catallaxy files

catallaxy in technical exile

Kevin Rudd and the fork in the road to serfdom

with 63 comments

Sinclair Davidson has a piece in today’s Age on Kevin Rudd’s true fork in the road. The canary in the mine must be the reappointment of Kim Il Carr in the Shadow Industry portfolio:

    Kevin Rudd keeps indicating we have reached a “fork in the road”. He has also been arguing against what he calls “uncompromising free-market fundamentalism” (…) The appointment of Senator Kim Carr of the Victorian Socialist Left to the shadow industry portfolio needs to be seen in this light. Nobody has ever accused “Kim il Carr” of market fundamentalism. Indeed, he has been an implacable foe of all things “market”.

    Carr has argued that our prosperity reflects the reforms of the Hawke and Keating governments, and the ALP has not done enough to emphasise that point. The Hawke government, at least, did not pursue protectionist policies. Yet Carr went to the last election promising to slow tariff reductions, and opposed further tariff cuts after 2010.
    However, Rudd is promising a new direction in industry policy — not the discredited industry policy that leads to high tariffs, protectionism, and hidden taxes on consumers. So while Rudd is telling us that tariffs are discredited, he is reappointing the man who campaigned for that very policy at the last election. Where does the ALP stand on free trade? Rudd is reportedly a free trader — yet one of his early comments as leader was about the trade deficit. He has a desire to “make things” — the ALP is beginning to sound very mercantilist.
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Written by Admin

December 12, 2006 at 8:16 am

Posted in Uncategorized

63 Responses

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  1. Tragicomic to see The Australian running a new version of their hilarious AWB “Everyone In The World Knew” campaign in relation to Rudd. The other day they went with “Rudd Heals Party Wounds”.

    Reality: he was as powerless on his frontbench composition as his predecessors were and it shows already. He has already dropped the ball on his mysterious industry policy (which he can’t explain), he’s on a collision course with Garret on uranium and Gillard is a disastrous choice for a family-oriented IR campaign (and she showed no ticker for Treasury).

    Sinclair has called it as it is.

    C.L.

    December 12, 2006 at 8:44 am

  2. Sinkers shows a complete naivety of politics.

    Swanny is shadow treasurer, Emmo in small business etc and Bowen is assistant treasurer and Tanner is in Finance.

    If Sinkers thinks some protectionist manufacturing package which would be costly would get through this lot he is stark staring Birdy.

    It occurs to me Rudd is merely mouthing platitudes to the left whilst the powers remains with the dries.

    Bring Back CL's Blog

    December 12, 2006 at 9:56 am

  3. your faith is so touching, Homer …

    Jason Soon

    December 12, 2006 at 10:00 am

  4. Industry policy must be the one area where there is no connection whatsoever between what a political party says in opposition and what they actually deliver in government.

    Andrew Elder

    December 12, 2006 at 10:08 am

  5. Jase, can you come up with a better theory.

    History bears my theory out as well as the composition of the shadow cabinet.

    Bring Back CL's Blog

    December 12, 2006 at 10:31 am

  6. “It occurs to me Rudd is merely mouthing platitudes to the left whilst the powers remains with the dries.”

    Will PSBR/GDP ratios fall under a Rudd Premiership?

    Is that what he is hinting at?

    Tighter money?

    Less regulations?

    Lower taxes, higher thresholds and the elimination of inefficient taxes?

    Free trade and investment?

    Mark Hill

    December 12, 2006 at 10:35 am

  7. Just a brief note on budgetary policy.

    If you want to go the whole hank it costs money. A lot of money. This ain’t gonna happen

    for those interested take a wander into the deep past and read Australia reconstructed ( I think that was the name) which was produced by the ACTU which essentially was an AMWU publication given Nixon Apple and others wrote it.

    The ALP Government ignored it and then cut tariffs. This was the best industry policy Australia has ever had.

    most of the Overseas ‘evidence’ for industry policy has blown up in their face whether it be Korea, Japan or Sweden.

    Bring Back CL's Blog

    December 12, 2006 at 11:01 am

  8. Homer,

    Does Rudd stand up to my uber-dryness?

    Mark Hill

    December 12, 2006 at 12:17 pm

  9. No politician stands up to any uber-dryness as it won’t win votes.
    The most uber-dryness Government ( sorry for making an adjective out of a noun) was the ALP Government led by Hawke and they realised they had to be not because it was hugely popular.

    My guess is looking at his shadow cabinet is that it will be more economically liberal than not.

    Remember at the last election the ALP had a much tighter fiscal policy than the government and also promised to cut both outlays and tax as a % of GDP.

