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Weekend reflections

October 21st, 2005

Weekend Reflections is on again. Please comment on any topic of interest (civilised discussion and no coarse language, please). Feel free to put in contributions more lengthy than for the Monday Message Board or standard comments.

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  1. lurch
    October 21st, 2005 at 09:45 | #1

    Imagine having private health insurance AND having to use it! Bravo to Beattie for finally landing one on chairman howard.

  2. wilful
    October 21st, 2005 at 11:21 | #2

    Howard seems to be badly losing the PR battle in relation to IR reforms. But does that merely reflect the comfortable meadia world I try to cocoon myself in? I’ve hardly heard anyone say anything nice about it at all, and the Howard lines come across as terribly weak. I haven’t read a credible economist state categorically that these will do anything good. In the AFR I think I saw something positive about the reforms, by depressing the minimum wage. I suspect that not a lot of minimum wagers read the fin, and the serfs on the factory floor are really just a means to an end.

    Of course, in 2 years, will this still resonate?

  3. Paul Norton
    October 21st, 2005 at 13:50 | #3

    At my Department’s lunchtime seminar today, I learned of Weller’s Law: anything is possible to the person who doesn’t have to do it.

  4. stoptherubbish
    October 21st, 2005 at 14:51 | #4

    wilful,
    It is resonating, and it will do so in ways that are below the radar of the AFR and News Ltd. The issue isn’t even so much the reduction of the minimum wage ( which will happen very slowly, but which will mainly effect new entrants and single parents rather than existing employees). The issues which will resonate are the little things multiplied thousands of times. Like a colleague whose wife told him yesterday that her boss (small business-she does the books), has already announced he will be offering the ‘new AWAs’ next month, and who told the sales staff employed in the business ‘employees are like pebbles on the beach-one goes, another washes up’.. His kid is employed also in a small business (suburban car mechanic), and his boss has also announced AWAs next month. These stories are true-and they will be multiplied thousands of times. They won’t make the headlines, and they will go all but unnoticed for the next two years. The anxiety amongst ‘middle income’ battlers is almost palapable. Don’t believe the crap put out by the government spin doctors that no-one cares and nothing will change.

    It is one thing to be told you have to take a cut because times are hard. It is something else entirely when people see that the only ones taking a cut are them and theirs, just because the boss can do it now, not because anything otherwise requires it.

    Sacrifice not shared, and heaped all on to one group is always resented, no matter what the spin doctors say. Social resentment is a powerful force, and the blather about good bosses, our greatest assets etc; just won’t cut it once the opportunity presents itself for a little lift to the bottom line, from a little shaving of all those tiresome allowances and penalties. Precisely because there is no effective remedy against these myriad sleights of hand which will be all but irresistable, there will be a slow burn.

    And this time, who will be around to blame? terrorists? towelheads? multiculturalists? Elites? Oops!

  5. Razor
    October 21st, 2005 at 15:44 | #5

    stoptherubbish – repalce IR reform with GST and we have heard it all before – the end of the world as we know it!! See you at the ballot box in a couple of years. I know who my money is on and it ain’t the fat boy.

  6. Dave Ricardo
    October 21st, 2005 at 16:10 | #6

    The fat boy might not be contesting. it might be the orange roughy.

  7. Razor
    October 21st, 2005 at 17:44 | #7

    If the orange ruffy would dress with a few more ruffles she might catch the eye of a few more fisher persons! I’m sure Women’s Weekly or another rag would fund the makeover. Tash Spotthespadger had the right idea (althoughshe will deny sexing up any intelligence reports).

  8. observa
    October 21st, 2005 at 19:21 | #8

    “Imagine having private health insurance AND having to use it! Bravo to Beattie for finally landing one on chairman howard.”
    Not so sure about that lurch. Costello responded to Beattie’s move here that he thought Beattie was about to tear up the universal health scheme. Is he right? After all if the privates have to go private all the time, the sector will no doubt grow and probably take the best and brightest with it. What might that do to the public health system in the long run?

  9. October 21st, 2005 at 19:56 | #9

    What’s up with John Howard saying that us kiwis (or Americans or Indonesians or Iraqis or French or whatever) can commit treason and sedition against Australia? Surely you have to at least be Australian to do that?

  10. October 21st, 2005 at 20:05 | #10

    No. You do not have to hold a particular nationality to be handled under law relating to treason etc. All you have to be is someone who at some point in the past used the protection of that country. That was how they got William Joyce (“Lord Haw Haw”), who although Irish rather than British had at one point used a forged British passport.

    When I found out about that I supposed that it was some legal stitch up put together from the occasion on the back of tenuous precedents. However it turns out that something along those general lines is spelled out in the Australian Constitution – it was codified there, and based on solid precedent, long before 1945.

  11. observa
    October 21st, 2005 at 20:49 | #11

    Apparently Costello is not the only one to question Beattie’s wisdom on this lurch
    http://www.news.com.au/story/0,10117,16991704-1702,00.html

  12. October 22nd, 2005 at 06:46 | #12

    Unfortunately the draft legislation goes quite a bit further than simply applying to resident non-citizens and users of Australian passports – it asserts extended geographical jurisdiction over sedition and treason of the same sort used for war crimes. Under the law as it stands, someone who has never been to Australia and has no connection with the country whatsoever can be charged for “betraying” a government they have no obligation of loyalty towards at all. That’s more a little odd, neh?

