Quizzically Musing

Watching the madness

Posts Tagged ‘USA

Global Public Debt – a simple perspective

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Global Financial Crisis, round two.  Global Public Debt.  The words on everyone’s lips these days.  I am not an economist, but everyone seems to have something to say, from Twitter to eminent university professors, so why not me?

I Stumbled (literally, on the website) upon this interesting little debt clock and map this morning at http://www.economist.com/content/global_debt_clock.

Global Public Debt - Three Nations Compared

Global Public Debt - Three Nations Compared

Take a look at the actual map, it is very interesting.  All the VERY red (i.e. in big trouble) countries are the ones we like to think of as being the world leaders or the most advanced civilisations or something equally complimentary.

Of course, in Australia, politicians LOVE to use the debt situation as a way to attack each other.  Looking at the media, it seems that is reasonably common globally. Looking at the figures to the left, we could be a lot worse off than we are.  I am NOT saying this to support the current Federal Government (I have my own personal little battle with that lot), I am simply making an observation about the information as presented by www.economist.com.

I’m a mother and an accountant.  Debits and credits translate into “how much money do I have” and “how much have I spent“.  Yes, I’ve had to borrow, so I have personal debt.  Don’t many of us?  Do I have more debt than I can repay?  No, I don’t (provided I don’t get hit by a bus any time soon and I have insurance against that possibility).

There are so many commas in the numbers to the left, I actually get confused!  Are  we are talking billions, trillions or something greater?  Eight trillion, creeping up to nine, for the USA, depending on which scale of magnitude you use (yes, globally we can’t agree on magnitude).  

Let’s look at the per person debt.  So far, Australia is still, compared to the other two, remarkably healthy, although I can’t say I like how dark pink we are on the map!  I am well aware of how all the economies are intertwined these days, so essentially I consider us rather lucky we aren’t sitting at USA or UK levels.

On top of my own personal debt, I only have to pay off another $11,462 of the public debt.  If I was in the USA I’d have to pay off another $28,350 and I may not have a job, given the unemployment levels in the USA.

I have read a bit about people being up in arms in the USA because the current solution is spending cuts but no increase in taxes on certain groups that many feel should be paying more tax.  Let’s face it, governments get their “income” from taxes (unless the country owns natural resources and generates revenue for the country from those resources).  Countries have budgets, just like any household or business.  Clearly someone’s been overspending!  For a long time! 

This puzzles me.  The USA policy of “fend for yourself” means that they don’t have the same funding of education, hospitals, medications and so on that we do in Australia.  How did they spend so damn much?  What on?  I could read umpteen articles and find a myriad of arguments, as everyone has a perspective.  I’m not going to, because the bottom line is simple to this simple mother.  Spend more than you have, print money you don’t have and guess what happens – you end up in the red.

I remember some years ago, when Bush introduced his first budget, global analysts stating the USA would pay about ten years down the track.  Seems those analysts were not far off the mark.  While it is now hard to find those old articles, I quote from www.economist.com again:

The most important legislation of his first year in office was a $1.35 trillion tax cut that handed an extra $53,000 to the top 1% of earners. At his farewell press conference on January 12th Mr Bush called his tax cuts the “right course of action”, as if they were an unpopular but heroic decision. They weren’t. The budget was in surplus in 2000, and both Mr Bush’s main Republican rival, John McCain, and his Democratic opponent, Mr Gore, also wanted to cut taxes, but by less, so as to pay down more debt and shore up Social Security (public pensions). Mr Bush’s much larger tax cut reflected his, and his party’s, belief that lower taxes restrain the size of government, empower individuals and are good for both growth and Republican prospects.

http://www.economist.com/node/12931660

We all know on a personal level, if we borrow money and have to make repayments, those repayments chew into our disposable income.  If we tighten our belts, we will be OK – if we keep spending at the same rate we were without an increase in money coming in, we’ll end up owing even more.  Is this difficult logic?  What applies in our own households, in our company boardrooms, even to our children’s pocket-money, applies equally to countries.

Some of the poorest countries owe the least.  No-one will lend those countries anything!  Same with poor people – they are not a good risk to lenders, so while they have little, usually they owe little as well.

What will happen?  My crystal ball is in for repairs, sadly, but while everyone is running around blaming everyone else, there is little likelihood of a good solution.  You are up the creek without a paddle, guys, so get your acts together and work in a bi-partisan way to fix the messes you either created or inherited. 

