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18 December 2017


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Back to the topic: Who speaks coz another 'who' tweaks.
That Mate minding mining seems himself "out of photosynthesis."
There he voiced the proposition "...there is no life beyond that point."
Thank Moni Pes for bringing light to Tuke a phoney synthesis.
That Tuke of 'misleadershift', can it be twatted, or is it Owed-Real?

There are three types of economists, those that can count and those that can't

Turnbull has been quite clever with the appointment of many of his cabinet ministers.
If we take Scomo, Mutton Dutton, Julie Bishop and Michaelia Cash as examples, they couldn't run a hot dog stand, which renders any challenge unlikely.
Scomo, Dutton and Cash are so formulaic with the delivery of their portfolio it sounds like they have been up all night rehearsing their lines. As soon as they are taken off track they are all at sea.
Julie Bishop is merely a flowerpot and sits there just to look pretty for the cameras.
There is not one cabinet minister of any stature and the opposition is equally as bad.

I just hope that Doug Cameron keeps turning the screw on the WA besom. She would spend more in a week on hairspray and make up than many of the 7-11 employees earn in a month

Trump is reaping the benefits of the Obama administration and, heaven forbid, the Bush administration before that. Now he is selectively wrecking those benefits that don't effect his rich mates.

Same with Turnbull. He's reaping the benefits of Chinese economic expansion. The apparent turnaround in Australia's economic situation has got nothing to do with Turnbull's policies.

Like Trump, he is now beginning to selectively wreck elements of those benefits that don't effect his rich mates. Bash the unions and squash the dole bludgers, immigrants and single mothers. Why else would he promote someone like Michaelia Cash?

I do not agree with Ross when he points the finger at some sort of conspiracy between the Democrats and the FBI. Frankly, I think that this is fanciful nonsense.

Similarly, I think that it is improbable that Trump or people close to him actively conspired with actual or de facto Russian state operatives to defeat Hillary Clinton.

It is much more likely that, being utterly naïve when it comes to international politics, they were unwittingly and rather stupidly brought into contact with people representing Russian interests in some form or another who offered "dirt" on Clinton.

I subscribe to the old adage that you never suspect a conspiracy when a stuff up is a perfectly adequate explanation.

I hold no brief at all for Clinton or the Democrats. I think that it is not beyond the realms of possibility that Special Investigator Robert Mueller will uncover compromising or embarrassing evidence relating to both the Democrats and Republicans in relation to contacts with Russia.

As to who can claim success for the apparent strength of the US economy, I merely quote the old adage that while success has many fathers, failure is an orphan.

The termagant harridan has just got a promotion, Bernard. Must be a reward for her setting up the union office raid.

If you take your accounts of predatory corporations and compliant governments into the PNG context it's necessary to multiply the adverse effects at least ten fold.

Companies that pride themselves on their social record in Australia invariably play up in PNG.

Their social record in Australia is not of their own doing of course, it's because of the regulatory frameworks here. While bragging about their record they are busily trying to water down the regulatory frameworks in the background.

In PNG the regulatory frameworks hardly exist and where they do they are blatantly ignored and unenforced by government.

This leads to what otherwise appear to be 'good' companies treating their PNG employees appallingly.

They also run roughshod over other regulatory measures, especially environmental ones. Witness BHP buying its way out of screwing up most of the Fly River and its tributaries.

On another note I agree with Chris that Marx provides a great theoretical framework for interpreting history but falls short when it comes to solutions. Then again, a lot attributed to Marx, like Leninism, had nothing to do with him.

Marx predicted that capitalism would eventually destroy itself.

Still anxiously waiting ...

Phil may be correct that there could be a connection between the welfare state and the power of corporations.

One of the things the inquiry into trade unions threw up was the collusion between the big construction unions and the big construction corporations.

Outlandish demands by the unions would be agreed to by the corporations because they could simply shaft the sub-contractors and smaller players and pass the costs on. In government contracts the taxpayer payed the excessive bill.

Chris is certainly correct that unfettered capitalism can be a great evil, but I doubt many people support laissez-faire economics. The problem I see is the mess of the current crony-capitalist/socialist financial/monetary system.

