Category: Informed Comment

Four journalists, one newspaper: Time Magazine’s Person of the Year recognises the global assault on journalism

The questions are huge. How do we balance the democratic need for transparency and accountability, with the demands of national security? How do we pay for journalism that is costly and necessary but not always commercially viable? How do we restore trust in an institution that underpins the way our society and our government works?

If we do nothing, we can expect to see a lot more cases like Jamal Khashoggi, Maria Ressa, The Capital Gazette or Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo. I suspect that is a world few of us would relish.

via Four journalists, one newspaper: Time Magazine’s Person of the Year recognises the global assault on journalism

First they damage the economy, then they fudge the figures

Nonsense. Australia is lagging the rest of the world badly on virtually all indicators.

Wednesday’s Bureau of Statistics release shows annual growth in gross domestic product (GDP) to the end of September 2018 was 2.77%. That ranks 106th among the world’s 183 economies, well down in the bottom half. That is as low as Australia has been. Ever.

via First they damage the economy, then they fudge the figures

The Coalition: Masters of Scare

Trying to say State issues were solely responsible for its resounding loss at the Victorian State Election and the Wentworth 19% swing was all Labor’s fault, firmly place the Morrison Government at the forefront of Australia’s worst ever governments.

Having lost all ability for any critical self-analysis that would tell them the electorate no longer trusts them, cannot abide the lying, lack of any humane thought, racism, sexism and dismissiveness of equality of opportunity, the Liberal and National parties find themselves hated.

via The Coalition: Masters of Scare

The government’s message to the people – shaddap you face – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Scott doesn’t want children speaking up about climate change. They should be in school receiving direct instruction about how great Western civilisation is. They shouldn’t be playing at being leaders when the adults have that job in hand, no double meaning intended.

Kids missing a day of school will send them to the dole queue says Matt Canavan, who, along with the PM, will attend parliament for 10 days in the next 8 months, presuming he doesn’t have a more pressing engagement like opening up a new Fox studio somewhere.

Scott would also prefer the women speaking up about bullying in the Liberal Party and parliament more broadly to shut up. They have “processes” in place and it wasn’t them anyway – it was the administrative people.

And anyone who says that children on Nauru are being mistreated is a downright liar who is only saying it for political reasons or else they would be blaming Labor, not them. Take that Gillian Triggs, Save Our Children, AMA, UN, Amnesty International, Refugee Council, ABC, Guardian, Father Rod, and all you other bleeding hearts!

via The government’s message to the people – shaddap you face – » The Australian Independent Media Network

How to achieve a common good society

Can you imagine, as a nation, how much more advanced we would be if we had a common purpose over the past few decades instead of the vile negativity Tony Abbott and other like-minded politicians infused us with?

The cost of it in economic and societal terms we may never find out.

This election is about:

what sort of democracy you want;
what sort of society you want to live in; and
what sort of condition do you want our planet left in.

Having said that, it is also possible that Morrison might turn it into an election based on race. I will, however, reserve judgment at this stage.

How to achieve a common good society

It’s ugly and unoriginal but there is a way Morrison could win

Illustration: John Shakespeare

It’s the mighty scare campaign. Modern campaigners, in the ongoing Orwellisation of the English language, prefer to call it a “strong truth” campaign. The scare campaign is unoriginal, it’s ugly, but, when it’s done well, effective. Even an unpopular leader at the head of a tired government can win with a good scare campaign.

via It’s ugly and unoriginal but there is a way Morrison could win

The wealth gatherers – » The Australian Independent Media Network

What we are seeing now however, is perhaps the first signs of the super wealthy becoming active, not just in a political sense to steer the ship of State in a direction most suitable to their means, but having reached a stage of “maximum saturation” of the limits of wealth accumulation outside of Nation State regulated control, they are using their immense wealth to buy influence or use existing ownership influence of media communications to not only lobby for political outcomes, but to actually use those politicians they have command over to pass legislation or simply to kill-off regulation or to sell-off State owned utilities and social welfare bodies so as to limit that same State control over their means of accumulating even more wealth and power … by forcing people whose wages and living standards are no longer protected by civil laws and codes or fair regulation to accept or perish on the harsh demands of the oligarch’s workplace conditions.

