Home > Economics - General > Furious agreement, parts II and III

Furious agreement, parts II and III

November 18th, 2008

It’s an analysis familiar to most on the Left. Support for laissez-faire is a hypocritical pretence, typified by Republicans who denounce a universal health care scheme as “socialist” while backing huge handouts for wealthy sugar producers.

For cultural and historical reasons, the United States has never had a proper socialist party of any significance[1]. Instead

the socialism we do have is the surreptitious socialism of the strong, e.g. sugar producers represented by their Washington hirelings.

In America, socialism is un-American. Instead, Americans merely do rent-seeking — bending government for the benefit of private factions.

As I say, familiar stuff. But it’s mildly surprising to see it coming from George Will.

Of course, I’ve been a little mischievous here (and as usual, haven’t included the irony alerts). For Will, the answer is not to do socialism properly, but to rescue conservatism from what he correctly describes as its current intellectual chaos. But, it’s not hard to read his article as suggesting that, absent success in this endeavour, Americans ought to prefer a coherent social democratic policy in which the power of government is directed at real social problems to the kleptocratic “big government conservatism” of the Bushies.

Now, with no mischief or irony at all, let me declare my agreement with Ramesh Ponnuru whose demolition of the “US is a centre-right nation” meme is the most succinct and precise I’ve seen.

I can see the point of saying that the country is “center right” if the point is that we are, compared to most developed countries, a bit more religious, free-market, and nationalistic in orientation. If that’s all it means to say “center right,” though, we could probably go through a long period of political domination by liberals and still qualify. And I’m not sure what else the phrase could mean.

This is spot-on. The centre-right meme is, as Pauli used to say, not even wrong.

fn1 Apologies to Eugene Debs and Norman Thomas, but their support was never broad or deep enough to challenge the Rep-Dem duopoly.

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  1. Joseph Clark
    November 18th, 2008 at 17:38 | #1

    “But, it’s not hard to read his article as suggesting that, absent success in this endeavour, Americans ought to prefer a coherent social democratic policy in which the power of government is directed at real social problems to the kleptocratic “big government conservatism” of the Bushies.”

    Maybe it would be if the Democrats didn’t give such a voice to their shrieking statist wing. The obstinacy and rudeness of the extreme political left make it very difficult to manufacture an otherwise sensible alliance against the conservatives.

  2. November 18th, 2008 at 18:29 | #2

    Joeseph, could you identify an example of this “shrieking statist wing” you refer to?

    Even somebody like Dennis Kucinich is hardly a hardcore statist, if occasionally shrieking about George W. Bush’s bad foreign policy ideas before any other Democrats were prepared to do so.

    Are you referring to the Kossacks, perhaps? Strongly partisan they may be (though less so than plenty who align themselves with the GOP), but the general policy views are basic run-of-the-mill social democracy.

  3. Ikonoclast
    November 18th, 2008 at 20:52 | #3

    I have been struck by the recent denialism by George Dubya. It could be summarised as follows, “It’s been at least two weeks since any really, really bad news so I feel confident in standing up and saying there is nothing wrong with American Capitalism.”

    Then there is the turnaround with what is going to be done with the $750 billion bailout. “We are not going to be buying junk mortgages after all. It seemed a good idea last week but now we’ve changed out mind.”

    Anyone else get the impression that these great leaders and great minds are making it up as they go along? In George Dubya’s case it only takes 2 weeks for all the empirical evidence to be swamped once again by his blind beliefs.

  4. SJ
    November 18th, 2008 at 22:47 | #4

    Robert Merkel Says:

    Are you referring to the Kossacks, perhaps? Strongly partisan they may be…

    I think this is wrong. They are emphatically anti-republican, but not so much pro democrat. They want to purge the democratic party of congresspeople who think and act like the republicans – the “blue dogs” and Lieberman. The Kossacks want to promote a particular policy agenda (roughly speaking, social democratic), not a party agenda, and will try to chop up party members who oppose the policy agenda.

    Statements like Joseph’s: “The obstinacy and rudeness of the extreme political left make it very difficult to manufacture an otherwise sensible alliance against the conservatives” are just wankery and should be ignored.

