Libertarian Conservative Propaganda Promoted in US and Anglo Media

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With Coronavirus or Covid-19 different governments and parts of the world have had different degrees of success in handling the spread and containing the virus but not parts of the Anglo world namely the US, UK and Australia.

 

All three have experienced aggressive neo-liberalism or radical right libertarian ideology applied to government agencies, budgets, planning and potential responses; now it’s right wing media attacking critics and creating confusion, or inappropriate responses.  

 

The following article in The Week US highlights and blames both the Trump administration and conservatism including mainstream media outlets.  However, it could also be blamed upon long term pressure on taxes, budgets, investment, government services and government being fit for purpose in ‘black swan’ events; from The Week:

 

Conservative propaganda has crippled the U.S. coronavirus response

 

Ryan Cooper

 

Why does the United States have the worst coronavirus outbreak in the developed world?

 

Part of the answer is surely that our basic state functions have been allowed to rot, or been deliberately destroyed, over the years. State capacity and competence have been shown around the world to be a key factor in whether nations can get a handle on the pandemic.

 

But another reason is conservative media. A small but nevertheless very loud and angry minority of Americans have had their ability to reason dissolved in a corrosive bath of crack-brained propaganda.

 

The flood tide of conservative lunacy is so overwhelming that it can be hard to process or even notice. A dozen things that would be a major scandal in any other rich country, or the U.S. itself in previous ages, fly by practically every day……

 

….Most of those other factors, however, would also be true in other rich countries. While there are fringe websites and various conspiracy loons in all of them, none have this problem to nearly the same degree, much less a full-blown crackpot as the leader of the country. 

 

Our ultra-consolidated media industry, which gives enormous sway to a handful of right-wing media barons like Rupert Murdoch and Christopher Ripley, probably enables it. The structure of behemoth social media companies, which have little incentive to police dangerous misinformation, and are so large that they probably couldn’t do it well even if they tried, probably enables it further.

 

Whatever the reason, the conservative propaganda machine is going to make this country very difficult to govern so long as it continues to operate in its current fashion. Just as economic markets do not work when they are under the thumb of monopolist robber barons, perhaps it is time to bring some regulation back to the marketplace of ideas.

 

Nations like Australia have even more consolidated media dominated by Murdoch and NewsCorp, small coterie of corporate players have undue influence, and conservative libertarian ideology, including cuts to taxes, health and education, is aggressively promoted by Koch linked think tanks through the same media and directly to politicians.

 

For more blogs and articles about Australian politics, climate change, conservative, COVID-19, critical thinking, government budgets, libertarian economics, media, political strategy, populist politics, science literacy and taxation.

 

Higher Education – University Funding – Course Delivery Threats

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Presently we see results of neo-liberal policies in education, including higher education and universities having budgets cut, with research, course content and study choices manipulated through favouring STEM over liberal arts of humanities.

 

One does not think it’s a coincidence that seemingly disparate issues and groups, whether focused upon climate science denial, low taxes, immigration restrictions or white nationalism seem influenced by underlying ideology of radical right libertarians joined at the hip with eugenics, wanting to influence education, research and student outcomes.

 

Excerpts from Inside Story Australia:

 

The four-and-a-half-decade higher education squeeze

 

Rodney Tiffen 17 JUNE 2020

 

Calls for universities to reduce their reliance on international students ignore the incentives created by successive governments

 

‘It’s a long time — forty-five years in fact — since government funding of tertiary education peaked in Australia at 1.5 per cent of GDP. These days, the government contributes 0.8 per cent, or just over half that proportion. Back in 1975, around 277,000 students were enrolled in higher education; by 2016, the number had increased fivefold to 1.46 million.

 

Those figures capture the essential story of Australian universities over the past forty-five years: massive growth combined with declining public investment.

 

The suddenness of the Coronavirus pandemic has hit Australian universities very hard, but the acuteness of their problems has been greatly exacerbated by trends that have been building for decades. The federal government has offered much less support to universities than to other deeply affected parts of the economy, and many conservative commentators have used this as yet another occasion to criticise the sector.

 

Backbench Liberal senator James Paterson (graduate of the Koch affiliated IPA), for instance, says that “universities have not done themselves many favours in recent years,” as if reacting to the diminishing level of public support, especially from his own party, has not been a central driver of the strategies for survival universities have had to adopt.

