This is a post about loss, on one had we have the very sad news that Terry Pratchett has died after a very public fight with a form of dementia :
Mao is famously quoted as insisting that “all power comes from the barrel of a gun” and while that may hold true for a country in the throes of a revolution or subject to military conquest in an established democracy like our own all power comes form the most persuasive tongues and the dialogue those tongues foster within the part of the population who are politically active or engaged. For a very long time during my lifetime those persuasive tongues were controlled by the owners of the mass media who were able to disseminate their ideas and understandings to a receptive audience who could only respond and engage with the issues via a limited facility provided by media owners in the form of “letters to the editor” they heavily controlled the choice and publication of such feed back to maintain their monopoly of political discourse. This made owners, editors and Journalists both powerful and significant in our democracy. Political parties and aspirants to office openly courted the media and media owners and editors of both political inclinations have not hesitated to promote or deride the political players of their day especially when it came to promoting their own beliefs or vested interests. Thus we have a business focused player like Rupert Murdoch considering not only the players who will serve his political ideals but also his business interests. We should never forget that the reason that anyone publishes a news paper or owns a commercial television channel is to make a quid by selling advertising on or in it so it naturally follows that a media entity has to be responsive to its audience and to some extent reflect the needs desires and aspirations of that audience as well. Thus no matter what the ideology of a media owner may be (and I’m sure that some readers are imagining Rupert Murdoch as an evil manipulative puppet master right now) he or she also has to respect and reflect the audience who buy his product.
The media landscape changed with the rise of the internet and the invention of the blog. All of a sudden political discourse was not controlled by mega rich gate keepers who shaped the discourse through their cohorts of authorized writers and speakers (journalists) Suddenly ANYONE could write anything they pleased about the issues of the day and more importantly ANYONE could comment freely on what had been written. And comment people did with spirit and gusto. In the political blogs that were the pioneers of this brave new online world it was not uncommon to have comment threads that had many hundreds of postings as commentators had lively debates in real time as they tried to “find the plan” to explore an issue with great thoroughness. The problem is that most of these blogs have become very tribal indeed. A sort of mob rule mentality and tribalism has become the norm in most of the online spaces where politics are discussed. Thus if you visit any popular political site you will find that the commentators who have views consistent with the slant of the site tend to gang up on anyone with a dissenting voice who happens to raise their heads above the parapets and offer a contrary opinion. I’ve seen this happen on both left-wing and right-wing sites and it almost always devolves into personal attacks upon the person espousing a heterodox position along with the accusation that they are “trolling”.
My question is does it have to be this way forever? Surely the better way to go would be for those who have a passion for politics to do more than just seek the affirmation of those with a like minded. Democratic politics is first and foremost about the art of persuasion. If you want change you have to persuade those who disagree with that change that they are in error and that the changes you propose have real virtue. No one is ever going to be persuaded to change their opinion if they never even encounter a rationale for a contrary opinion or if they never have their own beliefs challenged which means that even the most spirited but “within the tribe” discussion is ever going to change a single mind. To make change within a democracy you have to change the minds and vote of those who give our political candidates their jobs.
What I advocating here is that those who want to see a better standard of political debate in this country learn to respect political difference and to embrace diversity in their interlocutors and further that everyone who wants a better Australia needs to try to breakdown the tribalism in the online spaces where we discuss the issues. At the very least you could learn more about why those you disagree with think the way that they do, and you may even find that you can persuade them to a position that is closer to the way you see things.
Of course if you are going to be at all convincing you will have to interact with your interlocutors sincerely and with a generosity in debate that many culture warriors (as so many long time blog commentators become) find difficult. You see snarky comebacks and put downs become quite addictive when you are arguing with someone in an online forum (I know because I have not always been a saint on that myself) but if you can resist that temptation you will discover a couple of things pretty quickly. Firstly your “political opposites” are often not that different to yourself and that you may well have more in common than your think you do. From common ground you can find a common purpose and from a common purpose you can find a way to try to reconcile the differences in your positions. Even if you can’t reconcile those differences you can at least learn to respect each other.
