Economy

Election Scorecard: LNP’s Debt Attack ads

Debt should not be a campaign issue in a recession. The fact Queensland has a big debt is a problem – but the future Queensland Government needs to be building infrastructure to create jobs.

So campaigning on the fact that you’re not going to do anything to address rising unemployment is ridiculous.

This raises a question for me – what happens when a state can’t pay off its debt – it’s not like infrastructure assets can be repossessed. And you’d think with all these countries racking up trillions of dollars in debt it’s all a bit moot. 

Anyway, the ad makes some good points about Labor’s pointless debt – borrowing without finishing jobs (Traveston Dam) and spending money on projects that don’t work (Desal plant in the south east). 

Springborg has been shaping the debt narrative for some time. His favourite line is that we’re paying $10 million a day in interest as a state. As a campaign issue debt is a winner. But politically it shouldn’t be. Particularly in a recession.

It worked a treat in the Townsville City Council elections because for some reason people are comfortable with personal debt in order to invest in infrastructure (housing) but not government debt. 

The ads also look nice. Black again. They get points because it will work, lose points for political content, and lose some points for style – it’s an attack ad.

Grade – B-

Packt Like Sardines in a Crushed Tin Box

Kottke.org is a mostly terrific blog on the “liberal arts 2.0”. It’s where I found that Abbey Road timelapse. And many other interesting things. Including this. Perhaps an iconic image depicting the current economic climate…

Huh? It’s a bunch of shipping containers you say. What has that got to do with the economic times you ask. Well, they’re stockpiling containers in Hong Kong because China’s exports have slowed dramatically. So there you go.

The Hotel Noorla in Ingham has a couple of shipping containers converted into almost quaint hotel rooms. Maybe some entrepreneur should get in and buy the lot of them.

K-Ruddy handout

For those who missed the news today – K-Rudd is giving something back to the workers of Australia. $950 a pop. The comrades in arms who have contributed to our time of economic prosperity. No doubt we’ll also be told to spend this cash to help stimulate the economy.

So now the question is “what to buy” – I wouldn’t mind spending it all on crappy USB products from Hong Kong… but can I suggest that if you want to make a positive contribution to reducing the abortion rate in Australia that you check out Free Money for New Lives a support service for mums who would otherwise have abortions.

The campaign was put together by a bunch of bible college students in Sydney and is a nice way for Christians to do something about the issue rather than picketing clinics where women are making pretty intense emotional decisions and are often close to psychological breaking point.

The group splits contributions between a couple of organisations. One aims to financially help mothers who want to keep their babies but are worried about the cost, and the other is a think tank – the Womens Forum Australia – that:

“works across the usual political and religious divides, to advocate for life affirming, pro-woman alternatives to abortion which would enhance women’s freedom to have their babies.”

In the end probably a much better cause than spending your money at “Brando” – which is a USB gadget seller based in Hong Kong. Spending your money off shore isn’t going to stimulate the economy at all anyway, so K-Rudd wouldn’t endorse that.

Santagram

Uncle Santa needs you
Uncle Santa needs you

According to some Christian’s it’s no coincidence that Santa is an anagram of Satan. My wife doesn’t think fondly of St Nick. Who by all accounts was a lovely guy who anonymously and generously gave to the poor and downtrodden of his community.

There’s a long and passionate debate regarding the evils of Santa – and specifically the evils of teaching your kids about Santa. Is it a lie? Probably. But I’m not overly worried by it – if you’re going to tar all “fiction” with the same brush then go for it. Hate Santa, as much as you hate Harry Potter. Ironically, Harry Potter is probably considered evil by most people who hate Santa.

The other refrain as commonly heard as “Jingle Bells” at this time of year is that Christmas has been commercialised. That commercialisation is evil. That modern Christmas has been stripped of its meaning. Well yes. Christmas is commercial. That’s no reason not to support it. Particularly this year. Christmas means jobs. We’re facing the “economic downturn” since the great depression. Jobs are good. Spending money is good. Do it wisely.

I wonder sometimes if our spirit of Christmas protectionism – it’s our holiday and you guys can only celebrate it if you remember our God – damages what could be a great PR opportunity for the church. People are generally thinking nice things about us Christians at this time of year – we get them a “holy day”, they sing carols that often contain the gospel message. And here’s the church, harping on about commercialisation.

Did you know that in Scotland Christmas was banned for almost 400 years – right up until the early 20th century. In fact – the good old Presbyterians were so keen on the ban, they made their signing of a treaty with England contingent on its introduction there.

Scottish Presbyterians, when called on for support by the Puritans of the English Parliament in 1644, did so on the understanding that their allies would in exchange impose the ban on Christmas. For over a decade traditional English Christmas festivities were prohibited

Really. A ban on Christmas. That’s a public relations disaster. Like the “war on Christmas” being waged throughout churches world wide now.

Christmas in Australia is big business. $37.2 billion worth of business. If you divide that by the average Australian wage – or an aggregated household average wage of $115,000 – that’s 328,000 households who keep their jobs because of Christmas (unless I’ve got my zeroes wrong in the billions bit of the calculation… it’s nine in Australia right?). In very poor economic modelling. Of course, retail workers earn less per hour than the “average wage” – which probably means more jobs rather than less… and because we import a lot of the stuff being bought and sold a lot of the money leaves the country, and trickle down economics is dead… anyway. Christmas means jobs. Christmas means food on the table for families this Christmas.

In a second set of calculations – Mastercard reckons the average Australian spent $800 on Christmas last year. That comes up with a figure about half that of the above methodology. 20 million people, multiplied by $800 is $16 billion, which works out to 320,000 jobs paid at $50,000 per year – nice round figures. Whichever way you look at it – Christmas means jobs.

Unemployment is set to surge. Be a good citizen. Celebrate Christmas in the spirit of St Nick – who gave generously and anonymously. And buy me something useless from here… oh wait, that’s a Japanese site. In a slightly related note – the CASE blog has an interesting post about “ethical shopping” that’s worth taking into account. It’s not that fair trade garbage that has taken over people’s sensibilities when it comes to coffee – it’s just biblical advice for shopping with a clean conscience.

For those of you unconvinced by my argument – or more convinced by this (satire warning) those of you who want your children to believe Santa is evil – here’s an evil Santa generator – if you put pictures of Evil Santa all round your house your child will thank you for it later – and be much less messed up than they would be were they to believe in Santa. What do I know anyway, I’m not a parent yet.

Out on bail

How bout that sub prime mortgage bail out – or not. I see the ASX is down 5.4% already after what I reckon is a good decision from Congress. 

My questions about the bail out are:

why is the government stepping in to assist failing companies rather than failing taxpayers and their mortgages?
why is the government responsible for the economy anyway? I know it’s universally accepted that that’s the case – but why is it so? Why aren’t businesses and industries responsible for the economy? Why is the government blamed when it tanks but ignored while companies take the credit when it grows?
who would be an executive of a global company now when a failure leads to mass losses – perhaps that’s why the salaries and payments are so high…
whose idea were NINJA loans (no income no job)? whose idea was it to call them that? Where did the “A” in the acronym come from?
why would congress pass a bill that the majority of the public think is a bad idea? who does this decision benefit politically?

Lots of questions, no real answers.

Let them eat cake…

While this title refers vaguely to the fact that I had cake to celebrate my birthday at work today (complete with tiara). It’s more to do with the original misquotation of Mary Antoinette.

“Let them eat cake” has been quoted throughout time as fundamental evidence that the elite ruling class is out of touch with the masses. Mary Antoinette was supposedly confronted with the news that her people had no bread to eat – and she infamously replied “qu’ils mangent de la brioche” – wikipedia claims that this quote is in fact a misrepresentation as she was only 10 and living in her native Austria at the time it was documented and was not born when the incident was said to have occurred. Although the quote is not accurate – it represents the disparity between the ruling class of France and its people – a disparity that eventually led to her execution during the French Revolution.

Australia’s politicians and intellectual elite are at the cusp of creating a similar chasm between themselves and those they rule (or us plebs). Fortunately John Howard is the ultimate bridge builder (according to Kevin Rudd he’s built a bridge too far…). I recently subscribed to Crikey – the elite’s trashy gossip magazine. In fact founder Stephen Mayne was at the centre of the Walkley controversy a couple of weeks ago when News Ltd’s political editor Glenn Milne drunkenly attacked him, pushing him off the stage. Through Crikey I’ve discovered a number of blogs where Australia’s “intellectual types” hang out and discuss why the country is going down hill. Left-wing secular humanists (and I think the left wing is tautological at that point) are the most annoying breed of snobs I’ve ever come across. I wish they would die. Or at least stop trying to inflict the rest of the world with their skewed view of logic and reason. Rudd has been simultaneously hailed as an intellectual hero while being shouted down as a man who dares to suggest religion should have some bearing on politics. They can’t have their cake and eat it too.

Rudd is an interesting character. It’s two working weeks since he took the reigns of the Labor party. The opinion polls spiked – as they always do with a new leader (in an interesting aside – it seems a political takeover sends value up, while a when a company takeover occurs the buyer’s share price often drops…), but most political scholars (with bias towards the government) suggest this will stabilise and Rudd will need to do more to actually win the election. The battlegrounds for the next election are in the process of being drawn – Labor will use IR and the environment as their trumps while the government will stick to the flashpoint issues of defining “Australian” and promoting their economic strength. Fortunately for Labor Rudd is a very smart man. Just like Kim Beazley. Unfortunately for Labor, early indications are that Rudd’s intelligence rubs the electorate the wrong way. Rudd has used his first fortnight in the job to position the party philosophically without revealing any major political differences to the previous leadership.

The key to success in Australian politics is engaging the fairly large, educated, middle class with political philosophy that they don’t necessarily care about. Labor needs to pick “wedge” issues that will polarise the populace giving them a majority chunk of voters. The Howard Government has perfected this method. IR and the environment have the potential to do this – but the Howard Government’s issues may be the biggest ace in the pack. Immigration, Australian history, racism and tolerance – they’re all big, divisive issues. To have any chance of winning the next election, and for Rudd to keep his head (in a less literal way than the French royals), Labor and the left needs to realise that a lot of their political postulating isn’t hitting home with the electorate at all. They’re stuck in a philosophical battle while the Liberals are scoring points by applying things where it matters most to the modern Aussie – their sense of “self” and their wallets.

Scroll to Top