The neoliberalism zombie will keep us poor

Economic ideology

In a previous article, Eric Levitz castigates policymakers for keeping so many people (including me[1]) underemployed or unemployed and effectively calls out claims of a “labor shortage” as fraudulent.[2] It has to be said, there’s little of that here, as Levitz turns to a larger failing of neoliberalism to address inequality, environmental calamity, or even its own failure to fulfill even its own policy making rationale.[3] Neoliberalism has, of course, been intellectually utterly discredited for quite some time now,[4] but anyone thinking this would alter policy making need only look to how the reconciliation package fares against the likes of Joe Manchin and Kyrstin Sinema.[5]

Paradoxically, Levitz highlights a popular complacency about what he calls the “fortification” of social inequality[6] even as workers hold out for better wages and conditions—they certainly aren’t complacent about inequality—and employers continue to whine about their entirely bogus “labor shortage.”[7] Perhaps the conclusion that would result from such a desperately needed synthesis, further illustrating the malice of our elite,[8] would be a step too far for publication.

Eric Levitz, “Neoliberalism Died of COVID. Long Live Neoliberalism!” Review of Shutdown, by Adam Tooze, New York, October 14, 2021,


Derek Thompson, “The Great Resignation Is Accelerating,” Atlantic, October 15, 2021,

Donald Trump

Coup attempt

When the only hope for the survival of a country’s political system rests with the death of a politician, it’s time to wonder how very far away that country is from the status of a “failed nation,” “banana republic,” or a “Third World country.” I am, of course, referring to the U.S. and Donald Trump, with the former so far abjectly failing to effectively deal with the threat from the latter.

Josh Dawsey and Michael Scherer, “Trump asserts his dominance inside GOP, pushing Republicans to embrace his false claims of fraud,” Washington Post, October 14, 2021,

Greg Sargent, “Trump’s latest eruption at Republicans captures a core insight about GOP voters,” Washington Post, October 14, 2021,

