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Weekend reflections

November 25th, 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. Terje
    November 25th, 2005 at 18:11 | #1

    The continued growth of e-gold (40% per annum) means that the amount of trade conducted using this fully private currency is becoming quite staggering.

    Last night I checked out the turnover per day to see that it is now 400-500kg of gold per day. This is worth between 6 and 8 million US$ per day. Several billion dollars per annum.

    Not bad for a private currency founded in 1996 with a mere handfull of users. Not bad given that a huge amount of the transactions involved are micropayments.

    If you want to open a free e-gold account here is my referal link: http://www.e-gold.com/e-gold.asp?cid=1018942

    However at the current growth rate it does not matter if you open an account or not. E-gold is going to be a big phenomena in the years ahead. Its doubling in size every two years.

    The following URL is sometimes a bit slow but it shows the current stats for e-gold: http://www.e-gold.com/stats.html

  2. Steve Munn
    November 25th, 2005 at 21:26 | #2

    PrQ, what do you think of Melbourne Uni’s plan to require students to undertake a generalist degree before specialising in their chosen field? Apparently such a system is the norm in America and the EU countries may be heading down the same track.

  3. November 25th, 2005 at 21:50 | #3

    That was interesting. Totally justified my comment. Very ironic too.

  4. November 25th, 2005 at 21:55 | #4

    I carn’t think of enything mor civiliezd than discussing how best to protect democratic freedoms.

  5. November 25th, 2005 at 22:05 | #5

    Terje,trying hard to remember, old fashioned, very basic economic ideas at school. Was it,’portabilty,usabilty and durabilty’, that meant you had it made it, wealthwise? Probably wrong.

    Wouldn’t it be best to stash little gold bars ,under the house, than rely on e-mail account? Computers may drop out and there goes all the goodys.

    Not a prob, we have to deal with, here, unfortunately.

  6. Terje Petersen
    November 25th, 2005 at 22:15 | #6

    Joe2,

    QUOTE: Wouldn’t it be best to stash little gold bars ,under the house

    RESPONSE: Maybe if your expecting political or economic collapse and you want to be prepared for the time afterwards. However if that is your concern then you would probably be better of living somewhere remote and buying a lot of ammunition.

    Besides it does not matter much what you or I think. Lots of people already obviously think that doing business using e-gold is a worthwhile activity.

    Regards,
    Terje.

  7. November 25th, 2005 at 22:17 | #7

    JQ, how will I ever see the inside of a prison with these restrictions?

  8. November 25th, 2005 at 23:41 | #8

    Free the Benno one? It reminds me of an apocryphal graffito (is that a word?) written under a sign asserting “Bill Stickers Will Be Prosecuted”: “Bill Stickers is innocent”. Interstingly, it was a self regarding statement too.

    BTW, let me be the first around here to announce George Best RIP.

  9. orang
    November 26th, 2005 at 06:26 | #9

    Anyone see the story about the poor Sap – born in France from Serb parents, came to Oz when 2 years old is now 36 something, spent all his life except from 0-2 in Oz, ex drug addict convicted of burglary or something, expelled by the Grim Reaper Ruddock as personna non- grata …back to………..SERBIA! Where he’s starving to death.

    Woo Hoo. Way to go you Christian you.

  10. orang
    November 26th, 2005 at 06:30 | #10

    joe2 – I have resorted to placing half sovereigns in a condom and stashing them up my arse. You never know when you’re going to need them.

  11. Terje Petersen
    November 26th, 2005 at 07:37 | #11

    Orang,

    I wouldn’t do that if I were you. You never know when you are going to need your ass.

    Regards,
    Terje.

  12. jquiggin
    November 26th, 2005 at 09:59 | #12

    Sorry about that Benno. I wasn’t sure if the comment was genuine, a provocation or a spoof of your identity, and it was too late at night for me to spend a lot of time thinking on it. If it was intended as a provocation, I suggest you post it on your blog and add a link here.

  13. Hermit
    November 26th, 2005 at 11:25 | #13

    This may have more significance than we realize http://www.theoildrum.com/story/2005/11/23/34751/090

    World oil production of 72.2 million barrels a day in May 2005 may never be repeated no matter how much effort is applied.

    From now on we will be fighting over a shrinking resource flow.

  14. Crispin Bennett
    November 26th, 2005 at 11:41 | #14

    I was thinking about posting something reflective about my experiences, as a ‘mature-aged’ student, of Australian Higher Education in 2005. I find myself, thus far, however, too enervated by the horrific bureaucrat-driven dumbed-down process I’ve endured for a semester.

