The ideology that dare not speak its name

.!.

The set of ideas that has dominated public policy for the last thirty years has been given a variety of names – neoliberalism[1], economic rationalism, the Washington Consensus and Thatcherism being the most prominent. Broadly speaking, this set of ideas combines support for free market (or freer market) economic policies with agnosticism[2] about both political liberalism and the relative merits of democracy and autocracy. In response to some demands for definition, I’ll point to mine here.

A striking feature of all of these terms is that they are currently used almost exclusively by opponents of the viewpoint being described, to the point where any use of such terms invariably provokes protests about unfair labelling (this is true even of the most neutral term I can find, “economic liberalism”). Even more striking is the fact that these terms were originally used in a broadly positive sense by supporters of the ideas concerned. I’ve done the story on economic rationalism, Don Arthur covers neoliberalism and you can check Wikipedia for the others.

Why is it that neoliberalism seems to be subject to a political version of the euphemism treadmill? A look at the history will help a bit.

For each of the sets of ideas in question, two things happened. First, the ideas described by the terms evolved in the direction of a more tightly defined and hardline free-market ideology – this happened both because (positive) users of the term became more consistent in their ideology over time and because some with more moderate views ceased to identify with the term.

Second, advocates of neoliberalism gained political power without, in general, convincing the majority of the public. In Australia and New Zealand, there was a bipartisan elite consensus in support of economic rationalism during the 1980s and early 1990s. In the UK, Thatcher won a series of elections with minority support thanks to a weak and divided Opposition. In Latin America, neoliberal policies were implemented by dictators like Pinochet, and quasi-dictatorial strongment like Fujimori.

Finally, as this process took place, the term was taken up by critics, who needed a descriptive label for the set of ideas they were criticising, and, soon afterwards, abandoned by its original advocates. In the case of economic rationalism, the crucial event was Michael Pusey’s book Economic Rationalism in Canberra. While, in my view, Pusey misunderstood some key aspects of economic rationalism, confusing it with simple pro-business conservatism, he correctly identified, and communicated to the general public, the emergence of a dominant ideological framework.

This analysis gives two reasons for the euphemism treadmill. First, there is the obvious one. Unpopular ideas require euphemisms, and these euphemisms wear out over time.

The second is more subtle. From the inside, ideology usually looks like common sense. It Hence, politically dominant elites don’t see themselves as acting ideologically and react with hostility when ideological labels are pinned on them. Ideology is only useful for an insurgent group of outsiders, seeking a coherent basis for a claim to displace the existing elite. Because neoliberalism typically enjoyed rapid triumphs, it never needed to express itself as a formal ideology.

fn1. Confusingly, and reflecting the different meaning of “liberal”, in the US, “neoliberal” there has a different history and application, referring initially to Clinton-era DLC-oriented Democrats. The US neoliberals share some views, such as support for free trade, with neoliberals in the (originally) Latin American sense, but the global term is more applicable to the free-market right, represented by the business wing of the Republican party than to these centrist Democrats.

fn2. That is, the neoliberal ideology itself has little to say about these questions. Neoliberals may regard democracy and ordinary notions of political liberalism with outright hostility (Lee Kuan Yew, the Mises Institute). Or, they may like Hayek, regard democracy and free speech as second-order goals, desirable only if they don’t get in the way of free markets. Mises (unlike the institute that bears his name) offers a more appealing view, arguing that, in the long run, democracy is more favorable to free markets than autocracy, whatever the initial position of the autocrat. Finally, many neoliberals are, in political terms, orthodox liberal democrats, who advocate neoliberal policy while accepting that they need to convince the majority of voters of the validity of their position. Even among the last of these groups, most are willing to make political alliances with anti-democratic neoliberals, in much the same way as many (but not all) democratic socialists felt the need to work with the communist left in the trade union movement and elsewhere.

86 thoughts on “The ideology that dare not speak its name

  1. I have never been happy wiht the word neoliberal. It does not describe anything in particular as neoliberal tenets (free market) would exhibit vastly different socialoutcomes under; market socialism compared to market capitalism.

    I fear that spending time addressing neoliberalism (unspecified as to the political economy it operates in) may not get us to the nub of our problems.

    Neoliberalism outside capitalism or fuedalism is not a problem is it?

    My conception of market socialism is (small l)liberalism – new-neoliberalism (??).

    Why not?

