Weekly salon 30/6

1. How to win against narcisists

BilB sent me a link to a YouTube of an interview with Bill Eddy about the topic of his book Why We Elect Narcissists And Sociopaths – and How We Can Stop (summary here). The money bit for me was near the end, from about 12.47. Eddy says that the high emotion output of HCPs (high-conflict politicians) must be countered with an equal weight of information. The quantity is as important as the quality.

In other words, if you are in a shouting match, you have to shout.

I thought there were lessons from the last election. It is not for me to call Scott Morrison a narcissist, but he certainly used high emotion with a torrent of facts and figures, many of them misleading or downright wrong. ScoMo piled it on, and Bill Shorten was effectively overwhelmed.

Shorten and Labor thought it better to quietly keep talking about there own policies. In rugby league terms, their defence was threadbare and ScoMo ran through and over them. The defence needs to be robust, to put they opposition on their backs, and then skilful and planned attack is the best form of defence. Labor failed on both counts.

However, it is also important to fight the new election in three years time as a new event. ScMo looks and sounds the part as PM and is not going to be easy to dislodge.

2. Tax cut wars

Long lost is the fact that Labor was going to virtually double the tax refund offered immediately by the ScoMo government, and later provide lower taxes than the LNP for over 10 million low and medium income earners.

Now the question is whether Labor will support a tax cut tilted towards the high income earners, but to be implemented in five years time.

It is risible to suggest that making such tax cuts law now will do anything for the faltering economy. If anything it builds in risk.

Labor has come up a proposal for stages one and two to be passed immediately to help stimulate the economy. Jim Chalmers said:

    “The government should also bring forward to 2019-20 an infrastructure package and the increase in the $90,000 threshold to $120,000,” he said.

The cost of the tax cut would only be about half the forecast surplus.

The government, however, is determined to wedge Labor, and is probably succeeding. The government is winning on volume alone.

Katy Gallagher says Labor will wait and see what happens with the crossbench in the senate before deciding whether they will swing in behind the government in passing the legislation in the senate.

The government needs Cory Bernardi plus three. Centre Alliance will do cross deals on gas prices and such, without any means of enforcing them.

Dumb!

Bernadi will vote with the LNP, so if One Nation continues to oppose the tax cuts, that leaves Jacqui Lambie with the final call, and she won’t say until she gets to Canberra and gets some briefings.

A good illustration of how the new senate will work.

3. Building certification crisis

There are paywalled stories all over the Murdoch press. 7.30 Report focussed on Sydney’s Mascot Towers, the latest to be evacuated with structural flaws. A Canberra complex with 120 owners may have to cough up $75,000 each to get the building fixed. The federal government says it’s a state government responsibility.

As of tomorrow building certifiers may not be able to get insurance. Here’s chief executive of the Australian Institute of Building Surveyors Brett Mace saying if building surveyors are unable to get insurance because of the cladding crisis the construction industry will come to a halt.

It seems Master Builders Australia and real estate and construction leader EY disagree about the problem.

Su-Lin Tan and Michael Bleby at the AFR say Property Council of Australia are demanding that the federal government make regulatory changes.

The key seems to be the Shergold Weir ‘Building Confidence’ report which was commissioned by the Building Ministers’ Forum (‘BMF’), delivered in February 2018, and then not acted upon.

According to the AFR, Federal Minister Karen Andrews says the states rejected her offer for the federal government to fund a dedicated, national taskforce to work in conjunction with the states to implement the Shergold-Weir recommendations. They’ll have a further chin wag at their July meeting.

Meanwhile:

    Next Tuesday, the last insurer willing to issue professional indemnity policies free of cladding exclusions will exit Australia, leaving building certifiers and surveyors, as well as fire engineers and architects no way to renew their registration and abide by state requirements for unencumbered policies to protect them and their clients.

    NSW – encouraged to do so by the federal government – has stepped in to temporarily allow certifiers to keep practising without cover, which was the opposite of Victoria, which earlier in the week said it would underwrite professional indemnity for building industry consultants as a last resort.

What Queensland is doing, I don’t know, but people are definitely complaining.

Being old-fashioned, I suspect things went off the rails when building inspection was privatised.

I don’t know, but it doesn’t reflect well on our national competence.

4. Our American friends

Donald Trump reckons we’d be at war with North Korea now if they had a different POTUS. He’s probably right.