As I suggested with the tittle “So you say you want a revolution ” its very easy to want change if you don’t think about how that change is to happen and what is to be built in the place of that which you want to tear down. Well I want to see a revolution in political discourse where those on the right and those on the left are willing to engage in productive online debate that does not just degenerate in to acrimony and rancor. Hopefully in time we will see roughly equal numbers of players in the modern electronic sandpits but if we can’t have equal numbers any time soon can we at least have some respect for those of one political persuasion who go and play in the sand pits of the other-side? These brave souls bring that most rare and valued thing to these debates and that is what the Catholics used to call “an advocate for the devil”. You see once you have an advocate for the devil in your debates the depth to which you can explore the issues increases as a consequence. Of course those who just go into online comment threads for a bit of venting and affirmation from the like minded will probably hate having their blinkered thinking challenged, they will also hate having to justify many of the notions that they have previously taken for granted but the totality of the debate will have benefited. In the end we all want to change the world, we all want to see the plan, but you need to do more than carry pictures of Chairman Mao if you want to make it with anyone.
With a hat-tip to John and Paul
The mining tax has been abolished after a deal with the Palmer United party (PUP) in which the government delayed the abolition of the schoolkids bonus and other savings and deferred already-legislated increases to workers’ compulsory superannuation for seven years.
The prime minister was jubilant after the shock deal was revealed, claiming it rendered the Labor party irrelevant and proved the government – approaching the first anniversary of its election – was “getting on with the job.”
After secret negotiations with PUP, the government revealed a deal with the crossbench senators to finally abolish the mining tax – as it had so often promised – if it retained three programs until after the next election, instead of abolishing them straight away.
In changes that will cost the budget bottom line $6.5bn over the next four years but leave it no worse off in the long term, the government has agreed to keep the schoolkids bonus, the low income superannuation contribution and the income support bonus until 2016 or 2017.
But it will also freeze the amount employers are compelled to put into all workers superannuation accounts. It is currently legislated to increase to 10% in 2015-16 and then by 0.5% each year to reach 12% in 2019-20. After this deal goes through it will be frozen at 9.5% and won’t reach 10% until 2021, rising by 0.5% a year after that.
Well by my reckoning that is another victory for the Coalition government in their campaign to undo the follies of Labor, which means that we will no longer have a tax that costs more to administer than it collects which makes us a laughing stock to the world. Further the suspension of increases in superannuation will be greeted with great joy but those in our economy who provide the employment, it will mean that the cost of hiring someone will be less over time which should help business to employ more people. Personally as I have two children in school the continuation of the school kids bonus will come in handy but I very much doubt that it has ever been a game changer to parents in this age of voter cynicism. As Tony Abbott said yesterday in the Parliament this is not everything the government wanted but it will do.
What this means is that the government has actually achieved the three planks of its election campaign, the Carbon Tax has gone, the Mining Tax has gone and the Boats have been stopped, more importantly though this demonstrates that for all of his bluff and bluster in the media Palmer can be dealt with and the government can bring about the reforms that it was elected to do.
Brother Number One, the Gillard experiment, and the then the second coming of the former Dear Leader
MALCOLM FARR makes an interesting observation about the plethora of books being written by Labor has beans
That will bring to nine — by one calculation — the number of books from her and former colleagues on roughly the same subject.
Plus, there are books by former cross bench MPs Tony Windsor (House of Windsor) and Rob Oakeshott (The Independent Member for Lyne).
None will have the weight or influence of journalist Paul Kelly’s epic-sized Triumph and Demise which no doubt will become the definitive account of the period.
And there is one player missing from the potential complete set of Labor records, the big K-for-Kevin kahuna.
Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has given no indication he wants to write a book but so many people are commenting on him — and often critically — he might understandably feel he should write his own side of the story.
But that might be some time off. Like former Foreign Minister Gareth Evans who this week — 15 years after he left Parliament – will launch his diary from the Hawke/Keating days, Mr Rudd might wait a while longer.
Others, however, seem to have started dictating their first chapters on Sunday September 8, 2013 … hours after the election.
The nine books by Labor figures, from 2012 to the present are:
• My Story, by Julia Gillard;
• The Good Fight, Wayne Swan;
• Power with Purpose, Lindsay Tanner (2012);
• Hearts and Minds, Chris Bowen;
• Diary of a Foreign Minister, Bob Carr;
• The Fights of My Life, Greg Combet;
• A Letter to Generation Next, Kim Carr;
• Tales from the Political Trenches, Maxine McKew (updated 2013);
• Glory Daze, Jim Chalmers (former Swan adviser now an MP)
I can’t help but think that at this rate there will be as many books about this ill-fated period of Labor government as the number of bills that Gillard apologists claimed were passed during her time in the big chair. I can tell you one thing though and it is that even when they are to be found on the bookshop remainder table there will be none of them coming home with me to Chez Hall after all as someone who followed the sad and sorry tale Brother Number One, the Gillard experiment, and the then the second coming of the former Dear Leader in real time as it unfolded I don’t fell at all inclined to waste my limited reading time pouring over the entrails of a government that promised so much but ended up delivering so little of value and consequence.
