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Keep up, Hartcher

It’s not surprising that Peter Hartcher is out of touch. In his Fairfax-protected-species-ivory-tower, where he refuses to engage with readers via social media in case he might actually learn something, once again he’s failed to realise we’ve all moved on from the bullshit ‘class war’ analogies he’s peppered his SMH column with today.

If Hartcher was paying a little more attention these last few years, rather than spending the entire term of the previous Gillard government publishing Rudd-leaks and rather than using his powerful position as political editor to commentate politics like a sporting-match, he might have realised Labor’s political narrative has shifted. This change isn’t due to the ‘media-cycle’, ‘spin’, or ‘political games’ or ‘election winning strategies’. This shift is in response to what is going on in the world, out here in reality, a reality Hartcher doesn’t seem able to understand.

As far back as 2014, the Guardian, characteristically, were way ahead of the rest of the media in reporting unequivocal statements by the IMF: inequality is bad for economic growth. Yet, two years later, Hartcher is still playing the two-horse-race game of Liberals-for-economic-growth and Labor-against-economic-growth because he just doesn’t get it. The irony of him asking Shorten for more nuance would be amusing if it weren’t so frustratingly hypocritical.

In Hartcher’s column today, his argument is that Labor has ramped up ‘anti-business-rhetoric’, which suits Shorten’s trade union background, as opposed to Turnbull’s big-business identity. Hartcher makes the point that Labor’s policies aren’t actually anti-business, but that this is what Shorten is ‘saying’ and therefore Shorten needs to stop ‘saying’ it. Note there are no quotes in the article from Shorten in response to this criticism, nor from anyone else in the united Labor opposition who are 100% on-board with Shorten’s narrative this election. Funny that.

Instead, we get, you guessed it, neoliberal ideological warrior Tony Sheppard, author of the Abbott-budget-written-by-big-business Commission of Audit saying:

‘governments need to encourage business growth because that leads to investment, jobs and the tax revenues that pay for health and education and everything else’.

Then we also get former Labor president Warren Mundine who has also in News Limited this week admitting Labor isn’t the party he used to run, which by the way Mundine, is a really good thing because you don’t understand economic growth any better than your mate Hartcher or Sheppard, saying:

‘Consider the anti-business rhetoric in this election. Past Labor leaders understood government can only create the conditions for jobs and enterprise to thrive. It’s business that generates economic growth through investment and innovation. Federal Labor don’t seem to get this’.

I will address all three of these dinosaurs’ mistakes in one statement and I’ll write it in bold in case that helps with their comprehension:

Economic growth does not pay for health and education and everything else. Health and education and everything else drives economic growth. Businesses do not generate economic growth in order to build the conditions for jobs and enterprise to thrive. Proper social investment builds the conditions for jobs and enterprise to thrive. You have everything topsy-turvy-round-the-wrong-way-you’re-so-confused-I’m-surprised-your-pants-aren’t-on-your-head-get-with-the-program-you’re-actually-hurting-the-economy-with-your-outdated-ill-conceived-attempts-at-telling-us-how-the-world-works-just-go-away. I will spell it out clearly: the conditions for economic growth are strong investment in education, health, infrastructure, a solid social-safety-net no-body-left-behind consumer-led-growth wealth-distributed-more-equally world. Businesses do not hire more people because they get tax cuts. Businesses hire more people and grow the pie when there is strong consumer base, with good health, education, strong wages and therefore available disposable income. Economic growth requires a strong society as its very foundation.

Once you understand these very simple-even-a-5-year-old-can-understand facts, your argument that Labor is anti-business because they point out this fact, actually makes Labor extremely pro-business and makes Turnbull’s tax cut at the expense of proper investment in all the things which actually help the economy a really bad thing for business. Since business is the only thing these dinosaurs care about, perhaps it’s time they did what was right for business and advocate policies which will actually help economic growth. If you haven’t noticed the damage the Liberal government has done to the economy in the last three years, well, perhaps you’re just not paying attention.

