Rudd money:

Chris O’ Regan writes: Re. “Rudd’s stimulus has nothing to do with the economy” (yesterday, item 2). What rubbish Sinclair Davidson. In terms of scale relative to the overall national economy, the US’s so-called “huge” stimulus package was a drop in the proverbial bucket compared to the effort the Australian government has put in to protect its own local economy, and you know it. One reason why the US is in severe recession while Australia is not.

While we’re at it, your contention “This type of expenditure is better managed, financed and undertaken at the local level and not by the federal government” is a neat example of how bone-headed your “dry” approach to spending is. The point is that without the stimulus package, the sheds, gyms, and school halls (oh, and the computer labs, and the textbooks) would never have been purchased or built, because no private entity was willing to incur the cost, since as you note there is no “additional economic benefit” in these things in the narrow sense that they don’t generate a profit for a local private corporation.

Another obvious fact is that the level of public debt in Australia remains entirely manageable — a stark contrast in many cases to the private debt levels that accreted so massively over the last decade. Why exactly will sustainably increasing public debt “create difficulties growing forward”? Because it means that corporate tax rates in Australia are likely to remain above zero in the foreseeable future? I can see how that would upset the IPA’s paymasters, but not how it creates difficulties for Australians that expect to be employed, educated, and supported by government in times of hardship.

Les Heimann writes: Sinclair Davidson opines that the recent economic stimulus was quite irrelevant; all is well, employment is fine, we didn’t need the help — excuse me! What utter rubbish! The fact is the stimulus worked. We retained the confidence in our economy — that’s why we didn’t go down the pathway the rest of the world has. People spent — and spent. As well they saved — and saved.

The cloistered halls of academia should keep their heads out of the trough of real life, it doesn’t suit them. The fact is, people panic and this government had the guts and the will to stop the panic.

Frankly I am astounded not to have read this article as a full colour wrap around in The Australian.

Andrew Lewis writes: I read Sinclair Davidson’s stimulus analysis wondering what I was reading. The, well, I can only call it a disclaimer, that he is a senior fellow of the Institute of Public Affairs was sufficient for me to realise what was going on.

How the IPA get away with appending “Senior Fellow” to its cohorts is a whole other story, but not the point of my correspondence. At least the disclaimer meant that I didn’t have to mistake the piece for serious analysis, and feel obliged to point out the many factual errors and analytical sleights of hand that he employs.

I would dearly love to read any writings with some intellectual rigour from the right of politics. It seems however that a “right-wing intellectual” is an oxymoron. Perhaps your readers could direct me to something from overseas.

Guy Rundle, you must have read someone from the political right that isn’t pure bunkum.

Tim Villa writes: Behind the “make work schemes” derided by Sinclair Davidson, perhaps fairly on the face of it, lie important future proofing. Prof Davidson refers to the important reforms of the Hawke government that helped cushion the Australian economy in the present downturn. Today’s schemes are also intended to upgrade the industrial, transport and educational infrastructure that will cushion us in the next one.

Tom Osborn writes: What is it that Sinclair Davidson misunderstand about the relationship between stimulus and the velocity of money? “Better sheds, gyms or school halls” are side effects and extra bonuses from stimulating the velocity of money in an economy which is slowing down.

I haven’t seen such dogmatic drivel since I seriously failed some students for confusing evidence with limp polemicism. Perhaps Davidson’s role with IPA exactly cancels out his role as a professor, leaving a vacuum of substance!

Nuclear power:

Ken Lambert writes: Re. “Rundle: Who ate all the yellowcake?” (yesterday, item 12). Guy Rundle should get his nuclear information from Ziggy Switkowski rather than Jane Fonda. He doesn’t seem to grasp the idea of energy density.

Yellowcake is the most energy dense fuel, and when processed into fuel rods; a couple of rail cars will feed a central electricity plant for a year. Coal firing will require countless 10,000 tonne train loads. Wind is diffuse, variable and generally far from major loads — storage, backup and transport to grid are major costs. Solar is diffuse, and with the exception of hot water and possibly solar-thermal augmentation of steam plant is the most expensive — 5-10 times the cost of central coal fired generation.

Geothermal is a “gunna” technology — gunna happen one day — but feasible if the hot rocks are hot and numerous enough and the energy can be efficiently transported to the load. And CCS is simply BS — Guy will never will find enough holes in the ground in which to dump 10,000 tonne trainloads of liquid CO2. The hypocrisy of Rudd Labor is nauseating — happily crowing about selling $50 billion of LNG to the Chinese to convert to energy and CO2; yellowcake to the world for nuclear generation; but no, not that — not lethal, dangerous nuclear power for Oz.

