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Monday Message Board

April 18th, 2005

It’s time for the regular Monday message board, where you are invited to post your thoughts on any topic. Civilised discussion and no coarse language, please.

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  1. April 18th, 2005 at 09:50 | #1

    More cowbell; this map has been bouncing around the Australian blogosphere. Obviously a government has no place removing an individuals life or liberty due to their sexual preference, nor their consensual actions related to that preference, so why dont we give refugee status to gays from countries where their lives and liberty are at stake?

  2. Gaby
    April 18th, 2005 at 10:12 | #2

    Hi John,

    I was very glad to see that you are a speaker at this year’s “Festival of Ideas” in Adelaide.

    In the past this has been a fun and stimulating free community event presenting a broad and diverse range of speakers. Many of the sessions are full.

    This year’s Festival will be no different given the list of speakers.

    The motive force behind it is Greg Mackie, a very public spirited guy who also runs “Imprints”, a terrific bookshop in Hindley St.

    Is a snippet of what you intend to talk about possible? I can think of multifarious motifs in your work that should be carefully attended to my both sides of our State pollies: “golden rule” of fiscal policy, Telstra privatization, AAA ratings, PPP’s, public debt funding of public infrastructure, equity premium puzzle etc.

  3. John Quiggin
    April 18th, 2005 at 10:38 | #3

    Hi Gaby,

    I’m going meta and talking about blogs and wikis, but I intend to look at how they contribute to debate on the kinds of economic issues you mentiond.

  4. April 18th, 2005 at 12:12 | #4

    Stand up Tahs fans, stand up, one and all. Our time may just be at hand.

  5. James Farrell
    April 18th, 2005 at 12:49 | #5

    John, I don’t know if Philip Adams is chairing the Festival of Ideas this year, but he usually broadcasts some of the most interesting talks on LNL. Do you happen to know if such an arrangement is being made this year, for the benefit of unfortunates who happen not to live in Adelaide?

  6. Warbo
    April 18th, 2005 at 13:01 | #6

    Now you’ve gone and done it, cs!

  7. Vee
    April 18th, 2005 at 15:04 | #7

    I have a confession to make:

    I am an elitist blogosphere traveller. I do not peruse blogs that do not have RSS feeds. I do not read blogs that don’t have their links come to me so I can pick and choose what to read from the said blogger.

    I desire to read Currency Lad every so often to broaden myself to what is known as the Right in the political paradigm.

    A paradigm I reject completely.

  8. Gaby
    April 18th, 2005 at 17:40 | #8

    John, I’ll look forward to those subjects as well. I’ve read what you have posted on these topics here and am in general agreement. Blogs and wikis for me are two of the most useful uses of the Web. In particular, an easy and cheap means of accessing current thinking on topics of interest that is filtered for quality, in comparison to a straight googling.

    Not to mention to participate, or just eavesdrop, on a good chat.

    I’m sure something can be arranged given this year’s theme is “what is to be done?

  9. Tristan McLeay
    April 18th, 2005 at 22:50 | #9

    Cameron, I’m not sure why it’s obvious that a Government has no place removing the liberty of people because of their sexual preference. I think it’s a detestable idea though.

    That said, no-one said the homosexuals in these countries had to act on their desires (it’s possible to die without having sex). I think it’s much more appropriate for these people to look at other options for emigrating from their home countries and persue these. Until then, they can either run the risk or remain celebate as they prefer.

    Should a crack-addict be allowed to claim refugee status in a country where such drugs are not illegal because their home country wants to lock them up?

    PS John Q.: is it possible to turn off the preview? It really slows down the pace you can type at, making tyops much more likely. (Also, it’d be nicer if the comment box was a bit larger.)

  10. benno
    April 19th, 2005 at 00:25 | #10

    Does the UN say that its a human right to do crack? Because its a human right to have gay sex.

  11. benno
    April 19th, 2005 at 00:26 | #11

    PS John, I really like your comment system and your whole webpage, very well designed and welcoming, kinda like preferential voting.

  12. April 19th, 2005 at 00:33 | #12

    Oh, Benno. Preferential voting welcoming?

  13. observa
    April 19th, 2005 at 02:22 | #13

    From The Advertiser’s front page today quoting Labor Health Minister Lea Stevens- “To put it quite bluntly the current health system is stuffed” and “a disaster waiting to happen”…. “It is not just in Australia. It is also the situation in countries comparable to us.”

