Read time: 4 minutes

C&L Opening Bell: The Need For Alternative Economic Thinking

So a week or so ago, Freddie deBoer wrote a widely-cited post bemoaning the lack of an actual pro-labor left among most widely read liberal blogs. Instead what we have is mostly a neoliberal consensus that supports many of the same things that

bell.jpg
So a week or so ago, Freddie deBoer wrote a widely-cited post bemoaning the lack of an actual pro-labor left among most widely read liberal blogs. Instead what we have is mostly a neoliberal consensus that supports many of the same things that neoliberal presidents such as Bill Clinton and Barack Obama support: Free trade, an interventionist foreign policy and public-private "partnerships" such as the 2010 health care bill that outsources what should be a public good (health care) to private entities (insurance companies). Deregulation of the financial services industry was until recently a staple of this ideology, but it's fallen out of vogue for extremely obvious reasons.

Michael Lind has a very good breakdown of neoliberalism and its grip on the leaderships of the both Republicans and Democrats:

Neoliberals continue to believe that at home governments should provide basic public goods like infrastructure, healthcare and security by "market-friendly" methods, which in practice means vouchers, tax incentives or government contracts for for-profit corporations. Because trade by definition is supposed to be a force for progress, neoliberals see little role for government in trade beyond promoting trade liberalization, providing a business-friendly infrastructure and educating citizens to equip them to compete in the supposed global labor market of tomorrow.

That's not to say there aren't differences between Republican neoliberals and Democratic neoliberals. For instance, Republican neoliberals believe that rich people are magical wealth-creating leprechauns who must be fawned over and showered with tax cuts and free money from the Federal Reserve lest they get sad and leave us all forever. Democratic neoliberals, on the other hand, believe that rich people are magical wealth-creating leprechauns who should be allowed to do whatever they want but who should also pay for slightly higher taxes so that the government can afford to do things like pave roads and whatnot. But despite these differences, you'll notice that both sects have a critical flaw in their thinking: That is, that rich people are magical wealth-creating leprechauns who should more or less be free to do whatever they want and that the only thing worth arguing about is their marginal tax rates.

The reason that this ideology has so much influence over both party establishments is screamingly obvious, i.e., "CREAM / Get th' money / dolla-dolla bill y'all." Take a look at the big brain on Evan Bayh for example:

In 2010, Sen. Evan Bayh retired. Part of the reason, he told me, was that the corrosive effect of money in politics had left his profession looking corrupt. "You want to be engaged in an honorable line of work," Bayh said, "but they look at us like we're worse than used-car salesmen."

On Friday, Bayh announced that he was joining Apollo Global Management, a private-equity megafirm, as "a senior adviser with responsibility for public policy." Something tells me that this isn't going to vastly improve the way Americans think about their politicians.

It ain't, but that's not the point. The point is, well, money, cash, hoes, money, cash, hoes, etc.

Jon Chait says that he's not too worried about the fact that there isn't much of an actual left in America to stir up s--- for workers' rights, presumably because he's been to France and he knows what a pain in the ass it can be to go to the Louvre and have the whole impressionist wing closed off because the workers are on strike.

But maybe, just maybe, left-wing ideas should have more influence in this country. Why? Because the essential neoliberal insight that rich people are magical wealth-generating leprechauns hasn't done us all that much good. Mostly because of stuff like this (click to enlarge):

inequality1.jpg

See that? The top 10% of income earners now have a greater share of national income than they did in the run up to the Great Depression.

There's also this:

inequality2.jpg

Since the '70s real wages for most people in this country have remained flat while wages for the well-off have gone up significantly. It's tough to argue for trickle-down economics when the money isn't trickling down very much.

My point is this: Yes, punching hippies can be fun. But maybe, just maybe, you should consider that hippies weren't the ones who decided that the United States should deregulate its financial sector or place the country into a state of permanent warfare. Because to me, those things are slightly more destructive to our national interest than someone listening to too many Phish bootlegs.

Comments

We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service (revised 3/17/2016) for information on our posting policy.