    I will be interested to see if this is pursued.

    Bring Back CL's Blog

    December 12, 2006 at 12:42 pm

  10. I reckon that even now Kim Carr is dusting off the plans for a successor model to the P-76 and plans to open the Red October Peoples Automotive Factory No1 on the site of the old Leyland plant (at Fisherman’s Bend ?).

    jimmythespiv

    December 12, 2006 at 3:35 pm

  11. It will be interesting to watch the conflict emerge between Peter Garrett and Kim Carr. Carr was rabbiting on on AM yesterday about the importance of maintaining the car industry in Australia while Garrett will be rabbiting on about how we have to get Australians out of cars for the sake of the planet.

    This Global Warming issue will tear at the heart of the ALP policy wise as they have nailed their colours to the AGW mast. The internal inconsistencies will be soon apparent.

    amortiser

    December 12, 2006 at 5:15 pm

  12. I candidly admit to being a sub-genius when it comes to economic policy; however the other day, in Norton Plaza Leichardt, I ambled up to a ritzy looking Italian-style fish-&-chip joint & ordered standard takeaway – A$8.50.

    It was at that point that I noticed the fillet about to be battered & fried came out of a box with a label on it, to wit: “Vietnamese Basa”.

    At which point I had a flashback to numerous current affairs shows with graphic images of fly-blow fish floating belly-up on the Mekong.

    Needless to say I cancelled the order & ambled over to the pie-shop instead.

    Why – in Australia of all places – do we need to import filthy vietnames Basa for for an A$8.50 serve of fish & chips?

    In what sense is this economically clever?

    Ciao, Joe.

    Befuddled

    June 4, 2007 at 11:09 am

  13. It’s cheap. How do you know it’s filthy?

    JC.

    June 4, 2007 at 11:20 am

  14. Was wondering where you were Homer. You’re here and as usual dead wrong.

    JC.

    June 4, 2007 at 11:35 am

  15. A$8.50 cheap??? …you lower-north-shore econophile types are evidently on a vastly better financial wicket than we inner-west proles; if you think nearly nine bucks is cheap for takeaway fish & chips! And thats sans tartare sauce.

    Ever been to Vietnam?

    The Mekong Delta is widely known in Asia as “The Toilet Bowl of Asia.” Most ‘basa’ are raised in cages under houseboats on the river and are fed human waste, faeces, and even chicken shit among other things. Fertilizer, pesticide, and insecticides run off nearby farmland into the river.

    What little testing is done by the relevant Oz/US agencies consistently reveal traces of ciprofloxacin, enrofloxacin & other fluoroquinolones in Basa fillets. Not to mention leuchomalachite.

    Now why do you think that might be?

    As I say, I’m quite happy to admit being befuddled by the apparently transcendant truths of high-brow economic doctrine.

    But for A$8.50 I just don’t understand why I can’t get a fillet of fish – even a sliver would do – from the seas by which we are liberally girt – rather than from a de facto vietnamese sewer.

    I reiterate, I’m not a rocket scientist – let alone a free market economist – so please be gentle in explaining why the latter is better for me than the former.

    Ciao, Joe.

    cf.
    http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2005/s1526227.htm

    http://au.todaytonight.yahoo.com/article/39104/consumer/cracking-fish-labelling

    Befuddled

    June 4, 2007 at 1:01 pm

  16. Befuddled
    There is no obvious reason why fish and chip shop operators would want to saddle themselves with higher cost fish than they can get so I don’t see what the problem. There is no government law forcing them to buy basa so if these guys are buying fish which is more expensive and low quality than local produce they are not doing themselves any favours. But how do you know fish made of local produce won’t be more expensive? And perhaps there are alternative uses for local produce which are more rewarding for the fishing industry like exporting? So on balance I still don’t see what the problem is,

    Incidentally as one of these high-paid econophile types, when I bought white fish to cook I used to buy basa all the time because it was a lot cheapter. I am frugal but don’t consider myself that much more frugal than most.

    Jason Soon

    June 4, 2007 at 1:13 pm

  17. Never heard of basa. There’s plenty of blue grenadier, salmon, whiting, snapper, flake, etc. available at the two fish n chips shops within walking distance of my place, all reasonably priced too. So, I’m not sure why they’d go for the basa. But thanks for the heads-up anyway, the basa sounds crap, literally.

    dover_beach

    June 4, 2007 at 1:24 pm

  18. “So on balance I still don’t see what the problem is,”

    The problem is too much money for shithouse fish.

    I swear economists are like engineers things have to be really complicated before they’re understood.

