Thursday, January 23, 2014

In a world of goodies and baddies, spot the baddies, and the cackling geese ...

(Above: David Rowe, here, nails it again).

Meanwhile, on another planet, ET, sometimes known as Tony Abbott, has phoned home:

Speaking from Switzerland, where he is attending the World Economic Forum, Mr Abbott praised the Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, but then added that he ''of all people'' understood Australia's motivations. 
''Stopping the boats is a matter of sovereignty and President Yudhoyono of all people ought to understand ... just how seriously countries take their sovereignty. So we will continue to do what we are entitled to do to secure our borders,’’ Mr Abbott said. That is thought to have been a reference to Indonesian sensitivities over West Papuan independence claims. 
Australian National University Indonesia expert Greg Fealy said while the ‘‘logic’’ of Mr Abbott’s comments may have been sound, the tone was likely to be counter-productive, and could see Mr Abbott’s reputation permanently damaged in Indonesia. ‘‘The way in which he said it could easily be seen as Tony Abbott lecturing to President Yudhoyono, and in particular I think he used the term ‘‘ought’’ – that Yudhoyono ‘ought’ to understand, and I think that was unfortunate,’’ he said. (PM prods Indonesia over boat turnbacks)

Oh there's nothing like being lectured to by ET.

And ET had other insights to offer while in the glow of the world stage, which even made it into the UK edition of the Huff Post, Tony Abbott Reduces Syria Civil War To 'Goodies' Against 'Baddies':

The bloody war in Syria has been boiled down to a case of "goodies" and "baddies" by the Australian Prime Minister. 
As world leaders gathered in Switzerland to try to find a solution to the complex mess, Tony Abbott gave his take on the situation. “The difficulty in Syria is that - as I famously, perhaps infamously said during the election campaign - it often seems like a case that involves baddies versus baddies,” Australian media reported him saying. 
“I guess the best way for all of them to demonstrate that at least some of them are goodies is to lay down their arms and try to ensure that the conflict… starts to subside.” 
Last time Abbott invoked the analogy he was accused of being from the "John Wayne school of international relations" by political opponent Kevin Rudd.

John Wayne? That's a slanderous attack on a dead man. Even in his Green Beret days, Wayne allowed for a little complexity in the argument ...

Meanwhile, still on the same planet, ET is planning a big moment:

Yep, the reptiles at the lizard Oz are wildly excited at their hero being allowed to strut the world stage with a key note address.

Sadly the pond couldn't be bothered busting the paywall EXCLUSIVE, and instead revered to a shorter summary in the Business Spectator:

Prime Minister Tony Abbott will tell business executives and international policymakers of the need for the public sector to abandon “government-knows-best” beliefs in a speech in Switzerland tonight, The Australian reports. 
 The keynote speech at the World Economic Forum comes ahead of Australia’s G20 leadership, with Mr Abbott hoping to lay the groundwork for greater private sector-led economic growth. 
"The challenge, right around the world, is to promote sustainable private sector-led growth and employment and to avoid government-knows-best action for action's sake," he will say, according to The Australian. "As always, stronger economic growth is the key to addressing almost every global problem." 
Mr Abbott will also urge leaders to make life easier on businesses with reduced regulation and call for more free trade deals.

That'll do piggie, that'll do, as Jon Stewart recently cracked in another context about the chances of Edward Snowden being hailed by a hero by Obama ... in about forty years time.

Happily, with all this EXCLUSIVE talk of the joys of the private sector, the pond was reminded by a correspondent of just how comprehensively fucked the justice system in the United States has become as a result of it being increasingly turned over to the private sector.

You can read it in an Economist blog under the header Private probation A judicially sanctioned extortion racket.

Let's just cherry pick the opening par:

A couple of months ago I wrote an article about the use of fees and fines in the criminal-justice system, particularly the fees imposed by private-probation companies. It's easy to see the promise of such companies, particularly for states such as Georgia, which has a lot of counties (156—more than any state other than Texas), many of which have very little tax base to pay for services. Private-probation companies take the hassle and cost of supervising misdemeanants on probation away from local government. Over a two-year period they directed over $200m into county coffers. Supporters will argue that is money that counties may otherwise not have seen: misdemeanant probationers, because their crimes generally are not all that dangerous, receive less supervision than more dangerous offenders, and so often fall through the cracks.

