Saturday, December 26, 2009

Understand Climate Change - a radical concept

Now I am no climate scientist - sometimes I struggle with differential and integral calculus :-) but I do think our people need to at least try to understand what is happening around the climate problem. If only to be able to understand and assess the risks that their families are increasingly being exposed to.

A side benefit of this knowledge will be the ability to judge which of the various political parties are doing anything to manage these risks for their constituents.

And when voters (a) understand the risks and (b) work out which politicians are doing something about them - they will surely need to take account of that when next they vote.

There are many places where you can find reliable information but a good starting point is wikipedia.

This image from wikipedia shows the instrumental record of global average temperatures as compiled by the NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

Even blind freddy can work out that something has been going on - and the climate scientists call it "Global Warming".

This image from wikipedia shows eight climate model predictions for global warming under the A2 scenario relative to global average temperatures in 2000.

Even the most innumerate amongst us should recognise a problem here.

And finally, this image shows the impact on Australia as assessed by the Garnaut review. Click the image to read.

So what about this is hard to understand?

It's not like Bernie Madoff is producing the data.

And finally a smallish question to ponder.

"Why do you think it is that your local newspaper, your local commercial radio stations and television channels and other so-called mainstream media have not been informing you about these things"?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

High Risk Strategy

The events of yesterday indicate that any politician who is running around denying *climate change* will need to be very careful about understanding and managing the risks of their approach.

If you can see these early effects of *climate change* being serious enough that people actually get hurt and lose property - then you will be wanting to make sure that your political brand is not too closely associated with *denial*.

Otherwise you run the risk of being branded a total *numbnut*. A political party that is in *denial* will very quickly alienate the people that it purports to be looking after.

But I guess the Australian political parties that are in denial are not too interested in looking as though they have a credible position - just yet. Unlike the Chinese and the Indians - where almost no-one is in denial.

I have always thought that the Liberals, the Nationals and the Family First political movements were lightweight with respect to the climate change issue that they would end up looking like "wind vanes" and having to dodge and weave around this issue. Malcolm had the right idea but the *numbnuts* made it clear in early December that they wanted none of that.

It looks increasingly like they will need to quickly develop credible policy - just to save themselves from being branded *irrelevant* - by their own constituents. The very people who are now seriously at risk from these early adverse effects of climate change.

They could start by reading the Garnaut Report - which clearly outlines the risks of inaction and details some of what needs to be done to insulate Australian's from the worst effects.

But like the Republicans in the United States - the local conservatives and their cheer squad in the Murdoch press are looking into the wrong mirror. They think that anything done by our government is bad - and their denial alternatives are just great. I suspect their intellectual processes need a little bit of a cut and polish.

The problem is that their constituents are going to become very unhappy about risking their life, limb and property for a *numbnut* fantasy.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Climate science & bushfires - clearly no relationship

Today there was a serious bushfire event - obviously unrelated to climate change.

When I wrote this article - I was sitting in a cafe in Port Lincoln after having had a robust conversation with some of the folks that I mentioned in the article. They shall remain nameless to protect the innocent - and me.

"No - climate change is not apparent to us they said - and if it were then we would know about it and be onto it".

"Absolutely not - they said. Climate change is a beat-up by the Rudd government all designed to impose a massive new tax on us poor unsuspecting country folk - they said".

"Look - they said - all we want is to be able to get on with our lives and run our businesses without any interference from Canberra - they said".

"We farmers create the real wealth in this nation - and all the Rudd government wants to do is tax us to death - and they invent things like climate change and emission trading schemes to try to justify what they are doing. But we can see through that - they said".

I wonder if they will be expressing similar views when they front up for the relief money that they will be expecting from the "Federal Government".

And you lot wonder why I am such a cynic.

Ian Harper has nailed it

For the third time in as many months I have listened to this speech by Ian Harper on the economic history of Australia.

I needed to hear it three times to absorb all the detail and to pick up on all the nuanced content. This is a fantastic speech - clear, simple and well argued - even if I am a little slow in absorbing it. It should be compulsory listening for all Australian's - but particularly for those who are thinking about leaving school early.

His message is simple. As a nation, we can't rely into the future on the three great industries that have sustained us in the past - we must develop our intellectual capabilities and educate our future workers to do business in the "information economy".

The three great industries are of course - grazing, mining and agriculture. These have formed the basis for our national wealth and well being - and have done so since first settlement - because of the natural advantage that they enjoy in our part of the world.

We are blessed with good weather and abundant sunshine which has favoured grazing and agriculture and we are lucky enough to have enormous mineral wealth which has facilitated the establishment of a world class mining industry.

The problem is that none of these industries employ great numbers of people.

The main theme of Ian Harper's message is that like many nations we need to build and develop an economy that provides jobs for our people. And those jobs won't be in the three great industries - they will be in the services sector and the information economy.

To prosper in this "brave new world" we need workers who are educated and able to take advantage of the opportunities on offer. We need to apply "brain power" instead of "muscle power". We need "thinkers" and "doers". And we need to value them.

It's a great message and in my view it is absolutely correct. But there are enormous barriers to implementation - firstly, we must convince our people that they need a quality education and secondly we must make it easier for them to acquire one.

And the cynic in me says that both tasks are way too difficult. But perhaps that will change as the low skilled jobs disappear or at least as their pay rates continue to reduce. And with the neglect of the previous 30 years it will take a generation to rebuild our education infrastructure and systems.

All providing we get a move on and start doing something NOW. The real question is "Are the State Government's" listening.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Dumb and Dumber

It might be Christmas but all I have heard for the past few days is how Kevin is all at sea because the Copenhagen conference was apparently a failure.

Not that anyone actually making those comments knows dip sh*t about climate politics or how the world works - its just that they read the Murdoch press, watch the farce that is commercial television and form opinions based on a *numbnut* view of the world that is pushed by the extreme right wing view ports.

This is a sad and sorry situation. It seems that our entire population can't work out for themselves that they are being fed BS. And so they parrot the last thing that they heard or read or observed - from our media.

If there was one thing that I would change about our nation it is the rubbish media. Aside from the fact that it has adopted a blatant right wing agenda that masquerades as news and information - It is simply a poor informer and entertainer.

I try to ignore it but many Australian's live for the crap that appears on commercial television after 9pm. What is that about?

Mostly it's because they don't understand why or how they are being manipulated.

And the reality is that it all boils down to the fact that our State Governments have neglected their various education systems for 30+ years.

if the state based education system worked as advertised then our people would have mostly progressed beyond year 10 and be able to understand what is going on around them. They would be able to question the rubbish that is pushed at them and be curious about the world - they would have the capacity to do things other than point a remote control at the idiot box.

But that is a conversation that we should have had 30+ years ago - sorry but it's now far too late to fix the problem.

Friday, December 18, 2009

They ask the hard questions down in Adelaide

I sometimes go on about the quality of the media in Adelaide and how the local journalists are usually under Media Mike's thumb.

Well Crikey has nailed it with this expose on what really happened at the old Mitsubishi site - I hope they won't mind me re-posting it here.

Read it and weep South Australian's - and then you might like to ask Mr Foley and Mr Rann to "please explain".

"You've got to hand it to Adelaide's political media (well not really, because that's how the state government runs them) with their coverage of Wednesday's sale of Mitsubishi's old assembly plant at Tonsley Park. According to the media release from state Treasurer Kevin Foley, the state has bought the site for $32 million and will turn it into a hi-tech dreamland for businesses that don't exist yet. This will create thousands of jobs, apparently.

But here's the truth; Mitsubishi was required as land owner to remediate the site and was also required under federal law to provide and store 10 years of spare parts for the cars they built there. Part of the state government purchase deal is free rent at the site for Mitsubishi's corporate headquarters and free rent for the storage of spare parts. Because they are still on the site (now as a lessee) and it is still zoned industrial, there are no clean-up costs.

The value of this bonus to Mitsubishi is $20 million. That value was not included in the purchase price announced by the Treasurer on Wednesday. If a company tried to hide such arrangements when declaring sale prices of commercial property, it would be prosecuted for evading stamp duty. So, why the secrecy? Why does Mitsubishi, who sacked several thousand workers a couple of years ago, get such a great deal from the state?

Wheels within wheels, my friends. And how is it that at a press conference to discuss this deal not one Adelaide journo asked about the value of the free rent and storage deal? Because all you have to do is *hand it to them*".

Conroy's Folly

There is a huge amount of noise being generated by Conroy's Folly - which is of course the communications minister's misguided attempt to impose an internet filter on us all.

And those who apparently know about these things are talking about how politically it will be a win for the government amongst the over 50's (or those who don't use the internet) with a loss amongst the under 35's (or those who use it extensively). The net effect is supposed to be zero or so close that it doesn't matter.

