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Weekend reflections

June 10th, 2012

I’ve been a bit slack about open threads lately, but I’ll start again with weekend reflections, which makes space for longer than usual comments on any topic. Side discussions to sandpits, please.

Categories: Regular Features Tags:
  1. June 10th, 2012 at 08:36 | #1

    Please sir, can I have some more sand? The sandpits have fallen off the front page.

  2. Fran Barlow
    June 10th, 2012 at 09:37 | #2

    I agree Ronald. In the interim:

    It’s something of a commonplace for those noting the Abbott-led opposition’s negativity to focus on their tendency to “talk down the economy”. Without directly naming them of course, Glenn Stevens had a bit of a tilt at this line with his “glass half full” remarks.

    It’s blindingly obvious why the LNP should take this line — it plays to a traditional perceived strength in the Liberal brand — economic competence. The more the need for this becomes the issue, the easier all of the Libs PR becomes.

    In more normal times, the claims of any opposition, even the Liberals, to economic competence would be subject to critical review, but of course, these are not normal times. Large parts of the world with which most Australians continue to identify culturally — Western and Southern Europe and the United States — are in trouble — existential trouble, and as we have been persistently reminded, not the least by the ALP, Australia is not be immune. Australia will get blowback.

    The grasp of most people about macro-economics as it plays out on a global scale, about trade patterns debt is at best, limited. These are highly specialised fields of scholarship. Rather than critically analysing capital flows, debt service, the composition of GDP, structural changes in demand over time etc and then looking at how proposals by political parties take account of these things in theory and practice, the temptation for any non-expert trying to pay attention is to reflect more broadly on things that are easier to understand — the however did we get into this mess? style question. Whether they know the term existential or not, they reason that an existential problem demands an existential explanation. The difficulty of course, is that matters of culture are not typically amenable to refutation. You don’t really need evidence to accept a cultural precept, or reject one. You just need a gut feeling that one thing is right and its apparent complement is wrong. You find an intellectual and ethical tribe that shares your gut feeling and accommodate to cultural cohabitation.

    Most of us understand in personal terms, the concepts of debt and credit. We live with it all the time. The slogan, “living within (our) means” seems to be a profoundly moral claim. Who could possibly argue against that? Like most here I suspect, I recall as a child repeatedly hearing the famous dictum of Polonius to Laertes in Hamlet:

    Neither a borrower nor a lender be …

    which was very much presented not as a piece of rational calculus by the parties involved but as a marker of moral integrity. There was something distinctly unsavoury about being in debt. It seemed that debts arising from compulsive gambling and drinking were not greatly to be distinguished in moral terms from those arising from acquiring a roof over your head or having an unpaid electricity or phone bill. While men who fell into the former would be called “no-hopers” by my family, there was an air of apologia attached to having a mortgage at all. In the 1960s, people in our neighbourhood would look a little leerily at cheques and when credit cards first arrived a great many people saw this as the financial
    equivalent of addictive drugs and saw the banks issuing them as at best, morally dubious.

    So when Abbott and the LNP (and the ALP too) posture as “fiscal conservatives” or speak of surpluses they are trading on cultural attitudes that reach deep into the culture of the post-war period. They are asserting not so much economic competence as moral rectitude. Existential notions of independence, nobility, self-respect and so forth are hailed. Once
    you’re there, critical analysis is not required. The idea that one should stay out of debt or acquit them quickly can stand as mere common sense. That ancient term acquit reminds us again of the moral dimension of debt in the minds of many.

    Of course communities and nations are not like individuals in this respect. We individuals are born, have a working life, a dotage, and then die. We like the idea that we will in our dotage, be free from care, respected and in comfort. Nations on the other hand, are conceived of as eternal. Australia has no plans when it is 65 to pay off its debts, retire and go live in a place by the beach in the country. A nation that serves its community ensures that the burdens of providing the services its whole community needs falls upon the shoulders of those most fit to bear it. Since the only way to ensure that the present generation does not bear too great a burden of the costs of providing services that will be useful to those in the future entails raising debt and there is no way of asking the community of 25 years from now what they’d like us to do, the present generation gets to make that call. The claim that there is something wrong in ethical principle with leaving
    our kids to pay “our” debts is simply silly. The correct question should rather be: will the burden of debt service in practice be commensurate with the benefits associated with the assets to which the debts attach?. That’s a much harder question to answer, but precious few ever ask it in public space, or if they do, they ask it as if the answer is obviously in the negative. People are invited to compare the idea of leaving the kids the house with the idea of leaving the generation of 2030-50 housing, or hospitals or schools or dams or a data network free of debt. Of course, that’s just silly. Nobody did it for us — and indeed, my grandparents’ generation managed to destroy whole piles of the world’s capital in a devastating war, followed, 20 years or so later, a war in Indochina. What we owe our descendants is our best sense and a world no worse for them than the one we found when we arrived. We have to accept/hope that they will be no worse than us (but if we’ve done our duty effectively now, rather better) in figuring out how to do justice and good policy. That’s what one can think of as progress. The nation as household is thus a dreadful and incipiently damaging analogy.

    So to return to Abbott and negativity — if it’s the case that debt — personal or national — is cast as a thing to be avoided, it’s easy to see why people, troubled by the potential for some sort of non-specific economic catastrophe to begin deleveraging. Abbott, in pursuit of the cultural context not to be questioned on economic competence, is bolstering a paradigm in which people in practice overvalue cash and equity and that in turn runs a wrecking ball through retail and tourism upon which substantial proportions of state and federal revenue rely. That, for fiscal conservatives, implies curtailment of government spending, which in turn produces austerity, which reinforces the view that even more moral-financial rectitude is needed and one has a kind of self-fullfilling and reinforcing cycle. Again, politically, Abbott and his cronies benefit from this vicious cant-driven cycle, but almost everyone outside the elite is at least somewhat worse off. If the cycle is to be broken, someone with the authority to to do so must move the discussion away from being some sort of vacuous fiscal morality play and nation-as-personal-household and onto the grounds of how best to trade in debt and assets to meet the present and likely future needs of actual communities with the resources we have at hand or can contrive. They should especially demand that Abbott or any opposition explain in detail how they would answer these questions, since they propose expressly that they are better placed to govern, not just in the future but right now. The near absence of that demand from public discourse, rather than questions of “balance” in the media is IMO the most regrettable feature in contemporary political wonkery.

  3. Fran Barlow
    June 10th, 2012 at 09:40 | #3

    Not sure why the above is in moderation {Length?} … anyhow

    Erratum: Australia is not immune

  4. June 10th, 2012 at 09:51 | #4

    I trust this is the open thread that Professor Quiggin was referring to when he
    deleted my comment here earlier this morning
    for being “off topic”. My comment was a link back to brief story on my own site,
    British journalist set up by insurgents to be killed by Syrian government
    forces
    .

    British journalist, Alex Thomson, a leading reporter of Channel 4 News, was
    recently set up by Syrian insurgents to be killed by Syrian Government defence
    forces. This was done in Thomson’s opinion to deal propaganda blow against the
    government of Bashar al-Assad. Had Assad’s soldiers not acted with restraint in
    the free fire zone that Thomson had been directed into, or had Thomson acted
    less calmly, he would be dead today and the likes of Hillary Clinton would, no
    doubt, be using Thomson’s death to get the UN to take even more harsh action
    against Syria.

    The story includes an embedded broadcast from Russia Today and a
    transcript of most of Thomson’s broadcast testimony.

