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49 responses to “The Australian economy's biggest problem? Barack Obama”

  1. murph the surf.

    You could also consider the manner in which Congress works to be making things much more difficult to address problems directly.
    One commentator – not Keating also pointed out it was Geithner who was then in a supervisory role at the New York Reserve Bank (?)- one of the banks making up the group of Federal reserve banks when the decision was made to let Lehmann Brothers sink.
    It appears that the price that should be paid for the non performing assets, all those derivative contracts should be zero but that will collapse the banking system.
    Do you think any politician will be able to address the nation and ask them to face the facts that years of living on borrowed money was stupid and a facile way to try and build a strong economy ?
    The US real-estate market will grind it’s way lower and those who don’t walk out of their deals will have negative equity but those who do will leave the banks worse off. Lose lose all around.
    Now we enter the world of quantative easing . This really means pumping out billions into the money markets and hoping we don’t ignite hyperinflation. Of course we can all avoid the temptation to borrow and spend and crash into a decade of stagflation or even deflation. Do you think we have another option?
    In a fit of collective madness ( and this is a global need)we could mark everything to market – settle all debts as able, move those individuals and companies as needed into bankruptcy administration and recapitalise the banks . Currencies could also be adjusted as necessary .
    There are too many vested interests still with too much power over these decisions- in their efforts to retain the gains they have made in the past 30 years these interests would rather impoverish us all rather than accept that they must be declared to have failed.
    The pernicious influence of the lobbyists and cartels need to be confronted but I don’t think this generation of politicians are able to move beyond the the conditioning they see as commonsense but is really a product of the distortions of the neoliberal era.

  2. Katz

    Certain revisionist folk claim that nationalisation is “as American as cherry pie” and point to the activities of the FDIC as proof of this proposition.

    This revisionist notion is simplistic.

    A perusal of the lists of banks and other institutions taken over by the FDIC indicates that they are minnows of the US banking system.

    The Obama administration is faced with a much more sensitive issue than nationalising the Second Boondocks Bank of East Jesus. The institutions at question in the present financial collapse represent the commanding heights of the US financial system.

    Some very big vested interests will take a severe haircut if nationalisation entails nullification or dilution of the equity of current shareholders.

    Nationalisation represents a serious breach of a normally cosy relationship between the political and financial elites of the US.

    Obama is therefore “dithering” for a very understandable reason.

  3. professor rat

    During the Great French revolution a great re-distribution of wealth took place as the Church lost a lot of its absolutist power and influence. Today’s religions still control billions and so that money would buy us some precious time. Personally I’m fairly conservative and so I think we should stick to the tried and true. Take from the large wealthy churches and give to the poor.

  4. Paul Burns

    Its this notion of quantitive easing and potentional consequences. Tried some years ago in Japan, it apparently achieved little. It was but one of the contributors to Zimbabwe being an economic basket case. And of course, with the Weimar Republic, it eventually led to the rise and rise of German fascism, with the dreadful consequences we are all aware of.
    There isa no reason to suppose that printing money will not again lead to hyperinflation with the destructive socio-economuc consequences we have seen so recently in Zimbabwe.’
    One of my main fears about the GFC and the utter inability of governments the world over to grasp the necessary socialist nettle which is the only way out of the mess, is the likelihood of the rise of variants of neo-fascism. Fascist vigilante groups are being encouraged by Belesconi in Italy, the British Government has grave fears about the likely strengthening of the BNP and the consequent left wing reaction leading to violence on the streets, and here, we are seeing signs of an upsurge of economic nationalism (though not from governments yet, still wedded to the idea that somehow they can restore a collapsed capitalist system to normality). The signs I refer to are protests against immigrant skilled labor and against Pacific workers being espoused by some unions. (As this impression is gained mostly from watching TV, I have no print links.)
    A recent thread on LP highlighted violence towards Indian migrants. Now, I don’t know if this a continuation of the Howard dog-whistle we’ve so grown used to, or a sign of the incipient fascism I fear. Anyway, that’s what I think about what’s going on.

  5. Mr HopeNchange

    Paul mate,

    Fascism and socialism are just two sides of the same coin. They are not opposites. Look at Chávez – he claims to be a socialist but is becoming more like a thug every day. Mugabe also claims to be a marxist and look at the mess he’s made. For all the books you read you sure don’t learn much.

  6. Eli

    Paul, leaving aside specific ideological characterisation, I agree that one of the more dangerous consequences is the (potential) return of nationalism. We have already seen ‘Britain for British workers’ sloganeering and it is bound to worsen.

