The Piketty divide: Part 2


The Right (and I include big business in that) is scathing of Piketty’s conclusions, and of his re-introduction of the role of government into economics. Please forgive a few longer quotes to illustrate the venom of the Right:

Louis Woodhill, a software entrepreneur, claims Piketty has his numbers wrong:

… Piketty’s painstakingly researched numbers are worthless because they ignore the existence of the modern welfare state. Our various welfare programs redistribute a huge percentage of national income and, therefore, for the purposes of Piketty’s comparisons across time, they redistribute the beneficial ownership of capital. … Labor has little to do with economic growth. Capitalism is about capital and knowledge. … Anything you tax you get less of and Piketty’s system would impose huge taxes on accumulating and maintaining assets, which are what drive GDP. Under American capitalism, the ultimate arbiter of ‘common utility’ is the market. … expressed in the form of voluntary offers to buy and sell, into an optimum allocation of resources and an efficient coordination of efforts. When Piketty talks about ‘common utility’, what he means is, ‘common utility as judged by progressive French intellectuals like me.’

In The Wall Street Journal:

Not that enhancing growth is much on Mr Piketty’s mind, either as an economic matter or as a means to greater distributive justice. He assumes that the economy is static and zero-sum; if the income of one population group increases, another one must necessarily have been impoverished. He views equality of outcome as the ultimate end and solely for its own sake. Alternative objectives — such as maximising the overall wealth of society or increasing economic liberty or seeking the greatest possible equality of opportunity, or even … ensuring that the welfare of the least well-off is maximised — are scarcely mentioned.

This last quote on the reaction of the Right, from an opinion piece in Forbes magazine, is quite frightening for what it reveals about the thinking of the extreme Right in America. (I originally thought it was satirical and it took me a few reads to take it seriously. If anyone can show me this really is satirical, I will be much relieved!)

Piketty drops Karl Marx’s name over and over again in this book. Enough to make you think that he’s hiding something. Such as the possibility that he is shilling for Charles Darwin. [that is, for social Darwinism in relation to the role of government]

One of the deadliest threats with which government has ever had to contend, over the entire pageant of human history, was the immense wealth and mass affluence generated by the industrial revolution. The usual metrics point to the exponential growth of goods and services from 1750 until 1914 if not 1929. Exponential growth of what we call the private or ‘real’ sector of the economy — everything that is not government — means that government also has to grow exponentially in order even to be detectable. Moreover, one can ask: if exponential real sector growth occurs over the long run, what possible need could civilization have for government. … World War I was a keen effort to lure the masses away from their pursuits in the real sector to pursuits in the government sector, which is to say trench warfare. In the offing, the real sector took a big hit … But it remains the Great Depression that has proven the best thing that has ever happened to government in modern times. To this day, memory of the 1930s is still there in the global psyche, convincing people that the market cannot go unchecked, that government has to be nice and big in order for there to be prosperity and economic justice. Cui bono — who benefited — from the Great Depression? Government did. … Signals got mixed, capitalism got the blame, and we haven’t been able to imagine life without government since. The challenge of the 21st century will be to see if we have the courage and the foresight — for we certainly have the means — to permit government to expire.

I won’t critique those comments from the Right but leave them to stand alone and you can judge for yourselves. But you can see what progressives are up against: ‘greed is good’ and ‘no role for government’, even ‘no need for government’.

The Right also like to point out that Piketty himself may become rich from the success of his book.

Here in Australia, Piketty does not seem to have hit the headlines. He is being discussed by local economists. John Quiggin, for example, has suggested that Piketty may be a little pessimistic about the possibility of success in introducing taxes on wealth because measures are slowly developing internationally to eliminate offshore tax havens.

But Piketty has not been a major topic in popular media or among politicians — a few articles over a few days and then, like old news, apparently forgotten.*

Why? Perhaps one reason is that inequality has not been seen as a major issue in Australia, as it has in France, the UK and the US, and has not reached the level it has in those countries, although it is increasing. Our politicians like to talk about equality in terms of fairness and to give Piketty any relevance in Australia would be to turn our political language on its head. Abbott and Hockey’s 2014 budget may do more than Piketty to emphasise inequality in Australia but, taking Bill Shorten’s budget reply as an indicator, we are more likely to continue to focus on ‘fairness’. (The unanswered question being whether ‘inequality’ and ‘fairness’ are addressing the same thing.)

In a speech to the Fabian Society on 18 May, Senator Penny Wong said that the debate on inequality ‘needs to become more prominent in Australia’ but she comes to what, in my opinion, are some strange conclusions. She refers to Piketty’s equation (r > g) but says that Labor, rather than reducing ‘r’, as Piketty proposes with his taxes, should focus on increasing ‘g’.

Labor should not only increase growth, we should also increase people’s opportunities to gain the benefits of growth. The traditional social democratic approach to fairness has focussed on redistribution through the tax and benefits system. But social democratic parties also need to focus on what has been called ‘predistribution’ — helping people to earn better incomes from the market economy in the first place, before the tax and benefits system kicks in.

The emphasis is on education, training and re-training, for what was earlier called ‘lifelong learning’, as an economy changes over time. Senator Wong refers to this as redistributing opportunity.

It is important for the reasons stated by Christine Lagarde, head of the IMF, as quoted by Senator Wong:

Let me be frank: in the past, economists have underestimated the importance of inequality. They have focused on the size of the pie rather than its distribution. Today we are more keenly aware of the damage done by inequality. Put simply, a severely skewed income distribution harms the pace and sustainability of growth over the longer term. It leads to an economy of exclusion, and a wasteland of discarded potential.

Senator Wong’s declared approach addresses Largarde’s ‘wasteland of discarded potential’ but I don’t think it fully addresses Piketty’s basic premise. To achieve greater equality following her approach Piketty’s equation needs to be reversed: that is become, g > r. As suggested in Part 1, that did occur around the time of the World Wars and the Great Depression, and up to about 1970, but it was assisted by much higher taxes and other government interventions. Unless Labor is prepared to tackle the issue in that way, through taxing the rich and thereby reducing the rate of return on capital, the path proposed by Senator Wong may only be addressing half the problem. Without a reduction in the rate of return, a small increase in the rate of growth may not fully reverse the equation and only lead to continuing accumulation of wealth in the hands of the elite, who then have the capacity to pass that to their children, creating dynastic wealth and power (could I possibly mention Gina Rinehart or the Murdoch and Packer families in this context?).

Part of the problem is that progressive parties around the world have bought into the free market philosophy because, in a globalised economy, they now face a dilemma. Continuing to support redistributive policies can lead to investors threatening to move capital and investments abroad and ‘that, in turn, would cost jobs in the national market and result in less economic growth, less public revenue, less social investment …’ The rise of the New Left in the 1970s also shifted progressive thinking from labour rights to human rights. As Christos Tsiolkas has pointed out in his personal account, Whatever happened to the working class? — The left has forgotten where it came from, the progressives often fail to address the real concerns of the workers, and this is not just the old working class but parts of the middle class — the more highly paid skilled workers and ‘cashed-up bogans’ as Tsiolkas calls them.

If many of them were now “cashed-up bogans”, just as many were unemployed. Many were on welfare, many on drugs both illegal and prescribed. Even among the “cashed-up bogans”, there was a real fear about how long this period of extended prosperity was going to last. … They were fearful of a rise in interest rates and in rents and of the loss of permanent jobs to casualisation.

The cost of living, the uncertainty of employment, the erosion of public health and public education — that’s what mattered.

With progressive parties worldwide not apparently listening to those concerns, the underlying conservatism of the working class has tended to move it to the right, and to the extreme right as evidenced by results in the recent European Parliament election. Returning to such basic issues will also have an influence on how inequality is approached by progressive parties.

