A worthy cause

What kind of idiot would rather donate to the Liberal Party to fight against paying a levy to help their fellow Australians, than pay a levy to help their fellow Australians?

The kind of idiot who Tony Abbott represents, apparently:

Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has sent an email encouraging people to donate money to the Liberal Party’s campaign against the Government’s proposed flood levy.

I suppose I’d be more surprised by that if the Liberal Party support base wasn’t filled with people who’d pay an accountant $2000 to save them $1000 in tax.

These are people with really warped priorities.

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88 responses to “A worthy cause

  1. Because the levy will hurt the economy overall (as admitted by most left wing economists), whereas a donation will not?

    Look. The levy will reduce the expenditure of the average consumer, as they will have less disposal income. This will reduce consumption. This will lead to a fall in aggregate demand. Which will lead to less sales. Businesses will have less revenue, and will be forced to cut back, and the first thing to go are jobs, so employment will go down. Which will feed back into the cycle.

    Now, I know I’m a crazy free-marketer, but the argument I just put forward is the argument most left wing economist would agree with. The difference between us us that while I would prefer the reconstruction to be paid for by cutting spending elsesewhere, economists on the left would prefer it to be financed by government borrowing, ie going into deficit. BUT the critical point is that BOTH left and right economic analysis is that hte affects of the levy are bad, and it should be done in another fashion; I mean, when the best its defenders can come up with is “well, it’s trivial so it won’t matter _that_ much” , you know there are problems.

    Now, I’m not even getting into the problems with it crowding out the community sector, or the damage to civil society, but surely you can see that there is a genuine argument against the levy that is concerned about its aggregate effects, and isn’t simply wanting to cling onto a few extra dollars a week?

  2. (With all that being said, Abbot did kinda shoot himself in the foot today; that was just dumb)

  3. “Because the levy will hurt the economy overall (as admitted by most left wing economists), whereas a donation will not?”

    The levy will contribute to the economy by rebuilding infrastructure and providing jobs, whereas a donation to the Liberal Party will achieve precisely nothing positive.

    “The levy will reduce the expenditure of the average consumer, as they will have less disposal income.”

    Nooop. Sorry, lost me at the very beginning. The vast majority of consumers will be fine, as they’ll either not have to pay the levy at all, or they’ll have sufficient disposable income that they won’t notice the difference.

    “Now, I’m not even getting into the problems with it crowding out the community sector”

    The community sector is rebuilding infrastructure now? What absolute garbage. And even if it was a levy that was covering the same ground as the community sector – so much the better. This level of support for fellow Australians shouldn’t be left to charity. It’s a fundamental responsibility of government.

    “or the damage to civil society”

    What “damage to civil society”? Is the levy making you feel like going out and rioting?

    “but surely you can see that there is a genuine argument against the levy that is concerned about its aggregate effects”

    Nope. Your repeated invoking of hypothetical “left-wing economists” notwithstanding.

  4. “The levy will contribute to the economy by rebuilding infrastructure and providing jobs”

    No, expenditure will do that. A tax can not actually rebuild infrastructure in and of itself. It’s _a tax_.

  5. That’s the lamest retort ever. Obviously I mean the money collected by the levy which will be spent on those things.

  6. Okay. Good. So I’m glad we can now agree that a tax hike in and of itself doesn’t generate jobs. Phew! 🙂

    Now, considering the expenditure can be paid for in other ways, for instance, by extending the government deficit, it will have the same effects on generating jobs, right? Because it’s the expenditure that matters.

    So… considering that it’s the expenditure that is the important thing, why do we need a tax increase right now? Particularly as I note you did not address my points about its negative impacts?

  7. Yes, I did. I pointed out that your claims about the oppressive effect of the levy (on which the rest relied) were ridiculous.

    I have no problem with extending the deficit – although I’m willing to bet you “free market” types would bash the government hard if it did – but I recognise that there are other areas where necessary government expenditure is already constrained a lack of tax revenue, and frankly think it’s quite appropriate to recover some of the money to be expended on this specific incident directly, letting taxpayers know precisely what they’re paying for.

  8. The problem with saying that people will not be able to ‘notice the difference’, as you say, is that it doesn’t take into account the fact that decisions are made on the margin, often subconciously, for starters, and secondly that it’s the aggregate affect – not the individual one – that we are concerned about.

    To use a simple example: one person not buying a $3 coffee a week won’t make much of a difference to the cafe owner. Nor will it to the consumer.
    But 150 people not buying a coffee a week (150*3.0*50 = 22,500), will cause the owner to cut back on one staff member. And then you spread this accross the economy as a whole.

    Again, I concede it is a simple example, but hopefully it shows how a $3 a week difference may not mean much to an individual, but in aggregate this ads up?

  9. I’d quit while you’re behind Tom.

    The levy went fairly much unremarked upon when Howard did it. But when a labour government does the same thing all the right wing-nuts get themselves in a tizz.

    Now Australian Industry Group chief Heather Ridout, who isn’t exactly a lefty, said in the Business Spectator on 27 January, not exactly a lefty publication, the following:

    “Overall, the package of measures announced today for flood-affected communities strikes a reasonable balance between spending cuts and revenue raising. ”

    Be assured Tom the sun will rise in the morning and you’ll be able to get your inspiration from Andrew Bolt beating the drum on the levy. While the more considered of us , like Heather, will see it is no big deal.

    On the other hand, phony Tony’s disgraceful attempt at gaining some cheap political and financial advantage from the disaster will hopefully show him up for the callous hypocrite he is.

