July 25, 2011

The Greens: the reality

New book, The Greens: Policies, Reality and Consequences, edited by Andrew McIntyre, has been launched.

It has already been given a little press coverage.  I'm betting there'll be a little more, and then the momentary torch light will be switched off.  Our journalists will continue to pretend that the image of the Greens has some congruence with reality.  They'll continue in their absolute failure to put the blowtorch to Bob Brown and his colleagues, for the same idiotic reasons they'll hold off on Tony Abbott until a week before the next federal election.  I don't know what those reasons are, does anyone?  I assume they're like the "hard questions" Julia Gillard would like to ask Rupert Murdoch, if only she could dream them up.

The book, full of essays:
suggests that the Greens have an uncontrollable urge to spend our money, a mania for legislative and regulatory control – of both institutions and individuals – a disturbing and unwarranted confidence in central planning and a belief that government knows best. Underlying this is a thoroughly naïve understanding of how the real world works.

The irony is that the Greens’ policies would not only destroy our economy but actually make the environment worse.
Sadly, we knew this, didn't we?  Haven't we always?  But someone forgot to tell the young 'uns, who are so keen on this bunch of self-serving, destructive, ignorant and self-indulgent bunch upper class gits.

The gullible and ignorant, who vote for the Greens with such glee or reverence are the very people who will never buy this book.  Deaf, dumb and blind to this or any other searing analysis of their chosen oracle.  It's a pity.  It would be nice to see this on the school curriculum, instead of lessons telling kiddies that the world is about to end because of climate change. 
The findings of these experts lead one to understand that the Greens have an uncontrollable urge to spend and tax, almost everywhere and for everything; a mania for control – through legislation and regulation of both institutions and individuals; a disturbing and unwarranted confidence in central planning and belief that government knows best; an antagonism to initiatives by the private sector or individuals; and at best, a systematic and naïve understanding, both historically and practically, of how the world works.

In these policy formulations there appears to be a profound lack of appreciation or understanding of why our society is the way it is. All the fruits of Australia’s prosperity, with its brilliant scientists, economists, farmers, technicians, talented workers and thinkers, our leaders, our institutions, our democracy, and our constitution count for nought. The Greens want to change everything and, like spoilt children, destroy what they don’t understand.

The Greens’ policies would have catastrophic, unintended consequences for this country. They would threaten its prosperity, diminish individual human rights, decrease its tolerance and harmony, and make us less secure. Worse, and this is the biggest irony, the Greens’ policies would actually damage our environment.

The tragedy is that it is precisely the “good intentions” of the Greens that draws so many people to them and to vote for them. The result, if this group with its ill-thought out policies ever gets its way, will be a disastrous return to a new primitivisation.
One book of objective analysis is not enough, nor would 100 books.  Our media representatives, with their endless opinion columns (no longer reports, it's all impression, idle thoughts and entertainment),  will ignore it all.  Every now and then they'll be startled, act surprised, when the Greens (with the ALP kowtowing) push through some appalling economic or social legislation.  Then they'll treat it as an aberration, or offer plaudits for the Greens' staunchness or bravery or both.  It's appalling.  And it's all we're left with. 

Our journalists and our federal politicians have always mirrored each other, so we now plumb the depths of empty intellects, one-up-manship, tawdry rejoinders and garbled communications.

If this is our lot, I can't imagine ever getting used to it. 

What you need to know about the Greens


  1. Solomon6:28 PM

    Torture-advocate Mirko Bagaric argues why the Greens policy is "morally unsound". Pass.

  2. Oh Solomon, that is so beneath you (or should be).

    I know you are much smarter than that comment.

    You take a single piece of data, throw it against the wall, and ignore the entire book and every argument, without having even taken a peak.

    On such ignorance the Greens depend and thrive.

  3. Solomon7:08 PM

    The above extracts are also full of empty platitudes I've heard six dozen times before. I might spend half an hour on the book if I come across it in a public library.

  4. Those comments are a summation, not the analysis. As an educated person, you know very well the difference.

    And to suggest that the conclusions that the Australian Greens are childish and a destructive force within Australian politics are mere platitudes is insulting to anyone with more than a few synapses firing, including insulting to your own intelligence.

