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John Passant

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January 2011



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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)

I am not surprised
I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



The Australian attacks me

Here is a letter I sent to The Australian for its attack on me in Cut and Paste.  (Old Marxists never die; they write opinion articles for the Australian Financial Review).


My thanks to Cut and Paste for the free advertising about my blog site En Passant and my rent tax analysis in Wednesday’s Australian Financial Review. (‘Old Marxists never die, they write opinion articles for the Australian Financial Review’ Thursday 13 January.)

Your childish attack raises interesting questions about the breadth of ideas The Australian allows in its hallowed pages. Your paper produces mainly but not always mediocre opinion pieces by second rate thinkers with heavy neoliberal credentials. As Sarah Palin shows, the right is long on abuse and short on analysis. The Australian follows in this tradition.

Sometimes we Marxists have something to say that bourgeois newspapers think valuable. That might explain The Australian’s decision to publish two Marxists just a few months ago analysing the degeneration of the Labor Party. Maybe old Marxists never die, they just write very occasional opinion articles for the Australian too?

Could I suggest to readers of The Australian that if they want to understand an important part of the thinking of the Henry Tax Review about the future of tax reform they read my article ‘Economic rent ripe for tax’ in the Australian Financial Review. It’s the sort of analysis which is sadly these days missing from The Australian, hellbent as the newspaper is on pushing one view of the world and one view only. 

Leftists might find my blog worth a visit too. For example it covers the unfolding revolution in Tunisia which in my view has the potential to change the face of the Middle East and North Africa, a possible world shattering event that I note The Australian has yet to cover in any detail.



Comment from Walter
Time January 13, 2011 at 10:24 am

I think you and your readers might find this very interesting.

Comment from Dave
Time January 13, 2011 at 12:06 pm

I don’t find that very interesting at all Walter. If the IDF (the Israeli Death Force) targets militants in a built-up urban environment then innocent civilians will die. Its not necessary for the IDF to target civilians specifically. Furthermore, the claims of collateral damage no longer wash. If you had a hoon who continually went out on the road to street race and every time they did innocent drivers died, would you allow them to continue hooning?

Comment from Shane H
Time January 13, 2011 at 12:42 pm

So the IDF invades Gaza (in self defence of course) and kills 700 combatants and 300 civilians – and this proves that the left is wrong about Israel? Must have missed something there.

Comment from Shane H
Time January 13, 2011 at 12:45 pm

Its a pretty poor ‘attack’ really since it doesn’t address the substance of the issue. I wonder if something about the fact that the coal is owned by the ‘Commonwealth’ ie the people of Australia so we have the right to benefit from the use of our commons might have been a useful idea. Do you read much on the commons?

Am keen to get into more of this rent stuff especially David Harvey’s ‘Companion’ though I have just started his new one
‘Enigma of Capital’ there’s a few good vids on line of him speaking about it.

Comment from Ross
Time January 13, 2011 at 1:13 pm

Walter,how many Palistinians have died due to poor nutrition,lack of medicine, water , shelter and proper hygiene facilities?

The only reason why the Murdoch press is attacking you is that they know you are having an impact John. They are shameless war mongerers who refuse to publish anything approaching the truth.

Comment from Magpie
Time January 13, 2011 at 1:43 pm

Well, John, you are becoming a kind of a bete noire of right-wing Murdoch “writers”.

So far the thing is rather amusing: now you are immortal, a few days ago you were a juvenile…

With any luck, any day they’ll call you ruggedly handsome and sexy… Oh, wait! That’s what I want them to call me!

Comment from John
Time January 13, 2011 at 1:48 pm

Shane, I read Harvey’s Limits to Capital where he spends a lot of time going into rent. It is interesting but I think he misses the point. Now that may be becuase I am a little slow but why doesn’t rent arise from monopoly? It is the monopolist expropriating surplus from those who in turn have expropriated it from workers.

