22nd September 2004
- FEDERAL ELECTION -
An election was called on 31st August 2004. All seats in the
House of Representatives will be up for contest, and half of the Senate
seats will be contested. Each of our original six states will
select six senators, (new states will select two) and each will select a number of
representatives based on population. In Australia, the house of
Representatives elects the chief executive, called the "Prime
Minister". In the "Liberal Party" (which would be the Republicans
in the USA) the representatives appoint the PM and the PM appoints
cabinet who supervise the various executive departments, defense,
foreign affairs etc. In the "Labor Party" (= the Democrats) the
"Caucus" (which is a shadowy group of people, elected by party hacks)
chooses the PM and also chooses the cabinet.
The Liberal Party led by PM John Howard has been in power for three
terms, and looks set to either obtain a fourth term, or be the near
majority party with a couple of Independents holding the balance of
power. A parliamentary term is limited to three years, as
determined by our constitution. Our constitution can only be
changed by a referendum, wherein two thirds of eligible voters must
agree to the proposed change. Australian politicians have
expressed the wish on many occasions that the three years term should
be extended to four years. They believe that we the people of
Australia would not countenance such a change. Then again, we
the people of Australia do not get what we want. I believe that a
majority of my fellow Australians would dearly love to directly elect
their own executive, and would even more love to have the power to
dismiss our government a' la Schwartzenegger, but regrettably our political masters do not feel inclined to offer us those options.
The reason for our successive re-election of John Howard is fairly
obvious. Australians are a conservative bunch, and if our
executive is not doing something terribly wrong then we tend to reward by
re-election. Of course there is the microstructure of the
Pauline Hanson is been reported as having 11% possibly having 22% of the primary vote in
Queensland. You only need 1/7 (=14.3%) of the votes to become a senator
in a state that elects six senators, so she has a chance of making it.
By the way, Pauline, if you do happen to read this, might I suggest
that you read the letter (below) to Peter King. (I have not found
a direct e-mail address, or I would have written to you direct).
I believe that you actually believe in greater participatory democracy,
and the suggestion contained therein might well be the thin edge of the
wedge that leads to CIR.
- PETER KING MP -
I sent the following email to Peter King, the federal member for Wentworth, NSW, on 15th September 2004.
Dear Peter King, MP
I am a resident
of Paddington. I consider John Howard to be a pretty dreadful PM, but
(as they say of Democracy) the best on offer.
One of the
problems with our parliamentary democracy is the fact that I (as a
voter) only have two choices of leader, although there are myriads of
policies on which I have preferences. In slightly more than half of
those policy matters I agree with the Liberal party platform, in
slightly less than half with the Labour platform. So basically I only
get what I want about 51% of the time.
It occurs to me that it should be possible, in this computer age,
for we the people to participate more actively in the democratic
If you were to offer to set up a website, with appropriate security, to
poll your constituents on all major legislation which comes before
parliament and on which you must vote, and then agree to abide by the
majority decision (with safeguards, e.g. that say at least 5% or 10% of
electors must submit votes) then I would consider you as my only choice
in the coming Federal election.
I believe that such an offer
would attract considerable interest among the other voters in
Wentworth, where there is a high level of computer literacy. It is
obvious that members of any major political party would be unable to
match your promise.
I would anticipate
that on your website would be something that looked like the polling
sites that newspapers operate, however each of your constituents would
have an encryption key (mailed to him by your office, at his request)
which would permit him or her to cast just one vote on each question.
The constituent would log in to your website using that key, (the
technology would be something similar to netbank) and vote. As a
security check I expect that you might also have a list of the
constituents who have voted, (without of course indicating how they
voted). In this way someone who had not voted could determine that his
vote had been improperly applied.
I have an excellent set of policies on my website - have a look. I
have asked my website manager to set up a participatory system as
suggested by you - although it will have to wait until after my
Thanks for the excellent suggestion.
MP for Wentworth
I don't care what policies you implement, Peter, so long as you
implement an open participatory system, similar to that
suggested. With such a system your constituents will always feel
that they have a continuing influence on government.
The numbers in this morning's Herald had you trailing
the Labour party with 25% to 27%, while Turn bull was about 35%.
I believe that you will get elected. The people in Wentworth
(like those in Calare,) like independents, which is a factor that the
numbers men have not accounted for.