  10. Jeremy,
    A few points in response:

    1)The Howard Levies, which I can unequivocally say were wrong, and I can only apologies for the fact that at the age of 13 I was not aware of such things ot activly oppose them, at least did not come at a time of economic volatility. Westpac, for instance, predicts negative growth i nthe next quarter. When the economy is going gangbusters, it can cope with tax hikes. When it is a fragile state… not so much

    2)Seriously? You’re using Heather Ridout? Come on. You know perfectly well she’s a Labor stooge, and don’t bother denying it. She support Labor before the election, she supported Labor during the election, she supported Labor after the election. AIG is as representative as HR Nicholls is (to balance it with an org from my side).

    3)I can throw right back at you that Gillard is using this as an ecuse for “cheap political and financial advantage from the diasaster” to pay for her overspending. we can both use that line. So let’s cut the theatrics?

  11. Oops! Sorry Tim. I’d like to blame it on it being a typo as the letters on the keyboard are next to one another. But alas, not so. 😳

  12. Heather Ridout a labor stooge?! Now I really have heard everything.

  13. (no really, jokes aside, Ridout being a Labor corporatist stooge is something new to you?)

  14. @autonomy1 – I think I addressed a post to Jeremy which ought to have been addressed to you, so we’re even… well… you’re probably ahead as mine was a whole post misdirected, not just a typo, but anyway… 🙂

  15. @Jeremy – I mean, I know yo uare not a Labor person, but come on, surely you know the entire right (at the very very) least considers her as such, and no-one on the right/free-market intellectual debate takes her seriously or views her as anything more than a Labor corporatist hack, right?

    Please tell me we can agree on this… because if not… :/

  16. Tim, you may wish to engage in further study of economics. Aggregate demand does not get reduced by a levy that’s fully spent; it remains constant. C + I + G = Y, remember. Government borrowing would increase aggregate demand, which with unemployment near NAIRU estimates of ~4.5%-4.8% is likely to see increasing inflation, which will lead to contractionary monetary policy.

    Personally, I’d prefer to delay cuts to corporate tax levels to fund the rebuilding of infrastructure, as articulated by my local member.

  17. jordanrastrick

    Tim andrews, welcome to jeremy’s blog!

    I’m, ah, a bit drunk. But suffice to say –

    1) Rebuilding roads etc is surely one of the least objectionable causes for govenment spending, even for the most economically liberal of advocates.

    2) I agree more spending could be cut, but the government needs a reserve in case e.g. Yasi wipes out north qld. So a 1.8 billion dollar levy on a 1.3 trillion dollar economy (or whatever it is) is really a trivial thing in the scheme of things. Every government of the last 30 years “could” have made such cuts…. why are you so concerned about the fraction of a percent of the budget of this one?

  18. He seems to have done a bit of damage whilst backpedaling…
    http://topics.pe.com/article/0f7d2rcelvfcp?q=Tony+Abbott

  19. And Tim, if you’re still here, Moody’s has endorsed the flood levy. You may wish to reconsider your views.

  20. “… I can only apologies for the fact that at the age of 13 I was not aware of such things …”

    Ah, Young Liberals who have just finished an economics degree. What little treasures they are. They are the future of our nation. (“I’ve seen the future brother, it is murder.”)

  21. @bloods

    More like “Give me absolute control, over every living soul”

    If they weren’t complaining about the levy, they’d find something else to grizzle about.

  22. The market totalitarians.

  23. narcoticmusing

    The main problem with a levy/deficit/cuts (whatever your preferred revenue raising solution is) is that the Cth are useless at delivering value for money services. That statement is true regardless of who is in power – well perhaps we don’t know about if Liberals could buy infrastructure effectively because they never did – there version of getting the budget into surplus was to simply not build anything. Maybe this is why the departments under Labor rule don’t know how to manage infrastructure – no experience? Anyway, I digress…

    I also resent that a huge chunk of the ‘well balanced cuts’ are cuts to infrastructure promised to Victoria, who, as I recall, was also hit by floods… a massive bushfires (170+ dead)… and heatwave (200+ dead). Oh, but Victoria isn’t an election risk huh? So you are going for the Telstra approach of treat your existing customers like shit but be great to the new ones to lure them over? Nice.

    So are we to now assume that an election promise is only as good as the nearest crisis in a marginal electorate?

  24. narcoticmusing

    In response to Jeremy’s article however – I got a little off topic [blush] – J I couldn’t agree more. It is outrageous that Abbott – who promised a ‘kinder politics’ would use his position to raise money, not for flood victims, but for his own political party and agenda.

    Everytime I think I can’t despise Gillard anymore, Abbott turns up and makes her look like a true statesman. The ALP must be so relieved that Abbott keeps reminding everyone that there are worse things out there than Gillard. What a complete idiot.

  25. “here version of getting the budget into surplus was to simply not build anything.”

    And to apply levys.. Quite a few, gun buy back and Ansett spring to mind. It’s the born to rule mentality, it’s OK for the Libs to have levys but not the evil commie lefties. It’s rank hypocrisy but this is nothing new.

    “Oh, but Victoria isn’t an election risk huh?

    I reckon you’ve hit the nail on the head, in the Western Suburbs they want to link Dynon Road to the Western Ring Road, this had bipartisan support, at first it was going to be a flyover, wrecking many properties, then they settled on a tunnel to the relief of the residents but it appears that the Federal money for this has just evaporated (if it ever existed) the road will be built come what may, fact of the matter is that the Western Suburbs blindly and idiotically votes Labor, both parties realise this.

  26. I have two brothers and two sisters-in-law in the western suburbs of Melbourne. They give their preferences to Labor, but never blindly or uncritically. It’s just that the alternative is unthinkable.