It’s because of the likes of Hartcher, Sheppard and Mundine’s misunderstanding of the world that we are in the economic mess we are now. Rising inequality hurts all of us. The IMF understands. Credible economists understand. Labor understands. But we still have too many dinosaurs who refuse to get it. I just wish these dinosaurs would hurry up to extinction so a good government can work on fixing the economy for all our benefit.

 

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39 comments

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  1. Ian Sprocket Muncher Parfrey

    Awesome contribution as usual, Victoria.

    I think a lot of what you say can be summed up in this phrase -:

    ‘Capitalism = Socialse The Costs, Privatise The Profits’

    This hoary old chestnut of labelling any critique against the current trickle-down ideology as ‘class warefare’ just shows that argument as the pathetic excuse for zero rational thought it is. Classic ‘Attack the Person – Not the Ideology’ method of distraction.

    But how can we begin to rid our society of this? I do believe the resurgence of the likes of Tony Windsor here in Australia, and the rise of Bernie Sanders in the US is certainly a good start.

    Also, this link points to a base-up method that will have a far greater positive effect than any trickle-down bollocks ever will.

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/02/state-handouts-for-all-europe-set-to-pilot-universal-basic-incomes

    Thank you for your stellar reportage, Victoria.

  2. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Hear, hear. The fallacies of Trickle Down Economics are becoming more and more familiar in everyday language and your article valiantly confronts the dinosaurs, Hartcher, Sheppard and Mundine with their ignorance of what makes for a vibrant socio-economic system.

    A guaranteed universal basic income is one important step towards a sustainable, equitable and clever socio-economic system. Another essential step is a livable and dignified welfare net for people who fall through the cracks of unemployment, disability and unforeseen hardships. When the socio-economic needs of these groups are addressed, vibrance in the system is optimised and the standard of living for everyone increases.

  3. Klaus Petrat

    100% right. These are simple truth, that cut through the bullshit. Easy to understand and I so wish, that Bill would take just a little more risk and spell out, to the vast majority of of have not voters, including liberal supporters, that tax cuts benefit investors, foreign investors and possibly foreign taxation institutions such as the IRS in the US.

    If the Comm Bank or Westpac CEO says, shareholders of our great institution, we have a 1 billion windfall. We do not need 500 accountants and lawyers to minimize our tax. We save that money and increase dividends appropriately. Would a Comm bank say we hire 1000 more people? To do exactly what? The pie does no longer grow for them in Australia. Does big business need more labor force?

    No, they don’t. Will BHP need more labor force? Their decisions are made in England. There will be almost no new jobs created. As Victoria says, you need a wealthy (relatively speaking, consumer base to have the extra coffees.

    We need educated people, socially participating people. Innovation will follow education. Business doesn’t start to innovate if a small business owner gets a $8 weekly tax cut. What a whole lot of bollocks.

  4. Jack Russell

    Yes, Victoria. Absolutely yes!

  5. David1

    Posted to Twittter Victoria, receiving plenty of RT’s

  6. Backyard Bob

    I just read Harcher’s article. It’s pretty balanced (but rather typically self-indulgent). There’s nothing to complain about, frankly. As for this opening chide:

    It’s not surprising that Peter Hartcher is out of touch. In his Fairfax-protected-species-ivory-tower, where he refuses to engage with readers via social media in case he might actually learn something,

    This from someone who readily blocks people on Twitter for disagreeing with her – even if they’re on her side of politics – and who couldn’t be arsed speaking to the multitudinous criticism of her piece against the Greens that attracted over 300 comments. But then I guess facing the social media music is something only MSM columnists ought be subject to.

    JMS,

    your article valiantly confronts the dinosaurs, Hartcher, Sheppard and Mundine with their ignorance of what makes for a vibrant socio-economic system

    Hmm, ought we include Shorten in that list of dinosaurs? You know, given he said:

    Friends, corporate tax reform helps Australia’s private sector grow and it creates jobs right up and down the income ladder. It’s this simple.

