Home > Regular Features > Weekend reflections

Weekend reflections

October 31st, 2008

It’s time (on time for once) for weekend reflections, which makes space for longer than usual comments on any topic. As always, civilised discussion and no coarse language.

Categories: Regular Features Tags:
  1. October 31st, 2008 at 15:27 | #1

    win or lose, obama has redefined the political process. he is incomparably in command of the mechanics of election. he may also know how to run the whitehouse and congress: on present information i can only say he is smart, a great practical psychologist, and so much in command of himself that he does not make enemies by accident or out of pique.

    but will he change america? fundamentally, no.

    superficially, yes. eight years of rational management will make a nice change. yet all his skills will be applied to a usa gutted financially by 50 years of militarism, and most recently by eight years of incompetence masked thinly by insanity. i predict that the summation of the obama years will be “he did well, considering what he had to work with.” but beijing, tokyo, and delhi will be the world’s leaders, when next the american people put the presidential revolver to the nation’s head, and spins the cylinder.

    i hope by then the almighty-praise-his-name-kevin07-and-always has broken the oz cart away from the washington juggernaut and found us a nice little possy near the arsehole of china.

  2. Father Mercy
    October 31st, 2008 at 18:30 | #2

    Interesting thoughts al. You can add an Academy Award/s to his achievements. Rumour around Hollywood is that his short film “I am Barack and I am here to help� that screened last night will receive up to six (6) nominations. Best screenplay and best actor are favourites at this stage.

  3. Damocles
    October 31st, 2008 at 22:32 | #3

    Hey everybody remember when the Federal government destroyed the solar industry in Australia by its changes to the solar power rebate?

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/10/31/2406954.htm

    Record numbers applying for solar rebate

    Posted 9 hours 20 minutes ago
    Updated 9 hours 21 minutes ago

    Households across New South Wales are taking to solar energy in record numbers.

    The Clean Energy Council figures show 800 solar panels were installed last year compared with about 300 in 2006.

    The Federal Government received an average of 120 applications for its solar rebate last year but it is now getting about 1,000 each week.

    The council’s Andrea Gaffney says the numbers of residential solar kits keeps increasing.

    “Between January and September of this year we’ve seen more than 1000 installations go in in New South Wales, so a significant increase in uptake in that particular market, which is extremely encouraging,” she said.

  4. November 1st, 2008 at 00:02 | #4

    Hi from the UK.

    Re the US election, here’s a thought experiment: say Obama goes into Tuesday with a 7/8/9 point lead in the polls – and loses. Which wouldn’t be impossible. If that happened, I reckon there would be significant and widespread black rioting across the US, and I think things could get very ugly very quickly. Here’s hoping it doesn’t.

    Anyway, pop into my blog and say hello.

    Best wishes,

    JM

  5. November 1st, 2008 at 06:59 | #5

    This is strange. I’m a Democrat now, but I became a Republican in 2000 to support McCain. I’m voting for Sen. Obama, even though he’s not my first pick on economics, for sure. I have to pray that he’s more to my taste than he appears. Having Sen. McCain be president wouldn’t have bothered me before this campaign began, but now I feel differently.

    Also, Douglas Holtz-Eakin was pretty good at CBO, and he has seemed way off of his game.

    So, on economics, it’s a wash, with a slight nod to Sen. Obama. But, on everything else, Sen. Obama is way better for my beliefs. I don’t know where Sen. McCain went, but somebody might want to check for pods.

  6. observa
    November 1st, 2008 at 09:42 | #6

    Farewell to Joe the Plumber and a big hello to Kathleen Casey-Kirschling for Obama USA now Don. Good luck and all the best!

  7. observa
    November 1st, 2008 at 09:55 | #7

    I came across pioneering Kathleen in ‘Call this a crisis? Just wait’ article by David Walker, ex US Comptroller General by the way. Perhaps McCain bumped into her in Maryland in his travels and decided the pod was the best option Don.

  8. El Mono
    November 1st, 2008 at 15:00 | #8

    Jonny i think you are over playing how important Obama is to african americans as well as underestimating black people.

  9. Hermit
    November 1st, 2008 at 17:37 | #9

    The uptake of solar panels despite means tested rebates could be because several States (alas not where I live) have generous feed-in tariffs. Other reasons could be despair over Rudd’s climate inaction on the ground and as a kind of new status symbol; bling bling silicon’s the thing. However I believe both Spain and Germany want to drop feed-in tariffs as a budgetary saving.

    In the US Duke Energy is talking about a financing model whereby the powerco rents roof space on private homes. Could be a good use for ETS money. Cheaper forms of the technology are also promised but not yet sighted. Note if Australia has 50 GW of installed electrical generation just to make 1% of that on a clear summer’s day would take a quarter million rooftop installations each around 2 kilowatts. Solar helps a smidgin but it is likely to remain an expensive unreliable sideshow.

