Probity and economic liberalism
Coming out of the utegate/emailgate fiasco, I’ve seen a lot of variants on the claim that interventionist policies, like OzCar, are conducive to corruption, while economic liberalism reduces the scope for wrongdoing. I’ll just offer a few observations (readers with access to Google can fill in the details).
* If the standard of behavior implicit in criticism of Wayne Swan were applied to the Howard government, hardly any minister in that government could have remained in office. That particularly includes Howard and Turnbull.
* The Howard government breached standards of public probity on a scale never before seen with an Australian government, and approached only by the later years of Hawke-Keating and the worst of state governments. Not only did numerous ministers engage in activity that personally enriched them, and would have been regarded as corrupt in any preceding government, but the government consistently undermined the integrity of the public service, engaged in cronyism to an unprecedented extent and (Howard in particular) lied consistently and shamelessly. With relatively few exceptions, economic liberals didn’t complain about this.
* The Thatcher-Major, Reagan and Bush II governments were among the most sleazy and corrupt in the modern history of the UK and US (Clinton, Bush I and Blair were marginally better).*
In summary, the idea that economic liberalism goes with high standards of public probity doesn’t pass the laugh test.
* Defenders of economic liberalism may wish to disclaim one or more of these. But I’m not going to respond, except with derision, to anyone who tries to dodge the issue by any of the standard excuses familiar from apologists for the failure of Communism: never really tried, the fault of the individuals not the theory, etc.Meet the Browns film