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View Diary: Graphing Rising Income Inequality, the Trademark of Neoliberalism (282 comments)

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  •  Tip'd anad Rec'd even though (1+ / 0-)
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    shaharazade

    I disagree with much of your premise, and with the concept of "neo-liberalism" in general.

    Neo-liberalism, as defined, is simply the modern American Conservative movement. It was built by taking control of the message, through the elimination of the Fairness Doctrine and the rules regarding media ownership. The right set out to control the message back in the 1960's, and they've mostly succeeded.

    Conservadems are not neo-liberal, they are conservative Democrats serving conservative districts/states full of people who spend their days watching Fox and listening to hate radio.

    There is also the little matter of globalization, which reinforces business-oriented positions. Why? Because raping other countries was once GREAT for our economy, right? And politicians, looking for the next election cycle, have an upward climb in taking a long view which runs contrary to short-term gains.

    Only after those chickens come home to roost and the corrosive nature of things like (un)fair trade agreements becomes apparent can there be any notable backlash, and one popular and strong enough to actually fill the sails of candidates.

    In another discussion, you and I got into it over President Obama's record: it is decidedly NOT within the framework of your definition of neo-liberalism. I have heard PPACA called the biggest redistribution of wealth down the economic ladder since "The Great Society," and I think that's exactly right - or will be right unless we blow it and return control to a party that will gut things like the subsidies.

    There are many conservative Democrats - when Nancy Pelosi was Speaker, the House of Representatives had more pro-life members than pro-choice members, even though many more Americans are pro-choice.

    Our courts are decidedly conservative, thanks to the relentless work of the Federalist Society and the continual willingness of the GOP to put party (corporation) over country, and the continuing inability of the Democratic Party to get enough wind in their sales to actually get more and better Democrats.

    So I disagree with this entire line of thinking/labeling, courting a theory NOT SUPPORTED by evidence (that being legislation coming from Democrats that does what you claim neo-liberalism does) which refocuses rightful anger over injustice against the more liberal of the two parties and ignores the ogres in the room: the American Conservative movement, and all for the sake of a catchy phrase (spell that B.O.O.K. S.A.L.E.S.).

    The only thing I can think of which Democrats backed which could be argued as neo-liberal was TARP, and I'll argue that the impetus behind backing TARP was to prevent an economic meltdown - no paychecks, void credit cards, runs on banks - unlike anything we've seen since the 1930's. Furthermore, the idea that any one President could walk in and restructure our financial system seems absurd to me.

    The move back to the left, back to worker rights and reasonable salaries and benefits, will be a long and trying journey, won one step at a time, and it has to come from the bottom to create the wind (see Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, etc.).

    •  I don't like "conservative" (3+ / 0-)
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      divineorder, Cassiodorus, JesseCW

      specifically because of its positive connotations. people think conservatives care about shrinking deficits. They don't. They think they believe in small government. They don't. I bet you a lot of that has to do with the word.

      Couple that with the fact that the rest of the world uses Neoliberal to define a class project of global proportions without any trouble, and come to the fact that sooner or later we have to learn to start using the concept. And if you want to propose a brand new term, I applaud your effort.

      I don't know half of you half as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve. ||@totushek on twitter

      by tote on Fri Aug 19, 2011 at 09:25:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Except that in THIS country (0+ / 0-)

        using such a term will logically point ire at Democrats, not Republicans.

        Since I find nothing liberal (in an American sense) in what you term as neo-liberal, I don't like the term.

        Worse, I think it's being worn here by some people who use it as a guard against their perceived reality. You see, if a few sneaky neo-liberals are ruining everything, then some folks can just hold on to their belief that really, truly, honestly, without-a-doubt-ly, THEIR beliefs represent the vast majority and if only, only, a true progressive leaped in front and spoke truth to power, he'd get like, you know, 290,000,000 votes and a mandate that made him dictactor until such wrongs were righted, or something like that.

        Here's the truth: many Americans HATE unions. Don't just dislike them, but HATE them. And I'm talking working class people. I know, it's ridiculous, but it's true.

        Many Americans believe in a SMALL Federal government. I know, they don't understand the implications to their own lives, but there you have it.

        So I'll stick with Corporate-Conservative and point my guns at the REAL culprits, and they are REPUBLICANS.

        Even above the conservadems. I'll take a Ben Nelson over a Jim Demint any day of any week.

        •  Dude, "liberal" in the classical (vs. neo-) sense (4+ / 0-)
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          Cassiodorus, priceman, m16eib, JesseCW

          is to some extent what the popular culture thinks of as "conservative." The original liberal was Mr. Invisible Hand himself, Adam Smith, and all his other radical free market advocates back in the 1800s.

          So "neo-liberal" has nothing to do with liberal in the commonly used sense, and everything to do with ideologues who believe in supply-side, free market (though only if it privileges big business -- usually small business can go suck an egg) solutions.

