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Monday message board

August 22nd, 2005

As usual on Monday, you are invited to post your thoughts on any topic. Civilised discussion and no coarse language. Also, please, nothing about football this week.

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  1. Steve
    August 22nd, 2005 at 09:26 | #1

    Has anyone else been enjoying Ross Gittins’ commentary of late? He’s got the property council fuming! Very entertaining!

  2. Katz
    August 22nd, 2005 at 11:22 | #2

    “Vietnam shares no similarities with the war on terror or the struggle against extremism or whatever you want to call it. None at all. It’s time all those old baby boomers for whom the Vietnam War and those halcyon days of protest and love, was the most intense time of their lives, got on with planning their retirements.â€?

    Thus, the Age’s Michael Gawenda “Iraq is not Vietnam, not by any stretch� reckons that the baby boomers were to blame for the loss in Vietnam. But, now thank God, they’re too close to death to cruel Bush’s pitch in Iraq.
    According to Gawenda, Americans are made of sterner stuff these days than during the 1960s when that drug-addled generation “undermined American institutions and shared values�.

    What a silly fellow you are Gawenda.

    Gawenda’ evidence?

    Cindy Sheehan is seen to be a ditz.
    Michael Moore is discredited.
    There is no latter-day Tom Hayden.
    No one’s collecting money for Zarqawi like they collected it for Ho.
    Mick Jagger has written a bad protest song (presumably unlike all the great ones of the 1960s).

    Judging by Gawenda’s efforts, the psychotropic drugs these days are better than in the 1960s.

    Does Gawenda think that without a large and aggressive counterculture antiwar protest is impossible?

    Does Gawenda think that aspirants for Congress in the forthcoming primaries aren’t taking careful note of popular opinion in relation to their campaigns?

    Has Gawenda not taken note of the role of the internet in mobilising support for protest causes?

    Most importantly, does Gawenda really think that the American people will accept the use of at least 100,000 of their troops as ducks in a shooting gallery for the next four years (these figures come from Centcom)?

    How many times must apologists for the Iraq fiasco insist that Iraq isn’t Vietnam by pointing out all the small dissimilarities while ignoring the big one: the impossibility of the US imposing a viable regime congenial to American preferences (albeit growing more modest by the day)?

    Why do these same apologists insist that Americans will accept the futile sacrifice of their troops with any more tolerance than they did in the late 1960s?

    In fact, it could be argued that, in the absence of an aggressive counter-culture, it is easier for middle-of-the-road Americans today to turn their faces against this war without having to identify themselves with the “freaks� who made the 1960s such an entertaining time to be alive.

  3. August 22nd, 2005 at 11:23 | #3

    A question: why do we need to read the overseas press to get an understanding of the true situation in Iraq? It is as if our media has given up, preferring to rely on wire services and the “ever-reliable” NYTimes, Post etc…
    And yet, just today the Melbourne Age, that bastion of left-wing power, says that we must “stay the course” in the war on terror. What does that mean? God knows.
    Thankfully, the truth is still available somewhere…

    http://antonyloewenstein.blogspot.com/2005/08/victory-will-never-be-at-hand.html

  4. Paul Norton
    August 22nd, 2005 at 11:26 | #4

    Further to my post in Weekend Reflections on the Federal Government’s agenda of punishing and straightening the unemployed under the rubrics of Mutual Obligation and Intensive Assistance, there is an article in today’s Sydney Morning Herald on how aspiring artists are treated under this regime. It’s at:

    http://www.smh.com.au/news/arts/making-a-living-turned-into-a-fine-art/2005/08/21/1124562744723.html?oneclick=true

    One poor fellow was told by Centrelink to knock back an offer of a $100,000 scholarship which would benefit his career, and take a job as a cleaner on pain of losing his dole!

  5. Homer Paxton
    August 22nd, 2005 at 11:33 | #5

    Mutual obligation applies to people who are after a job but not farmers after a handout.

    HECS applies to most Uni courses but not to the Institute of sport.

    go figure?