John Mearsheimer, professor of political science at the University of Chicago, and author of The Great Delusion: Liberal Dreams and International Realities told Tom Switzer that Australia would be forced to choose between the US and China. Whichever we chose we would be punished by the other.

Scott Morrison seemed to make a fair bit of sense, talking about this prior to the G20. I think the US and China are not stupid enough to close off relationships with each other, and as Laura Tingle pointed out on Insiders, we are far from alone in our position.

Meanwhile the Democrats are trying to sort out their field of 20 candidates. FiveThirtyEight looked at What Went Down On Night One Of The First Democratic Debates and Politics Podcast: Kamala Harris Won The Debate Narrative. What Comes Next?

Candidates were divided into two lots on a random basis. It turned out Elizabeth Warren was the only A-grader in the first lot. She shone in the first hour, then coasted, leaving several others to take advantage.

Next round the criteria for polling support and funds raised will be stiffened, so some will drop out. No bloopers, and no killer lines in this debate.

In the second debate, it seems Kamala Harris won. I’m not wishing Joe Biden well because he has too much baggage, and promises to return America to the Obama trajectory. No recognition of present realities and vision for the future.

I think Biden and Bernie Sanders will be seen as too old, strictly one-term prospects, and probably they are too old. In any case I suspect Bernie won’t win the middle.

We have no dog in the race, but IMO it matters.

73 thoughts on “Weekly salon 30/6”

  1. I agree that Bernie and Joe B are both too old.

    Will be interested to see if American ‘small-l liberals’, whom they term Liberals, will change course after the Obama Presidency/Hillary Secretaryship, Hillary loss, etc.

    Pres Trump appears much more active internationally than Pres Obama was. I still think it was foolish to award Pres Obama the Nobel Peace Prize so early. (Was it For Not Being George Bush??). In some ways, Barack Obama also ‘coasted along’, in international affairs.

    Yeah, OK, he did kill Osama with his bare hands, but apart from that….

  2. On building certifiers, up here every builder is shitting themselves.
    The industry that directly employs about 9-10% of Australia’s workforce will stop dead.

    A couple of issues from the big city booms ( commercial projects not domestic) out of thousands of projects could send us into recession hard.

    Look, architects and engineers tell us exactly with what to use and how.
    Local council approves those plans and ticks off after the certifiers establish it was done to AS and council rule.
    There are a plethora of differing standards to consider in government projects from DETE, BAS and Council Regs in many occasions at odds with one another.

    This should be sorted in the Application process between Council and Architects.
    It’ll be a tough Xmas for Tradies this year otherwise.

  3. Cladding…..
    why are the powers that be,
    appearing powerless to check and assure.

    Will it take even a mini-Grenfell, Lord forbid, to put some sense of urgency into the scene?

    Fire sprinklers on the outsides of buildings???

    ***
    In breaking news, the numbers of firms underpaying their casual and part-time employees has risen sharply, since the relevant Depts were starved of funds, the inspectors left the beat, and union membership dropped.

    Regulation?
    Can’t live with it.
    Can’t live without it.

  4. Jumpy, you are confirming my worst fears. Can’t believe we could just drift into this situation.

  5. Jumpy:

    On building certifiers, up here every builder is shitting themselves.

    I can imagine. No-one who doesn’t expect to die in the next few days would be willing to work as a a building inspector if they are exposed to enormous damages if they miss something. Especially keeping in mind that they will judged by a profession that has 20/20 hindsight and has been careful not to leave themselves exposed to professional indemnity claims. (If a judges decision is overturned on appeal it seems reasonable that the cost of the appeal be paid by the judge who made the original decision?)

  6. There was a smallish cladding fire, on an inner Melbourne apartment block after Grenfell. No large damage, but worrying.

    Luckily the water drays got there quickly and a bucket line was formed to pass a few gallons up to the fire.

  7. Brian

    Jumpy, you are confirming my worst fears. Can’t believe we could just drift into this situation.

    From the Shergold Weir report,

    Our goal is to enhance public trust through effective implementation of building and construction standards that protect the interests of those who own, work, live, or conduct their business in Australian buildings.

    They’re not ever going to achieve that with the media fear mongering about a few instances out of many thousands of brilliantly built projects every year.

    The cynical side of me sees the corporatist insurance giants wanting to hold one link in the vital construction industry to ransom in the hope that governments will throw taxpayer money at them to appease them. An attempt at rent seeking through governments.