  10. observa
    November 2nd, 2008 at 10:47 | #10

    The feed-in tariffs are critically important Hermit(64c/kwhr in SA with Truenergy chipping in 20c of that now), on top of around $9500 in subsidy and RECs for a 2kw system. The maxm subsidy is household(actually the owner/s on the title) income tested and not wealth tested(that would be the rael killer IMO) so my take is the baby boomers approaching retirement are power bill proofing their homes in great numbers now. Not sure whether salary sacrifice enters the picture here too but with one earner retired already or cashed up self funded retirees, the income test is probably marginal. Marginal for many of the self employed too. No doubt a quick survey would show up this measure largely as middle class, baby boomer welfare.

    You’re right about a taxpayer and billpayer, expensive unreliable sideshow. On an overcast day, and into mid-morning my 2kw max system can be producing only 150-200W. Not exactly bacon and eggs, toast and coffee stuff.

  11. observa
    November 2nd, 2008 at 11:01 | #11

    Oh and as a result I predict baby boomers, power bill proofing their homes will break a fast disappearing, Federal taxpayer piggy bank, so hop in for your chop quickly.

  12. Hermit
    November 2nd, 2008 at 14:56 | #12

    If wind and solar are the acceptable replacements for fossil fuels then we have a major timing problem. So much of the remaining fossil fuel energy needs to be invested in these low average yield technologies that unessential energy consumption would have to be seriously curtailed for a decade or more. This would have to happen much faster than envisioned under either a renewable energy target or the ETS. Thus our current path would seem to be attempted BAU followed by crisis, but nobody wants to do the serious belt tightening.

    I’d love 64c a kwh, I’m getting 15.6c.

  13. Ken
    November 2nd, 2008 at 18:54 | #13

    I don’t see solar and wind’s intermittency as being such a huge barrier to them being able to expand to where they supplant coal. Mass storage is certainly a big challenge but whether it’s Compressed air storage, or Molten salt no great breakthroughs in technology are required. As long as the coal is burning 24/7 there’s not much incentive to start, but not starting to lay the groundwork now is something we probably regret. Meanwhile HVDC can carry power great distances with low losses. Suitable cavern system for mass CAES, wind and solar farms and geothermal generation can be linked across the continent. Incremental change brought about by price intervention is all very well but I think we’ll still need a good portion of the visionary stuff. Like the Snowy Mountains Hydro was.

    Slight change of topic – does anyone think Turnbull’s do it later, do it better approach is genuine, or is it a continuation of the long running Lib-Nat deny and delay policy on climate change with the deny bit muted? Is there any fire in the bellies of members on that side of the House on this issue? Other than in opposition to any serious commitment.

  14. observa
    November 3rd, 2008 at 04:24 | #14

    “Slight change of topic”
    It’s an interesting one Ken. I think the Libs side of politics are really scratching their heads on environmental economic policy at present and have few real answers. That leaves a political vacuum into which is pouring all sorts of muddle headed brainfarts, more often than not, middle class pork dressed up in pretty green ribbons. I’ve discerned a general cynicism with ETS, although probably rightly so under the current circumstances, but in the absence of any real alternative paradigm, just run a bit scared, negative or reactionary. At the very least wait and see what mistakes the ROW makes. It’s not a good look and is probably a chief reason they’re in Opposition.

  15. BilB
    November 3rd, 2008 at 05:35 | #15

    Ken,

    Turnbull’s platform is clearly a “wait for me, do it with us, not them” plee. It is also a call for the Liberal faithful to make noise in support. However, it is also a clear statement that Turnbull’s beliefs are that solar is a waste of time, the answer in his mind is with the big industry nuclear and “carbon under rug” sequestration approach. Neither of which will be available for many years, “so what is the hurry”.

    At the very least he is showing a trend towards transparent leadership.

  16. Lord Sir Alexander “Dolly” Downer
    November 3rd, 2008 at 09:43 | #16

    I watched a bit of Rupert Murdoch’s first Boyer lecture last night. He is doubtless a brilliant businessman, but his insights about Australia were exceedingly banal, cliched, unimaginative and uninteresting.

    All the depth of an Australian editorial, actually.

  17. Socrates
    November 3rd, 2008 at 10:25 | #17

    A question to any finance experts present:

    The fund management sector is calling on the government to help them:
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/11/03/2408374.htm?section=justin

    My question is – apart from the issue of retirees not able to access their funds, is this sector really essential to the economy?

    There has been a proliferation of “investment vehicles� in recent years, some explicitely designed to avoid normal reporting rules. As long as banks can supply capital to the economy is the operation of these other funds essential?

  18. Damocles
    November 3rd, 2008 at 10:59 | #18

    Socrates – the problem is that so long as these funds are frozen there’s a possibility that they’ll be forced to dump assets at distressed prices. That pulls the entire market down and creates uncertainty which discourages investment.

  19. observa
    November 3rd, 2008 at 13:35 | #19

    “At the very least he is showing a trend towards transparent leadership.”

