The neoliberals have it to themselves - or do they?

The number of people that have enough money to benefit from ‘neoliberalism’ is vanishingly small, compared with the number that don’t.


So how has neoliberalism come to dominate politics - almost universally throughout the world over the last 40 years - when it benefits so few of us?


The answer to this question points to a fundamental social divide, based on ‘focus’: Basically, neoliberalism rules, because the vast number of people who are “losing out” are ‘factionised’; too distracted, arguing amongst themselves, about technicalities or ideological differences, to see neoliberalism for what it is.


If we are going to remove this fundamental dominance of neoliberalism across the world, we will need to find a way to unify all the ‘concerns’ and ‘causes’ of all the various factions within the 99.999% of people who are losing out under neoliberalism.


The single best way to do that is to unite everyone behind a common ‘cause’ - the cause of “economic reform”...


… but economics is just so bloody BORING.


Or is it?


At first glance, it is fair to say, economics is bloody boring stuff. But, if you are prepared to take a little journey with me, to move that ‘focus’ a bit, you might find that there are elements of economics that really capture the public imagination, at all points along the political spectrum - from left to right.

An exciting journey into modern economics

The right-wing focus

Anyone who is on the right-wing or conservative end of the political spectrum will agree passionately with these economic statements:


  • Unemployment is high because we allow too many foreign workers to come in on 457 visas

  • If we allow refugees to come to the country they will take jobs that would otherwise go to existing Australian citizens

  • Unemployed people are lazy and could get a job if they applied themselves

  • Single parents should work so that they contribute economically and pay taxes

  • People who are poor shouldn’t have children they can’t afford to pay for

  • Chinese ownership of farm land and real estate is inflating prices, shutting down Aussie industry and making The Australian Dream unaffordable for young people

  • We should return to the gold standard because our currency is worthless without gold backing it

  • Government deficit spending is leaving a debt that will need to be repaid by our grand children

  • My taxes are paying for people to sit around on the dole and take drugs

  • We can’t just print money or we will end up like Zimbabwe or Venezuela

  • Forcing people to save money for retirement will ensure we don’t run out of money to pay pensions for our ageing population

  • If taxes and wages are too high businesses won’t invest in capital or hire people, and our economy won’t grow

The left-wing focus

Anyone who is on the left-wing or progressive end of the political spectrum will agree passionately with these economic statements:


  • We could afford to spend more on social services if we closed corporate tax loopholes

  • We can’t stand by while our Indigenous population suffers horrific health, social and economic outcomes

  • Why should churches, which bring in such a high revenue, pay no tax?

  • We should cut funding to private schools

  • We should not be subsidising polluting industries and should instead tax pollution

  • A universal basic income would ensure no one falls into poverty

  • We have a finance system that allows the 1% to profit while the 99% go deeper into debt

  • Politicians have been corrupted by donations and are beholden to corporate sponsors

  • Bailing out banks when they caused the financial crisis is unfair

  • No-one should need to pay for healthcare, it should be universally available

  • We should have paid for a real Fibre to the Premises NBN rather than the multi-technology mix

  • We should increase, rather than decrease newstart and other social security payments

  • Politicians get paid too much and shouldn’t have such generous pensions, especially if they’re going to cut spending on essential services

The factional punch up

People will argue about these things with PASSION.


They will defend these positions vehemently and aggressively.


So we can get people really fired up about economics. It’s just that we need to be speaking about it in terms of things they care about.


The good news is that we have a whole host of economic theories at our disposal that assuage all these concerns for people, regardless of where they sit politically.


The bad news is that even these economic theorists are debating each other, unable to form a unified opposition to neoliberalism.

Modern Monetary theorists (MMT) vs Positive Money vs Universal Basic Income (UBI) vs Money Circuit Theorists (MCT)

Modern Monetary theorists (MMT economists) despise the fact that “Positive Money” reject “the state theory of money”.


The “old school” Keynesians have always said, since the introduction of MMT, that MMT economists ignore inflation.


