Missing Link Daily

A digest of the best of the blogosphere published each weekday and compiled by Ken Parish,  Gilmae, Gummo Trotsky, Amanda Rose, Tim Sterne, Stephen Hill and Saint.

Politics

Australian

Mark Bahnisch tries to avoid taking an obvious approach to the 2020 summit.  Robert Merkel shows no such compunction and Googles some of the 2020 Summit participants.  Another alternative for those not invited to the 2020 summit – Brendan Nelson’s listening tour.

Harry Clarke, Possum Comitatus and Gary Sauer Thompson achieve a rare unity ticket on the Murray-Darling water plan, though disagreeing on whether Victoria was actually bribed with an additional $1 billion. GS-T:

Under the Memorandum of Understanding signed at CoAG in Adelaide the Commonwealth Minister will have the power to determine the cap. However, the as-yet- unspecified cap on water extraction from the river system for irrigation will not become fully operational for more than a decade. The Murray-Darling Basin Authority will not produce a plan until 2011. The state’s existing water resource plans will remain in place until they expire . For SA this is 2012, 2014 for NSW and Queensland and 2019 for Victoria. Under the agreement the states maintain control of the water in their territory.  

Never mind about the Stolen Generations, in Queensland they go straight for the money. Andrew Bartlett on Stolen Wages.

jarraparilla on a Murdoch beat-up.

 Andrew Norton on demographic problems for the Liberal vote, and blue collar voters who won’t stick.

You probably don’t lie awake at night wondering whether US supermarket giant Walmart are a bunch of complete arseholes, or whether John McCain is an idiot.  You won’t after watching the video at right either.

International

Norman Geras looks at the achievements of Robert Mugabe and focuses on South Africa’s supine complicity as everyone waits for the “results” (including those in the photo at right who also had to wait to vote).  Virginia Simmons and aavey both speculate that Mugabe is about to claim victory anyway

Things may not be the best in Liberia either, but at least Alex Tabarrok has discovered they understand statistics and research methodology.

Andrew Bartlett looks at emerging if fragmentary boycotts of the Beijing Olympics, including by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Jonathan Pearce looks at youth gang violence in Britain and prescribes the counter-intuitive (if predictable for a libertarian) remedy of deregulation.

RWDB warbloggers and (strangely) John Quiggin argue that Sadr has lost in Basra as evidenced by offering a ceasefire, while Juan Cole argues that it just proves how powerful Iran now is in iraq and how GW Bush is irrelevant!


Economics

Joshua Gans posts more on his proposal for an Oz version of Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac, and casts a sceptical eye over the economics of time travel

Will Wilkinson doesn’t think much of Paul Krugman’s views on immigration or inequality:

Ive been reading The Conscience of a Liberal for the third time. This is not pleasant work. Reading a John Bates Clark Medal winner shouldnt feel this much like reading Ann Coulter. But it does. Liberal Fascism is a more intellectually evenhanded book, which says more about Krugman than it does about Liberal Fascism, Im afraid.


Law

Kim Weatherall has links and brief comments on mooted proposals for a three strikes and youre out policy, disconnecting copyright-infringing internet users. 


chuckle

Dreyer’s muse

simply a child

Rock formations Monument Valley

Issues analysis

Saint is hoping for some hoping for some nuanced all out denial of Jennifer Marohasy’s Plastic Bag mythology.((With my advance apologies to KP ~saint))1 

tigtog on marketing flacks who think women want products that look pretty in pink.

Ophelia looks at one of those appalling “honour killing” situations in Pakistan (albeit one that hasn’t happened yet).

Norman Geras examines attempts by the British academics’ trade union to orchestrate a boycott of Israeli academics despite opposition from its members and the fact that it probably breaches anti-discrimination law.

Tarleton Gillespie takes a nuanced/sceptical look at technological determinism (including on the Internet and blogging).


Arts

Bernice Balconey posts a poem by Bruce Dawe, while Tim Train has one about a pile of books.

Perry Middlemiss extracts an article about Helen Garner on the eve of publication of her first novel in 15 years.