    I find it interesting that MArk’s post refers to a crisis of ideology. Rudd had fingered neo-liberalism although there is only very tenous evidence for that. Let’s assume that the tenets of neo-liberalism are free trade, privatisation and de-regulation. The financial crisis in turn was caused by a combination of global savings imbalances, property bubbles in the US and some other Western economies, spread of new and badly understood financial technologies, and lack of oversight of US and UK investment banks and hedge funds. There is only one area of significant overlap: regulation. Thankfully, Rudd does identify it – lack thereof – as the main problem but this is hardly enough to conclude that the entire edifice of ‘neo-liberalism’ is out of the window. In other words, we have here a number of specific practical problems rather than a philosophical failing.

  7. Paul Burns

    Mr. HopeNoChange,
    They’re not. Read up on Fascism, if you doubt me. (And please, don’t make the error of confusing the continuation of a repressive Czarist oligarchy under the name of Socialism, but without the Czar, with genuine socialism.
    You’re very wrong about Chavez. I can’t be bothered getting into that debate.

  8. Ziggy

    America’s power elite is still playing the ‘America is too big to fail’ and ‘American interests’ game. The longer the power elite let the game run without resetting the scorecards – at the banks, in international fora like the IMF or G20 (having studiously avoided doing anything much since October), and for a bankrupt government and political culture – the more tunnelling and looting there is being done still, right in plain view, at a national and supranational scale. Time to send America to Chapter 11, moral hazard and all.

  9. Mr HopeNchange

    I have read up on Fascism Paul, just not the one sided ones that you obviously read. These two systems are ideological brothers where the state is all powerful. They are both anti capitalist and have more in common than not. It is to the advantage of those with an authoritarian streak to try to distinguish the two and make out that they are opposites. It is no accident that Mussolini was a Socialist before he became a Fascist.

    As for Chávez – are you saying he’s not a thug or not a Socialist?

  10. Mr HopeNchange

    And here is the leftist Roosevelt:

    Were Hitler’s economic policies in the 1930s, however, significantly different from those of Roosevelt, his counterpart in the United States? On the contrary, there was a striking similarity between FDR’s New Deal and the methods that Hitler used to get Germany out of the Depression. Both FDR and Hitler instituted massive government spending campaigns, including public-works programs, to bring full employment to their countries. In the United States, for example, there was the Hoover Dam. In Germany, there was the national autobahn system.

    The Nazis also imposed an extensive system of governmental control over German businesses. Was Roosevelt’s approach any different? Consider FDR’s pride and joy, his National Recovery Act, which was characterized by the infamous Blue Eagle. With the NRA, the U.S. government required entire industries to combine into government-protected cartels, and directed them to fix wages and prices in their respective industries. If a businessman refused to go along, he faced prosecution and punishment, not to mention protest demonstrations from Blue Eagle supporters. (The Supreme Court ultimately declared the NRA unconstitutional.)

    Let’s also not forget the important paternalistic elements of Hitler’s national socialism: Social Security, national health care, public schooling, and unemployment compensation. Sound familiar?

    Hitler himself showed keen insight into this matter. In his biography Adolf Hitler, John Toland writes, “Hitler had genuine admiration for the decisive manner in which the President had taken over the reins of government. ‘I have sympathy for Mr. Roosevelt,’ he told a correspondent for the New York Times two months later, ‘because he marches straight toward his objectives over Congress, lobbies and bureaucracy.’ Hitler went on to note that he was the sole leader in Europe who expressed ‘understanding of the methods and motives of President Roosevelt.

  11. Mr HopeNchange

    More on the new deal:

    “Critics of Roosevelt’s New Deal often liken it to fascism. Roosevelt’s numerous defenders dismiss this charge as reactionary propaganda; but as Wolfgang Schivelbusch makes clear, it is perfectly true. Moreover, it was recognized to be true during the 1930s, by the New Deal’s supporters as well as its opponents…..

    The Nazi press enthusiastically hailed the early New Deal measures: America, like the Reich, had decisively broken with the “uninhibited frenzy of market speculation.” The Nazi Party newspaper, the Voelkischer Beobachter, “stressed ‘Roosevelt’s adoption of National Socialist strains of thought in his economic and social policies,’ praising the president’s style of leadership as being compatible with Hitler’s own dictatorial Fuehrerprinzip” (p. 190).

    Nor was Hitler himself lacking in praise for his American counterpart. He “told American ambassador William Dodd that he was ‘in accord with the President in the view that the virtue of duty, readiness for sacrifice, and discipline should dominate the entire people. These moral demands which the President places before every individual citizen of the United States are also the quintessence of the German state philosophy, which finds its expression in the slogan “The Public Weal Transcends the Interest of the Individual”‘” (pp. 19-20). A New Order in both countries had replaced an antiquated emphasis on rights.

