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Will ANNIPP succeed?  James Cumes
 Jun 19, 2011 03:10 PDT 


Thank you for your message. ANIPP seems to have got off to a good start
Much depends of course on the culture within which it operates now and
will operate as the months pass.
In the only economic crisis which, in magnitude, resembles the grave
economic - and social - situation today, our culture was negative and
unable to cope. The Great Depression in Australia was marked by the
dreariness of despair more than by any serious challenge to meet and
beat our problems. The Premiers' Plan characterised it all too well.
The culture as World War Two "progressed" was fundamentally different.
The crisis of war seemed to drive us to try to do better and we began
making national and international plans for the postwar period.
One difference was that we now had a political philosophy and an
economic theory that made us more confident - though still not one
hundred per cent convinced that what we were planning would work.
Those who went through both those good and bad periods saw the transit
as something marvellous - a genuine revolution in culture and in the
sort of economy and society that we hoped to build.
The most satisfying thing was that, to a large extent, we did build it.
The building and our enjoyment of it lasted until about 1969.
By then, the great men of Nugget Coombs' generation had mostly died,
retired or were not as active as they had been.
There was not much fire in the bellies of those who succeeded them.
In 1969, the Nixon Administration introduced the world to the delights
of stagflation. In 1971, they introduced us to the even greater rapture
of volatile exchange rates by closing the Gold Window.
I was a senior Foreign Affairs officer at that time. In 1971, I wrote a
book called "The Indigent Rich: A Theory of General Equilibrium in a
Keynesian System". In 1974, I wrote "Inflation: A Study in Stability" on
the same theme - that the current policies did not work.
From 1969, the governments had changed but, even more importantly, the
culture of the Public Service and more particularly the Treasury had
changed. It wasn't analysing the situation in the way we had done twenty
or thirty years before. For the most part, it followed the lead of the
We could have been an Asian Tiger, I maintained. Instead we were content
to let our economy run down, to have our industries "offshored" and to
return to the overdue dependence on mine and farm that we had been at
pains to put behind us in the period from 1945 to 1969.
No matter what the govenment - Labor or Liberal - we continued on the
path of wanton consumerism, "free" markets and "free" trade,
globalisation, privatisation, deregulation and the rest right up until
the present day.
I wrote about all that in "The Multiple Abyss" (first edition 1996) and
"America's Suicidal Statecraft: The Self-destruction of a Superpower"
The fundamental question now is whether the Global Financial Crisis has
hit us - Australia included - hard enough to start us thinking about our
policies and then for us to have the courage to embark on revlutionary
Is ANIPP working within a favourable culture? If not, can it change the
culture sufficiently to make the culture more congenial to the work it
is doing? Alternatively, will the culture show some life and enough of
it to return us to the sort of imperatives of 1945 and so kick ANIPP
along in the progressive way we would like?
I attach below part of a piece I have recently sent to BBC World
I wish ANIPP every success in what is a worthy enterprise.

(Dr) James Cumes

Submission to BBC World Challenge

Ten years ago, I started a process to launch the project for Victory
Over Want (VOW).

In January 2002, I published details of the anti-poverty project
worldwide. The text is reproduced on pages 591 to 605 of “America’s
Suicidal Statecraft: The Self-destruction of a Superpower” (2006; ISBN

At the time and as always, poverty cursed people in the richest as well
as the poorest countries. The “Dot.com” boom had just collapsed and
there was even more cyclical poverty than usual. As always, chronic
poverty persisted in many areas too. Altogether, about a billion people
went to sleep hungry every night.

The trick would be, I thought, to solve one category of poverty in ways
that would solve the other category too. It was perfectly possible to do
it; the only problem was to gather the political, social and
humanitarian will in sufficient measure to get it done.

The essence of the idea was that those who were cyclically
poverty-stricken should be employed to produce directly or indirectly
for the chronically impoverished those goods and services that would
lift everyone out of poverty.

It all sounded simple but achieving such a harmonious global solution
was and has always been, in practice, far from easy.