  5. observa
    November 19th, 2008 at 01:52 | #5

    ‘Anyone else get the impression that these great leaders and great minds are making it up as they go along?’
    If the markets aint telling them loud and clear then perhaps a lot of little birdies got in their ear at the G20 ikon-
    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Japan/JK19Dh01.html
    And the world’s greatest predatory lender aint happy either-
    http://www.reuters.com/article/email/idUSTRE49N1XX20081024
    And should gold futures buyers stand in the market in Dec and demand physical delivery then it’s all over red rover
    The question is, has China heeded it’s close advisor to some extent already-

    ‘Robert Mundell, the Nobel Prize-winning economist from Columbia University who is regarded as inventor of the euro told the annual fall dinner meeting of the Committee for Monetary Research and Education (the CMRE) in New York that China, with its huge dollar surplus, has a great interest in buying gold to hedge its dollar exposure but is unlikely to do anything disruptive to the world economic order.

    Mundell proposed that if the International Monetary Fund really does sell its gold, as is occasionally proposed China should purchase all of it. Since Mundell is officially an adviser to the Chinese government, presumably it already has heard this suggestion from him.’

    Here’s as good a rundown as any on the cold hard facts of life for the US now-
    http://market-ticker.org/
    but did you hear any of that from the Obamessiah?

    Sorry to say we’re only a month or two behind the Big Cahuna here. Notice the Rudd Govt couldn’t face the cold hard facts and let ABC Learning fold. They will follow exactly the same path as the US Govt until it’s bleeding obvious the cost of doing so is ruinous, or lenders refuse to play the game anymore. The party is over but noone wants to call it.

  6. sean
    November 19th, 2008 at 05:51 | #6

    Where to start with this then.

    Memes are a fiction in the cultural evolution sense, which is what the “left” would call “progress” or “progressive”, Memes are wholly part of the construct and development of language.

    Example, the concept of ‘fairness’ has peculiarly English origins. Indeed, other languages such as German take their word for ‘fairness’ straight from the English, there being no direct linguistic equivalent. Fairness is such a loose philosophical construct as not to be real even as a social construction.

    SO what are we then? Are we rational beings going forward with progressive leaps, or is their innate within us a moral code, a natural law that binds us to our foundation of humanity?

    Bad news for the left I am afraid, it seems CATT scanners looking into our minds at work seem to point to a Natural law/Moral instinct that no amount of “progress” will submerge.

    “Morality, then, is still something larger than our inherited moral sense, and the new science of the moral sense does not make moral reasoning and conviction obsolete. At the same time, its implications for our moral universe are profound.”

    This my Friend Mr Q, is from a real scientist, Stephen Pinker

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/13/magazine/13Psychology-t.html?pagewanted=8

    And bad news I am afraid to report, humans do seem to be natural “centre right” or Conservative.
    If there is indeed a shared moral code, then that explains the “principle agent” problem as one that cannot be over rode. Folks act in their self interests, end off.

  7. BilB
    November 19th, 2008 at 05:52 | #7

    I think that “centre right” for the US is a fair average assumption. You have to think what “right right” might be like. Under Bush the US was probably “right by right right centre”, and under Obama it will probably swing rapidly to “centre by centre centre right”. But certainly not “centre”, God won’t allow that to happen.

  8. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    November 19th, 2008 at 08:41 | #8

    Americans ought to prefer a coherent social democratic policy in which the power of government is directed at real social problems to the kleptocratic “big government conservatism” of the Bushies.

    I don’t necessarily disagree with this view. The impact of high taxes on low yield social investment (low yield in the sence that profit accrues slowly to those that invest) means that government money is the main form of investment that will get the job done.

    Good socialism (ie low tax socialism) is better than bad capitalism (ie high tax capitalism). Smart social democrats should dump their high tax rhetoric and high tax mentality and focus on delivering the social programs they believe in via light weight government. The electorate would love them for it. For instance the Australian social democrats (the ALP) could not knock John Howard off his perch until they ditched their pro tax rhetoric.

    The real failing of free market advocates over the last 40 years has been to focus too much political capital on the privatisation of public assets (or on opposition to public investment) and not enough on removing barriers to trade. Admittedly they have done a lot to remove trade barriers between nations but not enough to reduce the more significant trade barriers between households (ie domestic taxes).

    Give me a social democrat that cuts taxes over a conservative that balances budgets.

  9. gerard
    November 19th, 2008 at 09:50 | #9

    Does the US Democratic Party really exist – or is it just an elaborate front? Today Senate Democrats overwhelmingly voted to keep Lieberman, an Independent, who spent the past year vigorously supporting McCain, Palin, and GOP Senators, to retain his position of Homeland Security Chair.

    He used this position in the previous term to shut down any official investigation into the government handling of Katrina. He has blocked any oversight of Bush Administration actions.

