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Monday Message Board

December 8th, 2008

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

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  1. Syd Lambrick
    December 8th, 2008 at 14:35 | #1

    John, This week marks the 25 anniversary of the $A float. Perhaps a review is worthy of discussion (announced 9th December, 1983 and effective from 12 December, 1983).

  2. Dave
    December 8th, 2008 at 19:21 | #2

    I’ve been reading the global warming deniers. Finally I’ve been converted to their cause. Accordingly, I would like to send the following, perhaps we could forward it to prominent deniers to seek their support.

    To :
    The Artic Ice
    The North Pole
    Planet Earth

    Dear Arctic Ice,

    Please stop melting at once. Its clear that human caused global warming is a fraud cooked up by ‘The Scientists’ and the chattering class socialists. Your continued self melting is an obvious fraud, and we, the undersigned, demand that you stop.


    (insert names of usual suspects here)

  3. observa
    December 8th, 2008 at 20:17 | #3

    Perhaps Dave we’ve already signed up with that Bob Brown of US politics, Ralph Nader(no offence Ralph). You can read all about his C-change in the WSJ Opinion Journal titled- ‘We Need a Global Carbon Tax’ summarised neatly in his first paragraph thus-
    ‘If President Barack Obama wants to stop the descent toward dangerous global climate change, and avoid the trade anarchy that current approaches to this problem will invite, he should take Al Gore’s proposal for a carbon tax and make it global. A tax on CO2 emissions — not a cap-and-trade system — offers the best prospect of meaningfully engaging China and the U.S., while avoiding the prospect of unhinged environmental protectionism.’

    Ditto with eschewing that ‘unhinged environmental protectionism’ down under eh Dave?

    Interestingly enough I see China is contemplating a retail fuel tax, although they’ve just devalued the Yuan which may be a prelude to the competitive, ‘beggar thy neighbour’ devaluations of the 30s all over again. No doubt Bailout Business in the US will be eagerly looking for any excuse to return the favour in troubled times, unless wiser heads prevail. That’s Nader’s point essentially.

  4. scott
    December 8th, 2008 at 22:50 | #4

    Dear Prof Quiggin,

    I was reading through Ken Henry’s Tax Review introduction via Peter Martin’s blog and was wondering what your opinion on this might be.

    With all this talk of economic models, architecture etc, I was wondering if you had anything interesting to say about how we should be taxing Australians in the future.

    My feeling is that the information revolution presents some real possibilities. Integration of systems of Local, State and Commowealth government taxation with real time information allows for unbelievable transparancy.

    It is all about saving the environment, ala UK Green Fiscal Commission, carbon has a dollar value, whiz bang Bob’s your uncle. Ok, I’m no economist, but that’s about the sophistication of current models from my limited reading.

    Or would it be a mistake for local, state and Commowealth to all have vested interests in taking as much carbon out of the atmosphere as possible? Can you give me some encouragement that radiative forcing incentives might be uncorrelated to revenue raising efforts in a 21st century nation.

    I guess in the land, capital, labour conception of a tax base, the land is poorly represented at the macro level. Given it’s capacity to derive income from atmospheric sequestration ala market theory, perhaps the linkage is exactly what all levels of government really need in Australia and around the Earth.

  5. December 8th, 2008 at 23:50 | #5

    “Believers” in global warming would be more accurate than “deniers”

    I’ve actually met one (believer), they ain’t exactly got it all together up top.

  6. Alan
    December 9th, 2008 at 06:51 | #6

    Ah-ha, 4. satp, I get it at last. Now, let’s see, if I can find one (and I only need one) loony who is convinced global warming is not happening … that proves … (frowns, squints, scratches back of head) … YES! Got it! One loony who says global warming is not happening proves it is happening! Hey, this science stuff is a lot easier than it looks!

  7. Dave
    December 9th, 2008 at 10:19 | #7

    Steve-at-the-pub, do I have your permission to add you to the petition? – I think your name will carry a lot of weight with the arctic ice. Please get back to me asap.

  8. Nick K
    December 9th, 2008 at 10:26 | #8

    The Rudd government’s economic management credentials must surely be destroyed by now.

    It was only around six months ago that the government was still claiming that inflation was out of control, that the Howard government had contributed by spending too much money, and that substantial fiscal discipline was needed. Yet now the government has launched one of the biggest giveaway bonanzas ever witnessed.

    Indeed, it wasn’t long ago that the government was accusing the opposition of economic vandalism for jeopardising around $4 billion worth of the budget surplus. Yet not long after that the government then decides to raid the surplus to the tune of $10 billion.

