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Weekend reflections

November 4th, 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. Harry Clarke
    November 4th, 2005 at 16:26 | #1

    I don’t support capital punishment at all but feel particularly upset by the plan of the Singaporean government to hang Mr. Nguyen Tuong Van. He is a young man who has made a foolish miscalculation but does not deserve to die on this account. This penalty is not commensurate with his crime even though the crime is serious.

    In today’s newspapers is an advertisement from Amnesty International uging a letter from private citizens to Singapore’s High Commissioner in Australia. I hope JQ will not mind me using his blog to propagandise and hope readers will take the time to write a letter urging that this death penalty be set aside.


    His Excellency, Joseph Koh
    High Commissioner
    High Commission of the Republic of Singapore
    17 Forster Cresent
    Yarralumla. ACT. 2600.

  2. UQ Student
    November 4th, 2005 at 17:26 | #2

    Professor Quiggen it is great that you have this blog! I remember I had you for a guest lecturer one time nearly two years back, I asked you some question I don’t remember what it was but I remember your reply was very intelligent. Anyway I want to ask your opinion of something. I started out at uni doing an economics degree , but I changed subjects after stumbling on a book by Steve Keen of the University of Western Sydney called “Debunking Economics”. It made a fairly compelling case that the economic theory taught at bachelor level is not very useful, after reading it I decided I would be better off studying something else so I switched to studying maths. I want to know what you and other economists thought of Keen’s book.

  3. Jon
    November 4th, 2005 at 17:26 | #3

    Remember also ,David Hicks,who seems to be left in jail without any power. Also, “a foolish young man”. Maybe, it is the “old blokes” who need to be questioned ,in courts, for crimes. Support from me Harry.

  4. SJ
    November 4th, 2005 at 18:00 | #4

    UQ Student Says:

    I want to know what you and other economists thought of Keen’s book.

    John did a review of the book.

  5. Dave Ricardo
    November 4th, 2005 at 18:47 | #5

    Nguyen’s case is judicial murder, pure and simple. Keep him in jail for 20 years if need be, but killing him for what he did is just barbarism.

  6. November 4th, 2005 at 18:59 | #6

    Hicks should be in Nguyen’s shoes.

  7. jon
    November 4th, 2005 at 19:03 | #7

    Dave, the “war on drugs” is more of a prob. The issue, is to do with old men declaring war on anything to maintain their power.

  8. jon
    November 4th, 2005 at 20:17 | #8

    Steve at the pub seems to believe in vigilantantism.
    One more beer for me, Steve, but have to go home.

  9. UQ Student
    November 5th, 2005 at 00:36 | #9

    Thanks for pointing me to the review SJ! And to the wealth of material on Professor Q’s uni page which I had not yet visited.

  10. brian
    November 5th, 2005 at 02:31 | #10

    One of the WW I poets(was it Owen,I wonder?) wrote a few compelling lines in a poem which ended…”go tell the old men…safe in their beds….we took their orders and are dead !”

  11. Terje Petersen
    November 5th, 2005 at 07:19 | #11

    In order to stop young people knowingly ingesting chemicals that may kill them (but are enjoyable) we have accepted the need to kill or incaserate young people who knowingly sell such dangereous chemicals (but get paid well to do it by the first crowd). All the time being quite permissive about other dangereous chemicals. And it doesn’t seem to work anyway.

    Drug prohibition is stupid. Put the stuff on the same shelf along side alcohol and cigarettes and inform people that its dumb to indulge in chemical oblivion.

  12. November 5th, 2005 at 07:23 | #12

    Nguyen is a victim of capitalism. He entered into a business enterprise, took a risk, & the enterprise failed due to regulatory intervention.

  13. Ros
    November 5th, 2005 at 09:19 | #13

    Much about Paris (and beyond) at Instapundit and others. And Holland and Norway’s probs as well.

    But Instapundit asks the question, Could Australia be next. Refers to The Australian. Am I a fool to think, very unlikely?

  14. Ian Gould
    November 5th, 2005 at 12:05 | #14

    Steve: Hicks should be in Nguyen’s shoes.

    Yes, then he’d face a trial that actually met international standards and probably wouldn’t be being forcibly sodomised with foreign objects and subjected to other forms of torture.

  15. Roberto
    November 5th, 2005 at 12:17 | #15

    Ian Gould Says: November 5th, 2005 at 12:05 pm
    “Hicks should be in Nguyen’s shoes…. probably wouldn’t be being forcibly sodomised with foreign objects and subjected to other forms of torture.”

    How come this allegation has only come out now! Why didn’t Hicks provide this testimony earlier? Why didn’t he advise Australian Consular Officials (unless of course they are part of the conspiracy)? Why didn’t Hicks Lawyer raise the claims publicly? Why didn’t Hicks’ Lawyers raise the claims publicly earlier?

