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Monday Message Board

December 15th, 2008

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

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  1. Tony G
    December 16th, 2008 at 08:08 | #1

    The margin of the Bank Standard Variable Rate over the RBA Official Cash Rate has blown out to 2.59% under Labor.

    Thanks Kevin, we hated the competition the non bank lenders gave us and now we love banking oligopolies.

  2. Tony G
    December 16th, 2008 at 08:21 | #2


    try the Link HERE

  3. Ikonoclast
    December 16th, 2008 at 09:30 | #3

    Advertising as Parody and Prophecy

    Advertising parodies our society, mocks our propensities, fires our greed and flatters our pretensions. We should not be left in any doubt as to the reasons. Manipulators gain money by fooling us and extra spice from despising us. Hoaxers and conmen invariably display – if we know how to read the signals – an overweening contempt for the gullibility and weakness of their victims. This disdain invariably slides out in a glozing and gloating form as conscious display or Freudian slip. Once upon a weekend dreary, I went with my good wife to the home of some acquaintances. By some mischance of selective hearing, a fault common to husbands everywhere, I thought the occasion was to be a genuine social gathering. It turned out to be something like a Tupperware party except that pyramid selling was involved rather than plastic containers with coloured lids. We settled in the lounge room squirming on hard backed dining chairs ranged along the walls. I felt an acute embarrassment for our hosts. The proposal turned out to be a classic pyramid scheme with some attendant camouflage of “shares” and “goods”.

    Trying to entice the audience into the scheme, my previously likable acquaintance transformed himself into a smooth huckster. He concluded his spiel with an unfortunate analogy, pointing out that individual raindrops were tiny but many of them produced a deluge. In this scheme we would start by receiving income in tiny trickles but soon this would swell into a mighty river of money. He ended triumphantly by saying, “If we get enough drips we can get a flood!” To this day I lament I am not the kind of acid character who could stand up and say, “Well, I’m not going to sit here and be called a drip! I’m off.” Quietly, we declined all offers to join the scheme and left as soon as we tactfully could, that is to say after the tea and biscuits. I wondered in retrospect whether my acquaintance had fully understood what he said. Was it a Freudian slip or was the double entendre intentional? Certainly, the first salesmen to coin that line meant it as an in-joke amongst confederates.

    I recall a late night television advertisement which ran some time ago. It was an ad for a compilation album of punk and grunge music. I don’t mind admitting to some low brow tastes. There were a few songs on it I wouldn’t have minded having. The name of the album was “GARBAGE!”. The advertising punch line was “This is GARBAGE! YOU WILL BUY GARBAGE!” Here in simple advertising copy was a profound description of consumer capitalism, its psychology, its inducements and its overall economic imperative; a synopsis implying genesis, lifecycle and epitaph. It had a kind of idiot savant ring to it and bore the stamp almost of a minimalist artistic triumph. It was humorous and snide. It poked fun at itself and you. It enlisted your connivance in your own debasement. It described our whole culture.

    The latest in this minimalist genre of advertising punch lines as social parody and self-fulfilling prophecy is the ad for the game based on the Disney Pixar movie “Wall-E”. The advertising declaims, “Play the last game in the world.” Those who know something of the movie realise it features a garbage disposal robot (note the garbage theme again) functioning in a trashed, post-apocalyptic world where humans appear to be extinct or in outer space exile. The end of our world is now narrative fodder for children’s movies and children’s games. Indeed, the implication is that wrecking the world is fun, it’s a game, the last game maybe but wow aren’t we having fun playing it?

    Perhaps this is unfair to the artists at Disney-Pixar. Yet it is interesting to trace this new evolution in adult and even childish consciousness in the space of the last few years. For at least fifty years before this, ads have marched though our awareness in their legions depicting the endless cornucopian utopia to be delivered by faith in the market and proper works dedicated to the modern household gods of consumerism, technology and corporate capitalism. Arts and entertainments, particularly in popular culture, often painted the same picture.

    There were always dissenters who offered Jeremiads and alternative dystopias. Marx had much earlier put forth his vision of the dystopia of late stage capitalism as an inexorable development which would burn up every human value in its engine and leave only the money nexus. He is soon to be proven correct though what Marx failed to foresee was that the environment would be burnt up as well. His early fundamentalist followers rushed to generate their own dystopias which were merely preemptive yet in many ways far worse than their capitalist contemporaries. Orwell, reading the entrails of 1948’s trends, twisted and transmogrified them into ‘1984’. Orwell, like John Ralston Saul after him, perceived that corporatism cut right across ideological lines. Corporate communism, corporate fascism and corporate capitalism were equally feasible, equally dangerous and always pitted corporate sectional interests against the widest collection of individual interests which quite simply was and still is the public good. As JRS said, the only power that the relatively poor and un-influential private person has against corporations and sectional interest is her or his democratic power to elect a government to rule for the common good.

