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Monday Message Board

March 16th, 2009

Its time once again for Monday Message Board. Post comments on any topic. As usual, civilised discussion and no coarse language.

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  1. gthorpe
    March 16th, 2009 at 16:04 | #1

    Australian superannuation requirements distort the market by requiring that funds be invested in particular segments of the financial market. America’s 401(k) has similar provisions.
    If these requirements were removed many people would pay off their housing debt in preference to investing in shares. So the current level of the share-market is still inflated because of the artificial restrictions imposed by superannuation requirements. House prices would be supported by an influx of funds.
    Is it time we considered abolishing this merry-go-round, where people are in housing debt all their lives whilst they have superannuation money that goes into inflating the equities market and paying the finance sector its massive overheads. The efficiency dividend would appear to be huge?.

  2. Smiley
    March 16th, 2009 at 16:55 | #2

    gthorpe,

    One could also argue that the housing market in Australia has been distored by the FHOG. Why is housing any more deserving than any other investment?

  3. Alan
    March 16th, 2009 at 18:05 | #3

    Prof. Q, what is happening at Crooked Timber? No new posts for over a week seems to be more than a random variation.

  4. Michael of Summer Hill
    March 16th, 2009 at 18:16 | #4

    John, today The Washington Post reported excerpts from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) 2007 report that the Bush administration’s treatment of Al Qaeda captives in CIA prisons “constituted torture” and that the United States violated international law which contradicts what Bush said in 2007 that the CIA’s interrogation program complied with the Geneva Conventions.

  5. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    March 16th, 2009 at 18:53 | #5

    I don’t have much time for the UN or it’s Human Rights Committee. However I think Amnesty is right to register concerns that the Northern Territory intervention was racist and remains racist.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/03/16/2517145.htm?section=justin

    The real problem is that our constitution is racist. The power to make different laws for different races is something that should be explicitly prohibited in a decent constitution not actively encouraged.

    If only Amnesty would ditch the leftist mindset and all that anti gun stupidity then I might consider being a regular donor again.

  6. Oldskeptic
    March 16th, 2009 at 18:55 | #6

    Efficiency in super? That’s an oxymorom if I’ve ever heard one.

    I always thought the purpose of super was to take money out of my hand and hand it to a lot of useless drones in the financial industry so they can waste it on nonsense school fees for their dronish children… or did I miss something.

    The holy grail of crony capitalism … a Govt given monopoly, where the full force of the Govt is used to take money out of my hand and pass it to someone else to waste, lose, speculate with, take heaps of commission/fees out of, heads I lose, tails .. well I lose . Wonderful, 50 years after Mussolini got a bullet we got facism (look up the definition).

    Heck they nearly made it impossible, except for the rich, to set up your own fund and, say, buy something as simple as an annuity. “Not competitive” tranlated as … the industry, that whole bloodsucking bunch of leeches, couldn’t make enough money out of me.

    Not socialism, not free market … just facism, with only one loser … us.

    {Memo to self, must buy a pitchfork and some tar and feathers}.

  7. gthorpe
    March 16th, 2009 at 19:25 | #7

    Oldskeptic
    You just manage to express the concept so much better than I ever could. Thanks

  8. Alice
    March 16th, 2009 at 19:25 | #8

    Oldskeptic#6

    You are right. They made it impossible for even small businesses to set up their own selfa managed super when the compliance costs (Accountants costs) outweigh the damn return on the fund every year. Self managed super for only the wealthy.

    Oh and on another note, apparently Keynes advocated – in a relatively little known paper in 1933 – the way to peace and propserity lies in the building of national self sifficiency.

    And wasnt it also Keynes who advocated that IMF “help” to poor nations be funded by a tax on surplus nations, rather than debt funding model?

    They didnt appreciate him then (at Bretton Woods) over that suggestion.

    But as a British Vice Chancellor once said (in the 1970s) to an economic adviser to the UK Treasury…

    “either you are giving them bad advice and they are taking it or you are giving them good advice and they are not taking it. Whichever it is, you must stop.”

