Monday, January 27, 2014

Straya Day: old man yells at cloud

This week there was an Australia Day speech by the former Member for Cairns, Queensland Treasurer, and now corporate director Keith DeLacy. This speech was described by a particular community leader as "brilliant". All I saw was a collection of the kind of clichés and platitudes which should probably be expected, but then devolved into an old man yelling at clouds.

Yes, we all do actually already know how fortunate we are Keith, but thanks for the reminder. Not enough for Keith though, who managed to imitate Monty Python in his own biographical anecdote and also dredge up some misguided comment three years ago from some inner city progressive media columnist as evidence of some imagined culture which has emerged to overwhelm our great society.

Now entitlements is something Keith should know about given his corporate directorships have most prominently related to water and mineral rights. But no, he was really using this opportunity as a faucet to tap his inner Gina! It was the cloud of other peoples entitlements, albeit unspecified. Although I don't think there was much doubt who these entitlement bludgers were that he was talking about? Blessed though are the rent-seekers or something?

Anyway, as Keith tells it some have sought to take this country down a seditious sewer ever since Donald Horne wrote The Lucky Country in 1964. Inner city progressives, intelligentsia and academics are mostly to blame.

However a particular comment by DeLacy noted among our great achievements:
"Australia, with less than one third of one percent of the world population, has produced 13 Nobel prize winners."
I'm not sure what the point is of comparing Australian performance on Nobel Prizes with subsistence villagers in Sub-Saharan Africa? So lets look at where Australia stands in terms of Nobel laureates per 10 million of population.

Oh the embarrassment of being beaten by New Zealand. Note that at the bottom of the scale are the most populous nations of India and China where an overwhelming majority have lived in uneducated poverty for much of the period of Nobel history.
These numbers are actually science Nobels listed at Wikipedia and sourced from the BBC so it doesn't include such as peace prizes. It also excludes Patrick White in literature but he was one of those seditious inner city progressive types anyway. Australia is listed at number 21 in science Nobels on this scale relative to population and falls to 26 if all are included. 
So who should we really compare ourselves with? Lets take just those advanced countries which have scored a total more than 10 science related Nobels. This excludes New Zealand. As always the best way to solve a Kiwi issue is to just leave it off the map. Lets then compare this exclusive group with GDP per capita (2012 at PPP):
Straya is the green and gold square. It would apparently seem to come as a surprise to some captains of industry that our national performance on this or any appropriate Nobel scale is actually comparatively poor. I wonder if Donald Horne said anything about that?
When it comes to this, and also the perceived entitlements cloud, an opinion comment at Business Spectator this week I thought was apt:

"Raw numbers are always found at the heart of propaganda."
Note: The claim that Australia is less that one third of one percent of global population is actually wrong anyway. It is about that number but greater. Why quibble with rhetorical misrepresentation?

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