2019 Battle Lines: Capitalism and Growth (L-N) versus Socialism and Degrowth (ALP)

The story is from the US and about them but applies to us just as well: 2020 Battle Lines: Capitalism and Growth (R) versus Socialism and Degrowth (D). Here is much of the article but there is more at the link.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RG9N4ZP5MQA

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a character familiar to anyone who has spent substantial time on campuses in the past two decades

She’s a walking, talking social justice warrior soundbite machine, someone whose knowledge is a mile wide and an inch deep. Social media, where she excels, is perfect for shallow but woke wisdom.

At one level, she is the gift Donald Trump and Republicans could not have hoped for in their wildest dreams. Her wacky Green New Deal is so preposterous in many of its details and in its totality, it is a caricature. It’s a prime example of what I call Progressive or Parody?, where it’s “very hard to distinguish progressive political and social positions from parody.”

That four of the leading Democrat presidential candidates (Harris, Warren, Booker, Gillibrand) rushed to co-sponsor or endorse the Green New Deal will be a theme Republicans will drive home from today through Election Day 2020. That these four kneecapped themselves as General Election candidates is Ocasio-Cortez’s greatest accomplishment (for Republicans) so far.

At another level, though, Ocasio-Cortez should be taken seriously precisely because she is a character familiar to anyone who has spent time on campuses in the past two decades. She represents an ignorant ahistorical adoration for socialism that has captured a significant portion of the Democratic Party. Socialists like Ocasio-Cortez are the energy in the Democratic Party, which explains why presidential candidates immediately jumped on her bandwagon.

Capitalism versus Socialism is one battle line for 2020. Whether or not the ultimate Democrat nominee endorses the Green New Deal, the Green New Deal will be made to be the Democrat platform whether Democrats like it or not. Let’s have a vote on Capitalism versus Socialism.

At another level, it’s not just Capitalism versus Socialism. In listening to a 2015 audio of Mark Levin, I heard a term I had not heard before: Degrowth.

What is Degrowth? An academic association devoted to Degrowth describes it as follows:

Sustainable degrowth is a downscaling of production and consumption that increases human well-being and enhances ecological conditions and equity on the planet. It calls for a future where societies live within their ecological means, with open, localized economies and resources more equally distributed through new forms of democratic institutions. Such societies will no longer have to “grow or die.” Material accumulation will no longer hold a prime position in the population’s cultural imaginary. The primacy of efficiency will be substituted by a focus on sufficiency, and innovation will no longer focus on technology for technology’s sake but will concentrate on new social and technical arrangements that will enable us to live convivially and frugally. Degrowth does not only challenge the centrality of GDP as an overarching policy objective but proposes a framework for transformation to a lower and sustainable level of production and consumption, a shrinking of the economic system to leave more space for human cooperation and ecosystems.

Watch this video promoting degrowth, and it sounds a lot like the Green New Deal.

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And in Oz, these people have already blown up power stations and are dead set on a socialist-green agenda. There’s a lot of stupidity around. I just hope there isn’t that much, but we shall see soon enough.

The heavy burden of the Coalition’s Labor left

Let me dwell on the first para of this story in the AFR today titled, Abbott’s plan to axe RET:

The federal government is moving towards abolishing the Renewable Energy Target rather than scaling it back in a move that will cost almost $11 billion in proposed investment and which is at odds with the views of its own Environment Minister.

Let’s parse this sentence bit by bit.

Scaling back the RET is described as “a move that will cost almost $11 billion in proposed investment”. “Investment” is one of those hurrah words so that anything that can be described as investment is automatically given a warm reception. What cutting the RET will actually do is cut almost $11 billion dollars of waste. Eleven bil on more windmills and solar panels would not get you back ten cents in the dollar. Stopping such expenditure dead in its tracks will only promote future economic growth, or at least it will if the government doesn’t decide to spend the money itself in some other totally useless way.

The second bit is that this decision “is at odds with the views of its own Environment Minister”. This, alas, is one of the great problems with the Coalition. It really is a coaltion. Labor is too, but it’s a coalition of the left, the far left and the loony left, each branch of which could comfortably fit into the Greens. The Coalition is made up of conservatives, small-l liberals, libertarians, the centre right and the centre left. The centre left as it happens overlaps the Labor left and could also comfortably fit into the Greens. The centre left is a very strong tail that wags the dog.

