China

Post #48 – Clinton has declared an ‘Information War’, but who’s the enemy?

State-sponsored news channels like Al-Jazeera and RT are contributing to widespread repercussions that go beyond that of the family lounge room. The question is, what are those repercussions? After all, it’s only a TV show, right?

When defending the growing budget of the State Department, United States Secretary of State and current Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton proclaimed that America is in the midst of “an information war, and we are losing that war”. She specifically singled out the predominantly state-funded cable news channels Al-Jazeera, RT (Russia Today) and CCTV (China Central Television) as competitors in this war for the ‘hearts and minds’ of the masses. Within the last twenty-five years, countries that can be classified as ‘non-democratic’ have produced and disseminated cable news channels that can be broadcast across the entirety of the globe. These state-sponsored news channels are challenging traditional media organisations in breadth, prestige and influence. The implications of this steady rise in cable news channels materialising from non-democratic nation-states is both reflexive and consequential of a changing economical, political, technological and cultural environment.

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Post #43 – 10 Myths of the Australian Housing Market

Every time I try to suggest to my family and friends that the Australian housing market is in a bubble – the likes of which no developed Western nation has ever seen before – I’m dismissed as a bit of a ‘crackpot’. Amongst the sneers and chuckles, I’m told that the Australian housing market is ‘different’. Yes, different. What makes it ‘different’ is something nobody can really tell me – but here are a few of the excuses I’ve heard:

ARGUMENT 1: WE’VE GOT BIG HOUSESLargest in the world by some counts. According to our former Treasurer Joe Hockey, this means that Australia has a fundamentally different ‘asset’ class. Here’s exactly what he said:

A lot of Australians put a lot of new capital into their homes – renovate their homes, upgrade their homes – and we have the largest homes on average perhaps in the Western World, and the world more generally. So it’s a very different asset class in Australia than in other jurisdictions.

This means, naturally, we have to pay more for our houses – because they’re bigger than everyone else’s.

DEBUNKED: Hockey is correct in saying that a bigger house costs more than a smaller house. However, it doesn’t excuse why a median house price in Sydney is $1 million, whilst in Houston, a city of comparable size and wealth, it’s about $US146,600. Americans tend to challenge us for the title of most obnoxiously big houses in the Western world, so we’d hope to see some correlation there. But we don’t, the maths just simply doesn’t add up.

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Post #39 – How Skype Helps Large Mining Companies Not Give A Shit

I have family and friends alike who have been fortunate enough to cash-in on Australia’s mining boom. Even though it looks like the ‘boom’ might finally be petering out, there’s still money to be made. But the golden goose doesn’t seem to be laying the golden eggs anymore… and I personally blame Skype.

You see, Skype and other forms of new technology have helped the mining industry break barriers that have existed ever since this country has had white folk in it. These barriers have been…

  • Isolation – Australia is a fucking big country. Its vast distances meant that a mining town (i.e. Broken Hill or Ballarat) was permanent and therefore needed investment and infrastructure. Otherwise labour wouldn’t be enticed to live and work near or at the mines.
  • Community – This investment fostered a sense of community and camaraderie in these mining towns, so much so that the employees banded together.
  • The Workers – United together they formed associations and unions to increase economic and political influence for the betterment of their lot in life, their community, and last but not least…
  • The Nation – The royalties, tax collection and economic stimulation played a large part in making Australia one of the richest and opulent nations’ the world has ever seen.

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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 #24 – Are Countries With Nukes Really Trying To Save The World?

The Doomsday Clock, devised by the Chicago-based Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, now stands at three minutes to midnight, or doomsday. It has been adjusted 18 times since its creation in 1947. It has been set as close as two minutes to midnight, in 1953 when the United States tested a hydrogen bomb, and as far as 17 minutes from midnight, in 1991 as the Cold War expired.

Congratulations earthlings, as of the 23rd January 2015, we’re now only ‘three minutes’ away to literally wiping ourselves off the face of the earth! This is mostly due to the threat of nuclear annihilation (sprinkled with a bit of catastrophic climate change doom and gloom) because of our presumed inability to keep our finger off the red button. However, the big and muscly nations of the world see the whole matter differently – they’re turning back the clock, just like the very curious case that involved that Benjamin Button fellow. The great powers’ would like you to believe that their actions help it from striking midnight – and how could you not trust the sincerity of characters like Putin and Xi Jinping? That’s why they introduced the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT), an international treaty drawn up by the great powers’ (Nuclear Weapon States or NWS) with the advertised intention of promoting nuclear disarmament and promoting the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Nice bunch of guys just trying to protect the world, right? Well no, not really. The designated nuclear weapon states of China, France, Russia, the U.K and the U.S.A (NWS) finalised their implementation of the NPT by 1970, and continue their support in maintaining a tight control over who and ultimately who cannot attain nuclear weapons. For an example, look at all the current hoo-ha over Iran. This is in an era where everybody wants the bomb – from North Korea, to ISIS and the nice old lady next door. So I’m going to look at four main reasons why they want to keep nuclear weapons from being handed around like a pack of gum at an MDMA-fueled rave, and not all of them are as pure and altruistic as you may think.
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Post #10 – When Should I Start Learning Mandarin in Preparation for My Chinese Overlords’ Arrival? Pt. 2

