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Congratulations!

 

Today is your day

The election is here

You look shiny today!

 

We have great expectations

Our future rests upon it

Triennial amnesia

We all suffer from it

 

You’ll race to the bottom

With no element of care

You will pander to many

With souls that are bare

 

You will target the sectors

That need help the most

While preening to pundits

We’ve found savings! you’ll boast

 

You will go all imperial

On the arse of our neighbours

You’ll then act all wounded

When there aren’t any favours

 

You will denigrate, malign

You will put down and pester

While our national problems

Like sores they will fester

 

You’ll both strive to keep

Your true feelings under wraps

And in a moment of weakness

That façade it will lapse

 

You’ll kiss your constituents

Young bubs will be scarred

Back of envelope policy

When thinking’s too hard

 

But then you will realise

Three year cycles can’t fix it

As you walk through the door

One eye’s on the exit

 

You’ll rally against anyone

Who dares to find error

Experts are subjected

To weak minded terror

 

You’ll put on your best polish

And announce a new way

And then finally, the public

Knows it’s been led astray

 

Your fate will be chosen

By rich men with much ink

‘Robust media coverage’

You’ll either glow or you’ll stink

 

So as you make do

With a mandate democratic

If you remember one thing

Just keep it dramatic.

Why didn’t she go early, never had the caucus

Then when Kevin triumphed, he really hit the skids

He started with the fluoros, compared AUs to Euros

The polls went really badly, Libs then got the shits

They said we’re not standing by, to watch us slowly die

So Tony gloved up, and punched the wall, punched the wall, punched the wall

And he said calm down now I’m just punching the fucking wall

He went to all the factories, did a little fruit work

More photo opportunities, still spreading all the fear

Then Malcolm wrote a letter, said I want to see you

He started a petition, get Tony on the scare

Flew to Canberra on a plane, in the pouring rain

They said Tony, there’s no more

There’s no more

There’s no more

There’s no more

He called a special meeting, Malcolm looking peachy

Colleagues looking downwards, Tony packing shit

Did he have a future?

Had he lost momentum?

Where was all the traction? The dream had turned to shit.

Malcolm rose up from his seat a ballot was complete

Tony gloved up and punched the..

Denouement complete, he couldn’t feel his feet

Tony gloved up, and punched the wall

Punched the wall

Punched the wall

Punched the wall

I’m not exactly raising any eyebrows when I say the Herald Sun is an easy target. But even today’s front page gave me a sore neck as I strained to read the front page headline.

BORN TO RULE: Report say rich kids do better because of ‘inherited abilities’

A 246 page report by the Australian Government Productivity Commission, released publicly today, outlines the myriad factors that determine the academic and employment trajectory of a child. The Herald Sun ran a front page article (an exclusive one no less) on one factor, based not on its importance and relevance, but on what would turn heads.

Which inherited abilities? Educational assets such as ‘parents’ cognitive abilities and inherited genes,’ as the report quotes, or the family’s bank balance? Is a financially stable environment genetically inherited? Anyone reading this would know someone flush with funds due to their parents’ hard work and good luck whilst being a bun or two short of a burger. Will their children inherit their abilities?

The report outlines in great detail the factors that go to explain the multidimensional concept of disadvantage, not just in the financial sense but in the context of a lack of opportunities and their effects longitudinally on the ongoing academic and employment performance of a child.

To quote two key points from the report:

Disadvantage has its roots in a complex interplay of factors. Many of these factors, when combined, can have a compounding effect. The probability that any one person will experience disadvantage is influenced by: their personal capabilities and  family circumstances; the support they receive; the community where they live (and  the opportunities it offers); life events; and the broader economic and social
environment.

A child’s earliest years fundamentally shape their life chances. Gaps in capabilities  between children from socio-economically disadvantaged families and their more  advantaged peers appear early in life. Starting school ‘behind the eight ball’ can  begin a cycle of disadvantage that sets a trajectory for poorer outcomes later in life.

The amount of print dedicated to the impact of genetics is proportionally small in the report,.I finally found a mention of genetics on page 93:

While inherited genes influence their development, the quality of family environments, and the availability of appropriate experiences at various stages of development, are crucial for building capabilities.

