The two sides of politics

Look Tony, you just gotta stop trying to convince the other side that you’re not all the bad things they say you are. There are two sides in politics everywhere. There are the normal people of common sense who understand we do not live in a perfect world.

And then there’s the other side. These are the people who look for the outrage-du-jour, who are always dissatisfied, who are always complaining about how bad things are and it’s someone else’s fault. They are filled with discontent and envy. This is the coalition of the miserable that Labor tries to bring together. You are never going to win them over. All you can do is run the country as well as you can. But for heaven’s sake, you have nothing to prove to such people. They are a danger to you and to us. Their misery is personal. Nothing that can be done at the political level will satisfy them.

Let me take you back to a post of mine from December 2012: Gillard’s misogyny speech was written by a man. It was written by John McTernan, her chief of staff. This is what I wrote:

I had actually thought at the time that as much as I found her speech vile and divisive, that it had been her own true self finally exposed to the light of day. Not a bit of it. She was merely repeating the words and sentiments put there by some male, a male who saw political advantage in her saying what she said. If he did not think there was political advantage, she would not have said what she said. It’s the reverse of the politics of conviction. It is the politics of the con.

You will hand this country back to them if you do not start making your case, which I can see that you are. This is what I said about them then.

Pointing out the phoney outrage of the Labor Party has to be at the top of Coalition policy in the election to come along with an emphasis on how worthless their promises are. Their specialty is outrage and discontent. They do not have a platform so much as a plan of revenge on behalf of the bitter and envious combined with a series of plans to spend vast amounts of money they do not have.

They are the singularly incompetent. On no issue has this government been a success. Nothing they promise to do ever gets done.

They cannot stop the boats. They cannot balance the budget. They cannot maintain economic growth. They cannot build the NBN. They cannot improve our education system. They cannot maintain national defence. They cannot reduce carbon emissions. They cannot keep living costs down. They can’t even devise a tax on the mining industry that actually raises revenue.

We have started the long trek back to stability, even though the same people who caused the problem in the first place are refusing to cooperate in fixing what they acknowledged were problems when they were in government themselves. They are people who would apparently cause major and lasting damage to this country for political advantage. You are better than them morally, but in politics you also have to be better than them by getting more votes.

The German election

The German election is another milestone of governments moving to the right with the re-election of Obama the standout exception. But my interest is the economic policies that led to such a stunning outcome. Where is the textbook that will explain any of this to you?

During the campaign, Merkel said that insisting on reforms in euro countries that received aid was the only way to raise Europe’s competitiveness, citing the fall in German joblessness from a post-World War II high of 12.1 percent in 2005 following a labor-market overhaul. The German unemployment rate is now 6.8 percent compared to 12.1 in the 17-nation euro region. German 10-year bond yields are 1.94 percent, while comparable U.K. gilts yield 2.92 percent and U.S. debt 2.73 percent. . . .

For now, with wages rising and the budget deficit virtually eliminated, voters backed her handling of the domestic economy, and her push for austerity in the euro zone in exchange for aid.

Right now I have arrived at the macro section of my course and am teaching the standard aggregate demand-aggregate supply mantra of the 99%. It just strikes me as utterly incredible that this is still what we make every student of economics learn. Evidence based policy is not much in evidence it seems to me.