Live 8 and poverty

June 30, 2005

‘Are they hoping one of these guys from the G8 … sees Annie Lennox singing ‘Sweet Dreams’ and thinks, “Fuck me, she might have a point there, you know.” It’s not going to fucking happen, is it?’ – Noel Gallagher

There’s something about Bob Geldof that really shits me off. Part of 80s one-hit-wonders crew, I first saw him as the actor who played the lead character in Pink Floyd’s The Wall. Today, he’s a self indulgent wanker who thinks of himself as some sort of savior for the third world; organising campaign after campaign in an effort to end poverty. ‘Saint Bob’s’ latest effort comes in the form of Live 8 starting this weekend. Eight concerts in eight countries to bring awareness about world poverty to coincide with the G8 meetings. The music should definitely be something to look forward to, with artists such as Coldplay, U2, Green Day, REM, Elton John, and Paul McCartney lined up to perform. While obviously good intentioned, Bob Geldof is not qualified in economic development. His music career hasn’t been that flash either for that matter. For the past twenty years, the focus of his, and many NGOs’ campaigns have been about more foreign aid and debt cancellation, thinking that pouring money into the coffers of third world governments will somehow solve all their problems. The idea being that western countries, being relatively successful and uncorrupt, have become rich at the expense of the third world, and therefore be expected to pay and fix it up. Recently however, he may have finally had some sense knocked into him. Geldof rightly welcomed last months decision by several G8 nations to cancel almost $50billion of third world debt on the condition that those countries reduce corruption and liberalise their economies. U2’s Bono, that other musician-turned-third-world-messiah, said about Live 8 that the focus of the past twenty years has changed from a “charity to justice”. It’s clear that the problems facing the third world are not caused by globalisation and western imperialism, but by debunked socialist economics and corrupt dictatorships. Zimbabwe was rich in natural resources and agriculture before Mugabe became President. Since then, he has nationalised the farms, forcing hundreds of thousands of people off their property and making it illegal for people to grow and trade their own crops. This has caused the greatest famine the country has ever seen, similar to Russia under Stalin in the late 20s. Last year, inflation in Zimbabwe was 160%, unemployment is over 70%, life expectancy at 36, and half the population needing imported food aid to survive. Ethiopia has also suffered greatly since the socialist coup in 1991. War continues to break out along its borders. The country is almost entirely dependent on foreign aid for food, as its state owned farms churn out almost nothing. No amount of aid or debt relief is going to solve Zimbabwe’s or Ethiopia’s problems. Contrast that with countries which have shunned socialism and embraced globalisation and economic liberalism. Places like Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and South Korea, with little natural resources between them, have flourished because of trade and open markets. China and India are steaming ahead since opening up their markets during the last few decades. One does not need to look further than the contrast between North and South Korea to see the benefits that markets bring. So what will Live 8 achieve? If it’s yet another exercise in trying to get western nations to give more to the third world, then it will be pointless. If it does however, bring attention to the world the horrendous nature of third world dictatorships and that their disastrous socialist dogmas are doing to its people, then perhaps we really may see an end to poverty in our lifetime.


