Ritchie’s definition of neoliberalism

The economic crisis we are now facing is the legacy of Thatcher and Reagan because they introduced into government the idea that whatever a politician does, however well-intentioned that action might be, they will always make matters worse in the economy. This is because government is never able, according to neoliberal thinking, to outperform the market, which will always, it says, allocate resources better and so increase human well-being more than government can.

Start out with a straw man why don’t you!

I hadn’t (given that I’ve not read the Curajus State) realised quite how barking Murphy’s position actually is.

I think we can take it as read that I (and my confreres at the ASI etc) are the very embodiment of this neoliberalism. We’re certainly portrayed that way by the Murphmonster himself. And I have to just, gently, point out that absolutely none of us at all actually think that way.

There are indeed people who think that government is always worse than markets but we tend to call them anarcho-capitalists rather then neoliberals.

We neoliberals most certainly believe that the State, government, does some thing better than the market does. Our only disagreement with those further to the left of us, ranging from the social democrats (ie, Wet Tories leftwards) to the out and out loons like Richard Seymour, is which things are better done by which actor?

I am, for example, entirely delighted that the market does not govern military affairs. We tried that and the Wars of the Roses were not a fun time for anyone.

Or to take a more detailed argument, the very existence of patents and copyrights is an admission that all markets all the time markets does not always work. They are a direct intervention into the free market as a result of the agreement that the public goods of innovation and invention are not best promoted by a purely free market approach.

For fuck’s sake, it was we neoliberals at the ASI who nurtured the idea of the London Congestion Charge for decades: it was, recall, originally invented by Alan Walters, Maggie’s economic representative on Earth.

And if you start, as the Murph does, with that sort of misunderstanding of the world around you then clearly and obviously your analysis of what to do next is going to be seriously lacking with reference to reality.

And it is a state that wants to hand control of one of the UK’s greatest achievements – the National Health Service – to the market so that we can copy the US healthcare model and double the cost of provision in exchange for worse healthcare outcomes

There is absolutely no one at all, not even one single person in the entire country, who recommends changing the NHS into something like the US healthcare system. Us radical neoliberals might be interested in something like the Singapore system (half the price and better than the NHS) and the weaker willed argue for something like the German or French. But there ain’t no bugger arguing for the US system.

See what I mean? His analysis is simply divorced from any relationship to reality. And forgive me but I’d not actually noticed quite how badly it was.

38 comments on “Ritchie’s definition of neoliberalism

  1. Like all on the left, he is a liar.

    He has to be, because the truth doesn’t fit his narrative or desires.

    Starts like this and, if allowed, ends with denouncing your parents and holding show trials.

  2. But there ain’t no bugger arguing for the US system.

    Be careful. All he needs to find is one nutter and he can then claim you are (deliberately and maliciously) lying. Remember, he has people who he panders to who believe him. Our only strength is consistent truth.

  3. You’ve done it again. You slip off the bottom of the list of people should be strung up on piano wire. Then you mention supporting the Congestion Charge & you’re back in the middle rankings.

  4. He must live in a permanent state of rage against the host of imaginary straw men he has created. This is someone who must absolutely never be allowed anywhere near the levers of power.

  5. bis,

    Then you mention supporting the Congestion Charge & you’re back in the middle rankings.

    The congestion charge is about allocation of scarce resources, same as car parking. There isn’t a better solution to the problem.

  6. @Tim Almond,

    Yes there is. Let the congestion happen. That likewise imposes a cost on those who seek to drive on the streets of central London, and they may choose to bear the cost or not. Better than pricing other people off the roads (and still imposing the time cost by making people queue up to pay the charge, have their employer incur internal costs greater than the charge itself for expenses claims if relevant).

  7. He has to demonise and dehumanise all his opponents as neo-liberals and neo-liberals as baby eating fascists so that his troops will be willing to go over the edge and fight. If he doesn’t he might find that some of them look at the enemy and think “hang on a minute, they’re just like us and, you know what, they may have a point”.

    Its a standard tactic in warfare and why else would he call his bonk the Courageous State if he didn’t see it as warfare?

  8. TIm
    It isn’t a solution to a problem. It doesn’t reduce congestion. Congestion is governed by the cost each individual participant experiences being involved in the congestion. In simple terms, if the journey takes more than X, it ‘s not worth doing. That cost is different to every participant.
    Given that the amount of road space is never going to meet needs at any acceptable level of charge, general congestion charging simply prioritises participants with more money, without reflecting:any other value in the journeys. A parent can’t afford to drive a sick child to Brompton Hospital but a Sloan can afford to drive to Kings Road to shop.
    I watched exactly this happen the week the Western Extension came in. Exactly the same traffic density from Kensington to Euston but the average value of the vehicles increased. The original CG area didn’t make any difference, either, Although the introduction period was masked by Ken’s fiddling the road works scheduling to magically increase carrying capacity coincident with CT Day.
    If you want to prioritise road use, you can prioritise certain sorts of users. Trying to do it by price just prioritises the wealthy

  9. Incidentally, I’m all in favour of being able to pay fees to queue-jump past the hoi polloi. At the airport, going up the Empire State Building, and so on. I have a serious problem with each little village and hamlet imposing its special fee or regulation to enter or pass through.

