Post #38 – Common Sense (or Lack Thereof… ) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership

After being under wraps for over five years, it arrived a couple of days ago. The long-awaited full text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was released to the general public… and it’s fucking huge. Like, literally huge (30 Chapters all up). Across the expanse of the Pacific, people have been trying to sift through the text and figure out what it has in store for all of us… and thus far, it’s not pretty. But the question is, what can we make of it all? Well, the TPP signifies a new era in free-trade agreements, in that “the agreement goes beyond traditional trade issues such as tariffs and import quotas and includes giveaways to powerful business lobbies”. It’s a new kind of monster, the likes of which we have never seen before.

WHY THE HOSTILITY, MAN?: This is why the TPP faces such stiff opposition – both here in Australia and abroad. But like other things we the people despise, it will most likely pass into law across the Pacific over the next year or so. There’s a feeling of inevitability and helplessness wrapped up in these convoluted and secretive trade agreements our governments keep buying in to.

There was a man who understood better than most why we accept these bullshit trade agreements, and he died in the process of essentially, calling ‘a spade a spade’. He was a visionary in (more…)

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Post #37 – Hillary Clinton Is Like That Aussie Ice-Skater Who Shouldn’t Have Won That Gold Medal But Did…

I want you to think back to 2002, specifically the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics in the good ol’ U.S of A. We Australians are pretty shithouse at any winter sports (due to our lack of snow and ice) but we also love any and all competition. For example, we’ll jump at the opportunity to turn two flies climbing up a wall into a contest. We’re frequently referred to as a ‘sports mad‘ nation, and the Winter Olympics is no exception to this. We don’t understand half the fucking ‘sports’ that are being contested, but we’ll watch in wonderment anyway – because that’s how we roll.

Now when it specifically came to the 2002 Winter Olympics, we didn’t really have high hopes. We’d never won a gold medal at a Winter Olympics and to be honest the team we sent over weren’t predicted to be bringing much of anything back other than some STDs, some souvenirs and some killer hang-overs.

But then a saviour came along – an accidental hero. His name was Steven Bradbury. (more…)

Post #36 – Why We Should Ban Credit Derivatives

I think we should ban credit derivates. In fact, on one occasion they nearly got me killed. But just what are derivates, and why are they so bad? Well… I’ll get to that in a minute.

To keep this post as deriveting (ha!) as possible, I’m going to adopt at least one more bad pun and pop culture references to illustrate my point. I believe there are six major reasons we need to ban credit derivates – and those points are as follows:

  1. The first is the obvious detriment of counter-party risks.
  2. The second is that they are a sneaky way to hide credit risks from the markets.
  3. The third argument will revolve around regulation being good-for-nothing.
  4. The forth will be an examination of morals (i.e. that thing bankers don’t have) and how credit derivatives play to our worst characteristics.
  5. My fifth point will focus on how these ‘weapons of mass destruction’ as Warren Buffett refers to them – play a major role in the financialisation of labour and the further commodification of the working class.
  6. Last but not least… payback. The conglomerates involved in credit derivatives, and let’s look at the big picture here – there are only a few major players in the game – refused. (more…)

Post #35 – The Language Used to Sell us the TPP and Other Shitty ‘Free Trade’ Agreements

The famous American philosopher and essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson once said that…

Language is a city to the building of which every human being brought a stone

That was in 1876. Today, I reckon Ralph might agree with me that large multinational corporations are on the brink of buying up all those ‘stones’. You see, language is no longer simply a form of communication between us common folk – it is a tool. As with any tool, it can be used for good… or evil. Contemporary ‘free-trade’ agreements, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) demonstrate the latter.

From his self-imposed refuge inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, the whistle-blowing Wikileaks founder Julian Assange recently railed against this new global ‘free-trade’ agreement by calling it out for what it is. He proclaimed in succinct and somber terms that…

if you read, write, publish, think, listen, dance, sing or invent; if you farm or consume food; if you’re ill now or might one day be ill, the TPP has you in its crosshairs

With Abbott and Co. close to signing an agreement that you and I have no control over (or that most Aussies have never heard of), but that the largest corporations in the world were brought to the negotiating table for – you have to ask yourself, ‘how’d they get away with it?’. It’s nothing to worry about according to Tony Abbott, we’re just ‘open for business!‘ –  but what does this phrase, and others like it, really mean?
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Post #34 – GST From the Perspective of a Fluffy, Comfy Pillow

Hi there, I’m a pillow. Mr Comfy McPillow to be exact.

You may know me from mundane life experiences such as sleeping, providing comfort and support for a Netflix binge, or a weapon to whack someone over the head with when on camping trips. However you decide to remember me, I know you reminisce of me fondly. In fact, you may be taking comfort from me right now.

My mates and I come in all shapes and sizes plus a multitude of different designs, forms and levels of softness. Sometimes we’re just for decoration, sometimes we’re ergonomically designed for therapeutic needs. Occasionally we’re stuffed with something called memory foam, or feathers, or possibly latex and we can even assist with circulation and a good nights sleep. So yeah, we do heaps of cool shit.

