The Political Sword and TPS Extra at a Glance

For earlier items on The Political Sword and TPS Extra at a Glance click here.

Are governments ready for the coming economic and social changes?
Ken Wolff, The Political Sword, 28 September 2016

In 1930 John Maynard Keynes predicted widespread technological unemployment ‘due to our discovery of means of economising the use of labour outrunning the pace at which we can find new uses for labour’. In the decades since there has been rapidly increasing technological change but employment has generally been increasing, matching population growth, although not without winners and losers. The creation of new jobs often lags behind the pace of loss of jobs and those who have lost jobs are not always the ones who take the new jobs — they are often taken by the new generation. More…

Who is the culprit?
Ad astra, The Political Sword, 25 September 2016

When you reflect on the dilapidated state of federal politics; when you question how on earth we have become encumbered with so many appalling policies, do you ever ask: 'Why is it so?' I do often. And when I do, one culprit emerges over and again. Who is it? More…

What is Modern Monetary Theory and will it help?
Ken Wolff, The Political Sword, 21 September 2016

Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) is a macroeconomic theory for the current age in which governments have abandoned the gold standard and also floated their currencies. It is ‘macroeconomic’ and ‘monetary’ because many of its conclusions relate to the money supply in an economy. Does it offer scope for a new economic approach recognising people? Can it better assist responses to robotics and computerisation than current economic approaches? More…

It’s all about me
2353NM, The Political Sword, 18 September 2016

At the risk of earning a Godwin Award in the first sentence, according to those that staffed his office, Hitler was a kind and paternal man. Apparently Goebbels was kind to his family as are no doubt most of the world’s leaders today. However, the same people that make sure they are kind to their staff, helpful for their friends and make sure they have a positive influence in their children’s lives can make the lives of people more distant from their immediate family absolutely horrific. More…

An economy without people
Ken Wolff, The Political Sword, 14 September 2016

Last week I suggested that modern economic theory has lost sight of people but the reality is now becoming that many segments of the economy require fewer people to undertake the work and that has serious implications not just for the people losing their jobs but for the broader economy. The loss of jobs is not new. In Australia since the 1970s there has been an ongoing loss of un-skilled jobs, particularly for males. More…

Our government is morally bankrupt
2353NM The Political Sword, 11 September 2016

Recently on this website, we discussed the nastiness of the conservatives that currently inhabit the halls of power in Canberra. Ad Astra’s article gave a number of examples that demonstrated the point. To paraphrase a sacked host of an extremely popular BBC television program loosely based on cars when talking about their ‘tame‘ racing driver; some say they reached a low with treatment of refugees, others might suggest that the blatant disregard of human rights was worse – all we know is that the government allowing these things to happen is morally bankrupt’. How about we look at the claim of moral bankruptcy in the cold light of day. More…

Modern economics has lost sight of people
Ken Wolff, The Political Sword, 7 September 2016

This is the first of four articles looking at particular changes, and potential changes, in our economic environment and approach to economics generally. For those who have followed my pieces on TPS you may recall that I am qualified as a social anthropologist. I take the anthropological view that economics is about how a society uses and distributes its resources — that is any society, whether hunter-gatherer or a modern technological society. It is a view that raises some questions about our modern approach to economics. More…

Toxic talk
Ad astra, The Political Sword, 4 September 2016

Are you as offended, as disgusted as I am with the language used by our politicians day after day? Have you noted how mean-spirited, antagonistic and adversarial their words so often are? More…


Bring out your debt
2353NM, The Political Sword, 31 August 2016

After a year of saying that he could get the Federal Budget back into surplus, seemingly by just cutting support to the less well off in our society, Treasurer Scott Morrison finally realised something any school child who has started business studies classes would be well aware of — a balance sheet comprises debits and credits. More…

Rethinking our priorities
2353NM, The Political Sword, 28 August 2016

Some believe that those that purchase Lotto entries, play pokies or Keno or participate in other forms of gambling are effectively paying an idiot tax. On a purely rational level, they may be right as there is a significant chance that the few dollars you give to the Lotto machine operator or similar is wasted money – albeit a small proportion goes to the government in some form of wagering tax. More…

The meaning of life
Ad astra, The Political Sword, 24 August 2016

As you sit on your comfortable chair after a satisfying meal with a glass of your favourite drink in hand and view current affairs programmes on TV, do you reflect on the plethora of distressing images that assail viewers day after day? Do you ponder how you might feel if you were part of those images? More…

A once and future Senate
Ken Wolff, The Political Sword, 21 August 2016

We now know that the Senate elected at the July election comprises 30 Coalition members, 26 from the ALP, 9 Greens, 4 from One Nation, 3 from the Nick Xenophon Team (NXT) and one each from Family First, the Liberal Democrats, Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party and the Jacqui Lambie Network. Thirty-nine votes are required in the Senate to pass legislation, so the government will require either ALP or Green support, or otherwise support from nine of the eleven minor party members. Given that NXT has three Senators and One Nation has four, their support for every Bill opposed by the ALP and the Greens becomes essential. It will be a difficult situation for the government but there is another issue I wish to discuss. More…

Rudd and Abbott: saviour of their parties
2353NM, The Political Sword, 16 August 2016

