July 27, 2011

Political witch hunt

Labor backbenchers are beginning to press for a wide-ranging inquiry in the wake of the UK phone hacking scandal, joining the Greens and lower house independents in arguing the case for an Australian probe.

Victoria's Steve Gibbons told The Age yesterday a new Australian media inquiry was necessary - declaring some publications were pursuing ''vendettas of hate''. ''People will tolerate right-wing bias in newspapers … but when right-wing bias turns to vendettas of hate, that's when we need to have a look at it,'' Mr Gibbons said.
Where is this "vendetta of hate" being pursued? 

The vitriol of the language being used by our leaders is not a measure of it's truth.

This campaign, if it had merit, would not require such absurd and unfounded accusations.  Emotive nonsense, from the very top, is merely illustrative of the desperation and depths to which our federal political edifice has fallen.  Anything, it would seem, to divert attention from  governance and policies is good enough.  Anyone to blame for the lack of popularity of the Labor part, their leader and their policies is good enough.  If not News Corp, some other handy matter would no doubt have come to hand.  Bob Brown's fear of, finally, being held accountable, is stamped all over this ugly (and it will be costly too) proposed inquisition.
New South Wales Labor backbencher John Murphy told The Age that dominance by News Limited was an issue. ''Seventy per cent holding in our major daily newspapers is too much for one media company, particularly with the other electronic media interests which Murdoch holds and which only serves to reinforce the messages in his papers,'' Mr Murphy said.
Really?  Then why hold an inquiry?  Change the laws if that's what you want to do.  Have some guts about it.  Murdoch has such wide ownership of daily newspapers here because he is legally permitted to.  He has done nothing wrong.  

Pressure mounts for broad media inquiry


  1. Anonymous11:57 PM

    Hear hear, Caz!


  2. geoffff11:01 AM

    And they are a variety of papers pitched to different sectors of a free market. Unlike Fairfax/ABC which is a monolith.

    This is the BBC syndrome. These guys can't bear the thought of free people voluntarily parting with their own money to buy media services from private businesses that can only survive by making a profit out of giving them what they want. For them this notion is wrong on so many levels.

  3. Probably they're just acting tough though - because if they do hold an inquiry and then lose government mid-inquiry, what's to stop a Coalition government broadening it out and looking at the ownership of the ABC?

  4. Tim - they're not that logical, truly they're not!

    Yes Geoff, it's a free market, regulated by governments. Murdoch (more accurately News Corp), whatever one might think of him, legally owns both the best (The Australian) and almost the worst (Melb Herald Sun) papers in this little country. Herald Sun can't be deemed the worst, since other states and the regions have pathetic print media, it's a wonder they know what's going on anywhere.

    What irks me so much is that they are calling for a "media" inquiry, when the only person 'of interest' named so far is Murdoch and the only supporting evidence for the need of an inquiry are vague accusations of "hate media", meaning any newspaper that doesn't tow the Greens line, with absolute purity, and any newspaper that doesn't prop up the PM and the appalling Federal Labor party - which should, I would have thought, include ever media outlet in the country, not just papers owned by Murdoch.

    And where are our journalists in all this? Mealy-mouthed. No outrage at this blatantly diversionary tactic. No outrage at the wasted funding that would go into an inquiry. No analysis of why the Greens and the ALP are suddenly so keen, when nothing about media ownership has been on the political policy agenda since Keating & Hawke changed to the current rules of ownership.

    If the parties believe there should be stronger privacy protections - as recommended by a law review years ago, not acted upon by either party - all they have to do is write some new laws; there's no need for an inquiry.

  5. Anonymous7:35 PM

    All newspapers should hate politicians equally. That would be fair and balanced.


  6. The Fairfax Press might be a "monolith". If that's true then the Murdoch Press - particularly its editorial, opinion pages and blogs - are are monologue of political monotheism.

    This should be read,. Hear, hear.

    An inquiry will achieve nothing. Interesting, though, that at the height of the shenanigans in England, one had to flick over to the fifth and sixth pages of the Telegraph to "find out".

