Weekly salon 7/10

    1. Kavanaugh makes it, but…

    2. Fat rich banks not “unquestionably strong”

    3. Humans a pestilence upon the earth?

    4. A new low for Trump

    5. Wentworth in play

1. Kavanaugh makes it, but…

Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, scraped through, largely on partisan lines, because the waverers accepted that the rushed FBI investigation found no convincing corroborating evidence.

The presumption of innocence is one thing, but his outburst at the hearing caused concern in itself:

    retired supreme court justice John Paul Stevens said Kavanaugh’s strikingly partisan tone while denying the allegations against him before the Senate judiciary committee last week should disqualify him.

    “His performance in the hearings changed my mind,” said Stevens, a lifelong Republican. “The senators should pay attention to this.”

    More than 2,400 law professors from across the country also signed a letter urging the Senate not to confirm Kavanaugh, citing his “aggressive” demeanor in the hearing.

    The American Bar Association said it was re-opening its evaluation of the judge based on his performance at last week’s hearing. It had previously rated him “well-qualified”.

Kavanaugh tried to walk that back in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece, saying he was upset and his testimony ‘too emotional’.

I found Martha Nussbaum’s comments to Scott Stephens (Waleed Aly was away sick) fascinating. She said he perjured himself in comments on his drinking habits to Senate Judiciary Committee. Essentially he said he didn’t get pissed, then later admitted he did. She would rule him out on character terms on that and his behaviour under pressure.

She also said he was an athlete at university, and athletes were a protected species. Footballers, of which he was one, were especially untouchable.

It was essentially male, white conservative privilege being protected here. She also said that in universities all over the OECD women were leaving men in their wake when selection was on merit.

First time I’ve heard a serious claim that women are smarter than men. She might be right!

Nussbaum said that if Kavanaugh went down, the replacement candidate would certainly be worse.

There is a longer and more complex discussion of the drinking issue at The Atlantic.

2. Fat rich banks not “unquestionably strong”

In late 2014, the David Murray-led Financial System Inquiry recommended Australia’s banks maintain “unquestionably strong” status by sitting within the top quartile of their international peers in terms of capital strength.

Now a Standard and Poor’s rating survey of the world’s top 100 banks has found them unquestionably mediocre:

    last year [Australia’s banks] experienced among the “steepest declines” in their risk adjusted capital, or RAC, relative to other major global lenders, pushing them into the bottom half of the global rankings.

They now sit between the 40th and 50th percentile.

Other banks have been improving while ours have been declining, and it is basically our fault. Household debt keeps going up, and house prices are looking shaky. Our banks have among the least diverse loan books in the world, because our economy is not very diverse.

We’ll have to wear it or the banks will have to raise billions more capital, which will make them less profitable.

Just the way it is.

This graph shows roughly where we are at:

3. Humans a pestilence upon the earth?

Wikipedia describes a megacity as a metropolitan population in excess of 10 million people.. Definitions and counting are difficult – Wikipedia has 47 of them.

ABC RN’s Rear Vision program had a session with four international experts on megacities. One of them said there are 37 at present, but importantly 29 of these are in ‘the global south’, just eight in advanced economies. There was little chance, they said, of poor countries being able to build the infrastructure to make them work.

People are buying cars everywhere, even if they can’t afford them. The reason is simple. Most jobs are not in the city centre, and they need cars to get to work.

Tokyo is tops on about 38 million. There the Japanese government had consistently favoured Tokyo over other cities. They reasoned that there were economies of scale in going big, plus advantages in clustering industries. Their big problem now is that with a national population of 137 million and a reproduction rate of 1.42 per female, the population could be as small as 50 million by 2010.

Overall the prospect was that by 2100 some 80 to 90% of people would live in cities.

Robyn Williams interviewed Martin Rees in the Science Show this week, who has jotted down a few thoughts in his latest book On the Future, Prospects for Humanity. He warned that the problem of inequality had to be addressed by the human race. By the end of this century there would be 450 million people in Europe and 4.5 billion in Africa. Immigration is going to be more than problematic if Africa remains poor.

Then we should have a thought for all creatures great and small. Michael le Page reports in the New Scientist:

    If we want to avoid mass extinctions and preserve the ecosystems all plants and animals depend on, governments should protect a third of the oceans and land by 2030 and half by 2050, with a focus on areas of high biodiversity.

That’s what leading biologists are telling us. Right now just 3.6 per cent of the planet’s oceans and 14.7 per cent of the land is protected by law.

4. A new low for Trump

Trump reached a new low by mocking the testimony Christine Blasey Ford at a rally in Mississippi. I believe someone in the media intercut his questions with her answers, but it is impossible to make him look foolish. He’s beyond mockery.

I’ve started reading Nancy Isenberg’s White Trash: the 400-year untold history of class in America. The book lobbed into the last presidential campaign in 2016, but the paperback edition has a long preface post Trump’s election.

Isenberg says there is always a large performative dimension to American politics, which, in general, is based on emotion rather than a deliberative consideration of ideas. There has been no shortage of thoroughly unpleasant characters in American politics over the last 200 years, from Andrew Jackson on. The Trump phenomenon has antecedents.

Class divisions are complex, but always a factor. Fundamentally people are not considered as of equal worth. If you start at the bottom and don’t pull yourself up by the bootstraps, either you are yourself to blame, or are defective. American exceptionalism, the idea that America has a God-given mission to lead the world to a better place, involves fundamental othering. However, in domestic politics it comes down to defeating utterly those you hate and fear.

Not sure I’ve got it exactly, but that’s the general idea. She talks of American democracy as not yet properly formed, perhaps stuck in the birth canal. What it comes down to is that all citizens may be free but are not considered of equal worth, which makes infertile ground for democracy.

5. Wentworth in play

Two weeks is a long time in politics, but a poll done two weeks out (see Wentworth byelection: Liberal vote collapses as poll shows safe seat now a close contest) shows ‘independent’ Kerryn Phelps made a blunder when she decided to preference the Liberals.

    The poll also revealed that as many as 52% of people said high-profile independent candidate Kerryn Phelps’ decision to preference the Liberals made it less likely they would give her their vote. That included 50% of Phelps’ own supporters.

Here are the primaries:

Phelps has done herself enough damage to almost certainly lob in third place with Greens preferences largely flowing to Labor. She could have left preferencing up to voters if she wanted to appear independent. What she did made her look like a shadow Liberal.

