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Monday Message Board

February 3rd, 2014

Last week was pretty much a blur for me, with loads of work and other commitments. It’s already time for another Monday Message Board. Post comments on any topi. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please

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  1. Brett
    February 3rd, 2014 at 16:52 | #1

    I just thought of one advantage of capitalism: the diversity of owners weakens the bargaining power of any particular owner when dealing with workers. People tend not to think of the state as a bargaining agent in socialized industries, but that’s what it is, and if your skills are specialized for one particular area that happens to be under a single socialized company then your bargaining power is far less than what it would be under a varied set of competing owners.

  2. February 3rd, 2014 at 22:49 | #2

    @Brett: that is only an advantage competing against communism, which is not the only alternative to capitalism. Other socialisms (e.g. syndicalism) also diversify control over the means of production.

    Mind you, it’s not guaranteed under any economic system anyway: if your specialisation is in, for example, a field where there exists a natural (or, under iffy capitalisms, unnatural) monopoly, you suffer the same disadvantage.

  3. Megan
    February 4th, 2014 at 00:58 | #3

    Interestingly, I just watched an interview with David Simon which included this (from him):

    If how much money you have is the defining characteristic of citizenship or of value or of relevance, of human relevance, and if that’s all that we’re going to measure (and apparently, since 1980 this all we’re going to measure), you’re going to get a society to live in that is structured on that metric. And it’s going to be a brutal one.

    But ultimately, capitalism has not delivered on the promise to be a measurement of anything other than money, of profit. And if profit is your only metric, man, what are you building? Where does the environment fit into that? Where does human potential and you know, for anything other than having some money in your hand, you know, where does, where do people stand when they have health needs or when they make a mistake in life? You know, it was said a long time ago you judge a society by is hospitals and its prisons. By that standard we’re, you know, we have a lot to be ashamed of.

    You don’t often hear of the “Powerful Poor Lobby” flexing its muscles around the halls of power!

  4. Brett
    February 4th, 2014 at 01:17 | #4

    @Joel I think you do benefit from having a market, even if you vary up the actual firm arrangements. Your firms can be traditional corporations or worker-owned cooperatives, as long as there are a multiple of them, they can exit or enter the market, and they can get the financial resources they need to expand.

    I see what you mean about the natural and unnatural monopoly point, although I’m skeptical about the number of natural monopolies out there that can actually exist without something keeping rival systems out from development. Water and sanitation count, although there were private means of both before the rise of modern sanitation systems (the only problem is that they sucked compared to what we have now). Electricity maybe counts, although if you can run overhead lines then you could have multiple electricity networks as long as the competitors can pay for the fixed costs.


    I know where Simon’s coming from, but I disagree. Capitalism takes a lot of **** (a lot of it rightfully), but it has worked better than the real alternatives we’ve seen so far in the world, and societies that get rid of money as a key metric for power tend to just replace that with another form of power that’s less fair and more corrupt.

  5. Paul Norton
    February 4th, 2014 at 10:52 | #5

    In my humble opinion, one of the keys to understanding the contemporary political and intellectual Right in the English-speaking world is to understand that at its core are people who believe that they are engaged in an ongoing war against cosmic evil (one of the names for this cosmic evil is TEH LEFT) and that the requirements of success in that war supersede the demands of any system of universal morality. Of course there are other agendas and motivations at work as well, but this is surely central to what they think, say and do.

  6. Donald Oats
    February 4th, 2014 at 11:57 | #6

    Once again, promises were made…or perhaps not. From the Rural ABC service, Sharman Stone (Murray), disagrees with her esteemed colleagues about the reasons why SPC was thrown under the bus:

    Sharman Stone, the federal Member for the Victorian seat of Murray, says her senior colleagues are using excuses that are “wrong” to justify the decision to reject a bid for $25 million in government assistance from the food processor – which is based in her electorate.

    Union conditions of workers have come under fire from the Government for being too extravagant, with pay well above the award.

