Archive for May, 2010

Further to integration

May 17, 2010

Some are more successful than others. Well yes….

I am not at all sure how these figures of net household wealth listed by religious affiliation would translate to Australia, but this study from Britain’s official “National Equality Panel” reported by the indefatigable Theodore Dalrymple in the City Journal is suggestive of a principle at least. With this caveat — Australia is a different kind of host country, the ethnic makeup and origin of the immigrant groups is different, as are their employment opportunities — it is nevertheless worth noting Dalrymple’s general principle.

The figures were as follows (I convert into American dollars):

Muslim: $68,000

None: $224,000

Hindu: $337,000

Christian: $361,000

Sikh: $371,000

Jewish: $684,000

Overall, the figures demonstrate that, in an open society, cultural attitudes and characteristics are of enormous importance with regard to a group’s prospects in that society. Of course, it is no easy matter to change cultural characteristics that are not propitious for economic and social ascent; but the first step, surely, is to destroy the illusion that salvation lies in the hands of political and bureaucratic entrepreneurs whose only effect is to make society sclerotic and thereby transform class into caste.

[Thanks to reader Stone the Crows]

Manne man-handled, yet again.

May 14, 2010

What a poisoned chalice!

Congratulations Henry Ergas

One has to feel sorry for poor old Robert Manne. He was recently humiliated beyond redemption by Keith Windshuttle in the latest Quadrant, Manne Avoids the Real Debate, on just how shoddy his history research is concerning the stolen generations. As an addenda, Windshuttle added the coup de grace by exposing Manne’s wildly double standards of scholarship  and his vicious labelling of Windschuttle a racist for which he had no evidence.

After that episode, one could only hope he would retire gracefully and allow his pretentious, Left anointed title “Australia’s leading intellectual” to fade like bad history.

But no. The Australian offered him a poisoned challenge: to go one to one with the outstanding economist Henry Ergas, and let him demonstrate the best the commentariat has to offer: piles of morality and indignation, appeals to authority and a lack of facts. As Ergas tells him at the outset,

“The facts, one must look at the facts. They are stubborn and inconvenient. To see why, translate your argument into (even vaguely) testable propositions”.

Of course, he doesn’t. He needs to ask again:

There I go again: asking for evidence! But you see, that is the other thing you would learn: that intellectuals are in the stringency business.

The refusal to accept assertions that are woollyminded and half-baked; to let errors of logic lie; or to kow-tow to mere citations of authority: that is what ensures reason, however flickering its light, remains the source of human progress.

This is why it is a shame you refuse to carefully define terms, frame testable propositions and assess them against facts. Indignation, no matter how loudly repeated, is not explanation.

One futher detail. Whilst this public debate was about the economy, neo-liberalism and the global financial crisis, Manne cannot help himself with a self-destructive clincher. He wants to talk about climate change!! Manne:

Ideological neo-liberalism must be judged extremely harshly precisely because of its betrayal of reason. More than 99 per cent of qualified climate scientists and every scientific academy in the world accept that, primarily through the burning of fossil fuels, human beings are imperilling the future of the Earth through global warming. Yet, for various reasons, the most important neo-liberal “think tanks” — such as the American Enterprise Institute or the Centre for Independent Studies in Australia — have been pressed into the service of the fossil fuel corporations and are in the vanguard of the most important outburst of scientific irrationality since the 19th century Christian attack on Charles Darwin.

Ergas replies:

Economic liberals are not good at group think. It is consequently unsurprising that (to the best of my knowledge) there is no such thing as a party line on climate science.

I expect, however, that economic liberals would share two convictions. The first is that scepticism is a virtue, not a vice. The second is that we live in a world where desirable ends invariably outstrip available means. It is therefore quite proper to question whether the case for action has been made out; and even if one believes it has, to demand that the specific actions that are proposed yield benefits that exceed their costs: for example, that we would do better to allocate resources to reducing emissions than to improving the life chances of many millions of people worldwide who suffer desperate poverty.

It is the failure to clear this second hurdle, especially among those who would bear the cost, that explains Copenhagen and the difficulties of the carbon pollution reduction scheme, not a conspiracy by the devotees of an obscure Austrian [von Hayek] professor.

Please Professor Manne, it is time to retire.

UPDATE

Argumentum ad onanism

Reader Angie has sent in a brilliantly detailed analysis of the rhetoric used by Robert Manne in his 2050 words against Henry Ergas in The Australian.

