Here are a few quotes from the last pages of 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism by economist Ha-Joon Chang.
Now, I had originally posted this on Twitter (all the way back on June 14, 2022). I wanted to publish it here because I didn’t want to lose it in the haystack of Tweets.
Also, I wanted to post these quotes here because they’re freaking fascinating. Fascinating because, though Chang’s book was written in 2011, these quotes are super relevant to today.
(For example, they relate to the rhetoric around the man-made “debt ceiling” crisis led by Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy that’s happening right now.)
Okay, here are the quotes. The following five quotes come from pages 265-6.
- “Budget deficits are a familiar bogeyman of free-marketeers” (For example, saying the national debt is too high, therefore we have to cut social programs rather than the extravagant military budget and corporate subsidies.) “Social welfare spending is a favorite whipping boy of free-market ideology.”
- “The trinity of high unemployment, stagnant wages, cuts in welfare spending, combined with the drying-up of consumer credit and climbing oil and food prices strains living standards”
- “Puzzingly, many who suffer the most under free-market policies support those approaches because they have come to believe that small governments, fiscal rectitude, business freedom and self-help are the foundations of a dynamic economy and a decent society.”
- “Such is the power of free-market ideology … vote for politicians who do things to hurt them.”
- “Thus it is more and more urgent that people understand what is REALLY going on with the economy, and exercise their economic citizenship more actively”
Things haven’t changed since Ha-Joon Chang wrote those words. (Neoliberalism , i.e., free market ideology, still dominates Washington D.C. despite its continuous failure to help the everyday person. Both Biden and Trump are neoliberals.)
But I think (or hope) more are waking up to the neoliberal delusion (I think Bernie’s presidential runs helped with this), and more are challenging its policies—even if it’s on Twitter voicing their unhappiness.
If we continue to become aware of the bullshit behind this ideology, this may be hope? Because the despair may translate into action against its true source (rather than the fictional scapegoating of the vulnerable)? Action that might disrupt an authoritarian economy that favors the rich?
This would be awesome, because it would mean an expansion of democracy in the economy.