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Monday Message Board

July 7th, 2008

It’s time once again for the Monday Message Board. Please post your thoughts on any topic. Civilised discussion and no coarse language, please.

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  1. observa
    July 7th, 2008 at 13:03 | #1

    Now where did we leave our lonely knight errant, the early scribblings of his Magna Carta ensconced close to his heart beneath his battered breastplate, writ for the serf’s protection against the depredations of the King and all his hybrids. Or was it their man of La Mancha musing over a welcome around that splendid table at Camelot? Hmmm…now where was he? Oh yes, picturing that curtain rising on the big opening scene- where the left greens, big corporate money and public servants of central bank fame(the lawyers come later) are all hand in hand together, dancing ring-a-rosy around their bubbling cauldron of cap and trade, all chanting incantations from the same book of spells. No hint of the sulphurous fumes of foreboding from the cooking fire in their nostrils, just the sweet smell of anticipation for their heady brew in the offing. Meanwhile the paying Observa and the plebs in the stalls can all rest easy that they’re not in for a ripping bout of tragedy. More bubble, trouble and toil methinks. Just like those 70s films where you come out thoroughly depressed and are supposed to prattle on intelligently about how deep and cleansing the whole unnecessary experience was. Still, if it’s looming tragedy these unappreciative trogs are worried about there’s always something lighter down the road, like mulling over some pictures of underage girls, but not on their home computers of course. Setting and company are everything it seems and leave farce strictly to the experts. Hmmm…bang goes the red carpet treatment in Camelot oh tarnished and unredeemable one.

    Speaking of expert farce, there’s none better than the notion that 60% (or is it 90% now?) reductions in fossil fuels, but not oil perhaps, by whenever we can manage it, will not have serious ramifications for the size of our material pie, be it a hot pie or merely a lukewarm one. Makes you wonder why all those Indians and Chinese don’t get the bleeding obvious right now doesn’t it? Perhaps we’ll have to check out their average IQs with John Ray or some such, although it’s possible I missed all that exemplary, 2 or 3% low hanging fruit reductions we’ve produced already in an altruistic frenzy, immediately our new king signed on to Kyoto and showed us the light and the way. Can anybody help slow old me, the Chinese and Indians out on that one? Perhaps some econometric modelling and a bit of seasonal adjusting can extract the hidden picture for us all here.

    No, for mine we’re going to have to talk about shares in our reconstructed constitutional marketplace (CM) and I don’t mean the ones the Observa will be buying in the Origins and AGLs, etc should current farce prevail. (no sense in the recently solarised O and his small patch missing out on all that certainty and getting in on the ground floor if that’s the way it must be eh?). In the meantime, back to those real shares and sharing the burden in a world of shrinking material wealth and production to facilitate the new imperative, albeit a somewhat extremely narrow one you’ll notice. Biodiversity and the protection and creation of natural environment seemingly lost among all the froth and bubble of our alternative crusaders.

