Last week in the United States the economic historian Deirdre McCloskey delivered a speech to a gathering organised by the Cato Institute. A link to the website providing the presentation is here.
The speech itself concerns important themes, such as the power of rhetoric to effect material changes in the human condition and the execution of productive plans emboldened by rhetorical dignity to the bourgeois, which will surely feature prominently in McCloskey’s forthcoming book, The Treasured Bourgeoisie: How Markets and Innovation Became Ethical, 1600?1848, and Then Suspect.
If you have an hour of spare time, I do recommend you take time to watch the video contained in the link. The excellent after?speech presentation by George Mason University economist Donald Boudreaux (convener of the Cafe Hayek blog) also makes for compulsory viewing.
Any discerning observer of current Australian political affairs would be well aware of the great risks to economic activity posed by the irresponsible use of language by senior federal government ministers.
Rhetorical attacks on the wealth attained by entrepreneurs, honestly attained through the market process, represents an attack on all those, both residing domestically and overseas, who volunteer to purchase their products. When Swan and other ministers attack the rich, they also attack every Australian’s economic prospects, by harming the nation’s reputation as an private sector investment destination and, perhaps worse still, discouraging people from setting up their own businesses in the service of others.
Further, when the Gillard government rhetorically praises the growth in legislation during its period in office it not only endorses the statism they clearly seek to perpetuate, but the resulting labour, energy, education, childcare, health, transport and other cost increases induced by regulations serves as another backhanded slap of disrespect toward those engaged in productive conduct.
I consider Deridre McCloskey to be correct when she states that the elixir of economic prosperity does not solely rely upon the materialist explanations of the modern economics profession. Language matters, rhetoric matters, and ideas matter, too.
Everyday participants in the Australian economy have had to suffer six years of economic policy indignity which, at its core, have been inspired by the language, rhetoric and ideas of socialism infusing the minds of the political class.
This situation is not absolutely guaranteed to change in the event of a prospective change in government come September 2013. However, if the current lot are sent packing then, at least, such an outcome would serve as a suitable punishment for the grotesque political abuse of language conducted in our names from late 2007.