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Monday message board

January 8th, 2007

It’s time, once again for the Monday Message Board. As usual, civilised discussion and absolutely no coarse language, please.

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  1. David Allen
    January 8th, 2007 at 15:54 | #1

    Why does Senator Campbell act like he’s the minister for mining?

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200701/s1823268.htm

    From the story: “Federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell says he believes with time, public opinion will force the Western Australian Government to lift its ban on uranium mining.”

    Yeah, right. Mass demonstrations. Storming parliament. Strikes. That’ll be the day. There’s more chance that the likes of Mr Campbell will hang in a gibbet, and there’s not much hope of that. Uranium may well be mined in WA for greed’s sake but the public will never force it.

    Notice how the coalition policy of climate change denial morphed smoothly into nuclear power. As usual, there’s no problem that the Howard government can’t make worse. Can we please vote for adults next time?

  2. January 8th, 2007 at 16:22 | #2

    Should those under 18 pay no tax if they earn below $40k? It’s what the National President of Young Labor proposes.

    At least it’s not bad compared to the last few times we’ve heard from Young Labor.

    http://www.smh.com.au/news/opinion/give-disenfranchised-young-a-tax-break/2007/01/07/1168104864132.html

  3. Mike Pepperday
    January 8th, 2007 at 16:35 | #3

    DA

    In WA they don’t worry about public opinion.

    In the last 20 years or so, the govt held three referendums to introduce daylight saving. Got knocked back. Three times! But the present govt has introduced it.

    There was also a referendum to liberalise shopping hours. Also knocked back. I heard on the radio a day or two ago that the present minister (Eric Ripper) reckons they should be liberalised. I’d say they’ll just do it.

    And mine uranium too. The public view doesn’t matter.

  4. Mike Pepperday
    January 8th, 2007 at 16:41 | #4

    Here is an article about how climate change has caused civilization collapses

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2089-2534491,00.html

  5. January 8th, 2007 at 20:10 | #5

    The worst argument against the discounting rate in the Stern report ever:

    http://www.economist.com/debate/freeexchange/2007/01/righttodiscount.cfm

    John Quiggin is asked about his views on abortion in the process:

    “I found myself becoming very curious whether economists who support Sir Nicholas’s social discount rate of zero, such as econ bloggers John Quiggin and Brad DeLong, identify themselves as pro-choice or pro-life, and whether they had considered the Stern Report from this angle”

  6. Adrasteia
    January 8th, 2007 at 21:41 | #6

    How about we just turn off the coal plants and live in huts. Will that make us more like ‘adults’?

  7. gordon
    January 9th, 2007 at 09:00 | #7

    Angry Bear, a US economists’ blog, reprints an item on Iraq’s oil law from The Independent. Though I originally thought it was “all about oil�, I now admit two other motivations for the illegal US-forced invasion of Iraq: Israeli manipulation of the US Govt. and a desire (at the time, after the destruction of the World Trade Centre) to use a foreign war to unite the US behind Bush’s Presidency – a strategy which was very successful for a while. But these extra reasons don’t mean that oil wasn’t always important, as we see in these extracts from the Angry Bear post (Jan 7 2006):

    “Iraq’s massive oil reserves, the third-largest in the world, are about to be thrown open for large-scale exploitation by Western oil companies under a controversial law which is expected to come before the Iraqi parliament within days. The US government has been involved in drawing up the law, a draft of which has been seen by The Independent on Sunday. It would give big oil companies such as BP, Shell and Exxon 30-year contracts to extract Iraqi crude and allow the first large-scale operation of foreign oil interests in the country since the industry was nationalised in 1972…

    “Supporters say the provision allowing oil companies to take up to 75 per cent of the profits will last until they have recouped initial drilling costs. After that, they would collect about 20 per cent of all profits, according to industry sources in Iraq. But that is twice the industry average for such deals…�.

    (P.S. I have given the home page link to Angry Bear because the permalink gives a column too narrow to read comfortably. Just go to the indicated date and scroll down.)

  8. gordon
    January 9th, 2007 at 09:34 | #8

    Adrasteia, we don’t have to live in huts. The whole point of debates on global warming and resource usage is that money spent now on reducing fossil fuel usage is an investment – it will pay dividends in the future. I’m sure you wouldn’t argue against making investments, even if it means foregoing present consumption in order to consume more later. In other words, reducing fossil fuel usage isn’t synonymous with a forever-reduced standard of living.

    Prof. Quiggin has been making this point recently in several posts based on the Stern report, where he argues (in support of Stern) that required investments now are not excessive, given the future payoffs.

    And one of my favorite think-tanks, the Rocky Mountains Institute, has for years – long before Stern – been making this point in connection with energy efficiency at the firm level. Energy efficiency can have a big economic payoff, leading to more outputs for fewer inputs, which is certainly not “living in huts”. See for example their article “More Profit With Less Carbon” in Scientific American (2005). You might progress to their excellent book “Natural Capitalism” (Hawken, Lovins and Lovins, 1999)

  9. James Farrell
    January 10th, 2007 at 16:23 | #9

    John

    You might not have noticed that Saul Eslake has reopened the productivity surge debate.

    He thinks the pace of productivity growth has slackened because we waste too much labour these days on security and corporate governance. Of course he has put up this hypothesis before.

  10. Razor
    January 10th, 2007 at 20:52 | #10

    JQ – the Balance of Trade (BOT) trend continues to indicate a move into positive territory in the near future. Is the sky still falling due to foreign debt? Will a positive BOT mean that you will revise your Chicken Little position on foriegn debt??

  11. January 12th, 2007 at 08:18 | #11

    #9 On the pace of productivity growth, obviously it depends on the way you measure it, but apart from that, could it reflect the relatively low unemployment rate and the associated movement of less skilled workers into less productive parts of the economy. Thus the average production per worker could fall but everyone could be a lot better off at the same time.

  12. James Farrell
    January 12th, 2007 at 10:21 | #12

    That’s a factor, Rafe. Indeed Eslake mentions it.

    On th eother hand, it’s well known that in the business upswing producers raise their output faster than they take on new employees, driving the incumbent workers harder. However, this process of intensification reaches a limit, and in Australia that may have happened in the first years of this decade. To my knowledge, no one has seriously tried to quantify the importance of these tendencies.

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