Tag - economics

Never Let A Serious Book Go To Waste

Someone here at The Agonist once asked me to describe what this “neoliberalism” thingy I kept talking about was. So I rattled off the usual hot-button words like the Washington Consensus, the Chicago School of Economics, austerity, class-warfare, the Shock Doctrine etc. and then sputtered something along the lines of, “it’s like economic porn, you know it when you see it.”

Obviously, that was tongue in cheek, but at the same time an admission that it was actually pretty difficult to describe what neoliberalism is.

This two year-old conversation left me with one long-term brain nag.

Two weeks ago I was having a twitter conversation about the French historian/philosopher Michel Foucault. During the conversation an American intellectual and economic historian at the University of Notre Dame, Phillip Mirowski, came up. My interlocutor suggested I read his book on neoliberalism, “Never Let A Serious Crisis Go To Waste.” 

After the conversation ended I went to google books, read the first few pages and immediately ordered it from Amazon for next day delivery. (No, it was not available at any local bookstores, I called around first before I went to Amazon.)

All I can say is this: go get that book. It’s heavy. It’s profound. You’ll get bogged down in theory. You’ll have a hard time breathing the rarified air. You will have to work to read it. It’ll make you reach for the dictionary thirty times, as I have already done so. It makes demands on you. It is a book of serious scholarly criticism from the real Left. Filled with hilarious bon mots and aperçus as it is it’s the multiple explanations of just what neoliberalism is and the dissection of its intellectual provenance that finally puts into words that hitherto inchoate gut feeling I was sputtering on about two years ago. Trying to understand how Hayek and Friedman led to Bernanke and how Hayek and Friedman and Rand gave us Greenspan and so much more. It’s an historians connect-the-dots whodunit on just how our finance and banking and so-called “efficient markets” gifted us this hideously opaque, protean post-modern dystopia of self-made entrepreneurs instead of a republic of citizens.

Really, go get the book.

In The Long Run, We’re All Dead

Two quick takes.

Long term climate change: we’re fucked. It’s that simple. Plan accordingly.

Second, long term chart of economic growth, showing a reversion to the post-industrial revolution/era of colonialism norm:

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This chart proves to me the utter futility of even trying to get America back to it’s golden age in the late 60s. It’s not going to happen, barring another general war in Eurasia that devastates China, Russia and Western Europe. I don’t see that in the offing. So, what’s the solution?

We muddle through like humans always do.

The Deal: Various Responses

Zaid Jilani:

Because the payroll tax cut is expiring and the Make Work Pay tax cut is not coming back, most working Americans will also see a tax increase. The most galling thing is that 98 percent of Americans will actually see a larger tax increase than some of the richest Americans. Working with our friends at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, we compiled the following chart to demonstrate this:

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Why I gatecrashed David Hartnett’s dinner party

Adam Ramsey

(Originally posted by New Internationalist, republished under a Creative Commons license)

Last week, some friends and I burst in on a speech from the retired HMRC boss Dave Hartnett at a tax dodgers conference. The video of our action has since gone viral. Here’s why I did it:

I stood as a Green candidate in local elections last year. If I had bought dinner and drinks for a potential voter, I would have been breaking the law and I would have been disqualified. If you buy someone who has power over you nice things in the hope they will do you a favour, then this is bribery. It’s pretty simple. When people do it in developing countries, the British establishment rolls its eyes.

Dave Hartnett was, until the end of July, Britain’s senior tax collector. He was also the civil servant who was most wined and dined. You can choose to believe one of two things: either the senior tax man has the most scintillating, entertaining dinner table chat of everyone at Whitehall; or there’s something more sinister going on.  Read More