Saturday salon 6/5

1. Turnbull and Trump furiously glad-handing

Turnbull met Trump on the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid with smiles all around.

    The President said the refugee deal issue “has been worked out for a long time”.

    “We had a great call,” Mr Turnbull said.

    Mr Trump said the US had a “fantastic” relationship with Australia.

    “I love Australia. I always have,” he said.

    “Greg Norman is here today, a friend of ours. We have a lot of friends here tonight.”

So that’s all OK then, except that Trump seems to be cosying up to everyone. He even told Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines that he is “doing a great job”, and invited him to visit at the White House.

Meanwhile Turnbull congratulated Trump on his efforts to dismantle Obamacare.

    “So keep at it, it’s great.”

According to reports, 14 million to lose access to health care and the rest of the poor pay more.

2. Fairfax newspapers in death spiral

Fairfax’s newspaper strategy seems to be to continue sacking journalists, announcing another 125 to go, a quarter of their editorial staff. Journalists went in strike, and the cobbled together SMH had an embarrassing typo in the front page headline:

Their website still offers careers at Fairfax:

    Join us to work for some of Australia’s most trusted publications

When sackings are announced, typically the share price goes up, management’s share options are worth more, and often they get bonuses.

Problem is that management seems to have no feel for or valuing of journalism and are lost wandering in the new digital environment.

The do have Digital Ventures, Domain Group, mainly real estate, events, and Macquarie Radio Network. I’ve heard that the market capitalisation of fairfax is greater than the three free-to-air TV stations combined.

The Australian Financial Review is diminished, but still successful. They’ll probably flog it off. It would be against character for the company to run a newspaper that works. There is talk of taxpayer support, but seriously, even I will probably need to buy a tablet soon to read the news over breakfast.

3. French election – it’s not over until it’s over

Or until the fat lady sings, if you are still allowed to say that.

Philippe Marlière puts the dilemma:

    The presidential run-off between Emmanuel Macron and Marine le Pen poses a dilemma for many French progressive voters: the former is seen as one of the main architects of François Hollande’s most unpopular pro-market and antisocial reforms, such as the Labour Law which dismantled vital workers’ rights.

    If elected, he promises a hardened version of those reforms, which have destroyed the Socialist Party. The latter, no less neoliberal than Macron (she has a similar socio-economic platform to Donald Trump), proposes an authoritarian regime in which the old obsessions of French Fascism could thrive: bashing Muslims, anti-immigration, as well as curbing civil liberties.

Macron’s arrogance and incompetence are not helpful, says Marlière.

The problem is, in simple terms, that the political left and the workers have no taste for Macron and are finding it hard to support him.

Yanis Varoufakis says Macron supported Greece in their time of greatest need when they were set upon by the EU bullies – albeit unsuccessfully. The Social Democrats under François Hollande in France and Sigmar Gabriel in Germany did not. Both are now heading for political oblivion. Varoufakis disagrees with much of what Macron would do, but Le Pen is unthinkable. Yet, he says:

    My great fear is that, even if he wins, Le Pen will still succeed in controlling the dynamics of French politics – especially if Macron fails to support and promote the Progressive International that Europe needs.

4. Where were you, when…?

Some-one said, you will remember where you were when you heard that Prince Philip was still alive. Probably not, but I fell to thinking what events I do remember in that way.

When President Kennedy was shot in 1963 I had just emerged from a third-rate afternoon musical movie (Bye Bye Birdie) after finishing my last university exam.

In 1969 I watched from the office next to mine as Neil Armstrong took one small step onto the moon. I had been hired by the Department of Education because the federal government were spending big bucks on secondary school libraries. The bloke in the office next door had been given the job of introducing new technology to schools, like black and white television, so he had a TV in his office.

In 1975 I came out from a longish lunch with educational suppliers (yes, such things were considered normal, but didn’t happen all that often) when the afternoon newspaper on the footpath displayed the news “Whitlam sacked”.