    No one needs a book of essays, or a summary of a book review. The evidence is readily at as evidenced over more than a few decades of Bob Brown's behaviors, policies and contribution to public life, and particularly to parliament - nil, in the latter case - 15 yrs and not one piece of legislation from that man - these are not trite things for a man or a party now controlling the senate and the puppet masters of the prime minister.

    This is deeply serious.

    You should have stuck with journalism if you're going to be so shallow.

  5. Solomon6:22 PM

    I made a consumer decision not a book review; whether to spend my money and more importantly my time on this book. It is shallow but so far neither the book or its marketing has given me a reason to care. Book launch by Janet Albrechtsen? Wow, that's one not to miss.

    I'm not ignorant of the Greens policies on refugees; I've read them and thought about them. People like Kerry Nettle and Sarah Hanson Young ask thoughtful and incisive questions on the issue during senate estimates hearings. None of their other policies gives me any cause for alarm; in fact out of the top three they are the only party that supports marriage equality. Yea I think that is important.

    Adam Bandt and Scott Morrison teamed together in the house of reps to oppose the Malaysia deal. That was indeed deeply serious and the Greens were in the right and for the right reasons. The Liberals were in the right for mixed reasons, which is OK with me.

    I'm ignorant of lots of things. I don't speak Mandarin. I haven't read Ibsen.

    I am mildly curious about how Mirko and co are going to frame the refugee policy as 'incoherent' and 'morally and socially unsound' but only mildly. I read the perfunctory immigration/refugee textbook co-authored by Mirko when it was a set text. If I cared enough about what he thought on the issue I could turn to that.

  6. I don't expect you, or any Green voter, to buy the book Sol, but dismissing serious analysis as platitudes is stupid, especially from an intelligent man.

    I'm pretty sure the book covers a little bit more than just their refugee policy. Check their web site, they have many dozens of policies (unlike the Libs and the ALP, the Greens don't keep their polices hidden from the light of day), and to be honest, their refugee stance is of no interest to me.

    Both of the major parties have an obsession with "boat people", which I find repellent and deeply racist. I also don't happen to believe a single vote at the federal level has ever been cast, or been changed, because of refugee screening policies or boat people or any other refugee related matter. Not a single vote. It has always been one of the more repugnant wedge issues (yet serving no purpose at all, in terms of votes) thrown up by the Libs or the ALP every damned time we go to an election. It's quite grubby politics.

  7. Solomon8:55 PM

    It interests me; I deal with the consequences of the policy day to day. The Greens want to end mandatory detention and have asylum claims processed in the community. This won't solve all problems for asylum seekers but it will provide the smaller consolations that freedom allows whilst the larger questions surrounding their fate are determined. This is the only sane option left and the Greens are, notwithstanding these accusations of control-freakery, the only party who wants to loosen control over these people and allow them to live some semblance of a normal life.

    My impression is that Australians don't like ANY immigrants because they are not 'one of us' and they resent that any money or attention is devoted to 'them' instead of 'us'. Punishing and scapegoating asylum seekers gratifies this feeling but doesn't solve any actual problems. Which is probably why it is so attractive to politicians and their propagandists: solving an actual problem is beyond them.

  8. geoffff12:26 AM

    Malcolm Fraser, Australia's worst ever Prime Minister, and general all round prick, squandered a century's worth of basic Australian human decency in one foul swoop, and abused Australians' goodwill to genuine refugees for all time, by throwing the country's borders open to thousands of internal "refugees" during the first civil war in Lebanon.

    He actually went looking for them. It would have been better for the country had somebody shot him.

    Almost all of these people were Muslims. The people who really lost the war, and the country they once shared, were the Christians.

  9. Sol, I understand your particular interest in refugee policies (how could I not, given your current place of employment?), yet the Greens' policy is never going to go anywhere (like most of their policies). Alas, where they do now have influence, is on the much wider economic and social well being of everyone in the country.

