Thursday, July 06, 2017

The Fleecing of America (and Us Too).

When con artists named Thatcher, Reagan and Mulroney, sold us on the scam of neoliberalism, they promised us "new economy" jobs, plenty of them, at much higher wages than the "old economy" manufacturing jobs that were about to be offshored. It was all a big lie at least for the 99%, the proles.

The past three plus decades of neoliberalism have produced the economic and political rape of what had been our once robust and prosperous middle class. Much as I hate the metaphor, in this case we really did "drink the Kool-Aid."

Noah Smith writes in Bloomberg (!) about the "fleecing" of the Gen-X and Boomer middle class -- a class that is growing continuously smaller and poorer, thanks to "financial deregulation, tax cuts and a lax attitude toward consumer protection and antitrust."

The American middle-class was fleeced by "excessive fees paid to actively managed mutual funds, financial advisers, stockbrokers, pension fund managers and the like"; "6 percent real estate commissions"; high priced, underperforming American health care; "companies that went on to monopolize markets after spending millions convincing the government to allow their megamergers" and so on.

More importantly, the middle classes were never as rich as they believed themselves to be, because the realistic picture of the eventual worth of their homes and stock-holdings was never going to match the projections of hucksters who promised crazy returns and lasting comfort by liquidating these assets when old age and retirement arrived.

Gradually a consensus is emerging that we've been screwed over. It's hard to see how this ends.


Toby said...

From the get go neoliberalism was intended to fleece us. Reagan and Thatcher may have swallowed the Kool-Aid but Mulroney is smart enough to know what he was doing.

Pamela Mac Neil said...

The neoliberal fleecing is continuing under Trudeau. You're right, it's hard to see how this will end. As a side issue Mound, I knew nothing about neoliberalism until I started reading your posts. I've since then done a fair amount of reading and am continuing to do so, to understand it's meaning and what takes place and who benefits when policies that are neoliberal are implemented.

It's one thing to read your posts, it's another for you, in those posts, to have passed on knowledge that helps me to better understand the world. I believe that the greatest gift one human being can give to another is knowledge. Thank you!

Anonymous said... is with us and not going away without a fight...


The Mound of Sound said...

I can believe that the core elements of neoliberalism, such as deregulation and free market fundamentalism, will be difficult to dislodge because they still serve the interests of the emerging oligarchy. My sense is that North Americans in particular have been groomed, that is to say conditioned, to acquiesce to the neoliberal mantra in a process that's been with us for more than 30 years. While even the IMF and the World Bank now criticize the global trade regime as a failed ideology that undermines rather than strengthens societies, it persists in the terrific power of its supposed orthodoxy.

I'm persuaded that our path out from under neoliberalism rests in a revival of classical progressivism. Most people have a feeble grasp of the nature and principles of true progressivism. Many people are fond of labeling themselves progressives by virtue of nothing save not being on the edge of the far right. It's become a label, a mantle, almost devoid of any true meaning.

I'm planning to delve more deeply into the progressive philosophy this summer. I somehow managed to score a first edition of Charles Horne's 1907 book, "The meaning of modern life" which comprises some 40 essays by leading figures in the progressive movement at the turn of the last century. It's supposed to be an eye opener.

America has drifted into a plainly illiberal democracy as it transitions into an oligarchy or plutocracy. Because the vote has not yet been withdrawn or nullified I hope there's still time to restore liberal democracy as we knew it before the age of Reagan, Thatcher and Mulroney.

There are no quick fixes and there are no guarantees that democratic restoration will come to pass. My current view is that the road back begins with a series of steps including a legislated end to the corporate media cartel and the nurturing of a diversely held and wide ranging mass media, electoral reform and taking down inequality not just of wealth or income but foremost inequality of opportunity through secure health care, better access to advanced education and progressive taxation. I won't dwell on those remedies because I believe they're as obvious as they are imperative.

Troy Thomas said...

Those are pearls that were his eyes, Nothing of him that doth fade, But doth suffer a sea-change, into something rich and strange,...

Whatever will happen, will happen overnight. Millenial and Generation Y's resentment toward Boomer's policies will continue to grow, and as it does, new voting blocs will continue to form and shift voting patterns, especially as the Boomer's (never an especially politicaly active generation. The Boomers swung elections by their sheer numbers, effectively shutting Gen X right out of policy decisions) effect on elections continues to fade.

Of course, this may not be a good thing. It's times like these when leaders such as Lenin and Robespierre rise to power.

The bloc of Boomers fighting against the Neo-Liberal bloc was simply never large enough to swing change.

The Mound of Sound said...

Well done, Troy. Ding dong. Ding dong, bell. Yes, "The Tempest." It's been years, decades for me and centuries for Shakespeare. Can you imagine, were he somehow reconstituted today, what he might have penned? What if he'd collaborated with Dickens? The mind practically reels.

As always, Troy, thank you for your contributions. You would make an ideal national conscience if only we saw the need for that sort of position.