Ideas@TheCentre – The Centre for Independent Studies


Ideas@TheCentre brings you ammunition for conversations around the table.  3 short articles from CIS researchers emailed every Friday on the issues of the week.

Davos deserts economics

Glenn Fahey

31 January 2020 | Ideas@TheCentre

Despite global economic headwinds, international institutions — often with exclusively economic missions —are increasingly sliding their priorities out of whack. That’s a real disservice, as the world needs economic remedies to the global malaise.

World economic growth in 2019 was the slowest since the GFC, the trade environment is more turbulent, and there appears no end to sluggish productivity. As the IMF summed up recently: “the outlook remains precarious.”

As a result, there’s perhaps no better time for trailblazing novel economic solutions. Such fixes could be warding off sustained lose-lose trade wars, stabilising market volatility around international risks (think, coronavirus), and establishing shared expectations for sustainable, mutually beneficial resource extraction and energy policies.

In this globalised world, we’re often inclined to look internationally for answers to seemingly intractable problems. Yet, much like corporations that have lost their way advancing social agendas, rather than the profits of shareholders, some international institutions have taken to flunking their economic responsibilities in favour of flashing their green credentials.

It’s clear that constructive debate is needed to properly balance economic interests and climate mitigation — domestically and internationally.

Cool heads warn against over-enthusiastic climate mitigation efforts to ensure the “cure isn’t more painful than the disease.” To this end, a recent report signals the ‘green swan’ risks of climate change and cautions against mitigation strategies that are either too drastic or too mild.

But despite the desperate need for a sober and constructive search for economic solutions, last week’s World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos showcased yet more unashamed division and alarmism that ultimately advances nobody’s interests.

It’s not just the eccentric guestlist to blame either. The WEF’s 2020 Global Risks Report — while recognising that we’re facing “an extended low growth period” — appears to have tipped the scales overwhelmingly away from economic concerns.

True, these potential risks needn’t be mutually exclusive, but it’s a far cry from the concerns that used to keep WEF up at night — typically, fiscal and financial market risks. Leaning heavy on environmentalism, while being dispiritingly lite on economics, and indeed, on pragmatism, doesn’t cut it in terms of the fixes that are needed.

There’s no doubting we face a precarious global outlook — all the more reason that economic institutions should stay in their lanes and provide the international economic leadership that is seriously lacking.

Pride and prejudice

Peter Kurti

31 January 2020 | Ideas@TheCentre

Things have come to a pretty pass in Australia if you can’t say something in praise of our country without being damned as a racist and a bigot with a distorted view of history.

But that’s just what happened to Labor’s shadow education spokeswoman, Tanya Plibersek, when she stood up for proud patriotism and proposed teaching the citizenship pledge in schools.

The citizenship ceremony entails each new citizen making the pledge of commitment to our country and clearly accepting the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship.

Sharing democratic beliefs, respecting rights and liberties, and obeying the law of the land are all part of what a new citizen pledges to do in their adopted country.

Plibersek made her remarks in a speech delivered on Australia Day when nearly 28,000 people, who had committed to make this country their home, became new Australians at citizenship ceremonies.

The shadow minister simply thinks it would be a good idea for children to be taught about the same responsibilities and privileges of citizenship in the classroom.

But her desire to promote patriotism and national pride amongst children was met with howls of outrage from the progressive Left who are always quick to condemn but slow to serve.

One left-wing commentator even dismissed the very concept of ‘Australia’ as an exercise in “spurious geography”.

But the distaste that many on the progressive left have for Australia is unlikely to be shared by many of the 5 million people who have become citizens since citizenship was introduced in 1949.

The liberty and openness of our country continues to be hugely attractive to people from around the world who dream about calling Australia “home”. But that’s not to say everything’s perfect here.

Plibersek has been consistent in arguing that one can “cherish this nation and yet want to make it better.”

The words of the pledge are an important reminder of just how much there is to cherish.

CEO’s ludicrous display

Monica Wilkie

31 January 2020 | Ideas@TheCentre

The corporate wokery are now taking their whining points from British sitcoms.

Chartered Management Institute CEO Ann Francke believes workplaces should move to curtail “chat about football or cricket” as being divisive; excluding women, and “a gateway to more laddish behaviour.”  Francke does not want such behaviour banned — just ‘moderated.’ In corporate HR speak this is a meaningless distinction – why moderate when you can ban?

Further, does Francke think sports talk should be penalised? If she wants employers to ‘moderate’ such chat, if an avid football fan does not comply will there be consequences? And if so, what consequences are appropriate?

Perhaps employees should be provided  a pre-approved list of conversation topics. Although, if sports are an offensive gateway drug to debauched discussion it is hard to imagine what topics are appropriate.

We all appreciate feeling included in the workplace. But employees should not be forced to stop discussing topics they’re interested in because someone might feel excluded.

But Francke is not the only one to lament the blokey banter over sports.

The nerdy stars of The IT Crowd, Roy and Moss, faced similar sports talk ‘exclusion’, but found a solution that could also help today’s working women.

They are rescued by Bluffball — a website of daily football phrases to help you fake your way through the frightening sports talk.

So, just as Moss can use the site to “sound like a big normal man”, women who are “being forced” to discuss sports can join in, and office harmony can be maintained.

And, if Bluffball is not viable, Francke can consider other options.

She can be comforted that women can – and do – enjoy watching sports and are happy to engage in lively watercooler chat about the latest sports news.

Also, her concern that chatting about sports can lead to “chat about sexual conquests” is nonsense and can be immediately dismissed.

When your workplace policy reads like an IT Crowd sketch perhaps it is time to re-think “that ludicrous display.”