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Weekend reflections

August 6th, 2010

It’s time again for weekend reflections, which makes space for longer than usual comments on any topic. Civilised discussion and no coarse language please.

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  1. Chris Warren
    August 6th, 2010 at 17:26 | #1

    The Get-Up victory cannot be underestimated.

    Capitalists can best dominate the institutions of democracy if they can restrict representation of those who are most likely to suffer under capitalism.

    In the USA and UK, huge difficulties are placed on maintaining your voting rights, and ballots are held during work-time.

    In Australia the Liberals tried to manipulate the electorate, to their own advantage, by abolishing a normal right to register after the issue of writs (until the closing of the rolls). They also attack unions, for their own advantage.

    In this way, our keepers were trying to select who should be allowed to participate. Under democracy it should be the people who should elect our keepers.

    As Bertolt Brecht famously said:

    Would it not be easier
    In that case for the government
    To dissolve the people
    And elect another?

  2. Jill Rush
    August 6th, 2010 at 23:58 | #2

    Totally agree Chris.

    Howver the voting process is not all they are trying to manipulate.

    I received a Contract in the mail from my local member who is desperate to hold onto his job. He has been spending the taxpayers’ money in a quite profligate manner. I have received ten times as much literature from him than from his main opponent. Nevertheless the incumbent has claimed that the challenger is spending ten times the money that he is – a blatant distortion. The incumbent is Liberal

    Anyway it is the plain language version of a Contract that you could drive a truck through. It is coloured purple and gold – very Catholic colours – but also those of royalty. The man who would be King.

    There are 12 points to the plan and 6 slogans. The reader will probably have heard the slogans before because the Liberals work on the idea that the average person is an idiot and can’t understand policy.

    “We will end the waste” – hang on when you were last in government there were hundreds of millions devoted to advertising Workchoices which gave people really bad work conditions. That was laying waste to the people. You have promised a loss of 12,000 jobs. Public debt to keep people in jobs is important to the people in my area.

    “We will pay back the debt”. “We will stop new taxes” (how can you do this when you have a new tax planned to pay for parental leave puzzles me), ” We will help families. ” (I should jolly well hope so. This would be the 6 months paid parental leave and if you have no new taxes and the parental leave requires a tax then will it be Action Contract Item 9 or Action Item 3? How tricky Action Item 3 only mentions not introducing the mining tax.)

    What is wrong with the contract is that there are no penalties for failure to deliver and what is promised in actual delivery is very mediocre or a long way from the stated goal.

    For instance “Action Contract 11 Raise Standards in Education” is a truly worthy goal but the performance measure is set very low on this one.
    1. Working with the states to pay the best teachers more. There are two real obstacles to this plan. The states and the teachers. In some states this is already happening through a fair and transparent system rather than encouraging principles to play favourites.

    2. The other is to increase the Education Tax Rebate by a small amount more than Labour has already introduced – something that the Coalition would never have initiated. No link to how it would actually produce better results for children.

    Action Contract 12 is “Restore Work for the Dole and Mutual Obligation.” This is because ” The Coalition believes that working age people in good health should work – preferably for a wage but, if not, for the dole. The coalition will reverse Labor’s softening of mutual obligation requirements. ”

    Is Work for the Pension allowed under this regime – didn’t the last Coalition Government put up the pension age meaning working age lasts to an older age.

    Action Contract 5 is a doozy. For a Christian man it appears that Mr Abbott is prepared to ensure that any refugees who can be stopped will be turned back – however he omits to say where they will be turned back to or whether he intends to let people drown as happened with the SIEV X. Not only that if a person does make it through they will have a Temporary Protection Visa in a return to the worst of the Howard years. These KPIs could have been workshopped a little longer.

    The parable of the Good Samaritan provides an example to Christians of what is expected of them. That is good people will help those travellers who are in trouble. Bad people will walk by or ignore the problem. How deep is the Christianity of those who profess that faith in the Opposition, who wish to ignore boat refugees even if the boat sinks?.

    What did give me amusement was “Our Action Contract 1″. “Restore the budget surplus within three years and start paying Labor’s debt.” There are no KPIs with this one only supporting statements without any evidence or rationale to support them.

    So it seems that the way that Mr Abbott sees to govern the country, would have been to let it go down the financial gurgler, and to make all of the people work for next to nothing.

    He pretends not to want to do this at the moment as he wishes to be seen as Prime Ministerial. Will he be so worried once he gets the job? The radio tapes of him as a student raise the questions as to whether someone who has held firm and divisive views for 30 plus years will hold back after an election where he has professed to have changed his mind. If the contract is anything to go by then there will be no problem with that as what is written down is rubbish and what is said according to Mr Abbott is not to be believed.

    Some contract that would be.

  3. Donald Oats
    August 7th, 2010 at 01:29 | #3

    When I heard about the proposed high court challenge I donated $100 straight off – and GetUp! had the ruling go in our favour. About 100k people now have the opportunity to ensure that they are correctly enrolled to vote in the coming election. Howard should never have enacted such an unconstitutional piece of totally unnecessary bastardry in the first place.

    It is sad though when it takes privately funded legal ventures to fight for what is the right of the people in the first place! Something just isn’t right when it comes to this.

    Another campaign that I would like to see is AWB. The Cole commission was established with a muzzle, so we didn’t hear the half of it.

  4. paul walter
    August 7th, 2010 at 01:43 | #4

    Good comments, esp Jill Rush.

  5. Alice
    August 7th, 2010 at 09:31 | #5

    @Jill Rush
    Brilliant comment Jill Rush.
    Many of us are completely “over” contracts. I doubt that will prevent an Abbott led government from ensuring we work to even harsher contract terms in our daily lives. These contracts are legally enforceable.

    On the other hand, it appears the Coalitions “contracts” of what they will deliver to us are not only not quantified but also are not legally enforceable.

  6. Alice
    August 7th, 2010 at 09:39 | #6

    @Donald Oats
    Agree Don – the whole AWB affair which was putrid was so carefully buried by the Howard Govt processes wasnt it? Also that nice man from Firepower fuel pill fame.

  7. paul walter
    August 7th, 2010 at 11:11 | #7

    They wont do it Don, if they do the Tories will chuck a bucket of putrid berley over them in return, from whatever dark, obscure material they have ready for just such an occasion.

  8. Alice
    August 7th, 2010 at 11:45 | #8

    Abbott is leading a charge on youth on the dole in todays SMH with his new vision of attacking the “entrenched welfare subculture”!!

    Here is the problem – the unemployment rate for for people aged 15 to 19 looking for work is an amazing 16.9 percent. Three times the national average.

    This is a huge problem. Its a lack of jobs problem. Its an economic problem. The government should be held accountable. Its not a problem arising from an “entrenched welfare subculture.” (blame the unemployed? blame 15 to 19 year olds – those who are just out of school looking for work?). I dont buy it.

    Blame the real culprits. Blame poor economic management and as Labor hasnt been in long – blame those that came before – the Coalition.

    This plan of Abbotts is really about increasing the market share of the poverty industry. Its about ruthlessly trading our kids on “the market” at slave labour rates of $8 an hour whilst every middle man (placement agency) gets a healthy subsidy and takes half of the real rate of $17 along the way and every employer gets a nice tax cut for dealing in very cheap kids (we are all doing you a favour kid – you should be so lucky).

    Its a sham. Its an insult to our youth. Why any young person would vote for the Coalition totally escapes me. The Coalition impoverishes them and loads them to the max with training debts like Tafe fees and Hecs before they even hit 25 years old. They are still costing their parents money because you cant live independently on that. Our venerable public institutions and many private placement agencies are bleeding our kids dry.
    Parents are left paying for this nice sham too.

    Abbotts nightmare vision is really like this…

    http://www.variant.org.uk/pdfs/issue36/welfarerefs.pdf

  9. Donald Oats
    August 7th, 2010 at 12:17 | #9

    @Alice
    Yeah, Alice, I’d forgotten about the magic pill that supposedly made the fuel go a lot further. How on Earth people didn’t pick this for a lame pony, is a mystery only psychologists can solve :-) I guess it was a failure of primary school science curricula, what with all the “biology by miracle” school of thought; it was in Queensland, where the FirePower guy came from, wasn’t it?

