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John Valder's 2007 Election comment

By John Valder, liberal Australian.

The most friendless person in Australia today must be John Howard. and deservedly so.

As the vote has just so vividly demonstrated, he had built up so many more detractors since 2004 than he had ever realised.

Now those critics are joined by a massive number of his own Liberal Party supporters, particularly his parliamentary colleagues.

To begin with there are the 20-odd MPs who have lost their seats, their incomes and their careers. You could say it’s their own fault for so blindly (and spinelessly) continuing to support him to the end, even though it had long been obvious even to poor old blind Freddie that the game was up.

But the worst victim of all is now his own beloved Liberal Party. He has carried it away in a devastating fashion, leaving it leaderless and floundering, possibly for five or even ten years.

All because of his irresistible lust to hang on to power.

It has always been said that the greatest influence in his political life has been his wife Janette. So she, too, has to shoulder her share of the blame.

Good spouses and good friends are supposed to be the ones to offer honest advice when it’s needed. Janette obviously failed him badly in this responsibility. Worse, she probably goaded him on until he carried her and the whole Liberal Party over the cliff with him.

So no wonder John Howard must now be so very, very friendless. And he has no-one to blame but himself - and maybe Janette.

It is worth casting our minds back to 2004, when Margo Kingston was the person to chronicle Howard’s short-comings in her now famous book, ‘Not Happy, John’, which was updated for this election.

Her original book sparked the birth of the ‘Not Happy, John’ movement, which quickly grew into quite a powerful force in Howard’s electorate in the 2004 election campaign.

The ‘Not Happy, John’ campaign ran no candidate itself. Its sole purpose was to oppose Howard and support the candidates standing against him, principally Andrew Wilkie for the Greens and Nicole Campbell for the Labor party. The tragedy of that campaign was that the ALP in its wisdom chose not to give Nicole Campbell anything but the most nominal support.

The Labor view, expressed to the ‘Not Happy, John’ team in no uncertain terms in June, 2004 by Senator John Faulkner was that it was a waste of time, money and effort putting any resources into the Bennelong campaign because the ALP had no hope of winning.

How wrong John Faulkner and the Labor Party were.

With virtually no support from her party, Nicole Campbell managed to poll over 26% of the vote and Andrew Wilkie over 15% for the Greens. This vote forced Howard to preferences for the first time.

It is worth postulating that if Labor had given Nicole Campbell the same sort of support they have just given Maxine McKew, then they almost certainly would have won in 2004.

Peter Costello would have presumably become Prime Minister and been a much more evenly balanced opponent for Kevin Rudd.

If only!


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Kirribilli cost us nearly $20 million

Just to have Janette and John swanning around as if by divine right in a house that belongs to the public.

The movers have been to take him the whole 5 minutes to Wollestonecraft and I say good riddance.

Sufficient force.

Perhaps, Fiona, PM Rudd will need to expedite the return of our combat troops from Iraq to ensure there are sufficient forces available to prise those fingernails loose. Orders should be for all necessary force to be used.

Charge The Cheeky Bastard $50,000 per Night!

Bob and Fiona, given that John Howard turned the fleecing of thousands of workers of their condition and wages into an artform, that he is still continuing to gain huge benefits from the taxpayer though living at Kirribilli when he is currently unemployed is unforgivable!

Charge the cheeky little bastard $50,000 a night! That would encourage him to vacate quickly (as any decent person would have done already).


Daniel Smythe, have you worked out what Whitlam, Keating and Hawke are costing us? They are also unemployed. Your attitude is one of the reasons why Australia will always remain a nonentity in the general scheme of things.

Fiona: Alan, none of them is living in Commonwealth-owned, taxpayer-funded residences. 

G'day again Fiona!

Come on guys ... Much ado about nothing here. Rudd graciously said" Stay as long as you need too." Howard has now moved out.

Move on to more important matters eh?

Life's too short!


Thanks For The Wrap, Alan!

First of all I'm promoted to the status of Doctor by Craig Warton and now, according to Mr Curran, I'm one of the reasons why Australia will always remain a nonentity. Wow! Where will all this end?

I have a few questions, Alan:

1. Why do you think that Australia is a nonentity?

2. If you think Australia is a nonentity, why do you bother to live here?

3. How exactly did an ordinary bloke like me unknowingly manage to stop Australia  from turning into an entity (whatever you mean by that).

4. Do you have a lavishly appointed spare granny flat or an unused marble garage where an ex-Prime Minister and his wife (who are used to the  very best that life can offer) could stay?


Allow me to explain

While he may no longer hold a Commission as Prime Minister, the Writs for the election have still not been returned so he is still the Member for Bennelong (remember how I told you all about the provision of the Constitution which allows Ministers of State to hold office provideing they take a seat in either House within 3 months of appointment?) Well, technically, they have been appointed as Ministers but they have not yet been elected.

Since it seems unlikely that the Howard occupation falls within the meaning of an approved home under the Aged and Disabled Persons Homes Act 1954 of the Commonwealth and it is certainly arguable that the ocupation is an occupation "for value", the Howards are currently occupying under a Residantial Tenancy Agreement covered by the Residential Tenancies Act 1987 (NSW). That means they are entitled to at least 60 days' notice to vacate.

Looks like its the Dwarf down the chimbley this year as one of Santa's little helpers for the amusement of Angus.

If Kevin wants some help drafting the Notice, I'm free on Friday.

On the other hand, if the Runt wants to bring an action for wrongful eviction, I'm free on Friday.

Ex-Prime Ministerial accountability?

From today's Crikey (subscription recommended):

It is of course more than likely that the Prime Minister was just being polite. Take as long as you like, Kevin Rudd told John Howard. Don't rush to leave Kirribilli, move out when you're good and ready.

The refined social instinct that can infallibly sort the genuine offer from a civilised but rhetorical gesture in these situations is a rare gift. But anyone with a hide fractionally finer than that of a well-tanned rhinoceros would have sensed that the decent thing on losing the election would be to pack up from all official residences with dispatch.

So how is it, two weeks down the track, that the PM and wife are still gazing out across the Kirribilli lawns from the breakfast nook? The pair of them still being kept by the Australian taxpayer in the manner to which they became accustomed over 11 years, 11 years in which their preference for Kirribilli over the Lodge cost the Australian taxpayer something in the order of $17 million?

We wouldn't normally worry, it's just that John Howard has form when it comes to not knowing when it's, ah, time to go. So ... could we suggest, Mr Howard, if you can prise your wife's finger nails from the south drawing room's axminster, that being there for Christmas would not be a good look?

