ARCHIVES 1997-2007  --- ARCHIVES 2007 +



I am a political conservative.  I think less government is better, and that our government should keep it's fingers out of foreign politics.  I am also a libertarian.  So believe that if fellow citizens wish to express either captious or laudatory opinions about Mahommed, totalitarian forms of government, feminism or race etc, then they should be free to do so, and enjoy the utmost protection from our forces of law and order against those who have differing opinions.

Sometimes I go to a hotbed of radical extremism in Surrey Hills at the Gaelic Club.  The group calls itself Politics in the Pub" and meet Fridays.  They provide featured speakers on, well, radical subjects.  Last Friday there was a film maker whose subject was the poor mistreated Palestinians.  So far as I could establish, she felt that the Palestinians were in the right because they were so hopeless at winning against the Israelis.  "You just have to look at the fatality count comparison" she said.

"Well Duh" I thought.  "Would you sympathize with the crooks because the cops seem to always win?"

Lets look at a brief narrative of Israeli history.  Israel has been occupied since Roman times.  (and before that, if you read it up).  The count of Jews living there has been subject to the whims of the occupying power.  The Turks transported a lot out in the 19th Century.  The Turks transported lots of their subject races, just ask a Greek.  Then after the Turkish defeat of WWI the Brits got Palestine under a mandate from the League of Nations.

Back in the 1940's the Israelis and the Palestinians were having a civil war. The newly formed UN did what it should have done in 1994 in Rwanda.  It divided the country along the ceasefire line, and declared two nations, Palestine and Israel.  Neither side was happy, but it was better than civil war.

In the 1950's the Suez Crisis increased tension, when UK and France joined up with Israel to counter Egypt's unilateral abrogation of the Suez Canal treaty.

In 1967 the Palestinians united with others (Syria, Jordan and Egypt) and broke that peace by mobilizing for an invasion of Israel.  Much to the humiliation of Arab pride, the Israelis took six days to wipe them off the map.  The Israelis ended up with the Sinai peninsula and Golan Heights, and the West Bank (Palestine).

The Egyptians subsequently signed a peace treaty with the Israelis, and got all of their territory (Sinai and the Suez Canal) back.  Since then relations between Israel have been civilized, if not cordial.

The Syrians declined to sign a peace treaty and still have not got Golan Heights back.

The Palestinians have refused to sign a peace treaty, but nonetheless have got most of Palestine back, but as an occupied country with limited self rule.  The Israelis have at times (e.g. under the auspices of Bill Clinton?) offered all the territory (to UN 1967 borders, even including parts of Jerusalem, I believe) back, but balked at granting the "Right of Return". 

My own narrative of why peace is not happening is that there are too many players, too much oil money, and overriding religious reasons.

The Shia Sunni struggle is between the Iranians and the Saudis.  Both have oil money.  The Iranians have a theocratic Shia dictatorship with a somewhat rebellious population of around 70 million.  The Saudis have a non sectarian kingdom of about 25 million with an independent extremist Wahhabi cleric estate.  Iraq is mostly Shia.  Egypt has no money but 80 million people.  The Israeli Palestinian struggle is between proxies for those powers.

All middle eastern states are Muslim, and Mahommed taught that they should not fight among themselves.  He also provided the example of persecuting Jews.  (Although his actions belied his words, such as "do as I say, not as I do".  Mahommed was a powerful warlord and slaveowner who always spoke words of peace and spoke against slavery.)  Israel is thus a state of extreme interest to all Muslims.

I have no respect for those who seem to assume that the Israelis are in the wrong because the fatality count is what it is.  My answer to them is, compare that fatality count to the populations of Muslims and Jews, or Arabs and Israelis.


I am actually very hopeful that our new minority government might actually advantage we the Australian people.

Let us look at the deal.
  1. Labour has a minerals tax coming up.  Julia has done some sort of deal with the big companies, and Wayne is trying to keep that deal secret until the legislation is before parliament.  Windsor does not seem to be buying that, and wants to see it now.  So do I.  Lets make sure that Julia didn't do a giveaway to stop them (BHP et al) from advertising against Labour during the election.
  2. The NBN has been promised by Labour, but to me the numbers do not coalesce.  So lets see some sort of assessment.  I mean $43 billion is a debt of about $5,000 per taxpayer.  The interest on that is at least $500 p/a, or $40/month.  So if every taxpayer gets a connect, it will cost each taxpayer $50/monthly plus any service/download volume fees.  And that is never paying out the principal!   I suspect that everyone will want to see those numbers.
Treasury's sticky fingerprints are all over those two matters.  I must say that I am becoming somewhat dubious of the impartiality of our public servants in Treasury.  If Julia will not force them to disgorge their calculations, then perhaps we need to have Tony ask them, or at least sack them.

So Julia in power is win-win.  If Tony took over, we would not get the white elephant NBN, but unfortunately we would also not get the floods of mining $ either.  This way, we might get the mining $ and (after the facts come out) we probably won't get the $43 billion NBN.  And the Greens will get their share of the negative karma.

Of course, the problem is, Labour might reinstate Kevin.


General Petraeus might be a good military tactician, but he should keep out of the public arena.
   The threat by Southern preachers to burn Korans is quite within their constitutional rights, just as it is within the constitutional rights of Muslims to build a mosque near the site of 9/11.  That is the way a liberal democracy works.

