23 April 2018   Leave a comment

Patrick Iber has written a fascinating essay for the New Republic on the meanings of the term, “neoliberalism”.  He goes through the lineage of the term which he traces to the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and brings us up to contemporary meanings.  The essence of his argument is that that perspective on market capitalism is incompatible with representative democracy.  He writes:

“What neoliberalism misses or ignores is that a world of apparently neutral rules is still a world of power inequalities. When capital has more freedom than people, serious democratic deficits are guaranteed. Voters may prefer a strong welfare state, but they may get austerity instead. In many nations, including the United States, the power of money in politics gives concentrated wealth a sword to hold over democracy’s neck. As the wealthy exert ever more influence over the political process, we may be closer to William Hutt’s plan for weighted voting than we would probably admit. In the neoliberal view, this is how it is supposed to work. It is, in Hayek’s language, the “discipline of freedom.” But it makes the goal of achieving relative equality through democracy very difficult.”

Democracy and capitalism started and grew up together as fundamental pillars of liberal society.  They may have evolved into incompatible institutions or they each may have been implemented incompletely or poorly.  That question is worthy of deep consideration.

 

French President Emmanuel Macron is in Washington today for US President Trump’s first state dinner.  The two leaders apparently have a good relationship (I have been struck by how many media outlets refer to Macron as “The Trump Whisperer”), but Macron came with a message from his European allies and Russia: do not pull out of the Iranian nuclear deal.  President Trump has to declare on 12 May whether he will certify that Iran has upheld the terms of the agreement.  Mr. Trump does not support the agreement and his nominee for US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, who also opposes the agreement, was approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  Mr. Pompeo is likely to be approved by the full Senate very soon.

 

Microplastics were discovered in 60 per cent of wild flathead grey mullet consumed by Chinese people.  The fish bottom-feed and the plastic fragments often sink to the bottom of the ocean where the fragments end up in the digestive systems of the fish.  There have been similar findings in a variety of fish species as people continue to be careless in disposing of plastic which does not easily degrade–Hong Kong resident throw away 5.2 million plastic bottles every day.  I suspect that we would find similar amounts in fish all around the world.

Wild Flathead Grey Mullet

 

The Pacific's Prolific Plastic Problem

 

Posted April 23, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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