    In mentioning Disney-Pixar’s “Wall*E” we also ought to mention Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” movie. For “Wall*E” can function as a kind of child level epilogue to “The Wall”. At the climax of “The Wall” great mechanized armies clank over the face of the earth, armadas of aircraft blacken the sky with cross-like silhouettes and rain down bombs which raise up graveyards of crosses across the countryside. The apotheosis of production for destruction has been achieved. The final act, the final curtain is the Wall itself which grows apace, snaking back and forth across a formerly green world, dividing and obliterating the landscape at an ever increasing rate. Vines are shaken wildly and repose back into coils of barbed wire at the speed of the Wall’s passing. Finally, the Wall streaks across the screen, occupying it entirely and we see what comprises the “bricks” of the wall; consumer goods, cars, white goods, television sets and all the disposable overabundance of technological production.

    Despite religious, artistic and scientific predictions of disaster, we continue to press the accelerator to the floor as we hurtle towards a brick wall. Advertising plays a key role in convincing us to close our eyes, put the pedal to the metal and enjoy this last suicidal joy ride. Our cars are extensions of us and have indeed changed with us. As we Western humans became bigger, chunkier, fatter and ever more grotesque so car design has followed the same evolution to culminate in the giant SUV-Wagon. The overblown has become the new aesthetic. The dream of gross indulgence, over-production and over-consumption is rapidly becoming a burdening and choking nightmare. Anorexia may be as much a reaction in disgust at grotesqueries as it is an emulation of impossibly slender waifs. The coming austerity could cure us of many of these ills if we would make the transition peacefully and wisely.

    A new morality and a new aesthetic are required to adapt us psychologically to the behavioral and societal changes which will be forced upon us, whether we will it or no, by the dwindling of resources for production. A new ascetic aesthetic must govern our attitudes to the world, our life, our “spirit” (understood in a humanist or a religious sense) and our bodies. A new spirit of co-existence rather than dominance must infuse our relations to other species and also our own. Sparseness, austerity and frugality must become admired out of necessity. We can extend no excess of sympathy (which is not the same as offering cruelty) to those who will want to whine about the recognition of this imperative and claim it as a re-advent of Puritanism. All wasteful processes must now be curtailed as we to try to engineer a safe landing rather than a crash landing for our entire civilization as energy sources and other resources dwindle.

    Industries which encourage immoral levels of consumption (it is immoral to destroy the world for the appetites of one generation) must be severely restricted. Advertising, in its current form, is worse than a non-essential industry. It is a fraudulent and abhorrent industry which encourages habits antithetical to our survival. Advertising must be regulated almost out of existence and left only as a rump with a strict and functional information role; with a part to play only in price signals and consumer awareness of objectively comparable criteria. I don’t expect this to be a popular call. I am sure it will get flamed even in this forum. However, I will continue to adhere to this view confident that it is one part of the civilizational changes we must make if we are to survive at all.

    - Ikonoclast.

  4. Ian Gould
    December 16th, 2008 at 09:47 | #4

    “A new morality and a new aesthetic are required…

    Industries which encourage immoral levels of consumption …must be severely restricted.”

    So what’s the model for you new socialist Utopia the Great Leap Forward or Year Zero?

  5. jquiggin
    December 16th, 2008 at 10:03 | #5

    Tony G, I noticed you’ve switched your “Interest rates always higher under Labor” line. You used to talk about the rates themselves, now it’s about margins. I wonder why that is?

  6. Ikonoclast
    December 16th, 2008 at 11:34 | #6

    I.G., I see you are still stuck at the “Four legs good, two legs bad,” level of thinking with regard to the socialism-capitalism “dichotomy”. It’s not a dichotomy at all, of course. It’s a continuum. It’s about taking an eclectic approach and using, in a conscious fashion, the better elements of democratic socialism and a “free within boundaries” market.

    Regulation is a necessary part of any system. In fact, one could argue that a “system” of any kind could not exist without regulation. Regulation (internal, external or both), feedback and inter-connectedness is what a system is in essence.

    We had better hope we have a self-correcting system. To argue that the market ought to be the only correcting mechanism is absurd. It’s tantamount to arguing that a democratically elected government has no place in making decisions to regulate our economy and society and to plan for the future.

