Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What is wrong with a Dutchman with bad hair?

You've got to love Pim Verbeek. Our fearless international coach who has us playing results-oriented football to the bane and pleasure of Australian football fans. On the one hand, our team is playing possibly the worst football of all time but we're getting the results to travel the road to South Africa.

Better yet, he's always been a straight-talker (which journos love) and some of the comments he's been making about the A-League have been raising some eyebrows.

In the past, he's slammed the competition for being akin to a German second division training run, called our players tactically inept and just generally lambasted the quality of football on show in our premier competition, and he's absolutely right.

Let's look objectively at the A-League for a moment shall we? Now, I've had the unfortunate fortune to be a denizen of Perth during the competition's reign, so perhaps I'm not in the best position to be talking about the league's overall quality.

What I will say however, is that the NSL was the more exciting competition and produced the best players. Those who have seen Con Boutsianis curl one in for fun can attest to that, those who have seen Adnre Gumprecht in his hayday will agree and those who have witnessed the magician in Ergic will back me up on this one.

What we have in the A-League is cookie-cutter monotony for the most part, producing the same types of players and not allowing any sort of prodigious talent to shine through. We had Nicky Carle for a while but when he trapsed off to Crystal Palace (snrk!), and thus ended the line of Australian number 10s.

Now, back to Verbeek. He says there's nothing special about the A-League, and most teams are tactically unaware, unable to play a defensive game. With the exception of Adelaide, this may just be the case.

Most teams in the A-League attack, and whereas it can result in some pretty entertaining football but most of the time it results in error-strewn and turnover ball. If one team chose to play some tight possession play, the opposition would eventually run out of puff like a dog running after its own tail. Yet, in the A-League, both teams seem determined to attack with almost reckless abandon.

So Verbeek is correct in his assertions, but is publicy saying so going to improve things? Are the coaches of the A-League going to take heed and start to become more technically adept?

In all likelihood, no. So bagging the A-League isn't going to help it, but rather create a resentment between Verbeek and A-League players and managers. It's also going to attract bad publicity for a league just getting off the ground and in need of a little TLC.

It all comes but to a fundamental question which can be applied to journalism. Is it worth it being honest when the end result is something completely negative? For example, is it completely worth it in these tough times to take down a massive financial company?

It will mean the collapse of a financial system, the layoff of countless of thousands and super funds in the toilet. Is it still worth it to break the story?

A little journalistic quandry for you to ponder...

Till next time

Saturday, February 14, 2009

What is wrong with a Mandarin-speaking Bulldozer?: Pt 2

Well, pundits were shocked and taken a back a couple of days back when Nick Xenophon decided that a hasitly drafted 42 Billion dollar bill possibly needed a few tweaks before being rolled through both houses.


Okay, so predictably the senators from the greens sided with Labor on this one which left Xenophon with the deciding vote. Since he decided to side with the coalition, the bill was stalled. Why did he stall the bill ladies and gentlemen? Well, to save the Murray-Darling of course.

Now, those of you who aren't from the eastern side of Australia may have a bit of trouble knowing what the Murray-Darling is, so it's basically a huge (well, less huge these days) river that runs from Queensland to South Australia and provides drinking water for a heck of a lot of people, so more investment in saving it was probably a good idea.

To do this, they had to trim 50 dollars off the 950 dollar bonus. Hey, I'll give up 50 dollars I didn't actually have to support the Murray-Darling, no worries. Personally, I like the move and applaud Xenophon for holding out just a little more, but I do have deep reservations about one man having so much power.

It was a demonstration of the power Xenophon could potentially wield in the senate if conditions played out right, and one has to question whether one man having so much power over legislation is beneficial to a constitutional monarchy such as ours, but perhaps that discusion is best held for another time.

The other big talking point out of this is the coalition's tactics in trying to block the initial bill.

It was always going to be an uphill strigle, and they were always going to take a battering in the press because they were coming up against, and this is very important, free money.

Within days of Turnbull registering his reservations, the great unwashed were too quick to cry out "Turnbul's blocking mah money!" and fair enough too. If someone threatened to take away money of mine, I'd fight for it like a hobo for a piece of meat.

Meanwhile, the press were banying about a quote from the IMF regarding the recession basically amounting to 'when in doubt, always spend too much than too little regarding this recesion' which is an absolutely true statement.