The “Universal Basic Income” (UBI) advocates, want to simplify the social security system by providing a universal basic income to all.


MMT economists claim this won’t solve unemployment, and will be hyper-inflationary, and are concerned that few advocates realise the monetarist roots of the UBI policy.


The Money Circuit theorists (MCT economists) and Positive Money advocates argue that bank credit creation is the dominant economic force and that government fiscal policy is an inadequate tool for dealing with a private credit bubble and debt deflation (although Steve Keen has done great work in reconciling MCT and MMT).

Monty Python: The Life of Brian: “Splitter!” See

How to understand this punch up?

So what I want to do here is provide a common framework upon which everyone who is economically against the neoliberal hegemony can agree.


I want to state this in a message that appeals to traditionalists, conservatives, leftists, communists, futurists and nationalists alike, because statistically speaking the overwhelming odds are that if you are reading these words then neoliberalism is not to your benefit.


It is “all of us”’s common enemy.


We need to band together, like all the nations of Earth in the classic sci-fi action romp Independence Day against the common alien enemy that threatens to destroy us all.


Independence Day (1996)


We have allowed the monetarist/neoliberal school of economic thought to become too powerful. We have allowed them to corrupt our political process, to take charge of its direction, and to weaken our ability to change it.


The only way we can achieve change now is with broad consensus, opposing neoliberalism.


Anything less is doomed to fail.

Some fundamental economic truths

So here is what we all agree on:


  • We all agree that everyone should feel safe and supported in our community

  • We all agree that everyone should have access to employment opportunities and should be free from exploitation

  • We all agree that if people work hard they are entitled to enjoy the fruits of their labour

  • We all agree that the government should act in the interests of the voting public and not corporations or private interests

  • We all agree that banks are making too much money

  • We all agree that people’s mortgages are too high and that private debt levels are unsustainable

  • We all agree that if the government spends irresponsibly it can cause problems with inflation and price instability

  • We all agree that people should contribute to the wellbeing of society as much as they are able to, through work and/or the care of others

  • We all agree that we need to preserve our natural environment in order to survive as a species

  • We all agree that everyone deserves access to affordable housing

  • We all agree that everyone deserves access to good quality healthcare

  • We all agree that top quality education should be a right and not a privilege

  • We all agree that historically immigration has had a net positive benefit for our society and our economy


Statistically I’d say, chances are, if you’re still with me on this journey, if you’re reading these words, you probably agree on every single one of those points above.


And I’m not just saying that because I’m posting this on a left-leaning political blogging platform.


I would say that the vast majority of Australians would read the above points and agree with every single one of them, simply because of who we are, as a country -- at our core we are egalitarian.


Sure there are going to be some people who disagree with those things on selfish, individualist, defensive, or divisive grounds, but I’d say those attitudes are an outcome of decades of neoliberalism and that, in our hearts, if we really look past all the conditioning we have been subject to, that 100% of us would agree with every one of those statements.

Taking these truths further

So what economic principles exist that would allow us to fulfil those objectives, without leaving a debt to our grandchildren, giving all our jobs to foreigners, or taxing corporations and churches?



Heterodox economics has the answers:


Taxes and debt don’t finance government spending

This is mostly coming out of Keynesian and Post-Keynesian schools, and especially Modern Monetary Theory, but it is something that all Heterodox schools of economics agree on. There is disagreement on what level of fiscal discipline is required in order to prevent government spending from being inflationary, but everyone in the economic Heterodoxy agrees: taxes are not a revenue tool. They are required to ensure that government spending is not inflationary. Some people say that if we don’t finance spending through taxation or debt then we are “printing money” and that this is automatically inflationary, at least acknowledging the fact that, in reality, the government is not constrained in its ability to create dollars by the need to tax or “borrow” an amount equal to spending.


