Friday, December 21, 2007

Howard-sceptics vindicated

Well sort of... now that at least one conservative writer is echoing some of what I and others have been saying for quite some time:

The main claim made for the [Howard] government is that it managed the economy well for 11 years, but the notion on which this is based ... is largely false. ...

The main influences on the economy are various national and international trends, plus the hard work and ingenuity of the Australian people.

The Howard government deserves little credit for these. It demonstrated the competence required in the circumstances that arose, and for that we’re grateful, but a Labor government would probably have performed similarly.

Other important influences on the economy are the relevant legal and institutional arrangements, and here the Howard government was the fortunate inheritor of Hawke’s and Paul Keating’s reforms.

Michael Duffy also notes that “the intellectual right did not criticise [Howard] sufficiently.”

Amen!! But Duffy then enumerates only a very sparing list of criticisms — for instance, the Children Overboard affair is an issue conspicuously missing from Mr Duffy’s discussion.

I nevertheless tend to agree with Mr Duffy’s assertion that “the abuse, and even hatred, heaped on the [former] prime minister by the left suggested he was far more extreme than was the case.”

Indeed, Mr Howard was not unremittingly bad. It’s just that when he was good, he was not really that good. And occasionally when he was bad, he was horrid.

(Incidentally, as Mr Duffy seems to be having difficulty with thinking of the Howard Government in past tense, I must refer him to Tim Dunlop’s News Flash.)

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Anonymous Kathy said...

You wouldn't have even noticed a change of government I reckon.
It's business as usual.
Rudd ain't about to rock the boat. He is a mini Howard, albeit a younger version.
And he is a very cautious bloke.
Nothing like Whitlam or Keating.
He won't tread on too many toes.
Neither will he set the world alight!

21/12/07 10:36 PM  
Anonymous Jacob said...

He's pretty good ith the rhetoric, of course, but substance may well evade him.

Yep, I'm a Rudd-sceptic... but in these early days I'm ever-so-bloodywell-cautiously hopeful that the Rudd Team may yet dazzle us.

I'm also occasionally given to borderline delusional episodes when having a quiet beer.

21/12/07 10:50 PM  
Anonymous Jacob said...

He's also pretty good with the rhetoric sometimes, too...

21/12/07 10:52 PM  
Anonymous Kathy said...

Me too I'm with you Jacob!
I'm ever -so- bloodywell- cautiously hopeful too!

21/12/07 11:12 PM  
Blogger Father Park said...

I’m hung over. That, all things considered, is nothing unusual. I will, I believe, mow the Rectory lawn. That should generate a thirst worthy of a black revival beer.

I too am something of a Rudd sceptic. Although the notion that the entire platform would be junked after the election is nonsense, some of it will.

The first should be the massive tax cut programme. This needs serious revision. Any cursory glance at our ally over the Pacific pond will demonstrate why.

Two very knowledgeable gents in the recent fortnight have held forth on their view of the US economy and where it is headed. Both, in different words, have rightly targeted the incontinent state of the US balance of payments. I cannot remember either of their names but I do recall the words uttered at the end on one interview on 2BL. To paraphrase:

“It is an entirely unsustainable position (US debt) and one that works in two ways. The first is that major trading economies such as China, now hold record levels of ‘ownership’ in US bonds , the currency and the like. This is how the US finances its debt. If those economies realised that investment in any meaningful way, the dollar will crumble and inflation will spike. Secondly, no economy can sustain an 850 billion deficit which represents something in the order of 7% of its GDP and expect everything to continue in a rosy fashion. It won’t take much to trigger a reaction: the credit crunch has things very finely balanced and there will be a shakeout on Wall St in coming weeks/months. The prospects for a recession in the US in 2008 are now more certain than not.”

To borrow Harry’s word: Chilling.

For sceptics, a read through testimony to the US Congress should straighten matters out. It isn’t nice Christmas reading.

As this fellow said, the debt levels are somewhat alarming. More alarming, in his opinion, was the fact that the current US administration simply swanned along as if this is situation normal and of no concern. Added to that was the, so far, complete lack of attention given to it by the current Presidential candidates. In his view, the US political establishment was either asleep at the wheel or simply couldn’t bring themselves to consider such an alarming problem.

A goodly percentage of those tax cuts need to go to address other matters: infrastructure and so on.

Oh well, time to consider other things more pleasant. Josh has promised me a Christmas poem. Should he deliver I'll post it.

22/12/07 1:26 PM  
Anonymous Jacob said...

Speaking of doomsayers, Paul Ehrlich has recently been in town. He reckons global warming isn't the worst of our problems. Read or hear his talks on Radio National here and here.

A poem from Josh would be a good way to get into Christmas mode!

We've at last completed our shopping, preparations, etc., for Christmas. It's all over bar the eating, drinking, vegging ... oh, there's the little matter of having to put in an appearance at work on Monday ... but for us, no more stressing out in shoppingdromes for another year. Hallelujah!

Now we're actually looking forward to Christmas, and not just because it will soon be over.

22/12/07 8:05 PM  
Anonymous Kathy said...

A Christmas poem from Josh would be most welcome.

Yes, plenty of time for doom and gloom after Christmas, eh guys?

23/12/07 9:44 AM  
Anonymous Jacob said...

We shall hold the universe at bay as far as possible this season, Kath. Yep, plenty of time after that for taking the universe on again. Merry Christmas, mate, we're away for the day...

23/12/07 10:12 AM  

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