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Monday Message Board (on Tuesday)

August 16th, 2011

It’s past time again for the Monday Message Board. Post comments on any topic. As usual, civilised discussion and no coarse language. Lengthy side discussions to the sandpits, please.

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  1. Martin
    August 16th, 2011 at 14:44 | #1

    John, isn’t it time to update your testimonials? Krugman, the Australian…. Who was Richard Alston anyway?

  2. Freelander
    August 16th, 2011 at 15:31 | #2

    In the UK, David Cameron is still engaged in his Chav bashing and attacking the lack of morals, all rights and no duty or obligations, of those who wilfully choose to be unemployed or to work in low paying dead end jobs, despite being faced by the evidence that the rioters were somewhat more cosmopolitan and less class homogeneous than his initial take.

    His clutching at US policing to lead the way is remarkable, given that policing as measured by crime rates would not suggest the US as world’s best practice. His ignoring his own police force, or seemingly not even finding out what their thinking is on the subject, is also remarkable. A modest bit of research would indicate that they have been busy learning an evidence based approach, which post riots, has been highlighted by Scientific American.

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=rabble-with-a-cause

    The research the UK police have been using can be found at:

    http://www.majorincidents.org.uk

    One message from the research is that apparently, crowds react badly to an indiscriminate overreaction and excessive use of force by Police (of the type Cameron seems to favour) because the overreaction results in those who were initially peaceful in the crowd becoming angry and considering that the Police no longer have legitimacy. One reason why there was a danger of that demonstration turning into a riot unless it had been handled, softly, softly, might have been that the initial trigger for the demonstration was an act where, some might consider, the Police had lost legitimacy.

    But wider than that must be the public’s attitude toward the hypocrisy of the continual moralising by parliamentarians who have recently been found to have been fiddling their expenses, who cowered for decades under the thumb of the Murdoch media, who led them into two pointless wars with lies and confected threats, and then couldn’t be bothered equipping the soldiers because that would have cost money, by bankers who have been allowed to walk away with golden parachutes from banks they effectively bankrupted, and by an establishment that has increasingly been showing its contempt for those not as well off as they are, by insisting it is the not well off that need to tighten their belts.

    Before slagging those who probably didn’t vote for him, maybe he should buy some spectacles and a mirror. Spectacles so he can take a close look at his morally upstanding colleagues and a mirror so he can look at himself.

  3. Freelander
    August 16th, 2011 at 15:32 | #3

    Moderation? a couple of links.

  4. August 16th, 2011 at 16:11 | #4

    Just a quick passing comment that Paul Krugman takes on the neochartalist school of Modern Monetary Theory again and again

    I often wonder who Australia’s Krugman is, whether it is Peter Martin, Ross Gittins or John Quiggin himself or maybe even Saul Eslake.

  5. Paul Syvret
    August 16th, 2011 at 16:42 | #5

    John in the wake of the farcical US debt ceiling negotiations, I’d be interested in your take on the Republican’s Iowa straw poll and the rise of the likes of Bachmann and Perry, the latter of whom reportedly considers safety nets like social security unconstitutional. Thoughts?

  6. Fran Barlow
    August 16th, 2011 at 17:07 | #6

    Today, perhaps for the umpteenth time, I heard Chris Bowen say he was “determined to break the people smugglers’ business model”. Bowen thinks this such a fabulous turn of phrase that he used variants of breaking the people smugglers’ business model at least 3 times in this one interview.

    I found this offensive the first time I heard it. I am rapidly approaching the point where I want to hurl things at the radio when Bowen comes on (which is difficult in the car).

    Just once, I’d like a journo to ask: You know, this people smugglers’ business model you’re so keen to break — can you describe it? Who devised it? When was it first rolled out? Is it an agile system? What data are you basing these calims on?

    It’s very clear that semi-clandestine people movement networks are perforce, largely informal. It’s unlikely that anything Australia could plausibly do would much affect the operation of these networks, as they are driven not by people touting for business but by people seeking releif from untoward circumstance. There is no “business model”, as far as anyone can tell. People have to be paid off, boats contracted and people ferried onto them from places where they’ve been warehoused. Nobody went to a business development conference or is producing marketing bumpf.

    Yet the repeated focus on this matter as if it is primarily a business utterly obscures the underlying human drivers of the problem. Somehow, if you believe the spin, the government is in a knock ‘em down drag ‘em out fight with “people smugglers” urging poor under-informed innocents onto unseaworthy boats merely so they can take their money and breach Australian taboos on who should come here. Bowen is really bothered, if you are to believe him, not with the idea of desperately vulnerable people coming here, but rather, with them thinking that getting onto a boat might be the lesser evil compared to staying where they are. Today he said that they were “forced” onto boats because of the people smugglers’ business model — or something.