  2. Hayek argued that economic liberalism is a necessary condition for political liberalism. It’s a little mischievous to interpret this as “agnosticism about both political liberalism and the relative merits of democracy and autocracy”.

    Certainly most modern `neo-liberals’ are very concerned with political liberalism. The dialogue between neo-liberals and neo-socialists goes much smoother when this concern is recognised.

  3. most modern `neo-liberals’ are very concerned with political liberalism
    what, like the chicago schools championing of pinochet?
    the western business establishment has confined it self to trade rules and prcatices and cares not about the systems any government may use to control its people,
    John is absolutely right in his choice of words there joseph

  4. Well, as Galbraith noted in 1973 (below) and I think this view particularly applies to the neoliberal outlook (for really its a poor model for the reality of the economic system we deal with today) – particularly the extreme free market view….Mises / Hayek

    ‘the contribution of economics to the exercise of power may be called its instrumental function….instrumental in that it serves not the understanding or improvement of the economic system but the goals of those who have power in the system.’

    JQ you say

    “many neoliberals are, in political terms, orthodox liberal democrats, who advocate neoliberal policy while accepting that they need to convince the majority of voters of the validity of their position.”

    Further to this objective to persuade or convince others of the validity of their position I must refer back to JK once more.

    ‘The power which the model protects becomes too palpable’ (JK refers to ‘neoclassical’ economics)

    ‘People can be persuaded and scholars can persuade themselves that General Dynamics or General Motors is responding to the public will’ (expressed as consumer choice).. ‘so long as the exercise of its power does not threaten public existence. When ability to survive the resulting arms competition or breathe the resulting air is in doubt, persuasion is less successful. Similarly when houses and health care are unavailable and male deodorants are abundant, the notion of a benign response to public wants begins to buckle under the strain.’

    Now add the unavailability or insecurity of employment to inadequate health care and housing and transport in many areas. Currently the neoliberal view which has its origins in the Chicago School and neoclassicism, is also buckling under the strain.

    We really have economic models like neoclassicism (and its offshoot euphemisms) that are chiefly intended to support existing power structures and to persuade others to accept an ‘industry standard.’

    That the ‘industry standard’ model is neither realistic, workable in all situations, equitable or results in a sustainable use of resources is of minor concern. Its economics used as a cloak to hide its real intents.

  5. Friedman always asserted that in a free market, political autocracy could never work and cited Chile as an example of that.

    The last time a Government in Britain won with a majority of votes was in 1931 and it was Standley Baldwin of the Conservative Party. No offence intended ProfQ but political history does not suit your argument. Even the Labour victory of 1945 which heralded the NHS amongst other things (they happily labelled themselves as the Socialist Labour Party) was not won by move than 50% of the votes.

  6. Alice,
    Be careful not to offend our host. He too practices the dark arts of neo-classical economics.

  7. On the other hand, isn’t social democracy about government interference with the market through regulation and pump-priming? Is regulation not a limitation of freedom by central control of rules and regulations which must be followed or else serious consequences follow? If that is the case, does that not mean that social democracy is a restriction on political and personal freedom?

  8. As people once were “persuaded” that Kings existed through some divine right or birthright and on this basis, could do whatever they liked (…just short of starving the population into rebellion) we are being asked to believe that AIG, Goldman Sachs, ML, Citibank, Macquarie Bank (and now Ill add Vodaphone!)can lie, cheat, commit fraud and steal because they have a new divine right. Its called consumer choice in markets.

    These organisations may act unconscionably and have the freedom to act that way, because according to neoliberal tenets, consumers chose to consume their services and that justifies their existence and any consequent actions (that consumers “chose” under false pretenses or with grossly imperfect or misleading information makes little difference).

  9. ProfQ,

    This is what Friedman had to say about Chile:

    INTERVIEWER: In the end, the Chilean [economy] did quite well, didn’t it?

    MILTON FRIEDMAN: Oh, very well. Extremely well. The Chilean economy did very well, but more important, in the end the central government, the military junta, was replaced by a democratic society. So the really important thing about the Chilean business is that free markets did work their way in bringing about a free society.

  10. Professor Quiggin, may I ask you, as an academic economist, what is the general take within the economic faculty on these matters?

    Is the definition of ‘neoliberalism’ hotly contested? or is the whole question dismissed as mere “political science”, which respectable economists should not waste their time talking about?

