archive: January 2021

12 January 2021

Fintan O’Toole: “This was never a dark conspiracy. It was an undisguised insurrection. Trump’s one great virtue is his openness. On September 23rd, asked whether he would ‘commit here today for a peaceful transferral of power after the November election’, Trump replied, ‘Get rid of the [mail-in] ballots and you’ll have a very peaceful — there won’t be a transfer, frankly. There will be a continuation.’ What more did anyone want? Read his lips: there will be no peaceful transition of power. Like every other autocrat, Trump understood the sole purpose of an election as the endorsement of his rule. Any other possibility could not be entertained. Almost the entire Republican Party went along with this declaration of war on the democratic process; a majority of its congressional delegation actively supported it. And nearly 75 million people voted for Trump in the full knowledge that he would never, ever, accept the result of the election unless he won. … This was not a rush of blood to the head. It is the logic of a post-democratic Republican Party that has given up hope of being able to win a majority in fair presidential elections. Nor is this a passing phase. Even after the mob stormed the Capitol, a majority of Republican members of the House, including House minority leader Kevin McCarthy and House minority whip Steve Scalise, voted in support of Trump’s bogus claims that Arizona’s election results must be invalidated. The only surprise about what happened on Wednesday, therefore, is that anyone can claim to be surprised. What do they think a post-democratic political party looks like?”

7 January 2021

David Hayward on the fruits of neoliberal privatisation: “What might once have been delivered by public servants paid and educated rather well has been replaced by a privatised system using a largely casualised workforce that is undoubtedly underpaid. Aged care and child care are other examples, where governments provide most of the cash used by privates and not-for-profits to pay workers, cover costs, pay management and in some cases deliver to shareholders a nice return. They might be government funded, but they get classified as private firms. They often use silly names that hide the identity of the actual owner and are often as interested in making a buck from property development as much as they are from the services that are meant to be their main concern. Their often male owners and managers get paid handsomely, while their typically female workforce stays underpaid. … The idea was to use private sector efficiency to deliver government services better than before. It never occurred to advocates that wage cuts are not an efficiency gain at all. It never occurred to reformers that markets bring with them marketing departments whose purpose is to sell, and that it is in the sales effort, not service delivery, that private sector providers often excel. We now spend far more on rent assistance, negative gearing and other tax breaks for private landlords than we ever did on public housing. But we have no public assets to show for it, most tenants endure unaffordable and insecure housing, and homelessness is still rife. Private balance sheets have been beefed up at the expense of the public purse.”

6 January 2021

Dennis Altman: “It is a myth, assiduously pushed by Joel Fitzgibbon and his supporters, that Labor needs to calibrate its climate and energy policies to attract voters dependent on coal and gas production. This might be true in half a dozen federal electorates, including Fitzgibbon’s own seat of Hunter. But an examination of election results from last year suggests a quite different picture. Of the 20 most marginal government seats all but four are essentially metropolitan, spread across all mainland capital cities. The most marginal of the lot, Bass, is centred on the city of Launceston; the only regional Queensland seat now in play is Leichhardt, centred on Cairns, where there was a slight swing to Labor unlike the rest of coastal Queensland. Because Morrison has been so effective a politician, we forget that he holds government with a majority of three, although this includes the five from minor parties and independents. The emphasis on Labor’s appalling performance in Queensland disguises the reality that had Labor performed as well in other capital cities as it did in Melbourne it would have won a comfortable majority. Even in Queensland there are more marginal seats to be captured in Brisbane than in the regions.” Sadly, the dim bulbs in the Otis Group are impervious to reality.