GFC profits prove a need for a BET

Roger Davenport writes: Re. “Keane: politics goes back to 2010 … again” (Friday). Despite the Global Financial Crisis, the big four banks have continued to grow every year. This could be due to the funds being guaranteed by the taxpayer. They have increased their profits every year, what is more, well above the rate of inflation. No doubt this has made the shareholders extremely happy when they receive the growing dividends. Yet they refuse to decrease the mortgage rate in line with the base rate struck by the Reserve Bank.

Seeing as the MRRT tax has so far produced the results that Wayne Swan expected we should introduce a Bank Extortion Tax when they (the banks) fail to reduce rates in line with the Reserve Bank benchmarks.

Linking earthquakes to climate change?

Tamas Calderwood writes: Re. “Why scientists should, sometimes, be on trial” (Friday). Upulie Divisekera and Will Grant quite sensibly parse the issue of the Italian scientists and what they were charged with.  The Italian scientists confidently gave L’Aquila’s people reassurance that there was little danger of an earthquake where they had no such knowledge. Earthquake prediction is notoriously difficult and it is arguable that the people of L’Aquila should have known this, ignored the scientific advice and taken precautions based on their own assessment.  However as the authors point out, if scientists “ask to be taken seriously, should [they not] also expect to bear responsibility for that?”.

The answer is of course yes.  If a doctor can be sued for misdiagnosis or an engineer found negligent for a building’s collapse, then peddling certainty about the dangers of an earthquake where no such certainty exists should surely be reprimanded.

So the parallel they draw with Australia is intriguing.  The authors say “we face cyclones and bushfires, and any number of other calamities that are not entirely understood by science”.  Yet we do indeed have experts confidently linking such events to the big daddy of them all — climate change — when there is no evidence to support this.  The difference is that no direct deaths have resulted from such nonsense. Instead, we’ve just wasted tens of billions of dollars.

Consequently, when Italian experts tell you not to worry about earthquakes or when climate scientists bang on about the coming apocalypse, look at the evidence and judge for yourself. Until we resolve our situation whereby (as President Eisenhower put it) public policy has become the captive of a scientific-technological elite, we need to keep judging these risks for ourselves. L’Aquila shows that we simply can’t rely on the experts.

The university history department

Helen Mackenzie writes: Re. “Mass-educate: classless future for universities” (Friday). Dean Ashenden states that “in 1950 there were just six universities.” This is incorrect. There were eight. Besides the six sandstone universities in the state capitals, both ANU and UNSW were operating before 1950.

Rudd sympathisers needs to build a bridge

Dylan Taylor writes: Re. “McKew book: how internal polling brought Rudd undone” (Friday). Some advice to Maxine McKew et al: stop obsessing about it. It has happened before and will happen again — Bob Hawke did it to Bill Hayden, Malcolm Fraser did it to Billy Snedden, Paul Keating did it to Hawke and famously Tony Abbott did it to Malcolm Turnbull. That’s politics.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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