There is a story about in Left-of-centre politics which goes something like this. In the 1980s public policy was dominated by the set of ideas conventionally summed up in shorthand fashion as 'economic rationalism'—meaning, variously, a belief in the superior allocative skills of 'free' markets over governments, or an irrational prejudice in favour of the private as against the public sector or, again, a belief in the need for government spending to be continually curtailed. As a result the public sector, in relative terms, contracted, welfare became more closely targeted, and public infrastructure ran down.
Recommended CitationBurchell, David and Mahony, Greg, Whatever happened to The Debt?: The logic of austerity, Australian Left Review, 1(139), 1992, 20-23.