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The Forum > Article Comments > Australian liberalism: ideas from across the political spectrum > Comments

Australian liberalism: ideas from across the political spectrum : Comments

By Chris Lewis, published 1/10/2008

We need to debate what is an appropriate level of government intervention.

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Chris, isn't the question more to do with the purpose, nature and impact of government intervention than with the level? For example, I'm disappointed when government intervenes in family life in order to tackle supposed crises like obesity. I'm also very worried when so much intervention in the lives of children is justified through deterministic references to the importance of the first 5 years of life, as if adults and even adolescents have no capacity to succeed unless their parents fit the 'model' beloved by the current crop of government social workers.

Similarly, when government intervention actively impedes economic growth and imposes unnecessary costs on business - as so much of the reporting required of small business currently does - then the intervention has to be changed to reduce or eliminate its negative impact.

It is possible to trace at least some elements of the current financial crisis to the desire by governments to use the finance system to achieve their own political ends. The Clinton administration, for example, tried to use Fannie Mae to provide cheap loans to disadvantaged groups in US society, ignoring warnings from Fannie Mae personnel that these loans would almost never be repaid. The trick for governments is to intervene to support the fair and efficient working of markets not to adopt an ideological position about the role of government in managing the economy.
Posted by Senior Victorian, Wednesday, 1 October 2008 5:13:50 PM
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