  11. Alice, you continually quote JKG as some sort of reasonable authority. But among other things, Galbraith opposed President Kennedy’s move to reduce the top income tax rate from 91% to 70%.

    Anyone who believes that allowing the well-off to pay 70% income tax is letting them off lightly does not even qualify as a social democrat. Communist is probably more accurate, although I don’t use the term frivolously.

  12. I would dispute the extent to which neoliberalism has really been practised over the last 30 years.

    In many cases, market-based economic reforms have only been implemented once the alternatives have been exhausted. For example, privatisation has largely been carried out either to pay down debt or fund government expenditure. Whatever one thinks of this, it has little to do with ideology and everything to do with expediency.

  13. Alice,

    It is the neo-socialists rather than the neo-liberals that are so keen to pass public funds to private banks and the like.

  14. If you think about it SeanG @10, absolute freedom to choose is not very popular.

    Let’s start with some simple cases: Would you assert that you (should) have the freedom to build your own nuclear weapon, trade child pornography, or sell addictive drugs? What’s your position on these issues?

    In fact, every society restricts the activity of individuals; perfect freedom exists only as a fantasy. It may be psychologically appealing to some people but it’s not a real option for reasons that are bleeding obvious to most of us.

    So the question become a much more complex set of questions about what, when, where and why. Balancing the tradeoffs is the problem, and the answer isn’t going to be a one liner.

  15. Sean, if you click on the Hayek link, you’ll see that I give Friedman the benefit of the doubt on Chile. Hayek, OTOH, is unequivocal in his support for Pinochet.

  16. Jim Birch,

    Experiments have shown that unlimited freedome to choose is counterproductive because people are overwhelmed by the variety.

    In terms of larger companies, the overwhelming number of products in those companies rather than the number of companies, actually can result in poor decisions being made.

    I was making a political point about choice.

    ProfQ,

    You’re right. Sorry about going off on a tangent.

  17. you what?

    you give friedman the benefit of the doubt?

    september 11 1973 unleashed what became known as the caravan of death in chile,

    friedman met him in 1975, calling for shock treatment,
    they cut public spending, mostly in health and education, by 27% that year
    when asked by a reporter “whether the social cost of his policies would be excessive” Friedman replied, “silly question”

    he was in reality an ideological sociopath

    and you give him the benefit of the doubt?

  18. Monkey’s Uncle

    says

    “Alice, you continually quote JKG as some sort of reasonable authority. But among other things, Galbraith opposed President Kennedy’s move to reduce the top income tax rate from 91% to 70%.

    Anyone who believes that allowing the well-off to pay 70% income tax is letting them off lightly does not even qualify as a social democrat. Communist is probably more accurate, although I don’t use the term frivolously.”

    You do use the term “communist” frivolously Monkey’s Uncle. We were not communist at the time a high rate of tax was being paid by the rich in Australia. Neither was the US where tax was 91%.

    Incidentally inequality was lower, corporate salaries although high were nowhere near the multiple of average wages that they are in current times.

    I agree wholeheartedly with Galbraith that the higher rates of tax on the rich should never have been reduced (in Australia a substantial reduction in the top marginal tax rate occurred in the early 1980s).

    Income inequality has been rising ever since and corporate excess is marked. The flow on to jobs expected from trickle down theorists never materialised unless you consider more part time and minimally remunerated insecure casual jobs a substitute for secure employment at better wages. Unemployment is higher and underemployment higher.

    JKG’s opposition to this tax reduction for the rich was a wise view not an accommodating view. Neither Australia nor the US suffered from higher tax rates on the wealthy. We suffer more now.

  19. “Professor Quiggin, may I ask you, as an academic economist, what is the general take within the economic faculty on these matters?”

    There was a fair bit of debate about economic rationalism back in the day, with the profession dividing into three groups of roughly equal size (IIRC the Harris and Anderson survey correctly)
    (i) those who adopted a fairly moderate definition of economic rationalism and thought it was a good thing
    (ii) those who adopted a hardline free market definition of economic rationalism and thought it was a good thing
    (iii) those who adopted a hardline free market definition of economic rationalism and thought it was a bad thing

    Over time, I think the first group has shrunk with its members going to one or other of (ii) and (iii)

  20. Monkeys Uncle

    You can add a loss of public service spending power as a result of the loss of higher taxes from the rich. You can add further erosion of existing infrastructure. We cant afford decent transport? To upgrade the electricity grid? To adequately staff hospitals? The tax rates to the rich were reduced but financial deregulation ensured profits made here could be moved across the globe to tax havens avoiding tax even more.

