Home > Oz Politics > Reading Terry McCrann

Reading Terry McCrann

July 9th, 2009

Terry McCrann has responded to the call for a new inquiry into the financial system with a snark-filled piece which is of sociological, if not intellectual, interest. Let’s jump to his last para.

What next then? Setting up a government-owned home-buying service at the Post Office? Presumably two others among the ‘six-pac’, Nicholas Gruen and John Quiggin, would love that, provided it directed the trusting unsophisticated only into carbon neutral homes.

The most charitable interpretation of McCrann’s reference to carbon-neutral homes is that he is indicating a tribal affiliation. He knows that the typical reader of the Herald-Sun business pages has delusional beliefs about climate change, and is assuring his readers that he shares these beliefs. This alone would be enough reason to dismiss the rest of the column. If McCrann is prepared to dismiss a vast amount of scientific evidence on a topic on which he has no particular expertise, simply because members of his social group don’t like the conclusions, his judgements are worthless. In the absence of any new factual evidence (and, all the facts mentioned in his column are well-known), his arguments have no evidentiary weight. In essence, they amount to the statement “if you’re on my team, you shouldn’t agree with these guys, because they are on the other team”

But that, as I observed, is the charitable interpretation. The less charitable view is that McCrann rejects climate science because his world view is incompatible with the existence of the atmosphere, or any kind of global public good. There’s plenty of evidence for this interpretation in his column. On McCrann’s apparent view, the fact that Australia is not in a deep recession proves that there is, and can be, no such thing as a global recession. Since we haven’t been affected, there’s no need to worry. To quote his column

For their call for a massive, Campbell-and-Wallis type inquiry into the financial system actually lacks ‘a problem’ that has been exposed and thereby needs fixing. … global financial crisis. Not many dead or even injured in Australia. From any systemic fault, that’s to say.

There is a real problem here. McCrann is significantly less ignorant and wilfully stupid than the average defender of economic liberalism in Australia (compare for example, Andrew Bolt or the Institute of Public Affairs). But he can’t allow himself to be much smarter than his readers, and stupidity and ignorance (whether endowed by nature or acquired by effort) are essential if you are to be a full member of the tribe. In a period when social democracy is on the rise, we need better opponents than this.Deranged film

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  1. SJ
    July 9th, 2009 at 23:53 | #1

    McCrann is pretty smart. He’s learned what’s required from him, and he produces it. I don’t doubt that he knows that his argument is piss-poor, but that it’s enough to get the salary paid. He’s not pretending to be a scholar here, he’s deliberately flinging red meat to the hounds.

  2. chris
    July 10th, 2009 at 07:56 | #2

    terry mccrann is an intellectual invalid.

  3. Alice
    July 10th, 2009 at 08:40 | #3

    McCrann should also stop eating that raw meat.

  4. ABOM
    July 10th, 2009 at 09:11 | #4

    You do have better opponents than personal attacks deleted – JQ Terry McCrann:




    It’s just that Australia is too provincial and backward to have this quality of intellectual and economic thought on either side of the table.


  5. Michael
    July 10th, 2009 at 09:16 | #5

    It seems that displaying ones lack of objectivity is all the go for economics commentators. To the casual observor the economics discipline seems to be more ideology than science, but maybe that’s what keeps it interesting if not extremely damaging to society.

  6. Pterosaur
    July 10th, 2009 at 09:26 | #6

    OT – but the following caught my eye

    “economics discipline seems to be more ideology than science”

    Economics is NOT a science, even though it occasionally uses scientific tools – takes a lot more to be an actual science.

    I mention this because, IMHO the conflation of disciplines such as economics and the social sciences with “Science” in the minds of observers and participants can lead to a mistaken emphasis being placed upon the ruminations of (say) an economist (or school of economic thought) which is not warranted by any scientific analysis of the question in point.

  7. Michael of Summer Hill
    July 10th, 2009 at 09:32 | #7

    John, let’s not beat around the bush the very idea of having a peoples Green Bank for the unsophisticated new age carbon neutral polluters is just what Australia needs on condition interest rates are below market rates and no fees.

  8. July 10th, 2009 at 11:01 | #8

    Thanks John. It’s an interesting point you raise when you say ‘his world view is incompatible with the existence of the atmosphere, or any kind of global public good.’

    A colleague and I at work were discussing the lack of costing externalities (e.g. pollution) and why it isn’t factored into the production cost of goods and services. I began to think in terms of individualised profit and ideas about profit being rooted in the particular production process rather than as something flowing from societal relations. And then a specific world view follows on from that.

  9. Crikey
    July 10th, 2009 at 15:51 | #9

    John, an amazing article today in Crikey demolishing Mr McCrann…

    How the media trash important stories when their rivals scoop them
    Canberra correspondent Bernard Keane writes:

    When does a media outlet judge an important story not to be an important story? When it appears as a scoop in a rival media outlet.

    Exhibit 1: the way Fairfax (who got the scoop) seriously treated this week’s call by six well-respected economists for a new inquiry into the financial system, while and News Limited (who didn’t get the scoop) almost totally ignored or dissed the story.

