EDITORIAL: Peter Costello’s $150 billion Future Fund will take the surplus from asset sales and record high levels of taxation. This money should be used in nation-building or given back to taxpayers. Instead, financiers will earn multi-billion dollar commissions for speculating in Australian and international financial markets and developing even more expensive Public Private Partnerships.

DIRK BALTZLY compares Australia with the US in the rising influence of conservative religion on Australian politics. He suggests that this trend may be more apparent than real and could be due more to the ALP’s lack of principle in diverting preferences away from the Greens to Family First than to any upsurge in religious sentiment.

TONY SCHUMACHER JONES argues that the ‘war on terror’ is not the real problem facing liberal democracies, but is an intellectually and morally bankrupt excuse to avoid facing up to the problems associated with the invasion of Iraq.

TOM SWITZER implies that the US is losing the war in Iraq because it will not be able to sustain even the already inadequate 135,000 US troop presence in Iraq for more than another year.

JOHN M. LEGGE explains the recent referendum defeat in France and Holland of the proposed EU constitution was not a defeat for the idea of a unified Europe but a defeat of the Anglo-American neo-liberal model and a vote for retaining the ‘social’ model adopted by France, Germany, Italy and the Benelux countries.

RON MCCALLUM analyses the Howard Government’s proposed IR changes and argues that the corporatisation of Australia’s labour laws will do far more to diminish the rights and dignity of Australian workers that will the stripping back of awards and the gutting of the unfair dismissal law.

RICHARD DENNISS reviews studies suggesting that when countries reach average incomes of around $20,000 per person a year, further increases in income do not lead to increased happiness. He examines the policy implications of adopting policies which promote happiness as the prime national goal.

DENIS KENNY continues his history of American imperialism in the context of the Bush-Cheney revolution in US foreign policy.

JOHN BRADFORD assesses the evidence on global warming and concludes that the ‘techno-market-optimism’ that science and technology will enable the continuation of energy intensive growth is a dangerous myth. A solution requires unused fossil fuels to be left in the ground and a transformation of our economy, lifestyle and politics.

BRIAN WALTERS writes that human rights are under systematic threat by the Howard government – based on examples including its voting record in the UN, its mandatory detention and terrorism laws, and its failure to follow up allegations that Australian citizen Mamdouh Habib was tortured.

BOB WALKER suggests that Auditors-General should use their statutory powers to conduct more rigorous efficiency audits, particularly as they relate to Public Private Partnerships whose main purpose has been to keep public debt ‘off balance sheet’.

PAUL MEES argues that outer suburban voters have sound reasons for their dislike of Federal Labor, namely that services such as public transport are inadequate and inferior to services in the wealthier, inner suburbs where labour has been more successful in retaining its support base.

KEVIN MORGAN looks at the poor track record of the American telco, US West under Telstra’s new boss, Sol Trujillo. He finds that many of US West’s remote and rural customers suffered poor service because of under-investment in the network, according to a class action taken by customers in 14 states the company served.

NORMAN WINTROP analyses the relevance of George Orwell’s political thought to political issues of concern today.

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