Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Wall St and Ayn Rand Pt 2

Further to my Saturday post, Wall St: What would Ayn Rand think? the timely words of a commenter ...

Here's a timely quote from Rand. It's almost as if she could see the future - though in reality, she was simply restating what she had seen in Communist Russia.

"Watch money. Money is the barometer of a society’s virtue. When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion–when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing–when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors–when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you–when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice–you may know that your society is doomed."
(Thanks to reader: Brian)

Also included in his comment:

... "if you would like to know exactly what government manipulations of the economy brought us to this crisis, read this excellent article - written 8 years ago - which predicted the whole thing.

Monday, September 29, 2008

2008 Lowy Institute Poll

The push for climate change has finally met the reality of our society. The Lowy Institute surveys the attitudes of Australians to foreign policy matters on a yearly basis and this years result reveal that climate change has slipped in ranking from first to fifth most important.

Amongst many interesting findings:

Support for the US alliance is up to the highest overall level since we started polling in 2005

Australians love Barack Obama

A majority of Australians now oppose our military involvement in Afghanistan

58% of Australians want the government to do more to stop all Japanese whaling, even if we risk losing valuable trade deals.

62% of Australians see China’s growth as being good for Australia ... (and) that we should join with other countries to limit China’s influence.

Economic considerations overtook tackling climate change as the most important foreign policy goal, but climate-related issues topped the list of threats to Australia.

51% of Australians said they weren’t confident in the government’s ability to deal with global warming.

When it comes to paying to help address climate change, 53% of Australians are only prepared to pay $10 or less extra on their electricity bill each month to help solve the problem.
More information here

Link to full report: Australia and the world: public opinion and foreign policy

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Political Career and the Art of Possibility

An existing or unrealized politician’s life story is immaterial, well almost …

"The best element of every democracy is that each individual has the potential and the right to stand for (political) office. It's what they offer beyond their own experience, and their capacity to imagine and think beyond their intellectual and ideological boundaries, that counts in the end."

Individualism holds that the individual is a quantifiable constituent of achievement, it suggests that achievement goes beyond what one has realized and/or failed to achieve in the past, it converges on the premise of potentiality's - the latent force.

I am attracted to this hypothesis.

The quote was taken from here ...


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Wall St: What would Ayn Rand think?

Not to be construed as a drift toward Libertarianism...

A great day for the United States of America?

A reminder of what a great power can do when its back is against the wall?

A historic move by a lame-duck administration many thought could no longer solve any problems?

It will be some time before we know whether this week will go down in history as all, or even some, of those things. But as the largest bailout in government history unfolded in almost dizzying waves over recent days, a very different view prevailed at the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights, an outpost of free-market, anti-government thinking located just a few blocks from the newly aggressive and highly interventionist Department of Treasury in downtown Washington.

"It's a complete disaster," said Yaron Brook, the executive director of the center. "Its a form of national socialism of the financial markets...This is socialism 101." >> more

We will know the lesson of “Atlas Shrugged” and Rand when businesspersons facing accusers in Government and/or media, stand up like Rearden for their right to produce and trade freely, when they take pride in their profits and stop apologizing for creating wealth. >> more

Friday, September 26, 2008

Wall Street Crises: How it unfolded ...

As George W Bush haggles to win congressional approval for the $US700 billion Wall Street bailout, several of my American Interests readers have emailed for my take on how the crises unfolded. Quite fittingly then, I think it's worth pointing us to Charles Morris' 8 Steps to a Trillion Dollar Meltdown; well worth the read:

1. The Fed spikes the punch bowl. In the wake of the dot-com bust and 9/11, the Fed lowers interest rates to 1 percent, the lowest since 1958. For more than 2½ years, long after the economy has resumed growing, the Fed funds rate remains lower than the rate of inflation. For banks, in effect, money is free.