But I don't know about that. I am well over 50 and so are a number of my friends and we all think Senator Conroy's plan stinks. In fact some of my friends are so annoyed that they have been moved to write to the good Senator expressing their concern. This issue is BIG for them.

A typical missive from my friend Peter is reproduced below.

Dear Senator Conroy

I am writing to express my alarm at your proposed internet censorship legislation.

Firstly, I am outraged that you consider it a political entity's prerogative to interfere with and constrain the great public property that is the Internet. This is the People's Internet Senator, not your political play thing.

It appears very clear to me that your motivations are based on political ambition and expediencies and have much more to do with back-room deal making than with a reflection of the majority will of the Australian People.

In fact, there seems to be very little popular support for your project and almost none at all from informed sources who are qualified to comment on its practicality and likelihood of success. That you have refused to engage in a meaningful debate on these types of topics further supports the view that you are determined to carry this initiative forward in the face of popular opposition and sensible, practical objections.

Beyond issues of principle, I am very concerned about the harm you may actually do. Qualified, independent technical commentators are generally sceptical about the possibility of creating an effective filter of the type you propose.

Whatever you do implement will undoubtedly result in a reduction in Australia's general network performance and user quality of experience, adding to the disadvantages we already experience with high bandwidth costs and poor overseas connectivity speeds.

The impost on ISPs will inevitably drive our already high service costs up. Innocent content will inevitably get caught up in the filtering. Senator, you really should consult with some experts on these issues, and not just those on your payroll or belonging to the religious right.

Of perhaps greatest alarm is your blacklist idea. I find this extremely disconcerting and sinister. How can you imagine that such a list can be maintained with guarantees that legal content will not be caught up? How can victims of this process seek redress if the list itself is censored? Why should a citizen of this country face the prospect of losing their basic right to do business on the People's Internet without any visibility of how and why?

In conclusion Senator, and to be quite blunt, your "trial" really fooled nobody. It is widely seen for what it is; a foil that attempts to make your stubborn and determined march forward with this ill-advised legislation appear considered, consultative and fair-minded.

We're just not buying it.



So there you have it. Will it and the hundreds of others expressing similar concern make a difference? Probably not but what it will do is cause all of us old techies to reconsider our support for this minister at the next election.

PS: Conroy is a Labor Senator from Victoria - and a right wing catholic - and the only chance we will get to move him on at the next election is if we end up with a Double Dissolution - when the whole Senate gets to open their kimono.

PPS: Actually I think he is up for re-election in 2010 anyway - if I can count correctly. And if he gets the gig again then he will be back for six more years of Senate bliss. And he even looks a little like that other Victorian right wing Senator - Steve Fielding. Maybe they are related?

Former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating, once famously described Australia’s Senate as "unrepresentative swill". I will leave it up to you dear reader to work out if that is true.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Fraud and Flatulence

Just watched the Tony Jones, Ian Plimer and George Monbiot jousting match - here.

And the amazing thing is that one of them has built an academic career based on fraud and flatulence.

I will let you work out which one.

Not that it matters much - it's all somewhat academic because ordinary Australian's will have turned off after about 30 seconds and won't have seen the full extent of this very flatulent performance. Only the hard core who are interested in climate change and politics will have bothered to watch it through to it's conclusion.

I am still shaking my head - quite amazing stuff from Plimer.

What do you think would cause an ageing - over the hill professor of mining geology to go into bat for the anti climate change *numbnuts*? Let me guess.

* Could it be for the book royalties?

* Does he need a higher profile with the dipsticks?

* Possibly for the directorships handed out by the mining industry?

* Is it about fame or fortune?

* Possibly he wants to be friends with Barney Rubble?

* Maybe he is just thick?

* Or perhaps just a stirrer?

My guess is that he is just another doddery and delusional right wing *numbnut* with time on his hands - and with an ego that needs massaging. The University of Adelaide should be looking to increase his workload to keep him out of any more trouble.

PS: I should point you here - where the folks who know the real questions and answers to climate science have comprehensively demolished Professor Plimer's story. Would be hilarious if it wasn't so serious.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Ignorance is bliss

As I travel throughout this country I am continually amazed by the incredible ignorance that is on display around the *climate change* problem.

Particularly in rural and regional Australia we find a collection of politicians, local functionaries, small business people and so-called community leaders who have more in common with Barney Rubble than with a modern and educated community. How did we ever get to this point? Ignorance seems to be the new black - and apparently they are proud of it?

I am now more convinced than ever that we won't be able to do anything about this problem before we experience serious and major disaster. Even then I am not sure it will be enough to wake up a population that is living in dreamland.

The nub of the problem is that a large subset of our population doesn’t have the education or the curiosity to discover for themselves what the issue is about. Many of them are flip-flopping around between alternative *numbnut* views - simply because they have no ability to "search for the truth". Don't mention science - that is as foreign a concept as travelling to mars.

Mostly these folk rely on their local newspaper, radio, commercial television or the test pattern for their news and information. Not to mention lapping up the disinformation campaign that is being pushed heavily by the ultra right wing conservatives and their fellow travelers’.

It's easy to see how they are misled - all you have to do is spend an hour or two looking at the Murdoch press, commercial television and the antics of the federal opposition.

And it's easy to understand why they are being misled - it's simply politics with the *numbnuts* trying to regain the treasury benches - after all they were "born to rule".

And as we all know Australian's are as well informed about politics as they are about science.

So we know why and how they are being misled - what I don't understand is why they won't make the effort to search out the truth - because there is plenty of information and many sources that are reliable and trustworthy.

My suspicion is that they don't care. And they won't care until they experience a personal physical impact - by which time it will be far too late. Frogs and boiling water - how apt.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Jobs and Skills - again

It has recently been suggested that some people may not appreciate what I am on about when I suggest that the bulk of the hype about "Skills Shortages" is mostly BS.

I don't mean to suggest that there are no "perceived" shortages of skills in the workplace - clearly there are.

The small businessperson who wants to find a particular skillset and has expectations about what the person will look like, what their cultural background is, what they will cost and all the other pieces of the equation - may indeed find it difficult to find the *right* person.

This is because there is often a serious mismatch between the expectations of the *employer* and those of the potential *employee*.

Especially in the domain of the traditional "small business person". Now I don't want to be rude to anyone but my personal experience with Australian small business is rather sad.

Mostly the jobs they provide are fairly basic and are often low-level. These jobs are focussed around the retail, services, agriculture and manufacturing industries.

One of the unfortunate characteristics of small business in this country is that there are few modern businesses employing many people and there is a lot of rearview focus by employers. Unfortunately, innovative science and technology businesses are few and far between - courtesy of decades of a "she'll be right mate" - attitude.

Which doesn't bode well for the future - because we will need to maximise science as we mitigate against the effects of *climate change*.

And the rewards are always poor - I have yet to find an employee of an Australian small business who is happy with their reward - and an employer who is happy with their costs. Why would anyone imagine that AU$20 bucks an hour is a reasonable reward for effort?

But to suggest (as some people do) that there is a major skills shortage is just plain wrong. What exists is a mismatch of expectations.

Often a small business employer wants a young, flexible, experienced, cheap and compliant employee. And usually the available candidates are older, less flexible, very experienced, more expensive and not at all compliant.

This is the mismatch - and which usually gets mis-represented as "skills shortages".

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A big new broom is needed

Anyone who is even remotely interested in the administrative performance of the Australian States will know they are failing dismally - on just about every important measure.

The state based political leadership and administrative management processes are so badly broken that I wonder why the responsible people even bother to front up each day. Actually I do know - they like their enormous salaries and they will tell you that "It's not my fault".

Yesterday we discovered that the Victorian Police DNA system is seriously broken and today we find out that evidence in drug cases is unreliable. Systems don't work, people aren't accountable and the Police service seems to be out-of-control - yet again.

And so various witch hunts are underway - spin is out of control and the identified individuals blame "a lack of resourcing". It's not my fault they say.

I don't know what is wrong in these particular cases but I do know what is wrong - across our state administrations generally.

We have a mindset in this country that allows state governments to fail regularly - without penalty. What has happened to the concept of accountability?

The states seem unable to deal with bushfires, crime and policing, health and mental health, education, transport, utilities, water and any number of other important services that are state responsibilities. They get elected - put their mates in power - pay them too much - they then stuff up - and then we ought to tell them to bugger off.

In this case we need both the *Police Commissioner* and the *Police Minister* to be moved aside and to be replaced by professionals who can deliver a quality outcome for the people of Victoria. No debate necessary.

And if their replacements fail then they should also get the boot - until we can discover individuals who are capable and smart enough to deliver.

And the great thing about doing this in Victoria - is that it will wake the other states up - because they are probably worse. Some are much worse.

