You reap what you sow


During the June prior to Senate changeovers, as June 2014 is, it is traditional for retiring senators to give a valedictory speech. Senator Ron Boswell (LNP Queensland) gave his speech on 17 June after 31 years in the Senate. Although never a cabinet minister, Boswell is renowned for fighting off a challenge from Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party in 2004. Boswell’s television advertising in the 2004 election campaign was corny but apparently successful. The underlying message of the advertising was, however, very clever: ‘he isn’t pretty, but he’s pretty effective’. Even Senator Larissa Waters (Greens Queensland) tweeted upon Boswell’s announcement that he would not recontest his seat: ‘While I don't share Ron Boswell's views on most things, you gotta respect 30yrs of service.’

The Australian Democrats were formed in 1977 with former Liberal Party minister Don Chipp as leader. They saw themselves as a centrist political party and they claimed on a number of occasions that they would ‘keep the bastards honest’. Meg Lees, the leader of the Democrats in 1999, made an agreement with then Prime Minister John Howard allowing the passage of the GST Legislation, provided some goods and services were exempt from the 10% tax. It has been claimed that the Democrats never recovered from the internal division created by that decision and, by 2012, the Democrats were being written off by Crikey as a spent force. Today they seem to have two presidents, two websites (here and here) and they certainly have no members of parliament.

The Abbott government is currently going through a period of unpopularity similar in metrics to that of the Gillard government, if the opinion polls are to be taken at face value. In fact, opposition leader Bill Shorten ironically suggested at the recent Mid-Winter Ball that ‘much had changed’ in the past 12 months in federal parliament: the government is behind in the polls, the prime minister is being hammered over unpopular taxes and broken promises, unruly backbenchers, a leadership contender saying he’s not interested in the leadership, and so on. Is it that the policies and media teams of each government were/are equally inept or is there a reason that has considerably more logic to it sitting below the surface?

Lets go back to July 2013 when Waleed Aly, writing in The Monthly suggested:

Abbott’s attack on Gillard’s broken carbon-tax promise has made the sanctity of one’s word a litmus test for legitimacy, but he has no compunction about reneging on written agreements that no longer suit him

On April 27 2014, Business Insider reported

Here’s something you can expect to hear a lot about in the coming weeks: the moment when Tony Abbott said a Coalition government would introduce no new taxes.

The Prime Minister today did not deny reports of a new income tax under consideration as part of the Coalition’s approach to reducing the budget deficit. The reports suggest it will be a short-term “deficit tax”, mainly targeting higher-income earners.

If you follow the link above, you can hear Abbott say it at one of the multitude of press conferences at unsuspecting businesses — this time however he is strangely not dressed in the customary, immaculate hi-vis vest. Not all is lost — the language is appropriately mangled.

We now know that in addition to the ‘deficit tax’, there have been a number of alterations to existing financial arrangements that generally affect the less well off in our community. They include the $7 ‘co-payment’ for visiting a doctor, (with the possibly unintended side effect of a reduction in donations for medical research) the raising of the pension age to 70, and those under 30 seeking unemployment benefits will be required to wait 6 months before they are permitted to receive a welfare benefit from the Government.

It will probably be argued for years to come whether Gillard lied about the imposition of a carbon tax prior to the 2010 election — and at the end of the day it’s unimportant. The fact is that Gillard did say the words that there would be no tax on carbon — as reported frequently. The full response to the question by Bill McDonald (then with Channel 10 Brisbane News) is here (from about 2:20 on the video). Clearly, the full answer is too long for a 30 second grab (so loved by the electronic media) especially when the opposition leader seems to believe ‘win at all costs’ should be his overriding concern. Abbott ran hard on no new taxes for the entire period of the Gillard government — calling Gillard a liar on the issue — and while he probably didn’t suggest ‘the carbon tax’ was the reason for the dearth of anything decent on television on a Tuesday night, as reported in The Shovel, he did make a number of claims regarding the effects of additional taxation and how he would not impose new taxes while ‘fixing the budget’ (as recorded by the ABC’s Factcheck Unit).

You could argue that Abbott, himself, came to power on a lie. His ‘promise’ to rescind the ‘carbon tax’ immediately was clearly not achievable. The legislation to remove the emissions trading scheme was before parliament in the middle of this year, some nine months after the election. Ironically while attempting to steer the removal legislation through the parliament, Abbott is attempting to reintroduce fuel excise indexation — a de facto carbon tax (the more you consume through either driving a greater distance or using a vehicle with higher fuel consumption, the more you pay).

