Friday, June 28, 2002

I HATE YOU! (storms off to room)

Does absence makes the heart grow fonder, or just more bitter?

Martina Navratilova has forgotten why she ran like buggery from her native Czechoslovakia in 1975, to live a life of luxury and freedom in the USA. This woman is a gay immigrant, whose only skill in life consists of the ability to belt a tennis ball around.

She threw herself on the hospitality and protection of the USA, avoiding a life where her sexuality was punishable by heavy jail time, and where her sporting prowess would have earned her a State-selected apartment, and maybe a pension.

Instead she has travelled the world, is openly gay, made a SHITLOAD of money, and lives the life of Reilly.

To show her appreciation, Navratilova behaves like an anti-globo teenager. You know, the ones that protest their parents material greed by locking themselves in their room with the television, DVD, computer …..

UPDATE: Protein Wisdom takes Martina to task. I particularly like the description "a rich, unpleasant lesbian"

These ladies are worth a look. They're hip, they're happening, they're capitalists …. well that makes no sense at all does it? After all, all the really fun people you know are socialists. Aren't they?
In today's Granny, Michelle Grattan shows a sharper grasp on the mechanics of Australian elections than most of her colleagues. Grattan shows why any talk of a double dissolution election is just that – talk.

It is surprising how many of the Canberra press gallery are unable to calculate Senate numbers without taking off their shoes and socks. What are these people paid for? In 1998 I won big money betting that Pauline Hanson's agrarian socialists would not win a single Lower House seat. To listen to the trumpeting herd in the papers, you might have thought Australia had introduced a new form of voting.

Thursday, June 27, 2002

I don’t want to miss out on my two bob’s worth on the Nicholas Kristof piece in the New York Times.

Kristof has finally noticed that if you insist on higher wages in overseas workplaces, then you get unemployment. Nice of him to own up.

Wage differential is what globalisation is all about. Bangladeshis get paid less than Pakistanis, who get paid less than Indians. New Zealanders get paid less than Australians, who get paid less than Italians.

Once you accept the fact of wage differentials, then the question is no longer a moral or ethical one, but more about numbers, laws and enforcement. Unless you really think that an auto worker in Nairobi should get the same pay in US dollars as an auto worker in Detroit, then there is no moral point to argue, only the degree of difference you feel comfortable with.

Wages are decided within the marketplace, subject to local laws. Customers are entitled to scrutinise the laws (wage rates, occupational health, child labour), and make decisions about purchasing. But they should know the immediate consequences of their action will be hard currency that does not go to the people making the items. The customer can accept whatever degree of responsibility they wish for those consequences.

People work at the best job they can find, for the highest wage they can negotiate. Nobody works at a job where they can’t keep body and soul together. This means simply that if you see somebody working in what you call a sweatshop, then that’s the best job that person can get. If you withdraw your customer dollar, then part or all of that job will vanish along with it. Buy or don’t buy, but don’t pretend you don’t know what happens.

This doesn’t preclude the possibility of improvement, through collective bargaining or other means. This is what unions were invented for: to improve the lot of employees through collective bargaining. Unions in developing nations do not have the same muscle as unions in more developed nations. It’s hard to strike effectively when the local unemployment rate is 30%. Westerners can insist labour laws be improved to what the local market can bear, and then maintain pressure for those laws to be enforced.

The best form of foreign aid is a job that pays hard currency. Once money begins to flow to employees, the very first thing they do is take their kids out of work, and send them to school. Now you’ve got educated children getting ready to take on more skilled jobs, bringing in still more foreign earnings. They will become the middle class, who will demand rule of law from their government, in order to assure security for what is becoming a decent legacy for their children. That’s the end of El Presidente, and the start of democracy. Democracy, rule of law, and property rights. That’s us.

Eventually, you’ll be laying top dollar for your sneakers, but you’ll feel a big bunch better.

I want to give a plug to the mBox service. Since I switched to cable internet, I have no way to receive faxes to the computer.

Register with these guys (A$30/yr), and they give you a phone number that you can hand out as your own. Any faxes that come in, the system beeps you on-line, and you can download/print them at home. Sweet as!

Immigration lawyer and activist Julian Burnside says conditions at the Nauru Detention Centre are:
a pile of bird-droppings in the Central Pacific. There they are strictly confined within 2 camps, in abominable conditions,

Burnside has never been to the Centre, although his wife spent an afternoon there.

Now three days later, Sy Winter of the International Organisation for Migration is interviewed on radio in Sydney (no link available). When asked about conditions in Nauru where he is working at the time of interview says the Centre
started out rough and are now well above the international standard.

Who do you believe? A lawyer with a barrow to push, a practice to run, who has not been there, and neglected to open his mouth on the subject until a few months ago?

Or an IOM worker in the Detention Centre, with no brief to do the Australian Government any favours.

Tuesday, June 25, 2002

Qantas appointed John Travolta to be their roving ambassador.

