Musings of a morbid mind

The general ravings of Scott Baldwin

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Everybody Hates Latham

A friend of mine has started work on a blog that combines 2 of his great loves..... politics and comedy. With the ALP in disarray, and the Liberals swooping around the rotting carcass of the Democrats, there's really nobody to keep the bastards honest anymore. As the Latham diaries take there rightful place in history along side the memoires of..... Pauline Hanson, there's really only one place to turn for all the truth behind the political wrangling, and to understand why "Everybody Hates Latham".

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Pointless Rant against the full sale of Telstra

As Telstras last few remaining shares are sold off at the hands of a party that really should be there to protect rural Australia from the whims of narrow minded economic rationalism, I'd like to take this opportunity (not so much as a eulogy, however apt the metaphor, more as an exercise in futility) to express a few of my (increasingly pointless) objections.

The free market, according to the economists, is meant to maximize profit. Ignoring the fact that there are no guarantees about how that profit will be distributed, there are a number of axioms that underpins this assumption. One of those axioms is that there are no externalities, or at least if there are, they are compensated. This is quite a big assumption even for some of the simplest economic transactions, but when we come to communications, this axiom doesn't even begin to stand up.

There are numerous externalities most of which are so intangible they can't even begin to be compensated. One of the externalities that most concerns me is that communications is such a valuable resource resource not only to building communities, but also to business in general. The governments 2 billion dollar trust fund is to get current services to the bush, however, being a technology professional, I know how quickly communications technologies change. Telstra are even struggling to get adequate mobile coverage to rural areas, let alone other technologies such as broard band internet. The communications technologies of tomorrow is what will drive business, and without the power to regulate the egalitarian dispersion of these technologies, certain sectors of the community that, those that a privatized company can't see immediate profits to pass on to their share holders. This I believe has the potential to seriously impact on Australia as a whole.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Tram ticketing incident

A colleague of mine has had a bit of a run in with a ticket inspector today, or at least her Chinese speaking mother has. My colleague’s mother boarded a tram today to go from surrey hills to box hill. She validated her ticket and then a few stops later the ticket inspector got on and asked to see her ticket. She showed her the validated zone 1 ticket, and was told that this was not a valid ticket as they were now in zone 2. The stop she boarded the tram at was in the crossover where both zone 1 and zone 2 tickets are valid. Of course, my colleague’s mother did not understand any of this as she doesn’t speak English, so to make sense of this gibberish the ticket inspector was carrying on with, she had to call her daughter at work and ask her to translate. My colleague was surprised to learn that her mother was about to be fined for fare evasion. OK, so she didn’t have the correct ticket, however, a zone 1 2 hour ticket is actually more expensive than a zone 2 2 hour ticket, but that wasn’t good enough, she is still a fare evader because she didn’t buy the right ticket. Isn’t this just the most obvious example of why we need to bring back the conductors. OK, there’s probably not a lot that a conductor could have done about the language barrier, but I’m sure if she could show the conductor the address of the box hill hospital (where she was going), a conductor would have known the right ticket, and not only would she not have been fined, but she would also have purchased a cheaper ticket.
I am all for catching genuine fare evaders, I really think that people should pay their way, but I have to confess that situations like these highlight gross deficiencies in the attitude taken by metlink. It also brings into question any statistics they might provide on fare evasion, and certainly makes a joke of their claim that one of the problems running a public transport system is that Melbourne has a "culture of fare evasion".