  7. Mike - for all his never-ending semantic analysis (and my how he goes on and on and on!), my thought, a much briefer one, and not one even alluded to in that blog post, was: where are all the leftie luvvies pleading that we examine the "root cause" of this Christian-fueled anger and hate. Where are the left and the greens demanding that we take a long hard look at our fuggly selves to uncover the "real" reason for this violent, murderous act.

    That question still remains: where are they now, why aren't they doing their usual hand-wringing appeasement siren song?

  8. The whole lot annoys the shit out of me.

    Forget the "leftie luvvies" - they are little different to the Bolts.

    The fact is - as the blogger relates - that the arsehole was a Christian fundamentalist. The west has them in something resembling an abundance. Fact is you are not to speak of them in such terms because you might tarnish Christians "at large" with that brush.

    Bullshit. We all know the code: Christian fundamentalists are rogues and errant individuals. Muslim fundamentalists are par for the fucking course and to be viewed as such: fuck them off because they're all the same.

    That latter is the Murdoch press daily digest - especially, as I said, its editorial, opinion and blog pages.

    Bolt had to twice (if I recall) correct the post he put up (referred to in the blog) and still failed to rescue himself from looking like an absolutely egregious fool.

    Absolutely deserved.

    There is no greater fool than he who defends the indefensible - particularly when pretends not to have written it.

  9. Then again, perhaps Bolt - and his fellow "writers" - are like Alan Jones: merely peddlers of opinion and not "journalists" and so not subject to any scrutiny.

    Oh fuck off.

    That is the greatest wank. But then, Alan would know that wouldn't he...

  10. Do I need to point out that the greatest number of fundamentalist Christians are in America?

    That pretty much addresses why no questions are asked, Mike. Never will be.

    Alan Jones, Neil Mitchell, etc - jeeezz - our fellow citizens believe every bigoted word from those guys. Sickening.

    Bolt, I put him into a different basket. Nowhere near as damaging and intellectually bereft as the shock-jocks pandering to the perpetually alarmed.

  11. geoffff8:16 AM

    "Bullshit. We all know the code: Christian fundamentalists are rogues and errant individuals. Muslim fundamentalists are par for the fucking course and to be viewed as such: fuck them off because they're all the same."

    Couldn't agree more. Eloquently put.

    However by and large the problem right now is not with Christian fundamentalists and it really is trite to pretend it is. Even if in fact this is what this killer is, which appears unlikely.

    Religion, especially fervent religion, can be a very strange thing to behold and a little scary. But there is nothing in it of itself that necessarily predisposes the afflicted to incredible acts of slaughter, despite its astonishing power.

    That needs the addition of factor x. Radical Islam has that ingredient in abundance and it is a weird sort of inverted bigotry to ignore this.

    Christians and Jews are hardly immune of course just as neo-stalinists and fervent atheists are not.. That is both self evident and irrelevant and should not be allowed to deflect public debate from the grave issue in hand.

  12. Couldn't agree more. Eloquently put

    Actually, I was quite angry at the time. That anger addressed to the prats like Bolt who did attempt to make a gratuitous "religious" issue of what is a shocking incident committed by one wholly screw loose individual.

    The man is utterly predictable as is Alan Jones. Since when did an expressed opinion - backed by facts (figures) - escape srutiny because one is not a journalist? The backside prattles on to the converted and, because they listen, Jones is "correct" even if he's wrong? Many an ignorant peasant listened to the Catholic Church proclaim the Earth the centre of the universe did that make it correct? Gallileo knew better (and Copernicus) but perhaps they were journalists.

    Christians and Jews are hardly immune of course just as neo-stalinists and fervent atheists are not

    Atheists are actually the worst. Fervent Atheists are amongst the most proselytsing indivuals on the planet - and, on Friday afternoons at the "Bloodbath", the most annoying.

  13. I don't even understand the point, let alone the anger.

    Touting that despicable man as a Christian Fundamentalist has as much meaning, and has garnered even less serious attention or analysis as the red-herring that he trained himself for his cowardly task by playing World of Warcraft.

    I haven't seen a single article, and never will, of biblical analysis to assist the public at large to understand the alleged religious impetus for the murders.

    No one seriously believes that his Christian leanings, whatever they might be, were the foundations of his long planned actions. He is a racist and a bigot and has some rather fascist leanings, but otherwise, his actions were singlularly his own.