Nic Maclellan writes: Re. “Paul Howes’ u-propaganda is radioactive” (yesterday, item 4). Nice to see Jim Green and Guy Rundle joining the AWU’s Paul Howes in the debate on nuclear power. The level of spin about the so-called “nuclear renaissance” in the Australian media is astounding, thanks to the uranium mining lobby. In comparison, just look at articles in radical greenie publications like Time magazine or the New York Times, who’ve twigged that the nuclear industry is a financial disaster.

In The Oz, Paul Kelly complained this week that taxpayers are being asked to subsidise the renewable energy industry, but it’s the nuclear industry that really wants taxpayers to foot the bill for costs like reactor decommissioning, insurance and long-term waste management. Around the world, venture capitalists looking for energy investments are shying away from nuclear — in 2007, private capital put US$71 billion into renewable energy but zero into nukes. We should do the same.

And by the way, when is Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Alan Griffin going to reply to the Maralinga veterans who are waiting for proper compensation from the government, after our last burst of nuclear enthusiasm in the 1950s?

Working families:

Greg Williams writes: Re. “A ruddle: every word our PM has uttered, boiled into a Wordle” (yesterday, item 15). Obviously a fabrication: where is the flogged-to-death “WORKING FAMILIES” (in a font size of a minimum of 120)?

Newspaper DeathWatch:

News Ltd subeditor Mike Wards writes: Re. “Death of newspapers: it’s the advertising, stupid” (Monday, item 4). You know, the saddest thing is that some of the best analytical brains in journalism are preoccupied with picking over its corpse.

Black Saturday:

Lyall Chittleborough writes: Re. “The CFA myth and other fables the Commission failed to fire” (yesterday, item 3). The point remains ignored that suitability of homes as fire refuges cannot be considered blanket-style and the foremost consideration is flammability of the building’s materials. Bricks don’t burn, wood does. How many photos from the fires show anything standing unless it is masonry? Re-build safely and you’ve got a chance.

A house being rained upon by a well designed sprinkler system cannot be compared as a refuge with one which has nothing. Can we focus on practical particulars of known effectiveness rather than argue about generalities of policy which don’t have universal relevance.

South Australia learned practical lessons of respect from the 1981 and 1983 Ash Wednesday fires but the bigger disaster in Victoria is not yielding the same hard-headedness.

Name changing:

Katalin Erdosi writes: Re. Name changing (yesterday, comments). Oh please stop, to all those commentators who equated changing your name with winding back women’s rights by a century . I’m getting married this year and I plan to take on my husband’s name. I figure as we have decided to form a family unit it’s nice to have the same surname.

It symbolises that we are joined and (for me at least) a level of commitment that is synonymous with marriage. I guess we could choose a new surname or maybe use mine, in reality I don’t think either of us would care too much.

In the end my surname does not change who I am, my values, or my relationship, it’s just a name!

Ticketek:

June Carter writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 8). Crikey published:

I can confirm the tip in yesterday’s Crikey that, “Despite many assurances to the contrary, Ticketek staff are still using a system known as “grabs” to secure seats to premium concerts and sporting events”, has been going on for years. A friend managing a Newsagency (and Ticketek agency) purchased me and others front row seats to see Jerry Seinfeld (very limited tickets) in Melbourne many years ago. Exactly the system as described above — no queuing, lots of enter pressing a minute before release. The real problem was Ticketmaster had all the good events. By the way, Seinfeld was crap.

I am a Ticketek agent in South Australia and there is NO WAY that my staff can get a ticket prior to the on sale time of the hot sell. We cannot allocate ourselves a different log on and it is a breach of our contract to allow anyone including family to get tickets any other way except to line up and wait their turn. They cannot buy over the phone or ANY other way with a Ticketek agency except to come into the store and line up.

I think you should check your sources.

I have been an agent for some years and have never had any issues like you have mentioned. It actually cannot be done on our machines. I don’t know about the box office but my dealings with them have always been quite honourable and I am sure they are unhappy with the reporting of such rubbish.

Tom Cruise:

Margarete Henley writes: Re. “The Daily Telegraph, Tom Cruise and the trip that never was” (Monday, item 3). Who gives a rats arse where Tom Cruise is. Crikey, leave it to New Idea for all that rubbish.

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

Fetch your first 12 weeks for $12

Here at Crikey, we saw a mighty surge in subscribers throughout 2020. Your support has been nothing short of amazing — we couldn’t have got through this year like no other without you, our readers.

If you haven’t joined us yet, fetch your first 12 weeks for $12 and start 2021 with the journalism you need to navigate whatever lies ahead.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW