Saturday, 12 January 2013 - 2:46pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Sat, 12/01/2013 - 2:46pm

Dangar Falls is under threat of a "facelift". I said:

About time! Have you seen that place? Leaking water everywhere, and literally covered with all manner of trees and bushes. How many tourism industry awards has it won recently? None. It's just a wet hole that engages the simple minds of plebs who have no idea how much of their money it will take to make it natural, interactive, and heritage enough for stakeholders to extract some value.

Let's hope the Advocate can put together another one or two of it's "brains trusts" to get some revitalising defoliation and concreting done, while ruthlessly crushing all intransigent community groups.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013 - 8:56pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Wed, 09/01/2013 - 8:56pm

Glenn Greenwald:

[…] the very idea that someone should be disqualified from service in the Obama administration because of involvement in and support for extremist Bush terrorism polices [now] seems quaint and obsolete, given the great continuity between Bush and Obama on these issues. […] Within this change one finds one of the most significant aspects of the Obama presidency: his conversion of what were once highly contentious right-wing policies into harmonious dogma of the DC bipartisan consensus."

If there are any Nazi war criminals still in hiding, chances are Obama will track them down and give them a job.

Saturday, 29 December 2012 - 6:48pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Sat, 29/12/2012 - 6:48pm

Francine wrote:

"La Bal Masqué De Française" only sounds French.
"Le bal masqué à la française" is maybe what was meant.

I replied:

You're clearly not in the target market. The people this event is designed to attract are the Coffs elite, who are far too busy and important to be more than moderately literate in English, much less any other language. In any case, all the staff in prestige resorts speak English perfectly well, so why bother? Top-of-the-line luxury isn't for pedantic bookworms like you or I; we lack the suffistication and clarse to appreciate it. Does the Central European liqueur in the cupholder of your Audi have a flower in it? (A freaking flower, for Kerry Packer's sake! How cool is that?) I thought not. I rest my case.

Saturday, 29 December 2012 - 4:24pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Sat, 29/12/2012 - 4:24pm

I think Paul Krugman is currently circling around some interesting territory with his concept of "capital-biased technology", but contrary to the title, I don't think the data presented in this article - on the share of GDP going to labour - really has much to do with that.

Unless he's arguing that recessions are correlated with rapid technological change, a more or less conventional shock doctrine explanation serves much better: At times of crisis dish out austerity to the poor, and fiscal stimulous (or "money", as it's sometimes known) to the rich, with predicatable consequences. Then as the general economy improves, labour's share of GDP recovers somewhat, though not to previousl levels, and repeat the process when the next crisis hits. In fact, it also seems from this distance that some of the sharp drops fit very well with other public policy initiatives such as the "Reagan revolution" and the Bush tax cuts.

While I don't think it's the primary cause, I don't doubt that the long term trend is to some degree a consequence of technological change, in so far as new technological developments favour the interests of capital over labour. Since it is overwhelmingly capital that controls the allocation of resources to research and development, it's hard to imagine how the inverse might come to pass. And Krugman's prescription - to maintain the level of social spending at something like it's current rate by funding programs through something other than taxes on labour, perhaps even (gasp!) new taxes on capital - is perfectly sensible. (Though how he squares this with his advocacy elsewhere of a consumption tax, I don't know.)

A more fundamental solution to this trend would be to fund research and development in the public interest, perhaps through government agencies incorporated for that purpose. I recall Australia used to have one of those, before it was turned into a primarily commercial entity and patent troll.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012 - 10:48pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Wed, 19/12/2012 - 10:48pm

The Federal Republic of Germany is looking to fill the newly-vacant role of idiot. The successful applicant will be a self-starter who is constantly seeking new experiences and keeps an open mind with regard to the laws of physics. Salary: negotiable. Pension plan: N/A.

Friday, 30 November 2012 - 10:43am

Published by Matthew Davidson on Fri, 30/11/2012 - 10:43am

In all seriousness, this is nuts. Decoding this "plan" from euphemisms back into English, we have:

  • Rolling back the government's feeble gestures in the direction of environmental responsibility, because obviously climate change is a lie masterminded by [insert name of favoured global conspiracy here].
  • Cutting taxes on the local wealthy (Gina wants her driveway pebbledashed with diamonds - very tasteful) and foreign corporations.
  • Cutting wages and conditions for workers.
  • Cutting government services and support for the needy.
  • Subsidising transport costs for big business, because why should Gina pay for shipping our non-renewable resources overseas?