    I can respond in kind to your peurile jibe about socialism. You would apparently prefer to see an elite plutocracy standing over a neutered parliament and a disenfranchised people so that the rich few can rule everyone and everything with money alone.

  7. smiths
    December 16th, 2008 at 11:59 | #7

    very important business being discussed at WTO that i had heard nothing about

    GATS – a deregulatory agreement, which forces economies to open up to multinationals while preventing governments from regulating them


  8. Tony G
    December 16th, 2008 at 15:09 | #8


    We know you are using your spam filter to censor my post on that comment. Is that an indication of your sensitivity on the issue?

    The cash rate at present is 4.25%, the bank standard variable rate is 6.84% a margin of 2.59%

    In December 2001 the cash rate was 4.25%, but the bank standard variable rate was LOWER at only 6.07%; a modest margin of 1.82%.

    Interest rates really are higher under Labor governments, “I wonder why that is?”

    You’re paranoid as well as silly, TG. I can assure you that when you are blocked, or put on automoderation, you, and other readers, will be told all about it. In the meantime, perhaps Akismet has assumed that anything so incoherent must be spam – JQ

  9. Smiley
    December 16th, 2008 at 16:33 | #9

    Tony G as far as I’m aware the difference in the rates that the central banks charge and the rates charged by the commercial and retail banks has widened everywhere, not just in Australia. All banks are wary of lending money to anyone. It is a function of the current market not the governments in control.

    As is typical of arguments from right wingers about the economic crisis, they tend to evaporate when exposed to daylight.

  10. Nettle
    December 16th, 2008 at 16:41 | #10

    I’m with you, Ikonoclast. I think the whole system was hijacked by visions of ever-increasing profits. Simply making a profit was no longer good enough, the profit had to be bigger and better than ever before. Business became a Game, with CEO’s looking to win the biggest salary category, shareholders looking to win the biggest earnings, and consumers happily accepting the biggest loser category because it was still a win. The result of the Game was that markets became too big for consumers. Advertising was used to make the consumer think that he really, really needed that new car without understanding that he was tying up future income to acquire it; had nowhere to dispose of the old thirsty SUV; production of the new car used resources that belong to his grandchildren, etc, etc. It was all explained under the guise of growth, but what it masked was simple greed. No-one was happy with ‘enough’.

    Enter centre stage, financial melt-down. Everyone is still trying all the Game rules. Car companies step up advertising those cars because the consumers had forgotten that they really, really needed a new car, not to mention the debt that went with it. (Oh, and by the way, they’ll give you a little cashback for Christmas if you lock up your future earnings with them.) Reserve Banks reduce interest rates, so that those silly consumers will realize that they did need another car after all, and could afford to take on more debt to keep those car companies in the production to which they had become accustomed. And Governments throw a whole bundle of money into the market, so that it can continue to produce all those cars, that no-one really wants anymore.

    I hope that consumers are waking up to the fact that they were winning the biggest loser category, and as a result will stop playing the Game, and buy only what is necessary rather than what is required by the gargantuan that has become the market.

    The only way to stop the Game is to put some rules in place, but maybe some of us want to stop playing the Game, in which case the rules may become redundant. It all depends on how many of us are prepared for ‘enough’.

  11. Michael of Summer Hill
    December 16th, 2008 at 16:43 | #11

    John, the news coming out of Ukraine is not good for if the reports are correct the country is in real dire straits and needs urgent help as the economy grinds to a halt.

  12. smiths
    December 16th, 2008 at 19:03 | #12

    john, if i may respond to MoSH by saying that
    they just need to hang on till brzneski gets in to the oval office and their knight of undefined colour will ride to their rescue

  13. Donald Oats
    December 16th, 2008 at 19:56 | #13

    I’m not an economist so please humour me…

    Has any serious work been done on whether a “free market” economy could prosper without population growth? Or even with some level of population decrease? I’m thinking of the long term here.



  14. Alanna
    December 16th, 2008 at 20:35 | #14


    Capitalism is by nature an exponentially growing ponzi scheme (I just love that strange expression). Im not saying that to be critical – it may be a better ponzi scheme than many other schemes that humans have had and it beats slavery. The higher the economic growth, the more wealth is created which in turns creates new mouths to feed. Hence if firms are paying higher costs by or have reached saturation of a domestic market (and competition is intensifying) they can go global in search of new markets and to do so they need free markets and thus production and growth and higher profit rates for the firm/ firms continues by an external transformation – isnt this Marxist theory that eventually there is a crisis of capitalism generated by its own inherent profit seeking character and ultimate need for continued transformations and growth?
    If there was no population growth or even population decline then notwithstanding whether the market is free it must still be less prosperous because the market size has contracted so therefore the free market may be less prosperous.

