Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category
From the Sydney Morning Herald:
More than $1 billion of taxpayers’ money was wasted on subsidies for household solar roof panels that favoured the rich and did little to reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, a scathing review has found.
The review of the now scrapped federal government solar rebate scheme, conducted by ANU researchers Andrew Macintosh and Deb Wilkinson, also found the rebates did little to generate a solar manufacturing industry in Australia, instead sending hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ dollars offshore.
Mr Macintosh, deputy head of ANU’s Centre for Climate Law and Policy, told The Age yesterday the rebate had been ”beautiful politics, terrible policy”.
”I can’t see there is anything to be gained continuing to subsidise rooftop solar PV [photovoltaics] in areas where households have easy access to the energy grid,” he said.
Electricity bills for the rest of us could be more than 20% higher to cover the cost of the ridiculously high feedback tariffs paid to people who own solar panels – which were also paid for by the rest of us.
‘Beautiful politics, terrible policy.’ That is the Labor way, of course – intentions count for more than outcomes.
If it all goes wrong, eg, insulation, immigration, overpriced school buildings no-one wanted in the first place, laptops for every student, no dams, no water, carbon tax, the NBN, etc, etc, they can say in all honesty, ‘But we meant well.’ And the sad thing is, they probably did.
They just didn’t think.
The People’s Republic of San Francisco has decreed that happiness is no longer permitted. At least, not in the form of happy meals. Or any other meals that include toys and TOO MANY CALORIES. Such meals are now banned.
Meanwhile, back in less ‘liberal’ and consequently, less authoritarian, Australia, a professor of health education and nutrition has pointed out that fears about childhood obesity have been exaggerated by the media. She goes on to say that restrictions on the availability of junk food will do lttle to resolve the problems that do exist:
“People have to stop exaggerating the numbers about childhood obesity – that’s not to say that it is not an issue but you know, hysteria, fear campaigns and exaggeration are not very scientific,” said Dr O’Dea.
Professor O’Dea also points out that childhood obesity is largely a problem for the poor. Tackling poverty, she suggests, is the best long-term way to tackle childhood obesity and many other children’s health issues.
But it seems to me that childhood obesity is evidence of one of the key attitudes that keeps some people poor.
There is nothing wrong with take aways as an occasional treat. But good quality day to day food; fresh fruit, vegetables, milk, fish, lean meat, etc, is cheaper than McDonalds or KFC.
Of course, such meals take a little longer to prepare, and need some thinking in advance.
So if take away food (take-out if you’re an American) is more expensive, why do people on low incomes eat more of it?
It is easy to claim that poverty is caused by structural injustices. And some is. The anti-development policies of organisations like Greenpeace, and their lobbying of governments and organisations like the Word Bank, have kept incomes and life spans in some third world countries much lower than they would otherwise be.
But in wealthy western countries this is less often the case. Poverty, and the disadvantages to children it causes, cannot be changed by acts of government.
‘The poor will be with you always’ Mt 26:11
This is little short of farcical.
Leaker and big noter in chief Kevin Rudd, along with Wayne Swan and Julia Gillard, were so concerned about the possibility of then Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner’s leaking sensitive budget information that after bogus meetings at which he was present, they held other meetings at which the decisions were made.
Three points to note about this:
1. There was no evidence Tanner was leaking anything. In contrast to some of the others in those meetings, he has a reputation for being reliable and trustworthy.
2. Tanner knew he was being shut out, because his staff spoke to him about policy decisions he had not been told about by the gang of three.
3. Tanner has a brain cell. I suspect his disagreement with the three-fold consenus on some key budget issues was the real reason they did not want him around.
So much easier to get things done in an atmosphere of consensus.
It’s just that, when an atmosphere of consensus is built by shutting out anyone who might have a different view, it is usually the wrong things that end up being done.
Bombs found on planes in Dubai and Britain were large enough to have destroyed the planes mid-air, killing all on board, and causing further casualties if the bombs exploded over populated areas.
