The rise and fall of a shibboleth


Firstly I must acknowledge that the title of this article was inspired by the words of the 1994 song ‘Shibboleth’ by Melbourne band, The Killjoys.

In this case, the shibboleth I am referring to is ‘economic rationalism’, an expression that distinguishes the Right from the Left of politics. I also use ‘shibboleth’ with one of its more modern meanings: that it signifies something where meaning has been lost, and now serves merely to identify allegiance. I choose this meaning deliberately because I do believe that economic rationalism is on the wane. Its death may take some time, perhaps ten years or so, but I perceive that changes are coming.

In researching this piece, I was surprised to learn that the term ‘economic rationalism’ is mainly used in Australia: overseas the more common terminology is ‘market liberalism’. Whatever its name its essential premise is the same — markets rule! Economic rationalists believe that market forces will always produce better outcomes than government or bureaucratic decisions, that it is the market that should determine what to produce and how to produce it.

Some economic rationalists accept that there is a role for government in providing public goods and in intervening when there is market failure. Others, however, consider market failures as unimportant or self-correcting and that, in any case, ‘the costs of government intervention [are] greater than the costs of the market imperfections government policies [are] supposed to remedy.’

They assume that a free market system has an inherent tendency towards equilibrium in which demand and supply are in balance:

Movement towards equilibrium is brought about by changes in relative prices. (Prices include not just the prices of goods and services but wages and interest rates.) If there is persistent unemployment, then that is believed to be caused primarily by institutions (trade union pressure, minimum wage legislation, and so on) which prevent the price of labour — wages — from moving to a level in which the demand and supply of labour is brought into balance and full employment achieved.

Economic rationalists also consider low inflation is vital for a deregulated financial sector and for business. One cost of maintaining low inflation can be increasing unemployment. In Australia, before economic rationalism, ‘full employment’ was often seen as having an unemployment level of about 2% (which was achieved in the 1960s until the mid-1970s). Since the 1980s, a level of about 5% has become acceptable.

The economic rationalists tend not to be overly concerned about the distribution of income. In 1997 J W Neville explained:

While some economic rationalists argue that unequal income distribution is important to create the right incentives, generally in Australia economic rationalists say little explicitly about income distribution … they tend not to comment on the role of social security or the social wage, and hence on the final pattern of income distribution, except perhaps to leave a vague impression that social security will take care of those whom market forces leave living in poverty.

On the distribution of income, Milton Friedman, one of the founders of economic rationalism, wrote in 1962:

The ethical principle that would directly justify the distribution of income in a free market society is, “to each according to what he and the instruments he owns produces.”

From this, Friedman sees a primary function of the state as maintaining property rights, both physical and intellectual, and leaving the markets to get on with the job of using those property rights.

Another figure in economic rationalism is the late Friederich Hayek, important not only for his economic works, but also for The Road to Serfdom. In that work his basic argument was that government control of our economic lives amounts to totalitarianism. ‘Economic control is not merely control of a sector of human life which can be separated from the rest,’ he wrote, ‘it is the control of the means for all our ends.’

The earlier quote from Milton Friedman comes from his Capitalism and Freedom. It is this emphasis on freedom, as economic rationalists see it, that gives economic rationalism a non-economic dimension. Despite what its proponents may claim, it has profound social, not just economic, implications.

It has developed, and been taken on board politically, not simply as an economic approach but as a whole social philosophy based on old-style libertarianism, opposed to any form of government interference in markets and people’s lives — what it perceives as ‘socialism’.

It has also arisen from a long history in which happiness was removed from economics. A chapter in the World Happiness Report 2013 provides a potted history of this change: from the Greek philosophers and early Christian church’s view that happiness was achieved by being virtuous, to the economic theory of ‘utility’ in which individualism and consumerism prevailed. The early economic theorists brought material goods into the happiness equation, suggesting that people purchased that which brought them pleasure or happiness. In the twentieth century economics came to be dominated by mathematical formulae, and the question of whether market consumption could increase happiness and well-being was no longer a consideration.

Economic rationalism rose to prominence in politics in the 1980s, being adopted by the Thatcher and Reagan governments after the economic problems of the 1970s (as discussed in my earlier posts, ‘Whither the Left’). It was occurring at a time when socialism as a political and economic system was fading: glasnost was introduced in the Soviet Union from 1985; Poland had unrest from the early 1980s and voted in its own government in 1990; the Berlin Wall came down in 1989 and German reunification took place in 1990; and the Soviet Union fell and broke up in 1991. The politico-philosophical basis to question economic rationalism was itself in turmoil and economic rationalism rose with little philosophical opposition. By the early 1990s few socialist governments were left and economic rationalism was entrenched.

So entrenched has it become that markets are now often seen as the answer to social and environmental problems. Many, not just economic rationalists, now argue that protecting the environment requires putting a market value on it, no longer accepting that governments have a duty to respond and, if necessary, work towards changes in behaviour — no, that would distort the markets. Need more child care? — privatise it and allow the market to determine demand, supply and price. Need more jobs? — sorry, any government action will distort the markets but support the markets and the jobs will come (at the market’s price!).

Another sign of the entrenchment of economic rationalism is how the idea of ‘capitals’ has also permeated social thinking. Now people talk about ‘human capital’ and ‘social capital’ as though these are merely commodities that can add to economic production. Its lack of reference to values in the market, as opposed to its libertarian social thinking, may be its undoing. As Jeffrey D Sachs wrote in the World Happiness Report:

A prosperous market economy depends on moral ballast for several fundamental reasons. There must be enough social cooperation to provide public goods. There must be enough honesty to underpin a stable financial system. There must be enough attention paid to future generations to attend responsibly to the natural resource base. There must be enough regard for the poor to meet basic needs and protect social and political stability. [emphasis added]

In my piece, ‘Bringing Gross National Happiness into play’ I discussed alternative economic and social progress measurements to GDP, such as the Fordham Index of Social Health (FISH), the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) and the Social Progress Index (SPI). What I found fascinating in researching that piece was that those indexes have flat-lined since the late 1970s. I don’t think that is a coincidence.

The FISH and GPI, and even subjective surveys of ‘life satisfaction’ in the UK, appear to have increased throughout the early 1970s but from the late 1970s/early 1980s have barely moved and, in some cases, have fallen slightly. Applying the Gini coefficient to those times provides a similar result in many countries, particularly developed nations. From World War II to the 1970s there were improvements in wealth distribution (lessening inequality) but this began to reverse from the 1980s.

Guess what happened in the 1980s? No prize really for answering: ‘economic rationalism’.

The economic rationalists argue that ‘trickle down’ economics means that increasing wealth and free markets do improve life for those at the lower end of the socio-economic scale: they earn more money; they have more benefits from new consumer products to make life easier. Yes, that is true if you take WWII or 1850 as your starting point, but it takes no account of the relative benefits that are gained by different segments of the population as national wealth increases. The economic rationalists ignore that at their peril.

As discussed at the World Economic Forum in January 2014, increasing inequality can lead to increasing social unrest and then the economic rationalists’ belief in markets will be meaningless. Who will then seek government intervention to quell social upheavals? Perhaps they should be told the markets can take care of it!

The other aspects I discussed in ‘Bringing Gross National Happiness into play’ are also relevant here and are what gives me optimism that economic rationalism will falter in the coming years.

The fact that social well-being and life satisfaction have not improved since the 1970s, despite rising GPD, is leading to greater pressure for new measurements of progress to be adopted. Some of those are still market-based, in the sense that they take account of the real costs of production, including damage to the environment, but some are based on social well-being and life satisfaction or happiness.

Any move away from GDP as a measure of economic progress will impact the influence of economic rationalists. Improving social well-being is not something that can be solely achieved by the markets, particularly using the value-free models of economics or the libertarian approach. If these other indexes assume growing importance, as I think they will, there will be more pressure on governments to intervene and take active measures.

If governments start responding to social well-being indexes and levels of inequality they will be overriding pure market outcomes. The economic rationalists will argue that some of the problems can be addressed by social security payments but not by progressive taxation scales: that will not hold water, however, when the evidence of the new indicators comes into the public arena. When the costs of damage to the environment and the depletion of natural resources are factored into economic growth, more people will understand that our so-called economic success was not as successful as they had been led to believe and that it has come at a cost for future generations. More and more evidence will be available that questions the outcomes from a pure, market-driven approach and the economic rationalists will be seen for what they are: ideologues who may be ‘rationalists’, but who are not necessarily rational.

Despite what economic rationalists like to think, governments do take account of social values in their decision making — otherwise they would never be elected — and that will flow over into decisions affecting their beloved market. Then, the shibboleth of economic rationalism will be just that, an old expression identifying those few who refused to move with the times.

What do you think?

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TPS Team

11/05/2014Ken Wolff is back this week, with a concise discussion of the pros and cons, but mainly the cons, of the economic rationalism practised in Australia and around the globe. Did you know that the term itself, ‘economic rationalism’ is mainly used in Australia while elsewhere the same concept is described as ‘market liberalism’? Ken pares back the fundamentals of its theory, practice and praxis and argues his way to a very firm belief that while ‘market rules!’ for now, economic rationalism is on the wane. But there’s much more, of course and we hope you will enjoy exploring, and very probably being provoked, by this well-researched piece.

