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David Williamson does it again!

with 62 comments

David Williamson writes “Excessive stereotyping reduces real debate to childish slanging matches”. What a pity he did not take that on board before he wrote his latest piece of soft cock and bull instead of inserting it as an afterthought in the last para of his essay.

He made a somewhat unhappy spectacle of himself a year or so ago by his mean-spirited comments on the people he encountered on an ocean cruise. Now he has struck again in the SMH arts and letters section “Spectrum” Dec 9-10 with a piece called “Latte Man fights for his survival” (probably not his title).

He is concerned about the alleged tribal divide between the neoconservatives of the Quadrant set and the people who they excoriate with labels like soft left, latte left, nanny state activists, merchants of misery, etc. His point is (possibly) that the bad guys have used their dominance (somewhere) to create stereotypes of the left versus “ordinary Australians”, so that the necons have managed to set themselves (ourselves?) up as the friends and defenders of the ordinary people, contra the genuine good guys of the soft left.The right has created a sense that “true” Australians are “ordinary” Australians and that anyone from the soft left who might be interested in ideas or the arts is somehow not really one of “us”.

Where is the evidence for that claim? The people of Quadrant who I know personally are perfectly happy for people of the soft left to be interested in ideas and the arts, we would just like them to be more open minded and willing to take new ideas on board (or at least give them serious consideration) when they encounter views that they regard as “rightwing” or “neoliberal”.

At the core of the dispute is a differing perception of human nature. The right has a carrot and stick version of humanity. People must be punished for laziness and hard work must be rewarded with material gain. It’s a dog eat dog world we live in…and this “realistic” view of human nature promotes econonomic growth and provides people with the material goods that are the chief determinant of human happiness.

The soft left…broadly believes that self-interest is balanced by the human capacity for empathy and that its right and proper that government protects the vulnerable and that society be protected from excessive market fundamentalism.

It is hard to beat that lot for a collection of soft cliches, thought substitutes that are recycled like mantras. There may be people who think along the lines of the stereotype sketched above but I don’t know where they are, or where they publish their thoughts. The position which David Williamson has mangled and distorted can be presented along the following lines:

People act in accordance with the aims and values that they internalise and the incentives that they are offered. It is appropriate in the workplace to reward people for their productivity, and this will tend to promote innovation, effort and cooperation. This will result in able-bodied people improving their material positions by their own efforts. It is also a moral imperative to seek for the best possible ways to support those who are not able-bodied.

Memo to DW, see if you can find a neo con or neo lib who does not care about the plight of the poor and the weak, the sick, the lame and the frail aged. Put up or shut up?

No conservative or neoliberal that I have encountered thinks that material goods are the main determinant of human happiness and I really want to know why apparently intelligent and literate people like DW persist in that belief. Likewise, will someone define “market fundamentalism”, with examples of the practitioners? [I have asked John Quiggin to list some of the neoliberals who he thinks are motivated by personal selfishness but I have not yet seen his reply].

The classical liberal agenda is not supposed to make people happy, to be a substitute for religion or to create heaven on earth. As Novak pointed out, it merely promises freedom from material want and political oppression. With those conditions in place, it is up to us to live the kind of lives that we think are valuable and meaningful. We are not helped by ill-informed, ad hominem and mean-spirited sledging from the likes of David Williamson.

Afterthoughts

Adding a few more comments in the light of further discussion, DW is worthy of respect as a playwright, especially for his capacity to capture the vernacular of our various tribes and also to send them up, pretty well without fear or favour. In fact he was always in trouble with the  hard left and it was practically impossible for him to get through a dinner party in Melbourne without a row over his lily-livered leftism. It was a great relief for him to travel north to the Emerald City.

He has made a special effort to come to grips with feminism and what it means for stereotypes of male and female characteristics. He would have enjoyed Suttie’s thoughts on the taboo on tenderness.
http://www.the-rathouse.com/Revivalist4/IS_Taboo.html

However he has taken on board the full suite of economically illiterate cliches that the left and others like Robert Manne love to circulate about economic rationalism and cognate issues. As someone noted, the new Rudd team threatens to embrace this. So all of the people on the left (and the economically illiterate fellow travellers on the non-left) need to demonstrate their credentials as fearless and independent critical thinkers  by re-examining their ideas on economic policy.