The report confirms what we all know. A child in a financially stable home will have a leg up in many respects. It also says that children subjected to deep levels of social exclusion and disadvantage will likely remain in that state. Yet children do surpass what their financially restricted environments should in theory allow, just as children in financially stable households disappoint with easy access to tutors and significant resources. There must be many well off parents who wring their hands, asking”‘where did we go wrong?”

The child must want to achieve. You know, like from within.

I can only speak from my own experience in terms of academic and employment trajectory. Genetics are important, but the brain is so infinitely plastic that experience upon experience and encouragement to try, fail and learn are essential. These are not factors that are purely down to money. How many migrant parents created, at great cost, the environment for their children to have access to as many of these interactions as possible? Many.

My main beefs with the article are that it (a) cherry picked a mere paragraph from a 246 page report to fill a void when there are so many factors at play, and (b) confused (or rather likened) financial inheritance with genetic inheritance.

Papers of all persuasions cherry pick, and papers of all persuasions are becoming increasingly irrelevant, lazy and ho-hum in what they spit out.

Mike Woods, the Deputy Chairman of the Productivity Commission, said this morning that “it was unfortunate” that the paper had decided to run with this aspect of the report given its overall significance and multi factorial nature.

A diplomatic understatement if there was ever one.

 

 

 

 

 

Tourniquet

 
Dislclaimer: if you don’t like these opinions, I have others

Yesterday’s events were fascinating to watch. Barrie Cassidy called the spill two weeks ago on Insiders. Watch a pair of horses manoeuvring for first place can be more absorbing than watching a field of ten.

Whether a petition was circulated or not, Julia Gillard sniffed the wind and moved to end the saga once and for all, setting absolute sequelae for winner and loser. To Kevin Rudd’s credit, he agreed to the terms set out. The loser would exit this time. No, really.

The spill itself was a slow self-fulfilling prophecy. When Bill Shorten switched camps, it was confirmed. The stakes are so high that he saw fit to torch his short, medium and possibly long term leadership aspirations. To her great integrity, Julia GIllard was true to her word and immediately vacated the post without rancour or the sobfest that accompanied Kevin Rudd’s deposition in 2010. Then again, she had more time to compose herself. This spill had the same slow inevitability of the planet Melancholia contacting earth and destroying all on it.

Anyone who thought that Kevin Rudd was willing time to pass while sitting in the ‘nether regions’ as he termed it was seriously mistaken. His sound performance in Question Time yesterday was an clear message to the coalition that they will actually have to work for this. In the still likely event that we wake up to an Abbott government, the majority will be smaller, their mandate less overwhelming than anticipated in the last 6-12 months.

As the myriad post mortems on the Gillard period fill the web, the following were my conclusions:

The whole misogyny issue over the last 24 months has been overemphasized by the left and predictably dismissed by conservative commentators. Some of the twitter chat (of which I am a sad, sad addict) has brought up some overly emulsified emotional claptrap by blind GIllardistas who fail to see her flaws as a prime minister but instead only the attacks on her on the basis of gender by Alan Jones, Graham Morris, and numerous others. This is not to say that the said attacks were acceptable. Far from it. They were vile, sexist remarks from a bygone era when men were men and men were stupid. However it should always be possible to dissect the latter from the former.

Solely by virtue of her sex, it read like an absolute division by gender lines. I am certain there were feminists who found her decision to address the Australian Christian Lobby or as an atheist, to claim that her strong morals were from her Baptist upbringing as nothing short of bizarre. Did she speak for all women? Of course not, but not all men felt she didn’t speak for them either.

Pledging ongoing support (and tax payer funds) for the National School Chaplaincy Program is something I will never agree with, and logic prevailed with Ron Williams’ successful challenge in the High Court. Whether a believer, agnostic or atheist, placing the mental health of all children in the hands of one religious approach was simply an incomprehensible path to take, unless of course you are rather a fanatic.
Her stance on gay marriage was interesting given her justification of ‘traditional values’ that had roots in a Baptist upbringing, despite declaring herself to be an atheist.

Women are and have been for years ready and able to assume and execute positions of high office, despite Tony’s Abbott’s comical assertions of physiological difference. Australian though, to our detriment, was not ready for a female PM. This backlash from the aforementioned contrarians and others shaped Julia Gillard as much as she shaped the nation during her tenure.