  5. Ikonoclast
    June 10th, 2012 at 10:23 | #5

    The key issue (understood by very few in the general public) is that private debt and public debt are very different. Private debt must be paid off or the debtor go bankrupt. Public debt in a sovereign nation with its own fiat currency has more aspects.

    1. A nation can repudiate debt (default and refuse to pay foreign creditors and sometimes perhaps even domestic creditors).
    2. It can run a surplus or a deficit.
    3. It can issue or not issue bonds.
    4. It can even requisition, levy and conscript in some circumstances. (Take goods, labour and even lives without market payment or other direct compensation.)

    Private debt is bound up with capitalism ultimately. It is easy to envisage legislated limits on private debt and the offering of credit and currently we need to go back down that path.

    Private debt is high now due to the surpluses pursued by Howard, the relative stagnation of real wages and the shift of national income from labour to capital. This high private debt was also enabled by lax lending and credit rules and the creation of an asset inflation bubble. Absurd peverse subsidies like the FHOG (First Home Owners Grant) played a role also.

    High levels of private debt and high asset price levels (like house prices) are not sustainable. At some point income is not enough to service the debt, people must deleverage and sell off assets thus creating a fall off in asset prices and a drop in aggregate demand unless the government comes to the party by running deficits. This is what is happening now. Much of our “wealth creation” (a phrase I despise) before the 2008 GFC was spurious asset inflation fueled by an unsustainable debt binge. Much was also underwritten by our destruction of natural capital (envrironment and resources) which once lost are effectively lost forever in any human timeframe.

    The GFC was only round one. A full global great depression is imminent.

  6. Chris Warren
  7. Ikonoclast
    June 10th, 2012 at 13:02 | #7

    @Chris Warren

    I would agree with all Syriza policy as expressed in that document except I would withhold judgement on a very few specific Greek / European issues with which I am not familiar.

    The document states “An exit from the crisis requires bold meas­ures”. This is certainly true. if Europe and Greece keep on doing what they have been doing they will keep on getting what they gave been getting i.e. a on-going crisis leading to collapse.

    What the oligarchs and the military caste get away with in Greece is a disgrace. I note the document twice mentions excessive military spending;

    “The national debt is first and fore­most a product of class rela­tions, and is inhu­mane in its very essence. It is pro­duced by the tax eva­sion of the wealthy, the loot­ing of pub­lic funds, and the exor­bit­ant pro­cure­ment of mil­it­ary weapons and equipment.”

    Wikipedia notes: “According to NATO, in 2008, Greece spent 2.8 percent of G.D.P. on its military, or about €6.9 billion, or around $9.3 billion. Greece is the largest importer of conventional weapons in Europe and its military spending is the highest in the European Union (relative to G.D.P).”

    Some astonishing statistics which might be a bit out od date are (according to nationmaster.com);

    - Greece is the 3rd largest importer of arms in the world (by dollar value)
    - Greece has the 5th largest tank force in Europe (by quantity, ignoring quality)
    - Greece has the 4th largest airforce in Europe (by quantity, ignoring quality)

    However, Wikipedia interestingly has Greece 8th on the importers list and Australia 2nd! (Though the numbers for 2010 would appear to put Australia 3rd behind India and Saudi Arabia.)

    That level of military expenditure in a nation in severe economic trouble is a total disgrace. I guess the historical fear of Turkey is behind it to some extent but I suspect vested interests, graft and kickbacks play a larger role these days.

  8. frankis
    June 10th, 2012 at 13:11 | #8

    I think Jeff Masters is alarmingly correct http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=2115

    What’s truly remarkable is the margin the old record [for hottest spring in the 48 or so contiguous states of the USA] was broken by spring 2012 temperatures [which] were a full 1°F above the previous most extreme season, the winter of 1999 – 2000. All-time seasonal temperature records are very difficult to break, and are usually broken by only a tenth of a degree. To see the old record crushed by a full degree is a stunning and unparalleled event in U.S. meteorological history.

    This is another off-the-chart statistical record in the climate trends series and it comes in a decade that has already seen too many of them. An unparalleled event says Jeff.

    We seem to be living in remarkable times … it would have to be sad were we to be overlooking or undervaluing solutions that might simultaneously address the world’s current economic, social (unemployment for instance) and environmental crises. And … economies absent plague or famine are increasingly psychological phenomena, aren’t they?

  9. Peter Lang
    June 10th, 2012 at 13:46 | #9

    Dear John Quiggin,

    On April 7, 2012 you said:

    Hi Peter, until you’ve conceded that you were out by a factor of 1000 or so in your compliance cost calculations, I haven’t the patience to point out the errors in anything else you submit. Put it up over at BNC if you want to – JQ

    http://johnquiggin.com/2012/03/30/weekend-reflections-187/comment-page-2/#comment-172139

    Contrary to your assertion that I had overestimated by a factor of 1000, this suggests my estimate is reasonable (perhaps even an underestimate):
    http://www.sba.gov/advocacy/809/49301

    In the face of yet higher costs of federal regulations, the research shows that small businesses continue to bear a disproportionate share of the federal regulatory burden.

    … the total cost of federal regulations has increased to $1.75 trillion, …

    I wonder if you have the decency and integrity to apologise to me on your web site so all can read it. I’d greatly appreciate that.

    Background

    On April 2, 2012, I asked a question on your web site (#7):
    http://johnquiggin.com/2012/03/30/weekend-reflections-187/comment-page-1/#comment-171871

    I am seeking some help please?

    Can anyone please refer me to where I can find an estimate of what the compliance cost of the CO2 tax and ETS will be when fully implemented to the standard that will eventually be required?. (I have not been able to find any such estimate, including on the Treasury, DRET or DCCEE web sites).

    I expanded on the question and provided some background in the following comment (#8).

    Many comments and discussion followed.

    You made comment #13 here, http://johnquiggin.com/2012/03/30/weekend-reflections-187/comment-page-1/#comment-171889 based on a misunderstanding on your behalf about what the EPA estimate of $21 billion per year included. I explained your misunderstanding in #16. You did not acknowledge your misunderstanding.

    At #29 you wrote a comment starting with “This is just silly. To give you an idea how silly it is, the entire Commonwealth Public Service currently employs about 250 000 people.”
    http://johnquiggin.com/2012/03/30/weekend-reflections-187/comment-page-1/#comment-171953 .
    However it is your comment that is “just silly”. Your comment reveals that the way you believe estimates are done is to work out how many resources are available and base your estimate on that, rather than to determine what resources would be needed to meet the requirement. Your method demonstrates a lack of understanding about how proper estimating is done.

    Finally, you refused to answer my question (April 7, p2 #8) saying:

    Hi Peter, until you’ve conceded that you were out by a factor of 1000 or so in your compliance cost calculations, I haven’t the patience to point out the errors in anything else you submit. Put it up over at BNC if you want to – JQ

    http://johnquiggin.com/2012/03/30/weekend-reflections-187/comment-page-2/#comment-172139

    That was an unnecessarily rude comment, especially given your position as a senior academic.

    In summary:

    • First you misunderstood what the EPA estimate of $21 billion per year covered. I corrected you.

    • Next you said my estimate was silly. It is not, it is your demonstrated misunderstanding of proper estimating practice that is silly.

    • Lastly, you refused to answer my question unless I first apologised and admitted my estimate was out by a factor of 1000, which it was not.

