Why I am an atheist – PeteJohn »« LOOTERS!

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  1. Aliasalpha says

    I tried to vote but it seemed to not count them, kept saying I had 7 votes left but it never decreased, hopefully a simple bug

  2. yellowsubmarine says

    It’s a bug. Just keep voting. It lets you know when you’re out of votes.

  3. Ray, rude-ass yankee says

    Tried registering and it never sent the confirmation e-mail, tried resending the confirmation e-mail and finally got it, but the link in it gives me a 404 error. Tried enough, I give up. Dumb stupid thing.

  4. says

    I hope that all of you who are voting are as concerned about Australian politics and our lack of freedoms as you are bout you atheism.

    I am an Aussie atheist tried and true but also a very unhappy Aussie voter who is trying to get rid of a government that is ruining our economy.

    Please have some concern for the political issues here. It is about more than climate change and whether you are a sceptic or not. It is about holding our Prime Minister to account.

    I also don’t like being referred to as a “wingnutty global climate change denier”. I am concerned about climate change but more concerned that our current government is bringing in laws which will see Australian business pay more than anyone else in the world for and much smaller effect than any other country could possibly have on the environment.

    Our government’s new laws, which we were told would never happen, are hurting us already and may destroy our nation.

    As an Aussie I would never get personally involved in American politics as I don’t know the whole story.

    Please think again before you meddle in ours.

  5. jste says

    wingnutty global climate change denialists

    Except there has never been any evidence that the tax will work, I’m still not even sure what the tax money is going to be spent on, and there are a good many things that we were promised would be totally unaffected by the tax that, surprise surprise, are suddenly more expensive, so as an Australian I am quite happy for a climate change question to be in the top 3. (I’m not saying we shouldn’t do something, I’m saying can we please do something that at a bare minimum MIGHT work!)

  6. says

    That first question makes me sad to be an Australian:

    “By how much, measured in thousandths of degrees Celsius, will the Earth’s temperature be reduced through the carbon tax?”

    If you don’t believe in climate change… fine, whatever. We can argue about that but why not come up with a question that can actually be answered.

    Maybe they’d like to know just how many grains of sand on Australian beaches will be underwater due to sea level rise…

    Morons.

  7. Infophile says

    I also don’t like being referred to as a “wingnutty global climate change denier”.

    A little advice: If this is a goal, pick a different horse to hitch your wagon to. The question you’re defending is ridiculous on the face of it. It asks how many degrees – measured down to the thousandth of a degree Celsius – the earth’s temperature will be decreased by a carbon tax. Now be honest. That’s not a good question, is it? It’s impossible to predict exactly how humans will react to a tax and exactly how much this will affect the environment.

    This isn’t a question being asked in earnest hope of an answer. Refusal to answer won’t even make the PM look bad. A simple “I don’t know; it’s impossible to predict” is all the answer a question like this deserves.

    In short… if you think this is a good question, then yes, there’s a very good chance you’re a bit nutty.

  8. peterholt says

    Don’t get complacent, the poll is not about to end. It ends at 5PM EST on Thursday, there are another 27 hours to go.

  9. molloch says

    @comment 5

    Fair enough, but come on, question 1 is just a pathetic snipe that no one could possibly answer and is just going to elicit hand waving and a non-response. The “You said you wouldn’t impose a price on CO2…” is far more reasonable as a question with which to “hold her to account”. Do we really 2 questions in the top 3 on the same topic, when you are going to get the same vague answer to both climate questions anyway?

    As Andrew Bolt is onto the “US forum help” now – I wouldn’t be surprised if the chaplain question got culled for manipulation.

  10. Robert B. says

    Split my votes between the chaplain question and the gay marriage question in #4. It’s actually the top three questions that will get asked, so the chaplain thing is pretty safe, but the anti-carbon-tax crowd still has #2 and #3. We might want to kick at least one of those out, huh?

  11. says

    I admit the question is loaded but we are talking about a politician who avoids loaded questions.

    What really got my blood boiling was the fact that I believe that atheists are sceptics – religious sceptics and therefore have no right to resort to name calling when it comes to climate change sceptics.

    I honestly believed that you were mare intelligent than the fundies.

    I also can’t see why Americans should be voting on any Australian political issues.