    In an extraordinary outburst, Dr Stone says the leaders of her party are deceiving the public debate.

    “It’s not the truth. That’s right, it’s lying,” she said.

    “The independent panel, their own independent panel, I understand recommended that this industry be supported.”

    Who would have thunk it?

  7. Collin Street
    February 4th, 2014 at 12:16 | #7

    Electricity maybe counts, although if you can run overhead lines then you could have multiple electricity networks as long as the competitors can pay for the fixed costs.

    But they can’t, can they. Perfect competition -> prices driven to marginal cost of supply + whatever -> can’t cover fixed costs if high -> can’t be done in capital-intensive industries.

    Clayton’s competition or monopoly are our only real choices.

  8. Nick
    February 4th, 2014 at 14:20 | #8

    @Donald Oats
    At last some push-back from one of the older experienced voices on the backbench.

    Clearly the ghastly price of the Coalition attack on reality is too much for Dr Stone. More strength to her, she should keep pushing, and burst this neo-con bubble. The EBA is online, and one of the company principals has come forward to squash Abetz’ disinformation on the ‘shiny tin’ allowance and the furphy that the enterprise agreement was a significant cost to the company. Abetz, if he was a decent person, would be considering his position after this damning exposure.

    The elephant in the room for the suicide rationalists in cabinet as ever is protection and subsidy behind imported foodstuffs. Not one of them has the guts to mention it, as their entire world-view, and the rationale for attacks on workers, evaporates.

  9. kevin1
    February 4th, 2014 at 16:04 | #9

    @Donald Oats

    I never took much notice of her doctorate, thinking she was a medico, but I did recently see a reference to her in an academic work on aboriginal history. Wikipedia says she has publications on race relations, environment and geology. You would hope that at least some of the trained thinkers in the Libs will resist the flight to deceit and dumbness.

  10. February 4th, 2014 at 16:51 | #10

    @Paul Norton
    Another humble take. I think the characteristic feature of the Abbott Government, for example, is denial of climate change, and more importantly the cultural change implied. Perhaps those anxieties can be understood? In this context, might adversarial politics be doomed to fail?

  11. Donald Oats
    February 4th, 2014 at 19:04 | #11

    When it comes to climate change and denial of anthropogenic global warming, the neo-cons are without peer. I find Tamino’s blog very entertaining and vividly informative on the subject matter, for he applies statistical analysis to the questions posed by the alleged sceptics. He provides an endless array of graphical/visual representations of the underlying statistics and/or data as well, hammering home the point in (confected) dispute by the so-called sceptics.

    Rabbett Run also has some good posts: I particularly like this simple plot of temperatures, in which el Nino years, neutral years, and la Nina years are identified and have separate regressions performed; see the three trend lines plotted, and you’ll get what I mean.

  12. Donald Oats
    February 4th, 2014 at 19:05 | #12

    My previous comment is in moderation: WTH?

  13. Royce Arriso
    February 4th, 2014 at 19:52 | #13

    Abbott’s destructive comments about worker’s wage and leave entitlements being at the root of SPC’s problems leaves him less the leader of a modern democracy as spokesman for some military junta looking after the interests of the Big Boys and keen to return society to ‘traditional’ values. Some of his cringeworthy ‘insights’ both at home and internationally have the quality of your boofhead uncle’s famous wedding speech extolling bridal purity. He seems unable to assess any argument on its merits–you watch, digging your toenails into the floorboards, as his mental tick-list is accessed. Here we go….under ‘C’ for Company Failures..’ignore management practices and say ad nauseum ‘workers pay and leave conditions are to blame’. The nearest equivalent, other than junta spokesman? Monty Python’s boxer (HA!) Ken Kleen-Air System. “Every mornig, Ken runs the 47 miles from his home in Brighton to the Pesticide Research Station in Shoreham. Nobody knows why…..” His first thought in a crisis is whether the holy grail of neo-con ideology is safe. He needn’t worry. The rest of us wouldn’t piddle in it. As PM, this man would make a good fencepost.