Or was it? Is it still far from easy?

The political and social environment of that time was such that public
protests were being made at virtually every significant global or
regional conference on economic and financial policies.

However, the protesters were not admitted to the conferences. At best,
they were allowed only to protest on the streets, usually at a “safe”
distance from the heads of state and government – or the elite of the
business and financial world - who were meeting in the hallowed halls of

The people in the streets were ignored. What they had to say to the
great men who ruled them was carried away on the breezes, even though
what they said was often what millions or even billions of their fellows
approved and desperately needed the world to hear.

Now it is not 2002 or even 2008 when the Global Financial Crisis struck
hard and the entire global community was, in some way or other and in
some measure or other, affected and afflicted by it.

Poverty is much greater now and, in some ways, more widespread. This is
partly because of the impact of the GFC but also partly because of
long-term secular factors such as growth of population and resource
limitations of our planet.

Even the richest countries have been affected. The United States admits
to about 9.1% unemployment, with the real figure probably around 20%.
About a third of the population live at or near the poverty line and
forty million rely on food stamps to feed themselves and their families.

Even in countries such as China and India which have experienced
economic miracles in recent years, hundreds of millions have not yet
been embraced by any miracle and, for them, deep poverty persists. If we
look further ahead, the present trend towards chronic food shortage is
likely to persist, if only because of shortage of arable land and fresh
water. A new Green Revolution might emerge but it will need to be even
bigger and more powerful than that of the twentieth century if it is to
meet the needs of the rapidly growing world population in the next few

So the circumstances are there for more poverty and more bitter conflict
to determine who will survive. Neighbour might fight neighbour for fresh
water and arable land. Only some of the winners will live to enjoy what
they have fought for.

So the relevance of “Victory Over Want” has not declined; it is now a
greater imperative than ever for all of us.

That brings me to a highly relevant point that we have repeatedly seen
with overwhelming clarity in recent years: we cannot rely on our
“leaders” to eliminate poverty. We cannot rely on them – our national or
international “leaders” - to achieve even its reduction. They have led
us to the edge of a catastrophic precipice and, if we are foolish enough
to continue to rely on them, they will tip us over that terrifying edge.

We must call on the resources, intellectual as well as physical, of
others. Indeed, we will need to call on all our people it we are to find
our way out of the difficulties – and the terrors - that could lie

The restless protests that occurred some years ago did not draw the
protestors into the debate on how to resolve their problems. Some and
perhaps most of those problems were problems of poverty caused largely
by unemployment. However, even employment – even working at two or three
jobs – does not always deliver the individual or the family out of

In the current unrest of the “Arab spring,” it has become even more
apparent that poverty and unemployment, food shortage, unaffordable
housing and other items for living have all been at the heart of unrest.

The strong tendency has been for these recent revolts to draw protesters
more actively into the process for change; but the process still does
little more than throw the present “leaders” out, only to install others
who will – the restless poor hope – implement their demands; but hope
alone is not good enough.

We must be realistic.

What we need is genuine participation by men and women of talent and
goodwill everywhere. They should participate actively in the debate for
good governance and in the adoption of measures that will draw us back
from the abyss.

VOW should be seen above all as a crucial project in bringing that

The full text of “A Democratic Initiative for Victory Over Want (VOW)”
as published at the beginning of 2002, is as follows: .......

How does the project measure its achievements?*

The project can calculate its achievements most simply from the extent
to which it reduces poverty, that is, reduces the absolute or relative
numbers of impoverished people around the world.

On this basis, the project has so far failed because the will has been
lacking to put it into effect. Such efforts as have been made otherwise
to reduce global poverty have been rich in rhetoric but poor in
sincerity of implementation. Although miraculous progress has been made
in wealth and income for millions in such countries as China, India and
the Asian Tigers, the numbers of poverty-stricken even in those
countries remain in the hundreds of millions and globally the numbers
continue to rise.

