Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Constitution, it is not that good a place to reconise the First People.

I am the first to admit that Australian treatment of indigeonous people has been abhorent and disgraceful. However, unlike Peter Lewis, I do not believe that the Constitution is a good place to address recognition of the Aboriginal people.

First of all, the Constitution is not an Australian document. The Constitution of Australia Act 1900 is actually legislation fully debated, passed and given royal accent by the Parliament of the United Kingdom of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. That icon of Australiana, Queen Victoria of the House of Saxe-Coburg-Saafeld consented for the union of English colonies in Australia and New Zealand to form into a new nation of the Commonwealth Of Australia as a dominion of the British Empire.

Secondly, if you read the Constitution, you will find such gems such as
  • it is optional that the colonies of New Zealand and West Australia to join the Commonwealth, while no authority for the Northern Territory to join.
  • The Governor General is the most politically powerful role in the government of Australia, while there is no mention of the Prime Minister nor of the Ministry.
  • Many of the functions of Federal Government we take for granted are in fact specificly barred by the Constitution, the Commonwealth is restricted to only the powers given to it by s51 of constitution.

I am the first to aurgue as Constitutions go, The Commonwealth of Australia Act 1900 is one of the better documents that has survived 111 years of challenges. As a vessel of reconciliation? Not so much. Since we recognise that Aboriginals are citizens of Australia (well technically the Crown) in the 1967 referendum, we have done what we need to do to fix racial problems of the act.

And while I think a Treaty between Aboriginals and the Crown would be great symbolism, any treaty would be dubious at best and illegal under international law at worst.

Take the Treaty of Waitangi. Under strict international law, the treaty is illegal. Because the treaty is only binding on the Maori tribes who signed the actual document. There was no Maori representative for the whole of the Maori Nations, and the Treaty was not included into Statute Law of either New Zealand or the United Kingdom. This does not weaken the document as the basis of New Zealand today, but recognition on the power and validity of the treaty only became de juer in the 1970's, and was generally ignored or nullified by the courts prior to that.

If there was a universally recognised representative of the First People, authorised to negotiate and sign on behalf of all the Australian Aboriginal tribes (and Torres Strait Islanders), and the resulting treaty is passed by both house of the Australian Parliament, we have a binding treaty. Anything else is not worth the paper it is written on.

Mabo did more to fix the right the wrongs of the past. By recognising traditional land use, it removes the Terra Nullis label which allowed colonial Australia to seize land. I would like to see somehow using Mabo v Queensland become the basis of a reconciliation document. Orations like the my Redfern Speech and Kevin Rudd's parliamentary Apology do more to highlight the issue, especially since a constitution change will no doubt devolve into a polarised farce given the political makeup of all major parties.

We have mishandled our fellow citizens for over two hundred years, lets not exasperate it with a half arsed symbol.   

Monday, January 2, 2012

Libertarianism, a good idea that fails the reality check

Libertarianism, a nice idea, doomed.

There is a lot of discussion regarding libertarianism, but it is being confused by Ron Paul saying stuff. So your old pal, Uncle Paul Keating is here to set things straight.

Libertarianism is like Pure Communism and Pure Capitalism. A nice thought experiment for ivory tower types. It is based on the assumption that every person is sane and sensible.

A libertarian is someone who knows that his or her decisions are the best, and any regulation is a personal affront to their liberty.

So, using a scenario, lets explore one aspect of Liberty. The right to use fireworks.

In a libertarian world, every person has the right to own and use fireworks in any way they see is appropriate. If anyone gets injured using fireworks will be able to fund their own recovery because they have saved money or have personal healthcare.

In the real world, this has some major issues. Firstly, people find new and novel ways, generally with the assistance of alcohol or drugs, to injure themselves or others with fireworks, which are in reality controlled explosives. Secondly, people are often unable to fund their recovery due to the fact they chose not (or are unable) to pay for health insurance.

And more importantly, many of the injuries are on children. Children are more susceptible to make stupid decisions like staring into a lit firecracker (or to use them as projectile weapons and so on) because even libertarians will have to agree that children are unable to make sensible or sane decisions like not staring down a lit firework.

So fault one with Liberty, is people make stupid decisions.

To continue, we now have a small group of people who find the number of people injuring themselves and/or others distressful. They do not have to be a majority. They do not even have to make sensible suggestions. They just have to be able to communicate effectively. So these people now say “we must do something about fireworks”. The situation become more charged politically if children are affected. After all, how many of our liberties are sacrificed to “protect the kiddies?”

Hence there is a demand to regulate. A libertarian will argue that the people who injure themselves or others only have themselves to blame. However people do get injured when watching fireworks conducted by professionals using best of breed safety procedures (admittedly rare, but an fatality in Parramatta during a NYE firework display springs to mind).

