Saturday salon 9/2

1. Deep ‘deep poverty’ in the USA

This week Phillip Adams interviewed H. Luke Shaefer, joint author with Kathryn J. Edin of $2 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America.

This piece by them says that the US official poverty line sees a family of three getting $17 dollars per person per day, that’s $357 per week for the family, or about $18,500 per year. ‘Deep poverty’ according this article, is the term used for the living experience of 22 million Americans, or 6.8% of the population, who have a cash income of half that or less.

However, divide that by four again and the authors say, and you have 1.5 million households with 3 million children with a cash income less than $2 per day.

They say that people at that level routinely sell part of their food stamps, which they also receive, to gain cash. They also typically sell their blood up to twice a week to blood plasma companies which have set up in poor areas to harvest what’s available.

If they have a roof, typically it will be in a shelter, where they have to move every three months to make room for others to have a turn.

Politically they are disengaged, concentrating on survival.

It goes back to social security laws signed by Bill Clinton in 1996, and what the states have done with them, which was not what Bill foresaw or intended. Anyway Newt Gingrich controlled the Congress, so you can also finger him. It was intended to push people into work, and apparently it has, but not necessarily quality work, so we also have the working poor.

Capitalism at work.

2. The scourge of British boarding schools

Adams also talked to psychotherapist Nick Duffell about the tradition of the British elite being sent off to boarding schools, where:

    Duffell says the boarding school system, and the deprivation and bullying rife within it, stunts the development of emotional intelligence and causes internal mental confusion—prohibiting good decision-making.

He says they learn to survive by developing a “strategic survival personality”. Their grip on reality is tenuous and they don’t even know when they are lying.

They love parliament, but also make good spies and actors. This system has given us Tony Blair, David Cameron and Boris Johnson.

It’s an interesting idea, I think more potent when as younger children they looked after by a nanny.

Gough Whitlam and Malcolm Turnbull apparently attended elite boarding schools, but I’m not going to psychoanalyse them. I went to boarding school too, but not elite, and there was no bullying.

3. ABC axes The Drum

Michelle Guthrie, the new ABC head honcho has made her first big decision by axing the ABC Online opinion site The Drum. Apparently the ABC took a hit in its special news gathering grant in the budget, but there was also this:

    The Drum has been repeatedly targeted by News Corp Australia and other publishers, including Crikey, as taxpayer-funded competition to commercial media.

I thought it was more competition for The Conversation than the commercial media.

Oddly the Oz said this (paywalled):

    To replace the forum and “offer more analysis”, Mr Morris will announce plans in the weeks ahead to work with outside organisations such as universities.

    “We are keen to provide all Australians with a digital home for Australian politics and policy, and I’ll have more to say on that in the weeks ahead,” he wrote.

Gaven Morris is ABC director of news.

It looks as though gutting Classic FM might be next.

4. Chilcot and Blairism

Geoffrey Robertson says Blair cannot be legally brought to account because of retrospectivity, but apparently international machinery is being put into place to change this.

Diane Abbott at The Guardian says:

    The Chilcot report provides an utterly devastating indictment of Tony Blair’s preparations for and conduct of the Iraq war, the most lethal and grotesque aspect of his legacy. Blairism included the certainty that overriding international laws, undermining international bodies and misleading the British public and the House of Commons was in the greater interest.

Blair was really serving capitalism and the US style of poiltics, where both parties:

    do not defend the living standards of ordinary people, offer no restraint over systematically racist police forces and provide no outlet for the large and growing popular anti-war sentiment.

This reorientation was pursued through “a series of half-truths, deceptions and outright lies employed in order to change political direction.”

    Blairism deserves no epitaph. It should have died in the deserts and cities of Iraq. But the Chilcot report should be its memorial. As Jeremy Corbyn has said, it is time for new politics. A new politics based on truth, not lies and based on the real needs of the people in this country.

Here’s Jeremy Corbyn’s response – not vindictive, but plainly speaking what needed to be said.

John Howard was out and about defending the indefensible.

Paul Keating said Howard should hang his head in shame.


    gave a scathing assessment of Mr Howard’s justification, saying it was a “stubborn and unctuous denial” that should be “held in contempt by every thinking Australian”.

Did not mince his words.

5. Jeremy Corbyn hangs on, for now

The rebels admit defeat, “it is finished”, they say as they continue to argue.

Angela Eagle’s branch constituency supports Corbyn.