I, however, and most others who voted for the Coalition did not seek to preserve the Green legacy of economic ignorance, nor for that matter did we seek to maintain the Martin Parkinson/Ken Henry school of Keynesian economic mis-management.

Here is the message: DO NOT SPEND MONEY ON ANY SINGLE INVESTMENT THAT WILL NOT OF ITSELF AND ON ITS OWN PROVIDE A POSITIVE RETURN ON FUNDS EMPLOYED IN A REASONABLE PERIOD OF TIME (LET US SAY THE NEXT THREE YEARS). If you can’t see a return, and prove it in a published cost-benefit study, don’t do it.

I don’t say you shouldn’t provide welfare. By all means provide welfare. Let us look after the sick, the aged and the disabled. But here, since the demands are near infinite, judicious allocations of funds will be required. But while welfare expenditures may be important for those who are unable to work or are too old to work, none of these expenditures will promote economic growth and future prosperity.

We do not have an infinite pool of productive resources. We must prioritise. Removing renewable energy targets is pure profit for the economy, a 100% benefit. So would getting rid of paid parental leave. Get rid of them both at once. I wish the NBN was also up for grabs since getting rid of it would also be a net positive.

And I should finally mention since I am throwing it all into the pot, do not raise taxes on anything in any part of the economy. If the kinds of revenues you are in receipt of are insufficient to pay for everything in the basket, then take some things out of the basket.

The Coalition’s Labor Left is a heavy burden that is weighing down good decision making.

Did you think everyone was going to love the budget on sight?

In the news this morning, Coalition to step up budget sales pitch, as MPs voice concerns.

FINANCE Minister Mathias Cormann has flagged a new taxpayer-funded advertising campaign to market the budget, amid backbench frustration over cabinet’s sales pitch.

It’s not just the cabinet that’s a frustrated. You were elected to keep Labor out of the Lodge for six years and maybe nine. There were many things that needed to be done, with fixing 18C a low priority and getting the economy right second from the top, just after stopping the boats. The boats have been stopped, but by 2016, even Shorten will work out what he has to say. I won’t believe him, but that’s not the point since millions will.

But it’s the economy, stupid. The great political genius of Labor was to store the spending outside the forward estimates so that the don’t immediately show up. I think I know that, but if it’s true, I only just know it and I am paying attention.

You have done a hopeless job of selling anything. If you have a message, I don’t know what it is. If you stand for anything other than that you are better economic managers than Labor, I don’t know what it is? Think then about how strange this is:

Tony Abbott last night hosted a private dinner for a large group of backbenchers ahead of the meeting to personally reassure MPs and provide further information about the budget.

Only now they are giving information about the budget to the backbench?!? This is bizarre and pathetic. And how bout this:

Some Coalition MPs are frustrated about directives from the Prime Minister’s office that limited the media exposure of senior Coalition figures ahead of the budget, allowing Labor to fill the void with criticism of budget measures.

Well, at least from here you have nowhere to go but up.

Coalition self-preservation and the ABC

This is the UK:

The first rules on state regulation of the press for more than 300 years will be set out this week.

It is a disgrace for any government but for one that goes under the name of Conservative it is beyond disgraceful. It is a contagion that is likely to spread.

Meanwhile we have a rogue state-funded broadcaster who sees its role to be the government-in-exile when the Coalition sits to the right of the speaker. Let us go to the scandal de jour for a quick run through.

So far as testing the limit of their expenses, everyone in Parliament seems to do it, which is bad. But all of this information has been available for as long as you might wish but is being made an issue now and really only for one side of politics. The ABC in particular thinks it is an issue only in relation to the Coalition and will not make much of anything in relation to Labor of what is a bi-partisan form of creaming. Blog sites are not an effective counterweight to a billion dollar national megaphone.

So my real point is that this repulsively-biased publicly-funded anti-Coalition media organisation has to be wound back. Its Managing Director – in fact the entire organisation – is basically saying to the government stuff you, come and get us if you can. Well all I can say is that if the Coalition has even the remotest sense of self preservation they will take the ABC up on this offer and the sooner the better. We no longer need a state funded media organisation assuming we ever did. And if it cannot be shut down, make it pay its own way. We will then see just how popular Q&A really is when it has to attract advertising to cover the cost of bringing its drivel to air.

In fact, take away the ABC funding and give everyone a publicly funded licence to a basic Fox subscription or make a Fox subscription tax deductible if you want to provide access to a broader cultural suite of programs. In this day and age, a public broadcaster is an anachronism that should be preserved for totalitarian states and banana republics.