Saturday salon 7/2 (on Sunday)


An open thread where, at your leisure, you can discuss anything you like, well, within reason and the Comments Policy. Include here news and views, plus any notable personal experiences from the week and the weekend.

For climate topics please use the most recent Climate clippings.

The gentleman in the image is Voltaire, who for a time graced the court of Frederick II of Prussia, known as Frederick the Great. King Fred loved to talk about the universe and everything at the end of a day’s work. He also used the salons of Berlin to get feedback in the development of public policy.

Fred would only talk in French; he regarded German as barbaric. Here we’ll use English.

The thread will be a stoush-free zone. The Comments Policy says:

The aim [of this site] is to provide a venue for people to contribute and to engage in a civil and respectful manner.

Here are a few bits and pieces that came to my attention last week.

SS delayed

It looks as though I didn’t hit the ‘publish’ button last night, although I’ll swear I did! Here goes!

1. Dead malls

By some estimates, half the shopping malls in the USA will close by 2030, suitable only for horror movie sets.

The big problem is oversupply. America has more retail space per capita than any other country.

The question is whether the same will happen in Australia. I tend to think not, at least I can’t detect any sign of it in Brisbane’s northern suburbs.

Thanks to John D for the link.

2. Rightwing rules rather than governs

Or you might say it’s government of the people rather than for. Jason Wilson peers into the rightwing mind and is horrified by what he sees. The article is a tour de force. Very impressive!

From Tony Abbott all the way down to pundits in the conservative press, the verdict is clear: elections are illegitimate when it returns a result they don’t like.

This extraordinary outpouring of contempt for the voting public is not simply a fit of rightwing pique. Rather, we can see that conservatives and a broader swathe of the political elite revealing some of their basic assumptions when put under pressure. To argue that democracy fails when it resists the imposition of fiscal austerity is simply to argue for our permanent subjection to the rule of property.

Apparently we are not competent to determine our own interests, or the kind of community we want to live in. Democracy becomes equated with disorder.

3. Growing brain drain as one young scientist chooses not to work here

Award-winning Dr Danielle Edwards applied for four years for work in Australia, but could only find it in the US. Eventually she was invited to apply for a position at the CSIRO, but the Abbott government was elected, a freeze was put on hiring and the job disappeared.

Then she was offered a Discovery Early Career Researcher Award, or DECRA, by the Australian Research Council.

Hugely competitive, her grant is worth $385,000, but Dr Edwards has chosen to turn it down.

She says the most recent round of funding cuts to science, and the prospect of university fee deregulation, means she sees no future in Australia.

The award-winning Dr Danielle Edwards has conducted research from the Greek Aegean to the Galapagos. She’s an evolutionary biologist specialising in reptiles, researching how genetic diversity is affected by factors like the environment.

Dr Edwards says her work feeds into important questions around what species can survive extinction, and why.

She’ll be doing her research, and raising her child, somewhere else.

4. No institution has the right to kill, whether it’s a nation state or Isis

That’s the view put by Gay Alcorn at The Guardian.

She points out Indonesia’s inconsistency in objecting to Saudi Arabia executing Indonesian nationals working there, and paying “blood money” to save them.

She points out our inconsistency in objecting to ISIS beheading sundry people, but ignoring Saudi Arabia where people can be put to death for such things as apostasy and witchcraft.

The death penalty is always brutal and violent and is never acceptable, no matter what the crime.

Elsewhere Greg Craven, Vice-chancellor of the Australian Catholic University and a campaigner against the death penalty warned staff at the ABC’s triple-j radio station that they’ll bear some responsibility if the Indonesian government executes the two Australians on death row in Bali.

The station conducted a survey showing a slim majority of those Australians who were polled support the death penalty for drug offences in other countries. The survey is being quoted in Indonesia to support its actions.

5. Mark is here

My son Mark is here, staying with us for a few days, which for me makes blogging difficult.

Catch his latest at The Monthly, telling us why Malcolm Turnbull gives him the irrits. People of the left who favour Malcolm should remember a few things!