    So add the erosion of public sector spending power on infrastructure and services in NSW (and likely other states) and ask whether we have implemented (neo liberal) policies that contributed to our own mess?

    The answer is yes and saying so doesnt make me a communist.

    Tonight I note Gosford Council and a whole lot of others bought CDs from Lehman across Australia. I wonder what incentives Lehman offered the honourable Councillors and what lax government legislation enabled the honourable councillors to dip the money into the private investment houses (instead of with government guaranteed bonds or some much less risky investment). They gambled with ratepayer’s funds and developer levies to the point of huge losses.

    Now the same ex Lehman cockney sounding english “dealer” gent who sold the CDs, has set himself up as Gosford Council’s investment adviser. At least he has a job again swindling ratepayers money.

    Does this ring alarm bells with anyone else? Unacceptable dealings with public monies by a gaggle of Councillors and a dealer?

    If I was a Gosford ratepayer or a local builder I would suggest a moratorium on rate paying until the entire council was sacked and all monies invested in Government bonds.

    The entire world has gone mad on the worship of private markets and it is the planning and infrastructure of our society that is being completely messed up as a result.

    The neoliberal / economic rationalist/ neo nazi liberal (whatever its latest euphemism is) is to blame for the underlying ethos that has permitted activities like this to occur. I think most of us acknowledge the usual suspect sayings ie “free to choose”, “self regulating markets”, happy “public private partnerships” (? vegemites), applying the “efficiency of the private sector to the public sector” etc, promoting happy little businesses “with no regulation” and buzzy little markets. These markets actually dont exist so much as a lot of consumers with not as much choice as they would like and a few happy mighty chains or oligopolies and a few more unhappy small businesses.

    Even where you think there is a lot of buzzy little businesses brought about by “freedom to choose” (eg the shopping mall) you realise the little businesses turn over way too fast; often into broken businesses stretched to breaking point quite quickly by the “rent and refurbish” racket in one of Frank Lowy’s malls or by planning laws that wont permit strip shopping developments (Lowy donates so we all get herded to the mall).

    Neoliberalism a dangerous view that has done a lot of damage in a relatively short time frame but then, it was never a view intended to benefit the majority or the economic system, rather a view that enabled considerable questionable gains by the powerful.

    A key tenet has also been to deride and attack the public sector – the one system capable of restraining or regulating questionable activities. If you cannot change the law, attack the instutions that deliver it. Neoliberalism may appear clever to some, and free to others, but ultimately it is self destructive.

  21. Alice,
    You forgot to blame neoclassical economics for the “underlying ethos that has permitted activities like this to occur”. Don’t let them get off easy!

  22. Joseph,

    That is why economics is termed a “social science”.

    I am just passing on the work others have done.

  23. “The neoliberal / economic rationalist/ neo nazi liberal (whatever its latest euphemism is)”

    Alice, I think you just failed Godwin’s law.

  24. SeanG,
    To the point: under what circumstances do you think choices should be restricted to prevent people from having too many?

  25. Joseph,

    I don’t advocate restricting choice. I was making a response to Jim Birch that when you have an abundance of choice that it can be overwhelming for an individual consumer.

    I think that choice is a good thing as it allows for increase specialisation of products and the ability to target the “fat tail” of markets.

  26. The ideology that dare not speak its name

    Surely that ideology must be neo-socialism. They hide behind all sorts of names. Green. Progressive. Left wing. Keynesian. However they are all just neo-socialists. Surely.

    Clearly an ideology that “dare not speak its name” must be a wicked ideology. Good ideologies always speak their name. Surely.

    🙂

  27. I know this was meant humorously, Terje, but Googling neosocialism produces some interesting results. It was apparently used for a rightwing trend in the 1930s, but its current limited vogue comes from Joe the Plumber and similar, who are using it as a term of abuse for Barack Obama. Unlike the terms I mentioned fpr the right, it’s never been used on the left as a positive self-description.

    What’s striking here is the euphemism treadmill in reverse. “Liberal” and even “socialist” have lost their power to sting (and JTP’s handlers are too ignorant even to have heard of “social democrat”) so they need a new term of abuse, and they’ve picked one modelled on “neoliberal”.