    For the benefit of those who are not aware of the Firepower pill and the CEO’s claims about it, this 4 Corners program about sums it up.

    Actually, after reading through that “4 Corners” transcript, I’ve changed my mind. In fact, that transcript betrays a lack of analysis and a surfeit of fluff, with a lot of innuendo but little evidence concerning the truth or falsehood of the claims made about the (fuel pill) product, or any other products of the Firepower company. At no point do the 4 Corners investigators examine the scientific and engineering feasibility of the claim, except by talking with an academic who is (unfortunately of the listener) bound by commercial confidentiality. At least that academic implies that the Firepower products fail to work as advertised, but at no time does he explicitly confirm it. And that academic is about the only one (on the program) with the skills and know-how to assess the Firepower products.

    Another problem is that the claims and counterclaims blur whether they refer to a specific product (the “pill”), or a product range. This makes it practically impossible for the listener to figure out just what is wrong with the product or products; if you can’t match the counter claims and claims to the correct produts there is no way the listener can assess the 4 Corners program’s claims.

    Poor journalism, in my opinion. Lest that seems harsh on Liz Jackson et al, I had a look through some relevant newspaper articles, and I didn’t locate one that went into detail about any given product as to how it (was meant to have) worked and how we know that it didn’t. Surely that most basic of information is available, or could have been commissioned to find out?

  10. Alice
    August 7th, 2010 at 12:43 | #10

    Don – here it is in all its glory..the sad tale of the prior Coalition government in bed with a fraudster and using taxpayers money and public resources to promote and advance him internationally….

    http://www.smh.com.au/business/smoking-out-firepower-kidnap-extortion-and-money-long-gone-20100129-n41d.html

    from here all you want to know about “firepower fuel pills”

    http://dansdata.blogsome.com/category/firepower/

  11. Jim Rose
    August 7th, 2010 at 13:43 | #11

    @Chris Warren
    Your conspiracy is based on a false premise.

    Writs for a general election must be issued within 10 days of dissolution of House of Representatives. The rolls close at 8pm, 3 working days after issue of writs, but new names are not added after 8pm on day of issue of writ.

    Gillard could have ensured that there was more time to enrol if she wanted by delaying the issue of the writ for the new election or delaying the proclamation of the dissolution of parliament for longer after announcing the election date. The UK routinely does this.

    The disenfranchisement was the choice of Gillard. She had the writs issued one minute, one minute, after parliament was dissolved, not ten days later:
    • Announcement of election: Saturday 17 July
    • Prorogation of 42nd Parliament: 4.59 p.m., Monday 19 July
    • Dissolution of House of Representatives: 5 p.m., Monday 19 July
    • Issue of electoral writs: Monday 19 July
    • Close of rolls (if not currently on roll): 8 p.m., Monday 19 July

  12. Chris Warren
    August 7th, 2010 at 18:06 | #12

    @Jim Rose

    I think you will find that that the High Court exposed, John Howards trickery, not Julia Gillards.

    You do not seem to know what a conspiracy is?

    The High Court has yet to publish its judgement, so unless you do a comparison between Howards 2006 Amendment Act, as invalidated by the High Court Decision, you are unable to say what the current law is.

    Anyway the Electoral Commission is busy now telling thousands of excluded voters they are now eligible to vote.

    The Liberals must be fuming.

  13. Chris Warren
    August 7th, 2010 at 18:22 | #13

    Firepower pills are to engines as debt pills are to capitalism.

    Both are quackery?

    The problem is that economic quackery is backed by Nobel prize winners.

  14. Jim Rose
    August 7th, 2010 at 18:44 | #14

    @Chris Warren
    not so.

    The requirement for writs for a general election to be issued within 10 days of dissolution of House of Representatives is a constitutional provision.

    It was fully within gillard’s discretion to let a few a days pass before issuing the writs. the issue of the writs would then close the roll to new names at 8 p.m. the same day.

  15. Alice
    August 7th, 2010 at 19:02 | #15

    @Chris Warren
    Yes Chris – quackery has become the dominant economic policy and some politicians have been seen to devote themselves to pure quackery because the narket (and any market will do – even the market for firepower fuel pills!).

    Do we have a model for the quackery that the liberals and labor at federal level want us to continue to believe about perfect markets?

    What should we call it? Stataquack V 2010 Pro Priv?

  16. Chris Warren
    August 7th, 2010 at 19:03 | #16

    Jim Rose :@Chris Warren not so.
    The requirement for writs for a general election to be issued within 10 days of dissolution of House of Representatives is a constitutional provision.
    It was fully within gillard’s discretion to let a few a days pass before issuing the writs. the issue of the writs would then close the roll to new names at 8 p.m. the same day.

    That has nothing to do with the GetUp High Court challenge, nor any matter I introduced.

    Anyway, where is the power for Gillard to issue writs? presumably this is Governor-General’s power.

  17. Alice
    August 7th, 2010 at 19:06 | #17

    Excuse me. “Narket” at post 15 refers to a hybrid brand new word. The pro markets proponents that really nark me. It may actually be suitable to rename them “narkets”.

  18. Jim Rose
    August 7th, 2010 at 19:10 | #18

    @Chris Warren
    The high court orders relate to invalidating the sub-section denying the right to vote to prisoners while under sentence. The rolls were reopened using this legal device.

    The governor-general issued the writs as well as the proclamation of dissolution on the PM’s advice.

    The issue would not have been worth a court case if Gillard had chosen to delay the issue of the writs

    Can progressives vote for a party that was willing to disenfranchise 100,000 voters?

  19. Jill Rush
    August 7th, 2010 at 23:16 | #19

    Jim Rose #18 – this is only a part of the choice. If the law operated as it was meant to – and I am sure it did – then the issue of the writs quickly was the logical outcome. The Howard law was badly flawed. It is the Howard government that did this in the first place, which is at fault.

    There is no point at all in throwing out a flawed government if the alternative is worse. Abbott looks a lot worse. Can you imagine his reaction if Mark Latham had fronted him this afternoon? It could have easily led to a brawl whereas Julia handled it brilliantly.

    The more I looked at an Action Contract I received from the Liberal Party, the worse it looks. There is in fact no contract at all because whilst it is labeled an action contract the subtitle is a A Strong Plan for Australia. Could it be a breach if the Trade Practices Act to call something a contract when it clearly is not.

    The points inside the alleged contract are contradictory and if I received something similar from a builder I would laugh in his face.

    One of the real problems with the Liberals is that they love contracts.
    Once, a non-profit organisation would receive grants to achieve goals which either they had developed or the government had identified. The Liberals during their last tour of duty made contracts the norm instead. They also introduced cutting red tape. Of course more red tape was introduced than ever before.

    The Liberals unfortunately do not do things well. They would rather receive financial support from foreign owned companies like the tobacco industry and the Liberals will support them while making life hard for ordinary people by artificially keeping wages down through individual contracts for workers. They will let the mining companies making billions out of Australia pay no more tax although the taxpayer is expected to pick up the bill for ports and roads.

    Workers’ contracts only make lives more complex and difficult and are inherently unfair. However we can relax about and the contract that the Liberal Party wishes to make with no-one in particular. That won’t happen with the Action Contract because there is little contract and no action.

  20. Chris Warren
    August 8th, 2010 at 02:25 | #20

    Jim Rose :@Chris Warren The high court orders relate to invalidating the sub-section denying the right to vote to prisoners while under sentence. The rolls were reopened using this legal device.
    The governor-general issued the writs as well as the proclamation of dissolution on the PM’s advice.
    The issue would not have been worth a court case if Gillard had chosen to delay the issue of the writs
    Can progressives vote for a party that was willing to disenfranchise 100,000 voters?

    I do not think that progressives will ever vote for Howard mk2 (Abbott).

  21. djr
    August 8th, 2010 at 05:09 | #21

    Chris Warren :In the USA and UK, huge difficulties are placed on maintaining your voting rights

    Not true of the UK – you get sent a form each autumn with the current electoral register entry printed on it, and just have to confirm that it’s still correct, which you can do by phone, online, or by posting the form back to the local council. If the details have changed, I think you have to post it back. If they don’t hear from you, they follow up the forms in person. (This form is done per household, which is sometimes considered problematic for other reasons.)

