Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems

There has been a lot written in recent years about neoliberalism. Ralston Saul, Mirowski, Galbraith and many others have weighed in and the more you read the clearer the picture of how we were herded onto this path on a journey that's now decades old. Man, we've been had - big time.

If you're not up to speed on the neoliberal era and how we're still powerfully trapped within it, The Guardian's George Monbiot has a new book, "How Did We Get Into This Mess?"

So pervasive has neoliberalism become that we seldom even recognise it as an ideology. We appear to accept the proposition that this utopian, millenarian faith describes a neutral force; a kind of biological law, like Darwin’s theory of evolution. But the philosophy arose as a conscious attempt to reshape human life and shift the locus of power.

Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. It redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency. It maintains that “the market” delivers benefits that could never be achieved by planning.

The freedom that neoliberalism offers, which sounds so beguiling when expressed in general terms, turns out to mean freedom for the pike, not for the minnows.

Freedom from trade unions and collective bargaining means the freedom to suppress wages. Freedom from regulation means the freedom to poison rivers (external - login to view), endanger workers, charge iniquitous rates of interest and design exotic financial instruments. Freedom from tax means freedom from the distribution of wealth that lifts people out of poverty.

Where neoliberal policies cannot be imposed domestically, they are imposed internationally, through trade treaties incorporating “investor-state dispute settlement (external - login to view)”: offshore tribunals in which corporations can press for the removal of social and environmental protections. When parliaments have voted to restrict sales of cigarettes (external - login to view), protect water supplies from mining companies, freeze energy bills or prevent pharmaceutical firms from ripping off the state, corporations have sued, often successfully. Democracy is reduced to theatre.

Another paradox of neoliberalism is that universal competition relies upon universal quantification and comparison. The result is that workers, job-seekers and public services of every kind are subject to a pettifogging, stifling regime of assessment and monitoring, designed to identify the winners and punish the losers. The doctrine that Von Mises proposed would free us from the bureaucratic nightmare of central planning has instead created one.

The privatisation or marketisation of public services such as energy, water, trains, health, education, roads and prisons has enabled corporations to set up tollbooths in front of essential assets and charge rent, either to citizens or to government, for their use. Rent is another term for unearned income. When you pay an inflated price for a train ticket, only part of the fare compensates the operators for the money they spend on fuel, wages, rolling stock and other outlays. The rest reflects the fact that they have you over a barrel (external - login to view).


Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems | Books | The Guardian (external - login to view)
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Bunch of Bullsh!t by a clown that is little better than a communist.
Must be right if he's pissing off the sheep.
Curious Cdn
Funny. I just saw this same thread on an overseas, foreign forum just a few minutes ago. I should trade some of the posts back and forth to let each other know how people on different continents see this "scourge" of neoliberals.

Presumably, the old, old liberalism is okay, then? It's the "Neo" version that's going to bring an end to life on earth?
Last edited by Curious Cdn; Apr 15th, 2016 at 07:04 PM..
+1 / -1
The critics were right. Neoliberalism doesn't work. Got it. We've even got it from the brothel of neoliberal thought, the IMF that has spent decades administering toxic neoliberal tonics to poor nations, especially Third World nations, around the world often finishing off the job begun by the developed nations. Even the IMF now says that neoliberal policy was "oversold" and, instead of helping, fuels inequality and economic chaos.

Here's how Fortune Magazine describes the IMF and neoliberalism (link is external) (external - login to view):

Asking if the International Monetary Fund supports economic neoliberalism is like asking if the Pope is Catholic — the answer is so obvious it seems silly to even raise the question. The IMF has been one of the principle endorsers of neoliberalism—an ideology that promotes free markets, free trade, and small government—for decades.

So, what are we to make of this IMF mea culpa? Take it for what it is, an admission. An admission that they've been driving us down a dead end road. Then go back to what the learned economists and social historians have been telling us for so long. Start with Nobel laureate economist, Joe Stiglitz, whose grounding in the subject of inequality goes back to his PhD thesis. Read Phil Mirowski and James Galbraith. Read John Ralston Saul's dissection of globalism.

