small business initiative, checks lazy government waste and puts downward pressure on interest rates for working people? Me sir! Me sir! Just bend me over the desk for a moment and flash me your fiscal rectitude.
Isn't the state of economic journalism clear by now? After the earnest and profound economic policy debates of the 1980s, we seem have devolved into a pale imitation of that in our modern political discourse - one in which one side and then the other stage a predictable pantomime that bears little resemblance to our lived reality.
I spoke in the previous post about the now ritualised surplus fetish (which as Ross Gittins points out is itself a reflection of the media's free pass to the Coalition as 'super economic manager' and of business economists' gutless complicity in that myth). Now it's time to take down the Big One - the idea that the Daddy Party has defacto dibbs on the Prime Economic Levers.
Gittins made an entirely reasonable and overdue point: How does the mainstream economic commentariat, employed largely by the nation's banks and its major media publishers, manage to keep up without realistic challenge the charade that the clown's circus of Abbott, Hockey, Robb and Joyce somehow reflects a better solution for what ails us?
(Reality Interlude: What 'ails' us, according to most reasonable and educated people, is an economy feeling the full effects of a once-in-a-century externally generated boom in demand for its finite raw materials, which if we don't manage correctly, will leave us like a Qantas jet after a south-east Asian engineering pit-stop - flying on one engine and out of VB).
In the meantime, the yawning, gullible public (according to the opinion polls) adopts the default stance that the conservative parties are the better economic managers. On what reality this is based is not exactly clear, given the ALP made all the hard reforms in the 1980s and Howard/Costello merely introduced the GST, delivered a good first budget and then spent 11 years subsidising asset-rich retirees and calling them battlers.
But as we have grown accustomed to from Australian media circles (and in a trend that mirrors the irrationalist US Right and its media cheer squad) the truth is rarely a major concern for the nation's economic commentators' who prefer to hoe the already furrowed field that spares them the effort of dreaming up new narratives and threatening the Tories' inexhaustible get-of-jail-free card.
That's why much of the media shrugged its collective shoulders when the Coalition's then finance spokesman Barnaby Joyce threatened to break up the assets of Australia's banks (among the top-rated financial institutions in the world), or when Tony Abbott said a more responsible response to climate change was to subsidise polluters with taxpayers' money or when Joe Hockey suggested you can grant tax cuts, tighten fiscal policy and lower interest rates all in one Lindsayesque (as in Norman, not Penrith) magic pudding.
And now, they're doing it again. Peter Martin, one of the few real economic journalists out there, has revealed the dodgy, behind-the-bike-sheds arithmetic on which the Coalition costed its policy promises ahead of the federal election last year. Mind you, we knew this was the case. In fact, Laura Tingle, another rare, real journalist recently won a Walkley for speaking the truth on the issue. Nobody listened.
Unfortunately, few people read the AFR or The Age. They listen to talkback radio and take their cues from journalists (careerists?) at the Herald Sun and the Daily Telegraph and commercial television, who are excited by regime change and will not let the facts get in the way of their pursuit of their chosen narrative - of incompetent Labor government, botching policy over and over, waiting for its final execution at the hands of a brilliant and innovative Coalition front bench.
What is it going to take the Australian population to wake up to this con job? When are people going to realise that a plutocrat, US-based billionaire - playing his role as the common man railing against the 'elites' - is wilfuly distorting reality so as to eat their lunch and those of their children? Presumably it will take a recession, though if it happens on Labor's watch (even in a global recession) one can imagine the Tories dining out for years on how they cleaned up the ALP mess.
In the meantime, did you see Today Tonight's brave expose of the campaign by Aussie risk-taking entrepreneur Gerry Harvey to take on the online pirates? Don't you just love the gutsiness of the Australian media- standing up for the true-blue small business people against those socialists in Canberra?
Oi Oi Oi.