Monday, October 22, 2007

Sunday golf lesson with Kevin Rudd

Almost no politics, no economics for most of yesterday - I’ve been practising my golf. I’ve been watching, then pausing, bits of a clip which shows you how to make the perfect golf swing. It really is pretty good and it is free.

Then my Sunday was disturbed by the big event - the debate at 7-30pm between John Howard and Kevin Rudd. It left me unsettled. JWH looked a bit nervous initially and Rudd was throwing clichés and slogans left, right and centre. A bit like the aimless, somewhat neurotic, character of my golf game. JWH the optimist and Rudd the gabby, baloney merchant espousing the need for an unspecified plan to take Australia out of its currently deprived state. We are all facing imminent peril unless we elect Rudd and pursue his personal ‘vision’ for Australia and its ‘working families’ (repeated 50 times).

Any politician who tells the Australian people to adopt his vision should be turned into Pal.
Rudd is dangerous because he does not understand his vision is based on romantic deceit. Let all the poor kids have laptops. Working families told him so.... He was unconvincing.

It is hardly surprising that I think Rudd would be a calamity as PM. 2050 carbon targets with no idea what they will be in 2020 and criticising JWH for not pursuing this idiocy. How will he cut petrol prices and better the work of endless ACCC inquiries? How will he cut home prices and would you want to? This dill still wants us to accept culpability for damage done 100 years ago to Australia’s aboriginals. How will he enginner an 'education revolution' with a pittance? It is verbiage without policy substance.
Rudd will cut petrol prices and make housing less expensive – no he won’t. It is nonsense.

But Rudd will do well among those who value glibness. The Channel 9 worm endorsed him as did a foolish post at Troppo by James Farrell that I commented upon.

The key issue is whether this debate will disturb my Tuesday golf game?



Mark U said...

"This dill still wants us to accept culpability for damage done 100 years ago to Australia’s aboriginals."

Harry, if you think that the damage was only being done 100 years ago then you need to catch up on a bit of history. Forcible removal of children from their families was occurring as late as 1970. The impact of these policies are still felt by aboriginals who are alive.

And governments of both persuasions continue to chop and change policy based on what is thought "best for them".

I agree saying "sorry" is not going to solve the problems, but until we do the aboriginal population will understandably continue to feel emittered by how we have treated them.

I suppose that makes me a dill as well.

hc said...

You are a dill Mark if you seek to apologise (in the sense of identifying guilt) for something you had no part in implementing. JWH has accepted the need for symboloc acknowledgement of the role of aboriginals in Australian history but not for an expression of collective guilt buy current Australians for the policies of the past.

Whether it is 20 years ago or 100 year's ago makes no difference.

Why were children forcibly removed from their families?

Are you advocating laissez faire for indigenous people? You don't seem to like interventionist policies. My own view is that this would be a total disaster given the cureent problems aboriginals face.

Mark U said...


My first paragraph in the previous comment was a factual correction. It was you that tried to imply that the wrongs were perpetrated 100 years ago, not me.

I think the aborigines want us to say "sorry, we understand how you feel and why you feel that way" (empathy) not "sorry, we did it" (guilt). I do not think taking this view makes me a dill. (And I thought you disliked name calling.)

The original motivation for forced removal was cultural assimilation of mixed descent children.

I am not advocating laissez faire for indigenous people. I want to see an approach that recognises that there is no "one size fits all" solution to the problems and that ensures that aborigines have ownership of solutions and responsibility for implementing them (unlike the present Federal interventions).

hc said...


This is confusing.

I didn't say you said they were 100 years ago.

John Howard expressly said he recognised empathy but not guilt. 'Sorry' generally implies 'guilt'.

I didn't call you a dill. I said you are a dill if you accept 'guilt' for something you had no part of. Reread the first 3 lines of my previous comment.

Bruce said...

I think the aborigines want us to say "sorry, we understand how you feel and why you feel that way" (empathy) not "sorry, we did it" (guilt).

Jackie Huggins has been trying to get this point across over and over and over again. The guilt thing is a monolithic straw man. The reality is that it's as you say; about empathy not guilt.

An interesting straw man though. I think you would be hard pressed to reliably point to anyone (Howard included) who has intentionally nurtured the fallacy though. To borrow from Dawkins, I think it's memetic.

There's also a distinction to be made between institutional and personal responsibility. Denying Government's responsibility to indigenous Australia, is in form of argument the same as saying that a generational change/shift of tax payers can reset the balance of treasury to zero.

It's a bizarre act of doublethink for people to hold both to be true.

Mark U said...


You said that "sorry" generally implies "guilt".

In a sample of three dictionaries, none associates the word sorry with guilt. Sorry means feeling or expressing regret, sympathy or pity or a sense of loss over something done or undone.

That is the sense in which I want to say sorry.

hc said...

OK Bruce & Mark,

One meaning of 'sorry' as you acknowledge is expressing 'regret' as in;

'I regret last night that I got drunk and spilt red wine on your new carpet'.

I should not have got drunk and I had no right to spill the wine.

In the context of aboriginal debates it seems to me that as conventionally used this is the sense of the term.

Yes I could also say:

'I am sorry that your new carpet got ruined last night' (even if I had not spilt it myself).

I wonder what possible value this type of admission has to aboriginal people. It amounts to saying 'I am sorry you have low life expectancy and lousy housing. its tough but, as the dice were rolled, that was your lot'. In my view that is never the sense in which sorry is used. If it were it sounds almost patronising. There is always some idea of guilt or responsibility in the background.

Let's get on with the job of getting aboriginals into mainstream Australia - attending universities and making their way in business, politics and culture.

I am committed to practical reconciliation that gives this outcome and to a symbolic recognition of the key central role the indigenous people of australia should play in Australian affairs.

But to present aboriginals as victims is fatal - it will render such efforts ineffective.

Mark U said...


It is not whether we think it is going to serve a purpose. My understanding is that the vast majority of aborigines would like us to say sorry because it is important to them. In terms you may understand as an economist, the benefit to them far outweighs the cost to us.

I think something along the lines of "we regret what our ancestors did to you and we recognise and are sorry for the continued pain you are feeling" would seem to be the basis for a suitable form of words.

But I doubt if we will ever agree on this.

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