I have just started reading Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism and I cannot recommend it highly enough. This is probably the most important book I have read in the past ten years. It provides the best analysis of the pernicious nature of the free-market capitalism pushed by Milton Friedman and his acolytes that I have ever encountered. Sounds dry, I know, but it is truly riveting reading. You can find reviews here.
On the simplest level, Klein makes the argument that Friedman’s utopian free-market theories cannot be applied in our current world, which has benefitted from the mixed Keynesian economies of thke past, without massive destruction, or shock, that leave those most vulnerable to the depredations of the untrammeled free market unable to defend themselves. Societies so shocked are like individuals whose personalities have been destroyed by torture and who, in their damaged state, will readily respond to the control of their torturer.
Chile and Argentina offer examples of societies so shocked by brutal juntas that their citizens were unable to resist the economic damage done to them by the Freidmanite economists who supervised the economic “rebuilding” of these heretofore relatively successful, mixed economies.
In the U.S., the rebuilding of New Orleans offers an example of the schock doctrine that is closer to home. The level of destruction left by Katrina enabled the Bush administration to not only hand over the reconstruction of the city to corporate pals, but to disable environmental and labor regulation, and privatize city institutions. Business interests have made millions and are set to make millions more, while thousands of poor and middle class New Orleans citizens wait in vain for help. Most recently we have heard about the destruction of public housing–without any viable, long-term plan for those who will be displaced.
How is this relevant to Missouri, you ask …
… just look back in the archives for Hotflash’s excellent summary of Mr. Blunt’s plans for Missouri healthcare A Summary for Dummies of Missouri Health Care for the Poor. As Hotflash notes, both of the programs that Blunt has proposed in order expand healthcare in Missouir privatize what was earlier a purely government function by stipulating that they be administered by private insurance companies.
While I am sure that, as Hotflash notes, electoral politics may play a role in the timing of Blunt’s announcement of his plans, I am equally sure that the goal all along was to destroy successful government plans, apply a little shock therapy so that people, otherwise deprived of coverage, would accept the new, privatized, insurance plans without complaint, grateful to have anything after a couple of years of shifting by on their own.
I also wonder if the decertification of St. Louis schools might offer another example of the local application of shock therapy. I only know what I read in the local papers,