Saturday, July 23, 2011

Another letter in the SMH

What do you think about this, published today?

Multimedia stance on monitoring minors
I can understand why some parents want to police their children's Facebook activities (''Facebook could become adults-only in Australia'', July 22). But would they also think it's OK to open their snail mail? Same principle.

Michael Gormly Woolloomooloo

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Journo's link endemic police corruption to bikies - but not to prohibition

The extraordinary lead story in today's Sydney Morning Herald details deep and ongoing leaks from key Victorian police in the pay of bikie gangs. The leaks have seriously compromised several high-level investigations.

The central role of prohibited drugs is mentioned only tangentially towards the end of the story, which stays firmly within the usual media mindset of not connecting the rot to that proverbial elephant in the room, not questioning prohibition itself.

The gangs have million of dollars at their disposal, most probably earned through drug dealing. In one attempted transaction alone the bikies reportedly tried to buy a $700,000 phone tapping device from the Middle East. The Herald reports:
Senior bikie figures have also been given information about the contents of one of the most secret documents held by a police force - a joint state and federal law enforcement organised-crime target list.
So it's clear that law enforcement in this country is rotten and a major source of the rot is illicit drugs. No matter how the authorities crack down on such corruption, the enforcers themselves remain vulnerable to the sweet allure of easy cash.

While prohibitionists go on about the harms of drugs, the harms of prohibition are far greater - not least because it fosters an international drug distribution network which ensures unregulated drugs are easily available to anyone who wants them, including under-aged teens.

Meanwhile the SMH continues its moronic verbatim reporting of some drug junk-science produced by Dr Wendy Swift from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre. The study recycles the myth that cannabis is a gateway drug but the story contained no opposing or expert comment. I'll look further into this but it looks to me as if the study proved only that people who like drugs, like drugs.

Nor does the story recognise that all the study subjects, under prohibition, appear to be able to get any drug they want... That would mean exiting the prohibition mindset. Result: The uncritical reader will have their belief in prohibition reinforced. It's brilliant propaganda (Yes I know I said it was moronic but that refers more to the idiots who reported and edited this tripe. The brilliance lies in the slick prohibitionist machine behind it and the ability of these researchers to produce results that guarantee more funding from a government which needs to justify its unjustifiable drug policies.)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Near carbon-copy echo in the room?

Just joking. Ian Verrender in the SMH today began his article on the carbon tax almost identically to my post from yesterday, writing:
Brace yourselves for the onslaught of the ideologues.
He presents some interesting points which confound climate-denier rhetoric. While deniers scream 'why should Australia go it alone?' Verrender points out that 32 other countries have similar schemes including all of Europe, which now wants to increase its 2050 carbon cuts to 95 percent and has started taxing all airlines that fly into Europe.

He concludes his story:
If you truly believe that the amount of crap we've pumped into the atmosphere during the past 200 years has had no impact on the environment, good luck getting the sand out of your ears when you finally extract your head...

A price - whether through a carbon tax or a trading scheme - minimises the heavy hand of government.

And there we have the ultimate irony. Both sides of Australian politics are committed to reducing carbon emissions. But in an odd twist, Labor is pushing for a market-based solution while the Coalition advocates government intervention. It's a funny old world.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Carbon tax will put the cat among the pigeons

Rupert Murdoch's screamers today - The Tele is totally negative
(they could have said 'What the tax will do for the planet') and
The Australian, which declared last year it would "destroy
The Greens", affirms the end of  Gillard's government. The lead headline
actually read: "Gillard's clean energy crusade", 'crusade' implying
an ideological folly. That's not news, it's propaganda.
Brace yourself for a propaganda battle now Australia has a firm carbon price, modest though it is. I think the package and its compensations go a long way to making a nonsense of the naysayers' predictions of economic disaster. Opposition leader Tony Abbott unsurprisingly declared war on it, urging TV viewers to join him in a campaign to stop it becoming law before it is due to kick in next July.

Personally I'm very happy about the $18,000 tax-free threshhold. It's a good progressive reform that helps every taxpayer but is of proportionately greater benefit to low income earners, unlike the Coalition version which always most-benefited the rich. It will also encourage people to get off welfare and into work as such a move will more likely offer an immediate increase in income.

The commentariat this morning predictably split into their ideological niches but I liked this story from two scientists in the SMH. It concludes with the following paragraphs which I think put it all into perspective:

Friday, July 01, 2011

Surprise surprise - Kings Cross residents like the nightlife

As reported in the SMH today:

The University of Western Sydney's City After Dark project found 88 per cent of residents in neighbourhoods such as Kings Cross and Darlinghurst said nightlife added to the appeal of their suburb, a view particularly strong among younger renters.
Fortunately even Clover Moore seems to have got the message that the local temperance union are a minority who simply moved into the wrong suburb, and pandering to them is a vote loser. Her rhetoric has changed from talking about "shocking evidence" of alcohol fuelled mayhem to a more balanced approach of fostering a diverse night time economy. Let's hope.

Now if I could only find a small bar where I could afford the drinks...