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Friday, July 13, 2018

What will you do when they come for the Socialists?

What will you do when they come for the Socialists?

There has been a global increase in fascist and authoritarian behaviour by main stream right-wing parties, such as the Republicans and Australia's Liberal Party. Considering it is only a few decades ago that the world saw the culmination of evil that arises when people think they are better than others, when they fear others.

My question for those who support these parties is this:

What will you do when the government comes for the Socialists?

What will you do when the government comes for YOU?

If current behaviour is any indication, then you are doing, and will continue to do, nothing!

Those who do speak up for the marginalised, the discriminated against and the persecuted, are often labelled as Do-Gooders, as though this is an insult! Better to be a Do-Gooder than a Do-Nothing.

The Do-Nothings gave us Hitler.

Too much of an exaggeration?

In the US, the Republicans have presented a bill that can jail anti-fascist protesters for 15 years(1). They are seriously considering a Bill that targets people who protest against fascism, authoritarianism and Nazis. Meanwhile, President Trump described the Ku Klux Klan and Nazis as 'very fine people'(2).

Martin Niemöller was a Christian pastor in Hitler's Germany, so he witnessed first-hand the rise of Hitler and well understand what empowered the rise of such evil. Niemöller firmly placed the blame on people, particularly Christians, who failed to speak up, or worse, who supported Hitler because he claimed to be doing the 'work of the Lord'.  Niemöller wrote:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— 
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— 
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Quotation from Martin Niemöller on display in the Permanent Exhibition of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum(3)
The government has already come for the refugees. We have seen that with Australia's indefinite imprisonment of asylum seekers and refugees, which has been condemned by the United Nations, Amnesty International and other humanitarian groups. Do-Gooders spoke up, Do-Nothings wallowed in the fear-mongering and lies that the government used when they labelled them terrorists and illegals, when they dehumanised them as willing to throw their children over-board (which was found by a Senate inquiry to have been a lie).

The government has already come for the migrants. We've seen this with Trump separating children from families of migrants who have tried to cross into the US. He has continued to deport migrants who have lived in the country for  years. Australia is also deporting migrants to countries that many left when they were babies. Do-Gooders spoke up, Do-Nothings wallowed in the fear-mongering and hate-speech that characterises immigrants as criminals, rapists, pedophiles and a drain on society.

The government has already come for Muslims. Trump has recently banned travel from some Muslim-majority countries. Demonisation of asylum seekers, usually portrays them as being Islamic terrorists, even though these are people fleeing terror. Globally, there has been a push to ban Islam because of the characterisation that all Muslims are terrorists, even though very few are (and of course, Christianity itself has been far more violent, for instance it was Christians who were responsible for most of the wars of the 20th century). Then there are those who are persist with the attacks on Muslims by trying to ban the hijab and ban halal food. It hasn't quite gotten to the point of locking people up simply for being Muslim, but the rise in hate-crimes against them does indicate a frightening future if these attacks and hate-speech against Muslims continue.

The government is attacking socialists, unionists and the left-wing broadly. In Australia, the debate about the anti-bullying program, 'Safe Schools', was labelled by a number of right-wing politicians as being a 'Marxist agenda of cultural relativism'(4). The Liberal Party demanded a royal commission into union corruption, which of course revealed very little, other than the fact that the government is trying to ban unions. Meanwhile, the right-wing cheered this on. Marxism has been used as a scapegoat every time the Liberal Party wages an attack on basic human or civil rights, such as marriage equality, treatment of asylum seekers, and even requests for wage rises and penalty rates.

Many years ago, we fought a war against Nazis. We won. For decades it was a shameful thing to associate with Nazism. Now, it is not only accepted, it is something that some people are proud of. For instance, One Nation leader, Pauline Hanson, has proudly endorsed a neo-Nazi as the One Nation candidate in an upcoming federal by-election(5).

There has been a rise in hate crime across the globe. Yet, calling it out is labelled as 'political correctness gone mad', with the right-wing claiming their freedom of speech is being constrained... simply because other people (often called Do-Gooders or cultural Marxists) ask them to show respect for people who are of a different colour, religion or nation. Hate crime in the United States has risen for four years straight(6), including increases in attacks on Muslims(7). There has been a significant increase in hate crimes against South Asians, Arabs, Muslims and Hindus(8).

Irish columnist, Fintan O'Toole speculates that this shift to the extreme right-wing by formerly moderate parties is a trial run for fascism(9). Governments across the globe are pushing ever more extremist policies and seeing how well they are accepted. With the exception of those 'Do-Gooders', often times the policies are introduced with ne'er a word of protest from the Do-Nothings who justify these policies in the name of 'border security', biblical teaching or other reasons designed to explain away the fear-mongering and racism behind them.

Hitler's final solution did not happen over night. It took many years for Hitler to arrive at the idea of gassing those he had imprisoned. While the world often remembers the six million Jews that were the victims of the Nazi regime, there were also another five million who included people from various groups, such as socialists, unionists, gypsies, the unwell, the gay, and dissidents.

Germany's failure to challenge Hitler's racist and bigoted policies are what empowered him, and are what led to the holocaust.

So, right-wing voter ... you may hate socialism, but when they come for the Socialists, what will you do?

What will you do when they come for those you don't like?

Will you be a Do-Gooder and speak up or a Do-Nothing and shut-up?

The Do-Nothings empowered Hitler.

Will you fight fascism or will you empower it?

Better to speak up now, then to wait until there is no-one to speak up.


References

1. Huffpost, Zach Carter, GOP Anti-Antifa Act Could Send Masked Demonstrators To Prison For 15 Yearshttps://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/house-republicans-unmasking-antifa-act_us_5b4527b1e4b0c523e263c2d5. Accessed 13 July 2018.

2. The Atlantic, Rosie Gray, 15 August 2017,  Trump Defends White-Nationalist Protesters: 'Some Very Fine People on Both Sides'. https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/08/trump-defends-white-nationalist-protesters-some-very-fine-people-on-both-sides/537012/. Accesssed 13 July 2018.

3. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, MARTIN NIEMÖLLER: "FIRST THEY CAME FOR THE SOCIALISTS...". https://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007392. Accessed 13 July 2018.

4. ABC News, Michael Bradley, The problem with evoking Marxism in the Safe Schools debate. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-03-24/bradley-marxism-and-safe-schools/7272764. Accessed 13 July 2018.

5. The New Daily, Jackson Stiles, One Nation preferences neo-Nazi over Labor in Longman.
https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/national/2018/07/11/one-nation-preferences-longman/. Accessed 13 July 2018.

6. The Conversation, Brian Leven, James J. Nolan, John David Reitzel, 26 June 2018, New data shows US hate crimes continued to rise in 2017https://theconversation.com/new-data-shows-us-hate-crimes-continued-to-rise-in-2017-97989. Accessed 13 July 2018.

7. DW, Reuters, Anti-Muslim hate crime on the rise in Donald Trump's US - report. https://www.dw.com/en/anti-muslim-hate-crime-on-the-rise-in-donald-trumps-us-report/a-43500942. Accessed 13 July 2018.

8. SBS, Vivek Asri, 16 November 2017, Hate crime against South Asians on a risehttps://www.sbs.com.au/yourlanguage/hindi/en/article/2017/11/16/hate-crime-against-south-asians-rise. Accessed 13 July 2018.

 9. The Irish Times, Fintan O'Toole, 26 June 2018, Trial runs for fascism are in full flow. https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/fintan-o-toole-trial-runs-for-fascism-are-in-full-flow-1.3543375. Accessed 13 July 2018.









Monday, July 9, 2018

Who's a little snowflake then? Right-wing sensitivity and its tolerance of fascism and bigotry.

Who's a little snowflake then? Right-wing sensitivity and its tolerance of fascism and bigotry.


Right-wing pundits generally try to portray themselves as being strong and logical, not prone to the sensitive, emotional and allegedly illogical behaviours of the left-wing. Yet, many on the right-wing are extremely sensitive to criticism about God and country, often invoking emotional accusations of the left-wing not being patriotic or being communist, and then will follow this up by attempting to ban anything that doesn't meet their approval or which contravenes their 'values'.

Often these attempts to ban things are not accompanied by a great deal of logic, but based on logical fallacies and false equivalents. For instance, the right-wing have attempted to ban an entire religion and some of its aspects, namely Islam, halal, hijabs and burqas. Other things that the right has attempted to ban include refugees, abortion, homosexuality, marriage equality ... and even multiculturalism. Many of them completely melt down (pardon the pun) over climate change.