Let’s remember:

1. It was the Hayekians and devotees of other Austrian economics who predicted the GFC and published models predicting it;

2. Stalwarts of the status-quo like Britain’s Treasury, promoted the disastrous European Monetary System; failed to predict the GFC; and wrongly predicted economic disaster with Brexit;

3. Multinationals, banks, media, the bureaucracy and the political class all opposed Brexit and Trump;

4. Big money today is not conservative. Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, George Soros, Michael Bloomberg, Jeff Bezos and Larry Ellison all support liberal causes and the Democratic Party; and foundations such as Mellon, Bloomberg and Macarthur outspend conservative foundations “by a factor of at least thirty to one each year.” [they all benefit from crony capitalism]

But I agree with Chris about a potential for a future economic calamity. Trump must not get carried away with economic success and let go of the reins on big business.

Where I disagree with Chris is his assertion that Trump is a person who will “subvert the public interest in the pursuit of power and profit.” The billionaire spent his own money on his campaign and was opposed by all the wealthy and powerful.

The facts show that Obama administration subverted the public interest in pursuit of power. Like some Third World dictator, Obama weaponized the Taxation Office to target and harass conservative opponents. A recently concluded court case saw the government pay compensation for such perfidy. They should have been jailed.

Now we are finding out about treachery in the FBI and the phoney Russian dossier, paid for by the Democrats, which seems to have been used to obtain warrants to spy on the Trump campaign.

And FBI emails worrying about a Trump victory saying “we can’t take that risk” and about having “an insurance policy” against that eventuality.

So we get Russiagate and attempts to bring down Trump and his government! The FBI involved in a coup? J. Edgar Hoover is starting to look like a choir boy.

And all the current economic success is due to Obama? Wishful thinking Chris!

Since 1975 federal and state governments in the US have paid out over $US 45 billion in compensation claims relating to coal workers' pneumoconiosis, which amounts to an awful lot of hospitals and public health infrastructure.

In 1993, the cost of workplace injury and disease in Australia was almost $20 billion and it was uniformly distributed. Employers carried 40%, employees 30% and the community 30%

In 2013 the cost was $62 billion but its distribution changed quite dramatically.

Employers 5%
Employees 77%
Community 18%

That is a staggering 157% decrease for employers and an 88% increase for employees.

The gig economy is often promoted as a fashionable, flexible and amenable accord. The reality is somewhat different and the entire concept is underpinned by exploitation and insecurity with vague terms and conditions of employment. It portends a dystopian future of a disenfranchised ragged trousered philanthropists hunting for their next gig, to make a minimum payment on maxed out Visa or Master cards and buy takeaway pizzas on credit, which are prepared and delivered by subjugated associates.

Temporary migrants under the working holiday visa scheme contribute almost $3.5 billion to the Australian economy each year and its agricultural and horticultural industrial sectors are especially dependent on seasonal workers.

However, the exploitation of itinerant workers in Queensland’s Wide Bay region using contingent labour hire is well documented. In December 2009, a young German backpacker died whilst working for Barbera Farms on a tomato plantation near Childers.

The cause of death was not released but following an investigation and regulatory authority prosecution, the company pleaded guilty to breaching work health and safety legislation. It operated a labour intensive and contingent workforce but failed to supply drinking water for its employees and control the risk of dehydration and heat stress.

More recently in November 2017, a Belgian tourist collapsed on a farm near Ayr in North Queensland whilst picking watermelons. The victim was transported to hospital and died the following morning from suspected heat stroke.

In March 2015 the Australian government voted against a broad ranging senate inquiry into exploitation of migrant workers. It was dismissed by our termagant employment minister as being politically motivated.

However, the Forsyth report into contingent labour hire in Victoria details extensive misdemeanours involving itinerant fruit pickers across the Murray basin.

This was substantiated by a covert media investigation, which disclosed embezzlement, racism, intimidation, extortion, precarious safety practices, sexual assault and many other anomalies. It revealed widespread systemic abuse of temporary working visa arrangements with the circumvention of legislative requirements and labour standards by many rogue recruitment organisations.

Most itinerants are engaged for seasonal harvesting and are occasionally required to work up to eighteen hours a day. Reports confirm one female employee received just $3.95 an hour, whilst contingent labour hire organisations manipulate the scheme to reap substantial profits and much of the produce ends up at major food retail outlets.

The suppliers are subject to rigorous food safety and quality audits and must meet defined specification criteria or the contract is cancelled.