    While it is true that the economic situation globally has deteriorated substantially since then, it was still clear earlier in the year that a global slowdown was a bigger threat than inflation.

    The other issue is that inflation is still as high now as it was earlier in the year. So it’s hard to see how inflation can go from being an evil threat then to something that can be largely ignored now.

    For a government that set reducing inflation as its core economic objective to then fail to even reduce inflation in the context of slowing growth and economic confidence is a remarkable policy failure.

  9. observa
    December 9th, 2008 at 10:54 | #9

    Research by scientists under the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program just presented to the UN shows that Arctic melt is more complex than many have led us to believe. These scientists now believe black carbon or soot, tropospheric ozone and methane, may have the same warming effect on the Arctic as carbon dioxide over the past century. In particular black carbon is the result of bushfires, agricultural burnoff and millions of wood cooking fires, as well as older industrial plant.

    Clearly these are unpleasant facts and present problematic tradeoffs for CO2 cap and trade fans, on top of the growing reservations about protectionism and more derivative trading rorts by C-changers like Nader. Whilst there are many advantages in a quantum shift to resource taxation including fossil fuel taxation, the science of AGW is clearly still in its infancy, but that’s being deliberately overlooked now by the financial and rent-seeking industries as they sense some cheap carbon credit in the offing from over-emotional suckers only too willing to sign up. I don’t need the consumer advocate Naders to tell me the fine print sucks.

  10. Jim Birch
    December 9th, 2008 at 12:20 | #10

    Seriously, Nick? I think you need to advance your own thinking a little. Political parties are in the business of getting elected. The people who elect them are systematically (ie, not randomly) wrong on economic issues. Therefore, the best you can expect from a government is to do a bit of what they said they would while maintaining good economic management. On the plus side, a lot of people these days are willing to admit that economic management is for experts and choose their government for perceived competence rather that specific policies.

    I don’t know if you are claiming that you knew what the economy had in store and they should have, or, if you just haven’t noticed that the world economy is undergoing a massive upheaval and a lot of received wisdom is being thrown out the door, but let me spell it out: Last year’s inflation targets have moved down everyone’s list of priorities, except yours.

  11. Ubiquity
    December 9th, 2008 at 13:06 | #11

    Three articles of interest to those of us located on the “right” side of the “political” spectrum.

    Environmentalism or Individualism?
    by Robert James Bidinotto


    Public Schools and Social Security: Killing America, Part I


    Satire: An Open Letter to Mr. Al Gore


    Question: does being a “Denier” make me an enemy of the state.

    PS: had a chat to the arctic ice and “she” was saying she had seen it all before and was quietly confident one day the Arctic Ice would return particularly as the sunspots had now dissapeared. She had also clarified this with Mother Earth particulalry after Al’s video ” An Inconvenient Truth ” had terrified her to the point she actually cracked and ice shelf.

  12. nanks
    December 9th, 2008 at 13:42 | #12

    Now that Bush has gone ‘Deniers’ will be in much the same position as those who believe in ‘Intelligent design’. The odd bit of mischief but essentially unimportant.

  13. Socrates
    December 9th, 2008 at 14:19 | #13

    I find the use of the term “believers” applied to global warming a rather disingenuous and hypocritical tactic. It is based on physical science capable of empirical confirmation or not. The decline in Murray River inflows is not just in my imagination. Further, does this “belief” in science meme mean I am merely a “believer” in electricity and other results of physical science? Does the light bulb only work if I have faith in it? I think there is good reason to believe.

    There is a lot more evidence for global warming than for many aspects of economics held by “true believers”. I am unapologetically an atheist as far as efficient market theories and economic forecasting are concerned. Believers in those things seem to have great psychological difficulty in giving up their beliefs, even as current events reduce them to objects of ridicule. Meanwhile they desperately need to attack global warming after reading some convuluted string of mis-quotes dreamt up by a few lobbyists paid by Exxon. They don’t fool the average high school student.

  14. December 9th, 2008 at 14:38 | #14

    Socrates, my whole life there has been a religion of one sort or another, followed by both the pot smoking/street protesting crowd, and the doctor’s wives mob.

    Roughly the gospels were revealed to the masses in the following order:

    Impending nuclear annhilation, followed by;
    Ozone Layer Hole, followed by;
    Global Warming. (followed by TBA)

    As a disinterested non-adherent non-tither to the religion of whatever-is-making-the-sky-fall-this-week I may have missed a gospel or two.