  28. “often into broken businesses stretched to breaking point quite quickly by the “rent and refurbish” racket in one of Frank Lowy’s malls or by planning laws that wont permit strip shopping developments (Lowy donates so we all get herded to the mall).”

    Alice, if businessmen succeed in using laws and regulations to restrict competition, I am not sure how this is in any way a failure of free market policies.

    If anything, it points to the dangers of regulating markets in the so-called public interest i.e. that the whole process will be hijacked by rent-seeking vested interests.

    Of course big business is driven by self-interest. But the same is true of other sectors, including the public sector. Often government departments simply want to maximise their budget, regardless of whether the resources are really being utilised to their best potential. There is no great guardian angel somehow looking out for the greater good.

  29. 24#Joseph
    You are right. I dont want neoclassical economics to get off easy. Thats the essence of the problem. It was too easy and too neat and too perfect (and too empirical) and and the model wasnt questioned sufficiently. The world changed while the assumptions of the model did not; in any way sufficiently. A bad fit with reality.

  30. “It was too easy and too neat and too perfect (and too empirical) and and the model wasnt questioned sufficiently.”

    If it wasn’t questioned sufficiently, that makes it anything but “too empirical”.

  31. JQ – I didn’t know that Joe the Plumber had been a leading user of the term neo-socialism. However I would have thought that it was modeled on the term neo-conservatism or perhaps neo-fascism rather than neo-liberalism.

    Personally I don’t really mind been called a neo-liberal because it just means new liberal. I am a liberal but not old enough to be convincingly called an old liberal so new liberal is pretty close to the mark. And I certainly don’t want to be called a neo-conservative so if I must be put in some evilness box then neo-liberal is the prefered one. Although economic rationalist was okay also and remains okay in my book. Ideally people would just call me a libertarian because that’s what I generally call myself. Or they could try supply-sider.

  32. As far as I can tell, ‘neoliberal’ means what people want it to mean. Thus the difference between Terje’s, Quiggin’s and Alice’s understanding of the term.

    And I never understood the opprobrium associated with “economic rationalism”. Who would want to be economically irrational?

    “Similarly when houses and health care are unavailable and male deodorants are abundant,”

    Here’s a hint – which of those markets are regulated heavily and which are not? Which has more government involvement?

    Another thought experiment – compare Sydney’s food supply with its water supply.

  33. As to choice, this is anecdotal only, but I’m often paralysed with rage at the “choices” on offer in any supermarket – 5,000 substantially identical varieties of toothpaste, except that the one I want isn’t there.

    Give me less choice, rather than more.

  34. theres a big difference between choice and meaningful choice,

    i would like truthful, extensive labelling on all products so that i could intelligently choose,

    i would not, for instance, choose sunscreen with nano-particles, but i cannot make this choice currently

    i would like to choose products that contain no GM ingredients, but that is almost impossible,

    it is the ‘food’ industry that squashes meaningful choice

  35. Regarding rage over the number of choices, take a few deep cleansing breaths, calm yourself down and just choose one. If you like it,get it again the next time. If you don’t like it, try something different. It’s really not that difficult.

  36. If the choices that you want are not available, there is obviously not a very big market for them. Do you think it is reasonable for a supplier to furnish products that people don’t buy? Popular product with a large market are profitable. Maybe you should convince lots of friends to ask for and buy those products, and thus create a greater demand and incentive to produce and supply them.

  37. is that in advertisers dream world dan?

    where the whole market is defined and beholden to the great and magnificent consumer …

    and cartels dont exist, and prices aren’t manipulated, and brand names dont matter

  38. Pr Q says:

    The set of ideas that has dominated public policy for the last thirty years has been given a variety of names – neoliberalism[1], economic rationalism, the Washington Consensus and Thatcherism being the most prominent.

    Broadly speaking, this set of ideas combines support for free market (or freer market) economic policies with agnosticism[2] about both political liberalism and the relative merits of democracy and autocracy.

    No, thats false. Neo-liberal politicians have been the most prominent democracy promoter over recent decades. Far from being “agnostic about the relative merits of democracy” they have been amongst its truest believers. (I am talking about practical political action, not ideological musing which no scientist should take seriously.)

    No politicians in post War history have done more than the (neo-liberal) Thatcher, Reagan (and even Howard and Bush) to promote the practical conservation and extension of political liberalism.

