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Weekend reflections

December 8th, 2006

Weekend Reflections is on again. Please comment on any topic of interest (civilised discussion and no coarse language, please). Feel free to put in contributions more lengthy than for the Monday Message Board or standard comments.

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  1. brian
    December 8th, 2006 at 15:57 | #1

    Well…in Iraq the moment has arrived..now comes the effort to form a screen around the disaster,to allow the USA a graceful exit,,
    How the lies and excuses from the Howards and the Blairs,as to why they followed Nush into the
    About time to round up the helicopters I think for that dramatic Saigon-style
    Interesting that in the US media the far -Right are already depicting the Baker report as a sort o
    of sort surrender!
    But a former Reagan-Tresurer Craig Paul Roberts has said..”nothing will avert disaster,juntil the real problem..Palestine..is addresses,and that can’t happen until the power of]
    of the Jesdish Lobby is rolled back,and the USA stops basing it’s M.E policies on
    the requirements of Israel. “

  2. econwit
    December 8th, 2006 at 16:01 | #2

    JQ, are you going to post re your AFR article? It is a interesting topic in light of the AWB single desk issues/drama.

  3. December 8th, 2006 at 19:25 | #3

    It would be great if the critics of the invasion did not sound as though they are actually cheering for the other side. Maybe some people are, as was the case in Vietnam which is commonly regarded as the precedent for this episode. The same question comes up again, as it did re Vietnam, what are the principles that can be used to determine the legitimate use of violence in national and international affairs?

    For what it is worth, I think that the Marxist view has no legs for that purpose, hence the repeated debacle of leftwing revolutionaries and freedom fighters delivering another tyranny (Zimbabwe, anyone?). It may turn out that classical liberalism, as expounded in modern times by Mises, has more to offer. His classic book on the topic is on line.


  4. Hans Erren
    December 8th, 2006 at 21:02 | #4

    John, a straightforward question:
    Can you please summarise the economic assumptions in the strongest SRES Scenarios A2, A1FI, A1B, i.e. population growth related to economic growth related to emission growth?

    As they are most used in climate models.

  5. Dave
    December 9th, 2006 at 01:50 | #5

    This week, after 2 months of nagging letters, my super fund wrote back to me, and admitted that not once had they voted against increases in executive pay, nor had they instructed their agents to do so. I’m now going to write to my industry journal to alert all policyholders to this fact, and hopefully start a movement to shame them to do it. If more people did this, we might see the funds actually stop being lazy and vote against executive pay.

  6. gordon
    December 10th, 2006 at 08:05 | #6

    Further to my previous tunnellings among the foundations of the Switkowski Report, I’ve tried to make some sense of his estimate of how much more expensive nuclear electricity will be than coal-fired.

    The Switkowski Report says (p.4): “Cost estimates suggests that in Australia nuclear
    power would on average be 20–50 per cent more expensive to produce than coal-fired power if pollution, including carbon dioxide emissions, is not priced�.

    This is an interesting statement. The derivation of these numbers is not given in the Switkowski Report itself, and I haven’t found them in the commissioned papers either (see the report’s link above). Can we reconstruct them? The graph at Fig. 4.7 of the Switkowski Report shows a cost range for coal-fired power. Estimating from the graph (numerical values are not separately given), we find a cost range of $A27 – $A38 per MWh. for coal. On p. 45 Switkowski says: “for settled down costs and moderate commercial risk akin to other baseload investment, nuclear power could fall within the cost range of A$40–65/MWhâ€?. This is exactly the range shown at Fig. 4.7 for comparison purposes with coal-fired. So we should be able to compare Switkowski’s nuclear and coal-fired cost ranges and see if they fall in the 20% – 50% range of increase.

    If we compare the top of the coal-fired range ($A38) with the bottom of the nuclear range ($A40), we see an increase not of 20% but of about 5% above the coal-fired cost. If we compare the bottom of the coal-fired range ($A27) with the top of the nuclear range ($A65), we see an increase of about 140%. If we compare lowest/lowest and highest/highest, we get 48% to 71% (rounding to the nearest whole number). That is, the lowest nuclear estimate is 48% greater than the lowest coal-fired estimate, and the highest nuclear estimate is 71% higher than the highest coal-fired estimate. If we just compare the midpoints of the two ranges, we find that average nuclear is about 61% more expensive than average coal-fired. Where, then, does this “20% – 50%â€? come from?

  7. Mike Hart
    December 10th, 2006 at 10:41 | #7

    Interesting novice focus group this weekend courtesy of the neighbourhood XMAS BBQ. Overwhelming approval of Rudd-Gillard, and even persons who I suspected were always Liberal or Conservative (National) voters coming out of the woodwork and saying that have had enough of Howard and company and their deception and untruths, quite a shock also was the almost unanimous contempt for which the current Federal Government was held over its treatment of David Hicks, asylum seekers, the AWB etc. There was also present a genuine anger regarding all politicians but especially the Feds over the obfuscation and denial of climate change. It just may be that everyone has had enough, most noticeable was the “It time for a change” mood of those present. 2007 looks like being a very interesting year. Nobody’s listening to the spin especially from the pro-conservative media. Simply fascinating.