  27. I’m a Greens voter myself (best – fit), Labor lives above Lib on my ballot but they are still way down the list. The take the electorate for granted because they know they can get away with it.

    Remember Labor’s attack on Les Twentyman? They really are a bunch of nasty pricks who are only marginally better than the Libs (IMO)

  28. jordanrastrick

    The main problem with a levy/deficit/cuts (whatever your preferred revenue raising solution is) is that the Cth are useless at delivering value for money services.

    This is an important point that is widely missed in our political discourse. The Commonwealth doesn’t actually do a lot of direct service delivery – they tend to just set policy and shuffle funds around to the States for them to spend. Where the feds do spend money themselves, because they lack experience, the results are often poor – Centrelink probably being the prime example.

    However one of the strengths of the Levy is that, unlike e.g. the insulation program which was genuinely badly managed, it looks like it will follow the model used for practically all successfully built government infrastructure. The Commonwealth raises the cash and gives it to the State to build the roads etc. Despite what people might say, Queensland isn’t bad at getting such things done. In fact none of the States are, not even NSW (infrastructure failures here being a result of constant toing and froing of where to allocate funds at a policy level, not because the RTA etc are bad at their jobs.)

    This ties neatly into narcoticamusing’s second very important point:

    That statement is true regardless of who is in power

    Its worth repeating this one over and over for emphasis. People have pointed it out on this blog and countless other places before, but no matter how often its said its routinely ignored by seemingly most people. The parties attacking one another mainly over delivery rather than policy at the end of the day is only so much bullcrap. Its the same bureaucracy carrying out the government’s instructions under the ALP or the Coalition. Over the decade or two of a very long lived government such as Howard or Carr/Iemma/Rees/Keneally, the top echelons of managment in the government departments will tend to change, as will the internal organisational structures; so there can be some noticable difference in the effectiveness of government. But the idea that the entire Commonwealth public sector just magically got more incompetent at building things or what have you the day the ALP was elected in 2007, and would get competent again if only Tony Abbott were to become PM tomorrow, is farcical. It’d be like changing the CEO of Telstra and saying 2 months later that all the engineers and customer service staff had been retained but were now only one quarter as good at their jobs as they used to be. Large institutions just don’t work that way – they have too much inertia.

  29. Splatterbottom

    Bloods: “I’ve seen the future brother, it is murder.

    Obviously when he wrote that song Leonard had leftists and other autocrats in mind rather than young Liberals:

    Give me absolute control
    over every living soul
    And lie beside me, baby,
    that’s an order!
    Give me crack and anal sex
    Take the only tree that’s left
    and stuff it up the hole
    in your culture
    Give me back the Berlin wall
    give me Stalin and St Paul
    I’ve seen the future, brother:
    it is murder.

  30. “Obviously when he wrote that song Leonard had leftists and other autocrats in mind ”

    Like the Pope? You know the ‘every living soul’ and ‘anal sex’ bit!

  31. Obviously. Folk singers are renowned for their hatred of leftists and left-wing causes.

  32. narcoticmusing

    jordanrastrick – exactly! It boggles to amaze me how little people understand about how government works (ooo is this the part where we form an angry mob to demand the return of civics into the curriculum?). Courts get blamed for low sentences but it is the legislature that set the min and max (where the max is obviously only intended for the worst case not the normal case). Legislatures get blamed for decisions of bodies that are by definition independent (such as Courts despite separation of powers; the reserve bank, audior general’s office, etc etc). Government’s get blamed for implementation screw ups when this is the executive arm/department’s. Department’s get blamed for bad policy when the decisions are the responsibility of Government.

    [sigh]

  33. narcoticmusing

    lol just re-read my own comment, I don’t know what the hell ‘it boggles to amaze me’ means but I’m sure it is a left conspiracy.

  34. “give me Stalin and St Paul”

    Interested in your take on this line SB. As a Catholic, you understand.

  35. Also, how about this one from elsewhere:

    “I’m neither left nor right/
    I’m just stayin’ home tonight/
    Gettin’ lost in that hopeless little screen”

  36. “Take the only tree that’s left/
    and stuff it up the hole/
    in your culture”

    Warmist alarmism, clearly.

  37. Splatterbottom

    Buns there are always a few hacks who subordinate their art to their political objectives. The great artists don’t, which is why blind idiot ideologues screamed “Judas” at Bob Dylan in 1966.

    Great artists rise above pedestrian politics. They see through the bullshit and speak to the human condition. When every juvenile leftist was fawning over the latest communist revolutionary John Lennon said:

    You say you got a real solution
    Well, you know
    We’d all love to see the plan
    You ask me for a contribution
    Well, you know
    We’re doing what we can
    But when you want money
    for people with minds that hate
    All I can tell is brother you have to wait

    But if you go carrying pictures of chairman Mao
    You ain’t going to make it with anyone anyhow

    This is symbolic of a wider problem: the world is too complex for the simple minds of ideologues who prefer to huddle together under some label rather than actually thinking through the issues for themselves.

  38. “Obviously when he wrote that song Leonard had leftists and other autocrats in mind rather than young Liberals”

    First of all SB, let’s dispose of the obvious trolling sleight-of-hand that you obviously thought was so subtle and clever: the phrase “leftists and other autocrats”. You couldn’t have just said “autocrats”, could you? Might not have got a reaction, and we couldn’t have that.

    Secondly, as an admirer of Cohen’s work, you should know better than to think that an artist with such a breadth of vision would lower himself to make a political point as petty as that. His work over the better part of six decades demonstrates clearly an acute insight into human nature that could never be encapsulated by crude political categorisations.