In broad terms, this is because the emphasis in most major developed
countries has not been sufficiently directed to stable growth and high
levels of employment based on fixed-capital investment but has rather
been directed to strengthen the richer elements in the economy and
society through speculation and manipulation. A casino-type financial
capitalism has been free to breed instability in the real economy in
which most of us live. Democracy has been replaced by a tyranny of
financial interests, banks and financial institutions, in short, by a
tyranny and often corruption by, of and for the rich.

In the United States, the tyranny of finance has taken over to control
and corrupt the constitutional powers of “the people” as expressed
through the electoral process and the institutions of government and
public administration. In Europe and some other countries, the details
of the takeover vary but the acquisition or theft of democratic power by
financial interests has been fundamentally the same.

The project for Victory Over Want (VOW) would restore democratic power
to “the people” or, in other words, to the community’s grassroots. It
would help to outmaneuver present financial tyranny by bringing the
disaffected in from the streets and giving them the opportunity to
participate fully in the formation of alternative governments nationally
or internationally.

This could happen in the United States, Europe, Latin America and Africa
– anywhere where there has been unrest and demands have been made for a
return to genuine democracy. In that way, an “Arab Spring” could become
a “Global Spring.”

That would be a measure of the project’s achievement.    

----- Original Message -----
From: Australian National Institute for Public Policy
To: Australian National Institute for Public Policy
Sent: Thursday, June 16, 2011 2:59 AM
Subject: Free ANIPP course registration for our thousandth member!


A strategic collaboration between the Australian Government and the
Australian National University

Dear ANIPP members,

Firstly, thank you for registering with ANIPP to enhance your engagement
with policy makers & researchers working on the key public policy issues
facing Australia.

We are very close to reaching one thousand members registered with

To celebrate this milestone, we would like to reward you - our existing
members –

and any future members who you encourage to become a member of the ANIPP

We will reward BOTH the 1000th member AND the person who recommends
ANIPP to them*,

with a free registration** for any ANIPP course in the Spring Session
2011 Calendar.

(*The 1000th member will need to identify the recommending colleague **
Valued from $500 - $2800.)

We would also like to mark the occasion by sharing some of our
achievements and activities since the establishment of the Institute and
the HC Coombs Policy Forum just 12 months ago.

The ANIPP Executive Short Course calendar for the Spring Semester 2011
is up now and we are taking course registrations until Friday 1st July.
Hurry now!
(Our 2011 Autumn Semester was a great success – 460 participants from 20
departments attended 35 courses. Evaluations indicate that participants
were very satisfied with the courses and rated them highly.)
·         The HC Coombs Policy Forum has lots of projects underway and
materials up on the web .
We have already held 6 public lectures and 8 workshops with government
on topics of national importance, and have more planned for the coming
Upcoming public lecture topics include: Public Sector Innovation (2 in
June), Manufacturing and Innovation policy (Sept), and Transportation
Economics (Sept). See our events page.
We are working on 4 commissioned translational research projects
covering energy security, complex policy visualization, natural resource
management, and minority government and are undertaking a
forward-looking research series on key policy challenges facing
Australia, titled ‘Visioning Australia’s Future’, focusing on three
areas: workforce participation, the ‘patchwork economy’ and national
balance sheet, and regional Australia.

·         PolicyXpress is under development. This tool will give policy
makers privileged access to ANU research outputs and enable searches by
Socio-Economic Objectives (SEOs) and RFCD codes, as well as additional

·         ANIPP has recently commenced a partnership with Australian
Policy Online (APO), as a leading source of policy information.
Together, ANIPP and APO will enhance public policy material available to
the Australian and global community. Coming soon on

We warmly encourage you to let your colleagues and contacts know about
the activities of ANIPP and the HC Coombs Policy Forum, and invite them
to also become a member of the ANIPP community.


Happy 1000th member!

Regards from the ANIPP team.

Australian National Institute for Public Policy

Australian National University

Beryl Rawson Building #13

Canberra ACT 0200

T: +61 2 6125 2154

F: +61 2 6125 9767

E: ani-@anu.edu.au

W: publicpolicy.anu.edu.au

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