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11/05/2014Ken Once more you have gifted us with a scholarly statement, this time about ‘economic rationalism’, a shibboleth by whatever name it uses as a masquerade. The rationale of the economists who cling to this theory, which we still see stridently advanced by those in right-wing organizations such as the Institute of Public Affairs, and only a little less shrilly by Government ministers, is that ‘all boats rise with the tide’, a flawed analogy. They comfort themselves with this and the ‘trickle down’ theory of economics, namely that any benefit bestowed on those at the upper end of the scale of wages and wealth trickles down to those at the bottom, so that all benefit. This is generally so. What the economic rationalists decline to admit is that the benefit at the top exceeds, often by a large margin, the resultant benefit at the bottom, so that the gap widens and inequality increases. In his influential book, [i]Zombie Economics, How dead ideas still walk among us[/i] (Princeton University Press, 2010), the University of Queensland’s John Quiggin gives example after example to show that the trickle down hypothesis is false, and caps this with a telling graph of over forty years of household income distribution in the US from 1965 to 2005 that shows that those on the 95th percentile for income steadily improved their position by over fifty percent, while those on the 20th percentile and below were static. http://www.amazon.com/Zombie-Economics-Ideas-Still-among/dp/0691154546 He pointed out that the biggest challenge of the failure of the ‘Trickle-down Hypothesis’ is to understand why and how inequality increased so much under market liberalism (economic rationalism), and how it can be reversed. He sees restoring progressivity to the tax system as an obvious move. In his book [i]The Price of Inequality[/i] (Allen Lane, 2012), Joseph Stiglitz writes about its effects: “[i]Widely unequal societies do not function efficiently, and their economies are neither stable nor sustainable in the long term. When one interest group holds too much power, it succeeds in getting policies that benefit itself rather than policies that would benefit society as a whole. When the wealthiest use their power to benefit excessively the corporations they control, much needed revenues are diverted into the pockets of a few instead of benefitting society at large.”[/i] This is where economic rationalism leads. You can read more of Stiglitz’s ideas about inequality in [i]Focus on political ideology: Joseph E Stiglitz.[/i] http://www.thepoliticalsword.com/post/2012/12/13/Focus-on-political-ideology-Joseph-E-Stiglitz.aspx More recently, French economist Thomas Piketty in his book [i]Capital in the Twenty-First Century[/i] (Harvard University Press, 2014), addresses the issue of inequality in societies over the ages. He shows that modern economic growth and the diffusion of knowledge have allowed us to avoid inequalities on the apocalyptic scale predicted by Karl Marx. He goes on to say: “[i]But we have not modified the deep structures of capital and inequality as much as we thought in the optimistic decades following World War II. The main driver of inequality – the tendency of returns on capital to exceed the rate of economic growth – today threatens to generate extreme inequalities that stir discontent and undermine democratic values. But economic trends are not acts of God. Political action has curbed dangerous inequalities in the past, and may do so again”[/i]. http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/progressive-economics-forum/2014/05/new-gilded-age-ahead-thomas-pikettys-capital-twen John Quiggin also debunks the ‘Efficient Markets Hypothesis’ about which he writes: [i]“…it is the central doctrine of market liberalism, born just as the Keynesian era was drawing to a close.”[/i]. He continues: [i]“It was finally killed, in terms of intellectual credibility, by the Global Financial Crisis.”[/i] He goes on to say: [i]”Even as troubles emerged in 2007 with the ‘subprime mortgage’ crisis, advocates of the Hypothesis still believed that nothing would, or could, go badly wrong, and it was not until Bear Stearns was rescued from bankruptcy in March 2008 that confidence faltered, and with the nationalization of US mortgage agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in September, followed by the collapse of the investment banking industry and the bankruptcy of Lehmann Brothers, the Bank of America taking over Merrill Lynch, and Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan forced to seek government guarantees, confidence finally collapsed.”[/i] Although the evidence against the validity of economic rationalism as the preferred model of economics seems to have been convincingly discounted by many economists to the extent that it ought to be abandoned, there are still those who clasp it zealously to their bosoms as if it were Holy Writ. This is mystifying to the rational person, until comparisons are made with those who instinctively cling to extreme religious views as if they were ‘gospel’, and therefore proven and unarguable, or those who insist that global warming is a myth driven by those wanting to de-industrialize the world, and therefore to be ignored. There is no counter to such irrationality. Yet one would have hoped that academics in settings where intellectual rigor ought to be applied would be able rationally to dissect and analyse economic theories and reach a logical conclusion about which model, given the economic conditions that exist at the time, ought to be used to bring about the society we want. But of course there is disagreement even about this! At the end of his book, Quiggin gives an explanation for this enigma. Quoting Richard Posner, [i]‘a rare example of a market liberal who has changed his views and embraced Keynesianism’[/i], Quiggin says: [i]“Market correctives work very slowly in dealing with academic markets. Professors have tenure. They have lots of graduate students in the pipeline who need to get their PhDs. They have techniques that they know and are comfortable with. It takes a great deal to drive them out of their accustomed way of doing business.”[/i] There is another explanation for this recalcitrance. In his book: [i]The Structure of Scientific Revolutions[/i] (University of Chicago Press, 1962) Thomas Kuhn describes how he believes science (and let’s pretend economics is a science), actually works. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Structure_of_Scientific_Revolutions http://www.amazon.com/The-Structure-Scientific-Revolutions-Edition/dp/0226458083 Kuhn argues that it is an episodic model in which periods of conceptual continuity are interrupted by periods of revolutionary science. He gives many examples of how a scientific theory (‘paradigm’ is the term he used) becomes fashionable and is warmly embraced by mainstream scientists, yet as evidence accumulates that cast doubt on it and eventually makes it untenable, too many scientists still cling to it tenaciously, making convoluted attempts to explain away the disparities long beyond when they are overwhelming, until finally the theory is overturned in a ‘revolutionary’ way, what Kuhn called a ‘paradigm shift’. It seems to me that the same phenomenon exists in economics where there are many dominant paradigms to which individual economists and schools of economics cling despite the gathering and finally overwhelming evidence that they are wrong. It took eons before Becher’s phlogiston theory of combustion, developed in the 1660’s, became obsolete. It postulated that an unidentified fire-like element called ‘phlogiston’, thought to be contained within combustible bodies, was released during combustion. It was replaced only when the evidence supporting the phlogiston theory collapsed in the 1770’s when Lavoisier showed that combustion required a gas called oxygen. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phlogiston_theory Maybe it will take as long to shake the shibboleth of economic rationalism from its exalted perch.

Ken

11/05/2014Ad Thank you for your 'comment'. You almost put me to shame with the obvious depth of research in your response. Among others, I did read a little of John Quiggin in researching the piece. You may have to wait for my next piece, 'The wonderful world of economic rationalists' in which I address rising inequality in more detail. Unfortunately, I only came across Picketty's work after I had written both pieces - so perhaps there is a third to come. But there will be one piece of research in the next piece which will interest you: a piece by the US Congressional Research Service which debunks the link between lower taxes for the wealthy and increased savings, productivity and investment. I am a little more optimistic about the pace of change than is suggested by your final comment. The alternative indexes I have discussed previously are attracting more attention and economists like Stiglitz and Picketty, and James Kenneth Galbraith (son of the more well known John Kenneth Galbraith) are challenging the fundamentals of economic rationalism and sometimes even talking about Gross National Happiness. It is the pace of the spread of ideas these days that changes everything. It will only take one or two governments to start tracking their economies in new ways and the end of economic rationalism will then be rapid. It is that basic change that I think could be as soon as the 2020s.

Michael

12/05/2014A current shibboleth is the 'budget crisis/emergency' the Coalition has fabricated for this country. You can explore how relatively straightforward it is to absolutely remove this nation from 'budget crisis' here: http://www.theguardian.com/world/interactive/2014/may/09/budget-cuts-revenue-interactive?google_editors_picks=true Worth a visit and a 'go'. I saved the Federal government as representatives of the Australian people (remember that quaint notion?) 207 billion dollars, and reduced the deficit across the next 4 years by 103 billion dollars. The exercise doesn't include how to reallocate such savings, but I can tell you right now 'Australia Border Force' would be no more than a punchline to sick jokes, Manus Island would be returned to the exclusive use of Manus Islanders, ditto for Nauru, and the Coalition parties' members would be invited to join in a social experiment in a Western Australia gated enclave run on the political, economic and sociological principles of Honorary Professor Gine Rinehart.

Casablanca

12/05/2014 Bill Shorten's 47th birthday today (b.12 May 1967)

DMW

12/05/2014Morning Ken, great work ... ... and Ad you have certainly added extra dimensions to the discussion Thank you both Taking a slight tangent which may come back to reinforce some of what is discussed this part stood out: [i]In Australia, before economic rationalism, ‘full employment’ was often seen as having an unemployment level of about 2% (which was achieved in the 1960s until the mid-1970s). Since the 1980s, a level of about 5% has become acceptable.[/i] One thing that the economic vandals, oops rationalists, do is, if numbers look bad they shift the goal posts. Unemployment statistics is an example. The way the statistics on employment are collected and reported have changed considerably from the '60's so that they cannot be directly compared. A 5% figure in the '60's could equate to a figure anywhere between 7.5% & 12.5% and possibly bigger. Something that may help move thinking toward using different and possibly better measures would be to use the term [b][i]'Statistical [/i][/b] Unemployment' and after using it say '[b][i]Real [/i][/b] Unemployment may be as high as xx%' There is more that can be said in the area of employment but I will hold my fire on that and leave it with this question: [i]In what sane and reasonable world is having one person in twenty unemployed considered reasonable?[/i]

Ken

12/05/2014DMW Would have responded earlier but have been busy mowing the lawn. Where I am, that should be the last time before spring (nothing grows once the frosts arrive). I can't argue with the statistics but I do know that unemployment was very low during the early 1970s and I do recall politicians of the time talking about 'full employment' meaning an unemployment rate of 1-2%. And I recall more recent politicians talking about 5% unemployment being 'full employment'. It began changing when the high inflation of the 1970s hit (it hit Australia in 1974). Although the oil crisis played a large part, some economists even then said the low unemployment contributed in Oz. The argument goes that when the demand for labour is so high the workers can demand higher wages and, of course, it is higher wages that drive inflation (???). With a larger unemployment pool wages can be kept down. That view of course also drives the current economic rationalists. They don't see the irony that the higher wages were driven by the market for labour nor that they are demanding the market be manipulated (distorted) by having higher unemployment. Yes, they claim that markets rule except when it may mean a higher price for labour.

DMW

12/05/2014Interesting Tweet: Melissa Parke MP ‏@MelissaParkeMP 20m It's time we had a federal ICAC to turn over a few rocks and see what's underneath #auspol #icac

2353

12/05/2014Great starter Ken - well done. According to Wikipedia, the 'full employment' number is always greater than zero; but the rest depends on the time, place, country and who is telling the story. My mid noughties Economics lectures suggested 5% was the magic number - but acknowledged that the number changes over time.

2353

12/05/2014Ooops - forgot the link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Full_employment

Janet (j4gypsy)