On the evidence that she managed to oversee 485 passed bills (87% of these bipartisan) in a hung parliament speaks volumes for her tenacity in the face of the nauseating behaviour of Tony Abbott, Christopher Pyne et al who have spent valuable time with points of order, suspensions of standing orders and other means to simply enforce an early poll. The consumption of Question Time in the last sitting of 2012 by Julie Bishop’s wild goose chase on matters AWU was a blatant abuse of parliamentary resources, as were the almost comical volumes of electricity bills illustrating the carbon price’s immense adverse effect. Clive Palmer’s revelations on his meetings with Joe Hockey and Mal Brough show how intent the Liberal Party was to destroy the GIllard government by whatever means.

Should the ALP, as is likely, lose with an admirable swing (whatever that equals), or pull off a Keating, they can thank Gillard for tenacity in navigating through hostile waters. They can also thank her for committing to infrastructure, education and most importantly the NDIS as a worthy legacy. It is a great shame that both herself and her party could not sell those positive messages to the people. How much of that is mainstream Murdoch media and how much is the ALP’s doing is an argument that will never be won.

From here we are faced with a government that should have been returned on the sole achievement of positive jobs growth, avoiding a recession and achieving triple A ratings. But along the way there the disasters of pink batts and shall we say, rather non-selective approach to stimulus cheques. They have failed to address the highly complex problem of people smuggled to our shores. It has spent an ostentatious amount of time looking at itself rather than managing the ‘economy in transition’ that seems to be the line of the moment. If anything, the move to Rudd will hopefully refocus those remaining MPs who haven’t resigned or who are not resigned to defeat to put in one last effort.

But we have an opposition who has expended much of its intellectual and parliamentary resources trying to knock a house down instead of outlining how they would design it better. SInce Kevin Rudd PM v 2.0, Coalition MPs have been swift to outline policies released thus far, with Malcolm Turnbull at pains this morning to outline the Coalition’s vast roll call of policy announcements. A slower NBN, repealing  the carbon price and mining tax and a paid parental leave scheme that has business folk unsettled hardly sells as an array of policies. Nor does saying ‘we are not them’.

What we have now is a coalition that will have to work for the right to govern instead of the three columns of no, a pamphlet of aspiration and an as yet unknown algorithm to manage the economy. Given that Australia votes out governments (with the exception of Whitlam), this will probably suffice on polling day. The only worse in prospect than a hung parliament is a massive mandate for either party.

Yep, we get it Tony. We’re a bloody big brown land that is crying out for exploitation. Especially north of Cameron’s Corner. Ore to be dug up, gas to be fracked, and all the infrastructure to support it. But even Johnny had the sense to see how zappydoo crazy the idea of a separate and distinct tax zone sounds. And he was no slouch as a populist.

Your White Paper estimates a possible $150B in clean efficient energy exports from measures to develop Australia’s ‘next frontier’. Hmmm I don’t see Gina liking that last sentence with the word clean in it. Don’t forget the soundtrack from any of the Duke’s movies to give us that ‘next frontier’ feel while you’re at it. It’ll go well with the low wages Gina has decreed for the ‘special tax benefit zone’, so special in fact that you don’t pay tax in peanut wages. And with peanut wages there’ll be little GST revenue flowing in from discretionary spending. But you and Joe have crunched all the numbers haven’t you? Goodie gum drops.

I can appreciate your desire to satisfy economic rationalists everywhere, their jowels dripping with anticipation and impatience for a reverse Gough change. Wasn’t Ju-Liar going to be bumped off early Tony? Why are we waiting? I mean, the country is just crying out for greater productivity (shit wages) and efficiency gains (shit wages + longer hours).

If you are so keen to plunder the virgin north, why not solar panel a prescribed area where the solar energy could supply the north, or even beyond? Hope you’ve explained to land owners how you’ll stop foreign companies from exporting the produce their capital creates. But you’ve got the balls to stand up to owners of foreign capital don’t you Tony? You’re a rugger-ride all day-physical sorta bloke aren’t you?

