16th August 2005
Arnold Toynbee was a controversial historian in his day. I
recently found a copy of his summary volume, "A Study of History"
published in 1976 by Oxfod U.Press, and have been working
Toynbee attempted to do for History what Newton did in Physics, what
Darwin did for evolution, and what J.G.Frazer attempted to do for
religion & mysticism. He compared civilizations, looking for
points of commonality, attempted to isolate recurring elements.
Of necessity, he notes the interaction of religion with culture.
I am oversimplifying, but one of Toynbee's findings that, for the
civilizations, a small group of nation states
would evolve culturally amid an ocean of surrounding barbarism.(China,
Greek, Egyptian. The Indic, Sumerian and South American
civilizations may have followed that progression, but there is
insufficient surviving evidence).
These small nation states, while often fighting among themselves, would
eventually, usually at a high point of creativity, unite. Toynbee
this unification as the beginning of decline. Eventually the
centralism of the new nation would dissipate, usually under the weight
(taxes and corruption.) according to Toynbee.
This dissipated situation (e.g. Rome around the time of Aurelius),
would eventually resolve, either when an external threat appeared, or
after some idealogue unification movement caused reunification under a
new, less corrupted government. In some cases the external threat
overwhelmed the civilization (or a portion of the civilization, e.g.
Eastern orthodox Roman Empire was absorbed by the Muslim civilization,
as was the Nestorian Christian civilization.) in other cases the
adopt the conquered civilization, reviving it. (Western Roman Empire,
Religions are an integral part of the great civilizations. The
Christian church evolved somewhat after the beginning of the Greek
civilization. Many authorities consider that much of Catholic
doctrine was drawn from the earlier Greek-Roman mysticism, as for
instance the Holy Trinity. The Christian religion has evolved
along with Western Civilization. Originally, the Bible was
written in Latin, and (by doctrine) could only be read in that
language. Only a properly sanctified religious teacher could
interpret the bible. Then the German Protestant movement arose,
and the Bible was written in the languages of the worshippers, and each
man was guided by his own conscience. More recently there is the
"Revivalist" movement, where individual prechers may start their own
church, and persuade converts to their own moral interpretation of
God's word. Each evolution in religion has influenced the earlier
churches, for instance the Catholic church now accepts multi-language
bibles, and penances are no longer for sale.
religion is some three or four centuries younger, and (I have read)
religious scholars must read it in the original language.
CARR OUT -
NSW premier Bob Carr resigned recently. He did not give a reason.
New premier Iemma has announced that the real estate "investors" tax is
to be removed as of "today".
The real estate tax, where investors paid around 2.5% tax on the sale
price of a property, was blamed for causing a collapse in the NSW real
estate market by Real estate agents, and was credited by economists
with halting the
dangerous real estate bubble in NSW.
Bob Carr introduced the tax. It is my suspicion, based on
juxtaposition of events, that Bob Carr was told by his party to remove
the tax. I credit him with the integrity to resign rather than
remove the tax. The (now defunct) tax is now being credited
as a clever response to the CGT (in that, after the tax was paid, there
was a 25% reduction in the CGT burden)
If I was a betting man, I would bet on labour being removed from power
at the next election.
In the last days of July the Federal government and the Reserve bank
reassuring the Australian people that interest rates in the near term
will not rise, but might in fact fall. Oil is rising fast towards
US$70/bbl, and gas prices in the US are up around $3/gal (~ $1
As for that noted economist writing under the nom de plume "Henry
Thornton", I noted that a few weeks ago you were predicting that by not
raising interest rates when you suggested, Australians were about
to "pay the price" by having a larger increase in rates in the near
With your track record, Henry, I can only conclude that your employer
uses you for advising what the economy is not about to do.
Although I cannot understand why our respected daily newspapers print
your stuff without that caveat.
I note with interest that Doonsbury is striving to come to terms with
the coming era, where copyright does not apply. He does not seem
to believe that there will be any "great artistes" in our future.
Well I know that Beethoven wasn't a patch on Gershwin, but neither was
he well off. Great artists are driven, it isn't the money.
New Telstra CEO Trujillo has quickly identified that Ziggy managed to
show a "profit" by not modernizing the copper network.
I would like to lodge a complaint at this point. Back in the 70s,
when I connected to Telstra, I was charged the sum of $150 as a
"connection fee" when moving into premises that already had a connected
telephone. (I once worked for Telstra as an ETA, and know that
there was nowhere near a weeks work switching a connection. It
took about ten minutes actually rewiring a circuit, expand that to two
hours at then rate of about $20/hr if clerical time were
included.) Telstra actually financed
it's expansion in those days by charging "connection fees".
So Mr. Howard. Fair go. The people of Australia have
already paid for the "local loop" and it should be handed back to them.
You should give it to the local
councils for management. It is not the Government's to
sell. It belongs to us already.
Let Sol Trujillo manage the rest of Telstra for the paid up
(whose shares are currently ~ $4.80).
.Me, I am glad I sold out around $7 when I realized what a f***wit
Ziggy was. I am not about to buy at the present time or unless it
sinks to about $2 per share or thereabouts.
I do tend to trust Trujillo. I recon our best bet (we are in a
region that is classified as "remote") is satellite, or some sort of
radio repeater system, perhaps using the CDMA band. It also seems
crazy to have separate copper for power and for communications.
In our region, telstra must maintain about 150km of line to service
about 30 customers. The local power network has the same
line/customer ratio. At the very least, they should use the same
I can understand Trujillo wanting several $billion and cancellation of
competition rules in return for building a country broadband. In
the near future some tech wizz could well find a technology that
renders his investment useless. On the other hand, any waiver of
the competition rules should be for a limited period, sufficient for
Telstra to recover it's investment and reasonable profit.