Economic Policy Needs New Direction

For the past 30 years, the United States has undergone a fundamental shift in economic policy. The new policy, which primarily supports the profitability of U.S. multinational corporations, is known as neo-liberalism. It's based on a model of liberalized, unhindered market transactions. It's being implemented through reduced spending for social programs particularly for the poor, free trade but not fair trade, and deregulation and privatization of government programs and services.

This economic policy is also the primary model for most politicians in both political parties. They debate how the model should be implemented such as the recent arguments over how much Medicaid should be cut, rather than debating why Medicaid should be cut at all.

Proponents of neo-liberalism in the universities, think tanks, government agencies and corporations regularly cite the 18th-century economic theories of Adam Smith to justify this economic model. Under this theory, the primary motivation for people is economic self-interest in which the widest range of unrestricted choices to purchase goods and services leads to the greatest number of socially acceptable purchases that meet individual needs. Central to this theory is a notion that the primary value of society is obtaining material items that are allocated and regulated by the law of supply and demand and the ability to make a profit. Also implicit in this theory is the idea that the market is based on a wide variety of small buyers and sellers with access to the market that are not constrained by monopolies.

In reality, what is now occurring in the world market is an unheralded concentration of wealth and power by large monopolistic, multinational corporations that are ruthlessly driving out smaller competitors.

Neo-liberals often argue that these social problems will eventually sort themselves out as the "magic" of the marketplace adjusts for these problems. This is the cold argument made by people who do not have to worry about their next meal, mortgage or rent payment, or being able to obtain affordable health care.

It is also the argument of a modern day religion that assumes, somehow, through a leap of faith that we are heading toward the economic promised land when all indicators point to the opposite, as people continue not to increase their income and material prosperity year after year after year.

Are we a society that believes that all people -- not just some -- should benefit from the economy now? Do we believe that the economy should provide all people with the basic necessities of life such as a job, food, housing, health care, and education? Do we believe that all people have the right to engage in productive work that enhances their personal self-growth? Do we believe that free markets have some limitations that can be met only in part by voluntary organizations in conjunction with government? Do we believe that the protection of the environment, respect for human rights, and the advancement of social justice should be a consequence of all governmental economic actions and activities?

The answer, unfortunately, is that many of us don't believe these things. And these are not the current economic policies of the U.S. government.

I think it is time that we in the United States advance the notion in the political arena that all global economic activity and decision-making be tied to moral requirements based on human and ecological security in order to counter the continuing immorality of the global marketplace.

This country and planet deserve no less.

1717 Cliff Drive
Columbia, Missouri 65201
Email mgivel@waonline.com

Dugger's 'Depression'

The Dallas Morning News on Sunday, August 24, 1997 had a lead story on page l describing Ronnie Dugger's life as if one of the political liberals in the nation was "railing for reform", as an object lesson to avoid all classes of liberalism.

And they put in his mouth language that, if true, pictures this 67-year-old fighter thrashing about in a depression.

"I want a culture where Bill Clinton could be indicted for lying to the public for the purpose of being elected," he is quoted as saying. A strong slam at free speech!

He wants "the current version of democracy to be thrown out like spoiled food." Is he planning on joining the Republic of Texas militia? Of course not! He throws Texas to the armadillos.

He acknowledges that "nobody knows that there is no hope except him"? He should start walking two miles every morning and eat lots of fruit and vegetables. Then his depression may come under control.

And he should stop talking nonsense. Instead, Dugger should denounce that falsehood conferred by the U.S. Supreme Court upon a corporation as a human being, as Solomon and Jesus denounced the master's falsehood that a slave was non-human, a body.

Then humanity will come to know that corporate wealth is produced by its workers, who should share that wealth with the corporation's consumers. A democracy can vote with its feet as well as its ballot!

So, get well Ronnie! You may have some friends in Texas after all.

11806 Cheswick St.
Dallas, TX 75218

Editor's Note:
Enclosed with the letter was a copy of the sneering profile of Dugger, which is about the only way the Morning News recognizes progressive populist activists. The Alliance for Democracy, of which Dugger is co-chair, will hold its second convention Oct 30 to Nov. 2 in Atchison, Kan. For information contact the Alliance for Democracy, P. O. Box 683, Lincoln, MA 01773; phone 617-259-9395; fax 617-259-0404; or email peoplesall@aol.com.

Needs health care info

Dear Folks:

I am a subscriber to The Progressive Populist and am looking for some advice and information on an issue that is very important to me. In the June 1997 issue of your paper, Ralph Nader talks about the deception and the dissimulation perpetrated by "non-profit" companies and organizations. I would surely like to get some help on this issue. ... Please let me explain my problem.

I was recently appointed to be a board member to the Region 2 (northeast Minnesota) health Regional Coordinating Board (RCB) by the state legislative oversight committee. The RCB is comprised of 17 members, the overwhelming majority of which are designated to be representatives of insurance companies and HMOs. Supposedly the function of the board is to help in the effort to extend health coverage to all Minnesotans and to reduce the costs of health care. As you might suspect, the board has done nothing to accomplish these goals. At the most recent meeting of the RCB, I was granted the oppoturnity to list my suggested goals and topics for the board to consider. They were quite flabbergasted when I suggested that we need to talk about things such as reduced care and limitations on referrals in order to promote profits for HMOs and insurance companies. I also listed as problems the frustration of physicians who find themselves being told how to practice medicine by insurance clerks; and I pointed out that the plans of Congress and the President to reduce funding for Medicare and Medicaid pose a serious problem for us. I summarized my remarks by suggesting that our board should devote all its efforts to figure out how to introduce a single-payer (Canadian-style) health care system to the state.

You won't be surprised to learn that they did not take very kindly to my suggestions, which incidentally did not surprise me one bit. My problem, however, is responding to one argument that a representative of Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Minnesota raised. She rightly pointed out that Minnesota law forbids for-profit health delivery in the state. She was suggesting that everything in Minnesota was just find because nobody is making any profit in the health care field. I did respond to that argument, but I would very much like to know how Nader, or some other person with more health care expertise than I possess, would have responded to that. Is there any literature available that you folks know of, that speaks to such an issue? ... Any help you could give me would be very much appreciated.

Route 4, Box 18
Pine City, Minn. 55063

Home Page

News | Current Issue | Back Issues | Essays | Links

About the Progressive Populist | How to Subscribe | How to Contact Us

Copyright © 1997 The Progressive Populist