 

Over the period 1989 to 2017, domestic student enrolments more than doubled, according to former Melbourne University vice-chancellor Glyn Davis, yet the federal government’s contribution to operating costs rose only by a third. Between 1995 and 2005, when OECD governments increased their contributions to tertiary education by an average of 49.4 per cent after inflation, the Howard government provided no real increase at all.

 

As Glyn Davis wrote before the pandemic, “By withdrawing public funding, government has deeded Australia a university system that relies heavily on the families of Asia. If our neighbours tire of cross-subsidising Australian students, the number of local places would shrink rapidly.”

 

The pandemic has thrown university budgets into chaos. No other sector so badly affected by the coronavirus has been treated with so little sympathy, let alone tangible support. It seems the government’s cultural antipathy to universities overrides all else…..

 

There has been an ever present battle over universities and education, not just in Australia on funding, nor recently but in the past e.g. Milton Friedman in 1955 essay “The role of government in education” for the minds and wiring of students.  

 

In some places it is normal for fringe right wing parties new to a governing coalition to request seemingly unrelated portfolios of defence, home affairs, and education…..  Control of the latter gives control over curriculum content and the hidden curriculum; Jane Mayer describes (in ‘Dark Money’, as does MacLean ‘Democracy in Chains) the machinations going on in US (and further) by radical right libertarian donors to not just change what people think, but how they think… (or not).

 

Over generations there has been a move to more liberal student versus teacher and authority centred learning, both overtly and via the hidden curriculum.

 

Hence the curriculum is based on freedom, discovery, experience and creativity, as opposed to engaging with a pre-existing body of knowledge to which the teacher is an authoritative and wise guide.

 

(Liberals, Libertarians and Educational Theory – Lindsay Paterson, 2008)

 

MacLean (like Mayer) has also upset the libertarians:

 

Stealth Attack on Liberal Scholar? Historian alleges coordinated criticism of her latest book, which is critical of radical right, from many who have received Koch funding.

 

Collusion, alternative facts, shadowy billionaires: the words sound ripped from the political headlines, but they also describe the controversy surrounding Duke University historian Nancy MacLean’s new book, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America (Viking)….

 

…..Some nevertheless say they worry that swarm-style attacks on progressive scholars’ works — especially in an era of online harassment of professors and plummeting public trust in academe — could become a new normal. MacLean, they say, is the victim of just such an effort.

 

But taking advantage of student centred or liberal approaches can go both ways.  Such antipathy towards the humanities and scholarship does not preclude the likes of Kochs promoting their own ideology through funding academic schools’ programs or research, think tanks and lobbying MPs to promote their ideology e.g. George Mason University, many GOP politicians and think tanks (globally) affiliated through their Atlas Network, e.g. IPA Institute of Public Affairs in Australia promotes climate change denialism. (from Crikey Australia).

 

One does not think it’s a coincidence that seemingly disparate issues and groups, whether climate science denial, low taxes, immigration restrictions or white nationalism seem influenced by underlying ideology of radical right libertarians joined at the hip with eugenics, wanting to influence education, research and student outcomes, into the future…..

 

For more blogs and articles about Ageing democracy, Australian politics, career guidance, climate change, conservative, Covid-19, critical thinking, curriculum, demography, economics, environment, fossil fuel pollutiongovernment budgets, higher education teaching, instructional design, international education, international student, learning theory, nativism, pedagogy, political strategy, populist politics, science literacy, soft skills, student centred, VET vocational education and training, work skills and younger generations.

Impact of EU Regulations and Standards on Global Markets

The Brussels Effect – The EU’s Impact upon Global Markets

In her important new book, Columbia Law professor Anu Bradford argues the EU remains an influential superpower that shapes the world in its image. By promulgating regulations that shape the international business environment, elevating standards worldwide, and leading to a notable Europeanization of many important aspects of global commerce, the EU has managed to shape policy in areas such as data privacy, consumer health and safety, environmental protection, antitrust, and online hate speech.

 

The Brussels Effect shows how the EU has acquired such power, why multinational companies use EU standards as global standards, and why the EU’s role as the world’s regulator is likely to outlive its gradual economic decline, extending the EU’s influence long into the future.

