Roxon’s politically correctwitch-hunting season

‘I’ll have you up in front of the Commission if you call me Cretinous Plain Jane again!’

The worst government is the most moral. One composed of cynics is often very tolerant and humane. But when fanatics are on top there is no limit to oppression.

***

The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable, and so, if he is romantic, he tries to change it. And even if he is not romantic personally he is very apt to spread discontent among those who are.

– H L Menken

In the paralysis of non-government that is the Gillard ‘mousepack’ [1] personified, her Attorney general, Nicola Roxon, has come up, against all expectations, with yet another proof that well-meaning idiots are idiots all the same.

Continue reading “Roxon’s politically correctwitch-hunting season”

Roxon’s politically correct
witch-hunting season

‘I’ll have you up in front of the Commission if you call me Cretinous Plain Jane again!’

The worst government is the most moral. One composed of cynics is often very tolerant and humane. But when fanatics are on top there is no limit to oppression.

***

The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable, and so, if he is romantic, he tries to change it. And even if he is not romantic personally he is very apt to spread discontent among those who are.

– H L Menken

In the paralysis of non-government that is the Gillard ‘mousepack’ [1] personified, her Attorney general, Nicola Roxon, has come up, against all expectations, with yet another proof that well-meaning idiots are idiots all the same.

Continue reading “Roxon’s politically correct
witch-hunting season”

UK bedazzled by corporate rationales for criminality

corporate-criminals-gone-wild

There is an almost defeatist tone to the reporting in Britain’s Independent of the HSBC money laundering scandal and the Parliamentary evidence that an alarming number of multinationals are successfully avoiding taxation obligations (see separate articles on taxing multinationals, Starbucks’ tax arrangements, and HSBC).

The defeatism lies in an unspoken but palpable acceptance that nothing can be done to address either issue, which is really a single issue: corporate regulation.
However, there are such obvious choices available to the British Parliament that one has to ask why those options aren’t publicly discussed alongside the bland reportage of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards and an interrogation by the Public Administration Committee of the Permanent Secretary of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.

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The UN corruption sinkhole

un-corruption-001

Personally I have no difficulty with the pragmatics of otherwise unemployable bureaucrats and politicians retiring on generous UN salaries, or the attendant corruption; if the open and unattended UN cash register were right there for my taking, I might help myself to a few million as well.

Nor do I lose sleep worrying about the unprincipled, amoral use of UN auspices to achieve the ends of various multinational corporations; it has not been a secret for some time who really runs governments in the US, Europe, and even that socialist workers’ paradise, China.

What does weary my already over-knotted brow is the never-ending stream of ill-educated, ignorant bien pensant defenders here at Google Plus, and almost everywhere else I turn, who insist that the UN is some noble repository of altruism, and the last great hope for all things cute, cuddly, and green.

It doesn’t matter what facts you table, the bien pensants just cannot bring themselves to believe that the UN has nothing to do with kindness or the brotherhood of man (though the song ‘United We Stand’ probably gets played at a few UN parties after everyone is drunk rotten on the duty free from the latest luxury junket). Even if you can get them to accept some evidence of the UN’s own investigations into UN corruption, they inevitably come back to the ‘what about the children’ argument, expecting you to cease and desist on the basis of some vague hope that UN-coordinated aid earmarked for starving children actually pays for food rather than, say, the local warlord’s shoulder-mounted Stinger missiles and a new shipment of AK 47s, or maybe a senior UN official’s new car.

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State election? We have a Premier?
Who’s Newman?

Campbell Newman: the man with the whip hand.

The news media inform me there’s an election campaign going on around me. Really? I stepped outside. I looked left. I looked right. I even looked up. Nope. Nada. Nothing. Politicians have their work cut out to raise profiles and awareness in a jaded electorate expecting the worst, and usually getting it.

Political apathy is hardly surprising in Australian politics, but this contest is so drearily unnecessary that it’s hard to get excited about the prospect of turfing the incumbents and giving the wet-behind-the ears other lot a chance after 14 years in opposition.

Anna Bligh looks and sounds tired. Her facelift can’t hide the fact that the last five years have pushed her well past her level of competence and energy. Incumbency of more than a decade is a hell of thing to overcome without any dollars left in the public purse, any hope of fabricating any more ‘good news’, and no fresh talent or headline-grabbing issues that might distract voters.

Former Brisbane Lord Mayor Campbell Newman doesn’t even have a seat in Parliament yet, needs more than seven per cent to win Ashgrove from the sitting Labor member, and has no profile outside the State’s south-east corridor. Worse, he’s the leader of a party that has never held office, being a merger of the old Coalition parties, the Liberal and National parties. The last time any of these guys sat on the treasury benches was so long ago that a child born in the dying days of the Borbidge Government would now be a rebellious teenager! A child that never knew about the Bjelke-Petersen era, never did without computers and hand-held devices, and never witnessed political greatness anywhere in Australia, which has been in the grip of a kind of mediocre lull, or surfeit of second-rate political players since the early 2000s.

Continue reading “State election? We have a Premier?
Who’s Newman?”

State election? We have a Premier?Who’s Newman?

Campbell Newman: the man with the whip hand.

The news media inform me there’s an election campaign going on around me. Really? I stepped outside. I looked left. I looked right. I even looked up. Nope. Nada. Nothing. Politicians have their work cut out to raise profiles and awareness in a jaded electorate expecting the worst, and usually getting it.

Political apathy is hardly surprising in Australian politics, but this contest is so drearily unnecessary that it’s hard to get excited about the prospect of turfing the incumbents and giving the wet-behind-the ears other lot a chance after 14 years in opposition.

