September 25, 2010 | Ronda Jambe

Corporate media pulling our leg

The Australian’s front page yesterday told us that ‘corporate leaders are stepping up’ to make sure the federal government isn’t overly influenced by ‘vested interests’. They want to protect our economy from ill-considered decisions.

BHP Billiton CEO Marius Kloppers’  call for a carbon tax may have set the cat among the pigeons. It is too obvious to be refuted, since a) something has to be done and b) incentives are the one thing economists agree on to shift economic practice. Those two assumptions are widely accepted, at least in my universe.

Big biz, including those who own the Australian, are apparently upset about the dangerous liaison between the Greens and the ALP. Action must be taken! Perhaps that is why green groups have warned their members not to feed interviewers from the OZ with schism calalysts. Driving wedges is a tried and true strategy to weaken such an alliance.

Amazingly, people are frequently suckered in by claims to protect them, even when the real intent is to consolidate control. An outstanding example is the support of the Koch brothers for the Tea Party movement in the US.

Not being a stock investor, I’d never heard of them, but apparently they are the third richest people in the US, after Bill Gates and Warren Buffet.

They support people who want smaller government (but ignore the military as a place to start cutting costs), while their agenda includes greater control by corporations over environmental and social planning.

Of all the reforms desirable to improve the way our country runs, greater influence for corporate views would not seem to be one of them.  Kloppers welcome comments notwithstanding: these too should be subject to widespread democratic and accountable discussion.

From the Institute for Public Accuracy:

See from the New Yorker, Jane Mayer's recent piece "Covert Operations: The
billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama."

Posted by Ronda Jambe at 10:59 pm | Comments (3) |
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September 20, 2010 | Graham

Stable government mantra

Rob Oakeshott now says that he would like a Liberal as speaker. This is surely a disingenuous position. It’s payback for the Liberals being more aggressive in not wanting him as speaker than Labor.

If the Liberals supplied the speaker that would put them one further vote away from government, unless they were to accept a pairing arrangement, which presumably they won’t now.

I don’t know that his fellow independents will be happy with this move.

While everyone said after the last election that they wanted “stable government”, what they really wanted was unstable government.  That enhances the independents own position.

I found it interesting that the three country independents split two to the ALP and one to the Coalition. It may have reflected the politics in their own electorates, but I suspect it more reflected their need to make the government as unstable as possible.

Splitting two to one in favour of the electorally weaker of the two major parties put them in a position to deal ambidextrously with either side.

Putting a Liberal in as speaker negates the contribution that Bob Katter made to the instability of government by deciding to back the Coalition.  He in particular wouldn’t be happy with Oakeshott.

Posted by Graham at 12:18 pm | Comments (3) |
Filed under: Australian Politics

September 17, 2010 | Ronda Jambe

Connecting the dots: climate change, peak oil and global justice

Some coverage has been given recently to a report ‘leaked’  early September from the German military about the implications of peak oil.  The article by Stefan Schultz in Der Spiegel is:,1518,715138,00.html
‘Peak Oil’ and the German Government

Now this discussion has moved from mailing lists to The Age business pages. Both are worth reading, both say it is time we start to deal with the realities of our changing resources and climate. The loss of cheap oil and the disruptions of wilder weather will shake our fundamental securities. The related issue of human conflict over diminishing security has to be dealt with also.

Two examples are New Orleans after Katrina and Pakistan after the floods. If Victorians fare better it will be due to their decent goverance. Overall however, Australia is not meeting these challenges squarely, as David Ingles  from the Australia Institute points out:

Let’s hope our refreshed government is reading these reports and paying attenion.

Posted by Ronda Jambe at 10:25 pm | Comments (1) |
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September 15, 2010 | Graham

Oakeshott for king?

Pity the poor voters who thought when they elected an independent “we the people” were getting someone who would act in our interest rather than theirs, unlike representatives of the major political parties.


Posted by Graham at 1:41 pm | Comments Off on Oakeshott for king? |
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September 07, 2010 | Graham

Is the Victorian Government really topping up the floods?

It appears to be the case that the Victorian Government is topping up floodwaters around Goulburn.


Posted by Graham at 1:28 am | Comments (1) |

September 04, 2010 | Ronda Jambe

We’re as smart as slime mold

That we are, without a doubt. The Australian polity, that is. Not sure about Abbott’s hope for a gentler polity, but events of these last few weeks have shown we are at least as smart as slime mold.

And why not? We are also a self-organising organic entity, and our emergent behaviour suits me just fine. Every few months an article appears about research on slime mold, and how they can design the road system of the UK without even trying. I’m impressed, but even more impressed with the way our politics seem to be moving, (slower than a slime mold, but still) in the direction of more sensible consensus. It’s an amazing thing to behold, and it does give one hope.

The latest polls show a preference for Gillard, by a whisker. No one wants another election, so that is the equivalent of the slime mold avoiding a toxic food source. Isn’t it wonderful to see a complex adaptive system operating in the widest social sphere?

There is also a perceptible lurch towards a carbon tax, and that would make all the mess with the failed (and non-optimal) Emissions Trading Scheme worth the bother. There isn’t any more time to dither, and the sooner we grasp this nettle, the less it will hurt.

The Independents want a better deal for the bush: broadband, hospitals, some dental care. Yes, please, this is what green slime mold like me have been yearning for. Above all, I drool green slime at the prospect of procedural reform.

The other green organism, the Greens, have managed a historic deal with the ALP in an agreement that is a fractal echo of the one the  ACT Greens signed with the Canberra ALP a few years back. The federal agreement reinforces the call of the independents for parliamentary reform, greater transparency and accountabilty, and addressing climate change.

This is just logical groping towards mutually beneficial goals: we need to reform governance, and we need to look after our land and food suppliers, while also addressing the root causes of climate change. We can’t stop it, not little ol OZ by itself, but by golly we can build resilience to adapt.

And that starts with reforming how our parliament works. A convenient, but really quite obvious convergence between the Greens and the independents. Let’s face it, if the Nationals hadn’t let them down for years, they wouldn’t have jumped ship. And if the ALP had faced up to the way their preferences were quietly slipping away (in slime moldy fashion) to the Greens, they wouldn’t have lost control of the Senate.

So we might just come out of this stronger, wiser, and more democratic. We’ve had a little bifurcation, and now we’re forming a new attractor. I’m excited.

Posted by Ronda Jambe at 4:32 am | Comments (1) |
Filed under: Australian Politics