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Monday Message Board

February 7th, 2012

It’s time for another Monday Message Board. Post comments on any topic. As usual, civilised discussion and no coarse language. Lengthy side discussions to the sandpits, please.

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  1. may
    February 8th, 2012 at 12:32 | #1

    straws in the wind.

    todays fin.

    mining industry moan that African countries are saying that if oz can do a mining tax so can they. sovereign risk indeed.

    ubiquitious opinionator from the institute of private enterprise saying no one one believes in “unfettered markets”

    continuing grump—what is it with the “institutes”and the “foundations” and the “chambers” and the “councils”.
    how about “grass roots mothers for corporate bastardry”….weez green!

  2. Steve
    February 8th, 2012 at 14:02 | #2

    The Edge’s annual question is:
    http://edge.org/annual-question/what-is-your-favorite-deep-elegant-or-beautiful-explanation

    “WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE DEEP, ELEGANT, OR BEAUTIFUL EXPLANATION?”

    There are 192 thinkers who have contributed answers, with many answers clustered around economics, psychology/neuroscience, and physics.

    Thought some readers might enjoy this.

  3. Jim Birch
    February 8th, 2012 at 14:41 | #3

    Here’s an interesting article wrt Gillard: Leadership positions for women are often atop a glass cliff.

    http://bps-occupational-digest.blogspot.com.au/2012/02/leadership-positions-for-women-are.html

    This research covers top end business positions but the same applies in politics, I think. Women are selected in times of crisis, at least in part because the qualities considered necessary are closer to female stereotypes.

    After that, some “how dare you/let’s get the bitch” stuff seems to emerge from the lower brain – both male and female – aimed at women in power. I’d agree with Brown that Gillard is clearly receiving some of this.

    I’ve heard a range of political opinions expressed with varying degrees of personal rancour and aren’t really often shocked but the most extreme political statements I’ve personally heard were about Thatcher in the UK in the 80s. Admittedly, these were times of high social discord but the component of extreme misogyny was what startled me. The same tone seems to me to appear in some of the commentary on Gillard.

    I don’t know what German men say about Merkel but I wouldn’t be surprised if the same applies. BMW had to recall a car with a GPS that could only issue instructions in a female voice. :)

  4. MartinK
    February 8th, 2012 at 17:24 | #4

    On the WorldToday, on ABC today, http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2012/s3425652.htm?WT.svl=transcripts . Looks like the Moree Solar Farm may not go ahead because it can’t get a power purchase agreement. I am either Naive or missing something, can’t the Fed Govt just buy the electricity or force the owner of the Nat grid to buy it (I think the grid is still Govt owned). They seemed to be able to arrange electricity pruchase for the Solar bonus scheme. Was there a clause in the tender that the electricity must be bought at some exorbitant rate? Has the govt last all control of electricity distribution?
    Also can’t the ABC report what is going on here, couldn’t any journalist notice this when the tender or Moree Solar Farm were first reported? Sounds like the ABC talked to the manager, why couldn’t they ask for details?
    (Actually why was this on WorldToday instead of some National News. There is no reader comments section, which just maybe makes sense for world news section.)

  5. Tom
    February 8th, 2012 at 19:09 | #5

    By reading the guardian these few days, I have really felt quite a difference in the quality of journalism in some of its articles comparing to Australia’s mainstream media (Murdoch/Fairfax). But I am confused by one thing: why do people in guardian label left-wing as liberals? And If thats the case where does social democrats fit in the equation. I’ve always thought that social democrats would be generalised as leftist.

    I’ve check on the wiki and it describes right-wing as to include liberal conservatives, classical liberals, and libertarian conservatives, and it is also applied to Christian democrats and some nationalists and left-wing as to include socialism, anarchism and communism as well as more reformist movements like social democracy and social liberalism.

    Now I’m confused, have people thesedays lost the term socialism in their vocabulary or was I wrong about left and right wing?

  6. February 8th, 2012 at 20:36 | #6

    News Ltd are very obviously running some kind of agenda on the Qld Flood Inquiry.

