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Weekend reflections

September 12th, 2014

It’s time for another weekend reflections, which makes space for longer than usual comments on any topic. Side discussions to sandpits, please.

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  1. Newtownian
    September 12th, 2014 at 17:21 | #1

    Cost Benefit and Ebola

    We know already that economists and politicians are seriously challenged by scientific concepts. In light of this I threw these comments onto one of the Guardian article feedback sections. I’d be curious if there is some counter evidence noting it looks like the Gates foundation at least is doing something sensible in a timely fashion.

    one lot of modellers I haven’t yet seen in evidence are the economic modellers who claim in our society to be all knowing.

    Their silence is deafening. And regrettably as a result you get the opposite of what is needed as evidenced by the US republicans having just slashed moneys requested by CDC for aid http://www.salon.com/2014/09/09/house_republicans_slash_funding_that_would_help_fight_ebola/

    And its no better locally, with Africa’s richest man Nigerian Aliko Dangote has just offered a measly 1 million dollars from his fortune of 25 billion or so. He is located at the heart of the storm yet doesnt realize his own empire could fall as a byproduct.

    And all this despite the positive cost benefit of large intervention now is obvious to blind Freddy.

    I guess it goes again to show that current governments and their supporters in high finance, economics and the legal system are still too stupid to realize what an existential threat this is to own interests. If these guys cant even get self interest for themselves straight let alone the more important reason of simple humanity what hope have we?

  2. Ivor
    September 12th, 2014 at 17:49 | #2

    As @hix showed, there is now a movement towards reassessing growth.

    This is not a “stop all growth” dogma as implied by @hix but a wiser developed argument.

    @hix provided the following link:

    http://steadystate.org/

    But how can you have capitalism and a steady state economy?

    How can you have capitalism and a future for humanity?

  3. faust
    September 12th, 2014 at 22:26 | #3

    I think it is time to reflect whether ultra-loose monetary policy is stoking inflation. There is a new term “shrinkflation” that states the price for a unit of consumer goods does not change but the size of the good shrinks: inflation is felt on a per-ounce cost not in the price paid for it by the consumer. If that is the case, this can only go so far until it comes out in the prices, and when that happens will monetary policy accomodate given the high personal debt rates?

  4. kevin1
    September 13th, 2014 at 00:17 | #4

    Being the biggest fool around, our PM learns nothing, as his comments continue to alternate between stupid and anodyne. Back in April he said about the missing Malaysian plane, “We have very much narrowed down the search area and we are very confident the signals are from the black box…We are confident that we know the position of the black box flight recorder to within some kilometres.”

    With the usual over-reach, he now says that “I am confident our agencies are smarter than terrorists and would-be terrorists and will remain one step ahead of them.” So if a nasty event happens, the agencies are officially discredited and confidence in his judgement on national security is jeopardised. The only silver lining here would be to hasten the day when he gets the boot.

    In a great Crikey article (Sept 9), Bernard Keane reviewed a global terror database in “The deceit at the heart of the terrorism hysteria”, and put the numbers for our local terror tantrum in context. Briefly, most of the 3500 global increase last year has been outside Western countries, in Pakistan, Iraq, Phillipines, Egypt (Afghanistan was down). Most of the 110 extra “events” in the West were in Greece and Ireland, for reasons of austerity and militant Republicanism respectively, ie. by “white Catholic men and Greek anarchists and neo-Nazis”.

  5. Megan
    September 13th, 2014 at 18:28 | #5

    Morrison can’t tell us what is being done in our name to refugees (at least two of whom we’ve killed so far) because of operational matters:

    ”Commenting on operational matters … would be to telegraph tactics employed by the government as to how these measures were handled,”

    Which is rubbish of course.

    But then the government shout that the terrrr alert has gone from medium to high. We’re also told that we need do nothing in response to the raised alert. It’s all about getting the fragile of mind to cower around authority – that’s partly why Shorten is resolutely in lockstep on everything to do with…. everything actually.

    It’s reasonable to ask why operational security shouldn’t require keeping the terrr level secret so the terrrrsts never know when we’re onto them.

    Someone should tell ASIO to update their “FAQ” section on their website:

    Q. What is the current terrorism threat level?

    A. The current level of alert for Australia is Medium – terrorist attack could occur. Further information about the National Terrorist Public Alert System is available on the National Security Website.

  6. Ikonoclast
    September 14th, 2014 at 08:29 | #6

    @Megan

    Yes, this raising of the terror alert is a total beat-up. The danger posed by IS or any other group in the Middle East to the West is negligible.

    However, I agree that when people go overseas to fight in wars that are none of their business it is a very bad thing. So, the first thing the West should do is cease sending troops, carrier groups, fighter aircraft, drones, bombs and weapons to the Middle East.

  7. sunshine
    September 14th, 2014 at 10:24 | #7

    Yesterdays Herald Sun assured readers that ASIO said the raised terror alert is not related to our support for Americas new war on ISIS !