    So instead here’s a link that adequately satirises the situation at the august institution I share with John Quiggin : http://www.library.uq.edu.au/surveys/pg.php

  15. November 26th, 2005 at 17:35 | #15

    Terje,
    The price of gold is obviously going through the roof. Enough people believe that it is better to have that, than a currency. Just amazed that people are prepared to hand it over to a ‘trustworthy’ organisation, on line. Maybe, a lot of people are voting with their feet and have little trust with government management of their economy.
    Also,regards…….

  16. November 26th, 2005 at 18:22 | #16

    Another reflection of the weekend variety. How come the north of our country has become a very larger bombing range, without very much consideration? As far as i can gather B-52s will arrive from Guam and drop a ‘payload’, close to Katherine and then return home.
    Suspect ,Senator Hill, is thrilled that the media radar, is largly turned off. See….
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200511/s1510211.htm

  17. Terje Petersen
    November 26th, 2005 at 19:36 | #17

    QUOTE: The price of gold is obviously going through the roof.

    RESPONSE: In US dollar terms it is. However that is more a reflection on the US dollar coming out of deflationary territory a few years ago and now entering inflationary territory. The fact that it’s the dollar changing value rather than gold is reflected by the price of commodities across the board. Take a look at oil.

  18. Seeker
    November 27th, 2005 at 00:19 | #18

    Orang,

    I wouldn’t do that if I were you. You never know when you are going to need your ass.

    Regards,
    Terje.

    November 26th, 2005 at 7:37 am

    LOL! How caring of you :)

  19. Tony Healy
    November 27th, 2005 at 09:48 | #19

    joe2, the bombing runs by the US air force are preparation for them taking over the regional bombing role that our F-111s currently provide. Practice attacks on Northern Territory targets are proxies for attacks on areas to our near north, intended to familiarise crews with flights into our region from their Guam base.

    This is a consequence of our government’s decision to opt for a budget air force next decade, retiring the F-111 and replacing it with the lightweight fighter, the F-35. That move deprives Australia of a strategic deterrent capability.

    US aircraft undertaking these runs will include B1-Bs as well as B-52s, and possibly some B2 stealth planes.

    We are also likely to see US squadrons of their air superiority fighter, the F-22, start exercising out of Tindal and Darwin starting around 2008. This is because the Howard government’s air force cost cutting will leave us out-gunned in air defence in the next decade, and thus dependent on the US.

  20. Ian Gould
    November 27th, 2005 at 11:02 | #20

    http://www.economist.com/finance/displayStory.cfm?story_id=5175800

    This article from The Economist casts a quite surprising light on the EU economy. Conventional wisdom (inclduing much from The Ecopnomist itself) has it that the EU economy is grossly inefficient and that its high unemployment is due to high taxes and labor market rigidity.

    The article calls both claims into question:

    The euro area’s unemployment rate has fallen by more than expected in recent months, from 8.8% in April to 8.4% in September.

    Unemployment:

    “Several countries’ jobless figures may be distorted by special employment measures and changes in rules for claiming benefits, but surveys point to an improvement in underlying conditions. This is the result of various labour-market reforms as well as a cyclical upturn. Though labour markets remain stiff, they are not as rigid as they were. Indeed, the unemployment figures may understate the overall gains: employment has risen by far more than unemployment has fallen as reforms have dragged previously discouraged workers back into the labour market.

    Spain has enjoyed the fastest expansion in jobs, 4% a year since 2000. And Italian employment has risen by an annual average of 1.4% in the past six years. This partly reflects the emergence of workers from the black economy into the official realm, but some of the increase is real, thanks to new, more flexible types of job contract. Italy’s jobless rate, almost 12% in 1998, is now 7.7%. Germany is the only big euro-zone country whose unemployment rate has not fallen in the past decade.”

    Growth:

    “Although America has outpaced Europe this year, over the past five years GDP per head, the best single measure of economic performance, grew at an average rate of 1.4% in the euro area, just behind America’s 1.5%. Ah, but America is better at creating jobs, isn’t it? Actually, no. Employment has grown a tad faster in the euro area than in America whether one looks at the past five years or the past ten—a striking improvement on the decade to the mid-1990s (see chart).”

    So Europe’s high unemployment is at least partiallyattributable to an increased participation rate. A number of Euroepan countries have sought to reform their pension schemes in recent years to cut costs and discourage early retirement. It would be ironic if these reforms have actually had the effect of increasing unemployment by increasing the participation rate of older workers.