    Adrienswords

    June 4, 2007 at 1:24 pm

  19. Befuddled

    If you don’t like the fish, go buy a burger.

    I hardly think you can feed fish human feces as it would degrade in the water.

    Stop making stuff up because you don’t want to eat Vietnamese sea food.

    And yes, i have been to Vietnam and ate very well.

    I wouldn’t get myself all worked up about it , befuddled, just eat what you feel like eating dude.

    JC.

    June 4, 2007 at 1:26 pm

  20. No there’s no problem Adrien because there’s enough choice if you look further afield. It’s not as if this Leichardt shop is the only place you can buy fish. For instance in my neighbourhood there are at least half a dozen places where you can buy fish cheaply within walking distance – I include walking distance as World Square, around Town Hall and Chinatown because I do actually walk to all those places and further to do my shopping.I also cook fish 3-4 times a week.

    Jason Soon

    June 4, 2007 at 1:31 pm

  21. “The problem is too much money for shithouse fish.”

    So go follow your buddy down to the local burger shop and buy a burger with the lot.

    Ok, if you think you can produce fish at a cheaper price you have a very big market, adrien. Go for it.

    One reason for expensive fish these days is the const of meeting regulatory requirements.

    You almost have to be an options trader to figure it out these days.

    JC.

    June 4, 2007 at 1:31 pm

  22. Jason is scaling new heights by hook or crook

    Bring Back CL's Blog

    June 4, 2007 at 1:38 pm

  23. I can only deduce from the above response that the shamans who run economic policy out of Canberra – & their sundry acolytes – really do believe that “cheap” is some kind of supreme sacrosanct value which trumps all other lesser values, such as “healthy”/”hygenic”/”clean”/”provides local employment” etc.

    If indeed, we are what we eat, shouldn’t food be placed in a different category to non-edible widgets when it comes to the question of ‘free-trade’?

    Or am I just being a dunderheaded non-economist by even presuming to raise the issue?

    Befuddled

    June 4, 2007 at 1:38 pm

  24. Befuddled.

    The imports undergo some serious examination according to you own links. Eat the fish, dude, it’s good for you and you won’t get sick.

    JC.

    June 4, 2007 at 1:39 pm

  25. “really do believe that “cheap” is some kind of supreme sacrosanct value which trumps all other lesser values, such as “healthy”/”hygenic”/”clean”/”provides local employment”

    Befuddled – there is no shortage of more expensive fish too if you want it. And wasn’t it you who was just complaining a while ago that $8.50 was too expensive? What exactly is your point from your anecdote? Have you established that all fish and chip joints are using basa?

    Jason Soon

    June 4, 2007 at 1:43 pm

  26. “Or am I just being a dunderheaded non-economist by even presuming to raise the issue”

    Yes, you re being a dunderhead.

    Dude, I am not the last of the big spenders or anything, but a piece of fish for 8 bucks fifty is not a bad deal.

    Go for a burger, dude as you seem really upset about this.

    JC.

    June 4, 2007 at 1:49 pm

  27. There is nothing inherently wrong with ‘Basa’ – it’s the conditions under which it’s produced thats the problem.

    By the way I’m a great fan of Vietnamese cuisine – finest in Asia as far as I’m concerned – so this is not some sort of crypto-anti-tonkinesecooking -rant I’m on here.

    I simply believe that it’s a Comparative Disadvantage to be eating things which are produced under conditions which one has no accurate knowledge about.

    I reiterate the point; whilst ‘free-trade’ in non-edible widgets may make some kind of sense; free-trade in foodstuffs, is quite literally, a form of Russian-Roulette.

    Befuddled

    June 4, 2007 at 1:59 pm

  28. “I simply believe that it’s a Comparative Disadvantage to be eating things which are produced under conditions which one has no accurate knowledge about.

    I reiterate the point; whilst ‘free-trade’ in non-edible widgets may make some kind of sense; free-trade in foodstuffs, is quite literally, a form of Russian-Roulette.”

    You could have “knowledge” about how food was produced, but unless you understood what different agricultural conditions meant, your information would be worthless.

    Your rant actually implies we should be importing foodstuffs we have no knowledge about, since we are at a comparative disadvantage.

    “The Mekong Delta is widely known in Asia as “The Toilet Bowl of Asia.” Most ‘basa’ are raised in cages under houseboats on the river and are fed human waste, faeces, and even chicken shit among other things. Fertilizer, pesticide, and insecticides run off nearby farmland into the river.

    What little testing is done by the relevant Oz/US agencies consistently reveal traces of ciprofloxacin, enrofloxacin & other fluoroquinolones in Basa fillets. Not to mention leuchomalachite.”