    If you miss the annual registration drive, you can fill in a form and be added to the register during the year (though this is a relatively new innovation). The last day to register for the recent election was 20 April, over a week after parliament was dissolved and 16 days before polling day. Also worth noting that the form asks for 16 and 17 year olds to be included so that they are already registered when they turn 18.

    While it’s true to note that elections are traditionally held on a Thursday, remember that polling stations are open from 7 am to 10 pm – that would be a pretty extreme working day! Postal votes are also easy to arrange (download form from internet / obtain from council, sign, post to address given on form).

  22. Chris Warren
    August 8th, 2010 at 07:41 | #22

    @djr

    If the Australian electoral commission ran this same program, large numbers of Australians would be disenfranchised. There is no need for such a process and it distorts the electoral roll according to peoples tolerance of bureaucratic load. Imagine having to respond like this every autumn.

    If you move, how much do you pay to get your mail redirected so you get your form? Or do they send blank forms to all houses for new arrivals?

    Damage to your voting right is also achieved by not making aspects of the process compulsory.

  23. Donald Oats
    August 8th, 2010 at 08:57 | #23

    I am watching the 8am show on Sky News Channel 601 right now, and it really needs to be called “The Australian Newspaper-Sky” channel – they’ve shifted a long way to supporting people of Liberal persuasion. Probing interview questions that have the impact of a feather, no doubt their interviewee Julie Bishop will be crying all the way back home.
    Oh, the brutality.

    What a farce.

  24. Donald Oats
    August 8th, 2010 at 10:22 | #24

    Goodness, after sitting through the Murdoch mockery on Sky, I had to wonder why does Labor let so many go straight through to keeper? You don’t score runs that way.

    For example, Julia Gillard got negative press for being female, childless, unmarried, and an unambiguous atheist. Why should any of this be reported with a negative nuance, rather than just of genuine human interest (the attribute of being female being assumed obvious enough to the public at large :-) )? Labor took an age to answer this nonsense.

    A more recent and apparently hurtful example concerns the sending of representatives to Security meetings with the Brass. Now while there are circumstances where it might be justified to do this, Joe and Joan Public aren’t going to sit around waiting to hear a long-winded explanation. Presumably the same circumstances would have caused some of the previous Liberal government to send representatives to Security meetings at some points in time. Unless the Liberal record on this is exemplary, a whole spectrum of tactical responses are available. A simple retort with some indignation added might be:
    “Well, the previous ministers sent reps without any argument from the media, they did it XXX times and not a squeak from the media about it, then or now. Get real and ask a sensible question or two, will you?”

    Quick and specific responses to neutralise the attempted character assassination while the issue is still on the journalists’ question list is the only way to get the response out to the public. Waiting a week or two and then hoping to weasel word out of it just looked poor form, even if the defence offered might have been reasonable if supplied with some historical facts.

    Finally, who on Earth thought up the bit about the Real Julia stepping up? What a mistake! The sifting through the burnt ruins of this Labor campaign will make a grim task indeed.

  25. Tony Abbott for PM
    August 8th, 2010 at 10:28 | #25

    @Donald Oats

    Liberal voters are probably the only ones who can afford to have Pay-Tv. Labour voters are too busy sucking the country dry on welfare and aren’t concerned about the future of the country.

  26. Jim Rose
    August 8th, 2010 at 11:12 | #26

    @Chris Warren
    Your claim that “In the USA and UK, huge difficulties are placed on maintaining your voting rights, and ballots are held during work-time.” is an even more complicated claim of conspiracy.

    Voter registration is largely a state matter in the USA, with a few federal requirements

    Nine states in the US do not require advance registration, instead allowing voters to register when they arrive at the polls or, in the case of North Dakota, eliminating the registration step altogether.

    You are alleging a vast Democratic and Republican Party conspiracy holding across the congress and 50 states without defections and betrayal and immunity from initiative and referenda.

    Elections in the United States are funded at the local level, often unequally.

    Underfunded election areas can result in long lines at polling places, requiring some voters either to wait hours to cast a ballot or to forgo their right to vote in that election.

    Voters who cannot wait the required amount of time are therefore disenfranchised, while voters in well-funded areas with sufficient voting capacity may face minimal or no waiting time. Delays at polling places are widely regarded as being a greater problem in urban areas.

    Now, whose time has the greatest opportunity cost? The busy middle class with all that money but not enough time to enjoy it or the working class?

    The value of time, including of time wasted in voting queues, rises with income. Postal voting and easy registration is to the advantage of higher income voters.

    as an aside, public choice pioneer gordon tullock did not vote until his mid-60s when he got the option to vote by post in arizona, as I understand it.

  27. TerjeP
    August 8th, 2010 at 11:30 | #27

    Alice – youth unemployment is a price issue. The minimum wage should be abolished and replaced by a taxpayer funded social wage (such as the LDPs proposed negative income tax). A viable alternative might be a employment related tax rebate for businesses that lowered the effective cost of using low skilled labour. For instance the tax free threshold for payroll tax could be coupled to number of full time equivalent workers instead of to the size of the payroll.

  28. Alice
    August 8th, 2010 at 12:20 | #28

    @TerjeP
    Youth unemployment in this country is not a price issue Terje. Not at all – many are working for peanuts. Its a decimation of domestic production here in subservience to globalisation and large companie forms (mining, coal, financial services – alas the GFC has gave FS a king hit not before time).

    Its the loss of our producing and manufacturing industries by those who followed the blind faith of “comparative advantage”. Its the loss of our community shops and retailers in political subservience to Mr Lowy and his “malls” and the large Walmart like chain stores, including but not limited to development consent only for “malls” rather than small community strip shops.

    Has anyone ever done a study on bankruptcies arising from retail mall tenants? Id be interested in seeing the numbers.

    If you think youth unemployment in this country is solely due to the price Terje – you are wrong, very wrong.
    The level of youth unemployment is due to economic mismanagement over successive governments but I can assure you Mr Tony Abbott isnt about to reverse that anytime soon.

    Our children are not Mr Abbotts slaves.

  29. Donald Oats
    August 8th, 2010 at 12:47 | #29

    @Tony Abbott for PM

    BTW, my personal circumstances, as a Labor voter on occasion, might surprise you. For three years I’ve been ill and unable to work (no, no, in neo-con-speak that should read “faking illness and too lazy to work”, what was I thinking), and I’m only just now looking at returning to work if possible. I paid all and every cost of that interlude from work, and I have not sought even a dollar from taxpayers. My family have helped me out, but again at a cost to them, not to the taxpayer. Where private health insurance hasn’t covered something either I have paid full whack or medicare has picked up some of the bill, as it would do for any other person in Australia. I could have applied for low income status to cover costs (in neo-con-speak I should insert “but I get out of bed at the crack of dusk, and the office is always shut by then”) of medication (in neo-con-speak “to get high cheaply”) and to get concession travel to and from Adelaide, but I didn’t. I thought about it a few times but just couldn’t do it (“because I couldn’t be f**k*d!”, neo-con-speak).

    I even missed out on the stimulus grant (in neo-con-speak “coz I never had a tax return in my life”) by a bizarre fluke of circumstances (in neo-con-speak “as we keep changing addresses, every time I shift the probably stolen car”).

    The upshot of all this is that while I definitely fit the profile of a Labor voter, and indeed voted that way in the last election, my recent sucking on the public teat of must have happened in another reality, perhaps a neo-con-reality, Tony? When you get back, I’d enjoy hearing all about your experiences in neo-con-reality, it is always such a blast :-D

    Over to you, Tone’s!

  30. Donald Oats
    August 8th, 2010 at 13:55 | #30

    @Alice

    Thanks Alice; the SMH story (that you linked in your post) is more informative than the 4-Corners program was.

    One of the guys mentioned rings a bell in another context:

    …and Firepower’s chief executive officer was John Finnin, one of Australia’s most senior public servants.

    from the article by Gerard Ryle, on Firepower, for SMH (my use of bold font and ellipsis).

    Google is my friend this time and I’ve highlighted the relevant words:

    “There is a rising demand world-wide for our product,” said Mr Finnin, who met the principals of the infamous Jordanian trucking company Alia when he was an Austrade executive in 2003.

