JANUARY - FEBRUARY 2011.
Last month there was no blog.
Mostly because (yawn) the webserver was down. I am not sure how
long it was down because it was visible from my home network. The
fault was in the aliasing. So I had to sit down, relearn enough
Unix to restore UBUNTU, then relearn the latest APACHE to put the
So now it's back. No bells and whistles. No cool comment
software (because that is something else that has to be kept up to
date, and represents a weakness to hackers). If anyone wants to
comment, there is an email address at the bottom of the page, and I
EGYPT & CORRUPTION
In the news this month is the unrest in Egypt. It is being
ascribed to official corruption, also known by the Persian word
It appears to me that official corruption is to a large degree the
reason for the differences in the wealth of nations. Of course
you cannot really beat owning oil wells or iron ore or coal mines, or
even rich agricultural valleys. But those sources of undeserved
wealth aside, baksheesh is the main source of friction to the smooth
functioning and wealth generation of an economy.
Corruption seems to be a basic human instinct. In the final
analysis corruption is stealing from the community. Stealing when
you have enough food is probably motivated by feelings of inadequacy, a
desire to obtain the love from others that a mother did not offer, or
an attempt to obtain wealth that will attract lots of variety in sexual
partners (when one is, in the final analysis, quite sufficient).
I understand stealing is common throughout the animal kingdom.
There are many ways to change a government. The Chinese refer to
their rulers as holding a "Mandate from Heaven". When the rulers
lose that, they lose power. I found enlightening the Tianamen
Square incident. Apparently the rulers got the message that they
were losing that mandate, because although reports indicate that
corruption is still rife, apparently enough has been eradicated to
allow the economy to zing. I look forward to the Chinese
government becoming even more responsive to the will of it's people as
it absorbs the lessons learned from Hong Kong and the (eventual)
peaceful absorption of Taiwan, and as the social networks expand.
So back to Egypt. President Obama seems bent on doing the Carter
thing of abandoning an ally when the heat is on. Of course he
expresses the highest moral principles whilst doing so. Probably
even feels in his heart that he is doing "the right thing". Such
naive logic is all too common among Liberals. He seems to have
retreated somewhat from that position, and perhaps we will see a
peaceful transition to a sectarian government.
The results of bloody revolution are usually the replacement of a
corrupt regime by an even more corrupt regime. The best way to
get an improved government seems to be to lose a war and/or have a
government formed under the supervision of the USA. I cite Iraq,
Germany, Japan, Italy, South Korea. Exceptions seem to be China,
worst examples are Cuba, North Korea, Iran, and several minor countries
Venezuela is an example of inappropriately applied US trade and
diplomatic pressure turning a potential friend into a bitter enemy.
Julia Gillard is in an invidious position.
With the help of three independents (or is that four?) she controls the
lower house. She does not control the upper house until
July. I suspect that when the Greens do take up their Senate
positions in July, the independents in the lower house, and also the
Greens, will become even more demanding.
The current issues are the NBN, floods, drought and how to finance them.
The government keeps saying that the NBN does not need financing, but
nobody believes them. It is going to cost more than $43 billion,
and everybody is moving to wireless. But on the plus side for the
government, it will be a gold Mine for union bosses in the
The Greens are saying the floods and drought are both caused by Global
Warming. To pay for the drought, Julia Gillard is cutting funding
to alternative energy subsidies to a chorus of objections from
coalition partner the Greens. The opposition suggests deferring $
half a billion aid to Indonesian Muslim schools. Abbots deputy
and shadow Foreign minister Bishop has created stress by objecting to
As a libertarian, I think the government should be returning equally to
all the people any surfeit of taxes collected after expenditure on
National Security and minimalist government services. Help for
floods and Indonesian schools should be voluntary contributions.
Subsidies of any kind should be stopped, although I would approve a
carbon tax (operated like the GST). Income tax is regressive, and
an excuse for executives to demand higher wages. And anyhow, it
does not apply to the Packers and Murdochs of this world, but mostly to
hard working Australians earning less than $150,000 pa. If
someone gets more than that, he is probably collecting a large part of
his income in a tax haven. Henry George
expounded the issues more than a century ago.