While refugee boats have slowed, others will tell you that it is not solely due to Abbott’s ‘stop the boats’ promise.

The ALP’s report on the loss of the 2013 election blames disunity within the ALP, as well as some questionable campaign decisions, but notes that, if Gillard had led the ALP to the 2013 election, the result would have been worse. The mantra of broken promises would have contributed to the loss, along with a clearly identifiable division within the ALP. Abbott had a considerable part in crafting the message of ‘broken promises’.

Now that Abbott is the prime minister, there is apparently a higher standard of truth expected from him and his government. John Hewson, former Liberal Party leader and Abbott’s former boss, has been reported in the Fairfax Media as critical of Abbott’s approach:

His broadest critique is that Abbott, for four years his press secretary and political adviser, has failed to communicate a vision: “They had a chance with the budget to pull all these bits and pieces together; the end of the age of entitlement, fine; not supporting industry, fine; now pull it all together,” says Hewson.

“Where the jobs are going to come from, where the growth is going to come from, what Paul Keating called an ‘overarching narrative’. Have a consistent message.

“There’s no clear, consistent message, other than, ‘We have to cut and cut more and more just to get the budget numbers’, not with any reform purpose. It’s unfair and it’s inconsistent. A bit of vision is what’s really called for.”

Maybe the real issue with the ‘vision thing’ is that people really want to know what their politicians can deliver, rather than what they would like to deliver. Without getting into the semantics of ‘budget emergencies’; ‘class warfare’; ‘trickle up or down economics’ etc., are politicians failing the community by attempting to be too clever?

Ron Boswell’s campaign advertising from 2004 didn’t claim that he could fix everything — all it did was claim that he wasn’t pretty (true, he has a great face for radio) but he was pretty effective. As Larissa Water’s tweet on his retirement announcement suggested, 31 years in the Senate is a distinguished career, and if he wasn’t ‘effective’ (in the eyes of his political party) as claimed, he would have been removed long before being allowed to retire on his own terms.

The Australian Democrats came to prominence on the slogan of ‘keeping the bastards honest’. For a long time, they appeared to do just that. Rightly or wrongly, Meg Lees’ agreement to the GST created a lot of division inside the party and throughout the wider community, to the extent that the perception of the Democrats changed from one of keeping them (the two major parties) honest, to being just another grouping of the ‘bastards’.

Rudd called climate change ‘the greatest moral, economic and social challenge of our time’ until he lost the vote in Parliament. Then somehow it went away.

Gillard managed to legislate a response to climate change through the Parliament which wasn’t sold well by the Government of the day. By agreeing in interviews that the fixed price for carbon trading could be construed as a tax, it made her whole ‘there will be no carbon tax’ claim unsupportable. Certainly there were external factors at work as well, but the claim of lies over the introduction of a carbon price could be the bedrock on which all other claims had their foundation.

Abbott came to power on slogans: ‘no new taxes’; ‘stop the boats’; ‘fix the budget’, and the impression was that action would be immediate. The reality was that very few of his promises could be immediately implemented. You would have to wonder if Abbott and his campaign team ever wondered how they would ‘fix the budget’ without changing taxation or benefits; or commence the process of repealing the ‘carbon tax’ on Day 1 (as promised). This ABC opinion piece written the day prior to the election demonstrates some of the problems Abbott faced, and still faces, in matching the actuality with the rhetoric prior to the 2013 election. Clearly it hasn’t gone to plan — if, in fact, there was a plan.

Waleed Aly’s piece in The Monthly claimed that Abbott ‘has no compunction in reneging on written agreements that no longer suit him’. Isn’t that the root cause of Australians’ current opinion of politicians? Rather than ‘promise’ whatever it takes to win and then reneging, wouldn’t Abbott (and his predecessors) have been better off taking a leaf from Ron Boswell’s campaign and suggesting they will be effective in responding to issues as they arise? Surely Australians deserve more information than could ever be contained in a 30 second sound bite — which seems to be the current ‘gold standard’ for truth in Australian politics?

After all, as John Maynard Keynes is reputed to have said ‘When the facts change, I change my opinion — what do you do, sir?’

What do you think?

