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Ozonomics: Inside the Myth of Australia's Economics Superheroes

Webdiarist contributor Chris Saliba reviews Andrew Charlton’s recent book, Ozonomics. His last piece for Webdiary was In Search of Kevin Rudd. Thank you, Chris, for this most interesting review.

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Ozonomics aims to demystify much of the white noise we hear in the media on the subject of the economy. If you're like me price fluctuations, trade imbalances and the finer points of interest rate movements register zero effect on the intelligence.

Author Andrew Charlton does a wonderful job of breaking down the essentials of the economy into a clear and simple language, providing instructive examples and 'cartoon economies' in which to get big concepts across to reluctant readers.

With good doses of wit thrown in, Andrew Charlton has written an easy to read guide that deserves a wide readership. After all, we spend most of our lives contributing to the economy through our work and spending habits, and we elect leaders to manage it. We should have a clear picture of how it all really works, what’s important economic news and what’s mere fluff.

Andrew Charlton has an impressive CV for a 28 year old. He’s worked with Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz, with whom he co-wrote Fair Trade For All: How Trade Can Promote Development, and holds a doctorate from Oxford University. For kicks he enjoys the acerbic wit of Oscar Wilde, Patrick White and Maureen Dowd.

Not content with these achievements, he decided to demolish what he thinks is the myth that the Liberals are better economic managers.

John Howard and Peter Costello have for the past ten years presented themselves as the undisputed masters of the Australian economy, delivering growth galore and wealth never dreamt of.

Andrew Charlton argues that their constant trumpeting of this line has been so effective that everyone – media and electorate – take it for gospel truth. Making matters worse has been the Labor party itself. Cowed by such tactics, they haven't been able to stand up and proudly claim Labor's impressive economic legacy: the major structural reforms under the Hawke and Keating governments.

The culmination of Labor’s poor economic argument came under Mark Latham's leadership, where he signed a blackboard sized poster which comprised of three economic policy promises: keeping the budget in surplus; reducing Commonwealth expenditure and revenue as a proportion of GDP; and reducing taxation. This was the 'Labor low interest rate guarantee.'  The worst part of this act was not so much its silliness. The Reserve Bank, as we all know, ultimately makes decisions on interest rates. What was worse, in Charlton's view, was that it legitimised 'Howardonomics'.

'Latham might as well have been signing a massive 'congratulations' card to celebrate the forthcoming Howard victory. In one desperate gesture he had essentially told the Australian people that 'Howardonomics' was legit, that all the bogus links the Coalition had been making between deficits and interest rates were correct, that the Labor Party had a lot to apologise for from their last government, and that the only way for them to be accepted back in the political mainstream was to confess their sins and promise never to re-offend.'

Ozonomics is basically divided into two parts. The first part describes what Charlton thinks of as the three most important aspects of the economy. They are productivity, jobs and equality. It's important that we increase our productivity, create innovative businesses that create jobs, and strive to narrow the gap between rich and poor. While the state will always have a major role to play in providing welfare to those in need, communities should also play a more prominent role. While people may resent their taxes being re-distributed through the prism of government bureaucracy, humans are naturally philanthropic when faced with their fellows in distress.

Charlton unequivocally sees free markets as being responsible for our current prosperity. Had not our tariff protections been removed and our economy opened to competition, we’d be a much poorer nation. Those on the left calling for a return to the days of protected industries are living in a dream. Charlton calls them 'sandbaggers', desperately trying to sandbag Australia against the millions of Chinese each year marching off from their villages and into manufacturing jobs. This phenomenon we simply can't compete against. What we can do though is invest in education, become an innovative nation and secure for ourselves a better future. We have to become a clever, creative nation, and stop thinking that we can forever just dig up coal and sell it.

In politics, we must also do away with the exhausted discourse of left versus right, especially when the policies of the left and right parties often meet up in calling for  old fashioned protection of Australian manufacturing industries. It's obvious that it has become increasingly difficult to explain what being left or right wing means in today’s politics.

Charlton helpfully gives us three political categories to define current political thinking. There are the popular nationalists, the neo-conservatives and the progressive globalists. The last group Charlton describes in detail.

'The progressive globalists would comprise those people who believe that markets can be a powerful force for good, but that they are not perfect and need governments, unions and social institutions to correct market failures and support equality of opportunity. The distinctive economic philosophy of the progressive globalists would centre on widely distributed prosperity, economic security, sustainability and well being. All of these are the objectives which could be achieved through the combination of well-functioning markets and effective institutions.'

When faced with a choice between the closed door policies of popular nationalists, and the 'sink or swim' in the turbulent waters of global capital attitude of the neo-conservatives, Charlton sees the progressive globalists as having the most compelling program for the nation's future. This would not involve protecting citizens from the outside world, but in giving them the tools and education to prosper in a globalised world.

'It means combining the power of the market place to unleash incentives with the coordinating role of the state to equip people with the skills to innovate, invest and work smarter, in order to provide a better future for themselves and their children.'

Part two of Ozonomics goes on to demolish what the author describes as ‘Howardonomics’. This may make the book sound like it's a partisan argument written to try and tear down the credibility of the Howard government. (It should be noted that the book was launched by Kevin Rudd). Charlton after all does give most of the credit for the booming Howard years to the reforms implemented by Hawke and Keating. The tone of the book however is more of a need for Australians to know how their economy really works, and to enable voters to make a more informed choice when looking at the Howard government's argument that it is better able to manage the economy than Labor.

In essence, Charlton argues that Howard and Costello have been 'coasting'. Page 125 provides a very illuminating table contrasting the reforms of the Hawke-Keating years against those of the Howard-Costello years. Howard and Costello's big reforms, in the author's opinion, pale into insignificance when put against the Hawke-Keating record. The GST's positive effects on the economy have been overstated, and WorkChoices has simply involved a transfer of money from employee to employer.

Other Howard economic shibboleths are dealt with, such as budget surpluses and the belief that national debt is a bad thing. The best example to illustrate the phoniness of the Howard economic mantra is an interview conducted on ABC's Lateline by Tony Jones. Remember the debt truck of late 1995 that Peter Costello launched from oppostion? Here is Howard in February 1996:

'We now owe the rest of the world $180 billion. Nothing, my friends, symbolises absolutely and comprehensively more than that disgraceful figure the total failure of Labor's economic management over the last 13 years.'

Yet today foreign debt is a staggering $522 billion and rising. How can this be when contrasted again Howard’s words in 1996. Either he wasn’t serious to begin with, or is completely incompetent. The interview with Tony Jones is worth quoting at length, as it demonstrates the huge gulf between Howard’s rhetoric and his action.

