Against “Neoliberalism”

orrery Where and when did what passes for the left swallow “neoliberalism” as the preferred word for “capitalism”?

This linguistic transition is a major case of C. Wright Mills’ liberal practicality, a.k.a. dunder-headed chickening-out by would-be lefties.

It is also a major vector of conceptual error and misdirection.

Not the least of such errors is the presumption that the word “neoliberalism” is “very common, recognizable.”

Balderdash. The word is certainly rampant in the sphere of what remains of the left, but we all know, or at least ought to know, how isolated and ignored we are. In the wider world, to use the term “neoliberalism” is to speak a foreign tongue, as well as to suggest that one’s ideas and claims are so confusing as to need their own special introductions.

Everybody drawing breath knows what capitalism is. “Neoliberalism,” meanwhile, always requires at least a long, convoluted paragraph of explanation as a preface to its further usage.

So, one has to ask: Are we trying to stay moribund?

And while we’re at it, pray tell: When was it that capitalists ever favored or pursued anything but the package of things that supposedly define “neoliberalism”? There remains the powerful, long-running liberal myth of the post-WWII Golden Age of caipitalist acceptance of equality and welfare state programs. That, however, is simply false history. At the level of overclass motives and policy prescriptions, there was then and is now nothing “neo” going in the boardrooms and the private jets.

The Reagan Restoration was — and remains — a real thing (even though it started under Carter), but redoubling is not invention, and laissez faire/free trade (the liberalism of the concept, as distinct from the newer, wider modern meaning as a tag for those who think capitalism isn’t perfect and needs some public correction) has never been the only, or even the main, practical essence of capitalism. The state, despite the ideology and the fake history, has always been right in there, and massively so.

This whole “neoliberalism” thing is, to lift a phrase from E.P. Thompson, an orrery of errors. The sooner we drop it in favor of simplicity, clarity, and directness, the better. Kind of like “consumer.”

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Not Sexism

rat pressing lever Big business marketers like to pretend they have social consciences, despite the world-historic immorality of their trade. One way they strike the pose is to prattle on about racial and gender diversity within their professional ranks.

Along the way, they often throw in suggestions that such concerns somehow validate what they do to those of us on the receiving end of their labors.

Consider this plaint from Scott Karambis, “VP of marketing and brand strategy at SapientNitro, a creative, brand and technology agency,” who adds this aside as he reports on his professional diversity travails in today’s edition of Ad Age:

“Women control roughly 85% of consumer purchases, yet 91% of women say advertisers don’t understand them.”

Mr. Karambis thinks this has to do with marketers’ sexism toward their target audiences. While sexism and racism in advertising are utterly foundational and remain core selling strategies, in this case, that 91% reaction is about something the Karambises of the world simply can’t admit to themselves.

Think about it: What percentage of men say advertisers don’t understand them? Despite mens’ comparative intellectual and attitudinal deficits, it’s undoubtedly very high, too.

And that is because advertising is manipulation, not a form of empathy or a genuine service. By definition, effective marketing is always a form of non-understanding, for the simple reason that corporate marketing exists to push people to do things that are not in their genuine interest.

Everybody but the diligent, self-admiring wheel-turners knows this.

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Obummercare in Action

Over 30 million residents of the United States are still uninsured, as planned by the architects of the Heritage Foundation’s successful plan for averting civilized behavior public, single-payer medical insurance.

Those few who gain insurance under RomneyObamacare generally gain shitty insurance with high “deductibles.” According to The Wall Street Journal:

“[T]he share of the population with high-deductible insurance plans has grown significantly since 2009. That year, around 22.5% of respondents had private coverage that required them to pay a larger share of their upfront coverage costs in exchange for a lower premium. In early 2014, some 36% had plans with an annual deductible of at least $1,250 for an individual or $2,500 for a family.”

And those who get this magical gift of terrible coverage for access to the unrestrained U.S. medical racket profession? Here they are in the Soviet pose that comes with their victimization ability to seek new insurance:

line for insurance

And the other big result of RomneyObamacare? Also as planned by Heritage, per today’s New York Times:

“[S]ince the Affordable Care Act was enacted in 2010, the relationship between the Obama administration and insurers has evolved into a powerful, mutually beneficial partnership that has been a boon to the nation’s largest private health plans and led to a profitable surge in their Medicaid enrollment.”

And they say planning can’t work…

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Liberals Can’t Read Graphs, Part 3

This research is exceedingly important. Yet, despite its overall quality and its stratospheric academic origins, it suffers from the de rigueur graphical illiteracy of modern liberalism.

Here is how the authors describe their findings in their own Executive Summary:

Wealth concentration has followed a U-shaped evolution over the last 100 years: It was high in the beginning of the twentieth century, fell from 1929 to 1978, and has continuously increased since then.

Here, meanwhile, is the author’s graph showing the wealth share of the richest 0.1% (one-tenth of one percent) of U.S. households:

Wealth Shares graph

click image for larger view

“Fell from 1929 to 1978″ is an extremely peculiar way of describing the movement of that line over those years. As any child can see, the line has two declines — a minor one from 1968 to 1978, and the only major one from, of course, from 1932 to 1949, years when corporate capitalism was first dying and then under public command. From 1949 to 1968, the line is entirely flat, meaning that the richest 0.1% was maintaining its customary share of (rapidly expanding) wealth.

To conclude, as the authors do, that “there was a substantial democratisation of wealth from the Great Depression to the late 1970s” is profoundly crude, if not intentionally misleading. The supposed golden years of welfare state liberalism were exactly 1949 through 1968. But, as these authors themselves show but cannot acknowledge, wealth was not democratized one iota over that stretch!

The plain fact is that, under corporate capitalism, only systemic crisis and/or public anti-capitalist intervention ever democratize wealth. That simple fact, of course, is publicly unmentionable in our market totalitarian society, organized as it is around the thesis that the rich can never be rich enough.

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The Humble Inventor

Keep this in mind as you watch the charades over net neutrality:

Of course, public mention of the existence of successful public enterprise is verboten in this market totalitarian society. So, even the rebels restrain themselves from it, as they fawn over feeble, 11th-hour less-than-half measures.

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