Although progressive parties face their own problems in considering inequality, we will certainly not hear Abbott and Hockey talking about Piketty or inequality. While Piketty accepts some level of inequality, he considers that when it becomes extreme it is useless as an incentive and also becomes a threat to democracy. Abbott and Hockey do not see that. As Victoria Rollison described their view recently (and it is worth repeating):

You only have to know their two favourite words to understand Abbott and his government’s entire ideology, which drives their entire raison d’être. User pays. The likes of Abbott’s [sic] have a subconscious thought process that goes something like this: those who are born poor and haven’t worked hard enough are too lazy to stop being poor and are lazy and dependant on hard working rich people who pay taxes. Rich people who pay taxes shouldn’t be relied on to fund the lives of lazy, immoral poor people who are too lazy to get rich and pay taxes. It’s immoral to let people be dependent on the government and a big government encourages people to be lazy and to depend on the government. Big government should be destroyed in preference for a small, useless, and not able to be dependable government. Users should pay their way, so user pays is the best system for funding everything including health, education, infrastructure, community, everything. If user can’t afford to pay, user doesn’t get and user should stop being so lazy and hungry and in need of shelter and should go and get rich so they’re not reliant on the rich people who have to pay tax to support them.

Despite all the evidence, and Piketty and his colleagues have accumulated bucket loads of data, the right-wing believers like Abbott and Hockey will never accept inequality as a problem. They continue to believe that greater national wealth benefits all, which is true to an extent, but not when the top one per cent take the majority of the increase in national wealth and the bottom ten per cent get the crumbs.

Inequality, even fairness, will not be addressed under an LNP government, not until the laissez-faire economic rationalists lose their grip on economic debate and political thinking. Even progressive parties may not tackle the issue effectively unless they also take a stand against the financial markets (perhaps financial transaction taxes) and reconsider taxing the rich and addressing the basic concerns of workers. Piketty, at least, has opened the way for that debate to happen.

* Since preparing this post, I have seen much more discussion of inequality in the Australian media but, as I suggest in the piece, it seems that the Hockey budget, rather than Piketty, has been the driving force for that discussion.


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TPS Team

6/07/2014Part 2 of Ken's piece looks further at various attitudes to Piketty’s ideas. The "right" won't work to overcome inequality - is the "left" capable of tackling the problem effectively? Let us know what you think.

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6/07/2014Ken Thank you for Piketty part 2, which focuses on the reaction to his seminal work. Those who will not, indeed cannot, accept Piketty’s reasoning and the conclusions he draws from his massive data set, are the same people who believe in their own economic rationalist economic theory and lean on it to prop up their privileged position of power and established money. They believe that supporting the wealthy and the powerful, and giving them privileges and concessions that advance their position over those less well off, is good economics since, according to their theory, they are the wealth creators, they are the job creators, they are the drivers of the economy, they grow the economy and thereby create a bigger pie, in which all can share. To the extent that some benefit does trickle down to the lower echelons of society, they are right. But they steadfastly refuse to accept that this approach enriches those at the top of the wealth and income scales immensely, and sometimes grotesquely more than those at the bottom. The gap between the top and the bottom widens and inequality increases, as numerous studies have shown, and as many authors, such as Joseph Stiglitz and now Thomas Piketty, have documented. Listen to the economics of Hockey and Cormann. Forget Abbott – he doesn’t count in the field of economics, as John Hewson and Peter Costello have averred. Hockey and Cormann persistently tell us that growth is what counts and that the high flyers are needed to drive it, and therefore they must be encouraged by every means. By contrast, those who are in the lower half of the scale are considered unimportant. One has only to look at the Hockey/Cormann budget to see that philosophy writ large. Their only defence is that they must correct what an increasing number of economists and conservative commentators now recognize is a spurious ‘budget emergency’. While it is generally agreed that long-term structural adjustments are needed to the tax and transfer payment system, there is not, and there never has been an emergency that required the savage and heartless actions that this government has taken with such a sense of urgency. And the people know it. But what is more important to accept and understand is not the falsity of trickle down economics and the bogus claims of its proponents, but the disheartening fact that they will [b]never[/b] be persuaded by evidence, nor by the inescapable conclusions drawn from careful logical analysis of the evidence. They depend upon their theories to sustain what so many economists know is an unsustainable position. [b]They cannot be convinced; they cannot be changed; they are as extreme in their position as religious zealots, they are as unmovable as religious extremists. Let’s not even attempt to change their thinking; let’s keep our energy for endeavours that are not hopeless from the start.[/b] Labor should not waste its time trying to convince the Coalition’s conservatives that they are on the wrong track with their harsh, punitive, austerity budget that sound economists predict will produce the opposite of what they want, evidence of which is already appearing in consumer confidence and retail sales figures. Instead, Labor has to convince the [b]electorate[/b] that: There is not, and never has been, a ‘budget emergency’. The nation needs to progressively budget for what it wants: health and aged and disability care, education, infrastructure and so on. To do this there is a need for structural changes to the budget, but over the longer term. The current Coalition budget is unnecessarily harsh and precipitate. It is unfair because it selectively penalizes the less well off. It is unfair because it does not target the wealthy; it does not touch their perks and privileges. It will not ‘repair the budget’ as the Coalition claims. If Labor cannot find media advisers who can fashion messages along these lines, they will [b]never be able to counter the lies, deception and obfuscation[/b] that is a feature of the Coalition’s daily offerings to the voters. This must be their strategy for the next two years. What happens as a result of this Hockey budget will be ongoing testimony to its ineptitude and its needless nastiness and unfairness. Already the public is on to these unfortunate attributes. As you indicate, another part of the problem for progressives is that they have been seduced by the free market philosophy, and talk continually of the pressing need for growth in the economy. Labor ought to listen to what Joseph Stiglitz has to say. Rather than reducing expenditure in crucial areas, the government of this prosperous country should be investing – investing in education and healthcare of all kinds to cater for our ageing society with all its health problems. He thinks we are crazy to be cutting expenditure on education and health, and predicts this will lead to diminution of our economy, not the ‘budget repair job’ this incompetent government insists it must do to drag the nation out of the ‘disaster of debt and deficit left by Labor’. He knows, as do an increasing number of voters that this is arrant nonsense – a grotesque straw man that the Coalition has erected to justify its throwing of cruel stones at the weak, the poor, the ill, the aged, the disabled; and at the young, the students, the future of our country. Labor must use the next two years to convince the voters that the Coalition path will lead us to a weaker, less prosperous and increasingly unfair and unequal Australia, the exact antithesis of the highly valued Aussie ‘fair go’ for all. Piketty has provided the evidentiary base for them to do this.

Ken

6/07/2014Ad I will come back with a more detailed reply later (perhaps tomorrow - tonight is a bit busy) but just a note as to why I called it the "Abbott and Hockey" budget. I read somewhere in passing that Abbott had attended every meeting concerning the budget, something that Prime Ministers usually do not do - they leave most of the work to the Treasurer and Finance Minister and only become involved in major policy decisions, but not Abbott. With that in mind, and accepting the view that Abbott knows nothing about economics, his finger prints are all over this budget.

Michael

7/07/2014Refugees refouled to the country they were attempting to escape, with more than a 50% (sic) [sick!] likelihood of torture or death having put them on the escape route, a route the Australian government, and so inescapably, the Australian people, cut off and turned around, sending lives to be... what? Cut short, degraded and mutilated by torture? Proud to be an Australian? Whether we like it or not this government acts on the world stage in our name, in our image, to our shame. This same day this government that is inescapably us will force through the repeal of laws that began a process of cleaning up the world by shaming and monetarily imposting our worst local polluters, planet-dirtiers, eco and biological systems despoilers, and will smugly, and with apparent joy, begin to reward those same enemies of the future for their very acts of uncaring depradation upon this planet and all its occupants, now and into the future - starting today. And it's only 9:33AM Australian Eastern Standard Time!