I still think Webdiary could make a mint by selling ringside tickets...


According to PM, the last removalist truck has left Kirribilli House. Damn, there goes our chance of a nice little earner.

Chinese Whispers - How to play tricks with words

John Pratt says:

"Eliot Ramsey, you see why when I read the above forecasts for the growth of China I am so deluded."

Well, if you think like Steve Biddulph, you would be. He's actually predicting the 'demise' of the American economy.

According to your own cross-post, "China's economy is still far smaller than America's".

The article you are quoting is referring specifically to China's contribution to world economic growth, it being "one quarter of the annual growth rate" of the world economy.

China's economy however is barely bigger, even according to your source, than Britain's. Not surprising since it's home to about a quarter of the world's population.

Consequently, China's economy is growing over a relatively small base which as you pointed out, it's "far smaller than America's".

High growth over a small base is typical of any developing economy. But such high rates are not sustainable.

It's called the law of diminishing marginal returns.

Also, the US is going into a recession, so it's own growth rate is slowed. A factor which will likely contribute to a slowing of China's own, much smaller economy which is highly dependent on exports to the USA.

OK, Seriously

Ian, an illustration: how would you react if your daughter came home from school one day with the news that she was to receive some sex education? And how would you react if she told you she was going to undergo some sex training?

Here are some more serious views. Someone who reckons I shouldn't be such a smarty-pants kindly Googled them up for me. An eclectic collection: the first is from an evangelist preacher, I think (one Samuel L Blumenfeld); the second from some blog or other; and the third from a US technical college called MPACT learning Center.

1) Education, I told him, is concerned with the development of the mind, of the intellect, while training deals with learning specific skills. Education is a more personal activity, in that its main purpose is the enhancement of an individual's ability to use his mind for his own personal pleasure or gain. Training means developing skills that will be used more for social and economic reasons than for the self. Which means that education should come first, training later.

2) Universities are to provide an education, not training. Training is merely a means to an end: preparation for some specific vocation. Education has both intrinsic and instrumental value. It is about developing the intellect, and broadening one's understanding of the world. This does serve to prepare one for later life, as the general skills one picks up from a liberal arts education are almost universally applicable. But, even more importantly, it develops one's excellence as a human specimen and rational agent.

3) It is simple to train a technician to replace a part on a machine. But if you get a new machine, the technician has to be trained all over again. Technicians educated in the principles of mechanics and electronics, however, have the knowledge to look beyond changing a part. When a new piece of equipment is brought in — something they've never seen before — they are able to troubleshoot and diagnose problems, make necessary repairs, and apply the principles of good maintenance for future operations.

Angela, I have looked, and could not see the link to which you refer. Only one to an SMH article on public funding, which is not news to me.

I think the funding rot set in under the Labor government led by Hawke, when universities proliferated. I was worried for a while that the pre-school down the street might be elevated to university status, along with WAIT and that thing that became Edith Cowan. The degeneration of education is illustrated in Anthony Nolan's words: "the industry". Education is an industry now? Reminds me of a little speech by Peter Beatie, boasting about the support his government was providing to the "Literature Industry".

The abandonment of academic excellence, I think, has its roots in the Whitlam era, when everyone was so euphoric at having escaped from a seeming eternity of preceding stodginess that they all went bananas for a while, and near enough was good enough for anyone.

Wait a minute.

It seems to me that the discussion about tertiary education is drifting too far away from the intention of the thread.  At risk of furthering this, nevertheless, in relation to Bill Avent's comments:

1. Bill's example in distinguishing between education and training made me laugh out loud.  It is absolutely correct.  Education is about bringing a particular kind of socialised self into being while training is limited to the application of knowledge in instrumental ways.  Ralston Saul, somewhere in "Volataire's Bastards", makes the point that instrumentally oriented knowledge is now the dominant form in which knowledge is transmitted.  He argues his case by noting that most medical practitioners are, these days, highly trained technicians who often lack what was previously taken for granted in previous generations of medicos - a broad education in the humanities.  Not all, of course, but a significant number are merely high quality technicians.  It shows.

2. However, unlike Bill, I do not blame Whitlam for causing the problem.  His introduction of free tertiary education opened campuses to women and members of the working classes.  Standards didn't drop, rather they improved, because of this.  Howard and the far right think tanks, like Thatcher in Britain, were surgically accurate in directing their attacks at sources of political opposition to a neo-liberal agenda.  In this instance the attack was on access to tertiary education.  The mechanism was budgetary: budgets were devolved from Faculty to School and then Departmental level.  Academics were obliged to justify why low enrolment courses should be maintained.  It is, of course, notoriously hard to justify in economic terms why philosophy should be taught with low enrolments.  At the same time, thanks Richard Dawkins, fees were imposed.  Consequently, over the last decade and a half, there has been a sort of closure in intellectual terms and, in some cases, a collapse.  Academics failed to defend their own turf.

To give just one example: one of the most valuable courses I undertook as an undergrad was on the history and philsophy of science.  Through this course I read Chalmer's brilliant "What Is This Thing Called Science?" and others including Popper, Kuhn, Wittgenstein, Feyerabend, Midgeley, Harraway.  I doubt that I'd have enroled if I'd had to pay HECS on it. 

The neo-liberal agenda emphasises instrumental knowledge and a limited social agency for the citizen who is encouraged to focus on self interest first and then family second.  Hence the continuous banging on and on about family values from Howard (and Rudd as well).  An education, as opposed to training, properly orientates students to the social and allows them to locate themselves within that.  Doing that over time, for example, requires a knowledge of history and philosophy (at least) with probably some sociology and anthropology as well.  One could add what one chose to this as a minimum: literature, art and so on.  It is for these sorts of reasons that the preferred entry to medicine in some institutions is as a postgraduate. 

A perspective

One of the most valuable courses I undertook as an undergrad was also on the history and philosophy of science.

I had to pay HECS on it, but it provided me with a much more informed perspective on why.

Tertiary education

I have been trying to find time to write a piece about universities, then and now, for a new thread. Anyone interested in co-authoring? Anthony, have you received my email? I agree with all the points you make, by the way, and think that a little more history, plus some illustrative exemplars, would be useful as a starting-point for more specific discussion.

Academic Disciplines

I hope you pick up on the issue of specialised academic disciplines, why boundaries between them evolved, and how they could be overcome so that we may benefit from greater interconnectedness.