    This isn’t a partisan or ideological issue. The economists hail from across the political spectrum. The issues they raise go well beyond the simplistic Left-Right debates that have marked much of the commentary on the economic crisis. While John Quiggin and Nicholas Gruen are perceived to be from the Left, the likes of Christopher Joye and Sam Wylie are not exactly bomb-throwing socialists. All are widely-respected. And all, contra Terry McCrann (and more of him in a moment), are influential.

    Gruen is chair of the Government 2.0 Task Force; Stephen King was an ACCC commissioner. Quiggin is a world-class academic researcher. Wylie (who incidentally used to work for ASIO), is a former Dartmouth professor and a Senior Fellow of the Melbourne Business School. Gans and Joye were responsible for convincing the government to invest $8 billion in the securitisation market last year. Joye ran John Howard’s home ownership task force and has been a frequent op-ed contributor to The Australian. If they’re not influential, I don’t know who is.

    And Ian Harper, a member of the Wallis committee and still a pin-up for the Right, lent strong support for the idea.

    But, perhaps because the economists gave Fairfax papers the drop rather than News Ltd, the letter was barely covered by the latter. Jennifer Hewett, while barely mentioning the letter, attacked the “people’s bank” idea, as did John Durie.

    The “people’s bank” proposal was one of fourteen issues raised by the economists, and the letter does not recommend the idea (although John Quiggin in the past has been a strong advocate).

    The substance of the letter was ignored by the non-Fairfax mainstream media. Online media like Crikey and Business Spectator both gave serious coverage to the letter (we didn’t get the drop either).

    And then there was Terry McCrann, who launched a vitriolic attack in the Herald Sun involving obscure allusions to can openers, a critique of the “people’s bank” proposal (again), and the argument that there was no problem with the current financial system that merits any sort of inquiry.

    Quite which part of the banking oligopoly, or the punishingly high interest rates faced by business, is not a problem in the view of McCrann?

    The McCrann logic seems to be that because Australia dodged a bullet from last year’s financial crisis we can dodge the next one with equal skill — with a financial system grown even more cartel-like in the interim.

    Joye told Crikey he was bewildered by an “evidently coordinated News Limited attack.”

    “It appears to be a case of expedient and ideologically motivated journalism that has manufactured an utterly artificial strawman to tear to shreds — the ‘People’s Bank’ that we never endorsed nor described as such,” he said.

    “I was very disappointed with their coverage of this matter and have written directly to Jennifer Hewett and Chris Mitchell communicating this fact.”

    But we might look at Martin Place for the real motivations behind McCrann’s attack on the economists. It has long been considered, including by market analysts, that the Reserve Bank — notionally committed to greater transparency — has a handful of commentators such as McCrann and the AFR’s Alan Mitchell “on the drip” regarding interest rate recommendations to the RBA Board. This enables them to appear to accurately anticipate interest rate movements. In return, the RBA gets a sympathetic ear in the commentariat — useful when you’re holding interest rates too high, for example, as the Bank did early last year.

    The RBA may have encouraged McCrann in his attack. Or, possibly, McCrann merely acted in the way he thought his RBA information partners would have appreciated.

    But Crikey understands that senior RBA figures consider that the economists’ letter raises a number of interesting ideas and that there is a case for a review of the financial system — although, in their view, now is not the time for it, given the Government is still wading through a number of other major reviews and has the Henry tax review arriving at the end of the year. Further, one senior bank official indicated that they hoped policy-makers would listen to the case made by the economists.

    There appear to be splits within the RBA itself over some of the issues raised by the economists. Governor Glenn Stevens and Assistant Governor Phillip Lowe are not opposed to the idea of the RBA “leaning against” asset-price bubbles. But Assistant Governor Guy Debelle, in a speech in Brazil in May, savaged the concept. Debelle and Lowe are the two primary internal candidates to succeed Stevens.

    There is nothing but opposition in the RBA, however, to a publicly-owned bank of any kind. And the economists might have erred in providing such an obvious hook for attacks like those of McCrann, who used it to ridicule the entire letter — although it is hard to see how they could have downplayed the proposal any further than they did in the letter, where it got 42 words out of 1700.

    The fact that Australia’s financial system emerged relatively unscathed from last year’s ordeal by fire doesn’t reduce the case for an inquiry, it strengthens it. Unlike the Americans and the British and others, who are overhauling their financial systems in the heat of battle, Australia has the luxury of being able to take a step back, look at what went right and wrong, and try to ensure we can deal with future challenges.

    Too bad some in the media apparently aren’t up to that kind of debate.

  10. hc
    July 10th, 2009 at 17:28 | #10

    The amazing thing about the Australian economy is that it has done so well. 17 years of continuous expansion with low unemployment and inflation (and big current account deficits and private debt!) and then the country is struck with the worst recession in 80 years and the response has been relatively mild. It isn’t even clear we are technically in recession and the response in unemployment so far has been modest compared to other countries.

    Aussies borrowed with their ‘ears back’ to buy expensive homes and even that has not so far led to a crisis. A mosest fall in house prices.

