mnot’s blog

Design depends largely on constraints.” — Charles Eames

Monday, 9 February 2004


Irony Defined

In the same week that Melbourne is yet again called the most liveable city in the world (a regular occurrence), John Howard, the Prime Minister of Australia, has negotiated a free-trade agreement that allows US businesses to invest as if it were just another state in the union.

The effects will be felt widely and for a long time; Australia has been moving more towards the States every year, and not in a good way. In combination with the effects of the GST, this will likely mean that the things that make Melbourne (and Australia) special are all the more likely to disappear.

It’s hard to underestimate the importance of small businesses to Australian culture; whether it’s the corner milk bar, butcher, computer shop or news agent. All of this is the antithesis of the American big-box Walmart retail and subdivision model, and they’ll wither in competition with American mega-corporations; there soon won’t be any choice but to work for and buy from them, and it’ll drastically change the Australian way of life.

I’ve always said that Australians didn’t know how good they had it; now they will, unfortunately.

UPDATE: see also a more detailed explanation (PDF, page 2) of the new foreign investment rules and some of their effects at HSBC Australia research.


grumpy said:

I’m no fan of WalMart or big retail stores, but isn’t it a little presumptious of you to think that Australians like the smaller shops better than the larger ones?

This is truly one case where the market will decide. There’s nothing like letting people vote with their money. If Mega-Lo-Mart goes bankrupt, then you’ll be right. But if they do quite well, then who are you to dismiss the will of the people?

Monday, February 9 2004 at 7:18 AM

Anon Y. Mous said:

In the infamous words of Winston in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, “We’re being fucked.”

Monday, February 9 2004 at 10:59 AM

Geoff Halprin said:

“The market will work it out” is the greatest excuse that consistently gets rolled out by US capitalists. It’s crap. The bottom line is that the natural conclusion of an unfettered capitalist society – which the US is normally, and especially under Bush and his cronies – is that one person ends up owning everything. It’s pure darwinism. And make no mistake, the USA is a very pure capitalist society wrapped in the clothing of a democracy. The role of government is (supposed to be) to balance the rights of the individual (or business) against the rights of others, and to ensure that those without power are not unduly discriminated against. Without government invervention, “the market will work it out” is a joke. Worse, in the case of W, the government intervenes on behalf of its cronies, exacerbating the problem.

As to the FTA, it’s an awful lot like an elephant having sex with a mouse. The USA enters into these bi-lateral agreements with “allies” in order to avoid being called to account by multi-lateral agreements where the playing field must, by definition, be more level. Australia is about to be raped by the USA as special interests buy up our resources (you can buy a lot for $800M) and then relax their trade barriers. Alas, our prime minister is such a sycophant that he’s blind to the interests of the country.


Tuesday, February 17 2004 at 5:01 AM

david said: The Irony Party of Australia’s electronic pamphlet

Friday, January 6 2006 at 7:52 AM