However, single seat polls don’t have a good record, so we’ll see how it turns out. The poll has Dave Sharma winning a close one 51-49, but Tim Murray has an outside chance of doing the unthinkable.

142 thoughts on “Weekly salon 7/10”

  1. Nice roundup Brian.
    There are so many holes that I don’t know where to start.
    If some else could start the ball rolling in a more specific way, that’d be great.

  2. Americans don’t like being told how they could improve their democracy, but let me make a few suggestions.

    1. The biggest blight is how elections have been run by state governments, and so much effort is put in to prevent their opponents from exercising their right to vote. It should not be too hard to see that they should have something like the Australian Electoral Commission. However, the place is so f****d that appointing an ‘independent’ commission would itself become a political battleground.

    2. Have POTUS elected by direct vote rather than the electoral college, with preferential voting, so that they don’t get spoilers like Ralph Nader and Ross Perot effectively deciding the outcome.

    3. Make appointment of judges to the Supreme Court require a minimum of 60 of the 100 senate votes. That would concentrate the mind in selecting truly independent appointees.

    That will do for starters.

  3. 4. Mandate a retirement age of 70 or 65 for Supreme Court justices.

    5. Have voters make marks in pencil on paper ballots rather than electronic voting or them darned “hanging chad” machines.

    6. Reform the primaries process to lessen the likelihood of personal wealth being a key ingredient of success.

    Any others, Mr J?

  4. On Brian’s 2nd point, the Electoral College was established to prevent outcomes like Trump.
    My historian friend has often said the US system was set up to be unworkable (whether consciously or not is a moot point) and from what I can see it now bears little resemblance to a democracy.
    But it’s not my circus, not my monkeys.

  5. Electoral College was established to prevent outcomes like Trump.

    Yes, it was so people of standing in each state could make sure that the voters did not make a mistake. However, by tradition the norm has become established that the voters will shall prevail.

    But the notion that the winner takes all in each state is then still fundamentally undemocratic.

  6. But the notion that the winner takes all in each state is then still fundamentally undemocratic.


  7. Let’s not pretend to favour democracy when we can’t even get per capita distribution of GST sorted in this Country, or tax’s for that matter, redistribution is fundamentally undemocratic .

    Such consternation about the US system when most of us know nothing about how our Justices are appointed, leave alone the Chief Justice which are almost totally arbitrary.

    Don’t worry, even if US President Donald J Trump somehow gets 7 SCOTUS nominees up, women will still be able to murder unborn Sons and Daughters in Australia.

  8. Zoot

    As Brett said to Mark.

    And you know this how ?
    Is that your sworn testimony of events 36 years ago when you, according to “ she that that must be believed “ were not present?

    Careful now, we’re always under oath personally.

  9. Jeez Jumpy, you’re a sensitive little flower today. Whatever happened to robust discussion – is it that time of the month?

  10. Haha, “ no it’s not “.
    Care to elaborate?
    I mean sure, if 50% +1 vote for stealing then we’re all stuffed but I’d love to hear you explain.

    Venezuela experience?

  11. – is it that time of the month?

    Never trust a self described feminist folks, they’re the most sexist among us.

    It true.

  12. Care to elaborate?

    Democracy is “the will of the people”.
    If the will of the people is to pay for the infrastructure and safety of their community by taxation it is ipso facto democracy.
    I realise that your favoured method of paying for the roads, hospitals, schools, police and armed forces is anything but taxation but yours is a minority opinion.
    And I know it is different on your planet, but here, without redistribution all of the wealth would end up in too few hands and the economy would grind to a halt (since an economy can only function if money changes hands – a concept you have never grasped).
    Finally, democracy is not a vote of 50%+1
    Now go away you tiresome little man.

  13. Finally, democracy is not a vote of 50%+1
    Now go away you tiresome little man.

    Anyone want to take zoot on on the first part ?

    I’ll decline his second demand but concede tiresome and little, that’s probably true depending on who is asked.

    Being fair minded is my goal always.

  14. I’d also like to say that indeed the economy functions with money changing hands but I’d prefer it be a voluntary exchange rather than forced.
    As Thomas Sowell puts it “ Economics is the study of the use of scarce resources which have alternative uses“
    If you can think zoot, think on that.

  15. One of the earliest acts of redistribution is recorded in a very early section of the Holy Bible.

    The Almighty removed a rib from Adam, to fashion for him a companion: Eve.

    I, for one, applaud that act.

    (Not that my opinion is of any importance.)

  16. Adam no doubt had believed that his rib had a perfectly reasonable use, as part of his chesty substances.

    At that stage, human ribs were a very scarce resource and nobody had thought of an alternative use for them.

    What say you, Thomas Sowell?

  17. A key thing that is missing in the US system has been compulsory voting. Without compulsory it was possible to use a series of Jim crow laws that effectively prevented Afro Americans voting for a long time. It also makes the “why bother voting” argument more convincing.
    Instant run-offs (a defacto form of preference voting) is starting to appear in parts of the US. So there is hope. The Democrats must be getting sick of losing presidential elections where they got a majority of the overall vote. Trump and George W both got elected despite getting less votes that the Democrats.
    The US seems due for a serious discussion of how elections work.

  18. Brian

    Occasionally we hear the argument that Aussie banks owe a debt (!) to the society that has guaranteed their survival, both during the GFC [the Great Financial Chicken] and before.

    I believe this has been raised during the Royal Commission.
    A cynic might surmise, “why should Aussie banks attend to their risk adjusted capital ratios, when they get a Govt guarantee anyway?”

    Cynics, eh?
    Poltroons to a man!

  19. zoot, that Bill Maher segment was v good value!


    A cynic might surmise, “why should Aussie banks attend to their risk adjusted capital ratios, when they get a Govt guarantee anyway?”

    The Rudd Govet did guarantee the big banks during the GFC. However, after the Murray review the policy has been for them to beef up their reserves to look after themselves. As a shareholder this seemed to me unnecessary, because the big banks are too big to fail, there is a very small risk of them doing so, the govt would always back them, it costs the govt nothing, so what’s the problem?

    The problem is that the rating agencies want them to do it by themselves, because they don’t trust govts of any stripe, so they are downgraded, increasing their cost of money.

    So the banks have to raise more capital, have being doing so since 2015, and will have to do more for the next three years.

    This means they have more capital to service, which costs them more money.

    I think I’ve got that right!

