Jason Soon responds to my post on the failure of radical free-market reform by restating the case for a competitive model in higher education. This is a complex issue, and my counterarguments are too lengthy for a blog post. You can find them in detail in my submission to a recent Senate inquiry. It’s also available as a PDF file
For now, I’ll just observe that, outside fairly narrow forms of vocational training (as exemplified by the Australian commercial VET sector and the ‘University’ of Phoenix in the US), for-profit education has never been a success.
The exposure of massive accounting fraud at WorldCom may not signal the final crisis of capitalism or, as Margo Kingston suggests, the decline and fall of the American empire?
But it surely does signal the end of the kind of American capitalism (what Edward Luttwak called Turbocapitalism) that was presented to the world in the 1990s as the only path forward. The crucial ideas, including shareholder value, incentive-based management and the claim that stocks are always and everywhere the best investment now look every bit as discredited as the Japanese model that was touted in the 1990s.
The NYT agrees with my take, saying U.S. Businesses Dim as Models for Foreigners
Jason Soon has a link to a National Review piece comparing soccer to socialism. This gives me the opportunity to reprise one of my own all-time favorites, a comparison of Super League to New Zealand
My blog is just about a week old, and I haven’t found the Internet this exciting since I discovered Usenet in the early 90s. Even setting up my website five years ago was not as good. Despite wildly varying ideological views, I’ve had a friendly welcome from bloggers across the board, and I’m already getting links and referrals (My return links will be up soon, I promise). It really seems as if blogs might deliver on the original promise of the Web – certainly the technology seems ideally suited for individuals and small groups, with no obvious way of scaling it up to corporate level. No doubt I’ll get jaded and disillusioned one day, but I hope it will be a long way in the future.
This piece on sweatshops by Nicholas Kristof has had a lot of favorable links from the more right-wing members of the blogging community. I found it disappointing. Not that he isn’t right in what he does say, namely that a ‘living wage’ must be assessed in comparison to the alternatives, not to wages in rich countries.
But he stops where the really tough issues start, namely what rights workers for Nike (etc) in poor countries should have. I suggest that they should have the same rights regarding union organisation etc as workers in rich countries. Of course, many of Kristof’s newfound admirers would agree, but with the proviso that no-one should have any union organisation rights.
The proponents of privatisation are crowing following the recent sale of Sydney Airport for $5.6b. On the other hand, writing in the Australian eight years ago, I asserted that privatisation would mean higher charges, higher taxes or both. Was I right? The profitability of Sydney Airport has increased dramatically. But the increase came as a result of a near doubling in aeronautical charges at the facility. This is on top of increases in all the other charges (parking, concession rentals and so on) and the introduction of a slew of new charges (e.g taxi levies). If the government had kept the airports, the flow of money from these charges would have more than outweighed any savings they will get from repaying debt with the sale proceeds, implying a capacity for lower taxes or more spending in the long run.
ABC News – 25/06/02 : Alston supports Telstra’s right to sue Tanner
This pretty much sums up what is wrong with the government’s telecommunications policy. If you think Telstra is too big for its boots now, wait until it’s a privatised monopoly lobbying (and threatening) governments to secure favorable treatment. As Tanner says in the article:
“Telstra has far too much power, it treats consumers and shareholders with disdain and now it’s out threatening legal action against the person who is the alternative minister who is in charge of them.”