Weekend reflections

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whyisitso
whyisitso
15 years ago

My lefty friends (I actually know very few right-wingers – maybe righties are too ashamed to admit it so they don’t tall politics) are fond of saying “we no longer have a society, only an economy”

Richard Phillipps
Richard Phillipps
15 years ago

quick response to this, which is a great question.

If they mean that the prevailing worldview in Australia is that moral or ethical or otherwise value laden criteria are less important than economic criteria, they must be right, and this is different than, say, in 1970.

If they say that economic reasoning is often very useful, and can give surprising insights (say the argument in the Freakernomics book about the death penalty) then they are also right.

Having said that, when the most explicitly held ideology in the world at the moment (Islam) expressly says that the views of the deity and moral rules are more important than economics, then they havent thought carefully enough.

For my part, I find myself more and more satisfied that attempts to regulate markets are not effective, that competition is a good thing, and that even attempts to provde income support may have serious negative outcomes. This is coming from someone with a left wing, regulatory-friendly background.

Finally, the economic arguments must always always be subject to some sort of moral override. There are strong arguments in favour of the death penalty, there are strong arguments in favour of forensic torture, there are probably strong arguments in favour of an abolition of the right to silence. But if we accept them, then we have a very different environment to the one we are comfortable in.

This is turning into a long response. Because economics does not provide moral guidelines (which is where Marx was badly wrong, inter alia) we must recognise that when we get the economic info, we still have to make a choice. It may be more economically efficient to abolish one teacher schools and truck the kids to the city for the day’s lessons, but we may choose to spend the extra keeping them in an environment that they love. No Frills toothpaste may be cheaper, but sometimes we prefer to buy colgate [ ding! ding! product placement warning].

Tony.T
15 years ago

I detest horse racing.

Tony Harris
Tony Harris(@tony-harris)
15 years ago

Repeating my Catallaxy comment on the suggestion that we no longer have a society, it is so silly that it hardly deserves a rejoinder.

Just to elaborate a little, it is likely that leftwing economic illiteracy has been the most destructive influence in human affairs over the last couple of centuries. Especially when socialist utopians of various kinds, mostly communists and fascists (national socialists) have been in the saddle, resulting in massive damage to the traditional linkages, norms and allegiances of society.

The carnage continued in the Third World after decolonisation when the fabians and Keynesians ruled the roost and central planning plus major government interventions produced the predictable consequences.

It is encouraging to see from the Richard Phillips comment that a process of rethinking is under way on the left.

Richard Phillipps
Richard Phillipps
15 years ago

wrong wrong wrong. As long as you can see the maltese falcon at least once a year, then you have no cause to complain. Perhaps with Chinatown for light relief. And, of course, Alphaville. And Star Wars.

One of the problems of the accountant’s century is that, like classic movies, so many simple pleasures have been hoovered up, valorised, and sold back to us (if we can afford them). I remember when prawns wrapped in newspaper were a cheap feed. Now you need a gold mastercard. On a larger scale, inner city terraces were, back in the day, a cheap way of living, and a way in which, to some extent, interesting communities developed. (I don’t want to over romanticise this, there were some complete dills as well). Now they are all worth a motza, and stockbrokers live in them.

The problem with economic hegemony is that allowing economic values to predominate forces out other values. That’s why I said up there that economic information is information, but not necessarily a prescription. We don’t wish to see anyone priced out of, for example, reasonable health care, or a reasonable education for their children.

Nor, for that matter, would we want to see a totally unregulated labour market. Not when we are in living memory of the “bull gangs” on the wharves, when men would jostle for a ticket for a day’s work.

But its not just the big things. little things go, too, which make live greyer, more homogenous, and dumber. Neat little dusty old specialist shops of all kinds have gone. The last authentic Sydney fish cafe (booths, fish, laminex tables, lettuce and tomato salad, buttered white bread) has gone.

vee
vee
15 years ago

I haven’t read the threads on private schools debates yet but don’t think my comment would be fit on them anyway, however I want to say on the subject:

There’s usually a voucher system proposal in the debate.

Its a voucher worth x so you can choose to go to either a public or private school

But doesn’t this make both schools public defeating the point of a private enterprise system?

There’s an argument that’s often made that sending your child to a private school saves taxpayer money – I don’t get it. Sounds like being taxed at a higher rate for the sender to me.

Outside the curriculum private schools shouldn’t receive any public monies.

Public schools should because that’s why they’re public schools.

Scott Wickstein
Scott Wickstein(@scott-wickstein)
15 years ago

I also detest horse racing. Just saying…

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
15 years ago

I don’t detest horse racing but I can see how the whole Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival hoopla could lead one to logically draw that conclusion.

I was in Acland St last week, Nicholas, on a balmy Melbourne day. I thought St Kilda had scrubbed up pretty well. Can’t think why I don’t live there….

Yobbo
Yobbo
15 years ago

I can’t stand horce racing OR motor racing. I’m sure horses find exciting though, but not being a horse I couldn’t really care less.

whyisitso
whyisitso
15 years ago

“I thought St Kilda had scrubbed up pretty well. Can’t think why I don’t live there”

Ken Parish
Admin
Ken Parish(@ken-parish)
15 years ago

jen really loves St Kilda too. I thought it was sort of interesting in a sleazy Kings Cross kind of way when we visited there last year. Ackland Street certainly has lots of good restaurants, cafes, bars, cake shops etc.

I can’t stand horse racing either, although I can’t help wondering whether Tony the Teacher’s comment might have had something to do with dropping some money on a bet on an especially slow nag.

As for motor racing, I find it quite restful as long as the sound is turned down on the TV. All those cars or motor bikes going round and round and round and round; it’s almost like a meditative mantra.

A bit like test cricket really, which is also boring as buggery but pleasantly soporific on a long slow summer holiday day.

Tony.T
15 years ago

Nup. I really, really loathe horse racing, Ken. Haven’t had more than ten bets in my life and all of those were because it was the social thing to do. The hatred stems from when I was a kid and I loved listening to the football on the radio and every five minutes some snorker would break in with “Racing this time at Caulfield or Randwick or Doomben” or where-ever the hell else they were holding the bastard meeting that day.

Bagging cricket, though, that’s just wrong.

Gaby
Gaby
15 years ago

Gee…gee…and I was planning a post for Melbourne Cup day setting out a passage from Mark Twain’s “Following the Equator” giving his impressions of Melbourne Cup Day in the 1890’s when he visited. Very favourable.

I re-read the first half recently when I found it again when moving house. The first half was published by Penguin as “Mark Twain in Australia and New Zealand”. I bought it at Sovereign Hill when I went on my Grade 7 camp. Cost $1.50. And haven’t read it since then. A terrific read by a very humane man.

By the way, I think “Huckleberry Finn” to be one of the great books. Read it as a kid and it made a terrific impression. Impossible to countenance any form of racism or even to see any person other than as an equal after that.

Do others have any memories or impressions, pro or con, of “Huck Finn”?