    It’s not just wrong to keep free people out of a place by this manner, it’s a pain in the fucking arse as a motorist. The rules of the road should be as similar as possible over as wide an area as possible, and paying for said roads should involve no additional effort to the motorist.

    In Europe, it is completely bananas fucking bonkers insane that we have abolished the border controls, only for each country to now set up a toll booth on the border selling stickers for the motorway. Absolute bloody nutcase. It’s equally insane for cities and towns to do the same. Maybe London is a unique case, but it’s still a dangerous precedent.

  10. To understand Congestion Charge, you have to look at the incidence. No business users pay it. The cost is borne by the customers. All business users are charged so it’s a level playing field. It’s businesses at the margins get pushed out, which tend to be small service providers to the less well off who can’t afford the added cost of the incidence.

  11. “Maybe London is a unique case [for congestion charge], but it’s still a dangerous precedent.”

    The people of Manchester told their politicians when to go when the Government a congestion charge made it a condition of getting extra funding

  12. Shared space schemes are a much better way of regulating congestion than a charge. They reduce the externalities of delay and pollution caused by doing nothing and have a civilising effect on road users behaviour.

  13. The congestion charge and the insouciance with which it treats the problem of pricing poorer people off the road, and the monopolistic racket of intellectual property which, with the possible exception of some pharma research, is an unnecessary tax on progress, are examples of the way bad conservatism has infiltrated liberalism, now that liberalism has had to seek refuge in the Conservative Party.

    Other than that, yes.

  14. PR
    As far as the ASI’s concerned in its embracing of congestion charging, it’s the conceit the observational aspect of economics can usefully translate into applied economics. Congested roads are indeed ‘priced’ by their users. Why they wanted to get involved in manipulating that price is beyond me. It’s a very complex ‘market’ best modeled by itself.

  15. But, just to add something in their favour;
    If instead of CG it had gone to user prioritising, we can be pretty sure the users prioritised would have been those who bribed the gatekeepers most effectively. Zil lanes etc.
    At least CT levels the bribery market.

  16. yes, he’s almost as bad as the straw man left erected by you (sometimes) and your commentators. see examples above.

    “Like all on the left, he is a liar.” Nice.

  17. Peter>

    “The congestion charge and the insouciance with which it treats the problem of pricing poorer people off the road”

    Hahahahahaha. In England? They’re already priced off the road.

    In any case, pricing poor people off the roads is the whole damn point. Driving into Central London in CC hours for anything other than business reasons which more than justify paying the charge is, at the very least, a frivolous luxury. It’s not just the scarcity of roads, but the scarcity of parking spaces as well. It makes complete sense to park outside the CC zone and take a cab, if you’re that way inclined.

  18. JamesV,

    “Let the congestion happen. That likewise imposes a cost on those who seek to drive on the streets of central London, and they may choose to bear the cost or not.”

    But you’re then subsidising the least efficient businesses (those that can sit all day in traffic jams) at the cost of the most efficient businesses.

    bloke in spain,
    “All business users are charged so it’s a level playing field. It’s businesses at the margins get pushed out, which tend to be small service providers to the less well off who can’t afford the added cost of the incidence.”

    Not so. A business developing software can place itself inside London or out. As can a brewery.

  19. “But you’re then subsidising the least efficient businesses (those that can sit all day in traffic jams) at the cost of the most efficient businesses.”
    Sorry James, but that doesn’t follow.
    Estate agents might be more efficient road users if you simply relate a salesman’s car journey to take a client to view a house against a plumber visiting the hose next door. Maybe £20K commission against £75 for a cistern valve. But estate agents can’t sell houses without working toilets. The natural pricing of congestion takes care of that very nicely because the cost to the estate agent of sitting in traffic is more than the plumber’s. So he takes the Tube. The plumber doesn’t have that option.
    So brewers & software developers can operate outside the CC area. So what? Take your house to a plumber, next time you need a cistern repaired. Save him the traveling.

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  21. Luis Enrique

    “Straw Men” coming from you…is fair enough.

    However, as someone who feels he as spent half his adult life being traduced (“You don’t favour the Euro?…that’s because you’re a little Englander bigot..and mad!!!”) I’m afraid these men are not all made of straw. Murphy is a chancer. He argues against himself within the same string. He will tell you what your case is even after you have told him clearly that it isn’t. Take a look at his recent exchange with Tim on CT incidence.

    So the facts are indeed with you my friend. However, for once I am happy to ignore facts and say I share Interested’s sentiment.

  22. So brewers & software developers can operate outside the CC area. So what?

    You earlier claimed that “All business users are charged so it’s a level playing field”, and you’re now saying that some businesses operate outside the CC area, from which the logical conclusion is that they are not charged.

    Simple question: which is it?

