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For decades, the United States and much of the developing world (especially those nations which are termed “emerging markets”) have followed the Neoliberal Dogma of Free Market Capitalism, by pushing through laws and policies under the assumption that markets work best when left to themselves without much governmental intervention. This line of thought is behind some of the most egregious assaults on Unions, the Working Class, and the Middle Class, who have seen stagnating wages and depleting incomes (in real terms) accompanied by humongous increases in the wealth of the 1% or those who “captured” the gains from the booming economies in the West and in the Asian hemispheres.
Indeed, the Neoliberal Consensus is what drove the astonishing rise in the fortunes of the Oligarchs in Russia, the Billionaires in China and India, and the Chaebols in South Korea along with the Neo Rich in Latin America. With Tax Cuts for the Rich, the Neoliberal policies ensured that the Rich Became Richer and the Poor Poorer, and with Limited Government, these policies eviscerated the Working Class. The cutbacks to the Welfare state meant that the Poor bore the brunt of this approach that was assiduously “pushed” since the 1970s and which found its most ardent supporters in Margaret Thatcher (the British Prime Minister) and Ronald Reagan, the President of the United States from 1980–88.
Neoliberalism also preaches what is known as Supply Side Economics and the Trickle Down Theory which are broadly aimed at increasing the wealth of the Top 1% with the stated assumption that this class of citizens would then invest their wealth in the economy, which in turn, would “trickle down” to the Middle and Lower ends of the Income and Wealth Pyramid. However, this is simply “bunk” as can be seen from the horrendous Inequality that pervades most of the world wherein Big Business and the Top 1% pay little or no taxes and in turn, “hoard” their wealth, whereas they “scream” whenever there is talk of raising the minimum wage.
Both Neoliberalism and Supply Side Economics have failed as ideologies and it is time for us to move beyond this paradigm and instead, focus on “genuine” prosperity for all. Moreover, with runaway Climate Change and the stupendous Social and Environmental Costs of Unfettered Capitalism, it is also a “moral” imperative for us to ditch these ideologies and find a way out. While some would howl at the mere mention of such thoughts, dismissing them as socialism, one might very well ask if what we have now is Socialism for the Rich and Capitalism for the Poor as can be seen from the massive “bailouts” of the Too Big To Fail Banks during the Great Recession of 2008.
While I do agree that Free Markets work well when left to themselves, I have a bone to pick when Neoliberal adherents say that Governmental Intervention should be limited. The reason being that as evidence shows, such interventions have only helped the Rich and not the Poor and hence, it is my argument if at all there is an Invisible Hand that Guides the Markets, it should be “steadied” from time to time and not merely to “skew it” towards favoring the Top 1%. Moreover, unrestrained corporations tend to form Monopolies and Oligopolies and not businesses that are “freely” competing with each other.
It is in this context that the Biden Harris Administrations’ policies aimed at dismantling the Reaganian policies should be welcomed by anyone who is concerned about the effects of Neoliberalism. Indeed, as news breaks about the Bipartisan Deal on Infrastructure, one heaves a sigh of relief at what can possibly become a “potent” weapon to address some of the most pressing problems of the nation. Moreover, the announcement of another package that would move alongside the Infrastructure Bill, and which is aimed at what are known as “human infrastructure” spending means that Biden has his Heart in the Right Place and it is time to begin discarding decades of wrongful thinking in the economic sphere.
One needs to remember that Economics is as much of a moral science as it is about wealth, and hence, what we need now is a “true” interpretation that aims to redress the wrongs of the last Five Decades. So, more power to Biden and hope he does not “falter” in his attempts to undo the gross imbalances and inequities and Make Americans Dream Again.