Various coalition figureheads went on TV and radio to try and find the flaw in this statement, saying it was irresponsible to land the future generations of Australians with a massive debt. The Rudd plan would accure 200 billion in debt, the Turnbull plan would accure 180 billion in debt, but more on that another time.

Now, in my first post I said the coalition was doing the right thing in trying to hold up the bill, and I stand by this assertion. However, the coalition played this so wrong it's not even funny.

When presented with the IMF quote, they danced around the point so comically it was akin to children dancing around a maypole. Instead, what they should have done is say "Yes, that statement is absolutely true. What we're trying to do is remove the doubt from the equation by putting it under a magnifying glass".

That probably would have worked. Instead, they chose to lambast the Labor government for irresponsible spending (which may or may not be true). So when presented with the oportunity to bash to incumbents, the coalition went for the jugular.

Somebody should tell the Liberal party that the days of old political tricks are over and it's going to take more than bashing your opposition to land a punch these days. It takes logic and bashing to win over constituents.

'Till next time

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

What is wrong with a Mandarin-speaking bulldozer?

Well, the proverbial cashed-up cat is out of the bag ladies and gentlemen, and the almighty Rudd has announced intentions to pass a 42 Billion dollar stimulus package to help, dare I say it, "ease the squeeze.....on working families".

So, what's included in the fancy stimulus package? Well, for starters just about everybody and their dog will be getting a 950 dollar one-off cash bonus for doing absolutely nothing. Now, the question of lump sum bonuses to help stimulate spending is not as straight forward as it may seem.

In these times of economic doom and gloom, where the crisis lives where the communists used to reside, will Australians use the unique oppurtunity for splurging that has been afforded by this stimulus package. Well, the jury's still out on that one.

There's been no real indication that the last cash-bonus paid out in December had any positive impact on the economic slump, even though Christmas retail figures were better than expected. Lots of people were keeping that money for a rainy day, and there's little indication from the public at this stage as to whether retailers should be licking their lips.

I personally think the average Australian can see why we're in this position right now, irresponsible spending. Even though going out and blowing the lot on...jellybeans would have no tangible effect on the hip-pocket, people will choose to squirrel their money away in anticipation of the hard times ahead. So will chucking money at people and telling them to spend neccesarily work? I'll leave that one up to you.

Small businesses will also belooking toward Canberra with hungry eyes as they're getting a whole bunch of money to see them through, and rebates if they buy a computer exceeding 2000 dollars.

There's also a heck of a lot of investment in schools, with every school in Australia getting 200,000 dollars for improvements such as sciencelabs and the likes. I don't particularly think that's going to stimulate the economy in the short-term, but I'm all for it anyway. Any investment money the schools can grab is okay in my books, as the education of the next generation of Australians is going to be vitally important.

After all, who would you rather be looking after you in your old age? A well-reasoned young person or Corey Delaney?

The other big area the stimulus package, an 890 million dollar area, is the investment in infrastructure and works. Now, this is an old trick from the guys in Canberra. Invest in infrastructure , and not only do you get a whole bunch of shiny new roads and ports but you're able to create jobs within the sector to build all of these roads.

But here's the thing I'm concerned about. Does anybody recall a time when we had a shortage of skilled workers?

Now, I can't caim to know about the level of expertise needed to build a road or aport but I'm pretty sure it's going to take at least some skilled workers to pull off this program. Where are they going to come from?

Worst case scenario the workers come from overseas, hearing that Australia has opportunities. Now, I'm not against foreign workers in the slightest but when they start to send the money paid to them back home, the money which was meant to stay in the country dissapears and goes toward helping another economy.

By far the most interesting thing about this bill from a political sense is the Government's tactics with it. Now, instead of giving the opposition and independants in the Senate a good long look at the details of the package, the Government is hoping to ship this thing through today.

That's right, screw applying the magnifying glass to the thing, through you go!

Overall, Rudd is beginning to seem like an eager salesman really reaching for that sale. When the opposition inevitably opposes being put over a barrel at short notice, the almighty Rudd will start to profess sentiments of bipartisanship and extol the cirtues of passing this thing quickly.

After all, he should know. On his holiday he was busy writing a 7000-word article for The Monthly on the subject of the economic crisis.

More on this story as it develops.