Anti-Greens Smear Campaign 2010: Neil and Miranda

Well, we’ve got some early entries in the Anti-Greens Smear Campaign 2010 today, starting with Neil Mitchell’s detailed article describing the flaws of the various candidates for office this year. Oh, did I say detailed? I meant for the ALP and Labor. The Greens got this:

Finally, there’s Senator Bob Brown, who may be taken seriously as people turn green in desperation. He should not be taken seriously. His policies are constructed in fairyland by incompetent elves. They would shut down Australia…

The unlikely but frightening prospect underlying all this is that if the two mainstream leaders continue to fail the country, Bob Brown could find himself invited to form a coalition government such as the UK model.

Suddenly New Zealand would become an attractive place to live.

Those ellipses did not include any discussion of anything the Greens have actually done or proposed. And why should they?

Why analyse any Greens policies when you can just dismiss them with vacuous hyperbole? I wonder which Greens policy the incompetent elves in fairyland were most high on pixie dust when they devised. Maybe it was better funding of public transport and the building of new urban public transport infrastructure. WACKY! Maybe it was better funding of public health, including mental and dental health. LOOPY! Perhaps the government no longer discriminating against gay people in the area of marriage. CRRAAZY! Could it be a functioning carbon reduction scheme that doesn’t reward the biggest polluters? MADNESS! Or perhaps treating asylum seekers like human beings rather than locking them up in remote Australia like criminals? BIZARRO! Could it be harm minimisation being the focus of drug policy, rather than the non-working lock-em-all-up-and-hope-the-problem-solves-itself scheme? NUTSO!

Whichever it was, Neil was right to completely fail to describe it in any way and rely on his audience’s utter ignorance of Greens policies and carefully-nurtured hatred of anything that could be described as “progressive”.

And Miranda. Oh, Miranda. Ms Devine thought it would be effective to go with childhood boogeymen. She attempted to portray Bob Brown as a “Green-eyed monster” lusting for power:

As people become increasingly disillusioned with the government (down to a 35 per cent primary vote) and wary of the opposition (on 41 per cent), there is now a real prospect of serious power in the hands of the unaccountable, job-killing ideologues of the green movement.

Miranda’s a hard-rightwing nut who thinks that any kind of regulation or taxation will “kill jobs” and that the best way to ensure the prosperity of the poor is to gouge them to make the rich richer, and somehow this will eventually trickle magically down in a shower of gold. So her “they’ll kill jobs” line is based on nothing more than that their focus is public services rather than tax cuts for the rich.

But I don’t get the “unaccountable” bit. Unlike the two major parties, the Greens are very clear about what they stand for. Their voters can hold them to account by voting against them if they don’t do what they’ll say they’ll do. That’s a stark contrast to the ALP and the Liberal parties, that try to be all things to all voters and ultimately stand for nothing.

Miranda then goes on a bashing exercise of anything any environmental group has done, despite them not actually being the Australian Greens, the party in question. And then she tries to tie it back despite, like Neil, not actually describing a single Greens policy:

Out front, all we see is the clever pitching of the political wing of the green movement as safe, sensible and decent. Brown and his colleague Christine Milne present a plausible set of clean hands as the political process turns ugly en route to an election.

It’s the lamest smear I’ve ever seen, which is a bit weird since there are plenty of Greens policies the conservatives usually love bashing. Harm minimisation on drugs is one, gay marriage is another. Both are of course the most sensible, realistic approaches to those issues, but they’re each sure to scare at least some people away. Much more so than vague attempts to tar the Greens by association.

If Miranda and Neil really want to participate in the official Anti-Greens Smear Campaign 2010, they’ll have to do better than today’s effort.

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13 responses to “Anti-Greens Smear Campaign 2010: Neil and Miranda

  1. Most likely they have little to no knowledge of Green policies. I’m partial to many of them myself, but quite a few I can see being economically naive or counter-productive.

    With reference to the Australian Greens website:

    Implementing all the policies from the Corporate Governance section would represent a substantial increase in the cost of doing business in Australia for dubious gain. It would likely reduce investment in Australia by some smallish-but-uncertain amount. That’s not terrible by any means, but something that is preferably avoided if possible.

    The Economics section is more problematic. “return the company tax rate to 33%” would be a tax liability increase of 10%. It would go against the international trend. Now, company tax rate isn’t the only consideration for firms, but its effect would not be neutral, especially since loopholes and concessions are also targeted by the Greens (which I applaud, BTW).

    Items 33 and 37 are just plain bad. Divesting companies of assets if they are deemed to be “abusing” market power? All “natural” monopolies in public ownership? These are the kinds of things that make people turn away from the Greens in disgust at economic illiteracy.

    Item 38 is trying to take us backward to a mythological golden age of manufacturing, while contradicting itself with regards to developing countries.