    Further support for my estimate is here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/larrybell/2011/08/23/the-alarming-cost-of-climate-change-hysteria/

    The Small Business Administration estimates that compliance with such regulations costs the U.S. economy more than $1.75 trillion per year — about 12%-14% of GDP, and half of the $3.456 trillion Washington is currently spending. The Competitive Enterprise Institute believes the annual cost is closer to $1.8 trillion when an estimated $55.4 billion regulatory administration and policing budget is included.

    This is an estimate of all the compliance costs of US federal regulations on small business. The EPA is just one component, and the GHG compliance is just one part of that. However, the US legislation, on which the EPA’s estimate of $21 billion per year for GHG emissions compliance is based, requires an increase of total permanent staffing in the EPA by a factor of twelve. The figures in the SBA report do not take into account a factor of twelve increase in the cost of GHG compliance with EPA regulations. The compliance cost for small business could reasonably be expected to be at least ten times more than the cost to the EPA. And the current legislation will not be the end of it. The legislation will inevitable be tightened over time and more and more emitters will be included and have to comply.

    This suggests that, contrary to your assertion that I had over-estimated by a factor of 1000, my estimate is a very reasonable rough guess.

    I wonder if you have the decency and integrity to apologise to me on your web site for your unnecessarily pejorative comment so all can read it. I’d greatly appreciate that.

    Further reading:

    Heinzerling and Ackerman (2012) “THE $1.75 TRILLION LIE
    http://www.sei-international.org/mediamanager/documents/Publications/Climate/Heinzerling_Ackerman_MJEAL_2012.pdf

  10. Paul O’D
    June 10th, 2012 at 15:38 | #10

    On the issue of deficits and debt, the Newman Govt has hit the austerity deck running. Treasurer Timmy has already indicated that there will be likely outsourcing of services to come out of Tip Costello’s Comission of Audit in the Brisbane Times. From my perspective in the middle of it, there seems to be no targeted plan of what needs to or can be cut. Just an ideological, almost TEA Party like, push for smaller government justified by a private sector can do it better mantra.

  11. John Quiggin
    June 10th, 2012 at 15:39 | #11

    @Peter Lang As your own comment indicates, the figure of $1.75 trillion is entirely irrelevant, since “This is an estimate of all the compliance costs of US federal regulations on small business. The EPA is just one component, and the GHG compliance is just one part of that.” The figure is almost certainly nonsense, but since it’s irrelevant, I won’t go into that.

    The most relevant figure in the cited source is the federal expenditure $8.8 billion a year, or about 0.05 per cent of US national income. You could probably double that to allow for compliance costs and so on, but the number would still be tiny. Similarly, anyone who understood basic economics would realise that the efficiency cost of a carbon tax yielding a total revenue of $10 billion is going to be of the order of $1 billion a year, which is about 0.1 per cent of Australian national income.

    I was relatively polite to you last time, since I didn’t realise you were a delusionist on climate science. Long experience has shown me that talking to delusionists is a waste of time.

    To repeat more clearly, anything further from you, other than a retraction, will be deleted.

  12. Peter Lang
    June 10th, 2012 at 15:57 | #12

    Deleted, as promised

  13. June 10th, 2012 at 16:03 | #13

    Sanctioning Progress: The Secret Economic War against Belarus

    Linkdump deleted – anyone interested can click to read the relevant content, which is, as indicated about Belarus

  14. BilB
    June 10th, 2012 at 16:21 | #14

    Peter Lang,

    Given your “attention to detail” with figures it would be interesting to see your estimate of the cost of not addressing climate change. Have you done the balancing “leg work” on that side of the ledger?

  15. John Quiggin
    June 10th, 2012 at 16:26 | #15

    @Malthusista Nothing more like this, please. If you want to write a comment yourself, feel free, but reproducing large slabs of propaganda is not the purpose of this thread.

  16. BilB
    June 10th, 2012 at 16:38 | #16

    Actually, Peter Lang has clearly fallen out of a tree lately and hit his head. The last document that he has cited, presumeably to support his argument, is actually a rebutal by one Lisa Heinzerling and Frank Ackerman of the Crain and Crain 1.75 trillion dollar small business compliance cost “study”, calling it a “lie” of major proportions. Peter obviously did not read the first few paragraphs otherwise he would not have bothered the professor with his above diatribe which as is pointed out takes an inflated claim for all supposed compliance costs and heaps that figure on one minor category.

    nb I am equally guilty of not reading things properly so it is a bit rich my criticising others, with the qualification that I do not profess to be an advisor to government.

  17. June 10th, 2012 at 17:01 | #17

    Professor Quiggin, I only pasted parts of a very long and informative article, I thought would have been of most interest to you and other visitors.

    What the article shows is that President Alexander Lukashenko is implementing the same sort of economic and social policies, I had thought you and visitors to this site support, namely a rejection economic neo-liberalism and more government spending on health education and government participation in the production of wealth.

    You are most welcome to either:

    1. Show me where I am wrong about Alexander Lukashenko; or

    2. Tell me that I was wrong to believe that you are opposed to economic neoliberalism and globalisation and that you support the kind of social and economic policies that are being implemented today in Belarus.

    If I am wrong, I apologise and won’t trouble you or other site visitors further with “large slabs of propaganda”.

    BTW, Belarus is where the movie “Defiance” of 2008 starring Daniel Craig is set. I found that film very well made and moving. I would have thought that those with an interest in past history would be interested to know how Belarus is progressing, particularly since the collapse of communism and the imposition of the “Shock Doctrine” as described by Naomi Klein on the rest of the former Soviet bloc.

  18. Peter Lang
    June 10th, 2012 at 17:28 | #18

    Amazing how the Left want to avoid debate. Deleting comments they don’t want to discuss is standard practice. It’s no wonder, their Alarmism is going down the gurgler.

    You said:

    The most relevant figure in the cited source is the federal expenditure $8.8 billion a year, or about 0.05 per cent of US national income. You could probably double that to allow for compliance costs and so on, but the number would still be tiny.

    You’ve clearly misunderstood the issue. But lets build on your $8.8 billion a year which applies to 2008.

    The EPA has estimated that their employees numbers would have to increase from 17,000 permanent staff to 233,000 permanent staff to manage the GHG monitoring requirements legislated by.

    Firstly, the 17,000 EPA staff are required for all their activities, not just GHG emissions. I’ll assume 10% or, 1700, were involved in GHG emission monitoring in 2008. EPA estimates this would need to increase by over a factor of 100.

    The cost would be $8.8 billion x 100 = $880 billion per year.

    I’ve done three separate estimates for the US compliance cost for the emissions monitoring system that will eventually be required (admittedly all estimates are rough) from three different sets of figures:

    $230 billion per year
    $1,260 billion per year
    $880 billion per year

    You have provided none for what will be required eventually

    I agree that we are not going to spend this sort of money on compliance. What the estimates show shows is that the assumptions that underpin the modelling of optimal CO2 emissions pricing schemes are not realistic. They cannot be achieved.

    That is the reality that you don’t want to face up to.

  19. Fran Barlow
    June 10th, 2012 at 18:45 | #19

    It’s no wonder, their Alarmism is going down the gurgler.

    It’s your alarmism and disinformation that is headed for the gurgler Mr Lang. 12 months from now, few will be able to imagine why there was such a fuss.

