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Monday message board

May 7th, 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. May 7th, 2007 at 18:29 | #1

    It is good to see that there is a new paperback edition of the definitive study of the origins and evolution of racial segregation (apartheid) in South Africa.

    http://www.mises.org/store/Economics-of-the-Colour-Bar-The-P397C29.aspx

    And this is an extended summary of the book. http://www.the-rathouse.com/Revivalist4/WH_ColourBar.html

  2. wmmbb
    May 7th, 2007 at 19:53 | #2

    Ross Gittins, in the Sydney Morning Herald, makes the obvious point that Work Choices is class warfare. Perhaps class conflict, is part of the inevitable market failure of the rampant capitalism, including treating the environment as an externality.

    Given the dollar values involved in private equity buyouts it is easy to see why both employees and the environment would be easily cast aside. Perhaps Qantas got lucky. It is ironical, if not a dialectical paradox, that the source of much of this money comes from pension funds.

  3. wmmbb
    May 7th, 2007 at 20:02 | #3

    Oops should have tested the links before posting. Ross Gittens should be here, from the SHM Business Day. Private equity buyouts should be here, from ABC Rear Vision.

  4. SJ
    May 7th, 2007 at 22:16 | #4

    Over on The Big Picture, I came across an interesting story. Barry just gave a cryptic link: According to Einstein, we’ve got a little over 4 years.

    The link goes to a blog by David Byrne (as in, Talking Heads, big suit David Byrne).

    Byrne quotes Einstein as follows:

    If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.

    Apparently, there’s been a major die off of honeybees in the US.

    Byrne suspects that this is a plot by genetically modified (GM) crop makers to prevent the spread of the GM genes by honeybees to people who haven’t paid for the GM seed. He worries that he might be a conspiracy nut.

    Byrne isn’t a nut, he’s just not well enough informed. He hasn’t heard about the GM crops that manufacture their own insecticide (see Appendix 2).

    The smart-arse Yanks may well have accidentally discovered a way of wiping out their own agriculture sector altogether. Bet that’ll help with their trade deficit.

  5. observa
    May 8th, 2007 at 13:31 | #5

    Yes I think Lateline covered the dying bee story last night sj.

    Speaking of measures to ameliorate global warming, it would seem to me a good idea to define the upper bounds of our ability to use carbon taxing completely to solve the problem.(as distinct from quantity control measures like Kyoto) After all, it’s logical that the upper bound of any carbon tax regime, would be the level at which it totally replaced all other present forms of taxation, unless of course we decided to lift the overall level for international transfers to achieve more GW amelioration elsewhere. eg with the Howard govts reafforestation measures in Indonesia and the like. In other words, what sort of theoretical maximum impact could a developed economy like ours expect from carbon taxing alone, from which we could work backwards, or indeed assess whether a taxing regime could possibly achieve say a 60% reduction in Co2 emissions from 1990 levels.

    We certainly have the ability to gather data on the total level of taxation from all forms of govt now and presumably with so many Kyoto advocates about, an equal ability to add up our total fossil fuel use as well(in all its forms) The arithmetic after that should be quite simple to work out what sort of maximum carbon pricing that would entail(allowing for some technical comparison of CO2 emissions per therm of energy released by coal, oil, gas, etc and adjusting their pollutant tax rate per tonne, barrell, etc accordingly) That should tell us what a KW of electricity, or a litre of petrol would cost under our theoretical maximum regime and what kind of market demand responses we might expect. Has there been any research done on this is my question and if not, why not? The limits of policy would seem to be quite important in answering the price/quantity conundrum of measures.

  6. gordon
    May 8th, 2007 at 21:18 | #6

    Thanks for the Gittens link, WMMBB. I liked this part: “Much of the political commentators’ attack on Labor’s plan to abolish AWAs seems built on the assumption that, if a policy change is made by a Liberal government and applauded by business, it must be good for the economy. I suppose if you don’t actually know much economics, that’s the best analysis you can do”.

    Gittens is quite right; the only economic indicators most people look at are the All Ordinaries and interest rates. The Govt. seems to be doing its best to ensure the All Ords. rises forever by shovelling in taxpayers money via the Future Fund and now the education endowment. I suppose it never occurs to them that such artificial inflation of an index is a bit, well, artificial.

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