Dear, oh dear, as Malcolm’s approval rating sinks by the day, and the eight-week campaign starts to look like a possibly fatal error, the right are going ever so slightly off the rails. There was a whole crop of crazy, which there is no point going through, except for low blows and shits ‘n’ giggles, as the whole squad falls apart. So let’s get started …
In the Weekend Australian, Grace Collier has a bizarre rant about radical union leaders coming to workplaces to stir up unimpressed workers with anti-capitalist rhetoric and … sorry, anti-capitalist rhetoric? Australian union leaders? Which ones? From the SDA? The NUW? The AWU? Or some of the other employer labour management agencies that pass for unions these days?
On the same page, there’s some hot-take political advice from Chris Kenny. Turnbull, having thoroughly turned people off himself with this epic campaign, should threaten another election immediately:
“He must … force the Senate to recognise his mandate or face the voters again. The turmoil and expense of early elections are not attractive but this must be the only way to combat the new obstructionism infecting our politics. The constitutional mechanisms must be invoked.”
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It gets better:
“Does anyone doubt Kevin Rudd would have won a double dissolution in February 2010 based on the rejection of his carbon pollution reduction scheme?”
Well, yes. But wait there’s more:
“Would Abbott not have had his mandate renewed in March 2014 if he had taken Labor on over its failure to axe the carbon tax?”
How? Abbott got the vote from the crossbenches. The man doesn’t appear to understand what the trigger conditions are. He simply yearns for Turnbull to be the leader the right thought Abbott would be — a brinkman, not a poseur. It’s mad, but logical. The right have so little belief in themselves that they require a fresh transfusion of macho to get through it. And at the bottom of the page, Chris Mitchell’s appalling legacy column, surveying the week’s meeja — run so far down the page, if they could print it below the page-cut, they would.
On his blog, the Bolter grrrrrrs about Nick Xenophon’s”’hard-left” protectionism. Hard left? Xenophon’s Catholic centrist politics are channelling the DLP and B.A. Santamaria, who were protectionist from the start. The first thing that happened when the DLP lost power was that Gough Whitlam cut tariffs by 25%. Bolt appears to be trying to sell free-market social conservatism to his readers, along the model so successfully followed in the US by Ted Cruz.
Meanwhile in the AFR, John Roskam has a piece about free markets that is odd, wistful and very wrong. Wounded by accusations that capitalism isn’t moral, Roskam quotes approvingly … Peter Thiel, the crazed Ayn Rand-worshipping libertarian tech billionaire. “Build relationships,” Thiel urged, “you’ll get the best out of life by building durable friendships”. “That,” concludes Roskam, ‘is the essence of capitalism and free markets”. Well, no it bloody isn’t; the essence is the impersonal cash nexus.
Friendships may be A Good Thing, but they’re entirely incidental to its operation. As Hayek observed, the market will always be besieged by “atavistic” moralities, derived from earlier tribal societies. The market, by that account, is a moral system for impersonal life. Which was rather proved by Peter Thiel — who has spent millions anonymously backing a lawsuit against Gawker, in an attempt to bankrupt the publication, because it identified him as gay a few years back (Thiel was already out, but with little publicity). The virtue of selfishness, eh?
The weekend was rounded out by Gerard Henderson, squeezed into one corner of the white Insiders couch, like Benjamin Button left at child services. Gerard was not happy with these attacks on business by Labor and the Greens. “Even if they’re corrupt?” Barrie Cassidy asked. “Well, we’re not nearly as corrupt as most,” Henderson replied.
Yes, it’s far from the worst thing — especially if you’re the Sydney Institute (prop. G Henderson), which for years benefited from the generosity of insurance heavy Rodney Adler, until he became a guest of the NSW prison system in 2005.
Finally, Quadrant — the madness continues. The “rant for squares” continues to demonstrate one reason why it was defunded, with every third online article detailing how it was defunded. The latest takes a new angle: OzCo is defunding poor ole Les Murray, poet and poetry editor. Before anyone rattles the tin-wash dish, it’s worth remembering that poor ole Les has scored something close to a million bucks in government grants, residencies, etc — all the while, like Quadrant, complaining about Marxist grant-givers, etc. No, I don’t think Quadrant should have been defunded. But Les won’t starve. We would have had to defund him years earlier for that.