Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category
Wayne Swan and Bill Shorten met with representatives of insurance companies yesterday to encourage them to show compassion to flood victims ‘as anger grows over the companies’ “no policy, no payout” stance.‘
Labor wants the insurance companies to give payments to people who don’t have flood insurance.
Julia Gillard suggests that not paying out people who didn’t have policies is ‘playing hardball.’
What’s next? The government demanding that shops give goods to people who haven’t paid for them, and claiming supermarkets which don’t comply are playing hardball?
But then, why would anyone pay for groceries?
Some people who live in flood prone areas chose not to ensure against flood. They saved some money. And they are not insured against flood. That was their choice.
So why are they angry?
The insurance companies have no obligation to pay people who don’t have insurance.
The government might as well ask makers of haemorrhoid creams or jet skis to cough up. That would make as much sense.
This is typical of leftist governments. We have to be nice. Preferably with someone else’s money.
In this case, with money that belongs to policy holders (in other words, people who did think ahead) and to shareholders in insurance companies (primarily superannuation funds, ie, other people who are thinking ahead).
It is sad that some people whose homes were damaged, or who lost property in the recent floods chose not to insure against those risks. Especially when all of them live in areas which have flooded before.
Australia is a community. The suffering of one affects us all. It is great that the community rallies around to provide emergency help.
But the reason the community can rally around to provide emergency help is that most Australians still take responsibility for themselves, and put a little aside for hard times. The commonwealth and states have reserves we can draw on in hard times. Those reserves are accumulated through hard work over time.
If the government succeeds in forcing insurance companies to pay people who did not have policies, what incentive is there for people to take responsibility in the future? Why would anyone pay extra for flood insurance if the government can be relied on to pressure insurance companies to pay everyone anyway?
As a nation we used to be self-reliant, hard working, prudent. We knew we lived in a physically harsh country, where extremes of heat and flood were common. And we took care to be prepared.
Now there seems to be an attitude that we don’t need to prepare, because whatever happens, it is someone else’s job to fix it. If something unpleasant happens to me, well, I didn’t want it to happen, so someone else should pay for it.
This is now the standard way of thinking in relation to health. If I need to see a doctor, need to go to hospital, need an ambulance, or need medicine, someone else should pay. The gubmint.
But gubmint money belongs to the taxpayers. You want someone else (the taxpayer) to pay for the treatment you need if you break your leg, and to subsidise your income if you can’t work?
But how do you feel about your tax money paying for Mrs McGinty’s third set of dental work this year, when she has never cleaned her teeth in her life? Or paying for treatment for the Harris kids’ constant eczema and worm infections?
But then, why should Mrs McGinty clean her teeth? Someone else will take care of it. Why should the Harrises wash their hands and keep their animals off the kitchen benches? Someone else will pay. It will be OK.
But it won’t be OK. Because if the government constantly acts in ways that are a disincentive to taking responsibility, eventually there will be no one left to take responsibility. There will be no reserves, and no one left who can pay.
Ah, but universal health care is compassionate. No it’s not.
Well, paying out people who don’t have flood insurance is compassionate. No it’s not.
At least, it’s compassionate to let illegal immigrants into the community and help them become citizens. No it’s not.
It is compassionate to give home loans to people who can’t really afford them. No it’s not.
It’s compassionate to lower academic standards because it is too hard for students to learn and their self-esteem will be impacted if they fail. No it’s not.
All of these are laziness, or worse, the deliberate fostering of dependence, and the discouraging of honesty and responsibility, disguised as compassion.
Those who perpetrate and perpetuate these things may feel good about themselves and their niceness.
But the end results are always the same. More resentment. More entitlement. More suffering.
‘We can give billions of dollars to green energy research.’
‘And that will enable us to replace gasoline with sunbeams?’
‘Nothing lost in trying.’
‘Except the billions of dollars.’
‘That is taxpayer money. If we don’t take it from them, people will just waste it on their own families, instead of it being put to good use by liberals.’ …
‘We’ll start with America.’
‘Won’t that devastate the economy?’
‘Yes, but it will be worth it.’
‘Will that stop global warming?’