    Happens all the time with them. I think the last “ insurance crisis!!! “ was doctors indemnity insurance.

  8. Brian/Jumpy: When I worked independently I got around the professional indemnity issue by insisting i was on the books as a casual for the duration of the job. If I hadn’t of done this just about all i had earned would have gone into paying prof indemnity. (People I knew who were doing similar work to what I did were paying over $200,000 p.a. back then.) Basic problem is that stuff ups in washery design could cost megabucks in lost profits while the problem was fixed.
    Dunno how much inspectors are paid but I could imagine that claims for some of the buildings that failed would be serious money and sorting out who should be held responsible can be quite challenging.
    Like it or not, we need inspectors and inspectors need protecting from claims that exceed a percentage of the fee paid.
    We should also think about the implication of inspector fees being paid and given future jobs by someone whose finances are affected by the inspectors decisions.

  9. John, I used to work for an engineer who was used as a consultant in sorting out big claims. I believe he worked on one involving the smelter at Gladstone. His going rate about 15 years ago was $500 per hour.

    Without doubt he saved them millions.

    Towards the end of his working life he wore himself out flying to Finland every two weeks or so.

  10. We need inspectors.
    That’s agreed, and simple to state.

    How to have them, without this kerfuffle?

    John, $200,000 is huge. To cover that would require high fees being charged.

    The last resort – court cases – leaves most out of pocket, possibly years of delays, and sometimes the only tidy sums go to the lawyers running or defending against the litigation.

    State -based inspectors can save money in the long run, Si?

    Should there be “a long run” when tenants/owners in Sydney are ordered to leave their apartments and find accommodation at their own expense, leaving tools of trade and their cars in the building??

  11. Reportedly 550,000 marched peacefully in Hong Kong on the anniversary of the Colony’s return to China. (Coincidentally on the 98th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party, too.)

    A direct challenge to Chairman Xi.
    But any action against the local, limited Parliament in HK is implicitly a challenge to the Chairman.

    Observers have noted that Xi is becoming harsher, centralising power in Beijing; some compare him to Mao in that regard.

    Apparently the PLA troops stay out of sight in barracks in HK.

    What has the Chinese Dictatorship Government learnt from its Beijing Massacre? How will it avoid the HK turmoil affecting young minds in the RRC?
    (Rulers’ Republic of China)

    Oh, yes: there’s this too….
    A small group of demonstrators smashed their way into the Legislative Council chambers, decorated it with anti-Beijing graffiti, and raised the Colinial flag as a provocation.
    Since our media loves violence above all else, expect blanket coverage here.

  12. For some balance:

    Apparently 150,000 HK persons marched in support of the HK government.

  13. Mr A,

    State -based inspectors can save money in the long run, Si?

    No it won’t.
    As I said above,

    The cynical side of me sees the corporatist insurance giants wanting to hold one link in the vital construction industry to ransom in the hope that governments will throw taxpayer money at them to appease them. An attempt at rent seeking through governments.

    Then they ratchet it up with no resistance.
    It will become more expensive.

    Similar to what big pharma do once their product gets listed on the PBS.

  14. Thanks.

    BTW Jumpy:
    I don’t believe most Aussies will regard all builders and developers as shonky, because of the (well publicised) poor work of the few.

    We’re smarter than that.

    But insurance is a way of spreading the cost across a wider spread of persons. As in fire insurance: only a tiny percentage of houses burn down, thank Gaia; most owners insure; those few burnt out are recompensed for what is likely the largest (financial) disaster of their lives.

    I don’t mind if part of our premiums get paid out to those owners; and clearly as a home owner I have a selfish reason to participate in the insurance scam insurance pool.

  15. Similar to what big pharma do once their product gets listed on the PBS.

    Ummm … you sure? Big pharma want to dispense with the PBS because it prevents them behaving the way you describe. They want to replace it with the relatively unregulated US system which does allow them to ratchet up their profits with no resistance.

  16. Mr A
    I’m all in favour of insurance, as discriminatory as it is, but not when they pull this corporatist rent seeking ransom blackmail crap, it’s anti free market and anti capitalist.

  17. Not sure what you mean by this corporatist rent seeking ransom blackmail crap.

    Which companies or groups are holding whom, to ransom?

    @@@

    Not relevant to building safety etc., but I think the PBS does more good than harm. On balance, all things considered.