The Middle Eastern people that I have known are fully able to comprehend those facts.  The middle East is the cradle of civilization.  They had writing before the Western civilizations could make iron weapons.  They fully comprehend that we cannot stop them from building a mosque without breaching our constitutional principles.  They also fully comprehend that we cannot stop those Southern preachers from burning Korans.

I suppose the good general Petraeus is just making a political statement.  Or perhaps he has been persuaded that those Afghans are so primitive that they do not understand the above simple facts.  Don't be fooled General.  They might not wash more than once a year, but they are not stupid.


This is the way corruption works.

The government executive uses a power that it has legislated to itself to favor a large corporation.  The large corporation rewards the political party of the government by giving it a "political contribution" 
(aka bribe).  For reasons of symmetry the bribe is often granted to both parties, although the party in power gets the biggest contribution.  An added twist happens when the large corporation is unionized, and the unions contribute so that their employer large corporation obtains favored status (and they get "union favorable" legislation)

The biggest game in town is construction.  Housing is expensive because of bribes paid to state and local government.  Coles and Woolworths dominate the retail market because of the contributions to government that permit shopping centre and housing unit construction.  Just in the local area of Eastern Sydney the state government has, in the last few years,
  1. Turned the "Women's Hospital" into housing units.
  2. Turned the Oxford Street reservoir to housing units.
  3. Failed an attempt to develop the internationally famous "White City"
  4. Turned the Paddington police boy's club (A gift by the Woollahra people intended to be for a police boy's club) into housing units.
  5. Took over the development of the Toohey's site near central railway and made it more profitable (higher density units) for developers.
  6. Are now attempting to redevelop the Hakoah Club as a mall/hotel.
Those are just off the top of my head.  Other developments in Surry Hills are evident.  The reason we do not have WAL-MART in Australia is probably because of government restrictions on development.  Even ALDI has experienced difficulty obtaining outlets because of restrictive government codes.

A part of the cure is therefore probably to limit the powers of state government by making councils independent of state government.  And then making local councils the final building permission authority.

I suspect that the Labour party benefits most from the current arrangement, because they collect money from the labour unions who are employed in the building industry.  That probably explains why state governments are mostly of the Labour flavor.

So the second part of the cure is to require (as in the USA) that any political contribution over $10 must be reported.


What are the reasons for making an onmarket bid for a competitor?

It seems to happen all the time, especially in the insurance business.  The Insurance industry could barely wait to have GIO and NRMA out of the government / co-operatives' hands.  The MBF co-op was snapped up, and I suspect that government owned Medibank Private will soon be sold.  It is fairly obvious why corporate insurance wants government and co-op insurers out of the market.  They want the low cost (i.e. low dividend producing) competitors out of the market, so that a higher margin can be charged by the remaining businesses.

But what is the logic behind the BHP Billiton $40 billion offer for the Canadian Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan?   BHPB is building it's own potash capacity in Canada, and expects to have it online within a few years.  Such bids for competitors seem to be not uncommon in the mining industry.  How does such a bid affect the market for potash?

My own take is the offer is a "valuation" bid.  The share price of the target probably does not reflect the replacement value of the investment, especially for a newcomer with new equipment.  By making a bid, either a cheap asset is gained, or a successful counter bid (by a "white Knight") will establish a higher valuation of the assets, and put upward pressure on the market price that the newly owned Potash Corporation will be charging to pay interest on the debt incurred in it's purchase.

So BHP-B is not trying to take over Saskatchewan-Potash, it is just attempting to raise the market price of the product (potash).  Makings that bid is a win-win situation.


This is a true story.  The events happened over a decade ago.  I have changed the names of the relevant people to protect myself from legal problems.

Cats are not my favourite animal.  When I was 7 I found an abandoned kitten and brought it home.  Since then I have had a couple of dogs.  My current petless status results from my avoidance of the responsibility that a pet demands.

I live in the inner city.  My garden at that time was a series of flower pots of various sizes on a deck that might have had a couple of hours sunlight each day.  I liked that garden.  Not to the point of being in it for hours a day, more like a few minutes each week.

At the time I had a neighbor called Lucy B.  Lucy shared a back lane entrance with me.  Lucy was quite gorgeous, but of an opposite sexual orientation to myself.  (I am dedicated heterosexual).  Lucy had a live in partner called Jenny, and to complete her household, adopted a pussycat.

Some time later I noticed that my flowers began to die.  Eventually I noticed Lucy's pussy prowling my garden.  Further investigation revealed that cat fecal matter was apparently poisoning my plants.  I suspected Lucy's pussy.

I made known my suspicions to Lucy.  Lucy countered airily that a cat will do what a cat will do.  "That's a cat's nature" she said.  She remarked that inner city gardens were not a realistic possibility in such a densely populated suburb.  So I was left to ponder a unilateral solution.

As a country boy I knew a bit about rabbit traps.  I thought a mouse trap might discourage Lucy's pussy.  I set a mousetrap under a thin layer of loose soil in my garden pot.  And wondered what would happen.

What happened was at about 2AM the next night.  I was woken by a SNAP followed by a YEOOOWL.

Lucy's pussy did not trouble my garden any more.  Lucy asked me (rather too casually I thought) if I knew what might have happened to her cat.   I feigned innocence and asked what did she mean?  Apparently pussy was licking her paws and limping.

On the bright side, I knew that nothing I had done could have crueled my chances at Lucy's pussy.

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