    None of this has anything to do with the bad behaviour we have been hearing about at the royal commission recently. Much of this comes from the reward structure for lower level staff to sell stuff like insurance, which was set up at higher levels. The senior bank staff seem to be as surprised as anyone by what went on, but they would have signed of on reward structure the encourage bad behaviour.

    I think banks should stick to banking and divest insurance, which some are now doing. Possibly ditto for wealth management. In the latter case I have limited sympathy for victims who seems to be happy to put all eggs in one basket and be remarkably incurious about what they were actually doing.

    Another cause of complaint is foreclosing on farms and businesses with debt where a little patience would reward both sides. here we need bankers with more understanding of customers view of the world, which can be problematic. Banks aren’t charities. However, it seems bank decisions are often rule-based and arbitrary, and not actually in the bank’s best interest, let alone the customer.

    I think to fix the problem we don’t just need to beef up the regulators, who seem to be subject to industry capture. I think we should have an ongoing body with RC powers, like a banking ICAC, with a grumpy old judge type in charge, complemented and assisted by a mild-mannered assassin, as we have now. That would keep them all straight.

    End of sermon.

  20. Meanwhile former Liberal leader John Hewson incites Wentworth voters to savage the Liberal candidate over “climate inaction”.

    And former Liberal deputy leader Peter Costello points out that making a promise of action two or three Parliamentary terms away, is meaningless and silly. He claims that the Morrison and Turnbull governments have both lacked an economic plan (and “narrative” as current terminology would have it).

    Did the voters in Wentworth strongly support their former MP because he seemed to wish renewable energy to prosper? Soon we shall find out.

  21. Strange week it’s been.

    China arrests the head of Interpol, who is a Chinese national.

    A dissident Saudi journalist, Mr Khashoggi, disappears in Istanbul, with the Turkish Govt claiming he was murdered inside the Saudi consulate.

    (In the good old days, “Khashoggi” was just the world infamous name of an international arms dealer, IIRC.)

  22. Mr A
    Do you have Costello’s statements handy ?
    From the horses mouth obviously, there’s a lot of misquoting in the media of late.

    Thanks in advance,

  23. I recon Peter Costello has still got a term or two as PM in him.
    He’s 11 years younger than US President Donald J Trump and 16 years younger than Bernie Sanders.

  24. Mr J

    I think Peter Costello is quoted briefly in the online versions of the SMH and The Age. The story appeared late this afternoon. The headline quotes him calling the Govt “weird”.

    (Personally, I wouldn’t rate Bernie highly.
    His advanced age was one of his handicaps as a candidate, I thought.)

  25. I didn’t hear Mr Costello speak.
    I can only rely on the Fairfax reporters and sub-editors.
    Don’t get around much any more.

  26. I can only rely on the Fairfax reporters and sub-editors.

    Hmm..that might be a problem right there…..

  27. I recon Peter Costello has still got a term or two as PM in him.

    Only if he grows a spine.
    And even then I think he’d make Turnbull look competent.

  28. Well, look Jumpy.

    I can’t be flitting around the countryside listening to speeches by former politicians, and reporting them verbatim here, just because you don’t trust a particular group of journalists.

    Fair suck of the sauce bottle, pal.

    Ambi the sedentary.

  29. Mr A
    Well look, I can’t be expected to look at anything uncritically just because someone else does.
    My non trust is not limited to any group of “ journalists “, or any “ journalists “ in particular.

    You listen too, believe and comment about who and what you want as far as I’m concerned ( although Australians don’t even have a legal right to do that unlike Americans ), no problemo Buddy.

    [ anyone that sucks the sauce bottle is a hygienic vandal, it’s neither fair nor considerate toward kindred sauce consumers. Don’t do that please arsehole !! ]

  30. Oh
    Don’t you have your own personal sauce bottle?
    I always insist that the first duty of my manservant is to ensure my sauce supply is up-to-date.

    I didn’t look at Mr Costello’s comments uncritically. However I was in no position to judge the accuracy of the report of his remarks, since, as I stated, I wasn’t present when he made his speech.

    If another news source had reported the speech, a comparison of the accounts could be made. It wasn’t important enough to bother doing.

    Generally I find it impossible to be uncritical of public figures and journalists.


  31. Mr A
    You said,

    And former Liberal deputy leader Peter Costello points out that making a promise of action two or three Parliamentary terms away, is meaningless and silly. He claims that the Morrison and Turnbull governments have both lacked an economic plan (and “narrative” as current terminology would have it).

    Look, I agree with the first and kind of the second but think ScoMo has got a far better grasp of our National macroeconomic situation.
    I just ask if you had the comments from the horses mouth, a simple “ no “ would have done. You didn’t have to be present, I’m sure there is video.

    As for the sucking of sauce bottles, we Australians culturally live as social being where sauce is a communal entity, sucking on it should be discouraged.
    You’d have to be from “ the big end of town “ to have a household where each individual could guarantee security for unsucked sauce bottles.

    Note to Kevin07, stop sucking.

  32. 1. Mr Costello is not a horse.
    2. I tend to read articles rather than seek video.
    3. Yes, I am aware that sauce is a socially shared substance; but are you sure “society” exists? Mrs Thatcher said there was no such thing.
    4. I don’t have it from her mouth, and Mrs Thatcher was also not a horse.
    5. I agree with Mr Costello that a promise for 2 or 3 terms in the future is not a fair dinkum promise. It’s like betting on sauce futures.
    6. Mr Costello never plucked up the courage to challenge Mr Howard.
    6.a When Mr Howard inadvertently retired from the House, Mr Costello still lacked the courage to stand.
    6.b Methinks he knew he would lose the contest.

    7. “Neoliberal economics is threatening the sauce industry.” Discuss.

  33. There is a bit too much tasteless sauce dribbling on the table at the moment.
    How about some keeping the top on the sauce bottle – particularly if you are using fish sauce to provide a certain atmosphere.

  34. 7. “Neoliberal economics is threatening the sauce industry.” Discuss.
    I disagree, neoliberal economics makes more sauces available, more verity and more satisfying to the population and that drives competition and lower prices of sauce.

    Let’s just sit back and think of if we socialised sauce manufacturing what bland expensive crap we’d not use.

    As for no2, I’m the opposite, that may be why you are fooled more often than I am, maybe.

  35. I don’t know about fish sauce but my favourite sauce is made out of Holbrooks Worcestershires.

  36. Mr Rudd used the phrase, “Fair shake of the sauce bottle.”

    Fine, Kevin07 stop shaking and sucking. Jumpy

  37. Jumpy

    I am fooled more often than you?
    I’ll take that as a comment.


