Monday Message Board

Last week was pretty much a blur for me, with loads of work and other commitments. It’s already time for another Monday Message Board. Post comments on any topi. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please

69 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. I just thought of one advantage of capitalism: the diversity of owners weakens the bargaining power of any particular owner when dealing with workers. People tend not to think of the state as a bargaining agent in socialized industries, but that’s what it is, and if your skills are specialized for one particular area that happens to be under a single socialized company then your bargaining power is far less than what it would be under a varied set of competing owners.

  2. @Brett: that is only an advantage competing against communism, which is not the only alternative to capitalism. Other socialisms (e.g. syndicalism) also diversify control over the means of production.

    Mind you, it’s not guaranteed under any economic system anyway: if your specialisation is in, for example, a field where there exists a natural (or, under iffy capitalisms, unnatural) monopoly, you suffer the same disadvantage.

  3. Interestingly, I just watched an interview with David Simon which included this (from him):

    If how much money you have is the defining characteristic of citizenship or of value or of relevance, of human relevance, and if that’s all that we’re going to measure (and apparently, since 1980 this all we’re going to measure), you’re going to get a society to live in that is structured on that metric. And it’s going to be a brutal one.

    But ultimately, capitalism has not delivered on the promise to be a measurement of anything other than money, of profit. And if profit is your only metric, man, what are you building? Where does the environment fit into that? Where does human potential and you know, for anything other than having some money in your hand, you know, where does, where do people stand when they have health needs or when they make a mistake in life? You know, it was said a long time ago you judge a society by is hospitals and its prisons. By that standard we’re, you know, we have a lot to be ashamed of.

    You don’t often hear of the “Powerful Poor Lobby” flexing its muscles around the halls of power!

  4. @Joel I think you do benefit from having a market, even if you vary up the actual firm arrangements. Your firms can be traditional corporations or worker-owned cooperatives, as long as there are a multiple of them, they can exit or enter the market, and they can get the financial resources they need to expand.

    I see what you mean about the natural and unnatural monopoly point, although I’m skeptical about the number of natural monopolies out there that can actually exist without something keeping rival systems out from development. Water and sanitation count, although there were private means of both before the rise of modern sanitation systems (the only problem is that they sucked compared to what we have now). Electricity maybe counts, although if you can run overhead lines then you could have multiple electricity networks as long as the competitors can pay for the fixed costs.


    I know where Simon’s coming from, but I disagree. Capitalism takes a lot of **** (a lot of it rightfully), but it has worked better than the real alternatives we’ve seen so far in the world, and societies that get rid of money as a key metric for power tend to just replace that with another form of power that’s less fair and more corrupt.

  5. In my humble opinion, one of the keys to understanding the contemporary political and intellectual Right in the English-speaking world is to understand that at its core are people who believe that they are engaged in an ongoing war against cosmic evil (one of the names for this cosmic evil is TEH LEFT) and that the requirements of success in that war supersede the demands of any system of universal morality. Of course there are other agendas and motivations at work as well, but this is surely central to what they think, say and do.

  6. Once again, promises were made…or perhaps not. From the Rural ABC service, Sharman Stone (Murray), disagrees with her esteemed colleagues about the reasons why SPC was thrown under the bus:

    Sharman Stone, the federal Member for the Victorian seat of Murray, says her senior colleagues are using excuses that are “wrong” to justify the decision to reject a bid for $25 million in government assistance from the food processor – which is based in her electorate.

    Union conditions of workers have come under fire from the Government for being too extravagant, with pay well above the award.

    In an extraordinary outburst, Dr Stone says the leaders of her party are deceiving the public debate.

    “It’s not the truth. That’s right, it’s lying,” she said.

    “The independent panel, their own independent panel, I understand recommended that this industry be supported.”

    Who would have thunk it?

  7. Electricity maybe counts, although if you can run overhead lines then you could have multiple electricity networks as long as the competitors can pay for the fixed costs.

    But they can’t, can they. Perfect competition -> prices driven to marginal cost of supply + whatever -> can’t cover fixed costs if high -> can’t be done in capital-intensive industries.

    Clayton’s competition or monopoly are our only real choices.

  8. @Donald Oats
    At last some push-back from one of the older experienced voices on the backbench.