    Mussolini, who did not allow his work as dictator to interrupt his prolific journalism, wrote a glowing review of Roosevelt’s Looking Forward. He found “reminiscent of fascism … the principle that the state no longer leaves the economy to its own devices”; and, in another review, this time of Henry Wallace’s New Frontiers, Il Duce found the Secretary of Agriculture’s program similar to his own corporativism (pp. 23-24).”

  12. Liam

    I think you’re going to need a better citation than that, MrHNC. I’m not sure Wolfgang Schivelbusch ever said any such thing.
    Schivelbusch’s work on architecture likened monumental architecture in the Soviet Union, in postwar Germany and in the postwar democracies—but it didn’t say anything about the politics.
    Fascism, but the way, was extremely pro-capitalist, in each of the European countries where it was dominant before 1945 (and in Spain for a long time afterwards).

  13. Katz

    ‘I have sympathy for Mr. Roosevelt,’ he told a correspondent for the New York Times two months later, ‘because he marches straight toward his objectives over Congress, lobbies and bureaucracy.’

    As usual Hitler got this deeply wrong.

    Roosevelt accepted and respected the Supreme Court’s striking down of important aspects of the New Deal.

    Moreover, Roosevelt accepted the decision of the Democrat dominated Congress that resisted Roosevelt’s attempts to force aged Supreme Court judges to retire.

    Hitler, on the other hand, tossed large numbers of the last Weimar Reichstag into concentration camps.

    Even a person monomaniacally obsessed with the notion that socialism = fascism ought to be able to detect the difference between Roosevelt and Hitler. (Hint: it’s respect for constitutionalism and the rule of law.)

  14. feral sparrowhawk

    Mark I think it is a bit harsh to say Obama is compounding the problems unless you think any credible alternative candidate would be doing more (Edwards maybe, but I can’t imagine any of the others). It’s not as though the Republicans would be rushing to nationalise – he may even be refraining because he doesn’t think he’d get it through the Senate, and a failed attempt might cause a bigger panic.

  15. Mark

    feral, who knows what the Republicans would be doing? It’s often the case, though, that right wing administrations will take steps that contradict their ideology while centre-left ones will stick very close to the right wing talk even when the right wing walk is quite different!

    MrHopeNoChange – you should avoid both making personal references to other commenters, and posting lengthy screeds. If you have a long passage to refer to, contextualise it and link to it.

  16. Paul Burns

    Mr HnC,
    Reckon I don’t have to do anything to refute your fallacies. Other commenters have done it very effectively for me, and I thank them. I will only add that as others have noted, if you think fascism was not supremely pro-capitalist you need to do more reading. Even a history as close to the actual events as Shirer’s noted the close big business alliances of fascism. As far as I’m concerned the fascism = socialism meme is a pointless and stupid debate, that,from menmory, has already been aired several times on LP.
    To bring it back to my original point, the GFC could create the right economic and social conditions for neo-fascism to become popular.
    And nor do I deny that the times will also suit the resurgence of genuine socialism, and while I fervently wish to see that, I wish it wasn’t under these conditions, but because people realised, as Che Guevara said, ” …there is no valid definition of socialism other than the abolition of the exploitation of one human being by another.’
    I’ll treat your remarks about Chavez with thew contempt they deserve.

  17. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    C’mon, Mark. Pull yourself together. You’re sounding quite shrill!

    Seriously, I sympathize with your position. Geithner’s the main incompetent here (as many people have pointed out), but it was Obama that appointed him to the position. The buck stops there. Personally, I’d like the man sacked and replaced with the Krugthulhu, but is it politically possible?

  18. carbonsink

    Actually, Australia’s biggest immediate problem is the collapse in Asian trade. Brad Setser has been blogging about this for months and the World Bank only just noticed.

    Australia is in the twilight zone at the moment. We haven’t avoided the GFC, it just hasn’t got here yet.

  19. Mr HopeNchange


    I didn’t say fascism = socialism. I said they were ideological brothers.

    To say that fascism is pro capitalist is to completely misunderstand capitalism. Capitalism is nothing less than the free market. It makes little difference if the state controls the means of production or, under fascism, the state directs the means of production through ‘Capitalists’. The means of production in both cases is under state direction.

    As for Chavez – come on Paul, spill the beans and tell us why he isn’t a thug, or socialist, or whatever you are intimating. After that, you can explain to all and sundry why Che wasn’t a nasty thug who delighted in executions.

  20. Labor Outsider

    Carbon – the collapse in trade is related to the economic weakness in the G7 economies because their growth strategies have been export driven – so, yes, the turn around in Asian economic activity is troubling – but we can’t expect it to improve until growth prospects in the G7 improve first (unless you have strong faith in the efficacy of Chinese fiscal policy).

