The Australian newspaper’s Emma Tom. A telling example of popular economic thought?

21 08 2008

Emma Tom authors the “wry side” in the Australian. I had the misfortune of reading this segment while munching down my morning tea.
I presume from the name that the “wry side” is supposed to be light hearted or amusing. I doubt Emma has a funny bone in her body.


Today’s piece which was the biggest waste of ink I’ve seen in a while. The insight into the nothingness of the political/economic faculties in Emma’s mind was highly disturbing. But I think her ignorance is common amongst many in this country.

Anyway here’s the article entitled “Bring on the Nanny State”.
http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,24213360-23375,00.html

This article is a text book example of the logical fallacy, the strawman argument.

Emma seems to think the previous Liberal government was about free-market capitalism even though under this government Australia saw its highest ever taxation revenues and saw significant welfare increases especially middle class welfare. Now we live in a country where over 60% of Australians receive welfare of some kind!

She then claims that the “nanny state” is currently execrated in public opinion. This is clearly false. Why else would our society put up with such a large government. Has she even read the opinion pages in papers lately! People are constantly calling for more of the nanny state. And she herself says that the Labour party got voted in because Australians’ felt the Liberals were too economically conservative.

Emma calls for an increase to social security! – even though she cannot put a coherent argument together in support of this call. 

Her pathetic attempts at humour to describe “Doug” seem to actually be attempting to raise this obvious bum to a place of virtue.

And of course she erroneously assumes high welfare levels would actually provide better prospects for Doug. 
Does she realise that increases in welfare means higher taxation. This means that individual capital will be reduced – and individual access to capital is a pre-condition of wealth generation. So too are property rights – and when the government is busy confiscating more of individual’s property, Doug is less likely to get out of the gutter in the long term. 

Anyone who thinks that you can change someone’s long term prosperity simply by giving them money fails to realise that there are many other factors: eg/ personal character, living in a society that provides legal protections for individual rights such as property rights, their social background, their culture etc. If you think throwing money at people results in long term prosperity, then why do such a large percentage of lottery winners end up bankrupt within 2-3 years? Or why is Zimbabwe so poor now that they receive so much foreign aid compared to the same country 35 years ago, Rhoedesia that received no aid and was quite wealthy?

In addition Emma Tom totally ignores the role of charity and community for dealing with genuinely unfortunately people in our society. Quite insulting IMO.
Most bogans in this country on welfare are wondering whether to buy the 42″ plasma or LCD TV with their baby bonus, or are struggling with their weight from over eating. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that Australia is now the fattest nation on earth, considering our massive welfare system.  Of course expansion of welfare cannot go on forever and is no laughing matter.

Emma Tom also makes the same irrelevant “compassion” argument as Kevin Rudd in his address to the CIS (see previous post). She spends a lot of time talking about how no welfare means no compassion. This is not true because welfare is irrelevent to people’s levels of compassion. I pay more tax than many and I don’t have any compassion for a bum like Doug!
Gun-backed force isn’t compassionate. And I don’t see how it is supposed to create compassion in people. But as I said, people’s compassion is irrelevant.

Emma Tom, I will not be reading your articles ever again because you’ve clearly demonstrated your inability for thought or humour. I suspect you are one of these people that steals cliches and concepts without really understanding much at all.  A product of our poor education system perhaps.

It’s disappointing that people in respectable jobs could be so poor at critical thinking when it comes to politics and economics. 

I grew up naively respectly my elders – These days I’m continually shocked at how little there is to respect.

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