Indoctrination in a Marquette Theology Class
The e-mail above bears a strong resemblance to a recent essay by leftist Theology Prof. Daniel Maguire. Maguire has confirmed to us that he sent the message to students.
Thursday, February 17, 2011 6:30 PMAs is typical with leftist professors, especially those in disciplines far removed from empirical social reality, this message is absurdly ignorant of the facts. For example, during the evil neo-liberal Reagan Administration, the mean income of the poorest 20% of the population increased. It was $10,682 in constant 2009 dollars in 1980, and $11,681 in the same constant dollars in 1989. Of course, the income of the top earners increased faster. But does “social justice” mean that we should envy and want to hurt affluent people?
This fits into the exam question on the triangle of justice.
The Ed Schulz Show on MSNBC, Channel 46 is on at 9:00 pm broadcasting from Madison. I’m not assigning that but you might find it of interest.
Neoliberalism (neoconservatism) is the operating system in the political economy of the Right.
It has these characteristics:
1) “Possessive individualism.” Greedy individualism would describe it better. It embodies the Social Darwinism—survival of the fittest—mentality. It is “Greed is good” theory.
(2) It is anti-government, wanting to minimize the role of the government, and remove regulations. Therefore it stresses “privatization,” taking things out of government hands and giving it to private business. Following the neoliberal script, George W. Bush tried to “privatize” Social Security, handing over retirement benefits to the mercy of the stock market. Water supply has in some places been privatized; airports and roads have been targeted for privatizing.
(3) Neoliberalism is anti-unions. Reagan went after the air traffic controllers union. Governor Walker is going after public worker’s union--teachers, etc.-- denying them the right to collective bargaining.
(4) Neoliberalism asks us to put our trust in the market and in corporations and to allow them to have unfettered freedom.
In England, Maggie Thatcher was an apostle of Neoliberalism. The results were clear: wealth was shifted from the bottom to the top. When she entered office one in ten Britons were listed as below the poverty line. When she finished one in four were in poverty and one in three children.
Ronald Reagan was another devotee of Neoliberalism. As Kevin Phillips, a Republican analysys [sic] and former aide to President Nixon reported in his book The Politics of Rich and Poor: in the 1980s the top 10 percent of American families increased their average family income by 16 percent, the top 5 percent by 23 percent, and the top one percent by 50 percent. The bottom 80 percent of families and workers all lost something and the lower they were on the scale, the more they lost. The bottom 10% lost 15% of their already meager incomes.
Neoliberalism lacks a sense of social justice. It is basically opposed to sharing. Therefore it is wildly opposed to taxes regardless of what taxes do for the common good. It particularly opposes taxes for the wealthy. The billionaire Warren Buffett pays 17%; his secretary pays 30%. It is the opposite of Jesus’ “Blessed are the poor;” it is “Blessed are the rich.”
Remember Aristotle said “Justice holds the city together.” and Thomas Aquinas said “Justice consists in sharing.”
Neoliberalism is basically opposed to justice. It naturally opposes government since government enforces sharing, e.g. in taxes and in curbing monopolies.
The current demonstrations in Madison are in effect protesting neoliberalism.
Poverty rates in the U.K. are misleading, since they are usually measured as the percentage of people below (say) 40% or 50% of the median income. That way if everybody gets equally better off, poverty fails to decline. And if most of society gets better off, and low income groups remain equally well-off, poverty “increases” (notwithstanding that the poor are no worse off).
So this kind of data is perfect for people who want to play games with statistics.
Of course, neo-liberal policies have been all the rage in recent years, and not just in the capitalist USA. European socialist countries have slashed top tax rates, and privatized nationalized industries. And they have done that not because greed has triumphed, but because socialist policies don’t work.
The opposite of neo-liberalism, in fact, is not compassion or social justice, it’s statism.
All professors, us included, have their biases, and students can usually figure out what they are. But the majority allow views on both sides to be presented, and don’t push one side of contemporary political conflict.
We, for example, have not said a single word to our classes either in support of or opposition to the union protests in Madison.
But this professor tells students that this e-mail “fits into the exam question on the triangle of justice.” Students, apparently, are supposed to write about the evil of greedy neo-liberalism and how social justice demands that they side with union demands.
It would require a very gutsy student to take a different view in this class.