Australia’s Political Malaise

With Election 2016 well underway (but still with about 6 weeks to go… yeesh), it’s looking increasingly like we’re going get more of the same. What happened to Australia’s politics that made it so insipid, so unable to hold forth a discussion in which some may be worse off, but the result would be better for the country?

The MacroBusiness blog has a theory on the 8 factors that have contributed to the dire political straits we find ourselves in:

2. Bad economic structure

This is the more important reason behind the centrality of the budget to business and thus the push for rents. Australian spruikers like to sell the economy as “diversified” but this is rubbish. At its base, Australia has only two economic drivers: houses and holes. Mining delivers national income and banking leverages it up to spread the wealth. Everything else follows these two. That means that these two industries have limitless power over policy. Disruption in one equals disruption to the entire nation.

Given the financial crisis in 2008 and now the commodities price crash (which was always going to follow the boom), it’s increasingly inevitable that we’re looking down the barrel of some bad economic outcomes, but no-one in power seems to be acknowledging it.

The talk is small while the problems are writ large. I’m skeptical that any party is going to be in a position to manage it, and that’s going to become rather scary rather fast for us. More on those thoughts later.

A Blind Mind’s Eye

Blake Ross can’t visualise things like others:

I have never visualized anything in my entire life. I can’t “see” my father’s face or a bouncing blue ball, my childhood bedroom or the run I went on ten minutes ago. I thought “counting sheep” was a metaphor. I’m 30 years old and I never knew a human could do any of this. And it is blowing my goddamned mind.

My first thought was “yeah I’m pretty bad a these things too,” but then I kept reading, and I realised how much I do visualise in my “mind’s eye” that just seems alien to those with this same condition.

Comparing economic records

May 2016 marks 43 years and 6 months since the election of the Whitlam Labor government in 1972, and conveniently provides a mid-point for the two political parties – 21 years and 9 months of government each. Stephen Koukoulas uses this pivot point to provide a detailed comparison of their respective economic performances, and he comes up with more-or-less a dead heat, with a slight edge to Labor:

The overall weighted average quarterly GDP growth rates since 1972 are 0.80 per cent for the Labor Party and 0.77 per cent for the Liberal Party. This shows that the economy grows faster, on average, under Labor than the Coalition by 0.03 per cent per quarter, which is a touch over 0.1 per cent per annum.

Figures are similarly in Labor’s favor for job growth – noting this also includes the recession we had to have.

Something to keep in mind this election season, and for the budget tomorrow.