  6. Ian Gould
    August 22nd, 2005 at 12:21 | #6

    “Iraq is not Vietnam, not by any stretch�
    >
    >
    >
    >
    Of course not – George Bush went to Iraq.

  7. David
    August 22nd, 2005 at 12:41 | #7

    1. Howard to receive Woodrow Wilson Award. Is this an award for good work done for U.S. or for us? The answer’s obvious.

    2. Iraq. Tyranny, replaced by anachy, now to be replaced by a fundamentalist Isalmic state? Give me tyranny any day!

    3. Brisbane. Gone.

  8. David
    August 22nd, 2005 at 12:58 | #8

    The aus gov on more uranium mines: You’ve already got three mines, why are you complaining about four or more mines? This reminds me of Homer Simpson: “First you didn’t want to get the pony, now you want to take it back! Make up you mind.”

  9. Andrew Reynolds
    August 22nd, 2005 at 13:03 | #9

    David,

    That is more lateral than I can cope with.

  10. August 22nd, 2005 at 18:34 | #10

    De Spiegel have run an article, exploring the macro-geopolitcal tactics of Al Qaeda. See the link below. Quite worrying, but it seems to be playing out.

    http://service.spiegel.de/cache/international/0,1518,369448,00.html

  11. Homer Paxton
    August 22nd, 2005 at 20:11 | #11

    highly interesting Elizabeth.
    The problem for AQ is that to be successful in the long run they have to change as an organisation.
    They are a highly successful organisation at present.
    I tend to doubt they can go to the next level.
    Their success is due to their highly decentralised nature.
    The Organisation would have to change significantly. It would also make it easier to monitor from A Western perspective.

  12. August 22nd, 2005 at 21:30 | #12

    Homer, I’m not really sure that Al Qaeda is a structured organisation anymore. It has clearly (by default or design) morphed into a movement, that to some is quite persuasive (philosophicaly, religious, sentimental). So persuasive, that we may all (one day; and lets hope not) might have to put up with this sort of nonesense.

    http://www.aol40.com/women_rule.htm

  13. August 22nd, 2005 at 22:12 | #13

    I like that. A sentimental terrorist movement. Maybe if we give them a box of tissues and let ‘em all have a big cry they will take their bombs away.

  14. Jill Rush
    August 22nd, 2005 at 22:55 | #14

    The desire for political control seems to be playing itself out in the education sector. Poor Tony Abbott, a reknowned pugilist, is frightened of the students who wish to debate him about voluntary student unionism.

    Brendan Nelson wants to have everyone in the country reading from the same curriculum sheet as if there are no regional or cultural differences.

    Tafe can’t have funding despite the desperate need for tradespeople as the state governments won’t force their workforce onto individual contracts – a system which will introduce a great deal more stress and uncertainty into life without improving outcomes for the students.

    Schools must have report cards which are in plain English and let the winners know they are life’s chosen and the losers that they have no hope. How harsh for primary students.

    Teachers are nothing more than trotskyites left over from the seventies according to Peter Costello – An unsubstantiated smear to reduce confidence in the worth of hard working educators.

    Education is treated as a market place where competition rules – so we have medical schools full of overseas students or people from elsewhere in the country and therefore aren’t producing doctors where they are needed – and even if they are, the doctors have such huge HECS debts that they are looking for the maximum out of their patients.

    The manipulation of data and the ignorance of the many statements made by the Liberal coalition in relation to education is such that it must be deliberate. Education is a liberal commodity which needs to be controlled in the market place. Markets are too coarse a mechanism to entrust our children to.

    The Liberal coalition’s attacks will destroy a system which is serving my children well – the public system. There is the constant refrain about buying an education being a better option – and of course in the private system Brendan Nelson has less influence as he is happy to provide that sector with money without strings.

    The strength of the educaiton system is that it is dynamic – if education could have the funds that are being diverted into advertising shonky proposals such as the invidious and revolutionary IR proposals, war and the Defence forces the future of the country would be far better served as the population would receive the education it needs to prosper in the future.