And then turn to the closing two pars:

Private probation companies promised they could do as well or better than the state at supervising misdemeanants, for less cost to the taxpayer. In many cases those promises have proven hollow. The AJC tells the story of Kathleen Hucks, who was walking her dogs on Memorial Day when a policeman stopped to speak with her, and found that she owed a private-probation company $156 from her probation four-and-a-half years ago. Although her probationary period had long since ended, she was thrown in jail (at a cost taxpayers of more than $1,000) until her husband could raise the $156 Ms Hucks owed. Clifford Hayes was arrested over a years-old $847 private-probation debt, over which he was threatened with eight months in prison, also at a far greater cost to the taxpayer than what he owed. As for supervision, attorneys I spoke with for my article said that it often amounts to little more than stuffing cash into a private-probation company's payment kiosk in a county courthouse. 
 Look, there is absolutely nothing wrong with slimming down government, and even outsourcing some of its functions when private companies can do it better and more cheaply. But this is not lean, efficient government. This is a private company using government's punitive power to extract money from Georgia's poorest and least powerful. Ordering debtors jailed at taxpayer cost is not cheaper and better; it is more expensive and worse. And when private-probation firms order probationers to take expensive classes or pay for electronic monitoring that no judge requires, when it extends a probationer's term beyond what a judge ordered so it can collect its fees, they avail themselves of the state's power without any of its responsibilities or legally-required transparency. That is a long way from justice.

You could multiply such examples tenfold, but it's a routine part of the rhetoric that the private sector does it better, that government is the problem not the solution, that we'll all be better off if we get rid of the cardigan wearers and leave it all to smart entrepreneurs ... as if greed and corruption only ever occurs in unions and the public sector, and markets always self-regulate to produce oh poop, oh bliss, oh joy ...

It's as simplistic and as stupid as dividing the world into goodies and baddies, but that's the simplistic mind of Tony Abbott at work. Once you've been given the Catholic briefing - good and evil and guilt for being naughty - it's really hard to shake.

As for the reptiles, it's easy to understand why they're so excited. They want the ABC gone, or at least seriously reduced, because these days that's about the only business plan they have left. That and being able to pick up tasty outsourcing of government work, like the Australia Network.

As for this bit of the rhetoric?

Prime Minister Tony Abbott will tell business executives and international policymakers of the need for the public sector to abandon “government-knows-best” beliefs in a speech in Switzerland tonight, The Australian reports. 

Well that's designed for pure comedy, because it turns out that the Abbott government knows best when it comes to morals and marriage.

Yep the comedy potential of the current government has cranked up a further notch with Kevin Andrews seeking his moment in the sun.

Remember that only a few days ago, Andrews was  wringing his hands and doing his chicken little routine, railing in the usual way about the cost of welfare and how we're all doomed and how poor people were getting an easy ride - because welfare is just so rich in this lucky country - and things would have to be looked into, and things would have to change, and we needed more homeless people to remind the others to keep their noses to the grindstone ....?

And so on and so forth.

Well Andrews is also a crank with a bee in his bonnet about heterosexual marriage.

He even wrote a book about it, as you can read in Liberal MP Kevin Andrews' book says marriage best for you and the kids (may be HUN paywall affected).

Of course, gays need not apply but for hets it's better than a serving of sliced cheese on sliced bread:

Mr Andrews argues it is the Government's business to promote marriage, which is the "best source of physical and mental health, emotional stability, and prosperity for adults and children. It is also the best bet for attaining happiness and fulfilment". 
Married men and women lead more healthy lives than unmarried and are more likely to be richer, own a home and be successful in employment, the provocative book says. 
"Marriage seems to protect from contracting cancer and offers a better chance of survival after diagnosis." 
It argues growing up with married parents gives kids the best chance of learning "virtues, based on respect for human life and dignity". 
"The recent retreat from marriage that was meant to free individuals from economic and emotional constraints has failed many people." 
The ideal of "marital permanence" needs to be entrenched in a national family and marriage policy, affirming marriage as the best environment for raising children, the Catholic MP and married father-of-five writes.

The world can't say it wasn't warned about the ways of Catholics. Want to save yourself from cancer? Get hitched ...

Want to lead the single life? You're doomed. Get lost, you unhappy, unfulfilled schweinhunds ...

So in this time of considerable fiscal constraint, in this time of ranting against the welfarists, what does Andrews do?

That's right, piss twenty million against the wall on his own little hobby horse and Catholic foible.

It was too much even for the Murdoch tabloids, as you can read in Federal Government offers newlyweds $200 to attend marriage counselling.