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TPS Team

27/07/2014This week sees 2353 back in the author's chair with another insightful piece. He makes the point that the Democrats reaped what they sowed when they allowed passage of a (modified) GST. Julia Gillard, rightly or wrongly, was pilloried for making a statement about the carbon price. Is Tony Abbott now reaping what he sowed during the Gillard government's term? Let us know what you think?

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27/07/20142353 Thank you your exposé. Our Prime Minister is acknowledged to be a liar; he has said so himself. We ought not to be surprised then that he lied extensively pre-election. Getting to be PM was his prime objective, by whatever means, no matter how much deception, disingenuousness, sleight of hand and tongue were needed, no matter how many downright lies were necessary. It was his conscious decision to behave this way. He will reap what he has so profligately sown. People like Abbott have no political conscience. ‘Whatever it takes’ is his mantra. He has many of like mind around him. The harvest he is reaping now is the direct result of his lies, his broken promises not to increase taxes, not to interfere with pensions or funding for education and health. The polls reflect what people think of him, his government and his unfair and punitive budget, premised on another lie, the grotesque proposition that the budget is in crisis, that an emergency exists that demands [b]radical action right now[/b]. No economist who is not associated with the Coalition or the IPA or the Murdoch press accepts this story as true. So Abbott has piled lie upon lie, no doubt hoping the public would swallow his spurious assertions. The public has not, and Abbott, Hockey, Cormann and Co are now reaping discredit and poor polls for what they have sown. The crop they sowed has not flourished; it has withered on the vine, and may perish. The owners of the vineyard, the people, have refused to say: “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things”. Like the vineyard owner in the Bible story, the people too know: “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” Abbott has been judged and found to be a poor steward of this nation’s treasures. No matter what he does now, no matter how well he executes the MH17 matter, his lying, his deceit, his flawed stewardship, and his disregard for fairness will strangle his crop, weeds will flourish, and the punitive, ideological poison he sprayed around in his budget will destroy the faith in him that the people showed just a short nine months ago. He is, and will continue to reap what he has so carelessly sown, until it eventually brings him down.

Michael

27/07/2014Speaking of "reap what you sow", the ABC is so manifestly crawling to curry favour with Abbott and co here http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-27/abbott-government-delivering-on-more-promises-than-breaking/5627502 it is truly sick-making. When an incoming government's determined pursuit of its political rivals through Royal Commissions and other official organs of indictment is defined as a government keeping a "promise" we are clearly in a place where 'promise' is freshly listed in the political thesaurus as interchangeable with 'vendetta', 'revenge', 'petty pursuit', 'vicious pulling upon the levers of power', and many another word and phrase that have never before been listed as synonyms for the word "promise", except when it was adjectivally qualified by words like 'spiteful', 'vindictive', or 'small-minded'. I don't know 'whose ABC' this is creating their so-called 'Promise Tracker', but it is most certainly not mine. Sow away ABC, but do not be surprised if you reap nothing but weeds that will flourish under the 'care' of the masters you seem so eager to please until they have strangled you.

TalkTurkey

27/07/2014Nepotism? What's that? This is Entitlement! https://twitter.com/Mysta/status/493299364568133632/photo/1

Michael

27/07/2014It's early days (see time stamp above) over at the ABC Promise Tracker site http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-27/abbott-government-delivering-on-more-promises-than-breaking/5627502 and though only the first 11 comments have arrived, the last I saw was a 'Libs can do no wrong' "ten out of ten in government so far" shill doing his or her best. The previous comments to that one were variations on my own disbelief that the ABC could possibly run such a page. That said, once the pagemakers get past the acclamation of the spurious 'promises' I mention in my earlier post, they already have nowhere to go except to list Abbott gumnint lies and unannounced depredation into everyday peoples' lives. I predict 'Promise Tracker' will draw so much flak down on the ABC from the Coalition and their barnacle-barrackers that whoever thought it was a good cosying-up-with-Abbott-and-co idea to have such a page may find themselves discovering the joys of Job Network very very soon.

2353`

28/07/2014Michael, I've just discovered if you 'report abuse' on the Promise Tracker site - you affect the 'Score'. Obviously you have to have a reason to 'report abuse' - but in your example of Comment 11, there is a deliberate typo which denegrates a former Prime Minister of this nation! Ad Astra, Thank you for the wonderful comment. There is a biblical subtext to this piece - hopefully there will be a similar learning at the end for the Australian population which reduces the level of slogan making and increasing the level of genuine discussion of the issues.