    It’ll take more than a new testament being written for this religion before I’ll become a “believer” in the apocalypse scenario for this decade.

  15. nanks
    December 9th, 2008 at 14:47 | #15

    What’s your PhD in ‘Steve at the Pub’? Did you end up as a research scientist or something else? Or do you follow the tradition of dis-believing the ‘so-called experts’. That’s been a popular religion for a while.

  16. Dave
    December 9th, 2008 at 16:15 | #16

    So, Steve-at-the-Pub and Ubiquity, do I have your permission to add your names to the petition to the Arctic Ice? I really need your support here, I think your views will carry a lot of weight.

    Also, I’m preparing a seperate petition to the laws of physics (which also seem to be behind this ‘climate change’ conspiracy). I’d like to also add your names to that as well.

    Is ths ok guys?

  17. Ubiquity
    December 9th, 2008 at 16:16 | #17

    Browsing the following site


    I came across the fact that the PMI had fallen for the sixth consecutive month:

    “Manufacturing activity fell for a sixth month in a row in November.
    ? The seasonally adjusted Australian Industry
    Group-PricewaterhouseCoopers Australian PMI® fell solidly, by
    7.7 points to 32.7, well below the 50 point mark separating
    expansion from contraction. This represents a second consecutive
    new low for the series since it was begun in 1992”

    It clearly suggests that we are in a recession and yet the deniers won’t admit to it (at least out loud in case it spooks the markets).

    On a personal note, as I sit here administering an insolvent business, I notice customers entering cashed up with welfare cheques loyally doing the states work by spending the money as instructed only to find the stock is uanvailable. So they head of to the next shop. The dilemma of course is that if enough businesses inventories are down on last year, then intuitively it would mean that consumers will pay more for the right to buy the goods they choose. Diagnosis inflation.

    In the context of the $10b stimulus package this is bad news, if your broke well your broke if your cashed up like the welfare “elite” you will spend, after all you were summoned by the state to do a job, the only problem is goods will cost more because demand is greater than supply. (yes simple economics).

    That $10b could be worth $12B in the right hands or $8B in the wrong hands. Of course in the hands of the state or the banks their magical instrument could generate trillions.

    Is their something I’m missing in this laymans economic analysis or is this stimulus package clearly not the best means of investing the budget surplus.

  18. December 9th, 2008 at 16:22 | #18

    Dave, I’ll require more than you typing on this page that there is “melting arctic ice” before I throw sanity to the wind & sign up to some faith-based cult.

    If there is some melting ice in the arctic, my opinion sure ain’t needed to handle the matter.

    Some of these believers ought to get out more. There are no shortage of people who know there is no such thing as global warming. There are indeed people who believe, but after the kooks & the dumbos are extracted, there ain’t many believers remaining.

  19. Dave
    December 9th, 2008 at 16:27 | #19

    Dear ‘Steve-at-the-Pub’ : I really fully agree with you. Its obvious that Global Warming isn’t happening, and the melting arctic ice is just melting itself out of spite. Hence the strongly worded petition, which I also want to send to the laws of physics, (which have also been playing a devious role into tricking people into thinking global warming is real).

    Now, I really really need your support, (along with the Australian newspaper and the Institute of Public Affairs). Can I have it, to add your name to the petitions?

  20. Ubiquity
    December 9th, 2008 at 16:29 | #20

    Dave, “brother” I will submit to this important cause as long as the polar bears are part of the deal.

  21. Ubiquity
    December 9th, 2008 at 16:36 | #21

    and of course Santa

  22. BilB
    December 10th, 2008 at 06:42 | #22

    In case no one has heard this:

    One sunny day in January, 2009 an old man approached the White House
    > from Across Pennsylvania Avenue, where he’d been sitting on a park
    > bench. H spoke to the U.S. Marine standing guard and said, ‘I would
    > like to go in and meet with President Bush.’
    > The Marine looked at the man and said, ‘Sir, Mr. Bush is no longer
    > president and no longer resides here.’
    > The old man said, ‘Okay’, and walked away.
    > The following day, the same man approached the White House and said to
    > the same Marine, ‘I would like to go in and meet with President Bush.’
    > The Marine again told the man, ‘Sir, as I said yesterday, Mr. Bush is
    > no longer president and no longer resides here.’
    > The man thanked him and, again, just walked away.
    > The third day, the same man approached the White House and spoke to the
    > very same U.S. Marine, saying ‘I would like to go in and meet with
    > President Bush.’
    > The Marine, understandably agitated at this point, looked at the man
    > and said, ‘Sir, this is the third day in row you have been here asking
    > to speak to Mr. Bush. I’ve told you already that Mr. Bush is no longer
    > the president and no longer resides here. Don’t you understand?’
    > The old man looked at the Marine and said, ‘Oh, I understand. I just
    > love hearing it.’
    > The Marine snapped to attention, saluted, and said, ‘See you tomorrow,
    > Sir.’

