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We All Misunderstood Scott Morrison, And Other Breaking News!

In the United States, the media is in shock after the White House has gone a full thirty-six hours without a firing or “resignation”. More on this later, but first let’s do our in-depth report on inequality.

When Bill Shorten started talking about inequality, there was some confusion about Scott Morrison’s assertion that inequality in Australia “hasn’t got worse, it has actually got better”. Many pundits rushed to show figures, median incomes, GINI coefficients, NINJA inefficients, X and Y charts, X and Y-not charts, two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree – all suggesting that, unless you cherry-picked your figures, the gap between the haves and have-nots was actually growing.

The confusion, of course, rests on Morrison’s defintion of the word “better”. For most people, “better” means bigger or more. And so it is with inequality. When the Liberals talk of inequality “getting better” what they mean is that their supporters are actually getting more and everybody else is getting less. After all, that’s their stated policy. If we give companies a tax cut, then they’ll have more money and at some future date, they’ll raise your wages but not until they’ve got so much money that they think that they have enough and couldn’t possible have any more. And this, of course, is when they have it all. Which probably won’t happen because Labor may get in one day and they’ll start doing things like taxing the people who – out of the goodness of their heart – provide jobs and growth, and those nasty Greens will let them do it. Why Labor’s even talking of looking at Family Trusts. How anti-family is that? If I want to set up my business affairs so that my children get their own income, shouldn’t that be allowed? It’s not like I’m trying to minimise tax, I just think that an eighteen month old child needs to learn how to managed money. And, my Westland Terrier IS a part of the family so why shouldn’t he be part of the Trust too. Typical Labor. Anti-family and anti-dog.

Of course, there’s a pretty simple way to look at inequality. And like all simple ways of looking at things it can be complicated by not talking about the thing itself, but by comparing it to something else. For example, take the way that the Liberals compare their handling of the economy to a household budget. It’s then an easy step to argue that spending is too high because how many households spend so much on education and healthcare? Or take the way they always argue that any Labor debt is “putting it on the credit card” even though the Australian governments can borrow at around three percent. If my credit card interest was that low, I’d apply for a credit limit increase and use it to pay off my mortgage.

So, rather than look at inequality directly because that would involve looking up a lot of facts and figures, I’ll compare it to something else and then I can just write away without the need for any research.

A good way to look at inequality is to compare it to people’s weight. Again, I don’t want to have to waste time by actually doing any investigation so I’m going to ask you to imagine an imaginary country. Let’s call is Turnbullia.

If we decide that the average height of Turnbullians is about 180cm but their average weight is 100 kilos, it sounds like they have a massive obesity problem. However, if we delve a little closer, we find that this is not a problem at all because is Turnbullia being obese is considered a good thing and that the more obese you are, the more likely you are to encourage growth. And when of the people weighing 350 kilos grows, they all benefit because, well, they have to build bigger doorways and this provides work for people who can then afford to buy more fast food and chocolates and that will lead to their waist-line growing too.

Of course, when someone points out that there are people in Turnbullia who weigh less than thirty kilos, the newspaper “Merde Doc” finds someone with an eating disorder and uses this to argue that anybody weighing less than seventy kilos just doesn’t want to eat. If they get a letter to the editor suggesting that people with eating disorders aren’t typical, then the paper will run a story showing how during the GFC (Great Food Crisis), those weighing more than 250 kilos lost an average of forty kilos, while those weighing less than forty kilos didn’t. This will be accompanied by a graph demonstrating that those weighing nothing lost no weight at all during this time, because they still weighed nothing after the GFC. This was disputed by some academics on the grounds that they believed that there were, in fact, no actual people who weighed nothing so that this was a purely theoretical exercise and of no value to the starving masses.

I guess this would be a good time to leave Turnbullia and return to Australia. In simple terms, Shorten seems to be arguing that it’s a problem because apart from the unfairness of it all, it’s likely to create a whole range of social and economic problems and that something needs to be done about. The Liberals, on the other hand, seem to be arguing that if you do nothing about it, everything will be just fine because some of our best friends are – in terms of the analogy – pretty damned fat and we’d like to make them even fatter and that’s fine by them.