Catching up

28/07/2014The trouble is, when it comes to deciding whether Abbott breaks promises or not, is to find out what he actually promised. Most of the campaign, consisted of meaningless three word slogans and motherhood statements. Most statement he made were accompanied by words like, this is what I aspire to. Even when it come to axing the tax, he never mentioned the rest of the CEF suite of legalisation, which was not a tax, had nothing to do with taxes. His promise to get rid of unnecessary regulations, did not include that they would remove or demolish every government and NGO organisation.

Ken

28/07/20142353 Yes, Abbott seems to have rewritten the rules of the political game and that will certainly come back to bite him. One that really frightens me is that he is tearing up COAG agreements. It is a bit like a new Board or new CEO of a company saying we will not honour existing contracts -- a company couldn't get away with that without, at least, compensating the contractor but the Federal government controls the purse strings and, under Abbott, is doing it without compunction. It will make it more difficult for future Federal/State agreements if States know that a deal they negotiate can simply be ignored if there is a change of government. And to answer your question, yes, politicians are trying to be too clever. They use weasel words. They use words that leave them an opening for 'plausible deniability', they add sentences that can basically alter the meaning of what they have already said (like the proverbial 'fine print' in an agreement) - always something that leaves them some 'wiggle room'. Australians are known for 'straight talking' and would like to see some in their politicians. But that is unlikely to happen while politicans are run by media advisers.

Catching up

28/07/2014It seems. he is to be seen as a good crisis manager. Sadly most of the crisis he has to deal with, he also created.

Curi-Oz

28/07/2014It would appear that the ABC Promise Keeper site (and why does that phrase give me the shivers?) is actually a plagiarism of Sally McManus's site. http://sallymcmanus.net/abbotts-wreckage/ But that's alright because Sally is one of those dreadful union type people and all the things she is calling 'wreckage' is obviously a "promise" kept ... *wistful* It would be nice to think that there are some good folks on the LNP benches, or in the Liberal or National Parties who are finding the reported behaviours/attitudes of their party leaders to be a touch uncomfortable, or possibly even stupidly offensive?

Pappinbarra Fox

28/07/2014268. Hands over 41 Sri Lankan asylum seekers to the custody of Sri Lankan authorities after screening them at sea and transferring them while still on the water – 07 July, 2014 Does anyone have any info on what happened to the refouled Sri Lankans?

Ken

28/07/2014Curi-Oz Unfortunately, I think the way the LNP has been stacked with far-Right, Tea Party types, means that there are probably more who think Abbott has not yet gone far enough in driving down the peasants! I don't hold out a lot of hope for the LNP unless (or until) there is a revival of the small 'L' liberals.

Curi-Oz

28/07/2014Ken, I am often amused by the stray thought that the LNP might keep tracking rightwards until they fade out and/or join other fringe religions, leaving the Labor Party to actually become the new 'right' of the political spectrum. What would sprout on the 'left' I have no idea in my little fantasy, but it makes me smile wryly when I see some of the fulminating on Parliamentary TV.

TalkTurkey

28/07/2014Three Golden Girls https://twitter.com/Mysta/status/493299364568133632/photo/1 All virgins too! And from [i]Independent Australia[/i] http://www.independentaustralia.net/australia/australia-display/open-letter-to-psychotic-scott-morrison,6713#.U9YMwC3Qnci.twitter

Michael

28/07/2014Over in New Zealand Joe Hockey is caught out AND shown up on one of their local TV shows last Saturday. He admits Australia's economy is not in crisis, then talks like it is, then doesn't know the answers to questions specific to his portfolio about how New Zealanders are treated in Australia (it's called researching the country you are visiting Joe, just in case the locals ask you questions about your very important job), and tries to wriggle away at interview's with some weak rugby chatter. The interview transcript is here: http://www.3news.co.nz/Interview-Joe-Hockey/tabid/1348/articleID/354234/Default.aspx The interview begins with some comments that might surprise Australians: Lisa Owen began by asking him how much trouble the Australian economy was in given his drastic measures in the recent Budget. Joe Hockey: The Australian economy is not in trouble. We’ve had 23 years of consecutive economic growth. We want another 23 years of economic growth, and as a result, the reforms you undertake today will build the growth tomorrow. So we need to undertake these reforms. But there’s no crisis at all in the Australian economy. The fact is you need to move on the budget to fix it now, and you need to undertake structural reform to structure the economy in the years ahead. Lisa Owen: So if there is no crisis, and a number of economists in your country have said that there isn’t one, is this budget about ideological changes, trying to push through some things that might have been highly unpalatable unless you told people there was a real need to do this? Hockey: Well, no, I don’t accept the premise of your question... and blah and blah and blah. This "don't accept the premise of your question" line is run out in just about every Abbott gumnint interview these days. It's cover for "I'm not going to answer your question because a) I'll be caught out in a lie if I do. b) The question nails me to a lie I've told in the past, or the PM did. c) How dare you ask me a question I might have to step away from party-line BS to answer with anything approaching honesty, which we in the Abbott gumnint don't do. Honesty, that is. Stepping away is reflexive." "Premise of your question" is Year 9 debating technique, not a) b) or c), acceptable from any minister in our Federal government, who is a) b) and c) a public servant. Sloppy, Joe, sloppy.

