212 thoughts on “Sandpit

  1. Someone said something about “Labor walked away from their values” and was taken to task.

    In my view it isn’t just a throwaway ‘anti-Labor’ line. I don’t speak for the other commenter but here are some examples to my mind:

    Pro war.
    Anti refugee.
    Pro expanded uranium mining and nuclear waste storage in Australia.
    Free-market fundamentalist/neo-liberal economics and policies.
    The solution to climate change must be a market mechanism rather than regulation.
    Blurring of church and state (eg: chaplains, education and health).
    ‘Pragmatic’ on the environment.
    Pro ‘intervention’.
    Anti Assange.
    Beefed up security state (eg: using ASIO to spy on activists, war on terror).
    Kow-towing to Murdoch.
    (specific Qld example: Asset privatisation even though very unpopular and without campaigning on it).

    This isn’t meant to be exhaustive at all, it’s just that my view is that there is some substance to the idea that ALP today has “walked away” from values it had, or only ever pretended to stand for to attract that segment on the electorate who also hold such values (‘whatever it takes’).

  2. The ALP has abandoned distributive justice which was their core value and the reason for their existence. Everything else flows from that one abandonment, whether it’s their absurd environmental approach, their oppression of refugees, their denial of rights to Aborigines, or their conviction that micromanaging everything will lead to good outcomes.

  3. Actually, Megan, HECS for TAFE is comparatively progressive – at the moment, the fees are up-front (and large enough to discourage a lot of people).

    Of course, it should be free, as should university, but we’re unlikely to get another Gough in my lifetime.

  4. @Alan

    Spot on Alan. Labor are traitors to the working class. Vote Green or vote Socialist but never vote for that treacherous sellout Labor mob again.

  5. Terry McCrann in The Australian:-

    BOB Brown has been an unremittingly destructive force in the political life of this nation. His career in public policy has left not a single redeeming consequence.

    That this has not been more universally recognised can be placed at the collective feet of the Canberra press gallery, the broadcast media in particular more widely, and the assorted current affairs programs led by the ABC’s Lateline.

    I think he is right about the media going soft on the Greens. Some sections of the media treat the Greens like they have God on their side and so they don’t need to be tested on whether they have the actual facts on their side. And now when they do start to cop a little heat from the media they want a media body to regulate things. The Greens are not especially nice people. They deserve much more solid scrutiny by the media.

  6. McCrann’s rant about Bob Brown, like much commentary from his ilk, says nothing about the target and much about the assailant.

    There is rarely much information from his ilk. Always you think “Well.He would say that.”

  7. I agree with you @Alan. What intrigues me is why a group of intelligent and socially aware individuals would collectively decide to abandon the core principle of social justice for their opponents world view and expect to be rewarded for it. The key to all this is economics, and I suspect the Labor party has gone down this route because collectively they don’t understand economics. Far from being able to sniff out real world zombie theories from a country mile away, the poor people’s representatives are continually bombarded from both within Treasury and academia by an economic conceptual model and its restrictive language that of itself exclude alternatives. Take for example the DSGE model. Here is an intellectual construct of theoretical beauty that as far as I can determine has no relevance to any real world economic scenario, but like a house built on sand totters on the unsightly foundations of fanciful assumptions that underpin all equilibrium models.

    But if a pointy headed person from an important institution tells you that your NAIRU is 5.3% and your current unemployment if 5.3% then we can expect the correct policy response, which is to ignore the unemployed. A classic case of the language limiting the response.

    There appears to be plenty of empirical evidence around that ‘business as usual’ economics has failed miserably to bring social justice and advancement to wealthier societies (being, I suspect, somewhat different to the bootstrap out of poverty case, though I may be wrong). Since the GFC we have seen an ongoing determined trend to wind back distributive policies and accelerate wealth concentration at a global scale. It is like China now has the ideal GINI coefficient, and the west is playing catch-up.

    This of course leaves Australia’s unemployed (and even greater number of under-employed) struggling on a paupers hand-out with no policy in place to either get them into work or to allow them to participate in the fantastic wealth this country produces. BTW, I disagree with the dole, I think everyone should work (or be pensioned), and if the private sector cannot provide the jobs, then the public sector should do so.

    But this of course is irrelevant when it comes to inflation numbers and interest rates, productivity, GDP and financial stability. The unemployed have been reduced to collateral damage in the new economics, and the lie that trickle-down in any of its obscene variants will rectify their plight has well and truly been put to rest.

    So now the Labor party face annihilation at the polls, like cattle to the slaughter yard, and yet almost like innocents in their lack of understanding. As to economics itself, the ideological capture of the profession at both the academic and institutional level will continue to run amok, and continue delivering its fore-ordained outcomes.