 

From Politico EU on The Brussels Effect:
THE BRUSSELS EFFECT: Anu Bradford, a professor at Columbia Law School, wrote the book on EU influence — literally. In early 2020, she published “The Brussels Effect: How the European Union Rules the World.” It details how the European Union manages to unilaterally regulate the global market.

 

“All the EU needs to do is to regulate [its internal] single market, and it is then the global companies that globalize those EU rules,” she told me during a pre-coronavirus trip to Brussels in early March. The most obvious example of this phenomenon, she said, is the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation.

 

Global influence: As international awareness of the EU’s regulatory power has grown, there’s been “a massive increase in the presence of foreign companies in Brussels” and their efforts to lobby institutions, said Bradford. “Because when you think about it, if you manage to influence the regulatory process in the EU, you can influence the regulations across the world.”

 

Despite the increased international lobbying effort, “we don’t see that lobbying [has] led to weak regulations,” according to Bradford. She contrasts this with the U.S. where corporate influence often undermines U.S. regulations. She chalks up this difference to the comparatively stronger influence of civil society in the legislative and rule-making process in the EU.

 

Bradford said this leads to “a more balanced outcome in the end, but certainly there is an awareness and attempt on behalf of the corporations to influence the outcomes.”

 

Civil society strength: Alberto Alemanno, founder of civil society NGO The Good Lobby, offers a slightly different view. He says that corporate influence in the EU, as well as the U.S., “is on average more successful in bureaucratic arenas” compared to NGOs and citizen groups. But, he added, “the different role EU civil society plays in shaping policymaking may have more to do with institutional features (EU technocratic apparatus’ incentives to engage with civil society, European Parliament’s increased power, lesser role of money in politics) than with NGOs’ inherent strength.”

 

And what about the coronavirus? Of course, Bradford’s “Brussels effect” will be tested by the pandemic. She believes that “unless globalization comes to a drastic halt (which it likely will not), the Brussels Effect will continue,” she wrote to me more recently via email.

 

But she is monitoring a few developments. This includes whether the crisis leads to more or less regulation, depending on whether there is an appetite for more or less EU after things settle down.

 

She also believes the technocratic nature of EU rule-making “insulates it to some degree from the crises.” But the uncertainty and disruption “will likely slow down the regulatory process in the immediate future.” This includes the EU’s new digital strategy, where the crisis may force officials to rethink its regulation of data and technology more broadly.

 

For more related blogs and articles on the EU European Union, economics, environment,  digital marketing and the EU GDPR click through.

Using Government Debt in COVID-19 Crisis

After decades of neo-liberalism, especially the Anglo world, with demands to cut budgets, taxes and government services due to supposed unaffordable and unsustainable government debt, the truth is otherwise. Australia has relatively low government debt of little over 40% of GDP while household debt has become high and possibly unsustainable at more than 120%.

 

However, with the COVID-19 crisis and historically low interest rates, Australia is an excellent position to use debt attractive globally, in supporting the economy, not unlike the GFC period Labor government’s Keynesian money drop which allowed Australia to be less affected than most economies and not going into recession.

 

Following is an excellent article summarising the benefits and countering the supposed negatives of using debt in challenging times.

 

From Inside Story:

 

Before anyone asks: no, Australia does not have a debt problem

 

ADAM TRIGGS

 

30 MARCH 2020

 

And that means government spending is overwhelmingly beneficial in these crisis conditions.

 

Much is uncertain about the Covid-19 crisis, but two things are clear: government debt is about to become much bigger, and there’ll be no shortage of commentators who will say that’s a problem.

 

G20 governments have collectively announced more than $5 trillion in fiscal stimulus, with more to come. The Australian government’s measures, including yesterday’s $130 billion spending package, are broadly in line with other countries. So should we be worried about the consequent growth in government debt?

 

The answer is a clear and resounding no. Whether this new debt is justified depends on the benefit of the increased spending versus the cost of that spending and, in the current environment, the benefit is substantial while the costs are minimal.

 

Fiscal stimulus will avoid the current crisis turning into an economic catastrophe, a fact that appears to be well understood by the public. The lesson from the Great Depression is that my spending is your income, and your spending is my income. If we all stop spending at our local restaurants, the owners and workers in those restaurants lose their income. They spend less in other businesses, which lose their income too, producing a vicious downward spiral that ends in economic collapse. The solution is for the government and Reserve Bank to step in and substantially increase spending and support businesses to fill the gap until the private sector recovers.