  1. [1]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d.,; David Benfell, “About that alleged ‘labor shortage,’” Not Housebroken, June 10, 2021,
  2. [2]Eric Levitz, “Letting the Economy Create Jobs for Everyone Is (Sadly) Radical,” New York, June 4, 2021,
  3. [3]Eric Levitz, “Neoliberalism Died of COVID. Long Live Neoliberalism!” Review of Shutdown, by Adam Tooze, New York, October 14, 2021,
  4. [4]Mark Blyth, Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea (Oxford, UK: Oxford University, 2013); David Fickling, “The Gig Economy Compromised Our Immune System,” Yahoo!, July 25, 2020,; Amir Fleischmann, “The Myth of the Fiscal Conservative,” Jacobin, March 5, 2017,; Jason Hickel, “Progress and its discontents,” New Internationalist, August 7, 2019,; Daniel Stedman Jones, Masters of the Universe: Hayek, Friedman, and the Birth of Neoliberal Politics (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University, 2012); Stephanie Kelton, The Deficit Myth (New York: Public Affairs, 2021); Robert Kuttner, “Austerity never works: Deficit hawks are amoral — and wrong,” Salon, May 5, 2013,; Eric Levitz, “Neoliberalism Died of COVID. Long Live Neoliberalism!” Review of Shutdown, by Adam Tooze, New York, October 14, 2021,; Dennis Loo, Globalization and the Demolition of Society (Glendale, CA: Larkmead, 2011); Thomas Piketty, Jeffrey Sachs, Heiner Flassbeck, Dani Rodrik and Simon Wren-Lewis, “Austerity Has Failed: An Open Letter From Thomas Piketty to Angela Merkel,” Nation, July 6, 2015,; John Quiggin, “Austerity Has Been Tested, and It Failed,” Chronicle of Higher Education, May 20, 2013,; David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu, “How Austerity Kills,” New York Times, May 12, 2013,; David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu, “Paul Krugman’s right: Austerity kills,” Salon, May 19, 2013,
  5. [5]Jonathan Chait, “Joe Manchin Has Put Biden’s Presidency in Mortal Danger,” New York, September 2, 2021,; Jonathan Chait, “Kyrsten Sinema Threatens to Kill Her Own Infrastructure Bill,” New York, September 20, 2021,; Mike DeBonis, “Joe Manchin gets all the attention. But Kyrsten Sinema could be an even bigger obstacle for Democrats’ spending plans,” Washington Post, September 15, 2021,; Democracy Now! “‘We Need to Deliver’: Anger Grows at Sens. Manchin, Sinema over Obstruction of Democratic Priorities,” September 21, 2021,; Maureen Dowd, “Sinema Stars in Her Own Film,” New York Times, October 2, 2021,; Olivier Knox, “It’s Bernie vs Manchin as spending breakthrough remains elusive,” Washington Post, October 7, 2021,; Marianne Levine and Burgess Everett, “Democrats grit their teeth after Manchin lists demands,” Politico, September 30, 2021,; Hans Nichols, “Manchin backs as little as $1 trillion of Biden’s $3.5 trillion plan,” Axios, September 8, 2021,; Greg Sargent, “Biden’s frustration with Manchin and Sinema captures a dark truth,” Washington Post, October 5, 2021,; Greg Sargent, “Bernie Sanders erupts at Joe Manchin, and a deeper dispute is revealed,” Washington Post, October 7, 2021,; David Siders, “‘Her calculation is off’: Sinema dares the left to take her out,” Politico, October 5, 2021,; Marianna Sotomayor, “Waiting for ‘Manchema’: House liberals grow exasperated with two Democratic senators as Biden agenda struggles,” Washington Post, September 30, 2021,
  6. [6]Eric Levitz, “Neoliberalism Died of COVID. Long Live Neoliberalism!” Review of Shutdown, by Adam Tooze, New York, October 14, 2021,
  7. [7]Abha Bhattarai, “Retail workers are quitting at record rates for higher-paying work: ‘My life isn’t worth a dead-end job,’” Washington Post, June 21, 2021,; Sarah Chaney Cambon and Danny Dougherty, “States That Cut Unemployment Benefits Saw Limited Impact on Job Growth,” Wall Street Journal, September 1, 2021,; Fiona Greig et al., “When unemployment insurance benefits are rolled back: Impacts on job finding and the recipients of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program,” J.P. Morgan Chase and Company Institute, July 2021,; Jenn Ladd, “‘This is a real job’: Philly’s restaurant workers dissect the labor shortage, and contemplate a different future,” Philadelphia Inquirer, July 10, 2021,; Eric Levitz, “Letting the Economy Create Jobs for Everyone Is (Sadly) Radical,” New York, June 4, 2021,; Heather Long, “It’s not a ‘labor shortage.’ It’s a great reassessment of work in America,” Washington Post, May 7, 2021,; Heather Long, “‘The pay is absolute crap’: Child-care workers are quitting rapidly, a red flag for the economy,” Washington Post, September 19, 2021,; Heather Long, Alyssa Fowers, and Andrew Van Dam, “Why America has 8.4 million unemployed when there are 10 million job openings,” Washington Post, September 4, 2021,; Heather Long and Andrew Van Dam, “States that cut unemployment early aren’t seeing a hiring boom, but who gets hired is changing,” Washington Post, July 27, 2021,; Bryan Mena, “Unfilled Job Openings Outnumber Unemployed Americans Seeking Work,” Wall Street Journal, August 9, 2021,; Anna North, “The death of the job,” Vox, August 24, 2021,; Matt Petras, “In the continuing pandemic, businesses need workers, but are jobs meeting the needs of residents?” Public Source, August 12, 2021,; Eli Rosenberg, “These businesses found a way around the worker shortage: Raising wages to $15 an hour or more,” Washington Post, June 10, 2021,; Eli Rosenberg, Abha Bhattarai, and Andrew Van Dam, “A record number of workers are quitting their jobs, empowered by new leverage,” Washington Post, October 12, 2021,; Jon Schwarz, “The Business Class Has Been Fearmongering About Worker Shortages for Centuries,” Intercept, May 7, 2021,; Alina Selyukh, “Low Pay, No Benefits, Rude Customers: Restaurant Workers Quit At Record Rate,” National Public Radio, July 20, 2021,; Derek Thompson, “The Great Resignation Is Accelerating,” Atlantic, October 15, 2021,
  8. [8]David Benfell, “Imagine a malicious elite,” Not Housebroken, December 30, 2020,

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