    BTW Mr Costello spoke at a Melbourne Institute/ The Australian forum, perhaps News Corp. can supply you with the video you crave?

  38. Sir Jumpalot: You blew you case for knowing anything about the best economic system for producing sauces when you said:

    my favourite sauce is made out of Holbrooks Worcestershires.

  39. Yeah John, anyone that jokes a bit dis qualifies them of any economic credibility.

    A Capitalist, a socialist and a fence sitter walked into a Venezuelan bar……

  40. Yes, I agree with Gittins that it doesn’t make economic sense that big businesses shouldn’t also get the tax cut.
    Labour drew the line between business sizes for political not economic reasons.

  41. Yes, I agree with Gittins that it doesn’t make economic sense that big businesses shouldn’t also get the tax cut.

    Err, that’s not actually what he said, but it’s nice to hear you agree with an opinion in the Fairfax press.
    Do you also agree with him that calling the private sector productive and the public sector unproductive or even parasitic is delusional?

  42. Sir Jumpalot: Gittens thought that the tax cuts for small business is a con job and is unlikely to make much difference. What business needs is more money in the pockets of their customers and potential customers.

  43. Looks like we’ve degraded onto insulting moniker game play have we ?
    Ok Dr John Rabidsocialist,

    What business needs is more money in the pockets of their customers and potential customers.

    From where is best they get that money, the Government ?
    Let’s not forget that businesses are consumers too in this wonderful market system, the biggest purchasers in the Country.

    ( I’m happy to revert to self identified monikers whenever this childish fashion gets old )

  44. Zoot

    Do you also agree with him that calling the private sector productive and the public sector unproductive or even parasitic is delusional?

    I wouldn’t say delusional but there is some basis for that line of thinking.
    Unproductive private sector activities are short live whereas unproductive public sector activities can last for decades. The parasitic element goes without saying but there are both good and bad parasites.

    I hope that answers your question.

  45. “businesses are…. the biggest purchasers in the Country”

    – sounds like the type of misleading comparison Gittins was warning against. ??

  46. I hope that answers your question.

    No, it doesn’t (as usual).
    But don’t worry, I’ve given up trying to get a straight answer from you.

  47. Zoot
    I’ll just have to assume “ yes “ is the only answer you’ll accept.

    So you may as well stop asking me any more questions.
    I’m cool with that.

  48. Just as a point of information, I am ruled by Sol, the Sun.

    Got sick of waking too early, say 5am, so I put the clock forward. Persuaded my friends to do the same. In fact we all coordinate to avoid confusion. And luckily, the whole State then follows suit.

    The Power of One.

    It’s remarkable what one modest toiler can do.
    (And always, with it, the Most Humble Human Alive.)

  49. Jumpy

    Point of information.
    From southern parts.
    Victorious Victoria, bless you Ma’am.

    I am ruled by Sol, the Sun.

    Became sick and tired of waking at, say, 5 am or 5.30am.

    So I put my clock forward and persuaded friends to do likewise, to avoid confusion. Very soon thereafter the whole State followed suit.* Most convenient. Happy to wake at 6.30am.

    The Power of One.

    An Idea Whose Time Had Come.

    A Man of Influence.
    (And also the Most Modest Chap in The World.)

    * read carefully: it doesn’t say “followed zoot”.

  50. Sir Jumpalot: Would have thought someone who calls himself jumpy would have been flattered by ” jumpalot.” On the other hand you are consistently in favour of reducing customer purchasing power.

  51. John, if memory serves, jumpy originally was “jump in m’car” or similar.

    I shortened it to “Jumpy” which in Australian language usage is an affectionate shortening. Jumpy seemed to like it and adopted it.

    “Sir Jumpalot” is an extension, which is perhaps fractures the egalitarian ethos we lay claim to and hence may not be welcome.

  52. Comrade John Delirium.

    On the other hand you are consistently in favour of reducing customer purchasing power.

    No, you’re making things up.
    I’m consistently in favour of lower taxes for everyone which boosts customers purchasing power.

    You are consistently in favour of boosting politicians and bureaucrats purchasing power.

  53. Jumpalot itself has distant connotations of “heffalump” (for elephant, see “Christopher Robin”).

    I would have thought that someone keen on persuading a lady to

    jump in m’car

    would be more than happy to have it happen repeatedly [a lot]?
    Such is the stuff of sweet, romantic legends.

  54. And if there’s one thing we have noticed about Jumps, it is this: he is a Legendary Romantic.

    Why, the things Yeoman Jump believes about economics would make Lord Byron swoon!

  55. Dear me, our freedom of speech is being severely curtailed with regard to Jumpy terminology.
    I demand a Bill of Rights immediately!

  56. Perhaps, I don’t know what Lord Byron believed.
    I’m just content in not having Marxists swoon because Marxist economics doesn’t work and creates misery.
    And to some tiny degree I succeed in that.

    On the moniker thing, I prefer Brian’s clean, common courtesy method but will oblige folk playing silly buggers in the manner of my choosing dependent on my perception of the silly buggers motivations, which can get messy, but I won’t instigate such silliness.

  57. Well, for myself, J, I reckon Karl Marx was onto a few deficiencies of 19th century capitalism, but capitalism and technology and agriculture and politics have all changed enormously since 1848.

    “Surplus value” has always existed.
    In ancient tyrannies (we might babble on about Babylon) it was exacted and used by mighty emperors and their armies.
    In Roman times by mighty emperors, their armies and landed “noble” families.
    In ancient China by mighty emperors and their armies and feudal lords and their armies with a bureaucracy or meritocracy underpinning a basically slave system.

    In medieval times, feudal lords and mighty kings or emperors stole the surplus value from peasants and toilers.

    Marx pointed out that factory workers and agricultural labourers were not receiving the full fruits of their labours. The “surplus value” was retained by factory owners and farm landlords. Other economists before him had noticed that also.

    So what was fair? What was a fair return on capital? Unions sprang up in many countries. Socialist and social democratic parties called for a fairer suck of the social sauce bottle, if I may put it very unhygienically.

    Another century of turmoil.
    Unions rising and falling.
    The Bolshevik coup in Russia.
    Hitler’s tyranny in Europe, with understudy roles assigned to Franco and Mussolini, Tojo.
    Millions of deaths in Mao’s China.