That’s what we pay you for!

Written by Robyn Dunphy

August 7, 2011 at 8:33 am

Posted in News

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Child “beauty pageants” in Australia?

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I’ve been watching the media coverage of Australia’s first US style beauty pageant for children.  I don’t like the idea.

Australia has always had beautiful baby competitions, but they were always babies or toddlers competing as, well, BABIES or TODDLERS.  Not primped and preened to within an inch of their adult lives, looking highly sexualised.  As a mother, I just cannot condone these competitions.

I read an article some time ago, when the competition here was first announced, about parents from both sides of the argument actually threatening members of the “other side” of the debate.  What are we becoming? 

Children should be allowed to be children.  No, I don’t see it as a “bit of fun” for the whole family at all.  I see it as parents trying to live their dreams through their children, at the expense of their children’s innocence and childhood.  The children would surely be better served by their parents listening to their reading or reading to them, than traipsing around being flaunted as mini-adults. 

Am I being “old-fashioned”? No, I don’t think so.  I think I’m being practical and responsible.  You may have a different view.  Please share!

Written by Robyn Dunphy

July 31, 2011 at 8:58 am

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Why are women considered strange?

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Much is made in the media of the Muslim attitude to women.  Yet here I discover that Jews are not, due to religious beliefs, allowed to publish photos of women.  Orthodox Jews – perhaps non-orthodox are not so strict.

Christians tend to see themselves as closer to Jews than Muslims, is some way.  Yet here I see a marked similarilty between the Jewish and Islamic faiths.

This paper was published in New York.  Two women are airbrushed out of the photo, including Clinton. 

I have learnt something new today.

I am glad I am not a theist.

Written by Robyn Dunphy

May 10, 2011 at 6:14 pm

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Who do we want running the country?

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Katharine Murphy writes a very interesting piece on the increase in “influence peddlers” in today’s edition of The Age.

We all know there are lobbyists.  They’ve probably been around as long as politicians in one form or another.  It does seem the whole thing is just getting a bit out of hand.  It is the PEOPLE who should have access to politicians, not highly paid representatives of interest groups.  The people never get a look-in.

I am not considering the sides to any debate here, I am only considering the influences on those debates.  Australia has long been a country that has been good at saying “only in America” about anything we thought “too American”, yet as time goes on we seem to adopt more and more American trends.  While we may not yet sue for a hot coffee, we have certainly become more litigious.  Now we seem to be lobbying our little hearts out in a similar style to the USA, or at least heading in that direction.

Katharine’s article is a must read for any Australian that is concerned about where this country is headed.  For our children and our children’s children.

Written by Robyn Dunphy

April 16, 2011 at 9:07 pm

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A Question of Free Speech

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Most of Australia is probably aware of the case currently making the front pages.  If not, read a report in The Age here.

In the USA, Freedom of Speech is enshrined in the constitution.  Not so here in Australia, where it is “only implicitly recognised” in the constitution.  Australia also has stringent antidiscrimination legislation.  According to the report, this case is seen as a case that may well bring the collision of free speech and antidiscrimination in this country to a head.

I have long been a critic of  those who claim the right to free speech to get away with blatant discrimination.  In my view, free speech comes with responsibility.  We have a human responsibility to not discriminate against others.  Even if we have hold personal views that are effectively discrimination, we should not be voicing them or publicising those views.  The outcome of this case will be interesting.

The case also raises questions about what rights any one of us has to define ourself.  In Australia many, many people are born of cross-cultural marriages.  They go on to marry someone from yet a third culture.  We are a mixed up, muddled up lot in this country, my own family included. 

I didn’t read the articles at the centre of this case, so I am not going to offer an opinion one way or  the other on the articles themselves.  I am certainly watching the case with interest.

Where do we draw the line?  How do we marry freedom of speech with antidiscrimination?  Given what we see happen in other countries, do we even consider freedom of speech a right everyone should be entitled to?  How “free” should it be? 

Written by Robyn Dunphy

April 3, 2011 at 1:24 pm

Breastfeeding

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Breastfeeding

A friend feeding her baby son

This photo was originally posted on facebook in protest at the banning, by facebook, of breastfeeding photos taken by a wonderful photographer, Christopher Rimmer.  That caused quite an international media storm! My friend has given permission for the photo to be used here.  You can see some of Christopher’s stunning work here.

