Time To Start Thinking

America and the Spectre of Decline

Book Cover: Time To Start Thinking

This book by Edward Luce contains some amazing statistics.

In 1990, California spent twice as much on Universities as prisons. Now it spends almost twice as much on prisons.

Page 12. Taxes are the price we pay for civilisation by Oliver Wendell Holmes.

From page 31. Think of the General Motors worker with his pension and health care plan. In the 1960's he earned $60,000 a year in today's prices. Walmart, which has the largest employer in the United States is General Motors equivalent in today's economy, pays it's 1.1 million mostly female employees an average of $17,500 a year, most of them without attached pension or health care benefits.

In the United States, it cost $2 38 an hour to pay for an employees health care coverage. In the remainder of the Rich world, it cost just $0.98. For most companies, including Kelly, healthcare costs often exceed profits.

From page 77, almost half of America's students fail to complete their college degree in the allotted time.

In ...  Austin, the Texas capital, a teacher with a PhD and 30 years experience is paid $62,000 a year.

from page 172, the United States has fallen to the lowest rate of income mobility in the industrialised world.

In 1960 the average soundbite for a presidential candidate on the major evening networks was 40 seconds. By 2008 it had fallen to 9.

America spends more on potato chips every year than on research and Development.

From page 195, the word "God", for example, does not once appear in the 4500 word US Constitution. When Benjamin Franklin suggested there should at least be a prayer at the start of the convention, Alexander Hamilton joke that America did not need more "foreign aid". When asked later why God has been omitted from the document, Hamilton said: "we forgot". It was an odd oversight by a group of drafters his attention to language is rivalled by few others in history.

A generation ago, the great American political economist Mancur Olson offered a brilliant insight into why stable nations tend to wind down over time. Long periods of stability gradually sap a nation's will to alter how the game is played. As success and press prosperity become normal, it gets even more difficult for proponents of reform to dislodge the coalition's that control the nation's resources.

Churchill famously said that Americans always do the right thing after exhausting all the alternatives.

Walmart's profit margins account for just 3% of it's revenues. If it decided to give a $6,000 healthcare and pension benefit to each of its 1 million employees Walmart would cease to be profitable.

America is off the charts. An American baby is twice as likely to die in its first year as a Scandinavian, German, or Japanese. More than twice as many Americans are obese as is average for wealthy Nations and America's prison population is more than 5 times the ratio of the next highest developed country. One in 7 Americans is on food stamps.

On its present course, the US faces a world of rising new countries that will compete with it ever more fiercely as its own power is declining. In order to slow and improve this steady leakage of power, the US must change course internationally, economically and domestically. It must also restructure to remain the world's most competitive economy. And it must address quality of life issues and fairness at home. But American politics is broken -- competing forces and interests have led to stasis. With change so tough, where now for a country where the middle classes are suffering as they have never suffered before, the pensions crisis is growing, the deficit out of sight, and radicalism waiting in the wings?

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Only just found this podcast. LOVE IT

Really great to see some honest conversation, that doesn’t seem concerned with making the truth more palatable for the fair of heart. I think we really need a lot more of this.


Great listen

Fantastic podcast and gets better every episode. BUT if you can’t handle the truth about the dismal state of Australian politics give this one a miss.

The Happy Dog

Look forward to this podcast every week

This is an entertaining and intelligent discussion of politics, religion, education and other important issues in Australia. If you’re not interested in politics or if you’re confused by it then you need to listen to these guys. They remove the mystery and put forward an analysis of the issues that will entertain and inform you.


Ep 81, one of the best and most enjoyable

Wel done Trevor and Hugh, one of the best Eps to date. Professional delivery by both.


Episode 68 right on the mark

This episode was just the right length, but more importantly, was a little more measured in addressing the topics. I admire the Iron Fist in the way he can craft rational statements about appalling behaviour in the topics discussed, and I found the 12th Man to be a good balance to the Iron Fist. I wish the Velvet Glove wouldn’t giggle at important topics or when religious thinking is described – we already find them ridiculous, but laughing every time is a bit much after hours of listening to episodes. This is a fun but semi-serious podcast that everyone should listen to, and I thank them for making the time to produce it.


