GOOD READING AND LISTENING FOR THE WEEKEND …

‘Donald Trump’s election inspired such moral revulsion and political outrage … that parts of the American electorate have taken to calling themselves ‘The Resistance’.  Is Trump turning liberals into radicals? – Sarah Leonard (The New York Times International Edition)

‘The project of American democracy – to live beyond such tribal identities, to construct a society based on the individual, to see ourselves as citizens of a people’s republic, to place religion off limits and even in recent years to embrace a multiracial and post-religious society – was always a precarious endeavour.’  Can democracy survive tribalism – Andrew Sullivan (New York Magazine

‘Catalonia is not the only region with distinct culture and language. There are four ethnolinguistic groups in Spain including the main Spanish identity, each with varying degrees of separatist sentiment.’  Which other regions in Spain want to secede – Creede Newton (Al Jazeera)

The Australian government ignored a valuation provided by its own research agency when it bought back water from an agricultural company in the lower Darling in June, and instead paid $78 million – almost twice as much as the recommendation.’  $78 million spent on Murray water buyback nearly twice its valuation – Anne Davies (the Guardian)

The Productivity Commission has produced an Inquiry Report Shifting the Dial: 5 Year Productivity Review – a “look out across the landscape of factors and influences that may affect Australia’s economic performance over the medium term”. It highlights many areas where entrenched poor work practices, often sustained by the political influence of rent-seekers, are imposing burdens on the Australian community. In health care for example, it suggests more emphasis on early intervention, a re-direction of funds to higher-value interventions (away from programs such as subsidies for ancillary insurance), and fundamental changes to pharmaceutical dispensing.  Contributors to Pearls and Irritations will be giving the report much more coverage in coming weeks.

In an interview with Geraldine Doogue, George Megalogenis explains how the immigrants Australia is currently welcoming differ from those we took in the great postwar immigration boom. There has been an obvious different ethnic and geographic mix. More importantly there has been a change in the dynamics. The old model was for the first generation to take a menial job and for their kids to advance to the middle or professional classes. The immigrants we are now taking are coming straight into skilled employment.

In that same Saturday Extra Program there was a piece by Ramesh Thakur: in case you missed it Geraldine gave full recognition to Pearls and Irritations.  Congratulations!

Who’ll face up to the pharmacy protection racket? – Peter Martin (Canberra Times) An enquiry has commented that location rule for pharmacies are ‘the equivalent of falling down a gold mine’.

Writing in The Conversation, Peter Sivey of RMIT University School of Economics reminds us that the government’s latest tweaks to private health insurance won’t slow our insatiable appetite for more health care and resulting higher insurance costs.

The scrutiny of defence spending is now imperative – John Hewson (Canberra Times)   John Hewson says ‘The history of Defence procurement over the last decade should be screaming that ‘something is wrong’ – the most recent ‘initiative’ is the $50 billion submarine project, announced in haste in the run-up to the last Federal election, building on the “success” of its predecessor of the Collins Class debacle!  The combined submarine and frigate projects could easily waste more than $200 billion on taxpayers money over their lives.’  

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