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Global gloom from excessive austerity

Lenny Bruce once said ‘The only thing that people learn from history is that no one ever learns from history’. It is a nice quip although characteristically exaggerated. But the politicians of the world seem determined to demonstrate its accuracy in relation to the current economic crisis – yes, it is a crisis. The Great […]

Bad call on Andrew Bolt

I am no fan of Andrew Bolt’s politics – to put it mildly – but today’s court decision ruling that he acted illegally in criticising ‘white aborigines’ signifies a loss of individual rights by all Australians. His claim as I understand it was that pale-skinned aborigines used their aboriginal heritage to promote their social and […]

AFL & NRL move to retain problem gambling revenues

I don’t have a lot of time for Australia’s moronic obsession with football. I am a badge-carrying member of the Anti Football League who does watch a couple of games each year (with pleasure) but I think the preoccupation with these games suggests something fundamentally rotten with our culture.

I guess its a harmless […]

Northern food bowl myths

When the Coalition announced this week their proposal to double food production in northern Australia by means of a set of dams my mind wandered to thoughts of the great Bruce Davidson and his monumental study, The Northern Myth, that was written more than 40 years ago. I read it in my final years at […]

Maximising happiness in Bhutan

In Bhutan, as Peter Singer points out, maximising happiness is not just an empty slogan – it is a serious objective. There are conceptual issues of course – whether you aggregate net sensory pleasures or life achievements – but the somewhat vague idea is being increasingly well articulated and pursued by public policies.

5 things to like about Julia Gillard

Its fashionable to dismiss Julia Gillard’s Government as a failure – the opinion polls provide some (largely uninformed) backing for this view but I am more sympathetic than most to her. Gillard is an intelligent woman and that is a positive in the face of widespread misogyny in at least the Australian male electorate. She […]

Corpse Walker walks

I found Liao Yiwu’s “The Corpse Walker” to be one of the most fascinating books I have recently read on China. Yiwu chronicles the lives of China’s underclass – people traffickers, rightists during the Cultural Revolution, those who ‘walked’ corpses through China’s countryside. There are also real life stories of monks and other groups who […]

Richard Pratt’s Mistresses

I have never liked the idea of prostitution much although I concede that the ‘associative mating’ that we is observed in marriage is a longer-term contract that can amount to much the same thing. Apparently industrialist Richard Pratt had the money and indulged himself. Pratt’s ‘escort’, Ms Madison Ashton, is on the front front page […]

Old growth forest in Victoria nearly gone

About 99% of Victoria’s wet eucalytus old growth forest has been destroyed by logging and forest fire in what amounts to an ecological catastrophe. By-in-large the 450 year old forests have been irreversibly replaced by scrubby wattles.

It is not green fanaticism to suggest that harvesting of such forests should now cease entirely with […]

Low global interest rates

Stephen King – the non-Australian SK – writes that low interest rates suggest longer- term insolvencies in ‘developed’ economies. They do not provide the basis for fiscal borrowings but arise because of a flight from any assets which can depreciate.

Men & kids on planes

I heard reference on the TV news tonight that Qantas has introduced a policy of not seating men next to unaccompanied kids on its plane services. My understanding is that this policy has been around for many years so I am unsure why the issue has risen again now.

I think it is a discriminatory […]

Porker executives slurp at the trough

I meant to comment on the updated ACSI report on chief executive salaries for the top 100 ASX companies in Australia, It was released a few days ago. Over the ten year period to 2010:

Executives increased their annual salaries 131% to $4.322m. The median executive bonus increased 190%. The ASX increased in value 30.1%. […]

Getting email organised

I am a sucker for ‘getting organised ‘ schemes – lists, sub-lists prioritising tasks etc. etc. In the main I employ these schemes for about a week until I tire of them. Email is a particular curse – I am on leave at present but yesterday received over 50 emails from my employer, many requiring […]

High Court damages Australian democracy

Greg Sheridan is correct. Immigration policy decision-making is most appropriately the province of elected politicians not unelected judges who seek to impose their values on the community. Their actions have damaged Australian democracy.

One way of ridding ourselves of this unwarranted intrusion is to abandon the UN Convention on the Status of Refugees which reduces […]

Australian Carbon Pricing

I attended the meeting “Australia’s Carbon Price: Good Policy or Not?” at the Crawford School, the Australian National University, yesterday. Despite some valuable papers it was a somewhat disappointing meeting for me as I was really interested in assessing the form of the current carbon tax proposal while the discussion seemed to sometimes get sidetracked […]

Bank robbery

Over the past 5 years US bankers have been paid $2.2 trillion. That’s roughly twice Australia’s GDP. It is an astounding amount that was not invested in productive assets but spent on fairly useless business executives who drove their firms – and the world economy – to the point of collapse.

This makes the rewards […]

Queue jumpers given all clear

The decision by an unelected group of High Court judges to reject the hapless Gillard Government’s policy to limit illegal entry to Australia probably accords with the law but is a disgrace. These so-called asylum seekers are economic migrants who choose Australia rather than neighboring countries to reside in for economic reasons. They queue jump […]