  7. Klaus Petrat

    So Backyard Bob, Bill clearly said that. Why isn’t our charismatic, charming, truthful prime minister pulled up for stuff like carbon pricing, equality in marriage, more fair distribution of wealth and incomes. Why isn’t that dull bloke Mal interrogated for Panama, Cayman Island. Ahh, I forgot, he is above board, he said so himself. He pays all his taxes in Australia. Why Cayman Islands. But I digress.

    Malcolm never changed his mind, no, not Malcolm. Mr. backflip himself.

    But poor Billy did once. Shame on Bill, right?

  8. Backyard Bob

    Klaus,

    I have no idea what your point is. Shorten has not changed his mind at all, as far as I can tell. The quote is from a speech he gave at a conference only a few years ago during the Gillard years. My point is that even Shorten, and Labor remain somewhat mesmerised by a variation of trickle down economic theory. I’m not the one talking about dinosaurs here. I’m merely asking why Shorten ought be left out of that category.

    Can you show me that Shorten no longer holds to the idea evinced in that quote? I would actually greatly appreciate it if you could.

  9. Jexpat

    Hartcher proved long ago to be economically illiterate (though not entirely innumerate, since he’s shown himself quite willing to pump out propaganda for the price of a junket).

  10. Klaus Petrat

    Backyard Bob,

    No, I have no evidence whether Bill changed his mind, or indeed whether he only opposed the Libs out of ideology. What I believe to know is one fundamental difference between the 2 approaches. It seems that Labor genuinely consults with the Caucus, to arrive at policies. Of course, I am not naive enough to think that this is a truly open and pressure free environment in which Labor makes their decisions. But what I do know brings me to point 2.

    Again, it appears that Malcolm and perhaps ‘Gunna’ (I love John Lords naming of the crackpot) Morrison have not even consulted the cabinet on Super decisions. Time and again, the Libs don’t think things through, because they are resistant to advise. Their arrogance (both aforementioned individuals as indeed the rest of them) does not allow for exchange of ideas, formulating of thought through policies etc..

    My point is, that Labor at least tries to arrive at the right policies for the nation. The Libs don’t give a shit. Their ideology blinds them and their arrogance runs the nation to the wall. All in the interest of power.

    For every black mark you can find on Bill (and they do exist), I think I find 10 more on the Libs.

    But I have respect for yourself. The fact that you are in here and active, gives me hope. As indeed do all who write here.

  11. Backyard Bob

    Klaus,

    I pretty much agree with those points though I think they’re a touch tangential to the one I was making. There’s no doubt at all, for me, that the ALP is a far more consultative and democratic party than the Liberals. Labor conferences speak pretty clearly to that, although of course factional power dynamics have to be taken into account, always.

    I entirely agree regarding the Libs and “advice”. They clearly think they are above such a thing and that their curiously religious devotion to ideology trumps everything else. Indeed, one might reasonably suggest, I think, that there are certain parallels between structural hierarchies in certain churches and the Liberal Party. The higher up you are in that hierarchy the less need there seems to be for you to consult with anyone other than those who might be higher still. There appears to be all sorts of policy decisions that are made by a small clique of conservative cardinals and the remaining prelature just have to suck it up and go along. This is why “Captain’s Picks” are not uncommon for Liberal PMs.

    Of course, while rather immune to the realm of the consultative and advisory, they’re certainly not immune to the realm of coercion, usually in the form of corporate pressure or IOU.

    So, yes, with regard to these sorts of perceptions we’re almost entirely on the same page.

  12. Klaus Petrat

    Yes, that will do. Let’s fight the good fight.

    This morning on ABC Breakfast, a journalist (if indeed he qualifies to be one) from The Australian and some Blogger, agreed that the week was firmly won by the Prime Minister. I can’t see how but I will admit that I am somewhat biased.