A woman named Hanan al Samawi has been arrested in Yemen. The Telegraph headline says she is an engineering student, while later in the text it reports: She was arrested at a house in a poor area in the west of Sana’a, where she is studying medicine at the university.
Engineering, medicine, whatever. These are not areas of study which the poor usually take up.
There are three points here.
First, the Telegraph needs to get some new copy editors. Accuracy is important. It is not good enough in a major national daily to have a headline contradicted by the text immediately below it.
Second, the female of the species is as dangerous as the male. There is no justification for policies which discriminate against men in relation to being held in detention centres, for example, on the basis that they are likely to be terrorists whereas women are not.
And finally, terrorism does not have its roots in poverty. There is a great deal of talk about understanding the causes of terrorism. The commonly identified causes in such talks are Western imperialism and Western monopolisation of consumer goods.
This is nonsense. The major source of terrorist activity is radical Islam. Thai Buddhists, African animists, and Orthodox believers living in Siberia, all of whom suffer poverty compared with the West, are not burning down schools and blowing up planes.
Osama Bin Laden, of course, is a multi-millionaire. Terrorism has nothing to do with poverty.
It has everything to do with what its perpetrators keep telling us is the reason for their actions: They hate infidels, and believe they are commanded to destroy them.
Did you know that when Walker: Texas Ranger was first screened in France, the French surrendered to Chuck Norris, just to be on safe side?
Now there is evidence he has kicked a hole in time itself.
An unknown elderly woman has been spotted talking on a mobile phone in 1928 footage of the Hollywood premiere of Charlie Chaplin’s The Circus.
The only plausible explanation for this is that Chuck Norris threw a roundhouse kick so fast it disrupted time itself, and the woman, who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, just walked through the portal this created. She’s probably still confused about why she can’t get any reception.
Before you dismiss this, keep the following facts in mind:
Chuck Norris is so fast, he can run around the world and smack himself in the back of the head.
Ghosts are caused by Chuck Norris killing bad guys so fast that death cannot keep up.
Chuck Norris can strangle you with a cordless phone.
Some people wear Superman pajamas, but Superman wears Chuck Norris pajamas.
Actually, Chuck Norris really is a bit of a superman. As well as being a competent actor, genuine martial arts champion, and all around decent guy, he is a clear thinker and talented writer.
You can find his columns on Town Hall, including his latest on the extraordinary and frighteningly wasteful growth in US Federal government spending.
Boats of illegal immigrants are arriving in Australia, or being intercepted on the way here, at a rate of one every second day.
Liberal churches and community groups claim they must be welcomed, given the benefit of the doubt, not placed in detention, made part of the community.
This a regular theme in the Anglican Archbishop of Adelaide’s column in the Adelaide Church Guardian. Be compassionate. Be hospitable. Be welcoming. After all, Jesus was a refugee.
Of course, Jesus wouldn’t have jumped queues or taken short cuts to get ahead of anyone else, there were no language barriers (the common tongue in Israel and Egypt was Koine Greek), Israel and Egypt were both part of the Roman Empire, Joseph had skills that were in demand and would have made them a welcome addition to any community, etc.
But let’s just go with the be compassionate, be welcoming idea.
As long they are being welcomed somewhere else.
I couldn’t help but laugh at the response of residents of the Adelaide Hills to plans to use army barracks at Inverbrackie as a detention centre.
The Adelaide Hills are home to all sorts of green, loving, trendy type folk. Get your crystals or homespun ethnic clothing here! Of course asylum seekers should be treated compassionately and welcomed into Australia. We can share.
What? You mean here? Where we live?
But darling, don’t you think they’d be happier at Murray Bridge or Salisbury? There are already lots of those sort of people there. They’d feel so much more comfortable.
And besides ‘It basically puts a blight on our area .. And property prices will decrease.’
Full and accurate information is an important precursor to any debate, and to making appropriate decisions. One of the frustrations in the recent debate over the provision of medical services on Kangaroo Island has been the limited information available to island residents about the form of the contract and the amount of remuneration on offer to rural doctors.