    Mark – the nationalisation issue is extremely complicated in the US context, so I’d be careful about following the Krugman line too closely here – while temporary nationalisation of some of the probably insolvent banks may be necessary, there are quite few things that have to be worked out first. First, you have to determine which are insolvent (or are probably insolvent) and which aren’t – that is what the stress test is for (though there are doubts about whether that test will be tough enough). Those stress tests are complicated because the balance sheets of the institutions are complicated.

    Second, you have to think about the impact of nationalisation on the remaining non-nationalised banks (there are over 8000 banks in the US) – for example it is possible that the nationalisation of some banks would lead to a cascade of speculative attacks on the remaining ones that remain in private hands.

    Third, you have to determine how the nationalised banks will be run while they are in public hands and by whom, and how the non-performing loans on their books should be best disposed of (should the toxic assets be held to maturity, sold at current (near zero) market prices, how quickly should the nationalised institutions be sold off to other solvent banks, should that occur before or after the regulatory system itself is properly reformed, how quickly should lending be expanded in an environment where the household and financial sectors need to undergo significant deliveraging, etc).

    The Swedish example has often been evoked when discussing the best way to go about dealing with a banking crisis – but there are important differences that have to be noted – the Swedish banking system was highly concentrated – the balance sheets of the institutions were far easier to untangle and understand – the prevailing political ideology was more favourabley disposed to government interventions of that type, etc. The FDIC took over institutions in the US during the S&L crisis during the 1980s, but that that too was a different beast to what we are dealing with now.

    I’m no fan of the dithering that has characterised policy in the US over the past 6 months – but we are kidding ourselves if we think the solution is straightforward.

    It is true though that until there is some firm resolution of how likely insolvent institutions will be dealt with, and a firm plan is in place to restore the US and European financial sectors to some health, the outlook for small countries dependent on the global business cycle like us will be grim.

  21. murph the surf.

    LO ,rather than trying to find a solution how do you rate that the solution will dictate terms to us?

  22. Katz

    The first American protectionist swallow of summer

    Bank of America has become the first US bank to withdraw job offers made to MBA students graduating from US business schools this summer, citing conditions laid out in its bail-out deal as the reason.

    The recently passed $787bn stimulus bill in effect prevents financial institutions that have received money from the government’s troubled asset relief programme from applying for H1-B visas for highly skilled immigrants if they have recently made US workers redundant.

  23. Paul Burns

    I’ve quite a bit of material on Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution lying round my flat, but quite frankly I can’t be bothered re-reading it then summarizing it merely for the benefit of refuting your right wing fantasies.
    As for the link to the site about Che, I never take American rightwing think tanks seriously, they’re always so full of bullshit.

  24. David Irving (no relation)

    Katz @ 22 – who in their right mind would hire an MBA, even in the best of times? (To those of you who think I’m delusional, just think about John Elliot.)

  25. Mr HopeNchange

    Excellent cop out Paul. So you are saying that Alvaro Vargas Llosa’s article on Che is a complete fabrication of the facts? Oh that’s right, you didn’t bother reading it, you just ‘know’ it’s bullshit.

  26. Nickws

    But this refusal to face the facts means, in practice, an absence of action. And I share the president’s fears: inaction could result in an economy that sputters along, not for months or years, but for a decade or more

    I’ve read Krugman’s article twice now, yet I can’t find where he offers any concrete solution.

    He hints that either (a.) no more money should be thrown at toxic assets not owned by the taxpayer yet or the ‘zombie’ banks already in public ownership;
    or perhaps, I think,
    (b.) nationalise the whole lot and don’t give any underserving investors anything they’re not entitled to.

    Krugman thinks he knows his New Deal canon, i.e., “It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.”

    But does he? Mightn’t the current prevarication be the first part of Obama’s plan?

    Perhaps the real strategy is just getting Americans to accept the size of the budget now and into the future, and then deciding what portion of the deficit goes to Wall Street?

  27. schloss

    Raivo Pommer
    [email protected]

    Obama Strategie

    Viele Investmentexperten machen jedoch die ersten sechs Amtswochen der Regierung Obama für die Eintrübung ihres Aktienmarktausblicks verantwortlich. „Die Latte der Erwartungen lag zu hoch“, meint der unabhängige Marktstratege Doug Peta. Zu viele Menschen hätten gehofft, dass die neue Regierung „einen Zaubertrank zur Lösung unserer Probleme zur Hand haben würde“, sagt er. „Das war unrealistisch.“

    Vorschläge für ein Gesetzespaket zur Ankurbelung der Wirtschaft lösten ein Kursfeuerwerk bei Infrastrukturaktien aus. So schoss etwa die Aktie des Baumaschinenherstellers Caterpillar von den Markttiefs im November 2008 bis Anfang Januar 2009 um 39 Prozent nach oben, stürzte seitdem aber wieder um 43 Prozent abwärts.