It is most  unfortunate that he is a Collingwood supporter because, apart from the ones that I happen to know personally, that is a tribe of particular oikish and oafish buffoons (and not just on the field of play).

In the recent Spectrum piece he expressed surprise that people on the right seem to be more concerned about the soft left than the hard left. Well of course the moment we show any concern about the hard left, the members of the soft left sledge us for being “Cold Warriors”. As it happens I am quite prepared to re-fight the Cold War and Vietnam as well, for the lessons to be learned about the folly of the left and authoritarian conservatism alike (twins separated at birth), to understand what was lost when classical liberalism went missing for most of the 20th century.

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Written by Admin

December 9, 2006 at 10:24 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

62 Responses

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  1. “Market fundamentalism”? WTF is that? That’s like saying someone is a fundamentalist atheist.

    Brock

    December 10, 2006 at 2:03 am

  2. I think it might be one of Mr Rudd’s key words, so we had better find out more about it.

    Rafe Champion

    December 10, 2006 at 8:03 am

  3. Methinks you doth protest too loudly, Rafe. Both sides in the ideological debate over-simplify the views of their opponents. Libertarians are particularly good at it!

    Fred Argy

    December 10, 2006 at 8:20 am

  4. You could just as easily portray the left as believers that “people must be punished”. Just look at the debate on what must be done about global warming. Many solutions from the left are aimed at reducing emissions through punitive means, with a lack of preparedness to adopt the evil technology that brought on this evil in the first place.

    Generate productivity and wealth? – you must be punished for your sins.

    This sort of stereotyping is the same as Rudd blathering on about Howard being a free market fundamentalist (Rafe’s point). Such stereotypes only work as long as there is an element of truth to it. At best they only rally the faithful. Howard, as probably one of the most redistributive PMs this country has ever had, is so unlike this stereotype that in the long run it will not stick.

    entropy

    December 10, 2006 at 8:57 am

  5. Stereotyping and uncareful thought is the scourge here. Anyone who wants to seriously contribute to national debate must be prepared to be open-minded and not resort to preconceived notions.

    Sacha Blumen

    December 10, 2006 at 10:47 am

  6. Why take Williamson seriously anyway?
    Look, most fiction writers simply don’t have the analytical ability to engage in policy debate anyway – they have a totally different set of skills and mentality which may well be inimical to thinking impersonally (sorry SL but if you made it in law you must be the exception to the rule).

    Jason Soon

    December 10, 2006 at 10:54 am

  7. “Methinks you doth protest too loudly, Rafe. Both sides in the ideological debate over-simplify the views of their opponents. Libertarians are particularly good at it!”

    Where Fred? Here, on the ALS blog thoughts on freedom, or the LDP blog or party website?

    I don’t have to, because ironically with that comment, you have already done it yourself.

    Mark Hill

    December 10, 2006 at 10:58 am

  8. Fred, can you identify any errors of fact or logic in my rejoinder to specific claims made by DW?

    I am prepared to be as nuanced as necessary to cope with any argument put up by the left. Can you make the same claim?

    Jason, I am just taking DW as an indicator, the articulate tip of an iceberg of ignorance and sloppy thinking. Often enough with a tincture of malice.

    Rafe Champion

    December 10, 2006 at 11:11 am

  9. The problem I have with your summing up of the classical liberal agenda – to provide “incentives”, “reward people for their productivity” and “promise freedom from material want and political oppression” – is that I and most ‘small l liberals’ agree with such an agenda. That’s what we are both on about. To imply that we don’t is a distortion.

    The debate is about the best means of achieving these goals, not the goals themselves.

    Such motherhoods do nothing to draw out the key differences between us. I do not accept that undiluted competitive markets produce equality of opportunity (fair rewards for everyone), whereas I suspect you do. I do not believe that good employment and productivity outcomes can only be produced by simply liberating labour markets. I think there is an alternative strategy which mixes liberalism with interventionism which works just as well. And I do not accept that government failure is invariably worse than market failure.

    We both have good logical reasons for our stance. We may also seem to have different values. Your deregulation agenda caters better for individual responsibility and freedom of choice than mine.

