Simon Crean. Drunk on Chilean wine.

28 05 2008

Former Labor leader and Australia’s current Trade Minister Simon Crean had a bit too much cheap Chilean wine with his lunch. Crean is using his ministerial website to attack John Howard’s FTA with US but ends up making himself look like a tit in the process.

Lattenomics is in favour of free trade and welcomes the FTA with Chile unreservedly. Exactly the same way we greeted the FTA with United States. If we could change the world we would remove all trade barriers between all countries so no FTA’s would be needed. But in the imperfect world we live in, FTA’s are a step in the right direction.

So what’s the problem with Crean? Firstly, the FTA with Chile was Howard’s government brainchild. Crean simply finalised it. While we should give him credit where credit is due, it is disingenuous to go out bragging Crean-style for something that is clearly a joint achievement of Howard and Rudd governments.

Secondly, Crean uses FTA with Chile to launch a bizzare attack on John Howard’s FTA deal with USA:

“Unlike the previous government, we are not selling out Australian agriculture to pursue an FTA at any cost,” said Mr Crean. “The last government was prepared to exclude sugar from the Australia-US FTA and to agree to 18-year phase-ins for access improvements in beef and dairy.”

Well Simon, FTA’s are not signed for the benefit of one industry. Nor does the ALP party exist for the benefit of one industry. If that’s the way Simon wants to operate, he cloud start the Australian Agriculture Party and see how many people vote for him. FTA’s are signed to the benefit of the entire country. Yes, there will be winners and losers but on the balance it needs to be beneficial. For example, an FTA that is good for 90% of the economy is clearly a good thing. Going by Crean’s logic though, such FTA should be rejected because it is bad for 10% of the economy, and that’s absolute nonsense.

There is also a question of scale. USA is no Chile. US is the world’s larges and most advanced economy with GDP pre capita of $46,000 and combined GDP of over $13 trillion (on 2007 figures). Chile by comparison has per capita GDP of $14,400 and combined GDP of $160 billion. No disrespect for Chile, but they are not in the same league.

Creans’ bizarre anti-Howard rant seems to suggest that the ultimate prize of FTA with the world’s largest economy giving Australian producers access the world’s largest market was not worth some sacrifices at negotiating table. He than uses his great success with Chile as an example of how things should be done. Watch and learn, Mr. Howard! Does he think we are stupid?

Crean’s rant makes him look desperate. He attacks a star agent John Howard for signing up Brad Pitt with sweeteners and freebies, while big noting himself for signing up some B grade celebrity on favourable conditions. It is not the same Simon! Most footy punters recognise that negotiating with Christ Judd is a different ball game to signing up the Alberton Football League reserves players. Most voters, even Labor ones, are smart enough to know that negotiating with USA is very different to bargaining with Chile. Claims to the contrary make Simon Crean look like a fool.

Little wonder Crean didn’t have what it takes to be a PM.


The downfall of centre-left

28 05 2008

Europe’s centre-left is in disarray culminating in disastrous performance of the British Labour Party. Various explanations have been offered but in my opinion Benny Peiser gets closest to the truth. It’s about being green, stupid!

Many analysts of Labour’s disintegration attribute the collapse of support to the current economic downturn, a perfect storm of global credit crunch combined with falling house and rising oil prices. In reality, the defeats Labour has suffered in recent elections mirror the deepening crisis now affecting almost every social democratic party in Europe. New Labour’s pledge to evade the burden of high taxation has been broken.

Labour’s foolhardy [environmental] policies are shaped by the conviction that, in the words of Miliband, tackling climate change is “the mass mobilizing movement of our age.” The principles of fairness and equality used to stand at the heart of centre-left governments. Protecting the interests of poor and disadvantaged members of society was essential to the popular appeal of left and labour parties. Those parties have substituted these ideals with an environmental program in which saving the planet for the generations of the future has taken priority over the principle of liberating the underprivileged and disadvantaged from poverty and restitution today.

Instead of addressing the issues of working-class voters European centre-left parties embraced the fashionable crusades of the green elites. They’ve became so seduced by the grand environmental rhetoric that they started governing on the basis of computer-generated scenarios of the future while ignoring the world unfolding around them. It is clear that voters are not buying it. This will also happen in Australia once the costs of Rudd’s environmental indulgences become clear to the public.

I will add, that on top of the green woes, the contradictions of multiculturalism are coming home to roost. As in the case of environmental policies, when it comes to multiculturalism, European centre-left parties  have became the slaves to ideology while brushing aside the real concerns that many voters have about where the multiculturalism and mass-scale immigration are taking them.

The history teaches us that utopian ideas like environmentalism and multiculturalism rarely live up to their grand narrative. In fact they mostly end in misery in tears. Benny’s conclusion is spot on:

Britain’s Labour government may believe that its climate policies are saving the planet. But in the process they are destroying the foundations of the party.

More globalisation please!

27 05 2008

More globalisation please!

There are those who worry that globalisation as a process is making the world more unequal: they might even be right, in that those places which are not taking part are falling even further behind, but to claim that as a negative would be odd. Somewhat like saying that no one should exercise as those who do not do not benefit as those who do.

Business as usual

27 05 2008

Lubos Motl spells out why governments aren’t really going to do much about the global warming in short term but will instead stick with business as usual scenario (while making all the politically-correct noises of course):

Archer also attacks Dyson for daring to consider the business-as-usual at all. Well, there is one thing I am pretty certain about: the business-as-usual is going to continue at least for a few more decades. A few countries may be affected by weird policies but the whole world won’t notice. For example, the global CO2 emissions will only begin to drop once a new viable technology is found. Dreaming about something else means dreaming about the control over the whole world. The last man who was doing something like that was Adolf Hitler and even this guy didn’t succeed.

