Why It’s a Distinction Without a Difference
by FRANKLIN C. SPINNEY
CounterPunch, 24 September 2012
My prediction: The eventual answer will turn out to be a distinction without a difference. Here’s why.
Both political parties and their candidates for President now accept neoliberal ideology as being the incontrovertible truth. This belief is more theological than scientific, because neoliberalism has a thirty year track record of not producing the high-paying jobs for the middle class its promisers say it will produce. Quite the reverse would be a more accurate description.
According to neoliberal dogma, the only way to stimulate the growth of high-paying jobs for Americans is to unleash the private sector by getting government off the back of business. Therefore, given this truism, the government’s economic purpose is simply to make it easier for the private sector to invest in productive capacity at home — or to use a popular but vacuous buzzword: to invest in the ‘supply side’ of the economy.
To this end, the neoliberal policy soup always includes a mix of tax cuts to the investor class, investment incentives and (de)regulations to make life easier for big business, and austerity economics by federal and state governments. Examples include regressive tax cuts, deregulation of oppressive externalities (like environmental protections), union busting (to make wages more flexible on the downside), wage stagnation (no increases in the minimum wage), policy incentives encouraging financialization to increase flexibility of the investor class (rescinding Glass-Steagall), and cutting deficits via offsetting cuts in Federal, State, Local government spending, especially social safety-net programs, while protecting defense production, etc.
After over thirty years of trying and failing to create high-wage, middle-class jobs with various mixes of neoliberal snake oil, one might think neoliberal economics would be an issue in the current campaign for president, particularly in view of the fact that each candidate is claiming only he can create jobs. The mismatch between past predictions and performance is mindboggling. Even a superficial look at economic data collected by the Bureau of Labour statistics suggest that the real world behaves very differently from that imagined by the high priests of neoliberal theology.
Phi Beta Iota: It is not helpful that both parties maintain that the unemployment rate is around 8% when it is in fact around 22.4%. When individual citizens with integrity can post more informed statistics than the government that pretends to be serving the public, a moral earthquake is underway that bodes ill for both the government and the public.