Saturday, 26 October 2013

They have no ideologue...

And so it begins. After the much-hyped "grilling" of Tony Abbott by Andrew Bolt (more a populist love-fest tête-à-tête), Tony has apparently had a few mates over to Kirribilli to celebrate whatever it is conservatives celebrate - other people's misery, I think.

Bolt's interview with Abbott was less of a soft touch than if the Pope was interviewing the Baby Jesus. Of course they both railed against those inner-city leftist media elites at the ABC who dare report the most probable link between global warming and climate change. How the "most read" columnist in the country is not a part of the media elite has not been explained, but I gather he's working on the inside for the betterment of the common man. What was interesting, however, albeit not surprising, was Abbott revealing himself to still harbour his same opinion that climate change is complete crap. Abbott in this interview, described evidence linking extreme weather events with global warming as "complete hogwash". There's a open-minded PM to lead us out of the woods, if ever I've seen one. Heard that one about the earth orbiting the sun? Reading through it, it's hard to see exactly who is in charge of the interview. It's as if Bolt just spews forth guttural noises from his mouth and the Prime Minister repeats them.

How To Democracy has also stumbled across an unpublished extract from the end of the interview:
AB: Oh, mate. That was brilliant. You hang up first.
PM: No, you hang up first.
AB: No, you hang up first.
PM: No, you hang up first
AB: No, you have to.
PM: I will, I will, but only if you do.
AB: You hang up first.
PM: No, you hang up first.
<dial tone>
Of course I would be one of those latté-swilling inner-city elitists if I were to suggest none of this bodes well for anyone with a critical faculty or two. On my list of people I'd like to have over for dinner, Andrew Bolt and Piers Akerman would only appear on it if my house was the Space Shuttle Columbia on re-entry (too soon? I would make an inappropriate World War II comparison, but the Tele keeps on beating me to it).

Like Abbott's great almighty hero (no, not Santamaria, the other one. With bushy eyebrows) Abbott seems to have begun a war on opposition thought. Anyone who harbours opposite ideas to the Party will be guilty of thoughtcrime and sentenced to re-education massive reductions in funding, probably on the basis of that "budget emergency", ya know the one Hockey just took out the nation's largest credit card for. Those who agree with the science of climate change, like we agree with physicists on gravity or nuclear reactors, will probably find themselves out of a job. Those who dare not call asylum seekers "detainees" or "illegals" will probably find themselves in the same (irregular) boat.

"Don't you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thought-crime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed will be expressed by eactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten...' O'Brien in Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell.

Despite the usual claptrap of leading for all Australians, it is as likely this Coalition government will be just as divisive and derisive of those who disagree with their views as the last Liberal government. Just wait for the words "Out of touch" or "out of step" with "mainstream" Australians to be uttered by our "leaders". They'll be coming. Then it's time to worry.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Nineteen Eighty-Four

A great cover for a great novel. George Orwell's 1984 gets a creative treatment in the "Great Orwell" series published by Penguin. Designer David Pearson has also crafted new covers for other Orwell books in the series. The result is quite stunning.

The title and author are subtly debossed and graphically redacted. As Sir Humphrey would say, this was a "very brave" choice for Penguin to make. Rarely would a corporate publishing house deliberately produce a cover that obliterates the title, but in this case it is a graphical masterstroke. Pearson's covers for the other titles in the series are graphical homages to both Orwell's texts and to Penguin's history of cover design.
This cover's effectiveness is no mean feat, considering the numerous editions Nineteen Eighty-Four has been published in since 1949. While many of the more the literal photographic covers from older editions have dated considerably, Pearson's cover conveys the dread of the novel without resorting to melodrama. 

Friday, 4 October 2013

Would somebody please think of the jobs?

Consumer group Choice has released research claiming that the Low Value Threshold has little to do with the decision to buy online. Currently, GST is not charged on purchases under $1,000 from overseas retailers, much to the eternal chagrin of old-school retailers associations and Gerry Harvey, who claim it is costing Australian jobs.

Choice claims only 12 per cent of those surveyed nominated saving "paying duties and taxes by purchasing on overseas websites" as a reason for shopping online.

Cue the droning of the rentseekers. One of my industry publications, Photo Counter, claims Choice is being "too tricky by half" in their fairly straight-forward survey of consumers. I can't follow Photo Counter's argument, but it's there and if someone else can, feel free to explain it to me. Basically, it seems Photo Counter has merely fallen on Solomon Lew's argument that the threshold is costing jobs.

The Australian business victimhood mindset is well and truly alive. Instead of offering what consumers want, some local retailers continue to ignore the local market, instead sticking to decades-old retail models. Ultimately, these multi-millionaire retail bosses are acting in self interest and are anti-consumer.

The Productivity Commission found that lowering the GST-free threshold would cost Australians more that $1.5 billion (collecting $550 million in taxes, but costing $2 to collect!). This hasn't stopped the Rich List clamouring for change - change that would effectively be a state-funded subsidy to big business. The LVT was judged by the Productivity Commission to be a "minor" component of the competitive disadvantage experience by Australian retailers.

The fact is that, so long as the AUD remains buoyant, imposing a lower threshold would have little effect on the online purchasing habits of consumers. Stuff is still too cheap, even with a 10 percent tax imposed on top.

But let's not let facts and figures get in the way of a good story.