Sunday, September 18, 2011

Rudd was Right

I don't know what our government is up to with asylum seekers. Back in 2006, when in opposition the current Minister Chris Bowen said this about "Coalition attempts to excise Australian mainland from migration zone".

And now he has been caught out trying to do exactly the same thing. What a major "stuff-up" the Malaysian solution has become.

There are three possibilities.

Perhaps he thinks we are all fools and won't notice his volte face. Or this is his feeble little attempt to "wedge" the Opposition. Or the Department is actually running Immigration Policy and the Minister is quite superfluous.

In either case it’s no way to run our nation. There are quite a few disturbing questions about this little debacle - here are three.

Firstly, what about the quality of the Cabinet processes that would allow this to happen?

Secondly, what about the individual Ministers - do they not see a problem? Are there no wise old heads in Cabinet?

Thirdly, what about the big and important issues facing the nation? Are we dealing with them in a similar way?

The reason it's turned out like this is because they are just doing what politicians always do - chase votes and tell lies.

If this is indicative of the way the Cabinet behaves then I can understand why Rudd kept them in the dark and fed them BS when he was Prime Minister.

Because they simply aren't capable of anything else.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Bad Management

Over at Core Economics, Kwanghui Lim has an article about his experience with on-line shopping. As far as I can tell this is a common theme in Australia.

And then over at Peter Martin's place we have a story about how we are working now - showing where the jobs are.

These two pieces show a major disconnect - on the one hand we have poor on-line shopping experiences and on the other - we are losing jobs in the Media and IT sector.

Maybe I am the only person who can see the connection - but this is a very clear example of what is wrong with the nation.

Bad Friggin Management.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Left Right Out

Do you remember the kerfuffle in the Victorian ALP that stopped Julia from gaining pre-selection for a federal seat in 1993 and 1996? Neither do I but according to Crikey - “There was just no compelling internal factional logic why Gillard deserved a federal seat”. It was 1998 when Gillard finally got the nod in Lalor after doing a deal with the right.

During her political career our PM has been cosy with the left and more recently she has sucked up to the right.

But if you listen to the extreme conservative commentariat then you will know that she is really a full bore lefty who is just biding her time and will eventually unleash a wave of socialist left policy - all of which will decimate the nation and its people.

But that is BS. Because the one thing that Australian's have already worked out is that she is just another opportunistic politician who doesn't believe in anything of substance - either from the left or the right. This is why her personal polling is so bad.

She may have started out as a lefty and she might have naively thought that she could carry that into the parliament and then into government and onto the executive. But the truth is that our political and media institutions are so dominated by the far right - that it could never happen. She would be pushing excrement uphill - forever.

I suppose you could fight them or you could join them. And she has joined them. She has even enlisted Rupert's help.

The problem with that is she has now trashed her credibility. How can you grow up as a lefty and a social democrat and then when you actually get to pull the levers become just another right winger with all its associated harshness.

Particularly the harshness of mandatory detention and offshore processing with asylum seekers. And warmongering - is it really 29 young dead Australian boys? I am surprised that she actually manages to sleep each evening. Must be the effects of the Prime Ministerial wine cellar.

The simple truth is that her personal polling is a demonstration of the power that is wielded by the folks who really control the place. And a little bit of a warning to anyone else from the left who thinks they can challenge the might of the right.

This is why they have gone all apoplectic about the Greens - because unlike Julia they won't roll over.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

We Love Youse All

One very obvious observation about the decline of the power and influence of the USA over the past decade has been the increasingly ratty nature of their politics. Both major parties are now so consumed by greed and power that they have lost much of their relevance.

But one party, the Republicans are so out of touch with reality that they seem to have relocated to another planet. In part this is due to the rise of the Tea party but it’s also about the massive rise of ideology and religion. And a poorly informed populace that has been captured by an old fox. As Andrew Bacevich says - "Ideology makes people stupid".

The Republicans appear determined to push the American people into joblessness and poverty - all on the back of their weird ideology. I mean who in their right mind would think that their economy could be jump started by cutting expenditure? Only dingbats.

Clearly their Democracy is broken. Perhaps they exported too much of it?

Something similar happened in Australian politics about a decade ago with the rise of One Nation and the attempts of the Liberal party to corral them. Actually what happened was that the Liberals adopted the One Nation ideology and now we have our very own version of the Republican Party. All without anyone noticing or even a mild murmur among the commentariat. It’s all in a days work for an old fox.

And where goes the US government so follow their corporations.

Recently Wikileaks exposed the true function of the US State Department - which is to ride shotgun for Corporate America. One of their roles is to lobby, coerce and bully other nations to ensure that US corporations get favoured treatment around the world. It's been going on for decades and has resulted in the export of a particularly nasty corporate culture.

If you have the misfortune to deal with any of them then you will find yourself in a warzone - minus the gunfire. Its now shock and awe corporate style when you deal with these masters of the universe.

And we seem to have acquired a Prime Minister who has overdosed on their kool-aid. Because apparently "we still love youse all".