    Clearly the ghastly price of the Coalition attack on reality is too much for Dr Stone. More strength to her, she should keep pushing, and burst this neo-con bubble. The EBA is online, and one of the company principals has come forward to squash Abetz’ disinformation on the ‘shiny tin’ allowance and the furphy that the enterprise agreement was a significant cost to the company. Abetz, if he was a decent person, would be considering his position after this damning exposure.

    The elephant in the room for the suicide rationalists in cabinet as ever is protection and subsidy behind imported foodstuffs. Not one of them has the guts to mention it, as their entire world-view, and the rationale for attacks on workers, evaporates.

  9. @Donald Oats

    I never took much notice of her doctorate, thinking she was a medico, but I did recently see a reference to her in an academic work on aboriginal history. Wikipedia says she has publications on race relations, environment and geology. You would hope that at least some of the trained thinkers in the Libs will resist the flight to deceit and dumbness.

  10. @Paul Norton
    Another humble take. I think the characteristic feature of the Abbott Government, for example, is denial of climate change, and more importantly the cultural change implied. Perhaps those anxieties can be understood? In this context, might adversarial politics be doomed to fail?

  11. @wmmbb
    When it comes to climate change and denial of anthropogenic global warming, the neo-cons are without peer. I find Tamino’s blog very entertaining and vividly informative on the subject matter, for he applies statistical analysis to the questions posed by the alleged sceptics. He provides an endless array of graphical/visual representations of the underlying statistics and/or data as well, hammering home the point in (confected) dispute by the so-called sceptics.

    Rabbett Run also has some good posts: I particularly like this simple plot of temperatures, in which el Nino years, neutral years, and la Nina years are identified and have separate regressions performed; see the three trend lines plotted, and you’ll get what I mean.

  12. Abbott’s destructive comments about worker’s wage and leave entitlements being at the root of SPC’s problems leaves him less the leader of a modern democracy as spokesman for some military junta looking after the interests of the Big Boys and keen to return society to ‘traditional’ values. Some of his cringeworthy ‘insights’ both at home and internationally have the quality of your boofhead uncle’s famous wedding speech extolling bridal purity. He seems unable to assess any argument on its merits–you watch, digging your toenails into the floorboards, as his mental tick-list is accessed. Here we go….under ‘C’ for Company Failures..’ignore management practices and say ad nauseum ‘workers pay and leave conditions are to blame’. The nearest equivalent, other than junta spokesman? Monty Python’s boxer (HA!) Ken Kleen-Air System. “Every mornig, Ken runs the 47 miles from his home in Brighton to the Pesticide Research Station in Shoreham. Nobody knows why…..” His first thought in a crisis is whether the holy grail of neo-con ideology is safe. He needn’t worry. The rest of us wouldn’t piddle in it. As PM, this man would make a good fencepost.

  13. @Donald Oats

    Know exactly how you feel!

    Check out comment #45 in the “Sandpit”, and if you can explain how this works you’ll get a gold star.

    I can’t link to my website in my name but I can link it to any other website. I can’t even get a link through in comments. I’ve tried to get it fixed with the person hosting the site, Jacques, but with no response.

  14. PS: Just because I like being a barb in the side of those trying to thwart free speech… my site is “SpringHillVoice” with the W’s in front and the ‘com’ at the end.

  15. I think Stone is nervous given what happened in nearby Indi. What are the chances she stands as an independent t the next election?

  16. I have often commented on the contemporary Australian political and intellectual Right’s youthful leftism and the absurdities of their apostasy. One of these is that while they cloak their anti-leftism in the language of anti-communism and anti-totalitarianism, hardly any of them were in the corner of the Sakharovs, Walesas and Havels when the Cold War was happening. The various democratic dissident movements of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe actually got more support from the Communist Party of Australia than from our current crop of right-wingers. I will gladly compare my Cold War record to Keith Windschuttle’s any day.

  17. I’m guessing that the S&P/ASX 200 drops below the ‘psychologically important’ (at least that’s what they called it on the way up) 5000 mark this week.

  18. @Megan
    Megan, went to your site, lots of interesting stories. no comments?
    fitst article about our (Hubbies)family business in Lockyer valley

  19. @Debbieanne

    No, we don’t have comments – but glad you liked it!

    Is that the article about the Grantham Cannery? Or do you mean “first” as in the one from 2003 about the antiques shop out near Gatton?

    The cannery, if that’s it, is a great sign of hope and I’ll be buying tinned food from there.

