Common Sense Dies Here #14

Welcome to Common Sense Dies Here #14, your tax dollars at work. A bloody waste, isn’t it?

David Leyonhjelm expressed similar sentiments about Labor’s plan to make $21 million available over 4 years for live broadcasting of women’s sport. Dave claimed “If it is not popular enough to be shown on television, why is it OK to spend taxpayers’ money on it? “, adding “Women’s sports are not shown on television for a reason — they are not appealing to audiences. Money won’t change that”. Firstly, money and coverage means improved resources and increased attention. If, as Dave implied, women’s sport is boring, more money and people wanting to participate is likely to improve the standard over time. Secondly, the relative lack of interest in women’s sport is partially due to the sort of thinking that Dave is perpetuating: that sport is the territory of men, and therefore, women’s sport isn’t worth any attention. Lastly, it may be anathema to a libertarian like Dave, but part of the ABC’s purpose is to broadcast things that are reflective of the national identity and diversity of the community, regardless of commercial viability. Ill defined as it may be, a love of sport is generally considered part of Australia’s national identity, and women make up a sizeable part of the community.

Unsurprisingly for someone generally so hostile to taxation, Dave was also caught out proposing to pay a social media specialist cash in hand, so as to “ignore tax”. In the leaked email in question, Dave claimed this was because placing the employee on the “taxpayer’s payroll” would be “a lot of paperwork”. Bloody red tape, eh? While no one enjoys paperwork, with his particularly intense aversion to it, Dave may have picked the wrong career. That being said, he seems to have no problem filling out the paperwork when it comes to claiming entitlements.

Other leaked documents suggest Dave and his mates are equally as dismissive of anti bribery laws. The documents reveal that Liberal Democrat candidate in SA, Roostam Sadri, offered $500,000 for the top position on one of the party’s Senate tickets. Though Sadri and the Liberal Democrats denied following through on the agreement, they both admitted donations were made, and Sadri has rather conveniently become the party’s only candidate in SA. Two experts claimed this may amount to a breach of electoral law. Professor Graeme Orr said “On its face, there may be two ‘electoral bribery’ offences. There doesn’t need to be a finalised agreement”. While Professor George Williams asserted “It seems extraordinary to me. It’s the sort of thing that should not be happening in our democracy and if it’s not proscribed by law, it should be”. I assume Roostam Sadri and the Liberal Democrats consider such laws part of the “bureaucratic red tape” that inspired Sadri to join the party. These pen pushing bureacrats interfering with people’s attempts to buy their way into positions of power, it’s like bloody Soviet Russia!

Just as the Liberal Democrats go on and on about red tape, Cory Bernardi once again bleated about those nasty “social justice warriors” restricting his freedom. Fighting for social justice, what bastards. It must be really oppressive being a senator, who, despite fringe views, is still able to substantially influence government policy. To make his point, Cory linked to an article by misogynist and self described “neo-masculinist”, Daryush Valizadeh, someone that the government has previously talked about banning from Australia. When people pointed this out, Cory said finding the individual article “interesting” didn’t amount to an endorsement of Valizadeh’s other views. Let’s look at a passage from that “interesting” article:

“Social justice warriors believe in an extreme left-wing ideology that combines feminism, progressivism and political correctness into a totalitarian system that attempts to censor speech and promote fringe lifestyles while actively discriminating against men, particularly white men. They are the internet activist arm of Western progressivism that acts as a vigilante group to ensure compliance and homogeny of far left thought.”

Wait, so progressivism is part of the far left? Vague though the term may be, it has only ever been associated with politicians in the centre. Then there’s the tired old accusation that attacking someone’s viewpoint amounts to censoring it. These reactionaries don’t seem to understand how free speech works. Having the right to an opinion isn’t the same as the right to have that opinion respected. The idea that accepting “fringe lifestyles”(because, of course, people like Cory and Daryush are the normal, mainstream ones) amounts to promotion of them is equally laughable. Is Daryush’s website called “Return of Kings” because it displays the sort of idiocy that generations of inbreeding and a general disconnect from reality must have brought about in many historical monarchs?

