Guest Post: Why it is pure folly to implement a Fibre-to-the-Node network in Australia

By James Chisholm (james at chisholm dot id dot au)

On one hand, I can see why Malcolm Turnbull wants to press forward with his inferior technology plan for the future… he firmly believes that the National Broadband Network was a major reason people voted for the Coalition in the recent election. Sadly, as has been proven by the recent campaign on www.change.org/nbn as launched by Nick Paine, over a quarter of a million of Australian voters have disagreed with him – the overwhelming majority of people who voted Liberal did so despite the inferior NBN plan. I don’t claim to be an expert on xDSL technology; just a geek who has worked in IT since 1995, and has a more than average knowledge of tech issues, but someone needs to point out to the Coalition that enough people care about this issue to sign a petition which they so arrogantly dismissed. They need only look at the NBN forum on Australian broadband website Whirlpool to find hundreds upon hundreds of informed opinions debating the merits and deficiencies of both proposals.

In case you are unaware of the differences between the two technologies, there’s a very good website called nbnmyths.wordpress.com which I’ve yoinked this summary from:

• FTTN is a short-term “stop gap” using old technology

• Most countries that have installed FTTN are now replacing it with FTTP (i.e.: To the same system as the Labor NBN plan)

• The investment in FTTN would be largely wasted when the inevitable upgrade to FTTP is required

• FTTN would be almost as expensive to implement in Australia as FTTP

• FTTN’s Speed-to-Price ratio is poor

• FTTN delivers vastly different performance levels depending on location

• FTTN delivers very low upload speeds

The detailed explanation goes into exactly why it’s not a good fit for this country. I strongly recommend you read it, and then follow up that reading with the ex-CTO for British Telecom, who explains here why deploying FTTN was a huge mistake for BT.

Australia currently sits at a very low place on the world internet speed rankings (as of January, we were ranked 40th) and has the opportunity to take leaps and bounds by implementing the right kind of National Broadband Network – such as NBN Co has been rolling out to date. However, the Coalition FTTN network is no substitute for this – even the manufacturer’s claim Fibre to the Node is a stop-gap technology till a Fibre to the Premises network is achievable.

I personally read the coalition plan for FTTN on the day it was announced and my co-workers distinctly recall me swearing profusely, in amongst shrieks of “what lies!”. I work in a software development company and our proxy server cached the request to download the PDF document from the Liberal website, such that when all 30 of us went to read the document, it only appeared to their server as one request. To suggest that each of us haven’t actually read the document is not only insulting but ignores the fact that their document was summarised into hundreds of news articles in the days and weeks following the Coalition announcement. As the internet would say, tl;dr  – Too Long; Didn’t Read – there several pages of complete crap which were purely anti-labor propaganda in what was supposed to be a policy document!

I hope Malcolm Turnbull realises that Telstra weren’t lying in 2003 when group managing director of regulatory strategy, Tony Warren, told a Senate enquiry that the copper network has a maximum viable life of 15 years left. The Coalition’s “fraudband” Fibre to the Node network will never achieve the speeds that Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott are promising. Malcolm Turnbull in particular keeps pointing out technology trials conducted in lab conditions which use much higher grade copper wiring than is out in the wild in Australia, over shorter distances than most people will ever be able to get to a “node” or exchange. Two of the countries which Malcolm Turnbull regularly refers to as having successfully rolled out FTTN technologies are New Zealand and the UK. What he fails to mention, without fail, is that both of these countries are now looking at replacing FTTN with FTTP solutions, as are many of the other countries which have implemented FTTN. It remains really unclear as to why you would choose a technology which has not only been implemented but is now being superseded!

Turnbull is claiming that the copper will eventually deliver 100mbps by 2019 – however, the technical trials which that speed was achieved in was over a 400m distance on a much higher grade copper than Telstra have ever deployed, and only ever in lab situations. Considering that the Nodes are due to serve a radius of up to 2km, it’s impossible to believe that everyone will be capable of getting 100mbps from this technology which the manufacturer’s state will only work to a distance of 400m. As a side note, it’s interesting in that Alcatel-Lucent report on VDSL2 vectoring that they state “While fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) remains the ultimate goal” which implies that even the VDSL2 manufacturers acknowledge that it is an inferior technological solution to the Labor FTTP NBN plan!