TONY JONES: Mr Howard, you've made that point repeatedly, but when you had that debt truck, you called it the foreign debt truck.
The figure on the side of it was $194 billion - a very scary figure, I think you'd agree.
Do you know what that figure is now?
JOHN HOWARD: I don't dispute that's a different figure or that there's a higher figure.
TONY JONES: It's a higher figure, $393 billion.
It's doubled, in fact, under your Government?
JOHN HOWARD: Tony, I don't dispute that.
And I simply make the point that the capacity of the Australian economy to service that foreign debt and the fact that we've taken out of that debt a Government contribution, I mean, you don't want to confuse foreign debt, which is a combination potentially of both public and private sector indebtedness, and the national debt, which, of course, is the accumulated Government debt, which is the product of running successive Budget deficits.
I think it's very important to point this out.
And it's very important to make the point that we inherited 96 and we've reduced that by $70 billion.
TONY JONES: But this is the pledge you made in September of 1995 - "I can promise you we will follow policies "which will bring down the foreign debt."
Now why didn't you keep that key economic promise?
JOHN HOWARD: Well, Tony, I won't argue with you as to what I precisely said, although I haven't checked the exact words, but what I will say in reply to that is that when you're making a judgment on a government and on an individual, you look at the totality of that government's performance.
If you're trying to suggest that this Government hasn't presided over a strongly growing, low inflationary, low interest rate economy -
TONY JONES: I'm asking you specifically about the promise you made in '95.
Why make the promise in the first place if you're not going to keep it?
JOHN HOWARD: Tony, I'm not avoiding that.

Andrew Charlton’s voice can be added to a growing list of writers and thinkers who are providing a way out of the dead end of left versus right politics. His program suggests we embrace globalism, put a high premium on education, maintain good wages and conditions for our workers (yes, that means supporting the unions) and keep markets out of areas that are better co-ordinated by the state. Common sense, not ideology, should prevail.

His analysis of the Howard years of economic management demands we scrutinise the blatant contradictions and clear nonsense of ‘Howardonomics’. This is not an argument pitched to heap calumny on Howard and Costello. Charlton’s point is that in a rapidly changing world with its constant challenges, it’s critical that we have a clear and honest understanding of how our economy really works. Our future depends on it.

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Debate is over we all agree we need a sustainable economy.

Western Australian Sustainable Energy Association Inc. (WA SEA)

 

                      Media Release – 08 November 2007

The climate debate is over – we all agree we need a sustainable economy

 “It was a balanced debate with lots of clean energy, more than one ray of hope, plenty of emissions (and omissions) and everything including the carbon sink.” says Dr Ray Wills, Chair of the Western Australian Sustainable Energy Association Inc. (WA SEA).

In summing up today’s debate between Malcolm Turnbull and Peter Garrett, Dr Wills commented “Of the candidates for Ministerial posts in the next Australian Government, there is no doubt in my view that both men are as good as you could wish for, and both sides actually agree we need to act on climate change.”

“In comparison of policies, there are elements of the Liberal policy proposals that are superior to Labor’s offerings, particularly a more broadly-based approach to an emissions trading scheme. But in terms of total action on climate change, Garrett demonstrated Labor offers a more comprehensive package, and in particular full support for the Kyoto protocol and much stronger support for renewable energy.” added Dr Wills.

“First, it is important to sign Kyoto. Signing Kyoto gives the Federal Government the legal basis to ensure that all Australian states take unified action to respond to climate change. This is important from an economic perspective as it ensures a consistent set of rules and more certainty for business across Australia; it also provides businesses access to international markets that are currently denied to them.” says Dr Wills.

“Second – renewable energy. The real result in an emissions trading economy will be the creation of new jobs, more jobs, not less - they will just be different jobs, in an economy much less exposed to the impact of carbon emissions and the ravages of ever increasing prices of fossil fuels by obtaining energy from renewable sources. As in all market places, the new market based on reducing greenhouse emissions will have both winners and losers - but the losers will only be those who have resisted change, failed to plan for and engage in the new carbon-free economy, and did not have the foresight to adapt to climate change,’ says Dr Wills.

“Finally, the debate also touched on green vehicles. Stronger measures on National Average Fuel Consumption numbers that determine the standards for vehicle fuel efficiency of new passenger and transport/commercial vehicles are critical.  Such measures will reduce running costs of Australian vehicles on imported fuels and reduce inflationary pressures on transported goods, on the household budget, and so ultimately on mortgage affordability.”

A vision for the future for Australia should change the way we use energy and reduce the risk of inflation in our economy by developing an array of sustainable energy solutions for Australia.

The Feudal Mind Warrior

Bill Avent:

If anyone out there can tell me what Paul is ever on about, I'd like to hear it (I won't be holding my breath.) He seems to think anything that wasn't covered in Hail to America 101 must be a communist plot.

When one starts reading about the welcomed destruction of growth, and the forced re-distribution of wealth, one does begin to ponder.

Communism failed the environment and one merely needs look at Eastern Europe and China. Poverty failed the environment and one merely need look at Africa and much of South America. Poverty is a personal road to ruin as well as an environmental one. The things that you advocate will lead to poverty.

It would appear you hold an unhealthy preoccupation with other people's intelligence. I' am guessing a complex or two. They have people you can see about such things nowadays.

Pondering, or Floundering?

Paul, you've begun to ponder? Pull the other one.

Who said anything about "destroying" growth"? Growth surely has its place, as does stability. Wasn't it you who referred some time back to "world growth"? Have you any idea how silly you sound sometimes? Here's some news for you to ponder, Paul: the world is not growing. Matter of fact it's shrinking.

Not long ago you exhorted others to read what you write. A bit of advice: practice what you preach. Where did I ever advocate communism as a remedy for worldly ills? Nowhere. Where did I advocate "forced re-distribution of wealth"? Nowhere. You need to get over your obsession, and recognise that not everything you read is an attack on your precious capitalism.

"Poverty is a personal road to ruin as well as an environmental one."  What? Poverty is at the end of a personal road to ruin, Paul. Do at least try to make sense. And if poverty is a road to environmental ruin, doesn't that reinforce my case for alleviating poverty?

It's true, I do prefer intelligence to its opposite. I'm happy to let others spend their time "guessing a complex or two."

Morally Neutral, or Brain in Neutral?

Roger, I have no idea what you are on about. Superannuation? 401K? That is a retirement plan, isn't it? Those things have nothing to do with anything I've said.

If anyone out there can tell me what Paul is ever on about, I'd like to hear it (I won't be holding my breath.) He seems to think anything that wasn't covered in Hail to America 101 must be a communist plot.

I'll Connect The Dots For You

Bill, I was adding my comment to your own, "All it needs to do is stop wasting the poor people's resources on its own stupid, planet-damaging self-indulgence".  There is a strongly linked chain of economic cause and effect which is tied to superannuation in the Western economies.

What is the imperative that makes us all buy into the notional assessment of wealth and profit such as we have? It certainly is not the health and well-being of a corporation because aside from the legal fiction, it does not exist. However the legal fiction exists de facto.

Governments have codified the profit imperative into corporate law but the governments are of the people and for the people, this Saturday being adequate proof of this fact.

Economics in all its adherent forms should exist as science for one reason only. To ensure that people's lives improve. Those who pursue the study and execution of economic policy for any other reason apart from the above, bastardise and obscure the reason why we allow corporations in the first place. Politicians should and sometimes do know better.

Changes that will bring about positive changes to our economic health have to start with legislation that makes it perfectly clear why a corporation has an existence, namely for the betterment of the population (of the world?).

That in turn affects the global stock markets which currently produce product primarily consumed by the pension fund industry. This has come about because of the deliberate move of governments from 'defined pension' to 'defined benefit' outcomes for retirees. This policy change has completed skewed and perhaps corrupted the stockmarkets.

