Home > Oz Politics > Recognising racism (crosspost from Crooked Timber)

Recognising racism (crosspost from Crooked Timber)

September 14th, 2016

Back in 2004, I wrote that

There is only one real instance of political correctness in Australia today and that is that you are never, ever allowed to call anyone a racist.

This was one side of an unspoken agreement among mainstream politicians, the other being that no one would ever make a statement that was overtly and undeniably racist (this was the central content of “political correctness” in its normal usage). Both the use of overtly racist language and the use of the term “racist” in political debate put the speaker outside the Overton Window. The official debate was undertaken in terms of “dog whistle” coded appeals to racism on one side and euphemisms such as “prejudiced” or “racially charged” on the other. The peace was maintained by the fact that the political class as a whole shared a broad neoliberal[^1] consensus in which marginal differences over economic issues were central, and where social/racial issues were primarily seen as a way of motivating the base to vote the right way.

With the rapid rise of tribalism on the political right this tacit agreement is breaking down.

While tribalism (roughly, an identity politics of solidarity with “people like us”) need not, in principle, imply support for racism (I plan more on this soon), the distinction is a fine one, and has broken down completely in practice. There are at least two reasons for this:
* Political tribalism throws up demagogic leaders like Trump, Farage, and (in Australia) Pauline Hanson, whose appeal relies, in large measure on their rejection of political correctness, that is, on their willingness to appeal openly to racism.
* The centrality of migration to current political debate, inevitably bringing race issues to the forefront.

For the same reasons, it seems clear that overt racism is going to be a significant part of politics for the foreseeable future. Individual demagogues like Trump may (or may not) flame out, but the existence of a large base of support for overtly racist policies and politicians is now evident to all, and the agreement that kept this base from having its views expressed in mainstream politics has now broken down.

In response to this it’s necessary to recognise racism as a substantial, if deplorable, political tendency. First, and most obviously, that means abandoning euphemisms, explicitly naming racism and, even more, naming people like Trump and Hanson as racists.

More importantly, identification of policies, parties and politicians as racist needs to be the start of the analysis, not the end. It’s important to recognise that there are different strands of racism, often intertwined in the same political groups, and to distinguish their approaches and potential appeal. To give just a few examples, there’s
* “Scientific” racism epitomized, in the modern period, by The Bell Curve
* “anti-PC” racists, focused on the demand for consequence-free expressions of racist sentiments
* “separate but equal” segregationists, overlapping with
* supporters of racist immigration policies

Even more importantly, it’s important to take racist arguments seriously and respond to them, rather than regarding the fact that they are racist as putting them beyond the pale of serious discussion. As with climate science denial, we might wish that to be the case but it isn’t. On the other hand, also as with climate science denial, there’s no value in engaging with racists.

The problem is to discuss the issue in a way that influences those who can be persuaded, both on the merits of specific issues and on the need to dissociate themselves from racists. That includes people who might be sympathetic to some racist arguments such as “foreigners are stealing our jobs”, but are also open to an explanation of how neoliberalism hurts workers. Again as with climate science denial it also includes professional centrists in politics and the media who need to be pushed out of their preferred position of evenhanded superiority.

There’s lots more to be said on this, and doubtless it will be said in comments, so I’ll leave it at that.

[^1]: As usual, I’m relying on the “three-party analysis” of contemporary politics I put forward here.

Categories: Oz Politics Tags:
  1. Ikonoclast
    September 14th, 2016 at 20:44 | #1

    JQ, I agree with all you have said there. A key idea you mentioned was;

    “The problem is to discuss the issue in a way that influences those who can be persuaded, both on the merits of specific issues and on the need to dissociate themselves from racists.”

    Overt discussions and arguments even directed to “those who can be persuaded” will not be enough in my opinion. The key will be reducing inequality and under-education. I really put the basis of the problem in rising inequality. People pushed down into brutish conditions can react brutishly. Poverty, ignorance and fear and resentment of the “outsider” all go together. It will be a long haul to turn this around. Wrecking social harmony is easy. Wrecking social safety nets is easy. Building all this up again is going to take a long while.

  2. rog
    September 14th, 2016 at 21:49 | #2

    From memory Pauline Hanson was endorsed by the Libs then wrote a letter to the QLD Times alleging that Aborigines were treated differently and said “The problem is that politicians in all their profound wisdom have and are causing a racism problem.”

    For her sins Ms Hanson was tossed out of the Libs and then successfully ran as an independent.

    In her first speech (ironically known as a maiden) she was reported to say “Of course, I will be called racist but, if I can invite whom I want into my home, then I should have the right to have a say in who comes into my country.”

    On a different occasion John Howard said “I don’t think it is wrong, racist, immoral or anything, for a country to say ‘we will decide what the cultural identity and the cultural destiny of this country will be and nobody else’.

    I think racism is mainstream.

  3. Ivor
    September 14th, 2016 at 21:52 | #3

    I cannot see any racism in statements such as:

    to some racist arguments such as “foreigners are stealing our jobs”,

    ,

    Foreigners are not necessarily from different races,

    Racism can exist without foreigners.

  4. paul walter
    September 15th, 2016 at 01:36 | #4

    Ivor dangles an alluring bait.

    I’ve been bagged as “racist” myself by a few asylum seeker advocates because I refuse to see “open borders” as the only or best solution for the people movement issue.

    That is based on events over twenty or thirty years in Europe and elsewhere, where uptakes of new people has not been matched by commensurate spending on lubricating the processes so that “multi culturalism” becomes an excuse for an attack on or”disciplining” of, the”labour market”…in a way you see this in Palestine, where all hope of peace between Palestinians and Israelis is reduced to nix be exclusionary rather than inclusionary polices and spending.

    Quite the opposite, open borders fails in an era of unregulated financialised capitalism where the rich have transferred funds in the$ trillions out of Western countries and Third Worldfailed nations alike, to avoid inputting an equitable share of burden for infrastructure costs, whilst no doubt gloating that blue collar racial conflict or divided nations is a result and one that defers attention away from genuine anti social culprits.

    This is the genesis of the hard, anti intellectual right, in the resentments caused in the wider populace induced by exclusion from inputs into Globalisation and fits the market Libertarian/contrarian goal of weakened government and shooting-alley “unfettered” market theory devoid of OHT, consumer protection, use value while lunatic reductions education, science and news create uncertainty-inducive information vacuums.

    The wastage of $15 billion plus dollars re detention centres is something that would thus offer much comfort to the neoliberal right, as funds are diverted from social infrastructure goals, including enviro regulation capacity, whilst creating precisely the conditions that prop up oligarchy through class warfare seen as race warfare within the masses.

  5. Ikonoclast
    September 15th, 2016 at 06:12 | #5

    Where does exclusionism turn into racism? I ask myself this question. The right to privacy, the right to personal space and the rights to private ownership of goods, chattels and homes all involve exclusion. Using these rights we push other people away and keep them out of our faces and out of our homes. To a real extent, these rights are both necessary and understandable. To remove them would give others the rights to theft, squatting and personal assault.

    Jumping over intra-state racism (to keep the post short), we can move on to the nation state, immigration and refugees. Does the analogy hold? Is national exclusionism a right, in at least some cases? “National sovereignty is the idea that independent nations, which have declared their independence, have an organized government and are self-contained, have a right to exist without other nations interfering. It is essentially the unspoken rule of a nation’s right to exist. Sovereign nations not only have the right to form governments, they have the right to defend themselves against those who pose a threat to their sovereignty.” – Reference dot com.

    That quote might be an acceptable definition of national sovereignty. Let the reader decide. Unregulated immigration and refugee influxes could be seen in some cases as a threat to national sovereignty or as a threat to the cultural, economic or ecological viability of a nation. In that case, a nation might halt immigration and refugee influxes. Conceivably, a fully exclusionary policy would not be racist. “We exclude everybody equally. No racism here.” Would it be acceptable to be fully exclusionist? To let nobody in? I pose these questions hypothetically.

    At this point, I think there are still practical answers which avoid racist responses but are, as always, unavoidably exclusionist albeit on a possibly non-discriminatory basis. Given the political reality of the nations system, and given that a reasonable facsimile of democracy still only exists at the national level and only in some nations, then the sovereign nation must still be taken as a given and indeed as a positive given. In that case and given some realist (realpolitik) assumptions about humans and societies;

    1. Each nation needs a population policy. It is not the case that any nation can grow indefinitely from either one or both of natural increase and immigration. Environmental limits are real.

    2. An immigration policy must set limits which unavoidably are exclusionist to some extent.

    3. Cultural coherence and loyalty to the ideals of the nation do need to be considerations.

    4. Cultural coherence and loyalty need not be so rigidly conceived as to exclude cultural, religious and racial diversity.

    5. Some core cultural coherence and values must be retained and will relate mainly to the constitution, conventions and traditions of governance and law, individual rights and certain accepted standards which might be termed “liberal humanist” or a general tradition of tolerance.

  6. rog
    September 15th, 2016 at 08:50 | #6

    “Cultural coherence and loyalty” is a furphy and smacks of ethnocentricity. It was past govts that removed all means of ethnic, cultural or racial discrimination from immigration law only to have the intent of those laws challenged by Howard and Hanson

  7. Tim Macknay
    September 15th, 2016 at 09:01 | #7

    @Ivor
    What’s the value of parsing a statement without any context? The reason Prof Q identified that as a ‘racist argument’ is because it’s commonly made by politicians or activists in service of a racist agenda; i.e. in order to demonise racial and ethnic minorities. It is never made in any other context.

  8. Tim Macknay
    September 15th, 2016 at 09:34 | #8

    @rog
    I can see where you’re coming from, but I think Ikon is right in the sense that a society needs some kind of common cultural core that enables all its members to participate in it. I think Ikon is on the money in making civic culture, rather than ethnic cultural elements, the common core, although even civic institutions and practices do have ethnic and linguistic histories and elements, which is inescapable.

  9. Ikonoclast
    September 15th, 2016 at 09:50 | #9

    @rog

    That reasoning will rapidly get you into difficulties if you think about it. Are aboriginals not permitted to show cultural coherence and loyalty to the aboriginal cause?

    In turn, the presumption for a sovereign nation under a constitution and the other factors I mentioned presupposes some level of cultural coherence and adherence to certain values. This is unavoidable. Those I mentioned were “liberal humanism” and a general tradition of tolerance. I should have also mentioned democracy and rule of (enlightened) law. With no values we permit anything, including religious and racist fundamentalism for example. We perforce must reject fundamentalisms if we do not subscribe in toto to their values. I make no bones about the fact that I reject Christian fundamentalism, Islamic fundamentalism, Atheistic fundamentalism, Scientistic fundamentalism (like say Social Darwinism) and Market Fundamentalism to name a few. My values are those of scientific and liberal humanism. These are cultural values. They need be and are not specific to your definition of culture which apparently see culture as only ethnic. Culture is wider than that. Scientific-liberal humanism is a set of cultural values; a very tolerant set which however cannot tolerate extreme intolerance of its own values which would lead to its destruction.

  10. Ikonoclast
    September 15th, 2016 at 09:54 | #10

    Correction: “They (cultural values) need not be and are not limited to your definition of culture which apparently sees culture only as ethnic.”

  11. Newtownian
    September 15th, 2016 at 10:06 | #11

    Even more importantly, it’s important to take racist arguments seriously and respond to them, rather than regarding the fact that they are racist as putting them beyond the pale of serious discussion. As with climate science denial, we might wish that to be the case but it isn’t. On the other hand, also as with climate science denial, there’s no value in engaging with racists.

    Minor observations

    – maybe clarify the difference between ‘respond’ and ‘engage’. The two seem to be used interchangably. More precision would be useful. Certainly I’m unclear where the border lies.

    – many people lie on the border where their racism seems commonsense but who have never had their view confronted or analysed their positions. Nor have they been led to consider the dark implications of their ‘beliefs’. Its a tricky situation but one most of us come across often when talking with friends who are otherwise reasonable. Arguably ‘PC’ people should engage with them before they are drawn into the One Nation/Cheerleader media morass.

    – another form of future racism we may now be seeing is media commentators taking a position of ‘balance’ based on nonsense like because Hanson has been elected therefore her position has merit. This worries me greatly as we have seen this ‘equivalence’ argument with climate change discussions including on the ABC and BBC and it has been extremely damaging to climate change action IMO. A possible taste of things to come was an ABC RN journalist, one Tom Switzer interviewing a Trump spokesperson as though the latter is reasonable. Talk about oxygen.

    You can listen to this chilling taste of the future(?) here

    http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/betweenthelines/in-defence-of-trump/7445464

  12. rog
    September 15th, 2016 at 10:11 | #12

    @Tim Macknay The “kind of common cultural core that enables all its members to participate in it” sounds very much like our current form of participatory democracy, with its attendant laws.

    And that should be the end of it! Principles need to be upheld not abandoned.

  13. rog
    September 15th, 2016 at 10:16 | #13

    @Ikonoclast “Are aboriginals not permitted to show cultural coherence and loyalty to the aboriginal cause?”

    Put that in the context of 3) “..to the ideals of the nation..” implies that they are not.

  14. Newtownian
    September 15th, 2016 at 10:24 | #14

    Ivor :
    I cannot see any racism in statements such as:

    to some racist arguments such as “foreigners are stealing our jobs”,

    ,
    Foreigners are not necessarily from different races,
    Racism can exist without foreigners.

    Was this a Dorothy Dixer Ivor? Its so easy to deconstruct. For example:

    – do you mean new migrants or refugees or do you mean carworkers in Germany manufacturing small Holdens instead of here because our government is not terribly concerned about deindustrialization in the manufacturing sector?

    – stealing implies theft and conjurs up images of armed robbers or burglars potentially threatening our physical safety…..talk about a dog whistle trigger.

    – ‘different races’ ….. havent you been reading any modern genetics texts? Apart from a few trivial difference which can be addressed with biochemistry and surgery if one really must be obsessive we are for all practical purposes biologically identical, and not much different from Chimpanzees. Who are these different races? Do you include the Irish or the Swedes or the Italians or the Maltese? Take a look at the appearance of people around the Mediterranean. Their appearances overlap completely between and within countries. Have you taken a genetic test that might show you like most people you are in fact a bit of a genetic mongrel? Which is fine.

    If these werent DD comments then perhaps its time to wake up and realize you have been conned by the oldest trick in imperial book……divide and rule by neoliberal power brokers… much as practiced by British during their own empire data as a really efficient means of controlling a large population without having to put too many boots on the ground. A lesson the US seems to have not understood.

  15. rog
    September 15th, 2016 at 10:32 | #15

    Malcolm Farr said something that agrees with my priors

    Senator Hanson dredged the depths of fear to play to a constituency aching to be assured they are insecure for valid reasons not of their creation.

  16. Ikonoclast
    September 15th, 2016 at 11:09 | #16

    @rog

    The constituency in question are insecure for valid reasons that are not of their direct making. However, these reasons are due to neoliberalism and market fundamentalism and not due to immigration and multicultural policy. This is the tragedy of it. Neoliberal and market fundamentalism makes uneducated people become low-waged or unemployed and then poor and insecure. Next, they fall prey to any rabid right-wing populist simpleton, like Pauline Hanson, or any amoral Machiavellian manipulator like Trump, who comes along.

  17. Tim Macknay
    September 15th, 2016 at 11:21 | #17

    @rog
    We seem to be in heated agreement. I think you were interpreting an abstract statement by Iconoclast as more concrete than it was.

  18. Ikonoclast
    September 15th, 2016 at 12:04 | #18

    @rog

    I disagree. Our formal national ideals now imply aboriginals are permitted to show cultural coherence and loyalty to the aboriginal cause. Our ideals and statements of them, in relation to aboriginals, have evolved. Aboriginals are recognized in the Constitution. Terra Nullius is now wound back at least a bit. There are some native title rights. There is some positive discrimination. However, do we not yet live up to the all the necessary ideals yet, not anywhere near it in fact, so there is still a long way to go.

  19. rog
    September 15th, 2016 at 12:18 | #19

    @Tim Macknay Yes, my mistake.

  20. paul walter
    September 15th, 2016 at 12:50 | #20

    Ikon, re “insecure”, was just thinking the same thing..unemployment, offshoring, the wealthy allowed to get away with tax dodging on an exponential scale,457 visas abused and an oppressive soc sec regime make it inevitable that there are resentments that can be exploited by populist politicians.

    rog, I wouldn’t have thought Malcolm Farr would be the best source on these things. There is an ugly classist slant that denies tangible realities in a different part of town to yourself, perhaps?

    From my end of town it is a dirty system, but few will acknowledge these things in these debates.

  21. rog
    September 15th, 2016 at 13:03 | #21

    Reading comments elsewhere on the matter, I would say ~80% are against Hanson and her speech. Perhaps she has gone just too far and revealed more than anticipated?

  22. may
    September 15th, 2016 at 13:04 | #22

    why is cultural coherence and loyalty a furphy?

    i took a walk up into the bush the other day, the flowers are just coming rolling into the second slow wave of colour, one of many to come before the heat dries everything to
    uh oh.

    not for the first time, it occurred to me that i don’t know the names given by the original locals.

    i have only childhood names like trigger orchid and donkey orchid and the pretty blue one.
    (the Linnaen(sic?) system aside )

    the cultural coherence and loyalty of the original locals has kept the original names.

    i have it within my ability to learn them. (i know people who know the names and haven’t asked them ( more fool me))

    when i do, i will be part of that cultural coherence.

    without lessening the prevailing CC (sorry.saying cultural coherence is getting a bit much.)
    i am also part of that CC which does know the names of those flowers.

    as for the Greens walking out.
    bloody Di Natale abandons the place of parley.
    turning ones’ back in that place doesn’t make the grade.

    it surprised me he didn’t sprint like abbott and the gazelle to the door.

    signed: fed-up-with-stunts-from west-oz.

  23. paul walter
    September 15th, 2016 at 13:26 | #23

    rog, she has gone way too far, but the country now operates in information vacuum that discourages refutation through lack of info..we don’t know if people are still being beaten to death on Nauru or traumatised women sent back to their rapists.

    may, I deeply feel for what you say, but national identity is in danger of becoming”volkische”, given the type of politics dominant at this time.

    The ordinary people should not be blamed or punished though, blame rests with oligarchies and a neoliberal brand of globalisation that relies on conflict for dominance rather than a cooperation within a community… no use value here.

  24. Ivor
    September 15th, 2016 at 16:17 | #24

    @Newtownian

    Your comments do not relate to my post.

    Far too many tangents.

  25. GrueBleen
    September 15th, 2016 at 17:23 | #25

    @Ikonoclast
    Your #10

    What happened in 1961 that was echoed more formally in 1966 ?

  26. Ikonoclast
    September 15th, 2016 at 18:43 | #26

    @GrueBleen

    Are you asking this to be mysterious, to stump me or to make a rhetorical point?

    The closest I can guess is;

    “In 1962, the Menzies Government (1949-1966) amended the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 to enable all Indigenous Australians to enroll to vote in Australian federal elections. In 1965, Queensland became the last state to remove restrictions on Indigenous voting in state elections.”

    or

    “1959 Australians were permitted to sponsor Asian spouses for citizenship.
    1964 Conditions of entry for people of non-European stock were relaxed.”

    Nope? Well, I am still guessing.

  27. paul walter
    September 15th, 2016 at 20:02 | #27

    Neatly played, #26

  28. GrueBleen
    September 15th, 2016 at 22:17 | #28

    @Ikonoclast
    Your #26

    All three ? No it was just so I could drag in some obviously forgotten history.

    In 1961, the long standing Australian magazine The Bulletin was acquired by Kerry Packer and his newly appointed Editor-in-Chief, Donald Horne caused the phrase “Australia for the White Man” to be permanently removed from the magazine’s masthead.

    In 1966 the Immigration Minister, Hubert Opperman (everybody just loves a famous cyclist, right) introduced legislation that effectively ended the White Australia Policy in Australia – though it wasn’t finally completely tidied up until 1973 and Whitlam. You do remember “Two Wongs don’t make a White” ?

    But your answers were good too. Now, for my next trick: in terms of people’s beliefs, what is “the backfire effect” ?

  29. September 16th, 2016 at 18:01 | #29

    Researchers at America’s Harvard University have and they’ve created a simple test to determine if a person is a racist https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/australia/takeatest.html
    It is called an implicit association test, and it measures whether your brain associates good things more with one sort of person than another. It is supposed to reveal whether we subconsciously harbour beliefs about certain types of people….

    Coda:
    https://priceonomics.com/why-is-interracial-marriage-on-the-rise/

  30. paul walter
    September 16th, 2016 at 19:36 | #30

    In the end, things need to come down to this: there has to be confidence in government , open and transparent government involving trustworthy humans prepare to be answerable to the electorate, before the psychic change can come.

    This is directly against current totalising, homogenising and heterogenising trends, involving dodgy secret treaties, cronyism and obsessive tendencies toward surveillance, propaganda as substitute for valid information and dumbing down.

    The sort of thing I think of was covered in the series “Send Them Back Where They Belong”.

    At today s ABC Online is the following epiphany:

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-09-15/how-i-did-a-180-on-nauru/7815860?section=analysis

    Note the atypical circumstances under which this developed.

  31. hc
    September 16th, 2016 at 20:39 | #31

    John, I assume by “racism” you mean hatred of people purely because they belong to a particular race. I think that is close to non-existent in Australia. I think people are concerned about the unbounded pursuit of diversity rather than social cohesion, particularly in our immigration policies. I am such a critic and think we should have a selective migration program that promotes social harmony as well as diversity. It is not a simple policy exercise.

    Australia is a liberal democracy with high community tolerance for those who are tolerant. Those who assign close to zero value to our culture and society (they are mainly on the left of politics) see diversity as a way of enriching a blank canvas on a common property asset that belongs collectively to the world rather than the people resident here. I join with those on the right who utterly oppose such attitudes.

    Pauline Hanson is fearful of rapid social change and gets some of her messages garbled and, indeed, wrong. But she does express real fears about trends in the diversity-promotion industry and should not be ignored and dismissed as a “racist”. Australia is a community of people – not a social science experiment being conducted at the ANU (or UQ) by those on the intellectual left of politics. The theories belong in journal articles, not necessarily in our representative politics because they do not reflect the way Australians think about these issues.

    It is not just opposition to “political correctness” but opposition to a narrow view of Australia as needing a diversity supplementation that many of us find unrealistic and offensive.

  32. paul walter
    September 17th, 2016 at 04:09 | #32

    hc, I disagree that Australians should be worried about”diversity”. We have always been “diverse”, since Irish convicts versus English proprietors. “Diversity” is no problem, we are all human and basic efforts at communication generally lead to a settling down after adjustments.

    People were once wary of “reffos”, then “poms”, then Southern Europeans, than Vietnamese, before the current wave from the Middle East.

    Then there is this strange notion that “leftists” are alleged to look down on their own culture.

    No, I don’t think so, what has happened has been a tendency amongst many intelligent people to question our credentials as “civilised”, particularly involving treatment of Indigenes.

    Given an ugly history of classism and industrial relations already in our county, it was hardly surprising that such questioning people found out eventually how tragic the history of anglo-aboriginal relations has been over two centuries (also a “hidden”history, to some extent involving women, gays and migrants).

    Only last week, for example, came the story of the brutal death of David Dungay at Long Bay jail, again demonstrating that nothing had changed since Mulrunji Doomadgee.

    Our history has not always been a history a “civilised” people should be pleased with and the manifestation of the worst of our culture has continued over the last fifteen years re Africans and Mid Easterners fleeing from wars and dictatorships offshore, often wars and dictatorships sponsored by the West for quite un-civilised reasons.

    People like Alan Jones, Peter Dutton and Hanson are in fact paradigms for the unhealthy tendencies lurking in the darker corners of the Australian psyche (as indeed with all people or tribes of people). The sort of people who play on anxieties out of self interest regardless of harm done others are the ones you could spare a moment to consider, rather than phantom “lefties”.

  33. rog
    September 17th, 2016 at 05:56 | #33

    @hc Racism does not automatically translate to hatred; it is the belief that people can be grouped using racial markers and then treated as superior or inferior. Regardless of their own attributes individuals of these groups are regarded as sharing the characteristics awarded to that group.

    Racism is based on flawed logic.

  34. Julie Thomas
    September 17th, 2016 at 07:10 | #34

    @hc

    I agree with you that people generally do not hate other because they are of a different ‘race’. Most people that I know and these would be very different people from those you know Harry, do not even understand technically what ‘race’ means. They certainly don’t understand the definition of racism.

    But despite not having ordered thoughts about humans and races, they do ‘know’ that black people are not as smart as us white people – they didn’t even invent the wheel you know – they are more violent than us – lots of myths about how the white race is inherently better are unconsciously held until directly challenged with facts and evidence. This challenge has to be face to face with someone they trust.

    They are very wary of people with university degrees. I stopped telling people because of the reactions, that I had been to uni, until they got to know me and then I could reveal my terrible secret. This will change quickly now though, as some of their grandchildren are now going to unis.

    Harry, there is a huge ignorant public out here who have listened to the racists like Bolt for years and who really believe that full blood aborigines are less intelligent. You do know that is why Bolt Picks on white aborigines. He thinks that these ‘aborigines’ are bright enough to make their own way in our world but the ‘full-bloods’ need help because they don’t have any white genes that make them smart enough.

    There is a global group of racist people who are still spreading this eugenics nonsense – like there are people who spread the climate change denial nonsense – and somehow the uneducated and resentful neighbours pick up bits and pieces about ‘races’ and it makes sense to them because of Bolt and the way Murdoch has presented their story.

    “Those who assign close to zero value to our culture and society (they are mainly on the left of politics) ”

    Pfft you are just making this up. It is the right of politics who have denied that there is a society – how could you forget that Thatcher woman and her famous saying? Societies need to be supported and provided with the welfare they need since your economic policies have taken all the jobs and rendered poor and despicable people those who did not want to rip off their neighbours by making a profit rather than making a living.

    It is not the left who destroyed our egalitarian society. The left has always known about and cared for those who suffer from the polices that you and your fellow wealthy white men support.

    Pauline Hanson is just a sad lonely woman who has found herself in a position in which all her petty resentments and hatred can be vented and appreciated by the equally tragic misfits. She has said she went into politics to find like minded people. Clearly she doesn’t make friends with her neighbours. She doesn’t go to local events or try and fit in. She doesn’t go to church. She has made a mess of her personal life. She really should try and fit in with the majority of Australians who didn’t vote for her.

    All she has is a huge sense of entitlement and a hatred of people who have sneered at her over the years. She needs to see someone and get over her psychological issues, get involved in her community and build good communities that way.

    Bottom up cohesion is the only way Harry. You can’t push your top down ideas on us. Come down from your ladder of superiority and get to know the people you talk about.

    It’s so appallingly ignorant of you to pontificate about what my neighbours want – and I have talked to women in my community who voted for Pauline – and they didn’t vote for the reasons you think they did. Lol.

  35. paul walter
    September 17th, 2016 at 07:21 | #35

    btw, I don’t feel I am black arm .

    Both sides of my family have been here for generations. I remember my dad showing me a barn, put up by ancestors on his side, in the Barossa in the 1840’s. The joinery was brilliant and involved the use of hard wood in an era when there were no Black and Deckers to do the hard stuff.

    But the binary that because a person sees achievement and character, this must preclude any examination of darker aspects, is equivalent to putting on a blindfold before a walk along a cliff.

    We could quite easily end Manus/Nauru and add quite a few still rotting in Indonesia.
    If we were in that situation would we not be begging for deliverance?

    What I take as a question as to our current maturity is the government wasting 160 million dollars on something that could be sorted in parliament; gay marriage, let alone !6 billion wasted on detention camps so foully and deliberately mismanaged, that the option of calmly and efficiently processing applications in a civil atmosphere offshore is now gone.

    So sorry, but I feel I am perfectly reasonable when I question what appears to be anomalies in the narrative and I know from sad experience that denial and conceit lead to a fall.

  36. Ivor
    September 17th, 2016 at 09:13 | #36

    This is a slightly different concept of racism.

    Different races are “diverse”, and recognising this is not racism.

    Programs restricted to Australian Aborigines to improve their health, education, housing and services are not racist policies.

    You can recognise differences in all manner of identities, and develop different policies without being racist or sexist or whatever.

  37. Ikonoclast
    September 17th, 2016 at 09:18 | #37

    @paul walter

    As Refugee Action Coalition say “Detention (by) Australia costs $239,000 per year. By contrast, allowing asylum seekers to live in the community while their claims are processed costs just $12,000 per year, one twentieth of the cost of the offshore camps, and even less if they are allowed the right to work.”

    Logically, it would far cheaper, far quicker and more humane to process all asylum seekers in Australia. We could save a lot of that $6 billion, if that is the correct figure. Do you have a source for that?

    Even with a population policy we could do this. Genuine refugees, as per international treaties and definitions, could stay. Non-genuines would be repatriated. Any population increase, over and above targets set to reach a sustainable plateau population in future, would be offset by reducing voluntary immigration intakes accordingly.

    There is no reason that illegal people smuggling could not be combated at the same time. Cooperation with Indonesia could include Australia processing in Indonesia in combination with a commitment to take genuine refugees, repatriate those who don’t qualify and have a fair and reasonable cost sharing arrangement with Indonesia.

    We should also stop joining coalitions to bomb poor nations back to the stone age. These actions have a big push effect on generating refugees. Aid to these nations would help plus progressive reductions and restrictions on the international legal arms trade and stronger action on illegal arms trading.

  38. paul walter
    September 17th, 2016 at 11:48 | #38

    Ikon, the figure of nearly $ 16 billion was mentioned in the news reasonably recently and from memory comes from the UN. I cannot for the life of me find the story googling, though, although it mentioned about a billion for year 2015 elsewhere…although wait up, here we are, from a comment I left elsewhere:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2016/09/12/the-incredible-15-3-billion-asylum-seeker-cost-and-it-s-human-t/?utm_hp_ref=au-homepage

    ok, it’s not the best source but I don’t think they have descended to outright lies yet.

    re my earlier comment on efficient rather than Konzentrationslager places already set up, my point was that need not have failed had it been done properly and in no way precluded doing it here simultaneously and parallel…de- binaried.

  39. may
    September 17th, 2016 at 12:06 | #39

    @23

    ” national identity” is not a thing.
    from currency lads and lasses to what has eventuated.

    we’ve been at it for a couple of hundred years so far.

    a couple of generations back,not that long ago, in Perth you could not sit outside on the pavement and get a cup of coffee.
    the hoohah about mafia and romans and all and all!

    volkische “Pauline” (is she a mick?) is our very own peculiarly Australian canary in the coal mine.

    the changes people must go through, both new comers and receivers,happen in this country in a rather boisterous way.
    we’ve been doing it for yonks and have got reasonably good at it.

    from the end of WW2 millions of people have made the change to being “straiyuns”

    up until the”rationalisations”begun in the 1980s the public service sifted and weighed (horrible phrase but you find a better one) out the bad basta*ds.
    and there were bad basta*ds.
    everybody else just got on with it.

    the “swamping” happening now?
    oh dear!
    remember when it wuz tha “Ayzhuns”?
    swompt! swompt we wuz!
    it wuz terrible! you couldn’t get a pair of gumboots for love or money!

    this all veils (heh) the betrayal and degradation of publically funded government activities for the benefit of profit takers slurping in the public purse.

  40. paul walter
    September 17th, 2016 at 12:07 | #40

    Thinking further, I really mentioned that money, along with the gay marriage plebiscite in relation to a contention that we are a rational society. Context.

    Í was neither endorsing or disendorsing detention centres, which need not have become the monstrous things they have become. I doubt whether a given asylum seeker would have much cared if her application had been done here or offshore, so long as the thing was expedited in a reasonable manner.

    A comment on our supposed level of civilisation, I couldn’t see how’we we could be regarded as “civilised” when there seems such illogic in our decision making and prioritising of employ of scarce resources.

    I could start harping on about our weird and furtive defence spending, but that must wait for another opportunity.

  41. Ernestine Gross
    September 17th, 2016 at 12:36 | #41

    According to the smh, the PM, Malcolm Turnbull, and the member for Benelong, John Alexander, have responded to Paulin Hanson’s speech in the Senate in a manner consistent with Prof Q’s position.

    http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/liberal-mp-john-alexander-says-pauline-hansons-abhorrent-racism-must-be-rejected-20160917-grihzw.html

  42. Ernestine Gross
    September 17th, 2016 at 12:37 | #42

    @Ernestine Gross
    Bennelong not Benelong.

  43. Collin Street
    September 17th, 2016 at 13:47 | #43

    Í was neither endorsing or disendorsing detention centres, which need not have become the monstrous things they have become.

    In abstract theory, maybe. For the offshore ones… in context, or rather considering the context you have to have before you get offshore detention, really not so much.

    There’s really no way that offshore detention centres could be hugely better than they are, because you only get offshore detention centres if there’s things you want to do that you can’t or “can’t” do domestically, and the only things you “can’t” do domestically are things that are not very nice.

    There’s no path that passes through “we want to do possibly illegal probably vile and certainly unpopular things [so we have to do it overseas]” that leads to happy-happy-fun-land with bunnies and puppies.

    If you’re talking about possible onshore detention centres… again, consider where they were: woomera, no? literally the middle of nowhere: out of sight. Why out of sight? … there’s no answer to that question that doesn’t include “because you’re a shitty human being who wants to do shitty things”.

    [and while we could in theory have open onshore detention centres that work… when you’re engineering social change — in the population or the bureaucracy — you have to over-correct, because people’s attitudes are resiliant, bounce back: the change has to be bigger than you need, so that after the bounce-back happens you’re where you want to be. Path dependency: to have a different present we’d have needed to have had a different history.]

  44. jrkrideau
    September 17th, 2016 at 22:47 | #44

    Here in Canada, we have the beginnings of a Conservative Party leadership contest. Various dubious characters are manoeuvring for positions.

    At least one of them, Kelly Leitch, seems to be using the dog-whistle trick of proposing that prospective immigrants be screened for ““anti-Canadian values”. What exactly those are remains a bit of a mystery.

    However one of our highly respected news organs has published a “Canadian Values Test for Immigrants https://www.thebeaverton.com/2016/09/try-kellie-leitchs-canadian-values-test-immigrants/. Australians might find this could be adapted to Australian conditions and provide a useful tool in debates.

    I scored “Deportation” so I may be on a leaky boat to Australia any day now. Oops, gotta go, there’s a knock on the door.

  45. jrkrideau
    September 17th, 2016 at 22:50 | #45

    # 36 Iconoclast

    Judging by the record of the late and unlamented Con Gov’t here in Canada “logical” or “fact-based” decision making is no longer a function of a conservative government.

  46. paul walter
    September 18th, 2016 at 00:17 | #46

    jrkrideau…very nailed it.

    As you head south, look for little boats on the horizon heading in the opposite direction for underlyingly identical reasons.

  47. rog
    September 18th, 2016 at 05:53 | #47

    @Ernestine Gross At least one conservative brave enough to call out Hanson for what she is. The rest eg Howard, Abbott, Cash are obvious for their cavilling.

  48. Julie Thomas
    September 18th, 2016 at 07:22 | #48

    It’s so predictable that Harry looks for and finds the real meaning of Hanson’s ‘message’ for the toiling masses of poor people that he can only imagine having never actually mixed with any of them, in the mixed bag of beliefs that Hanson and her ilk hold.

    He reads – or not – what they say and then simply decides on the basis of his awesome intellect – or something – and wide ranging knowledge of others, – yeah right – what he personally likes and what makes sense to him while ignoring the rest of the message.

    Doesn’t she want a people’s bank and no free trade and no selling off the country to foreigners? That’ll be good for the neo-liberal economics Harry likes and prefers, I don’t think so really, but apparently Harry doesn’t care about this and simply ignores this message in favour of the other stuff she says that fits in with his personal desires to have the world the way he thinks is the best way.

    But according to this article in which the author has actually talked to the people who do vote for Hanson, it is the economic lies people have been told that underpins the rejection of mainstream politics and the Hanson vote.

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/sep/17/meeting-pauline-hansons-voters-silent-screamers-find-their-voice

    It would seem these people who vote for Hanson are more motivated by the economic destruction of the country that has happened and the lack of any future for their children in this economy. Like Harry these people lack the ability to objectively work out at what has happened to our economy and our way of life but unlike Harry they actually are suffering economically or think they are and they actually are compared to Harry who looks down on them as people who didn’t choose well.

    It is despicable that Harry and his kind choose to use this emotional pain to argue for more of what has created their unhappiness

  49. Julie Thomas
    September 18th, 2016 at 07:27 | #49

    Apparently the Hanson team have an economist from the Trump team coming over to help them with their economic policies.

  50. Joe
    September 18th, 2016 at 08:54 | #50

    @jrkrideau
    do you know the brits actually did deport people in canada to Oz as convicts back in the day (when Oz was a convict colony). Not many, a few hundred perhaps. Interesting historical nugget.

  51. Collin Street
    September 18th, 2016 at 09:20 | #51

    It’s possible but unconfirmed that the settlement at botany bay actually originated as a plan to send convicts to another “new south wales”, in what’s now northern manitoba. Someone grabbed the wrong map, people said “… actually that works, you know” and the rest is history.

  52. rog
    September 18th, 2016 at 12:35 | #52

    @Joe Canada Bay, in Sydney Harbour.

  53. Ivor
    September 18th, 2016 at 12:56 | #53

    @Collin Street

    What possible evidence exists for this ????????

    Other sites were considered but no-one grabbed the wrong map.

    The Brits wanted an outpost close to the Spice Islands to balance the Dutch.

  54. GrueBleen
    September 18th, 2016 at 13:53 | #54

    @paul walter
    Your #39

    And who remembers Bonegilla now ?

  55. GrueBleen
    September 18th, 2016 at 14:10 | #55

    @may
    Your #38

    “…the change to being “straiyuns” ”

    Hmm. Some years ago, in 1988 to be precise, the ABC RN broadcast an 8 part series titled “The Dutch Connection”. It was basically interviews with, and spoken ‘essays’ by, Dutch people who’d migrated and become “staiyun-ised”.

    I only remember a few bits of one episode (the 8th, I think) about a Dutch woman who had had a lot of trouble coming to terms with being “austriyun” – she just couldn’t hack it, “austraiya” was just so awful.

    Then apparently one night she was listening to a Dutch radio program (rebroadcast apparently) which described the experiences of an Indonesian man who had migrated to Holland. Oh, Holland is just a really terrible place, he lamented.

    Te Dutch lady had a kind of genteel epiphany: oh, she realised, he is saying about Holland just what I’ve been saying about “austraiya”, namely “This isn’t the same as the place I came from”. She said that after this awakening, she relaxed and started to see Australia not as a ‘failed Holland’ but as itself. And she found that thought here were things she was still not entirely reconciled with, there was also much to enjoy, too.

    So it goes and Bonegilla was a big success. Also, the parrot really is dead.

  56. paul walter
    September 18th, 2016 at 15:40 | #56

    Grueblean, I think I know what you are talking about, coming from Elizabeth in SA arriving in 1960 in the northern part which opened up to paddocks. Following the railway line you reached Smithfield Hostel for migrants. This was an unglamorous place, perhaps going back to ww2.

    Since many of my school mates were poms or Europeans, I learned how unpopular the place was, with lots of digestive infections. I had a dose of hepatitis myself in ’63, when the thing was at minor epidemic levels.

    Some of those mates and I were at Adelaide United’s A league championship win a few months ago, have come to love the sport But not without some fights along the way, way back.

    Tribalism?

    Was that what I have experienced at FB with usually sensible statesiders as to whistle blowers? I have learned that however charming statesiders usually are, it is best to give them a miss during elections, they become irrational and noisy and full of jingo and you don’t dare disagree with whatever hype is in the media.

  57. Donald Oats
    September 18th, 2016 at 16:41 | #57

    Some of the people who voted for Hanson, or, at least didn’t vote for a major party, did so because they live in socially and economically desperate situations. They are sick and tired of the major parties ruining their lives, yet have few avenues for addressing that. Putting people like Hanson at a higher level on their ballot than the major parties is about the best they can do.

    I caught a few minutes of the National Press Club (Adequacy of the Aged Pension), replayed last night on the ABC, and the panel were illustrating this in quite vivid terms: they related conversations with retirees who were so impoverished, they would turn off their hot water for several months of the year, and they would take their meals-on-wheels dinner and divide it up into three portions, eat one third and put the other two portions into the fridge for their next two day’s main meals.

    If that is how current retirees are living, something is very rotten in this country. This expresses itself in how people vote. They don’t necessarily like all that people like Hanson say, but they feel they have no other options but to put people like her ahead of the major parties. It is like what the Americans call a “hail Mary” pass in football, a last desperate roll of the dice. People like Hanson benefit from this.

  58. paul walter
    September 18th, 2016 at 21:00 | #58

    Unfortunately and in a nutshell, Donald Oats.

    All of the current turmoil comes from the long term application of, basically, Thatcherism, for want of a better term. The notion of civilisation building is murdered in favour of a self absorbed, self serving neoliberal feeding frenzy that is its antithesis, as consent manufacture falsely alibiis a sort of Gothic parasitism that valorises the darkest incidental historical distortions of human nature, now become a dominant determinant in human affairs.

  59. TS
    September 18th, 2016 at 23:44 | #59

    Have just read Yanis Varoufakis’ book And the weak suffer what they must.

    Mainly he addresses the breakdown of the Bretton Woods system, both the Nixon Shock of 1971 and Paul Volcker’s subsequent bumping up of interest rates to keep European surpluses circulating through the US (i.e. making Wall Street overpoweringly attractive to investors from the surplus countries of Germany, Japan and later China), and so maintain US predominance in a “controlled disintegration” of the world economic order after the breakdown of Bretton Woods and the Nixon Shock.

    He also some juicy tidbits penetrating insights about German attitudes to the European crisis, and American frustrations with that.

    As to racism, Varoufakis also describes the brutal strategy of the Brussels-Frankfurt-Berlin that is seeing poverty and thus racism flourish in Europe.

  60. hc
    September 19th, 2016 at 09:15 | #60

    @Julie Thomas

    The most wearisome ad hom attack that I have seen in quite a while. Also gets an honourable mention for misrepresentation. Three cheers!!!!!

  61. GrueBleen
    September 19th, 2016 at 09:18 | #61

    @Donald Oats
    Your #55

    This is just a wee bit off-topic I guess, but did the Adequacy of the Aged Pension panel actually provide any numbers for those very poor pensioners ?

    Like, for instance, a single pensioner at the full pension gets $22,721.40 per annum (or about $437 per week) and a pensioner couple gets $34353.40 per annum (or about $658.70 per week).

    In addition, pensioners get all sorts of subsidies – not only Medicare but also Phone Bill discounts, car registration discounts (‘seniors’ pay only 50% of the full car rego in Victoria), travel discounts (50% reduction on Victoria’s public transport), taxi subsidies (if taxi travel is needed for medical reasons), electricity and gas supply discounts etc.

    It’s not a fortune, and you won’t be dining out every night or drinking Grange, but unless one is paying enormous rent, or paying off a large mortgage, it is livable – and there’s even a rent subsidy if that’s your situation.

    So it would be nice if our journos could actually quote some numbers and describe some circumstances so we can make an informed judgement, don’t you think ?

  62. Julie Thomas
    September 19th, 2016 at 10:30 | #62

    @hc

    Ad hom attack? diddums you have been a protected species all your life. Get used to some more of this incisive deconstruction of your irrational and really quite stupid pronouncements about the economy and how it works for real people in a real world.

    But really Harry you attacked me first in my view some time ago when on this blog you had the presumption to assume that I was wealthy enough to donate to charity. What a hoot.

    That exchange verified for me that you really have no idea about the people who are by your economic theory too stupid and lazy to do as well as you have. You think we should be happy with ‘charity’? You give to charities so you can feel good about your self without any conception that charity is not what we need. We need a way to live in the world with dignity.

    You should have applied for the economist position that the Hanson team are employing. If he and it will be a he, comes from the US, we might want to check out the level of violence and lawlessness in that country before we let him in.

  63. GrueBleen
    September 19th, 2016 at 10:49 | #63

    @Julie Thomas
    Your #59

    I always thought that I contributed to charity just by not attempting to minimise (or avoid) my taxation – given the amount of taxpayer largesse that goes to Social Security.

    But I take it you and hc are old friends, yes ?

  64. Julie Thomas
    September 19th, 2016 at 10:56 | #64

    @GrueBleen

    It is possible to live well on the disability pension in these small towns where rent is cheaper and failing to keep up with the neoliberal life style is not as shameful.

    If you are smart and creative and healthy and if you have family who help you out and if you don’t have credit card debts or health problems and if you have the personality type that doesn’t need a social life and if you have the internet, it is just fine really.

    Beautiful country, fantastic sunsets and sunrises and the stars in the night sky without electric lights are unbelieveably ‘spiritual’ and the long very nicely cambered curves on the long road into town after one turns off the highway are a treat to drive even in my old car. My neighbour who has his back yard full of old cars – even older than mine – that he will do up one day, drives it at 160 klm in his new car or so he told me when I boasted of getting up to 130. He is still working that is why he affords a new car with a sunroof.

    It is having family that makes life rich for me. My children fix my computers, my car, buy cheap stuff for me from the internet and make sure I am okay in so many ways but if I didn’t have that sort of support I’d have to kill myself.

    Health problems require a lot of travel to hospitals and medical places in the big town and the cost of all the medications that make drug companies so rich are also a huge problem for the poor pensioners I know. And the other things that exacerbate all the physical health problems are the depression and anxiety that comes from living in an economy that says there is no such thing as society.

  65. Julie Thomas
    September 19th, 2016 at 10:58 | #65

    @GrueBleen

    Nup one exchange only, since you ask. hc is Harry Clarke who has a blog.

  66. Ivor
    September 19th, 2016 at 11:00 | #66

    @GrueBleen

    If you use the Centrelink estimator, an aged pensioner gets $1004 fn after tax including supplement, rent assistance and energy assistance.

    Weekly 1 bed flat rents are around $200 per week with no security of tenure.

    This is 40% of a single aged pensioners income.

    For 14 days spending on food, clothing, phone, travel, entertainment, medical and energy, they have just $57 per day for the rest of their lives.

    If they own their own home, rates, water and sewerage, repairs, and lawn mowing etc at least equals $200 a week and they get no rent assistance.

    If the same pensioner also has a small residual mortgage to pay – things are worse.

    Hopefully in the future, most people reaching retirement will have some superannuation to boost their income.

  67. Julie Thomas
    September 19th, 2016 at 12:40 | #67

    @Ivor

    And moving home is so very expensive if you can only get short term tenancies.

    Renting with only short term leases is expensive because there are standard charges for moving – like carpet cleaning, pest control that have to be done even if the work is guaranteed for 12 months and the lease is only for 6 months.

    Changing the focus here because seriously it is a doddle being poor at this time of my life. Being poor and without any support while raising children was hell and precarious renting is especially bad for single parents because it negatively affects the children and their future chances in life.

    “Moving to a new town or even a new neighborhood is stressful at any age, but a new study shows that frequent relocations in childhood are related to poorer well-being in adulthood, especially among people who are more introverted or neurotic.”

    lol I’ll vouch for that.

    http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2010/06/moving-well-being.aspx

    It is much easier for well-off people to negate to some extent the negative effects for children that come from having to move often; almost impossible for poor people but neo-liberal economics expects labour to be free to move wherever it is more efficient for the profit takers to create the work and bugger the consequences of this policy on the quality of the future human capital that is being destroyed.

  68. Julie Thomas
    September 19th, 2016 at 12:42 | #68

    And moving home is so very expensive if you can only get short term tenancies.

    Renting with only short term leases is expensive because there are standard charges for moving – like carpet cleaning, pest control that have to be done even if the work is guaranteed for 12 months and the lease is only for 6 months. Very inefficient and stupid.

    We are way off topic here but seriously it is a doddle for me being poor at this time of my life. Being poor and without any support while raising children was hell and precarious renting is especially bad for single parents because it negatively affects the children and their future chances in life.

    “Moving to a new town or even a new neighborhood is stressful at any age, but a new study shows that frequent relocations in childhood are related to poorer well-being in adulthood, especially among people who are more introverted or neurotic.”

    lol I’ll vouch for that.

    http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2010/06/moving-well-being.aspx

    It is much easier for well-off people to negate to some extent the negative effects for children that come from having to move often; almost impossible for poor people but neo-liberal economics expects labour to be free to move wherever it is more efficient for the profit takers to create the work and bugger the consequences of this policy on the quality of the future human capital that is being destroyed.

  69. Ikonoclast
    September 19th, 2016 at 13:25 | #69

    @Julie Thomas

    “If I didn’t have that sort of support I’d have to kill myself.”

    I think if we are all honest with ourselves we would admit this. Even those who are fully able in every sense (a fully healthy, compos mentis adult person with safe income or saleable skills for a living and also acceptable social skills for social interaction) will still realise they greatly depend on others, if they are honest. How many of us could grow food and/or hunt and gather food if there were no shops and supermarkets to go to? Very few of us, and that is just one example.