For most of my adult life I have lived in small rural communities. In most of those communities I have been involved in the delivery or governance of health or social services.
Most recently I was a member of the Murray Bridge Hospital Board. With representatives of other hospital boards from around rural SA I participated in discussions with the Health Department on the State Government’s plans to make significant structural changes to rural health governance, including the proposal to combine the various rural health regions into Country Health SA.
One positive outcome of the formation of CHSA was the opportunity to implement a uniform contract for the delivery by rural GPs of medical services through local hospitals.
The earlier system had resulted in considerable inequities, with wide variations in remuneration to doctors, based not on differences in remoteness or the size of the community serviced, but on the strength of negotiators appointed by individual practices. The result was often that the greatest financial rewards were offered to doctors who were willing to threaten to withdraw essential medical services, and to use those threats as a means to increase their own pay packets. This was unfair to their communities and to taxpayers who had to pick up the extra burden. It was also unfair to other doctors who worked in equally (and often more) stressful or remote locations for less money.
Over a period of eleven months, representatives of SA Health, the AMA and the RDASA met as a working group to formulate a contract that would ensure supply of key medical services to residents of remote and rural communities, and provide fair remuneration to doctors. Rural practitioners from across the state were consulted, and doctors had opportunities throughout that time to have input, either individually, or through their member organisations.
On 19th February 2010, Dr Peter Rischbieth and Dr Graham Morris, President of the RDASA, wrote to members informing them of the final form of the contract and offer from CHSA, and advising them:
“The RDASA negotiating team feel that the offer that has currently been presented to rural doctors is an acceptable one especially in regards to the oncall payments and taking into account a number of changes that CHSA have made in response to significant concerns from RDASA and its rural doctor membership.”
“The RDASA negotiators and Executive believe that the current offer even though there are some short comings should be accepted by rural doctors.”
The contract did not attempt to direct practitioners about how their practices were to be managed. Doctors were free to make whatever business structure, practice management and rostering arrangements they liked, as long as contracted services were provided in a competent and timely way.
Of course, doctors were not under any obligation to accept the RDASA’s advice, or the contract on offer. Where the contract was not accepted, Health SA would endeavour to provide essential services, including oncall emergency services, either through locums or by setting up hospital based clinics.
Doctors were free to accept the contract or not. What they could not do (because this would make consistent provision of essential services across the state simply impossible) was accept parts of the contract they viewed as easy or profitable, and decline to perform others which were less profitable or might mean some rearrangement of practice rosters.
A sticking point for some seemed to be the requirement to provide oncall emergency services, and the remuneration offered to doctors to be available if required.
Some of the conditions might be onerous for sole practitioners in remote communities, who would effectively be contracting to be on call 24/7. However, the contract includes provision for regular leave, and for CHSA to fund replacement services during emergency leave, for example if the local doctor is ill or has a family emergency.
But it is not sole practitioners in remote communities who have indicated they are unwilling to accept the terms of the contract and the allowance on offer, but doctors in a small number of monopoly practices.
That allowance is $220 per day Monday to Thursday, and $550 per day Friday to Sunday, a total of $135,000 per year per roster.
The $135,000 is simply an on call allowance. If there is a callout, doctors are also paid standard fee for service rates. Where no other fee is applicable, GPs are paid $224.20 per hour of patient contact time. The same rate applies per hour for travelling time for emergency calls during normal comsulting hours, plus a mileage allowance if they travel further than 20kms.
These figures, sample contracts and other documents are available on the RDASA website.
This means that if a doctor on call had, for example, three callouts and two hours of consulting time, his/her income could easily exceed $1000 per day, and, depending on circumstances, be in the region of the $1800 paid by CHSA to a locum. Locums of course have additional travel and accommodation costs, as well as the inconvenience of being away from their own homes and families.
It is hard to understand how it is not deliberately misleading to claim that locums are being offered $2000 per day, while local doctors are being offered $220 per day, as if that were the entire amount of their income.