However, the Dickensian conditions endured by itinerant labourers are conveniently disregarded by supermarket chains and state governments and the response from regulatory authorities is invariably reactive.

Covino Farms is a principal supplier to many leading supermarkets. Over recent years the organisation received numerous provisional improvement notices relating to work health and safety misdemeanours and a significant fine following breaches of environmental legislation.

In 2013 despite its mediocre performance, the company secured a $1.5 million grant from the State Government of Victoria, which was sanctioned by Denis Napthine, another neoliberal premier and acolyte of trickle-down economics.

The entire saga is reminiscent of John Steinbeck’s, The Grapes of Wrath with its descriptive exploitation of migrant sharecroppers fleeing the dustbowl conditions of Oklahoma during the great depression in the 1930s.

The novel excoriates the financial services sector and depicts the appalling conditions, callous treatment and the frugal existence endured by itinerant Okies during their search for employment in the Kern County fruit orchards of California.

The novel was banned in many countries and received harsh criticism from the Association of Farmers in California because of its socialist nuances. Australian folklore claims the book was restricted by its Queensland government because of an evocative and pornographic paragraph on the last page.

However, in 1962 the Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to John Steinbeck for his realistic and imaginative writings, which displayed a sympathetic humour with a keen sense of social perception.

The spectre of Tom Joad must be haunting the boardrooms of many companies across the agricultural and horticultural sectors, especially throughout Queensland, Victoria and South Australia.

Most of the vulnerable itinerant labourers in these industries often experience rule by fear and are victims of harassment, intimidation and blatant racism, which is no better than the oldest profession.

This supresses the reporting of safety concerns with an increasing risk of workplace injuries, illness, disease and psychosocial disorders. Moreover, state and federal government departments have failed to resolve this exploitation and hold the unethical and unconscionable contingent labour hire organisations accountable.

The problem persists and it demands a coordinated effort from the Fair Work Ombudsman, Department of Immigration and state work health and safety regulatory authorities.

It also requires legitimate assistance from the major supermarket chains. Meanwhile, the distortion gap widens as an affluent syndicate of colourful racing identities reap the profits and the indentured servants, governments and the broader community carry the risk.

Aerocare, which is owned by the private equity firm Archer Capital, provides ground handling services and safety checks for many major airlines across Australia. It proclaims to be the most trusted outsourced flight support organisation in Australia and New Zealand.

However, this declaration is rather inconsistent with a recent Fair Work Commission ruling, which rejected its latest enterprise bargaining agreement. It failed the better off overall test which evaluates penalty rates, working conditions and shift rosters.

The agreement predictably and somewhat conveniently excluded Aerocare’s extensive contingent labour workforce and the decision was corroborated by a recent ABC television undercover investigation.

It disclosed primitive conditions of underpaid casual labourers, catnapping between split shifts on makeshift beds adjacent to baggage carousels underneath airport terminals.

In November 2014 a cargo handling supervisor was inadvertently locked inside the hold of a Boeing 737 shortly before its departure from Brisbane international airport. The incident was handled internally and not reported to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.

In the same month, the cargo door on a Tiger Air A320 aircraft was left wide open as it prepared for departure from Brisbane domestic airport. It was detected by the flight crew and air traffic control, who aborted the take-off. Aerocare proudly claims its safety record is impeccable and the incidents did not endanger the public.

Meanwhile, in an industry with a business model that leases its aircraft from Boeing or Airbus and buys fuel on credit, Aerocare recorded a profit of $13.5 million, which was a 20% increase on the previous year.

The four key airports across Australia posted profits of $1.8 billion. Qantas a major client of Aerocare produced an outstanding performance during the 2016 financial year. It recorded an extraordinary profit of $1.53 billion, a 57% increase on the previous year, which was unmatched in its extensive corporate history.

The epicene chief executive officer, who frequently uses artificial corporate social responsibility to promote equality, received a staggering $25 million salary and donated $1 million to the same sex marriage campaign.

Aerocare’s indentured servants may not share his enigmatic, sybaritic and egalitarian beliefs as they struggle to eke out a livelihood on subsistence wages in a Dickensian working environment at airport terminals across Australia.

During the 1950s bread, cream and milk deliveries were categorised as an essential community service and enacted legislation to secure supply has since ossified and effectively deregulated the supply chain. A recent report prepared by Pricewaterhouse Coopers identified a causal nexus between road safety and driver remuneration.

