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Interestingly, this itself is a lie

Neoliberalism is built on lies. For decades the deceit at its core has been ignored because it appeared to deliver prosperity. It does not any more. That is why everything is unravelling.

The biggest lie that neoliberalism promotes is that all value is created by private sector business, which claim is contrasted with a claim that government destroys value.

Given that, you know, I am a neoliberal I can tell you this is a lie.

Neoliberalism just says that sometimes markets work better than other systems, sometimes worse. Just like every other socioeconomic theory in fact – sometimes other things than markets work better than markets.

The only difference is in which things markets work better at. That’s it, there is no other.

So, apparently, a teacher working for a private school adds value. The same teacher in front of the same children in a state school would, apparently, not do so. The idea is obviously absurd, and yet is key to understanding neoliberal’s approach to public services, which is built on this lie.

That is entirely absurd which is why no neoliberal – no sentient being in fact – believes it.

This neoliberal lie has corrupted public services. Based on this claim it has come to be believed that there is no answer to any question that the state can supply. Instead, it is the private sector that must provide the solution to problems because that sector supposedly knows best.

Nope. The entire logical structure is only that we need to discuss which things the state – or any other formulation you want to think of – does better than markets. Up to and including the discussion of where we might want to adjust markets so that they do work better. We invent patents and copyright to deal with the public goods nature of new knowledge. Muse over carbon taxes, cap and trade and central bureaucratic direction as solutions to climate change. Ponder whether Individual Transferable Quotas or the Common Fisheries Policy is the correct answer to the commons problem of fish stocks. As it happens two of the three are best solved by the creation of artificial property rights and their exposure to markets, the third by Pigovian Taxation. None by bureaucratic or state action.

Other problems like private armies are better solved by state action.

Neoliberalism is simply asking the question, which horses for which courses?

The PPE scandal provided evidence of that. The civil service did know how to procure PPE legally. There were channels for doing so. But ministers chose to ignore those skills and available options: naked greed would, they claimed, motivate the delivery of the supplies they claimed the country desperately needed. They clearly did not. They just led to waste, abuse and outright corruption.

It is an amusement, isn’t it? The man who insists politics should run more of the economy is the one pointing out that politics causes waste, abuse and corruption.

24 thoughts on “Interestingly, this itself is a lie”

  1. “The civil service did know how to procure PPE legally. ”

    Yes, but not quickly………terribly sorry Winston, we can’t supply you any more Spitfires, all the forms haven’t been filled in correctly yet.

  2. IIRC ministers involvement in acquiring PPE – which l am prepared to accept was incompetent and corrupt- only happened because of the uselessness of NHS procurement.

    It’s pointless to accuse Spud of lying about neoliberalism, to him it just means ‘the baddies’.

  3. But givernments DO destroy value.

    The current mess that we are in can be laid at the feet of government – to decisions going back st least 25 years ago ( probably even further than that ).

  4. I’d also note that whenever the lefties do get the gov’t in charge of providing any good or service they also insist that it be illegal for anyone else to compete with them – such as the postal service in the U.S. Nothing says “we’re the best” like absolute terror of anyone else getting a chance to compete with you.

  5. Public Health England had a pandemic unit, it was supposed to maintain a massive stockpile of PPE to get the country over the initial stage of a pandemic. Sadly, most of it had time expired. That was a bit of a problem, it kicked off the whole need to panic buy something, anything, to cover the gap until production increased to cover demand. Bit of a mystery as to what actually happened to the pandemic units PPE funds. They also fucked up testing, because of course they did.

  6. Quote: “The civil service did know how to procure PPE legally.” /quote

    Did they? We keep on being told that it was wicked capitalists who provided sub-standard PPE which couldn’t be used. If it was not up to spec., then the contract would not have been fulfilled, no money for the supplier, huge loss for wicked capitalist.

    This has not happened. ISTM this is because the PPE ordered was no fit for purpose, but was delivered as specified. The blame must lie with those specifying the PPE required: the public servants. Nice and legal, but useless.

  7. That is entirely absurd which is why no neoliberal – no sentient being in fact – believes it.

    Dunno, my spidey sentience tells me that an “education” that produces barely literate individuals who hate themselves, their sexuality, their history, their culture, their country, their civilisation, their species and their very existence – has no overall positive value.

  8. Dennis, Gold Medalist In Unnecessary Snark

    Failure rages against imaginary enemies…

    It must be *checks notes* Tuesday.

  9. But ministers chose to ignore those skills and available options: naked greed would, they claimed, motivate the delivery of the supplies they claimed the country desperately needed.

    Note the ‘they’ I have emphasised. Almost as though the Spud wasn’t joining in the chorus of “Oh my God, we’re all going to die!!1one” without masks for everyone.

  10. Eddy

    I don’t doubt that you are right. It is the sort if dtupid thing that happens in the health system. But how can non organic objects like masks, aprons and gloves have a use-by date ( if stored properly) ?

  11. The last 200 years has provided a greater, by orders of magnitude, improvement in quality of life across the globe but because it might not be increasing as fast he wants us to throw it all away and go back to the systems that have been nothing but abject failures.

