Tuesday, October 16, 2007

ALP label responsible scrutiny as scare

From Andrew Bolt, "Rudd is a Fraud"
Business strategist and Labor voter Paul Kerin picks Kevin Rudd for a fraud:

"Rudd says he’s a social conservative and economic liberal, but he’s neither. He’s really a moderate social progressive and an economic recidivist…

Rudd depicts the “real battle of ideas in Australian politics” as the “battle between free market fundamentalism and the social-democratic belief that individual reward can be balanced with social responsibility”. This depiction - replete with false mutual exclusivities (free market v social responsibility) and put-down labels (free market fundamentalism) - implies that anyone who supports free markets must be a selfish bastard who doesn’t care about social goals. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Rudd confuses three crucial concepts: values, goals and means. The values and individual preferences of any community’s citizens should drive the goals that its government seeks to achieve; government should choose the best means to achieve these goals. Rudd puts the cart before the horse. His attack on free marketeers is entirely values-based, a tirade against what he sees - incorrectly and, quite frankly, offensively - as their values.

This reflects Rudd’s misunderstanding of what economics is all about. It’s about means; specifically, the best means to achieve whatever goals a community’s citizens, collectively and individually, want to achieve. Markets and governments are merely two means that may help (or hinder) us in meeting these ends."

So why did I say Rudd was a fraud, and not just confused? Because Kerin is rightly astonished by Rudd’s attacks on Adam Smith and FA Hayek:

"Ironically, (Rudd) claims (free market) fundamentalists “distort Smith, adopting his Wealth of Nations while ignoring ... his The Theory of Moral Sentiments”. I can’t believe that an intelligent, reflective man such as Rudd has read either book. If he had, he would not have drawn this conclusion. It is a gross distortion…

Rudd clearly hasn’t read Hayek either. His only evidence on Hayek’s values are quotes from former communist and non-economist David McKnight… Rudd hardly deserves criticism just because he hasn’t read the great books of economics. Few economists have either. But he does deserve criticism for dumping on them - and, more important, for rejecting valuable means of achieving his goals - simply because he has swallowed populist ideological drivel about these books as if it were gospel."

* Professor Neil Warren notes some problems with Kevin Rudd’s generally well-received tax policy - and especially with the tax breaks for “students” computers.

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