The ideas or rather ideology / dogma of Neo-liberal Capitalism are dead or at least should have been killed by contrary evidence a long time ago. Instead like Zombies they “keep shambling along, eating people’s brains.” (Nobel Price winning economist Paul Krugman in his latest book : “Arguing with Zombies“)
In this post-evidence, post-truth environment evidence and facts have not been able to kill the ideas of Neo-liberalism. Here are some of them :
The “trickle down” theory for instance that if governments give tax cuts to the top – the rich – the money will end up at the bottom – in the pockets of the poor. As if money followed the law of physics i.e. gravity.
The idea of globalisation, which in fact is the race to the lowest wage economy to satisfy the consumer wants of the already rich countries. Globalisation mainly enables the free movement of capital most of it speculative. A system which enriches the minority at the top by impoverishing the majority at the bottom i.e. the workers in both countries.
Privatisation of state assets because public is bad private is good. Leave everything to the invisible hand of the market.
Austerity at least for beneficiaries and the working poor combined with tax cuts for the rich.
Shrinking the role of the state. “I’m not in favour of abolishing the government. I just want to shrink it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.” (Oliver Norquist)
Creating a selfish “greed is good” generation. British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher one of the main protagonist of Neo-liberalism (in-)famously declaring that “there’s no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families.”
Most annoying of all we were told that “There is no Alternative” as if our economic system was part of nature like the laws of physics.
All these ideas could not be killed by all the evidence that they were actually harmful to the economy and society. The wealth and income gap can only grow so far till the masses will have had enough. Still the neo-liberal dogma reigned supreme in the Western World till only a couple of months ago.
Then we found the killer cure called Corona Virus COVID 19 :
Over night neo-liberal capitalism went out the door. The zombie ideas were laid to rest hopefully forever.
We had to realise that Globalisation proved to have been putting us all at great risk not only our health by spreading the virus within hours around the world but also economically. International supply chains collapsed. In our country for instance pharmaceutical supplies are getting scarce as most of our medicines or at least the ingredients are manufactured in China.
Privatisation has long been proved as a disaster. Now we are fortunate that we at least still own over 50% of our national airline. The government has to support it anyway and will eventually have to take it over totally.
Austerity was still big a year ago when for instance nurses, doctors and other workers in our run down underfunded health system had to go on strike to to get a pay rise to keep them in the profession. They were told that there was no money. Now the government has forgotten austerity, which prevented us from being prepared and is throwing around billions and still cannot get the health workers into the understaffed hospitals.
And the shrinking state is back. Big business beneficiaries of the ne0-liberal dogma are crying out the loudest for support from the government. Even the down to the core ne0-liberal opposition has gone quiet on trickle down and tax cuts.
And shock horror the economic relief measures even in the US and UK come close to an Universal Basic Income, which is now openly discussed as a permanent solution the time of which has come.
And society is back. Our political leaders do not appeal to our selfishness and greed in this time of crisis but to our sense of community and care for the common good to protect not ourselves but our society and country. The New Zealand Prime Minister’s trademark word is kindness.
As bad and deadly this pandemic might turn out to be one of the good outcomes has to be that it has killed Ne0-liberalism. The virus proved to us that There is an Alternative.
Economists and politicians who still peddle neo-liberal ideas should check if their brains have been eaten.
Dr Hans B. GrueberTweet ##NZPOL