  16. Roberto
    November 5th, 2005 at 12:25 | #16

    Ros, France in particular has a history of civil disturbance – French Revolution anyone!

    However, the case here is that it could be effectively a pressure valve for disaffected youth. Though, the scale and degree of destruction is quiet substantial, and from friends in Paris indicating that while some of these suburbs were virtual non-go areas previously, the recent days has only secured that reputation.

    Though with the events in France, Britain, and in very liberal open socities such as The Netherlands, Denmark and others, it is placing significant community strains on the political system to work out a quick fix – that will see overreactions on both sides being actively explored and enacted.

    My gut feel is that the outcome will see a signficant revisionism of muticultural policy being reworked. Hence the difficult debate about letting in Turkey into the EU.

  17. Ian Gould
  18. Ian Gould
    November 5th, 2005 at 13:32 | #18

    Jon – Steve has assured us before that he doesn’t believe in vigilante justice.

    In fact he said specifically that if Hicks were acquitted he personally wouldn;t shoot him down in the street – but some other decent freedom-loving Australian patriot undoubtedly would.

  19. Vee
    November 5th, 2005 at 14:59 | #19

    First of all sorry for the long post.

    I just got my insight newsletter



    The radical Industrial Relations reforms proposed by the Howard Government
    will be the most powerful changes to our industrial relations system in
    over a century. The debate over Industrial Relations is perhaps one of the
    most emotive Australia has experienced in a while; it leads directly to our
    hip pockets.

    It’s been tough to miss the avalanche of “Work Choices” advertisements that
    have been sprayed across the media. The estimated $40 million dollar media
    spend suggests that the government considers this a big deal.

    Polls reveal only one in three voters believes the reforms will be good for
    jobs, however, 44% of people are adopting a wait-and-see attitude. Are you
    worried about losing penalty rates and public holidays? Or do you look
    forward to having the opportunity to negotiate your individual contract?

    It appears inevitable that these changes will be passed though the Senate
    by December, ushering in a new era of workplace relations. But questions
    remain: Will the new changes lead to more jobs, greater productivity and a
    stronger economy? Should work be considered more than a commodity?

    Hosted by Jenny Brockie, this one-hour forum brings together economists,
    employer groups, union leaders, and members of the public to discuss if
    there is a devil in the IR detail?

    I was wondering if anyone that we’re familiar with in the blogosphere is participating. Someone like yourself perhaps Professor?

  20. Roberto
    November 5th, 2005 at 15:25 | #20

    The first link indicates that a number of inmates were delusional or suffering mental health conditions before internment.

    “He said inmates suffered from schizophrenia, depression and personality disorders “of the kind that you would see in any adult population.”

    Perhaps that diagnosis is worth considering.

    “In an affidavit released by his lawyers today, Hicks says he was forcibly injected with drugs, beaten for hours while blindfolded and handcuffed and had food withheld by his jailers at the American military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.”

    Did the same affidavit refer to rendition and sexual assault/torture?

    Well, this site is unlikely to be ‘independent’ especially when it links to such ‘independent’ and authoratative journals as the Green Left Weekly

  21. jon
    November 5th, 2005 at 15:42 | #21

    Thanks Ian, am reassured. News around that the Americans are running detention camps all over the world. Far to scared to run them in their own country. Justice might creep in and spoil the party.

  22. Ian Gould
    November 5th, 2005 at 16:36 | #22


    1.you can’t have it both ways. People who are that delusional aren’t legal competent and can’t be held criminally liable for their actions.

    2. With the exception of the one link to Green Left Weekly a quick look suggests most of the links from the “fairgo” site are to maisntream media.

    Are you going to try and deny that their have been instances of torture of peopel held in US custody post-9/11?

  23. November 5th, 2005 at 18:14 | #23

    IG, why should post 11.9.01 be any different? The principle was established well before, it’s merely the scale of things that has increased.

  24. jon
    November 5th, 2005 at 18:21 | #24

    Lets be thankfull that our P.M. has broken the news that the tooth fairy does not exist. Weapons of mass-destruction and off to war ,might take a little bit longer.