Even if there was no vocal group demanding to stop fireworks, a sane and sensible government will need to weigh up the risk of people having access to fireworks versus the cost in injury and death they cause, as well as property damage.

And here is a second issue regarding libertarianism. Many regulations are created because people can not make sane or sensible decisions.

While people may decry the “nanny state” mentality or the cost and hindrance regulations cause, generally regulations are a response to a problem, real or imaginary.

Now lets expand our thought experiment to markets, something libertarians hold dear the market. Economists believe that a market is the best mechanism to regulate price. In a perfect market, a supplier will supply a product dependant on cost plus reward (called profit) and a buyer will either chose to buy or not to buy at the set price. The lower the price offered by the supplier, the higher chance a buyer will elect to purchase a good.

This is all well and good. However again this is again working off the assumption that every person in the marketplace is making sane and sensible decisions that do not impact negatively upon others.

And history has shown that this rarely, if ever, happens. Given the market model, suppliers are encouraged to reduce cost while avoid risk to profit. So while there is some economic gains like economies of scale, reducing cost can have some intended or unintended consequences.

Like people dying. Industrial accidents, using unsafe materials, using violence and intimidation to reduce labour costs, destroying the environment to extract materials cheaply, dumping waste in dangerous or harmful ways. Cheating customers and other companies. Or even manipulating the market in dangerous ways (and yes I am looking at the current Global Financial Crisis). The list is endless.

Economists have a term for this. Market Failure. Governments are often forced to regulate market s to protect people and companies and sometimes this regulation is to protect said people and companies from themselves. Sometimes regulations are over the top or even inappropriate (the loud effective communicators problem), but generally they are implemented to protect people or companies from unsafe or unfair practices.

People may feel that regulations are not appropriate. But there are many mechanisms available to affect change. The easiest way is electoral, that is, remove a government who inappropriately regulates. However, the cost of elections (and in the USA, the strange decisions to allow unfetted donations and allowing companies to have the same standing in the political system as individuals) are moving the power from the voter to the companies with money. Libertarians like these decisions for the general principle of regulations are bad, however we are seeing an already money fueled electoral system being hijacked by SuperPACS and big money.

The irony, I believe, that in a push to remove regulations, Libertarians risk having their liberty stolen by people and companies with money, as election spending not electoral votes, becomes the currency of politics.

So to summarise, Libertarianism only works when everyone can stick their eye over a lit firework, but chose not to.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The US credit downgrade

Seeing the bleetings on all the drones on Twitter shit me. Well, they do on normal days, but today even more so.

Standards and Poor have reduced their outlook on US Bonds from AAA to AA+

Yes, I have heard you fuckwits yabbering on how S&P (as one of the 3 credit reporting companies) caused the 2008 meltdown by overvaluing derivatives. However, I do argue (fucking awesomely as always) that deriviatives where so complex that sophisticated computer modelling was required to explain this, so S&P could have been sucked in like most of the other US financial clowns who did not handle 5 dimensional mathematics.

Even if they had their dicks in the financial pie of suck, what is happening here is partly the 2008 debarcle, part long term issues, and partly complete ineptude of the cock sucking Republican Party.

Firstly, long term. That debt ceiling? It was implemented in 1917 as a way to conning the sceptical US public that the US would not bankrupt itself fighting an unpopular European war. There is no need to it, provision of debt should be part of the budget process. However, even then, the US is covered in shit, as they have been unable to pass a budget for 2 years now. They cant even fund the fucking FAA! I lost my first fucking ministary because Gough could not guarantee supply (that is, pass a fucking budget). You can not sack the congress, because of fixed terms and the inability for the president (or anyone else for that matter) to sack the legislative body if they can not function!

And the debt? Sure some of it is from Obama, but the majority comes from Bush's unfunded tax cuts and funding 2 wars on a credit card. During other wars, the US raised taxes to fund wars, but apparently the thinking up to Obama's election was "Deficits do not matter". Well, small deficits are good things, as they can be used to influence interest rates, but large debts have a life of their own.

And look at the nature of the 2008 and 2011 debarcles. Lightly or unregulated industries start shuffling electrical bits around so rapidly that people do not know (and in many cases do not care) where the paperwork is. In Australia, our regulated banks did not partake in the shenanigans, and they are still the four pillars I set up years ago (admittedly I would like to have more than 4 pillars, but I blame the crisis for fucking THAT one up). And governments in the US has not even begun to work out who is the blame, but instead poured money down their throats to keep them from drowning in shit.

And the Grand Old Party? For Fuck Sake, some taxation is needed. The US tax base is so riddled with loopholes, rebates and perks that you might as well not bother. Yet a lot of the blame for the debt is that REPUBLICANS introduce new projects (tax cuts, Homeland Security) without even bothering to even fund them. And don't forget those wars, where where not even budgeted and was only visible when Obama unhid them.