Marcellous reviews two nights at the opera in Sydney (Pilgrims Progress and Un ballo in maschera) and a SSO concert (Shostakovich and a newly commissioned work for viola and orchestra by Georges Lentz).

Explaining music through maths.

A comprehensive run down of the latest ep of So You Think You Can Dance?   Especially for Meryl Tankard, if she’s reading.


 Sport

 Tony is hoping, wishing and praying that his team can win three or less games. I’ve (gilmae?) always thought AFL is an odd sport.


Snark, strangeness and charm

Geert Wilder’s Fitna is odds-on favourite to be the centre of this week’s biggest RWDB v LWNP (left-wing namby-pamby) on-line cock-fight.

Pommygranate scored himself a link from Andrew Bolt with this post, which comes very close to arguing that anyone who doesn’t lavish fulsome praise on Wilder’s little 17-minute hate session is less than whole-hearted in their commitment to freedom of speech.

Currency Lad shows his commitment to this most central of western values by giving the film four out of five stars:

The score, effects, pace and structure of Fitna are all just about faultless for a short film whose theme is meant to linger in the mind for ongoing contemplation.

On the downside:

The methodology, however, is simply a high-art representation of the standard polemical device of quoting from the Koran and linking the words to violent events. Not original.

  1. I don’t have a problem with this one.  In contrast to global warming, there really is some respectable scientific evidence favouring Marohasy’s approach on plastic bags, as highlighted by no less an authority than the Productivity Commission.  In fact, there’s little or no evidence that plastic shopping bags pose any environmental threat whatever ~ KP []

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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Amanda
13 years ago

Heh. Keith Olbermann. Heh.

Amanda
13 years ago

Not that the story he is referring to is at all amusing.
http://edition.cnn.com/2008/US/03/25/walmart.insurance.battle/?iref=newssearch&imw=Y

Patrick
Patrick
13 years ago

Things may not be the best in Liberia either, but at least Alex Tabarrok has discovered they understand statistics and research methodology.

I thought you guys would pick up on that one – it was one of the most surprising and cheering things I have read in a while. If people click on one link it should be that one!

Norman Geras examines attempts by the British academics trade union to orchestrate a boycott of Israeli academics despite opposition from its members and the fact that it probably breaches anti-discrimination law.

This is one of the most stinging damnations of the British academic’s trade union one can imagine. The fact that they are proud of it is incredible. Last time, they gave up when Columbia, UC and I think Yale (and a host of smaller institutions) said that they would self-impose any boycott on themselves.

And of course I loved the Will Wilkinson link :)

gilmae
13 years ago

I love the bit in Quiggin’s post about how residents of the Green Zone having to stay indoors and wear body armour at all times because of the constant fear of artillery is a sign that the villains are losing. That actually made me think Quiggin had his tongue firmly in cheek.

gilmae
13 years ago

Oh and yes, it was me with the AFL comment. Amused at you re-uppercasing my name at the top of the page, but writing it lowercased in the query.

James Farrell
13 years ago

Is it really that subtle?

gilmae
13 years ago

The ‘strangely’ in parenthesis made me wonder if I had read too much into the Quiggin post. But no, I read too much into the ‘strangely’ :- )

pommygranate
pommygranate
13 years ago

i honestly wasn’t aware that freedom of speech had become a ‘right wing’ issue. have the left wing namby-pambies given up on it, then? or is freedom from plastic bags more important now.

gilmae
13 years ago

The comment thread on your post, pommygranate, seems to show that even the people who agree with you on Fitna think you are soft on free speech; they disagree with some of the exceptions you allow. I can’t stand behind the text of the link above, but I also wouldn’t try parsing it as freedom of speech being an issue the left deem unimportant merely because they define the watershed differently to you.

James Farrell
13 years ago

Not necessarily, Ken. But if you’ve been subsisting, as I have, on a diet of Ken Lovell, Jeremy Sears and Apathetic Gam, you tend to assume that everything is irony until there is information to the contrary.

gandhi
13 years ago

Are you people really serious about not getting John Quiggin’s sarcasm without tags, or are you just being sarcastic?

