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Neoliberalism: A Threat to Social Welfare and Environmental Sustainability

By Denis Hay

Neoliberalism is the commodification of everyone and everything for profit regardless of the negative social or environmental costs.

Neoliberalism, often characterized by its emphasis on free-market capitalism, deregulation, and minimal government intervention in the economy, has been a dominant economic and political ideology globally. However, its impact on society, the environment, and democratic systems has sparked significant debate and concern. This article explores these impacts and argues for the necessity of reassessing and changing neoliberal policies for the greater good of society and the environment.

The Social and Environmental Impact of Neoliberalism

Neoliberalism has been linked to increasing inequality, poverty, crime, violence against women, and environmental deterioration (Antrobus, 2018) (Long, Stretesky, Lynch, Hall, 2019). Its rejection of governmental regulation in favour of free markets has often led to negative consequences for the environment and exposed communities to disproportionate health and safety hazards from corporate polluters (Bell, 2015). For example, in Australia, neoliberalism has fragmented environmental justice struggles and eroded civil society formations advocating for environmental justice (Lukacs, 2017) (State of the Environment, 2021).

The Case for Public Ownership of Essential Services

Public ownership of all essential services is crucial for ensuring that these services are accessible to all, regardless of income. The neoliberal approach often leads to the privatization of these services, prioritizing profit over public good and accessibility. The marginalization of policies informed by social justice and equity in neoliberal educational systems is a stark example of this issue (Grimaldi, 2012).

The Case for Public Ownership of Essential Services: Emphasizing Free Public Education and Healthcare

In the context of public ownership of essential services, a critical focus must be placed on fully funded free public education at all levels and a comprehensive healthcare system that includes dental care. These services are not just commodities but fundamental rights that ensure the well-being and development of a society.

Importance of Fully Funded Free Public Education: Fully funded free public education is a pivotal tool in shaping a fair and equitable society, as it ensures that every individual, irrespective of their financial background, has the opportunity to achieve their full potential and contribute meaningfully to the community, effectively countering the commodification of education seen in neoliberal frameworks and fostering a more informed, capable citizenry, thus strengthening the very fabric of our society.

The book “Resisting Neoliberalism in Education” (ISBN: 9781447350071) offers a critical examination of the pervasive influence of neoliberalism in the education sector and highlights the importance of resistance to its detrimental impacts. Neoliberalism in education has led to increased commodification, competition, and a narrowing of curricular focus, often at the expense of democratic principles, critique, and equality.

The book emphasizes the significance of teachers, headteachers, and educators adopting strategies of resistance to challenge and transform these neoliberal directives in education. This resistance is not only about safeguarding the quality of education but also about preserving the very essence of democratic, inclusive, and socially just educational practices.

The inclusion of such perspectives in the discourse on public ownership of essential services underlines the urgent need to protect and enhance our educational systems from the encroachment of neoliberal ideologies, ensuring they still are accessible, fair, and oriented towards the public good.

Creating a Unified Healthcare System: Merging Private and Public for Better Health for All

In today’s world, the importance of a comprehensive healthcare system, including dental care, cannot be overstated. A fully funded, free healthcare system is crucial for the health and productivity of any society. Healthcare should be a fundamental right, accessible to all, regardless of economic status. Unfortunately, under neoliberal policies, healthcare often becomes a market commodity, leading to unequal access and a financial burden on those less affluent.

However, there is a growing need to rethink this approach. Integrating private healthcare services into a public system can be a game-changer. This integration would mean that the efficiency and innovation often found in private healthcare are combined with the accessibility and equity of a public system. It is about taking the best of both worlds to ensure that every citizen has prompt access to necessary medical services, including dental care.

This approach not only improves public health outcomes but also promotes social equity. It is a direct challenge to the negative impacts of neoliberalism on essential services. By bringing private healthcare under public ownership, we align with the principles of social justice and equity. It is a significant step towards building a society where all citizens, regardless of their financial background, can thrive and have access to quality healthcare.