What we have currently is a tightly bound and corrupt system where governments are complicit in the rape of other countries resources and that action is being reinforced by the stresses and imperatives that governments build in through legisation and policy with its implicit expectations on the stockmarket.

If we want a more equitable outcome for the third world then our expectations involving superannuation will have to change significantly.

 

The Feudal System Here We Come

Evan Hadkins

As to maths.  Most of the resources are consumed by the wealthy - the top 10% consuming far more than the bottom 30%.  The maths says that this re-distribution would make a huge difference.

I would be interested in reading what you are basing this opinion on? Explaining why wealthy people pollute less is like trying to explain why taxing less can gain higher tax revenue for the government. People have a quasi-religious instilled belief that wealth is somehow equated with evil, and that poverty is equated with nobility. Most are taught this along with the wage slave mentality from the earliest age.

Interesting that you assume that I' am a callous person. I donate 10% of my net income yearly and have done so since the age of 27. I would be interested in knowing how many people here give similar donations. Mostly what I witness is a false belief that writing how tax money should be spent is somehow a noble pastime. I find it about as noble as spending the neighbours money. It is of course morally neutral.

Bill Avent

Current trends in the developed world clearly show that. The third world needs help to reach the West's level of development; and the West can easily afford to provide that help. All it needs to do is stop wasting the poor people's resources on its own stupid, planet-damaging self-indulgence.

Any study of past communism would show this last century's ideological clap-trap for what it is. Poverty and pollution do go hand in hand.


Sorry Paul

The "callousness" was a response to Alga and the "maths" to you.  I wasn't meaning that any individual was callous but challenging that the maths had to be.

Rich country lifestyles consume vastly more power than poor people's lifestyles.  I believe these need to be changed and that this can be done in ways that people find preferable if those with vested interests don't dominate the discussion.

I don't believe we need have an energy shortage.  Renewables could sustain a vastly more energy intense lifestyle than we currently have.  It would of course entail some sacrifices (just as our current despoiling of non-renewable sources does).

Trust this clarifies my position and apologies for any offense caused.

Currently the pollution by China outstrips the western nations and by a considerable margin as far as I can tell. 

I don't think wealth is evil.  Only its corralling by a minority while there are many starving and dying of preventable diseases (both within Australia and overseas).  The idea that poverty is noble can be cured in the first fifteen minutes of walking into a slum - I recommend this course of action to anyone foolish enough to believe this.

As to what would be a noble way to spend tax dollars, I have lots of ideas.  Grameen bank schemes where money lenders are a problem, providing education to poor women both for their own sake and to reduce the rate of population increase, setting up experiments in sustainability (and I haven't even touched my favourite subjects of health and education).

The Soviet Union's environmental record was and is (so far as I can tell).  Capitalism that is not subject to citizen activism and government regulation is similarly destructive. (Both capitalism and communism presume economics to be the dominant factor in social change - they are both varieties of a kind of economic fundamentalism, which I think to be incorrect).

Well Yes, Truth Does Hurt

…one whose comfort depends on living in a cocoon of lies.

We are not talking about the super-rich ending up with everything here. Any healthy body can tolerate a few benign parasites; and so can a healthy world. The trouble with the world is that the Wastrel West is wasting resources, while the West's victims in the third world are wasting away.

Except for his misconceptions about the human condition during feudal times, when the world was in much better shape than now, John Pratt is right. World population growth can easily be stabilised, and a steady reduction begun. Current trends in the developed world clearly show that. The third world needs help to reach the West's level of development; and the West can easily afford to provide that help. All it needs to do is stop wasting the poor people's resources on its own stupid, planet-damaging self-indulgence.

Major Changes

Bill, we then need to tackle what replaces superannuation, 401K plans. The profit imperative needs to be remove from the statute books of the world. Corporations should lose all legal standing and the managers become personally liable.

Not as callous as the destruction of the planet

John, my dream is for the planet to survive, not the ideological part of the human race which is rapidly destroying it. We don't suffer for every child that dies in poverty any more than when animals die from the destruction of their habitat caused by the growing plague of humanity. I understand ideologists have no thought for anything but their own delusions, but this planet survives on it's biodiversity, not the whims of the human plague. This planet is already heavily overpopulated with humans and underpopulated with biodiversity, yet you want this scenario to continue, seems rather irrational to me and lacks any logic whatsoever.

We are already slaves to the rich and the worlds indigenous poor are just problems to be moved out of the way of their destructive wealth creation. Education doesn't won't slow population growth, if it did then we would have a stable and non growing population, unlike the reality of a rapidly growing one. I don't understand anyone who believes in god, I understand how primitive they are and how lacking in intelligence they are in believing in such a destructive and suppressive fallacy. But hopefully they will all wipe themselves out psychologically and physically before the planet collapses completely. Economically, no mater which direction they take, it will fail under the control of blind ideologists. Surely you can see that if we feed all these people, they will just have more kids. Most of them are now followers of god and part of this bizarre approach from all Abrahamic factions, is populate as fast as you can with your faction so you have more cannon fodder to overrun your opposition with. Economic growth, god, growing human populations, are all major ingredient for the destruction of life on the planet. Without them the planet has a chance of survival, but I understand the desire of ideologists to negate that reality to maintain their dying illusions. By the results we have produced for this planet so far, we certainly are a stupid destructive race, which deserves either massive culling or extinction. Anyway John, it matters not what anyone thinks, nature will have the final say and there's nothing we can do about that.

Truth Hurts

John Pratt

Alga: your solution of letting the poor starve is indeed callous. There is enough energy and wealth on the planet if only we could overcome human greed.

Actually John callous or not it is what you have always advocated. You do not believe in economic growth so what do you expect will happen? There is, and lets face it, only so much to go around. It is embrace growth theory or embrace Logan's Run theory. There unfortunately is no in between; only pretend outcomes are left.

One such pretend outcome is that rich people take every thing. Unfortunately for you the same people argue correctly rich people only make up a fraction of the world population. Even, if tomorrow, every rich person was to divide up every thing they processed it still would not make an inch of difference. Pure mathematics provides us all with the answer. The world either produces more or it goes backward. Share time and little school are over on this very subject, and it has been for a very long time. Alga, as callous as you may pretend he is (and I strongly disagree with him); is at least being honest.

PS This of course is all pending until the day Mr Rudd saves humanity with his (defeating of basic mathematics) heavenly ordained kindness.

Callous Maths and Hope

Paul, which is it?

"Actually John callous or not it is what you have always advocated. You do not believe in economic growth so what do you expect will happen? There is, and lets face it, only so much to go around.

The world either produces more or it goes backward."

Do you believe there is only so much to go around or that growth is possible?

As to maths.  Most of the resources are consumed by the wealthy - the top 10% consuming far more than the bottom 30%.  The maths says that this re-distribution would make a huge difference.

My guess is that most of the wealthy don't care all that much for the luxuries.  They care more about infrastructure than tax cuts for instance.

Most people do not live economically among friends and family.  When they can see ways to make an immediate difference they give money away (eg. after tsunamis).

We can easily produce enough for everyone to thrive.  We may forgo a few luxuries, but who would really care if we could see that forgoing them meant stopping children starving.