  14. Megan
    February 4th, 2014 at 21:03 | #14

    @Donald Oats

    Know exactly how you feel!

    Check out comment #45 in the “Sandpit”, and if you can explain how this works you’ll get a gold star.

    I can’t link to my website in my name but I can link it to any other website. I can’t even get a link through in comments. I’ve tried to get it fixed with the person hosting the site, Jacques, but with no response.

  15. Megan
    February 4th, 2014 at 21:07 | #15

    PS: Just because I like being a barb in the side of those trying to thwart free speech… my site is “SpringHillVoice” with the W’s in front and the ‘com’ at the end.

  16. ralph
    February 4th, 2014 at 21:33 | #16

    I think Stone is nervous given what happened in nearby Indi. What are the chances she stands as an independent t the next election?

  17. Paul Norton
    February 5th, 2014 at 09:42 | #17

    I have often commented on the contemporary Australian political and intellectual Right’s youthful leftism and the absurdities of their apostasy. One of these is that while they cloak their anti-leftism in the language of anti-communism and anti-totalitarianism, hardly any of them were in the corner of the Sakharovs, Walesas and Havels when the Cold War was happening. The various democratic dissident movements of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe actually got more support from the Communist Party of Australia than from our current crop of right-wingers. I will gladly compare my Cold War record to Keith Windschuttle’s any day.

  18. Megan
    February 5th, 2014 at 14:22 | #18

    I’m guessing that the S&P/ASX 200 drops below the ‘psychologically important’ (at least that’s what they called it on the way up) 5000 mark this week.

  19. paul walter
    February 5th, 2014 at 16:39 | #19

    Yes, a cent drops they panic.. breasts on an ungulate.

  20. Debbieanne
    February 5th, 2014 at 18:18 | #20

    Megan, went to your site, lots of interesting stories. no comments?
    fitst article about our (Hubbies)family business in Lockyer valley

  21. Megan
    February 5th, 2014 at 21:02 | #21


    No, we don’t have comments – but glad you liked it!

    Is that the article about the Grantham Cannery? Or do you mean “first” as in the one from 2003 about the antiques shop out near Gatton?

    The cannery, if that’s it, is a great sign of hope and I’ll be buying tinned food from there.

  22. Megan
    February 5th, 2014 at 22:01 | #22

    @Paul Norton

    I hope I’m not the only person who finds it weird that a “union” leader, Paul Howes says:

    that there had been “unsustainable growth in wages”

    while a ‘right-wing’ PM is reported:

    The Prime Minister agreed with Ms Kearney, saying penalty rates are important to workers and especially to those who are low paid.

    It would be nice to believe that they’re both lying, but I have a feeling Howes really means it.

  23. Tim Macknay
    February 5th, 2014 at 23:08 | #23

    I remember seeing an Australian Story on Howes a few years ago in which various industry leaders and CEOs all stated their approval of him and said he was someone “they could work with”. That raised my eyebrows.

  24. Tim Macknay
    February 5th, 2014 at 23:09 | #24

    Oops. Borked the emphasis tag (again). @&#% iPad!!

  25. Megan
    February 6th, 2014 at 00:37 | #25

    @Tim Macknay

    I can’t do links – but I suggest looking up ‘wikileaks’ and ‘PLUSD’ and they have a very useful and easy to use search facility. Type in his name and read the results.

    Most interesting to me is that he was a “protect”.

  26. Debbieanne
    February 6th, 2014 at 06:25 | #26

    sorry, Megan. Yes, the Grantham cannery. It does sound hopeful.

  27. sunshine
    February 6th, 2014 at 11:04 | #27

    I thought Howes offer of Grand Compact may be a good idea as it would force the Coalition to decline the offer and publicly admit that they would prefer the unions total extinction .

    Another example of the right and left playing by different rules is the ABC breaking a story about union corruption ,which allowed the Vic govt to propose drug testing laws ,which allowed todays Herald Sun front page,- UNION DRUG BLITZ .