  9. Oldskeptic
    March 16th, 2009 at 19:35 | #9

    Ah, Alice the Bancor system, that would have prevented:

    (1) Massive trade imbalances.
    (2) Speculative ‘capital’ movements.
    (3) Hit the illeagel drub/arms/etc trade for six.
    (4) Made foreign wars very, very expensive .. and hard to explain to constuents .. yes you can have bombs or butter … not both.
    (5) Hedge funds involved in currency speculation.
    (6) The Japanese carry trade.

    Etc, etc, etc.

    One of the nice things about the system was that deficit nations would run out of trading currency (plus had to pay an interest charge) and have to reduce spending/increase exports/increase import replacment industries.

    Plus surplus nations would actually start to lose money if it wasn’t spent. And you are right, those lost surpluses would go to a world aid/development agency.

    If only …..

  10. Alice
    March 16th, 2009 at 20:11 | #10

    Oldskeptic # 6 – you get the tar, Ill trap a few of the birdbrains for the feathers…! We dont need pitchforks – after we tar and feather them, we will take the pitchforks away from them!

  11. Smiley
    March 16th, 2009 at 20:22 | #11

    Terje,

    Obviously you’ve never come across a gun nut. The occasional one that I’ve happened upon have had Beavis and Butt-Head personalities with a callous attitude towards human suffering. Keeping people like that away from guns is the best thing that governments and organisations like Amnesty can do.

    And given that our hectic lifestyle is leading to more mental illness, the fewer guns in society the better.

  12. pablo
    March 16th, 2009 at 21:01 | #12

    My modest super, most of it my own self-employed contributions paid into an industry fund has declined 20% in under 18 months. Now I’m being cajoled into re-entering the workforce to make good the ‘short term’ losses, that in the long run I’ll be back on a winner. I think it was Keynes who reminded us of what the long run held for us but Old Sceptic certainly filled in some of the intervening gaps for all us other old sceptics.

  13. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    March 16th, 2009 at 22:04 | #13

    Keeping people like that away from guns is the best thing that governments and organisations like Amnesty can do.

    No doubt. However it isn’t what they do.

  14. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    March 16th, 2009 at 22:07 | #14

    p.s. The tone of debate in Australia says unless they are a government official anybody that has a gun is a nut.

  15. March 16th, 2009 at 22:18 | #15

    Amnesty International opposes gun ownership?

    What next for Amnesty, will they oppose two lumps of sugar in tea?

    How much further can they possibly get from their origins? (Standing up for prisoners of conscience)

  16. Ubiquity
    March 16th, 2009 at 22:55 | #16

    “It isn’t the gun but a person behind the gun that makes it dangerous”. I pointed this out to my eight year old daughter who came home from school yesterday to tell me the teacher said guns are bad.

    It is a never ending, daily battle against peanut brain ideologies they try to instill in young and believing minds.

  17. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    March 16th, 2009 at 23:18 | #17

    My eight year old son told me that in the future climate change would cause the earth to explode. I suggested to him that Venus was a worthy counter example to any such thesis.

  18. Tony G
    March 17th, 2009 at 00:02 | #18

    TerjeP

    “The tone of debate in Australia says unless they are a government official anybody that has a gun is a nut”

    “I pointed this out to my eight year old daughter”

    Maybe someone should of pointed it out to this guys ten year old brother.

    I’m with Smiley on this one.

  19. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    March 17th, 2009 at 07:44 | #19

    TonyG,

    Leaving young kids at home alone with a loaded gun that is readily accessible is negligent and defies common sense. It is a tragic story. However if you value your kids life you are still better off sending your kids to play at a friends house where they have a gun rather than to play at an alternate friends house where they have a swimming pool.

    As a society we have developed an irrational phobia in relation to guns. We attach moral values to guns in a perverse form of personification and large sections of the community go “I hate guns, la la la I can’t hear you” if you try to engage in reasoned discussion.

    Even your contribution above amounts to little more than an emotive appeal and a solidarity pact with Smiley.

    For Amnesty international to side with gun prohibitionist governments on this issue given what Amnesty ought to know about the history of genocide and oppression defies reason. If it takes a position at all Amnesty ought to be in favour of well armed citizens Swiss style.