2. Leverage soars. Financial sector debt, household debt, and home prices all double. Big banks shift their business models away from executing transactions for customers to “principal trading”—or gambling from their own accounts with borrowed money. In 2007, the principal-trading accounts at Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, and Merrill Lynch balloon to $1.3 trillion.

3. Consumers throw a toga party. Soaring home prices convert houses into ATMs. In the 2000s, consumers extract more than $4 trillion from their homes in net free cash (excluding financing costs and housing investment). From 2004 through 2006, such extractions exceed 7 percent of disposable personal income. Personal consumption surges from its traditional 66 to 67 percent of GDP to 72 percent by 2007, the highest rate on record.

4. A dollar tsunami. The United States’ current-account deficits exceed $4.9 trillion from 2000 through 2007, almost all for oil or consumer goods. (The current account is the most complete measure of U.S. trade, as it encompasses goods, services, and capital and financial flows.) Economists, including one Ben S. Bernanke, argue that a “global savings glut” will force the world to absorb dollars for another 10 or 20 years. They’re wrong.

5. Yields plummet. The cash flood sweeps across all risky assets. With so many people taking advantage of cheap loans, the most risky mortgage-backed securities carry only slightly higher interest rates than ultra-safe government bonds. The leverage, or level of borrowing, on private-equity company buyout deals jumps by 50 percent. Takeover funds load even more debt onto their portfolio companies to finance big cash dividends for themselves.

6. Hedge funds peddle crystal meth. Aggressive investors pour money into hedge funds generating artificially high returns by betting with borrowed money. To maximize yields, hedge funds also gravitate to the riskiest mortgages, like subprime, and to the riskiest bonds, which absorb losses on complex pools of lower-quality mortgages known as collateralized debt obligations or CDOs. The profits from selling bonds based on very risky underlying securities override bankers’ traditional risk aversion. By 2006, high-risk lending becomes the norm in the home-mortgage industry.

7. A ratings antigravity machine. Pension funds cannot generally invest in very risky paper as a mainstream asset class. So, banks and investment banks, with the acquiescence of the ratings agencies, create "structured” bonds with an illusion of safety. Eighty million dollars of "senior” CDO bonds backed by a $100 million pool of subprime mortgages will not incur losses until the defaults in the pool exceed 20 percent. The ratings agencies confer triple-A ratings on such bonds; investors assume they are equivalent to default-proof U.S. Treasury bonds or blue-chip corporates. To their shock, investors around the world discover that as pool defaults start rising, their senior CDO bonds rapidly lose trading value long before they suffer actual defaults.

8. The Wile E. Coyote moment arrives. Suddenly last summer, all the pretenses start to come undone, and the market is caught frantically spinning its legs in vacant space. The federal government responds with more than $1 trillion in new mortgage lending and lending authorizations in multiple guises from Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the federal Housing Finance Board, and the Federal Reserve. Home prices still drop relentlessly; signs of recession proliferate; risky assets plummet.
Via: FP Foreign Policy

Is the bail out an good idea or will it make matters worse

Mid-week message board

Your turn to make comments on whatever topic aspect of Liberal Party matters you choose and/or takes your fancy.

You can provide a name or remain anonymous it does not matter, the only rules are:

(i) No course language and (ii) Keep the discussion civil ...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Luxury Car Tax Update

The opposition has continued its attack on the luxury car tax bill as it passed the final stage of parliamentary processes. The Coalition's deputy Senate leader, Eric Abetz, argues the changes are inflationary and unfair. He says Family First's amendments mean that the bill provides a tax break for farmers who use expensive four-wheel drives but not their farm workers.

