Monday, February 9, 2009


I have come to believe that the term neo-liberalism is a stereotype and pejorative term in the writings of Apple and Giroux. Therefore we do not have a true description of this category of individuals or this economic ideology from the readings. I think that the reason that this is a pejorative term is that some do not wish to admit that free markets (alias neo-liberalism) are a classic example of liberal democracy and laisssez faire economics. For if we confess that free markets are indeed part of classical liberalism, then authors such as Apple and Giroux are then opponents of liberalism and liberal democracy.

It is also interesting that the promotion of free markets, as far as the United States is concerned, is neither left or right of the political aisle. There are democrats, republicans, and libertarians that are proponents of free markets. If we use Giroux's example of Enron as an abuser of the markets, we may also need to know that the failed Enron contributed equally to democrats and republicans. If we look at another abuser of the markets, Global Crossings, we find out that it was under the control of the same man that was chairman of the DNC, Terry McAlliffe. On the other hand, we may look at Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, both proponents of globalization and free markets, but apparently also responsible citizens. Gates was opposed to many of the tax cuts proposed by the Bush administration and Buffett allocated tremendous amounts of money to health care in third world nations. It is said that the Gates/Buffett budget for health care in underdeveloped nations is in excess of the total budget of the World Health Organization of the United Nations.

Giroux in some of his writings also attacks conservative Christianity, opting for liberation theology (a Marxist revolutionary in a priest frock). But if we were to inquire into the amount of humanitarian aid that proceeds from Christian organizations (like Samaritans Purse and World Vision), we might discover that it exceeds any that comes from secular organizations. Christian groups were on the scene after Katrina faster than any government agencies, yet they received little credit for their labors.

With a sense of limited knowledge in global affairs and economics, I feel the need to be careful and to adapt the viewpoints noted by media literacy specialists: protection, pleasure, and preparation. I find Giroux a protectionist view and what would be considered censorship if applied to media. On the other hand, Thomas Friedman may tend more towards pleasure, how we can enjoy the fruits of free markets and globalization. As educators, we should be careful not to endorse opinions, lest we be charged with starting a new secular religion of sorts. It seems that environmentalists have received such a charge as recent as yesterday's news. The job of educators is preparation, which includes investigation of many viewpoints and options, and the sectarian promotion of none. It is not the easy way, but as Siddhartha Gautama might say, it is the middle way.

D. Smith


marisa said...

I suggest you look into what percentage of its income Samaritan's Purse actually spends on humanitarian aid.

Dave Smith said...

Is there an example of a secular organization that does more and better with less? You tell me in $ amount or effect. My contention is that it is more than secular organizations, not its percentage of overhead. It would be easy to find the numbers for the Christmas shoe box deal (Operation Christmas Child), seems to me it was about 17 million kids that got school supplies, socks, gloves, et al. Canada donated 713K, I think the US sent 8 Million. The US population is just under 10 X that of Canada, so they do just a little better per capita. The numbers from Europe, Asia, or South America would be interesting.

marisa said...

My concern is not with secular or religious, it's with that particular organization. Though I have only heard stories second-hand (from employees); that's why I'm wondering what their budget numbers show. I would never give them money, but that's a personal choice. I have no doubt that Christian organizations do a lot of good work in the world. Unfortunately, Jesus doesn't always = trustworthiness. Secular orgs have to work harder to prove themselves because they don't have dogma to back them up.