Saturday salon 16/6

1. You don’t need enemies when you have friends

You’ve probably been living under a log if you haven’t seen this photo:

They say Trump does not like G-7 meetings because they are short on people who massage his ego.

According to this account the photo was released by Angela Merkel’s office. Trump looks like a naughty school boy, recalcitrant and unrepentant. The bloke behind him is John Bolton, the National Security Advisor. Not sure what he was doing there.

After the G-7 summit host Justin Trudeau was asked about Trump’s new tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum.

    “It’s kind of insulting,” said Trudeau, noting that many “Canadians fought side-by-side with American soldiers.” He explained that “with regret,” Canada will impose “equivalent” retaliatory tariffs on the U.S., effective July 1. “Canadians, we’re polite, we’re reasonable, but we also will not be pushed around,” said Trudeau.

    Trump was reportedly infuriated by Trudeau’s comments during the news conference. He has directed U.S. officials “not to endorse” the G-7 joint statement, and personally insulted Trudeau in a series of Twitter posts.

You know the rest. Trudeau was called “very dishonest and weak” and was accused of of “stabbing the US in the back”. Trump’s trade adviser said “there is a special place in hell” for Mr Trudeau.

Krishnadev Calamur at The Atlantic says Trump Always Wanted a Trade War—and Now He’s Got Several:

    Trump really does seem to believe that “trade wars are good, and easy to win.” His priority is not negotiating, but fighting.

His adversaries in a trade war will direct pain at people who tend to vote for him.

2. Comedian Eurydice Dixon murdered in Melbourne park

Talented young Melbourne comedian Euyridice Dixon was murdered this week, walking home from a gig across a soccer field.

    Premier Daniel Andrews described Ms Dixon’s death as “a terrible, terrible tragedy and such a waste, such a senseless, thoughtless, evil act”.

A 19-year-old man from Broadmeadows turned himself in after it became known that police had some CCTV images of interest.

From The Age:

    Police believe that she did not know her alleged killer, 19-year-old Jaymes Todd, who has been charged with one count of murder and one count of rape.

According to his lawyer:

    Mr Todd has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and was ‘socially regressive’.

So, what is to be done?

I think it helps if there are cameras everywhere and everyone knows they are there. Dashcams and body cams would help.

However there was a deluge of criticism on social media when police warned women to take care where and when they walked.

    Please stop victim-blaming by telling women they need to change their behaviour to avoid rape and murder. Tell men to change theirs. Tell men to talk to their friends and peers, tell parents to talk to their sons, teach boys from early childhood about consent, respect and equality. Ensure boys don’t grow into men who believe women’s bodies are theirs for the taking. Violence and abuse starts with disrespect. Call it out at every opportunity. Don’t suggest women hide away and live in fear; support and empower them. Walking safely alone is not a privilege for women, it’s a basic human right. Fight for that.

Yes, all of that, but you still have to take care when and where you walk, and police would be derelict in their duty if they told you otherwise. Police say someone else, still unknown, sexually attacked a 21-year-old woman in Parkville in the early hours of March 28.

What Sargeant Stamper said was:

    “My message is that people need to be aware of their own personal security and just be mindful of their surroundings,” he said.

    “If people should have any concerns at any time about their personal security, call triple-0.”

Autism provides particular difficulties, but more generally commenting in Deep origins: patriarchy on the situation in 19th century England as seen by the Earnest Englishwoman’s modest proposal for women to aspire to the status of animals under the law, I said:

    women had become commoditised in their role of producing and raising the next generation, as well as providing sustenance and pleasure to men.

That happened seven maybe ten millennia ago. There has been progress, but:

    Although the social sediments of patriarchy developed over the last 10 millennia persist, the making of a truly egalitarian society along the dimension of gender should not be beyond us, as there are no longer any fundamental impediments. Egalitarianism along the dimensions of wealth, power and class may take longer.

We need to work on this together.

