The failure of a system can be assessed from the state of its occupants. The failure of the market economy on the other hand can be judged by the disparity of its occupants’ states. However, it is not just the economic system, but the statesmanship in which it is shaped. The liberal policies of non-intervention, competition and meritocracy (Goodwin, 2007) are the ones that perpetuate inequality which is why neoliberalism came to being. As states are not bound to liberal paradigms, neoliberalism allows them to fill the gaps left by the all benevolent ‘invisible hand’.
Neoliberal state is which provides some form of basic protection to benefit the disadvantaged (Heywood, 2003). However, what we see today is a different form of neoliberal. It is, what I would call, ‘neoliberal plus’. A fair distinction, I should add. The neoliberal plus is different from neoliberalism not in the way it protects citizens but in whom it chooses to protect. Contrary to protecting the less advantaged, the present system protects the ones who are already advantaged. Case in point being: the economic recession of 2008. The Bush Government signed a $700 Billion bailout of financial institutions (Johnson, 2008), while poverty and unemployment rose. US government incurred a loss of over $11 Billion on the General Motors rescue (Frizell, 2014). The money lost belonged to the tax payers of the country.
US, although was not alone in this endeavour. Still, one has to question the wisdom behind taking from the poor to feed the rich. At this point I agree with Stiglitz (2009): when the economy falls into difficulty the first priority should be social security nets. By bailing out financial giants the government only approves of and encourages reckless corporate strategies. Yet the government chooses to do that. I wonder: Why? Why would the state protect these corporate interests at such high costs?
The answer is because of the neoliberal plus system. States today are only as liberal as required by economic powers. The fact that a government would allow gigantic monopolies to exist without intervention but disallow small business subsidies in the name of competition is a striking contradiction to the liberal principles. The inset picture demonstrates my point perfectly. Due to the haphazard support of states, corporations have grown to a size where they are simply too big to handle and now they can go scot free for almost anything. Allowing growth was a liberal ideal, allowing healthy growth was a neoliberal ideal. The working logic of neoliberal plus states is the real tragedy: allowing out of proportion growth for the already powerful.
Jhonson, M. A. (2008). Bush signs $700 billion financial bailout bill. [Online] msnbc.com. Available at: http://www.nbcnews.com/id/26987291/ns/business-stocks_and_economy/t/bush-signs-billion-financial-bailout-bill/#.VGf1i8msVC4 [Accessed 16 Nov. 2014].
Frizell, S. (2014). General Motors Bailout Cost Taxpayers $11.2 Billion. [Online] TIME.com. Available at: http://time.com/82953/general-motors-bailout-cost-taxpayers-11-2-billion/ [Accessed 16 Nov. 2014].
Goodwin, B. (2007). Using Political Ideas. 5th Edition. Sussex: John Wiley and Sons Ltd.
Heywood, A. (2003). Political Ideologies: An Introduction. 3rd Edition. Palgrave Macmillan: Hampshire.
Stiglitz, J, (2009). The global crisis, social protection and jobs. International Labour Review, 148(1-2) pp. 1–13.