Party officials try to work out who owns the assets in case of a split.

Corbyn explains why he’s hanging on. He was fairly elected and democracy must be respected. Labour has won every bi-election and on Brexit two-thirds of Labour voters voted to stay. He’s offering a real alternative to ‘politics as usual’.

Corbyn says we can’t leave exit negotiations up to the Tories.

Still they talk.

Introduction to Saturday salon

Because of the way the blog currently presents posts on the home page I think it’s better to remove the introductory material to a different place. For new readers, here’s the rationale for this space.


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.

52 thoughts on “Saturday salon 9/2”

  1. Good morning, Brian. On poverty: Disagree that people concentrating on survival are disengaged from politics. They may be well-and-truly disengaged from the official political system – but they may be either actively engaged – or potentially engaged – with the sort of politics that make the rest of us feel very uncomfortable – whether that be with local gangs or with widespread movements.

    In any case, profiting from the poverty of others may make an exploiter feel wealthy or comfortable – for the time being – but sooner or later they will have to pay the bill.

  2. It goes back to social security laws signed by Bill Clinton in 1996, and what the states have done with them, which was not what Bill foresaw or intended. Anyway Newt Gingrich controlled the Congress, so you can also finger him. It was intended to push people into work, and apparently it has, but not necessarily quality work, so we also have the working poor.

    Capitalism at work.

    The consequences of Government action is blame on Capitalism again ?

  3. Good morning Brian and all. Brian I hope your vision has returned to good health.

    I watched Shorten winding up in a rant about the forthcoming Turnbull government. It was a really good performance, no more “Mr. Nice Guy” here, no engaging smiles; Bill was right into it. He declared we would be back in the polls within 12 months, leadership was non-existent, Medicare was doomed, the economy would collapse and the sky would fall in. It was truly a Doomsday event, and any actor would be proud of it. It was a good follow-up to his election campaign and something of a pre-defense of his leadership status. And likely some of it was true – we will see.
    Bill missed acknowledging his part in the state of affairs of course. And he may not have understood the scrutiny of the important credit agencies upon Australia right now, and the possible effect his words might have. I think he showed a reckless disregard for Australia’s interests in his speech. His vitriol was for his benefit only. Yet it had the potential to further throw us all into even more uncertainty than ever. Shorten had already undertaken to ” work with the government” to fix the country. Then repudiates any hope of bipartisan politics. He did his level best to destabilise Australia’s government.
    He can’t be the best Labor has to offer.

    I get frustrated with politicians, but this time I am deeply angered.

  4. Was it this one Geoff ?

    Despite actually losing the Election, Bill can’t see anything at fault in himself or the ALP.
    With what looks like 35% of the Primary vote he fools himself in think more want him to be PM.
    Message to Bill ” They Don’t “.

  5. The consequences of Government action is blame on Capitalism again ?

    Jumpy, it’s the consequences of government inaction, when it largely gets out of the way and leaves people to see how they get on in the face of capitalism and free markets.

    People in eastern Europe will tell you, if they remember, no-one went hungry, by and large they had access to good education and health services. Of course that system was broken and couldn’t be sustained any longer.

    I’m trying to look at the facts.

  6. Jumpy, it’s the consequences of government inaction, when it largely gets out of the way and leaves people to see how they get on in the face of capitalism and free markets.

    Firstly, all Countries are based on Capital (money) for any kind of trade. It differs only how much the Government controls this capital and the value of it.
    The authors even state undeclared capital from the illegal sale of food stamps. Noone hasmade me believe that a dollar ( $1 ), taken by force, run the the huge washing machine of bureaucracy converting it to food stamps, then traded on the black market is worth more than 20% of its original value. All the time that system makes the things that $1 could have been traded for more expensive to bring to market through increased regulatory burden and additional taxation applied to those products.

    Happy to be convinced that a middle man with a monopoly helps producers or consumers.

  7. I would like to add that there has never been a totally free trade Country nor a completely Government controlled one.
    But if we look at the 2 that currently are on the furthest edges of that spectrum, I know where I’d rather be.

  8. The photo was actually a ‘studio’ photo my wife paid for. The photographer who did it used the Mt Coot-tha Botanical Gardens as her ‘studio’. That one was taken in the fern house.

    I’ve decided that’s where it stops.