Listen, the ALP givernment has been a mess and is clearly on the way out. They have tried to maintain jobs and fund infrastructure your last government seemed reluctant to get involved with. Goodwill generated in guiding Australia through the GFC (yes we know it was 5 years ago, thanks Joe) has been replaced by derision at their internal bullshit.

But is this the best you have for us Tony? A Travelling North type feel good recipe that satisfies Gina and creates tax inequities by geography? (not to mention a de facto Workchoices at work)

Add this to your risible and comical NBN and yet-to-be-confirmed turn-back-the-boats-to-a-country-we-haven’t-discussed-it -yet policy and we feel, well, a tad uninspired. No amount of pamphlet branishing and declaring át least we’re not them’ BS will convince me otherwise. God knows you’ve had long enough to develop policies. Instead you’ve devoted untold resources to destroying a government that was doing a pretty good job on their own. Pretty dumb Tony.

Paul Keating was right Tony when he asked ‘is that all there is?’

IPA Conference Program

Who wouldn’t be excited by a day of this calibre of content?

ARSE CLENCHER

Any sitting ALP MP with a majority of 9% or less.

BLACK HOLE

A budgetary discrepancy between money intended to be spent and money intended to be raised. Curiously, black hole estimates are rounded numbers, always ending in zeros. Usually the consequence of having one’s promises assessed by H&R Block. A term used to indicate suspicion of opponent’s budget figures without bothering to properly understand underlying factors Can also describe a person with no redeeming features. See also Eleventy

CARTOONISTS

BY far the most clever bastards in the world. Able to distill and express scenarios and moods in brilliant fashion with neither regard nor favour to the figures they depict. Like wine, very subjective. For the purposes of this definiton, I list Alan Moir, @firstdogonthemoon, Ron Tandberg & Bill Leak as starting points.

CABINET RESHUFFLE

A realigning of Ministers, usually after happy times (election wins), or sad times (see also Circuit Breaker, Spill, Faceless Men, Soft Cock, PSCRs). Spun by the leader as a fresh team while the media do their best to invoke the ‘deckchairs on the Titianc’ euphemism (for the 1,232,000th time). A glimmer of metal in the turdstream of political life for young MPs.

CIRCUIT BREAKER

A well intended and altruistic gesture whereby a politician, with no apparent motivation other than the love of his party, calls for the leadership to be decided once and for all. Often ends in ends in tears, offering more questions than answers.  See also Spill, PSCRs.

ELECTION DEBATE

A misnomer whereby the leaders of the prominent parties strive for definitive one liners and gotcha calls like pensioners yearning for that 5 game free spin at the Casino. Usually hosted by Ray Martin or his stunt double, with viewers able to SMS their views in Australian or Ostrayan. Contributes sweet FA to proper political debate.

DIXER

A partisan question from a back bencher concocted for no other reason than to tee up the front bencher for political point scoring, The best point in Question Time to make another cuppa or trim those rogue nails.

ELEVENTY

Just as Pluto was deleted as a true planet, the number eleventy was invented by Joe Hockey in the name of explaining budgets to lay people, who, not surprisingly,  can count and therefore discount the term as a royal fuck up. This man will probably be our treasurer.

FACELESS MEN

Bipeds that roam corridors whispering bitter nothings. Not a new term, but one that 60’s political hack Alan Reid coined to describe a core group of factional heads that told ALP leaders what policy to run on. In the modern day, it describes the same thing.

FOURTH ESTATE

A collective term for the media/press that report on political events. Contains many self-titled game changers who think that their mutterings are the shit. See also WInd Assistance.

FREE SPEECH

A nebulous term for the ability to say whatever the fuck you want without fear of retribution. Advocated as a core element of a true liberal ethos. Unless of course someone says something a true liberal objects to. eg Bob Ellis v Peter Costello & Tony Abbott. Free speech carries with it the responsibility of using it intelligently and wisely, unless of course you work on 2GB.

GLOBAL FINANCIAL CRISIS (GFC)

A cascading series of events representing the failure of the economic rationalist assumption that the free market is pure and fixes all. Ignored by ring wing pundits and adherents in Australia and placed into the hands of Social Democrats everywhere to clean up while the aforementioned eco-rationalists berate them. A fine mess as Oliver Hardy would say.