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7/07/2014Folks Congruent with Ken's piece is an article this morning by Verity Archer in [i]The Conversation: How crusade to end ‘age of entitlement’ replaced ‘war on poverty’[/i] http://theconversation.com/how-crusade-to-end-age-of-entitlement-replaced-war-on-poverty-27510? You may also be interested to read Joseph Stiglitz' 27 June article in [i]Opinionator:Inequality is not inevitable[/i] http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/06/27/inequality-is-not-inevitable/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

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7/07/2014Michael Both of the events you describe bring disgrace and heap ridicule on our country. Once again our 'representatives' have let us down and shamed us.

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7/07/2014Ken Without wishing to preempt your comment about Abbott's involvement in the budget, I acknowledge that his [b]vindictive[/b] fingerprints are all over it. But I do question his understanding of the [b]consequences of the budget on our economy[/b]. He seems indifferent to the harm it will do to a vast array of [b]people[/b], to the individuals it will [b]'clobber'[/b]. But he has stated repeatedly that he will do [b]nothing to 'clobber the economy'[/b], a phrase he has used in the context of the 'carbon tax'. Yet his budget is likely to do just that, evidence of which is already emerging. Abbott is ever ready to hurt his opponents and his 'natural enemies', but I believe his illiteracy in economics has blinded him to the hurt he is inflicting on our economy.

Ian

7/07/2014Hi Ken, the Forbes article seems to be advocating if we can just get rid of the last obstacle to the rich making even more money, then eventually everyone will benefit. It's a bit like saying neo-conservatism will eventually work for the benefit of all. We're waiting for that trickle down to become a gush down. Just you wait, give us more time, we need to make just that bit of extra wealth for ourselves. Then we'll be able to provide for all. You'll see. Well I think we've seen enough of neo-cons, and their cons, to know that is a lie.

Ken

7/07/2014Ad In my first comment I was implying that Abbott's lack of economic understanding is part of his 'finger prints' all over this budget -- as I said, I accepted that view. I agree with your general approach to this issue but there is one additional thing I would point out. The economic rationalist approach also arose from detailed economic and financial data in Freidman's early work in the 1960s. Like Piketty, that data turned then current economic thinking on its head. In that regard, I think what we are witnessing is another generational change taking place in economics. While others have been speaking about inequality, it is now Piketty who has provided the data to support what they have been saying. (Freidman had done the same for the economic rationalists.) So, I am optimistic that economists will begin moving away from economic rationalism and that will eventually influence politics. As usual, as with climate change policy, Australia, under this government, is moving backwards, against the tide, rather then trying to ride the wave and get ahead of the game.

Ken

7/07/2014Hi Ian Thank you for your comment. I agree that the view expressed in the Forbes article is unbelievable. Your description of the attitude behind it is spot on. Just remove government completely and we can rely on the rich to look after us -- NOT!

42long

7/07/2014It is getting difficult to believe that anyone with a lot of money got it honestly. One thing you can believe is that they want MORE... and MORE.. and MORE

Ken

7/07/201442long Where I grew up, we always said the rich did not get there without, at least, bending the rules (if not actually breaking them), or 'knifing' a few friends and business partners along the way. And, of course, once they get there they learn and can afford all the tricks to keep and increase their wealth, like offshore tax havens, and family trusts in which to hide the money. Don't get me started or I will go on for pages.

TalkTurkey

7/07/2014Ken, I'm going to have to read that again, even though I don't think I have much empathy with the Right's tortured take on M Piketty's analyses.(They sound like self-serving excuses to me.) I make no pretence of economic wisdom, (though I note with ongoing bemusement that radically different conclusions are forever being drawn by different experts from the same data.) But I wanted to tell yous about A Funny Thing that Happened On My Way Back From The Forum. There we all were at Parliament House, Adelaide, same size crowd as twice before since these thugs took over, lots of unionists this time, more than before, that's very good! Here's me with my Bronnie-On-A-Stick (Cardboard cut out of Witch, same image as the one on the Ditch the Witch banner high pointy hat, painted black, seated on palm-tree-broom, VERY ethnic, and with a face that's a photo of HER with a pointy nose! The broom and the Witch astride it are mounted on a vertical stick that I can hold well above the crowd ... Bronnie is quite a star at Adelaide rallies now. She's seen all three campaigns so far. So then there I am on the train on the way home. There's 3 people around 60, 2 men 1 woman, in a seating bay for 4, they are taking a good look at Bronnie and grinning, one bloke says he's right with me on calling her the Worst Speaker Ever, the other two nodding vigorously in agreement. And there's a couple, similar age, directly across the aisle, they're grinning and nodding too. I said Have you been to the March? and they all said Yep. I sit in the available seat, and one bloke says Gee I'd like to stage a demo outside Pyne's office! So, sensing a possible convert, I ask him Are you in the Party? - Yes! he says. The bloke alongside him says So am I! And the woman facing them says Me too! And the two across the aisle are laughing and grinning, So are we! Oh Wow says I, and added, See my brother used to be the Member for Kingston ... And they ALL sat up like they was stung! They froze, staring at me! I said, ...Yeah ... Gordon ... Gordon was your brother? (See we were always starkly different.) They boggled, and one said ... See I'm the chairman of Kingston FEC! And one was the Secretary ... and it turned out they are ALL on Mandy Rishworth's FEC Executive, and all knew Gordon really well! Wow. They made me feel special. Good on Labor. Labor People are the BEST! Tonight happens to be their monthly meeting, and I think I'll go, though it's next electorate on from mine. I took their photos with my beloved Fujifilm W3 3D camera, they liked the look of them (it's the MAGIC of the camera, people like their own images!) so I'm'a go to Harvey Normans and get some prints made @ 15c a copy, they're only 2D prints of course but still nice. Cheers Folks. When you mingle in the angry loving decent Leftish crowd at a march like this, you know it's true: VENCEREMOS!

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7/07/2014Folks Putting the PUP cat among the Abbott pigeons was what Clive Palmer did today during his NPC address. If you didn't see it, try to take a look. Casablanca, you may be able to find a link to it. Here is Lenore Taylor's take on it in [i]The Guardian[/i]: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/07/clive-palmer-switch-threatens-to-blow-9bn-hole-in-budget?cmp=wp-plugin

Casablanca

7/07/2014Ad, I haven't found the video but the audio of Clive Palmer's 10min address at the NPC today and also the 49 min question time are embedded at the following site: http://australianpolitics.com/2014/07/07/clive-palmer-addresses-the-national-press-club-confirms-pup-opposition-to-budget-cuts.html?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=clive-palmer-addresses-the-national-press-club-confirms-pup-opposition-to-budget-cuts

Casablanca

7/07/2014 [b]Inequality: Why Australia must not follow the US[/b] Joseph Stiglitz. July 6, 2014 Australia is not the best country in achieving shared prosperity, but neither is it the worst. Its pre-tax and transfer inequality or its post tax and transfer inequality are neither among the best among the advanced countries nor the worst. By the standard measures, it does neither the best nor the worse in “correcting” the before tax and transfer inequality. While the US (like Australia) prides itself on doing things bigger and better than elsewhere, its achievement in creating the highest level of inequality among the advanced countries is not something to be boastful about - or for others to emulate. As we look around the world, those countries that have most closely followed the American model have similar results - high levels of inequality. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/comment/inequality-why-australia-must-not-follow-the-us-20140706-zsxtk.html#ixzz36m51FpSC

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7/07/2014Casablanca Thanks for the Palmer NPC link, and the Stiglitz link. It should be fascinating hearing him in the Q&A debate tonight.

