- Martin Jacques writes about the inescapable failings of neoliberalism, along with the question of what alternative will come next:
(B)y historical standards, the neoliberal era has not had a particularly good track record. The most dynamic period of postwar western growth was that between the end of the war and the early 70s, the era of welfare capitalism and Keynesianism, when the growth rate was double that of the neoliberal period from 1980 to the present.- Philipp Lepenies reminds us of the dangers in evaluating an economy based solely on GDP rather than rather than measures of economic development which actually have a direct impact on people's lives. And Terry Etam takes a look at how the Alberta PCs' failure to understand the difference has left a mess for Rachel Notley to clean up.
But by far the most disastrous feature of the neoliberal period has been the huge growth in inequality. Until very recently, this had been virtually ignored. With extraordinary speed, however, it has emerged as one of, if not the most important political issue on both sides of the Atlantic, most dramatically in the US. It is, bar none, the issue that is driving the political discontent that is now engulfing the west. Given the statistical evidence, it is puzzling, shocking even, that it has been disregarded for so long; the explanation can only lie in the sheer extent of the hegemony of neoliberalism and its values.
...The hyper-globalisation era has been systematically stacked in favour of capital against labour: international trading agreements, drawn up in great secrecy, with business on the inside and the unions and citizens excluded, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) being but the latest examples; the politico-legal attack on the unions; the encouragement of large-scale immigration in both the US and Europe that helped to undermine the bargaining power of the domestic workforce; and the failure to retrain displaced workers in any meaningful way.
The neoliberal era is being undermined from two directions. First, if its record of economic growth has never been particularly strong, it is now dismal. Europe is barely larger than it was on the eve of the financial crisis in 2007; the United States has done better but even its growth has been anaemic. Economists such as Larry Summers believe that the prospect for the future is most likely one of secular stagnation.
Worse, because the recovery has been so weak and fragile, there is a widespread belief that another financial crisis may well beckon. In other words, the neoliberal era has delivered the west back into the kind of crisis-ridden world that we last experienced in the 1930s. With this background, it is hardly surprising that a majority in the west now believe their children will be worse off than they were. Second, those who have lost out in the neoliberal era are no longer prepared to acquiesce in their fate – they are increasingly in open revolt. We are witnessing the end of the neoliberal era.
- Seth Klein, Marc Jaccard and Clean Energy Canada are among the many looking at the B.C. Libs' new exercise in climate change deflection and procrastination (featuring backsliding from previous targets and a glaring lack of policy to meet the ones now put forward) as a cynical pre-election PR stunt.
- Courtney Bowman discusses the need for a meaningful effort to eliminate the over-incarceration of aboriginal people, while noting that the Wall government is slashing the resources needed for the task. And Michael Spratt notes that the federal Libs are looking at exacerbating the Cons' use of pointless mandatory minimum sentences.
- Finally, Kathryn Doyle reports on new research showing how food advertising affects children's eating habits.