I submit that the problem is giving people ways to affect those who are real to them.  I think this is reason why World Vision's (in?)famous child sponsorship is successful.

The maths I don't think is callous and people when given a chance of helping those they know (or sometimes even those they don't) in meaningful ways aren't either.

 

The delusions of economics

World Vision says Labor's policy of boosting foreign aid to 0.5 per cent of GDP could help save the lives of up to 140,000 children living in poverty in the region.”

As callous as it may seem, the first thing we have to understand is the planet is heavily overpopulated with humans as it is. It makes no sense economically long term to promote a growing world population. It may look good for the very short sighted as it appears the more people you have the more money you can make. The truth is, the ability to grow food and provide an ever increasing supply of commodities is diminishing with soil degradation, land clearing, climate change and environmental destruction. So as the population rises, the ability to utilise it diminishes. Supporting more and more people is only providing work to build more boxes to bury them with. Their problems arise from the intervention of social and environmental destructive ideologies bent on control at any cost. No matter which way we go with the current economic aid approach, it will only get worse for everyone. We should be spending aid money on developing technologies training and methods to help these people cope on their own without handouts, except for natural disasters.

As for catholic bishops, I think Alan Curran sums it up very well.

Yes Alga Callous

Alga: your solution of letting the poor starve is indeed callous. There is enough energy and wealth on the planet if only we could overcome human greed. I don't understand the world of your dreams. Is it something like is was in old China where the rich built a wall around themselves to keep the Barbarians out? Can't you see for every child that dies of poverty we all suffer. Perhaps we are letting a thousand Einsteins die through lack of food and education. When will we  realise that we will have to minimise our demands so that others may live? To believe that humans are not capable of sharing this planet is pessimistic in the  extreme.  Think it through  the rich get richer and the poor  get poorer.  Until we are all slaves and  the super  rich rule.  Do you want to go back to the feudal system?

As for the Catholic Church having millions its nothing to do with me I'm an atheist, remember. I just don't understand all those God botherers who ignore the calls of the many church leaders to give to the poor. It just doesn't make sense to me. To keep the promises we have made to the UN. It is less than one percent of our GDP. Would one cent in every dollar really make a difference to our lifestyle? If we were to educate every child on the planet perhaps the birthrate would fall.

Progressive globalist force for good, but OZ among the meanest.

Chris Saliba: says "The progressive globalists would comprise those people who believe that markets can be a powerful force for good, but that they are not perfect and need governments, unions and social institutions to correct market failures and support equality of opportunity. The distinctive economic philosophy of the progressive globalists would centre on widely distributed prosperity, economic security, sustainability and well being."

Sir Bob Geldof says Australia, one of the wealthiest countries in the world, is also one of the meanest.

 Australia's aid lags behind the rest of the developed world.

"It's embarrassingly pathetic in fact it's one of the meanest on the planet," he said.

"For a country that keeps boasting about its huge growth which is absolutely correct, is 99.5 per cent not enough for you, is that not enough for you?"

It is a shame on us all the the Howard government has not honoured our promise to the United Nations to fight world poverty.

Millennium development goals are contained in the Millennium Declaration adopted by 189 nations, including Australia, during the UN Millennium Summit in September 2000.

"There is a moral imperative to come good on the promise our leaders have made," Mr de Groot said.

"This vow to the world's poor demands Australia to not only increase its aid to 0.7 per cent of GNI (gross national income, broadly similar to GDP) but to make sure that our aid is complemented by fair trade agreements that meet the needs of the world's most vulnerable communities."

After 10 years of successive budget surpluses, a denial of Australia's commitment to the world's poorest and most vulnerable communities was unacceptable, Mr de Groot said.

Catholic bishops had articulated a commitment to act in the interest of people who did not share the same prosperity and security as Australia, he said.

World Vision says Labor's policy of boosting foreign aid to 0.5 per cent of GDP could help save the lives of up to 140,000 children living in poverty in the region. 

Waste of money

John Pratt,  "Catholic bishops had articulated a commitment to act in the interest of people who did not share the same prosperity and security as Australia."

However, the bishops are willing to waste $100 million on the coming visit of the Pope, and we the taxpayers are going to pay for this. I wonder what World Vision could do with $100 million.

Ruddier than a cherry

John Pratt says:

"Howard promised us comfort and relaxation. He has delivered an economic nightmare."

Oh my God. They're already getting ready to blame Howard for whatever comes next under Rudd.

Goodbye Mr Howard. We will have your economic legacy for years

The national average price of petrol in Australia has risen to a new five-month high climbing two cents a litre in the past week to $1.31 per litre.

HOMEOWNERS have been slugged with another interest rate rise, the first-ever during an election campaign, pushing mortgage rates towards a 13-year high.

The average home now costs nine times the average annual wage — up from six times 10 years ago; first home buyers are now spending 31.7% of their total income on mortgage repayments, up from 17.9% in 1996; and the share of homes being bought by first home owners has fallen from 21.8% in June 1996 to 17.1% today. As a result, young people are staying longer in rented accommodation, leading to increased rents and shortages of rental properties.

THE drought is set to make its presence felt this festive season. Prices of everything from beer to turkey are expected to soar.

And experts say there will be no reprieve for a couple of years.

"It's a supply and demand thing, but prices could rise by anything between 5 per cent and 10 per cent over the next few months," said Simon Ramsay, president of the Victorian Farmers Federation.

The worst drought recorded in Australia is the main culprit for skyrocketing food prices. But so is "agflation" — a term used to describe changing diets in Asia, where emerging middle-class consumers are developing a taste for grains and meat, and adding to global food demand just as the UN is about to announce food stocks are at a 25-year low.

"Wheat prices have gone up about 70 per cent in the last five months, dairy prices are soaring and that affects eggs — it's right across the board," says CommSec economist Craig James. "There are no signs the situation will improve over the next year.

Since the drought began, the rise in food prices has outstripped the increase in the cost of living.

According to data from the Bureau of Statistics, general prices to September have risen about 18 per cent compared with six years ago. But the cost of fruit has soared 88.8 per cent and lamb 44 per cent. Basics such as bread have shot up 22.5 per cent and milk has jumped by a third.

I don't know about you but this is not as good as it gets. Howard promised us comfort and relaxation. He has delivered an economic nightmare. While he focuses on economic growth, the size or our wallets has not been keeping up with the cost of living.  Howard has had his head in the sand for years. It time to say Goodbye Mr Howard.

No Ostrich

John, howardthebastard has never had his head in the sand. He has know since the 70s what he was going to do and who his masters would be. He has faithfully served his plan and them for all that time.

That he will not change today is just the result of 35 years of doing the same thing. His heart is as dark as his ethics are morally bankrupt.

Like T.J. "King" Kong in Dr. Strangelove, Howard would ride his plans to end of the world. One of the most devious politicians that Australia has ever had, he is immune to argument, compassion or reflection. Hopefully next Saturday, we will say good riddance and start the job of rebuilding an Australia that we can be proud of.

Just one caveat, I have no confidence that we aren't just replacing one bastard with another but let's ring the changes anyway.