    Melb Uni has coauthored a study which shows that lotto wins shift peoples political views to the right .Leftists fundamentally believe in a fair go ,Rightists do not . Rightists wont fight entrenched disadvantage as that would eventually threaten their privileged positions .They argue in bad faith – they are focused on the outcome not the process.

    I feel like I want to punch someone or something .

  28. Tim Macknay
    February 6th, 2014 at 11:10 | #28

    Yes, that is interesting. Also, Arbib and Cooney were marked as “protects” in the same cable. Presumably the intent was to ensure that the diplomats concealed, as far as possible, which Australian politicians were sly informants of the US government.

  29. February 6th, 2014 at 11:27 | #29

    I was amused by Howes’ latest “look at me!” outing. He only has two problems: Labor’s in opposition; he isn’t Bob Hawke.

  30. Tim Macknay
    February 6th, 2014 at 13:36 | #30

    The Prime Minister is evidently very pleased to have Paul Howes’ assistance.

  31. paul walter
    February 6th, 2014 at 13:52 | #31

    The Right faction is moving to ensure a Right faction leader in the future, to block Plibersek, should Shorten not cut the mustard.

  32. Megan
    February 6th, 2014 at 21:31 | #32

    Campbell Newman is either dangerous, or dangerously stupid. Hard to tell.

    Media Release from the Qld Bar Association:


    The President of the Bar Association of Queensland, Peter Davis QC said today:

    “The Premier is reported as describing defence lawyers who represent bikies in these terms:

    -’They’re defence lawyers: they’re paid by criminal gangs. Of course, they will say or do anything to represent their clients in the best possible light. Their clients are criminals.’

    And then

    -’Yes, everybody’s got a right to be defended under the law, but you’ve got to see it for what it is; they are part of the machine, part of the criminal gang machine and they will see, say and do anything to defend their clients, try and get them off and indeed progress their case.’

    “These comments are misconceived, unfair and objectionable. Defence lawyers are not part of a “criminal gang machine”. Defence lawyers play an important and integral role in the administration of justice by representing persons accused by the State of wrong doing, and in the process, ensuring fairness and justice to those so accused. All lawyers owe duties to their clients. Those duties though are limited by onerous ethical obligations owed to the court. Lawyers are officers of the court. The “machine” of which lawyers are part is the justice system.”

    “The Premier’s attack upon defence lawyers is completely unjustified and I call upon the Premier to unequivocally withdraw them.”

    Someone should send out a search party for the alleged ‘opposition’ ALP.

  33. Fran Barlow
    February 6th, 2014 at 21:45 | #33

    @David Irving (no relation)

    I’m rather pleased he’s not Bob Hawke, as he was an effective enemy of workingclass empowerment, and the fact that the ALP is out of power reflects Howes’s efforts, at least in part.

  34. iain
    February 7th, 2014 at 11:15 | #34

    GM advocates have some ‘splainin to do: http://news.yahoo.com/neighbouring-farmers-fight-landmark-australian-223118689.html

    “It could also change Australia’s unique zero tolerance status for contamination of organic crops, they said.”

  35. February 7th, 2014 at 11:54 | #35

    @Fran Barlow
    Me too, Fran. If Howes were as effective and charismatic as Hawke, he’d be as dangerous as Hawke was, but he clearly over-estimates his charm.

  36. Donald Oats
    February 7th, 2014 at 13:45 | #36

    Bob Hawke made the common sense decision to sort out a series of accords (“compacts”) while in government, whereas Howes entertains the idea while in opposition against an opponent who has demonstrated a propensity for 180′s which strikes deep amaze. Howes should take pause and rethink his strategy.

  37. rog
    February 8th, 2014 at 05:13 | #37

    Aha! So now we know, that subsidies for ethanol actually caused the 2088 depression.

  38. rog
    February 8th, 2014 at 05:14 | #38


  39. David Allen
    February 8th, 2014 at 07:15 | #39

    Does Bill Glasson (LNP candidate for Griffith) look like Peter Griffin’s dad Francis Griffin (from Family Guy)? Are I right?

