Sunday, 20 November 2011

Ideology not cause of debt

Last weekend The Australian ran an article by the Oliver Marc Hartwich entitled Europe's social failure. Reading this article my first reaction was one of amazement; Hartwich had concluded that the cause of the failure was "the grand European experiment of social democracy" with no mention of rampant free-market capitalism or the global financial crisis. Hartwich is, of course, entitled to his view, but I do not understand why the editor of The Australian would permit such an unbalanced and poorly argued article to waste so many column inches. Fortunately, Mike Skeketee's balanced and well-argued response, Ideology not cause of debt, subtitled "Blaming social democratic governments for the European crisis makes no sense", clearly articulates my feelings. Two points from Skeketee's article, dismiss Hartwich's nonsense:
A strange idea has taken hold about the crisis in Europe: that it is the fault of social democracy. This may be a convenient argument for those who want smaller government. But it overlooks a problem that occurred a few years ago called the global financial crisis. It was triggered by the collapse of a US housing bubble that had been fuelled by the reckless lending practices of banks and other financial institutions.
This recent history is curiously absent from the recent debate, including in the article by the Centre for Independent Studies' Oliver Marc Hartwich in these pages last weekend. Blaming social democratic governments for the global financial crisis is like saying Britain started World War II.
There are very few writers in The Australian that write well and argue clearly and logically. The regular publication of articles from right-wing think-tanks, and columnists such as Janet Albrechtson, Angela Shanahan, and Brendan O’Neill, editor of Spiked and libertarian gadfly, are usually illogical and unbalanced; I imagine that Mike Skeketee must sometimes feel very lonely ...

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