    By all means support the Greens because you like their refugee policy or their gay marriage policy, neither of which matter to most Australians or will be passed in our federal parliament.

    And is that where the rot set in Geoff? How interesting.

  10. Solomon8:12 PM

    Australians are against refugees in 2011 because in 1976 Malcolm Fraser relaxed immigration screening to allow 4000 Lebanese civilians to enter the country so as to escape a war zone? That is pretty deranged but after all I've seen, hell, I'd believe it.

    W.H. Auden in 1939:

    Refugee Blues

    Say this city has ten million souls,
    Some are living in mansions, some are living in holes:
    Yet there's no place for us, my dear, yet there's no place for us.

    Once we had a country and we thought it fair,
    Look in the atlas and you'll find it there:
    We cannot go there now, my dear, we cannot go there now.

    In the village churchyard there grows an old yew,
    Every spring it blossoms anew:
    Old passports can't do that, my dear, old passports can't do that.

    The consul banged the table and said,
    "If you've got no passport you're officially dead":
    But we are still alive, my dear, but we are still alive.

    Went to a committee; they offered me a chair;
    Asked me politely to return next year:
    But where shall we go to-day, my dear, but where shall we go to-day?

    Came to a public meeting; the speaker got up and said;
    "If we let them in, they will steal our daily bread":
    He was talking of you and me, my dear, he was talking of you and me.

    Thought I heard the thunder rumbling in the sky;
    It was Hitler over Europe, saying, "They must die":
    O we were in his mind, my dear, O we were in his mind.

    Saw a poodle in a jacket fastened with a pin,
    Saw a door opened and a cat let in:
    But they weren't German Jews, my dear, but they weren't German Jews.

    Went down the harbour and stood upon the quay,
    Saw the fish swimming as if they were free:
    Only ten feet away, my dear, only ten feet away.

    Walked through a wood, saw the birds in the trees;
    They had no politicians and sang at their ease:
    They weren't the human race, my dear, they weren't the human race.

    Dreamed I saw a building with a thousand floors,
    A thousand windows and a thousand doors:
    Not one of them was ours, my dear, not one of them was ours.

    Stood on a great plain in the falling snow;
    Ten thousand soldiers marched to and fro:
    Looking for you and me, my dear, looking for you and me.

  11. Solomon6:57 PM

    Forced myself to re-visit my refugee text co-authored by Mirko Bagaric and John Vrachnas and others. There's a chapter called "Time for a fundamental re-think" which argues that the refugee convention is "morally unsound". To me it reads like an ideological freakout session.

    Tell me if you can see what is wrong with this picture:

    "The only manner in which refugee law can be made non-arbitrary is to remove the Convention grounds as the cornerstone of the definition and instead base the definition on the concept of deprivation and need, not the reason for the need... In a nutshell, the tenor of this chapter is that a person who will die from starvation due to a drought deserves refugee status more than one who risks being imprisoned for his or her political opinion."

  12. geoffff9:01 PM

    Sol, I don't usually comment on this issue because I have reached the age where is it is both lawful, and good and proper, to avoid matters where one's heart and brain are in different places.

    The concern here is not lack of empathy for refugees. I know a little about refugees. My concern is what might come in with refugees. Let me explain.

    I remember when the old apartheid state in Sth Africa was falling apart there was a huge increase in visa applications of all classes from white South Africans. As you would expect given the country was in turmoil and an awful lot of people had pause to consider whether they had much of a future there. I also remember how the Aussie left was careful to publicly insist all visa applications were vetted for "extremists".

    Fair enough I thought. Who wants bunches of protonazis in brown uniforms camping out in the hills and valley around here. The hippies are bad enough.

    As it turned out a fair number of those immigrants were Jews but that's another story. It's a funny old world, as someone would say.

    All I'm saying is that there is an awful lot of military conflict in the world pushing a lot of people around at anyone time and that's been going on for a long time. Like for ever. Sometimes it's permanent. Civil wars are probably the worst. Revolutions can be pretty horrible too. Famine of course. Pandemics. Genocide. Leaving aside world wars of course. They combine them all.