In short, the wealthy are attempting to destroy the stability of the Nation State.

And if this line of reasoning was followed through, it becomes clear that the wealthy to continue to prosper, must destroy the Nation State to replace it with a dictatorship.

For an individual to even want to climb to such a level of wealth without a desire to relinquish a goodly portion of such useless riches back into the community, demonstrates a personality that places no limits on its ambition … a greed unchecked, a venality unsatisfied, a desire insatiable, a depravity unstoppable!

The wealthy are working to destroy our Nation State … we, the citizen body depending on civil governance fair to all now, vital to all in the future, in benefit to the many, must now work toward destroying … for the good of the many, for the possibility of a future and for the good of the Nation State; the wealthy.

The wealthy must be stopped and contained.

via The wealth gatherers – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Morrison, take heed: nationalist posturing comes back to bite you

Our government understands at least some of these things, which is probably why it loves free trade agreements, and why Scott Morrison as treasurer was so dismissive of Tony Abbott’s suggestion that we slash immigration, citing the billions of dollars it would cost the budget. But this government has now entered a phase of reflex nationalist posturing (remember that thing about acknowledging veterans on Virgin Australia flights?). It simply cannot resist an opportunity to wear the flag as a cape and tell the world who’s in charge. You might love or loathe that as you please. The trouble really starts once you believe the fantasy it offers, because it’s unravelling around the world before our very eyes.

via Morrison, take heed: nationalist posturing comes back to bite you

How a climate change denier works – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Does Kelly follow Bolt or Bolt Follow Kelly? (ODT)

Kelly is engaged in an intense campaign of deliberate misinformation about climate change. Amongst articles from very dubious sources and lots more about weather at specific locations (as opposed to climate), he occasionally links to genuine research from credible organisations.

Invariably, when he does so, he will cherry pick one piece of data, or a sentence or two, and completely ignore the context, other results, and the actual conclusions from the research.

Craig declares in Trump-like capitals, ANOTHER PROPHECY BITES THE DUST : MORE SNOW, NOT LESS, and links to the following graph of Winter Northern Hemisphere Snow Extent from Rutgers University Global Snow Lab, a well-respected source.

Aside from not understanding the difference between weather and climate, the stuff Kelly posts at times is doctored.  Take the following graphic:

 

via How a climate change denier works – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Progressive reform in a populist era – » The Australian Independent Media Network

One of the key complaints that one hears in many advanced countries is that the basic prerequisites of a middle-class life are no longer attainable. Very large fractions of the population feel more insecure. If you draw a chart of what’s happened to the average income of the bottom 90 per cent, it’s hardly budged. With a microscope you can see a little bit of an increase. But if you look at the average income of the top 1 per cent, it has soared exponentially.

But all this requires systems of truth-telling, of ascertaining, discovering what the truth is, verifying the truth. But, the demagogues, like Orban in Hungary, Trump in the United States and the LNP in Australia, are systematically trying to destroy all of our truth-telling institutions. Like media censorship and undermining the ABC, a judiciary to protect those with the most money, cutting funding to corporate regulators, opposing a federal corruption watchdog, ignoring human rights protection, environmental abuse and weighted education in law and economics to name a few.