          Sadly, Obama is one of those, as is the DLC and most of the Blue Dogs. They're neoliberals, which from a political ideological sense, is the most accurate label. You're welcome to call them "conservatives," but then that would confuse people who associate radical pirate capitalist libertarian and social "conservative" (cough) religious right Repugs. They're not the same.

      •  I agree (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JesseCW, tote

        A lot of people actually are proud of being called "conservative", and I'm not talking about Sean Hannity, either.  A lot of people link "family values" with the term conservative, and don't even think about economics.

        Like it or not, this is what we're dealing with.  A lot of the difference-making people needed to win elections are not getting into Harvard.

    •  The major points rebutted. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      priceman, JesseCW
      Neo-liberalism, as defined, is simply the modern American Conservative movement.

      Neoliberalism is an attempt to preserve the profit rate in an era of declining global growth through the apotheosis of the free market.  The American conservative movement represents far more than that, although the conservatives have for the most part embraced neoliberal economic policy.  The American conservative movement has also existed long before neoliberalism, which gained its first shoots in an academic sense with the first Mont Pelerin Society meeting in 1947, and took control of its first government with the reactionary coup in Chile in 1973.  

      President Obama's record: it is decidedly NOT within the framework of your definition of neo-liberalism.

      Um, no.  Completing the Bush bailout of the banks in an attempt to re-establish the casino economy of 2006?  A "health-insurance reform" bill that enshrines private insurers without serious cost controls?  "Finance reform" that leaves the casino economy intact?  "Extend and pretend" programs for the foreclosure crisis?  Free trade agreements?

      As Jamie Peck tells us in "Constructions of Neoliberal Reason":

      Once neoliberals themselves had their hands on the levers of power, so they were to find -- repeatedly -- that markets would fail, that bubbles would burst, that deregulation would descend into overreach, that privatization would make monopolies.  They were thus drawn into the murky world of market-oriented "governance," the purgatory in which they have been destined to well ever since.  If there is an enduring logic to neoliberalization, it does not follow the pristine path of rolling market liberalization and competitive convergence; it is one of repeated, prosaic, and often botched efforts to fix markets, to build quasi-markets, and to repair market failures.  Neoliberalization, in this sense, is not the antithesis of regulation, it is a self-contradictory form of regulation-in-denial. (xiii)

      Your method is to say, "look, Obama is not following some pristine path of rolling market liberalization, therefore he's not a neoliberal," when the other observers can point to several instances of where the apotheosis of the free market guides Obama's decisions anyway.

      "In any event, it is safe to assume that the ends of capitalism will be as unprecedented as everything else about it has been." -- Gopal Balakrishnan

      by Cassiodorus on Fri Aug 19, 2011 at 01:18:31 PM PDT

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      •  No way...no how (0+ / 0-)

        When you say:

        "although the conservatives have for the most part embraced neoliberal economic policy"

        I don't disagree - except your qualifier, "for the most" is wrong. They have embraced it, full bore, period.

        "Completing the Bush bailout" is simplistic, reductionist thinking. Bush and Obama handled what both believed to be a necessary bailout (and I do, too, and so did and does Krugman, by the way - no neo-liberal he) very differently, with President Obama's team demanding accountability for the money (and thus getting most of it back) and fighting to institute caps on salaries and bonuses for bailed-out corporations, something Bush didn't do at all and something the GOP battled against tooth and nail. Ask Feinberg.

        As for the rest, PPACA was decidedly NOT neo-liberal, despite your errant descriptors and framing, and neither was Dodd-Frank...unless you want to argue that Elizabeth Warren is a neo-liberal, too. How can creating a regulatory body that puts restrictions and regulations on a previously wild-west industry (finance) be neo-liberal?

        How can a law which regulates recission, pre-existing conditions, yearly caps, lifetime caps, expands age eligibility, mandates % of money regarding profits and gives great power to governors to oversea, investigate and deny premium hikes be considered neo-liberal?

        And again, Elizabeth Warren is a neo-liberal?
        Want to make that argument?

        Your response is making my point in my second comment above: you're PRETENDING that you're being betrayed by a few Republican plant/neo-liberal/whatever folks because that's easier than recognizing the reality that there is no voting majority, not even close, for the things you consider "true" liberal.

        What you have going on in Washington isn't neo-liberal; it's a fight between ultra conservative and moderate liberal. And moderate liberal is decidedly NOT neo-liberal, given the definitions provided here.

        •  Feh to you too. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JesseCW, m16eib
          Bush and Obama handled what both believed to be a necessary bailout (and I do, too, and so did and does Krugman, by the way - no neo-liberal he) very differently, with President Obama's team demanding accountability for the money (and thus getting most of it back)

          Necessary if you believe in the sanctity of the capitalist system.  And there was a symbolic return of the money, and a much larger gift, as bobswern's diaries point out well.  "Giving the money back"?