But it won't happen - this will blow over in a few days and the people responsible will go on a nice little holiday for a few weeks and be back in their offices next year - all ready to *fu_k* it up again in 2010.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Barney Rubble - slightly confused

Barney Rubble is confused - he thinks that he is the Finance Minister in the Federal Cabinet!

Or at least that is what he has told the ABC - here.

No Barney - apparently what you are is the "shadow spokesperson on Finance" in the "Coalition" - which is not in government but is in *Opposition*.

This is a role that has absolutely *no power* whatsoever - regardless of what you and Tony Abbott might think. Zero, nada, null.

Either Barney knows that and he is playing games - or he doesn't know it and he is trying to audition for the role ;-)

I will leave it up to you dear reader to work out which is true.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

No Shrinking Violet

Thank goodness Malcolm is no shrinking violet.

Minchin, Abbott and the rest of the *new blues* white anted him throughout his term of leadership and now he is paying them back. He certainly has balls as well as brains.

But it is clear that the *blues* supporters are hopelessly divided. This analysis by Possum shows some of the early "net effect" of the Abbott ascendency.

So in answer to the question:

"Does the election of Tony Abbott as leader of the Liberal Party make you *More Likely* or *Less Likely* to vote Liberal?"

According to the poll result - 21% thought "More Likely" and 33% "Less Likely". So the net Abbott effect is (33 - 21) or negative 12%!

So the surveyed people think that Abbott is less attractive as a leader than Turnbull by a substantial 12% of the people who were polled.

And if you are a Labor voter then apparently you find him 32% less attractive and Greens voters find him 57% less attractive. Not many votes for the Abbott team to be found here then.

Lets see the *blues* right wing suck on that little gem for a while and see if they can spin those numbers into a Kevin beating margin.

The truth is that most thinking Australian's won't tolerate another *numbnut* right wing government - beating up on workers, foreigners, the environment and anyone else who threatens their "born to rule" mindset - especially while the memory of the Howard Government is still fresh.

Abbott and Co can look forward to a 35% - or thereabouts primary vote. Because there are about 35% of the voting population who are naturally sympathetic or can be coerced into supporting their *numbnut* view of the world. And if they are smart - they might be able to parlay that into a 45% two party preferred vote. Note the word "smart".

Fortunately in our version of democracy - they will need to find 50% plus to win an election.

Go Tony - you are clearly doing the right thing maaate ;-)

Friday, December 4, 2009


There is a term that I am very familiar with but which a lot of people may not know at all - it's called FUD.

Which is an acronym for "Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt" and as best I can determine was invented - or at least came into the mainstream lexicon - when IBM started to see lots of smaller competitors trying to pick off pieces of it's then lucrative computer hardware business - way back in the 1960's.

And as a result, there was once a raft of companies who offered *big iron* - and now there is one.

So the context is that a big monopoly company was being nibbled at by lots of small and technically competent companies. And FUD was invented as a way of helping to keep IBM's customers loyal and making them *beware* the offerings of the small fry. If the customer was not certain about the way forward - then feed them some more FUD!

It was a bit like feeding monkeys - or sheep.

And it worked very well. But what it also did was spawn a whole new industry - which is now known as the *spin* industry. It probably worked a little too well.

What happened since those early days is that the charlatans and the politicians - noticed how well it worked and how successful the big corporate was at keeping the small fry at bay - and so they replicated it.

They built a FUD machine in the *political* world that replicated it's success in the *corporate* world. And ever since it has worked spectacularly well.

To the extent that most people who are uncertain about the way forward - in other words they don't know enough about the *big issues* to make valid choices - are now bombarded with lots of FUD.

Firstly the charlatans make sure that folks are kept in the dark - "we can't have the voters being exposed to the facts - can we". And then we must run campaigns to inundate them with FUD. All designed to manipulate the poor souls.

It's how in 2009 we now have a substantial subset of the rusted on *blues* team thinking that "Climate Change" is a communist plot.

The *spin* doctors and their brand of *FUD* have replaced reality - especially for those people who have difficulty in working it out for themselves.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Skill Shortages - Honestly its BS

From time to time I get to rail against people in the mainstream media who write and bleat about "skill shortages".

The reason that I do is because IMO Australian employers have gone way past the point where they feel obliged to take *any* responsibility for their own workforce or individual workers.

And ten + years of the conservatives and their hidden - "exploit the workers agenda" seems now to become the *blues* actual "out-in-the-open" policy.

Which is quite amazing when you think about it. For ten years in government, the Liberals and Nationals put in place programs and policies designed to dud the poor old aussie worker. THey didn't tell them of course - but that was the effect and still they kept getting re-elected! No wonder Tony feels as though he can BS his way back onto the Treasury benches - no-one on their side is listening - or thinking.

However, mutual obligation was such a *last century* concept. These days - with a few notable exceptions big and small business alike expect that "the government" will create a skilled and capable pool of workers - who are ready and able to be exploited.

How on earth did we get to this point?

The way that I see it is:

* There is bugger all loyalty between employers and employees.
* There is an ongoing campaign by employers to reduce hourly rates and salaries and claw back previously hard won working conditions.
* Workers are being asked to do more - and are often paid less - sometimes a lot less.
* Working conditions are often shocking and sometimes dangerous.
* Cheaper workers are always valued over experienced workers - regardless of the job.
* Older workers are often treated very poorly and are at the bottom of the heap.
* Many migrant workers are seriously exploited - why do we still have that 457 visa scam?
* The *game* appears to be a serious "race to the bottom". $5 bucks an hour anyone?

Except for one class of worker - "The Executive CEO" where all of these things are reversed. And perhaps another - that curious beast "The state and federal politician".

Now I only mention this because I have had some recent experiences that demonstrate how bad things have become.

I can't tell you about it ;-) One day soon I will.

But I can suggest that it wouldn't be a bad idea to get back to a concept of "mutual obligation" between employers and employees. A mutual obligation based on that old fashioned concept - "truth and honesty". Now there is a novel concept.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

What a day

Well it's been an interesting day - so far.

* Tony Abbott became the *blues* leader in a 42/41 result - and started in the gig by telling everyone that he wants to reintroduce a "WorkChoices" style IR system. Clever move.

* Can't wait to see Tone's *top quality* front bench. Suspect that Kevin Andrews will get to choose between Industrial Relations and Immigration ;-)

* Malcolm takes a breather on the back bench - but what is to become of him and the other 40 who supported him? He will work it out over the next couple of days.

* Joe trips over his own bootlace - and loses again. Dumb strategic move Joe. He is far too nice to be Liberal leader - which is probably why the Doctor's wives take pity on him at election time. Joe is my local member - I really wish he would make the effort to upgrade his software to v2.1.

* The *black* team led by Barney Rubble are ecstatic - they are now "bestest buddies" again - with their coalition friends in the *blue* team and will now jointly rampage against those dreaded *socialists*.

* The 35 *numbnuts* and 7 *opportunists* who pushed Tony over the line are now trying to work out who will get what spoils. Will take them a while - first they must learn to read and write.

* Labor MP's are grinning from "ear to ear". Can't believe their luck.

* Kevin is working out how to adjust his strategy - he already has upgraded to v2.1. Of course the *blues* will just drop their dummy again if Kevin gets the upper hand - worked last time.

* A double dissolution is on the cards - but first Kevin needs to let Tony make a complete goose of himself.

* I think I need to reboot now.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

It's Sunday night in the suburbs

Well, I have been watching and listening to the *Liberals* explanations this weekend - in the vain hope that they have a logical and rational explanation about why they have acted like *numbnut* lemmings.

And the short answer is that they don't.

They certainly don't have logical reasons why they would even attempt to depose Malcolm and the moderates.

It seems they are driven by a mad ideological rightwing *numbnut* view of the world that simply says - "we are not in government at the moment - and we were clearly born to rule so lets be as disruptive as possible and create lots of chaos".

This is tempered with the views of their *base* who apparently are complaining somewhat about the fact that *the government* is even contemplating dealing with "climate change" - which according to the *base* is plainly not even happening yet!

Here's the problem: The Liberal party *base* is largely "dumb and uninformed". Sorry but someone needed to say it. They are folks who are uneducated, often racist, mostly pig ignorant and who don't apply much intellectual rigor to their decision making. They think that Andrew Bolt makes sense and is PM material!

They seem also to elect others from the same "social class" and send them to the parliament. Apparently there are a lot of these folks in the Liberal party - by my count around 35.

Sometime early this week we will see if Malcolm and the *thinkers* get the gig - or if Tony and the *numbnuts* prevail.

My prediction: Malcolm will win - but that won't change anything - because there will still be at least 35 *numbnuts* in the federal parliament!

That's why Kevin needs a trigger for a double dissolution.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Now I get it

So the "big carbon emitters" grand plan is coming together then.