I assure Mr Archer and similar fanatics that people like me have learned some lessons from the failed assassination of the Führer and we are unlikely to repeat the same mistakes again.

Shallow Tim

27 05 2008

The Australian eco-monger of the year is at it again:

Environmentalist and author Tim Flannery has warned Australian coal companies they will face penalties unless they develop green technology over the next two to three years.

The 2007 Australian of the Year yesterday took aim at coal companies for “failing to comprehend” that they risked paying carbon taxes after 2010 unless they changed their ways.

Tim obviously doesn’t understand how the real world works. Coal companies don’t burn coal for their private entertainment. They burn it for us. It is us that demand electricity for our homes and offices, it is us that want to buy consumer goods made in the furnaces powered by Australian coal. The coal companies are not going to pay for Tim’s pie in the sky ideas themselves, they will pass the costs onto us. All of us are going to pay, Tim. The poor and disadvantaged who have the least disposable income will pay the most.

Earlier at the conference, Professor Flannery warned the coal industry to act swiftly, otherwise the world would face irreversible damage in 10 years.

Of course! It’s always just 10 years away…

In a spirited attack on complacency among leading coal miners, Professor Flannery said: “The coal industry never ceases to amaze me”.

What never ceases to amaze me, is how a shallow thinker like Flannery who cannot even comprehend who will be most affected by the very policies he advocates, can be revered as one of Australia’s best and brightest.

Vanity funding

23 05 2008

Federal Science and Industry Minister Kim Carr is excited! He says he “couldn’t be happier” with the boost universities got in the budget. He is also very excited about the new alliance between UniSA and ANU, which according to Carr is “exactly the sort of initiative that would aid national innovation”.

There is a very well substantiated argument that government funding doesn’t really contribute to innovation and in many cases hamper it. It stands to reason that if centralised economic planing cannot produce better economic outcomes, than centralised scientific planning cannot deliver better scientific outcomes either.

As far as more funding for universities is concerned, we have already established that public funding of universities is not desirable. Such funding is highly unfair for low income taxpayers whose own kids rarely see inside the university. In addition we found that the argument that public university funding raises nation’s productivity is based on bad economics.

To top it all off, plenty of taxpayers’ money doesn’t go towards better education for their children but gets wasted on various vanity projects such as useless feminism/diversity/gender/post-modernism etc. studies, that are nothing more than elaborate work for the dole programs for those who can’t be bothered getting a job but want to have a cool PhD title on their business cards. All paid by Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer.

Senator Carr, who is very exited about government pouring more dosh into academics’ food trough, gave special mention to the partnership between UniSA and ANU that is promising to bring us the new and exciting program called Bachelor of Medical Science (Population Health). Wow! I think we already have medicine degrees and medical science degrees in this country, why do we need the Population Health degree? I can’t tell for sure but I suspect it will be just the sort of vanity project mentioned above. The overtly paternalistic name suggest Population Health will be about fashionable public health crusades like “obesity epidemic” and banning junk food advertising. This will gel very nicely with Labor’s latest desire to micromanage the sort of shite us plebs put in our mouths. Now we can all look forward to that!

Another contender for the Gippsland by-election

23 05 2008

Latrobe Valley Express reports:

GIPPSLAND identity Ben Buckley has again thrown his hat into the political ring but under a new guise.

Mr Buckley (pictured) who lives at Benambra in East Gippsland and has stood in several elections as an independent, will represent the Liberty and Democracy Party (LDP) in the Gippsland by-election.

Mr Buckley said the LDP stood for lower taxes, a smaller government and individual freedom.

“Australians pay far too much tax and both Coalition and Labor Governments try to bribe us with our own money,” Mr Buckley said.

“On average people are paying 30 per cent more tax than 10 years ago, even after adjusting for inflation.

“Neither the Liberals, Nationals nor Labor have any real commitment to restructure our taxation system to correct this.”

Mr Buckley said the LDP’s tax policy included a tax-free threshold of $30,000 and a flat 30 per cent tax rate above this.

He said the party was also committed to reducing or removing land taxes and council rates.

Mr Buckley said governments were transforming Australia into a place where life was “controlled”.

“The LDP stands for reduced government intrusion in the lives of ordinary people. That includes things like voluntary voting, assisted suicide and removing the petty rules and penalties that torment businesses,” he said.

“It would restore to property owners the right to permit smoking on their property and to cut down their own trees.

“Even when the choices that individuals make are unwise and could harm them, so long as nobody else is forced to suffer harm, it’s your choice, not the government’s,” Mr Buckley said.

As a dyed in a wool free market libertarian I applaud Buckley’s decision to run. It is time the voters were given some alternatives to the big government paternalism of Australian centre-right and centre-left political parties.

Ask any voter about the issues that concern them. The answers are likely to be health, education and employment. Most of these areas have been controlled by the governments for a very long time. Health and education in particular are the two areas of spectacular government failure. Yet we are supposed to believe comrades Rudd and Gillard that more of the same will somehow fix it. Should we really be so stupid to think that if we only pour some more money down the bottomless pit of government bureaucracy our schools and hospital will be fixed? Is there anything in our past experience of repeated government failure that should make us hopeful?

We cannot afford to waste any more taxpayers’ money on propping up inefficient health and education bureaucracies. Right now we need less government intervention not more. We need more freedom for parents, not bureaucrats to decide how to provide for their children’s education and for the patients, not health ministers to choose what treatment suits them the best. Lattenomics wishes Ben Buckley all the best!