  25. Roberto
    November 5th, 2005 at 18:45 | #25

    Ian – try this for size:

    4. 61,911,000 Murdered: The Soviet Gulag State
    5. 35,236,000 Murdered: The Communist Chinese Ant Hill
    6. 20,946,000 Murdered: The Nazi Genocide State
    7. 10,214,000 Murdered: The Depraved Nationalist Regime

    8. 5,964,000 Murdered: Japan’s Savage Military
    9. 2,035,000 Murdered: The Khmer Rouge Hell State
    10. 1,883,000 Murdered: Turkey’s Genocidal Purges
    11. 1,670,000 Murdered: The Vietnamese War State
    12. 1,585,000 Murdered: Poland’s Ethnic Cleansing
    13. 1,503,000 Murdered: The Pakistani Cutthroat State
    14. 1,072,000 Murdered: Tito’s Slaughterhouse

    15. 1,663,000 Murdered? Orwellian North Korea
    16. 1,417,000 Murdered? Barbarous Mexico
    17. 1,066,000 Murdered? Feudal Russia


  26. Ian Gould
    November 5th, 2005 at 19:21 | #26

    Roberto, I’ll take that as a “no”.

  27. jon
    November 5th, 2005 at 19:22 | #27

    Maybe, Roberto maybe that is what Ian is trying to talk about. One party states and the abandonment of civil liberties go together. New anti-terrorism laws provide detention without trial and the devil is in detail.

  28. Ian Gould
    November 5th, 2005 at 19:32 | #28

    Funny how the Right has no problem with moral relativism when it comes to deflecting criticism of the regimes which they genuflect before.

    “America – not as bad as North Korea” doesn’t have quite the same kick as “THe Land of the Brave and the Home of the Free”.

  29. jon
    November 5th, 2005 at 20:36 | #29

    Marketing and spin rules,Ian. ‘Coca-cola’ and ‘democracy’ are products delivered to you daily. We know the first is a drink and bad for your teeth. The latter, is never defined but under trademark to George 11. All we know is that we are going to get it ,whether we like it or not.

  30. jquiggin
    November 5th, 2005 at 20:52 | #30

    Vee, I was on Insight a year or two ago, but I didn’t find it a very positive experience – I only got to speak very briefly, and the issues didn’t really get debated. I haven’t been asked back since, so maybe their view of me as a guest was the same.

  31. November 6th, 2005 at 01:56 | #31

    Jon, you should look up how first Athens, then various other Greek city states, and then Alexander’s successors and finally the Romans, all used instating favourable rulers under the guise of liberating/putting in the good guys. It’s just that they didn’t actually use the term “democracy” but “isonomy” for what we now call democracy.

    Not seeing this coming and recognising it as leading to empire is a failure of learning from history (Rome never intended an empire outside Italy, come to that – it was corrupted into that itself).

  32. November 6th, 2005 at 04:11 | #32

    President Bush can run but he cannot hide. Where can he go?

    If he ducks away to Crawford, for another vacation on the job, he will more than likely have Cindy at the farm gate wishing to question him about a certain “noble cause.” The White House is not too pleasant either from some accounts. The criminal indictment of Irving Lewis Libby seems to have created a nest of problems. The very unpleasant Richard Bruce Cheney has a cloud over him to say the least, and the ever-smiling Karl Rove is faced with a possible indictment and demands for his sacking from Republican congressmen. Not to mention a war that George Walker Bush spent his political capital on, which despite an initial spike in the public opinion polls have as the long term reality of the quick-fix sunk in has steadily and irrevocably eroded his political standing.

    Buenos Aires sounds a nice place. And leaving the country to soak up an international atmosphere seems like a good idea for President Bush in the present circumstances. He goes there and riot and mayhem follows.

    Where could he go, and enjoy all the standing of the leader of the only superpower that is still able to spend more money on defence than any other country, or countries combined on Earth? Whatever. On this basis every president can be a war president.

    His presence in most places is likely to stir the possum. We are seeing what is happening in South America, because the issue is social justice and economic well being. Given the rudeness of some of his supporters, he may have problems about his reception in Europe. Bush would be forced to deal with the issue of global warming. The Middle East may not be a good idea such as the moment. The war in Iraq would be mentioned, more often than not. If he went to South Asia there is the reminder of another natural disaster. If President Bush goes to Africa he will be confronted with the issue of poverty and international post-colonial debt. In East Asia he would run into the unresolved settlement of the Korean War. South East Asia is perhaps a possibility since it is possible that his visit would not be the occasion for rioting and mass demonstrations.

    Australia is not a possibility. Even his friends here do not want his presence at this moment because it would remind one and all the reason we supposedly must have the terror legislation, namely the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

    Still there is always the good old USA, which by reputation is big enough and self-centred enough, to be oblivious to everything and every opinion and concern on the rest of the planet. Camp David is looking better and better. There at least he can enjoy the bubble, although the even friendly mainstream medium are going to be asking where he is.

    The Christian Right will surely play the role of the Good Samaritan, and give President Bush succour, he is there man, but they are not a country, or a continent – more a state of mind really, and perhaps not of this world.