Water

Roger, there is no monsoon in Australia really. The wet season is not that. And the water in the north, which people sometimes talk of diverting to the south, is in the Kimberley, nowhere near Kakadu.

Lake Argyle is indeed a reservoir of water. Piping it south would of course be an enormous undertaking, but so was piping water from Perth to Kalgoorlie, back when that was done. That scheme had its detractors too, who insisted it was an impossible dream. Australians can be timid little teapots.

No great admirer of the American way, I have to agree with Paul that Americans are much more enterprising than Australians. Unbalanced, but not short of initiative. If they had the running of this country, that water running out to sea from the Ord would by now be irrigating southern Australia.

Nongs Abound

Geez Bill, you better let those poor deluded fools at the BOM and ABC know that they have it all wrong. They think that we do have a monsoon in Oz.

Geographically, water from the Argyle would be piped east and then south. Of course, forgetting about the cost, no studies have been done on the impact on using Lake Argyle this way. The studies currently done only deal with using the water in the south of WA.

Should we have a failure of the monsoonal rains, the fate of the Argyle will not differ from the Murray-Darling.

In the West, the Argyle-Ord-Fitzroy system is not viewed as an option for the east. The predominant thinking is to concentrate food production in the west and not pipe water to the eastern states.

As to what the Americans can do, one significant difference between the US example and our own is that they are 20 times our size. In many ways we often punch outside of our weight range but the inaction regarding an east-west pipeline is created by the lack of a comprehensive vision and understanding of the long-term feasibility of such project and not finance.

Sending farmers west is simpler, easier and cheaper than sending water east.

The Bounders Sure Do, Roger

Correct definition of monsoon: Any wind that reverses its direction seasonally.

Incorrect definition of monsoon: Thunderstorms that occur in Northern Australia and in various other countries in both hemispheres during summer.

The monsoon is a wind, full stop. We don't have that here. All we have is the wrongly applied word, by people who should know better. With apologies to Malcolm B., our language is supposed to evolve, not devolve.

More correction: the Argyle is a dam; the Murray is a river. Indications are that global warming will bring more rain to northern Australia, not less, so on present thinking flows into the dam from the Ord River cannot be expected to dry up. Australia is held back by the Yeah…but mentality. We need to stop wringing our hands and get off our butts.

I don't see why water would be diverted east before going south. That would take it into the Northern Territory. Were a channel to be built it would irrigate arid country south of the Kimberley, as far as the channel went. It wouldn't need to go to Southern WA, and of course it wouldn't go to the Eastern States.

Personally, I think we punch below our weight. Example: what was regarded by us as useless desert east of Esperance was seen by visiting Americans as a golden opportunity. They bought it for peanuts, swamped it with fertiliser and turned it into profitable wheatfields. Their investment has paid for itself thousands of times over.

Water

If we just closed that blasted cotton farm, Cubbie station . . . 

A Con Job

When faced with a choice between the closed door policies of popular nationalists, and the 'sink or swim' in the turbulent waters of global capital attitude of the neo-conservatives,

This particular passage is blatantly false. Neo-conservatives have very little in common with Neo-liberals. A trend I have noticed in recent year is to attempt to tar Neo-liberals with the illiberal conservative brush. Neo-conservatives have much more in common with illiberal socialists and other self titled progressives.

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoconservatism

1. Taxes and Federal Budget: "Cutting tax rates in order to stimulate steady economic growth. This policy was not invented by neocons, and it was not the particularities of tax cuts that interested them, but rather the steady focus on economic growth." In Kristol's view, neocons are and should be less concerned about balancing fiscal budgets than traditional conservatives: "One sometimes must shoulder budgetary deficits as the cost (temporary, one hopes) of pursuing economic growth."[9]

2. Size of Government: Kristol distinguishes between Neoconservatives and the call of traditional conservatives for smaller government. "Neocons do not feel ... alarm or anxiety about the growth of the state in the past century, seeing it as natural, indeed inevitable."[9]

3. Traditional Moral Values: "The steady decline in our democratic culture, sinking to new levels of vulgarity, does unite neocons with traditional conservatives". Here Kristol distinguishes between traditional conservatives and libertarian conservatives. He cites the shared interest of Neocons and Religious Conservates in using the government to enforce morality: "Since the Republican party now has a substantial base among the religious, this gives neocons a certain influence and even power."[9]

4. Expansionist Foreign Policy: "Statesmen should ... distinguish friends from enemies." And according to Kristol, "with power come responsibilities ... if you have the kind of power we now have, either you will find opportunities to use it, or the world will discover them for you."[9]

5. National Interest: "the United States of today, inevitably ... [will] feel obliged to defend ... a democratic nation under attack from nondemocratic forces ...that is why it was in our national interest to come to the defense of France and Britain in World War II ... that is why we feel it necessary to defend Israel today."[

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoliberalism

  • Fiscal rectitude, meaning that governments would cut expenditures and/or raise taxes to maintain a budget surplus
  • Competitive exchange rates, whereby governments would accept market-determined exchange rates, as opposed to implemented government-fixed exchange rates, as had prevailed under the Bretton Woods System
  • Free trade, which means the removal of trade barriers, like tariffs, subsidies, and regulatory trade barriers
  • Privatisation, which means the transfer of previously-public-owned enterprises, goods, and services to the private sector.
  • Undistorted market prices, meaning that governments would refrain from policies that would alter market prices.
  • Limited intervention, with the exception of intervention designed to promote exports, some kinds of education or infrastructural development.[6]

Other studies also cite the following policy changes associated with neoliberalism[7]:

  • Reduced capital controls, which involve removing governments laws that hinder or control the cross-border flow of finance
  • Deregulation, the abolition or reduction of government-imposed restrictions on the conduct of business' decision-making
  • Union busting policies, as unions are generally taken to be impediments to economic development by adherents of this worldview
  • Export-led development, as opposed to a development strategy that emphasises the protection of domestic industry.

Opportunity Does Not Come Knocking At The Door

Roger Fedyk, if Northern Australia has large amounts of water reserves, and the rest doesn't, perhaps an engineer may be needed? I can supply you with a direct line to Bechtel if it would help.

Andrew McRae, are you also in the market looking to sell? If you do me a competitive price I will even pay for you to attend the soon to be pacific Harvard. Supply free articles on climate change doom, even.

Life and opportunity, I have found, are what you make them to be.

Heads Need Knocking

Paul, I see that you are seduced by the "make the rivers run backwards" argument. We already know that if we divert the top-end water then the top-end will be devasted.

What is in the north is not a reservoir of water. It is an eco-system that is totally reliant on the flooding and flushing that comes with the monsoon. If we interfere with that then Kakadu and the top-end treasures will disappear, probably within one or two decades.

Your comments are fanciful and ignorant of the facts.

Vacuous irrelevance

In response to Roger’s
I can't agree with your suggestion that Australia could be the bread basket of the world.

 

 

Paul Morrella writes

Frankly astounding; any visitor to Australia is firstly struck by the natural beauty of the place. Secondly by the natural wealth gifted to the place. Thirdly (some people) by the amazing engineering of the place in what must be some of the most challenging terrain in the world. It is (or was) a can do place that had, at least at one time, a sense of anything being possible. Unfortunately it also is a place that comes across as uncertain of itself, childishly pessimistic, and at times trying that little bit too hard - hence the Harvard and Oxford like ludicrous pipe dreams.