    Its a good question. Why all the focus on continued positive growth rates? Because the poulation grows over time. But why does the poulation have to keep growing if our means of sustaining populations is destroying resources for production. Ive wondered the same thing myself and keep going back to hunter gatherer nomads like the Aborigines or small simple village cultures who managed to exist forever without doing much damage. Id call that sustainable – maybe not as comfortable the way most of us see the world but more sustainable than the mere few hundred years of the progress of capitalism. One day our children might look back and say “our grandparents lived in the golden age of capitalism.”

  15. Salient Green
    December 16th, 2008 at 20:57 | #15

    Hi Donald, I assume you mean ‘economic rationalist’ by ‘free market’. Michael Pusey has done some easy to read work on the subject for those of us that are not economists.
    Download his lectures.
    He gives words to my feelings that the ‘free market’ economy, or ‘economic rationalism’, has not been a good thing for many reasons, except for increasing the wealth and power of the wealthy and powerful.
    I hope you find your answer there. Come and pick apricots for me and we can solve some of the worlds problems over a beer or two.

  16. Socrates
    December 17th, 2008 at 08:46 | #16

    Without wishing to kick off some silly battle about Liberal vs Labor, I was wondering about the US decision to lower interest rates to 0.25%:

    Is there such a thing as “too low” interest rates? To me this low a setting just means that monetary policy is ineffective in these (new) circumstances and some other instrument must be adopted. Does this prove they should be looking at fiscal stimulus instead?

    I shoudl declare my bias – in my line of work I often perform BCR calcs on infrastructure proposals. CHoose a low enough discount rate and all sorts of (sometimes poor) projects can be shown tobe viable. I know discount rate is not the same as interest rate, but are there undesirable consequences of lowering it this far?

  17. Ian Gould
    December 17th, 2008 at 09:54 | #17

    Tell us again Tony how Labor has banned solar panels and abolished private health insurance.

  18. Alanna
    December 17th, 2008 at 10:18 | #18

    Socrates – are we approaching the liquidity trap? No matter how much money gets offered at the lower rates still they wont borrow? Low rates for savings barely covering bank fees – higher than usual risk in financial institutions – under the mattress starts to look good. Even if an infrastructure project is inherently unviable it can still create jobs and income for employees? In an ideal world it would be preferable it be a viable project but an unviable project can also act as a stimulant in the short term. The important question is how much stimulation is needed, how quickly, and what policies will work best.

  19. December 17th, 2008 at 11:00 | #19

    If you want to know about that sort of stimulus, have a look at the best recent example – Japan. Did well for them, didn’t it?

  20. Socrates
    December 17th, 2008 at 11:37 | #20

    Alanna and Andrew

    Thanks; that confirms my concern. It probably is a liquidity trap. I understand then that it isn’t just a problem for infrastructure projects. As the propensity to spend declines even fiscal stimulus starts to look less effective.

    (I’m not speaking against investment in infrastrucure per se, just that we should focus on sensible outcomes. Building more Darwin – Alice Springs rail lines won’t help anyone. Fixing Sydney CBD rail congestion, or electrfying Adelaide’s still diesel rail system will help.)

  21. smiths
    December 17th, 2008 at 11:44 | #21

    We’re hearing that the smart money KNEW Bernie had to be cheating, because the returns he was generating were impossibly good. Many Wall Streeters suspected the wrong rigged game, though: They thought it was insider trading, not a Ponzi scheme. And here’s the best part: That’s why they invested with him …

    A federal judge on Monday threw a lifesaver to investors who may have been duped in one of Wall Street’s biggest alleged frauds, saying they need the protection of a special government reserve fund set up to help investors at failed brokerage firms.

    the beauty of capitalism is that it has no substance or structure, its whatever you want it to be,
    its only prerequisite condition is that whatever your making has to be at someone elses expense

  22. Tony G
    December 17th, 2008 at 12:14 | #22

    Smiley @ 9

    People who lend money to banks have the equivalent to a sovereign risk level. The cost to the banks for their funding should reflect that risk level.

    The government is the only one who ‘makes money’, they also set its cost and regulate its liquidity.The blame for any dysfunction in those activities can only be laid at the feet of the government. I put it to you that the current mob are not doing their job properly and that this is reflected in the liquidity crisis and the higher cost of money.