  20. rog
    June 10th, 2012 at 18:49 | #20

    @Fran Barlow Yes Fran but for some the reality is that loss of employment can snowball into a tragedy with nothing but foreclosure and hardship to look forward to. Reports indicate that a large number of people are retiring with an unpaid mortgage – to my mind that’s bizarre

  21. John Quiggin
    June 10th, 2012 at 19:20 | #21

    @Peter Lang OK, I’ll play along a bit more
    Five minutes with Google shows that
    (a) your employment number is based on an absurd literal interpretation put up for legal purposes by opponents.
    (b) your cost estimate ($4 million/employee) is out by a factor of 40, even for this silly hypothetical.
    (c) this has nothing to do with optimal pricing – it just shows that regulation is more expensive than price based policy, especially if applied literally and inflexibility

  22. Fran Barlow
    June 10th, 2012 at 19:31 | #22

    @rog

    Sorry Rog … not sure what your point is, in context.

  23. June 10th, 2012 at 20:05 | #23

    I worked out how much my electricity bills will go up by as a result of the carbon tax. About $1.20 a year. Oh my god! Tony Abbott save me!

  24. Freelander
    June 10th, 2012 at 20:20 | #24

    And how much has your electricity bill gone up, over the years, as a result of the Productivity Commission’s brilliant idea to privatize and deregulate the sector?

    “Transmission Accomplished” or not, as the case may be.

  25. Ernestine Gross
    June 10th, 2012 at 20:30 | #25

    Rainy weekends are suitable for reflections. The topic ‘European debt crisis’ offered itself for this purpose. By the end of the rainy day, a question kept on popping up in my head: Would there be a European debt crisis anywhere in Europe if Greenspan would have had to report to the ECB?

  26. frankis
    June 10th, 2012 at 21:08 | #26

    Peter Lang you’re obsessing to a point beyond delusion over what in accounting terms is just another resource or consumption tax (depending on implementation). You may know that Australia already has taxes on petrol, miners pay royalties on coal, and the country has any number of other regulatory compliance costs on business. Then there is a catch-all GST (for pity’s sake). Your imaginings of the coming carbon tax/price/thingy as the bogeyman to beat them all is your own subjective nightmare, really: delusion. Then your hectoring of a highly competent economist on the subject? – that’s of course just Dunning-Krugeresque. Give it a break will you?

  27. Chris Warren
    June 10th, 2012 at 21:25 | #27

    @Ikonoclast

    Actually I am a bit concerned about their rhetoric:

    We are endors­ing a new model for the pro­duc­tion and dis­tri­bu­tion of wealth, one that will include soci­ety in its total­ity. In this respect, the large cap­it­al­ist prop­erty is to be made pub­lic and man­aged demo­crat­ic­ally along social and eco­lo­gical cri­teria. Our stra­tegic aim is social­ism with demo­cracy, a sys­tem in which all will be entitled to par­ti­cip­ate in the decision-making process.

    We are chan­ging the future; we are push­ing them into the past!

    Taking capitalist property and running it democratically solves nothing. You have to rebase the so-called ‘managing of property’ to a socialist foundation.

    However without access to the Greek full version, we can only scratch our heads on the sideline.

    Syriza has to be a step in the right direction. It does not deserve to be attacked by the trots, as at: [http://www.wsws.org/articles/2012/jun2012/pers-j08.shtml]

  28. Peter Lang
    June 10th, 2012 at 22:07 | #28

    John Quiggin,

    Thank you for responding and thank you for humouring me a bit longer. I may be totally wrong as you are sure I am, or I may be on the right track. I’ll be happy to acknowledge my mistake if I understand and accept I’ve made a mistake. So let’s explore the issue (I covered it in more detail in the comments on the April thread and also in the post and comments The ultimate compliance cost for the ETS: http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=13578&page=0 )

    You said:

    (a) your employment number is based on an absurd literal interpretation put up for legal purposes by opponents.

    No. That statement is not correct. The figure was estimated by EPA and stated in a court submission http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=13578&page=0 . I explained all this in the April thread. In short, the story is as follows: US Congress passed legislation requiring the existing regulations for monitoring and reporting other emissions (e.g. SOx and NOx) be applied to CO2 as well. EPA calculated they would need to increase permanent staff numbers by 230, 000 to handle the administration. On this basis they convinced the courts it was not practicable, so got agreement to modify the requirements to make it possible. My argument is that that the modified regulations is a temporary solution. It will not last if the world has to proceed to price carbon in an international, economically efficient system that must be maintained at optimal carbon price. For reasons I explained in comments on the April thread, the regulations will have to be tightened and applied to all emitters eventually. It is that situation that my initial question on your April thread was asking about.

    (b) your cost estimate ($4 million/employee) is out by a factor of 40, even for this silly hypothetical.

    No. That statement is wrong too. Again, it was explained on the April thread. 230,000 new employees at say $90,000 per year = $21 billion. (Which is what EPA estimated). That cost is for EPA alone. The total cost to US businesses will be at least 100 times the cost to the EPA (perhaps 1000 times the cost to EPA because there will be tens of thousands of businesses eventually required to measure and report CO2-eq emissions). If we assume the multiplier is 100 times, then the compliance cost is $210 billion for businesses plus $21 billion for EPA = $231 billion per year compliance cost for the USA.

    I assumed Australia’s cost would be 10% of USA, = $23 billion per year.

    (c) this has nothing to do with optimal pricing – it just shows that regulation is more expensive than price based policy, especially if applied literally and inflexibility.

    No. I am not talking about regulation as an alternative to carbon pricing. I am talking about the cost of emissions monitoring, reporting and compliance as needed for a carbon pricing scheme. The EPA explains what is required now (which is just the beginning):
    http://www.epa.gov/airmarkets/business/ecmps/docs/ECMPSEMRI2009Q2.pdf
    http://www.epa.gov/airmarkt/emissions/docs/plain_english_guide_par75_final_rule.pdf

    Nordhaus Yale-RICE model (2012) and Nordhaus (2008) A Question of Balance http://nordhaus.econ.yale.edu/Balance_2nd_proofs.pdf estimates the optimal carbon price. He lists the assumptions needed to achieve an optimal carbon price and shows that if all emitters in all countries and all industries are not included the cost for those who do participate increases enormously. For example, the cost penalty for the countries that participate is 250% if the countries that emit just 50% of the global emissions participate in a fully integrated scheme that is implemented in unison and always maintained at the optimal carbon price everywhere. In other words, unless the assumptions are met, the carbon pricing scheme would be so expensive for those participating that it just couldn’t work in practice. The assumptions that must be achieved to achieve the optimal price include:

    • Negligible leakage (of emissions between countries)

    • All emission sources are included

    • Negligible compliance cost

    • Negligible fraud

    • An optimal carbon price

    • The whole world implements the optimal carbon price in unison

    • The whole world acts in unison to increase the optimal carbon price periodically

    • The whole world continues to maintain the carbon price at the optimal level for all of this century (and thereafter)

    Therefore, your points a), b) and c) are all wrong. Your first comment in reply to my first comment today was wrong (you deleted my reply where I explained why). Your comments on the April thread were wrong.

    John, you have not persuaded me that my estimate is out by a factor of even 2, let alone 1000. So far your statements have been assertions based on misunderstandings. My post (and comments on the thread) explains my question about the compliance cost:
    http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=13578&page=0

    I am open to be persuaded that my estimate is wrong and to have a good estimate provided (including the basis of estimate).