Bianca Fileborn, Lecturer in Criminology, UNSW makes considered and informed commentary. She says safety “advice” is at best redundant.

Then we have Man arrested for alleged sexual assault of 11yo girl in Adamstown heights, Newcastle. Taken at knife-point in broad daylight and held for five hours.

Again cameras helped. Statistically such events are rare and statistically girls and women are safer in open air than at home. We have a way to go.

3. Why the ANU vice-chancellor Brian Schmidt rejected the Ramsay Centre’s millions

Ramsay Health Care is a multi-billion dollar publicly-listed enterprise with hospitals and health care facilities in Australia, the UK, France (where it is the market leader) and Malaysia. It was founded by Paul Ramsay, who died in 2014 leaving around $3 billion to found The Paul Ramsay Foundation where he “wanted a significant part of his personal fortune to be spent on funding an academic centre to revive the liberal arts and humanities”.

A degree in Western Civilisation was proposed at the Australian National University.

Tony Abbott:

    published an article in Quadrant about the proposed degree. Most people latched on to his comment that the centre was “about Western civilisation but in favour of it”.

    But what got up the nose of ANU vice-chancellor, and Nobel laureate, Brian Schmidt was Mr Abbott’s line, “a management committee including the Ramsay CEO and also its academic director will make staffing and curriculum decisions”.

When Nobel laureate ANU VC Professor Brian Schmidt queried this with Ramsay Foundation chair, one former PM John Howard, he was told he would have to “suck it up”. The course looked innocent enough:

but Schmidt took a taste and spat it out.

    ANU had a core set of principles, “These include retaining, without compromise, our academic integrity, autonomy and freedom.”

Free and proud of it.

4. Why gig workers may be worse off after the Fair Work Ombudsman’s action against Foodora

Three academics have argued:

    The way “gig workers” are paid and protected might be about to change, as a result of legal proceedings brought by the Fair Work Ombudsman. The Ombudsman alleges that food-delivery platform Foodora underpaid three workers by A$1620.74, plus superannuation, in a four-week period.

    The Ombudsman argues that while Foodora engaged these workers as independent contractors, they were in reality employees. If the action succeeds, it could be positive for the underpaid workers, but it could also drive down working conditions.

    The food-delivery platforms have stated they would be willing to give their workers more benefits, such as training. But not at the cost of workers being classified as employees. If the Ombudsman’s case succeeds, it could cause gig platforms to offer fewer protections in order to ensure workers are classified as contractors.

    This could not only disrupt the food-delivery sector, but have a broader impact on the gig economy, restaurants, customers and workers.


    The Fair Work Ombudsman’s decision to intervene in the food-delivery sector might be a response to poor working conditions for gig workers. But the decision to go after Foodora specifically could dissuade rather than encourage other platforms to improve working conditions.

The Fair Work Ombudsman’s decision to target Foodora may be counterproductive because:

    It sends the signal that the better you treat your workers, the more likely they are to be classified as employees, the more expensive your labour costs will be and the more inflexible your operation will become.

That’s the argument. We await the recommendations of the Senate Select Committee on the Future of Work, due on June 21.

Thanks to John Davidson for bringing this article to my attention.

38 thoughts on “Saturday salon 16/6”

  1. Just on the Merkel/Trump G 7 pic, I know that Merkel speaks three languages – German, French and Russian. So how was she communicating with Trump?

    Seems she can speak English very well when she has to, but it is hard work, and she prefers not to.

  2. Photo was in an informal period between working sessions apparently – that would explain Bolton’s presence

  3. Thanks, Douglas, that makes sense.

    At the Washington Post Robert Kagan says Trump’s America has become the rogue superpower:

      Since the end of the Cold War, it has widely been assumed that U.S. foreign policy would follow one of two courses: Either the United States would continue as primary defender of the international order it created after World War II, or it would pull back from overseas commitments, shed global responsibilities, turn inward and begin transitioning to a post- ­American world. The second approach was where U.S. foreign policy seemed headed under President Barack Obama, and most saw the election of Donald Trump as another step toward withdrawal.

