Monthly Archives: July 2012

Sunset before Yea

Minus two near Heathcote (iPhone)

A field near Wagga (well, nearer Henty)

Rules for thee not me

The Liberals and their cheerleaders at The Australian are trying to beat up a smear on the Greens for – like both big parties when they get treasury costings of prospective policies – supporting Treasury not releasing those costings. (Note that neither The Australian nor the Liberals are actually advocating for the rules to be changed and their treasury costings to be released, so this is just a game of We Called You A Hypocrite First.)

If such costings could be obtained under FOI, Senator Milne said, it would mean parties would be unable to “get a reliable costing to make a decision”.

As in – we’re talking about costings of prospective policies. Is it a bad idea for parties to be able to submit policies for costing before they decide whether to adopt them or not, without fearing that they’ll get smeared by opponents for considering something that costings subsequently cause them to decide against?

In an honest media environment, of course, the fact that a party had considered something it subsequently decided against would be unremarkable, and it wouldn’t matter what the costings said because how do you smear a party for something being expensive if that’s why they decided against it? But in this media environment… I can see why parties knowing mere consideration of a policy is enough to get you damned for it might cause them to refuse to submit policies for costing by treasury, and instead rely on dodgy firms friendly to them (like the Liberals do).

I suspect this is another of those situations where the Greens are forced to act within the system they want to change. They want caps on political donations, but will accept large ones (from people who are supportive of their existing policy positions) in the interim, because if they didn’t they’d have no chance of competing with those that do. They want transparency in treasury costings – but for all parties, not them alone.

It would be hypocrisy if they wanted the system to apply to everyone but them. It would be a betrayal of principle if, once they got inside the tent, they stopped advocating for those reforms, or actually voted against them. And that would be the point at which I stopped supporting them.

But this beat-up by people who believe 1.5 million Greens voters should be excluded from having a single representative in the House of Representatives is clearly not that point.

Delivering everything for everyone without compromise

Victorian ALP leader Daniel Andrews, quoted by a hack at News, delivers a weirdly ironic sledge at the Greens:

While some in the ALP have taken a different path, my style was not to hurl abuse at the Greens. Instead, we calmly challenged the Greens’ central premise that they can deliver everything for everyone without compromise.

The Greens don’t pretend they can represent left-wing voters and right-wing voters simultaneously: they proudly stand for public services funded by adequate taxation. They do compromise, but not to the extent of betraying what they promised voters before an election.

Those two problems are precisely what’s wrong with both “big church” parties, unavoidably, entirely by design. Even with an electoral system designed to produce majorities when there is no party that has majority support from the population, in order to get that precious majority with which they don’t have to negotiate with anyone in parliament they still need to trick people on opposite sides into voting for them. They tell everyone they can represent them. We’ll do just what you want, and you, and you, and you! Just vote for us!

“Everything for everyone”, indeed. Must be that weird thing where you deflect from your own flaws by accusing someone else of them first.

Festival of Gerard’s Ideas

Cranky old typist Gerard Henderson – oh, sorry, “his dog” – lists some notions he’d like to see discussed at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas. The problem is, what discussion could suggestions so asinine really prompt?

Here’s Nancy’s suggestions for some really dangerous ideas which would challenge leftist sensibilities. Namely: (i) “Abortion Is Murder”, (ii) “If We All Become Gay, Western Civilisation Will End”, (iii) “George W. Bush is America’s Greatest President and Tony Blair is Britain’s Greatest Prime Minister”, (iv) “If The Arab States Were As Good as Israel, The Middle East Would Be A Better Place”, (v) “Julian Assange Should Stand Trial For Treason In the United States”, (vi) “Germaine Greer Has Become A Dreadfully Boring Media Tart”, (vii) “Only Re-Colonisation Can Solve Africa’s Problems”, (viii) “Private Schools Are Best”, (ix) Human Induced Climate Change Is A Load Of Crap”, (x) “Greed Is Good and (xi) “Vietnam Was a Just War”.

