Author Archives: Geoff

Please, NOW is the time to slow the virus

Covid-19 in Braidwood?

[Local experience, but it applies everywhere. The small town of Braidwood is between Canberra and the coast.]

I just returned from Braidwood’s bustling main street, midmorning Saturday 21 March, and it’s clear many Braidwoodians, and Canberrans, haven’t got the message about ‘social distancing’.

There are, plausibly, hundreds of infections in Canberra, and plausibly already some in Braidwood. Let me explain.

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Our politics is unworthy of us

 

We Australians in this bushfire summer have abundantly demonstrated our courage, resilience and ability to work together to do what needs to be done.

Not just firies on the front line but parents swallowing their own fear as they get their kids to safety, even if it’s only a beach with flames raging close by. Armies of other volunteers feeding and supporting emergency workers. People coping with many weeks of threat and uncertainty, people evacuating two, three, five times, refugees taken in. People piecing their lives back together, others supporting them in whatever way they can, floods of donations. In so many ways we have shown how we work together in adversity. Australians are not unique in this way, most people pull together when times are dire, but it’s a feature of human behaviour that we might be more mindful of.

It would be nice to report also how our parliament quickly put aside rivalries and worked to do whatever it could to support communities and emergency organisations in a time of great need.

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Scott Morrison is utterly incapable of leading us through this crisis

Scott Morrison is quite unable to address our existential crisis because of his political and religious beliefs, his shallow marketing mentality, his ignorance, his sociopathy, his corruption and his colossal incompetence. 

We’ve all seen the ineptitude: a politician, fish out of water, hands in pockets, turning his back on a distressed woman asking for help, reaching awkwardly to try to shake an unwilling fire fighter’s hand, then running from a hail of heckling and driving away from a traumatised community.

But the incapacity of this Prime Minister goes much deeper: through failure to understand, reluctance to acknowledge, outright psychological denial, sociopathy, incompetence, corruption and the near-complete capture of a government by vested interests.

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10 Fundamental Fixes for Economics

Notes to myself for a discussion of the book Economy, Society, Nature at the Sustainable Prosperity Conference, Adelaide, 10-12 Jan 2020.

 

• Identify the system as a far-from-equilibrium self-organising system – wild horses versus the neoclassical rocking horse. Markets must be managed, through their incentives.

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Exhalation

 

As I write I breathe the nearby forest and its creatures. Except they are no longer trees, or animals, or fungus.

If you take a breath now, you will inhale about fifteen atoms of argon that you exhaled  in a breath a year ago. Atoms from that earlier breath will have spread out from you, eventually drifting all around the world and back to you. You reconnect with yourself. You also connect with everyone else, and everything else, that exhaled a year ago. So said Harlow Shapley, an astronomer with the soul of a poet who thought deeply about his home planet.

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Can labour parties reform, or will they drag their societies down with them?

[Published 5 Jan as The Keating and Blair consensus has failed at Independent Australia]

Another election lost by labour, this time in Britain. The Blairites have their long knives out and will no doubt fight to drag the UK Labour Party back to the right. The Australian Labor Party is still gasping like a stunned mullet after its own loss, with no indication that it can manage anything beyond continuing to pander to anyone who might still reluctantly give it a preference. With their focus on tactics and personalities, most politicians and commentators miss the big news.

Neoliberalism has failed, comprehensively.

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Priorities, delusions and governments’ duty of care

[Published at Independent Australia 7 Dec.]

Over the past few weeks terrorists have killed six Australians and destroyed 673 homes, 1,400 other buildings and vast stretches of unique bushland.

Well no, terrorists did not do that to us. It was bushfires. Mind you some of those fires are alleged to have been deliberately lit by firebugs. Perhaps we should regard firebugs as terrorists.

The Prime Minister doesn’t seem to be very concerned about fires and arsonists, though he does offer thoughts and prayers. On the other hand he indulges his antediluvian obsession of stomping on the last vestiges of union power and his novel Christian approach of holding innocent and sick people hostage indefinitely and watching them slowly die.

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The Independent path to effective democracy, and survival

[Published at Pearls & Irritations, 20 Nov]

Helen Haines and Voices for Indi

A way to break us out of the ossified and toxic parliamentary culture and the fearful stupor of the electorate. A way to restore fluid and functional governance.

Both John Menadue and Michael Keating make strong points, as insiders, about Australia’s increasingly undemocratic politics. Perhaps an outsider’s perspective can reveal deeper causes and issues that clarify the situation, and offer a way forward that does not depend on begging the powerful.

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But How Do We Stop The Growth Machine?

[Published at Post Growth 14th November]

We can’t allow growth to continue forever, simply because the Earth is finite. But can we stop it? And if so how? And anyway, growth of what?

Not only do many people agree we need to change our economic system, many are already doing really good things, like forming cooperatives or firms with a social purpose, promoting repair and recycling, growing healthy local food, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and so on. But all these good efforts struggle against the ever-rising tide of ‘growth’. What if our economic system supported the good things instead of subverting them? Could that be possible?

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A central dysfunction: house price inflation, stagnant economy

[Published at Pearls & Irritations, 7 Nov]

The problem with the housing bubble is not a shortage of housing, the problem is an excess of money. The solution is to restrict the amounts banks can loan. The solution is a credit squeeze. But it would have to be done carefully and the government would have to be willing to spend.

The housing market is rebounding. It is through the slump. The downturn is over and the market is making gains. So say the media reports, written by the property industry. Rising house prices are good.

Except they’re a disaster for everyone else.

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