Monday Message Board

It’s time for the regular Monday message board, where you are invited to post your thoughts on any topic. Regular reader Nicholas Gruen has suggested that we discuss the possibilities of a single party holding government nationally and in all states and territories. I’ve taken the liberty of posting some of his message as a discussion starter.

Civilised discussion and no coarse language, please.

46 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. This comment is independent of previous ones. One supposes, despite the political divide, that Federal and State health authorities have developed common contingency planning for the potential bird flu pandemic. The WHO has issued a warning, sufficient for the British government to act to extent of developing a strategy to deal with the potential problems. I neither seen or heard reports to confirm that similar action has been taken here.

  2. Nicholas – another one to add to the list, which is a standout in my view, I should have thought of it earlier: no fault compensation. Under the present system laywers are major beneficiaries from compensation cases. The system produces large losses in welfare, often slow redress for injuries suffered, and inequities (those who can afford the best lawyers get the best payouts; some miss out altogether). Its been a desirable change for a long time (see eg the Woodhouse report). Coordinated action by the States/Territories is needed because otherwise there’d be jurisdictional problems, claimants trying to game the system by picking the one that suited them best, problems with accidents/injuries involving parties from more than one State, etc.

    Hope you are planning to aggregate any suggestions and actually get them drawn in to debate in some way!

    PS I don’t understand how burgess’ comments relate to any of this; I’m not sure if he’s lumping me in his category of “anti economic rationalists” given that I’m more frequently accused of the opposite and giving too much credit to micro reform for improving economic performance [disclosure: I was in a past life responsible for a lot of micro reform especially in agriculture – eg helping convince govt. to end the absurd wool floor price scheme – so you’d expect me to say this…]

  3. On a completely different topic on tuesday night I used to watch CSI as I iron. however I now finish earlier and I have grown tired of the series.
    The great things about the CSI genres is the WHO music as it’s introduction comes in.
    The latest has the best who song , namely Baba O’Riley,.
    both my seven year old boy and I ove the song.
    One reason to see the opening credits of the series.

  4. I am just wondering why we bother haveing an RBA Board when the only player seems to be Macfarlane. The other RBA members obviously are in a posiition of unquestioning fealty to the boss and the non-executive members are so hopelessly conflicted by their continuing commercial (and in most cases political) involvements.

    Indeed given their scant economic training and the fact that they must be so busy with their day to day activities they cannot possibly be giving their RBA board duties the attention that they deserve and thus Macfarlane is able to implement whatever bee is in his bonnet.

    It is interesting to contrast the quality of the members of US Fed Board with that of the RBA board.

  5. Real men don’t iron, we just let everything wrinkle as God meant. That also applies to facial hair, although I am beginning to receive comments and may eventually yield to social pressure to have it trimmed.

  6. Albeross

    While there is some merit to your proposition, it is difficult to argue tha they have been doing a bad job over the last decade.

  7. In the light of the recent spate of pro-democracy moves in the ME I am interested in the opinions of those persons,like Pr Q , who from the start opposed the Iraq war. Have they had any second thoughts?
    FWIW I still think the Iraq War was a bad idea, given the massive costs and uncertain benefits. I am sure that a wise statesman could have put $300 billion to more good by directly prosecuting the GWOT or by financing humanitarian causes.
    But if Iraq war begins an E European style wave of civil reform then I would be prepared to revise my views (again).

  8. A fair question, Jack.

    I believed at the time, and still do, that the best any of us could have done two years ago was make a balance of probabilities estimate, on the basis of highly incomplete information, about which course of action would lead to the least harm being done in Iraq itself, in the region, and in terms of the likely harmful impact of COTW unilateralism on global peace and stability. On this basis, and after having had a long look at arguments from the pro-war left (Nick Cohen, Pamela Bone, etc.) I opposed the war and still believe I was right to have done so. I don’t think I should second-guess myself on the basis of hindsight, especially as the chains of events which could lead to positive developments in the Middle East have a life of their own rather than simply being the inevitable or intended effects of the COTW invasion.