  29. Peter Lang
    June 10th, 2012 at 22:18 | #29

    Fran Barlow,

    Screeching words like “delusional” and “denialist” is not constructive. I’ve been asking for an estimate of the ultimate compliance cost of the ETS when implemented to the standard that will eventually be required. From the very start of asking the question, socialsts – progressives have been screeching pejorative remarks and name-calling. But no one yet has provided a clear, concise answer to my question, nor provided a link to where the estimate has been properly done including withe the basis of estimate properly documented.

  30. BilB
    June 10th, 2012 at 23:03 | #30

    You are so full of crap, Peter Lang. You just make this up as you go along.

    Ignoring the the logic behind the notion of EPA staffing levels, and just looking at costs:

    A government line employee in the US costs around $60,000. double that for operating costs and 17,000 would be $2 billion dollars. 233,000 employees would be $28 billion.

    So of your three “worked” estimates are 8, 31, and 45 times the original exagerated argument.

    When are you going to apologise to Professor Quiggin?

  31. Freelander
    June 10th, 2012 at 23:49 | #31

    @Ernestine Gross

    Good point. Due to US hegemony, the Americans feel free to disparage those in the Eurozone and to blame them for the world’s problems in a way no one was or has been brave enough to attack the US for. in having created the GFC in the first place.

    The US needs to do some rapid adjusting to its role as a once mighty power. Some adjusting that the UK hasn’t managed though they have now been once might for at least one hundred years. China is expect to pass the US in 2016 and some already think that they have already passed them. Sadly, most Americans seem completely unaware of the new reality, and to the extent that they recognise the rise of China, talk and act as though China’s ascension is many decades in the future.

    The US’s sloth in recognising its new status as once great isn’t being helped by the continued excessive deference in the rest of the west. The lack of recognition is only accelerating the decline. Of course, eight years of GW and even longer of Greenspam were twin tragedies that have made the inevitable far worse.

  32. Peter Lang
    June 11th, 2012 at 07:20 | #32

    I made a typo in my comment at 22:07. ’100 times’ should have read ’10 times’ in this sentence:

    If we assume the multiplier is [100 times] 10 times, then the compliance cost is $210 billion for businesses plus $21 billion for EPA = $231 billion per year compliance cost for the USA.

  33. Ikonoclast
    June 11th, 2012 at 07:25 | #33

    @Chris Warren

    Chris, the text you quoted sounds like standard democratic socialism to me, albeit it is a bit vague.

    You said, “Taking capitalist property and running it democratically solves nothing. You have to rebase the so-called ‘managing of property’ to a socialist foundation.”

    They said; “”We are endors­ing a new model for the pro­duc­tion and dis­tri­bu­tion of wealth, one that will include soci­ety in its total­ity. In this respect, the large cap­it­al­ist prop­erty is to be made pub­lic and man­aged demo­crat­ic­ally along social and eco­lo­gical cri­teria. Our stra­tegic aim is social­ism with demo­cracy, a sys­tem in which all will be entitled to par­ti­cip­ate in the decision-making process. We are chan­ging the future; we are push­ing them into the past!”

    They are “endors­ing a new model for the pro­duc­tion and dis­tri­bu­tion of wealth”. That doesn’t sound like keeping capitalism to me. “Capitalist property is to be made public.” This sounds like nationalising and/or re-nationalising banks, public utilities and natural monopolies. “Our stra­tegic aim is social­ism with demo­cracy.” This clearly democratic socialism. What is not explained, at least not in this document, is how private eneterprise outside of banks, public utilities and natural monopolies will be socialised. There is no mention of a model… like workers’ cooperatives for example.

  34. Ikonoclast
    June 11th, 2012 at 07:39 | #34

    @Freelander

    As you say, US hegemony is over, only the Yanks and their boosters don’t realise it yet. China surpassed the US in manufacturing in 2010. “China accounted for 19.8 percent of global manufacturing (that) year, compared with 19.4 percent for the US — US$1.995 trillion worth, compared with US$1.952 trillion, according to IHS.” – Taipei Times, Mar 16, 2001.

    The US is almost a monoculture in the economic sense. Either you are part of its laissez faire capitalism (rich or middle class) or you are in the poverty-stricken underclass or prison. The US has no genuine peasantry for example. China has a large range of economic classes from capitalists right down to rural peasants; in other words both modern and pre-modern segments. China is thus better placed on this measure to face the collapse of modern industrialism via the path of the collapse in energy supplies. When the modern energetics of the industrial system collapse, peasants still know how to survive. Westerners don’t.

  35. rog
    June 11th, 2012 at 08:14 | #35

    @Fran Barlow Fran, on a personal those maxims on thrift are just as applicable today as when they were first aired. We can all benefit from thrift. Applying the same on a national level is risky; Abbott has taken a punt that the economy would deteriorate and he would be proved prescient. To our great fortune he lost his own bet. As Ross Gittins writes

    The unvarnished truth – which none of us can admit, even to ourselves – is we think we know what’s happening in the economy, but we don’t. We’re too fallible, and it’s too big and complicated.

    http://www.smh.com.au/business/economists-fail-the-reality-test-again-20120610-204bq.html#ixzz1xQlFBKy8

  36. Chris Warren
    June 11th, 2012 at 09:38 | #36

    @Ikonoclast

    Without including concrete alternatives such as workers cooperatives, new accounting standards, new tax standards, freedom of commercial information, protection against unfair trade, etc the whole initiative could flounder and possibly, invoke a right-wing backlash.

    This is what they said in the 1990′s:

    The tendency to shift the tax burden from capital and saving towards waged labour and employment, which up to now has accompanied the progress towards the completion of the Single Market and EMU, must be reversed.

    [http://www.syn.gr/en/kpe/kpe9711.htm]

    They did not realise that 25 years later they would need to consider reversing the Single Market and monetary union.

  37. Peter Lang
    June 11th, 2012 at 09:52 | #37

    The comment I posted at 22:07 last night is held in moderation, (possible because it included six links. I’ve jusjt noticed that I provided the wrong URL for the second link. The sentence and link should read:

    (a) your employment number is based on an absurd literal interpretation put up for legal purposes by opponents.

    No. That statement is not correct. The figure was estimated by EPA and stated in a court submission http://www.eenews.net/assets/2011/09/16/document_pm_02.pdf#page=48

  38. John Quiggin
    June 11th, 2012 at 09:59 | #38

    @Peter Lang

    “I’ve been asking for an estimate of the ultimate compliance cost of the ETS when implemented to the standard that will eventually be required.”

    That’s easy then, at least as an upper bound. The compliance cost for the GST was estimated at $2 billion/year when it was introduced – it might be $4 billion a year now. The ETS raises about one quarter the revenue of the GST, applies to a tiny fraction of the range of activities, and does not require any special treatment for value-adding. So, an upper bound is $1 billion a year.

    The regulatory approach adopted in the US will be considerably more expensive – bad luck for them that Congress couldn’t get its act together to pass Waxman-Markey.

    So, now that it’s clear that the ETS is far superior to any scheme of regulation, I take it we can count you as a supporter.

  39. Peter Lang
    June 11th, 2012 at 10:03 | #39

    John,

    Thank you for continuing the discussion. The comment I posted at 22:07 last night is held in moderation. It addresses each of your points a), b) and c) and shows that each is wrong. I hope you will be prepared to all that post.