 

Failing to expand government significantly would have catastrophic long-term consequences: huge increases in the number of unemployed people (many of whom will never work again), the destruction of thousands of healthy businesses (many of which will never recover), and the permanent destruction of income, wealth and the earning potential of our young people, to say nothing of increased suicides, increased mortality among the very young and very old, increased domestic violence, increased attacks on minority groups, the rise of political extremes and the increased probability of war. The benefits of increased spending are simply enormous.

 

Conversely, the costs of increased government spending are very low. These costs typically come in three forms.

 

The first is the potential for increased government spending to “crowd out” the private sector. When governments run budget deficits they are borrowing money from investors, money which is no longer going to other worthy investments. Increased demand on the limited pool of savings, in normal times, means higher interest rates (which make it more expensive for businesses to invest and households to borrow) and an appreciated exchange rate (making our exports more expensive than those from other countries). The increased government spending stimulates inflation, meaning higher prices for all of us. In normal times, then, increased government spending can hurt businesses, households and individuals.

 

But these are not normal times. Even before Covid-19 the world was awash with savings, which is why interest rates and inflation were so low. The current crisis means even more savings, even less demand for those savings and even lower interest rates and inflation, and an exchange rate that’s less responsive to increased government spending. Put simply, the costs of increased government spending in normal times do not apply.

 

The second potential cost of increased government spending is the future cost of paying interest on that debt. This is minimal in the current environment. The interest rate the Australian government pays on new debt is at its lowest level in history — just 0.8 per cent for money borrowed for ten years. Households and businesses can only dream of being able to borrow that cheaply. This is why it makes perfect sense for the burden of stimulating the economy to be placed on the government since it can borrow so much more easily and cheaply than households or businesses. This is also why it makes no sense to be asking households to access their superannuation (especially given they are already losing their jobs, taking wage cuts and watching their super balances plummet) or asking small businesses to take out loans (whether profit-contingent or otherwise). Stimulus should come from the lowest-cost supplier, and that’s the government.

 

Some might worry whether this increase in debt would mean higher taxes in the future, but there is no reason this needs to be the case. The reason a $10 million debt is a bigger problem for me than it is for Gina Rinehart is the same reason economists look at debt as a percentage of GDP — the denominator matters. The best strategy for reducing debt is to generate economic growth. The maths is simple. If the Australian economy resumes its long-run average growth rate after the current crisis, any increase in debt as a percentage of GDP will halve within twenty years. People would need to start having kids very early in life for this to become an intergenerational debt burden.

 

The third cost of increased government spending is that it can be unsustainable (meaning it can cause problems if that level of spending continues) or can destabilise financial markets. The sustainability of Australia’s current increase in spending is not a concern because it is temporary and doesn’t change the long-run growth rate of debt. Financial stability is not a concern given Australia’s debt is seen as a safe-haven by financial markets: this is why investors are willing to accept pathetically low interest rates for the honour of being able to finance our debt. Even if private investors stopped financing the government’s debt, or charged prohibitively high interest rates to do so, the Reserve Bank would take over that debt, safe in the knowledge that inflation is non-existent and the debt is denominated in our own currency.

 

All of this means that Australia won’t come out of this crisis with a debt problem. The International Monetary Fund ranks Australia’s fiscal position as being in the highest category possible, meaning there is ample room to substantially increase spending. The Australian government could increase debt by three-quarters of a trillion dollars — far more than anyone is suggesting — and still have less debt as a percentage of our economy than the average among its G20 peers.

 

Sadly, this will not prevent a flood of commentators and politicians in the coming months warning of an impending debt crisis in Australia. As soon as the health crisis shows the faintest sign of abating, or perhaps even before then, the government will face tremendous political pressure to cut spending and pay down debt. It is no doubt already facing calls to limit stimulus out of fears of future debt. To protect the living standards of Australians, it must withstand this deeply misguided advice.’

 

For more articles about Australian politics, populist politics, economics and government budgets click through.

Political Parties Hollowed Out and Identity Issues

Australian politics as with Trump’s America and U.K.’s Brexit has become hollowed out with declining membership, less organic policy development, more reliance upon both external policy development by trans national think tanks and promotion or opposition by media or PR.