  23. BilB
    December 10th, 2008 at 07:27 | #23

    I don’t know how real this is. It did come from a relative who is an ex cop.


    Tel +61(0) 7 32221347
    Ext 17347 Fax +61(0) 7 32221219

    Emails with pictures of Osama Bin-Laden
    Hanged are being sent and the moment that you open these
    Emails your computer will crash and you will not be able
    To fix it!
    If you get an email along the lines of ‘Osama
    Bin Laden Captured’
    Or ‘Osama Hanged’ don’t open the
    This e-mail is being distributed through countries
    Around the globe …
    Be considerate & send
    This warning to whomever you know.

    You should be alert during the next
    Do not open any message with an attached filed called

    ‘Invitation’ regardless of who sent it.
    It is
    A virus that opens an Olympic Torch which ‘burns’ the whole
    Hard disc C of your computer. /span>

    This virus
    Will be received from someone who has your e-mail address in
    His/her contact list, that is why you should send this e-mail
    To all your contacts.
    It is better to receive this
    Message 25 times than to receive the virus and open it.

    If you receive a mail called
    ‘invitation’, though sent by a friend, do not open it and shut
    Down your computer immediately.
    This is the worst
    Virus announced by CNN, it has been classified by Microsoft as
    The most destructive virus ever.
    This virus was discovered by
    McAfee yesterday, and there is no repair yet for this kind
    Of virus.
    This virus simply destroys the Zero Sector of
    The Hard Disc, where the vital information is kept.

  24. Ian Gould
    December 10th, 2008 at 10:16 | #24

    “Question: does being a “Denier” make me an enemy of the state.”

    Ah yes, the poor persecuted deniers. How many millions more will die in the Green Gulags before the terror ends?

    No it makes you an enemy of science and truth.

    Fortunately, you and your fellows have about as much influence on public policy as street evangelists.

    In the unlikely event you ever had any significant impact on public policy you would be an enemy not of “the sate” but of the entire human race.

    As it is though, just keep telling yourself you’re speaking truth to power and that people will start listening to you Real Soon Now.

  25. Ian Gould
    December 10th, 2008 at 10:22 | #25

    “Socrates, my whole life there has been a religion of one sort or another, followed by both the pot smoking/street protesting crowd, and the doctor’s wives mob.

    Roughly the gospels were revealed to the masses in the following order:

    Impending nuclear annhilation, followed by;
    Ozone Layer Hole, followed by;
    Global Warming. (followed by TBA)”

    So Steve, those previous gospels went away because they were proved false right?

    Not because Reagan and Gorbachev took steps to radically reduce nuclear arsenals and not because the Montreal Protocol reversed the growth in ODS emissions?

  26. Ian Gould
    December 10th, 2008 at 10:26 | #26

    “If there is some melting ice in the arctic, my opinion sure ain’t needed to handle the matter.”

    True and yet you feel it’s vitally important that you share it with us all.

  27. December 10th, 2008 at 10:33 | #27

    One of the oldest hoaxes in the book. Always ignore them – or at least check them out using Google.

  28. Ubiquity
    December 10th, 2008 at 11:26 | #28


    “denier” in this context was used by one of “your” own to provide the biased propaganda that drives the basis of the environmentalist movement.

    You see Ian, science is about skepticism, it is about questioning facts,it is about the right to be able to question any supoosed truths out their such as the “green stuff”. The use of the word “denier” in one of the previous posts deserves being belittled, it sidelines the ability to provide a rational critic of an issue by giving the masses a word that allows them to dismiss other realities. It is truly reminisce of 1984.

    Regardless, it is clear that we all would like to see the world a better place, its just we disagree quiet emphatically about how it should be done. For example aeroplanes are polluters in a big way, I would be happy to entertain the idea of the atomic aeroplane as an alternative, the environmentalist would clearly oppose this on mostly ideological grounds. However it is quiet possible that advances in science could relegate the old ideology to the rubbish.