    Bilb and Ken, those of us who believe in sensibly constituted ‘free’ markets are somewhat despairing of any leadership from the Libs, opaque or transparent at present. At the risk of offending the host again I offer the following typical example of the economic depths to which the Libs have sunk. I offer it graciously, knowing full well it will at least bring a wide smile to the faces of left/Labor people everywhere, so perhaps John will allow me to indulge them all this once, bearing in mind he has some considerable interest in things wet-
    http://www.news.com.au/adelaidenow/story/0,22606,24588797-2682,00.html?from=public_rss
    Perhaps the tears rolling down Labor people’s cheeks offer us all some equally tangential solution. Any Libs wishing to defend such policy in the article’s comments should feel free, but I should forewarn them that I still have a couple of octaves above scathing.

  20. Andrew
    November 3rd, 2008 at 13:40 | #20

    Are you folks down there a bit leery of this (I know I would be):

    “AUSTRALIA will join China in implementing mandatory censoring of the internet under plans put forward by the Federal Government.

    The revelations emerge as US tech giants Google, Microsoft and Yahoo, and a coalition of human rights and other groups unveiled a code of conduct aimed at safeguarding online freedom of speech and privacy.

    The government has declared it will not let internet users opt out of the proposed national internet filter.

    The plan was first created as a way to combat child pornography and adult content, but could be extended to include controversial websites on euthanasia or anorexia. “

  21. Crispin Bennett
    November 3rd, 2008 at 13:59 | #21

    #20. Andrew, there’s lots of disquiet about it amongst IT (and no doubt some political) circles, but I don’t think it’s generating much public heat yet. I’m more than just leery, finding it a risible policy idea; unfortunately it’s also dangerous. If it goes ahead, watch for Tor and similar to get their biggest usage boost yet. There’s a bit of a way to go yet though.

  22. November 3rd, 2008 at 14:50 | #22

    Dolly, about the Boyer:

    I haven’t seen anyone else comment about how he praised his new ‘green’ climate change initiative at news: “eye degree”, or “I degree” perhaps. He managed to correctly quote the slogan but mucked up the name spectacularly.

  23. November 3rd, 2008 at 15:09 | #23

    kevin censor the web? our kev? like china?

    i’m not sure what you mean about disquiet, crispin. is it like cattle milling around in a paddock due to a dingo getting through the fence? that’s the usual level of ozzian political disquiet.

    i have lived in china, and the similarities in political structures are striking.it’s true that ‘our’ party is superficially fragmented, but take my word, this is purely related to egotism, every pollie wants to be head of his party, however small. but there is a wider range of political principle in china, by far. and the chinese people play the same role in politics as ozzies: none in both cases.

    we are ruled by the politician’s guild, and while they are a backward lot down here, they have grasped the desirability of censorship. people who worry about porn but not dictatorship will provide the figleaf behind which saint kevin will save ozzies from being exposed to too much reality.

    i wish it mattered. alas, ozzies are neutered shortly after birth and will do what they’re told. it could hardly be otherwise, in a society without citizen initiative. indeed, without citizens. they remain subjects of ‘er majesty at law, tax cattle of the pollies guild in reality.

    i am no ones i. t. expert, but the point of censorship is not just blocking information. it makes criminals of anyone who resists government orthodoxy, just like sedition laws. even if expert users can penetrate blocks, expert government agents can track and jail those who resist censorship.

  24. Michael of Summer Hill
    November 3rd, 2008 at 15:54 | #24

    John, if I may reply to al loomis by saying you might be interested to know that part of Obama’s future vision for the USA is to go green and create some 5 million plus new jobs. Now going off on a tangent I thought of sticking with a couple of local hopes Littorio and Viewed in the Melbourne Cup after the colonials routed or is it rooted the pommies in the World Cup.

  25. November 3rd, 2008 at 17:18 | #25

    al loomis,
    Careful – if you get too suspicious of government activity you may become a libertarian. Don’t worry, though. I think you have enough trust in them to give them more power than they currently have. Surely this is just more regulation?
    Still, you could always join the facebook group.

  26. Ken
    November 4th, 2008 at 06:24 | #26

    I can’t help but think (and they’ve done nothing to make me think differently), that mostly the Lib-Nats don’t think climate change is a big deal, that they have more confidence in the IPCC’s very unlikly possibility that recent climate change isn’t anthropogenic than it’s very likely that it is conclusions, ie preferring to take their cues the losers of the climate science debate than the winners.

    I’m not convinced that Rudd’s policies are good enough to meet this global challenge – more like convinced they aren’t – but a Lib-Nat non-policy is far worse.

  27. November 4th, 2008 at 09:32 | #27

    andrew, i was a libertarian when i was 14, but i grew up. now i am willing to admit there are other human beings who must be consulted about social activities.

    democracy is how you do it, once you have discovered you don’t know everything and are better off by letting everyone have a vote on what needs to be done, and how to do it.

    i lost faith in governments in ’67, when mine, at the time, carpet-bombed cambodian rice farmers as an election ploy. once you realize that pollies draw on the same talent pool as serial killers there is no lack of evidence that any government is a crime. the point of democracy is that there is no government, just clerks doing what they are told, in public. the reason libertarians aren’t democrats is either prolonged adolescence, or solipsism. i hope you’re not old enough to vote.

Comments are closed.