ScepticWatch

October 31, 2016

2016

Free Market of Ideas


December

Posts Scott Stephens: In Praise of Aristocracy
Mary Kissel: In Trump We Trust
CNN Politics: Exit Poll 2016
Judd Legum: Government of the People, by the President, for the President (and his family)
Alexis Cléry: Populism in America
Nick Minchin: The Benefits of Smoking
Robert Nozick: Taxation = Slavery
Peace and Long Life: The Rage of the Powerless
Scott Stephens: An Orgy of Free Thinking
Background Briefing: Extreme Weather Events and Energy Security
The Science Show: Tackling air pollution in China
Links Rear Vision: Renewable energy and the national grid
Jonathan Haidt: Capitalism and Morality
Tim Buckley: Global energy futures
Science Advances: Accelerated modern human–induced species losses — Entering the sixth mass extinction
PNAS: Climate change in the Fertile Crescent and implications of the recent Syrian drought
Current Biology: The Negative Association between Religiousness and Children’s Altruism across the World
Steve Inskeep: Donald Trump and the Legacy of Andrew Jackson

November

Posts Ministry of Plenty: Justice = Equality of Freedom
Richard Nixon: They're trying to destroy us
William Grey: Participatory Democracy and Majoritarian Tyranny
Innovation Nation: Catalyst Cancelled
Tom Switzer: The Global War on Political Correctness
Robert Taney: Property Rights Versus Human Rights
Bertrand Russell: Locke, Stalin and Hitler
Rachel Warren: Dangerous Interference With The Climate System
Links Matt Bai: President Narcissus
Reith Lectures: Mistaken Identities — Creed, Country, Colour, Culture
Thomas Frank: Plutocratic Progressivism
Four Corners: Deliberate Cruelty

Date Title

October

28 Post Robert Putnam: A World Without Trust
Link Nick O' Malley: Inside Team Trump
Four Corners: For Better or Worse
20 Post Scott Heron: Pause? What Pause?
Dean Ashenden: Who Killed Gonski?
Link Dean Ashenden: Fact checking school funding
19 Post Anne Case & Angus Deaton: Rising mortality among white middle-aged Americans in the 21st century
13 Post William Goetzmann: Debt and Deficit in 18th Century Britain
12 Post Fillette Uwase: Rice and Chips
11 Post George W Bush: Saving Lives
Erasmus Darwin: World Without End!
Link Ian Lowe: The Lucky Country?
7 Link Background Briefing: Agricultural Impacts of Climate Change
1 Link Paddy Manning: A Good Hard Look At The Greens
In Our Time: Zeno's Paradoxes

September

30 Post John Quiggin: Crisis? What Crisis?
30 Link John Quiggin: Innovation — the test is yet to come
John Quiggin: How New Zealand fell further behind
26 Post Robert Menzies: Lifters and Leaners
13 Post George Megalogenis: Tax Cuts for the Rich, Spending Cuts for the Poor
9 Link Michael Marmot: Advvancing Australia Fairly — Social Justice and the Health Gap

August

19 Post Roy Spencer: Christians For Carbon
13 Post Grattan Institute: Orange Book 2016 — Priorities for the next Commonwealth Government

July

27 Post Babbage and Lovelace
18 Post Malcolm Turnbull: The Pretty Face Of An Ugly Party
16 Link Andrew Solomon: Family
15 Link Madeline Gleeso: Offshore processing of asylum seekers
Bill Schneider: Donald Trump
Big Ideas: Grattan Institute's election policy
11 Post First Australians: There is No Other Law
9 Post Malcolm Turnbull: The Australian Gulag
6 Post John Stuart Mill: Culture Without Freedom
5 Post Alexis Cléry: Materialism

June

27 Post Amanda Vanstone: Small Government Liberalism
21 Link John Veron: The End of Coral
17 Post Francis Fukuyama: Political Order and Decay
11 Post Larry Marshall: No profit in climate change research
3 Link Background Briefing: The Inconvenient Scientists

May

11 Link TED Radio Hour: How Do We Move Beyond The Darkest Moments In Our Lives?
9 Post Live Long and Prosper: The Needs of the Many

April

20 Link Rear Vision: Australia's Mining Boom — A Missed Opportunity
12 Post Scientific American: Population vs Religion
10 Link Melissa Fleming: More Children Overboard

March

28 Link The Science Show: Been there done that — CSIRO's attitude to climate science
16 Post Live Long and Prosper: Love is a Warm Gun

February

28 Post Tony Abbott: The Logic of Bigotry — Muslims, Terrorists, and Refugees
21 Post Isaiah Berlin: The bright and cloudless civilisation of the future
11 Link David Eagleman: The story of your brain
8 Link A History of Ideas: Ayn Rand and Selfishness
7 Link The Report: Iraq, 2003
5 Link The Infinite Monkey Cage: What is Race?
Seriously: Trump and the Politics of Paranoia
Costing The Earth: In Conversation with David Attenborough

January

Link Catalyst: World Fire
17 Post Rudyard Kipling: Mesopotamia
16 Post Karl Popper: Faith in Reason
13 Post David Hume: The Merit of Ignorance
10 Post Georg Hegel: The End of History

Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research

Green Army: Research and Development



Caroline Ash, Elizabeth Culotta, Julia Fahrenkamp-Uppenbrink, David Malakoff, Jesse Smith, Andrew Sugden and Sacha Vignieri:
Anthropogenic climate change is now a part of our reality.
Even the most optimistic estimates of the effects of contemporary fossil fuel use suggest that mean global temperature will rise by a minimum of 2°C before the end of this century and that CO2 emissions will affect climate for tens of thousands of years. …
[Terrestrial ecosystems] will face rates of change unprecedented in the past 65 million years.
(Science, 314, AAAS, 2 August, 2013, p 473)

IPCC AR5 Working Group I:
The globally averaged combined land and ocean surface temperature data as calculated by a linear trend, show a warming of 0.85 [0.65 to 1.06] °C [3], over the period 1880–2012, when multiple independently produced datasets exist.
(Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis — Summary for Policymakers, 27 September, 2013, p 4)

Alan Austin:
In [the fourth biennual] Global Green Economy Index released yesterday [by Dual Citizen, Australia fell 27 places to] 37th out of 60 countries on clean energy performance [and ranked] last on global leadership.
(Abbott takes Australia to last place on global climate change leadership, Independent Australia, 21 October, 2014, emphasis added)

Dangerous Interference With The Climate System


Rachel Warren: Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia

Based on peer-reviewed literature, climate change impacts on the earth system, human systems and ecosystems are summarised for different amounts of annual global mean temperature change (ΔT) relative to pre-industrial times. …
  • At ΔT = 1°C world oceans and Arctic ecosystems are damaged.
  • At ΔT = 1.5°C [irreversible] Greenland Ice Sheet melting begins.
  • At ΔT = 2°C agricultural yields fall,
    • billions experience increased water stress,
    • additional hundreds of millions may go hungry,
    • sea level rise displaces millions from coasts,
    • malaria risks spread,
    • Arctic ecosystems collapse and
    • extinctions take off as regional ecosystems disappear.
    Serious human implications exist in Peru and Mahgreb.
  • At ΔT = 2–3°C the Amazon and other forests and grasslands collapse.
    • At ΔT = 3°C millions [are] at risk [of] water stress,
    • flood, hunger and dengue and malaria increase and
    • few ecosystems can adapt.
The thermohaline circulation could collapse in the range ΔT = 1–5°C, whilst the West Antarctic Ice Sheet may commence melting and Antarctic ecosystems may collapse.
Increases in extreme weather are expected.

("Impacts Of Global Climate Change At Different Annual Mean Global Temperature Increases" in Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change; Editor in Chief Hans Joachim Schellnhuber; Co-editors Wolfgang Cramer, Nebojsa Nakicenovic, Tom Wigley, Gary Yohe; CUP, 2006, p 92)


State of the Climate 2015: Record Heat and Weather Extremes


World Meteorological Organization

The [combined] global average [land and sea] near-surface temperature for 2015 was the warmest on record by a clear margin …
The global average temperature for the year was … approximately 1 °C above the 1850–1900 average.



Figure 1.
Global annual average temperature anomalies (relative to 1961–1990) for 1850–2015.
The black line and grey shading are from the HadCRUT4 analysis produced by the Met Office Hadley Centre in collaboration with the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia.
The grey shading indicates the 95% confidence interval of the estimates.
The orange line is the NOAAGlobalTemp dataset produced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Centers for Environmental Information (NOAA NCEI).
The blue line is the GISTEMP dataset produced by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Goddard Institute for Space Studies (NASA GISS).
(Source: Met Office Hadley Centre, United Kingdom, and Climatic Research Unit, University of East Anglia, United Kingdom)
(p 5)



Figure 6
Global annual average temperature anomalies (difference from the 1961–1990 average) based on an average of the three global temperature datasets.
Coloured bars indicate years that were influenced by El Niño (red) and La Niña (blue), and the years without a strong influence (grey).
The pale red bar indicates 2015.
(Source: Met Office Hadley Centre, United Kingdom, and Climatic Research Unit, University of East Anglia, United Kingdom)
(p 8)


Australia had its warmest October on record.
The anomaly for October was also the highest anomaly for any month since records began. …
[For Australia, it] was the fifth-warmest year on record as a whole.
(p 17)

(WMO Statement on the Status of the Global Climate in 2015, WMO-No. 1167, 2016)


Rising Global Mean Temperature


World Bank

[Correction of the observational data for sources of short-term variability (El Nino/Southern Oscillation, volcanic aerosols and solar variability) reveals the underlying trend:]




Business As Usual


Climate Action Tracker

In a world first for climate policy, the Australian Government repealed core elements of Clean Energy Future Plan, effectively abolishing the carbon pricing mechanism, sought to reduce the Australian renewable target, and block other clean energy and climate policy measures in Australia.
The carbon pricing mechanism introduced had been working effectively, with emissions from the electricity and other covered sectors reducing by about 7% per annum.

