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Name: Antony Loewenstein
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Sunday, January 22, 2006

A first-rate country run by second-rate people

John Pilger, New Statesman, January 21:

"The fear and sycophancy that Howard and his Antipodean neoconservatives have promoted since coming to power almost a decade ago have put paid to Australia’s tenuous self-regard as 'the land of fair go'. (The much-abused term 'lucky country' was ironic, coined by the author, the late Donald Horne, to denote a first-rate country run by second-rate people.) Like Bush’s America, Howard’s Australia is not so much a democracy as a plutocracy, governed for and by the 'big end of town', even though, as Mark Twain pointed out, this is 'an entire continent peopled by the lower orders'."

14 Comments:

Blogger David Tan said...

Is Pilger the dumbest man alive?

Sunday, January 22, 2006 11:01:00 pm  
Blogger violet said...

Pilger is a perverted and demented man. And he quotes Mark Twain? ... doesn't he know he was an imperialist, dreadful American?

Typical idiot double-talk dribbling anarchobabbling

Sunday, January 22, 2006 11:06:00 pm  
Blogger Edward Mariyani-Squire said...

let’s see what the people who pay for the Liberal Party’s election campaign were saying in October 2005:

‘It is imperative that proceeds raised from any further privatisation of Telstra should be used to fund long-term initiatives, such as comprehensive tax reform.’
- Hugh Morgan, President, Business Council of Australia

‘With the genuine possibility of a working majority in the Senate, we will be looking forward to the government implementing its industrial relations policy.’
- Peter Hendy, CEO, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry

‘The competitive pressures on the Australian economy are intensifying … we need very flexible labour markets if we are to sustain employment growth.’
- Heather Ridout, CEO, Australian Industry Group

‘There are a lot of industrial relations measures that could be passed … that would help small business employers.’
- Tim Steven, CEO, Council of Small Business Organisations


And lo! He (or she) who pays the piper calls the tune. And what a deliciously plutocratic tune it is too!

Monday, January 23, 2006 12:02:00 am  
Blogger James Waterton said...

Loewenstein has time and time again proven that his knowledge of this country and its varied people is, at best, limited. Pilger - funnily enough, a Londoner these days - falls into the same category.

All those quotes listed by EMS seem pretty sane and in line with orthodox liberal economic theory. Yes, business groups tend to support such theory, because when said theory is implemented it tends to be good for business. Funnily enough, what's good for business is also good for society, however I understand that a great many here won't accept such a statement.

Also, tax reform is a great idea and eminently achievable considering the current health of federal public finances; it's a pity Costello is being such a wanker about maintaining that top marginal rate of PAYE tax, not to mention the progressive system in general.

Monday, January 23, 2006 2:23:00 am  
Blogger James Waterton said...

When Pilger says lower orders, what on earth does he mean? "Lower"? by which standard? Social? Economic? Is he just being a barefaced snob - the continent is peopled by utter rabble, daahhling - or poor people?

If the former, then I have nothing to say, because the man shows himself up as the elitist twit he is. If the latter (as I suspect), then he should get over his 19th century ideas of what constitutes "the working class" - these days, a bloke in his early thirties and possessing an ordinary trade is more likely than not to be earning over $50 000pa. An enormous number of regular tradespeople are earning six figure salaries. The traditional "lower orders" are actually doing quite nicely for themselves these days - and guess which federal political party most of them gravitate towards? No need to answer, although I'm sure the ALP reckon they're ungrateful swine for refusing to back their purported champions.

Or perhaps Pilger is talking about the Australian underclass - and there is an underclass, largely created by the welfare state, I should add - but to suggest that these people form a majority, or even a large minority, is ridiculous in the extreme. Are these the dispossessed and disenfranchised "lower orders" Pilger is referring to?

Cry your crocodile tears for the poor, Pilger. You never know, you might sell one or two more books to the usual suspects for doing so. No wonder the left is so out of touch these days - their social observations, ideologies and allegiances date back several decades.

Monday, January 23, 2006 2:43:00 am  
Blogger Wombat said...

James,

It seem no one has the ability to inspire a collective dummy spit from the right quite like Pilger.

I think PIlger made some intersting points, but wa largely off the mark with this article. Hi conclusinos abto the race riots seem a tad tin-foil hattish, but then again, Howard has shown to be a master of exploiting racial issues for political gain.

The fact that Pilger is based in London is pretty irrelevant, apart from th fact that is does still have some diversity of independent press.

“Funnily enough, what's good for business is also good for society, however I understand that a great many here won't accept such a statement. “
The trouble with this is that it has yet to be proven. For example, what is good for society (i.e. broad based tax breaks) are good for business for obvious reasons, but what is good for business is not necessarily good for society. Business lay off workers to improve their bottom line (good for business) but obviously this does not benefit society. Giving large tax breaks to business does not mean that this swill provide a positive secondary effect for society.