    It is not your pocket that is hurting with the price rises already on fuel and power.

  12. Robert B. says

    Though if there has to be a question criticizing anti-climate-change legislation, I wish it wasn’t the stupid “how many thousandths of a degree” thing. (For one thing, I’m pretty sure our margin of error on the global average temperature is of order hundredths of degrees, so even if the PM somehow had the figure being asked for, it would be a meaningless number.) The question about consensus is much better. It has a bit of “politicians lie therefore laws are bad” subtext to it, which is a logical fallacy, but at least the question is answerable and important on its face.

  13. Robert B. says

    barbaraflorey, “Skeptic” does not mean “DISBELIEVE ALL THE THINGS!” (At least not as we use the term around here, it doesn’t.) “Skeptic” means “believe always and only in accordance with the evidence.” The greenhouse effect is high school physics, we know we’re releasing extra CO2 and CH4 (!) into the atmosphere, and we see the temperature going up. Skepticism says anthropogentic global warming is real, because that’s where the evidence is.

  14. molloch says

    The question isn’t loaded, it’s stupid. It would be like rephrasing the chaplain question as something like: “How many IQ points will children lose due the government funding of religious based school chapliancy programs.”

    I am Australian, like number of other readers/posters here, and I wouldn’t have known about this if it wasn’t posted here as it is only 1 of about 4 websites I read regularly. If the organisers only wanted Australian votes, they should have excluded non-Australian IP addresses.

  15. Jeebus says

    It seems barbaraflorey cares more about the checkbooks of Australian corporate overlords than the habitability of the planet.

  16. Sophia, Michelin-starred General of the First Mediterranean Iron Chef Batallion says

    I’m Australian and I still think the questions at @1 and @4 are brain-meltingly stupid.

    I also don’t understand this backlash against the carbon tax. It’s a tax paid by the corporate entities with the highest pollution levels, not by the average householder. Yes, the polluters will want to pass the tax on to their customers, and they will do so until they find more economically viable ways to produce evergy – IE use more environmentally friendly methods.

    In short, it’s hitting the polluters where it hurts – in the financial goolies. They simply don’t care about anything other than profit, so we have to affect profit in order to get them to change their environmental policies. It’s ingenious.

    The upshot – the more pollution, the more money the government gets that may actually have a small proportion spent on things that aren’t tax cuts for the wealthy*. If these companies wish to pay less tax, they can focus on cutting emissions.
    So – more money, less emissions. Win-win.

    *As opposed to the liberal party, whose idea of getting money involves selling government entities to the private sector, with results like our entire telecommunications infrastructure being owned by that giant poo-pile of fail, telstra, instead of being publically owned like it should be.

  17. sayke says

    As an Australian, I wholeheartedly approve of the carbon tax, the mining tax, and any other tax that targets billionaires that think they can do anything they want, fuck up any part of this continent they want, at the expense of the rest of us, human and otherwise.

    It might not change the world’s temperature but it might, for example, help save things like the Barrier Reef from mining ships.

  18. Infophile says

    “Skeptic” means thinking critically. It doesn’t just mean someone who doubts X for any value of X. Most atheists who are also skeptics don’t doubt climate change, because there’s more than enough evidence that it’s a real thing. There’s zero evidence that religion is real. That’s the difference. Skeptics follow the evidence; they don’t simply doubt everything.

  19. Sophia, Michelin-starred General of the First Mediterranean Iron Chef Batallion says

    @sayke

    Hear hear. :)

  20. lovedthestarstoofondly says

    Oh ew. PZ, you linked to Andrew Bolt. Ew. This is what happens when you forget to check the url before clicking the link. I’ve got his vitriol all over me.

    And as an Australian, I also approve of the carbon tax and the mining tax, and I’m sick to death of idiots like Bolt and his ilk who clearly fail basic science literacy.

  21. lovedthestarstoofondly says

    @barbaraflorey

    Please. The phrase isn’t “climate change skeptic”, it’s “climate change denier”. Because it isn’t skepticism to ignore the weight of scientific evidence.

  22. says

    Put me down as a climate change agnostic then.

    The problem with people who have been learning about it in schools is exactly the same problem as having religious education in schools.

    The teachers may be biased.

