Catallaxy Files

polymathic pontification, bleeding heart economic rationalism and liberal secularist contrarianism

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  • Jason Soon
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    Wednesday, June 11, 2003
    Left wingers should not be deceived by appearances

    "Little Johhny" Howard has earned the contempt of enlightened opinion for his alleged attachment to nasty right wing policies. Steve Kirschner quotes Alan Kohler's theory that Howard's electoral success is, in part, due to the fact that he strikes capitalistic poses to appeal to people who are annoyed with socialists, but employs socialist means to win the wavering voters. Kohler describes the cunning ploy:
    John Howard has found the secret to political longevity: talk right, act left, at least economically. Appear conservative, take on the unions...while at the same time increasing taxes on those whose votes don't change (the rich and the poor) and giving the money to those whose votes do change the middle classes.

    Max Walsh makes the same point: Howard's government is the highest taxing in Australia's history, making even a pinko like Gough look rather Ayn Randy:
    If we look specifically at the Commonwealth, then its tax collections this year (including the GST) will reach 25.7% of GDP. The Hawke government's biggest tax grab occurred in 1986-87 when it went into its anti-Banana Republic strategy. That amounted to 24.4% of GDP. As for the profligate Gough Whitlam. Well, in 1974-75 he managed to lift taxation collection to 21.1% of GDP.

    Agreed that Howard stamped his little capitalistic feet and pulled scary right wing faces at Economic Lefties when he:
    But compared to some of the right-wing things Labor did that is pretty tame stuff.

    Commentators have somehow ignored all the socialistic policies that Howard has shoved down the throats of his foaming-at-the-mouth right wing followers. In reality his statist regime has:

    And then there is the myth that Howard's xenophobic cultural policy has "turned Australia's back on Asia". Since coming to office Howard's government has played a progressive-interventionist role in troubled parts of Southern Asian by beefing up the (socialist) Australian Defence Force and using it to shirt front any bad people, thus we have:
    Asian trade and labour have followed his vigorous showing of the flag, as Howard has:
    How is that "turning our back on Asia"?
    In fact, it is pundits, partisans and politicians that have turned their back on Howard's way. Presenting him with their temptingly bootable rumps.

    Further to the C-File prediction that Howard will win in 2004,
    News Weekly, the old Santamaria rag, chimes in with a story suggesting that Howard will romp home in the election, so long as the property boom in the mortgage belt does not collapse:
    whatever Crean (or Beazley) - or whoever else is leading the Labor Party - attempts to do will matter not at all while Australians are comfortable and relaxed with their homes gaining wealth.

    New Labor has ridden the same property boom to success in England, and the the Republicans may actually benefit more from the "home owner" rather than "investor" politics.

    Straight talking on genes and IQ
    Have been rather busy at work this week, so apologies for lack of posting. For a good introduction to the IQ and genetics debate by someone who works in the field and is familiar with the literature read Godless Capitalist's exposition here.

    Monday, June 09, 2003
    The pundit's hopes are misplaced and the pollster's numbers are fuzzy, trust C-Files - we get results

    Regular C-File browsers will know that C-Files gets results on foreign policy.*
    C-Files is now prepared to stick it's neck out and venture a domestic political prediction: Howard will win the next Federal election. Professional pundits, such as Roy "Cassandra" Cassin and Professor John "Glad to be Wrong" Quiggin may pin their fondest hopes to the Crean-donkey's tail but they are destined to be disappointed.
    Until now, C-Files has been puzzled by conflicting signals over Howard's political prospects. OTOneH, standard political theory predicts that a government with a good prosperity record should win elections, and Howard still owns the hot security agenda. OTOtherH, this Morgan poll appear to show the ALP, if not the Labor leaders, have a significant electoral advantage.
    My bafflement over the political theory/poll evidence puzzle is over. C-Files research shows that Morgan polls have, on occasion, not been reliable. This Morgan poll, released on November 7, 2001, predicted that the ALP would win the 2001 federal election. At the time, this proto-C-Filer ignored the unctuous Morgan and correctly predicted a Howard victory, as he felt that the voters security concerns were a decisive factor.
    Now this leaked ALP document gives a more reliable picture of the voters intentions. It shows that, under the current leadership, the ALP is facing
    an electoral drubbing in NSW...The ALP polling leaked last night showed a drop in the ALP's primary vote of between 6 and 18 per cent across the 17 seats surveyed. Of these, 14 were held by Labor.

    That makes more sense to me. Unless Howard does something silly or the economy takes a nose dive, both unlikely prospects IMnot-soHO, Howard will be sitting in the Lodge this time next year. Voters do not have sufficient reason to give "Little Johhny" the boot. The only thing that the ALP leadership tussle will settle is how much the ALP will lose by.

    *Gloat Alert**: C-Fies predicted most of the controversial aspects(occurrence, timing, outcome-ease) of the Gulf War and the non-existence of Iraqi WMDs.
    **Hubris Alert: C-Files is on a roll at the moment, but he recalls that over-weening pride comes before a fall. Still, I will get it while I can, because in the end "we all got it coming".
    Gongs galore
    Barely giving Greg Lindsay time to collect his Centenary Medal, the powers-that-be have now given him an AO. He is modestly saying that it also recognises all the other people who have contributed to the CIS. While technically true, as many others have helped make the CIS a success, Greg has been central to it all. He took a big risk in setting the place up, and his enthusiasm and cajoling abilities have kept it going. It is a well-deserved honour (and can I have that pay rise now?:))

    Sunday, June 08, 2003
    De Long on Clinton II
    If you want some informed criticism from an insider on why Hillary Clinton, notwithstanding her intellectual skills, won't make a good president, don't read Miranda Devine's predictable and irrelevant personal tirade (what did she expect Hilary to do during the Lewinsky affair, run over Bill with a car?) Instead read Brad De Long who is no raving right winger:
    My two cents' worth--and I think it is the two cents' worth of everybody who worked for the Clinton Administration health care reform effort of 1993-1994--is that Hillary Rodham Clinton needs to be kept very far away from the White House for the rest of her life. She had neither the grasp of policy substance, the managerial skills, nor the political smarts to do the job she was then given. And she wasn't smart enough to realize that she was in over her head and had to get out of the Health Care Czar role quickly.

    So when senior members of the economic team said that key senators like Daniel Patrick Moynihan would have this-and-that objection, she told them they were disloyal. When junior members of the economic team told her that the Congressional Budget Office would say such-and-such, she told them that her conversations with CBO head Robert Reischauer had already fixed that. When long-time senior hill staffers told her that she was making a dreadful mistake by fighting with rather than reaching out to John Breaux and Jim Cooper, she told them that they did not understand the wave of popular political support the bill would generate. And when substantive objections were raised to the plan by analysts calculating the moral hazard and adverse selection pressures it would put on the nation's health-care system...




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