    Jumpy, with due respect I’m not sure I understand that rave, but if you want to minimise the role of government, take a look at the early 19th century, where in Britain you had no compulsory schooling and exploited child labour. That was before workers started to organise as unions.

    I think we need the energy and drive of capitalism, but we need to civilise capitalism and need to balance it with the capacity to act collectively to safeguard the basic rights of all and provide the widest opportunities for all.

    ‘Welfare state’ should not be a dirty word.

    If we concentrate only on cutting expenditure and not increasing revenue, we’ll thin out the safety net, place it out of reach for some, and create holes for others.

    You can see this happening.

  9. Jumpy, on my count Shorten has won 11 seats and Turnbull lost at least 11. Another 10 are on razor thin margins. Turnbull appears to have made the senate worse for him to get legislation through, and worse too to pass the measures which they see as necessary to bring the budget back into balance, but others find unacceptable.

    He’s unlikely to get his industrial relations legislation through in a joint sitting, which he told us was necessary to prevent the country from going down the crapper.

    It’s a win, but a fail at the same time.

    Geoff, with Xenophon I would welcome ‘truth in political advertising’ legislation, and I think Qld ALP crossed a line when it sent text messages looking as though they came from “Medicare”. Arguably that was counter-productive anyway.

    But the LNP’s support for Medicare, and health generally, remains a problem. Turnbull told us all this week that he’d heard the message and that they need to convince the public they care. The next day both ScoMo and Alan Tudge ruled out any tangible change in support because, they say, we can’t afford it.

    Who has the final say here? Have a look at the last episode of Clark and Dawe, it’s very instructive.

    I’d rather Shorten didn’t talk about being back at the polls – it makes him sound like Abbott after 2010.

    We probably are doomed and the sky will fall, but not so much because of anything Bill Shorten says. It will depend on what Turnbull, ScoMo and their mates do over the next six months, and external matters. Balancing the budget is not the only, and perhaps not the main problem. I’ll do a post tonight to explain.

  10. I don’t advocate zero Government, that’d be anarchy and crazy.
    I only ask for Government to protect our Rights and occasionally fund economically positive infrastructure that the Private Sector can’t.
    Since Obama got in, despite ( or because of ), the levels of poverty have increased faster. Especially for blacks.
    Just repeating ” the Right get lucky and the Left unlucky in Government”, ignoring the evidence and trends is silly. It’s the size of Government interference that impacts peoples lives ( except a few Oil soaked Nations )

    I don’t know about the foothills of Mt Coot-tha but where I live the so called ” saftey net” is a chosen lifestyle, and the taxpayers have had a gut full.

  11. Jumpy, Obama can’t get his budgets through Congress, remember? The US constitution was set up to make sure the President couldn’t run the country.

    Mostly leafy suburbs here, but not all content. My wife handed out HTV cards out at The Gap. There we had Glenn Lazarus Party, the Secularist Party and I think a couple of other micros, the Greens of course, all good natured, except the Liberal woman who was rude and abusive.

    She said Liberal voters smelt of privilege and were consistently rude.

    She said there was no-one there for Pauline Hanson, but she reckoned you could tell them, described here by Laura Tingle:

    The story has almost become apocryphal through repetition of the experience of candidates and party workers at polling booths – both in the 1998 Queensland election and in this campaign – learning to recognise a One Nation voter: they approach looking grim and straight ahead; they don’t even pretend to engage with people handing out how-to-vote cards for other parties.

    My wife’s words a week ago almost exactly.

  12. Just to compare notes, I’ve had close relatives on the dole. The office is very hard to access and the activity requirements stupid and difficult to fulfil. You’d almost do anything to stay away from them.

    My young son even found it almost impossible to inform them he’d got a job, their systems are so unfriendly.

  13. I don’t know about the foothills of Mt Coot-tha but where I live the so called ” saftey net” is a chosen lifestyle, and the taxpayers have had a gut full.

    Too right Jumpy!
    It’s a pity we have such a nanny state with its weak as dishwater attitude to gun ownership. We should be able to organise a hunting party and rid your fair neighbourhood of this blight for ever. It’s just not good enough for a country which, in the words of the sainted John Howard, is a compassionate country due to its Judeo-Christian heritage.
    To the barricades!!!

  14. I think you may be making my case about effective bureaucracy, more taxes won’t fix it.

    On the voter thing, how would you, your ( loverly, I’m sure ) or Tingle see those folks Ballot Papers ?

