Speaking in Auckland- After Reform: What comes next

I’ll be speaking to the Aucklalnd Fabian Society on Thursday 16 Feb (I already spoke on Wellington but didn’t around to posting Details here.

Since the 1980s, economic policy has been dominated by a policy agenda referred to by its proponents as “microeconomic reform” or simply “reform”, based on the ideas of free trade, privatisation and reductions in the scale and scope of government activity. This agenda has exhausted its political support and run out of ideas. It offers no answers to the policy challenges of the 21st century, including growing inequality, financial fragility and the demands of the information economy. This presentation will address the question: What comes next?

12 thoughts on “Speaking in Auckland- After Reform: What comes next

  1. Hi John,
    Hope the talk is a success. I can’t see any real government policy changing until the teaching of Economics changes. Flawed and ideologically biased theory, leads to flawed and ideological biased policy prescriptions and outcomes. I have come to a conclusion that perhaps our whole approach to Economics is wrong and we need a major paradigm shift that must start from an ecological/environmental foundation.

    From Microeconomics to Macroeconomics we need to start from scratch. For example notions of perfect or imperfect competition need to be jettisoned and replaced by the term real competition i.e. empirically based evidence of what actually happens. I think Anwar Shaikh’s new book ‘Capital Competition, Conflict Crises’ is heading in the right direction, its only limitation being is that it lacks a fundamental ecological /environmental foundation. Nevertheless I am convinced Shaikh’s book is required reading for anyone trying to come to grips with 21 st century economic theory, economic phenomena and empirical research.

  2. Feel free to suggest an unemployment based across the board variable import levy for when things go completely awry as they tend occasionally to do in New Zealand largely because NZ doesn’t have a massive mountain of minerals to fall back on when things like city smashing earthquakes happen.

  3. @BilB
    So true BilB and yet in light of the current ‘bad’ news here on indigenous ‘Closing the Gap’ data, it still amazes me that the NZ Government paid a $1 billion in compensation to the Waikato tribes (Ngati Tainui) some years ago for historic land grievances. Imagine that type of conversation going on here, though to his credit Shorten has raised it.

  4. In view that work alone without saving and investment does not create wealth and even knowledge requires (saved) investment capital for its application on the material level –

    on what grounds was the idea of a more egalitarian future through at least a minimally meaningful level of personal wealth ownership (“people’s capitalism”) by all people eventually, not accepted as a serious proposition at that meeting in Auckland?

    After all, is not at least home ownership potential the dream of just about everyone ?

  5. IMO, it was and is a mistake to capitulate on the word “reform” and hand rights to it on a platter to the neoliberals by complicitly acceding to their theft and debasement of the term. Words matter. Their program was not reform. It was regression; reaction and reactionary.

    If we discourse in the approved terminology of our adversaries rather than insist on our original definitions (showing confidence that our discourse’s own meanings are objectively and defensibly correct) then we have already lost. We have given in to the very post-truth relativism we ought to be opposing.

  6. What precisely are you talking about, Ikonoclast ?
    How can we live without capitalism, or replace the term “capitalism” – the saving and investment of capital – with what ?

  7. @Ikonoclast
    I don’t think anyone’s ‘capitulated’ on the meaning of ‘reform’. As I read the OP, Prof Q was merely noting that, among advocates of neoliberalism, the term has become shorthand for the neoliberal policy agenda. That doesn’t imply that the rest of us accept that meaning.

  8. @Jens Meder
    Ikon has not mentioned the word capitalism once, let alone suggest is we replace the term. Did you read his post? Even if you mistook his use of ‘capitulate’ it would take a very stretched misreading to come up with what you have suggested. (And just to be clear I am not talking previous discussions.)

  9. Focusing attention to terminology is like diverting attention from the subject matter.

    Matter of fact, Ikonoclast – is not regression still (negative) reform of any status quo?

    And is not the basic debate between neoliberalism and whatever else – on the “best” ways of applying capitalism, because is not ultimately the success or failure of everything on the material level determined by the rate of profitably invested (not uncreatively gambled) capital ?

  10. @MartinK

    Correct. I did not mention “Das verbotene Wort”, the “concept which must not be named” in this thread. I had better not or I will derail it.

  11. @Ikonoclast

    But I am pleased to note you mentioned the neoliberals. As usual, I endorse your views about capitulation. It reminds me of Wayne Swan promising to “deliver a surplus” budget, thereby tacitly admitting that the “debt and deficit” hysteria of the coalition was justified.

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