By Neal Hegarty
Sep 9, 2014
How I went from Idealistic Socialist to Hard Core Neo Liberal
I was talking to my dear friend Fr John the other day. Fr John is from Ireland (like me) and has been involved in missionary work for years now, in his home on the West Coast of America and in South America also. To my horror he told me that he recently became a republican. How could this be I asked, you work in the poorest communities in the US, you witness the gapping social divide, the poverty trap and all that goes with it? How can you not advocate increased government spending, improved health and education programmes? How else can you expect these people to bridge the chasm that currently exists between the haves and the have not’s?
Well he explained, I’ve witnessed first-hand how the social welfare system crushes the soul of those who come to depend on it. I’ve seen the contrast in fortunes between the African American communities who have stagnated under generations of welfare and that of illegal Mexicans, forced to work outside the system. They improvise, scrimp, save and often within a generation or two their lot has improved. America was built on that. Hard working immigrants, who arrived with nothing but a dream. So for me, small government is the only answer. Government should simply facilitate hard work and creativity. Every community is different and so every community must endeavour to solve its own problems.
Well Fr John, having spent the last month doing some research in Guatemala, I must profess, I’m a convert. Sign me up, I’m a neo lib, and a hard core one at that. Like Milton Freedman, I now believe wholeheartedly in the small government solution, and like him I attribute all the failures of small governments to lack of commitment. Please America, don’t do it half-heartedly. You need to go all the way with this, there are still some government interventions I’m not sure you’ve considered. Obviously me and my new tea party mates are anti-social welfare, but what else can we cut??
Well let’s start with education. Does standardised testing really work anyway? I mean at this point don’t we need some creativity if we are going to solve todays big problems? So to hell with it, let the rich folk keep spending millions going to Harvard so they can wear suits, snort coke and make fortunes transferring money around. Let everyone else educate their kids on a community level, why not. Learn a bit of carpentry from Dave, a bit of farming from Ed and some nutrition from Maria. Beats learning about reasons to celebrate the life of genocidal maniacs like Cristopher Columbus.
Healthcare, what the hell. Maybe the pharma company’s don’t hold all the secrets to health and long life anyway. Let’s stop propping them up with indirect government subsidies. Who knows, maybe it’ll encourage people to eat healthier, drink less and get more exercise if they know the line to the pill counter isn’t there anymore. Besides a closer look at the world’s blue zones reveals it isn’t access to drugs that prolongs life but meaningful relationships, a sense of purpose and a lack of processed food (http://www.bluezones.com/).
But when it comes to shrinking the government we can do so much better. I spoke to an indigenous Guatemalan women called Esperanza the other day about her daily struggles. First and foremost she has no access to land on which to support herself and her family. A land reform was attempted in the 50s but Dwight D. Eisenhower’s government decided that sounded a bit too much like communism, especially when the US owned United Fruit Company stood to loose out. So our not so small US government instigated a coup. What a waste of money, surely those lazy corporate fat cats should have been left to fend for themselves. But it gets worse, we then kept giving the new right wing government millions in military aid.
And that leads to Esperanza’s second problem, all the men in her life are dead. Her father, her husband, her son and her brothers. All killed by the government. Imagine that, using weapons to kill people. I can only assume that my new right wing friends didn’t know about this blatant waste of government money. But it gets worse. Esperanza’s final problem, she could be evicted from her land at any time. Her and many more like her are frequently evicted from the meagre plots of land they work so hard to eek a living from. It happens every time a foreign multinational identifies a resource they fancy extracting. These evictions are made possible by a US funded army. And apparently this isn’t just happening in Guatemala my neo liberal friends!! All over the world we are propping up lazy good for nothing weapons manufactures and extraction companies. Not just that, some years ago we declared a ‘war on drugs’. It’s costing a fortune of our precious government money and I heard it’s not even working. Plus it says on page one of my new neo liberal pamphlet that the government shouldn’t take responsibility for the personal choices of individuals. So surely if people want to do drugs, we should just let them live with the consequences? If nothing else we will save a fortune and those sponging weapons manufactures will have to find a new government to extort??
Yes indeed cuts are needed. Big inefficient state owned companies need to be cut down to size or done away with altogether. Supply and demand my friends. The market steps in to fill the demand when it’s there. That’s how it’ll work when we stop spending on education, healthcare and bank bails outs. Creative entrepreneurs will supply their own solutions based on the existing demand. But what about the biggest employer public or private in the world, the US military? What to do with them? Well, what’s an army for? Protecting its own citizen’s right. That’s it, nothing more. We’ve already established that its not for protecting the interests of big multinationals, the war on drugs is a waste of money and is suspiciously nanny stateish in that it ignores the individual responsibility so important to us neo libs and when it comes to the war on terror, well its looking more and more obvious that invading other countries puts American lives at risk as opposed to protecting them. Trust me, I’m from Ireland, our live and let live policy means Al Queda and co couldn’t give a hoot about us. Supply and demand then, so lets see, America has been attacked once in like forever. Currently the army employs approximately 4 million people. I’m thinking we could cut that to like 100 dudes working full time, plus maybe a couple of thousand reserves. Whoa, what a saving that’ll be, before we know it we will be back lending money to the Chinese!!
So whose with me? Lets finish what my heroes Margret Thatcher and Ronald Regan started in the 80s. Time for multinationals, banks and weapons manufactures to stop relying on generous government welfare and make their own way in the world. My friends, this will take unwavering commitment. Like Milton Freedman warned the Augosto Pinochet’s new government, things will get worse before they get better, but with time the market (the magical market) will regulate itself.
Time for a neo liberal revolution!!