Furthermore, the copper, which Telstra were being paid $11bn to decommission as part of the Labor Fibre to the Premises National Broadband Network, has been made so vital to the Coalition plan – and Malcolm Turnbull has stated he expects Telstra to give it over for no additional remuneration. Telstra’s CEO, on the other hand, David Thodey, has stated that he fully expects the contract with NBN Co to be paid out in full as well as expecting additional remuneration over and above what they are contracted to get from NBN Co already, to prolong the life of the copper – which will, in turn, make this slower FTTN network more expensive than putting in place a full FTTP network.

The Labor FTTP option is being deployed currently at speeds of 100mbps and is upgradeable to 1000mbps (1gbps) and is not subject to slowdowns during wet weather (when the Telstra pits fill with water), and won’t eventually degrade like the copper will. Most of the Telstra copper network is degraded to the point where it will not sustain a high speed signal – and if you doubt this, see here for a few examples. I have just moved house to a place which is 300m from the local telephone exchange, and in theory I should be getting 24mbps ADSL2 – yet I’m getting a lower speed than when I was living 3.2km from the same exchange. It took me 54 minutes to upload a 91 second HD movie of my daughter to YouTube on Sunday night. This same copper is supposed to provide me with a VDSL2+ connection at speeds up to 100mbps?

The initial Coalition plan is to migrate the copper ADSL2+ networks, theoretically capable of going at 24mbps download speeds, to VDSL at 25mbps (and upload speeds still stuck at the same, 1mbps). That will then be upgradeable in the future to a maximum of 50mbps and again to 100mbps by 2019. Whereas those in areas which have already had Fibre to the Premises NBN connections installed can get 100mbps today!

As most of Australia has known for the last few years, climate change (which the Coalition would have you believe is a myth!) has lead to some of the most extreme weather this country has ever seen. We have had record high temperatures, record floods, record droughts… what’s going to happen to Queensland when, invariably, as they have for the last 3 years during summer, they have major floods? All of a sudden you have all this mains-power running to all these cabinets and everything inside them will short out. What will the insurance premium be on these? Will an insurer even provide a policy for such a device in such an area – knowing full well it will be very likely to suffer catastrophic water damage? Have replacement costs been factored into the coalitions plans?

Another thing which needs to be highlighted is that Malcolm Turnbull is happy to invest in companies overseas who are replacing FTTN networks with FTTP networks, but doesn’t want the country to get the same kind of advantage he’s personally investing in! This is hypocrisy of a terrible scale.

Then there is the inevitable lawsuits from councils who don’t want the ugly and noisy FTTN cabinets every 2-3km throughout the suburb – see here for an example of what they look like overseas – and if anyone has a memory back to the Optus cable rollout of last millennia, there were many councils which not only balked at having the cables run from the power lines, but sued Optus to prevent the rollout occurring. I also feel it necessary to mention that they require power and air-conditioning to operate – not that the Coalition even cares in the slightest about the environment – and if (or should we say, when) a car veers off the road and knocks over a cabinet, all the houses around will lose their internet and phone until it is replaced.

I’ve completely avoided the issue of the Foxtel and Optus cable networks up till here – which are to be incorporated into the Coalition NBN network rollout as another technology option in addition to FTTN. Arguably, another reason for the Coalitions plan to leave these 20 year old networks in place is that the advent of IPTV, a service which provides HD quality TV shows for as little as $10 per month, will drastically eat into the cash-cow which Foxtel has over cable TV. I must confess I was personally disappointed when we moved house recently that my wife was talked back into getting Foxtel re-connected (via satellite) for $30 a month (half price, but only for 6 months) – I had even chosen an IPTV service which provided as much content and the ability to watch it in multiple locations, unlike Foxtel. By preserving the cable networks, the Foxtel bottom line is boosted for many further years… and let’s not even touch on the issue that cable internet is a shared medium and how badly it slows down during peak hours. I personally have witnessed a Telstra Bigpond cable connection go from 100mbps down to about 4mbps around 4pm due to congestion at my former employer – sadly, I haven’t kept the speedtest.net results from a year ago when this occurred – but this technology whilst technically delivering a 100mbps connection, will not provide 100mbps of throughput to all the houses it deploys to.