12/05/2014This piece from Crikey: [b]Ignore what the Coalition says, focus on whom it helps[/b] [i]by Bernard Keane [/i]| May 12, 2014 12:29PM The Coalition’s propensity to say whatever is politically necessary at the time regardless of truth means the best way to assess the budget is to focus on who benefits. [i]“Labor has a spending problem, not a revenue problem.” — Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey, March 25, 2013[/i] Well, as it turns out, however, Labor really did have a revenue problem. From opposition it all looked so easy — just cut Labor’s enormous waste, end the profligacy that was in the Labor DNA and replace it with the urge to fiscal discipline in the Liberal DNA, and the budget would whir back into surplus. Treasurer Joe Hockey even committed to a surplus in his first year as recently as just over a year ago. But the Coalition got into office and, for all today’s rather sad efforts to portray in the media (“Exclusive!”) axing a few agencies as a scythe-like demolition of the public service, discovered that all that Labor largesse it thought was there, wasn’t. Indeed, Labor had so viciously hacked into the public service that the Coalition had to dump its long-planned assault on the bureaucracy. Thus, on the eve of Smokin’ Joe’s first budget, the political focus has been on revenue — a temporary rise in income taxes for high-income earners and a permanent rise in fuel excise for all of us, supposedly hypothecated to roads funding, but that will just mean roads funding from general revenue will be cut, as it should be (which commentators actually bother to pick this up in their budget coverage will be handy test of their quality). But this dissonance between what the Coalition said in opposition and what it now says isn’t merely about being mugged by reality, or even about breaking promises. The weekend’s silliness about freezing MPs’ pay, announced triumphantly in a drop to News Corp papers, was highly symbolic. The Rudd government had done precisely the same thing — but who should have railed against that but Tony Abbott himself, who labelled it a “populist stunt” while, apparently, living hand-to-mouth on his post-2007 salary. It demonstrated how, on virtually any issue, from climate change to paid parental leave to the economy to taxation to political consistency itself, it is straightforward to find a quote in which Tony Abbott has declared, hand on heart, entirely the opposite to his current position. Meanwhile, Smokin’ Joe was continuing to insist that lifting taxes after he’d promised not to lift taxes wasn’t a broken promise, both because the Coalition had never said it wouldn’t raise taxes and because in any event the higher taxes weren’t higher taxes but “levies”, or “contributions”, or anything other than “taxes”, really. Not for Joe the more laborious but correct approach of explaining that the Howard government had been wrong to freeze the fuel excise and that it was in Australia’s long-term interests to restore it, however much motorists may resent it. Just pretend it’s not a breach of faith — and points to Hockey for having a double explanation, like he could trip up those “broken promise” peddlers both coming and going. [i] “… the most sound analytical approach is to ignore what the Coalition says and focus entirely on who benefits from its use of power.” [/i] “I’m not playing word games,” Hockey averred, hilariously, to Laurie Oakes during one such discussion. Indeed, it’s less like playing word games and more like waterboarding the English language. It’s beyond casuistry; it makes John Howard’s legendary parsing of his own statements look epistemologically rigorous. It’s all so laboured that the press gallery’s best journalists, even the government’s cheerleaders at News Corp, have begun thoughtfully stroking their chins and contemplating how voters will react. Is this flagrant and repeated breaching of the Coalition’s promises Abbott’s Gillard moment, they wonder? (Well, no, unless Labor can perform like Abbott did.) Will it permanently damage his government and his own prime ministership? Even Paul “Magic Water” Sheehan today wondered if Abbott was barking mad, a topic on which, for once, Sheehan might be able to bring to bear some expertise. But all this was predictable, on the basis that Abbott would continue in government as he had acted in opposition, given how successful he had been. Tony Abbott has long been on course to be our first post-modern Prime Minister*, a leader unencumbered by any belief in the value of truth or consistency. Partisan types will Godwin the whole business and refer to “Goebbels” and “Big Lies”, but that misses the point that this isn’t about what’s true or false; such distinctions are for lesser folk. For Abbott, the truth or falsity of a statement is irrelevant: his statements are true because, as he declared a year ago, “they just are”; he is interested in a higher truth of what serves his own interests. And in any event, it’s not a lie if you actually believe it, and Hockey and Abbott actually believed mountains of Labor waste awaited them in once they got into government. Some, like John Quiggin, argue that a lack of interest in facts is increasingly a characteristic of the Right — that it’s in the Liberals’ DNA, so to speak — which overlooks that relativism has been a defining characteristic of much of the scholarship from the cultural Left from the 1970s onward and is still to be found adorning identity politics. It is true, however, that progressive parties like Labor, especially, in Australia, and the Democrats in the US, have struggled to find a way to counter how politicians of the Right have freed themselves from the shackles of consistency and evidence. But for now, the most sound analytical approach is to ignore what the Coalition says and focus entirely on who benefits from its use of power. That will provide the most basic test of its first budget. [i]*I lay no claim to predictive powers, given my earlier prediction that Abbott would reduce the Liberal Party to a “reactionary rump”[/i] __________________________________________________________

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12/05/2014Michael That is a very revealing exercise on how to achieve a budget surplus. Janet (j4gypsy) Bernard Keane's appraisal is one we ought to remember.

Casablanca

13/05/2014 [b]CASABLANCA'S CACHE. Tuesday, 13 May, 2014 20 items[/b] ICAC & OTHER COMMISSIONS 1. The party donors ICAC doesn't see Mike Seccombe, The Saturday Paper "The electoral funding regulations are different in every state and territory and the commonwealth... Some restrict donations from particularly corruption-prone industries, such as property development or gambling, and some do not." http://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/news/politics/2014/05/10/the-party-donors-icac-doesnt-see/1399644000#.U3AMm15CiL1 2. Which way to look? By Kaye Lee It is perhaps not surprising that the Royal Commission into union corruption is to begin the day before the budget is brought down. In a fortuitous coincidence, Ralph Blewitt happens to be in town, so they are going to begin… http://theaimn.com/2014/05/11/which-way-to-look/ BUDGET BLUDGEONING 3. What's driving the budget? It isn't Newstart, family or disability benefits Peter Martin Newstart, family tax benefits and the disability support pension – all targeted in the budget – are growing far more slowly than other government spending, a new analysis finds. Prepared by the Australian Council of Social Service from estimates used by the Commission of Audit, the analysis finds total government spending on track to grow 3.7 per cent a year above the rate of inflation for the next decade. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/business/federal-budget/whats-driving-the-budget-it-isnt-newstart-family-or-disability-benefits-20140512-zraet.html 4. Australia's 'unsustainable' health spending is a myth By Jeff Richardson, Monash University The unsustainability of government health expenditure in Australia is a myth that has been carefully nurtured to justify policies to transfer costs from government to the public. Tomorrow’s budget is expected… http://theconversation.cmail3.com/t/r-l-xtifit-trhltityg-h/ 5. Cracks in PM Abbott and Treasurer Hockey's deficit levy Sophie Morris Blame laying and calls for heavy lifting aside, it’s time for Joe Hockey to take ownership of the economy. http://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/news/politics/2014/05/10/cracks-pm-abbott-and-treasurer-hockeys-deficit-levy/1399644000#.U3C13rVzDX6 6. This is a Budget for the true believers By Paula Matthewson For the Coalition, this Budget isn't about fulfilling every little pre-election commitment, it's about convincing its loyal base that it is still a better economic manager http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-05-12/matthewson-this-is-a-budget-for-the-true-believers/5445678 7. The state of Australia: our people By Graeme Hugo In the lead-up to the budget, the story of crisis has been hammered home, but there’s more to a country than its structural deficit. So how is Australia doing overall? In this special series, ten writers… http://theconversation.cmail3.com/t/r-l-xtifit-trhltityg-c/ 8. Budget broken promises pose key choices for Bill Shorten and the Greens By Michelle Grattan There is no doubt Tuesday’s budget is going to be full of broken promises and “nasties” that hit most people... In terms of its word, this is a dishonest government. The spin makes it worse, as it defends its tax rises. http://theconversation.cmail3.com/t/r-l-xtifit-trhltityg-g/ 9. Abbott's guide to how (not) to sell your budget By Dee Madigan The way Tony Abbott has fumbled the pre-budget messaging means he is in serious danger of hurting the Liberal Party brand http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-05-12/madigan-abbotts-guide-to-how-not-to-sell-your-budget/5445910 10. Reverse mortgages need a rethink if they're the new age pension By Harry Scheule, University of Technology, Sydney The Commission of Audit has recommended including homes above a certain value in the means test that determines who gets the age pension and how much. Under the proposal, homes valued in excess of A$500,000… http://theconversation.cmail3.com/t/r-l-xtifit-trhltityg-o/ 11. At What Cost? Victoria Rollison As we await the release of tomorrow’s Federal Budget, it would appear in Abbott-land, not all promises are born equal. The promise to return the budget to surplus is clearly far more important to Abbott than promises not to cut… http://theaimn.com/2014/05/12/at-what-cost/ 12. ‘Learn or earn’ is the politicians’ equivalent of Stairway to Heaven According to the Australian, the Abbott government’s first budget will include tough new "learn or earn" Measures designed to force young people off the dole and into education, training or work. "One thing the government doesn’t want to do is to continue to pay people to stay at home and do nothing," a senior government source said. http://clubtroppo.com.au/2014/05/11/learn-or-earn-is-the-politicians-equivalent-of-stairway-to-heaven/ 13. Faith and politics and ... economics? By Andrew West We think of religious teaching as informing the debates on same-sex marriage and abortion, but sideline its influence on our economic life http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-05-12/west-faith-and-politics-and-economics/5447236 ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION 14. Power failure Philip Chubb It was the moment when the Rudd government lost its way... Kevin Rudd had promised to act on climate change... the inside story of a policy, and a leader, in freefall. http://www.themonthly.com.au/blog/philip-chubb/2014/05/12/1399860108/power-failure 15. Cities are failing to cope with global challenges By Brendan Gleeson, University of Melbourne The old German saying Stadt Luft Macht Frei (“urban air makes you free”) is the defining injunction of modernity. Modern western cities were launched as the vessels of liberation from a human era darkened… http://theconversation.cmail3.com/t/r-l-xtifit-trhltityg-u/ DOWNGRADING SCIENCE INNOVATION AND RESEARCH 16. The state of Australia: science innovation and research By Matthew Bailes, Swinburne University of Technology In the lead up to the budget, the story of crisis has been hammered home, but there’s more to a country than its structural deficit. So how is Australia doing overall? In this special series, ten writers… http://theconversation.cmail3.com/t/r-l-xtifit-trhltityg-z/ MEDIA 17. Why can’t journalists ask the obvious questions? By James Fitzgerald We are all frustrated at the lack of scrutiny afforded to our politicians, and in particular to the government’s repeated claims that we have a debt crisis. Why is it, however, that there don’t appear to be any journalists http://theaimn.com/2014/05/11/why-cant-journalists-ask-the-obvious-questions/ 18. “For Gods sake don’t read the Australian you’ll die!!” By turnleft2016 Tony Windsor (former NSW independent for New England) is well-known for his classic anti-The Australian comments. Tony Windsor I don’t have to read the paper. I don’t read The Australian anyway. Our family still uses Sorbent. (Lateline Broadcast: 29/11/2012) Tony… http://theaimn.com/2014/05/11/for-gods-sake-dont-read-the-australian-youll-die/ DISSENT 19. Two sides – The Right And If You’re Left, You’re A Pest. By rossleighbrisbane This morning “The Herald-Sun” continued its campaign against any form of protest with its front page devoted to calling the Occupy Melbourne movement “Selfish Pests”, while Andrew Bolt suggests that the students on Q & A were “thugs” destroying free speech by exercising their own. Ah where were they when the Convoy of No Consequence was attempting to deliberately trying to shut down Canberra? (I know, who’d notice, eh?) http://theaimn.com/2014/05/08/two-sides-the-right-and-if-youre-left-youre-a-pest/ SATIRE 20. Why Ossie Sacked the Housekeeper… And why the new one is so much better… rossleighbrisbane “Economics. The romance of truth through measurement. “An understanding of the value of economics can best be established by using its own methods. Draw up a list of the large economic problems to have stuck the West over the last quarter http://theaimn.com/2014/05/12/why-ossie-sacked-the-housekeeper-and-why-the-new-one-is-so-much-better/ OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Casablanca

13/05/2014 CASABLANCA'S CACHE. Budget Day & my Birthday. 13 May, 2014. [b]The day of reckoning...[/b] Posted above and at: http://www.thepoliticalsword.com/page/CC-2014-05-13.aspx

Patriciawa

13/05/2014Happy Birthday, Casablanca! Thank you for that big reading list too! You have earned a holiday for yourself now on this special day.