    Is it anti-capitalist? In what way? The pharmaceutical corporations and local pharmacies are mostly privately owned, Si?

  18. AMBI:

    State -based inspectors can save money in the long run, Si?

    The challenge is to provide people and companies with some protection when a builder or whatever stuffs up or can be “determined” to have stuffed up by the legal system. Not sure that state inspectors would solve this problem, particularly if the government limits the size of claims or demands very high levels of proof so that they can afford tax cuts for their rich mates.

  19. Further to my comment re big pharma and the PBS, I stumbled across this article on the current situation in the USA.
    (Anyone else remember the threat the TPP posed to our PBS?)

  20. Back on the US election, Biden plummets, Harris vaults to second in major poll.

    On the CNN/SRSS poll Kamala Harris came in at 17, and Biden fell 10 points to 22. Warren is on 15, just ahead of Sanders who was was down 4 to 14. Then you have to go all the way down to 4 to find the next one.

    Looks as though it may be a race in four. That leaves another 32/100 to be distributed if the tiddlers go. I think Warren is nearly as old as the two blokes.

  21. Age has to be a factor.

    In the UK, Mr Corbyn is furious that two civil servants have written that he’s too old and frail and a mere shell figurehead, not really leading his Party.

    Dear oh bl**dy dear.

    Speaking of dear, the last thing we need here is a US pharmaceutical ‘system’ with US pricing.

  22. Mr A

    Which companies or groups are holding whom, to ransom?

    The companies are the insurance companies.
    Which seem to have acted in unison on this, collusion looks likely here, perhaps the ACCC or ASIC or who even could look into it.
    The victims are everyone in Australia if they manage to shut the Construction industry down.
    8% of GDP ( if one likes that metric)

    The way it works is to inflate the perceptions of risk, inflate the cost to a point that only governments can extract the funds for it.

    Let’s not forget that Government is the biggest corporation and spender in the country with a bottomless credit card and no motivation to curb expenditures if votes are at risk.

  23. The US Dems circus is wonderful thus far.
    I said months ago here the Harris was best placed for the identity politics left in America.
    She’s smart enough to play the race and gender cards for all they’re worth to that crowd.
    Her best ploy was the “ I’m not calling you a racist, but ….” against the front runner Biden.

    If I were to pick a sane Dem ticket it’d be a Tulsi Gabbard / Pete Buttigieg team.

    But sanity doesn’t look to be a priority in US opposition politics nowadays.

  24. If I were to pick a sane Dem ticket it’d be a Tulsi Gabbard / Pete Buttigieg team.

    And you only have the Democrats best interest at heart, of course. I’m sure they welcome your expert opinion.

  25. Any intelligent rebuttal zoot or just shit smearing as usual ?
    Your perspective of another alternative ?

    I’m sure there are a couple of independent analytic brain cell in your head that could convince your index finger to type something to add to congenital discourse rather than poopooing mine without substance.

  26. Has anyone else noticed that the loudest voices advocating freedom of speech emanate from the thinnest skins?

  27. congenial….. perhaps

    Spellcock Needs A Fact check.
    And Fact check will be
    Check Mated.

    (We are all pawns)

  28. Zoot: Yep. Rampant egos have been with us for a long long time. And some of them were not very nice.
    Some one wrote a long time ago that Beazley was the only Labor party leader who was not technically insane. Explains why he never got to lead the country?

  29. zoot: on your linked article from CBS about drug price rises in the US, I was intrigued by:

    The drug hikes come at a time when lawmakers and the Trump administration have vowed to address the problem of rising prescription costs.

    It’s great that they “vowed”, eh?

  30. Tanks are sooo yesterday, drones are where it’s at.

    On January 23, 2009, just three days into his presidency, President Obama authorized his first kinetic military action: two drone strikes, three hours apart, in Waziristan, Pakistan, that killed as many as twenty civilians. Two terms and 540 strikes later, Obama leaves the White House after having vastly expanding and normalizing the use of armed drones for counterterrorism and close air support operations in non-battlefield settings—namely Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia.

    Any pictorial editorials about that ?

  31. John

    Explains why he never got to lead the country?

    And yet some folk still want to concentrate power to an overarching Federal level top down rather than individual up.

    Go figure….

  32. Churchill had a role in developing tanks for WW1, Jumps old bean.

    That Obama, is he the same bloke awarded the Nobel Peace Prize?

