Sunday, 6 September 2015

The Neoliberal Endgame

I'm no fan of neoliberalism. I see it as the embodiment of all evil. This story, if it's true, is not an example of soulless communism, as the right wingers insist, it's what happens when we fail to regulate the equally soulless capitalist system we're a part of. Allow me to explain.

Two stories doing the rounds on Twitter have caught my eye. One is an article in Slate asserting that in China drivers ensure that they kill the people they hit with their cars to avoid costly compensation payments. The other is a dire warning of war to come in The Mirror. While at first they appear to be unrelated, the fact is there is one thing that unites them and that is neoliberalism. Both are the result of letting market forces do what they will with no thought given for the wellbeing of the public. And both are due to economic considerations.

Why Chinese drivers kill the people they hit

Per Geoffrey Sant at Slate, it's a purely economic decision:

“Double-hit cases” have been around for decades. I first heard of the “hit-to-kill” phenomenon in Taiwan in the mid-1990s when I was working there as an English teacher. A fellow teacher would drive us to classes. After one near-miss of a motorcyclist, he said, “If I hit someone, I’ll hit him again and make sure he’s dead.” Enjoying my shock, he explained that in Taiwan, if you cripple a man, you pay for the injured person’s care for a lifetime. But if you kill the person, you “only have to pay once, like a burial fee.” He insisted he was serious—and that this was common.

You see, despite what the Red Scare-mongers would have you believe, there is no socialised medical care system in China. So if you hit someone and they live, you pay for their care for as long as it's needed. If they die, you pay compensation to the family and it's over. As I said, it's a purely economic decision that makes me laugh at assertions that charities would take over: there's not enough of them and they tend to have strings attached. They also tend to discriminate. That's why we had people screaming "Let him die!" at a CNN/Tea Party Express Republican debate in Tampa, Florida: people can choose whether or not to donate to charity. That is the point of it. The Tea Party/Libertarian/Neoliberals would pick and choose which person to fund or not according to their personal prejudices. This is the Big Society Our Glorious Leaders want to impose on us even though it doesn't work.

The Right's crocodile tears

On the Right, there tends to be a lot of moralising over this, along the lines of "China doesn't value human life!" Some of them throw a pro-life (anti choice) slogan or two into the mix but at no point will they acknowledge that this is an economic issue. The ones that do advocate a Big Society approach (that was Hot Air) but we all know how well that would work. Picture the scene on Chinese Indiegogo, which is probably something like "Weifundme." The campaign would feature some poor little sod in a hospital bed with a story along the lines of:

Chao Li Chi was a happy two-year-old boy on Saturday 5th September, until a motorist who was texting while driving mounted the pavement and struck his pushchair, sending his tiny body flying. Chi suffered multiple fractures and internal injuries and is in hospital in a critical condition.

Chi's mum Ping works for Apple and therefore doesn't earn enough to pay for his mounting hospital bills. She has to buy his food as well since the hospital doesn't provide it. 

Given that there would be thousands of others, it's up to family and friends to get the word out to try to squeeze as much goodwill as well as money out of potential donors as possible. "Beg for charity" is the best these soulless narcissists can come up with, in the name of the free market, amen. If they actually valued human life I wouldn't be writing this blog post, but since the current crop of numpties have tied the love of money to morality and the Pavlovian morons have fallen for it, I am. True Christian conservatism would value human life enough to levy taxes to pay for a universal healthcare system free at the point of delivery, and a welfare state that would empower and enable people to take personal responsibility for their own lives by providing the training and education they need to get jobs. As it is, many of the so-called conservatives we have today are more interested in bossing other people around and being all holier than thou. They make me sick! Given that Our Glorious Leaders are in the process of demolishing the NHS and encouraging compensation culture, how long till British drivers decide that it's cheaper to reverse over the poor bugger they hit than to pay for a lifetime of care for him or her? I hope it never happens but I wouldn't be surprised.

WWIII is on its way

A columnist writing as Fleet Street Fox is being derided by the left on Twitter as an alarmist for pointing out that behind the migrant crisis lurks the probability that the war in the Middle Eastern states is likely to spread till it engulfs the rest of the world. World War III, no less, as predicted in the Bible, and everything. Yeah... about that...
There's your problem. Which I pointed out in my last blog post. If there wasn't such a thing as the military-industrial complex, this wouldn't even be happening. As it is, we're supplying both sides, whether this is intentional or not. Of course, that's not all there is to it: Right wingers in America are gung-ho for WWIII because they think they're the good guys in the End Times. That there's a tankerload of money to be made from this is not to be ignored.

To bomb or not to bomb

The best policy Our Glorious Leaders can come up with is to bomb the crap out of Syria and ISIS, forgetting entirely that this is what sends refugees fleeing in our general direction — because there's less oppression and no bombing here. Needless to say we'd mostly hit civilians and Our Glorious Leaders would bleat that at least something is being done but sooner or later we'd be drawn into a boots on the ground battle, which is what they want.

That the Islamic State holds the imminent fulfillment of prophecy as a matter of dogma at least tells us the mettle of our opponent. It is ready to cheer its own near-obliteration, and to remain confident, even when surrounded, that it will receive divine succor if it stays true to the Prophetic model. Ideological tools may convince some potential converts that the group’s message is false, and military tools can limit its horrors. But for an organization as impervious to persuasion as the Islamic State, few measures short of these will matter, and the war may be a long one, even if it doesn’t last until the end of time. - What ISIS Really Wants - Graeme Wood, the Atlantic

So yeah, you have players on both sides wanting a full on bloody war and a host of interested powers, including Russia and China, who also have a dog in the fight. The smart thing to do would, of course, be to cut the funding that ISIS receives, but given that they're getting it from wealthy Wahhabist backers in Saudi Arabia — you know, the people we sell weapons to — good luck with that. Moving away from our current dependence on petroleum would resolve this but we're committed to it due to heavy lobbying from the climate change denialists, who are funded by the fossil fuel industry.

So don't go telling me it's a religious problem unless the god you're thinking of is money. Take that out of the equation and the problem grinds to a stuttering halt. Get the neoliberals out of the way since they believe that market forces can solve the problem and that they can assist with nation-building, etc. Then get the religious nutters to go live in an uninhabited part of the world and live out their fantasies there. We don't want them here.


While at first glance it may seem that I've got some kind of anti-Red Scare thing going on over neoliberalism, it either works in practice or it doesn't. As far as I'm concerned it's the root of the problems listed above because it relies on mere supply and demand to resolve complex problems even though that's not their job. While these issues have massive social ramifications, the truth is that they are basically economic considerations and if we can just get our heads around that simple fact we'll be half way to resolving them.

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