Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Sleazy Peter is another Israel-hating Jew

He looks good and has a nice voice and sounds vaguely reasonable at first -- but his words of praise for that great hater -- Karl Marx -- tell you all you need to know. And his other heroes are of a similar ilk. Systematic distortion of reality is the typical game of Leftist haters like Peter. Excerpt only below

The Mavi Marmara victims are the most visible of many unarmed international solidarity workers and Palestinian civilians killed by Israeli military forces at peaceful demonstrations. Charges that Israel's lethal commando assault violated international law are far from the most serious it faces, after wars on Lebanon in 1982 and 2006, and Gaza in 2008-09. The lame official excuses for the assault invite the question: what does it take for "supporters" of Israel to protest that enough is enough?

Jewish leaders and their community follow Israeli official script: the raid on the unarmed civilians of the flotilla was in self-defence, just as pasta, coriander and children's toys entering Gaza pose an existential threat to the Jewish state. The collective punishment of Gaza is merely putting them "on a diet". George Orwell would have been impressed by such Newspeak in "defence of the indefensible".

Apologists claim international outrage towards Israel is evidence of global anti-Semitism, seeking to "delegitimise" the Jewish state. The slur has caused non-Jewish commentators and individuals to avoid public criticism. The Jewish establishment has even sought to discredit human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, though the same criticisms may be found in reports of Israel's own B'Tselem.

For such reasons, in a recent article in the New York Review of Books, Peter Beinart has charged the diaspora Jewish establishment with being detached from reality, failing to recognise "Israel is becoming (has become) a right-wing, ultra-nationalist country" being abandoned by younger liberal and progressive Jews. As early as 1948, an open letter published in The New York Times signed by Hannah Arendt, Einstein and others warned against the fatal combination of "ultra-nationalism, religious mysticism and a propaganda of racial superiority".

The question of Jewish identity and responsibility has been posed acutely by some Jews themselves, those who break ranks - those referred to in Isaac Deutscher's essay as ''The Non-Jewish Jew''. Among these, Baruch Spinoza (1634-77) is described by Bertrand Russell as "the noblest and most lovable of the great philosophers". For his heresies, he was given the severest punishment, Cherem - permanent excommunication from the 17th century Amsterdam Jewish community.

He notes the paradox that Jewish heretics who transcend Jewry belong to a characteristically Jewish tradition, among the great revolutionaries of modern thought, including Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud. To Deutscher's list we may add Hannah Arendt, the late renegade American historian Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky, all reviled by their communities....

In view of the brutal occupation of the West Bank, inhumane blockade of Gaza, continuing dispossession, injustice and suffering of the Palestinians, Jews might heed Einstein's prophetic warning in 1955: ''The attitude we adopt towards the Arab minority will provide the real test of our moral standards as a people.''

More HERE. The author above is Peter Slezak, senior lecturer at the University of NSW's school of history and philosophy of science.

The usual Leftist stupidity about minimum wages

Yet another proof that Leftist policies are much more motivated by hatred for business than by concern for the worker

THE first minimum wage increase from Julia Gillard's rebadged industrial relations commission claims to restore "fairness" to low-paid workers. In fact this labour market re-regulation will hurt low-skilled jobseekers. It's all about restoring the "bite" of the old industrial award system, even for well-paid workers. It serves to extend Labor's political war against John Howard's Work Choices and to reward its industrial wing.

Under economist Ian Harper, Howard's Fair Pay Commission highlighted two key insights into the minimum wage.

First, it is not a good instrument for helping disadvantaged workers and jobseekers. Most minimum-wage workers are not poor; they are often students or secondary earners in middle or even high-income families.

For most low-wage earners, minimum-wage jobs are a stepping stone entry point into the job market. Lifting the minimum-wage floor risks pricing disadvantaged workers out of a job, entrenching more rather than less poverty. Second, low-wage worker incomes also depend, particularly for families with children, on the tax and transfer system. Minimum-wage workers won't pocket anything like Fair Work Australia's $26 a week rise because much of it will be clawed back through tax and reduced government benefits.

Before being abolished, Harper's FPC maintained or slightly increased the real or after-inflation value of Australia's mandated minimum wage. This reduced the "bite" of the minimum wage as it fell from just under 58 per cent to 54 per cent of the faster-growing median wages set in the marketplace.

Even then, Australia's wage floor was higher than in any developed economy after France, New Zealand and perhaps Ireland.