    Viele Investoren hatten gehofft, dass Obama die Lösung des größten Problems der Wirtschaft und des Aktienmarktes angehen werde: die Kreditkrise. „Dies erwies sich als falsche Hoffnung“, sagt Brian Reynolds, leitender Marktstratege bei der WJB Capital Group. Nach seiner Meinung „kann die Regierung die Krise nicht aufhalten“.

  28. Paul Burns

    Mr HnC,
    Like some-one who is an apostle of neo-liberalism, the Davros World Economic Forum and the International Institute is going to be remotely unbiased about Che or Chavez? Give me a break.

  29. Mr HopeNchange

    Unlike the good folk over at Green Left Weakly or the Socialist Alliance, Paul?

  30. Ginja Ninja

    Japan probably would have been in much worse shape had it not spent big.

    One of my pet hates. For the millionth time: Hitler didn’t come to power because people flocked to his economic policies (such as they were). He came to power due to a breakdown of democracy, caused largely by the Weimar Republic’s inablitity to cope with the Depression. A well-functioning democracy can have all the spending, welfare state, social engineering – insert other needless right-wing fears here – it wants and it won’t turn Nazi.

    We should note that Paul Krugman has complimented Obama on lots of things, too – he was over the moon about Obama’s budget plans and start on health care.

    Australian progressives should read Paul Krugman’s blog all the time. It’s not until you read this Nobel Laureate regularly that you really understand what nonsense Turnbull, Hockey, and Costello are talking. Krugman makes you realize just what a first-class government we have in the Rudd Government – Krugman would have thoroughly approved of our stimulus package where he took Obama to task for having too small a package (relative to America’s dire needs).

    By the way, two of his books – “Conscience of a Liberal” and his updated “Return of Depression Economics” – have just come out in cheap Penguin paperbacks.

    No modern progressive can call themselves a progressive without having read a bit of Krugman.

  31. Well Someone's Got To Do It

    “A well-functioning democracy can have all the spending, welfare state, social engineering – insert other needless right-wing fears here – it wants and it won’t turn Nazi.”

    But, b-but… Bush was nothing *but* spending, welfare state, and social engineering, and… Bush was a Nazi.


    He even had the moustache to prove it, on all those placards.

  32. Katz

    Bush was never a Nazi.

    Bush went to Nazi Rush Week but those nasty frat boys turned him down.

    So sad.

    Then the Nazis made Bush turn in his jackboots and armbands because they thought he was too stupid to wear them in a dignified manner.


  33. Zwilnik

    I hear you Tellurians with wits like undernourished rodents on stilts throw the phraseology “Nazi” around like topless Olympic beach volleyball judges with crisp grains of sand patterning on their solar oils. Juicy!

    Ahem, where was I?

    Ah yes. Nazi was first proper policalshowbiz operation. Baby footprints it is true but first to use primary colours and facial hair as uniting device. Now most Tellurian tribal groupings use bright colours and stylised head-based protein filaments to rally support for Alpha monkeys.

    Inevitable Boskone will turn heads, sometimes 360 degrees, when we arrive for Glorious Day of Liberation with heavily moulded polysaccharides atop oour sensor containers rendered in pungent rallying colours of black, white and gray.

    And can you rest uninsuranced that we will not fornicate around with twitpicking combs of the finest teeth in processing your curly pubic financials. Oh no, it will back to basics. We demand and you supply.

    Feel free to start trickling now, foolish Tellurians.

    Boskone abides. In a variety of attractive yet forceful chitin-based personal decorations.

  34. Zwilnik

    Just sent Doctorr-Administrator Proofreader Class V-3 to Pain Ampilfier for “oour”.

    Boskone does not tolerate mistakes. Whether they be globalbankers not fully bankrupting creditism system or just simple tipo.

    Ha. Ha. You see joke there? I told underfling to make deliberate spelling mistake. How we all laughed. And laughed some more.

    Underfling now in Pain Amplifer experiencing responsibility for following orders. Boskone has learnt much from Tellus’ corporate executive system, I don’t mind telling you.

    Boskone is cashing in your chips.

  35. Paulus

    Like some-one who is an apostle of neo-liberalism, the Davros World Economic Forum and the International Institute is going to be remotely unbiased about Che or Chavez?

