Here’s this week’s Missing Link Friday.
One for the country
Don’t stop at two, says Mark Richardson. "to have stable population growth you need a large percentage of couples to have 3 children to make up for those having none. Limiting families to 2 children won’t work."
The Idea of Home‘s Alison Sampson planned on stopping after two. But she just couldn’t shake off the idea of having one more:
I had such clear visions, such beautiful images when I sat with the idea. I saw a group of children running up the stairs into the sky, colourful skirts swirling and voices laughing; I saw loving arms extended towards me, and a baby lying between us, and knew that to enter into the presence of love was to pick the baby up.
But there’s always something that falls between the idea and the reality, and in Alison’s case, it was a fistful of poo. She begins a recent post with this: "Yesterday morning began when a toddler came crying into my room, holding a moist and squishy turd in her hand …"
Clearly parenthood isn’t all colourful skirts swirling and voices laughing:
I’ve been exhausted lately, tired and flat and sick of the kids and life at home. I feel like I had one child too many. I’m more than ready for them all to be out of the house six hours a day while I do other things. I’m tired of watching ‘ballet concerts’ and puppet shows and tired of picking up the mess or corralling them into doing it. I’m fed up with their squabbling, and the two year old’s tantrums, and hearing her shout ‘no’ every minute of the day. I’m tired of being the adult, understanding and mature; and I’m tired of failing to be the adult, of losing my temper or just shutting the kids out. I’m sick of being patient, of tricking a two year old into keeping her shoes on or sitting in a car seat. I just want to slap her.
But despite the mess, the tantrums and the poo, Alison writes "I can’t really believe I made the wrong decision to have a third child."
At Adelaide from Adelaide, Tracy Crisp surrenders to the American custom of Halloween "because it’s pretty hard not to let your kids be part of a candy-fest when they can see it all happening outside their window". And with trick-or-treat looming, it was time to do some shopping … for sultanas. As Tracy explains to her unimpressed boys:
The best thing is that everyone is going to say to you, “Your Mom is hopeless and she only gives out sultanas” and I am not going to care because I am 41 years old and no longer care what others think about me, whereas you are 8 and 9 years old so you still care a lot about what your friends think.
There was a tiny moment of silence and they looked at me with the look I particularly love which is all ‘fark, she really knows her shit’, and then they laughed as much as the mister and I were laughing, and one of them (but I don’t remember who) said, ‘Mum, you’re hilarious.’
And sometimes, not often, but every now and then, I’m exactly the mother I wanted to be.
If you read Elissa Doherty’s Herald Sun piece about mothers who breast feed each other’s children, you might be interested in the behind-the-scenes story at And All That Sazz.
So where the bloody hell are you?
Apparently Australia is attracting the wrong kind of foreigners. According to Tony Abbott, the idyllic Adelaide Hills is no place to build a detention centre for asylum seekers. It "is basically saying to the people smugglers and their customers that the welcome mat is out, that the red-carpet treatment is available."
"What bollocks", says Greg Jericho. "If Abbott really wants to get rid of the ‘pull factor he should come up with some policies that make Australia a horrible place to live in. Make it a place less inviting than Indonesia."
According to the ABC’s Emma Rodgers, Immigration Minister Chris Bowen says detention centres are not meant to be punitive or send a message of deterrence to asylum seekers. Greg hopes that Labor will back rhetoric with action:
It’s time the ALP stuck to its guns and not worry about the asylum seeker dilemma. We are at a point in the electoral cycle where the polls are almost irrelevant (one of the reason why I haven’t bothered to report on Newspolls etc since the election).
Terra at Australia Incognita agrees. She writes:
The Government has a rare window at the moment to try and fundamentally turn around the asylum seeker debate, and try and change the ground for it before we go back to election mode and they get rolled over once more by Howard-esq popularism on this issue.