    But individual ‘freedom’ is an elusive concept. It is not just about the right of an individual to retain what he or she earns or produces and to choose from the consumption possibilities in the market. It is also about capability – the ability to actively participate in society (positive liberty) and to overcome barriers in the way of reaching their full potential. From the latter perspective, my preferred strategy offers a superior product. It widens the range of longer term employment opportunities and choices available to low-paid workers and jobless workers and makes it easier for them to achieve their full potential.

    There is no one and only truth. There is room for both of us in a vibrant democracy.

    Fred Argy

    December 10, 2006 at 12:00 pm

  10. I’m hoping that’s a compliment, Jason 😉

    But yes, you are largely correct. With some exceptions, artists generally are not good social or economic commentators. I formed the view a few years ago that asking most writers about the economy was like asking Shane Warne about literature. Likely to achieve exactly zip.

    The difference is that the writer will sound articulate and thoughtful even when speaking/writing complete rubbish, especially to the uninitiated. Williamson’s ‘Cruise Ship’ piece had that quality. Shane Warne will just sound ignorant (although it’s likely that he’ll also be more honest – viz his ‘I’ve never finished a book’ comment).

    When coupled with serious intellectual engagement, writing well can generate lots of nice ‘neighbourhood effects’. Used unwisely – as Williamson seems fond of doing – the fictioneer’s wordsmithing skills wind up glib and shallow, but give a superficial appearance of understanding.

    skepticlawyer

    December 10, 2006 at 12:05 pm

  11. Fred
    You’re still trying to crack this chestnut, aren’t you? Give it up Fred, it ain’t gonna work. You threw the Scandi problem at us and with a little digging we found out that places like Sweden are actually running unemployment rates of over 20%.

    Fred, if you hold wages above the clearing rate as you are implying the result is unemployment. If you say that the government is better at judging the optimal clearing wage please tell us how this can be achieved.

    Moreover supporting the union movement only allows that group the follow their parasitic behaviour by raising their members wages at the expense of everyone else.

    Give it up Fred. You have no plan other than causing unemployment and misery, as the road to hell is paved wih th best of intentions.

    J.C.

    December 10, 2006 at 12:52 pm

  12. Rafe

    why bother with williamson. he’s a dope when it comes o this stuff.

    When was his last hit anyway?

    J.C.

    December 10, 2006 at 1:11 pm

  13. Ralf, I was careless with my definition of equality of opportunity. I should have defined it as equal rewards for equal effort and ability.

    JC I gave up arguing with you a long time ago. Let me urge you to read more wdely on Scandi unemployment (including the many refutations of your rather wild claim). You might learn something.

    Fred Argy

    December 10, 2006 at 1:32 pm

  14. Sorry Rafe for misspelling your name.

    Fred Argy

    December 10, 2006 at 1:33 pm

  15. “I do not accept that undiluted competitive markets produce equality of opportunity (fair rewards for everyone), whereas I suspect you do…….”

    Well what are you going to do about it Fred? You want to increase the tax free threshold or are you just going to muck about?

    I mean we hear all this talk from the compromisers but its all irrational chatter because you don’t have a solution that works.

    You going to phase out GST as your building up land tax to increase the opportunities for the poor?

    To bring up the poor and bring down the unworthy rich?

    No you aren’t going to do any of those. You’re just going to fuck around with all this irrational in-between talk.

    Just like listening to that Canadian.

    John Ralston Saul.

    I listened to his lectures and he makes these complaints, but he offers no solutions.

    And to a great extent I agree with his complaints!

    But all through the lecture I’m saying…. Well what do we do John?

    Well what’s your solution John?

    And he never comes up with any solution.

    So how about you Fred?

    I’m calling bullshit on your ludicrous idea that this watered-down interventionism is any sort of solution.

    That means poor people have to pay taxes right?

    Where are you getting the money from?

    From the inflation-tax?

    Rather then having growth-deflation which historically (and theoretically) eventually seems to lead to reducing inequality in wealth and income?

    “….I do not believe that good employment and productivity outcomes can only be produced by simply liberating labour markets………”

    Well thats right. You need capital accumulation as well. And liberalisation more generally.