  15. August 22nd, 2005 at 23:13 | #15

    On Saturday evening I was watching the news on ABC TV. Then I saw the exchange of views between Peter Beattie and Greens candidate for Chatsworth, Elissa Jenkins. How far have we advanced in our understanding that a dirty trick is a dirty trick? Cheating at elections is OK if the law lets you get away with it. Ah, that moral relativism, such a slippery business.

    I decided to drop Peter Beattie a line:

    Dear Peter Beattie

    I am writing this letter to you as a private citizen concerned that our democratic system is being eroded by the actions of political leaders on the one hand and by the disenchantment and disengagement we find in the community, which arises as a direct result of what politicians do.

    Tonight I watched you on ABC TV in discussion with the Greens candidate for Chatsworth, Elissa Jenkins. She was questioning your use of bogus How to Vote cards. You might be right in saying that they are perfectly legal (in ‘black letter law, that is), but, in my opinion, they are bogus nevertheless. These How to Votes are designed to mislead voters because they mimic the colour scheme of another party and attempt to trick voters into thinking they are from The Greens, unless they read carefully, yet these bogus ‘How to Vote’ cards tell voters how Labor wants them to vote, not how The Greens want them to consider voting.

    The Greens have previously challenged the use of this deliberately deceptive material and found the law wanting. The law is flimsy on this precisely because politicians like you, Peter Beattie, don’t want to outlaw what is obviously a fraudulent abuse of the electoral system. If you believed that the law should be just and moral you should have the courage to change the law regardless of whether or not there were a few votes advantage to you in doing this.

    We can all remember the gerrymander. But we also remember the shenanigans that your side of politics indulged in too. If you prefer the sneaky and dishonest practices of the past because you mistakenly think it may help you win, then we are already witnessing the slide into arrogance and deceit that we saw under Joh Bjelke Petersen.

    Similarly, Elissa Jenkins told the media that we need proportional representation, because it will be more democratic and more representative than the present system. What we saw instead was a First Past the Post election today, which was led by your actions. First Past the Post, as practised in Britain, is widely regarded as one of the least democratic electoral systems in Europe. It is even less democratic than the Optional Preferential model we have in Queensland.

    We have just hosted a UN-sponsored conference in Brisbane called ‘Engaging Communities’ in which your government led the way in projecting the rhetoric of participatory democracy and public consultation. Was this was just a way for politicians who know they are held in very low regard in the community to seek some legitimacy and perhaps even a mandate that they currently don’t have?

    Public input helps governments avoid costly mistakes and ensures public support for government programmes. But it requires open government, which we still don’t have. This is how Queensland Health got into such a mess. It is also what got the Goss government voted out over the disastrous and secretive Koala Tollway.

    I hope that you understand that we need more than fine words uttered in front of overseas guest speakers. Stop doing things that undermine democratic principles, fix up the law and stop using fraudulant practices at elections. Only then will political leaders like yourself deserve the respect you want.

    By the way, I know where there is a box with several thousand bogus Green How to Vote cards which Labor volunteers thought were immoral and indefensible and refused to hand them out for you last year.

    Regards

    Willy Bach

  16. econwit
    August 23rd, 2005 at 06:55 | #16

    Steve,

    I like some of the work Ross Gittens puts out, but in those two articles he has definitely gone off the deep end flashing his membership card to the ‘revenue lobby’ (comprising the ATO, the Treasury and their allies in politics, academia, the media and the welfare industry).
    In a society that looses 33% of GDP to his ‘revenue lobby mates he can only argue maintaining the vendor tax is a good thing. He and his revenue junkie mate Macfarlane also neglect to mention that the real culprit to the recent house and land price inflation was the introduction of the GST.

    The revenue junkie also forgot to mention that compounding the GST induced house and land price inflation in NSW, was Bobby Carr increasing the real rate of property stamp duties more than 30% This was done by utilising the revenue junkies hidden secret weapon ‘bracket creep’.

    Even your average plumber knows taxation distorts markets. Introducing new taxes and increasing existing taxes distorts markets even more. The hidden taxes in NSW of $100,000 on a new block of land coupled with the GST and higher stamp duties is definitely distorting the market. A comparison between the fundamentals of the residential property market and the stock market (which increased turn over with less restrictive taxes) highlights these distortions.

