There’s
nothing wrong with trade union officials
in a Labor caucus, but the reality today is that “few of the present
crop have
worked on the factory floor”, says Barry Cohen in The Australian
– “and
that is why we are seeing so few new and exciting Labor policies”. But
with the power that factional warlords wield, don’t expect it to change
any time soon. The Labor machine men “prefer loyal spear carriers who
will increase their power, rather than talent”. Labor needs to look
seriously at the US system of primary preselection, because if it doesn’t soon win
federally, “then a new moderate social democratic party may well
emerge”.

“Abandoning
their moral purpose has led universities to
stress their utilitarian nature, producing reports purporting to
show their huge impact on the economy”, says Steven Schwartz in The
Sydney Morning Herald
. Economics is vital when debating a university’s
purpose, but we need to have goals outside the economic paradigm.
“Otherwise, we are a nation of means without ends.” We must never
forget that our universities are “engines of social
mobility”, and should be used in “advancing the cause of
freedom and liberty in Australia”, not just advancing the prospects for
a productivity hungry economy.

Anyone,
including Members of Congress, who think the Republicans are hanging on
thanks to the strength of their ideas should think again, says Jonathan Chait in The New Republic (originally in the LA Times).
“Bush’s
agenda has run aground not because he has no ideas but because he has
no power” – little Republican support and no power. So Bush is left
defending the status quo against any “new ideas”. Internationally it’s
the quagmire of Iraq; at home “things are worse”. Medicare, tax cuts,
and the list goes on. “The problem isn’t that the conservatives have
absolutely no ideas, it’s
that when they have one, it’s not relevant to the actual world we live
in.”

Iran
is propping up its standing amongst Muslim nations in South East Asia because
“Muslim-majority nations in Asia are democracies and moderate Muslim
societies whose opinion is not wilfully disregarded in the West”, says
Michael Vatikiotis in the International Herald Tribune. “The lesson here for Europe and the United States is that Iran is a more
complex and sophisticated adversary than Arab nations like Iraq or
Syria.”

When
it comes to conservation, there’s the popular dictum that states that
unless human activities can be reined in “the future for wildlife is
bleak”, says Magnus Linklater in The Times (UK). At
best this is a half-truth, and at worst a deliberate distortion. “Man
may indeed be part of the problem in the world’s great wilderness
areas but when it comes to the hills and moors of Britain, he is
definitely part of the solution.”

Worth reading Highly recommended

Peter Fray

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