questioning the Reagan/Thatcher revolution

Not really a surprise, except that this is in a non-wonky general news article in the New York Times.

As I see it, the general idea of the 19800s neoliberalism Reagan and Thatcher expounded–following German philosophical and social thought of the first half of the 19th century (Hegel, Marx, Schopenhauer)–is that there is no such thing as a social/public good–meaning things that governments typically provide and use to justify their existence. Potable drinking water, for instance, or electricity, or transport or education. Better to let the private sector, which can do all of this much more efficiently, provide all that. If this is so, the most important role for government is to shrink itself, to reduce/remove regulations and cut taxes on the wealthy, clearing the way for entrepreneurs to do their thing.

There were initial successes, as entrepreneurs dragged US industry into the second half of the 20th century. And nearly half a century on, heavily government-protected industries like autos are still a mess.

On the other side of the ledger, though, real economic growth has shrunk to almost zero; we have Third-World roads, bridges and public transport; 20% of adults are functionally illiterate; book banning; private company-spawned opioid addiction; Clarence Thomas-like acceptance of lavish gifts from wealthy private “friends”…

One of the ironies in all this is that economics 101 says experience shows that as people get wealthier, they become increasingly risk-averse, so they’re the last people you should give extra money to if you want to provide economic stimulus.

Anyway, I think it’s interesting that counterrevolutionary thought appears to be in the air.

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