Home > Oz Politics > Howard haters

Howard haters

February 18th, 2008

Throughout the last few years of the Howard government, anyone who criticised the government, or suggested that Howard was not the best person to be Prime Minister of Australia, could be sure of being labelled a “Howard hater”. A quick Google finds this trope being used regularly by Miranda Devine, Paul Sheehan and Gerard Henderson, and being taken up by their numerous blogospheric supporters.

This was always silly. Perhaps there were people motivated to oppose the government because of a personal animus against Howard rather than his actions and policies, but if so I never met any. Of course, people who disliked Howard’s policies tended to dislike Howard, and some people who hated Howard’s policies hated Howard as a result, but using a term like “Howard hater” to explain opposition to the government is like explaining the effects of opium by reference to its dormitive qualities.

The real motive underlying the use of “Howard hater” as a term of attack was the recognition that he and his government never commanded enthusiastic support from most Australians, merely a judgement that they were better than the alternatives on offer. Once this changed with Labor’s (long overdue) choice of Kevin Rudd as leader, the government was doomed.

Tonight’s Four Corners suggests that much the same was true of Howard’s colleagues. While only Costello and a couple of his closest supporters came across as Howard haters, most of the rest showed a notable lack of enthusiasm, and willingness in retrospect, to blame Howard for the government’s defeat. Tony Abbott’s undiminished loyalty just enhanced the contrast with the rest of the crew.

In terms of policy, the most startling revelation was Joe Hockey’s claim that members of the Cabinet voted for WorkChoices, including the abolition of the “no disadvantage” test, and were then shocked (or pretended to be) that people were disadvantaged. This news ought surely to sink resistance to Labor’s reforms, and may indeed have been intended to achieve this purpose.

Categories: Oz Politics Tags:
  1. P
    February 18th, 2008 at 23:16 | #1

    Howard who?

  2. February 18th, 2008 at 23:28 | #2

    … was the recognition that he and his government never commanded enthusiastic support from most Australians, merely a judgement that they were better than the alternatives on offer.

    Care to offer up a few names of past PMs to which this recognition could not also be applied.

  3. SJ
    February 18th, 2008 at 23:39 | #3

    The Federal Libs seem to me to be going through the same process that the NSW Libs did a few years ago.

    Without ever explicitly considering the question “do we ever want to get elected to government again”, they came to the same implicit conclusion. Which was along the lines of:

    No, we don’t. Even if we pray for miracles, and the miracles actually arrive in the form of the utter, utter incompetence and unpopularity of Iemma, we’ll continue to act like irrelevent fools, fighting instead for US right wing values, which nearly everyone in the world, including about 70% of the US population, rejects.

  4. mugwump
    February 19th, 2008 at 01:28 | #4

    JQ, you really do live in a parallel universe. Your lefty commenters like nearly all other commenters on lefty blogs and in the MSM spoke and continue to speak with near universal disdain and rudeness towards John Howard. “Howard Hater” is an entirely appropriate moniker.

    Personally, the left in Australia has led me to a degree of loathing towards my own country, which is a real shame. As a child and youth I had a vision of Australia as a land of self-reliance and enterprise. It has turned into one vast, sclerotic nanny-state. Maybe it was always that way, and I was never aware of it, but regardless, it is not a place I am fond to call home anymore.

  5. cb
    February 19th, 2008 at 02:26 | #5

    Mugwump: nobody is stopping you leaving.

  6. cb
    February 19th, 2008 at 02:30 | #6

    Sorry for the double-post but something else has occurred to me. The idea that Australia was once the land of self-reliance and enterprise is a joke. “Protection all round” since the 19th century; 6 o’clock closing to protect us from the demon drink; the cosy, agrarian socialism so beloved of the Country Party. Australia was a nanny state for generations, supported by the conservative side of politics. It was the ALP Hawke and Keating governments that made us grow up into a more deregulated world.

  7. mugwump
    February 19th, 2008 at 02:39 | #7

    cb:I already left.

    If Australia was always a nanny state then it was just my youthful idealism that led me to believe otherwise. A bit late in life to have the last of one’s childhood delusions shattered, but there ya go.

  8. Tim Dymond
    February 19th, 2008 at 06:34 | #8

    So it was you in the parallel universe all that time mugwump!

  9. wizofaus
    February 19th, 2008 at 06:39 | #9

    How is a “nanny state” incompatible with “self-reliance and enterprise” anyway?
    The “nanny state” bit really only applies to those who are unable to find any work at all, which, sure, may include some who find living off government benefits more satisfying than work, but without said benefits, would just sponge off others in other ways (quite possibly illegally).
    The vast majority of Australians are self-reliant and enterprising. And sensible enough to recognise that their and others’ luck might run out from time to time.

    And to blame this on the “left” is absurd, seeing as Howard (and other Conservative leaders) only increased welfare spending while in office.

  10. February 19th, 2008 at 06:59 | #10

    I thought the media and most on the left were unrelentingly hostile to John Howard or ‘ratty’ as they liked to call him. The reception given to Kevin Rudd has been quite the reverse and equally exaggerated and unrealistic although favourably so.

    I think on thisd occasion you are trying to rewrite history. no-one on the right will forget the years of unrelenting Howard-hating with the constant unproven suggestions he was a crook and a liar.

    BTW note the civility of all the Liberal commentaries on Howard – even from Perter Costello. No Paul Keatings in the Coalition!

  11. aw
    February 19th, 2008 at 07:08 | #11

    I’m surprised. The vast majority of Australians strike me as very self-reliant indeed.

    Bob Hawke was probably the most likeable PM of recent years; Keating was quite arrogant, and Howard had an “opaque” personality — you couldn’t really imagine talking to him in an ordinary way about something important. This was maybe the reason for his colleagues’ discomfort.

    But if you agreed with him in general, it was always possible to see him as Good Old Grandpa. If you disagreed with him, he looked like a snooty bank employee telling you there was something wrong with the form you filled out (hence the venom). There’s no real mystery here.

  12. Enemy Combatant
    February 19th, 2008 at 07:12 | #12

    Here’s Pal Gerry from his increasingly irrelevant smh column today:
    “It’s understandable why those who hated John Howard and/or those who like Rudd welcomed Labor’s victory last November – even if some journalists went somewhat over the top.”

    Dear Mr. Mugwump, please correct me if I’m wrong, but I am given to understand that a mugwump is a predatory creature from the imagination of W.S. Burroughs. The mugwump’s raison d’etre was to feed off others by “sucking the juice right out of their veins”. N’est-ce pas?
    Must say that your nom de blog has extraordinary resonance when aligned with your abovementioned views.
    Perhaps you could console yourself that leftist zealots havn’t got Mr. Howard to kick around any more. Sorry, very sorry as a matter of fact to hear that the great man’s political demise has shattered the last and the greatest of your youthful dreams.
    To compound your grief, “Nine Percent Nelson” is unlikely to offer you much hope going forward. Seems conservative heroes are rather thin on the ground at the moment.