    I found this very interesting. A commenter on Crikey! spotted it (I never click on anything News Ltd, on principle):

    http://blogs.crikey.com.au/purepoison/2012/02/06/weekly-open-thread-februray-6-10/comment-page-2/#comment-75308

    They’ve either deliberately or sloppily reversed the ‘inflow’ and ‘outflow’ figures in their graphic to make it look like vast amounts of water were released at critical times when relatively small amounts of water were flowing into the dam. Of course, anyone with a brain and access to the publicly available figures can see that the reverse is in fact true.

    Of course, a lie gets halfway round the world before the truth even has its shoes on. That is pretty much the Murdoch mission statement.

    No idea what their agenda is but given their track record, it would seem to be something to do with proving that Government can’t do anything right and only fully privatising everything and selling it to Bechtel etc. will save the world from evil socialists.

  7. February 8th, 2012 at 20:58 | #7

    Tom @ #5 said:

    I am confused by one thing: why do people in guardian label left-wing as liberals? And If thats the case where does social democrats fit in the equation. I’ve always thought that social democrats would be generalised as leftist….was I wrong about left and right wing?

    Tom, your confusion is perfectly understandable. There is a fundamental confusion of language in political thought which has probably evolved because it is convenient for the systematically misleading purposes of political operatives.

    This is most obvious in the US where the Left-wing is characterised as “liberal” despite favouring more state control of civil society. Whilst the Right-wing is characterised as “conservative” despite advocating radical change both at home and abroad.

    I have assembled the following definitions which I hope will be helpful to you in your quest for intellectual clarity.

    The ideological ends of political conflict focus on the distribution of status goods and degree of stratification in society:

    Left-wing progressives: empowering the lower-status eg younger, workers, poor, women, coloreds, gays, animals;

    Right-wing regressives: establishing the higher-status eg older, whiter, straights, males, rich, bosses, humans

    There is a corollary political conflict over the preferred institutional means which focus on the distribution of power between authority and autonomies:

    Liberal subsidiarity: powers of initiative default to individual autonomies eg privatisation, states rights, multiculturalism, self-determination, feminism, self-regulation, open borders, refugee rights, freedom of contract, gay liberation, romantic marriage,

    “Corporal” supersidiarity [1]: powers of initiative default to institutional authority eg patriarchal families, closed shops, moralistic churches, conscription, national health, public utilities, protectionism, censorship, prohibition, national carrier, industry policy, hydro-electric schemes, closed borders, established professions, arranged marriages, federal centralisation,

    On the ideological issue, social democrats are obviously on the Left-progressive side. On the institutional issue they have tended towards liberalism on personal regulation and “corporalism” on professional regulation. So social-democrats tend to be Left-liberal or Left-”corporal”, depending on whether the state is helping or hindering the lower-status.

    Finally there is a political conflict over the identification and the modulation of social change. The extent and pace of social change will have a profound effect on the identity of civic agents and vice-versa:

    Conservatism: continuity of traditional identity

    Constructivism: mutability of fashionable identities

    Social democrats are split on the issue of the identity politics of the Culture War ie the importance of maintaining traditional cultural unity or “letting one hundred flowers bloom” and encouraging fashionable cultural diversity.

    I hope this helps to clear things up.

    [1] my own neologism, since no one in the liberal academy has ever bothered to concoct a general concept for the ideological classification of the antagonist of liberalism. That in itself suggests a wilfully self-inflicted blind spot.

  8. Tom
    February 8th, 2012 at 22:27 | #8

    @Jack Strocchi

    Thanks for the clarification Jack. It explains why people are starting to classify left-wing as liberal nowadays. To be honest however, I don’t think the term liberal really fits left-wing politics with the reasons below (which is my understanding of leftist politics):

    1. Economic policies that are used by the left are usually regulative (issues such as corporate regulations, income equality, taxations etc.)

    2. In my opinion a lot of leftist (including me) see a need for government to be involved in and regulating the market to prevent inevitable natural market failure of the private sector (especially the public needs to be responsible for certain sectors such as health, transport, education, defence, and certain infrastructure including road building, rural development etc.)

