Friday, March 07, 2008

Howard the coward?

Since losing the last election former PM Howard went into hiding, refusing to talk to the Australian media. Instead he slunk off to Washington to have a well paid whinge to ‘a friends of George Bush’ convention.

(right:
Former Australian prime minister John Howard delivers the 2008 Irving Kristol Lecture.)

Howard is still defending his failed industrial relations policy while on the lecture circuit in Washington. Rather than comment here in Australia he told an audience at a Washington conservative think tank that it was a mistake for Labor to reverse the workplace changes.

It is a gutless act, of course, but reflects the fact that most of us think he is wrong on the issue; wrong enough to kick out of office. Secret research handed to the Howard government, before the election, showed its $46 million taxpayer-funded advertising campaign to promote Work Choices failed dismally.

John Howard finds friends

But in a world lacking in friends Howard knows where he can still connect. Outfits like the American Enterprise Institute are wiling to pay big money and shower the has been with dubious awards; i.e., the Irving Kristol award. (Speech extract)

“The Irving Kristol Award replaces the Francis Boyer Award, AEI's highest annual award for the past twenty-five years. Named for a distinguished chief executive of SmithKline in the 1940s and 1950s, the Boyer Award was first conferred in 1977, on former president Gerald R. Ford.”

How is that, an award in the name of profit ahead of human health and wellbeing. Howard is happy to be feted by crooks but I hope they are running out of time as well. The AEI is an unapologetic right wing cheer squad, far too right for anyone the Democrats might throw into the White House.

Most of all I’m just disgusted that the craven coward had to slink off to these cretins to somehow justify his past. I can’t remember any former Aussie leader who has been too gutless to respond to the Australian people, even in defeat.

If the best Howard can do is suck up to a bunch of corporate crooks and a dead duck president he is really showing his true colours. But after his recent election bombast I want to see him have the guts to face Australians and deliver the crap he is delivering now in the US.

2 comments:

lindsaylobe said...

This comment responds to this post and your previous on widgets.

I think the present Govt in Australia has made as splendid start in their first 100 days.

I think what has been exposed is how idelogically bent and bereft of ideas the previous Govt has become.

Howard is still back there with his minorities in the USA.

Turning to another subject
I think Lobbyists generally present a biased view of those they represent and I trust the current Govt Ministers don’t become too involved with them.

Nowhere is the effect of misguided policy fuelled by lobbyists more apparent than in the USA under the guise of “social goals," with weak monetary policy that allowed for an excessive build up in easy credit world wide; to favour sub prime type lending tied up with Bush’s idea of an “ownership society”. Foreclosure are now becoming the norm, with unsold stocks around 1 million and untold misery exported all over the world.

So far the Federal Reserve has been able to stave off a very severe credit crunch but it may not be able to do this indefinitely. New information has just come to the market as published in the Wall Street Journal and through Bloomberg about which financial firms are unable to cover their secured credit positions and hence where their credit is more suspect,which overnight sent stocks plummeting once gain as the contagion (unwarranted in my view) took hold here to day with renewed savagery. In both Europe and US the rates Banks charge each other for short term loans are rising as is the cost to buy insurance against Bank debts default which is some cases is now 20 times that of a year previous.

Part of the problem I think is that most under 55’s have never had to deal with a real credit crunch, (they don’t know what to do) and so it’s likely to be a more drawn out affair until we return to equilibrium.
In Australia $ 45 billion of additional liquidity was provided in the form of facilities made available to the Australian banks in the past few months from the Federal Reserve Bank.
So I think there is good opportunity to make widgets, but within constraints of the current turmoil, and with policy settings that ensure our current imbalance is also brought back into a more sustainable level.

The other lesson I think that is relevant concerns the Federal Reserves, what is not realized is that had they not injected simultaneously around the world those massive amounts into the capital markets (Australia Federal Reserve was $45 billion but with much bigger amounts for the US, UK ~Bank of England and Europe) we would now be on the cusp of a world wide very serious credit crunch and consequent recession.
Thank goodness Australia has a relatively strong banking sector that only became a very minor player in low doc loans, similar to the prime mortgage fiasco and that Federal Reserve Boards can act independently and quickly to help restore confidence in the markets. But they can only do that short term, in the absence of good policy the bubles will continue.

The new govt may need to take a more Churchillian stance. Swan might be well advised to tell everyone to buckle down and save a sufficiently large deposit for any intended house purchase, avoid large loans, release more government land, reduce stamp duties and advocate smaller houses. There no such thing as a free lunch. How about sending him that political message along those lines ?

These might even be more viable widgets of common sense that seemed to escape the previous administration!

Best wishes

Cart said...

Lindsay, again your expansion of the subject is spot on. I have been cutting my word count down, but hope from your response the message comes through. Thank you.
It is a shame our coastal heaven is so blighted by crooks.