Q&A: plenty of questions, no simple solutions

19 Sep

I have come to believe that ABC-TV’s Q&A really is excellent, if frustrating. Unlike its (Howardite?) predecessor Difference of Opinion which did seek to put issues into Procrustes’ bed, Q&A tends to raise questions rather than really answer them. Perhaps that’s what is so good about it. Last night’s episode certainly raised questions, as Thomas has already noted, as has someone else I’d rather not name…

Rhodes Scholar with an Oxford Blue in boxing and one of the better performers in the House, Shadow Minister for Families and Indigenous Affairs, Tony Abbot makes a welcome return to the program. Joining him, the member for Bennelong, former ABC journalist, Maxine McKew, academic, young Muslim community leader and host of SBS’s Salam Café, Waleed Aly, former advisor to the Howard Government and author of Liberal Women – Federation to 1949, Margaret Fitzherbert and former editor of conservative magazine “Quadrant” and now left leaning academic and author, Robert Manne. Expect plenty of jousting and robust conversation – all seasoned with a big dose of civility.

On the current meltdown on Wall Street and beyond what emerged for me was that we have indeed, whatever the outcome, truly come to the end of our naive faith in The Market. In its own idiom the God’s Politics blog echoes that sentiment.

…The people on top of the American economy get rich whether they make good or bad decisions, while workers and consumers are the ones who suffer from all their bad ones. Prudent investment has been replaced with reckless financial gambling in what some have called a “casino economy.” And the benefits accruing to top CEOs and financial managers, especially as compared to the declining wages of average workers, has become one of the greatest moral travesties of our time.

In the search for blame, some say greed and some say deregulation.  Both are right. The financial collapse of Wall Street is the fiscal consequence of the economic philosophy that now governs America — that markets are always good and government is always bad. But it is also the moral consequence of greed, where private profit prevails over the concept of the common good.  The American economy is often rooted in unbridled materialism, a culture that continues to extol greed, a false standard of values that puts short-term profits over societal health, and a distorted calculus that measures human worth by personal income instead of character, integrity, and generosity.

Americans have a love-hate relationship with government and business. The climate seems to shift between an “anything goes” mentality and stricter government regulation. The excesses of the 1920s, leading to the Great Depression, were followed by the reforms of Franklin Roosevelt…

Things look better on Wall Street this morning, but what Faustian bargain has happened between the USA and the Asian banks to underwrite that? I wonder where China stands in this… That massive cash injection has come from somewhere…

But the issue that really troubled all of us watching, and the panel, was euthanasia. I do know that in fact it happens, whatever the legal position, under the guise of palliative care. It is simply a matter of turning up the morphine… And where I have known this to be the case I did not have a problem with it, except that it all has to happen sub rosa. But then the panel rightly worried about what complexities and ambiguities legislation for euthanasia could raise. It was pointed out that when the Northern Territory brought in euthanasia legislation a few years ago, subsequently struck down by the Howard government and currently the subject of renewed attention by The Greens, it was in fact so hedged about that it may have been easier to achieve euthanasia through loopholes in the common law, which is presumably how it happens now. It was also pointed out that abortion is not, as such, legal in Australia, but can and does happen through similar common law flexibility. Exactly how that works I will leave to the likes of Marcellous and Legal Eagle.

Fortunately, as I have noted before, our parliaments resort to conscience rather than party voting on issues of such complexity.

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Posted by on September 19, 2008 in Australia, Australia and Australian, Political, politics, TV


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