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Monday Message Board

March 28th, 2005

It’s time for the regular Monday message board, where you are invited to post your thoughts on any topic. Discussion starter: what did you do on the Easter holidays. Civilised discussion and no coarse language, please.

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  1. March 28th, 2005 at 23:37 | #1

    It’s not Monday here yet, as daylight saving has ended, but let me get in early. Next week is the big one. Yes, come Saturday, the Tahs take on the NZ Crusaders in Sydney. It’s armageddon for the Tahs. Top of the table, as usual in the early stages. They’ve never done better than this year. Can they prove they’re a contender? This week, the rubicon awaits. Bring in the psychatrists. Go the Tahs!

  2. March 28th, 2005 at 23:38 | #2

    errr sorry … tuesday … errr

  3. March 29th, 2005 at 01:22 | #3

    And Queensland played well this round.

  4. March 29th, 2005 at 03:00 | #4

    On the subject of Easter: Why does Western Australia, a state with no official religion, still ban the sale of alcohol on the day that Jesus was supposedly crucified?

    Is the Good Friday grog ban still in effect in the other states?

  5. March 29th, 2005 at 07:50 | #5

    Taking rights seriously? Well in addition to cadging bits of easter egg off the boys, who are now bigger than me, and visiting Australia’s most prolific female writer, sadly unable to use the keyboard nowadays, but mentally as sharp as ever, also dining on the Corso at Manly and checking out the rolling breakers on some of the northern beaches, and jousting with Jason Soon on the relevance of ideas from cranky dead viennese jews, I also thought about a post for the Monday messge board on the topic of taking rights seriously.
    Apparently there is some talk that the state of the nation may at any moment decline into something like Hitler’s Germany. This is a worry and we probably need to do a serious check on the way that rights and liberties can be eroded over time as governments at all levels become more aggressive and intrusive, sometimes with the best of intentions but sometimes not. Perhaps we need something like a regular stocktake on the state of rights.
    Two that I would like to see checked out are property rights and the right of people to make arrangements with an employer without interference from third parties unless invited to the party.
    Property rights have been eroded in small ways by tree preservation orders which probably looked like a good idea at the time but result in really some really mad situations. On a larger scale there are the laws driven by environmentalists which have effectively robbed many farmers. People who have been tracking these things could make a strong case for serious rethinking of these rules and regulations. There is also the denial of individual property right under native land title which is gradully coming to be regarded as a major impediment to progress there.
    On the topic of the relations between workers and employers, we can only hope that the debate this year on industrial relations does not degenerate into an ideological slanging match. The critics of economic rationalism have a very bad track record in this. http://badanalysis.com/catallaxy/index.php?p=747
    I hope they do better this time around.
    The same applies to the Tahs.

  6. Paul Norton
    March 29th, 2005 at 09:27 | #6

    Yobbo, in Brisbane I could have purchased alcohol in a variety of places on Good Friday. In a supreme show of strength of will I chose not to.

    Rafe, individual property rights are an historical and social construct. I stand to be corrected, but I think the notion of absolute rights of the individual to private property came in with the concept of quiritary property rights in the Roman Republic/Empire.

    It is open to a democratic society to make a value judgement about where the balance should be struck between the principle of private property rights and the principle of ecological sustainability, especially if one accepts that ecological sustainability is a necessary condition for the continued existence of a human society which can uphold things like property rights.

    Finally, to use economic language, uncontrolled vegetation clearing on private land creates large negative externalities in terms of (amongst other things) biodiversity loss, impacts on water quality and greenhouse emissions (i.e. loss of carbon sinks and thus the need to restrict emissions from other sources more severely than if the sinks were conserved). When one’s use of one’s private property has significant and demonstrable negative externalities, the wider society is entitled to take an interest in the matter.

  7. March 29th, 2005 at 10:34 | #7

    Are you sure, Paul? Pubs and clubs were closed until midnight on Good Friday and bottlos were closed all day. I’m not certain at all where you could have found alcohol legally for sale in Brisbane on Friday.

  8. Paul Norton
    March 29th, 2005 at 10:51 | #8

    Mark, the Irish Pub under the Indooroopilly Megaplex was open and serving beer, as was another bar & cafe in Indooroopilly. Also, Ben’s Vietnamese Restaurant at Woolloongabba (just up Annerley Road from the Clarence Corner Hotel) was serving beer and wine with meals.

