‘DEBT’ IS NOT A 4 LETTER WORD

I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard an interview between Joe Hockey and Marius Benson on News Radio.

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It was informative, but not in the way you would normally expect a political interview to be. It did, however, follow what has become the standard operating procedure when it comes to Opposition interviews. That is, journalist asks a question, and, in some instances we even have journalists asking perfectly reasonable questions hoping to elicit a rational answer to their sensible question, such as Marius Benson attempted to do in this interview with Joe Hockey, but the Coalition interviewee simply ignores the question and spews forth the DTPs (Daily Talking Points).

Joe Hockey, as a Senior Coalition Shadow Front Bench MP, is especially well-schooled in this technique. Which is what I expected to hear, a Coalition MP dancing around the answer that you want to hear, but remaining essentially relevant to the question. Tangentially relevant, but giving an answer broadly pertaining to the question.

Well, it seems as though, in ‘Election Mode’, the Coalition have decided to abandon that practice entirely, such that what I heard today was a complete redefinition of economic reality in order to suit the Coalition’s negative narrative which they intend to push in a big barrow from now until election day.

It appears that they have been working hard, not on economic policy to put to the voters, but have been burning the midnight oil to come up with new ways to negatively characterise the best economy in the world at the moment. Which just happens to be being run by their political opponents, the Australian Labor Party.

Which is why the interview went off into ‘Bizarro World’ territory.

I could not believe my ears. However, I will attempt to outline the arguments Joe Hockey made, for you, as I’m sure you will be hearing them a lot more this year.

Now, we all now the incontrovertible truth that the Federal Labor Government has had a lower Tax/GDP Ratio over it’s term of government than that which the Howard Government had over it’s lifespan.

Well, apparently not, according to Joe Hockey. I mean, I really must bow to the creative genius that came up with this, but apparently the Gillard/Rudd governments are bigger ‘Tax Takers’ than the Howard Government. How can this be? I hear you asking yourself, surely the figures don’t lie? Well, maybe, maybe not. It seems it’s all in the definition of the word ‘Tax’. As Joe ‘Eleventy’ Hockey has redefined what it means! As he explained it to Marius Benson, ‘This Labor Government’ is a ‘High Taxing’ government because they have borrowed too much money that future generations will have to repay in taxes, and you have to add this to the amount of tax they are taking from you now to get the real picture of just how bad they are.

Now I am sure that a sensible economist could do the sums on this contention and it would still probably show that the federal Labor government are a Low Taxing Government, but that’s not the point. Or, that’s not the Talking Point, I should say. The point is that the Coalition have found a way to tarnish the economic reputation of the Gillard Labor Government, which has rested until now on an indisputable economic fact. By redefining it. It is devious, and it is wrong, but just watch them repeat this new mantra over and over this year, as if it were the truth.

This ‘Post Truth Truth’, or ‘Truthiness’, if you wish to use a Republican Playbook term from the George Bush era, has become the best tool the Conservatives have come up with to advance their political arguments. That is, if you can’t avoid the truth in the real world, redefine it in a ‘Bizarro World’ context, then speak it as if it is the truth as you spin the line to journalists with a straight face and an assertive tone. If journalists seek to question you about your new ‘Post truth Truth’, as Marius Benson attempted to do with Joe Hockey, just ignore the question, again, and use it as an opportunity to repeat the new mantra.

Of course, if you wish to be a leader in ‘Post Truth Politics’, and win elections based upon the fungible nature of facts, then you have to weave whole cloth from the threads you have spun.

In this interview we had between Hockey and Benson, Joe was ‘Going for Gold’.

Thus we heard Joe sending off another ‘SS Truthiness’ vessel on to the pea-green sea, shrouded in the fog of murky assertions, baldly stated as fact to be decried. Therefore, apparently, you are the worst government in the world if you are a ‘Tax and Spend’ government. Which Joe duly accused the Gillard Government of being. However, correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought that WAS the working model of government? They taxed the citizens so they can spend it on Public Infrastructure, Defence, and Public Services, all administered by an objective, impartial Public Service?