However, the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, which established minimum pay rates for drivers, was abolished by the federal government. Meanwhile media investigations have revealed widespread and systemic exploitation of many owner drivers.

Tip Top is a subsidiary of Associated British Foods group. It operates the Aldi supermarket supply chain in Australia and the challenging market conditions required a reconfiguration of its operations. Its owner drivers are now categorised as independent contractors and the introduction of low cost contracts with escalating overheads have significantly increased work health and safety risks.

Following the dissolution of the road safety tribunal contract rates and payments have been ruthlessly slashed. The low cost contracts have an incalculable impact on fatigue management and vehicle roadworthiness, which generates penury and escalating psychosocial risks. In abolishing the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal the neoliberal government is merely protecting the interests of major corporations at the expense of beleaguered owner drivers and their impoverished families.

A recent survey from Macquarie University into the logistics and supply chain sector indicates 80% of truck drivers work more than 50 hours per week and 10% work over 80 hours. The pressure on owner drivers to falsify vehicle log books is well established but rarely disclosed because of fear and intimidation.

SafeWork Australia confirms many employers acknowledge that unsafe acts and risk taking results in high levels of injuries and fatalities throughout the supply chain sector. It also suggests the design of work requires extensive analysis to understand why such practices persist and establish how they can be eliminated or reduced.

Escalating overheads will inevitably slash the essential maintenance of delivery vehicles and compromise their roadworthiness. This was corroborated following a recent raid at a Tip Top logistics depot in western Sydney during early December 2017. Regulatory authority inspectors from the Roads and Maritime Services examined 46 trucks and issued 25 defect notices.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission, indicates supply chain operators have an inordinate insolvency rate and the smaller businesses with five full time employees or less are most likely to go bankrupt. The psychosocial impact is rather predictable and is substantiated in a recent Deakin University study, which revealed 323 truck drivers committed suicide between 2001 and 2010.

The Tip Top delivery drivers are working extreme hours with insufficient rest and their rates have been slashed by up to $1000 per week. Meanwhile the parent company, Associated British Foods, is expected to announce a profit of over $2 billion, which is an increase of 25% from the previous year. Even our harridan employment minister could do the math and establish who the real breadwinners are in this casino capitalism arrangement.

Then there is the subjugation of 7-11 and Domino Pizza employees.

Enough is enough.

An economy is not a society - sous les paves la plage.

"Under the paving stones, the beach" - KJ

As a point of clarification, I agree with much that Ross Howard has said.

Like Ross and Phil, I believe that the modern concept of the "welfare state" has been deeply corrosive towards the idea that people are, mostly at least, the architects of the things that happens to them.

The common fallacy perpetuated by far too many people that there are literally always social causes to explain away grave personal failings is not simply wrong but offers an apparently plausible "scientific" excuse for a great deal of both folly and evil.

So, I am certainly not an advocate for an all care and no responsibility form of socialism, let alone communism.

That said, unfettered capitalism is, of itself, a great evil. Greed is not good: on the contrary, it is the driving force behind a great deal that is badly wrong with the world.

Capitalism has to be constrained and regulated to prevent it from producing the gross social and economic inequalities, financial instability, environmental vandalism and entrenchment of privilege that are clearly evident in the world today.

Karl Marx was not wrong in his diagnosis of the flaws and contradictions inherent within capitalism even though he drew clearly wrong conclusions and proposed utopian but hopelessly impractical solutions.

As previously stated, PNG is in many ways an exemplar of how badly things can go wrong when state institutions, whether through corruption or incompetence or ignorance or all of these factors, become unduly vulnerable to powerful corporate interests and individuals who are all too willing to ignore, distort or subvert the public interest in the pursuit of power and profit.

Donald Trump is one such person and he has encouraged like minded people in the USA.

Ross, if the USA's economy is booming it is not because of Trump. Rather, it is due to the hard yards put in by Barack Obama and many others in previous years which are now finally bearing some fruit.

For what it is worth I predict that Trump, like O'Neill, will ultimately be understood to have materially helped trigger an economic calamity that dwarfs even the Global Financial Crisis of 2008.

