Over on the Twitterverse, there was a bit of a kerfuffle when Professional Troll(TM) Nomiki Konst decided to bring up this chestnut from the long ago days of 1983 when the Democrats were facing their biggest crisis in years as they had lost a lot of elections and were feeling kind of bruised. (Sound familiar?)
She, of course, misrepresented it.
I went ahead and read the manifesto because unlike Konst, I like to know what I am talking about when it comes to critiquing 34 year old policy papers.
She first states that he blamed Unions. Well no. He didn’t. He did point out a small problem. Unions weren’t very good about changing to the economic times that changed around them. On one hand, most of the time the reason that the various different businesses were (or are) having difficulties was because management was pretty freaking stupid.
But on the other hand, sometimes there needs to be some give from the workers so new workers can share in the prosperity and unions don’t always understand this because they are protecting their current workers. In the article, Charles Peters points this out and offered a solution that is definitely neo-liberal as I understand the term. Paul Tsongas, a Senator from Massachusetts, came up with a compromise for the Chrysler auto bailout in the 1970s when the workers asked for a pay raise during the negotiations for the bailout. He disagreed with the notion that they should have an increase when the company was being rescued but he also believed that they shouldn’t suffer if the bailout worked. So he proposed what became the Lugar-Tsongas bill that gave the workers stock instead of money. Peters approved of this and recommended it for other situations.
I don’t know if I agree with that. I get the compromise and why it occurred but stock instead of money? Seems like deferring the problem down the road while at the same time ignoring the real problem of workers getting the shaft when business leadership fucks up.
Means Testing Social Security
She claims he says that Social Security is wasteful. That isn’t what he says. What he does say is that not means testing Social Security is wasteful since people who don’t need the money get money when those who need more (like say my mother) have to make do with less. Further we could use the extra money elsewhere to help more people. It is a terrible idea.
While the article I link to gives a lot of discussion of the nuts and bolts as to why it is a terrible idea, my reason to oppose it is simple: it turns a well loved program into a welfare program that opens the door to what happened with Aid to Families With Dependent Children (ADFC/welfare) or what is now Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF or Fuck the Poor.) TANF is a block program that has the same level of funding as it did in 1997: $16.5 Billion dollars. Which is why most states have been able to boast their welfare rolls have dropped. Because there literally is no money for more people to receive assistance. Arizona, for instance, has 10,215 families receiving assistance that they only can get for a year.
I don’t want that to happen to Social Security. Yes it does seem to be wasteful but if the idea that giving workers an ownership in the company makes it more likely they will work harder for the company…why isn’t the converse true for those who receive funding through Social Security?
Over-reliance on Credentials
I am not sure where she gets the idea that he was declaring a war on public schools. He does recommend being better able to remove incompetent teachers from schools while broadening the scope of people who can teach from those who have degrees. Which Arizona recently did. I understand some of what he is saying as a way of getting those who do have the ability and experience in the classroom to teach young miscreants I mean children things that are of value but at the same time, especially now, we don’t need people who have no idea what they are doing with kids to try to handle 40 of them at once to get them ready to navigate a complex shifting sand world.
The Really Offensive Stuff
Weirdly she doesn’t mention his offensive suggestion we return to patronage to handle civil service. We already are seeing what a disaster it is when the person picking people is doing so solely for the fact that they did a favor to him. Without the apolitical civil service corps enduring the incompetence from the top, we would be in a much worse situation with the current disasters all over the country (Harvey, the wildfires, Irma, Trump.)
That is a terrible idea that thankfully has hit the dustbin of history. I do like his idea to increase public service and have always liked Bill Clinton’s solution of Americorps, it isn’t the same thing. And even then there were problems like with any program with the Americorps.
There Are Very Few Neoliberals These Days In the Democratic Party
Based on this article, if this is what a neoliberal is, there aren’t many in the Democratic Party. Most members, and especially elected members, are in favor of the things outlined in the Democratic Party Platform of 2016. Most of the bills being introduced don’t talk about using the free market to the extent this does. In fact the electeds are going in the opposite direction towards more government control of economic units through heavier regulation and expanded government programs like Medicare Buy In.
That won’t stop the Rose Brigade from accusing their opponents of being neoliberals because those opponents are understanding that getting to something like the Medicare Buy In takes time and winning elections in bulk. It does however give us a reason to point and laugh at them. Well besides the usual reasons.