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Free Speech and Democracy

Free speech is the most important thing in our Democracy. So say the political commentariat and most others who abuse it.

No it isn't.

When you understand what is happening to our Democracy as a result of our hands-off approach to free speech then you will understand why things need to change.

Tim Dunlop highlights the current fantasy that is "free speech" at one newspaper here. All based on Robert Manne's expose of the antics of "The Australian" in his Quarterly Essay here and here.

The simple truth is that "information" is readily manipulated by unscrupulous and powerful individuals and organisations in their quest to influence your thinking. And their primary method is by exploiting the concept of "free speech".

As Goebbels said "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it". And they do - here and here.

In the case of our media these "big lies" originate with the rabid anti-intellectual drivel that so consumes the far right and the US Republican Party - and is delivered to your thinking organ courtesy of our newspapers and radio and television. See here for an update on current Republican Party thinking. And here for an alternative view.

Low information voters are just not sufficiently "in the loop" in a one sided argument that is pushed at them via our media. There is no "truth news site" - where the real news resides. The charlatans and editors can say whatever they like - all under the guise of "free speech".

This idea used to be called "propaganda" and "brainwashing" - now it's just accepted as a fact of life.

So what is to be done? Well I don't really know but one thing that will help is to undertake an independent and far reaching enquiry into the effect and influence of our media. With the objective being to put in place some effective regulation and reduce the reach of the dominant players.

What we may end up discovering is that our current concept of "free speech" is not quite as important as a properly informed "Democracy".

But whatever the result it will surely become a mammoth battle between truth and lies - which will probably be won by whoever has the deepest pockets.

PS: Big lies - one of the links above points to these "facts".
In summary, Australians believe that the mining sector:
* Employs nine times more workers than it actually does.
* Accounts for three times as much economic activity as it actually does.
* Is 30 per cent more Australian-owned than it actually is.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Couple of Things

At least two things bother me about our Federal Government. And judging by opinion polls I am not the only one.

Firstly, despite the message they received from the high court last week, they still seem to be hell-bent on playing politics with asylum seekers.

They seem pre-occupied and perhaps even obsessed with the concept of "stopping the boats".

In case they haven't noticed - this is the nasty little agenda set by the opposition and exploited by its populist leader in his relentless pursuit of the bogan.

The Labor party of old wouldn't respond to his dog-whistle and certainly wouldn't be blowing on it in unison. They would be calmly and competently dealing with the issue.

What is actually wrong with taking the moral high ground, recognising our international obligations and "doing the right thing" by the boat people?

Why would our government do it's utmost to chase after and appeal to the uninformed bogan and racist elements in our society - who have been geed up by an unprincipled opposition, a fugly talk back radio crowd and Rupert's editors?

Answer me that Virginia?

Because the only possible outcome will be a further decline in their popularity. And if they had any thinkers' on the case they would already know that.

Secondly, the national accounts for the June Qtr will be published this week. Now I don't have any inside knowledge - but I believe that the numbers will show negative growth. And after the March Qtr this will be the second consecutive quarter of negative growth - resulting in a technical recession.

And who do you think will get the blame for that?

Now I don't want to be a party pooper but don't you think it would be more productive for our government to be "talking about" and "doing stuff" around the big issue known as "The Economy" rather than appearing to be pre-occupied with the relatively minor issue of "asylum seekers"?

Just asking.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Spice Girls

What is the role of our Federal Government? Is it to deliver some quality governance or is it to be another player in a grubby game of politics with the agenda set by others? Serious question Virginia.

Some of us think that our team of ministers and officials and advisers and the various bureaucracies overseen by the Prime Minister ought to be engaged in a process of understanding big issues and making important decisions for and on behalf of the people of the nation.

Paul Keating did it - and many Australian's expect our Labor governments to at least aspire to his standard.

They ought to be in the business of understanding the risks to the nation and taking action to minimise them - of identifying future opportunities and working out how to maximise them - while protecting our quality of life and keeping us safe and employed.

But they seem to have given up on that. Apparently now it’s everyone for themselves.

There is nothing in the official script of government or even the constitution about playing silly games with unprincipled opposition leaders.

Or attempting to implement stupid policy like the "Malaysian Solution". Or even berating the high court judges who decided that it was illegal.

An illegal policy to deal with illegal boat arrivals - is that clever or dumb?

There used to be an important rule of government - "think" before "acting". But like much Labor history that rule seems to have been forgotten in the populist rush. Or in this case unpopular.

Just because no-one in the opposition is capable of doing any thinking doesn't mean that the actual government can get away with it too.

The real problem for the Prime Minister is that she obviously doesn’t have the nous to deal with these issues - and seems to have surrounded herself with a bunch of sycophants. They should form a band - it could rival the "Spice Girls".

That's the other important rule of being in government - if you don't "know" then find some "people" who do - and listen to them.

But why would anyone offer advice - when no-one in this government seems to listen.

Instead this PM and her crew continue to follow the opposition down every nasty little rat hole they can find.

Good luck with that then.