Shock Doctrine, Arizona style

27 Jun 2009 10:06 pm
Posted by: Donna

Yesterday I titled my post “Mayberry Milton Friedmans”. Some context is needed because not everyone knows who Friedman was, or the influence this evil little superannuated Ayn Rand dweeb continues to exert over conservative economic thinking (though it’s doubtful the average conservative can tell you who he is) and how millions of people in the world have suffered as a result of it.

From Wikipedia:

Milton Friedman (July 31, 1912 – November 16, 2006) was an American economist, statistician and public intellectual, and a recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. He is best known among scholars for his theoretical and empirical research, especially consumption analysis, monetary history and theory, and for his demonstration of the complexity of stabilization policy.[1] A global public followed his restatement of a political philosophy that insisted on minimizing the role of government in favor of the private sector. As a leader of the Chicago School of economics, based at the University of Chicago, he had a widespread influence in shaping the research agenda of the entire profession…

Influenced by his close friend George Stigler, Friedman opposed government regulation of many types. He once stated that his role in eliminating U.S. conscription was his proudest accomplishment, and his support for school choice led him to found The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. Friedman’s political philosophy, which he considered classically liberal and libertarian, stressed the advantages of the marketplace and the disadvantages of government intervention and regulation, strongly influencing the outlook of American conservatives and libertarians. In his 1962 book Capitalism and Freedom, Friedman advocated policies such as a volunteer military, freely floating exchange rates, abolition of licensing of doctors, a negative income tax, and education vouchers.[5] His books and essays were widely read and even circulated underground behind the Iron Curtain.[6][7]

Friedman’s methodological innovations were widely accepted by economists, but his policy prescriptions were highly controversial. Most economists in the 1960s rejected them, but since then they have had a growing international influence (especially in the US and Britain), and in the 21st century have gained wide acceptance among many economists. He thus lived to see some of his laissez-faire ideas embraced by the mainstream,[8] especially during the 1980s. His views of monetary policy, taxation, privatization and deregulation informed the policy of governments around the globe, most notably the administrations of Margaret Thatcher in Britain, Ronald Reagan in the US and Augusto Pinochet in Chile.

His views of monetary policy, taxation, privatization, and deregulation blow monkey chunks. Read Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine or Joseph Stiglitz’s Globalization and its Discontents to understand, in horrifying detail, how bad it was for countries from Chile to Russia to the U.S. (New Orleans post Katrina). But let that be no impediment to the cornpone plutocrats at the Goldwater Institute, nor the GOP politicians in AZ who slurp up their craptacular rhetoric like it’s a sugary drink called Reagan-Aid.

The central thesis of Friedman’s Chicago School disaster capitalism is that a natural disaster or social upheaval are perfect opportunities for “elites” to descend upon a country, wipe out it’s financial institutions and social safety nets, and replace them with a “pure” form of privatized laissez-faire capitalism. Of course, in the absence of natural calamity or civil strife, the Chicago Boys were not opposed to “nudging” pliable despots into creating the chaos necessary to allow them to implement their plans. The plans unfolded in a similar course: The Chicago Boys would convince leaders to privatize all functions under the control of the government. Multi-national corporations and investors would get drastic tax cuts and cheap investment opportunities while the people would be squeezed with high interest rates and diminished property values – they call this “Capital Market Liberalization”. Another crucial aspect of implementation is “Labor Market Flexibility” – AKA crushing unions, while slashing wages and pensions and throwing a large percentage of the population out of work. Then they would introduce “Market-Based Pricing” – a fancy way of saying “you peons get ready to pay through the nose for everything you need (since it’s all privatized now), and no more subsidies”. Invariably, this would lead to anger and unrest, at which point the government decided it was justified in mowing protesters down with tanks or “disappearing” them to torture chambers. Did I say “torture”? Why, yes I did! Speaking of Iraq, it was yet another experiment in Chicago School “free market” policies.

So what does this mean for Arizona? Are we going to resemble Iraq, or Chile under Pinochet? Hopefully not. But trust me when I say that these Mayberry Milton Friedmans will carry out their version of disaster capitalism to the greatest extent they can. Old Milton would be proud. I’m sure he’d give an approving nod toward selling our prisons.

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