    Animals eat shit. We eat them. No problem. There are traces of antibiotics in the fish. Traces. Negligible amounts. No problem. No traces of incesticide though. No problem.

    Anyway, I’ll have the blue grenadier.

    Mark Hill

    June 4, 2007 at 2:12 pm

  29. Yeah yeah yeah I’m just being facetious. $8.50 is too much for fish and chips. Some guy at a pub wanted to charge me $2.50 for a cup of instant coffee!!!

    As for “Animals eat shit. We eat them. No problem. There are traces of antibiotics in the fish. Traces. Negligible amounts. No problem.”

    There’s a difference between an animal that eating traces of fecal material and an animal that’s swamped in the stuff. And there’s large scale pumping of lots of livestock/aquastock with large amounts of antibiotics. The “North Atlantic” salmon you buy at the supermarket is actually dyed that colour originally it’s grey. Yuk.

    Could be a problem.

    Adrienswords

    June 4, 2007 at 2:23 pm

  30. “Your rant actually implies we should be importing foodstuffs we have no knowledge about, since we are at a comparative disadvantage.”

    How?

    It seems to me his questions (he’s not ranting) imply the very opposite.

    Adrienswords

    June 4, 2007 at 2:26 pm

  31. RE: *_You could have “knowledge” about how food was produced, but unless you understood what different agricultural conditions meant, your information would be worthless.

    Your rant actually implies we should be importing foodstuffs we have no knowledge about, since we are at a comparative disadvantage._*
    _____________________________________

    The term “Comparative Disadvantage” was used ironically, actually.

    Given that we’re surrounded by comparatively pristine seas, does that not give us a ‘comparative advantage’ in producing healthy fish which doesn’t have to be doped-up on antibiotics in order to reach a marketable size?

    My – albeit limited – understanding of the economic rationale underlying “Free-Trade” doctrine, is that it’s based on the theory of ‘Comparative Advantage’; the classic case in point being Portugese wine vis-a-vis English textiles.

    But wasn’t that all many decades ago? If it was found that the Portugese wine was adulterated with slow-acting toxins which kill you over the economic long-term; does the theory still hold true?

    I fail to see how even the most brilliant economics savant could muster a credible defence of free-trade in foodstuffs when it’s common knowledge that the foodstuffs in question are imported from countries which are horribly polluted & have – effectively – no health & sanitation regulations whatsoever.

    I’m with Dick Smith on this one.

    Befuddled

    June 4, 2007 at 3:03 pm

  32. The problem Befuddled raises is much more serious than most people here appreciate. It is fine to allow the import of foods but the problem we now face is that in many areas the food manufacturing standards are so parlous as to make the consumption of foods from these regions very problematic.

    In the USA there have been a number of reports of poisoning from contaminated products from China, even toothpaste! The Chinese government issued a news release one month ago stating that 8% of the agricultural land was too toxic to be used. That government released another report citing a huge increase in cancer rates and attributed this to extensive pollution. Chinese herbal medicines have been found to be contaminated with everything from arsenic to morphine.

    Its all very well to have open markets but when these markets threaten our health then fuck the open markets. We need to do much better than simply opening markets, such simplistic approaches fail to appreciate the immense complexities and multiple downstream events that so frequently leave us floundering in despair.

    Dead Soul

    June 4, 2007 at 3:39 pm

  33. Befuddled, I think your logic is a little befuddled. If, as you say, the foodstuffs from overseas are crap, then, surely, they don’t enjoy a comparative advantage. Price is not the only relavent characteristic in comparative advantage.

    BTW, you’ve only provided one unsubstantiated example. Are all foods cultivated or harvested o/s all “horribly polluted & have – effectively – no health & sanitation regulations whatsoever”? I’m sure this isn’t true of foods in the EU, Eastern Asia, or North America.

    I don’t see how this argument effects open markets per se unless it’s being argued that open markets are necessarily unregulated by standards.

    dover_beach

    June 4, 2007 at 3:51 pm

  34. The real moral of the story is not to have communal property, isn’t it? Australian farmers and aquaculturists do not pollute their own land or sea lanes, unless they have some perverse incentive to do so.

    “I fail to see how even the most brilliant economics savant could muster a credible defence of free-trade in foodstuffs when it’s common knowledge that the foodstuffs in question are imported from countries which are horribly polluted & have – effectively – no health & sanitation regulations whatsoever.”

    Comparative advantage refers to who produces goods at the lowest opportunity cost. What you have CA in you specialise in and should export. What you have comparative disadvantage in you import. What you are saying is correct except that people keep on buying from polluted countries. it doesn’t seem to concern too many consumers even if they are fiercely protectionist.