Keep it going…

A refreshing podcast. Rational discussion on topics many won’t tackle honestly. I don’t agree with everything you say but I love the way your subject matter is explored and sometimes debated. Great work guys.


Making baby Jesus cry

Don’t listen to these baby eating heathens, God will kill an angel for every episode that you listen to.


Presenting the Inconvenient Truth

These guys are at the forefront of challenging religious privilege. If you want to be up-to-date on all the wacky goings-on by the religion pushers in this world and their attempts successful or otherwise to influence the political and social spheres of our lives then this is your podcast. We need more of this advocacy for a secular world view. Be like me or Bill and don’t miss an episode.


Christmas Special

All podcasts are great but the christmas special takes the cake. Excellent show guys.


Australian Centred Debate

This podcast is great for those looking for debates about secularism, religious power structures and Western liberal democratic ideals, all with a focus on the Great Southern Land. The two main protagonists bounce ideas off each other and occasionally guests are brought in to give different perspectives (I love to hate Right Wing Tony!). These are not Left Wing Nutters, I know as I tend to that description too often myself and disagree with them at times. Rationality and free thought rule! The boys don’t mind if you throw in your two cents, in fact, I think they love to hear from the public. Very worth a listen.


Great Job

I look forward to this show each week. So informative! Thank you.


Stumbled upon

I stumbled on this podcast and enjoyed a number of podcasts. I love the deconstruction of the arguments and the range of topics. The input of the 12th man, right wing Tony and in particular Hugh Harris and Objective morals and Moral relativism. I am a atheist/secularist and would love to see you guys on Q&A keep up the great work. Secularism is a fight worth fighting for.


Not getting any worse

I’ve been listening for a year now and you haven’t gotten any worse. It’s nice to hear a good Australian perspective with varying views. Keep it up.


Always well worth the time

The Fist and crew do a great job of debating and dissecting a range of secular topics. Great work, and always an amusing listen.


Well balanced podcast

I’ve been listening since the first episode and it has proven time and again to be my favourite podcast. The guys have a balanced view of the world and politics. Well worth a listen.


Back catalogue

Greeting Fist, Glove and Man. I’m working my way through the back catalogue and enjoying it immensely. Your discussions contain the kind of intelligence and fluid thinking with a touch of irreverence that I have been looking for in a local content podcast. Keep up the good work.

Tony W

Love your work

Love your work, your podcasts are excellent and your political commentary and general banter really improve my day! Thank you!


Sensible Secularists

A provocative and informative discussion of current affairs at the intersection of religion and politics. The perfect antidote to religious privilege and snowflake culture. Best listened to at 1.5x speed.


Episode 139 Comedy Classic

G’day Iron and Velv. When I found you blokes, I had finally found some Australian voices of reason and common sense. After listening to a chunk of the back catalogue and keeping up to date with the podcasts, I became a patron, you fellas should be on the Senate. Anyway, episode 139 was a little strange at first, until the nutter came out. And then, oh mate, it became comedy. Where did you dig up that crazy nutter? Thanks Fist and Glove. Watley


Hi guys, many thanks for

Hi guys, many thanks for your podcast which I have just discovered. I am looking forward to exploring the back catalogue. It’s great to hear Australian voices doing such a podcast. One thing though – it’s a bit blokey. Ever thought of having some women on?

Ms McIntosh


Possibly my favourite Aussie podcast. Nice one to do the gardening to!


Great Aussie Secularists..

Finally found some Aussie voices speaking about our issues with Australian accents and with Aussie guests from a secular point of view. Great work guys!



Congrats on 3 years! I’m a fairly new fan (thanks to Caitlin Langley) and this is becoming one of my favourite podcasts. Keep up the great work. – Andy Dowling, Andy Social Podcast / Self Starter Podcast / Bass Player in LORD (don’t worry, we’re not a Christian band!).

Andy Dowling

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