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The Forum > Article Comments > An imperfect liberal democratic perspective > Comments

An imperfect liberal democratic perspective : Comments

By Chris Lewis, published 25/1/2011

Austrian economics ignores the real world consequences of its recommendations.

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I was looking forward to a discussion of the contending orthodox versus Austrian school views of the issues behind the GFC but was disappointed to find that Chris has failed to land a blow, or even to get in the ring.

To do that, he would need to make an argument that does not rely entirely on misrepresentation, personal argument, appeal to absent authority, non-sequiturs, or assuming what is in issue.

Then, to even begin a competent argument, he would need to
o understand and be able to correctly represent the theory he purports to criticize not merely quoting garbled criticisms by its detractors
o understand the refutations that Austrian theory has made of the amalgam of Marxian, Keynesian and neo-classical theories on which he himself relies without apparently being aware of it
o take account of those refutations in making good his own critique of Austrian theory.

Chris has done none of that, and I grow tired of shooting fish in a barrel. Chris has made no case to answer, and it is poor sport to keep berating him for failing to meet minimal standards of logical thought that he is either unable or unwilling to understand.

E for effort, Im afraid.
Posted by Peter Hume, Tuesday, 25 January 2011 4:09:56 PM
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Peter,

sorry I am not up to your standard.

Perhaps you could enlighten us with some of your publications, or even present an article for readers to absorb your wisdom.
Posted by Chris Lewis, Tuesday, 25 January 2011 4:15:49 PM
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Nice piece. I think the piece Mr Hume is asking for would be inaccessible to most readers and ultimately, would be a different article. You can't criticize an apple for not being an orange.

No single economic theory is without its problems. Economies by their very nature are an amorphous entity, evolving with the players within them. There will always be some who break the rules, indeed, capitalism is predicated on the notion that we can't trust large groups to control market forces. So imposing a universal system, even a free capitalist one, presents a paradox insofar as it requires players to not break the rules whilst basing itself on the notion that they always will.

In relation to China, I'm constantly amazed by the uncritical voices who extol China's economic virtues without also mentioning the unsustainable practices that are responsible for mainaining the breakneck growth we've seen in recent times. I guess it's a similar variation on those who went along with the wild ride that culminated in the recent US stock market crash. Nobody wants to be the one to point out that the stormclouds are gathering.

As for the idea that China's system is somehow more dynamic, I'd argue it's much less innovative. The bulk of Chinese GDP is still generated by state owned companies. Hardly an advertisement for private industry and innovation, particularly given that China lacks any large, well known brands. It's also interesting to note how much of that GDP is coming from property speculation, and given the insane increases in real estate prices seen in Beijing, Shanghai and elsewhere, this seems like another property disaster in the making.
Posted by TurnRightThenLeft, Tuesday, 25 January 2011 7:43:48 PM
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Nice article Chris. Far from being involved in free trade, the history of China's manufacturing is one of subsidies designed to put its international competition out of business. I remember an Indian seller of silk complaining that he could not compete with China because, for his price for just the silk material, the Chinese would sell the customer a finished wedding dress. Now the Chinese have openly stated that they want to become the world leaders in solar cell manufacturing and they are going to undercut international competitors to do it. We should impose tariffs on Chinese goods that are subsidised by the state or produced under working conditions that violate what we consider reasonable labour practices. Yes, ti would make many things more expensive here - WOW! we would have to cut down on consumption of "stuff"! But we would also have more people employed in manufacturing and our economy would be healthier through diversity.
Posted by michael_in_adelaide, Tuesday, 25 January 2011 11:00:48 PM
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A nice middle of the road potted history of opposing economic ideologies. But finally conservative, offering nothing in terms of fresh thinking, in fact bolstering the status quo between liberal and protectionist policies. This kind of social "maintenance" is typical of popular politics, driven of course by Australia's dominant middle class. The real problem to be addressed is that economic liberalism, whatever its merits, is anti-social, even anarchist, and democratic socialism is unsustainable. Both are environmentally unsustainable.
On China; the abuses going on there precisely mirror those of our own early industrial era. Moreover, we absolutely condone and indeed encourage these abuses by selling China raw materials and buying cheap Chinese goods. Similarly, the Victorian bourgeoisie (and Western equivalents) were directly responsible for the misery that purchased their lifestyles.
So Chris, I hope you'll go on now and develop an angle, an opposing or alternative view to the vacillating economics that continue to demean cultures and rape the planet.
Posted by Squeers, Wednesday, 26 January 2011 7:03:26 AM
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squeers,

There is a lot of truth to what you say; I certainly don't offer any perspective capable of addressing environmental considerations or the competitive behaviour of other nations.

If i was to offer a perspective more considerate of environmental concerns alone, I would probably cop a lot of flack from those representing the perspective of poorer nations and their eco opportunities.

Whatever way I look at it, I do not see any easy (or original) answers, besides those offered by the extremes of the left and right which are unlikely to be fulfilled due to the ongoing competitive realities of the world.

Yes, the world is likely to remain unfair for a very long time, most likely forever. That is why we also have to pay considerable attention to the national interest, just as China does.

And Western societies may have indeed behaved like China does now.
However, I certainly hope we never return to those days just to remain competitive.
Posted by Chris Lewis, Wednesday, 26 January 2011 7:26:26 AM
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