Labor’s NBN is damned by the latest review:
“By contrast, with NBN Mark I, the public policy process for developing NBN Mark II was rushed, chaotic and inadequate,” it says.
The plan got just 11 weeks’ consideration and “there is no evidence that a full range of options was seriously considered”.
“There was no business case or any cost-benefit analysis, or independent studies of the policy undertaken, with no clear operating instructions provided to this completely new government business enterprise, within a legislative and regulatory framework still undefined, and without any consultation with the wider community,” the report says.
In other findings, the audit says full cabinet did not consider the policy until very early on the April 2009 morning it was announced, and its role was to “rubber-stamp” a decision by the strategic priorities and budget committee of cabinet.
It also revealed that public servants had “difficulty” in having their “voice” heard on many of the most important policy matters related to Labor’s NBN policy, often finding their advice was ignored or that they were excluded from contributing.
Ah How I remember the many minions of the left were singing the praises of the NBN MK2, the problem for them was/is that what they were really praising was the idea and the dream of super-fast internet even though the reality had turned into a nightmare of confusion and delay that would vex any engine.
I’ve been watching the minions of the left have conniptions about the proposed changes to the way that Job seekers are expected to show their willingness to find work. On one hand you have the Government suggesting that the Unemployed should be willing to make 40 job applications a month and on the other side you have people insisting that its too much to ask.
I sort of think that both sides are right and wrong here.
Its very clear that in some parts of the country there simply are not enough jobs for the people who need them. and no amount of badgering the unemployed to make more of an effort is going to make thee needed jobs magically appear. Frankly the mad drive to import every more people is not helping either because every new arrival is going to be competing for that scarce commodity,namely a job. Further the march of the technology that is so beloved by our Latte sipping friends is only going to make things worse. Take the example of your local supermarket. Have you noticed they all now have the self serve checkouts? well do you realize that those self serve checkouts only have one person watching say six units in use and to help customers make their purchases? That represents the loss of five jobs right there. Now while working in retail may not be that glamorous it is an honorable profession that has sustained many workers, (mainly women) in the quest to provide for their own and the sustenance of their families. This sort of automation is happening in every aspect of our society. Its in the your library, its in your bank its every where and the trend is accelerating. The trend simply means that no matter how many more people we have the machine of our economy needs fewer people to run it. Likewise I draw the attention to those cute little robot vacuum cleaners that are endlessly advertised on TV and ask you to consider how long will it be the case business will be using them to replace cleaners in their offices?
On the other side of the ledger the obligation to make 40 approaches for those ever decreasing job opportunities will probably not be that hard to meet if a Job seeker digitizes a generic application letter and their resume that they send out to any business or potential job source entity. It does not even need to be customized for each instance that it is sent. Now I’m guessing (because I’m not personally playing this game) this on top of checking any jobs that are actually advertised would meet the obligation. How long till someone develops an app to do precisely that? However having made the obligation more onerous and punitive it hardly going to make the lives of the unemployed any easier. Worse yet it will turn every job seeker into something of a Spam merchant and if my friends in small business don’t just mark all of the extra job applications as “spiced ham” I would be very surprised indeed.
The other aspect in play is the old “work for the dole” which I have some serious reservations about. Mainly those reservations concern the amount of time that individuals will be obliged to work each week and the effective hourly rate that they will be working for. Its just manifestly unfair that any work people are obliged to do should be anything less than the going rate for such work. On top of that just what work are these people going to be asked to do and who is going to manage organize and supervise such work? Further I have concerns about the possibility that participants may be subject to bullying by those who run any “work for the dole” schemes. Finally there is the issue of cost, these schemes will cost more to run than any potential savings in the welfare budget so will it really be about the savings?
In conclusion though we can’t escape the fact that all of these proposals will require legislation to be made to happen and I just can’t see the current Senate passing many of these proposals which means that when the rubber hits the road what we will see will be somewhat diluted from what is currently being discussed. Sadly what neither it nor any alternative from Labor is going to address the clear structural issues that the march of technology is going to pose for humanity without that in the mix neither side of politics and certainly not the ordinary people are going to be winners. The Politics of this are pretty obvious though The Government is playing to its most hardline economic neoCon demographic who believe that welfare is just a waste of taxpayer’s money and that the poor or unemployed are just an inconvenience and generally a cohort of bludgers. The simple truth that conservatives like me recognize is that our welfare system is a necessary bulwark that ensures that we have a truly civil society and not one where the underclass is driven to a life of intrusive criminality to sustain the necessities of life Maintaining that bulwark at a cost that our economy can afford is the trick of it and on this score both sides of our politics play the “cruel to be kind” game (remember Gillard’s treatment of single parents?) Taking the longer view I am going to reserve my judgement on this whole thing until I see just how it comes out in the wash.
by SockPuppet ~ an Australian
This is a bloody national disgrace.