Whether or not you think that’s a good idea is another story, but anyone concerned about their taxes paying for someone else’s laziness, and anyone concerned that big corporations aren’t “paying their fair share”, can rest easy: government spending creates money and taxation destroys it. We can use taxes to improve equality, reduce inflation, or influence behaviour, but at the moment our economy is in the doldrums. We just need more spending. We can worry about tax reform later. It’s just not the big deal we all make it out to be.


Government spending is only inflationary when it competes with the private sector for resources

Everyone in the economic Heterodoxy agrees that we need a means of ensuring that spending is kept to a level that ensures price stability. We can argue about the best way to achieve that discipline, but we can also all acknowledge the fact that the difference between spending and taxation (referred to as the budget deficit) almost never needs to be zero. We don’t have to “raise revenue” or “cut spending” in order to “repair the budget”. We also don’t have to issue bonds to “raise money” in order to spend. We can just spend, and tax, and issue bonds, if we want to give people a way to save in “a safe asset” and for other reasons that are technical and boring. The bottom line is that spending can exceed taxation by some amount and it won’t necessarily be inflationary. We just need to agree on a means of determining that amount.


Private sector debt is too high

Everyone in the economic Heterodoxy agrees banks are creating too many loans, and that people’s mortgages are too high, that the banking and finance sector is getting too much income as a percentage of GDP, and that we need better regulation of financial institutions and markets.


Spending equals income

Everyone in the economic Heterodoxy agrees that spending is the only thing that can stimulate an economy. When spending is low, then businesses try to cut costs by laying people off and fighting for lower wages. We see wage growth stagnation and that lowers spending further, leading to further layoffs, and so on and so on. When the private sector is not spending enough, the government needs to increase its spending to compensate.


Social security payments and wages are too low

Everyone in the economic Heterodoxy agrees that we need more money being given to people at the bottom end of the income spectrum. People are falling through the cracks and everyone is entitled to a level of income that allows them to participate fully in the economy. We all agree on the need to ensure that everyone has the basic income they need, and also that everyone has access to stable employment opportunities.


Healthcare and education funding are too low

Everyone in the economic Heterodoxy agrees that that the government can and should fully fund universal healthcare, without any need for private health cover, and that there is no need to cut school funding, encourage private schools, or to have people paying for University.


Privatisation of natural monopolies is not efficient

Everyone in the economic Heterodoxy agrees that privatising infrastructure, like energy, roads, water and communications, does not lead to the more efficient operation promised by neoliberalism.


Across the entire political and economic spectrum we agree on so much!

Sure we might not agree on some of the details but let’s focus on what we have in common instead.

The reasons that people disagree with these proposals are usually predicated on the fact that they feel as though they are going to be short changed. But that does not need to be the case.


In fact, I would say, we can keep all sides happy by saying that we can not only dramatically increase social security payments, supply a socially inclusive minimum wage,provide a job to anyone willing and able to work, and reduce private debt and mortgage stress, but at the same time we can also dramatically reduce taxes on earned income and instead develop taxes that focus on wealth, assets and unearned income of the mega rich.


The possibilities are endless and all in the interests of the vast majority of the voting public and their families.


People worried about refugees and foreigners taking their job don’t need to worry: they will always have a job and a basic income guaranteed by the government.


People worried about their taxes supporting drug addicts don’t need to worry: we can cut taxes on earned income and control inflation primarily through taxes on wealth, consumption, or unearned income. We don’t need taxes to pay for things. We only need to ensure we have the resources to produce what we all need.


People worried about corporations not paying their fare share don’t need to worry: we don’t need their money, and in fact we can encourage them to reinvest it by ensuring workers have a strong bargaining position, resulting in higher wages being paid to local employees. We may need to close some tax loopholes, if we want to encourage further investment, or reduce inequality, at some point, but it’s not like we have to do this before we fix our social security payments or move to a policy of full employment, for example.


People worried about a collapse in house prices ruining their retirement can relax: we can dramatically increase the aged pension and we can use direct government support of the housing loan market to ensure people are compensated for losses in assets, and have their ‘standard of living during retirement’ protected.

Moving on from here

The list goes on.