The upshot of this is that our economic and social prosperity has been put into jeopardy. We need to be vigilant and we need to battle these demagogues and these right-wing conservative governments to restore some version of sustainable shared prosperity.

via Progressive reform in a populist era – » The Australian Independent Media Network

How statistics lost their power – and why we should fear what comes next | William Davies | Politics | The Guardian

Illustration by Guardian Design

A post-statistical society is a potentially frightening proposition, not because it would lack any forms of truth or expertise altogether, but because it would drastically privatise them. Statistics are one of many pillars of liberalism, indeed of Enlightenment. The experts who produce and use them have become painted as arrogant and oblivious to the emotional and local dimensions of politics. No doubt there are ways in which data collection could be adapted to reflect lived experiences better. But the battle that will need to be waged in the long term is not between an elite-led politics of facts versus a populist politics of feeling. It is between those still committed to public knowledge and public argument and those who profit from the ongoing disintegration of those things.

via How statistics lost their power – and why we should fear what comes next | William Davies | Politics | The Guardian

Chomsky: Occupation, Gaza ‘Concentration Camp’ turning Israel Fascist

‘THE RUNDOWN | Noam Chomsky has long been outspoken on political topics like American politics and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Our Jotam Confino sat down with the famous linguist and professor to discuss the hot political topics.’i24 News: ‘Noam Chomsky Reflects on the State of the US and Israel’

Source: Chomsky: Occupation, Gaza ‘Concentration Camp’ turning Israel Fascist

Reasons not to – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Continually fighting against things has drained both the government and the people. We need leaders who can explain why we should do things, not why we shouldn’t.

via Reasons not to – » The Australian Independent Media Network

The Lessons of World War I– Don’t Trust Hateful Politicians like Trump

Trump went to celebrate 11,000,000 dead but cancelled because of rain. He hasn’t cancelled the rain of terror in the Yemen he’s assisted it. (ODT)

Technological innnovations lengthened the war and made it dangerous. In Iraq, the US faced roadside bombs, which killed or wounded thousands.

War hasn’t been abolished, and the rise of hyper-nationalism in Hungary, Poland, India, Brazil and Russia and the US makes the world more dangerous and potentially deadly.

Trump’s own American nationalism is destabilizing for the world. Let’s hope he doesn’t stumble, in Yemen, Iran, or in East Asia, into a debilitating and fruitless war.

The Lessons of World War I– Don’t Trust Hateful Politicians like Trump

The truth about power prices and generation – big sticks don’t work but renewables do – » The Australian Independent Media Network

A few days before he was rolled from the top job, Malcolm Turnbull said “We will not hesitate to use a big stick, as we did with gas, to make sure the big companies do the right thing by you, their customers.”

Well the latest quarterly update from the AEMO shows just how effective that “big stick” was with the gas companies.

Wholesale gas prices increased across all markets compared to Q3 2017 despite a year-on-year reduction in demand (largely due to reduced gas-powered generation (GPG) demand). Average quarterly gas prices in the Declared Wholesale Gas Market (DWGM) in Victoria and Brisbane’s Short-Term Trading Market (STTM) were the second highest on record.

And it doesn’t look like getting better any time soon.

via The truth about power prices and generation – big sticks don’t work but renewables do – » The Australian Independent Media Network

The limits of Trump’s politics of race

That leakage started in 2016, but it wasn’t fatal because Trump managed to offset it with those working-class gains in the Midwest. Now he’s handed back those gains, and the suburbs have continued to desert. Trump’s Republican Party is now a rural one, capable of consolidating its rural support in the most Republican territory, but right now, not much else. The result is defeat in the House of Representatives despite a Republican-friendly gerrymander and a concerted effort in several Republican states to suppress the vote of Democrat-leaning minorities. It might not be the landslide the Democrats were hoping for, but we’re still talking about a win in the popular vote of around 9 per cent.

via The limits of Trump’s politics of race

Beware the Trumpification of our politics

Mark Latham’s announcement today that he is to lead One Nation to the next NSW election in March, and to seek a seat in the Upper House, reeks as the next stage in the “Trumpification” of the fringes of Australian politics.

via Beware the Trumpification of our politics

The hysterical fringes have stopped sensible debate – » The Australian Independent Media Network

So many important discussions this nation must have are being hijacked by sensationalist scaremongering and the caterwauling from the extreme right.

In true Trump fashion, racial profiling is on the rise. Muslims, Africans and asylum seekers are vilified in a frenzy of xenophobia. Aboriginal disadvantage is due to laziness and giving them too many free handouts.