  20. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    March 17th, 2009 at 07:53 | #20

    p.s. Andrew Leigh stimulated a useful discussion on the number of households in Australia that has a gun.

    http://andrewleigh.com/?p=1428

    Even if we take his figure of one in ten households that is still a lot of kids that aren’t shooting their siblings.

  21. El Mono
    March 17th, 2009 at 09:42 | #21

    After watching the movie “Notorius” about the rapper Nototius B.I.G I think the best multiplier a government could get is if they spend their stimulus packages creating jobs in the Hip Hop industry.

  22. Alice
    March 17th, 2009 at 10:12 | #22

    21# El mono – I can think of a sure fire ratings winner right now. A show for CEOs as contestants..”The Biggest Loser.”

  23. Tony G
    March 17th, 2009 at 10:21 | #23

    Terje;

    Smiley said;

    “Keeping people like that away from guns is the best thing”

    I agree with him, I am not advocating prohibition, but effective controls. Like driving a car, it is a privilege to be entrusted with a gun. People need to demonstrate they are clearly worthy of that privilege before they are allowed to have one.

    You even concede there needs to be adequate gun controls when you say “a loaded gun that is readily accessible is negligent and defies common sense”

    I disagree with your policy that states;

    “widespread gun ownership will make the community safer.”

    IMHO, that policy needs to be modified to be more palatable if you guys want to be focused on success..

  24. smiths
    March 17th, 2009 at 10:21 | #24

    Amnesty ought to be in favour of well armed citizens Swiss style

    i think you’d struggle to find a stupider statement on this board in the last few years

    coupled with your blanket statement on the UN and you have gone well into the nutcase basket as far as i am concerned

    by the way, totally agree with you oldskeptic,

    silvio gessells deteriorating money seems like a good idea worth exploring as well,

  25. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    March 17th, 2009 at 11:46 | #25

    I agree with him, I am not advocating prohibition, but effective controls.

    I wasn’t on Amnestys case for wanting effective controls. I was on their case for wanting prohibition. I’m all for effective controls, it is just that few forms of firearm control are effective and instead they merely punish the innocent and lawful.

    The requirement for a shooters license before you are allowed to own a firearm is not entirely ineffective. Which is why the policy you quote from also says:-

    “Firearm ownership should be subject to possession of a licence. However, all adults over 18 years of age have a right to a licence unless it has been removed because of a history or genuine prospect of coercion.”

    Like driving a car, it is a privilege to be entrusted with a gun. People need to demonstrate they are clearly worthy of that privilege before they are allowed to have one.

    Obviously my philosophical position is different. I’m inclined towards the notion of innocent until proven guilty. Your prefered logic entertains the idea that everybody should be under house arrest until such time as they can demonstrate that they are worthy of freedom. A rather totalitarian outlook.

  26. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    March 17th, 2009 at 11:49 | #26

    p.s. On private land I don’t need a drivers license. However on private land I do need a shooters license. So in fact the process for licensing drivers, who kill vastly more people than shooters, is actually quite a bit more lenient.

  27. David Irving (no relation)
    March 17th, 2009 at 13:27 | #27

    TerjeP -

    The most obvious difference between a car and a gun on private property is this: the car will be stopped, or at least impeded, by the fence whereas a speeding bullet won’t even notice it (and can kill at a distance of at least 1000 m).

    I’m a licensed gun owner, and I completely agree with the gun laws we have in Australia. In fact, I reckon they could be a bit tighter. There really are a lot of dickheads out there.

  28. Charlie Bell
    March 17th, 2009 at 13:51 | #28

    “Your prefered logic entertains the idea that everybody should be under house arrest until such time as they can demonstrate that they are worthy of freedom.”

    I think its generally called “growing up”. You are under house arrest until you earn the right to go out alone, drink, drive, shoot, vote, marry, procreate etc. I think that if you can show competence you can have license to do things. If you never “grow up”, then tough.

  29. Tony G
    March 17th, 2009 at 14:10 | #29

    It is agreed generally in the right hands guns are no problem.