Up until the time of repeal, the implemented climate policy was effective and was projected to have been sufficient to meet Australia’s unconditional Copenhagen pledge for a 5% reduction from 2000 levels by 2020.
Our new, post-repeal assessment shows, however, that this target is no longer in reach and the currently proposed new legislation will result in emissions increasing by 49-57% above 1990 levels.

(11 December, 2014)


Climate Equity Reference Calculator




Given a Strong 2℃ pathway target, the global mitigation requirement in 2020 is 19.8 gigatonnes.

Australia’s fair share of this 2020 global mitigation requirement is 1.7%, which is 342 million tonnes.
Australia’s 2020 unconditional mitigation pledge (150 tonnes) falls short of its fair share of the global effort by 192 million tonnes.

In per-capita terms, Australia’s fair share of the 2020 global mitigation requirement comes to 13.5 tonnes.
Its reduction pledge, however, is only 5.9 tonnes per person, which falls short of its fair share by 7.6 tonnes per person.
Its score is therefore -7.6. …

Australia’s fair share can be expressed as … 34% reduction below national 1990 emissions. …
A country’s fair share is a function of both its capacity and its responsibility.
Australia is projected in 2020 to have 1.9% of global capacity and 1.5% of global responsibility.

(Accessed 1 January, 2015)

Would you like to know more?


CONTENTS


Rachel Warren: Dangerous Interference With The Climate System

October 15, 2016

Robert Putnam

Green Army: Persons of Interest

Lucius Seneca (~4 BCE–65 CE):
Poverty amongst riches is the most grievous form of want.
(Epistulae morales ad Lucilium, LXXIV, 4, adapted)

John Kennedy (1917–1963):
If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.
(Quoted by Chris Matthews, Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero, Simon & Schuster, 2011, Reader's Digest, 2013, p 129)

Amartya Sen (1933) [Swedish National Bank's Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, 1998]:
Black men between the ages of 35 and 54 are 1.8 times more likely to die than are white men of the same age.
And black women in this group are almost three times more likely to die than are white women of the same age. …
The survival chances of the average African-American are … unfavorable when compared with … those of the citizens of China and Kerala, who have much lower incomes.
(The Economics of Life and Death, Scientific American, May 1993, p 44-5)

George Gilder (1939):
In order to succeed … the poor need, most of all, the spur of their poverty. …
(Wealth and Poverty, 1981)

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826):
All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man.
The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth that:
  • the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs;
  • nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God.
(Letter to Roger C Weightman, 24 June 1826)

Mary Kissel [Editorial Board Member, Wall Street Journal]:
[By expanding] the entitlement state [Barack Obama has] hooked a lot of lower income Americans on welfare programs — 1 in 7 Americans on food stamps, for instance.
(The Trump victory, Between The Lines, ABC Radio National, 10 November 2016)

John Galbraith (1908–2006):
[Under Ronald Reagan, along with tax cuts for the rich,] there was the attack … on economic support to the poorest of the population — on welfare payments, food stamps and aid to families with dependent children.
(The Affluent Society, 4th Ed, Penguin, 1984, p xvii)

David Ricardo (1772–1823):
Like all other contracts, wages should be left to the fair and free competition of the market, and should never be controlled by the interference of the legislature.
(Letter to Malthus, Vol I, The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, Piero Sraffa, Editor, Cambridge University Press, 1951, p 105)

The natural price of labour is that price which is necessary to enable the labourers … to subsist and to perpetuate their race, without either increase or diminution.
(Chapter V, The Principles of Political Economy and Taxation, 3rd Ed, 1821, p 52)

Adam Smith (1723–1790):
For every rich man, you must have 500 poor.
And that rich man must live every time in fear because of the jealousy of others.
And if it is not for the firm hand of the magistrate … he would not be able to keep his capital safe. …

[Civil government,] in so far as it is instituted for the security of property, is in reality instituted for the defense
  • of the rich against the poor, or
  • of those who have some property against those who have none at all. …
(The Wealth of Nations, 1779)

Kim Robinson (1952):
There were of course very powerful forces on Earth adamantly opposed to … creating full employment …
Full employment, if enacted, would remove “wage pressure” — which phrase had always meant fear struck into the hearts of the poor, also into the hearts of anyone who feared becoming poor, which meant almost everyone on Earth.
This fear was a major tool of social control, indeed the prop that held up the current order despite its obvious failures.
Even though it was a system so bad that everyone in it lived in fear, either of starvation or the guillotine, still they clutched to it harder than ever.
(2312, Orbit, 2012, p 373-4)

Ridley Scott:
Quite an experience to live in fear, isn't it?
That's what it is to be a slave.
(Blade Runner, 1982)

Garrett Hardin (1915–2003):
World food banks move food to the people, hastening the exhaustion of the environment of the poor countries.
Unrestricted immigration, on the other hand, moves people to the food, thus speeding up the destruction of the environment of the rich countries. …
We are all the descendants of thieves, and the world's resources are inequitably distributed.
[However, we] cannot remake the past.
We cannot safely divide the wealth equitably among all peoples so long as people reproduce at different rates.
To do so would [only] guarantee that future generations would have … a ruined world to inhabit.
(Lifeboat Ethics: The Case Against Helping the Poor, Psychology Today, 1974)

Edmund Burke (1729–1797):
The laws of commerce are the laws of nature, and therefore the laws of God.
(Thoughts and Details on Scarcity, 1800)

John Rockefeller, Jr (1874–1960):
The growth of a large business is merely a survival of the fittest …
The American Beauty rose can be produced in the splendor and fragrance which bring cheer to its beholder only by sacrificing the early buds which grow around it.
This is not an evil tendency in business.
It is merely the working out of a law of nature and a law of God.

William Sumner (1840–1910):
The law of the survival of the fittest was not made by man.
We can only by interfering with it produce the survival of the unfittest.
(Essays in Political and Social Science, Henry Holt, 1885, p 85)

Milton & Rose Friedman:
Life is not fair.
It is tempting to believe that government can rectify what nature has spawned.
(Free to Choose, 1980)

Robert Putnam:
The dominant public ideology of the Gilded Age had been social Darwinism.
Its advocates had argued that social progress required the survival of the fittest — with little or no interference by government with the “natural laws of the marketplace.”
In a society so organized, the ablest would succeed, the feckless would fail, and the unhindered process of elimination would ensure social progress.
In important respects this [late 19th century] philosophy foreshadowed the libertarian worship of the unconstrained market that has once again become popular in [late 20th century] America.
(Bowling Alone, 2001, p 378)

American Political Science Association Task Force on Inequality and American Democracy:
Today, the voices of American citizens are raised and heard unequally.
The privileged participate more than others and are increasingly well organized to press their demands on government.
Public officials, in turn, are much more responsive to the privileged than to average citizens and the least affluent.
Citizens with lower or moderate incomes speak with a whisper that is lost on the ears of inattentive government officials, while the advantaged roar with a clarity and consistency that policy-makers readily hear and routinely follow.
(American Democracy in an Age of Rising Inequality, Perspectives on Politics, December 2004, p 651)

Don Watson:
[The US minimum wage has fallen by a third since 1968.]
More than 20% of children in the United States live in poverty, more than twice the rate of any European country.
[The Australian child poverty rate is 17.4%.]
With a quarter of totalitarian China's population, democratic America has about the same number of people in jail.
(Enemy Within: American Politics in the Time of Trump, Issue 63, 2016, p 34)

Julie Willems Van Dijk [Population Health Institute, University of Wisconsin]:
Research is now showing that many health effects once attribute to racial differences are actually tied to educational and economic disparities.
(Quoted by Deborah Franklin, Scientific American, January 2012, p 18)

Sean Reardon [Sociologist, Stanford University]:
The achievement gap [in education] between children from high- and low- income families is roughly 30–40% larger among children born in 2001 than among those born twenty-five years earlier.
(The Widening Academic Achievement Gap Between the Rich and the Poor: New Evidence and Possible Explanations, in Whither Opportunity? Rising Inequality, Schools, and Children’s Life Chances, Greg J Duncan and Richard M Murnane (Eds), Russell Sage Foundation, 2011)

Andrew Cherlin:
The wages of men without college degrees have fallen since the early 1970s, and the wages of women without college degrees have failed to grow.
(Demographic Trends in the United States: A Review of Research in the 2000s, Journal of Marriage and Family, 72, June 2010, p 404)

Robert Putnam


Freedom and Justice for All

In the quarter century between 1979 and 2005, average after-tax income (adjusted for inflation) grew
  • by $900 a year for the bottom fifth of American households,
  • by $8,700 a year for the middle fifth, and
  • by $745,000 a year for the top 1% of households. …
(p 35)

From 2009 to 2012, the real incomes of the top 1% of American families rose 31%, while the real incomes of the bottom 99% barely budged (up less than half a percentage point).
(p 36)

In terms of average wages, a college degree was worth 50% more than a regular high school degree in 1980, but by 2008 the college degree was worth 95% more.
(p 184)

[The] net worth of college-educated American households with children rose by 47% between 1989 and 2013, whereas among high school-educated households net worth actually fell by 17% during that quarter century.
(p 36, emphasis added)

[The] growing access by poor kids to college does not mean growing access to selective colleges and universities.
Increasingly, poor kids who go on to college are concentrated in community colleges …
Community colleges can play a valuable role as a ladder out of poverty …
[However, in] terms of entry into more selective institutions, which … offer the best prospects for success in America, the class gap has actually widened in recent years. …
By 2004, in the nation’s “most competitive” colleges and universities … kids from the top quartile of the socioeconomic scale outnumbered kids from the bottom quartile by about 14 to one.
(p 185)

