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

its red tape not free markets « Previous | |Next »
December 17, 2003

The Howard Government is supposed to stand on the libertarian ground of free men free markets. Their rhetoric says they embrace these ascendent ideas of American free enterprise that says rationality wins out and progress happens.

That economic rationalist sign points to the road of deregulation, introducing market principles and price signals. It is a pathway where public institutions become private institutions run as business corporations, becoming entrepreneurial, more private investment in universities, enormous executive salaries for the CEO (Vice-Chancellor), a cost squeeze on academic labor, and efficiency gains from competition. That sort of stuff is what free men free market is about.

That ethos was not evident with Nelson educaitonal reforms just passed. That indicated micro-control by the federal bureaucracy rather than easing off the heavy handed statism and regulation and allowing the market to exert its discipline through its invisible hand. The univerisities are still public institutions that are run by the Minister of Education with a dislike for surfing studies. He dismisses these and similar courses, as cappuccino courses.

It is the market that given rise to a demand for cappucino courses. Aren't the coastal universities showing themselves to be competitive and entrepreneurial in introducing surfing studing studies? Isn't surfing studies a product of the market competition the Howard Government seeks to foster?

So I cannot see much in the way of commitment to the ethos of free men free markets by the Howard Government. What a disappointment it must be for the free marketeers. They must be starting to feel embarrased by now.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:23 AM | | Comments (14)
Comments

Comments

No, not embarrased. But we knew Howard was never a real 'free market' man anyhow. Hewson was the 'free market' man.

I don't know why you are complaining, except for the fact that the government pillage isn't being spent as much on the things you care about. But the Howard government certainly hasn't done much to break the mould of what remains an overwhelmingly social-democrat/rent seeking society.

Its not a complaint.

I'm pointing out the contradiction in the position of those say that are free marketeers (market liberals)in one breath, then in the next, say the state needs to prevent surfing studies even though such courses are a response to market demand.

If they were really in demand, people would pay for them.

There's never a lack of demand for free lunches.

They are paying for them now and have done so for most the nineties, thanks to the Hawke/Keating ALP.

All that has happened is that universities can increase the price of the courses by an extra 30per cent if they reckon they market will pay the price.

My point in the post stands.

There is a contradiction between the free market of neo-liberalism market and the statism of conservatism.

Interesting how it is evaded rather than addressed.

Not at all. There's a conflict, though, between the autonomy of the universities, and the right of taxpayers to not have their money spent on things that they don't want them spent on.

I doubt you will change my views on this, any more then you will change mine.

The contradiction stands in spite of the evasion.

If the state wants the universities to do X for the sake of the national interest(international competitiveness, wealth of the nation etc etc ) then the state pays.

Since you dump citizens in favour of consumers, it is not up to comumers to pay for what the state wants. Comsumers are only concerned with their satisying their own desires and to hell with everything else.

The reduction of everything to the free market (there is no civil society in your account) leads you to deny the way the state shapes education for its own interests.

"If the state wants the universities to do X for the sake of the national interest(international competitiveness, wealth of the nation etc etc ) then the state pays.

Since you dump citizens in favour of consumers, it is not up to comumers to pay for what the state wants. Comsumers are only concerned with their satisying their own desires and to hell with everything else."

This is actually my point. The state does not want Surfing graduates, and so the state, acting through the minister, directs the Universities to charge full price to those that wish to do them.

There is a conflict between the neo-liberal ideal here, since there really shouldn't be any role for government in higher education. Since people demand it, though, and you force governments into doing these things that they aren't designed to do, you are bound to get conflicts.

'There is a conflict between the neo-liberal ideal here, since there really shouldn't be any role for government in higher education. Since people demand it, though, and you force governments into doing these things that they aren't designed to do, you are bound to get conflicts.'

I get Gary's point here.
But I lost you on this last para Scott. If people demand it fine. Whose 'forcing' government to intervene?

And what are governments designed to do these days? ;-)

Scott,
"The state does not want surfing graduates."