    “…I think there is an alternative strategy which mixes liberalism with interventionism which works just as well…..”

    JUST AS WELL?

    If it only works JUST AS WELL then there is no justification for it at all.

    But you are bullshitting anyhow. Beliefs are like clitori. Every c-words GOT one.

    Lets hear you explain yourself.

    What is your strategy?

    “…And I do not accept that government failure is invariably worse than market failure……….”

    Well now you are just being silly.

    GMB

    December 10, 2006 at 1:58 pm

  16. Let me put the onus back on you GMB. Ring up The Australia Institute and ask them to send you a copy of my discussion paper no. 85 (April 2006). It has lots of ‘solutions’ to the imany inequalities of opportunity in Australia such as in child development, education and employment. If you read that paper and reject my solutions, I would be happy to debate them with you one by one. By email if you like.

    Fred Argy

    December 10, 2006 at 2:22 pm

  17. No don’t be sending me on wild goose chases.

    Lets hear it right here and now.

    And lets hear where you are getting the money from.

    I’ll certainly accept interim measures if they appear to be necessary.

    But where are you getting the money from?

    From poor people. From not lifting the tax free threshold. From the continuing creation of new money supply.

    I sez you are fooling yourself.

    But lets hear this thing.

    GMB

    December 10, 2006 at 2:36 pm

  18. Fred, we may agree on some motherhood statements but I am becoming impatient with people like DW who persist in circulating lies about people like myself. What do you think about the claims that he made which I refuted in my post?

    In addition, the means that have been used by socialist and welfare state interventionists to achieve the goals that we share have repeatedly produced the reverse of the intended effects. For example, the favoured status of the trade unions has reduced productivity and maintained unemployment, ditto minimum wage regulations.

    So it is time for you to reconsider the fundamentals of your position instead of pressing on with more of the same.

    Rafe Champion

    December 10, 2006 at 5:33 pm

  19. It seems to me that Rafe and Fred are talking about two different issues. Rafe is unhappy about being mischaracterised as some sort of Hayekesque hobgoblin by culturally influentual persons like Williamson. Fred doesn’t seem to be supporting Williamson per se, but is suggesting that the policies Rafe supports may have deletarious effects on the disadvantaged (without suggesting that Rafe is somehow heartless). At least, that’s how it looks to me.

    The first issue is one concerning cultural power – Williamson is listened to because of who he is and what he does, which is unfortunate for people like Rafe (and anyone else with similar views), and makes it difficult simply to ignore him, as Jason suggests.

    The second issue is one of genuine policy disagreement, and is best furthered by an honest and careful assessment of the data.

    Just sayin.

    skepticlawyer

    December 10, 2006 at 6:59 pm

  20. Brock [post1]:
    Errr …. there are fundamentalist athiests and they are as much a pain-in-the -arrse as are the religious variety.

    JC [post 11]:
    I wouldn’t be too fast off the mark about Scandanavian countries just yet; take a hard look at Australia.. “Unemployment” is one thing …. plenty of statistics (the good, the bad and the ugly) …. but when you look for hard data on “Underemployment” and “Misemployment” (two very serious entenched problems in Australia) …. hey, where did all those statistics go?? Underemployment and Misemployment are probably even more important than actual Unemployment.

    Volunteer work and unpaid work barely make it above the horizon either but are a vital part of our economy.

    Rafe Champion:
    You said ” see if you can find a neo con or neo lib who does not care about the plight of the poor and the weak, the sick, the lame and the frail aged”.

    Sadly, there are many people out there living in comfortable circumstances right now who do hold such views …. and worse. As Shakepeare said “He laughs at scars who never felt a wound”. These social parasites are the moral inheritors of the callous attitude, all too common in the Great Depression of the ‘Thirties, that it was the fault of the unemployed that they were out of work.

    People are quick to condemn Racism yet remain silent whenever equally offensive Callousness spews forth. Why?

    Graham Bell

    December 10, 2006 at 7:44 pm

  21. Graham, you’ve switched the group from “proponents of neo-liberalism” to “people with comfortable circumstances”. They’re not the same thing.

    I haven’t actually met anybody with a comfortable circumstance who wants poverty or wants sickness or destitute grannies begging for pennies. I wonder if you have?