We can’t even fix the tragic plight of the refugees on Manus and Nauru. They are “quietly” bringing people here they tell us in media reports that are supposed to satisfy the growing calls for immediate action whilst saying “shhhhhhh don’t tell anyone”. At the same time, to satisfy the indignant right, they continue to fight tooth and nail in court to stop these people being freed.

Any discussion about migration quickly simplifies to they are taking our jobs, making housing unaffordable, and clogging our cities.

via The hysterical fringes have stopped sensible debate – » The Australian Independent Media Network

It isn’t business that lacks leadership, Jason – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Meanwhile the IPA is doing business as usual. The Falnski complaint is rather a Falski one (ODT)

“When was the last time we had a business leader come out on tax issues, or regulation issues, or industrial relations issues?”

Apparently, Mr Falnski has missed every business leader, every time they speak publicly, calling for lower taxes and less regulation. Perhaps he is unaware that business lobby groups make submissions to the Fair Work Commission on all industrial relations matters.

via It isn’t business that lacks leadership, Jason – » The Australian Independent Media Network

How Craig Kelly cons the punters – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Member for Hughes and chairman of the Coalition backbench environment and energy committee, Craig Kelly, seems to split his time between appearing on Sky After Dark and 2GB, and posting clickbait headlines on his facebook page.

But the most cursory investigation shows Craig is either deliberately misrepresenting the articles he links to by cherry-picking a sentence or two, or he is a gullible fool who doesn’t bother reading the stuff he is being fed by others. Considering the volume of links he posts, I would suggest the latter.

via How Craig Kelly cons the punters – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Saying sorry is easy but only action can give it meaning – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Ian Warden has written a thought-provoking article in the SMH titled Dreaming of a heartfelt apology.

If he is expecting the publicly-expressed remorse to translate into us being better at caring for kids, I’d have to tell him he’s still dreamin’.

via Saying sorry is easy but only action can give it meaning – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Claimed emissions reduction from land use are very doubtful and must be verified – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Governments must be honest with us about these threats. They must provide us with the most up-to-date information. They must allow us to take part in the decision-making about priorities.

The consequences of their obfuscation and inaction and downright lies are becoming graver by the minute.

via Claimed emissions reduction from land use are very doubtful and must be verified – » The Australian Independent Media Network

I thought we were supposed to leave the world a better place – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Forgetting the noise and arguments, the marketing and campaigning – a government’s job (and the job of us all) is to make the world a better place.

You don’t do that by worshipping wealth above well-being.

You don’t do that by supporting the fossil fuel industry and looking to join the world’s top ten arms manufacturers.

You don’t do that by engaging in rampant land-clearing to make way for livestock, inappropriate crops, or urban sprawls.

You don’t do that by habitat destruction of endangered species.

via I thought we were supposed to leave the world a better place – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Slavoj Žižek: Will our future be Chinese ‘capitalist socialism’? — RT Op-ed

Slavoj Žižek: Will our future be Chinese 'capitalist socialism'?

Despite occasional exceptions, it was once considered almost gospel that democracy and capitalism went hand in hand. China’s successful rise knocks the notion on the head.

via Slavoj Žižek: Will our future be Chinese ‘capitalist socialism’? — RT Op-ed

Carl Bernstein: Trump Is Waging An Unprecedented War On Truth | Crooks and Liars

what we have never had is a President of the United States who uses lying and untruth as a basic method to promote his policies, his beliefs, and his way of approaching the American people and engaging with the world, that his default position is to use untruth to go toward his objectives.

via Carl Bernstein: Trump Is Waging An Unprecedented War On Truth | Crooks and Liars

The experiment of government and business being hand-in-glove has failed – » The Australian Independent Media Network

The experiment of government and business being hand-in-glove has failed.

In the relentless pursuit of profit, businesses have reneged on their part of the social contract.