    India remaining a democracy after independence.
    The withdrawal of European colonial rulers from Africa and Asia.
    Ruthless despotisms in the name of socialism in Cambodia, Venezuela; bloody insurgencies in Central America, Peru, Nepal, …..

    Marx has more blood on his hands than Adam Smith, Keynes or any other “writer on economics and society”.

    Personally, being somewhat empirical in my outlook, I’m sceptical of anything regarding itself as “Marxist economics”. The results are there to be seen: starvation, tyranny, backward and polluting factories, servitude. And the “surplus value”, time and again, exacted and spent or accumulated by a Party Elite. With a cold disregard for the lives of the downtrodden and oppressed toilers in whose name the Elite pretends to rule.

    OK, that’ll do from me.
    Only my opinion of course.
    J and others, you are free to disagree, and to set out your arguments and observations.


  58. Pretty much agree with all that Mr A.
    Except the “ surplus value “ bit perhaps. I’d like to pursue what that mean with you. To me, at this stage in my understanding is “ surplus value “ is what both entities in a transaction get.
    The “ value “ of anything is individually arbitrary, if 2 individuals voluntarily agree to trade then both must see ( again, arbitrary) surplus value or they wouldn’t trade.

  59. JAL:

    if 2 individuals voluntarily agree to trade then both must see ( again, arbitrary) surplus value or they wouldn’t trade.

    Trading will be distorted by relative bargaining power. A starving person won’t have much power when trading with a food seller who doesn’t have to make a sale.

  60. John, you’re wasting your time. As our beloved grumpy, trumpy Jumpy has demonstrated on numerous occasions, he is impervious to logic or real world examples.
    He much prefers his faith based Randian fantasy world.

    [Ahh, the joys of free speech]

  61. On Newspoll, One Nation remains on 6%, everyone else has shifted one point. The LNP goes up one point to 37, ‘Others’ comes down one to 8.

    On the left, Labor comes down one to 38, whereas the Greens move from 10 to 11.

    I can’t see much for the LNP to cheer about, except they may have stopped going down the crapper.

    On the personal rating stuff, which the people who know say is irrelevant, ScoMo is in positive territory at net +7, whereas Turnbull had typically been a bit negative. Shorten hasn’t changed all that much, being -16.

  62. John Davidson

    Trading will be distorted by relative bargaining power. A starving person won’t have much power when trading with a food seller who doesn’t have to make a sale.

    It’s also logical that the bargaining power can rest with the purchaser.
    A real world example would be a starving vendor unable to sell enough to buy food despite an ample amount of well off potential customers.

    And I’ll ignore zoot. If mature exchange of ideas conversations were porno productions he’d be a fluffer due to not having the required attributes to perform, but only support some participants with..erm …encouragement.

    Free speech is grand indeed.

  63. Good grief!!!
    Jumpy is expecting us to take seriously the leftwing ABC, the well known basher of conservatives, so biased to the left that you can’t believe a word they publish.
    Tell me it isn’t so.

  64. Perhaps the ABC shakeup has spooked the chicken into temporarily adding a non-pro ALP analysis into one corner of their vast empire.

    Btw, it’s cute you keep up your record of being first to follow my comments, any time day, with inane guff.
    I like predictability.

  65. JAL: You are quite right. Bargaining power can lie with vendor or customer depending on circumstances.
    If the customer has no money to spend on the vendor’s product neither side has bargaining power. Ditto if the vendor has run out of product. Also keep in mind that perceived power can often be more important than anything tangible.

  66. These are strange times indeed.

    Because Jumpy wrote two days ago:

    Except the “ surplus value “ bit perhaps. I’d like to pursue what that mean with you.

    I now find myself in the unexpected role of offering Jumpy some background information on Marxian economics of all things.

    Jumpy, here are a few lines from an online encyclopedia
    mentioning that Karl Marx agreed with David Ricardo’s “labour theory of value”.

    For a short account of the life and ideas of David Ricardo (1772 – 1823) you might read this piece


  67. Granted, he was writing a long time ago, but the statement that Mr Ricardo believed that

    “wages perforce remained near the subsistence level”

    indicates one major flaw in his economics.

    Of course, unions and social democratic parties had a role in helping to lift wages. Quite likely some factory owners could see an advantage in lowering the rate of premature death amongst their employees, too.

  68. Yes John Davidson, perceived power can be a factor in a transaction, and no vendor can legally threaten and carry through violent apprehension and incarceration for freely choosing to or not, except Government.

    Free market Capitalists prefer both parties to be without deficit of bargaining power, then the market value will more likely be closer to optimal.
    And the ongoing effects of that should be obvious, if it’s not please ask.

  69. Mr A, I’m not interested in discussing what “ surplus value “ means with links.
    I prefer chatting with you on what’s in your brain.

  70. I’ve been listening to a bit of Parliaments today, just want to ask the commentators on CP, is it ok to be white ?

  71. BilB, I don’t think either of us want a battle of youtube captured individuals being dickhead racists, there’s too muck ammunition from every angle.

    Ask again, “ is it ok to be white ? “

    It’s the epitome of a yes or no question, no nuance necessary.

  72. The problem with “Is it OK to be White?” is the company it keeps.
    However, this doesn’t mean that sometimes it isn’t inappropriate to ask oneself “Is it OK being me?”
    Sometimes when you think about it you will find some of the things you are are a bit gross and do need changing. Sometimes asking “Is it OK to be me?” can help develop the resilience to deal with those who think it is OK to attack you just because you are a grumpy old white straight man with a mind of his own.
    Perhaps it is even more important to ask whether “Is it OK for you to be you?” It helps to think of people as X the person and take little notice of the labels people use to avoid the effort of thinking.
    In answer to JAL’s question I would have to say I would be more OK with a skin colour more suited to where I live.

  73. John, the point about where you live is a good one.

    I had heard that our white skin came from interbreeding with the Neanderthals. The New Scientist says definitely not .

    That article gives the story, but if ity’s pay-walled have a look at How Europeans evolved white skin . Seems that it’s a genetic adaptation to climate in higher latitudes, but only dates from about 8,000 years ago.

    Thereafter the story is complex, but a fair skin adaptation came with the Yamnaya herders from the steppes north of the Black Sea who brought Indo-European languages to Europe from about about 4500 years ago.

    Quite simply, you may have trouble getting enough vitamin D with a black skin in high latitudes.

    And it’s not OK for fair-skinned people to go out in the midday sun in the tropics without slip-slop-slap.

    Jumpy, the real question to ask is whether it’s OK to be human. Once you’ve answered that, questions of colour are redundant.