She concludes:

Reading the exchange really brought home to me how Manne has become unfortunately a lesser academic from a cream brick university, with much preening, and looking into the hand mirror held to his face and to other regions, to demonstrate to himself and to others his greatness. I was reminded of the character in Doc Martin on ABCTV the other day whose line was “I’m the head of the entire social psychology department of the University of Cornwall, a very senior position.”
It showed me how academic debate, Manne-style is to read a lot and throw the quotes back, making a great essay but with little true thought. Manne famously got economics wrong in the 70s and now has it wrong again. Emperor has no clothes.

Read Angie’s complete comments here.

Backflip on ETS explained

May 13, 2010

Not to be confused with a spin


The Australian editorial today cuts to the essence of the importance of Rudd’s backflip on the ETS. Many have commented on his lines about moral challenges, his backflip after Copenhagen and his now correct reading of the changes in the chook entrails of voters feelings. The essence of the fury surrounding his backflip is explicit:

Like business groups, however, we argued against rushing the passage of legislation before the Copenhagen summit. In light of the Minerals Council of Australia’s projections that even a 5 per cent cut in emissions would have cost 23,500 jobs by 2020, it was wise to proceed cautiously. Nor was it clear, before Copenhagen, what action the world’s major greenhouse emitters, China, the US and India, would take. And it is still not clear, despite Mr Rudd’s tireless efforts to secure a deal over three arduous days and nights of negotiations at the summit.

By blocking the ETS, the opposition prevented Mr Rudd from taking Australia out on a limb, recklessly exposing the nation to economic risk when an international deal on carbon was nowhere on the horizon and we contribute 1.5 per cent of world emissions. Mr Rudd should be thanking Tony Abbott’s opposition and voices like ours that urged caution.

No wonder the English are cynical

May 12, 2010

Plus ca change …

A good explanation for the jaded feelings towards politicians being reported from the UK is neatly summed up in a pithy piece by Rod Liddle in the latest Spectator. Liddle takes a bet that many of the things that anger and infuriate people in England will not change. Policy inertia is something we are familiar with in Australia of course, and many of these observations apply to Australia. Here are some highlights:

Money spent on public sector management consultants will easily exceed the amount spent on our new nuclear weapons system.

In our schools: Black History Month; Gay, Lesbian and Transgendered History Month.

Islamist asylum seekers who want to put anthrax in our morning coffee, or who have already committed violent crimes, will not be deported.

Large-scale immigration will continue.

Teachers will continue to be prosecuted when having attempted to instil discipline in violent and abusive pupils.

Your local council will waste millions of pounds of your money on fatuous ‘outreach’ posts.

Despite the coldest year in the world since the Hellespont froze over, the government will concur with climate change lobbyists that we are facing an apocalypse. It will do so through cowardice and ignorance.

People who have lived for their entire lives in a locality will be beaten to the front of the queue for social housing by immigrants who arrived last week, illegally.

Deranged health fascists will continue to tell parents what they can and can’t put in their children’s lunchboxes.

We will continue to give billions of pounds in overseas aid to such cash-strapped, struggling, weak and powerless countries as, er, China.

Violent little scrotes who stab you in the neck while relieving you of your wallet will be allowed out on parole to stab your wife or best friend or great aunt in the neck during a similar operation.

If you punch the violent little scrote before he has a chance to stab you, you will be charged and end up in prison.

You can get the drift. Have a look. There is delightful humour in the detail.

Four myths of Integration

May 9, 2010


Integration for Muslims very problematic, says Danish psychologist

A young Danish psychologist, Nicolai Sennels, made news last year in Denmark after publishing a book entitled Among criminal Muslims. A psychologist’s experience from Copenhagen. He has worked for several years directly with young criminal Muslims in Copenhagen and has come to the conclusion that there are four myths concerning the successful integration of Muslim minorities.

At a conference on integration in Copenhagen, he provoked a legal injunction that nearly got him sacked for suggesting that present failed policies were misdirected. He claimed that Islamic culture plays a significant role concerning integration, crime and religious extremism. He emphasized that people from a Muslim culture “find it difficult, if not impossible, to create a successful life in Denmark.” In an interview in EuropeNews he says:

This statement was met with great resistance from Danish politicians and also my own boss from the youth prison. I was quite surprised since I thought that my point is obvious: some cultures fit better into Western societies than others. All of Europe is currently struggling to integrate Muslims but this endeavor seems to be impossible. According to the Danish police and the Danish Bureau of Statistics more than 70% of all crimes in the Danish capital are committed by Muslims. Our national bank recently published a report stating that a Muslim foreigner costs more than 2 million Danish kroner (300,000 euros) in federal social assistance on average, caused by the low participation in the work force. On top of this, we have to add many additional types of social welfare that unemployed people can receive in our country: expenses in connection with interpreters, special classes in school – 64% of school children with Muslim parents cannot read and write Danish properly after 10 years in a Danish school – social work, extra police etc.