2353`

13/05/2014Happy birthday Casablanca. Hope you take some time from your labours to enjoy yourself.

Ad astra

13/05/2014Happy, Happy Birthday Casablanca. Enjoy your special day. Thank you once more for your Cache. I wonder what the media commentary will be tomorrow?

Casablanca

13/05/2014 Thank you Patriciawa. Actually there were not many scintillating articles out there in the lead up to the Budget. I hesitated over including item 13. 'Faith and politics and ... economics?' as I am sick of the hypocrisy on display from our Christian Politicians who have a very unchristian approach to the poor and under-privileged not to mention refugees. The footage of Abbott leaving St Christopher's Cathedral following morning mass today was farcical at best. Another recent article, 'What Pope Francis thinks about Abbott's Audit' refers to the Pope's skepticism about the 'trickle-down' theory beloved of Conservative politicians: [quote]This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralised workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting.[/quote] The article concludes, [quote] to the extent that the Government owns and acts upon the recommendations of the audit report, it will be at odds with Pope Francis and all who value social inclusion.[/quote] http://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=40347#.U3G6QLVzBZY

Janet (j4gypsy)

13/05/2014Another critically important piece from Guardian Australia at http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/may/13/keeping-labor-out-does-the-liberal-party-stand-for-anything-else. (And happy birthday to Casablanca! :-)) [b]Keeping Labor out: does the Liberal party stand for anything else?[/b] [u]by Norman Abjorensen[/u] [i]The Liberal party, formed in response to Labor, has always been a reluctant party. As they let business take over, it's becoming clear they're now reluctant about government itself[/i] The Liberal party of Australia marks its 70th anniversary this year, by far the most enduring conservative party in the nation’s history and also the most successful. For 43 of those years it has held the reins of government in Canberra, and currently enjoys an almost complete domination of the political landscape, yet the Liberal party remains a curious beast: frustratingly elusive, little understood and not a little contradictory. It is emphatically not given to reflection, and certainly not to remorse. It differs starkly in this regard from its principal foe, the Labor party, prone to a fault to navel gaze, over-analyse and second guess itself. But this difference is itself part of a strange but enduring paradox, and a kind of symbiosis: without a Labor party there would probably be no need for a Liberal party. The first step in coming to grips with the Liberal party is to appreciate that it is a reluctant party, a party that would rather not have to exist. Until the rupture of the 1890s, Australian politics was something of an amateur game, played hard but with no great issues at stake. The chaps who identified with the squatters and pastoral interests called themselves conservatives and the middle-class lawyers and traders from the cities thought of themselves as liberals. Mostly, they drank at the same clubs, salved their consciences at the same churches and frequented the same brothels. It was all rather chummy until some liberals began to talk about democracy, and even worse, take it seriously. Some saw a commonality of interest with working men in opposing the influence of the conservatives, whose safe positions in the legislative councils, where a property qualification was needed to cast a vote, meant that they could exercise a powerful and frequent veto. That, by and large, was the story until 1890, when bitter strikes and their savage repression – led, incidentally, by liberals such as Alfred Deakin – showed the superficiality of the liberal-worker alliance. When push came to shove, the liberals and the conservatives were one as defenders of capital. So the Labor party was born, and soon won the balance of power in the New South Wales legislative assembly. Alfred Deakin 'In 1890, bitter strikes and their savage repression – led, incidentally, by liberals such as Alfred Deakin – showed the superficiality of the liberal-worker alliance.' Photograph: flickr The Labor party bound its members to vote along caucus lines by making them swear a pledge – the beginning of party discipline in Australia. Such regimentation alarmed the other loose groupings, by now organised more around free trade and protection. It also horrified the worthies, liberal and conservative alike, who viewed representative democracy as the preserve of men of civic substance, like themselves. The liberals could never accept Labor’s party discipline, nor its union base, but were threatened by the new party's capture of the workers' vote and success in the 1908 election. So in 1909 the liberal protectionists reluctantly merged with the conservative free traders in what became known as the “fusion” Liberal party. Thus began the two-party system we know today, changed only with the addition of the Country party (now the Nationals) to the conservative camp in 1919. The fusion and its successor parties showed an adaptable pragmatism in fighting the Labor threat, with no ideological qualms about accommodating ALP dissidents. In 1917 the fusion merged with pro-conscription Labor defectors and became the Nationalist party. Twenty-five years later the Nationalists took on more dissidents and became the United Australia party, with conservative Labor figure Joseph Lyons leading the new party against Labor's more radical approach during the Great Depression. The UAP, the immediate predecessor to today’s Liberal party, was run, organised and funded by a cabal of business figures in Melbourne who called the shots, selected the candidates and largely dictated policy. It was precisely these people who sent Robert Menzies to Canberra in 1934, presumably to take over, but Lyons didn't budge until his death in 1939, just four months before the outbreak of the second world war. The UAP disintegrated in the face of John Curtin's 1943 victory, after four years of white-anting and leadership struggles. The question of how conservative politics could survive in the face of a resurgent Labor party was again raised. Menzies, uncharacteristically chastened, set about picking up the pieces, making speeches and building bridges to other anti-Labor groups. Eventually at the end of 1944, he formed the Liberal party as we know it today. Robert Menzies and Queen Elizabeth II 'The UAP disintegrated after four years of white-anting and leadership struggles. An uncharacteristically chastised Menzies set about picking up the pieces.' Robert Menzies and Queen Elizabeth II. Photograph: National Archives of Australia NAA: A1773, RV490 Menzies was adamant that the new party had to learn from the ALP model: a continuous organisation between elections, a research capacity, a branch structure, a footprint in the community and most importantly, transparency in fund-raising that clearly separated responsibilities between the organisation and the elected members. He saw first-hand the public distaste at powerful business interests being seen to pull the strings, a lesson that Liberals in NSW seem to have forgotten, given the current imbroglio over secret donations. Obviously, much has changed since then. Society has changed. White Australia is a thing of the past, capitalism has evolved, the Keynesian consensus has been abandoned and the mixed economy dismantled, globalisation has internationalised the economy in a way once unimaginable, and the Cold War has become the culture war. Above all, the very idea of government has undergone an extensive rethink, with the economic libertarianism of Milton Friedman and minimal government of Robert Nozick having a powerful influence on Liberal party thinking. Like the conservatives in the US and Britain, the Liberals were deeply impressed by the 1975 manifesto, The Crisis of Democracy, put together by three political scientists, commissioned by banker David Rockefeller and his international business cabal, the Trilateral Commission. It should have been called The Crisis of Capitalism, as its thesis identified government as the enemy of profit. Because of demands put upon government by existing and emerging pressure groups, such as women and ethnic minorities, government was being asked to do too much, and people had to be discouraged from political engagement. In short, government was no longer a mechanism for addressing social problems but had been recast as the enemy of capitalism. It was a fateful rupture that effectively destroyed a broad post-war consensus. Yet in a very real sense, the basic raison d’être of the Liberal party remains as steadfast as ever: to keep Labor out of office. If this appears to be too negative a reading of the party’s mission, one has only to look only at a recent survey of members in NSW, by Denise Jepsen of Macquarie University’s Faculty of Business and Economics. Of almost 300 members polled, 89 per cent strongly agreed that among their reasons for joining the party was a desire to “to keep Labor out” (compared with 55% wishing “to help local candidates,” for example). What, then, is so odious about the Labor party? While the parties have converged on many issues, the ALP remains (however feebly) wedded to a mildly redistributive program, which cuts across the now universal neoliberal paradigm of government that is the new orthodoxy of the Liberal party. This – essentially an argument about the appropriate role and size of government in the economy, including in industrial relations – is the main area of contention today. The Labor party still sees government as a means of achieving social progress. Capitalism’s greatest triumph has been to decouple the economy from the political contest, as though the economy exists separately and outside politics. In this transformative shift, the liberalism in liberal democracy has overtaken and minimised the democracy; the dominant constituency is no longer the people but the corporate world. The “wet versus dry” battles, between the moderate and economic rationalist wings of the Liberal party, are now all but over; the last wets the victims of a swift and destructive political climate change. Their language was simply no longer the language of a party that had turned neoliberal. The new party agenda appears to be simple: the removal of all brakes from the influence of business on politics. Never mind that such brakes might serve a useful social purpose, as does regulation. The influence of think tanks like the Institute of Public Affairs, which Menzies deliberately kept at arm’s length, is now profound. Their fingerprints are everywhere to be seen. The brazen shopping list of the Commission of Audit – in essence, a blueprint for dismantling government – comes as little surprise when you look at its ideologically slanted membership: chairman Tony Shepherd, former president of the Business Council of Australia, and the head of the commission secretariat, Peter Crone, the BCA’s chief economist, and joined by three committed free marketeers. The BCA has a long record as one of the more conservative business lobbies. When you couple this with the extraordinary situation in Queensland, with the Newman government engaging QCoal executive James Mackay to write environment policy, and the scandal involving the junk food lobby and assistant health minister Fiona Nash, an inescapable fact starts to emerge: the notion that government somehow stands between powerful vested interests and powerless people, and mediates outcomes, has been completely and utterly trashed. The Liberal party of the past, certainly under Menzies and Fraser, took the mediating role of government as an assumed social responsibility. Even John Howard was content at times to wear the wrath of the party ideologues for his pragmatism. But the Abbott-Hockey regime is qualitatively different: the party that didn’t want to become a party is now a government, apparently, that doesn’t believe in government. ___________________________________________________

Ken

13/05/2014re tonight's budget. Interesting that the leaks are now suggesting that the deficit over the next four years will be about $60 billion instead of the $120 billion projected in the MYEFO. Purely by coincidence this almost the same figure that Treasury put out before the election (the PEFO). The difference between MYEFO and PEFO is that PEFO is purely a Treasury document. MYEFO is a government document. Most of the increase has come from Abbott government decisions and by Hockey insisting that the growth estimates be put at the lower end of forecasts. I can say that as an ex public servant because that is how it works. Treasury will usually provide forecasts in a small range and it is then the government which decides which it will choose to use in public documents. So basically what we have is a government pulling the old sales trick: I will increase the price of my item from $50 to $100 and then a few weeks later, declare a 50% off sale and sell it at $50. Yes, this government has learned well from its business mates!!!

Curi-Oz

13/05/2014Dear Aunty http://wp.me/p3xJZ6-7j A letter to the ABC after last week's QandA

Ken

13/05/2014PS Just to explain a bit better what I mean about the government influence on Treasury figures. Any forecasts are based on a number of assumptions. Usually for political reasons, a Treasurer may question Treasury officials about the assumptions and suggest they are either too optimistic or too pessimistic. This will usually be within the range that Treasury considers appropriate but it gives scope to move those assumptions slightly - so instead of an assumed growth of, say, 3%, within a range of 2.5% to 3.5%, the Treasurer may say he wants the forecasts based on 2.75% which, while only 0.25% lower can have a significant impact on a $400 billion budget forecast. With these tricks, and if growth is actually closer to Treasury's initial assumption, the government then claims credit for the change.

