28 Matching Annotations
  1. Feb 2019
    1. Is the freedom of the individual served by neoliberalism? Centrality of the state for this freedom, which NL denies. “neoliberal thinkers deliberately sustain the fiction that ‘the market economy’ is a natural and spontaneous order that must be placed beyond politics … The question of how authority can be something other than domination and private power shaped the ideas and action of those who built the tradition of constitutional democracy in western societies from the 16th to the 20th centuries … basic needs were those that had to be met before the individual could practically enact the status of a free subject or person. It was such needs provision that made it possible for individuals to be both personally secure and to enjoy an equality of opportunity to develop as individuals free to discover their talents and gifts … the representation of market society as a spontaneous order is pitched to the punters while, within the tent of the doctrine’s initiates, it is fully understood that the state has to be both a strong state, and to be re-engineered in order to impose neoliberal institutional design.” YeatmanFreedom.pdf
    1. “Constitutional patriotism” means cultural pluralism: “a constitutional integration-policy is incompatible with the legal obligation upon immigrants of a different origin to subject their life-style to an all-inclusive majority culture. Rather, it demands the differentiation between a majority culture rooted in the country and a political culture embracing all citizens equally.” (reference)
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    1. As with neoliberalism more generally, New Public Management is invisible, part of a new “common sense” that has somehow become hegemonic, whereby the “entrepreneurial spirit” has infused the public sector, leading to “businesslike government”. As with the claims of neoliberalism more generally as to its positive outputs in terms of prosperity, NPM has never been shown to have been successful even in its own terms. NPM “introduced punishments and rewards to produce better services with lesser staff. Instead of having freed energies and creativity of employees formerly shackled by their bureaucratic turfs, NPM reforms have bound energies into theatrical audit performances at the cost of work and killed creativity in centralizing resources and hollowing out professional autonomy... Fundamental deprivation of the legitimacy of public employees . . .has traumatized many most-committed employees and driven others toward a Soviet-type double standard.” (Juha Siltala, New Public Management : The evidence-based worst practice?, Administration; Vol. 45, No. 4.; 2013 pp. 468-493) Sekera quotes Christopher Pollitt et al., who “after compiling a database of 518 studies of NPM in Europe, determined that “more than 90% of what are seen by experts as the most significant and relevant studies contain no data at all on outcomes” and that of the 10% that had outcomes information, only 44% of those, or 4% of the total, found any improvements in terms of outcomes.” But in the end, the point of NPM is less that of measureable outcomes, and more that of the ideological victory of turning the public and its good into customers exercising their “choices” (see tax revolt example in Duggan), along of course with the radical disempowering of public administration workers and their unions, instituting “cost savings” by cutting their real income and putting more and more of the public sector’s production directly into the profit-making market.
    2. Sekera says that “unsubstantiated axioms of mainstream economics have lent pseudo-scientific support” in (quoting James Galbraith) a “purposeful, systemic campaign by private interests to “suck the capacity from government and deplete it of the ability to govern.”
    3. “Academic capitalism”, as it has been called since 1997, is a growing phenomenon, linked by Slaughter and Rhoades in 2004 to the “corporatization of education”, which has taken us from a public goods paradigm to an "academic capitalism knowledge regime [that] values knowledge privatization and profit taking in which institutions, inventor faculty, and corporations have claims that come before those of the public".
    4. “Faced with declining tax revenues, counties and municipalities are turning over the operation of parts of the criminal justice system to private corporations that promise to provide legally mandated services at “no cost to taxpayers”. These companies then charge fees for these same services to individuals accused of crimes or on probation – fees higher than what states would charge for equivalent services, if they charge at all. Often already impoverished, those many who can’t pay the fees are now being imprisoned for debt.” “Contracting-out is a vast and growing part of the federal government. Contract spending mushroomed from $200 billion in 2000 to $530 billion in 2011. The total cost of federal contract employees is twice that of federal civil servants… The POGO study – Bad Business 55 … found that “billions of dollars [are] wasted on hiring contractors” based on “a misguided assumption that market economies enable contractors to be more cost efficient than the government. On average, contractors charged the federal government more than twice the amount it pays federal workers.”
    5. “Public performance measurement systems often have unfortunate or disastrous unintended consequences. Most recently, a pay-for-performance scheme at the Veterans Health Administration (V.A.) led to falsified wait-time records and care so delayed that, in some cases, patients died awaiting medical attention. Twenty-five years of studies have shown that “pay-for-performance” doesn’t work in either the public or private sector: such systems smother creativity, crowd out intrinsic motivation and invite gaming and generally fail to achieve intended results.”