  13. February 19th, 2008 at 07:16 | #13

    wiz, self reliant and enterprising is the last thing that would come to mind in describing oz. back in the 80′s the editor of the ‘sun herald’ compared ozzians and yanks, and summed up with: “we are a nation of huddlers.” in my 30-odd years in oz i have come across many more similar summations.

    this is the natural consequence of isolation and ignorance. air travel and globalization will cure it to some degree, and some changes are already visible. but government is omnipotent and everywhere, and ozzians don’t even imagine they can direct their own society. this caps their concept of enterprise.

  14. aw
    February 19th, 2008 at 07:17 | #14

    I thought the media and most on the left were unrelentingly hostile to John Howard or ‘ratty’ as they liked to call him. The reception given to Kevin Rudd has been quite the reverse and equally exaggerated and unrealistic although favourably so.

    “Sunrise” on Channel 7 is very pro-Rudd but I haven’t noticed much else. There’s the honeymoon factor to remember.

    I think on thisd occasion you are trying to rewrite history. no-one on the right will forget the years of unrelenting Howard-hating with the constant unproven suggestions he was a crook and a liar.

    I thought the GST business was very dodgy. Nothing unproven about that.

    Also, it’s a bit silly to imply that Howard-hating is intrinsically evil and vicious and Rudd-hating intrinsically virtuous and wonderful. “Your supporters are ruder than my supporters!” — “No, YOUR lot are ruder!” etc. Dumb.

  15. aw
    February 19th, 2008 at 07:19 | #15

    wiz, self reliant and enterprising is the last thing that would come to mind in describing oz.

    Depends who your friends and acquaintances are I suppose.

  16. February 19th, 2008 at 07:19 | #16

    With respect to 4 Corners, I think its quite astonishing that they all felt compelled to dump on Howard and by association, themselves when prompted.

    I don’t doubt there were people out there who really did hate Howard, but I also think its true but there were at least as many folks who didn’t really hate the man, but hated the policy myopia and ideological obsession they associated with him. For commentators like the Hendersons and Devines to simply dismiss all people who disliked Howard’s policies as “Howard haters”, is pretty disingenuous.

  17. Spiros
    February 19th, 2008 at 07:40 | #17

    The media were unrelentingly hostile to Howard?

    Let’s see, print media first. Murdoch press (80% of the print media) were unrelentingly supportive until the last minute when some (but only some) jumped onto the Rudd bandwaggon.

    Of the rest, the Sydney Morning Herald ran an eclectic line, the Age was generally hostile (but editorialised for Howard at the 2004 election), the Financial Review was generally pro-Howard, only criticising him for not being free market enough. The West Australian was rabidly pro Howard throughout.

    Electronic media: the ABC was generally hostile, Channel 7 was pro Howard; Channel 9 wavered between pro Howard and neutral (depending on what favours were being done for the Packers by various communications ministers), Channel 10 doesn’t do politics, commercial AM radio was rabidly pro Howard, FM radio doesn’t do politics, Sky News was pro Howard or neutral, SBS may have been hostile but less so than the ABC.

    All up, Harry, it hardly adds up to relentless hostility to Howard; quite the opposite, in fact.

    Mugwump, if you hate Australia so much, and you no longer live here, why do you spend so much time commenting on Australian politics and society?

  18. wizofaus
    February 19th, 2008 at 07:53 | #18

    al, I would accept that Australians are more risk-averse than many Americans. But America is the poster-child of “self-reliance” and “enterprise” – indeed, it’s very much part of their national identity. But there’s no need or reason for Australia to become like America – indeed, lots of reasons I wouldn’t want to see it happen.
    Anyhow, the issue is to what degree that the “left” is somehow to blame for any lack of self-reliance or enterprise on behalf of Australians. A good many Australians are the “left”, and most of them are self-reliant (economically self-sufficent) and enterprising, but accept the value of the universal pooling and sharing of wealth and resources.
    OTOH, political parties of the right have done a very poor job at encouraging Australians to become more self-reliant and enterprising – simultaneously boosting welfare spending, often to those who least need it, while stigmatising those who have a genuine need for state assistance.

  19. mugwump
    February 19th, 2008 at 07:55 | #19

    Enemy Combatant: Howard’s political demise had nothing to do with the shattering of my childhood delusions. They were long gone before him.

    but government is omnipotent and everywhere, and ozzians don’t even imagine they can direct their own society. this caps their concept of enterprise.

    Exactly al loomis.

  20. mugwump
    February 19th, 2008 at 07:57 | #20

    Mugwump, if you hate Australia so much, and you no longer live here, why do you spend so much time commenting on Australian politics and society?

    I guess like all refugees I hope that one day I’ll be able to return home.

  21. snuh
    February 19th, 2008 at 07:59 | #21

    isn’t “howard haters” just the local variant of “bush derangement syndrome”?

    i’d be curious to see which nation’s conservatives were using the respective term first. i’m going to go out on a limb and guess BDS was the original, and HH was just a lazy knock off (notwithstanding howard coming to power 4 years before bush). my only “evidence” for this is my belief that australian conversative commentators are the world’s laziest hacks, incapable of coming up even with original smears.

  22. 2 tanners
    February 19th, 2008 at 08:03 | #22

    Mugwump is still trying to promote the US as the land of free enterprise, non-nanny-statehood, liberty and Coca-cola. 1 out of 4 ain’t bad, I suppose. It is in fact a land of mind-numbing bureaucracy, of government not to the shire, but to the village level (each of those governments a taxing entity) and a place where you can get fined for not mowing the lawn or putting away the garbage bins on rubbish day.

    [rant]

    “Nanny state” as a perjorative is overused. I find it gives me the major irrits when some well meaning zealot decides that my water heater can’t be set to a high temperature because someone might scald themselves, or idiots try to force polcitical correctness in language, in schools and elsewhere (all types of political correctness, BTW – Howard’s history syllabus included).

    That said, there is plenty of room in this country to prosper through hard intelligent work, risk taking and enterprise. And THAT, not the trappings that seem to obsess Mugwump, are what is important.

    [/rant]

  23. Salient Green
    February 19th, 2008 at 08:12 | #23

    The term ‘Howard Haters’ is part of the same delusion which compels the Liberal Party, and it’s rusted on followers, to say that Australia ‘wanted a change, a fresh face’ as a sorry excuse for being thrown out of office, rather than face up to the reality that it was the issues, the policies, which they, and JWH in particular got wrong.

    Australia only installed the little rodent to punish Keating on one issue, interest rates. And the recession, two. The electorate was never very happy under Liberal but Labour just wasn’t quite strong enough to overcome the inertia of incumbency.

    And Howard was a liar, a very convincing Liar, who convinced himself and many other people that he wasn’t a liar.

  24. mugwump
    February 19th, 2008 at 08:12 | #24

    It is not the trappings that bother me either. My local HOA (Home Owners Association) regulates the length of my lawn and if I don’t cut it, they issue me with a violation. Do I care? Of course not: my neighbourhood looks this good precisely because the residents care enough to submit to this kind of oversight. And if the HOA goes feral, I can call them up or run for office myself. Or if I don’t want an HOA, there are plenty of developments around without them. The next level up, the county government, which operates all the schools. Again, very close and hence responsive to the citizenry.

