Shedding no tears

Barring a miracle, the Queensland Labor government will suffer a defeat tomorrow, comparable in its severity to the Joh-era election of the 1970s, when the caucus was reduced to the size of a cricket team. The great majority of Labor MPs are likely to lose their seats. While I regret the fact that matters have come to this, and like and respect quite a few of those MPs (including, for that matter, Anna Bligh[1]), I will be shedding no tears over this outcome.

Minor update I found a report listing Paul Hoolihan, Jo-Ann Millar, Amanda Johnstone Dean Wells and Lindy Nelson-Carr as members of caucus who opposed the sales. I have met and been impressed by the last two, and I’m sorry that most of this group seem likely to be swept away along with the rest.
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No Ordinary Deal

Max Weber once described politics as the slow boring of hard boards, and this is an apt description of the continuing efforts of the advocates of a globalised capitalism to grind down all the obstacles that might be posed by democratic government.

The dominance of global capital has been greatly enhanced by trade agreements such as those establishing the World Trade Organization. But, over time, the WTO has been less and less able to avoid public scrutiny and popular resistance. Moreover, it has an unfortunate tendency to stick to the rules even when US business doesn’t like the outcome. So, we’ve seen a steady shift to bilateral deals, in which the US can dictate the terms.

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Behind the Seams Fundraiser

Behind the Seams has been an innovative project blogging the issues around Coal Seam Gas and the Queensland election. I’ve contributed some text, but the real work has been done by Mark Bahnisch, Pandora Karavan and a few others. They’ve incurred some pretty substantial expenses travelling to areas where farmers are dealing with CSG and spending unpaid time. There’s a final chance to contribute to the costs of the project here.

Zombies in Oz

I’ve just finished revising Zombie Economics for an Australian edition, to be published by Black Inc in May, with an all-new chapter on economic rationalism, the Australia form of Zombie econ. Keep a lookout!

Alesina, Ardagna, Austerity, Australia

A while ago I published a blog post, and later a Fin article, pointing out that the influential Alesina and Ardagna article, Tales of Fiscal Adjustment, that coined the term “expansionary austerity” was riddled with factual and analytical errors in its discussion of Australia. That piece has elicited a string of lengthy replies from the Catallaxy/CIS team, notable for the absence of any substantive content. Sinclair Davidson produced a mammoth post with multiple updates, entirely devoted to refuting a parenthetical snark on my part that the paper wasn’t peer reviewed. Now there’s another one from Steve Kates, who wants to quibble about the chronological relationship between Jean-Baptiste Say and the Mills, father and son.

So, an open challenge. In my original post, I give seven quotes from the Alesina and Ardagna article, all of which I say are wrong or at least misleading. Does anyone want to defend any of these? Special bonus points for anyone who can defend the opening sentence of their Australian section, which reads “In 1985, a single-party left-wing government took office and launched a stabilization plan to correct the internal and external imbalances (the current account deficit was 4.13% of GDP and the total deficit/GDP ratio was above 3% in 1984). ” (emphasis added).

UpdateKates has added a lengthy update to his post, without, AFAICT, defending the erroneous claims in A & A

All culture wars, all the time

I’ve been meaning for a while to write a post about the way in which all US political issues are viewed, particularly from the right, through the lens of the culture wars. The same is true for the large segments of the right in other English-speaking countries that take their lead from the US. I decided to get it done after reading this piece from Jonathan Haidt in the NYT, which makes quite a few of the points I had in mind, but treats political tribalism as an eternal reality (here evo-psych raises its inevitable head) rather than a factor that varies in importance at different times and places.

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