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Nepalese elections & aftermath

Staying in Nepal I am witnessing first-hand the consequences of a Hobbesian breakdown in a national political consensus. To quickly recall history: A bloody Maoist led insurgency ended in Nepal in 2006 and in 2008 elections were held which the insurgents participated in. The resulting government was disfunctional and was unable to put together a [...]

Margaret Thatcher RIP

Mrs. Thatcher changed Britain and changed the world. She put an end to unbounded faith in ever-expanding government and to the unwarranted role of trade unionism. She had an unflinching commitment to freedom and to free markets. She was a trained chemist who accepted the need for strong environmental policies and for the need for [...]

Are the Republicans Beyond Saving?

This keenly written essay by Elizabeth Drew from the New York Review of Books is worth a read. For democracy to function well in any nation there must be at least two viable political parties who can reach compromises on certain issues and achieve effective government. The Republican Party is now marginalised and operates in [...]

A winner-takes-all-society will fail

Joe Stiglitz makes the sensible point that the “1%” society America has become cannot be sustainably successful. The prosperity of the 1% depends on the prosperity of the 99%. Gross inequality is also economically inefficient and distorts a country’s politics.

Quote “It’s no use pretending that what has obviously happened has not in fact happened. [...]

Tasering abuse

I am stunned by this taser assault on a harmless aboriginal man by 4 psychpathic cops while 5 others stood around and watched. Those watching included police supervisors. Two of the barbarians who committed this crimes were given minor fines while the rest apparently received no penalty. The lot should have been sacked and given [...]

Rudd is finished & good riddance I think

The inept Kevin Rudd has no future as Prime Minister of Australia – he will be displaced and fairly soon. He is an arch hypocrite and wind-bag who has been revealled as such on countless occasions and who is now trying to demonstrate that he has backbone by backing a ludicrous tax on the resources [...]

The American right – conservatism &/or fanaticism?

I have been following the increasingly strident claims of the American conservative movement primarily through my interest in climate change denialism, a component of their agenda. More important parts of this agenda focus on the Obama health plan, on the bailouts to various groups in the economy as a consequence of the GFC and to [...]

John Della Bosca

I have zero affection (or respect) for the Labor Party in NSW but, for the life of me, I cannot understand the hysterical puritanism that has driven the resignation of John Della Bosca from its state government ministry. Nor do I understand the more recent sentiments suggesting he might be ‘rehabilitated’ and reinstated into the [...]

Attacking Turnbull

The pursuit of Malcolm Turnbull should now cease. It is clear that Godwin Grech – a formerly respected public servant who ran the OzCar policy for Labor – provided a false email to Turnbull that was the basis of Turnbull’s attack on Swan and Rudd and which therefore distorted this attack. The Labor Party is [...]

NSW, a basketcase?

Well almost certainly not but this report is disturbing. For a decade NSW has been declining relative to the rest of Australia. The poorly-performing Labor Governments of Bob Carr, Morris Iemma and now Nathan Rees have been a factor in this decline. (444)

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Good poll news for Coalition

The Herald /Neilson poll shows promising news for the Coalition.

The Coalition is – as it should be – making significant inroads against Rudd and Labor. A 5% swing to The Coalition since March and back to the narrow margin of the 2007 poll. Labor leads the Coalition by 53% to 47%, down from the [...]

Budget 2009 – response by Turnbull

Malcolm Turnbull’s budget response was very political. The main practical point was to emphasise retaining the health insurance subsidy and substitute a 3 cent extra tax per cigarette to raise the same income. This is probably sensible in my view but small potatoes. Otherwise the attack was primarily on the size of the $57 billion [...]

Rudd on climate change

Kevin Rudd has further delayed the start of the emissions trading scheme to 2011 (after the next election), reduced the initial price of carbon to be charged from $20 per tonne to $10 per tonne (that is now about equivalent to a massive 2.4 cent per litre charge on unleaded petrol) and increased assistance to [...]

Thailand & arguments for being a constitutional democrat

I am deeply saddened by the disasterous turn of events in Thailand. Ex Prime Minister Thaksin may have been corrupt or ineffective – I do not make any judgement – but the way to get rid of him (and his successor Mr Somchai) if this was sought was via the ballot box not by forcing [...]

Mr. Magoo on nation-building for $43b

$43b is a lot for a high speed broadband internet service. That is so even if half of that is raised as debt with the residual being equity, half from the public purse. The financing approach used does not reduce this project’s cost – it is about $2000 for each [...]

Turnbull opposes Labor $42 billion package

I am sympathetic to Malcolm Turnbull’s rejection of the Rudd stimulus package and to his proposed more modest alternative of bringing tax cuts forward. I think the recession does have a long way to go and that disposing of all available fiscal ammunition immediately is unwise – a conservative package of something less than half [...]

Barack Obama’s presidential acceptance speech

Gracious and serious this is a speech worth listening to. There is much sense amid the rhetoric and Obama is – as everyone now knows – a talented man of enormous charisma. But as I stressed a few days ago the difficulties facing the US and hence Obama are immense*. The positive changes will [...]

Optimism & the Obama Presidency

Barack Obama will become the 44th President of the United States tomorrow.  Despite the exceedingly tough economic times Americans overwhelmingly see Obama as something positive for America. ‘a New York Times poll found 79% think Barack Obama will improve the nation – a level of support that is higher than for any incoming president in [...]

Thailand

The middle class radicals who have forced the end to democratically-elected governments* in Thailand have not done Thailand any long-term favours.  Recent events in fact constitute a middle-class coup that has driven a popularly elected government from office.  That is true even if the government was not entirely saintly.

When I lived in Thailand 20 years ago [...]

Obama to be president

I forecast that Barack Obama would be the next US President when it was unpopular to do so.  Of course given the polls I am happy to retain this forecast as evidence of my luck or prowess now. I think Obama is something of a populist visionary/demagogue, has loose ideas on tax and tariffs and defeatist attitudes [...]