  40. Ivor
    February 8th, 2014 at 11:41 | #40

    Brett does not know that modern capitalism is inconsistent with “a diversity of owners”.

  41. BilB
    February 8th, 2014 at 13:09 | #41


    What a nonsense article that was. With hundreds of other factors driving the gfc this guy claims that a policy which gave a lot of rural stability while reducing transport costs caused financial collapse??? This guy is obviously a tea party candidate hopeful.

  42. Megan
    February 8th, 2014 at 19:34 | #42

    Looking at Griffith by-election result via AEC live results.

    Historically, by-elections almost always go to the party in opposition. Given this used to be a safe ALP seat it is therefore interesting that the ALP is on track for a defeat – albeit a narrow one.

    Most telling is that as at right now the only party who ran a candidate to suffer a negative swing is the ALP.

    Well done neo-con infiltrators!

  43. Megan
    February 8th, 2014 at 19:42 | #43

    PS: As at this time, the difference between the ALP & LNP is 410 votes.

    The Greens currently have 4,607 representing 10.77% of the counted vote and a swing toward them from 2013 of 0.17%.

    I read that as the ALP preferring to be neo-con and lose than to be half decent and win. No doubt they will scream at the Greens “we wuz robbed”.

  44. Megan
    February 8th, 2014 at 21:45 | #44

    No, it looks like Green preferences have elected the ALP despite the swing against them.


  45. Jim Rose
    February 9th, 2014 at 10:21 | #45

    after reading Coase’s book on China over the break, I discovered that by contemporary standards of evidence, Milton Friedman must have been a double secret communist agent.

    He must have been: in 1980, Friedman not only visited China and advised their leaders, he held a week long seminar on price theory for their top officials! J’accuse

    Imagine if Friedman had collaborated with Chile and Pinochet in 1975 in this way – a week long seminar for the top officials in Chile?

    What would the Socialist Left have made of this evidence of close collaboration with dictators?

  46. kevin1
    February 10th, 2014 at 19:09 | #46


    Some spontaneous impressions – I may recant on some of this, but today is a significant day.

    Edward Holden started making motor carriages in SA in 1930s(?) and SPC has been around for 100 years – does their passing not need to be closely examined? History counts for nothing?

    The CEO of Toyota said it was a close decision but Govt offered nothing on “principle”. But what principle? When you put out a piece of cheese to catch a mouse, do you resent losing the cheese? Abbott cries crocodile tears “devastating for me” (ha ha) but offers nothing, I guess that’s a “personal responsibility” issue for him and Hockey – it’s the workers’ fault.

    Toyota has a big (40%?) export profile, and sells cars that Australians want to buy, but this doesn’t matter to policy. What else do they have to do to get support?

    Absolutely no ideas from Govt or econ dries about the future for these and component workers, apparently economic religion says the market will provide. Yeah, right, we know what it will provide – most will be unemployed or underemployed for the rest of their lives, or jobs in low wage, low skill services.

    No-one gets on the front foot – just wait for “the market” to provide the future. It seems we want to be victims, not leaders.

    The first condition ofa higher productivity economy is to have the workers at work. You know it won’t happen – for the rest of their lives, 1/3 unemployed, 1/3 underemployed is what the accas tell us. They have had the plug pulled on them – Hockey baited and taunted GMH to close down – they wanted it to happen (less union dues to ALP). Sabotage from the highest level.

    And smash unions – have a RC, include Gillard/AWU, and smear all honest union reps, because the BOSS is ALWAYS RIGHT! (the fusion of orthodox economics and right wing politics is apparent).

    “The people in power are there because they know what they’re doing, or they have more knowledge than us.”

    Maybe getting the Salvos to hand out food parcels is the solution, now that they will have time on their hands – charity rather than work.

    Does the end of the “age of entitlement” means we are not entitled to expect solutions and initatives from govt?