The right-wing get all touchy and upset whenever the left-wing accuses them of racism and bigotry. These accusations are usually based on the right's attacks on Islam, migrants from non-English speaking backgrounds or other things where people's race or religion come into it. Apparently running fear-mongering campaigns that accuse people from particular countries, races or religions as being terrorists, rapists and pedophiles is not racist or bigoted in the eyes of the right-wing. So, they retaliate and call the left-wing 'snowflakes' or 'libtards', and even attack fellow right-wingers as 'cucks' if they appear to have even a modicum of social justice values.

The right-wing got all offended when Michelle Wolf cracked jokes at Trump's expense(1), yet many of these were the same people who wore t-shirts at Trump rallies telling Democrats 'fuck your feelings'. Who's a little snowflake then?

The faux outrage from the right-wing didn't stop here. They were pulling their best lemon-sucking faces when Samantha Bee called Ivanka Trump a 'feckless cunt'(2). Yet they were fine when Sid Miller called Hilary a cunt(3) ... and for that matter when Ted Nugent called Hilary a 'toxic cunt' way back in 1994. Hilary's daughter, Chelsea Clinton, referred to Ted Nugent's comment when she called out the hypocrisy of right-wing outrage over Samantha Bee's comment about Ivanka(4).

The right figure that the left are snowflakes because they argue for political correctness. Keep in mind that PC is about treating people with respect which you'd think the religious right-wing would be in favour of.  The religious right love to quote biblical scripture and nothing says the bible more than the golden rule articulated in Mathew 7:12, 'So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you'. In everything, huh? I wonder if that includes locking others up indefinitely on a remote pacific island when they've committed no crime other than to ask for protection from persecution ... but who knows, perhaps being brutalised on a desert-island has been a long-term fantasy of the right-wing.



The right-wing argue that left-wing snow-flakes take offence at everything, hence the whole PC thing. They accuse the left-wing of shutting down free speech and banning people from entering the country if they disagree with them. An example of this would be the left's attempts to ban speakers such as Milo Yiannopoulos and Geert Wilders, both of whom have been embraced by ultra-right-wing extremists for their extreme attacks on Islam, refugees and migrants ... not bigoted or racist, right?

So on banning people which the right claims they don't do ... there is the thing about banning asylum seekers from entering the country, whether it be Australia or the USA, even though under the UN Refugee Convention they are legally allowed to enter and seek asylum regardless of the irregular method of entry. Banning people fleeing persecution ... think about that. Thousands of people banned, yet the right-wing bang on about the left trying to ban a couple of hate-mongerers from entering the country ... hmm ... Funnily enough, the right-wing falls hook, line and sinker for the demonising of refugees and asylum seekers by the government and hate-mongerers. They are so gullible that they believe the lies about asylum seekers 'illegally' entering the country, so feel that if asylum seekers break the law, they should be locked up. If the right-wing is so concerned about the rule of law, then why aren't they upset about their government breaking numerous international laws and conventions, including conventions on refugees, torture and the rights of the child. It's hard to believe that they aren't motivated by racism and bigotry when they justify these human rights abuses in the name of 'border security' or preserving 'national values' ... it is really in the name of nationalism, which basically equates to keeping people who are different out of the country! Yeah, one can see why the left accuses these nationalists of racism and bigotry ... and fascism.

Former US President, Henry A. Wallace stated, 'a fascist is one whose lust for money or power is combined with such an intensity of intolerance toward those of other races, parties, classes, religions, cultures, regions or nations as to make him ruthless in his use of deceit or violence to attain his ends'.



And then there are some examples of specific individuals that the right-wing tried to ban. Cast your minds back to when an Australian woman named Yassmin Abdel-Magied dared to post an Anzac Day tweet that said, 'Lest. We. Forget. (Manus, Nauru, Syria, Palestine…)'(5). This was hardly an insult to Anzacs or the Australian military in general. It was acknowledging the role of the Australian military in these locations as well as the government's attempts to cover-up ongoing abuses of people fleeing war and persecution. Considering the Australian military has fought for our freedoms, then why not call out government actions that remove freedoms of people, particularly when they ordered the military to help out in its 'border security' operations. Right-wingers across Australia showed that they too have their own version of what they consider politically-correct, which often is anything that dares to criticise the military or their political and religious views. In this case, Yassmin was bombarded with death-threats and vile abuse from right-wingers who attacked her politics, her religion and her gender - nothing racist or bigoted about that, yeah? When she finally decided it was too much, Yassmin left Australia and moved to Britain, to great howls of approval and back-slapping from right-wingers who felt they had justifiably run her out of town. A couple of years later, Yassmin hosted a new show on the ABC and the right-wing went from indignant to apoplectic in micro-seconds(6). They called for the show's banning ... but aren't they the self-appointed guardians of free speech, always telling the left-wing snowflakes to suck it up whenever the right-wing offends someone? If the military fought for our freedoms, then it is an insult to their sacrifice to deny freedoms to others seeking our protection.

While this letter refers to America, the points it makes about the Allies fighting against fascism to defend freedom is relevant as the right-wing instead tries to defend fascism and hate-crimes.



In England there was the case of Munroe Bergdorf, a trans-gender model and political activist who dared to criticise the 'racial violence of white people', and stated 'Yes ALL white people. Because most of ya’ll don’t even realise or refuse to acknowledge that your existence, privilege and success as a race is built on the backs, blood and death of people of colour. Your entire existence is drenched in racism'. Bergdorf has made numerous posts about the racist behaviour and history of white people. Apparently, having an actual history lesson about the blood-drenched impacts of colonialism is not PC in the right-wing world. The right-wing did what they do best: they unleashed all manner of vitriolic attacks on her, which eventually forced her to stand down from the Labour Party's LGBT advisory board. Bergdorf  stated, 'This is a decision that I’ve had to make due to endless attacks on my character by the conservative right wing press and relentless online abuse. I refuse to be painted as a villain or used as a pawn in the press’ efforts, especially those at the Daily Mail, to discredit the Labour party and push their transphobic rightist agendas'(7).

For people who claim to stand for freedom of speech, they sure do have issues when people exercise that freedom. This has been particularly evident when the media challenges statements and actions of the right-wing. Donald Trump is consistently accusing the press of fake news and being left-wing. In Australia, the right-wing are constantly attacking the ABC and SBS for unbalanced reporting. This is pretty ironic considering that most of the people attacking the ABC don't actually listen to, read it or watch it with any regularity. They generally tend to read the Murdoch papers which have little balance and are more prone to publish opinion than fact. The ABC can and does challenge politicians from all sides of the fence about the claims they make. Right-wingers criticise the ABC for being too left-wing, yet it is only that the critics are so right-wing, they see any unbiased article as left-wing. The fact is that the ABC is banned by law from providing opinion and is required to be balanced; it can only provide facts, it interviews politicians and commentators from both sides of the fence, and its correspondents and hosts are from both sides of the political divide, e.g. Philip Adams from the left and Amanda Vanstone (former Liberal politician) from the right.

So what does the right-wing do? They de-fund the ABC through forced savings of $324 million in 2014 and funding freezes in 2018 that cut $84 million from the ABC's budget which impacts their service delivery(8). Then they appoint a former Murdoch-stooge to conduct an 'efficiency review' of the ABC(9). Clearly the government doesn't want to pay to protect the free speech that it claims to value.

Attacks on the press are almost de rigueur for the right-wing. In the United States, the Texas Governor laughed about shooting reporters(10). Donald Trump, feckless President of the United States, has incessantly waged war on the media, as have many others in the Republican Party. Trump has accused the media of being the 'enemy of the people' and during his election campaign, t-shirts were available that said, 'Rope. Tree. Journalist. Some assembly required'. This war hasn't stopped at words. A Republican candidate was charged with assaulting a reporter(11). Right-wing troll, Milo Yiannopoulos stated that he 'can't wait for vigilante squads to start gunning journalists down on sight'(12). Days later, a gunman walked into a newspaper office in Maryland and shot five people dead(13). The attacks from Trump and others may not have directly inspired the killings, but a number of people from the so-called alt-right rejoiced in the murders(14).