TalkTurkey

28/07/2014Australia from the leading role to the cringing tail between the world's legs ... http://www.newyorker.com/news/hendrik-hertzberg/carbon-tax-goes?utm_source=tny&utm_campaign=generalsocial&utm_medium=twitter&mbid=social_twitter

TalkTurkey

29/07/2014Great Barrier Reef about to be trashed forever ... http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/giant-galilee-coal-mine-gets-canberra-nod-20140728-zxl23.html

TalkTurkey

30/07/2014Laugh or cry ... ? http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/tapping-away-into-the-night-the-shipping-news-provides-a-poster-girl-for-eric-abetzs-new-dole-plans-20140729-3crfy.html

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30/07/2014TT Parallel with the Glasgow Games, there is a hotly contested race among Abbott ministers to see who can come up with the most ridiculous policy proposal. Eric Abetz, who has form in this race, is well out in front but should watch his back as there are many ministers experienced in the 'ridiculous policy stakes', who are bearing down on him as he approaches the finishing line to claim Gold. Tony Wright's story delightfully exposes the ridiculousness of the Abetz proposal, built as Abetz tells us not on carefully conducted studies of this complex issue, but on anecdotal evidence: "a man in a pub told him".

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30/07/2014Folks I’m currently enjoying several books, which I’m reading in parallel. Yesterday I finished reading Mary Delahunty’s [i]Gravity[/i], a sensitively written inside account by a former politician of Julia Gillard’s last year as prime minister. Those who remember the events of that year, some ugly, some triumphal, will gain another perspective on this brilliant yet unusual woman who led this nation through the most profound reforms we have seen for decades. It’s a great read, sad in several places. http://www.booktopia.com.au/gravity-mary-delahunty/prod9781742707631.html I’m still working through Daniel Kahneman’s [i]Thinking, Fast and Slow[/i], a dense but brilliant book on how we think, and the impediments to our thinking processes, some of which may come as a surprise even to those who have studied the process of thinking. Readers need to revise their knowledge of statistics, which incidentally he makes easy with lucid explanations and examples. He surprises by demonstrating how even those trained to think statistically too often make the most fundamental statistical errors in solving problems. The book gives insight into how decisions of a political nature are distorted by faulty statistical thinking. To me, it explains how flawed assessments and judgments imperil decision-making even at the highest level of government, and for that matter, business and academia. I hope when I’ve read and re-read this fine book, I’ll be able to add to the comment, referenced to this book, that I made related to the previous piece: [i]Do you know a con-artist when you see one?[/i] http://books.google.com.au/books/about/Thinking_Fast_and_Slow.html?id=oV1tXT3HigoC&redir_esc=y I’m reading bit by bit [i]The Science Book (Big ideas simply explained)[/i] published by DK in 2014, written by a panel of science authors that addresses over three hundred ideas and discoveries in science, each in just a page or two, each abounding with illustrations. It’s a great way of refreshing one’s understanding in science, learned at school and university, that has dimmed over time. http://www.amazon.com/Science-Book-Ideas-Simply-Explained/dp/1465419659 Then yesterday I came across a book review in [i]Business Spectator[/i] by Steve Keen [i]Why the super rich are running scared of inequality[/i], an informative read in itself: http://www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2014/7/28/global-news/why-super-rich-are-running-scared-inequality? In it, he referred to a book by Richard Vague: [i]The Next Economic Disaster: Why It's Coming and How to Avoid It?[/i] Vague is a one of the managing partners of Gabriel Investments and the Chairman of The Governor's Woods Foundation, a non-profit philanthropic organization in the US. http://www.amazon.com/Next-Economic-Disaster-Coming-Avoid-ebook/dp/B00LA94AT2/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=1-1&qid=1406489060 Tempted, I downloaded onto my Android tablet the ‘sample’ offered, and finding it fascinating reading, downloaded the entire 104-page book for the princely sum of $7.96. Having just read it, I can recommend it as an informative read on the economics of financial crises, something of great contemporary interest after the GFC. Briefly, Vague's thesis is that such calamities follow the rapid growth of aggregate [b]private[/b] debt when it exceeds 150 per cent of GDP, and when that level had grown by 18 per cent or more over five years or less. He gives numerous examples of when this has occurred, documented with authoritative graphs, which show how much higher [b]private[/b] debt has been than [b]public[/b] debt as a proportion of GDP in recent years, and how excess private debt has corresponded with financial calamities. His arguments are compelling. He goes onto warn that China, upon which this country, and indeed much of the global economy has depended for prosperity, is approaching such a private debt situation, and that if China experiences a consequent financial crisis, that will adversely affect our economy and economies around the world. If you are wondering what [b]our[/b] level of private is, take a look at http://www.whocrashedtheeconomy.com.au/blog/household-debt/ Referring to Australia, the article begins: [i]There is no doubt about it – During the last decade, household debt has spiralled out of control.[/i] The accompanying graphs are not entirely up to date, except the last, but as they stand paint a disturbing picture. If any of you has more up-to-date figures, please add a reference to them. Richard Vague’s solutions to high private debt are interesting. They include restructuring of defaulting loans in an innovative way, and insistence on higher levels of capitalization for bank and non-bank lenders. What struck me was Vague’s strident emphasis on [b]private debt[/b], whereas our Treasurer and Assistant Treasurer (and even our economically illiterate Prime Minister) have been telling us for years, more insistently since their election, that it is [b]public (Government) debt[/b] that is the culprit, and that it is so serious here that it constitutes a ‘crisis’ and a ‘budget emergency’ that requires immediate, drastic and punitive actions by government. We now know that this is nonsense. Vague’s book puts another nail in that nonsensical Hockey, Cormann and Co coffin.