Apparently not, according to ‘Smokin’ Joe’, who had got up a real head of steam by this point in the interview and you could fair imagine it coming out of his ears as he decried “This Tax and Spend Labor Government!”.

Then, because all European Governments are bad, M’ok? Joe Hockey sought to tarnish the economic credentials of the Gillard Labor Government even more by linking them to those European ‘Tax and Spend’ governments, to prove just how bad a government they are. Which can be seen by even Blind Freddy, and the path of utter economic chaos it leads to.

Just don’t mention to Joe two important facts(it might put a hole in the web of deceit he is attempting to weave):
1. A lot of those ‘European Governments’ are being run by Conservative Parties of the Right. Such as Spain, Greece, Germany and Italy.
2. It is actually Austerity economic policy prescriptions, of the sort that Joe Hockey himself has intimated that he would bring in here to get the Budget back into Surplus, in order to satisfy the Conservative Surplus fetish, that have caused the European economies to flatline and falter.

Anyway, who cares about the truth? It’s all about how well you spin a yarn to the electorate in the Post Truth Political Bizarro World.

However, Joe was not going to stop there. he was on a roll. Marius Benson asked him the perfectly obvious question linking Joe Hockey’s ‘End to Entitlements’ speech which he gave in London last year to the now publicised fact that the Prime Minister will be taking him up on that call, in her speech to the National Press Club, where she will be proposing a curb to the Budget bloat that is ‘Middle Class Welfare’. Surely Joe would at least approve of that?

Well, no, actually. There is only one type of Entitlements that the Coalition are concerned about. The sort which increase ‘Government Debt’. Like the Gillard Government proposed, ‘National Disability Insurance Scheme’. Apparently, a government ‘living beyond it’s means’ shouldn’t propose these new spending initiatives. They can’t afford them while the government is in debt and should only be funded by a government in Surplus. This neat two-step which the Coalition have devised seems to me to be their way out of the need to say whether they support the NDIS in a concrete fashion involving hard currency from the Treasury. As we have heard Tony Abbott say, and which equates to, “Well, sort of”. That way lies, according to Coalition thinking, all the positives from an appearance of support of the concept, while at the same time not really supporting it with any future Abbott Government cash, by putting it off into the Never Never to when they might deem it can be afforded.

However, as they also want to be the ‘Party of Lower Taxes’, who knows when that will be if they continue to support Howard-era Middle Class Welfare, as Joe Hockey studiously avoided saying he was not in favour of cutting back on?

Thus would it continue to eat into a Coalition Government’s Surpluses, therefore making an NDIS unlikely, especially if they gave away more government income as Corporate and other Tax Cuts.

And might I finally just address the Neo Liberal ‘Government Debt Is Bad, M’ok?’ argument, because it appears, according to the Coalition economic mouthpieces that we will be hearing from ad nauseum this year they will be spewing forth that line from their gormless gobs.

In an amazingly perspicacious and perceptive piece, Economist John K.Galbraith, son of the esteemed 20th century economist, Kenneth Galbraith, puts the sword to the lie that the Neo Liberals peddle furiously, that all government debt and deficit is bad.

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Essentially he sees the arguments that the Deficit Drones constantly try to make, as one that is just another attempt by them to bring in a rending of the Social Safety Net by stealth.

Read the article and you’ll be amazed at the parallels with so much of the Coalition’s economic argument and their call for an end to the ‘Entitlement Mentality’

Just remember though, whenever you hear them bleat, that when put on the spot today by Marius Benson, Joe Hockey would not go near committing to ending the real Entitlement spending on Middle Class Welfare, which had been built into the Budget by the Howard/ Costello Government, only those Social Safety Net payments such as Pensions, Unemployment Benefits and the NDIS to which they are ideologically opposed. Also, never forget that the Coalition’s ‘Small Government’ mantra is just more code for the ‘Slash and Burn’ Economics they have in common with other Conservative Parties around the world, such as Cameron’s Tories and the Republican Party.

