Blair concedes defeat

Tim Blair quotes a statement I and others wrote in 1996, criticising expenditure cuts, and saying in part

More attention needs to be given to the role of government expenditure on repairing the nation’s rundown infrastructure, creating jobs and fostering industry and regional development. If necessary, increased taxation and other revenue options should be under consideration. Savage expenditure cuts are economically irresponsible and socially damaging.

As Blair points out^, this is an argument that has now been pretty generally accepted. Most of the cuts we were criticising have been reversed (not without doing damage along the way). Infrastructure spending is now a high priority for governments. Without getting into sterile arguments about whether or not the current Federal government is the highest taxing in Australian history, it’s clear that the idea of radical cuts in public expenditure and taxation, which Blair has long advocated, is politically defunct in Australia.

The case was well stated by one of our political leaders in 2004, when he observed

There is a desire on the part of the community for an investment in infrastructure and human resources and I think there has been a shift in attitude in the community on this, even among the most ardent economic rationalists.

He could just about have been quoting our words from 1996.

As I noted at the time

A new bipartisan consensus has emerged, in favor of the social-democratic policies that have, until recently, been derisively described as ‘tax and spend’.

The only surprise is that it has taken Blair so long to wake up to the fact that he’s on the losing side of this debate.

^ With yet another kind reference to my success in winning a Federation Fellowship.

38 thoughts on “Blair concedes defeat

  1. Funny to see the calibre of argument you get in comments from a post that mentions Tim Blair.

    Back to the sheltered workshop, boys!

  2. How’s the solid gold hat that your grant provided going, Quiggles?

    Socialism sure is the ducks guts when you’re a beneficiary rather than a provider.

    And if any of you think the current federal government is an economic rationalist one, you’re daffier than I ever thought- big taxing, big spending and wtter than a fish’s foreskin. Not one of those losers would have gotten a cabinet post in a Thatcher government- which beggars the question when are we going to have our neocon revolution? The UK had Thatcher, the US had Reagan, where’s ours?

    There’s an awful lot of bloated public “assets” in dire need of liquidation or demolition.

  3. it’s clear that the idea of radical cuts in public expenditure and taxation……………..is politically defunct in Australia.

    Are you delusional? This idea is stronger than it’s ever been in the last 20 years. The Howard government’s success is partially due to preaching this doctrine and delivering the odd tax cut. Overall, they don’t walk the walk, but they certainly talk the talk, and the voters love it. It’s your version of social democracy that is politically ddefunct.

  4. Habib, if you dislike our current government so much, why don’t you take up the point with your friends at Tim B’s (quite a few of whom have visited here)? They all seem to think Howard is pretty good, and Tim rarely writes anything to disabuse them of this idea.

    Michael, perhaps you didn’t click on the link. Howard no longer even talks the talk on expenditure cuts, and, as you imply, his tax cuts amount to not much more than handing back bracket creep.

  5. Been there, done that I think you’ll find there’s not a lot of dyed in the wool JWH fans there, it’s more a case of the lesser of two evils. I have repeatedly referred to the Howard Govt (and the Liberal Party in general) as Labor Lite. I don’t think there’s ever been a truly conservative/Jeffersonian liberal party in this country, and the Republicans in the US are hell-bent on becoming social democrats, which is why they got hosed in th mid-terms. The only people who really like big government are those who benefit from its largesse- even the welfare-addicted start to think twice when the bureauracy starts to slip its tendrils into every facet of their lives, like anti-smoking legislation and poker machine limits.

    Lets face it, if 90% of government dissapeared overnight, very few of us would notice, nor miss its passing; the extra beer vouchers would be welcome as well.

  6. Oh, man Habib, i wish we had a computer simulation where we could test that scenario out. Or even better, alternative worlds.

    My prediction would be closer to 40 percent – and then only if the remainder increased starkly in quality

  7. “(if I’ve got it right, his son-in-law has something to do with a company that has shares in a company that has interests in a French bank that has been criticised for not doing a good job of oversight of Oil-for-Food).”

    No, you don’t have it right. Prime Minister (now former PM) Jean Chretien’s son-in-law’s father is/was the biggest shareholder in France’s TotalFinaElf oil company–a company that was totally in bed with Saddam Hussein. That’s why Chretien embarrassed Canada when he refused to liberate Iraq.

  8. If the theory of evolution is correct, one would expect humanity to require less supervision and support rather than more with the passage of time. Unfortunately due to the seeming increasing levels of stupidity and dependence, I’m beginning to think the creationists have got it right, with the rider than homo sapiens was knocked out as a gag. It kinds of explains Australian Idol, conspiracy theories, enviromentalism, Diana Spencer worship and communism.

  9. Not to mention the shrill wingnuts Tim Blair permits to post on his site, or it goes without saying, the windbag himself.

  10. I’ll go with 50%. This would also halve the number of comments to blogs. ie blogs were invented to give public servants something to do

  11. JQ says “AWB was initially an Australian government instrumentality, and later a quasi-private company exercising governmental powers”

    AWB was once a govt body which was fully privatised and is now an entirely private company owned by wheat growers and with capital being raised from public investors via the ASX.

    The govt are no more responsible for activities of the AWB as they are for the activities of Landmark.

    To infer that John Howard and Saddam Hussein can be condemned by the same argument is bizarre.

  12. “Jean Chretien’s son-in-law’s father” – why stop there? Via Mitochondrial Eve, JC is personally related to Saddam himself, not to mention Hitler, Stalin and Judas Iscariot.

    Seriously, this is a totally different black helicopter theory to the one I linked, which was about BNP Paribas.

    Rog,I’d point in detail why the government is responsible for AWB’s actions, but at the end all I’d get is the same point made by Ian Deans that no-one cares if Howard is lying. You obviously don’t, and neither do 95 per cent of Australian supporters of the war, so let’s just leave it there.

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