2353`

31/07/2014Prehaps there is a mood for pulling back from the 30 second soundbite to a more reasoned debate where some compromise is found. Madonna King's opinion contribution to the Farfax Media website explores a similar question to the discussion piece above. It concludes [quote]Not everyone is perfect all of the time, and those encouraging the extremism we are seeing in debates - ranging from the Middle East to Tim Carmody - are not helping anyone. In part it’s the media’s fault. Friction makes for a better story. In part it’s our politicians’ fault; they want to grandstand in the headline. And others like Campbell Newman have created a legacy of picking fights where someone is either for his government, or against it. He can’t countenance that voters might like some things he does, and hate others. And voters or readers or listeners are partly responsible too. The newspaper or website with the most outlandish story on offer - or the word sex - will always be read more than anything else. Perhaps it’s time we all played a part in pulling back to the middle ground. Perhaps some privatisation might work in Queensland. Perhaps there is a reasonable solution to the horror of animal cruelty that both sides could work to achieve. The middle ground in any debate might not be all shouty and neon-lit, but long-term it might provide a better solution. And even a more civil society.[/quote] http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/keep-calm-and-look-for-the-shades-of-grey-20140730-zyns4.html#ixzz38zTRplxP

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31/07/20142353
 Thank you for posting the Madonna King article. She focuses on what we see every day - extreme views being pushed by those who cannot, indeed will not accept alternative views. Many of these extreme views are religious; many are political. Every day we hear politicians seemingly unable or unwilling to see any merit in their opponents' position. Adversarial politics seems to be the norm. There is seldom middle ground, seldom consensus, seldom agreement. When it occasionally occurs, as has been the case with the handling of MH17, the people breathe a sign of relief, even applaud.

