Monday, August 3, 2009

Wayne Swan

I actually know who Wayne Swan is.

He's a Parliament guy.

I'm pretty sure he's the Treasurer.

I shall go now and confirm my suspicions.

Actually, first I'm going to check on the cats. I want to make sure Max hasn't peed all over the kitchen....

Well, I didn't find any pee, but I also didn't find Max.

I didn't look too hard though. I figure he's somewhere in there.

As for Swan....let's go see what Lord Wiki has to say.

In the photo that Lord Wiki provides, Wayne Swan looks a bit like my step father-in-law.

He was born 30 June 1954.

Birthday Website Time!

He shares both Tim's numerology number and astrology sign. He's a 1 and a Cancer.

Maybe Tim can become Australia's Treasurer! That would give us a good excuse to move to Australia.

Little Wayne had his birth and childhood in Nambour, Queensland.

I'm looking at Google Maps now....

I keep pressing the minus sign so I can zoom out, and nothing is happening.

Ah! Now I got it.

The place is coastal.

Well, no. I zoomed out too much. It looked coastal. I don't think it's too far from the beach.

It's about twenty minutes away from a coastal-looking place called Maroochydore. It's about forty-five minutes from Noosa Heads.

Lord Wiki says it's part of the Sunshine Coast. I know about the Sunshine Coast because that's where the Irwin zoo is. At one point, we planned to go there. We still might go there one day. I want to go to Queensland.

Nambour is known for the Big Pineapple! I've heard of that. I'm actually not always a big fan of pineapple. I like the stuff when it's fresh. I hate the canned stuff. I don't like it in drinks. Oh, but I do like pineapple upside down cake. I guess it all depends, really.

I don't like pineapple flavored candy. Yuck.

Kevin Rudd grew up in Nambour too. He went to the same school as Swan. I wonder if they knew each other back then.

Lord Wiki says the school they went to was Nambour State High School. I wondered if they'd advertise the fact that the Prime Minister went there.

They do. They mention it right on the front page. They also mention it here.

Later, Wayne Swan went to the University of Queensland. He studied Public Administration. What's that all about? I'm guessing it's a political thing. Yeah. Lord Wiki says it's government stuff.

Before Swan went into politics, he worked as a lecturer at Queensland University of Technology.

In 1978-1980, he worked as an adviser to Bill Hayden who was the leader of the Opposition. Then he was adviser to Mick Young and Kim Beasley.

In the early 1990's, he was State Secretary for the Queensland branch of the Labor Party.

Now I'm getting to the political stuff that confuses me.

I have to read this slowly.

In 1993, he was elected as the member for Lilley. That lasted until 1996. Then a Liberal Minister was voted in. Two years later she was voted out. Wayne Swan was back in. And he still holds that position.

There's some money issues here. Swan donated $1400 to the Australian Democrats Campaign Manager.

What?

Lord Wiki says there was speculation about this. The Federal Police were even brought in, but they didn't pursue the issue.

This happened in 1996. That's the year Swan lost to the Liberal person. Maybe he figured if he didn't win, he'd rather a Democrat win rather than a Liberal.

I don't know.

When he got back into Parliament in 1998, Swan joined the Shadow Ministry. I still love that name. It's so Harry Potter.

In 2004, Swan became Shadow Treasurer.

Mark Latham did the appointing. I wonder if it involved an intimidating handshake.

People were surprised because they expected Julia Gillard to get the job. What happened, according to Lord Wiki, is that Latham was pressured by the right faction of the Labor Party to appoint Swan or a guy named Stephen Smith.

Swan wrote a book. It's called Postcode: The Splintering of a Nation. Is he against postal codes?

Here's a review of the book.

It says, Yet, while parts of this book read like a windy political speech, it would be a disservice to dismiss it as just a vanity project. Cut through the swathe of personal pronouns, and Swan, a former university teacher, has some important things to say about inequality in modern Australia.

The reviewer talks about how it's hard to take political manifestos seriously. Are the politicians being honest, or just trying to move their way up in Parliament?

The postcode thing refers to people living in certain postcodes. He argues that people fail to notice them. They're neglected.