[Furthermore, much] of the recent growth in enrollment in postsecondary institutions by low-income students has been concentrated in the rapidly expanding for-profit sector …
In 2013 this sector attracted 13% of all full-time undergraduates, compared to 2% in 1991.
These students are disproportionately from low-income backgrounds (as well as older and ethnic minorities).
Giving a leg up to such students could narrow the opportunity gap …
[However,] for-profit institutions are twice as expensive for students as public universities — and have much worse records in terms of
  • graduation rates,
  • employment rates, and
  • earnings.
Not surprisingly, therefore, students at for-profit institutions have
  • much higher debt burdens (especially government-backed loans) and
  • much higher default rates.
(p 186)

David J Deming, Claudia Goldin, and Lawrence F Katz, “The For-Profit Postsecondary School Sector: Nimble Critters or Agile Predators?,” Journal of Economic Perspectives 26 (Winter 2012): 139–64, show that the outcomes from for-profit institutions are worse, even holding constant the students’ background characteristics.
(Note 78, p 338)

The class gap in college completion, which was already substantial 30 to 40 years ago, has steadily expanded.
This matters hugely, because completing college is much more important than entering college on all sorts of levels:
  • socioeconomic success,
  • physical and mental health,
  • longevity,
  • life satisfaction, and more. …
(p 187, emphasis added)

Kids from low-income backgrounds … are working more or less diligently to improve their prospects in life, but no matter how talented and hardworking they are, at best they are improving their play at checkers, while upper-class kids are widening their lead at three-dimensional chess. …

[Changes in family] structure, parenting, childhood development, peer groups, [and] extracurricular opportunities [have all] contributed to the widening gap in college graduation rates in recent decades, along with the neighborhood and community influences …
(p 188)

The burdens on the poor kids have been gathering weight since they were very young.
Rising tuition costs and student debt are the final straw, not the main load. …




(Michael Sandel, Justice: What's A Fair Start?, February 2011)


As the twenty-first century opened, a family’s socioeconomic status had become even more important than test scores in predicting which eighth graders would graduate from college. …
[Most shockingly,] high-scoring poor kids are now slightly less likely (29%) to get a college degree than low-scoring rich kids (30%).
(p 190, emphasis added)

[Social] capital can protect privileged kids from the ordinary risks of adolescence.
Studies during the past 40 years have consistently shown that, if anything, drug usage and binge drinking are more common among privileged teenagers than among their less affluent peers.
What is different, however, are the family and community “air bags” that deploy to minimize the negative consequences of drugs and other misadventures among rich kids. …
To be sure, social capital is not the only advantage that privileged kids have in confronting unexpected risks; … financial capital [also provides significant protection from the potentially catastrophic consequences of wayward behavior.]
(p 210)

[Class] segregation across America has been growing for decades, so fewer affluent kids live in poor neighborhoods, and fewer poor kids live in rich neighborhoods.
(p 217)

The pervasive growth of neighborhood economic segregation [first became evident shortly] after the rise in nationwide economic inequality in the 1970s.
The onset and aftermath of the Great Recession in 2008 only accelerated these disparities.
Given the manifold ways in which neighborhood economic differences affect the lives and opportunities open to young people, it is hardly surprising that neighborhood inequality across metropolitan areas is associated with less equality of opportunity.
[Unlike in the mixed neighborhoods of the past:]
  • the benefits of neighborhood affluence are [now] concentrated on rich kids [while]
  • the costs of neighborhood poverty are concentrated on poor kids.
The greater the inequality across neighborhoods,
  • the lower the rate of upward social mobility and
  • the greater the opportunity gap.
[Social] context (even apart from families and schools) powerfully conditions our kids’ chances of success in life.
(p 223, emphasis added)

{This is not the first time in our national history that widening socioeconomic gaps have threatened our economy, our democracy, and our values.}
It took many decades for public high schools to become nearly universal in America, but the High School movement that made America a world leader in economic productivity and social mobility began in earnest in local communities across the nation a century ago.
The essence of that reform was a willingness of better-off Americans to pay for schools that would mainly benefit other people’s kids. …
The specific responses we have pursued to successfully overcome these challenges and restore opportunity have varied in detail, but underlying them all was a commitment to invest in other people’s children.
And underlying that commitment was a deeper sense that those kids, too, were our kids.
(pp 260-1)

Throughout [US] history, a pendulum has slowly swung between the poles of individualism and community, both
  • in our public philosophy and
  • in our daily lives.
In the past half century we have witnessed … a giant swing toward the individualist (or libertarian) pole in our culture, society, and politics.
At the same time, researchers have steadily piled up evidence of how important social context, social institutions, and social networks — in short, our communities — remain for our well-being, and [for] our kids’ opportunities.
(p 206)

(Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis, 2015)


A half century [of] increased competition in the global marketplace, improved information technology, greater focus on short-term financial returns, and new management techniques have combined to make virtually all jobs more "contingent". …
One consequence of these changes has been increased employee anxiety, but there have been winners as well as losers.
More independence from the firm, flatter hierarchies, less paternalism, and more reward for merit and creativity rather than seniority and loyalty have been good for many firms and their employees.
Even when corporate morale and employee commitment have been badly damaged, as they typically are, research often finds that corporate productivity has improved.
[Nevertheless, in terms of] their impact on trust and social connectedness in the workplace … the balance sheet is negative.

(Bowling Alone, Touchstone, 2001, p 88)


A World Without Trust

I've told you about my granddaughter, Miriam …
Mary Sue and Miriam are exactly the same age.
They are both granddaughters of Port Clinton [Ohio] in the 1950s. …
I'm just going to read to you, the field notes from [our meeting with Mary Sue:]
Mary Sue tells a harrowing tale of loneliness, distrust and isolation.
Her parents split up when she was 5.
And her mother turned to stripping and left her alone and hungry for days.
Her dad hooked up with another woman who hit her, refused to feed her, and confined her to room with baby-gates.
Caught trafficking marihuana at 16, Mary Sue … spent several months in a juvenile detention center, failed out of high school and got a "diploma" online.

[Mary Sue's] experiences have left her with a deep seated mistrust of anyone and everyone embodied in the scars on her arms (which we saw) where her boyfriend had burned her in the middle of the night, just a few days earlier.
Mary Sue wistfully recalls her stillborn baby, born when she was 13.
Since breaking up with the baby's dad, who left her for someone else, and with a second fiance who cheated on her after his release from prison, Mary Sue is currently dating an older man with two infants born two months apart to two other women.
And to Mary Sue this feels like the best that she can hope for. …

Mary Sue posted on facebook, not long ago, that she'd figured out her problems.
Her problem, she said, is that no one in the world loves her — which is probably true …
And, she's figured out how to solve that problem.
Mary Sue's going to have baby, because the baby will love her.
And if you think Mary Sue is in a pickle, imagine Mary Sue's baby …

[The] most important feature of the life of a poor kid in America today, bar none, is that poor kids are isolated and alone.
And they don't trust anyone.
They don't trust their parents …
They don't trust schools.
They don't trust anybody.

Mary Sue recently posted on facebook:
Love hurts.
Trust kills.
Think what it means to grow up in a society in which you cannot trust anyone.

(Closing the Opportunity Gap, RSA, 6 October 2015)


Inequality of Outcome = Inequality of Opportunity


John Quiggin: Professor of Economics, Queensland University

Among the developed countries,
  • the United States has the lowest social mobility on nearly all measures, and
  • the European social democracies [have] the highest.
(p 162)

If inequality of outcomes is entrenched for a long period, it inexorably erodes equality of opportunity.
Parents want the best for their children.
In a highly unequal society, wealthy parents will always find a way to guarantee their children a substantial head start {[—] most obviously through private schooling, expansion of which has been a central demand of market liberals. …}
(pp 164-5)

[Between] 1985 and 2000, the proportion of high-income (top 25 percent) students among freshmen at elite [US] institutions rose steadily, from 46 to 55 percent.
[By contrast, the] proportion of middle-income students (between the 25th and 75th percentiles) fell from 41 to 33 percent.
(p 159)

Those with old money, but less than stellar intellectual resources, have their highly effective affirmative action program — the (formal or informal) legacy admission system by which the children of alumni gain preferential admission. …
William Bowen and Derek Bok:
[The] overall admission rate for legacies was almost twice that for all other candidates.
(The Shape of the River: Long-Term Consequences of Considering Race in College and University Admissions, Princeton University Press, 1998)
(p 164)

A British study [has also] found that “low ability children with high economic status” … experienced the largest increases in educational attainment.
(p 164, emphasis added)

The Gini coefficient is a standard statistical measure of inequality.
It is equal to half of the average income gap between households, divided by the mean income.
So if average income is $10,000, then a Gini of 0.25 means that the expected income gap between two randomly selected individuals is:
2 × 0.25 × $10,000 = $5000. …

[In] the 1980s [the] most striking increases in inequality were in Britain under the Thatcher government, where the Gini coefficient rose from 0.25, a value comparable to that of Scandinavian social democracies to 0.33, which is among the highest values for developed countries.