So between the additional remuneration required to Telstra, the cost (and wasted time) of lawsuits from Councils, it’s really difficult to see why Malcolm Turnbull would want to spend at least $30bn rolling out an inferior solution, which will need to be completely replaced with the original $44bn solution. If we’re spending billions of dollars of money to roll out a high speed national network – do it once, do it right, and don’t put all the power back into Telstra’s hands – wasn’t that why Telstra was forced to undergo structural separation in the first place – because they were abusing their monopoly power?  The NBN was originally conceived as a wrench to prise  Telstra’s monopoly grip on premier networking services away from them – hence why they are receiving such a large amount of remuneration for the decommissioning of the copper network. Here’s a rather paranoid thought – what if, under the FTTN plan, Telstra, as the monopoly provider of copper from node to premise, were to turn around and say we’ll only fix your line problem if you switch to our service on a 24month contract? Or will only provide 100mbps capable copper connections to their own customers? Without a Universal Service Obligation (which is currently in place for ADSL) they may well be within their rights to only maintain the copper for their direct customers. The potential for Telstra to put in place anti-competitive behaviours which provide them with untold advantages over this network is staggering – and I would not be surprised to discover that they have already analysed to great extent what the potential for getting a larger cash-cow from this FTTN network is.

Yet another thing to consider in this folly of a fibre-to-the-node plan is the number of nodes/cabinets being deployed. The coalition plan is for approximately 60,000 cabinets to be deployed nationwide – there is some significant speculation on the aforementioned Whirlpool forums about the density of each cabinet’s reach. It’s hard to project a radius from a cabinet as housing doesn’t necessarily neatly fit all that well into a circle, however if the average node cabinet costs $50000 (I’m guessing at this price, by the way) to deploy and the number of cabinets required grows by only 10000 then that blows the cost of the rollout out by a factor of $5bn. To provide all houses with a 25mbps capable connection will probably require more like 90000 cabinets, especially in lower density areas.

Malcolm Turnbull has also stated that a cost-benefit analysis will be done on the NBN project – however I suspect, strongly, that the terms of reference for this cost-benefit analysis will be very limited (possibly as far as two election terms) and make ridiculous assumptions, such as obtaining the Telstra copper at no cost. Malcolm Turnbull has repeatedly stated that the FTTP project will end up costing $90bn, and most recently, in his attack on all the constituents of Australia who have signed the change.org petition, increased that to $100bn – with no justification as to why. A fully informed cost-benefit analysis needs to be forward looking with a scope to the implementation and operational costs over the course of the next 20 years; accounting for how much of the Telstra copper network is already stuffed and barely capable of lasting more than 10 years.

Simon Hackett, CEO and Founder of Internode, has recently made several publicly available speeches on the problems with FTTN and how to build a FTTP network on an FTTN budget. Simon has run one of the most successful ISPs Australia has seen, without the benefit of having a behemoth of a cash cow behind him like Telstra, and has done a brilliant job of it. I would STRONGLY urge Malcolm Turnbull and the rest of the coalition to consult with Australian industry leaders such as Simon, and get their input as to how best provide Australia with a world class National Broadband Network and bring this great country into the future with a future-proof and upgradeable technology path.

I fully expect that Malcolm Turnbull, if he ever does read my comments, will call me out on my pricing assumptions and number of required nodes. However, I stand by my belief – that a Fibre to the Node National Broadband Network is completely unsuitable for this country, for all of the reasons I’ve listed, and more, and truly hope that the terms of reference for the cost-benefit analysis factor in a longer period of time than the next two election cycles, and that if the Coalition proceed with the folly of their FTTN plan that they are held to account at the 2016 election – as I highly doubt that there is any chance with a FTTN network that they can provide the guaranteed minimum of 25mbps as stated by Tony Abbott during the policy launch, and that it will end up costing far more than Labor’s FTTP rollout will.