  15. Oow, zoots been on the goon bag, good for him/her.
    Make the most of it dude, I hear it’s on the ban list.
    After sugar, blue ties and any sort or competition.

  16. Brian of course so much depends upon Turnbull & co., but I was seriously peed at Shorten’s un-Australian carry-on. It was just a performance to bolster his odds at having a tilt at PM next time. That’s a conch I don’t think he is worthy of, there are those better equipped to take that post.

    Bi-partisan politics seem to have gone from our world and replaced with a seemingly endless damning across the political landscape. Especially over the last thirty years. ‘Time we had some quality government.

    And my lovely wife has just awarded me a black belt to hold up my GOM coat.

  17. Jumpy, of course you can’t see the ballot papers, but by a process of elimination it’s a fair bet, but of course still apocryphal.

  18. From Tingle;

    Labor’s campaign was run by Erinn Swan, the daughter of former treasurer Wayne Swan.

    Wow, through a competitive process to seek out the best social media campaign boss in all of the Nation, Wayne Swans daughter was judged the best.
    What are the odds?

  19. Some part of my worst nature want the last 2 seats to fall LNP take longer.
    Shorten has to concede eventually right ?

  20. Understandably perhaps, Shortens game right now is to retain leadership of the party. Not yet a done deal I suspect, but he does have a reasonable claim. But in my view there are better candidates.

  21. Jumpy: Quite a while back, some aspects of government we had right here in Australia were pretty good. The aspects of government that weren’t good were mainly those imposed on us by our British former colonial masters and their local hangers-on.

    Governments did run a range of profitable and efficient enterprises – or ones that were potentially so but for being artificially hobbled by nepotism and the mollycoddling of certain private businesses. There was real, not fake, competition. There were economies of scale. There was long and very long term planning.

    Then we dropped our quarantine and allowed the pestilences of Reaganomics and Thatcherism to infest our economy and our political life. These diseases were, in the long run, even worse than Communism – because they were just as ideologically driven as was Communism but because they operated in much shorter time-frames, their effects were even more severe.

    Despite all the slogans – as lurid and fantastic as any Communist slogans – more and more of us are now living at a worsening standard of living; the inevitable result of which will be several dozen latter-day aristocrats living in obscene luxury whilst the rest of us will be starving or near-starving.

    If that’s a system you like then count me out – there are far better, more efficient, less destructive, more equitable systems around.

  22. Graham, any specifics?
    British rule of law and Magna Carta, what Companies, what timeframe of both, our standard of living is how much worse, where ya gunna go and what better systems.

    Help me understand please.

    If it’s a choice between ideology backed by evidence or ” the vibe “, I’ll take the former.

  23. Back in the dreamtime after WWll Australia was run by men who had lived through a depression and at least one world war. Men who were scared the communists would take over if the workers didn’t get a good deal or, heaven forbid, unemployment was allowed to rise above 2%. Men who didn’t believe in free markets or that multinationals had the right to tell us what to do and avoid paying tax. (OK, there were lots of things back in this dreamtime that most of us would find unacceptable now. However, unemployment was low and there was areal sense that things were getting better and better.)

  24. Jumpy, Shorten has conceded that the LNP is likely to “scrape over the line” to form government, but will wait for the count.

    Geoff, The Guardian is playing up the leadership thing, but my guess is that there’s nothing in it.

    Jumpy, Erinn Swan got the gig, maybe she invented the gig. In any case they weren’t going to advertise the job Australia-wide and let everyone know what they were up to.

  25. Geoff, I get that you don’t like Shorten much. I would have voted for Albo if I’d had a vote, but his pollies wanted him and it’s highly likely that they knew about his role in dumping both Rudd and Gillard.

    After he got the position some younger people I know said they liked him because he was less political and more like an ordinary person. Then he started firing off zingers and looked half asleep most of the time.

    In the end he cleaned up his act, he brought the party together and wrote 100 policies which he started wheeling out.

    Turnbull was the one who started the scare campaigns, as I’ve said repeatedly, over negative gearing, and the possibility of decent discourse evaporated.

    Labor’s Mediscare “lie” was not the first of the campaign.

    Leyonhjelm and Lazarus gave Turnbull a bad wrap, with Lazo saying:

    Another outgoing senator, Glenn Lazarus, told the media organisation that the Prime Minister is given to stamping his feet and wringing his hands when he doesn’t get his way.