  12. Is this the train set we’re always hearing about? He’s got his heating turned down, then.

    No – spudrail is operating a full timetable, a strike was averted as the minister for spudrail nipped over to the photocopier and printed out a 25% pay rise and granted a 4 day week. To do anything else would be neoliberal fascism

  13. Ottokring
    I don’t doubt that you are right. It is the sort if stupid thing that happens in the health system. But how can non organic objects like masks, aprons and gloves have a use-by date ( if stored properly) ?

    It was the plastic items that had degraded. Given the amount of PPE that gets used, it makes sense that they are biodegradable. Of course they should be used well before this happens. How PHE shipped out expired items is a mystery, there was remarkably little curiosity in the media over it. I suspect that the people involved assumed there would never be a pandemic and acted accordingly. So, no one cared that the stock had expired.

  14. I’m a bit late to this (busy day at the ‘office’) but here goes:

    We need an integrated NHS, run by regional health authorities responsible for integrated care across regions.

    And what happens when (as I’d expect to happen within a year) outcomes in more affluent areas surpass those in poorer areas? Will we need ‘further integration’?

    We need local education authorities to coordinate all education in an area.

    They proved remarkably inept at doing so in vast swathes of the country throughout the 1970s in an era when technology was vastly inferior to today. Does he seriously think that anyone is going to be happy with 70s educational setups today? Obviously in his world there won’t be a choice – that he considers this a positive thing speaks volumes about him

    We need nationalised railways, working as an integrated service.

    One needn’t wonder where his finding is coming from

    And we need nationalised utilities to underpin well-being with energy, water, post, broadband and buses back in state control to make sure, once again, that service comes first.

    I think what the current rash of strikes proves is that service comes a very distant last to employee wellbeing, idling and swinging the lead. Still, I’m sure it’ll all work out fine if he, a man with no understanding of any topic of substance, unable to avoid getting banned from pubs and who was incapable of taking either a undergrad degree or accountancy exams without walking out of the course or getting someone else to take those exams, takes the reigns?

    I half expect him to come out and say it’s a satire
    With ‘Merry Christmas’

  15. Eddy

    Thanks very much, now I understand. The dread word there is “biodegradable” rather than “flammable”.

  16. I can see where the idea comes from that all value is created by the private sector. It’s a good starting point, but there are many exceptions. For a bus service, for example, if it creates value (presumably for the passengers), it can be run at a profit by charging fares. However, if it is intended to serve a social purpose, it may make a loss and need to be funded by taxation. (Though a hotel might provide a free shuttle bus for its guests as it profits indirectly). However, a police service provides benefit to everyone in a community. Each burglar caught protects everyone, but the value created by this cannot be directly collected, so funding for the police must come from taxation.

    The criterion for whether government funding is needed even though the product creates value is whether the value created can be paid for by the recipients of that value. Education is a typical case. The student gets the benefit, but it is a benefit which generates value over such a long time period it is impractical to collect. Most private school fees are not paid by the students, but by their parents. Even university education really struggles with fees as the payback period is so long that market feedback is very poor.

    And, of course, if you see a government funded service which delivers its value to its users, then you can generally assume it is (net) destroying value unless it is maintained by ideology – otherwise why add the risk of the customers not getting what they want?

    @Ottokring – “how can non organic objects like masks, aprons and gloves have a use-by date”

    Non-organic objects are quite prone to deterioration – it’s just that we have a biased view because organic processes produc most of the novel items we see and unstable items are rare unless frequently created as they have disappeared. An iron nail is non-organic, but will quickly rust. Since oxygen is highly corrosive, lots of other substances also degrade simply by exposure to air – that’s why we have technologies like painting to slow the effects. In the case of PPE, gloves may be latex (organic) and masks may have latex straps. But in addition to the product itself, the container might degrade. For medical PPE it is usually important that they start off sterile, so a leaky container would be a problem. And with medical PPE some faults might be obvious (the glove tears when you try to put it on), but others might not (it no longer provides a barrier to infection), so they are tested against standards – such as EN455 for gloves. Testing only assesses expected lifetime to a reasonable limit, because it would be too expensive to ensure products still worked over longer limits and it is assumed that there is no reason to keep the products for very long periods – only a fool would stockpile a huge amount and not rotate the stock.

  17. I think the PPE stockpile management people were fools. They didn’t rotate the stock, and the state functionaries are trying to pin the blame on those who supplied PPE in an emergency. If the state functionaries do not protect their colleagues there will be those who question why we had a multi-billion stockpile that rotted away and why that is a good use of our taxes. And that might lead to state functionaries being unemployed.

  18. On the stock rotation thing, they shouldn’t have been holding time expired stock. Stock keeping costs money. It would be normal practise to include contingency stock in the the stock rotation cycle. So the budget will not only be items used but contingency stock replaced.
    In other words the whole thing was f**king bad management.

  19. Why not pay fishermen not to fish?

    《The last 200 years has provided a greater, by orders of magnitude, improvement in quality of life across the globe》

    Does Jason Hickel expose this neoliberal lie?

    《we know that during periods of enclosure and dispossession under colonialism and early industrialization, the livelihoods and provisioning of ordinary people was often severely constrained even in cases where GDP was rising. This violent history gets obscured》

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