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Weekend reflections

February 9th, 2008

It’s time once again for weekend reflections.Feel free to write at greater length than for a standard comment thread. As always, civilised discussion and no coarse language.

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  1. February 9th, 2008 at 07:08 | #1

    “mccain and to-be-announced” is looking good, but “obama-edwards” has become very long odds. i was surprised when edwards gave up too early to collect enough delegates to buy his way onto the ticket. he has personal problems with his wife’s health, and may have felt that the dem candidacy would be stronger if he left the stage. perhaps he already had a hand-shake with obama.

    i also thought mccain and tba had no chance. i’m less confident now. if tba is huckabee, most republicans will have a reason to support the ticket, and both obama and clinton are attackable.

    i console myself with the notion that either dem candidate is vastly superior, and if by some malign fate the orcs triumph again, why, neither dem candidate is likely to bring the usa to effective response to global warming and resource exhaustion.

    further, the ‘leader’ model of human society has utterly failed to think about population control, unless that’s the underlying reason behind mccain’s ‘endless war’. without a population strategy, ‘greening’ will only prolong and worsen the problem. of i were 18, i’d be really, really angry at our ‘leaders’. well, more like cold contempt, perhaps.

  2. wizofaus
    February 9th, 2008 at 08:14 | #2

    Biggest concern is that Obama on his own won’t be able to attract enough Hispanic voters away from McCain. Best hope is probably Clinton-Obama vs McCain-Huckabee.

    Anyone see this: http://onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=6962 – 75% of Australian poll respondents wanted to see a Democrat win?

    Wonder if similar polls have been done in Europe/Canada/etc.

  3. gerard
    February 9th, 2008 at 09:11 | #3

    The nomination between Clinton and Obama could turn extremely ugly if they go to the Convention tied.

    Remember the DNC had an agreement not to seat Florida and Michigin delegates (these states had changed their primary dates without permission from the big wigs). Obama and Edwards did not contest these states but Clinton did (and obviously won them).

    Now there are murmuring from DNC party HQ (where Clinton is favoured) that the Florida and Michigin delegates might be seated afterall in the event of a tie. A sneaky backflip! In which case Clinton will be absolutely despised by half the party base.

  4. gaddeswarup
    February 9th, 2008 at 09:15 | #4
  5. gordon
    February 9th, 2008 at 10:34 | #5

    The biofuels industry may be shocked to find that its product isn’t so greenhouse-friendly after all, at least not where land clearing is involved to produce the biofuels.

  6. Peter
    February 9th, 2008 at 12:44 | #6

    How come the Australians(mostly of European descent) do not understand why they should apologise to the aborigines ?

    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,23183754-601,00.html

  7. Ikonoclast
    February 9th, 2008 at 16:37 | #7

    It does not matter who wins the US presidency. The US will keep doing what it has done for as long as it is the pre-eminent power. Great powers always oppress.

  8. February 9th, 2008 at 16:47 | #8

    a little insight into human psychology: if you want to treat someone badly, but you are not a total sociopath, you find or create a reason why your victim deserves oppression. once you have done this, it is only necessary to maintain the sense of entitlement by never admitting any virtue in your victim’s cause. then your (presumably modest, even stunted) conscience doesn’t bother you, and you can be a social leader.

    then there’s money: a lot of agrarian fortunes hang on leasehold land. saying ‘sorry’ might lead to this land changing ownership. probably not, in oz, but why take chances?

  9. gordon
    February 9th, 2008 at 17:26 | #9

    Peter, very many Australians have never met an Aboriginal person. But they have read about conditions in outback towns (including the NT) where Aboriginals are reported as behaving, to say the least, badly. Stories of how badly white people behaved to Aboriginal people in the past and in the present are less often told.

    And besides, white people who are “doing it tough” (to use the delightful modern phrase for living in poverty) are suspicious of efforts to spotlight Aboriginal people. Why aren’t all poor people offered an apology – and maybe some special treatment? Isn’t spotlighting Aboriginals just reverse racism?

    Yet many Australians are still conscious that Aboriginal policies of the past have failed – from extermination to enslavement to forced integration to land rights to whatever we have now (I don’t know what exactly we have now, so I won’t try to label it).