Ken

13/05/2014J4gypsy Very interesting piece from The Guardian. I recently read an opinion piece in Forbes magazine which confirms this radical right view that there is really no role for government. It argues that government was losing its role with the rise of the mercantile class and the businesses of the industrial revolution during the 1800s but reasserted itself and grew during the two world wars and the great depression. And concludes by suggesting that we can rid ourselves of governments in the twenty-first century. I won't go into all the details because I hope to use it in another piece. I must admit when I first read it I thought it may be satire but after three reads I realised this bloke was serious. Norman Abjorensen is right: that attitude underpins the Abbott Liberal party and especially its business cronies.

Casablanca

13/05/2014 [b]Budget 2014: Joe Hockey delivers deep pain for little gain[/b] Lenore Taylor Big cuts for employed and sick people, students, pensioners and families – but few measures that will quickly 'repair' the budget http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/13/budget-2014-joe-hockey-delivers-deep-pain-for-little-gain?CMP=twt_gu

jaycee

13/05/2014The saying goes..: ‘If you do not learn from history, you will repeat the errors…”…Check this out as an echo of prophesy from Theodor Mommsen…”History of Rome vol’4…1866…chap’ 11, p. 521..” “…the Italy of Ciceronian epoch resembles substantially…and still more decidedly the Cartharge of Hannibal’s time, where in exactly similar fashion the all powerful rule of capital ruined the middle-class, raised trade and estate-farming to the highest prosperity, and ultimately led to a -hypocritically whitewashed- moral and political corruption of the nation. All the arrant sins that capital has been guilty of against nation and civilisation in the modern world, remain as far inferior to the abominations of the ancient capitalist states as the free man, be he ever so poor, remains superior to the slave; and not until the dragon-seed of North America ripens, will the world have again similar fruits to reap. Will we learn from history or be forever repeating it?….what beggars belief, is that this piece of history that I, a carpenter, am relating to you, seems to have been grossly forgotten by so many Oxford graduates….what price or value the classic education now?

Casablanca

14/05/2014[b]The Conversation: Federal Budget analysis & commentary. [/b] We’ve got more to come, but for a start here's analysis and commentary from Michelle Grattan and her team of five in the Budget 2014 lock-up, plus insights from the dozens of academics who have been responding throughout this evening and this podcast with economics commentator Tim Colebatch. Hint: If you’re looking for a short-cut, start with our 30-sec infographics [b]Budget at a Glance[/b] http://theconversation.com/infographic-the-promises-vs-budget-measures-26660 and [b]election promises vs Budget reality[/b]. http://theconversation.com/infographic-the-promises-vs-budget-measures-26660. Then take a deeper dive. More on Wednesday. Andrew Jaspan Editor, The Conversation http://theconversation.com/au

Pappinbarra Fox

14/05/2014Gotta love that nice Mr Palmer on ABC breakfast

2353`

14/05/2014As someone that believes that we all should pay for and acceptible level of community services by Government in general to those that are less well off or less capable of making their own way, hopefully this budget will have an effect of ensuring that future Governments can raise taxes and charges to assist those individuals tha need it. It is delightfully ironic that Abbott will take the political hit for cancelling out some of Howard's obvious vote buying from 10 years ago. Hopefully Australians will be used to funding an appropriate level of service by the time the Abbott one term government is consigned to the dust bin of history.

Michael

14/05/2014Hockey dancing in self-celebration before the Budget, Abbott smirking and giggling all through its frailest in society bashing delivery, that's Australia under (most definitely UNDER) the Coalition gumnint.

Casablanca

14/05/2014 [b]A budget of suicidal heroism[/b] Alan Kohler The thing that wasn’t leaked from this most leaked of budgets was the extent of the cuts to health and welfare. An average of more than $6 billion a year is being cut from health and social services programmes -- $25.8bn over four years, from dozens of programmes. It goes far beyond what the Commission of Audit recommended, and is one of the biggest reductions in Australian health and welfare spending in history. http://www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2014/5/13/politics/budget-suicidal-heroism

Ken

14/05/2014In my earlier comments I suggested the way in which the Treasurer influences the projections that go into the Budget and it appears that may have happened. I noticed on the SBS late news last night that a commentator from ComSec said he thought the 'growth' projections were conservative. In other words, real growth in the economy and in government revenue may well be higher than suggested by this budget. Can you see a political ploy in place? Make sure the budget looks worse than it is to justify all the cuts that would have been made anyway (purely for ideological reasons). Then claim the credit when things improve "quicker" than expected. Then in 2016, just before the election, announce tax cuts (a "dividend" of the so-called improved growth) that will come into effect in 2018-19 just before the following election.

Ken

14/05/2014I also noticed in the Budget papers that one impact on government revenue was slower than expected wages growth. Income tax provides the largest slice of government revenue and as wages grow so does government revenue. But when wages are growing at a slower rate than inflation, then the government is losing out. But with rabid right wingers backing the government and pushing for lower wages, that is what they want. They create the downward spiral that reduces the capacity of government and increases their own power.

Ad astra

14/05/2014Folks To be classed as an ‘emergency’, a situation has to pose an immediate threat to life, health, property, or environment, has already caused loss of life, health detriments, property damage, or environmental damage and has a high probability of escalating to cause immediate danger to life, health, property, or environment. The key element is [b]immediacy[/b]. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emergency Tony Abbott, Joe Hockey and Mathias Cormann have confected a ‘budget emergency’. There is no inherent immediacy in this so-called ‘crisis’. There is a long-term structural budget problem that all sides of politics recognize, but there is no ‘emergency’. So, why have they done this? I believe there are two cogent reasons. First, but not the most important, is a continuing and venomous intention to trash Labor and all it did in government. More important though is its intention to convert into policy its strongly held ideological position, which George Lakoff attributes to the ‘Strict Father’ model of parenting that conservatives favour, which in turn translates into political morality. Lakoff uses the model of parenting because of its congruence with the ‘Nation as Family’ metaphor, which he elaborates upon as follows: The Nation is a Family. The Government is a Parent. The Citizens are the Children. Lakoff cites words and phrases used over and over in conservative discourse, words that reflect the Strict Father model: Character, virtue, discipline, tough it out, get tough, tough love, strong, self-reliance, individual responsibility, backbone, standards, authority, heritage, competition, earn, hard work, enterprise, property rights, reward, freedom, intrusion, interference, meddling, punishment, human nature, traditional, common sense, dependency, self-indulgent, elite, quotas, breakdown, corrupt, decay, rot, degenerate, deviant, lifestyle. How many times have you heard Coalition members use these words, particularly those who have responsibility for the economy: Tony Abbott, Joe Hockey and Mathias Cormann? Countless times! Recently, they have added: [i]‘We are all in this together’, ‘We must all do the heavy lifting’[/i] and [i]‘We must do this for the benefit of our children’[/i], family similes [i]par excellence[/i]. [b]In my view folks, what we are seeing is simply a playing out of the Coalition’s fervently held ideological position, a position it has held for a long while, one held by that ultra-conservative think tank, the Institute of Public Affairs. George Lakoff is spot on. Last night's Budget is the harsh external manifestation of Coalition ideology.[/b] http://www.thepoliticalsword.com/page/The-myth-of-political-sameness.aspx

DMW

14/05/2014Hi Ad, my inner cynic is telling me that we all must have misunderstood what Mr Hockey and that other bloke were saying about the [i]Budget Emergency[/i] What they were really saying is we [b]create[/b] a budget emergency. The act of delivering this odd/strange budget has already created damage to the mental health of some very vulnerable people. The threat to the health of the environment has the potential to cause dire consequences for all of us.

Ken

14/05/2014DMW Yes, not a word about climate change in the Budget speech (unless I missed something - I was forced to turn it off!!). But cuts to any body that was involved in climate change and renewable energy. Talk about class war - something they often accused Labor of. They have just helped create it. A few commentators have already mentioned it. Cuts for the vulnerable but lower taxes for companies. If that isn't class war, what is it!

Casablanca

14/05/2014 [b]A budget of suicidal heroism[/b] Alan Kohler The thing that wasn’t leaked from this most leaked of budgets was the extent of the cuts to health and welfare. An average of more than $6 billion a year is being cut from health and social services programmes -- $25.8bn over four years, from dozens of programmes. It goes far beyond what the Commission of Audit recommended, and is one of the biggest reductions in Australian health and welfare spending in history. http://www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2014/5/13/politics/budget-suicidal-heroism [b]A Budget to enshrine inequality [/b] Andrew Hamilton Governments have always included in their budgets a 'we're serious' clause as part of their determination to fix the economy. It has normally been directed at the vices of the underclass such as alcohol and tobacco. Now governments slash spending on the welfare of the disadvantaged. http://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=40405#.U3KuE7VzBZY [b]Budget more slow-burn than big bang[/b] Jackie Brady The Budget does not signal an end to the 'age of entitlement', as there are still plenty of beneficiaries of government expenditure or foregone revenue. You don't need to be an economist to see that collectively the Budget measures will impact negatively on the income levels of the poor and disadvantaged. The discussion now must be who will pick up the pieces left behind by Government in developing a system with obvious gaps. http://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=40403#.U3KucbVzBZY

Ken

14/05/20142353 Agree that the only 'positive' of this Budget is that it does open the way for greater acceptance of tax increases in the future to meet real needs (not confected ones). Also as you say, a large part of the problem was the wasted opportunities in the Howard-Costello years when the revenue from the mining boom was given out in vote buying, reducing long term government revenue.

Ken

14/05/2014I would like to add a few notes about the non-political workings of the Budget. For example, I don't think increasing the pension age to 70 is a Government idea. It comes from Treasury. Treasury tried it out with Labor and got agreement to go to 67. Now with a new more pliable government, they got what they wanted. If you recall, they did the same with the GST first pushing it when Keating was a new Treasurer. It did not get up then, but Treasury kept it up its sleeve and eventually got Howard-Costello to agree. Similarly the Commonwealth departments of Education and Health have for about 30 years that I know of always had difficulties with 'cost shifting' - that is the States moving responsibility for certain aspects of education and health to the Commonwealth and using their own money for other purposes (vote-winning ones!). Under Labor governments that has usually meant bringing more control to the Commonwealth government but under LNP governments it has usually meant moving more responsibility to the States (to reduce Commonwealth expenditure). The advice tends to be similar but the respective governments respond to it according to their ideaology. In both cases the public service is doing its job and taking a longer term view than governments which are, of course, more concerned about the next election. In Treasury's case, however, their view is, as Keating said, more myopic. It is dollar driven looking at revenue to government. It often fails to take account of future benefits from other government programs, eg spending on health and education actually improve future productivity and hence revenue to the government. It should be the government that makes judgments about how these inter-relationships play out but that would mean looking beyond the next election. Labor managed to get some of this right but the Hockey budget is largely a Treasury inspired dollar budget. That's what happens when a new government comes in, in this case gleefully accepted because it fits, as Ad said, with Abbott's ideological position.