Anna Bligh looks and sounds tired. Her facelift can’t hide the fact that the last five years have pushed her well past her level of competence and energy. Incumbency of more than a decade is a hell of thing to overcome without any dollars left in the public purse, any hope of fabricating any more ‘good news’, and no fresh talent or headline-grabbing issues that might distract voters.

Former Brisbane Lord Mayor Campbell Newman doesn’t even have a seat in Parliament yet, needs more than seven per cent to win Ashgrove from the sitting Labor member, and has no profile outside the State’s south-east corridor. Worse, he’s the leader of a party that has never held office, being a merger of the old Coalition parties, the Liberal and National parties. The last time any of these guys sat on the treasury benches was so long ago that a child born in the dying days of the Borbidge Government would now be a rebellious teenager! A child that never knew about the Bjelke-Petersen era, never did without computers and hand-held devices, and never witnessed political greatness anywhere in Australia, which has been in the grip of a kind of mediocre lull, or surfeit of second-rate political players since the early 2000s.

Continue reading “State election? We have a Premier?Who’s Newman?”

Abbott’s smoking gun anti-liberalism

The recent passage of the plain packaging for tobacco legislation through the lower house of the Australian Parliament, and the sanctimonious comments issuing from bloggers, news commentators and health fascists everywhere, prompted me to write about my biggest disappointment arising from this legislation – the betrayal of individual liberty and classical liberal principles that are embodied by this move. Put another way, it’s about my disappointment with how exigent politics defeats principled policy-making every time.

Let’s be certain about this: I am a smoker, and have been for years. As a smoker I understand that tobacco consumption poses significant health risks, just as I know that drinking alcohol poses significant health risks, and driving a car, eating too much fattening food, robbing a bank at gunpoint, crossing the street innocently, etc.

As a consumer of a product that is legal, however, I expect not to be treated as a social leper, sinner or other kind of undesirable critter by the state. This is different from accepting a degree of opprobrium extended by private individuals, and even restrictions on when and where I can use the product (as is the case with, say, alcohol, gasoline, matches, mobile phones, etc).

When the state moves to impose on me a requirement that I be unable to access product information on the packaging of that product, replacing the manufacturer’s intentions with state propaganda messages – and that is really what is being proposed – I am concerned enough to voice dissent.

First, let’s be absolutely clear: this is not a move to ‘plain packaging’. It is direct censorship and intervention in free market exchanges. No other product with potentially harmful side-effects has to carry this kind of state mandated propaganda, otherwise we’d have cars carrying large and graphic images of mutilated car crash victims, aircraft depicting charred bodies, alcohol containers plastered with photos of women beaten senseless by violently drunk men, etc. We do not do this because we still accept that these products are legal, and the risks associated with their use are part of the conditions of their use. Smoking, however, has taken on a different category. I see this new category being largely the invention of overly zealous ‘health fascists’, who have assumed the right to interfere in the lives of others on a number of grounds, not least of which is the right of the state to mandate a degree of ‘healthy’ living.

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Spinning Gillard is waste of time

gillard-grimace

Even a carefully crafted media makeover can’t always disguise really obvious character traits.

Reportage by news.com.au this morning that Prime Minister Julia Gillard had enlisted the assistance of a spin ‘guru’ to lift her public approval ratings almost made me choke on my coffee (note that much News Limited content has since been cordoned off by a paywall).

My fit of giggles was prompted not so much by the fact of the matter, but of its immediate leaking to the media. What kind of incompetent idiocy is this?

There’s no secret to the fact that media consultants exist, or that Gillard performs poorly, coming across as a droning bore, a patronising and yet facile presence in the political landscape.

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Grotesque WikiLeaks overreaction undermines rule of law

Why Gillard’s attack on Assange made me ashamed of the Australian Government.

Jualian Assange: Persona non grata.

Let me be perfectly clear at the outset that I have deep misgivings about Julian Assange’s stated motivations for his actions, about the actions themselves, and about the potential effects of the WikiLeaks revelations on international relations. I can’t declare myself a supporter of leaking this kind of information, nor of publishing the same. But I most certainly cannot support the way Assange and WikiLeaks have been attacked by senior government figures.

The American perspective on this is somewhat different to our own because of the constitutional litigiousness that forms part of the American political process. In any case, my concerns are principally parochial as far as this comment is concerned. In Australia a consideration of the government’s response to the latest WikiLeaks revelations doesn’t need to get past the test of the rule of law.

Notionally Westminster democracy has been based on an explicit recognition that the executive, parliament and the judiciary are bound by law just as much as the ordinary citizen, thus acting as a principal check on tyranny since that principle was written into the 1689 Bill of Rights in England. The principle underpins everything that is valuable about our common law system and carries the strongest guarantee that the liberty of citizens cannot be infringed arbitrarily by the state. Put another way, the rule of law makes summary or arbitrary persecution and condemnation unlawful. According to that principle Assange and WikiLeaks should either be charged with an offence under law or left alone to pursue their lawful business.

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Porter was right on the NBN

Michael Porter from CEDA was absolutely right to question the economics of the Labor national broadband network, which should have me, a computer geek, salivating at the very prospect, but has me cringing in anticipation of almost inevitable disappointment.

The first obstacle, the one Porter addressed, is that without detailed numbers, but the already massive $43 billion price tag, it is much more likely to become an open-ended black hole, sucking resources into the alternate universe that Minister Stephen Conroy inhabits.

The second obstacle, also touched on by Porter, is that consumers may actually prefer a choice. I know that I do, and I’m always willing to pay for a service not controlled by the state (or a quasi state body) that is reliable rather than nanny state’s inevitably hamstrung, second-string alternative that works only on nights when the moon is full. The Telstra route for so many years.

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