  33. Roberto
    November 6th, 2005 at 10:28 | #33

    jon Says: November 5th, 2005 at 7:22 pm “One party states and the abandonment of civil liberties go together. New anti-terrorism laws provide detention without trial”

    Jon are you seriously declaring that the US or Australia is a one party state. What of the the debate and rancour about the IR laws. What then is the point of the ACTU and others opposing the changes? If the one party state thesis is true, then why is the ACTU wasting so much of members’ monies on a lost cause. Surely then questions should be asked of the ACTU why it is doing this – surely it would be better (again if the one party thesis is true) for the ACTU to dissolve and distribute its capital wealth back to the members?

    “New anti-terrorism laws provide detention without trial”. In the criminal law system, there is the ability to hold people on Remand (detention) – until they have a trial. The Remand provision is essentailly detemined by an unelected judge and the prosecution (the State).

  34. Marko
    November 6th, 2005 at 11:51 | #34

    There is a presumption of bail in all australian jurisdictions (though some of the states are trying to remove the presumption – if they do, watch what happens with the presumption of innocence as the two are related). Prosecution must convince the court that the presumption is overcome by factors such as a history of failing to attend court. It is argued about in court. If bail isn’t granted, it can be reviewed on the merits within days. All occurs in a public court, and there is a right to legal representation at all stages beyond the police cell. If, after having bail refused, the remandee’s circumstances change so that bail might become a possibility again, they can apply for a new hearing. These checks upon imprisonment while waiting for trial (which is different than imprisonment WITHOUT trial) do not exist for your ‘non-suspect’ terrorism related detentions. ie, not the same.

  35. jon
    November 6th, 2005 at 14:45 | #35

    Marko, thankyou. “Non-suspect terrorism related detentions” and sedition law are the major concern ,Roberto. We have had the separation of the judiciary and executive government. These new laws blur the lines significantly. Separation of church and state is another proud tradition. Checks and balances are the basis of the westminster system.
    Start playing around with ‘custody for doing nothing’ and ‘your right to say something controversial’ and you move into scary territory. With an Attourney-General and Prime Minister, of any party, who may think power is more important than human rights, we may well end up with a one party state.

  36. Roberto
    November 6th, 2005 at 16:36 | #36

    Jon – I note that you make the point about “Separation of church and state is another proud tradition. ” Which I thoroughly agree. If it were up to me I would abolish the entire private/religious school system. But where does the Left sit in terms of students wearing religious garb, paraphenalia etc in a state school system? I can name many of the “Left” who argue strongly that it is “ok” to ignore the church-state argument in this issue.

    But the whole point about precentative detention is not “‘custody for doing nothing”. The point is to stop terrorists planning with the intent of seeing through their plans. If they can be stopped, surely that is preferable to ‘waiting’ for the maiming and murder to occur before the authorities can/could act!

  37. Roberto
    November 6th, 2005 at 16:53 | #37

    Sorry – i pressed the submit button too soon. 1 final point.

    According to the draft bills, and as quoted and so opposed by Socialist Alliance @ http://www.socialist-alliance.org/page.php?page=488

    “Howard’s new amendments to the Crimes Act would make it an offence, punishable by seven years’ imprisonment, to intentionally “urge disaffection againstâ€? the Australian constitution, the federal government or either house of the federal parliament and “to promote feelings of ill-will or hostility between different groups so as to threaten the peace, order and good government ofâ€? Australia. ”

    How could anyone be so opposed to the last bit: ““to promote feelings of ill-will or hostility between different groups so as to threaten the peace, order and good government ofâ€? Australia”.

    Am I missing something, or has the hard Left in this country gone completely nuts.

  38. jon
    November 6th, 2005 at 16:55 | #38

    As for the ACTU, Roberto, dont get me started. They have lost the plot for ages. Since the template of industrial “reforms”, introduced by Jeff Kennet,they have failed to respond. Casualisation is now the norm in Victoria and coming to a place near you. No discounts for joining ‘that’ club,when you get what the boss offers and super, into ever-diminishing funds, to god knows where.

  39. jon
    November 6th, 2005 at 18:11 | #39

    Clearly, I am no rep of the left, Roberto. And would prefer to not move off onto another tangent. Are you prepared to define terms . Who are these “terrorists” , that you have such large concerns about and why do they exist?
    Anyway,have enjoyed debate and the forum for it,while it lasts.

  40. Roberto
    November 6th, 2005 at 20:01 | #40
  41. November 6th, 2005 at 21:39 | #41

    Ah, nitwits with pamphlets – like many of the people I knew when I was at university.

    I imagine we would all agree that words themselves don’t matter, except insofar as they lead to real consequences. With the single large exception of the London bombings, I can’t think of any terrorist attacks carried out by Muslims raised in the West, or long term members of an Islamic community in the West. So wouldn’t we think that in fact the Muslim communities are sensibly resistant to terrorism, and unlikely to need preventative policing?

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