    I wonder whether a call for a full-scale inquiry into the banking system isn’t alarmist and that is what Terry McCrann is suggesting. Certainly just to say that maybe we were ‘lucky’ rather than smart seems a weak basis for a full scale inquiry into the banking system.

    McCrann’s point about the failed state banks is a fair one. It is not an obvious proposition at all that a benevolent, paternalistic public banking system would have outperformed the one we have.

    That’s no reason for compacency but it seems to me modest reforms such as at least maintaining the 4-pillars policy and probably even encouraging more competition in the bank system would help.

    Those on the left who want to use the GFC as a vehicle for pushing a more interventionist public agenda can probably draw some convenient support from the experience of other countries where there were major financial system failures. But it is difficult to draw that sort of support from Australia where apparently sound regulations and a strong underlying economy suggest strength in existing institutions not an overwhelming weakness that calls for drastic surgery or reform.

  11. melaleuca
    July 10th, 2009 at 17:47 | #11

    Good one, Harry. Harry no doubt also thinks we were lucky here in Victoria with regards to bush fires up to January 2009 so there was no need rethink our fire response planning at that time.

  12. Alice
    July 10th, 2009 at 18:13 | #12

    17 years of continuous expansion. with low unemployment?????? (oh what cloud are you on? 8 times bigger than the golden years?) and low inflation

    It is quite clear to me and thousands of others that unemployment and underemployment and the problem of rising casualisation, have totally fallen off the policy radar. Not only that they want to deny it?

    Those on the left want more intervention HC?

    Those on the “left right out” are growing by the day or havent you noticed? (oh I forgot – its a glorious nation – if you read the daily Murdoch newspapers and use your “rightness” to bully everyone else).

  13. Alice
    July 10th, 2009 at 18:27 | #13

    Oh and Aussies have borrowed with their ears back to buy houses to accommodate themselves and their families because two incomes and a massive mortgage was needed when prices just kept rising…ridiculous – everyone knows real estate was like train over the last 15 years – if they didnt get on it it kept on going right past them.

    Dont blame massive borrowings of households on aspirational greed HC. That isnt the reason. It wasnt behavioural negligence as you would portray.

  14. Michael of Summer Hill
    July 10th, 2009 at 19:07 | #14

    John, if I may reply to hc by saying there are many reasons for having a public inquiry into the financial system if only to ensure there is no repetition of the McMinn scandal involving unconscionable and unethical banking practices.

  15. philip travers
    July 10th, 2009 at 21:13 | #15

    I heard what the Bank Employees had to say,I felt the need to agree with them,except ,maybe,in a comparative sense Australian Banks are not that greedy,just a bit reluctant to accept,that many don’t want to go through the exercise of living their lives owing their institutions money,thus ,effort and then hours working in the present working conditions,and all that that may mean.I use to like Terry McCrann as the Editor of the dying newspaper the Melbourne Herald.He took on many a Green issue,and had a pioneering attitude to the problems of the day.He may have marched on more cynical as the days wear thin,that isn’t abnormal.Perhaps he thinks the problems emerge somewhere else,rather than a Mind set lead by The Australian Newspaper Journalists..who are plainly terrible.And I bought today a copy of Silicon Chip with Leo Simpson being attacked for his opinion about climate matters.I think he is a victim in part of wanting to be cautious and responsible and promote Australian Science and Technology,although I have some difficulty in accepting fluoride and chlorination of desalinated water in a promo piece that is well presented in that Magazine.He however doesn’t dismiss entirely the exercise of the attacks,or who wrote for him,because in answering ,he has presented the problem,people like Prof.Quiggin creates for those who do not accept the basic contention of actions now etc.,with his own alternative. I don’t know wether the Bank or Financial Enquiry would disturb him greatly!?

  16. SeanG
    July 11th, 2009 at 01:19 | #16

    McGrann is a bit of a blowhard. I dislike the idea of a people’s bank but to extend the argument further as he does against the individual economists and against the idea of a root-and-all review of the financial architecture is petty.

  17. rog
    July 11th, 2009 at 09:39 | #17

    As it is most unlikely that the “peoples bank” will get off the ground (the point that it could “crowd out” smaller institutions like building societies and credit unions also needs to be addressed) McCrann’s team could win

  18. PeterM
    July 11th, 2009 at 10:37 | #18

    i don’t know if McCan and his appologists like Harry (refer #10) live in the same country that I do. The fact that 40% of corporate returns are being absorbed in financial services is a serious problem. This money is not being reinvested in productive activities and this is now having an effect on the productivity growth of the economy. If it is allowed to continue for too much longer we will all suffer. Are these just putting their head in the sand and hoping the situation will fix itself?

  19. Alice
    July 11th, 2009 at 14:18 | #19

    What is really having an affect on the economy is the lack of income tax paid by the wealthy (and the corporate sector). If 40% is flowing into financial institutions that is a flow on effect. Just noticing in the 1950s the percentage share of income tax paid by the upper two brackets of income earners was rarely less than 40% of total income tax collections and as high as 67% in the wool boom. Clearly, the wealthy were not jumping up and down whinging about paying their taxes then and the economy was much better off for it (and public services also better) and unemployment much lower.
    That, I see as the largest error of neoliberalism, believing that lower taxes for the rich would trickle down and enrich us all and instead it has created greater inequality, rising unemployment and an unstable financial system.