Now don't get me wrong. I enjoy the man's movies, and I was overjoyed at the sucess of Battlefield Earth. But do we really want someone who believes this twaddle acting as a representative of the safest airline in the world?

Travolta has a keen interest in aviation, having a serious pilot's license, and familiarity with interstellar spacecraft.
Required reading today from Will Warren at Unremitting Verse. A poetic takedown of the “not in my name” cretins, using the rapier with skill and grace.

Monday, June 24, 2002

Success! Techno semi-literate I might be, but I can change the colour on the banner! (wait for applause)

anyway ....


How would you like to have three hours uninterrupted television viewing time every weekend? To be used for the sole purpose of watching your choice of Sports/ Death Sports/ Antique Roadshow? When your wife keeps the kids out of the way, answers the phone, AND at the end, THANKS YOU?

How can this be so, I hear you cry in your relentless quest for truth.
How can this be so, the voices of all men rise up.
How can this be so, when dark forces gather behind their mountain fastness (all right, I ran out)

Do the ironing on the weekend. Simple, repetitive work, requiring less than 10% of your brain, leaving the other 90% free to enjoy large men attempting to kil each other in sponsor-approved fashions. At the end of the football game, your wife will actually thank you.

Please, no really. The esteem of a grateful nation is all I need.
Tim Blair goes on with SIEV-X conspiracy theorists, reaming Robert Manne in the process.

The phrase "this makes me ashamed to be Australian" has been debased in the Australian media, ever since the electorate disregarded the advice of the commentariat, and elected the wrong government. But I am uneasy sharing citizenship with these people. They have no moral barometer other than what will play in today's column. They have no sense that to constantly denigrate their country undermines the national soul far worse than the issues they want to advance.

When all their nudge-wink allegations are laid to rest, will they apologise to their targets? Will they say anything about the stain, however small, they have left on the Australian Armed Services?

Sunday, June 23, 2002

Margo Kingston must have been playing All The President’s Men backwards again, looking for the secret messages inserted by Woodward and Bernstein. How else to explain what has become an obsession with the Suspected Illegal Entry Vehicle – Unknown (SIEV-X), and their cargo of human misery?

I want to lay it out plainly, because Margo tends to stumble when stepping up to the mark of clear speech. She would like us to believe that our Prime Minister John Howard, his Defence Minister Peter Reith, several top members of navy brass, as well as an unspecified number of communications technicians, pilots, intelligence analysts, navigators, public servants and sailors, have all acted in concert to cover up their complicity in the death by drowning of 353 illegal immigrants on or around October 23 last year.

That’s right kiddies. Somehow, while leaving no trace of their conspiracy, our arch-evil PM overnight managed to suborn the perjury of Admiral after Admiral, the silence of hundreds of sailors, the whole symphony of action and co-ordination necessary to sustain the wheezing theories of a journalist so blinded by her hatred of her political enemies that she is no longer fit to report fairly on the results of Miss Wagga Wagga.

You can believe that professional sailors, in one of the finest navies in the world, would first accept orders not to patrol an area that a shipload of boat people was likely to enter, and possibly sink. Then, having accepted and acted on the order, keep it secret among themselves, and then LIE ON OATH about it.

Or you can believe that Indonesian police and local chieftains forced hundreds of Middle Eastern immigrants onto a leaky, overcrowded boat, at gunpoint. That the boat, designated SIEV-X moved out from Java, headed for Australia, and sunk at an unknown point with the loss of 353 lives, possibly in Indonesian waters, possibly not.

You can believe that local officials in one of the most corrupt countries in the world accepted money from people smugglers to move people through their area, and this shitty little boat was all they felt like providing to their customers. You can believe that bad things happen, and not everything bad is John Howard’s fault, or even Australia’s. You can believe that there’s a whole lotta empty in international waters, and there are not many Navy ships to cover it.

You can believe that writing articles that hint darkly about “what did the Navy know?” and “where was the Defence Minister while this was going on?” say more about blind hatred than journalistic ethics.

There are reports from a survivor that “three grey ships” were seen by people in the water, but they did nothing to assist. If those ships were Australian, which is the only reason Margo would put them into the article, then ask: how long would the sailors who listened to the screams of the drowning keep quiet once back in port?

If Margo doesn’t believe in the conspiracy as I have laid it out, she should say so. If she has a different theory, she should advance it. If she has evidence, she should produce it. But scratching around the Parliamentary record, seizing on every inconsistency as the smoking gun that will bring the whole cover up to light, is tedios at best, and sickening at worst.

Margo has lost it, possibly for good this time. She has never forgiven John Howard for being popular, and she has never forgiven the Australian electorate for electing him time after time after time. Her columns are starting to read like a Lenny Bruce routine when he would go on stage and read at length from his court transcripts. The editors at Fairfax should act to end this before it gets any more embarrassing

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