Neoliberals claim that we are best served by maximising market freedom and minimising the role of the state. The free market, left to its own devices, will deliver efficiency, choice and prosperity. The role of government should be confined to defence, protecting property, preventing monopolies and removing barriers to business. All other tasks would be better discharged by private enterprise.
And as a neoliberal I know these things.
What you\’ve described there is one form of libertarianism: not the same thing at all.
A neoliberal will readily admit that governments should do many more things than just those four.
We\’re entirely happy with the existence of a welfare state for example: just perhaps not the one we\’ve got. State involvement in education and health care is just lovely jubbly. Although we might argue that financing is the important role, not direct provision. We argue that there are indeed externalities which need to be corrected for: the ASI was a long term supporter of the London congestion charge for example. Currently argues for road pricing.
Climate change is an externality: I argue one that needs correcting for. It\’s true that I argue for an alteration to the market to solve it, via a carbon tax, rather than detailed regulation. But note that I\’ve not said that government has nothing to do with this.
Nor would I argue against subsidy to (if not, in some cases, direct provision of) public goods.
Neoliberalism differs from modern lefty type liberalism in only two important ways.
Firstly, we believe that the number of things that government is competent to deal with is rather smaller than lefty liberals seem to believe. We do thus argue that government should try to solve fewer problems: not because they\’re not problems but because we see them as not being solvable by the Man in Whitehall.
Secondly, we believe that market mechanisms (no, not markets unadorned, but market mechanisms as suitably tweaked) are often the best way to solve those problems that are amenable to a solution.
In short, you\’ve set up a strawman there and they are famously easy to fulminate agaionst. As you do.