There are many scholarly works exploring, analyzing and dissecting neoliberalism in all its guises including its core elements such as free market fundamentalism and globalism.

It is a true Hydra, many-headed. It is not just an economic theory. It reaches right into the heart of governance and, especially, democracy. It creates a new order of power structures, economic and political. Given enough time and government collaboration it can transform democracy into oligarchy - even in the most powerful, notionally wealthy country on Earth. It is a stealth problem, operating out of the public eye, behind the scenes, under a veil of secrecy.

The damage of neoliberalism could never have been achieved had it been undertaken in the open, subjected to public scrutiny from the get-go. This stuff is always presented to us, usually by then a fait accompli, as an agreement between governments or groups of governments, the EU for example.

Yet the parties to these negotiations are public sector, governments, and private sector, corporations which today means transnationals. You know who doesn't get a seat at the table? That would be you. We have no place in this evolution of parallel powers, shared authority, this neoliberal partnership between government and corporate interests (see Ontario hydro) that can inevitably lead to something eerily resembling merger.

They even want their own courts, secret courts, Investor-State Dispute Settlement tribunals, to manage their squabbles out of sight. Out of our sight, out of our mind.*see TPP and TTIP)

Here's something to ponder. The United States worker, blue and white collar, has suffered about as much as any from the neoliberal era. Their once vibrant, prosperous middle class has been dismembered, limb by limb. Former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan even used a new, economic pejorative to define them. He called them the "precariat." (link is external) (external - login to view) The age of economic feudalism has arrived.

Now, do you think if you took America's Precariat, left it up to them, that they would choose to return to the economy of pre-Reagan America? Do you think they would choose to reverse the neoliberal decades of their decline? I think that would be a very safe bet.

Ten years ago when John Ralston Saul penned "The Collapse of Globalism," he pronounced the neoliberal age dead. Since then he's spoken of an "interregnum" or interval in which we're still stuck with neoliberalism mainly because we haven't imagined with what we'll replace it. We don't know what else to do.

There's a problem with our wallowing. Because neoliberalism harms far more people than it serves (that's the 99% versus 1% thing), the suffering it inflicts on the many breeds discontent and, eventually, unrest.

Is there an alternative? Yes but it won't be easy. My suggestion is that we embrace classic progressivism. Break the shackles of corporatism. Reconnect the state to the citizen. Reclaim sovereign powers that have been surrendered to the corporate sector and, yes, that means extracting ourselves from the tentacles of globalized free trade strictures. No new free trade deals. Gradually unwind the deals we're already in.

We can still be a trading nation. Absolutely. That doesn't mean we have to prostrate ourselves to the transnationals and pay tribute to them in the form of unfettered access to the one thing they need most, access to our markets. The way we surrendered access to our markets reminds me of nothing so much as the Natives who traded Manhattan for beads. We did it on the strength of a promise that, eventually, down the road, we would have our reward - more jobs, better wages. There was a reward, to be sure, only it didn't go to the people, the wage earning public. It went to the 1%, the people who control the transnationals, and it came through the "trickle up" economy.

All that Middle Class prosperity didn't evaporate. It went somewhere. Now where do you think it went?

Under successive neoliberal administrations in both Canada and the U.S., it has long been demonstrated that those occupying the upper echelons of our fractured societies are granted a myriad of benefits, not the least of which seems to be a virtual moratorium on prosecutions when wrongdoing is uncovered and proven. The fact that no one went to jail over the 2008 financial meltdown is but the most egregious example. Indeed, such is their power and arrogance that corporate executives were given bonuses (external - login to view) from the very bail-out money that taxpayers funded for those institutions and enterprises deemed "too big to fail." (external - login to view)

When there is punishment of any kind for malfeasance, it is usually just fines which the errant entity can then use as tax write-offs. (external - login to view)

When a Montana judge ordered Hyundai to pay $73 million in punitive damages last year to the families of two teenagers killed in a car crash, she found that the South Korean automaker had “recklessly” ignored scores of warnings over more than a decade about the steering defect blamed for the accident.