    What bothers me in Australia is the culture of expecting everything to flow from government, not private action. It is like we submit to our government instead of expecting government to submit to us. Al loomis put it really well:

    but government is omnipotent and everywhere, and ozzians don’t even imagine they can direct their own society. this caps their concept of enterprise.

  25. Kymbos
    February 19th, 2008 at 08:14 | #25

    Woah there. After Howard lost, and lost badly, his colleagues came out and said they were never really with him. What a surprise.

    As for Howard Haters or otherwise, what does it matter? Conservatives will call critics ‘Howard Haters’, and the left will call conservatives ‘Howard Huggers’. Labels – so what? It’s just a ride.

    It’s new ideas and policy outcomes that matter, right?

  26. wizofaus
    February 19th, 2008 at 08:14 | #26

    The “left” has its own complaints about the government being a “nanny state” of course:
    its constant efforts to “protect” those that choose to partake in recreational drugs, to “protect” those that cannot get past the idea of marriage being a religious institution solely for the purpose of raising children, to “protect” those who wish to have the choice to end their lives in peace and dignity, to protect energy-intensive industries from the horror of having to reduce pollution, etc. etc.

    Government has always been a nanny state in one way or another.

  27. February 19th, 2008 at 08:56 | #27

    I don’t hate Howard but I do hate the aspects of the nanny state he helped to expand. He was a knee jerk gun control authoritarian. Sometimes he cut taxes but mostly he tinkered. He presided over the expansion of middle class welfare and expanded the reach of high EMTRs. He bloated government spending and the public service. He was not much of a federalist. He failed to privatise the ABC. He joined wars of questionable merit. Shamefully he banned euthanasia in NT and gay marriage in the ACT. He did sell Telstra but Keating would have also. His most redeeming feature was that he was reluctant to worship left wing symbolic cows. Although even axing ATSIC didn’t happen until Latham came out in support. A bit of a mixed bag really.

    Let’s see if Rudd does better. He could start by acknowledging that marriage is a federal matter and move to legalise same sex marriage instead of complicating things with this idea of state based civil union registers. Then he could give us a round of decent tax cuts. He could then signal to the states that gun control was their responsibility not his. He could then surprise us with some more tax cuts. He could then remove the 17% tax on clothing and the 15% tax on cars.

  28. Simmo
    February 19th, 2008 at 09:07 | #28

    @mugwump:
    “I already left.”

    Its a pity for you, then, that much of the world is going the same way as Oz… The Rightist Emporers of the 80s and 90s have no clothes. And we are (hopefully) entering a new era of balanced government.

  29. wizofaus
    February 19th, 2008 at 09:09 | #29

    I’d be all for removing the 15% tax on cars with decent mileage.
    But to reduce the price of all cars now would be folly. Australia is already practically a slave to Saudi Arabia.

  30. observa
    February 19th, 2008 at 09:11 | #30

    ‘I think on this occasion you are trying to rewrite history. no-one on the right will forget the years of unrelenting Howard-hating with the constant unproven suggestions he was a crook and a liar.’

    “I thought the GST business was very dodgy. Nothing unproven about that.”

    That’s the very point you make so succinctly here aw. What you’re saying is any party or politician who changes tack on policy due to changing circumstances AND takes it to the people are liars. It’s nonsensical and blinkered, like saying all Labor supporters are eternal liars because they have ditched past policies like tariffs, Rollback or Medicare Gold, etc. That’s where the irrational Howard hater tag bites, or as John likes to revise it now down to ‘Howard disliker’.

  31. February 19th, 2008 at 09:28 | #31

    To understand why so many people had such a deeply entrenched dislike of Howard, you have to go right back to his role as Treasurer in the Fraser government, when Larry Pickering’s cartoons really captured the popular perception of his as a snivelling little prick.

    Then you have to look at his back-stabbing tussles with other gormless rightwing tossers, like Peacock and Hewson.

    Howard always reminded me of a cretinous little toad in the school playground: he desperately wanted to hang out with the big, tough kids who bullied him, so he sucked up to them and followed them around, whispering in their ears and running errands for them, until they got bored of poking him in the chest and began to tolerate his presence. But Howard took all their worst traits and played them off against one another, until he became the defacto leader of the gang. Then the bullies were forced to line up behind him, or suffer the same ignominy and alienation they had once hoisted on little Johnny.

    Hardly what you would call inspiring leadership for a once-proud nation!

    But then again, perhaps we have never really been a “proud” nation? Perhaps that is just a fantasy based on golden visions of The Old Days? Howard used to love criticising anti-monarchists and others for suffering “cultural cringe”, but in fact there was nobody more cringing in the face of Anglo cultural imperialism. Perhaps Howard represented a certain sad reality for our nation for a certain time (a few years too long, obviously) and perhaps a new generation under Rudd is only just now ready to discover what real pride and independence is all about?

  32. observa
    February 19th, 2008 at 09:30 | #32

    Mind you, none of them seemed to hate Howard much when he was Lazarus with the triple bypass. That all changed pretty quickly when he suddenly morphed into Ming the Merciless.

  33. February 19th, 2008 at 09:41 | #33

    Terje, who are you calling a “mixed bag”?

    He was a knee jerk gun control authoritarian.

    Are you defending our “right” to arm ourselves? Surely if there’s a place for regulation then gun control is it. Perhaps we should deregulate murder as well?

    Sometimes he cut taxes but mostly he tinkered. He presided over the expansion of middle class welfare and expanded the reach of high EMTRs.

    Fair call.

    He failed to privatise the ABC.

    Was there ever a serious suggestion (even from arch-conservatives) that the ABC should be privatised? Are you seriously suggesting that the quality of radio and television would be improved by privatising the ABC? Indeed, would a show such as “Howards End” be produced by a privatised ABC?

    He joined wars of questionable merit. Shamefully he banned euthanasia in NT and gay marriage in the ACT.

    Fair call.

  34. wizofaus
    February 19th, 2008 at 09:49 | #34

    carbonsink, those wanting to privatise the ABC are typically doing so on the argument that it if is providing a service that people want, then people should be voluntarily choosing to pay for it.

    Logically, this is hard to argue with. Unfortunately it ignores peculiarities about the nature of TV broadcasting and the constraints that commercial (for-profit) providers operate under. Once cable-TV becomes the norm, then perhaps there would be a case to be made for funding an independent not-for-profit ABC through cable subscriptions.

  35. observa
    February 19th, 2008 at 09:52 | #35

    Turning for one moment to the adulation of new kid on the block. He’s said sorry but no compo. He’s pulling out of the bad war to stay the course in his 2 remaining good wars. Then there’s that looming inflation so it’s a petrol commissioner and more taxeaters with clipboards in our supermarts, whilst signing on to Kyoto cap and trade carbon taxes coming soon. If the States don’t fix their hospitals he’ll put the red undies and cape on their too. Then there’s some poor but enterprising Indo fishermaen just waiting for the cyclone season to end. My take is, if he manages to last 11 plus years atop all of that, he’ll have acquired a few haters too.

