POLITICS IN THE
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
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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
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.
STATE GOVERNMENT CORRUPTION
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,
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.
- Turned the "Women's Hospital" into housing units.
- Turned the Oxford Street reservoir to housing
- Failed an attempt to develop the internationally
famous "White City"
- Turned the Paddington police boy's club (A gift
by the Woollahra people intended to be for a police boy's club) into
- Took over the development of the Toohey's site
near central railway and made it more profitable (higher density units)
- Are now attempting to redevelop the Hakoah Club
as a mall/hotel.
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.
BHP BILLITON POTASH TAKEOVER.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
THE STORY OF LUCY'S PUSSY
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
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
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
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.