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Free market Lysenkoism

Trofim Lysenko (1898 – 1976) worked under Joseph Stalin as the director of Soviet biology. He was a remarkably egregious pseudoscientist whose claim to fame was a technique he termed ‘vernalization’, which promised to quadruple crop yields for the struggling collectivised Soviet agriculture sector.

Lysenko took his cues from the ideas of Ivan Vladimirovich Michurin (1855-1935), an honourable member of the Soviet Academy of Sciences. In a characteristically extensive academic propaganda campaign, the Soviet regime sold Michurin as the father of so-called Soviet biology, which was considered superior to the ‘capitalist’ (and accurate) theory of Mendelian genetics.

The Soviets believed that adopting Lysenko’s agricultural practices, they would be able to fight off famine and demonstrate the greatness of the Soviet social model to the world. Questioning Lysenko’s theories was seen as an act of sedition; sceptics were smeared as bourgeois fascists. This is not to say that the people behind the Soviet propaganda machine didn’t believe in Lysenkoism – most of them probably did. Today, most of Lysenko’s research is rightly considered fraudulent; junk science manufactured to support unstable and paranoid politics.

Lysenko and his Soviet comrades frequently publicly decried proponents of evidence-based biology as ‘fly-lovers’, ‘people haters’, and ‘wreckers’. Mendelian genetics was seen as an impediment to communist productivity and national progress; a pitiful manifestation of Malthusian capitalist nay-saying.

Now, the term ‘Lysenkoism‘ is used to refer to the distortion of science to support a particular political ideology.

Yesterday’s leak of thoroughly incriminating internal documents from the Heartland Institute (check out the source) got me thinking – I mean about more than the fact that nine documents contained a hell of a lot to worry about compared to the tepid contents of the thousands of emails and hundreds of documents that made up the entire ‘climategate’ package. (But that is worth pointing out.) We also already knew that climate denialism was little more than a racket.

It actually reminded me of a point that had always seemed so obvious to me, but that I rarely see discussed. It stems from the fact that anthropogenic global warming deniers will often call mainstream climate science ‘Lysenkoism’ in the media. The obvious question to ask is: who are the ones skewing science for politics? Certainly Al Gore is no central-planning socialist.

What do almost all of the AGW deniers and lukewarmists have in common? Let us list some names, and we’ll see if we can isolate a common variable:

Penn Jilette; Matt Stone; Trey Parker; Alex Jones; Alan Jones; Christopher Monckton; Andrew Bolt; S.E. Cupp; Anthony Watts; Glenn Beck; Ron Paul; Matt Ridley; Bjørn Lomborg; the staff of (the unfortunately named) media outlet Reason TV; the signatories of this letter

The answer? An infatuation with the so-called free market. Really, check Google; or better yet, read some of their books.

Even die-hard fans of the free market know that if scientists are right about anthropogenic global warming, effective solutions will necessarily begin with top-down market intervention. Moreover, the fact of global warming also contradicts the ideal that free trade, unfettered by oversights, can only be a good thing for humanity. People who are committed to ideas – especially utopian political ideas – tend to get a bit clingy.

Former doubter Michael Shermer explicated this sentiment when he came out as accepting climate science. To wit:

Nevertheless, data trump politics, and a convergence of evidence from numerous sources has led me to make a cognitive switch on the subject of anthropogenic global warming.

Though, later on he did add some free market caveats.

Let’s watch Chris Monckton push for an Australian Fox News:

His talk of discrediting climate science is firmly within the context of promoting the free market. Interesting, no?

And this can be found on the Heartland Institute’s About page:

Mission: Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems.

We can easily note a clear trend of one of humanity’s greatest achievements in science (ie, figuring out what could kill most of us before it happens) being subverted, corrupted and bastardized for political purposes. So, apparently, for many, data does not trump politics. To disseminate global warming denialism, whether knowingly or unknowingly, is the praxis of free market Lysenkoism.

