Friday, October 29, 2010


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is suspicious about the attention-seeking Leftist who threw his shoes in the direction of John Howard during an ABC TV show. Zeg thinks the ABC knew in advance that it was going to happen

Leftists are not nice people

Mirko Bagaric

LOOK left, look right, then watch for the shoe from the left. John Howard was entitled to throw his shoes with gusto at the leftist fanatic Q & A shoe-thrower. The fact Howard laughed off the bitter, violent stunt underlies the moral gulf between most conservatives and the hypocritical Left, who self-select when it comes to occupying seats at the hopelessly biased ABC studios.

Without knowing it, I've been doing a wide-ranging social experiment on this exact issue during the past few years. It turns out that the supposedly warm and fuzzy Left is anything but that. Intoxicated by self-righteous irrelevance it has developed an addiction to anger pills and suffers from a hyperventilation disorder.

Before I disclose my data nailing the Left, first a little bit about how I acquired it. I regularly make wide-ranging comments that conflict with policies of the Left and Right. I'm apolitical; the policies of Labor and Liberal are so similar to make the debate almost irrelevant. Most of my writing is informed by one underlying principle. It's called utilitarianism. It is the theory that when you are faced with a moral or political choice you should make the decision that will maximise human flourishing, where each person's interest counts equally.

The Left doesn't like me because I'm a fan of tough counter-terrorism laws and harsher sentences for sex and violent offenders. I also oppose euthanasia, abortion and dispute the desperate need for a reduction in greenhouse gases. I often upset the Right because I push for gay marriages, animal rights, no tax for the poor and mega taxes for the rich, multiculturalism and tolerance towards Muslim values.

So what is the conclusive evidence I have that shows the Left has mutated into a hysterical, hypocritical - albeit well-intentioned - bunch? It comes in the form of thousands of abusive emails, an endless array of insulting (albeit sometimes witty and amusing) grossly misinformed blog comments, demands to my employers to sack me for saying what I think and even the occasional demonstration by some time-rich, agenda-poor anti-moralisers who are defeated by the practical ramifications of the concept of free speech.

This is nearly the sum total of responses to my comments in the past couple of years. The striking aspect of this is that nearly all of the besmirching and attempts to stereotype and censure me have come from the supposedly tolerant, libertarian Left, even though the Right has just as much reason to be jacked off at me.

What about the Right? I was raised to think that it was raised to be mean. But even this building block of social discourse has disintegrated. The Right doesn't have any more smarts than its opponents but certainly is nicer. It rarely throws hissy fits and seems to have a deficient vocabulary when it comes to name calling. Some members even show embryonic signs of a sense of humour. That's not to say that they always fail to live up to expectations. The anger meter on my email occasionally goes into overdrive when I write a piece suggesting that Muslims are being vilified in Australia. Still, on numbers alone this is negligible compared with the extremist torrent from the Left.

So why is it that the Left has become much of what it despises? Well, that's easy. History teaches us that rebellions without causes can be nothing other than character-destroying. The Left has fought a good fight. The right to life, liberty, property, equal access to high-quality health care, education and the professions; they're all now an entrenched part of the Australian landscape. Its job is pretty much done - at home. There's no scope for acquiring a sense of genuine purpose pursuing the current leftist agenda in the form of promoting anti-Americanism and salvaging the reputation of convicted terrorists.

Life can be nothing other than miserable for people with a warped sense of moral priorities and who spend their spare time pursuing meaningless causes. That's why the Left has mutated into such an embittered and angry tribe. Its only redemption is to reconnect with its historical roots and start fighting worthwhile causes that have some prospect of enhancing human flourishing.


Disastrous Green energy policies in NSW

YET again, the Australian Labor Party is demonstrating that, when it comes to effective policy on green energy, it resembles the benighted fellow who, in a version of the vernacular, couldn't organise himself service in a house of ill repute with a fistful of $50 notes.

NSW Premier Kristina Keneally's pratfall on solar photovoltaic subsidies may be added to the Rudd government's failures on household insulation, green loans, encouraging wind farm development through the renewable energy scheme (because it allowed it to be glutted with solar subsidies) and then the abandonment of the emissions trading scheme.

The Greens, the environmental movement and their fellow travellers do not come out of the NSW fiasco with much credit, either.

Confronted with the NSW government's decision to slash the subsidy for residential rooftop solar systems by two-thirds, state Greens MP John Kaye has cheerfully, and shamelessly, said that his party would settle for a tariff scheme that was half the value of the initial program. So he, and it, knew the original arrangements were well over the top.

The Clean Energy Council also is now happy to settle for a 45c a kilowatt hour feed-in tariff where it welcomed the initial 60c scheme as an example for the rest of the country.

Most of the mud, however, rightly must stick to Keneally and her government, notwithstanding a spin 101 media statement in which she lauded the "solar bonus scheme" as "an incredible success" on one hand and knifed it with the other, acknowledging that the "most generous scheme in Australia" at its original level would whack residential customers, already faced with their bills doubling for other reasons, with an extra $2.5 billion in costs over five years if allowed to continue.

The "generous" initial tariff enabled NSW householders swooping on the opportunity to earn 60c a kilowatt hour compared with 45.7c in the next-best program in the ACT.

As Keneally's media statement indicates, the amended NSW scheme will still sting the state's residential customers for $1.5bn over and above other higher charges by 2016.

There is no acknowledgment in Keneally's retreat that her government had created greenhouse gas abatement costing $640 a tonne under the initial scheme, according to the National Generators Forum, compared with $15 a tonne for the state's longstanding greenhouse gas reduction scheme aimed at other areas of supply and consumption.

Her government is not the first to cut and run from populist rooftop solar programs.