    Revenue Junkie Macfarlanes spewed these words of wisdom “I think it’s so expensive that it’s in the interests of people, particularly a lot of young people, to go elsewhere to where their lifestyle is more affordable”. That statement is particularly accurate considering the tax revenue per head in NSW is about 30% higher than the other states.

  17. Steve
    August 23rd, 2005 at 09:30 | #17

    John, thought you might be interested in this NewScientist article about the arrest of a man for ‘virtual mugging’.

    The person in this story was using characters in the game Lineage II to rob other characters, and then selling their virtual stuff on a Japanese auction website for real money. He was arrested! In real life!

    The situation is made even more interesting by the fact that the offender was using software ‘bots’ to mug the other characters. These bots can perform functions much quicker than a person, and are unbeatable in a fight. Creepy! Replicants among us!

    It’s related to your your earlier post
    http://johnquiggin.com/index.php/archives/2005/01/29/an-emerald-the-size-of-a-plovers-egg/

    about massive multiplayer online role-playing games.

  18. August 23rd, 2005 at 09:50 | #18

    Er… “the gig one [i.e. dissimilarity]“? It seems that should read “the big similarity”.

  19. Homer Paxton
    August 23rd, 2005 at 09:52 | #19

    Elizabeth,
    I was trying to say unsuccessfully that for AQ to achieve those objectives they have to change from the Organisation at present to a different one.

    I do not think they can do that.
    They will fail if they try.
    Thus I hope they do.

  20. August 23rd, 2005 at 23:31 | #20

    Tony Abbot: Was brave enough to get Pauline Hanson put in gaol for the crime of taking votes from liberal & labor, but too chicken to face a few uni students… *what a pansy*

  21. derrida derider
    August 24th, 2005 at 13:27 | #21

    Sigh … econwit, you ought to know that debates about how much money to raise in taxes are quite distinct from the best way to raise that money. What tax do you want raised to replace it? If you answer that you want tax and spending cuts instead, what other tax cut do you want to forgo to get rid of it?

    I’d guess your animus to this particular tax is because you have to pay it (though actually you might not be actually paying it – do you know the difference between the _formal_ incidence of a tax and the _economic_ incidence?). Most of us tend to think that the only good tax is a tax someone else pays. Maybe it’s diminishing the value of a property you own – a bad thing for you, but a bloody good thing for MacFarlane’s young couple wanting an affordable home in Sydney.

  22. Jill Rush
    August 24th, 2005 at 23:03 | #22

    The debate on education continues with a new group under attack by Liberal politicians.- The Liberals are now demanding, using unsubstantiated allegations, that Muslim schools teach Australian values. It is long overdue that Private schools are required to go through the same hoops as public schools to get their public money but why single out one religious group? There are extremist Christian fundamentalists with private schools and others with well known sexually deviant practices in boarding schools. Not the kind of values supported by the majority.

    It would be far easier to state what Australian values are if they were stated clearly in a Bill of Rights. This is where the debate should be heading – not finding yet another group of schools and teachers to attack as not being politically correct.

  23. econwit
    August 24th, 2005 at 23:14 | #23

    derrida derider

    “debates about how much money to raise in taxes” should take this into account: Australians are sick of being overburdened with excessive taxation that finances a behemoth dysfunctional public sector.

    “what other tax cut do you want to forgo to get rid of it?” We need not forgo any tax cuts, just forgo the 25% of the public sector that are sitting on their backsides doing nothing at our expense.

    I’d guess your animus to this particular tax is because you have to pay it. No my animus is so called intellectuals like MacFarlane that can’t add up. If a widget costs $10 and 2.5% tax is put on it costs $10.25 not $9.75. This is a mathematical fact not some air fairy economic theory. Putting a tax on something makes it more expensive. So how can a tax they have to pay be “a bloody good thing for MacFarlane’s young couple wanting an affordable home in Sydney?”

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