We have one of the most socially unequal pieces of legislation passed through this place, the inequity of the amendments is gross, I would even describe it as obscene.
Meanwhile the peak body representing the Australian car industry, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), says the legislation agreed to by the Senate, imposing an increase in the luxury car tax is deeply flawed according to its spekesperson.
This tax hike was always bad policy and the various conflicting amendments passed by the Senate have only deepened the flaws in the legislation," FCAI Chief Executive Andrew McKellar said. "The industry is disappointed the Federal Government has pursued political expediency and sacrificed principles of good policy formulation in order to achieve a short-term tax grab," he said. We are concerned with the lack of consultation and particularly disappointed with the apparent disregard the government has shown towards the Australian automotive industry on this matter. >> more
Well to do Australians can splurge on luxury cruises, fine jewellary and designer clothing while just paying the standard 10% GST, so why the bias with luxury cars? Where is the logic?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Luxury Car Tax

The paradox of the car tax bill...

The federal government's luxury car tax increase finally passed parliament's upper house yesterday after being amended by cross bench senators. The government's four bills seek to lift the luxury car tax, which applies to cars worth more than $57,180, from 25 per cent to 33 per cent.

The bills were defeated in the Senate earlier this month after Family First Senator Steve Fielding sided with the coalition to vote it down. >> more

As the Government re-introduced its amended luxury car tax bill into the senate following its deal with Family First, a pertinent thought came to mind...

What a shame Labor politicians could not see beyond tax matters and ideology thus making it possible for us to drive the best cars obtainable at the most affordable market set pricing. Purported “luxury cars” comprise of the safest, most efficient offered; least from an emissions standpoint.

Given to, the fixation many politicos have with road safety, one would think that they would have as many of us as possible benefiting from the latest technologies, which incidentally are typically developed by, and included first, in luxury models .

Instead, they seek to increase tax taking from the upper end of this market and in doing so, artificially preserve the value of older less efficient, more unsafe vehicles. The result sees us keeping these older units on our roads longer than they would otherwise be, courtesy of values driven by tax imperatives …

(Thanks to reader Lisa)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

FuelWatch is dying - albeit slowly

FuelWatch: the slow death of a bad idea. The extraordinary attack on Associate Professor Frank Zumbo by Graeme Samuel was really the sound of a bad idea thrashing around in its death throes. Few these days, apart from Rudd's Minister for Competition Policy and Consumer Affairs Chris Bowen, members of the Government's media cheer squad and Graeme Samuel, can refer to "Fuelwatch" with a straight face. In a related story, Prof Zumbo says the ACCC needs more powers to curb petrol rip-offs. In an up-to-date assessment of the latest industry data on retail and wholesale margins, he shows that the rip-off continues.

Read the whole article here

(Via: The Australian Conservative)

How long we ask, before GroceryWatch goes the way of FuelWatch? How long before they invoke the argument advanced by Access that in fact, grocery prices, like petrol prices, are indices outside their control?

Not that they said this during the ’07 election campaign … we look forward to the new opposition front bench putting focus on the Governments, love of symbolism and glossy rhetoric, tokenistic gesturing and impressionistic, light in substance policy making …

See also:

Rudd’s main election strategy in shambles
Labor slogans and symbolism

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Prime Tourist Rudd

Today, Rudd flies to New York on a VIP jet to give a 25-minute speech at the UN General Assembly. It will be his 16th trip in 10 months.

Said Malcolm Turnbull on Channel 9:

"The Prime Minister's got to run the country. It's a question of balance ... Just because you're sitting on an aeroplane flying to New York doesn't mean you're doing anything ... Nobody is saying that he shouldn't travel overseas. The question is, he is spending more time overseas than any prime minister in our history. He's spending more time overseas than his own foreign minister ... Have we elected a Prime minister, or a prime tourist?"
There are four more trips in the planning, including meetings in Peru, Chile and Brazil in November. That's three times more overseas trips than John Howard took in his first year as prime minister, double the amount of time Foreign Minister Stephen Smith has spent overseas -- and more than most Australians travel in a lifetime.

Political commentators have already begun to describe Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard as the Government's backbone.

But to punters, his jet-setting reflects their Prime Minister's self-importance and fondness for meeting celebrities.

(Via: NEWS.com.au)

Amazing, last month Beijing, South Korea, Singapore, Nuie and New Zealand ... and this week New York.

See also: Around the world with Kevin Rudd by Glenn Milne

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Online Survey: 2008 U.S. Presidential Election – New York University

In an effort to seek a better understanding of voting behavior from a psychological perspective, a research team from New York University, headed by Professor Yaacov Trope, and supported by the National Science Foundation, is investigating the cognitive causes of voting behavior, political preferences, and candidate evaluations throughout the course of the 2008 U.S. Presidential election. This stage of the study focuses on the information people use to inform evaluations during the last few weeks before the election. They seek respondents of all political leanings from all over the country (and from the rest of the world) to complete a 15-minute questionnaire, the responses to which will be completely anonymous...

Here is the link to the survey:


The survey is not funded by any candidate office, nor aimed at altering respondents’ opinions.

In accordance with instructions issued by the research team and, with the aim of avoiding bias to circumvent some of the unwanted and common effects associated with psychological research, please accept that reader comments for this specific post are disallowed.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Mid-week message board

Your turn to make comments on whatever topic aspect of Liberal Party matters you choose and/or takes your fancy.

You can provide a name or remain anonymous it does not matter, the only rules are:

(i) No course language and (ii) Keep the discussion civil ...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Turnbull - I'll lead you to victory

Malcolm Turnbull has pitched himself as one who understands what it's like to be broke, in his first address as leader.

After congratulating Mr Turnbull, Mr Costello said he is happy to be of any assistance. Said the former Treasurer:
It's a great accolade for Malcolm Turnbull to be elected leader of the Liberal Party today and [he] now has a wonderful opportunity to lead the Party and win Government.
The obvious benefit of his ascension that it should put an end to the constant leadership speculation that has compromised the Party's ability to present a cohesive policy front.

What happened today represents the genuine transition after the 2007 Liberal Coalition defeat.
Nelson although admirable in many respects, did not connect in the same vein that the hard working Simon Crean did not make the grade. Malcolm Turnbull represents the real transition and, ALTHOUGH HE IS NO BONAFIDE CONSERVATIVE, the Turnbull resume is impeccable, and demonstrates many a personal quality. Let the individual within rise.

Politics is altogether a different animal to that of the corporate world. Can he relate to, and empathize with the electorate? At least today, he passed with excellence; the early indicators are therefore good.

Many have questioned his interpersonal skills especially in terms of temperament; here I wonder what all the fuss is about. Would he have got as far as he has without some measure of social dexterity?

Bring on the contest! Rudd Vs Turnbull, both are good at what they do but the former has some answering to do as regards the economy, and if anyone other than Costello can make him accountable its Malcolm Turnbull. I say again, let the individual within rise….

Photo credit: The Daily Telegraph

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Dangerous human-caused warming can neither be demonstrated nor measured

By Physicist Dr. John Nicol, Chairman, Australia Climate Science Coalition, former Senior Lecturer of Physics at James Cook University, Townsville, Australia.

There is no evidence, neither empirical nor theoretical, that carbon dioxide emissions from industrial and other human activities can have any effect on global climate. In addition, the claims so often made that there is a consensus among climate scientists that global warming is the result of increased man-made emissions of CO2, has no basis in fact. The results of accurate measurements of global temperatures continue to be analysed by the international laboratories, now with 30 years experience in this process while a large number of scientists continue to perform high quality research. The results of these activities clearly demonstrate a wide range of errors in the IPCC projections. Among the more obvious of these errors was the prediction of global warming expected by modelling of climate for the last three years. The actual measurements of global cooling in 2007/2008, flew directly in the face of these IPCC models. It would be difficult to find a more definitive illustration of an experimental error. >> more

Via: (Australian Politics)

As Bolt also pointed out:
And, no, it’s not immoral to figure there’s no point spending big money to “stop” this warming when it won’t make a blind bit of difference.
In time the governments global warming stance will exposed as a con of sorts, witness last weeks news from Ross Garnaut that basically equated to this; the best thing Australian can do is nothing. No nothing immoral...