    Thirdly, accordingly, the metaphorical villain portrayed in this lyric embraces a very wide variety of psychopathic political types, and this certainly includes many of the Young (and old) Liberals I’ve encountered. The images that spring to my mind when I hear this lyric include people like Howard, Rumsfeld, Murdoch, ALP apparatchiks, the entire line-up of the IPA and HR Nicholls Society and George Pell just as much as Lenin, Stalin, Poo-tin or Brezhnev. They are all totalitarians in their way.

    Finally, another lyric of Cohen’s amplifies this point:
    “I can’t run no more/
    with that lawless crowd/
    while the killers in high places/
    say their prayers out loud/
    But they’ve summoned up a thundercloud/
    and they’re gonna hear from me…”

  39. “… the world is too complex for the simple minds of ideologues who prefer to huddle together under some label rather than actually thinking through the issues for themselves.”

    And of course, a man who sees all political thought that deviates from liberal or conservative verities as blinkered ideology, and all leftists as blind idiots who can’t think for themselves, could never be accused of being an ideologue. Doctrinaire, dogmatic, obsessively one-sided perhaps, but an ideologue? Never!

  40. “Great artists rise above pedestrian politics.”

    I guess you are now going appoint yourself as the arbiter of who is and isn’t a great artist:

    John Lennon?

    Wagner? (A centrist just like you)

    Picasso? (I doubt you’d like that lefty)

    Dali? (filthy commie anarchist)

    etc etc

  41. I loved John Lennon’s music, but when he ventured into politics or philosophy or spirituality, he was as blinkered and untutored as the most callow Young Liberal.

  42. Splatterbottom

    Bloods: “The images that spring to my mind when I hear this lyric include people like Howard, Rumsfeld, Murdoch, ALP apparatchiks, the entire line-up of the IPA and HR Nicholls Society and George Pell just as much as Lenin, Stalin, Poo-tin or Brezhnev. They are all totalitarians in their way.”

    Talk about sleigh of hand! Bad as Howard was, he is not in the same category as Stalin. The future will be a lot more murderous under sharia law than under any secular democracy. You need to get a sense of proportion.

  43. “Bad as Howard was, he is not in the same category as Stalin”

    Or Pinochet.

  44. “… he is not in the same category as Stalin.”

    SB, you’re more intelligent than that. You should remember that you’re supposed to read all of the post before you respond to it. The whole point of it was that this is not about categorisation, it’s about the desire we (yes, we) human beings have to control others and impose our will on them and on the natural world, the kind of quality that Andrew Bolt so admires about Alan Jones and the builders of Hong Kong:
    http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/just_in_case_you_thought_i_was_incoherent/

  45. So, speaking of categorisation, SB, what about that “Stalin and St Paul” line?

  46. Splatterbottom

    Rob J, the issue isn’t whether great artists take sides. They frequently do. The point is rather that their art betrays a deeper and more insightful understanding of the complexities of the issues. Phil Ochs was a committed leftist, yet he produced far more than propaganda, and wasn’t above impaling the hypocrisy of the soft left.

    Bloods, when Lennon sang those lines about Mao he was well ahead of the leftist elites of his day who were busy toadying to dictators.

  47. “sharia law ”

    That’d be right wing conservative Sharia Law… (or centrist in SB’s universe)

  48. “I loved John Lennon’s music, but when he ventured into politics or philosophy or spirituality, he was as blinkered and untutored as the most callow Young Liberal.”

    I agree, I like John Lennon’s music (well lennon & McCartney (& Harrison) , that he’s an artist doesn’t necessarily mean he’s worth listening to on other subjects (can you hear me Bono?)

  49. “Bloods, when Lennon sang those lines about Mao he was well ahead of the leftist elites of his day who were busy toadying to dictators.”

    What the fuck is a “leftist elite”? Why is there always more than one of them? Why do you use those stupid terms? You are right that Lennon was ahead of many of his fans and others of the time who, in the confusion created by America’s appalling record of spreading death, destruction, lies and deceit and corporate rapaciousness across the world, turned naively to anyone who opposed them, including some of the most murderous dictators in history. But it really wasn’t much different in principle (and given the relative youth of the people involved, probably far more excusable) from the American practice of siding with murderous dictators like Trujillo and Pinochet just because they happened to be anti-communist.

    Lennon spoke truth on that occasion, as he did from time to time, but he could also be very egotistical and wrong-headed, and despite the serious-mindedness he brought to his later work, it can never be compared to that of people like Dylan or Cohen.

  50. Splatterbottom

    Rob J, Howard is in a different category to Pinochet, who in turn isn’t quite in the same league as Stalin.

    Bloods: ” it’s about the desire we (yes, we) human beings have to control others and impose our will on them and on the natural world”

    It is matter of fact and degree. I want to impose my will on society, but only to the extent of having a society that maximises the liberty of all citizens to the extent that it doesn’t curtail the liberty of some. That is still a very different thing to what Castro or Mugabe are doing in their societies. When you use “we” of course we are all the same. We may all have a little of John Wayne Gacy inside us. Even so it is still better to distinguish the mildly kinky from the murderous perverts.

    The point is to put your efforts into combating the greatest threats, even if it means admitting that some aspects of the western tradition are superior to primitive theocratic ideas.

    As to Stalin and St Paul, I assume Cohen was referring to St Paul as a symbol of theocratic thinking rather than, say, St Paul’s early championing of freedom of conscience.

  51. Splatterbottom

    Rob J, how is Sharia as “right wing”?

  52. Buns there are always a few hacks who subordinate their art to their political objectives. The great artists don’t, which is why blind idiot ideologues screamed “Judas” at Bob Dylan in 1966.