  23. Just noticed this wording:

    “But you’re then subsidising the least efficient businesses (those that can sit all day in traffic jams) at the cost of the most efficient businesses.” – Tim Almond

    Already it’s happened. Not taxing a sector of the public to tilt the market, is now “subsidising” that section. Interference is the default. Now London’s stuck with the stupid thing because abandoning it would no doubt be a “subsidy” for motorists.
    Sheesh”

  24. Tim A
    If they’re not operating inside the CCA they’re not required to pay CC. They’re not part of this discussion. Or do we include Rutland?

  25. bis,

    If they’re not operating inside the CCA they’re not required to pay CC. They’re not part of this discussion. Or do we include Rutland?

    Do you consider that businesses in Rutland are included in “all businesses? Yes or No?

  26. “If someone is not paying the correct market value for something, what is that but a subsidy?”
    What was the correct market value for driving in the CCA before the CCA?

    All business vehicles are indeed charged to enter.the CCA. Even if the drive in from Rutland. But as the majority effect of the CCA is a little nearer to Hyde Park Corner I shouldn’t imagine it’s much of a topic in the pubs of Oakham. Likewise, it is a slightly different topic for residents & businesses based inside the CCA. Much of the cost being incident on them for a start. ie My last customers who were within the area who copped an £800+ supplement on their invoice.

  27. Luis, the leading lights in left wing politics and academia have always been dishonest, for one simple reason – they believe the end justiies the means.

    If the fact don’t fit, change the facts. If the people don’t see what’s good for them…

    At the lower end of the scale, they lie about basic economics to justify their lack of bog roll; at the upper end, they kill people in specs, or build walls and shoot them to stop them leaving.

    Whereas we’re a bit more individualist – if you want to leave, leave. You’re a grown man. You know the sort of thing.

  28. bloke in spain,

    “What was the correct market value for driving in the CCA before the CCA?”

    No idea. But as the price was zero, it was too low.

    I’m not saying it’s not too high either, or not refined enough, but on principle, congestion charging makes sense. Restaurants charge more on Friday nights than Tuesday nights because a lot more people want to dine on Fridays. Trains charge more at 7:30 than 9:30. It’s a way of regulating demand and maximising value of an asset.

    “Likewise, it is a slightly different topic for residents & businesses based inside the CCA. Much of the cost being incident on them for a start. ie My last customers who were within the area who copped an £800+ supplement on their invoice.”

    They want a bigger slice of the use of roads that are communal to them and their neighbours, they can pay their neighbours for it, which we do via the CCA which raises their tax, but gets spent on their neighbours in services.

  29. bloke in spain: “Not taxing a sector of the public to tilt the market, is now “subsidising” that section.”

    It is if the state is providing the facility and is charging below market value.

    You could, of course, completely eliminate the subsidy by privatising the roads and leaving the price to the market. I suspect it would be a fair bit higher than the amount charged by the state.

  30. @ Tim Almond
    No, it was not zero. Two costs: time and money.
    Many years ago I lived in central London and decided, after a fairly brief, because the answer was so overwhelmingly obvious, cost-benefit analysis *not* to own a car and that, on the very few occasions when I should need one, to hire one. I was fairly young so I could walk to work faster than using public transport (or driving and finding a legitimate parking space and then walking from my notional car) and the tube worked pretty well. Even for those with a car treating depreciation and insurance as a “sunk cost”, petrol and car parking charges combined exceeded the cost of public transport.

  31. Tim, you are overcomplicating it, Murphy Richards has it absolutely spot on over at the justice for taxes network, reading both that blog and Ritchie I think you can boil the definition down as follows:

    Anyone who disagrees with me = neoliberal troll

  32. To understand Murphy’s way of interpreting the world, a little story…..

    On day, when out for a walk in Hyde Park, Richard Murphy was surprised to see George Osborne standing on the banks of the Serpentine. His surprise grew to astonishment as Osborne calmly walked out on the surface of the water and crossed over to the other side. Richard scurried home as fast as his little fat legs could take him. He knew he had to write a blog about this amazing sight. And so he sat down and began with his title “Here’s the proof that GEORGE OSBORNE CAN’T SWIM”.

  33. @Paul, the state is not providing anything that we haven’t paid for (usually over the odds).

    You’re paying tax on petrol all the time your car is switched on, so to say that one does not pay anything is wrong.

    And as BIS points out, not paying a tax is not the same as being subsidised.

  34. @Tim
    ” It’s a way of regulating demand and maximising value of an asset.”
    There ya go! You’ve just hit on why congestion charging doesn’t work. It doesn’t maximise the value of the asset.
    Before the CC the players are maximising the asset, each assessing whether cost of the journey in time & inconvenience exceeds the value of the journey. Add the CC & you do indeed increase the cost of the journey. But you don’t eliminate that other cost/benefit decision. For each journey the CC prices off the road, another journey – was on the minus side of the cost/benefit equation- moves to the plus side. Because the CC price is less than the benefit of the journey. This continues to happen until the CC is raised to a price no player will occupy freed road space. Probably a politically unacceptable level. Central London roads would be used by only wealthy individuals & prices of goods & services would be much higher.

    CC was one of those “Something must be done. This something.” decisions. Plus a Murphyesque; “if a thing can be taxed, it should be taxed”. Neither of which I’d presume the ASI stood for.

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