- George Monbiot reminds us that the mere fact that neoliberal economic theory has failed by any rational measure doesn't mean there won't still be plenty of well-funded efforts to promote it at the expense of social interests:
The policies that made the global monarchs so rich are the policies squeezing everyone else. This is not what the theory predicted. Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman and their disciples – in a thousand business schools, the IMF, the World Bank, the OECD and just about every modern government – have argued that the less governments tax the rich, defend workers and redistribute wealth, the more prosperous everyone will be. Any attempt to reduce inequality would damage the efficiency of the market, impeding the rising tide that lifts all boats. The apostles have conducted a 30-year global experiment, and the results are now in. Total failure.- Meanwhile, EKOS finds (PDF) that Canadians see income inequality as the most important issue facing our country - even as the Cons go out of their way to exacerbate it.
Throughout the OECD countries taxation has become more regressive: the rich pay less, the poor pay more. The result, the neoliberals claimed, would be that economic efficiency and investment would rise, enriching everyone. The opposite occurred. As taxes on the rich and on business diminished, the spending power of both the state and poorer people fell, and demand contracted. The result was that investment rates declined, in step with companies' expectations of growth.
The neoliberals also insisted that unrestrained inequality in incomes and flexible wages would reduce unemployment. But throughout the rich world both inequality and unemployment have soared. The recent jump in unemployment in most developed countries – worse than in any previous recession of the past three decades – was preceded by the lowest level of wages as a share of GDP since the second world war. Bang goes the theory. It failed for the same obvious reason: low wages suppress demand, which suppresses employment.
As wages stagnated, people supplemented their income with debt. Rising debt fed the deregulated banks, with consequences of which we are all aware. The greater inequality becomes, the UN report finds, the less stable the economy and the lower its rates of growth. The policies with which neoliberal governments seek to reduce their deficits and stimulate their economies are counter-productive.
I have no dog in this race, except a belief that no one, in this sea of riches, should have to be poor. But staring dumbfounded at the lessons unlearned in Britain, Europe and the US, it strikes me that the entire structure of neoliberal thought is a fraud. The demands of the ultra-rich have been dressed up as sophisticated economic theory and applied regardless of the outcome. The complete failure of this world-scale experiment is no impediment to its repetition. This has nothing to do with economics. It has everything to do with power.
- Dr. Dawg writes about the Ontario government's cynical attempt to use the cover of the "Honour of the Crown" as an excuse for running roughshod over First Nations. And Karl Nerenberg offers up a few different partial perspectives on the difficulties in trying to improve the well-being of First Nations - while hinting at the fact that the truth involves some appreciation of multiple barriers to improvement.
- Finally, both Jennifer Graham and Aaron Wherry discuss the NDP's Lethbridge Declaration process. But I'll suggest going directly to the source - as there are plenty of events coming up over the next few weeks.