All Posts By

Don Aitkin

On Poverty

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  This essay was foreshadowed in a recent essay on Inequality, and it has something of the same problems. For ‘poverty’ is an over-used word, meaning whatever the speaker or writer wants it to mean, which may not be at all what the audience or reader understands by it. As a word, poverty comes to us through French from the Latin paupertas, and we still have ‘pauper’ in English, where it means someone very poor. Poor in what? In everything, income, health, life expectancy, food, shelter, you name it. Like inequality, poverty is best seen in relative terms. I am poorer than you…

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What the EU elections might tell us

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WW The recent EU elections, so close to our own, have prompted me to write about the climate-change business from a different perspective, and I have drawn on a piece by Ben Pile, who is not a warmist at all, and writes at Spiked. What he points to in his essay is the sheer confusion around the energy issue, with all sorts of claims being made. Much of it is relevant to us in Australia. These EU elections, not much reported here, showed a continuing rejection of the major parties that we have been witnessing in our own country. Who…

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Some more thoughts on ‘inequality’

By | Other | 18 Comments

Website essay 84:  29 May 2019 A few days ago I had a long and interesting discussion with a friend about inequality. He was exercised about the unfairness of some people’s being extremely rich and others being extremely poor. He thought that inequality was increasing. What could we do about it? He thought that the return of death duties and their equivalent would be a good start. We needed to level the playing-field, he said, so that each child was given an equivalent chance. It was his mission, and he wanted to draw me out on it. My response was not…

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How did Labor get it so wrong?

By | Other | 230 Comments

WH As I write, the Coalition is close to having 76 seats, and might get 78, which the ABC is tipping. I’m not concerned with these final numbers, which won’t be known for a week or more. Rather, like so many others, I expected a Labor victory, a close one, I thought. The actual result was a major surprise, and a dreadful one for Bill Shorten and his team. So, how did they get it so wrong? First, the ALP seemed to coast along on what the polling organisations were saying, and had been saying for a couple of years….

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The Magic Pudding Moment

By | Other | 36 Comments

At a recent family event one of the absent cousins rang in something of a state: she had been going to vote Labor, but a Green had told her that if she didn’t vote Green, and the Greens didn’t get in, then we would all be dead in twelve years! What should she do? She was reassured by the family. Where did that twelve-years nonsense come from, I wondered. The originator seems to have been the Democratic Congresswoman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who later said that her words were mis-characterised, whatever that meant. Thankfully, neither of our political leaders has been making…

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The Young and the Old

By | Other | 12 Comments

I’ll leave my summary of the Handout Election campaign until next week. In this essay I want to say something about the differences between the attributes of the old and the young, which have blossomed for me in the past few weeks, to some degree because of what could be well described as the children’s crusade against climate change. So, to age. In 1953 our Latin class was devoted, in a manner of speaking, to two great texts, Virgil’s AeneidBook II and Cicero’s De Senectute (about old age). Cicero had some great advice about how to prepare for old age, and how to…

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Anzac Day and ‘nationalism’

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Some 37,000 people attended the dawn service at the Australian War Memorial on Anzac Day. That’s a bit less than ten per cent of Canberra’s population. We were not part of that crowd, but our nursing home put on an Anzac Day service that was sensitive and well thought-out. We did go to that one, and as usual, I kept thinking about what ‘Anzac’ means now, and what the young people think about it. Last year 17,000 Australians and New Zealanders went to the service at Gallipoli; this year, given the recent strife in the Middle East, and the warnings…

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Living in a nursing home

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For the last five months I have been living in a nursing home, and because there is a Royal Commission inquiring into what happens in such dwellings I thought it might be useful to set out what it is like, at least in our place, whose name I shan’t mention, because this is not an advertorial. My wife and I are here because we have the highest ACAT ratings, she because of dementia (I am her carer) and me because I have an incurable cancer that has robbed me of a lot of strength. I need looking after, too.  And we…

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Some real climate changes

By | Other | 151 Comments

Website essay 78:  17 April 2019 Every now and then I read something that changes my thinking, or fascinates me, so that I go on to more and more reading in the area. One of my sons gave me a book to read, saying that I might find it interesting. The book, Fingerprints of the Gods, is by Graham Hancock, not a scientist or an historian, and plainly almost an obsessive. More about the book shortly. Thirty or more years ago I became interested in the myth of the lost city of Atlantis, of which Plato is the early historian, and read…

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How close will the election result be?

By | Other | 145 Comments

The last opinion poll I saw had Labor at 52 and the Coalition at 48, both figures in the two-party-preferred style. There have been three opinion poll results since the Budget, two of which have a 2 per cent gain or thereabouts for the Coalition, the other a gain to Labor. Given that the conventional error margin in such polling is around 3 per cent, those outcomes would be within the error margin. Conventional’ means just that — it is a convention, not greatly to be relied upon. Oh, having watched Clive Palmer’s expensive television campaign for the new United…

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