    Also quoted on pge4- “At any one time, SA has 100 people occupying acute hospital beds-costing $750 a day-when they should be in aged care facilities”

    Also on pge4 a picture of Robert Mcmahon aged 65 who has been waiting 3 yrs for nose surgery to cure a serious breathing problem. “I wake up thinking that my heart has stopped” he said yesterday. “I get frightened because I think it’s one last breath.”

    Also on pge4- Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer director Prof Graeme Young said yesterday the 4 yr, $25million pledge tby the Federal Govt was “nowhere near enough” to set up a national screening program(for bowel cancer)that could save thousands of lives.

    Generally Lea Stevens is griping that the Feds are responsible for aged care facilities and GP services under medicare, as well as the number of doctors and nurses via the universities.(Think of the ‘Dr Deaths’ in Bundaberg Hospital here) As well she complains “Health care funding to the states has been cut in the agreement negotiated nearly 2 years ago, with SA losing about $75 million a year.” although ‘Opposition Treasury spokesman Rob Lucas said the ABS annual report showed a “massive 28% increase” in revenue in just 2 yrs under the Rann Govt.’ basically from $2,197 bill in 2000-2001 to $2.860 bill in 2003-2004…. “The GST deal for SA, which increases SA revenue by more than $200mill a year by 2009, means the govt has the capacity to reduce this huge impost on SA families.”(local and state govt taxes being up by $1768 per family per year)

    Add in the background of federal Labor rolling over on PBS copayments last year and now the Coalition backpeddling on Medicare safety nets and it all adds up to health care system under acute stress. This already, without the impending stress of aging population demands on the system.

    My conclusion: Australia is about to ask itself the really hard questions like: Can we continue to afford 100,000 abortions a year? Can we afford IVF for childless couples? What about the resultant twins that produced a 320gm baby on life support for a year? How many Terry Schiavos can we support? How long will we give the aged in acute beds before removing them to hospice care? How cosmetic will cosmetic surgery become? The ramifications of a health system buckling at the knees through growing demand and ever costlier procedures are upon us right now.

  14. observa
  15. still working it out
    April 19th, 2005 at 13:28 | #15

    I don’t know that the questions about who should be getting IVF and the other’s you have mentioned are the right ones. As this post by Kash at Angry Bear points out, it is possible for a socialised public health system to provide excellent quality care at a reasonable price.

    I think the more relevant questions are “How can we re-arrange management of health so that it makes sense?”. Everyone seems to think the current arrangement is crazy. And how are we going to reduce preventable diseases? Our obesity levels very high. If other countries are doing much better with similar proportions of GDP in health then making the system work better should be the highest priority.

  16. Paul Norton
    April 19th, 2005 at 14:12 | #16

    “Australia is about to ask itself the really hard questions like: Can we continue to afford 100,000 abortions a year?”

    Let’s leave aside, for one moment, the methodological difficulties in determining actually how many abortions are carried out each year. In purely fiscal terms, 100,000 abortions a year costs much less than providing for the education, health, shelter and upbringing of an extra 100,000 children a year for 18 years each, and does not lead to the losses of tax revenue and skilled labour shortages which would arise from 100,000 more working women withdrawing temporarily from the workforce each year.

  17. observa
    April 19th, 2005 at 17:09 | #17

    I guess whilst I’ve heard oppositions say things are stuffed, I can’t really recall a minister saying their whole area of responsibility is stuffed. That really is hitting the public panic button and I don’t think ministers would do it lightly. Similarly with the Howard govts backflip on the safety net. Sure, the govt might have been prepared to trot out some rubbery figures to a degree in the heat of an election, but they must have considered the long term ramifications of a backflip afterwards. They had a budget surplus to dip into to save face on this, yet they chose to bite the bullet. That suggests to me they were gobsmacked a bit by the cost blowout, if not immediately, then certainly for the longer term.

    Paul, I know where you are coming from, but your analysis is predicated somewhat on the status quo being maintained. I have a feeling that some cataclysmic changes are now under way in our society. Let me elucidate by joining a few dots for you. In my state already we don’t have enough applicants to fill our police force and we are importing them from England. Notice here the Feds push in the area of Disability and Supporting Parents. Basically we are heading for an all hands on deck labour policy. This is imperative with an aging popn now. With a baby drought we may quickly come to the view that paying for 100,000 abortions a year is a no-no. You don’t want the kid and we can’t medically afford IVF for those that do, then adopt it out mum. And you know what? They mostly will if having bub is no longer a Centrelink meal ticket. As well they’ll probably be a lot more circumspect about getting knocked up in the first place. You only have to go back one generation(30yrs nowadays) to see how things used to be and damn well could be again. An overtaxed and overworked generation are going to get a lot tougher on their peers who aren’t seen to be pulling their weight, than their luvvy baby-boomer parents’ generation were. As for retiring on a pension at 65, I have a feeling their parents have already seen the writing on the wall. Can you see the signs already appearing Paul and we haven’t even got to the demographic aged care health cost problem yet. Back to the future a distinct possibilty? You bet it is, for all Western countries.