    Thatcher was a staunch opponent of (IRA) terrorism and hastened the deposition of (Argentinian) military dictatorship. Reagan hastened the demolition of the Berlin Wall and the Soviet dictatorship that erected it. Reagan also reversed the US’s long time support of dictatorship in the Phillipines.

    Reagan term of office coincided with a massive extension of democracy in the Americas. Whether he played much part in it is open to debate. Certainly did not arrest it.

    Howard liberated the ETimorese and helped to establish a fledgling democracy there. He also did more than any other AUS politician to provide aid and comfort to emerging democratic forces in Indonesia. Certainly more than social-democratic Whitlam did when he had his chance.

    Even Bush’s blundering efforts in the ME have produced one small bonus of a democracy in Iraq. Although this is one of those cases where political liberals should be careful what they wish for.

  39. re: jack strocchi

    At the end of the day, what is important is the goal. For classical liberals/liberatarians, individual liberty is the goal – democracy is thus but a means to an end. Can there be a better way to achieve this?

    In fact, is democracy a necessary characteristic of a free society? IMO bad democracy can be good for freedom (c.f. the old Hong Kong, perhaps Singapore to a lesser extent). If you can ignore the few annoyances, there’s tremendous scope for individual liberty.

  40. Far from being “agnostic about the relative merits of democracy” they have been amongst its truest believers. (I am talking about practical political action,….” – JS

    Surely this is a joke?

    Or is Jack confusing correlation with causation?

  41. Gerard says
    “If it wasn’t questioned sufficiently, that makes it anything but “too empirical”.

    Empirical analysis isnt the font of all knowledge Gerard and in fact it has become somewhat obsessively overated in economics along with neoclassical economics (and dare I say it, but very boring to many students and slightly embarrassing to teach).

    What point all that mathematical jargon (using constructs even if highly complex constructs) if no one out there can understand the papers or tests (except a closed enclave in unis). Academics owe the public meaningful communication.

    Empirical analysis can also be a cloak to hide behind…..there is also value in normative work in economics.

    Sigh…

  42. Dan M wrote If you don’t like it, try something different. It’s really not that difficult.

    To the contrary, it really is that difficult. The information that we need to make the right choice is never there at the time we purchase the product. By the time we realise we have bought a lemon, it’s too late.

    How about my cousin who bought the most highly energy efficient rated fridge only to begin to see it rust 6 years later, or a sewing machine that she had to throw away, because five years after she bought it, she could not obtain spare parts?

    The so-called free market forces us to waste thousands of dollars each year on products that are designed to fall apart or stop working in a matter of a few years for lack of necessary parts.

    Does anyone here seriously maintain that that is what consumers rally want?

    Very interesting spin on the history of neo-liberalism, Jack.

    We only need look at Australia and New Zealand to see that neo-liberalism is the precise antithesis of democracy.

    Do you remember how Telstra was fully privatised when 70% of the public opposed it?

    Or how the neo-liberal establishment clamoured to have NSW’s electricity privatised last year when privatisation was opposed by 79%-85% of the NSW public?

    Or how Keating promised not to fully privatise the already half-privatised Commonwealth Bank in 1993 and then went ahead and did it anyway?

    If you ever read Naomi Klein’s “The Shock Doctrine”, you will see that there is abundant evidence that firstly neo-liberal ideologues including Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan are profoundly hostile to democracy.

    Far from having promoted democracy in Latin America, Ronald Reagan propped up some of the most barbaric regimes known in history in the 1980’s, including the genocidal death squad regime in Guatemala and the only slightly less less odious regime of El Salvador and he funded mercenaries to attack the government of Nicaragua which had abolished the death penalty.

  43. To the contrary, it really is that difficult. The information that we need to make the right choice is never there at the time we purchase the product. By the time we realise we have bought a lemon, it’s too late.

    So you voted for Kevin Rudd did you?

  44. Terje,

    In fact, I voted for independents, Greens and other small parties and only put Labor barely ahead of the Liberals in my order of preferences. So, yes, I did vote ‘for’ Kevin Rudd on a two-party preferred basis.

    Even a lemon such as the Rudd Government is vastly preferable to the bunch of sociopathic despots that preceded it.

    No decent, sane and compassionate person should ever regret in the least having helped to bring about John Howard’s long overdue and well-deserved demise in 2007.

    Still, the obviously unsatisfactory choices we are given in state and federal elections are instructive about the quality of democracy in Australia.

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