When the Liberals talk about their *base* they mean those folks who seldom read, never write, who get their news and information from channel 10 and the test pattern and who fall for every spurious claim that gets pushed at them by the various right wing and religious charlatans with an axe to grind.

These folks don't get science and certainly don't believe that climate change is a threat.

No siree that would be a conspiracy by those elite scientists all directed against we ordinary folk.

And so the *bogus* science that is funded and peddled by the big carbon emitters and their proxies is all geared at reinforcing the uninformed views of these folks in the Liberal *base*. And its all designed to get them to revolt and put some heat on their local MP's.

Which is apparently what is happening.

Does anyone recall Joseph Goebbels and his propaganda technique which is based on the principle that a lie - if audacious enough and repeated enough times - will be believed by the *base*?

And a large number of the Liberal MP's - 35 to be precise - have fallen for it.

They are now taking the concerns of their *base* to mean that they should roll their "moderate" leader and install a more acceptable one who will appeal to the *base*.

Tony Abbot will be perfect for them - go Tone.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Go Malcolm

I don't have much time for most of the *numbnuts* in the *blue* team but I do like Malcolm - he is a smart and capable man and if the *dumfuks* roll him then they will have shot themselves - not in the foot but in the head - multiple times.

If they do that then this *silly little* political party will become irrelevant and remain in the wilderness for decades - it's just incredible stupidity.

But what would I know.

Blue Politics and Climate Change

Dear oh dear - the *numbnuts* in blue have excelled themselves this time. Apparently 35 of their current MP's were so annoyed that Malcolm wants to negotiate with the government over its emissions trading scheme that they wanted to vote for a new parliamentary leader.

Let me repeat that. Thirty five existing Liberal Members of the Australian Parliament want to be rid of Malcolm because he wants to do something about climate change - and they don't.

Every Australian should be seeking these people out and making a mental note NEVER to vote for them EVER again. And while they are at it they should take away their ongoing parliamentary benefits and their gold travel passes. Which planet do these *numbnuts* represent for goodness sake?

And that *genius* from the Victorian country town of Sale - Kevin Andrews was going to nominate for the parliamentary leadership!!! Apparently he wants to be "numbnut in chief".

Yep - the same Kevin Andrews that brought us "WorkChoices" and the "Haneef" circuses when he was a *Minister* in the Howard government.

Its not that words fail me - it's just that I am completely dumbfounded by these last few sentences. Who would have thought that the Australian "Liberal" party would plumb such depths.

Just goes to show how the extreme and ultra right have captured the local conservatives like they have everywhere else in the world.

I think I need a bex and a good lie down - because if all this is true then we may already have lost our democracy.

PS - I just discovered that another intellectual MP from country Victoria - Alby Schulz has suggested that Malcolm will lead the Liberals to "A Landslide Defeat" by supportting the ETS and wanting to do something about climate change.

"I've received over the years many, many emails and phone calls, he said. They have never been to the level that I'm receiving them at the moment."

Quite right Alby. It's because you have allowed your party to be captured by the *numbnuts* on the right and you have abandoned your responsibility to the ordinary people of this nation. That's why you and you colleagues can look forward to a right royal drubbing at the next election - so get used to it.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Business Opportunity

Here is a business opportunity for those young, smart, savvy folks who want to make a name for themselves - and who have substantial software development capability.

It's in the document creation and management space that is occupied by Microsoft Word - but first you must read my previous post.

Ask me questions if you aren't clear about my wants and needs.

So the opportunity is to create a standalone "Microsoft Word document processor" that reads Word documents - and easily and interactively allows the removal of all the BS formatting there which has accumulated over time - all without changing the "look and feel* of the "final" word document.

Essentially, I want a tool that removes all the crap formatting, optimises the document and builds and applies the best possible styles to the remainder.

This is a specialised application - that helps mitigate against *dumb* users and Bill Gates' money making machine.

Can you do it? Are you up for it? If you are and can demonstrate that you are capable - then I will license your software and make you "rich and powerful".

Word - everyone is an expert

Microsoft Word is Bill Gates' revenge on the nerds and anyone who won't RTFM.

I work in the tech industry and just about everyone who thinks they are a guru has major difficulty with Microsoft Word.

Why? Well they think that because they know some completely irrelevant application or programming language or deep technical *thing* that they are automatically qualified as an *expert* on all things software.

And so they start typing into Word and it accepts their input - and the next thing you know they have created an unholy mess and don't even know it.

What's worse is when they send it to 20 other people and that mess grows like topsy. It becomes a virus that 20 others have a go at to *add their value*.

The interesting thing about the tech business is that much of the day-to-day effort is spent on meetings, developing proposals, writing reports, managing projects and interacting with people. Like many industries, this requires mastering the Microsoft Office tools - at least until Google can build a credible alternative. Note to Eric - can you get the boys to move a bit faster!!!

But do you think anyone younger than 50 has a clue how to use Microsoft Word and it's complex formatting arrangements? Those who are older will know because they grew up with WordStar - which actually worked as advertised.

Technology was supposed to free us from complexity and make life easier - but all it has done (in the case of Microsoft Word) has made the resulting documents so incredibly convoluted that it is impossible to touch them without breaking something important.

All because the people who use it don't read the friggin manual and can't use simple things like *styles*. So we end up with layer upon layer of formatting crap all interacting with the inbuilt Microsoft *features* to create something that on the surface looks like a document. After a year of this and 20+ authors the document becomes unmanageable.

It's much worse when you are trying to run lots of concurrent projects with a team of tech nerds whose ego's all compete - showing off their mastery of the "iphone" and everything else irrelevant that is tech. To them it's a question of "What's the problem"?

So to the Microsoft Word product people - there is one additional key that I need in Word and it's the "Remove Rubbish" key. When pressed it will cycle through the document removing all the rubbish formatting and cleaning the document up. It will have to be as smart as Einstein to know which rubbish to remove - but hey that's Steve Ballmers' problem.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Methinks the Premier doth protest too much

Hamlet Act 3, scene 2, 222–230

The principal meaning of "protest" in Shakespeare's day was "vow" or "declare solemnly", a meaning preserved in our use of "protestation".

When we smugly declare that "the lady doth protest too much," we almost always mean that the lady objects so much as to lose credibility.

Gertrude says that Player Queen affirms so much as to lose credibility. Her vows are too elaborate, too artful, too insistent.

More cynically, the queen may also imply that such vows are silly in the first place, and thus may indirectly defend her own remarriage.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Media Mike and the Waitress

The issue is not whether *Media Mike* had sex with *The Waitress*.

The issue is whether "he lied" to the people of South Australia, the parliament, his party colleagues, his staff, his wife and family and anyone else who cares.

I don't know the answer to that.

But I do know that he has prior form with being "economical with the truth" and have often written about it.

Lets wait and see how this one pans out - but my suspicion is that *politicians* and the *truth* - are natural enemies.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Five simple questions

Next year - 2010 - we are going to have a federal election and at least one and probably more state elections. We may also have a "double dissolution" - especially if the *numbnuts* in blue aren't able to get their act together and work out what is in their best interests.

If we end up with a "double dissolution" then we will also be electing *quite a few* senators - like the whole house!

I am assuming that most people know what a "double dissolution" is - although I say that with a certain amount of "wishful thinking" having seen what turns up to a normal federal election.

As an aside, it is sometimes sad and depressing watching and listening to the people who turn up at polling booths - who are so totally unprepared for the event. There is a rather large subset of our community who do ZERO thinking prior to an election and who then make decisions based on *whatever* causes their pencil to move - when they exit the queue. I despair - but they have not been taught to take their democracy seriously - they merely take it for granted.

There is certainly a *BIG* case to be made for a widespread publically funded education campaign across the general population - before ANY election. More will be needed if we end up with something unusual like a DD.

I would like you all to think about the questions that you will ask of your local candidates - and what you will do with the answers because this coming election will be vitally important - probably the most important for 50 years.

You can ask whatever you like - but might I suggest the following five questions as a starting point.

Q1. Where are your loyalties? Are you a party person or do you represent your electorate?

A1. I want an independent thinker who will stand up for the needs of their electorate AHEAD of the needs of his or her political party.

Q2. What is your position on climate change? Do you understand the science and are you commited to dealing with climate change and mitigating the effects for your constituents?

A2. I want a knowleable representative who understands the science and can work as a TEAM player to deal with the issues. I DON'T want grandstanding right wing *numbnuts* who will put their mates in the big polluting industries ahead of their constituents - or who don't think there is a problem.

Q3. What are you doing to enhance and protect the lifestyle of your constituents? Are you aware of the challenges impacting them and how are you dealing with those?

A3. I want a smart thinker - someone who can anticipate problems and issues affecting his or her electorate and who will raise them in the party room - along with possible solutions and answers. For example, an urban member needs to *get* the changing industry situation and work to find alternatives. A rural member needs to *get* the impact of climate change on agriculture and work to find optimal crops and alternatives for his or her constituents.