    Similarly, much of the difference in the rate of economic growth between the US and the EU is attributable simply to the faster growth in te US population. (Of course, one reason people more people choose to migrate to the US may be because of the lower unemployment there.)

    A further question which this comparison raises is, if immigration is a major driver of US economic growth, what proportion of that is attributable to illegal immigration and what would the impact on the US economy be of a concerted crack-down on illegal immigration?

  21. Ian Gould
    November 27th, 2005 at 12:51 | #21

    Former interim PM of Iraq Iyad Allawi says human rights abuse in the country are now worse than under Saddam:

    Current Iraqi rights abuses equal Saddam’s: former PM

    Abuse of human rights in Iraq is as bad now as it was under Saddam Hussein, if not worse, former prime minister Iyad Allawi said in an interview published on Sunday.

    “People are doing the same as (in) Saddam Hussein’s time and worse. It is an appropriate comparison,” Mr Allawi told British newspaper The Observer.

    “People are remembering the days of Saddam,” said Mr Allawi, a secular Shiite and former Baathist who is standing in elections scheduled for December 15.

    “These are the precise reasons why we fought Saddam Hussein and now we are seeing the same things.

  22. conrad
    November 27th, 2005 at 14:04 | #22

    Speaking about unemployment in Europe, are there any widely accepted “real” unemployment comparisons across countries, which take into account underemployment and ridiculous government criteria ?

    I’ve always wondered what the real unemployment rates would be like if you included all the hidden unemployed people. Would Australia have a compartively high rate or do other countries have equally as ridiculous classification schemes, such that if you are on a disability pension but want to work, or work 2 hours a week (or whatever it is now), you are not considered unemployed ?

  23. November 27th, 2005 at 14:55 | #23

    Thanks for the apology/explanation JQ, I didn’t really think that you took it down because you are anti-free speech. Your reasons for removing it were eminently sensible, regardless of the time of day or how much time you can induldge filtering comments.

    It wasn’t a provocation because I know that that sort of provocation gets no oxygen on this blog, it was instead my honest opinion. But that sort of honest opinion does belong on my own blog and not someone elses.

    BTW the point you made about identity spoofs is quite amusing as 99% of readers of comments don’t believe that they know the commentator personally anyway. So it’s up to the hosts discretion about databasies of IP addresses and known behaivours.

  24. November 27th, 2005 at 14:56 | #24

    My favoured slogan at the moment is “Free the Quarks”.

  25. Terje Petersen
    November 27th, 2005 at 16:06 | #26

    Benno,

    I can understand why Mr Quiggin found offence in your words. I am no fan of anti-sedition laws, however I am not generally a fan of sedition either.

    Regards,
    Terje.

  26. November 27th, 2005 at 16:16 | #27

    Right you are then.

  27. November 27th, 2005 at 16:37 | #28

    From Revised 1985 Macquarie Dictionary
    Sedition:
    1. incitement of discontent or rebellion against the government; action or language promoting such discontent or rebellion.
    2. archaic. rebellious disorder.

    Promoting or inciting discontent, you know, that abstract noun which may lead to a party losing power in a democracy.

    Are you absolutely sure that you not generally a fan of sedition? On this definition no ones actions/thoughts/beliefs/words should be judged as per whether they are seditious or not, but upon other criteria. Blah blah Gahndi blah blah Nelson Mandela.

    These laws may pertain only to the field of terrorists and terrorism, ie. you won’t be jailed for inciting discontent with the full sale of Telstra. But points of order stand I believe.

  28. November 27th, 2005 at 16:38 | #29

    Orang: Why should we feel sorry for someone who lived here 30 years but never bothered to take out citizenship, and was a drug addict and burglar to boot? Sounds to me like he’s a victim of his own stupidity.

    Australia should not be a safe house for the criminally idiotic, no matter how long they’ve lived here.

  29. Terje Petersen
    November 27th, 2005 at 17:22 | #30

    Benno,

    I am not generally a fan of sedition when the said sedition involves the incitement of violence towards the government or government officials. I am not always and forever against violent rebellion however I do find myself offended by your assertion that the IR laws warrant an assasination (even though I would not ban your right to make such an offensive assertion).

    Following these IR law reforms we will have democratic elections during which there will be ample opportunity for people to express their dissatisfaction (through the ballot box) with Australias laws and/or its government. To suggest that an assasination is now necessary seems quite extreme.

    Regards,
    Terje.

  30. November 27th, 2005 at 18:16 | #31

    All people who are offended by Violence,

    Being fined several days wages for one day of strike. Being fined for striking at all, making striking illegal. Criminalising the right to protest by stealth. And then there is the police violence.