    I still object to name calling either for someone who does not totally agree that global warming is man made or to someone who has a religious belief. That is where the whole point of this vote went downhill.

  23. jm says

    The question isn’t loaded, it’s stupid. It would be like rephrasing the chaplain question as something like: “How many IQ points will children lose due the government funding of religious based school chapliancy programs.”

    More like “how many 1/100ths of an IQ point…”

  24. says

    I am unsure that the figures are genuine.

    I have read opinions from both sides and cannot be certain that man can change the planet by the imposition of a tax or by wealth re-distribution.

    This could go on and on as it has in many places.

    The point is not so much that I agree or disagree, the point is that an assumption was made that anyone who was a “non-believer” was a wingnutty denialist.

    It isn’t that black or white. Neither is it with religion.

    There are shades of grey.

  25. jm says

    barbaraflorey, if you don’t accept the overwhelming science showing global warming is caused by humans then there are one of four possibilties to describe you:

    1) you are very igonorant about the science, or
    2) you are stupid, or
    3) you are dishonest, or
    4) some combination of the above three

    If you don’t being described as any of those — and they are the only possible ways an honest person can accurately describe a person who does not accept the reality of global warming — then your only option is to accept reality.

  26. echidna says

    Barbara Florey,
    This is a chance to pin Julia down on important issues. Whatever you believe is important, that first question is not going to pin her down on anything. It’s a stupid waste of a question.

  27. Loqi says

    The problem with people who have been learning about it in schools is exactly the same problem as having religious education in schools.

    The teachers may be biased.

    The nice thing about science is that, when done properly, accounts for biases. And, since it’s peer reviewed, you’re going to get called on it if you design the experiment poorly in order to skew the results your way.

  28. Loqi says

    I have read opinions from both sides…

    We’re not talking about opinions here. We’re talking about facts. Stop conflating the two.

  29. AmandaS says

    Andrew Bolt has twittered unto his hordes that they must descent and gnaw upon PZ, on the grounds that asking people to vote in the poll is evil if, you know, people he doesn’t like do it (because he exhorted his hordes to load the poll days ago and that was fine).

    Barbara Florey is but the vanguard. Except many more right-wing Oz denialists here soon.

    I don’t know about the other Australian Pharyngulites, but I have popcorn.

  30. lovedthestarstoofondly says

    I don’t know about the other Australian Pharyngulites, but I have popcorn.

    Oh, I am so keen. I normally lurk on Pharyngula, but today I think I join the horde

  31. says

    This little “vanguard” is calling it a night as I have a family to attend to.

    My opinions have not changed but then neither have yours.

    I didn’t expect any other result.

  32. Ariaflame, BSc, BF, PhD says

    Also an Australian Pharyngulite, and I approve of the carbon price (which she did NOT fucking lie about. The emissions trading scheme was always a labour policy, the carbon price is merely fixed for the first few years). And the mining tax. The mining industry is getting to keep (usually offshore) a far greater percentage of the money they make out of our resources than they have in the past. If they aren’t going to use their obscene profits to invest in Australia then sure the government can take their slice. As far as I can tell it was a super profits tax, so you don’t pay it if you make a standard profit, only if you make obscene profits.

    I also understand the basic science behind climate change. It is not scaremongering. If anything the ‘worrying’ IPCC predictions are conservative. Hiding our heads in the sand and saying ‘this little thing won’t do much so I won’t do anything’ won’t help. If everyone does a little though, it can add up to a whole lot. And before you complain about damage to the economy, I would point at Germany who has a significant renewables and emissions reduction industry, and who is one of the stronger economies in the EU.

  33. Robert B. says

    I am unsure that the figures are genuine.

    I assume you mean the temperature figures, the famous “hockey stick” graph.

    Since this is an average of measurements made all over the world, by a wide variety of scientists, over many years, it’s preposterously unlikely that any individual bias or mistake could have caused the results. Every systematic error that anyone can come up with, such as the urban island effect biasing weather stations in cities, has been identified and corrected for. And we’re not just relying on thermometers, either – we’re seeing exactly the effects we’d expect to see if the temperature were rising: shrinking glaciers, calving icebergs, melting permafrost, etc. etc., all notably increased from historical baselines.

    Of course, no science is completely infallible, but I don’t see why global temperature numbers would be less genuine than, say, the speed of light, or the electronegativity of chlorine.