 Over the years I have observed politics I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that some ideas, some beliefs, some positions held by some people are simply not amenable to change. So entrenched are they, so fervently held are they that no amount of factually based argument, no amount of logical reasoning will ever change them. I have concluded that it is pointless, and therefore not worth the effort and the frustration to even try to bring about change.
 Some areas that seem to me to be impervious to facts and reasoning include extreme religious views, extreme views about climate change, extreme views about political ideology, to name but three. Having been educated in a scientific milieu, I find distressing the disregard for facts and evidence and the abandonment of reasoning that so often characterizes debates on these contentious subjects. On them, and with some people, with great reluctance I have had to abandon the Socratic approach that I have found so helpful all my professional life, and have had to settle for no debate at all. Some things are subject to change, some ideas in some people are subject to change, but when that clearly is not the case, debate, no matter how well supported by evidence, no matter how persuasively argued, is a waste of time. Madonna King’s plea for a more moderate approach, for more agreement than disagreement, is laudable. How I would welcome that instead of the adversarial angst we see every day. Sadly, for so much of the discourse in the political space, her dream is Utopian.

Jason

31/07/20142353 An article by Tim Dunlop to compliment your great piece The Abbott Government, and its supporters in business and the media, hold our egalitarian Australia in contempt, and they see this term of government as their chance to feed it to the sharks, writes Tim Dunlop. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-31/dunlop-feeding-our-egalitarian-nation-to-the-sharks/5638304

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31/07/2014Jason Thanks. Another great article by Tim Dunlop.

2353`

1/08/2014AA - the irony of madonna King's article is that she used to be the ABC Brisbane Radio's morning announcer and write for the Courier Mail. Her views seem to have moderated significantly since she made the switch to the Brisbane Times and no longer 'appears' on radio on a regular basis.

Michael

1/08/2014Over here http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/01/tony-abbott-doesnt-rule-out-expanding-income-management we find out that Abbott "doesn't rule out" creating a tier of roughly 10% of Australia's population living on the electronic equivalent of food stamps. 'Food stamps', incidentally, which will allow the Abbott gumnint to track every expenditure made, and thus every movement made, by 10% of the Australian population. That same 10% the Abbott gumnint daily reiterates is the lowest form of human life - the "leaner". Why would a gumnint want to know where its weakest and most exposed citizens are at any given moment? After all, if 'any job is the passage to self-respect', "work makes you free" is not too far away.

TalkTurkey

1/08/2014AARGHHH I done it again - yesterday - I wrote a lovely post and lost it at the death knock. I know, I know. Do it in Word first. But I don't know what I touch that makes it disappear. And no way of getting it back. Anyway I started by saying, Ad astra, your voracity in reading amazes me, not being a good reader myself (my attention always wanders - I am the original ADHD, no joke). But by comparing my thinking to your writings, I know I am not far off good sense. I hate trying to re-tell what I said previously. It never comes out right. Anyway then I got onto Kathy Jackson on Wednesday, saying she felt "ambushed" by the questioning at the TURC... Well after all she was not supposed to be the accused! So I told Pam Ayres' story about the young Pommie lad who goes to America and joins the Cavalry as a raw recruit... The troop is riding along in the desert, and the Sergeant decides to have some fun at the lad's expense. "I say Boy, mosey on over behind that there butte and pick us a mess o' bacon offa the Bacon Tree that grows there ..." Rookie unsuspecting rides off out of sight ... A few minutes later there's yelling and war whoops, and he reappears, bleeding, lucky to be alive, Indian arrows in his horse's bum ... Sergeant suddenly very concerned, "I say Boy, what happened?" Rookie gasps : "That weren't no Bacon Tree Sarge, that were a 'Am Bush!" [i]'Am[/i] Bush, get it? Like, HAM Bush? Ha ha. Pam tells it way better. This is all lousily written compared to what I wrote before, but at least I might get to post it. Anywa

Ad astra

2/08/2014TT I put ‘ambushed’ into Google. Among the responses were stories about Kathy Jackson! Her use of the word seems to have challenged the meaning of this commonly-used term! Surprise is an essential element of an ambush. Why was she surprised? Has she heard of the saying: “The biter bit”. She should try that in Google.

