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Complete toss, of course


The economic crisis we are now facing is the legacy of Thatcher and Reagan because they introduced into government the neoliberal 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.

That’s not actually what neoliberalism is, at all. I do know, being a neoliberal.

There are things that only government can do. There are things that government can do. There are things that work better when done by government. Neoliberalism is, in essence, that government should only be doing the things that government does better. Plus, obviously, that larger set of things that both must be done and also can only be done by government.

That is, neoliberalism is an intensely pragamatic, not ideological, manner of governance. Use whatever’s the best tool to get the job done. Use a screwdriver on a screw, not a hammer.

If government’s the best method of empyting the bins then use government to empty the bins. If it’s not then don’t. If we need government to mandate that the bins must be emptied but leave the actual operation to the market then do that.

If private water companies – as in England – put less shit in the rivers at lower cost than government – in Scotland – or local councils – in NI – then use private water companies. If the reverse is true then do it the other way around.


There is no ideology here, it’s not an ideological argument. It’s a pure and intensely pragmatic one. What’s the best way to get this piece of shit done?

18 thoughts on “Complete toss, of course”

  1. I’m following this argument and saying to myself:
    “War on Drugs” – that’s something only a government can do, therefore we must have a war on drugs but
    “Temperance Movements and Just Say No” – that’s something a government can do but can also be done by getting out of the way, and letting parents, churches, Rowntrees and the rest do it.

  2. OT but a hoot.
    From the front page of the on-line Torygraph:
    The Tories are missing an opportunity to show voters what the party really stands for

    And that was in “Letters to the Editor” under the cartoon & not in the cartoon itself. Inexplicable.

  3. Inexplicable. Unless the post room of the Torygraph are currently opening letters delayed in the post & written in the late ’80s

  4. Martin Near The M25

    ” … the legacy of Thatcher and Reagan.” is there not going to be an expiry date on this? Will the ghost of Thatcher torment lefties forever?

  5. Will the ghost of Thatcher torment lefties forever?

    The blessed Saint Margaret will have to make space in lefty heads for The Donald too.

  6. What’s the opposite of neoliberalism?
    Is it if Fatcha and Ronnie had never existed than the world would be all right, Russia wouldn’t have invaded, domestic fascism would be going swimmingly, and we’d have sustainable cost accounting for cheap childcare, housing and energy.
    There’s got to be a one word antonym for neoliberalism. Something connected to Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm.

  7. It is totally untrue that either President Reagan or Mrs Thatcher believed that anything a politician does will make things worse. One may example the Air Traffic Controllers’ strike in the USA or the Privatisations in the UK that all, except the Water Companies, required an annual reduction in the charges to consumers (price controls of RPI-X)
    He doesn’t know what he is talking about (as usual)

  8. Bongo: What’s the opposite of neoliberalism?

    Strictly speaking it ought to be palæoliberalism, which called for the ritual immolation of Rinka the dog.

  9. @john77
    Yes, Blair ending RPI-X was yet another of his destroy UK policies

    RPI-X drove efficiency and productivity

    Now BT etc allowed to do nothing and keep increasing prices

    @Barry Troll
    Citing The National is akin to citing Pravda, BBC, CNN

  10. That citation that Scottish water is better is a letter from a member of the public to the National.
    Blooming Nora, the scientific method, asking ‘compared to what’ is being reduced to the absurd.

  11. @Barry Bailey: Is that true, or did you read it in The National?

    (Note for non-Scottish readers: The National is the house newspaper of the SNP).

  12. Spud finally admits it.

    “Limited liability is now the preserve of the free-loaders”

    As he is currently director of two companies and a member of two LLPs, he should know.

    Just as laughable is his ‘demand’ that such entities be properly capitalised. His two companies are limited by guarantee and his liability is limited to £1.

  13. Dear Barry, Posting a link to a letter from a member of the public printed in a newspaper is not proof of your assertion. Please try harder.

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