    This quote is courtesy of the article by Michael West, for the Business Section, The Australian.

    Which brings us almost full circle, back to my much earlier comments on this thread about the communication chain from Alia right through DFAT, Austrade, and AWB. So at least one person exists who is known to have a) been convicted of serious offences, b) been in a position of true power, with respect to making connections for the government of the day (ie Howard and Costello neo-con Libs and free Racketeers extraordinaire). Other senior public servants are claimed to have known about the “rumours” of the Finnin offences committed while employed as an Austrade officer, if I understand correctly. I wonder if anyone felt a need to keep this quiet, not so much to let Finnin escape eventual arrest and conviction, but as a piece of personal insurance against their own transgressions, say concerning the Alia kickbacks that AWB personnel were making, which were known to go to the Hussein regime in Iraq – at the time of invasion or thereabouts. An interesting thread to pull on, to see where it goes.

  31. Alice
    August 8th, 2010 at 14:55 | #31

    @Donald Oats
    Ah yes Don – good work. The mysterious Mr John Finnin, a senior executive in Austrade under the prior Coalition government. Yes – it seems not only was Mr Finnin linked to the Firepower scandal but also to the AWB scandal. It is a full circle isnt it – from firepower to AWB and back…

    Lets pull on that thread – I now wonder if the mytserious Mr Finnin had anything at all to do with that part of the private operations of the Reserve Bank – I think its a subsidiary company that actually prints money for other countries LOL (literally).

    It does appear he has certain talents on the international trade scene doesnt it? Yet perhaps Mr Finnin didnt have enough of the irish in him (or RMBs in his pocket) to be able to talk Stern Hu out of jail?

    What I would really like to know is a list of Coalition ministers who actually bought shares in Firepower hoping to make a motz (Im sure at least some did).

  32. Chris Warren
    August 8th, 2010 at 17:50 | #32

    @Jim Rose

    You are wasting your breath. You can have policy and decisions without conspiracy.

    There is no point trying to impute a “complicated conspiracy”.

    Why do we always get these internet nutters going on and on about conspiracy, defections and betrayals?

  33. Chris Warren
    August 8th, 2010 at 17:59 | #33

    @TerjeP

    Are you a troll?

    A minimum wage is the fundamental underpinning of a recently democratised capitalism (having emerged out of slave labour, enclosures, highland clearances, Irish plantations, British riots, and massacres of native peoples).

    If you aim to kill the minimum wage you take society back to these dark ages.

    Anyone half-schooled in political economy will know that the minimum wage is a necessary numaire to value determinations, and the necessary standard for calibrating of market clearing prices.

    No minimum wage – no society.

  34. Alice
    August 8th, 2010 at 18:48 | #34

    @Chris Warren
    Chris – Terje’s response to the “economic problem” that is youth unemployment rates in this country is disappointing to say the least. No its not as Mr Abbot would have us all believe “a culture of entrenched welfare”. 15 to 19 year olds out there looking for a job and having trouble getting one is hardly a culture of “entrenched welfare” now is it? They are barely out of school and are unlikely to be “entrenched” in anything.

    Its these sort of attitudes from the Coalition that are just utterly and completely hopeless. Its attitudes like Terje’s from his liberal democrat perspective that want to castigate youth for “charging too much” for their labour that is even more galling. (Its the price thats the problem). Many of our youth are on apprentice “scams” earning far less than the minimum wage already.

    Yet the placement agencies prosper through government subsidies which amount to a lump sum for each kid placed as well as a weekly amount for each hour the kid works the same as the kid earns. The employer also gets a nice cut for taking on apprentices through the tax system.

    The only ones really making next to no money are the kids themsleves. Its a massive exploitative scam (and it conveniently lowers the unemployment numbers for kids in this age group – so really its worse than we all hear). It came about because John Howard decided to decimate centrelink from providing a public service to assist the unemployed and decided the private sector placement agencies were more worthy of funding.

    Ideologically blinkered.

    Now these agencies hawk kids at slave labour rates and get trailing commissions from it all.

    You think workchoices and cheap labour in this country is done and dusted as Julia so compellingly told us all (and as we all voted for)?

    No its alive and well in one form or another. The Coalition does very little for youth. Gillard didnt get rid of workchoices. She midly and very weakly watered it down.

    Why they think they deserve the youth vote is beyond me. Neither major party deserves it.

  35. Alice
    August 8th, 2010 at 19:10 | #35

    @Donald Oats
    Don – more on the ugly side of Firepower and its grant from Austrade at Australian taxpayers expense under the prior Coalition Govt ($400,000 grant) appears pretty much its only income except for those investors (suckers). The company lost (lost? really? diverted to tax havens is hardly lost) 41 million over three years.
    Some got very rich indeed from this little story.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/12/09/2766931.htm

  36. Jim Rose
    August 8th, 2010 at 19:15 | #36

    @Chris Warren
    Minimum wages have their origins in the progressive era in the USA to protect the established order from the inroads of competition. They applied first to women and children as did maximum hours legislation.

    Leading progressives, including women at the forefront of labour reform, justified exclusionary labour legislation for women on grounds that it would
    (1) Protect the biologically weaker ex from the hazards of market work;
    (2) Protect working women from the temptation of prostitution;
    (3) Protect male heads of household from the economic competition of women; and
    (4) Ensure that women could better carry out their eugenic duties as “mothers of the race.”

    What united these heterogeneous rationales was the reformers’ aim of discouraging women’s labor-force participation.

    Progressives, including Richard Ely, Louis Brandeis, Felix Frankfurter, the Webbs in England etc., were interested not in protecting women but in protecting men and the race. Their goal was to get women back into the home, where they belonged, instead of abandoning their eugenic duties and competing with men for work.

    Unlike today’s progressives, the original progressives understood that minimum wages for women would put women out of work – that was the point and the more unemployment of women the better!

    I suppose that the spawn of eugenics, racisms and sexism could have inadvertently advanced the interests of those they were attempting to keep down. Perhaps the capitalist class makes mistakes in its timeless, unrelenting oppression of the proletariat, but of this order of magnitude?

  37. Alice
    August 8th, 2010 at 19:28 | #37

    @Jim Rose
    Minimum wages were needed then – so why not now JR??.

    Your lame excuse that minimum wages put women out of work doesnt wash with me. If thats the case it would have put youth out of work as well. Rubbish. It just snatches back a bit of profit from those who would otherwise exploit people for every cent they could on any spurious excuse (oh we need lower wages because we arent competitive enough….oh but we need higher management salaries to be competitive….heard it all before).

    Competitive and competition means nothing.

    The only minimum wage the right would be happy with is slave rates and many of us are sick of watching governments pandering to the already highly profitable in business making hay while the middle class and lower class finds it harder.

  38. TerjeP
    August 8th, 2010 at 20:40 | #38

    No minimum wage – no society.

    Chris – are you a troll? Or just plain stupid?

  39. djr
    August 8th, 2010 at 21:07 | #39

    @Chris Warren
    The form sent to every house has blank spaces on it to add new people, so if you’ve moved you just cross off all the old residents on the form that you get at your new house (assuming they didn’t already re-register elsewhere – if they did, you’ll get a blank form) and add yourself.

    Strictly speaking, returning the form is compulsory, but I’m not aware of how rigorously this is enforced. Compulsory voting is a whole separate debate, but I don’t think you can describe not making voting compulsory as placing huge difficulties on maintaining your voting rights.

    Maintaining an up-to-date list of all the eligible electors in a country is inevitably going to involve a certain amount of bureaucracy. I’m not sure that 30 seconds each year to check and return a form (or, if you prefer, enter the code printed on it into a website) is excessive – it’s less time than it takes me to walk to the polling station.

    Any system will inevitably have its flaws, and ours certainly does, but they are not the result of some conspiracy to restrict the people’s right to vote. It’s not innately obvious that failures in the UK system end up disenfranchising more people than failures in the Australian system.

  40. Chris Warren
    August 8th, 2010 at 21:11 | #40

    @TerjeP

    I think I will leave it to you to reflect a bit more on that.

    The answer is clear.