Ttrickle down economics, which embraced the ideologies of the profits of cents from the Chicago School of Economics intensified from the mid 1970s under Reagan and was unashamedly promoted by Clinton and Bliar
It was marketed by Tina Thatcher as freedom and choice using the paradoxical slogan There Is No Alternative.
Somehow the wealth unlike the bureaucracy has failed to trickle down.
The Chicago School of Economics was a most appropriate location for Friedman et l to advocate neoliberal philosophies of laissez faire economics.
Another notorious gangster plied his trade throughout the city during the Great Depression and was eventually jailed for tax evasion.
A rising tide lifts all boats is fine, provided you own a boat.

Mr President has just been offering his condolences to the bereaved following the Amtrak derailment in Washington state despite slashing its budget.

"Always be sincere even if you don't mean it" - Harry S Truman

Massey Energy Upper Big Branch 2010
Deepwater Horizon 2010
Imperial Sugar 2008
Sago 2006
Texas City Refinery 2005

All examples of multiple fatalities resulting from rampant unfettered neoliberalism underpinned by a laissez faire doctrine, regulatory capture with a malevolent freedom to harm.

The book by McGarity provides many more examples and we can now add the DuPont derailment in Washington state to the list.

I wonder whether there is a connection between the Welfare State and the power of the corporations Ross.

Maybe a corporation can get away with paying the lowest wages possible and extracting the most labour possible for those wages because it knows the Welfare State will pick up the slack.

I also agree that the Welfare State has been particularly destructive, not just in black communities but everywhere. Noel Pearson has repeatedly made this point with regard to Aboriginal communities.

I disagree with you about environmental issues however. Climate change is real and we are a major cause. Coal and petroleum are big contributors, as is excessive land clearing like that in Queensland. A recent report has said that energy prices are set to come down because of the increased use of renewables. Many companies realise this and are abandoning coal and gas.

A $20 trillion debt resulting from Hayek, Von Mises and Friedman trickle down economics and calling it success is rather analogous to Orwellian Doublespeak.

There is a problem with large corporations. The fact that American worker’s wages have virtually stagnated since 1973—productivity grew 72.2 percent while wages rose only 8.7 percent—demonstrates that something has gone wrong in recent decades.

In 1890, when American corporations like J.P. Morgan and Rockefeller became monopolies which restricted competition, the government introduced anti-trust laws to break them up.

Today, corporations like Google and Facebook are the largest and most powerful in history, and are a potential threat to freedom of speech and information.

But corporations are only part of the problem, and the people who have allowed corporations to become a problem are the same people who have let these other problems also fester—my generation.

There is a funny thing about the human mind: if we don’t see something coming and our predictions are all wrong, it indicates that our worldview is askew. We can then either adjust our worldview, or pretend we are correct anyway. In fact most people choose the latter, because to adjust our worldview is to risk our own wisdom and virtue. Pride and moral cowardice prevail. Many people remain lifetime Liberals, Labor, Country Party or whatever irrespective of their party’s policies.

In “Hubert Murray: The Australian Pro-Consul”, Francis West shows that Sir Hubert Murray had an inquiring mind, not a closed one, and could change his worldview. West noted Murray’s, “capacity, at a comparatively advanced age, to respond to new things. And this is not a common human characteristic in old or even middle age.”

So in addition to corporations what are some other problems?

Take government welfare! The 1960s and 1970’s saw an explosion in social welfare programs which greatly increased the size of government and government spending.

Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society was a noble endeavor to eliminate poverty and racial injustice. But it had the perverse result of creating a permanent underclass totally dependent on government welfare.

Walter E. Williams is a distinguished black economist who wrote the book “Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?” He wrote:

“The welfare state has done to black Americans what slavery could not have done, the harshest Jim Crow laws and racism could not have done, namely break up the black family.”

Williams noted that historically up to 90% of black kids lived in two parent families. That is now down to around 30%. The illegitimacy rate of 70 percent among blacks is unprecedented in American history. The poverty rate among black families where parents worked is under 5%. But poverty in black families headed by single women is 37%.

American writer Kay Hymowitz has written on the growth of single-mother families and how the Democratic Party has targeted this group with benefits so they are unlikely to bite the hand that feeds them—the government has become the father of their kids.

This is also the reason those on the Left hate black neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson, who is a self-made man from an “oppressed group” who rose to prominence advocating self-reliance, limited government and his Christian faith. After all, a successful black man who dares to leave the Welfare Plantation threatens the voting bloc of the Left, and hence its political power.