  20. Monkey’s Uncle
    July 12th, 2009 at 00:24 | #20

    Alice, I still cannot work out why you are so fond of the 1950s, considering that it was a time of much less racial and sexual equality than today, but also much smaller government compared to today.

  21. Roger Jones
    July 12th, 2009 at 01:31 | #21


    McCrann has form on climate change and has written extensively on why the science is rubbish because it produces undesirable economic outcomes. In fact, it has been pretty funny at times, not least when he maintained that the 0.1% lost GDP quoted by Stern as being the spending money required to mitigate climate would result in an intolerable loss of investment in schools and hospitals. Yes, the other 99.9% had been allocated elsewhere and the last 0.1% was going to go on the sick and the uneducated. Comedy gold.

  22. Roger Jones
    July 12th, 2009 at 01:52 | #22

    If anyone would like to explore the reasons why McCrann and others in the Murdoch press oppose peoples’ banks, climate change and any activity that may require intervention in an unfettered market, read The Second National Risk and Culture Study: Making Sense of – and Making Progress In – The American Culture War of Fact. Even if you have reservations about this particular formulation of cultural theory, it puts a convincing argument. It also shows that where a strongly identified cultural view is held, the holder can be impervious to facts that compete with that view. Scholarly training should allow a person to consider any evidence ahead of their own cultural view, but sadly, it is no longer the core of much tertiary training, and has almost been expunged from public debate.

    And that, Pterosaur #6, is much more important than whether economics, is or is not, classified as a science. It can be. A fuzzy one because of human behaviour, but science nevertheless. It depends how much one allows one’s norms to shape assumptions and evidence.

  23. Donald Oats
    July 12th, 2009 at 02:03 | #23

    I read Alice as using some aspects of the 1950s to illustrate her case concerning flaw(s) in neoliberalism thinking – that is a lot different to saying we would be better off if the culture today was like that of the 1950s.

    The point is that income taxes were higher in the 1950s as a percentage of gross income, as you moved up through the income brackets; and yet, society functioned quite okay, so well in fact that we are all here today with our techno-toys. Therefore, it may be said that there is at least circumstantial evidence that higher income tax rates (such as the 1950s compared to the current case) were not a serious drag on the economy, or on technological progress for that matter.

  24. Donald Oats
    July 12th, 2009 at 02:04 | #24

    And yeah, I have insomnia. Damn Ashes.

  25. Donald Oats
    July 12th, 2009 at 02:13 | #25

    And following on from #23, those very same income tax brackets of the 1950s may have been an enabler of good progress to the current decade’s techno-toys and so forth, rather than a drag upon progress. After all, it funded the Snowy Mountains Hyrdo Scheme, gave us a telephone line to (almost) every residence, stable electricity supplies, and at the end of the 1950s, a Commonwealth Bank of Australia, which Terry McCrann couldn’t use as a negative example along with the state banks. In fact, the CBA’s eventual listing on the stockmarket saw the share price rise strongly. Pity it was listed, actually.

  26. Alice
    July 12th, 2009 at 08:44 | #26

    @Donald Oats
    Just to confirm Donald you raise the same examples as I do.

    I was specifically referring to distribution of Income tax in the 1950s, in which a greater percentage of the income tax was paid by those who earned a greater percentage of income, as it should be, and the nature of government spending being to a far greater extent on public capital investment – many new PUBLIC Investment projects (the dirty word which has been replaced by PRIVATISATION which is now degrading our infrastructure) projects commenced including the snowy mountains scheme. Defence expenditure was double the mid late 1940s. Immigration was up by 50% in 1949 compared to 1950 yet the unemployment rate was less than 1% with barely anyone on unemployment benefits.

    I have no interest in comparing the “culture” of the 1950s to now. I dont care about such trivia. The culture of the 1950s was different to the culture of the 1940s and the 1920s. We expect that.

    I am comparing an economy in the 1950s that delivered more jobs and was stronger than our economy now if measured by growth, productivity gains and employment, not eroded by neoliberalist views seeking to reduce taxes and then complain about budget deficits and then complain further about public investment

    Question. Are these neoliberals the spoilt and greedy and less entrepreneurial offspring of the real entrepreneurs of the 1950s who did pay higher income taxes without too much complaint?? Now they not only want to pay less and less tax, they want to remove it completely to tax free havens.

  27. Alice
    July 12th, 2009 at 08:45 | #27

    – error – Immigration was up by 50% in 1949 compared to 1948

  28. Michael of Summer Hill
    July 12th, 2009 at 11:26 | #28

    John, maybe O’Farrell has a short memory but many still remember the day he castigated the non-aligned Independents in parliament as being ‘lunatics’ and of ‘political bastardisation’. How times have change for now O’Farrell thinks the same ‘lunatics’ are not so crazy after all. How could you trust a man to run this State who is dishonest and unprincipled.

