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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Australia’s Political Culture Is Failing Us, So Elect Independents

[Published at Independent Australia, 3 Nov.]

Helen Haines and Voices for Indi

Our entire mainstream political culture – the old parties, tribes and labels, the media, the commentariat, the adversarial process, the petty squabbling – fails comprehensively to serve our needs and insults our capabilities. Independents offer a glimmer of hope, and we need to get more of them into parliament.

The Coalition Government is with little doubt the most vacuous, incompetent, deluded, irresponsible and malicious of our short Federated history. This is the rabble Labor failed to defeat in the 2019 election. Labor still seems to have little idea what to do, and anyway they have been complicit in a great deal of the damage done to our society since 2001, and in the neglect of urgent issues.

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Why It’s a Climate Crisis – the Graph

Two years ago I posted the latest plot of global temperature, and argued that if trends continue, as they are likely to do, the Great Barrier Reef has little chance of surviving beyond 2030 as more than a sad remnant in its southern reaches. Even if we suddenly got serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions the warming will still continue for 2-4 decades, and the damage would only be deferred.

The greater danger is that the warming will tip into being irreversible if it is not soon reversed. In that case our grandchildren would inherit a very different and hostile world.

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We can still save the climate

There is a climate crisis. Deniers commonly have one or two facts that they claim show the scientists are wrong: the climate has always changed, carbon dioxide is only a tiny fraction of the atmosphere, and so on. They have an endless supply of supposed justifications for doing nothing.

Evidently the deniers imagine the climate scientists never thought of these objections, never investigated them. Well, they did.

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An economy that supports healthy communities, local and planetary

[This is a talk given to the Canberra Hub of New Economy Network Australia, 23 June 2019 on the topic ‘What could our economy look like in 2030?’ Check out NENA, I think it is a very promising network.]

At present our economy is structured and managed in ways that subvert the many good things people like us are trying to do.

I think it is possible to change that, so the larger economy supports clean, local, healthy living, strong communities and a thriving planet.

First, a few examples of good things that are already happening and just need to be promoted, examples involving food and energy: Continue reading

Hawke and Keating Set Australia, and Labor, Up for Failure

[Published at Pearls and Irritations 31 May.]

Labor failed, again.

It took on the most riven, brutal and monumentally incompetent rabble since Federation and still could not manage to beat them. This is a profound failure that requires a profound explanation. There is one, though it goes against decades of received wisdom.

The problem is the economic ‘reforms’ imposed by the Hawke-Keating governments are a failure. Our anaemic economy and divided society are their continuing legacy.

These claims are of course heresy. They sully the revered memory of Larrikin Bob. They contradict the economic and political mantras of the past thirty five years. Yet the evidence is clear and has been readily available for some time.

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