Rudd’s back guarantee policy:

Graeme Harrison, former Harvard consultant to The White House, writes: Re. “Rudd’s money back guarantee is panicky policy” (yesterday, item 4). How crazy to prop-up banks without also requiring them to cease exacerbating the situation. Not a cent of public funding (or government guarantees) should go to any bank worldwide unless the banks stop forcing investors to sell shares. Governments would be better off guaranteeing banks against any further losses on existing ‘margin loans’ at current (five-year-lows) share prices, but concurrently requiring banks to extend leverage to 100% of current share prices. The banks, following their in-place policies have been causing their own (and the market’s) demise. That is the better circuit-breaker, rather than just giving the banks money to do as they please. The US problem was banks not lending to each other, but the Aussie problem has been mainly share market forced sales.

Vol Norris writes: Re. Yesterday’s editorial. Crikey published the Will Hutton quote from the Observer : “What needs to happen on top is an assault on the dark heart of the global financial system — the $55 trillion market in credit derivatives and, in particular, credit default swaps, the mechanisms routinely used to insure banks against losses on risky investments.” That might be the Dark Liver or the Dark Kidney …. deep, but not the Dark Heart. The dark heart is the interest-bearing nature of our debt money system, the core that has spawned innovations like credit derivatives, and will continue to spawn other such innovations in their absence. While we retain this interest-bearing core engine of money supply, no amount of regulation of credit derivatives, currency speculation, or structured investment leverage loans will free us from the positive feedback loop and intrinsic growth-generating features of a money system that must continually grow purely to meet its own appetite for interest. I feel that your readers really do need to know this, but I’m not sure they want to hear it.

David Nolan writes: The next time you refer to “Rudd or the Government’s” guarantee of the banking system can you replace it with “taxpayer guarantee” so we have a better sense of perspective when the bank’s charge taxpayers a few more dollars for a fee gouge down the track to make more money for their shareholders or to buy something and reduce competition in the banking market.

The ABC cops a spray:

Rob Lake writes: Re. “Spray of the Day 1: ABC news chief lays down the law” (yesterday, item 20). Why does John Cameron, Director, ABC News, stop there? He can add:

1) Hopefully, when used to mean if all goes well. It means full of hope. Problematic, when used to mean troublesome. Problematic means questionable.
2) The pronunciation of h-mosexual. The word is not derived from the Latin homo (meaning man) as in Homo Sapiens . It is from the Greek homo (meaning the same) as in homogenised — and it is pronounced as with a short first vowel as in Hommo .
3) Epicentre is not the absolute core of the exact middle of the centre. It is the point on the surface above the centre of something, such as an earthquake. If Wall Street is at the epicentre of the world financial contretemps, the trouble must be occurring on the subway below.

If viewers play a drinking game based on these four clangers in ABC News, they might never sober up.

Alan Kerlin writes: People often forget that the ABC is an arm of the Australian Government. So as a person who writes for the Government for a living, I have no problem with the ABC being asked to adhere to the same high standards of writing that the rest of us are asked (quite rightly I believe) to maintain. Kudos also to Mr Cameron for encouraging more plain and conversational English. There is much that the ABC could be doing to improve our knowledge of the language — eradicate all uses of “different to” for instance, a misuse that has been becoming all too common on ABC News. Alas, it is often the way that someone castigating others over poor grammar makes an error themselves: “An Americanism which we won’t be adopting” should be “An Americanism that we won’t be adopting” Mr Cameron. (Australian Government Style Manual 6 th Edition p. 75)

Coca-Cola:

Niall Clugston writes: Re. “Kerry Armstrong sells her soul for Coke” (yesterday, item 6). While commenting Kerry Armstrong’s Coca-Cola commercial, Dr Stephen Downes appears to accept the “myth-busting” claims as good coin. The health issues aside, it is simply ludicrous to suggest that Coke never contained cocaine. This in fact is tantamount to accusing their founder of fraud, since the name “Coca” clearly implies otherwise, and cocaine (like opiates) was a legal and accepted ingredient in household medicines and refreshments in the nineteenth century. The advertisement’s fine print carefully states that the drug wasn’t “added”. Well, it didn’t need to be: it was contained in the cola leaves which were an essential part of the mixture. Before the interference of legislators, drinkers would have received the same mild stimulant as the native South Americans who chew the leaves in the present day.