Lee Malatesta
13 years ago

Wilkinson, as usual, is cherry-picking the data and misrepresenting Krugman.

In this particular case the most important fact that he is leaving out is that immigrants into the US are willing to work for a sub-living wage because it is better than what it is available in their home countries. So, yes, wealth is being redistributed more efficiently, but only because it is setting up a permanent race to the bottom. His view only works out to the betterment of society at large if, and only if, labor laws are reformed first so that everyone who works in the US is guaranteed a living wage.

Not that I’m against immigration, mind you. My take on immigration is mostly to simply let the flood gates open and to let the invisible hand of the market work its magic. But to do this before labor laws are reformed would be suicide for the US economy as a whole. The invisible hand, as it were, needs a bit of guidance to make certain that the playing field is even because, given the abject poverty of some nations, working for a substandard wage in the US looks very nice. And while it is true that a number of studies shows that immigration tends to raise wages for low skill manual labor, the fact of the matter is that the going rate is still not large enough to support a family.

But what can you expect from the man whose response to the market failure of the sub-prime mortgage securities market is to further deregulate the banking industry?

Amanda
13 years ago

Sorry Ken. I missed the new window injunctions. Will do from now on.

Nico
13 years ago

So all links in a post/on blog should open in a seperate window…?

(Forgive me, flu is making me slow)

Gummo Trotsky
Gummo Trotsky
13 years ago

While I’d normally be happy to sit back and let gilmae cop the flack for the link to PG’s post, it were actually me what wrote up the discussion of Fitna as odds-on favourite for on-line cock-fight of the week.

As for freedom of speech becoming a ‘right-wing’ issue – this debate is basically a re-run of the closing land race sequence of Far and Away with various bloggers riding their high-horses balls out in the general direction of the moral high ground. All very boring. As an exercise of free speech, Wilders’ film is a bit more sophisticated than spray painting “Lebos out!” on a wall somewhere but it serves the same purpose.

(Quinte & coup droite)

Jc
Jc
13 years ago

Walmarts are not arseholes.

They covered that woman’s health expenses 100% of the cost. She then sued the trucking company as a result of the accident and won the medical expenses. She doesn’t deserve to double dip as that simply isn’t allowed in the US and no insurance company could let that go.

I’m pretty sure that it was walmarts insurance company that sued for the claw back anyway or the administrators of the insurance plan.

This is just the usual beat up on Walmarts.

gilmae
13 years ago

God damn it, Jc! Now I can only lose one finger to gangrene and still be able to count the number of times a blog changed my mind. I’m running out gangrenable digits!

John Greenfield
John Greenfield
13 years ago

The whole “pretty in pink” meltdown is quite funny. Did the hivemind ever stop to think that chicks wear pink coz they like it?

NPOV
NPOV
13 years ago

It’s irrelevant what Walmart was legally entitled to do, or who made the decision. The fact is, suing a woman for an amount of money that to Walmart is pocket change, but that she will never ever be able to pay (she’s wheelchair bound, lost almost all short-term memory, and pretty much refined to a nursing home the rest of her life) is just plain cruel. I don’t see how the damages awarded initially could possibly cover the woman’s expenses for the rest of her life – she’s 52, divorced with 3 kids to support, and requiring special care: $400000 wouldn’t last 5 years, let alone the 30+ it would need to were she to match average life expectancy.

I will say though that such outcomes are hardly surprising in a country that generally makes as little effort as possible to take care of those that can’t take care of themselves.

NPOV
NPOV
13 years ago

Oh and Wal-Mart’s excuse that it is “bound by very specific rules” and acted “out of fairness to all associates who contribute to, and benefit from, the plan.” is rubbish. They could easily justify a $400000 donation to the victim as a public relations exercise. In fact, it’s hard to imagine they wouldn’t lose at least that much in sales from the bad PR.

Jc
Jc
13 years ago

Gilmae:

Medicare would not let you double dip for medical expenses. In fact it would be regarded as fraud here and you would quite likely end up in court.