Don’t get sucked into ‘Bizarro World’. ‘Debt’ is not a 4 Letter Word.

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The Commodification of Sport (Or, How to Lose Your Integrity: Part 1)

The Commodification of Sport (How to Lose Your Integrity: Part 1)
cricket ball

Once upon a time, I was a cricket fan. My introduction to the sport, as for so many people born in the 1950s, was through the suave tones on the radio of such commentators as Alan McGilvray, Lindsay Hassett, John Arlott, Tony Cozier … This early interest impressed my parents so much that I was taken – at the age of five – to watch the one-day match between the Southern Highlands and the inimitable West Indies in the summer of 1960-1961 at Manuka Oval. (I lasted until the luncheon break. Then my mother took me home, leaving my father to watch the rest of the match in peace.)

Cricket continued as a background to my life during the 1960s and 1970s – an exciting yet reassuringly predictable part of summer. Then came Packer’s Circus, and the move from cricket’s status as an essentially amateur but – where professional – lowly-paid sport to one where the top players suddenly received substantial rewards. With that change came, to my eyes at any rate, a change as well to the nature of the game: the gradual disappearance of “sporting” behaviour, the longevity of the top players (because of the money – after all, what other career options do most of them have after 15 plus years in the game?) to the detriment of youngsters wanting to have a go at representing their countries at the highest level – in short, the commodification of the game for the benefit of promoters and media proprietors. During the 1980s and 1990s I rapidly lost interest, and though I could generally tell you the results of a series, I rarely listened or watched any more.

Then, in the late 1990s, Adam Gilchrist erupted onto the scene. My interest in cricket was revived – not merely because he was a very good keeper (not the greatest, but still pretty damn’ fine) and an enchanting batsman, but because of the spirit in which he played the game. He walked – even when the umpire had given him not out – if he believed that he was truly out.

After delivering the 2009 Cowdery Lecture– which even cricket traditionalists may find interesting – Gilchrist, in conversation with Mark Nicholas, was asked about the time when he “walked” in the 2003 World Cup semi-final against Sri Lanka, even though the umpire had ruled in his favour. This is my transcript of Gilchrist’s explanation, which I first heard on 28 June 2009. To me this illustrates his personal integrity, which why I admire him as a cricketer, and more importantly, as a person (any errors in the transcript are my responsibility):

It’s something that I guess was ingrained early in my life. I spoke right at the start about my parents and the values and qualities that they instil in you as a person. I guess that’s what defines you and carries you through your journey of life, and for me it’s been a cricketing journey. Probably two significant moments in my career that I hadn’t really thought about until around, funnily enough, the semi-final in the World Cup in 2003 after the well-documented walking incident in that match. That was the catalyst for me to start thinking and thinking why have I got this approach.

When I was 17 I came over – had the great fortune of coming over here and playing for the Richmond Cricket Club on a scholarship. And in a match during that year when I was playing here I got a nick on one and just walked and got into the rooms and everyone said “Oh, the umpire wasn’t going to give you out. What did you come off for?” I wrote a letter to Mum and Dad and I said I was really disappointed, I shouldn’t have walked, I might have got to the 100 and so on. But my last line was, “Oh well, but at least I did the right thing.”

A couple of years later I was playing for the New South Wales 2nd Eleven in a trial match against the ACT. Got a big nick on one, got given not out and I didn’t walk, and I went on to get 100. But I tell you I felt lousy for the rest of the innings. And I went to the bowler, who was an ageing bowler about to retire from the game and I went to him and I said, “Mate, I’m so sorry about that, and I feel terrible.” And he said, “Oh, don’t worry about that. Look, I’m nearly finished, you’re on the rise, this game means much more to you than what it does to me.” And that line just sort of struck a nerve in me, sort of “At what cost does it mean that?”

And I think they are probably the defining moments that led me to play that way. But it’s never been a crusade. The greatest thing that I’ve found awkward about this whole discussion is that I feel that some people look upon people that don’t walk as being dishonest or unsporting. I very much don’t feel that way – I can accept that it’s part of the game. It’s here to stay, this issue, and do you or don’t you – it’s an individual choice.”