TAFE Courses

I wish the training courses currently done at Uni could be relegated to TAFE (law, medicine, architecture,teaching and so forth).

I think the worst of the decline was instituted by Dawkins.  Somehow calling colleges universities was going to lead to more jobs (never said exactly how).  The rot is essentially managerialism in my view.

I think the decline in academic standards is tricky.  Partly it is a problem from within the academy (that dreadful fundamentalism called post-modernism (that all positions are equal); I regard this as  an academic neurosis).  There is also the pressure from managerialism and the eco-rat (neo-liberal) agenda; students are pressed for time and money - the time for debate and reflection is not available to them.  There is the (mistaken) utilitarian emphasis on qualifications - you go to uni to get a degree to get a job.  How can one advocate learning for its own sake or the beauty of the subject in this environment?  The days when students were expected to question are long since passed.  In my 'education' degree we were meant to do stuff on organisational change.  I told my lecturer that in my view innovation did not come this way.  Was I invited to challenge the essay topic?  I was told that for the purposes of the assignment this was what 'organisational change' meant.  So much for academic integrity.  Needless to say the individual involved earned my perpetual contempt.  This is what happens when courses are designed to serve the economy.  The vocationalising of the curriculum has been a disaster from the point of view of education in my view.

Finally if employers want trained office fodder why can't they bloody pay for it themselves.  Perhaps we could remind them of their speeches about 'no free lunches'?

Nothing Is Ever As It Seems

Justin Obodie, I tend to agree with your post, that is, up until a point. Whilst I think there will in all probability be a major correction I doubt it will be the total meltdown you hint at. Though, we all have our opinions and every opinion is as valid as the next.

China reminds me very much of Japan in the late 1980's. The guy that spoke Japanese back then was king of the floor. The new world order was upon us and Asian values were coming to rule roost. Basically to keep a long story short Japan had a government led top down economy. It created through a sunset clause (seven floors max from memory) an incredible asset bubble. Internal growth was maxed out and the expansion was well and truly underway. We all know the eventuating outcome (amazing how many "financial geniuses" there were in hindsight).

China is a two track economy. It is not possible at this time to rely on "inward growth". It didn't work for Japan so it certainly won't work for China. The Sino expansion is underway and it is underway for that very reason (with a Yuan pegged to a daily dropping dollar). Property bubbles, highly leveraged business sector (those naughty derivatives), well you know the rest. The problem with double digit growth is that it eventually comes to an end. The problem China faces is keeping that growth from coming to an end - that won't be happening in a world recession and then the fun and games really begin. Where it all ends up nobody knows.

Footnote: Whenever I hear any person of note say this time it will be different - Paul instinctively knows sell, sell, and sell some more!

Educating Ian

Ian, yes ideed, when I was young some of my teachers did give me a hard time, when they thought I might benefit from that. And I will be eternally grateful to them for it. They were of the old school, not so much under pressure as prepared to apply some.

I don't know what a MacDict is. According to the dictionary supplied with this Mac (called Oxford American) to EDUCATE means: give intellectual, moral, and social instruction to (someone, esp. a child), typically at a school or university

Now to TRAIN: teach (a person or animal) a particular skill or type of behaviour through practice and instruction over a period of time.

Do you see a difference there? Not too subtle for you, I hope.

I have it from the French side of the family that there they still have distinct words for teaching to think and mere instruction. They seem to produce some notable philosophers there, too. Not like here, where, as you seem to have conceded, that activity is left to our dogs and horses.

education and training

I think the difference lies in the areas of perception, analysis and synthesis, and agency.

Thinking is more than processing information.  The foundation and context is perception.  "Once the kind of problem is recognised the answer is usually easy."

Analysis is the ability to take apart, synthesis is coming up with a new form.  In some ways this involves discernment and even taste.  While decidedly intellectual I think there are matters of feeling involved as well.

By agency I mean the ability for the individual to do for themselves (the goal of any teaching worth the name in my opinion).  The individual 'becomes their own trainer' (though this is a clumsy way of putting, I hope it makes the point).

All of these things need not be part of training.  I hope this clarifies.  Learning, education and teaching are the issues I care most about, so if I sound passionate it is because I am.

Sweet necessity

Evan, I agree. Thinking and perception are so closely bound up together that some have asserted that thinking is perception. Studying great examples of reason in action is a good way to learn it, but one also needs projects of one's own.

An inventive breakthrough always appears much simpler once it is done. The "why didn't I think of that before?" response is common after the event.

I remember a cartoon I saw once of a Neolithic man proudly showing off his new invention: a wheel carved from a single slab of stone fitted onto a tree trunk for an axle. One of his bearskin-clad audience asks: "If it's so good, why hasn't someone done it before?"

As any patent attorney will tell you, someone probably had.

Think about thinking

Ian MacDougall: "In other words, precisely how is 'teaching to think' different from 'training'?"

This is one of those things, Ian, which, if you need to ask, you'll never know.

Unlike some academically trained drips under pressure, I have no doubt that animals can think. Nonetheless, the difference between their thinking and that of which humans are capable is enormous. I suspect that difference may be shrinking, though; and not because the animals are getting smarter.

Bill's will will drill a fill of skill... Until?

Bill, I take it that some academically trained drip (not an academically taught one) under pressure gave you a hard time when you were a child. Either that or the hard time was had on the parade ground in your army training days.

Try to put that aside for now and get back to the main game: precisely how is 'teaching to think' different from 'training'?

"This is one of those things, Ian, which, if you need to ask, you'll never know.

Damn! And after all those years I've spent in my life training in football, tennis, fencing (both foil & barbed wire), martial arts, music and its instruments etc etc. Not to mention teaching scientific thought for a living. And now, when I ask a bloke who clearly knows the difference, he refuses to tell me!

I suppose Bill, your next trick will be to ask me something like "what's the sound of one hand clapping?"

"Unlike some academically trained drips under pressure, I have no doubt that animals can think."

According to the MacDic both to teach and to train are transitive verbs: Teach, v.t. to impart knowledge or skill in; give instruction in. Train, to subject to discipline and instruction; educate; drill. The words are defined using much the same terms, and can to a large extent be used interchangeably.

Just for good measure, 'educate' means to develop or train; to develop the faculties and powers of by teaching, instruction or schooling.

Training has that extra dimension of making fit, as in training of soldiers or racehorses.

Otherwise, it's round and round the mulberry bush. Goodnight and good luck.

