Sunday, January 25, 2015

Neo-Liberalism: The Undying Monster

                                                http://www.horror-movies.ca/

Neo-Liberalism came to Canada long before Stephen Harper came to Ottawa. It was ushered into public policy by Brian Mulroney, who privatised crown corporations like Air Canada and Petro Canada. Jean Chretien and Paul Martin contributed to its juggernaut by signing NAFTA and by introducing fiscal restraint.

But Donald Gurstin argues in his book, Harperism: How Stephen Harper And His Think Tank Colleagues Have Transformed Canada, that neo-liberalism's entrenchment in this country is the result of the long hard work of organizations like the Fraser Institute, the Frontier Centre and the Macdoanld-Laurier Institute:

As of this writing in mid-2014, a tightly knit, smoothly operating neo-liberal propaganda system has been installed in Canada. The foundations of wealthy businessmen, corporations, and individuals are investing more than $26 million a year in neo-liberal think-tanks and single-issue advocacy organizations. (This figure doesn’t include Calgary’s School of Public Policy, whose financial statements are buried within the university’s accounts.) The long-term goal is to discredit government as a vital institution and to champion market alternatives.

As a result of the massing on the right, the political space is crowded with a seemingly endless flow of studies, reports and commentaries supporting neoliberal perspectives. Of course, people are not automatons who blindly internalize these messages. But gradually, and especially as a result of constant repetition, some ideas rise to prominence, while others fade away. People are presented with a changing set of ideas from which they must make selections to make sense of their world: economic freedom and school choice are unqualified good things; the tax burden is burdensome and requires relief; government is inefficient because it harbours bloated bureaucracies and overpaid public employees; the private sector is hobbled by red tape; and so on.

As a result of the constant drumbeat from the Right, neo-liberal ideas have assumed the status of axioms; and they made Stephen Harper's success appear inevitable. The damage has been catastrophic:

He’s hobbled government’s long-standing social-democratic obligations by slashing revenues to their lowest levels — in relation to the size of the economy — they’ve been at in fifty years, when the state first implemented its major social programs. One estimate pegs Harper’s tax cuts at $45 billion a year in foregone revenues. With total revenues at about $250 billion, that’s nearly a 20 per cent cut. Call it privatization by default. If there’s not enough money in the public coffers to finance health care, post-secondary education and rising old age security needs, they will have to be provided by the private or voluntary sectors or by individuals.

But Mr. Harper's success was never inevitable. It has only been possible because the Right has understood what Goebbels meant by the Big Lie. If you repeat a lie often enough, people will assume that it is true.

The Great Recession should have proven that neo-liberalism was a Big Lie. But, thanks to the think tanks, it keeps re-appearing -- like Frankenstein's monster in those old Universal sequels.

22 comments:

bcwaterboy said...

Those ideas peddled by neo-liberal thinking are really at the core of all of this mess and at least these ideas are now coming up in conversation. The conditions that created the 08--09 meltdown are still very much at play and as we've seen with stock market volatility, it's literally hanging by a thread. A jobless, debt ridden economic model and dwindling consumer buying power will not sustain the "profits" that corporations have enjoyed at the exponential rates they've been seeing. However, the system has been rigged to benefit the wealthy class that controls it and that's really all that matters to those who tout that market forces are all that's at play. Unfortunately, we've been duped, and big time.

Owen Gray said...

We have truly been duped, waterboy. And our prime minister is a super duper.

Pamela Mac Neil said...

The secrecy with which Harper is implementing his neo-liberal policies Owen is jaw dropping. More then anything , I fear that Harper will get another majority through deceit and fraud. I think he is capable of anything and I mean anything to stay in power.

Anonymous said...

"And our prime minister is a super duper."

Good one Owen.

(Google CAPTCHA making me blind)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w1FLZPFI3jc

Owen Gray said...

A terrific clip, Anon. Harper really is "Puttin' on the Ritz."

Owen Gray said...

Absolutely, Pam. As you say in your excellent post at Democracy Under Fire, Harper and his minions are what they hide.

ron wilton said...

Kinda' funny that not so long ago oil and all that entails, or should I say, oil and all it's entrails, was the be all and the end all(sorry Will) for the harpercons, and now their bleatings are that 'old queen oil' is nothing more than a minor drip in their grander scheme of things.

