Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Five Big Issues

Now that the Opposition have demonstrated their complete incompetence after two days of irrelevant questions in the Parliament - do you think there is a chance for the Parliament to get back to looking out for the nation and the people?

No - didn't think so.  Jeez Australia we seem to have acquired an Opposition with no skills or policies and no idea and a Government that talks big but delivers small.

Really how is it possible for example to talk incessantly about Gonski - and then have no plans to fund it?  Nothing can get done while both the Government and the Opposition focus on those magical powers of a "Budget Surplus".  Look I know that weird conservatives think a surplus is mandatory - but what is Labor's excuse?  How did we end up with this circus?

In the absence of any leadership or focus on the big issues - I thought that I would bring my own.  So here are five things that I reckon we should have an adult conversation about in the lead-up to the next election.

Just watch as politicians duck and weave around them.

* The US Alliance - Firstly what is it - what are we Australian's committed to - and who committed us?  When we understand those things then we need to have a proper conversation about what we want it to be and how we can get it there.  If you want to see a politician squirm then ask them these questions.

* Climate Change - It's very clear that our feeble attempts to date are not enough.  We need to get serious about this issue and actually do something of substance.  It won't matter if the next Government is Labor or Liberal - both will need to step up and take the people with them.  Trouble is neither of the current political leaders have the neurons or the cojones.  The carbon tax is here to stay - and it probably needs to get bigger soon - regardless of the views of the fossil fuel industry.  Watch as your politicians run away from this one.

* War Initiation - I am personally not going to handle it very well if either Abbott or Gillard were to commit us to another half-arsed war - without any discussion or approval by the Parliament.  All Members of Parliament should take a similar position - why wouldn't they? We citizens need to fix this - because it appears that our politicians won't - they will send your kids off to die but they won't discuss it with you beforehand.  Remember that when next you vote.

* Our Expectations of Government - Government's can't do very much because they have offloaded important assets and outsourced major services.  But they won't ever acknowledge that.  It's all part of keeping you in the dark and fed maximum BS.  So we need to take the lead and have a proper conversation - about what we expect from Government.  And when we have agreement then we ought to instruct our politicians.  Or if they like they can participate - but we the people should set and drive the agenda.

* Fixing our Media - Lord leveson is about to report on Uncle Rupert's unpleasant little fantasy in the UK.  Instead of tripping around the issues here - we need to take a proper stand and make our media accountable.  No if's, no buts, no maybe's.  Just do it.

If we had a political class who were genuinely interested in looking out for our nation - then we wouldn't need to raise these things.  But we don't.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Julia Gillard

I don't have much time for Julia Gillard.  Not because of her gender or her state of origin or her history as a lawyer for the union movement or even her time as a political staffer.  It's not personal with me.

It's because I don't believe she is up to the job - I just don't think that she is a genuine leader or that she even has the interests of the nation or the people at heart.  She simply doesn't have the experience or the political nous that the job requires - and she demonstrates that almost every day.

And no amount of "tough as nails" talk will change that.

I think she is just a junior politician who is out of her depth - along with most of the rest of the Federal Labor crew.  Which pretty much explains why she and her party are on the nose with large numbers of voters.  Smarter folks than I have analysed the problem and even written books about it.  Perhaps she should read one of them.

Her political judgement has been so poor that for two years now she has been chasing Abbott and the opposition down every nasty little rat-hole that they can find.  As if that was ever going to be a path to glory.

If she isn't damaging the economy by pursuing a "Budget Surplus" then she is damaging people by incarcerating them on Nauru.  Or sucking up to the US and shafting Assange.  What on earth were she and the Cabinet thinking?

And now the Libs smell blood and think they will nail her over events from her union days.  And the entire media circus are on the case because they think the Libs might be able to pull it off.

The reason that Abbott and the Libs have adopted their "Batshit Crazy" approach to opposition is because they know that Gillard will steal the juicy bits.  She does that because she has no "intellectual argument" of her own to offer voters - all she can do is chase after the same racist and pig-ignorant voter that Abbott has targeted.