    People were upset that he had turned to the electric guitar after previously playing only accoustic. It had nothing to do with politics.

  53. Anyway, we’ve indulged the thread-shitter for way longer than we should’ve. Anyone got anything to add about Tony Abbott’s calls for donations to his anti-levy campaign – you know, the subject of the thread? If not, perhaps we can call “time”, because the troll has already had plenty to eat this afternoon.

  54. “Rob J, how is Sharia as “right wing”?”

    It’s conservative DUH! (like Catholicism)

    “Rob J, Howard is in a different category to Pinochet, who in turn isn’t quite in the same league as Stalin.”

    Errr that’s what I said!

    Pinochet is still a murderous cunt. That he’s a right winger is probably why you rarely mention him. You bandy the name Stalin around as if we’re fans of him, you’re right Stalin was a prick, EVERYONE knows this so you can stop your constant ranting and whining. 🙂

  55. “As to Stalin and St Paul, I assume Cohen was referring to St Paul as a symbol of theocratic thinking rather than, say, St Paul’s early championing of freedom of conscience.”

    Oh, I assume he may also have had in mind Paul’s absurd fantasies about Jesus (who he never met, not even on the road to Damascus), his loathing of women, his hijacking of Jesus’ movement from his brothers and from Judaism, his anti-Jewish teachings …. the list goes on. Leonard is a very learned man. He would know about these things. I imagine that among Jewish people, Paul would be one of the better-known of the early Christian figures.

    I also think Cohen’s bracketing of Paul with Stalin has greater significance than you suggest, as if Stalin is in a sense one of his spiritual heirs, in the same way Hitler can be seen as heir to the virulently anti-Semitic traditions of many early and medieval “saints” (not to mention a few more contemporary examples).

  56. Splatterbottom

    Buns, at the time Dylan was sick and tired of being co-opted for political purposes. His early electric albums mark a trend away from Woody Guthrie style tracts on specific political issues to songs covering a more diverse palette of issues. It is precisely his rejection of his anointment as pied-piper for guilt-ridden white wankers that upset them so. The turn to electric music was a symbol of a deeper change. At least we got ‘Positively 4th Street’ by way of explanation of what Dylan thought of his former fans.

    RobJ do you think ‘right wing’ means conservative. Sounds like you are just throwing insults at random.

    Bloods, how can a murderous atheist be said to be a spiritual heir of St Paul. You are overreaching on that claim.

    As to Abbott, who gives a toss. Its just politics. Like the Gillard tax in the first place. Bot to mention the Greens’ proposal to make the coal industry pay.

  57. Just been perusing the ABC ‘Just In’ news. I see phony Tony is “standing by” the decision of the Liberals to use the Queensland disaster to financially benefit his party, describing it as “standard practice for political parties”.

    Does he take the crown from Billy McMahon as the biggest blockhead ever to lead the Tories.?

  58. “RobJ do you think ‘right wing’ means conservative. ”

    More so than ‘liberal’.

    “Sounds like you are just throwing insults at random.”

    Telling that you take offence. Ooops, sorry, I forgot you were a centrist.

  59. narcoticmusing

    sb – ‘bot to mention the Greens’… I am sure bot was a typo, but why does it seem such an apt description of Bob atm?

  60. I can tell you right now that SB will not admit that secular democracy can be legitimately associated with either side of politics, despite the reality that Australia’s overtly religious parties all self-identify as Right-wing.

    Remember – SB doesn’t really believe there is any such thing as ‘right-wing’. The only political group he identifies is leftists; everyone else is loosely categorised as centrists.

  61. I did my best to return it to “on topic”, Jeremy.

    Seems ‘Splatter’ has found the right bait and returned with a fine catch today. 😉

  62. “Bloods, how can a murderous atheist be said to be a spiritual heir of St Paul. You are overreaching on that claim.”

    SB, it might have something to do with his savage butchering of the sublime teaching of Jesus. He did more than any other single individual to give us the travesty that calls itself Christianity today.

    “Seems ‘Splatter’ has found the right bait and returned with a fine catch today.”

    What’s it matter? It’s just a conversation.

  63. Splatterbottom

    Mondo, I do admit that “secular democracy can be legitimately associated with either side of politics” although I’m not quite sure what your point is.

    As a general proposition it seems that the term ‘leftist’ is a label some people aspire to. They bandy about such terms as ‘leftist thought’ acknowledging that they indulge in something different to normal thought. ‘Right Wing’ is little more than an epithet flung about by leftists. It doesn’t mean anything. What we have is a self-identifying group who call themselves leftists on the one hand, and everyone else on the other. This other group includes, but is not limited to centrists. There are indeed specimens of diseased thinking that are not leftist, but these are sui generis.

    Autonomy, it was bloods who tried to co-opt Leonard Cohen for his petty political purposes. No decent person could stand idly by in the face of such an outrage.

  64. Splatterbottom

    Bloods: “it might have something to do with his savage butchering of the sublime teaching of Jesus. He did more than any other single individual to give us the travesty that calls itself Christianity today.

    Yep. You are overreaching. St Paul has nothing to do with that lefty atheist Stalin.

  65. You have a lot of trouble seeing the links between the bastardised travesty known as Christianity and the two great tyrannies of the 20th century, don’t you SB? Is it because you prefer misrepresenting the beliefs of others to examining your own? Is it because Christianity=the Good Guys, and all forms of leftist thought=the Bad Guys (along with a few fellow-travellers like Muslims), and never the twain shall meet? Do you think it was purely by accident that communism and Nazism both arose in the culture we used to call Christendom?