    I thought that Bill’s message resonates with the ordinary (whatever that is) Australians. Do underpaid Rednecks really believe the Libs are in charge and things will get better? I can’t believe that but certainly, the journalists this morning, thought that the dynamics is swinging towards the Libs.

    Naturally, their answers and explanations were completely unchallenged by the sitting breakfast moderators. FRUSTRATING!!!

    I seem to get a different mood. But then again, it seems a matter of choosing the people I am together with.

    Salute to you Bob. Keep up the good fight!

  13. Wayne Turner

    He’s another biased hack,thinks he knows everything,boring and predictable.He’s smug and arrogant.

    Just another pathetic hack in Australia’s crap MSM.

    The MSM is just the promotional tool of the Liberal party.

    Saying the Libs won the week,and things are turning in Libs favor is a complete LIE.They have no proof.

    If you want to go on independence ie: The polls,NOT just personal view.The polls turned even more in Labor’s favor this week,so on that Labor won.

    Excluding the polls,no one really won this week.No knock out blows,and the MSM is LYING saying otherwise.

  14. Stephen Brailey

    A nice piece Victoria I quite liked the name calling without great invective. Yes indeed the entire LNP do seem to value ideology over economic good sense but then the far right always has (as does the now extinct far left)! Other comments by Backyard Bob seem to implicate Shorten in support for some form of trickle (maybe we could call it dribble down?!) This kind of makes sense as labour has steadily moved away from socialist perspective towards the right. Thus they are more likely to make statements in support of the dominant narrative of lies and pseudo-economics that support the 1%!

  15. Tony

    You ain’t scene nothing yet. The Murdoch media hasn’t even begun yet . Allan Jones is cranking it up. Though I don’t get a lot of things with politics. I remember the debate with Howard vrs Latham; not sure how many they had. Latham annihilated Howard. But nobody said a word about it. Everyone seemed so hamstrung by the Handshake. Journo’s are a joke these days.

  16. Backyard Bob

    The Malcolm Turnbull Rap.

    Albo’s statement at the end is a gem.

  17. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    ByB,

    2 things to say to you:

    1) thanks for the fun youtube link; and

    2) yes, my comment regarding the ignorance of Trickle Down Economics would apply to those in Labor who adhere to the restrictive economic rationalist approach to economics.

    If Shorten said that and meant corporate tax reforms that equate to cuts for Big Biz then sadly Shorten shot himself in the foot.

    Perhaps he meant the opposite, as in making Big Biz accountable and pay up for all their taxes on income earnt on Australian soil?

  18. Wayne Turner

    The MSM have been a BIASED joke ever since I remember.My first federal election I voted at was 1996,they were a BIASED joke then.But from history Murdoch helped to get Whitlam in,and then of course helped get him out.

    We truly are a mediaocracy,with the MSM taking sides,instead of being equally tough on all sides.Murdoch has too much control,and the rest follow.

  19. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    ByB,

    understood in the context that it was delivered, you’re right, it appears Shorten was speaking for tax cuts for Big Biz as a transitional cushion out of the wealth of the mining boom. To be fair, he was saying this in 2011.

    However, I also note the disparaging references to the Greens who were advocating tax reforms for small businesses only. Shorten’s efficiency in supping at the tables of the Big End of Town is no great recommendation.

    However (for a second time), at this late stage of the political cycle, I would prefer to encourage Shorten to move away from a dependent sycophantic relationship with Big Biz rather than highlight his flaws.

    However (for a third time), after the election when he gets his crown, Shorten will be expected to make good his Alliances with the Greens and other Progressives in the defeat of the LNP and the pursuit of a Progressive, Reformist, Egalitarian Australia.

  20. Jason

    I think with Paul Sheeham fired Hartcher had had to take up the mantle of ridiculous right-wing mouthpiece for fairfax. Sad what people will do for a pay check. He’s completely economically illiterate and doesn’t understand what fiscal spending powers a monetary sovereign government has like ours and instead keeps talking about the neo-liberal zombies which have been proven to be wrong.