  34. Suido says

    @Barbaraflorey and Jtse:

    As an Australian, I’m sick to fucking death of people misunderstanding and misrepresenting what the carbon tax is meant to do and what it will do. You two have just joined that group of people.

    The carbon tax is meant to reduce carbon pollution in the same way Auskick is meant to create champion footballers. Auskick creates a culture of AFL acceptance by getting kids to enjoy it from an early age. A decade later, the benefits of that are reaped by football clubs recruiting all the best sportsmen that continued playing footy. The carbon tax creates a culture of having to pay for polluting the atmosphere. Decades later, the benefits of that may be reaped by a society that is no longer reliant on fossil fuels and provided a good example for how to actually start reducing industrial emissions.

    The carbon tax will not destroy the Australian way of life, or economy, or any other buzz words. As soon as companies find ways to reduce their reliance on carbon pollution, they’ll reap the benefits of passing their carbon tax savings onto their customers, and gaining an edge over their rivals.

  35. Suido says

    And anyone using the ‘international competition’ argument is deliberately ignoring the much bigger issue of the high Aussie dollar. The high Aussie dollar and the high level of wages enjoyed by Australians in comparison to the rest of the world are overwhelmingly the main reason steel/car/etc manufacturing in Australia is under threat. Oh, and trade exposed industries have built-in compensation that reduces the effects of the carbon tax anyway.

    Anyone using the rise in cost of living expenses argument is deliberately ignoring the fact that utility prices are predominantly rising due to the cost of infrastructure maintenance and upgrades, which was traditionally put off as state governments used utility income to supplement the state’s bottom line. Since privatisation in various states, the utility providers have generally done a better job of actually spending money on maintaining and upgrading infrastructure, which has caused big price rises. Oh, and the carbon tax has built-in compensation of low-middle income earners who would actually be hurt by a 10% rise in bills.

    So many bad arguments being peddled. It’s ridiculous.

    Personally, I think Gillard has done a terrible job in her time as Prime Minister. That doesn’t mean the carbon tax is a bad thing.

  36. Suido says

    Current state of the poll:

    1. Same sex marriage
    2. School chaplains
    3. Carbon tax
    4. Carbon tax
    5. Military Pensions
    6. Aboriginals and human rights

    If we could get either one of 5 or 6 into 3rd place, that would be sweet.

  37. Suido says

    OTOH, given how stupid question 3 is, it might be instructive to see the author get owned hard in a public forum. I’d still prefer to see an answer on Aboriginal rights though.

  38. Ariaflame, BSc, BF, PhD says

    What exactly did she/her government do a terrible job with? So far as I can tell apart from not being bold enough to tell the christian right loonies that marriage is none of their business they’ve managed to pass legislation and run the country more or less competently (which is about average for any government) with a hung parliament no less for the last few years. Or are you not giving points for difficulty? My main disappointments with the government have been with things they haven’t managed to do than with the things they have done. I’d prefer they ditch the chaplains scheme, I’d prefer they get rid of the man and woman guff from the marriage act, and I’d prefer that asylum seekers got treated with equal respect and dignity no matter what method they used to reach these shores. Given we only get a tiny percentage of the world’s refugees anyway.

    And if you think that Tony Abbott could do a better job then you are either woefully ignorant or willfully blind.

  39. John Morales says

    Ariaflame:

    What exactly did she/her government do a terrible job with?

    The chaplaincy program, for one.

    Gillard Government committed to keeping chaplains in schools

    School Education Minister Peter Garrett today called on the Opposition to work with the Government to ensure the School Chaplaincy and Student Welfare Program will continue in Australian schools.

    (It was the fucking opposition that brought it in!)

  40. says

    I give the Gillard govt full credit for managing to get as many bills through a hung parliament as they have so far, absolutely. I do however think that their communication has been absolutely woeful in the face of the blatant misrepresentation coming from the Opposition and the shock jock pundits, and that the fundamental problem is one that a previous Deep Rift in atheism was all about – taking an accommodationist position to appease antagonists who are never ever going to argue from a place of good faith.