The contract and offer made by CHSA has now been accepted by an overwhelming majority of SA’s rural and remote GPs. No matter how long threats to withdraw services continue, or what the cost to South Australia’s taxpayers of providing alternative care arrangements, Country Health SA cannot agree to pay any particular doctor or practice an amount greater than that contracted to other providers.
There are two reasons for this.
First, to offer one group of doctors an amount greater than that offered to other GPs would be a betrayal of the good faith of the RDASA, and of the many doctors who have accepted the contract and offer despite reservations. Doctors have accepted the contract as a first step in moving on from a system of negotiation where level of income was frequently based on threats of withdrawal of service, and which everyone acknowledged urgently needed to be changed to provide consistent services for rural communities, and fair remuneration for doctors.
Many who had reservations, or believed a higher rate of on call allowance would have been appropriate (and this included representatives of the AMA), nonetheless recommended or agreed to the contract because it was openly acknowledged as an interim measure. Negotiations and discussions between the RDASA and CHSA would continue, doctors would have opportunity to air their concerns, and a new contract incorporating any changes, including changes to on call allowances, is planned to come into effect from the beginning of November 2011.
Secondly, to offer one group of doctors in a monopoly practice a higher allowance would completely undermine any future negotiations for a uniform contract. Doctors are no more immune to greed and envy than the rest of us. There will always be some who think their situation is special, and that they should be paid more than anyone else, or who suspect that someone else may be getting paid more than them. If CHSA gives way now, every practitioner would be aware that any negotiations or agreements count for nothing, and all that is required to gain a higher rate of pay is to threaten to withdraw services.
That is not a fair outcome for the majority of GPs, for rural communities, or for SA’s taxpayers.
I am no supporter of the present State Government, but in this instance, the Minister for Health and CHSA executives could not responsibly have acted in any other way.
An expurgated, edited and (slightly) expanded version of a perfect rant from the always interesting Celestial Junk.
Jobs are a byproduct of healthy industry. They are not a goal in and of themselves and they most definitely are not something the government itself should be trying to encourage or create.
Jobs are what happen when someone has too much work to do by himself, so he gets someone to help.
If you want to work, GO AND WORK. Use your savings. Sell your car. Mortgage your house. Use the money to start a business. Find something that you can do and do it and sell the product of your labor to others.
What? You don’t want work for yourself? You want to work for someone else? Fine, but it’s not businessowners’ responsibility to employ people and its not the federal government’s responsibility to somehow force them to.
If you want a job, then AGITATE THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO EXPAND BUSINESS AND “JOBS” WILL COME. Make it easier for the people who actually do business and jobs will come as a byproduct.
Then dress sensibly and clean your teeth and speak politely and learn some skills that will make you useful, and you might be able to convince a business owner you have something to offer.
But what the heck? At the same time as complaining nobody wants to employ you, you’re also asking for higher taxes on the very people you need to create your precious JOBS? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
WHAT THE #%&* HAS HAPPENED TO THIS COUNTRY? Why does everyone want to be treated like a child? And the federal government ENCOURAGES this laziness, this ‘I’m entitled’ whinging mentality.
I am so freaking tired of this straight out of Marx crap that somehow people are just entitled to share in someone else’s fortune and capital in the name of “jobs.”
GO MAKE YOUR OWN JOB.
Businesses aren’t in the business of making “jobs,” they’re in the business of CREATING VALUE FOR THEIR OWNERS. When you say that a business should be making more JOBS, you are saying that the capital of those business owners should not actually belong to them and belongs to the “workers”. Thanks a lot, Stalin.
And then there are slogans like “People Before Profits” and “Fund Jobs Not Wars”
Has it ever occurred to these people that all of their social services, free payouts, schools, medical care, etc, only happen because people take risks, work hard, and eventually make a profit, which can then be taxed? Or that only one of defence and ‘job creation’ (what a joke) is actually the responsibility of the federal government to fund? (Hint – it’s not “JOBS”.)
