Friday, October 29, 2010

Abbott and Reform

Recently Tony Abbott gave the 2010 Alfred Deakin speech which was on the topic of reform. As is perhaps to be expected, he used the opportunity to take a swipe at the governments policies without offering much by way of an alternative. Along the way he criticized the NBN, the mining tax, the recent proposed changes to health care funding and carbon pricing, saying none of these are true reform but mere Labor power grabbing at the peoples expense.

I can't say that I agree with his analysis of these subjects. The NBN is an investment in infrastructure that I think will be of much more benefit than could be initially estimated, just as someone trying to estimate the value of building the telephone network decades ago would have failed to consider all the value derived from things utilizing that infrastructure such as faxes, DSL internet and more. I also believe that the NBN is one of those infrastructure systems where having a non commercial standardized underlying system that everyone has access to equally is a good thing. Roads are another example of such a system.

The mining tax, while terribly introduced by the Rudd government is something that to me seems eminently rational. Mining companies dig up minerals from land that is held by the government in trust for all of Australia, so it is only right that they pay the Australian people for what they take. And while the government was suggesting taking a 40% cut, they were also going to take a 40% cut of any losses. And while you may want to haggle over the exact amount, the principle is sound.

Tony also suggests that he is for a market based solution to reducing carbon emissions, and yet opposes introducing a carbon price. I can only ask how can you have a market without a price?

I haven't got anything to say on the matter of health care as I don't know much about the most recent proposals, but my recent time in hospital has made me even more supportive of public health car for all in general.

As an alternative to Labor's "reforms", Tony harkens back to the Howard days for some of his own examples of "reform". Work for the dole, while a good idea, is hardly what I'd call reform. More of a tweak really. And while helping disabled people to live independently is a good thing, doing so by cutting their welfare to drive them into the workforce is hardly the best way to achieve that goal. The only example of reform that wasn't Tony resting on his laurels was a suggestion to raise the tax free threshold to $25,000 and then have a single tax bracket from there's to $180,000, but that comes from the Henry review, which was started by the Rudd government.

Tony also said that in a hung parliament the opposition has an even greater responsibility to not just be the opposition, but to be a credible government in waiting, with viable policies of its own. Based on this I'd say the Coalition has a long way to go yet.

And So It Begins

Sarah Palin has announced that she will run for president in 2012, "if there is no one else to do it." Now that the cat is out the bag, I don't think there's any chance she won't try to become the Republican candidate regardless of who else may put their name forward for the job, regardless of how much more better suited to be president they are.

Since Palin was plucked out of Alaskan obscurity by the McCain campaign she has undoubtedly done well for herself, with spots on Fox, a huge book deal, a documentary series, and so forth. However, while all this may have built up her popularity, she hasn't really shown herself any more suitable to high office than she did while running for VP, and that wasn't really all that good a showing, all things considered.

Across a wide swathe of issues, Palin has come across as lacking in the statesmanship field. Inciting hysteria by dreaming up death panels that didn't exist in the health care bill, provoking hostility to the builders of the Islamic cultural centre in New York, using inflammatory language and encouraging people to reload and take aim at Democrats, and much more paint a picture of someone who is catering to a narrow section of society, and does not particularly care for or respect the rest of it.

Besides for increasing her popularity and her bank balance (both essential nowadays for a wannabe president), she hasn't made much progress on other things necessary to being a good
president. She resigned as governor of Alaska halfway through her term, showing a lack of commitment to the responsibility the voters had entrusted her with, she still hasn't built up any experience with foreign affairs (support our troops is about the closest I've seen from her on foreign affairs, and that's more patriotic jingoism than thought out foreign policy), and policy positions that are a mix of opposing anything the democrats suggest and populist slogans with no thought as to the implications beyond the fact that it rates well now.

I'm not sure I want Palin to run, because although I think if she ran Obama would be a shoe in for reelection, I think it would be better for America if the voters had a choice between two people who would be a good president.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Black and White Cabs invoke my Wrath

Black and White cabs did not make me a happy chappy this morning. So far, I've been using them when I needed to call a cab because their number is easier to remember, but from now I'm going to take the effort to remember the other cab companies number.

I've been catching taxis to work since the buses in the morning are 1) crowded, and 2) really inconveniently timed for the shifts I've got at the moment. And since I'm still getting about on crutches, when I call up, I ask them to get the driver to drive into the yard, as I go down the back stairs. So far, this has about a 30% success rate of actually getting the driver to come into the yard, but so long as they at least park on the driveway I can get around to the driver's side to get in (getting in this side lets me sit with my injured leg on the seat, and I'm not sure I can bend the leg enough yet to get in the front seat).

This morning the cab pulls out in front of the house, and the driver got out and called to me from the gate that he can't get his car into the yard (I'm not sure if he's got some randomly variable width car or something, or he's just scared that a few leafs might ruin his pretty cab). Anyway, I'm wasn't too upset, as I can actually walk out to where the cab is. I do so, and when I get there I ask the driver if he can back the car into the driveway because I have to get in on his side of the car. I asked this because he had parked on the street, and to get in on the drivers side I'd have to hobble onto a reasonably busy road to get into the taxi.

The driver however simply reverses the cab back parallel with the curb, in no way solving the problem of me not wanting to hobble on a busy road. So I gestured to him to show that he should back into the driveway. I'm not sure what went through the driver's mind at this point, but his next action was to jam the cab into gear and drive off at a quite rapid pace.

I wasn't too impressed. My mind briefly toyed with the notion that he might have been going to the roundabout up ahead to do a uturn to get a better turn into the driveway, but that was soon proved false.

And so Black and White Cabs has invoked my wrath. This is perhaps painting a broad brush, as I have had a few good drivers along the way, and a few less than good ones, but this was just ridiculous (the guy who parked out the front where I couldn't see or get to him and caused me to be late at work is another stand out example). I really don't think it's too much to ask that a cab driver give a bit of consideration to a guy on crutches.

As an epilogue, after an angry call to Black and White cabs demanding another taxi, and after waiting I called Yellow cabs who got a taxi to me in a few minutes with driver who was willing to back into the driver so that I could get in the car without risking being on the road, and even was going to open the door for me before I told him I could do it myself.