New Zealand [cut] the top marginal rate of income tax from
  • 66% in 1986 to
  • 33% by 1990.
Unsurprisingly, this pushed the Gini index from an initial value 0.26 to 0.33 by the mid-1990s.
(p 140)

When the dust cleared, however, income per person in New Zealand had fallen from broad parity with Australia (a position sustained from European settlement to the late 1970s) to two-thirds of the Australian level.
The gap stabilized around 2000, but has not been reduced.
(p 221)

While the problem is worse in the United States than elsewhere because of highly unequal access to health care, high levels of inequality produce unequal health outcomes even in countries with universal public systems.
Children growing up with the poor health that is systematically associated with poverty can never be said to have a truly equal opportunity.
(p 165)

(Zombie Economics, Princeton University Press, 2012)


Rising mortality among white middle-aged Americans in the 21st century


Anne Case & Angus Deaton: Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and Department of Economics, Princeton University

[There has been] a marked increase in the all-cause mortality of middle-aged white non-Hispanic men and women in the United States between 1999 and 2013.
This change reversed decades of progress in mortality and was unique to the United States; no other rich country saw a similar turnaround.
The midlife mortality reversal was confined to white non-Hispanics …
[In all other] racial and ethnic [groups and age cohorts] mortality rates [have continued to] fall.
This increase for whites was largely accounted for by increasing death rates from
  • drug and alcohol poisonings,
  • suicide, and
  • chronic liver diseases [including] cirrhosis.

Although all education groups saw increases in mortality from suicide and poisonings, and an overall increase in external cause mortality, those with less education saw the most marked increases.
Rising midlife mortality rates of white non-Hispanics were paralleled by increases in midlife morbidity.
Self-reported declines in health, mental health, and ability to conduct activities of daily living, and increases in chronic pain and inability to work, as well as clinically measured deteriorations in liver function, all point to growing distress in this population. …

From 1978 to 1998, the mortality rate for US whites aged 45–54 fell by 2% per year on average, which matched … the average over all other industrialized countries. …
After 1998, other rich countries’ mortality rates continued to decline by 2% a year.
[By] contrast, US white non-Hispanic mortality rose by half a percent a year. …
If it had continued to fall at its previous (1979‒1998) rate of decline of 1.8% per year, 488,500 deaths would have been avoided in the period 1999‒2013, [including] 54,000 in 2013 [alone.]
(p 15078)

[In fact, all white non-hispanic] 5-y age groups between [30–64] have witnessed marked and similar increases in mortality from the sum of drug and alcohol poisoning, suicide, and chronic liver disease and cirrhosis over the period 1999–2013; the midlife group [differed] only in that the sum of these deaths is large enough that the common growth rate changes the direction of all-cause mortality.
(p 15080)

The fraction reporting being unable to work doubled for white non-Hispanics aged 45–54 [over the] 15-y period [— ie increasing from 4.7% to 9.2%. …]

Although the epidemic of pain, suicide, and drug overdoses preceded the financial crisis, ties to economic insecurity are possible.

After the productivity slowdown in the early 1970s, and with widening income inequality, many of the baby-boom generation are the first to find, in midlife, that they will not be better off than were their parents.
Growth in real median earnings has been slow for this group, especially those with only a high school education.
However, the productivity slowdown is common to many rich countries, some of which have seen even slower growth in median earnings than the United States, yet none have had the same mortality experience.

(Rising morbidity and mortality in midlife among white non-Hispanic Americans in the 21st century, PNAS, 112: 49, 8 December 2015, p 15081)


Healing Kansas


Deborah Franklin

Researchers rank US counties according to how they measure up along the following behavioral, clinical, socioeconomic and environmental lines known to contribute to overall health.


Health Checklist

Socioeconomic Factors (40%)Health Behaviors (30%)Clinical Care (20%)Physical Environment (10%)
Education (10%)Smoking (10%)Access to care (10%)Environmental quality (5%)
Employment (10%)Diet and exercise (10%)Quality of care (10%)Built environment (5%)
Income (10%)Alcohol use (5%)
Family and social support (5%)Unsafe sex (5%)
Community safety (5%)


[The] evidence that socieoeconomic factors like education play a major role in health is solid and growing.
[High] school dropouts tend to die earlier than graduates [and] their children are more likely to be born prematurely, robbing another generation of a healthy start.
Every year of additional education improves … outcomes.

(Scientific American, January 2012, p 18)


CONTENTS


Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis

July 23, 2016

Ministry of Plenty

Live Long and Prosper

Heinrich Heine (1797–1856):
Money is the God of our time, and Rothschild is his prophet.
(March 1841)

George Orwell (1903–1950):
[The] rule of money sees to it that we shall be governed largely by the old — that is, by people utterly unable to grasp what age they are living in …
What is wanted is a conscious open revolt by ordinary people against inefficiency, class privilege and the rule of the old.
(The Lion and the Unicorn: Socialism and the English Genius, The Searchlight Books, Vol I, Fyel & Orwell (Eds), Secker & Warburg, 19 February 1941)

Gary Becker:
All human behavior can be viewed as involving participants who:

  1. maximize their utility,
  2. form a stable set of preferences, and
  3. accumulate an optimal amount of information and other inputs in a variety of markets.

(Economic Approaches to Human Behavior, UCP, 1976, p 14)

John Quiggin [Professor of Economics, Queensland University]:
[In the 1970s, those economists] who wanted to restore the pre-Keynesian purity of classical macroeconomics … became known as the New Classical school.
Their key idea was what they called "rational expectations," which, in its strongest form, required all participants in an economy to have, in their minds, a complete and accurate model of that economy.
John Muth (1930–2005):
[Rational expectations are] those that agree with the predictions of the relevant economic model.
(Zombie Economics, Princeton University Press, 2012, p 94)

Alexander Hamilton (1756–1804):
Why has government been instituted at all?
Because the passions of men will not conform to the dictates of reason and justice without constraint.
(Federalist No 15 Papers, 17 September 1787)

Chuang Tzu:
What would become of business without a market of fools?

P W Singer:
For all the claims that “big government” can never match the private sector, [the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency] is the ultimate rebuttal.
The Internet … e-mail, cell phones, computer graphics, weather satellites, fuel cells, lasers, night vision, and the Saturn V rockets [that first took man to the moon] all originated at DARPA. …
DARPA works by investing money in research ideas years before any other agency, university, or venture capitalists on Wall Street think they are fruitful enough to fund.
DARPA doesn’t focus on running its own secret labs, but instead spends 90% of its (official) budget of $3.1 billion on university and industry researchers …
(Wired for War, Penguin, 2009, p 140)

Niall Ferguson:
The first era of financial globalization took at least a generation to achieve.
But it was blown apart in a matter of days.
And it would take more than two generations to repair the damage done by the guns of August 1914.
(The Ascent of Money, Penguin, 2008, p 304)

Andrew Carnegie (1835–1919):
  • Individualism,
  • Private Property,
  • the Law of Accumulation of Wealth, and
  • the Law of Competition
[are] the highest results of human experience [—] the best and most valuable of all that humanity has yet accomplished.

Peter Singer:
L Ron Hubbard [(1911– 1986),] the founder of the Church of Scientology, once wrote that the quickest way to make a million in America is to start a new religion.
(How Are We to Live?, 1993, p 94)

Simone Campbell [Catholic Nun]:
[We were] doing business roundtables [with] some entrepreneur, CEO types. …
A report had just come out that that the average CEO … got $10 million in salary a year, and [that] they were going for $11 million.
I got to ask them:
Is it that you're not getting by on $10 million that you need $11 million?
I don't get it.
And this one guy said: …
Oh, no Sister Simone. …
It's not about the money. …
It's that we want to win.
And money just happens to be the current measure of winning.
(Quoted by Krista Tippett, Becoming Wise, Corsair, 2016, p 129)

Alexis de Tocqueville (1805–1859):
The people may always be mentally divided into three distinct classes.
  • The first of these classes consists of the wealthy;
  • the second, of those who are in easy circumstances; and
  • the third is composed of those who have little or no property, and who subsist more especially by the work which they perform for the two superior orders.
(Democracy in America, 1835, Bantam, 2011, p 246)


Breakdown of the Top 1% by Income (2012)
Percentile% of Total Income% of Total Income Tax
P99-10021.938.1
  P99.999-1002.43.3
  P99.99-99.9993.18.3
  P99.90-99.995.510.3
  P99.0-99.910.919.5
P50-9967.059.1
P0-5011.12.8

The Anatomy of the One Percent


Adrian Dungan

For 2012, the [US Adjusted Gross Income (AGI)] threshold for:
  • [The] top 0.001% of tax returns [was] $62,068,187 or more [≈ $170,000 per day or 1700 times median income.]
    These taxpayers accounted for 2.4% of total AGI, and paid 3.3% of total income tax.
  • The top 0.01% of tax returns [was] $12,104,014 or more [≈ $33,000 per day or 330 times the median income.]
    These taxpayers accounted for 5.5% of total AGI, and paid 8.3% of total income tax.
  • [The top 0.1% of tax returns [was] $2,161,175 or more [≈ $6,000 per day or 60 times the median income.]
    These taxpayers accounted for 11% of total AGI, and paid 18.6% of total income tax.]
  • The top 1% of tax returns [was] $434,682 or more [≈ $1200 per day or 12 times median the income.]
    These taxpayers accounted for 21.9% of total AGI and paid 38.1% of total income tax.
  • [The] top 50% of all tax returns was $36,055 for the year [≈ $100 per day = median income.]
    These taxpayers accounted for 88.9% of total AGI and paid 97.2% of total income tax.

(Individual Income Tax Shares, 2012, IRS Statistics of Income Bulletin, Spring 2015)


peaceandlonglife

  • This is equivalent to the wealthiest individual in a group of 100 being paid twice as much as the poorest 50 combined.
  • The richest 1/100,000 part of the population captures a 1/40 share of aggregate income.
  • Each of the richest 1 in 100,000 accrues the lifetime median income (~ 50 years) every 10 days.
  • Conversely, a person (and their descendents) on the median income would need to work for 17 centuries (or 34 working lifetimes) to earn as much as the richest 1 in 100,000 get in a single year.
  • By definition, half the population earn less than the median income.
  • In 2005, 40% the global population (2.6 billion people) were living on less than $2 per day.