Q4. What are you doing to understand the longer term threats to the jobs and income of your constituents and the potential opportunities as they arise? Are you thinking about the future and where the threats might come from and how you will prepare your constituents to deal with them? Can you see the opportunties and help your constituents exploit them?

A4. I want someone who can see past next Tuesday. I want a representative who has a significant *strategic* component in their viewport and who can understand the *long term* nature of the game of life.

Q5. What will you do to communicate with your constituents and listen to their views? Can I rely on you to ask us "what we think" in advance of important issues arising in the parliament - and how will you reflect our views back there.

A5. I want someone who treats democracy with respect and who has a well understood engagement process with his or her constituents. Someone who won't *ride roughshod* over the wishes of their constituents.

Now there are many other questions that you might like to ask - but if you can get a positive response to these then that will be a good start.

I have no illusion that we can actually keep them to their word - perhaps someone can work out how to do that prior to the 2013 election ;-)

Innovation - what is that?

I have been thinking about innovation for a while now - probably for much of my life.

But it seems that few others are. I constantly see and hear political leaders who should know better talking about how this or that industry is dying and causing unemployment and bad times all around.

The mainstream media and the state governments are the worst offenders with one state in particular - South Australia - seeming to have no ability to adjust and re-invent itself.

Because that is what the nation needs - vigorous and constant re-invention. But clearly that isn't going to happen without some quality leadership and smart people who are prepared to understand the options and take some risks.

Focussing on South Australia for a moment - it's not like the place is naturally endowed with high quality resources - it has had some real leaders in the past who took risks and did some good things for the state.

Tom Playford recognised that he needed to build an industrial base to employ the growing population when he acquired steel and vehicle manufacturing industries for South Australia.

Don Dunstan worked hard to build a high value arts culture and that has paid real dividends for the state - both in terms of local jobs and international recognition and reputation.

But who since has had any vision or foresight or ability to recognise the challenges and do anything significant about them?

Dean Brown wanted to make the place the silicon village of the southern hemisphere and ended up destroying around 300 small businesses and god knows how many jobs - while handing $billions to a US multinational. It's not like he wasn't warned.

I'm not sure what John Olsen was trying to do but he ended up being forced out of the parliament on the back of dodgy dealings with another American multinational. And now he works for the current Labor government.

Mike Rann has been spruiking the *mining boom* as the saviour of the place. But even he knows that mining employs around 1% of the working population. I wonder what he has in mind for the remaining 99%?

Oh I forgot *defence*. Another industry that requires lots of capital and employs many people in California and elsewhere but bugger all in South Australia.

As an aside, today we discovered that the Howard government was far from the "world's best economic manager" - and gave away the farm because Peter's Costello and Dutton were acting like *dummies*.

So to my serious question - "Is anyone in or close to power actually thinking about what needs to be done to maintain a high standard of living for the current population - going into the second decade of the 21st century"?

And if they are could they please share that with the people - and demonstrate that they have the brains and ideas needed to make the place competitive as we head into 2010.

Basically people you have three choices - "Lead", "Follow" or "get out of the way".

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Lots of fear in "Animal Farm"

These are my observations about how the people of South Australia feel about themselves.

Firstly, we have the annual "Christmas Pageant" - I won't discuss that here, 1950's kitch in my view - but the locals seem to think it is a good thing and lap it up.

Secondly, we have the daily "photo" on the ABC News at 7pm. The only place where there is such a thing all attributed to a viewer - clearly the ABC have worked out that this is vitally important - perhaps the other states need to follow suit ;-)

Thirdly, we have a major water crisis in the state - caused by 30+ years worth of inaction and laziness by various state governments and yet the local newspaper, the current government and the people responsible are happy to keep *smiling for the cameras*.

There are many other quaint little *things* that define the place but perhaps the most interesting is the current state government.

For eight long years - count them on 8 fingers - the state has had Mike Rann running the place - supposedly in a perpetual *trifecta* with Kevin Foley and Patrick Conlon. Apparently these three are the *brains* trust behind the government and have the place humming along like a well oiled machine!

But the people there have been well and truly goosed - no-one speaks up, no-one complains and no-one says boo to a duck about the way they have been treated. This has been the case for aeons.

And the reason is simple - *fear*.

The locals are all fearful - "for their jobs", "of their neighbors", "of a crime wave", "of the government" but most importantly - they fear a "letter from the Transport Department".

Because the place has created this amazing government scam where they raise enormous revenue from "red-light" and "speed" cameras. The traffic system is poorly designed (it hasn't evolved much since the 60's) and seems designed to *trap* the locals who then end up with enormous *fines* when they attempt to traverse the road network.

Just about everyone knows they are being screwed - but most of them say nothing and will only express their *anger* when they next are asked to vote - in other words - "keep your head down and express your concern at the ballot box".

I suppose this is democracy in action - SA style?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Lets deny reality

It's now official - Adelaide has registered its first-ever November heatwave. The Bureau of Meteorology said "The heatwave was confirmed this morning when the temperature topped 35C for the fifth day in a row".

And I can vividly remember on 8th July last year when Ross Garnaut presented his report and findings at the Adelaide Town Hall - when he said "South Australia was the most exposed of all Australian states to the adverse effects of Climate Change".

But apparently the *blue* team didn't hear the warning - or read the "press release" and so they are still wandering around - with their *thinking organ* hidden away in a dark orifice.

I suppose SA Senator Nick Minchin is perfectly comfortable in his own special air conditioned office - while working out tactics to defeat the government's ETS bill - but the South Australian people are probably wondering when their local politicans are going to start telling them the truth.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sometimes I despair

Often I berate the numbnuts on the *blue* team for their poor analysis, bad policy and *dumb* decisions - but it seems that all Australian politicians are "drawn from the same well", "cast from the same stone", "educated at the same trough", and revert to "arse covering" mode when they are closing in on an election - as demonstrated by this.

How are we ever going to make the tough choices that are needed as a nation when the easy decisions are wasted?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

News Corp is getting a bit tetchy

I wonder if anyone else has noticed how "News Corp" has been showing a little nervouseness lately - and how Rupert has been spruiking the great work of his corporation - to anyone who will listen.

He was out here recently, on a regular flying visit - to issue riding instructions to his editors and local executives and some of his *friendly* politicians and his business *cheer squad*.

Don't you get the sense that he is *on a bit of a "last minute" mission*. He is rushing around like a 20 year old - trying to get things done - before...

Sounds a bit like the *News Corp empire* is in it's death throes to me.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Minchin spills the beans

Well, I don't need to say it because Nick Minchin already has - here.

Senator Minchin has told ABC's Four Corners program most Coalition MPs do not think human activity is causing global warming.

"I'd say a majority don't accept that position," he said.

Well there you have it - straight from the horse's mouth - a majority of Coalition MP's don't understand basic science.

And I suspect that many of them also can't read because the proposition has been spelt out - very clearly - in a number of scientific journals.

Hmmm - So Minchin admits that Coalition MP's don't understand science and can't read...

That's a big enough handicap to keep them in opposition for decades.

For those that should go back to secondary school or perhaps do a science degree - this will keep them occupied for at least a decade - while the rest of the human race gets on with fixing the problem.

Numbnuts in blue - how very quaint.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Kevin should push hard

Kevin has taken the gloves off and called the *skeptics* for what they are - a bunch of delusional rightwing nutters - more concerned for their "fat-cat" mates in the big polluting industries than their fellow citizens.

Time is quickly running out and we can't afford to let the "anti science" vested interest approach of the few dictate how we deal with this serious issue.

My view is that Kevin needs to "bring it on" - even if that means a double dissolution.

Lets have the brawl that we clearly need to have and sort out once and for all our *National strategy and approach* for dealing with "Climate Change".

It seems to me that if he does that then he will gain major grass roots support across the nation - and he may even wipe the floor with the *blue* and *black* teams - who seems to comprise the bulk of the "do nothing - skeptics".

As an aside - doesn't anybody wonder why it is from within the "Liberal" and "National" political parties where we find the most vocal "Climate Change" skeptics?

I will let you think about that for a little while - perhaps it will be revealed later.

HINT: "They're not "skeptics" - they are "opportunists".

Friday, November 6, 2009

Thank goodness for Google Reader

All I can say is - "Thank goodness for Google reader, quality newsfeeds and personal blogs" - because parts of the Australian mainstream media have definately lost the plot.

I have been regularly reading "The Australian" on a daily basis - almost since it was first published. Sometimes not very frequently and sometimes it has been difficult to get copies - but for more than 30 years it has been my newspaper of choice.

Even in the latter half of the first decade of the 21st Century when many commentators have criticised Rupert's baby as *the Fox News* of the Australian media - I still remained loyal.

