Friday, 29 May 2009

The Stupidest Show on Earth

Richard Dawkins is planning on releasing a new book in September. Entitled "The Greatest Show on Earth", the book intends to specify the evidence in favor of the theory of evolution by natural selection. I know I'm bound to read that book and enjoy it, but if you were to ask me one can have a look at Australian politics and gather all the evidence they would ever need there instead of reading the book. The level in which the Australian political discussion is being held is so low it crushes any argument for superiority we humans might claim over our fellow apes. Australian politics is, to me, the stupidest show on earth.

Check out the current discussion about budgets and debt, triggered by the Labor government's budget proposal that goes for a severe deficit by Australian terms (not, however, by international terms). Since its inception, the budget has been attacked by the opposition (the Liberal party) for the debt it would create. They, the Liberals, claim the budget would put every newborn Australian at an immediate state of debt. The problem is that this Liberal spin is propagating; you can hear these otherwise intelligent people go on talking about how Labor puts Australians in debt and blah blah blah. I am just amazed at people's lack of capacity to think for themselves.
First of all, what is the Liberal alternative? What would they do to avoid getting into debt? Oh yes, I get it: they'll cut down on education and cut down on health and cut down on public transport, like they always did. That would be great, won't it? Won't we just love to bring a baby into this world knowing they'd be dumb and sick instead of in debt?
Second, and more importantly, what is it that is so bad about being in debt? Show me a company that does not manage itself into a small level of debt and I'll show you a mismanaged company (and most Liberal members, millionaires at birth, will know that). Companies need to go into debt so they can leverage their investments to the full. It works at the personal level, too: most of us have or had mortgages, which put us in severe debt. I know we took upon ourselves a mortgage the size of four yearly net incomes, a debt proportion much bigger than the Australian government's one. Yet we don't stay awake at night worrying about putting our son in debt, because we know that we should be able to pay it back and we know that we have invested the money so our son can have a roof over his head. A debt that puts in place good infrastructure for future growth is a good debt.
The real question the Labor government should be asked is what it is, exactly, they intend to do with the debt. That is where Labor stumbles, yet that is where the Liberals fail to punch because they know they don't stand for anything better.
Take, for example, Labor's proposal to build a fast broadband network at a cost of 43 billion dollars. I'm the last person to object to a faster internet, but I like to know where my money goes and why when I spend $43, not to mention 43 billion; the government has thus far refused to specify the cost breakdown and to show us any cost/benefit analysis. Like other projects taken on by our distinguished government, it all smells to me as if it was planned on the back of a napkin in some shoddy meeting at a dark venue. The stench of corruption is in the air.

The story continues with the Labor government's proposal for tackling global warming. The budget's allocation towards new energy sources gives two billion to that major euphemism of so called "clean coal", a technology that never worked, and only a bit more than a million towards proper renewable energy (a technology that did a superb job on planet earth for 5 billion years and counting). Let's not get into the money allocated for old style energy sources, aka fossil fuels; I don't want to start crying.
As far as emission reduction is concerned, their plan is to reduce emissions by a measly 5% off 2000's emissions (the rest of the world measures from 1990) or 25% in case of a worldwide agreement. Yet what are the chances of a worldwide agreement taking place when countries like North Korea are still busy blowing nuclear weapons? And what good will a 5% emission reduction do?
The reduction is to be performed through an emissions trading scheme, a methodology that already proved disastrous in countries where it was implemented (e.g., Europe); it proved to serve only the middlemen who made a bucket load of money from trading emission certificates, but it didn't prove to be too effective in actual emissions reduction. What should prove effective is a carbon tax, but then again we've already established the Australian government is corrupt and is worried more about its friends making money rather than truly addressing global warming.
Once again, the Liberal party is no better. A significant portion of its dominant members are actually openly skeptic about this whole global warming thing to begin with, which raises the question of how rational these people with the claim to power are; if the pile of evidence in favor of global warming does not convince them, then what does? The answer is, sadly, greed and religious dogma.

Let me tell you how Australia's global warming story is going to start and end.
One day, the USA will finally make up its mind about what it wants to achieve in the global warming department. They'll come up with a plan to reduce emissions. The next day, Australia will get the marching orders. And let's be clear about it: Australia will march.
The question is, why does Australia have to wait for the American piper? Why can't we take the initiative to put ourselves in a better position rather than lag behind?
To the realistic in me the solution is clear. I didn't vote for the guy, but effectively he's my president, so I will call on him: Help us, Obama Wan Kenobi. You're our only hope.

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