I Agree Evan

"Teaching to think has been replaced by training — that thing that used to be reserved for dogs and horses and athletes." ( Bill Avent)

Great sentence that says it all.

Teaching to train to teach

Michael: '"Teaching to think has been replaced by training — that thing that used to be reserved for dogs and horses and athletes.' ( Bill Avent)

"Great sentence that says it all."

Well, it says something, that's for sure. But I'm not sure what. For a start, how could a coach train an athlete at whatever level without at the same time coaching the athlete in thinking about the skills required, and taking a critical approach to their own performance?

In other words, precisely how is 'teaching to think' different from 'training'?

Can one teach an athlete? Can one train a mathematician or philosopher? Is the Pope a Catholic?

Come to think of it, I have known several dogs and one or two horses who weren't bad philosophers.

No Nelson

Hi Fiona, a very good Sunday to you. After this morning Insiders interview, I dont think he is even half or quarter Nelson. Poor chap, his Labor association will haunt him forever and his "I have never voted Liberal in my life" exclamation. For the Libs' sake, the sooner they get Turnbull in the better. Like McKew said: "We want a contest".

BTW:  The message must have got through to Juanita Phillips that she is in to do a McKew here at Bradfield. The excitement must have been too much for her that she developed a coughing fit during the ABC 7pm news here in Sydney.

The Full Nelson

I managed to endure fifteen minutes of Nelson on Insiders this morning before seeking refuge on Webdiary. It is frightening to see him become ever more kewpie-doll like as the years click by.

An excellent piece in today's Age by Jason Koutsoukis. Try this this as a teaser:

Nelson's traditional support base within the parliamentary Liberal Party has always been among those MPs who would best be described as "the Rotary club" type. In other words, people who have never really been interested in politics until the day they decided to stand as a Liberal candidate.

For them, the history of the Liberal Party virtually began in 1996, and they are not bothered by Nelson's prior association with Labor.

But with many of those MPs now out of politics, Nelson's leadership is in the hands of people who don't respect him, and who, in the long term, will simply not tolerate as their leader someone who doesn't know what he stands for and has admitted that he would sacrifice any principle to elevate himself — even joining the socialists.

Kewpie Doll?

Time delays and all, I've just emerged from the same experience, Fiona. I was thinking more of an Irish voodoo doll. Can't wait to see who applies the first skewer.

It's going to be a long summer, watching the Libs pretend to be nice.


Definitely a kewpie doll, Richard. Especially (how appropriate) the one on the right.

Ejicashun Never done me no good

We know you're not an academic, David. Why do you think people think you're an academic? If you aspire to be one, you will need to (1) have a discipline, and (2) exercise some. I mean, just saying stuff off the top of your head the way you do won't wash in academic circles.

Better just keep away from reality and enjoy the dream of crunchy autumn leaves and crisp sunshine. You can always reinforce the dream  with patches on your elbows, and affect a furrowed brow and preoccupied aura.

Anthony Nolan:

The very idea of accruing respect for unorthodox views is so far from the truth that I am not sure even where to begin to respond.   In any discipline there is an orthodoxy and those whose thinking, which is after all what they are supposed to do, becomes unorthodox because they must pursue the logic of their thoughts can kiss farewell to either appointment or advancement.

I couldn't agree more. Education is in a terrible doldrums. Teaching to think has been replaced by training — that thing that used to be reserved for dogs and horses and athletes. Learning has become an exercise in regurgitating the doctrine of someone whose every success has depended on faithfully regurgitating what his or her academic elders told him or her to think. Enquiry has degenerated into something little better than dogma.

Universities have become graduate factories. And look at the product they put out! Time was when professors were overbearing martinets, ever ready to savagely deride mediocrity. Now, as long as they preserve their delicate little charges' self-esteem, they don't seem to care that their graduates don't know the difference between homing in and honing in [sic], or think that satire doesn't need to have a point.


Bill Avent, I envy you this sentence:

Teaching to think has been replaced by training — that thing that used to be reserved for dogs and horses and athletes.

How I wish I could have thought of it.

Fat, Greedy and Narcissistic

Bob Wall, I think it was you who sent me to the Stephen Soldz interview?

Many thanks. A gem of a good read. The concept Social Narcissism goes some way to explaining the American way of dealing with the rest of the world.

Hi Eliot. …All countries in the global economy 'manipulate resources of other countries to their own advantage'.

I dare say many do. Surely not all. What manipulating does Tonga do, for example? But OK, many do. Some more than others, however. The USA most of all, and most greedily.

I shouldn't have to tell you that GDP is not a national resource. That sorted out, there is nothing much left in your post for me to respond to.

On your other question on the thread now closed, I suggest you put those to Angela Ryan. She has a much better handle on those things than I do. I seem to remember her pointing out that Iran had a nuclear programme under the aegis of the USA, before the US puppet in charge of that country got kicked out. What do you think about that?

Hey, since you like to laugh, did you have a gleeful little chuckle, as I did, when you heard of all those incriminating documents the departing Americans frantically shredded when they fled, being painstakingly pieced together again by an army of Iranian students, to reveal the extent of sleazy secret American interference in their country's affairs?

A pleasure.

A pleasure to have provided an article you enjoyed so, Bill. Having followed your "Mad" theme I was amused to see such an article appear. On the subject of US support for an Iranian nuclear program, there is a link to the Richardson article on my 10.03 am post on What if ...? yesterday. Just noticed that searching for my previous linking of that article I forgot the link to the Scott Ritter interview in which it was mentioned. Here it is now.

The ying and yang of economic prosperity

Best we all learn to speak Mandarin, the sleeping giant has well and truly awakened, in fact going great guns.

Yep, while America suffers the consequences of economic carelessness the Middle Kingdom has accumulated enough US currency to be a material threat to the economic well being of America, which at the moment is looking a bit green around the gills.

No one would be stupid enough to make war on their banker.

China in the meantime is growing militarily stronger, while America grows weak. The US military assets are old and some like the (25 year old) F15s are literally falling out of the sky because of age, or so the USAF suspect. Every one of them are grounded, indefinitely.

This while the Chinese new diesel electric subs go undetected by the US navy. The most valuable US nautical assets now at the mercy of these submarines, one of which surfaced undetected during recent US naval games, to the absolute horror of the US navy; as reported by the US navy.

The Chinese claimed it was a mistake, but they lied, it was a blatant message.