In 2007, both Swan and Rudd returned to that old Nambour High School. Rudd told the students that Swan had been cool. He himself was not cool. I wonder if that's true. Was Swan part of the popular crowd?

In December 2007, Swan became Treasurer of Australia. He was no longer stuck in the shadows.

Swan has his work cut out for him; you know with the economy going to shit all over the world. Yeah. Yeah. I know it's my country's fault.

As for personal stuff....

Swan is married. He has three kids.

He had one other earlier marriage. It lasted only about a year.

Earlier this decade, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He recovered from that, fortunately.

All right. I'm done with Lord Wiki. Where should I go next?

Here's his own little website. He has a photo slideshow of himself: Swan with cute little children, Swan with Family, Swan with beautiful Australian Waters.....

Here's a biography page.

He surfs.

I wonder if he's any good at it.

He joined the Labor Party because he believes everyone deserves a fair go.

I believe that too.

He says the Postcard book is about how our society has become a patchwork quilt of winners and losers across all our postcodes. I wrote it because it's clear to me that it has become harder and harder for people of humble origins, or living humbly, to have their voices heard in our country's political and policy debate.

I agree with that.

I know many people believe we're all born equal. If we work hard, we'll succeed. We'll get into good schools. We'll get good jobs. We'll be able to afford a house and food for our family.

But we're NOT all born equal.

First of all, some people are not born with white skin. That's a hindrance right there. Oh no. Oops. I forgot. America has a black president. Silly me. I forgot. Racism is over. We're all color-blind now. If Oprah, Samuel Jackson, and Obama can get rich and famous, there's no excuse for the other black folks. Right? If they work hard, they can get rich too.

Seriously though. I personally believe we have racism in this world, and it will never completely go away. But let's put that aside.

Some of us start out in families that have money. Some do not.

By the time, I got into high school my family had a lot of money. I didn't have to work through high school. I didn't have to balance a job and studies during college. I had the easy ride.

Other people have work through high school SO they can pay for college. Then in college they have to continue to work. I can imagine it's hard to keep up with your studies and sleep when you're dealing with a full time job.

Ah, but my dad did it. It's possible. He grew up poor....financially challenged.

He worked while in school.

He struggled.

My mom struggled along with him.

It's possible for the disadvantaged to pull themselves up from their bootstraps.

So there is NO excuse for homeless people. They're all just lazy.

There's a catch though.

My dad is quite smart. And like me, he's highly motivated and a hard worker. That's a recipe for success. He's also white. Oh and he has a charming and charismatic personality.

What if he wasn't so smart? What if he had average intelligence? What he had below average intelligence? What if he was emotionally disturbed because his brother was killed in a gang war? What if he was simply born with a difficult-to-love personality?

If he was a not-so-smart, emotionally disturbed, blah, rich person....he wouldn't have much of a problem. He would have the right connections to find SOME kind of job out there. That's highly likely.

My family and I once talked about that movie The Pursuit of Happyness. I think it's supposed to be inspiring. Look! Black homeless people can become stockbrokers! Yeah, but the Will Smith Character is a GENIUS. He's so damn smart. Look at how fast he can solve the Rubik's Cube.

Well, thank heavens my family has money, cause I can't solve shit with that toy. I'd be on the streets for sure, sleeping on a cardboard box.

Well, at least I'm white. I have that going for me.

Swan says his objective in politics is to create prosperity so we can spread opportunity. I'm not sure if I understand that. I'm guessing it means if a country has a lot of money, then it can create more jobs. Am I getting that right?

He's a vocal advocate for the early detection of prostate cancer. I wonder if Tim has gotten himself checked out for that lately. I should nag him about it.

Swan likes to listen to his daughters sing. That's sweet.

He says they all still live in Queensland....Brisbane now instead of Nambour. Did he get tired of the big pineapple? How often does he have to go down to Canberra?

His website has a link to the 2009-2010 Budget.

I wonder if I'll understand any of it.