One of my comrades is doing his research on rent. He says as part of our discussion:

It’s got the rather unwieldy name of the temporal single system interpretation (TSSI). If you’re interested in the transformation problem stuff, Andrew Kliman’s book ‘Reclaiming Marx’s Capital’ is really good. But the most theoretically satisfactory starting point from the point of view of theorising rents etc. is Alan Freeman’s work. The thing is, nothing I have looked at focuses on the question of rent in detail – Freeman leaves it at the general point that rates of profit don’t necessarily equalise, and hypothesises that innovating capitalists are able to extend their competitive advantage by taking the higher rates of profit they earn and ploughing them back into more innovation.

So the point I’m making is that there is space in the theory to fill in more details about how and why prices diverge from values (above and beyond the effect of unequal organic compositions of capital) but there’s lots more to be done.

Which means I can’t really point you in the direction of anything that bridges the gap between the abstract value theory stuff and the more concrete question of how rents work in practice – beyond the really brief sketch I gave above. That’s part of what I’m going to try and do in my thesis.

But check out Freeman’s article in Historical Materialism if you are interested:

Comment from Walter
Time January 13, 2011 at 1:52 pm

Dave – ahh, the hoon doesn’t first fire rockets into schools, homes and playgrounds and then hides out at the biker HQ, does he?

I believe the point is that it is against the Geneva Convention for combatants to use civilians as ‘shields’ or to ‘hide’ within a civilian population. Hamas claimed hundreds of civilians were killed, now they admit they were actually Hamas operatives and terrorists.

Shane – the other point was about misinformation and myth versus reality. The Hamas official admitting that they lied to the world about casualties etc is meant to provide a more balanced account I thought readers might be interested in.

Comment from John
Time January 13, 2011 at 2:00 pm

That description already fits Magpie. Presumably both of us. Alhtough as I age and my tummy expands, maybe not me anymore…

Comment from Magpie
Time January 13, 2011 at 4:40 pm

Your tummy might be expanding, but I have no belly at all!

What you see are pectorals so highly developed that they now cover my abdomen!

Comment from Calligula
Time January 13, 2011 at 5:51 pm

Two issues.
Dave equating the IDF with hoons in my opinion is sustainable but Walt insinuating that bikers are typically hoons is rather specious and the sort of single minded prejudice everyone accuses me of exhibiting.

Are you trying to horn in on my act Walter?

But I thought the article was mostly about tax and who should pay it?
I understand the supermodel who said something about ‘not waking up unless she was going to earn $10,000 that day’ was interesting.
I can remember dropping into a shop on the way to the bank one day a few years back.
The shopkeeper’s wife was having one of her days and like some correspondents on blogs she accused me of being a useless bugger with no earning power.
“What did you earn today?” she ejaculated.
As it happened I had a piece of paper on me that needed to be lodged at the bank.
I quietly removed it from my pocket and held it before her eyes – saying “And it ain’t even lunchtime yet.”
She turned green, turned and slumped away.
I would be being as specious and prejudicial as Walt if I said that women are mostly avaricious, reactionary and stupid but that day I visited that shop to meet with the proprieter, her husband in the hope of interesting him in being a network stakeholder and provider in some procurement projects I was involved with at that time.
Her posture offended me enough to go elsewhere for the services required so I sloped off to the bank with my cheque from the Queensland Police Service for about $26,000 as a part payment for project delivery.

But here is the problem that the likes of our John might seriously address –
That cheque may have looked good to a meretricious woman but had to be carefully apportioned out to all the network members of our project team.

The tax situation was ‘too complex’ for our country accountant and lead us to become convinced that peasants and upstarts like us are literally ripped off at every turn by a system that hasn’t changed since the days of the Rum Corps.
Ain’t no good just pointing the finger and accusing a bloke of making a packet without reviewing and reforming a system with far too much entrenched tophamper; identifying and officially condoning the true means of generating income in an equitable way.
See – – for my real opinion.

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