So what has this neoliberalism ever done for us?
WHAT has neoliberalism done for us. So asks George Monbiot this morning. All this pandering to the rich, allowing offshoring, the hollowing out of all that was good and wondrous in the British economy. What good has it done he asks us:
The policies that made the global monarchs so rich are the policies squeezing everyone else. This is not what the theory predicted. Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman and their disciples – in a thousand business schools, the IMF, the World Bank, the OECD and just about every modern government – have argued that the less governments tax the rich, defend workers and redistribute wealth, the more prosperous everyone will be. Any attempt to reduce inequality would damage the efficiency of the market, impeding the rising tide that lifts all boats. The apostles have conducted a 30-year global experiment, and the results are now in. Total failure.
Total failure eh? Rather depends where you look really.
This neoliberalism thing is the same as this globalisation thing. And that seems to have worked out quite nicely. The world as a whole is between 40% and 60% richer than it was only 12 years ago.
Further, as we know our own living standards haven’t gone up that much. And as the figures also show, most of that growth has gone to hte poor of the world. Chinese wages have gone from $1,000 a year to $5,000 a year in those 12 years. Similar, if not quite so spectacular, things have been happening in India and Indonesia. Hell, even sub-Saharan Africa seems to be growing at 5, 5,5 % a year.
In fact, the past 30 years have seen the largest reduction in absolute poverty in the history of our entire species. Even to the point where global inequality is falling.
To be honest with you I cannot bring myself to call that “total failure”. That the formerly destitute now get three squares a day, the naked are clothed, the homeless housed. I call that a pretty good result actually: and I always thought that that was what everyone wanted to happen as well.