But what’s the best part about being a pillow? I cater for everybody! ‘Leave no weary head behind!’, I always say. Whether you’re young or old, black or white, male or female, rich or poor – I’m there for you, I’ve got your fucking back. Literally!
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Post #33 – How Australia Can Avoid Being the Next Greece and Create a ‘Good Society’ Pt. 2

As noted by journalist John Kelly in a recent article,

Just in case anyone hasn’t noticed, our economy, the former darling of the OECD, is fast becoming a basket case.

There’s probably no need to be that dramatic, but us Aussies have some tough hurdles coming up. Now Benjamin Franklin once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome. So I present an alternative: Part. II. Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty, shall we?

As stated in my previous post, the economy in my society will be structured along socialist lines and all economic ‘enterprises’ would be either self-employed individuals, worker-owned cooperatives or in rare cases state owned corporations. This would predominantly apply to public utilities or monopolized entities (rail, water & road infrastructure, electricity generation, waste management etc).

So in regards to the two former enterprises listed, I would argue that the goods produced and the services provided will belong to the individuals (or ‘the collective’ in regards to a co-op) who actually do the work. Under a capitalist system the owner of the capital exploits the labour of the workers and the natural environment for their own personal gain; in a socialist economy it will be cemented in law that there is a distinction between ownership of a company’s profits and ownership of a company’s capital goods.

So what this means is that anyone who works to produce those profits owns a share in them – but (more…)

Post #32 – How Australia Can Avoid Being the Next Greece and Create a ‘Good Society’ Pt. 1

Tony Abbott has stated a couple of times recently that if Australia doesn’t change course we’re destined to adopt a ‘Greek-style economic future‘ (i.e. contraction, stagnation etc.), pointing to his ‘deficit reduction’ as the remedy. Sadly his efforts are falling well short due to the fact he’s actually DOUBLED the deficit since coming to power. But never mind that embarrassing fact for the moment, I actually agree with Abbott – we are heading towards a social and economic calamity in this country sometime in the near future. But it won’t be the result of a trifle amount of debt left by his political fore-bearers. Oh no, it’s much worse…

It’s much more likely the economic impacts of a rapid deflation of housing and asset bubbles, the cooling of the Chinese economy, the very real possibility of further turmoil in Europe, the ramifications of peak oil, an ageing population, food and water shortages coupled with a dramatic decrease in biodiversity and the collapse of ecosystems, the end of the mining boom or the compounding effects of climate change will challenge not just our current economic system, but the very fabric of society itself in the next couple of decades. So what is one to do when faced with such challenges? Since most of the problems listed are not only the product but a result of capitalism, it would seem odd to suggest that ‘more’ capitalism would be the answer. We need to think outside the box…
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Post #31 – Externalities and a Nasty Shit

Have you ever done one of those turds where you’re scared to wipe your arse afterwards? I have – and my inner monologue usually goes something like this whilst my pants are around my ankles and I’m breaking out in a sweat:

Jesus what did I eat? Is it… is it bleeding? This surely isn’t normal… ohh God I think I need a doctor… Ohh man, I feel like I’m shitting out a whole steak! I don’t even eat steak! Is there something wrong with my sphincter? Is that what it’s called… a sphincter? It’s literally just falling out of me now, it’s like a waterfall – this is so wrong! OK… catch your breath (don’t breathe too deeply though, it smells like death in here) the worst is over. It’s done. Finished.

Ohhh man, here we go again…! How is this possible? Oh Lord, why have you forsaken me!?!

And so it continues…

Everybody’s been there, and I can guarantee you that no one enjoys the experience. It’s one of the saddest jokes of life that we can put a man on the moon but we can’t yet pump out a poop without the possibility of the process ending in tears.
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Post #30 – I Want To Apologise For ‘Fat-Shaming’

You might have missed it the other day, but someone in our Parliament’s Question Time actually put two-and-two together and queried something that I thought was painstakingly obvious. Greens Senator Larissa Waters questioned whether our ‘mad monk’ Prime Minister Tony Abbott (and other Catholic ministers like him) should pay attention to their most holy of bae’s when the Pope says it’s their moral duty to act on climate change.

The response to her queries went a little like this:

– Firstly, nobody even attempted to answer her question

– Then Attorney-General George Brandis labelled the question ‘disgusting’ (seemingly ignoring the irony of calling others actions disgusting whilst his own party does it’s own disgusting things like politicise a terrorist attack, or brush off the sexual abuse of children under their care… ya know, that kinda shit)
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Post #29 – The Real Reason Tony Abbott Hates Wind Turbines

Over the summer I drove past the Hazelwood coal-powered plant and adjacent open coal pit on the way to Melbourne. After Clive Palmers defunct Coolum Dinosaur Resort I’d have to say the Hazelwood power-station may just be the most hideous, ugly, obnoxious and downright backwards landmark in Australia. However, there are some amongst us who don’t seem to have a problem with coal-fired power stations at all. They happen to be the ones in control.

So when you think of coal-powered stations, the words ‘ugly’, ‘noisy’ and ‘visually awful’ are usually descriptive terms that spring to mind… unless you’re Tony Abbott. He’d rather apply such language to wind farms. You see, the captain of Team Australia really hates them, forcing commentators to come to the logical conclusions that he’s either in the pockets of Big Coal, a climate change sceptic or just simply an idiot. But the truth is actually a lot more simpler than that. He hates wind turbines for what they stand for, for what they represent. Let me explain… (more…)