    And if the majority of Australians except this at le ballot bocs, they are terrorising the minority who don’t. The minority should then take up arms. So you are correct in the timing of when to take up arms, after the next election. But Beazley, while repealing the IR laws will go even stronger on the so called anti-terrorism laws. So either way Australians will probably vote yes in a referendum to terrorise an as yet unidentified minority.

    Violence offends me too, it offends me very much. But I can always say “They started it first”.

    regards,
    someone who should know better.

  31. November 27th, 2005 at 18:16 | #32

    This is fleshing out nicely. I think it needs to now be fleshed out to the root of the debate. I don’t know where this is yet.

  32. November 27th, 2005 at 18:32 | #33

    Ok. Obviously things haven’t deteriorated that much yet.

  33. November 27th, 2005 at 18:32 | #34

    Such a beautiful word.

  34. November 27th, 2005 at 21:34 | #35

    so after the election we will all get to shoot you Benno?

  35. Terje Petersen
    November 27th, 2005 at 22:35 | #36

    Benno,

    QUOTE: And if the majority of Australians except this at le ballot bocs, they are terrorising the minority who don’t.

    RESPONSE: This is a problem with democracy (and all forms of government) across the board. So what then are the alternatives? If you wish to overthrow the government you had best have an alternative system in mind.

    Personally I find my current marginal tax rate (~80%) to be an act of terrorism perpetrated by the majority. I certainly did not accept this at le ballot box. Taxation was amoung the primary causes of the Eureka rebellion so I would have history on my side if I decided to lead a workers revolution. However I don’t think assasinations are in order.

    In terms of alternate systems the best I can envisage is one call minimal government. Traditionally called Laissez Faire.

    Regards,
    Terje.

    P.S. In the first quote I believe you mean “accept” not “except”. They have quite different meanings.

  36. Steve Munn
    November 28th, 2005 at 00:09 | #37

    Terje says: “In terms of alternate systems the best I can envisage is one call minimal government. Traditionally called Laissez Faire.”

    Maybe you should read a little about Dickensian England, which came as close to Laissez Faire as you can get. It wasn’t that pleasant actually. Alternatively you could venture to Somalia, which is effectively Laissez Faire. Libertarian types babble about the evils of government power but without it other forces like corporations and criminal syndicates will always fill the vacuum. Libertarianism, like Marxism, might look nice in picture books but it is unworkable in practice. Be careful what you wish for. Cheers.

  37. November 28th, 2005 at 06:32 | #38

    Conrad,

    Re true unemployment figures, you might this Dec 2004 article in the Melbourne Age of interest:

    Rubbery figures hide the real jobless tragedy

  38. November 28th, 2005 at 06:33 | #39
  39. lurch
    November 28th, 2005 at 07:55 | #40

    Terje i would suggest you need to find a better accountant.

  40. Ian Gould
    November 28th, 2005 at 07:59 | #41

    I beleive Terje is including the withdrawal of welfare payments in calculating his marginal tax rate.

  41. Katz
    November 28th, 2005 at 08:15 | #42

    Proof positive that the road to hell is paved with good intentions!

    According to a report about the contents of an alleged leaked transcript of an April 2004 conversation between George W. Bush and Tony Blair, Bush wanted to bomb the al Jazeera headquarters in Qatar, a member of the Coalition of the Willing.

    Allegedly, Blair dissuaded Bush, pointing out the diplomatic difficulties that may arise.

    David Keogh faces prosecution under the Official Secret Act for divulging this information to a BLP parliamentary candidate.

    But:

    1. Blair denies the existence of the transcript, and, by implication any mention of the subject of bombing al Jazeera in the conversation in question.

    2. Lord Goldsmith, British Attorney-General, admitted in a radio interview that he used back channels to attempt to dissuade the British press from mentioning the alleged transcripts or their supposed subject matter.

    http://observer.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,6903,1651765,00.html

    Thus, David Keogh, who has been described as both a “junior foreign office official” and a senior operative for MI6, is in a rather odd situation.

    For David Keogh is being prosecuted for divulging a non-existent document on the subject of a conversation that never took place, about which the British Government, ever-earnest in its desire that the British press does not make fools of themselves, wants no more public discussion.

    Just as Bush and Blair plead sincerity as a defence for their mistakes about the existence of Saddam’s WMDs, so does the British Director of Public Prosecution wish to use David Keogh’s sincerity to make the case that he divulged actual state secrets.

    Cynicism seems to be a far more successful survival strategy than sincerity. Perhaps this is one of those things that changed forever after 9/11.

