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End of an era (for me, anyway)

April 3rd, 2012

A little while ago, I got a message from the Fin to tell me they wouldn’t be running any more columns from me, as they are bringing in some new commentators. Given my run-in with Michael Stutchbury (then at the Oz, now Editor-in-Chief of the Fin) last year, and other changes at the Fin since he came on board, I wasn’t surprised. Still, it’s the end of a long-running association, which started, ironically (at least in the Alanis Morrisette sense of the term) when Michael was opinion editor there. My first column, advocating the exclusion of food from the GST, ran in 1992. I wrote occasional pieces after that, and I was a regular columnist for 15 years, which is a very long stint by Australian standards, at least for someone who isn’t a full-time journalist.

I’ve enjoyed it a lot, and I think I’ve made a useful contribution, but now it’s time to move on. I’ll certainly continue to take part in public debate, through this blog and other media, but this gives me a chance to stop and think more clearly about where I want to go with this part of my life.

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  1. charles
    April 6th, 2012 at 22:09 | #1

    It’s a sad day for the fin review as they slide into becoming just another tabloid, a trend that started months ago.

    At least they can cliam to be the last Australian paper worth a read.

  2. charles
    April 6th, 2012 at 22:14 | #2

    The AFR is going down the gurgler and hopes by appealing to those with money by reinforcing their view of the world that it will stay afloat. Not likely by pretending it is the rich man’s version of the Oz.

    I thought the AFR was safe, you can’t afford to invest when the information your getting is rubbish. The deterioration of the AFR would suggest that even investors are turning away from papers.

  3. April 6th, 2012 at 23:34 | #3

    See?

    Just like hacking into a murdered child’s phone for commercial gain:

    ‘But Ryley issued a statement yesterday saying the hacking had been “editorially justified”. He said: “We do not take such decisions lightly or frequently. They require finely balanced judgement based on individual circumstances and must always be subjected to the proper editorial controls.”‘

    ALL News Corp outlets are justifiably tainted by the epithet of Phone Hacking Scum.

  4. Freelander
    April 6th, 2012 at 23:50 | #4

    Some large multinational corporations are best understood as international organizations, profit driven, with the guiding principle “whatever it takes “.

    Not looking at you Rupert.

  5. Freelander
    April 7th, 2012 at 00:12 | #5

    Sorry, meant to type ‘international criminal organisations ‘ ..

    Why don’t they use the US Rico laws on corporations more often.n?

  6. April 7th, 2012 at 14:43 | #6

    Pr Q stoically laments:

    A little while ago, I got a message from the Fin to tell me they wouldn’t be running any more columns from me, as they are bringing in some new commentators. Given my run-in with Michael Stutchbury (then at the Oz, now Editor-in-Chief of the Fin) last year, and other changes at the Fin since he came on board, I wasn’t surprised. Still, it’s the end of a long-running association, which started, ironically (at least in the Alanis Morrisette sense of the term) when Michael was opinion editor there.

    Commiserations on losing the gig. Obviously the opportunity for professional and political pay-back was to tempting to resist.

    Congratulations on being, by far and away, the best economics commentator in the Southern Hemisphere. I am afraid Krugman pips you for the global gong.

    To go from a grand thing to a petty thing, I have been booted off plenty of blog sites (Catallaxy, Larvatus Prodeo and Crooked Timber commenting) in my time, for constantly criticising and lampooning the post-modern liberal Conventional Wisdom, in both its economic and ethnic manifestations. Its no big deal, you’ll get over it.

    Its a pity though that so-called liberals are so sensitive to criticism that they can’t endure even a few derisive comments, which are now safely quarantined under the category of “troll”. Apparently cognitive dissonance is dangerous to mental health and public safety.

    I guess that the FinRev, as official organ of economic (post-modern) liberalism, has had enough off hosting its resident gadfly. Post-modern liberalism is in its decadent phase and can no longer afford such luxuries. The mass media, for obvious reasons, is feeling the pinch even more.

    These days political discourse, like politics itself, has been reduced to “Who, Whom” as the various contestants squabble over whatever victory spoils are left there for the taking. Land of the free and home of the brave, I wonder if a precious Bill of Rights will do anything for the right to free speech if no one is serious about exercising it?