    Refugees from wars come in all types. It wasn't just the innocent looking for homes after the collapse of Europe. How many nazis got in where,how organised they were and who helped, a lot of people talk about.

    It is right to screen for such people. I don't care what colour they are. Political/religious homicidal lunatics can be as blonde and aryan as they come, as the world has just been reminded.

    It would be racist however if the screening did not exclude extremist Islamists just because they weren't white. Just picking an example at random entirely out of the air.

  13. geoffff9:55 PM

    W. H. Auden - September 1, 1939

    I sit in one of the dives
    On Fifty-second Street
    Uncertain and afraid
    As the clever hopes expire
    Of a low dishonest decade:
    Waves of anger and fear
    Circulate over the bright
    And darkened lands of the earth,
    Obsessing our private lives;
    The unmentionable odour of death
    Offends the September night.
    Accurate scholarship can
    Unearth the whole offence
    From Luther until now
    That has driven a culture mad,
    Find what occurred at Linz
    What huge imago made
    A psychopathic god:
    I and the public know
    What all schoolchildren learn,
    Those to whom evil is done
    Do evil in return.

  14. geoffff10:01 PM

    Exiled Thucydides knew
    All that a speech can say
    About Democracy,
    And what dictators do,
    The elderly rubbish they talk
    To an apathetic grave;
    Analysed all in his book,
    The enlightenment driven away,
    The habit-forming pain,
    Mismanagement and grief:
    We must suffer them all again.


    All I have is a voice
    To undo the folded lie,
    The romantic lie in the brain
    Of the sensual man-in-the-street
    And the lie of Authority
    Whose buildings grope the sky:
    There is no such thing as the State
    And no one exists alone;
    Hunger allows no choice
    To the citizen or the police;
    We must love one another or die.


  15. "The concern here is not lack of empathy for refugees. I know a little about refugees. My concern is what might come in with refugees."

    Perfectly sensible. Only a fool would say: let them all come!

    And let's face it, vetting clearly isn't a rock solid approach. Maybe the 80/20 rule holds with vetting out the bad eggs.

    I remember when the old apartheid state in Sth Africa was falling apart there was a huge increase in visa applications of all classes from white South Africans. ... I also remember how the Aussie left was careful to publicly insist all visa applications were vetted for "extremists"."

    Not many coloured South Africans came in back then. Most were white farmers, I gather. Interesting that the left were concerned about white "extremist" farm families.

    Appeasers to the left ... but depending entirely on skin colour?

    They never notice the outrageous inconsistencies of their belief system.

  16. Solomon6:28 PM

    Htoo Htoo Han and Moon Hsar have just outed themselves as war criminals that came through refugee flows. They should be brought before a court of law; Burma doesn't fill me with much confidence that it might be able to provide the most basic of protections the state should be able to offer its members: the right to a fair trial.

  17. Solomon7:19 PM

    The Greens policy involves security screening. The only difference being they want to end mandatory detention of all asylum seekers who happen to be in Australia without a visa, regardless of whether or not there is any reason to believe they are security threat.

    If you don't believe me:

    "House asylum seekers who arrive without a valid visa in publicly owned and managed open reception centres, where entry and exit to these centres are unrestricted except where prohibited for medical or security reasons specified in clause 28."

    Which is then defined as someone who poses a "serious criminal threat" to Australia.

    The offshore resettlement program is made up of people selected by Australia. It is and should remain non-discriminatory according to religion and political opinion and be determined according to priority of need. The fact that a person is of the same religion of other people on the wrong side of a war isn't a very good reason to exclude them. One wouldn't think to exclude Sri Lankan Hindus because the LTTE was made up of Hindu Tamils, or Sri Lankan Buddhists because the SLA is made up of Buddhist Sinhalese.

    As far as I can ascertain from the reports in the Murdoch press, Fraser relaxed health/character/work requirements, not security screening, for the 4000 Lebanese. I don't know who "extremist" is meant to apply to with any clarity. However if an individual or group pose an actual security threat to Australian people, of course they should be refused entry.

  18. Let them all roam free, regardless of security risks?


    Can't wait 'til Bob is PM in his own right.