    And yet many Australians – perhaps most – are convinced that we can’t go on tolerating the sorts of problems that Aboriginals now have, and are prepared to support new policy initiatives. However the problem of policy development is vastly complicated by the absence of any single Aboriginal political lobby, and by the division of opinion among Aboriginals themselves. In such a situation, any initiative by whites looks like paternalism. In a policy vacuum, problems fester until repressive measures are taken in response to intolerable pressures, and then the repression itself is adopted as the policy. That is the end of considered policy development.

    I don’t know what the solution might be, but I suspect that the process of developing one will have to address the “integration” vs. “separate development” divide. That is a bugbear that lies behind a lot of the flip-flops we have had in Aboriginal policy over many years.

  10. February 9th, 2008 at 17:44 | #10

    Slaughterhouse-Five: the anti-glacier novel

    Kurt Vonnegut, who died last year, finished writing Slaughterhouse-Five in 1968 after a long gestation. It was published in 1969. I hadn’t read it until this week. Its central theme is the fire bombing of Dresden on 13 February 1945. Vonnegut was a prisoner of war in Dresden at the time and saw the devastation firsthand.

    For more visit ‘Labor View from Broome’ by clicking my name.

  11. February 9th, 2008 at 19:20 | #11

    Annoyed to read this week that some employees at the Reserve Bank still have home loans as part of their package at interest rates 50% below the market rate. What a crock.

  12. February 9th, 2008 at 21:13 | #12

    “Peter, very many Australians have never met an Aboriginal person. But they have read about conditions in outback towns (including the NT) where Aboriginals are reported as behaving, to say the least, badly.”

    I suspect there are fairly few who have never met any aborigines. There is a selection bias, though, in that a visitor to an area with an aboriginal population is much more likely to meet those with problems, as the gainfully employed aborigines are hidden away in their offices and stores, and not visible on the street.

  13. Jill Rush
    February 9th, 2008 at 22:19 | #13

    The Citizens Electoral Council, a failed party in the Federal Election has a Larouche inspired bill, to stop the banks gouging innnocent folk especially those on farms. It seems that the greedy banks are sending thousands off their farms every week.

    Described as based on a bill suggested by
    Larouche the protagonist of the CEC spells it LeRouche and is engaged in pushing information on to people contacted by phone with an email follow up. There is mention of a bill but no mention is made as to how the bill can be presented to Parliament.

    Is there a market out there for a strong dose of bank regulation?

  14. February 10th, 2008 at 06:46 | #14

    regulating banks is useless. regulate politicians, now that has potential.

    anarcho-syndicalism never caught on, partly because there was no room in the model for plutocrats and dictators, and partly because discussion was slowed by the length of the name. by the time the zionists came up with ‘kibbutz”, the hour had passed.

    you can regulate pollies, with citizen initiative, but it would require a massive investment in physiotherapist training programs, to remove the ‘l’ in the nations legs. then there would be the unsightly callus pads on the knees to deal with.

    better to merely bow one’s head and take what your masters think you should have. “regulate banks? don’t you worry about that!”

    sing after me: “four legs good! two legs bad!”

  15. philip travers
    February 10th, 2008 at 10:32 | #15

    I think Al Loomis must of escaped working for the PMG some time ago and someone gave him shock treatment to try to remember what PMG stood for.Apart from licking.Commentary here and in yesterdays Australian by Windschuttle,would on first reading suggest that Windschuttle has no sympathy for Aboriginals much at all,whereas I dont think that is the case,and his use of statistics if true about apprentices,suggest how easy the integrative process was.However so far there isnt much about housing transport etc. of a normal kind for Australians then.But why would a productive Aboriginal then or now, not want their tribal ways also,after all there would of been plenty of bush to run naked through at the peak of this apprenticeships number without a sordid rape et!?.And I cannot reconcile how from being apprentice workers till the first spotting of aboriginal housing next to the tip,or on the tip took place,and all the housing problems seen remarkably recently.Something has decultured their smartness,and it couldnt of all been cigs. and booze.I know before Neville Wran did something about it,apprentices were sexually assaulted,and I have met someone who isnt Aboriginal who had this happen.How long these assaults had happened before his intervention would be difficult to trace.That is the sadness I feel about Windschuttle he is in a position to really find out,and he hasnt taken the oppurtunity to do so.Which doesnt make his argument wrong about academics,if it is right,but,to find all the accumulated reasons why Aboriginal hang themselves in Police lock- ups etc. cannot always be racist Police.Even assuming for some wrong doing and grog..its deeper links may ,in fact, be the apprenticeship numbers,and how that spanned into adulthood,and fatherhood etc.Windschuttle may come round to an apology position from a much harder perspective.