    3. Leftist generally supports a progressive tax and do not dislike taxation as most of the supporters on the left knows tax revenue are used to purpose mentioned above

    4. Most leftist understands the need for government subsidy/protection when they are needed for certain industries to survive during financial hardship to maintain the stablity of the economy when “economic rationalisation” fails

    5. Most leftist believes that government should act on certain issues even if laws and regulations are required e.g. climate change, gambling and smoke reforms etc

    There are a lot more reason why I believe left-wing is quite far from the term liberal but I believe the reasons I suggested above already shows my point. That’s why I felt strange when people uses the term liberal for left-wing politics. Of course I believe the above ideologies should appreciate human right and democracy except when the policy is definitely necessary but harms certain group’s interest e.g. taxation, gambling reforms etc.

  9. Freelander
    February 8th, 2012 at 23:19 | #9

    @may

    Sovereign risk. Where is the risk to the sovereign expecting merchants (like BHP) to pay a fair price to take gold out of the sovereigns treasury? If the sovereign would let me have that gold for only 40 cents on the dollar I would be very happy.

    Next some of these libertarians will be arguing that a serial r-apist acquires a ‘property right’ to continue their crimes due to having exercised that ‘right’ repeatedly in the past. The Miners should be happy with sixty percent for free, even if, for no good reason, they had become used to one hundred percent free.

    Rinehart’s wealth has not resulted from any contribution she has made. That wealth is totally from the sweat of other’s brows. At least Rose Hancock had to put in some effort.

  10. Ikonoclast
    February 9th, 2012 at 10:59 | #10

    The wealth of any capitalist, landlord or rentier does not come from any contribution they have made. It comes solely from stealing surplus value created by workers.

  11. Dan
    February 9th, 2012 at 12:45 | #11

    Does a capitalist steal their own surplus value as well, or is that theirs?

  12. Ernestine Gross
    February 9th, 2012 at 13:14 | #12

    “The wealth of any capitalist, landlord or rentier does not come from any contribution they have made. It comes solely from stealing surplus value created by workers.”

    This is a strong assertion, Ikonoclast.

    If I conjur up certain images associated with the words ‘capitalist’, ‘landlord’, and ‘rentier’, then I can follow your statement at least to some extent.

    When I consider my actual life experience, then I can’t understand your statement and therefore can’t agree. For example, workers save for their old age, whether via compulsory superannuation, taxes or through the voluntary purchase of financial securities or real estate, and, by doing so, they end up as ‘capitalists’, ‘landlords’ or ‘rentiers’. Furthermore, there is empirical evidence from the very late 20th and very early 21st century that it is the managerial class that enriched itself at the expense of workers other than themselves.

    Some models found in Labour Economics exclude the problem of managerialism by working with the concepts ‘the employer’ and ‘the employee’. (I say ‘some models’ for precautionary reasons. I haven’t seen one Labour Economics model which underlies the workplace agreements (enterprise agreements) but does not have this reality distorting classification. But I can’t say I’ve seen all models.)

  13. Chris Warren
    February 9th, 2012 at 13:51 | #13

    @Ernestine Gross

    I suppose Ikonoclast really meant “capitalist landlords”.

    There are other forms of rent. For example: housing cooperatives renting out their housing at economic cost, even with a surcharge to fund new housing, does not represent “stealing surplus value created by workers”.

    Superannuation funds are in the battle for the srplus that has been created, and in fact end up returning some to workers in their retirement. This does not change the underlying reality.

    The so-called managerial class also claims part of the surplus that has already been extracted, so this flow also does not change the underlying reality.

    No Western model and no set of equations that I have seen comes anywhere close to accurately representing capitalism as it is.

    The Eastern Bloc put out some material (eg Czechoslovak Economic Papers (Czechoslavak Academy of Sciences – 1988), for example Anton Klas, “A System of Models for Macroeconomic Analysis and its Uses in Stimulating Economic Development”, and the Marxist schema can be replicated as a Circular flow (with normal rents) if you exclude capitalist profits (mainly monopoly rent).

    Using life experiences is not a realistic way to understand underlying structures.

  14. Chris Warren
    February 9th, 2012 at 14:06 | #14

    @Dan

    In a closed economy this would be the case. In an open economy Australian capitalists can steal from offshore workers.