  36. February 19th, 2008 at 09:53 | #36

    4 Corners showed why Peter Costello was never popular with the electorate. His contribution was all about his ambitions.

    Tony Abbott’s loyalty may be admirable but it was and is self-serving. Howard was both a natural conservative ally and support for Tony’s ambitions.

  37. conrad
    February 19th, 2008 at 09:55 | #37

    “As a child and youth I had a vision of Australia as a land of self-reliance and enterprise. It has turned into one vast, sclerotic nanny-state”

    I thought that was the policy of both parties. Also, its odd that you moved to the US — its not the like US is a whole lot better in this respect — its probably worse in some — just look at the amount wasted on miltary spending.

  38. jquiggin
    February 19th, 2008 at 10:01 | #38

    #10 The term “Ratty” was derived from Lib Senator George Brandis, who called Howard “The Rodent”. Seems to prove the point of the post, really.

    #21 Indeed, the way in which “Howard haters” has rebounded on its advocates, most of whom are now eager to dump on him is a warning to users of “Bush derangement syndrome”

  39. Ian Gould
    February 19th, 2008 at 10:11 | #39

    Terje: “Care to offer up a few names of past PMs to which this recognition could not also be applied.”

    Within my onw lifetime: Bob Menzies (until circa 1965), Gough Whitlam (who inspired as much hatred as love and rapidly threw away his initial support); Malcolm Fraser in his first term; Bob Hawke in his first two terms.

    Howard was like Keating, the persuaded by the force of their argument or they destroyed their opponents. Neither man was ever particularly loved by the people who elected them.

    (People who’ve been in a position to know tell me Keating was exceptionally charming and charismatic in person (while being possibly the worst media performer ever) while Howard is a quite exceptionally dull man.)

  40. Ian Gould
    February 19th, 2008 at 10:18 | #40

    Mugwump: Personally, the left in Australia has led me to a degree of loathing towards my own country, which is a real shame. As a child and youth I had a vision of Australia as a land of self-reliance and enterprise. It has turned into one vast, sclerotic nanny-state. Maybe it was always that way, and I was never aware of it, but regardless, it is not a place I am fond to call home anymore.

    I’d say both your visions of Australia were equally unrealistic.

    That vast sclerotic nanny-state has one of the fastest growing economies in the developed world; has taxes around 20% of GDP lower than the Europeans and its citizens work about the longest hours per year in the world.

    That “land of selfreliance and enterprise” featured regulated duopolies in most major industries (banks, airlines, retailing); massive external tariffs to prop up industry; regulated home loan rates… Want me to go on?

  41. Patrick
    February 19th, 2008 at 10:22 | #41

    Check out Gerard’s column in today’s SMH, he’s still at it. I think there is an realisation among the former govt and the right-wing commentariat that history is about to be written and it’s not going to be kind to them. The former govt is going come out looking like an ideas free zone lead by a Nixonian career manipulator and the commentators like a very shallow bunch a malicious pseuds.

  42. snuh
    February 19th, 2008 at 10:29 | #42

    My take is, if he manages to last 11 plus years atop all of that, he’ll have acquired a few haters too.

    yes, but will their criticisms be considered on the merits or will quiggin dismiss them as suffering from irrational Dud Rudd Disease(1). one expects the former, which is kind of the point.

    1. sorry, it’s the best i could come up with.

  43. February 19th, 2008 at 10:41 | #43

    Henderson is just pleading to keep his column at SMH today, like Janet did at Teh Oz a while back.

    After a decade of gross distortion, Australia’s media elites are suddenly calling for “pluralism” and “bipartisanship”. Excuse me while I throw up…

    The government has changed, and as today’s polls show, the electorate has changed too. It’s time our nation’s morally bankrupt editorial teams were changed as well.

    In fact, it’s time the publishers were changed too! How about another look at media ownership laws, Kev?

  44. wizofaus
    February 19th, 2008 at 10:44 | #44

    Well given his recent popularity rating, it might be a while before we see the Rudd Revilers come out in force. For now the stage is with the Rudd Relishers. (Google returns 0 hits on both terms, so I claim sole inventor rights).

  45. February 19th, 2008 at 10:45 | #45

    This thread gets off on a tangent, and is somewhat revealing of the parallel universe occupied by the blog world.

    Howard lost because of WorkChoices. The Your Rights At Work campaign (which operated seperate from the ALP) was the only show in town, and it shifted the votes necessary to change government. This has been acknowledged by Brian Loughnane from the Liberal Party and Tim Gartrell from the ALP. It was also implicit in last night’s Four Corners.

    And why? Because working stiffs like myself (I am a 40 year old dishwasher) saw AWAs as a major threat to our take home pay. We would be working harder for less if Howard was returned. This at a time when we watched the big end of town rapaciously moving through our communities (think of Coles, Woolworths; as well as any of the banks, telcos or insurance companies)

    What WAS revealing, and is alluded to by Mr Quiggin, was Joe Hockey’s revelation that members of cabinet had no idea that my employer could move me onto an AWA that paid me less. We saw this happening time and time again to our friends and family. The fairness test didn’t work, neither did the Office of the Employment Advocate, and there were significant numbers of employers who were none too subtle about my options – sign the AWA or watch my casualised shifts disappear.

    This is the real world for the half of Australia that earns less than thirty-odd thousand a year. That one would go through life choosing between having the phone of the electricity disconnected (a regular reality for Australians) while constantly being berated that “we’ve never had it so good” is galkling to say the least.

    Howard, Keating and Hawke’s policies squeezed us for twenty years – we simply got to the point where we were too desperate to lose any more of what little we had. If Rudd continues in this vein (for example, continuing to support the ridiculously exploitative and incompetent Job Network) then I have no doubt he will not have a second term.

  46. jquiggin
    February 19th, 2008 at 10:57 | #46

    #10 The epithet Ratty was a derivative of Rodent, coined by Lib Senator George Brandis, which rather proves the point of the post.

  47. February 19th, 2008 at 11:52 | #47

    I always presumed “Howard Haters” was an update on “Joh Haters”, a saying which was around years ago.

    There are certainly people who hate John Howard. Quite possibly I lead the pack. Perception could be clouded by optimism, but it seemed that all I saw was snarky personal attacks on John Howard. Many commenters refused to use his name, childishly referring to him as (at best) “ratty”.

    Some of the stuff written about him, considering it is/was meant seriously, should be sufficient to have the author certified.

  48. February 19th, 2008 at 12:40 | #48

    I’ve noticed that people who throw around the term “Howard Haters” tend to do quickly and with force as a way to dismiss any criticism made by someone who, usually politely, disagrees with their, usually conservative, views.