The US dollar grows weaker by the day, the Fed is predicted to encourage this on 11 December by dropping interest rates yet again. Wall Street will love it, the American punter will grow poorer.

No doubt about it, things will give sooner or later, and by the way things are going it looks like sooner. China of course will suffer also, they know this well, but with a population of over 1.5 billion (1.3 is a lie) they will try (and are achieving) to turn the economy inward. India also has similar opportunity.

They may have to, China's US held paper "assets" in reality are not worth much at all. To offload them all at once while there is still time would create panic. So they will just do what they have been slowly doing, offloading bit by bit, as many other nations are also doing now.

Peter Costello possibly spoke the truth in reference to an economic tsunami; commodity prices are dropping, the US dollar is being hammered, the banks don't know what they or their competitors are really sitting on as far as their mortgage backed securities go, the rating of securities has been exposed as a scam; trust has evaporated; Moody's should be drawn and quartered. The water is rapidly being sucked back out into the ocean. A number of blue chip financial institutions are already under risk, hundreds of mortgage lenders have closed shop.

The only thing that will prevent the inevitable American (and global recession) will be for the Fed to drop interest rates and create an even bigger disaster (not too far) down the track. Oh dear, between a rock and a hard place. Drop interest rates and screw the dollar or protect the dollar and screw liquidity and many ordinary punters? Either way it's ugly.

It's only a matter of time before Wall Street crashes and the derivative market is exposed for the house of cards it most probably is. A brutal and thorough correction, claret will be flowing all over the show.

China will weather the tsunami better the the US, they are stronger (and have the luxury of a sometimes cruel and when desired authoritarian communist government to control things - the envy of many a power hungry democratic capitalist- think GWB and others).

China and the Asian block will eventually see the US reinvent themselves into a less meddlesome, warlike and reckless nation, not so much by choice but economic necessity. The Neocon dreams of controlling Eurasia and their markets (by force when required) will be seen as the harbinger of the decline of American economic and military superiority.

The only problem is, what do we do about China? That sometimes and when required (from the point of view of government) cruel and authoritarian bunch of capitalist Communists.

The next twenty years will prove to be interesting times. Mandarin may help.

Bottoms up - gunbei.


Angela, we have shared values

Mr Duncan, I am not posting as Anthony Nolan.  I am not an academic. I am not a lawyer. I am not an animal. I am a human being (said in Elephant Man voice).

Why do people think I am an academic?  It must be because I covet the lifestyle of an academic.  Despite what you all say, I am firmly of the view that as an academic you always wander around on perfect sunny autumn days where there is a crisp sunshine and you get to wear your jumper with patches.  Academics have it made!  The crunch of autumn leaves underfoot and fresh faces with rosy red cheeks and inquiring minds all around.  What on earth is there not to like about this lifestyle?

Oh no Angela, don't tell me Webdiary is doing what we once said it would?  Don't tell me people from different walks of life and views are discovering shared values?  Oh no!  Shock horror! The dream becomes a reality!  Is it because Howard has gone?

It seems you and I have shared values in a reasonably significant way. I also believe strongly in meritocracy with compassion.  I don't see that as being at odds with my core philosophy. In fact that IS my core philosophy.  I suppose how it manifests itself depends on interpretation.  In my view to have a meritocracy you have to smash through many barriers.  The most fundamental is education. To have a meritocracy there has to be a drive toward equal access. Then after that you have to have success and promotion based on merit. This flourishes best under well funded education and the rule of law.

In a business sense, you have to have low barriers to entry.  Australia can hold its head high in this regard.  It is one of the easiest countries in the world to establish a business.  Compared to most countries, we have little red tape to start a business.  In a meritocracy, there should be little regard given to corporate lobby groups. It was to my delight recently that NSW Labor eased our liquor laws to make them more civilised and allow the development of small bars.  This is meritocracy.  Deregulation in that regard stops protection of hotels and opens  up the industry to all.

As we all know there is a deep cultural dimension to meritocracy as well.  It is possible to have excellent education available to all but if the culture holds some people back due to the well known characteristics of discrimination then there remains work to be done.  I am always in favour of anything that will promote meritocracy.  How do you change a culture to promote meritocracy without endangering the very meritocracy you seek (ie in the eyes of some)?  This is always the dilemma with affirmative action. I don't have an easy answer to that but like so many questions in life, it is a question of balance.  I would be in favour of the balance that promotes the most meritocratic outcome.

For someone who believes in meritocracy, then affirmative action is particularly interesting.  The concept is all about forcing meritocracy over the long term but some would see it as hindering it in the short term.  For many areas of discrimination, I believe it is appropriate.

If I own a cafe and I have a poorly performing barrista, it should be my right in a meritocracy to fire this person without a meddling government intervening.  There should be no resort to unfair dismissal.

Some may think there is a clash between meritocracy and fairness. Perhaps there is.  On the other hand, meritocracy is the ultimate expression of fairness.  Again, the way these concepts intersect is where the disagreements start.  I am not a great fan of fairness as it is so often put.  I think in many cases it is a toxic lie.  The naughty barrista should be shown the door. As a cafe owner, I should not be brought before some kind of heinous extra judicial tribunal to explain my decision under some kind of ridiculous notion of "procedural fairness"

As I have said before I view the employment relationship, particularly in a small business, as being like marriage.  It should be one based on the notion of "at will".  The relationship only exists for as long as both parties are willing.  If there is to be a divorce, it should be based on the notion of no fault.  I should not have to explain that the barrista does not smile enough and turns off customers. I should just form the view that he is bad for business and sack him.  He also has the same freedom to resign without me taking action against him for unfair resignation.

It is in areas like these where we no doubt would find disagreement.  Both of us would maintain we believe in meritocracy with compassion but both of us would see it manifest itself in quite different ways.

Fiona: And that, David, is the debate that all of us need to have. More later (from me, that is).

In a social sense, compassion is about providing a safety net. I also believe in charity and community.  Charity sadly got a bad name.  Forgive me for mentioning religion but it was originally said that Christ promoted faith, hope and charity.  That was before I was born.  In my era that has become faith, hope and love.  Charity is really about love. Love for your fellow man... or again in updated language, love for humanity.  Love for humanity is compassion.

If we love humanity we don't live in fear, one of another. We don't denigrate the individual.  We exalt the individual. Core Liberal philosophy revolves around respect for the rights and the dignity of the individual.  In my view when this is expressed and implemented properly, it is very much about meritocracy with compassion.