  40. Peter Lang
    June 11th, 2012 at 10:13 | #40

    John Quiggin, you said:

    That’s easy then, at least as an upper bound. The compliance cost for the GST was estimated at $2 billion/year when it was introduced – it might be $4 billion a year now. The ETS raises about one quarter the revenue of the GST, applies to a tiny fraction of the range of activities, and does not require any special treatment for value-adding. So, an upper bound is $1 billion a year.

    The compliance cost for GST and carbon pricing cannot be compared. GST is simply a calculation on what is already in the financial accounting system. The financial accounting system has accuracy and precision of 1 c ($0.01).

    However, we do not have an accounting system for CO2-eq emissions. We cannot measure them with any precision or accuracy. The issue is the cost to get the required level of precision and accuracy necessary for trade or tax. Importantly, the issue is what will be required ultimately to meet the assumptions for an economically efficient economic pricing system. This has been addressed in more detail in the comments here: The ultimate compliance cost for the ETS http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=13578&page=0

  41. Peter Lang
    June 11th, 2012 at 10:27 | #41

    John,

    So, now that it’s clear that the ETS is far superior to any scheme of regulation, I take it we can count you as a supporter.

    Firstly, the discussion is not about carbon pricing (ETS or CO2-eq tax) versus regulation. The discussion is not dealing with the regulation option at all. The discussion is about the ultimate compliance cost of ETS or CO2-eq tax when implemented to the standard that will ultimately be required. So far, I have seen no proper estimate of the compliance cost and Treasury and DCCEE have effectively confirmed they have not done an estimate of the ultimate compliance cost.

    Therefore, you cannot count on my support – yet.

    To win my support I’d need to be persuaded that CO2 pricing is going to achieve what the proponents say it will do (fix the climate for the better). I am far from convinced that that is the case. At the moment I tend to believe it is a totally impracticable idea – probably far worse than Kyoto. Compliance, and the lack of any proper estimate for what it will be eventually cost, is just one of many concerns I have.

  42. Fran Barlow
    June 11th, 2012 at 10:39 | #42

    Peter Lang said:

    Screeching words like “delusional” and “denialist” is not constructive.

    Nobody screeches here. This is a text-based medium. The onus is on you to show that there is indeed something to be alarmed about in carbon pricing. So far, you’ve merely waved your hands.

    We have public servants and private accountants. Doubtless, human labour time will be needed to meet the compliance regime of a carbon price. We won’t really know exactly what that cost will be until the scheme has settled into its final form and a culture around the compliance practice has established itself.

    Right now, there will be around 500 polluters complying. There will need to be a number of compliance officers to deal with those 500. We also have some ACCC people flowing up bogus carbon pricing claims. There’s no way the public and private cost of these things can be anything more than a tiny blip on the economic radar, all of which will go back into the economy as spending anyway.

  43. Peter Lang
    June 11th, 2012 at 10:53 | #43

    John,

    Australia has virtually no “measurement” of emissions. We have estimates only, and they are crude. For example, the emissions factors used in the analyses of emissions from our power stations, which are our largest single source of emissions, are inaccurate and imprecise. They are nowhere near what the EU does to estimate emissions let alone what US EPA requires to measure emissions. Even the USA’s ‘measurements’ are nowhere near good enough for trade in a commodity.

    Furthermore, the initial 400-500 entities (for Australia) are just the beginning. But what’s next? The government should have a proper estimate of what the cost of the final solution will be, and make it public, before we commit.

    Will a partial solution – i.e. the 400-500 initial entities – be good enough for trade in a commodity (CO2 emissions and all the other ‘Kyoto gasses’)? Will it be acceptable to have some emitters included in the CO2 pricing scheme while others are not? Can such a situation last?

    Consider the fuss we make over whether or not we are being ripped off over petrol. Every decade or so we demand another investigation into petrol prices and whether or not we got what we’ve paid for. Won’t the same happen, eventually, with CO2 emissions? Won’t there be fraud if small emitters are not included in the scheme? Won’t there be all sorts of distortions imposed if large emitters are included and small emitters are excluded (e.g. entities adjusting their organisation to keep their emissions above or below the threshold)?

    What ultimately will be the minimum parcel of tradeable commodity (CO2-eq emissions)? If we continually fuss about being ripped off by petrol prices and whether or not we got the amount we paid for, where the minimum traded volume is valued in cents, can we really expect that there will not be a trend, over time, to include smaller and smaller emitters?

    The US Congress passed laws requiring the EPA to monitor emissions from all entities that emit more than 100/250 tons of CO2-eq per year http://www.eenews.net/assets/2011/09/16/document_pm_02.pdf#page=48 . At $30/tonne (the Australian Treasury projected CO2 price in 2020), the US law would require capture by all sources emitting more that $3,000 or $7,500 per year. Will this be precise enough ultimately? I suspect not.

    Although the EPA has got around that for now, it clearly won’t last. Eventually the USA and everyone else involved in CO2 pricing will be forced to capture the CO2 tax or include in CO2 trading all entities that emit CO2. That is where we are inevitably headed. (It is assumed in the carbon price modelling, such as Nordhaus)

    If that is the level of precision we will need eventually, what will be the compliance cost in Australia?

  44. Fran Barlow
    June 11th, 2012 at 10:56 | #44

    Peter Lang further said:

    To win my support I’d need to be persuaded that CO2 pricing is going to achieve what the proponents say it will do (fix the climate for the better).

    That’s disingenuous because you reject the strong scientific consensus that CO2-emissions are driving the industrial era climate anomaly. By definition, in your view, no CO2 emissions abatement scheme could create a net public good in relation to climate. Arguing as if this scheme is less efficient or effective than some other method is merely eyewash.

    The next line in your text underlines this disingenuity:

    At the moment I tend to believe it is a totally impracticable idea – probably far worse than Kyoto.

    Kyoto did not specify how abatement was to be achieved, so comparing the CEF to Kyoto is simply nonsense. One might as well compare the Teaching Services Act with UN assertions about the rights of children to education, describing the former as far more troubling than the latter. You are dancing around the basic problem with your pleading — that you just don’t accept that there is a basic problem — and therefore no solution is required.

    Most people accept that there is a problem. Even the Opposition pays lip service to that idea. The only question for those of us in the reality-based community is — which method(s) of addressing this problem will meet the effectiveness needed (keeping end of century global temps at no more than pre-industrial + 2degC) at minimal cost to the legitimate interests of all.

    When you’ve accepted what 97%+ of actively publishing climate scientists have concluded about climate change and some grasp of the likely future cost of inaction then you will have the standing to begin critiquing methods adopted to deal with the problem. Until then, you are simply uttering old-fashioned ideologically driven FUD.

  45. BilB
    June 11th, 2012 at 10:58 | #45

    Peter Lang,

    It is time you dropped the attempt to argue Australia’s compliance costs in the US context. Australia is way ahead of the US in Climate Change Action. The process of change is well underway in Australia and for all of the wrong reasons on the one hand, and as predicted by economists on the other.

    The climate change debate has raised awareness. Faltering government solar incentives have provided an initialising stimulous for the application of solar energy systems. The agglomerated global demand for solar panels has triggered dramatic cost reductions in the production price for PV panels due to China’s involvement. And the clincher is that well ahead of a Carbon Pricing regime Renewable Energy Systems are having a significant impact within this country…..but not because of the Carbon Price, instead due entirely to corporate greed taking advantage of the expectation for change and pushing electricity prices through the roof.