The Australian government doesn't just attack the media, but threatens to prosecute it for reporting government corruption. In 2014, the then Abbott-led government passed legislation that could see journalists and whistle-blowers jailed for up to 10 years for reporting government actions, corruption and bungles by security agencies(15).  The most recent case being of 'Witness K' and, astoundingly, his lawyer(16). Witness K was a former Australian spy who revealed that during tense negotiations over oil and gas revenue between Australia and East Timor, the Australian government illegally bugged the East Timorese cabinet room. The government was not concerned about the illegality of the bugging, but they were concerned about it being exposed so they've taken particularly vindictive action by not just charging Witness K but his lawyer. This is not just an attack on free speech, but an attack on civil liberties. Everyone charged with a crime has the right to legal representation, so how can the lawyer be charged?  In July 2018, saw enactment of the National Security Legislation Amendment (Espionage and Foreign Interference) Act 2018. Originally introduced to parliament by Prime Minister Turnbull, the new Act criminalises the leaking and reporting of classified information; this includes whistle-blowers. Imagine a government that is less concerned about crime and more concerned about charging those who expose crime.

The UN has condemned the Turnbull government for an 'anti-democratic slide' in which there is 'mounting evidence of regressive measures being pursued by the government', this includes 'frequent vilification by senior public officials of charities, community groups and democratic institutions who hold the government to account'(17).

The left-wing love a good protest. So the conservative New South Wales government banned protests on crown land. The Council for Civil Liberties condemned it as being an 'unacceptable infringement on the civil liberties of people in NSW'(18).

As can be seen, the right-wing has double-standards around offensive language, behaviour, freedom of speech and freedom of movement. Many people have compared their actions to those of Hitler and the Nazis in 1930s Germany. While we haven't yet seen the mass incarceration of unionists socialists, we do see deportations of people who have lived in the country for years, we see the demonisation, vilification and indefinite detention of innocent men, women and children from other nations who have done nothing worse than flee war and persecution. They are often accused of being terrorists even though many are fleeing terrorism. In Australia, refugees are usually characterised as being Muslim, yet they are a mix of Muslim, Christian, Buddhist and other religions, and sometimes of no religion. We may not have arrived at the full-scale brutality of Hitler, but we are on the path to it. The latest method of the Australian government to justify these human rights abuses is to attack compassion itself. The Home Affairs Minister, Peter Dutton, stated that 'It's essential that people realise that the hard-won success of the last few years could be undone overnight by a single act of compassion in bringing 20 people from Manus to Australia'(19). So the indefinite detention of people who have not committed a crime or been charged with a crime will continue. There are thousands locked up by the government in the name of border security and the right-wing condones and encourages it. Recently, the Greens pushed to stop the reciting of the Lord's Prayer in parliament to howls of protest from the religious right who fail to abide by the bible in their treatment of refugees, the poor and in the basic commandment of loving their neighbours and loving their enemies ... Forgive us of our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us ... yep, the right seems to miss this in their outrage.

Such human rights abuses are often lost in the mire of economic debate. The right-wing will claim that conservative governments are the better economic managers than more left-wing governments, as this justifies the abuse and torture of innocent people. Surely human rights atrocities take precedence over balancing the budget. It should be kept in mind that during the 1930s, Hitler turned Germany's economy around as it recovered from the Great Depression, yet his economic successes are eclipsed by his human rights atrocities and the holocaust. Numerous historians have stated that had Hitler died in 1938, he would be remembered as the greatest statesman in German history(20). Had his supporters challenged his human rights and civil liberties abuses instead of crowing about his economic and nationalist successes in 'Making Germany Great Again', then there wouldn't have been the holocaust or the second world war.

The comparison to Hitler is not exaggerated. Holocaust survivor, Stephen B. Jacobs, states, 'America today feels like 1929 or 1930 Berlin. Things that couldn't be said five years ago in public are now normal discourse. It's totally unacceptable. Trump is an enabler. He's a sick, very disturbed individual. Appeasement of fascism is what led to everything'.



The right-wing carry on about political correctness stifling freedom of speech, yet as can be seen, they take offence at all sorts of stuff which they try to shut-down or ban. To accuse the left-wing of this, to accuse the left of being sensitive souls in a state of perpetual outrage is particularly disingenuous and a failure of circumspection by the right-wing.

The left-wing claim to be tolerant in the face of the right's intolerance. Of course, the right-wing then accuses the left of being intolerant to their freedoms of speech because of 'politically correctness gone mad'. However, challenging someone's views and opinions, asking them to explain the evidence, is not attacking their free speech. Having said that, the left, and for that matter the right, should not tolerate intolerant hate speech, racism or bigotry. There is a thing called the paradox of tolerance, which states that to tolerate the intolerant is to destroy tolerance.



Right-wing politicians and correspondents have turned the people against each other. This brain-washing is based on fear-mongering and false-hoods, which are wrapped in the flag of patriotism and pages of a misinterpreted bible to con the gullible. They scapegoat the most vulnerable who are blamed for society's ills, when it is the greed of politicians and businesses that have caused job losses, low wage growth in the name of 'efficiency' and are cultivating hate in the hearts of fearful people who mistake it for patriotism.



Those who blindly defend these abuses of power and people, do not take kindly to their myopic views being challenged; views which are based on opinion rather than fact. When the left presents facts, the right-wing call them elitist. Facts by themselves can be misleading, for instance, we've all heard the adage, 'lies, damned lies, and statistics'. Facts without context can be twisted to suit anyone's viewpoint. How often do we hear bigots quote the Koran without context to justify their bigotry, yet when the bible is quoted without context those same people try to explain it away with, 'yes, but ...'.  Call the left-wing snowflakes, libtards, cucks, elites or whatever else, but this doesn't change facts of history, politics or social issues. This willingness of the right-wing to see strength and patriotism in such ignorance is reminiscent of the Ministry of Truth's slogan in George Orwell's 1984:

War is peace 
Freedom is slavery
Ignorance is strength

Sadly, it goes beyond just facts and context. There is the whole issue of respect and basic decency. Under Trump, disgusting behaviour has become the new norm(21) and right-wingers across the globe (and in many churches) absolutely wallow in this deplorable behaviour as some sort of badge of honour. From making jokes about rape and sexual assault as though women are just being too sensitive, to tearing children away from their families, to his blatant and compulsive lying about pretty much everything. Conor Friedersdorf of The Atlantic perfectly sums up the situation in relation to Republican leadership relating to their tolerance of Trump and his deplorable behaviour, which also applies to anyone supporting Trump and overlooking his amoral and immoral actions and words: 'They can no longer be trusted to oppose racism or sexism. With a civic arsonist in the White House, they decline to summon the fire department. In short, they have become irresponsible citizens'(22).

As Lieutenant General David Morrison stated: 'The standard you walk past is the standard you accept'. Those on the right-wing who accept racist, sexist, bigoted behaviour cannot be surprised or offended if they they are labelled racist, sexist or bigoted. It is not a badge of honour to defend such deplorable behaviour, particularly when they declare anything that exposes this as being 'fake news'.

Those who feel threatened by facts, context, respect and decency are the real snow-flakes.


References

1. The Telegraph, Our Foreign Staff, 29 April 2018, Michelle Wolf draws laughs - and gasps - with barbs at Trump and Sanders at correspondents' dinner. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/04/29/michelle-wolf-draws-laughs-gasps-barbs-trump-sanders-correspondents/. Accessed 15 June 2018.

2. Buzzfeed, Krystie Lee Yandoli, 1 June 2018, Samantha Bee And TBS Have Apologized For Calling Ivanka Trump A “Feckless Cunt”. https://www.buzzfeed.com/krystieyandoli/samantha-bee-ivanka-trump-feckless-cunt. Accessed 2 June 2018.

3. San Antonio Current, Alex Zielinski, 1 November 2016, Sid Miller Called Hillary Clinton a "Cunt." Are We Supposed to Be Surprised? https://www.sacurrent.com/the-daily/archives/2016/11/01/sid-miller-called-hillary-clinton-a-cunt-are-we-supposed-to-be-surprised. Accessed 7 July 2018.

4. Huffpost, Sara Boboltz, 2 June 2018, Chelsea Clinton Points To Right-Wing Hypocrisy In Samantha Bee Outragehttps://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/chelsea-clinton-hypocrisy-samantha-bee-outrage_us_5b1059dae4b0d5e89e1e2a71. Accessed 7 July 2018.

5. ABC News, 26 April 2017, Yassmin Abdel-Magied: ABC can't sweep presenter's Anzac Day controversy under the carpet, Joyce says. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-07-11/yassmin-abdel-magied-says-she-feels-betrayed-by-australia/8699138. Accessed 7 July 2018.

6. Junkee, Tom Clift, 11 April 2018, Yassmin Abdel-Magied Has A New Show At The ABC, And Conservatives Are Throwing A Massive Tantrumhttp://junkee.com/yassmin-abdel-magied-abc-show/153763. Accessed 12 April 2018.

7. The Guardian, Jessica Elgot, 6 March 2018, Model Munroe Bergdorf quits as Labour LGBT adviserhttps://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/mar/06/model-munroe-bergdorf-quits-as-labour-lgbt-adviser. Accessed 8 March 2018.