In August 1997, I was cutting grass on a particular hillside in Upper Brookfield when the radio I had on through button earphones under the earmuffs told me of Princess Diana’s demise.

I can remember other important stuff, like where I was when Queensland won the Sheffield Shield for the first time, and when we won the State of Origin for the 8th time in a row by a field goal in the last seconds, but not less important stuff like the Cuban missile crisis, or the fall of the Berlin wall. Amongst all that the prince consort being alive doesn’t rate, sorry, but well done him. It’s been a long haul since Liz ascended the throne in June 1953.

80 thoughts on “Saturday salon 6/5”

  1. With Macron you get policy that can be corrected by later governments.

    With le Pen you get ousted from the EU and that can’t be corrected.

    Its not that hard a choice. As I see it.

  2. Yes, the choice is quite straightforward.

    There are reports that Macron’s emails have been hacked and released with false documents mixed in, and there has been fake news along the way.

  3. “The Age” has given fuller coverage to M. Macron’s marriage to an older woman, than to his policies, it seems.


  4. It’s a choice between being governed by their French countrymen or unelected, anonymous, faceless scabs in Brussels.
    Simple as that. I know what I’d do.

  5. I’ve never understood why the most ardent supporters of the Australian republic movement can be the most fervent EU advocates. The symbolic autonomy angle.
    I guess that’s one of the conundrums that brings me here.
    The warm acceptance being another 🙂

  6. Jumpy, our situation is simply not comparable to Europe. We are an island continent, all English-speaking, so there is no logic to having a head of state from the other side of the world as a relic of colonialism.

    The driving motivation behind the EU is peace, which is found in the combined values of a recognition of individual human rights within the broader social solidarity traditionally expressed as the “brotherhood of man”. Hence the adoption of the Ode to Joy as the European anthem.

    The economic union is a way of binding themselves so closely together that any war would be obvious self-harm.

    Yet culturally the nations are very different, with 24 official languages. So it’s a matter of maintaining a political/cultural balance between the nation and the broader union.

    When we were in Europe and drove from Prague to Wroclaw, the geosat gizmo we called “Annabel” who was our guide, took us through a corner of Germany. It was strange, but you could tell. Nature is more orderly in Germany.

  7. So Jumpy, you are saying that California, and Washington state, and Iowa, and all of the other states should break away from the Trump idiocy and rule themselves?

  8. It’s a choice between being governed by their French countrymen or unelected, anonymous, faceless scabs in Brussels.

    Just a small correction – members of the European Parliament (Nigel Farage was one) are in fact elected.
    They are neither anonymous nor faceless, even though, like Nigel, many of them may be scabs.

  9. zoot
    The European Commission is the executive branch of the EU.
    Ours is the Cabinet and Ministry, led by the Prime Minister of the day.

    The primary push for an Australian republic has no material advantage, thats true, it’s a wholly symbolic show of autonomy.
    Brexit wasn’t just symbolic but has real world consequences good and bad.
    I would have thought Brexiteers and Australian Republicans had a closer position but that isn’t what I see happening.
    Even Peter Fitzsimons said if he were a Pom he’d have voted to stay !

  10. That said, on the flip side, the Australians that are anti-EU are most likely anti-republican.
    That doesn’t add up to me either.

  11. I do hear Europeans complaining about the ‘democratic deficit’ in EU. The European has limited powers.

    The governance arrangements could no doubt be improved, and Macron has proposed to renegotiate arrangements, not sure what he has in mind.

    Le Pen has backed off her Frexit position a bit, but it sounds tactical, for election purposes.

  12. And she has tried to force her party to back away from its anti-Semitic history, too.

    French politics is amazingly complex and fluid. I saw mention of a lawyer ally of Macron, termed ‘radical’. Wiki told me he was of a “Radical” party that split off from the Socialist Party decades ago; has had several titles since; has itself split; generally scores only around 2% in national elections. Except the time it scored about 12%, when the Socialist Party was riven by discord.