‘No. But think of the moral superiority we will gain… Also, being green is very trendy right now.’ …
‘So how would you disprove global warming?’
‘You can’t. That’s how you know it’s true.’
One gem after another!
The scary thing is that some people really do believe these things, as the last link above demonstrates.
A brief quote:
Prior to the fascist, destructive, genocidal US-UK-Israeli occupation of Iraq, Sunni and Shia, Muslims and Christians, Arabs and Kurds lived together in a harmonious atmosphere of brotherhood and unity that paralleled that of occupied Palestine before the Zionist occupation in 1948. It is egregious, disgusting, despicable, ignorant, absurd and erroneous on every factual basis to assert that the aforementioned ethnic and religious groups are now massacring each other, when in reality, they are being massacred by the murderous occupation armies.
Dividing Iraq via partition and driving it into a hell of ethnic cleansing was a Zionist plot …
Of course. All that trouble between Iran and Iraq, and the murder of Kurds and Shi-ites by Saddam Hussein, and the brutalisation and torture of Iraqi citizens, that never happened, it was all just Zionist propaganda.
So how could they possibly be a problem?
Ann Coulter nails the sub-prime cause of the current recession (if you think it is over, think again):
Forget “stimulus” bills and “shovel-ready” bailouts (for public school teachers, who need shovels for what they’re teaching), the current financial crisis, which is the second Great Depression, was created slowly and methodically by Democrat hacks running Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac over the past 18 years…
Goo-goo liberals with federal titles pressured banks into making absurd loans to high-risk borrowers — demanding, for example, that the banks accept unemployment benefits as collateral. Then Fannie repackaged the bad loans as “prime mortgages” and sold them to banks, thus poisoning the entire financial market with hidden bad loans.
In 2003, Republicans on the Senate Banking Committee wrote a bill to tighten the lending regulation of Fannie and Freddie. Every single Democrat on the committee voted against it.
In the House, Barney Frank angrily proclaimed that Fannie Mae was “just fine.”
Fannie was pressuring banks to write mortgages with no money down and no proof of income. What could go wrong?
In 2004, Bush’s White House Chief Economist Gregory Mankiw warned that Fannie was creating “systemic risk for our financial system.” In response, Barney Frank went to a champagne brunch with his partner “just because.”
Democrats saw nothing of concern in the Fannie debacle. Bad mortgages don’t contain sodium, do they? They don’t engage in “hate speech.” And they don’t emit carbon dioxide. There was nothing to catch a Democrat’s eye.
Until it all went wrong, and then it was George Bush’s fault.
I was in Glenelg on New Year’s Day. There was a juggler. He was from the US. He was quite good. But after ten minutes I had enough of the ‘George Bush is stupid’ jokes.
For heaven’s sake, the guy’s been gone for three years. Isn’t it time to start blaming someone else?
Firstly, apologies for the lack of posts over the last six weeks.
I won’t bore you by explaining what the problem was. Let’s just hope that 2011 is more restful year!
I have been thinking lately about the seven virtues, and in particular, the first of the cardinal virtues, prudence.
Prudence is sometimes portrayed as having three faces. This is because prudence learns from the past, and thinks about consequences in the future, in order to act rightly in the present.
Prudence does not mean refusing to take risks. Prudence is not fear, but a careful regard for right outcomes.
Prudence is a quality leftist politicians lack.
They do not learn from the past. They do not think about consequences in the future. Consequently they act in the present in ways that, however well intentioned, will not bring about desireable results.
The Clinton administration’s pressure on the banks to increase home lending to under-represented groups in the housing market effectively forced banks to make loans to people who could not afford to repay them.
The intention was good – more members of minority ethnic groups owning their homes. This would, if successful, have been a good thing. People are more careful of what they own, and have a greater stake in maintaining their local community and environment.
But it didn’t work. People who had been given loans they couldn’t afford, well, couldn’t afford them. So they didn’t pay them. So they lost their homes.
The people targetted to be helped were made worse off, because they lost the money they had put into their homes, and were now less likely to get a loan in the future, even one they could afford.
All this was easily predictable.