    With a CM consisting only of carbon and resource taxing (including land use), it might be assumed that some added equity in the form of a progressive wealth tax would be superfluous. However a wealth tax would be necessary largely on two counts. Firstly much pre-existing wealth has been built upon the pyramid of past fossil fuel use and secondly there are intergenerational issues to consider with that same wealth and its consequences. Also the need to shrink material consumption drastically in the here and now for overall environmental concerns will no doubt require some stronger redistribution politically than our simpler model. That said an annual net wealth tax (ANWT) should be added with strong penalties for under-reporting wealth at market or insured value, whichever is the greater. Basically all private wealth must have a transparent owner, or else the lucky finder can share half of it with the ATO, a bit like salvage rights. Finders keepers and absent minded losers weepers. Essentially an ANWT would be scaled and a deeming rate applied, probably payable quarterly like PAYG is now. Clearly it would have a threshold and need to be scaled for stage of life-cycle (ie 18yr old cf 65 yr old wealth), but wealth holders should be able to spread it over their children and any other amenable adult should they all choose transparently. That would be taken into account for social security purposes, much like assets testing now. Our new environmental economy will require a positive outlook on ANWT payers, even to the point of giving them their own Brownlow count night. You know, Treasurer announces this years winner is Lachlan Rupert Packer the Third to much national applause. The silvertails love that kind of thing, as well as paying inflated prices for average food and drink naturally. If you think wealth is somehow secret person’s business, you’ll need to re-acquaint yourself with the fact that most of us will have to declare it sometime in our lifetime for SS purposes and it’s what we demand of our leaders now. The quid pro quo for the wealthy and aspiring here, is the complete abolition of income tax and all its administrative burdens. Keeping track of what we own and what it’s worth is simple and automatic to all of us here and now. I’ll stress right here that this is the fundamental compromise for left and right, that they don’t get something for nothing in an overall CM that will unleash inexorable market forces to propel all toward a better environmental future. That’s the payoff for them both, if the former, simpler beginning wasn’t enough by itself. To understand the big payoff here we’re going to have to bring John Locke up to date with current circumstances and more on that later. Meanwhile you might like to ponder how wealth for tithing is not as black and white as it might seem at first glance, albeit I wouldn’t entertain taxing inherent human wealth or say trademark or patent wealth. I’d put them in the too hard basket and leave it for when it’s finally transformed into measurable, material wealth. After all it’s the per capita command of the natural environment that is of prime importance for the future here.

  2. Ian Gould
    July 7th, 2008 at 13:29 | #2

    Two quick questions

    1. does anyone hear actually read Observa’s logorrheic discharges?

    2. If so, why?

  3. Ken Miles
    July 7th, 2008 at 14:04 | #3

    Some random questions about economics:

    * What implications does the recent rise in oil and commodities prices have for Julian Simons theories?

    * Over the long term our standard of living, at least as far as I can tell, will be strongly determined by the development and diffusion of new technologies. How well does economics handle long term technology change? ie. is it well known what drives technology change?

    * Economics often works by attaching a value to something. For example, a species may be worth $XXX (which is product of things like it potential of offer new drugs, it’s usefulness as a domestic animal etc). It strikes me that the utility of this approach breaks down in the case of extinctions. If the land which which a rare Amazonian slug lives on is worth more as farmland then we should convert the jungle to farmland and bye bye slug. However, should the relative values change, then we don’t have the option of getting the slug back. Does the above make sense, or am I missing something?

  4. O6
    July 7th, 2008 at 14:12 | #4

    Observa said, we’re going to have to bring John Locke up to date with current circumstances and more on that later.

    Can’t wait.

  5. Smiley
    July 7th, 2008 at 14:15 | #5

    I’ve come to the conclusion that observa is either unemployed, or uses some sort of automated tool to generate copious amounts of text. If it was a bit shorter and to the point with good paragraph spacing, I might be inclined to read it.

  6. Timothy Scriven
    July 7th, 2008 at 15:11 | #6

    I would like to register my disgust at recent WYD laws and note that it is the duty of every citizen to buy or make offensive T-shirts. You can make one by printing something and attaching it to a T-shirt. You can buy one from any of numerous stores.

  7. observa
    July 7th, 2008 at 15:51 | #7

    I give them fair warning of early scribblings and meanderings and that’s the thanks I get. If nothing else Ian, while you’re off soaring with the Al Gores in private jets, above it all with the really big picture stuff and making the international community more aware, I give you some small insight into we insular, island mortals and what you’re up against. Again where’s the gratitude I ask?
    Of course Ian knows that it would be silly to communally levy a tax on wealth held communally, but the clear privately owned stuff should be. Now he’s going to tell us how to deal with the grey stuff, like private schools, churches or mosques and the like that many have access to, or can rent occasionally at less than market rates perhaps? Should they all be allocated to the current members/users/managers for ANWT purposes Ian, seeing as how they enjoy the private benefit of that immediate wealth? If we do allocate it for ANWT purposes, should those owners be given a tax credit(like current company franking credits) if some of its income stream is deemed used for communal purposes? Anyone care to help Ian out if he’s too busy with the international Gods?

  8. observa
    July 7th, 2008 at 15:56 | #8

    Good idea Timothy. I’ve got the perfect Toon T-Shirt for you to pop around to the Lakemba Mosque and make your morally pressing point about it all.