    Vive la France!
    Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite!!!

  13. It is probably timely to remind ourselves that Hitler’s National Socialists in the 1933 German election were the biggest party, but only got 33% of the vote.

    The latest polling in Germany shows Angela Merkel’s mob at only 36%.

  14. As another footnote, in the Presidential elections that saw Salvador Allende elected in Chile, the three candidates each had almost exactly one third of the vote.

    Allende squeaked in.
    In retrospect then, it was surely over-reach when he and his supporters declared “the Chilean Revolution” without even majority support.

    His vote rose at a subsequent election.

    Again, a complex nation politically, but with a long democratic history punctuated by occasional “strong men”.

    Allende’s Communist rival for President, Neruda, had stood aside for him, so the campaign was a joint Socialist/Communist effort, and nonetheless garnered only one third of the vote in an electorate including many low paid workers, poor farmers and farm labourers, etc.

    The working classes so often fail to substantiate Karl’s predictions, disappoint by not clamouring for socialism!!

    Perhaps they have been watching and judging events here and there around the world? Drawing non-Karlian conclusions.

  15. I’m probably not going to do anything on the budget until we see what some of the commentary is. I’m betting that the surplus will again be four years away, even with ‘good debt’. I’m sure the ratings agencies will be impressed.

    Overall, the idea is to bury the ghosts of 2014 and look like a dynamic government, doing things. Laura Tingle sees it as probably Turnbull’s last chance of becoming Turnbull as PM.

  16. The Ghost of Budget Past stalks the House.

    The 2014 Budget alone, should ensure Mr Abbott is never given a second chance, innit?

  17. Morrison, on the face of it, just delivered the most ALP budget a LIB/Nat Treasurer ever has.
    The angels may be in the detail but I doubt it.

  18. As Anna Bligh ( of all people ) said today on ABC radio, 80% of Westpac is owned by Super funds.
    A tax on banks is reducing retirement superannuation, no argument there.

  19. How about our career Politicians just form the ALN ( ALP/Lib/Nat ) and Rule us into Venezuela like status ?

  20. A tax on banks is reducing retirement superannuation, no argument there.

    So everybody (almost) pays.

    As a shareholder in the big four I can report the following:

    – dividends fron ANZ peaked in 2015, and are now lower

    – dividends fron CBA peaked in 2015, and now are the same

    – dividends from NAB peaked in 2014, and now are the same

    – dividends from Westpac peaked in 2013, and are now lower.

    Australian big banks may be more profitable than their global peers, but that ain’t saying much. Bank profits have actually hit the wall. They are over-exposed to the housing market, so not in a good position risk-wise.

    If passed on to shareholders, it’s probably a haircut of 5%. Not terminal, but more than anyone else is contributing. If they fail we’re all stuffed, but they’ll survive. They have no friends, so an easy target. Like the unemployed.

  21. We cannot fail: we have a Govt guarantee.
    The tax should be seen as a fee paid, in part, for that guarantee.

    Jumpy wouldn’t want us getting something for nothing, eh?


  22. What I like about this budget is that it has actually done something towards raising the funds needed to do its job properly and dropped the zombie savings that were never going to get through the Senate.

  23. Ambigulous, that is about the only argument that could form some kind of acceptable reason.

    Except that the guarantee saves ‘us’ as well as ‘them’ and costs the government nothing other than a promise.

    David Murray, not an independent commentator of course, says the ‘levy’, ie tax, is so arbitrary that it damages our polity and introduces sovereign risk for people looking from outside.

    Thing is the government says, Don’t pass it on, but if so you hit the shareholders, and if you piss off the shareholders, you have no bank.

    My broker has downgraded all of them, so now two are ‘underperform’ (the market) and the other two are ‘neutral’. I have no objection to an extra tax on super profits, but these insitutions are not earning super profits.

    Just saying.