14 thoughts on “Saturday salon 7/2 (on Sunday)”

  1. Indeed I expect a good deal of disillusionment by many people within about three months if Malcolm becomes Prime Minister. The only way he can stay in the job is if he takes no action on a range of issues that seem to make him attractive to people on the centre left.Put not your trust in Liberals from the Eastern Suburbs

  2. Brian, Jason Wilson said;

    To argue that democracy fails when it resists the imposition of fiscal austerity is simply to argue for our permanent subjection to the rule of property.

    After reading this a heap of times I can’t tell what he means, could you translate please ?

  3. KN @3: Read the link. The reality is that people from all sides of politics carry on in a similar manner when the democratic process doesn’t deliver what they think is important.
    The lesson to all sides of politics is that they need to explain to people in an adult way what problem they are trying to solve and they are proposing. The other lesson is that the political wisdom is often wrong. At the moment, governments at all levels are failing to do what they should be doing because they think tax increases are politically toxic and tax cuts in the middle of an alleged budget crisis somehow make sense.
    Ditto asset sales in Qld. The LNP may have been able to sell a particular sale linked to a particular piece of new infrastructure. However, what it all sounded like was a massive fire sale that, more and more appeared to be providing a pork barrel that was allowing the government to promise anything they thought would get them re-elected. (Think selling assets to give a temporary saving in power costs.) The problem now is that asset sales that do make sense will be put in the too hard basket for a long long time.

  4. John, I did read the linked article more than once.
    I may be having a blond day ( it’s a figure of speech blondes, deal with it ) but what does he mean with ,”permanent subjection to the rule of property

  5. what does he mean with ,”permanent subjection to the rule of property”

    Googling “rule of property” gives lots of possibly enlightening links.
    Just sayin’.

  6. KN, zoot has provided an excellent link.

    I wasn’t aware that the phrase linked to a sociological concept. I did know, however, that property equates with power and that property rights are a cultural artefact rather than a basic human right. They provide the scaffolding for how our capitalist society is structured.

    I took it as meaning ‘persons of substance’ or ‘the ruling elite’.

    Of interest, when the United States was constituted only male property owners could vote.

  7. Thanks Zoot @ 7: I have gone hoarse trying to tell people to look at what happened in the Enclosures and in the Clearances before they get too enthusiastic about any STRONG(tm) asset “leases”.
    The usual responses have been either “That happened long ago and far away; it can’t happen to us in this century ” or “We are too nice for anything like that to happen to us”.

  8. Yes soot, thanks.
    This is a concept that is quite alien to everything iv’e experienced and I’ll be following it up out of interest.
    Things like what is permissible to own, what the ideals on money and trade are, examples of this system in the world now ( and how they are ) examples in the past and what caused the conversion to capitalism.

    Present examples of states that have no property rights don’t seem to democratic, and some are not very nice places to live.

    Thank again zoot, I thought you may have started with ” What is Right Wing ?” like a few weeks ago.
    Glad I was wrong.

  9. KN, just remember that there is nothing set in stone about the current arrangements for capitalism.

    Another world is possible.

  10. Hear ye! Hear ye!

    Just came back on the internet to be greeted by a facefull of Gina Reinhardt, the world’s richest woman. Apparently, she feels the second episode of whatever show is about her on DC TV might be going to say something naughty – so her lawyers have rushed off, to whatever astronomical court it is that hears such lofty mattersto make an order so that she can get a sneak preview, I think it is.

    One would think that a polite request to the producers for a peek would have been sufficient – but, well, I suppose an eminent Senior Counsel has gotta do what an eminent Senior Counsel’s gotta do.

    So that’s why we have to give our marvellous entrepreneurs as many tax breaks as we possibly can, is it?

  11. Just on empty Malls.

    We live in a parliamentary democracy governed by the rule of law, do we?

    So is the Royal Commission into the operation of shopping malls and the their effects on individual business operators in them starting next Monday or next Tuesday?

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