  47. Stewart
    February 10th, 2014 at 20:07 | #47

    Just wondering whether anyone has thoughts on how close The Australian is to Pravda (or other infamous propaganda) in the extremity of its views.

    The Australian slavishly follows the (Abbott) government line. Anyone who differs is necessarily a traitor and to be hated (e.g. Labor, Greens, unions).

    It regularly campaigns for its own agenda without giving the other side a fair hearing. And it’s heavily subsidised rather than trying to run a profit like a normal newspaper.

  48. Megan
    February 11th, 2014 at 00:51 | #48

    The UK is flooding. Notice in this latest from Rupert’s ABC the use of “some say”, and also the idea of attacking the experts. There is also the concept of ‘adaptation’ (ie: throwing lots of money at it after the horse has bolted) as an answer:

    There has been a growing tide of criticism at the official response to the floods, with some blaming the flooding on the Environment Agency and its failure to dredge local rivers.

    UK communities minister Eric Pickles said the government “perhaps relied too much on the Environment Agency’s advice” on flood prevention.

    “I am really sorry that we took the advice … we thought we were dealing with experts,” he said.

    Environment Agency chairman Chris Smith hit back at critics and accused ministers for holding back vital funds.

    “When I hear someone criticising the expertise and professionalism of my staff in the Environment Agency who know more about flood risk management – 100 times more about flood risk management – than any politician ever does, I am not going to sit idly by,” he said.

    UK prime minister David Cameron last week announced $236.6 million in extra funding for emergency repairs and maintenance.

  49. paul walter
    February 11th, 2014 at 01:17 | #49

    My theory with media’s obsession with Corby was to do with finding an excuse to keep real news out off air (nothing new, here) , denying a reality check for voters at Griffith, (as well as the public in general)with more attendant scrutiny of Abbott’s antics concerning the ABC, brutal asylum seeker treatment and secrecy and mass sackings and harassment of unions.

    The ABC must be riddled with executive stooges, like a cancer.

  50. Stewart
    February 11th, 2014 at 11:03 | #50

    What’s the bet that the firms getting the money will be cronies of Cameron’s?

    Remember how Halliburton (i.e. Dick Cheney) made a motza out of Hurricane Katrina? There was so money there that Halliburton had to temporarily stop its “access” to US government coffers assisting the Iraqi reconstruction.

    Surely the UK has its equivalent to Halliburton?

  51. February 11th, 2014 at 12:34 | #51

    I’m sure Halliburton have a branch in the UK …

  52. Fran Barlow
    February 14th, 2014 at 07:09 | #52

    Well, it’s working here too

  53. Fran Barlow
    February 14th, 2014 at 07:11 | #53

    I’ve posted a couple of times and both posts have been rejected, without even going to automod. Briefly, sorry to hear of {…} loss. It shouldn’t happen and really is dreadful.

    That noted, the “war on drugs” is no different from all the other wag the dog and moral panic trickery and hokum. We on the left ought to denounce it and call for legalisation with controlled distribution. The costs of this war to the legitimate interests of working people is probably greater than the official wars of imperialist intervention.

  54. Fran Barlow
    February 14th, 2014 at 07:13 | #54

    Ah wordpress is barring posts with her name!!! Gosh, that is perverse. We can solidarise but not name her.

  55. Paul Norton
    February 14th, 2014 at 07:24 | #55

    When there’s sugar and fat
    And there’s too much of that
    That’s amore

    When they rip off their staff
    And the food makes you barf
    That’s amore

    When their corporate practices
    Are all that we must deplore-ay

    And they do really bad
    Things with songs in their ad
    That’s amore.

  56. February 15th, 2014 at 07:02 | #56

    Does anyone remember Hockey, in the lead up to the 2013 election, trumpeting his plans for a mass privatisation of federal and state public assets? No, me neither.