    I’ve called your ideas Manichean before, and it’s never more apparent than in relation to your views on this topic. It’s like a wilful blind spot in your thinking: all that is good is on the side of liberal democracy, Christianity, liberal economics, and western philosophy; all that is evil is the work of the new Satan, the Lord of the Left. Nothing can bridge that great divide.

  66. Splatterbottom wrote:
    Autonomy, it was bloods who tried to co-opt Leonard Cohen for his petty political purposes. No decent person could stand idly by in the face of such an outrage.

    “Outrage” huh! Chuckle!

    You’re really having a great time engaging the Swans supporter, I’ll give you that. Pity it all has the most tenuous of links with the actual thread.
    😮

  67. “… petty political purposes…”

    I’d be interested to know what they might be, SB. I’m always interested in being told what I believe.

  68. “There are indeed specimens of diseased thinking that are not leftist, but these are sui generis.”

    Let me translate: Only leftists follow the ideas of others uncritically, i.e. without thinking for themselves. All those who follow the the ideas of others uncritically are therefore leftists.

    I can’t quite put my finger on what the problem is here, but
    something tells me there’s a flaw in the logic.

    Further translation: Other people with fucked-up ideas made them up all by themselves, and that is what distinguishes them from leftists.

    That is one fucked-up set of ideas SB, but at least they’re all your own.

  69. Splatterbottom

    Bloods: “You have a lot of trouble seeing the links between the bastardised travesty known as Christianity and the two great tyrannies of the 20th century”

    I do indeed. I really don’t see any connection here at all. I can see that Marxism comes from the Utopian hubris of dumb leftists who thought they had the answers and felt entitled to seize power to enforce their disfigured vision on humanity. Ultimately they fucked up and killed tens of millions in the process. I can see a connection between the need of leftists for coercive powers to implement their delusions, and the tyranny that followed from that, not in just one communist country, but in all of them. That fuckwits who propagandised on their behalf now occupy senior positions in the Greens is no real surprise either. What I did see is Christianity in the forefront of overthrowing Soviet hegemony in Eastern Europe.

    My assertion isn’t that only leftists follow ideas uncritically. I just don’t understand the urge to self-identify as leftist if the goal is critical thinking. It seems like a hangover from party loyalty. Better not to choose sides and to retain enough independence of mind to be disliked by all of them on some issues at least.

    The other great tyranny was driven by an excessive zeal for a racist and nationalist ideology. The lesson there is to beware of supremacists who want to dominate the world with their ideology. It is no surprise that the islamists and Nazis made common cause, although only the Germans seem to have learned the lesson. Hitler had more to do with socialism than Christianity.

  70. “My assertion isn’t that only leftists follow ideas uncritically”

    Yeah like those idiots that post at Bolt and Blair’s, those hotbeds of communism.

    “Hitler had more to do with socialism than Christianity.”

    LOL. SB just proved mondo rock and bloods05 point and then Godwined himself. 😀

    You’re articulate SB, you write better than me by a country mile but you are so full of shit, are you parodying yourself or just the right in general?

  71. As a general proposition it seems that the term ‘leftist’ is a label some people aspire to. They bandy about such terms as ‘leftist thought’ acknowledging that they indulge in something different to normal thought. ‘Right Wing’ is little more than an epithet flung about by leftists. It doesn’t mean anything. What we have is a self-identifying group who call themselves leftists on the one hand, and everyone else on the other.

    Nah, that’s bullshit that you just made up. There’s plenty of people out there who identify as “right-wing” and “conservative”. And there’s plenty more who actually are “right-wing” who think if they call themselves “centrist”, that somehow negates the fact that they are, in substance, right-wing, as evidenced by their adherence to 90% or more of standard right-wing beliefs.

  72. Well SB, at least you’re honest. But do you seriously assert that Nazi anti-Semitism had nothing to do with the centuries of Catholic and later Lutheran anti-Semitism?

  73. jordanrastrick

    Sigh – in a blog full of lefties, must I always be rushing to take sides with the person who almost certainly votes the exact opposite way to me?

    Godwins in a discussion that’s been largely about Stalin and Pinochet for the last 37 posts isn’t actually a fail, rob. Sometimes, Nazis are actually the topic of conversation. They sure werent in Jeremys OP, but you and bloods have easily done as much to move this into “evil dictators are the same as Tony Abbott or Bob Brown” kinda territory as SB has.

    The Cohen/Dylan/Lennon politcs stuff I’ll pass over, although it is a very interesting topic.

    Christianity must take the blame for a lot of fucked up shit, I feel, from the last two millennia of western civilisation. However the 20th century, not so much. Certainly not for Stalin, and largely not for Hitler except for certain branches not doing enough to resist him, which as an indictment applies to pretty much everyone.

    Christianity as a whole is no more responsible for every bad thing in our culture than it is for every good. “Nazis because Christianity” is even more tenuous than “science because Christianity”, and surely everyone including maybe I imagine SB thinks the latter is absurd.

    As far as the St Paul was a self-hating Jew argument, I buy it even less than I do for left-wing dissidents against current Israeli foreign policy. Mel Gibson is an anti-Semite. But Paul, whatever else you say about the plausibility or attractivenesss of his theology (and bloods, given some of the worst NT passages are from non-Pauline epistles, I don’t see how on earth you can justify the “Paul is responsible for every flaw and all the otter apostles were saints” view), is ultimately just a Jew who has a religious dispute with his cobelieving contemporaries. There’s no other fair reading of him. He used to get a bad rap amongst modern day Jews, sure, and that may well have influenced cohens lyric. But from what I can tell no serious Jewish scholar of Christianity today actually subscribes to the view anymore.