  9. Yes, we now face a great danger that the neo-cons will re-energise their flagging fortunes by dragooning any positive historical change in the region to serve as proof of their revolutionary thesis.

    For me the greatest reason to oppose that fully optional war was that the attendant & inevitable slaughter of innocents – civilian and military – was premeditated murder. The highly uncertain benefits of their deaths which we now haggle about could never justify the extremity of that wrong.

    It makes me despair that their deaths seem over time to become just historical “stuff that happens”.

  10. wbb — 4/3/2005 @ 4:06 pm shows why the anti-war Left still have a lot of learning to do:

    we now face a great danger that the neo-cons will re-energise their flagging fortunes by dragooning any positive historical change in the region to serve as proof of their revolutionary thesis.

    …………..
    This comment is a diagnostic of what infuriated me about the anti-war Left: the instinctive shift into a partisan crouch, damning policies & processes by their party political source.
    wbb appears to think the “greatest danger” to global secrurity is a few loud-mouthed
    “conservative” intellectuals having a bit of a triumphalist crow at the anti-war Lefts expense.
    I do not know what the democracy revolution in the ME will bring. It may turn militant like the post-Bastille Franks or moderate like the post-Berlin Wall Slavs. And I still think that the war does not meet the utilitiarian cost-benefit test, not to speak of the humanitarian issues.
    But the ME democratic revolution is big enough to justify analysis on it own merits rather than being demeaned by the petty standards of spiteful chatterers.
    …………………

    For me the greatest reason to oppose that fully optional war was that the attendant & inevitable slaughter of innocents – civilian and military – was premeditated murder.blockquote>
    ……………………….
    This implies that the many Baathist and jihadist casualties are “innocent”, which is a bit of a stretch. By wbb’s standard any discretionary violence done in the service of promoting democratic polities is murder. So is wbb now saying that Washington, Jefferson et al were all murderers?

    It makes me despair that their deaths seem over time to become just historical “stuff that happens�.

    ………….
    The same argument was made by the pro-war party in respect of the Hussein regime (retrospectivley towards Saddam, prospectively towards Uday et al). Why didnt wbb complain about that type of world-historical callousness?

  11. Paul Norton — 4/3/2005 @ 2:05 pm shows an empirical rather than ideological cast of mind:

    I don’t think I should second-guess myself on the basis of hindsight,

    ………
    This is fair enough, althoug Paul might consider the implications of his position, which is essentially conservative, rather than constructive, in its political valence.
    The anti-war party were in favour of a (default) conservative position. History shows that reform, rather than revolution, tends to be better, esp when large violence is contemplated.
    The onus was on the pro-war party to justify any departure from proper procedure and calculate the consequences of their destructive-constructive policies. This they (incl. the present writer) failed to do, esp in key matters of the building a multicultural Iraqi state and dealing with the Islamic nature of Iraqi society. Not to mention the numerous errors of the CPA in execution.

    the chains of events which could lead to positive developments in the Middle East have a life of their own rather than simply being the inevitable or intended effects of the COTW invasion.

    ………
    This is not a poor statement of the late disturbances in the ME. For one thing, Bush did intend to promote democracy, as a scrutiny of the publication of the revised National Security doctrine (2002) reveals.
    Bush has, since 911, been a strong promoter of democracy in Afghanistan, Palestine, Iraq, Saudi Arabia Lebanon, Egypt and Syria. And these states have all made a marked shift towards popular rule in the past three years. Perhaps they might have done so in any case, but certainly not with as much institutional speed or ideological confidence.
    The only other major Middle Eastern pro-democracy movement that was pre-dated Bush and had its own autonomy was in Iran. This movement was more strongly supported by Bush (Axis of Evil) than by any other world leader.

    FWIW, I think that the staggering cost of the war in blood and treasure are too large a thing when set against uncertain improvements in political process. Moderate, rather than militant, democracy-promotion by the US would likely have achieved similar civil progress with a lower cost.

  12. < >

    Supposedly, the “Axis of Evil” originally had only two members – Iran and Iraq.

    However when the draft of Bush’s SOTU speech was circulated inside the White house it was suggested that a third member be added to bolster the rhetorical parallel with the World War II axis.