    In the wrong hands though it is the opposite, guns are a big problem. This is due to the inherently destructive characteristics of guns being especially amplified when in the wrong hands. Unfortunately, these ‘destructive characteristics’ infringe on the personal space of others and their liberties.

    A policy advocating that everyone can have a license until they infringe on another’s personal space and liberties, seems to ignore the fact, that projectiles coming from a gun, can travel at between 180 and 1500 meters per second. This speed over those distances gives guns a great capability to infringe into someone else’s personal space. (even in safe hands by accident)

    I am not sure if “my philosophical position is [that] different” to yours. It would depend on how you interpret and implement “removed because of a history or genuine prospect of coercion”.

    You can have no licenses or just hand out licenses, but I do not think either policy will get you any friends. I would imagine the answer is in how you vet licensees.

  30. Donald Oats
    March 17th, 2009 at 16:14 | #30

    Guns have their place. Professionals for whom it is a necessary tool of work, fair enough. Farmers for whom the gun is about the most effective and humane way of dealing with distressed stock, they could argue a case as well.

    But some urban cowboy in a built-up area who is not even a member of a gun club? Nope, they may have rights but so do I – the right not to be shot accidentally or otherwise; and if they want to have the right to possess a firearm under their control then they must accept the responsibility of care that they owe the rest of us. Licensing and some limitation on the number and type of firearms available is hardly an onerous requirement or act of “oppressive totalitarianism.”

    Someone I know has had the unpleasant duty of cleaning up the chaos after dumb-assed acts of lethality. It is no more pleasant than cleaning up after the weekend car crashes.

    In agreement with Tony G et al on this topic.

    PS: Alice Cooper has a song (“Lost in America?” I think) in which one line is “I can’t go to school ’cause I ain’t got a gun.”

  31. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    March 17th, 2009 at 18:05 | #31

    I don’t observe any real disagreement here that people who are irresponsible in the use of firearms or can’t show competence in safe use shouldn’t be licensed. The LDP agrees with that. On this aspect of the issue any disagreement offered seems to be more about details and semantics.

    I don’t agree with the notion that shooters should have to be members of a gun club. Self defense is of itself a sufficient reason for owning a weapon. So long as you are competent in it’s use and there is no evidence that you are a threat to others.

    Most of this is beside the point. My initial comment was about Amnesty International promoting prohibition not licenses. Which was secondary to my praise for Amnesty for remaining critical of racist laws.

    I think its generally called “growing up”. You are under house arrest until you earn the right to go out alone, drink, drive, shoot, vote, marry, procreate etc. I think that if you can show competence you can have license to do things. If you never “grow up”, then tough.

    You want people to require a license before going out alone, drinking, voting, marrying and procreating? Surely you jest. If not then you are in the totalitarian league. You’d be dangereous in a uniform.

  32. Smiley
    March 17th, 2009 at 20:20 | #32

    The biggest problem with licensing of fire arms (as Tony suggested) is the ability of the authorities to give a proper psychological assessment of the applicants. I’ve talked to gun nuts who appear quite normal when discussing most subjects, but when they switch to talking about guns their callousness shines through.

    Actually, Crooks & Liars had a video from the Daily Show a couple of weeks ago showing the CEO of the NRA at the recent CPAC convention, stating that those who own the guns are the ones who make the rules. So the NRA has gone from saying that their guns are to preserve their freedoms, to saying that they are there to enforce their will. Hmmm… so the totalitarian wing of the NRA is exposed.

    Terje I don’t think that Tony was suggesting a license for all those other things. He was just demonstraiting where we apply limits through normal social conventions. Obvously most parents have to let children go at some stage, to make their own mistakes.

  33. nanks
    March 17th, 2009 at 20:28 | #33

    I wonder where Terje lives such that he feels the need for a gun to defend himself. There are places like that in Australia, but not very many.
    I don’t feel the need myself and I’ve even had someone try and shoot me, albeit many years ago. That’s not counting (back in the glorious 70s) the guy behind the bar in contry SA who pulled out his 22 and shoved it in my chest saying “If you go round the back I’ll kill ya – I’ve got the right”. I was a little surprised as I had only walked in to buy a 6 pack of beer. Still, local customs should be respected and, as he was slightly balding, he did have reason to defend himself from someone with long hair. lol

  34. Ubiquity
    March 17th, 2009 at 20:54 | #34

    Following on from my comment @16. My objection was to the way the teacher portrayed “the gun” to my daughter. The teacher used fear as the tool for explaining how the gun should be percieved.