    What we are seeing here is inter industry trade, meaning that there are comparable cost structures in the industries and seemingly product differentiation matters. With generic fish? Weird.

    So there are two things which need explanation:

    1. People don’t seemingly care about Bassa living in polluted waterways. is this an asymmetric information problem?

    2. Do we have IIT in a generic product?

    Mark Hill

    June 4, 2007 at 4:28 pm

  35. The problem for consumers is that they are not made aware of these risks. The news reports I cited were recent and created a ruckus in the US but not a word here in the press. After all, we don’t want to upset trade relations with Asia now do we? Whereas the USA currently has plenty of interest in attacking China trade. The principle holds: money is more important than people.

    This forum is fairly representative of how ignorant the average Joe or Jane is when it comes to pollution. There are now hundreds of studies linking various pollutants with pathologies. People don’t do their homework, that or they don’t have memories, which tends to happen with heavy metal toxicity …. . recent analyses have caused a substantial lowering of the toxicity thresholds for lead, mercury, and cadmium.

    Dead Soul

    June 4, 2007 at 4:37 pm

  36. Thank Christ for Dead Souls:

    What set me off on this tangent is a stint I did at a Dandenong food-blending factory some years ago.

    I had no idea up to that point that my favourite Big-M choc-malt milkshake started life as sacks of dry powder which were then all blended together in a big mixer, rebagged & sent to the milk factory to have milk added.

    In the course of this process I noted the process workers coughing & hacking [& sometimes deliberately spitting] into the mix.

    Other things also inevitably fall into the mix, which is why every blended bag must go through a metal detector.

    I once witnessed a supervisor instruct a process worker to sweep-up cocoa powder spills off the filthy factory floor & empty it back into the cocoa bags.

    At least one of the process workers was HepC. positive.

    I no longer eat foods which come out of factories.

    With the exception of Burgen Rye & Arnotts grain cracker [both with all-aussie ingredients & germanic codes of hygiene].

    Rather ironically, some on the US Republican-right are calling for bans on import of foodstuffs from Vietnam on account of their being contaminated with unacceptably high-level residues of dioxin[via Agent Orange]

    Well they should know.

    Whilst I broadly support free-enterprise & market outcomes; food production should be placed in a category all of it’s own.

    Much of what has been posted above by others in support of free-trade in foodstuffs might be summarized by the aphorism “Caveat Emptor”.

    But is it really fair – even within the laissez-faire economist’s conception of fairness – to expect guileless youth/ the uneducated/ the dimwitted, to be aware of the hazards associated with imported foods?

    Teratogenic toxins are stored in body fat. In pregnant women they inevitably cross the placental barrier & affect the embryo.

    Isn’t the logical end-state of the current trading regime in foodstuffs a Planet choc-full of imbecile mutants???

    Befuddled

    June 4, 2007 at 5:26 pm

  37. Befuddled

    In a way you’re answering your own question.

    You’ve alluded to your choices as consumer based on the perceived threats to your health from certain foods right? And you have declined to purchase certain things based on your knowledge of the hygeine problems associated with same. Therefore the solution to the problems you’ve highlighted (and I do think they are problems) are consumers who are rich in information and proactively discerning. The absence of this is not the fault of globalised trade as such. True certain countries have lesser standards. But over time with the emergence of consumers armed with the above attributes this can change.

    Adrienswords

    June 4, 2007 at 5:41 pm

  38. Adrienwords,

    History has clearly shown that for the greater part companies only take responsibility for such issues when they are forced to do so by governments. Occasionally it happens by consumers (eg. Nike) but typically governments have to introduce legislation because there are too many unscrupulous operators out there.

    Your solution will work but it will take far too long. Globalists, if they bothered to think occasionally, should have seen all this coming. I did, any intelligent informed person could see this coming.

    Befuddled,

    Way back when I did a short stint in an abbatoir, and did occasional casual work at food processing plants. If people really knew what was going on … . One section I was in the meat packing section. Me, the supervisor, with others, would engage in meat fights. Meat all over the floor. Shite, here comes the inspector. “Back in the boxes everybody!”. Ah the follies of youth. Never felt quite the same about eating sausages after that short stint.

    Dead Soul

    June 4, 2007 at 7:26 pm

  39. It is also true to say that “History has clearly shown that for the greater part [governments] only take responsibility for such issues when they are forced to do so by [citizens].

    The problem this argument began with arose in a communist country. Its not surprise that the worst environmental damage in the last century occurred in communist states.