Metrosexuals are so gay

June 25, 2005

What is a metrosexual? Is it simply a man who lives in the metropolitan suburbs? Or a man who is in touch with his feminine side? Or a man who enjoys shopping for clothes, has a personal stylist, and is not afraid to wear pink t-shirts? Or perhaps it’s a combination of all three? It matters not. Because the fact is, ‘metrosexuality’ (or is it ‘metrosexualism’?) does not exist. It is a word to describe the apparent recent trend away from the ‘macho’ man, the one who enjoys watching footy and drinking beer; to the metrosexual man, one who gels his hair before going outside to fetch the mail. ‘Metrosexual’ is one of those new words which the media are more than happy to use. Tv shows like Queer Eye espouse metrosexualism. Marketing people also love the word. If companies can convince men to buy cosmetics and wax their legs, just imagine the profits. Gay people also like to use the word as a way of implying that it’s cool to be gay; instead of gay people having to act straight in order to be accepted by society, straight people should act gay. But what the hell does sexuality have to do with it? Since when did going shopping for clothes and reading Jane Austen reveal anything to do with one’s sexual preference? Apart from David Beckham, how many famous metrosexuals are there? There are plenty of famous homosexuals, and a lot of them are more macho than your average metro. Men are told by magazines such as FHM and television shows like Queer Eye that women find metros attractive. Whether this is because homosexual males seem to have more female friends than their heterosexual counterparts, I don’t know. In turn, women like these kinds of men attractive because they are told to do so by the media. In economics, the metrosexual trend is an example imperfect information and is a form of market failure. It also explains why those fucking overrated and overpriced iPods are so popular, but I’ll leave that to another post. At the end of the day, I think this whole metrosexual fad is just that: a fad. It’ll wear out soon, perhaps when men suddenly realise that acting like homosexuals will not really increase their chances of scoring, especially when the competition are doing it too. Dammit, why am I even blogging when the football and cricket’s on!?

The problem with Australian soccer

June 22, 2005

It’s been a few days coming, but after seeing Australia getting thumped two-zip by world soccer1 powerhouse Tunisia this morning, the armchair soccer nut in me decided to speak up. While being no soccer expert, I thought I’d blog down some observations on the Socceroos’ Confederations Cup adventure.

First of all, when you concede ten goals in three matches, it doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to tell you what’s wrong. The Socceroos’ defence had been criticised long before. It looked frail and vulnerable during the friendly against Iraq back in March, and for some parts of the match against New Zealand recently. It was dreadfully exposed during the past week when the team finally got to face some world class opposition in the form of Argentina and Germany.

Kevin Muscat as a right back is definitely past it. He has aggression, but lacks the pace to keep up with the world’s best wingers. Lucas Neill would be much better in that position, the one he plays for Blackburn, rather than on the left, where Frank Farina seems to like to put him. Hopefully this will change once Lazaridis or Tiatto are fit again.

As for who to partner Craig Moore in the centre, Tony Popovic seems to be the first choice, although whichever pair ends up being selected certainly needs to put an end to the ‘schoolboy errors’ that plagued the team over the past few matches.

Having criticised the defence, a lot of their goals conceded started from poor work in the midfield, whether it was lack of pressure, or giving away possession. Australia is missing a ‘Patrick Viera’ or ‘Roy Keane-type’ player. Someone who is able to hold the midfield together and operate as a first line of defence, just in front of the defenders. Paul Okon did the job well (where is he these days anyway?). It was no accident that Australia finished third in their last Confederations Cup appearance four years ago, beating Brazil and France along the way, with Okon as captain. The current pairing of Cahill and Skoko certainly doesn’t work, as both play very similar roles. Looking forward to seeing Grella, or perhaps McKain getting back in there and filling the role.

For all their faults in defence, the Socceroos’ going forward has certainly been impressive. John Aloisi looks in fine touch, and hopefully with Viduka and Kewell back in there, it’ll get better. Brett Emerton did look a bit lackluster though. No where near as effective galloping down the wing as he was during his Feyenoord days. In fact, I don’t recall a single incident during the tournament where he’s taken on a defender. Whenever he has possession, he seems to always be looking to go infield rather than down the wing and whipping in crosses. Whether this was Farina’s specific instruction, or he just turned crap, I don’t know.

All in all, if Australia plays the same way during the World Cup qualifier later this year as they have done over the past few weeks, they can kiss that World Cup appearance goodbye.

1 I say ‘soccer’ rather than ‘football’ (as the commentators on SBS and the FFA like to these days) not out of disrespect, but for the same reason why I say ‘taxi’ and not ‘cab’; ‘g-string’ not ‘thong’. In Australia, football already has a meaning, no need to hijack it.

And make sure it’s a Pepsi Max!