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Pensioners doing it hard

News emerges that the Rudd Government considered the question of age pensions in detail prior to the May budget bud decided to take little action. It’s questionable as to whether Rudd and Swan now regret the decision to take no action other than the existing $500 bonus as pressure mounts.

Recall that during the 2007 election campaign, the Coalition guaranteed senior Australians that pensions would be topped up to ensure they were fully compensated for the increases in the Living Cost Index for Age Pensioner Households (LCIAP).

So while pensioners continue doing it tough n $273 per week the Minister for Families, Jenny Macklin continues to fail to exert any pressure on the Government to do anything prior to when convenient, possibly 2009. Let us hope pensioners are not offered another review, or ‘watching ‘scheme of sorts.

The Coalition has called for an increase to the single aged pension of $30, adding that as the cost of living rises, elderly Australians are worse off since the election. >> more

Meanwhile Kevin Rudd's off on his 16th overseas trip

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Mid-week message board

That time of the week again ... It's your turn to make comments on whatever topic aspect of Liberal Party matters you choose and/or takes your fancy. You can provide a name or remain anonymous it does not matter, the only rules are:

(i) No course language and
(ii) Keep the discussion civil ...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Victorian Liberal Party Issues Briefing

State News

Economic data released last week points to a slowdown in the Victorian economy, with the latest export figures highlighting the state’s decline under the current Labor Government. Shadow Treasurer, Kim Wells has exposed this government’s poor record on exports, which have stagnated over the last 2 years in comparison to other states. In fact, the 0.3% fall in exports in the June quarter was the third straight fall – compared to a national rise in exports over the quarter of 2.7%. The Victorian export sector has continued to suffer under almost a decade of Labor, with Victoria’s share of national exports shrinking dramatically since 1999. In other areas too, Victoria’s economy is underperforming, consumer confidence is down 0.4% and business investment has slowed, with growth in this sector almost half what it was last year.

To read more of Shadow Treasurer, Kim Wells’ analysis of latest economic click on the links below:

Victorian Households Doing it Harder
Brumby and Lenders Backflip on Economic Growth
Victorian Exports Slump

More evidence of the Brumby Labor Government’s poor management of major projects and the states finances has come to light recently. The departure of the Chairman of the Victorian Funds Management Corporation (VFMC), Labor-mate Mike Fitzpatrick, means that 5 senior figures have quit the board of the VFMC in the last 12 months. Coupled with this mass exodus of board members, it has also been revealed that the fund, which offers funds management services to the Victorian public sector, recorded an unprecedented $4.2 billion decline in assets in the last 12 months – over the same period the Federal Government’s Future Fund grew by $652 million.
But poor financial management isn’t the only problem facing the government; questions also continue to be raised over Labor’s handling of major projects following revelations that the company contracted to develop the technology has been given a $20 million payment for a system which is already millions of dollars over budget and running more than a year behind schedule. When questioned over the payment, whose existence was only discovered after an FOI request, the Public Transport Minister, Lynne Kosky was unable to explain what the $20 million was for. The MYKI ticketing system is now expected to commence some time in 2010, at a cost to taxpayers of more than $1 billion.

More information on the Coalition’s response to these issues can be found by clicking the links below:

VFMC Chairman Quits Following Fund’s $4.2 Billion Loss in Value
Brumby Repays Kamco $20 Million for Incomplete, Late MYKI

Federal News

The Coalition’s record of strong financial management was highlighted in the latest National Accounts data. The Australian economy continues to grow thanks to the reforms undertaken by the previous government, which helped not only to wipe out $96 billion worth of Labor debt but also helped Australia record an unprecedented period of growth. This good work however is being jepordised by the economically irresponsible policies of the current Rudd Labor Government. Policies which have seen Labor raid the budget surplus to establish “Infrastructure Funds”; to help pay for projects the Labor State’s refused to deliver. While the latest economic figures show an overall growth in the nations GDP, the June quarter results highlight a slowing of the economy and GDP growth under Labor. This slowdown can only be countered with responsible economic management, and this is something the Labor Government has so far failed to deliver.