Ad astra

14/05/2014Folks We are off to Melbourne for a while.

Casablanca

14/05/2014[b]Cruel to be kind, just in the wrong measure[/b] By Greg Jericho Conservatives love the cruel to be kind motif and will apply it to the Budget. But the economy is not some metaphorical thing, it actually involves people's lives, and the poorest among us will be the hardest hit http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-05-14/jericho-cruel-to-be-kind-just-in-the-wrong-measure/5451596 [b]Budget infrastructure spending falls well short of $40bn figure [/b] Katharine Murphy Despite talking up infrastructure funding, the Coalition has earmarked only around $5bn in new funding, rather than the $40bn 'investment' it is touting http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/13/budget-infrastructure-spending-falls-well-short-of-40bn-figure [b]How it’s done[/b] Peter Brent JOE Hockey has shown the ALP what it should have done in its first budget in 2008. Not the policy, but the political side, the rhetoric and battle plan. http://blogs.theaustralian.news.com.au/mumble/index.php/theaustralian/comments/this_is_how_its_done/

Ken

14/05/2014Watch Albo demolish Abbott's infrastructure 'plan' From The Guardian http://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2014/may/14/albo-explains-the-budget-video

Casablanca

14/05/2014 [b]Tell Sir Pository of Taxalot what you think about his nasty surprises budget.[/b] What is your view of Prime Minister Tony Abbott's first budget? Tough but fair 24% Too hard on the vulnerable 69% Other 7% Total votes: 168234. Poll closes circa 6pm AEST today http://www.canberratimes.com.au/business/federal-budget/treasurer-joe-hockey-grilled-by-abcs-sarah-ferguson-on-budget-night-20140514-zrbs2.html

Casablanca

14/05/2014 [b]Treasurer Joe Hockey grilled by ABC's Sarah Ferguson on Budget night [/b] Alexandra Black Sarah Ferguson: ‘‘Is it liberating for a politician to decide election promises don’t matter?’’... Sarah Ferguson: ‘‘They’re still taxes. I don’t need to teach you, Treasurer, what a tax is.’’ http://www.canberratimes.com.au/business/federal-budget/treasurer-joe-hockey-grilled-by-abcs-sarah-ferguson-on-budget-night-20140514-zrbs2.html

Casablanca

14/05/2014 [b]First Dog on the Moon on ... the Australian Budget[/b] Where will the money go? Well, not towards the environment, the most vulnerable, the unemployed ... http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/cartoon/2014/may/13/first-dog-budget

Casablanca

14/05/2014 [b]The Guardian today: Australian Budget special edition[/b] Many articles http://www.theguardian.com/world/australia-budget-2014?CMP=ema_632

Catching up

14/05/20141.4 billion missing for DA budget.

Casablanca

15/05/2014CU Who or what is DA?

Catching up

15/05/2014Direct Action, that is suppose to replace all the Green Energy Fu tute bills. Which is suppose to be superior and cheaper. Which the Hon. Mr Hunt is responsible for. Mr Rudd now on. http://rcommedia.com.au/hiprc/live/

TalkTurkey

15/05/2014Cheers Comrades. I been away, sorry. Not really away, just away from The Sword. Spending too much time on Twitter and especially following the proceedings at #ICAC, just for the schadenfreude of seeing Truth prevail over Villainy! I don't know how much good my Tweeting does, I can only suppose that it helps a tiny bit. I'm out on the ginger edge of the commentary there as you might be surprised to know. Because ginger raises the temperature of whatever's cooking. "Like every Blogger I am looking for a thrust that is so sharp and deep I'll never need to use another!" (See second verse http://songmeanings.com/songs/view/61017/ ) Now, Ken, Sorry not to have responded to your article hitherto - truth is I haven't anything there to argue with and no wisdom of my own much to contribute. I have no close understanding of economics but I guess I understand economic rationalism pretty well by any name. How about 'social Machiavellianism'? Trickle Down Effect has always been a bad joke. Suck-up Syndrome would be more like. I hold a certain cynical belief (which might only be my own afa I know), that makes it very easy to despise the kind of people we are opposed to in life: it runs along these lines, that They [i]revel[/i] in the [i]difference[/i] between their own personal standard of living and that of the common herd. They don't mind if the herd's SoL goes up a little, provided their own goes up far more, and if their own SoL goes down somewhat, they don't mind that too much as long as the poor get a lot poorer. That basic belief, as you may see, sustains my steely determination to help destroy Born-to-Rule forever. Counter-intuitively, [i]this may be our best-ever opportunity to do that.[/i] Never has a PM been so despised so despicatively, and it is his religious fanaticism we must attack and vanquish. And flush it away like the evil vomit that it is. There are gaping chinks in Abborrrrtt's armour, if only Shorten would make some thrusts! We are approaching a QUARTER of his term already - Imagine! - and so far ... Well all I can say is FFS Bill STING FFS! But #ICAC edges closer and closer to Abborrrrt himself, and is sucking ever more in the NSW Liberal Party, and the LNP in Queensland too, exposing so many new avenues of investigation ...which expose new avenues ... Nathan Tinkler due to take the stand today! One of the central villains! (and btw, though not relevantly, Rudd is on the stand as I write, re "Pink Batts"*. NSW Liberal State Govt has so far criminally implicated 8 MP's including 4 ministers including the Premier, and most excitingly of all, the Police Minister - who used to be a cop himself, he's now under intensive official investigation! He just coincidentally tripped into the #ICAC vortex - on the very day he turned up to give evidence, someone got some evidence on him and he resigned (as Minister) the same day! The new evidence on him is evidently so compelling and suggestive of new avenues of investigation, that the whole #ICAC Commission will now have a recess after this week until August, to allow such investigation to take place! * Rudd's just now speaking of some bloke named I suppose MORAN usually pronounced Mor[i]an[/i] but Rudd confirms he prefers to be called Mr MORan. :) Now friends suck on this: Retweeted by okramesh Block Supply ‏@MarkRDuckett · 9h pure Ideology at work MT @KetanJ0: "Look, anything ethical, just ditch it, okay?" http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2014/05/12/glance-agencies-be-abolished-budget … pic.twitter.com/RmpdUy9dvd #auspol My wonderment, Why is it so hard to maintain a rationally-run country? Not an economically-rationalist one, a socially-rationalist one like *J*U*L*I*A*s or PJK's or Gough's ... Australia gets these wonderful Governments and they haters go ballistic destroying it. WE MUST FIGHT THEM ALWAYS! And right now they are vulnerable as never before. Think what you might do or say to whomsoever in whatever social context to enliven our somnolent countrymen to the horror of this mob and demand the Double Dissolution that would correct the awful mistake we made last September. Keep your blades sharp Swordsfolks.

Casablanca

15/05/2014 CU Thanks for the context. I've been knee deep in acronyms for the Agriculture Portfolio over the past couple of days so I could not imagine that DA stood for anything other than Department of Agriculture. Mind you, DA is substantially about planting trees so there is a connection with agriculture. I was aware that monies had been stripped from Direct Action in the Budget but was unaware of the quantum.

Casablanca

15/05/2014 [b]After 64 years, I'm worthless: thanks for that, Joe Hockey[/b] http://www.canberratimes.com.au/comment/ct-letters/after-64-years-im-worthless-thanks-for-that-joe-hockey-20140514-38ac9.html#ixzz31kE7JYbx This Letter to the Editor in the Canberra Times will strike a chord with many stay-at-home Mums. Of course, these mums do not simply stay at home and sip Lattes after they have finished the washing, ironing, cleaning, food provisioning & preparation & etc. As the correspondent points, out she engaged in a range of school and community activities as a volunteer. While our government puts no monetary value on this volunteer activity, it constitutes a very important and invaluable contribution to the functioning of our society. If such volunteer activity were to be given a monetary value then it would be a very substantial item in each Federal Budget.

Catching up

15/05/2014Casablanca , where is soil sequestration at. I assume it is still unproven technology that Hunt is putting so much faith in. I also note, there is no movement on so called clean coal technology.

Catching up

15/05/2014Nr Hockey says seven dollars is no great amount when going to the doctor. I now pay sixty dollars, which I think I get thirty two back. From now on, it will be sixty seven. Now I do see that as more than I can afford. Also if one gets the referral for the normal blood test, that is another new seven or more dollars. Yes, Mr Hockey, it does add up. By the way Mr Hockey, I do not smoke, or drink coffee outside the home. Mainly, because I consider to do so, as non necessary expenditure. I can do without. The biggest fraud Mr Hockey, is your claim, that people already do not pay co-payments towards their health. Your policies are all based on false presumptions. First, we already pay for health, over and above our taxes and Medicare levy. The next is, that one does not collect the dole, rather than work. Most young people I know, arte relying on two or three days on call casual work. No way can they exist on the existing dole. Trouble for them, they seem to be getting nowhere, and are trapped in this work cycle.

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15/05/2014Catching Up Please send your incicive comment to Smokin' Joe.

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15/05/2014Folks The 'Strict Father' slogans continue. Now Abbott is telling State Premiers to run 'adult, grown-up' governments. [b]Come on you kids; it's time you acted like grown-ups, earned your own money, took some responsibility and fended for yourselves instead of sponging on us. Your want to run your own lives (health and education), so you work out how you're going to pay for it. We're out. We're sick and tired of always having to prop you up. Try being an adult for a change and stop whingeing that you're hardly done by.[/b] Joe Hockey adds another dimension to the Strict Father mantra when he admonishes people for whingeing about the about the co-payment for a doctor visit and medicines. [b]What miserable lot you are, carrying on about paying for a doctor and medicines when all it costs is a couple of middies and a few fags. Grow up, be a man, pay up, and stop whingeing [/b]

Catching up

15/05/2014Would he understand. I believe not. I do believe he is very confused about the reaction he has got to the budget, he smoked the cigar to, and danced with his wife and son in his office. I have come to the conclusion, that this government is not about ideology or dogma. It is about the prejudice beliefs of it's MPs. Definitely nothing to with the nation or it's economy. One is already hearing the whine in their voices. I will rely on the many hundreds of so called media experts in yetis governments departments, to pass on my comments to Mr Hockey. May as well make them earn their money.

Casablanca

15/05/2014 [b]Julia Gillard's book name and cover revealed[/b] By Women's Agenda "I was prime minister for three years and three days. Three years and three days of resilience. Three years and three days of changing the nation. Three years and three days for you to judge," she writes in an excerpt released on the the website of her publisher, Random House. http://www.womensagenda.com.au/talking-about/top-stories/julia-gillard-s-book-name-and-cover-revealed/201405144019?utm_source=Women%27s+Agenda+List&utm_campaign=3e84afdaee-Thurs_15_05_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_f3750bae8d-3e84afdaee-30634093#.U3RABLVzDX5

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15/05/2014Casablanca Thanks for the reference to Julia Gillard's book - a must read for all of her supporters.