    The worst of your (Befuddled and DS) argument is that argue only government standards will save the day, only to provide anecdotes of foods locally produced, which contravene local gov’t standards in food handling.

    dover_beach

    June 4, 2007 at 7:52 pm

  40. Dover-Beach

    Incorrect . I stated that Adreinwords solution was viable but too slow.

    Spare me the Communist straw man argument. Hoisted on your own petard because communists governments ignored polllution, it was Western governments who did something about it. So the communist example validates my point that if governments won’t do anything don’t expect anyone else to do anything. Occasionally consumers have a win but not enough wins. I wish that were different but as I have seen on this forum so many times whenever anyone raises issues about pollution they are regarded as scare mongers.

    Govt standards on food handling are violated every day. Been there, done that. Have a look at some studies on hygiene control in fast food outlets.

    I am not arguing for local food only, I am arguing for proper information to be provided regarding the conditions under which the food was prepared. I regularly eat food from overseas but I am increasingly cautious about the same.

    Dead Soul

    June 4, 2007 at 7:58 pm

  41. Like I said, it is an argument to privatise ownership and control of agricultural land and aquaculture areas.

    If food processing is that bad everywhere, not trading will simply lower competitive standards. Trade will not encourage more of this behaviour as consumer power has more impact if the whole world is your market.

    Really befuddled has argued not to trust food processing, not to shut down trade. Blocking off trade lowers incentives to raise standards.

    Mark Hill

    June 4, 2007 at 7:59 pm

  42. DS, up until know I haven’t been able to grasp what Befuddled or yourself were arguing apart from a cheap shot at open markets.

    As you state now, your point is ” I am arguing for proper information to be provided regarding the conditions under which the food was prepared.”
    There’s nothing in that statement I disagree with.

    Communist straw men? Hoisted on my own petard? Validates your point? You cannot at once argue that I have raised a straw man only to conclude the straw man proves your point, unless you won’t to have your cake and eat it too.

    I’m quite enamoured to the slow-food movement myself, if only because I like to cook and enjoy the process of making a meal as much as eating it.

    “Govt standards on food handling are violated every day. Been there, done that. Have a look at some studies on hygiene control in fast food outlets.”

    As I said in earlier comment, conceding this doesn’t help your argument, unless you want the label to also read “Beware! This meat might have been used in a meat fight.”

    dover_beach

    June 4, 2007 at 8:12 pm

  43. The argument remains flawed because in the West we have extensive legislative controls on food production and these are the result of government intervention.

    That government rules are broken is par for the course, there is no area of human activity that is exempt from rule breaking. The point is that before government intervention standards were worse and food manufacturers frequenlty engaged in bad practices. Governments had to intervene because neither consumers nor the market was protecting citizens.

    I am not against open markets! How many times must I assert this.?I am all for globalisation but not as an end in itself.

    PS dover-beach, don’t give a rats arse about my argument. I’m interested in what is right, not defending some holy citadel of dogma. You people are the ideologues, I hate ideology. As far as I’m concerned belief systems of any kind are poison to clear thinking.

    Dead Soul

    June 4, 2007 at 8:24 pm

  44. DS, you must have me confused with someone else. Nothing I’ve said has attempted to defend an ideology, and no where do I deny the need for regulation in respect of standards of cleanliness and the like. If you’re concerned with clear thinking you ought to give a rats about your argument, not for ideological reasons, but in order to convince or at least engage your interlocutor.

    “neither consumers or markets”

    Consumers are markets.

    “before government intervention standards were worse and food manufacturers frequenlty engaged in bad practices”

    Do you think this is a factual, rather than an ideological, statement? The whole government/ market failure debate is ideological.

    “The argument [what argument?] remains flawed because in the West we have extensive legislative controls on food production and these are the result of government intervention.”

    To say that legislative enactments are a consequence of government intervention is a tautology. What else could they be? The question is: what initiated the enactment of legislative controls? What made parliaments approve the passage of this sort of legislation? Petitions? Representations from consumer organisations? Reports of Royal Commissions or statutory authorities recognition of emerging health and environmental problems? etc.

    dover_beach

    June 4, 2007 at 9:00 pm

  45. Interesting.

    As I recall this started out as a thread about the influence of the ALP-Left on industry policy. Of course the ALP-Left will have substantial influence in a Rudd government (HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA)

    But on to the topic at hand which I actually care about.

    I think this food thing is actually very important because it does raise certain issues about globalisation.

