72 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. michael B

    the latter might be taken as duplicitous, not stupid. the same way many a right winger played down the human rights abuses by the various usa-supported dictatorships in the 3rd world. the “your freedom fighters are terrorists; my terrorists are freedom fighters” style of thinking. it’s still around.

  2. Andrew – Though avowedly anti-Howard, I am certainly not OF the Left. Go ask Rob Corr. But apart from that, your post makes no sense anyway.

    But thanks for coming – you are clearly Australian.

    On a tangent here, but one suspects Latham made the fatal error of trying to appeal to our better natures. Howard, on the other hand knew us better.

  3. Nemesis,

    The point I was (obviously unsuccessfully) trying to make is that the left does itself no service by labelling the majority stupid or selfish just because the result went the wrong way for them. Accept the umpires decision, doen’t sulk about it or call the opposition names.

    I think many on the left have a problem differentiating selfishness from policies which promote individualism rather than collectivism. Conservatives believe that by creating an environment that allows individuals to prosper, everyone benefits. I guess the opposite is socialism where everyone is brought to some common denominator. Being conservative does not equate to selfishness.

  4. Michael B states:
    “who can barely mention the United States or Israel at the present without foaming at the mouth.”

    And naturally the extremists from the pro-Israel lobby are able to keep their mouths dry when Palestinian is mentioned.

  5. Pr Q half-misses the point. He is right that a scare campaign was helpful to the Government. He is wrong that the highest value and most significant target was ALP-Lathams economic credentials.
    The fundamental reason for the governments increased primary vote has been the organisational implosion and ideological superluity of fringe parties of both the:
    Right-Wing (O.N.): lost 3% primary vote from 2001, about half which leaked to Far-Right FF or ferals.
    Left-Wing (DEM.): lost 3% primary vote from 2001, about half which leaked to the Far-Left GREENS.
    But the psephologic problem is to explain the timing and valency of the balance of the resulting vote 3-4% primary vote leakage to the Liberal Party: Why did all the homeless voters, both Right and Left, gravitate to the Liberal Party. And why did they do so in the Senate where most voters want counter-valency?
    My hypothesis is that governments most successful scare campaign was against the Greens, not Lathams, influence on public & economic policy. In the public mind, the Right identified the Greens as the ALP’s Socialist Left faction in exile – which is not far off the truth. A Green-hung parliament would probably shave alot off value of equity and property portfolios. The government, together with its allies in the Murdoch Media, used this scare campaign to burn Green-Red fear into the mainstream memory from the start.
    Newspoll and Nielsen both reported that the governments primary vote leapt when the Right launched its preemptive strike against the Greens, which was before the attack on Latham’s economic credentials started. Throughout most of the 2004 Latham bubble period the LN/P primary vote was polled at ~40%. On the morrow of the Campaign launch – directly the Right launched its Greens behind the (ALP) Screen attack – the Coalition primary vote started to poll in the ~mid-40% range.
    And the Campaign launch coincided with a drop in the Greens polling numbers. They lost aboout a third of their primary vote, possibly Doctors Wives thinking about the lower property values & higher interest rates under a Green-dominated ALP government?
    Attacking the Greens assists, what I call, the “the Great Convergence” – which tendency Howard is an enthusiastic devotee. He is happy to compress fringe party deviation, both Right and Left, by anihilating ideological extremes with electoral and legal campaigns. This lets him pick up the bulk of the homeless voters at poll time.
    And Latham, falling right into Howards trap, did nothing to disabuse the spooked masses of this Red-Green notion. Especially at the end of the campaign when the Green-ALP preference cosy deal was sealed and Latham’s Howard-hating stare-down was caught on camera.
    And of course, the Cultural Progressive’s repetitive Howard-hating, and frivolous SIEV-X-as Howard’s-My-Lai use of Senate accountability procedures, ensured that mainstream AUS voters turned to the Right to Trust Cultural Conservative Howard in the Senate.
    The extent of Left-wing denial, evasion and obfuscation (FF preference deals gone wrong, interest rate scare campaigns, Oh Lucky Man,) about this result is absolutely astounding. This is just “We Wuz Robbed” on auto-repeat.
    My Mean-to-the-Green theory is only a hypothesis. But it at least adresses the extraordinary Senate voting patterns, which is the main problem that needs to be explained. And it is also consistent with, indeed implied by, my argument that the Cultural Left ran a counter-productive Howard-hating campaign.

  6. jack you are off your dial.

    People with very large mortgages don’t care a lot about cultural wars they only care about whether interest rates will rise.