    I will always reserve my right to be a skeptic. That is the hall mark of what drives scientific discoveries. Many scientist who made great discoveies endured many years of isolation for their skepticism only to made right many years later. Secondly I will always have a repulsion for words such as “denier” that confuse and take away from ability to be skeptical and behave in a scientific fashion.

    If this means I sit on the fringes, debating with angry irrational ideologically driven persons than so be it.

  29. December 10th, 2008 at 12:02 | #29

    However, it is not part of the scientific method to do nothing, ever, because something is not proved beyond all doubt.
    The germ theory of disease, for example, was a good working theory of why there were disease epidemics. Even though the precise mechanisms had not been worked out, sewer systems were still put in and the epidemics (largely – see Zimbabwe) stopped.
    The germ theory of disease remains a theory about which science should be sceptical even today, but it is, and has proved to be, a useful theory to guide action.
    I am, and remain, a skeptic on AGW – but that does not mean I think we should not be taking at least some action.

  30. BilB
    December 10th, 2008 at 12:51 | #30

    Thanks Andrew, the text had some inconsistencies but I wasn’t sure. Thanks for the hoax slayer connection. Did you like the joke above? It made me chuckle.

    But in the frame of internet scams, I wonder if it possible for some IT guy to create some software that I have dubbed “safe return”. It occurs to me that the “bot net” can only be reduced if the owners of the infected computers get the message that their computers are sending out all of the rubbish. So the idea would be to have a trash bin to delete the ever increasing flood of scam mail into. The trash bin would then send a short message to the origin of the email. This is not the bot net controller but it is part of the machine that gives the scammer his power.

  31. Jim Birch
    December 10th, 2008 at 13:26 | #31

    There’s a lot of people with opinions on global warming. Some “believe”, some “deny”, what’s the difference? To me, they are both kind of crazy things to claim, I’ll tell you why.

    The global warming (meta-)problem combines three features of what are practically unresolvable problems: Firstly, you can believe virtually anything without being demonstrated wrong – at least not immediately. Secondly, the real underlying problem is unresolvable by ordinary methods. Thirdly, the problem appears to be accessible by ordinary heuristics.

    The human brain has a kind of truth function that is applied to more-or-less any concept it contemplates – like, is this a fish, or, is it too high to jump – and importantly, it happens automatically. For most people, most of the time, it’s an uninspected function, so biases their thinking. You can observe this subjective process directly when you look at an optical illusion, eg, in the Müller-Lyer illusion, you “know” that line X looks longer than line Y but it can be easily demonstrated that the lines are the same length. Despite the invincible proof, the illusion persists. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muller-Lyer_illusion)

    What’s this all about? Biology. The brain is able to, for example, make a rapid assessment of whether say the rustle in the undergrowth is your breakfast or a predator’s. In doing so, small clues may be taken into account. Some may be conscious, but the majority will be more-or-less unconscious, and we end up with “I have a good/bad feeling about this”. This is incredibly adaptive: you don’t need full information about a situation to make a choice, you just need enough to push the truth function one way or another.

    When the same process is applied, automatically, to incredibly complex problems like economics, political systems and climate systems, things become positively weird. Show me the the human who believes that he is capable of making the complex spatial and temporal integration of physics, chemistry, biology, etc, required to assess global warming and I’ll show you someone who is deluded. The human brain really only copes with a handful of variables at once. No one is really capable of handling that many variables, of thinking in that many dimensions at once, while determining how the many uncertainties involved will impact the final assessment.

    Yet we are all 100% capable of generating a subjective truth value for global warming. How do we do it? For most people, it is a matter of relying on the heuristics that worked a million years ago on the African savannah: pick out some (apparently) key points then adjust for how you feel about the information sources, adjust for how you feel about the participant groups in the debate, etc, etc. This hasn’t got a hope in hell of working reliably, the problem is just too complex.

    The alternative is using the methodology of science. To assess global warming requires a significant structured effort and relies on many people working together. To trust the result, you have to trust them, not personally, but trust their methods and processes because you’ll never be able to integrate the result yourself. Importantly, this isn’t going to produce the same kind of “I know” feeling of certainty.

    Take your pick. The fact is that the methods of science are demonstrably distant from the way most people think, although you unfortunately need to use scientific reasoning to demonstrate it. Science requires a discipline of not going with your gut feeling.

    So, who can really claim to “know” about global warming: not many people at all, if anyone. The best that you can say is something like “I trust the IPCC and the general informed peer reviewed science process, because I couldn’t possibly know.” Or alternately, “I trust a bunch of maverick journos, because I couldn’t possibly know.” If people started talking like this it might advance the debate, but I’m not holding my breath.

