Please don’t blow this chance

The desertion of Liberal (or LNP?) member Peter Slipper to take up the Speakership offers the Labor government a great opportunity, but also the temptation to mess things up disastrously. The opportunity is to see out a full Parliamentary term, long enough to put the carbon tax and MRRT in place in a way that the Opposition will either have to accept them, or announce a credible plan to replace them – something that is clearly beyond the capacity of its current leader.

The temptation is that the corrupt hacks who infest the ALP machine will use the extra vote to renege on the promise to Andrew Wilkie to tackle the scourge of poker machine gambling through precommitment. A large section of the ALP has been tied to the hotel and club industry since time immemorial and have obstructed any reform that would challenge the interests of this industry.

Even disregarding the issue of principle, it would be really stupid to break the deal with Wilkie. The government’s only chance is to survive past the point when the scare campaign about the carbon tax and MRRT will be shown up for what it is. If Wilkie abandons them and one ALP member has to leave Parliament for some reason, the government will fall. In that case, electoral support or opposition from the poker machine lobby will make no difference.

Still time to help East Africa

We’ve raised over $4000 for the East Africa appeal, more than $8000 after the Australian government’s matching contribution. That’s enough to make a real difference to the lives of hundreds of people living in the most desperate conditions. But there’s still time to reach the appeal target of $5000. I started things off with a contribution and now I’ve done the half marathon as promised, finishing in a time of 1:57:16, more than three minutes below my previous best time. Surely that’s worth the effort of clicking the link and putting in whatever you can afford for this truly worthy cause.

I haven’t used any gimmicks for this appeal so far, but if we reach $5000 I’ll buy and post the after-race photo, which should provide much innocent amusement for readers, what with my special race gear and generally depleted condition.

Update The $5000 target has been reached! Thanks so much to my readers who have, as usual, given generously to help others.

I’m not going to close off the appeal for another couple of days. If you haven’t given already, put in whatever you can afford.

I haven’t heard from the race photographers yet, but presumably they will be in touch, so that I can post the evidence.

Finally, I have just learned that two runners died during the event, the first time this has happened in the 13 years it has been run. My condolences go to their families. Remember, if you are thinking of taking up any strenuous sport ,to build up slowly, have regular medical checks and stay within your limits on race day.End update

Athens Polytechnic comes to UC Davis

A Greek friend has sent me lots of information on links between the suppression of dissent at UC Davis and similar events in Greece from the days of the military junta to the present. Here’s a video commemorating the 1973 uprising centred on Athens Polytechnic, which led to the downfall of the military junta the following year[1].  the last title says “The Polytechneio lives on. In struggles today.” Link

Among the legacies of the uprising was a university asylum law that restricted the ability of police to enter university campuses. University asylum was abolished a few months ago, as part of a process aimed at suppressing anti-austerity demonstrations. The abolition law was based on the recommendatiions of an expert committee, which reported a few months ago (report here, in Greek). There’s an English translation here, but it doesn’t work well for me.

Fortunately, my friend has translated the key recommendations

University campuses are unsafe. While the [Greek] Constitution permits the university leadership to protect campuses from elements inciting political instability, Rectors have shown themselves unwilling to exercise these rights and fulfill their responsibilities, and to take the decisions needed in order to guarantee the safety of the faculty, staff, and students. As a result, the university administration and teaching staff have not proven themselves good stewards of the facilities with which society has entrusted them. 

The politicizing of universities – and in particular, of students – represents participation in the political process that exceeds the bounds of logic. This contributes to the rapid deterioration of tertiary education. 

Among the authors of this report – Chancellor Linda Katehi, UC Davis. And, to add to the irony, Katehi was a student at Athens Polytechnic in 1973.

 

fn1. The fall of the Greek junta, only a year after Pinochet’s coup in Chile was, in retrospect, a historic turning point, after which rule by generals became steadily less common.

Sandpit

A new sandpit for long side discussions, idees fixes and so on. I’m going to add MMT to nuclear power as a topic that should be confined to sandpits from now on. I’ve had my say on the subject, and the argument in the comment thread doesn’t seem to make anything any clearer.

Blogging the Zombies: Austerity (revised)

Update 21 November I’ve revised this as a result of thinking about the comments, though I haven’t yet had time to take all the comments on board. The main change has been to focus specifically on the idea of “expansionary austerity”. As Keynes said in 1937, public sector austerity is desirable if the economy as a whole is booming. And, later in the chapter, I’ll talk about whether austerity is sometimes the least bad response to problems of foreign debt. The claim that is implicit in the current policies of the ECB, the UK Tories and the US Republicans is not merely that austerity is necessary as a response to debt but that it makes sense as a response to a deep recession. This idea is commonly described as “expansionary austerity” End Update note

I’m working on a paperback edition of Zombie Economics and adding a new chapter on austerity. Like last time, I plan to blog it in sections and take advantage of comments and criticisms from readers. I’m opening up with the intro, but plan to serve up something more substantive soon.

 

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East Africa appeal, again

The East Africa appeal has less than a week to run, that is, until I have to run. There have been some generous donations, but the need is so great, I hope everyone who can afford it will dig deep, and contribute what they can.

Remember that donations are tax-deductible for Australian readers and that the Australian government will match all donations dollar-for-dollar, so every dollar you actually give translates into 2-4 dollars of desperately needed assistance.

You can donate with a credit card, cheque or Bpay by clicking on the “sponsor Me” link below the image on the right.

Armistice Day

I spent the day in Canada (Toronto where I gave a talk on Zombie Economics last night). As in Australia, it’s now called Remembrance Day, but its a much bigger deal here, with lapel poppies de rigeur and two minutes silence observed in public venues.

If only we could mark 11/11/11 with a new armistice.