  9. Smiley
    July 7th, 2008 at 16:32 | #10

    Observa, I’m not trying to be critical, but, if I had a conversation with you and it transcribed to the way you blog, an annoying little question would be going off in my head: Are you for real?

  10. July 7th, 2008 at 16:36 | #11

    And there is also a very good article about the laws here:

    http://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=7930

  11. July 7th, 2008 at 17:58 | #12

    Hack again?!

  12. swio
    July 7th, 2008 at 18:45 | #13

    Observa,

    I refer you to:

    Weekend reflections

    By jquiggin | June 28, 2008

    It’s time once again for weekend reflections.Feel free to write at greater length than for a standard comment thread. As always, civilised discussion and no coarse language.

    A 1000+ word count essay is a little bit much for a Monday evening. Having said that I do normally read your posts. They have the frustrating habit of being (often) quite intelligent while also disagreeing with me.

    But they are exceedingly long and numerous. A good writer can make his point with a word, a bad one needs a paragraph. Perhaps its time to focus on improving the writing to match the quality of the thoughts.

  13. observa
    July 7th, 2008 at 19:12 | #14

    Yeah swio, but John didn’t have Weekend Reflections so I took a liberty here. They are big macro issues and it’s easy to wander. I’ll kick you lot of the habit of wandering off track internationally yet.

    The crux of it is will we need wealth taxing and if so should all wealth be allocated ie sheeted home to individuals, or should the wealthy be able to hire/borrow Timbertop for the kids on the cheap from some shadowy, fuzzy, grey trust? Ditto with the Churches, Saudi Wahhabbist investments anfd the like. We do see some occasional turf wars over just such an issue from time to time.

  14. Alan
    July 7th, 2008 at 19:30 | #15

    Observa

    Please, PLEASE, read this.
    http://www.apa.org/journals/features/psp7761121.pdf

  15. observa
    July 7th, 2008 at 20:46 | #16

    Man of La Mancha it is then Alan? I note I’m in good company after the 7.30 Report showed around 3/4 of my compatriots believe ‘we’ have to do something about AGW, and over 1/2 believe it should be an ETS, but around the same number reckon it shouldn’t impact their power or fuel bills. Perhaps consider me as expert as a central banker then, the results of which are coming to a world economy near you soon. That should make for some more interesting experts no doubt.

  16. observa
    July 7th, 2008 at 20:53 | #17

    Bearing in mind only around 7% of them reckoned they actually knew what an ETS was of course.

  17. observa
    July 7th, 2008 at 21:29 | #18

    Pssst..hey Alan, I reckon they’re getting down to the nitty gritty of what ETS are all about if you tune in to JQ’s next entry. Sooner or later the ETS fans have to come up with their product, rather than just the ad campaign, or perhaps what Penny Wong refers to as ‘ambition’ nowadays ;)

  18. Jill Rush
    July 7th, 2008 at 22:06 | #19

    We have a Senate Committee which after months of deliberation decided that there is nothing to be done about stopping the Advertising industry from promoting products by the sexualisation of children.

    The PM and the Leader of the Opposition say nothing – there are no phrases such as disgusting rolling off their lips in connection with that trade.

    We have an editor of an Arts magazine with a limited circulation now bringing the establishment down on the heads of the art world. The media makes sure that images the PM describes as “disgusting” are circulated far and wide just in case those of us who don’t read
    Arts magazines fail to know what this self confected furore is about.

    The leader of the Opposition, who wasn’t at all concerned about the advertising industry whose products are seen in many, many public places, calling for rules to stop those naughty artists.

    It would be dangerous to take on a group which has power such as the advertisers or media proprietors though. The artists in comparison are such an easy target and the media proprietors are happy to join in. Political heaven. Being able to look and sound concerned without having to do anything and without any personal cost. Save us from the purse lipped people.

  19. July 9th, 2008 at 09:48 | #20

    “One of the things important about history is to remember the true history.”
    – George W. Bush

  20. CL Nash
    July 12th, 2008 at 03:53 | #21

    Greetings, I have a blogging question. Can you email me off-list?

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