    The other problem with the global warming problem is that, unlike say snake handling, you can get it completely wrong without taking a personal hit. That’s why people who pronounce on global warming don’t do brain surgery. Both are complex tasks for trained specialists, but only one has real immediate consequences. SATP cam continue to believe that it’s some kind of leftie nutter plot – or whatever he does believe, I’m not sure – and therefore can’t be true and he won’t be hospitalised with acute toxicity. In fact, he can probably feel a whole lot better about himself for being a one of the few straight thinking mavericks who haven’t fallen for the whole crazy shebang. The same story, with a few key details changed, applies to a lot of people on the other side of the debate. They believe too, but elements of their psychological make up flip them the other way. You can bet that none of them have been within cooee of the IPCC report.

  32. Ubiquity
    December 10th, 2008 at 13:28 | #32


    “However, it is not part of the scientific method to do nothing, ever, because something is not proved beyond all doubt”

    I can’t disagree with that.

    However, the “germ theory” downside was minimal compared to how costly “AGW theory” cures might be. The state is clearly all over the AGW agenda unlike the “germ theory:” evolutionary acceptance.

    For instance ever since the financial crisis reared its ugly head an argument has been put forward that the growth and investment in green infrastruture would “kill two birds with one stone” save us from AGW and a recession. Firstly, AGW might just be GW or GC without the A. That has not been debated thoroughly in the mass media. The cures proposed before the financial crisis by the environmentalist movement required substantial sacrifices from the populace. Accepting that a fair bit of costing has been done on this. Have they costed the quality of life factor. Will people be willing to submit to these “costs” or will they be forced to as the state may deem.

    Secondly the cost of changing the world as quickly and significantly as proposed cannot be justified if we cannot afford to do so. Clearly we are broke and the state is preparing to rap us all up in one big MBS and hope for the best.

    I am genuinely and intellectually uncomfortable with this strategy.

  33. December 10th, 2008 at 13:35 | #33

    Unfortunately, this would not work for many of the spambots. Most of the programs doing this spoof everything, including the email and ip address of the sender. Those that it may work for would also quickly change to spoofing to render it ineffective.

  34. December 10th, 2008 at 13:42 | #34

    I do not necessarily disagree with you – I was just pointing out that there is a difference between skepticism and inactivity. The argument you made earlier was one for doing nothing, ever, while skepticism clearly does not require this.

  35. boconnor
    December 10th, 2008 at 14:39 | #35

    Jim @ post 30. Excellent post, mate. Very clear and thought provoking.

  36. nanks
    December 10th, 2008 at 14:56 | #36

    Yes goodpost from [email protected] I am a scientist by training (neuroscience PhD) and discussed global warming with some very high quality scientists over a decade ago (and with others since). I believe them.

  37. nanks
    December 10th, 2008 at 14:58 | #37

    In case it is ambiguous – I believed them when they said global warming was real and the result of human action in the main. I still believe that.

  38. Nick K
    December 10th, 2008 at 15:25 | #38

    Jim Birch @ 9,

    A few points. I understand that the global economic situation has deteriorated somewhat compared to earlier in the year. And obviously that will tend to shift policy priorities away from inflation and towards maintaining growth.

    But the fact remains that inflation is marginally higher now than it was earlier in the year. Yet according to the government, inflation was a monstrous threat to the economy earlier in the year. Yet now they are largely oblivious to it, particularly in regard to their fiscal stimulus.

    Of course it’s true that if the economy tanks badly, that will largely solve the inflation problem and the policy focus should be on stimulating economic growth. But that is not what the government has been saying. They have been consistently saying that Australia is unlikely to experience recession and growth is likely to be maintained. Yet if that’s the case, the current inflation is likely to remain also.

    The bottom line is that either the government knows Australia’s future economic prospects are worse than they are predicting, or they never really took inflation as seriously as they previously claimed.

  39. BilB
    December 10th, 2008 at 15:33 | #39

    Surely, Andrew, the trail cannot be obscured. Most of the information in the properties data is added by the ISP’s that transmit the message. Appropriate software should be able to retrace the path of a message. This would only then not work where the despatching ISP was part of the scammers network.

  40. Michael of Summer Hill
    December 10th, 2008 at 15:45 | #40

    John, the latest Newspoll fails to do justice to Turnbull even though he has done an excellent job in taking the fight right up to Labor. But for politicians like Barnaby Joyce who are a real pain in the arse and a handicap the result would have been different.

