Comment of the Day: Robert Waldmann: Weak-Tea Egalitarianism Plus Infatuation with Markets:
I have now clicked the link and discover that I was totally wrong...
You don't mainly agree with Quiggin. You agree with Quiggin entirely. You both think that what is to be done is "think hard about what are smart things to do, and how to do them" since "a long term trend towards a more humane and egalitarian society. Whether that is true depends on the success of the left in putting forward a positive alternative."
I have two thoughts:
First you guys wouldn't be talking about how finding a positive alternative based on smart things to do and how to do them if you had such smart things to do readily at hand (mind, keyboard, wherever). Sadly, the smart things that come to my mind are higher taxes on high incomes, an expanded EITC and universal health care (been there finally (mostly) done that). Here I think your problem (I don't know about Aussies) is that any effort at thinking of policy reforms is paralyzed by the knowledge that all reform is a pipe dream given GOP obstruction. There are many attractive policy reforms: medicare buy in, universal pre-school, massive expansion of Pell grants (at least), card check to make a union a bargaining group's exclusive bargaining representative, crudely higher capital requirements for banks (financed by a bit of [nonT]ARP that is asset relief program even if assets are not currently troubled, that is force them to sell preferred shares to the Treasury), releasing non violent offenders from prison (maybe with GPS anklets), 24/7 sobriety and once a week drug test HOPE stuff, bring back AFDC etc etc etc . But none is at all politically possible (especially not the last which is almost a joke).
Also, I'd like to make a rule for Prof Quiggin. I wish I could order him to rewrite everything without using the word "neoliberalism". It has two very different meanings. What he calls hard neoliberalism is pro-market liberism, what he calls soft neoliberalism is weak-tea egalitarianism with a fascination with changing old programs for change's sake. Neither is the cure for what ails us, but they remain the poles of elite debate (as it continues as right wing tribalists & leftists approach with pichforks).
In particular Rubin is a moderate egalitarian who has nothing to do with Friedman or Hayek or Thatcher.
It just so happens that some people in Washington DC at the time of the Washington consensus enthusiastically united weak-tea egalitarianism & infatuation with markets. However, those people have learned and repented (dear Brad did you, Brad DeLong, fellow student of Larry Summers, notice how carefully I avoided names or pronouns in the preceding sentence?)