As markets tumble and prices soar, and especially as the wages of ordinary workers lag inflation, the free-market dogmas that have governed the country over the last generation are increasingly under fire. If markets are so good, how come we’re paying almost $4 for gas? If private enterprise does the work of the angels, what happened to all the good jobs?
NY Times review of The Predator State, by James K. Galbraith.
...Galbraith argues that the Reagan revolution and all that followed was essentially a fraud. What remains of it? Nothing. Who still believes in it? Outside academia: no one.
Galbraith says Reaganism was founded on three policies: deregulation, monetarism and low taxes. He declares that the first was an artifice so that lobbyists could extract “more money from those who can afford to pay — and sometimes from those who cannot.”
Monetarism (the tactic used, successfully, by the Federal Reserve in the 1980s to nip inflation) he depicts as a tool to kill off labor unions and elevate the power of Wall Street. And low taxes failed to achieve their supposed purpose — encouraging saving. They were merely a sop to the wealthy.
I'm happy to see a book like this get reviewed in the NY Times. Even if it's saying what many people knew all along, that Reagan economics, and certainly the policies of the Bush administrations, favor the rich and ignore the long-term effects on the working people who provide the economy's foundation. Rhetoric still influences many people. Reagan's did -- his senile optimism and pure fantasy view of the economy is still "trickling" down, along with standards of living, although I think it would be simplistic to say that that is all there is to it. The world is a different, more crowded place now, but the false optimism and willful selfishness of our leaders in those years kept us from being prepared as a country for the problems we have now. And it's not over yet. I live in the expensive Northeast. I'm wondering just how many of my neighbors can afford their fuel bills this winter, or if I can.