i) Can Gerard – sorry, “Nancy” – genuinely not see a distinction between abortion and murder? He thinks someone who shoots a person in cold blood is no worse than a woman who takes a pill that separates a collection of cells post-conception from her own womb? Maybe Gerard would like a discussion on the subject “A Pregnant Woman Is A Walking Incubator Owned By The State Without Rights To Her Own Body”.

ii) Who’s suggesting we “all” become gay? When we finally legislate marriage equality, does Gerard envisage divorcing Anne and shacking up with a bloke? Is Gerard’s opposition to marriage equality because he thinks gay marriage will become compulsory? Wow, that’s a misconception that should be easy to clear up. And with his apparently main concern resolved, well… Welcome aboard, Gerard!

iii) Who’s going to argue the pro- side for this ridiculous proposition? Do even conservatives believe either of those claims? Does Gerard? I’d have thought he’d prefer Reagan and Thatcher to Bush and Blair. AND LET’S NOT MENTION THE GFC.

iv) Well, yes, a region of semi-democracies with some approximation of the rule of law would be better than a region of brutal, unstable dictatorships ruling over impoverished citizens – but it would still be a terrible place. It’d still be a collection of militarist countries founded on religious bigotry in which human rights are regularly abused. It’s pretty pathetic that the defenders of Israel make excuses for its atrocities by looking over the fence and whinging, as a petulant child, “but those guys are worse!” Of course they are, but that’s no excuse for your behaviour. And unlike the disenfranchised masses in those countries, most of your citizens are in a position to demand much better. In the same way, Gerard, you and Tony criticise the Australian government and would be unimpressed by its defenders responding with “hey, if the US/UK governments were as good at managing economies as Australia’s, the world would be a better place”.

v) Julian Assange stand trial for “treason” in the US? Why? Julian’s not a citizen of the US. How can you be a “traitor” to a country that isn’t even your own? Also – would you rather the US military got to blow up journalists and cover it up? (It’s okay, you don’t need to answer that.)

vi) True. Who’s going to defend Germaine’s recent celebrity appearances?

vii) Hey, Forget The Last Two Hundred Years, We’re Better At It Now! Trust Us! Has Gerard ever actually met anyone from Africa?

viii) Perhaps at the moment “Private schools are best” – but that’s the problem. Better than what precisely – public schools? So what happens to those kids? The question is why should any child be denied that quality of education? Because that’s precisely what the charging of fees for schooling does. It excludes children on the basis of their parents’ ability or willingness to pay. Gerard wants fortunate kids to have a “better” education than other kids. He might be perfectly happy to ignore the consequences for those kids, that disadvantage at the elementary level of their basic education – but he can’t then pretend that we live in a meritocracy.

ix) …Because The Atmosphere Magically Can Take Without Consequence Absolutely Anything We Throw At It.

x) Somebody take Gerard’s stuff and see how much he likes other people’s greed.

xi) Vietnam a “just war”? In what way?

Amusingly, Gerard’s understanding of debate is that the “pro” question be framed in a way with which he agrees – his “abortion is murder” suggestion is pretty much exactly the same topic as the “a foetus is not a person” discussion the Festival is actually going to have and that he complains about.

If Gerard’s planning on having a forum at his “Sydney Institute” where people are actually given the opportunity to argue with him on these or any of the above topics, he should let us know.

PS “Can you bear it?” at the end of each section? Well – can you?

What, it’s going to become a photoblog or something?

Oh yes, AnonymousLefty! What to do with this? I’m sure you’ve been listening to the highly-rated Something Wonky podcast – but you might be wondering what’s going to happen with this blog.

Don’t know yet.

Will let you know when I do.

In the meantime, we’re busy packing for our move to Wagga.

You know when you’re sad at what you’re leaving behind but also incredibly excited and impatient about the great opportunity that’s starting next? That’s the one.