Episode 185 – Gillette, Gender, Race and Class

It’s the class war, Stupid!

Left-wing commentators miss the point. They are willing to talk endlessly about gender wars and racial privilege while ignoring the plight of the working class.

1:46 Our pre-match pep talk for Waz.

The best a man can be

Who better to critique #MeToo than 4 white men like us.

That Gillette ad. Good, bad or meh?

6:46 Does Miranda Devine have a point?

Jane Caro:

In the wake of the controversial (but, I think, excellent) Gillette ad, it has become clear that many people have no idea what toxic masculinity means. Too many of us, including some who make a living from using words, seem to think the phrase implies that masculinity, in and of itself, is toxic. However, it only takes a reasonable understanding of the English language to realise that is a silly assumption. As someone cleverer than me on Twitter pointed out yesterday, we all know that there are toxic plants (oleander, deadly nightshade etc) but we don’t assume therefore that all plants are toxic.

She sort of describes Toxic Masculinity as when the stereotype of what it is to be an acceptable male is taken to extremes.

… Feminists like me are not man-haters. Most of us—if not all of us—love our fathers, sons, brothers, male colleagues, friends and partners. What we hate is the damage we see toxic masculinity (not masculinity per se, just the toxic, rigid, performative kind) do to many men ….

Hmmm, so not all masculinity is toxic, just exaggerated versions of the stereotype. Maybe that is so far from true “masculinity” that it should be called something else like being a boofhead or a dickhead. Sure, oleander is toxic and part of the plant family and is therefore a toxic plant but dickhead behaviour is not part of true masculinity so “toxic masculinity” ties together two things which are quite separate.

Again from Jane Caro:

Regarding toxic feminity she acknowledges exists:

The most damaging example I can think of, however, is the very rare … Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy. This is a mental illness where mothers so enjoy their role as hero-nurturer they actually poison their own children to keep them perpetually and mysteriously sick. Literally toxic, in other words.

Here’s the point. When referring to Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy we don’t say “Toxic Motherhood” because it is so far removed from true motherhood.

What does toxic mean?

poisonous, venomous, virulent, noxious, dangerous, destructive, harmful, unsafe, malignant, injurious, pestilential, pernicious, environmentally unfriendly

Brittany Spears didn’t think toxic was a problem.

The Fist blames Jordan Peterson. Just joking … well kind of…

20:45 But wait, we are not done with this ad. Was their racial prejudice?

33:07 Are wolf whistles just examples of instinctive mating behaviour?

37:32 The male Gay scene welcomes wolf whistles.

42:17 ‘I don’t want to celebrate it’: Today newcomer Brooke Boney reignites Australia Day debate

Today newcomer Brooke Boney has reignited debate over Australia Day, following a viral segment on the breakfast show where she addressed her own reasons for not wanting to celebrate the date.

“I’m a Gamilaroi woman, my family is from northern NSW, been there for about 60,000 years or so,” Boney, commercial breakfast TV’s first Indigenous star, told viewers.

“This date, I know it comes up every year and I’m not trying to tell everyone else what they should be doing or how they should be celebrating, but I think I have almost more reason than anyone else to love this country,” she said, citing her new high-profile job on the Nine show.

“But I can’t separate the 26th of January from the fact that my brothers are more likely to go to jail than they are to go to school. Or that my little sisters and my mum are more likely to be beaten and raped than anyone else’s sisters or mum,” she said

“And that started from that day. So for me, that’s a difficult day and I don’t want to celebrate it… That’s the day it changed for us. That’s the beginning of what some people would say is the end. That’s the turning point.”

Nine’s new sports presenter Tony Jones countered Boney’s suggestion.

“This is where I get not angry about it but upset about it in a lot of ways, is that why should it be an us-versus-them,” Jones said, when the panel’s discussion turned to the “third-world” living conditions among remote Aboriginal communities.

“We do see white Australians in similar situations, you know, kids going to school without lunch, or without a school uniform,” he offered.

“TJ, you know what, the statistics tell us that our lives are harder,” Boney shot back.

“It’s not me making it up or saying woe is me or feel sorry for me, because I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me, but what I’m talking to are the statistics… For it not to be an us-and-them thing, I think that’s why we’re talking about [the date] changing.”

48:26 Let’s just scrap Australia Day

49:05 And get rid of Public Holidays?

54:36 Thanks to the Patrons

We had some nice messages and links to articles from Bronwyn and Lorrae

Aedan has come on board as a patron. He joins Robbie, Harry and Liam who are friends of my sons.

57:56 Problems with a Sydney Highrise

Building certifiers are an example of improper government outsourcing.