In the pursuit of endless growth, and pandering to big money donors, government has ignored its duty to act in the best interests of the people.

via The experiment of government and business being hand-in-glove has failed – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Most voters believe Morrison has failed to transform Coalition – Guardian Essential poll | Australia news | The Guardian

Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg

A majority – 59% of a sample of 1,027 voters – say the Liberal leadership change in late September has made no difference, and the government remains the same as it was before the shift. Only 20% think the change of prime minister has created a refresh.

via Most voters believe Morrison has failed to transform Coalition – Guardian Essential poll | Australia news | The Guardian

Sorry, small business has no special sauce for jobs

since businesses are free to use their tax saving however they see fit, there’s no reason to think they’ll favour more jobs or higher wages. No more than big businesses would.

If Morrison’s on a winner, it’s a political winner, not an economic one.

But if there’s nothing special about small business, why do politicians on both sides keep spreading the sector’s propaganda that it is special?

Because the many more owners of small businesses have far more votes than the relatively few bosses of big businesses do. It’s politics, not economics.

Sorry, small business has no special sauce for jobs

Businesses need customers, not a feel-good few bucks a week – » The Australian Independent Media Network

In order to give some substance to his claim that the Coalition are for lower taxes, Scott Morrison has chosen to bring forward by five years tax cuts already legislated for small and medium businesses. To use his oft-repeated phrase, these are nothing new, they are ‘existing’ legislation, just fast-tracked for an election sweetener as Coalition governments always do.

According to ProMo, this will allow tradies and hairdressers and family businesses to hire more people and give wage rises to their staff and invest more in their businesses.

Sounds good…until you actually examine the real implications of this announcement and which businesses it will affect.

via Businesses need customers, not a feel-good few bucks a week – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Cantering towards destruction – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Whoever wins the next election is going to face a monumental task to reduce our emissions in order to tackle the existential threat posed by climate change.

In one way, it would serve Scott Morrison right to have to face the consequences of his lies. But the country cannot afford someone who thinks prayer is the answer to the drought.

Our Prime Minister, the man charged with making the decisions on how to keep us safe, is a bald-faced liar.

via Cantering towards destruction – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Why so many businesses are behaving badly

“Entitlement: When the Rich and Powerful feel it’s their Right” (ODT)

It’s an important, though sensitive, question for economists since their simple “neo-classical” model of markets predicts firms won’t mistreat their customers because, if they did, they’d lose them to a competitor.

Sims offers seven reasons for this evident “market failure” – a term economists use to acknowledge when real world markets fail to deliver the benefits the textbook model promises.
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via Why so many businesses are behaving badly

8 Times Donald Trump Claimed He Was A Self-Made Man

The source of Trump’s fortune was his father, who bailed out the son’s failing businesses many times, a bombshell New York Times investigation found.

Donald Trump has, for decades, attempted to portray himself as a self-made, up-by-your-bootstraps entrepreneur who benefited little from his father’s fortune, relying on his own gumption and wiles to overcome financial challenges.

But a bombshell investigation by The New York Times published Tuesday annihilated this claim

8 Times Donald Trump Claimed He Was A Self-Made Man

Different strokes for different folks – our non-egalitarian society – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Scott Morrison has nothing to say about the criminal behaviour of the banks. He has nothing to say about real problems like stagnant wages, sham contracting, or the death toll in the construction industry. And now he wants to leave construction workers with no representation.”

And they pretend we have an egalitarian society.

In his interim report into the banking Royal Commission, Commissioner Hayne pointed out that “Over the 10 years to 1 June 2018, ASIC’s infringement notices to the major banks have amounted to less than $1.3 million.”

Meanwhile, the other “tough cop on the beat”, the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC), has imposed fines totalling over $15 million against the CFMEU since 2005, with around 80 officials still facing courts on some 44 matters.

In one case alone in September last year, the CFMEU were fined a record $2.4 million over an “unlawful blockade” at Lendlease’s Barangaroo site. This ruling is currently under appeal.

