I have problems with the
opinions of journalist/entertainers at both ends of the political
spectrum. I have similar problems deciding on any politician to
because they all seem to take extreme positions. And extremes
isn't the way I see things.
Lets start with the
environment. Pumping pollution into the
atmosphere is something that nearly everyone agrees is bad.
particulate matter, fluorocarbons, and mostly anything in quantities
greater than that which started there.
I agree that Carbon Dioxide and others carbon gases might be
"greenhouse gasses" but see no great urgency to reducing gases that are
not shown to be physically unhealthy. Nobody has
actually quantified in a systematic and believable way the damage that
global warming might do, beyond a
few melting glaciers, a few centimeters of sea level rise. These
events might lead to
lowlands flooding, and some changed weather patterns. On the
other hand, carbon dioxide acts like a fertilizer and promotes plant
growth, and while the rainfall in some regions might diminish, it is
also likely that it will increase in other regions. I predicted
all of these effects in 2005.
So I would approve a GST type carbon dioxide tax of about $5 per tonne
in the interests of efficient resource use. It is quite obvious
that high values of carbon tax will lead to starvation of the world's
poorest people, which is something I would prefer not to have on my
Not only that, but high carbon taxes will not noticeably shorten the
time that it would take to introduce alternative technologies.
technologies employing direct conversion are inevitable
within a couple of decades and will be cheaper and cleaner and more
convenient than carbon technologies. They will also be cheaper
than wind or wave power. It is not even a good idea
to attempt to subsidize the development of those technologies.
The scientists and engineers that will develop them are already
employed to that task, and spending billions of dollars will make
virtually no difference to their discoveries.
Then there is work
choices. I do not have much time for
unions. I belonged to one for 20 years, and was required to pay
about $500 p.a.
for the privilege. Then on the one occasion when I called out for
help, they abandoned me. The fact that I won the dispute with my
employer on my own accord
made me even more bitter.
I argued last month that work choices
did not sink the Howard government, that in fact it was actually of
benefit to both Australian workers and small business (and
correspondingly very bad for
union bosses and big business). So I am unhappy that Tony
Abbott has said that he will not make any (or only a few) changes to
employment legislation. I just
hope that the Labour party advertising is accurate, and that we ".. can't trust Tony Abbott not to bring back
Then there is the mining
tax. I think that the mining tax as Rudd
proposed was a really really good idea. Maybe it needed a bit of
tuning. But Gillard gutted it, then Abbott killed it. Both
are going too far. Bob Brown of the Greens has got that one right.
Taxing mining projects will not stop them, the
idea is laughable. Saudi Arabia put a huge tax on it's very cheap
to extract oil. Did anybody stop digging more oil wells
there? In some locations around the world, the iron ore is high
quality and cheap to refine, and close to the surface, suitable for
"open cut" mining. The actual cost (in labour and energy and
interest on capital employed) of mining and refining from those mines
could be as low as $25/tonne. In other locations on the planet,
those costs could be as high as $150/tonne. So who should get
that $125/tonne profit? The international mining companies
believe that the holders of the mining lease should get the lot.
Bob Brown, Kevin Rudd and I believe that the people of Australia should
get a significant share.
The threat that it won't get mined if we tax it is like the economists
joke. Somebody walking along a footpath
with an economist said "hey look, there is a $100 note on the
footpath". The economist kept walking and ignored it. The
friend said "why didn't you pick it up?". The economist said "It
wasn't there, because if it was there somebody else would have
already picked it up." Same goes for unmined iron ore. If
the big mining companies won't mine it, somebody else will.
Then there is
financial irresponsibility. The jury is still out on
whether Australia really needed a supply side financial stimulus to
However Rudd and Gillard should not have wasted
money and lives on projects like the $43B NBN the $16B BER
For the BER it is fairly obvious that the
rorting happened at the state level. From the costs per square
meter data there is a strong case that WA
did not rort the system, but NSW and the other states did.
However that excess profit money went to building company mates of
Labour mates in government. There is then a suspicion that and
if the builders were corruptly overpaid then they might have got a
party quid donation for their pro, and that is hardly Julia's
In my book it is. The Federal Government should have retained
oversight of the BER. And if the reports in the papers are
accurate, the Federal machine seems to be indirectly getting a few of
would have avoided the GFC because we had "work
choices" in place. This gave us a flexible economy. so hours
worked would have shrunk, but no massive unemployment would have
eventuated. I also think that our accumulated pile of cash should
have been used to make social security more generous. People who
went onto reduced hours as a result of the GFC would then have had
Our labour government spent down around $200 billion in the last 2
years. That amount of money would give $40,000 to each of 5
million people, or $20,000 per annum for two years to each of 2,500,000
people. I believe that we could have avoided the GFC by just
making generous "make up" grants to people who were forced onto shorter
hours. That would have ended up a lot cheaper, and wouldn't have
given windfall profits to all those builders. And because it was
cheaper, we would not now have a $100B debt.
My local member is Malcolm Turnbull. I volunteered to assist his
campaign, and was offered a job handing out leaflets. The second
and third times that I turned up, there was no team leader. I
complained the first time.