 

 

What is truly astounding, frankly, is this vacuous, irrelevant and silly reply.

 

Paul, you simply have not addressed the point made, that Australia cannot sustain the kind of agriculture required to feed a vast number of people. Have you not heard of salination, drought, erosion, global warming? Your only response in fact is to decry pessimism and the vanishing of the belief that anything is possible. Now THAT is childish.

You're Doomed! Interested In Selling?

Roger Fedyk:

Paul, what you call "naivety" I call stupidity. We are an educated nation. Most Australians have a very well developed BS meter except where politicians are concerned. Why is that? Children are naive; however, adults are wilfully stupid for ignoring what dramatically affects their life.

I have no idea and I care even less. Perhaps educated to the point of not being able to make a decision? That is not educated and you don't learn to swim by sitting on the beach.

However, I have no idea why you have a hope that the beauty of this land or the wealth buried in the ground will makes us a bread basket to the world. We will become hard-pressed to feed ourselves if we don't solve our water problems.

Oh, cry me a river of tears. Perhaps rather than complaining about everyone else, it might help, if somebody rather than a politician got off their ass. and attempted to solve the problem.

As to engineering, I am a trained engineer and quite frankly there is little about infrastructure engineering in Australia that I would be crowing about.

Well, I was a little bit impressed with some of things I saw. The whole nation should probably sell up and go and live in London. What a pathetic moaning pack of wusses.

Impressionable?

Sorry Paul, I have no idea what you are trying to convey!

Perhaps people along the Murray-Darling can start a rain dance and the farmers living in the areas cruelled by salination can sift the salt out of the soil with a nifty salt-sifter invented by a reticent but genius engineer hiding somewhere out the back of Bourke? We can only hope.

Time To Retire

The country has been run by two blokes who could be compared with a pair of fairly competent bank managers. Although most don't advise selling off the family home to pay the mortgage and claim it as a miracle of economic management.

You See Only Problems I See Only Hope

Paul, I have children and grandchildren. My concern is for their future and what they are being left with. I don't consider that my destiny as dust allows me to pass on my generation's mistakes to them. Regarding your last paragraph, if what they do overseas is not the world's best practice then I can't see the point of your statement. If they are similarly stupid elsewhere (and mainly they are), so what?

So what? Without food and resources large slabs of the world will die. Australia is in a position to not only deliver a very big helping hand but to deliver it well.

I can't agree with your suggestion that Australia could be the bread basket of the world.

Frankly astounding; any visitor to Australia is firstly struck by the natural beauty of the place. Secondly by the natural wealth gifted to the place. Thirdly (some people) by the amazing engineering of the place in what must be some of the most challenging terrain in the world. It is (or was) a can do place that had, at least at one time, a sense of anything being possible. Unfortunately it also is a place that comes across as uncertain of itself, childishly pessimistic, and at times trying that little bit too hard - hence the Harvard and Oxford like ludicrous pipe dreams.

I repeat my statement that Australians show a propensity for stupidity where governance is concerned. People will not inform themselves even though it is their future and their children's future that they are compromising.

What some Australians from my reading show is a propensity to sit on their ass rather than getting up off it making a personal difference. They also show an incredible naivety in the belief that voting in one clown or another will mean that very same clown will magically (and expectedly) appear to wipe that very same ass. That Roger is the world of the complainer where nothing ever does or will ever work out. When people start behaving like mature self responsible adults they will eventually find leaders that will treat them as such.

Hoping Away

Paul, what you call "naivety" I call stupidity. We are an educated nation. Most Australians have a very well developed BS meter except where politicians are concerned. Why is that? Children are naive; however, adults are wilfully stupid for ignoring what dramatically affects their life.

I share your hope that Australians will mature. Nothing will dramatically change in the governance and the direction that this country must take until we do.

However, I have no idea why you have a hope that the beauty of this land or the wealth buried in the ground will makes us a bread basket to the world. We will become hard-pressed to feed ourselves if we don't solve our water problems.

As to engineering, I am a trained engineer and quite frankly there is little about infrastructure engineering in Australia that I would be crowing about. We are mildly competent in most areas and are most successful when we dig holes in the ground or put up skyscrapers or build lightweight ferries. With the exception of some of the city freeways our road infrastructure is crap. Heavy engineering is almost non-existent. In Victoria, the Wonthaggi desalination project will most likely go to a French company because no Australian company has the necessary expertise. When we want to do something significant we partner with Bechtel or some other overseas heavyweight.

Destiny

Roger Fedyk

Eventually, within 200 years, perhaps sooner, our mineral wealth will all be dug up and gone. Australia will still be a pissy population on a drought-prone continent in the domain of the Asian giants, India, China and Indonesia. At that point then what?

Both you and I will have long since been dust.

The best reasonable business projection could only stretch to about the twenty year mark. Yes, Australia will still have mining and it will still be farming in that time. Australia could well become the much needed breadbasket of the world. The world needs a place such as Australia. That Rodger is your destiny, and a destiny that should be proudly embraced. And a proud destiny it is too. A destiny that has delivered incalculable benefits and one that will continue to do so.

The world doesn't need just another place wasting its time building a plastic Harvard or Oxford etc in a sorry attempt to cover an English projected cultural inferiority complex - which it never had a reason to have in the first place.

Australians are wilfully stupid for putting up with this. We have the government we deserve.

Believe it or not the rest of the world puts up with similar problems. Perhaps it is time for a number of Australian's to get over themselves? Constant incessant carping is an extremely unattractive.

Destiny Not Manifest

Paul, I have children and grandchildren. My concern is for their future and what they are being left with. I don't consider that my destiny as dust allows me to pass on my generation's mistakes to them. Regarding your last paragraph, if what they do overseas is not the world's best practice then I can't see the point of your statement. If they are similarly stupid elsewhere (and mainly they are), so what?

I can't agree with your suggestion that Australia could be the bread basket of the world. 100 years of intensive agriculture have left an unmistakable mark on this land. We live in a fragile environment and have learnt few lessons since Federation. We have misfarmed this country to our own detriment.

The warnings that we received during the Federation drought period and the savage drought of the 30s and later shorter droughts have been studiously ignored by successive governments and now we have a massive salination problem, over 2.5 million hectares of arable land already lost, and a water crisis.

Water instead of being a common birthright has been made a commodity by our governments and we sit around like car doggies nodding our heads at each bump to our wallets.

I repeat my statement that Australians show a propensity for stupidity where governance is concerned. People will not inform themselves even though it is their future and their children's future that they are compromising.

How could a thinking, discerning population put up with he patent bullshit that emanates from mouths of our major party politicians? How could a mature society put up with the woeful, puerile rubbish that can be seen on any televised session of Parliament?

We have the drongos and sharp operators we deserve because we don't demand any better behaviour from our "leaders". We don't demand responsible, accountable government. If we were not stupid why would Howard and Rudd go around promising us how much they are going to "give" us of own money. It is not their money that they are playing with so are we so clueless that anything that a politician promises is regarded as a win for our selfish selves? Sounds like stupidity to me!

