Neo liberalism is a worldwide ideology of social engineering. This means it is used by the rich in western countries to reshape our societies to their advantage: their profit motives.
The idea is that society does not exist, only individuals, who strive to enrich themselves. Neoliberals hold that the way to shape society is to make rules that will enable people to enrich themselves through the logic of the market: everything is for sale, and everything is worth only what is being paid for it. This means government should engage itself less and less in the public good as in health care and education, and limit itself to protecting private property and enforcing contracts. So less attention for education and health care as well as the environment, and more attention for the judicial system and patents, copyrights and financial instruments (the stock market, banking facilitation etc)
It holds that people will react to incentives, and that the trick is to create incentives that will make people act according to the logic of the “market” which means everything is seen only in terms of the money it generates.
Education should be paid for by private people (basically parents) and businesses who need certain skills. Health care should be financed privately basically the patient should pay the full price, if desired people can take insurance.
Neo liberals hold that this will create a society in which everyone can make enough money to pay for their needs including education and health care, and those who cannot are probably lazy and should not be facilitated at the cost of the tax payer.
In our current situation no one proposes to go this far immediately, but donors are pushing for a stepwise path in that direction. Public education is hollowed out, quality decreasing, while users fees are introduced, often disguised as a “school fund”. Private schools are growing and becoming more expensive. This means that children of rich parents will have a good life and children of poor parents are punished. According to neo liberal logic this is not the concern of the state, much less of the tax payer.
The same goes for health care: if you cannot afford an emergency you should buy private insurance. If you didn’t you deserve what comes to you.
Supposedly this organization of society creates the best, most efficient organization with the most wealth. That it creates inequality is only good: that will make people work harder to achieve wealth, and their hard work will create more wealth for everybody.
Neo liberals do not care that their story does not work out in reality, they keep pursuing the same agenda, with the consequence that the rich in the world are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer. Inequality keeps rising, and the rich are doing well.
Here in Malawi there are signs of neo liberal logic taking hold. The consistent talk about the poor needing “entrepreneurship” as a solution to poverty is one example. Micro credit schemes keep being imposed, and nobody cares that they are not working. “Unbundling” and privatization of ESCoM is another example. It clearly has not improved the performace, but the US keep financing projects like these. The BWB got a lot of neo liberal input from the Dutch company VITIS or something, a few years ago. And the water situation has never been worse. The only thing that has become more effective is the speed of cutting us off when the BWB feels we have not paid enough. Otherwise prices have been going up and service has been deteriorating.
In the birth country of neo liberalism, the UK, Margareth Thatcher had privatized the railways, and the service has never been worse or more expensive. This shows that even there it does not work for the public good, only for the rich.
International agencies, especially the World Bank, IMF and WTO are implementing neo liberal reforms, backed by western (mostly US) money. They impose “development” programs on us, that push us in the direction where they want us to go. So far elites in African countries have been reluctant to go along, and a lot of this program has been disrupted. Here the IFMIS has never functioned, the privatization of ESCoM has been done in name, but not in practice and so on. Elites here in Africa have been using the neo liberal funds for their own purposes: allowance hunting at conferences and trips, and hiring their own companies to supply goods and services with a fat profit. But the state has not been reformed.
The Public Service Reform Program is also clearly a neo liberal approach: performance contracts with incentives have been the method. And it has been championed by vice president Chilima. This shows us that he is complicit in the agenda of international neo liberals in remaking our society into a “market’ place rather than a society for people. And we can expect him to keep going in that direction if we allow him.
Do we want to vote for this program?