    Ian @ 17,

    We have been over the solar panels before. Thanks to your input we came to the conclusion that the installation of the panels is being restricted. This is due to Labor limiting the number of subsidies available to well under the demand for them.

    Considering installation of these panels result in a direct, immediate and large reduction in CO2 emissions (unlike AGW, these reductions CAN be measured), the restriction seems strange. What isn’t strange is that a tax and spend government would want to introduce a new tax in the form of an ETS, instead of installing more of these panels.

    In light of the way Labor acts, (with the panels and the new ETS), this US senate report debunking AGW could be on the money.,

  23. Alanna
    December 17th, 2008 at 12:16 | #23

    Have just noted Bush has commented to CNN

    “I’ve abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system,” Mr Bush told CNN television, saying he had made the decision “to make sure the economy doesn’t collapse”.

    Freedom is just another word for someone you can delude.

    Im taking my shoe off.

  24. carbonsink
    December 17th, 2008 at 13:07 | #24

    Ian Gould @ 17:

    Tell us again Tony how Labor has banned solar panels and abolished private health insurance

    Tell us again how China isn’t crashing and its all just the weather, the Chinese New Year and the Olympics.

  25. Ian Gould
    December 17th, 2008 at 21:54 | #25

    “We have been over the solar panels before. Thanks to your input we came to the conclusion that the installation of the panels is being restricted. This is due to Labor limiting the number of subsidies available to well under the demand for them.”

    Actually Tony the data shows the number of installations doubled after the budget changes and the wattage installed increased 50%.

  26. Alanna
    December 17th, 2008 at 22:37 | #26


    re fiscal stimulus and Japan – they had no choice – interest rates cant go below zero. I dont think Japan is doing badly despite recent upheavals. They do have to be one of the worlds powerhouse exporters. So whats the problem? House prices didnt go up to the bubble prices of the early 1990s? Lucky for them.

  27. Ian Gould
    December 17th, 2008 at 22:53 | #27

    WRT Japan, it’s worth noting that thanks to population decline and deflation, per capita consumption in Japan rose through the 1990′s despite flat or negative GDP growth figures.

    (On a related note, the people who think capitalism is dependent upon constant population growth might want to take a look at the following population growth figures:


    There’s a bunch of eastern European countries with negative population growth rates and economies growing at 5%+ over the past decade.)

  28. Ian Gould
    December 17th, 2008 at 23:06 | #28

    “Tell us again how China isn’t crashing and its all just the weather, the Chinese New Year and the Olympics.”


    You faield to listen the first time because it contradicted your preferred script.

    I can point to figures incontrovertibly showing an increase in the number of solar panels installed after Tonmy G. claimed they’d been banned.

    Can you show similar proof supporting your claims China’s in or about to enter recession?

    Didn’t think so.

  29. Ian Gould
    December 17th, 2008 at 23:12 | #29


    “BEIJING (AFP) — China’s economy could end 2008 with its weakest growth in nearly two decades, economists said Tuesday, following the release of data for November that was far worse than expected.

    A string of stimulus measures are likely to not fully kick in until the second or third quarter of 2009, making the last quarter of this year and the following three months the toughest to pull through, they said.

    A range of economists contacted by AFP forecast growth of between five to 6.5 percent in the fourth quarter of this year.”


    But what do economists know?

  30. Ian Gould
    December 17th, 2008 at 23:18 | #30


    “The World Bank has slashed its 2009 growth forecast from 9.2 percent to 7.5 percent. Last week, Goldman Sachs cut its forecast from 7.5 percent to 6 percent. On Monday, Merrill Lynch cut its growth outlook from 8.6 percent to 8 percent.”

    But what do they know?

  31. Ian Gould
    December 17th, 2008 at 23:28 | #31

    Before it turned into9 soem bizarre personal grudge on Carbonsink’s part, the reason that china’s growth was being discussed was its likely impact on Australian commodity exports.

    Accordi9ng to ABARE, the world economic crisis means that Australia’s commodity exports will only increase 30% in 2008/9 in local current terms.

    “THE Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics has cut its forecast value of Australia’s commodity exports by 10pc.

    ABARE now expects commodity export earnings of $192 billion in 2008-09, down from the September forecast of $214 billion, largely as a result of the financial crisis.

    But forecast earnings for 2008-09 are still 30 per cent higher than last financial year.

    Farm earnings are forecast to be down slightly on the September forecast. But at $29.4 billion, they are 7 per cent above last year.