One Last Thing

To pretend out of control profligate government spending does not have consequences for interest rates is totally and dangerously delusional. Especially in a nation the economic size and with the structure of Australia. Tight Reserve monetary policy will only help so much with an unhelpful government. I assure anyone that thinks otherwise that at the first sign of poor government policy in this regard the money will run, and it will run quick; right out of the country.

Anyone looking for proof merely needs to look at times of high interest, and cross check the corresponding budget deficit. All the excuses in the world do not change the stunningly similar pattern.

One More Last Thing

Paul, there is something missing from your thinking on the embracing of primary industry as our biggest advantage.

Eventually, within 200 years, perhaps sooner, our mineral wealth will all be dug up and gone. Australia will still be a pissy population on a drought-prone continent in the domain of the Asian giants, India, China and Indonesia. At that point then what? We still will not be able to compete. To use the vernacular, are we then f....? Not a great inheritance to leave our future generations is it?

A Matter Of Degree

Paul, the convergence of adversarial political ideology started with the dismissal of Whitlam.

Australia is doing well if you focus on some narrow measuring sticks like the mineral and fossil fuel industry or the outrageous cost of real estate. We are doing poorly in many other areas.

The political duopoly is an inheritance from times when "to the winner go the spoils" was a reasonable outcome for a small white nation in the middle of "nowhere". The vested interest of the two political giants want access to the national pork-barrel to remain. It rewards those who aided and abetted the winners.

The stupidity of this system is plain to see but most people go along with it because of apathy or ignorance.

In any other sphere of economic endeavour we would insist on choosing the best individual for a specific position. For example what makes Costello Australia's best prospect for treasurer except his own hubris and the fact that he is due his reward under the "slops trough" mentality that motivates these parties.

Australians are wilfully stupid for putting up with this. We have the government we deserve. Apparently we now deserve a dose of Ruddism. In 3, 6, 9 years we will be sick of the corrupted Rudd and will elect a new lying cretin to distribute the population's largesse.

Neo Liberal Policy Not Even Dressed Up

The strangest thing about the whole article is the Left-wing success stories are all neo-liberal economic ones. Seriously, read what the guy is crowing about. It shouldn't surprise anyone because Australia like the USA is an economic neo-liberal nation. And it has been this way for at least twenty years. It certainly will not be changing anytime soon, and Mr Rudd has wisely guaranteed he will follow the policies of his predecessor.

I think these self titled "global progressives" are merely neo-liberals that mouth nice slogans. Nothing though could be as weird as the current Australian election. Both political parties have identical policies (neo-liberal), and people seem to want to pretend one guy is a socialist or something. This Australian election seems largely personality driven which is a very bad thing for diversity in national policy. People should be electing a leader that may inspire their nation not because they don't like the other guy.

Any Australian adverse feelings about prime industries such as mining and farming is a source of amusement. Many nations would kill for similar opportunities and would be proud to be as technically savvy as Australia is in these industries. The dream of Australia matching it with large continents such as Europe, and North America in research and development is a delusion. Australia is a sparsely populated and isolated nation. This has both advantages and disadvantages. Unfortunately economically it is mostly a major disadvantage. Australia would be well advised to concentrate on the things it has a comparative advantage in.

Now what will happen after the election?

Mr Rudd will travel to Australia's major trading partners. There he will tell them it is business as usual. He will then sit down with people such as that Dutch fellow from what will be BHP-RIO and he along with a number of other business leaders will explain to Mr Rudd the facts economic life. Mr Rudd will hail the mining boom and promise all the help he can muster (because without such a boom he is doomed to one term). The unions will be told their days are over (there are no unions in China), and the Australian industrial relations policy changes will be put on the back burner and eventually forgotten about (the time for change will never be right). Just wait and see how wrong I am.

PS I predict Mr Rudd will drop any objection to a nuclear industry. It is the only sensible way forward and with the election out of the way he will voice his true opinion.

Anthropology and Economics

Firstly, I want to say that this book sounds like a great read and that it says important things.

I want to take a big step back and talk about anthropology.  We often assume that we end at our skin - and there is of course much truth in this.  However there are some things this assumption doesn't take into account - compassion and how we can feel similar emotions to others in response to them. 

The assumption that we end at our skin (a kind of individualism) underlies economics.  Even an analysis as enlightened as this one.  This makes it hard to deal with groups - they are presumed to be collections of individuals looking after their own (economic or broader) self-interest.  Or in this proposal, markets (individual economic self-interest) and institutions (regulating groups).

In this kind of approach the institutions are presumed to be about regulating individuals.  So the proposed solutions are individualist - the faith is put in education and creativity.

(There seems to be a kind of naff racism that we will be more creative than Chinese or Indian people.  If creativity has much to do with economics: tell it HP, most business is anything but innovative - being a quick second is a far more profitable strategy.  It makes sense for Australia to choose a niche it is good - say solar power? - but this is a long way from creativity and innovation.)

The progressive globalist position remains an individualist one - and a far better one than the abuse labelled neo-liberalism.

My guess is that creativity and education are collective.  It is usually (smallish) groups with create a particular kind of atmosphere where learning and innovation flourish.  Sustainability is impossible at an individual level, it is a group matter.  (In Australia we are particularly good at suburban living and so I think it is at this scale that sustainability needs to be thought about - as is being done by such as Ted Trainer.)

One of the nastier presumptions of the individualist agenda is that individuals can be individually responsible for their fate.  This is simply unrealistic moralising.  That people have economic misfortunes which are not of their own making is a very good reason for having a welfare state (their are others as well I think).  This does not form part of the progressivist global agenda so far as I can tell.

I hope this response makes sense so far.  I want to affirm all the good things about this kind of economics.  But I want to say it can be used in some pretty vile ways as well - usually summarised as 'blaming the victim'.  I hope I've explained enough of my approach to show why this is my response.

Looking forward to seeing other's responses.

Noblesse Oblige

And it does. It behoves all of us who are more fortunate or gifted than others to give something back: to care. The question is: to whom?

I am an unashamed nationalist and duty begins at home; that is, within the limits of the Commonwealth. We need a welfare state, we need to care for those less fortunate than ourselves but we do so according to our lights and our abilities.

I am a professional trained and skilled (largely) at public expense.   The public, accordingly has a right to expect that I shall use my abilities for their benefit as well as mine.

I recall, standing outside St Mark's handing out at the last election, meeting the then President of the SRC at the University who was (I suppose predictably) handing out for the hapless David Patch for the Labor [sic] Party. There were posters up all over the place (something to which I do not object on election day) for King, TOM and Patch. I got talking to the very pleasant young lady (as one does - one doesn't talk to the Liberals or Nationals - it's more like spitting) and I said (being a contemporary of all of them at University) - "You see him, him and him - we were all at University together and we were all educated at Public expense - and all of them believe in HECS. I don't know how they can do it. Or words to that effect.

I often wonder how much free work they do or what they give back sitting in their comfortable mansions with their comfortable lives. At least King is in the Naval Reserve.

Ozonomics, the dying child of failing globalisation

Charlton unequivocally sees free markets as being responsible for our current prosperity. Had not our tariff protections been removed and our economy opened to competition, we’d be a much poorer nation.”