One of the key elements is a 22 million dollar infrastructure thing. It provides funding for roads, metro rail, hospitals, clean energy stuff, education, etc. I think Obama was planning something like that. There was something about a train thing that would connect all of us Americans.

I'm not an expert on economics, but it sounds like a good plan to me. You get all this cool new stuff in the country, and then you also create jobs. It sounds like a win-win situation, but again....I'm ignorant. I might be missing something important.

Here's a May speech about the budget.

I like the first paragraph. This Budget is forged in the fire of the most challenging global economic conditions since the Great Depression. It is a budget that supports jobs today by investing in the infrastructure we need for tomorrow.

That makes sense to me.

The global recession has been unleashed on Australia with a brutal, uncompromising force.
But Australians are too strong, too resilient, and too united to be overwhelmed.


It sounds like he's talking about the attack of a giant crocodile or something.

We know we can withstand the worst the world can throw at us.

Killer bees? How about aliens that look human, but are actually reptiles? What about a mass outbreak of the Ebola Virus?

Basically the speech is reminding people that if Australia wants to get a budget surplus, hard choices will have to be made. He says, To the Australian people I say this is not an easy budget for easy times.

In his speech, he talk about the paid parental plan thing. He says by January 2011, eligible parents will get minimum wage for up to eighteen weeks. That's not very specific information. Who is eligible? And what is meant by up to eighteen weeks? It's better than what America has though. There's no government required paid leave for anyone. And we get only twelve weeks of unpaid.

Plus, that's not given to everyone. The company has to be of a certain size, and you have to had worked with them for a certain amount of time.

The good thing is though we have free QUALITY daycare so parents don't have to fret about leaving their young babies to go to work. Oh no. Wait. That's not true either. Most people have to pay for their daycare. And a lot of daycares in America are run by very unqualified people.

Lovely.

Swan kept talking about changes that people won't be happy about. I wondered what those could be. Here he's talking about new roads, fast internet, hospitals, paid parental leave, improved schools, more jobs. I kept wondering....what's the catch?

Higher taxes....if I'm reading this right.

Swan says,

Mr Speaker, I know some will be unhappy with the hard choices we've taken in this Budget. Especially those we have asked to contribute more, because they can afford to do so. But I'm confident that most Australians will understand that the choices we have made are necessary, and responsible.

I don't really understand when financially comfortable people complain about higher taxes. Yeah. Of course, I'd like to keep most of our money and not hand it over to the government. But I also don't want to live in a country that's falling apart at the seams.

I think that's all I'm going to read on this budget site. I'm pretty sure most of it will go way over my head.

You know....there is another alternative to the whole invest-in-the-infrastructure thing. We can LOWER taxes...especially the taxes of rich people. Then they'll have more money to go shopping. They shop and corporations benefit. We all know how corporations take care of their people so well....especially people far below on the chain.

I'm being a bit sarcastic today, aren't I? I don't know what has gotten into me.

Here's Wayne Swan's Parliament Page. I'll read his first speech.

It was done on 10 May 1993. I mixed up the date when I first read it. I thought it was October 5. I get confused with Australian dates sometimes. Do any of you Australians get confused when you look at American dates?

He honors his parents who unfortunately died early and did not get to see him make the speech.

His father sounds somewhat like me....distrustful of big companies, banks, and stuff like that.

Swan says, He believed that most of the institutions in our society were rigged against people who earned a wage for a living. He believed that the conservatives used social background as a brick wall, blocking opportunity for ordinary people. My parents, and many of their generation, did not get a fair go. I was fortunate enough to get a fair go, and I got that fair go from the Whitlam Government.

Cool.

He's talking about the University stuff, I think. From what I remember, Whitlam made it possible for more people to get an education. Right?

This is how it works in America. The idea is pushed to all children that they will be worthless destitute pieces of crap if they don't go to college. The catch is they have to pay mucho dinero to get into college. They get loans. They go into debt. Then they learn that their degree in Medieval French Literature does not provide for vast job opportunities. They get stuck in a corporate job that relates nothing to their interests or majors. They hate their job. Their boss hates them. Life sucks. But they can't leave because a) they're in debt and b) they'll lose their health insurance.

