Return of the Hallucinating Goldfish: Help!

“My preferred term is that we’re governed by Hallucinating Goldfish. No long-term memory, and a world of imagined horrors,” I said last night.

My comment was triggered by a discussion about Australia’s debt-to-GDP ratio, which stands at 6%. Here’s a picture from March 2010, showing that even with the recent rise in debt to deal with the global financial crisis our government is debt still within the usual range historically.

Personal debt, on the other hand… Ahem!

The United States, by comparison, sits at 60%. According to one economist even that figure is wrong. It’s really 14 times greater, and he reckons the US is actually bankrupt.

But opposition parties here in Australia screech that 6% is “out of control” — even though, as Ric Hayman reminded me, it’s only a few years since one of their own was congratulated for settling things down to 6%. It was acceptable then. But now…

A debt ratio at 6% of GDP is nothing, of course. To use the traditional analogy, it’s like a household with a combined income of $100,000 taking out a loan of $6000. Quite manageable. Families regularly take out loans of 500% of their GDP to buy their own homes and it’s considered normal, even admirable.

Yes yes, if they spent that money on cocaine instead then might be different, but that’s not the issue here. Anyone who tries to equate stabilising a national economy so people can keep their jobs with a drug habit is in my opinion nothing more than a blind political tribalist. If such comments are made here I shall mock and insult you personally.

This is all part of what my Crikey colleague Bernard Keane calls the Perpetual Present of politics, “in which what happened two days ago, let alone two years ago, is forgotten”. But my preferred term is Hallucinating Goldfish

That must’ve struck a chord, because when I mentioned it last night my comment was retweeted around 30 times. I therefore pointed people to my original post, Post 801: Kill the Hallucinating Goldfish.

I was also reminded that political journalism fails to cover the vast majority of what happens in Parliament and government.

As Tim Dunlop put it, here’s “some stuff you might’ve missed if you relied on the media for all your information.” Like the House passing 29 bills, the Senate 16, and 11 bills passing both houses. Nothing important there, eh?


Now my original Hallucinating Goldfish post now seems quite dated, and I haven’t posted anything in the Hallucinating Goldfish category in most than two and a half years. I reckon we need new examples. This is where you come in.

Please help me identify more Hallucinating Goldfish. Where are policies being proposed, or decisions being made, based on a paranoid fantasy worldview and ignoring the lessons of the past?

[Photo: Goldfish by Helga Birna Jónasdóttir, used under a Creative Commons attribution license.]

Drop that goddam Citizenship Test, Senator Evans!

I agree with Tim Dunlop: “Just dump the stupid, politically motivated, shallow, ill-conceived thing.”

Today The Age reports that fear of failure is turning away potential citizens in droves.

Some migrants were too frightened to apply to become Australians because they feared they would be deported if they failed the controversial citizenship test, Immigration Minister Chris Evans has admitted…

Just 16,024 migrants applied to be citizens between January and March, compared with 38,850 at the same time last year.

I’ve written about this before, of course, both to point out how the whole concept is teh FAIL (to use current lingo), and how it was just pre-election dog-whistle politics anyway.

It’s pointless. I’m assuming there’s already a black market in the answers — though they’re in the book anyway. As one soon-to-be-citizen told me, “It’s all easy enough: 1. Barton. 2. Bradman. 3. Wattle.” And exactly how does that arcane knowledge prove you’re not a “bad person” in a way that isn’t covered by the police and other checks already in place?

Senator Evans, ruling out scrapping the test but setting up a committee to analyse its impact is just wasting taxpayers’ money. Just make a cup of tea, get yourself an Iced Vo-Vo or two, and work through the logic yourself. If you can, that is.

Internet censorship dumbness

The Rudd government’s plan to force ISP’s to provide a “clean feed” of the Internet free of pornography and “inappropriate material” (whatever that might be) has already generated plenty of informed criticism. However what worries me more is Senator Stephen Conroy’s disgustingly disingenuous framing of the debate.

Labor makes no apologies to those who argue that any regulation of the Internet is like going down the Chinese road. If people equate freedom of speech with watching child pornography, then the Rudd Labor Government is going to disagree.

As usual, Democrat Senator Andrew Bartlett hits the nail on the head, and makes my point for me.

No free speech advocate that I know of advocates such absolute freedom as to defend the provision of child pornography… But the fact it is already illegal shows just how dishonest Conroy’s statement is.

The government’s proposal is not about child pornography at all, which is already seriously illegal online and offline. It is about legal pornography and other ‘inappropriate’ material.

The arguments against this clean-feed idea are simple: it won’t work, and it opens up an unacceptable risk of further government intrusion into our freedom to communicate.

Continue reading “Internet censorship dumbness”

A Crikey-led traffic burst

Writing for Crikey this week triggered an interesting burst of activity.

  • Website traffic doubled for a couple of days.
  • I was blogged about by Tim Dunlop over in Murdochland.
  • People from my past emerged from the woodwork — including Keith Conlon, the man who first taught me broadcasting.

Weird coincidences upped the traffic too:

  • Interest in Australia’s new ambassador to Italy, Amanda Vanstone, led more than 400 people to read my posting about Boost juice bars.
  • 200 people looking for live TV coverage of the space shuttle landing found my post about the previous shuttle touchdown.

But I’m still getting plenty of folks looking for those goddam Steve Irwin jokes , or discovering how to spell Vodafone.