Author Archives: Geoff Davies

About Geoff Davies

Dr. Geoff Davies is an author, commentator and scientist. He is retired and a Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University and the author of Sack the Economists.

Honour the ANZACs by not repeating the folly

[Published 18 April in the Braidwood Times and Goulburn Post. Others pending?]

Nothing that follows is to dishonour the bravery and sacrifice of the young Australians who suffered and died in World War I.

However if we are to avoid repeating such disasters we need a larger and clearer perspective than we have been getting from much of the commentary, official and unofficial, marking the centenary of the war.

The Australian nation was not forged at Gallipoli or any other foreign battlefield. There was already a vigorous nation by 1913.

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Immigration is a Big Drag on the Economy, and Our Lifestyle

[Now on Independent Australia, 15 Mar]

Australia can choose not to be ‘big’ if it wants. Both our material income and our quality of life would benefit.

It’s good that the ABC’s Four Corners has provoked a debate on immigration, and it’s good that it avoided racist, xenophobic or xenophilic claims, but still so many of the arguments presented are ill-informed or self-serving.

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A Fabricated Government

[Published 7 Feb at Pearls and Irritations, though with the irritation that ‘lies’ was replaced by ‘untruths’.]

Australian politics is a culture of lies. Australia’s governments are facades erected to obscure the nefarious activities of those who really wield power.

So the pathetic little Turnbull Cabinet is upset because some of its secrets are outed through incompetence. The filing cabinet papers so far reveal some hypocrisy and lies of Government Ministers past and present.

If you want to see some rather more consequential challenges to government secrecy go and see the movie The Post, which is about how in 1971 Daniel Ellsberg and the Washington Post revealed the history of US interference in Vietnam through the 1950s and 60s. The so-called Pentagon Papers revealed that successive US administrations had systematically lied to Congress and the public about their activities and goals in Vietnam.

For decades the US knew it could not win. It continued mainly to try to save face. In the end it suffered the humiliating defeat it feared. Tens of thousands of US young men, hundreds of Australians and many more Vietnamese died for that vain folly.

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The Darkness and the Damage Done

[This was written November 2017. I was in a dark mood and needed to unload some of it. Having done that, I felt better and left it. However the dark mood has been returning. Twice now I’ve been triggered by being taken back in time, as you’ll see in this and the next post. The previous post, To Armageddon on Automatic, was on a topic long brewing that I struggled to find words for. There may be more. These are not bright times.]

Reading a collection of essays by author Rosie Scott* has taken me back to the early nineties. Those times were far from idyllic, but how much lower we have sunk since then.

That was before we turned decisively to the dark side, before we learnt to stumble through the gritty, coal-dusted moral gloom, mocked by boofhead bully politicians, conditioned to fear others and to destroy innocent lives, cloyed by Big Brother in our pockets and purses, taunted by visions of robot workers, android dreams and a baking planet. That was before the colours faded.

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To Armageddon on Automatic

[As usual the MSM and even The Conversation can’t be bothered looking at actual thoughts. So this will soon be on my old faithful, Independent Australia. Good, but a wider audience would be nice. Also, been working on a new MS, so there hasn’t been much here for a while.]

apocalypse-end-timesPerhaps the Aussie summer pause is a chance to ask a really basic question.

Do we have any say in the human future? Are there any human beings anywhere who have any say in how our future unfolds? Do the political leaders, the billionaires, the giant corporations?

Or is our children’s future ruled by inexorable laws of economics, or of society, or of flawed human psychology. Is it in the hands of the gods or of God? Is it determined by Fate?

Judging by what is written and said you’d have to conclude that most people think it’s all out of our hands.

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Resolving the Growth Dilemma: Quality not Quantity

Endless growth on a finite planet is impossible. Yet endless growth of the economy is the reflexive goal of almost every government in the world. This defines the existential crisis into which humanity is blundering.

Yet even many people who are alert to the problem struggle to prescribe a remedy, or even to give the remedy a name. Various terms float around, like no growth, steady state, degrowth or postgrowth. There are two fundamental problems with these terms: they don’t define what they are talking about and they just keep the focus on growth.

George Lakoff wrote the book called Don’t Think of an Elephant. What did you just do? You thought of an elephant. Don’t think about growth. Oh. You just did. If I want you to think about flowers, I need to talk about flowers. Let’s stop and smell the flowers. Ah, that’s better.

Growth of what, exactly? Steady state what? Well, when the political mainstream says ‘growth of the economy’, it really means ‘growth of the Gross Domestic Product’, the GDP. GDP is the sum of all activities involving money, adjusted to avoid double counting. But what about good activities that don’t involve money, like staying home and loving baby? And is everything involving money, everything that is bought and sold, a good thing?

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The chasm between the society we are offered and the fair go we want

[Posted at Pearls and Irritations, 20 July 17.]

Fair go?There is widely perceived to be a gap between our stumbling political system and the wishes of the Australian people. However those who look a little deeper into our Australian hearts see not just a gap but a yawning chasm.

In a 2016 study by social researcher Richard Eckersley, published in Oxford Development Studies, people were asked which of two possible futures came closer to what they expected, and which of the two they preferred.

  • Scenario one was ‘a fast paced, internationally competitive society, with emphasis on the individual, wealth generation and enjoying the good life’. Three quarters expected a future along these lines.
  • Scenario two was ‘a greener, more stable society, where the emphasis is on cooperation, community and family, more equal distribution of wealth, and greater economic self-sufficiency’. 93% preferred this scenario.”

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