Showing what a modern, forward thinking guy he is, Mal Turnbull headlined a fundraiser at Cory’s Conservative Leadership Foundation this week. Despite that heartwarming show of unity, it’s not all smiles in the Liberal party, with murmurs of disapproval over proposed changes to superannuation taxation. This dissatisfaction was publicly expressed by Libs affiliated think, the Institute of Public Affairs. Engaging in the sort of measured analysis employed by Cory, the IPA compared the government with Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn, accusing them of unfairly preying on the wealthy. Yep, the same defenceless wealthy that will benefit more from the budget than Australia’s poorest people. The mistreated richest 20 percent that, according to ACOSS, increased their wealth 28 percent between 2004 and 2012. In the same period, the poorest 20 percent greedily increased theirs by 3 percent. How dare Chairman Mal marginally impinge on the wealthy’s ability to use super for tax avoidance!

While the IPA expressed misgivings over treatment of the rich, Labor was upset over it’s depiction by the Vote Compass of it’s supposed media wing, the ABC. On penalty rates, Labor objected to the suggestion it only “somewhat agrees” with the statement “People who work on a Sunday should get paid more than people who work on a Saturday”. So, they’ve expressed support for Sunday penalty rates, but in fear of being depicted (further) as a bunch of raging commies, said they’d do nothing if the Fair Work Commission lowered them to the rate of Saturday penalty rates. “Somewhat agrees” sounds about right.

They felt their commitment was similarly understated by claims that they only “somewhat agree” with the idea “Boats carrying asylum seekers should be turned back”. Since the small amount of Labor parliamentarians and candidates that have expressed concern with boat turnbacks have no bearing on the party’s official support for the policy, they might have a point here. Frankly though, it just goes to show how willing they are to cater to the fears and desires of bigots.

ABC agreed to cater to the fears and desires of Labor on one issue. On the view “Marriage should only be between a man and a woman”, “somewhat disagree” was amended to “strongly disagree”. Still, some might suggest that allowing Labor parliamentarians to vote against same sex marriage for the next 2 parliamentary terms does only amount to somewhat disagreeing.

Attempting to reinforce the aforementioned depiction of Labor as raging commies, Mal claimed that Labor’s opposition to the majority of proposed company tax cuts is a declaration of war on business. Mal said of Short William “He’s taking a thoroughly anti-business approach and that can only lead to slower economic growth, a weaker economy, weaker revenues for the government, tax revenues for the government and less money to spend on schools and hospitals”. Of course, no evidence has actually been provided that these cuts will substantially increase growth, and the around $50 billion lost from the budget over 10 years because of them is a solid example of policy that will leave less money to spend on schools and hospitals. Analysis by Mal’s former employer, Goldman Sachs, raises further questions about the cuts, suggesting that 60 percent of the benefits will flow to offshore investors. Mal has attempted to sidestep such concerns by talking up the benefits of the package for local small businesses, but the Council of Small Business of Australia predicts that only 40,000 of 870,000 small businesses will use the money to expand. So, essentially it’s a policy which delivers larger profits to business, with little evidence of meaningful societal benefit. It seems less like Labor have declared war on business, and more like Mal has declared war on the truth.

Moving on to Europe’s escalating war on refugees, a British Tory MEP has called on the continent to follow Australia’s lead. Daniel Hannan, who also labelled Tony Abbott a “great man”, said “I think Australia handled that issue with amazing success, there hasn’t been a single death by drowning since the boats started being turned back”. Just deaths and ruined lives in Australian run prison camps, and those operated by people smugglers, on boats and in the jungle. If, as such disingenuous rhetoric makes out, this is actually about preventing tragedies at sea, then the same resources needed to intercept and turn back boats can also be used to prevent deaths without selfishly rejecting or punishing desperate people.