Then there is no-fault divorce. This was first tried in Russia in 1917. It proved so disastrous for women and families that it was reversed in 1926.

The Whitlam government introduced no-fault divorce to Australia in 1975.

A 2008 Australian report noted how youth homelessness had gotten dramatically worse since an earlier report in 1989. The report largely blamed no-fault divorce and single parent parenting. However it noted “few would seriously want to reverse these social changes.” There is no political party, church or charity prepared to advocate change.

Then there is the education system. Higher education throughout the Western world has become dominated by cultural Marxists, especially in the social sciences where in the US, Democrats outnumber Republicans 8:1 and in sociology its 44:1. Free speech and free inquiry are being shut down and corrosive identity politics prevails. Research showed that 80 per cent of Australian universities had acted censoriously or had policies limiting free speech.

The skills of the average Australian student barely match those of Singapore’s most disadvantaged students, even though Singapore spends less per student, has larger classes, and pays its teachers less. And the only solution Australian politicians can recommend is spend more money, where bureaucrats and unions are the only winners.

And corporate America is following the universities and is wallowing in political correctness. Sam Altman, chairman of one of Silicon Valley’s most successful innovators, wrote recently: “I felt more comfortable discussing controversial ideas in Beijing than in San Francisco…Restricting speech leads to restricting ideas and therefore restricted innovation."

Another way our society is destroying itself is by embracing “environmental” policies that destroy its economic base. Just convince yourself you’re “saving the planet” and you’ll happily watch your society disappear up its own fundamental while proclaiming your own virtue.

The EU’s method of suicide is childlessness. The leaders of Europe’s biggest economies, and all the European members of the G7, are childless. Europe’s post-Christian secularists’ have 1.3 children per couple compared to 3.5 for the Muslim immigrants they have welcomed in. Demography is destiny.

How is it that the West has implemented so many destructive policies since the 1960s? Perhaps St Paul got it right: “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.”

So what then happens if someone comes along and starts to reverse these destructive policies? Those who didn’t see it coming will continue not to see, lest it reflect negatively on their own wisdom and virtue.

In the US, the economy is in top gear; business confidence is high; stocks are at record highs; unemployment is down; energy production is up; stifling regulatory burdens are being rolled back; foreign policy has been revitalized and ISIS is being defeated; the biggest taxation reforms in 30 years are about to happen; etc. etc. etc.

Lamenting on “the mental affliction known as ‘political correctness’”, British historian Paul Johnson wrote of Donald Trump: “He is vulgar, abusive, nasty, rude, boorish and outrageous. He is also saying what he thinks and, more important, teaching Americans how to think for themselves again.”

Aristotle knew that a thing, like government, could only be good if it fulfilled its purpose. Trump’s government is fulfilling its purpose. It’s a pity that Trump’s bombastic personality has blinded opponents to this reality.

Emma was copying Mark Twain. Or was she?

Emma was involved in the Spanish Civil War on the side of the anarchists, alongside people like Hemingway and Orwell.

She defined anarchism thus:

"Anarchism ... really stands for the liberation of the human mind from the dominion of religion; the liberation of the human body from the dominion of property; liberation from the shackles and restraint of government.

Anarchism stands for a social order based on the free grouping of individuals for the purpose of producing real social wealth; an order that will guarantee to every human being free access to the earth and full enjoyment of the necessities of life, according to individual desires, tastes, and inclinations."

Bit different to the idea of anarchism promulgated by the establishment.

Dear Peter,

The Hillsong church is pretty well connected with the incumbent government in Australia and any television interview with our treasurer reveals many of its fundamentalist traits.

Dear Paul,

Emma was a devout anarchist and implicated in the assassination of President McKinley.

We need many more like her.

The following link provides access to an interesting article from Ralph Nader:

Ha! Bernard, that's a great quote.

Who was Emma?

If voting changed anything they would make it illegal -Emma Goldman

The best ever response came from the late Tony Benn when asked why he was retiring from Westminster he devote more time to politics

Wasn't it Lenin that called religion 'The opiate of the masses?'

I wonder whether he was making a pun about masses? Probably not. He seemed to be a rather humourless figure.

The issue I suspect is really about human nature. We can debate the good and bad aspects of any form of human society and PNG is not alone.