Casablanca

8/07/2014 [b]Palmer will vote to preserve the schoolkids bonus [/b] Michelle Grattan, 7 July, 2014 Clive Palmer has widened the budget measures his party will oppose in the Senate to include the government’s attempt to abolish the schoolkids bonus. Appearing at the National Press Club, Palmer also flagged his Palmer United Party (PUP) senators would support the Coalition’s “direct action” program if the government backed his emissions trading scheme (ETS). http://theconversation.com/palmer-will-vote-to-preserve-the-schoolkids-bonus-28858?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest+from+The+Conversation+for+8+July+2014+-+1765&utm_content=Latest+from+The+Conversation+for+8+July+2014+-+1765+CID_20a84f11429968ab07ef6171a2e205ea&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=Palmer%20will%20vote%20to%20preserve%20the%20schoolkids%20bonus

Pappinbarra Fox

8/07/2014[b]enhanced[/b] verb [with object] [i]Intensify, increase, or further improve the quality, value, or extent of: ‘his refusal does nothing to enhance his reputation’[/i] The Australian enhanced assessment procedure for asylum seekers involves reducung the number of preliminay questions asked of asylum seekers to just 4 questions. That can only enhance the value of the process if the criterion is to expedite the refoulment of the asylum seekers. No other definition of enhancement is possible - unless you are using the word ironically. Make this nightmare stop.

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8/07/2014Folks What an interesting night it was on ABC TV last night. First, there was Stephen Long's absorbing documentary on [i]Four Corners[/i] on the profound affect renewables are already having on energy supplies. The fossil fuel industry must find the decline in its contribution to total energy very worrisome. It is a dying industry, despite all the talking up of coal by our PM. Then [i]Media Watch[/i] exposed once more the decay in our MSM. Then came Q&A where three world-renowned economists confirmed the strong state of our economy, and the mendacity of Hockey's perpetuation of his fictitious 'budget emergency'. Their erudition was in sharp contest to Judith Sloan's paucity of economic knowledge and language. Her defensive huffing and puffing every time a criticism was made of the Abbott government's economic strategies was embarrassing. She was so out of her depth, I wonder why she was engaged on the panel at all. Perhaps this was Tony Jones exposing her for the Coalition apologist she is, imbued with the same economic zealotry as Hockey, Cormann and Abbott. I wonder what they thought of her petulant performance? Then on [i]Lateline[/i] we saw more evidence of global warming with a story of accelerating ice melt in Western Antarctica due to warm deep water currents displacing the cold currents that have been maintaining the ice shelves, which now are breaking off at an alarming rate. It was not a good night for Coalition supporters, fossil fuel advocates and global warming deniers.

2353

8/07/2014PF - agreed. How can we claim to be a civilised country? And the members of the government that allow this to happen need to examine their actions in comparison to their self professed christian values.

DMW

8/07/2014Morning All, for Canberra based Swordsters your support will be appreciated The Refugee Action Committee ( www.refugeeaction.org ) are holding a Peak Hour Protest on Wednesday from 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm at the intersection of Barry Dr & Northbourne Ave Please add your voice (and body) in support thanks

Michael

8/07/2014This article http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jul/08/the-age-of-entitlement-how-wealth-breeds-narcissism?CMP=ema_792 explores just why it is wealthy people can be such, well, "assholes".

Janet (j4gypsy)

8/07/2014Tiny TPS Twitter account update: both Dr Craig Emerson and Nick Xenaphon MP now follow TPS on Twitter. :-) And Turkeyman: loved! your wonderful story of what happened on the train home after the 'Bust the Budget' protest gathering in Adelaide. (I was at the Melbourne one this time.) If you take a pic of your rather amazing Bronnie placard and add this to a Twitter tweet, we can put that Twitter link into TPS comments for all to see! Give it a go, eh? :-).

Casablanca

8/07/2014 [b]Clive Palmer's party readies its emissions trading scheme[/b] James Massola, Lisa Cox, July 8, 2014 - 2:25PM The Palmer United Party is finalising details of its emissions trading scheme and expects to bring an extraordinary 300-page amendment to the Senate next week. The amendments will halt the abolition of the Climate Change Authority (CCA), allocate new money to the agency and put it in charge of monitoring climate action by Australia's five major trading partners. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/clive-palmers-party-readies-its-emissions-trading-scheme-20140708-3bk4f.html

Ken

8/07/2014Michael Brilliant article and I also enjoyed many of the comments. I can also endorse the view that as a charity collector, one gets more money from the poorer end of town. There was also a book in the 1970s suggesting that we were entering an age of narcissism. I will have to see if I can find it again.

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8/07/2014Michael Thank you for the link to the Anne Manne article: [i]The age of entitlement: how wealth breeds narcissism[/i]. It illustrates how wealth creates attitudes of entitlement and superiority. A very informative study about the adverse affects of inequality. I echo Ken's experience - the poorer are more generous than the wealthy.

Woodypear

9/07/2014I am confused. Whilst I accept Piketty's and Wilkinson's proposition, I am wondering why the right wing is drowning out any left of centre complaint (yes, I'm aware of the msm's role in all of this). George Lakoff suggests that we are are almost hard-wired to either a conservative or progressive point of view. Is it the case then that the conservatives far outnumber the progressives or is it that progressives don't raise their objections loud enough?

Woodypear

9/07/2014Ad Astra, Just read your comments about Judith Sloan. I felt so embarrassed, her being on that show. She obviously disliked Stieglitz and tried to demean him at every opportunity, although failing each time. I really question why the ABC trot her out so many times, especially after she was recently caught out with her big furphies.

Woodypear

9/07/2014I find this discussion on inequality forceful. Could I suggest that people watch the panel discussion on Wilkinson's 'The Spirit Level'. I found the second speaker's cautionary tale on the dangers of rushing to solutions most illuminating... [b]The Age of Unequals: An Evening with Richard Wilkinson[/b] (37m24s) 22 Jul 2011 Armine Yalnizyan, Jordan Peterson, and Matthew Mendelsohn join epidemiologist Richard Wilkinson to discuss why equality is better for everyone, the theme of Wilkinson's book, The Spirit Level https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxBSKLxt3Wc

Casablanca

9/07/2014 [b]The IPA and Waubra Foundation's charitable tax status rorts[/b] Sandi Keane Why do corporate lobby groups like the IPA and fossil fuel front organisations like the Waubra Foundation retain 'deductible gift recipient' status, while genuine environmental charities like the Australian Conservation Foundation face having theirs stripped away by the Abbott Government. http://www.independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/the-ipa-and-waubra-foundations-charitable-tax-status-rorts,6649

Casablanca

9/07/2014 [b]The super-rich and the rest of us[/b] (22m + Transcript) Mark Colvin interviews Thomas Piketty on Thursday, June 12, 2014 http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2014/s4024239.htm [b]Crawford School Oration 2014 - Crisis averted? Lessons from the Global Financial Crisis[/b] (1h20m) In this landmark lecture, Nobel Laureate Professor Joseph Stiglitz will examine the origins of GFC, analyse the economic policy responses and discuss whether the crisis really has been averted. He will also look at what’s right, and wrong, with contemporary policy stances. https://soundcloud.com/experience_anu/crawford-school-oration-2014-crisis-averted-lessons-from-the-global-financial-crisis

Casablanca

9/07/2014Senators Nick Xenophon, John Madigan and Ricky Muir side with the Opposition to defeat Government attempt to bring on a vote today to abolish the Carbon Price