The Need for an Economy Benefiting All Citizens

Neoliberalism promotes a model of economic growth that often neglects its adverse social and political repercussions, leading to growing inequalities (Jessop, 2018). An economy working for the benefit of all citizens requires a shift from this model, focusing on a fair distribution of resources and opportunities.

The evidence shows that the neoliberal approach, while successful in some respects, has significant drawbacks, especially concerning social justice, environmental sustainability, and democratic integrity. There is a growing need to reassess and reorient policies to prioritize public welfare and sustainable development.

Question for Readers: “How can we, as individuals and communities, contribute to shaping an economy and society that is more inclusive, sustainable, and just?”

Call to Action: Each of us must stay informed, engage in community dialogues, and take part actively in democratic processes to advocate for policies that promote social justice, environmental sustainability, and fair economic practices.

#RethinkNeoliberalism #SocialJusticeForAll #SustainableFuture #DemocraticIntegrity


Australian Labor led centre-left parties into neoliberalism, The Guardian.

How the Myths of “Progressive Neoliberalism” Hollowed Out Australia’s Left, Jacobin.

The debate we’re yet to have about private health insurance, The Conversation.

Articles on Private health insurance in Australia, The Conversation.

An Economy for the 99%: It’s time to build a human economy that benefits everyone, not just the privileged few, Oxfam.

Climate Equality: A planet for the 99%, Oxfam.

Radical Pathway Beyond GDP: Why and how we need to pursue feminist and decolonial alternatives urgently, Oxfam.


Denis Hay: At 82 years young, I stand as a testament to the enduring power of dedication and belief in social justice. My journey has been shaped by a deep conviction that every individual deserves to be treated with dignity and respect and that equal opportunities for thriving should be a universal right.

My beliefs are not just ideals; they are the driving force behind my active engagement in advocating for change. I am deeply concerned about the pressing issue of climate change, recognizing its urgency and the need for immediate, collective action. This is not just a matter of policy for me, but a moral imperative to safeguard our planet for the generations to come.

As an administrator of several Facebook pages, I use my platform to challenge the prevailing neoliberal ideology, which I see as a destructive force against our society and environment. My goal is to foster a political system that truly serves the people, ensuring access to essential needs like decent housing, secure and well-paid jobs, education, and healthcare for all.

In this chapter of my life, my mission is clear: to leave behind a world that is better and more just for my grandchildren and future generations. It is a commitment that guides my every action, a legacy of compassion and advocacy that I hope will inspire others to join the cause.

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  1. Andrew Smith

    “How can we, as individuals and communities, contribute to shaping an economy and society that is more inclusive, sustainable, and just?”

    Avoid LNP, Atlas or KochNetwork think tanks’ policy ideas & ditot Tanton nativist ‘sustainability’ on population/immigration, the latter two share fossil fuel donors in the US, then also avoid most Murdoch led MSM talking points and agitprop targeting above media age voters’ sentiments and fears.

    Don’t obsess about the ‘other’, property, sport, tv and yourselves.

  2. GL

    “The Case for Public Ownership of Essential Services” is all well and good until you get the LNP in power. We all know the results of them needing massive influxes of cash don’t we? Usually one of the first things they do (using the LNP bullshit of, “But, it’s great for the economy and public wellbeing and everything will cheaper.” Cue: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9cQgQIMlwWw) is flog off as many public owned services as fast as possible to corporations and big business that have heavy political and money ties to the LNP.

  3. Terence Mills

    With an election coming up in Queensland next year and Labor suffering under the burden of incumbency – according to the Murdoch press – plus the retirement of a popular and competent LaborPremier, there is every possibility of an LNP government getting up in the Sunshine State.

    Already we know that the LNP are climate change deniers ; in Qld they make no secret of this and they are openly committed to supporting the mining industry by reducing royalties on coal production and opening new mines.

    Neoliberalism is the commodification of everyone and everything for profit regardless of the negative social or environmental costs. In Queensland LNP hopefuls would happily support that statement as a mantra for their ascendancy, they do so every night on Paul Murray Live (a Sky after Dark offering a bit like Bluey but not as well scripted).

    Already, the white shoe brigade are buffing their loafers and pressing their safari suits as they contemplate being propelled into office next year.

    Be Warned !

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