Published in



You Need to Be Better

A letter from your friend Neoliberalism

Photo by Library of Congress on Unsplash

Hello, it’s me. Your good friend neoliberalism.

What? You didn’t realize that we were friends? Or that I’ve been living in your bedroom? That’s probably because I spend most of my time under your bed. And in your closet. Don’t worry about it.

Where’d I come from? I’m not sure. But I think it had something to do with Margaret Thatcher. Or Ronald Reagan.

Oh, and whatever you do, don’t try to define me. Let the market do that. And don’t listen to that fool Noam Chomsky when he tells you I’m the immediate and foremost enemy of genuine participatory democracy on the planet. That’s crazy! He’s just jealous of what we have. You know I’d never hurt you, baby.

This isn’t about me. It’s about you. I’ve got problems with you. You’re a loser and you need to be better. You don’t want to make the market angry, do you?

I’ve bit my tongue as long as I can about this Covid-19 business. How can I help you if you won’t help yourself? It’s time for you to pull yourself up by your bootstraps. And you’ll need to pull your mask down to do it. Yes, you might catch an infectious disease that, according to scientists and doctors, can affect most, if not all, body systems, including heart, lung, kidney, skin, and brain functions. But how are you going to win friends and influence neighbors without exposing that winning smile? Have you paid attention to the Dow lately? I mean, come on! It’s time to ignore the experts and listen to the market. When has the market ever let you down?

It’s your fault that you’re getting older, uglier, fatter, sicker, and poorer. I won’t have it. So I’m going to need you to start waking up at 4am to exercise. You’ll need some new clothes too. Hoodies are for losers. And what’s the deal with your Instagram? No more self-loathing memes. Post like a winner and live like a winner. And I don’t want you spending time with your family. They’re a bad influence on you. There’s work to do. And the only way for you to be better is for you to be in your office. So you can be available for in-person evaluations to point your flaws and weaknesses. Publicly.

Don’t worry about the increasing concentration of wealth. Humans are killing off species at an unprecedented rate? Big deal! And politics? Blame the dumb people. You know the Democrats. Or the Republicans. Whatever.

I just need a little more from you. Until you die. Then I’ll need a little more from your children. We’ve got such a good thing going, baby. Don’t mess this up!

With Resilience,


Samuel Jaye Tanner is a professor in the Penn State system, a writer of some (mostly ill) repute, an improviser, and an altogether terrible basketball player.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Samuel Jaye Tanner

Samuel Jaye Tanner

Writer, teacher, professor, improviser. Some stuff is serious. Some is not. Can you guess which is which? Oh, there’s this too: