Monday Message Board

It’s time for the Monday Message Board, where readers are invited to post their thoughts on any topic (civilised discussion and no coarse language, please). There will be plenty of posts from me on the election, and plenty of room for discussion, so I’d encourage Message Board comments on other issues.

22 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. It is Sunday afternoon, still light outside, and you already have a Monday message board posted. It reminds me of how “behind” we are in the U.S. People are alread beginning a new week and we are still just having lunch (well, those over in Hawaii are probably having lunch around now). I’ve sometimes wondered if the U.S. was at the “forefront” like, for example, Japan and Australia are.. if people here would make a big deal out of being ahead of everybody else.;-)

  2. International expert agricultural organisations such as FAO and CIMMYT fully appreciate the importance of new technologies, including GM technology in global food security, yet generally “Green” groups contest even this support for GM technology even though it is made by the most qualified of the international organsations engaged in food policy.

    Many African countries lack food security, and constructive informed comment improved food security in Africa is a current civil society issue.

    Cereal Agricultural Group CIMMYT has just released a brief that includes the following:

    Weighing Pros and Cons of Genetically Modified Crops in Africa
    (CIMMYT Newsletter, October 1, 2004)

    Should Africa embrace genetically modified crops to help feed its hungry people? That question is explored by a recent paper entitled “Debunking the Myths of GM Crops for Africa: The Case of Bt Maize in Kenya.” The paper compares the benefits of genetically modified crops to information available on the risks, and finds that most objections are not backed by evidence. Hugo De Groote, Stephen Mugo, and David Bergvinson from CIMMYT, along with Ben Odhiambo of the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, conducted the study, which argues for a discussion based on scientific evidence and evaluation of potential benefits against concerns…

    …“The major surprise was that, contrary to the usual claims, Bt maize is very likely to benefit poor farmers and small
    seed companies,” says de Groote. “Stem borers are a real concern for farmers, especially in low-potential coastal
    and dry areas.”
    Farmers in Kenya lose 400,000 tons, or about 14%, of their maize to stem borers. That is roughly the amount the
    country imports each year. De Groote says Bt maize alone will not solve this problem, but could help reduce losses
    and increase food security.

    Can anyone verify that the Australian Greens , or other Green lobby Groups in Australia (or elswhere have a constructive, timely and reasoned, morally defensible stance on this particular African issue?

  3. detribe:
    “Can anyone verify that the Australian Greens , or other Green lobby Groups in Australia (or elswhere have a constructive, timely and reasoned, morally defensible stance on this particular African issue?”

    I can’t. But Monsanto is involved, so I’m entitled to be deeply suspicious on this alone.

    And just to point out that the agricultural subsidies of the rich world economically hurt poor countries far more than any denial of GMC experimentation. The US spends more than six times more on bribes to its own farmers than it does on foreign aid to all of Africa.

    So if anyone’s sincerely outraged by Green opposition to GMCs, they ought to be apoplectic by rich country agricultural subsidies. This leads me to think those who criticise Green opposition to GMCs, yet are silent on agricultural subsidies, are either ignorant of the broader issues, or not motivated by sincere concern for the poor of the world.

  4. I certainly support the use of GM crops AND completely oppose the existence of agricultural subsidies. I have no idea what is the position of the Australian Greens in this issue, but at the same time I think it is irrelevant (unless you are really bored and want to pick on the Greens for this one too).

  5. A local issue in our suburb concerning a proposed mobile phone transmitter tower led me to this train of thought: Rail often works on a single infrastructure provider/many operators model. For cable (TV, etc.), Australia adopted a two-infrastructure providers model, even though a one-provider model had tons of capacity for very many operators. This approach was much criticised on waste and social/environmental grounds. It seems in the mobile phone case, we have not learnt from the cable case, because even though I understand the ACCC encourages them to co-locate, each telco can decide whether it sets up its own transmitters.Hence an almost certain over-proliferation of towers.

    Am I missing something, or is this societal zero-loop learning?

    Any views, pointers to policy studies on this gratefully appreciated.

  6. In David Marr’s webdiary column of September 29, he asks the RWDB’s to define what a member of the ‘Left’ is. Marx doesn’t seem to rate a mention but there is a whole bunch of other things (anti-Americanism, mostly). However Andrew Bolt says something curious;

    “Bolt accuses the Left of inventing its own gods: “Nature gods. Tree spirits. Water sprites. Gaia.” He calls these faiths demeaning and incompatible with reason – unlike Christianity.”

    What makes me laugh is Bolt’s own inability to grasp simple history. I’m no raving new ager, in fact I fairly despise that sort of rubbish. But I do posses a passing knowledge of Classical History and I can inform Bolt that ‘Gaia’ and ‘Tree spirits’ (Dryads?) and ‘Water sprites’ (Naiads?) are all part of Classic Greek Mythology – the same Greek culture that gave birth to “Reason” (Socrates, Plato, Aristotle et al), ALL of which pre-dates the transformed paganism of the Christian religion.

    (sorry Bolt, but Christ on a Stick is just the oak-totem hero-god Herakles sacrified as the new year child, like Dionysis and countless others).

  7. Unless there is something strikingly new to be said, I want to call a halt to the GM foods debate. We seem to be going over the same points again and again.

    ML, I had a lot to say about this in the 90s. Here’s an example and there’s mroe in my book Great Expectations

  8. John

    since it’s that time of the year, who is your tip for the Economics Nobel Prize?

  9. I’m still crying after my beloved roosters gave away another Grand Final (thats two in a row, I’m starting to feel like i’m going for Collingwood), Oh well by next season most of the Bulldogs will be in gaol and we will be rid of Walker and Hodges.

    364 days to go…

  10. “ML, I had a lot to say about this in the 90s. Here’s an example and there’s more in my book Great Expectations’

    Thanks, John – just what I was looking for.

  11. I am not an economist, I’m probably only following this web log because there is an election on, in fact I don’t even know if it will exist post-election but I’ve been doing some reading and would like to see a piece on something that I’m lead to believe is called “the declining marginal utlitiy of money” by economists.

    I would like to see that in relation to interest rates and the costs of goods and services under previous and/or successive governments.

  12. adam
    I can indeed confirm that, IMHO agricultural subsidies by Japan, The EU and the United States are activities that greatly harm the poor farmers in the third world,and for example i applaud the NGO Oxfam for example on this issue.
    But the current noxious existence of ag-commodity subsidies actually makes it even more important that other actions that harm third world farmers be discontinued also.
    Perhaps I can suggest that if you could focus a little more on benefits to farmers as an alternative to voicing negative opinion on Monsanto, it would be a more constructive (win-win) approach. This can avoid the unethical cutting of the poor persons nose to spite Monsantos face mentality that your comment seems to be promoting. Also go to the CIMMYT website and verify their GM policies favour the development of publically funded (non-commercial) ag-research for the third world so your hostilities are hardly relevant.

  13. Scot: While the name Gaia is sourced from Greek mythology, the rest of the Wicca rubbish that the freaks get on about is Celtic. Mixing them doesn’t seem to be a problem for the true believers in any case.

  14. before the ’05 grand final, there’s the election, does anyone want a punt on the result.

    I said Labor by 19 at the beginning, and I can’t see a reason to change – mind you no result would surprise me.

  15. Medicare Gold
    Not many people seem to have noticed that Medicare Gold is simply an extension of the health scheme we have for veterans to the rest of the population over 75. Veterans (and their widows) through the Veterans gold card have access to private hospitals and doctor of choice. And one of the reasons Medicare Gold will not cost all that much more than the govt is already paying, is that a fair proportion of 75 and over are Veteran gold card holders so the Federal government is already paying for them (In 1999 it was 34% of 75+ men held the gold card, and 11% of 75+ women). Most of these gold card holders use the private hospitals, but many use the public hospitals. Most do not have private health insurance but some do. (Why they would bother I don’t know. I suspect old habits die hard)
    For Abbott to say that Medicare Gold can’t work is a bit silly given that the Government already has the Veteran Gold card system that does work.

  16. yobbo,

    yes, i understand that the newagers have a mish mash of stuff from greek, celtic, indian hindu/buddhist, chinese tao/buddhist, native american etc religious beliefs. all kind of mashed together in a soup of syncretic belief.

    but then, if you read someone like robert graves you will see that there is not a lot of difference between welsh (ie briton) myth and greek myth. the same basic territory is covered by both. Herakles can be found throughout mediterranean mythology.

    and syncretic belief systems are hardly new. the romans syncreted (?) isis, for example, and many other gods from their conquered territories. the greeks, and upper class romans, the educated of whom most had as their philosophical religion (as opposed to say their ritual religion) a type of stoicism and platonism, already had a lot in common with what they encountered from christianity. so it wasn’t hard to syncrete christian doctrine to their own.

    i don’t understand how any of this has anything to do with leftists. most lefties i know tend to be very sceptical of any publically expressed religion of a new age nature.

    matt byrne; i share your pain. the dogs fans booing freddy after the game were disgraceful.

  17. Apart from the election noise – has anybody been giving any thought to the consequences of $50 + oil barrels. Where moving into the northern hemispere winter where oil supplies are less elastic. The U.S . has already broken into it’s reserves in the ast month.

    The obvious consequence is good old ‘stagflation’ that we saw after the last oil shock. But there are other factors at work here, now. More demand and less supply. An overvalued $US and a middle east spiralling deeper into chaos and conflagration.

    I know it’s Cassandra like but shouldn’t we be a bit worried about what’s coming whoever gets into power?

  18. First world agricultural subsidies are the major problem in africa.
    The swiss grow hydro tomatoes in glasshouses in the winter with subsidised electricity and sell them to africa at a cheaper price than the locals can grow them for.
    It is a crock,NZ and australia have played the game with free trade on agriculture,yet the US,EU and Japan still subsidise their agriculture at the expense of the rest of us.

  19. Subject: Lots of Nasty Behaviour & Dodgy Campaigning

    See two instances below.

    However, it is my understanding that the AEC are a toothless tiger, they can not really do much at all… and even the investigation/policing of any of these issues needs to be carried out by NSW Police, ICAC or AFP. All very unlikely in the very last week of the election!

    Meanwhile, people I know are quite fearful, and need to be escorted home if working late or attending a late forum in the Parramatta Mall…
    I understand some people are even taking legal advice RE: AVO, etc.

    Can you provide any sort of INFORMAL advice as to other similar cases and what options/enquiries could be relevant. It would definitely be greatly appreciated.


    Doug Williamson
    Parramatta Greens candidate
    4/2 Thomas St,

    28 September 2004

    Steve Walsh
    Parramatta Divisional Returning Officer
    Lvl 3, North Wing
    2-12 Macquarie St,
    PARRAMATTA. 2150
    Request for investigation
    Dear Steve,

    Late last Thursday afternoon, 23 September in Macquarie St mall, Parramatta one of my stall workers was repeatedly assaulted and intimidated by Parramatta City Liberal councillor, Chiang Lim who was working on a Liberal Party stall. This is in direct contravention of s.327 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act. (Hereinafter referred to as “the Act”). After this had occurred, Cllr Lim was seen to be photographing my stall workers and a number of unrelated third parties who were making enquiries at our stall, without their permission, using a mobile phone camera.

    The following Saturday morning, 25 September at the same location Cllr Lim, another Parramatta Liberal Cllr John Chedid and a 50 something, balding male Caucasian (who had been seen working on the Liberal stall on a previous occasion) were asked by a Stan Ghyse, a person selling t-shirts with a political message to refrain from taking his photograph. At this, the 50 something male Caucasian, threatened to sool his dog onto Mr Ghyse.

    On this Saturday too, although in a possibly unrelated incident, one of my stall workers had paint smeared on the back of his partners car over the top of some Greens party political stickers.

    Further to this, it has been noted that a number of both ours and the ALP’s party corflutes, placed in people’s front yards with their permission have been anonymously removed during nighttime, whilst nearby Liberal party corflutes remain untouched. A specific example of this occurred on a property on the corner of Kissing Point Rd and James Ruse Drive on or about Wednesday – Thursday, 22-23 September.

    As per your instructions on the day of the ballot draw, independent legal advice is being sought over these matters. Whilst this is occurring, I formally request that the Australian Electoral Commission fully investigate these matters in accordance with the Act and make public your findings.

    Yours sincerely,

    D J Williamson

    Cc: Geoff Ash, Kelly Livingstone, Monica Heary and Antony Lawes

    Family First volunteer disciplined October 4, 2004 – 7:34PM Page Tools

    Religious party Family First has disciplined a campaign volunteer for saying lesbians should be burned to death.

    The man’s comments came shortly before a group of youths hurled eggs at Greens supporters on Sunday from a passing car at Dayborough, in the marginal Brisbane seat of Dickson.

    Family First spokesman Mark Badham said the party had nothing to do with the egg-throwing.

    He did say, however, that the volunteer had been disciplined after answering yes to a question from a Greens supporter about whether Family First supported lesbians being burned to death.

    “(Family First Dickson candidate) Dale Shuttleworth contacted the volunteer, chastised him and disciplined him and we’ve moved on,” Mr Badham said.

    The man has been banned from any more volunteer duties with Family First.

    Mr Badham said the Greens volunteer had put words in the Family First Party volunteer’s mouth.

    But the Greens are blaming the Family First campaigner for inciting the egg-throwing attack.

    Greens candidate Howard Nielsen said moments before the attack, the youths had been listening to anti-gay rantings from the Family First campaigner that “lesbians are witches and should be burned to death”.

    “There were about three or four of them who had chatted animatedly (with the campaigner) for about 20 minutes, jumped in the car, bought a stack of eggs by the sound of it and drove past three or four minutes later throwing eggs at our people,” he said.

    Mr Nielsen said one egg nearly hit the head of a female Greens worker.

    He said the eggs had the potential to be a “lethal weapon”.

    The egg-throwing had been reported to police, Mr Nielsen said.

    © 2004 AAP

  20. detribe: “This can avoid the unethical cutting of the poor persons nose to spite Monsantos face mentality that your comment seems to be promoting.”

    I take your point that anti-Monsanto (or generally big business) feeling can cloud people’s judgement. It does not mine, and I happen to think that GMCs should be grown in Africa (and everywhere else for that matter) provided they have passed food safety laws and been reviewed by independent scientific bodies. And I know Monsanto have tried to corrupt governments and independent scientific bodies.

    But the mentality your comments seems to be promting is that of irrationalist nature-worshipping Greens standing in the way of Monsanto et al. who want to feed the world out of the kindness of their hearts.

    The greatest foreign cause of needless suffering and poverty in Africa is agricultural subsidies.
    The Greens are wrong on this, but sincerely wrong, and their sin is nothing compared to the sin of the governments subsidising farmers.

  21. “the idea that globalisation is the result of technological change is nonsense”…..”the world economy was just as globalised in 1913”
    id just like to congratulate you on your well chosen words as printed in the australian financial review and VCE Economics text book.

    We are all tired – the hamsters powering Barista’s Pinocchio-burning rage are almost tuckered out and are just hanging in for the election. But today we have not one but two EDDIES to award. Scott McPhee is a true geek,…

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