Two of the three ex-prime ministers who were deposed by their own political party have been in the news in recent weeks. Kevin Rudd requested backing from the Coalition government to bid for the Secretary-General position at the United Nations and Tony Abbott claimed there are factional divisions in the NSW Liberal Party. On face value, both men are using the media to further their own ends. To observers of Australian politics, this really shouldn’t be a surprise. More…

The election in numbers 2: minor parties and independents
Ken Wolff, The Political Sword, 14 August 2016

A number of commentators made the point after the election that almost a quarter of voters did not vote for the major parties in the House of Representatives. But that is misleading on two counts. It ignores the 5% informal vote and the 10% vote for the Greens who I think are now entitled to be considered a major party — they do contest every seat after all. That leaves about a 10% first preference vote for other than major parties and, given that there were almost 150 smaller parties and independents, that is not a significant vote — an average of about 0.07% for each of them. More…

The standard you walk past...
2353NM, TPS Extra, 13 August 2016

Lieutenant General David Morrison AO gave the speech above in 2013 when it came to light that members of the Australian Army were alleged to be guilty of inappropriate behaviour to those of lesser rank and/or female. There are a couple of clear messages in the speech – firstly, his message to those who believe that his lack of tolerance of inappropriate behaviour is incorrect: if it does not suit you – get out. Secondly he correctly states that the standard of behaviour you walk past is the standard you accept. More…

Why are Abbott’s conservatives destroying our PM?
Ad astra, The Political Sword, 10 August 2016

To those of you who dispute the assertion embedded in the title, let me provide you with supporting evidence.

Some questions for you to answer:

Is Malcolm Turnbull the man you thought he was when he rolled Tony Abbott almost a year ago?
Has he fulfilled your initial expectations?
Is he as secure in his position as PM as he was initially?
Has he been limply acting as a proxy for Abbott and his policies?
More…

The democratisation of opinion
Ken Wolff, The Political Sword, 7 August 2016

With the rise of the internet and social media almost anyone can express their opinion to an audience in the thousands, even hundreds of thousands, no longer just to a circle of people who are physically present to hear the opinion. While that provides the democratisation of opinion, it also has a more sinister side. It has led to a widespread view that in this new democratic world all opinions are equally valid. More…

Make laugh – not war
2353NM, The Political Sword, 3 August 2016

A couple of weeks ago, our esteemed blogmaster Ad Astra published a piece asking Why is there so much anger? It’s a good question. Sociologists will tell us that whatever position a person takes on a particular subject, there will be some who agree, some who disagree and some who don’t have a strong opinion either way; they’re ‘sitting on the fence’. Some of those who disagree would listen to an argument designed to change their mind; for others, successfully changing their viewpoint would be impossible. More…

Johno goes to heaven
2353NM, The Political Sword, 31 July 2016

Johno was 89 when he died the other day. He was (as they religious say) a good and decent man and accordingly soon after his death he arrived at the ‘Pearly Gates’ where as tradition dictates, he was met by Saint Peter. More…




Why is there so much anger?
Ad astra, The Political Sword, 27 July 2016

No matter when we listen to the news, watch TV, or browse social media, the pervading emotion in so many items is anger, unremitting anger. We see it in the wars in the Middle East and among terrorist organizations. We are told it is what motivates individual terrorists. More…

Someone’s gotta pay
2353NM, The Political Sword, 24 July 2016

According to the Coalition government, the ALP’s campaign over the privatisation of Medicare was somewhere between dishonest and outright lies. While it is true that the Coalition has frozen some Medicare rebates and eliminated others, attempted to introduce a $7 co-payment to see a doctor in the 2014 budget and set up a task force to examine the outsourcing of payments to Australians, the Coalition claims that these measures were nothing to do with the privatisation of the Medicare entity. More…

Mr Turnbull, where are your verbs?
Ad astra, The Political Sword, 20 July 2016

It was one of The Political Sword’s regular contributors, Casablanca, who drew my attention to the absence of a verb in the Coalition’s prime slogan ‘Jobs and Growth’. She had been alerted by an article in The Guardian by Van Badham in May: Good slogan, Malcolm Turnbull, but growth in what kind of jobs? The absence of verbs is diagnostic of the malaise that afflicts PM Turnbull, Treasurer Morrison, Finance Minister Cormann and most of the Coalition ministry. More…

The election in numbers
Ken Wolff, TPS Extra, 18 July 2016

We know the Liberals lost 13 seats, or in other words Labor gained 13 seats, with one seat, Herbert, still in the balance at the time of writing. (Labor actually won 14 but gave one back which I will come to later.) The Liberals claimed a win because they did at least manage to hang on to government, thanks to the Nationals, and Labor claimed success because of the number of seats they gained. But can either party really claim success? The numbers suggest not. The numbers also suggest that individual seats varied markedly and there was not anything like a uniform swing to Labor, although swing there was overall. More…

The Liberals are dreaming
Ken Wolff, The Political Sword, 17 July 2016

On Sunday morning 10 July, before Shorten conceded defeat in the election, Arthur Sinodinos appeared on the ABC’s Insiders. He claimed the Coalition had a ‘mandate’ for its 2016 budget and its company tax cuts. Sinodinos’s view takes no account of the reality of the new parliament. More…