With all these issues, the US is not a stable and safe place to invest in. Revenue is less than expenditure, no budget to map how and why to spend the money, the inability to raise taxes to any sane level needed during wartime, need I go on.

So S&P over rated derivatives. Even if they where clean as snow, any idiot can see that there is a risk to the trillions of bonds currently flooding the world. I would have downgraded the rating of the US years ago. I would not want to have my money tied up in a government that can not get its shit together, and who's finical system has not been held to account for fucking the world over.

And the scary thing, you and I have some of our money in US Bonds. Because they where the panic room of the world economy. The place to go (along with gold, which makes our economy look good) when the shit hits the fan. Your super probably is partially in bonds. So it affects you. And they will not listen to you to fix their problems.

Because the people in power are not listening to the grown-ups saying to them to harden the fuck up.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

US elections. The Go Fuck Yourself Movement Continues

The winner of the US midterm elections is the Westminster System. Because unlike the US system, the Westminster system, especially those in Commonwealth nations like Australia and Canada, is fully capable of running without a clear majority.

Thats because we ignore our constitutions.

I am no Bob Carr or Kim Bomber Beasley, but blind Freddy can see how fucked the US system is.

1. There is no central election body like the Australian Electoral Commission. Each county (Aussie equivalent is Municipal Councils) run the booths, with state and federal inntervention on such matters as electoral rolls and electoral boundaries. As a result, most US congressional districts are so fucking gerrymandered that Joh Bjelke Petersen would blush in its blatant electoral rorting.

2. The political parties leaders look at the Westminster Systems parties and sigh in envy. Getting party members to vote the same way is like herding cats, a fucking fools errand.

3. The division between executive and legislative is very pronounced in the US, compared to Australia. When our founding fathers looked at the President and Congressional roles, as a man said "These people are fucking insane!". This is why the Prime Minister is a member of the lower house, to submit legislation and prove to the monarch (or Governor General), that s/he

  1. Enjoys the support of the house
  2. actually introduce legislation that is not hijacked by every single member who wants some pork barrelling
  3. Allow check and balances on the powers of the executive. The only check and balance the US president has in the USA is a Impeachment. 
This topic is boring me. However, the USA has dammed itself for 2 years of flipper baby ineptness and gridlock. We can work a similar situation in Australia, because our founding fathers had a clue. I doubt the US founding fathers can say the same thing. But I can guarantee that Bob Carr will rip a new arsehole on me on this topic.

Two words Bob. Fucking Bring IT!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The people have spoken, and they say in one voice "GO FUCK YOURSELVES!"

This has been the perfect result to a fucked up election. We got the parliament we, and the major parties, deserved.

I barely watched the election. The ABC did a good job, with Kerry, Leigh Sales and Antony Green, with support from Puny Human #1 and Puny Human #2. When I went out to my local bottlo for a nice red, the poor fucking shopkeeper had Channel Nine on. I wanted to kill the portable TV and then the store clerk to end his suffering. It was so fucking bad I was lucky not to vomit on the carpet!

On the result, you are going to hear a lot of fucking bullshit. I would gladly feed all those offering advice to Walshie, but I fear he may die from over feeding.

Here is how it is:

The 1940-1943 is not a good example of a hung parliament. Firstly we where at war and this was the darkest days of the war. Secondly, the UAP (United Australia Party) was a strange part time organisation on its last legs. The fact it was blighted by Billy Hughes (who had the anti midas touch of turning political parties to shit) did not help. Secondly, the ALP was in one of its split periods. Not by Saint Bob Santamaria, but by loyalist to Jack Lang. Even the fucking backstabbing was better then, the fucks at Sussex St had nothing on these boys.

The UAP - Country party coalition was not helped by Menzies going to England and sucking Imperial cock to try and become the English Prime Minister.

Menzies government fell and Curtain formed government when 2 independents swapped sides. And lets be truthful here, John Curtin is our greatest Prime Minister (with Gough a close second).

Do we have a leader on either side of the house even close to the calibre of Curtin? No we do not. Both leaders we have now can not even stair down their back room bosses, let alone a Winston Churchill with a bug up his arse.

So what now?

The Governor General asks the ALP if it can form government. Public votes mean crap here, so cock punch anyone who says the person who has the highest votes should form government. The ALP needs to prove to the GG if they have the confidence of the lower house. So it is up to the independents and green members to determine if they are willing to support the ALP. If not, the GG then askes the Liberals if they can gain the confidence of the house.