  8. HeathG
    December 10th, 2006 at 15:11 | #8

    Hi John,

    What are your thought’s on the “Broadband Blueprint” released by Sen. Coonan this week?

    my usual disclaimer for telco topics.. i.e. my personal views only, these views may or may not be the same as those of my employer etc.

    IMHO – the “Broadband Blueprint” doesn’t really seem to offer anything much new to the debate, in the way that Gans’ CEDA paper does. Instead it seems to just be an extended summary of the current state of play, a bit of self congratulating from the government over things liek Broadband Connect, with a few pages at the end talking about what might be done going forward. All this and it’s 3x as long as the CEDA paper. I might not agree with everything in the Gans paper – but at least it seemed to add something new to the debate – and did so in a much more succint manner.

  9. jquiggin
    December 10th, 2006 at 15:16 | #9

    Heath, I generally agree. A post on this soon if I get time.

  10. pablo
    December 10th, 2006 at 15:18 | #10

    Dave raises the issue of director payments among super funds. I agree it seems like a great little earner for those so chosen. I raised with my super fund why they couldn’t offer new applicants (ie young workers) a differential management fee as for some of these accounts a third or so of their contributions can disappear into management fees. My suggestion was that perhaps not so many accounts would go missing if new contributors could really see some gain. A flat annual fee for all may be equitable but who’s kidding who about how much it really costs to ‘manage’ an account that with employer contributions is pretty much IT automatic. For those opting for higher risk super options the contributions to various fund advisors etc seem to be climbing too. Needless to say I got no response from my fund for my new account differential suggestion.

  11. December 10th, 2006 at 15:40 | #11

    “It would be great if the critics of the invasion did not sound as though they are actually cheering for the other side.”

    Do you have any examples, Rafe?

    It is a serious allegation of repulsive behaviour, and I presume it is not made lightly.

  12. wbb
    December 11th, 2006 at 00:34 | #12

    Also Rafe, when you say we are cheering for the other side, do you have it in mind that we are cheering for the Sunnis or the Shiites? Personally, I can’t damn well decide. So help us out, will ya.

  13. FDB
    December 11th, 2006 at 11:36 | #13

    “It would be great if the critics of the invasion did not sound as though they are actually cheering for the other side.”

    Seriously Rafe, I’ve done some comedy, and you’ve really got to take this material on the road.

  14. December 11th, 2006 at 12:15 | #14

    What I really want to take on the road is this question:

    “What are the principles that can be used to determine the legitimate use of violence in national and international affairs?”

    In the absence of any other takers, here are some comments to see what can be done to improve on the Marxist doctrines that did so much to undermine democratic traditions and institutions worldwide.


    That piece explores the question, whether the Marxist revolution has to be violent and compares the radical and moderate Marxist attitudes to revolutionary violence.


    This continues the critique of the ambivalent attitude towards violence that was fostered by both the radical and moderate wings of the Marxist movement.

  15. December 11th, 2006 at 13:25 | #15

    Rafe you can hunt around in dusty tomes all you like, but you will never find a guide to casting the US invasion of Iraq was anything other than a terrible mistake at best. (A crime at worst.)

    Whether from the left or right or the centre, no amount of ideology or philosophical musing can provide a set of principles to provide a checklist that will authorise massive violence to be inflicted upon millions of people. The nearest and best we can hope for is a UN authorised action. Democracy will provide the lead in these matters not the dessicated views of another age and place. But maybe that is what Mises says in his book anyway. I hope so.

    The Europeans set out, equipped with all the weapons and contrivances that their civilization placed at their disposal, to subjugate weaker peoples, to rob them of their property, and to enslave them. Attempts have been made to extenuate and gloss over the true motive of colonial policy with the excuse that its sole object was to make it possible for primitive peoples to share in the blessings of European civilization. Even assuming that this was the real objective of the governments that sent out conquerors to distant parts of the world, the liberal could still not see any adequate basis for regarding this kind of colonization as useful or beneficial. If, as we believe, European civilization really is superior to that of the primitive tribes of Africa or to the civilizations of Asia — estimable though the latter may be in their own way — it should be able to prove its superiority by inspiring these peoples to adopt it of their own accord. Could there be a more doleful proof of the sterility of European civilization than that it can be spread by no other means than fire and sword?

    Thus, Ludwig von Mises barracking for the other side. (page 124)

  16. December 11th, 2006 at 14:20 | #16

    “The nearest and best we can hope for is a UN authorised action.”

    Does that mean the invasion would have been OK if the UN authorised it?

    Still, the same question arises regarding the principles to be applied to justify violent action.

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