    That is where the swing to the Libs came in.

    These people were happy with the Democrats but knew the Greens were barking mad and declined to go near them.

  7. The task for Latham has proved that social capital provided an argument that can win an election. John Howard does not turn into a fist-full-of-dollars social democrat without good reason.

    The task now is to articulate third way economics in ways that are understandable to the electorate. That is link the erosion of social capital to the specifics of John Howard’s growth. The question needs to be reframed from are your better off , to are you happier. Are you seeing your kids as much as you would like? Are you really comfortable and relaxed or are you waiting to be hit by a recession, and wondering if you will survive it ?

  8. I think your spot on Jack. I got attacked, handing out green how to vote cards for the first time in about 12 years by people. The feeling I got was that the greens were white feather traitors in a time of war. Several people snarled at me and one One Nation supporter accused me of taking his farm! I’d point out that these actions were greeted with disapproval by other volunteers from all sides. Nevertheless, I think people are genuinely terrified about the big bad world and see the Prince of Darkness as their best bet in a world of terrorists and many shadowy apocalyptic threats. The Greens are to blame because these scary shadows haven’t come to fruition yet, and people want to stop feeling frightened.

  9. John, the latest news on computational dynamic macroeconomics in the incentive compatible mode. Your thoughts?

    STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Norwegian Finn Kydland and Edward Prescott of the United States won the Nobel economics prize for 2004 on Monday for analyzing how economic policy is shaped and what drives business cycles.

    “Their work has not only transformed economic research, but has also profoundly influenced the practice of economic policy in general, and monetary policy in particular,” the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said in its citation.

    Their 1977 research on the “time consistency problem” described how policy makers often have an effect opposite to that intended because they lack consistency — for example, setting out to keep prices stable but in fact creating inflation.

    Their work helped shift the focus in policy-making to institutions rather than isolated measures.

    In 1982 they created a model which showed that supply-side shocks — such as technology — are a driving force behind the business cycle, rather than variations in demand alone.

    “Whereas earlier research had emphasized macroeconomic shocks on the demand side of the economy, Kydland and Prescott demonstrated that shocks on the supply side may have far-reaching effects,” said the Academy.

  10. Having personally voted him out, I am surprised to find myself feeling sorry for Ross Cameron, even though I disagree with everything he stands for. It does seem unfair that a man who epitomises what voters apparently sought in re-electing the Government should be one of the few to have lost his seat.

    He lost it for the wrong reasons. People have said serves him right, hypocrite, etc. But surely this attitude itself reflects a double standard. To be sure, Cameron was big on ‘family values’, but everyone knows this has nothing much to do with families at all, that it’s just a code for dogmatic positions on abortion, euthanasia, gay marriage and stem cell research. You can be a good family man, as I hope I am, while espousing the opposite of all those positions.

    If Cameron is a hypocrite it’s because he broke his marriage vows while posing as a loyal husband and happy family man. But every second politician poses for photos with his family, and I daresay a good many of them have affairs. I can’t remember when anyone else lost his seat for this. On the contrary, when personal scandals come up Australians usually fall over each other agreeing that they should left private. I don’t recall an exception ever being made in this context on the basis that ‘hypocrisy’ had been exhibited. This is not say that political hypocrisy shouldn’t be exposed and punished, for example when a law-and-order politician uses his influence to get his son off a drink driving charge. But I’ve argued that this doesn’t apply in Cameron’s case.

    I’m still not sure why he outed himself.

  11. John,

    The markets got it right because the markets are the masses.

    Packer is rich because he supplies us.

    Your are monetarily poor because you ignore us.

    Your wealth depends on supplying us, the masses, with what we want, be it mammon or spiritual.

    But you are spiritually rich as a consequence

    So which greed is the less objectionable?

  12. Dear John

    I am not a latte drinker or a chardonney quaffer, purely a retired adult/vocational educator, great grandmother and academic researcher. From years of experience I can assure you that Australians aren’t stupid, they just weren’t taught problem solving or critical thinking at school, and are so wanting to be ‘relaxed and comfortable’.

    People voted for John Howard because they are overloaded with bank loan interest/charges and just cannot bear the thought of interest rate rises – and didn’t interest rates go to 17% under Labor last time they were in? They voted for Howard because $600 per child in one lump sum was/is fantastic, even if it only pays out their Centrelink debt – thank God one less debt. They voted for Howard because that bloke Latham, though likeable and seems honest enough, is a bit of a worry – reads to little children one day and breaks a taxi driver’s arm the next.