    Believing that people hold some responsibility for their life is not the same as supporting poverty and hardship.

    Can you name the proponents of neo-liberalism that don’t care about the poor, disabled or frail aged?

    John Humphreys

    December 10, 2006 at 8:29 pm

  22. I think some libertarians are hypocritical in their professed concern for the disadvantaged. Too many of them want a more competitive world because they think they’ll be amongst those who come out on top of the competition. Conservatives are commonly worse in that respect, though – they want people to know their place because they are in a cosy place.

    None of which is to deny that Williamson is no policy analyst, as SL notes, and that he routinely builds straw men.

    derrida derider

    December 10, 2006 at 8:34 pm

  23. “think some libertarians are hypocritical in their professed concern for the disadvantaged. Too many of them want a more competitive world because they think they’ll be amongst those who come out on top of the competition”

    What a load of tosh, DD. Name some names. Who are these libertarians? A handful of Randroids and Hans-Herman-Hoppe devotees perhaps. Capable people will come out top in *any* system as long as they’re willing to play the rules of game. If anything the more politicised systems (i.e. the most statist) favour the verbally glib, which may be why literati and journos tend to be leftist.

    Many libertarians think the poor would be better off in a libertarian society – for instance why else did the Friedmans decide to set up a charitable foundation devoted solely to school choice?

    http://www.friedmanfoundation.org/index2.html

    Jason Soon

    December 10, 2006 at 8:43 pm

  24. John Humphreys:
    Perhaps I should have altered Rafe Champion’s quote and expanded that to call them ” People living who are living in comfortable circumstances who are load-mouthed about their Neo-Con views”. Does that sound better? Such people do exist and they do blame the poor for being poor and so on.. Such people think noblesse oblige is only for lefty-latte greenie-towelheads.

    Naming the rats? I would be happy to name as many as I can think of ….. provided you are a successful Senior Counsel prepared to defend me, on a pro-bono basis, in all the defamation actions that would fall on my head – this is Australia and truth alone is no defence against defamation actions.

    Now I’ve already chucked the term “noblesse oblige’ into the discussion. Why don’t you pass that term on to any Neo-Cons and Neo-Libs you know and watch their reactions and seek their opinions of the concept? That would be more useful that scoring points against me ….

    Graham Bell

    December 10, 2006 at 9:34 pm

  25. Graham, I think you are living in fantasyland. Or maybe you just have eccentric ideas about what counts as neocon views. I doubt that it would be actionable to say that a person is indifferent about the plight of the poor.

    As for the Quadrant people who were the real target of DW’s spleen, they tend to operate from a set of principles which includes concern about the have-nots and so you could not possibly name any of them who are indifferent to welfare issues.

    One of David Williamson’s more absurd accusations was that we don’t care about the plight of the indigines. This is because we are unhappy with the outcome of three decades of “sit down” welfare spending, but he twists this concern around into its opposite.

    There are also some pretty serious differences between various groupings on the non-lett, so don’t be too sweeping in generalistations about neocons and neolibs.

    Rafe Champion

    December 10, 2006 at 10:30 pm

  26. “I should have defined it as equal rewards for equal effort and ability.”

    Effort and ability are very important and in many cases will be rewarded. but the real world isn’t that simple. People get rewards for all sorts of things. Shane Warne is a wealthy man, Sure he has a unique ability and nobody could fault his effort. But most of all he has done things on the field that millions of people find valuable and he’s rewarded accordingly. Similarly with Paul McCartney, Frank Lowy, Bill Gates and the list goes on and on.

    You can have all the ability in the world and apply as much exhausting effort as you like but if people don’t want to “buy” your product then you won’t (and in my view shouldn’t be) rewarded. We can all nominate plenty of such “deserving” individuals.

    Presumably Fred’s government intervention would ensure that the former type of individual cannot be “extravagantly” rewarded and the honest, intelligent and talented individuals who haven’t hit the right notes with the “buying” public will have their rewards adjusted upwards. I think it’s called “incomes policy”. The last time I heard this concept being seriously discussed was by a gentleman named Anthony Wedgwood Benn in the UK.

    whyisitso

    December 10, 2006 at 10:59 pm

  27. Good old Tony Benn – haven’t heard his name much since I left the UK. A true old-fashioned lefty, right down to the blue blood 😉

    skepticlawyer

    December 10, 2006 at 11:08 pm

  28. I can’t find Williamson’s article online. The SMH website apparently doesn’t extend to covering Spectrum articles.

    The introductory lead in in Spectrum sees him comparing the “hard right” with the “soft left”.