8. The Guardian, Amanda Meade, 1 June 2018, ABC axes another 37 jobs in wake of $84m budget cut. https://www.theguardian.com/media/2018/jun/01/abc-axes-another-37-jobs-in-wake-of-84m-budget-cut. Accessed 7 July 2018.

9. The Age, Jennifer Duke, 6 July 2018, Ex-Foxtel boss Peter Tonagh set to head ABC review. https://www.theage.com.au/business/companies/ex-foxtel-boss-peter-tonagh-set-to-head-abc-review-20180706-p4zpyx.html. Accessed 6 July 2018.

10. Newsweek, Alexander Nazaryan, 26 May 2017, Texas Governor Greg Abbott Makes Joke About Shooting Reportershttp://www.newsweek.com/texas-governor-greg-abbott-makes-joke-about-shooting-reporters-616403. Accessed 1 July 2018.

11. Newsweek, Alexander Nazaryan, 25 May 2017, Trump's war on the press reaches dangerous levels as Republican candidate charged with assaulting reporterhttp://www.newsweek.com/trump-war-press-dangerous-615316. Accessed 7 July 2018.

12. Observer, Davis Richardson, 26 June 2018, Milo Yiannopoulos Encourages Vigilantes to Start ‘Gunning Journalists Down’http://observer.com/2018/06/milo-yiannopoulos-encourages-vigilantes-start-gunning-journalists-down/. Accessed 7 July 2018.

13. The Guardian, Naaman Zhou , Kate Lyons, Julia Carrie Wong and Oliver Laughland, 30 June 2018, Maryland shooting: five victims named after 'targeted attack' – as it happenedhttps://www.theguardian.com/us-news/live/2018/jun/28/capital-gazette-shooting-annapolis-latest-live-news-updates-today-maryland

14. Hope Not Hate, The Right Response Team, 29 June 2018, Five journalists were murdered — and the alt-right celebratedhttps://hopenothate.com/2018/06/29/five-journalists-murdered-alt-right-celebrated/. Accessed 7 July 2018.

15. ABC News, 14 October 2014, Fact check: Journalists face 10 years' jail for exposing security agency bungleshttp://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-10-14/journalists-face-jail-for-exposing-security-agency-bungles/5776504. Accessed 7 July 2018.

16. Human Rights Law Centre, Michelle Bennett, 29 June 2018, Turnbull Government criticised for prosecution of people who exposed government wrongdoing.
https://www.hrlc.org.au/news/2018/6/29/turnbull-government-criticised-for-prosecution-of-people-who-exposed-government-wrongdoing. Accessed 30 June 2018.

17. Human Rights Law Centre, Michelle Bennett, 1 March 2018, UN expert ‘astonished’ at the Turnbull Government's anti-democratic slidehttps://www.hrlc.org.au/news/2018/3/1/un-astonished-at-the-turnbull-governments-anti-democratic-slide. Accessed 7 July 2018.

18. New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties, Michael Brull, 20 June 2018, Council for Civil Liberties condemns regulations allowing for bans on public gatheringshttp://www.nswccl.org.au/council_for_civil_liberties_condemns_regulations_allowing_for_bans_on_public_gatherings. Accessed 7 July 2018.

19. SBS News, AAP-SBS, 23 June 2018, Compassion can undo efforts against people-smugglers: Duttonhttps://www.sbs.com.au/news/compassion-can-undo-efforts-against-people-smugglers-dutton. Accessed 7 July 2018.

20. Encyclopaedia Brittanica, John Lukacs, Adolf Hitler, Dictator of Germany, Hitler's Place in History. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Adolf-Hitler/Hitlers-place-in-history. Accessed 6 July 2018.

21. The Washington Post, Alexandra Petri, 6 July 2018, The disgusting 'normal' under Trump. https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/compost/wp/2018/07/06/the-disgusting-normal-under-trump. Accessed 8 July 2018.

22. The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf, 13 February 2018, When Deplorability Is No Longer a Dealbreakerhttps://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/02/what-donald-trump-supporters-cannot-be-trusted-to-do/551201/. Accessed 8 July 2018.




Saturday, May 19, 2018

Imagine if we built a big wall around Melbourne, shot anyone escaping, bombed schools & hospitals, prevented food and supplies from entering, and said it wasn't a crime because Melbournians don't exist

Imagine if we built a big wall around Melbourne, shot anyone escaping, bombed schools & hospitals, prevented food and supplies from entering, and said it wasn't a crime because Melbournians don't exist



Here's a proposal: The Australian government should build a fence around Melbourne to keep everyone in, no-one can leave. If they try: shoot them dead. Then we'll poison the water supply. Oh, while we're at it, turn the electricity off for 20 hours a day. Set snipers around the fence and shoot anyone who tries to leave. If they throw rocks, shoot them. If they make Molotov cocktails, shoot them. If they make home-made rockets that can barely fly a few hundred metres, have no navigation systems and are carrying nothing more than weak homemade explosives, send in Air Force jets to bomb their hospitals, schools and houses. If they try to escape by sea, we'll have the Navy there ready to blow their little dinghies and fishing boats out of the water. For that matter, if they try to go fishing, we'll restrict them to areas that have no fish. If they try to fish outside of that area ... you guessed it ... the Navy will blow them out of the water.

Here's another proposal. We all know how wonderful the traffic in Sydney is, so let's build giant walls and fences to criss-cross the city, with checkpoints all over them. That should help slow Sydney's traffic even more than it already is.

That should do the trick.

Oh, for good measure, we'll do all this in the name of God, because the bible tells us that 'those' people are not entitled to the land of Australia, so we'll quarantine them in Melbourne and Sydney and gradually exterminate them.

Nearly two million people live in Gaza, a place described as the world's largest open air prison. It is strictly controlled by Israel, from the use of the military to attack civilian targets to the amount of water, electricity and even aid that Gaza receives.


It is estimated that 97% of the water in Gaza is undrinkable(1). Foreign aid could be used to build infrastructure to improve water quality and capacity, yet Israel restricts aid, building materials and basically everything going into and coming out of Gaza. When Gaza asks for more aid, Israel petitions the international community to not be forthcoming with it and then blockades what does come in(2)(3). There are only three land crossings into and out of Gaza. Two of those border with Israel and one with Egypt. These crossings are meant to service a population of two million people, and yet Israel limits what food and materials are allowed into Gaza.

Courtesy: Human Rights Watch (4)


Israel blames Hamas for the failing infrastructure in Gaza, yet as with most things Israel says, this is a lie designed to demonise Palestinians and make Israel look like a munificent overlord. Nothing could be further from the truth. Israel tightly controls air, sea and road channels in and around Gaza, and is responsible for gross human rights violations. To prevent this being reported, it runs a massive propaganda campaign that doesn't just demonise Palestinians, but claims that Palestinians aren't a real people group. In 1969, Golda Meir, fourth Prime Minister of Israel, stated that 'There were no such thing as Palestinians. When was there an independent Palestinian people with an independent Palestinian people? ... They did not exist'. Which completely ignores the history of the area with maps, books and other nations recognising the area as Palestine. Britain issued medals in World Wars 1 and 2 for service in Palestine, prior to 1948 coins and passports were issued for Palestine. Israel isn't just ethnically cleansing the land, it is ethnically cleansing history. Israel wants Palestinians to be non-people because apparently, one can't commit genocide against non-people. To perpetuate this, Israel blocks human rights organisations from entering Gaza, so that the extent of Israel's human rights abuses cannot be adequately documented(4). There are few nations on earth committing such atrocities on a scale that Israel is committing against Palestinians.

Most disturbing is that the Israeli Defence Minister, Moshe Ya'alon has admitted that the attacks on Hamas have been largely motivated by the discovery of 1.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves discovered off the coast of Gaza. Israel wants this for themselves and unbelievably claims that revenue from gas sales would not help the people of Gaza. Ya'alon claims revenue would end up in the hands of Hamas and be used to fund terrorism. However, Hamas is a scapegoat for Israel's real goal which is to prevent the economic development of Gaza, and subsequently Palestine. Israel does not want an economically viable Palestine as it would threaten Israel's ability to control the area. Anais Antreasyan wrote in the University of California's Journal of Palestine Studies that this is a wider strategy of 'separating the Palestinians from their land and natural resources in order to exploit them, and, as a consequence, blocking Palestinian economic development. Despite all formal agreements to the contrary, Israel continues to manage all the natural resources nominally under the jurisdiction of the PA, from land and water to maritime and hydrocarbon resources'(5).

