Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Starve those elephants

Posted by Dave Bath on 2008-01-23

We have too long ignored the "elephants in the room" – excessive national debt, speculative bubbles, overconsumption, counterproductive growth….

Rudd promised us new leadership and better economic management.  To me, this is looking like a sad joke already.

A new type of leadership would start by being honest about the economy, tell Australians the economy is stuffed and we need to pull back.  A new type of leadership would be innovative, embracing recession to strenghten us.

Classicists will recall another threat from elephants, and successful counter-intuitive strategies.  Rudd and Swan should consider Fabius Maximus Cunctator.

Fabius saved Rome from Hannibal by avoiding battle, letting Hannibal rampage across Italy in a semi-controlled fashion, while Fabius protected lives and allowed Rome to rebuild its strength.

Australia cannot fight our elephants head on by "going for growth".  We’d be destroyed.  Our economy has almost no productive strength.  We must instead let a recession burn through the economic landscape, starve those elephants, while we rebuild our economic muscles.

From both the right and left of politics, there are arguments that regular recessions are necessary, particularly after unreasonably long bull runs that cosset speculators and keep resources away from innovative producers.

I’ll discuss such arguments in more detail in future posts.

As I see it, we desperately need a recession to get our national debt under control.  We need something to knock some sense into us, make us stop spending money on non-essential imports and burst every bubble we can find (including housing).

A recession can be managed in a way that prevents harm to real people, reducing economic flab and strengthening sinews.  A recession is an opportunity for intelligent leadership.

Rudd and Swan should ponder the Cunctator, who was pilloried for his "cowardly" strategies in the short term, but eventually gained the greatest possible honor as "Father of the Country".  Do they know any Fabians?

Side Puns For Intellectual Snobs
What else from Hannibal’s story reminds you of the Australian economy over the last decade or so?

  • Arrogant, self-serving leaders.
  • Forgetting your relationship to water and forests.
  • Some race ahead, others left behind, everybody strung out.
  • So overburdened you can’t keep your head above water.

Flamen’ stupidity!  Our own Trasimene!


4 Responses to “Starve those elephants”

  1. Zombinol said

    Each day that Rudd or Swan fail to expose the issue they erode their own ability to argue that it was economic mismanagement under Howard that helped to get us here.

    Eventually people will associate the issue with the people that have to deal with it, not those that caused it.

    Howard from the grave…

  2. […] Bath Continuing on the topic of why an Australian recession can be a good thing (starting with Starve those elephants), this post will look at justifications with a right-wing perspective (that this […]

  3. Peter said

    I enjoyed reading your posts on the benefits of having a recession. It sure makes a change from reading ridiculous comments which virtually suggest that recessions are completely disastrous and even world ending events.

    Of course recessions will have a negative impact upon some people. However, they are inevitable and usually only temporary. Sometimes you have to go backwards to go forwards.

  4. Dave Bath said

    Peter, thanks for the feedback, it will encourage me to get started on my planned post on the benefits of recession from a lefty perspective.

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