  7. Freelander
    April 7th, 2012 at 14:54 | #7

    A Bill of Rights didn’t seem to do anything (positive) for rights in the land of the flea.

  8. April 7th, 2012 at 20:22 | #8

    Its amazing to me that the more Very Serious People talk about freedom and cultural diversity (both anthropological and ideological) the less actual freedom and cultural diversity there actually is.

    This is by far and away the most conformist age I can remember both personally and historically. Everyone is desperate to keep in step with the fashion-victimized herd, so much so that the very worst criticism that can be made of a person is to be “out of step” or “controversial” or “eccentric”. And of course everywhere you go right the way round the world there are big box stores with identical catalogues.

    And not surprisingly it is also the age of intellectual midgets and petty vindictive conflicts where the stakes are so low.

    Just look at the absolutely panic-stricken reaction by corporate Australia to the unfortunate Ben Polis for his, obviously medication-deprived, rant on Facebook. What should have been dismissed and perhaps chastised as a temporary loss of composure has now been turned into a “career ending move” (CEM)

    In many, although not all, ways people were much freer to speak their mind and do their own thing in our grand-parents and parents day. I can remember a number of eccentric old ladies in our street. No one seemed to mind, in fact they tended to be regarded with affectionate amusement.

    What a pathetic bunch of couch-potatoe eating channel surfing cowards we have all become.

  9. Freelander
    April 7th, 2012 at 22:32 | #9

    @Jack Strocchi

    You are entirely right on that one!!!

  10. April 8th, 2012 at 14:18 | #10

    And the news feed brings glad tidings: John Derbyshire has been sacked by (the emasculated) National Review for violating the tenets of ethnic liberalism: engaging in anthropological pattern recognition and prudential advice to his children. This makes a nice book-end for Pr Q’s sacking due to violating the tenets of economic liberalism.

    A great victory for freedom and a well-deserved defeat for those who would recklessly make practical application of Bayesian probability theory to a problem in civic life. Its especially wonderful when you consider the dazzling successes of economic and ethnic liberalism over the past decade. The spectacular economic growth engendered by financial markets, the amazingly burst of creativity triggered by cultural diversity. Its all too much for words.

    Pretty soon there will be a complete conformity of opinion in all major press organs which signifies the final victory of post-modern liberalism. Always remember the key slogans of Newspeak: “War is Peace”, Freedom is Slavery” and “Ignorance is Strength.” If you keep those in mind all the time there will be very little chance of committing thought crime.

  11. April 8th, 2012 at 14:35 | #11

    Even better still, the Derb has just been diagnosed with cancer. So he will lose his job and perhaps his life all in one year. That will teach him to step out of line.

  12. April 8th, 2012 at 14:53 | #12

    Just a reminder of how things have changed, for the worse, in intellectual life, on the Right and on the Left over the past decade.

    National Review used to boast the following writers on its mast head or as occasional contributors:

    Buckley assembled an eclectic group of writers: traditionalists, Catholic intellectuals, libertarians and ex-Communists. They included: Russell Kirk, James Burnham, Frank Meyer, and Willmoore Kendall, and Catholics L. Brent Bozell, Harry V. Jaffa, Garry Wills, William Schlamm, John Dos Passos, Whittaker Chambers.

    Plus Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn; Max Eastman, Ernst van den Haag, Milton Friedman, Frank Knopfelmacher. The list could go on with many other luminaries making the odd appearance.

    These writers were smart and interesting in their own write. Just as importantly they were worldly, so that what they wrote felt like it could be usable as well as noteworthy.

    Now their star attractions are Richard Lowry and Jonathan Goldberg. What a pathetic joke.

    The same process is observable in most liberal organs in the Fairfax Media, which now give the impression they are written by an editorial board composed of squabbling schoolgirls, same-sex marriage fanatics and emasculated Beta-males. The editorial tone is dictated by the status-anxieties of the A-B demographic which are not exactly the thing to get my pulse racing.

    The range of acceptable liberal opinion now spans from Adele Horin to Chris Berg. That is to say, people who write columns by punching a macro key.

    One yearns for the sound of the voice of experience.