    As for atheists being "worst" and "proselytising" ... a trendy dismissal, which fails entirely to engage with the serious matters presented. If there arguments are sometimes shrill, it's due to the exasperation and anger with the way the world - politics, economics, cultures, societies, and yes, even science - continue upon a foundation of fairytale, as if that's quite unremarkable. They also have no interest in converting anyone, the intellectuals at the barricades just want the fairy-tales keep strictly within the personal and private realms, where, with any luck, they can do less damage. There is no point to conversions, since there is no club to join, nor gatherings to attend or at which to worship.

  14. I don't even understand the point, let alone the anger

    At whom (or what): Bolt or Jones or the Atheists? Let's just go in order...

    Bolt, when the news broke of this disgusting act, immediately suggested that "Muslim terrorists" were responsible for the attack. He then spent his time editing and re-editing his blog as it became blatantly clear that the responsible arsehole was just that: a screw-loose arsehole. The blog here, edits in place. It is utterly predictable that Bolt would attempt to score points by such assertions: it fits with his Boltian world view.

    Jones I've already explained. I'm not a journalist so I don't have to support my anger against him with facts or subject it to scrutiny. The whole "defence" is intellectually bereft.

    ... a trendy dismissal, which fails entirely to engage with the serious matters presented

    "Trendy"? Does that invalidates a view?

    Clearly you do not know the atheists I do. Some of these people are far more annoying than those black-clad Mormons who occasionally block my doorway. Their expressed intention is to "convert". Yes, convert. The fellow who works with me (72 years old and a wonderful bloke this behaviour aside) is extremely proud of his "converts". Counter to your view he not only attends meetings of his fellow travellers, he annually goes to conventions. His avowed purpose is to "convert" those with religious beliefs into atheism.

    I've no great issue with this concept: religions have been doing same for millennia. I have a problem when such proselytising individuals fail entirely to engage with the serious matters that would result if their view became the dominant construct of society.

    This particular bloke would remove religion, and all associated with it, so as to create a "rational" world. In this rational world guilt, fear, "fairy-tales" and, most important of all, the tax free status of religious institutions are things of the past.

    What he can never explain is how his model would replace the "religious' hospitals that atheists take for granted; how it would replace the rather large contribution to schools and education; just who would pick up the tab for the social work carried out by these institutions that governments of all colours have been hiving off over the decades.

    This is similar to the brick wall those advocating the dismantling of the private health industry face: who provides those services when gone?

    I'm far from a religious zealot and I do not preach religion or seek to convert people. Mr B well knows, though, that the next time I'm buying him a VB (he has deplorable taste in ale) at the Bloodbath on Fridays and he seeks to engage me in his proselytising, the beer buying will cease.

  15. I have been well and truly lost with some of that.

    The Jones thing I was aware of. He can ponce about abrogating all accountability and responsibility, with impunity. It's appalling, and he gets paid handsomely for being appalling and morally questionable.

    Bolt - was not aware of any of that, and it's hilarious! I hardly ever read Bolt; he's only interesting if read rarely (as with any ideologue - left, right, green or centre - it's really boring stuff if ingested frequently). What a twit of a man! The event did not automatically register thoughts of terrorism; it was atypical. Given that information came out fairly quickly, Bolt must have been typing furiously almost the minute the gun was surrendered. If he'd waited five more minutes, he might have saved himself the embarrassment. And he should be embarrassed, not for being wrong - that happens - but for his far too smug bigotry and right wing zealoutry. Yeah, sometimes it's not a guy in a turban and kaftan doing the killing. Sheesh, even Bolt knows this. Most "terrorists" in God-Bless-America have been home grown white christians. Not really a surprise to find that, on the odd occasion, the same would be the case in other countries. In other words, Bolt should know better. For a smart guy, he is often nothing more than a glib smart arse.

    I don't doubt your immediate experience of some weird atheists. And it IS weird. I was only talking about the high priests of the 'movement' and opposed to the disciples or followers.