  74. “It is no surprise that the islamists and Nazis made common cause…”

    How do you explain the Vatican then? Or are you in denial about that as well?

  75. jordanrastrick

    PS Just to demonstrate I’m not reflexively taking SBs side, buns is completely correct calling out his fictitious horse poo about self-identifying leftists.

    And bloods, Luther was (at his peak intellectual influence) an anti-Semite. But that’s his mistake, not Pauls.

    Do you blame Kant for all of Maos actions, because Marx read him so much?

    Actually…. I think Russell did do that, in unpopular essays. He certainly took Plato and Hegel to task on such grounds. But he was only trying to show they were wrong and silly, not evil.

  76. Jordan, you’ve confused and conflated so many points in my arguments I don’t know where to start. So I won’t. Can’t be fucked. Suffice to say I didn’t say half the things you said I did.

  77. “Godwins in a discussion that’s been largely about Stalin and Pinochet for the last 37 posts isn’t actually a fail, ”

    It is a fail when SB on queue decides Hitler = Bad = left != Christian. It’s proving the point that SB only EVER criticises what he perceives as the left and claims to be a centrist.

    “but you and bloods have easily done as much to move this into “evil dictators are the same as Tony Abbott or Bob Brown”

    I disagree, I bought up Pinochet to highlight the FACT that SB ignores evil if it comes from the right, He correctly informed us that he wasn’t as bad as Stalin (Duh!) but he was still a piece of shit that was responsible for the murder of 3 000 and the torture of 30 000 others all the while being supported by people like Thatcher and Reagan.

  78. “..all the while being supported by people like Thatcher and Reagan.”

    Sadly, dictators are still being supported by such people.

    “Tony Blair: Mubarak is ‘immensely courageous and a force for good'”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/feb/02/tony-blair-mubarak-courageous-force-for-good-egypt

  79. Splatterbottom

    Buns, I think at least “conservative” has some meaning as reference to conserving ways of doing things. It may be a relativist way of doing things, but it has some meaning as an antonym to “radical”.

    “Right wing” seems to be devoid of content. Thus RobJ thinks Sharia law is right wing. I don’t understand what that means in this context other than that Rob doesn’t like Sharia.

    I can see how preserving Sharia law might be seen as conservative, but what does a conservative in that sense have in common with someone who wants to conserve enlightenment values?

  80. ” I think at least “conservative” has some meaning as reference to conserving ways of doing things.”

    Then why are almost all self styled “conservatives ” so deeply antagonistic to the conservation movement SB?

    Or to the union movement, who seek to conserve working conditions won by previous generations?

    Bob Brown and Teh Union Thugs are the real conservatives. 🙂

  81. “I don’t understand what that means in this context other than that Rob doesn’t like Sharia.”

    Just imagine you were right, you’d be praising me because this is exactly what you do, constantly! Else you’re a hypocrite (which you are anyway)

    “I can see how preserving Sharia law might be seen as conservative”

    Sharia Law is conservative because it doesn’t move with the times, just like John Howard who is a conservative (He’s a Liberal in name only, just like you’re a Christian in name only!)

  82. Speaking of which, the current batch of UK Conservatives are so non-conservative they are planning to sell off 258,000 hectares of state-owned woodland, despite evidence showing that they will lose money on the deal.

    Not very conservative IMO

  83. jordanrastrick

    Forgive me if I misrepresent, bloods. Posting from my phone on the bus always makes it harder to accurately refer back to original comments, let alone quote from them. So the onus is on me to clarify.

    Oh, I assume he may also have had in mind Paul’s absurd fantasies about Jesus (who he never met, not even on the road to Damascus),

    I agree, but why is Paul considered especially more deluded than, for instance, all the other apostles who believed in the resurrection?

    his loathing of women,

    Again, I agree. Stumbling on 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 definitively convinced me that actual New Testament morality (as opposed to e.g. how Sarah Palin reads the Bible) was in fact definitely not free from all the awful bullshit baggage of the Old Testament.

    But that Paul was a patriarchal jackass did not make him unique or even unusual amongst his contemporaries, Jewish, Christian, or Pagan. I think its easy to make the mistake of conflating modern Rabbinical Judaism’s values with the Pharisees et al here.

    his hijacking of Jesus’ movement from his brothers and from Judaism,

    I agree he hijacked it in the sense of changing its direction, in large part because more of what he wrote survives by sheer historical accident. I don’t agree that his thinking was different enough from say St Peter’s to call it hijacking “from his brothers”. I certainly don’t agree with the hijacking “from Judaism” bit. Its ambiguous (isn’t it always?), but there’s enough evidence in the Gospels to think Christ saw his views as being at least as divergent from contemporary Judaism, and as important for Gentiles, as Paul makes out.

    his anti-Jewish teachings

    This is why I bring up “self-hating jews”. What are these supposedly anti-Jewish teachings? That Jews are damned more by God because they were given the law and have disobeyed?

    That’s not factually incorrect, but its missing the point entirely. Its like SBs trolling that you or I or Jeremy or Bob Brown must be “anti-Australian” because we care enough about Australia to criticise it, more frequently than we bother to criticise Saudi Arabia.

    The so-called “Ultra-Orthodox” Jews have far more “anti-Jewish” teachings in this sense than anything Paul ever wrote.

    the list goes on.

    I don’t think it does, much, and you’re also not giving Paul any credit for his good points whatsoever.

    SB, it might have something to do with his savage butchering of the sublime teaching of Jesus. He did more than any other single individual to give us the travesty that calls itself Christianity today.

