Crikey readers have their say on second-hand cars, whether the market or the government should guide industry, and the sensationalist coverage of Amanda Knox.
Knox trial pure voyeurism
Peter Lange writes: Re. “Rundle: Amanda Knox’s story, full of violence and lies” (yesterday). What was Guy Rundle actually writing about? I tried to read past the first paragraph but when I realised he was both contradicting himself and yet failing to justify his further serving of lurid crime faction, I lost interest. Amateur detective fantasies of journalists who ought to know better are not why I read Crikey. Pull your socks up and get serious, Crikey. Trash.
Let the market decide
Tamas Calderwood writes: Re. “Toyota exit without an industry policy is economic vandalism” (yesterday). Paddy Manning wants the government to indicate where the “new jobs for manufacturing workers [are] going to come from — if not precisely, at least roughly?” He also suggests green-energy subsidies and the government-funded NBN could help to create the “industries of the future”.
But who saw the mobile computing revolution before the iPhone? Even Microsoft missed it, let alone governments. And how does the mobile revolution play into the fixed-line government-funded NBN? In 1995 information technology was 6.4% of the global equity market while telecommunications was 5%. Today, IT is over 12% of the global market while telecoms has shrunk to less than 4%. Furthermore, governments didn’t plan the fracking revolution that has created abundant new low-cost energy supplies — energy was 5% of the global market in 1995 and has expanded to 9% today, while industrial stocks have fallen from over 14% to around 11% today.
How do governments plan for all that? They can’t. Central planning simply doesn’t work. The only thing governments can do is stand back and let the market decide — to grow an industry, shrink an industry, innovate and from time-to-time, sideswipe an incumbent. Economic growth is a bottom up process, driven by people on the ground who listen to their clients, spot new opportunities, take a risk and figure out how to do something better, quicker, cheaper. Governments should lower taxes, create a business-friendly environment (including education, infrastructure and the rule of law), and get out of the way. It is government intervention that usually turns out to be “economic vandalism”.
Say no to foreign second-hand cars
Mary Trewby writes: Re. “Toyota decision should herald the immediate end of car tariffs” (yesterday). There is a very good reason for not following New Zealand’s mass importation of used cars. The cars’ histories were often unreliable (and often this only became obvious when the car needed to be repaired), parts were unavailable for many models ( and some strange models ended up there), and there were even instances when one car contained parts from two or more wrecks. New Zealand ended up with a lot of cars that should have been sent to the wreckers in their country of origin rather than be imported — they were unsafe and broke lots of environmental regulations. Do some serious research before recommending Australia adopt the same policy.