Saturday salon 16/9: late edition

1. What happens when fools get to vote

Philosopher AC Grayling told Phillip Adams that just 26% of eligible voters voted in favour of Brexit, and exactly the same percentage voted for Trump. It doesn’t sound like democracy. BTW Google says that 36.8% voted for Hitler’s party in Germany.

Grayling says that Plato worried about democracy when everyone had the vote, although ‘everyone’ in Greece meant ‘citizens’, by definition male, and constituting about 20% of the adult population.

Alexis de Tocqueville worried about American democracy, in that case the votes of property-owning men, so the founding fathers designed a system of checks and balances to protect the system from possible mob rule. In the 18th century Edmund Burke made a coherent case for opposing democracy because, in the first place government required a degree of intelligence and breadth of knowledge of the sort that occurred rarely among the common people.

Philip Coorey in his latest AFR article points to a ScoMo speech back in June to the Liberal Party Central Council:

    “It is no longer about convincing Australians to be on our side, but to convince Australians that we are on theirs,” the Treasurer said.

    “To crack through this thick ice, we must communicate candidly and with authenticity. And we must answer with our actions the questions that Australians are asking: ‘Do you get it?’, ‘Are you on my side?’.”

So the Business Council should take note, corporations are no longer a protected species. Government actions will be ruled by populism, not information, knowledge, logic or even what is best for the people.

This, however, ignores another issue. There are more country Liberals in the parliament than Nationals. Together they perhaps constitute about 15% of the vote, but are making 100% of the policy in some value-laden issues, also with an alternative view of climate science.

2. Politics has gone completely strange

Today I heard someone saying that it is important to retain the possibility for respectful dialogue in politics.

As if.

Katherine Murphy told Phillip Adams that around 50% of people were avoiding the news, to make sure they did not hear anything about politics.

At The Guardian Murphy writes that:

    You’d think shouting your way, incoherently, to victory would be impossible, absurd, ridiculous – except that modern politics is really a curious business. Shouting furiously about things often substitutes, successfully, for doing them.

Then “posturing and blathering” become more important than substance.

That’s mainly what is going on in energy policy, she thinks.

But on media law changes, she points out that One Nation abstained from voting for their own policies so that they could continue complaining on Facebook.

Lenore Taylor reckons in the media law changes, the government was doing stuff, very precisely stiffing The Guardian. The government had quoted The Guardian as one of the reasons there was now more diversity, so ownership rules could be relaxed. But when it came to doing a deal with Xenophon over $60 million to help regional publishing, minister Mitch Fifield used The Guardian’s foreign ownership to excude it, saying they were only interested in helping Australian journalism.

Never mind that the G pays 80 Australian journalists, has won seven Walkley awards, numerous scoops and has a unique monthly audience of 2.8 million readers, mostly no doubt Australians. Richard Di Natale:

    concluded it was “hard to escape the fact this was structured in this way … to deliberately exclude the Guardian and other Australian-based international outfits that are indeed holding the government to account … it is hard to escape the conclusion that this was done for anything other than political reasons.”

The Guardian makes no profit and has no shareholders to pay.

Meanwhile respected commentator Margaret Simons reckons the law changes do nothing to arrest the crisis facing journalism, which is withdrawing from the local, while Facebook and Google suck up the advertising revenue and pay no tax.

3. Aussie parents are struggling with the worst work-life balance in the developed world

According to OECD and World Bank data, Australia ranks 27th out of 37 countries on work-life balance for parents, taking into account things such as annual hours worked, paid annual leave allowances, paid maternity leave and paid paternity leave.

Actually New Zealand ranked two below Australia and the worst country was the United States.

Finland, Germany and Japan were among the best countries in the world for parental work-life balance.

    According to the index, Australians are working an average of 1669 hours a year, get 20 paid annual leave days, just 7.6 weeks full-time equivalent paid maternity leave and only 0.8 weeks full-time equivalent paternity leave.

    This compares to Germany with the lowest average working hours at 1363 hours a year, France with 30.3 paid annual leave days, Estonia with 85 weeks of full-time equivalent paid maternity leave and Japan with 30.4 weeks of full-time equivalent paid paternity leave.

    Australia recorded the second lowest paid maternity leave rate of all the countries in the study.

So, ScoMo, Messrs Turnbull and Cormann, you’ve been there four years now. Why is it that we have to work 22% more hours than the Germans?

Please explain!

4. Citizenship saga reaches the High Court

Finally the saga has reached a directions hearing, where a few things happened. The Solicitor-General is arguing that the cases of senators Fiona Nash, Matt Canavan, Nick Xenophon were “virtually indistinguishable” by law from Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce’s case. Tony Windsor’s lawyer is arguing that Joyce is special, but we have not been told why.

I can’t find a link, but Windsor’s lawyer is also arguing that ‘citizenship by descent’ was common at the time when the constitution was formulated, so would have been in the mind of the founding fathers. I think he said it applied in France, Germany and the USA at the time, possibly more.

I think Canavan is a bit different because of what his mum did. It still seems incredible that he would not have known what she did when she did it specially for his benefit.

Roberts seems to be in the most trouble, and got into trouble again for being late with his paperwork going to court.

16 thoughts on “Saturday salon 16/9: late edition”

  1. That’s your lot!

    I was going to mention the textbook case of ethic cleansing going on in Myanmar, the anniversary of the Twin Towers and 9/11, Getup being under attack by the LNP, and Labor being ahead in Queensland in the latest poll, where the LNP will have to share any victory with One Nation, making Labor once again the preferable conservative government available.