Casablanca

9/07/2014 Wow!! Canberrans will save 0.62 cents per day when the so-called Carbon Tax is repealed. The Brick with Eyes told the Senate that some Canberrans had been house-sitting in Queensland to escape harsh power bills. "In 2013 when I was campaigning for election to the Senate in Queensland I took a short break and visited family in Canberra," he said. "While in Canberra I became aware of an elderly couple that are forced to house-sit in Queensland each winter because they simply cannot afford the cost of heating their own home in Canberra. "Every winter they have to leave the comfort, familiarity and safety of their own home just to survive the cold winter months. "What sort of country have we become?" http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/carbon-tax-repeal-would-save-average-canberra-home-228-a-year-20140708-zszzq.html#ixzz36vUt85f9

Ken

9/07/2014Woodypear I have a feeling that conservatism is the inherent human condition. We do not naturally embrace change but accept it when it is necessary to achieve fairness or other social changes that we think (or are convinced) are necessary. The working class tends to be conservative because any change can disrupt the household budget. That is, if I know, as a worker, that I can survive week to week on my current wage living my current lifestyle, and using ‘x’ number of services, with a little bit left over for spending or saving, then I want the current situation to continue. Any change to my income and the price or availability of services I use is a threat. Workers will accept changes when they see they may get more services provided, or there is enhancement of job security, and so on. In one sense, it goes back to the old concept of the ‘social wage’: that a person’s actual wage is only part of their lifestyle, with government benefits and services providing the other part that complete a person’s lifestyle. There is scope for the acceptance of change in the inequality debate, especially here in Oz, because it goes against our sense of fairness, as Abbott and Hockey are discovering. They are also bent on destroying what is left of the social wage. As a sidenote, I recall an article from the 1970s that reversed the roles of revolutionaries and capitalists. It suggested that revolutionaries are basically conservative because their ultimate belief is in the utopian society that follows the revolution and then requires no more change. Capitalists, on the other hand, require constant change (revolution) to improve production and maintain the system. If we accept that, it is the constant change created by the capitalist system that unsettles the working class and leaves them insecure (which is exactly what the capitalists want).

TalkTurkey

9/07/2014Casablanca Especially, thanks for the IPA/Waubra Foundaation article in www.independentaustralia.net/.../the-ipa-and-waubra-foundations-charitable-tax-status-rorts,6649 ...I saw it and was going to post it here myself but you beat to it. Secrecy and subterfuge, privilege and privatisation, rhetoric and religion are all part of LNP DNA. IPA has its claws into the society to an extent hard to believe in a "democracy." The Left must find effective ways to respond to this march towards the Fourth Reich. The Left's marches feel good for tens of thousands but have no traction whatsoever: We shout and wave our signs and fists but then just go away. Happens every time. No goldies-in-a-bucket collection of future fighting funds, no collection of contacts and [i]pledges[/i], no motions to pass in furious agreement about ACTIONS to take in the immediate future. Such a waste of energy and resolve. Like a majestic wave breaking harmlessly on a stony beach. Dunno why. I've tried influencing the organisers to do that but No is always the answer and nothing is always the result. Nobody has the entrepreneurial nous, not me neither, but of course I can't do it against the wishes of The Organisers. But I do know that that's what's needed.

DMW

9/07/2014Hi Ken, you wrote: [i]Senator Penny Wong said that the debate on inequality ‘needs to become more prominent in Australia’ but she comes to what, in my opinion, are some strange conclusions.[/i] You have touched on, however obliquely, something that needs to be understood by everyone in discussing inequality and that is, in many ways Labor has done as much and, possibly more, to entrench inequality as have the LNP. Those fortunate enough to have been elected to represent us via endorsement as a Labor candidate are in the upper reaches of the top 10% of income earners while the PM and other ministers are probably in the top 1%. Considering the Anne Manne article Michael linked to above there can easily be a tendency for our elected representatives to be less caring and understanding of the plight of we [i]the great unwashed[/i] Not all of the Labor representatives fall into the trap of forgetting where they have come from and who they are elected to represent just as some from the LNP and other parties do not succumb. Enough do though so that entrenched inequality will be difficult, if not, near impossible to address. Our elected representatives by the very nature of the job they have, and the payment they get, mix in different circles and have different expectations thrust upon them such that there is a tendency toward 'lifting' those at the top and 'leaning' on those down below. In his (IMHO must read) article @ The King's Tribune [b]The slow death of the Australian Middle Class [/b] Tim Dunlop notes: [i]This trend does not begin with the Abbott Government nor is it likely to end with it. Paul Keating’s neoliberal reforms set us on a path that ultimately outpaced any of the Labor-values amelioration he put in place, while Julia Gillard, as much as any public leader we’ve had, was a champion of work as our true measure. “We believe life is given direction and purpose by work,” she declared in front of the US Congress. “Without work there is corrosive aimlessness. With the loss of work comes the loss of dignity. This is why, in each of our countries, the great goal of all we do in the economy is the same to ensure that everyone who can work does work.” And who knows where a Shorten government would finally settle on the spectrum of “acceptable” economic policy. In noting that, I’m not saying that the Coalition and Labor are the same thing. Clearly Labor is more willing to enact policy that aims at redistribution and some sort of pushback against the inequalities that, as we’ve seen, are inherent in the economic system to which most of our elites and political class subscribe.[/i] http://www.kingstribune.com/index.php/weekly-email/item/2042-the-slow-death-of-the-australian-middle-class To tie this in with something else that progressives need to consider is, that this is another reason that the ALP and the Union Movement need to be adult enough to break their ties so that a (hopefully) strengthened union movement can better hold government and parliament to account.

Casablanca

9/07/2014[b]Are we becoming more self-obsessed than ever before?[/b] (Video - 7m) Steve Cannane. 3 Jul 2014 The Drum’s Steve Cannane talks with Anne Manne, the author of “The Life of I: The New Culture of Narcissism”. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-03/are-we-becoming-more-self-obsessed-than-ever-before/5570620

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9/07/2014Woodypear I imagine that Judith Sloan was included on Q&A to give the 'balance' the ABC is expected to provide. It has not woken up to the fact that 'balance' comes from having balanced panellists, not be having the likes of Judith Sloan petulantly trotting out her partisan views. Casablanca It will be interesting to see if Canberrans do actually save 0.62 cents a day when the 'toxic carbon tax' is repealed.

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9/07/2014Casablanca The article on the perks enjoyed by the IPA is both disturbing and disgusting. THe conservatives know how to look after themselves!

Ken

9/07/2014DMW Also see my earlier reply to Woodypear. I agree there can be an element of MPs, from both sides, living well and forgetting how those at the bottom are living. And we have,over the years, certainly seen enough of MPs and Senators doing their best to protect their own perks and interests. And, yes, it was Keating that started the economic changes in Australia but that's where I come to my reply to Woodypear. Hawke, Keating and Kelty negotiated the 'social wage' as a compromise to limit wage increases but not lose the plot completely. A bit more amelioration of the changes was built into the system by that process. We certainly don't expect to see that under Abbott. If we can't go back to the old 'social contract' that existed after WW2 until the 1970s, I think we can at least bring back the concept of the 'social wage' (by whatever name) to ensure there is a better balance. Perhaps Shorten could resurrect it.

TalkTurkey

9/07/2014Since ever Abborrrrtt started talking of Stopping the Boats I've been puzzled by how the Navy could legally do that. If the Boats are in Australian waters when apprehended then it is mandatory that asylum seekers thereon be processed under Australian administration. If the Boats are outside Australian waters then surely to arrest and hold them must be Piracy? I now have the explanation to my puzzle. It is simple. "Legality" doesn't come into it. Abborrrrtt has ordered the RAN to do whatever it takes, spitting in the face of world opinion. It's something he does a lot. Reversing carbon reduction measures. Calling Palestine "disputed territories" instead of "occupied". He is making Australians ashamed.