    Nobel the same guy who gave us dynamite?

    So many sane leaders…. so much destruction.

  33. Jumpy: Bottom up can be pretty nasty too. It is hard to separate how much of the Nazi evil came from Hitler, how much was driven upwards by the attitudes of the people and how much was Hitler exploiting the resentments of the people
    What do you think the Tea Party is about in the US and who is pulling whose strings?

  34. Tanks are sooo yesterday, drones are where it’s at.

    Tell that to Trump, he’s the one insisting tanks be included in his July 4 parade (which was actually the subject of the editorial, but feel free to let your hatred for Obama colour your interpretation of it)

  35. PS: did you know that under President Trump the US continues using drones to commit atrocities?

  36. John

    Jumpy: Bottom up can be pretty nasty too. It is hard to separate how much of the Nazi evil came from Hitler, how much was driven upwards by the attitudes of the people and how much was Hitler exploiting the resentments of the people

    There were only about 8% of Germans in the Nazi Party ( National Socialist German Workers’ Party )
    Only 33% of the primary vote ( I know you revere primary vote ) got Hitler the leadership. Don’t think there was a 2PP there, not sure.

    What do you think the Tea Party is about in the US and who is pulling whose strings?

    From what I can tell the Tea Party are Constitutionalists so the Founding Fathers would be still pulling those strings.

  37. 8% is an enormous political party membership figure. (Did everyone join freely??)

    In a small country with a population of 25 million, say, there would be two million Party members.

    How would that go down with individualist free thinkers, adoring liberty etc.?

    “2PP” refers to nations with preferential voting, si?

    It’s not unusual for the Party with the most members in the chamber, to be invited to form a govt, even though that Party might have scored neither a majority of seats nor a majority in the national vote. Just saying.

  38. Solid defence of Nazi Germany there Mr A but the point I was making to John was that ground up is better than top down because the base component of any group, large or small, is the Individual.

  39. I wonder what this “ground up” looks like (as opposed to “top down”). Are there any historical examples?
    i.e. Has it ever happened in the history of humanity or is it just another libertarian fantasy?

  40. Jumpy:

    There were only about 8% of Germans in the Nazi Party ( National Socialist German Workers’ Party )

    Keep in mind that Hitler got into power via the democratic process. It is not just party members who vote for and support parties. Hitler knew how to exploit the fears and prejudices of the German people.

  41. Jumpy

    Frankly, I would be very worried if 2 million of our fellow Aussies joined one Party. That’s all.

    I am not now, nor have I ever been a supporter of the Nazi Party.

    As Gerard Henderson is inclined to say, you just made that up.

  42. In Venezuela in December 1998 Hugo Chávez won the presidential election with 56 percent of the vote.
    Would this be an example of power coming from the “bottom up”?

  43. On “bottom up”…. some years ago on the old blog, I expressed hope that the street marches and turmoil in Burma being led by young monks would lead to the restoration of democracy there. It looked like “bottom up” protests.

    Another poster countered that the monks seemed to have no strategy and no supporting organisation, and that they would likely fail. The poster contrasted the Burma protests with the earlier campaign of the United Democratic Front in apartheid South Africa, wide support and a myriad of independent organisations with a strategy etc.

    Events showed that other poster to have been prescient. Perhaps their reasoning was also correct? (Bottom up processes have a difficult road….) Burma/Myanmar has not yet achieved freedom.

  44. 56% zoot?
    That’s way above Mr Morrison’s support.
    And above Mr Shorten, Pres Trump, Mrs May….

    What was the special ingredient Sr Chavez brought to that election for his conservative supporters ?

    $$$
    On a different tack, A Wunch of Bankers by Daniel Ziffer was published earlier this week by Scribe. Subtitle: A Year in the Hayne Royal Commission.

    It has been endorsed by Wil Anderson: “Wucking funderful.”

  45. I don’t know what voting system applied in the Weimar Republic, but Hitler’s Nazi Party won 37.3% of the vote in 1932, to supplant the Social Democrats as the largest party, but no party had a majority and the place was basically ungovernable at that point, although the Social Democrats had done reasonably well for the previous decade or so.

    Hitler was appointed Chancellor by the President Paul von Hindenburg, the famous general from WW1. Hindenburg thought he could control Hitler:

    Within a month they had the Reichstag Fire, which Hitler blamed on the communists, and the rest, as they say, is history.

