Dr Peter White's Blog

Thoughts and comments from Dr Peter White -- political, philosophical, spiritual, musical and more

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Location: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

I am retired from the Uni. of Queensland, and have numerous interests inside and outside of the uni. I play classical, bluegrass, country and folk guitar (hows that for a mix?) I am a member of the Australian Labor Party and am currently branch secretary of the Mt Coot-tha branch. I'm also involved in developing virtual reality builds and websites. Never bored!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Time for a change?

Well, it didn't take too long for the Coalition to sink to the bottom, did it?  The positive messages of "Jobs and Growth" seem to have sunk without trace.  And they opened up Mr Abbott's box of tricks and found:  greed, fear, and blatant racism. 

The greed card was played in the budget, the fear card has been played with the "strong borders" mantra, and the racism card, which lurked under both the former, is now being played as a sort of trump.  (Gawd, should that be capitalised?)  The Coalition is pleased to bring you Greed, Fear and Racism as their new three word slogan. 

Of course, it will be spun much more neatly than that by the masters of verbal prestidigitation who are paid vast sums to keep the princes of industry and their hangers-on safe from the masses.  The words will certainly change; the messages will not. 

In the meantime, no new policies have been announced by the caretaker government.  It's now on full attack mode against Labor, who has not only been leading the policy debate, but in fact set the whole agenda.  Is it panic stations for the Coalition, or are they just reverting to form?  As the late, great Sir Terry Pratchett wrote: "Can a leopard change its shorts?" 

We have another 6 weeks to go in the campaign.  Watch for more dirty tricks and subtle assassinations by the Coalition henchpeople.  The latest is the raiding of a Labor senator's office by the AFP seeking evidence of leaks against the NBN.  The caretaker government has said "It weren't us; purely a police matter".  Could be.  But one might ask, who put up the NBN executives up to it?  Does anyone smell something of rodent? 

But wait, folks.  There will be more. 

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Why do neocons want to govern?

It almost seems to be a total paradox that neocons want so badly to govern.  After all, if they followed their own philosophy they would shrink governance to only defence and policing, which would be, of course, to protect and defend their families and assets. 

The rest of the population would be mere minions to the "betters", i.e. those who had the fortune(!) of being born from wealthy parents.  The minions would look after themselves of course, because they have to rise above their station through thrift, hard work and moral righteousness.  And perhaps their children and/or grandchildren might be blessed with approval and become a "better". 

Schools?  Well, excellent for the well to do families; ordinary to none for the minions.  After all, who needs anything other than basic literacy and numeracy skills when serving in a casual position at the servery or cleaning up the betters' homes. 

The Marie Antoinette syndrome ("Let them eat cake") is alive and well and is invading our shores along with the neocon (or economic rationalist) belief structure.  Dress this up as you will, but it still is a structure that basically is one believed by the "rentiers"; take the money and run.  And best to put it all off-shore where one doesn't need to pay any of those nefarious taxes.  All perfectly legit of course.  And why not?  Guess who made up the rules? 

The more I see and hear of our conservative politicians, be they hard right or less so, what I have written above seems to define their whole approach.  And being well off, they can afford to pay very expensive publicity experts (aka spin doctors) to sell their messages to the minion masses. 

So.  Climate change, the most basic challenge of our age, is "not settled yet", or paid lip service to with a pittance of funding while the major polluters are paid not to do that.  Whimsically telling the fox "Now, don't eat those chickens and we'll pay you in steak".  And the fox says "Yes boss", and carries on.  Chicken plus steak.  Yum.  Mind you, the polluters are in fact the "betters".  Nice work if you can get it. 

Education?  As mentioned.  Give out enough to shut everyone up but not enough to really skill the young to take on the essential work of the near future. 

Health?  Pay as you die. 

Aged care?  You should have saved up for this.  Shame on you. 

Child care?  Pay the providers who then charge what the traffic will bear.  This is agile and innovative. 

Vocational education?  To the private providers who obviously can to a much better job -- of taking the money, going bankrupt and shipping themselves and the money elsewhere.  But hey, that's just biz. 

Higher education?  Make sure the betters' kids can get a good degree and the rest can struggle, or sell our university places to well to to offshore students while ours battle for survival. 

Fairness?  Equal chance?  For the mugs, mate. 

And on and on and on. 

Until it comes to the break point where the country shatters. 

Have fun. 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

We need another "anonymous" organisation

Hearing about the Panama papers revelations, the banking scandals around Australia, and indeed around the globe, has prompted me to come up with a sort of self help solution.