    I have asked myself how I would cope after the adult kids move out (please let it happen soon!) and if I lost my wife (please don’t let it happen!).

    However, I have answered the question for myself. I think I would cope by radically simplifying my life at home (minimalism it’s called) and taking up some new interests which brought me into more contact with other people. On the first count, I would actually treat minimalistic single living as a fun and interesting challenge. Let us realistically assume that this is after a difficult grief adjustment period which I naturally would suffer. I would seriously consider selling my current house and property (too big) and moving to a smaller property. My bias would be towards the same suburb or near environs but a smaller, detached house on say 600 sq.m. and across the road from some bush. This would be possible where I live. 2 bedrooms and a study would do, plus one bathroom, one dunny etc. if there is any house small enough. They are all too big these days.

    I would make sure this house was in cycling distance of a supermarket via firm, wide, bush tracks; also possible where I live. I would then adopt the following procedures. I would live without a fridge and without cooking except maybe for some very basic stuff. I might have a microwave, a toaster and use one hotplate occasionally. I might make a Coolgardie safe to keep milk and vegetables for a day or two. I would eat a lot of raw goods, salads, nuts, meusli, and stuff. Maybe boiled eggs. Meat, maybe a bit of deli meat used on day of purchase. When I wanted a decent baked or roasted meal, maybe once or twice a week, I would go to the local tavern or gambling club (where I would neither drink alcohol nor gamble as I never do either of these two things anyway) and take advantage of their meals as prices are a bit subsidised by the drinkers and gamblers. No cooking and no kitchen mess! What’s not to like?

    I would implement a “one of everything” policy to some extent. The house would be relatively bare. I would have 1 plate, 1 knife, 1 fork, 1 spoon, 1 teaspoon, 1 cup etc. You get the picture. Yes, I would also have 1 armchair, 1 TV, 1 PC, 1 bicycle, 1 car, 1 kitchen table with 1 chair and so on. I would have a futon not a bed. I would have however, 14 of everything wearable and do the washing about once a week.

    It would be easy to live simply and economically. But I admit I do have enough of my own money and income to make this above workable without a Centrelink pension.

    However, if I found loneliness intolerable or unresolvable or I started developing physical, neurological or psychological problems which I could see had a bad progressive diagnosis, I might plan ahead to kill myself (maybe). But I would discuss that with someone I trusted, maybe an appropriate health professional, and ask questions and get advice and think long and hard before doing anything rash.

    My wife’s opinion on this? I am sure she would channel Mr. Bennett.

    “My dear, do not give way to such gloomy thoughts. Let us hope for better things. Let us flatter ourselves, that I might outlive you.”

  70. Moz of Yarramulla
    September 19th, 2016 at 13:46 | #70

    Weekly 1 bed flat rents are around $200 per week … they have just $57 per day

    Assuming they’re willing to move from where they’ve spent their lives to somewhere that’s cheaper. If you’re silly enough to be forced out of a house in Redfern now that it’s become popular you’re looking at 100% of that on rent. I’ve lived in apartments in Marrickville where there were older folk renting, and things could get very ugly for them very quickly. If somehow they became unable to climb 4 flights of stairs to get to their apartment, for example, they’d be housebound or need to move to somewhere more expensive or much further out, on the ground floor. Or much more expensive, with a lift.

    When we were looking at buying we looked at one “investor special” where it appeared likely the previous occupant had been housebound and also a cat-owner. You’d need to take it back to bare concrete then epoxy varnish it, because you’re never going to get that smell out. But the smell was not strictly *cat* pee…

  71. Moz of Yarramulla
    September 19th, 2016 at 13:52 | #71

    Also, the tribalism thing crosses over with same sex marriage on this one. ClubTroppo sees an interesting justification for the plebescite much as above – the angry excluded feel that they should be heard, and if voting against in the plebescite helps them feel heard, we should have the plebescite. I don’t think throwing gays under the bus is a good solution to the problem of social exclusion of poor people.

    Prof Q carefully excludes another category of racists above, who I would call “genocidal”. Basically those who think our treatment of Aboriginal Australians is only wrong because they still exist. reaching out to them… tricky. Same as with the biblical Christians, who feel they have compromised too far by allowing homosexuality to be legalised.

  72. GrueBleen
    September 19th, 2016 at 17:19 | #72

    @Ivor
    Your #66

    Not really living on Easy Street then, is it Ivor. You’d need a fair bit of what Julie is saying – and very particularly family support – or things could get quite bleak quite soon.

    However, provided that one is reasonably healthy and mobile – because you wouldn’t want to be trying to pay, even at 50% rate, for rego, CTP, a bit of public risk insurance, services at least once a year plus weekly petrol, just to be able to get around.

    I guess an “ideal” solution might be a family that can put in a granny flat out the back for the ‘olds’ – at least for he ‘olds’, I guess, unless his ‘olds’ also have nowhere to go. And it sure fixes the family to a particular spot.

    But on the other hand, I had lunch at a Chinese stall at Chadstone Shopping Mall today, and a very large serve of chicken and noodles – basically enough for lunch and most of dinner, and quite nicely edible, too – cost me $9.50. So if one can get about, they probably won’t starve. At least not in the first week.

  73. GrueBleen
    September 19th, 2016 at 17:41 | #73

    @Julie Thomas
    Your #64

    You don’t get as much for your disability as we oldies get for our “disability” of age.

    Yes, clearly, you have a restrained existence – though I’m just a bit envious of your ability to see the night sky minus light pollution. I haven’t seen the Milky Way (which is basically what the word ‘galaxy’ means as I imagine you are aware). I can still see the triple-star system of Alpha Centauri (the brighter, further pointer to Crucis), and the double star system Sirius the Dog Star. Oh well.

    Personally, though, my ‘social life’ doesn’t much depend on people, though I do have lunches – at the rate of about once a month – with some ex-colleagues. Just as well I don’t have a penchant for following football teams (especially interstate) or a compulsion to watch live performances of opera (and Dietrich Fischer Dieskau is dead anyway, so I’ll never see him perform in Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg now). And the last movie I went to, and enjoyed, was the very first Alien (1979). Sheesh, I may have to take up chess again 🙁

    But I know what you mean about Health related travel – which is why I’m still within fairly close range of the Box Hill Hospital and not much further to Monash. And very likely to stay so.

    Annd yes, you are indeed very fortunate to have involved, caring family.

  74. Julie Thomas
    September 19th, 2016 at 18:24 | #74

    There was a time when I was childfree and it was wonderful. Like you imagine doing, I had the house exactly as I like it and ate what I wanted and did what I wanted. But when my only daughter kicked youngest son out of her house, he had nowhere to go but back home with his debts his bass and a big attitude problem.

    We are all good now but the ability to mediate those sorts of family fights and get through them is so often beyond the capacity of poor families. They don’t go to Relationships Australia when the marriage is starting to go bad. Won’t see a psychologist because those things cost money and there is always something more important for the money to go on like dental care or school excursions.

    Poor people don’t have anyone sensible to advise them on how to raise their children to not be resentful of the unfairness of a world in which there is a Paris Hilton and her sort of wealth. It is not easy to raise intelligent and capable children but it is so stupid to waste these children because of our mistaken belief that the poor are always stupid and lazy.

    I am not a typical poor person with my state provided university education when I was a single parent back in the day of social security before it became Centrelink and people became customers so I do much better than my neighbours do in keeping the family together and resolving the problems that create family breakdowns that exacerbate the problems of being poor in a rich world.

    I think GB you are far too insouciant about how the poor can overcome their poverty by buying noodles for lunch. That really is one of the most ignorant things I have heard; along the lines of the Marie Antoinette myth of let them eat cake.

    People who are poor are so beaten down and have been made helpless by the idea that they deserve their poverty rather than it being the way I remember when I was young when polite nice people said that the poor were just down on their luck.

    Now because of the relentless trash talk about single mothers and dole bludgers that has been going on for decades we poor people all know that if we are not doing well and not climbing the ladder we must be stupid and lazy and not working hard enough or, and the right wing people tend to do this, complain how they were held back by the government regulations that killed all their business ventures.

    It is so much more difficult to raise a good citizens when the parents are disrespected by the broader community. Kids read the papers and they can’t help but internalise the ideas about their parents being leaners and then the parent has less authority and respect from them and handing out advice is a bit tricky.

    Poor health and immobility that make people poorer than they should be and this is the major problem but who or what causes this ill health? There is a Boyer Lecture series on RN “Health Inequalities and the causes of the causes” which is worth reading – there is a transcript.

    There is no ideal solution. GB. Why would there be? Diversity is the thing.

  75. Julie Thomas
    September 19th, 2016 at 18:33 | #75

    @GrueBleen

    I thought that the disability is the same amount as the age pension. It is only two years until I am old enough unless the age is upped to 70. But also I am better off than most because I do have another source of income and people are allowed to earn extra – not sure how much – before the pension decreases.

    I make things – amazing hats and things for ladies – and I sell them in a local cooperative craft shop.

  76. Ikonoclast
    September 19th, 2016 at 18:45 | #76

    This thread has turned into chatting over the back fence. Nothing wrong with that. I have contributed in that vein myself. But it is off-topic. Now, has someone created a blog called “Over the Back Fence”? I bet they have. Must have.

  77. Newtownian
    September 19th, 2016 at 19:10 | #77

    @Ikonoclast

    However, I have answered the question for myself. I think I would cope by radically simplifying my life at home (minimalism it’s called) and taking up some new interests which brought me into more contact with other people.