  9. Andrew Reynolds
    March 29th, 2005 at 11:27 | #9

    Sorry to get the discussion away from the purchase and consumption of alcohol – I live in WA and we could not get any on Good Friday – but, Paul, have you even considered why the Roman system was so successful for so long and then fell? I would contend that the protection of property rights against arbitrary government action in the Republic was one of the reasons. The result was a strong commercial class and a strong agricultural sector. The protection offered by the Roman government was certainly better than that of any of their neighbours and trade and agriculture therefore flourished.
    The increasing abrogation of those rights under the later Emperors caused the collapse of the economic foundations of the Empire. They were therefore unable to withstand the invasions of the Germanic hordes as they had previously.
    I am not suggesting that the Vandals (or even the Indonesians) are about the attack Australia, but to me the collapse of the Roman Empire is an object lesson in why protection of property rights is very important. If the government wants (for perfectly valid reasons) to remove or reduce the rights of property owners they should either purchase and then sell the land with the proper caveats added so that it can be priced in at time of purchase or pay proper compensation for the removal of those rights.
    The idea that a property owner can have some rights removed without due compensation is to me not only economically silly, but also morally wrong.

  10. Paul Norton
    March 29th, 2005 at 11:54 | #10

    Andrew, as I understand it the basis of the Roman economy was slave labour, and it was only viable for as long as the Republic and the Empire could continue to expand militarily and access new populations to enslave. This was because the slave-owning classes did not manage their slaves in a sustainable manner (i.e. slave death rates exceeded slave birth rates). Once the Roman Empire reached the practical limits of its territorial expansion, the unsustainability of the slave mode of production was bound to catch up with it sooner or later.

    The foregoing comment is informed by my reading of Perry Anderson’s Passages From Antiquity to Feudalism.

  11. March 29th, 2005 at 12:38 | #11

    I quite enjoyed the no-trade day on Sunday. I would’ve worked if given the option (I only got 100 per cent instead of my normal 150 per cent), but the Bracks forbade it so I had to do other things. So I drove up with my older sister to my grandmother’s farm in the country. She wasn’t there, but my parents and other siblings, as well as one of my aunts, were. In the last seven or more years I’ve only been there once, so it’s been some time.

    Anyway, while the my parents and aunt worked on the garden in the front/garden/house paddock, my sibs and me went for a walk through the paddocks. Being older than we used to be, we also went further than we used to. We jumped over many fences or opening (and closing!) gates walking through paddocks and a little bush around a couple of small creeks. I suppose we must’ve been trespassing and some point, but I work at Ikea and my younger brother’s interested in Norway, so it came up at some point that regardless of Australian law it would be legal in Scandinavia, and that was justification enough for us.

    And we had a good time, and that’s enough for me.

  12. Homer Paxton
    March 29th, 2005 at 12:51 | #12

    Easter celebrates the rising of a dead man.
    Thomas the apostle recognised the signficance of the event when he called Jesus My Lord and My God.
    Only God come as a man could rise from the dead as only he could live a life free from sin and thus overcome death.
    It is the ressurrection of Jesus which is all important because if it didn’t happen then the death on the cross is useless.

    The apostles were transformed by the event by going from scared rabbitts hiding from authorities to being quite open to being killed because they were followers of Jesus.

    No Ressurection then No christianity.

  13. March 29th, 2005 at 13:39 | #13

    That’s interesting, Paul. I think a lot of people must not be aware that things have changed. A friend of mine went to a picnic in NF Park and they were rationing the grog out in the belief that there was nowhere to obtain fresh supplies.

  14. darryl rosin
    March 29th, 2005 at 13:49 | #14

    Liquor Sales in Qld on Good Friday and Christmas day are limited to liquor consumed on premises in conjunction with a meal produced and served with the intention of being consumed on premises in an section normally used for dining. Producers may also sell liquor produced on premises to visitors as a souvenir of their visit.

  15. Paul Norton
    March 29th, 2005 at 14:14 | #15

    Mark, I didn’t see any takeaways on sale so the New Farm picnickers were probably right to ration the grog, and you would still need to stock up on bottles and cans on Thursday night if you wanted to go hard outside a venue on Good Friday.

    If Darryl’s right, the licensing laws appeared to have been interpreted liberally by at least one establishment.

  16. March 29th, 2005 at 14:38 | #16

    Sounds like Darryl’s quoting, Paul.

    There’s also a fair bit of liberal interpretation about the guidelines for smoking in cafes and restaurants, I’ve noticed.

  17. Andrew Reynolds
    March 29th, 2005 at 15:00 | #17

    Paul,
    I would disagree with the contention re slavery in the Roman Empire, but not having read the reference I cannot directly debate it, except to say that even slavery, abhorrent though it is, requires strong property rights to work. Would a slave owner bother buying or investing in slaves if he (or she) knew that the government could just walk in and arbitrarily limit the utility of the slaves?

