With Australia’s reluctance to intervene and help struggling parents raise their children – our “squeamishness about
crossing the line between public and private” – we may be missing out
on the best opportunity to break the cycle of intergenerational
poverty, says Andrew Leigh in The Sydney Morning Herald. Because “once inequalities are entrenched, they prove surprisingly hard
to break.” Early in the 20th century, Australia was regarded as the “social
laboratory” of the world, “boldly willing to experiment with new
ideas,” but in the past decade we have completely shed this mantle.

The Labor Party has always “claimed a sort of monopoly of Australian
history, with an entrenched article of faith to be utterly unforgiving
towards Labor ‘rats’ as a commandment above all commandments,” says Hal GP Colebatch in The Australian.
Keating famously trumpeted that the Labor party makes the “political
heroes of this country,” but its treatment of its former leaders
suggests otherwise – and if “Labor tends to see history as a weapon, it
is all too prepared to use that weapon against its own.” Just look at
the machine’s treatment of Latham, and now Simon Crean. If Crean is
disendorsed, “he will be in good company.”

“The
government says it has
nothing to hide in the AWB kickbacks-to-Saddam affair,” says Laurie
Oakes in The Bulletin. So why are they trying so hard to block
parliamentary scrutiny of the affair? “All
the standard stonewalling replies have been trotted out,” says Oakes.
Howard has said that according to ONA, none of our intelligence agencies
were aware of the AWB kickbacks. But if the “intelligence agencies
really did nothing after receiving a tip-off like that, the PM should
be demanding to know why, not making excuses.”

“Why
do we lock people up,
anyway?” asks Ross Gittins in The Sydney Morning Herald. “I suspect
that, for many of us, it is because we enjoy
knowing that wrongdoers have been punished.” Punishing offenders is
obviously the community accepted way to deter criminals and reduce
crime. But “jails aren’t the only way to reduce crime.” What we don’t
know is “how effective they are relative to their
cost. Until we do, it would be premature to ramp up jail numbers
even further.”

Cate
Blanchett’s rant about Australia having too much good weather and not
enough culture is misplaced, says Janet Albrechtsen in The Australian.
“The paranoia is a reaction to feeling dispossessed.” And with
“conservatism on the rise because
progressive policies have failed or are in the process of doing so, the
reaction from the so-called intelligentsia is not looking so
intelligent.” In Australia today “emotion reigns,” and “facts are
sidelined.”

“Choose
your parents wisely,” says Nicholas Gruen in The Courier-Mail. “And not
for their money, but for their upbringing.” Parents are likely to pass
their success on to their children because “they tend to provide richer
environments for their children’s early skill development,” says Gruen.
“Though we can’t control family environments like we can schools,”
economist James J
Heckman thinks policy can improve early childhood development – where a
little improvement goes a long way.”

People
with strong political views, be it hard-line conservatives or hard-line
liberals, “often display a disturbing lack of compassion and ethics in
their personal relations,” says Arthur C Brooks in The Wall Street Journal (subscription required). “It may or may not be that extreme politics is by itself what makes a
person angry and uncompassionate; but it certainly cannot be improving
the situation.” Because after all, “the partisan political machine today is geared toward the
destruction of opponents – to convince us that the other side is not
just misguided, but evil.”

Men love money, and men love women, right? So why don’t men love women with money, asks Arianna Huffington in Forbes.
“Yes, one might answer that it’s not
necessarily about money or accomplishment – just that men prefer younger
women, who are more likely to have less money and fewer
accomplishments.” Answer: Jude Law – a guy who cheated on his
beautiful, successful 24 year old fiancee with his 27 year old
nanny. But “as women continue to make gains in the
workplace, wouldn’t it be easier if men just learned not to be
threatened by women with money in the first place – and redefined the ‘trophy’ part of trophy wife?”

Worth reading Highly recommended

Peter Fray

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