  8. sunshine
    September 14th, 2014 at 10:28 | #8

    Yesterdays Herald Sun assured readers that ASIO said the raised terror alert is not related to our support for Americas new war on ISIS ! On todays beheading video ISIS threaten Americas allies specifically.

  9. J-D
    September 14th, 2014 at 12:01 | #9

    @Ikonoclast

    If somebody wrote ‘when people go overseas to fight in wars it is a very bad thing’ I think I would understand the meaning. But you didn’t write that. You wrote ‘when people go overseas to fight in wars that are none of their business it is a very bad thing’. That makes it look as if you think there is a difference between people fighting in a war that is their business (even if it is overseas) and people fighting in a war that is none of their business. I don’t understand how you would make that distinction. When people went overseas to fight in the Spanish Civil War, was it any of their business? What are the principles that you think apply to deciding that kind of question?

  10. Donald Oats
    September 14th, 2014 at 16:03 | #10

    It is confirmed that Aussie jets will be used in a military capacity, i.e. shooting and bombing, as part of the coalition of countries hoping to counter the ISIL pencil-heads. Every single time Tony has been asked questions concerning whether we would actually commit to fighting ISIL directly, he would weasel-word it, saying that (insert current operations here) while we have offered to provide X, this does not mean we are agreeing to commit to military operations, etc. A day or so after each of these utterances, Tony or another cabinet minister would announce our involvement in a new operation, one which exceeded the previous operation in terms of shift towards direct military involvement.

    Well, we are now there: direct military involvement is war, whether we declare it or not. Surely the Australian public have a right to know when we are at war, and against what exactly?

    While I can understand the reasons why ministers would feel an emotional need to bloody the nose of the ISIL arseholes, they really should take a long hard look at the previous war in Iraq, and consider how they led us into such a diabolical mess in the first place. The Iraq War Mk II should have been a cakewalk; the aftermath wasn’t thought through, no strategy was demonstrated beyond blandishments about helping the Iraqis by training their army, etc. Well, after all that training, the Iraqi army ran away at the first sign of trouble from ISIL. Didn’t it occur to any of these geniuses–the Howard/Bush ministers–that entering Iraq and deposing Saddam Hussein would create a power vacuum? Didn’t they ponder how the other Arab states might consider this an interesting development? Didn’t they think about the rich and complex historical ties (and hatreds) which run through the whole middle east? Nup.

    Where is a war in the middle east going to lead us this time? If ISIL is defeated, what then?

  11. Fran Barlow
    September 14th, 2014 at 17:56 | #11

    From The Onion

    WASHINGTON—Declaring that the terrorist organization’s actions can no longer be ignored, President Obama vowed Wednesday that the United States would use precision airstrikes for as long as needed to ensure that ISIS is divided into dozens of extremist splinter groups. “ISIS poses a significant threat to U.S. interests both overseas and at home, and that is why we are committed to a limited military engagement that will fracture the terrorist network’s leadership and consequently create a myriad of smaller cells, each with its own violent, radical agenda,” said Obama during a prime-time address to the nation, stressing that any campaign to transform the group into a patchwork of volatile jihadist factions will not be performed unilaterally, but rather with the support and cooperation of key allies in the region. “I have already discussed this plan with congressional leaders, and I have no doubt that our efforts will eventually replace this militant organization with many smaller but equally determined groups bent on using extreme brutality to impose fundamentalist Islamic rule. It will not happen overnight, but I can assure the American public that, in time, this group will be defeated, allowing us to focus our attention on the countless threats to homeland security posed by its many immediate successors.” Obama added that while the ISIS campaign will not involve American boots on the ground, he reserves the right to deploy troops should one or more of the spin-off cells grow to be even more powerful.

    Sometimes The Onion does satire. Sometimes it does straight reporting. I’m not sure which of these it is.

  12. Ivor
    September 14th, 2014 at 18:41 | #12

    @J-D

    I opposed Hitler and Mussolini sending people to fight in Spain against the elected government.

    How was it a “Civil War” in Spain if it was being fought between Spanish forces and German and Italian invaders?

    Was Vietnam a Civil War?

  13. J-D
    September 14th, 2014 at 21:24 | #13

    @Ivor

    I’ll answer your questions if you answer mine.

  14. Donald Oats
    September 14th, 2014 at 22:23 | #14
  15. Ivor
    September 14th, 2014 at 22:33 | #15

    @J-D

    For any sensible person the answer is already there.

    “Elected government”.

  16. Ron E Joggles
    September 15th, 2014 at 06:09 | #16

    @Ikonoclast
    Yes, raising the terror alert level serves the Govt quite well – Abbott immediately has a new spring in his step, and Bill Shorten is left with no option other than to totter along behind him. But this happens only because much of the Australian population is fearful, xenophobic, isolationist and deluded.
    As for joining the fight against the IS, however, could we justify doing nothing, knowing that they are slaughtering innocents in extraordinary numbers, and knowing that we, the West, bear responsibility for creating the situation in which the IS thrives?

