Sometimes you find a paragraph that says what you would like to say brilliantly and this is one of those paragraphs.
Many times I’ve tried to explain the impact of free market fundamentalism, Hayek, Milton Friedman and Ayn Rand, all of whose combined effect might well be summed up by the word, neoliberalism.
I strongly agree and endorse the following statement from George Monbiot in his essay from The Guardian, Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems.
“Perhaps the most dangerous impact of neoliberalism is not the economic crises it has caused, but the political crisis. As the domain of the state is reduced, our ability to change the course of our lives through voting also contracts. Instead, neoliberal theory asserts, people can exercise choice through spending. But some have more to spend than others: in the great consumer or shareholder democracy, votes are not equally distributed. The result is a disempowerment of the poor and middle. As parties of the right and former left adopt similar neoliberal policies, disempowerment turns to disenfranchisement. Large numbers of people have been shed from politics.”
I think Donald Trump is President now due in part to feelings of powerlessness on the part of the middle class due to their loss of economic and political power — and much more due to Hilary Clinton’s embrace of this maniacal philosophy more worthy of a James Bond Villain than someone wanting to be the leader of a free people.
Polanyi was far more broadly educated than most economists, perhaps an equal to Keynes. He was employed in Vienna in the 1920s as the “senior editor for the premier economic and financial weekly of Central Europe”– the Financial Times of its day and region. On the very first page of the opening chapter of The Great Transformation, Polanyi delivers his judgement on where the logic of mandating free markets as the dominant force in society would lead if not tempered with countervailing power:
Our thesis is that the idea of a self-adjusting market implied a stark utopia. Such an institution could not exist for any length of time without annihilating the human and natural substance of society; it would have physically destroyed man and transformed his surroundings into a wilderness. Inevitably, society took measures to protect itself, but whatever measures it took impaired the self-regulation of the market, disorganized industrial life, and thus endangered society in yet another way. It was this dilemma which forced the development of the market system into a definite groove and finally disrupted the social organization based upon it.
Almost a century and a half after Léon Walras founded neoclassical general equilibrium theory, economists still have not been able to show that markets move economies to equilibria. What we do know is that — under very restrictive assumptions — unique Pareto-efficient equilibria do exist.
But what good does that do? As long as we cannot show, except under exceedingly unrealistic assumptions, that there are convincing reasons to suppose there are forces which lead economies to equilibria – the value of general equilibrium theory is nil. As long as we cannot really demonstrate that there are forces operating — under reasonable, relevant and at least mildly realistic conditions — at moving markets to equilibria, there cannot really be any sustainable reason for anyone to pay any interest or attention to this theory. A stability that can only be proved by assuming “Santa Claus” conditions is of no avail. Most people do not believe in Santa Claus anymore. And for good reasons. Santa Claus is for kids.
Arnsen’s study documents what many have suspected: the rapid growth of charter schools is itself a factor destabilizing so-called “portfolio school districts” which are conceptualized as school marketplaces managed like a business portfolio in which new schools are opened and so-called “failing” schools are shut down in a constant cycle of churn. Arnsen concludes his interview with Berkshire: “A place like Detroit is just chaotic. It’s the foremost example nationally of the adverse consequences of a poorly regulated education market… Our charter sector in Michigan is unusual nationally in the extent to which the schools are run by for-profit management companies… (W)e have a situation in Michigan where the charter interests are very influential in the state legislature. It makes it much harder in this state to reach consensus not only on coherent choice and finance policies, but also on policy relating to all sorts of education issues….”
In other words, in a state where far-right Dick DeVos and his Great Lakes Education Project along with owners of the for-profit charters are actively buying political influence, it is very difficult to get the legislature to regulate what is an out of control charter school marketplace.
Making a long story short, the federal government enabled banks and private equity companies to monetize the federal student loan program, enabling them to make significant profits from the loans and fees. Because many state governments embraced an ideology of selfishness and opposition to public goods, these governments significant cut their support for state colleges and universities, thus increasing the cost of tuition. At the same time, university administrations were growing both in number of administrators and their salaries, thus increasing costs as well. There was also an increase in infrastructure costs due to new technology as well as a desire to market campuses as having amenities such as rock climbing gyms. The result is $1.3 trillion in debt for 42 million Americans. On the “positive” side, the government makes about 20% on its 2013 loans and the industry is humming along at $140 billion a year.
“Eugenics really took hold in both education reform and reform of social service practices in the state by the 1910s,” says Kate McMahon, a doctoral candidate at Howard University who has been researching Malaga Island, “Those who were poor were also institutionalized and many were forcibly sterilized.” With the growth of this social movement, an increase in sentiment of racism within the state, along with a fear that the black faces of Malaga would interfere with tourist’s vision of the picturesque Maine ideal, it was only a matter of time before the residents of Malaga Island became the center of these social policies and prejudicial fears.
On July 22nd, an engineer is selling, er I mean, discussing, the underground nuclear waste dump…um, I mean, research laboratory. It puts a nice spin on it, when you call it “research”, doesn’t it?? Clearly, this guy is going to market the idea to people–this is not about giving information to the public so that they can decide whether this is a wise decision or not. The way that this project has been shoved through without much public input tells you that it is not what the public wants nor needs.
We have report after report on nuclear waste leaking at other sites: New Mexico and Washington State. Here’s another reporton it.
I don’t care about geology supporting it here in South Dakota. It’s not natural and not supposed to be in the Earth. It will come back to bite us in the arse…we have seen this over and over. The arrogance is astounding.
Why should you read my site and subscribe to it? What makes me different?
Business ethics is usually interpreted in a limited fashion. We talk about “on the job” ethics, that is, personal ethics. We talk about corporate ethics, that is, organizational ethics. And we discuss the ethics of economic systems.
That’s where I live – economic systems. That is where the big crises are.
1. Multinational corporations are on the attack on national sovereignty. They want to be independent of the nations where they exist and want the power to sue and overrule laws.
2. Businesses are continually, often successfully turning public resources into private money.
3. Free market fundamentalists are invading every sphere of endeavor with a doctrine as oppressive and odious as any totalitarian government.
Those are the big issues. They are hard to talk about.
It’s not popular. You don’t get hired as a consultant when you imply that businesses are unpatriotic, that they don’t have a right to public resources and that the free market is not the cure for all that ails society.
But I’m not going to shut up.
Join me – read my stuff. Join me in the struggle for justice and fairness.