You are familiar, most likely, with Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and so forth.  I thought it would be a wonderful idea to come with "Greedy Bastards Anonymous."  Just picture it.  It's evening, a hall somewhere filling up with people disembarking from their expensive marques, bedecked in expensive suits and dresses, filing quietly into said hall.

The moderator starts off, and the first person stands up and says "I'm John*, and I'm a greedy bastard".  The rest of the crowd then hears of John's experiences in ripping off unsuspecting customers, rorting the financial systems, or whatever, and hangs his head after speaking...

Ah, but wait!  This approach won't work, alas.  It is rather more like a "Get Rich My Way" seminar.  All the participants will be taking notes on how, they too, will be able to manipulate the system to get that "little bit more".  John won't be feeling guilty and hanging his head.  No! He will be beaming as he watches the participants hanging on his every word.

Well, it was a thought.

Interestingly, Australia's annual national budget is coming up soon.  In preparing for this, the current government headed by one extremely wealthy Malcolm Turnbull has disregarded all the sensible ideas about trying to amend the tax system to make it more fair and balanced, has only managed to hit on the concept that by reducing company tax (Yes!  reducing!)  will boost the economy and all the workers will benefit by this largess.

Quick, duck!  Flying pigs are coming in by the squadrons.

Who will benefit?  The members of the GBA of course.  All will be well.

*Not his real name... 

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Adani, jobs, and the environment

Over this past weekend, the Queensland government announced that Mr Adani has received approval for his Galilee Basin coal leases.  Needless to say, this move has enraged most environmentalists and a good section of the ALP itself. 

The rationale for this reminds me of an old Wizard of Id cartoon.  The king is on the throne, and the lackey runs in and says: "Sire, the monsters of the moat are starving!"

A short while later, the Duke comes in and announces "Sire!  The peasants are revolting!" 

The king says, "I think I've found a solution to both problems." 

Now picture this.  There is a serious shortage of work in north and central Queensland.  The Adani mines and the infrastructure surrounding these will require a massive amount of work and capital to realise their potential.  This solves the problems, yes?  Mine goes ahead, unemployment drops significantly in NQ.  Problem solved. 


This is old thinking.  There is the over-arching issue of global warming which is a solidly proven fact.  Further, coal is the most culpable culprit in the impending environmental disaster.  So why in heaven are we allowing new thermal coal mines to proceed? 

Why not, instead, look at what other sorts of work could be done to alleviate unemployment in regional Queensland?  Infrastructure work comes to mind.  Commentators, economists, political pundits and people in regional communities are all concerned about the lack of new infrastructure.  Queensland, in particular, is a big state with a dispersed population that cries out for work to be done in these areas.  First, how about doubling the rail line to Cairns?  Second, getting the Bruce Highway to at least late 20th century standard and doubling that?  Third, setting up programs for reforestation and sustainable agriculture.  Fourth, work with the NBN and telcos to boost bandwidth to regional hubs.  Fifth, using State bonds and other fund raising implements to raise the capital to start these projects.  These are just for starters

And as to the protection of our Great Barrier Reef, which is not only a Queensland, or an Australian treasure -- it is a world treasure.  To do anything further that damages this precious resource might be considered economic vandalism, which will do the State's reputation no good whatsoever.  This in turn will reduce interest in investment and a reduction in tourism -- a powerful industry in the Reef area.  

There is the matter of timing, too.  Can we think longer than a term of government?  Can we look at how, in the first instance, we can attract businesses to regional areas?  Can we offer incentives to business and venture capitalists to help develop -- in the most environmentally sustainable way -- regional cities and towns? 

Oh, the list goes on and on.  This piece is a sort of "cri de coeur" for our policy makers and political parties to look beyond coal and mines.  We are blessed with so much, and it would be a tragedy indeed if we were to lose the lot due to short term and half blind thinking leading  to short term and half blind decisions.   

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Socialism for the rich, capitalism for the poor

The government of no surprises and no cuts has shown itself to be mendacious, mean, poor spirited and beholden to the so-called "big end of town."  Why am I not surprised?  the Murdochracy wins again. 

Tell me again why cuts to education, health, pensions, welfare, the ABC, CSIRO and higher education benefit the country?  I'm rather at a loss to understand this.  Add to this fuel excise increases and a $7.00 co-payment to visit a GP and one wonders what we all did to so thoroughly be punished for being citizens. 

Howard's Battlers (remember them?) have become Abbot's Victims. 

