Iraq, Intepreting Labour Market Trends, Ray Evans

What to do about the Iraq war has produced widely diverse opinions and an indication that the principal player, Obama, may not even authorise US aircraft bombings of the extremists. He wants a “comprehensive strategy”, which sounds like doing little even though the Administration is now publicly recognising that jihadism is rife.

In fact, the capture by US special forces of a Libyan terrorist allegedly involved in the attack on the Benghazi consulate, and the decision to physically remove him from Libya (? legal) and charge him in US courts, is a complete about turn on the previous attitude that the attack was simply a local response to the publishing in the US of a critique of the Koran. Perhaps this is an attempt by Obama and the then Secretary of State Clinton to acknowledge they were wrong (but without saying so) and to clear the decks for the November elections and Clinton’s announcement that she will be a Presidential candidate.

Below Andrew Bolt rightly identifies the adverse effects of Obama’s withdrawal policy and argues that “the danger is in then leaving the battlefield to the next enemy”. In that event there would be a serious risk that one side of the battle field would contain extremist groups prepared to extend the battle outside the Middle East and its surrounds and, in short course, to have the capacity to do so with nukes.

Greg Sheridan addresses the major practical difficulties of intervention but concludes

“We cannot abandon Iraq, because the consequences of an ISIS style terrorist state would be too dangerous. But there is no chance of US intervention on the ground. If you’re smart, though, you can achieve a lot with money, training, sometimes weapons, and diplomatic influence. It’s the Great Game re-imagined, and terribly bloody.” I would go further: the despatch of a body of troops to Baghdad could be even smarter in stopping the extremists and provide an opportunity to publicise that the threat from extremist Islamists is not confined to the Middle East and its surrounds. It is not surprising that a high proportion of the American public does not support military intervention: but that could change if Obama did a back flip and publicly acknowledged that the extremists constitute a threat to liberal societies and to the US.

An article (below) in the Financial Review reported that RBA Assistant Governor, Christopher Kent, has identified the recent big increase in those not actively seeking jobs and attributed this mainly to an increase in retirees. My letter (published below) suggests that the deterrent effects on employment arising from the increased regulatory arrangements under Fair Work have had a bigger effect than acknowledged. It also suggests that:

  • with the growth in employment falling to well below the budget forecast and the likely continued more rapid increase in drop outs, the justification for early reform of workplace relations is enhanced;
  • while the unemployment rate is fairly stable, this is not an indication that the labour market is in good shape. A better indicator is the extent to which employment growth is absorbing the growth in the working age population. By contrast with the period before Fair Work, it is much slower.

Also included below is an article from The Australian acknowledging the major contribution to public debate on economic and social issues by Ray Evans, who died earlier this week. While he is probably best known for his term as President of the HR Nicholls Society, his intellectual contribution extended way beyond that. That contribution lives on because its clarity and exposure of the benefits from a society based on individualism penetrated the minds of many participants.