Unfortunately, an alleged terror plot in Germany involving 2 Syrians who used migration flows to enter Europe, will likely be used by people like Dan to further their agenda. Not only does typecasting all migrants as a threat greatly overstate the number of jihadists that have taken advantage of the current refugee crisis, it also ignores the fact that even a country like Germany, which didn’t take part in the Iraq War, and was initially welcoming to refugees, happily sells arms to oppressive Middle Eastern regimes, and therefore holds a level of responsibility for the region’s instability.

Speaking of which, the family of an innocent taxi driver, Mohammad Azam, killed in the drone strike on Taliban leader, Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, have sought criminal charges against the US government. The US is yet to acknowledge that Azam was killed in the attack, and while they depicted Mansoor’s death as a victory, it may have damaged chances for peace talks with the Taliban. Also, even ignoring the morality, continued civilian deaths can only add to anti Western sentiment

Such operations look likely to continue whoever wins, but in the US presidential race, everyone’s favourite nightmare, Donald Trump, has received some encouragement. Despite initially criticising Trump, House speaker, Paul Ryan, endorsed him this week, explaining”we have more common ground than disagreement”. I assume the disagreement is about just how forthright one should be in expressing bigotry. Don received another endorsement from North Korean state media, which labelled him a “wise politician” and “far-sighted candidate”, while criticising “dull Hillary”. Right…

The man often referred to as the Phillipine’s answer to Donald Trump, Rodrigo Duterte, this week added journalists to his list of people it’s ok to kill. Rod told journos “you won’t be killed if you don’t do anything wrong”, but claimed many have “done something wrong”. In the same press conference, Rod also wolf whistled a female journalist that was attempting to ask about his cabinet. What a classy guy, eh? Though if his previous rape jokes are anything to go by, I’m sure he thinks she was asking for it.

While many compare Don and Rod to the Nazis, head of the Australian Christian Lobby, Lyle Shelton, has attempted to draw a parallel between the rise of Hitler and growing societal acceptance of the LGBTI people. Though Lyle said “I am not saying people who dissent to today’s cultural and political orthodoxy are about to be arrested by thugs wearing jackboots”, he still drew clear equivalence between the two. How else is one meant to interpret the sentence “The cowardice and weakness of Australia’s “gatekeepers” is causing unthinkable things to happen, just as unthinkable things happened in Germany in the 1930s” ? Now, while I’m not saying the ACL is about to employ thugs wearing jackboots to enforce it, their view that the nation’s moral and physical wellbeing is placed at risk by any divergence from a narrow ultra conservative ideology could be compared with aspects of Nazism.

In further proof of the pervasive and oppressive left wing bias that dominates Australia’s institutions, academic and Safe Schools co-founder, Roz Ward, was suspended by La Trobe University for calling the Australian flag racist. Though the suspension was later dropped, La Trobe vice-chancellor, John Dewar’s claim that the comments “would further inflame opinion about the Safe Schools program and her involvement in it” says it all. So, people like Lyle Shelton can draw parallels between acceptance of LGBTI people and Nazism, yet still retain the ear of government, but Roz Ward gets suspended because her comments might offend the flag cape crowd. The left silencing debate again, eh? Sure, the IPA joined figures on the left in criticising the suspension, but they also compared the situation with the resignation of Barry Spurr. Being suspended for expressing an opinion with political and academic value, contentious though it may be, is one thing. Having to resign after you get caught out joyfully throwing around racist and sexist slurs is completely another.

Last up, a few thoughts on the death of Muhammad Ali. Isn’t it funny how widely attacked radicals of the past often become near universally celebrated mainstream heroes? Though this is partially down to attitudes changing over time, it also strikes me as mechanism by which issues like racism are incorrectly painted as thing of the past. These are things worth considering when examining the radicals of today, and those of yesteryear. See you all next week.

Originally published at on June 6, 2016.

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