I suppose that I am the image antithesis of Malcolm. I have quite
long unkempt hair, only ever wear sandals and jeans and designer shirts
- (see front page).
nice way of terminating an embarrassing
Since about age 10 I am not a gambling man. I remember the Sunday
school event that cause that aversion. There was a toy that had
horses, when the operator wound a crank, the horses (supposedly
randomly) came to the finishing line. After observing that on
about four sequential occasions number eight won, I ventured my
sixpenny piece and was rewarded with a four shilling prize. I
again ventured a sixpenny piece, and again won four shillings.
Then the owner of the toy turned up, and "fixed" the toy, and I lost
about two shillings of my gains. My second event was to walk into
my new club with about five shilling coins, and to place them in five
poker machines so that the first had not stopped spinning before I
played the last. Much to my astonishment, they all paid
off. I have played pokies on about five occasions since, but
However I attended a betfair training scheme and was given $50 to open
my account. Followers of this blog will know that I predicted a
coalition win last February. So I cautiously bet $25 on a
coalition win and $12.50 on a labour loss, at odds of 2/1 (or as they
say nowadays, 3.) I haven't won yet, but the odds are a lot
Malcolm got elected without further help from me. He is expected
to obtain a cabinet position. After his call (after the GFC
struck, before Rudd offered $100,000,000 or whatever) for a $100,000
guarantee on deposit accounts, he has my vote as the best treasurer
available in Australia. He would also be very good as telecom
minister, but better as treasurer.
The rank and file in the ALP seem to be realizing that they were dudded
when they dropped Rudd. Comes of their attitude "Whatever it Takes". Some
opinions are that Rudd will be back as leader if (When:) the Coalition
is declared government. I think they are right. And
hey, Julia, Simon managed after being dumped. However I have more
sympathy for Latham, who was a clever boy, not in the same class as
Hawke, just behind Rudd, but ahead of everyone else.
Abbott's great strength is that it is so easy to underestimate
him. I hear that in the US he is compared to Reagan, (who has
assumed the mantle of a near God, despite the earnest efforts of
Australian journalists to portray him as retarded.) I
suspect that they might be spot on. Reagan's greatness was his
ability to find the right advisers and delegate his powers to the best
man. I think Tony might have that same ability.
The ATO (Australian Tax Office) has alleged for some time (more than
five years?) that "Crocodile Dundee" star Paul Hogan owes the Tax
office several tens of millions of dollars. The ATO has placed a
"stop overseas travel" order on Australian star Paul
Hogan preventing him from traveling back to his family in LA.
I think that is a misuse of the powers that have been granted to
ATO. Stopping travel does not actually stop transfer of assets,
and there has been no move (despite warnings) by ATO over the last few
years to begin proceedings. A lawyer's preferred legal position
is to have the opposition begin litigation. This appears to be an
attempt by the ATO to provoke litigation by Hogan to remove the travel
I do not know whether restriction exists in the taxation legislation,
would suggest to our legislators that the power to stop travel
should only be for emergency use, when there is a real fear that an
alleged miscreant is about to permanently depart our shores. I
believe that they should be required to supply within one week at least
of the claim. I would also like to suggest that any such order
should only be for a fixed period (say six months)
after which the order against travel should lapse unless the ATO has
begun court proceedings to recover their money.
WHY I READ FICTION
I might deal with movies at another time. I note that
Wars" movies introduced a Taoist view of the universe, which (like
the economic society behind "Starship Enterprise") was well hidden.
Some people do not read fiction. In defense, I believe that
reading fiction is exercise for the imagination. It is a "Hot"
medium, as explained by
Good fiction is informative. It will widen the readers vocabulary
and teach. It might teach something simple, like advising that
Lake City was settled by Mormons, or something quite complex, like
explaining how a Bussard Ramjet functions.
Good fiction can provide models for behaviour. The reader might
identify worthwhile elements in one of the characters portrayed, and
learn new and hopefully positive character traits. As instances,
some novels teach the code of honour whereby a person's word was held
to be more important than his life. Some show us life from
another's point of view, like Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn.
Others provide an action hero like author Lee Child's "Jack Reacher"
whom we might admire or wish to emulate.
In my opinion the ultimate fiction read is speculative. It
postulates possible social and technological structures that might
arise and speculates how humans might behave in those
circumstances. One well known example is "Brave New World" by A.
Huxley, which explored the likely impact on society of the introduction
of a scientific advance that permitted a factory production line of
Isaac Asimov explored a society that coexisted with
intelligent robots. Iain Banks "Culture" books extend
that speculation to coexistence with superintelligent robots.
In my opinion the elite ultimate of humanity are those who are
the technology that produces our cultural advances. The elite
ultimate is not the elite politicians or
artists or communicators who shape our lives with words and images and
concepts. Not the
elite leaders of education or industry who shape our lives with
welfare. Not the elite captains who shape our lives with force
and service. Without the elite ultimate we would still be
communicating with grunts, eating our meat raw and hunting with stones.
Our elite ultimate are invisible. Their working substance in
this era is bits and
Some theorists speculate that there will be a discontinuity in the rate
of human advances around 2021.