Breasts.  What are they for? For FEEDING babies.  Yesterday the following status was floating around facebook (I’ve just noticed there are no capital letters in facebook, so that is not a typo 🙂 ) and I was reminded that in 2011 it seems we are still freaked out about a woman doing the most natural thing in the world – feeding a child.  The status was:

So I was on the toilet this morning, eating toast with Vegemite and a bowl of muesli and…What? You think there’s something wrong with eating in the toilet? Did that irk you a little? Then why do people suggest breastfeeding mothers feed their babies in the toilet? If you’re a fan of brestfeeders’ rights, I DARE you to put this up as your status.

Why all the hullabaloo about women feeding their children where ever it is necessary?  Sex.  Western civilisation particularly has this “thing” about breasts almost being classed as genitals.  They aren’t.  Do people get aroused over the sight of a cow’s udder?  No?  Human breasts are for the SAME purpose.  To produce milk to feed offspring.  Yet from all the hype around the topic of where and when it is appropriate to feed a child, one would think this was an insult to humankind.  Or an invitation to have sex.  I do not get it.

If anything, the situation seems to have got worse, rather than better, in the years since I had babies (over 30 years ago).  I remember a fuss over women breastfeeding on planes in the USA just last year.  So are mothers supposed to starve their children while flying?  I’ve yet to see any breastfeeding mother actually flaunt her breasts while feeding.  Miranda Kerr posted a photo of her feeding her new baby and congratulations to her for doing so.  Other celebrity mothers have done similar recently.  We need more of it.  Yet they cop criticism for doing so.  I applaud them for raising the profile of the debate.

Debate?  There should be no debate.  Strangely for me, I haven’t researched if trying to restrict breastfeeding is in contravention of any human or civil rights international conventions or convenants, but morally it certainly is.

Surely feeding a child is a basic, almost THE most basic, human right.  It should most certainly be a civil right.  I’d love to see a precedent case!

Breast milk is the most appropriate food for a baby.  Some women can’t breastfeed and have no option but to bottle feed.  We certainly should not be almost criminalising those mothers who do breastfeed.  I could cite a string of articles about the benefits of breastfeeding, but you can all Google as well as I can and I’m sure if you are reading this, you already have an interest, one way or the other, in the topic.  I’m simply looking at the question from the perspective of human and civil rights.

I’m almost sorry I am not going to be breastfeeding any more children, because I’d love to give some of the anti-breastfeeding brigade a run for their money.

Written by Robyn Dunphy

March 31, 2011 at 6:16 pm

Guns & sex? Not me!

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Maybe this article caught my eye because of my current enforced state of celibacy.  More likely it caught my eye because I am a long standing supporter of gun control.  That is despite having been a A-grade competitive shooter in my younger years.

I have to say I’ve never imagined, even in my wildest fantasies (clearly mine aren’t wild enough), combining guns and sex.  Call me strange if you will, but somehow the two just don’t seem to mix, unless you are into games involving rape fantasies I suppose.

Now we have a situation when the man has accidentally killed his wife.  Interestingly the wife was 50 and the husband only 23, if the report is correct.  This is quite a substantial age difference.  I can’t help but wonder what the life insurance arrangements are.

The husband has been arrested, but no charges have yet been laid.  I suppose in a country where everyone has the constitutional right to bear arms it might take a little longer to determine what the charge should be.  Stupidity springs to mind, although I’m not sure that is actually a criminal offence in itself.

The husband didn’t know the gun was loaded, the report states.  Ummmmmmmm – how many guns load themselves, I wonder?  Did the wife load it, hoping to dispose of the husband?  Was this a murder plot gone wrong?  He put the gun to her head and it discharged? 

I remember the case earlier this year where the husband killed several members of his family because the wife hadn’t cooked his breakfast eggs properly.  Guns and domesticity are just not a good mix.  What is your view?

How many people really involve guns in their sex lives? 

While I am very sorry for the loss of life in this case, I really can’t help thinking that anyone who plays with fire risks getting burnt – in some cases, fatally.

Written by Robyn Dunphy

December 30, 2010 at 6:15 am

Posted in Family, News, Stupidity

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