1:01:58 Jeff Kennett

The former Victorian Liberal premier speculates that Julie Bishop (62) and Kevin Andrews (63) should follow Kelly O’Dwyer in resigning from federal politics, while reserving judgement on up-and-comer Tony Abbott (61).

Julie didn’t want to serve in the ministry. Kevin’s had his opportunity and been on the backbench for a period of time. They… stand out clearly as perhaps giving others an opportunity. I’m at sixes and sevens about Tony Abbott. He’s still young enough to make a serious contribution in the parliament and a ­serious contribution outside.

What parallel universe is he living in? Give up on the Libs.

1:04:20 Woolworths becomes first supermarket to make own-brand halal food due to growing Muslim population

Woolworths will become the first supermarket to make and sell its own brand of halal food due to Australia’s growing Muslim population.

The range will be called Al-Sadiq, which means truthful in Arabic, and will start selling in May or June.

It will appear in 20 stores in communities with high Muslim populations such as Bankstown, western Sydney where one-third of people are halal eaters.

1:11:05 The US Federal shutdown.

Our predictions as to when and how it will end.

Never play chicken with a psychopath or the village idiot.

And Brexit will be a hard exit.

1:17:29 Inequality

Waz is not convinced it is a big problem.

Inequality matters. Countries with higher levels of inequality have lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, more homicides, more teenage births, less trust, more obesity, more mental illness and drug abuse, and less social mobility. Even if you are one of the wealthier people in society, you have a lower life expectancy than wealthy people in societies that are more egalitarian.

 

“The question will arise and arise in your day, though perhaps not fully in mine: Which shall rule — wealth or man? Which shall lead — money or intellect? Who shall fill public stations — educated and patriotic freemen or the feudal serfs of corporate capital?”
― Edward G. Ryan (1873)

When people worry about inequality today, they generally worry that it inhibits economic growth, prevents social mobility, impairs democracy, or runs afoul of some standard of fairness.

I was going to say:

Inequality would not be such a problem if the lowest level was comfortable. The problem is the lowest level is poverty. And the middle class is disappearing and shifting down into the lower class.

But …

Adam Smith on the problem of inequality

None of these problems, however, were Smith’s chief concern—(which was) that economic inequality distorts people’s sympathies, leading them to admire and emulate the very rich and to neglect and even scorn the poor. Smith used the term “sympathy” akin to the contemporary use of the word “empathy.” And he claimed that, due to a quirk of human nature, people generally find it easier to sympathize with joy than with sorrow, or at least with what they perceive to be joy and sorrow.

Not only are people far more likely to notice the rich than the poor, according to Smith, but they are also far more likely to approve of them, to admire them, and to emulate them; indeed, he devoted an entire chapter of The Theory of Moral Sentiments to demonstrating that this is the case.

What’s more, Smith saw this distortion of people’s sympathies as having profound consequences: It undermines both morality and happiness. First, morality. Smith saw the widespread admiration of the rich as morally problematic because he did not believe that the rich in fact tend to be terribly admirable people. On the contrary, he portrayed the “superior stations” of society as suffused with “vice and folly,” “presumption and vanity,” “flattery and falsehood,” “proud ambition and ostentatious avidity.” In Smith’s view, the reason why the rich generally do not behave admirably is, ironically, that they are widely admired anyway (on account of their wealth). In other words, the rich are not somehow innately vicious people. Rather, their affluence puts them in a position in which they do not have to behave morally in order to earn the esteem of others, most of whom are dazzled and enchanted by their riches.

Thus, it is precisely the presence of economic inequality, and the distortion of people’s sympathies that attends it, that allows—perhaps even encourages—the rich to spurn the most basic standards of moral conduct. Smith goes so far as to proclaim that the “disposition to admire, and almost to worship, the rich and the powerful, and to despise, or, at least, to neglect persons of poor and mean condition” is “the great and most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments.”

Smith also believed that the tendency to sympathize with the rich more easily than the poor makes people less happy. Happiness consists largely of tranquility, and there is little tranquility to be found in a life of toiling and striving to keep up with the Joneses.

The Fist worries a lot about the power of money to corrupt democracy

Money is power. Extremely wealthy people can and do influence politicians (by donations and jobs) and our democracy through controlling the media both traditional (Murdoch) and online (bots) to get laws that allow them to maintain or increase power at the expense of the poor. For example, we offer discounts for income from capital that are not available for income from personal labour. Or, Australia and the USA pass corporate tax cuts that are clearly not in the interests of the country. This results in undeserved benefits for the 1%. Not only is it undeserved but it sets up dangerous dysfunctional power imbalances that lead to dysfunctional societies.