    What a wonderful list…..like Penelope Keith and the Good Life this definitely demands deconstruction:

    1. You want to not have an oven or a fridge and washing machine….but you want a car!? Time to do some LCA maybe.
    2. What happenned to heating, plumbing and insulation and all the stuff inbuilt into this new house? And power – even solar PV and solar hot water need to be on the wish list? Or do you plan a bush shower from Ray’s outdoors (bucket of 10L is feasable but you need to heat the water).
    3. 600 m2!? Where are you? They seldom sell blocks that big these days.
    4. Your dream house sounds like ours……about 100 m2…..leaving 500 m2 for veggies etc. but you dont discuss (the limits of) self-sufficiency, nutrient cycling etc. necessary for it to be sustainable.
    5. What about the water cycle…..composting loo? rainwater? (needs a big tank for sustainability). Good luck with council. And rubbish/waste. Backyard constructed wetlands? (Do a nutrient balance first here as well).
    6. “take advantage of their meals as prices are a bit subsidised by the drinkers and gamblers” Have you been to a club lately? They are all gentrifying.
    7. Council/state infrastructure especially roads which like it or not you own and need directly or indirectly especially for the car?
    8. Coolgardie safe…remind me not to drink your milk during summer especially if its raw/natural
    etc.

    Dont get me wrong Ikon. I sympathise and you are part right in principle. Certainly we can live more simply that others might simply live and share this country on much much less per capita …..(bringing it back to the primary topic of racism borne of illusions of people who will never think they have enough).

    But how to get to Ecotopia without being a masochist is the question…..and convincing the rest who see McMansions as something to aspire to? The hippies of the past found how little you can survive on. But was it sustainable?

    Consider some full blown efforts in this direction which illustrate the complications like 1) http://simplicityinstitute.org/why-simplicity 2) http://www.permaculturevisions.com/difference-between-organic-gardening-and-permaculture/ and 3) http://www.cat.org.uk/index.html . Leaving Ted Trainer aside

    no. 2) is interesting for all the high tech inputs to permaculture which are illustrated or implied…..there are windmills and water tanks implying high tech electrical systems, probably batteries for storage, house wiring etc…..and a plastic industry to make the tanks and trucks to transport them. Then there is the wood fire/stove. Needs steel and glass industries and these even when efficient will churn through woodlots in a way a city could never sustain.
    as to no. 3) the legendary CAT. I visited the place a few months back. Surficially it was similar in aims to when it commenced 35 years ago. But their oral history revealed the collapse of the original green/anarchism dream and the rise of managerialism as a result of the books not balancing.

    So regarding your final conclusion

    It would be easy to live simply and economically.

    While it sounds simple and looks surficially possible its not quite that easy in reality/as an alternative to thecurrent industrial system. And for the whole of society to do it will require sometime akin to a revolution in human civilization.

  78. GrueBleen
    September 20th, 2016 at 03:29 | #78

    @Julie Thomas
    Your #75

    I had a quick look at the Centrelink site and the Disability Pension didn’t seem to be quite the same as the Aged Pension, but maybe I just didn’t look carefully enough.

    Marie Antoinette is mythically supposed to have recommended not cake, but brioche.

  79. Ikonoclast
    September 20th, 2016 at 06:52 | #79

    @Newtownian

    The minimalism I was suggesting was more about selfishly simplifying my life if living alone and not about saving the planet. Perhaps it should have been about the latter more. However, your criticisms imply a completely unrealistic approach to sustainability. It would only work (maybe) if the global population went back to about 1 billion and we went back to an 18th C lifestyle. Are you volunteering to be one of the six billion to die off? That actually all might happen if we have seriously overshot limits. In the meantime, realistically, we need to plateau populations, switch progressively to renewables and seek a soft landing not a hard landing. We need to do all this while realising that 3.5 billion people cannot move back to the country, backyard veggie gardens cannot feed 3.5 billion people in cities and composting toilets in cities would be a worse ground and water table pollution crisis many times over compared to a properly run mass sewerage system. Not saying our current systems do the right thing environmentally though.

    However, re the deconstruction.

    1. I would have an oven as it would probably come with the house as standard. I simply wouldn’t use it. I hate cleaning ovens and a pyrolytic one would chew power. When I could bicycle to the supermarket each day via short bush tracks (easy where I would live in the scenario) I wouldn’t need a fridge, maybe,. I would have a washing machine and use it. I would have a car while I could still drive. It might be a small electric car.

    2.I live in Queensland m8, so no need for heating. Solar hot water and solar panels would do for hot water and power. I have them now. I would buy an existing house, not build anew. Plumbing and insulation and all the stuff inbuilt into the house? Already there, mate. Anyway, passive design requires insulation for example. Are you implying insulation is bad even when it saves energy use above energy cost of manufacture, transport and installation?

    3. Fringe of Brisbane. I currently live on 6,000 sq m so 600 sq m would seem quite modest. Not sure I want to be that close to other non-family people but that’s just a personal choice. I’m a misanthrope.

    4. Veggie gardening individually is highly inefficient. If 7 billion people lived like that… well half of them would die.

    5. What about the water cycle…..composting loo? rainwater? Again, not realistic since over 3.5 billion people already live in cities.

    6. I haven’t been to a club or pub for yonks. I imagine I could buy a meal there and get a glass of water or juice. I’ve boycotted them for 30 years. It didn’t stop them. It ain’t my fault they exist mate. If the average person had boycotted them as I did, they would have all gone broke long ago.

    7. If 3.5 billion plus city dwellers can’t go back to cottage sustainability living what use would my tokenistic effort be? Sustainability needs to be envisaged realistically from our current situation, which means maintaining sustainable cities and centralised services. Do you really think say 2 million composting toilets in Sydney is realistic or efficient or environmentally sound? But I have covered that point.

    8. Coolgardie safe…etc. Milk would be pasteurised. If it became a problem I would get a small fridge. I am not that fanatical.

    Overall, dark green fundamentalism (I flirted with it myself for while) is not going to cut the mustard of dealing with our mass civilisational problems. We need a realistic plan from where we are. Of course a combination of dark green and doom prepper survivalism might be on the cards if we have overshot the natural limits badly enough. If anyone over 40 survives into that era, they will wish they hadn’t.

  80. Julie Thomas
    September 20th, 2016 at 07:03 | #80

    @GrueBleen

    Good news then I can have expectations for more of that terrific taxpayer money that I just love to steal from hardworking people, when I get old. Can’t wait to be vilified some more for my lack of ability to climb the ladder of success and support myself.

    It is very difficult to find out anything from a Centrelink site for people who don’t do that sort of language.

    Understanding the rules is another problem for people needing social support and also for those working at Centrelink who have to deal with the frustration and tears and worse from their customers. I do believe they burn out pretty quickly.

    Filling in the forms to claim for any of the benefits requires a level of reading comprehension that is above that of, I think I read once, about 30% of the general population. And being organised enough to keep track of ones documentation while leading a disorganised life that is all that so many of we dysfunctiona, lazy and stupid people deliberately choose is another problem.

    Having a pet is another of the things that poor people can’t afford these days because the standard of care has just escalated and yet pets are very good for improving the health of lonely and sick people but vets are very expensive and so clever at insinuating that more expensive care is needed.

    All these little insults to people’s dignity and the assaults on our freedom to live without being told what to do and what to buy by those who want to make a profit from our lives, have taken away the hope for future prosperity that we did have in the ’70’s.

    And Marie Antoinette was just as deluded about the reality of the lives poor people lead as a well off neo-liberal economist today who never associates or even sees the hoi polloi or former working class in their environment and can’t understand the problems that that ideology has caused for some of us.

    But I think she behaved well throughout the ordeal of her imprisonment and her execution.

  81. Ikonoclast
    September 20th, 2016 at 08:36 | #81

    @Julie Thomas

    I worked in the old Social Security and then Centrelink. I am now retired and have been for nearly a decade. My knowledge of particular technical issues re welfare policy and practice is now dated. My knowledge of the welfare question and its fundamental issues is not dated. Indeed, the value of such knowledge and experience will endure while our current mass society endures. The essential principles remain the same. Of course, society threw me and my experience and knowledge on the scrap heap. I was not wanted because I was an internal dissenter in the system. I am not complaining personally. I am in a comfortable situation.

    I would like to refer to your main two points. They resonate with me as substantially correct. I can say this from having been inside the system, looking out at people forced to use it.

    1. “Can’t wait to be vilified etc…” Yes, this is correct about the system. The current system as political economy ideology and administrative practice routinely vilifies and denigrates people without a personal income and/or without a job. First, it sets up a system where there is a failure to provide an adequate number of jobs. It does not have to be that way. Theorists from heterodox MMT economists to orthodox Keynesians have demonstrated and know how to generate full employment for all able people who wish to work (and most do). Second, the system then vilifies and denigrates people forced to endure the systemic failure to provide adequate jobs and adequate welfare. Sure, personal failures exist too but they are mostly due to pre-occuring misfortunes. Staff did their best. The great majority were and are people of good will who do want to help people who need welfare. However, the governments (mainly Howard and the Libs) put us in a straitjacket of ill-conceived and heartless policy while cutting costs and staff.

    2. “Understanding the rules is another problem” That is absolutely correct. When I was there, many staff in Centrelink ,even experienced ones, could not understand all the rules all the time. The entire system of legislation, policy, interim policy directives, manuals, computer systems, system releases and endless change was bafflingly complex even for the smartest person on the inside.

    The need for such complexity and obfuscation in policy is not really there. It is an ideological overlay intended to again put people in straight-jackets of control and save money for less worthwhile things like unnecessary overseas wars and multi-billion dollar costing refugee gulags in the Pacific. The intended savings from complex policy were overtly meant to come from fine targeting to welfare need. Part of the real savings came from not meeting real welfare needs at all. We know payments are unrealistically low and hard to qualify for, for people especially on the unemployment and invalid benefits.

    But on the issue of fine targeting for welfare need, I made the statement in a meeting “We cannot target finer than our measurement error.” That went over like a lead balloon. Being tactless, I said to a bunch of managers, “You do know what measurement error is don’t you?” Policy is too complicated, forms are too complicated and people provide poor data because they don’t understand the forms etc. A radical welfare simplification is possible but not ideologically acceptable to neoliberalism. I won’t go into the nuts and bolts of that here. That’s more a sandpit thing.

  82. Julie Thomas
    September 20th, 2016 at 10:01 | #82

    @Ikonoclast

    Thanks for being you back in the social security and early Centrelink days.

    I did come across some really decent people back when I was very dysfunctional who helped me to survive until I did manage to work out what was ‘wrong’ with me and how to live with it without causing too much grief to other people.