      It turns out there was a third option: the United States as rogue superpower, neither isolationist nor internationalist, neither withdrawing nor in decline, but active, powerful and entirely out for itself. In recent months, on trade, Iran, NATO defense spending and perhaps even North Korea, President Trump has shown that a president willing to throw off the moral, ideological and strategic constraints that limited U.S. action in the past can bend this intractable world to his will, at least for a while.

      Trump is not merely neglecting the liberal world order; he is milking it for narrow gain, rapidly destroying the trust and sense of common purpose that have held it together and prevented international chaos for seven decades. (Emphasis added)

    He says that America’s enemies will do well because ultimately America does not want war, but it friends have become vulnerable.

  4. Do we have figures on the other G7 nations tariffs toward the US before this ?
    I read Trump said “ if you don’t want a tariff war then let’s have zero tariffs between us ”
    That looks like a valid stance, tariffs do no one any good.

  5. Saw a few good captions to that G7 photo, my favourites include “ shut up German Hillary, I’m trying to make sense of your Canadian girlfriend “ and from Abe ( based on his body language) “ You want Japan to side with Germany in a War again ?!??!!!”

    Lots of humour out there.

  6. Detailed stats on murders in Aus indicate that men are about twice as likely as women t be murdered and the murderer 6 times more likely to be a man.
    A few other statistics:
    Only 16% of murders were committed during the course of a crime.
    19% of male murders were committed by strangers vs 3% for women.
    35% of male murders were committed by acquaintances vs 12% for women.
    23% of domestic violence deaths were male vs 73% for females.
    Murder patterns for indigenous people were different from those of non-indigenous people. (I also suspect that murder patterns would be different for different subcultures within our society.)
    The point I am making is that murder patterns are complex and some of the common platitudes may be well off the mark. (For example, stranger danger is a much more serious problem for men compared to women.)
    The police should be advising all of us about things we can do to reduce the risk of being murdered.

  7. Jump, I’m not up on trade matters. When I used to follow it earlier this century, the Americans where straight out duplicitous, while the Europeans took the prize for hypocrisy, giving lectures from the moral high ground while screwing everyone they could.

    I have heard it said that there aren’t many tariffs left to concede between Europe and the US. Trump jumping at shadows.

    There is, I believe, an issue of substance over intellectual property with China, but it is said that the Chinese know that has to change.

  8. John D

    Thanks for the stats.
    “Stranger Danger” was an official program in the 1980s, and I see no harm in warning primary school kids about strangers offering sweets outside the school, or a stranger (I must tread carefully) leaning out of his car, saying “Jump in!”

    Just because a particular crime is rare, doesn’t mean children shouldn’t be warned, IMO.

    In the 1950s, parents and teachers frequently told us kids, “Never talk to a stranger.”

    The recent police statement from Melbourne sounds like a general warning, to be aware of your surroundings, and safety.

    An Aussie woman temporarily living in NY, and about to cross Morningside Park on foot in the early evening, was warned by a local man that it wasn’t safe to do so. He was a local. He did well.

    Being aware of potential danger can save a life.

    Of course, everyone should be able to walk safely home.
    Of course no human should rape or murder another human.
    But the uproar in Melbourne over police advice seemed, to me, to be ill-directed.

    Police were not saying, “It’s open season on women”.
    Far from it. They and their detectives pursue murderers with persistence and ingenuity. Give them a break.

  9. Jumpy: The 80:20 rule might say that demanding widespread changes to public spaces may not be the right priority given that only 3% of female murders are by strangers. Even more so given that this murder was done by a strange stranger.
    However, the risk behind taking too much notice of the 80:20 rule is that enormous effort is put into difficult to fix parts of the 80 while there are very easy things that could be done about some of the 20.