A leaky vote
With Victoria about to go to the polls, Labor are worried about losing votes to the Greens. As Legal Eagle explains, the campaign has turned nasty. Lawyer and Greens candidate for Melbourne, Brian Walters has been accused of being an anti-Semite because he once represented alleged former Nazi war criminal Konrad Kalejs. It’s "it’s an easy, but misleading smear" she writes.
Walters is also getting flak for representing a company involved in the Yallourn coal mining industry. At Groupthink, Spock says the Labor Party still don’t get it:
The ALP needs to stop and realise that there are reasons that they are losing the left to The Greens, and it has nothing to do with the public being ill-informed about the Greens being secret coal-sympathizing Nazis. It’s because the ALP stopped representing them.
Although we are pretty much at opposite ends of the spectrum as conventionally viewed (Roberts is a George Mason prof and Chicago PhD and EconTalk is published at the EconLib site) we found quite a few areas of agreement, and had a constructive discussion on the points of disagreement. That’s partly because Russ is a good host, but also because, as Matt Yglesias noted in a tweet not so long ago, my critique of ideas like the EMH is very similar to that of Austrian-inclined critics like Amar Bhide.
Even his critics seem to like the book. Tim Worstall writes:
The book was trialled in large part over at Crooked Timber and I did perhaps more than my fair share of sniping at (what I perceived to be ) errors in the comments sections. In return I’ve been thanked in the intro (along with many others of course) for aiding in the writing of the book.
But while Tim acknowledges that "John Quiggin is indeed a gent", he notes that "even on that rare occasion that I was actually correct I don’t seem to have swayed the great man."
UNIVERSITIES are increasingly populated by the undead: a listless population of academics, managers, administrators and students, all shuffling to the beat of the corporatist drum.
… Many zombies have long lost the capacity to distinguish between a place of learning and a money-making PR machine, mummified in red tape.
Peter writes: "If you put the dramatic, inflammatory language to one side for a moment, it does accurately capture a very real problem with the higher education sector in Australia."
More than just great chicken
In 2001, Portugal decriminalized the private use of all illicit drugs, including heroin, cannabis, and cocaine. As long as a person is not found in possession of more than 10 days’ worth of any of these drugs, use and possession is no longer a criminal offense. The main point of the new policy was to focus more on dissuasion, make it easier for addicted users to seek help, reduce the flow of funds to criminal gangs, and to reduce the burden of drug enforcement upon the criminal justice system.
According to Australian researchers Caitlin Elizabeth Hughes and Alex Stevens: "the Portuguese decriminalization did not lead to major increases in drug use. Indeed, evidence indicates reductions in problematic use, drug-related harms and criminal justice overcrowding".
"Perhaps worth copying here in Australia?", wonders Paul.
A less interesting Andrew Leigh?
Back when he was an academic economist, Andrew Leigh wondered out loud about the way people became less interesting as they became more powerful. "Give me the Book Show over Question Time any day," he wrote.
These days Dr Leigh is an up-and-coming Labor politician. And as Malcolm Gladwell noted in his book What the Dog Saw, people who acquire position and privilege tend to become self conscious; "and self-consciousness is the enemy of ‘interestingness.’ "
Greg Craven, the Australian Catholic University’s vice-chancellor, is alarmed by the Group of Eight’s latest paper on higher education funding. It "has all the naked self-interest of the Roman sprite Priapus", he writes in the Australian.
According to Craven, one of the things the Group of Eight would like to do, is "increase the contribution of students towards their education by up to 50 per cent".
If students at sandstone universities paid more, would they get a better standard of teaching than they do now? According to Andrew Norton, the universities would probably spend much of the extra income on research rather than teaching: "So it looks like there is a prestige component in the fee". Is this a bad thing? Maybe not, suggests Andrew:
Though the money is not being spent directly on students, what they are buying is the university’s reputation, which is in turn substantially based on their research. It’s similar to buying designer brands, where part of your money is buying the marketing that makes your purchase fashionable. The difference is that in the university case some of research funded through buying prestige might lead to public benefits. It’s status seeking with a positive spin-off.