“When Pilger says lower orders, what on earth does he mean? "Lower"? by which standard? Social? Economic? Is he just being a barefaced snob - the continent is peopled by utter rabble, daahhling - or poor people? “
Come on James, you’re being bit testy aren’t you? Pilger was obviously making satirical comparisons with monarchies, which governments like Bush’s have long been compared to.

“Or perhaps Pilger is talking about the Australian underclass - and there is an underclass, largely created by the welfare state, I should add - but to suggest that these people form a majority, or even a large minority, is ridiculous in the extreme. Are these the dispossessed and disenfranchised "lower orders" Pilger is referring to?”
I agree. The welfare state is a reality, but we are also seeing the emergence of corporate welfare, mimicking what we have seen I the US for decades. This is certainly no less damaging or costly to society.
“Cry your crocodile tears for the poor, Pilger. You never know, you might sell one or two more books to the usual suspects for doing so. No wonder the left is so out of touch these days - their social observations, ideologies and allegiances date back several decades.”
I;m surprised that you are still buying into the left vs right illusiuon James. We al know that if Labour were in government, very little would be different. Harp ad they might about opposing Howard policies, it’s a given that such polices would remain in place if hey were in power.
What is so irritating is that Labor members truly believe themselves to be level-headed, compassionate, "reality based", even after the Hawk and Keating years. At least when right-wingers act like assholes, we expect it. But when lefty’s claim to believe in social progress, then stump for Labor, it truly sets me off. They are no better and in some ways are worse than the Libs, who are consistently horrid and thus true to their creed. Laborites, for the most part, fool themselves and throw a fit when they fail to fool others.
Australian lefties are pretty happy with this corporate-owned system. Their main problem with the Libs is that they doesn’t run the system to their liking, but the system itself is fine. So the rest of us are locked into this fixed arrangement whether we like it or not; and when voting time comes 'round, we are told that we must push the Liberal or Labor button, no matter how awful the candidate, because the alternative would be worse.

Monday, January 23, 2006 4:11:00 am  
Blogger James Waterton said...

Response to follow, Addamo. The one quick observation I will make is that I definitely do not view politics through the traditional left/right paradigm.

However, I do see "The Left" as a monolithic political entity which is redolent of a bygone era. I will frequently refer to "The Left" because I feel the tag is still an apt description of a particular political group, of which Pilger belongs to.

But the fact is "The Left" is no longer a particularly relevant political force. I suppose I fall into the "right" camp of the traditional left/right demarcation, but I don't view "The Left" as anything more than a political joke. My ideological enemies are those that try to impose their will on me. All leftists seek to do this (some are more direct than others, thus the various shades of leftism), however they are all relatively harmless these days - marginalised as they are.

My most intimidating ideological enemies pose the greatest threat to my liberal sensibilities, and they are found on "the right" if we're using the old political compass - those that wish to impose their values on others by removing the rights of others. They are my most dangerous political enemies because they actually hold a considerable amount of power and they are way more capable of moulding society in a way I find offensive. "The Left" is a long-bested non-event compared to these guys. And yes, I'm talking about GWB, Howard and the like.

Monday, January 23, 2006 4:49:00 am  
Blogger James Waterton said...

However, I also have a visceral hatred of misrepresentation and dishonesty, (the stock-in-trade of the modern leftist movement) which is why I will often be found defending such people.

However, if anyone stopped to ask me what I don't like about these characters, I'd have plenty to say.

Monday, January 23, 2006 4:55:00 am  
Blogger Wombat said...

I agree James.

You find yourself playing devil'd advocate becasue you don't necessarilly subscribe to any particular political leaning.

I think it operates both ways, which is why the followers of Howard, Buh et all, have a tendency to equate political or ideological opposition to being appologist for terrorims and Saddam Hussein.

It was premature of me to suggest you are playing into partisanship. Your blog entries that I've read certainly don't provide any evidenc of such.

Monday, January 23, 2006 6:39:00 am  
Blogger Armagnac Esq. said...

Bilger obviously lives in the UK because he believes in retention of proper separation based on "order". Failing socialism, the least he expects is that the big end of town will have been properly born into it.

As usual, the good point he starts with ends up being sent up by his own idiocy.

Monday, January 23, 2006 9:51:00 am  
Blogger Wombat said...

Pilger is usually on the mark with his writings, but without much sunstantive evidence, the leasp he makes my the assertions inthis piece undermine his credibility.

Journalists don't always get it right, but you don't see anywhere near the same level of scruitiny being applied to those who tow the party line. If that were the case, news paper circulations would grind to a halt.

Monday, January 23, 2006 10:28:00 am  
Blogger James Waterton said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Monday, January 23, 2006 10:05:00 pm  
Blogger James Waterton said...

"The fact that Pilger is based in London is pretty irrelevant"

You are joking, right? Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that he doesn't seem to understand Australian society at all, as demonstrated in his article?

"The trouble with this is that it has yet to be proven."