    Immediately after an historical election win in Congress and the White House, the Democrats eagerly hand over one of the most important government positions to an avowed political opponent, who worked for a failed, loathesome campaign that accused Obama of being an Islamic Marxist traitor with terrorist connections, who wanted to sexually educate toddlers. Support for Lieberman was almost unanimous from the Democrats. Are they a political party at all?

  10. Andrew
    November 19th, 2008 at 09:54 | #10

    JQ, unless I’m wrong, you seem to very much want to believe that the US is not centre-right – even to the extent of redefining what centre-right means.

    Why does the notion that the US is centre-right offend you so?

  11. smiths
    November 19th, 2008 at 10:09 | #11

    centre-right – ha, ha, ha

    its a one party state with two divisions run by the military industrial complex,
    it has 700 military bases across the world
    starts aggressive wars with impunity,
    and meddles in everyone elses affairs
    leaves its poor to fend for themselves …

    centre-right? how many fingers am i holding up?

  12. James Haughton
    November 19th, 2008 at 11:26 | #12

    Sean,
    Apply a bit of logic. Pinker is talking about human universals. If they are truly universal, they can’t possibly be the property of one particular slice of the political spectrum. If they were, they wouldn’t be human universals.

    Your conclusion, “Folks act in their self interests, end off” is not just a non-sequiter but directly opposed to the article. The only people who act exclusively in their own self interest are the born or brain-damage-induced psychopaths. To quote the article “So a biological understanding of the moral sense does not entail that people are calculating maximizers of their genes or self-interest.”

  13. observa
    November 19th, 2008 at 12:32 | #13

    ‘Americans merely do rent-seeking — bending government for the benefit of private factions.’

    ‘Americans ought to prefer a coherent social democratic policy in which the power of government is directed at real social problems to the kleptocratic “big government conservatism” of the Bushies.’

    Therein lies the dilemma for us all, nowhere better encapsulated than Repubs and Dems arguing now over whether $25bill previously allocated to encourage ‘green cars’ should be diverted to saving the Big3 automakers now. We can smile wryly, but our Govt had no sooner announced corresponding billions for similar greening than GM and ditto Ford announced to the world they’d be unlikely to be around in the new year to take up the generous local offer. Ah well sometimes it’s the thought that counts and perhaps the money can be better spent in propping up Eddy Grove’s dream.

    The Big3 and all who sail with them are facing ruin now, largely on two counts. Firstly they can’t renew borrowings, the result of natural deleveraging of the historical well meaning attempts of central bankers to print money and protect us all from bad things that go bump in the night. Add in the past largesse of pensions and medical insurance that sees Big3 workers currently costing $29US an hour above their Toyota, Hyundai, etc counterparts and there is a certain air of inevitability about it all. Rent seeking from either side of amenable politics has its limits as Big3 shareholders and UAW workers are about to discover. Perhaps recessions/depressions are really cleansing mechanisms after both sides of politics have loaded up the economic donkey well beyond its capacity to haul. At some stage their carrots and sticks are useless and the stationary donkey is braying ‘get em off me’.

    With the Commonwealth Bank and ANZ announcing the day of the no deposit home loan is dead and markets for fanciful derivatives to find a home for all that funny money from thin air likewise, any moves to more regulators and regulations is ludicrous. What we really need is some mechanism to protect us from the rent-seekers and the divine right of elected kings, although probably only eternal vigilance will cut it. My take is we need to agree that everyone should face level playing field price. In that sense doling out emission permits scares the living daylights out of me as more of the same with the inevitable result. Sensibly structured price rather than whimsical quantity measures should be our guide in all such matters and the social safety net the same for all.(eg Ansett pilots, Mitsubishi workers, GMH workers and ABC Learning mums) It’s called Centrelink and the right to claim any broad institutional entitlements and make the best of your own particular circumstances under that umbrella. That’s not to say Govt shouldn’t intervene in natural disasters (a la Brisbane storms)for immediate safety concerns and to aid reinstatement of public infrastructure. However it shouldn’t extend to bailing out the privately uninsured, not least marginal farmers with drought aid and the like. As a wise man once noted, protect everyone from their own folly and you’ll end up with a world full of fools. Unfortunately we are surrounded by them at present.