  18. wpc
    April 19th, 2005 at 17:18 | #18

    I’m still a Qld Red(dy to leave)s fan, but they just aren’t good enough. Quite a few of the players are playing at a good club level, but that is nowhere near up to scratch.

    There is only the win over NSW to look forward to now.

  19. observa
    April 19th, 2005 at 18:50 | #19

    If you think the Observa is pissing into the wind a bit then read what the Productivity Commission concludes(linked above), particularly the last paragraph:

    “In the commission’s view, there is a pressing need to explore the institutional and incentive structures that will deliver what the community considers is acceptable and appropriate access to new technology.

    “Fundamentally, this means addressing the issue of what basic services a universal Medicare system should cover in future.”

    ‘Fundamentally’, the times they might be a changin’ folks!

  20. Paul Norton
    April 20th, 2005 at 07:11 | #20

    Observa, the big flaw in your scenario (#17) is that women won’t cop it, and that despite the fears of some and the hopes of others such as yourself, democratic governments can’t make them cop it.

  21. Paul Norton
    April 20th, 2005 at 07:18 | #21

    To be more specific Observa, assuming that your proposed ban on abortion will be agreed to by a democratically elected parliament (unlikely) and can be enforced under a legal system such as we have in Anglomorph societies (even less likely), how do you propose to induce women of reproductive age to have unprotected convaginatory sex under such a legal regime in sufficient numbers to make your demographic dreams come true?

  22. observa
    April 20th, 2005 at 08:57 | #22

    Paul, I’m not so sure abortion would be banned outright. Simply that it may not be subsidised in any way by a society that has to make some tough calls on what can be subsidised under Medicare. Similarly with expensive IVF and the resulting acute care that often accompanies multiple births associated with it. Full user pays would have an impact on behaviour and outcomes with all sorts of medical intervention. In any case you couldn’t stop people moving across international jurisdictions to achieve medical outcomes even if you desired to, but cost would dictate the numbers doing so.

    Hypothetically, how do you think a community would react to a conservative health minister proposing that: If we don’t subsidise IVF or abortion in Australia then we can currently guarantee no waiting lists for elective surgery. These sorts of tradeoffs might become increasingly acute for a health system that some are saying is ‘stuffed’ already. It is inevitable that politics will enter the fray to decide what, how and for whom and to think that subsidised abortion on demand and IVF, etc are set in stone, is in my opinion naive with a stressed Medicare system.

  23. April 20th, 2005 at 11:00 | #23

    Observa, your perspective – or the one you are presenting, anyway – is that of the collectivist who supposes that by providing “free” this, that or the other he has bought the right of control over the person concerned. But that is to say buying the person body and soul. It’s not on – “we” have no say in the matter, beyond force majeure.

  24. observa
    April 20th, 2005 at 12:59 | #24

    PML, While I don’t think the community generally does want to ‘own’ people for whom it collectively provides ‘free’ goods and services, it can certainly change its mind about what goods and services it does collectively pay for. Mind you, some things like Unemployment Benefit don’t come free of some mutual obligation it seems.

    All I’m saying to liberal progressives is that some of your sacred cows are about to be overrun by some rather harsh economic and demographic imperatives. When Gianna canvassed the question a few months ago as to what commenters thought of her availing herself of SPB, it did raise some of the usual taxpayer ire. My take was that anyone is entitled to take advantage of benefits they qualify for. However I did raise the spectre of an all hands on deck approach to social security in future and the days of mum on benefits till bub is 16 were numbered. Little did I know then how quickly such an approach would actually hit the political radar screen. I observe, you decide. Watch this space liberal progressives and pop on Bob Dylan.

  25. observa
    April 20th, 2005 at 22:45 | #25

    Err, I have something already for liberal progressives watching this space and listening to their Dylan here at http://www.theadvertiser.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5936,15024036%255E1702,00.html

    I’m thinking of changing my handle to Observadamus!

  26. April 21st, 2005 at 04:25 | #26

    Observa, I was writing on these particular problems and proposing possible solutions literally years ago. Look at my News Weekly article on Australian savings and its unpublished sequel, both on my publications page.

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