The Economist got it wrong on the reasons for John Howard’s success as Prime Minister

I’ve just read a very poorly reasoned article about John Howard’s 10 years as PM in this weeks The Economist.

I felt compelled to write a letter to the editor about it here:

Sir – You claim that John Howard has retained Prime Ministerial office for 10 years primarily through luck playing “a big part” along with circumstances external to his leadership such as the economic legacy of the former Australian Labor Party (ALP) Government and China’s demand for Australia’s mineral wealth, which have “enabled Howard to shower money on voters at election times”.

To quote Obi-Wan Kenobi, “In my experience, there’s no such thing as luck”.

In ignoring key initiatives such as major reform of the tax system with the introduction of a progressive goods and services tax, industrial relations reform, waterfront reform, privatisation of Government owned businesses and introduction of free trade initiatives, you ignored the reforms which have produced Australia’s productivity growth and economic strength over the past ten years; the foundation for Howard’s success. However if I am wrong and luck is the most important factor in long term political success then I would kindly ask that you expand your marvellous newspaper to include a section on astrology, numerology and Jedi mind tricks.

Kindest Regards…

Why Globalisation Works – Martin Wolf

In “Why Globalisation Works”, Martin Wolf, an editor of The Financial Times, has written a magnificent book which works to dissect globalisation, explaining the benefits while effectively rebutting the arguments of those who believe that globalisation is the ill of the world. Wolf covers the gamut of globalisation arguments through a framework of four major areas:

  • A definition of globalisation – what it is, how it works, the scope or influence
  • Arguments for liberal-democratic market economy and its long run consequences for prosperity, democracy and personal freedom. The long history of globalisation – and how in some respects it is widespread, however in other areas not spread enough, limited by bad policy and false economies in thinking.
  • Arguments of critics of globalisation – and why they are wrong.

One of the nuggets of gold in this book is hidden on the bottom of page 230, where, in his rebuttal to the race to the bottom argument of third world wages, he says:

It is right to say that transnational companies exploit their Chinese workers in the hope of making profits. It is equally right to say that Chinese workers are exploiting transnationals in the (almost universally fulfilled) hope of obtaining higher pay, better training and more opportunities than would otherwise be available to them.

In supporting his argument with flawless logic and multiple data and information cross referenced from a plethora of sources, Wolf succeeds where many others have not had the expertise or professionalism to succeed – in building a rock solid argument for globalisation. An immense read. Buy it now.