Bacchus

2/08/2014With indulgence from Ad and the team, I thought I'd let Swordsters know that we have opened a successor site to Michael Taylor's [i]Café Whispers[/i]. [i]Whispers' Cellar[/i] (http://whisperscellar.wordpress.com/) was launched on Monday - Florence nee Fedup and I will be administrators for the site. It is expected to be a little more light-hearted than [i]TPS[/i] or [i]AIMN[/i], so drop by for a chat or BYO your favourite beverage :) One of the aims of [i]Whispers' Cellar[/i] will be to promote other "like-minded" sites like [i]TPS[/i] and the [i]AIMN[/i] with a thread dedicated to this aim - http://whisperscellar.wordpress.com/around-the-blogs/ Like many blogs, we would like to find writers to contribute posts to the blog. If there are any Swordsters or lurkers here who would like to "dip their toes" into writing a piece - perhaps you don't feel your piece is what [i]TPS[/i] is looking for or is not up to the excellent standard of writers here - let us know via the 'Contact Us' tab on the site. You never know - your piece may be just what [i]TPS[/i] is looking for or the very talented team here may be able to assist you to knock your piece into shape for publication on [i]TPS[/i] rather than the Cellar.

Ad astra

2/08/2014Bacchus What an interesting move. Thank you for the references to TPS on 'Whispers' Cellar'. I wish the new site every success. Let's establish a symbiotic relationship between the two sites.

totaram

2/08/2014Ad Astra: with reference to public debt and private debt, I don't know if people here have been keeping up with articles at AIMN relating to economics, and in particular, the insights offered by Modern Monetary Theory (MMT). For a sovereign currency issuing nation with a floating currency, govt. surpluses actually lead to an aggregate deficit in the private sector, and govt. deficits lead to savings in the private sector, as long as foreign trade is balanced or in deficit. Further, the private sector debt is to banks who may raise interest rates when the refinance occurs etc. and there is a danger of default. Not so for the government debt (which need not equal the deficit by the way). There are a number of books which deal with this, the simplest and most down-to-earth being the one by the fund manager Warren Mosler entitled "The seven deadly innocent frauds of economic policy" On a totally different note, I think there should be a "progressive" equivalent of the IPA's list of policies which need to be adopted by any government. Unless such a list already exists, we could set up a separate page for it, somewhere and then add to the list as we go along. Each addition to the list would be proposed by someone, then debated and discussed by all and sundry, and finally added to the list. We could even give the list a nice name - something in honour of the fictional Madame Defarge perchance?

Catching up

2/08/2014Why is personal debt OK under this mob, but government debt a no no. Why is it OK to transfer government debt to the individual. Why is mot debt seen as investment in the nations' future. Why cannot a wealthy country afford to invest in infrastructure for the future. Do not mean roads.

Ad astra

2/08/2014totaram Thank you for your helpful comment. I've heard of MMT but I'm not familiar with its intricacies. I will follow up on Mosler's book. Catching up All good questions. If only we had Hockey's answers to them.

Ad astra

2/08/2014totoram I've downloaded Mosler's book from Amazon onto my Android tablet. It cost 98 cents! The introduction has really whet my appetite for a good read tomorrow. Thank you for the tip!

Michael

3/08/2014Following up on the 'reap what you sow' concept... I absolutely believe Tony Abbott when he says the IR policy known as WorkChoices is "dead, buried and cremated". However, it is clear that the political approach of this Abbott gumnint is underpinned and threaded through from seam to seam with the 'thinking' that crafted WorkChoices. WorkChoices, by name, is a 'dead' policy in one area of government. It is, however, the holistic core of Abbott and co governing Australia. Having been sown at the core of Abbott's gumnint, let's ensure that what is reaped is precisely the same fate as voters visited upon WorkChoices' and the government that introduced it. Oblivion. And this time ensure with triple-strength efficiency that said "oblivion" sees Abbott and co's malicious take on governing this nation... 'dead, buried and cremated'.

totaram

3/08/2014Catching up: the answers to your questions, which you already suspect you know in your gut, are given explicitly in the book, which at 98c is a steal! Unfortunately, the neo-liberals have spent decades and billions spreading obfuscation and lies in order to further the trickle-up agenda (publicly called trickle-down of course). Unfortunately, by now even the labor and green politicians have all swallowed the kool-aid. I don't expect we can undo all that within my lifetime (not much left unfortunately).

Ken

3/08/2014Michael Agree that it is the same thinking. Howard at least had the political nous not to push it until he got carried away when he gained control of the Senate. Imagine what we would have been going through now if Abbott also had absolute control of the Senate. The thought is terrifying. There is no doubt that he and Hockey et al are trying to reshape society in their own image. If some of their changes get through, they will not be easy to undo, at least in the short to medium term. Labor, and the Left and progressives in general, need to be shouting to the electorate that there is another way.

Catching up

3/08/2014http://youtu.be/Svo9wHctN0s
How many umbrellas are there if I start with two and take 2 away?