    I cant see any references to “privatisation” in the LPA election manifesto. I guess that the electorally disastrous experiences of the L/NP’s previous attempts to be honest with the citizenry – Fightback in 1993, GST in 1998 and Work Choices in 2007 – have taught the party to be more circumspect about any nasty surprises in the run up to the 2013 election.

    Obviously privatization is one of those zombie ideas that keep returning no matter how many times they have had stakes driven through their heart. Except nowadays zombies present in the cuddly form of adorable Joe Hockey.

    Say it aint so, Joe!

  57. Ikonoclast
    February 15th, 2014 at 07:46 | #57

    @jack strocchi

    Elected governments now implement policies against the wishes of the majority. Corporate money buys both political parties in our two party system. Thus, no matter which party the people elect to government, policies never change and the incumbent government continues to implement the program of corporate capital. This is what is happening. It is a simple and straight-forward subversion of democracy by corporate capital.

  58. rog
    February 15th, 2014 at 08:15 | #58

    On the one hand we have Bjorn Lomborg mocking Davos et al over climate change, saying that an increase in temps will be of economic benefit and on the other hand we have fellow sceptic Richard Tol, who Lomborg uses as a reference, now saying that it’s all bad.

    “Climate change is real and man-made…After year 2070, global warming will become a net cost to the world, justifying cost-effective climate action.”

  59. February 15th, 2014 at 09:21 | #59

    Fran Barlow said:

    That noted, the “war on drugs” is no different from all the other wag the dog and moral panic trickery and hokum. We on the left ought to denounce it and call for legalisation with controlled distribution.

    The Prohibition movement prosecuted the original “war on drugs”, and it’s base was made up of Left-wing women, much overlap with the Suffragettes. This shows that 19th C women were actually much more powerful in the dreaded days of the Patriarchy. And that the Old Left had a much stronger moral core than the degenerate New Left.

    Authority is supposed to discourage vice, not disseminate it. Turning the government into societies biggest drug pusher is the ultimate reductio ad absurdum of the post-modern liberalism.

    Fran Barlow said:

    The costs of this war to the legitimate interests of working people is probably greater than the official wars of imperialist intervention.

    The Right getting the upper hand in the Mean Streets theatre of the Culture War is the single biggest demographic factor underlying the gigantic boom in urban property values over the past generation. So The “war on drugs” has been a massive economic boom to middle-class urbanites,particularly career women who can now walk the streets safely at night, in their endless search for Mr Big.

  60. Ikonoclast
    February 15th, 2014 at 09:32 | #60

    Jack draws so many long bows I am certain he fought at the Battle of Agincourt.

  61. zoot
    February 15th, 2014 at 11:45 | #61
  62. Fran Barlow
    February 15th, 2014 at 12:54 | #62

    @Jack Strocchi

    Shorter Strocchi … Fran is spot on.

  63. Megan
    February 15th, 2014 at 21:09 | #63

    Well that was easy!

    Climate change has been fixed:

    In a joint statement announced as US secretary of state John Kerry wrapped up a two-day visit to Beijing, both countries said they would work together together “to collaborate through enhanced policy dialogue, including the sharing of information regarding their respective post-2020 plans to limit greenhouse gas emissions”.

    OK, not exactly “fixed” if you want to be pedantic about the meanings of words.

    But still, working together to collaborate through enhanced dialogue and sharing stuff about their plans on what they might do after 2020 – good enough for me!

    So, this is about – in terms of going forward – a framework for a collaborative plan in the future.

    I particularly like that they have wheeled out the wildly successful “Carbon Capture & Storage” solution which has reduced Australia’s GHG emissions massively (speculatively).

  64. Tim Macknay
    February 15th, 2014 at 22:51 | #64

    It’s alright Megan – Clive Palmer has already fixed it.

  65. Megan
    February 16th, 2014 at 00:04 | #65

    @Tim Macknay

    Great! Problem solved then.

  66. Megan
    February 16th, 2014 at 00:38 | #66

    @Tim Macknay

    Did I touch an ALP nerve there with reference to the bogusness of CCS?