    We have the arguments of Dead Sould and Dover Beach which say that:

    History has clearly shown that for the greater part companies only take responsibility for such issues when they are forced to do so by governments. And It is also true to say that“History has clearly shown that for the greater part governments only take responsibility for such issues when they are forced to do so by citizens.

    Hence Western industrialism’s comparatively better environmental record than the Soviet Union.

    But the trouble with relying on govt regulations in the global market is a. as DB said they are quite often ignored and b. there is no global government.

    On the other hand as Dead Soul has pointed out consumer power has effected changelike Nike. Given the global communication nexus we can make this process a lot quicker and more reliable. I’m in favour of govt regulation of food supply, processing etc but I think Choice gives me a lot more information than the labels on packages. And I think consumer choices send messages faster and stronger than any committee can.

    Adrienswords

    June 4, 2007 at 9:27 pm

  46. “I think this food thing is actually very important because it does raise certain issues about globalisation.”

    How many people have died as a result of eating bad vietnamese fish, doofus.

    Globalization has been a forces of “great” good in our lives. It has raised the standard of living of the poor… see Chinese… and raised the standard of living in the industrialized world. It has also saved lives on both sides.

    China.. thats obvious.

    Industrialized world….How many people have taken advantage of cheap Chinese products…. How many people say have had enough money left over to say buy new car tyres that saved their lives as a result.

    Befuddled is an idiot if he supports an rich economic nationalist like Dick Smith.

    Funny how Dick Smith made all his money from selling cheap imports and now wants us to buy his rotten Australian cookies. Screw him. He is a dishonest prick.

    Fancy that , Smith sells us cheap electronics in the 80’s and 90’s imported from all over the 3 rd world. He then starts up a food business and criticises imports.

    Amazing.

    JC.

    June 4, 2007 at 9:38 pm

  47. How many people have died as a result of eating bad vietnamese fish, doofus.

    492 652. Prove me wrong.

    Funny how Dick Smith made all his money from selling cheap imports and now wants us to buy his rotten Australian cookies.

    Kinda liked his vegemite tho’. Wasn’t quite it was it. The original recipe. Lost forever it is.

    Adrienswords

    June 4, 2007 at 9:44 pm

  48. And how do you get around the occasional heavy-hand of food regulation? The example of traditional cheeses that require unpasteurized milk being an example.

    dover_beach

    June 4, 2007 at 9:50 pm

  49. I reckon the consumption of traditional cheeses and boutique wines (now I’m getting hungry) would have their own ways of doing things and a very discerning clientelle whom it would not pay to poison. I have been stressing consumer based appraoches to this problem. I wouldn’t get rid of government regs. They might not work $100 but from my experience in Cairo where a whole class at my school got hepatitus from lunch at a now defunct global burger chain I get the feeling they’re better than nothing.

    Incidentally Dead Soul:

    As far as I’m concerned belief systems of any kind are poison to clear thinking.

    Agree.

    Adrienswords

    June 4, 2007 at 11:25 pm

  50. re.
    “Isn’t the logical end-state of the current trading regime in foodstuffs, a Planet chock-full of imbecile mutants??? ”

    I do believe my baseline point, still stands unchallenged.

    Befuddled

    June 5, 2007 at 10:55 am

  51. “logical end-states” to human habits of food consumption?

    Haven’t you noticed the proliferation of cooking shows, health food stores, etc.?

    Look, the only people who will eat in a manner that would reach your “logical end-state” are already imbecile mutants. I, my family, relatives, friends and acquaintances don’t eat in the style you fear ends in “imbecile mutants”.

    Are you being serious anyway? What of the recent scandal in Sydney regarding fish caught in Sydney Harbour (near Homebush) with high concentrations of toxins/ metals. The argument you make depends upon you establishing a rather tenuous relationship b/w free trade and what? You began with an anecdote and have meandered ever since. .

    dover_beach

    June 5, 2007 at 11:38 am

  52. Getting back to the issue of selling dry economic policies to the electorate, round about # 9, it is always going to be tough when the highest profile Liberal shock jock on the Sydney airwaves is still a rabid protectionist.

    It was amusing to see Greiner win a landslide in NSW on a backlash against Federal Labor dryness!! What year was that?

    Twenty years on from the start of public debate on economic rationalism, the lack of understanding on the street is alarming.

    Rafe Champion

    June 5, 2007 at 12:24 pm

  53. re: “You began with an anecdote and have meandered ever since.”

    Not so. My baseline point – that the key assumption/premise implicitly underlying the theory of ‘Comparative Advantage’; which in turn drives ‘globalization’, no longer holds true … vis-a-vis trade in foodstuffs.

    We are only now beginning to see the contours of the tip of the enormous iceberg of foodstuff contamination worldwide.