Practically every single prolific climate change sceptic utilizes propaganda originating from someone who has some connection the Heartland Institute. The kind of media manipulation for dissemination of discredited theories, paying off scientists and, the cherry atop this outrageously pernicious pie, promotion of the indoctrination of school children in the discipline of junk science, all expressly advocated in the Heartland Institute’s documents, leave me wondering why anyone in their right mind could continue to take the global warming denial/dilution project seriously.

I do mean to write up my developed take on the free market in the near future, but I’m a little busy for the moment. In the meantime, I’d like to urge the free market cadre who are responsible for most of my hate mail, and the more well-spoken and intelligent free market advocates who have raised the issue of my blog in real life, to do something to quell the disturbing trend of Lysenkoism flourishing among their colleagues. It’s making you all look ridiculous.

You can read more about the Heartland leaks themselves herehere and here (especially for Australians). Nothing on any of the Australian Murdoch newspaper websites, though.

The enemy, in his own words

He said it best himself: God is real because tides go in, tides go out and Bill O’Reilly needs to believe there was a divine reason for his birth. Clearly Bill’s ego is so big he is inexorably impelled to disregard the moon.

He is the kind of enemy you want. You don’t wish for his total destruction, like you would with the Taliban; you want Bill to tell you what the powers that be want you to think. He’s a cog in the machinary of democracy: a witless, self-serving and moderately deranged cloddish cog, but an essential cog nonetheless. His opposition to you is invigorating.

I can love certain enemies. I’m a bit like Jesus in that respect.

As a good papist, Bill has the gumption to judge people who ask the world’s governments to uphold the better bits in the Bible. (The stuff that didn’t deal with God-sanctioned atrocities and hell for people who aren’t gullible or infantile enough to believe in fairies.) If you haven’t seen it yet, you gotta read this shit. Like, totally.

Because of that shit, I’m using Bill as the primary subject for my horribly biased study of the anti-#occupy propagandists. Don’t worry, he’s a big boy; he can take it.

To paraphrase the column with more fairness than Bill’s host network would: the occupy protesters say they’re regular folks, like you ‘n me – but they’re not, and they want our stuff. Also, communism is evil and inefficient. To wit: “Generally speaking, these ‘Occupy Wall Street’ are just bored morons who want handouts.”

Who didn’t see that one coming?

My favourite part of this septic carbuncle is Bill’s brainless defence of the Platonic ideal of capitalism; the kind of capitalism I’m cool with – capitalism that rewards hard work. Unlike Bill, I’m not deluded (or malicious) enough to confuse dictionary capitalism with the current system. Dictionary capitalism expired with crony capitalism. Here’s what Bill said:

If you work hard and do well in your job, you will usually prosper, providing you practice patience. If you don’t work hard and smart, you will be out on your keister, unless a union saves you. Some believe that this survival of the fittest system is unfair because all people are not born with equal aptitude. And that’s true. Capitalism is not fair to everyone. But it gives the largest amount of folks the best chance to succeed because there are many different routes to prosperity, and some disinterested bureaucrat isn’t standing around calling the economic shots.

Can you just feel the sophisticated moral philosophizing that went into that? The utilitarians and consequentialists would be proud. Actually no, they wouldn’t be. They’d probably be exasperated and deeply troubled. George Carlin said the smart Americans call the cliché Bill is invoking ‘the American dream’ because you’d have to be asleep to believe it.

Here’s the sentence that opens the paragraph I just quoted:

 The American economic system is a meritocracy.

How can any reasonable person meaningfully call the system that makes Paris Hilton worthy of media attention meritocratic? Old money is not merit. If Bill wanted to be consistent with his ‘merit’ line, he would say that all of a person’s wealth should be bequeathed to charity when they die, rather than their prodigal squirts. Otherwise, where’s the freaking merit?

Profits are not merit. You’d have to be pretty damn Machiavellian to confuse corporate monopolies with anything resembling ‘merit’. The only kratia-derived English word pertaining to offering corporations the implicit goal of unfettered market domination is plutocracy. This modernizes the aristocracy satirized in The Prince (by Machiavelli) and takes it to an absurd extreme.

