Monday, 25 August 2014

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

Before the Harbour Bridge was built residents on the North Shore had to catch ferries to get to work in Sydney and fares were collected at Circular Quay as at present. A commuter challenged this in court and in subsequent appeals claiming that when he got off the ferry he was between the devil and the deep blue sea. Court costs were not as high in those days but he would have spent a fair bit, presumably trying to get a free ride to work. There has never been any industry in the North Shore and the main occupations have been in finance and politics. North Shore politicians can run policies that close down manufacturing industries and divert industrial jobs overseas knowing that this will have little direct impact on their electorates.


The apprentice
Three days before the 2010 election Hockey, in the conspicuous absence of Tony Abbott, announced the Liberal Party's economic policies saying that they had been audited by a West Australian company closely associated to the Party and they could "go to gaol" if they were wrong. Independents held the balance of power after the election and Abbott was forced to submit his figures to Treasury. The auditors did not go to goal but they were fined by their association. The main errors were that the Liberals were proposing to sell off taxpayer's assets but had not factored in the loss of revenue after the sale. Four of the independents from National Party leaning electorates came independently to the conclusion that Abbott could not be trusted and the Liberals would spend the next three years relentlessly (and successfully with the aid of rightwing shock-jocks on steam radio) attacking the scientific and engineering communities.

Tony Windsor, one of the independents, recalled Abbott saying "the only thing I wouldn't do is sell my arse - but I'd have to give serious thought to it." Abbott's ass (amer.) was never on the line, his overweening desire to be Prime Minister was in order to sell taxpayer's assets.

In his first budget Hockey is offering grants from federal tax collections of 15% of the money raised to states that hock public assets. Liberal Party Premiers have traditionally railed against tied grants but Baird is a mindless convert to Hock-economics. The modelling released claimed that hocking 49% of the urban electricity distribution network will raise $13 billion attracting a $2 billion grant which would grow to $20 billion through interest when deposited in the banking system. The amount raised will of course depend on what undertakings are made on the price of power to retail users.

The modelling ignores the fact that the power assets contribute more than $3 billion a year to the ongoing costs of the health and education in the state. This contribution ceases even before the merchant banks have extracted their success fees and management fees for the transaction and is an additional reduction to the $20 billion a year Australia wide that Hockey is boasting he will take from health and education according to the forward estimates. Meanwhile the money from the sale will be earning record-low interest rates which are expected to go lower as unemployment increases.

Eventually the sale of profitable tax-payer assets will be sunk into ludicrously uneconomic projects that will never make any return on the investment. The business case for the George Street trams made absurd claims of economic benefit from reduced congestion but requests in submissions to the EIS for the claims to be verified were disregarded. Now Baird is making similar assertions that he will unlock congestion. Baird has an advantage as none of his claims are backed up by any information. His projects have not been designed, let alone costed, subjected to feasibility studies or cost/benefit studies or had Environmental Assessments. He can claim anything he likes in the lead up to the election on March 28th.

Dirty Tricks

I appear to have been the victim of an attempt to close down this Blog. You make a post pointing out the obvious flaws in the signature policy that Baird will be taking to the election and that is the end of you. My profile on Google+ was blocked when I was accused of impersonating another person. It is ridiculously easy to make these allegations: you go to the profile page of your victim's account at Google+ and click on an arrow under the profile picture, you are asked to specify if the profile name impersonates
  • me
  • someone I know
  • a celebrity
and you are done. The Profile is blocked and the victim has to satisfy an automated appeal process that he is a real person. If he fails to do this within 60 days the Blog can be removed from the servers.

When I tried to open an account with Facebook some years ago my legal name was rejected. When I used my second given name I got it through. This remained one of life's little mysteries until I went to Perth to go to the Swans/Freo semifinal a year ago and went on a tour of the tunnels under Fremantle Goal. You had to introduce yourself to the group and everyone smiled. The tour guide asked if I had seen The Family Guy. I have since Googled it - I still have not watched an episode: I share the same name as the Dad. In the interests of conforming to the mores of social media I will offer the opinion that Josh Thomas has a genius for writing comedy: I Google+ "Please Like Me" (Tuesday nights ABC2).

An attempt to clear my name by giving a URL to the PUSH Facebook page failed dismally. In the end I had to upload my photo to my profile and forward a photo of my drivers licence to the Google appeals process. After more than 4 days I finally got through to my dashboard late last night - the suspension had been lifted.

I have not included the street address of my house in my Google profile or other personal information as eco-terrorists have been known to damage the houses of people they describe as NIMBYs. We are dealing with lunatic fringe groups. It turns out that the North Shore Tea Party rump is the looniest fringe party of them all.

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