With the recent release of the OECD report into inequality, My Thinks thought it imperative we delve further into this and get some clarification on neoliberal economics. Emeritus Professor Archibald Ineruditus, head of the Ayn Rand College at the University of George W Bush in Texas, has studied classic neoliberalism since it’s inception following a meeting between William Randolph Hurst and Satan, the Prince of Darkness, at the birth of Rupert Murdoch in the 1930s. Professor Ineruditus joined our interviewer by internet phone from his palatial home in the leafy suburbs of Austin.
My Thinks: Thanks for joining us professor.
Professor: My pleasure.
My Thinks: Let’s get straight into it. Do you feel, in the wake of the release of the OECD report into inequality, that classic neoliberalism is on the way out?
Professor: Great first question Mr Thinks. Like all neoliberal theorists, I’m actually going to answer a different question by saying the weather in Austin is fine, thanks for asking.
My Thinks: If I could ask you again, do you think that neoliberalism has had its day and western democracies are going to start bringing in other, more egalitarian forms of economic management.
Professor: Oh no. We have to remember that all western governments, be they Republican or Democrat, Tory or Labour, or whatever you have in New Zealand, are all totally funded by monies obtained from very rich people. Normal people and poor people don’t have the kind of money they can splash about on paying for political party membership. It’s a well-known fact.
My Thinks: You’ve been studying classic neoliberalism for years now. What would you say is its strongest feature?
Professor: Well… over my many years of study I would say definitely the strongest point of neoliberalism is its comprehensiveness. Everybody benefits. From those running the multinationals right through to the people who own the multinationals.
My Thinks: Is there anyone who doesn’t benefit.
Professor: Because of the trickle down effect, everybody benefits. The extra growth created from those higher income earners reinvesting their tax cuts into housing and their superannuation funds or other tax-free investment opportunities really does mean that the whole economy does really, really well.
My Thinks: How?
Professor: It’s hard to quantify in terms of actual money, but certainly there is a vibe that trickles down. I’ve been many, many poor people standing outside in the rain looking with excitement at my house and where I live (Thanks to the many grants I get from various think-tanks and business lobby groups I have certainly benefited from the trickle down effect in a monetary way). Anyway, when this vibe is pretty all-encompassing.
My Thinks: If you were to sum up neoliberalism as a list of key elements, what would they be?
Professor: Oh, excellent. You read the list of questions I emailed. The first tenant of neoliberalism is user-pays. All government services are user pays for every single citizen. If you use it, you pay. The only legitimate exception to this would be those people who are able to structure their finances in such a way as to appear poor despite owning several million dollars worth of stuff.
My Thinks: What else?
Professor: Just quickly. Small hands-off government. If we have too much red-tape and bureaucracy that will stifle growth. Private business will be given absolute freedom to develop and run themselves as they see fit. Public services, such as health, education and social services, will be micro-managed with the paper fist of bureaucracy. If we paid tax, that would be our tax dollars being wasted.
My Thinks: So trickle down, user pays and small government. Is there anything else that you would say defines neoliberalism.
Professor: Yes. It’s important to ignore any scientific or empirical evidence that proves your entire life’s work is a complete joke. If I was to accept any research into, say, the economic impacts of climate change or inequality, then I would have to reject all the hard work I have done for my wealthy benefactors since the 1980s. I would be utterly discredited and I would probably have to sell all my Harley Davidsons.
My Thinks: Really?
Professor: Yes. I own a fleet of Harley Davidsons. That’s why neoliberalism is so important to the economy, growth and the future of the world.
My Thinks: So you absolutely reject the OECD’s findings that inequality is actually hurting growth in economies who’ve adopted neoliberalism.
Professor: Totally. Anyway, everybody knows the OECD is full of hippies and anything they say is a joke.
My Thinks: Except when you’re using data that supports your theories?
My Thinks: Once again, thanks for speaking with us this morning professor.
Professor: Thank you Mr Thinks.