In my last post we were looking at China. We’ll probably continue that trend because, well, that’s what we agreed upon… and I’m a man of my word. I’d hate to leave you all in suspense. Let’s pick up where we left off: China and resources; this time around we begin by looking at that sticky icky stuff again (however we’ll get to the people of China very soon).

Oil has been called ‘the life-blood of the global economy’ – and for no small reason. It has, more than any other resource on earth, played a pivotal role in the great economic transformation that included an explosion in wealth and population growth across the globe over the last 150 years. However, unlike the U.S.A which founded most of its military and economic strength off of its oil wealth in the early 20th century, China “is already dependent on external sources for 54% of its oil, and many experts predict it will be the world’s largest importer of oil by 2025”. As noted before though, China’s “increasing dependence on external sources of energy has led it to befriend any number of authoritarian regimes…” meaning for the foreseeable future, a steady stream of oil is guaranteed. When China has turned to its’ immediate region to lock in future oil supplies (more…)

Post #9 – When Should I Start Learning Mandarin in Preparation for My Chinese Overlords’ Arrival? Pt. 1

You’ve probably all heard that the 19th century was the ‘British century’ and the 20th was the ‘American century’ – but who gets to call dibs on the 21st century? China is the front-runner, but I’m here to explain why you don’t have to start learning Mandarin in anticipation of your eastern overlords juuuust yet. With the Chinese economy expected to eclipse that of the world’s sole superpower – America – possibly as early as next year, China seems like a safe bet at the moment to kick arse this century. But to equate current bullish economic growth and substantial international political sway with a direct association to a ‘Chinese Century’ would mean you’re ignoring a key proponent of their current position in the world – resources. So unlike the British Empire of the 19th century and the American domination of the 20th century, I’m willing to argue that the 21st century will not belong to China. That’s right – you’ve heard it here first ladies and gentlemen! I believe the battle of resources in a world of dwindling supplies will be China’s ‘Achilles heel’ and will eventually lead to them conceding that not only does this century not belong to them – but that it won’t really belong to anybody. To prove my point, I’m going to look at China’s heavy reliance on non-renewable resources such as coal, oil and uranium. I’m also going to argue that China’s ability to manage human ‘resources’ and geopolitical relations in an increasingly hostile region of the world is probably all going to go to shit sometime soonish. China’s capacity to deal with the natural resources of water and food will also be explored in this era of climate change, pollution and decreasing biodiversity. Lastly, I’m going to show my lovely readers (that’s you… yes you!) that all these issues presented will lead to China – the world’s largest exporter of goods – decreasing their output to the rest of the world, thereby reinforcing a vicious feedback loop of diminishing returns and turmoil at home. This will inevitably result in a decrease in relative economic and political power and thus cut the balls off any argument that this is truly China’s century.

Over the last few years, China’s economy has been growing at eight percent or more per year; that means it is more than doubling in size every eight years. That’s pretty damn impressive. In stark contrast, the economies of Europe and America have seen stagnation, contractions and patchy economic growth – particularly since the Global Financial Crisis of 2007-8. If there was ever a chance for China (more…)

Post #2 – Everybody Loves Bishop

So one thing that has really surprised me about the eventual demise of the federal Liberal party is the unwavering support Julie Bishop maintains amongst the electorate. She is not just begrudgingly tolerated by the electorate like Bill Shorten is, she is loved – adored by many for her truly intimidating stare and gruff attitude to former Commies in China and Russia. Those on the Left don’t seem to be bothered hating on her too much. Why would you – when you have a smorgasbord of rotting cheeses to peg your nose at in the fashion of Palmer, Abetz, Andrews, Brandis and Pyne? With the sniff of a Cabinet reshuffle and the talk (I dare to even mention it, but I must) that our dear leader may not even see out a full term, the enemies of the government have bigger fish to fry.

On this point, I tend to agree with them. She has made very few missteps, but that is only in comparison to her Coalition colleagues. Analyse Bishop as a singular, unitary actor though, and you realise (more…)