    The exciting thing about all of this is that people actually like generating their own energy from the sun….for free. And that desire is going to accelerate. Discussions that I have with building developers, smaller ones…tell me that from here on forward new houses will not be complete without a solar energy system from day one, and the higher the energy generation level the better. In other words the market has become the vehicle of change.

    Truly cost effective energy storage is here today, and that will only improve exponentially with the near release of the Envia batteries which will offer 10 kwhrs of storage (at 400 whrs per kilogram this will weigh 25 to 30 kilogram and be less than half the size of a bar fridge) for a cost of around $5000. The Prieto batteries will take that advantage way further.

    All of this has taken place without the aid of a Carbon Price or CO2 compliance. As also has the huge impact of Renewable Wind Energy implementation in South Australia which now makes it possible to retire one coal fired power station. So with this level of willingness to change and adopt clean energy, why do you believe that the governemnt will need to apply a forensic level of CO2 compliance monitoring? The answer is obvious to all…you are trying to scare people into believing that the whole Renewable Energy transition is all too hard. I don’t think that anyone is listening to you, Peter.

    Your question needs to be addressed to the Australian Government, where I am certain that they will laugh at your exagerated arguments as well.

  46. Fran Barlow
    June 11th, 2012 at 11:14 | #46

    For the record on Syriza

    There are certainly parts of their stated platform that seem ill-considered. Their statements on price controls and VAT seem ludicrously naive. In a state where revenue collection from regular taxation is scant, and which relies on tourism, narrowing VAT and reducing it seems … err … odd.

    While consumption taxes are regressive, the kind of social provision to which they point elsewhere can balance the scales, especially if suitably means-tested. This document, to me seems a largely rhetorical and political set of claims rather than a carefully considerdd plan of remedy for the impositions on Greek working people.

    That said, there’s a great deal to like in the overall framework of the document, and I’ve little doubt that the less practicable elements can be trimmed through popular discussion. The express claims for inclusive governance are most exciting and really the foundation for something profoundly better than the tweedle-dum/tweedle-dee policies since the Greek military goverance period ended.

    Right now Syriza are making an express claim that their rule can defend the working people of Greece from the impositions of capitalism — and that their victory would be the victory of rule by workers, and in circumstances where they just might win and reverse the boss class asault. It seems to me that no earnest leftist could withhold political support for Syriza in such circumstances. To do so would be to spit on the very idea of workers governance.

    Syriza, if they win, might turn out to be much less than they have promised, but unless and until that day arrives, we socialists ought to give those in Greece supporting their campaign our solidarity, because, in broad terms, we and they want the same end — a workers government in Greece.

  47. BilB
    June 11th, 2012 at 11:19 | #47

    Micro CO2 emissions?

    “What ultimately will be the minimum parcel of tradeable commodity (CO2-eq emissions)? If we continually fuss about being ripped off by petrol prices and whether or not we got the amount we paid for, where the minimum traded volume is valued in cents, can we really expect that there will not be a trend, over time, to include smaller and smaller emitters?”

    CO2 emmission abatement is similar to noise level abatement, there is a background level of CO2 generation just as there is a background noise level. The Earth absorbs a huge amount of CO2 each year naturally and safely. This is the safe minimum level and is well document in science which you will need to accept and believe in to understand.

    This safe background level of CO2 emission covers all aspects of non accelerated life on earth. The problem arises when stored fossil energy is utilised to enhance our human lifestyle.

    So the CO2 emission monitoring issue is pretty simple. All fossil fuel sales are accountable and therefore the subsequent emissions are predetermined at the point of sale of the fuel. Monitoring CO2 emissions is simply a book entry, and to go to any further extent is a foolhardy waste of time money and effort for no real gain.

    That is your answer Peter Lang.

  48. Alan
    June 11th, 2012 at 11:44 | #48

    @Peter Lang

    Got a better source than a big business front that does not even disclose its members or funding?

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/apr/21/solvay-chemicals-obama-green-agenda

  49. Peter Lang
    June 11th, 2012 at 12:11 | #49

    Fran,

    You are using strawman arguments.

  50. Fran Barlow
    June 11th, 2012 at 13:12 | #50

    @Peter Lang

    Yet you point to no ‘straw’. I’ve simply noted the cultural provenance of your special pleading for business-as-usual. Your basic views are that:

    a) government is by and large an obstacle to the interests you deem legitimate
    b) externalities that can be seen as the result of approved economic activity ought to fall where they may
    c) Private property in the means of production is an intrinsic good which be default deserves immunity form all other claims
    d) Any policy that offends against a), b) or c) ought to be presented as if it is a crime against nature and the road to ruin

    By all means, demonstrate that these are not your own idees fixes citing posts in the past to that effect. These are not ‘strawmen’ but your bejewelled ambassadors.

  51. Peter Lang
    June 11th, 2012 at 13:20 | #51

    Fran, You’re making stuff up and guessing. And it has nothing to do with the point at issue. So irrelvant – just another distraction to avoid facing up to the issue under discussion.

  52. John Quiggin
    June 11th, 2012 at 13:23 | #52

    Peter Lang, you seem to be unaware that CO2 emissions are generated primarily by burning carbon-based fuels, which are already part of the tax system. There is no need to make additional measurements.

    If you want to make the point that some other emissions will be hard to measure, then
    (a) we already knew that, which is why the ETS is omitting most of these for the moment
    (b) there are analogous problems in every tax system, such as the difficulty of taxing formal and informal barter transactions – the answer is to develop ways of dealing with those we can and to ignore the rest

    (After writing this, I see that BilB has made much the same point).

  53. Fran Barlow
    June 11th, 2012 at 13:34 | #53

    @Peter Lang

    I’m relying on your posts at BNC. I recall your line there very well. It’s notable here that you don’t even deny that the above (a–> c) are your views.

    You want a discussion about a non-problem you say is potentially catastrophic, because you declare that AGW is a non-problem that we say is catastrophic.

    It seems to me that until that paradox is banished there really is no “clear issue” to address. There’s really only a murky one living purely in your fevered desire to defend the right of the polluters to use the biosphere as an industrial sewer.

  54. BilB
    June 11th, 2012 at 13:42 | #54

    Nice and succinct phrasing, Fran

    “the right of the polluters to use the biosphere as an industrial sewer”

  55. Fran Barlow
    June 11th, 2012 at 13:45 | #55

    For those interested in compliance processes associated with CO2 emissions measurement:

    How are these activities measured? {Clean Energy Future site}

    There’s a PDF there for those keen as well.

  56. Peter Lang
    June 11th, 2012 at 13:52 | #56

    John,

    Peter Lang, you seem to be unaware that CO2 emissions are generated primarily by burning carbon-based fuels, which are already part of the tax system. There is no need to make additional measurements.

    You say I make silly statements. Why would you say I am not aware that “CO2 emissions age generated primarily by burning carbon based fuels?” I sugges that is a silly statement. Why would you make that assumption? Surely you could only make such an assumption if you had not read my comments on the April thread or on the ”The ultimate cost of the ETS” http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=13578&page=0

    I get the impression your comments are dismissive and are trying to avoid getting engaged in the substance of the question I’ve raised.

    The point is that we do not have precise and accurate measurements of CO2 emissions (or the other 23 Kyoto gases). The most important is CO2. But we do not have any measurements of it. We only have estimates. And they are very crude. I’ve explained that before. I am wondering if you have understood that point. Perhaps you have not.

