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Showing posts from May, 2012

Local Members

I read an excellent book by Guy Rundle in 2009 about the previous year's presidential elections in the US. Since then, he seems to have gone marginally insane, perhaps as part of Crikey's apparent editorial belief that exaggeration and extremism is the only way to survive as a small media organisation.

This article initially seemed to be part of this new tendency for the wild and half-baked. It looks back over 60 years of representative democracy in Australia and laments the historical existence of governments that held a majority in the House of Representatives but had been defeated in the popular vote.

Media & Policy

A friend of mine showed my last post to someone who works at The Age whose response was that "it's the consumer, not the newspaper" that drives the lack of policy analysis. Obviously this is a second-hand paraphrasing of a not-fleshed-out line of argument, but I still have so many things to say about it!
First the snark - if Fairfax is pursuing a consumer-oriented model so that they stay profitable and viable, they're not doing a very good job. (Also, I referenced in my post two people off the top of my head who do this kind of writing in the US. Is the Australian market really dumber than the American one?)
This speaks to a more serious point, though, which is that newspapers do unprofitable things quite a lot and cross-subsidise, either within a publication or within a company (the News Limited tabloids subisidise the Australian, but almost all newspapers likely have lifestyle sections and human-interest stories which pay for foreign reporting). The reason they do th…

What is a political correspondent?

I'm going to study politics when I start at university, either late this year or at the start of 2013. When I mention that politics is a part of the course I want to do, people tend to screw up their face and ask why I'd be interested in the dirty game. The answer, in truth, is that I'm not that much.
Leaving aside international relations (which is really a different thing), I'm interested in two areas which have (or should have...) significant overlap with 'politics' but aren't quite it exactly, and certainly aren't it in common perception. I have some interest firstly in political structures, and secondly in policy.
I've written a little bit about political structures (on conscience votes, and judicial review) and I'm intending to write a bit more, particularly about democratic mandates and what exactly they might mean. This is a fairly academic interest, but it does interact with policymaking in ways that make it worth considering in a fair bit…

Judicial Review

Earlier this week I did a debate about the election of justices to the US Supreme Court. Whilst I don't actually think that's a particularly good idea, the case we made in favour of election contained a lot of elements that I agreed with. Essentially I am broadly suspicious of judicial review, particularly as applied to striking down legislation that has been passed. This kind of review generally involves considering a law against a constitution or some higher law. I have a couple of problems with this.
Firstly, it's not clear why the democratic wish of an electorate for a certain policy should be overruled by the caveats decided upon some lengthy period of time earlier. If Australians want plain packaging for cigarettes, or Americans want healthcare that involves compelling people to buy insurance, the fact that constitution-writers didn't think those were good ideas doesn't seem a particularly legitimate reason to prevent modern citizens from implementing them.