  74. Oh I see, Jumpy.

    I misunderstood. Thought you wanted to know what Karl Marx meant by “surplus value”.

    Finding out what’s in my head is not a fruitful path to follow, on that topic, I think, given that I am neither a
    1. Marxist, nor
    2. an economist.

    Let me just say again, that “surplus value” (value of goods produced, over and above wages paid and raw materials bought), which some would call “profit”, has always existed.

    Companies use the surplus to pay dividends, taxes, invest in better machinery, buy up competing firms, etc.

    We all know the general outline.

    Marx suggested that the downtrodden proletariat simply seize the surplus from the capitalist tyrants. He took a dim view of capitalists.

    I feel that his militant, seizure-of-power tactics sowed the seeds of the Bolshevik coup, and inspired any number of bloodthirsty and conspiratorial (hence anti-democratic) outfits thereafter.

    Unfortunately Marx believed the tide of history was on the side of insurgent worker revolutionaries. Having History On Our Side is not much better than a militant, armed religious group which has God On Our Side, or indeed Allah.

    Mayhem, confusion, warfare including civil wars, economic stagnation, etc. etc.

    Although Marx is hailed by some as a founder of social sciences, my view of his work is that he made several errors in his analysis, some of which led directly to murderous actions by folk who deemed him their inspiration.

    Bah, humbug!!

    {It might be best not to enquire what is in my mind, Jumpy.
    Quite clearly, it’s a horrid mess.}

  75. Brian

    Jumpy, the real question to ask is whether it’s OK to be human. Once you’ve answered that, questions of colour are redundant.

    Yep, just like “ do all lives matter ? “, that’s the questions answered by Libertarians in the positive.
    And it is ok to be white, obviously.
    Unfortunately labour, green and eventually the coalition vote against that proposition.

  76. Jumpy: At various times people have wanted to say things that imply that it is not OK to be black, brown white, male, female, gay barrack for NSW etc. Some times it is banter but too often it is seriously about hurting and putting people down.
    Sometimes these put downs come in the form of “It is OK to be ….” with the implied message that it is not OK to be someone outside this group. Whether you like it or not “It is OK to be white” came from and is being pushed by a group of serious nasties.
    Shame Pauline’s motion wasn’t amended to Brian’s “It is OK to be human.” Would have sent a stronger message than just voting against.

  77. And it is ok to be white, obviously.
    Unfortunately labour, green and eventually the coalition vote against that proposition.

    Now you’re just being disingenuous.
    (Or are you truly that stupid?)

  78. John

    Whether you like it or not “It is OK to be white” came from and is being pushed by a group of serious nasties.

    I could name many, many statements from Mao, Stalin, Chavez, Pol pot, Hitler.. etc that if said by your good self wouldn’t necessarily link you to them, and there may be quite a few.

    The statement “ it’s OK to be white “, spoken by any speaker is morally just. It’s the opposite of racism. Whatever else they say don’t alter that.

  79. I could name many, many statements from Mao, Stalin, Chavez, Pol pot, Hitler.. etc that if said by your good self wouldn’t necessarily link you to them, and there may be quite a few.

    Examples please, otherwise you are just bloviating.

  80. Yes fluffer, I’m bloviating, really, really bloviating. Please ignore everything I say.

    I’m a bloviating stupid.

  81. Dennis Atkins in the CM today said Pauline H was a carbuncle on the body politic and her main aim was to hoover up public money on a personal level.

    He’s probably right.

    The whole thing was an attention-grabbing stunt, thought up by James Ashby, who is also making a living out of her. I don’t know enough about parliamentary procedure, but there should have been a vote to stop the motion being put. It’s not what we pay our politicians to spend their time on.

  82. Ambi, on Marx being the founder of the social sciences, that is a broad category, which could include Sociology, Psychology, Economics, Anthropology, Geography, Linguistics, Political Science and more.

    I don’t think Marx gets the gong on any of them. His claim is perhaps strongest in sociology, but then you’ve got Auguste Comte who is “sometimes regarded as the first philosopher of science in the modern sense of the term” and who influenced social thinkers such as Karl Marx, John Stuart Mill, and George Eliot.

    If it’s sociology as a discipline you’d need to think about Max Weber and Émile Durkheim also.

    I did a bit of Marx in studying the Philosophy of Education. When I found out that he had no concept of child development, and thought that people would change their personality just by changing how people related to the means of production I lost interest.

    However, Marx had an influence on later thinkers, but what they took from him was perhaps not what he intended.

  83. Yes, Brian.

    I meant sociology in particular. The argument was, that Marx investigated structural features of capitalism.

    Interesting that you observed a large gap in his view of education. Unfortunately, I think that his adoption by powerful, “revolutionary” governments, has led to an amplification of his reputation, way beyond the intellectual content of his writings.

    On the other hand, a pragmatist might say, “Any fellow who has had millions of fervent followers, must be paid due attention”. If so, add Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, Gandhi, Churchill, and the Polish Pope Karol Wotila to the list.

    “Historical determinism” is one of Marx’s baleful legacies. He purported to detect “social forces”. As if society is a vast machine.

    Herr Marx, I knew Isaac Newton. You are no Isaac Newton.

  84. I could name many, many statements from Mao, Stalin, Chavez, Pol pot, Hitler.. etc that if said by your good self wouldn’t necessarily link you to them, and there may be quite a few.

    Jumpy, you are not in control of language. Meaning becomes attached to various phrases through the contexts in which they are used, which is then triggered by the phrase whether you like it or not.

    Just Google its origins – here are two pieces. It’s not some obscure quote from Mao, Stalin, Chavez etc. It’s current, and it’s nasty.

    The LNP pretending they didn’t know means that they and their staff live under a log.

    Ashby and Hansen knew exactly what they were doing.

  85. Ambi, when I was doing a bit of sociology in the 1970s and 80s there was a concept ‘internalisation of dominant class values’. It’s how many slaves accepted that slavery was ‘natural’ and is a factor in the place of women over the centuries.

    So many times when there was a revolution it didn’t produce equality, it produced a different mob in control as per George Orwell’s Animal Farm.

    For a 30 year-old, 30 years of life experience goes into producing a personality with habits baked in. Radical change in how people perceive and value that world, then act within it does not easily change.

    Marx did not appreciate this IMO, but people like Paulo Freire did in his program of ‘consciousness raising’ through teaching reading to non-literate adults. However, that was slow and resource intensive in terms of teaching personnel required in the process, hence not easily scalable.

