I’m a bit ambivalent about Labor’s plan for a funding a national broadband (FTTN) network with public funds. On one hand, I agree that Australia has a seriously antiquated communications network and that retail broadband services are way behind much of the developed world; some of that comes from the mix of the regulations placed on the telecommunications industry with the characteristics of the country (quite a few people living in very remote places). Telstra has rejected the idea of building a FTTN network due to the possibility (almost certainty) that there would be restrictions on the pricing it would be able to charge to allow competitors to have access to its network, and I can’t say I see a fault with Telstra’s argument.
On the other hand, I don’t like many of the (limited) details of the plan that came forward. The new network would work as a enforced monopolistic resource, with the possibility of Telstra (if it is not responsible for building the network) being forced to be a customer and prevented from building a competitive network. I can see why the Liberal Party would be against a plan like this, and it also rubs me the wrong way.
Worse than that, the idea of using money from the Future Fund to build the network is very, very bad (not to mention legally debatable). The Fund is money set aside for a specific purpose, and that does not include building infrastructure (or funding private companies building it); if they open the doors to use this money, I can see it being used for other ends in the future (and Labor has hinted that they plan to do it) and creating social security problems for the current employees of the public sector.
So, in principle, the idea is not that bad. The proposed implementation, though, is not very appealing; as always, the devil is in the details.
In any case, listening to politicians talking about megabytes per second in Parliament is highly entertaining.
I guess I should post something about the results of the US election. I was expecting a close result (closer that what actually happened), and I was fully expecting Bush to win (but hoping he wouldn’t). Looking at the several result maps out there, it’s very clear that Bush won on the rural, sparsely populated areas and in the largely evangelical area in the middle of the country. Both coasts and most large centers voted overwhemingly for Kerry. A friend of mine said that many voters went out to vote against gay marriages and ended up voting for Bush as well, which does seem plausible.
I don’t think this victory is an approval of the Iraq war, or of Bush’s foreign and economic policies, even though he’ll act as if were; rather, it was a victory for conservative moral values (the cover of Newsweek about one year ago was already about the “new” religious America; couldn’t find it online now) and for more government intrusion on personal lifestyle choices. Sad, really. Such a nice Constitution, being treated this way…
As a final reason: remember that he is very good at twisting (or outright changing) the meaning of his opponent’s, or everyone else’s, words:
“Every performer tonight in their own way, either verbally or through their music, through their lyrics, have conveyed to you the heart and soul of our country.” — Kerry, July 8
“The other day, my opponent said he thought you could find the heart and soul of America in Hollywood.” — Bush, Aug. 18
“Yes, I would have voted for the authority [to use force in Iraq]. I believe it is the right authority for a president to have. But I would have used that authority, as I have said throughout this campaign, effectively. I would have done this very differently from the way President Bush has. My question to President Bush is: Why did he rush to war without a plan to win the peace? Why did he rush to war on faulty intelligence and not do the hard work necessary to give America the truth?” — Kerry, Aug. 9
“He now agrees it was the right decision to go into Iraq. After months of questioning my motives, and even my credibility, the Massachusetts senator now agrees with me that even though we have not found the stockpiles of weapons we all believed were there, knowing everything we know today, he would have voted to go into Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein from power.” — Bush, Aug. 18
The whole article is in The Washington Post.
Today’s reason comes from an unexpected source. In this right-wing website, this is reason #6 to vote for Bush:
George Bush is a strong supporter of a Federal Marriage Amendment which is the only way to stop liberal judges from imposing gay marriage on the states against the wishes of the voters and State Legislatures.
#39 on that site is pretty amusing, as well.
And, as a bonus, check out this video to see a not so family-friendly George W. Bush.
From the Orange County Weekly:
Campaigning in 2000, Bush warned that Al Gore would “throw the budget out of balance.” In the past four years, Bush and a GOP Congress blew a 10-year budget surplus once estimated at $5.6 trillion, leaving us with an estimated $5 trillion deficit. According to the Office of Management and Budget, this yearís deficit will run about $445 billion.
The George W. Bush campaign website is not accessible from outside the USA; do they have something to hide from foreigners? If, like me, you are in some other country, you can access their site via this US-based anonymizer.
Ok, that’s not a very strong reason not to vote for him. So, here goes a better one: in another example of the Bush administration’s view of science, despite objections from the staff of the Centers for Disease Control, information suggesting a link between abortion and breast cancer was posted on the National Cancer Institute website by Bush administration officials. Scientific studies have long refuted such a link. After The New York Times reported the story, the information was taken down. Source: The New York Times, Jan. 6, 2003
This excerpt from an article in the New York Times needs no comments:
In the Oval Office in December 2002, the president met with a few ranking senators and members of the House, both Republicans and Democrats. In those days, there were high hopes that the United States-sponsored “road map” for the Israelis and Palestinians would be a pathway to peace, and the discussion that wintry day was, in part, about countries providing peacekeeping forces in the region. The problem, everyone agreed, was that a number of European countries, like France and Germany, had armies that were not trusted by either the Israelis or Palestinians. One congressman – the Hungarian-born Tom Lantos, a Democrat from California and the only Holocaust survivor in Congress – mentioned that the Scandinavian countries were viewed more positively. Lantos went on to describe for the president how the Swedish Army might be an ideal candidate to anchor a small peacekeeping force on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Sweden has a well-trained force of about 25,000. The president looked at him appraisingly, several people in the room recall.
“I don’t know why you’re talking about Sweden,” Bush said. “They’re the neutral one. They don’t have an army.”
Lantos paused, a little shocked, and offered a gentlemanly reply: “Mr. President, you may have thought that I said Switzerland. They’re the ones that are historically neutral, without an army.” Then Lantos mentioned, in a gracious aside, that the Swiss do have a tough national guard to protect the country in the event of invasion.
Bush held to his view. “No, no, it’s Sweden that has no army.”
The room went silent, until someone changed the subject.
Read the full article here (it the NY Times website, it’s only available for a fee).
While claiming to be comitted to improving security in airplanes and airports (often with the use of intrusive and humiliating measures, such as secret no-fly lists and “special” handling of “suspicious” passengers), the White House has proposed a 12.6 percent reduction in the Federal Aviation Administration’s budget for the purchase of new air-traffic-control equipment.
The full story is in The Miami Herald (registration required).
I’ll go completely out of character here for a while, but it’s for a good and important cause. From today till election day (Nov 2nd), I’ll be doing a daily post on reasons not to vote for Bush. I know I’m probably preaching to the converted here but, if there’s a chance of having some effect, it’s worth trying.
Today’s reason: U.S. Campaigns for Treaty to Ban Use of Embryo Stem Cells (registration required to read this story). Basically, the Bush administration is pressuring the UN to set up a global treaty banning any therapeutical human cloning, including embryonic stem cell research. Well, I guess that’s a way to make sure the US is not left behind in this branch of science by countries without its religion-based policies…