Next year is the 100th anniversary of Anzac Day, that day in April 1915 when thousands of underage Aussies (and Kiwis but who counts them?) were sacrificed by the Brits on some godforsaken Middle eastern outpost peninsula of bloody Turkey known as Gallipoli – nowknown as Anzac Cove and a tourist destination and camping resort for Gen Y.
But as Anzac Day falls on a Saturday next year guess what?
The citizens of NSW (and every other State except one!) will be short one public holiday next year: Anzac Day.
Both Anzac Day and Boxing Day fall on a Saturday but only one will be marked by an additional day off.
Unlike other holidays, no additional day is granted for the national day of remembrance in NSW under the Public Holidays Act.
Other states will face a similar issue: only West Australians will get a public holiday on Monday, April 27.
What is going on here?
If we cant get a holiday for the 100th anniversary of Anzac Day what else will be taken away?
Whats next, move the Melbourne Cup to a Saturday and take away that national day of celebrating horses too?
No holiday for Australia Day if that falls on the weekend too? What will the abos have to protest about?
Why not go the whole hog and have no public holiday for Christmas Day if that falls on a Saturday or Sunday too? Who needs one? Go to work!
And Easter: Yeah lets cancel Good Friday & Easter Monday because no one goes to bloody church and besides the Muslims have already taken over (just ask GD).
This is the slippery slope – the taking away of our days off .. but it doesnt end there!
Collingwood & Essendon will have to play there heroic Anzac Day battle on a Saturday and compete with all the other games on that day too. They will lose $millions.
And what will Gen Y do? They cant go to Turkey on the weekend because that is ‘hooking up’ time wasted.
Of course we could all move to Perth, the only State that recognises Anzac Day and gives us a day off.
But where the f*ck is Perth?
And what is there to do there?
Dont think this is a oneoff either folks – in 2016 Anzac Day falls on a Sunday so same deal, no public holiday!
I blame Tony Abbott.
We need an election.
Dead, deceased, it is no more, it has shuffled off its mortal coil, the Carbon tax has fucking snuffed it, or death of a vile impost on our lives.
The tragedy of the Carbon tax/ETS is not in its passing but that it ever existed in the first place because it was always based on a false premise, namely that it was ever going to make the slightest bit of difference to the global climate and so many leaders, on both sides of politics have been destroyed by it. It took out Rudd, Turnbull and Gillard in turn and it also played its part in taking out the resurrected Rudd as well. There has been more bullshit produced to promote the various incarnations of this toxic scheme than our national herd. And for what? All that it ever gave us was a wildly expensive token gesture and a rather nasty piece of socialist wealth redistribution which in layman’s language means it was a totally useless money churn.
Even if you believe the AGW proposition there is no reason to believe in the often chanted mantra that the best way to address it is through a “market mechanism” because there is absolutely no reason to believe that such a mechanism can ever produce the desired outcome without some nasty unforeseen consequences, of which the massive spike in energy costs is a rather good example, and before anyone says “its the gold plating of the poles and wires” that caused the majority of those price rises I’m going to say that the “gold plating” is just another example of the same thinking that the poor long suffering consumers are an eternal milch cow that can be taken for granted by planers and ideologues just as they take for granted the idea that costs for essential commodities can rise endlessly and no one will suffer or object.
Suffer and object we have and now the vile impost on every aspect of our lives has be dispatched to the dustbin of history and any claims that it will bring down Abbott in its passing are utterly ridiculous. The trend in technology now is very much focused on energy being used as efficiently as possible and for that I do think that, to some extent, we can thank the panic merchants of the Green Religion but just as we can take from the Christian religion useful notions of community and what makes a good society without taking on the supernatural Mumbo Jumbo of that faith. So to we can take the good things that have come from the Green religion, like seeing our planet and its biosphere as a whole and complexly interconnected entity of which we are just a small part, but we can let go of its millenarian prognostications and dire predictions of doom because no matter what life and the earth itself is far more resilient and adaptive than the doom merchants of the Green religion are willing to admit