The Dog’s Bollocks

Truth is like a dog’s bollocks – pretty obvious if you care to look.

The Commercialisation of Childhood

Another triumph for de-regulated free-market capitalism. A must view for all those who believe that the pinnacle of human existence is an economy based on consumerism.

Consuming Kids: The Commercialisation Of Childhood

With virtually no government oversight or public outcry, the multi-billion dollar youth marketing industry in America has been able to use the latest advances in psychology, anthropology and neuroscience to transform American children into one of the most powerful and profitable consumer demographics in the world.

The irony is that moral crusaders like Tony Abbott support this very industry which is warping the psychological well-being of our children in ways that undermine the very values they desire to instill. Or maybe they’re just hypocrites.

Powerful and scary stuff. And you thought teachers were to blame!

Filed under: Big Picture, Economics, Education, Media,

Limits of Power

Background Briefing – 9 August 2009 – Limits of power

Retired colonel in the US army and historian of international relations, Professor Andrew Bacevich argues that the US should get out of Afghanistan.

I caught this on the way to the shop this evening. An entertaining and erudite lecture and discussion on US foreign policy from a rational conservative.

Filed under: Big Picture, History, Iraq

Keating & Costello, compare and contrast

Paul Keating is talking more economic sense than any of our current crop of pollies. He gets better with age.

Former prime minister and treasurer Paul Keating says fiscal stimulus is reaching its limits and even advanced nations are at risk of debt default if they continue to amass huge budget deficits and borrowings to rescue their economies.”There is a limit to what fiscal policy can do simply because there is a limit to fiscal policy,” Mr Keating told a Lowy Institute gathering in Sydney on Thursday.

ABC News – Top Stories – Breaking news from Australia and the world
Well worth a read and some great comments. From ArgusTufft:

Interesting the comment about Keating being a “neo-liberal” for in the true meaning of liberal this is the philosophy of the current Labor Govt and certainly was of Keating’s Govt.

The real problem is that our Aust Liberal Party has been not following “liberal” policies and philosophy for many decades, especially under Howard & Costello (& most certainly Abbott). They should really be named “The Tory Party” or “Conservatives” or “Imperialist Party” – something along those lines. But …

There is some hope under both Turnbull and to give him his due, the previous leader Brendan Nelson, that the Liberals could live up to their “Liberal” name further down the track. No hope for Joe Hockey however or Julie Bishop, they are tarred in indellible “Tory” paint.

Meanwhile, elsewhere on the planet, poor old Pete is still fighting the last war, back when he was the World’s Greatest Treasurer and Australia was the best little whorehouse in Texas.

Filed under: Big Picture, Economics, Politics, , ,

Why have we become so suspicious of kindness?


St Lawrence distributing alms: fresco by Fra Angelico (1447-1449) Photograph: /Corbis

This turned up on a couple of blogs last week and struck me as one of the freshest insights I’ve read in a while.

Kindness has gone out of fashion. In the age of the rampant free market and the selfish gene, compassion is seen as either narcissism or weakness. So why have we become so suspicious of one of our most basic – and pleasurable – human qualities, ask Adam Phillips and Barbara Taylor

Love thy neighbour: Why have we become so suspicious of kindness? | Books | The Guardian

Filed under: Big Picture,

OECD regulation call

OECD regulation call trumps Rudd

Filed under: Big Picture, Economics, , ,

The global economy needs global regulation

Only fools and faith-driven free-market ideologues accept the notion that banks and financial markets should be unfettered by regulation. We have accepted the ‘inevitability’ of a global economy, so it is reasonable and logical to have an efficient and effective global regulatory framework.

This is the enormous challenge facing the G20 summit. Of course, achieving such a framework will be the hard part, but hopefully we will see the recognition that an effective global regulatory framework is the way forward.

Filed under: Big Picture, Economics,

Free Market Fundamentalism

From The Age today:

“THE belief that markets tend towards equilibrium has given rise to policies which seek to give financial markets free rein; I call these policies market fundamentalism, and I contend that market fundamentalism is no better than Marxist dogma,” declares billionaire George Soros, in his book The New Paradigm for Financial Markets.

Part of the new paradigm, Mr Soros writes, is that “instead of always being right, financial markets are always wrong”. That is, investors and regulators are acting on an imperfect understanding of what is really happening in the market. Those imperfect understandings have paved the way for the current crisis.

Years ago, the rationale for the growth in new types of derivatives and credit swaps was that they would help spread or hedge against risks. Mr Soros dismisses the possibility.

“The idea that risk management can be left to the participants was an aberration,” Mr Soros writes. And only ideology, one as rigid and oversimplified as market fundamentalism, could support the notion that markets can self-regulate.

At the centre of our financial troubles is the mistaken belief that markets tend towards an equilibrium, an article of faith among free market economists.

Markets don’t tend towards equilibrium, Mr Soros writes. Instead they cannon from one unique historical event to the next. Market activity gets caught up in an initially self-reinforcing but eventually self-defeating process, which almost invariably leads to crises, he writes.