Consequences for the banks, and therefore the economy in general, and therefore people in general, were also dire.
That was also predictable.
The intention was good, but there was no prudence – no learning from the past, no thinking through of consequences in the future.
In Australia, refugees and the NBN are two obvious examples of a lack of prudence in government action.
Intending to be kind, the Labor party implemented policies which lead to a dramatic increase in the number of illegal immigrants arriving by boat.
‘We will be nicer to you,’ they said. ‘We will welcome you.’ We are not nasty like John Howard.
People who would not have made the journey to Australia except for these changed policies, and for their belief that things were different in Australia now, have died.
That is a bad, and foreseeable outcome.
Large numbers of people (from three boats a year to 2-3 boats a week) arriving in Australia without proper identification need to be accommodated at taxpayer expense, either in detention or in local communities. This stressful for the immigrants, stressful for workers and communities, and means money has to be diverted from other projects – roads and hospitals, for example.
That is a bad, and foreseeable outcome.
When people who arrive illegally are accepted as refugees, the number of those people accepted as residents is deducted from the number of people who will be accepted from refugee camps. People who are the poorest and most in need, who have provided identification and waited for processes to run their course, lose their places to those who have the money to bypass the safeguards and make their own way to Australia.
That is a bad, and foreseeable outcome.
Planning for the proposed National Broadband Network demonstrates a similar lack of prudence – of willingness to learn from the past and to think carefully about consequences in the future.
The NBN will cost a vast amount of money. At the planned cost of $43 billion, over $6,000 per household, plus the cost of connection and in-home cabling, plus of course, ongoing plan costs.
Even now it is clear that the NBN offers little advantage over cable or ADSL2+ to people living in metropolitan areas. Those are current technologies.
Two things we learn from the past are that new technologies double the speed of internet access every five years, and that large projects are almost always slower and more expensive to implement than first thought.
On present planning/costing, the NBN will make back the taxpayer’s investment if 70% of people take it up.
In Tasmania, where need was considered significant, the take-up rate has been about 1%.
So the NBN is needed, and will succeed, only if there are no developments in internet technology over the next five years, if competition is stifled, if the price of constructing it does not increase, and if people are coerced into paying more for internet plans that are only marginally faster.
In effect, the government is spending over $6,000 of your money on a plan that will deliver no improvement over likely commercial plans which would have cost the taxpayer nothing.
There is an argument for government subsidy of better satellite based internet access for people in remote areas where commerical provision of fast internet is not viable.
That would be prudent. The NBN is not. Nor are our current policies on illegal immigration.
via Small Dead Animals:
The ETC Group, an international organization supporting sustainability and conservation, has just published its newest report, an 84-page document that presents a lengthy criticism of “the new bioeconomy.” In it, principal author Jim Thomas argues that using biofuels for energy and resources isn’t green — in fact, he says, it’s even more harmful to the environment than coal.
“What’s being presented by the government as ‘the green way forward,’ is this idea that we can use plant matter from crops, trees, or algae and convert it into fuel, plastics or chemicals,” Thomas told FoxNews.com. “And it’s just assumed that it’s carbon neutral. But when you burn something like a tree, you release as much, if not more, carbon dioxide than when you burn something like coal.”
Not to mention the fact that besides not reducing ‘greenhouse emissions,’ large scale diversion agricultural land from food production means (doh!) less food produced, which means higher food prices, which means more hungry people.
All these pious schemes which do more harm than good but which make wealthy Westerners feel good about themselves remind me of the following exchange from the Poirot story The Kidnapped Prime Minister:
Sir Bernard Dodge: You don’t seem to realize, Poirot, this is a national emergency. I do not intend to sleep until the Prime Minister is found!
Hercule Poirot: I am sure it will make you feel very virtuous, Sir Bernard, but it will not help the Prime Minister! For myself, I need to restore the little grey cells.
In any case wasteful and expensive ‘green fuels’ are just not needed. It is now clear we have vastly more energy reserves than was imagined even two years ago, which means enough cheap fossil fuel to sustain steady growth in the West, and rapid growth in developing nations for many generations to come.