    1. A commitment to conditionality lives at the intersection of economics and theology. It’s where lectures about the law of the marketplace meet sermons about what we must do to earn our way into heaven. Here, almost every human interaction, even among family members, is regarded as a kind of transaction.” “(Kids) shouldn’t be spared struggle and sacrifice”: underlying idea that others (blacks, women…) are getting “something for nothing”; “the undeserving” must go conspicuously unrewarded. “Without competition we would all be paid the same and people would get lazy.” – explicit link to inequality
    2. “Fury over the possibility that kids will get off too easy or feel too good about themselves seems to rest on three underlying values. The first is deprivation: Kids shouldn’t be spared struggle and sacrifice, regardless of the effects. The second value is scarcity: the belief that excellence, by definition, is something that not everyone can attain. No matter how well a group of students performs, only a few should get A’s. Otherwise we’re sanctioning “grade inflation” and mediocrity. To have high standards, there must always be losers. But it’s the third conviction that really ties everything together: an endorsement of conditionality. Children ought never to receive something desirable — a sum of money, a trophy, a commendation — unless they’ve done enough to merit it. They shouldn’t even be allowed to feel good about themselves without being able to point to tangible accomplishments. In this view, we have a moral obligation to reward the deserving and, equally important, make sure the undeserving go conspicuously unrewarded. Hence the anger over participation trophies. The losers mustn’t receive something that even looks like a reward.
    3. “rethinking competition itself and the belief that people can succeed only if others fail” “my intent is to probe the underlying cluster of mostly undefended beliefs about what life is like (awful), what teaches resilience (experiences with failure), what motivates people to excel (rewards) and what produces excellence (competition).”
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    1. The opposition of suburban whites to the welfare state (“entitlements”), beginning with the 1970s tax revolts (Burton rails at having to pay high school taxes and then see his son be forced to go to school in the inner city, and against “welfare freeloaders”), only intensified as the “hard-working” (white) “common man” in his orderly suburban family saw the New Deal dream evaporate. Burton declared in 1974: “I wanted to be somebody”, and in the economic environment symbolized by the oil price shock of that year, his identity became more and more at odds with the desire of the excluded in US society to also “be somebody”. By 1976, Burton had abandoned the Democratic party and the New Deal ethos, seeing in Ronald Reagan someone who could “deliver the nation out of its malaise”, with a reprise of Wallace’s “freshness, independence, backbone and scrappy spirit”. This is not a new story. It is rather a reflection of US history as a whole, where a frontier-spirit, classless liberalism is organically bound up with anti-democratic exclusion and an ethic of private responsibility. It is but one facet of American racialized, gendered neoliberalism.
    2. This is not the first time that the US “common man” has embraced populism. Who said the following? “What are the real issues that exist today in these United States? It is the trend of pseudointellectual government where a select elite group have written guidelines in bureaus and court decisions… looking down their noses at the average man on the street … the auto workers, … the little businessman…” (quoted in Cowie: http://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1919&context=articles) This was George Wallace, in 1972, the year he scored a victory in the Democratic primary in Michigan, due primarily to “working-class” opposition to school busing on the heels of white flight to the suburbs. His “populist” message of “anti-elitism”, “anti-crime” and anti-busing wasn’t openly racist, but that was its content. Dewey Burton, the young male symbol of the 1970s (white) working class followed for years by the US media (as told by Cowie, above) was not a racist in his personal attitudes, but his alienation from ossified New Deal politics within a Fordist economic model that provided “only” high-wage job security (and for fewer and fewer people) manifested itself in a form that is fairly indistinguishable from the suddenly new “revolt” of the white working class in the rust belt in 2016 – and this well before Fordism entered into its terminal crisis later in the 70s.
