The CIS sends out a weekly “ideas @ the centre” e-mail to their regular victims. Unfortunately, it’s not online, so I’m posting my contribution to it here for the viewing pleasure of the non-CIS world…
Be afraid of the neo-world
The world is dangerous. If we aren’t being attacked by leaking fishing boats or sneezing pigs, then we need to keep worried about radical capitalism and global warming.
The great thing about a good fear campaign is that it doesn’t need to be true. Just scary. It didn’t matter that the risk of dying from terrorism for Australians was lower than the risk of dying from pesticide poisoning or lightning strikes. Those foreign-looking people were scary, and so we fended them off by throwing a few billion dollars and a few civil liberties at them.
But fear of terrorists is old school. The neo-fear is neo-liberalism.
And of course climate change. Though we have a neo-word for that too now, with the environment group ecoAmerica suggesting that we refer to “our deteriorating atmosphere”.
If the West is ever attacked by a carbon-emitting neo-liberal terrorist then we’ll probably be frozen in catatonic fear.
The government is promising to save us from these evils through multi-billion dollar government schemes. The solution to neo-liberalism is apparently to pump billions of dollars into the hands of business and consumers. And the solution to “our deteriorating atmosphere” is to take billions of dollars out of the hands of business and consumers.
The funny thing about the neo-liberal revolution is that it never happened. Thirty years ago the Commonwealth government spent about 24% of GDP. Same twenty years ago. Same ten years ago. And the original estimate for this year was that spending would again be 24% of GDP. If that’s a revolution, I’d hate to see how little gets done through incremental reform.
But apparently, this 0% change is too “neo-liberal”, and so the current government has decided to save us by increasing government spending to 28% of GDP. Maybe more after next week’s budget. Perhaps this is “neo-socialism”?
At least “our deteriorating atmosphere” had the decency to actually change temperature. While temperatures haven’t changed over the past seven years, the trend over the last 30 years has been moderate warming. The fear is that continued warming might lead to sea-level rises of about 30cm over 100 years, and that mankind (who can send a man to the moon, discover nuclear power and invent Viagra) will apparently be overcome by this challenge and civilisation will crumble.
The government’s solution is bigger government. Perhaps a cheaper approach would be to take a few steps back from the beach.