While Israel continues to attack Gaza, blockade supplies and steal its resources, it is responsible for a humanitarian crisis impacting the two million or so residents of Gaza. The United Nations has stated that if Israel continues these actions, Gaza could be uninhabitable by 2020(6).

On 15 May each year, Palestinians commemorate the Nakba (the catastrophe), during which Israel's illegal and violent creation on 14 May 1948 resulted in the deaths of thousands of Palestinians, destruction of some 400 villages and the exodus of around 700,000 refugees fleeing the ethnic cleansing that Israel was undertaking.


Gaza is one of the areas which still has Palestinians. There is also the West Bank; an area that is criss-crossed with walls built by Israel in order to control the movement of Palestinians. One other contested area is East Jerusalem. Palestinians claim this area based on the armistice of 1949. Israel claims it because of the city boundaries. As can be seen in the following image, Israel has stolen most of Palestine. The 1948 Partition Plan by the United Nations, provided for 55% of Palestine to be given to Israel. Contrary to popular opinion though, the UN did not create Israel. It was illegally created on 14 May 1948 by the Jewish Agency, headed by David Ben-Gurion who established himself as Israel's first Prime Minister. United States President Harry Truman recognised Israel the same day(7).




In his infantile 'wisdom', President Donald Trump decided to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as an acknowledgement of Jerusalem being the official capital of Israel. Of course, the Israelis were stoked. The rest of the world not so much, with the United Nations General Assembly ruling the US decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, as being 'null and void'. 128 countries voted against the US, while only nine voted to recognise it and 35 abstained. Most of those countries that voted with the US or abstained, were threatened with aid cuts by America(8). To rub salt into Palestinian wounds, Trump arranged for the US embassy to be opened by his fashion designer daughter, Ivanka, in Jerusalem on 14 May 2018; during Nakba commemorations when Palestinian feelings would be running the highest. It was a deliberately provocative move by a President who has no respect for Palestine or human rights, while condoning and praising the genocide and ethnic cleansing that Israel has been perpetrating in Palestine since at least 1948.





Israel has murdered thousands of Palestinians. It has used illegal weapons such as white phosphorous (9)(10) and flechette missiles(11) which spray thousands of tiny metal darts when they explode. The use of these weapons constitute war crimes(9). Israel routinely arrests children, illegally detaining them without charge, sometimes torturing them(12)(13). If any other nation was doing this, the holier-than-thou US would have intervened through military action, invasion and economic sanctions(14). But when it comes to Israel, America turns a blind eye to the crimes against humanity committed against Palestinians.

Not surprisingly, thousands of Palestinians protested against Israel and the US embassy move to Jerusalem during Nakba commemorations in 2018. Most of the protesters were unarmed. There was a small group throwing Molotov cocktails, which don't have a very long range as they are reliant on being thrown by someone. Similarly, some protesters threw rocks. The Israeli response? Shoot the protesters. More than 60 protesters were killed and hundreds were injured. When it was raised at the UN Security Council, America's ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley walked out so that she didn't have to listen to the Palestinian delegation(15). This is indicative of the United States cowardly and subservient kowtowing to powerful Israeli lobbyists. The US would rather allow crimes against humanity than bring Israel to task in the International Criminal Court.



Many Israelis meanwhile, celebrated their 2018 Eurovision victory and the relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem, while cheering on the simultaneous murder of innocent Palestinians. In fact, some were so jubilant about the mass murders that they laughed and clapped, finding it even funnier that some people were appalled by the killings(16).

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that Israel would defend its borders against terrorists. Firstly, those borders are under dispute, having been stolen from Palestinians illegally. Secondly, Israel continues to build illegal settlements in the West Bank, in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention(17). Thirdly, Israel is the terrorist, not innocent Palestinians who are defending their land and their lives. Palestine is a land that is illegally occupied by Israel, so Palestinians have a legal right to defend themselves. Israel is the aggressor and the illegal occupant. Israel isn't defending itself, it is protecting it's colonial interests. Palestinians have a right to self-defence and the same entitlement to human rights protections that the rest of the world does(18).

Israel is committing genocide. The treatment of Palestinians by Israelis is tantamount to ethnic cleansing; under UN definitions it amounts to genocide. Below is an extract from Article II of the Convention on the Punishment and Prevention of the Crime of Genocide(19):

In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such: 

(a) Killing members of the group; 
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; 
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; 
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; 
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group. 

Israel's behaviour is aimed at the destruction of Palestinians and constitutes genocide.



Many Christians blindly support Israel because of the misinterpretation of the bible. Way back in the day, God promised Abraham the land. However, because the ancient Jews kept disobeying God (to the point of crucifying God's only begotten son, Jesus), God passed the blessing of Abraham onto Christians. So for Christians to support Israel as the rightful inheritance for Jewish people is to completely ignore the bible. Additionally, the bible has a lot to say about not maltreating people who reside in your land. This topic is explored in great detail in the Ranting Panda articles:
Killing Palestinians in the name of God, is not what the bible teaches.



People who defend Israel's right to murder innocent people, really should ask themselves what they would do if they were forced to endure the same treatment that Palestinians have been forced to endure. Earlier I proposed a Gaza-like treatment on Melbourne and a West Bank-like treatment of Sydney. Australians would not tolerate this sort of treatment, so why should Palestinians?

To shut down any debate, Israel will label all criticism of its actions as anti-Semitism. Telling a criminal that they are a criminal does not make one a racist. The United Nations has just announced an investigation into allegations of human rights abuses by Israel in Gaza - much to Israel's criticism(20). Israel must be held to account for their crimes and it is high-time that Israel faced the International Criminal Court.


References

1. Haaretz, Zafrir Rinat, 21 January 2018, Ninety-seven Percent of Gaza Drinking Water Contaminated by Sewage, Salt, Expert Warns, https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/palestinians/.premium-expert-warns-97-of-gaza-drinking-water-contaminated-by-sewage-salt-1.5747876. Accessed 18 May 2018.

2. The Jerusalem Post, 31 January 2009, 'Israel restricting Gaza Aid deliveries', https://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Israel-restricting-Gaza-aid-deliveries. Accessed 19 May 2018.

3. Reuters, Magdalena Mis, 9 July 2015, Israeli blockade makes Gaza recovery 'impossible': aid agencyhttps://www.reuters.com/article/us-gaza-recovery-aid-idUSKCN0PI1XJ20150708. Accessed 19 May 2018.

4. Human Rights Watch, 2 April 2017, Unwilling or Unable: Israeli Restrictions on Access to and from Gaza for Human Rights Workers, https://www.hrw.org/report/2017/04/02/unwilling-or-unable/israeli-restrictions-access-and-gaza-human-rights-workers. Accessed 19 May 2018.

5. The Guardian, Nafeez Ahmed, 10 July 2014, IDF's Gaza assault is to control  Palestinian gas, avert Israeli energy crisishttps://www.theguardian.com/environment/earth-insight/2014/jul/09/israel-war-gaza-palestine-natural-gas-energy-crisis. Accessed 20 May 2018.

6. Time, Jack Linshi, 6 September 2015, Gaza Could Become 'Uninhabitable' by 2020, U.N. Report Warns, http://time.com/4019509/gaza-uninhabitable-unctad/. Accessed 20 May 2018.

7. United States of America, Office of the Historian, Creation of Israel, 1948https://history.state.gov/milestones/1945-1952/creation-israel. Accessed 19 May 2018.

8. The Independent, Mythili Sampathkumar, 21 December 2017, UN Jerusalem vote: General Assembly rules against US, declaring recognition of Israel capital 'null and void'https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/un-jerusalem-trump-vote-result-decision-general-assembly-null-void-a8123106.html. Accessed 18 May 2018.

9. Human Rights Watch, 25 March 2009, Israel: White Phosphorus Use Evidence of War Crimes - Indiscriminate attacks Caused Needless Civilian Suffering,  https://www.hrw.org/news/2009/03/25/israel-white-phosphorus-use-evidence-war-crimes. Accessed 19 May 2018.

10. Foreign Policy Journal, Jeremy R. Hammond, 3 May 2013, Israel's Illegal use of White Phosphorus During 'Operation Cast Lead', https://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2013/05/03/israels-illegal-use-of-white-phosphorus-during-operation-cast-lead/. Accessed 19 May 2018.

11. The Guardian, Harriet Sherwood, 20 July 2014, Israel using flechette shells in Gazahttps://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/20/israel-using-flechette-shells-in-gaza. Accessed 19 May 2018.