    So in the great ugly debate about “push” and “pull” factors, Bowen is pushing back. He’s saying to vulnerable people who can be conned by callous people smugglers no matter how bad your circumstances, you can’t improve them by getting onto a boat because I’m going to ensure that you take that risk for no gain. The unbearbale circumstances you are now facing are thus the lesser evil.

    That doesn’t sound that progressive to me, even if you use the phrase “breaking the people smugglers’ business model”.

    Imagine if people were gathered outside a burning building. Someone suggested putting a trampoline on the ground so people could evacuate through windows but someone else objected — don’t you realise that that is only going to encourage them to jump? Some people might be killed. These window jumpers should wait for the firemen instead of queue-jumping. You callous b@stard — you people in the trampoline trade need to have your business model broken!.

    We’d think the objector mad right?

  7. frankis
    August 16th, 2011 at 17:57 | #7

    Warren Buffett’s opinion of the outrageous degree of taxation he suffers, and what ought to be done about it, is eloquent: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/15/opinion/stop-coddling-the-super-rich.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=buffett and taxes&st=cse

  8. plaasmatron
    August 16th, 2011 at 20:13 | #8

    Story in the SMH on the case of the banks moving into prime CBD property as fashion outlets go bankrupt. Seems pretty obvious to me that it is in the banks interest to not have empty prime retail in a building that they bankroll… much better to fork out almost A$1m p.a. for rent due to customers demanding more banking service outlets (yeah right!)

    http://www.smh.com.au/business/portmans-out-as-bank-takes-over-20110814-1isxm.html

  9. Ikonoclast
    August 17th, 2011 at 13:47 | #9

    @Fran Barlow

    I agree. I heard Bowen (or one of them as they are all interchangeable) say that the Malayasia solution (my words) was put in place to “deter the people smugglers” (his words).

    I fail to see how this program would deter people smugglers. The clear reasoning is;

    1. For the most part people smugglers do not know what Australian immigration law and policy is, neither in general, nor at any particular time as it transmutes constantly anyway.

    2. Even if they knew, the wouldn’t care.

    3. Once they they get the money and shove people on a boat, they couldn’t care less about what happens after that.

    Pretty much the same reasoning applies to refugees;

    1. If most Australians can’t see any predictability or logic in Australia’s immigration policy, then refugees will have even less idea. They will be much more influenced by rumour, hope and lies circulating in their general vicinity.

    2. Even if they know (which is highly doubtful) they will hope against hope if desperate enough.

    There is a complete lack of logic to the government’s approach. We should;

    1. Admit refugee claimants into the general community on their own reconizance. (after appropriate health and legal checks).

    2. Deem them to be granted full citizenship rights until the validity or otherwise of their refugee claims are established.

    3. Expedite refugee applications, by investing in appropriate resources, the money currently wasted on expensive detentions.

    4. Deport those found to be non-genuine in accordance with Australian law and proper international and UN conventions and protocols.

    5. Permanently admit those found to be genuine.

    6. Adjust Australian immigration policy “after the fact” by reducing sanctioned official immigration (if necessary) with regard to immigration rates, emigration rates and a national sustainable population policy (which we should have).

    This is all very simple, very logical, very affordable and very humane. But of course ignorance, prejudice, stupidity, selfishness and short-sightedness will triumph as always.

  10. Mulga Mumblebrain
    August 17th, 2011 at 20:27 | #10

    Paul Syvret, Perry is a die-hard anthropogenic climate destabilisation denialist. That gets a little tricky these days in Texas which is suffering a great drought, with more than half of the state in ‘exceptional or ‘unprecedented’ drought, and the rest not far behind. A gigantic heatwave has been throttling the state for months, with record temperatures (particularly record minima) all over the place. Perry’s response was to hold a prayer meeting, after which the drought intensified. You’ve got to hand it to the All High-he doesn’t suffer fools.
    Perry intends to gut the EPA and renewable energy programs, and is a shoo-in, barring mishaps, to end the Obama mock Presidency. Obama was always intended to be a one-term President, and to so thoroughly disillusion the patsies who fell for his grifting, that they would never vote again, and hand the country over to the Tea Party Mad Hatters. Our own far Right ‘peoples’ revolt’ is also gathering pace, as the carnival of senile delinquents outside Parliament yesterday showed yet again. And they are itching for a fight, jostling and pushing dissenting voices, as ever, and even falling out amongst themselves with a bit of geriatric biffo. When you look at the Anglosphere, as system collapse quickens, and at the deranged denialism and concerted imbecility being mobilised to thwart any redemptive action, you just have to think of that old saw ‘Those who the Gods wish to destroy, they first make mad’.

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