[This was published at Independent Australia 16 Jan]
Most discussions of the roles of media in Australia are painfully narrow and superficial. Commercial media apologists claim “independence” (from whom?), demand “freedom” (well, but not for the bad guys) and have the gall to talk about “quality”. A proposal to enforce the most minimal standards on commercial media provoked hysterical indignation at the supposed threat to free speech. The idea of actually requiring editorial comment to be separated from reporting didn’t get a look in, let alone penalising those who report only a highly biassed selection of the news, or are systematically and deliberately divisive (which is all of them), or who persistently promote falsehoods.
[This longish essay was just published at Real World Economics Review Blog. It is addressed to the “heterodox” community, those diverse economists of various schools that are not the dominant neoclassical school, though otherwise it is not particularly technical.]
Much of the current discussion of reforming economics focusses on the need for pluralism, particularly in teaching curricula, and very recently again on RWER. Pluralist teaching is seen as challenging, because heterodox economic ideas are diverse, have little coherence, and are to a significant extent mutually incompatible.
This theme crops up frequently in discussions on RWER. Now Cameron Murray, in the first issue of Inside, published by the Institute for Dynamic Economic Analysis, proposes to identify over-arching themes that can bring out the relationships among the various approaches. This is commendable but it will not, on its own, result in a reformed economics.
[I haven’t been completely idle, just focussing on other things. This article hasn’t been placed yet, but here it is for now.]
Whenever it is proposed to enforce the most minimal standards on commercial media, they erupt in righteous indignation at the supposed threat to free speech, and the need to preserve “independent” and “quality” media. The recent screening of First Contact by SBS and NITV, and the proposed cuts to ABC and SBS funding, bring the issues of quality and independence into sharp relief.
If the commercial media’s offerings had some serious quality, then shows like First Contact would not be so remarkable, and so much remarked. Many more of us would already know the gist of what the five participants learnt, in the course of a month’s immersion in Aboriginal Australia.
Published today at Independent Australia, as Australia, the United States, the Islamic State and oil. The IA version has some excellent videos included.
US foreign policy flow chart
There was a story from one of the Gulf Wars about a reporter asking Western troops why they thought they were there. A US soldier said something like “Ah’m here to serve mah country ma’am.” A British soldier said “Wool, itsa oil, innit?”
As yet another Western intervention/invasion in the Middle East gathers pace, why is the commentariat apparently oblivious to the role of oil? Oil has driven a century of meddling by Western countries, meddling that has fed generations of resentment and radicalisation, and you can be sure oil is behind the current interest of the US in Islamic State.
My partner and I recently completed a long trip around Australia. Not such an unusual thing these days, though we did some less-travelled parts, like the Tanami Road. Also I’m as interested in seeing the lay of the land as seeing particular celebrated sites, and in noting how well the land is fairing under the (mis)management of whitefellas. I wrote some despatches to friends in the course of our travels, and I have now added photos to illustrate my commentary. The illustrated commentary is now on a page here.
So you can have a look if you’re interested. It’s one person’s take on the country, fairly long, and with personal anecdotes mixed in.
[Probably last post until Sept – see previous post. The tax-cutting mania may have started in California, so it’s fitting if CA shows the way back. It was always nonsense. The real reason is to shrink government. Governments get in the way of rich people making money, because a few of the things they do are good for the rest of us. Well, used to be good for the rest of us. So Jerry Brown may be among the most subversive people on the planet at the moment, because he’s showing government isn’t all bad. It can do good stuff. Of course the lesson will probably be lost on Oz for another decade, it usually takes about that long.]
How Jerry Brown Got Californians to Raise Their Taxes and Save Their State
There’s a case to be made that Jerry Brown is the most successful high-profile Democrat in America today. And there is simply no debating that, after four decades in the national limelight, he stands out as an intellectually dynamic and politically untethered leader in a time of gridlock, frustration and dysfunction.
[I will be taking a break from posting for June-July-August. We will be travelling our large continent, something long deferred. Uluru, Larapinta, Tanami, Kimberley, Hammersly, jarrah, Nullarbor and points along the way.
I may get one more post up. Otherwise that’s it for a while and we’ll see what kind of shape the country and the world are in when we get back. Interesting times, of course. So here’s George Monbiot, one of the saner commentators, writing about something not mentionable in polite company.]
It’s simple. If we can’t change our economic system, our number’s up
It’s the great taboo of our age – and the inability to discuss the pursuit of perpetual growth will prove humanity’s undoing
George Monbiot, Wednesday 28 May 2014
‘The mother narrative to all this is carbon-fuelled expansion. Our ideologies are mere subplots.’ Photograph: Alamy