So I assume you are quite okay with Medicare not allowing double dipping but it’s perfectly fine if someone does it to Walmart.

Let me explain how a medical claim works in the US. You fill in a form and tick the box if the medical complaint arose as a result of an accident. If your are reimbursed the med expenses the insurance firm rightly expects the money.

You think double dipping medical claims ought to be allowed for large firms only?

As I said, it’s another beat up on Walmart for being too successful.

gilmae
13 years ago

Actually, Jc, I had assumed previously that there had been something like a two-part settlement, one for medical expenses and one for punitive damages and that Walmart were getting into the punitive part as well.

I’m not even sure if I just described a scenario that can even exist in reality or if it is just something ginned up from too many episodes of Law & Order, but you made me actually look at a news page and yeah, Walmart’s insurance company are legally in the right. So you probably didn’t change my mind exactly, but the video ref is giving benefit of the doubt.

Jc
Jc
13 years ago

NPOV

How exactly do you know they haven’t contributed to the accident victim through other means?

Walmarts has around 800,000 employees which means that they are likely to self ensure for the most part. If it allows double dipping (unlike anyone else) insurance premiums would rise for all employees. The firm is right to be strict with this claim as it benefits all its employees. No other insurnace firm would allow double dipping… even our beloved state run system.

If you think it is okay to double dip I suggest you ought to take multiple cover on your house and car etc. and see how you go with that. Let us know if you end up with fraud charges and why you think that is unfair.

Again… this is another beat up on Walmarts by the usual suspects. Nothing new here.

NPOV
NPOV
13 years ago

If Wal-mart had decided to donate money to the accident victim, then I’d think they make an effort to have this fact known – but honestly, how dumb can a system be that they are somehow legally bound to attempt to “recover costs” even when they intend to give the money right back again.

From the point of view of the accident victim, I honestly don’t see how you can call it “double dipping”. Dipping into what exactly? And what on earth is she getting out of it? The point is that as a society we are more than rich enough to ensure that people who suffer unspeakable tragedies such as this can have their suffering kept to a minimum at no noticeable loss to the rest of us. What possible moral argument is there for not doing so?

What saddens me most is that Wal-mart have obviously decided that they won’t lose more than $470,000 in sales by acting in this sort of manner. I.e., they’re all too aware that most people have simply stopped caring.

Jc
Jc
13 years ago

If Wal-mart had decided to donate money to the accident victim, then Id think they make an effort to have this fact known – but honestly, how dumb can a system be that they are somehow legally bound to attempt to recover costs even when they intend to give the money right back again.

You dont know that for sure as their story rarely ever gets out. As I explained the entity most likely making the claim is the medical insurance entity that acts and administers for WalMart. Most medium to large US firms self-insure.

From the point of view of the accident victim, I honestly dont see how you can call it double dipping. Dipping into what exactly? And what on earth is she getting out of it?

WalMart paid her medical expenses. Part of the legal claim against the trucking firm was for medical expenses. Thats double dipping.

The point is that as a society we are more than rich enough to ensure that people who suffer unspeakable tragedies such as this can have their suffering kept to a minimum at no noticeable loss to the rest of us. What possible moral argument is there for not doing so?

Theres a good argument. Wal-Mart has to be careful how it manages its medical insurance arm or premiums will go up which means that the wages component of total fact or income will fall.

What saddens me most is that Wal-mart have obviously decided that they wont lose more than $470,000 in sales by acting in this sort of manner. I.e., theyre all too aware that most people have simply stopped caring.

Ok, fair enough. Then why don’t you get going by starting a fund on her behalf or call her and ask where you can make a donation?

NPOV
NPOV
13 years ago

I’ll also say, those who should be the most annoyed with Wal-mart are those with libertarian leanings. Because as long as companies continue to act in such a way, socialism and anti-capitalism will continue to thrive. Fortunately, most of the anger seems to be directed specifically at Wal-mart, and not at large retailers in general, but it probably only takes another corporation or two to make similar headlines for public skepticism of capitalism to be re-fuelled.

Jc
Jc
13 years ago

How do you connect thet dots to libertarians on this one…. You lost me.