Swan says, However, hindering the development of appropriate interventionist policies over the past few decades has been the unhealthy dominance of laissez-faire economists in universities, in the bureaucracy, in private industry and in the conservative parties. To those people, greed is good and taxation is theft.

Sad.

Here's something mysterious. He mentions towards the end of the speech that his wife and children were supposed to be there, but then they were not. What happened with that? Maybe someone got sick?

I like Swan's speech.

From what I see of Swan, I like him in general.

I'm going to move onto Google News. Oh wait. Is he on Twitter?

Well, there are a few Wayne Swan's, but I think they're all fake.

One fake one describes himself as Australia's Federal Treasurer delivering increased spending, with increased taxation for the rich. I am the modern day Robin Hood.

Since the real Swam is not actually on Twitter, I'll instead see what people are saying about him.

Ashul Shah from Perth says,
was surprised to see even govt ministers go through the same security drill as the rest of us - said hello to Wayne Swan earlier. From his other tweets, I can guess he's referring to airport security stuff. We were at the airport this weekend. There were signs assuring us that they're trying to come up with better methods. That way we don't have to do crazy things like take off our shoes and toss out our water bottles. I can deal with the shoe thing although I don't really get it. The water thing drives me nuts. Why don't they just have us drink the water so we can prove it's not a bomb. Although I guess a SUICIDAL bomber might not care and drink the water anyway.

How do you make a dangerous weapon out of a water bottle anyway? And why couldn't someone buy a bottle when they're past security and do something dangerous with that?

I'm googling and just getting stuff about how water bottles are bad for your health and the environment. Yeah. I knew that.

I use a reusable BPA free bottle thing. Last weekend, I forgot to dump out the water before going through security. Oops. That caused a bit of a hassle.

Well, I'm going to go feed my child...and myself. Then I shall look at current events via Google News. And I also might watch some Parliament videos on YouTube....

I'm back....ready to read again.

This article says pretty much what I read on the budget site....stimulus stuff and infrastructure stuff.

This article says Swan is against the whole buy-Australia push. I'm not sure why. Swan says it's counterproductive. I don't quite understand that.

Here's another article about it. It says union people wanted the government to give local businesses contracts even if their prices were 25% higher than international competitors. Why would their prices be higher? They don't have to deal with long distance shipping and all that.

An opposing viewpoint comes from a guy named Jeff Lawrence. He says,
It would be absurd to see stimulus money go to companies that send jobs offshore or undermine wages, conditions and job security for working Australians.

That makes sense to me....probably.

I really don't know enough about this to give a valid opinion. So I guess I'll give an invalid one. I can see MAYBE there's a problem with giving official government preferential treatment to local products. I'm not sure why. But I'm guessing there could be one. However, I definitely don't see a problem in simply advertising/promoting the whole Buy Australian idea. I know some products have the logo Australia Made. That way consumers can make informed decisions.

I personally feel it's better to support local companies.

There's some other news about a Chinese guy, detention, mines, and Swan. I don't feel like reading it though.

Yeah. I'm being lazy.

Let's watch some videos instead!

Ah! There's a lot of stuff. I'm excited.

Here's a commercial done by the Liberal Party. The Liberal Party has their own YouTube channel? Well, I'm going to guess this video won't be celebrating the beauty of Wayne Swan.

I'm sorry. I can't help it. I still think Malcolm Turnbull is incredibly sexy. He's not in the commercial (as far as I know...haven't watched it yet). But when I clicked on the Liberal Party channel, a video with him automatically started playing.

I'm done watching the commercial. How SHAMEFUL. Wayne Swan was asked a question and he had to consult his notes to answer. He had some trouble finding the right notes. That man is responsible for our economy? No, wait....not MY economy. I'm American.

Still, you can't have a man like that running the money of a country. I am switching sides. For now on, I'm a LIBERAL. See. Now I can find Malcolm Turnbull incredibly sexy, and not feel all conflicted about it.

What video is next?

Here we have Costello Vs. Swan. I can't wait! I'm not quite sure what that's all about, but both sides were chuckling a bit. I know it did have something to do with Swan giving money to the democrats. Wait. Speaking of that. I should go and read what that was about.