I've highlighted a few benefits but for every emotionally charged economic statement I listed above, from left to right on the political spectrum, there is broad consensus from a growing number of economists on how we can resolve those issues equitably.


Almost every major issue we hear about on a daily basis can be resolved by changing how we run the economy.


We can decide first how we want our society to look, and then set the economy up to facilitate that vision.


If we wanted a severely unequal society where we worked an increasing number of hours to service huge debts, where we had rampant unemployment, no job security, fragile family and community structures, poverty, inequality, and lack of access to healthcare and education, then I would say we’ve done a great job of setting our economy up.


Since, overwhelmingly, we in the majority do NOT want those things, I would say we have done a lousy job of setting our economy up.


In fact we have allowed an astonishingly small number of people to organise the economy so that it looks how THEY want it to look, to our collective detriment.


We can fix this all if we stop quibbling about the details and focus on getting rid of the big ugly neoliberal alien spaceship in the sky.


Let’s unite against the common enemy of neoliberalism.


Anyone interested in opening up a dialogue on how we do this should email me on


I would love to hear from anyone including members and representatives of other minor political parties in Australia.


You can find out more by visiting


Please also consider signing this petition:


I wish i'd written it! Very important insights into why we're screwed. I have no idea myself how to fight neo-Liberalism, but we really need to find a way.

Thanks Kate, I think the only way to fight this is politically, which is why I've started the Australian Employment Party.

If you're interested check out the website and our Facebook Group/forum/YouTube channel/podcast:

We are trying to get to 500 members so we can register and we are also looking to try and build economic consensus among anti-neoliberal minor political parties.

Thanks again!

Yes people are broken into small warring groups, but you can't fix that without addressing the CAUSES.

The primary cause of our division, all that infighting is :

* WHO IS IN POWER (and how they use the power)
* The fact they can rewrite the system to suit them (and their wealthy friends)
* The fact that the people are fed lies constantly in the standard media
* The fact that *all* our politicians are lying about the very nature of money

We have big money politics, paying out millions of dollars in donations, just to push propaganda at us.

We have 70% of our media owned by Rupert Murdoch and what remains ... most of it is "mini Ruperts". That means that the voices heard every day on the news are telling the same repeated lies every day (serious porkers all the time).

The funny thing about a free press is that it only works if you OWN a press, and media ownership in Australia is not appropriately controlled. This has become a central point in controlling people (see also "Fox News"). Giving only one group of people access to the news media has the side effect of producing a false sense of unity in ideas.

Conflicting ideas are simply not heard. This results in keeping greedy wealthy powermad people in power, where they can use their public offices to make MONEY for themselves, their party, and those who put them in power.

They use their political offices to rig the system so they can send cash to the people who funded their election campaigns.

They use their political offices to fiddle the budget in ways that guts the middle and lower classes even more ... all the while blaming the POOREST (those with the least power) for things they simply are not responsible for.

But people like targets. They like to have someone to blame. They KNEW they are being screwed over and the propaganda machine gives them people to target. SO they jump on the bandwagon of anger and HELP the greed-mongers to destroy the nation even further.

This is not going to change without MEDIA OWNERSHIP reform, including an entirely independent ABC (with no more political appointments that destroy it).

It is not going to change without political donation reform that has TEETH (where party power brokers go straight to prison when they break the rules).

You simply cannot stop the "side effects" of the rot, without directly attacking the CAUSES of the actual rot (rot which is entirely intentional).

The use of propaganda to get the voters angry at all the wrong people (fanning the flames of lessor fascism) is causing a lot of trouble. Our media continue to go along with this.

Meanwhile the source of the finger pointing that divides us all (the talking heads, constantly lying to us) are ignored. The press is supposed to reel them in (but they are being paid by the media owners to take sides politically).

As a result the ideologues who are in power (in business and government) - the powerful politicians and political power brokers (and those with enough cash to buy an election) are doing business very openly. It is not being hidden. Our politicians are being quite openly bribed (in quasi legal ways) to push policies based on lies.