  41. Chris Warren
    August 8th, 2010 at 21:26 | #41

    @djr

    Walking to a polling station does not necessarily entitle a UK registered voter to vote.

    The UK obviously disenfranchised people. In this years general election, swarms of people protested at not being able to vote because of long queues outside closed polling stations.

    It was a fiasco, eg: Voters denied

    And the poor Brits don’t even get the right to vote for all parliamentarians, nor to express preferences.

    The new Coalition in power was based on a promise for a referendum on an Alternative Voting System, but I expect this will be a still birth.

    If it is not “innately obvious” that failures in the UK system end up disenfranchising more people than failures in the Australian system, then this is because it is “blatantly obvious” and blazoned right across the British media.

  42. Jim Rose
    August 8th, 2010 at 22:58 | #42

    @Alice
    Minimum wages do increase youth unemployment as well.

    The progressive era advocates of minimum wages for women only knew exactly what they were doing.

    The monopsony argument presupposes that the degree of monopsony is the same in all industries.

  43. djr
    August 8th, 2010 at 23:30 | #43

    @Chris Warren

    I’m not trying to argue that the UK system is perfect – it’s far from perfect – but to respond to your claim that in the UK “huge difficulties are placed on maintaining your voting rights” in order to allow capitalists to “dominate the institutions of democracy”. Your latest reply seems to come no closer to substantiating this point, but instead brings House of Lords reform and the adoption of AV into the mix! I’ll be voting yes in the AV referendum next year, and would also support an elected upper house, but that’s a whole separate discussion.

    I, too, am opposed to disenfranchising people due to administrative errors and planning cockups. However, in any real-world system, things can go wrong (here, higher than expected turnout in some polling stations, and particularly polling staff being unable to cope with a lot of people arriving to vote in the last hour or two, when it turns out that electoral law didn’t allow people in the queue at 10 pm to vote). That it only affected 1200 people out of 30 million votes cast suggests that it didn’t affect the result of the election, but it’s still a bad thing, and should be fixed as a matter of urgency.

    However, my question wasn’t “do failures in the UK system disenfranchise people?” but rather “what system disenfranchises least people?” Given that you started this thread talking about 100,000 people who just scraped onto the rolls in Australia, I’m still not sure which system has the edge. (Something I don’t want us to adopt is compulsory preference voting – how many votes are declared to be informal due to irrelevant numbering errors?)

  44. Chris Warren
    August 9th, 2010 at 00:24 | #44

    @djr

    It is pretty clear that in the UK, there has been a long history of restricted voting, and the present situation is progeny of this historical tradition.

    The UK voting system does not produce a fairly elected parliament, for a host of reasons. These all constitute a restriction on voting rights, if you interpret that right to be, in effect, a right to determine who is to form government.

    All these impediments, sugar coated as administrative problems, have caused a steady decline in voter turnout, so that in 2010, less than 2/3rds voted, meaning that the majority of votes (50-60%) would be less than a majority of adult citizens.

    At least 1/3 of UK adults did not participate successfully in 2010 election.

    If 2/3rds turn-out of your people is “unexpectedly high”, what was the expectation to begin with?

    I am not aware that 1200 was the number of affected people? What is the evidence for this?

  45. djr
    August 9th, 2010 at 03:49 | #45

    @Chris Warren
    All countries with a long history have a long history of restricted voting – the slow transition from absolute monarchy to modern democracy is a major thread in our history. What voting system would meet your definition of producing a fairly elected parliament? All systems in use anywhere in the world today have their advantages and disadvantages – while there are things I believe that we should adopt from other systems, this is a far step from your original assertion.

    I don’t think that the steady decline in turnout is caused by administrative problems, but due to people disengaging with politics. At least 1/3 of UK adults did not participate in 2010 election. To say that they did not participate implies that they tried to participate but were unsuccessful. I would like to see this trend reversed – but I think that the only way to do this is to recognise and address the real causes of the problem.

    The 1200 figure comes from the Electoral Commission’s interim report on the problems
    http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/99091/Interim-Report-Polling-Station-Queues-complete.pdf
    In their report they call for an urgent change in the law to allow anyone in the queue at 10 pm to vote, as well as better planning at future elections.

    The problems weren’t due to the turnout nationally, but due unexpectedly high turnout (often in the final hour or two of voting) at particular polling stations combined with poor planning by those responsible for running those particular polling stations. I’m not sure whether these were areas where turnout was particularly high (though one of the worst areas was Nick Clegg’s constituency) or where turnout had historically been particularly low.

  46. djr
    August 9th, 2010 at 03:53 | #46

    Lost a word which makes my last post more cryptic than I intended:
    At least 1/3 of UK adults did not participate in 2010 election. To say that they did not participate successfully implies that they tried to participate but were unsuccessful.

  47. Chris Warren
    August 9th, 2010 at 05:15 | #47

    So it appears the 1200 is a minimum figure issued before all the data was collected.

    Disengagement is not really the issue, as democracy requires electoral participation by the engaged and disengaged. You do not obtain a responsible government if their mandate is based on less than 50% of the adult population. Electoral processes are just as vital to a democracy as are the public financing and justice systems. Society does not let people become “disengaged” from the taxation system or from legal obligations. Elections underpin everything else. If elections are not representative then resulting taxation and legal systems will steadily lose their representativeness.

    The first requirement for a democratic electoral system is that it must elect all members of parliament (by secret ballot), and everyone has a equal right and duty to participate.

    Beyond that any number of different schemes can emerge, and other issues are relatively minor compared to this root requirement. Pointing at vague .advantages and disadvantages of democracies that have met this requirment does not excuse the biassed and faulty systems in the UK and USA.

    The British system is not a modern democracy. It is not even a decent welfare state and the first lot of public expenditure cuts now being mooted appear targeted at precisely those who are most at risk of becoming “disengaged” from politics – users of public libraries, schools, transport, housing and health services and pensioners.

    Whitehall ministers will hardly notice their minor cut of 5% gross (say 3% after tax), and loss of first class rail travel.

    Probably because sections of the population are disengaged, the UK minimum wage is $A 10 per hour when in Australia it is $A15 – 50% more. Many UK pensions are not CPI indexed and over time pensioners face poverty. If the voting system was fairer, workers would get a better response in public policy.

    In fact the UK is a broken, overpopulated, capitalist society and is soon to have a massive hike in their GST from 17% to 20% (double Australia).

    Clearly the wrong interests are at the helm of Whitehall.

  48. djr
    August 9th, 2010 at 07:04 | #48

    @Chris Warren
    I don’t think your definition of a democracy is very helpful. According to Wikipedia there are 14 countries in the world where voting is compulsory and enforced, not all of which would generally be considered to be stable, mature democracies. I have no strong objection to compulsory voting, but I think there are more urgent political goals that one could devote effort to.

    I think disengagement is the key issue, and I think you have it the wrong way round – cuts are likely to be targeted at groups who don’t vote. A similar example from the recent past is university tuition fees, which keep increasing while the 18-25 age group is the least likely to vote.

    Disenfranchised voters in May: even if the number turns out to be twice as big as in the interim report, it’s still both tiny and unacceptably large.

    The minimum wage would be over A$15 if the exchange rate was still what it was the last time I was in Australia! Even the rate from 3 years ago would make it A$14.

  49. Chris Warren
    August 9th, 2010 at 09:03 | #49

    @djr

    Compulsory voting is a misnomer. Registration is compulsory, and getting you name crossed-off the roll is compulsory. What you write on your ballot paper, if anything does not have to be a vote.

    Your examples of attacks falling on those who do not vote is not a good advertisement for the UK or US systems.

    If voting was on a weekend and properly resourced, voter lockouts would disappear.

    Who cares what the exchange rate was 3 years ago. Minimum wages rates were also different. How can anyone in the UK live on GBP1,000 per month when rent for a 1 bed flat is around 750 per month? plus council tax, plus utilities, plus transport, plus food?

    But the real details of the UK austerity cuts will only become known in 2011 budget. The present 6 billion is irrelevant tokenism compared to the looming 150+ billion deficit. The British banks, profit this year, would equal 6 billion.

    But the banks are protected and fether-bedded by, in the final analysis, a corrupt voting system.