    The Labor machine has fundamentally lost the plot, thinking that creeping rightwards is the way to regain votes, when all their best successes have actually come from more progressive policies. If they’d actually bother to clearly argue for even a truly centrist position, let alone a more left-leaning one, they’d get far more credit for showing some integrity, that would offer voters a much clearer point of difference between the parties, and they’d start doing better in the polls.

    Unfortunately the Sussex St neo-conservative Labor Party ideologues refuse to see this and refuse to show some guts.

  41. John Morales says

    Ariaflame:

    And if you think that Tony Abbott could do a better job then you are either woefully ignorant or willfully blind.

    That the Abbott is a Catholic nutcase doesn’t mean Gillard isn’t a populist faitheist.

    (That the alternative is worse than the incumbent is not to say the incumbent isn’t lousy)

  42. Charlie Foxtrot says

    Barbara’s bought into the ‘Opinions are equal to facts’ crapola. Sad.

    I’ve got plenty of problems with Labor policies, but the Carbon Price is not one of them. They’ve been a damn disappointment in many areas, though.

    Hope we do get some Boltites here, should prove amusing…

  43. randay says

    barbaraflorey N° 30, “It isn’t that black or white. Neither is it with religion.”

    Yes, like religion, there are degrees, or shades, of stupidity and ignorance.

    I am not Australian, but I have family there, so I feel alright voting–7 times against the chaplains.

  44. lsamaknight says

    Yet another Australian de-lurking to say I have no problems with the mining tax and my primary concern with the carbon tax is how effective they’re going to be (especially given the close state of the parliament) in preventing the corporations that its supposed to be negating from just dumping it on consumers.

    And I’ll also second lovedthestarstoofondly @ 23 for the “eeewww, Andrew Bolt” sentiment. I didn’t need that on my screen.

  45. says

    Hi Barbara,

    As you have discovered, most Pharyngulites cling to their global warming beliefs with the same passion that a devout Catholic embraces the cross. Does it concern them that there has been no significant warming for fifteen years? No. Does it concern them that the feedback loop on which the whole AGW theory is predicated has never once been demonstrated empirically to exist, although an experiment to do so would be easy to design and carry out? No. Will I be excoriated for writing this? Yes, of course.

    Coming to the issue at hand, does it worry them that a pointless Carbon Tax, designed to achieve nothing except buying off the Green Party for another year, will inflict billions of dollars worth of damage to the Australian economy for no discernible result? Apparently not.

    Anyway, welcome aboard. Nice to encounter a fellow sceptic here. Our numbers will no doubt increase as time goes by, so keep plugging away.

  46. John Morales says

    jonjermey:

    As you have discovered, most Pharyngulites cling to their global warming beliefs with the same passion that a devout Catholic embraces the cross.

    Acceptance of science is akin to Catholicism?

    (Heh)

    Does it concern them that there has been no significant warming for fifteen years?

    Does it concern you that you’re bullshitting?

    Does it concern them that the feedback loop on which the whole AGW theory is predicated has never once been demonstrated empirically to exist, although an experiment to do so would be easy to design and carry out?

    You deny physics, eh?

    Will I be excoriated for writing this? Yes, of course.

    Sneering ain’t excoriation.

    Coming to the issue at hand, does it worry them that a pointless Carbon Tax, designed to achieve nothing except buying off the Green Party for another year, will inflict billions of dollars worth of damage to the Australian economy for no discernible result?

    Nice to encounter a fellow sceptic here.

    Denialist, not sceptic.

    (Sceptics don’t dismiss scientific data)

    Having polluters pay is pointless to you?

    Our numbers will no doubt increase as time goes by, so keep plugging away.

    Nah, over time people accept reality.

    Here’s the CSIRO’s take: Climate questions: Has global warming stopped?

  47. Ariaflame, BSc, BF, PhD says

    If Gillard was really a populist, then surely she’d be basing all her policies on what the ‘polls’ (admittedly some of them are idiotic) say like Abbott does.

    Do I think she’s the best thing since sliced bread? No, but considering the situation she’s been put in she’s done a pretty good job. (And I’m willing to bet the vitriol would not have been nearly so bad if she wasn’t a she) It would be interesting to know what the pressures are that have kept the chaplaincy thing in play. Ahh. Politics.

    Queensland voted against the state labour government because they weren’t happy with some things, and I’m sure they thought they were just doing a ‘protest’ vote, and they’ve ended up with a state government full of right wing loonies who are dragging it back towards the 1950s.