Trial by jury:

Andrew Lewis writes: Re. “Crime too complex for trial by jury” (Friday, item 15). I have to support Greg Barns call for the abolition of trial by jury. Trial by jury does not rely on the reasonableness and intelligence of 11 men and women good and true, it relies on the probability that among those 11 is at least one person who is of sufficient intelligence to work it out and then have the wherewithal to convince his/her fellow jurors. In spite of our hopes that the odds are good, the truth is that they are not.

Even if you get lucky and find one intelligent person, one belligerent activist can force retrials (the Joh Bjelke-Petersen case springs to mind) or then there are the judges who will abort a trial because one of the jurors walked past a newsstand. Trial by jury is a farce, and has lost all of its original meaning and intent. If I ever commit a crime I will surely be seeking trial by jury. Conversely, if I am ever charged with a crime I did not commit I will be seeking a hearing before a judge alone. I’m sorry my fellow citizens, but I trust your analytical skills and basic intelligence not at all.

Canada:

Dairobi Paul writes: Re. “Richard Farmer’s political bite-sized meaty chunks” (yesterday, item 11). Richard Farmer wrote: “No such problem for the incumbent Conservative Government in Canada. As campaigning entered its final two days the pollsters had it leading the Liberals clearly.” Honestly, Crikey, why do you bother to publish such obvious rubbish? Check out these links: here, here and here. It all equals a likely minority government for the Conservative Party.

ASIO:

Ernie Biscan writes : Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 8). How pathetic are ASIO in their attempts to recruit people to make faulty intelligence assessments on behalf of the nation? When you go on to seek.com.au and search for PR jobs the first listing is for ‘intelligence officers’ for ASIO. Just what Australia needs … PR professionals adept at spinning like a top working in national security. The Tampa legacy obviously still lives large among the nation’s best and brightest spooks.

Farren Ray and coal:

Pat Berzin writes : Re. “First Dog on the Moon” (Friday, item 7). Farren Ray was in Friday’s First Dog on the Moon. Peter Logue from the Australian Coal Association (yesterday, comments) mentioned that the same person would look good in a helmet. I would like to know whether Farren Ray is a real person or an in-joke that I am too uninformed or unimaginative to get?

In response, First Dog on the Moon writes : Hi Pat, some unkind Bulldogs supporters may suggest that Farren Ray is both an in-joke and a real person. I however, am not one of them. While you are clearly uninformed about football, I would suggest that this not something to be concerned about. In the cartoon in question, Farren is an every-footballer. He represents any player who may be traded like a commodity, with little regard for the person involved. He has in fact, been traded to St Kilda for a second round pick and not China. Probably the best the dogs could do under the circumstances and no, you don’t have to know what that means either. Did you know however that China takes less than 2% of Australia’s coal exports? I didn’t either.

Thought of the day:

Bev Kilsby writes : Re. “Never mind the markets, capitalism has a crisis of faith” (yesterday, item 14). Bernard Keane wrote: “The Church of England came up with a prayer for the financial crisis back in September. You’d imagine most City bankers wouldn’t be practising Anglicans, but, equally, I bet a lot have found God in the last few days.” I think the Anglican Church has to take an interest in people — especially the young — and look at Hill Song in Sydney. Some people are dead spiritually in my opinion. I would love to see the young, and students, given a hearing in the Church. Do not leave the Church to the old who are nearly ready to die. Maybe people will start thinking.

Send your comments, corrections, clarifications and c*ck-ups to [email protected]rikey.com.au. Preference will be given to comments that are short and succinct: maximum length is 200 words (we reserve the right to edit comments for length). Please include your full name — we won’t publish comments anonymously unless there is a very good reason.

Peter Fray

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