Catching up

15/05/2014What an honest Joe Hockey Budget speech would have said. Speech in Senate, 14 May 2014 by Penny Wong (4m52s) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGAl7TssQHI

jaycee

16/05/2014 This is the principle of “ownership” that is the guiding light for the Roskam, Wilson, Berg IPA, the LNP. Rinehart and Murdochians….this, from art, is the “reality of entitlement”…(warning..: the art is heart-wrenching!) The cruelty of conscience that will wantonly destroy the civil and social structures of the nation for little or no gain but to simply make a foolish idealogical point gives rise to a passage from the great Russian novelist ; Dostoyevsky..in Crime and Punishment, where a peasant, acompanied by his drunken lout friends flogs and beats a poor horse to death for little reason than it did not perform to an impossible task of pulling an overladen cart, but “Mikolka” the peasant claimed the right to kill the beast for no other reason than it was “…my property..my property!” The Peasant kills the horse….: “Don’t meddle! It’s my property, I’ll do what I choose. Get in, more of you! Get in, all of you! I will have her go at a gallop!…” All at once laughter broke into a roar and covered everything: the mare, roused by the shower of blows, began feebly kicking. Even the old man could not help smiling. To think of a wretched little beast like that trying to kick! Two lads in the crowd snatched up whips and ran to the mare to beat her about the ribs. One ran each side. “Hit her in the face, in the eyes, in the eyes,” cried Mikolka. “Give us a song, mates,” shouted someone in the cart and everyone in the cart joined in a riotous song, jingling a tambourine and whistling. The woman went on cracking nuts and laughing. … He ran beside the mare, ran in front of her, saw her being whipped across the eyes, right in the eyes! He was crying, he felt choking, his tears were streaming. One of the men gave him a cut with the whip across the face, he did not feel it. Wringing his hands and screaming, he rushed up to the grey-headed old man with the grey beard, who was shaking his head in disapproval. One woman seized him by the hand and would have taken him away, but he tore himself from her and ran back to the mare. She was almost at the last gasp, but began kicking once more. “I’ll teach you to kick,” Mikolka shouted ferociously. He threw down the whip, bent forward and picked up from the bottom of the cart a long, thick shaft, he took hold of one end with both hands and with an effort brandished it over the mare. “He’ll crush her,” was shouted round him. “He’ll kill her!” “It’s my property,” shouted Mikolka and brought the shaft down with a swinging blow. There was a sound of a heavy thud. “Thrash her, thrash her! Why have you stopped?” shouted voices in the crowd. And Mikolka swung the shaft a second time and it fell a second time on the spine of the luckless mare. She sank back on her haunches, but lurched forward and tugged forward with all her force, tugged first on one side and then on the other, trying to move the cart. But the six whips were attacking her in all directions, and the shaft was raised again and fell upon her a third time, then a fourth, with heavy measured blows. Mikolka was in a fury that he could not kill her at one blow. “She’s a tough one,” was shouted in the crowd. “She’ll fall in a minute, mates, there will soon be an end of her,” said an admiring spectator in the crowd. “Fetch an axe to her! Finish her off,” shouted a third. “I’ll show you! Stand off,” Mikolka screamed frantically; he threw down the shaft, stooped down in the cart and picked up an iron crowbar. “Look out,” he shouted, and with all his might he dealt a stunning blow at the poor mare. The blow fell; the mare staggered, sank back, tried to pull, but the bar fell again with a swinging blow on her back and she fell on the ground like a log. “Finish her off,” shouted Mikolka and he leapt beside himself, out of the cart. Several young men, also flushed with drink, seized anything they could come across—whips, sticks, poles, and ran to the dying mare. Mikolka stood on one side and began dealing random blows with the crowbar. The mare stretched out her head, drew a long breath and died. “You butchered her,” someone shouted in the crowd. “Why wouldn’t she gallop then?” “My property!” shouted Mikolka, with bloodshot eyes, brandishing the bar in his hands. He stood as though regretting that he had nothing more to beat.”……………………………… Is this what it will come to?; the end of our society….a metaphor for nothing more than a vainglorious grunt..: “My property…my property…” Comment navigation ← Older Comments Leave a Reply Who’s Talking

Janet (j4gypsy)

16/05/2014Don't miss this 'don't dismiss' AFR piece. [b]Don’t dismiss the double dissolution theatrics[/b] Conventional wisdom, as the Coalition’s poll position has [i]deteriorated, has been that Tony Abbott would have to have rocks in his head to contemplate a double dissolution election. Laura Tingle[/i] Restoring indexation to petrol excise will add $2.2 billion to the budget bottom line between now and the next scheduled federal election. The deficit levy will add $2.95 billion. The medicare co-payment will raise $2.3 billion. Increasing the pension age to 70 will have no impact on the budget between now and the end of 2017-18. In a $400 billion annual budget, they are not huge amounts, particularly when most of the GP co-payment is to go to a medical research fund. They are dwarfed by the $80 billion the government will save by washing its hands of responsibility for hospitals and education. These amounts are worth keeping in mind amid the inevitable post-budget threats of blocked budgets and double dissolution elections. The biggest threat to Joe Hockey’s bottom line comes from the states forcing the feds to back down on the unanticipated move on hospital and education funding, and possibly from yet another of the revenue write-downs that plagued Labor. In the Senate, excise indexation is likely to get through with the support of the Greens (though Christine Milne has now had three different positions on this). The deficit levy is likely to be passed with Labor support, although the future of the pension age is not as clear. It will also oppose the six months’ delay in the dole for under 30-year-olds and the loss of family tax benefits when children turn six, which will cost another couple of billion before the next election. The opposition has been playing budget politics smartly for once and has not adopted an all-out oppositionist stance that would have made it the story. There is always a judgment to be made by opposition about whether there is more to be gained from letting the government’s agenda through the Senate rather than blocking it. Some in Labor’s ranks argue that taking the more extreme edges off the Howard government’s agenda before 2007 helped keep it in office. In 2014, they are taking a more balanced approach: picking and choosing issues which seek not to just appeal to particular groups of voters but to protect Labor “institutions” like Medicare. Fighting talk is for real But trying to put the size of the dollar threat to the budget bottom line into perspective should not be read as a sign that all the double dissolution election rhetoric starting to emerge from the government this week should be dismissed. Conventional wisdom, as the Coalition’s poll position has deteriorated, has been that Tony Abbott would have to have rocks in his head to contemplate a double dissolution election in the wake of the rise of the minor parties and Clive Palmer. But senior government figures believe Abbott’s DD threats are completely serious. Legislation to reform Senate voting is imminent, for starters, and will pass with the support of the major parties. And they argue there is more powerful incentive at play in the whole DD theatrics. In 2008 a new Labor government and a prime minister enjoying stratospheric personal approval ratings also made dark threats about a DD over budget measures. The magnitude of the threat to the budget was somewhat different – with the Coalition blocking $22 billion of measures. But the realpolitik was almost identical. The Rudd cabinet had resolved (in what looks rather bitterly ironic in retrospect) to make no concessions to the Greens on anything but instead consign the minor party to irrelevance. So the government pondered the DD threat, not just seeking to capitalise on the weakened state of the opposition but also to insist that it would not be dictated to by the Greens. Tony Abbott watched and learnt. Government ministers who have dealt with Clive Palmer for years believe what will drive his approach in the Senate will not be policy but opportunities that allow him to look like he is running things. They see this as simply intolerable and say Abbott would rather go to a DD poll and lose some of his margin than be perceived as driven by Palmer, as Labor was perceived to be driven by the Greens after 2010. Many people might have dismissed Abbott’s DD talk this week. Coalition staffers may have been gobsmacked to hear Abbott’s chief of staff Peta Credlin declare that this was a budget she would take to an election. But this is really just the first shot across the bow of the Palmer juggernaut. An all-out brawl is imminent The government wants to have the budget through the Parliament well before the change in the Senate composition on July 1. If that happens, Abbott can turn his attention to the all-out brawl he has started with the states, and Senate battles on other parts of his agenda, safe in the knowledge the majority of the Coalition’s plan for returning the budget to surplus has been spelt out and legislated. Can the premiers derail this plan? Well, yes. The education and funding agreements don’t have to go through the federal Parliament, and the states aren’t in a position to insist money previously agreed to is paid. But they are in a position to ask what role the federal government will be trying to take in hospital and education policy in the future. If, for example, as Abbott and Hockey, were saying this week, it is up to the states to run hospitals, why should they expect any co-operation from the states in deciding how hospitals interact with, say, federally managed aged care policy, or primary health care? If schools funding is also a matter for the states, how much influence can the federal government realistically expect to exert on how funding is allocated between public and private school systems or about the national curriculum? And of course, the states can start closing hospital beds (as they started to do on Thursday), impose new charges and make sure an already very grumpy federal electorate is made aware of whose fault it is, with the aim of forcing at least an easing of the extent of cuts. If the plays in 2014 are inspired by the events of 2008, it overlooks a few crucial differences. Kevin Rudd was popular with voters in 2008. Tony Abbott is not. The Prime Minister is also not at all popular in his own party room and the lack of confidence in his judgement – and the prospect it will cost MPs their seats – is not hard to find around Parliament House. Yet Labor’s failure to benefit from a slump in the Coalition’s primary vote – and Bill Shorten’s failure to cut through with voters – has emboldened the government and left Labor ranks depressed. But budget week has brought voters out of their post-election slumber to find Tony Abbott in their hip pockets. The real fun starts now.

Jason

16/05/2014Insiders ABC ‏@InsidersABC · 5h @frankellyabc will interview @TonyAbbottMHR live in the studio on #insiders on Sunday. @lenoretaylor @latingle & Niki Savva on the panel.

Catching up

16/05/2014Those polls must be bad. Why all women I wonder.

