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.