12. Al Jazeera, Kiss Your Mother Goodbye, https://webapps.aljazeera.net/aje/custom/2014/prisonerday/palestinian-youth.html. Accessed 19 May 2018.

13. Mondialisation.ca, Jonathan Cook, 26 April 2016, Rise In Palestinian Children Arrested, Tortured and Held in Israeli Jails,  https://www.mondialisation.ca/rise-in-palestinian-children-arrested-tortured-and-held-in-israeli-jails/5521656. Accessed 19 May 2018.

14. The Free Thought Project, Rachel Blevins, 14 May 2018, If Any Other Country Was Shooting Civilians Like Israel, the US Would've Invaded By Nowhttps://thefreethoughtproject.com/country-shooting-civilians-like-israel-us-would-invade/. Accessed 18 May 2018.

15. Think Progress, Adrienne Mahsa Varkiani, 15 Ma 2018, Nikki Haley walks out of U.N. Security Council meeting as Palestinian envoy begins to speakhttps://thefreethoughtproject.com/country-shooting-civilians-like-israel-us-would-invade/. Accessed 18 May 2018.

16. Haaretz, Gideon Levy, 17 May 2018, 60 Dead in Gaza and the End of Israeli Consciencehttps://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-60-dead-in-gaza-and-the-end-of-israeli-conscience-1.6095178. Accessed 18 May 2018.

17. United Nations, 23 December 2016, Israel's Settlements Have No Legal Validity, Constitute Flagrant Violation of international Law, Security Council Reaffirmshttps://www.un.org/press/en/2016/sc12657.doc.htm. Accessed 19 May 2018.

18. Brookings Institute, Ibrahim Fraihat, 11 July 2014, Palestine's Right to Defend Itselfhttps://www.brookings.edu/opinions/palestines-right-to-defend-itself/. Accessed 19 May 2018.

19. United Nations Human Rights, Office of the High Commissioner, Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocidehttp://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CrimeOfGenocide.aspx. Accessed 19 May 2018.

20. Reuters, Tom Miles, 18 May 2018, U.N. sets up human rights probe into Gaza killings, to Israel's furyhttps://www.reuters.com/article/us-israel-palestinians-un/u-n-sets-up-human-rights-probe-into-gaza-killings-to-israels-fury-idUSKCN1IJ0UU. Accessed 19 May 2018.

Updated: 20 May 2018.



Saturday, May 12, 2018

Budgeting on a wing and a prayer: economically erroneous Budget 2018 built on shifting sands of international economic vagaries

Budgeting on a wing and a prayer: economically erroneous Budget 2018 built on shifting sands of international economic vagaries

There must be an election in the air. The Liberal Party is unleashing their usual policies of fear and blame. Dutton gives a press conference on 8 May 2018, regarding the intercept of a large boat smuggling people to Australia or New Zealand, and guess what? It's all Labor's fault and claims that on a daily basis Border Security is dealing with people smuggling issues. Funnily enough, seconds later, Air Vice Marshall Stephen Osborne, Border Force Commander, states it's been almost four years without incident. Dutton can't even get his story straight. Sigh ...

So with an election to be called later this year, or early 2019 at the latest, the Liberal Party has opened the John Howard textbook on how to run an election campaign: Fear, Blame & Bribery. The bribery is coming in the way of corporate and personal tax cuts that will be rolled out over the next ten years as announced in their Budget speech on 8 May 2018.

This has comparisons to Howard and Costello (who lost government in 2007) unleashing a raft of structural tax changes that provided middle class welfare and committed successive governments to significant expenditure as follows(1):

1. Permanent income tax cuts, costing $37.6 billion in 2011-12

2. Capital Gains Tax discount, costing $5.8 billion in 2014-15

3. Removed Fuel Tax indexation, costing $5.5 billion in 2009-10

4. Superannuation tax cuts, costing $2.5 billion in 2009-10.

5. Converting 'franking credits' into cash refunds for shareholders, costing $4.6 billion in 2012-13. This is calculated based on the shareholder's tax obligation compared to the tax already by the company who they have shares in. Interestingly, Labor proposed removing this benefit for people who pay no tax, such as pensioners. This would have saved the government $8 billion over five years. Yet, Liberal Party waged another fear campaign and accused Labor of attacking pensioners. Labor's proposal made sense. Why should someone who has no tax obligation get a tax benefit. This is not an attack on pensioners, it is actually providing fairness for all pensioners because those who have no shares do not get this benefit. If the Liberal Party is so concerned about this being an attack on pensioners, they would be better to follow Labor's suggestion and then use the $8 billion saving to increase the pension so all pensioners benefit.

Howard is often seen by conservative voters as being economically responsible based on the fact that he left office with net financial assets, i.e. negative debt, after inheriting $96 billion in debt from the previous Labor government when he became prime minister in 1996. Funnily enough, this $96 billion of debt comprised of almost $40 billion that Labor inherited from the previous Liberal Party government in 1983, when John Howard was Treasurer. By 2007, Howard achieved negative debt, not by good fiscal management, but by selling government assets for $72 billion(2) to cover his excessive expenditure. The International Monetary Fund declared the Howard government to be the most profligate government in 50 years. Unfortunately, thanks to right-wing bias and poor economic analysis reported in the media, Howard is hailed as an economic genius. He was an economic moron who blew mining boom and sold off the farm to cover his wasteful spending.

A 2008 Treasury report showed that between 2004 and 2007, $334 billion was added to the economy as a result of the mining boom and economic growth. So Howard and Costello, showing questionable economic judgement, spent 94% of it through tax cuts and other concessions. To help cover this, these two economic illiterates then sold off assets for $72 billion. At the time of Howard being ousted, Australia's surplus was just 7.3% of GDP.(3) Australia is now in deficit, and has been for since 2009, hardly warranting the tax cuts proposed by Turnbull and Morrison's 2018 budget.

And then the mining boom ended at the same time as the Global Financial Crisis hit. By this point, the Labor Party was in power. Thank God, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Treasurer Wayne Swan had the foresight to implement stimulus spending. Why did they do this? Well, the economic illiteracy of the Liberal Party called the stimulus reckless. However, it is basic economics. Because of the disastrous economic outlook with advanced economies across the globe diving into recession, businesses stopped spending and consumers stopped spending. Clearly the two have a bidirectional relationship. Without consumer spending, businesses lose money so stop investing and start axing jobs. With less investment and increased job losses, consumers tighten their belts even more. It would have been disastrous had the government also stopped spending. The economy would have ground to a halt and nose-dived into recession.

Rudd and Swan inherited little savings from Howard and Costello; there was little money left from the mining boom at a time when government spending was required to stimulate the economy. So they spent anyway. This was sound economic behaviour. It saved jobs, businesses and prevented Australia going into recession. One of the only developed nations that survived the GFC without recession. Of course, the Libs made much of Australia operating a deficit, however, deficits indicate economic stimulus because of government spending, which creates jobs and helps the economy grow. Surpluses, which the Libs seem to think is some sort of economic nirvana to be aimed for, indicate austerity, which costs jobs and slows the economy. There is a time for surplus and a time for deficit. The GFC was the time for deficit. Besides, if the Libs were so concerned about the deficit, they should have saved the mining boom revenue rather than blowing it like the prodigal son getting hold of his inheritance.

The Turnbull and Morrison budget for 2018-19 contains massive errors in judgement similar to Howard and Costello. At a time when there is economic growth, the government should be banking savings and paying down debt. Instead they are going to implement long-term structural tax changes based on short-term revenue improvements, which will commit future governments to unnecessary expenditure.

The Liberal Party claims that the budget is on track to deliver a surplus of $2.2 billion by 2019-20, and $11 billion by 2020-21(4). Meanwhile, Australia's current net debt is double what it was under Labor in 2013, when the Liberal Party took over government. The Liberal Party is claiming that the money they are saving is coming from increased revenue. They are making the same mistake that Howard did. Howard based his extravagant expenditure on the revenue from the mining boom. We all know how that ended. The mining boom went bust and Australia was stuck with structural expenditure changes in the way of tax cuts, superannuation benefits and family payments.



Yet where is the outrage over government debt? Where is the outrage that was reported on daily in the media during the Labor years following the GFC. If there was any doubt over right-wing bias in the media it surely is this lack of outrage in the Murdoch papers over doubling of the debt by the Liberal Party and its profligate 2018-19 budget. During Labor's term, the Liberal Party rabbited on about debt and deficit being out of control. Yet here we are: debt double what it was under Labor, and Morrison spruiking that the economy is so good that we can just lock in tax reform and spend like drunken sailors based on temporary revenue increases and at a point in the economic cycle when stimulus is less required than it was during the GFC.