  24. John D, you are right. It has raised taxes, but in a way that is politically clever.

    I think there is a smoke and mirrors thing going on with capital expenditure and debt, which is also probably a good thing, but I’m not sure the ratings agencies will be impressed.

    BTW, Larissa Waters says that busting the banks has long been Greens policy.

  25. Government guaranteeing inability to fail caused the GFC. Bankruptcy as a feature of Free Markets, not a bug.

  26. I don’t remember it that way, Mr J.
    A sequence of bank failures, wasn’t there? UK? Iceland? USA? Other countries. Junk bonds; local councils in the red; property prices plummeting, especially in USA; then Lehmann Brothers collapse.

    As far as I recall, it was only THEN that Obama drew a red line across the accounts and said, “mebbe the remaining institutions are too big (to be allowed) to fail.

    Banks worldwide drew up the drawbridges on their moats and stopped LENDING to each other, for fear a borrower might fail. global FINANCIAL crisis: finances ceased sloshing around the globe with abandon.

    Economies therefore at risk of seizing up.

    “Bankruptcy is our friend.”


    Not on that scale, Mr J.
    That’s called a Depression. Our grandparents or great grandparents lived through one of those. Quite unpleasant, I heard.

  27. Yes, Brian.
    The guarantee saves us all; keeps the show on the road; keeps the economy ticking over; keeps us in work; keeps food in the shops and goods on the shelves; keeps taxes flowing and welfare payments to the poorer or needier.

    I’m not against the guarantee.

  28. Equally well,
    how may we put a fair “price” on risk or absence of risk?

  29. The guarantees removed risk and promoted recklessness both for US lenders and borrowers.
    NINJA loans was the seed of government, lenders watered then with impunity.

    No government intervention ( corruption ) in lending = no GFC.
    Simple as that.

  30. I believe B. Clinton floated the this stupidity and stupid Bush Jr instituted it for votes ( the politicians drug ).

  31. Hey, J! I wasn’t absolving William Jefferson or George W.

    But USA around 2008-9 was nothing like Australia, then or now.

    The foolishness of “Fanny and Freddie”, couldn’t happen here, methinks. Because of prudential regulations, oversight by Federal agencies, etc.*

    In Victoria we (especially Geelong) were burnt by the collapse of the Pyramid BS, around 25 years ago.
    Officially, BS was “Building Society”.
    It soon stunk worse than an overflowing septic.


    *not saying Aussie banks are perfect.

  32. And by being stricter here with lending practices, we “lock young people out of the home purchasing market”.

    Indeed we do.

  33. Lending is a mutual transaction, irresponsible lending and irresponsible borrowing share the same culpability.
    Investing is just lending by another name.
    As for ” couldn’t happen here “, better ask the rating agencies that got it so criminally wrong yet we somehow still trust.

  34. Jumpy, from memory there were three things that caused the GFC.

    The first was Bill Clinton urging home ownership be extended to people that couldn’t really afford the repayments through “Fanny and Freddie”.

    The second was that in the US if you couldn’t afford the repayments, you could just hand in the keys and walk away. The debt didn’t stick to you, like it does in any sensible country.

    The third was how the financial system treated the debt. Financiers insured the debt, create derivatives and then in ways I can’t understand were allowed to package it and sell the debt everywhere, to banks in Europe and even local governments in Australia, all AAA rated by Standard and Poors, Moody etc, when it was rubbish.

  35. “…… any sensible country……”

    Indeed, Brian.
    Australia isn’t unique in being relatively sensible.

    Still, we could yet have a housing bubble go POP. Not saying that can’t happen here.

  36. Jumpy, when you applaud locking young people out of the home purchasing market, I’m not sure what you mean by ‘young’. I heard one commentator say recently that if you are not into the market by the time you are 35, you’ll never make it.

    In big cities the disappearing aspiration is to rent, also live somewhere where your friends are and not a two-hour commute from work.