Remember, from the excellent site regarding the Commonwealth Government

The Constitution is silent on the role of political parties in parliament. It does not make any reference to a government party, an opposition party or minor parties, or to roles like Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition. These are conventions that have been adopted to assist the smooth operation of the legislature

So the government can take any shape, as long as the Parliament (which is sovereign) approves. 

Quoting from the Australian Politics website, these conventions are

Executive Government Conventions

Chapter 2 of the Constitution (Sections 61-70) sets out how the Government of Australia shall operate. It makes no mention of the Cabinet, political parties or the Prime Minister:

  • Section 61 states: "The executive power of the Commonwealth is vested in the Queen and is exercisable by the Governor-General as the Queen's representative, and extends to the execution and maintenance of this Constitution, and of the laws of the Commonwealth."
    In practice, it is the Cabinet, led by the Prime Minister, which performs this task.

  • Section 62 states: "There shall be a Federal Executive Council to advise the Governor-General in the government of the Commonwealth, and the members of the Council shall be chosen and summoned by the Governor-General and sworn as Executive Councillors, and shall hold office during his pleasure."
    In practice, the Governor-General, acting on the advice of the leader of the majority party in the House of Representatives, summons members of the majority party and swears them in as ministers. The Executive Council operates in accordance with the Constitution, but the Governor-General always acts on the advice of his ministers.

  • Section 64 states: "The Governor-General may appoint officers to administer such departments of State of the Commonwealth as the Governor-General in Council may establish. Such officers shall hold office during the pleasure of the Governor-General. They shall be members of the Federal Executive Council, and shall be the Queen's Ministers of State for the Commonwealth."
    In practice, the Prime Minister is the person who leads the party with a majority in the House of Representatives. The ministers are chosen by the Prime Minister who advises the Governor-General of the names and portfolios to be allocated to them.
    It was this section of the Constitution that the Governor-General used to dismiss the Whitlam Government in 1975. This is the only instance in Federal political history of the Governor-General exercising the so-called Reserve Powers in this way.

 So, it would be legal for the GG to say, fuck off, I am doing it my way. And she may do a better job than the fucks that stood in the last election. She could not do worse.

    Friday, August 20, 2010

    Debt is not bad, only bad debtors.

    The one thing that has shitted me (well apart from the leaders, the debates, the inept management from both party's machines, the lack of vision, the inability to do anything without having it focused grouped or polled, of fuck it, everything....) has been the debate on debt.

    Ok kids. The truth. NOT ALL GOVERNMENT DEBT IS BAD!

    Basic economics. Supply and demand.

    If there is too much money in the economy, the value of it goes down. We call this inflation. That is fucking bad, but only if it running high. Low inflation means the economy is growing. Which is why the RBA has a target figure of 2-4% inflation.

    There is to ways to manipulate inflation. One is to increase interest rates. The other is to reduce the amount of money in the economy.

    Which is why the RBA has been willing to press the button on interest rates, even during election campaigns. Why?


    The Liberal fuck heads took fiscal policy (the government budget process) out of the interest game. Because the government can also reduce the supply of money by BORROWING?

    Governments borrow by issuing bonds. This is a good thing, as they are a very secure investment. The bonds are backed by the government, and the last time a Government fucked around with bond repayments (Jack Lang's NSW Govt), the Governor fired his comm's arse!

    By selling federal bonds locally, a government can reduce the money flowing in the economy. It can also use the bond money to fund long term infrastructure which is to risky for private enterprise to do. AND THIS IS WHY FEDERAL INFRASTRUCTURE IS SO FUCKED! By not raising debt, Costello was not willing to fund the big ticket items the nation needs.

    Now, note, that big government debt is really bad. Hyperinflation, risk of defaulting loans and other such things  does not make a nation stable. I point to the USA on how unstable hyper debt can be.

    We don't have this problem. If anything, we have too much cash sitting around doing nothing. I personally like the idea of the future fund, but I would like governments and private enterprise to tap into it to fund projects. And I expect them to pay back the money in interest. Thats how banks make their money.

    So, as I tweeted, if anyone tells you that Government debt is bad, castrate them. They should never be allowed to breed, or at least screw around on a parliamentary salary. Because they are fucking stupid.

    Saturday, August 14, 2010

    Where is the vision thing?

    The current election is missing its heart and soul.

    No one is willing to tell us how they see Australia beyond the next fucking election cycle.

    So where do you see yourself in 5, 10 or 20 years?

    Labor and Liberals seem to be deathly afraid to tell us where they see Australia in the future, as if they may alienate some voters. Sorry people, as a politician, you do need to alienate people, you can not be all things to everyone. If you are all things to everyone, we also call it the lowest common denominator.

    Julia and Tony, tell us what you fucking think. Do not hide behind opinion polls and focus groups. Take a stand and fucking say "This is where I see Australia going!".

    Otherwise we are going nowhere fast.