C'est nous qui brisons les barreaux des prisons, pour nos frères, La haine à nos trousses, et la faim qui nous pousse, la misère. Il y a des pays où les gens aux creux des lits font des rêves, Ici, nous, vois-tu, nous on marche et nous on tue nous on crève.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Crises in Neoliberalism

Neoliberalism is another name for free marker economic policies. The 'freedom' in question is not one for citizens, but for corporations, as neoliberalism has three fundamental aims, all convenient to business: lower taxes, lower input costs, and lower wages.

The other major pillar of neoliberal policy is deregulation. Again, this deregulation is more for capital than for citizens, and aims to remove barriers and restrictions on the way businesses operate. In this way, the 'invisible hand' of the market comes to the fore.

However, even the stooges of neoliberal, such as Thomas Friedman, have said that 'The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist'.

Different kinds of fists are being brought to bear behind different kinds of markets, both in Australia and across the world.

In Bolivia, the country's elite are threatening to take their bat and ball and go home, as the nation's wealthy seek autonomy from the rest of Bolivia. Money is not the only issue in this instance - the wealthy do not wish to be dominated by 'the Indians'.

The neoliberal policies of yet another US-backed dictatorial stooge, Mubarak, have led to ongoing strikes and protests for months in Egypt, ably reported by this blogger. In addition to strikes, Egypt has recently seen food riots, during which pictures of Mubarak were torn down by protesters. Sadly, free markets do not only provide no guarantee of affordable food, they provide no assurances of a free press: a broadcaster who televised the images of the torn posters is being charged.

In Australia, matters are far less dramatic, but important nonetheless.

In opposition to members, unions, and, most probably, much of NSW, the ALP Government is pushing ahead with plans to privatise electricity. Every ALP leader in the country, and every ALP leader since Hawke has been strongly in favour of neoliberal economic policies, despite the notional displays of support for social democracy brandished on the party's website. Carr and Keating have been vocal in their support of Iemma and the privatisation move. Keating clearly still has a sense of humour, referring to Iemma and Costa as a 'pair of honest souls'.

Meanwhile, in Victoria, the Government is headed for a larger-than-expected budget surplus, of $827.5 million according to George Megalogenis. This is despite a slowing economy, a huge population boom in Melbourne, and the ruinous neglect of the state's public services, which has seen industrial action from nurses, police, teachers, and now disability services workers, in just the last 6 months.

Business as usual, in other words.