The Awful Revolution: Is Neoliberalism a Public Health Risk

Published on Dissident Voice, by Ben Winegard and Cortne Jai Winegard, April 19th, 2011.

The neoliberal revolution, which began in the 1970s, has produced inequality not seen since the gilded age.1 From circa 1942 to 1978, the top 10% of households held around 33% of the nation’s wealth. Currently, the wealth share of the top 10% stands at 47%. Even more strikingly, the top 0.1% (1 in 1,000) of households increased their share of income from less than 1% in 1978 to roughly 5% in 2008.2 The policies that produced this wealth disparity, including privatization, deregulation, and the promotion of macroeconomic stability, have attracted the opprobrium of critics and the plaudits of apologists … //

… Conclusion: Neoliberalism is a Health Risk:  
(They made a wasteland and called it peace /Tacitus).

The evidence presented above taken in toto is overwhelming and points to one conclusion: Neoliberal polices are a public health risk. Like cigarettes, neoliberal propaganda should come with a Surgeon’s General Warning: Neoliberalism may cause depression, anxiety, cynicism, and has been linked to declining social capital. Progressive critics of neoliberalism should make use of these findings in blogs, articles, and conversations. It is difficult to believe that the majority of Americans would tolerate neoliberal policies if they were aware of the consequences.

It is hoped that this evidence fills the lacuna discussed in the opening. There is no reason for us to ignore psychology when debating social policies. In fact, it is only through the effects of these policies on flesh and blood humans that we are critical of them. Progressives have, at times, shied from psychology. Unfortunately, the neoliberal apologists have used this to their advantage: As they bloviate about the supposed virtues of free markets and consumer choice, progressives, for the most part, retort with dry statistics about inequality and unemployment. It is not difficult to see which resonates more with the average citizen. Armed with data from psychology, progressives can retort with poignant descriptions of increasing psychological malaise.

While we are possessed of no special wisdom to offer activists advice, it is important to keep in mind that neoliberalism is not written in the stars: There are alternatives. (full text).

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