  14. Michael of Summer Hill
    November 19th, 2008 at 12:40 | #14

    John, I will be a little bit mischievous here by saying the ‘true Republicans’ in the USA would not have a bar of the Richard Craniums currently in office for the kleptocratic “big government conservatism” of the Bushies destroyed the underlying fundamental principles and values held by the true conservatives such as William F. Buckley. Others, including Lord Bingham are now voicing their opposition to the Iraq war calling the actions by the US and its allies as “a serious violation of international law’.

  15. Jim Birch
    November 19th, 2008 at 13:00 | #15

    Sean

    You really should read that article again – and the associated research – looking for things that might contradict your world view rather than just going with your confirmation bias. I find that this research (which I follow) indicates that an “instictive” fairness and altruism are part of our biology. It also makes evolutionary sense. The real problem is not that we only have one type of impulse – dod-eat-dog by your reckoning – that is being denied by some crazed leftwing conspiracy – but rather that we have contradictory impulses, competing fairness and self interest instincts that we need to integrate, one way or another.

    Moreover, experimental evidence indicates that people who are stressed – eg from hunger, or from a violent childhood, or perhaps even from watching too much tv – actually move in the self interest direction. This is, of course, well known anecdotally, but there is now a growing body of behavioural and neurological science to back it up.

    Have you considered that your need to deny fairness and altruism may be at least partially a function of your stress level?

  16. Socrates
    November 19th, 2008 at 13:05 | #16

    If the US now or recently is “centre-right”, then Ronald Reagan was a socialist and Richard Nixon was a communist. They both had economic policies a long way to the left of the current concensus. I think the US was Centre-Right, but is now Far-Right. Indeed they should be called the “radical right”. They do not match any definition of “conservative” I have read.

    Also “true republicans” can hardly disown the Bush era. Religeous fundamentalists who are economics-illiterate, big-government, and protectionist made up the majority of Bush’s support. Without them, they would have hardly won a single Senate seat in the past ten years, let alone the presidency.

  17. smiths
    November 19th, 2008 at 13:15 | #17

    well said jim birch,

    sean is just trying to confirm his own characteristics as wider human characteristics

    like a drunk encourages everyone else to drink

    if the entire species was centre-right (which of course is a logical impossibility) then the species would have destroyed itself hundreds of thousands of years ago

    people need to face the fact that a greed and violence based mafia style system has come to dominate and even trying to place it in some sort of political spectrum is ridiculous

  18. jquiggin
    November 19th, 2008 at 13:24 | #18

    To be fair to Sean, Pinker engages in some similar equivocation, particularly in The Blank Slate, which is a lot below the standard of his work on language, where he has real expertise. My thoughts bloew.

    http://www.uq.edu.au/economics/johnquiggin/Reviews/Pinker0211.html

  19. November 19th, 2008 at 13:51 | #19

    Nice review @18 prof Q. Pinker’s and Fodor’s modular mind has far more holes in it than they are willing to admit.
    And what was with that weird last paragraph of Pinker’s NYT article comparing acting on global warming to religion? How can you simultaneously extol tit-for-tat and “play nice first” as a master strategy for Prisoner’s Dilemma, and then say that the US’ actions (or lack of them) on global warming won’t affect the actions the Chinese and Indians take?

  20. Andrew
    November 19th, 2008 at 13:59 | #20

    Smiths,

    You seem to be conflating a far right view of the world with a centre-right view. Is that because you are so far left that anything right of centre is one and the same?

    centre-right is not about greed and violence. That’s probably a fairly offensive statement to the vast bulk of Australians who are centre-right (including most in the ALP).

  21. smiths
    November 19th, 2008 at 14:29 | #21

    andrew,

    at this point, all you need to do to be classed as a crazy lefty is point out the the income gap has been increasing or that the planet is in trouble

    what honestly qualifies as centre right?

    i think that US is post democratic, resembling a more sophisticated kind of corporatism or fascism

    i think the election process is a show to disguise the real state of the nation,

    it has disregarded law, the environment, its own people and any restraint on its military or strategic objectives …

    how the hell is that centre-right?

  22. observa
    November 19th, 2008 at 14:55 | #22

    Nothing like a good depression to make us all wax a bit philosophical eh? The practical problem for those of us caught in the middle between the rent seekers and victimhood rewarders is how to keep them off our backs. A glaring problem is the political need to pander to marginal seats and the inevitable pork barrelling. That’s where I think we need to elect our two Houses in reverse. A national proportional based Lower House committed to national direction and issues, with a rigorous seat based house of Review. At present it’s obvious Australians as a whole would vote for sensible policy to fix the MDB, yet the need to gain member seats within the Basin continually frustrates the political will to do so. Various other marginal seat pork barrelling down the years are equally galling yet they are inevitable with the current system.