Newlyweds across Australia will be given a $200 voucher for marriage counselling from July 1, as part of a $20 million trial to strengthen relationships and avoid family breakdowns. 
Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews confirmed the Federal Government's $200 voucher scheme would proceed with a 12-month trial of 100,000 couples starting on July 1.

Andrews was in bliss. His noble work had come to fruition:

The Federal Government believes the move will strengthen relationships, create more happiness and stability in the home and create a better environment for children. 
"The evidence shows that strong relationships between parents make a substantial difference to a child,'' Mr Andrews said. 
"Australian research also consistently finds that marriage and relationship education assists committed, married, engaged or cohabiting couples to move through the phases of their relationship with improved relationship skills, strengthening relationships for up to five years." 
About 120,000 couples are married in Australia every year. 

 Naturally the private sector was slobbering at the bit at this tasty bit of outsourcing:

Relationship counsellors have welcomed the scheme, saying it is important for couples to discuss their values ­before tying the knot.

Uh huh. And if you'd just hand that voucher over now, we'll have it cashed before you know it, and all the best with your marriage and all who sail in it ...

This from the government that had the cheek to rail against pink batts for years.

So if you do the session and then get divorced and catch cancer, can you see the federal government for offering deficient, defective counselling?

What about if you get married and you discover you're leading a life that's unhappy and unfulfilled?

Can you get a voucher for that?

As boondoggles go, it's a minor one, but as this government gets into gear, we can expect more and more boondoggles of the kind designed to shovel government money down the throat of the private sector, while ministers enjoy the power to indulge the bees in their bonnet and feed them a little honey.

And will you find the reptiles at the lizard Oz railing and raging against this kind of boondoggle, perhaps by pointing out that marriage seems to have worked as well as might be expected for the odd century or two without benefit of counsellors and half-baked government-paid shrinkery?

Of course not, not when Judeo-Christian western civilisation is at stake ...

And now, for further reading, just to check on how that transfer of wealth from the government to the private sector, and from the poor is working out, why not indulge in The World's 85 Richest People Are as Wealthy as the Poorest 3 Billion ...

Trickle down? Don't you mean trickle up, or trickle off into a Swiss or Cayman Islands account?

Never mind, let's cut to the chase. Are we competitive?

Oh great, we're up there, we're playing a good game. What a relief. That'll teach those welfare bludgers a lesson.

Now hush your whinging, here's your wedding counselling voucher, go out and splash it in the private sector in style, and remember if you fuck up and go single and get cancer, don't think you're going to cop any welfare, you useless single bludger, ruining society and the health care system.


  1. Hi Dorothy,

    I think I understand now;

    Private sector = Goodie.

    Public sector = Baddie.

    That's why Tony gets the big bucks.


  2. And here was me thinking we elected governments to be the people who knew best. Another idea cut down in its infancy. As for Mr Andrews, notice that he says that proper counselling can strengthen relationships "... for up to five years." Do we then give them another voucher after 5 years?

    Of course, when the current generation of schoolkids, who have had the benefit of school chaplains, get to the age of serious relationships, they won't need any counselling because the chaplains will have sorted them out earlier.

  3. What does Mrs [should that be Ms?] Andrews do?,103

    Well here is one thing she does.


    1. Great links Fred. Nauseating in a peculiar way, but hilarious too, as always happens when you spot loons disporting themselves on the pond, and feathering their nests, and doing all the usual things scurrilous loons do while in the same breath saying they're followers of Christ ...

  4. Is it only for first time newly weds? Nice little earner at taxpayer expense for when Kevin retires (thanks fred). Guess it's too sensible an idea to counsel those whose relationships are breaking down rather than those whose relationships are not and counselling vouchers for those with obesity or alcohol problems might help solve health and social problems more than any marriage counselling service.

    How about extending the voucher system a la Abbott/Bernardi/ Pyne/Andrews -style?

    Counsel the baby to be a “goodie”, but to dislike “do-gooders”.

    Counsel every student to only ask Dorothy Dixers and obey and learn to “shush!”

    Counsel every worker to work long and hard for less and “hope” for the “opportunity” and “reward” of the trickle down effect.

    Counsel everyone to learn to suffer for their sins and everyone else's and to look forward to death because there's another life, but it'll not be pleasant for the “baddies”.

    It's clear that bronze, silver, gold and platinum vouchers for those who have “proven” themselves to be the “pure” family have been given the thumbs down, because the PM would fail the criteria.

    1. The pond can see where you're heading, Chief Counsellor and Voter of Bentleigh. Send in your advance order for a squillion vouchers now :)


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