  17. J-D
    September 15th, 2014 at 07:03 | #17

    @Ivor

    That is an answer to the question ‘What does Ivor approve of?’ but it’s not an answer to the question I asked.

  18. Ivor
    September 15th, 2014 at 07:23 | #18

    @J-D

    Think again.

  19. Ikonoclast
    September 15th, 2014 at 08:13 | #19

    @Ron E Joggles

    Seeing we have made such a mess, what makes us think that more involvement from us will fix things up? It won’t. We should stop interferring in the Middle East. A murder by drone, bomb or shell is no less barbaric than a murder by knife. Shrapnel is multiple, jagged, ugly knives going in everywhere. It’s no different morally. Indeed it’s worse. We are the savages for invading someone else’s lands and trashing whole countries and killing millions of innocents. We need a policy of complete non-interference in M.E. affairs.

  20. Megan
    September 15th, 2014 at 10:27 | #20

    @Ron E Joggles

    If we gave a damn about IS and seriously wanted to stop them doing things “we” would simply tell them so. After all they are a US creation. They are organized, funded, armed, directed and enabled by the US and its anti-Syria/Iran middle east friends – such as the routine ritual beheaders Saudi Arabia.

    It is sad to see how easily so many are waltzed back into another slaughter of Iraqis using their suddenly discovered concern for the wellbeing of those people.

    We’re falling for it again. Destroying the village to save it. I underestimated my compatriot’s gullibility.

  21. Nevil Kingston-Brown
    September 15th, 2014 at 10:55 | #21

    If ISIS is such a threat to freedom why aren’t we sending Tim Wilson?

  22. sunshine
    September 15th, 2014 at 11:04 | #22

    @Ron E Joggles
    Ron, that we bear some responsibility for the creation of IS is the best (and perhaps only) reason I can think of for involvement. No politician would be honest enough to admit that responsibility ,and if we were to get involved we must find a way of helping that doesnt involve blowing more children apart.

    @Ikonoclast

    Further to Iko’s point about barbarism, I think an argument can be made that, if you must kill, it is better to do it with your own hands than from a distance . The knife killer is confronted with the consequences of their deed in a way that the drone pilot is not. In a similar way I think it is more civilised to catch and kill your own meat than to buy it at the supermarket with the bloodshed and torture kept from view.

    3 more points.
    1) I think Labor could have opposed Sir Tonys crusade without jepordising our parent/child relationship with the US. Abstinence may have even strengthened it in the long run .
    2) People with jobs and hope for the future dont go looking for wars to fight in or terror to make. These clashes of religion are mostly about resources not religion.
    3) Terrorists only target countries that they feel threaten them. Unfortunately ,like our leaders ,they are quite paranoid and need an enemy.

  23. Ikonoclast
    September 15th, 2014 at 11:24 | #23

    @Megan

    Well, the IS recruits are a US and allies creation (just like the Mujahideen) but the IS is out of control. I don’t think we can “tell” them anything now. However, if all Western arms suppliers stopped supplying arms to the Middle East that would help. And as I said, we should simply leave the Middle East alone. It’s none of our business and every time we interfere we make matters worse.

    Even if the whole Arab Middle East (sans Israel obviously) became an Islamic state, it would be no match for the USA or China or Russia or India. Indeed, Turkey or Iran or Pakistan could easily counterbalance an Arab Islamic state and keep it in check. There is a lot of unrealistic rubbish going on in Washington and London. A pan-Arab Islamic state is not going to be a superpower ever. Not a chance. So why are they jumping at shadows?

  24. Megan
    September 15th, 2014 at 13:36 | #24

    @Ikonoclast

    I mostly agree but..

    Death and destruction is the goal. Not an unfortunate by-product. “We” are tearing the middle east to pieces deliberately. We have purposely killed over a million Iraqis in a decade. The hypocrisy of crying “humanitarian concern” should be an instant stop to this latest iteration of our illegal wars of aggression in the region. But it seems not.

    Remember, a few weeks after 9/11 General Wesley Clark was in the Pentagon and describes what he was told:

    ‘He reached over on his desk. He picked up a piece of paper. And he said, “I just got this down from upstairs” — meaning the Secretary of Defense’s office — “today.” And he said, “This is a memo that describes how we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.”’

    Everything we’ve done there in the last decade is consistent with that. It has nothing to do with freedom, democracy or humanitarian concerns.

  25. J-D
    September 15th, 2014 at 17:57 | #25

    @Ivor

    I’ll think again if you think again.

  26. J-D
    September 23rd, 2014 at 18:34 | #26

    @Megan

    I don’t know who showed Wesley Clark what in 2001. But I do know that over the five years from 2001 to 2006 the US did not ‘take out’ Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Iran.

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