  13. lurch
    October 22nd, 2005 at 07:44 | #13

    observa – I agree that it is a discriminatory approach. My post was more directed to the political manoeuvring of Beattie. I think he still wants the feds to take the whole mess off his hands and is looking for a bit of leverage. In going down the ‘user pays means-tested approach’ he has shifted the issue straight back to the Federal Governmnet. Firstly if they do nothing and Qld introduces user-pays then premiums will go up and the Federal ministry will cop the flak as it is their decision (publicly at least) to let the rises go ahead. I dont think any more negative publicity for Beattie will matter to him (huge majority and some time to the next election). The interesting thing – for me- is to see the Feds supporting Medicare, a corner I dont think that they are to pleased to have been backed into. Will this stop the slow decline of Medicare?
    Secondly if user-pays goes ahead then those enjoying subsidised health care – higher wage earners with the minimum high front end dedudtible policy – will see their benefit of having only the minmum coverage evaporate and , I would suspect, be forced to purchase more extensive coverage that would see them use private treatment as they are already paying for it thus relieving some of the burden.
    Of course a deal might be done where more money is given to Qld or Health actually becomes a sole Federal responsibility. In the first instance “Backflip Beattie” will just rollover completely on his new policy and his grin will just get bigger. In the second all his Christmas have come at once.

  14. R J Stove
    October 22nd, 2005 at 22:34 | #14

    Nothing to do with Beattie or Howard, this comment. Just an observation about the Incredible Shrinking Book.

    Why are non-fiction books getting shorter? Because that they are getting shorter, seems beyond dispute.

    Compiling today a list of new books I’d been reading in the last year – either for professional purposes or, less often, for pleasure – I noticed an odd thing. With only two exceptions, one of them a German-language biography translated into English (Joachim Köhler’s volume on Wagner), none of the books was huge. Ten or 15 years ago, they all would’ve been. (The other biggie was Veronica Buckley’s life of Sweden’s Queen Christina.)

    Maybe this trend towards downsizing only affects books in my main areas of secular interest (broadly speaking: 16th/17th-century European history, Cold War history, classical music up to and including Richard Strauss). Still, I suspect not. Recent titles I’ve read in 2004 and 2005 include:

    * Lisa Jardine, The Awful End of Prince William the Silent
    * S. J. Hamrick, Deceiving the Deceivers (about the Cambridge Spies)
    * Henry Kamen, The Duke of Alba
    * Jean-Michel Nectoux (ed.), The Correspondence of Camille Saint-Saëns and Gabriel Faure
    * G. E. White, Alger Hiss’s Looking-Glass Wars

    Some interesting statistics from this list: William the Silent is only 144 pages. Saint-Saëns/Fauré wrote only enough letters to take up 153 pages. The others are longer (ranging from 216 to 320 pages each) but still on the concise side.

    Now what I want to know is, whatever happened to the multi-volume hagiographies (and demonographies) which US publishers used to churn out like sausages? Such as Robert Caro’s demonography of Lyndon Johnson (Volume 2 of which takes more than 1000 pages to cover LBJ’s Senate career alone)? Such as Taylor Branch’s hagiography of Martin Luther King, where MLK doesn’t even get BORN till well into Volume 1?

    Have publishers been forced to cut their costs? Surely not: their grasp of financial realities tends to be Enron-like at the best of times. So whither the behemoths of yesteryear?

    My guess is that the recent scandals attending gigantic tomes by Doris Kearns Goodwin and the late Stephen Ambrose (both of whom, not to put too fine a point on it, plagiarised pathologically) have now forced publishers to copy-edit much more carefully, in search of stolen passages. It’s much easier to get away with wholesale plagiarising in a 1000-page book which most people will just skim-read, than in a 300-page book which will be carefully studied.

    Anyone else have further thoughts on the matter?

  15. October 23rd, 2005 at 21:10 | #15

    Why would a publisher produce a 1000 page book when a 100 page volume will sell for twice the price? I don’t think its plagarism or cost cutting, just shrinking attention span and less disposable time.

  16. observa
    October 23rd, 2005 at 22:32 | #16

    lurch,
    I agree with you’re analysis of the Beattie approach and how he’d probably like to get health right off his hands. Wouldn’t all the Premiers you’d think? In that sense he’s taking a beggar thy neighbour approach and in the final analysis, may be giving the last rights to universal Medicare. I find it curious that a Labor man would be the first to do that. Whatever, I’m sure the other Premiers won’t be able to afford to let him get away with it. Nor will Abbott. The Feds will cut back Qld’s overall finance accordingly, you’d expect, as they hold the ultimate purse strings here. In any case if it works for Beattie, the other Premiers will hop on the bandwagon. Beattie’s victory will be short lived if they do. The real problems in health aren’t going away that easily.

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