INSIDER

A has been or wannabe figure with claims to know the inner workings of a party. In some cases, the best Insider is in fact an outsider for their views are too close to home (eg Mark Latham). In others, the insider has been inside so long, he doesn’t kow which way is north (Peter Reith, Graeme Richardson). Most insiders though are more often than not anonymous assistants who see making coffee for a Minister as the big chance. Held in higher regard by Journos who use heresay in place of proper questioning from the source. (See also Fourth Estate)

MENDACIOUS (Men-day-shus)

An unnecessarily long word for lying. Sounds great in Question Time and usually flows from right to left as you sit in the Speaker’s chair. In Christopher Pyne’s land it would be salacious. Often the cue for a wee tipple for those folks playing at home.

POINT OF ORDER (POO)

A tool employed during proceedings questioning the non adherence to rules. Or, in the case of Christopher Pyne, an opportunity to preen to the Speaker in the manner of a prefect if he is on thin ice or to simply waste everyone’s time.

POLITICAL FLUFF

A three minute slot in between ads on a commercial TV station that is hard hitting as Xavier Doherty bowling into a gale. Usually handled expertly by Karl Stefanovic or his superior, Lisa Wilkinson. A banana skin for Tony Abbott.

POLLS

Figures that indicate the collectove hypothetical intention in an artificial setting for an event that is yet to occur. Often has fatal implications, proving that what happens tomorrow can harm you today. See also Facless Men.

PRESUMED MESSIAH (PM)

A figure lauded by political followers of both persuasions. Does little to hose down any adulation thrown their way, but prefers that his followers stay simmering slowly to keep his ego in a perpetual flux of engorgement.

PSCR (POST SOFT COCK RESIGNATION)

The inevitable cost of being a soft cock after the anti-climax. Usually the drop is big but the person forgotten.

QUESTION TIME

Prescribed hour allocated to questions to the government from within or from the opposition relating to policy and direction. This strict definition is adhered to approximately 10% of the time. The remainder is regrettably dominated by slur, derision, interjections, inappropriate employment of props and abuses of process. A politicophile’s nirvana. (See also Robust Debate)

ROBUST DEBATE

Euphemism for harsh and uncompromising debate or nomenclature by the Parliament and the Fourth Eatate, usually in the form of aggressive and belittling the intended target while showcasing it as the reason why free speech exists.

SOFT COCK

A collective or individual who declares anonymously that they have a new direction for a party and the numbers for their idol (who often thinks they are the Presumed Messiah). Often followed by numerous PSCRs.

SPEAKER

The referee, DRS and thried umpire of the collective goat fuck we know as Question Time. A well respected position in Parliament, In cartoon terms, the Speaker is Sam SHeepdog and the MPs are the collective analogue of Ralph Wolf, trying to score advantage by sailing as close to the wind as possible before they are detected and booted. Brought to you by the number 94 and the letter A.

UNSEEN SNIPER

Callous and cowardly figure who heckles a member opposite with the belief that they a true ventriloquist. Can never understand why they should withdraw a slur that raises the ire of the Speaker.

SUSPENSION OF STANDING ORDERS (SSO)

A motion requesting the abrupt halt to porceedings in Question Time to discuss a matter of great urgency to the opposition. SSOs are motivated either by a genuine need, or, as is usually the case, by a narrowly outnumbered opposition to stifle debate and offer unhindered negative commentary on the government of the days. See also POO, Mendacious

TROLLS

Nasty pieces of work of all political persuasions who literally sit under the bridge (often anonymously), waiting for a comment to pass their way so they can pounce and respond disproportionately. The distinguishing characteristic of the foul troll is the combining of  foul language with the grammar of a 3 year old. See also Twitter

TWITTER

The medium and messenger for our hate, aspirations, opinion, like mindedness and media sharing. Will be owned by cats. One day.

WHITEANTING

The practice of internal destabilisation from within. Requires more deception than Machiavelli and better time management than Tiger Woods. Often ends in a farcical anti-climax. This term has replaced the rather quaint euphemism ‘Pissing In The Tent‘. See also SOFT COCK.

WIND ASSISTANCE

Vested interests masquerading as freedom of the press urging for a change of government or dropping of policy they find disagreeable through emotive and inflammatory means.