Sunday, May 31, 2009

Howard and Costello’s Moral Consequences of Wealth & Prosperity

" ... The premise being that over time many come to take prosperity for granted, when this happens we worry less about our own circumstances and become more open to the notion of helping others, more receptive to policies that advance humanitarianism - thus more Liberalist, but in the Trotskyist method of the left; an argument linking economic prosperity and moral behavior ..."

In my previous post, “Peter Costello launches new website” I cited a Costello quote from his interview with John Faine on 774 ABC radio:

In 2007, when the general view was that the economy was strong, the election was fought on a lot of social issues including (the) emissions trading scheme, reconciliation. I think in 2010, when the economy is the big issue, the election is more likely to be fought squarely on the economic issues than those social issues and we will look back on 2007 and say we had the ability to discuss and decide on those issues then because there was a general acceptance that people who wanted jobs could find them. We don't have that luxury at the moment...
Once again from the previous post I wrote:

This got me thinking; perhaps prosperity of the kind that came to define the Howard/Costello years ultimately encouraged voters to embrace progressive policy. Harvard Political Science Professor and author, Benjamin Friedman referred to such an outcome in his excellent text, Moral Consequences of Economic Growth. This may too, partially explain how, in the words of Peter Costello, “a Government that had created such an Age of Prosperity, such a proud and prosperous country, now finds itself in the wilderness.

There is no single answer to explain Rudd’s comprehensive ascendency on ’07 however, three (3) points come to mind:

  1. It been written that Governments that successfully nurture the economic well being of a nation can write their own electoral tickets. Seemed sensible enough, and yet, John Howard’s Liberals, who crushed inflation, unemployment, kept interest rates largely in check, and presided over a period of greater engagement with Asia than any of his predecessors suffered a significant and well documented election loss.

    It can be argued that the role of governments is to facilitate the greatest level of happiness for its constituents and that voters care little about wealth, prosperity, economic growth or other economic factors. Could it be possible that voters had become so comfortably numb in the lead up to the 2007 election? Are Australians happier now?

    When Howard said, "Working families have never had it so good," he alienated many and gave Rudd a label that soon became a catchphrase for a triumphant campaign. Well over a year has passed has he, (Howard) not been vindicated, or do some believe that working families are better off now? Let's cast our minds back to October 2207, at the time anyone who suggested that Howard may have been correct was bluntly told that they were, “out of touch", perhaps then, Harvard Political Science Professor, Benjamin Friedman and author of the, Moral Consequences of Economic Growth, had a case in point when he wrote that prosperity encourages voters to embrace progressive policy. The premise being that over time many come to take prosperity for granted, when this happens we worry less about our own circumstances and become more open to the notion of helping others, more receptive to policies that advance humanitarianism - thus more Liberalist, but in the Trotskyist method of the left; an argument linking economic prosperity and moral behavior. The more prosperous societies are and the more growth they experience the more generous and compassionate or Liberal they become thus making social policies more palatable.
  2. The second point provides are far broader yet equally persuasive argument. A fellow conservative blogger recently made an interesting comment in relation to the rise of Obama in the U.S. in 2008. I shall redraft the comment replacing “President Obama” with “Kevin Rudd.”

    Kevin Rudd put a tremendous gloss and intellectual veneer to fairly standard order west coast liberalism (with a few tweeks here and there) and was able to take advantage of a unique confluence of events and ride that to victory … Australian Liberals need a similar type of leader and spokesperson, just on the other side.
    The “fairly standard order west coast liberalism” can include the many “social issues” to which Peter Costello referred to or implied.
  3. Lastly, someone offered a far simpler explanation, disinformation; of a kind driven by an increasingly Liberal media and nurtured in our educational institutions. Roughly, a third of voters will always be liberal, and another third always labor with the balance deciding the winner. This “malleable” balance is focused on the policies and issues of the day and the personalities involved. They are, in the words of a friend, “not as bright as we’d like” and remain susceptible to all forms of disinformation. In this example, Kevin Rudd’s spin may well serve as the disinformation.

Over to you

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