Category Archives: Social Science and Society

Brexit crunch coming

Everyone knows that a ‘no-deal’ Brexit would be a very bad idea, except a cabal of very determined MPs. I’ll come back to that.

Everyone also agrees that Theresa May has done a staggeringly bad job at negotiating Brexit, but she’s still there. I’ll come back to that also.

Her latest speech telling the people that she’s on their side, but the other politicians are to blame has really upset everyone. Apparently the anger with politicians in Britain is real, and May has just made it worse.

Stephen Bush, political editor of the New Statesman, sends out a morning call. His last Friday effort is a good explainer. Continue reading Brexit crunch coming

Weekly salon 23/3

1. Jacinda Adern stars as PM

And just a top human being.

Jacinda Adern wears a headscarf in the wake of the Christchurch mosque attacks Photograph: Kirk Hargreaves/Christchurch City Council

Ambigulous drew our attention to the New York Times editorial America Deserves a Leader as Good as Jacinda Ardern largely repeated in the NZ Herald. Continue reading Weekly salon 23/3

The Pell case breaks new ground


In his sermon last Sunday the Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher, urged parishioners don’t be ‘too quick to judge’ Pell. I found what the Archbishop said appropriate, except that Pell has been judged and found guilty. That is his present status. He is guilty as charged on five counts of sexual abuse. For the third most senior Catholic official on the planet, that is breathtaking. Continue reading The Pell case breaks new ground

Weekly salon 2/3

1. Politics and the mood of the people

Mark David cartoon

To me the Morrison government has brought politics to a new low in Australia. Angela Merkel’s flipping through her briefing notes to see who is PM in Australia this week spoke volumes. Continue reading Weekly salon 2/3

Dividend imputation reform vs a dishonest scare campaign

The Coalition government is calling Labor’s proposals to end cash payments by the taxation office for excess share dividend imputation credits a “retiree tax” and an attack on pensioners. In fact:

  • No pensioners or part pensioners will be affected at all.
  • Exemptions include individuals receiving the Age Pension, Disability Support Pension, Carer Payment, Parenting Payment, Newstart and Sickness Allowance.
  • Self managed super funds (SMSFs) can have up to six members. Where one of a couple is receiving a part pension the exemption will apply to the fund.
  • Martin also pointed out that it is possible to receive a part pension with an income of up to $78,000 pa.
  • Currently under the existing rules it would be theoretically possible to receive a superannuation income of $80,000 pa, and then in addition receive a cash cheque from the taxation office of about $34,000.
  • These benefits flow to one in every 25 Australians, the rest of us in effect pay for them.
  • When cash payments were introduced in 2001 the rule change cost the budget $550 million. The current cost is about $5 billion, $8 billion next year. It is simply unsustainable. Peter Martin says the current scheme is as Australian as the echidna. No other country in the world does it.

Continue reading Dividend imputation reform vs a dishonest scare campaign

Cashing in on refugees at Manus Island

As the crossbench celebrated passing a vote to medivac refugees from offshore detention camps at doctors discretion:

Scott Morrison did not seem to be unduly perturbed:

I am sure he likes having refugees mired at Manus and Nauru, so he can scare Australian voters about the danger of letting Bill Shorten anywhere near The Lodge and the treasury benches. There are some other people who also cash in big time – for example Paladin Group, one of the biggest government contractors in Australia, having won tenders worth $423 million for its 22 months work on Manus. Continue reading Cashing in on refugees at Manus Island

Weekly salon 1/2

1. How does ScoMo intend to face up to parliament?

You will recall that back in December ScoMo closed parliament and scarpered rather than face up to a bill promoted by Kerryn Phelps on setting some rules which would see doctors’ assessments of health matters being taken seriously in relation to medical evacuations from Nauru and Manus Island.

Continue reading Weekly salon 1/2

The NBN, 5G and a bifurcating technical future

According to the AFR:

    A Shorten Labor government has been tipped to initiate an overhaul of National Broadband Network policy within months or even weeks of a federal election, opting for a more comprehensive fibre-optic cable network than the Coalition’s controversial “multi-technology mix”. Continue reading The NBN, 5G and a bifurcating technical future

Towards civilising capitalism

As I noted back in 2014, Immanuel Wallerstein, the great sociologist of capitalism in the late 20th century, has been writing about the instability of the ‘world system’ (a term he coined) for over 40 years. He believes that the ‘world system’ of capitalism has been in decline since about 1968, so that we are now in a transition phase. The new system will not necessarily be better for ordinary people. In an intriguing piece from May 2014 – “The center isn’t holding very well” – he says:

    As our existing historical system is in the process of dying, there is a fierce struggle over what kind of new historical system will succeed it. Soon, we may indeed no longer live in a capitalist system, but we could come to live in an even worse system – a “rough beast” seeking to be born? To be sure, this is only one possible collective choice. The alternative choice is a relatively democratic, relatively egalitarian system, also seeking to be born. Which one we shall see at the end of the struggle is up to us, bottom-up.

Continue reading Towards civilising capitalism

ABC: chaos at the top with more to follow

Just when the most important thing going on in our fair land was preparation for football finals, our national broadcaster puts on a reality TV spectacular, except it is real. First the ABC’s board sacks the managing director Michelle Guthrie, now the chairman of the board Justin Milne sacks himself. Or more accurately dug his own grave as this David Rowe cartoon suggests:

That was from an article by Philip Coorey, who says the whole board, including the ABC staff representative should go. Continue reading ABC: chaos at the top with more to follow

Australian cartoon puts fuel on Serena fire

Here’s Mark Knight’s Herald Sun cartoon which initiated a social media and general media storm around the globe:

My wife drew my attention to it in an article ‘Racist’ Australian cartoon of Serena Williams prompts global controversy in The New Daily.

Strangely, the cartoon is no longer there, and to save you trouble, none of those links lead to it. Continue reading Australian cartoon puts fuel on Serena fire