    What I didn't say in my other comment was that I would be quite keen to hear some of the high profile high priests speak, but so far have resisted attending the atheist conventions held in Melbourne (only annual, two so far, I think ... don't know if they will continue). Firstly, attending such to hear them speak at the converted would not be of interest. Secondly - and those famous high priests of the cause must surely be acutely aware of this, even if the attendees, apparently aren't - the irony of attending a convention about atheism is too much for me. I understand why they've held them, and I understand that short term goals of these events, but no, there is something profoundly wrong with spending a day with a few thousand atheists, all in vigorous agreement with the speakers. What's the point?

  16. I find it funny that your old friend believes guilt or fear are bound with religion.

    Certainly, religion of all flavors has given the notion and consequences of guilt bad PR.

    I'd gather that your friend has never been in any situation that produced true fear, otherwise he'd know that religion has nothing to do with fear either.

  17. The religious hospitals and many other facilities could easily be replaced Mike, but that's not the point. While supposedly not for profit, the hospitals and the nursing homes are a massive source of income for the churches. On that basis, no government would ever touch them. Indeed, churches (and I include the Salvo's, for example), continue to grow their industries, year after year, as gov't continue to outsource service delivery. There are billions of dollars at stake Mike - the churches would fight to keep hold of that work.

    They don't provide or get all of it, of course, they compete with the rest of the welfare sector for those dollars. Ditto and likewise - the health and welfare sector would go into meltdown if the gov't changed delivery, or simply pulled that plug on services that cost millions but deliver nothing, or are badly delivered.

    There's a massive industry there ... not very different to the vested interests in the finance industry, salivating at the dollars flowing in, never ending, to mandated superannuation funds. The health and welfare sector is the same - barnacles on the ship.

    End rant//

    Why the unfounded assumption that atheists take religious hospitals for granted? Where is the evidence of their ignorance?

    I know I don't, but only because I would choose a secular hospital, so I need to know which are religious (it's not always obvious).

    Does anyone take any hospital or medical "for granted"? Regardless of the supplier?

    Again, I come back to it being an industry. The private sector - whether schools or hospitals or nursing homes, whether secular or religious - are running businesses, not charitable institutions. (The religious nursing homes want $350K up front, just like the secular!)

    It's just an odd comment for you to make, that's all. I don't think atheists are lining up to be admitted to religious based hospitals, if they can avoid it, so it would not, in general, be a service they "take for granted" - merely one they don't wish to avail themselves.

    Your old friend sounds a bit deluded, as much as anything. I do wonder how he measures his success at 'conversion', and does he follow up to ensure they don't slide back?

    Churches and taxes - for their businesses; now that's an argument that will one day have to come out in parliament. A long way off, decades, but yes, for their non-charitable work, in a couple of decades, the majority of single and secular voters will demand that their businesses start paying the hundreds of millions in taxes that have been thus far avoided. If they deliver businesses - and they do - they have an unfair advantage over competitors, and that will need to be equalized, some day, as well as taxes currently avoided being paid into the collective social bucket.

  18. Mr. B is not "weird", just passionate in the religious sense. There is a "duty" to convert those of a religious bent to reality and to rid the world of fear-mongering and guilt trowling that is religion. Not to mention the fairy-tale hocus pocus.

    Yes the "religious" hospitals are a different thing now days. Not a few cannot remember that such hospitals started as such; fewer still what a "nursing sister" meant. Ditto (to a lesser extent) the schools. That does not mean that we can go back to that. The fact is they are now part of the service delivery and would leave a large hole if removed.

    So it's bad to generalise but two I know (including Mr B) are privately insured. Not unusual. That insurance allows them to use the services of such hospitals rather than the run "the gammut" of the public health system.

    Don't know that Mr B is deluded - he's simply a "believer" and a zealot to the cause. He's a lawyer and quite intelligent. Much historical argument takes place of a Friday arvo. He did manage to fall over in insisting that the Shia version of Islam has so many "levels" (Mullahs, etc) due to the fact of aping Roman rule in Iran. Rome never held Iran and only ever held fleeting dalliances with Mesopotamia.

    Like I say: no religious zealotry here. I would much rather point out the foibles of a Roman religion whose central (Latin) Rite is based on original Greek texts and whose original church was the seat of the Greek east under the Seleucids.

    Ironies abound...