Bertrand Russell (1872-1970)

[Private economic] power within a State … can influence
  • [the] law by corruption and
  • public opinion by propaganda.
It can put politicians under obligations which interfere with their freedom.
It can threaten to cause a financial crisis.
But there are very definite limits to what it can achieve. …

[Where] the issue is simple and public opinion is definite, the plutocracy is powerless …
[Where] public opinion is undecided, or baffled by the complexity of the issue, the plutocracy can secure a desired political result. …

[The plutocracy has hitherto] been unable to
  • introduce Asiatic labour in California or Australia, except in [the] early days in small numbers. …
  • destroy trade unionism …
  • avoid heavy taxation of the rich [or]
  • prevent socialist propaganda. …

[The trade unions, for their part,] have failed … to keep in power governments which they liked but which a majority of the nation distrusted.

[The] power of economic organisations to influence political decisions in a democracy is limited by public opinion, which, on many important issues, refuses to be swayed even by very intensive propaganda.
Democracy, where it exists, has more reality than many opponents of capitalism are willing to admit.

(Power: A New Social Analysis, 1938, pp 85-6, emphasis added)


Ha Joon Chang

Reader in Political Economy and Development, Cambridge University

[Nineteenth century 'classical' liberals rejected] the conservative view that tradition and social hierarchy should have priority over individual rights.
[On the other hand, they] believed that not everyone was worthy of such rights.
They thought women lacked full mental faculties and thus did not deserve the right to vote.
They also insisted that poor people should not be given the right to vote, since they [feared that] the poor would vote in politicians who would [redistribute wealth. …]

[Twentieth century neo-liberals, by contrast,] do not oppose democracy [in principle.]
[In practice, however, many would be prepared, where necessary, to] sacrifice democracy [to defend] private property and the free market.

(Economics: The User's Guide: A Pelican Introduction, 2014, emphasis added)


Equality of Freedom


John Galbraith (1908–2006)

A self-serving branch of moral philosophy has been devised to defend the right of the affluent to freedom of choice [which neglects to mention] the way bad public services (like the absence of income itself) abridge the freedom of the poor.
(p xxiv)

[A secular] instinct for Social Darwinism still lurks in our time [that, ironically, combines with a] fundamentalist theology that holds that property is God's natural reward for the worthy.
The poor, meanwhile, have the comfort of knowing they … will pass [more] easily into the next world to enjoy, along with the meek, full compensation for the miseries of this existence.
The relevant and supporting texts and sermons are amply available from the religious broadcasters and the Moral Majority.
(p xxvi)

(The Affluent Society, 4th Ed, Penguin, 1984)


Isaiah Berlin (1909–1997)

[Total] liberty for wolves is death to [lambs.]
[Total] liberty of the powerful [and] the gifted, is not compatible with the rights to a decent existence of the weak and less gifted. …
Equality may demand the restraint of the liberty of those who wish to dominate … in order
  • to make room for social welfare,
  • to feed the hungry,
  • to clothe the naked,
  • to shelter the homeless,
  • to leave room for the liberty of others, [and]
  • to allow justice or fairness to exercised.

(The Pursuit of the Ideal, The Crooked Timber of Humanity: Chapters in the History of Ideas, 1990)


Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)

Under pretence of governing, they have divided their nations into two classes:
  • wolves and
  • sheep.
Experience declares that Man is the only animal that devours its own kind.
For I can apply no milder term to the governments of Europe.
And to the general prey of the rich [upon] the poor.

(Letter to Colonel Edward Carrington, 16 January 1787)


Karl Popper (1902–1994)

[The] paradox of freedom, first discovered by Plato, … can be expressed by saying that unlimited freedom leads to its opposite, since without its protection and restriction by law, freedom must lead to a tyranny of the strong over the weak.
This paradox … was solved by Kant, who demanded that the freedom of each man should be restricted, but not beyond what is necessary to safeguard an equal degree of freedom for all.

(The Open Society and Its Enemies, 5th Ed, 1966, Routledge, pp 257-8)


PBS Frontline

There was a phrase — "ripping someone's face off" — that was used on the trading floor to describe when you sold something to a client who didn't understand it and you were able to extract a massive fee because they didn't understand it.
[This was seen as] a good thing because [you were] making more money for the bank.
[That] sort of spirit, of [acting against the best interests of] your client … took on significant life on Wall Street.

(Money, Power and Wall Street, 2012)


Kid Power Conference, Disney World

Kids love advertising: it's a gift — it's something they want.
There's something to said … about getting there first, and about branding children and owning them in that way. …
In boy's advertising, it is an aggressive pattern [—] antisocial behavior in pursuit of a product is a good thing.


CONTENTS


Simon Marginson: The Secibd Gilded Age

Robert Putnam: Freedom And Justice For All

William Goetzmann: Debt and Deficit in the 18th Century

George Megalogenis: Tax Cuts of the Rich, Spending Cuts for the Poor

Adrian Dugan: The Anatomy of the Top 1%

Paul Krugman: The Great Divergence

David Stuckler: Life, Death and Austerity

Mark Blyth: No Bailouts

Michael Lewis: High Frequency Theft

Koctopus: One Dollar, One Vote

Al Gore: The Robber Barons Ride Again

Robert Manne: After The (Neoliberal) Revolution

Paul Piff: Noblesse Oblige

Anne Manne: Producers vs Parasites

John Hewson: Budget of the Century

Alex Gibney: All I ask for is an unfair advantage

Choosing Inequality

Richard Wilkinson: Inequality and Progress

Robert Johnson: Heads I win — Tails you lose.

Satyajit Das: (LIBOR^2 x 1/LIBOR) – (LIBOR^4 x LIBOR^-3) = ?

A Culture of Greed

Paul Krugman: Gambling with Civilization

Mike Pottenger: Rich Man, Poor Man

The Economist: A True Progressivism

Michael Robinson: The Restoration of the Plutocracy

Charles Ferguson: Inside Job

Joseph Stiglitz: Financial Alchemy

July 13, 2016

Tom Switzer

Blue Army: Persons of Interest

Tom Switzer:
[Privatisation] would say to the ABC management:
You can put on as much Left wing ideological, tainted, journalism as you like — be frank about it — but just not at tax-payers expense. …
[And,] you'd be saving taxpayers up to more than million dollars every year …
Some programs, clearly, would not sell.
And others would continue to aggravate people like me.
But the point is, at least taxpayers would not be forced to pay for it. …

[Then] of course you've got this digital evolution … that's costing jobs … it's threatening the very viability of newspapers …
And let's be frank, when Rupert Murdoch goes, its highly unlikely that good quality flagship papers like the Australian will prevail.
In that environment, why should a tax-payer funded, free-to-the-consumer competitor, be allowed to expand on their turf?
There's something fundamentally unfair about that. …

My point is, that with the bias there and the changing media landscape, I don't think the ABC can be a public service broadcaster …

All things considered, the ABC News is more professional and it covers the big issues of the day in more detail than the commercial networks.
But my point is: [there's] a plethora of [digital] news and media [out there …]
[These] days, people … can read the New York Times or the Guardian newspaper online — we're well informed.
Do we need a publicly funded broadcaster to fill us in on those issues? …

[If, as the polls indicate, public broadcasting has 89% support in the community, why] would the marketplace let [such a] valuable franchise die?
If it were a commercially viable entity … how would privatising lead to diminishing the quality of it's product?
(Should the ABC be privatised?, Counterpoint, ABC Radio National, 10 June 2013)

peaceandlonglife:
Trump does not have a plan.
He is the plan.




(Adriana Bosch, Eisenhower, PBS American Experience, 1993)


The Wrong Side History


Dwight Eisenhower (1890-1969):
Neither a wise man or a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him.
(6 October 1952)

Tom Switzer:
I'm joined by [Nigel Lawson] the chairman of The Global Warming Policy Foundation
[Nigel, do] you think there will come a time when historians will look back at the past decade or so and say that this climate hysteria reached its peak and rational debate was at its most restricted and politicians at their most gullible?

Nigel Lawson:
Yes, I think that this will be seen … as one of these outbreaks of collective madness which happen from time to time …
(New climate deal faces hurdles, Between The Lines, ABC Radio National, 21 May 2015)

Tom Switzer:
[Patricia Adams is the author of a recent report from] The Global Warming Policy Foundation in London. …
[Patricia, there are those that] insist that climate change represents such a grave threat to humanity … that the world has no choice but to … end fossil fuels entirely.
Is history on their side?