  18. Andrew Reynolds
    March 29th, 2005 at 15:13 | #18

    On another topic, there is an interesting article in the Economist this week about the myths about mobile phones – see it here. For subscribers, the opinion piece is even blunter.
    I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions on how these myths can be debunked, or do we just have to let time do it – as it did with cameras and the idea that they steal your soul?

  19. darryl rosin
    March 29th, 2005 at 15:23 | #19

    I had a much neater comment with reference but the intynet ate it and the long smoko of procrastination had come to an abrupt end. I’m not a lawyer, but I was curious and had a look at the Liquor Act (1992)
    http://www.legislation.qld.gov.au/LEGISLTN/CURRENT/L/LiquorA92.pdf
    Section 9 covers trading hours.

  20. March 29th, 2005 at 15:41 | #20

    Andrew the show to watch for modern myth debunking is Mythbusters on SBS. Not only do they prove these myths wrong they have a lot of fun blowing things up!

  21. Aidan
    March 29th, 2005 at 17:44 | #21

    I like reading about urban myths but I’m not sold on the Economist’s position. In our office, we are told to hold the handrail when using the stairs, not because of Piper Alpha, but because last year someone in one of our other offices fell down the stairs and is still on Worker’s Comp. It’s probably an insurance thing – if they don’t tell us to use the handrail, and we fall, we can sue ‘em.
    As to mobile phones in petrol stations, I was informed that it is the vibrating motor which causes the problem, not being intrinsically safe and therefore being capable of causing a spark. Mobiles are banned on some worksites where flammable gases may be present.

  22. wpc
    March 29th, 2005 at 19:57 | #22

    cs: If the Waratahs win this week against the Crusaders I’ll believe they are a changed team. Tuquiri is one of the few players who can drop a ball over the line and still come up looking good.

    Maybe the Waratahs have passed their disease to the Brumbies (after losing to the Sharks).

    With regard to Queensland, I hope you don’t mean the bye weekend!

  23. Paul Norton
    March 30th, 2005 at 10:27 | #23

    “. . .even slavery, abhorrent though it is, requires strong property rights to work. Would a slave owner bother buying or investing in slaves if he (or she) knew that the government could just walk in and arbitrarily limit the utility of the slaves?”

    Exactly. The elaborate system of Roman commercial law, which included the concept of absolute property rights (dominium ex jure quiritium), was developed precisely in order to secure the Roman commercial system based on agricultural latifundia and the slave labour gangs which were the core of the latifundia and villa workforces.

    Of course this unfortunate historical association is no argument against the principle of private property, any more than its unfortunate historical association with Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot is an argument against the principle of public ownership.

  24. Andrew Reynolds
    March 30th, 2005 at 12:39 | #24

    Paul,
    I would respectfully disagree – the associations with Pol Pot, Mao, Hitler and Stalin are a good (although extreme) example of why private ownership and property rights are good things. I would contend that none of these would have been able to do what they did if property (and other) rights were respected.
    Responsibility of course comes with those rights, but without respect for the rights there can be no respect for the responsibilities.

  25. Andrew Reynolds
    March 30th, 2005 at 12:45 | #25

    On another topic (but related) has anyone else seen the article on the 38 from Guantanamo who the US has now decided were not ‘enemy combatants’ after all? see it here. Years in jail without contact and all they get is a “sorry, we were wrong”.

  26. March 30th, 2005 at 16:39 | #26

    Yep, that’s my facetious Qld comment wpc!

    But, I’m with you … this week will tell.

  27. Ian Gould
    March 31st, 2005 at 16:52 | #27

    The Australian states and territories have apparently committed themselves to a carbon-trading scheme.http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200503/s1335179.htm

    The Constitution has always been interpreted to give the states the principal role in environmental management and I’ve been arguing for years that they could probabyl do this if they were as keen on Kyoto-style limits as they liked to claim.

    Let’s see if they actually can hammer out an agreement given the conflicting interests at stake.

    The Victorian brown coal industry is likely to take a beating as is the Queensland soil-mining (oops sorry “farming”) sector.

  28. E.D.
    April 1st, 2005 at 08:18 | #28

    Scientific American magazine will be announcing a major policy shift in its next edition. It will cut back on its political commmentary and instead will only report on scientific matters, this will have implications for controversial issues such as global warming and the teaching of evolution in schools.

    Read here:
    http://nonpartisan.dailykos.com/story/2005/3/18/10135/0441

  29. Paul Norton
    April 1st, 2005 at 09:21 | #29

    This is to announce that I have signed a deal with Sony Music to record a cover version of Throw Your Arms Around Me, playing guitar and singing in a duet with Delta Goodrem on keyboards.

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