“Boom-bust processes arise out of a reflexive interaction between a prevailing trend and a prevailing misconception,” the billionaire philanthropist writes. He believes the “reflexivity” stems from the fact “people’s understanding is inherently imperfect because they are part of reality and a part cannot fully comprehend the whole”.

Another prevailing misconception is that the economics of markets are a science, he writes.

“In order to establish and protect the status of economics as a science, economists have gone to great lengths to eliminate reflexivity from their subject matter … it was a mistake to model economics on Newtonian physics.”

For markets and regulators, the certainty of economics has actually slowed effective responses to crises over the past three decades.

Ya think? Who would have imagined such heresy was possible even one year ago. How times change!

Love this quote “Another prevailing misconception is that the economics of markets are a science.” Judging by local freemarket enthusiasts I would have thought it was more a religious thing – God’s Natural Law.

Filed under: Big Picture, Economics, , ,

God is Green

Film-maker Mark Dowd travels the world to question religious leaders as to why faith, the greatest motivator of man, is doing so little to confront the devastating problem of climate change. He discovers that especially in the US systematic efforts by AGW campaigners are winning over many evangelical churches and their congregations, and such will campaigns will be instrumental in effecting climate change policies.

Skeptics and deniers will be outraged, and very, very afraid.

Filed under: Big Picture, Environment, Politics, ,

Bye Bye Bushites!

ABC Onine

ABC Onine

Praise the Lord and pass the whiskey! The election of Barrack Obama to President of the United States marks the end of the toxic neocon dream – we don’t react to reality – we create reality.  The Bush Administration has been the most grotesque in US history. The foxes had finally taken over the hen-house. It was bound to end in tears, and so it has. To use some Bushite vernacular – it has been the mother of all clusterfucks.

I cannot recall a single redeeming feature of the Bush Administration, let alone three. The littany of policy disasters is mind boggling both in extent and all-encompassing range. Begun by stealing the 2000 election, to the cronyism of putting Monsanto in charge of the EPA and Halliburton in charge of the administration. Deficit creating tax cuts for the uber-wealthy – the golden boys and girls of the ponzi financial schemes and scams. Two ill-advised and botched invasions which have done nothing but breed support for Al Q’aida and run up trillion dollar budget deficits. Hurricane Katrina. The failure to plan for energy efficiency, preferring instead to wage war on oil rich dictatorships under the guise of spreading democracy and liberation, all the while enriching the coffers of Halliburton and Bush’s oil cronies. The cultivation of Christian Fundamentalists within the Administration and lobby industry while undermining the fundamental principles of the US constitution in the name of an apocalyptic Never-Ending War on Terror.

All finished off with the mother of all financial distasters when the ponzi schemes collapsed – products of the great freemarket experiment allowing the proliferation of unregulated financial systems that no-one really understood. The undoing of which almost resulted in a global meltdown, narrowly averted only by massive injections of liquidity from the public purse.

No doubt the challenges facing the Obama administration are monumental and no doubt Obama will fall short of people’s expectations. But as one commentator put it, there has been a change in chemsitry – too subtle to measure on any grid, but with profound long term effect. I think he will have a steadying and restorative influence. He possesses a noble demeanour – a refreshing change from the arrogance, ignorance and ignominy of the last eight years.

Yet, at this moment, I welcome the death of the neocon fantasy. Game over. That creaking sound you hear is the prevailing paradigm from the time of Ronald Reagan shifting to a neo Keynesian era.

Nor do I shed tears for the Bushites and their local acolytes. Rupert Murdoch and his tame tabloid attack dogs, Howard and the Howardians, the obsequious punditariat and countless other spotted Herberts who looked the other way in return for prestige and easy money leached from the blood sweat and tears of world’s less fortunate.

Good riddance.

God bless America!

Filed under: Big Picture, Economics, Politics, , ,

Is Green the new Red, White and Blue?

Driving home on the Great Ocean Road this afternoon I heard a ripping conversation between Thomas Friedman and Philip Adams. Well worth a listen for a straight-shooting analysis of economics and the realities of survival in an overcrowded environment and our toxic addiction to growth that has lead to petro-authoritarianism. Friedman was highly amused by Adam’s reference to the USSA.

US author and columnist Thomas Freidman has won three Pulitzer prizes, his last book, The World Is Flat, was an international bestseller. In his new book he argues green politics has to be re-branded in the US, so that it is no longer the sole domain of liberals, but is something every red, white, and blue NASCAR Dad and Soccer Mom sees as patriotic and essential.

Thomas Friedman: Hot, Flat and Crowded – Late Night Live – 13 October 2008

Filed under: Big Picture, Economics, ,

The Dog’s Bollocks

What they say

The Dog's Bollocks: "Bollocks" is one of my favourite words, and this is now one of my favourite blogs and I've only been reading it for five minutes. – John Surname

This is the person who tried to analyse Hayek. This is actually a person who needs a shrink. – JC

Shut up slim. You’re an idiot.
Just you stay honest and keep that thinking cap on. – GMB

Insightful perspectives on politics and discussion of matters epistemological? I’m sold! - Bruce

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