  16. Ian Gould
    February 11th, 2008 at 00:14 | #16

    http://www.csiro.au/news/ValuableFuel.html

    CSIRO is claiming a revolutionary, world-changing technological breakthrough in producing biofuels from household waste and wood.

    Too bad:

    a. they’ve labelled it with the appalling name “Furatech”

    b. there are virtually no technical details available.

  17. gordon
    February 11th, 2008 at 09:30 | #17

    Jill Rush: “Is there a market out there for a strong dose of bank regulation?”

    Recently I was discussing the explosion in private-sector overseas debt which followed banking deregulation in the 1980s with a bright young economist of my acquaintance. I discovered that he had no idea of what sorts of regulations were removed or modified at that time. Maybe the first step in discussing bank regulation is to rediscover the regulations that were in place as recently as 1980.

  18. gordon
    February 11th, 2008 at 11:12 | #18

    Thanks, Ian Gould. Let’s hear it for a biofuel initiative that does nothing for US or Australian corn farmers and can be undertaken on a decentralised basis, so not requiring large (and profitable) investments. I applaud the idea on ecological grounds, but I fear political support will be hard to find.

  19. Ian Gould
    February 11th, 2008 at 17:36 | #19

    Terje: Annoyed to read this week that some employees at the Reserve Bank still have home loans as part of their package at interest rates 50% below the market rate. What a crock.

    Yes, how dare the Reserve Bank try and sweet the pot for qualified economists who could make ten times as much in the private sector (literally) and who are generally being asked ot relocate to Canberra on fixed term contracts with no guarantee of permanent employment?

  20. rog
    February 12th, 2008 at 16:08 | #20

    Ian, much of the material to be in the “Furatech” is currently be turned into compost, mulch and potting mix – green waste. Rarely is it used in landfill and the only timed it was burned was under the Carr Govt and in power stations – it complied as a “renewable.”

    Iemma dumped it, no doubt because the cost was prohibitive

    There are problems with bio fuels in particular “bio diesel”, Bowens (Bogas) tried to sell it but proved unpopular with trucks as it plays havoc with fuel lines and filters.

  21. Ian Gould
    February 12th, 2008 at 20:11 | #21

    “There are problems with bio fuels in particular “bio dieselâ€?, Bowens (Bogas) tried to sell it but proved unpopular with trucks as it plays havoc with fuel lines and filters.”

    There are a bunch of different biodiesel manufacturers operating quite happily Rog.

    http://www.biodiesel.org.au/Biodiesel%20Production/biodieselproduction.html

  22. rog
    February 12th, 2008 at 20:35 | #22

    Yes I know Ian, they have had to blend it down with ordinary diesel.

    Biodiesel can adversely affects O Rings, diaphragms, seats, hoses, filters and paintwork, it is not a matter of just switching over from one type of diesel to another.

  23. Ian Gould
    February 12th, 2008 at 20:38 | #23

    Actually I know people who’ve done exactly that with no problems.

  24. SJ
    February 12th, 2008 at 21:23 | #24

    Terje Says: “Annoyed to read this week that some employees at the Reserve Bank still have home loans as part of their package at interest rates 50% below the market rate. What a crock.”

    What a crock indeed. The Fringe Benefits Tax was introduced in 1986 by the Hawke government to tax benefits like this, and it does so quite effectively.

    The Howard government failed to adjust the FBT rates properly in the subsequent years.

    At the moment, for anyone at the Reserve Bank earning less than $150,000, it actually costs them more than if they borrowed elsewhere, and for anyone above $150,000, it costs the same as if they borrowed elsewhere.

    Maybe they keep their loans at the Reserve because it provides better service and lower fees, despite the interest rate being the same (or higher).

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