Ok, I realize that there might be obese people reading this who are offended. I’d like apologise if you took it the wrong way because I certainly didn’t mean to compare you to the sort of people who’d back the Liberal Party.

Finally, sources in the White House have just leaked that the new Chief of Staff, John Kelly has a really good handle on things and has managed to ensure that all future information will only come through official sources. It was also confirmed that the new strategy when one of Donald’s appointees proves less than satisfactory that rather than go through another public embarrassment, the person will be simply confined to their office until they can be quietly removed to Guatanamo Bay. There is no confirmation of the rumour that this is what is happening with Steve Bannon.


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  1. David Bruce

    It has been brought to my attention that anything to do with Economics is on a par with Astrology and Politics. The scientific method works well with particles, so it should come as no surprise that it is useless for systems where people have free choice. Perhaps that is why politicians and our political systems are moving to less freedom of choice so their whacky policies can be made to work?

  2. Dave

    Morrison: “WRONG! I’m right, you’re wrong!.. I’m right, it’s the rest of the country that’s wrong”!.

  3. bobrafto

    Did you have to leave off with Steve Bannon?

    It reminded of the Mooch when he said something like “I’m not like Steve Bannon, trying to suck my own cock’.

    The media approached Steve Bannon for comment.

    Steve Bannon declined to comment, his mouth was full.

  4. Kaye Lee

    I would like Shorten to start pushing the real economic message that, by giving the lower paid people more disposable income, demand will be boosted which will create jobs and attract investment – the stimulus effect of spending and the GST it would raise.

    It isn’t our tax regime that is making investors hang back – it is policy uncertainty and lack of demand.

    “Treasury secretary John Fraser told the Senate economics committee last week that “non-mining investment will be supported by strengthening domestic demand….as demand picked up and spare capacity declined, investment would rise.”

    “The budget papers comment that the failure of business to take advantage of low rates and strong business confidence to boost investment “remains something of a puzzle”.”

    Well duh!

  5. stephengb2014

    How right you are Kaye Lee

  6. Kaye Lee

    Donald Trump tweeted a few hours ago…

    “Corporations have NEVER made as much money as they are making now.”

    No mention of how much the working people are making

  7. townsvilleblog

    Kaye, yes I wholeheartedly agree this may also lift some of the three million Aussies living below the poverty line out of poverty. Unfortunately this simple truth seems far too easy for these complicated conservatives to understand, if they did they would have moved to take this economic strategy. Sadly the government is being run by the extremist right wing faction and ideology it seems, is far more important than economics. The hurt the working class.attitude that all tories have, they have really turned the screws in the past 4 years and continue to do so. Bill Shorten and in fact the whole shadow Cabinet should be doing anything to make the national news rebutting these anti-people pro-corporation tory policies every day up til the next election. In my humble opinion.

  8. Kaye Lee

    Lifting people out of poverty saves the country a lot of money as well – in health costs, in crime and punishment, in the opportunity for social mobility provided by a good education and general social well-being.

  9. Johno

    Kaye.. hear hear

  10. Harquebus

    Kaye Lee
    “more disposable income, demand will be boosted which will create jobs and attract investment”
    You still don’t get it. Ee En Ee Ar Gee Why? More resource consuming demand and jobs are the last things we need.

  11. helvityni

    Rossleigh ,you are so right, you ought to go into politics. As people are getting heavier and wider, we need to do a lot ‘enlarging’: bigger houses, bigger doors, larger super- markets, cars, wider roads and footpaths, stronger furniture, aeroplanes

    The poor, previously jobless people will have plenty to do, as they are the only skinny ones left, they can still do carpentry, work in factories to build big cars, and fit enough to climb on roofs and trees, or trim hedges…

  12. Peter F

    Kaye, Years ago I did some work ( as a student) building a swimming pool for then family of the man who headed the state branch of the Taxation Department. He retired on what was a substantial, but fixed, pension. Before long he was campaigning for this to be indexed. I remember him saying that if you increase pensions the money goes straight into circulation, boosting business. (These idiots either don’t understand or don’t care. Take your pick.)

