Archive for October, 2011

Milton Friedman’s Magical Thinking

by Dani Rodrik

Next year will mark the 100th anniversary of Milton Friedman’s birth. Friedman was one of the twentieth century’s leading economists, a Nobel Prize winner who made notable contributions to monetary policy and consumption theory. But he will be remembered primarily as the visionary who provided the intellectual firepower for free-market enthusiasts during the second half of the century, and as the éminence grise behind the dramatic shift in the economic policies that took place after 1980.

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What’s the NSW Labor Opposition been up to over the past fortnight?

NSW Labor has begun taking the fight to the O’Farrell Government.  This week’s actions include:

  • The Opposition introduced legislation to force the Government to put any proposal for electricity privatisation to the Parliament.
  • Shadow Minister for Regional Infrastructure & Services, Mick Veitch exposed the Regional Relocation Grant scheme as a big flop.
  • Shadow Treasurer, Michael Daley said that Barry O’Farrell’s proposal to hike the GST from its current rate of 10 percent shows breathtaking disregard for families.
  • Shadow Education Minister, Carmel Tebbutt said that the O’Farrell Government has failed to guarantee academics and students a stronger voice on university boards.
  • Shadow Environment Minister, Luke Foley, said the Opposition would not support the O’Farrell Government’s legislation to delay national park declarations at the Yathong and Wilbertroy State Forests.
  • Shadow Minister for Families and Community Services, Barbara Perry, exposed the move to cut allowances for foster parents who adopt a child in their care.
  • The Opposition supported legislation to make sure NSW families know eggs they are buying are accurately labelled as free range, barn, organic or caged eggs.

 Meanwhile, the Government continues its attacks on workers in this state:

  • By closing the Cronulla Fisheries Centre and slashing 147 jobs,
  • As well as their surprise attack on the wages and conditions of 10,000 TAFE teachers - by introducing new laws to remove them from the State Industrial Relations system.

 And the Government keeps on breaking their own election promises, including:

  • Deliberately misleading the public over its electricity dividend broken promise,
  • Failing to protect Central Coast waterways – with the Government admitting it will reconsider a proposal to revive the Wallarah 2 coalmine plan, and
  • Delaying the connection of 820 south west Sydney households to the sewerage network.

Labor’s Future: Two Weekend Forums

by Bob Carr


At the weekend, I spoke to two gatherings for ALP members focused on re-building the party.

On Saturday I flew into Bathurst to speak to a group of about 30 ALP members engaged in a party review. I reminded them of the importance of Bathurst in Labor’s election victory of 1995. I used it as an example of how Labor can win on both bread and butter issues and a nature conservation or ‘green’ agenda. All it takes is nimble party leadership, I said.

“We won Bathurst against the Greiner agenda in 1991. We held it in 1995 because of a flow of preferences from a Green Party candidate based on our commitment to saving the South East forests. Think about that as a confirmation that the right ALP leadership can straddle the divide between green-inclined voters and a traditional base, between a nature conservation agenda and an agenda of economic growth.”

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Why we need nationalised Banks

by George Irvin 

As things stand, the banks are the permanent government of the country, whichever party is in power.” (Lord Skidelsky, House of Lords, Hansard Citation, 31 March 2011, c1359)

Everybody agrees that the next financial crisis is about to hit us …. bringing another economic crisis in its wake. The general view is that if we were able to prevent meltdown in 2008 by throwing money at the banks, this time the money will be more difficult to find. Unlike the last time, the OECD economies are stagnating, unemployment is high and there’s already much public anger about cuts, joblessness and bankers’ bonuses. [1]

Perhaps we should remember that in 2009, neo-liberalism was pronounced dead and buried. It was thought that a new, more thoughtful era was being born. It most certainly didn’t happen. Instead, European countries became more narrowly nationalistic and xenophobic, while the US gave the world the Tea Party. So there is good reason to believe that, as in the 1930s, economic crisis may strengthen the right more than the left. That’s one reason that progressives need to sloganise less (eg, it’s all due to greedy bankers) and think more about underlying causes.

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Preventing a Syrian Civil War

by Salman Shaikh

Last week, Russia and China vetoed a United Nations Security Council draft resolution on Syria, dealing a blow to the stability of the country and its neighbors. The double veto could even lead to civil war.

The inability of the Security Council to act has created a dangerous political vacuum, sending a clear message to President Bashar al-Assad that he can continue to kill with impunity and signaling to Syrian protesters that they are on their own.

While Russia and China have emphasized dialogue over confrontation and are proposing a more “balanced” resolution, the reality is that the Syrian street has been explicitly calling for the fall of the Assad regime for months.

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