    Remember virtually every bit of processed food you eat will contain some kind of generic internationally -traded commodity – eg.’gluten’ [easily & undetectably adulterated by eg. Polonium-210] – the true provenance of which is almost impossible to ascertain from labelling.

    I accept that trade in general is a good thing; but trade in foodstuffs is literally rolling a loaded dice & taking your chances.

    Australia is one of the few countries in the world that can become totally autarkic in food production & should become so NOW – with a Helvetic/Germanic regime of purity regulation.

    In fact if a single-issue “Australian Food & Beverage Protection Party” [running on a platform of total foodstuffs autarky]were to contest the upcoming federal election; my bet is that they could snooker at least 15% of the aggregate vote just by showing up.

    Befuddled

    June 5, 2007 at 1:44 pm

  54. Look, you’ve done it again. You say that the key premise of the notion of comparative advantage doesn’t hold true in relation to foodstuffs (unsubstantiated), so we ought to become autarkic in respect of food production.

    But contamination is not related to trade but to industrialisation. If what you say is true of food processing, then it is also true of food processing in Australia for the Australian market.

    Lets say we adopted a “Germanic” purity regulation, why shouldn’t we import goods made to this specifcation overseas? Or, why shouldn’t we export these goods to markets overseas crying out for fresh, uncomtaminated food?

    dover_beach

    June 5, 2007 at 2:03 pm

  55. Befuddled:

    Why don’t you just buy food produced to this standard?

    Alternatively why don’t you start a firm which only markets such products?

    I’ll continue to eat my cheap bottom feeder.

    Mark Hill

    June 5, 2007 at 2:06 pm

  56. I’ll note that two of the three examples given by DS and befuddled were Australian, and they are demanding a foreign code of food purity.

    But we should be autarkic, 😉

    Mark Hill

    June 5, 2007 at 2:08 pm

  57. “My baseline point – that the key assumption/premise implicitly underlying the theory of ‘Comparative Advantage’; which in turn drives ‘globalization’, no longer holds true … vis-a-vis trade in foodstuffs.”

    Dude, you’re a little paranoid about this stuff aren’t you? It’s not as though you don’t have a choice in what you eat.

    As far as I know the only people who have died as a result of food poisoning is from our home grown stuff. However if you think i am wrong here and foreign contaminated food has killed Aussie’s I would like you to tell us.

    Otherwise, globalization is about choice. Eat what you want and let others decide what they wish to eat.

    Stop getting so paranoid about imported fish. It won’t kill you

    JC.

    June 5, 2007 at 2:16 pm

  58. But we should be autarkic

    That’s food for thought

    Bring Back CL's Blog

    June 5, 2007 at 3:06 pm

  59. Adrienswords

    “On the other hand as Dead Soul has pointed out consumer power has effected changelike Nike. Given the global communication nexus we can make this process a lot quicker and more reliable. I’m in favour of govt regulation of food supply, processing etc but I think Choice gives me a lot more information than the labels on packages. And I think consumer choices send messages faster and stronger than any committee can. ”

    Yes, that’s the end game, where with sufficient consumer involvement and greater corporate responsibility to society we don’t need to have governments stepping in. In the meantime however we are confronted with issues that require regulation. People tend to forget that Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations need to be read in the shadow of his Theory of Moral Sentiments. That is, Adam Smith’s ideas were predicated on people behaving responsibly Silly man. We was aware of the danger though:

    [Business leaders] “seldom meet together, even for merriment or diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices”.

    Choice is good Adrienswords, an example of a commercial entity that can displace government involvement.

    You do not jump into deregulation, you move towards it. People who want to revolutonise society are nuts, and that goes for Rudd’s “Education revolution” as well!

    Dead Soul

    June 5, 2007 at 6:58 pm

  60. re: “. People tend to forget that Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations need to be read in the shadow of his Theory of Moral Sentiments.”

    Amen to that.

    Why oh! Why are virtually all economics faculties [are there any that aren’t] throughout the wonderful land of Oz in ABJECT THRALL to the rentier-class propaganda spewed out by Uni. of Chicago Fortune 500-Apparatchiks?

    Befuddled

    June 6, 2007 at 5:04 pm

  61. Is this the anti-bird?

    Mark Hill

    June 6, 2007 at 5:37 pm

  62. Befuddled. They really as a rule. I guess you did poltical economics so you wouldn’t really know.

    JC.

    June 6, 2007 at 5:38 pm

  63. ‘Befuddled’ says it all.

    Rafe Champion

    June 6, 2007 at 8:31 pm


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