It has been amply proven - the proof is all around you. Businesses only lay off workers if they are running inefficiently - they won't lay off workers that they need. Laying off workers without cause isn't good for the bottom line at all. In a dynamic and deregulated economy, laying off surplus workers is good because there are other parts of the economy that need - and can absorb - them. Misallocation of personnel is a major economic bottleneck to growth.

Reducing tax on business means they can increase their margins or prices will fall. Both are beneficial for the economy - the latter especially, as it increases living standards. The good news is that competition in most markets strips out high margins, so the latter is much more common. High profits are good for society, too, because it's a stimulant of consumption. Naturally, I want taxes to be rolled back across the board. Therein lies the greatest number of benefits.

I'd like to see how Bush's administration is remotely comparable to a monarchy. It's just another fallacious claim that lefties like to delude themselves with. Also, I'd like to know how our system is "corporate owned".

It terrifies me to think what you'd like to replace the current system with, if you think the old protectionist days were preferable to the years that succeeded the Hawke/Keating reforms into the present.

What does your perfect society look like?

Monday, January 23, 2006 10:07:00 pm  
Blogger Wombat said...

James,

Exzcuse my saying so , but sometimes I feel you're playig devil's advocate just for the sake of flexing your intellect. not htat that's a bad thing, but ayway...

“You are joking, right? Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that he doesn't seem to understand Australian society at all, as demonstrated in his article?”

And perhaps it’s because there is more press freedom and better career prospects in London. Also, spidiong time overseas allows you to get a healthy perspective on things back home. at least that's what I find. Come on mate. It’s a bit of a non issue.

”It has been amply proven - the proof is all around you.”

Actually that’s not entirely true is it?

“laying off surplus workers is good because there are other parts of the economy that need - and can absorb - them. Misallocation of personnel is a major economic bottleneck to growth.”

Job losses are inevitable.

Laying off surplus workers while CEO’s continue to collect obscene packages and bonuses is somethig else. Take that arsehole who was running AMP. The company tanks and profits dive-bomb, and he still leaves with tens of millions in his wallet.

How does that benefit enybody?

”Reducing tax on business means they can increase their margins or prices will fall. Both are beneficial for the economy - the latter especially, as it increases living standards.”

And who is left with the tax burden at the ned of the day? If it's true that a healthy economy ghenerates revenue, why are taxes constantly on the increase?

That assumes the money goes back into the economy, rather to some off shore tax haven. In the US, it’s a total disaster. US companies get a tax break to set up shop in one state. They exploit the place for all it’s worth, take advantage of cheap labor and move on to another pad as soon a better deal (bribe) come along.

"High profits are good for society, too, because it's a stimulant of consumption."

But in reality, high profits are usually the result of non competitive practices.

"Naturally, I want taxes to be rolled back across the board. Therein lies the greatest number of benefits."

I agree.

”I'd like to see how Bush's administration is remotely comparable to a monarchy. It's just another fallacious claim that lefties like to delude themselves with. Also, I'd like to know how our system is "corporate owned".”

Oh come on James don’t be coy. The power that Bush is assuming are dictatorial. He is shredding the constitution, ignoring laws and due process left right and centre. That’s not lefty talk my friend, that’s a fact.

The domestic spying scnadal is but a morsel.

And yes, he is entirely corporate owned. How can you possibly deny it? He is deregulating everything. Cronyism is up to third world levels. For example:

The abrahmoff scandal, along with delay;s pay to play K street project is beyond anything we've ever seen before.

Bush appoints advisors to big oil to head up environmental protection, the first thing he does when enter the oval office is talk tax cuts for the right, when the country can least afford them.

I was at a doctor’s office in new York recently and the GP I was talking to was telling me horror stories about how the drug companies have Bush by the balls. There is no way of knowing if drugs are even remotely capable of what they claim becasue the regulatory boards are all stackd with people received "grants" from drug companies.

I listened to an interview the other day with former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, who explained how the cozy relationship between the Us and Uzbekistan (until recently anyway) was almost entirely driven by Enron’s gas interest there.

The no bid contracts in Iraq are obscene, especially when Halliburton/KBR then put out to tender the sib-contracts.

What about the Boeing pork barrel scandal involving the Air Force tankers? A 20 billion contract that was a complete farce.

Cheney’s wife sits on the board of Lockheed Martin and gives the finger to the media when questioned about it.

Rumsfeld is hoping to hit it big with interests Tamiflu.

After a few months of lying low, Wolfowitz is up to his old tricks at the World Bank, getting rid of capable people and replacing them with lackeys from his Washington political days. They say he is not even talking to his staff but only keeps the company of his new “trusted” advisors.

For god’s sake mate, these are just off the top of my head. And you want evidence that Bush is corporate owned?

”It terrifies me to think what you'd like to replace the current system with, if you think the old protectionist days were preferable to the years that succeeded the Hawke/Keating reforms into the present.”
If the system worked as we were led to believe it worked, I’d be fine with it. But the system is so broken it’s a tragedy.

”What does your perfect society look like?”
Like the current one minus the corruption, the cronyism, the criminal elements etc.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006 9:05:00 am  

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