  41. December 10th, 2008 at 15:50 | #41

    It can: http://frankdzedzy.com/2005/12/13/email-address-spoofing/
    The ISP forwarding the email puts something in the header to say they forwarded it, not that they guarantee that the sending IP address is who it says it is. The best you may be able to hope for is an IP address that may not be spoofed – but then how do you send a message to them?
    We really just have to wait for IP v6 (when it eventually gets used) which enforces authentication.

  42. Jim Birch
    December 10th, 2008 at 15:53 | #42

    Come on, Nick @38. Rats eating your food is serious problem until a tyrannosaurus rex come through the side of your house. What’s it with you and Kev?

  43. Nick K
    December 10th, 2008 at 16:41 | #43

    Michael @ 40, I am not sure what is going on with some of these opinion polls but they are becoming more ridiculous as time goes on.

    The fact is that in every election held this year (including WA, NT, ACT, Gippsland by-election, NSW by-elections), there has been a large swing against Labor. All the evidence from national and overseas elections is that voters are turning on incumbent governments pretty well everywhere.

    Given that, it is unbelievable to think that Federal Labor could be ahead 59-41 two-party preferred. If that poll was to be believed, it would mean that there has been a further 6% swing to Labor based on the last federal result. Ridiculous.

  44. Michael of Summer Hill
    December 10th, 2008 at 17:17 | #44

    John, if I may reply to Nick K by saying Turnbull’s position is being compromised by the very same people who should be supporting him. This was made quite clear by the former federal Liberal Party president, Shane Stone’s vehement attack on the Nationals.

  45. smiths
    December 10th, 2008 at 17:38 | #45

    from monbiots latest, referring to a guardian article

    Scrambled up in these comment threads are the memes planted in the public mind by the professional deniers employed by fossil fuel companies. On the Guardian’s forums, you’ll find endless claims that the hockeystick graph of global temperatures has been debunked; that sunspots are largely responsible for current temperature changes; that the world’s glaciers are advancing; that global warming theory depends entirely on computer models; that most climate scientists in the 1970s were predicting a new ice age. None of this is true, but it doesn’t matter. The professional deniers are paid not to win the argument but to cause as much confusion and delay as possible. To judge by the Comment threads, they have succeeded magnificently.

  46. observa
    December 10th, 2008 at 22:09 | #46

    What AGW crusaders are really in denial over is the fact that they have majority opinion on their side to ‘do something’ yet are behaving as if they don’t. The only reason I can think of for this curious stance, is it’s a smokescreen to hide their insecurity as to clear policy direction moving forward. Their previous consensus and sureness on global emissions trading looks increasingly fragile given the current global mess of derivatives trading and its economic fallout, so they fall back on heresy hunting while their champions globetrot and gabfest at their ritual Posnans.

    There is a noticeable trend toward straight up front fossil fuel taxing, nowhere more obvious than the US. If AGW fans were rolling their eyes at early US election pledges for gas tax holidays then they’ve been asleep as thje WSJ, Washington Post and Ralph Naders are now talking seriously about gas taxing. Certainly there is the recent experience of high oil prices and being beholding to problematic ME regimes, but there is also a recognition (particularly by Nader) that a shift to transparent carbon taxing for developed and developing countries alike is the more sensible approach now. Even the Chinese are contemplating such a fuel tax. The burning question is, where are the AGW crusaders on this approach now, given their past preference for global cap and trade and the mess of derivatives trading? Are they still sticking to their C&T shibboleths or sensibly shifting ground due to markedly changed circumstances? To deny or not to deny, that is their burning question now.

  47. Nick K
    December 11th, 2008 at 13:45 | #47

    Michael @ 44,

    The whole issue of disunity between the Libs and Nats has been blown wildly out of proportion, in my opinion.

    The bottom line is that the Liberals and Nationals are still separate parties. Yet the media line seems to be that unless they agree 100% of the time, this is evidence of a fatal split that is too great to overcome.

    The same thing would happen if any other parties were in coalition together. For example, if Labor didn’t have a majority and needed to form a coalition with a smaller party to govern there would be disagreements from time to time. But they wouldn’t necessarily be serious enough disputes to bring the entire arrangement down.

    I agree with you that Malcolm Turnbull is the best person to lead the Liberals at the moment. Especially during an economic downturn, he has the financial background and personal presence to land blows on the government.