    Item 40 is dog-whistling, and doesn’t recognise the benefits of competition.

    In the Employment and IR section, item 40 is undemocratic, 42 biases the system towards employees, 44 will increase unemployment, 46 and 47 don’t recognise the origins of the gap, and 51 is out-and-out misguided socialism.

    In the Global Economics section, items 11 and 12 will reduce the wealth of Australia and developing countries. Item 16 is a doozy – it will ironically increase energy use and carbon emissions, while decreasing economic efficiency in developing countries and therefore worsening their situation. 17 goes against recommendations from independent NGOs and charities (assuming ‘exploitation’ is used as lefties usually use it, ie not in its proper sense). 24 is a can of macroeconomic worms that I don’t have the expertise to comment on, but is phrased glibly without any consideration of the possibly very large negative effects.

    Overall, Greens economic policies show they are not thinking holistically about first- and second-order effects. Also, putting them in place would entail a MASSIVE increase in regulatory oversight and expense, something barely alluded to in the policies. Finally, some innocuously-phrased policies are slipped in as if they nothing very much, but would actually mean radical lurches to the authoritarian left (in economic terms).

  2. “Implementing all the policies from the Corporate Governance section would represent a substantial increase in the cost of doing business in Australia for dubious gain. It would likely reduce investment in Australia by some smallish-but-uncertain amount. That’s not terrible by any means, but something that is preferably avoided if possible.”

    They seem reasonable to me. The corporate world always threatens the end of civilisation if there’s any restrictions on their ability to do whatever the hell they like.

    “The Economics section is more problematic. “return the company tax rate to 33%” would be a tax liability increase of 10%.”

    I thought the rate was currently 30%. I certainly pay more than that in income tax – why the hell should corporations be taxed less than people?

    “Items 33 and 37 are just plain bad. Divesting companies of assets if they are deemed to be “abusing” market power? All “natural” monopolies in public ownership? These are the kinds of things that make people turn away from the Greens in disgust at economic illiteracy.”

    Really? Because natural monopolies in private hands works out so well for everyone.

    “Item 40 is dog-whistling, and doesn’t recognise the benefits of competition.”

    No, it just says there are limits to where the NCP should be imposed.

    “In the Employment and IR section, item 40 is undemocratic, 42 biases the system towards employees, 44 will increase unemployment, 46 and 47 don’t recognise the origins of the gap, and 51 is out-and-out misguided socialism.”

    40 isn’t undemocratic, 42 simply protects employees from being dismissed unfairly, 44 will encourage permanent part time work rather than casual, 46 and 47 are a means of addressing the gap, and calling 51 “socialism” is just name-calling.

    “In the Global Economics section, items 11 and 12 will reduce the wealth of Australia and developing countries.”

    Sustainable international trade will reduce our wealth?

    “Item 16 is a doozy – it will ironically increase energy use and carbon emissions, while decreasing economic efficiency in developing countries and therefore worsening their situation.”

    Why?

    “17 goes against recommendations from independent NGOs and charities (assuming ‘exploitation’ is used as lefties usually use it, ie not in its proper sense).”

    Really? Charities like goods to be produced by exploited children and other vulnerable people?

    “24 is a can of macroeconomic worms that I don’t have the expertise to comment on, but is phrased glibly without any consideration of the possibly very large negative effects.”

    I’m not sure about that one, but I imagine that both other parties would oppose it.

    I’m just happy with the balance to go back towards the public interest and away from giving the corporate world everything it demands, like the two old parties do.

  3. I forgot item 22 of the Economics section, regarding FBT. Yes, increased emissions due to tax structure is a problem, but the FBT allows many groups that are short of money – like charities – to employ people they could not have otherwise. Suggestions that the government would change/abolish the FBT led many to protest, saying that it was the only reasons they could afford to attract sufficient employees, and losing it would be very detrimental to the state of welfare provision. Considerations of this trade-off are completely absent in Green thinking.

  4. Doubt it. They’re clearly pro-welfare organisations, and there’ll be something in there to counter that effect. Proper funding of those organisations, for example.

  5. “I thought the rate was currently 30%.”

    Yes. 3 is 10% of 30.

    “why the hell should corporations be taxed less than people?”

    Because corporate tax is double taxation – the people who make up a corporation are subsequently taxed on their income.

    “Really? Because natural monopolies in private hands works out so well for everyone.”

    Because “natural” monopolies are often not so. There are assumptions galore in the policy that are not explained or justified.

    “No, it just says there are limits to where the NCP should be imposed.”

    I disagree. It implies the spectre of ruthless competition is being applied to [fuzzy motherhood statements]. Also, it ignores the benefits competition brings.

    “40 isn’t undemocratic”

    Abolishing secret ballots isn’t undemocratic? Pull the other one.

    “42 simply protects employees from being dismissed unfairly”

    Is it possible to quit unfairly? Genuine question.

