Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Explaining the Democratic Party and the UFT: Liberals and Neo-liberalism

https://youtu.be/GD5wa7duofo


There's something underlying the so-called populist reaction to impact of globalization, free markets, open borders, the loss of - or the movement of - jobs from industrialized nations to 3rd world. So we need to explore the concepts of liberalism and how it morphs into today's version, neo-liberalism.

The Clinton/Bernie battle can be boiled down into pro and anti neo-liberalism. 

I'm posting this as a way to dig down on some of the issues that tie our union to the Democratic Party even though it has morphed into the left flank of the Republican Party - so-called Rockefeller Republicans -- but even beyond. Obama and the Clintons and most Democrats today are examples as they have abandoned FDR''s New Deal piece by piece. Bernie on the other hand is a classic New Deal Democrat. Our own union while giving lip-service to New Deal ideals has gone along.

It is no accident that Richard Kahlenberg's "Albert Shanker, Tough Liberal" bio was backed by the union AND Deformer in chief Eli Broad. In our review of the book, Vera Pavone and I rebranded Shanker for what he was - Albert Shanker: Ruthless Neo-Con | New Politics

The bio was aiming to square the union's going along with ed deform as a positive classical liberal idea based on the 1960s concept of liberalism when in reality they were justifying neo-liberalism - the book emphasized Shanker's ties to both Reagan and the Clintons where the basics of ed deform were laid.
One of the tenets of NL: Reagan's "Government not the solution, but the problem." That private can do anything better than government.

Ed deform is the perfect example of neo-liberalism. Get rid of the public schools. Ed deform actually oozes out of every pore. Some elements of neo-liberlism - see if you recognize any in ed deform:
The main points of neo-liberalism include:


  1. THE RULE OF THE MARKET. Liberating "free" enterprise or private enterprise from any bonds imposed by the government (the state) no matter how much social damage this causes. Greater openness to international trade and investment, as in NAFTA. Reduce wages by de-unionizing workers and eliminating workers' rights that had been won over many years of struggle. No more price controls. All in all, total freedom of movement for capital, goods and services. To convince us this is good for us, they say "an unregulated market is the best way to increase economic growth, which will ultimately benefit everyone." It's like Reagan's "supply-side" and "trickle-down" economics -- but somehow the wealth didn't trickle down very much.
  2. CUTTING PUBLIC EXPENDITURE FOR SOCIAL SERVICES like education and health care. REDUCING THE SAFETY-NET FOR THE POOR, and even maintenance of roads, bridges, water supply -- again in the name of reducing government's role. Of course, they don't oppose government subsidies and tax benefits for business.
  3. DEREGULATION. Reduce government regulation of everything that could diminish profits, including protecting the environmentand safety on the job.
  4. PRIVATIZATION. Sell state-owned enterprises, goods and services to private investors. This includes banks, key industries, railroads, toll highways, electricity, schools, hospitals and even fresh water. Although usually done in the name of greater efficiency, which is often needed, privatization has mainly had the effect of concentrating wealth even more in a few hands and making the public pay even more for its needs.
  5. ELIMINATING THE CONCEPT OF "THE PUBLIC GOOD" or "COMMUNITY" and replacing it with "individual responsibility." Pressuring the poorest people in a society to find solutions to their lack of health care, education and social security all by themselves -- then blaming them, if they fail, as "lazy."
The NY Times buried the real lede when it slammed neo-liberalism without naming it in back to back pieces on privatization of public services.
In Neo-liberalism unions are attacked as being in restraint of the free market system. Individual teachers lose the right to negotiate their own contract especially if they are "better" than their colleagues. Contracts are bad.

Here are a few quick hits on some elements of classical liberalism:
 freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, free markets, civil rights, democratic societies, secular governments, and international cooperation.
Looks good - on the surface. Note the democratic societies - as long as they are not leftwing - but if right wing dictatorships it is OK to support them to stop the left. Note the free markets - globalization. Competition is a root of free markets, thus the appeal of charter schools.

Our union leadership has used its clout around the world to fight union that drift too far left - there is no class struggle in the ideology of the UFT/AFT.

Liberals are always charged with being pro-big government - the New Deal was classic - people out of work then the government will start programs to put people to work. With Reagan and Shanker's acceptance that government can not fix schools with the Nation at Risk 1983 report we were fast on the road to ed deform.

Brexit, Bernie and Trump have opened up a much needed discussion of so many issues. What happened and is happening in education is only part of the global neo-liberal assault and Brexit, Bernie and Trump is somewhat of a reaction. It is a mistake to brand the Trump and Brexit stuff as just racist anti-immigration and not something deeper.

