Punishing the victims. It seems a rather perverse system to me when federal funds are taken away from a state or territory government that does not meet some welfare spending target. The only sufferers from this practice, endorsed apparently by indigenous affairs minister Jenny Macklin, are the suffering people who end up with even less than expected through no fault of their own.

The latest plan is to strip funds from states and territories if they do not meet targets for Aboriginal children attending and completing school and failed to meet health targets. There has to be a better and more sensible way to get things done than this doctrinaire belief in the power of competition.

Punish the Seven network. I notice complaints this morning about the Seven  Network making a mockery of its so-called “live” telecast of the Bathurst car race. It reminded me that the channel was a serial offender with its AFL football final telecasts as well.

With them it might not have been the lengthy delay of Bathurst but for those of us who actually like to have a bet in running (or listen to the ABC radio broadcast rather than Dennis Commetti) the 30 second or so delay was quite bad enough.

Any more of such shenanigans and give all the rights to Foxtel is what I say.

The hot year continues. The market at Intrade is now putting the odds at close to 50:50 about 2010 being the warmest year for which NASA has records.

11-10-2010 worldtemperature

The long-lasting unemployment problem in the US. Two graphs from that excellent blog site Calculated Risk tell the sad and sorry tale of unemployment in the US.

UnemploymentRateSep2010

JobLossesRecessionsSep2010

For the current employment recession, employment peaked in December 2007, and this recession is by far the worst recession since WWII in percentage terms, and second worst in terms of the unemployment rate (only early ’80s recession with a peak of 10.8% was worse).

Blame Obama. The dreadful unemployment picture might not have been of Barack Obama’s making but he is clearly getting the blame for it with the Democrats now looking like losing their control of the House of Representatives in the forthcoming elections and in danger of losing their Senate majority as well.

Again the Intrade market assessment:

11-10-2010 usmidtermelections

Canada faces similar policy decision to Australia: to sell assets to China or not. The bid by BHP-Billiton for Potash Corp of Saskatchewan is presenting the Canadian Government with the same kind of problem the Australian government had when Rio Tinto tried to get a Chinese government corporation as one of its major shareholders.

8-10-2010 chinaandpotash

The Chinese chemical conglomerate Sinochem Group is seeking assurances from the Canadian Prime Minister’s office that a potential white knight offer for Potash Corp will be fairly considered.

The Toronto Globe and Mail reports “sources close to the state-owned enterprise” as saying they will not proceed with a bid for the world’s largest fertiliser firm unless it receives a positive signal from Ottawa.

The paper’s report says:

The Chinese company is considering leading a consortium bid for Saskatoon-based Potash Corp. that would top a $38.6 billion (US) hostile offer from Australian mining giant BHP Billiton Ltd. The potential Sinochem counterbid would be unprecedented as most Western countries, including Canada, have been wary of allowing state-controlled companies from China to buy major domestic resource assets.

Beijing-based Sinochem is understood to be willing to make extraordinary concessions to both the federal and Saskatchewan governments to assuage concerns over Chinese ownership of the Canadian resource crown jewel.

Among the considerations being discussed is a “golden share” in Potash Corp that would give the government a veto over any major changes to the corporation and its operations as well as a binding mechanism to allow it to enforce remedies if the new owners fail to live up to their commitments. The Chinese company would also promise to continue to sell Potash Corp’s production to China through the Canpotex marketing arm.

Peter Fray

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