ON THE HUSTINGS
Apparently there’s some sort of election happening in Australia soon. Danielle Wood is one of Australia’s best economists and her summation of the parties’ economic policies is one of the best pieces of policy analysis I’ve read through the campaign.
At Eureka Street, the wonderful Celeste Liddle talks about the ABC’s Vote Compass, Indigenous issues and opposition to an Indigenous voice to parliament.
In The Mess We’re In, I devoted a section to exploring how Australia, along with other countries, had deskilled and infantilised its governments, leading to rank incompetence whenever they attempted to do anything. This article — and the Financial Times one it is based on — advances what seems to a novel theory around incompetence in government: that a whole generation of people without a grounded sense of what governments could achieve are now in charge.
And if you followed UK Labour politics before Blair, you liked Bryan Gould. He’s now enjoying retirement and vindication on the EU in New Zealand.
ENVIRONMENTAL AS ANYTHING
Having watched ballast water-introduced oysters destroy Auckland Harbour beaches over the course of a couple of decades, I can vouch for this: how the increase in global shipping will dramatically increase the threat to coastal environments. With climate scientists warning that emissions abatement is no longer enough and that adaptation and carbon sequestration are needed to deal with negative feedback loops warming the planet, various forms of carbon capture — once a fashionable tech, now rejected as unworkable and costly — may yet have their moment. One proposal (beyond the only commercially viable one, which is planting forests) is airconditioners that extract CO2.
Jared Diamond argues there’s a 49% chance our civilisation will collapse by 2050. “I’ll be dead by then but my kids will be, what? Sixty-three years old in 2050,” he said. “So this is a subject of much practical interest to me.” My kids are a little younger and I hope to still be alive, if in my dotage, in 2050 but that’s exactly why I’m so alarmed about climate change.
LIFE EXPECTANCY AS A POLICY CHOICE
In the United States, rich men live fifteen years longer than poor men. And inequality kills in a variety of creative ways, a growing body of research shows. So let’s talk a bit about life expectancy gaps in Australia. The best known is the still-shocking gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians: currently that’s estimated to be 8.6 years for males and 7.8 years for females.
In 2017, Professor Julian Trollor and his team at UNSW showed Australians with an intellectual disability died, on average, 27 years younger than Australians without an intellectual disability. During the election campaign, Labor announced additional funding to improve the currently pitiful level of training medical professionals receive in treating people with intellectual disabilities, with the goal of reducing the discrimination and inept communication the latter suffer in the health system.
BREAKING NEWS FROM TRUMPISTAN
Back in the US, the political polarisation of America is being driven partly by the movement of highly educated people to a small number of “brain gain” states, leaving behind states with less educated populations and greater economic stagnation.
“Chimerical norms have undone representative democracy and are incapable of fixing it” — your guide to the anti-Trump genre of Resistance Lit and the fast and the fatuous who populate it. Alas for Donald, there is no evidence at all of any connection between undocumented immigrants and crime.
Why people who work at Facebook will never fix Facebook — because they live in a bubble free of Nazi trolling and garbage advertising. On that note, here’s a piece on the anti-Semitic terrorism that’s fuelled by a toxic mix of Christian fundamentalism and white identity. Plus, fundamentalist tyrants ask, Trump delivers.
This is like a short story from New Dystopias Vol 12 — the growing number of thawed mammoths, the underpaid workers who take their flesh and China’s burgeoning gene manipulation industry. For the moment, however, the most powerful gene-editing tool is CRISPR, and scientists are desperate to find a way to switch it off before it’s used to create something monstrous.
Plus, for those of you who still like to eat animals, here’s some further evidence of how farmed animals have complex emotions.
Relax, your phone is not killing you. Well, claims that it is can’t be backed up, at least.
Moreover, a tale of two trains in Japan: regional lines mull the closure of underused lines, prompting shock from residents used to governments giving them what they want, and survival tips for Westerners facing the Tokyo train crush. The declining availability of public toilets is no joke for a large proportion of the population.
Meet the Catholics who reject post-Vatican II “pitiful music that sounds like sub-standard off-Broadway lounge music” in favour of plainchant and polyphony. Which is as good a reason as any to play some William Byrd — Byrd was an Elizabeth/Jacobean composer who produced some outstanding works for the Church of England, like his Great Service, but was also a crypto-papist who did his best work in Latin. Here’s the New York Polyphony with an absolutely bloody cracking version of the opening of his “Mass for Four Voices”. Warning: spinal shivers ahead.