    Ah yes, the Davros World Economic Forum, where the IMF Chief Economist revealed the true nature of his kind:

    Pity? I have no understanding of the word. It is not registered in my vocabulary bank. Exterminate! EXTERMINATE!”

    Fortunately, shortly afterwards all the economists were entombed for 1000 years.

  36. David Rubie

    Obama will not be too worried about the Australian economy either way:

    Cleveland no longer rocks

    The biggest problem the new administration is facing is the sheer immensity of the problem. I’ve got to admit here that I didn’t think the credit crunch was much to worry about as I thought it was just business as usual on a normal-ish cycle, but when you read a story like the linked one it’s starting to sound like a greater depression in the making. I’m officially scared now.

  37. Well Someone's Got To Do It

    Katz @ #32: “Bush went to Nazi Rush Week but those nasty frat boys turned him down.”

    What I wrote at #31 was true: Bush was a deficit-spending, socially engineering, welfare-statist lunatic, and the Left constantly compared him to Hitler and to Nazis in general.

    What you wrote at #32 was an untrue, insane, unfunny fantasy.

    Hmm, I’m beginning to detect a pattern here…

  38. Katz

    WSGTDI was the person who hated “Life of Brian” because as s/he correctly pointed out, there is absolutely no record of the Judaean Liberation Front or the Liberation Front of Judaea ever having existed, so how could the movie possibly be … you know … funny?*

    And just for the record, Bush wasn’t a lunatic. Medicalising people’s behaviour betrays a censorious narrow-mindedness. No, Bush was just a common or garden incompetent who had the misfortune of being the son of a very influential man.

    * I admit that humour is very much a matter of taste. Fortunately, very few of us rely on it for a livelihood.

  39. Bob

    I thought Obama was a smart man this statement makes me believe he is a fool.
    Obama praises Australia’s reaction to financial crisis
    Anyone who supports massive handouts of millions of dollars to people who do NOT contribute to the country other than collecting handouts hast to be a fool.
    Short term band-aid fixes with no long term solutions does not deserve praise it deserves criticism for not having a long term solution.
    Read this below and tell me Rudd has done the right thing with my taxes handing out millions to people who give NOTHING in return.

    A Boss Who Tells It Like It Is

    Date: Sat, 03 Jan 2009

    To All My Valued Employees,

    There have been some rumblings around the office about the future of this company, and more specifically, your job. As you know, the economy has changed for the worse and presents many challenges. However, the good news is this: The economy doesn’t pose a threat to your job. What does threaten your job; however, is the changing political landscape in this country.

    However, let me tell you some little tidbits of fact which might help you decide what is in your best interests.

    First, while it is easy to spew rhetoric that casts employers against employees, you have to understand that for every business owner there is a back story. This back story is often neglected and overshadowed by what you see and hear. Sure, you see me park my Subaru Outback outside. You’ve seen my big home at last year’s Christmas party. I’m sure all these flashy icons of luxury conjure up some idealised thoughts about my life.

    However, what you don’t see is the back story.

    I started this company 28 years ago. At that time, I lived in a 2 bedroom flat for 3 years. My entire living area was converted into an office so I could put forth 100% effort into building a company, which by the way, would eventually employ you.

    My diet consisted of baked beans, stew and soup because every dollar I spent went back into this company. I drove a rusty Toyota Corolla with a wonky transmission. I didn’t have time to go out with women. Often times, I stayed home on weekends, while my friends went out drinking and partying. In fact, I was married to my business — hard work, discipline, and sacrifice.

    Meanwhile, my friends got jobs. They worked 40 hours a week and made a modest $50,000 a year and spent every dime they earned. They drove flashy cars and lived in expensive homes and wore fancy designer clothes. Instead of hitting the David Jones for the latest hot fashion item, I was trolling through the discount store extracting any clothing item that didn’t look like it was birthed in the 70’s. My friends refinanced their mortgages and lived a life of luxury. I, however, did not. I put my time, my money, and my life into a business with a vision that eventually, some day, I too, will be able to afford these luxuries my friends supposedly had.

    So, while you physically arrive at the office at 9am, mentally check in at about noon, and then leave at 5pm, I don’t. There is no “off” button for me. When you leave the office, you are done and you have a weekend all to yourself. I unfortunately do not have the freedom. I eat, and breathe this company every minute of the day. There is no rest. There is no weekend. There is no happy hour. Every day this business is attached to my hip like a 1 year old special-needs child. You, of course, only see the fruits of that garden — the nice house, the Subaru, the vacations… you never realise the back story and the sacrifices I’ve made.

    Now, the economy is falling apart and I, the guy that made all the right decisions and saved his money, have to bail-out all the people who didn’t. The people that overspent their pay suddenly feel entitled to the same luxuries that I earned and sacrificed a decade of my life for.