Sennel’s book is to be translated into English this year. Whilst we in Australia believe that things are different here from Europe, the facts outlined by the courageous Sennels go a long way in explaining why at least some Australians are expressing a growing malaise about burkas. A surprising 85.7 percent of Australians want them banned in this country.

The debate in the media appears to want to bury or deliberately misunderstand the reasons for these growing attitudes toward Islam. The use of the word “Islamophobia” or phrases like “you are playing the race card” by leading ABC journalists who should know better, have the same distaste and function as words such as racist, or homophobe. Even the typical rebuttal from local Islamic personalities such as Susan Carland, proud of her “convict” and NZ roots, that her full head scarf is “just a piece of cloth”, belie the observation of husband Waleed Ali. “[My wife] has become a foreigner [in her own country] by virtue of the fact that she has become a Muslim.

It seems obvious that it is unintelligent to suggest that head scarves, burkas and nikabs are merely pieces of cloth, like baseball caps as a Melbourne ABC presenter tried to suggest. Identity is fundamental to the analysis by the Dane Nicolai Sennels, and it is surely essential reading to help us come to an informed understanding of an international  phenomenon.


The drought is over

May 9, 2010

Weather Bureau: It’s offical

THE drought is officially over, and farmers in southeast Australia can afford a wry smile. But the Bureau of Meteorology has warned that despite above-average rains last month, on top of the big wet earlier in the year, there is a still a long-term rainfall deficiency and more is needed to fill dams and run the rivers of the Murray Basin.

But while farmers speak of relief at the bureau’s official confirmation on Friday that the drought was finally over, there are those, like Barrie Hunt, who can claim a little vindication.

A CSIRO honorary research fellow, Mr Hunt argued for two years that the drought was due to natural climate variability, not climate change, and would break.

Vindication? CSIRO? Funny that. What about this prediction:

SCIENTISTS studying Victoria’s crippling drought have, for the first time, proved the link between rising levels of greenhouse gases and the state’s dramatic decline in rainfall. A three-year collaboration between the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO has confirmed what many scientists long suspected: that the 13-year drought is not just a natural dry stretch but a shift related to climate change.

And this, from NSW ex-Premier Bobb Carr:

“This is the ninth consecutive year, speaking nationally, when rainfalls have been lower than average and average temperatures are climbing,” he said. “Those people who are sceptical about global warming ought to think again because this is the first very practical intimation of global warming being upon us,” he said.

Or this, from our illustrious Prime Minister at the Lowy Institute:

As one of the hottest and driest continents on earth, Australia’s environment and economy will be among the hardest and fastest hit by climate change if we do not act now. The scientific evidence from the CSIRO and other expert bodies have outlined the implications for Australia, in the absence of national and global action on climate change: by 2070, up to 40 per cent more drought months are projected in eastern Australia and up to 80 per cent more in south-western Australia.

Global warmining is really cool

May 7, 2010

Hysteria is abating in Australia

According to a new Galaxy survey for the Institute of Public Affairs, two-thirds of Australians now doubt the scientific consensus on global warming. This is very reassuring news.

“These figures reveal that Australians are no longer confident they’re hearing all the facts about climate change,” said John Roskam, Executive Director of free market think tank the Institute of Public Affairs.

The poll surveyed 1000 respondents across Australia from 30 April – 2 May 2010 about their attitude to global warming:

35% of Australians believe that “The world is warming and man’s emissions are to blame.”

26% of Australians believe that “The variation in global temperature is just part of the natural cycle of nature.”

The largest group, 38% of Australians agreed with the statement that “There is conflicting evidence and I’m not sure what the truth is.”

“Since the Climategate scandals, fewer people have been willing to accept the ‘consensus’ on climate change.

“With public opinion like this, it is little wonder that Mr Rudd has shelved the ETS until 2013”, Mr Roskam said.

Spot the Afghan woman?

May 5, 2010

An old joke, but now a debating issue.


This was on old joke that at first glance appears to be cruel. However, with the debate on burquas in Europe taking off in earnest, people are facing up to what seems so self evident. The photo is indeed shocking. No surprise then that last year the French President Nicolas Sarkozy came out and said what most people think; that burquas are incompatible with equal rights for women.

But just as European jurisdictions are acting to destigmatise the treatment of women [from looking like rubbish bags] there has been condemnation from Muslim groups for … stigmatizing Muslims.