Consumer confidence has fallen for the first time in more than a decade, and Australia now ranks second lowest in the OECD when it comes to consumer confidence. Following months of talking the economy down, the Prime Minister and the Treasurer have succeeded in spooking the Australian public into spending less and this has impacted on the performance of the national economy. Labor’s flawed economic tactic of talking up the “inflation problem” has helped contribute to this fall in consumer spending. It’s time for the government to stop playing political games with the economy and focus on continued strong economic growth across all sectors.

To find out more about the latest economic figures and their effects on the nation, click on the links below:

June Quarter 2008 National Accounts
Consumer Confidence Second Lowest in OECD

Labor’s flawed policies are not constrained to economic policy, in other areas cracks are starting to appear for the Rudd Government. In Industrial Relations, it has been revealed that since coming to power late last year there has been an 800% increase in strike action. While the previous Coalition Government managed to deliver a fall in industrial strike action to levels not seen since 1913, after less than a year in office, Labor has presided over a period that has seen the rate of strikes double in every quarter since the election. This increase in strikes has the potential to cost the national economy millions of dollars in lost production. At a time when business sectors such as manufacturing are already faltering, the national economy cannot afford to deal with policies that have a negative effect on growth.

800% Increase in Working Days Lost to Strike Action

Monday, September 08, 2008

WA vote

Labor coast-to-coast rule is unraveling as voters voice their concern about labors failures. Meanwhile the WA election signals discontent with all.

The surprise results in the WA election are less about the relative merits of the major parties than the fact that the electorate can't work out if there's anyone worth voting for The dust has yet to settle after the State election in Western Australia. With the result so tight, are we really looking at a hung parliament, or Labor holding on by an improbable partnership with four Nationals? (It happened briefly in Victoria a long time ago, and lasted only a few weeks.) Or is this just coy game-playing by the Nats' Brendon Grylls, squeezing the best deal he can out of the Liberals in the hours before they sign up for the customary coalition?

(Via: newmatilda.com)

However, would the end of coast-to-coast Labor rule hurt Rudd? Paul Kelly thinks not. >> more

Not all agree, in the words of Senator Mitch Fifield on SKY News - AM Agenda this morning:
"... about there being no federal factors at play. I think there were certainly both state and federal factors at play in the West Australian election. Alan Carpenter cynically and opportunistically called an early election. He then did a truly bizarre thing campaigning on fringe issues such as opposition to uranium mining and genetically modified crops. Colin Barnett focussed on the issues that matter to people - law and order, schools and health. And also put the question - where is the benefit of the mining boom for the people of Western Australia? But there were also federal factors at play. In fact, Labor Senator Chris Evans, the Leader of the Government in the Senate, admitted to Kieran Gilbert on Sky’s coverage on Saturday night that grocery prices and petrol prices were a factor in the election. Now if grocery prices and petrol prices were a factor in the election, that means people were walking into the polling booth asking themselves what have federal Labor done about those things that they promised to address. They haven’t addressed them, they were irresponsible in claiming that they could do something about them in the first place and I think that was part of the verdict at the weekend. But what we also saw at the weekend was a rejection of the state Labor do-nothing approach to governing. And that’s an approach that Kevin Rudd has brought to Canberra. Kevin Rudd is running the federal government as though it’s a state Labor government, doing nothing and focussing on spin. So there were certainly both state and federal factors at play."

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Kennett was best

Kennett was better, says union

Premier John Brumby is facing a revolt by the Labor-dominated union movement, with one union leader saying former Liberal premier Jeff Kennett did more to protect Victoria's manufacturing industry.

As thousands of jobs are cut from the manufacturing firms, unions are accusing Mr Brumby and Industry Minister Theo Theophanous of not doing enough to support the sector.