    I first heard the term “soft left” not very long ago, spouted by David Marr. It’s how peoplr like marr (and presumably Williamson) like to describe themselves; the adjective “soft” presumably to distinguish themselves from Soviet-style communists.

    No corresponding courtesy to us on the right however. We are the “hard” right, presumably as evil as Hitler, Mussolini et al.

    The whole situation would really be quite funny except it’s becoming part of the rhetoric of the ALP in Canberra with the ascent of Rudd/Gillard. We therefore have to take this sort of stuff seriously because we’re probably going to cop this lot in government within the next 12 months.

    whyisitso

    December 10, 2006 at 11:12 pm

  29. “JC I gave up arguing with you a long time ago. Let me urge you to read more wdely on Scandi unemployment (including the many refutations of your rather wild claim). You might learn something. ”

    Fred, let’s cut the nonsense by going right to the core. Give us a bullet point explanation of what it is you would like to see done.

    Explain to us what you want to do and tell us where the money is coming from.

    If you fail to do this I can only summarise you aren’t serious about this.

    So tell explain it , Fred. tell us what you would do.

    No point beating round the bush any longer.

    JC.

    December 10, 2006 at 11:15 pm

  30. Personally I don’t think you want to explain it Fred, because you know the plan would be full of holes.

    JC.

    December 10, 2006 at 11:17 pm

  31. I’ll ask this again. Has Williamson had any hits over the past several years? It could be one reason whay he is so bitter about the world.

    JC.

    December 10, 2006 at 11:19 pm

  32. Yair, JC, he’s done pretty well. Dead White Males was pretty popular, and even got an introduction out of Keith Windschuttle. There’s been some others since, too.

    skepticlawyer

    December 10, 2006 at 11:22 pm

  33. Yup, Williamson is anti-pomo (basically the theme of Dead White Males) – one good thing about him.

    Jason Soon

    December 10, 2006 at 11:24 pm

  34. More detail here. He’s made a lot of money.

    skepticlawyer

    December 10, 2006 at 11:25 pm

  35. anti-pomo?

    What do you mean?

    GMB

    December 10, 2006 at 11:28 pm

  36. pomo = postmodernism

    Jason Soon

    December 10, 2006 at 11:34 pm

  37. Dead White Males takes as its theme a bright young woman of working class background who is studying literature at university. Her (male) lecturer is a postmodern stereotype; her family is littered with tropes of the 50s ‘working class’ and isn’t particularly real, either.

    Ultimately, however, these two rather flat devices are pushed aside for an extremely clever bit of fantasy – the Bard himself – one of the ‘dead white males’ – back to life to take on both the lecturer and to solve some of the young lady’s difficulties.

    Williamson manages to imitate Shakespeare’s Elizabethan speech throughout the play with great skill, and the contrast between his dialogue and the broad Australianisms elsewhere is very well done. In other words, he has the hubris to mimic Shakespeare, and almost brings it off.

    skepticlawyer

    December 10, 2006 at 11:35 pm

  38. SL
    I recall he’s had a few duds. There was something a few years ago that only lasted a week or so on Broadway that had to close down, it was so popular. NOT.

    JC.

    December 10, 2006 at 11:37 pm

  39. Rafe Champion[on 25]:
    You said ” ……so don’t be too sweeping in generalistations about neocons and neolibs ….”

    Exactly!!! Nor about anybody else.

    The nasty vicious callous scum who condemn people solely on the basis of their race/ethnicity/religion or their material wealth or their place of residence or their employment status and deliberately resisting being informed about the circumstances are the ones living in fantasyland. Such people do exist and they are not rare.

    FredArgy and Whyisitso:
    On Effort and Ability and Reward:

    Nobody has mentioned the very unnecessary and very artificial barriers to someone with talent who works hard.