  29. Michael of Summer Hill
    July 12th, 2009 at 11:46 | #29

    Sorry John, stuffed it again by placing the above in the wrong section. @Michael of Summer Hill

  30. Oldskeptic
    July 12th, 2009 at 13:23 | #30

    Oh Australian banks and finance/insurance can stuff it up with the best of them. Remember the 80’s and 90’s. Tricontinental, VIC State Bank (and all the others, how many did we lose?), Westpac nearly going under? Plus AMP losing, what was it $5B? Then good old HIH.

    Note how the banks have all raised capital .. then blew it in takeovers and now some of them are buying up overseas (forgetting the golden rule of the Ozzie finance industry … overseas purchases always lose money).

    We were lucky because of the HIH crash. APRA was rebuilt and locked down the banking and insurance industries. Plus, securitisation meant that the Ozzie banks could (and did) offload a lot of their loans overseas. Better than the overseas ones … yep, but only because they were not allowed to stuff up as much.

    But just wait until the commercial property crash gets really going, and the domestic one follows (plus credit cards, etc). Then we will see how good they really are. Already none of them could raise a cracker on the overseas debt markets without the Federal Govt guarantee.

    Prediction, at least one will get in real trouble over the 2-5 years and be merged with another, leaving the big 3.

    Then there are the investment bank(s) …. now that is a coming debacle that will make HIH look like a kiddy’s toy. I’d better start preparing my stuff to present at the next Royal Commission (as I did at the HIH one).

  31. Monkey’s Uncle
    July 12th, 2009 at 14:48 | #31

    Alice says “I am comparing an economy in the 1950s that delivered more jobs and was stronger than our economy now if measured by growth, productivity gains and employment, not eroded by neoliberalist views seeking to reduce taxes and then complain about budget deficits and then complain further about public investment”

    Alice, I see you are still flogging this dead horse. As I and others have pointed out countless times, the economy in the 1950s did not generate more jobs. Unemployment was lower simply because the proportion of people in the labour market was lower due to fewer women being in the workforce. If you halve the number of people in the labour market, it is easy to keep unemployment low even if the economy generates fewer jobs.

    As for economic growth being higher back then, it is obviously a lot easier to achieve higher rates of growth when you are coming off a low economic base and have plenty of spare capacity. The drover’s dog could generate economic growth in those circumstances.

  32. Alice
    July 12th, 2009 at 17:01 | #32

    Listen MU. Unemployment was approx 600 people Australia wide! The population was half as big as it is now. Thats rubbish about women MU. Double unemployment (twice 300 to compare to a population twice as big now)- take the same proportion of women out of the labour force now so the proportion of women working now is the same as the 1950s, subtract the proprtion female unemployed that you removed from the labour force, and there is STILL no way KNOWN you would arrive at a figure of 1200 people unemployed Australia wide.

    You, MU, are dreaming!! Your horse is a outsider with lousy odds. In fact its a non starter – it keeled over at the gate with the jockey on it.

  33. Alice
    July 12th, 2009 at 17:05 | #33

    there is STILL no way KNOWN you would arrive at a figure as LOW as 1200 people unemployed Australia wide.
    MU I also know from past experience what you are like. Dont you dare suggest I am recommending removing women from the workforce to reduce unemployment.
    I am recommending removal of neo liberals from Treaury and economic policy departments to create employment for WOMEN and MEN and run the economy properly like they should be.

  34. Alice
    July 12th, 2009 at 18:11 | #34

    And MU – Ive just done the stats – proprtion of women taxable income earners in 1950. 26% of taxable income eaners were women and amounted to 18% of total taxable income. fast forward to 2005 and 45% of all taxable income earners are female – an increase of (45 less 26) = 19%. Population in 1950 almost 10 mill (9.9). Now double that population. Unemployment in 1950 – 2,111 persons Austtralia wide and only 600 on benefits. Population now approx 20 mill. Unemployment in 2005 (higher even now) 541,000.00 persons.

    Yes MU thats 541 thousand people unemployed in 2005 (add another 15% to that to make it current) an increase over 1950 of – wait for it…255 whopping percentage points.

    Aint no amount of increase in female participation can account for that MU.

    Your horse just died.

  35. Oldskeptic
    July 12th, 2009 at 18:36 | #35

    Actually the 50′-early 70’s had a major difference between then and now … rapidly rising wages. This meant that consumption kept up with production. Plus there was a better understanding of the role of infrastructure and the will to spend on it, which fed into the system as improved productivity and wages.

    Since the neo-liberal economics came out as the ideological winner from the turmoil of the oil shocked 70’s:

    The desire to limit wage increase (in the US so sucessful that wages have not risen in real terms, except for the top, since 1980). This had the unfortunate impact of creating consumption limits only met by ever increasing debt. You could argue that if not for ever more ‘financial engineering’ creating all this new debt then the Western workd would have fallen into the same long term depression as did Japan in the early 90’s, or at least by the dot com bubble collapse in 2000.