    “Initially Malcolm made an effort, however, when he felt that he wasn’t going to get his own way he became quite angry and nasty,” the “Brick with Eyes” said, adding that he considers Mr Shorten the better communicator and negotiator.

    “I certainly found Bill to be more trustworthy than Malcolm. Malcolm lied to my face and I lost respect for him as a result.”

    I don’t think Lazo could be bothered lying.

  26. John, what was the minimum wage law directly after WW2?
    What are the differences in how unemployment %s were calculated then compared to now ?

  27. John D, there was steady progress across the free world from 1050 to 1970. Immanuel Wallerstein reckons modern capitalism started to run out of puff around 1970. Thatcher and Reagan came about a decade later and hope seemed to become in scarce supply.

  28. Brian I quite liked Shorten in his early days. He had a “nice” face, a ready smile and a fresh way of talking – still had the common touch you might say. That has gone from Shorten, gone from most of them I think.
    But my gripe (sorry to say it again) is that he denigrated Oz to defend himself against a possible challenge, and did so at the expense of this country.

  29. BilB, that was impressive from NASA:

    This week, NASA’s Juno spacecraft entered into orbit around Jupiter, after a 1.7 billion–mile journey. Juno arrived just one second off its scheduled arrival time after five years in space, traveling at 165,000 miles per hour — the fastest human-built object ever. Where in everyday life, or in government, do we see such sheer competence?

  30. It is a perspective on the relative competence of decision makers, Brian. Science follows a process of experimentation, observation, evaluation, prediction and conclusion. Politics operates in the turbulence delivered by what I call “transactional inefficiency” and opaque information. Transactional Inefficiency is about the opportunity for excess profit taking when contracts with large amounts and long durations are being struck. A good economist would be able to determine a formula for the risk of loss based on the factors at play in this scenario. The average person experiences this when they buy a car of a house, normally. Factors such as taxes, charges, risk insurances, conveyance and legal services, brokers fees and all manner of assessment services all prey on this intense ill prepared for moment in a person’s life. And this ripples throughout the entire economy at every level. Striking a person’s remuneration level is preyed upon at an ever increasing rate. But by far the greatest area in which opaque information impacts on a person’s effective use of value is in the every day decisions. If people were able to see how little production effort there was in the products and services they buy on a daily basis, they would be far better able to bargain for better value and quality.

    The fact is that we, the public, are in a value war against a far better informed opponent who uses the opaqueness of everyday information to maximise their profit and power over us. Sadly, bad politics thrives in this turbulent fog of misinformation. Consider the potential of good government with a scientific approach to outcomes against what we will be living with into the future. It is just plain upsetting.

    The problem is that our economists have flatly failed to make information appreciable. Their method is to right papers and articles point by point, and the probability of every person reading those items however accurate or vital, are like studying a huge map in a dark room with a tiny little light expecting to get a clear vision of the whole world. To make the situation worse there are lobbyists of the profiteers who are playing blaring misinformation while the observer is attempting to gather an understanding of the environment.

    The only person who has appreciated the problem and broken through fog is Hans Rosling with his software that absorbs masses of information to deliver a clear visualisation of the flow of outcomes. So my challenge through the next three years is to get the forces of good, whoever they may be, using Gapminders spectacular tools to demonstrate to the public just how the 1% has extorted the bulk of the world’s resources from the peoples of the world, and how they manipulate politics to maintain their power.

  31. Jumpy: All i know is that when I left school in 1960 everyone I knew got a job. What we talked about was the job we wanted, not whether we could get it. In addition there were a lot of scholarships, traineeships etc. that helped people like me from a poor background get to the end of high school and pay me to go to university.
    The older people i knew talked about the depression but there was no talk about problems getting a job after the war.

  32. Good luck with that BilB.
    Look into how many jobs have disappeared due to the tech and efficiencies ( that we both love ) since JDs 2% unemployment era.(my Dad was a cane cutter )
    Also how art and antique values fit in without coercion from any outside influence. And the income brackets these folk are in.
    Define ” exploite “.
    And quantify how the unregulated black market ( that trades in banned commodities for the most part) ebbs and flows as a % of the total economy.
    What untaxed profit margins are in the black market ( size in $A as a % of legal trade ).
    What income quintile engages most in the black market, and how to find out accurate data to feed into the magic computer.
    Just for starters….

