This almost completed Federal election was about a lot of things, many of them contradictory, and beyond the wisdom of the bulk of the electorate to distinguish the rhetoric and spin from the facts. Does the sad view of the crumbling social and economic infrastructure taken by Paul Krugman in the NY Times apply as much to Australia as it does to the US?
Take the NBN broadband “debate” for instance. Depending on which commentator you read, or listen to, the answer is different, a 45 billion dollar bet on technology and a future need for the 100mps speeds to be delivered, or a 6 billion dollar patch up that will allow markets and technological developments to deliver a satisfactory outcome. All the other debates in this election, health, education, infrastructure, and the rest (apart from the localised pork-barreling, everyone knows what that is for) are in the same boat, long on words, and promises, short on anything resembling a responsible analysis of the things we know, and assumptions underpinning those we do not know much about, but that may emerge.
One thing I believe, is that unless we have some sort of vision about where we need to be, and what we need to do to get there, together with the long term investments that need to be made, the institutions we currently have will erode further, as is apparently happening in the US.
As a start, lets find a way to bring back some of the manufacturing capability that has been exported over the last 20 years, as it is pretty clear now that actually making stuff is far better in the long run for the whole economy than just managing the transactions.