  19. All the same, how does he quantify his 'conversions'? Does he validate in some manner? Whatever his delight in the exercise, it's delusional unless he does follow up to ensure his converts aren't secretly praying or worshiping graven images in moments of weakness.

    Nowadays, there would be more secular private hospitals and schools than religious. About 60% of people here now have private health insurance (thanks to a compelling gov't policy, not because they want it), and none would have need of choosing a religious hospital - if they did, because particular surgeons avail themselves of the facilities, they likely don't give it any thought.

    All religious schools now take the irreligious, out of necessity. Even Catholic schools are forced to permit non-believers, so as to maintain student numbers.

    It's remarkable how slow our pollies are to change the most obvious deficiencies in the tax system, yet will jump in with no end of diabolical new taxes. A hundred years ago, tax exception for all religious activities no doubt made sense, but the logic has long since gone. Their businesses should not be tax exempt, it's that simple. If that resulted in the believers petulantly pulling out of those industries, so what - plenty of companies would buy them out. Not a big deal. Nothing would change, other than ownership.

    And I will always think that atheists proselytising is counter to atheism. Intellectual argument is not the same as attempting conversions, particularly if human welfare is at stake.

  20. geoffff9:15 PM

    I just don't get atheism. How can you have a movement based on everyone agreeing they don't believe in something they can't define?

    Good luck with that one.

  21. geoffff9:39 PM

    It is interesting that the Federal Govt is pouring money into invalid and elderly home care through services outsourced to private institutions.

    One I know of is a Freemasons body and presumably NFP tax status. For certain, church bodies and other NFPs are also in the market. No way the Freemasons would be allowed to have the scene to themselves.

    The govt spends this money because it is good public policy. The care of the sick and elderly is enormously expensive. Now more than ever. A dollar spent on keeping them in their own homes is a $1000 of public money saved.

    I don't have a problem with govts working through and with these bodies. That too makes sense.

  22. Geoff - why perplexed about atheism? It has already been well defined. Assertion of something that can't be proven can, by the same logic and same persuasiveness, be asserted as untrue. It's not complicated.

    Yes, keeping people in their homes is by far cheaper, which is why governments have closed down so many facilities over the decades, whether for the mentally ill, the disabled or the elderly. They didn't do this for pure reasons.

    Still, I don't understand your point - the gov't puts very, very little into keeping the elderly at home, and precious little into funding for nursing homes. When a down payment of $250K upwards is needed to secure a bed in a barely adequate nursing home, with few beds publicly funded, that's pretty cheap for gov't - that's the individual having to stump up that kind of cash, and assumes that a home is owned and can be sold.

    I have no objection to whoever being in that market, but there's a question mark about the tax-free status of all businesses run by religious groups. Not there charitable works, their businesses.

    ... also govt's don't "work through these bodies" ... they deliberately got rid of the gov't services, and those services were tendered to the private sector. Religious groups compete for funding along with other private sector organisations. They didn't come along a fill the gap without billions of gov't dollars!

  23. geoffff11:06 PM

    No difficulty with that if that's all it's about. But that leaves a vacuum where people are entitled to believe what they like.

    So long as they don't try to shove it up my face I don't care too much really. Same goes for atheists and communists as mormons or anyone else. Don't mind if they are polite and leave immediately. But once they threaten holy war or try to requisition the country estate it's time to dust off the weapons.

  24. geoffff11:14 PM

    It's not the cost of the bed but the cost of the ongoing care. People are living longer but not necessarily in good physical health.

  25. Geoff - you're being difficult! Surely "getting a bed" is a prerequisite for getting the CARE!

    It's not only the elderly, most of the medical budget goes into end of life care, the last six months, or three months of two months ... no matter the age of the patient. More than 80%, I believe. And then people carp about the need to put every expensive drug and every expensive treatment, efficacy proven or not, onto the subsidy list ... then they wonder why more and more money is poured into health, with no change in outcomes (for the living). We spend hugely on giving people extra days. It's irrational.

    Medicine has always been an irrational balance between unlimited wants and limited means. It's one of the few policy areas in which the wants are never satisfied.

    "But that leaves a vacuum where people are entitled to believe what they like."

    But none of us get to believe what we like. Ever. We are all bound by the social, economic, ethnic and cultural times in which we find ourselves living.

