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  1. For more on this fascinating idea see: Guy Standing, Basic Income: And How We Can Make It Happen, Penguin (London, 2017). Rutger Bergman, Utopia for Realists: And How We Can Get There, Bloomsbury (London, 2018)
  2. Once the stark contrast between the greed and corruption endemic in neoliberalism and the dedicated public spirited effort and integrity of ambulance crews, nursing, surgery and theatre staff is made, supporters of the thoroughly discredited Mont Pelerin doctrine grasp at any distraction, however absurd, in order to confuse and misdirect.
  3. ...while the friends of tory MPs and tax-abusing outsourcing companies enjoyed lucrative contracts counted in multiple £billions of public money to provide goods and services they were not qualified or competent to supply, with catastrophic results that cost an untold number of lives. We really do need to take notice of these dynamics and understand that neoliberalism enriches the few at the expense of the many, and does so by the capture of governments, domination of the press, and by corruption and crony sleaze. Who are the selfless ones and who the selfish?
  4. ... while the dedicated NHS staff who really have been working night and day in selfless service to save lives, who risked their own health and worked beyond exhaustion, and still labour valiantly to immunise the whole population, it seems that they must content themselves with a below inflation pay rise. Perhaps we should also pause for a moment in remembrance of those health and other essential workers who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.
  5. Good point well made. Even in the middle of a global crisis and a human catastrophe on a vast scale, all the capitalists want from public investment is profit.
  6. It is essential to note the dynamics in this thread - neoliberals, their supporters and subservient internet trolls will constantly distract, seek to muddy the waters, demand alternatives, or insist on evidence, only to rubbish any references, clarifications or alternatives offered. It is routine, and we must not allow ourselves to be distracted by such tactics.
  7. I think most people are sick of the sleaze - Cameron, Johnson Jenrick, and Hancock reveal again the squalid reality that conservative governments represent. Economics has become dominated by the Mont Pelerin doctrine: after eighty years of slow, patient capture of the economics schools its ideology has become the unquestioned orthodoxy. New economic thinking is systematically marginalised. A central neoliberal strategy is to demonise socialism and establish the private sector as the only way of doing business. But that soon transforms into profit without delivery, power without accountability. And it means all the spoils go to a very slim sector of society - limited to executives and shareholders. Mariana Mazzucato's new book, Mission Economy is well worth a read. Mazzucato wishes to reorient capitalism in order to restore public purpose to economics and rejects outsourcing in favour of functioning public institutions. George Osborne systematically destroyed the capacity of the public sector by the discredited policy of austerity, leaving NHS staff demoralised and supplies depleted. This led to the current government looking to their cronies to supply PPE, a hopeless solution that disintegrated amid corruption and sleaze. Test and trace was outsourced to tax abusing, exploitative outsourcers and it was an abject failure leading to thousands of preventable deaths. The success of the vaccine was achieved only through public investment and the deployment of public institutions such as the universities, the NHS and the armed forces, and was delivered only via the socially responsible rejection of shareholder profit in favour of 'at cost' supply of the pharmacology. That is the reality behind the vaccine triumph here in the UK. Contrary to the claims of the Mont Pelerin Society, the state is the real entrepreneur in most economic advancement, but the capitalists that move in once the public has shouldered all the risk get to capture all the profit. And recall who bailed out the market when it failed so spectacularly in 2007/8 - the taxpayer. Ask who is set to foot the bill following the cladding scandal? The taxpayer again. These are not exceptions, it's how capitalism works. Accumulation in the pockets of billionaires means deficits elsewhere. We need properly funded public sector institutions, paid for by tax, from a revenue and customs arrangement that cannot be gamed by billionaires or big business. We need robust regulatory arrangements to ensure high standards and accountability, we need science led health and environmental research, and a viable welfare arrangement. Neoliberalism is hostile to democracy, and this factor must be understood and rejected in favour of responsive democratic institutions. And it is essential that we transform the press so that it presents facts rather than the current diet of bogus claims, distraction and crass entertainment. There is an alternative. And we must begin by making capitalism responsive to society rather than to the enhancement of riches for the already wealthy. Mariana Mazzucato, Mission Economy, Allen Lane (London, 2021)
  8. Neoliberals and their supporters don't like rules. They don't like tax, they don't like regulation, they don't like the public sector. They want rid of these things but they can never be honest about their real intentions. The secretive ideology of the Mont Pelerin Society quietly seeks to legitimise the project of inequality that has seen the 1% prosper at the expense of ordinary people in Sheffield, in the UK and across the globe over the last forty years. They don't like unions and they don't like protest, they don't like challenge of any sort as they enrich themselves at the expense of ordinary people and the environment. Essentially, they wish to keep the facts from us. Right wing think tanks quietly argue for privilege. The press, owned by the multimillionaires, supports right wing policy, while internet trolls seek to distract and confuse in the online world. The claim that there is no alternative is clearly bogus, but the idea that billionaires must be allowed to continue to exploit every aspect of our lives so that they can make even more profit has led to inequalities that have brought poverty and insecurity to a level of financial, social and ecological crisis and left the twin poles of neoliberalism, Washington and Westminster, Wall Street and the City of London unable to manage a health emergency. All we have seen as Covid 19 has swept through the US and Britain is a privileged few engaging in corruption and profiteering, while the true heroes of the moment, NHS staff and essential workers, are supposed to be content with crayoned rainbows and a clap from the doorstep. We've never had it so good was a claim made by Harold Macmillan in 1957, when conservatives were conservative rather than neoliberal. That change came eighteen years later when Margaret Thatcher took control of the party and oriented it towards Mont Pelerin ideology. Unless we seek to change these hideous abuses of power we can only expect more sleaze and corruption, more political failure and more economic devastation as the wealthy few double and triple their fortunes. Tax, regulation and fully funded public services are the true heart of democracy and freedom, not private interests defended by bent politicians, press barons and internet trolls.