    For instance: What about all the highly skilled and top professional migrants who were working on the pick-and-shovel or in other very menial work during the Menzies era of “free enterprise” or during the “progressive” Whitlam years. That a tiny handful did make it all the way through the employment and qualification minefields that protected the inept, the lazy and the dodgy is no cause for celebration – it is a matter of national shame and disgrace. And this is only one of many examples of such barriers to personal advancement.

    Sorry, the ability-effort-reward hypothesis belongs out in fairyland, along with the Workers’ Paradise and Peace-In-Our-Time, not in this world,

    Graham Bell

    December 11, 2006 at 12:27 am

  40. DW is worthy of respect as a playwright, as Jason and skepticlawyer have noted. He has a always been a target for the hard left because he was prepared to send them up, along with all the other sorts and varieties of people that he encountered, including corrupt police and politicians, and unprincipled academics.

    He has made a special effort to come to grips with feminism and what it means for stereotypes of male and female characteristics. He would have enjoyed Suttie’s thoughts on the taboo on tenderness.
    http://www.the-rathouse.com/Revivalist4/IS_Taboo.html

    However he has taken on board the full suite of economically illiterate cliches that the left and others like Robert Manne love to circulate about economic rationalism and cognate issues. As someone noted, the new Rudd team threatens to embrace this. So all of the people on the left (and the economically illiterate fellow travellers on the non-left) need to demonstrate their credentials as fearless and independent critical thinkers by re-examining their assumptions on these issues.

    Rafe Champion

    December 11, 2006 at 7:07 am

  41. Someone above misquoted the Bard (one jets not laughs at the scars that never felt a wound) and it all went downhill from there.

    I particularly liked Graham Bell’s picture of the ‘comfortably off” as a bunch of vicious Gradgrinds who can’t wait to spit at the poor and downtrodden.

    I’ll tell you a secret Graham: it is possible to denigrate cultural appurtenences of the poor without condemning the indigent themselves. For some reason, my family has kept up with some people from the Central Coast who, to put it mildly are oiks. My wife and I go and see these people once a year and wince at the furniture, the constant talk of sport and the bad hair cuts. Yet these people (let us call them the Smiths) are really nice and kind, and if you take the trouble to enter their world quite humorous in a down to earth way. Until Keating took over for Hawke as PM over, the Smiths were ALP voters in a sort of don’t-really-care, but-Mum-voted-Labor way. Since 1996 they are Howard voters, mainly because they hate political correctness like the devil. But interestingly, what they hate most is middle class do-gooders. And they ate them because they know that underneath they are not proper toffs, but wannabes who patronise the lower middle classes in the mname of helping them.

    Rococo Liberal

    December 11, 2006 at 8:58 am

  42. “wince at the furniture, the constant talk of sport and the bad hair cuts”

    “wannabes who patronise the lower middle classes ”

    que??

    whyisitso

    December 11, 2006 at 9:44 am

  43. He’s just pandering to his base. Volvo drivers have made David Williamson a rich man.

    Andrew Elder

    December 11, 2006 at 9:51 am

  44. If I meet you in Sydney, RL, I’ll inflict some Jeff Foxworthy on you. He’s an oik, but he’s a bloody funny oik, and he makes a pretty strong case for valuing oikish culture above some other supposedly more refined varieties of same 😉

    Just sayin.

    skepticlawyer

    December 11, 2006 at 9:52 am

  45. Foxworthy’s up there with Dave Barry.

    Andrew Elder

    December 11, 2006 at 10:14 am

  46. At least DW is rich as a result of people making the free choice to pay their own money to see his plays. I am irritated by the Fred Argys of the world who are paid (in part) by me to advocate policies which involve transferring more of my money to other people, whether I like it or not.

    If it goes to people who really need support, like the carers of multiply handicapped people – fantastic!

    But to promote “positive freedom”? Beware! Weasels at work.