  21. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Hear, hear Jason.

    We need economic literate and ENlightened economic commentators in MSM and social media.

    I’d be interested to hear YOUR viewpoint.

  22. cornlegend

    Jennifer Meyer-Smith
    I thought I’d let you see the HTVs for VIc and QLD to be handed out from next week by the band of volunteers
    Now I can’t be involved :-} as the tickets do not have the ALP on top, but here ya go FYI

    Queensland Senate 2016 How to Vote 12 below the line

    1 HEAD, Mike Socialist Equality Party
    2 COOKE, Erin Socialist Equality Party

    3 BEVAN, Paul Animal Justice Party
    4 WATSON, Zade Animal Justice Party

    5 WATT, Murray Australian Labor Party
    6 CHISHOLM, Anthony Australian Labor Party
    7 MOORE, Claire Australian Labor Party
    8 KETTER, Chris Australian Labor Party
    9 CASEY, Jane Australian Labor Party
    10 THOMPSON, Cheryl Australian Labor Party

    11 SELIC, Brandon Pirate Party Australia
    12 PURSEHOUSE, Isaac Pirate Party Australia

    Senate 2016 Victoria How to Vote 12 below the line

    1 SINNEMA, Chris Socialist Equality Party
    2 BYRNE, Peter Socialist Equality Party

    3 DOIG, Meredith Sex Party
    4 MULCAHY, Amy Australian Sex Party

    5 CARR, Kim Australian Labor Party
    6 CONROY, Stephen Australian Labor Party
    7 COLLINS, Jacinta Australian Labor Party
    8 MARSHALL, Gavin Australian Labor Party
    9 YANG, Jennifer Australian Labor Party
    10 PERSSE, Louise Australian Labor Party
    11 KENT, Steve Australian Labor Party
    12 TARCZON, Les Australian Labor Party

  23. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    This is an important contribution you’ve made cornlegend.

    Now, stubborn potential stalwart supporters of your How to Vote might know what to support and what NOT to support.

    Take it easy. We are more likely to be on the same side of voting.

    I want you to acknowledge the contributions of the potential Alliance once numbers are counted when Malcolm bites the dust.

    That means the Greens, Left Labor, Progressive Parties and sane Independents.

    Only a balanced ALLIANCE will bring AUStralia forward.

  24. Miriam English

    Good piece Victoria. You hit the nail on the head.

    Coincidentally I was fossicking through a whole bunch of stuff about the economic record in USA recently and found these:

    A lesson in economic history

    In 1922, Republican Warren Harding dropped the top tax rate from 73 percent down to 25 percent. It kicked off a gambling real estate and stock market bubble that burst in 1929.

    Roosevelt fixed that by raising the top tax rate on the uber-rich back up to over 90 percent. The economy boomed, and the middle class prospered.

    Reagan dropped the top tax rate down to 28%, leading within a year to the worst recession since the Great Depression, followed by the Savings and Loans crisis.

    Clinton took the top income tax rate back up to 39 percent and the economy boomed.

    Bush junior came into office, cut it back down, and we got another crash and high unemployment.

    By Thom Hartmann

    Economics experiment

    Rarely is a natural experiment in economics so definitive.

    Minnesota raised taxes on the rich to boost school funding by $900 million. Minnesota now has the 5th highest job growth in the nation (tied with California, which also increased taxes on the rich). Minnesota has a $2 billion budget surplus, median income $8,000 higher than the national average, and the highest economic confidence in the country.

    Neighboring state, Wisconsin did the opposite. They gave the rich and corporations $2.1 billion in tax breaks, raised taxes on the middle-class, and cut school funding more than any state. Wisconsin now ranks 37th for job growth in the US and dead last in the Midwest. They have a $283 million budget deficit and median income $800 lower than the national average.

