Sunday Sanity Break, 4 March, 2018 - political hijinks, economic reform remote
President Xi becoming President for life is a scary idea, given China's last President for life, Mao the Mighty. Several major discussions in the Oz provide interesting content. Greg Sheridan provides a wonderful overview, a snippet toward the end touching on Australia's lack of flexibility and slowness to address very important matters: 'while the West is suffering a widespread crisis of governance, Beijing is fast and agile. As Peter Jennings drolly observed, in the time Australia took to write a defence white paper, Beijing militarised the South China Sea.'
Russia's President for life, Mr Putin, is another very effective strongman. He has announced a new missile system, nuclear powered missiles with nuclear warheads, missiles that he claims the USA will not be able to shoot down. He'll be passing then on to North Korea next.
Donald Trump, a would be President for life is trying to start a tariff war. One sincerely hopes someone will persuade him this makes no sense. Old steel mills in the US rust belt will not open again and any reduction of trade will make Americans and the world poorer.
And atrocities too numerous to count and too complex to understand continue to create industrial strength misery everywhere.
Politics is at a low ebb in Australia, and we plead for leaders of major parties that work together to achieve vital reforms. Like getting 'the punters' to agree on a program of economic reform to balance the budget over 'business fluctuations' (wrongly called the 'business cycle', since economies go up and down but not in any cyclical way yet devised by mathematics.) And to introduce a steady series of productivity enhancing reforms so real wages as well as other incomes can rise. And finding the way to spend enough on defence to be able to seriously damage national capitals of powerful nations who wish to subjugate Australia. (Anyone for persuading the USA to sell us a couple of elderly but still potent nuclear submarines and train several crews?)
Perhaps we need a President for life if we are going to prosper and remain independent. One with a good nose for economic policy. A John Stone or a John Elliot. Certainly someone called John, or perhaps Peta.
Dr Ken Henry, Chair of the mighty bank called NAB, regrets his masterful decade old program of tax reform has not been introduced. This was the man who helped entrench Australia's excessive consumerism by persuading Prime minister Rudd to throw money at consumers during the global crisis of 2007-08. And introduced ludicrous programs of school 'improvements' and attempted to save the global climate by stuffing stuff into home roof spaces. No wonder we ignore this bloke's advice.
Our biggest national economic problem is the budget which will on current plans never produce more than a tiny surplus. Australia needs tax reform (a 15 % GST with no exceptions) or (preferably) scaling back/postponing current excessive spending programs.
The budget issue will never be solved until the leaders of both sides of politics are women or men of generous natures with serious visions of what Australia needs to become a highly productive nation with concern for the welfare of its children and grandchildren. Such women or men could surely work out a joint program, taking turns to prepare a list of priority items. Costs and incomes from the list would be added up, with subtractions for savings, until the agreed list was estimated to produce a sustainable budget surplus.
Fiona Prior visits Sydney Theatre Company’s Top Girls. More here.
The Sporting Life
The first test match in South Efrica seems headed for a mighty Australian victory. Stark and Lyon dealt with the Efrican batters, and our batters cobbled together enough reasonable to good scores to leave the home team with a massive 400 + runs to make in their second innings on a poor pitch in fading light. Very glad Bancroft made a fifty in the second innings, but what about proven centurion Aaron Finch? 'No dammit', says the all wise selector, 'he comes from Victoria.'
Next excitement is the start of the footy season and the Commonwealth Games in Brisbane.
Henry was mighty pleased to see a young Caaaarlton! side beat St Kilda, providing signs of new talent that should grow into a great team in several year's time. Still, all the other teams seem younger and faster as well, so too much should not be expected.
Selectors for the Commonwealth Games seem to have gone for youth in the swimming and athletic teams and so some happy surprises seem likely. Plus the Campbell Sisters and Karl Chalmers to name just three proven winners.
Henry's youngest says Australia could have a gold medal winner in the new Olympic sport of skateboarding. If it happens, remember you heard it here first.
Image of the week - with thanks to Eric Lobbecke