In 2008 David Michaels’ published a book – Doubt is their Product How Industry’s Assault on Science Threatens your Health – which was instrumental in the subsequent exposure of the systematic efforts of various industries to raise doubt about the science relating to areas from tobacco to today’s climate change.
Reflecting on when the Prime Minister rang to ask him head the Government’s COVID-19 Task Force Nev Power said he couldn’t refuse the PM – reacting as any responsible citizen would.
He would also have been comfortable knowing he would be surrounded by colleagues from the fossil fuel industries. Although he apparently didn’t feel the need to ask why the majority were representatives of industries –resources and manufacturing – which even combined are not as significant a part of the Australian economy as construction.
It is often easy to imagine that all Americans are unhinged, gun-toting, Bible bashing, conspiracy believers, LBQT+ haters and Trump supporters.
Yet the evidence of some recent polling suggests this is not the case just as various investigative journalists have demonstrated that the ‘popular’ uprisings against lockdowns have been prompted by far-Right wealthy activists, such as the De Vos family, motivating an unrepresentative minority.
While the number of inequality indices and ratios is proliferating there has been less sustained attention to the social costs associated with it.
Perhaps the best response to this absence is the latest book by Princeton Professors Anne Case and Angus Deaton – Deaths of Despair – which analyses the interactions between inequality and the dysfunctional US health system; the decline of unions and the disappearance of manufacturing jobs; predatory behaviour by drug companies; corporate capture of legislative and administrative structures; and, the collapse of traditional community institutions in communities across the US.
Denmark and France are blocking pandemic financial assistance to any firms registered in tax havens.
Meanwhile, in Australia the CEO of EnergyAustralia – a company with a parent company based in the Caribbean – has been appointed to the Reserve Bank of Australia Board of Directors; and, a third of large Australian companies are paying no tax at all with no suggestion by the Morrison Government that any of them will be excluded from pandemic stimulus funds in the way casual and part time workers have been.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s Anzac Day was in decline – a malaise exemplified by Alan Seymour’s play The One Day of the Year.
But in January 1964 a 34 year old ANU historian, Ken Inglis, gave a paper – The Anzac Tradition – at the biennial Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science (ANZAAS) which probably launched a new vision of what Anzac Day was and what it represented.
The phrase ‘only in America’ is one which is deep in possible meanings. In particular it lays itself open to the deconstruction demonstrated in the old Jewish joke about Stalin and Trotsky.
In the joke Stalin is standing on the Lenin mausoleum and announces that he has just received a telegram from Trotsky. He reads it out: “Stalin. You were right and I was wrong. You are the true heir of Lenin. I should apologise. Trotsky”
When Jack Welch, the former GE CEO dubbed Neutron Jack, died at 84 it may have been the passing of one of the ugliest faces in capitalism but not the end of the ugly form of capitalism he represented.
During his career he was lauded as a business genius and leader but behind the hype was a different story. Debt-fuelled growth; massaged GE’s earnings to hide systemic company weaknesses; a ‘rank and yank’ personnel philosophy which led to the systematic firing of 10% of those deemed to be the company’s weakest performers each year; a key division, GE Capital, a basket case which had to be rescued during the GFC and then be quietly put down after credit card and other scandals; and, the final reward for all this – a severance of payment of $US417 million.
Ted Egan has pointed out that the blog got the name of the song We are Australian wrong by adding an s. Now corrected. The blog’s slightly derogatory comment about the Bruce Woodley song also attracted some criticism.
The song’s ubiquity contrasts with the reality that there are still lots of knuckle-dragging Australian flag cape-wearing Aussies who probably deeply distrust many of the sentiments in the lyrics.
It is frequently asserted that if you change the government you change the country. But perhaps the assertion that if you change the government you also change the way the media – particularly the Murdoch media – reports on a government’s policies might be more apposite in Australia.
Just how apposite can be shown by a comparison of the NewsCorp coverage of the Rudd and Morrison stimuli. Some research commissioned from the invaluable media monitoring and analysis service, Mediaverse, vividly demonstrates the phenomenon.