Strange dichotomies: Economic ‘drivers’ edition

Why is this man trying to annoy Republicans?


Here’s an extract from a recent article from the AFR which seems to be parading its private sector ideological friendliness in the way that the Oz started doing many years ago now.

In his second inaugural address, a confident Barack Obama sought to put his own gloss on the Declaration of Independence.

It was “life, liberty and the pursuit of collective happiness” that the President pledged on a chilly Washington day to uphold in his second term in the White House.

Not in so many words, of course.

But that was the meaning of an inaugural address that barely glanced at the engines of American prosperity – economic growth, the private sector, shale energy – before plunging into the things that really animate Barack Obama and upset his Republican foes:

Training more maths and science teachers; building the roads, networks and laboratories of the future; extending equal pay to all women, equal rights to gays, equal opportunities to all Americans; finding a better way to welcome immigrants “who still see America as a land of opportunity”; ensuring all children are cared for and cherished; responding to climate change.”

So there you have it “The engines of American prosperity” are “economic growth” (ie the thing itself) and good solid things that require hard hats and private sectors.

“Training more maths and science teachers; building the roads, networks and laboratories of the future” is obviously pretty similar to gay rights and all those woosy things that might keep the chattering classes chattering, but don’t really get our economy going. I happen to personally know (via Michelle) that Barack put the stuff in there about roads and railways just to upset Republicans. Really, it’s tough in the United States when you have such petty mindedness amongst the 47% of the population who are proven homosexuals.

Why do they hate shale oil so much?

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8 Responses to Strange dichotomies: Economic ‘drivers’ edition

  1. m0nty says:

    That’s more snarky than usual by you, Nicholas. :)

  2. Sancho says:

    The AFR is writing from the position that indulging industry is obviously the real business of government, and any action on social or environmental matters is just trolling.

  3. Tel says:

    Just returning to “You didn’t build that,” so nothing new, and perfectly consistent with what was promised before the election.

    They bring up roads, rail, teachers, research, etc as examples to justify big government, because you know only big government can deliver those things.

    The rails in the USA were private from day one, government took them over for WWI and then they became unionised with government blessing, to keep those evil tycoons under control.

    Most of the roads from the industrial revolution were built by privately funded “turnpike trusts”, including the early roads in New South Wales.

    Teaching is of course as old as humanity, but institutionalized probably started with the churches, but government has taken that over in the name of fairness.

    Research and science flourished as amateur philanthropic activity, and then also got taken over as part of the modern war machine.

    • Sancho says:

      Education’s a tricky one, but overall the pitfall of a streamlined curriculum are preferable to the economically damaging insanity that happens when democratic governments lose control of education.

      There’s not much America can teach Australia about economics or governance other than that it’s a good idea to appease Hitler for a while in order to not get most of your young males killed in a war, then attribute the subsequent half-century of economic growth to Jesus until other nations get back on their feet, at which point you blame blacks and gays.

      • Alan says:

        The US railway system was built by companies on government contracts. Famously corrupt companies. When the rival companies build east from San Francisco and west from Council Bludds actually met, instead ofjoing the lines, for some time they just kept building so that Central Pacific and Union Pacific lines ran parallel to each other.That way they each continued collecting, for each mile laid, $16000, 10 square miles of land, and all public land within 200 feet of the line. The rail companies eventually received, amongst other things, over 1/10 of the land area of the US in payments from Congress. The US rail system can at best be called a private/public partnership where the government provided all the money and the companies ended up owning the lines..

    • PSC says:

      Tel, in the Anglo-Saxon context institutionalized teaching started in Tudor/Elizabethan times when formally espousing the notion of separation of church and state was a good way to get executed. What happened was that the government passed laws demanding that parishes do various things, but parishes had a lot more authority to levy taxes and fees than they do today.

      The earliest (modern anglo-saxon) institutionalized schooling was in Scotland, where in 1496 a law was passed by James IV forcing the nobility to send their children to school, followed later by a law in 1616 of James I/VI which forced local parishes to create schools based on a tax or fee levied directly by the parish and all people to send their children to the schools.

      As I say, the notion of separation of church and state was a later Enlightenment invention, so it’s not sensible to ask if these were government schools or religious/church schools. It was particularly bad in Scotland at the time because there was an ongoing battle between the episcopalian and presbyterian factions of the church, each struggling for control of parliament and the state religion.

      In England parishes had a lot more leeway to choose their own policies according to the Poor Law of 1601. Some parishes would provide for schooling of the poor, but many would not. Again, given the politics of the time there’s not a good distinction between church-run and government-run schools.

    • PSC says:

      And I think your history of science (amateur activity taken over by government) needs challenging too. I can’t think of a pre-1700s scientist who wasn’t employed by government. Just some examples –

      Issac Newton was a member of parliament – very close to government indeed!

      Galileo was a teacher at various universities, which I guess were funded by the Medici (rulers of Florence).

      Several the early famous astronomers (e.g. Brahe, Kepler, Copernicus) were employed by nobles – e.g. by government.

    • desipis says:

      The rails in the USA were private from day one

      Here are some quotes from wikipedia:

      Government support, most especially the detailing of officers from the Army Corps of Engineers – the nation’s only repository of civil engineering expertise – was crucial in assisting private enterprise in building nearly all the country’s railroads. Army Engineer officers surveyed and selected routes, planned, designed, and constructed rights of way, track, and structures, and introduced the Army’s system of reports and accountability to the railroad companies. … State governments granted charters that created the business corporation and gave a limited right of eminent domain, allowing the railroad to buy needed land, even if the owner objected.

      The construction and operation of the [transcontinental] line was authorized by the Pacific Railroad Acts of 1862 and 1864 during the American Civil War. Congress supported it with 30-year U.S. government bonds and extensive land grants of government-owned land…

      Doesn’t sound all that private to me.

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