A cracking interview with Dr Richard Denniss, Executive Director of The Australia Institute, Economist, Author, Academic Escapee, and a man who really does not pull his punches!
“Keep in mind that Adam Smith, the founder of economics, he was a rebel trying to escape feudalism. He lived in a world where kings and barons and dukes told their indentured labor who their kids could marry… so the idea of economics was radical at the time, like hang on, what if people could make their own decisions?”
“Now, of course, some people have taken that way too far and said therefore If people are good at deciding what to have for breakfast, we shouldn’t ever regulate individual behaviour. Now that’s ridiculous. Imagine the roads if everyone could decide what side of the road to drive on, whether to care about red lights…”
“And, of course, guess what an individual would never be able to build? A road. The only reason that there’s a road for us to be individualistic on, if we wanted to be, was that first we first banded together to work collectively to build a road.”
“So economics calls itself the science of the efficient allocation of resources. It tells itself that we help answer the question of what to produce, when to produce, and for whom to produce… but there’s nothing in economics that says we shouldn’t collect more tax and have a health system that’s as good as the Nordic countries. There’s nothing in economics that says that we should cut taxes for high income earners and spend less on aged care. These are choices.”
“In the last 20 years there’s been a unique attack on the whole enlightenment idea of western democracy. Because there’s been this enormous attack on data, on science. In order to protect the profits of the oil and gas and coal industry, the corporate sector around the world was actually willing to have a fight with science.”
“You just have to think: who benefits from this? You know… high income earners demanding tax cuts… big business demanding tax cuts… hmm. interesting. Employers saying workers need lower wages. I reckon I can get to a lot of these conclusions without using any economics. But they use a LOT of economics to get to the same conclusion. So the main tell is a lot of fancy words that are concealing the obvious self interest of the position being advocated.”