  13. Robert (not from UK)
    April 8th, 2012 at 15:11 | #13

    Mr Strocchi, Is John Derbyshire’s cancer definitely of the fatal kind? I read a report on it earlier in 2012 (can’t recall where it appeared or by whom it was written) and didn’t get the impression from this piece that this particular type of cancer automatically carried a death sentence.

  14. Fran Barlow
    April 8th, 2012 at 16:04 | #14

    Browsing the intertubes the other day, it suddenly occurred to me that I’d stumbled across the Man from Strocchiverse‘s intellectual soulmate — Christopher (Kit) Lasch. I knew Jack reminded me of someone.

    Sadly, he has parted company with the land of the lving, but he died raging against “the elites” and “the culture of narcissism” and demanding a return to family values, or something very much like it while insisting that he was some sort of enemy of big capitalism.

  15. Tom
    April 10th, 2012 at 11:56 | #15

    @Jack Strocchi

    Although I disagree with Ross Gittins’ pieces more than half the time, he is still one of the worth readings in SMH. However, since some of his pieces attacks neoliberalism ideology (e.g. How Business is White-Anting the Weekend), there is a chance that he may go as well given that Professor Quiggin has been sacked by AFR. When that happens I’m pretty sure FairFax is off my reading list.

  16. gerard
    April 10th, 2012 at 13:39 | #16

    just in case anyone cares why Derbyshire was sacked (and/or why Jack is upset about it), it’s because he wrote an article arguing that all non-black parents should give their non-black children a 15-point educational “talk”, including such “anthropological pattern recognition and prudential advice” as:

    “(9) A small cohort of blacks, in my experience around five percent, is ferociously hostile to whites and will go to great lengths to inconvenience or harm us. A much larger cohort of blacks (around half) will go along passively if the five percent take leadership in some event. They will do this out of racial solidarity, the natural willingness of most human beings to be led, and a vague feeling that whites have it coming. ”

    “(10a) Avoid concentrations of blacks not all known to you personally.
    (10b) Stay out of heavily black neighborhoods.
    (10c) If planning a trip to a beach or amusement park at some date, find out whether it is likely to be swamped with blacks on that date (neglect of that one got me the closest I have ever gotten to death by gunshot).
    (10d) Do not attend events likely to draw a lot of blacks.
    (10e) If you are at some public event at which the number of blacks suddenly swells, leave as quickly as possible.
    (10f) Do not settle in a district or municipality run by black politicians.
    (10g) Before voting for a black politician, scrutinize his/her character much more carefully than you would a white.
    (10h) Do not act the Good Samaritan to blacks in apparent distress, e.g., on the highway.
    (10i) If accosted by a strange black in the street, smile and say something polite but keep moving. ”

    “(11) The mean intelligence of blacks is much lower than for whites. The least intelligent ten percent of whites have IQs below 81; forty percent of blacks have IQs that low. Only one black in six is more intelligent than the average white; five whites out of six are more intelligent than the average black. These differences show in every test of general cognitive ability that anyone, of any race or nationality, has yet been able to devise. They are reflected in countless everyday situations. “Life is an IQ test.”

    etc.

    What’s the world coming to when a self-professed racist can’t even write a racist parenting guide without losing his writing job in America’s most prominent conservative magazine? A slippery slope to an Orwellian dystopia, clearly.

  17. gerard
    April 10th, 2012 at 13:39 | #17

    /blockquote fail

  18. Freelander
    April 10th, 2012 at 15:19 | #18

    Yes. Brings a tear to one’s eye ….

  19. John Quiggin
    April 10th, 2012 at 17:07 | #19

    @Jack I can’t say I appreciate the comparison to Derbyshire. Gerard nails him pretty thoroughly. Nothing more on this topic, please, from either side.

  20. April 10th, 2012 at 19:07 | #20

    No doubt the Derb feels likewise.
    Everyone has their blind spots.
    I’ve been sacked from my highly unpaid job as thread re-railer, again!

  21. Ernestine Gross
    April 12th, 2012 at 19:20 | #21

    JQ, your column will be missed. My husband pulled out a copy of your 27 September 2001 article in the FinRiv, titled “Free speech sits ill with a free market”. More than 10 years later, it is still current.

    On behalf of my household, a thank your for your FinRev columns.

  22. Freelander
    April 12th, 2012 at 21:23 | #22

    People that can’t be brought price themselves out of a free market.

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