And just for the heck of, and in case you missed it earlier this year:
African Crops Yield Another Catastrophe for the IPCC (but fortunately, not for Africans).
The technologies are interesting and certainly work. But what seems to make the most difference is the thinking.
“Israel concentrates on the passengers and not their luggage so we have a real edge over the rest of the world in protecting travelers,” says Rafi Sela, a top security consultant and former chief security officer at the Israel Airport Authority. “This is in addition to us protecting the whole airport, while the others merely try to achieve aviation security.”
In other words, it’s about the people, not the bags, and it’s about the whole airport, not just the planes.
“You can’t do security with political correctness. As long as you are doing it without a real plan, it will never work.”
‘Social justice’ is a key identifying phrase, a shibboleth, for liberal/progressives. Conservatives are assumed not to care about social justice, being concerned only with making money and reducing taxes.
Then why is it that conservatives give more to charity, and are more likely to be involved in their communities as volunteer fire fighters, ambulance officers, etc?
Informaworld has an interesting article on social justice from a conservative perspective.
Bruce Thyer points out that conservatives are just as concerned about social justice. We just differ about how the best results are to be achieved.
But in Australia, women are paid as much as men for the same work. It’s the law.
Nonetheless, on average, women do earn slightly less than men. The ASU wants this fixed. It’s unjust!
But the difference is not because women are victims of discrimination. It is simply because they make different choices.
Women tend to opt for safer, more comfortable jobs, jobs that have predictable hours and involve less travelling. They are more likely to work part-time, and to retire earlier.
More at Carpe Diem, including this, from a report prepared for US Department of Labor:
‘The differences in the compensation of men and women are the result of a multitude of factors and the raw wage gap should not be used as the basis to justify corrective action. Indeed, there may be nothing to correct. The differences in raw wages may be almost entirely the result of the individual choices being made by both male and female workers.’
Sophie Mirabella is one of my favourite Australian politicians.
She is hard working, honest and intelligent – a possible future Prime Minister, and one who would be vastly more effective, in part because she has vastly more integrity, than the present incumbent.
Sophie offers Julia Gillard some helpful advice. Namely, mean what you say, say what you mean, and do what’s right.
I won’t quote from either Ben or Sophie. Both are worth reading in full. And the comments on Ben’s article are an amusing dialogue between shallow leftist trolls and reasonable people attempting to reason with them.
‘Mean what you say, say what you mean, and do what’s right’ could be Sarah Palin’s motto.
Despite liberalist frenzy and legacy media blackwashing, people like her because she is straightforward, has faced the problems they face, loves her family and her country, knows how to run things, and has a vision for the future.
The usual liberal complaint about anyone who disgrees with them is “He’s stupid, ‘She’s stupid.’
But I defy anyone to read Sarah Palin’s thoughtful and well-constructed open letter to new Republican members of Congress, and believe anything other than that she is caring, intelligent, and capable.
I remember seeing a guy a guy who had been asked to leave several supermarkets interviewed on TV.
He objected to being told ‘Have a nice day’ by checkout operators.
Fair enough. It is a silly, empty phrase.
But he responded by abusing the employees. These were mostly teenage girls in their first jobs, who were doing what their employer had asked them to do.
Abusing them was pointless bullying.
I feel the same about airport employees who are now required to implement intrusive and embarrassing security measures, incuding full body scans or searches.
Ann Coulter writes incisively (as usual) about this, and how silly and misguided these airport security measures are:
After Muslim terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab of Nigeria tried to detonate explosive material in his underwear over Detroit last Christmas, the government began requiring nude body scans at airports.
The machines, which cannot detect chemicals or plastic, would not have caught the diaper bomber. So, again, no hijackers were stopped, but being able to see passengers in the nude boosted the morale of airport security personnel by 22 percent.
This is amusing, but unfair. It is like blaming checkout operators for ‘Have a nice day.’
They are not responsible for the utterly ridiculous policies implemented by their political masters.
Ann Coulter again:
It’s similarly pointless to treat all Americans as if they’re potential terrorists while trying to find and confiscate anything that could be used as a weapon. We can’t search all passengers for explosives because Muslims stick explosives up their anuses. (Talk about jobs Americans just won’t do.)