Even as Janet Albrechtsen continued with her personal poison - attacking anything and everything vaguely normal and promoting the most god-awful right wing rubbish - just because it aligns with her seriously warped sense of the world - I still remained loyal and pretended that she was just an abberation.

Even as the right wing and ratbag commentariat, the religious nutters and the seriously dumb and just plain silly used and abused their pages of editorial space to attack anything and everything intellectual or science based - I assumed it was just a phase that would pass - like a teenager growing up.

Even as Chris Mitchell took the paper downmarket and tried to use it as a vehicle to play his personal political games with important issues like *climate change* - I still scanned the stories - with the hope that there were a few gems of quality hidden away - somewhere.

But I have to confess that they have won - after 30+ years I am beaten.

Today I decided that it is all too hard - the collection of *Bumpf and BS* that is packaged as our national newspaper is now of such a standard and quality that I am no longer interested in reading it.

I am particularly distressed to observe the way it attacks our government - apparently just because they are of the *red* persuasion as opposed to Rupert's version of the right colour - which is obviously *blue* or more likely *black*.

"The Australian" no longer represents the nation - it should rename itself. My suggestion is "Rupert's Rightwing Ratbag Rag".

Monday, November 2, 2009

Rory Wins - but there will be consequences

I suspect that Steve Keen's error is one of timing and that eventually he will be proven right - house prices could well fall by 40%.

It's just a question of when. And it's also a question of how high they will go in the meantime. Because, the bigger the rise - the harder the fall.

But seriously, why isn't anyone concerned by any of this? Do we really believe that perpetually increasing house prices are a good thing? And if we do (as seems likely) then is anyone thinking about the consequences?

Because there are always unintended consequences - it's really about who they impact and how hard.

Clearly perpetually increasing house prices don't help those who already own houses - because they need to live somewhwere. A high selling price just translates to a higher buying price for the next one. Where is the benefit in that?

But they do impact new entrants to the market - who tend to be the young and/or migrants - who often can't afford the price. Or if they do then their financial situation becomes so stretched that they end up living in poverty for decades - just to get into a house! Where is the benefit in that?

Actually I think I know why this is happening.

This country has a long and chequered history of speculative property development and house building. Just check the list of billionaires, millionaires and other rich people in your community. Odds are that a good percentage of them (probably more than 50%) will be builders and/or developers. Few of them are smart - but they got there by making stuff for $100 and selling it on to you for $200. Just add zero's to get to a different scale.

Now this form of industry and commerce is really the only thing that has been a consistent wealth generator across the nation over the past hundred years. The alternatives are not so good or not so easy to get into.

* The Agriculture and Grazing industries have become too capital intensive.
* Manufacturing has died an un-natural death.
* Mining is owned and run by and for the multi-nationals.
* Technology was killed by the dot com crash.
* Financial services died as a result of the global financial crisis.
* Everything else is hard work and/or low paid.

So the last great money making frontier is *housing* and by the way, house prices are about the only thing still going up - because we as a nation have a serious bias toward this form of investment - and that has produced a lot of "vested interests" all keen to advise you or help you or fund you to get in on the act.

Never mind that it is not very productive to have all your capital sitting in bricks and mortar - or that your job in the other industries is probably precarious - lets put all of our eggs in this one basket - and hope for the best.

Because when it does turn *pear shaped* then "the government" will bail us out - isn't that what they always do?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Does anyone believe this crap?

I know that it's all a bit sad but I somehow picked up "The Advertiser" today and read the main page - which has a story about how the place is about to become the *Saudi* of the south and be the energy centre of the world - and other blah blah blah.

And on page 2 there is apparently further evidence from Jason Kuchel - the CEO of the SA Chamber of Mines and Energy - who is a "firm believer the mining boom will deliver significant jobs".

I wonder if anyone who has a fancy title in SA actually reads facts and understands evidence?

Just asking because according to Ian Harper there are not many jobs in mining. And according to the SA Centre for Economic Studies, there are few jobs in SA resulting from the *mining boom*.

Even Mike Rann has got the message and has recently stopped spruiking the *mining boom* - because he knows that he is on thin ice.

For goodness sake people - you can start by telling the truth. You might like to waffle and tell porkies and deceive people but as John Quiggin and Daniel Davies say - "Good ideas do not need lots of lies told about them in order to gain public acceptance".

Surely they are joking?

The Australian Industry Group - the lobby group that is funded by big business - has just released its National CEO Survey.

And apparently:

More than a quarter of companies surveyed have been severely affected by the economic downturn.

Large companies were hardest hit with 37.3% being very affected by the downturn. The impact has been most severe in the construction and manufacturing sectors.

All as would be expected - when times are tough.

But the really scary thing is that old furphy *skills shortages* is being bandied about again.

Apparently the survey has uncovered that there will be shortages of - labourers and process workers, engineers, managers, apprentices and trainees. Plus apparently there are skill shortages in literacy, numeracy and information technology.

And according to the report, amongst companies in the survey, the average decline in employment expected in 2009/10 is 3.8%.

This is a polite way of saying that these CEO's will sack somewhere around 200,000 people (my estimate) over the course of the next year.

Did I mention that these same CEO's will cut back expenditure on training - on average companies anticipate a 4.1% reduction in training expenditure in 2009/10.

Forgive me for asking but if they are sacking people and cutting back on training - how do they expect to deal with the *skills shortages* that they think will apparently cause chaos?

Let me guess.

It's the prerogative of these CEO's to hire and fire at will - without any regard to the national interest.

But it's the job of government to ensure that there is sufficient *fodder* for these companies when they want to start hiring again. And if there isn't a massive pool of skilled workers ready and able then they will be insisting on an expansion of the 457 Visa scam - sorry scheme.

It's all so predictable - Surely they are joking?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Nick and Tim are real Australians

Nick Xenophon and Tim Costello have the right stuff.

Both have demonstrated enormous commitment, quality, credibility and competence - I salute you both.

The sooner we can get Australian States weaned off the disaster that is pokies - the better.

And the sooner we can get the State Premiers and their Treasurers to *recognise* and *deal with* the damage that these things cause the better.

Of course they won't do it without some pushing and prompting and cajoling - because it wasn't only Gordon Gecko who thought that "Greed is Good".

Ian Harper is particularly erudite

Just spent the last 30 minutes listening to Ian Harper's talk about the economic history of Australia - here.

This is a *must listen* story for anyone who is even remotely interested in what has driven the Australian economy in the past and what will likely drive it in the future.

For the first time in a long time - we have someone with credibility who is prepared and able to tell the truth about where the jobs are and where they will come from - tomorrow and beyond.

He gets it - absolutely. A pity most politicians don't.

Now lets see if we can get the press to report it and talk about it - I wish.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pokies and other revenue scams

We know that something is up when "The Australian" writes an impressive story about *pokie dependency* as it did today.

A big story showing how the states are addicted to gambling revenue and will not let it go – despite the damage that it causes.

And as usual my home state – South Australia leads the pack with the highest percentage of gambling taxation revenue - 13.2%.

It’s a sad story down there in the city of churches. I suspect that they need to find a leader who is actually interested in looking after the people who live there instead of one who is only interested in looking after themselves and their mates.

Now I have limited experience with the place having lived there for part of my life – mostly the early years – until I escaped to the real world.

But I also have some recent experience. I am in the process of building my boat and have found a nice little place in rural South Australia where I can construct it. The people and the town are pleasant enough but the real surprise is that because it is so small and remote the State Government does not seem to interfere too much. Probably doesn’t even know it is there ;-)

As an example, in the regional city of Adelaide, the drivers are extremely fearful of *red light* and *speed* cameras which are everywhere – and which like pokies are there to raise revenue for the state.

But here in this little rural town they are no-where and the attitude of the drivers is completely different – and obviously better.

I would love to have the time and resources to do a proper survey and analysis of driver attitude and their relationship to road accidents – because I am fairly sure that the creation of a fearful environment on the road has a direct relationship to road accidents.

But we will never know because the state runs regular campaigns to create fear while milking motorists – and has been doing that for over 30 years – and justifies it on the basis of attending to *road safety*.

Like being serious about dealing with pokies in South Australia – this is just another myth.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The *blues* and boat people

Some of you will have noticed how Malcolm and some of the other members of the *blue* team have been bleating on about the "boat people" and how the supposed current influx of them is a direct result of our government's *slack, lax and inapropriate* immigration policy.

It's interesting because Possum has done some clever analysis here on whether it's the "pull" or "push" factors that are driving this - a must read for those who can.

The truth is that it's the environment that the "boat people" are trying to escape from rather than the environment that they are trying to escape to that is driving these movements.

In other words, things are so bad at home that they will risk their lives to find somewhere else to live.