  8. The standard model “they” work with does not admit unemployment. As markets clear and the labour market clearly doesn’t, unemployment refutes the theory – shows the theory wanting. Unemployment has therefore always been a painful embarrassment. With all the ingenuity of theologians, natural unemployment, the natural rate of unemployment, ‘voluntary’ unemployment, and then the natural rate of unemployment were invented. They are the unemployment you have when you are pretending there isn’t ‘really’ any unemployment.

    One may wonder why they are taken seriously on this one, but then no sillier than the average religious explanation, and those explanations seem to satisfy many.

  9. @Freelander
    Of course with your cherished alternative,the standard model of communism, there is no unemployment,the theory works beautifully.The dead have never been an embarrassment,they are simply removed from the record,but one does wonder why it is taken seriously by the ‘intelligent,thinking’ people of the left.Then again many of them are religious cranks led by high priest Flannery “I think that within this century the concept of strong Gaia will actually become physically manifest.”
    No sillier than the average religious explanation, and those explanations seem to satisfy many.Personally I have trouble believing people like that actually exist.

  10. @James

    Party inversion is actually not all that uncommon. In the US it was Lincoln who founded the Republicans and the Republicans who fought the Civil War, but now they have inverted those positions to the extent that you can talk about the party of Abraham Lincoln becoming the party of Jefferson Davis. The Liberals in the UK did something similar during the First World War.

    The ALP has done it faster and more throughly because, I suggest, of the almost complete absence of democracy within the party. There was simply no way for progressives to have opposed the takeover by opportunists.

  11. Good points Alan and James.

    I think the idea of being dazzled by neo-liberal economic theory and lack of internal democracy allowing the destructive takeover are correct, especially in the ranks. But rather than simply opportunists, I think it’s fundamentalist ideologues of the neo-con stripe who did the taking over (and thoroughly successfully, too) at the power core.

  12. You’re 17. You like politics. A faction leader offers you lifetime employment as union/ministerial staff, then MP, then consultant to the stars (MacBank). All you have to do is get out your soul and hand it to the faction on a platter. Initially I would agree many were dazzled by the neoliberal flashbuzz. More recently I think employment prospects have become much more central.

  13. @TerjeP

    Nobody in politics is ‘especially nice’. But until the major parties get real about actual equality of opportunity (not just paying lip service) and global warming/environmental sustainability, they don’t have a realistic model of society and economics, and therefore have no strategic credibility at a party-line level, regardless of what individual MPs/Senators may think. I know plenty of highly-informed Labor voters or even members who despair that the Labor Party is such a neoliberal washout, so you can imagine what they think of the Libs. And I’m not talking about cranks or former Communists here – in fact, far from it. Andrew Leigh, for instance, strikes me as far brighter and forward-thinking than focus groups and party strategists really allow.

  14. “A classic case of the language limiting the response” as well as the argument.

    I wish people who make statements about ‘equilibrium’ would be a bit more careful. They write as if there would be only one thought and one model and it is a 19th century macro-model.

    I also wish people would recognise that the GFC is the consequence of previous institutional changes as well as some still unresolved interesting questions.

    What is happening to the young people? Don’t they want to have work to do? Do they only want to “learn” – “be informed by” – be “instructed to do” the work done by previous generations?

    The entertainment value of those who screem “communism” in response to any empirically founded questioning of contemporary phenomena is very limited.

  15. Freelander :
    McCrann’s rant about Bob Brown, like much commentary from his ilk, says nothing about the target and much about the assailant.
    There is rarely much information from his ilk. Always you think “Well.He would say that.”

    hah, McCrann might wear a hideously feeble excuse for a beard, but I can guarantee you what’s there is extremely well fertilized! Seriously, his editorial content makes Bolt’s look very truthful and credible. His interest rate predictions have an even worse record than Chris Richardson’s 95-2005 decade. The man is a clown.

  16. @Ikonoclast

    Things are far more complicated than this. If the ALP is a traitor of the working class – then so are the universities, journalists, middle class, most trade unoins, and the ACTU.

    The ALP’s policy for workers is essentially – boost capitalism as much as possible and hope that some of the gains can be fed back to workers to placate the majority of them.

    In fact, the real traitors to “the working class” are all those workers who have been placated by delivery of minimum and above wages, superannuation, education and health services and the rising living standard that comes in the form of fancy cars, plasma screens, microwave ovens, mobile phones and so on.

    If fact, Australian society generally has been living “in the best of all possible worlds” where the necessary exploitation of workers is moved offshore (or imported through 457 visas). What plasma TV, mobile-phone addicted worker would ever expect that they too will have to work under the same conditions as Third World workers? Only Royals under fuedalism and plantation owners under slavery lived better.

    I don’t blame the ALP as the ALP just reflects the views of firstly, the electorate, but also significantly, unions and the ACTU. If the ALP was a real ‘traitor’ the unions would disaffiliate. The real blame has to passed through to Keynesians descended from such as Colin Clark who intend that Australia is to become an efficient, productive, competitive, low wage country based on ‘hard working conditions’. This may well be the view of some within the ALP and the ACTU. In the past the ACTU has run its policy almost in tandem with the ALP – see for example the policy on core ILO labor conditions and free trade generally.