Morrison's idea that the economy is growing is based on temporary gains driven by commodity prices  and job creation caused by a temporary improvement in Australia's Balance of Trade data (i.e. value of imports versus exports). In March 2018, Australia recorded a trade surplus. That is we exported more than we imported. To show how volatile this is, Australia recorded a trade deficit only a few months prior, and a number of previous surpluses a fraction of what it currently is(5).




The recent trade surplus has resulted in a forecasted $7 billion in additional corporate tax revenue for 2017-18 and another $7.2 billion in 2018-19(6). However, the Balance of Trade is driven by external factors that the government does not control, namely international economic behaviour, demand for Australian exports and commodity prices. This means that the government cannot rely on these increased corporate tax revenues to lock in structural tax cuts. International economic conditions can change overnight.

Morrison has stated that tax will be no more than 23.9% of GDP. This does not allow for government expenditure, it merely locks in revenue to this magical number and anything above that is returned to the tax-payer. As GDP can be affected by commodity prices, is Morrison suggesting that tax will bob up and down like a rubber ducky in a bath-tub every time there is a change in GDP? And subsequently, will expenditure also bounce around like a duck in a mud puddle.

Everyone loves to have more money in their pockets and given the stagnation of Australian wages, Morrison admits that the tax cuts are to compensate for flat wages growth(7). Of course, he could have helped thousands of Australian wages by maintaining Sunday penalty rates. The budget does include investment in infrastructure. While there is some criticism of the projects being targeted, infrastructure investment is necessary given Australia's growing population. Morrison believes the tax cuts will help stimulate the economy, however, as this will lock in government commitment to years of expenditure, it would be better for expenditure to be in projects that create jobs. For instance, unemployment in Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales is still sitting between four and 6 per cent despite improvements in employment. Meanwhile, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia continue to experience unemployment rates of six per cent and above.


The 2018-19 budget is nothing more than a cash-splash to earn votes, however, while it is pitched at low and middle-income workers, it actually benefits high-income earners the most. The tax benefits are in three stages:

  • Stage 1 - workers earning between $20,200 and $125,000 to receive temporary benefits of between $200 and $530 per annum through the Low Income Tax Offset (LITO). 
  • Stage 2 - In 2018-19, increase the 32.5% tax bracket from $87,500 to $90,000, and then to $120,000. In 2022-23, the LITO payments from Stage 1 will end.
  • Stage 3 - In 2024-25, the 32.5% tax bracket is lifted to $200,000, with the 37% bracket removed altogether. 

The government is marketing this as a benefit for low and middle-income earners, however, by 2027-28, a worker earning $120,000 per annum will have an average tax rate of 29%, which is what they pay today. Meanwhile, a tax-payer on $36,000 will see their average tax rate rise from 10% to 16%(8).

Corporate tax cuts will cost $65 billion and Morrison is relying on the naivete of voters when he claims that this money will trickle down in the form of wages growth. However, even Treasury officials admit corporate tax cuts will add less than one per cent to wages. In other words, only $750 per annum based on the average annual wage(9).

This budget is nothing more than pork-barreling, wishful thinking, subterfuge and crystal ball predictions in which its real tax impacts won't kick in for at least two electoral cycles. It is a budget with promises that extend ten years into the future while being heavily reliant on a cash boost that has occurred only in the last few months and is unlikely to continue into the long-term. It uses the same failed old policies of conservative governments of yore. Trickle-down economics has worked nowhere in the world. Howard's flagrant spending nearly ruined the economy when the GFC hit, and Turnbull and Morrison have made the same mistake again.

Immediately following the release of Budget 2018, ratings agency Standards & Poor released its economic outlook for Australia. While it stated that Australia currently retains its AAA credit rating, it stated that 'risks to the government's plan for an earlier return to budget surpluses are significant. The outlook on the long-term Australian sovereign ratings remains negative for now to reflect these uncertainties'(10).

The following morning, Prime Minister Turnbull was questioned about this by Fran Kelly on ABC Radio National. Turnbull didn't just refuse to discuss the negative outlook, he actively ignored it and carried on like a school-kid as he taunted Kelly with the AAA rating. Rather than acknowledge the risk identified by S&P, he declared the biggest risk was Labor ... showing the complete denial and delusion of the Liberal Party in economic risk mitigation and forecasting, just as Howard did. Furthermore, he refused to provide year on year costings beyond the forward estimates, yet demands that Labor supports the total package of $140 billion on the basis of a few months of revenue from increased international demand for Australian exports.(11)

While the Liberals paint themselves as mature and responsible economic managers, Treasurer Scott Morrison resorted to childish, churlish, puerile insults that made fun of Bill Shorten's name. Yep, good ol' school-yard teasing from the party that portrays itself as the 'grown-ups'. The best that Morrison could come up with was 'unbelieva-Bill'. He even repeated it four times case people didn't notice how clever his play on Bill's name was. It's not a very intelligent insult.



Perhaps Morrison should take some tips off former Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating, who really knew how to throw an insult. Who can forget Keating's colourful description of Liberal Treasurer Peter Costello as being 'all tip, no iceberg'. (Costello, by the by, was Howard's Treasurer and architect of the structural tax changes that greatly contributed to the current deficit). Speaking of Howard, another of Keating's witty insults declared of Howard, 'the little desiccated coconut's under pressure'. But my personal favourite was his description of former Liberal leader, John Hewson, who Keating stated, '... is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up'.

Morrison's pathetic little insult was in relation to Bill Shorten's Budget Reply speech. Shorten promised that Labor would double the LITO to $928 per annum for people earning less than $120,000, while increasing expenditure to education and health. Morrison went on the attack saying that Labor was spending double what the Libs were so therefore Labor couldn't afford it. Morrison clearly doesn't comprehend the big picture. Shorten wasn't doubling Liberal expenditure. He mentioned that Labor would cap the reduced corporate tax to businesses earning less than $2 million, unlike Liberal's providing it to all businesses. Additionally, Labor is going to reform Capital Gains Tax, tax minimisation through family trusts, negative gearing and franked credits imputations, all of which would save around $80 billion.

Shorten has offered one of the most progressive tax reforms in decades. It is vastly superior to that of the Liberal government's budget, which favours the rich and is built on the shifting sands of international economic fluctuations. Australians have a choice between Labor's intelligent tax reform based on economic competency with a history of successfully navigating global economic collapses or the Liberal Party's economic fairy dust based on wishful thinking that the global economy will continue improving and demanding Australian products. What happens to the Liberal Party's budget forecasts when international demand decreases?

At least Budget 2018 provides increased funding for school chaplains ... if Morrison's budget gets up, it will need all the wings and prayers it can get!

References

1. The Guardian, Richard Denniss, 15 April 2015, Peter Costello's five most 'profligate' decisions as treasurer cost the budget $56bn a year, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/apr/15/peter-costellos-five-most-profligate-decisions-as-treasurer-cost-the-budget-56bn-a-year. Accessed 8 May 2018.

2. Market Economics, 25 June 2012, More facts Behind the Howard Government's Debt Elimination. http://www.marketeconomics.com.au/2095-more-facts-behind-the-howard-governments-debt-elimination. Accessed 7 May 2018.

3. The Independent, Alan Austin, 3 September 2013, We really must talk about the Howard and Costello economic disaster, https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/we-really-must-talk-about-the-howard-and-costello-economic-disaster,5686. Accessed 8 May 2018.

4. ABC, Louise Yaxley, 8 May 2018, Budget 2018: Morrison gives tax system a shake-up in pre-election plan aimed at low-income earnershttp://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-05-08/budget-2018-unveiled-by-scott-morrison/9703460. Accessed 8 May 2018.

5. Trading Economics, Australia Balance of Trade (March 2018), https://tradingeconomics.com/australia/balance-of-trade. Accessed 7 May 2018.

6. The Guardian, Gareth Hutchins, 30 April 2018, Federal budget $7bn better than forecast as 'rivers of gold' flow, Deloitte predictshttps://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/apr/30/federal-budget-7bn-better-than-forecast-as-rivers-of-gold-flow-deloitte-predicts. Accessed 7 May 2018.

7. Australian Financial Review, Phillip Coorey & Jacob Greber, 4 May 2018, Tax cuts to compensate for flat wages growth: Scott Morrisonhttp://www.afr.com/news/tax-cuts-to-compensate-for-flat-wages-growth-scott-morrison-20180503-h0zmfr. Accessed 7 May 2018.