But its the *numbnuts* in the *blue* team and sadly also Malcolm who are trying to suggest that all of this is due to some imagined *hopelessly dark* policy of our government.

The thing is that these *blues* have nothing worthwhile to contribute.

And they are doing it because they know that there is a smallish subset of our community - fuelled by an opportunistic media - who are so thick, so dumb, so uninformed, so racist and so bogan that they will lap it up and cheer the *blues* on.

They hope that the temporary support of these people will somehow improve the *blues* abysmal polling.

Well they won't - all it really does is diminish the respect that thinking Australian's have for the *blues* version of "Opposition".

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

PacBrands and clever management

How the worm turns.

Remember how a year or so ago Pacific Brands was in the news because they were sacking local staff, moving all of their production offshore and closing down their Australian manufacturing operations?

And their CEO - Sue Morphet was exposed as just another executive on an outrageous salary.

All of which was justified on the basis of having to tweak and fine tune the business to make it operate better - for the shareholders.

Well, yesterday at their annual general meeting all of this was exposed as the BS that it is.

As a result of their inability to manage their exposure to currency movements, it was revealed that the business is down around $40 million.

So they apparently needed to move their Australian manufacturing offshore to take account of a cheaper cost base in Asia. They also had to sack over 1000 staff and pay their CEO and other executives enormous sums to ensure that they had the best possible management.

But they stuffed up their currency hedging and are now in the red to the tune of $40 million as a result.

I wonder if anyone else has noticed the contradiction. If you send manufacturing offshore then you obviously need to pay much more attention to your currency risk - why didn't they?

I wonder what their next great idea will be? Sell their products locally in peso's and eliminate the currency problem.

PacBrands shareholders should be revolting.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Jetstar and Flight Centre Suck

This year I have done about 16 trips - a trip being defined as going somewhere away from home base and then returning to base sometime later. Today I am attempting to undertake trip number 17 - without much success.

I almost always book online and often will book directly with the airline but sometimes I use Flight Centre or Webjet to find the best deals and flight frequency.

That is a big mistake - because I have just discovered that the *aggregators* don't actually pass through my contact details when booking a flight on my behalf.

Today I discovered the unhappy reality of this. Last week I booked a trip to Hobart from Melbourne using Flight Centre and flying with Jetstar today and back next Tuesday.

Bad luck for me that the outbound Jetstar flight has been cancelled. And they didn't bother to contact me to make alternative arrangements.

When I fronted up to check in I discovered that I had been shifted to a Qantas flight - TWO FRIGGIN HOURS later. How is that going to play out with my Hobart arrangements this evening?

Fortunately I now have an extra couple of hours to post airline and travel stories on my blog.

Excuse me, but I am well known to both Jetstar and Qantas. As I mentioned earlier, I am about to embark on my 17th trip of the year - probably more than 30+ flight legs. What is their excuse for not contacting me?

Over 35 years of flying domestically and internationally with these and other airlines - and all I get today from the Jetstar checkin person is a lecture about how it's my fault that they didn't contact me.

Jetstar and their customer service sucks and Flight Centre needs to work hard to capture any of my future business.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Tax and Equity in OZ

Anyone who is even remotely concerned about tax and equity in Australia MUST read this.

Ken Henry is clearly a person who understands the problem and wants to deal with it.

I have been waiting for someone with power to talk about this and set in train a process for change for 30 years - and here he is.

Thank goodness - he is a breath of fresh air.

Lets now just get on with it and build an equitable and fair system.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Advertiser - ho hum

This is what happens when you are running a 20th century monopoly business in a 21st century reality world - and have not prepared yourself, your staff or your customers for change.

Rupert is grappling with this problem on a global scale and "The Advertiser" is feeling the hard edge in downtown Adelaide.

As an aside, the thing that infuriates me about this petty little paper is it's inability to tell the truth - about anything. It's obviously reporting about a parallel universe that is far far away near la la land. But I digress.

Here's the explanation of why they are in this mess and what they should do to fix it.

But they won't because Adelaide is a provincial town - populated by insular people with quaint habits and hyper sensitivities - and some of them work at "The Advertiser".

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Battle of the big ideas

The contest between Labor and Liberal - indeed all political parties should really be a battle of the *big ideas*.

Each party should have a robust "idea generator culture" where elected members and others can contribute and debate the big ideas and then offer the best of them to the electorate at the next election.

These big ideas should reflect the policy positions of the parties with respect to the major issues that influence our lives - indeed all government touchpoints.

But do they?

The last time the Liberals had a *big idea*, they didn't even bother to mention it prior to imposing it on the electorate after the 2004 election - that was WorkChoices. Not so much a big idea as a big cock up.

In contrast, the *reds* seem to generate a lot of big ideas - the most recent is the work that Frank Brennan and others have done with The National Human Rights Consultation Committee.

This is important work and will add enormously to the debate around human rights and how we as a nation should move forward.

But already the usual suspects have started to criticse the report - without offering any constructive alternatives - except the status quo - which seems also to be the *blues* position.

In particular, the Murdoch press apparently think that any ideas that come from the *red* team are bad - while non-ideas from the *blue* team are good. It's all very tiresome.

I would actually like to see (and hear) the *blues* generate some *big ideas* so that we can get to learn what they stand for and what they intend to offer at the next election.

I know the *reds* will be doing it - and hope we can encourage the other teams to generate and publish their *big ideas* too.

Are the *blues* up to it? Do they actually have any *big ideas*? Can they mention them?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Malcolm and the blues

I must confess - as someone who doesn't often vote for the *blues* that I like Malcolm - he is not your typical *blue* MP because he is youngish, smart, capable, successful, intelligent and most of all - he understands (and wants to deal with) the carbon problem.

Now this might mean that he is attractive to a wide range of potential *blue* voters - but apparently he is not at all attractive to existing *blue* voters - duh.

According to "The Australian" today, he is his own worst enemy and his problems with the *blues* are largely of his own making and by the way he should pull his socks up and become well more *blue*.

Excuse me - he is doing the job that I would expect him to do if I were a *blue* supporter. Just because the existing supporters and their cheer squad in the Murdoch press don't think he is dumb enough or compliant enough or subserviant enough doesn't mean that he should actually be any different.

In fact, Malcolm is now in a unique position. If he can push through the current crisis and assert his leadership then it may well be that the *numbnuts* will leave (or at least pull their heads in) and the *blue* team will come back to the centre where they can re-acquire the support of mainstream Australia.

If he manages to do that successfully then Kevin and co will really have a contest on their hands at the 2010 election.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Cap and Trade - is market purity

The really scary thing is that the *blue* team should be falling all over themselves to support a Cap and Trade carbon trading system.

Why? Because of all the alternatives, this is the ultimate free market system - the one that is driven by their private enterprise based ideology and so-called market purity.

The principle is simple:

The cap is set in advance and the government will issue "permits to pollute" to a certain level of emmissions on behalf of the nation. This cap is designed to reduce over time - improving the emission performance of the nation.

As we have already seen there is an enormous amount of lobbying around the detail but eventually Penny and Kevin will get the mix and balance right - and issue the permits. Note to Penny - "Sooner is better".

Those who can't (or won't) change their carbon polluting habits will need to acquire new permits to pollute over time from those who have them - and pay the market price.

The market price is determined by the natural laws of "supply and demand" - so greater demand will naturally mean a higher price. This should be music to the *blues* ears - at least the rational ones.

And this "permit price" will need to be factored in to the cost of the "goods and services" on offer. So over time, the intent is that "carbon polluting products and services" will be more expensive than those that don't produce excessive carbon and therefore don't need to acquire permits.

According to the *blues* ideology - this is precisely how you would design and implement such a system.

But Kevin and Penny can't take all the credit - this is how the existing systems work and how an international system would work.

Carbon - Lets just delay and deny

So with the single exception of Malcolm, the *blue* team started off by denying that there is a carbon problem and that sustained their opposition for a while.

But then it became painfully obvious even to the most one-eyed that there is a major carbon problem and that those in denial are increasingly seen as neanderthals - so they had to change tack.

And so their new approach is to deny that an "Emissions Trading Scheme" based on *Cap and Trade* is the best way to deal with the problem.

This ignores the fact that all existing schemes operate under Cap and Trade and there are compelling reasons why it has been selected.

There are a few schemes in place - the European Union has been operating since 2005 and New Zealand since 2008 while a number of individual States of the United States have schemes going back as far as 2003.

Lots of detail can be found here.

My sense of it is that the *blues* are really about delay - and when they get rolled on Cap and Trade then they will find something else to nit pick about - all designed to delay the introduction of any scheme or take any action.

Because that is really what this is all about - delay and deny as long as possible while their mates in the big polluting businesses continue to get a free ride.

Malcolm is the only one who wants do do something about it and now they want to get rid of him - numbnuts or smart-arses?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Liberal Emissions

What is it with the *blue* team - and carbon emissions?