    A case in point is the recent discussion over Terrence Tao’s post about the apology. A person going by the moniker “Not Happy” was very quick to assume that anyone coming out in favour of Rudd’s speech (myself included) was part of the great, conspiratorial Howard Hating left.

  49. wilful
    February 19th, 2008 at 13:04 | #49

    Perfectly happy to be labelled a Howard hater. Worst PM since WW2? Quite possibly. Coasted along doing very little for the economy apart from stuffing up skills and R&D, and buggering up just about every privatisation he proposed (how’s those telstra shares?). No vision, a petty, small-minded and vindictive man.

  50. February 19th, 2008 at 13:23 | #50

    Worst PM since WW2 goes indisputably to the Hon. E.G. Whitlam.

  51. February 19th, 2008 at 14:19 | #51

    steve at the pub Says:
    February 19th, 2008 at 11:52 am

    There are certainly people who hate John Howard. Quite possibly I lead the pack.

    That’s pretty funny , SATP. Who knew you had a sense of humour?

    Or are you just trying to run with the pack (again) like Dennis Shanahan and all the nouveau-Ruddites?

  52. February 19th, 2008 at 14:33 | #52

    Carbonsink – Of course we should have the right to arm ourselves for self defense. And implying that this is akin to legalising murder makes no logical sense. Chainsaws are legal but that does not mean you are allowed to go around cutting people in half. However to enact policy on gun control on the basis of emotive events rather than on the basis of reasoned analysis and seasoned public debate is the real Howard failing. His response in 1996 was the worst kind of knee jerk politics.

  53. BC
    February 19th, 2008 at 14:54 | #53

    In regards to Hockey’s clearly dishonest admission:

    “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” — Upton Sinclair

  54. mugwump
    February 19th, 2008 at 15:28 | #54

    And why? Because working stiffs like myself (I am a 40 year old dishwasher) saw AWAs as a major threat to our take home pay.

    ppd, at the risk of being presumptuous, you’re clearly capable of more than just dishwashing.

    Mark Reid, Howard Hatred was a rite of passage for the vast majority of the Australian left for nearly the entire time he was in power. I got thoroughly fed up with the knee jerk reaction from many of my lefty friends anytime it was suggested that maybe, just maybe, he was doing a reasonable job. Did you read the opinion pages in the Age and the SMH over the last decade?

    Its a pity for you, then, that much of the world is going the same way as Oz… The Rightist Emporers of the 80s and 90s have no clothes. And we are (hopefully) entering a new era of balanced government.

    Simmo, governments will expand forever without pushback from the people. That is why much of the world is going the same way as Oz. As far as the western world is concerned, the only hold-out country is the US. Given that Americans are richer and more optimistic than most (if not all) other western nations, I’d say he Rightist Emperors turned out to be largely right.

  55. The Doctor
    February 19th, 2008 at 15:52 | #55

    As far as the western world is concerned, the only hold-out country is the US. Given that Americans are richer and more optimistic than most (if not all) other western nations

    Mugwump,
    given the USA’s geography and resources that would not be difficult!

  56. wizofaus
    February 19th, 2008 at 16:18 | #56

    Also note Americans have a high GDP/income per capita, but it’s so clumped up the top end that it’s not a particularly meaningful measure of the wealth of Americans. Further, US median household income has been falling since about 2000. It’s currently around 48,000 USD, vs over 54,000 AUD here, which at current the exchange rate is 49,000 USD. So by the most meaningful measure, I’d suggest most Australians are now wealthier than most Americans.

  57. Patrick
    February 19th, 2008 at 16:30 | #57

    @56 “Did you read the opinion pages in the Age and the SMH over the last decade?”

    Yes I did but you obviously didn’t otherwise you’d have noticed the Howard Huggers (at the SMH anyway):
    M. Devine
    G. Henderson
    P. Sheehan
    M. Duffy (perhaps less so)
    With regular help from T. Abbot

  58. Patrick
    February 19th, 2008 at 16:32 | #58

    “Given that Americans are richer and more optimistic than most (if not all) other western nations, I’d say he Rightist Emperors turned out to be largely right.”

    Please don’t let this person back into the country, it’s too dangerous.

  59. February 19th, 2008 at 18:07 | #59

    @ Gandhi, sorry, someone using the same chatname as you “Gandhi” posted something in response to something I posted on another site altogether. That other Gandhi made a most condescending assumption about the mentality of aboriginal people compared to all others. Though it was you. Very sorry.

    So please explain the joke you referred to?

  60. Simmo
    February 19th, 2008 at 18:25 | #60

    @ mugwump
    “Simmo, governments will expand forever without pushback from the people. That is why much of the world is going the same way as Oz. As far as the western world is concerned, the only hold-out country is the US. Given that Americans are richer and more optimistic than most (if not all) other western nations, I’d say he Rightist Emperors turned out to be largely right.”

    Americans more optimistic, richer?? I suppose that depends on which american you ask. The US has the highest poverty rate of all developed countries. The gap between rich and poor has been steadily growing wider. Krugman notes that there is a higher rate of child poverty in 2006 than there was 40 years ago. There is now a large body of evidence to suggest that totally free and unfettered markets do not lead to the most efficient outcomes. Even the IMF has admitted this much in relation to capital flows and financial globalisation. The corporate scandals of the 90s have poured scorn on complete deregulation. Information economists like Stiglitz have highlighted why markets fail – based on information assymetries…

    Furthermore, no one – not even conservative economists (serious ones like Martin Feldstein and Greg Mankiw) believe in supply-side economics, which was always a completely spurious theory.

    There is a middle ground between socialism and US-style capitalism… Fortunately, I think we are getting there…

  61. February 19th, 2008 at 18:45 | #61

    mugwump,

    I’m probably capable of a lot more than dishwashing – I am also secretary of my local cricket club, keep a blog and am active in my community.

    Unfortunately none of these offer any money, and my landlord requires me to pay rent, as does my telco and utility providers. On top of that I am required to eat, and if I wish to have a libation at my local pub, I am required to pay for it. On top of this it is necessary to put fuel in my car, and eventually I will have to pay registration on it. All of those activities cost money. In fact they cost slightly more than I earn, which means I shuffle thedse small amounts of debt around.

    Given that I live in the Blue Mountains, could you either indicate to me what area of employment I should be pursuing that would offer more reward than dishwashing? Certainly there is no sign of any alternative employment available in this community. Although, given your great understanding of the reality of the economic situation in your native land I have no doubt you, along with many others, will suggest what employment is available in the Blue Mountains for 40-something males. After all, the economy is booming, isn’t it? There’s a labour shortage isn’t there? Aren’t employers screaming out for workers?

    What? They’re not? How can this be? What’s that you say? One in five households live on less than $20,000 a year? Is the statistic that says that if you are employed for two hours a fortnight skewing labour market data? Heaven forbid!

    Unfortunately the free market is appalling at allocating talent to where it is best needed – it’s too busy deciding that the smartest men in the room need to be paid more. I live on $18,725 a year. I’m 40 years old. Think about that old son. How’s that for an example of a beneficiary of the economic boom?