June 20, 2005

An interesting thing happened at work yesterday. I overheard a customer order herself three large pizzas and a 1.25 litre Pepsi. Ok, so nothing out of the ordinary so far, but before I go on, I should probably mention that this customer looked very adept at all things gastronomic (ie. fat). Again, nothing extraordinary, apart from the fact that after ordering herself two Barbeque Meatlovers and a Meat Supreme, she then asked for a Pepsi Max and, with a perfectly straight face, said to ‘make sure it’s a Pepsi Max, I’m trying to cut down on the fat’. Now I’m not one to prejudge, but this woman is both fat and stupid. Of course, you often see people doing similar things at places such as McDonalds or Hungry Jacks, but sometimes you just have to stare and wonder. What strikes me about this particular customer though was that she seemed completely oblivious to the fact that: 1. If you’re serious about losing weight, pizzas aren’t exactly going to be your best friends, and 2. Especially not one’s with barbeque sauce and five types of meat on them. A similar thing happened during a delivery a few months ago. The customer was again, a rather avoirdupois woman. After telling her the cost of her order, she let out a sigh as she reached for her wallet, and said jovially something along the lines of, ‘I spend a lot of my income on you guys’. I was about to be a smart-arse and respond ‘It shows’, before realising it probably wouldn’t be a good idea.

Long live the suicide bombers!

June 17, 2005

It seems that every day you hear of some psycho suicide bomber in Iraq or someplace in the Middle East blowing themselves up in the name of freedom; whose victims are more often than not innocent civilians. This begs the question – Is suicide bombing an effective way to wage a war? (Does Sun Tzu mention it?) Like most blog entries, I haven’t bothered to do any empirical research, but I’m going to make a reasonable guess that the average kill ratio of a suicide bomber is around 4 to 1. This of course means that in order for the extremists to win, they must have a significant population advantage and higher fertility rate over their enemy. Sure, there may be no shortage of psycho Jihadists wondering around, but even at the September 11 kill ratios or 160 to 1, you would still need to get an army of around 2 million suicide bombers past customs to destroy the United States. Actually, law of diminishing returns says that you’ll probably need significantly more than 2 million. Their demographic isn’t very helpful either considering that most bombers are childless men aged between 16 and 25. Perhaps they could try recruiting some women over childbearing age, although they may not be as easily persuaded by the whole 76 virgins in heaven thing.

Best headline ever?

June 15, 2005

A very [in]appropriate headline on the Michael Jackson saga from today’s Sydney Morning Herald 😉

Political compass

June 15, 2005

Came across a nifty quiz-ma-bob thing today. You answer a few dozen straight-forward questions on issues such as globalisation, national identity cards, pornography etc and it maps out where you sit on the political spectrum. Give it a go yourself.

My scores:
Economics Left/Right: 4.63
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -2.46

This puts me on the ‘Libertarian Right’/classical liberal end of the compass which for people who know me shouldn’t be a surprise. What is surprising though (and a bit disappointing) is the general lack of politicians and political parties in Australia (and indeed the world, if the above diagram is any indication) which also adopt this view; basically the idea that a good society is one where its people are free to pursue their own ends without interference from government.

There have been parties in the past which have tried to fill this vacuum in the centre of Australian politics. The Australian Democrats probably being the only ones with any ‘success’ as such, although they have since moved significantly to the left. Today, classical liberalism in Australia is left up to Meg Lees’ ill-fated Australian Progressive Alliance, the Liberal Democratic/Fishing/Shooters/Outdoor Recreation/Free Marijuana Party(s) (none of which have ever even come close to winning a seat in any state or federal election), and perhaps a handful of current Liberal and Labor Right politicians (Malcolm Turnbull springs to mind).

I reckon there is a significant proportion of Australians who are genuine classical liberals, but have become disillusioned by the Liberal Party and John Howard’s conservative doctrine. There currently isn’t really a political force to represent them. If one of the parties listed above, or even a newly formed party (I’m looking at you, Louie :p ), is able to achieve a decent amount of publicity before the next election, they will be able to woo a significant number of voters away from the Liberals and to a lesser extent Labor. And it is certainly possible. Remember One Nation?