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

flicking the switch away from vaudeville « Previous | |Next »
October 18, 2009

In her Good policy wielded with a big stick op-ed in The Age Katharine Murphy makes a good point:

To borrow a famous Keatingism and adjust it for the times, in Canberra it is time to flick the switch away from vaudeville. It is time for hard policy decisions that will ultimately define the Government and its legacy.We have heard much rhetoric in recent months about the Government's ''productivity revolution''. Until very recently, your columnist had no idea what this might be, apart from spending on infrastructure (much of which state governments should be doing if they could run their finances properly) and some nascent policy work in the area of education.

Murphy goes on to talk about the productivity revolution in terms of the national broadband network (lower prices, better services, instant connectivity) and tax reform replacing Australia's inefficient system of road and petrol taxes with congestion charges.

What Murphy misses is the process of health reform under Rudd and Roxon, which is designed to increase productivity through healthy workers. Healthy workers are productive workers. Sick workers are unproductive.


Murphy's interpretation of the recent shift in health policy to primary care, lifestyle illness and preventative health is a libertarian one. She says:

The fat police are well intentioned and, no doubt, learned public health experts, who would like us to stop scoffing junk food and lolling on the couch.They would like to ban junk- food advertising because they would prefer it if kiddies ate carrot sticks and organic raisins, and went for brisk walks in the outdoors.The fat police would like it very much if we'd stop being fat .....Why is it - someone remind me please - that we want governments to do things?

Now there is some strange logic in this debate--eg. some argue that the state intervening to deliver health outcomes is ‘not political', whilst the state leaving individuals to make their own choices is ‘political'. However, the 'fat police' is misplaced since what is happening is that the mode of governance is shaping of the conduct of free subjects in the world of neo-liberal capitalism.

We have a bio-politics of the population that focuses on a series of interventions and regulatory controls of various aspects of human life such as birth, health, longevity, sex, and mortality coupled to modes of construction of neo-liberal subjects.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 4:07 AM | | Comments (2)


What Murphy implies is that Rudd Government ministers are keen to remove choice from the individual and instead create a society where ‘experts' determine how we live our lives. The experts use the 'fat police' to determine how we live our lives.,

yep, its Plato and the Guardians revisited and played off against a classic liberalism's sovereign individuals. In this article Tim Wilson of the IPA ties this to wowerism in Australia.