    “44 will encourage permanent part time work rather than casual, ”

    Or discourage employment at the margin.

    “46 and 47 are a means of addressing the gap”

    No, they are not, because they don’t address the root causes of the gap.

    “and calling 51 “socialism” is just name-calling.”

    If the shoe fits…

    “Sustainable international trade will reduce our wealth?”

    Reducing trade reduces our wealth. And theirs.

    “Why?”

    When item 16 says “development strategies that encourage self-reliance”, what that means is less specialisation, meaning less comparative advantage, meaning less wealth. It also means less efficient usage of foreign technology, which would generally mean greater ecological footprints and energy use.

    “Really? Charities like goods to be produced by exploited children and other vulnerable people?”

    No. Charities operating in developing countries are wary of blanket bans on child labour, as they recognise the complex interactions taking place in the process of development. To be fair, I was making the unkind assumption that ‘exploitation’ would mean any child labour, rather than genuine exploitation. I am willing to be corrected on this, but the policy gives no guidance on this.

  6. “I’m just happy with the balance to go back towards the public interest and away from giving the corporate world everything it demands, like the two old parties do.”

    No argument from me on that one, but you did ask for critics to evaluate actual policies, rather than ‘vibes’ about the ‘balance’.

  7. I’ve posted a more complete critique here.

  8. I’ll respond there, then. Quick points – don’t you think describing a rise of three percent as a percentage of the existing percentage is a rhetorical tool to make it sound bigger? Increasing the company tax rate by 10% makes it sound like you’re increasing it from 30% to 40%, not 33%. I know 3% is 10% of 30%, but the way you’re representing it seems deliberately designed to make it sound more onerous than it is.

    And double taxation? Don’t companies pay tax on profits – isn’t labour a deduction? On the “natural monopolies” I think we’re just having an argument over what that means – I suspect the Greens mean things like public transport, prisons, telephone lines that are inefficient to duplicate and “competition” is simply nonexistent in these areas by nature.

    I’m not sure where you get the thing about secret ballots from – it doesn’t seem to be #40.

  9. “No argument from me on that one, but you did ask for critics to evaluate actual policies, rather than ‘vibes’ about the ‘balance’.”

    Fair enough. Would I be correct in concluding Jarrah that you’re fairly conservative on economic issues? You do seem to accept as gospel a lot of the assumptions about everyone doing better if companies are taxed minimally and the rich get to keep a lot more. The “rising tide lifts all boats” and “wealth will trickle down” rhetoric?

  10. usesomesanity

    Just another day in the govenments campagin to bankrupt the people they represent to satify majorly tax exempt big business to secure politial donations.

  11. Ah, the secret ballot thing is #30. I don’t agree with that (unless someone can explain to me why that’s necessary and fair) and I’m not sure why it’s there. I might do something about trying to get that bit changed. It’s certainly not a policy they’ve put as one of their priorities, though, so I suspect there’s time to address that before anyone actually puts forward a bill proposing it.

    Like you, I still think their main policies, the ones they campaign on, outweigh the occasional odd one that would never be enacted.

  12. Isn’t it great the way a corporation can magically morph from being like a person itself, to being merely an association of people, whenever it’s to their advantage to do so?

    Consider Jarrah Job’s defence of corporate tax being set at a rate lower than personal income tax. If a corporation is a person, then it’s an entity distinct from its employees and so the salaries it pays to employees are outgoings, like water and electricity bills. What’s left is the corporation’s taxable income – its profit. Of course, you or I don’t get to tax-deduct all our living expenses; there’s another advantage of being a corporation.

    There is only ‘double taxation’ going on if you regard the corporation as being one with its employees. That may be a more sensible way to look at things, but it flies in the face of the legal picture of the corporation as a person. You can’t have it both ways.

    And as regards the comment on FBT: sure, perhaps the generous concessions for motor vehicles act as a way for charities to attract employees with in-kind benefits they couldn’t otherwise afford, but if that’s really the case we should be upfront about it. So let’s just say the government will give a taxpayer-funded car to anyone who obtains employment with a charitable organisation, and foot the bill for all their personal car travel as well. With the policy made transparent we can debate it on its merits.

  13. baldrickjones

    “don’t you think describing a rise of three percent as a percentage of the existing percentage is a rhetorical tool to make it sound bigger? Increasing the company tax rate by 10% makes it sound like you’re increasing it from 30% to 40%, not 33%. I know 3% is 10% of 30%, but the way you’re representing it seems deliberately designed to make it sound more onerous than it is.”

    Only if you don’t understand maths or percentages.

    I’ll give the Greenss some credit, at least they publish their policies. But then people can slam them for what they are. And they are missing the crucial “how” part of the implementation. It’s like saying you want “world peace” and then not offering a way to achieve it. Sounds good, but all thinking people know that you are a lightheaded wanker.

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