A neo-liberal is a modified form of liberalism that believes personal liberty is maximized by limited government interference in the operation of the free-market.
The original economic liberalism stems from 18th Century economist Adam Smith who advocated for the government to stop interfering in economic matters. No restrictions on manufacturing, no barriers to commerce, no taxes to hold the market back. The ideas were “liberal” in that they had no controls. Free market, free competition, free for capitalists to make huge profits.
In the heart of the Great Depression of the 1930’s American economist John Maynard Keynes challenged liberalism as the best policy for capitalists. He argued that since employment is necessary for capitalism to grown it can only be achieved if governments intervene to increase employment. His ideas greatly influenced President Roosevelt and his New Deal and did, in fact, improve the life of many people. Following the success of the New Deal, the belief that government should be part of the advancement of the common good, became a wildly accepted idea.
Over the past 25 years, however, capitalists saw their profit rates shrinking which it inspired corporate elites to REVIVE the original economic liberalism. That’s what makes it new or “neo”. Now with the rapid globalization of the capitalist economy we are seeing neo-liberalism on a global scale.
Main Points of Neo-Liberalism:
THE RULE OF MARKET - liberating free enterprise from the bonds of government without concern for social or public damage. Openness to international trade and investment, de-unionizing workers and eliminating worker rights as well as the elimination of price controls. The idea being “Increase economic growth will improve the economy and ultimately benefit everyone” (ie. Reagan’s Trickle-Down Economics)
CUTTING PUBLIC SPENDING ON SOCIAL SERVICES - such as education, health care, the reduction of the social safety net and the maintenance of roads, bridges and water supply. “Reducing government influence throughout the country."
DEREGULATION - Reduce government regulation of everything that could diminish profits. Which includes but is not limited to, the elimination of the Environmental Control Agency and Job Safety Regulations.
PRIVATIZATION - Sell state owned enterprises, goods and services to the private sector. This includes social security, banks, railroads, electricity, schools, hospitals, and water companies to “Increase efficiency” (and profits).
ELIMINATE THE CONCEPT OF THE "PUBLIC GOOD" - and replace it with the concept of “individual responsibility”. “No more government handouts to the lazy freeloader. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps. Hard work equals success.”