  86. Reading has to be the first step.

    Anecdote Warning:
    An old Communist was reminiscing about his time working for a few years in South Africa, around 1940 – 5.
    He joined a small group of white people who were helping blacks with adult literacy classes. What about political discussion?

    “Well, you couldn’t really do that, at all. Learning to read had to come first.”

    Fair point.
    Fair decision.

    You do whatever you can to help, however small the improvement to folks’ lives and prospects.

  87. A wise woman that both of us know said over 50 yrs ago that women’s lib would only be achieved by arguing for people’s lib. Her argument was that both men and women at the time were sometimes damaged and restricted by the expectations placed upon and the world would be a better place. (For example, if couples felt free to decide who would be the primary income earner and who would do most of the looking after of the kids – Equal opportunities for women will meet more resistance as men are expected to be the primary earners.)
    I appreciate that the “Its OK to be white campaign.” was started by white supremacists who want to keep “others” oppressed. However, the strength of this campaign comes from the feeling of many poor white males that they are being treated poorly. For example, I have seen Aborigines and women say things about white males that would cause outrage if white males said something similar about women or Aborigines. I can also think of examples of new rules based on race and gender that advantage better off Aborigines or women compared with less better off people who don’t satisfy the race/gender requirements.
    “It is OK to be human” is a good response to “OK to be white” but the same standard re what people say should apply to everyone no matter what their race and gender are. Would also help if things like scholarships were based on things like location and wealth rather than race or gender.

  88. Jumpy

    I have to admit, there are things Stalin and Pol Pot said that I say.

    “Good morning”, for example. Though both my Khmer and Russian are zero.

    But a slogan is different.

    Some of us would tend to agree that “work can be liberating”. Yet we wouldn’t say
    Arbeit Macht Frei which has a similar meaning in German, after we had learnt that it was inscribed as a motto above the gates of a Nazi concentration camp. A place of forced labour (slavery), degradation and race-based murder.

    So, if someone were to point out to a decent Australian that a particular phrase or slogan is commonly used by neo-Nazis, would that decent Australian keep using the catch cry, do you suppose??

    I assume that the overwhelming majority of Australians abhor historical Nazi crimes as much as they abhor the crimes of Stalin’s Soviet Union and the butchery in Pol Pot’s Kampuchea.

  89. So now we’re adding to the stupidity of “ it’s not what is said but who is saying it that matters “ with “ or if nasty people back through history said it “

    Well, not me.
    If I’m asked “ is it ok to be white ? “ I’ll say YES.
    If lm ask “ do black lives matter “ I’ll say YES.
    If I’m asked “ is work be liberating ? “ I’ll say YES.

    Call me whatever names you will because of it.

  90. Jumpy, read again what I wrote: “a particular phrase or slogan is commonly used by Neo-Nazis”

    Neo-Nazis are contemporaries of us, not deceased persons of past history. And what was implied by the above, was that the phrase or slogan is used by the Neo-Nazis because of their Nazi like beliefs.

    It’s a marker of their disgusting worldview, not a common, everyday phrase like:

    Good morning
    Nice weather for it
    I’ll have a kilo of those apples please
    How’re you going, cobber?

    (The only name I’ll call you is Jumpy.
    Context is all.)

  91. Mr A
    “ The common good before the individual good “
    Would you agree with that ?

    It was said by Hitler and just about every destructive leader, and quite a few contemporary bad people.
    I’ve heard the like on this very blog but I won’t tar you with their brush.
    I can think it’s incorrect, and I do, but who says something doesn’t alter the literal meaning of the phrase.

  92. Mr J

    Here are some examples of catch cries

    Jobs and growth (M Turnbull)
    Working families (K Rudd)
    Make America Great Again (D Trump)
    You’ve never had it so good! (H MacMillan)

    Not suggesting these persons are neo-Nazis, antisemitic, murderous thugs.

    There’s a pungent saying:
    Hypocrisy is the tribute that Vice pays to Virtue.

    B*stards like Herr Hitler [ne Schickelgruber, why would you change that?], even Josef Djugashvili, Saloth Sar, all learned to spout hypocritically.


    I have a modest suggestion: they are trying to fool people.
    Only a Churchill can get away with promising “blood, sweat and tears” because he knows the voters recognise an emergency and wish to escape their common peril.

    Why, apparently even non-Jewish Britons opposed Herr Hitler. Fancy that! Where was self-interest??

  93. Mr A
    I’m not sure the folk currently saying “ it’s OK to be white “ ( which is correct to any non racist) are trying to fool people into believing something they themselves don’t believe.

    I’m not sure how many more irrational straws are going to be clutched at in condemning “ it’s OK to be white “ but do keep going, I’m not intending to go away anytime soon.

    [ I note that you avoided my question yesterday, that’s ok, you don’t have to, but it’s noted ]

  94. I indulged in a little thought game today, being, name the 3 most destructive leaders in the World on both far left and far right. Just to establish that is best to avoid.
    It’s a tough game.
    I couldn’t get a definitive 6.
    Anyone care to chance their arm ?

  95. Jumpy: I think the bible may have got it right when it said that original sin was “The knowledge of good and evil.” If you like judging others. Despite this original insight their are parts of the bible that try to lay out rules for everything and people like the pharisees whose obsession with forcing people to obey what they believe resulted in things like the Crucifixion.
    Think of Hitler. I suspect he really believed that the extermination of the Jews was a good thing. Think of the inquisition.
    Now think of those who you consider destructive leaders and ask whether part of the problem was that they believed that they were fighting for some good cause that was so important that “the end justified the means.”
    Does this help your search?

  96. That’s really the key, John.
    The idea that “the end justifies the means”.

    It covers just about every case, where “noble rhetoric” covers murderous reality.

    Jumpy, I didn’t answer your question, because if I could be bothered I am confident I could find any number of statements by Stalin or Chavez or Pol Pot which might sound fair.

    But leaders are usually judged more accurately by their actions than their words.**

    Example: the infamous Soviet Consitution under Stalin in the ’30s was full of gentle statements of justice and human rights. The reality in Stalin’s state was harshly different. The actions are judged. The fake Constitution was of no assistance to his victims, jailed or murdered or starved.

    On “the ends” and “the means”: Eric Hobsbawm was a Marxist historian, admired for his breadth of knowledge and writing style. He arrived in England as a young refugee in the ’30s and made an academic career. He was a Communist from his youth onwards.

