The Monitor, July/August 2023

Neoliberalism is like a zombie that won’t die
June 29, 2023
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Before it was an entrenched globalized system, it was an idea.

Neoliberalism is a term that we use to describe the system dreamt up by right-wing economists like Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman. Those thinkers, operating in an era of class-compromise social democracy and competition with communism, were proponents of an economy structured entirely around profit—one where the invisible hand of market incentives guided every social interaction.

Today, the lies that uphold neoliberalism are increasingly untenable. We know, clearly, that wealth does not trickle down, that breaking unions is bad for the working class, that corporations will not self-regulate, and that minimum wage increases are good for the economy. We know that government debt doesn’t behave like household debt.

Yet those lies persist, as a zombie version of themselves. Neoliberalism's proponents, for the most part, know that they are false, but they continue to put them forward anyway, because they're profitable. This issue of The Monitor is an attempt to tackle those myths and tropes, one by one. 

You'll find CCPA Senior Economist David Macdonald giving a point-by-point breakdown of why government debt and household debt aren't the same.

Craig Pickthorne and Ahmed Mezil look at the stereotypes we hold about minimum wage workers, and break down how those tropes are false. 

Alex Himelfarb looks at the premature declarations of the death of neoliberalism during the pandemic, and suggests ways we might make those declarations true.

David Macdonald and Jon Milton look at how consulting firms have captured governments at all levels and removed planning capacity from the public sector.

And youll find more than that, as well. We’re in something of an in-between stage, with an emerging consensus that neoliberalism failed, but without a system to replace it. We hope that the arguments you find in this edition of the Monitor will be a small contribution to nailing neoliberalism’s coffin shut—and making space for what comes next.