    I personally do not regard fear as useful tool for educating children. I would prefer that my child be educated in the art of using a gun, have regular discussions throughout the course of schooling or at home exploring the moral and ethical principles behind the use of a gun. Eventually if they choose to have a gun at some legal age, undergo an accreditation of some nature that allows them to acquire a gun. This is how a civil society in my view should approach this subject.

    This is least likely scenario in my view, of avoiding the chaos guns do cause in our society.

    Fear, scarcity of information and guns, avoiding the exploration of the real dangers and benefits of guns only creates more problems for our society.

  35. Donald Oats
    March 17th, 2009 at 22:47 | #35

    A bit simplistic, but if hardly anyone has a gun, then hardly anyone needs a gun. On the other hand, if nearly everyone has a gun then everyone needs a gun. My strong preference is for society to hang down around the first strategy rather than switching to the second one. Now if we could sort out the car issue…

  36. Smiley
    March 17th, 2009 at 23:27 | #36

    My apologies, I got comments mixed up. It was Charlie who said that.

  37. El Mono
    March 17th, 2009 at 23:42 | #37

    There is definatly an adverse selection problem with guns. If you want a gun you want power over someone, while we can all understand wanting power over a an intruder in your home why would I assume that only psychopaths would ever want the same power over a cheating wife or asshole boss.

  38. David Irving (no relation)
    March 18th, 2009 at 09:28 | #38

    Terje, anyone who thinks he needs a gun for self-defense is a threat to others, by definition.

    I don’t know how you think you’re going to defend yourself anyway, as, by law, all firearms are required to be kept, unloaded, in a locked gun safe and the ammunition is required, by law, to be kept in a seperate locked cupboard. By the time you get your gun and load it, the magic moment will be long gone.

  39. fred
    March 18th, 2009 at 14:55 | #39

    Anyone remember the cartoonist, from the good ole days, Ron Cobb?
    Brilliant fella and he’s still around I believe.
    Anyway he had a cartoon of 2 men [of course] having a disagreement with resultant fight, with fists, and the result was a blood nose.
    Then in the second half of the cartoon he had the same scenario but added a gun.
    Result?
    Dead person.

  40. melaleuca52
    March 18th, 2009 at 20:28 | #40

    My feeling is that guns are weapons, and only those who need them by reason of profession (police, farmers, professional shooters) or bone fide sportspersons should have access to them. Why anyone should have one because it’s like owning a football or a dunebuggy is beyond me.

  41. Alice
    March 18th, 2009 at 21:08 | #41

    Well, the freer the free market policies become, the more I think I need a gun.

  42. Alice
    March 18th, 2009 at 21:11 | #42

    If they want to take away all the regulations of government over what business can or cant do and they want to privatise government services like (next the police or the army), then I need really a gun.

  43. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    March 18th, 2009 at 21:20 | #43

    I wonder where Terje lives such that he feels the need for a gun to defend himself.

    I don’t feel the need for a gun. It is more than 20 years since I last used a gun. I’ve never owned one and don’t particularily want to. You don’t need to engage in sodomy with men to think sodomy with men should be legal. The same goes for shooting. Personally I’d prefer a good curry.

    A bit simplistic, but if hardly anyone has a gun, then hardly anyone needs a gun. On the other hand, if nearly everyone has a gun then everyone needs a gun. My strong preference is for society to hang down around the first strategy rather than switching to the second one.

    Me too. Still hardly anybody is not the same as nobody. And I don’t think prohibition is a useful way to get there. In fact it is counter productive because now the bad guys have guns and the good guys have handed them in. We have escalating use in the criminal use of firearms in spite of escalating prohibition. More to the point I don’t think we should legislate merely for reasons of asthetic preference.

    Terje, anyone who thinks he needs a gun for self-defense is a threat to others, by definition.