          As for the rest, PPACA was decidedly NOT neo-liberal, despite your errant descriptors and framing, and neither was Dodd-Frank...unless you want to argue that Elizabeth Warren is a neo-liberal, too.

          The government could have opened what was in fact an unreal pseudo-market (with "private entities" preserved to milk profits from the system and keep costs up) to the possibility of "Medicare for all" or even for a public option (given the White House need to press for a mandate).  But PPACA was about "preserving markets" against the doom accurately predicted for the health care "market" in John Geyman's Do Not Resuscitate.

          Dodd-Frank allows the casino economy to continue.  As Kevin Drum says:

          Dodd-Frank hasn't taken full effect yet — nor have new capital requirements — but this is an ominous sign anyway. In the long run, if banks end up as profitable as they were before the law was passed, it almost certainly means that dangerous behavior really hasn't been reined in significantly. In other words, despite the astonishing display of self-pitying doomsaying from Wall Street, nothing much has changed at all. As Felix Salmon said to me at lunch a few weeks ago, when we were talking about which segment of the financial industry was likely to cause trouble in the future (hedge funds? private equity? some brand new hidey hole in the shadow banking system?), "Banks are the new banks." Banks caused the last crisis, and they're all set to cause the next one too.
          And again, Elizabeth Warren is a neo-liberal?
          Want to make that argument?

          So Dodd and Frank are unnecessary, and Elizabeth Warren is the sole designer of finance reform under Obama?  Come again?  Or is Elizabeth Warren merely trying to make the best of the hand she was dealt?

          you're PRETENDING that you're being betrayed by a few Republican plant/neo-liberal/whatever folks because that's easier than recognizing the reality that there is no voting majority, not even close, for the things you consider "true" liberal.

          I am pretending nothing, and you impute everything to me without evidence.  Try sticking with what you know, instead of imagining that some iteration of the "Weak Obama" (or "Obama really wanted a public option") argument will rebut some argument which you think I've made.

          "In any event, it is safe to assume that the ends of capitalism will be as unprecedented as everything else about it has been." -- Gopal Balakrishnan

          by Cassiodorus on Fri Aug 19, 2011 at 02:39:48 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Whatever you say (0+ / 0-)

            So Warren, who loves Obama, was helpless against the forces that be? But of course, Obama, whom Warren loves, is betraying you.

            If everyone in Washington is as bad as you think they are, then there's no point to debate and message boards, because, heh, we're all screwed.

            Impressive, really.

            Watched Harry Markopolos on Bill Maher claiming that the SEC was 180 degrees different under Obama, chasing leads and chasing crooks. How'd that happen? By accident?

            And yeah, you've got the doomsday team calling everything out - easy to see how they work. I heard one guy railing against any trade deal with Panama, claiming that they are a tax haven, no questions asked, and won't help with investigations of the crooks who put money there.

            Sounded damning, until the host asked the guy, "Well, don't our rich do that now."
            "Well, yes"
            "And isn't there a provision in the trade agreement which would make Panama reveal the cheats when the government asks about them?"
            "Umm, well, yes, but, but, it's not strong enough."

            Typical.

            •  Any provisions to protect labor? (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Cassiodorus, JesseCW
              "And isn't there a provision in the trade agreement which would make Panama reveal the cheats when the government asks about them?"
              "Umm, well, yes, but, but, it's not strong enough."

              Or is it all only about what the money class elites want or need? And are the provisions to rein in the cheats strong enough to protect us from another Bush? The kind of administration that would purposely turn a blind eye to any corporate corruption or crimes of the elites? The kind of White house behavior that enabled the bankster failures by protecting the bankers from state prosecution with obscure laws from centuries past?

              Because they do have to be that strong. No more and no less.

              ePluribus Media
              Collaboration is contagious!

              by m16eib on Fri Aug 19, 2011 at 10:00:17 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  So, right now (0+ / 0-)

                there are NO ways for the government to get information on those off-shoring to Panama - the government there has a policy to say nothing.

                The trade agreement being pushed adds provisions whereby the government can get the information it would need to catch and prosecute the cheaters.

                And this, in your worldview, is a bad step?

                I just don't get it, sorry.

                •  Ok? (0+ / 0-)

                  But you have to work pretty hard not to get it. I was pretty darn clear exactly why the provision is probably as bogus and useless as a three dollar bill. Especially to the average American that does not hide money in other countries or like our jobs off shored for the benefit of a few elites.

                  Never mind how clear it is that even under a Dem admin. There is no honest effort to chase the crimes of the elite and it only gets worse under GOP admins.

                  And I do know a lot of rich people that pretzel up themselves to justify this kind of stuff in their own mnds so they can pretend there is little reason to feel bad about it.

                  How bad is an argument going when you turn to a free trade deal thinking it is a winning point in America? Think about that one.

                  ePluribus Media
                  Collaboration is contagious!

                  by m16eib on Sat Aug 20, 2011 at 09:05:57 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

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