Slow Recovery” which is very much worth your attention, as well.

Thing is, of course, as Cynamon and Fazzari’s research points out, the middle class has been eroding for years…since the mid-1980’s in fact…

via Daily Kos: Red Lobster Blues.

From around the web.

From the web site, The Feral Librarian.

So what I really want to talk about is my belief that Neoliberalism is toxic for higher education, but research libraries can & should be sites of resistance.

To do that, it would probably be good to define neoliberalism. What is neoliberalism?

There are plenty of definitions – but I like this one from Daniel Saunders, who defines neoliberalism as “a varied collection of ideas, practices, policies and discursive representations … united by three broad beliefs: the benevolence of the free market, minimal state intervention and regulation of the economy, and the individual as a rational economic actor.”

Neoliberal thinking emphasizes individual competition, and places primary value on “employability” and therefore on an individual’s accumulation of human capital and marketable skills.

A key feature of neoliberalism is the extension of market logic into previously non-economic realms – in particular into key social, political and cultural institutions.

We can see this when political candidates promote their experience running a successful business as a reason to vote for them, and in the way market language and metaphors have seeped into so many social and cultural realms.

For example, Neoliberalism is what leads us to talk about things like “the knowledge economy”, where we start to think of knowledge not as a process but as a kind of capital that an individual can acquire so that she then can sell that value to the market.

This is where I pause to ask if you have heard the joke about the Marxist and the Neoliberal? The Marxist laments that all a worker has to sell is his labor power. The Neoliberal offers courses on marketing your labor power.

The Neoliberal joke

The joke about the Marxist & the Neoliberal

So OK, Neoliberalism is a thing, a pervasive thing, and it includes the extension of market language, metaphors, and logic into non-economic realms – of special concern to us is the extension of neoliberal market frameworks into higher education and into libraries.

And it is really important to remember that one of the really insidious things about ideologies as pervasive as neoliberalism is that we barely notice them – they become taken for granted the way a fish doesn’t know it is in water, or the way many of us Dukies assume an obsession with college basketball is normal.

Obviously, I think this is a bad thing – not the obsession w/ college basketball, of course — but  the neoliberal encroachment on education.

I am one of those hopeless idealists who still believes that education is – or should be – a social and public good rather than a private one, and that the goal of higher education should be to promote a healthy democracy and an informed citizenry. And I believe libraries play a critical role in contributing to that public good of an informed citizenry.

So the fact that the neoliberal turn in education over the last several decades has led to a de-emphasis on education as a public good and an emphasis on education as a private good, to be acquired by individuals to further their own goals is of particular concern to me.

In the neoliberal university, students are individual customers, looking to acquire marketable skills. Universities (and teachers and libraries) are evaluated on clearly defined outcomes, and on how efficiently they achieve those outcomes.  Sound familiar?

We can find evidence of this neoliberal approach in plenty of recent trends in higher education – which are almost shocking in how blatantly they rely on a market model of education. The penetration of neoliberal thinking in higher education is so pervasive that it is no longer just market metaphors – colleges recruit students with blatant appeals to their economic self-interest and the mainstream argument for a strong education system is that it is an economic imperative – that we, as a nation, must invest in education in order to compete as a nation in the global economy.

As an example – This very recent article on – Does Ikea hold the secret to the future of college? – reads almost like a parody of an unabashed, uncritical, unselfconscious neoliberal approach to higher education.

In discussing his enthusiasm for bringing his special brand of for-profit eduction to Africa, one educational entrepreneur explains, “There are a lot of young people in Africa who could be Steve Jobs”.  It is no mistake that the justification for bringing “higher education” to Africa rests on the image of one of the richest & whitest men in America — someone who also happens to be a college drop-out, by the way.

Progressivism, Liberaltarianism, Roll-Out Neoliberalism. (via Rortybomb)

This is hard going. It deals with the philosophy behind regulation and the policies against regulation. But it’s not that simple. Like all reality there is a mix of characteristics. If you want to improve your grasp of the intellectual background of the economic wars in our government, this is a good piece to read.

James Pilant

Will Wilkinson blames progressive financial reforms for the revolving door Peter Orszag recently went through. Oh no, not progressive financial reform.  That's where I live! Our Peter Orszag problem: Mr Fallows hits the nail on the head, but what this structural injustice means, politically and ideologically, remains unclear. In my opinion, the seeming inevitability of Orszag-like migrations points to a potentially fatal tension within the progre … Read More

via Rortybomb