    ABARE’s Jammie Pemn said: “Because of the financial crisis we have seen companies announcing production cuts and also mine closures.

    “Some overseas buyers have requested delay of shipments … so we incorporated those.”

    Dr Pemn said the depreciation of the Australian dollar had buffered some prices.

    The currency was trading around US98c mid-year but is now down to US66c. However, ABARE works on a financial year average. ”


    But waht do they know?

  32. carbonsink
    December 18th, 2008 at 07:58 | #32

    Ian, I’m just loving that you’re putting all this on record. It will be fun to revisit these comments in 12 months time. :)

    I’m not a fan of forecasts, especially from Merrill and Goldman. Besides, pretty much every mainstream economist was dead wrong for 2008, why would they be right in 2009?

    I prefer hard data, like this:

    China’s electricity output fell by 9.6 percent in November from a year earlier, today’s figures showed. Pig- iron production fell 16.2 percent. Raw steel declined 12.4 percent. Steel products tumbled 11 percent.

  33. Donald Oats
    December 18th, 2008 at 09:14 | #33

    Thanks Alanna and Salient Green for your comments.



  34. Tony G
    December 18th, 2008 at 09:14 | #34


    It is only a minor percentage of houses that exist being fitted with solar panels. Doubling the amount of solar panels being fitted is still ONLY going to be a minor percentage of houses being fitted with solar panels.

    The new rebate of $7500 non means tested will help get more panels installed, but considering AGW is a fraud what is the point.

  35. Nettle
    December 18th, 2008 at 10:33 | #35

    “What’s the point of installing solar panels?”

    Gosh, I would have thought harnessing power from the sun might be a good enough reason!

  36. Tony G
    December 18th, 2008 at 10:43 | #36

    Coal is harnessing energy that originality came from the sun and so does oil, what’s the difference, except energy from oil and gas are at present cheaper than harnessing the suns energy directly through the use of panels. Why do they have to subsidise them?

  37. Ian Gould
    December 18th, 2008 at 10:48 | #37

    Yes, why do governments feel the need to subsidise coal and oil by not requiring their producers to pay for the environmental and health damage caused by their products?

  38. Ian Gould
    December 18th, 2008 at 10:52 | #38

    Tony, has the Rudd government banned solar panels as you claimed?

    Are home loan interest rates “always higher under Labor” as you claimed?

    Has Labor “abolished private health insurance” as you claimed?

    If these statements are all incorrect,shouldn’t people be justifiably skeptical of any further criticism of Labor by you?

  39. Ian Gould
    December 18th, 2008 at 10:54 | #39

    “Ian, I’m just loving that you’re putting all this on record. It will be fun to revisit these comments in 12 months time.”

    Yes, it will be funny.

    Just as it will be fun to revisit Observa’s claims of 100%+ inflation in Australia and double-digit unemployment.

  40. Ian Gould
    December 18th, 2008 at 11:20 | #40

    Personally I love tony g’s explanation along the lines of “Well when I said Kevin Rudd was personally smashing in the heads of newborns and feasting on their still-warm brains what I meant was that the 100% increase in child assistance they promised will be delivered 2 days later than originally announced.”

  41. Tony G
    December 18th, 2008 at 13:15 | #41

    “to pay for the environmental and health damage caused by their products?”

    Next you will be telling us the use of hydocarbons is going to cause catastrophic climate change, that me my house will soon be under water and that my children will inherit a barren planet.

    Well people are waking up to the fact that the globe is actually cooling and AGW is a fraud.

  42. Ian Gould
    December 18th, 2008 at 13:19 | #42

    So basically, Tony you maintain that there are no health costs or environmental costs associated with the burning of hydrocarbons?

    No, acid rain, no mercury emissions, no particulates.

  43. Tony G
    December 18th, 2008 at 13:30 | #43


    If you put solar panels on every roof, their manufacture would throw out a lot more chemicals into the environment. (making those cells is pretty toxic and then at the end of their life you have to get rid of them.).

  44. Ian Gould
    December 18th, 2008 at 13:56 | #44

    Tony,tell you what,

    Provide any valid references for your claim at 43 and I’ll spend the five minutes required to document the tens of billions of dollars in environmental costs caused by burning hydrocarbons.

  45. Tony G
    December 18th, 2008 at 14:15 | #45


    Iam not sure what this stuff is that is given off in the manufacture of EACH layer of a solar cell, but this is the relevant bit “pyrophoric, flammable, toxic, and a considerable safety risk.”