  42. Terje
    November 28th, 2005 at 08:24 | #43

    Ian,

    They are not welfare payments. They are family “tax” benefits.

    Regards,
    Terje.

  43. Ian Gould
    November 28th, 2005 at 09:23 | #44

    To be really, really blunt: I seriously doubt that Bush would have advocated using American bombers to attack the Al Jazeera headquarters in Qatar.

    Even if he were inclined to attack Al Jazeera, the logical way to do so would have been to fake a terrorist attack.

  44. Katz
    November 28th, 2005 at 09:35 | #45

    IG, we don’t even know whether the conversation between Bush and Blair took place. I guess that question can only be cleared up by the release of the real transcript.

    Legal experts may be able to inform as to whether a fake transcript can be protected by the Official Secrets Act. If not, perhaps the British Government needs an Unauthorised Hoaxes Act.

    As to the means that Bush may have used to terminate al Jazeera, I can only leave that to imaginations more fertile than my own.

    Perhaps David Keogh, junior FO official, or senior MI6 figure, made up an attractively Ludlumesque scenario, if indeed he did concoct this whole story.

    I guess full and frank disclosure by the British Government is the only way we’ll know for sure.

  45. orang
    November 28th, 2005 at 11:43 | #46

    Ian Gould Says:
    November 28th, 2005 at 9:23 am

    To be really, really blunt: I seriously doubt that Bush would have advocated using American bombers to attack the Al Jazeera headquarters in Qatar.”

    Why not? Stealth bomber/fighter or cruise missile. Easy peasey. – We have the technology!

    If you mean it might be a faux pas diplomatically, this has been done before with say, the Chinese Embassy so a news office in Qatar would be no sweat.

  46. November 28th, 2005 at 16:47 | #47

    I think the allegation is that Bush raised it. That is unsurprising, since the coalition has blown up al Jazeerah before, banned it, and tormented its representatives.

    Ian’s point is that the idea of doing it is ludicrous, which is presumably what the brains trust of Bush and Blair worked out. So both notions can be brought together.

  47. Steve Munn
    November 28th, 2005 at 17:22 | #48

    The USA has ‘inadvertently’ blown up Al Jazeera offices in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

  48. November 28th, 2005 at 23:15 | #49

    Inclined to agree with Terje, would not label the abscence of a tax as “welfare”.

  49. Terje
    November 29th, 2005 at 06:42 | #50

    Whilst they may not strictly be welfare I think they are a perverse aspect of the tax system. They are phased out at 30% as income rises. Add this to the conventional top marginal tax rate and the outcome is a painful 80% marginal rate. For ever extra dollar I earn I get to keep 20 cents. I am hardly in poverty but I have cut back to four days work each week due to the lousy terms of trade.

  50. November 29th, 2005 at 17:26 | #51

    If liberty is taken away (or never given in the first place) you have a moral right and obligation to eliminate those responsible. Everything flows from there.

    I wish I had gone to see East Finchley.

  51. Terje Petersen
    November 30th, 2005 at 07:21 | #52

    Benno,

    So in addition to assasinating government officials you are now suggesting that I should blow up the ATO building in Chatswood.

    I think I will pass up on that “OBLIGATION” thanks.

    Regards,
    Terje.

  52. Paul Arrighi
    November 30th, 2005 at 12:25 | #53

    Sometimes assasinations can be for the better, imagine if the attempted assasination of Hitler had been successful, how many lives would have been saved!

  53. Terje Petersen
    November 30th, 2005 at 14:35 | #54

    Paul,

    That is pure speculation. Maybe we should start such a though exercise by first asking “who would have replaced Hitler”?

    Regards,
    Terje.

  54. Andrew Reynolds
    November 30th, 2005 at 19:25 | #55

    Terje,
    In some cases it is difficult to imagine how it could have got worse – starting with Mao (about 70m dead), Hitler (10 to 12m in the death camps, over 30m in the war), Stalin (various esimates, outside the war which he did not start, say 20m). The power vacuum left by their deaths may have been worse than the actuality of their power, but it is difficult to conclude that it would have been worse.

    That said, I still oppose the death penalty’s use for any crime – I think in the case of someone like Mao to have him rot in prison for the term of his natural life would have been a worse punishment than a quick death on the scaffold.

  55. Terje Petersen
    November 30th, 2005 at 21:05 | #56

    Maybe.

    Having the foresight to assasinate the right people is different than having the hindsight to say it should have been done.

  56. Andrew Reynolds
    December 1st, 2005 at 01:35 | #57

    True. And another good reason why the death penalty is pointless.

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