  9. There is no alternative said Margaret Thatcher. It was not a statement of fact but an ideological expression. The reality is that there are many alternatives to the ideology of the Mont Pelerin Society model known as neoliberalism which she installed within the conservative party in 1975 - that billionaires and multinational corporations pay the taxes they owe, that government use revenue to fund the essential services that ordinary people rely upon for their health, housing and educational needs, that robust regulations are established and maintained, that emergency services are funded, that evidence based effective practice is sought and implemented, that people are put before profit, and democracy is developed, cherished and protected from exploitation and erosion by private interests.
  10. It is no surprise that we are arguing about masks. The neoliberal project insised that there was no such thing as society and that there's no alternative. And we ordinary folk were expected to wear a cheery smile as our familiar world was dismantled around us. We were no longer members of a community. Forced instead to compete with everyone, our neighbours and colleagues became opponents, our friendly smiles were wearing thin. We were forced to assume a disguise, the only radiant expressions left to us were the happy faces seen on the adverts for designer cosmetics, volume produced alcoholic beverages or branded clothing. The NHS became a brand behind which front-line staff, smiling to order just as MacDonalds workers had been forced to do before them, assumed a grim, professional demeanour even as they watched their status, their pay and their terms and conditions eroded through internal competition and privatisation hollowed out their role. Meanwhile, the cosmetics and clothing barons, the mass brewers and their political fixers that we call MPs assumed the bland dark suit and tie, the sober frock, the understated accessory as they arranged social devastation on behalf of the billionaires. Everyone is in disguise these days. Where is our authentic self? Where have our communal instincts gone? How have we allowed our services, our high streets and our neighbourhoods to be drained of resources as the rich grow fat on excess and cabinet ministers line the pockets of their billionaire donors?
  11. 'Working round the clock,' has become a whine emanating from cabinet ministers. 'Working night and day' and 'working tirelessly' they insist as if that is adequate rejection of all criticism of their failed private sector response to a deadly pandemic. The ones who really have been working all hours, NHS staff, have been snubbed with a 1% pay rise. Meanwhile Boris Johnson has been caught trying to preserve tax advantages for his billionaire friend James Dyson, now established in his Singapore tax haven having flown from Brexit Britain. Billionaires like Dyson and Greensill, David Cameron's financier friend looking to profit from NHS contracts, don't shop in John Lewis or Debenhams. They don't turn up at Chelsea or Manchester City matches and buy a hot dog at half time. In short they do not contribute to our economy. Neoliberalism is a success, it has done what it was designed to do - transfer wealth from the poor to the already rich. The devastation to our communities matters not to these super rich individuals. They use their wealth to enjoy a lifestyle of isolated splendour, associating only with their own. Hard work and dedication, the kind of virtues amply and wonderfully demonstrated by NHS staff, teachers and front line workers in essential roles, are as nothing to the tax abusers of the billionaire set or their political friends in government. It is now becoming apparent with absolute clarity which side Mr Johnson and his chums are on as slease and corruption yet again become the signature of conservative party rule.
  12. Let's remind ourselves that the promised world-beating, outsourced track and trace system turned out to be a dismal failure. However, that's not how big business sees it, because those outsourcing companies are enjoying astonishing profits. The cost of this failed strategy is counted in lives lost. It's also counted in public money, which means the money we pay in taxes, handed over to these companies, which lacked any of the required skills or past experience of the critical tasks they were contracted to undertake. How much money? £37 billion, that's thirty seven thousand million pounds. The NHS had the necessary skills, the infrastructure and the personnel to undertake such a role, but they were ignored. That is neoliberalism at work - private sector profit before public service, instead of public service. Neoliberals know how to market their lies, they are aware that the 'NHS' label is trusted, so they stuck it on the front of their villainous charade. Meanwhile the party behind this shocking scandal are sticking to their claim that a below inflation 1% pay rise is all that's affordable for the NHS staff who really did work tirelessly round the clock to save lives.
  13. I've no doubt the free market vultures are waiting to translate taxpayer funded coronavirus vaccine research into private profit just as soon as they can. The NHS has indeed been hollowed out by neoliberal attrition over the last 40 years, and awaits the final takeover within the US/UK post brexit deal (this explains why the tories are so vigorous in their insistence that NHS staff must not hope for more than the below inflation 1% pay-rise - the outsourcing capitalists poised to take over such a large workforce would be outraged if they had to foot the bill for a fair wage increase). This is the world shaped by neoliberal ideology. It is nothing less than the appropriation of every public revenue stream (i.e. the taxes we pay), for profit, without accountability. All nicely hidden behind the bluster and buffoonery, the flags and the 'working night and day', 'working tirelessly', straining every sinew' 'working in partnership with' nonsense.
  14. That's right. Boris Johnson would like us to believe that capitalism and greed enabled the success of the UK vaccine project. In fact, following the private sector catastrophe of the PPE scandal and the devastating failed promise of a world-beating outsourced test and trace project, the vaccine success is due entirely to social democratic mechanisms - up front public investment to encourage innovation in a sector that prefers to sell established staples - SSRIs, analgesics and nicotine patches; the use of legacy public education institutions; and supply of the finished product 'at cost' rather than to shareholder advantage, administered via the NHS.
  15. And under no circumstances do they want us to wake up.
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