But even if Hyundai is eventually forced to pay the full amount of the damages, the punishment could be substantially reduced through a tax loophole that permits the company to save millions of dollars by deducting any court-ordered punitive damages as an ordinary business expense. The result, critics say, is that taxpayers are in effect subsidizing corporate misconduct.

“This tax loophole allows corporations to wreak havoc and then write it off as a cost of doing business,” said Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, who introduced a bill last month to outlaw the deductibility of punitive damages like the ones imposed on Hyundai.

“That undermines the whole point of punitive damages.”

Carmakers are far from the only companies that can exploit loopholes that allow them to lower their tax bill by deducting fines, forfeitures and other payments related to wrongdoing. Although the tax law forbids deductions for criminal fines and penalties owed to the government, other kinds of payments — to compensate victims or correct damages — are eligible for a tax deduction.

Although the strongest examples of special treatment can be found stateside, Canada has its own way of dealing with financial malfeasance that should anger all of us, reflective as it is of the neoliberalism that pervades our land.

Thanks to a joint investigation by The Toronto Star and The National Obsserver (external - login to view) , we have yet another example in the deeply offensive special treatment by Fintrac, (external - login to view) Canada’s money laundering and terrorist financing enforcement agency, of a major Canadian bank.
Canada’s money-laundering agency is refusing to name the bank hit with an unprecedented penalty for failing to report a suspicious transaction and committing hundreds of other violations in its dealings with a controversial client. Details of the failures — including one the agency described as “very serious”...

For nearly two years, the bank failed to report a series of unusual transactions in its client’s account, despite news reports at the time revealing he was under criminal investigation in the U.S. The transactions included dozens of large cash deposits and hundreds of international transfers worth more than $12 million, reveal the newly-released documents.
Despite the fact that the law (external - login to view)requires reporting of transaction amounting to 10,000 or more, from
early 2012 to the end of 2013, the unnamed bank processed 1,179 international electronic transfers of $10,000 or more from the mystery client, who used a “potential shell company” and operated out of an unnamed country associated with money laundering. It also accepted 45 cash deposits of $10,000 or more, all without ever reporting the transactions to Fintrac, Canada’s money laundering and terrorist financing enforcement agency, as required by law.
With some deductive sleuthing, the newspapers were able to determine that the individual involved in these transactions was
Manitoba online pharmacy entrepreneur Andrew Strempler, 42, who pleaded guilty to mail fraud charges in the U.S. after his shipments were found to contain counterfeit medication.
While Strembler served his time and was released in October of 2015, Fintrac has treated the bank, which, under existing law, it could name, to anonymity after levying a $1.15 million fine, certainly a modest penalty given what the law allows:
Anyone who knowingly fails to report a suspicious transaction to FINTRAC can face a $2 million fine and up to five years in prison, under Canadian legislation on money laundering and terrorism financing. The maximum administrative monetary penalty for the bank's hundreds of violations would have been $1.8 million, the documents said.
The original penalty was $1.5 million, but Fintrac reduced it after 'negotiating' with the bank, which argued that the harm done was minimal.

I beg to differ with its decision to protect a major bank's reputation. Flagrantly violating the law 1,225 times in this case is damaging both to confidence in our banking system annd deeply demoralizing to the average person's sense of fair play. As Christine Duhaime, a lawyer who specializes in anti-moneylaundering law says,
“Joe Average who is fined for any administrative infraction is not afforded secrecy in this way and the rules should apply to all Canadians, legal and natural personals, equally, from banks to Joe Average.”
Yet Fintrac somehow seems to feel that they have really brought down the hammer in this case:
Fintrac said Tuesday’s announcement is meant to deter others from failing to report.

But the bank’s name was not added to a list of violators published on the agency’s website (external - login to view). The home page shows the name of many smaller companies, such as jewelry stores, independent securities dealers and real estate brokerages.
Quite unapologetic, Fintrac, according to The Observer report, (external - login to view) feels it has done exemplary work in this case:
FINTRAC said it was trying to be discreet.

