The most succinct, clear summary of the differences between neo/classical liberalism and welfare liberalism is not found on an academic webpage or a political blog, but on yahoo.com of all places.
This is so good, I copied the whole thing in case it gets deleted. Emphasis added in bold.
Welfare and neo-classical liberalism are the same on many fronts but differ on very key issues. Neo-classical liberalism tends to be the more conservative side of liberalism, republicans, where as welfare liberalism tends to be more to the left, democrats. Both sides agree on the idea of individual freedoms and liberties, however, that seems to be the extent of their similarities even though they were born from the same set of ideals.
Neo-classical liberalism has been the liberalism of choice in America and Great Britain until recent years when things seem to have shifted to more of a welfare liberalism state. The largest difference between the two liberalism trends seems to be the idea of social Darwinism. Neo-classical liberals believe that society and economics are every man for himself and the strongest and hardest working survive. This tends to be the view point of laissez faire capitalists. Corporations benefit from social Darwinism because it gives them a way to justify their “do anything for a buck” attitude and right or wrong they can justify their actions by claiming social darwinism. Neo-classical liberals like a small government that stays out of the way. They think that government interference disrupts the natural ups and downs of the market. In a social sense, neo-classicals believe that the government should stay out of people lives unless it is absolutely necessary. Neo-classical liberals seem to hold a much higher value on property and material than do welfare liberals. They fight for private property rights and minimal government interference with property, where as a welfare liberal might be more likely to take up the land for public use.
Welfare liberalism believes that the government is not just a necessary evil but should be a tool to help the people. Welfare liberals support, obviously, a welfare state where the government supports the individuals who are less fortunate, where in such cases a neo-classical liberal would say it is social Darwinism. A major difference is the idea of regulation on the competition. The general belief of a Neo-classical liberal is that anything goes, social Darwinism, where as a welfare liberal might think that the government should regulate corporations and companies to avoid monopolies, corruption, and various other problems that come along with no oversight in competition. Welfare liberalism believes in the security of property much like neo-classical liberals in that they don’t want it to be public owned. They differ in the amount of regulation they want to put on it. For example, if you own a company you are free to make the money off of it as long as you adhere to all the regulations provided. In this situation a Neo-classical liberal would like to make money off the company with little to no regulation at all to possibly increase profits and have a greater advantage in social Darwinism. Welfare liberalism invokes policies such as affirmative action that try to implement as equal opportunity as possible, this idea is rejected by the Neo-classicals.
Neo-classical and welfare liberalism are born of the same ideology but differ greatly on social as well as economic issues. One likes regulation and equal opportunity where the other says anything goes and it’s all about survival of the fittest. While they have many similarities they are inherently different and there is no true answer as too what ideology is better. The United States seems to be a hybrid of the two liberalisms and picks and chooses from the two in order to formulate policy.
The surging stock market and valuations of web 2.0 apps juxtaposed with record wealth inequality and low labor force participation is evidence of social Darwinism, and the left is powerless to stop it. Those who are failing to participate in the wealth creation boom tend to be on the left side of the bell curve, lacking the mental faculties to acquire the skills society values. Through the free market and meritocracy, rich, smart people are being rewarded for their economic contributions with higher wages and rapidly rising stock prices and real estate. They, the cognitive elite, are pulling ahead of everyone else, with the eventual attainment of eternal salvation through mental uploading, transplantation and inner solar colonization.
Is the meritocracy threatened by welfare liberalism? As a nation, there is some risk, but in many areas such as the Bay Area and on Wall St., the meritocracy is thriving. The meritocracy enables the best and the brightest to get ahead through their talent and hard work. The welfare left, on the other hand, wants quotas and equal outcomes, to the detriment of the economy and more qualified persons. The left is attacking Facebook and Google for not employing enough blacks and Hispanics. The good news is with Obama’s approval rating at record lows, stocks surging, and the GOP poised to win many seats in the house & senate, the left is losing their war on success. Maybe they are winning the culture war, but they are losing the economic war.
I’m neither a conservative nor a liberal, but a pragmatist who believes policy should create an environment that is conducive to the creation of wealth, prosperity and innovation for the individual and corporation, with minimal interference from the government, except in crisis and to maintain some degree of law and order. The most efficacious policy is supply side economics and monetarism, in addition to low regulation, the meritocracy, and free market capitalism – with the occasional bailout for to big to fail when things go wrong. While both parties – the democrats and republicans – have imperfections, the GOP the right more often than not. They understand you cannot create wealth by taking it from the most productive members of society and redistributing it to the least. They understand that a free market, for it’s occasional flaws, is the best mechanism for wealth creation. The idea behind the Grey Enlightenment is to appropriate some of the ideas of the GOP and merge them with classical liberalism to create a hybrid ideology, or a more accurate way of describing and understanding the world as it is – an undertaking that requires we look beyond the predictable partisan divides. Unlike other blogs, we don’t believe in creating alternate realities, wishful thinking, or in eschatology. If the content shocks you, makes you mad, it’s not because I’m making this up. It’s all real. This is discussed further in the into page.