In Australia

Utilitarian vs Philosophical libertarianism

The philosophical Libertarian says taxation is theft
The utilitarian Libertarian says societies function better if there is unfettered freedom.
Regarding the philosophical argument:
Super wealth is only possible because it is built on the infrastructure that civilised society has provided. If Jeff Bezos was born 50 years ago he could not have created his super wealth. As he uses society’s infrastructure more than the average Joe, he should pay more taxes or go live on Libertarian Island.
Regarding the utilitarian argument:
Compare the USA with any other OECD country. The USA is the laboratory experiment and it is a mess.
Trickle down economics is a myth.
High taxes help economic growth.
2 Solutions for dealing with inequality
First – higher taxes on the rich and use the extra money to help the poor
Second – Break up and do not allow monopolies or oligopolies
Solution 1 – Higher Taxes

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Perhaps Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s most talked-about idea, raised on “60 Minutes,” has been that people she called “the tippy tops” — those earning above $10 million — should pay a 70 percent rate on income above that threshold. The remark set off days of debate among economists and pundits, on the right and the left, about tax rates unseen in America in decades but common during the post-World War II era.

“I’ve been trying to open up this rhetorical space for many, many years,” said Stephanie Kelton, a former chief economist for Democrats on the Senate Budget Committee.

“They used to talk about the Oprah effect,” said Ms. Kelton, now a professor at Stony Brook University. “I think it’s the Ocasio effect at this point.”

AOC mentioned 70%. What is the Australian experience?

Solution 2 – Breakup Monopolies and Oligopolies
Unfettered capitalism is the problem ‘Capitalism without competition is not capitalism.’

Adam Smith’s greatest statement regarding the need for government regulation of capitalism occurs at the end of Book One of the Wealth of Nations.

The interest of the dealers [referring to stock owners, manufacturers, and merchants], however, in any particular branch of trade or manufacture, is always in some respects different from, and even opposite to, that of the public.  To widen the market and to narrow the competition, is always the interest of the dealers.  To widen the market may frequently be agreeable enough to the interest of the public; but to narrow the competition must always be against it, and can serve only to enable the dealers, by raising their profits above what they naturally would be, to levy, for their own benefit, and absurd tax upon the rest of their fellow-citizens. (Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations (Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books, 1991), pages 219-220)

Smith here stated that the economic “interests” of businessmen are naturally opposed to the public interest.  This is because the natural goal of any businessman is to acquire, by any means necessary, a monopoly over the entire industry or trade that he is involved in.  The obvious result of such a monopoly would be the destruction of all competitors, which inevitably hurts the public by reducing choice, efficiency, and progress while raising prices to whatever levels the monopolist deems necessary to achieve his desired profit.  Though Smith warned against such an “absurd tax,” Americans today have been convinced that government de-regulation is necessary to rid the economic world of a burdensome bureaucracy.  The public’s need for media, health care, and military defense is clear; but it is also clear that rampant government de-regulation in each of these areas has permitted monopolies in forming and taking control of their markets.  The “absurd tax” has become a reality.

Australian examples of market concentration

Beer

Even Australia’s beloved beer industry is thirsty for a bit more competition. Next time a someone starts extolling the virtues of craft brewing while sipping on a White Rabbit, Little Creatures, Kosciusko, Knappstein, Furphy or Matilda Bay, remind them that they’re drinking one of the many faux craft beers on offer that are owned by one of the big brewers. The only thing that’s crafty about these beers is the marketing.

Australian beer is one of our most concentrated industries. The four biggest firms control a whopping 90% of the market. Mega mergers in the pipeline will likely make things even worse. Over the past decade, the cost of a beer has gone up 42%

Banking

Or take banking, where the big four have increased their share of market assets from 65% to 77% over the past decade. In a competitive environment, we would expect to see profits squeezed down by intense competition. But over the past decade, Australia’s major banks have enjoyed an annual return on equity around 15%, making them among the most profitable financial institutions in the world. Over the same period, banks in Europe, Japan and the US have seen returns on equity below 10%.

So

Please, when you hear Scott Morrison on TV or a work colleague around the watercooler or Uncle Right Wing around the Christmas dinner table bang on about the need for lower taxes and smaller government and the libertarian need to cut red tape stop them and argue some of the ideas outlined above.

 

Posted in Podcasts

8 comments on “Episode 185 – Gillette, Gender, Race and Class
  1. Warren Foster says:

    An old joke from the Soviet Union

    Igor and Boris are dirt-poor peasants, barely scratching enough crops from their small plots of land to feed their families. The only difference between them is that Boris owns a scrawny goat. One day a fairy appears to Igor and grants him a wish. Igor says, “I wish that Boris’s goat should die.”