  19. Yes, I believe you.

    Why would you make it up?

    Why did you think the unthinking Green policy would be disbelieved?

    The Greens policies are invariably premised on lack of thought to the real world or real world consequences.

    They can get away with having such policies, because there is no risk they will be the ruling party - they can have any policy they want when they don't have to be accountable. They would bring the country to its knees within a couple of months if they were in power, and they would have no idea what to do if they were suddenly held accountable and responsible.

  20. Solomon8:22 PM

    The policy is to detain individuals in "reception centres" if they pose a security risk. I'm not sure why you think this means they will "roam free". They just don't want to detain every single person who arrives by boat for the 18 odd months it takes to finalise their case, even if that person presents no security risk.

  21. I don't know what bit you thought everyone would "disbelieve" Sol. Very confusing.

    I missed the bit about housing the risks within "reception centres" - sounds lovely, welcoming, a nice holliday.

    How does a "reception centre" differ to the evil lock up centres that we use now? How are they better than every other country that locks-up asylum seekers who have arrived without approval?

    Sorry, but we all know exactly what would happen with the let them out scenario - hundreds of millions of dollars spent trying to track down people who vanish, even though the gov't wants to offer them asylum. Really, it's just not worth the hassle.

  22. Solomon4:11 PM

    The major difference is that only the handful of people assessed as a security risk would have their movements restricted. Since most asylum seekers are not a security risk it would reduce the detention population significantly.

    The Greens policy would also grant the right to seek review of a negative security assessment.

    Asylum seekers are not likely to abscond whilst their claims are being assessed. They have come seeking the protection of a state; if you're at risk of deportation, arrest, lack work rights and can't even go to the police if you get raped, then you're not safe and are not going to feel any safer until you have some lawful status. If they wanted to live that way they'd stay in a transit country like Indonesia or Malaysia. They are at least no more likely to abscond than those who arrive by plane and whom we allow to "roam free".

    If they are going to abscond it will be at the point when they come to realise their case is hopeless, no-one believes them and everyone has stopped listening.

  23. Solomon9:04 PM

    Ugh, I don't know why I do this to myself. This isn't even a book, it's a pamphlet, the kind of thing that should be given away by fruitcakes on the street corner. I bought it because it could fit in my leather jacket pocket and I wouldn't have to carry it. I'm partial to Katherine Betts but she's not given any scope in here.

    The Bagaric/Faris piece has the same loopy notion of trying to reorganise the Refugee convention according to a hierarchy of needs but is far less interesting than my legal text. At least that explained some of the utilitarian philosophy behind it and quirky moments like when they declared that forced organ donation was "not so horrifying" as people make out. As far as I can tell it had nothing to do with the Greens.

    I suppose I should read the rest of it and then give an informed opinion. I don't think I'm going to.

  24. Arrrhhhh!

    I don't believe you went out and bought it Sol. Why torture yourself?

    I think it's of interest - and use - that someone has kicked off a long overdue analysis of what the Australian Greens are really on about, and the potential consequences (and it is only a start, there needs to be a great deal more), but I'm inclined to wait until there are more works, with a little more grunt. I think some serious thinking and writing on Brown's imprint on the current incarnation of the party, and what is likely to happen when he is gone, would be a worthy area of study too,

    "quirky moments like when they declared that forced organ donation was "not so horrifying" as people make out.

    If by "forced", they mean opt-out, rather than the current opt-in ... not horrifying, but won't necessarily achieve the aim of having more spare parts suitable for transplants. And it's not a stance unique to the Greens, as many people, some in the medical community, would prefer to see an opt-out system.

    If "forced" means something else, then, arh, I don't know.

    Organ transplants not high on my list of concerns, other than the significant irritation I feel every time the chorus of "we don't have enough body parts" cranks up, which it does with monotonous regularity. It's a whinge that only makes sense if you feel entitled to someone else's body parts, and if you feel that not nearly enough people are dying, in the right circumstances; and that medical progress is keeping far too many people alive who, in past decades, would have been nothing more than a carcass waiting to be picked apart.