“The process has concluded and FINTRAC exercised its discretion not to name the entity so that we could send a timely message of deterrence to the 31,000 businesses that are subject to the Proceeds of Crime, Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing Act”.
I'm afraid that the only message Fintrac has managed to convey is confirmation that there is indeed one law for the 'giants' who walk among us, and quite another for the rest of us. It is far past time that this special understanding (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) between certain societal segments and the massive insult to the rest of us ended.
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Doesn't happen in Canada. Even overweight fines on commercial trucks are not tax deductible.
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Neoliberalism as described here is just part of the social engineering we have been subjected to the world over for the past several decades.
It definitely does NOT work! It goes against human nature. People can be forced into a certain way of life but they can't be forced to like it. That is why there is so much dissatisfaction and division in societies these days.
People are beginning to fight back. Note Brexit and the Trump victory. People want to be heard and to have the kind of lives they want, NOT what politicians tell us is good for us.
So picking on the 'little guy' while they keep the 'big guys' who commit fraud secret is okay at FINTRAC. Now I'm not on Facebook and will never win more than $10,000 at a casino because I don't go to them but this is still wrong. And what makes them think terrorist types are so shrewd that they will win more money for the cause at a Canadian casino......?

In January, CBC News revealed the Canada Revenue Agency has been scrutinizing the Facebook pages and other social media posts of Canadians who it suspects could be cheating on their taxes. CBC News has since learned that the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre has also filed a privacy impact assessment with Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien's office, listing social media posts as one of the things it checks when looking into complaints of fraud and scams.

Several types of transactions can trigger a report to FINTRAC. For example, receiving $10,000 or more in cash over the course of 24 hours can prompt further investigation, as can sending or receiving wire transfers of $10,000 or more in the same time frame.

A disbursement of $10,000 or more by a casino over 24 hours to a single person or entity is a trigger, as is any suspicious transaction "where a reporting entity knows that there is property in their possession or control that is owned or controlled by or on behalf of a terrorist or terrorist group."

Bercier said the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act gives FINTRAC the authority to collect publicly available information, including information from commercial databases, to sign agreements to access databases maintained by federal, provincial or foreign governments and to receive information provided voluntarily by law enforcement, intelligence agencies, security commissions, foreign financial intelligence units and the general public.

It is also authorized to enter into "information sharing agreements with foreign financial intelligence units."

If FINTRAC's analysis of transaction reports leads it to believe someone might be involved in money laundering or terrorist financing, it begins to dig further, including into the social media posts of those who may be involved in the transaction.

"FINTRAC uses information gathered from publicly available sources, including social media, in conjunction with other types of information it is authorized to receive or collect, to confirm the identity of people or entities that are the subject of its analysis," Bercier said.

"This information may also corroborate links between these subjects and their associates or entities (including corporations) that may also be involved in illicit activities."

However, privacy advocates have warned that just because information is publicly available doesn't mean that an individual has waived their privacy rights.

Money laundering watchdog scrutinizes Facebook, social media - Politics - CBC News
Quote: Originally Posted by tayView Post

[I][SIZE=2][FONT=Century Gothic]the ideology at the root of all our problems

What are your problems, and what is this new ideology!
Your problem is that you do not know what your problems are, and then you speak about the root of all your problems;
Your problems is because of your contradiction of God's religion: the exclusive devotion to God alone without associate or son or patron.

The problemous problem is that you don't know, and deviate from thinking in this way.

So it is the wrong ideology and the wrong practice .. the result is the mess the choas and the error; and people are roaming awkwardly in all countries of the earth .. this is the misguidance and complete loss.

Muslims, Christians, Jews and others all are erring and misguided in the present time, unless all people everywhere will resort to God's religion: the exclusive devotion to God alone without associate or son and believe then in all the heavenly books including the Glorious Quran .. or else complete loss and wandering about without mind.
Last edited by selfsame; Mar 12th, 2017 at 05:05 PM..

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