    Infrastructure spending became a dirty word. In their scramble to’reduce’ Govt spending (which they never did overall) investment (plus R&D) was slashed everywhere in the Anglo-saxon world. Even maintenance. Bit like Qantas, worked well for them too. Corruption has played its part, far too much of the limited infrastructure spending in Oz has been determined by crony capitalism, with marginal benefits to to population, but gobs of cash to the insiders (North South Victorian pipeline anyone, or Sydneys entire transport spending over the 15 years).

    In affect we have all been living off the future (by using debt) and the past (over exploiting previously laid down infrastructure, R&D and technical education).

    The chickens, as they say, have now come home to roost. A death spiral is quite possible. Crushing debt and consumer demand collapse means less money for infrastructure spending, which hastens the overall collapse. One day there finally is not enough water or electricity or gas or oil. Most cities in Oz are nearly at that point and one or more should tip over in the next few years.

    Sounds fantastic, but it is already happening. Melbourne train network crushingly full … and 1 new train this year. Or gas. Rapidly growing population in my inner city area means that the ages old gas pipes can’t keep up .. cold showers every morning … bracing. And don’t get me started about water and Howard and Rudd’s huge increases in immigration, or Australia’s oil self sufficiency down to the 60% region and dropping monthly.

    However as bad as it is for Oz, the prospects for the US are beyond bleak (ironic as it is the poster child for the neo-liberals). California handing out IOU’s? Cities, States, universities, school boards, etc going belly up? They have no way out, except a massive once off debt default on a humungous scale.

    You could argue the same in a smaller way for Oz. Realistically we will never pay off all that debt ($1.5T and counting) borrowed for property speculation, company buyouts, plasma TV’s … just about anything but things that are useful. The average mortgage will last longer now than the expected life of the badly built ‘Mac houses’.

    Technical skill levels have fallen so low it will take us 20 years to re-build high tech manufacturing (anyone remember we used to build fighter planes here?), and judging by the disasters and shoddy quality of current efforts (re building a tunnel under a very small river .. that leaks) we couldn’t build an equivalent Snowy scheme if our lives depended on it.

    Never mind all is in hand from our great lords and masters, we will ban free plastic bags, reduce drinking hours, drop speeds down to 30kmh and tax smokers even more … we are all saved.

    Plus KRudd has just won a major victory … yes the Star Trek like carbon capture of coal electricty generation is on the worldwide agenda. Yep Coalstralia is safe.

  36. Alice
    July 12th, 2009 at 18:55 | #36

    Oldskeptic – I agree with you except for one thing – average weekly earnings in a real sense didnt start rising really until the mid 1960s and in the early 1970s nominal average weekly earnings took off faster than inflation but notwithstanding real average weekly earnings never kept pace with that inflation shock of the 1970s and that wages shock wasnt just local it happened in many countries at the same time and started in the US and that pushed world prices up. (they sneeze etc..)

    It was fulled by Vietnam War boom and bad management of aggregate demand in the US after 1966 and labour shortages there. It wasnt any local militant union problem (thats a red herring that then libs would have us swallow) but the main thing is real average weekly earnings were always below inflation in the 1970sn (meaning people went backward).

    And not onlly will we tax the people who dont need to be taxed more now, we will fine them and impose user pays for government services because we are too dumb to work out whats really wrong – lack of government investment spending (as opposed to welfare spending which will increasingly drain govt reserves unless they fix the underlying problems like lack of stimulus and no use hiding behind doctored unemployment figures like Howard did) and taxes too low on the wealthy and not enough controls to stop the wealthy and corporate elites flying here there and everywhere in the name of the great god globalisation to effectively pay no tax anywhere.

    It sucks actually, to see such blatant mismanagement.

  37. Alice
    July 12th, 2009 at 21:23 | #37

    Oldskeptic – you hit it in one –

    “we couldn’t build an equivalent Snowy scheme if our lives depended on it.”

    Thats because any govt spending on infrstructure goes to crony consultants in suits who deliver expensively bound plans and private expensive engineering consultants and private expensive arhitectural consultants who do yet another private expensive “review” or “plan” and they never actually hire the new grad engineers or arhitects streaming out of the universities on a real job.

    Its crony confused public investment – in fact its not even investment as we used to have. Our taxes are play money handed to private sector managerialist con merchants wearing suits and carrying briefcases and belonging to a pty ltd company with a good data projector and some snappy slides. These engineering consultants and building consultants on the pps government advising trail have probably never ever seen a clod of earth turned over let alone managed more than three or four staff (let alone a team of tradesmen and builders the like of which built the snowy or the harbour bridge or the city railways).

    Then theres theres the audit consultants hired to make sure the other consultants plans add up (they dont and the audit causes a cost blowout) and then of course the media consultants to make sure premiers get photographed in hard hats and any project gets buried before anyone is hired and the media has marched past it as yesterdays news.

    Everyone doing deals with the Government happens to be a private managerial chief and wants to remunerated handsomely, but there are no indians to be seen.

  38. Alice
    July 12th, 2009 at 22:06 | #38

    I said
    “Yes MU thats 541 thousand people unemployed in 2005 compared to 2111 persons in 1950 – wait for it…255 whopping percentage points increase.”