The point is that meritocracy, or any other label O’Reilly wants to surreptitiously ascribe to neoliberal economics does not equate democracy. It doesn’t sex the idea up either. It just makes the system sound like plain old oligarchy – you know, the Soviet thing.

I thought America’s founding fathers fought for democracy. I don’t remember meritocracy coming up in my basic reading on American history; but I did commit to memory this nugget of wisdom from Thomas Jefferson:

And with the laborers of England generally, does not the moral coercion of want subject their will as despotically to that of their employer, as the physical constraint does the soldier, the seaman, or the slave?

Here Mr Jefferson almost sounds like a Marxist. For the record, Mr Jefferson disliked Christianity too – he was a man of science and a deist, and probably would have been an atheist had he not died 33 years before Darwin published Origin of Species. Thomas Jefferson was a great man and a great thinker.

The irony is that the majority of conservative politicians pushing the ‘economic survival of the fittest’ platitude in the U.S. are creationist-flavoured Christians. (Not Bill, he believes in evolution because the Pope tells him to.) Ironically, on the opposite end of the bell curve, you have the Darwinian gunners like Richard Dawkins saying ‘survival of the fittest’ is profoundly immoral and as an enlightened species, we should be transcending it. That’s also what modern medicine does.

But I digress. Let’s return to Bill:

But the “Occupy Wall Street” protestors want those bureaucrats. They believe that governments have a moral obligation to provide a measure of success and education to everyone, no matter what the cost. This, of course, is impossible.

Wow, where do I begin?

I don’t think anyone is arguing that success shouldn’t have to be earned. That’s the definition of success – you earn it. I’m just wondering how a professed meritocrat like Bill O’Reilly expects the fourteen year old daughter of drug-addicted parents to earn herself a decent education. Some say that education is a basic, non-negotiable human right. It seems to follow then, that in wealthier nations, public education should reflect that in quality.

I agree that admission into higher education should be based solely on merit, but how can anyone expect to gauge the merit of people too young (we call them ‘children’) to have developed cerebrums yet? That’s why you educate the little bastards – so they have a chance to demonstrate their merit when they’re old enough to apply for higher education.

Apparently in America, your life is only sacred and deserving of rights if you’re still an embryo.

Teenage dropouts lose 1.8 IQ points every year of education they miss (from this study. Oh no, science!). And not incidentally, a lot of common criminals are not educated – most have low IQs. Put simply, schooling significantly reduces the probability of incarceration in America (according to this 2003 study – more science!). When you raise the standards of education and make it compulsory, you lower crime rates. Clearly not all dropouts turn into criminals, and some do quite well, but that’s not the point. What you’re aiming to do is give everyone a decent shot at giving something back.

But obviously that would be a waste of taxpayer dollars, according to Bill, anyway.

If you want a meritocratic economy, fine. But you won’t find that in America – real merit is not rewarded in America. Too many extremely talented college graduates are unable to find employment. I suppose that’s to be expected in a society that seriously considers creationists as viable presidential candidates. Wait, the unemployed talent thing happens here too. My mistake.

Here’s a couple of common sense questions I’ve got: without educated citizens, what’s the point of democracy? Do the rich really want stupid people agglomerating and calling the shots? Didn’t they learn anything from the Bush presidency? How are entrepreneurs supposed to drive the economy if they don’t know enough math to understand their balance sheets? Or enough science to make a useful product?

You’d think the bombastic author of Pinheads and Patriots would have mustered up the patriotism to read his nation’s own Declaration of Independence (again wrought by the inimitable Thomas Jefferson):

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

I suppose Bill occupies the ‘pinhead’ moiety of the dichotomy he examines.