  67. Tim Macknay
    February 16th, 2014 at 12:00 | #67

    Not at all! The notion that CCS will form a major part of greenhouse gas mitigation is laughable.

  68. Hermit
    February 16th, 2014 at 12:22 | #68

    I’d generalise the sentiment to say that in political reality there is no short to medium salvation from the problems of or in finding alternatives to fossil fuels. CCS won’t happen, renewables will show strongly diminishing returns after early gains, gas will get expensive, nukes can’t be built fast enough and at some point ‘efficiency’ will become hardship. I realise some won’t hear of any shortcomings in their favourite form of technical salvation.

    Fast forward to 2020 and I think the economy will be subdued and that will be the main reason emissions are a bit lower but not by a lot. It will not be the result of deliberate emission reduction policy like carbon tax or Direct Action.

  69. Fran Barlow
    February 17th, 2014 at 08:35 | #69

    I went along to a Greek Orthodox baptism yesterday. Executive summary? Seriously weird.

    On the positive side, the historian in me liked a real-life experience of what a feature of the ancient world might have been like. The church was bedecked with iconography reminiscent of the Middle Ages and in some cases, earlier. Some of it was Dadaesque, in that the fingers on the saints and Jesus were distended and contorted, much as one might see in a movie about aliens. One of the images appeared to be of “Mary” holding young Jesus on her lap. Young Jesus seemed to be of an indeterminate age between perhaps 6 and 10, but severely malnourished and possibly suffering from some sort of muscular dystrophy or paralysis, with his head resting on his right shoulder. In another image “Mary” was cradling him as an infant but his body wasn’t visible — possibly obscured beneath her garments — with just his head protruding from the intersection of her massive forearm and upper arm. Baby Jesus looked less human than Romulan — with a nasty scowl and ripples across his forehead.

    At the front of the church was a table bearing an image of a dead Jesus mounted in a prone position on a wooden stand. Apparently this was some sort of Easter talisman — children could go under the table for good luck.

    As the ceremony started people filed into the church lighting thin candles, applying holy water, and making elaborate religious gestures. Many of them passed by the iconic images and reliefs at the back either kissing them or affecting to do so. Some went the full smooch but others were more demure. One older woman simply leant forward and touched the image with the tip of her nose. Another settled for air kisses. I wondered what they thought “god” would make of it all or if that were a question that was even germane.

    The demeanour of the child who was the ostensible beneficiary of this rather eccentric mediaeval procedure varied throughout between bemused, irritated, troubled, and inconsolably distressed. That her godfather, who held her before the priest renounced Satan six times (the number of the beast) and then mock spat at the ground plainly made no difference nor even that he swore three times (the trinity of course) that he had joined with Christ. Her mother and even her father were out of sight, and now her clothing was being removed by the godfather so that she could have water splashed all over while all manner if weird chanting took place. Naturally, the whole thing was vide-recorded for posterity. I suppose it’s a moment of which she’ll want to be reminded. Then bring on the swinging smoke producers and more imprecations in Greek about telling Satan to keep his hands off — which seemed ironic in the circumstances and in we went — the child now weeping piteously and others in the congregation going out in sympathy.

    Next thing you know she has a bonnet on with a peak on it that looked suspiciously like K|K head gear and a room full of ostensibly 21st century people were lining up to kiss the hand of the priest and kiss the chid. She loved that. Not.

    I must confess that by this time I saw little to smile about. The ceremony involved a child — entailed one really — but it was not substantively about the child or her needs. It was entirely for the benefit of the adults in the room and so far as they endorsed the procedure, their fears and angst. I observed to one of the guests, a younger woman from upstate New York who was a colleague of hubby’s that “in some contexts watching a middle-aged man disrobe a small child before a priest and hundreds of people, some of whom were video-recording it would be … err … odd”. She shifted about uncomfortably.

    Yes, I can definitely say that yesterday’s proceeding was one of the weirder things in which I’ve agreed to participate. With hindsight, I probably should have given it a miss.

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