  17. @Ernestine Gross
    “empirically founded questioning of contemporary phenomena’
    Just for the record,you do know that the cloudy stuff pouring forth from the chimneys so prominently featured in the propaganda,is water vapour and not carbon dioxide.
    How’s that for empirically founded questioning of contemporary phenomena?

  18. @Chris Warren
    So if we take away “the real traitors to “the working class” (Now where have I heard that terminology before?)what part of “the working class” are left?

  19. @JB Goode

    How do you propose to do that?

    Why would you do that?

    In essense workers, misled by consumer baubles and a unsustainable welfare state, are traitors to their own selves. They revel in short-term circumstances and close their eyes when looking at the future.

    So if you take away all these, you would probably be left with no-one or possibly a few cranky wannabe vanguardists whose only solace would be that they outnumber the ALP representation in Queensland Parliament.

  20. @Chris Warren
    Thanks for the clarification Chris and the ALP ref was real funny,but I am still confused.
    How can a worker be a traitor to himself if he is free man, secure in mind and body,and fully capable to decide what is in his best interest.You seem to be saying that the ‘working class’ are so stupid that they don’t know what is good for them.You obviously don’t think of yourself as a traitor ,so what “class”are you from?

  21. I think Prof J.Q. needs to begin mass deleting of flippant, sniping and trolling comments. Unfortunately, this site has gone down hill badly.

  22. @Ikonoclast
    What sort of response do you expect when you are coming out with tripe like”traitors to the working class”You don’t even know what the working class is.When was the last time you drank your latte out of a jam jar,when was the last time you had to sleep four in a bed with only an old army coat for warmth?When was the last time you had no soles in your shoes?
    Gimme a break!

  23. Let me try again.
    Do you know that the cloudy stuff pouring forth from the chimneys so prominently featured in the propaganda,is water vapour and not carbon dioxide.
    Do you know that ‘carbon pollution’ refers to the life giving gas carbon dioxide.
    If the case for CAGW is so strong and settled,why the deceit?

  24. @JB Goode

    You are a slow learner – all addicts are traitors to themselves. Australians are addicted to the baubles of consumer society produced by oppressed offshore workers. In this manner, all Australians are traitors to their selves

    It is obvious and clear to all – but you.

    Only you think others are stupid. But this just reflects your guilt.

  25. Now, now, JB Goode – suggesting kinky stuff like foursomes under an old army coat goes a bit far.

  26. @Ernestine Gross
    Well we had to have some fun Ernesto,after all we were living in an old boot at the bottom of a lake,and every day had to get up half an hour before we went bed and clean the lake out with a handfull of warm gravel etc,etc

  27. @Ikonoclast
    As I said before, we could achieve the same effect as JQ deleting the troll’s comments if we simply ignored them. Nothing good will ever come to your life from responding to JB Goode, so what’s the point?

  28. I mean, we could be quite happy if we left him here chanting, “Greens are silly, CO2 is necessary for life, everyone else is stupid except me.” Who is he convincing? Let’s all agree to just mentally mark him as spam; pretend he is advertising herbal Via%&*ra or something. It’s just a small extra effort to scroll past his comments.

  29. @Sam
    Sam,how could I ignore such a cry from the heart of a fellow earthian,I will have extincted myself by the time you read this so consider me exstunk.

  30. @Sam

    Just so. As I’ve noted a number of times, responding to trolls is like scratching mosquito bites. Reason and experience recommends against it, and the satisfaction though great initially, is very shortlived.

  31. I won’t speculate about what motivates Ayaan Hirsi Ali to make a fool of herself. But the effects of her efforts to do so are clear for all to see: 


    WESTERN liberals, crippled by political correctness, guilt and a romanticised view of Islam, are leaving atheists and Christians bereft in the ”Arab winter”, human rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali says.
    Ms Hirsi Ali, no stranger to controversy, told an audience of several thousand at the Global Atheist Convention in Melbourne, that it was Christians and conservatives who led the way in defending free speech and rights. ”Why is it that secular liberals in the West fail to help? Are they so insecure about the morals they live by and by which they raise their children?”

    She said elections following the overthrow of dictators had produced Islamist governments in Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco, with Islamists also gaining power in Libya and Yemen. ”The plight of Christians is going to be dire. They are killed, their churches destroyed, the women are raped. This is also the plight of Muslim minority sects.”

    She blamed political correctness, white guilt over former colonialism that was actually racist because it did not hold non-whites to the same standards, and a view of Islam as romantically primitive (the noble savage).

    What does she expect “Western liberals” to do?

    Beyond acting as enablers of Bush’s disastrous Middle Eastern follies, what have Western conservatives done? In fact, these flying monkeys have acted as recruiting officers for the Jihad.

    I’m surprised that Australia’s atheists provided the oxygen of publicity to this intemperate, irrational woman.

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