Low-income workers did not lose out because tax and transfer improvements helped boost their real disposable household incomes by between 8 per cent and 14 per cent during the past five years. Household incomes for low-wage earners were protected even when Harper's FPC froze the minimum wage in response to last year's global financial crisis. And the new approach underpinned both the pre-crisis fall in the jobless rate to generational lows of 4 per cent and the limited jobless rise from the crisis itself.

But this is all heresy to Australia's industrial relations tradition. Stretching back to the "living wage" of the old Arbitration Court's 1904 Harvester case, this tradition suggests that a judicial tribunal can divine a "fair" or "just" price for labour.

After the requisite bowing, FWA president and former Australian Industrial Relations Commission president Geoff Giudice last week read out the minimum wage decision and left. Unlike Harper, he was not available to explain it to the unwashed.

The rebadged tribunal's institutional DNA naturally suits the task of restoring the primacy of the regulated wage system. Its primary objective is to maintain a "fair" safety net of minimum wages, reinforced by new legislative criteria such as "social inclusion" and gender equality.

The more important weapon against poverty - job growth - is relegated to a subsidiary "economic factor". This made it pretty easy for Giudice to hand down last week's 4.8 per cent catch-up increase to $15 an hour, or just under $30,000 a year. This restored the real value of the minimum wage following Harper's last-gasp emergency freeze. The new outbreak of global financial instability hardly rated a mention.

More telling was the back-to-the-future indication that FWA would soon seek to significantly increase the minimum wage in real terms. Minimum-wage earners "have only shared to a very limited extent in the benefits of productivity growth", it found. And holding the real value of award wages steady would not "adequately maintain relative living standards" for the lower paid.

Yet disadvantaged workers did share in national prosperity under Harper's FPC, as more of them got jobs and tax cuts, and as transfer benefits boosted their incomes.

And the FWA's pay activism extends well above the wage floor. Last week's decision was widely reported as applying only to low-paid workers. In fact, the $26 a week "safety net" rise extends to the 1.5 million workers on award rates all the way up the pay scale, including tradesmen, technical staff and professionals.

Harper's FPC aimed to encourage these higher-paid workers to secure wage gains through enterprise bargaining, rather than quasi-judicial fiat, by limiting the minimum wage flow-on up the award pay scale.

But FWA objects to the resulting compression of the award pay structure as minimum award rates for skilled workers have not kept up with inflation. It says there is a "strong case" for award pay rises to be in percentage - rather than flat dollar - terms, to restore wage relativities. The award safety net must remain "relevant" for all award-reliant workers, it argues, even biting for those earning well above average wages.

Harper doesn't buy the FWA argument that business will have less incentive to bargain "if the gap between award wages and earnings is too big". Surely skilled workers don't need an award safety net. Surely the more the minimum wage pay rise is automatically extended to skilled workers, the less scope they will have to bargain with their employers.

Importantly, the new minimum wage regime comes as FWA's separate award "modernisation" exercise ropes the entire workforce into a reinforced national award system. The prescriptive minimum pay, penalty rate and loading rules will hit many of the same service sector businesses whose wages bill will be increased most by last week's minimum pay rise.

The result is the first significant reversal of the generation of pro-market policy reforms that have produced Australia's low inflation and low unemployment prosperity. The labour market flexibility that has underpinned this will become even more important in dealing with the adjustment pressures from the China-fuelled mining boom.

Wage flexibility is needed to allow industries and regions facing labour shortages to bid for workers without feeding overall wage inflation. The costs of reducing this flexibility in the name of fairness will fall on the Reserve Bank's monetary policy, and on the same disadvantaged Australians Gillard and her FWA claim to be helping.


Infantile Australian climate professor pronounces debate as "infantile"

The Age — formerly a decent newspaper — never fails to take an opportunity to parrot PR for Team AGW. Last week they gave a free shot to Will Steffen, Executive Director, ANU Climate Change Institute.
A SCIENCE adviser to the federal government has described the debate in the media over the basics of climate change science as ”almost infantile”, equating it to an argument about the existence of gravity.

It takes a tax-payer funded Professor to equate AGW to gravity. It must have taken years of education to be able to issue pronouncements like this eh? If Australian taxpayers were hoping to get a bit more than just bluster and name-calling from certain public servants, they’re bound to be asking for their money back soon.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but the existence of gravity is proven each day you don’t get flung off the planet when you get out of bed. We can measure gravity to twelve significant digits, but our value for climate sensitivity to carbon dioxide varies from 0 to 10. Pick a number. We can’t even get one significant digit fixed. Quantifying gravity involves dropping a rock with a clock and a ruler. Quantifying carbon’s effect on climate change involves understanding cloud-formation, ice sheet changes, evaporation, humidity levels in air 8000 m above Singapore, and ocean currents at the bottom of the endless abyss that we can’t even measure.
Speaking at a Melbourne summit on the green economy, Professor Will Steffen criticised the media for treating climate change science as a political issue in which two sides should be given a voice.