… to paraphrase; our entire society depends on a minority of people risking their own capital, employing their own strategies and skills, to create value, that others then feast on.
A superb short article by Anthony Esolen at Touchstone Magazine’s Mere Comments blog:
It is a commonplace among our ruling class that religion is irrational and inherently divisive, fostering hatred of one group for another. On the rationality of religious faith, Christian philosophers and theologians have long spoken, and I am not going to repeat their arguments here. It is the supposed tendency to divide and to foster hatred that puzzles me.
Let us leave Islam out of consideration, and the largely defensive wars waged by Europeans against Islamic aggression. Where are the religious wars in human history? Name them. Not Greece against Persia, not Athens against Sparta, not Rome against Carthage, not the Germanic invaders against Rome. Where are all the religious wars? In the Middle Ages, the Church, in lay movements such as the Truce of God and the Peace of God, served to restrain the violence of the ruling class. Yes, medieval city warred against city, but the warfare was not religious, nor was it inspired by religion when in the late Renaissance, Catholic France under Richelieu cast her lot with the Protestant Scandinavians against their common foe, the Hapsburg empire. That Thirty Years’ War is the best candidate for a truly religious European war, and it is no doubt the one remembered most keenly by the philosophes of the eighteenth century. But England continued to war against France, not over religion but over control of various colonies. Name, one after another, every war waged by England, France, Spain, Germany, or Italy from the Thirty Years’ War until the present, and you will find much bloodshed, but not because of religious hatred.
I look at the last hundred years, and see hatred wherever a European people has turned away from its Christian heritage, to exalt some idol in the place of God. Look at Albania, that miserable nation. Look at the gulags in the Soviet Union, or the forcible elimination of Confucian piety under Mao’s cultural revolution. How many millions of people died of starvation in the Ukraine under Stalin, while the ruling class in America, represented by the liar Walter Duranty, looked demurely away? How many people of both parties in America, people of the ruling class again, whose religious faith was rather in “progress” than in Jesus Christ, looked benignly upon the rise of the nationalist Hitler, and praised his clear grasp upon the problems of population and eugenics? How many people of that same ruling class still give Mao a free pass, or forgive the dictator Castro for his excesses now and then? Spanish Catholics are loathed for having favored the nationalist Franco rather than the communists in the Spanish civil war — and what were they supposed to do, when the communists were murdering priests and nuns, as they had done shortly before, in Mexico?
Former Australian Prime Minister and big job at the UN hopeful Kevin Rudd gave a few tips today to the UN General Assembly on how to increase its level of irrelevance.
Speaking to a session to which almost one third of delegates turned up, Mr Rudd warned that:
“If we fail to make the UN work, to make its institutions relevant to the great challenges we all now face, the uncomfortable fact is that the UN will become a hollow shell.”
Oh Kevin, say it ain’t so….
Fortunately, having a deep awareness of what the great challenges are, Kevin was able to point the UN in the right direction:
“The unconstrained carbon emissions of one state impact on the long-term survival of all states.”
“Climate change is no respecter of national or geographic boundaries.”
“The most immediate and pressing threat to the physical security of Australia’s wider region lies in the scourge of natural disasters.”
Just put Kevin in charge, and you’ll see what heights of irrelevance are really possible.
Barack Obama finally stands up to Iranian President Imanutjob, describing his 911 comments at the UN as ‘outrageous and offensive.’
Better late than never, I guess.
Next, Obama plans to be angry, and after that, to write a letter saying how angry he is.
The BBC website featured a picture of that silly old bugger Sir Ian McKellen protesting against the Pope.
Sir Ian was wearing a T-shirt that said ‘Some people are gay. Get over it.’
I am fairly confident, Sir Ian, that Pope Benedict is fully aware that some people are gay. He is faced with almost daily demands to apologise for, and make reparations for, the behaviour of a small group of predatory homosexuals over whose actions he had no control whatever.