  2. I was going to mention the textbook case of ethic cleansing going on in Myanmar,

    In Nobel Peace winner Aung San Suu Kyi sphere of influence ?

    the anniversary of the Twin Towers and 9/11

    Nobel Peace winner Obama had negative influence in that sphere.

    Getup being under attack by the LNP,

    Traditional marriage advocates under attack from getup.

    and Labor being ahead in Queensland in the latest poll, where the LNP will have to share any victory with One Nation, making Labor once again the preferable conservative government available.

    ” Labor Conservative ” hahaha, fiscally as well as socially, hahaha.

  3. Thanks for that Brian and speedy recovery.

    Re Canavan blaming his mum, Canavan and Roberts changed their stories when the High Court began hearings on the case back in August. It which was not widely reported.

    “Senator Canavan has conceded he has been an Italian citizen since he was 2 – when he previously blamed a 2006 application by his mother – while Senator Roberts appeared to admit that he had not filled in his British citizenship renunciation documents until after he was elected. ”

    The interview by Adams of Greyling was extremely insightful. For awhile I had keen interest in ancient Greek history because of it’s heavy influence on current European culture, thinking and politics. The development of democracy, particularly around the time of Thucydides, is also very pertinent for todays political zeitgeist.

  4. ethic cleansing is common in politics.

    See also:
    Politics in bad odour
    Protest vote
    Lionel Murphy

  5. John, I’m tipping Storm vs Cowboys, which is kind of all Queensland.

    But all the matches have been close. The standard of play in the top 8 teams is awesome!

    Ootz I can’t wish Roberts and Canavan well. I feel sorry for all the rest, but think the High Court should interpret the language the way it is written, leaving us to change the Constitution.

  6. Ootz I was fine yesterday, thanks, by the time I’d finished breakfast.

    I never did political science at university. I did a few years of philosophy, which included a series of lectures on Greek philosophy, but I was probably too young to appreciate it.

    The book by Gamble on political ideologies I’ve been mentioning certainly goes into the topic in some detail. He sees a basic tension as being between elites and populism, including the elites in the bureaucracy, which I was part of for most of my working life.

    Our problems started when the minister, who was an idiot, started telling us what to do, rather than the other way around.

  7. John, I’m tipping Storm vs Cowboys, which is kind of all Queensland.

    My head says Storm v Roosters GF but the week off can be great for players bodies but their minds can be off put to a degree.

  8. Jumpy, the week off thing doesn’t apply to Storm IMHO. Craig Bellamy’s team is always (mostly) ready to play. It could apply to the Roosters, though, who have gone missing at times.

    I’m not writing the Broncos off. Bennett has so many players there who just play what is in front of them and do something freakish that they are hard to coach against.

  9. Brian: There is a potential problem with organizations like Get-up raising funds to run campaigns that will help specific political parties if they become a way to bypass provisions aimed at cleaning up our current donation/whiff of corruption problem.
    However there is a bigger problem but I think there is a much bigger problem when you have something like the Mining Council running campaigns aimed at helping increase the profits of their members.
    Then there are organizations like the Murdoch press that frequently behave as though they are running campaigns on behalf of particular factions within a major party.
    There is a problem with no easy solutions.

  10. Microgrids/offgrid make sense in parts of WA.

    Fed up with frequent outages and voltage spikes, six farming households in West River, 500 kilometres south of Peth, chose to take a leap of faith and try living off the sun and lithium batteries.

    “It has been just fantastic, it’s far exceeded our expectations, and it’s very good, clean power,” West River resident Ros Giles said.

    “Friends are often out [without power] for up to 24 hours and thinking, ‘we might come visit because you’ve got power and we haven’t’,” she said.
    WA’s energy utility Western Power offered the systems for free in the search for alternatives to the massive cost of replacing ageing poles and wires.

    The utility builds and maintains transmission lines in remote areas, but landowners wear the cost of the lines on their properties.

    Rows of interconnected batteries on shelves.
    PHOTO: The inside of a solar battery storage system. (Supplied: Western Power)
    The Giles family spent tens of thousands of dollars connecting their farm in the 1980s.

    When the region experienced major flooding in January, receiving 310 millimetres of rain in four days, the solar units kept the lights on while many grid-connected customers lost power for days.

    “It’s good, clean, reliable power and that’s the big advantage,” Bernie Giles said.

    “Cleaner meaning frequency and voltage consistencies … and that means less damage to things … like electric fence units with voltage spikes and fluctuations.

    “We haven’t come across anything we can’t do that we could before as far as wielding and using large amounts of power or starting electric motors, not a problem.”

  11. Brian I’d like to look at Gamble – would you send me an ISBN of other detail I can track? Thanks in advance

  12. I’ve sent Geoff an email, but if anyone else wants to know:

    The book is by Andrew Gamble: An introduction to modern social and political thought MacMillan, 1981

    ISBN – 0 333 27028 2 (hardcover)
    0 333 27029 0 (paperback)

  13. Thanks Brian
    I was able to buy it for ~$AU10 (delivered) via Fetchbooks. I found the ISBN had changed to:
    ISBN 10: 0333270290 ISBN 13: 9780333270295

  14. Good one Geoff.

    I rescued it from about five shelves of books Mark was going to send off to the big annual charity book sale we have here, where someone would have picked it up for $2-3. It’s the kind of thing no-one would want to actually send to the tip, but may not want to occupy shelf space.

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