Is it political? Heck No. It’s not about managing our economy, assessing risks, choosing between different courses of action… err… it’s pure science. Prof Steffen has modeled our future, there’s no need to involve the economists-consumers-engineers-investors-medical-experts-or those pesky kids we’re supposedly saving-the-planet-for. Managing the country is pure science now; free speech and democracy-babble, who needs it!

This censorship of speech, and appeal to authority is the antithesis of science, and Steffen simplifies things ad absurdium. In Australia, he appears to have been appointed Carbon-King-of-Bluster. Find me a sentence where he substantiates a claim with something that amounts to more than “…it’s true because I say so”.
It’s a no-brainer. If you go over the last couple of decades you see tens of thousands of papers in the peer-reviewed literature, and you have less than 10 that challenge the fundamentals – and they have been disproved,” Professor Steffen said after an address at the Australian Davos Connection’s Future Summit.

“Tens of Thousands” of papers eh? So why doesn’t he dig out a few and help his colleague Dr Andrew Glikson who is at least honest enough to engage in a debate and try to answer the question: Can you name any paper that supports the claim that positive feedback occurs and will double or triple the direct effect of carbon dioxide? Without that amplification the big scare campaign is all over (and so is much of the funding that feeds the associated junkets, conferences, grants, Institutes, and certain “science advisers” to the government ).

And which 10 papers exactly have been disproved? Steffen can’t name them, won’t try, and helpfully leaves things vague as a one-size-fits-all whitewash. Pure bluster. Adam Morton dutifully prints all that without checking, as if it’s a pronouncement from the Mount and one of the ten commandments.

Don’t give me the excuse that he’s written giant documents with thousands of references, so the evidence is there “somewhere”. It only takes a few minutes to name and explain one paper. Waving vaguely at tomes is part of the shell game. If he wants rational discourse, this is where it starts, with details.
Right now, this almost infantile debate about whether ‘is it real or isn’t it real?’, it’s like saying, ‘Is the Earth round or is it flat?’

Actually, the only one trying to debate whether “it’s” real or the world is flat is him. No one else wants to reduce public conversation to meaningless descriptors as much as he does. What “it” is he talking about? Does he mean “climate change”? He’d sure like us to debate that, because he’d be on safe preschool-climate-science terms where he could win: Yes Esmeralda, the climate does change! But the rest of us keep asking him to debate the real issue instead of his fake-o-strawman-substitute.
[Climate change] is a hugely important question and yet we are not having a rational discourse in the media in Australia on this question. That is my biggest frustration.

This is quite funny really. (I laughed). So Steffen is frustrated that the discourse is irrational? This is the man who uses his academic authority to mock opponents (that he won’t debate) with strawman arguments that are irrelevant. He claims he wants rational discourse, but works hard to stifle any discussion that doesn’t agree with him. He actively contributes to the nightmare of government spin and irrationality.

Asked about the scepticism of Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, he said scientists respected leaders from both sides of politics who showed respect for scientific expertise.

“Respect for expertise” is code for argument from authority: Trust me I’m an expert. It’s the cop-out.

Real scientists don’t have any respect for the fawning servants of bureaucracy or fame. We admire those who can reason, and not those who pour confusion on conversations with confounding pomposities. The ingratiates who take our money but call us names, while they dodge debates and hail vainglorious victories over points we never raised: these we mock


Many cancer patients denied surgery in NSW public hospitals

But it makes the statistics look good!

HUNDREDS of patients in Sydney, many needing spine and cancer surgery, have been left off hospital waiting lists for up to a year because overworked staff did not file the paperwork.

The mistake, which doctors say has affected more than 800 people, some in acute pain, has forced the health department to order a blitz on the centralised surgery bookings system in western Sydney. But angry surgeons claim some patients have already deteriorated as a result of the fiasco.

The error has also made politically sensitive hospital performance figures - much vaunted by the health department - look better than they are.

A spokeswoman for the Sydney West Area Health Service said about 200 forms were still waiting to be processed but denied 800 people had been affected. She said 93 per cent of patients needing urgent elective surgery had been treated within the required 30-day time frame.