And by stealing the Libs "Batshit Crazy" agenda - what she has actually done is destroy her own credibility.

Like I said a junior politician - out of her depth.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Bogan hunting day

Today must be bogan hunting day.  How else to explain why both Abbott and Gillard have ramped up the rhetoric and are continuing to beat up on asylum seekers.

Abbott is still calling asylum seekers "illegals" and wants them to join the "work for the dole" scheme to stop them acquiring a "welfare" mindset while they spend 5 years waiting to be re-settled.

Gillard doesn't yet know what to do with them because she hasn't yet read the Libs nasty new plan - and the morons on the Labor right haven't yet told her what to say.  But when she does say something you can rest assured that she will try to outdo Abbott.

These two gutless wonders are a national disgrace.

Abbott is just an opportunist - who thinks that he can weasel his way back into Government with the help of the dogwhistle and the dimwitted.  And Gillard is just not up to the job.

Their lack of international experience is how they got us into this mess in the first place and also why they don't understand how their behaviour damages our nation.

The sooner we are rid of them both - the better.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

It's a sick little state Virginia

So what do you do when your personal circumstances change and your income reduces?

Do you slow your spending a bit - look for smart ways to trim expenditure and seek out clever ways to make your dollar go further?

That is what most of us would do - but it's not what some Australian State Governments are doing.

After living high on the hog for much of the past decade - creaming it in with ever increasing GST and Stamp Duty charges - those State Government revenue streams have flattened and their growth has slowed.  Because much of it was driven by the *unmentionable* housing ponzi.

So what have the various States done to accommodate their new circumstances?  Well in South Australia they have gone after new revenue.  And very creative they are too - because there is really only one way for them to capture new revenue.  And that is by taking it out of your pocket.

So Government fares, fees, fines and other charges are growing - at a rate that is way beyond reasonable.  Plus they are manufacturing new rules and laws that result in you wearing new and excessive costs.

I have had a couple of personal experiences recently that left me gobsmacked - their revenue grab is way out of control.

This particular state has no shame.  If the Opposition were even half competent they would already be in power.

Question: "What are we citizens supposed to do when the Government is milking us and the Opposition thinks the solution is to slash and burn Government services"?

It's a sick little state Virginia.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Swinging Voter

I really do wonder how smart our political parties and their leaders actually are.

What seems to drive their approach is the so called *smart* polling and analysis of that magical being - the "swinging voter".

By definition a "swinging voter" is the opposite of a "rusted on" voter.  Apparently, he or she chooses a candidate at election time - based on analysis of the offerings of our political parties.

And people in the backroom think that they have an understanding of who the "swinging voter" is - and as a result they cause *batshit crazy* policy contortions to be adopted by their party - all in order to attract said swinger.

I just don't believe it.  If that is how the political parties operate then I think they have got it terribly wrong.

Firstly, there are few actual "swinging voters" who make choices based on policy alone.  There are many folks however who don't follow politics regularly and who make their mind up at the last possible moment - when they are in the polling booth.

The best way to capture these votes would be to "bribe them with actual cash" or with something else that causes them to recall your political party at the entrance to the booth.  Because they don't give a rats about your actual policy.  This question should be the subject of a couple of dozen PhD's at our Universities ;-)

Secondly, there are lots of thinking voters who are pissed off that our political parties adopt *batshit crazy* policy.  These are engaged voters who think that politics ought be about taking the high road and looking out for the nation and the people.  They hate the fact that the party they are going to vote for has compromised its policy - in order to attract a "swinging voter".

Some of these voters will go elsewhere if your *batshit crazy* policy is too-far off the wall.  Question to politician: Why would you chase after the fickle voter and risk losing the thinking voter?

I suspect that the so-called *smart* analysis by the political parties really isn't.  And if the parties had half a blue clue then they would have already worked that out.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Game of Illusion

More than anything else politics is a game of illusion.

Which is why politics and the media are so intertwined - they need each other to reinforce the myths that they have both created - and to keep we citizens in the dark.

For a long time this little game was rather subtle - the illusions that were conjured up were at least partially believable and as a result, the attempts of the political class to treat citizens like mushrooms were mostly successful.