    But anyway, what is more important than dishwashing? Would it be acceptable to you to eat of dirty plates? If not, then dishwashing is obviously a vitally important area of the economy. The problem is that it doesn’t pay very much, and that dishwashing is the only job considered suitable for my talents that is available within travelling distance from the only place I can afford on the Newstart Allowance.

    If anyone has some better ideas I’d like to hear them. But I’m sure the good Mr Quiggin doesn’t want his comment threads hijacked by people touting themselves for work. Although, as anyone who has experienced the Job Network knows, it can only do a better job than the appallingly hopeless private sector employment agencies.

  62. February 19th, 2008 at 20:33 | #62

    Carbonsink – Of course we should have the right to arm ourselves for self defense.

    I choose to arm myself with a bazooka then. Where do you draw the line mate?

  63. February 19th, 2008 at 21:31 | #63

    @ Carbonsink, you may choose to arm yourself witha bazooka for self-defence, however I am of the belief that you will soon tire of lugging it around on the off-chance you may be attacked.

    Likewise I have severe doubts about how much use it will be when confronted by a mugger, or even when awoken in your bedroom by an intruder.

    Your bazooka is likewise going to present severe problems if minimisation of collateral damage is an issue for you.

    But go ahead, if a bazooka works for you, fine. I don’t draw a line.

  64. gandhi
    February 19th, 2008 at 22:17 | #64

    SATP,

    you made a comment about some friends being superstitious of having their photo taken, and I (wrongly) assumed that you were talking about Aboriginals. Not that it mattered in the context of that thread. Now please explain how that is “a most condescending assumption about the mentality of aboriginal people compared to all others.”

    Is everything you say just a joke? Facetiousness does not conceal a lack on intellect.

  65. February 19th, 2008 at 22:21 | #65

    Carbonsink,

    A bazooka is fine with me so long as you have a clean criminal record and no know mental issues. The more patriots with bazookas the less we need to spend on a professional standing army the less likely that national “defense” will be used for national “offense”. We have kids in the military playing with such hardware so a sensible fellow like you is hardly a concern. However even if you do draw a line and say that only bolt action rifles are acceptable it is still S-T-U-P-I-D to insist that self defense be a prohibited reason for owning one.

    The ABC ran a lovely documentary the other weekend on tank collectors. Mostly based on the UK and USA but still it looked like a lot of fun. The UK collector had in his collection a little tank on tracks registered for travel on UK roads which means he can drive it anywhere in the EU. When he drove into a service station rather than flee in terror people instead gathered around. It seems that ordinary people are not as reflexivily scared of fire power as aussie legislators.

  66. February 19th, 2008 at 22:32 | #66

    But go ahead, if a bazooka works for you, fine. I don’t draw a line.

    Actually I’m thinking of installing several automated turrets around the house which randomly spray bullets around when something trips the motion sensor.

    Any civilised country would deny me the opportunity to install such devices, but not in the parallel universe that is libertarianism. Oh no, that would be limiting my personal freedoms, eh Terje?

  67. February 19th, 2008 at 23:11 | #67

    Carbonsink, a civilised country (if such a thing can ever be) would never ban anything, as it would be a functioning anarchism. However, you would find other institutions worked their way out to eliminate the problem, say through ostracism, if there actually were any problem; there might actually be none, if you owned everything within the field of fire and did not constitute an attractive nuisance.

  68. Ian Gould
    February 19th, 2008 at 23:12 | #68

    Gandhi,

    Steve has admitted and explained his error and apologised – if not paticularly graciously.

    I understand your anger but I suggest simply moving on.

  69. mugwump
    February 20th, 2008 at 00:39 | #69

    Unfortunately the free market is appalling at allocating talent to where it is best needed – it’s too busy deciding that the smartest men in the room need to be paid more. I live on $18,725 a year. I’m 40 years old. Think about that old son. How’s that for an example of a beneficiary of the economic boom?

    Actually, you are a great example of the way the free market efficiently allocates resources. There are plenty of jobs in Australia for someone with your skills paying vastly more than $18,725 a year, but you’d probably need to move to a remote mine for a while (with application, you’d no doubt quickly find yourself in a management position but even entry level jobs pay 5 times what you are currently making).

    You choose to stay in the Blue Mountains, which is fine, free country and all that. But please don’t whinge about your income: it is not up to the rest of us to support your lifestyle choices.

  70. SJ
    February 20th, 2008 at 00:44 | #70

    gandhi: Forget about SATP.

    He’s some minor functionary working for a brewery, who styles himself as a jet-setting, pub-owning, self-determining hero.

    Don’t waste your time.

  71. mugwump
    February 20th, 2008 at 00:48 | #71

    Simmo, my guess is 80% of Americans are better off than their corresponding Australian counterparts. And the bottom 20% are not much worse off. As for optimism, white Americans of all classes breed like rabbits compared to other western countries. That’s my favourite litmus test of optimism.

    Since you bring up child poverty, you do know that children of poor families in the US get free (top-notch private, not socialized) healthcare, free school lunches, and all manner of other welfare and private charity support?

  72. SJ
    February 20th, 2008 at 00:52 | #72

    And ppd, it’s perfectly acceptable to ignore a**holes like mugwump.

  73. Ian Gould
    February 20th, 2008 at 00:57 | #73

    “Simmo, my guess is 80% of Americans are better off than their corresponding Australian counterparts.”

    On this side ladies and gentlemen we have Mugwump’s guess on THIS side we have statistics on national income; consumption, life expectancy etc.

    Place your bets.

  74. Ian Gould
    February 20th, 2008 at 01:04 | #74

    Birth rates (births per 1,000 persons per year)

    US 14
    NZ 13.7
    Australia 12.4
    France 12.2
    United Kingdom 12

    Of course, by this measure, the most “optimistic” people in the world can be found in such Utopian examplars of free market capitalism as Congo, Liberia and Afghanistan.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_birth_rate

    Faithful viewers of Babylon 5 will, of course, distinguish between my excursion into mere truefact as opposed to Mugwump’s faithful recitation of goodfact.

  75. Ian Gould
    February 20th, 2008 at 01:16 | #75

    “Since you bring up child poverty, you do know that children of poor families in the US get free (top-notch private, not socialized) healthcare, free school lunches, and all manner of other welfare and private charity support?”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_infant_mortality_rate

    This table shows both infant (under one year) and child (under five years) mortality.

    US infant mortality rates may be exaggerated for a number of reasons. for starters, US hospitals save many more premature children than in many other countries and these children tend ot have an elevated mortality rate.

    So let’s look at the 1-5 years mortality rate (derived by deducting the infant mortality rate from the under five mortality rate).

    Cuba 1.4
    New Zealand 1.4
    United States 1.5
    Poland 1.3
    Canada 1.1
    United kingdom 1.2
    Australia 1.2
    France 1

    But remember folks, those American kids died free!