- PP McGuinness & Breeding -
I sent the following letter to Padraic McGuinness:
FROM your article:
"Better to have quality of life, not quantity
By Padraic P. McGuinness
August 26, 2004"
"all the nostrums such as paying women to breed faster"
my (admittedly anecdotal) observation, many women are postponing
breeding because of the high cost (for the couple) of setting up a home
(e.g. buying real estate). Regrettably, with increasing age, although
the home becomes available, the inclination and ability of the woman to
breed seems to decline.
the 19th Century a book named "Progress & Poverty" by Henry George
appeared. His solution to the problem of ever spiraling land prices
was higher property taxes.
support of his theories I found in my recent travels in the USA that in
those states where property taxes were high, (e.g. Fort Worth, Texas,
where property tax is about 1%-1.5% of value) the value of real estate
was low. Where property taxes are restricted, (e.g. San Francisco in
California, where property taxes are restricted by proposition 13 I
believe) the capital value is high.
believe that we are actually paying the incentive to women in the wrong
way. I would suggest a higher tax on real estate, disbanding the
departments of social security, education and health, and distributing
the money thus saved (by my calculations, over $160 billion, plus the
increased real estate tax, say $40 billion) equally among the
20,000,000 citizens, giving each about $10,000 pa.
course further money could be saved by paying politicians less (since
they now have less responsibilities). Other savings could be obtained
by removal of the ~$5000 tax free threshold (since all citizens are
obtaining $10,000 taxable income from the government)
can no doubt confirm all those calculations yourself. The amount of
$10,000 is nearly as much as unemployment benefits, and would, in the
hands of responsible parents go a long way towards paying for private
education of each child. Australia would of course have a lot more
unemployed (all those public servants). Fortunately those persons are
not contributing to the production of goods, so will not reduce the
underlying productivity of the economy. And I feel certain that those
industrious ex-government employees would soon find some enterprise or
employer to supplement their basic $10,000 ($20,000 for a couple)
income. By this procedure we also eliminate wealth traps.
am sorry if I have diverged somewhat from the subject. My point
remains, women will be more likely to breed when they feel
secure. They will feel secure when they have their "nest" and
their minimum supply of consumables guaranteed. I believe that high
property prices and uncertain benefits are currently making them
And yes, I do realize that all of the above is politically impossible.
I am still awaiting a reply.
- US ELECTION -
The fact that Kerry is in trouble, even in NY, should be news to
no-one. Here are some reasons for his rapid devolution.
(Similar reasons apply in some cases to Latham in Australia.)
- Kerry started out on a back foot when US papers reported
that European and other world leaders expressed a preference for
him. Americans would be sensitive about such comment.
- Although the Democrats are supposed to be the party of
"Intellectuals" they do not show much common sense. Anybody who
has to keep a household account knows that if spending is increased,
then income must be increased. That means more taxes.
Basically people prefer to manage their own financial
obligations. People understand that regulation benefits the few
at the expense of the many.
Murdoch. Up until now, the media has been largely controlled by
"big capital" which is generally pro-Democrat, mostly because Democrats
enact legislation at the behest and to the benefit of large
corporations. Murdoch is publishing the alternate view, that of
the smaller businesses which do not have such political power. He
is in fact annoying the vocal liberal section media so much that they
have initiated demonstrations (in contravention of the constitutionally
guaranteed right of free speech) against the Murdoch media. Some
liberal documentary makers are making a financial killing by producing
pretend "documentary style" films (e.g. "Farenheight 9/11", "Outfoxed").
- He does not seem to actually have policies. He names a
policy, and reverses it shortly thereafter. This does not worry
the converted, but the swinging voters are confused.
- Bloggers and the internet (which predecessor Al Gore
claims to have been responsible for) are increasingly destroying
Kerry's liberal journalist power base ("Media Dinosaurs, your game is
up", Glenn H Reynolds)
- MIDDLE EAST -
Iran seems to be determined to acquire of nuclear weapons. The
European powers are wringing their hands ineffectually, (something like
another time, another place) and hoping that their remonstrations will
prove effective. There are rumors that the Israelis might
be surreptitiously invited to step in if negotiations fail. The
Israelis (rightly, in my view) do not trust nuclear weapons in the
hands of fundamentalist Islam, whose originator Mahommed once set an
example by obliterating a whole tribe of Jews in Medina.
France has received a rude shock: despite it's fawning to Arab Muslim
sensitivities, French journalists have been seized and held to ransom.
The terrorist unrest in Iraq has reached desperate levels. The
Muslim terrorists do not understand western culture any more than
western culture understands them. Nor do they seem to realize that the
increasing vehemence in the liberal media of the USA is actually just a bunch
of journalists who realize that the election hopes for Kerry
are rapidly diminishing, and are trying to create a new policy.
The murder of hostages by Muslim extremists in Iraq is not likely
to end occupation. I suspect that Muslims will next be saying
that it is actually the CIA that is committing these murders as an
excuse for the US to send more troops to Iraq to suppress the "Muslim"
menace. (a' la Saddam Hussein) and thus guarantee Bush's
re-election. (Perhaps, by calling for withdrawal, liberal
journalists are the unwitting pawns of a vast right wing
conspiracy?) I expect that Muslims would reason that nobody who
follows Mahommed could commit such atrocities.
Rupert Murdoch, meanwhile, is no doubt happily counting the increased
market share produced by his Republican supporting
editorials. If he follows past precedent he will allow his many
titles to revert to traditional editorial policies after November.