catallaxy files

catallaxy in technical exile

Trying to save Private Williamson

with 18 comments

This was drafted with Saving Private Ryan playing on TV in the background.

Some years ago (say 20) I spent an evening with David Williamson and some of his family. Actually David and I were not close together on the evening, we were just the two parties in the same Balmain cafe.

That was round about the time when David made some misguided public comments about the program of economic rationalism that was pending. Fortified by the memory of a pleasant evening in Balmain I wrote a letter to David to explain the humanistic or welfare rationale for the program of tariff reduction and other strategies that had so much to offer everyone, from the top to the bottom of the heap.

Since then I have read his pronouncements on economic policy and the motives of economic rationalists with a sense of shock and betrayal. To think that the hand of friendship and mutual support should be so unkindly bitten!

“Ingratitude, thou marble-hearted fiend! How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is, to have a thankless friend.”

Written by Admin

December 10, 2006 at 6:07 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

18 Responses

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  1. Rafe Champion:
    I do not move in circles where David Williamson is well-known or where his works and views are ever discussed …. we have very different – perhaps more important – interests and priorities.

    So …. what is it that upset you?

    Graham Bell

    December 10, 2006 at 7:09 pm

  2. This may help to explain. Williamson wrote a nastily bitter attack piece earlier in the year when he won a cruise as part of a charity fundraiser. He described most of the people on the cruise (who’d paid their way) as greedy philistines (‘aspirational’ in a nasty way), and generally adopted the sort of arrogant kultural kommissar attitude that drives people to vote for John Howard.

    Yesterday he was at it again in the SMH, which Rafe’s other blogpost discusses. This sort of thing concerns me, because these attitudes are very common among the Australian literati (one of the reasons I don’t like having much to do with them).


    December 10, 2006 at 7:39 pm

  3. SkepticLawyer:
    Thanks for that ….. Yes, I remember now Williamson’s comments after a cruise …. and thinking that if ever I went on a cruise, I would take on board my own factory-sealed bottles of C2H5OH solution – and drink the entire contents once opened – so as to avoid the embarrassment of making similar “interesting” and “unusual” comments once ashore …. if that’s what caused it, I mean..

    Graham Bell

    December 10, 2006 at 8:00 pm

  4. Williamson’s original article is here for those who may have missed it.

    Professor Bunyip did a beautiful satire on it before his blog folded (did it fold?).


    December 10, 2006 at 8:23 pm

  5. Rafe, you name dropping social butterfly! 🙂

    Jason Soon

    December 10, 2006 at 8:29 pm

  6. Eat your heart out Jason, I also dined in the Balkan at Taylor Square with Madam Lash (off duty).

    Rafe Champion

    December 10, 2006 at 8:57 pm

  7. Crikey, we’re really doing well. Mind you, you have Australian National Treasures ™ in the family… 😉


    December 10, 2006 at 9:25 pm

  8. Rafe Champion:
    What’s the Balkan on Taylor Square like? Bosnian Bean Soup with schooners of Slivo?
    We can get pies and sausage roll at the local garage …:-)

    Graham Bell

    December 10, 2006 at 9:43 pm

  9. Rafe, I’ve similarly tried to ‘save’ otherwise well-meaning people from silly ideas, but what can you do? The blighters just don’t listen! I think the only way to get to people is at high school age, or maybe the first year or two of uni, before their egos grow to become a barrier to entry to good sense!

    Rajat Sood

    December 10, 2006 at 9:58 pm

  10. well, I had a one on one lunch with Virginia Postrel the last time she was in Sydney and I have the autographed book to prove it. So take that, name dropper!

    Jason Soon

    December 10, 2006 at 10:47 pm

  11. Graham
    The Balkan is a place which does a great seafood grill. I was actually considering it as a venue for Helen’s Sydney dinner though we decided on a German (actually Bavarian) theme in the end.

    Jason Soon

    December 10, 2006 at 10:56 pm

  12. it’s rare to be able to grill Williamson over the Balkans, others would have walked over hot coals for half the chance.


    December 10, 2006 at 11:00 pm

  13. Rafe
    What’s the lesson here? Stay the hell out of Balmain. Just don’t ever go there. It’s a dangerous place where you can find all sorts of blow ins walking through the door of a cafe.


    December 10, 2006 at 11:26 pm

  14. Jase

    you spent face time with Virginia P. Wow!

    She did a great interview once on Cspan’s Book notes with Bran Lamb. Great gal.~

    You know if she is still doing pieces for the NYTimes?


    December 10, 2006 at 11:29 pm

  15. It doesn’t look like she’s doing regular NYT columns anymore, JC.

    Yeah, the IPA brought her to Australia a few years back though her talk was in Melbourne. I couldn’t make it to that one but met her for lunch, as I got to know her when she used to run a mailing list which she regularly participated in (too busy for that now).

    Jason Soon

    December 10, 2006 at 11:41 pm

  16. That’s funny….;-) Myself, I used to regularly lunch in Washington with JFK Jnr, albeit in different restaurants with different people.

    Daniel Barnes

    December 11, 2006 at 6:48 am

  17. Wow! I had a drink with Daniel Barnes once, and I never realised it was a brush with such a lot of fame! I just thought he and his wife were great company. And the view….high above the harbour bridge!

    Rafe Champion

    December 11, 2006 at 7:13 am

  18. Rafe:
    >Wow! I had a drink with Daniel Barnes once, and I never realised it was a brush with such a lot of fame!

    You know Rafe, I’m still gutted that they redecorated that bar (it’s the one on top of the ANA building down at the Rocks, and has the best views of any bar in Sydney). It used to be quite old fashioned, intimate and formal, with a traditional hotel flavour. Fantastic place to get quietly ratted and watch the twilight descend. But when Vic and I took you there the view was still amazing but it had had the dreaded moderne makeover…so it wasn’t quite the same. I swear, if you liked it then you would have loved it before…;-)

    Anyway I’m over in Sydney in Feb, we’ll catch up again then. I’m up for any new bar recommendations from Sydneyside Catallaxiers too, BTW.

    Daniel Barnes

    December 11, 2006 at 8:10 am

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