8. ABC News, John Daley and Danielle Wood, 11 May 2018, The Coalition's tax plan favours the rich and doesn't solve bracket creep for middle-income earnershttp://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-05-11/the-coalitions-tax-plan-favours-the-rich/9748796. Accessed 12 May 2018.

9. The Guardian, Gareth Hutchins, 28 February 2018, Company tax cuts would boost wages by just $750 over time - Treasury secretaryhttps://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/feb/28/company-tax-cuts-would-boost-wages-by-just-750-over-time-treasury-secretary. Accessed 8 May 2018.

10. Business Insider Australia, David Scutt, 8 May 2018, Standards and Poor's still has a negative outlook on Australia's AAA credit rating', https://www.businessinsider.com.au/standard-and-poors-australia-aaa-credit-rating-federal-budget-2018-5. Accessed 12 May 2018.

11. ABC Radio National, Breakfast, Fran Kelly, 9 May 2018, Budget tax cuts a 'long-term' plan, Turnbull says, http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/breakfast/budget-tax-cuts-a-long-term-plan-turnbull-says/9741856. Accessed 9 May 2018.



Saturday, May 5, 2018

If Trump is nominated for Nobel Peace Prize, so should Kim Jong Un

If Trump is nominated for Nobel Peace Prize, so should Kim Jong Un



The Donald Trump presidency has been one debacle after another. Although, to be fair to the Trumpster, it has been a laugh a minute. First of course, is the mirth one gets from watching the blatant hypocrisy oozing from the pores of his die-hard supporters. You know the ones! They were screeching about 'crooked' Hilary's use of a private email server, they were the ones apoplectic when Bill Clinton dared to get blown by a white-house intern. They are now the ones who don't give a rat's arse that Trump is neck-deep in a scandal that could amount to treason if it's proven he collaborated with Russia to win the election.  They are the ones who don't care that he tried to subvert a Special Counsel investigation into Trump's 2016 election campaign and its possible links to Russia.They are now the ones who don't give a rat's arse that Trump was balls-deep in a porn star AND that he lied about it AND that he paid her to keep it quiet AND that he lied about paying her to keep it quiet. They are ones who quite often claim to be god-fearing 'christians'! Oh ... which reminds me ... Trump finally admits to paying off Stormy Daniels (afore-mentioned porn star) and then heads off to lead National Prayer Day! I know, I know ... stop it or you're guts will burst from laughing. But wait, there's more. Trump promises to nuke North Korea and then the Republicans want to nominate him for a Nobel Peace Prize! I'm not even joking. Trump supporters have taken hypocrisy and completely knocked it out of the park. In his first 466 days in office, Trump has told 3001 lies! That's 6.5 lies per day.(1) Pretty damn good for someone 'christians' claim was sent by god to save them from the godless Barack Obama.

 I'm reminded of the sage words of Jim Jefferies, a comedian who was marveling over what brought America to the point where Donald Trump was running for the highest office in the land. Jefferies, in all his ponderings and criticism of the Donald, offered an alternative view by describing how much fun it could be if America was to elect Trump, 'There's a little bit of me that thinks "fuck it, let's do it ... let's do it and see how fucking crazy shit can get" '.

And crazy it has got. Trump's late night tweets have kept us all amused with their idiotic ramblings and making policy on the fly. One could write a book of all the dumb-ass tweets and lies by Trump. No doubt, there will be quite a few over the coming years. One of Trump's typical exaggerations which highlight his insecurities and inadequacies, was a tweet in which he stated, 'we have signed more legislation than anybody. We broke the record of Harry Truman'. Politifact, a fact-checking service, declared that not only was this false, but Trump 'ranks last, actually'.(2)

Anyhoo ... during the election campaign, Trump and another presidential-wanna-be, Marco Rubio, argued over the size of Trump's hands. Rubio argued that Trump's smaller than average hands meant other parts of him were smaller than normal. Trump responded by saying, 'Look at those hands. Are these small hands? And … if they're small, something else must be small. I guarantee you there's no problem'.(3) Yep, two wanna-be presidents arguing over the size of their doodles.

Was it any wonder then, that Trump got into a dick-measuring contest with Kim Jung Un, ruler of the hermit kingdom, North Korea. While Kim Jung Un and Trump threatened to nuke each other, Trump grandiosely declared that his nuclear button was bigger than Kim Jung Un's nuclear button. Trump is so insecure about his dick that he is willing to start a nuclear war while comparing it to the imaginary size of puny penis. Apparently, unleashing a nuclear holocaust is a joke to the brain-dead Trump. In response, Jim Himes, member of the House Intelligence Committee, stated the blindingly obvious when he said, 'as everybody who’s ever been in a, you know, first grade playground recognizes, it’s usually the person who’s most aggressively pounding their chest that is in fact the weak one on the playground'. Eliot Cohen, a counsellor in the George W. Bush administration, described Trump's behaviour as a 'petulant ten year old ... but one with nuclear weapons'(4)

Trump's contribution to the discussion on nuclear weapons consists of long, rambling and largely incoherent statements. There was this classic:

'You know what uranium is, right? It’s this thing called nuclear weapons. And other things. Like lots of things are done with uranium. Including some bad things'.(5)

And then there was this 90 second long sentence which apparently was meant to discuss nuclear weapons, but your guess is as good as mine as to what the hell he is speaking about(6).



Yes, those are genuine comments by the leader of the free world. And right-wing snowflakes wonder why we criticise Trump's IQ ... an IQ that would appear to be as small as Donald's little vagina miner ... oh, what the hell, let's call it Donald Dick. Is there anything more disturbing than the man in charge of the world's largest nuclear arsenal, using it to cover up his penis-anxiety? By the by, given Trump's penchant for cheating on his wives, boning porn stars and allegedly being pissed on by Russian prostitutes, it seems little Donald Dick rambles around as much as big Dicktator Donald's statements on nuclear weapons.

While Trump was trying to hide his apparently small dong behind a large arsenal of nuclear weapons, Kim Jung Un and South Korea were talking peace. Un had suggested cross-border talks with South Korea in an effort to bring peace to the peninsula and that North Korea might participate in the winter Olympics being held in South Korea.

AND then, Kim Jong Un requested a meeting with Donald Trump! Trump accepted.

So now the Republicans want to nominate Trump for a Nobel Peace Prize!



Kim Jong Un has been the bigger man and sought peace. Trump has merely fired off outrageous, egocentric and ego-stroking tweets. In a visit to South Korea in 2017, Trump told North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons while also deriding South Korea's 'talk of appeasement'. Trump has hardly been forthcoming in the peace process.

Kim Jong Un, the man who most people thought was a deadset nutter ... and who knows, he may well be ... has shown himself to be more sane and more sensible than Donald Trump, by seeking peace with South Korea and the United States. It wasn't Trump who sought the peace talks. Trump perpetuated and expanded the trade embargoes that had been in place for years, while threatening to unleash 'fire and fury' on North Korea.

Perhaps Trump's extreme actions against North Korea influenced Kim Jong Un's willingness to seek peace talks ... or perhaps Kim Jong Un realised he was dealing with someone who was crazier than him. It seems odd to nominate someone for a Nobel Peace Prize when they have been threatening nuclear war, fire and fury, and total destruction of a country.

Either way, if Trump is nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, then so should Kim Jong Un.

It takes two to tango, and Kim Jong Un has shown himself more willing to seek peace through meetings, than Trump threatening nuclear holocaust through tweetings.


References

1. New York Times, Peter Baker, 3 May 2018, New Revelations Suggest a President Losing Control of His Narrative, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/03/us/politics/trump-revelations-narrative.html. Accessed 5 May 2018.

2. Politifact, All False Statements Involving Donald Trump, http://www.politifact.com/personalities/donald-trump/statements/byruling/false/. Accessed 5 May 2018.

3. CBC News, 4 March 2016, Trump assures America his normal-sized hands means he has normal-sized 'something else'http://www.cbc.ca/news/trending/trump-hands-genitals-1.3475752. Accessed 5 May 2018.

4. New York Times, Peter Baker and Michael Tackett, 2 January 2018, Trump Says His 'Nuclear Button' Is Bigger Than North Korea'shttps://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/02/us/politics/trump-tweet-north-korea.html. Accessed 5 May 2018.

5. Vox, Jeff Stein, 16 February 2017, 9 things it's hard to believe the President of the United States actually just saidhttps://www.vox.com/2017/2/16/14640772/president-trump-quotes-presser. Accessed 6 May 2018.

6. Snopes, David Mikkelson, updated 12 December 2017, Donald Trump's nuclear speechhttps://www.snopes.com/fact-check/donald-trump-sentence/. Accessed 6 May 2018.