Patricia Adams:
No, it's not on their side.
Countries that have developed in the last 200 to 300 years have done so because of the use of fossil fuels.
Fossil fuels have empowered our economies:
  • to raise standards of living, [and]
  • to provide jobs for people.
The key … is to use fossil fuels cleanly. …
And when I say cleanly, I mean to get rid of the emissions that come out of them that kill people …
CO2 is not a killer. …
I don't think CO2 is as dangerous as some of the other forms of energy.
It may be a problem, we have to keep a watch on it, but I don't think that it solves any problem by saying we've got to eliminate fossil fuels:
  • [firstly, it's not] going to happen … certainly not in [the] foreseeable future [and]
  • [secondly,] what about the alternatives that are being proposed?
    They also cause environmental problems …
[The Paris climate change agreement is just] a cash-grab … by the developing countries. …
(Is China really showing 'leadership' on tackling climate change?, Counterpoint, 31 October 2016)

Freeman Dyson [Academic Advisor, Global Warming Policy Foundation]:
[The problems caused by global warming] are being grossly exaggerated.
They take away money and attention from other problems that are much more urgent and important.
Poverty, infectious diseases, public education and public health.
Not to mention the preservation of living creatures on land and in the oceans.
(Commencement Address, University of Michigan, Winter 2005)

[The] environmental movement [has been] hijacked by a bunch of climate fanatics, who have captured the attention of the public with scare stories. …
China and India have a simple choice to make.
Either they get rich [by burning prodigious quantities of coal and causing] a major increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide, or they stay poor.
I hope they choose to get rich. …
The good news is that the main effect of carbon dioxide … on the planet is to make [it] greener, [by] feeding the growth of green plants of all kinds [and] increasing the fertility of farms and fields and forests.
(Misunderstandings, questionable beliefs mar Paris climate talks, Boston Globe, 3 December 2015)

Miranda Devine:
Environmentalism is the powerful new secular religion and politically correct scientists are its high priests …
It used to be men in purple robes who controlled us; soon it will be men in white lab coats.
The geeks shall inherit the earth.
(Quoted by John Quiggan, Innovation: the test is yet to come, Inside Story, 10 December 2015)

Peter Van Onselen [Associate Professor in Politics and Government, Edith Cowan University; Contributing Editor, The Australian]:
[According to Miranda Devine, the Delcons (Delusional Conservatives) believe] the Liberals should lose the election.
[That] it's better for the Liberals to lose to Labor.
And there is a candle being held to the possibility of a Tony Abbott comeback. …
Andrew Bolt decided he was one …
Nick Cater from the Menzies Research Centre …
[Tom Switzer's] definitely a Delcon.
(Gambling on Turnbull, Late Night Live, ABC Radio National, 7 September 2016)


The Scientific American


George Washington (1732—1799):
There is nothing which can better deserve our patronage than the promotion of science and literature.
Knowledge is, in every country, the surest basis of public happiness.
(Address to Congress, 8 January 1790)

John Kennedy (1917—1963):
We choose to go to the Moon.
We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard. …

We have vowed that we shall not see space filled with weapons of mass destruction, but with instruments of knowledge and understanding. …

And [so,] as we set sail, we ask God's blessing, on the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked.
(Rice University Address on the Nation's Space Effort, Houston, Texas, 2 September 1962)

Ronald Reagan (1911—2004):
Why should we subsidize intellectual curiosity?
(Campaign Speech, 1980)

Larry Marshall (CEO, CSIRO):
[We're making] a fundamental shift away from curiosity-led research …
(The inconvenient scientists, Background Briefing, ABC Radio National, 29 May 2016)

Donald Trump:
Science is science and facts are facts.


Grading the US Presidential Candidates on Science
(Christine Gorman & Ryan Mandelbaum, Scientific American, 26 September 2016)

HillaryDonald
Total Score64/957/95
Innovation4/51/5
Research2/51/5
Climate Climate4/50/5
Clinton acknowledges that "climate change is an urgent threat and a defining challenge of our time."
She outlines a [10 year plan:]
  • "to generate half of our electricity from clean sources,"
  • to cut "energy waste" [in homes, hospitals and schools] by a third and
  • to "reduce American oil consumption by a third" …
To achieve these goals she plans to "implement and build on" current "pollution and efficiency standards and clean energy tax incentives."
Clinton loses a point for not saying where she will find the money to pay for such initiatives.
Trump refers to "climate change" in quotation marks, apparently to signal that he still believes — as he has asserted in the past — that human-caused global warming is a hoax.
Then he suggests that "our limited financial resources" are best spent on things such as clean water and anti-malaria efforts, without acknowledging the argument that the success of such efforts could be largely influenced by how climate change is addressed.
Biodiversity3/50/5
Clinton says "climate change, pollution, habitat destruction," and other forces "pose serious threats to biodiversity and our way of life."
She mentions plans "to double the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants" to help communities and tribal nations conserve various types of wildlife "before they become threatened or endangered."
She also wants to "establish an American Parks Trust Fund" to "modernize how we protect and enhance our natural treasures."
Clinton loses points for not discussing the funding or execution of these plans.
Trump blames "agencies filled with unelected officials" for "writing rules and regulations" that "cater to special interests."
He says there should be a "shared governance of our public lands" and that "state and local governments" should be empowered to protect "wildlife and fisheries."
A healthy ecosystem—crucial to the survival of humans and other species—is not a "special interest."
The Internet3/51/5
Mental Health3/51/5
Energy5/50/5
Clinton "rejects the notion that we as a country are forced to choose between
  • our economy,
  • our environment, and
  • our security."
She hopes to … install "half a billion solar panels" by the end of her first term.
She plans to:
  • launch "a $60 billion clean energy challenge to partner with states, cities, and rural communities to cut carbon pollution and expand clean energy;"
  • invest "in clean energy infrastructure, innovation, manufacturing and workforce development;" …
  • [reform] "leasing and expand clean energy production on public lands and waters tenfold within a decade;"
  • [cut] "the billions of wasteful tax subsidies [handed out to] oil and gas companies;" [and]
  • "cut methane emissions."
Her detailed plan includes specific funds required and how she will work alongside climate change deniers.
Trump says Americans should "achieve energy independence as soon as possible," and that "a thriving market system" will allow for a consumers to pick "the best sources of energy for future consumption."
Scientific American has previously reported on why the free market alone cannot stop climate change and has characterized the goal of "energy independence" as a bipartisan pipe dream.
Trump fails to provide any details for his energy policy.
Education3/50/5
Clinton lists statistics including that "less than one in five high school students has ever taken a computer science course."
She supports President Barack Obama's existing "Computer Science for All" initiative, and hopes to "train an additional 50,000 [computer science] teachers in the next decade."
She mentions plans to support states that develop "innovative schools" and to support diverse institutions, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
More than one reader wrote to Scientific American criticizing her response for focusing too much on "computer science."
Trump says "there are a host of STEM programs already in existence," and wants to focus on "market influences to bring better, higher quality educational circumstances to more children."
Yet recent investigations of private education companies such as ITT — not to mention Trump University — for deceptive advertising practices, among other things, make clear that the for-profit education industry is no panacea.
Public Health4/50/5
Clinton argues that "we are not investing in public health preparedness and emergency response the way we should," and backs up her claim with evidence showing that "spending on public health had fallen more than 9% since 2008."
She says she plans to address the problem in part by creating a "Public Health Rapid Response Fund" that offers "consistent, year-to-year budgets, to better enable" public health officials "to quickly and aggressively respond to major public health crises and pandemics."
Clinton loses a point for not detailing how much money she thinks the rapid response budget should contain or how it will be funded.
Trump suggests that "in a time of limited resources," public health spending may not provide "the greatest bang for the buck."
In fact, studies show that public health efforts typically offer returns on investment of between 125% and 3,900%, depending on the program.
Trump offers no indication that he has grappled with the issue in any detail.
He also states that he will work with Congress to make sure that "adequate resources are assigned to achieve our goals" — not noting that Congress has still declined, as of press time, to approve money to deal with the Zika threat that has emerged in the southern US.
Water4/50/5
Clinton says she worries about our country's "chronic underinvestment" in drinking and wastewater systems, and is concerned with risks to humans, wildlife and ecosystems.
She hopes to "invest in infrastructure" to modernize water resources and that the federal government will be a "better partner" to "improve water security" on the local level.
She adds that she would like to create a "Western Water Partnership" to handle these issues in the west and to establish a "Water Innovation Lab" to bring farmers, engineers, entrepreneurs and others together to deal with water issues.
She does not outline a time schedule or monetary assessment of these plans.
Trump says water "may be the most important issue we face as a nation for the next generation," but offers no solutions other than "making desalinization more affordable."
But as one reader noted, we "cannot desalinate our way out of the problem."
Increasing supply without boosting conservation and reuse is not sustainable.
Meanwhile, Trump told a crowd at a rally in Fresno that "there is no drought" in California.
His inconsistencies earn him zero points.
Nuclear Power3/51/5
Food2/50/5
Clinton proposes to do more to "support family farms," which made up 97% of farm operations in the US in 2011.
She also plans to expand investment in the rural economy and health care.
Most of her answer is based on economic arguments and does not address using "objective knowledge from science," as described in the question.
Trump thinks that "the agriculture industry should be free to seek its best solutions through the market system," but offers no guidance on how to unravel the hundreds of millions of dollars invested in the industry via
  • federal subsidies,
  • government-funded agricultural research and
  • government-led international market development.
Global Challenges3/50/5
Clinton says she would like to "appoint our country's first Special Envoy for Climate Change" and make climate policy "a key part of our broader relationship with China" and others.
She plans to cut emissions by "at least 80 percent of 2005 levels by mid century" through "more clean energy investment in emerging economies" and other methods.
She would like to create a "dedicated Rapid Response Fund" and "comprehensive global health strategy" to help "shore up our defenses" against epidemics and pandemics.
Clinton loses points for offering plenty of facts but few specifics as to what multilateral partnerships or a comprehensive global health strategy will look like.
Trump believes that "a prosperous America is a much better partner in tackling global problems."
And yet, there is little evidence that wealth automatically translates into better decisions on a variety of issues.
The gross domestic product of the US is one of the highest of any country in the world according to the CIA's The World Factbook, but the US is also one of the top greenhouse gas emitters and ranks 31st in life expectancy, according to the World Health Organization.
Trump’s answer is built on an incorrect premise.
Regulations3/50/5
Clinton says "it is essential that environmental, health, and energy regulations, among other areas, use the best available science to guide decision-making."
She does not, however, address how to maintain a thriving business sector without compromising American health and the environment.
Trump says we must balance a "thriving economy" with resources and "protecting citizens from threats," and that "science will inform our decisions."
These assertions are inconsistent with previous false statements on climate change and vaccine safety rendered throughout his campaign.
Vaccination4/51/5
Space2/51/5
Opioids4/50/5
Clinton touches on a variety of concerns, which shows that she has thoroughly engaged in the issue.
Among other things, she wants to allow first responders to administer naloxone (an anti-overdose treatment).
Trump focuses on illicit drug smuggling, leaving out the arguably larger problem of addiction to prescription drugs.
He asserts that he can stop the flow of opioids into the US but offers no details on how he would change current drug enforcement policy, demonstrating a near-total lack of understanding of the issue.
Ocean Health4/50/5
Clinton promises to "oppose efforts in Congress that seek to weaken" current legislation against overfishing in US Waters.
She also promises to "act globally to address the fisheries crisis" as well as the negative impact of rising temperature and acidification of ocean water.
Trump does not mention the ocean, fish, fisheries, coral reefs or coastlines in his answer.
Scientific Integrity4/50/5
Clinton recognizes one of the largest issues in objective science: conflicts of interest that can lead to self-serving results.
(A prime example: the recent realization that some companies had suppressed or redirected scientific findings regarding sugar's effect on coronary heart disease.)
While her answer can use more detail, it demonstrates a willingness to fight for evidence-based knowledge rather than results that are politically or economically driven.
Trump says "science is science and facts are facts," and yet his campaign has repeatedly demonstrated an utter disregard for facts.
His PolitiFact scorecard shows more than two thirds of his statements to be "Mostly False," "False," or "Pants on Fire," which is unprecedented in its evaluation of politicians.
In an evaluation sent to us, a college instructor from Michigan characterized Trump's response to this question "as so simplistic that it made me concerned that he may not actually understand the scientific method or the government structures that support it."