    And perhaps most ironic of all: Forbes ranks Minnesota the 8th best state to do business, while Wisconsin is ranked 41st.

    Lastly, I found a comparison between Finland and USA:

    Education in Finland
    • Free universal childcare until age 7
    • No private schools, equitable funding for all schools
    • Teachers paid the same as doctors and lawyers
    • Most students never take a standardised test
    Highest-ranked students in the world

    Education in USA
    • 60% of poorest kids get no preschool
    • Private schools for the rich, public schools for the poor
    • Teachers paid as little as possible
    • High-stakes standardised tests every year
    Failing in International student rankings

    I think also all education is free in Finland.

    It amazes me that anything remains of the old “trickle-down” argument at all. It has been disproved over and over again. Perhaps things will begin to change now that those at the center of neo-liberalism are actually beginning to question why it never actually delivers the things it is said to. Perhaps, it is, as Aditya Chakrabortty says in his Guardian article: You’re witnessing the death of neoliberalism — from within. I certainly hope so. It has taken long enough. However it is probably wise not to underestimate the power of delusion.

    Take caution from religion: There are more than a thousand religions in the world, each negating the other. For thousands of years they’ve persisted in believing ludicrously primitive delusions. Likewise, the Right-Wing myths might carry on for a while yet.

  25. Arthur Plottier

    Victoria, I agree in many points in your article but in one you said: “This shift is in response to what is going on in the world, out here in reality, a reality Hartcher doesn’t seem able to understand.”
    IMHO, you are wrong there, he understand well and is not alone, his ideology make him being part of the extreme right “counter-shift” that it is happens in many countries in Europe and Latin America. Argentina and Brazil are a good example.
    They understand well what it is the economy system that serves them well is the one that growth is for a few at the cost of many.

  26. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Yes Arthur,

    anybody who presumes respect on the basis of an imbalanced socio-economic system does not deserve any acknowledgement or respect.

  27. cornlegend

    Jennifer Meyer-Smith
    This has got nothing to do with alliances, but a slim chance with half quotas to get some Micros up with Labor voters support and ultimately a Labor vote before exhaustion
    This is Senate nothing to do with Governing, hung Parliaments or coalitions. {which aren’t a goer in the HOR anyhow}

  28. Arthur Plottier

    Jennifer, José “Pepe”Mujica, the Uruguayan ex president said, quote:
    “A president is a high-level official who is elected to carry out a function. He is not a king, not a god. He is not the witch doctor of a tribe who knows everything. He is a civil servant. I think the ideal way of living is to live like the vast majority of people whom we attempt to serve and represent.”
    I wish that we have few leaders like him here is this beautiful country
    On economy, he said:
    “Businesses just want to increase their profits; it’s up to the government to make sure they distribute enough of those profits so workers have the money to buy the goods they produce,”
    “It’s no mystery — the less poverty, the more commerce. The most important investment we can make is in human resources.”

    So simple and basic but greed does not allow to see it.

  29. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    I want Pepe in Australia. He’s a true leader of the People.

    Uruguay, don’t forsake your great leader.

    Australia is devoid ot them for the time being.

  30. Arthur Plottier

    Jennifer Pepe is a clear example that to be a leader of the people there is not need to have a formal education just only the school of life without greed and be humble.
    Perhaps Jennifer, Pepe has the influence (teaching) of the Uruguayan liberator and leader Aritgas when he said:
    ” My authority comes from you and it ceases before your sovereign presence ” is something that Pepe followed during his presidency.

    I was shocked when Christopher Pyne said: “Bill is a major drag on Labor’s campaign because people look at him and recognise he’s a very ordinary man and they look at Malcolm Turnbull and recognise he’s the kind of person they want to have as prime minister.”

    What we can expect from people like this in charge of our country?

  31. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    So true, Arthur.

    How dare prissy Chrissy think that Malcolm-born-to-rule should naturally be our chosen leader. Such are cuckolds and unelectable.