    When his wife died many years after he did, the original pension would not have paid to refuel her car.


    harquebus. what if the energy is from a sustainable source?

  14. Roswell

    Spot on, Kaye. It’s so obvious, yet some people fail to see it.

  15. Michael Fairweather

    If you have no spare money you cant spend it, if you dont spend it no one gains anything , so who loses ? EVERY ONE.

  16. Kaye Lee

    Harquebus, as we have discussed a thousand times (big sigh) I do understand about resource depletion but I also understand that we are not limited by today’s knowledge. I also understand that there are many many many worthwhile jobs that would not use more resources. We have already made great headway in improving the efficiency of appliances. We are in the midst of an energy transformation with brilliant minds around the world devoted to finding renewable energy sources and developing sustainable practice.

    You always jump to the apocalypse. In the mean time, others take practical steps forward.

  17. Rossleigh

    Kaye Lee, isn’t it one of the laws of science that energy can neither be created nor destroyed? It just gets displaced… Or something like that. I know that I misplaced a lot of my energy recently.

    If it’s not a law then could we get Malcolm Roberts onto it and he can introduce a law into Parliament to make it so…

    Come to think of it, didn’t Turnbull dismiss the laws of mathematics the other week, telling us that the only laws that matter in Australia are the laws of Australia. We can solve the whole energy thing by just repealing all those pesky laws of science that keep holding us back. Bloody regulation and red tape.

  18. Harquebus

    Kaye Lee, Roswell and Rossleigh
    I know that none of you have seen this video which, I have put up here many times. How do I know?

    “He who refuses to do arithmetic is doomed to talk nonsense.” — John McCarthy

    Dr Albert Bartlett: Arithmetic, Population and Energy

    (Just the first 30min. will do)

    Kaye Lee
    You’re a mathematician. So do some math, then we’ll talk.

  19. Kaye Lee

    I have absolutely no intention of further engaging with you H on a conversation we have had a thousand times before and that will just hijack yet another thread to your very limited world view.

  20. Harquebus

    Kaye Lee
    “He who refuses to do arithmetic is doomed to talk nonsense.” — John McCarthy
    Keep it up. It’s your reputation.

  21. Roswell

    Harquebus, you are becoming annoying again … and boring.

    You’ve gone back to your old ways of hijacking every post with the same stuff that everybody is sick to death of hearing.

    You’re on two and thee quarter strikes.

    I’d rather block you than put up with you.

  22. Harquebus

    When I hear ideas or policies that will only further exacerbate our predicament, I have to speak up.
    I don’t consider working toward the survival of the human race boring.

    Please humor me and watch the video that I posted. You will learn something.

    Leaving you to it.

  23. Roswell

    Good, now shut the hell up and stop treating this site as your platform.

  24. jimhaz

    [After all, that’s their stated policy. If we give companies a tax cut, then they’ll have more money and at some future date, they’ll raise your wages but not until they’ve got so much money that they think that they have enough and couldn’t possible have any more]

    Shaun Micallef made a joke of the trickle down wage rise hogwash on his last show (around 23:50 in).

  25. Harquebus

    “It’s so obvious, yet some people fail to see it.”
    None so blind.

  26. Rossleigh

    Harquebus, we all understand: You’re a genius. An undiscovered genius. And you know the truth and you’re casting your pearls before swine and you’re being mocked by inferior beings who don’t understand that you have qualifications.
    And none of us have qualifications, we’re all just silly fools who believe what we’re told whereas you have access to videos from like-minded people who are nearly as clever as you. And you know that these videos are true because they agree with your position and anybody who can’t see all this is blind because they disagree with you and you know that you’re right and there’s no point in even considering that you might be wrong because, well, you can count and you went and did a course somewhere and it asked you to do some exams and you got everything right about from the bits that didn’t count because the answer was something apart from what you’d written on the exam paper.