  50. Chris Warren
    August 9th, 2010 at 09:09 | #50

    This is where real cuts need to be made.

    One capitalist bank, made GBP 10 billion in 2010.

    10 billion .

    Meanwhile British society at large is being traumatised by budget cuts of 6 billion.

    Something stinks in the land of Windsor.

  51. Alice
    August 9th, 2010 at 09:12 | #51

    @Chris Warren
    Its not just in the land of Windsor where it stinks Chris. You know these nice cute little small businesses that were supposed to be the wonder of free markets and competition (as the neo cons and liberalists would have us believe) have morphed into big ugly bloodsucking leeches.

  52. Johng
    August 9th, 2010 at 09:18 | #52

    On another topic. What does anyone think the Coalition will do if they win and are told that the Debt and Deficit isn’t as bad as they’ve been saying? Will they shut up about and continue cutting things so as to have something in the bank in case we do have a double-dip. Or, will they spend it and just take all the credit?

  53. paul walter
    August 9th, 2010 at 09:45 | #53

    No, Johng, they are ideologically, even miltantly neolib. Even if the Australian economy was perfect, rather than merely one of the few examples of a functioning nation and economy in our troubled world, they would still come down on spending, for philosophical reasons.
    Some at this site, quite frankly will tell you they are against taxation, seeing it as a form of theft, which is the diametric opposite of the leftist critique, as to theft, which has it that the rich and powerful are the thieves, rather than the un-self reliant fritterers of the lower classes and undeserving welfare recipients.
    Make no mistake, they are elitist in the real sense, consolingthemselves with the idea that only they, could possibly know what’s “best”.

  54. Alice
    August 9th, 2010 at 10:28 | #54

    @paul walter
    Paul – the Coalition doesnt cut expenditure on miisterial travel, ministerial perks, limousines, electoral allowances, their own personal salaries and superannuation entitlements, hairdressers, make up artists, and goodness knows what else. They only cut public expenditure on benefits for the Australian people. They prefer cutting spending on the poor especially if that means desperation makes people wages cheaper.

    Yes they are elitist. Obnoxiously so but is Labor really any better?

  55. paul walter
    August 9th, 2010 at 10:40 | #55

    Labor, or at least its right, are more opportunist scroungers than born to rule. Its precisly their bucolic clumsiness as to venality that brings them down, again and again.

  56. paul walter
    August 9th, 2010 at 10:46 | #56

    That’s why they have been so slow to dismantle the Howard apparatus, they’d actually like to inherit it and turn the country into a sort of giant NSW, Tassie or QLD.
    and that s why the People are considering even some thing as arid and harsh as Abbott neoliberalism, because they anticipate full-well from the example of people like Iemma and Bligh, what to expect in the way of eco rationalist stabs in the back, post election.

  57. Jim Rose
    August 9th, 2010 at 10:53 | #57

    @Alice
    with all these flaws, it makes you wonder why the libs are neck and neck in the polls with the ALP.

    8 months ago, when abbott became opposition leader by 1 vote, the libs prospects were hopeless.

    obviously, he is doing something that chimes with the voters.

    rather than deploring what the libs say, explore counters that work for people that do not already agree with you, and might vote for the Libs, but could swing back.

    listen here dummy, listen here red-neck dummy, is no way to win votes. who votes for a party who just insulted them?

  58. TerjeP
    August 9th, 2010 at 10:56 | #58

    Chris Warren :
    @TerjeP
    I think I will leave it to you to reflect a bit more on that.
    The answer is clear.

    I suggested that you may be stupid. On reflection things are clearer. You’re just plain ignorant. Hong Kong society and Swedish society are according to you just fairy tales.

  59. Alice
    August 9th, 2010 at 11:20 | #59

    @Jim Rose
    We will see Jim Rose soon. I notice Abbott is on the front page of the SMH peddling a flat tax rate for everyone who earns between 25K and 180K a year.

    Now I wonder how someone on 30K is going to feel about that?

    Any redistribution in that? Oh no – none at all. Except of course if you earn under 25K you get to keep it all. Imagine the people who will be doing anything they can to lower their incomes from 30K to 25K? Imagine all the top income earners laughing all the way to the investment firms. Oh and the fiscal austerity and lack of public spending promises no vision for the future or our infrastructure to me.

    Just a miserly regime who wont build the snowy mountains scheme who wont build roads and who wont invest in this country. Abbott will prove to be meaner than John Howard.

  60. Johng
    August 9th, 2010 at 12:00 | #60

    Alice, that is actually one of the ideas from the Henry Tax Review see Peter Martin’s Blog and the latest is that Abbott seems to have pulled back from it a bit. For whatever reason Abbott seems to be more inclined to take on some of the Henry stuff than Labor. Maybe, having got into so much trouble trying to a little reform just before an election they’ll wait till early next time, if they win.

  61. Jim Rose
    August 9th, 2010 at 12:08 | #61

    @Alice
    who wins from specific policies matters less because most voting is expressive. I am going to first preference the greens as a protest is an example.

    Expressive voting is the desire most have to express themselves in support of things they approve of, and in opposition of what they disapprove of and make statements about ourselves and what we belong to. Voting is much like sending a get-well card, or cheering for the home team, or booing the visiting team. We send the card and cheer primarily because of the expressive satisfaction it provides to us.

    Howard stayed in office for 11 years so you should hope Abbott is different from Howard, rather than Howard true blue and with the benefit of hindsight.

  62. Alice
    August 9th, 2010 at 12:11 | #62

    @Johng
    I am sure if Abbott gets in there will be a lot of “reforms” he isnt discussing right here and now in this election campaign. In fact the Coalition specialises in “reforms”. Im just wondering when, if ever, we actually get to the place where we are all fully reformed (or does that only happen in prison?).
    Im really hoping the senate will hung even if he does get in so that at least he cant push through more of the same odious neo lib legislation Howard did while he had the senate numbers. Id like to see some real debate happening.

  63. Alice
    August 9th, 2010 at 12:20 | #63

    @Jim Rose
    Im just going to plain out vote Green JR except its no protest vote.

    The Greens happen to have policies I think this country needs (investment in public transport for one). I dont hear much that interests me from either of the two majors and they look and act like B1 and B2. I cant tell the difference. They both waffle on about surpluses now when we have a downturn. Neither is addressing unemployment. Both are playing the boatpeople lie (when far far more come through the airport), both subscribe to neoliberalism, both get too scared to get a share back from the miners, neither is talking closing high earner tax loopholes, neither is talking toughening up competition laws to stop the creeping monopolisation of some big industries in this country, and neither is talking investment in public infrastructures (thats p…u…b…l…i…c. Its not a dirty word).

  64. Jim Rose
    August 9th, 2010 at 12:58 | #64

    @Alice
    you say that “They both waffle on about surpluses now when we have a downturn”

    The australian greens say “government finances must be sustainable over the long run; budget deficits and surpluses must balance each other over the business cycle.”

    Robert Lucas advocates the same optimal fiscal policy as does Robert Barro.

  65. Fran Barlow
    August 9th, 2010 at 16:24 | #65

    I was watching Michael Clayton (the movie) on Channel 9 the other night and it struck me that the evil corporate lawyer played by Tilda Swinton looked a lot like Julia Gillard.

    Coincidence? Almost certainly, but spooky all the same. Check out the film clip at the link above.

  66. Chris Warren
    August 9th, 2010 at 17:10 | #66

    @TerjeP

    This makes no sense. I have never mentioned Hong Kong or Sweden. Generally those who attach tags such as “fairy tales” are usually the guilty ones.

    They rant against the world trying to relieve their own misunderstood angst.

    Hong Kong was a capitalist hell-hole with minimum wages less than $A5 an hour.

    However, the situation is improving slowly. See:

    | Anarco-capos gone |

    Like Australia Hong Kong faces bankruptcy with external debt over 220% of GDP.

    See | Capo bankruptcy |

    Australia is almost bankrupt with over 120% of GDP as debt. See: |Australian capo bankruptcy |

    So the facts speak for themselves.

    But the real problem is not the level of debt so much, as the underlying trend to continuously increase it over time. This is needed to cover-up the root contradiction of capitalism.