For educators, especially here in NYC in the belly of the UFT/Unity beast, it is important to have a fundamental understanding of why UFT/Unity operates the way it does in support of so many neo-liberal concepts.

There is a tendency to lump people who might be termed progressives into one left-leaning bag -- liberals. Elements of the somewhat fluid left have disdain for and often make fun of liberals - who are mocked by the right too. Liberalism was THE progressive movement - in the 17th-19th century - before the rise of Marxism. The ones who brought down kings and created conditions leading to capitalism. Liberals love capitalism.

In school - high school and college in the 60s, liberals were painted as the good guys and I was proud to be one, especially when it came to civil rights.  When I began teaching and met people on the left I was surprised at their disdain for liberals. I retain a lot of liberalism in me

Phil Ochs' "Love Me I'm a Liberal" embodied these thoughts about hypocrisy on race.

The song fits some of my colleagues who deny that race is a factor and that any attempt to give one group that has suffered under racism is "unfair." They also tend to blame the victim - the kids. They operate under neo-liberal concepts without realizing it but when it comes to them as a teacher getting screwed they squawk about how unfair and want the contract enforced because they are personally involved. Like the teachers who ignored ATRs until they became one themselves while groups like ICE and TJC saw beyond personal issues and opposed the 2005 contract as a classic implementation of neo-liberal ideas applied to education.

Some people get confused by the terms of liberal and neo-liberal so I grabbed some Wiki definitions which in future posts can be referenced.
Liberalism is a political philosophy or worldview founded on ideas of liberty and equality.[1][2][3] Whereas classical liberalism emphasises the role of liberty, social liberalism stresses the importance of equality.[4] Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally they support ideas and programmes such as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, free markets, civil rights, democratic societies, secular governments, and international cooperation.[5][6][7][8][9][10][11]
Liberalism first became a distinct political movement during the Age of Enlightenment, when it became popular among philosophers and economists in the Western world. Liberalism rejected the prevailing social and political norms of hereditary privilege, state religion,absolute monarchy, and the Divine Right of Kings. The 17th-century philosopher John Locke is often credited with founding liberalism as a distinct philosophical tradition. Locke argued that each man has a natural right to life, liberty and property,[12] while adding that governments must not violate these rights based on the social contract. Liberals opposed traditional conservatism and sought to replace absolutism in government with representative democracy and the rule of law.
Neoliberalism (or sometimes neo-liberalism)[1] is a term which has been used since the 1950s,[2] but became more prevalent in its current meaning in the 1970s and '80s by scholars in a wide variety of social sciences[3] and critics[4] primarily in reference to the resurgence of 19th century ideas associated with laissez-faire economic liberalism.[5]:7 Its advocates avoid the term "neoliberal"; they support extensive economic liberalization policies such as privatization, fiscal austerity, deregulation, free trade, and reductions ingovernment spending in order to enhance the role of the private sector in the economy.[6][7][8][9][10][11][12] The implementation of neoliberal policies and the acceptance of neoliberal economic theories in the 1970s are seen by some academics as the root offinancialization, with the financial crisis of 2007–08 as one of the ultimate results.[13][14][15][16][17]


Neoliberalism is a policy model of social studies and economics that transfers control of economic factors to the private sector from the public sector. It takes from the basic principles of neoclassical economics, suggesting that governments must limit subsidies, make reforms to tax law in order to expand the tax base, reduce deficit spending, limit protectionism, and open markets up to trade. It also seeks to abolish fixed exchange rates, back deregulation, permit private property, and privatize businesses run by the state.
Liberalism, in economics, refers to a freeing of the economy by eliminating regulations and barriers that restrict what actors can do. Neoliberal policies aim for a laissez-faire approach to economic development.


Read more: Neoliberalism Definition | Investopedia http://www.investopedia.com/terms/n/neoliberalism.asp#ixzz4ChWkSKZa 
Follow us: Investopedia on Facebook



What is Neoliberalism?
A Brief Definition for Activists
by Elizabeth Martinez and Arnoldo GarciaNational Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights



"Neo-liberalism" is a set of economic policies that have become widespread during the last 25 years or so. Although the word is rarely heard in the United States, you can clearly see the effects of neo-liberalism here as the rich grow richer and the poor grow poorer.
"Liberalism" can refer to political, economic, or even religious ideas. In the U.S. political liberalism has been a strategy to prevent social conflict. It is presented to poor and working people as progressive compared to conservative or Rightwing. Economic liberalism is different. Conservative politicians who say they hate "liberals" -- meaning the political type -- have no real problem with economic liberalism, including neoliberalism.
"Neo" means we are talking about a new kind of liberalism. So what was the old kind? 
The liberal school of economics became famous in Europe when Adam Smith, an Scottish economist, published a book in 1776 called THE WEALTH OF NATIONS. He and others advocated the abolition of government intervention in economic matters. No restrictions on manufacturing, no barriers to commerce, no tariffs, he said; free trade was the best way for a nation's economy to develop. Such ideas were "liberal" in the sense of no controls. This application of individualism encouraged "free" enterprise," "free" competition -- which came to mean, free for the capitalists to make huge profits as they wished.
Economic liberalism prevailed in the United States through the 1800s and early 1900s. Then the Great Depression of the 1930s led an economist named John Maynard Keynes to a theory that challenged liberalism as the best policy for capitalists. He said, in essence, that full employment is necessary for capitalism to grow and it can be achieved only if governments and central banks intervene to increase employment. These ideas had much influence on President Roosevelt's New Deal -- which did improve life for many people. The belief that government should advance the common good became widely accepted.
But the capitalist crisis over the last 25 years, with its shrinking profit rates, inspired the corporate elite to revive economic liberalism. That's what makes it "neo" or new. Now, with the rapid globalization of the capitalist economy, we are seeing neo-liberalism on a global scale.
A memorable definition of this process came from Subcomandante Marcos at the Zapatista-sponsored Encuentro Intercontinental por la Humanidad y contra el Neo-liberalismo (Inter-continental Encounter for Humanity and Against Neo-liberalism) of August 1996 in Chiapas when he said: "what the Right offers is to turn the world into one big mall where they can buy Indians here, women there ...." and he might have added, children, immigrants, workers or even a whole country like Mexico."
The main points of neo-liberalism include:
  1. THE RULE OF THE MARKET. Liberating "free" enterprise or private enterprise from any bonds imposed by the government (the state) no matter how much social damage this causes. Greater openness to international trade and investment, as in NAFTA. Reduce wages by de-unionizing workers and eliminating workers' rights that had been won over many years of struggle. No more price controls. All in all, total freedom of movement for capital, goods and services. To convince us this is good for us, they say "an unregulated market is the best way to increase economic growth, which will ultimately benefit everyone." It's like Reagan's "supply-side" and "trickle-down" economics -- but somehow the wealth didn't trickle down very much.
  2. CUTTING PUBLIC EXPENDITURE FOR SOCIAL SERVICES like education and health care. REDUCING THE SAFETY-NET FOR THE POOR, and even maintenance of roads, bridges, water supply -- again in the name of reducing government's role. Of course, they don't oppose government subsidies and tax benefits for business.
  3. DEREGULATION. Reduce government regulation of everything that could diminsh profits, including protecting the environmentand safety on the job.
  4. PRIVATIZATION. Sell state-owned enterprises, goods and services to private investors. This includes banks, key industries, railroads, toll highways, electricity, schools, hospitals and even fresh water. Although usually done in the name of greater efficiency, which is often needed, privatization has mainly had the effect of concentrating wealth even more in a few hands and making the public pay even more for its needs.
  5. ELIMINATING THE CONCEPT OF "THE PUBLIC GOOD" or "COMMUNITY" and replacing it with "individual responsibility." Pressuring the poorest people in a society to find solutions to their lack of health care, education and social security all by themselves -- then blaming them, if they fail, as "lazy."
Around the world, neo-liberalism has been imposed by powerful financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank. It is raging all over Latin America. The first clear example of neo-liberalism at work came in Chile (with thanks to University of Chicago economist Milton Friedman), after the CIA-supported coup against the popularly elected Allende regime in 1973. Other countries followed, with some of the worst effects in Mexico where wages declined 40 to 50% in the first year of NAFTA while the cost of living rose by 80%. Over 20,000 small and medium businesses have failed and more than 1,000 state-owned enterprises have been privatized in Mexico. As one scholar said, "Neoliberalism means the neo-colonization of Latin America."
In the United States neo-liberalism is destroying welfare programs; attacking the rights of labor (including all immigrant workers); and cutbacking social programs. The Republican "Contract" on America is pure neo-liberalism. Its supporters are working hard to deny protection to children, youth, women, the planet itself -- and trying to trick us into acceptance by saying this will "get government off my back." The beneficiaries of neo-liberalism are a minority of the world's people. For the vast majority it brings even more suffering than before: suffering without the small, hard-won gains of the last 60 years, suffering without end.
Elizabeth Martinez is a longtime civil rights activist and author of several books, including "500 Years of Chicano History in Photographs." 

13101310Arnoldo Garcia is a member of the Oakland-based Comite Emiliano Zapata, affiliated to the National Commission for Democracy in Mexico. 