As the government's own review committee reports, Spain managed to bring on an almost seven-fold increase in orders for the PV systems in one year by its too-generous arrangements and then had to slash feed-in tariffs 30 per cent and impose a cap on the annual volume of installations to under one-fifth of the level they hit in 2008-09.

What made the NSW scheme so attractive to householders who were fast on their feet, and now have gold-plated subsidies locked in until the middle of the decade, was that a combination of the far too high feed-in tariff, a reduction in solar installation costs and the impact of a higher Australian dollar delivered them a pay-back period for their investment of less than three years, compared with the government's intention of 10 years.

The report indicates that the fast-footed 50,000 who got in before Keneally stopped the initial program will get a bonus of $4000 in net present value terms on their investment. Nice work, that.

The bad news for the rest of NSW's residential consumers is that the additional costs of the Keneally scheme will not show up on their bills until July next year. By then, in the view of most political analysts, her government will have been swept away in the March state election.

Her taskforce has estimated that NSW electricity consumers, including business users, collectively representing one-third of all the power account holders in the country, will get a regulator-approved rise of 11 per cent next July and another 8 per cent in July 2012, mostly as a result of much higher network costs - before the solar support bill is taken into account and before, of course, any carbon tax that the Gillard government may have put in place by then.

For the Nature Conservation Foundation of NSW, reacting to Keneally's announcement, there is no doubt where this leaves the state's consumers: "back in the dark ages of over-reliance on coal", it declaims.

I suspect they actually would be quite pleased to be back in the so-called dark ages of paying $130 a megawatt hour for their household electricity instead of the $195 that the charge has now reached, and the $250 to $300 that it is suggested the power bills will bear by 2015.

Meanwhile, it bears reporting that in the years that NSW was governed by Bob Carr, Morris Iemma and Nathan Rees - the available industry data covers only the period to mid-2009 at present - the state's government-owned power plants increased their consumption of black coal from 21 million tonnes a year to almost 30 million tonnes annually.

Not so much the premier state as the watermelon state: green on the outside, but red on the inside from burning coal.


Victoria's woeful ambulance service again

No GPS: Lost paramedics told to find their way by torchlight

Two whistleblower paramedics told the Herald Sun that sick Victorians were waiting longer because ambulances didn't have a GPS, which cost as little as $96.

"Sometimes even on code one, where it is an emergency, drivers have had to pull over on the side of the road to look at a Melway [street atlas]," said one paramedic, who refused to be named for fear of being sacked. "It's time-consuming. Every second counts. "Everyone comments about it. It's stupid. "Taxis have a GPS as standard. We don't."

One paramedic told of using a GPS on a personal smartphone to find the way to emergencies. "If we had GPS devices it would be quicker. Sometimes at night ambulances drive up and down streets trying to find house numbers," one paramedic said.

In June there were calls for all ambulances to be fitted with GPS devices after an ambulance service in Kyneton took 3 1/2 hours to get a patient to hospital. It was also revealed this month that ambulance response times had hit a five-year low.

Steve McGhie, of the Ambulance Employees Association, called for all ambulances to get a GPS. "They are an essential piece of equipment. A paramedic can be sent anywhere in the state. Sometimes they are in places with no local knowledge," he said. "And we know paramedics have raised issues over not having them. "It's a cost issue. It's not funded for. It's only an issue for Ambulance Victoria if they think they require them."

Ambulance Victoria said it did prefer that paramedics relied on local knowledge to overcome traffic problems.

General manager of specialist services, Mark Rogers, said Ambulance Victoria had assessed several GPS models and was not opposed to them. "But (we) will not embrace it until it can cover all of our needs," he said.

"For paramedics driving in emergency conditions, it is safer for them to identify a route themselves through mapping rather than relying on directions from a GPS system while travelling at speed."


International Monetary Fund says Australian banking system survived the GFC in good shape because of pro-competition regulatory policies

They were operating under the policies of the conservative Howard government

AUSTRALIA'S banking policies helped major lenders survive the global financial crisis, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) says. A staff report, to be released today, credits existing banking regulations for keeping banks profitable.

It also calls on the Reserve Bank (RBA) to leave interest rates on hold, at least for now.

The endorsement of Australia's lending laws comes only a day after the Senate voted to hold an inquiry into banking competition.

The IMF appears to have slapped down shadow treasurer Joe Hockey's call for the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority to investigate whether or not the banks are taking unnecessary risks.

In its report, the IMF credits the "four pillars" policy, which prevents the major banks from merging, for limiting risky behaviour before the financial crisis and helping to maintain stability.

The Washington-based organisation has also called on the RBA keep the cash rate at 4.5 per cent. "Keeping policy rates on hold since May 2010 was appropriate, in light of increased uncertainty about prospects for the recovery," it said. "With lending rates in Australia close to 10-year averages and economic activity responding quickly to cash rate adjustments, the RBA has scope to wait for the outlook to become clearer."

But it noted that rates would eventually have to rise to contain inflationary pressures generated by the mining boom, which has produced elevated coal and iron ore prices.

Private-sector investment in mining and commodity exports were expected to replace public demand as the main driver of growth.

Household consumption, too, was tipped to be strong as a rebounding labour market helped drive income growth.

Australia's terms of trade - the ratio of export to import prices - was expected to rise to historic highs in late 2010, driving a long-lasting resources boom tied with fast-growing economies in Asia. But the report noted the terms of trade could fall sharply if Chinese demand for commodities declined. It also pointed to fiscal instability in Europe which could push up the cost of capital for Australian borrowers.

Treasurer Wayne Swan seized on this prediction to endorse the Government's stimulus spending. "The IMF also points to the challenges that lie ahead for Australia relating to the patchy global economic recovery, from which we are not immune," he said in a statement.

The Australian economy is expected to grow by 3 per cent in 2010 and 3.5 per cent in 2011.


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