Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Kevin Rudds economic ignorance

Peter Saunders writes an excellent piece criticising Kevin Rudd and his economic ignorance, which he plainly displayed for the world to see when he wrote a nasty hit-piece called "Howard’s Brutopia" late in 2006.

Whilst John Howard is hardly the embodiment of free market leadership, and his Liberal Party don't spend much effort adhering to its core principles, he is by far a safer bet than Kevin Rudd when it comes to appreciating free trade and identifying the dangers of regulation and central planning.

Saunders' summary:


Kevin Rudd’s recent reflections on capitalism, community and the Australian family represent the latest in a long line of Leftist arguments claiming that markets weaken social cohesion while governments strengthen it. But we have seen that this claim is empty and there is no evidence to support it. If anything, it is government intervention, rather than reduced regulation, that has been weakening family and community life.

It is unfortunate that Rudd should have chosen to kick off his leadership of the Labor Party by associating himself with such a discredited and tainted set of arguments and assertions, for not only is his claim wrong, but it is damaging to his credentials as a genuine reformer. As Noel Pearson notes, claims like these have more often been made by people who oppose the market reforms of the last twenty years and who feel threatened by ‘the uncertainty and rapid change of the modern, prosperous economy.’[27] Rudd is not one of these people. He claims to be a supporter of the market. He is a Labor moderniser, not an old-school reactionary. But the image he has created for himself with his recent rhetoric makes him sound more like ‘Old Labor’ than an advocate of the so-called ‘Third Way’ to which he says he is attracted

There is no future for a labor party which defines itself in terms of limiting and regulating the market. If Rudd really wants to carve out a distinctive political niche for himself, he should be thinking instead of how to use markets to give ordinary people more control over the key areas of their lives still colonised by governments—their health care, their welfare and their children’s education. Radical thinkers on the left are starting to discuss policy options like medical savings accounts and school vouchers, and they are openly debating the best way to reduce people’s dependency on government welfare hand-outs. These are the debates Rudd should be connecting with. That way he will not only win elections—he will also end up strengthening family and community life by restoring people’s responsibility for organising things for themselves.