The latest issue of Policy is out.
It contains an article by David Alexander making the argument that Australia’s low-tax egalitarianism confounds the world.
In Australia, we benefit from the dynamism and freedom that comes with smaller government, but we have done it in a way that reflects our values about egalitarianism and the fair go. Our arrangements are the end-product of our culture and history—a strong egalitarian ethos grafted onto a deep underlying British love of liberty. Our pioneers’ strong sense of camaraderie and the bushman’s talent for running things on the smell of an oily rag has translated into lean but fair-minded government.
The emergence of this Australian model—this platypus model—may confound the old northern hemisphere thinking that small government and egalitarianism are mutually incompatible. But it presents a sustainable model for successfully addressing the two eternal challenges of statecraft—maintaining internal harmony while possessing external strength.
This reminds me of John Howard telling the American Entreprise Institute that Australia had a tax system with a social vision. While that is true, it also highlights that there is little difference between conservative social democrats and the more traditional kind of social democrat. Arguments over spending revolve not around the size of government but the identity of favoured constituents.