JULIE BISHOP WITH THE RICH AND FAMOUS
Our Julie, yes our very own Julie will be interviewing “the rich and famous” in some of the world most exclusive locations”. After years of dedicated public service, it looks like its time to serve Julie… to the world. The intuition that told her the Russians had brought down MH17 exactly 7 minutes and 8 seconds after the crash will now draw out the inner secrets of the glitterati.
The production company that gave you Anh’s Brush with Fame and Trial by Kyle now presents Julie in conversation. How can you add to such a thrilling prospect? Can you? Well, you can have Julie walk while she talks. And imagine the costumes. Maybe we’ll see the return of some of those glittering outfits she wore as Foreign Minister and be reminded of public money well spent.
So what would you label such a thrilling event? Wait for it ….. “The Conversation with Julie Bishop”. 12 mobile cameras will catch each moment (as if that’s enough). The show will be “pure conversation” between “two great minds” with “no tricks”. That’s a shame. I’d love to see her juggle, cut an asbestos victim in half or throw knives at an unemployed person.
Do you think she’ll interview Julian Assange? She didn’t seem to have time when she was foreign minister. No, Belmarsh prison probably isn’t “exclusive” enough.
And in a follow-up to our story in last week’s KFR, Jools is reported to be asking $50,000 an appearance at Paul Roos bang-up in Fiji.
CHRIS RICHARDSON LOVES SURPLUSES
The ABC’s favourite economist is a remarkable performer. He delivers his verdict on government finances with such solemnity. Where is the government this week, Chris? On the surplus: “I wouldn’t go beyond saying it is possible at the moment”. What he won’t tell you is why we need one. As the Reserve Bank Governor all but pleads for fiscal stimulus to the economy, Chris is calling for “steady as she goes”.
So Chris, tell us how you stimulate an economy without demand? ABC’s Radio National ran a program this week called “Who Runs This Place”. What it told is that among the biggest and most powerful lobbyists in the country are the big 4 accounting firms. Richardson works for one of them. What sort of commentary should we expect from an organisation that seeks influence away from public scrutiny? Is that safe? Isn’t this just self-interest dressed up as opinion?
There should be no surprise that Christopher Pyne joined one of these accounting firms. If you listen to “Who Runs This Place”, Pyne already worked for them part-time but had to split his attention for the other sponges. Now, he can focus his energies.
These lobbyists like the idea of very selective government spending. They love that spending to be done on them and a massive amount is. What they are less keen on is spending on the rest of us. It is hard to understand how you revitalise an economy while private debt levels are high; wages are stagnant; workers’ benefits and wages are continually cut; and Federal Government spending is directed away from job creation.
Maybe Chris and his team could whip up a report on that. I am sure the Federal Government would pay good money for it.
POLITICS AND ENTERTAINMENT
There is very little gap between the role that entertainment and politics play in our lives. For example, the “serious” political programs on the ABC are largely Punch and Judy shows. They are entertainment first and any information that comes from them is residual. For example, you can’t really discuss economics, which is what they pretend to do, without mentioning the word “fiscal”.
When was the last time you saw a program that sought to offer a definition. They would only need to run the explanation for a couple of weeks and then the presenters could assume their audience was cognisant. Strangely, the term is rarely if ever used. When it is, it is never explained. We simply accept the importance of a surplus but if you understood fiscal and government’s relationship to the term you’d be likely to start asking questions about surpluses and we can’t have that.
The entertainment element of politics explains how Julie Bishop can move so easily into entertainment. She has been acting all along anyway. Anyone who gives serious consideration to Australia’s role in the world can’t fail to recognise we are governed by actors. They represent power. The real skill is in convincing us that they care. The gold Logie should have gone to Scomo.
SUPERANNUATION vs THE PENSION
I like Peter Martin. He’s vulnerable to reason and he appears to be on the public’s side. This isn’t always the case in journalism or finance. It is very rarely the case in financial journalism. Proof of his susceptibility to reason is evident in his hosting role on the ABC’s The Economists on Radio National.
He was part of a program last October that discussed the origins of money. It covered where money comes from, barter and the dangers of inflation. The program featured his co-host Associate Professor of Economics at UNSW, Dr Gigi Foster, and Assistant Governor of the Reserve Bank, Christopher Kent. Just about everything that was stated on the program was wrong.
How do I know? In a follow up program five months later, economist Bill Mitchell set them straight. Bill was making a welcome return to the ABC after a period of banishment. He contradicted just about every point from the previous program and did so simply, eloquently and forcefully.
A comparison of these programs, which I have done and urge you to do, is a fascinating experience. Peter accepted Bill’s superior knowledge with the one exception. It is worth listening to both episodes. Had you listened to the first and not the second you would have a completely different and erroneous view of how the world works.
More recently, Peter Martin appeared on the ABC’s The Drum where superannuation was discussed. The complexity and deceit that surrounds super was central to the program. The panel members uniformly agreed that to avoid super confusion we should all attain financial literacy.
The one exception was Martin who argued our superannuation system should be simple enough for us to understand without the need for a degree in higher maths. He finished by stating he would rather we didn’t have super at all. He prefers the idea of a decent pension.
I agree with him. The privatisation of the pension was a major step down the road to neoliberalism. It was Keating’s hugely generous gift to the finance sector. It is also underpinned by the dubious notion that government is incapable of funding our pensions. The only constraint for our Federal Government, as the currency issuer, can be of resources. Superannuation fits neatly to the neoliberal concept of personal responsibility.
We are currently hearing a new media story each week about another group of people that won’t have enough to retire on. We need to explore or return to Peter’s idea. The decent pension is another in a long line of things we can’t afford like better outcomes for schools, hospitals, transport, education, employment and much more. There is always a shortage of money. It looks like a fix. Where does money come from anyway?
You can hear Peter’s arguments at about the 10 minute point of this link to The Drum on 27th June 2019