Ever since Milton Friedman, American economist (1912-2006), who considered himself the heir to Adam Smith, used the term neoliberalism in an essay “Neoliberalism and its Prospects” in 1951, the world has tilted in that direction, starting with Chile as the “Chicago Boys” lab experiment under the watchful eye of the infamous dictator General Augusto José Ramón Pinochet Ugarte, president from 1974-90. The world has never been the same.
Today, neoliberalism reigns supreme across the oceans, whereby control of economic principles shifts from the public sector to the private sector with limited governmental interference, the less the better, open markets, free trade for all and deregulation piled upon deregulation as well as austerity for the masses (look at Greece and Spain for major pushback movements, happening today).
With neoliberalism, the market pretty much determines everything. When looked at from another angle, the world becomes a gigantic commoditized sphere spinning around the solar system, as markets set prices for everything, except for the biosphere, a very big “except for,” indeed.
Does it make sense to set prices for everything, except for the biosphere? Since everything, from wheat to space travel, is market-driven, why not the atmosphere, why not oceans, why not soil? Why leave the biosphere out of the realm of the market?
After all, since survival of the fittest is as old as nature, and since neoliberalism, in practice, dictates ‘survival of the fittest economics’ it mirrors nature’s behavior, although, as it happens in real life, neoliberalism is bottom-feeder economics whereby the rich accumulate more and more and more at the expense of lower and lower and lower wages, less benefits, and crushed self-esteem. What could be worse?
There is a better way, a sharper focus found within eco economics, which ties the whole picture together, the externalities outside of markets as well as everything inside markets, thus, integrating important externalities into the market system, e.g., biophysical limits.