Rudd’s plasma and pokies package:

Let’s elope with Asia:

John Goldbaum writes: Re. “Rudd’s plasma and pokies package” (yesterday, item 1). Poor Bernard Keane is still living in a pre-10/10 world and that is why we post-10/10 people seem like jabbering lunatics to him. As Mr Rudd won’t level with Bernard, allow me to explain what happens next. It is no longer a financial crisis and it won’t be an economic crisis for much longer. Uncle Sam, the UK and Europe are printing money like Zimbabwe in order to reflate their economies. The caravan will soon move on Bernard. Next stop is the bond market crisis. The Chinese and the Japanese have done their dough. The US dollar is not worth what it was. But the Asians can’t send their gunboats to the US to reclaim what they are owed because Uncle Sam has nukes. They will have to settle for not throwing good money after bad.

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The Asians will write down their bad bonds and ramp up their domestic consumption to soak up their production. The US will whistle Dixie. Then it will become an economic crisis again, but only for debtors — a bit like debtors prison. The US, the UK and Europe all face a prolonged and deep recession — we used to call them depressions but the Great Depression was so traumatic that we had to find a new euphemism for hunger, unemployment and homelessness. Australia needs to elope with the Asian caravan if we want to eat, work and live in houses. Thank goodness we are all now Mandarin-speaking economic conservatives.

Is greed good?:

Michael Vanderlaan writes: I don’t understand. Six months ago we were told to stop buying all those luxury items and pull our belts in. Now we have to get the lubricant flowing and start spending again (on plasmas and pokies no less). It’s typical to note that economists and bankers all declare this a good thing. Whether it be putting the flat-screen on the wall, upgrading to that 4WD, or adding a few more inches around the waste line, (previously driven by cheap credit and aspirational politics, and now encouraged by Rudd’s package), we seem to believe that rampant consumerism is the solution to our ills. I truly hoped that this financial crisis would allow the developed world to take a good hard look at the way it lives.

It seems we have circled around but not directly faced the fact that over-indulgence in discretionary items and status symbols (read “greed”, “envy” and “gluttony”) cannot be sustained indefinitely. The subprime crisis should have told us this; global warming should be telling us this; increased obesity and impact to health systems should be telling us this….. evidently not. Encouraging us to spend may be of short-term benefit to the economy, and to that of “industry”, but it still fails to address society’s deeply-misguided attitudes to work, savings, spending, and sustainability.

The cliff’s edge:

John Poppins writes: If we are to deal with the terrifying prospects facing us and our children not a dollar of the stimulus package should be spent on any project or infrastructure which does not markedly improve our climate changing behaviour. Judiciously used the stimulus funding provides us with a once in a lifetime opportunity to turn around the perverse incentives which are sending us hurtling towards a cliff. Let us look at the local manufacture and employment generated by such activities as making and installing domestic water tanks, building up our public transport networks, and installing only truly sustainable power generating capacity along with effective power saving measures.

By directing funds towards more infrastructure to ship coal and woodchips, to cater for more cars and trucks, to build desalination plants and to continue the spread of McMansions over farmland we reinforce the current insanity and lose this opportunity.

A geriatric spending spree:

Pat Berzin writes: I wrote some time ago saying that I managed quite well on the single Age Pension and that is still true. Recently politicians have been rabbiting on about single aged pensioners needing an increase of $30 a week in order to get off their diet of jam sandwiches so I think the Prime Minister has been goaded into losing his nerve and succumbing to all the hysteria generated by pollies and lobbyists. Shame on him. The money allocated to the one off payment to Age pensioners could have been used to build accommodation for those pensioners who do not own their own houses. It could have improved health and transport services. Instead it is going to provide a spending spree for geriatrics — of which I am.

One woman interviewed on Tuesday night on the ABC said she needed the extra money because she had a “lot of grandchildren”. Is this the general society’s financial responsibility? And Bernard Keane is right about the pokies and plasmas. There are many worthy causes in desperate need of money in these hard times such as Bridge for Asylum Seekers, Vinnies, the Valentino Achak Deng Foundation etc and I think that is where I will pass on some of my largesse and I hope others will also. I may even consider using some of it to renew my Crikey subscription as soon as I can do it without a credit card…

Stalin would know what to do:

Peter Lloyd writes: John Goldbaum’s optimism (yesterday, comments) is completely misplaced. His claim that “the reason fiscal stimulus is the solution to the looming economic crisis is that the governments of the world have now united to regulate financial institutions and markets so there will not be a repeat of the financial crisis in the future” would be utterly laughable if it were not for the sickening manner in which the economic neocons are dodging the consequences of their actions over 30 years. Any regulation introduced now will be whittled away in coming years by the same nutbags who have been so vocal in telling us that all government intervention is evil and “inefficient” (these two concepts being interchangeable in the minds of adherents).

Notice that while socialists disappeared during the 80s, the people who got us into Iraq and commercial anarchy are all still employed and prominent? The current crisis is a mere hiccough for the executives (employees) who take over large institutions and get themselves on the drip, making huge fortunes out of broad market movements, and insulating themselves from the downside… all while claiming the massive “risks” they shoulder justify their disgusting habits. As long as shareholders and voters are so easily outmanoeuvred by our self-serving “leaders”, both political and commercial, this situation will continue. Stalin would know what to do.

Kevin’s Port Arthur.:

Alan Lander writes: Bernard Keane can speculate all he likes. History will show the current response to the financial crisis is Kevin’s Port Arthur.


David Lenihan writes: Re. Martin Gordon (yesterday, comments). Obama’s a liar? Of course you do not add both The Economist and Wall St Journal are renowned right, Republican supporting mags and does the name Rupert Murdoch being associated with them mean anything? You fail to mention the hatred being spewed by the Republican VP nominee and her supporters at her rallies. Cries of “Kill him Kill him”, aimed at Obama of course, and accusations he is a paedophile, he is a terrorist, hates America, is a Muslim etc etc obviously all OK in Mr Gordon’s book.

If quoting the two publications you have, is your authority for the liar tag and justification of same, you may as well throw in Fox News’ O’Reilly and his cohorts, they are in the same league. I believe the low level the Republican campaign has sunk to; barring a political miracle will see the US first black President. If he lives through his first term may well be the true miracle, given the deep rooted hatred still existing in some sections of the American people. God forbid it happens but the threats are being made loudly already.

Freedom of speech:

Niall Clugston writes: Re. “On freedom of speech and Gerald Fredrick Toben” (yesterday, item 10). I would join with Bernard Keane in condemning the treatment of Toben as a flagrant attack on freedom of speech, except I don’t believe it’s actually happening. The story is clearly a fabrication and an outrageous slur against the good name of British justice!

Language wars:

Steve Martin writes: Max Reichert is dead right (yesterday, comments), there are much more important issues than “different from” and “different to” in English usage. Language is living and is continually changing over time, it isn’t owned by pedants. Take the case for example of prevaricate, and procrastinate. Prevaricate is misused so often that the Oxford English Dictionary takes note of the misuse in its definition. Or who these days knows what the phrase “to beg the question” means, certainly not the average journalist or interviewee?

Geoff Perston writes: Max Reichert asserts that he’s amused by the “twittering of self appointed guardians of the English language”. Sorry Max, but I’m even MORE amused by people such as yourself who then pen 263 words to complain about the complainers!

Trial by jury:

Jack Lewis writes: Re. Walt Hawtin (yesterday, comments). A jury of 12 people of an average age of say, 35 years provides 420 years of varied human experience in determining fact. One Judge provides a lifetime of a mix of fairness and prejudice in determining fact. Rather 12 minds at work than one determining fact.

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