Reform:

Kevin Hogarth writes: Re. “Crikey’s reform report card: how does Rudd stack up?” (yesterday, item 2). What about John Howard’s gun control measures, can this be added to your list. I can’t recall what if any legislation needed to be passed but I’m sure was a significant reform.

It was probably a popular reform over the general community but in the rural communities it was not universally popular. With Port Arthur fresh in memory it probably made things easier to achieve but took gumption I reckon.

Mark McLaughlan writes: I think you also need to include some kind of softening up effect by prior governments. For instance, John Hewson certainly took a major hit for GST which I think would allow there be a bit more understanding, less ability to run a major scare campaign etc.

UK Election:

Lord Peregrine of Curmudgeonly & Dolt writes: Re. “Rundle’s UK: fingers crossed for a full-blown constitutional crisis” (yesterday, item 1). I say chaps, bit rich to show your colonial ignorance by consuming Earl Grey at breakfast. Every well-bred gel knows it is only sipped in the afternoon, and with the little finger cupped inward to avoid crude gestures.

One word of advice before the chauffeur conveys me to the village polling booth (I should have 10 votes if the system were truly representative): be sure to make your butler don his silk glove before stabbing the muffin toasting fork into the fire as the OH&S people here in Great Britain have become unbearable since the socialists came to power.

I’m not even allowed to whip my serfs these days.

Greece:

Niall Clugston writes: Re. “The Greece basket case becomes a Greek tragedy” (yesterday, item 4). Two important points seem to have been overlooked in the discussion of the Greek Financial Crisis:

  1. The proposed solution – cuts in government spending, and therefore jobs — will undermine demand and therefore threatens to send the economy into a recessionary spiral.
  2. The whole concept of the euro is at fault.  Connecting vastly different economies and independently minded governments, it is rather like a tandem bicycle where everyone is trying to steer.  Why was it ever adopted in the first place?  For the general public, it represented fuzzy idea of world peace, and for the cognoscenti, it was a Trojan horse for monetary and fiscal discipline.  Both of these perspectives were largely illusions.

Values:

Ron Ainsbury writes: I think it is time that Australians, indeed most of the western world, started to focus less on GDP, GNP, NNI, or whatever, and start to factor in other values.

Isn’t it time we remembered the words of Bobby Kennedy?:

Truly we have a great gross national product, almost 800 billion dollars, but can that be the criterion by which we judge this country? Is it enough?

For the gross national product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and jails for the people who break them. It counts Whitman’s rifle and Speck’s knife and television programs, which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children. And the gross national product, the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, the joy of their play.

It is indifferent to the decency of our factories and the safety of our streets alike. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither wit nor courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our duty to our country.

It measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile, and it can tell us everything about America, except why we are proud to be Americans.

AFL betting:

Paul Sofronoff writes: Re. “AFL betting … and a sledgehammer to crush walnuts” (yesterday, item 17). For a moment I thought I was reading Andrew Bolt, but no it was Charles Happell.  All confected and overwrought, completely missing the point. Yes the $ amounts are small, but the risk to the integrity of the sport is enormous.

The AFL does not really care that a minor official spent $5 betting on a game they could not influence. What they really care about is reminding everyone that the rule will be applied in a black and white fashion, and most importantly, that they have the means to find out.

The walnuts are being smashed to avoid them sending out roots, and growing branches and leaves.

Peter Fray

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