I am very proud to be a liberal as I define it. You can call it small L or moderate. I don't care.  The way Labor changed to be elected shows me that the nation is edging closer to my values.  I voted Liberal but never agreed with some of the social or symbolic aspects that made John Howard. I wanted Malcolm Turnbull to be Liberal leader. I am not sure if he is an electoral winner.  I mean after all, being a millionaire may be a handicap.  That said, I am at one with him on all the key issues.  For the first time in my life, I have my leader waiting in the wings.

Some say he is to the left of Rudd.  I don't care about that. My side did not win last weekend but the part that delights me is the prospect of a new conversation. 

The interplay of values. The cosmic dance. Come join the fun! We share more than we might think.

Thanks Angela.

Bottoms up

"The way the US became rich.."

Same way as we got rich really, it's called theft, murder, slavery and attempted genocide etc.. Don't ask me - ask the indigenous peoples of America, Africa and Australia.

We all know the truth, but hey we are not responsible are we.

But we are all benefactors of our forefathers' ambition, greed and callousness and we quite happily look down on those very peoples and nations we have exploited because they are not like us.

Best not get me started on the realities of white mans' material success, I'd rather get pissed, as a matter of fact I think I shall.

Bottoms up ..... 

Oh really?


My qualifications to comment on the academy are sufficient both in intellectual and experiential terms.  If you believe that Australian campuses are meritocracies then good but can you give me the name of your dealer?

If it were not for the fact that the law of libel in NSW is such  that I cannot afford to give you an honest opinion, by which I mean I cannot afford to be sued for telling you the truth,  then I would gladly spill the beans about my experiences which include [David C: speaking of libel ... ] And that is in only in the humanities.  Apparently it is just as bad in the sciences.

You mention the problem I nominated when you write:

The rot sets in when funding becomes the same problem that our public hospitals have and money is the primary consideration of the faculty head. "Where can I cut costs?" being the overriding consideration rather than "How can I increase the standard of graduate and research?"

Exactly my point.  Faculty heads start to cut costs;  they create a culture in which unpassable NESB  full fee paying overseas students are passed because if they are failed then they do not come back another year to pay fees.  I suggest that if instead of thinking "Where can I cut costs?" they had thought "How can I fight this?" then they might now have a little more cred.

In short, in my view, if you are looking for genuinely independent intellectual endeavour, then look outside the academy because inside is rife with patronage, dishonesty and hypocrisy. 

on turkeys, courage, merit, and Brendan's conscription plans.

Hi Anthony. I am surprised at your rudeness to me and the attack upon our universities. If one has had an experience of corruption or the like it is one's duty to report it in the proper way to the proper persons. Sure it takes courage but ...

As students we did this regarding a certain academic who hassled females and the problem was well and truly sorted out and I can promise you neither my marks nor my future was negatively affected. If one stays silent then one only has oneself to blame for not doing one's duty. We get the system and community we deserve and sometimes things take courage and determination, with a bit of help from friends.

I completely agree with you, Anthony, about the overseas and other fee paying students and you will note there have been people who stood up and openly criticised this special treatment. If you know of it still occurring then do report it. Such persons make failing a difficult process as they appeal and demand review, all of which is fine if justified but not a system to be abused. It is important that any such behaviour (basically corruption) should be held to account, perhaps a quiet warning first, as all deserve such, and then full force crunch for the bastards who persist . Very cathartic.

Money is such a force for corruption and then come all those difficult questions one must ask about relative importance and value etc. Such things should be openly discussed and it is amazing how much clearer a bit of sunlight can make things. Usually roundtable discussions can sort such things out.

"How can I fight this?" You ,who are unable to act upon that which bothers yourself say the Deans must ask. Sure.

The university funding was controlled according to whatever the criteria the education minister thought up. Regional universities lost out quite a bit, and one just about went under for various reasons but lost much of its research grants and had a hatchet man appointed who apparently sacked the main research department that was the only one actually making money. The guys sacked were snapped up by other city unis. This particular uni had had a number of vociferous antagonistic academic staff against the Iraq war and other actions of the Howard rodent pack and was in a safe Labor seat. Also, a system was put in place where certain unis were chosen as primary research institutions to have allocations etc and the others missed out. All this and such arbitrary funding arrangements make wedge politics an easy tool.

And as to the hospital staff and school staff preventing deterioration in their industries...........I don't think so.

I find it very amusing to think of "genuinely independent intellectual endeavour" outside the universities, and wonder to what are you actually referring and how are their salaries paid, Anthony? Or are you showing your support for the AEI et al think tanks and the rubbish they come out with, war-whoring and tobacco repackaging etc for those who pay and make profit from such. LOL. Or are we talking of the pharmaceutical industry and their "research" independence"? LOL even more.

Anthony you really are a funny guy, do you mean to be? It is a gift. Thanks.

Now David D......come on, stop all this writing you're doing that fits exactly with my own thinking. Where are all the great bones of contention I had pigeon-holed away but cannot find now? I cannot stand incompetence myself especially when it is me that has to pick up all the pieces. Some people make mistakes – no sweat, do better next time. But some people are in the wrong profession or job and they just need to reconsider what they are doing. Can't make coffee? Try cleaning. Pays better, anyway. And I agree, why should an employer have to carry such? The trouble is a balance is needed between an employer who behaves badly (and all have responsibilities) and an employee who deserves to move on. Sacking for incompetence is different to sacking because they won't have sex with you. Or do you think the employer has that right as well? Even if it is outside the job description?

(Good coffee, good sex, and able to file discreetly is certainly required in some places). (Why can't guys file well?)

Oh and Brendan, dear old Brendan. Plays for his audience – that sums him up. Talking to the military the other day he told all how the "majority of Aussies want conscription" and he was looking at it, or something along those lines ... play to the audience. Wonder if I can find the transcript.

Malcolm has a lot going for him but needs to treat even the fools around him with respect, at least to his face, as that part of being a politician rather than a self-made money man of decision (we do need more of the latter I think). His behaviour in meetings with a certain repetitive named law firm remind one a bit of one who needs to learn this. He is smart. I am sure if his sights are set high then he will process what is required.

Personally I think Joe Hockey will one day make a great PM, but he needs to learn a tiny bit of compassion for the losers as he wipes them off his Howard jackboots. How we treat our vulnerable is what defines us.

And after a few embassy events I really do think we need to get rid of a bit of dead wood. Naming no names, but it used to be that such positions were for the best and brightest and here is a place that meritocracy has really slipped and our "coal face" to the world is rather low grade quality. I do hope Mr Rudd will do a review there quick smart. I think the staff will sure be pleased. And we were complaining of coffee making incompetence. I don’t know about the other issues mentioned. :)

Now back to the white Christmas making and card writing. Have a bad feeling I'll be cooking turkeys this Christmas. I am sure I get ideas from some here. Culinary of course I mean.


Economic rationality and collapsing tertiary standards.

Hi Angela. Sorry if you took wot I wrote as an attack on you because it was not intended as such. 

I agree with you entirely when you say that it is down to the people on the ground to put up some resistance to economically driven changes designed to downgrade content driven courses.  However, without solidarity, and there was precious little of that (NTEU membership is at about only 20% of academic staff which is pretty thin) then it is an uphill battle.  And being isolated as a lone "whistleblower" is no joke.  So one does what one can.

In one instance, in a mass humanities course, I failed 11 of the 150 final essays that I marked.  I failed them by a margin that I thought was so significant that it would be impossible on the basis of a remark to drag them over the line.  The essays were total "word salad".  Rubbish.  Of the 11, 8 were full fee paying students who, miraculously and unanimously were dragged over the line at a marker's meeting attended by the entire staff for the course (which had 700 students).

I did what I could and paid a price for that.  The problem is that economic stringencies impact staff's capacity to exercise their agency in defence of standards.  Something like 50% of all teaching is now casualised.  If you are on a casual contract or one to three year contract you are hardly in a position to suggest to the Dean that s/he is not doing their job properly. 

I'm well away from the industry now and happily so.  To give you an example of how poorly the situation has been handled politically ... it is only this year that the NTEU has initiated a campaign to recruit specifically among casual staff and to begin to represent their interests.

On another occasion in a different institution I watched in despair as a linguist who was also one of the world's most significant forensic witnesses in cases prosecuting war crimes was forced to make a decision between  appearing at a hearing overseas or teaching first year classes for which no money was available to release him from his teaching obligations.  He resigned so he could give evidence and as a result a significant Nazi is now ending his years in gaol.  This was at a University where money appeared to be readily available for sculpture and paintings galore.
There was not a ripple of response from his colleagues.

Cleaners are well-paid?

Perhaps compared to baristas, Angela, but on the whole, no.

Unfortunately there is no podcast or transcript available, but on 15 September I heard a most interesting program on Radio Eye - Cleaning up Canberra's dirty secrets. Apart from confirming my opinion of the standard of behaviour of some members of parliament (both sides, by the way), the evidence it provided on the effect of WorkChoices on the least empowered gave the lie to the claim that Australians have never been better off.

I will talk turkey another time.


Hi Fiona, I think 25 bucks an hour is pretty good pay for unqualified work. It's a tough world out there. Yep I heard that show too - mum's taxi at the time. 

Bill, earlier I linked a talk from a prof at WA University about teaching our students to actually analyse what they read/hear and how our population fares in this skill as compared to the US population. Did you read that?

Visitors, must go.

Cheers all

Fiona: Angela, would you be interested in writing (or co-writing with me) something about Australian universities then and now?

Is David Davis now posting as Anthony Nolan?

You have a background in the humanities do you? You obviously don't know any law. Truth is now a defence so, fire away - but make sure it is true or you have reasonable grounds for believing it to be true. The tendency I detect in you to vitriol might just colour the defence such as to defeat it. In the law we call it "malice".

On the law ...

Malcolm, my legal training is complete, thanks, and I know plenty of law but, unlike you, don't feel a pressing need to be on top of libel case law because I am usually temperate in what I say and write.  If you find my comments about academics vitriolic all I can say is that they reflect reality.

Moreover, I am smart enough to recognise when I am being baited.  So, sorry mate, no juicy details  in front of witnesses.  See, the issue is not just how the case law is read, it is a matter of which private school the hearing judicial officer went to.  I wouldn't want to tell the truth about some scion of Sydney Protestantism and take my chances with one of his "brothers".

But I'll give you a hint: which Sydney "brother" now wears skirts?

The USA doesn't deserve its economy because they're fat

Bill Avent, hi!

300 million is over 250 million.

You say:

"The way the US became rich, and the way it is determined to stay rich, is by manipulating the resources of other countries to its own advantage, and their disadvantage."
All countries in the global economy 'manipulate resources of other countries to their own advantage'.
Take a look at the Chinese in Africa, for example. Or Europe in Asia, for that matter. Or Australia in our dealings in the Asia-Pacific and Middle East. Or any country trading in the global economy.
The idea that the USA doesn't 'deserve' its economy, and 'therefore' is going to 'lose' it,  is one of the consoling fantasies which makes it possible to ignore that the United States GDP of more than $13 trillion constitutes 20 per cent of the gross world product.
It's the largest national GDP in the world, it was slightly larger than the combined GDP of the European Union at purchasing power parity in 2006.
That didn't happen because the Americans are stupid, or have no resources of their own, or not enough people, or because they're evil.
It's economy is fueled by abundant natural resources, a well-developed infrastructure, and high productivity.
It is also the world's leading nation in scientific endeavour and applied research and technology.
Everything from its aerospace industries to its global media and communications, high tech industries, commercial enterprises and the rest of its awesome economic might are real, and simply not going to disappear overnight because you, well, just wish they would.
It's not going to alter the basic facts of America's existence by blurting slogans about how 'evil' or 'greedy' are Americans.
People who think the American economy is in imminent danger of disappearing, or is about to slip into second place behind China or whatever, are just plain deluded.

US will soon play second fiddle to India and China

For the first time in modern history, China will next year contribute more to global economic growth than the United States

While China's economy is still far smaller than America's, it has overtaken the UK as the world's fourth biggest economy. With the IMF projecting 10pc growth this year, the country will pump more new money into the global system next year than the US, which is expected to grow by just 1.9pc.

China will provide one-quarter of the annual growth rate of the world economy, and, Mr. Collyns said, “if you add together Russia and India as well, you get over half of global growth coming from the emerging-market countries...........With better economic regimes in place, countries like China and India, with more than 1 billion citizens apiece, have the potential for explosive growth that can quickly outstrip the U.S., with its 300 million population.

China's rapid expansion as an economic powerhouse, coupled with a growing and affluent workforce, is driving a new wave of investment into the Chinese hotels and leisure sector.

It is making the country one of the most sought after regions for some of the world's leading hotel groups.