Populism in America


Alexis Clérel (1805–1859): Viscount of Tocqueville

General Jackson, whom the Americans have twice elected to the head of their Government, is a man of a violent temper and mediocre talents; no one circumstance in the whole course of his career ever proved that he is qualified to govern a free people, and indeed the majority of the enlightened classes of the Union has always been opposed to him. …
(p 335)

We have been told that … he is an energetic man, prone by nature and by habit to the use of force, covetous of power, and a despot by taste.
(p 479)

It is by perpetually flattering [the passions of the people] that he maintains his station and his popularity.
General Jackson is the slave of the majority:
  • he yields to its wishes, its propensities, and its demands;
  • say rather, that he anticipates and forestalls them. …

General Jackson stoops to gain the favor of the majority, but when he feels that his popularity is secure, he overthrows all obstacles in the pursuit
  • of the objects which the community approves, or
  • of those which it does not look upon with a jealous eye.
(p 480)

He is supported by a power with which his predecessors were unacquainted; and he tramples on his personal enemies whenever they cross his path with a facility which no former President [has] ever enjoyed …
(p 481)

(Democracy in America, Vol I, 1835, Bantam, 2011)


In Trump We Trust: From Reality Television to Fantasy Government


Nicolas de Caritat (1743–1794) [Marquis de Condorcet]:
If we cannot find voters who are sufficiently enlightened, we must avoid making a bad choice by accepting as candidates, only those men in whose competence we can trust.
(1785)

William King (1874–1950) [Prime Minister of Canada, 1921-26, 1926-30, 1935-48):
The extreme man is always more or less dangerous, but nowhere more so than in politics.
(Quoted by Margaret MacMillan, History's People, Text, 2015, p 51)

Don Watson:
Noble and creative as it has often been, provider of an essential thread in the best of the American ideal and source of a rare grace one encounters only in the United States, American Christianity also disguises fear and feeds ignorance, paranoia and prejudice, along with a readiness to smite enemies with weapons of unspeakable destructive force.
(Enemy Within: American Politics in the Time of Trump, Quarterly Essay, Issue 63, 2016, p 23)

Alice Miranda Ollstein [Political Reporter]:
According to a book written by [Argentinian President] Macri’s father Franco, Trump threw a tantrum after losing a round of golf to Mauricio Macri and broke his friend’s golf clubs — one by one.
(There is a lot more to the Trump Argentina story, ThinkProgress, 23 November 2016)

Ying Ma [Deputy Director of a Trump Super PAC, The Committee for American Sovereignty]:
[We] know that in state-craft, every now and then, to be unpredictable is not such a bad thing in negotiations. …
One of the reasons Donald Trump won is that … he is able to simplify a lot of issues that the GOP have not been able to simplify for voters …
(The Trump victory, Between The Lines, ABC Radio National, 10 November 2016)

John Quiggin:
[In the late 1990s, when debating about the Great Depression, Real Business Cycle advocates] downplayed the huge downturn in output between 1929 and 1933, focusing instead on the slowness of the subsequent recovery, which they blamed, unsurprisingly, on Franklin D Roosevelt and the New Deal.
(Zombie Economics, Princeton University Press, 2012, p 101)


Mary Kissel: Editorial Board Member, Wall Street Journal

The American people were discontented with the economic malaise that we have seen over the Obama presidency.
We have had the worst recovery since the Great Depression …
{[In] a normal recovery America would grow 4-5% a year and what President Obama did was tax and spend, and crush the private sector in red tape and so [we] didn't get the normal bounce-back recovery. …
So when you hear that there's some sort of new normal out there and we should just accept this kind of growth; well it isn't normal and Americans don't accept that level of growth …}

Voters repudiated government paternalism.
The Obama administration have injected … an enormous about of regulatory diktat on the American public.
They've inflicted:
  • their cultural mores in the forms of transgender bathrooms …
  • their law suits against Catholic nuns, and
  • their views on religion.
[This] is a very strong message to the Democratic party that the American people simply reject their big government, high tax liberalism.
They want to return to growth and they want to return to American leadership in the world …


2016Donald (1946)Hillary (1947)
Popular Vote45.95%48.04%
Electoral Vote56.50%42.20%

2000George WAl
Popular Vote47.87%48.38%
Electoral Vote50.4%49.4%

Edward Rosenthal:
Since 1824, three different presidential candidates have lost the popular vote but won the election:
  • Rutherford B Hayes in 1876,
  • Benjamin Harrison in 1888, and
  • George W Bush in 2000.
(The Complete Idiot's Guide To Game Theory, 2011, p 187)

[Hillary won the popular vote by 2,865,075 and lost the electoral vote by 77.]
Among the 24,537 respondents to the CNN exit poll, 47% voted for Donald (vs 50% for Hillary):]
  • 42% of women [and 53% of men (vs the 54% of women and 41% of men for Hillary) …]
  • a larger percentage of the black vote than Mitt Romney — 8%, [and]
  • 29% of latinos and asians …

peaceandlonglife:
53% of respondents approved of Barack Obama as president, of whom 84% (45% of all respondents) voted for Hillary.
Over 50% of respondents had a unfavorable opinion of each candidate:
  • Donald (60%)
  • Hillary (54%)
  • Both (18%)
69% were dissatisfied/angry with the federal government, of whom 58% (40% of all respondents) voted for Donald.
50% thought the government was doing too much, of whom 73% (36% of all respondents) voted for Donald.
45% thought the government was doing too little, of whom 74% (33% of all respondents) voted for Hillary.

62% thought the country was on the wrong track, of whom 69% (43% of all respondents) voted for Donald.
39% felt that being a change agent was what mattered most in a candidate, of whom 83% (32% of all respondents) voted for Donald.

66% of were from suburban or rural areas, of whom 53% (35% of all respondents) voted for Donald.
Of the 34% from urban areas, 59% (25% of all respondents) voted for Hillary.

64% reported earning $50,000 or more, of whom 49% (31% of all respondents) voted for Donald (vs 47% for Hillary).
Of the 36% who earned less than $50,000, 52% (19% of all respondents) voted for Hillary (vs 41% for Donald).

70% were white, of whom 58% (41% of all respondents) voted for Donald:
  • 63% (21% of all respondents) of white men, and
  • 53% (20% of all respondents) of white women.
50% had a college degree, of whom 52% voted for Hillary (vs 43% for Donald):
  • 49% (18% of all respondents) of whites with a degree voted for Donald (vs 45% for Hillary),
    • 54% (9% of all respondents) of white men with a degree voted for Donald, while
    • 51% (10% of all respondents) of white women with a degree voted for Hillary,
  • 71% (9% of all respondents) of non-whites with a degree voted for Hillary.
Of the 50% who did not have a degree, 52% voted for Donald (vs 44% for Hillary):
  • 67% (23% of all respondents) of whites without a degree voted for Donald, while
  • 75% (12% of all respondents) of non-whites without a degree voted for Hillary.

[I wouldn't] classify Colin Powell as a Republican.
[He backed] President Obama. …

[Foreign] policy is a concern with Donald Trump.
He doesn't seem to know much about the world. …
What isn't known is [whether what says about the alliance system and trade protectionism] is simply a negotiating ploy from the guy who wrote "The Art of the Deal'; [a guy] who takes an extreme [ambit position before moving to a] more reasonable stance when he's actually at the negotiating table — we just don't know.
The idea that Trump would abandon American alliances in Asia is absurd.

[The liberal] media often takes Trump literally, when he speaks … because that's how they've treated every other president, but … Donald Trump is [not] like any other president …
They've called him a fascist — I don't believe that he's that …
I believe [that] we have a system of checks and balances [in this country] and that it will function very well …
I caution against hearing his words and taking him literally, I don't think that's how we can hear him and understand him. …

Climate change, for the left, means imposing an enormous amount of regulation and cost on the American consumer, and it means favoring certain politically connected industries namely solar and wind, and that is probably going to go away with the Donald Trump presidency, and that's not a bad thing. …
The American people were [also] concerned that a Clinton presidency would usher in a Supreme Court that simply made up the law to suit the liberal progressive agenda; [and, they] voted resoundingly against Obamacare …

peaceandlonglife:
30% of respondents indicated supreme court appointments were not an important voting issue.
Of the 70% for whom it was important:
  • 50% (35% of all respondents) voted for Donald, while
  • 46% (32% of all respondents) supported Hillary.
75% were Christians, of whom 56% (42% of all respondents) voted for Donald, including:
  • 81% (21% of all respondents) of white born-again or evangelical Christians,
  • 52% (12% of all respondents) of Catholics, and
  • 61% (1% of all respondents) of Mormons.
47% thought Obamacare went "too far", of whom 83% (39% of all respondents) voted for Donald.