    “Typically the layer is deposited using plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) or physical vapor deposition (PVD). PECVD gases and byproducts-such as SiH4, NH3, NF3, F2, H2, and HF-are pyrophoric, flammable, toxic, and a considerable safety risk. Large amounts of particulates are generated as well, creating a harsh environment for vacuum pumps.”


  46. Mitch
    December 18th, 2008 at 14:17 | #46

    Any thoughts on this policy monograph by Jeremy Summut?
    “The problem with analysis by Hamilton and Quiggin of the so-called debt binge is that it focuses on criticising consumerist consumption (or the supposed need for people to repent for purchasing plasma TVs) This is typical of the way many commentators have interpreted the crisis as a morality play or as proof, among other things, that debt is bad, that ‘usury’ is worse, and that people should start living within their means. However, only indirect attention has been paid to the national saving culture, or lack thereof, while the causes and implications of this, and the traditional importance of thrift as a social value, have barely been discussed.”

  47. Ian Gould
    December 18th, 2008 at 14:30 | #47

    Very good tony – now tell us how much of this produced each year and the associated environmental externality.

    Something like this:

    “Jonathan Levy, research fellow in the department of environmental health, and John Spengler, the Akira Yamaguchi professor of environmental health and human habitation, used a statistical model of pollution dispersal to estimate exposures to particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide from the Salem Harbor plant and the Brayton Point plant in Somerset, Mass., for 32 million residents of New England, eastern New York, and New Jersey. They report that the emissions cause nearly 300,000 incidents of respiratory distress daily and, annually, 43,000 asthma attacks and 159 premature deaths. Although health risks are greatest for people living relatively close to the plants (including the Boston area), 80 percent of affected people live more than 30 miles away.

    Levy and Spengler calculate that reducing emissions to the lowest levels possible with available pollution control technology would prevent 124 premature deaths and 34,000 asthma attacks per year and 230,000 daily respiratory incidents. Such controls have been required for new power plants since the 1977 Clean Air Act, and the EPA has mandated retrofits to clean up some older plants. The Salem and Somerset plants are exempt, but Governor Paul Cellucci has asked plant owners to submit voluntary emissions reduction plans or face enforced mitigation. Possible measures include cleaner fuels, air-cleaning devices, and energy conservation. The report was prepared for the nonprofit Clean Air Task Force with support from the Pew Charitable Trusts. ”


  48. Ian Gould
    December 18th, 2008 at 14:37 | #48

    Or like this;


    According to the US EPA, coal-fired power plants account for 41% of annual industrial
    mercury emissions in the US. Mercury emitted into the environment from a power plant
    falls onto the surface of the earth nearby, causing local “hot spots”, and long distances
    away through atmospheric transport.
    Mercury from power plants that gets into wetlands or water bodies (ponds, lakes, rivers,
    streams, estuaries, oceans) is transformed into organic mercury (methylmercury) by
    bacteria normally in sediments. Methylmercury is persistent and bioaccumulates as it
    works its way up the food chain. As a result, fish accumulate methylmercury in their
    flesh in dramatically higher concentrations than in the water or sediments. Predatory fish
    can become heavily contaminated with dangerous levels of methylmercury.

    The National Academy of Sciences and the US EPA have calculated a reference dose (a
    “safe level”), above which risks of impaired brain development in children increase. The
    Centers for Disease Control has also measured mercury levels in a representative sample
    of the US population. Based on these figures, the US EPA estimates over 600,000 babies
    are born each year in the US whose mothers have mercury levels that exceed the safe
    amount. These children are at risk of impaired brain development as a direct result of
    methylmercury exposure that primarily comes from their mothers’ consumption of
    mercury-contaminated fish.

    These impacts on children’s brain development are of course experienced most directly
    by the individuals and their families. But they also represent a cost to society in lost
    potential and in some cases, resource requirements for meeting special needs in school
    and other endeavors. These costs are not insignificant. A team from the Mt Sinai School
    of Medicine in New York estimates that lost productivity from mercury-related loss of IQ
    in the US amounts to $8.7 billion annually (range, $2.2-43.8 billion). They also estimate
    that mercury from American power plants accounts for approximately 230 excess mental
    retardation cases/year (range: 28–2,109). These cases cost an estimated $289 million
    (range: $35 million–2.6 billion).

  49. Tony G
    December 18th, 2008 at 14:47 | #49

    “now tell us how much of this produced each year and the associated environmental externality.”