This is all textbook, long-discredited, supply-side, trickle-down, voodoo economics serving no purpose except class warfare. If there were problems with investment and production, we'd be seeing inflation, and we're just not. I'm no fan of Labor, but "the weakest jobs growth in more than a decade" is not a bad result compared to other wealthy countries who have followed the gifts-for-the-wealthy-austerity-for-the-rest prescription as proposed above since 2008. The GFC is a demand crisis, and what you do in a demand crisis is raise taxes on the wealthy, increase income support to the poor, and increase spending on infrastructure that serves the needs of the local population, not mining companies.

I'd be surprised if early drafts didn't also include cracking down on illegal latino immigration, since this is a near-verbatim copy of the Romney-Ryan "plan". Here's wishing the coalition the same degree of success, for all our sakes.

Update: This just in: the AFR reports the resources boom is "faltering faster than expected", which is pretty much - erm - as expected. So from here on in, you can subsidise, cut taxes, and flog workers all you want, but it's not going to make the Chinese buy raw materials for products they don't plan to manufacture, and couldn't sell if they did. And also as expected, the knock-on effects elsewhere in the Australian economy are already evident.

Friday, 30 November 2012 - 9:56am

Published by Matthew Davidson on Fri, 30/11/2012 - 9:56am

"Our Deregulation Reform Agenda"? I know the Advocate likes to see itself as a feisty little campaigning tabloid, but to have it's own Deregulation Reform Agenda, with capital letters and everything, is jolly impressive.

I'm joking of course. It's an absolute outrage. If mere independent local councilors can deliver press-ready copy, why can't the National Party get their act together? The staff at the Advocate are professional journalists; they have better things to do than translate press releases into the third person. They probably have four or five photos of the mayor to build stories around, an ambulance or three to chase, and a baker's dozen of local businesses receiving prestigious industry awards to churn through in time for Saturday's edition.

I mean, it's the age of the Internet, isn't it? Traditional media have to compete with bloggers, who really just echo content generated elsewhere, whereas struggling local papers like the Advocate have press releases, wire services, and advertorial copy to contend with. Meanwhile the National Party are living in some Woodward and Bernstein time warp where they probably imagine journalists have nothing better to do than original investigative reporting. Just goes to show how out of touch they are.

Update: I see "our Deregulation Reform Agenda" has been amended to "a Deregulation Reform Agenda". Now, your bonus question for extra points: What is a Deregulation Reform Agenda, other than three random, focus-group-tested words smooshed together?

Are they proposing reforming deregulation? That is, conceding that deregulation has been a rotten idea all along, and the time is ripe for re-regulation? That is an Agenda, with a capital "A", almost as appealing as my Sobriety Reform Agenda. Excuse me while I implement it.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012 - 4:46pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Wed, 28/11/2012 - 4:46pm

I'm having a hard time believing that the revenue from coin-operated light switches figured very prominently in the Group Cex Club's calculations here.

The overwhelming incentive for clubs to support so-called "intra-clubs" is the pokie tax rebate rort, aka. ClubGRANTS. The parent club works out how much pokie tax it doesn't want to pay, invoices it's intra-clubs for that amount - ostensibly for the services it provides to them - and immediately "donates" the money back. The NSW government then obligingly deducts the pretend value of these "donations" from the club's pokie tax bill.

It's a neat little swindle, but sadly it does have it's limits, and in this case it turns out not to be worth $50,000. Sorry, snooker players; you've outlived your usefulness.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012 - 12:14am

Published by Matthew Davidson on Wed, 28/11/2012 - 12:14am

The gap between "I've had a few drinks, I'm feeling pretty good, and have half a mind to go mad and stay up all night," and "Actually, I think I might turn in shortly," is now somewhere in the region of thirty seconds.

Saturday, 24 November 2012 - 1:01pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Sat, 24/11/2012 - 1:01pm in

Let's look at the constitution of this latest brains trust:

  • A Coffs CBD landlord who is doing very well thank you out of the status quo,
  • A shopping mall architect,
  • A builder who cheerfully admits decades of responsibility for metastasising the Group Cex Club, the biggest and ugliest concrete bunker in the region,
  • GM of property speculators Gowings, a company so lethally parasitic they were able to suck the life out of the oldest and most respected retailer in Sydney.

I admit I can't imagine how the Coffs CBD could possibly be a more depressing place, but I daresay these fellows could.