It must be tempting. Having been subjected for all those years to Liberal and National taunts about running up the national “credit card” limit, surely Labor will be tempted to say no to Treasurer Joe Hockey’s attempt to massively increase the federal government’s borrowing limit. Making the Coalition return to Parliament a second time before the next election would reinforce the hypocrisy that Hockey showed in opposition with all his talk about the need to bring the budget back to balance quickly.
For what it’s worth. That public attitudes can change over time could not be better illustrated than the finding by Gallup released last night that a clear majority of Americans now favour the legalisation of marijuana.
While in the US there has even been some success in getting politicians to go along with that majority opinion — use of the drug is now legal in Colorado and Washington state — there are no signs yet of any Australian legislature following suit.
The computing failure rate. The problems the US administration is having with its HealthCare.gov website will not surprise anyone ever involved with major government IT projects anywhere. I noticed a story overnight that Computer World yesterday came out with a report (not yet on the web when I looked) showing 96% of the US IT procurements greater than $10 million in the past 10 years failed.
The comments of Clay Johnson, founder and CEO of the Department of Better Technology and the author of an e-book on modernising the federal government’s procurement process, to Wonkblog seem to me to fit our country’s experience as much as his:
“They come in over budget, or vastly too late, or they don’t work at all. To me, if you’re going to spend a whole bunch of money on a process with a 96 percent failure rate, it pretty much guarantees it won’t work out that well. This just isn’t something we’re very good at. And HealthCare.gov is a symptom of that overall problem …
“The other part is that there aren’t enough people inside government with the technical knowledge to oversee this stuff.
Enter the boiler suit. In the last Australian election Liberal strategist Mark Textor put then-opposition leader Tony Abbott in a bright velcro vest and hard hat right at the centre of campaign pictures. Now in Britain his partner Lynton Crosby has further developed the working look by putting his client, Prime Minister David Cameron, into a boiler suit.
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News and views noted along the way.
- Does the global warming ‘pause’ mean what you think it means? — “One key piece of information that’s usually omitted when discussing this subject is that the overall warming of the entire climate system has continued rapidly over the past 15 years, even faster than the 15 years before that. The speed bump only applies to surface temperatures, which only represent about 2 percent of the overall warming of the global climate. Can you make out the tiny purple segment at the bottom of the above figure? That’s the only part of the climate for which the warming has ‘paused’. As the IPCC figure indicates, over 90 percent of global warming goes into heating the oceans, and it continues at a rapid pace, equivalent to 4 Hiroshima atomic bomb detonations per second.
- Competing successfully in a globalising world: Lessons from Lancashire — “Europeans worry about competition from low-wage economies. This column looks at the basis of the success of the 19th-century Lancashire cotton industry faced with a similar situation. The message is that the productivity benefits of a successful agglomeration can underpin both high wages and competitive advantage in world trade. Policymakers can support such agglomerations by easing land-use restrictions, promoting investments in transport, and providing local public goods.
- 5 of the most interesting stories from David Folkenflik’s upcoming Murdoch biography
- Is Libya on the brink of a new civil war?
- Why politicians and celebrities never say what they really think — “With so many people eager to start a nontroversy on social media, it’s safer to be bland, as Nigella Lawson found out after a recent interview.”