Monday, February 02, 2009

Those crazy Yanks

This week will obviously create lots of opportunity for endless discussion on capitalism, social democracy, market fundamentalism and all given that St Kevin is going to save capitalism.

There are a couple of books I've read recently that I think are essential reading for anyone trying to make sense of events of the last three decades. I will write more about each over coming weeks. hey are Supercapitalism by Robert Reich, and The Wrecking Crew by Thomas Frank.

It is the latter book that fully details the process of dismantling the institutions of Government by the US conservatives. This is far more extreme than anything occurring in Australia. As an example the conservatives hired people in to run institutions inimical to the interests of the institution.

The case of Nancy Nord of the Consumer Product Safety Commission is one example. Three articles from the Washington Post describe her rule. The first reviews her testimony before a House committee following the Chinese lead paint scandal, and her approach which seemed to be that the market would take care of product standards.

She was then called on to resign following her opposition to legislation that followed the lead case. It noted that "[m]any of Nord's arguments were echoed yesterday by a coalition of business groups." This was standard form for a conservative regulator.

This was followed by the unsurprising revelation that she and others in the regulator had had "business trips" paid forby the firms she regulated.

Australia has seen nothing of this ilk. While Howard Government was perceived to be trying to achieve these kinds of outcomes with some appointments, such as onald McDonald as chair of the ABC or Grame Samuel as chair of the ACCC, all their appointees ultimately still pursued the statutory requirements of their organisations.

While we might think that the collapse in the USA might make everyone retink the conservative agenda, it is not that simple. Take the "musings" of Tim Andrews, a self described "Australian classical liberal living in Washingtom D.C."

This is the fundamental cancer that is infesting the conservative movement: the willingness to play to media elites through ‘bipartisanship’ and ‘compromise’. Odiously selling out your beliefs and politically prostituting yourself to climb the greasy poll to success. It is morally repugnant. But, not only that, it does not work. Howard was Australia’s second-longest serving Prime Minister. He gained this honor for a reason. For conviction. For standing up for the values of what is right.

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