Rudd, Turnbull and stimulating the economy:

Martin Gordon writes: Re. “Ken Henry does a runner while the rest of us wait for stimulus” (Friday, item 1). It seems Kevin has found socialism! The 7,000 word essay (not quite a Castro-like five hour diatribe) depicts none other than the ALP as the potential saviour of Australia that the entire fault lies with the banks, markets and of course the Coalition parties etc. Perhaps some show trials and some more scapegoats are needed? Why do I sound sceptical, his rejection of “old style socialism” has a “third way” Clinton or Blair feel about it?

Perhaps we can call it the “fourth way” to differentiate this new found enthusiasm to regulate and control, it certainly won’t result in more fairness. I note he resists protectionism but does not satisfactorily explain that his and associated parties overseas have happily embraced the “neo-liberal” policies in our liberal democracy to date? The answer incidentally is they worked and outperformed any socialist alternative.

After the May 2008 Budget one journalist described Rudd as follows “his actions are vintage Labor, with predictable socially divisive effects creating camps of haves and have-nots.” All of this has the smell of spin rather than substance and simply for electoral posturing.

Remember the Rudd government only last year was cutting back on demand and increasing unemployment and was shown to be spectacularly wrong. Rudd is wrong again!

Niall Clugston writes: While longing for the days of simpler economics, Bernard Keane thinks “Turnbull is right, though — tax cuts, if directed at the low-paid, can provide an ongoing stimulus”. In fact there is a very strong economic argument that direct government spending is the most effective kind of stimulus, simply because all of it is spent immediately and none of it is saved. Of course this sticks in the right-winger’s gullet.

But the right-winger always favours tax cuts, and stimulus is merely today’s reason. However, as Keane notes, the small government credo is the right-winger’s Sermon on the Mount – preached but never put into practice. In Turnbull’s case it’s hard to understand why he would want to put further strain on government revenue, given his professed concern about budget deficits.

The answer to this lay in politics not economics.

John Kotsopoulos writes: Bernard Keane is correct in taking the ex-merchant banker to task for his attack on the Australian Business Investment Partnership and his preparedness to allow the commercial property sector to go down the gurgler taking tens of thousands of jobs with it. It seems the “jobs, job, jobs” mantra is already as irrelevant as his Treasury spokesperson.

What I also want to know is where are the dial-a-quote building and property chiefs who never miss a chance to give Labor a kicking at State and Federal level. Why are they not also giving Turnbull a well deserved bake for this latest in a long line of atrocious and inconsistent rants?

 Their silence is deafening and represents a gross dereliction of duty to their members and their employees who face ruin if the ex-merchant banker had his way.

Heatwave09 — won’t someone think of the animals?

Geoff Russell, Animal Liberation SA, writes: Re. “And the Wankley goes to… heatwave hysteria” (Friday, item 18). Call my old fashioned but I hate smart arse journalists who think suffering is funny and news about suffering is wank. What does Ruth Brown think real news is about?

Here in Adelaide people are dying. This isn’t a “crisis” Ruth Brown, this is a crisis. Is it funny that meerkats might die without appropriate action? I think not. But I do have a complaint about the news coverage, in which I include Ruth’s piece, and that is the near total (with the exception of ABC rural blindness to the fate of the animals that are still stuffed daily into trucks and transported around the country.

The worst affected are probably cattle. They are huge, generate a lot of heat and we more and more stick them in feedlots and exacerbate their natural difficulties. That “lovely” layer of artery clogging fat that forms with grain feeding acts like an insulator, trapping heat so that the animal’s core body temperature rises. They eventually go into convulsions and die and an autopsy will reveal burst blood vessels in various internal organs.

An acquaintance dropped a broiler chicken into our house which had fallen off a truck during a run of hot days last January. The rapid breathing and obvious distress were horrible to see — the bird died despite our best efforts. The Government’s Animal Welfare office told us that it was a difficult problem, “because people still have to eat during hot weather”.

“They don’t have to eat f-cking animals,” was my obvious reply.

Animal Liberation had an irate call from a member of the public last week. She had come across a fully loaded sheep truck parked in full sun during the heat of the day — yes, it was our 45.7 degree day. Where was the driver? Having a sleep in his air conditioned cabin!

The RSPCA was notified and we can only hope that the moron driver will be sent to a re-education camp out on the Nullarbor.


Moira Smith writes: Re. “Are you being sacked? Myer’s cost-cutting casualties” (28 January, item 3). () The latest staff cuts at Myer must be cutting deep. It was at least a couple of years ago I took my aged Dad to the local Myer to buy new clothes. Not a salesperson in sight. My Dad needs to have something to sit on while dressing/undressing and I had to traverse miles of un-staffed sales floor to find a (very heavy) chair and drag it back to the changing room.

I then went round the racks selecting possible items for him to try on … at the end, having made our choice, we finally, with some difficulty and having traversed more miles of sales floor, found someone to take our money.

John Updike:

Michael Costello writes: Re. “Vale John Updike: a Crikey compendium” (28 January, item 18). Any doubts I had about the SMH being a tabloid masquerading as a serious broadsheet were dispelled this week with it treatment of the death of John Updike. All it could muster last Wednesday was an obit from the London Telegraph and a strip on page four from a wire service. While it has the resources to fill a page every day with celebrity drivel (Stay in Touch) it has none to provide a local response to the death of one of the truly great writers of the past 50 years.

The Age was able to provide comment from the likes of Helen Garner and Peter Craven, but not granny. I have a terrible suspicion that the cultural pool at granny is so shallow that no one appreciated his significance; he was just the bloke whose book the movie The Witches of Eastwick was based on. The shallowness was also evidenced in its promotion of a print by the hip Ken Done, Reg Mombassa.

Same s-x couples:

David Mulally writes: Re. “1000 pages of problems, and DOCS does what?” (Friday, item 12). Why bother with families of same s-x couples when there are 1000 pages of problems with opposite s-x ones? The willingness of the NSW government to address same s-x equality casts an unfortunate light on Alex Mitchell’s 431 words. With such an easy target as the NSW government, it’s hard to see why the drip-feed, glacial-paced acquiescence of equality needs to be trivialised to score any points.

My family is happy Linda Burney has paused straight back-slapping long enough to allow sensible discussions of equality for others. Today the minor concession to same-s-x families of “we’ll talk”; tomorrow we can all go back to the main game of celebrating opposite s-x ones.

Henry Ergas:

Verity Pravda writes: Henry Ergas (Friday, comments) advised: “As I have never been ‘in the pay of the Federal Liberal Party’, your comment is entirely incorrect.” However, Mr Ergas does not deny that he is indeed doing work for the Liberal Party, work that the Liberal Party is promoting on the basis of Ergas standing as an economic expert.

On my reading of the electoral funding laws a contribution of his expertise in this way would be a gift of his services, and hence disclosable by the Liberal Party. A quick check didn’t find any such disclosure. This suggests that either the Liberal Party has failed to disclose the work, that Mr Ergas has put in so little work for the Liberal Party that the total was insufficient to report, that his work is of such poor quality that it isn’t of sufficient value to reach the disclosure limit — or, far more likely, that his only paid work has been through the Menzies Research Centre, and the denial is therefore, mere sophistry.

Climate change:

Mark Byrne writes: What did Tamas Calderwood (29 January, comments) get wrong in his latest anti-global warming letter? He claims that computer models do not provide scientific evidence — wrong. Calderwood confuses evidence and proof. Computer models combine complex variables to test a thesis. The current models have transparent assumptions that are open to peer review. As such the results of these tests do provide evidence. Calderwood then cherry picks data to claim “the Earth has actually cooled.”

Using this sophistry one could claim every six months that global warm has stopped when the proportion of solar radiation hitting land and sea changes as summer switches from the land rich northern hemisphere to ocean rich southern hemisphere. These charts show the difference between noise and trend and show how premature Calderwood’s cooling claim is.

Calderwood then sets up a make-believe test for climate models, when he states that cooling (which is statistical noise not a trend) was not predicted by the models. This continues the previous error as models are not designed nor claiming to predict noise, rather they predict trends. Models run in 1990 have in fact predicted the current warming trend amazingly accurately.

Tamas Calderwood writes: The equally indefatigable Tim Marsh (Friday, comments) points me to a NASA graph that shows an increase in temperatures of a terrifying ~0.7C (net) over the course of the 20 th century. He also points to the thoroughly discredited “Mann hockey-stick” graph that claims the medieval warm period never happened and was quietly dropped by the IPCC for their 2007 reports.

You’ll have to do better than that Tim. Satellite data shows there has been no warming for a decade and 1998 was the hottest year. So where is this global warming?