But I sense that is changing - and rather quickly.

The most obvious example of an unbelievable illusion (or was it delusion) was the failed attempt by the Republicans to manipulate their way into the Presidency.

In Australia there are lots of examples - but one stands out in my mind.  That magical "Budget Surplus" so beloved by Liberal party conservative politicians.

The Liberal party have been banging on about "debt and deficit" for decades.  Few of them actually know anything about how an economy works - but they do know how Dr Goebbels and his "big lie" work.

"The essential leadership secret does not depend on particular intelligence, it depends on a remarkably stupid thick-headedness.  When one lies, one should lie big and stick to it, even at the risk of looking ridiculous".

They have learn't how to use the "big lie" and they repeat it - endlessly.  To the extent that "low information voters" actually believe it.

And our Labor party - yes Virginia the one that actually gets to pull the levers and decide how the economy is run - is so intimidated by the "big lie" that they have also decided to pursue that magical "Budget Surplus".  They are so scared that the "low information voter" will punish them when next we get to vote that they now own the "big lie".

So tell me again why we would want a Labor government if all they do is implement Liberal conservative policy because they aren't smart enough to create their own illusion?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Royal Commission

I don't know if a wide ranging Royal Commission is such a good idea.  I would have thought that a robust inquiry into the antics of the Catholic Church and its "camp followers" would be a good starting point and appropriate place to focus.  And if that unearthed major wrongdoing in other organisations - then revisit the terms of reference and broaden the inquiry.

Because the way things are looking the Royal Commission will take decades to complete and it will consume $millions of your tax dollars.  Most of the perps will be pushing up daisies by the time it issues findings.  And lots of lawyer profiles will be built on its process.  Does the world really need more "politically savvy lawyers"?

And if a "camp follower" were to accidently become Prime Minister in the meantime then he would probably strangle its funding.

Plus Cardinal Pell has form with obfuscation.  He has devoted lots of personal effort and time to the "climate change denial" industry - documented here and here.  Why wouldn't he deny reality at the Royal Commission as well?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

1954 Fantasy

The Liberals *batshit crazy* approach to opposition is going to bury them.  Just like it buried their mates the Republicans yesterday.  They have no choice really but to discard their crazy right wing fantasy - and head back toward the centre of Australian politics - and reality.  But I fear they won't see it that way.

It's pretty clear to all rational observers that the re-election of Obama has blown a huge hole in the approach of the far right.  They deluded themselves that the 2008 result was an aberration.  Somehow they reasoned that the people got it wrong when they elected a black man to the white house - and all they had to do was stand firm and the voters would come home to "daddy" in 2012.

And now that it is all over and Obama has wiped the floor with them - they are shell shocked.

It's bad enough for the Republicans.  I doubt that they will recover - certainly not within the next term because they have no reality based thinkers to help them understand where they went wrong.  And their so called "think tanks" don't actually do any thinking.  In their eyes they didn't do anything wrong - it was the people who stuffed up - again.

And Faux News will relentlessly push that theme for the next four years - or until Uncle Rupert dies.

And my guess is that Australian Liberal's will be caught in the same trap.  The few actual thinkers in the party are all seriously outnumbered by the far right - and by the opportunists who thought they could smell a "ministerial post" under Abbott.

But as with the Republican fantasy - the Liberal fantasy will fade badly as we get closer to an election - and the real strategic thinkers start to deliver the goods for other parties.

The Liberals will be left with their main cheerleader Uncle Rupert - hanging onto a plan of misinformation, half truths, lies and made up BS - designed to appeal to "low information voters".  Because they actually believe that they can "fool some of the people - all of the time".

Probably because it has worked so well for them in the past - and Uncle Rupert has built his fortune on it.

The trouble is that the people have moved on - but the old white conservative males who run things are still locked into 1954.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Insider Knowledge

There was a time in a prior life when I was enthusiastic about the Melbourne Cup - in fact any form of *beast* racing.

That was because I had a system.  It was a complicated system that used huge amounts of data to build *predictive models* of a race event - and then used those models to find a selection of *beasts* that would likely be at the front of the field - toward the end of the next race.