In June, the CFMEU and an official were fined $51,300 for abusing and threatening construction workers on the Gorgon LNG project in Western Australia. The ABCC took legal action against the union and official Brad Upton after a 2015 incident during which he abused workers for not being members of the union, calling them “f—–g dog c—s”.

“This is a f—–g union site, we have other union sites starting up next year and if you’re not in the union, you can f–k off too, you are not welcome.”

Federal Court of Australia Justice Michael Barker said the official’s behaviour and conduct at the meeting of employees on December 2015 was “appalling”.

via Different strokes for different folks – our non-egalitarian society – » The Australian Independent Media Network

Freedom of Speech — Why do we need to change?

If you were to ask the likes of Cory Bernardi if we live in an enlightened society, he would probably answer “yes”.

I’m not sure how he would answer if you asked: If we are an enlightened society, why do you think we need to enshrine in law the right to hate each other?

Surely you would think that an enlightened progressive free-thinking society would want to eliminate it, not legislate it.

If free speech’s only purpose is to denigrate, insult and humiliate, then we need to reappraise its purpose. There are those who say it identifies those perpetrating wrongdoing but, if it creates more evil than good, it’s a strange freedom for a so-called enlightened society to bequeath its citizens.

Are we saying that hate is an essential part of the human condition?

Is this really what an enlightened society means by free speech? Does it demonstrate our cognitive advancement? Is this what well-educated men and women want as free speech or should we see free speech as being nothing more or nothing less than the right to tell the truth in whatever medium we so choose?

One has to wonder why the so-called defenders of free speech feel they are inhibited by what they have now. I don’t. I have never felt constrained in my thoughts or my ability to express them. I’m doing it now. But then I don’t feel a need to go beyond my own moral values of what is decent to illuminate my thoughts.

Why is it then that the likes of Abbott, Bolt, Jones, Brandis, Bernardi and others need to go beyond common decency to express them and defend others who cannot express themselves without degenerating into hate speech?

The answer has nothing to do with an honourably noble sort of democratic free speech.

via Freedom of Speech — Why do we need to change?

‘Terrifying wake-up call’: Good news from a bad week for the ruling class

See the link between the two cases? When you’re on a board, it’s easy to see how things look from the viewpoint of the insiders – the people in the room, and on the floors below. What’s harder to see, and give adequate weight to, is the viewpoint of outsiders.

But that’s the board members’ duty, statutory and moral: to represent the interests of outsiders, including the shareholders, but also other “stakeholders”. To view things more objectively than management does. To avoid falling into groupthink. To rock the boat if it needs rocking.

A good question is: how would it look if what’s now private became public? Because that’s what happened last week. And now a lot of executives and directors are viewing the consequences of their acquiescence with fresh eyes and are not proud of what they see.

The ABC’s governance problems, we must hope, will be fixed relatively quickly. The misconduct of the banks is a much tougher problem.

via ‘Terrifying wake-up call’: Good news from a bad week for the ruling class

The incestuous relationship between government, the financial sector, the regulators, and the legal firms they use – » The Australian Independent Media Network

via The incestuous relationship between government, the financial sector, the regulators, and the legal firms they use – » The Australian Independent Media Network

The ABC, Rupert Murdoch and how to fix a media landscape in crisis

So what should be done about the rolling crises washing over what remains of the Australian media? Rupert Murdoch has been up to his neck in the elevation and removal of Australian prime ministers for the better part of a decade. The ABC has seen the conservatives politicise its board, demolish its funding and pressure its management to get rid of troublesome journalists. And now we face the prospect of the disappearance of Australia’s longest, independent print masthead (Fairfax) as it is consumed by a television company (Nine) which is chaired by Peter Costello.

If ever there was a case for a full royal commission into the abuse of media power in Australia, it is now. A free media is the lifeblood of a democracy. But media freedom in Australia is now under structural threat from a combination of extreme ideological conservatism, fuelled by rampant commercial interests.

via The ABC, Rupert Murdoch and how to fix a media landscape in crisis