Muslims in the French city of Nantes, where a woman was fined for driving while wearing an Islamic veil, have expressed concerns over stigmatizing Muslims. “The Muslims of Nantes are worried by this systematic stigmatization which goes against the values of the Republic,” the collective of Nantes Mosques said in a statement on Sunday.

[Thanks to reader PG for finding the photo]

UPDATE:

A report from Italy via Andrew Bolt

A Muslim woman queuing at a post office in Italy has been fined £430 for wearing a burka in public.  Amel Marmouri was spotted by police and penalised in the first case of its kind in Italy.

The 26-year-old Tunisian lives in Novara – 50km (30 miles) west of Milan – where the mayor brought in laws banning clothing that ‘prevents the immediate identification of the wearer inside public buildings, schools and hospitals’.

Husband Ben Salah Braim, 36, said: ‘We knew about the law and I know that it’s not against my religion but now Amel will have to stay indoors. I can’t have other men looking at her.’

I wonder if the European Human Rights commission would have any rules about involuntary imprisonment and whether it would care about the fate of Novara? By the logic of the husband, the wearing of the burka by his wife must also be a form of “visual” imprisonment, because he “can’t have other men looking at her”. The dreary conclusion of the apologists, that this woman will not be allowed out of the home because of the burka ban, will be interpreted as an oppressive Italian law.

The heartening news is that some Muslim groups in Italy DO NOT agree.

‘We have always said we are against face veils or coverings in Italy because the law of recognition has to be observed,’ said Imam Izzedin Elzir, president of the Islamic Community and Organisations Union in Italy.

Rudd a dud dud

May 5, 2010

“The past lies like a nightmare upon the present”: Karl Marx.

Senator Ron Boswell, in a letter to The Australian this morning, reminds us of a frightening precedent.

The Prime Minister behaves now as then when he was head of Wayne Goss’s cabinet office. The policy disasters of the era are reflected in the disasters of today because they had the same architect. The health budget doubled but the system all but fell apart, largely because of a massive increase in the bureaucracy. A once fully funded workers compensation scheme developed a long tail, massive liability via a curious policy of reduced premiums alongside increased benefits and a blind eye to increasing common law claims. Long-term power security was crippled by a decision to scrap a project and not move to plug the gap for years despite dire and public warnings from the then Queensland Electricity Commission and the premier’s own department.

A prison was shut down to save a few million dollars based on a hunch that prisoner numbers were dropping. They were not. A public housing scheme borrowed from Neville Wran left thousands of Queensland battlers owing more to the government than their houses were worth, and more than their original loans. The list of policy disasters then is as endless as it is today.

Dhimmitude and cartoons

May 4, 2010

Western values being dhimminished by the day

The threat to submit to Islam is constantly with us. A type of dhimmitude is being imposed on all of us, not through superior logic, moral suasion, or appeals to our tollerance, but through brute force and physical intimidation. The 200th episode of South Park has been subjected to censorship, because Comedy Central responded to death threats for showing Mohamed disguised in a bear costume.

Janet Albrechtsen writes,

Whether you like it or not, South Park offers cutting-edge commentary on Western culture. Muslims are entitled to adhere to their religious rules. No one is forcing them to draw the prophet Mohammed. But that does not mean Western societies built on freedom of expression must do the same… Each time we step down from defending Western values such as freedom of expression, our retreat signals a weary acceptance that Islamic rules apply by default.

The rot of course started when British Muslims in their thousands marched down the streets shouting “Death to Rushdie” in 1989 over Salmon Rushdie’s new book The Satanic Verses. At the time it was against the law to incite murder. The police lined the streets and stood by, almost as a guard of honour.

Then came the Danish cartoons. The worst of it is that these threats to our freedom of expression are blatant,  conscious, political manoeverings to impose a form of dhimmitude on the West. Showing images of Mohammed has nothing to do with offence or insult. Just after the Danish cartoons were published in the Jyllands-Posten, six of them were reproduced in an Egyptian newspaper in October 17, 2005 with absolutely no reaction from local people. And it was Ramadan. It took months before a contrived and organised scandal was made of it.

Albrechtsen quotes the courageous campaigner, Hirsi Ali on CNN a few days after the South Park controversy,

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who wrote the script for Submission, said van Gogh was dead and she was still alive because she was surrounded by security guards. “I still have protection,” she said. That will change only when more and more of us defend those values that have served us so well. Then: “There will be too many people to threaten and at that time I won’t need protection.” And the West will have reasserted itself as a confident culture, capable of defending freedom of expression.