  20. @Paul Norton

    I hope I’m not the only person who finds it weird that a “union” leader, Paul Howes says:

    that there had been “unsustainable growth in wages”

    while a ‘right-wing’ PM is reported:

    The Prime Minister agreed with Ms Kearney, saying penalty rates are important to workers and especially to those who are low paid.

    It would be nice to believe that they’re both lying, but I have a feeling Howes really means it.

  21. @Megan
    I remember seeing an Australian Story on Howes a few years ago in which various industry leaders and CEOs all stated their approval of him and said he was someone “they could work with”. That raised my eyebrows.

  22. @Tim Macknay

    I can’t do links – but I suggest looking up ‘wikileaks’ and ‘PLUSD’ and they have a very useful and easy to use search facility. Type in his name and read the results.

    Most interesting to me is that he was a “protect”.

  23. I thought Howes offer of Grand Compact may be a good idea as it would force the Coalition to decline the offer and publicly admit that they would prefer the unions total extinction .

    Another example of the right and left playing by different rules is the ABC breaking a story about union corruption ,which allowed the Vic govt to propose drug testing laws ,which allowed todays Herald Sun front page,- UNION DRUG BLITZ .

    Melb Uni has coauthored a study which shows that lotto wins shift peoples political views to the right .Leftists fundamentally believe in a fair go ,Rightists do not . Rightists wont fight entrenched disadvantage as that would eventually threaten their privileged positions .They argue in bad faith – they are focused on the outcome not the process.

    I feel like I want to punch someone or something .

  24. @Megan
    Yes, that is interesting. Also, Arbib and Cooney were marked as “protects” in the same cable. Presumably the intent was to ensure that the diplomats concealed, as far as possible, which Australian politicians were sly informants of the US government.

  25. The Right faction is moving to ensure a Right faction leader in the future, to block Plibersek, should Shorten not cut the mustard.

  26. Campbell Newman is either dangerous, or dangerously stupid. Hard to tell.

    Media Release from the Qld Bar Association:


    The President of the Bar Association of Queensland, Peter Davis QC said today:

    “The Premier is reported as describing defence lawyers who represent bikies in these terms:

    -‘They’re defence lawyers: they’re paid by criminal gangs. Of course, they will say or do anything to represent their clients in the best possible light. Their clients are criminals.’

    And then

    -‘Yes, everybody’s got a right to be defended under the law, but you’ve got to see it for what it is; they are part of the machine, part of the criminal gang machine and they will see, say and do anything to defend their clients, try and get them off and indeed progress their case.’

    “These comments are misconceived, unfair and objectionable. Defence lawyers are not part of a “criminal gang machine”. Defence lawyers play an important and integral role in the administration of justice by representing persons accused by the State of wrong doing, and in the process, ensuring fairness and justice to those so accused. All lawyers owe duties to their clients. Those duties though are limited by onerous ethical obligations owed to the court. Lawyers are officers of the court. The “machine” of which lawyers are part is the justice system.”

    “The Premier’s attack upon defence lawyers is completely unjustified and I call upon the Premier to unequivocally withdraw them.”

    Someone should send out a search party for the alleged ‘opposition’ ALP.

  27. Bob Hawke made the common sense decision to sort out a series of accords (“compacts”) while in government, whereas Howes entertains the idea while in opposition against an opponent who has demonstrated a propensity for 180’s which strikes deep amaze. Howes should take pause and rethink his strategy.

  28. Does Bill Glasson (LNP candidate for Griffith) look like Peter Griffin’s dad Francis Griffin (from Family Guy)? Are I right?

  29. Rog

    What a nonsense article that was. With hundreds of other factors driving the gfc this guy claims that a policy which gave a lot of rural stability while reducing transport costs caused financial collapse??? This guy is obviously a tea party candidate hopeful.

  30. Looking at Griffith by-election result via AEC live results.

    Historically, by-elections almost always go to the party in opposition. Given this used to be a safe ALP seat it is therefore interesting that the ALP is on track for a defeat – albeit a narrow one.

    Most telling is that as at right now the only party who ran a candidate to suffer a negative swing is the ALP.

    Well done neo-con infiltrators!

  31. PS: As at this time, the difference between the ALP & LNP is 410 votes.

    The Greens currently have 4,607 representing 10.77% of the counted vote and a swing toward them from 2013 of 0.17%.

    I read that as the ALP preferring to be neo-con and lose than to be half decent and win. No doubt they will scream at the Greens “we wuz robbed”.