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    1. The worst consequence has been the weakening of public sector skills and the avoidance of necessary modernisation, which in turn has reduced the attractiveness of public service as a career for the most talented. Making the move towards creativity and flexibility for agile and knowledgeable government institutions is essential if economies are to be led to powerful and synergistic growth with increasing social benefits.” (Pérez)
    2. Abandoning the ‘command-and-control’ model of organisation has been part of the modernising paradigm shift experienced by companies in recent decades; little beyond the introduction of computers has taken place in governments in this respect. Instead, following a neoliberal recipe, the primary ‘new’ practice has been to outsource public services or to establish so-called ‘public–private partnerships’. This has been done in the name of efficiency, and under the assumption that the private sector knows best and will save the state money. In most cases, as Colin Crouch shows in his chapter in this volume, such expectations have not been fulfilled.42
    3. That context is also encompassing the behaviour of production companies, many of which have acquired the short-term profit expectations of the bubble years and are more engaged in stock buybacks, cost cutting, tax avoidance and quick deals than in R&D, training or other innovative activities with a longer-term horizon.36 As a result, massive amounts of money are sitting idle in the corporate world, in banks, financial companies and production ones. The longer this situation lasts, the harder and deeper the negative consequences on the economy and society
    4. finance learned to make doubtful innovations that do not create wealth but merely lead to differential inflation, where financial assets increase their value faster than salaries, to the detriment of workers and small productive businesses. Massive bailouts have allowed finance to remain unscathed and focused on short-term speculation, expecting high returns from such activities.
    5. “In spite of the high cost of rescuing the banks and the rising inequality across society revealed by the recession, the shrinking of the state has continued, led by the vain hope that markets will find a way of bringing a miraculous revival if left to themselves. History has shown that this is the wrong moment for that. Yet the current economic orthodoxy, incapable of explaining the crashes, holds on to an interpretation of how the economy functions that ignores the role of technology and the accumulated learning of the other social sciences. It has taken refuge in increasingly complex mathematical models, as if economics were more closely akin to physics. Worse still, these economists and many of their critics are still waging the ideological battles of the 1960s and 1980s, without realising that we are now in a completely different context—one that has more in common with the 1930s … If the advanced world governments stay on the current austerity path, they will wait forever for the market to do the right thing for growth and social well-being …

    1. “Neoliberalism is in the first instance a theory of political economic practices that proposes that human well-being can best be advanced by liberating individual entrepreneurial freedoms and skills within an institutional framework characterized by strong private property rights, free markets and free trade. The role of the state is to create and preserve an institutional framework appropriate to such practices. The state has to guarantee, for example, the quality and integrity of money. It must also set up those military, defence, police and legal structures and functions required to secure private property rights and to guarantee, by force if need be, the proper functioning of markets. Furthermore, if markets do not exist (in areas such as land, water, education, health care, social security, or environmental pollution) then they must be created, by state action if necessary. But beyond these tasks the state should not venture. State interventions in markets (once created) must be kept to a bare minimum because, according to the theory, the state cannot possibly possess enough information to second-guess market signals (prices) and because powerful interest groups will inevitably distort and bias state interventions (particularly in democracies) for their own benefit” (Harvey, D. (2005). A Brief History of Neoliberalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.).
    2. “Gramsci therefore concluded that political questions become ‘insoluble" when ‘disguised as cultural ones’” (Harvey) “Appeals to traditions and cultural values bulked large in all tif this. An open project around the restoration of economic power tb a small elite would probably not gain much popular support. But programmatic attempt to advance the cause of individual freedomis could appeal to a mass base and so disguise the drive to restoife class power.” (Harvey) The Republican Party “also appealed to the cultural nationalism of the white working classes and their besieged sense of moral righteousness (besieged because this class lived under conditions of chronic economic insecurity and felt excluded from many of the benefits that were being distributed through affirmative action and other state programmes). This political base could be mobilized through the positives of religion and cultural nationalism and negatively through coded, ü' not blatant, racism, homophobia, and anti- feminism. The problem was not capitalism and the neoliberaliza- tion of culture, but the ‘1iberals’ who had used excessive state power to provide for special groups (blacks, women, environ- mentalists, etc.). (Harvey)
    3. Structural adjustment and its results as another source of wealth transfers to US capitalists in the 1980s
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    1. “Constitutional patriotism”—as understood by those who originally put forward the idea and as understood in this essay—designates the idea that political attachment ought to center on the norms, the values and, more indirectly, the procedures of a liberal democratic constitution. Put differently, political allegiance is owed primarily neither to a national culture, as proponents of liberal nationalism have claimed, nor to “the worldwide community of human beings,” as, for instance, Martha Nussbaum’s conception of cosmopolitanism has it. Constitutional patriotism offers a vision distinct from both nationalism and cosmopolitanism, but also from republican patriotism as traditionally understood in, broadly speaking, the history of Euro-American political thought.” (Müller)




  2. Sep 2018