The state secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union, Steve Dargavel, wrote to Mr Theophanous on Tuesday saying he had reneged on promises
to consult unions and other players about how Victoria should respond to the manufacturing downturn. >>more
(Via The Age)

Well I’ll be buggered!

It was, was it not? Generally accepted by his detractors, that the Kennett government adopted a hostile approach to dealing with Victorian unions …

Blog List additions

From the same author John Ray, 3 sites of interest …

Australian Politics - Events of interest from a libertarian/conservative perspective

Dissecting Leftism - It's the shared hatred of the rest of us that unites Islamists and the Left

Greenie watch - This site is in favour of things that ARE good for the environment. Most Greenie causes are, however, at best red-herrings and are more motivated by a hatred of people than anything else.

Learn more about the author here

Friday, September 05, 2008

Green absurdity

More Leftist Politics than Science

Greenie Watch reports: Up until a couple of years ago, even isolated episodes of hot weather were proclaimed as “proof” of global warming. Now, however, we have endless reports of unusually cold weather from all over the world but they are always attributed to “normal variation”. Could it be clearer that we are dealing with Leftist politics rather than science?Unusually cool weather from North to South in Australia. See three current reports below. And Australia is a big slice of the earth’s landmass. See map at Greenie Watch.

Related story: The planet is cooling, anecdotally speaking

If there is to be an example of just how absurd (and dangerous), the Greens are look no further than this Vote green in Western Australia advertisement:

Are we laughing yet?

(Via: The Australian Conservative and The Daily Telegraph)


Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Conservatism as process, not purely ideology

In writing for the Sunday Times, Andrew Sullivan recently reminded us of the limitations of Government in shaping society and culture. “How do you fix a broken society” … Conservative Party leader David Cameron asked a short time ago.

The continued decline of the traditional family, the rise in anti-social behaviour, the emergence of a settled underclass, the growth of social and economic inequality: worrying about these is, or should be, a Tory concern. From Edmund Burke in the 18th century onwards, conservatives have argued that culture is the central political fact, that the small ways in which humans understand, help and relate to one another - far too complex for a government to adequately manage or control - are what make a country successful, stable and democratic. The British way of life is seen as being as crucial to British success as any economic or government program. The paradox is that conservatives realise that for these very reasons, a government's ability to change the social culture is extremely limited. The forces that shape culture and give it direction are almost always too diffuse and complex to be tackled directly. And if government plays its hand too heavily, it can make matters worse.
However if the balance can be found and Government policy is designed subtly, with the purpose of effecting change of a conservative order, the long term benefits are worthwhile.

Here he is - Cameron - in classic Tory mode: "Changing our culture is not easy or quick. You cannot pull a lever. You cannot do it top-down. But you can give a lead. You can give a nudge. You can make a difference if you are clear where you stand." Here he is adding some pragmatic ideas to help: "Saying to parents: your responsibility and your commitment matter, so we will give a tax break for marriage and end the couple penalty. Saying to head teachers: you are responsible and if you want enforceable home-school contracts and the freedom to exclude, you can have it and we will judge you on your results. Saying to police officers: you are responsible and the targets and bureaucracy are going, but you must account to an elected individual who will want answers if you fail. Saying to business: if you take responsibility, you can help change the culture and we will help you with deregulation and tax cuts. >> more
Perhaps the goal of Australian Liberals should be to create policy that, God forbid, smacks of a little social engineering, if only to spoil some of the undesirable elements of progressiveness within our culture and and society. Perhaps too, conservatism is not merely about small government, tax cuts, de-regulation and the like but vis-à-vis acknowledging that divorce, pre-marital sex and single parenthood is part of today’s order; an order crying out for government intervention of the ‘subtle’ kind. For bona fide conservatives, this could mean two things, a departure from some established notions and letting go of the ‘guardrails’ of the professional think tank class.

Over to you …