Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Yr Enemies R Stupid

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  • simon g,

    This article argues that the Falklands war produced a boost to Conservative popularity of at most three percentage points for a period of only three months.

    Then the article is wrong.

    The MORI polls (online) show Conservative support at 34% in March, before the Falklands war (in fact, before anybody had even heard of the Falklands), and rising to 48% in June, when the war ended. That was not due to economic policy. During those three months, economic policy barely made the news. Sorry, but you really *did* have to be there. I've never experienced anything like it.

    Moreover, the ensuing election was a multi-party fight under the FPP system. It was not an endorsement of Thatcherism, as economic policy (as opposed to Maggie the Boadicea). But it was a total rejection of Labour.

    The 1987 UK election result did show qualified support for Thatcherite economic policies (but again, the electoral system must be taken into account). The 1983 election definitely did not.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1330 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Then the article is wrong.

    The MORI polls (online) show Conservative support at 34% in March, before the Falklands war (in fact, before anybody had even heard of the Falklands), and rising to 48% in June, when the war ended. That was not due to economic policy. During those three months, economic policy barely made the news. Sorry, but you really *did* have to be there. I've never experienced anything like it.

    I read up a bit on the lead author, David Sanders. He's certainly not crazy, but his whole thing is predicting government popularity based on economic policy, so it's not so surprising that he'd argue in that direction.

    I think this is one area where the conventional wisdom still holds sway.

    Moreover, the ensuing election was a multi-party fight under the FPP system. It was not an endorsement of Thatcherism, as economic policy (as opposed to Maggie the Boadicea). But it was a total rejection of Labour.

    Not surprising either, given the way Labour went. I arrived three years later, and spent years watching poor old Neil Kinnock try and push back Militant Tendency.

    There's a superb BBC4 three-parter about the British radical left of the late 70s and early 80s, called Lefties. Lots of great what were they thinking? moments,

    There's a marginally-seeded public torrent here, but UKNova users may be interested to know it was recently re-seeded there too. It's well worth your data cap.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    There's a superb BBC4 three-parter about the British radical left of the late 70s and early 80s, called Lefties. Lots of great what were they thinking? moments,

    They were bullies and thugs. Not above handing out the odd beating our two in an SU bar I was familiar with. Typical also of many in the Union movements at the time who had had a run of power for far too long and had become used to holding a nation to ransom. Much as I dislike Thatcher I also have a long held distain those that allowed her to justify her actions.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • Seaneen,

    Put aside for a moment the validity of The Shock Doctrine
    What about The Keep ‘Em In Line Doctrine

    After the 2006 Congreesional elections Secy of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is caught on tape saying:

    “This President's pretty much a victim of success. We haven't had an attack in five years. The perception of the threat is so low in this society that it's not surprising that the behavior pattern reflects a low threat assessment. The same thing's in Europe, there's a low threat perception. The correction for that, I
    suppose, is an attack.”

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/05/13/rumsfeld-on-2006-election_n_101537.html

    That’s right the Neocons want/need another terrorist attack on US soil to bring Americans back to their senses!

    Auckland • Since Jul 2008 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    I finally got to watching the latest media 7. It's the best one yet.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4414 posts Report Reply

  • Jake Pollock,

    But that seems even weaker. Since when is it a sin to give policy advice to any country whose leadership is systematically torturing, murdering and 'disappearing' tens of thousands of its citizens?

    fixed.



    I mean, really.

    Raumati South • Since Nov 2006 • 489 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    fixed.
    I mean, really.

    Very succinctly and eloquently put, sir. The Wiki reminds us too of how many people refused to be seen with him, dead.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    That’s right the Neocons want/need another terrorist attack on US soil to bring Americans back to their senses!

    Coincidentally I am re-reading Conrad's "The Secret Agent" by Conrad. All of the above, it's been covered...100 years ago.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Worthington,

    No one is disputing the murderousness of the Pinochet regime. But stating that Pinochet regime is evil does not constitute an argument that giving advice to the Pinochet regime was wrong. This seems especially true if you believe, as Friedman apparently did, that your policy advice would both improve the economic circumstances of Chileans and hasten the transition back to democracy.

    I can't see any rigour to the principle being advocated here. Would it be wrong to give Mugabe economic advice on ending hyperinflation in Zimbabwe? Is it wrong to provide relief aid to North Korea? As I said before, it seems that the nature of the advice Friedman gave is what people really object to.

    Since Jan 2008 • 25 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Would it be wrong to give Mugabe economic advice on ending hyperinflation in Zimbabwe?

    The beginning and end of such advice would have to be: get the hell out of the country, Rob. One of the issues in facilitating an end to his regime seems to be precisely that he's not being ostracised enough by some of his neighbours, and therefore that there isn't enough pressure put on him. Likewise, ,one of the main enablers of Pinochet's coup was the fact that he had the tacit and not-so-tacit approval of the US for getting rid of Allende. Friedman belonged to the not-so-tacit camp, obviously, and history is judging him for it. It has been for quite some time.

    As I said before, it seems that the nature of the advice Friedman gave is what people really object to.

    I'm still finding difficulties in faulting Klein's argument, which is the subject of this discussion after all: she contends that Friedman jumped at the chance to test his theories on economic reform on a country where they could be applied without bothering to obtain a democratic mandate. This seems to be a matter of historical record (much as Friedman tried to fudge said record in the years to follow), and it's not as if she's the first person who brought it up, either. You can think that there is no ethical issue here, but that doesn't invalidate her argument.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Worthington,

    That Chile had neo-liberal reforms under the auspices of Chicago-trained economists is, as you say, part of the historical record.

    But as far as I could see, Klein never actually makes an empirical argument along the lines of "undemocratic governments are more likely to make pro-market reforms". Her argument consists of guilt-by-association anecdotes. Democratic governments have also made pro-market reforms, and undemocratic governments have made anti-market reforms.

    Since Jan 2008 • 25 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Her argument consists of guilt-by-association anecdotes.

    Frankly, no, it doesn't. And I think she does make an empirical argument that is not so easy to dismiss, although of course you're free to find it lacking. FWIW I wasn't entirely sold, as I may have said upthread. And the fact that she didn't mention New Zealand speaks directly to the last sentence in your post.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

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