  23. November 19th, 2008 at 15:57 | #23

    PrQ,
    To me, a major problem with the social-democratic world view is the greatly increased opportunities it gives for rent seeking in the first place. Social democrats have long argued for such things as tariffs, subsidies, quotes, industry policies, regulations and monopolies etc.
    It is the fact that these all exist that allows the rent seeking behaviour to occur. Eliminate them, scale back government and you have a system that is much less prone to such behaviour in the first place.

  24. smiths
    November 19th, 2008 at 17:20 | #24

    what a load of rubbish,

    left to its own devices capitalism produces monopolies and cartels at the expense of the vast majority of people and any democratic systems,

    all of those things existed before social-democracy did

    rent seeking is as old as humans, jeez even ants have rent seeking in their structure

    you just love to have a go at social democracy,

    honestly andrew what would you prefer?

  25. Michael of Summer Hill
    November 19th, 2008 at 17:31 | #25

    John, if I may respond to Andrew Reynolds by saying social democrats prefer to live in a society which is stable and equitable. And if I am not mistaken Obama will continue in the same tradition.

  26. jquiggin
    November 19th, 2008 at 18:02 | #26

    A view of social democracy focused on trade protectionism seems rather strange. In general social democrats have preferred Keynesian macroeconomics and direct public job creation to these devices, which are more associated with traditional conservatism. And the central focus of social democracy is on redistribution through the tax-welfare system, not through trade and industry policy.

  27. November 19th, 2008 at 18:57 | #27

    smiths,
    Your first two sentences are just bald contentions, ones I would argue are not supported by any evidence – but this does not surprise me.
    .
    Michael,
    I think we all would – the question is how to get there. I am not doubting rent seeking exists everywhere, the question is how to minimise it. With a small government with limited powers I would argue the potential for rent seeking and bald corruption is minimised. “All power tends to corrupt…” etc. Reduce the power that must be exercised through coercion (i.e. government power) and you end up with less perverse use of that power.
    .
    PrQ,
    Surely, where about 50% of the production of a nation is being redistributed through the tax and welfare system, along with large quantities of regulation (as we currently have) the potential for rent seeking is greatly increased? Social democracy (as it is practiced) also has brought us many of the things mentioned – our own ALP seems determined to increase the use of industry policy with direct subsidies to (for example) vehicle manufacturers. The ALP also has historically argued for an extensive use of trade policy. Is the ALP not a social democratic party?

  28. observa
    November 19th, 2008 at 19:24 | #28

    ‘social democrats prefer to live in a society which is stable and equitable.’

    And yet the experience of central bankers’ very quest for stability has produced massive instability in the long run and some rather inequitable outcomes as the Gordon Geckos they spawned, absconded with their easy money. It also facilitated taxation by stealth, so much so that many Govts faced with such a soft option, were comfortable with amassing public debt. Where is the equity for ordinary taxpayers in all that now?

    ‘left to its own devices capitalism produces monopolies and cartels at the expense of the vast majority of people and any democratic systems’

    Well we have all just seen how some well intentioned meddling can achieve the same result. As for producing monopolies and cartels, we need to understand that you don’t need 20 supermarket chains or airlines in Oz to get cheap groceries and airfares. Whilst economies of scale and lumpy capital can be a barrier to entry, it is now often the case that concentrated fossil fuel use, coupled with computerised logistics can be more of a barrier to entry because of such extended cheap reach by the few. Also there can be more cartelised behaviour between a GM and its UAW workforce, than between GM, Chrysler and Ford, cartels they’ll all squawk separately in unison to continue of course.

    It is only sufficient that there be no barriers to entry for us all to share the benefits equitably (and don’t you ever let a chance go by here old son). To that end, not to mention impacting the reach of those fossil fuels, we could ameliorate Ken Henry’s concern about all those hairy nosed taxes and opt for reliance on simpler, level playing field, carbon and resource taxing. That way our budding new entrant would only need to concern himself with Mr Macawber’s wise words and not all the plethora of accounting he has to hurdle now. That will leave him much freer to concentrate on new proposals to raise taxes, other than by stealth, among other things.

  29. observa
    November 19th, 2008 at 20:09 | #29

    Ha! I’m on the ATO email bulletin list and social democrats everywhere will be pleased to know the ATO has joined central bankers in the good fight for all that stability and equity-

    ‘Tax Commissioner Michael D’Ascenzo today issued a taxpayer alert warning multinationals that the Tax Office will be closely examining claims for foreign business losses shifted to Australia.