  48. Suido says

    @ Ariaflame #45

    What Tigtog said in the second paragraph of #47 is a pretty good summary of my view of the labor party and their recent policy decisions.

    You’re right, I’m not giving bonus points for adversity – Julia got herself into a difficult job and I’m rating her performance in that job.

    Her handling of her backbenchers with regards to Rudd and the pokies legislation shows that her leadership of her own party is poor. Her handling of Abbott and selling the carbon tax shows that her leadership of her country is poor.
    The nonexistent difference between the two party’s policies on many social justice issues (indigenous, refugee, gay marriage) leads to petty centralist squabbling over minor details.

    If Gillard really wanted to show how negative and reactionary Abbott is, she’d be introducing progressive policies and broadening the debate. But no, we’re stuck with arguments about whether Malaysia is better than Nauru and the gay marriage vote doomed to failure by the ALP allowing a conscience vote while the Coalition whip disallows the same.

    It may be arguable that blame should be apportioned to the ALP machine, but I think the ultimate responsibility for the ALP’s failures since the last election should rest on the PM’s shoulders.

    What confuses the fuck out of me is how we can have two party leaders that are so deeply unpopular with the public, while popular alternatives are on hand. The fact that party politics is keeping Turnbull and Rudd out of the respective leadership roles is ridiculous.

    I tried discussing the Turnbull situation with a Liberal friend of mine, and he basically said “Abbott is the leader that Liberal voters like, Turnbull is the leader that Labour voters like.’ Given the zero-sum nature of compulsory voting, it seems like a no-brainer to me that the Libs would have won the last election by a landslide if they’d kept Turnbull in charge – all those locked in Liberal votes plus a swag of swing/Labour leaning voters too?

    Hell, if I wasn’t too busy voting Green, I’d even think about voting for Turnbull.

    TL;DR: Australian politics is a sucky stinkhole because compulsory voting makes everything zero-sum/centrist, and there is so little public involvement in pre-selection and party platform decisions. Gillard is a product of that and has shown crappy leadership skills. Abbott, fuck Abbott and his copy-cat Republican antics. Jury is still out on Milne. We miss you Bob.

  49. Suido says

    PS I’m fully aware that optional voting has its own set of problems. You can argue the toss either way, I changed my mind on the matter a couple of years ago and have firmed in my opinions since then. I think the zero-sum result of compulsory voting in a (essentially) two party system means that swing voters are the ONLY demographic that matters. I welcome any attempt to convince me otherwise :)

  50. John Morales says

    [OT]

    Ariaflame:

    If Gillard was really a populist, then surely she’d be basing all her policies on what the ‘polls’ (admittedly some of them are idiotic) say like Abbott does.

    And if she were a liar, then surely all her statements would be lies, right?

    Suido, there’s a reason the religious right has prospered in the USA.

  51. jste says

    @41

    I’m not saying the tax will destroy my way of life, or that client change doesn’t exist, or that I’m against a carbon tax. I’m mainly upset that I don’t see how it will work, and I don’t understand how it will work. I have personally seen prices (local fruit and veg even) go up “because of the carbon tax,” despite promises that they wouldn’t. Here is where I’m supposed to troll about how I can’t afford it, but I can. Plus fuel is ridiculously cheap at the moment.

    Maybe my sources of local news are just heavily slanted against Gillard (Actually, that’s almost definitely true), but if so, please feel free to point me to some links that will help me understand.

    All that being said, having had a chance to get past the pessimism that’s been haunting me today, those two climate change questions are supremely stupid and need to be replaced by some of the far more deserving questions in the list.

  52. Suido says

    JohnMorales, but not in Europe? The religious right may prosper from optional voting, but that’s not an argument for compulsory voting.

  53. John Morales says

    [OT]

    Suido, there are pros and cons to compulsory voting, and I disagree with your opinion as to which is better overall, but I’m not gonna argue the point.

  54. says

    jonjeremy #52:

    Our numbers will no doubt increase as time goes by, so keep plugging away.

    This is the one thing I will never get about right-wingers, or bullies of any stripe for that matter: the false confidence.