    Ian, I am not proposing to put these things on every roof you are. I have proved it is toxic to produce, now you use the scientific method to prove to me it is safe for the enviroment to have one on every roof. That is the precautionary principle.

    “used a statistical model of pollution dispersal to estimate ”

    You are not relying on models again are you Ian?

    Is that because he could not find any actual dead bodies to back up his claim.

  50. Ian Gould
    December 18th, 2008 at 15:26 | #50

    Umm Ton, a toxic product only results in an externality if the cost of its disposal or the harm it imposes isn’t incorporated into the market price of the good.

    you have failed totally to prove that there is any release of the toxic compounds used in solar cell production much less provided any measure of the claimed associated externality.

    “You are not relying on models again are you Ian?”

    Tell me tony do you accept that smoking is linked to lung cancer?

    If so, can you tell me what evidence other than statistic epidemiological models you use to support that conclusion?

  51. Ian Gould
    December 19th, 2008 at 22:43 | #51


    Interesting report of a meeting of the Institute of International Finance.

    A couple of points stand out.

    1. “The Institute of International Finance (IIF), the Washington-based association representing more than 375 of the world’s major banks and financial institutions, projected the world economy would shrink 0.4 percent in 2009, after 2.0 percent growth this year.

    Charles Dallara, the managing director of the IIF, called it “the most severe, globally synchronized recession in modern economic history.” ”

    The general picture seems to be western European and North American economies shrinking around 1.4%; Japan and Eastern and Southern Europe around zero and growth in the developing world falling to around 3% (with India at around 5% and China around 6.5%).

    A 1.4% contraction in GDP is not particularly severe. During the Great Depression US GDP fell roughly 30% between 1929 and 1933.

    The noteworthy aspect of the current economic crisis is that it’s possibly the first global recession ever. In the past, one of the three major economic areas – North America, Europe, East and South East Asia has continued to grow.

    This time we’re all in the poo simultaneously.

    This may mean a longer recession and slower recovery but quite frankly NOBODY KNOWS at this point.

    The other noteworthy point:

    “Since the start of 2007, the reported losses at financial institutions has topped one trillion dollars, the IIF said. Institutions have raised about 930 billion dollars since mid-2007, with more than one third coming from the public sector.

    Hung Tran, head of the IIF’s capital markets and emerging market policy department, warned that those losses would increase amid the economic slowdown.”

    So if new capital ($930 billion) almost matches losses, why has lending contracted so abruptly?

    Capital adequacy rules and sheer lack of money to lend would appear not to be the problem.

  52. Ian Gould
    December 19th, 2008 at 23:31 | #52

    A correction, according to the Bureau of Economic analysis, a 1.3% fall in GDP would be the second-most severe since the 1930′s, exceeded only by the 1.9% fall in 1982.


  53. Tony G
    December 20th, 2008 at 15:00 | #53

    “you have failed totally to prove that there is any release of the toxic compounds used in solar cell production much less provided any measure of the claimed associated externality.”

    Ian, the toxic compounds are produced. I do not see them being sent out into deep space, do you?

    “Tell me tony do you accept that smoking is linked to lung cancer?”

    Ian, the dead bodies with blackened lungs are real, they are not some abstract model concept in cyberspace.

  54. Ian Gould
    December 20th, 2008 at 16:36 | #54

    “Ian, the toxic compounds are produced. I do not see them being sent out into deep space, do you?”

    No actually I think they’re collected and reused or sent for incineration.

    “Ian, the dead bodies with blackened lungs are real, they are not some abstract model concept in cyberspace.”

    So the disabled kids aren’t real?

    And how exactly without using statistical models do you prove that smoking is the cause of the cancers.

  55. nanks
    December 20th, 2008 at 17:22 | #55

    Here’s a review with a good summary of the mechanisms by which smoking causes cancer.


  56. Tony G
    December 20th, 2008 at 21:15 | #56

    “No actually I think they’re”

    Is that the same as your reasoning on “No actually I think they’re” emitting too much C02 and causing global warming? If “they’re” not causing global warming because we can’t tell, then “they’re” causing the climate to change, or climate change; “they’re” definitely causing something.

    “So the disabled kids aren’t real?”
    Yes they are real contrary to what any cyber statistical model might indicate.

    No you do not need statistical cyber models to ‘prove’ people die from smoking, just dead bodies with lungs blackened by tobacco residue. Ian have yiu heard of autopsies?

    Ian, If you came across a deceased person and you wanted to know if they were dead, would you check for a pulse or would you go to your computer and check the cyber modelling to give you an answer?

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