    Yes, business ownership has its benefits but the price I’ve paid is steep and not without wounds.

    Unfortunately, the cost of running this business, and employing you, is starting to eclipse the threshold of marginal benefit and let me tell you why:

    I am being taxed to death and the government thinks I don’t pay enough. I have state taxes. Federal taxes. Property taxes. Sales and use taxes. Payroll taxes. Workers compensation. Unemployment taxes. Taxes on taxes. I have to hire a accountant to manage all these taxes and then guess what? I have to pay taxes for employing him. Government mandates and regulations and all the accounting that goes with it, now occupy most of my time. On Oct 15th, I wrote a cheque to the Australian tax Office for $288,000 for quarterly taxes. You know what my “stimulus” cheque was? Zero. Zip. Zilch.

    The question I have is this: Who is stimulating the economy? Me, the guy who has provided 14 people good paying jobs and serves over 2,200,000 people per year with a flourishing business? Or, the single mother sitting at home pregnant with her fourth child waiting for her next welfare cheque? Obviously, government feels the latter is the economic stimulus of this country.

    The fact is, if I deducted (Read: Stole) 50% of your pay you’d quit and you wouldn’t work here. I mean, why should you? That’s nuts. Who wants to get rewarded only 50% of their hard work? Well, I agree which is why your job is in jeopardy.

    Here is what many of you don’t understand … to stimulate the economy you need to stimulate what runs the economy. Had the government suddenly mandated to me that I didn’t need to pay taxes, guess what? Instead of depositing that $288,000 into the Canberra black-hole, I would have spent it, hired more employees, and generated substantial economic growth. My employees would have enjoyed the wealth of that tax cut in the form of promotions and better salaries. But you can forget it now.

    When you have a comatose man on the verge of death, you don’t defibrillate and shock his thumb thinking that will bring him back to life, do you? Or, do you defibrillate his heart? Business is at the heart of Australia and always has been. To restart it, you must stimulate it, not kill it. But the power brokers in Canberra believe the poor of Australia are the essential drivers of the Australian economic engine. Nothing could be further from the truth and this is the type of change you can keep.

    So where am I going with all this?

    It’s quite simple.

    If any new taxes are levied on me, or my company, my reaction will be swift and simple. I fire you. I fire your co-workers. You can then plead with the government to pay for your mortgage, your 4WD and your child’s future. Frankly, it isn’t my problem any more.

    Then, I will close this company down, move to another country, and retire. You see, I’m done. I’m done with a country that penalises the productive and gives to the unproductive. My motivation to work and to provide jobs will be destroyed, and with it, will be my citizenship.

    So, if you lose your job, it won’t be at the hands of the economy; it will be at the hands of a politicians that swept through this country changed its financial landscape forever. If that happens, you can find me sitting on a beach, retired, and with no employees to worry about….


  40. Well Someone's Got To Do It

    I repeat: my characterization of George W. Bush as a chronic deficit-spender, a welfare-statist, and a crackpot social engineer (all hallmark qualities of the Left) is amply borne out by the historical record in excruciating detail; furthermore, Bush’s incessant depiction by the Left in idiot caricatures as Hitler/Nazi/Gulag ghoul is a plain matter of journalistic record which frankly would crash this blog’s server if we tried to cite it all.

    Which part of all this does the Left wish to dispute?

    By way of rebuttal, Katz cites a comedy fiction film from I think the 80s called “Life of Brian,” which humorously depicts imaginary events set in west Asia some 2,000 years ago.

    Them’s the facts.

    Go ahead — draw a funny Hitler moustache on them if you like.

    It ain’t like ya don’t have form.

  41. Katz

    WSGTDI appears to have a fetish for depictions of Hitler’s facial hair.

    I’m willing to stipulate that there are sufficient lefty placards with Bush a la Hitler to mount a Hanoi-style spectacular. So what? The Right doesn’t have a monopoly on stupidity.

    Let’s see now. WSGTDI characterises Bush as “a chronic deficit-spender, a welfare-statist, and a crackpot social engineer (all hallmark qualities of the Left)”. Who else had those characteristics? Oh yes, Adolph Hitler himself. Now WSGTDI can dub Hitler as also being a man of the left, a trope that emerges all too often from the further reaches of the wingnut blogosphere. But sensible persons reject that identification because it collapses the concepts of right and left into meaninglessness.

    If WSGTDI were sensible s/he’d readily perceive that Bush is neither a Nazi (as designated by numerous idiot lefties) nor a “leftist” as designated by WSGTDI.

    But evidently WSGDTI isn’t sensible.