  76. Ian Gould
    February 20th, 2008 at 01:40 | #76

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_Income_in_the_United_States

    The bottom 20% of the US population by population earn less than ca. US$12,500 per annum.

    http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Latestproducts/6523.0Appendix22005-06?opendocument&tabname=Notes&prodno=6523.0&issue=2005-06&num=&view=

    As of 2005, Australian per capita incomes for people in the lowest quintile AVERAGED A$11306 roughly equivalent to $10,200 at current exchange rates.

    The equivalent US figure is somewhere between US$5000 and US$7500.

    But again, the occasional night sleeping rough, a few days without eating here or there or having to sew up your own injuries after a work accident because you don’t have health insurance are a small price for someone else to pay for freedom.

  77. February 20th, 2008 at 01:41 | #77

    Dear John

    I have been away. I’m back and surprised that no one mentioned the knighthood. I will:

    I think we will all be profoundly offended if John Howard gets a knighthood. The honour is ill deserved. John Howard inflicted unbearable suffering on various people, the people of Afghanistan and Iraq, the indigenous people of Australia for whom he cared little, thousands of refugees who he persecuted, Vivian Alvarez Solon, Cornelia Rau, the people he indefinitely detained without trial, those who lost their sanity and were denied treatment, the ‘children overboard’ families who lost loved ones, the many unnamed asylum seekers who were secretly bundled away on planes in the dead of night to meet certain torture and death in their countries of origin. Let us not forget the injustices and cruelty suffered by David Hicks, Mamdouh Habib, Dr Mohamed Haneef and others when it suited John Howard’s manipulative political agenda.

    Please don’t insult us further by knighting John Howard. Tell the British government not to interfere in Australian politics. We worked tirelessly for twelve years to rid ourselves this man from our public life. Don’t air-brush the record of one of our worst Prime Ministers.

    I am not just a “Howard hater” – I hate what he did to this country and the harm he intentionally caused to so many people.

  78. mugwump
    February 20th, 2008 at 01:49 | #78

    SJ, f*ck you.

  79. Ian Gould
    February 20th, 2008 at 01:51 | #79

    To return briefly to birth rates, Mugwump’s “favourite litmus test of optimism”.

    The US figure I quoted earlier is for all ethnicities, the figure for whites, the group he was referring to as “breeding like rabbits” is lower – probably below the aggregate figure for the other developed countries I cited.

    If that is the case, of course, I’m sure Mugwump will attribute it to the massive birth rate of Muslims and other minority groups in the other countries. Tate population boom, of course, means those countries are doomed to a future of tyranny and sharia law.

    Because a high US birth rate is evidence of US superiority and a high French or British birth rate is also evidence of US superiority.

  80. mugwump
    February 20th, 2008 at 01:55 | #80

    Faithful viewers of Babylon 5 will, of course, distinguish between my excursion into mere truefact as opposed to Mugwump’s faithful recitation of goodfact.

    Thanks for supporting my argument: amongst western first-world nations only Iceland and Ireland are ahead of the US in birth rate. Ireland I am guessing for the Catholic aversion to contraception, and Iceland because what else are you going to do to keep warm?

  81. mugwump
    February 20th, 2008 at 02:00 | #81

    But remember folks, those American kids died free!

    And the New Zealand ones did not, even though they’re dying at almost the same rate.

    Since New Zealand and Australia are pretty much indistinguishable from a healthcare perspective, yet Australia’s 1-5 mortality rate is 1.2 while NZ is 1.4, it seems you have not eliminated all the confounding factors Ian.

  82. mugwump
    February 20th, 2008 at 02:03 | #82

    As of 2005, Australian per capita incomes for people in the lowest quintile AVERAGED A$11306 roughly equivalent to $10,200 at current exchange rates.

    The equivalent US figure is somewhere between US$5000 and US$7500.

    That’s a wide range Ian. US$7,500 pa buys you more basic necessities in the US than A$11,306 does in Australia. Does that sum include the value of food stamps?

  83. mugwump
    February 20th, 2008 at 02:05 | #83

    And of course, there are those of us that would rather die on our feet than live on our knees.

  84. Ian Gould
    February 20th, 2008 at 02:06 | #84

    Mugwump: “Thanks for supporting my argument: amongst western first-world nations only Iceland and Ireland are ahead of the US in birth rate. Ireland I am guessing for the Catholic aversion to contraception, and Iceland because what else are you going to do to keep warm?”

    Except your argument was about US whites’ birth rate in particular which is lower than the US average.

  85. Ian Gould
    February 20th, 2008 at 02:14 | #85

    “US$7,500 pa buys you more basic necessities in the US than A$11,306 does in Australia.”

    Not according to any measure of purchasing power parity I’ve ever seen.

    To take the Big Mac index (which is of direct relevance to the poor in both countries), the Australian dollar is still as of mid-2007 undervalued against the US dollar by around 14%.

    So $11436 Australia dollars is roughly equivalent to US$11.700 given the current nominal exchange rate of circa 90 cents.

  86. Ian Gould
    February 20th, 2008 at 02:16 | #86

    “And of course, there are those of us that would rather die on our feet than live on our knees.”

    And if others die on their knees while we live lives of relative luxury so much the better.

  87. Ian Gould
    February 20th, 2008 at 02:18 | #87

    It’s 2.15 AM here.

    I’m off to bed. Tjen’s its up at the crack of dawn to labor eighteen hours in the salt mines of the Union of Australian Socialist Republics.

  88. mugwump
    February 20th, 2008 at 03:01 | #88

    Except your argument was about US whites’ birth rate in particular which is lower than the US average.

    A figure you have yet to quote. So much for truefact.

    Not according to any measure of purchasing power parity I’ve ever seen.

    I reckon I have one of the most accurate US/AUS PPP meters on the planet. I regularly shop for all manner of necessities and luxuries in both countries. We’ve had this debate before, but the lack of competition in Australian groceries makes most stuff a lot more expensive there if you shop like most poor people shop: for discounted and sale items.

    And if others die on their knees while we live lives of relative luxury so much the better.

    Sure, that’s why Americans are far greater private donors to charities than Australians. Because they care so little for their poor.

    Puhlease.

  89. wizofaus
    February 20th, 2008 at 05:25 | #89

    Certainly my recent experience from staying in the U.S. (I’m off there tomorrow for 5 weeks actually) is that groceries costs about the same, dollar for dollar. Actually in LA (and I understand its worse in Seattle), fresh food in is somewhat more expensive.
    Certainly other items such as clothes and electronic goods are cheaper, but overall the official PPP calculation and “Big Mac” index seems to be about right.

    I’ll also say you don’t need to read statistics to know that US has a poverty problem that simply doesn’t exist here: you can see it with your own eyes driving through parts of any of the major cities. Then of course there’s the parts that you’re strongly advised not to drive through without bulletproof glass.

    If that’s the price of freedom, they can keep it.

  90. wizofaus
    February 20th, 2008 at 05:33 | #90

    Terje – watching the ABC? I ashamed. All those non-ABC watchers being forcibly robbed of their 20 cents a day for nothing in return.