    Seriously. You could have these guys (and Chill Girls™) backed into a corner unarmed, point all sorts of guns and artillery and missiles at them and tell them they’re going to be atomized if they don’t surrender, and they’d seemingly still start bleating on about how they’ll still win in the end.

    That is, when they’re not bleating on about how you can’t assume you’ve won the war, never mind of course that you’ve got them surrounded and at gunpoint.

  55. says

    Suido #55:

    TL;DR: Australian politics is a sucky stinkhole because compulsory voting makes everything zero-sum/centrist

    Wrong. The situation that tigtog described with the Labour Party is the exact same thing that the Democratic Party in the US is facing right now.

    And the reason that the Democratic Party has been chasing the Republicans rightwards is because the establishment of both parties has effectively been bought. It’s more obvious with the Republicans and their rampant idiocy, but every time a Dem candidate starts going on the offensive there are a shitton of tone-trolls — who mostly identify as Dem and ‘independent’ — that will come out of the woodwork bemoaning “negative” advertising because that’s ruining the system, the Republicans are doing it all the time and look what’s happening. And, of course, the real centrist and leftist policies enjoy landslides of support from voters registered as Dem, GOP and the magical “independent”…but don’t listen to the voters, they’re too stupid or something.

    All this because the Dems are desperate to get the sort of “campaign contributors” the GOP has been rubbing shoulders with since the Gilded Age. Because all of them are rich =/

  56. John Phillips, FCD says

    Setar #62, yep, classic Monty Python’s The Black Knight syndrome.

  57. Ariaflame, BSc, BF, PhD says

    The basic theory jste, is that currently the biggest polluters are polluting (adding a negative externality) without actually paying for it. They’re making a mess, but they’re neither cleaning it up, nor paying for anyone else to clean it up. The carbon price basically is a way of saying ‘either clean up yourselves or pay up so that money can be put into cleaner ways of doing things/cleaning up your mess’. If they don’t want to pay so much then they should find cleaner ways. Meantime it means that those who are doing it cleaner ways, but were penalised in the market because the polluters weren’t paying to clean up after themselves are now on a more level playing field.

    Now it does mean that overall prices are going to go up (a little, and I have a colleague who worked out for example how much a birthday cake would go up… answer not much) so there is compensation for those who are battling (and if you’re earning $250,000 per year you’re not battling) so that now you have money in your pocket and can choose to spend that money by giving it to the dirty polluters who are now going to be about the same cost as the cleaner producers if they are passing the extra costs on. Now when the price difference was big then the people with a tight budget would go for cheap and dirty because that is all they can afford, but if you have the opportunity to go cleaner and the price isn’t that different? Why wouldn’t you? So double incentive for the polluters to clean up their act.

  58. says

    jste #59

    @41

    I’m not saying the tax will destroy my way of life, or that client change doesn’t exist, or that I’m against a carbon tax. I’m mainly upset that I don’t see how it will work, and I don’t understand how it will work. I have personally seen prices (local fruit and veg even) go up “because of the carbon tax,” despite promises that they wouldn’t. Here is where I’m supposed to troll about how I can’t afford it, but I can. Plus fuel is ridiculously cheap at the moment.

    This is where the lack of communication comes in, although I must grant that given a hostile mainstream media environment it’s hard for simple informative press releases to cut through.

    Your fruit and veg shop is acting illegally by putting up prices and blaming it on the carbon tax. There is a mechanism to report them for them to be fined and shamed for being such gougers. You should report them.

    The ACCC (Australia Competition and Consumer Commission) hotline for reporting carbon tax price gougers is 1300 303 609

  59. says

    The gay marriage and school chaplains questions look pretty safe in the top two positions. There’s also a perfectly sensible question about military pensions that only needs a few hundred votes to knock the carbon tax question out of third place, maybe we should give that a bit of help.

  60. empiricallyyours says

    As an Aussie living in Brisbane, I Thank you PZ for alerting us to this poll. My votes would never have counted, as I wouldn’t have been able to cast them without you.

    The Andrew Boltites however, are kicking up a fuss over us “militant Atheists”, and our “immoral” voting practises. Maybe an addendum to your posts on this topic to highlight your Australian readership? Plus, how we have a democratic right to vote, no matter which country we happen to reside in.

