Thursday, May 6, 2010

Five Second ... Neoliberal Legacy

One of Sumner's best. Worth reading thoroughly, but here is the gist:

When I read liberal pundits, I often get the impression that they have no idea how much the neoliberal revolution has affected their worldview. ... Many younger and fairly rational progressives have the view that “of course sensible liberals have always favored a market economy, we just don’t support laissez-faire capitalism.” In fact, in the 1970s sensible liberals did not support a market economy, nor did sensible conservatives, nor did right-wing conservatives. Here is John Gray on the 1979 Thatcher election manifesto:

Thatcher did not begin with the full-blown neoliberal policy agenda with which she was later identified. There was no mention of privatisation in the 1979 election manifesto, which focused on reining in inflation and limiting the power of trade unions.

In 1979 the British government owned many of the large manufacturing firms in industries like autos and steel. Even a candidate as conservative as Thatcher dared not suggest that perhaps the government had better things to be doing than manufacturing cars....

We’ve come a long way. Right-wingers should not get too discouraged about the regulatory “reforms” being considered. Of course the crackdown on derivatives will probably do more harm than good, but the key point is that the harm it does will be trivial compared to the harm done by policies in the 1970s that even conservatives bought into.

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