Neoliberal Myths

Once the Tax Research Glossary is up and running with sufficient entries to make it useful the next issue that I intend to tackle is the myths that underpin neoliberalism.

Without in any way seeking to be exclusive these might include:

  • There is money in the bank
  • Banks lend out other people's money
  • Tax pays for spending
  • Government debt has to be repaid
  • Growth is the be-all and end-all of the economy and nothing else matters
  • Austerity is the right response to economic downturns
  • Public services are black holes into which money is thrown
  • Government spending can't add to growth
  • Money creation is bound to lead to inflation
  • The government must balance its books
  • We can't afford pay rise during inflationary periods
  • Profit is a measure of anything useful
  • Government is like a household
  • There is no such thing as society
  • There is only taxpayer money
  • Our grandchildren will have to repay our debt
  • The national debt is a burden
  • We can no longer afford the NHS
  • There is no alternative.
  • The right (Conservatives, Republicans, etc) are fiscally responsible and their opponents are not.
  • Increasing public sector pay leads to a wage-price spiral.
  • There is a free market, and cutting regulation (“red tape”) will always improve its functioning.
  • The Bank of England is independent of government.
  • Cutting taxes paid by the wealthiest will ultimately improve the position of the poorest.
  • A larger public sector is bad for the economy
  • There is no magic money tree
  • The private sector is crowded out by the government
  • Markets act rationally and efficiently, on perfect information, with consistent self-interested goals, and always clear.
  • Economic equilibrium exists in the real world.
  • Inequality does not matter (so we can be relaxed about some people getting filthy rich).
  • The self-made man (or woman).
  • The conditions of your life are down to you and you alone.
  • The wealth of one person has no bearing on the poverty of another.
  • Government is dependent on markets. We can't have healthcare or education etc without private sector wealth creation.
  • The purpose of life is pursuit of success in the market place.
  • Everyone is a self-interested, self-maximising economic being.
  • Freedom equates to unfettered consumption.
  • Neoliberalism frees people from bureaucracy.
  • During austerity ” we are all in it together".
  • The “Investor” is king.
  • Savings are investments.

Some of these items very obviously overlap. Reiteration is not a problem when tackling myths.

Suggestions are welcome. Please email them to

The aim of this exercise will be to:

  • Explain what is being claimed
  • Show why it is wrong
  • Offer a counter-narrative that can be used to attack it.

I am hoping it will prove to be useful.