  61. Suido says

    @Setár, self-appointed Elf-Sheriff of the FreethoughtBlogs Star Chamber #63

    TL;DR: Australian politics is a sucky stinkhole because compulsory voting makes everything zero-sum/centrist

    Wrong. The situation that tigtog described with the Labour Party is the exact same thing that the Democratic Party in the US is facing right now.

    For starters, the rest of your post didn’t actually provide any rationale for the first word. Not that it was irrelevant, but comparing the Dems and the ALP doesn’t actually prove me wrong.

    I agree those comparisons are true, but I would argue that ALP’s policy problems and rightward creep are derived primarily from zero-sum strategic thinking by party leaders.

    Looking at the primary votes since 1937, only once does a party earn less than 35% of the vote, and only 12 times less than 40%. This means that ~75-80% of voters are a lock, and the parties are assured of getting their base support. In order to retain their bases, the parties only need to remain minimally better than the other party to retain their vote.

    A strong third party would change the nature of the game, and the rise of the greens on the left flank of the ALP is another reason for Labor’s rightward shift (and a significant difference from the Dems), as they try to make up their losses on the left with more of the centre-right vote. In the end, it all comes down to being a zero-sum game, where only potential swing voters count.

  62. Suido says

    @Johnmorales: When I was in the process of challenging my default assumption that compulsory voting was better (from growing up in Aus and being parochial), I read up on both types of voting system, and the various ways they are implemented around the world. I definitely agree that both have good/bad points, but the current way that I prioritise the pros/cons means that I’m on the other side from you.

    A discussion for TET, perhaps (I haven’t exercised my fingers there yet).

  63. jste says

    @ariaflame

    Thanks, I somehow overlooked that existing green products were already more expensive, so it makes better sense now… Some sort of tunnel vision I suppose.

    @tigtog

    Right, that’s good to know. I think I shall follow that up then.

  64. Rumtopf says

    Is this new? At PZ’s second link.

    UPDATE

    It seems the author has got US Internet forums to help.

    Also here:
    http://ingodwelust.com/2012/07/not-so-pointless-poll-on-australian-chaplains/

    http://www.rationalresponders.com/aggregator

    http://twitter.com/AtheistAus

    http://twitter.com/pzmyers
    Should blog readers fight fire with fire? It does seem odd having US readers demand answers from an Australian PM that they’ll almost certainly won’t hear about a program that doesn’t affect them in the slightest.

    Made me go PFFT, for obvious reasons.

  65. Suido says

    @Jtse

    Sorry, I missed your post #59 last night. Happy to see that Ariaflame and Tigtog were able to help you to a better understanding. Consider yourself removed from that group I mentioned in #41 :)

  66. Colin J says

    Another Aussie here. Long time Labor voter now turned to the Greens due to bitter disappointment on issues like asylum seekers, gay marriage, private school funding and school chaplains.

    GetUp! is wading into this one now with: “Prime Minister Julia Gillard, when will your government stop placing asylum seeker children in detention?” Reckon they might have left their run a bit late.

  67. katkinkate says

    Yet another Aussi here. Thanks for the headsup re the opportunity to vote for a question, PZ. Regarding the compulsory vs volunteer voting debate, I fall to the compulsory side myself. It’s only a small fine if you choose not (or forget) to vote. There is an option to give a reason for not voting and at least some reasons are acceptable (eg. religious beliefs) as legal exemptions so you don’t have to pay. So if you really don’t want to vote it’s easy to get out of.

    For all those who have no real reason not to, the voting reminds people of the existence of their citizen responsibilities and acts as a spur to further involvement that may never have happened if they had to think about it for themselves. That is, I believe the compulsory vote increases political activity within the community for little individual cost or personal commitment. Also with everyone expected to be on the electoral rolls and a politically independent Electoral Commission many of the voting scams enjoyed by USA politicians (eg. electoral roll purges) are virtually impossible.

  68. empiricallyyours says

    “Dear Prime Minister, the Stronger Futures legislation was recently passed in the Senate, subjecting Aboriginal people in the NT to 10 more years of Interventionist policy. This is despite overwhelming opposition expressed from Aboriginal leaders….”

    Is coming on strong, it would seem that a votebot is driving it up. While I don’t disagree with the question being asked. I think another drive to ensure our questions placement is warranted.