  48. Steve
    December 11th, 2008 at 14:55 | #48

    “There is a noticeable trend toward straight up front fossil fuel taxing”

    The “AGW crusaders” are rightly skeptical. You see, the debate on carbon (ie carbon-intensive fuel) tax versus emissions trading occurred way back in the 1990s, with most environmentally focussed people being on the side of taxation. However, the business-focussed participants in the debate argued successfully for emissions trading, saying that it would be less onerous for business and less blunt than a carbon tax, while achieving the same result.

    So if consensus on emissions trading is stalling because some groups are resurrecting the prospect of a carbon tax, I think being skeptical that this will achieve anything other than wasting more time is a fair concern.

    I’m not saying that taxation is a bad idea, just that the discussion has already been done, and sooner or later we just have to pick and approach and give it a meaningful attempt.

  49. observa
    December 11th, 2008 at 21:10 | #49

    ‘I’m not saying that taxation is a bad idea, just that the discussion has already been done, and sooner or later we just have to pick and approach and give it a meaningful attempt.’

    Cap and trade has been tried and been found wanting and now we have the experience of general global derivatives trading staring us in the face. If all the kings horses and all the kings men couldn’t control money supply or even begin to get their heads around the nature of the beast, let alone regulation of it, what chance contolling a global market in carbon credits and all their derivatives? Then there is the obvious critique of Nader that it’s really up to the US and China to sort out a workable solution and that leads him to conclude it must be cooperative and transparent taxing. Cap and trade by the US only will unleash defensive protectionism against China in the current economic environment. Australia needs to see that and argue for level playing field carbon taxing, something which we could implement immediately as an exemplar. It makes sense to do so and offset income and in particular company tax, given our resource base and the increasing threat of transfer pricing by foreign owners. Times have changed and we need to change with it and get cracking.

  50. Ian Gould
    December 11th, 2008 at 22:19 | #50

    I know that unemployment is typically a lagging indicator but today’s unemployment report was surprisingly benign,

    Headline national unemployment rose from 4,3 to 4.4% but full-time employment actually rose and the rise in unemployment was largely due to Western Australia’s rate rising from 2.3 to 3%.


    I’ve been saying for a while that there’s around a 50/50 chance of a recession in Australia next year -which makes me an insane optimist compared to most people here.

    But I have difficulty looking at low and stable unemployment, a halving in mortgage interest rates and a likely increase in agricultural output from the current favorable raisn and seeing a repeat of the Great Depression.

  51. observa
    December 11th, 2008 at 22:35 | #51

    Sweet Jesus, it’s started already with the United Food & Commercial Workers ‘Wake Up Wal-Mart’, advocates for a union representing some 1.3 million members from the retail, grocery, packaging and processing sectors. Their month long million dollar TV campaign has started-

    “If you’re thinking of shopping at Wal-Mart this holiday season, there’s a 70% chance the gifts you buy come from Communist China.”

    “America’s largest corporation stocks its shelves with products made in Chinese factories while more and more American factories are forced to shut down. Behind those prices Wal-Mart likes to brag about: countless American jobs lost overseas. In this race to the bottom, Wal-Mart gets ahead, and the middle class gets left behind. America can’t afford it any longer.”

    What will Obama choose given this backdrop? Will he play smart and opt for Nader’s global, level playing field carbon tax proposal, hitting the green ball fairly and squarely back in China’s court? Not a bad move under the economic and political circumstances. Will Rudd be left holding the bag on carbon trading if Obama does?

  52. December 12th, 2008 at 13:04 | #52


    The Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy has started an experiment in consultation they are calling a “blog” on the Digital Economy. Thought you might promote it here as they are struggling to get past a crowd of anti-filterists.


  53. nanks
    December 12th, 2008 at 14:00 | #53

    #52 – Verity I think it would be great if the feedback on the internet could move on. However it is hard to take the government offer of consultation seriously when the filter issue has delivered clear feedback which has been ignored. The government needs to prove it is genuine in its call for consultation before the debate can move on.

  54. Michael of Summer Hill
    December 12th, 2008 at 15:47 | #54

    John, if I may reply to Nick K by saying Joyce seems to think otherwise for according to him ‘there seems to be quite a number of people in the Liberal Party calling for’ split.

  55. Dave
    December 14th, 2008 at 01:50 | #55


    You dont need to go on. I agree with you, the warming is a fraud. Therefore I need your support in my petition to the arctic ice to stop its fraudulent and misleading self-melting at once, along with a strongly worded letter to the laws of physics to start changing their ways.

    Do I have your support or not? Its really upsetting me that you wont give it. Is it because you dont like me?

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