By : Dedy N. Hidayat
Approaching 2009, the season of bubble and promises is already on the air again. This is the season when any aspiring Presidential candidate declares an uphill battle against the mother of all evils and the worst of crimes: poverty. Look around, you are already in the middle of a familiar symbolic environment, full of competing bubbles, lies, or half true messages about eradicating poverty.
The season of bubble and lies is on the air
But watch, anyone who win the competition, would in no time develop a tendency to make peace with those market fundamentalists. The moment the winner disappears into the palace, that exactly the time for us to prepare for the post-honeymoon nonstop watch.
Here is (part of) a watchlist, just in case you have the business to know who the new President of our country really is:
- How His/Her Excellency Mr(s) President reacts to critical issues such as economic liberalization, deregulation, privatization, and globalization?. How far does he or she tend to leave things up to the market? or does he have sufficient political will (or guts) to find alternatives to neoliberal prescriptions?
- How the new President manage health care and public education? A neoliberal would limit or rule out investment on health care, public education since that would directly interfere with the operation of markets. In the eye of market fundamentalists, the same is also applies for issues involving public broadcast, state enterprises, or social investments.
- Are there any workable plan and act to protect the viability of small-scale farming?. A market fundamentalist would ignore such a plan because it would require subsidies to the farmers, and restriction on imports of farm products -- both are againsts neoliberalism principle of capital and commodities freedom to move. Likewise, restrictions on multinational companies, such as Care Fuor, which is aimed at protecting traditional markets, would run contrary to market fundamentalism’s prescription of minimal role for government in economic affairs.
- Is there any efforts to extend the rights of labor? Or he or she prefers to create a more condusive investment climate through respressive policies on industrial relations?
- Is there any policy priority directed at reducing the unequal distribution of income through, e.g. public works programs, greater budget allocation for public education and small scale business?. As Schumpeter (1954) sum s up a central argument of classical (neoliberal) economists:
- A higher rate of savings allows a higher rate of investment;
- A higher rate of investment allows a higher productive capital;
- A higher level of productive capital allows more output;
and so a higher rate of saving allows a higher rate of economic growth. Because, it is the rich who save . . . the poor spend their income. It follows that, a more unequal distribution of income, leads to a higher rate of growth . . . by raising the share of income going to the wealthy, the inequality raises the saving rate”.
Accordingly, neoliberals intrinsically pose a tendency to limit and rule out programs directed at improving income distribution.