NPOV
NPOV
13 years ago

Yes, insurance premiums will go up – by maybe a few cents per employee. I’d prefer it was spread across the entire nation via single-payer insurance, but the negative effect on those who don’t suffer horrible accidents is neglible compared to the benefit to those tiny fraction who do.

My second point is simply that libertarianism (and a general positive attitude towards capitalism) will never gain mainstream acceptance until capitalists start acting more like regular human beings. However, it seems many (if not most) libertarians seem to feel like it’s there job to defend the actions of any corporation, no matter how damaging or heartless they might be.

Jc
Jc
13 years ago

However, it seems many (if not most) libertarians seem to feel like its there job to defend the actions of any corporation, no matter how damaging or heartless they might be.

Heartless? So a person ought to be able to claim medical insurance twice if his/her ailment meets your personal horror (preference) test?

I certainly wouldn’t be defending Walmart if it behaved illegally or were sitting behind a regulatory protectionist wall. But it isn’t. Walmart prospers in a contestable market and we should be applaud them. The benefits of providing cheaper consumer goods to americans has been a truly amazing story. They are a great firm.

Yes, insurance premiums will go up – by maybe a few cents per employee. Id prefer it was spread across the entire nation via single-payer insurance, but the negative effect on those who dont suffer horrible accidents is neglible compared to the benefit to those tiny fraction who do.

Well you may think the solution is a state run insurance program, but i would get that past americans first if I were you. I saw a poll which showed 89% of Americans are happy with their medical insurance. And why wouldn’t they be as it is the best medical system in the world.

I repeat this is another example of a Walmrt beat up by the usual suspects.

Jc
Jc
13 years ago

The awarded injuries were around $700,000, Ken. Part of that award should have been for medical expenses or if it wasn’t the woman ought to sue her attorney for negligence in not reading her medical insurance contract and bringing it up before the court as an additional part of the legitimate claim.

See here: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119551952474798582.html?mod=WSJBlog

I went to the WSJ article that first ran the story some time ago.

Let me ask you: You think it’s fine for the lawyers to get their costs out of the award but not Walmart that had to shell out the medical expenses to begin with it?

Jc
Jc
13 years ago

here’s some more money:

The firm (the trucking frim) had only $1 million in liability coverage, though. For his own losses, Mr. Shank received $200,000, of which $119,000 remained after legal expenses. He says he spent most of it toward a one-story house fitted with ramps and wider doors, which is more accessible than the family’s previous three-level home.

So the legal firm took 40% of his proceeds.

So the $700,0000 she received was a separate claim for the poor woman. The husband also received an award obviously for being her carer.

Not saying this is a lot of money under these circumstances, but it’s hardly the amount of money some blogs are suggesting.

NPOV
NPOV
13 years ago

“…a person ought to be able to claim medical insurance twice if his/her ailment meets your personal horror (preference) test?”

A person ought to be able to get the care they need after such an incident. The amount of money they have claimed for can’t possibly be sufficient. That may not be Walmart’s fault, but that is not the point.

And yes, whoever made the decision to sue the family for $4700000 is heartless. It’s pretty damn obvious to anyone with a modicum of common sense that they have every need in the world for $470000, whereas Walmart has 0 need for it.

I wonder, were the other employees of Walmart, for whose sake the cost recovery was allegedly done, even consulted? I would like to see the result of a poll that asked every employee of Walmart whether to choose between a few cents extra out of their paycheque and the Shank family being asked to cough up $470000.

As for 89% of Americans being happy with their healthcare, even if such a stat had anything to it (and I do wonder how it can be, when precisely 100% of everyone in the office I was working in over there for the last 4 weeks had nothing but gripes about dealing with health insurance) it doesn’t change the fact that a) America’s health system is absurdly expensive and b) those who have the most problems with it (and the least access to it) are those that need it the most, rarely through any fault of their own.

Jc
Jc
13 years ago

NPOV

No, no, you’re right, RA.

Thanks. I’m rarely ever wrong and thanks for recognizing that.

