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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

a bit of a rant « Previous | |Next »
July 2, 2003

I had though the Institute of Public Affairs was a reasonable policy institute. Right wing for sure, but willing to argue its case in public. But this piece from Mike Nahan, its director, is bad. Its main argument is okay:

"PROFESSOR Allan Fels' legacy is that of a populist technocrat who promoted the popularity of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission at the cost of public support for market-based competition."

There is something to argue about. Now consider the language used in the next paragraph:

'His central flaw was to succumb to the lure of populism. He read the tea leaves of popular dissent and seldom let pass an opportunity to demonise big business, particularly those of a multinational nature in "political incorrect industries"'.

The whole article has phrases such as "instead of praising the workings of the market, he took cheap shots to pander to populist sentiment"; and "sought the political support of the so-called consumer movement".

Fels played politics as he saw the public demand for a competition tsar and interfered too often.This was bad because he should have pursued the task of assisting market-driven competition to the advantage of the consumer.

What can we make of this? We consumers should accept the benign workings of the competitive market, nor stir up dissent about the need for tough regulators to deal with the fallout of the market or uncompetitive behaviour. Our proposals as citizens amount to populist sentiment (prejudiced emotion) and should be dismissed as undemocratic. So we should allow, and accept, that the big corporations should rule our lives through the market whilst trusting the markets to do their thing.

That is politics in favour of keeping the lid on popular dissent and crushing the consumer movement and not public policy.

Gareth parker appears to be supportive of the man from the IPA.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 2:00 PM | | Comments (9)


How on earth could you draw that conclusion, Gary?

I did say 'appears'. It was hard to interpret I admit so I gave room to move.

I did so on the basis of 90% quote and 10% your words. Of that 10% about 5% was comment on the quote.

It said that economy was going okay. So? That meant the Fels hadn't strangled the economy with his regulatory zeal.

But no comment on the anti-democratic politics I dug out.

So it appeared that you were tacitly sympathetic and supportive of the politics.

That was how it was down.

Gareth P has much yet to learn in life

Niall, you're a goose.

Gary, I was in fact opposing Nahan's comments. My commentary followed this paragraph:

Indeed, I cannot recall a single occasion during his whole reign when Fels openly defended the markets. And this, at a time when markets all across the globe were driving margins to record lows, generating low-inflation economies and pushing prosperity to unprecedented growth levels

Nahan states his belief that the pursuit of free market policies (ie. contrary to what Fels had done in Australia) had driven economic growth worldwide.

YET, as I commented, Australia (which HAS been subject to Fels' intervention)has the best economic record in the world at the moment. Hence: why believe Nahan?

I would have thought this was fairly obvious, but apologies for not expressing myself more clearly.


I accept your critical bit about the markets and regulation and that it represents a criticism of Nahan.

But democracy is different to the free market and economic growth.

But my point still stands. You tacitly accept the anti-democratic politics buried in Nahan's text.

Or are you saying that we should also not believe Nahan re his anti-democracy stance because he is wrong on markets?

How dare you call Niall a goose! The RSPCA will hear of this.

Good grief you write some long-winded crap sometimes Gary. Why do I have to defend myself against positions I never even stated, on topics I never raised?

you implied that I was misinterpreting your post.

I'm just sorting out on what issue --markets or democracy--- that I was doing so.

" she urges early on