  32. Matters Not

    Miriam English, while what you assert has ‘truth’, broadly defined, at a high level of generality, there are many ‘specific’ factual errors. For example, you claim there are no private schools in FInland. There are. Steiner schools in Finland are not uncommon.

    And teachers are not paid the same as Doctors and Lawyers. While academic entry levels for teachers are of a very high standard (and very competitive), the pay rates upon graduation aren’t really comparable. (That they are, is but a myth.)

    As for, students not undertaking standardised tests, then how come we know that achievement levels of students from Finland compare favourably in international comparisons. Logically, if they are not tested, then how do we know? Yes the notion of a NAPLAN would be laughed at. And for very good reasons, but testing does occur.

    And they are not the ‘highest ranking students in the world’. They don’t claim to be and if they did then they are wrong.

    The ‘highest ranking students’ (as measured by the current nonsense) in the world are from places in Asia like Shanghai, Singapore, Hong Kong and the like. (Selected students from selected schools).

    It was a goal that Gillard wanted to pursue. Hilarious.

    Fact is that Australian students will never achieve in ways that are internationally measured and compared and, more importantly, we shouldn’t even try.

    Let’s proceed on the assumption that test scores and ‘education’ should not be equated. And then a serious discussion just might be possible.

  33. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Hear, hear MN.

  34. Jack Russell

    Can’t quote Bill’s words exactly from a couple of days ago, but his meaning was clear…a vibrant economy is based on educated, healthy people who are fully employed. I cheered at the telly – a distinct change from the invective I usually snarl at it.

    Sounds to me like he fully understands trickle up economics, and intends to commence implementation as a priority when in government.

  35. Miriam English

    Matters Not, I’m grateful for the corrections.

    To clarify, what I was posting were some things I found in one of my folders where I collect stuff from my wanderings around the net. I wasn’t claiming that I knew how correct they were, though of course I must take some responsibility in passing them on. (I’ve now amended the Finland-USA comparison file with the points you made so that I don’t post those mistakes in future. Thank you for making that possible.)

    I must admit I did wonder about how Finland’s students could be the “highest ranked internationally” if “most never take standardised tests”. Perhaps it refers to that minority of Finnish students who do take tests. Maybe also a qualifier should be added (among the highest ranked). I had heard elsewhere that Singapore regularly achieves top rank… not that test scores ever mean much, as you say.

    On the topic of how useless tests are: an old school friend was one of the smarter people I knew and he used to have a nervous breakdown every time exams came around. He had to rely upon assessments by teachers. On the other hand I knew another person who was not outstandingly bright but was an assiduous studier and who did very well in exams. Another close friend of mine was absolutely the smartest person I ever met and used to sail through exams without need of studying. I’m not especially smart, but I used to cruise through exams even though I also used to be very slack about studying. My great saving grace was that I’m a compulsive reader and had simply read all the stuff long before it ever came up in school. Tests always struck me as a terrible waste of time and energy, and extremely misleading. They really prove nothing at the time, and mean even less six months or a year later.

  36. Random

    Seriously wondering if you read Hartcher’s linked SMH article, or if you just spiked your morning cuppa. In the context of what other MSM media outlets are loudly crowing about, this is a very balanced article on PERCEPTION. Not policy actuality or anything else.

    The AIMN commentary is full of Labor supporters saying similar things; Bill Shorten should say ‘this’ or counter attack ‘that’ because of how he is or will be perceived.

    You’ve done yourself and Labor no favours at all, by shooting this messenger. That goes for the ‘ra ra’ club in the wings as well.

  37. Backyard Bob

    I think it’s fair to say that this author doesn’t like Hartcher much, which may have led her to not notice that he actually defends Shorten against certain perceptions on more than one occasion in that article. But then, one must keep in mind that Victoria has historically [not so] secretly wished that the MSM operate as a propaganda machine for her party, much like News Corp does for the Liberals.

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