Here's an ABC transcript about it.

The allegations were it was a bribe. Of course, Wayne Swan denied the allegations. I'm not sure what to believe.

I'm not going to worry my little head over it. I'll watch more videos instead.

Here's a video from the Kevin Rudd Channel. It's called Behind the Budget with Wayne Swan.

This should be insightful.

Well, it has a great home-video feel to it. I guess the idea we're supposed to get, from the video, is that Swan is a family man who works hard to help the Australia economy. One thing I learned from the video is part of the infrastructure plan includes putting insulation in some homes. That has created jobs, and it will give people more efficient houses.

Here's a video of Wayne Swan taking a long time to answer a question.

Members of the Liberal Party are accusing Swan of avoiding the question. I don't know enough about economics to know if this is what he's doing or not. Since he's a politician, I wouldn't be surprised if he did that. It seems he's trying to put emphasis on the idea that the Liberal Party created high inflation and that the Rudd Ministry is stuck cleaning it up.

The Opposition folks accuse Swan of not knowing the meaning of a economic term. I felt kind of bad for Swan. What if he DIDN'T know what it meant? That's kind of embarrassing. Although you could probably lack vocabulary and still do an okay job. I'm also not sure how common the word is in economics. Is it really one that all Treasurers should know. Or did the Liberals pick a tricky word to stump Swan?

The video has some comic relief. Swan keeps talking about Four Corners. Finally, the Speaker makes some comment about how it's not appropriate to do promos for TV shows in Parliament. If you don't want to watch the whole video, the funny line is at 4:44.

The vocabulary in question is Non-Accelerating Inflation Rate of Unemployment. Lord Wiki says it's widely used in mainstream economics. I don't really understand it, and don't want to take the time to try. From what I read though, it's not agreed upon by all economic people. Some reject the whole thing. Maybe Swan is one of those people, and because he rejected it, he doesn't know a whole lot about it.

I don't know.

Let me move on and watch another video.

Here's Opposition guy Joe Hockey asking Swan a question. He's basically saying that Swan is spending a LOT of money, and he's asking how he plans to get the budget in check by 2022. Hockey uses visual aids to get his point across.  How clever.

Here's Swan making a speech at a Citizenship Ceremony. I think it would be so awesome to become a new Australian. I kind of envy those people.

Swan kept bringing up New York. I couldn't figure out why, but then I realized he was referring to G'Day USA. I think he had just gotten back from it.

Here's a part of a speech he made about prostate cancer. Only two people have watched this video so far. Wow.

Swan's dad died of prostate cancer...well, secondary cancer that started with prostate cancer.

Maybe I should read about prostate cancer.

It seems the main problem is issues with urination. There may also be erection issues, and blood in the urine or semen. There may also be pain in the hips and lower back. Is that the cancer that the biker guy had. What's his name again? Something Armstrong..... Lance. There we go.

He didn't have prostate cancer. He had testicular. I guess that's the other big man cancer. What are the most common cancers in men? This website says it's prostate. That's followed by lung cancer and colorectal cancer.

Interesting. Testicular cancer is most common in white men....at least in America. I wonder why.

Anyway, if any men out there have problems peeing, go see your doctor. Early detection is the key. Right?

Here's a video with Wayne Swan grocery tips. He says basically what Tim says. Shop around, buy what's on sale, and check prices. I'm not really good at that. I tend to ignore prices. I mean we just went to the grocery store this afternoon. I SAW the prices, but I didn't pay much attention.

I think there has to be a balance. Sometimes the cheap stuff is less healthy and less ethical. I'd rather have small amounts of good stuff, than huge amounts of crappy stuff.

If money is very tight, people might need to go for quantity rather than quality.

The last video I'm going to watch is this spoof of the Australia movie trailer. It features Swan.

That was quite cute...impressive animation.

In general, I like Swan. I like his economic ideas. But like I said, I'm pretty ignorant here. My opinion can't really be seen as a highly educated one. Well, I AM actually highly educated, but not in economics.