You have to search for the terrorists.
Fortunately, that’s the one advantage we have in this war. In a lucky stroke, all the terrorists are swarthy, foreign-born, Muslim males. (Think: “Guys Madonna would date.”)
This would give us a major leg up — if only the country weren’t insane.
Terrorists are not all foreign born. And I wouldn’t be surprised if islamists started using 3 year olds to carry explosives onto airplanes.
But the key word in that sentence is ‘islamists.’
There are no Jewish, Presbyterian, Baptist or Buddhist groups which have an announced policy of destroying the West, and who have proven their seriousness by repeatedly blowing up embassies, churches, and schools.
Targetting Muslims may be unfair to the majority. But as long as a substantial number of muslims living in the West believe suicide bombings and violence in the cause of Islam are acceptable, and as long as Muslim leaders do not consistently, clearly and frequently denounce such violence, the rest just have to wear it.
Is that unfair? Yes.
But it is less unfair than implementing security procedures which humiliate everyone while achieving nothing.
Proof of psychic powers? Actually, no.
Just proof that academics are not easily able to think beyond their preconceived notions.
He conducted nine different experiments on over 1000 students. Eight of the experiments showed some psychic ability.
I am willing to bet that the experiment that didn’t was the only one that was properly designed.
One experiment asked students to memorise a list of words, and then asked them to recall as many as they could.
The students were then asked to type a list of the words randomly selected – which tended to be the words they had earlier recalled.
It suggests they knew which words were going to be selected to be typed.
No it doesn’t.
The question is, how were the words to be typed selected ‘randomly’?
If they were just picked by another person, all this means is that some words have more impact than others, and that those words are more likely to be remembered, and chosen.
It is amazing to me – a non academic, but someone trained in problem solving – how quickly academics jump to the wrong conclusion, and how firmly they then insist on those conclusions being accepted.
I have a friend who is a PhD candidate. She is studying changes in Black Brim populations. Black Brim are a common fish in South Australian waters.
Her thesis is that Black Brim numbers have declined over the last fifty years because of changes in water quality.
She is extraordinarily diligent in examining ear bones from Black Brim. This enables her to track changes in water quality over the life of the fish.
I have no doubt she can get an accurate picture of water quality over the life of any individual fish.
But there are three problems with her thesis.
She has no idea how many Black Brim there really were fifty years ago. There were no accurate counts.
She has no idea whether water quality now has deteriorated in ways that affect Black Brim compared with fifty years ago. There were no accurate measures.
She has no idea whether other factors (eg, fish just move) might account for changes in Black Brim populations in the small area she is studying.
I asked her, since her theory was that fish numbers had declined because of changes in water quality, whether she thought it important to have accurate measurements of fish numbers and water quality from fifty years ago.
She insisted it was OK, because she had accurate measures of fish numbers and water quality now.
But surely, I insisted, if she was claiming changes in fish numbers over fifty years were a result of changes in water quality, she had to know what the numbers and water quality were fifty years ago.
She told me she could measure changes in water quality through studying ear bones.
OK. That tells you about changes over the life of an individual fish, but nothing about what the starting point was fifty years ago.
Nope. She just didn’t seem to understand the question.
Well, it doesn’t matter, really. She’ll get her PhD and work for Natural Resources and ruin a few fishermen’s businesses, or spend her life telling farmers to use less fertiliser.
Not much harm done.
But lots of harm is done in other ways.
As an example, there are reduced rates of HIV infection in males who have been circumcised.
So of course there claims that male circumcision acts as a ‘vaccine’ against HIV infection.
A couple of days ago the Deputy Speaker of the Ugandan parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, called on male MPs to be circumcised to give a moral example to others, and to help reduce the rate of HIV infection.
It seems blindlingly obvious to me that many men who are circumcised are either Jews or Muslims, and that differences in sexual behaviour in those groups would better account for the very small measured differences in rates of HIV infection.
Certainly behavioural differences might be worth investigating before spending vast amounts of money ramping up ‘circumcision services.’
This won’t work. It is cruel and irresponsible. In fact, like dishing out condoms, it is likely to increase rates of HIV infection, because it encourages people to think they are safe.