    Take something simple, and contemporary: carbon "pollution" (as our PM and her guys insist on calling it). No one is permitted to disagree with the hypothesis of global warming, without being abused. This, despite the null hypothesis not being up for testing, and not, of course, being funded - AT ALL. Mere assertion (not "consensus") has replaced science (yes, anything touched by the green crowd really does have the echos of religiosity).

    Or you could throw in gay marriage. Another one that is now politically incorrect to argue against, or worse, to be indifferent about. We're all supposed to care about gay people getting married, even if we don't!

    That's just the tiny issues, day to day matters. That's not even attempting to outline the myriad ways, millions of them, that from the day we're born, we have no say in what we believe. (It's why, btw, women believe they need hair extensions or breast implants, or even hair dye or nail polish.)

  26. geoffff8:37 PM

    More is available so people consume more.

    No doubt we would breed more but for the brutal methods we use to curb it.

    Same goes for health services. There's certainly more of that. I was in Southport hospital district again today. Same elderly neighbour. It's a huge business district. White coats and scalpels glinting in the streets everywhere. The workers looked prosperous. None of them struck me as driven by a vow of poverty.

    Somebody has to pay for it all but that is secondary. The cost falls where it lays. I once paid over $5000 for an operation on a little dog that I had just driven to Brisbane in an emergency dash. More than once in fact. Alright .. I'll admit it .. more than twice ...

    My point? When it comes to health services it is important to ensure that as far as possible what is available is made available. You can't expect individual consumers to make rational decisions. People go to war over a single life.

  27. Can't agree that the cost falls where it lays, Geoff. It doesn't, not here, and I consider that to be a good thing. It would be horrible if we had a health systems like that in the US, for example.

    If a few hundred people want the gov't to pay a pro rata of $500K per year to keep them alive for a few extra weeks - well, that's you and me paying, if the gov't agrees to every such emotive request.

    As it is, the gov't caves-in on almost every time, which blows out the health budget, with no demonstrable value for money, nor benefit to the health status of our society overall.

    Sure, it's the equivalent of going to war over one life (we do it at the beginning and end of life, and bugger all the years in between, which is dumb), but this isn't about saving any lives, just extending them by a fraction.

    Therein our irrationality condemns others to poor health or under-serviced health needs - not at the end of life, but during their lives.

    Heroic medicine has a lot to answer for, as do continual stories and news articles.

    Let's not forget that the reasons behind longevity and good health - nothing has eclipsed them yet, nothing clever or heroic comes even close - remain clean drinking water, sewage systems, antibiotics and cheap vaccines.

    We still haven't managed to give clean water to everyone in the world, just by the way, despite that it would cost less to do than the first couple of years of budget for our "carbon tax".

  28. geoffff3:00 PM

    "Let's not forget that the reasons behind longevity and good health - nothing has eclipsed them yet, nothing clever or heroic comes even close - remain clean drinking water, sewage systems, antibiotics and cheap vaccines."

    And nutrition of course. Couldn't agree more except for the one that eclipses absolutely everything when it comes to good health. Peace. Yeah I know, I'm obssessed with the subject but none of these things matter once the lunatic fuckers start flying into buildings or blowing themselves up or firing off missiles or starting wars or generally slaughtering as many human lives as possible in whatever span of life these freaks of nature and culture have been allowed by unfortunate probability.

    For instance.

  29. Nutrition, of course! I knew I was forgetting something from my off the cuff list. Although nutrition also remains vexed - the over and under fed.

    Peace - no, does not eclipse the basics Geoff. Five thousand children under the age of five still die every day for want of clean water or a twenty cent vaccine (then we'd need to add in the daily deaths of all of those over the age of five ...). All the wars - official and unofficial - don't come near the death counts of inequity, neglect, lack of will and care.

  30. geofffff7:51 PM

    Nothing comes close to a big and nasty war in the human misery stakes. Nothing. Nothing destroys so much even before you count the inevitable flow-ons such as genocide, famine, epidemics and revolution.

  31. geoffff7:56 PM

    Not to mention the vast waste of human resources, genius, capital and knowledge that could have been diverted. Stop war and you solve pretty much everything.