    Thats actually a whopping 25,527% in the increase in unemployed persons since 1950 when the population has only doubled.

    Even if you take 541000 as a percentage of the whole population of 20mill and you take the 2111 as a percentage of the whole 10 mill population of the 1950s (close enough on population).

    Number of Unemployed are still 128 times larger now as a percentage of the whole population

    So much for the mad liberal experiment – 35 years of psychopaths in charge of policy and government. Never thought Id actually grow older and watch public systems of order and infrastructure that we took for granted and were purposeful and useful fall apart because of a predominance of fools in government and the media but I have. I certainly have. Any public maintenance or planning for the future abandoned because some suit in Macquarie Tower thinks Messrs Rupert and Bunny Pty Ltd will fix it.

    I know who the bunnies are.

  39. Monkey’s Uncle
    July 12th, 2009 at 22:31 | #39

    Alice, I will try to illustrate the point using some simple examples.

    Suppose if at one point 50% of the adult population are in the labour market and the economy generates enough jobs to employ 50% of adults full-time. Unemployment would be negligible.

    Then suppose at some point in the future there are now 65% of the adult population in the labour market, but the economy only generates enough jobs to employ 55% of adults full-time. Then there would be 10% unemployment or underemployment.

    Even though unemployment is much higher in the latter example, the economy in that example is still generating more jobs than the former example. For the purposes of this comparison, it doesn’t make any difference whether the unemployment rate over that period has increased by a factor of 10, 100, 1000 or whatever. The logic of your argument doesn’t hold. Even if unemployment went from 1 to 1,000,000 in that period, this does not (in itself) prove anything without looking at everything else.

    As for comments like “So much for the mad liberal experiment – 35 years of psychopaths in charge of policy and government.”, I’m not sure if there can be much meaningful discourse based on claims like that.

  40. David Irving (no relation)
    July 13th, 2009 at 13:05 | #40

    ” … his judgements are worthless … ”

    That pretty much sums up my attitude to McCrann. I can’t recall him ever having written anything remotely sensible, having occasionally sampled his column over the last 20-odd years.

  41. Alice
    July 13th, 2009 at 13:12 | #41

    MU – you lost that one badly, just so badly – if you look closely I measured the unemployed as a percentage of the WHOLE population (for consistency with how they measured it in 1950 before the tricks and shuffles in the definition). Number of unemployed / population to give a PERCENTAGE not an ABSOLUTE change.
    Look MU – you fell off the horse before the starters gate on this one. You must read more closely.
    There is no possible way, not even in a delusionists paradise, that you can say the economy is healthier in 2005 than in 1950. And dont talk to me about cheap labour saving laundry or kitchen kitchen gadgets or I will resurrect the feminists.

  42. Tony G
    July 13th, 2009 at 13:46 | #42

    The only “delusional beliefs about climate change,”(and its associated hot air) are primarily found with “the typical reader”[s] of this blog.

    As Fielding said, its been getting cooler over the last 15 years.

    Inconviently, people are starting to freeze their balls off and so this hoax has changed its name from global warming to climate change.

  43. Chris O’Neill
    July 13th, 2009 at 22:18 | #43

    As Fielding said, its been getting cooler over the last 15 years.

    To be able to say the above one needs to be braindead.

  44. Tony G
    July 13th, 2009 at 23:15 | #44

    Ha Ha; funny Chris,

    Speaking of dead or misplaced brains. Consider this, the colon and wiki contain the same thing.

  45. Chris O’Neill
    July 14th, 2009 at 01:01 | #45

    Speaking of dead or misplaced brains. Consider this, the colon and Steve Fielding contain the same thing.

  46. Tony G
    July 14th, 2009 at 09:18 | #46

    Definitely ( it would be safe to presume the contents of Fielding’s is on par with everybody else’s).

    One thing is certain though, and that is that the fictional extrapolated temperature readings that AGW proponents like yourself rely on- is akin to the abovementioned contents.

  47. Chris O’Neill
    July 14th, 2009 at 12:59 | #47

    One thing is certain though

    Sure if you say so.

    One thing that is certain is that the fictional 15 year cooling that climate science conspiracy theorists like yourself rely on- is akin to the abovementioned contents.

  48. Tony G
    July 14th, 2009 at 15:38 | #48

    Fair enough Chris, as you undoubtable know we do not have the technology or enough data to give a definitive global average temperature for today, let alone an emphatic time series, so I agree with you, average global temperature extrapolations and associated time series are crap. (therefore whatever you infer from them is also colon(ised)

    Sorry for injecting rational into the debate, but unfortunately ‘alarmists’ share one trait with Fielding and that is zealotism. In your zeal to express faith in your alarmist theory, sometimes admitting you just do not know the answer to a question can get overlooked.

  49. John Thurs
    July 14th, 2009 at 18:35 | #49

    Well the Greens have joined the party…

    Greens move to establish banks inquiry in Senate

    If the Government fails to act, the Australian Greens will move to establish a Senate Inquiry into Australia’s banking system when the Senate resumes in August, Australian Greens Leader Senator Bob Brown announced today.