Admittedly, the claim Walmarts is making is not a good look by any stretch of the imagination. Normally I am generally sympathetic to these guys as they have been under siege for years with all the spurious claims about how evil they are.. They could have been a little better at handling this thing. They are well run firm that has offered the American public great savings.

You noticed cut the lawyers took from the deal? 40%! We never knew that until I figured it out from the WSJ piece. The bloggers were too busy trying to hack some walmart flesh to notice. Why a 40% isn’t egregious while Walmarts is needs to be explained to me as I don’t get it.

when precisely 100% of everyone in the office I was working in over there for the last 4 weeks had nothing but gripes about dealing with health insurance)

Who knows? 4 weeks is hardly a reasonable time to figure out the US healthcare system. I lived 16 years and found it truly excellent…. but there is a lot of paper shuffling.

Jc
Jc
13 years ago

No, no, youre right, RA.

Thanks. Im rarely ever wrong and thanks for recognizing that.

Ignore that part…. sorry

Tim Lambert
13 years ago

Wal-Mart has dropped the lawsuit against the brain-damaged former employee. And:

The case put a spotlight on the growing use of reimbursement claims by health plans, experts say. Roger Baron, professor of law at the University of South Dakota and a specialist in health-plan law, said health plans have become “very aggressive” about subrogation since the 2006 Supreme Court decision.

“It’s free money. They want the free money,” Mr. Baron said.

Lynn Dudley, vice president for policy at the American Benefits Council in Washington, D.C., said the negative publicity around the case was beginning to draw the attention of lawmakers who might want legislation to stop or limit subrogation.

Patrick
Patrick
13 years ago

If TimL’s quoted paragraph has anything to do with Walmart, then it wasn’t Walmart but the health company as JC originally postulated, and under most subrogation clauses Walmart would have been quite powerless to do anything.

Indeed if I understand the reports correctly, this case has actually caused Walmart to force its insurance companies to revise the contracts:

Wal-Mart’s Curran said the retailer was required by the rules of its plan to seek reimbursement from the Shank’s settlement. But she said the case has made Wal-Mart revise those rules to allow for flexibility in individual cases.

One might file this under ‘an ideal world might be different’ but it does look to me like one could much more easily file it under ‘this is another beat up on Walmarts by the usual suspects‘ than ‘US supermarket giant Walmart are a bunch of complete arseholes‘.

Jc
Jc
13 years ago

Tim,

Thanks for the link. Aside from the Walmart case……….

Its free money. They want the free money, Mr. Baron said.

Do you insure your house multiple times? Do you expect to be paid multiple times.

Perhaps you could email Professor Baron and ask him.

Jc
Jc
13 years ago

Excellent responses, Ken.

My comment about the lawyers wasn’t meant to be a red herring as I was kind of shocked everyone was beating up on the firm while legals were getting a clear pass for charging some pretty high fees for what seemed to have been a pretty easy case to deal with.

There’s some serious pressure on the cost side of the US healthcare system at the moment and everyone seems to be fumbling around trying to figure how to kill some of these costs (no not the patients).

This is simply staggering:

Premiums for family coverage have surged by 78 percent since 2001, while wages have gone up 19 percent

http://rawstory.com/news/afp/US_health_insurance_costs_rise_near_09122007.html

Patrick
Patrick
13 years ago

I agree that that would appear to make subrogation impossible in this case in Australia, albeit query whether there must be a connection between the employment and the action. Also that appears to not be framed with personal insurance in mind.

That is a very strict Act by international standards, as far as I am aware, though. Part of the matrix of reasons why there isn’t an Australian reinsurance industry to speak of.

Fyodor
13 years ago

That is a very strict Act by international standards, as far as I am aware, though. Part of the matrix of reasons why there isnt an Australian reinsurance industry to speak of.

I don’t follow your argument, Patrick. How would limited right of subrogation affect the the reinsurance industry?

trackback

Air Travel Accident Insurance…

I was searching for ‘%KEYWORD%’ at google and got this your post (‘%TITLE%’) in search results. Not very relevant result, but still interesting to read :)…