What is wrong with this country in 1 sentence

Ken Henry AC is the former Secretary of the Commonwealth Treasury.  It was his “measured” advice to then Prime Minister Rudd and Treasurer Swan, that in one swoop took Australia’s net debt from negative to positive (a negative net debt means is a positive net equity, ie saving).

Ken Henry also gave new meaning to Keynesian economic with his specialist branch of Henryism.  Whereas Keynes advocated for the government to pay 1 set of workers to dig holes and another to fill those same holes, Henry came up with the “go early, go hard, go household” concept.  An economic concept that was the foundation of the economic policy highs of the Rudd government including, but not limited to $900 cheques, pink bats and cash for clunkers.

In addition to his comfortable, but underfunded defined benefit public service pension, Ken Henry is currently the Chairman of the National Australia Bank (NAB), Australia’s 4th largest bank by market capitalisation and largest business bank.  He is also on the board of the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX).

In an interview with the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD), in the context of a discussion around the banking royal commission, Dr Henry is quoted saying:

… part of what’s required is for businesses to do a better job of ensuring capitalism produces social and environmental outcomes that are sustainable, enduring and benefit the community at large.

Yes.  The former chief economic adviser to government believes that it is the role of business to produce social and environmental outcomes.   It seems that the business of business is no longer business.  According to Dr Henry, the business of business is sugar and spice and everything nice.

One might wonder what Dr Henry’s views on the role of business would be if he sat on the board of a company that was not a regulated monopoly or a regulated oligopoly, both with the benefit of an implied government guarantee; within a financial system architecture designed and deployed by the government agency he used to lead.

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21 Responses to What is wrong with this country in 1 sentence

  1. Leon L

    The title is obviously a hint “sentance”

  2. Robber Baron

    In the revolution that awaits us we must not forget to hang Dr Henry.

  3. Sounds like he has been eating too many hairy wombats.

  4. MPH

    And yet since the shareholders he represents as chairman of the board are mostly politically connected super funds, with continued inflows that blindly buy the ASX200 of which NAB is some large proportion, there is no consequence to NAB for him spouting this (potentially illegal) nonsense.

  5. Aussieute

    The other 99.999% of part of what’s required that this song has no idea about is that government needs to get their grubby fingers out of my pocket, to quit putting red and green tape regulations in my way of running a legal business, while growing the bureaucracy … then and only then will my business be in a position to do a better job of ensuring capitalism produces social and environmental outcomes that are sustainable, enduring and benefit the community at large.

  6. I am Spartacus

    The title is obviously a hint “sentance”

    not so sophisticated. just rushed. thanks for pickup.

  7. stackja

    Ken was Peter Costello appointee.

  8. cohenite

    Gramsci’s work is done.

  9. Entropy

    Henry’s statement makes perfect sense to a member of the political class.
    How else would someone with no experience or demonstrated skills in successful business management but heaps as a social justice warrior land a sinecure at the upper, lucrative end of Big Business unless you added such requirements to doing business?

  10. Bruce in WA

    And there, in just one piece of text, is all that is wrong with Australia today.

  11. Rob MW

    It was his “measured” advice to then Prime Minister Rudd and Treasurer Swan, that in one swoop took Australia’s net debt from negative to positive (a negative net debt means is a positive net equity, ie saving).

    It must be remembered that all this occurred after he rode his push bike head first into a ‘Beware of Wombats’ road side sign which led him to completely disappearing down a Wombat hole only to reemerge with a ‘Wombats Theory’. There’s no cure for this affliction.

  12. Up The Workers!

    Ken Henry was once the Chief Advisor to the “World’s Greatest Treasurer”, Wayne Swan, the legendary A.L.P. numbers genius.

    It was Swan who once said: “There are only THREE types of people in this world: Those who can count, and those who can’t!”

  13. max

    as long as we do not have honest money we are going to have idiots in charge

    “An almost hysterical antagonism toward the gold standard is one issue which unites statists of all persuasions.
    gold and economic freedom are inseparable, that the gold standard is an instrument of laissez-faire and that each implies and requires the other.
    Stripped of its academic jargon, the welfare state is nothing more than a mechanism by which governments confiscate the wealth of the productive members of a society to support a wide variety of welfare schemes. A substantial part of the confiscation is effected by taxation. But the welfare statists were quick to recognize that if they wished to retain political power, the amount of taxation had to be limited and they had to resort to programs of massive deficit spending, i.e., they had to borrow money, by issuing government bonds, to finance welfare expenditures on a large scale.
    Under a gold standard, the amount of credit that an economy can support is determined by the economy’s tangible assets, since every credit instrument is ultimately a claim on some tangible asset. But government bonds are not backed by tangible wealth, only by the government’s promise to pay out of future tax revenues, and cannot easily be absorbed by the financial markets. A large volume of new government bonds can be sold to the public only at progressively higher interest rates. Thus, government deficit spending under a gold standard is severely limited. The abandonment of the gold standard made it possible for the welfare statists to use the banking system as a means to an unlimited expansion of credit.
    In the absence of the gold standard, there is no way to protect savings from confiscation through inflation. There is no safe store of value. If there were, the government would have to make its holding illegal, as was done in the case of gold.
    The financial policy of the welfare state requires that there be no way for the owners of wealth to protect themselves.
    This is the shabby secret of the welfare statists’ tirades against gold. Deficit spending is simply a scheme for the confiscation of wealth. Gold stands in the way of this insidious process. It stands as a protector of property rights. If one grasps this, one has no difficulty in understanding the statists’ antagonism toward the gold standard.”
    by Alan Greenspan

  14. Howard Hill

    What is wrong with this country in 1 sentence

    A whole sentence? I can sum it up in one word. Government!

  15. Anonandon

    Thanks Spartacus. I’d forgotten about that partisan fuckwit masquerading as a frank and fearless public servant.

  16. H B Bear

    Anyone who recalls the Wombat Whisperer’s evidence to Senate Estimates at the time of Goosesteen’s Mining Tax Mk I and how the banks would treat an IOU from the Federal government should be very concerned about this wombat molester being anywhere near a commercial bank boardroom.

  17. mareeS

    Sorry to contradict Ken Henry, but business is the job of business.

    It isn’t a social welfare system.

    When it gets too hard, we get out and take our money elsewhere.

    Donald Trump is proving the point, and dragging the world economic system along, however unwillingly, behind him.

    He is a genius.

  18. closeapproximation

    As ntaleb likes to say: “no skin in the game” = bad decision-making

  19. miltonf

    Evidence for Schumpeter’s contention that capitalism will destroy itself- a victim of its own success.

  20. Marginal Productivity of Labour

    An interesting take by Ralph Raico — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Id7NkXjCzJ8 — when speaking on Mises’ view as to why it was the west that industrialised, and not the east, was the almost oft-handed comment, according to Raico, by Mises, on the love of freedom in the west. This was then of course incorporated into social, political and economic mores. And it produced the industrialisation of the west.

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