The ROC should take a lesson from us forlorn and ill begotten BC'rs who have scooped the dupe with open arms and open mouths for lo' these last so many years, but we maintain our faith in our dear leaders pipedreams and keep voting them back in.

We didn't hit the jackpot with our hydro sales to Arnie's Californy,but we did manage to rape our rivers and kill off most of our wild salmon.

We didn't hit the jackpot by replacing our wild salmon with the Norwegion lice infected mushy Atlantic replacements and we din't cash in on shipping our forests to China and closing all our mills so we wouldn't have to work anymore.

Don't despair ROC because we have our broody hen sitting on a giant bubble, er I mean nest, of LNG and if that doesn't blow us out of the water of insolvency, which by the way we can't drink anymore because of that fracking fracking, and we can't eat anymore because Californy's gone dry,And our damn dams are laid over our own food farms, but hey, we're not too worried because the big one's coming and we're so not ready but it'll be fun to watch, maybe.

PS: I wonder if the preemy knows you need a big red rooster to make those eggs viable and her big mentor cock in Odawa has been MIA in BC for a long, long time.

Oh well, we still have lots of coal if anybody cares.

Owen Gray said...

It's interesting that Harper hasn't spent much time in B.C, Ron. He must figure Christy will ride herd on voters and send them into his coral.

Anonymous said...

Harper doesn't spend much time in BC as, he knows he is hated. Ex BC Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell is Harper's favorite henchman. He is despised every bit as much as Harper is.

Campbell twice lied and cheated to win his elections as, his good buddy Harper did. Campbell's election lies. The BCR wasn't for sale and the HST wasn't on his radar either.

Harper and Campbell began selling Canada to Communist China, during Campbell's reign of terror in BC. Harper rewarded Campbell the post as, High Commissioner to the UK. Campbell does a lot of underhanded work for Harper.

Harper and Campbell are a pair of skunks and I shouldn't insult the skunks? The skunks smell far better than Campbell and Harper do.

Owen Gray said...

Birds of a feather, Anon.

Scotian said...

Owen re comment 9:43 am:

Gee thanks, now I have Harper and ABBA mixed in my head, I really didn't need that today...

(for those who miss what I am referring to, listen to a song by ABBA called super trooper, the rhyme caused my slightly fevered mind as I am less than well today to have Harper in full 70s classic image regalia doing the song, the horror, the HORROR...!)

Owen Gray said...

I suspect Harper dreams of being a super trooper, Scotian. But super duper is the best he can do.

Scotian said...

Owen:

Well his beams certainly never blinded me...I saw him for what he was all along unlike alas too many others.

Owen Gray said...

Unfortunately, Scotian, there are lots of others who can't see past the stuff that baffles brains.

Hugh said...

ISDS (investor-state dispute settlement) in NAFTA is why Eli Lilly is suing Canada for $500 million.

ISDS is also in CETA, China-FIPA and other so-called trade deals.

Hugh said...

Neo-Liberal Government keeps growing the debt. Debt doesn't matter, because it is measured as debt/GDP.

So all you have to do is keep growing the GDP, and the ratio stays the same.

Which is fine, if the Earth were to keep growing, infinitely.

Owen Gray said...

But the earth's resources are finite, Hugh -- something the neo-liberals completely ignore.

They refuse to see what they don't want to see.

Owen Gray said...

It's precisely the mechanism for privatizing everything, Hugh.

mogs moglio said...

You are comparing Harper with Lon Chaney? Lon had a far Superior Mind but if you are comparing Harper with Frankenstein I'd have to gloat that character also had a far superior mind um just thinking out loud...

Owen Gray said...

When there's money on the table, Mogs, people keep on trotting out the same tired story -- until there's no more money to be made.

Hugh said...

China's GDP growth reportedly has slowed to 7.3%. But that still means their GDP will double in 10 years. China's GDP doubling??? Ridiculous.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/china-third-quarter-gdp-slows-to-7-3-growth-1413857081

Owen Gray said...

It was economic growth which spurred Chinese interest in the oil sands, Hugh. One wonders if they're beginning to lose interest.