Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Vote for Generational Change

For various reasons I've been thinking this year about the messiness and necessity of generational change. I think I might finally be beginning to understand all those Greek myths where the son kills the father.

For the moment at least, I am planning to cast my electorate vote this year against my sitting MP. This means voting for a young, allegedly liberal, woman from the National party. It's not an easy decision and I may yet change my mind.

The Labour party is still my political home and I'm giving them my party vote trusting that in six years time everyone who sat around a Cabinet table or in a Labour party caucus room in the 80's will have retired and we will be electing a talented and enthusiastic new Labour-led Government.

In the meantime social democrats should be contemplating the extraordinary testimony of Alan Greenspan.

We will agree with John Quiggin on this point

Coming to substance, quite a few people have argued that the crisis doesn’t really signify very much, and that, once it is resolved, things will return to pretty much the way they were a couple of years ago. I disagree.

This concession of error by Alan Greenspan is, I think, pretty strong evidence against the view that the crisis is not so significant, in policy or ideological terms.

We'll also agree that news of the "great moderation" was premature.

As taxpayers we will want a say in the running of banks or other private businesses that we underwrite or take shares in.

In contemplating the future it seems to me that like many Australians, including the current Treasurer, we should be thinking about Labor Prime Minister Ben Chifley in these times of financial crisis. (There is a new documentary on his fascinating life to show on the ABC.)

Chifley took over from wartime Labor Prime Minister Curtin who is credited with forming the Australia-US alliance and who died in office. He lost power in the early fifties after trying to to nationalize the banks, after sending in the army to break up a mining strike and after failing to totally overcome Communist influence in the Australian union movement and Labor party. I've been learning about him from Bob Ellis's book "Goodbye Jerusalem".

Near the end of his life Chifley said

I remember when in the thirties because of the banks hundreds of thousands of breadwinners were thrown on a pitiful dole. Farmers were sold up and shopkeepers closed their doors, and insecurity, misery and want were forced upon our people. We are determined with all the power that we command that that shall not happen again.

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