Casablanca

9/07/2014Ken, Woodypear & Others [b]A lesson in how to spot a Conservative [/b] The AIM Network July 3, 2014 I’m using as my touchstone for this exploration a paper from the ‘Psychological Bulletin of the American Psychological Association‘ Vol 129, No 3, 2003 entitled ‘Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition’ by Jost, Glaser et al.... Their personality favours authoritarianism, dogmatism and the intolerance of ambiguity. They have epistemic (to justify beliefs) and existential needs for closure, regulatory focus and terror management, and they manifest ideological rationalisations for specific types of social dominance and justification of certain social systems. The core ideology of conservatism stresses resistance to change and justification of inequality and is motivated by needs that vary situationally and dispositionally in order to manage all manner of uncertainty and threats which they perceive. A fact which, you may note, is taken advantage of by successful conservative politicians the world over. http://theaimn.com/lesson-spot-conservative/

Casablanca

10/07/2014[b]An apology to Lord Deben[/b] Kaye Lee. July 9, 2014 For anyone who thinks the ABC shows left wing bias, I suggest you have a look at the disgraceful display by Emma Alberici on Lateline last night when she tried very hard to discredit the chairman of the UK Committee on Climate Change, Lord Deben. Her tone of voice the whole way through implied that this very eminent man was talking crap. Her attack on him and her defence of Tony Abbott’s policies were humiliating and shown to be so by Lord Deben. http://theaimn.com/apology-lord-deben/

TalkTurkey

10/07/2014Since forever those associated with the armed forces have been the most unbudgeably monolithically supporters of the Right when it comes to voting. It was the Liberals who sent the boys, some of them conscripted, off to a politically expedient war. Any friends in the wider community that those same haunted boys have these days are of the compassionate Left. The white-handed Right have no time for losers. But they are confused enough, brainwashed enough, insulated enough that they probably nearly all still vote LNP. I wonder how they'll feel about this ... http://www.chifley.org.au/unaustralian-party/ (Actually, I already know pretty well. A dear friend of mine is a staunch Grunt, he speaks for a lot of his mates I'm sure when he makes clear his resentment at the way this govt is treating Ex-Service personnel. All I can say is, [i]Come on over to the Left lane Comrades[/i], this is was and always will be where decent treatment resides and where genuine friends may be found. )

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10/07/2014Folks What a chaotic display of gross incompetence we have seen today in the Senate from the 'crash or crash-through' Abbott government. Today he crashed, again. The Coalition continually talked of chaos and incompetence when the Gillard government was in power, but the Coalition performance this week takes the cake. Clive Palmer says his senators were being double crossed about assurances that power users and all others would receive the amount of the carbon tax back into their pockets, which is why they rejected the repeal of the carbon tax. Despite protests to the contrary from Abetz and Hunt, I know whom I would believe.

42long

10/07/2014This would have to be one of Phoney's worst days. All ready to do a media take and it fizzes. He is starting to look like a real DUD. I'm glad my predictions weren't exaggerated. Remember when we used to say "Tony Abbott will never be Prime Minister"? Well He IS OCCUPYING that position but WHAT a FLOP. Making us look fools to all nations . WELL.... WE (collectively) elected HIM. He must be good.... Murdoch is so clever. and he sold us the man er.. person. Well when the damage is added up send the BILL to RUPEE. You have been sold a DUD.. Not suitable for the purpose intended. Give us our money back.

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10/07/2014Casablanca Thank you for providing the link to Hillbilly Skeleton’s excellent piece [i]A lesson in how to spot a Conservative[/i] in the [i]The AIM Network[/i]. http://theaimn.com/lesson-spot-conservative/ I recommend the whole piece. I thought these paragraphs characterized the conservative personality well: “[i]Meta analysis confirmed that several psychological variables predict political conservatism to varying degrees: death anxiety (possibly giving us an insight into why people become more conservative as they get older); system instability (could this explain why the Coalition relentlessly exploited the destabilized Labor Party government and sought to cause so much of it); dogmatism and intolerance of ambiguity (explaining perhaps why Shock Jocks, where black and white are the only colours they know and shades of grey just don’t come into their commentary, are so popular with conservatives); lack of openness to new experiences; inability to tolerate uncertainty; a strong need for order, structure and closure (remember how the Coalition used to bleat repeatedly about the ‘chaos and dysfunction at the heart of the Gillard/Rudd government’ and how the electorate fell for it hook, line and sinker, whilst at one and the same time that same government was legislating far more successfully than Tony Abbott has been able to); a low level of the ability to integrate complexity (3 word slogan, anyone?); a fear of threat and loss (the Conservative Howard and his fridge magnets as a constant reminder of the existential threat of terrorism); and a negative self-esteem (from which a wellspring erupts that sees a disproportionate number of conservatives, in my experience, drawn to such private proclivities as Bondage and Discipline, and Dominant/Submissive relationships, such as those found in hierarchical religious structures and even manifesting itself in the Coalition’s approach to Asylum Seekers). “The core ideology of conservatism stresses resistance to change and justification of inequality and is motivated by needs that vary situationally and dispositionally in order to manage all manner of uncertainty and threats which they perceive. A fact which, you may note, is taken advantage of by successful conservative politicians the world over.”[/i] Reflect on how congruent is this characterization with George Lakoff’s characterization of the ‘Strict Father’ model of conservative political morality: Here are the words and phrases that Lakoff cites as being used over and over in conservative discourse, words that reflect the Strict Father model: “[i]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.”[/i] HS shows us again how conservatives think, feel and act. We see this every day in politics. In my view there is little chance of changing these entrenched views and attitudes. It is as frustrating as trying to change fundamentalist religious views. No amount of evidence, analysis, logic or reasoning is of any use. A less wearisome approach is to accept the fact that change is not possible among dyed-in-the-wool conservative thinkers, and recognise that this is all we have to work with.

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10/07/2014Casablanca Knowing that Lord Deben was coming on [i]Lateline[/i], I'm sure the Coalition media machine loaded Emma's guns with lots of facts and figures to refute what Lord Deben was asserting. While she is good at assembling facts for herself, the convoluted 'facts' she used so rudely in her interview sound as if they are straight out of the Coalition/IPA playbook. Conservatives leave no stone unturned to counter the reality of global warming.

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10/07/2014Folks It looks as we have another Abbott in Indonesian Presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto who, like Abbott, refuses to accept defeat by the moderate Joko Widodo, despite the reliable polls showing that 'Jokowi' has convincingly outpolled his opponent: an excessively wealthy, truculent, aggressive man whose belligerence dates back to his military days where he behaved like a thug in Timor Leste and West Papua. There seem to be an inexhaustible supply of Abbotts!