In theory globalisation sounds fine, but in reality it fails on all relevant fronts. Tariffs maintained the independence of the nation and allowed us to develop a strong and very independent competitive industrial base, which opened up many varied work and business opportunities for everyone. It provided true competition within the country. Now under globalisation we have a collapsed industrial base, work and creative manufacturing business opportunities have diminished rapidly. A large foreign debt and relying upon others outside our control and in many cases hostile to our way of life, to provide out commodities, is just a repeat of the 'pig Iron Bob syndrome' of the 1930's. Give all to others and they will use it against us as they are now doing with our huge and rapidly growing foreign debt. Globalisation is self destructive, just as immigration of professionals is destructive to their countries of origin and our education and training systems. Howard is just a cunning coward who will do anything to maintain control and lying is his big forte, as it is with every politician, corporate head and senior bureaucrats. Howard has just defined it to a sleazy art, but the people are waking up to him and like all liars, in the end they finally have their day in the court of society. I'm sure if elected, we all hope Rudd will be different, but by the rhetoric he is using, there is little difference between him and his older clone, just the false façade.

I haven't read Andrew Charlton's book. However, from reading a bit about him shows he hasn't got a clue and only works with the illusions of economics and not the down to earth realities of life and the future. Constant economic growth is a failing ideological myth as is globalisation, free trade and unfettered immigration. Economic growth relies on more consumers, more pollution and more environmental destruction. It doesn't alleviate any social problems just exasperates the ones already around and creates more. Economic growth and rationalism is the same as corporate piracy, when a company takes over a business, shuts it down or strips it of its assets and resources then dumps it, leaving just a shell, devastated workers customers and shareholders. We are seeing this with most companies operating in this country, they couldn't care less about anything but a growing bottom line and more benefits for their executives. Ozonomics is just a child of global economic rationalism, no matter how much you fudge the numbers, in the end it's the people and environment who suffer. Ozonomics along with global economics rely entirely upon constant growing destruction of the planet, as it requires continuous growth of consumer bases, increasing production of useless and polluting consumer goods and the winding down of all aspects of society, as its rationalised to increase profits and reduce costs. The ideological belief in economic growth, is just the same as believing in god, delusional and fatal for the planet.

We have to become a clever, creative nation, and stop thinking that we can forever just dig up coal and sell it.”

If we are to become a clever nation, then we shouldn't be digging up mountains of coal, but small amounts and converting it to useful sustainable non polluting products. Just as we should be doing with all our resources. To be a clever nation we should be reducing our population to a sustainable level and not bring any into this country until we have reached the level of environmental sustainability. That way we could develop a fully self sufficient nation and sell our surplus. We need controls on growth, costs and wages to attain sustainability in all aspects of life. All the economic spin and drivel won't convince me and millions of others that we are now better off than we were 40 years ago. Then you could buy a house easily, get any job you wanted, cheaply travel, free roads, as well as get interest for your savings and no fees or charges for company services. Unlike today where we not only give companies our money in grants and tax exemptions, but have to pay for everything we used to own through the nose and receive no benefits. I don't see the situation we are in as success, just economic enslavement to the elite, just as it was before the industrial revolution when everyone was enslaved to elite land owners and never owned anything. Now it's almost the same, in every aspect of life, it's corporations who are the enslavers. But at least Andrew Charlton has brought forward relevant points regarding some of the lies and myths we are fed, for which he should be congratulated.

Leaders Required For 22nd Century

Thanks again, Chris for an illuminating review. Not having read the book I don’t know if the following has been covered by Charlton.

Certainly Howard sees Australia as a vast hole-in-the-ground. We have a Prime Minister who has no forward vision, amply demonstrated by his first election pronouncement that his main aim was to make Australians more “comfortable” with themselves, a truly grand forward vision.

However, there is a huge problem for any government that wants to implement a grand vision, namely, overcoming vested interests. The power of old technology/old thinking industries is massive. They are fully integrated in the power structures of today because of their previous economic heroics when “old” technology was new.

Whether it was pony express giving way to coach to rail to automobiles or slaves to mechanisation, every step of the way has been torturously won against the unyielding and even deadly resistance of the holders of the status quo. Howard’s most sterling quality is his unstinting service and loyalty to his “old” masters. These are the ones he grew up with and knows and cherishes.

Our next government needs to be freed of this yoke so that a 22nd century vision is put in place in this 21st century. Hand-in-hand with most people’s ignorance of economics is their ignorance of what masters a government answers to. The current Coalition ploy is to raise a scare about unions controlling Australia. Unions have very little say in how money is invested or utilised in this country. There have been unions of one form or another ever since the white colonisation of Australia commenced.

Irrespective of the relative eminence of union power, Australia has always progressed economically. Unionism has never been a brake on economic advancement. Our major economic dislocations have come about because of seismic shifts in global production methods that have overwhelmed the holdouts that had no forward plan in place.

Howard's real fraud now exposed

Nothing has stripped away the emperor's clothes more than the interest rates rises over the past two years and their connection to inflation and massive government spending.  Howard's new "small" government is 45% bigger than it was when he became PM and currently costs 14% of the tax pie, or about 35 billion.

Think about that.  That is twice the amount spent on education and three times the amount spent on the industry and workforce programs, three times the amount spent on transport and energy, five times the amount spent on community services.

$35 billion a year to run Howard's "smaller" government.  $17 billion for education expenses.

Which is outrageous in anyone's language.

Now while the silly media are carrying on like pork chops the rich punters have spoken on the ALP launch.  Betting is now $1.30 ALP to win and the coalition has blown out to $3.50 since Howard blew his credentials on Monday and with that interest rate rise.

During Keating's so-called big recession he was dealing with the second world wide oil shock, as Whitlam had to deal with the first one.  Interest rates did rise to 17% for a few months but importantly inflation didn't rise above 8%, when Howard had it as high as 14% in 1982 and 90 day bills peaked at 22% in April 1982, credit cards were charging 20% but the banks were actually paying interest on savings.

The thing with the recession is that the debt to disposable income was only 47% and interest was 5% on the debt. It was 69% when Howard became PM and is now 161% with 12% interest.

Even the dumbest ox now gets the point that for every tax "cut" they have had two interest rate rises due to inflation and in Adelaide house prices have risen by 192% while wages have only risen by 56% over the same period and people are paying 45% of income on mortgages and what Howard never bothered to tell anyone in 2004 is that they were already paying 40% and rising.

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David Roffey: {whimper} in Not with a bang ... 12 weeks 6 days ago
Jenny Hume: So long mate in Not with a bang ... 13 weeks 7 hours ago
Fiona Reynolds: Reds (under beds?) in Not with a bang ... 13 weeks 2 days ago
Justin Obodie: Why not, with a bang? in Not with a bang ... 13 weeks 2 days ago
Fiona Reynolds: Dear Albatross in Not with a bang ... 13 weeks 2 days ago
Michael Talbot-Wilson: Good luck in Not with a bang ... 13 weeks 2 days ago
Fiona Reynolds: Goodnight and good luck in Not with a bang ... 13 weeks 3 days ago
Margo Kingston: bye, babe in Not with a bang ... 14 weeks 8 hours ago