And, Sir Ian, when was the last time the Pope turned up at an event featuring you, and publicly demanded you change the way you think?
So what makes you think anyone would be interested in your turning up uninvited to tell the Pope how to think?
But that’s the problem with these diversity loving liberals. They can’t stand anyone having an opinion that diverges from theirs.
Eda Anderson is a perfect example. She turned up to protest as well. ‘I think it is unacceptable for the UK government to part-fund the visit of a man who does not represent me or my beliefs,’ she said.
Oh. Right then. Before any future visits from heads of states are agreed to, we’ll just send the Prime Minister around to your place to check that the opinions of the proposed visitor are perfectly in accord with yours, shall we Eda?
More of this inclusiveness except of anyone they disagree with was seen this week in Sweden, where thousands of morons turned out to protest the fact that some poeple voted for a party they don’t like.
‘I’m not sure what should be done,’ said twenty one year old Thomas Zebuehr, ‘But something has to be done.’
The funny thing is, these loons complain that those who have the unspeakable bad taste to disagree with them are Nazis, racists, sexists, right wing extremists, or whatever other terms they think will cause the most damage. But they, the compassionate leftists, are always the ones who seem to want to shut people out or shut them up, or just get rid of them.
And I won’t even get started on the greenies’ calls for the suspension of democracy so that anyone not suffering from global warming derangement syndrome can be forcibly silenced and sent for re-education.
OK, so this is hardly a burning issue. And Australia does make OK supermarket, frozen food cheese.
But exceptional cheese requires unpasteurised milk. Because like good wine, really good cheese is complex. That complexity requires a variety of cultures.
The question is, should Australian producers be allowed to make, and Australian consumers allowed to consume, cheese made from raw milk?
Yes. We are presently not allowed to. Because a committee has decided the health risks are too great. And members of that committee naturally claim that those who question it are motivated purely by greed.
There are some very minor health risks. In modern manufacturing these risks are almost non-existent for harder cheeses, and only marginally more for soft cheeses like Brie.
But Australian consumers are babies. So even if cheesemakers label their products as being made from raw milk, the government still won’t let you make the decision to buy them.
Julia says things are different now. And they are. She doesn’t need you to vote for her anymore, and won’t for the next three years, by which time you will have forgotten. So bye, bye promises.
Also, Julia says the Opposition should stop acting like an opposition, and just be nice. By being nice she means they should agree with everything she says.
Apparently, now is not the time to be disagreeing about stuff. We should all agree about stuff. Like a carbon tax, and the National Broadband Netwreck.
But the job of the Opposition is to oppose. To pick holes, to ask questions. To try to ensure that legislative and executive decisions made by the government are in the best interests of the country.
Which may not always co-incide with the best interests of the ruling party.
“With restraint and civility we can put aside the empty rancour of partisanship and seek to work together,” she said.
“We can strengthen opportunity for all Australians and build an enduring legacy for future generations.
“That is how we will honour Ben Chifley and keep the Light on the Hill burning bright.”
At yesterday’s Liberal conference, Mr Abbott says Ms Gillard’s admission that several election promises will be broken due to the hung parliament is an example of why she cannot be trusted.
“The more we see of Julia Gillard, I’ve got to say, the better Kevin Rudd looks,” he said.
“I never thought I would say that, but Kevin Rudd looks strong and principled by comparison to the current incumbent.
“We have Prime Minister Gillard saying that she has a blank cheque to break promises.
“What an outrage. If the Prime Minister did not believe that she could put her election commitments into practice she should not have accepted a commission from the Governor-General.”
Hear that Julia? If you did not believe you could put your election commitments into practice, you should not have accepted a commission from the Governor-General.
That might be one way to keep him quiet.
Nothing else seems to work. Have you ever heard a politician so much in love with the sound of his own voice?
Anthony Albanese is worried about how Oakeshott’s serving as Speaker might impact his ability to represent the people of his electorate.
Here’s a tip Anthony: He doesn’t care.