To the Editor:
For quite some time I have been hearing the word “neoliberalism.” I wondered about it, probably made some unwarranted assumptions about it, but let it slide for too long. Even as a neophyte, it is my suggestion that neoliberalism is a reality that all Americans should make an effort to understand.
Neoliberalism has been quietly “sourced” by individuals and organizations with whom we are all familiar: Milton Friedman, the Koch Brothers and other ultra-wealthy individuals, as well as former Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell, and organizations such as The Heritage Foundation, to name only a few.
Neoliberalism is not a new political party. It is also neither “new” (neo), nor “liberal.” Though entirely legal, it has been developed rather surreptitiously by a cadre of individuals who appear to be politically conservative and/or “libertarian.” It is most, though certainly not entirely, about economics.
For the past 40 or 50 years, neoliberalism has been rapidly and stealthily replacing the Keynesian economics that propelled the United States to its now eroding status as the world’s foremost economy and democracy. Broadly speaking, its basic tenet seems to be that the working of the marketplace is the most appropriate arbiter and judge of nearly all human endeavor and behavior. Anything, including human beings, that does not possess economic value is, in essence, of little or no value.
Neoliberalism has already accomplished much of the following: diminution of the American middle-class and of those aspiring to become middle-class; increased power for major corporations and their owners; the passage of Citizen’s United by the Supreme Court and its acquiescence to “dark money” in politics and to the idea that those who possess wealth are entitled to more democracy than others; the diminution of worker’s rights; the outsourcing of thousands of American jobs; the diminution of employee benefits; the diminution of labor unions; the rise of the “gig” economy; the efforts to “privatize” Social Security and Medicare; the efforts to privatize the USPS; the access of private industry into environmental areas that previously had been protected; the rise of our elected congresspeople into an elitist private socio-economic class of their own; the far too easy “back and forth” of corporate executives into and out of governmental positions; the privatization of prisons; the growth of the “swamp” and the growth of American Oligarchy. None of it has happened by accident.
Economics was once known as “the dismal science,” but neoliberalism seems not to be about science; it seems to be most about greed.
While it may well be premature to characterize neoliberalism as the unraveling of America, the America that it portends, for me at least, is frightening. There are books about neoliberalism as well as online presentations. Think about giving a listen to “This is Neoliberalism – Introducing the Invisible Ideology.” It can be found on YouTube.