Just about every one of them speaks against an emission trading scheme and a large number of them actually don't believe that increasing carbon in the atmosphere is a problem - duh.

If you believe George Megalogenis (and i do) then you will understand what went on during the *glorious* Howard years - and this is what they are desperately trying to replicate - unaware that the game has changed.

One of the fantastic revelations George points to today is in Annabel Crabb’s Quarterly Essay on Malcolm Turnbull - is a previously unreported argument in the Liberal partyroom after the 2004 election.

Senator George Brandis, a moderate Queensland Liberal, asked Howard if the government seriously believed its public rhetoric that a hairdressing certificate was as a good as a PhD. As Crabb writes:

Brandis was heckled by some of his colleagues, who jeered that people with degrees weren’t as smart as they thought they were. "He was howled down, of course. It was frightening," recalls one (university-educated) MP who was present. "They were a mob by that stage. You couldn’t get up and say things like that. It was like the French Revolution." Howard himself, recalls another Liberal, made it clear where his sympathies lay. "He just gave out this big laugh, and said: Oh, George. At least you have more chance of making some money with a hairdressing degree."

It's just stunning that an Australian government, including Ministers and a Prime Minister can believe this crap.

It's why the tertiary sector was defunded and why science was treated with suspician by the ruling elite - it was simply a tragedy that will take decades to fix.

And this explains why such a high percentage of the *blues* are in some form of denial around climate change, increasing carbon in the atmosphere and an emissions trading scheme.

They simply don't understand the problem because they don't understand science - and this is a problem that requires a basic understanding of science.

Monday, October 5, 2009

OK - all is revealed

So this new analysis by Possum reveals why the numbnuts are acting like the smart-arsed rabble they really are.

Unimagined and radical polling swings in Mayo, Grey, Boothby and Sturt would leave the Liberals with but one Federal seat in South Australia if an election were held anytime soon.

This would mean the demise of Jamie Briggs (Downer's replacement), Rowan Ramsay (never heard of him - but someone else's replacement), Andrew Southcott and Christoper Pyne (whose wife does most of his campaigning).

No wonder the Libs are alarmed and dangerous. They would be decimated.

I suppose this is why they are all over the shop and trying to play silly buggers with the ETS.

Under this scenario most of them won't be around long enough to have another emission.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Numbnut biscuits

There was a time - aeons ago now - when the Liberals had a smidgeon of credibility and were sometimes seen as a potentialy capable government.

That was when little Johnny was masquerading as leader ;-)

There were some players on the *blue* side of the house who even managed to regularly say a few smart words and demonstrate some level of credibility on a range of important topics.

Not any more - the numbnuts are now in charge at the funny farm.

Poor Malcolm must be cacking himself and wondering if he joined the right party.

Roswell and Wilsdom and Corbardi and the rest of the biscuits in the packet must give him and the smart Liberals nightmares.

If the party is incapable of controlling the dipsticks, the stupids and the opportunists then it has no chance of ever regaining the Treasury benches.

Thank goodness.

Greed is still good then

According to the Productivity Commission there should be no direct interference with the setting of Executive pay - and lots of waffle around some new rules associated with the behaviour of corporations and directors and their boards - and blah blah blah.

You can read the draft report here. But really I wouldn't bother - it's just bureaucratic doublespeak.

The thing that I don't get is why.

Why is it that the administrative and clerical and technical and professional workers - those people who actually make the enterprise work - are constrained by awards and salary caps and limits and restrictions on what they can earn - but executive workers have no such constraints?

Why do employees below a certain class have *rules* associated with how much they can earn - but those above a certain class have no such rules?

Why is it that the *so called* executive class have the ability to take what they want - in terms of remuneration but the rest of us have to accept what is awarded by the industrial relations regime that determines what we can earn?

Why was there such a fuss about WorkChoices?

Why do Australian workers tolerate this inequality?

Why is there no revolution?


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Will Incomes Double?

I suppose that It’s *almost* understandable that our government has continued to prime the real estate market with the "first home sellers grant" - driving prices up while the rest of the world went the other way.

They have had a few crises to deal with over the past two years which have distracted them from relatively *minor* issues like housing bubbles.

But now it appears that real recovery is underway so they will need to do something to stop the bubble inflating further.

As most knowledgeable analysts explain, It is simply not sustainable for house prices to remain where they are today - relative to the income and earning potential of Australians.

There are two options - either incomes will need to double or house prices will need to halve. I doubt that either scenario is possible.

A soft landing will mean that house prices will need to stagnate for a decade or more while incomes increase - to ensure that a more sustainable ratio between the two develops over time. This is the Japanese model as opposed to the US or UK model.

So how will they do it? Well there is only one way and that is to ensure that supply exceeds demand over an extended period - while making sure that the price of money remains at a more *normal* level.

So if the federal government and the RBA and the Treasury are serious about fixing this bubble then they will have to do a lot of work to get some greater level of control over the vested interests - including the state governments, the banks, the real estate industry, the media and the various hangers on who make short term gain at the expense of the rest of us.

Can they do it? I personally don’t think they can - because the electoral cycle isn’t long enough to allow the tough choices that need to be made.

So it does look like the vested interests are safe for the moment - they can keep feeding at the trough and inflating the bubble. When it bursts there will be a lot of sh*t hitting the fan - but hey who cares about tomorrow when we can milch the cow today.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

This is serious stuff

This is what happens when you provide a direct stimulus and also what happens when you avoid providing a direct stimulus.

The Australian housing market is now on the precipice and is so finely balanced that it has managed to corner all those who have tried to keep it from imploding over the past couple of years. Now those well meaning souls are between a solid rock and a very hard place.

Whatever the government does in the near term will end up being bad for someone - or some special interest group who will then demand to be compensated - because they made dumb decisions.

Good luck to you all and may the best lobbyist win. For the rest of us - may I recommend Telstra shares ;-)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Consistent double standards

"The Australian" is deep into two major campaigns at the moment.

They are in denial about climate change and use every opportunity to *explain* how Penny's carbon pollution reduction scheme will disadvantage Australia. It's just crap. But the interesting thing is how their nonsense is impacting Malcolm's Liberals - who are all over the place because they seem to believe the view that Chris Mitchell is pushing. It amazes me how these elected conservatives can't undertake any real analysis of their own and end up parroting the view of the ultra right.

But this is not about that - "The Australian's" second campaign is around industrial relations. As we all know, it was the Murdoch press who was chief cheerleader for little Johnny in his failed attempt to impose "WorkChoices" on the nation. Johnny was deposed but Mitchell hasn't given up.

Today there is another BS story about those poor young electical apprentices who apparently will be disadvantaged as a result of Julia's new workplace laws. I don't know if that is true - or not. My initial reaction is to treat anything "The Australian" says about industrial relations with a grain of salt. Actually - I simply don't trust them to promote a "fair and balanced" point of view - they are just incapable.

Especially when during the previous conservative government, the IT industry in Australia lost over 72% of it's head count between 2000 and 2005 - with not even a little peep out of the Murdoch press.

So here we have them lamenting the fact that structural changes might end up impacting electrical apprentices and yet they couldn't be bothered to report the massive collapse in technology jobs under the previous conservative regime.

Double standards - absolutely. Consistency - no way.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Exposed - the Australian real estate scam

Finally, someone has done the work to understand the Australian real estate scam and exposed the details - here. Read it and weep.

Some quotes from the report:

"The country that promised limitless land, cheap housing and near universal home ownership to all comers now has the most expensive housing in the world amid very tight housing and land markets and little prospect of restoring the balance."

"As long as the government, the public and the media remain in denial, and self-congratulatory rhetoric continues that Australia has cleverly avoided the housing market correction it needed to have, there is little chance that matters will improve."

According to the Author’s, Australia’s housing market is in "a very dangerous and unstable situation which has received little adverse attention."

I suppose that it is not so difficult to understand how we got here given that there are so many vested interests - all aligned to feed-off those poor unsuspecting and often naive house purchasers.

The state governments, the banks, the media, the real estate industry, the multitude of service providers and all their associated hangers on - are quite merrily feeding at this trough - as though there is no tomorrow.

And then we have the ludicrous situation of various federal governments delivering a cash hand-out and calling it the "first home buyers grant" - supposedly to help some of those poor unsuspecting souls buy a house. In reality all it has ever done is push house prices higher. It should be renamed the "first home sellers grant" because that is what it is.

It’s quite amazing that when in opposition, all political parties promise to fix the problem but as soon as they are in government they revert to form and shovel cash at the *haves* while purporting to help the *have not’s*.

And the real tragedy is that almost no-one will actually get to hear the details of the problem because the vested interests will do their best to keep this "bad news" out of the news because they don’t want anyone upsetting their cozy little scam.