  91. mugwump
    February 20th, 2008 at 06:41 | #91

    groceries costs about the same, dollar for dollar

    They don’t, not if you buy on sale. The difference is Australia has an uncompetitive grocery retail duopoly, hence the opportunities for buying stuff on sale are vastly diminished relative to the highly competitive US market. I also would not use California as a point of comparison: they have huge state taxes and an outlook not dissimilar to that of Australia.

    I’ll also say you don’t need to read statistics to know that US has a poverty problem that simply doesn’t exist here: you can see it with your own eyes driving through parts of any of the major cities. Then of course there’s the parts that you’re strongly advised not to drive through without bulletproof glass.

    The violence is largely confined to black ghettos. Similarly impoverished whites are nowhere near as violent.

  92. gandhi
    February 20th, 2008 at 06:42 | #92

    #72 Ian gould,

    SATP’s “explanation” at #61 was just a sly dig. He and I did have a conversation on another thread not long ago, as I mentioned in #66.

    If you cannot explain yourself, satp, an apology will do.

  93. Simmo
    February 20th, 2008 at 06:59 | #93

    @ mugwump

    “Simmo, my guess is 80% of Americans are better off than their corresponding Australian counterparts. And the bottom 20% are not much worse off. As for optimism, white Americans of all classes breed like rabbits compared to other western countries. That’s my favourite litmus test of optimism.

    Since you bring up child poverty, you do know that children of poor families in the US get free (top-notch private, not socialized) healthcare, free school lunches, and all manner of other welfare and private charity support?”

    Unbelievable… I quote Nobel prize winning economists and mugwump throws in anecdotes that no one can check… Rather like Reagan’s “welfare queens”…. that didn’t exist.

  94. February 20th, 2008 at 07:41 | #94

    To mugwump,

    Actually, it is up to you to support my lifestyle choices, as we support yours. This is called a society. My lifestyle choices are surviving. If you do not support my lifestyle choices I will be forced to commit a violence in order to survive. Witness incarceration rates in cultures without adequate income support.

    Regarding the remote mine. As non skilled positions at mining facilities are performed by 457 Visa holders from Asia, what particular job should I be looking at performing, given that I have no heavy vehicle operating licence, construction skills or trade certificate? Perhaps I could be a remote area economist mugwump?

    Wonderful planet you must live on sir.

  95. mugwump
    February 20th, 2008 at 07:47 | #95

    If you do not support my lifestyle choices I will be forced to commit a violence in order to survive.

    In the inimitable words of Dirty Harry: “Go ahead, make my day”.

    Seriously ppd, why are you so special that you shouldn’t have to retrain or relocate to make a decent income?

  96. wizofaus
    February 20th, 2008 at 07:53 | #96

    mugwump, the fact black neighbourhoods are more likely to be poor and violent doesn’t say anything good about America in my book.
    At any rate, there are plenty of poor and violent neighbourhoods where the racial mix is pretty representative of America as a whole.
    Try parts of Detroit, for a start. They’re little better than the conditions seen in most third-world countries. And the condition of New Orleans well over a year since Katrina is utterly shameful for the world’s wealthiest nation.

    Regarding groceries, I certainly agree that Australia would benefit from more supermarket competition. But the size of the market comes into it. I certainly don’t see anything about government policy differences that would explain it.

  97. mugwump
    February 20th, 2008 at 07:54 | #97

    Unbelievable… I quote Nobel prize winning economists and mugwump throws in anecdotes that no one can check

    Sure you can. The health program is called “Medicaid”. And go to greatschools.net for the statistics on how many kids are enrolled in the free lunch program at each school.

    Of course, every Australian is born knowing just how horrible and mean and nasty America is, so really, there’s no need to check these things Simmo. It will be a lot easier for you if you can just continue with your prejudices.

  98. mugwump
    February 20th, 2008 at 08:01 | #98

    I certainly don’t see anything about government policy differences that would explain it.

    Nor do I, necessarily. I was simply observing that PPP is affected by competition, so just comparing a basket of goods at non-sale prices does not tell the full story of how well the poorest quintile lives.

    As for violence and poverty being concentrated in poor black communities: it reflects as badly on the US as the violence and poverty of Aborigines does on Australia.

  99. Simmo
    February 20th, 2008 at 08:43 | #99

    @mugwump

    “Sure you can. The health program is called “Medicaidâ€?. And go to greatschools.net for the statistics on how many kids are enrolled in the free lunch program at each school.”

    A free school lunch equals prosperity??? And what about when they go home??? Besides, i thought you were opposed to any sort govt programs…

    Medicaid is constantly under attack and consequently it has been starved of funds. It is an endangered species, especially under Bush. Krugman states the following in the NY Times (May 2, 2005):

    “…Congress agreed on a budget that cuts funds for Medicaid (and food stamps), even while extending tax cuts on dividends and capital gains. States are cutting back, denying health insurance to hundreds of thousands of people with low incomes. Missouri is poised to eliminate Medicaid completely by 2008. ”

    Additionally, Medicaid is only available to the extremely poor. Middle income Americans must rely on their employers to provide health care. Statistics show, however, that a significant proportion of these people are not covered at all – with private health care simply too expensive.

    I don’t hate America btw… Many good things have come out of there… the way America actually developed is very different to free market mantra that dominated discourse in the 90s. before WWII, it was predominantly isolationist and protectionist (and still is in some industries). Government funded and still funds the most important technological innovations (e.g. the internet, space research). This is very different from the free market rhetoric we constantly heard in the 90s. I’m not arguing for socialism, just a more equitable balance between govt and markets.

  100. February 20th, 2008 at 08:44 | #100

    Wizofaus – probably 80% of the TV that I watch (ie not much) is the ABC. And now that they have documentaries about private collectors of army tanks having a jolly old time being non-PC it is possible that I will increase my dose. Just because the government gives me a product for free and I choose to use it does not mean I want them to do so. If I had shares in BHP and they gave all shareholders a Rollex I’d wear it happily and then vote to sack the board and end the practice.

    Carbonsink – do you want machine guns linked to trip wires all over your house? You seem to live in a strange fantacy land. Maybe we should have a law against cars because Carbonsink might decide to drive one down the footpath mowing over pedestrians. Or perhaps we should ban bricks because Carbonsink might start throwing them off his balcony at passing civilians. Or maybe we should keep bricks and cars legal and simply lock up Carbonsink. Actual I think we should keep cars, bricks and guns legal and also retain the presumption of innocence because surprisingly few people are homocidal maniacs. And those that are are homocidal maniacs are not much bothered by laws against bricks, cars or guns and will always find a means to satisfy their warped motives. Heck they could just obtain an unregistered illegal firearm the way most other murderers do.

    And even if you think guns are nasty horrible evil demon symbols that carry the mark of the devil that does not change the fact that the 1996 initiative took a lot of them out of safe sane hands and put them in criminal hands. And the safe sane hands then got a government rebate and more often than not went out and bought another gun that wasn’t banned. And all because Carbonsink has fantasies about guns on his roof. ;-)

Comment pages
1 2 3889
Comments are closed.