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January 11, 2008

There has been some conjecture on these pages as to what the Rudd Government might actually achieve over the next three years.There is an essay on ABC on Line by John Langmore, a former Labor MP who has spent time at the UN and recently taken up a Professorial Fellowship at Melbourne University.The essay is based on his recent book "To Firmer Ground: Restoring Hope in Australia".

He outlines 11 proposals that he considers need urgent government attention.I suspect most are covered by the government's agenda. They cover, Climate Change, Education, Employment, the Work Place, Health, Housing, Justice for Indigenous Australians, Reinvigorated Multiculturalism, Investing in The Future, Global Security and Justice and Enhancing Democracy. I think his views are well worth digesting and debating.

Of interest are the Comments. While Liberal MPs appear to have reversed their views on many issues over the last few weeks, it seems as though many in the community are well and truly rust welded onto the Howard mantra. I wonder what that means for the Liberals in the immediate future.

| Posted by Len at 3:25 PM | | Comments (6)


What's Langmore's argument in the book?

Is it that the economy should be the servant of society, rather than the reverse, and economic policy a means to human well-being rather than an end in itself?

Sorry, we have to buy or borrow Langmore's book to find the answer to your question. Would be nice to think it is yes but there is no indication of that in the essay,although perhaps the NSW Press blurb does give an indication.
There is a paragraph that suggest one way forward.
"Government powers and capacities are tightly limited. Most steps towards a more secure. just and vibrant society have to be taken by enterprises, organisations, and individuals."
His last paragraph reinforces the thought.
You, I am sure,will have noticed the Government statement freeing NGOs from the retrictions of the Howard years. The Government is clearly looking for input irrespective of whether or not it agrees with their current views. They want to know peoples' views about the way ahead.I know that my local member is busy establishing new networks and refurbishing the old.

I have found another earlier reference to Langmore on the ABC site which goes to your question. It is at It's not the economy stupid .
As I see see it the economy should serve the people not the other way about.

thanks. I've looked at Langmore's It's not the economy stupid piece. He argues thus:

There is growing recognition that economic activity is a means to the end of human wellbeing rather than an end in itself. The economy should be the servant of society, rather than society the servant of the economy.

You concur. So does Treasury--Ken Henry says that the ends of economic policy are to enable the wellbeing of the population.

Langmore argues that:

One reason there has been this over-emphasis on economic policy has been the power of the economic ideology, which is sometimes called economic rationalism but more accurately described as economic liberalism.In its most extreme form under Howard this often became market fundamentalism - the doctrine that all economic action will be more efficient if addressed through a market. The economic liberal fog has obscured voters' preferences. Liberal economists have been so preoccupied with maximising individual income that other aspects of human wellbeing have been excluded. Many economists have been so obsessed with efficiency that harmony, social justice and environmental responsibility have been neglected.The quality of both personal and public life has been undermined by preoccupation with individual income and material accumulation.

Langmore clearly hasn't been reading Treasury's Economic Roundup in the last 3 years

I started an economics degree years ago but had to go back to revising physics postgrad work and never returned. You and you colleagues may get me there yet. You leed me back to Sen's work a few days back so I comprehend, but not necessarily understand, Henry's references. Thanks.

Langmore could start by actually addressing his criticisms at what is being said by Treasury and Productivity Commission. He says that a renewed commitment to justice for Indigenous Australians is essential. Granted. Then he says that it should be:

expressed through concerted progress towards reconciliation. One necessary condition is ensuring that Indigenous people enjoy the same access as other Australians to education, health, water, waste disposal and roads and support for young children, older people and people with disabilities. A second condition is to rapidly expand employment opportunities. A third is to create new opportunities for national political representation by Indigenous peoples. One possible option is establishment of seats in the House of Representatives for election by Indigenous people

Why doesn't he address the work of Noel Pearson? That is where the debate is.