    They voted for Howard because he has keeps interest rates down. They voted for Howard because he’s kept the terrorists out of Australia, and none of our forces have died or even been hurt in Iraq. They voted for Howard because he won’t ‘cut and run’. They voted for Howard because he decides ‘who comes to this country and the manner in which they come’, and he’s put the Aborigines in their place. They voted for Howard because ‘the man of steel’ is mates with the most powerful man in the world. They voted for the ‘man for all seasons’.

    What I’m interested oh economic gurus however, is what happens if the massive debt we owe the world’s savers gets called in? What happens if world oil prices continue to spiral ever upwards? What happens if a terrorist bomb kills Aussies in Australia? What happens if Aussie personnel get killed or taken hostage in Iraq? What happens if our current account deficit never comes good? What happens when interest rates go up? What happens if/when the housing bubble bursts. Indeed what will happen to the electorate’s love affair with John Howard if any or all of these situations arise, will he be able to confabulate his way out?

    Nobody seems to be addressing any of these probabilities. Got any ideas?

  13. I think Jack was right about the Greens. With all the talk about Greens doing well out of a fortcoming election, the mainsream media, seriously put their policies under the microscope for the first time. Many punters who may have liked the warm fuzzy appeal of environmentalism, didn’t like what they saw policy wise.

  14. Molly, you got it in one. And to the people who blame Labor – as opposed to proposing that the Left does better- Molly’s description shows how much we were pushing the proverbial shit up hill. Idealism in a time of fear?

    Isn’t putting a roof over your children’s heads idealism?

    I happen to believe that Howard’s direction, particularly with the Senate legislation, is ultimately economically destructive, but it is a hard argument to make. One thing is sure – publishing a list of economists who support the ALP in a broadsheet ain’t gonna do it, or using ANY kind of technical argument.

    In a way we have to get people thinking about their real interests – actually a more “selfish” argument though the word is pretty clunky in politics IMHO. The real interests of most Australians are not helped by stuffing Kings School with money etc etc etc.

    I think in times like this, full of fear but with an apparently shiny surface, that it is very hard to make an argument that says: you are being screwed. Realise it and do something about it. We deal in a bleaker world view – struggle and collective action protects us from oppression, while the Right says you only have to trust the nice man from the employer and everything will be alright.

    We argue about Iraq, and I am passionate about this. It is a watershed issue, and we have willy nilly declined to remove a government that invaded another country in a time of peace. But the fact is, the war made absolutely no difference to ordinary Australians. None of us even got killed.

    I happen to think we fought a shadowy campaign about the nature of the leader. We put Latham up as a good heroic leader, and he filled the roll pretty well. The spectacle of Latham standing up to Unions on trees probably helped. We projected Howard as a lying evil shitbag, more or less as the Right did with Keating. In that case, as the economy motored along, the electorate went with Howard even though he had a small target no announcements strategy.

    We fought with our tools, they fought with theirs. We have had a systemic problem for a long time in that the Right has an easier task than the Left. Twas ever thus; it is the nature of history. But I am afraid for the future, in the next few years and in the longer term as we survive as a weakened nation.

    And observa – what did Mem Fox do to you? Set fire to your brush fence?

  15. I find Molly’s analysis compelling. Unfortunately, I can’t think of a comforting answer to the following questions she has raised:

    “What happens if world oil prices continue to spiral ever upwards?. . . What happens if our current account deficit never comes good? What happens when interest rates go up? What happens if/when the housing bubble bursts. Indeed what will happen to the electorate’s love affair with John Howard if any or all of these situations arise, will he be able to confabulate his way out?”

    When one or more of these situations arise (and/or others I can think of), I can see no responsible alternative to a period of painful and protracted adjustment to a level of material consumption and affluence which is more economically and ecologically sustainable, with the austerity shared equitably and with a shift in aspirations to the non-material sphere. However, I also can’t see such a message being electorally saleable. I fear that our civilisation is on a track rather like that predicted for us by Olaf Stapledon in Last and First Men. Gordelpus!

    There, I’ve said it.

  16. Brace yourselves, here comes the “Mandate”. With such a loud media consensus about “Howard’s landslide”, it will be easy for the Coalition to claim a mandate for everything from outlawing unions to painting trees blue. The ALP (and the remaining minor parties) need to get over the hangover quickly enough to jump on this hard and early. They should keep the Coalition narrowly to its promises – the only things that they can really claim a mandate for – and not tolerate wild “mandate” claims about issues which were marginal or absent during the election campaign. The 2007 campaign starts now, and a good way to begin is to make a detailed list of Coalition promises and circulate it widely and repeatedly.

