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LABRST 1C03 (126)

Lecture - Labour and the Age of Neo-Liberalism - 2014-01-28

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Labour Studies
Sandra Colavecchia

Labour and the Age of Neo-Liberalism • 1970s breakdown of Keynesianism –pivotal time (things change directions); Keynesianism breaks down o economic struggles –economy does not does as well as in the 50's and 60' and businesses are suffering (profit is down, productivity is down, property values go down, and money system is getting unstable (inflation keeps going up and people's buying power goes down) --> this stuff should happen when things are going well in the Keynesian model o (another) political shift –political shift away from Keynesianism; business leaders become vocal and openly reject Keynesianism's model; you have a younger generation of business men who do not want to be a part of the Keynesianism order; they don't believe they should have to bargain with unions, that the government is there to help them, and that capitalists needed governments to hold their hands, they hate those taxes  most important (economic or political shift?) – conservatives say it is economics, people on the far left (Marxists) say the same thing that Keynesianism does not work; others say it was a political shift and people at the top just hate following the same thing; by late 1970's neo liberalism takes off?  Thatcher, Reagan – Margaret Thatcher was elected in Britain and was a hardcore neo liberalism and said she needed radical reform in society; Ronald Reagan (both gods for conservatives); in Canada Brian Mulroney is elected and implements lots of the neo-liberal agenda (wasn't as committed as the other two); these guys reject that they are liberals of any sort but they act like them; most call themselves neo conservatives • neo liberals and neo-conservatives – neo conservatives is the more political word; neo liberalism has become widespread (almost all political parties are neo liberal) o Washington consensus –in place in the 1980's/90's pushing neo liberalism • key = faith in the market – neo liberals believe in the market (where you pursue your own self interest and maximize profit etc); they reject Keynes (he says government needs to be there); neo liberals believe in market freedom (market works best on its own; and markets make you free, through the market you are most free to make money) o market freedom – anything that helps free the market is a good thing  way beyond Smith – neo liberals believe the market is the best place to do anything; believe neo liberals should also run the police force; as people attempt to get rich they create wealth for everyone else (greed is good); believe that markets are the most rational and fairest place o self-correcting – don't need government intervention (Allan Greenspan --> chair of US federal reserve 1987-2007; if fraud gets really bad the market will fix it (is what he said); if this behaviour is risky then markets will correct that too because market actors are rational) o "heroes" of business – entrepreneurs, innovators, and inventers  Ayn rand – bestselling author; she is most influential writers and picked up in the neo liberal age; premise of her books are that the real heroes are entrepreneurs, investors and innovators and that the rest are parasites off of the rich;  "finance masters of the universe" – lots of new innovation o trickledown economics – idea is let these people innovate, of course they will get really rich but the benefits will trickle down to everybody; essential part of the way the system works; if you slow down innovation everyone will be poor; Margaret Thatcher was asked about the impacts on society (she said: there is no such thing as a society; there is only a market where people act on their on will, ad that is how people will be prosperous) Labour and the Age of Neo-Liberalism Part 2 • neo-liberalism in action o role of the state – neo liberals blamed the government for lots of their problems for invading and regulating too much (spending too much money, forcing us to manage with unions) o expand the market – they want to expand the market  domestic policy: privatize and deregulate – means taking things the government used to do or own and putting it in the markets hands (public assets: telecommunication systems, utilities, train systems; privatize them and they will be run more efficiently); massive amount of privatization because of neo liberals; three richest counties around Washington because of privatization  internationally: globalization – expanding the market geographically; going into countries and spreading the market into their places; seen as impossible years ago to get all these countries to agree to all these rules (on money, regulations etc); there are now common rules that allow money to move from place to place (big political consensus)  monetizing life: intellectual property – neo liberalism spreads into the monetizing life; taking things that were not in the market and putting them in there so they can be bought or sold; biggest one was intellectual property (allowing things to be patented); there was genetic patents (selling the rights for people to use your genes); companies have patents on genes of grains/seeds and make farmers pay them to use the seeds; if you put this in a market system they say now there is more innovation to create; big debate in third world countries where people have been growing their own good for ages but now have to pay for it because of patents; people say this is a system of taking money from people (toll both capitalist: taking what people have always done but now charging them for it)  consumerism and "ownership society" – neo liberals believe in expanding the market; they cheer on branding of goods, identifying with universal brands, people seeing themselves as consumers; ownership society, people are most free if they see themselves as owners (ex/ privatizing homes expands the property market and gives people a stake in how they system works and encourages you to keep spending) o unions and labour law - see unions as being in the way; when neo-liberalism people get power they attack unions right away; reform of labour law was to push back unions, and limit their power in the workplace; unions had a decrease in bargaining power  right to work – laws framed around this; right of individual worker to get a job; if union is seen as limiting a workers ability to get a job, right to work endorses this neo-liberal view; right to work shoves unions to the side; right to work cast unions in a different light, neo liberals don't see them as democratic; what's important to neo liberals is that individual workers are free  view of workers – workers as consumers (people who have spending power to push economy forward); neo liberals challenged that and say this doesn't drive the economy (business, entrepreneurship does),
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