    “We have seen attempts to aggressively transfer existing or unrealised losses from the foreign operations of another business into Australia, possibly as a result of the current global economic environment,” Mr D’Ascenzo said.’
    yada, yada…

  30. Nick K
    November 19th, 2008 at 21:22 | #30

    The defeat of the Republicans in the US and the Howard government in Australia was in part a result of the fact that they abandoned any pretensions of limited government and presided over large increases in government expenditure.

    There are a few reasons why conservative parties can’t remain successful by promoting the growth of government. One is that if voters face a choice between two parties that both support more government expenditure, people are more likely to simply go with the party that they believe will put more of the resources into things that impact most people more (like health and education) and that they believe cares more about the outcomes. And voters who favour less government and lower taxes are more likely to vote on other issues once neither party represents their economic views.

    Moreover, when conservative parties support higher government expenditures it represents a complete intellectual surrender to their opponents. And it has the general effect of shifting the entire spectrum further to the left, enabling left-of-centre parties to advocate even more government expenditures without being seen to be too radical or economically risky.

  31. Nick K
    November 19th, 2008 at 22:10 | #31

    JQ at 26, it may be true that trade protectionism is not necessarily a leftist position. I too have often thought it strange why any leftie would want to prop up monopoly profits of inefficient businesses.

    That said, it is generally true that social democratic parties have become more protectionist in recent years. Obama shows more signs of supporting protectionism than McCain would have. And the ALP appears more willing to prop up our car industry than the Coalition.

    It seems that social democratic parties tend to support protectionism whenever they can redistribute enough of the economic rents to groups more likely to support them, such as unionised workers.

  32. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    November 20th, 2008 at 07:39 | #32

    Even if social democrats didn’t or don’t support protectionism (a doubtful propersition anyway) their advocacy of high income tax rates still imposes a tariff on interhousehold trade. A 50% income tax on marginal production is like a 100% tariff on the trade in such marginal production. Why should we have a 100% tariff on the trade in scarce services such as heart surgery, dentistry or legal advice.

    In practice conservatives and social democrats are both enemies of liberty and prosperity. They are like two sides of the same coin.

  33. observa
    November 20th, 2008 at 13:11 | #33

    Please nothing more like this, observa. Stick to comments on the topic at hand with no random links to news stories or opinon pieces. I’m putting you on automoderation for now.

  34. bill broome
    November 20th, 2008 at 14:43 | #34

    I’ve deleted a bunch of recent comments. Please read the comments policy regarding sockpuppeteering. If you want to change pseudonyms, please make a clear announcement that you’re doing so. Automoderation for you too.

  35. Michael of Summer Hill
    November 20th, 2008 at 17:09 | #35

    John, if I may reply to Andrew by saying governments of all persuasions are guilty of implementing ‘disguised protectionist’ policies and makes a mockery of those who profess to be free marketeers.

  36. TerjeP
    November 20th, 2008 at 20:24 | #36

    Michael – surely you are not suggesting that people lie about their world view in order to secure the votes of those that believe in a given world view. That would be wrong wouldn’t it?

  37. Michael of Summer Hill
    November 21st, 2008 at 09:59 | #37

    John, if I may reply to TerjeP by saying I’m a realist even though the WTO forbids ‘disguised protectionism’.

  38. smiths
    November 21st, 2008 at 10:40 | #38

    john, may i ask why michael is addressing everything to you?

  39. November 21st, 2008 at 13:30 | #39

    John,

    If I may answer Smiths by saying that perhaps Michael doesn’t like me and we are not on speaking terms so everything must go via mother. ;-)

  40. November 21st, 2008 at 16:29 | #40

    Perhaps I may venture a couple of other possibilities:
    1. Maybe he is just being extra polite at the moment.
    2. He could be a politician (or former one) in the habit of addressing everything through the chair.

  41. Michael of Summer Hill
    November 22nd, 2008 at 10:35 | #41

    John, if I may reply to Smithy, Terje and Andy by saying you should thank Professor Quiggin for allowing all of us to voice our opinions. And since we are all on good speaking terms why not join in rally on December 2 in support of CFMEU official Noel Washington who faces fines of up to $22,000 and/or 6 months jail for refusing to submit to an ABCC interrogation. Maybe you will witness history in the making for crunch time has come for the Rudd government.

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