  46. Brian,

    That was a difficult situation for Hindenburg, to put it mildly.
    But in many democratic polities, constitutional practice is to call on the Party with the most seats or highest vote, to form the next Govt.

    Whereas in the US, it’s the Electoral College who appoint the Pres; the national total vote is of interest to many observers, but not decisive. Ditto Australia.

    zoot: do you think 40% support for some kind of socialism in the US would count as a bottom up groundswell? Are the bottom-uppers generally correct? Or do they merely hold the moral high ground?

    If I may quote Basil Faulty (out of context):
    It’s all bottoms with you people!”

    Or Leonard Cohen, Democracy is Coming, to the USA

  47. zoot: do you think 40% support for some kind of socialism in the US would count as a bottom up groundswell?

    Ambi I would think so, but I’m waiting on our bottom up expert to confirm or refute.
    So far we’ve been discussing various levels of popular support in a democratic process, which Jumpy seemed to indicate would be “top down”. Frankly, I’m confused.

  48. Ambi:

    Are the bottom-uppers generally correct? Or do they merely hold the moral high ground?

    My American son son says that direct democracy tends to support extra expenditure while opposing the increases in taxes and charges. As a result , some US states suffer chronic budget crisis. My experience is that the workers are worth consulting and listening to because sometimes they picked up things I, and my experts, missed and because the workers would put more effort into doing an idea they owned. Good governments should do something similar when the feelings and expertise of the bottom is important. However, the bottom is not always right and definitely doesn’t always occupy the high moral ground.

  49. Democracy without a Constitution guaranteeing inalienable rights * is useless.
    In 1932 Germany the choices were KDP communists, social democrats or national socialist.
    None gave a shit about individual rights, it was a choice between Lord King authoritarians.
    Same as Venezuela today, the socialists battle for the ultimate authority.

    No, no, bottom up starts with power to the individual first and the King last.

    You know better than Morrison**what’s good for you and your family.
    You and your family know better than Morrison**what’s good for your street and suburb.
    Your local council knows better than Morrison** what’s good for the region.
    And so on….

    Democracy is a vital ingredient for a liberty cake but certainly not the only one.

    That’s why “ trickledown “ is a socialist phenomenon, because it send ever increasing power to the top to be distributed as they see fit rather than Capitalism that puts redistribution power in the hands of us all.

    ( * the guaranteed right not to be prevented from pursuing, not the guaranteed right it will be provided)
    ( ** Or any other PM or Federal “ expert “ foisted upon us )

  50. * How about if we flipped back to taxes levied and spent primarily at Local level, then State level and least of all Federal level.

    At COAG the Fed goes cap in hand to the states.

    I see no reason at all the States shouldn’t go back to levying income taxes and can’t take over GST, none at all.
    They are responsible for education, hospitals, law enforcement, inner state trade, electricity and resources,not the Fed, despite the Fed campaigning on those issues almost primarily.

  51. ( I see no problem with the Fed campaigning on Border Security, it pretty much their only responsibility )

  52. I see no reason at all the States shouldn’t go back to levying income taxes and can’t take over GST, none at all.

    Good for WA which has vast expanses with mineral wealth, with next to no-one living there.

    You would have rich states and poor states, like the USA or worse.

  53. Brian
    Tasmania and SA ( the dole bludger States ) have enormous natural wealth and human wealth.

    There’s no reason they won’t thrive realising their lower populations to service.

    So WA thrives more than other States under that situation, at least an in Country migration destination from badly performing State is available.

    Competition between States is a good thing.

    We are after all a Federation of States primarily under our Constitution.

  54. To paraphrase a hated conservative,

    The States should levy Income and Goods and Services taxes.
    Change my mind.

  55. It may seem I overlooked the Mineral Wealth thing, I didn’t.
    The minerals resources are NOT Federally owned, they are the property of the people of the State with which they happen to be in.

    If SA refuses to extract gas, and they have plenty of it, then they have zero authority to demand gas from any other State.

  56. KPD was a threat in Germany, sure.

    But after Brian linked to the Reichstag Fire, he reminded us it was most likely a put up job, an excuse to round up and murder Communist leaders and KPD members aplenty.

    “First they came for the Communists
    And I didn’t speak up because I was not a Communist…..”

    Were the German Social Democrats inhumane thugs? Convince me.