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11/07/2014Folks I'm sure you will enjoy reading these two extracts from today's edition of [i]Crikey[/i] [i][b]Crikey says: Abetz and Abbott on Senate chaos[/b] "Labor and the Greens have colluded today to throw democratic process out the window and have turned the processes of the Senate into a farce. Labor has been caught out in its unsuccessful attempt to manipulate Senate process and has been exposed as having completely lost control in the Senate" -- Eric Abetz, November 2010. "If you needed any more clear evidence that Labor is being held hostage by the Greens then this is it, Senator Brown says jump and Labor asks 'how high'" -- Eric Abetz, November 2011. "I think the Australian people are sick of a governing party which makes decisions on the basis of squalid backroom deals" -- Tony Abbott, February 2012. "It doesn’t matter whether it’s Kevin Rudd or Julia Gillard. It’s a chaotic and dysfunctional government … just chaotic and dysfunctional. Now, it doesn’t matter who leads the Labor Party, it will be chaotic and dysfunctional" -- Tony Abbott, March 2013. "There have been far too many parliamentary games, there’s been far too much backroom dealing and double crossing. Let's let the people decide" -- Tony Abbott, June 2013. "Only the Coalition can be trusted when we say there will be no deals with the Greens, no deals with flaky independents; no deals whatsoever" --Tony Abbott, 2013 election campaign. [b]Sorry guys, you were saying?[/i][/b] [b]And[/b] [i][b]Coalition's week of triumph ends in debacle and dismay[/b] Bernard Keane, Crikey politics editor Many things can go wrong when you're trying to get legislation through a chamber you don't control. Crossbenchers need to be placated and their concerns met. If you're in the Coalition, sometimes you even need to placate your own backbenchers, especially Nationals. You need to get the timing of the vote right, because the Senate's laborious way of doing business can condemn bills to purgatory unless it's aggressively managed. Amendments need to be carefully prepared to make sure they fit the bill they're amending and the legislation that bill is changing, if necessary, and the legislative paraphernalia that may be needed for them, like amended explanatory memoranda and regulatory impact statements, prepared. Documents need to be printed and circulated before votes, in accordance with Senate procedures. Departmental officials and lawyers, and ministerial staff, have to work closely together to make sure everything runs smoothly -- and that's before they all cram into the advisers' box down the front end of the chamber, usually with several kilos of folders between them, to help guide ministers through the process. As Bismarck famously suggested, like sausage-making, the whole legislative process doesn't exactly look appetising. But when your Senate leader ends up outside the chamber desperately negotiating on the fly with crossbenchers over major amendments after you've succeeded in shutting off debate in order to bring on a vote, that's pretty much the worst scenario possible. Well, actually, there's an even worse scenario -- losing the vote. And that's what happened yesterday: on the single biggest piece of legislation of the Abbott government's first term, the government killed debate in the Senate, brought on a vote, and lost when it was thinking it would win. Bismarck's sausage machine had blown up and showered the government with offal. In the long run, the actual outcome won't matter a great deal -- assuming Clive Palmer doesn't have an agenda to simply keep inventing reasons not to pass the carbon price repeal bill (and that's not necessarily a safe assumption), the carbon price will be repealed next week. But yesterday's legislative disaster was another bad sign for a troubled government. Undoubtedly Palmer engineered events to inflict maximum damage on the government. But the government played right into his hands. Responsibility for the negotiation and amendment process for the carbon price repeal bill belongs to the portfolio minister, Greg Hunt, whose office, in co-ordination with the Prime Minister's Office, was supposed to be managing the bill. By his own admission, Hunt must have known about the problems of the PUP's last-minute amendment yesterday morning, almost an hour before the government brought on the gag motion in the Senate that set the clock ticking for an 11.50am vote. Indeed, Palmer actually flagged that something was afoot to journalists even earlier in the morning. Yet the government's Senate leadership proceeded with the gag motion. Did Hunt's office tell them or the PMO of the problems? If Hunt did, the decision to proceed with the gag motion significantly worsened the government's predicament -- it's one thing to be dudded by Clive, but quite another to set the clock ticking to a failed vote. If Hunt didn't, it's a major failure by his office. So it's back to the House of Reps next week for the repeal bill, where the Doyens of Deregulation will pass an absurdly draconian amendment imposing requirements on business relating to passing on cost savings. Couldn't happen to a more deserving bunch: for three years, the Coalition has been incessantly claiming the carbon price would inflict exorbitant cost increases on families. Well, the PUP are taking the Coalition's claims seriously and demanding those big cost increases -- which never happened -- be eliminated. As for business complaints about the PUP amendment, well, they should've thought of that when they campaigned so hard against Labor for the removal of the carbon price. The day didn't get any better for the government. Labor very cleverly (how often have we been able to use that phrase in the last six years?) tabled the regulations repealing the Future of Financial Advice (FOFA), which the government had been refusing to table in order to maximise its chances of avoiding disallowance. Labor had tried once to table the regulations this week and been defeated; yesterday Labor Senator (and now the head of the Senate Economics Committee) Sam Dastyari began reading them into Hansard, until a Labor Senator demanded he table what he was reading from; the government tried to prevent tabling but lost the ensuing vote. All completely legitimate -- Senate practice makes clear anyone can table regulations for disallowance. Indeed, Labor was merely doing to the Coalition what the Coalition did to it in 2009, when the Coalition tabled building industry regulations and disallowed them. This time around, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann glumly, and redundantly, then tabled the regs himself, so there'll be a vote for disallowance next week, probably Tuesday. It was a dismal end to a week that was supposed to be one of triumph for the government, with a new Senate repealing the carbon price and the Prime Minister showing off his close relationship with his Japanese counterpart. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit went well, and the government is right to build on what is obviously a strong relationship between the two leaders, whatever the appeasers and apologists for Beijing in the foreign policy commentariat might claim. But foreign policy doesn't matter to punters. Being able to actually govern and legislate effectively does. One of the big questions about an Abbott prime ministership was always going to be how effective he would be as a negotiator, particularly compared to Julia Gillard, who was masterful at negotiating legislation through not one but two recalcitrant houses. So far, the answer is rubbish. Abbott and poor performers like Hunt will have to lift their game if the government is to avoid the ongoing impression of chaos. But we've been saying the government needs to lift its game virtually since the moment it took office. Does it actually have the capacity to do so under its current Prime Minister?[/i]

TalkTurkey

11/07/2014Abolishing the price on carbon will have an imperceptible effect on household budgets, especially since Qantas, Virgin, Woolworths (& how many others?) are vowing to REFUSE to lower prices after it's gone. http://www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2014/7/11/carbon-markets/could-end-carbon-tax-spell-end-abbott

Ken

11/07/2014TT Abolishing the carbon price will not stop the massive rises in energy prices over the next few years. They expect gas to triple in price, largely due to international demand. Demand for electricity is falling so, of course, private companies raise the price to maintain their profits-- which makes the case why public utilities should never have been privatised. All the indications are that if we want cheaper energy bills in the future, we need to go to renewables but Abbott and co. would rather have us paying more by trying to ensure our renewable energy industry is stillborn.

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11/07/2014Folks Do read [i]The problem with the problem of inequality[/i] by Tim Dean on [i]The Drum[/i] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-11/dean-the-problem-with-the-problem-of-inequality/5589418?WT It reinforces what I have been asserting about changing political beliefs – it is virtually impossible because people operate from their preexisting worldview that is derived almost completely from circumstance and background rather than logical reasoning from verifiable facts. Note these paragraphs: “[i] The problem is that when we debate policy we often take our worldview for granted, and forget that our political opponents see the world in a fundamentally different way. So it often seems to us that the other side of politics is simply batshit crazy. Their policies seem totally irrational or even cruel given the way we see the world, yet no matter how much we argue about how wrong their policies are, it never seems to cut through. So we talk (or shout) across each other, on inequality and just about everything else. “Thus the bold facts about inequality, as made abundantly clear by the rock stars of economics [Piketty, Stiglitz et al], just don't move enough people on the Right to encourage politicians to take notice.”[/i] Then reflect on this suggestion: “[i]What to do? It's actually quite simple. Before we debate what to do about inequality, we should start another debate about what kind of world we live in. Is the world really meritocratic or not?”[/i] I would add a supplementary question: [b]“What sort of world do we wish to live in.”[/b] Mind you, I’m not certain that the protagonists of conservative politics would be prepared to answer either of them, which would leave us back at the proverbial ‘square one’, where we may remain stuck. Seizing political power again seems the only remedy!

Ken

11/07/2014Ad I think Tim Dean's article misses a key point. Most people would favour a meritocratic society and the key issue is not meritocracy per se, but whether or not it is a level playing field for everyone to advance/succeed by merit. The conservatives say it is. The progressives say it isn't. We know it isn't!

