The economy and house prices:

Alan Lander writes: Re. “Carr: Got a safe job? 2009 could be party time” (yesterday, item 4). Here we go again. Adam Carr repeats the belief home buyers will flood back into the market because all the fundamentals are still basically right in Australia. I can recall many a story in the last 18 months describing increasing numbers in the community would never become home owners due to house prices. Yet now we are in dire economic straits, and somehow these people are going to re-appear and save the day?

I am one of those who, should things remain as they are, will never own a home. I rent quite happily anyway, and look at a housing market that for years has been ridiculously over-priced. Carr, the government and others can continue to bleat that with interest rates coming down and higher first-time buyer inducements the market will return. But it won’t include me and I sense that there are many others who glance at a $400k house in a real estate window, say to themselves it’s barely worth $280k, and trundle on.

Why save $7,000 or so by buying an overpriced home now when sanity may one day return to the property market, and save $100k or $120k instead, we muse? And if the views of all those with vested interests in propping up the property market prevail, then people like me haven’t lost anything, have we? We’ll just again be the headline in a future story about those who will never be able to afford a home.

John Howard and the ABC:

John Goldbaum writes: Re. Yesterday’s editorial. John Howard’s first post-prime ministerial foray into the economic and political debate on the weekend of the G20 Washington summit convened to try to fix the global financial crisis just proves how out of time, out of touch and out of tune he is. His plea to “stop comparing what we now face with the Great Depression… [because]…it is unnerving to the average citizen to be constantly told that we’re in the worst situation since the Great Depression” is in stark contrast to George Bush’s post-summit statement that the United States was at risk of falling into “a depression worse than the Great Depression”. Old soldiers never die but they ought to fade away.

Nick Shimmin writes: It is typical of the direction of “My ABC” that, as mentioned in yesterday’s editorial, they spend so much of their air time cross promoting their own programs. As the only benchmark of success at the ABC these days seems to be ratings numbers (witness their attitude to Radio National specialist programs — the extent to which listeners VALUE a program is irrelevant if something else can get MORE listeners), it’s hardly surprising that they abuse airtime in otherwise serious news and current affairs programs to promote their own schedule rather than run the stories they’re supposed to run.

However, it was a delightful moment on Insiders on Sunday when, after running a full six or seven minutes promoting their own The Howard Years Malcolm Farr let rip at ABC publicity for believing Telegraph readers were too dumb to watch the ABC, and thus not sending preview copies to Telegraph journos. They chew up airtime promoting their product, but the publicity department can’t even manage to send three copies to the Insiders panel.

A satisfying embarrassment for those of us who believe the ABC should be covering news and current affairs rather than spruiking it’s schedule.

Rudd, Bush and G20:

Noel Courtis writes: Re. “G20 gaffe: Australian public say ‘whatever’” (yesterday, item 13). You say that Australians don’t care about Rudd and his blabby mouth — well I would like to say that I do. If you like George W. Bush or not, common manners are important and Rudd showed a complete lack of manners.

Mike Sanchez writes: Bernard Keane wrote: “Oh and they had a go at Crikey as well. We’re a ‘lame goose’. Yes, a ‘lame goose’. Don’t laugh. You’d be surprised how much a mixed metaphor can hurt when it’s thrown in anger.” Comrades, please don’t start using “lame goose” on your snotty sleeve as a badge of courage. Many of us out here don’t think the expression compliments you nearly enough.

Mick Callinan writes: Tony Krawczyk (yesterday, comments) wrote: “I really had a laugh at your accusation about The Australian having an agenda; the ultimate case of the pot calling the kettle black.” Perhaps so, Tony, but the kettle is, most assuredly, black.

NSW:

Niall Clugston writes: Re. “DGs fall like flies as Ridout fears a Rees recession” (yesterday, item 6). Does Crikey really need Alex Mitchell to parrot sensationalism about the “NSW debacle”? Yes, NSW’s economy is marginally worse off than other states. Yes, there’s a shortage of railways, just like 30 years ago — funny that! But Rees’s main problem is the electoral cycle. The media pack smells blood, and restaurant rudeness or underpants antics are enough to cut a minister down. The real debacle facing us is the prospect of these pseudo-newshounds frothing at the mouth for the next three years…

Childcare:

Stephen Magee writes: Monica Kane (yesterday, comments) said that childcare waiting lists in many areas “are already unrealistic”. She presumably means that demand outstrips supply. If that’s the case, why aren’t community groups and private providers rushing in to fill the gap, especially given the huge government subsidies on offer? I suspect that bureaucratic over-regulation may be the reason for the non-appearance of the community sector (it was certainly the reason I exited from a long-term involvement in a community provider).

Private sector providers may be equally discouraged by bureaucratic problems of a different sort – the community and local government opposition that manifests itself every time a childcare centre is proposed for a suburban street. Another problem may be that many parents are unwilling to pay anything like the full cost of their decision to have children and to take two jobs.

Public interest:

Steve Martin writes: It seems to me that Brian Mitchell (yesterday, comments), like a lot of other journos confuses “in the public interest.” with the public would be interested. Quite a difference I would think. How on earth is the public interest served by a photo of a distraught husband seeing his wife drown? There is a lot of this, not to put too fine a point on it, of ghoulish and crass journalism on display; particularly on what passes as TV News.

Home grown leadership:

Chris Hunter writes: Re. “America’s spirit of engagement puts Australia to shame” (yesterday, item 12). If America’s spirit of engagement puts Australia to shame then how come only those born on American soil can run for President? How many American citizens does this rule out from running for the top job? Hardly democratic and hardly engaging I would say. Thank God Australia doesn’t have the same xenophobic outlook. Australian Prime Ministers ruled out would include: John (Chris) Watson (Chile), George Reid (Scotland), Andrew Fisher (Scotland), Joseph Cook (England) and Billy Hughes (England).

Thought of the Day:

Bev Kilsby writes: Some times I wonder where common sense has gone in communications and relationships. And sometimes I feel out of the window. If you do not dress a certain way in some areas, or have your hair a certain way — they judge you. Not just the police but other people. Perhaps people are saving money, and may be quite content, with their lifestyle, but some people try to change you. How sad if in this day and age we cannot accept people as they are. I am still learning this process and am having fun doing it. I like a challenge, what about you?

Send your comments, corrections, clarifications and c*ck-ups to [email protected]. 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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