  32. No, it looks like Green preferences have elected the ALP despite the swing against them.


  33. after reading Coase’s book on China over the break, I discovered that by contemporary standards of evidence, Milton Friedman must have been a double secret communist agent.

    He must have been: in 1980, Friedman not only visited China and advised their leaders, he held a week long seminar on price theory for their top officials! J’accuse

    Imagine if Friedman had collaborated with Chile and Pinochet in 1975 in this way – a week long seminar for the top officials in Chile?

    What would the Socialist Left have made of this evidence of close collaboration with dictators?


    Some spontaneous impressions – I may recant on some of this, but today is a significant day.

    Edward Holden started making motor carriages in SA in 1930s(?) and SPC has been around for 100 years – does their passing not need to be closely examined? History counts for nothing?

    The CEO of Toyota said it was a close decision but Govt offered nothing on “principle”. But what principle? When you put out a piece of cheese to catch a mouse, do you resent losing the cheese? Abbott cries crocodile tears “devastating for me” (ha ha) but offers nothing, I guess that’s a “personal responsibility” issue for him and Hockey – it’s the workers’ fault.

    Toyota has a big (40%?) export profile, and sells cars that Australians want to buy, but this doesn’t matter to policy. What else do they have to do to get support?

    Absolutely no ideas from Govt or econ dries about the future for these and component workers, apparently economic religion says the market will provide. Yeah, right, we know what it will provide – most will be unemployed or underemployed for the rest of their lives, or jobs in low wage, low skill services.

    No-one gets on the front foot – just wait for “the market” to provide the future. It seems we want to be victims, not leaders.

    The first condition ofa higher productivity economy is to have the workers at work. You know it won’t happen – for the rest of their lives, 1/3 unemployed, 1/3 underemployed is what the accas tell us. They have had the plug pulled on them – Hockey baited and taunted GMH to close down – they wanted it to happen (less union dues to ALP). Sabotage from the highest level.

    And smash unions – have a RC, include Gillard/AWU, and smear all honest union reps, because the BOSS is ALWAYS RIGHT! (the fusion of orthodox economics and right wing politics is apparent).

    “The people in power are there because they know what they’re doing, or they have more knowledge than us.”

    Maybe getting the Salvos to hand out food parcels is the solution, now that they will have time on their hands – charity rather than work.

    Does the end of the “age of entitlement” means we are not entitled to expect solutions and initatives from govt?

  35. Just wondering whether anyone has thoughts on how close The Australian is to Pravda (or other infamous propaganda) in the extremity of its views.

    The Australian slavishly follows the (Abbott) government line. Anyone who differs is necessarily a traitor and to be hated (e.g. Labor, Greens, unions).

    It regularly campaigns for its own agenda without giving the other side a fair hearing. And it’s heavily subsidised rather than trying to run a profit like a normal newspaper.

  36. The UK is flooding. Notice in this latest from Rupert’s ABC the use of “some say”, and also the idea of attacking the experts. There is also the concept of ‘adaptation’ (ie: throwing lots of money at it after the horse has bolted) as an answer:

    There has been a growing tide of criticism at the official response to the floods, with some blaming the flooding on the Environment Agency and its failure to dredge local rivers.

    UK communities minister Eric Pickles said the government “perhaps relied too much on the Environment Agency’s advice” on flood prevention.

    “I am really sorry that we took the advice … we thought we were dealing with experts,” he said.

    Environment Agency chairman Chris Smith hit back at critics and accused ministers for holding back vital funds.

    “When I hear someone criticising the expertise and professionalism of my staff in the Environment Agency who know more about flood risk management – 100 times more about flood risk management – than any politician ever does, I am not going to sit idly by,” he said.

    UK prime minister David Cameron last week announced $236.6 million in extra funding for emergency repairs and maintenance.

  37. My theory with media’s obsession with Corby was to do with finding an excuse to keep real news out off air (nothing new, here) , denying a reality check for voters at Griffith, (as well as the public in general)with more attendant scrutiny of Abbott’s antics concerning the ABC, brutal asylum seeker treatment and secrecy and mass sackings and harassment of unions.

    The ABC must be riddled with executive stooges, like a cancer.

  38. @Megan
    What’s the bet that the firms getting the money will be cronies of Cameron’s?

    Remember how Halliburton (i.e. Dick Cheney) made a motza out of Hurricane Katrina? There was so money there that Halliburton had to temporarily stop its “access” to US government coffers assisting the Iraqi reconstruction.

    Surely the UK has its equivalent to Halliburton?

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