An enforced focus upon immigration, population growth and refugees, or white nationalist issues, may risk bi-partisan support and ignore the immigrant heritage of Australia versus aggressive demands for a WASP white Anglo Saxon protestant and Irish Catholic culture to rule.

Brexit, Trump and Australian politics have obsessed about immigration.

Populist Politics and White Nationalism (Image copyright Pexels).

This is especially so among the less diverse above median age vote in regions, while Australia’s elites in business, government, politics and media also reflect the same mono culture or lack of diversity.

Further, positives and benefits of immigration are seldom cited and especially the leveraging of temporary resident churn over; whether students, backpackers or temporary workers who are net financial contributors supporting the tax base, vs. ageing and increasing proportion of pensioners or retirees in the permanent population.

From The Lowy Institute:

Hollowed out, but not unhinged

Judith Brett

The scenario put forth in Sam Roggeveen’s “Our very own Brexit” runs counter to the major parties’ economic realities.

Sam Roggeveen has written a lively essay on the current state of Australian federal politics, centred on the hypothetical scenario that one of the two major parties takes an anti-immigration policy to an election, overturning Australia’s post-war bipartisan commitment to immigration to gain political advantage. Such an election would be a referendum on continuing population growth, and bring to a halt our cultural diversification and our integration into Asia, which is now the largest source of permanent new settlers.

It sounds unlikely, but as Roggeveen argues, both Brexit and the election of Donald Trump were unlikely, rogue events that have overturned political assumptions. His scenario is not a prediction, he stresses, but a plausible, worst-case scenario arising from the current state of our political parties.

Our two major parties have become “hollowed out”, Roggeveen argues, untethered from their traditional social bases in class-based interests. Party membership and party loyalty have declined, leaving a more volatile and skittish electorate potentially vulnerable to the anti-immigration siren song of a party desperate to gain electoral advantage.

There are two parts to this argument. The first is that the parties have become hollowed out; the second that it is plausible that one of the major parties break the bipartisan support for the migration program.

First, the evidence is clear for the decline in rusted-on party loyalty.

However, Roggeveen does not, to my mind, have a sufficiently nuanced understanding of the reasons for this decline and writes as if it is mainly the result of a deficient political class.

In the early 20th century, when our current party system took shape, it made social and economic sense to have two parties based on two class blocks. Working and middle class, employee and employer, labour and capital – these spoke both to people’s everyday experience and sense of themselves and to competing economic interests. This is no longer the case. More than a hundred years later, Australia’s society and its economy are much more complex.

In developing their policies, parties have to broker compromises among various competing interests, and this undertaking is much harder today. To take a stark example: the problem Labor has in developing policies responsive both to its traditional union base and to the middle-class social democrats who flocked to the party with Gough Whitlam. Compared with the early 20th century, lines of class division have blurred, and new lines of difference have been politicised: gender, race, ethnicity, attitude to nature, and, after the fading of sectarianism, religion again. If the parties are failing, it is in part because the task of uniting disparate constituencies is harder…..

……Second, I do not find it plausible that one of the major parties would break the bipartisan consensus on immigration.

A minor party might succeed with an anti-immigration policy, but neither major party could afford the electoral risk. The 2016 Census reported that 49% of the Australian population was either foreign-born or had at least one foreign-born parent. Not all of these people will be on the electoral roll, but all who are citizens will be, and once on the roll, they will have to vote.

Because of compulsory voting, Australian parties do not need highly emotional and divisive policies to get out the vote, and to support them carries considerable risks. Both Brexit and the election of Trump occurred in polities with voluntary voting, where it makes electoral sense to risk courting an alienated minority. There is no doubt there is a nativist faction in Australia that would support a stop to immigration, but Australian elections are won and lost in the middle, which is occupied by increasing numbers of foreign-born voters and their children.

Also holding the major parties to their consensus on immigration is its contribution to the economy. Australia’s recent sluggish economic growth would be even slower were it not for migration. The housing and retail sectors in particular would be sharply affected by its halt. Our two major political parties may be untethered from their historical social bases, but they are not unhinged from contemporary economic reality.’

 

For more articles about populist politics, demographics, immigration and white nationalism click through.