    I heard the figure of 500,000 mentioned in relation to homelessness the other day (Wesley Mission bloke). He said that the government had not withdrawn the funding to combat homelessness, thank heavens, unlike foreign aid in recent years, but seriously is it doing more than tinkering around the edges?

  37. Vale Mark Colvin, a kindly and intelligent voice on radio for so many years. A gem in the ABC.

    A sad day.

  38. Brian

    Jumpy, when you applaud locking young people out of the home purchasing market, I’m not sure what you mean by ‘young’.

    I said what now ?

  39. I’ll pick that up later, to be sure.

    But my mind drifts to Bowens Shortens budget reply.
    Looking forward to counting the times he wrongly refers to additional tax as savings, tax relief as a subsidy and calling anything less than his pie in the sky funding level as a CUT even though the spend is more.

    As predictable as sunrise.

  40. Jumpy I mistook what Ambigulous said as you. Sorry. Has a different meaning when he says it! Too hard to disentangle, so let it go through to the keeper.

    Can’t say I understand a word of what you are saying about Bill’s speech.

  41. Shorten’s basic proposal is to restrict the increased Medicare level to those on $87K or more and keep the deficit levy on the rich while there is a deficit.

    Sounds fair to me!

  42. Looking forward to counting the times he wrongly refers to additional tax as savings, tax relief as a subsidy and calling anything less than his pie in the sky funding level as a CUT even though the spend is more.

    I must have missed Jumpy’s similar laser-like scrutiny of Morrison.

  43. zoot

    I must have missed Jumpy’s similar laser-like scrutiny of Morrison.

    Scroll up mate.

    Jumpy I mistook what Ambigulous said as you. Sorry. Has a different meaning when he says it!

    No worries, thought that may have been the case. Although I think you may have given an example of, ” it’s arrogant and presumptive of you to think you know what Ambiguluos and my motives were.” with the very same words.

  44. Scroll up mate.

    Mate, I did and nowhere can I find you mentioning the times Morrison wrongly referrred to additional tax as savings, tax relief as a subsidy and called anything less than his pie in the sky funding level as a CUT even though the spend is more.
    Must be a bug in Firefox.

  45. Yeah, weird.
    I was looking forward to Morrison doing that too, but he didn’t.
    Here it is, i’m sure you watch it and the reply but just in case.

  46. So when you wrote “scroll up” which particular comment were you referring to. (I need to give Mozilla as much detail as possible).
    Thanks in advance for your co-operation

  47. There are only 57 comments zoot and only 1 date the budget was read.
    You’re welcome.

  48. Jumpy, you and Ambigulous are different people. It matters who said what. Communication is not about interpreting words with cybernetic accuracy according to the dictionary.

    I’m not assuming I know what anyone’s motives are. The meaning of words is inflected by their context, that’s all.

  49. Sounds like conscience bias to me Brian.
    I try to use words in the oxford definition and Ambi seems to as well.
    There is no hope of you and I having any type of mature discussion if you choose to garnish or deliberately misinterpreted my words, because I’m not a lefty is there ?

    It’s a pity this format is so limiting. No voice tone or body language that, i believe, gives about 80% more content than just text.

    Oh well, your perceived biases assumptions are what they are and I’ll try dealing with them as best I can, while I can.

  50. There are only 57 comments zoot …

    But the one where you count how many times Morrison wrongly referred to additional tax as savings, tax relief as a subsidy and called anything less than his pie in the sky funding level as a CUT even though the spend is more, doesn’t show up in my browser.
    What did you actually write?

  51. Jumpy, I said it was a mistake, and as such not deliberate.

    Don’t you believe me?

  52. Brian, I do believe you made a mistake, accidentally , but it did reveal more about your good self than me.
    We can all benefit from a little introspection, particularly when we make mistakes.

  53. Jumpy, introspection is my middle name, possibly to a fault, especially when I make mistakes.

    But I’d humbly suggest you are over-egging this a bit and enjoying your advantage.

    New Salon now up, with the hope there might be something more interesting to talk about.