(my emphasis)

Gilchrist retired in 2008, and Ricky Ponting’s tenure as captain went on and on and on and on … For the last couple of years, I’ve mostly neither known nor cared when, where, or whom Australia is playing.

My lack of interest has been compounded by the promotion of betting on every possible aspect of the game. Obviously this is most observable on the commercial channels, but despite protests from many listeners even the ABC’s radio coverage has been contaminated.

Of course, cricket is not the only sport where betting has now been normalised: it occurs in all the football codes and – guess what? – one of the consequences is that match-fixing is now rife and has been described as a “disease that could kill football”.

Is it any wonder that the get-rich-quick-at-any-cost attitude that seems to be so pervasive nowadays spawns greedy fools like Lance Armstrong, who not only take risks with their long-term physiological and psychological health but also compromise their own moral compass, perhaps permanently? Not to mention corrupting their chosen sport …

Sport has become yet another victim of late-stage (terminal?) capitalism: commodify it, add a healthy lashing of “wagering”, let the white-collar and underbelly criminals rip, and as for the competitors and their adoring publics – well, they know what they can do with themselves.

Meanwhile, as crime writer John D. MacDonald wrote:

Integrity is not a conditional word. It doesn’t blow in the wind or change with the weather. It is your inner image of yourself, and if you look in there and see a man who won’t cheat, then you know he never will.

Integrity? The commodifiers of all things wouldn’t recognise integrity if it bit them on the bum.

Friday Frivolity at the PUB


The Pub

In our esteemed Publican’s absence on his mission of mercy – braving the wild weather and the rotten roads – I declare Friday Night Frivolities open.

Enjoy yourselves in the PUB’s unequalled ambience, remember that our bar and cellar have never yet been found wanting, exchange badinage with the saucy staff, and lap up the music, the stories, the videos …

The traditional FRIDAY NIGHT RAFFLE will begin around 7.00pm AEDT (goodness how this will work in Joe6Pack’s absence – but we will do our best), and will be drawn approx 8.00pm AEDT.

As always, name your three favourite numbers (1 – 100 both inclusive) and remember, first in best dressed.

And oh, beHAVE …

 

________________________________________________________________________________________________________I may just add

 

Good evening loyal patrons and magnificent co-workers.

What a week!

PMJG blindsided everybody again by announcing Nova Peris will enter parliament as Australia’s First elected Indigenous senator, to much cries of derision by sooks,losers,whinges,wankers,wankettes  and other assorted members of what passes for our elite Msm journalists.

Mad man the lying truckstunter Tony Abbott has announced he will go on a mini election campaign next week  to howls of approval by many psychopaths,idiots suckers,suckeruppers ,fawning brain-dead  janissaries and other assorted members of what passes for our elite msm journalists.

Rain is pouring down in QLD. while other parts of our great land are burning.

Tommorow is Australia day where Proud Aussies will fly their Chinese made flags on their Korean built cars and then get drunk and abuse Chinese and Koreans.

To all of this is I say a great big PPFFFFTTTT  because its ‘RAFFLE NIGHT’.

Now for the benefit of  new patrons and for other people who for the life I me I cannot understand what is so hard about the rules .

At 6.00pm QLD TIME  The raffle will open (I will announce when it is 6.00pm in Qld to help some of you who have started early on the friday night drinks,lucky buggers)

Request your 3 numbers between 1 and 100. First in first served . If your number is taken you can request another but a maximum of 3 numbers per person.

The draw will be held at 7.00pm again Qld time (in case some of you thought you only has 1 second to ask for your numbers)

Again I will determine when it is 7.00pm in QLd. I hopefully would have had a few drinks by then.

The Prize will be announced at the time of the draw or soon after.

Enjoy yourself, welcome to new patrons, join in the fun let drinks be had,stories told,music discussed and lets hope everyone who is stuck in the floods gets home safe shortly.

Happy Australia Day Tommorow.