  33. JD I left high in 1963 and it was just as you say…which job shall I choose. But there was one more thing: permanency. You could take a job for life because tenure was available. No short term contracts and way less uncertainty. Uncertainty was there but perhaps the worst was conscription from ’64 – ’72.
    Time have changed.

  34. Yes, all of that, Jumpy. That is the beauty of the Gapminder concept, all factors can be layered and visualised. Once it is done it is done forever as the data feeds progressively update, and future policies will be clearly visualised for their impact, or lack of it.

    One of the hardest concepts to grasp is the impact of wealth positions in an expanding population. This is never appreciated in any economic discussion which all tend to treat economies as a steady state entity ie the present is as it always was, and will be on into the future.

  35. I hope to see it Bilb, truly.
    As always with predictive models the error margin expands over time and our reliance on them rather than fundamentals is contributing to short sightedness, i think.

  36. It is not about predicting primarily, Jumpy. The history is all laid out, therein is the evidence of the theft of wealth, the unfairness of the compete tax system, the false wars, the incredible waste of energy, the pollution for profit. With clear evidence of the trends over time people will make properly informed decisions.

    As an aside, I did a large amount of pruning in my yard yesterday with my Ryobi battery chainsaw. What I did would have used half a litre of petrol with a petrol chainsaw, 4000 watt hours, but with my battery device used 38 watt hours (plus charging losses). The newer technologies are truly amazing for their effectiveness.

  37. If its the chainsaw on a stick we agree.
    Mine was borrowed by no less than a dozen friends and family that went on to purchase their own, leaving mine looking clapped out but still going strong ( touch wood )

    On your main subject, can you show

    The history is all laid out, therein is the evidence of the theft of wealth, the unfairness of the compete tax system, the false wars, the incredible waste of energy, the pollution for profit. With clear evidence of the trends over time people will make properly informed decisions.

    Or is it a work in progress that you hope will show that ?

  38. On another completely different thing, this Pokemon Go mobile phone game is huge, it’ll show up in all sorts of stats, traffic accidents for one.

  39. Mid afternoon, when I was talking to my sister in Dulacca, she said a newsflash went across the TV screen saying Bill Shorten had conceded.

    I put my head down then and finished the new post on Standard & Poor’s, the budget etc.

    On my constitutional walk I heard both Turnbull’s and Shorten’s speeches on News Radio. They made conciliatory noises, but the fine print was there. I’m not expecting warm fuzzies and all in bed together.

  40. It really comes down to how much un-windable damage can be done in three years. At least the fiction of an innovation driven employment boom will be cut to shreds. It’ll be interesting to see if Turnbull will backflip on the superannuation changes (almost certain) and if he does then that will reduce him to Abbott’s level of integrity.

  41. Jumpy: Just a quick run through a few:
    Commomwealth Oil Refineries – nobbled for the benefit of the world’s biggest “free enterprise(??)” cartel.

    Australian National Line – not the first time foreign big business used red-hot Communist stooges to stifle a minor competitor before it started growing.

    Trans Australian Airlines – those parallel schedules were strictly for air safety purposes, weren’t they? Of course they were. And the unhanged “defence” wallahs were quite right in urging the government to block the import of funny new (and highly competitive!) technology.

    How about the Government Aircraft Factory and the Commonwealth Government Clothing Factory? The names say it all. Of course, they must have been grossly overstaffed – with clumsy feeble-minded layabouts, bereft of quality assurance, forever late with orders, plagued by massive cost overruns, never able to overcome any problems without being rescued by the super-heroes of The Market (and not the other way around perhaps?)

    Commonwealth Serum Laboratories – obviously a hot-bed of Lysenko enthusiasts and horribly inefficient.

    Gee, Jumpey, I haven’t even started on Commonwealth Railways, CSIRO, Queensland Railways (oh boy, there are a couple of Royal Commissions into management waiting to emerge on that one). And not a word yet about the peculiar trajectory of the Commonwealth Bank.

    Sorry Jumpey – it’s just that I’ve seen enough genuine free enterprise in action – and it looks nothing like the ideological claptrap that is labelled “Free! Enterprise!” in Australia.

  42. So Tony Blair might do the rope dance after all? And perhaps Bush the Boofhead and his accomplices might be enthroned on Old Sparky too. One can only hope ….

  43. Graham, I’m not on top of the details, but there has been talk of a private action being brought against Blair. A parliamentary censure won’t help him.

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