13101310Both writers attended the Intercontinental Encounter for Humanity and against Neoliberalism, held July 27 - August 3,1996, in La Realidad, Chiapas.

Here is another piece on NL:

If you think we're done with neoliberalism, think again



How they must bleed for us. In 2012, the world's 100 richest people became $241 billion richer. They are now worth $1.9 trillion: just a little less than the entire output of the United Kingdom.
This is not the result of chance. The rise in the fortunes of the super-rich is the direct result of policies. Here are a few: the reduction of tax rates and tax enforcement; governments' refusal to recoup a decent share of revenues from minerals and land; the privatisation of public assets and the creation of a toll-booth economy; wage liberalisation and the destruction of collective bargaining.
The policies that made the global monarchs so rich are the policies squeezing everyone else. This is not what the theory predicted. Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman and their disciples – in a thousand business schools, the IMF, the World Bank, the OECD and just about every modern government – have argued that the less governments tax the rich, defend workers and redistribute wealth, the more prosperous everyone will be. Any attempt to reduce inequality would damage the efficiency of the market, impeding the rising tide that lifts all boats. The apostles have conducted a 30-year global experiment, and the results are now in. Total failure.
Before I go on, I should point out that I don't believe perpetual economic growth is either sustainable or desirable. But if growth is your aim – an aim to which every government claims to subscribe – you couldn't make a bigger mess of it than by releasing the super-rich from the constraints of democracy.
Last year's annual report by the UN Conference on Trade and Developmentshould have been an obituary for the neoliberal model developed by Hayek and Friedman and their disciples. It shows unequivocally that their policies have created the opposite outcomes to those they predicted. As neoliberal policies (cutting taxes for the rich, privatising state assets, deregulating labour, reducing social security) began to bite from the 1980s onwards, growth rates started to fall and unemployment to rise.
The remarkable growth in the rich nations during the 50s, 60s and 70s was made possible by the destruction of the wealth and power of the elite, as a result of the 1930s depression and the second world war. Their embarrassment gave the other 99% an unprecedented chance to demand redistribution, state spending and social security, all of which stimulated demand.
Neoliberalism was an attempt to turn back these reforms. Lavishly funded by millionaires, its advocates were amazingly successful – politically. Economically they flopped.
Throughout the OECD countries taxation has become more regressive: the rich pay less, the poor pay more. The result, the neoliberals claimed, would be that economic efficiency and investment would rise, enriching everyone. The opposite occurred. As taxes on the rich and on business diminished, the spending power of both the state and poorer people fell, and demand contracted. The result was that investment rates declined, in step with companies' expectations of growth.
The neoliberals also insisted that unrestrained inequality in incomes and flexible wages would reduce unemployment. But throughout the rich world both inequality and unemployment have soared. The recent jump in unemployment in most developed countries – worse than in any previous recession of the past three decades – was preceded by the lowest level of wages as a share of GDP since the second world war. Bang goes the theory. It failed for the same obvious reason: low wages suppress demand, which suppresses employment.
As wages stagnated, people supplemented their income with debt. Rising debt fed the deregulated banks, with consequences of which we are all aware. The greater inequality becomes, the UN report finds, the less stable the economy and the lower its rates of growth. The policies with which neoliberal governments seek to reduce their deficits and stimulate their economies are counter-productive.
The impending reduction of the UK's top rate of income tax (from 50% to 45%) will not boost government revenue or private enterprise, but it will enrich the speculators who tanked the economy. Goldman Sachs and other banks are now thinking of delaying their bonus payments to take advantage of it. The welfare bill approved by parliament last week will not help to clear the deficit or stimulate employment: it will reduce demand, suppressing economic recovery. The same goes for the capping of public sector pay. "Relearning some old lessons about fairness and participation," the UN says, "is the only way to eventually overcome the crisis and pursue a path of sustainable economic development."
As I say, I have no dog in this race, except a belief that no one, in this sea of riches, should have to be poor. But staring dumbfounded at the lessons unlearned in Britain, Europe and the US, it strikes me that the entire structure of neoliberal thought is a fraud. The demands of the ultra-rich have been dressed up as sophisticated economic theory and applied regardless of the outcome. The complete failure of this world-scale experiment is no impediment to its repetition. This has nothing to do with economics. It has everything to do with power.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this post, I like this article about neo-liberalism-http://www.salon.com/2016/06/06/this_is_our_neoliberal_nightmare_hillary_clinton_donald_trump_and_why_the_market_and_the_wealthy_win_every_time/

    ReplyDelete

Comments are welcome. Irrelevant and abusive comments will be deleted, as will all commercial links. Comment moderation is on, so if your comment does not appear it is because I have not been at my computer (I do not do cell phone moderating).