The Golden Boy

by Kieran Healy on November 25, 2005

George Best has “died in hospital”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/4380332.stm, aged 59. It’s no surprise, of course: he drank himself to death over a long period. The Guardian has a “nice obituary”:http://football.guardian.co.uk/obituary/0,16836,1650898,00.html and “some photos”:http://football.guardian.co.uk/gallery/0,8555,1647552,00.html. For those who don’t know, Best was born in Belfast and was one of the most gifted players ever to play football. He was also an archetypal wastrel genius, spending just four or five years at the peak of his form in the late 1960s and then careening downhill. “I spent most of my money on booze, birds and fast cars,” he said once, “and the rest I just squandered.” A much-told anecdote has a hotel porter finding him drinking champagne on a cash-strewn bed with some starlet or other and asking, “Mr Best, where did it all go wrong?” The sad thing is that the porter was right.

I’m too young to have seen him play, but old enough to have grown up seeing footage of his best moments and wanting to play football like him. The pathetic, drunken old wreck he became never quite overshadowed the brilliance he once had. Just look at the photo on the right. Or “this one”:http://www.manutdzone.com/legends/BESTJUMP.JPG where he’s out-jumped players a lot bigger than himself. Or “this one”:http://www.manutdzone.com/legends/best8.jpg, leaving a defender or two in the dust. Even in snapshots, he seems like he’s moving.

Anti-americanism redux

by John Quiggin on November 25, 2005

Following the recent discussion here of critics of US foreign policy being labelled as anti-American, I saw a snippet in the Australian Financial Review (subscription required) in which the Wall Street Journal (also subscription required) applied the same epithet to Australians critical of US labour market institutions and their outcomes, even extending this to former Oz PM Bob Hawke, about as prominent a supporter of the US alliance as you could find, though, like many others, a critic of the Iraq war. The relevant quote

Even Labor leaders who have previously been strong supporters of the alliance have not hesitated to stir anti-US prejudices this time. Former Prime Minister Bob Hawke warned that making it easier for workers to negotiate wages directly either their employers would be “a move down the path to” -horror of horrors – “an Americanisation of labour relations

Unfortunately, my efforts to find the full piece have been unsuccessful – I assume it’s behind the paywall somewhere. I’d appreciate it it anyone could supply the full text.

I’d be interested to know, for example, whether the WSJ has extended its net to catch that notorious anti-American, John Howard, who has warned against taking the “American path” in relation to gun ownership and tort litigation.

In the meantime, let me suggest that lots of American workers share the “anti-American prejudice” that they would rather have a union on their side than enjoy the benefits of direct “negotiation” with employers. For example, this Gallup Poll reports that 38 per cent of Americans would like to see unions have more influence, as against 30 per cent who would prefer less. And I’ll guess that the WSJ itself would be happy enough to endorse Howard’s anti-Americanism, at least as far as tort law is concerned.