The only thing that has been shown to make a long term difference to rates of HIV infection is changes in behaviour.
But that is an unacceptable conclusion, so Africans continue to be given advice which is known to be, or should be known to be, wrong. And more Africans die.
Africa has suffered enough from AIDS.
We have all suffered enough from the consequences of shoddy thinking.
Julia Gillard is not stupid.
But as Forrest Gump said, ‘Stupid is as stupid does.’
And there could hardly be anything more stupid than putting a punitive tax on the resource – cheap carbon fuels – that has underpinned the fastest ever growth in development and standards of living around the world, including health and education, and without which there would be no modern industry, no fast, economical transport, no large scale agriculture providing cheap food, etc, etc.
There is simply no reason for such a tax. The world is not running out of oil or coal.
So this claim by Ms Gillard is nonsense:
‘The alternative is very stark, if we continue to do nothing we will pay a heavy cost – electricity prices will spiral up. Our power supplies will begin to run short.’
No, our power supplies are not going to run short and cause spiralling prices.
But putting unnecessary taxes on energy resources will push prices up, causing industry to move offshore, and impacting especially harshly on poorer families.
So why do it?
Because human activity is causing the world to warm catastrophically?
If that’s the real reason, Julia, just say so. If you can prove it, I’ll back you 100%
But before you impose even more taxes on Australian businesses and families, I suggest you do some reading:
One of the arguments for the existence of God is that without God, there can be no objective moral standards. Rights are whatever we decide they are, good and bad are whatever we decide they are.
But we all do acknowledge objective standards of morality – some things are good, and some things are bad, no matter what anyone, or any particular society says about it.
Therefore these standards do exist. Therefore God must exist.
I don’t think this is a particularly compelling argument.
It is entirely possible, even if there were no God, that it could be useful from an evolutionary point of view for us to believe in objective moral standards, even though, of course, no such standards would or could actually exist.
But the non-existence of objective ethical standards is nonetheless problematic for atheists who wish to claim that atheism is as intrinsically moral as the teachings of Jesus (more, as they see it, because based in reality) and leads to just as ethical and caring a society.
Atheists are fond of pointing out the horror stories (again, as they see it – careful examination of the facts often tells a different story) in Christian history. The Crusades or the Spanish Inquisition, for example.
But it is worth keeping in mind that the Soviet Union killed off in an average day approximately the same number of people as the Spanish Inqusition sent back to secular authorities to be executed in its entire 300 year history .
We take the equality of women, kindness to children, fairness in dealing with strangers, etc, for granted, precisely because we have 2000 years of Christian history behind us. These values are so normative for us that we assume they are shared by everyone.
But history shows this is not the case.
Jeff Jacoby on Town Hall has more:
It may seem obvious to us today that human life is precious and that the weakest among us deserve special protection. Would we think so absent a moral tradition stretching back to Sinai? It seemed obvious in classical antiquity that sickly babies should be killed. “We drown even children who at birth are weakly and abnormal,’’ wrote the Roman philosopher Seneca the Younger 2,000 years ago, stressing that “it is not anger but reason’’ that justifies the murder of handicapped children.
Reason is not enough. Only if there is a God who forbids murder is murder definitively evil. Otherwise its wrongfulness is a matter of opinion. Mao and Seneca approved of murder; we disapprove. What makes us think we’re right?
The God who created us created us to be good. Atheists may believe — and spend a small fortune advertising — that we can all be “good without God.’’ History tells a very different story.
Even the San Fancisco Chronicle notes that this recent trip to Asia extends a long losing streak which grows out of catastrophically declining credibility in the US and overseas.
The lack of credibility grows out of perceived inconsistencies between policies and reality, promises and actions.
Like Ed, I can honestly say that I thought right from the beginning that such an outcome was inevitable.
Barack Obama has no business experience, no military experience, and has never run anything in his life.
I was gobsmacked when he was elected, and am gobsmacked still, that anyone seriously thought they had any reason to believe he was qualified to be the leader of the most powerful nation on earth.
I wouldn’t give him a job running a cake stall.