Friday, April 15, 2016

Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- George Monbiot discusses how neoliberal ideology has managed to take over as the default assumption in global governance - despite its disastrous and readily visible effects:
(T)he past four decades have been characterised by a transfer of wealth not only from the poor to the rich, but within the ranks of the wealthy: from those who make their money by producing new goods or services to those who make their money by controlling existing assets and harvesting rent, interest or capital gains. Earned income has been supplanted by unearned income.

Neoliberal policies are everywhere beset by market failures. Not only are the banks too big to fail, but so are the corporations now charged with delivering public services. As Tony Judt pointed out in Ill Fares the Land, Hayek forgot that vital national services cannot be allowed to collapse, which means that competition cannot run its course. Business takes the profits, the state keeps the risk.

The greater the failure, the more extreme the ideology becomes. Governments use neoliberal crises as both excuse and opportunity to cut taxes, privatise remaining public services, rip holes in the social safety net, deregulate corporations and re-regulate citizens. The self-hating state now sinks its teeth into every organ of the public sector.

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.
- And Mike Small highlights how privatization schemes are predictably enriching private contractors at the expense of the general public without delivering the promised services. 

- Steven Chase reports on the Libs' deceptive attempt to dodge responsibility for approving the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia. Alison succinctly links the sale to its known consequences, while Neil MacDonald points out that there's no difference at all between the Cons and Libs in their determination to push military exports at the expense of human rights. And both Michael Harris and the Globe and Mail's editorial board tear into the Libs for their hypocrisy and dishonesty.

- Meanwhile, Desmond Cole reminds us that Canadian torture victims are being met with utter contempt by the Trudeau Libs.

- Finally, Bruce Campbell writes that there's been virtually no progress on rail safety since the Lac-M├ęgantic disaster. And Mike De Souza notes that contrary to the spin of pipeline proponents, there's reason for concern that similar regulatory neglect and corporate greed connected to pipelines can result in damage on an equally large scale.

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