    Paul is respondsible for many of Christianity biggest mistakes. But you can’t call Jesus (that is, our best guess at the historical figure based on the sources we have) sublime and Paul a butcher. Christians ascribe too much agreement, you’re ascribing too little.

    (If you care for evidence that I’m not making this up as I go along, here’s a post I wrote ages ago aimed largely at Christian friends about the single biggest suspension of disbelief problem for the Bible coming from one of Paul’s most egrarious factual errrors: http://musingsnotamusing.blogspot.com/2009/07/to-quote-bertrand-russel.html)

    Leonard is a very learned man. He would know about these things. I imagine that among Jewish people, Paul would be one of the better-known of the early Christian figures.

    And again, I tend to agree that your interpretation of Cohen – based on attitudes I gather were once current in Jewish thinking on Christianity, you are probably right, and SB wrong.

    I also think Cohen’s bracketing of Paul with Stalin has greater significance than you suggest, as if Stalin is in a sense one of his spiritual heirs, in the same way Hitler can be seen as heir to the virulently anti-Semitic traditions of many early and medieval “saints” (not to mention a few more contemporary examples).

    Again, yes, it does have more significance, but I suppose what really made me take SBs side in the first place is the rest of this statement. He’s right – you are massively overreaching. Stalin is no more Paul’s spiritual heir than he is the heir of any other significant figure in the history of Western thought. In fact if you picked one of those lists of the 100 most generically influential dead Jewish/Greek/German/French/English/etc dudes, Paul would I think have a much significantly lower influence on Stalin than the average.

    I’ve called your ideas Manichean before, and it’s never more apparent than in relation to your views on this topic. It’s like a wilful blind spot in your thinking: all that is good is on the side of liberal democracy, Christianity, liberal economics, and western philosophy; all that is evil is the work of the new Satan, the Lord of the Left. Nothing can bridge that great divide.

    This is not entirely unfair, although I think SB sometimes likes to be a bit of a self-caricature for comic effect, which muddles the issue. And he claims at least that he comes across as far more right wing here than he actually is, due to selection bias – comments are only worthwhile if there’s a point of contention, so his distance from us is naturally amplified. Maybe he’s full of shit, but the same is true of me – I come across as far more right-wing than I am because I tend to let all the Lefty stuff I agree with here pass, in silent agreement.

    Do you think it was purely by accident that communism and Nazism both arose in the culture we used to call Christendom?

    Its not accidental in the sense of coincidental per se, but it definitely doesn’t have the kind of causality I think you want it to have. Christianity had characteristics that helped create the medieval European political environement, that spurred innovation in guns, sailing and other colonialism enabling techs, that lead to Western ascendancy, that put modernist Western ideologues (who were barely influenced directly by anything resembling original Christian thought) in unprecedented positions to commit evil.

    The same thing could easily have happened with Buddhism or Taoism in China or Hinduism in India or Islam in the Ottoman empire etc etc, with a slightly different set of contingent facts that don’t have much to do with the essential attributes of any of the religions.

    My bad if the quotes don’t follow any particularly sensible order.

    Do I get the prize for managing to take this thread even more off-topic than was previously thought possible?

  84. Yes, and you deserve it cos that was a great read. cheers.

    “As to Abbott, who gives a toss. Its just politics. Like the Gillard tax in the first place.”

    I give a toss. The fucking wanker. if he was serious about stopping the levy he would have asked for the donations to go into an infrastructure rebuilding fund. This prick tries to get political capital from his so called membership in a volunteer emergency services organisation, then uses a disaster to make money for his political party.

    Doesn’t deserve a piss in the ear if his (alleged) brain was on fire.

    “Its just politics. Like the…”

    Sorry you can’t say that.

    Its crap. Unless you shut up about politics full stop, and never mention another word thats critical of the politcal parties in Australia. Including brown.

    If you weren’t trying to score pro Abbott political points you would have left that comment at “its just politics” and not mentioned the other sides.

  85. Splatterbottom

    Jules: “If you weren’t trying to score pro Abbott political points you would have left that comment at “its just politics” and not mentioned the other sides.”

    Huh? What is wrong with pointing out that on this issue everyone is playing politics. That is precisely why the topic of this thread is such beat-up.

  86. narcoticmusing

    Jules – I’d probably have bitched out both sides myself, because they are both wrong and I hate them. Petty I know, but in a world where the divide between the parties is diminishing and both leaders are so obviously acting in the interest of political gain rather than simply what is in the best interest of the entire country, pettiness may be all I have. And I’m going to cling onto that petty bitterness like that kid hung onto his fluffy woobie (blanket) in Mr Mom.

    In order to lighten the mood and completely derail the thread, I shall remind you all of the good ol’ days* when fantasising about what one would do if they had the burden faced by Pryor in Brewster’s Millions was far more important on everyone’s minds than which marginal seat would be used for point scoring today – oh the hilarity of that antique stamp being used – unless, that is exactly what both leaders are doing with our taxes…

    *Note: I realise that only the most crusty and jaded of us will recall Brewsters Millions (and Mr Mom for that matter). The rest of you ‘young’ people ought to go educate yourselves with these pillars of fine cinema.

  87. Michael Keaton and Richard Pryor are highly underrated as thespians. I rate Pryor’s blind character in “Hear no Evil Speak no Evil” at the same level as the blinded Gloucester in King Lear. Exemplary.

  88. narcoticmusing

    “I rate Pryor’s blind character in “Hear no Evil Speak no Evil” at the same level as the blinded Gloucester in King Lear”

    Don’t even get me started on Bill Murray’s performance in Ghostbusters. [wipes away a tear]

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