“It’s a word that gets thrown around a lot and I think it’s a word that a lot of people don’t know what it means. Neoliberalism is an economic term.” — Caleb Maupin
“This country has socialism for the rich, and rugged individualism for the poor.”
— Martin Luther King, Jr. (1968)
“Here, look at this handsome L.L. Bean catalog and tell me what you want for Christmas,” said a relative over Thanksgiving weekend. I started leafing through the 88 page cornucopia with hundreds of clothing and household products, garnished by free gift cards and guaranteed free shipping. I wasn’t perusing it for any suggested gifts; instead, I was going through every offering to see whether they were made in the U.S.A. or in other countries.
For those who are interested in the real world, a look at the actual history suggests some adjustment — a modification of free market theory, to what we might call “really existing free market theory.” That is, the one that’s actually applied, not talked about.
And the principle of really existing free market theory is: free markets are fine for you, but not for me. That’s, again, near a universal. So you — whoever you may be — you have to learn responsibility, and be subjected to market discipline, it’s good for your character, it’s tough love, and so on, and so forth. But me, I need the nanny State, to protect me from market discipline, so that I’ll be able to rant and rave about the marvels of the free market, while I’m getting properly subsidized and defended by everyone else, through the nanny State. And also, this has to be risk-free. So I’m perfectly willing to make profits, but I don’t want to take risks. If anything goes wrong, you bail me out.