  67. Chris Warren
    August 9th, 2010 at 17:51 | #67

    Maybe this link will work?

    Aust. Capo Bankruptcy

  68. Jim Rose
    August 9th, 2010 at 17:58 | #68

    @Chris Warren
    Hong Kong was a capitalist hell-hole?

    At the end of World War II, Hong Kong was a dirt-poor island with a per-capita income about one-quarter that of Britain’s.

    By 1997, when sovereignty was transferred to China, its per-capita income was roughly equal to that of the departing colonial power. do you have any explantion for that?

    the population was 600,000 in 1947 and is now 7 million.

  69. Chris Warren
    August 9th, 2010 at 18:07 | #69

    @Jim Rose

    I am not sure why you think 1997 is particularly relevant, but anyway, what was the minimum wage and standard working week in Hong Kong in 1997?

  70. TerjeP
    August 9th, 2010 at 19:09 | #70

    The minimum wage in Hong Kong prior to 2010 was zero dollars. Which is also the current minimum wage in Sweden.

  71. August 9th, 2010 at 19:39 | #71

    Dear me, Chris. I hope you are treating your comment about bankruptcy potential as a joke. Just in case you actually believe it, here are the two main problems with the analysis:
    1. The measure used there is gross external debt to GDP, not net. This means that (for example) if you (personally) borrow a million dollars on an income of $1m, but have $200m in assets, then that would be counted as having a debt to GDP ratio of 100% – worse than the US’s. That does not make you even close to bankrupt.
    2. The CNBC numbers involve no discrimination between government and private sector debt. In Australia, for example, the level of government debt is very low. There may be a danger that some Australians will go bankrupt, but this does not mean that the Australian government faces any problems in paying off its debt.
    This analysis seems to have been intended to make the people of the US a little more sanguine about their economic problems. I am glad (if you intended it as a joke) that you have not been sucked into that one.

  72. Jim Rose
    August 9th, 2010 at 20:09 | #72

    @TerjeP
    excellent post.

    a small group of old EU countries that do not have a statutory minimum wage comprises Austria, Germany, Italy and the Scandinavian countries. capitalist hell-holes all.

    A common feature of this group of countries is the high coverage rate of collectively agreed minimum wages, generally laid down in sectoral agreements.

    The percentage of employees covered by collectively agreed minimum wages ranges from approximately 70% in Germany and Norway to almost 100% in Austria and Italy (though excluding irregular workers, who make up a relatively large share of the Italian labour market). Italy has a huge underground economy.

    In Denmark, the percentage of employees covered by collectively agreed wages is estimated at between 81% and 90%, while in Finland and Sweden, this figure is 90%.

    Sweden is a capitalist hell-hole that every true blue social democrat must denounce without reservation. Their so called left-wing parties as traitors to the working class and to the least powerful of all workers – the low-paid and unskilled.

    the EU poor should not have to rely on scraps from the tables of middle-class unions. they have been deserted by their so called social democratic governments.

    Whether the low-paid and low-skilled get a fair consideration from unions in collective bargaining given these unions, if democratic, will be driven by majority rule – by the median voter/union member who is older, senior and of high job tenure – is a question worth exploring.

    the evidence is not good in the finnish depression in the early 1990s where unions refused nominal wage cuts despite 20% unemployment – the worst since the 1930s.

    most European labour markets are dual labour markets. unions and so called employment protection ensure that they are made up of two-tier systems with ultra-secure permanent workers and vulnerable temporary workers – increasing unemployment in the downturn.

  73. Chris Warren
    August 9th, 2010 at 20:25 | #73

    @Andrew Reynolds

    You missed the point. As I specifically said:

    But the real problem is not the level of debt so much, as the underlying trend to continuously increase it over time. This is needed to cover-up the root contradiction of capitalism.

    This general increase in all forms of debt (public, private, consumer whatever) has been occurring since 1900 (where data exists).

  74. Chris Warren
    August 9th, 2010 at 20:28 | #74

    TerjeP :The minimum wage in Hong Kong prior to 2010 was zero dollars. Which is also the current minimum wage in Sweden.

    This is unlikely. It is not possible to live on “zero dollars”.

  75. Chris Warren
    August 9th, 2010 at 20:30 | #75

    @Jim Rose

    Why are you being so critical of European economies?

    Why do you think Sweden is a “capitalist hell hole”?

  76. Chris Warren
    August 9th, 2010 at 20:39 | #76

    While it is possible that HK per capita incomes may be same as the UK in a trading and financial services economy, this does not mean that Hong Kong workers received incomes anywhere near the UK levels.

    In fact hourly compensation (including supplements) for manufacturing workers in Hong Kong was LESS then half that of UK workers.

    It was closer to a THIRD from 1995 to 2000.

    So presumably business executives took most of the wealth and created crowded overpopulated hell-hole conditions for the rest.

  77. Jim Rose
    August 9th, 2010 at 20:41 | #77

    @Chris Warren
    Sweden has no statutory minimum wage.

    that was your ground from denouncing Hong Kong at #16 as a capitalist hell for less than that – “Hong Kong was a capitalist hell-hole with minimum wages less than $A5 an hour” .

    I notice that your link shows that Hong Kong government accounts for about 20% of GDP and Hong Kong is much richer that the UK and almost as rich as the USA on a PPP GDP per capita basis.

  78. TerjeP
    August 9th, 2010 at 20:44 | #78

    Chris – of course you can’t live on zero dollars but you can have a minimum wage of zero dollars, which is to say the government leaves the setting of prices to the market. There are lots of societies both contemporary and historical that have no minimum wage. Also if you were paying attention earlier I suggested Australia should replace the minimum wage with a social wage. However given that you probably don’t understand what that means either you must be a troll.

    Jim – another example is Britian prior Tony Blair.

  79. Jim Rose
    August 9th, 2010 at 20:54 | #79

    @TerjeP
    yes, the minimum wage was not a priority for even the Attlee govenment. those so-called socialists were too busy blowing the marshall plan money on nationalisations of industries that were losing money to introduce the most basic employment protections for the low-paid.

    Only Red Tony had the guts to protect the ordinary worker from monopsony power of the bosses.

    The UK minimum wage law dates from 1999. It was a flagship policy of the Labour Party in the UK during its 1997 election campaign.

  80. Chris Warren
    August 9th, 2010 at 22:42 | #80

    Jim Rose :@Chris Warren Sweden has no statutory minimum wage.
    that was your ground from denouncing Hong Kong at #16 as a capitalist hell for less than that – “Hong Kong was a capitalist hell-hole with minimum wages less than $A5 an hour” .

    Your comprehension skills are lacking.

    Where did I suggest that “no statutory minimum wage” [Rose fabrication] was a ground for denouncing Hong Kong as a capitalist hell-hole?

    Hong Kong was a capitalist hell hole because of the level of workers wages (and working hours).

    If Rose’s comparison between UK and HK GDP is correct, then manufacturing workers wages (including supplements) in Hong Kong are less than half that of UK workers and in fact closer to a third.

    This makes Hong Kong a capitalist hell hole for workers.

    Whether or not a statutory minimum wage exists is a separate matter.

  81. TerjeP
    August 9th, 2010 at 23:20 | #81

    If you aim to kill the minimum wage you take society back to these dark ages.

    Chris, when you said what I have quoted above were you aware that prior to 2010 there was no minimum wage in Hong Kong, that in Sweden and Denmark there is still no minimum wage and that Britian only got a minimum wage in the late 1990s?

    If yes why the fibs about the dark ages and the end of society merely because I advocated a taxpayer funded social wage instead of a statutory minimum wage. If no then is there anything you retract in what you said.

  82. Jim Rose
    August 9th, 2010 at 23:36 | #82

    @Chris Warren
    You introduced HK, its miniumum wages of $5 and its moral status at #16.

    how large is the manufacturing sector in Hong kong? 7% of employment.

    Hong Kong’s manufacturing sector has mostly relocated to mainland China which provides cheaper labour, land and buildings etc.

    An increasing proportion of Hong Kong’s workforce (85 percent by October 2006) is employed in the service sector.