The public is upset (and understandably so) becasue they are being hurt. But they are not being hurt by the poor, or the lazy, or the sickly, or the elderly. The people are being led astray becasue there is only one voice.

With only one message, they are buying into the politics of fear and anger - they are buying into the idea that "austerity" is the answer. They do not understand that the economics of nations is not the same as the budget of a lower class family (who can't print more money to pay the bills).

Austerity Propaganda is a major cause of the problems we are seeing. It is fuelling anger at those with the least power, the least voice, the least income and who can cannot bear the attacks.

It is all a dodge, a scam, a way of making those people who have the LEAST be blamed for everything ... somehow mysteriously they are to bear the the burden for all of life's ills. What the propaganda dodge of "austerity" actually does is use the tax system to shove money into the pockets of those who are already so wealthy they could never ever spend it all, by taking it OUT of the infrastructure projects, education and social programs that actually DO fuel the economy.

The poor (and otherwise socially powerless people) are targeted by the neoliberal parties and the press (who are paid to print this crap) and so the poor are lined up as the "supposed cause" of all social ills. The cause of some vast "economic chaos" that they had no ability to produce, have no ability to stop .... and in most cases isn't even real.

Australia is not in debt crisis. There is no debt crisis, yet people BELIEVE there is one. And why? Because of who can get heard. Only one message is being heard. It is the same voice on the air every day on the 7,9 and 10 networks (and on the ABC too, now that the ABC is controlled by Liberal party heavies who are also former Murcdoch employees).

The trouble is that the only political party with enough power to change the situation is Labor. Labor drifted to the centre right long ago. They are no longer who they were. Labor gets it's donations from the very same people that the Liberal party does (and those people ALWAYS get "value for dollars" in their donations). Labor is now (unfortunately) far too enamoured with the power of big money politics and what they can accomplish with propaganda to do ANYTHING to reel it all back in. Labor will not reform the nation, unless the party itself changes.

Ken, that is totally on point. Thanks so much for checking out the article and taking the time to write such a thorough response.

I couldn't agree more that we have a tremendous problem with press partisanship.

In fact I really like the proposition brought up by Eric Beecher on Media Watch recently which was to run public interest journalism the same way we run the court system: federally funded but completely independent.

I would quibble with your point that politicians are lying to us. For the most part they believe what they are saying to be true and there is no shortage of economists who back that up daily.

The other day Secretary to the Treasury John Fraser called for spending cuts. It's not because he is lying about how money works, it's because he's wrong about how money works.

So my question to you is: what will you do to change it?

The petition I linked to is a start, and in addition you could help us build consensus amongst Australian minor parties and economists around economic reform.

I have started a discussion about this on our forum, will you join us?

All links and information are at:

Thanks again!

First excellent article. My humble opinion. Private debt to GDP cause financial crisises not Gov debt. Australia's overall debt has now topped $6 Trillion. Combined Gov debt is $766 Billion of that. Corporate default according to banks is high. 10,280 businesses went into insolvency in last 12 months according to Logic E. So are we propping up businesses with tax cuts that would otherwise fail? Does Corporate tax cuts create growth and jobs or just give dividends to shareholders? Banks are also shareholder driven. Bill Gates stated raising Corporate tax was the way to go. With automation and IT technology taking jobs my humble opinion employment is the largest crisis facing us. Your economic structure is sound, but the world needs to move as one for this to work. Some EU countries are talking your economic structure. With the standard wage.

Hi Kevin, I couldn't agree more with all your statements above. I'm a proponent of Modern Monetary Theory and sometimes the emphasis can be different depending on what school of macro economic thought you most resonate with but the bottom line is that whatever the, Heterodox economic school the outcomes that you have stated above are all the same. We all agree on this, and can unite against it. We can work through the detail later, but first we have to topple neoliberalism.

If you want to get involved I would love to have you as a member of the Australian Employment Party, links at the end of the article. Thanks again for stopping by and taking the time to write such a thoughtful comment.