While traditional PNG societies were able to function without police forces and Lord Mayors, they still had the various beliefs that constrained most members from stepping out the clans rules and council of elders collective determinations.

There is a clear mathematical formulae that like proposed by Malthus about populations increase till they run out of resources.

One only has to look at the obscene salaries being paid to many CEO’s whose sole aim is to make as much profit for their corporation and so justify their salary.

No one in power seems to find anything wrong with that until there’s a break down in the system, read the recent GFC, and then those responsible for the financial mess call upon the public purse to prevent a continuing catastrophe.

No one seems to be able to collectively extract the good points of all human societies and dismiss the bad points.

That’s because the so called ‘masses’ are too content to be distracted by the classic ‘Bread and Circus’s’ and don’t have the ability to either detect how everything is being controlled (connecting the dots) or just don’t care.

The ultimate end of where we and most of the world are going is a potential collapse followed by a war over resources.

Those who can’t foresee this are either intentionally blind because like Louis the XV of France (‘After me the flood’) or they give up because they believe they can’t do enough to stop the rot.

I sincerely believed that capitalism was reaching a point where it would implode and disappear up its own fundamental orifice until I began re-reading George Orwell.

What I found there were the same predictions I was making. Except Orwell was writing in the mid-1930s.

I now suspect that vile creatures like Donald Trump will likely prevail for a long time to come.

I agree with Chris's voting strategy however. I toyed with the Greens for a while but discovered that they are just like the bigger parties. They have a similar begging machinery constantly exhorting donations from their members. I wonder how much of their parliamentary salaries go towards helping their own party.

Independents can be a viable alternative.

In Keith's Queensland state electorate of Noosa he helped an independent topple a next to useless LNP incumbent. It will be interesting to see how she (Sandy Bolton) goes in a new state parliament dominated by women.

I strongly agree with the sentiments expressed by Phil in this article.

It is astounding to me that the so called progressive forces in politics are so obsessed with identity politics, asylum seekers, special interest groups and what I regard as the ephemera of politics, that they seem unable or unwilling to tackle the huge problems to which Phil refers.

Where is the left's alternative economic vision, whereby the huge corporates and the mega-rich financial manipulators who control them are actually brought to heel?

The neo-liberal consensus, despite the growing evidence of its many flaws and failings, seem impervious to any coherent leftist critique.

PNG is special only in the sense that the self serving behaviour of foreign powers, large corporations and the political elite is clearly visible.

It does not have to be covert or subtle because PNG politicians are easy to control and manipulate. Their collective love of money makes them an easy target.

Meanwhile, in the USA, the most egomaniacal, morally bankrupt, dishonest and manifestly unfit person to ever hold the office of President continues to govern by tweet, all the time striving to remake America in the image preferred by the rich and powerful.

Democracy is truly in crisis yet few seem to understand this, much less have any capacity to do anything about it.

Even in Australia, the reach and power of foreign powers and corporations wielding money as a weapon, has been unexpectedly revealed through the egregious behaviour of Senator Sam Dastyari.

While he has been forced to resign, there is no reason to believe that this is more than a mere hiccup for the corporate power players who increasingly dominate our political as well as economic systems.

One player leaves the field in disgrace but the game goes on.

Meanwhile, the current Liberal government, like the O'Neill government, endlessly reassures us that either a Federal Independent Commission against Corruption is unnecessary or that it will establish one in due course. In short, they resist a necessary change that might reveal the full extent of how corporate power and money have corrupted our democracy.

No wonder people are turning away from the major parties in Australia and, in PNG, continue to out their faith in the proverbial "local heroes" rather than support parties that habitually over promise and under deliver.

I have resolved that, as a mostly powerless single voter, my best strategy is to refuse to vote for any established political party again. Instead, I prefer to put my faith in a PNG style "local hero" whose integrity seems sound and who has a commitment to assessing issues based upon facts and merit, not ideology.

Happily, many other Australians have apparently reached the same conclusion, hence the relentless growth in the number of minor party and independent members being elected to Parliament.

To me, this phenomenon is clear evidence that the proverbial canary is shrieking in the coal mine, yet our tone deaf politicians fail to hear it.

As Vladimir Ilyich Lenin famously said, 'What is to be done?".

Did you realise that the Hillsong church alone makes over $100 million a year? I wonder how much of that is returned to developing countries in education and welfare?

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