  10. Haveing a closer look at those stats, we could start in the NT !
    Some truely shocking rates up there.

  11. Jumpy: Not surprised. The murder rate on Groote Eylandt was very high when we lived there. It is the only place I have actually personally known murderers and victims. Booze may not have helped but a culture where men traditionally fought with weapons, payback was important and many women were treated poorly also didn’t help. I am not sure how much of this has changed but a couple of years ago two men were killed in a spear fight.
    Most of the deaths I knew about never got anywhere near the media.

  12. Reducing murder rates may require actions that focus on murderers, victims, locations and culture. Makes sense to look at all of these issues. Definitely not sensible to attack people who are suggesting that a death may have been avoided if the victim had made different decisions or behaved differently when they realized they were in danger.

  13. This is an interesting article concerned with Marx’s analysis of Capitalism and how he identified most of its inherent weaknesses.

  14. Indeed, zoot.

    With the Russian Bolshevik experiment being commemorated, several interesting reappraisals of Marx and his writings & predictions have appeared.

    To paraphrase, “Hitherto, Marx and Marxists have described some faults of capitalism; the point, however, is to change it!”

    So, in what manner do we need to modify capitalism, in order to remove or substantially reduce its faults?

    Lots of work to do:
    £ inequality
    $ immiserisaton
    ¥ instability
    £ monopoly in manufacture
    $ fair trade
    ¥ state to state relations
    £ legal systems
    $ fair return on investments
    ¥ inherited oligopoly
    £ technical innovation
    $ workers’ rights
    ¥ democratic reform
    £ the State and the individual

    (And those are some of the easier areas)

    Being incorrigibly petit bourgeois , I reject Leninism, as I may have mentioned occasionally.*

    But Lenin’s famous question echoes :
    “What Is To Be Done?”

    It’s a reasonable question, for everybody. Even if they don’t like Lenin’s answers.

    *(frequently, at tedious length…)

  15. Marx predicted Capitalism would destroy itself, but it hasn’t despite so much interference.

    He didn’t predict, as far as I know, the mountains of dead bodies and immense suffering where his “ manifesto “ has been tried and failed so spectacularly.

    Marxism is totalitarian and self destructive by design.

  16. I think Marx predicted that the number of workers would continue to increase, as industrialisation grew; eventually these workers would constitute, with their dependents, a majority in the nation.

    If the workers then acted together (as a “class”, aware of their self-interest and prepared to co-operate across industrial differences) they, being a majority, would – as a matter of democratic principle – become the rulers.

    As far as I know, it got a bit vague after that.
    The workers would develop a socialist system, and eventually reach the Nirvana of Communism.


    There were huge debates (but not mass debates) in 19th century socialist circles, about the “road to socialism”. Marx & Engels claimed to have put it all on a scientific/philosophical foundation.

    Marx was a fierce debater.

    I wonder if he would have faded away into a quaint historical footnote, had it not been for the Bolshevik coup in Petrograd in1917, proclaiming his theory as their gospel?

    Lenin wanted (and led) a secretive “vanguard” Party.
    Seeds of tyranny right there in the secrecy?
    Necessary because of the Tsar’s system?
    Parliament a waste of time in Petrograd, before the coup?
    Lenin and his pals utterly ruthless, before and after their seizure of power?


  17. I must apologise for this:

    But Lenin’s famous question echoes :
    “What Is To Be Done?”

    at 1.41pm today.

    The question is trite.
    Just because an infamous leader uttered it and wrote it, doesn’t make it profound.

    I am guilty of “celebrity citation”.

    [Here endeth the self-criticism]

  18. In The Conversation online, an article claims Daniel Ortega (Nicaragua) is on his last legs, after at least 215 deaths and 1,000 injuries in street protests that began in April.

    Latin American dictators often fail.

  19. I can’t name one plank of communism that Marx followed in his life personally.

    Had he been born under his own system he’d have ended up in a gulag as many times as as he could Mulligan.

    A cowardly hypocrite of a man he was,with a fantasy for violence ( by others ) and envy, as his writings confirm.