  17. A plethora of complaints about the people and the right to certainty. Molly if those issues raised by you eventuate, then as is the nature of democracy Australia and its citizens will adapt and deal. Haven’t you noticed yet that that is what democracies do, and that is why they are so successful. Nemesis, democracy is wasted. What do you think democracy is. How can it be wasted. Those keen on the IQ notion or their ability to identify “stupid” people, is the solution a test of some sort. Or would it be that stupidity equates with individuals making rational choices about their own best. To assume that Australians can’t make judgements about the good of others being part of their own good identifies the meritocracy approach rather than a committment to democracy as a political “complex system”.
    We was robbed by the scare campaign. Labor and its supporters have been telling Australians that by involving us in the war in IRaq Howard made us less safe from terrorism. Latham said he would pull out the troops by Xmas to make us safe. Beazley promised that if elected he would make Australia impregnable. We were told that polls indicated that the story of terrorism risk was believed. Yet Australians chose to stay with the government who was supposed to have done it to them. So why. As a scare campaign it didn’t work. As a test of selfishness it fails because the rational explanation as to why Aussies didn’t boot Howard out is that whatever they believed were the consequences of his policy for them, an obligation was owed to Iraqis.
    The majority of Australians are grownups who spend their vote with the same responsiblity and accountability that they deal with the rest of their lives. After pages and pages of the abuse for their stupidity one would start to wonder how they manage to get up in the mornings, let alone lead active fullfilling lives. What they do know is that the whole point about democracy is that it is their vote to cast as they see fit, not merely as an instrument provided to them in order that they may affirm the moral ambitions of others.
    The Prince of Darkness is a good one, burn him on a pyre and all our plagues and pestilences will depart.
    Keep up the hatred long enough and the memory of it and who spewed it might be sufficiently “seared” into Australians minds that it will still be lurking there 3 years from now.

  18. I’d really like to know if thinktanks like the CIS will achieve their policy aims, now – particularly the Welfare Reform agenda that’s been bandied about for the last few years.

    I’ve noticed right-wing editorial sentiment in favour of this policy direction, and of course I’ve read the CIS paper.

    could someone (anyone) knowledgeable post something in response? it’s getting scary….

  19. Dear John

    I recently gained a first class honours for course work and thesis – ‘Words: Weapons of Mass Distraction. Mapping the current political discourse of ‘othering’ the Others’ – in critical discourse analysis of government policy re: the Coalition’s ‘Welfare Reform Agenda’, so am something of walking textbook at present; though only to early this year.

    Perhaps ‘h’ is not aware that a lot of changes detrimental to a number of groups of people entitled to welfare benefits (who are of working age), have already taken place For instance, the Mature Age Allowance is no longer available to newly unemployed applicants over 55. If granted a benefit (and that’s been made more onerous, as is staying on it) they receive New Start Allowance.

    However as most of those changes were by regulation (due to the current opposition weighted Senate blocking most of the Coalition’s wishlist), unless an individual/family is affected, or you are researching in this area, one is not likely to know about them.

    However without a credible opposition in the Senate, people on the Disability Support Pension and on the Parenting Payment (for instance) could well find them harder to obtain and harder to stay on them in the future.

    However, that said, maybe the Family First Senator (if he gets up) may be more understanding of people requiring income support than new Labor.

    If you read Margaret Symon’s excellent and revealing essay on Mark Latham (the latest ‘Quarterly Essay’), you can assume that Mark is a disciple of Professor Lawrence Mead’s -architect of the U.S’s 1996 ‘Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act’ – rhetoric and policy intent. Also if you really listened to what Latham had to say (and also study Labor’s proposed family payments scheme) during the election campaign, we may well find out that the Family First Party is a great deal more empathic towards out most neediest people/families than Labor is likely to be in the future.

    However, after the Labor campaign post mortem, perhaps Labor will rethink it’s strategy with regard to welfare recipients – there are a lot of them, and they vote!

  20. thanks for the thoughtful response, Molly. I am well aware of the ‘already changed’ changes to the current welfare regime.

    re: Latham – I pretty much decided I don’t like him based on his classicaly ‘3rd way’ welfare position. I was interested to note, during this academic year, that these positions all rest on an *old* notion of the “undeserving poor” – I can’t remember who originally posited this notion but I think it was an English fellow, possibly 19th century? or early 20th.

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