And then I used that selection in multiple exotic bets - mainly trifecta's and first four's.

This was my "pseudo scientific" approach to gambling.  And it usually worked - wins were much more numerous than losses.  For a couple of years it became my primary source of income - but that is another story.

But what quickly became apparent is that the data collection was onerous and time consuming.  To be a consistent winner - huge amounts of data are required - some of which is not obvious to the casual punter.  Weather and track condition and *beast* temperament are quite significant factors - which the form guides never seem to reliably quantify.

But the most significant factor - has to do with "the insider problem".  The industry folks who work and live with *beasts* have insight that is difficult to reliably capture in *predictive models*.

I stopped mucking about with it all when I realised that I couldn't reliably capture that insider knowledge.

But that hasn't stopped others from trying.

The Macquarie Equities Research folks have a good track record - and today they recommend - 1 Dunaden, 24 Kelinni, 15 Maluckyday, 20 Lights of Heaven, 2 Americain and 12 Galileo's Choice.

If you are feeling adventurous then a few trifecta's built with these numbers might be fun.

PS: You know what is hilarious - I won $150 on the sweep at my local pub - with #14 the winner.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Truth Tax

All state governments are moaning about their *revenue* problem and some - like South Australia - have used the opportunity to fleece the poor and vulnerable in their community.

Well state premiers do I have a solution for you.  It's called the truth tax - and here's how it works.

* You tell a lie - then you pay the tax - which is $100.

* Or more correctly - the tax is $100 for every *person* who is exposed to your lie.

So if you, premier - were to tell a little white lie to your spouse and it was discovered then you pay the $100.  But if you were to lie to a reporter say or in front of a television camera - then the tax is $100 times the number of readers or viewers of the resulting story.

And if Uncle Rupert's editor insists on yet another BS front page about how "we'll all be rooned by this government" then the tax due will be $100 multiplied by that rags' circulation.

You get the picture.  It starts on 1st January next - so you have got plenty of time to prepare.  You will probably need to stock up on lots of soap and water.

But look on the bright side.  In the case of South Australia - your entire *revenue* problem would be fixed after about a month - if News Ltd. keeps printing Uncle Rupert's local Sunday newspaper ;-)

Friday, November 2, 2012

Fat, dumb and happy

In South Australia we have a state government that has been enthusiastically beating up the "bikies" and the "hoons" - and now they are about to start on the "poor".  Who's next?

So if you are a South Australian and have "outstanding fines" - then the Attorney-General is going to sell your house and/or your car out from under you to recover the money.  Because apparently the state needs it more than you.

This is a state that has perfected the art of "scamming" its citizens with "fear and penalty" programmes and outrageous fines - for quite minor breaches of their "manufactured" laws.

It's also a state where incomes and job security are amongst the lowest in the nation - and where government "scams and associated fines" are amongst the highest.

I am pretty sure that they have a couple of hundred public servants in an office somewhere dreaming up yet more "quite ridiculous" fear and penalty systems - to scam some more revenue from you.

And it's like that for two reasons.

1.  The South Australian Government has been in power for far too long - and like all long term governments - they have become fat, dumb and happy.  Not to mention arrogant.  And frankly the Opposition are worse - because they are even less interested in looking out for the people of the state.

2.  And the people who live in the state are too scared to speak up.  They have been intimidated and cowed.  And most state politicians misread that as "approval" to proceed with their dingbattery.

The truth is that the state is a basket case - mostly due to inept politicians on all sides.  I would love to hear someone dispute this - any takers?

So my advice to the people who live there is simple.  Leave and go somewhere else.  Take your family and your ideas and your assets and go where your contribution is valued.

Or at least go somewhere where you won't be assaulted by the state on a daily basis.

PS: I am happy to debate "anyone" - who thinks the state government is on top of it's game and looking out for the people.  Or even has half a blue clue ;-)

PS2: Yes - it's about time we had a real conversation about how to advance the state - and look out for the people - instead of letting the dingbats on the far right make *dumb* choices for us.