2353

17/05/2014Jason, love the new picture :-)

Jason

17/05/20142353, Thanks! His name is Alexander he and his side kick Sergei do Adds on TV! Compare the meerkat here are some of their best pictures https://www.google.com.au/search?q=alexander+and+sergei+meerkats&rlz=1T4ACAW_enAU385AU387&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=xVh3U7vSEcSmkwXj3YDYDw&ved=0CD0QsAQ&biw=1286&bih=531#imgdii=_

Casablanca

18/05/2014 [b]In case you missed it: The federal budget catch-up sheet[/b] Kai Wong & Sophie Bouikidis http://www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2014/5/16/federal-budget/case-you-missed-it-federal-budget-catch-sheet?utm_source=exact&utm_medium=email&utm_content=758416&utm_campaign=kgb&modapt=

Casablanca

18/05/2014 [b]CASABLANCA'S CACHE: Week-end of 17-18 May 2014. 26 Items[/b] 1. Tony Abbott's name is mud Mike Carlton The Prime Minister is a liar. There is no point mincing words. We have never seen anything like it. With this budget he has shown himself to be cynically dishonest on a scale unprecedented in modern politics. Although Abbott is not the first political leader to break an election promise and will not be the last, no prime minister in memory, Liberal or Labor, has come even close to his contemptuous deception of the electorate he sucker-punched on Tuesday. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/comment/tony-abbotts-name-is-mud-20140515-zrd9w.html#ixzz31zIsIHsz 2. Independence of Speaker Bronwyn Bishop again compromised after she takes direction from Christopher Pyne Lisa Cox The independence of the Speaker has again been compromised after the government was caught directing her to bring applause for Bill Shorten's budget reply speech to an end. A video circulated on Thursday night by Labor showed the manager of government business Christopher Pyne explicitly directing Speaker Bronwyn Bishop to rise to her feet, which is the parliamentary signal for members to fall silent. It's the second time in less than a week that Mr Pyne has embarrassed the government, after first being caught on tape delivering an insult to the Opposition Leader which some interpreted as a four-letter profanity, but which the government insisted was the word "grub". http://www.canberratimes.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/independence-of-speaker-bronwyn-bishop-again-compromised-after-she-takes-direction-from-christopher-pyne-20140516-38ee8.html 3. The Lucidity of Madmen: Andrew Bolt, Waleed Aly and the Myth of the 'Model Moderate Muslim' Scott Stephens At the beginning of the twentieth century, with characteristic foresight G.K. Chesterton predicted that civilisation would find itself under threat from madmen. But the particular threat he had in mind was not that of the proverbial barbarians at the gates - in the form of, say, the "Muslim hoards" or Raspail's debauched armada of immigres. Rather, Chesterton warned against the madness of the materialist, who, by shrinking the cosmos and human experience to the limits of his desiccated reason, would in turn doom humanity to a shrunken, imaginatively impoverished existence. http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2014/05/15/4005307.htm 4. Threatened Species Commissioner to be appointed within 6 weeks Gregg Borschmann ABC Environment 15 May 2014 Ecologists eagerly await the appointment of the promised Threatened Species Commission and hope the role will have real power. WITH HEADLINES TALLYING billions cut from Landcare, the CSIRO, water reform and clean energy, the best kept secret of budget week was a good news story on the environment — and it was an item that wasn't even in the budget papers. It's Environment Minister Greg Hunt's plan to save Australia's endangered species by appointing Australia's first Threatened Species Commissioner. http://www.abc.net.au/environment/articles/2014/05/15/4005189.htm 5. Squealing may mask a hidden GST agenda By Paula Matthewson Despite the faux hysterics from state Liberal premiers about the federal Budget, it's safe to say they're in on the act, most likely with the goal of revisiting the GST http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-05-16/matthewson-squealing-may-mask-a-hidden-gst-agenda/5456548 6. The Budget – WhatsinitforWesternSydney? prestontowers Here’s my thoughts on the Budget and how it’s not as friendly for Western Sydney as people might think or the Telegraph would have people believe… The Budget http://prestoninstitute.com/2014/05/15/whatsinitforwesternsydney/ 7. Government dumps election promise for Million Solar Roofs Tristan Edis The Federal Budget contains no funding allocation for the government’s promised Million Solar Roofs rebate program. A spokesperson for Environment Minister Greg Hunt has confirmed to Climate Spectator that they have abandoned this election promise. http://www.businessspectator.com.au/news/2014/5/13/solar-energy/government-dumps-election-promise-million-solar-roofs 8. Restoring integrity in politics: @Sally_Owl on what citizens can do Sally Farrell Integrity, Decency, Transparency and Accountability Four words that mean the difference between goodies and baddies, to put it into terms our Prime Minister will understand. So what do these four words that motivated 100,000 people to March in March really mean? Integrity is the adherence to moral and ethical principles. It is demonstrating a sound http://nofibs.com.au/?wpmllink=c06c96ed4b81bc6ee6202bb9f6c447b6&history_id=3&subscriber_id=877 9. The fungible world of federal budgets Marius Benson When you pay your taxes, they are not tied to a particular purpose - they just go into a big pot and that pot is then drawn on for government purposes. So how can the Federal Government ensure that any extra money raised from higher fuel taxes will only be spent on roads? It can't. Don't be blinded by polysyllabic policy wonks or political shonks; it's a fungible world out there and no attempt at hypothecation can make it otherwise. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-05-16/benson-its-a-fungible-world-out-there/5457228?WT.mc_id=newsmail 10. Christopher Pyne accuses protesting University of Sydney students of assaulting Julie Bishop ABC Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne has accused a group of student protesters of assaulting Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. Ms Bishop was at Sydney University on Friday when she was mobbed by students who were angry about planned changes to higher education. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-05-17/students-assaulted-julie-bishop-says-christopher-pyne/5459674?WT.mc_id=newsmail 11. Tasmanian forests: Coalition rebuffed over proposal to cut world heritage area Oliver Milman The International Union for Conservation of Nature has recommended against removing vast swathes of Tasmanian forest from world heritage protection, in an embarrassing setback for the Australian government. The IUCN, the world’s largest conservation organisation, said overnight in Paris there was no ecological justification for the removal of 74,000 hectares of Tasmanian forest from the world heritage zone. http://click.mail.theguardian.com/?qs=95b88bd834aa46f9b41bf1aa06e30600c73b24da5f22bb5b55bea65b552a4bf4 12. Tony Abbott must shelve deceitful ploy to diminish Tasmania's wilderness Jess Abrahams The government's ideological position has been exposed by the experts' recommendation on world on world heritage listing http://www.theguardian.com/profile/jess-abrahams 13. A budget to end extended adolesence Rob Burgess It’s not just the young – older cohorts lead ‘adolescent’ lifestyles because the economy and work have changed so much... The grown-ups may be in charge in Canberra, but in this week’s budget they are sending mixed signals to young Australians about how grown-up the nation wants them to be. The radical overhaul of welfare and education policy asks members of Generation Y to stand on their own two feet as adults, but also risks ushering them into prolonged periods of dependency. http://click.email.businessspectator.com.au/?qs=871dd706149a945a416694da4da2857c097ad5065d4319855ac86f632c5a259b91c626772c130593 14. If we are to work to 70, we need to rethink work Sue Richardson A permanent full-time job is no longer the best fit for many Australian workers. A shift towards more flexible employment could reshape the workforce for the better. http://click.email.businessspectator.com.au/?qs=871dd706149a945a89493268b8d2b615ce589cc7036b0f3e9ab569108eeb5ae25c4b3417c28e096c 15. Holding the NBN hostage Mark Gregory Last week a Competitive Carriers Coalition spokesman stated that “NBN Co has no place in competitive backhaul markets and never will”. The CCC, which includes Vodafone Hutchison, iiNet, Macquarie Telecom and other non-dominant telcos, is treading on thin ice when it opposes NBN Co’s search for greater efficiency and lower costs, without which NBN Co may struggle to offer retail service providers with products at lower prices. http://www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2014/5/15/technology/holding-nbn-hostage?utm_source=exact&utm_medium=email&utm_content=758416&utm_campaign=kgb&modapt= 16. In case you missed it: The federal budget catch-up sheet Kai Wong & Sophie Bouikidis http://www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2014/5/16/federal-budget/case-you-missed-it-federal-budget-catch-sheet?utm_source=exact&utm_medium=email&utm_content=758416&utm_campaign=kgb&modapt= 17. Can ‘The Australian’ stoop any lower? By Michael Taylor Prophetically, on the morning of his budget address Joe Hockey admitted to journalists that “This’ll be an easy budget to criticise”. And it certainly has copped a fair share, and deservedly so, because in a nutshell, most Australians are going… http://theaimn.com/2014/05/18/can-the-australian-stoop-any-lower/ 18. A wolf in sheep’s clothing By Victoria Rollison As the dust settles from Tuesday night’s wrecking ball budget, I have been thinking about how this happened. How is it possible that Australia was conned into voting for Abbott and his fellow Liberal and National psychopaths? There’s a fairly http://theaimn.com/2014/05/17/a-wolf-in-sheeps-clothing/ 19. “But Our Over-riding Promise Was To Rupert Murdoch… And it was about turning Australia into the US so he feels at home!” By rossleighbrisbane Joe Hockey on the co-payment: “One packet of cigarettes cost $22. That gives you three visits to the doctor. You can spend just over $3 on a middy of beer, so that’s two middies of beer to go to the http://theaimn.com/2014/05/17/but-our-over-riding-promise-was-to-rupert-murdoch-and-it-was-about-turning-australia-into-the-us-so-he-feels-at-home/ 20. You are a burden we can’t afford By Kaye Lee According to the ABS, the wealthiest 20% of Australian households, with an average net worth of A$2.2 million per household in 2011-12, accounted for 61% of total household net worth. The poorest 20% of households accounted for 1% of total… http://theaimn.com/2014/05/17/you-are-a-burden-we-cant-afford/ 21. F*** you, Tony Abbott Alex McKean There are times in life when people deserve only one response — and Tony Abbott deserves just one after this year's budget, says barrister Alex McKean. http://www.independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/time-to-tell-tony--and-his-cronies--to-f-off,6489 22. Christopher Pyne and the adults in charge Barry Everingham Christopher Pyne has been widely pilloried for his disgraceful behaviour in Parliament yesterday and his extreme education policies, so why do some conserv [...] http://www.independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/christopher-pyne-and-the-adults-in-charge,6486 23. The Australian Tories and the Currency Lads and Lasses David Horton Australia is the only country founded with a deliberately imposed class system, says David Horton, and the Liberal Party's budget shows the battle is still on [...] http://www.independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/the-australian-tories-and-the-currency-lads-and-lasses,6484 24. Pink Batts Royal Commission media fail on Garrett's impressive testimony Alan Austin Coverage of the Home Insulation Royal Commission by the mainstream media has been truly appalling. After sensational headlines about former minister Peter [...] http://www.independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/pink-batts-royal-commission-media-fail-on-garrett-testimony,6482 25. The Budget for the true deceivers Mark Chapman We’ve moved into an age of post-factual politics, where our leaders make up their own reality and expect us to buy it, writes Mark Chapman from Taxpayers [...] http://www.independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/the-budget-for-the-true-deceivers,6480 26. ICAC and the bagman who tipped a bucket Ross Jones The ICAC testimony of Chris Hartcher's ailing former staffer and alleged bagman, Ray Carter, could be the evidence that brings the Abbott Government to its [...] http://www.independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/icac-and-the-bagman-who-tipped-a-bucket,6479 OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Casablanca

18/05/2014 Casablanca's Cache: Week-end of 17-18 May 2014. [b]The Budget for the true deceivers[/b] Posted above and at: http://www.thepoliticalsword.com/page/CC-2014-05-13.aspx

TalkTurkey

18/05/20142353 I saw the Geelong v Fremantle game ... "Mere Cats", not 'arf! :) Maybe not even a quarter! ([i]Cruel[/i] Turkey!)

Catching up

18/05/2014Shorten on ABC 24 addressing the Victorian Labor.

Bacchus

18/05/2014You'll Pay for Abbott's Lies Australian Labor video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHWNmeV9tw4
How many umbrellas are there if I start with two and take 2 away?