With an ever increasing population of over 1.3 billion people, and boasting 177 cities of over one million people, it is no wonder some of the world's leading hotel groups are homing in on the region with some ambitious investment plans and growth targets.

The Economist reported, By 2020, China will narrowly outstrip the United States in GDP.

China already exceeds the U.S. in production of many strategic minerals and metals. And its industrial base is now larger as well. According to the Factbook China's industrial output now stands at 4.19 trillion dollars as compared to 2.52 Trillion for the United States. Chinese annual industrial growth is 29.5 percent but only 3.5 percent here in the U.S.

Another significant trend worth noting is leadership in world trade. A recent Wall Street Journal article written by Andrew Batson and Shai Oster reports that Egypt's trade with the China will exceed that of the United States by the year 2012. And this trend is evolving with many countries, even in our own hemisphere.

America's eroding industrial base is compromising the nation's military capabilities. This was recently highlighted in the Pentagon's 2005 Quadrennial Defense Review when it concluded, Sourcing and production is now global, with considerable implications for the industrial base.

This same Defense Department study raised alarm bells about China when it concluded, the industrial and economic power wielded by China, and how this relates to the country's political and military aspirations, is seen as a cause for concern.

Eliot Ramsey, you see why when I read the above forecasts for the growth of China I am so deluded.

Greenday Good Riddance

Hi Fiona, in this morning show La Trioli was implying that AMA was not a union. Methinks this is another good riddance.

The Pitiful Lord Downer

Crikey reported that "Alexander Downer made some disparaging comments about Labor Senator Penny Wong". I got a multiple choice question for the Webdiarists. If what is reported is true, what did upset Alex:

1. He is a bad loser as he just lost the election.
2. Something Penny Wong said during her interview.
3. He can tell that she is good, very very good.
4. She is a woman.
5. She is gay.
6. She is Asian and an Asian Labor woman at that.
7. All of the above.

Methinks is (7) with a large dose of (6). Good riddance, Alex.

From Crikey: "A rumour has been doing the rounds since election weekend that Alexander Downer made some disparaging comments about Labor Senator Penny Wong into an open mike when he was waiting for his Insiders interview last Sunday. His interview, during which he remained composed, if a little tetchy, made headlines later because the outgoing Foreign Affairs Minister expressed disappointment that the party didn't receive a bounce in the polls off the back of the Northern Territory Intervention.

Other than that slightly uncomfortable comment, and his insistence that the only reason the party was voted out was the "It's Time" factor, Downer seemed fairly dignified in defeat. But what was he saying before his interview? Crikey understands that as Senator Penny Wong was being interviewed, Downer was yelling obscenities. As Downer was being miked up, he kept reacting to Wong's comments.

Nothing was put down on tape, but Crikey understands that at one point Downer yelled, in reference to the newly appointed Minister for Climate Change and Water, "Shut up you foul mouthed b-tch."


PF Journey, Senator Penny Wong the newly appointed Minister for Climate Change and Water, (Wind & P*ss).Now we have an Asian Minister and a PM who speaks Mandarin. Perhaps between them they will be able to tell the Chinese to stop building coal-fired power stations.

What we need Pitiful to stop

What we need Pitiful to stop the Chinese from building more coal fired power stations is no economic growth. How does Australia with a greatly wealthier population tell the Chinese not to grow its economy? For that matter how do you stop economic growth anywhere? We need economic growth to produce jobs in the future, to provide opportunities for our children and all that..

Doesn't this sound like a pyramid game on a macro scale? A normal pyramid game collapses in a couple of weeks, if that. The rationale for keeping it going is the same as for economic growth. We need it or the whole system collapses. I can imagine the same was said on Easter Island when the last tree was being chopped down. "We need this".

So it is today. Post peak oil as we probably are, but will not know for sure for a few years, CO2 levels increasing, possibly heading for "super greenhouse" levels achieved in the few periods of geologic time when the bulk of the world's oil was being deposited, extinctions are levels rarely reached in deep geologic time. The cry is "we need this", just as a pyramid game player needs to sucker his family and friends into a game that can not last and only only end in tears. 

What we really need is to value economic stability - not economic growth. We can work less, consume less, refuse to see the territorial scent markers of marketers, happier, less exhausted and less beholden to the whip wielding hands of others.

Oh no, no, not an academic.

David's list of ideas of why it might be 'nice' to be an academic in Australia has reduced me to tears of laughter.  Without any apologies to any academic readers let me say that the Australian academy is, at best, a bourgeois sandpit of naked ambition, narcissism and unresolved Oedipal fury with colleagues.  Henry Kissinger once remarked that "Academic politics are so vicious because the stakes are so small".  He was right, too.  The entire culture is dominated by people for whom advancement in career stakes has the equivalent value of one more high distinction on an undergraduate essay.  In other words, the belief that intellectual recognition from "elders" will somehow make them feel better about themselves.  But they never do.  Or rarely.

The very idea of accruing respect for unorthodox views is so far from the truth that I am not sure even where to begin to respond.   In any discipline there is an orthodoxy and those whose thinking, which is after all what they are supposed to do, becomes unorthodox because they must pursue the logic of their thoughts can kiss farewell to either appointment or advancement. 

As for writing for journals...if you want a readership then Webdiary is a far better place to put your thoughts.  For example, when was the last time that you went to a library to actually read an article published in a refereed journal?  Virtually no-one but undergrads, post-grads or other academics even bothers.  You can be sure, as well, that whatever is published in refereed journals has been subject to some pretty solid vetting especially as to how publishing an article might be to the political/sexual advantage of one or more of the referees or editors.

Zygmunt Bauman, who is both a significant academic sociologist and a public intellectual made the point (somewhere) that academics are to modernity what priests were to pre-modernity: legislators of how people ought to be.  In which case the best response to the next visiting Professor you meet will be to say "OK, Professor, after you.  Show us how to do it". 

To make my point most clearly of all: if one is a social democrat, and it is my guess most academics would make this claim, then the first obligation is to defend the industry in which you work from elitism and closure through neo-liberal policies.  Australian academics, by contrast, have presided over an almost total collapse of access and affordability in tertiary education.  They have whined and whinged about Howard's attack on tertiary education while doing nothing about it.  By comparison, teachers, nurses, ambulance workers and other public sector workers have successfully defended their public industries. 

Sorry Angela, my experience is exactly that of Anthony's

This is from my experience as an undergrad and talking to my academic friends.

And I think the process of referreeing is indefensible - both unethical and corrupting. 

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