  25. Solomon3:40 PM

    No, they are not talking about an opt-out system. I've typed this out because I need to get it straight in my own head as well.

    From "Migration and refugee law" co-authored by Mirko Bagaric:

    "The main general argument against utilitarianism is that because it prioritises net happiness over individual pursuits, it fails to safeguard fundamental individual interests. As a result of this, it has been argued that in some circumstances utilitarianism leads to horrendous outcomes, such as punishing the innocent or forcing organ donations where the donations would maximise happiness by saving the lives of many or assisting those most in need."

    Then under a heading called: "Horror scenarios not so bad" they conclude:

    "Once we come to grips with the fact that our decisions in extreme situations will be compartmentalised to desperate predicaments and will not have a snowball effect and serve to henceforth diminish the high regard we normally have for important individual concerns and interests, we find that when placed between a rock and a hard place we do and should [italics!], though perhaps somewhat grudgingly, take the utilitarian option. In the face of extreme situations we are quite ready to accept that one should, or even must, sacrifice oneself or others for the good of the whole."

    Since most authoritarian countries live under a perpetual state of emergency the qualification about "extreme situations" doesn't give me much comfort.

    I also can't see how Mindy Sublime could endorse the whole-sale dumping of individualism in favour of collectivism. The Greens book doesn't mention any of this (nor do I see why this book needed to) but I feel I'm on pretty firm ground stating that it has the same philosophical underpinning given its co-author and since its analysis of the convention is precisely the same.

    Organ donation is a trigger for me after learning of claims by Falun Gong practitioners that the CCP was organ harvesting. For a time the whole idea of donation was repulsive to me, for the same reason that cannibalism is.

    More recently a number of clients of AI have come to us wanting assistance in registering as organ donors, under the belief that they will die in detention and so want to contribute something to Australia. It's fascinating and disturbing.

  26. Solomon4:21 PM

    Interestingly the Tasmanian Greens did push for an opt-out system. I don't know what the Federal response was, although given that it isn't mentioned in their health policy I suspect they ignored it.

    An opt-out system (unlike our friend Mirko) still has some lingering respect for individual rights. My preference is for an opt-in system; I've suffered to much at the hands of doctors ignoring my consent to countenance it. A presumption that I want to donate my organs is, alas, deeply presumptuous.

  27. Solomon11:40 AM

    I was looking for reviews of this book online and all I could find was Kevin Andrews. I think Kevin and I are the only dupes who went out and bought it. Now I feel like I'm stuck in an elevator with him.

    I was curious to see what our former Immigration Minister would have to say on the chapters from Faris/Bagaric on refugees and those from Katherine Betts, a sociologist, on immigration policy.

    In his review he references an article he wrote in Quadrant where he cites Immanuel Kant stating that man should not be used as a means to an end and has inherent dignity and inalienable human rights, etc. His critique of the Greens is from precisely the opposite angle to Bagaric/Faris which is anti-rights and utilitarian and perfectly comfortable using people as a means to an end.

    Furthermore Katherine Betts is in favour of growth limits and her critique is that whilst the Greens are often assumed to be in favour of population control, since 1998 they've shifted their focus on to things like distribution and world population and been silent on the issue of numbers.

    Andrews article prior to this book's publication attacks the Greens, again from the opposite angle, by dismissing that there is any over-population in the world and that this part of their anti-human agenda etc.

    He then comes up with this wonderfully ridiculous analysis:

    "Consistent with their belief that the world is overpopulated and the environment is in danger, the Greens want to reduce immigration."

    Does he honestly believe that the Greens immigration policy is motivated by concerns over *world* population? The net effect of immigration, however it is structured, on the world population is ZERO.

    Nevermind. What I find curious is that he agreed to endorse this book even though the two chapters in the area of his key portfolio profoundly contradicts his own analysis of Greens policies.

  28. Whoa - I wish I had the whole chapter, and need to get my head around that Sol. Does sound derivative of Peter Singer, rather than anything the Greens came up with (they're not, collectively or individually great intellects).

    Have started new thread with your extracted quotes and commentary, so that I can think about this with more focus.