    Towards the end of his life, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, he admitted in an interview that the Soviet system had not achieved the glorious dream of pure communism, but that if it had achieved the dream, then the tens of millions of deaths in the Soviet Union under Lenin and Stalin would have (retrospectively) been justified!!

    Many people were horrified by his statement. It is one of the starkest cases of someone attempting to justify deadly means, in the cause of ‘wonderful ends’ (results) that I’ve seen.

    Another: when Comrade Guevara was off on his frolic trying to establish a rebel movement in Bolivia, and his small group encountered resistance from local farmers and peasants, he wrote in his diary that he might have to apply “a little bit of terror” to persuade the locals to help him. Cold, brutal. Not at all the words of a “Christ-like” hero. Why wear his portrait on a t-shirt?

    ** Churchill is remembered for his speeches as well as his actions. People still quote JFK’s Inauguration Adress and Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech, and the Redfern Speech (Keating/Watson, authorship disputed). But we would mainly judge Winson C, JFK, MLK and PJK by their actions…. yes?

  97. I think all we’ve re-established how destructive collectivism can be. And that individuals ( well meaning or not ) can use group identity rhetoric as a far more potent weapon than using individualistic rhetoric.
    Collectivism looks to a the common denominator in every genocidal event I can think of.

    “ it’s OK to be white “ can fall into both collective and individual categories depending on how the listener prefers to process it.

  98. I’m willing to take up your challenge on listing the Worst of the Worst.

    IMO it can’t be judged solely on death toll. The “Spanish Flu” after WW1 carried away huge numbers of humans. Ditto plagues.

    But if some famines can be traced directly to political decisions (“death to the kulaks” in 1920s Ukraine, starvation in the Killing Fields of the Democratic People’s Glorious Republic of Wonderful Kampuchea = DPGRWK) then those death tolls have to be accounted for.

    Looking forward to other suggestions.

    BTW, my interest*, while ghoulish and unpleasant, is in trying to discern the early warning signs (if such exist) of any descent into barbarism…. with a view to stopping it in its tracks….. thus reducing the toll of misery.

    Human Misery doesn’t much care if it’s source is Left, Right, Capitalist or Collectivist.

    * or excuse, if you prefer

  99. Mr A.

    BTW, my interest*, while ghoulish and unpleasant, is in trying to discern the early warning signs (if such exist) of any descent into barbarism…. with a view to stopping it in its tracks….. thus reducing the toll of misery.

    Same here, we’re both starting from the same position, wonderful!

    One such sign is group identity, which is impossible to do away with because its human nature to want to “ belong “.
    Murderous episodes tend to start as a reaction to a perceived threat.

    Another common denominator looks to be blind trust in leaders that somehow fools people into doing extremely barbaric acts that they wouldn’t do without coercion from above.

    Let’s face it, we’d all like to think we’d be Oscar Schindler but realistically we’d just follow orders like everyone else.

  100. OK

    Some common ground there Mr J.

    By the way, would you classify the Nazi Party as “collectivist “?

    Blind obedience is a shocker. Perhaps that’s why the trial of Mr “I was only following orders” Eichmann in the early 60s was important?

  101. Ambi: Are we to judge Churchill by his inspiring “We will fight them on…..” speech (that may have blocked German victory) or the harsh conditions he argued should be imposed on Germany after WWI (which may have caused WWII) or his bombing of German cities? (which some would say these days was the act of a war criminal) Judging anyone by their acts or words is difficult and the judgement may change over time.

  102. Yes, John.
    You’re right about judgements changing, and assessing the whole life of a leader.

    On Winston Churchill~
    I imagine there were many European political leaders, more senior than Churchill at Versailles, who also wanted harsh penalties exacted on Germany.

    What was Churchill at that time? Famous journalist, son of a politician, junior Minister?

    It might be unfair to lay much blame on him for the Versailles terms, just because he rose to be PM later??

  103. Ambi: According to this link:

    Winston Churchill had a varied career during the First World War. At the outbreak of war in 1914, Churchill was serving as First Lord of the Admiralty. In 1915 he helped orchestrate the disastrous Dardanelles naval campaign and was also involved in the planning of the military landings on Gallipoli, both of which saw large losses.

    Following the failure of these campaigns, Churchill was demoted and resigned from government. He became an officer in the Army and served on the Western Front until early 1916.

    In 1917, under Prime Minister David Lloyd George’s coalition government, Churchill was appointed Minister of Munitions, a position he held until January 1919.

    In 1919, shortly after the end of the war, he was appointed Secretary of State for Air and War. In this role he attended peace talks in Paris in 1919. He was not involved in the peace process itself but took part in discussions about the shape of the post-war world. He held this position until 1921.

    He attended the peace conference as Secretary of State for Air and War and was not famous for having no opinions and sitting quietly saying nothing. However, I would have been amazed if he was a lone voice pushing for a hard line.
    The hard line theory was that crushing Germany would prevent another war.

  104. However, I would have been amazed if he was a lone voice pushing for a hard line.

    Apparently our own Billy Hughes was one of the loudest voices.

  105. I’m pretty old fashioned when it comes to declarations of War.
    All the chips go in and the winners carve up the spoils any way they see fit, all of it.

  106. Jumpy: Tribalist might be a better term. Captures the them and us that is a feature of wars that are not just a more legal form of piracy.
    Winners can decide what happens after a war. After WWII the winners did a whole lot of stuff aimed at getting the losers back into the civilized world. Think Marshal plan instead of demands for payments from the losers.

  107. John
    I recon the Allied Powers, after winning, should have just annexed the losers.
    Had the other side won, in both World Wars, that’s what they expected to eventuate. All or nothing.

    As for tribalism/ collectivism, tomato/tomato.

  108. John

    I agree that Winston wasn’t a chap who sat by saying nowt. I meant that he might not have wielded as much influence at the peace talks as, for example, some Presidents and PMs.

    If Versailles set the groundwork for Germany’s next round of bellicosity, there’s plenty of blame to be shared around. Now zoot has put a claim in (or is that ‘acclaim’?) for Billy Hughes.

  109. I think you’ll find Mr Hughes regarded himself as the PM of a sovereign state.

    By 1919 Australia was no longer a colony, IIRC.

  110. Jumpy:

    There’s a good chance Billy Hughes said whatever George V wanted via the GG.

    Unlike Menzies Billy Hughes was an opinionated little man who said what he thought was best for Australia loudly and often.

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