    Two footnotes: I heard a rumour that when Georgi Dimitrov, Bulgarian commo (and as it turned out, Comintern leader) was on trial accused of involvement in torching the Reichstag, some Germans at the time said
    There is only one brave man in Germany, and he is a Bulgarian

    (tried to find that quote but perhaps it was mere commo propaganda)

    Also, Dimitrov’s final address to the Court is amazing : the Judge repeatedly warns him not to grandstand, and he just keeps doing it.

    Verdict: Dimitrov and several others NOT GUILTY. Brave Judge noted no evidence of their involvement had been presented. Adolf not happy at all.

    wiedersehen, Freunden!

    Oh, just to clarify: I am not now nor have I ever been a member of the KPD or the Comintern.

  57. A written Constitution is a first step, but you need politicians and citizens who respect it, and an independent Constitutional Court to keep an eye on any shenanigans.

    On electoral arithmetic, may I note that Salvador Allende scored almost exactly 1/3 of the vote when elected President of Chile decades ago. His two rivals had almost equal votes just below his.

    He ruled alone, no coalition (apart from the fact that his “Popular Unity” was itself a coalition).

    That arithmetic did not bode well.
    A President who had been voted against by almost 65% of voters.

    A recipe for trouble?

    And yet his Govt grandiosely announced the arrival of The Chilean Revolution !

    Without having even as much as 51% of the vote…!!

    A top-down ‘revolution’ perhaps??

    The Workers
    United
    Are Frequently Defeated
    .

    Vale Salvador Allende

    ?saviour?

  58. In the tiny bit I’ve heard of the 2019 Reith Lectures (on RN’s Big Ideas) Jonathon Sumption argues that a written constitution is less than ideal. Lord Sumption believes Great Britain’s unwritten constitution is far better equipped to respond to changing circumstances. (I’m not sure I agree).

  59. No, no, bottom up starts with power to the individual first and the King last.

    Please give us an example of how this has worked in the past.
    Lord Mayors tend to be mini-kings in my experience.

  60. Many (if not most) of the world’s nations are federations of smaller states. Since (to my knowledge) none of them have chosen to implement a bottom up power structure of the kind Jumpy envisages I must conclude that there are advantages to the top down structure which outweigh its abrogation of individual freedom (if that’s what concerns our Mackay correspondent, I find him less than transparent).
    Even the USA, after throwing of the yoke of the British monarchy and with considerable deliberation, built a system with a pseudo monarch (the President) whose power would be constrained by the Judiciary and the Legislature. The incumbent is demonstrating just how vulnerable that structure is if the President desires total power and one of the political duopoly is prepared to enable him.

  61. Zoot: Healthy democracies need lots of checks and balances and protection for the rights of minorities and individuals. Your Mackay correspondent seems to be favoring bottom up at the moment because it seems to be supporting his ideas at the moment. He might change his tune if the bottom realizes that the Greens have become by default the party that cares most about social justice and votes accordingly.

  62. Meanwhile the SMH claims that in Greece the forthcoming election is likely to see a drift away from “populist Parties” – are they bottom up?… and ….

    back to “New Democracy”, the Centre Right Party of long ago governments {back in the eras of Karamanlis, Papandreou father and son, the Colonels Coup, etc.}

    Farewell Syriza?

  63. John

    He might change his tune if the bottom realizes that the Greens have become by default the party that cares most about social justice and votes accordingly.

    No I won’t.

    But I don’t see that happening.
    What I see is that SJWs dominate our culture at the moment, from the media and Hollywood to academia to Silicon Valley. Almost all of the mainstream institutions.
    There is a counterculture groundswell for individualism and freedom that’s getting bigger by the day.

    But please ignore me. I don’t want to encourage greens to push more laws to shut them down and lock them up.

  64. Jumpy, you really need to start thinking for yourself instead of swallowing whole the swill you read on alt.right web pages.
    How are the SJWs in Hollywood restricting your freedom?

  65. Jumpy: The definition I found implies that SJW’s are another irritating class of people with an inflated impression of their importance that waste people’s time on matters of marginal importance.
    The Greens have social justice concerns about the way the people at the bottom of the pile are being treated and don’t support things like taking away penalty rates and prioritizing tax cuts to to the rich ahead of spending money on education, health and lifting the income of people at the bottom of the pile.
    Coal miners that feel that there jobs are at risk probably aren’t going to vote Green at the moment but a lot of other workers may see that what the Greens want to do about social justice is in their interest.

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