  2. Warren Foster says:

    Jeff Richman
    Net Wealth = $4,000,000,000
    FY2018 Income = $15,000
    Tax Paid = $0

    Bob Poorman
    Net Wealth = $4,000
    FY2018 Income = $240,000
    Tax Paid = $81,097

    Impact on Wealth Inequality = Negligible

  3. Bronwyn Benn says:

    Hi guys,

    You asked for comments from women – so here are some comments from one woman on a couple of issues raised in this episode. I can’t of course claim that my views are representative of those of women in general.

    The Gillette Ad
    I think I must be the only person in the world who thinks that this is not a particularly good ad. It’s overlong, and takes quite a while to make a basic point, which is that children learn from example, and for that reason it’s important for men to be good role models for boys. (PS. It’s also important for women to be good role models for boys, as well as for girls.) Anyway, I don’t think this is a particularly useful contribution for advertisers to make to the #MeToo debate – particularly when they have spent decades demeaning and trivialising wonen in their advertising. I don’t consider advertisers and marketers to be particularly ethical people, so I agree with Woz that we can do without their sermonising.

    Toxic Masculinity vs. Toxic Femininity
    I think Jane Caro is on the money with her definition of toxic masculinity, but way off beam on toxic femininity. Munchausen by proxy isn’t merely toxic behaviour, it’s a recognised (and very serious) mental illness. In my experience, a woman who practises toxic feminine behaviour is characterised by a hatred of other women, combined with intensive competitiveness, and consequently a strong motivation to put other women down and raise herself in the process, in the eyes of men (that last bit is probably the most important part). There are plenty of examples in public life, but I’ve certainly come across women like this in my career, including a few who quite consciously and deliberately set out to destroy the careers of other women. Madeline Albright was talking about toxic femininity when she said that ‘there is a special place in hell for women who won’t help other women’.

    ‘Normal Mating Behaviour’
    Oh really, 12th Man? Good grief. Why can’t a woman walk down the street or just go about her daily business without being accosted by unknown men? Just because silverback gorillas might do similar things doesn’t make it ok for human males, who are supposed to be more sophisticated and in better control of themselves (although you wouldn’t know it when looking at the behaviour of some men). It doesn’t matter if it happens in a public place with other people around or not, being approached by random strangers in a sexual manner will provoke some level of fear in the vast majority of women. I really don’t understand why so many men seem to struggle with this concept. The point here is that women have been putting up with bad behaviour from men for ages, and now we’ve reached the saturation point, where we’ve had enough and are not prepared to accept any more of it. This is essentially what’s behind #MeToo.

    And as for the various comments you made about Indigenous people and issues…hmmmm. I can’t wait to see what you make of Dark Emu. 🙂

    I must thank you though for your excellent analysis of the economic inequality issue. Very thought provoking and very strongly supported by relevant evidence. You are actually a lot more left wing on economics than you might think!

    Best wishes as always,

    Bronwyn

    • Brett Jones says:

      Bronwyn. Love this reply!!! I do agree with the 12th man a little on the need for men to be able to express their mating behaviour, but we do need to refine it a lot. What is acceptable in the night club (“hey baby, you’re hot”) isn’t acceptable in the street.

    • Warren Foster says:

      Hey Bronwyn,
      I enjoyed reading your comments.
      Can you clarity, with respect to men ‘accosting’ women, are you saying it’s not OK for a man to approach any woman he might be attracted to in public or private in an attempt to woo her?
      Despite my knowledge that some women welcome these types of advances, as a single man, I’ve consciously made the decision to ‘fish’ rather than ‘hunt’. I worry that this decision has a negative impact on the majority of women for the purpose of not offending a sensitive minority.

      • Bronwyn Benn says:

        Hi Warren,

        My comment on men approaching women was focussed on women being approached in the street, or other settings where a woman might feel threatened by this type of behaviour. I wasn’t meaning to suggest that a man shouldn’t approach a woman in a setting where people go to meet others, such as a pub or nightclub. (That said, in the latter settings, some blokes could perhaps work on their technique, which can sometimes be a bit clumsy!)

        Thanks for your response, I think this is a conversation worth having.

        Best wishes,

        Bronwyn

  4. Brett Jones says:

    With the Gillette ad and the debate about sweetie, I think the problem is not with the word “sweetie “, rather the word “smile”. I have seen in many articles the dislike women have of being told to “smile, you will look prettier” especially when some man is being a jerk. I think that’s the point, but I could be wrong.

    The other thing is it would be difficult for the ad to show true toxic masculinity. The level of violence and intimidation in that field is way over G rating. For example, showing a rich man “grabbing them by the pussy” would not get past the censors. So they watered it down and lost potential effect.

    Great debate though

  5. I love listening to you guys whilst driving through Wales. You take me away from all the Brexit bullshit over here.

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