    Hong Kong enjoys the highest living standards in the Asia-Pacific region

  83. Chris Warren
    August 9th, 2010 at 23:49 | #83

    @Jim Rose

    The question was:

    Where did I suggest that “no statutory minimum wage” [Rose fabrication] was a ground for denouncing Hong Kong as a capitalist hell-hole?

    The ground for denouncing Hong Kong is the oppressed level of wages (compared to the UK) not what Jim Rose is trying to substitute.

  84. August 10th, 2010 at 00:19 | #84

    Chris,
    And by just about every method of measuring welfare it has also been increasing since before 1900.
    Surely, then, an increase in debt is closely associated with an increase in welfare.

  85. Chris Warren
    August 10th, 2010 at 04:26 | #85

    Andrew Reynolds :Chris,And by just about every method of measuring welfare it has also been increasing since before 1900.Surely, then, an increase in debt is closely associated with an increase in welfare.

    Welfare has certainly increased, but in countries with little debt as well. This is a normal gain from economic development.

    You do not need ratcheting debt to get improved welfare. In fact mounting debt threatens to undo the gains in welfare.

  86. Chris Warren
    August 10th, 2010 at 04:43 | #86

    @TerjeP

    I am not sure what you are trying to say.

    But if you kill the minimum wage you take society back to the dark ages of exploited bonded labour and impoverishment for many families, particularly tennants.

    That is the lesson of history.

  87. TerjeP
    August 10th, 2010 at 06:11 | #87

    Even if you’re in Sweden? Even if you replace it with a taxpayer funded social wage as I suggested?

  88. Alice
    August 10th, 2010 at 07:09 | #88

    @TerjeP
    Even in Sweden Terje?? – you talk about Sweden having no minimum wage but its also where pubic childcare is provided for all children aged one to 12 years.? They probably save much more than they lose in any minimum wage loss……
    Here? Where childcare alone costs more than the minimum wage?
    You arent looking at the big picture.

  89. Alice
    August 10th, 2010 at 07:26 | #89

    @TerjeP
    Terje – medical and dental care is free in Sweden to all children and youth aged under twenty. When a child is borm all parents are entitled to 450 days of paid parental leave funded at the sickness benefit rate by the social insurance office. The leave can be taken at any time until the child turns 8.

    Being an LDP Terje, no doubt you would not like to see the heavy arm of government providing these medical, dental, childcare and leave benefits here in Australia. Yet these benefits are much more female and family friendly arent they? Next time you want to make an example of Sweden as a country that has no minimum wage you need to think of the other “public” benefits the Swedish government provides to its people. They are worth real money Terje, to the families and to their productivity and to income. Its not all about “how can we punish people more to make them work harder – what else can we take away” which seems to be the generally hamfisted and condemnatory attitude of conservative parties in Australia.

    You say you would like to replace the minimum wage with something you call a social wage yet you dont specify who will pay this social wage?

    What the difference Terje? Is your social wage less than the minimum wage?

  90. Chris Warren
    August 10th, 2010 at 07:53 | #90

    Alice

    TerjeP is teasing. Of course Sweden has minimum wages – they are derived from union negotiated collective agreements. If Australia had the same union density as Sweden and the same right to have employee representatives on company managements, then collective bargaining could produce even fairer shares than a legal minimum wage and better conditions too (eg 5 weeks leave).

    However those proposing to kill the minimum wage are not proposing this to increase wages. They are proposing it to cut wages and their songsheet usually has verses about unemployment and economic modelling and so on.

    Of course the industrial climate in Australia is vastly different than in Sweden, so killing the minimum wage here, is a Tory cost cutting exercise.

    So by all means, give unions the legal right to be represented on Boards of Management, then the legal minimum wage will be redundant.

    So we can get rid of minimum wages in some conditions but not in others.

  91. TerjeP
    August 10th, 2010 at 08:23 | #91

    Alice – no it is you that isn’t looking at the big picture. There was a context to my suggestion that the minimum wage should be abolished. I proposed a replacement. That replacement was a taxpayer funded social wage (or in LDP talk a negative income tax).

    Chris – so you’ve looked at Sweden and decided a society can exist without a statutory minimum wage. In that case perhaps we can expect a slightly less ignorant approach from you in discussion of the minimum wage.

  92. TerjeP
    August 10th, 2010 at 08:25 | #92

    Alice – no it is you that isn’t looking at the big picture. There was a context to my suggestion that the minimum wage should be abolished. I proposed a replacement. That replacement was a taxpayer funded social wage (or in LDP talk a negative income tax).

    Chris – so you’ve looked at Sweden and decided a society can exist without a statutory minimum wage. In that case perhaps we can expect a slightly less ignorant approach from you in discussion of the minimum wage. Perhaps with your dogma goggles off you might be able to look at things in context and understand that there is more than one way to skin a cat and the old way may not be the only way or even the best way.

  93. Alice
    August 10th, 2010 at 08:30 | #93

    @TerjeP
    Just as I suspected Terje – you want to fund your social wage by giving the unemployed a tax cut they dont earn and cant get because they are unemployed and cant claim it, yet those who are on a claimable wage can claim. So your plan is just another meanspirited kick at those who are genuinely unemployed. It is condemnatory. It is pretty pthetic when youth unemployment rates are so high that you would condemn them to no assistance at all.

    You suggestion does not accept that unemployment is an economic problem within the responsibilities of the government (even though the RBAs responsibility is still to maintain full employment in this country as cited on their website).

    Yet another tax cut for those fortunate enough to be in work – is that what you suggest Terje (but none of the other benefits worth real money that the Swedish government can afford to give its citizens?).

    Im giving Australian conservatives my vote as being amongst the meanest narrowest most bigoted people in the world.

  94. Jim Rose
    August 10th, 2010 at 08:44 | #94

    @Chris Warren
    do you have any evidence that average wage levels in hong kong are below the UK’s?

  95. Jim Rose
    August 10th, 2010 at 09:57 | #95

    @Alice
    I see that you have written another of your anthems to middle class welfare.

    no word on the effectiveness of social safety nets including minimum wages.

    the role of the middle class is to pay taxes to fund social expenditure on the working class.

    Instead, you want the middle class to push passed the working class to put their snouts in the trough, taking money from the hands of the poor.

    Nothing you have said contradicts director’s law that public expenditures are made for the primary benefit of the middle classes, and financed with taxes which are borne in considerable part by the poor and the rich

  96. TerjeP
    August 10th, 2010 at 11:42 | #96

    Alice – no a social wage and/or a negative income tax does not exclude those with no private income, such as the unemployed. God you are thick.

  97. TerjeP
    August 10th, 2010 at 13:05 | #97

    Okay, I regret that last sentence. But it is frustrating when you say X and people say “oh but we know you really mean Y”. I mean what I say and I get fed up when certain people try and verbal me because they wish to paint me as some sinister individual trying to pull a swifty.

  98. Chris Warren
    August 10th, 2010 at 16:04 | #98

    Jim Rose :@Chris Warren do you have any evidence that average wage levels in hong kong are below the UK’s?

    Huh? I have never claimed that “average” wages are anything.

    Hong Kong manufacturing wages including supplements were around a third of UK wages at the time of handover.

  99. Chris Warren
    August 10th, 2010 at 16:24 | #99

    TerjeP :Alice – no it is you that isn’t looking at the big picture. There was a context to my suggestion that the minimum wage should be abolished. I proposed a replacement. That replacement was a taxpayer funded social wage (or in LDP talk a negative income tax).
    Chris – so you’ve looked at Sweden and decided a society can exist without a statutory minimum wage.

    Try reading what people write.

    So by all means, give unions the legal right to be represented on Boards of Management, then the legal minimum wage will be redundant.

    Giving workers a statutory right to participate in management is superior to having a paltry minimum wage.

    But lets not let this TerjeP twist this into abolishing minimum wages in general or replacing it with taxpayers funds.

    So in Auastralia it may be best to ensure unions are resourced and have all the statutory rights and powers to participate fully in the management of corporations including remuneration schemes and bonus payments assignments.

    So this is what TerjeP needs to sign onto, before killing what little protection workers currently have.

  100. Jim Rose
    August 10th, 2010 at 18:30 | #100

    @Chris Warren
    what is your source for Hong Kong manufacturing wages including supplements were around a third of UK wages at the time of handover?

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