  83. Ikonoclast
    September 20th, 2016 at 10:39 | #83

    @Julie Thomas

    The bulk of ordinary people are okay, speaking of kindness etc., towards people they identify with or understand. There is a problem sometimes when they don’t understand or identify. The bulk of people who rise to the very top of our society management-wise and politically are not okay. Part of it is the selection process. A bad or compromised system, the latter which is what we have, selects bad people. This is pretty much axiomatic. Others who were once basically good get corrupted. Excess wealth and power corrupt people, again almost inevitably. The only way to deal with this is to distribute power and wealth much more democratically and evenly. This would actually unleash stocks of human potential which would made our current system look horrendously dysfunctional and inefficient by comparison.

  84. GrueBleen
    September 20th, 2016 at 14:25 | #84

    @Ikonoclast
    Your #79

    Psst Ikono, what about UHT long life milk ? Good for months before being opened and weeks after – though you do need to keep it cool.

    However, and here’s a truly radical thought, what about milk powder ? Just a teaspoon with some water now and then ? Or condensed or evaporated ?

  85. GrueBleen
    September 20th, 2016 at 14:42 | #85

    @Ikonoclast
    Your #83

    I remember a scene in the 1965 movie ‘The Collector’ when the Samantha Eggar character (ie the ‘collected one’) muses on the Terence Stamp character (the collecting one) and his capacity for empathy, or even just sympathy. She opines that face to face with a poor suffering human being, he is capable of sincere sympathy and charity, but faced with the more ‘abstract’ notion of ‘suffering humanity’, he is simply unable to identify with peoples and unable to support ‘safety nets and social services’ in general.

    Sorta like Julie’s ‘poors’ – see one in the street begging and he might generously contribute. Have to vote on setting up systems to attempt to address poverty in general, and he can’t approve. I find myself being a bit like that at times, but at least I can kinda recognise it and adjust accordingly. Most of the time.

  86. GrueBleen
    September 20th, 2016 at 15:09 | #86

    @Ikonoclast
    Your #81

    Hmm, so you had managers who had probably never even heard of the concept of ‘measurement error/uncertainty’.

    Personally, I find that this is due to intelligence deficient kids being taught by intelligence deficient teachers. And not only intelligence deficient, but greatly skill and knowledge deficient also. Not that I entirely accept the old saw about “those who can, do …” but neither can I entirely disbelieve it, either.

    Some numbers courtesy Wikip:

    Mean (and modal and median too, IQ being a Log-Normal distribution) = 100 (standardised)
    Standard deviation – 15 points.

    And:
    Less than 85 IQ = 5%
    85 – 115 IQ = 66.7% (ie 2/3rds within mean +/- 1 sd)
    116 – 125 = 22.3%
    Above 125 = 5%

    In my old days in EDP/ADP/IT/ICT (whichever name you prefer) which is an IQ ‘top heavy’ profession (at least it was back then), I used to reckon that in a project of about 100 people, only those above mean + 1 sd knew what they were doing (ie less than 1/3rd), and only those above mean + 2 sd really knew what they were doing – ie roughly 4 people per 100. And it was on those 4 giving sensible and capable lead to the less than 1/3rd who could intelligently follow that lead, that the success or failure of the project depended.

    But never mind, now we have -tada – the Flynn Effect ! In another millennium or three, the human race will all be geniuses !

  87. Julie Thomas
    September 20th, 2016 at 15:59 | #87

    @GrueBleen

    Sigh 🙂 “Personally, I find that this is due to intelligence deficient kids being taught by intelligence deficient teachers. ”

    You would have regarded me as one of those intelligence deficient kids. Everyone thought I was stupid at school and my father kept telling me I was very smart so I thought he must be stupid too.

    But as it happened the social worker at the Social Security office who practically blackmailed me into enrolling in a degree course was right when she assured me that I wasn’t stupid. It turned out that I am really good at things like understanding complex and abstract concepts and even stats especially multivariate stats . Not any more though 🙂 It’s all gone and now I just look at pictures of hats.

    Anyway so despite being expelled from kindegarten and spending most of my school life outside the class room in disgrace, I did well enough at Uni as a mature age student to graduate with distinction and then first class hons and then be asked to do a PhD funded by an Australian Research Council Postgraduate Grant.

    I don’t think that my ‘poors’ are unintelligent and I don’t think it is stupidity that creates bad managers or bad workers; it is the system; an economy without a society allows for the creation of hierarchies with so many levels that those at the top can’t even believe in the people at the bottom.

  88. GrueBleen
    September 20th, 2016 at 16:46 | #88

    @Julie Thomas
    Your #87

    Maybe I would, Julie, and maybe I wouldn’t – have regarded you as ‘intelligence deficient’. But as you were once proficient in multivariate statistics, I think that you can understand that you were (and are ?) just one of many hundreds. When I commenced ‘High School’ in 1955, there were about 230 other kids in ‘Form 1’ (aka Year 7). By the time we got to Matriculation (aka Year 12) there was a mere 35 left, of which about 20 actually passed the matriculation exams (and nearly all went on to Uni).

    I’m happily impressed that you went on to success at Uni. I, as I may have previously mentioned, did not. I do not know why your talents were ‘under a bushel’ nor whether that significantly contributed to your early life difficulties, but I kinda suspect it might have.

    Anyway, I don’t believe that ‘poors’ (yours or anybody’s) are inherently ‘intelligence deficient’ – intelligence is very likely to be, like IQ, a ‘Log-Normal Distribution’. But perhaps you might take note of what Alfred Binet – the ‘originator’ of testing intelligence – was actually doing. A quote from Wikip:

    The French Ministry of Education asked psychologist Alfred Binet to devise a method that would determine which students did not learn effectively from regular classroom instruction so they could be given remedial work. Along with his collaborator Théodore Simon, Binet published revisions of his intelligence scale in 1908 and 1911, the last appearing just before his death.

    So do note that Binet was not testing for ‘IQ’ – that gross reification came much later in the hands of the likes of Lewis Terman and his very long ‘longitudinal study’ of so-called gifted American High School students – and after his creation of the ‘Stanford-Binet IQ Scale’.

    But of one thing I am very convinced: incompetence is all about us, ineffable and ineluctable. For instance, imagine creating highly dysfunctional hierarchies and then wondering why they fail. Imagine electing highly dysfunctional politicians to government and then wondering why government so often fails. Imagine selecting highly dysfunctional managers and business ‘experts’ and then having to sell of and close Dick Smith, or Masters, or, my favourite (it having been ‘immortallised’ in Kubrik’s 2001), Pan American.

    So it goes.

    And if you’re at all interested in any of this, may I recommend the post titled “On Incompetence” from the blog “Stumbling and Mumbling” which I recently commended to Ernestine.

  89. Ikonoclast
    September 20th, 2016 at 17:49 | #89

    On above IQ topic posts, I could add my ruminations and may do so in existing Sandpit.

  90. Julie Thomas
    September 20th, 2016 at 17:50 | #90

    @GrueBleen

    Yes I do know about Binet and the development of IQ testing. A fellow PhD back then was and still is – she’s a professor now – working in that field. We talk and I was a participant in some of her experiments that involved measuring cognitive abilities.

    It was the murcan’s who ruined the idea of testing for deficits and instead used the concept of testing to work out who is the alpha male and who should win. I tried to read “The Bell Curve” by that charlatan Charles Murray but threw it across the room when I read in the introduction how he imagined primitive men sitting around a fire discussing who was the most intelligent.

    My lack of intelligence in some areas is real though. In some ways and I have accepted it now, I am quite stupid while still having a very high IQ. I don’t believe that the current understanding of high functioning autistics is anywhere near reliable or finished but it is useful to keep up with the trends. And there is a lot of interest in atypical neurological functioning; as if there is a neuro-typical brain.

    But don’t you see that the incompetence that you see, is just another judgement you make that is made on the basis of the belief that there is one way to do things. Of course we are incompetent at building competitive and exclusionary structures and institutions. That is not the way that our brains work and the systems that we have been building are not systems that will give all of us what we need to be happy and healthy and not need to create some of our neighbours as enemies.

    I did do really well at uni but it was a regional uni but it was a regional institute that had become a uni and when the Dawkins money ran out my prof who had come from a real sandstone deserted ship to go back and I couldn’t go with the lab because I did not and do not have the organisational ability or the support and finances to manage such a big event.

    So being over educated – very little demand for someone who likes playing with pivot tables and SPSSx where I live and being so socially inept and I suppose weird, nobody would give me a job and so the Centrelink psychiatrist gave me a diagnosis that put me on the disability pension. I did do a lot of marking but it drove me nuts trying to be absolutely fair and then the funds for marking got less and less and eventually dried up.

    So now I make hats and live in a small town in the country and read lots of blogs. I actually have heard of the stumbling and mumbling blog but there are so many really really good blogs around being written by so many really really interesting and intelligent people. It has to be a good thing that people like you and I can talk like this.

  91. jrkrideau
    September 20th, 2016 at 23:49 | #91

    @Julie Thomas
    Marie Antoinette was just as deluded about the reality of the lives poor people lead as a well off neo-liberal economist today

    If not more. Her chances to interact with French peasant were probably much less that a neo-liberal economist encountering a “gasp” taxi-driver.

    Note however she was not the person who (translation) said, “Let them eat cake”. That was just a slander and then libel.

  92. GrueBleen
    September 21st, 2016 at 03:59 | #92

    @jrkrideau
    Your #91

    “Brioche”, mate, “let them eat brioche”. Gotta get your slanders right.

  93. GrueBleen
    September 21st, 2016 at 04:08 | #93

    @Julie Thomas
    Your #90

    No, I’m not of the opinion that there is “one way to do things”, I’m just of the opinion that there should be one outcome: that the things we do should work a lot better than they do. But we seem to be trapped into that old cycle: doing the same thing over again, hoping it turns out better this time.

    Yes it is good to be able to talk like this, and if Ikono keeps his promise above (his #89), we can continue to, tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. In Sandpit, where we should.

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