  27. Rossleigh

    Mind you, I don’t need to read it because I already know everything!

  28. Harquebus

    Please. Just take a look at the video. Please.
    It’s just arithmetic. I am sure that you all can understand it. One doesn’t have to be a genius. I’m not one by the way but, I am intelligent and I am proud of my academic achievements.

    I understand that I am pushing it again. It is not my intention to hijack every thread. I just happen to disagree with a lot what is published and said here. I apologize if I have upset anyone.

    Thanks for the link. Will read it now.

  29. Jaquix

    Kaye, I thought Harquebus was banned because of his irritating nuisance comments? Who let him back on the bus? Rossleigh, great pickup on Morrison’s use of the word “better” re inequality. My brain registered it as odd but I didn’t follow through as you have done, to great effect.

  30. Kaye Lee

    From Rossleigh’s link…

    “Humans are thinking animals. We find solutions—think Norman Borlaug and the green revolution. The result is the opposite of what Malthus predicted: the wealthiest nations with the greatest food security have the lowest fertility rates, whereas the most food-insecure countries have the highest fertility rates.

    The solution to overpopulation is not to force people to have fewer children. China’s one-child policy showed the futility of that experiment. It is to raise the poorest nations out of poverty through democratic governance, free trade, access to birth control, and the education and economic empowerment of women.”

  31. diannaart

    Kudos Rossleigh and Kaye Lee.

    Some basic logic; the greater the gap between rich and poor which exponentially increases the poor committing crime, using violence, becoming ill, not using contraceptives, not contributing to society – not that the wealthy do much of this either, which is why we have inequality which contributes to poor committing crime…

    So it goes…

  32. Roswell

    Jaquix, I’m the guilty one. I let him back in because he started to play the ball. He’s clearly taken advantage of my goodwill. Next time he’s banned I won’t be so generous.

    I gave him a chance. He’s close to blowing it.

  33. Roswell

    Rossleigh @ 1:40. Outstanding comment. If they gave out prizes for best comments you’d be in the running for one.

  34. jimhaz

    Harquebus is still correct about population growth and resources – just not so much in relation to energy (IMO). I think energy is a 2nd tier problem to growth and resources depletion.

    Let’s pretend Kaye and co are right – technology will continue to provide adequate options and improvements to keep enabling populations to increase to the point where that technology will then enable the population to stabilise.

    Just how far away is that? Its at least 50 more like 100. Do we really have that time should population continue its exponential growth?
    Is this the angle we take in relation to global warming – no it is not. We say start applying the preventative medicine now. We try and prepare. Sure we can prepare for energy via renewables, but we cannot prepare for future material consumption, even if we are able to provide vat grown food.

    The other problem is that it leaves the world nowhere to go in the case of some form of other issue. Lets take avian flu for an example – imagine if something like that spread throughout the world. Growing other animal products would not work as they take up for more resources than chickens, geese etc and there is no arable land left to produce more.

    There is just no leeway when we already need about 1.7 earths for the current population.

  35. Kaye Lee

    Lifting people out of poverty is the quickest way to make the population plateau and even decline. Australian fertility is less than replacement level as is the case in many countries – as of 2010, about 48% (3.3 billion people) of the world population lives in nations with sub-replacement fertility. In Japan and Germany they have had declining population. Educating girls also makes them breed later so the effect compounds.

    I agree we must do more to reduce consumption and to reuse and recycle. Waste management should be a priority.

  36. Rossleigh

    That’s the thing, jimhaz. Population growth is potentially exponential, but in reality, under the right conditions, populations stabilise. The right conditions aren’t poverty and subsistence level existence because that encourages people to have more children so that they can spread the burden of looking after them when they’re old. In the 1960s, Paul Erlich wrote a book about the “population explosion” where he argued that by 2000 we’d be all be so crowded that we wouldn’t fit on the planet. Most of his predictions turned out to be nonsense, but that hasn’t stopped him spinning them as though he was right because some of his concerns were reasonable and needed to be acted upon. He proposed solutions such as the forced sterilization of people in third world countries.

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