With George W. Bush firmly entrenched in the White House, our readers attentions are turning back to more pressing matters. Such as everything else …..

Ron Clarke
and the Gold Coast

Just read Ron Clarke’s column. Interesting stuff. The only problem I have with it is he seems a touch fond of running to the courts. I just can’t bring myself to respect someone who can’t take criticism on the chin without resorting to legal action. I don’t know the players and I don’t know the circumstances: Ron may well be right in feeling unfairly hammered. From what he writes, he appears to be running an open and accountable outfit. But Ron, don’t run to the lawyers, there are other ways: Seek corrections, rights of reply, publish your own mailout, go to the competition, there are many avenues that should be exhausted before taking legal action. I don’t know, it just seems so whiny, so unAustralian.

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Brian Mitchell
Editor, Herald Newspapers

Disclaimer: The author is subject to defamation proceedings in WA.

CRIKEY: See Ron Clarke’s column here – Being the Mayor of the Gold Coast

TAB vs Tabcorp

Hello Crikey, at last I can make a contribution on a subject I know a lot about – internet betting. Seeing your comments about NSW Tab I could tell you have never tried to put an internet bet on with Tabcorp.

I have been a NSW Net TAB punter for about 2 years, I changed from Tabcorp because of this same problem of not being able to get a bet on close to start time, not just on the Melbourne Cup, but on any major race meeting especially those with free to air TV coverage. I can’t believe that anyone who is a commited internet punter would bet with Tabcorp, the service there is just too inconsistent at peak times.

Ian Bruce

US elections: turnout vs swingers

Charles Richardson’s analysis of the US elections was excellent but flawed. The flaw was the absence of any consideration of one of the key factors in US elctions (and the one greatest point of difference between the US and Australia), namely the turnout. This is possibly why US election commentators don’t talk about swings, because when less than a third of the electorate vote, a dramatic rise or slump in the turnout can be more important than people changing their vote.

That was why the Democrats were optimistic. They witnessed a dramatic increase in turn-out, particularly amongst groups such as black voters in the inner cities and younger voters, who they expected would deliver them victory. There was a dramatic rise in rthe Democrat vote, but it was equalled by a mobilisation of religious conservatives motivated, in particular, by the contrived furore over gay marriages.

There is an interesting parallel here with 1928 when Al Smith cobbled together a coalition of black and immigrant voters to add to the, then, traditional Democrat heartlands in the south. The Republicans matched him by mobilising protestant bigotry (Smith was catholic).
Smith’s new coalition of course went on to be the core of Roosevelt’s voting bloc, but before anyone starts making predictions, there was a little thing called the Depression intervening.

Robert Bollard

Finland, Finland, Finland

Just a short email to say how much I’m enjoying Therese Catanzariti’s columns. They are fantastic. The public tax return was a real eye-opener. But I want to know more. How did a nice Australian girl end up in a freezer like that? Does she speak Finnish or can one get by as an English-speaker in Finland?

Keep her columns coming!

Margaret

Thanks Therese Catanzariti

Reading Therese Catanzariti’s article literally put a wide smile on my face. It’s uplifting for me to be reading about how a western nation SHOULD be run.

There are a number of people who believe that scandinavian solutions will not work in Australia. This is true to an extent. The Howard Government has Americanised a lot of functions of the economy; namely welfare and labour market reform. Also, we live in an anglo-country. The anglo axis (US, UK & Australia) are inherently lassiez-faire.

But that is not to say that the welfare state cannot thrive in Australia. Just like Finland, Australia is a small, open economy, but unlike Finland we are a primary-goods based economy. For the dream of an Australian welfare state to come true, we need to really upskill the labour market. It is essential to put lots of money into education, as opposed to rationalise and privatise and Americanise it as Nelson is doing. An upskilled labour market will build a base to accomodate a (hopeful) increase in a “new” economy.

From this, it is also important for Australian business to improve its

WOEFUL record on training employees and proactively embrace technology and using this technology to increase mobility. Paying graduates more and giving them better conditions could help in reducing our “brain drain”.

This should set the basis for the natural development of a welfare state. Oh, and hopefully Labor governments in the future.

Ninus Kanna

More Bull from Noel Turnbull

In Noel Turnbull’s rather lame attempt to portray US voters who chose Bush as backward or uneducated, he asks “What do most southern states have in common?” then answers: “They spend more on prisons than they do on education.”

This is, of course, the sort of glibly delivered non-statistic that any sentient being would instantly recognize as utter crap, but which could gain some currency amongst people who don’t think too hard about anything.

For someone who praised the skepticism of the Founding Fathers in his previous paragraph, it seems a particularly silly claim to parrot, especially in print to an educated readership.

There is no state in the union whose corrections budget is remotely close to its education budget; in fact the ratio is generally about nine to one in favour of education.

When you have the luxury of being able to ask your own question and then answer it yourself, the least you could do is get it right.

John Crawford

Vale the Far Eastern Economic Review

Like everyone, I was saddened by the loss of the Far Eastern Economic Review. We are now entering a new Dark Age without the flickering beacon that was the ‘Review to guide our stumbling steps. …….

Thank you to everyone who had a hand in turning out such an outstanding weekly.

Graham Bell

Who cares about the judges party?

Amazing that Peter Blunden should be so thin skinned. And as for questioning fellow judges attendance at Deputy Chief Magistrate Popovic’s victory celebration after defeating Bolt, the most obvious response to this type of question comes straight from former senior public servant Max Moore-Wilton.

His attendance at the Liberal Party’s victory celebration after the 2001 was seen as inappropriate by some. But not Max, who said that Australia’s Westminster system was “evolving”, and that “what we do on the weekend is our own business”.

Stephen Lambert

John Laws and politically incorrect comments

What do you call a much married straight man like John Laws who makes much of others’ sexual orientation?

Is he jealous that the man he attacked is more famous than John Laws will ever be, in the world scheme of media? Any fool knows as well as any ‘shrink’, that he qualifies for the category of “a failed and confused heterosexual”! Can all the faults for failed marriages lie with a man’s many wives? I think not! Perhaps he deserves also the derogatory title of an ‘opinionated serial breeder’.

Another ‘Spike’

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Peter Fray
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