    Woolworths and Coles are stealing from smaller retail-service capitalists.

  15. may
    February 9th, 2012 at 14:17 | #15

    Freelander?

    the sovereign risk referred to is harking back to one of the claims put forward during the public relations blitz carried out by the mining industry when the resource tax was first mooted.

  16. Ernestine Gross
    February 9th, 2012 at 16:13 | #16

    @Chris Warren

    It is also part of my life experience that I know the first and second fundamental welfare theorems and therefore know conditions under which a centrally planned economy is (welfare) equivalent to a completely decentralised economy. It is also part of my life experience to know from observations (including published material) that the theoretical conditions are not fulfilled in reality.

    I prefer explicit theoretical models which allow me to compare theoretical condions to empirically observables instead of believing assertions of ‘underlying structues’. It seems to me more straightforward to look at the actual (legal) institutional framework for the source of the ‘free cash flow’, which the managerial class can use for itself, than to rely on assertions involving words such as ‘capitalist’, ‘landlords’, and ‘rentiers’.

  17. Chris Warren
    February 9th, 2012 at 17:44 | #17

    @Ernestine Gross

    Explict theoretical models are based on assertions and assumptions.

    All language consist of words.

  18. Ernestine Gross
    February 9th, 2012 at 19:23 | #18

    @Chris Warren

    All language consist of words, NOT

  19. Freelander
    February 9th, 2012 at 20:56 | #19

    Alllanguageconsistsofwords

  20. Freelander
    February 9th, 2012 at 21:01 | #20

    Interest on capital can be a reasonable return for the risk of sometimes not getting that capital back and the sacrifice involved in delayed gratification. Emphasis is always on the word ‘reasonable’.

  21. Freelander
    February 9th, 2012 at 21:04 | #21

    In the modern economy, the real problem is the ‘managerial’ class, as noted by Ernestine, if I am reading her correctly.

  22. Ernestine Gross
    February 9th, 2012 at 21:37 | #22

    @Freelander

    Yes, Freelander, you read correctly.

    I am also saying it is corporate law and enterprise agreements (and the unbounded financial system and rating agencies) together with the apparently widespread belief that there is a one-to-one and onto map between monetary wealth of people (or monetary profits) and their ‘productivity’ in all cases. This belief is wrong in most if not all cases. The belief that income is a positive function of abilities and effort may be a sufficiently close approximation to reality for some activities (eg brick laying) but this belief is wrong when there are possibilities of wealth transfers within an organisation, either in one location or across national economies (ie typically a corporate structure as it evolved during the past 100 years or so), and becoming ‘wealthy’ is viewed as the ultimate goal in life for those with the power to make use of those possibilities.

  23. Chris Warren
    February 9th, 2012 at 21:54 | #23

    @Freelander

    If you are in a form of society where all productivity does not flow through as wages, then capital can seek a return for any number of political reasons. Risk only creates fluctuations in incomes. If more than this, the particular employment is uneconomic.

    However ALL business expenses are entirely recovered in final consumption expenditures after a series of good and bad cycles have passed. If not the particular employment is uneconomic.

    Even funds expended in consumption of intermediate products are recovered at the point of final retail sale to the end user (plus a surcharge).

    So where does the population of end users get the funds to equal selling prices of all the goods, if they only received less to start with?

    You may like to start with Malthus.

  24. rog
    February 10th, 2012 at 05:43 | #24
  25. Nero
    February 12th, 2012 at 13:15 | #25

    ARRESTING IMF OFFICIALS FOR IMPOSING “DEADLY ECONOMIC MEDICINE”? Greek police union wants to arrest EU/IMF officials

    A general strike gripped Greece in protest against new austerity measures demanded with increasing urgency by the European Union as part of a debt rescue deal with banks.

    Greece’s largest police union has threatened to issue arrest warrants for officials from the country’s European Union and International Monetary Fund lenders for demanding deeply unpopular austerity measures.

    In a letter obtained by Reuters on Friday, the Federation of Greek Police accused the officials of “…blackmail, covertly abolishing or eroding democracy and national sovereignty” and said one target of its warrants would be the IMF’s top official for Greece, Poul Thomsen.

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