Oh yeah. Who's fooling who here?

So the state is not concerned with surfing as a billion dollar industry that provides coastal employment around Torquay.It is not comcerned with healthy coastal communities? It is not concerned with tourism around Torquay and Bells Beach? It is not concerned with innovation and entrepreneurship?

Me thinks that you have been taken for a ride by the Minister. What Nelson is doing is emotionally appealing to conservative prejudices about surfing and the humanities as a cover to justify the Ministers increased powers to prevent such courses.It is not just about prices for courses.

As for the libertarian ideal of mn non interference--its pie in the skiy every state in the west since 1806 intervenes into education because it sees the significace of education for national wellbeing and security.

Neo-libealism recognizes this, hence its concern to reform education for the sake of the national interest. Neo-liberalism is not libertarianism.

That's a good question Saint. You might like to ask yourself how it is that a country like Australia that spends something like $66 billion on health care can let a baby die in it's hosptial and do nothing. Might it occur to you that something is not right here?

I think, Gary, it is you that is trying to take people for a ride, not the Minister.

Well, thanks, but no thanks. I'd much rather trust even a lying conservative minister then the vested interests in the education sector.

Scott
consumers become vested interests now.

You just keep shifting your ground.

You now dump the market for state control of courses.

You seem to have forgotten that I support surfing studies.

I certainly hadn't forgotten it. You aren't actually interested in what I believe, which is that I prefer a market driven education system, without taxpayer involvement. Alas, we can't have that as the voters would scream. Given that taxpayers have to pay for these courses, the Minister has every right to proscribe what courses he is willing to pay for. And I agree with that.

Your surfie mates, of course, are perfectly entitled to do their surfing degrees. They just have to pay for them.

This of course was my position when we first talked about this, on 'Junk for Code' and it remains my position now.

Here, you are arguing that the 'market' is demanding surfing degrees. But what market are you talking about? Students? Well, there was a 'market' for degrees in 'media studies' from students, but there wasn't much of a market from employers, was there? So the state derives little benefit at all from paying for these courses. And it takes the view that if people want to do them, then they will be willing to pay for them.

Brendon Nelson never objected to that, did he?

Scott,
I'm not taking you seriously because you just repeat the free market catechism,and ignore the 200 years of the state's involvement in education to further the national interest.

Because that history does not fit with your free market dogma you simply ignore it. You pretend it does not exist.

The current example is the state reshaping education to ensure an innovative and competitive Australia through the commercialisation of research to increase the wealth of the nation.

The state is up to its neck in education.It pours billions in to ensure the national interest is met.

But no--we should ignore this because it is not about the free market.

Whn I point out that surfing is billion dollar innovative industry you ignore this. Surfing is an example of an innovative Australia. You ignore that.

It is entirely appropriate that the market wants courses that relate to surfing. Yet the minister says no.Hence the contradiction.

You mock what the market wants and agree with the minister's power over the market.

Fine but dont say that you are defending the market. You are defending the state's power over the market.

What is increasingly becoming obvious in your comments is your hostility to the humanities reponding to the market ---eg., media studies(for the new media industries) and surfing studies.

It is you fighting the culture wars not me.

I'm defending the market here ----something else you conveniently ignore.

Scott, thanks for your answer. The hospital case you cited is a tragedy (and perhaps one day I will tell you about tragedies in my own extended family courtesy of private hospitals/health care) but I thought we were talking education here.

In any case, you say: "I prefer a market driven education system, without taxpayer involvement. Alas, we can't have that as the voters would scream. Given that taxpayers have to pay for these courses, the Minister has every right to proscribe what courses he is willing to pay for. And I agree with that."

If you also take this line for health care, then you will have to also support the right for government to proscribe how to spend the health dollar and accept the tragedies that go with it.

In which case why accept the right to intervene in education and not in health?

OK I'm not that smart but I get Gary's point on the contradiction. I have still lost you here.