  54. If I may hesitantly attempt to ampilfy…
    What I meant earlier was that strict lending practices are to be preferred, on balance; and I agree with Brian that it’s a poor system that allows debtors to walk away from debts.

    Reducing homelessness and giving folk a better chance of buying a home are not best achieved by loosening lending criteria.


    J. you’re being harsh on our host.

  55. It just popped into my head when I was having a cup of tea. I think what Jumpy was looking for was Confirmation bias. Thing is you need a bit of ‘confirmation bias’ if you are going to be consistent in how you deal with the world. You’d go mad if you tried to work everything out from first principles. But too much is obviously not good.

    One of my pet hates is people being ‘certain’ about something when certainty is impossible and ambiguity must exist.

    Ambigulous, I agree about having strict lending criteria, and I think our banks are quite good at that.

  56. Yes, Brian

    We all need a framework in which to see and respond to our family, our friends, our work colleagues; wider social groups; the nation we live in and the world.

    It’s very deep too: as infants we made sense of our surroundings and then learnt our mother tongue (which itself frames our weltanschauung, – world view – if I haven’t misspelt it.)

    A friend told me that Chinese (language) is based on such a different conception of the world, that translation into English, or any European language, is very hard.

    Getting down to first principles is difficult, but I feel that’s what several of us have to do, often, when engaging with our mate J.

  57. Good comment, Ambigulous.

    Spelling correct, perhaps with a capital W, definitely so in German.

    I understand Mandarin is a tonal language. I think it’s the word ma that has 25 different meanings, depending on the tone. However, I’m sure that it goes further than that.

    There is a South American language where any statement made will normally contain the supporting evidence. Talking about a long-dead Jesus just didn’t cut it with them.

  58. So it’s ok to be arrogant and presumptive to think you know what peoples motives are.
    Cool. Just trying to get the standard sorted out.

  59. So it’s ok to be arrogant and presumptive to think you know what peoples motives are.

    Wherever I made that remark, it obviously needled you.

    So here’s the standard. All I’m objecting to is the word “know” as implying a fact, the truth and 100% certainty.

    People often suggest they know when in fact there is ambiguity, which should be recognised in the language of how we say things. You have no doubt saved my initial remark, and I’d be more than happy to have a second look at what I said and the reasons for saying it.

    I understand that in large part we developed our big brains so that we could understand what motivates other people and being able to predict how they will react (see Dunbar’s number). Of course our knowledge can never be perfect.

  60. So it’s ok to be arrogant and presumptive to think you know what peoples motives are.

    Jumpy never presumes to know what people’s motives are, which is completely admirable.
    The “Pro-Hills/anti-Dons” who infest this blog should follow his example.

  61. It was a couple of SSs ago about a certain tweet on ANZAC Day that I said was deliberately provocative.

    From memory I think there another subject about excusing breaking Laws if One feels they are unfair.
    I’m keeping that up my sleeve for tax time 🙂

  62. zoot

    Jumpy never presumes to know what people’s motives are, which is completely admirable.

    We all do it as Brian points out. I just didn’t like getting singled out and bagged for it.
    That’s all. I think it’s settled now anyway, turn the page.

  63. Jumpy, if you’d said you thought it was deliberately provocative I would not have had a problem.

  64. a certain tweet on ANZAC Day that I said was deliberately provocative.

    To follow my previous comment, note how Jumpy, without an iota of arrogance, is able to accurately ascertain Yassmin Abdel-Magied’s motives in posting her Anzac Day FB comment.

  65. Brian, please take what I write as my thoughts from now on.
    If they are someone else thoughts I’ll make that clear.

  66. Miine at 3.38 posted before I saw yours at 3.38.

    It’s amazing the trouble you go to, jumpy, to keep tabs on what people say.

  67. Mother’s Day Truce called at 6.40pm AEST.
    Have some cake!

    It hasn’t been laced with poison.
    Look, I’ll eat a piece myself…..
    No, it’s not a trick!

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