    Rafe Champion

    December 11, 2006 at 10:14 am

  47. Some afterthoughts have been added to the original post.

    Rafe Champion

    December 11, 2006 at 10:42 am

  48. Methinks you protest too much, RL. Got a little scratch in your family tree, eh?

    Jason Soon

    December 11, 2006 at 10:53 am

  49. Nice additions Rafe. Great post in general btw.

    skepticlawyer

    December 11, 2006 at 10:56 am

  50. I was planning to call it quits – until I saw Rafe’s outrageous comment about me costing him money as taxpayer!

    The fact is that I have been retired for some years (I am 76), living on my Commonwealth superannuation pension, and working away from home entirely at my own expense. Although I have the title of Visiting Fellow at the ANU, it carries zero remuneration and I don’t even use the University facilities.

    No one has paid me anything for the articles and books I write (except for a few meagre royaties I earned from my 2003 book).

    So how, pray, have you as taxpayer helped ” pay for me” to put my policy views on paper?

    You owe me an apology Rafe.

    Fred Argy

    December 11, 2006 at 11:59 am

  51. They don’t do apologies here, Fred. Ask FDB.

    Liam

    December 11, 2006 at 12:00 pm

  52. Liam
    you can fuck right off if you’re going to
    1) compare Rafe’s mild comment to GMB’s
    2) misrepresent our efforts to make a commenter apologise to another commenter and compare what a commenter said to what a main blog poster said

    I mean it. you whingy nancyish prick, and I’m not apologising for that comment.

    Jason Soon

    December 11, 2006 at 12:08 pm

  53. Deal.

    Liam

    December 11, 2006 at 12:08 pm

  54. Fred

    Not for nothing, but you were on the public payroll most of your life and now you drawing money from the public trough.

    I wouldn’t have ever brought this up until you raised it by trying to beat rafe over the head with a stick.

    My interpretation is that Rafe is strictly speaking correct. You are living off the public purse because your prior employment was the a government job.

    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t begrudge you of that becasue it was part of the deal.

    I sincerely hope you enjoy your retirement and don’t think any of this is personal. It’s just a disagreement on broad issues.

    JC.

    December 11, 2006 at 12:30 pm

  55. For the record, I worked for 27 years, much of it in senior positions, and served Bob Menzies, John Howard as well Hawke and Keating (Howard even gave me an OBE).

    Previously I had worked in a private insurance company for 12 years and got some supernnuation from them. Is the latter money ‘clean’ but the superannuation from my 27 years of public service somehow ‘unclean’? . Are you guys serious?

    What kind of people are you? I do not get angry easily. But you guys have really got me fired up.

    Fred Argy

    December 11, 2006 at 12:39 pm

  56. Fred, I apologise to you without reservation.

    For no good reason I simply assumed you are a salaried academic, which is why I used the term “Fred Argys of the world” to include all the salaried academics and indeed anyone, publc funded or otherwise, who uses the notion of positive freedom as a trojan horse for couterproductive interventions.

    Rafe Champion

    December 11, 2006 at 12:41 pm

  57. Thanks Rafe. No hard feelings over it . I did resent JC’s last insinuation and had to reply to it in angry terms. Let’s now bury the hatchet.

    Fred Argy

    December 11, 2006 at 12:45 pm

  58. I also thought you were a salaried guy, Fred. in fact for some reason i thought you worked as a lecturer or professor at the ANU. Don’t ask why but that was in my head for some reason.

    I didn’t realize you were reitired. So if caused you any upset in the past I’m sorry too, Fred.

    It’s the festive season, so we all be merry.

    JC.

    December 11, 2006 at 12:46 pm

  59. “Let’s now bury the hatchet.”

    You just buried it in my back there Fred.

    JC.

    December 11, 2006 at 12:47 pm

  60. JC I wrote my earlier comment (no. 57) before I got yours. The hatchet was not intended for your back at all. All is forgiven. Have a good Christmas.

    Fred Argy

    December 11, 2006 at 12:53 pm

  61. What a delightful orgy of goodwill! I can hardly stand it:)

    Rafe Champion

    December 11, 2006 at 2:13 pm

  62. “Previously I had worked in a private insurance company for 12 years and got some supernnuation from them.

    Is the latter money ‘clean’ but the superannuation from my 27 years of public service somehow ‘unclean’? . Are you guys serious?”

    Well I suppose the top guys will always need people working for them.

    But one source of money was stolen and the other was not.

    And justified or not thats not an insignificant thing.

    In back its a powerful and blatant difference.

    GMB

    December 15, 2006 at 8:44 am


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