    And unless WSGTDI can point to one instance where I have likened Bush to Hitler, to a Nazi or even to a generic fascist, I’d thank him/her to desist from misrepresenting my views on the pitiable, clueless fellow.

  42. Paul Burns

    [email protected],
    What were you? A writer? An artist starving in a garret? Wake up, mate. Lots of people live in poverty and through no fault of their own never get out of it. And peoplw wonder why some of us get disgusted with the Libs.

  43. Well Someone's Got To Do It

    Well Katz, at least we can agree how disastrous Bush was, even if our specific diagnoses differ.

    Bush was such a polarizing force that I think many of his harshest critics were prevented from seeing him clearly; hence the provocative nature of my earlier remarks. A bit of koan if you will. Not seeing Bush clearly makes it harder to learn from mistakes and hopefully prevent or mitigate other such political disasters in the future.

    Somewhere there’s an alternate dimension where somebody else won the 2000 election — Gore or Tony Bennett or Cher or something (now I think of it, Cher might make quite a good president), and none of the disasters of this dismal decade ever happened. And in that dimension we could argue instead over something truly important, like which kind of ice cream is the best.

    If I ever find the particular butterfly whose wing-flaps led to the present state of affairs, I guarantee I will have some very strong words for it.

  44. Katz

    Yes, we can agree on that.

    You can blame the thoroughly corrupted electoral processes in Florida for Bush in 2000, ably aided by the incompetence of Gore’s lawyers.

    Forces behind Bush, notably Cheney’s neocons, did attempt to subvert the US Constitution with some novel readings of the power of the President. These efforts caused embarrassment and humiliation but fortunately there was no great long-term damage done to the constitution and now the US people appear to have been alerted to the danger.

    The present economic meltdown began on Bush’s watch but I doubt that Kerry, if he had won in 2004, would have done anything to alter materially its course of destruction.

    For all his talk about “change” Obama has done little so far to alter the course of Bush’s foreign policy, suggesting that Bush articulated a widely-held consensus about the role of the US in the world, even if Bush did preside over a particularly ham-fisted execution of that consensus. (Bush, of course, had already foresworn the bellicose unilateralism of his first term. Thus Bush did demonstrate that his administration was capable of some adaptability in the face of failure.)

    Thus, Bush was a profoundly inadequate man but he should not be seen as the freakish outlier that he is being depicted as. He simply magnified many of the self-destructive tendencies that were, and are, widespread in the United States.

  45. Adrien

    Personally I’m fairly conservative and so I think we should stick to the tried and true.
    Yes and after all the French Revolution was such a major success. 🙂

  46. Nickws

    Not seeing Bush clearly makes it harder to learn from mistakes and hopefully prevent or mitigate other such political disasters in the future

    A new electoral majority in America sees his legacy very clearly. Their party’s legislative ancestors held the US House from 1931 to 1995 with only a gap of four years–I don’t see the new bosses needing movement conservative ‘input’ for managing the political hegemony they find themselves with.

    Or think of it this way for the executive branch: did the isolationists have much effect on US foreign policy after the demise of Taft or the conversion of Vandenberg? It’s 2009 and counting, the interventionists are still in charge.

    Bush is Taft.

  47. Nickws

    Not seeing Bush clearly makes it harder to learn from mistakes and hopefully prevent or mitigate other such political disasters in the future

    A new electoral majority in America sees his legacy very clearly. Their party’s legislative ancestors held the US House from 1931 to 1995 with only a gap of four years–I don’t see the new bosses needing movement conservative ‘input’ for managing the political hegemony they find themselves with.

    Or think of it this way for the executive branch: did the isolationists have much effect on US foreign policy after the demise of Taft or the conversion of Vandenberg? It’s 2009 and counting, the interventionists are still in charge.

    Bush is Taft.
    PS: Wanted to mention great post!

  48. murph the surf.

    “As Lawrence Summers, the chairman of Obama’s council of economic advisers, said five years ago: “It surely cannot be prudent for us as a country to rely on a kind of balance of financial terror.” Yet that is exactly the calculus holding together what is left of the global economy.”

  49. Nickws

    # 47, thanks, me.

    I’m glad I don’t have any argument to make against my thesis that the modern conservative movement is comparable to not only the Hoover-era GOP congressional party but also to the attempt by the Taftites to preserve isolationism after WWII (the opposition to NATO, the attempt to pass the Bricker amendment; these are now largely forgotten, subsumed within the larger narrative of ‘Pearl Harbor ended isolationism’, and the notion that militant ant-Communism was the only policy of US Rightwingers post-1945.)

    I’ll gladly expound on this if me has any questions. Also, me, Mark B. and Kim are serious students of American history, they might be able to inform me about anything I can’t.