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a neo-liberal mode of governance « Previous | |Next »
March 13, 2006

I think that Philip Mendes' account of the federal Treasurer Peter Costello's perspective on the welfare state is right. Mendes argument is that Costello's perspective is a neo-liberal one, not the sociallly conservative one of John Howard.

SharpeVH1.jpg The Sharpe cartoon captures the classic opposition between the free or deregulated market and the wefare state of social democracy in terms of the imagery of Star Wars.

A neo-liberal mode of governance is characterised by four main features:

*welfare dependency in that government welfare programs have a "perverse" effect: that is, they produce poverty instead of relieving it;

*mutual obligation that is based on the 19th-century distinction between the deserving poor who deserve support, and the undeserving poor who are to be disciplined;

*charitable welfare which reverses the modern shift to state-guaranteed income security entitlements to return the provision of welfare to private charities and churches;

* public choice theory and the exclusion of advocacy groups who have "captured "process of democratic government then allegedly manipulate the redistributive process to their own advantage.

Mendes rightly says that Costello is arguably more influenced by economic liberalism than social conservatism. In contrast Howard's social conservatism aims to undermine the value-free welfare state in order to restore traditional social values and morality, but also tends to act as a brake on narrowly economic judgments and agendas.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 4:02 PM | | Comments (2)


Yet both the economic liberalism of Costello and social conservatism of Howard have managed to increase the burden of government on the people by nearly nine percent of GDP over ten years.

Suggests to me they are both statists.


yes I agree. The Howard Government is statist and it has little interest in the classic liberal conception of a minimal government. It spurns that part of the liberal heritage.