Anti-americanism redux

Following the recent discussion here of critics of US foreign policy being labelled as anti-American, I saw a snippet in the Fin (subscription required) in which the Wall Street Journal (also subscription required) applied the same epithet to anyone critical of US labour market institutions and their outcomes, even extending this to former PM Bob Hawke, about as prominent a supporter of the US alliance as you could find, though, like many others, a critic of the Iraq war. The relevant quote

Even Labor leaders who have previously been strong supporters of the alliance have not hesitated to stir anti-US prejudices this time. Former Prime Minister Bob Hawke warned that making it easier for workers to negotiate wages directly either their employers would be “a move down the path to” horror of horrors “an Americanisation of labour relations

Unfortunately, my efforts to find the full piece have been unsuccessful – I assume it’s behind the paywall somewhere. I’d appreciate it it anyone could supply the full text.

I’d be interested to know, for example, whether the WSJ has extended its net to catch that notorious anti-American, John Howard, who has warned against taking the “American path” in relation to gun laws and tort litigation.

In the meantime, let me offer the hypothesis that lots of American workers share the “anti-American prejudice” that they would rather have a union on their side than enjoy the benefits of direct “negotiation” with employers. For example, this Gallup Poll reports that 38 per cent of Americans would like to see unions have more influence, as against 30 per cent who would prefer less. And I’ll guess that the WSJ itself would be happy enough to endorse Howard’s anti-Americanism, at least as far as tort law is concerned.

Update Thanks to several readers, the full column is over the fold
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Gunns drops accusations

The Gunns case in which woodchip exporter Gunns’ is suing a large number of critics, has taken an interesting turn, with Gunns abandoning claims of criminal damage made against the respondents in general and a number of specific individuals. The case is now confined to the attempt by Gunns to suppress public debate using the deplorable SLAPP method, now largely prohibited in the US, where it originated.

The criminal allegations, if there were evidence to support them, would have justified a court action. Instead, it appears, the existence of court proceedings has enabled Gunns to make allegations that would be defamatory in normal circumstances, then drop them without providing any evidence.

The Wilderness Society has put out a press release (over the fold) calling for an apology, but I can’t see that happening. Still, it seems certain that Gunns and its shareholders will pay dearly for this exercise, in both money and reputation.
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Communications Research and Strategy Forum

I spoke at this forum on Monday on the topic “Where to now for Telstra?”. There was an interesting session on the future of the Internet, with a paper by Alex Burns and Darren Sharp which included a screen shot of this blog; the discussion of blogs and wikis was spot on, though it was striking that even with a communications-oriented audience, these concepts seemed to be new to many.

I’ll try to upload my presentation soon.

The Unsustainability of Trade Deficits

I’ll be talking on this topic to the Economic Society of Australia (Queensland branch) on Thursday night at the Exhange Hotel, a well-known Brisbane cultural centre. I’m preparing a presentation and I found this graph of the US trade balance at the St Louis Fed

Bopbgs Max

The graph is in billions of dollars per quarter, unadjusted for inflation, so the pattern is exaggerated. Still it’s a good illustration of how the recent massive deficits are historically unprecedented, something which is true even when the more appropriate measure of percent of national income is used.

Australia’s experience is less dramatic, but we are, nonetheless hitting new records in terms of deficits and debts.

fn1. No animals were harmed in the preparation of this talk.