{In many respects Donald Trump is a leap of faith.
We know there is at least a potential upside with him on the economic growth front.
Whereas, [with Hillary Clinton, there was] zero economic upside [combined with a record of] many poor decisions [such as] the Iran deal and … the Russian reset with Putin.
So voters did have a clear choice, and now we're going to live with the consequences.}

(The Trump victory, Between The Lines, ABC Radio National, 10 November 2016)


Exit Poll 2016


CNN Politics

Each candidate was considered dishonest/untrustworthy by over 60% of 24,537 respondents:
  • Donald (63%)
  • Hillary (61%)
  • Both (29%)
63% thought Donald did not have the right temperament to be president (vs 43% for Hillary).
However, of these, 20% (13% of all respondents) voted for him anyway.
Of the 14% who thought neither candidate had the right temperament, 71% (10% of all respondents) voted for Donald.

49% had an unfavorable view of the Democratic Party, of whom 85% (42% of all respondents) voted for Donald.
55% had an unfavorable view of the Republican Party, of whom 73% (40% of all respondents) voted for Hillary.

63% felt the state of the national economy was poor, of whom 63% (40% of all respondents) voted for Donald.
31% thought the financial situation had improved in the last 4 years, while 27% thought it had worsened.
A greater proportion thought Donald (49%) would better handle the economy than Hillary (46%).
However, of the 52% who thought the economy was the most important issue facing the country:
  • 52% (27% of all respondents) voted for Hillary, while
  • 42% (22% of all respondents) voted for Donald.

45% were bothered "a lot" by Hillary's use of private email, of whom 87% (39% of all respondents) voted for Donald.
43% thought the US criminal justice system treated everyone fairly, of whom 74% (32% of all respondents) voted for Donald.
56% were aged 45 and older, of whom 53% (30% of all respondents) voted for Donald.
13% were veterans, of whom 61% (8% of all respondents) voted for Donald.

50% of native born Americans voted for Donald (vs 45% for Hillary).
70% of respondents thought illegal immigrants working in the US should be offered legal status, of whom 60% (42% of all respondents) voted for Hillary.
Of the 25% who thought they should be deported, 84% (21% of all respondents) voted for Donald.
41% supported a wall along the entire Mexican border, of whom 86% (35% of all respondents) voted for Donald.
13% thought that immigration was the most important issue facing the country, of whom 64% (8% of all respondents) voted for Donald.

65% were Liberal or Moderate in ideology, of whom 65% (42% of all respondents) voted for Hillary.
Of the 35% who were Conservative, 81% (28% of all respondents) voted for Donald.
48% of Independents voted for Donald (vs 42% for Hillary).

13% made their voting decision in the last week, of whom 47% (6% of all respondents) voted for Donald and 42% (5% of all respondents) for Hillary.


Government of the People, by the President, for the President (and his family)


No … person holding any office of profit or trust under [the United States,] shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.
(Emoluments Clause, Article I, Section 9, Clause 8, US Constitution)

Judd Legum: Editor-In-Chief

Donald Trump is leveraging his new position as president-elect to empower his business empire …
Instead of liquidating his assets and placing them in a Qualified Diversified Trust, as President Bush did, or investing in index funds and government bonds, as President Obama did, Trump has done nothing.

He’s waved away concerns about conflicts-of-interest, saying that he would just hand over control of his business interests to his children.
He called this a “blind trust” but it is actually the [complete] opposite.
A blind trust is when you hand marketable assets over to a neutral third party to control.
The contents of the trust, since they can be traded at any time by the administrator, are soon unknown to you.
Trump knows what his assets are and says he is handing them to his children.

Immediately after Trump’s election, he named three of his adult children — Ivanka, Eric, and Donald Jr — to his transition team.
This means the same people running the Trump Organization will also be choosing the top officials in the Trump administration. …
[And since] Trump will retain ownership in his businesses, [success of those businesses] will mean money in Trump’s pocket.

(This isn’t just a photo of Ivanka Trump. It’s a middle finger to democracy, ThinkProgress, 18 November, 2016)


Alice Miranda Ollstein: Politics Reporter

[There is mounting evidence that Donald] Trump and his adult children are leveraging the presidency to advance their business interests. …
[Felipe] Yaryura, the Argentinian investor working on building a Trump Tower in Buenos Aires, … breakfasted with Ivanka, Eric, and Don Jr the [morning after the election,] where they spoke about how Trump’s presidency would improve his company’s brand worldwide, and in Argentina in particular.

{Trump rejected the State Department’s help in fielding calls from around the world, and chose instead to wing it on unsecured phone lines.}

(There is a lot more to the Trump Argentina story, ThinkProgress, 23 November 2016)


The Global War on Political Correctness: Bring On The Culture Wars


Tom Switzer

[Malcolm Turnbull] needs a new model of governance that sidesteps an obstructionist and riff-raff Senate.
The side that picks the issues dominates the political debate, and the advantage lies with the Bully Pulpit if the Prime Minister will use it.
Why not call on the states to ditch the politically correct Safe Schools [anti-bullying] program?
Or encourage Muslim leaders to assimilate to Western cultural norms?
The culture-war list is endless, and it would resonate with what [John Howard] once called:
The decent conservative mainstream of Australia.
(PM must play the Right card, The Age, 11 July 2016 p 16)


Niall Ferguson

[Trump is,] in some measure, a reaction against [political correctness. …]
What was, to many people, deeply exhilarating about Trump's speeches was their completely unfiltered quality: that every single thing that was politically incorrect was there.
And I don't think it would have been as appealing, it would not have been as exciting, if these had not become taboos.
Now I can't condone the xenophobia, the misogyny — it all in there and its malignant — but the reason that it's popular, the reason that it resonates, is that we've created [a] stifling culture of self-censorship:
  • in our academies,
  • in our universities, [and]
  • in the media …

(Sydney Opera House Lecture, Centre for Independent Studies, 24 May 2016)


Laura Tingle

[When] John Howard came into office in 1996 [he] argued that a "political correctness" was at work in Australia which didn't allow ordinary Australians to express their disquiet over welfare recipients or Asian Immigration or Aboriginal people.
Australia was being run by "elites" whose opinions didn't reflect those of the "mainstream" or "silent majority." …
[His] push back against what he saw as self-censoring Australian political discussion had its own fallout.
It gave room for people like Pauline Hanson to emerge.
There was a new intolerance for those advocating for asylum seekers, or indigenous people, or the marginalised.
Such advocates were characterised as "bleeding hearts," or in more recent years the ultimate insult: "lefties."
It seems there is no one in the middle ground anymore.
You are either a "mainstream Australian" or a "leftie."
(p 13)

… John Howard launched a war on indigenous organisations, starting with [the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC).]
The charge was financial mismanagement.
ATSIC certainly had its problems, but Howard not only brought down ATSIC but also systematically broke the institutional structures of black Australia by cutting funding to bodies such as the land councils and health and legal services.
Since then there have been the "interventions" and the embrace of the policies pursued on Cape York by Noel Pearson.
But the approach and delivery has become erratic and utterly non transparent.
(p 32)

[The] era when executive government and the bureaucracy still worked cooperatively … to get policy outcomes that were both politically and practically successful ended … when John Howard won government and sacked a raft of department heads in what became known as his "Night of the Long Knives."
This sent a shockwave through the public service and, in combination with a series of radical reforms to the public sector, accelerated a decline in its ability to make policy. …

Tony Abbott's sacking in 2013 of more public servants, including the head of Treasury, because of their association with policies on climate change and asylum seekers — to which the Coalition was hostile [— further] cowed much of the public service and helped build a toadying culture.
(p 22)

(Political Amnesia: How we forgot how to govern, Issue 60, December 2015)


Waleed Ali

The narrative — promulgated by both Howard and his devotees in the commentariat — was that Australian cultural institutions and the telling of Australian history had been captured by a leftist orthodoxy spreading a 'black armband' version of Australian history that emphasized, exaggerated and even distorted the atrocities of colonial violence against the indigenous population.
This in turn precipitated cultural relativism and an obsession with political correctness.
At fault were the proliferation of:
  • special-interest groups,
  • leftist academics and, …
  • a biased media.
On this last point, the ABC was particularly pilloried. …

Accordingly, Howard undertook the very project he so despised in his leftist foes, promoting what we might call, in the prevailing spirit of [ideological] trench warfare: a Right orthodoxy on history and culture.
Australia's history was 'heroic,' its 'blemishes' insufficient to negate its net positive [moral] 'balance sheet.'
Meanwhile he articulated a new Australian mythology centred on military history [—] Anzac Day, once a fading reference point, was reinvigorated to the point of national definition. …
(p 65)

Neo-conservatives … posit a clear, identifiable, [pure and] unproblematic national culture [—] a culture that was comparatively homogenous until the relativism of the Left tore at its fabric.
This is an ossified, nostalgic fiction. …
The history on which this nostalgia is based is … ideologically coloured.
So the diggers in Gallipoli were fighting for freedom (rather than the British Empire), just as those in Iraq were fighting for freedom.
Or similarly, ours is a culture that stems from the Judeo-Christian tradition, in spite of the fact that the Jewish tradition is very different from the Christian one, and very many Christians before World War II would probably have been repulsed at the connection being drawn.
These are new constructions, presented as history for the purpose of creating what masquerades as an old, established culture. …
(p 76)

(What's Right? The Future of Conservatism in Australia, Issue 37, March 2010)

Would you like to know more?

CONTENTS


Climate Hysteria

Privitizing the ABC