  32. I think we're going to have to agree to disagree on our respective foci Geoff.

    On that last point: "the vast waste of human resources, genius, capital and knowledge that could have been diverted. Stop war and you solve pretty much everything."

    Not really. It would take remarkably little human capital, certainly no genius, minor knowledge and a comparatively piddling budget to provide clean water, a range of basic vaccines and medicines, nutrition and eduction for everyone in the world.

    An outbreak of peace, however welcome, would still not result in any diversion of skills or money to providing all people with the basics, including basic dignity and sufficient education and resources to help themselves.

    Famine, I imagine, is just as brutal - and takes more lives - than modern wars.

  33. geoffff7:28 PM

    Famine can be the consequence of a modern war just as much as last century. How much of Africa's starvation is caused by on going or recent wars? But I take your point and we have no issue here. We all look at the world differently and that is good and natural. I can see where you are coming from and I'm pretty certain you can too.

    I make no secret of how I see the world afterall. And why. That's for sure.

  34. geofffff7:58 PM

    Also can I say a word in support of "heroic medicine"? A lot of this cutting edge stuff advances the boundaries of human knowledge. Huge resources, private and public, are devoted to medical research. Vast. Include pharmaceuticals and this has to be the biggest industry on the face of the planet.

    This is because it is important.

    I like "heroism" as a concept. Maybe because it appeals to the bloke in me. In general I prefer more heroism to less. I'd like to see more heroism in medicine I think. The opportunity for heroism should be extended more to the patients.

    Some years ago I invested in a company called Ventracor that was developing an artificial heart device. Stupid, because after about 200 implants and on the verge of a FDA approval it got caught up in the GFC and went belly up and I lost all my money. But hey it took guts.

    By coincidence one of the first volunteers for an implant in the Melbourne trials was a distant relative. That took more guts I suppose.

  35. (Belated) – Yes, no question that many an internal or external war has been the cause of famine. More often political and economic (eg, the potato famine in Ireland was avoidable, and just as obscene as anything in Africa … and so it continues over the millennia).

    War, as a root cause of poverty and famine is, I think, wrong. Mostly war is not the causation.

    To quote from a recent article in The Age:

    Then there is an even older problem - poverty. One billion people who subsist on $1 a day cannot afford to buy food. One of the tragic facts of the modern world is that there is no shortage of food production. The planet is already producing almost twice as much as we need. World output today could feed 12 billion people, according to the Food and Agricultural Organisation, for a world population of 7 billion. There are only problems of price, supply and distribution.

    It’s the same old story, written a thousand times before. Unchanged, except the date.

    As a species, we are an indifferent and stupid bunch (especially when it comes to our cousins of the duskier hues).

    My objection to heroic medicine is the fraud of it, those daily blaring headlines of this or that break through, 99 per cent of which will never come to fruition or be commercialized. I’m fine with the latter; trial and error is the way of science, but once was a time when hopes for miracle cures were not daily pandered to in the media.

    Even when heroic medicine is portrayed without the entirely wishful thinking (of some potential thing that would, even if proven warranted, wouldn’t reach the market for another decade), the odds and consequences are never mentioned. Eg, a baby saved at 23 weeks is a sign to all that all babies can be saved, not matter how premature, and they will be perfect … as opposed to blind, or deaf or disabled. No, let’s not mention reality. Let’s focus on the aberration and present it as the norm.

    Certainly, heroic medicine contributes to progress, including those who agree to participate in new procedures, but the really heroic stuff happens in the back room, the decades of practicing medical science – ideally without making promised to anyone.

    I exclude the pharmaceuticals, because they have no interest in maximizing the good health of the most people, and the world is already riddled with medicines that probably do no good, far too often do harm, and don’t address the most pressing matters.

    I don’t begrudge true break throughs by pharmaceuticals, but there are few, if any. Mostly they create variants of what they’ve done before, and undertake poorly designed studies to prove some ill-defined efficacy so as to get approval.

    No, I have no objection to heroic medicine, it’s how so much progress is made. It’s the way medicine is head-lined, how early stages of work that will invariably fail is given so much air time, how expectations are raised to absurd levels amongst a largely ignorant or stupid public, creating demands on social resources that can’t possibly (and shouldn’t) ever be met – that’s what I object to.