While most urgent cases were being seen, surgeons said at least 300 patients at Westmead and another 300 at Mt Druitt and Blacktown - some needing surgery for bladder or skin cancer - were never allocated to the list so the performance figures were false. The remaining 200 forms belonged to patients from other hospitals in western Sydney.

The number of cases missing from the lists was the tip of an iceberg, said the chairman of Westmead's medical staff council, Peter Klineberg. "Most surgeons stopped even trying to put patients forward because they refused to tolerate them getting lost in the system. "There is a lot of frustration over this, a lot of ill will. This might have seemed like a good idea at the time but it discounted the human factors," he said.

Donald MacLellan, the health department's program director of surgery, has been called in to audit the bookings and close the centralised office. But it could take at least six months to resolve the crisis. Hospitals will be ordered to revert to booking their own patients. "It's a crazy situation but we're just grateful at long last something is being done," the chairman of the division of surgery at Westmead Hospital, John Fletcher, said yesterday.

Since March last year, surgeons in western Sydney were told to submit booking forms to a central office in Blacktown, regardless of which hospital would perform the surgery. The system was put in place by the former chief executive of Sydney West Area Health Service, Steven Boyages. But a statewide freeze on employing non-clinical staff meant bookings, which should have been entered into the computer system within three days, mounted and were ignored.

Professor Fletcher said surgeons had pleaded with the department to acknowledge the system's failure, but their calls had fallen on deaf ears. "In some cases, we even had patients allocated to lists but they were not notified, so we had theatre staff standing around expecting them," he said.

The introduction on March 1 of the state trauma plan, whereby Westmead received a greater proportion of severely injured patients, would also make it difficult for surgeons to clear the backlog, but staff had been given a guarantee the new bookings office would be adequately staffed and resourced.


We think we are great - and so does everyone else

Australia ranks behind only Canada and Switzerland in positive self-image, an opinion the world shares.

PUT your tall poppy back and delete any cultural cringe. (That is not a yoga position.) Australian self-deprecation could now be history. A survey, interviewing 40,000 people globally, by the Reputation Institute in New York, reveals Australians have the highest opinion of themselves compared with most countries in the world, ranking behind only Canada and Switzerland in positive self-image.

The good news is that our tremendous opinion of ourselves is matched by what the world thinks of us: "Switzerland places first [in world respect] with Canada and Australia a close second and third. Russia, China, and Ukraine make up the bottom three."

This survey result may signal the emergence of a positive Oz generation and the end of the old-school Aussie glorification of the ocker, drongo, ratbag and loser. (We had many words for it.) Apparently we really like ourselves now and, even better, our international reputation is excellent. Success may now be regarded as good and not unsavoury. Of course, a percentage of the population will still revel in acting like pre-respected Australians. These people still buy things so they contribute to the economy. But the era of idealising an Aussie low IQ to sell cigarettes and other stuff is statistically over.

So what is an "Australian" now? Notwithstanding a few controversial moments such as the Anzacs raising the flag of Zion with the Union Jack over Jerusalem in World War I, the sometimes painful side of loyalty that led to involvement in the Vietnam debacle and decreasing property values in Baghdad, we are generally liked in various cultures. Yes, we have a good reputation.

Historically it really starts with the accent. Personally I think people mainly like us because we are not South African, British or American. I instantly recognise Australians anywhere in the world when I hear that accent. Sometimes it's very subtle – like Errol Flynn talking, when he played Robin Hood. (As a kid I thought Robin Hood was Australian, a thought strengthened by the sight of gum trees in Hollywood's version of Sherwood Forest. Eucalyptus trees had been introduced into California from Victoria in the 1860s.)

My mate George Gittoes, gonzo artist and adventurer, has experienced many war zones recording that terrifying landscape. His best advice for survival is that when shooting starts, or chaos erupts, head for the nearest UN soldiers with Australian accents.

If you haven't been back to Australia for a while and board a Qantas plane halfway across the world, and a steward says, "Would you like a beer before take-off, mate?," well, that can bring tears to a grown man's eyes.

Of course, surveys can be wrong – and why are the Swiss respected so much? To quote Orson Welles as Harry Lime in The Third Man: "In Italy, for 30 years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had 500 years of democracy and peace – and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock."

Yes, we are respected but also remember what Groucho Marx remarked, "I just don't want to belong to any club that would have me as a member." I'm getting nostalgic for larrikinism already.


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