TalkTurkey

11/07/2014In my Inbox, from Penny Wong TT, It’s been a busy few days in the Senate – and the debates on carbon pricing have told us a lot about the Abbott Government. We saw a Government which does not care about the risks to the planet from climate change. We saw a Government trampling on the Senate’s role of scrutinising legislation. And eventually we saw a humiliating defeat for Tony Abbott as the Government’s bullying turned to debacle. Labor Senators spent the week advocating our policy of moving from the fixed carbon price to an emissions trading scheme that will put a cap on Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. The Coalition spent the week trying to repeal carbon pricing and leave Australia with no serious policy to tackle climate change. This was the first sitting week of the new Senate where there are 33 Coalition Senators, 25 Labor Senators, 10 Greens and another eight cross benchers. Here’s how the week unfolded – a tale of arrogance and incompetence. Monday: The Government forced the Senate to start debating the repeal bills immediately, even though this breached Senate rules. After failing on its first attempt, the Government eventually persuaded enough cross benchers to suspend standing orders and bring on debate immediately. Tuesday: During second reading debate on the bills Labor made it clear we would move amendments seeking to move to an emissions trading scheme. Wednesday: The media was briefed that the Government would force the bills through the Senate by lunchtime, paving the way for a triumphant press conference by Tony Abbott. The Government tried to impose a “guillotine,” cutting debate short. But it lost by one vote when three cross benchers joined Labor to insist on a proper debate. Thursday: The Government finally secured a deal with the cross benchers to impose the guillotine, giving the Senate less than two hours to consider amendments before a vote. But the deal unravelled – Clive Palmer accused the Government of double-crossing the Palmer United Party on its amendments. When the Government’s self-imposed guillotine fell at 11.50 am, PUP switched sides and voted with Labor to defeat the repeal bills. So where to next? The Government will try to repair its deal with PUP. It is now claiming that it will be able to force the repeal bills through both houses of Parliament next week. For our part, Labor will continue fighting in Parliament for responsible action to tackle climate change. Penny Wong Leader of the Opposition in the Senate ________________________________________ Australian Labor Party Authorised by G. Wright, Australian Labor, 5/9 Sydney Avenue, Barton 2600 ACT Unsubscribe

2353

12/07/2014After a quick flick through the local NewsCorp publication this morning it is clearly obvious that the 'spin' on the Governments inability to govern is seen to be the fault of anyone else. During the last Labor Government - it was the fault of the 'dysfunctional rabble' that formed the government. I'm sure the cross benches in the Senate are playing a game to suit their own ends, however I have been told since I was a kid not to count my chickens before the eggs hatch; know what the answer is before you ask the question and ensure everything is lined up before you commence action. Clearly Abbott believes that the same cons that he pulled on a majority of the public will work just as well in Parliament. It is also pretty clear that Clive Palmer didn't get his billions through luck - rather a lot of intellectual work. There was one interesting comment in the Curious Snail however - a Liberal Party MP is claimed to have suggested the LNP was formed to benefit business, the ALP was formed to benefit workers but Palmer United was formed to 'get' Campbell Newman (one could also infer Tony Abbott as well). It could be an interesting times before the next election.

Ken

12/07/20142353 Yes, for Abbott, it is the old curse: 'May you live in interesting times.'

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12/07/2014Ken Point taken.

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12/07/2014Folks You might be interested in some information that appeared in the weekly newsletter of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners last Friday, 11 July: [i][b]Co-payment will hit patients harder than expected[/b] “The RACGP’s stance that patients will choose to delay or avoid seeing their GP if the proposed $7 co-payment for general practice services is implemented was confirmed this week in a report released by the Bettering the Evaluation and Care of Health (BEACH) program. The report, which estimates the economic impact of the implementation of a co-payment model, found that young families, the elderly and those with chronic conditions will be hit hardest under this model. “The study adds to the mounting body of evidence that supports the RACGP’s concern the model will force Australian’s to think twice about accessing healthcare due to out-of-pocket costs. Despite the Government attempting to state otherwise, the reality of the co-payment is the out-of-pocket costs go well beyond the nominal $7 figure. In fact, the study estimated the co-payment costs will equate to: a young family - classified as one with two children aged below 16 with two parents aged between 25–44 years - would pay an additional $184 more per year on average self-funded retired couple (aged 65+ years, with no Commonwealth concession cards) - additional $244 per year on average older couple (aged 65+ years, pensioners with concession cards) - additional $199 per year on average average patient at a consultation who has Type 2 Diabetes - additional $120 per year. “Further exacerbating the issue, the study also found that under the proposed changes to the Pharmaceutical Benefit Schedule (PBS) medication co-payment, the overall cost increase for medications will be higher for concessional patients compared with general patients, despite a lower individual co-payment rate. Combined, the co-payment on both of these crucial primary healthcare services poses a serious concern, particularly for families, the elderly, and Australia’s most vulnerable population who will no doubt think twice about accessing clinically appropriate and timely healthcare, potentially relying heavily on more expensive hospital services. By proposing such a model, the Government has seriously compromised every aspect of the healthcare system at the detriment of the patient and the general practice profession both of whom are forced to absorb the costs of primary healthcare delivery. “With no indication whether the proposed co-payment for general practice services will be supported in the Senate, the RACGP remains committed to advocating against the implementation of a mandatory co-payment model and the removal of access to universal healthcare.”[/i] Pity the Abbott Government takes so little notice of those actually involved in healthcare. But after all, in the Strict Father conservative model, ‘Father knows best’.

TalkTurkey

12/07/2014Swordsfolks will recall my verbal stoush with a (then) frequent contributor to this blog, concerning the difference in our attitudes to the actions of Israel in the captive non-State of Palestine. Specifically it was Nasking's initial declaration that he was "a big supporter of Israel" that raised my ire. It is beyond me how anyone with a shred of human pity could support the actions of that NaZionist State against the captive non-Jews living in the besieged non-State of Palestine. A pitiless invasive murderous regime, safe in their cosy bunkers, armed to the teeth with every conceivable weapon, raining death on the hapless people of Gaza. Easier than shooting fish in a barrel. And concerning the 'by-catch', the women and kids and all non-combatants, these super-thugs plainly don't give a toss. In fact there are photos of Jews dancing in delight as the missiles rain death and destruction on those defenceless victims. Those victims are not Jews. Jews refer to non-Jews as [i]Goyim[/i], a lesser sort of being to themselves, who are God's Chosen People. This is a better comment than words alone could ever be: “@charlesfrith: The master race get all the sympathy in the controlled media pic.twitter.com/iLpaSsfzoo” "Master Race". "God's Chosen People". [i]Why do those words sound so familiar? [/i] To paraphrase the concluding sentence of George Orwell's [i]Animal Farm:[/i] [i]The Goyim outside looked from Nazis to Zionists, and from Zionists to Nazis, and from Nazis to Zionists again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.[/i] (The original goes): - [i]The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.[/i] November 1943 (the month I was born!)

TalkTurkey

12/07/2014Sorry re post at 10.43, here's the right link. https://twitter.com/charlesfrith/status/487808950360748032/photo/1

TalkTurkey

12/07/2014And this is the face of human inhumanity. http://www.veooz.com/photos/bHJyIdM.html

2353

13/07/2014Ooops! We forgot to delete Clive :-) http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/uh-oh--we-forgot-professor-clive-palmer-20140712-zt5ou.html

Pappinbarra Fox

13/07/2014Mr Abbott described the government's performance in parliament during the week as "Situation Normal". His words were echoed by Mr Turnbull. Well here is a history lesson. Situation Normal is one shortened version of a phrase that arose during the second world war. It was also shortened to SNAFU. When the forces were under fire, the communications were down or intermittent, backup supplies were not arriving or the wrong supplies were delivered to the wrong troops it was known as a snafu. A SNAFU really means: Situation Normal: All Fouled Up (or use your own appropriate word beginning with F.) So the take home message of Mr Abbott's speech is Situation Normal: All Fouled Up! Well Mr Abbott- we all knew that already.
I have two politicians and add 2 more; how many are there?