    “The market-share figures for May show that banks are increasing their dominance of the financial system at the expense of smaller non-bank institutions, with their share of loans up to a record 89.4 per cent compared with 85 per cent a year ago.”

    “At a time when we need robust diversity in financial systems, we instead are seeing a concentration in favour of banks – and especially the big four banks which are benefiting the most from the Rudd Government’s Guarantee Scheme for Large Deposits and Wholesale Funding.”

    “I’m mystified as to why Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner can say that the pace of financial innovation has ‘outstripped the capacity’ of regulators to keep up.”

    “The Government showed no such inability when it moved with great speed to provide access for banks to billions of dollars of government underwriting through the Guarantee Scheme.”

    Senator Brown said a Greens’ inquiry would encompass the concerns raised recently by leading economists, and would also look at a range of other issues, such as low or no-fee accounts and mechanisms to ensure that interest rate cuts are passed on directly to customers.

    The last inquiry into the financial system was held in 1996-97.

    Further information: Russell Kelly 0438376082 ends

  50. Chris O’Neill
    July 14th, 2009 at 19:04 | #50

    Tony, I’m glad you agree that concluding that the world has cooled for 15 years is crap and anyone who votes in parliament on this basis is making a crap vote.

    BTW, I’m amazed that all it takes to be called an alarmist these days is to think that the vast majority of scientists are not participating in the biggest conspiracy of all time.

  51. Tony G
    July 14th, 2009 at 20:05 | #51

    Chris, I’m glad you agree that concluding that the world has warmed (or cooled) for 15 years is crap and anyone who votes in parliament on this basis is making a crap vote.

    It doesn’t take the vast majority of scientists to disprove a conspiracy theory, it takes a ‘single fact’.

  52. Oldskeptic
    July 15th, 2009 at 18:34 | #52

    Tony G: We are pretty weel served now with satellites, ground stations, etc.

    There are ‘holes’ in the coverage, but importantly where the most people are, the Northern Hemisphere, is where the greatest warming is occurring (the south is largely ocean so naturaly it warms less). Where we have the greatest accuracy is recording the greatest increases.

    This is a re-post from another thread.

    The temperature numbers are worse than most people think. A lot depends on where you are and all areas are up from baseline.

    We have a whopping great La Nina going that is bringing down sea temps in a large part of the Southern Hemisphere and various land parts of the World (inc the North Western coast of North America).

    But using the 2008 GISS data and looking at regions the north is roaring along:

    64N-90N: 3rd highest temp on record a whopping +1.48C above base line.
    44N-64N: again 3rd highest, +1.01C.
    24N-44N: 6th highest, +0.53C
    24N-Equ: 19th, +.23C
    Equ-24S: 16th, +.28C
    44S-24S: 1st, +.39
    64S-44S: 34th, +.03

    The deep south, 64S-90S is incredibly variable, ranging from +1.32 to -.36 over the last 20 years.

    You see the pattern, the sourthern hemisphere shows lower increases and greater variability because of the huge sea mass and is affected strongly by the El Nino/La Nina cycle (ENSO).

    Taking the northern Hemisphere as a whole, 2005, 2006 and 2007 were higher than 1998 (+.82, +.74 & +.77). 2008 is the 7th highest on record (+.6C), down from the record 2005, but well within normal variability and there is some contribution from La Nina.

    Global cooling from 1998 as some people claim? Well the global temp peak was in 2005 (+.62) and 2008 is still the 8th highest year at +.44 even with a solar minimum and a strong La Nina.

    God knows what it is going to be as we move into a El Nino (or even just neutral) and solar radiance climbs up again.

  53. Tony G
    July 15th, 2009 at 21:54 | #53

    “We are pretty weel served now with satellites, ground stations, etc.”

    No we are not.
    Only a microfraction of 1% of the worlds atmosphere is actually monitored and a figure is then extrapolated to give a fictional reading for the balance.

    It is akin to sticking a single thermometer in the water at Bondi beach for 3 days and stating I know the average temperature for the whole ocean for every day for the last three million years.(And you have to trust my extrapolations, because they were run on a program utilising Bill Gates’ codes so they are definitly realistic)

    Oldskeptic, if people keep freezing their balls of you can tell them it is getting warmer until you get hot under the collar, but their balls are as accurate barometer as anything else at the moment.

  54. Chris O’Neill
    July 15th, 2009 at 22:05 | #54

    Tony, I’m glad you agree that concluding that the world has not warmed (or cooled) for 15 years is crap and anyone who votes in parliament on this basis is making a crap vote.

    BTW, I’m glad you believe the biggest conspiracy theory of all time. It makes it easier to realize you’re an idiot.

  55. Chris O’Neill
    July 15th, 2009 at 22:13 | #55

    God knows what it is going to be as we move into a El Nino (or even just neutral) and solar radiance climbs up again.

    It’s obvious what will happen when the next El Nino occurs. The climate science conspiracy theorists will suddenly become the leading experts on El Nino, even though they know nothing about it now.

  56. Tony G
    July 15th, 2009 at 22:15 | #56


    No arguments on your last sentence, the world is full of them.

Comments are closed.