  20. Ortega, another Marxist leader, how many death and how much misery on his Marxism?

    It’s a foul ideology.

  21. Are there any Spanish speaking Countries that aren’t shit holes ?

    I’m beginning to formulate an hypothesis that different types or language influence cultures differently, regardless of race or geographical location.

  22. Mr J

    If you can bear to read the work of an economic historian and sociologist, you might try “The New World of the Gothic Fox” by Claudio Veliz. Published in the 1990s, I think.

    He has worked at La Trobe Uni, Boston Uni and Harvard, I think.
    He came from Chile.
    He has studied Latin American economic history.

    His theme is that the modern world grew out of British influences, transferred to non-Iberian Europe and to North America.

    Spain was a wealthy and powerful nation five centuries ago, but Veliz claims its bureaucratic system choked it to death. (Comparatively speaking.) Not the language itself, but the cultural heritage from Spain.

    (He has an interesting anecdote about the very beginnings of Amnesty International too, if you can track it down.)

    Trigger warning: he sometimes writes for Quadrant.

  23. Jump, the article I linked to does not endorse Marxism, is not about Marxism, and acknowledges the failures of the governments set up in the name of Marxism.
    Instead the article is concerned with the inherent weaknesses in Capitalism discerned by Marx and is quite reasoned and reasonable. Have you even read the article?
    After your knee jerk response I promise I’ll put a trigger warning for you next time.

    And Marx is still a product of “Western Civilisation”.

  24. Jumpy: A lot of revolutions fail because they end up being similar to what they replaced. People like Stalin behaved like the old emperors. Mao ended up behaving like a Chinese emperor.
    Wonder what would have happened if communism had grown to power in a country with a long history of democracy?

  25. Jumpy: A lot of revolutions fail because they end up being similar to what they replaced.

    As illustrated in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, where the pigs took over the big house and their mate the horse was sent to the knackery.

  26. Found this today, make ya think ay.

    In answer to the question posed by your link, I saw both photos.
    In answer to your question, it got me thinking, “I wonder what the person who made the meme is trying to say”.

  27. Listening to the Senate broadcast yesterday, a Senator was rude emough to point out that when Sen Hanson claimed she would not personally benefit from the projected tax cuts, Sen Hanson was wrong.

    Today, Sen Hanson was one of many honourable Senators who voted for the proposed tax cuts.

    Too late now, but I have some advice: be careful about telling that particular Senator she is wrong about something.


  28. Ambi, Denmark are ranked 12 in the world, I think Peru is 13. We may have drawn the hardest group.

    I wanted to go back to the issue of Eurydice Dixon. I think the last comment was John Davidson June 18, 2018 at 9:22 pm .

    John gave useful stats on murder rates, but I was shocked to here on Focus: When does “be careful” turn into “victim blaming” when it comes to sexual crimes? that according to the ABS there were 4,349 complaints of sexual assault in Queensland and the number had increased every year for five years.

    I read elsewhere that only 15% of incidents are reported to the police.

    So that makes the strike rate not 11.9 per day but just on 80. We need to work on a number of fronts, but I think the inquiry into workplace sexual harassment is a good place to start.

    I’ve had a draft post in the works since just after International Women’s Day.

    Perhaps of relevance to walking in the park late at nights, Gloria Laycock, Professor of Crime Science in the Engineering Sciences Faculty and Director of the Jill Dando Institute of Security and Crime Science at University College London said at Big Ideas that the reason why the stats on crime generally were falling was because opportunity had been narrowed and constrained.

  29. Here’s a novel approach:
    apparently the President of Timor Leste is refusing to swear in eleven persons: eight proposed Ministers and three proposed deputy Ministers, for the new Cabinet

    Oh, some have been convicted of corruption, and the others are all under investigation for corruption.

    Who says a Preident must be at the beck and call of the PM?

    (South Irian, 1975….. Governor-General and PM.)

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