    Syria, Libya and Sudan were all candidates for the third spot but were rejected out of a fear of appearing excessively and exclusively anti-arab.

    Burma or Cuba could jsut have easily been the axis’ third member.

  13. With regard to democracy in the middle east:

    There have been repeated false dawns for democracy in the middle east – such as the free elections in Algeria in the 1990’s which were annulled when the governing party lsot.

    I don’t believe that there is innate reason to assuem democracy CAN’T succeed i nthe middel east but history is littered both there and elsewhere with many brave but failed attempts to establish democracies.

    People inclined to naive optimism about the future of Iraqi deomcracy might want to consider the post-war history of south Korea where it took almost 40 years to establish a reasonably stable democratic regime.

  14. Over time the spread of democracy seems like a pretty inevitable trend. The issue is whether the spread of democracy will be civil evolutionary like Georgian England, or militant revolutionary like Jacobin France. The Arabs look like they fancy a few riots and rebellions but, who knows, they might find their Attaturk.

  15. Thx Steven,

    Yes, I’ll bring these together – but no hurry – all the ideas are up here. 🙂 I’ve been trying to draw some attention to the idea. Ric Simes was very successful in putting on a conference in Canberra on liquidating the bond market. It was very influential in stopping it happen. I’ve suggested doing something on the states all being governed by a single party as a worthwhile idea for a conference, but though it seemed like a good idea at the time, we couldn’t think of all that many things on the list. On your suggestion of a compensation scheme, I reckon that would be pretty hard – but pessimism on what was possible was where you came in – not me! 🙂

  16. JS, you’d better take a longer look at history before you start talking “inevitable trend”. What’s going on right now seems to me to have serious parallels with what happened between the time of the Delian League and Rome’s hegemony over the Greek city states. That was a prelude to another inevitable process, the discrediting of democracy as being inherently vulnerable to capture and people’s acceptance of “strong man” leadership as the only alternative to chaos.

    All this leapt at me early on, because I had the background. It isn’t hindsight from recent developments but from ancient ones; recent ones are just confirmation. All that’s “inevitable” about today’s “progress” is like printing money in a collapsing currency, as long as people still trust what it used to be.

  17. Jack:

    You mean democracy will be introduced by a military dictator who massacres millions of non-arabs, suppresses religious and political opponents, builds a massive and hugely inefficient state-owned industrial sector and entrenches military rule for the next six decades?

  18. Comment #42 by Ian Gould — 7/3/2005 @ 6:22 pm

    You mean democracy will be introduced by a military dictator who massacres millions of non-arabs, suppresses religious and political opponents, builds a massive and hugely inefficient state-owned industrial sector and entrenches military rule for the next six decades?

    ……..
    I think that Hussein was a lost cause to both majority democacy and minority civility. But he might have been succeeded by someone more like Attaturk – a civilised leader. This was my actual point.

  19. Ken Parish has a good suggestion relating to my theme in this thread. Commenting on our most senior lawyers’ decision to exempt themselves from the standards of legal liability for negligence to which they hold all other professions, he says.

    I can’t actually think of much to add to Ackland’s excellent article, except a string of adjectives like disgraceful, arrogant, self-serving, cynical, obtuse, unaccountable and downright disgusting. It’s another one of those days when I’m ashamed to be a lawyer.

    Actually, I can think of something to add. Why don’t the state and territory Labor governments band together and enact co-ordinated legislation to abolish lawyers’ immunity from suit? You wouldn’t hold your breath waiting for the Howard government to enact similar laws, but 90% or so of litigation takes place under state law anyway. It would put pressure on Howard, and would be bound to be highly popular with the electorate. Write to your local State or Territory MP today and demand it.

    Any other ideas?

  20. NG, that isn’t the position. The general position is, professional ethics only require someone to do as another member of the same profession would.

    There isn’t just a free pass for lawyers, doctors get one too. There is case law back to at least the ’50s on this, and it flows through as binding or persuasive precedent from one common law jurisdiction to another.

Comments are closed.