    Now your just inventing stuff on the fly. Although Skepticlawyer makes a good case for gun ownership as a way of reducing witness intimidation. So perhaps in one way you are right.

    http://skepticlawyer.com.au/2008/06/i-wont-testify-im-afraid/

    I don’t know how you think you’re going to defend yourself anyway, as, by law, all firearms are required to be kept, unloaded, in a locked gun safe and the ammunition is required, by law, to be kept in a seperate locked cupboard. By the time you get your gun and load it, the magic moment will be long gone.

    Waiting for the police would take a lot longer. So maybe having police is a waste of time.

  44. Alice
    March 18th, 2009 at 21:26 | #44

    Well, when the day comes that they privatise cops (which wont be long the way NSWLabor is going) I will buy a gun because I wouldnt trust the private cop squad not to save money on petrol and workers comp insurance by not responding to 000 calls. Isnt that the truth?

  45. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    March 18th, 2009 at 23:21 | #45

    Alice – do you trust the public cop squad? Having been in Hyde Park during the 2007 APEC protests when the NSW police willfully detained thousands of innocent people for nearly an hour (when all they wanted to do was to peacefully disperse) I have a diminished respect for the institution. Being surrounded by a wall of armoured cops who are prepared to wack you if you approach their wall and who are unwilling to allow you to leave is mighty intimidating. Most of the crowd that day were not from my side of the ideological divide but what the police did was outrageous. Tragically so given how positive and professional they had been during the main event.

    In many countries where the operation of the police was turned away from the public good and toward private interests the guns were already banned ahead of time. So its a bit late to wait until things get that bad before defending the right of citizens to have guns.

    For police with a different perspective try the following:-

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/217227

  46. Ian Gould
    March 19th, 2009 at 01:21 | #46

    A week or so back I noted that if the share price of Citibank exceeded $3.50, the US government would be showing a profit on that part of its investment in Citibank which was converted into ordinary equity.

    The share price of Citibank at the time was around $1.00. At this precise moment in time, the Citibank share price is at $2.97.

    http://au.finance.yahoo.com/q?s=C

    (It’s the middle of the US trading day so that price is obviously going to change.)

    Having been a pessimistic contrarian before the GFC I now find myself an optimistic contrarian, but even allowing for that, I trust that the Citibank share price will serve as reminder that it is unwise to refer to the total amount of the bail-out as a cost when most of the money takes the form of loans and equity investments.

  47. Donald Oats
    March 19th, 2009 at 03:21 | #47

    One other point to appreciate with firearms is that of the firearm being appropriate for the purpose.

    A rifle for use on the farm is a somewhat different proposition to possessing a semiautomatic large clip pistol in an urban setting. While it is most likely that a rationale may be invented for each and every type of firearm someone may wish to possess, at a practical level some firearms are for the express purpose of killing humans quickly and in quantity.

    Perhaps bragging rights is a good enough justification for accepting the sale of such weapons [sarcasm]. You know the stuff: “I can pop twice the motherf****** with my Extreme-KillALot-950 Assault as you can with your pathetic weapon.” Or whatever it is that makes their day. Boys with Toys.

  48. melaleuca52
    March 19th, 2009 at 14:29 | #48

    I note that most who desire to be armed are not happy with some aspect of our current society/culture. If they are only thinking of themselves, they are going to be unhappy for a long time. If they think that their gripe may be shared by many, they should become involved in the processes that will change society/culture.
    I cannot see how going armed is going to do that.

  49. Alice
    March 19th, 2009 at 14:55 | #49

    45# Terje,

    I would still trust the public police system more than privately provided police. I know there are bad apples (always have been and always will be) but so long as the control processes are in place correctly, they are kept to a minimum.

    What I dont like is when politicians waste the police forces’ time for political posturing (We are going to keep the streets clean or we need effective policing…usually coming into an election) and JH simply used any excuse at all to reel out mass cop displays, dogs and helicopters and raids eg for a small gathering of 50 to 100 protesters.

    I dont think this sort of thing (eg APEC) is the police forces’ fault.

  50. Alice
    March 19th, 2009 at 15:23 | #50

    I meant APEC police overkill.

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