If you want to equate happiness with profits, that’s your bag. I do it too, to a degree. It doesn’t change the fact that Mr Jefferson wrote that the inalienable rights afforded to the American people include ‘life’ (presumably not dying of starvation) and the right to ‘pursue’ something; how are you supposed to pursue anything if you have thyroid cancer and you can’t afford surgery? What about if you’ve got Parkinson’s, the unregulated bank lost your money and your family are all dead because they had no health insurance? (And when they died, their employers cashed in on ‘dead peasant’ plans, leaving you with nothing but funeral bills.) I thought rights were rights – not things to be earned.

Bill O’Reilly aims to spur the possessive paranoid monkey minds of his readers with his trademark contumely and feeble reasoning. His whole argument is encapsulated in the line “they want our stuff”. (“Dey took err jerbs!”) For those of us more amenable to appeals to human solidarity, Bill’s boorish melodrama makes for febrile reading. Well, only if you try to take him seriously.

The ‘stuff’ these folks want are food, healthcare, education and the jobs that all those ‘job creators’ are supposed to be busying themselves creating. How dare those poor people. And how dare President Obama decide that maybe it’d be more reasonable to tax people who can live without some of their money at a higher rate. The nerve! The Audacity of Hope!

Unlike the Fox-bolstered pinheads who ran against him, President Obama appears to have actually read at least the first sentence of the United States’ Constitution:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Apparently that maneuver can make you unelectable over there.

(Note the ‘W’ in ‘Welfare’ is indeed capitalized. I bet that really messes with the Republican Party candidates.)

Living in a safe, affluent society is not a free ride. If such a milieu were a universal right, millions of children born in third world countries wouldn’t die hungry every year. If Bill O’Reilly were serious, he would want to pay his taxes for the rights of those children to be protected. If he wants to be chauvinistic and only want those rights protected for Americans, what’s his problem with his tax dollars doing that? As Warren Buffett, one of the richest men in the world wrote in a much-reviled August 21 New York Times op-ed:

I know well many of the mega-rich and, by and large, they are very decent people. They love America and appreciate the opportunity this country has given them. Many have joined the Giving Pledge, promising to give most of their wealth to philanthropy. Most wouldn’t mind being told to pay more in taxes as well, particularly when so many of their fellow citizens are truly suffering.

Warren Buffett is a smart man, go read him here. I like Warren Buffett. He’s an agnostic who talks about ‘shared sacrifice’ – a nice contrast to the Christians like Bill who talk about ‘self-interest’.

If you think you know economics and wealth-building better than the chairman of Berkshire-Hathaway, you’re an idiot. If you think Warren Buffett is a communist, you should seriously consider sitting the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS) to see if you’re qualified to apply for a disability support pension – but only if you’re not an American.

What did Bill O’Reilly have to say about Warren Buffett not being wrong? He threatened that if tax rates went up, he’d cancel his show and fire his employees. Oh no. Don’t do it Bill. We’d undoubtedly miss your candid sweaty belligerence.

Context is important here; the #occupy movement has gone global. Down here in Melbourne, Australia, our regressive morons are sounding suspiciously like authoritarian apologists for the police brutality that rocked our CBD twice in the last week. Tim Blair described the city council’s first shameful malapropism gleefully as a ‘hippie toss‘. I had to do some digging on Blair to find out whether or not he was taking the piss. (Hippies in 2011? Really? Where?!) He wasn’t. He isn’t that smart, but he is that sadistic. Expect more from me on this vulgarian.

I don’t want to say unequivocally that Australia is better than America, do you want to know what my favourite dextral dickhead had to say on the #occupy protesters?

They are not trying to destroy capitalism, but to make it better. They are attacking the unfairness at the heart of a dysfunctional global financial system, and the lack of accountability of the people who run it, many of whom are ethically challenged.

That isolated quote seems to suggest Miranda Devine and I can agree on something. See? I really am like Jesus.

I’m watching the protean #occupy movement through its detractors. Madame Devine’s eerie dalliance with rationality notwithstanding, the deluge of idiotic paroxysms from the world’s regressives indicates the protesters are on the right track. The whole thing reminds me of the inspiring ideals that drove the American and French revolutions. Here, on this blog, I’d like to state that I’m with the occupiers. There are literally thousands of us, and we are legion.

And sod Bill O’Reilly.