I do wonder how an Australian family now budgets all the cuts.  Of course, if you want to have heaps more kids, the paid parental leave scheme will be of help.  But once the kids hit school age, you are up for it again.  And if you are driving 100km a day to and from work, I reckon the 4WD behemoths will be for sale all over the place and i30s and such will be all the rage. 

So welcome to the Liberal brave new world of capitalism for the poor, socialism for the rich. 

Oooh, I so love Big Brother. 

Friday, April 04, 2014

Is the LNP in Queensland born to lose?

I read this morning in the Brisbane Times (4/4/2014) that a recent poll shows that the current Queensland LNP (Liberal-National Party) is in big trouble.  They would have lost government if an election were to take place this weekend. 

That's best news I've heard all week. 

This mob is actually worse than their national counterparts in Canberra, which I discussed in the last blog.  BTW, nothing much changing in that arena, except things getting worse.  But I want to focus on the state government in this writing. 

It takes an enormous amount of skill(?) to manage to enrage:
     The medical profession
     The legal profession
     The judiciary
     Health workers
     The entire union movement

And all this in two years, not out.  The current fiasco is the insistence that doctors in public hospitals sign an individual contract which from my understanding, strips away almost all the rights of a professional employee.

The legal profession is up in arms over the draconian bikie legislation that is so poorly worded that any group of citizens could be caught up in it, depending on the will of the government.  Of course when this was brought to the attention to the government by the judiciary, they were properly slapped into their place.   

The accountants are irritated because they have been tainted with the very broad brush of some work done with bikie gangs and/or individuals. 

Health workers are outraged because of similar industrial legislation being foisted on them as the public hospital doctors.  Not quite the kids back in the mines, but no doubt this may be mooted. 

Teachers are pilloried more than usual from this mob and also their awards and pay rates are under threat.  This of course leads nicely into the full scale attack on the union movement at large.  A century or more of industrial wins for working people are under threat by the reactionary governments in Queensland supported fully by their peers in Canberra. 

So workers of Queensland, do unite!  If you are not in a union, join one, or start one.  Rest assured that your rights, conditions of employment and pay rates are all under threat on the state level and on the national level. 

The most recent snippet I read is that the government is now contemplating legislation to include organisations such as GetUp! under a secondary boycott bit of legislation.  So ordinary, caring citizens are now also under threat for daring to voice their opinions that may be contrary to the government's will. 

What all these threats mean is that the citizen has less power, the government and its rent-seeking backers rather more.  This is very bad for all of us.  A very famous political slogan of the early 1970s is due for resurrection:  It's Time! 

So, yes, join something to help combat this onerous LNP crew, whether it be a union, the ALP, GetUp, Avaaz, or a cause dear to your heart.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Are the inmates in charge of the asylum?

It's a trite header, I know, but I have the gravest fears that in the case of Oz, it's true at the moment.  To paraphrase another fine quote:  Never have so few done so much damage is such a short time as the current Australian Government.

Our human rights record is in tatters.  Mind  you, this was well underway prior to this mob's coming to power, but they have taken it to a new low.  When we have the likes of China lecturing us on human rights, one begins to seriously wonder what is happening here.

Our environmental record is in tatters.  The Flat Earthers are now calling the shots for our environmental policies, trumpeted loudly by the conservative illiterati who follow Their Master's Voice via Twitter and in the 60% of media owned by Mr Murdoch.  Breath now, or forever hold your breath.  At this rate China will soon be lecturing us on environmental policies.

Our education system is being shredded, headed by a shrill neo-con who seems to think that good schooling is for the well to do and the rest can be relegated to basic literacy (at best).  After all, it won't be long before there will be legislation allowing kids back into the mines.

Which segues nicely into the tattered area of industrial relations and the emergence of the so-called Green Army, filled with hapless souls who will be paid half wages with no other protections, doing work that is menial, no doubt being overseen by minions of the conservative ruling class.  We should all start learning chain gang songs, folks, 'cause that's what's coming.

And don't get me started on our economic policies, or lack thereof.  Rather, we are following the Gospel according to Maggie T.  and that intellectual giant of the right, Ronald Reagan.

We are now having a neo-con philosophical attack on our (no such thing as) society, being led by people who speak not in parables but in platiwaffle.  This is a nice new neologism which is a hybrid of platitude and waffle, which suits our politicos of the conservative persuasion to a T.

Enjoy your day folks, and be afraid, be very afraid.

PS  I'm still writing Furry Tales, but alas, politics has focused my attention recently.  So with any joy I'll have some stories soon, interspersed with the latest undertakings from the asylum.