    If you do think we have measurements of CO2 emissions – even from our power stations, let alone from other sources – let me know and I’ll explain why you are wrong.

    To assist me to understand your reluctance to deal seriously with this issue, could you please tell me what level of precision and accuracy you say will be ultimately required for CO2 emissions (and for the other Kyoto gases)? If you say a low level of precision and accuracy will be acceptable in the ultimate system, can you explain why that is so?

  57. BilB
    June 11th, 2012 at 14:48 | #57

    Peter Lang,

    As an ex geologist you know only too well that all quantity evaluations are best measurement quantitative extentions so you have a cheek demand absolute measurements from other areas of enterprise. As a community we accept performance tolerances which we know average out over time to provide a high degree of accuracy. Your OnLineOpinion piece is just a typical repeat of the fallacious argument that you have been pushing for some time now.

    The fact is that it is not possible to make accurate measurements of CO2 releases at ground level simply because they are heavily climate dependent, and measurements made for one set of climatic conditions can be the opposite for another set of conditions in the very same area at another time. This was a lesson that Europe learnt some years ago when a hot dry period reversed their environmental CO2 flows.

    Further exacerbating the ability to be absolute about ground level CO2 emissions is the failure of the Coalition opposition (in Australia’s case) to accept the projections for climate change progress as put forward by our scientists. Politicians know more than these people it seems as do many at BNC. So your agument is futile as it operates in the margin of error which for the present time is largely political, on the one hand and largely undefined on the other. The undefined aspect is the product of the success or failure level of Climate Change Action.

    So in simple terms the answer is …….yet again……that the ETS CO2 monitoring is confined to the area of fossil fuel consumption that causes the greatest degree of damage. And as your enquiry to government pointed out the cost of managing that is around 80 million dollars per year, which I believe correlates with precisely with Professor Quiggin’s earlier answer.

    Sadly, Peter Lang, you have become like a dripping tap on this issue, your volume rate and substance never changes, so I believe that the Professor’s earlier response was the correct one. Turn the faulty tap off at the mains.

  58. Fran Barlow
    June 11th, 2012 at 15:00 | #58

    @BilB

    One might further add that emissions associated with the harvest, transport and processing of fossil hydrocarbons are very substantially captured by any system focusing on fuel/energy inputs. Yes it’s true that mines can release CH4 in ways not correlated with the actual rate of ore recovery — I believe also that there are coal seams in China that burn continuously, but in the grand scheme of things these are fairly peripheral.

    The driving force behind current emissions trend is the fossil hydrocarbon fuel cycle. Clean that up, plug up the gassy and emitting mines and orebodies, and almost all of the new forcing disappears.

  59. chrisl
    June 11th, 2012 at 15:13 | #59

    Amazing… John Quiggin is referred to favourably by Steve McIntyre as he breaks another hockey stick
    “John Quiggin, a seemingly unlikely ally in criticism of methods used by Gergis and Karoly, has written a number of blog posts that are critical of studies that selected on the dependent variable.”

  60. John Quiggin
    June 11th, 2012 at 19:50 | #60

    I looked this up, but it seems to refer back to some previous controversy that isn’t properly explained in the psot. Of course, there are problems if you select the data set on the basis of the dependent variable, but I can’t see how this would happen if the dependent variable is temperature.

    I spent too much time in the past responding to the silly errors of his co-author McKitrick to worry too much about what is going on here.

  61. Peter Lang
    June 11th, 2012 at 21:06 | #61

    John,

    the answer is to develop ways of dealing with those we can and to ignore the rest

    I interpret this to mean you believe we can measure CO2 emissions and ignore the other Kyoto gasses, and/or you mean we can measure CO2 emissions from sources that are easier to measure, and ignore the rest of the CO2 sources (i.e. like Australia’s starting position of about 500 companies).

    Firstly, that would be a breach of the UNFCCC. We will have to measure emissions of all the twenty-four Kyoto gasses eventually.

    Secondly, we will have to measure all CO2 emissions from all sources eventually. This is one of the main assumptions in the carbon pricing modelling (such as Nordhaus – see my previous comment). The assumptions that must be achieved to achieve the optimal price include:

    • Negligible leakage (of emissions between countries)

    • All emission sources are included

    • Negligible compliance cost

    • Negligible fraud

    • An optimal carbon price

    • The whole world implements the optimal carbon price in unison

    • The whole world acts in unison to increase the optimal carbon price periodically

    • The whole world continues to maintain the carbon price at the optimal level for all of this century (and thereafter)

    Face up to it. If the world is going to price CO2 emissions, all countries and all industries will have to be able to measure emissions from all sources at the level of precision and accuracy that will eventually be required. The same applies to the other Kyoto gasses. That is what will eventually be required. My question asks what will be the compliance cost?

    At the moment Australia does not measure CO2 measurements from any source. And the estimates (not measurements) of CO2 emissions are imprecise and inaccurate.

  62. Peter Lang
    June 11th, 2012 at 21:23 | #62

    Just to give readers some idea of what will be involved, eventually, in trying to measure emissions, I’ll post this comment by an retired engineer, Graeme Inkster
    http://forum.onlineopinion.com.au/thread.asp?article=13578#235297

    I’ve retired from all that estimation but was involved when it started in NSW when I worked for a paint Company making some resins. The short answer is that we didn’t know what specific fuel types or amounts were combusted in our after burner (to reduce all emissions to CO2 and some nitrogen oxides).

    Firstly, a portion of the resin ingredients were chemically changed during reaction, and a mixture of the reactants and the changed substances went straight to the oil fired after burner. It was a complex and variable mixture, and analysing each reaction would have been a nightmare of complexity.

    Also into the afterburner went volatiles from the paint production. As there were over 6,000 products and hundreds of volatile ingredients it was impossible to calculate emissions.

    The 4 “methods” put forward by the public servants ranged from idiotic to bizarre. (No-one in the paint industry could supply the answer, but were threatened with fines if they didn’t).

    I moved on, thankfully, and my successor was a practical (unscrupulous) fellow who responded by generating a vast spread sheet of over 600MB. 16 pages of calculations, I’ve forgotten how many pages of information on composition, tonnage produced, batch sizes and frequency of manufacture. All in 10 point Arial font with no graphics. Factors were assumed and buried in obscure corners with no explanations.

    One resin might be spread over 200 products. And with 6000 rows and 120 columns on a page, try following through that, esp. with references from page to page to another page. It looked impressive, but trying to check it was nigh on impossible, but the public servants were pleased and even recommended that other paint companies consult him! His view was that he retired in 5 years and they wouldn’t figure it out in that time. His comment was “Brains baffle b*llsh*t”.

    This I add happened more than 5 years ago.

  63. Ernestine Gross
    June 11th, 2012 at 21:39 | #63

    I find the conditions listed by Peter Lang not onorous in a theoretical context. They roughly correspond to some conditions in a theoretical model of an economy with complete commodity markets. However, these theoretical conditions are not fulfilled in practice for tradeable (‘marketable’) commodities (not even for tradeable things which are called commodities in commerce). Accordingly, Peter Lang seems to demand more stringent conditions for the pricing of non-marketable commodities (externalities) than for marketable commodities. To illustrate my point, I ask Peter Lang to provide evidence on the level of precision and accuracy of prices paid for the services provided by consultants, lawyers, CEOs and hospital staff.

  64. chrisl
    June 11th, 2012 at 21:59 | #64

    From a poster at CA
    It would appear that the Screening Fallacy may be an example of “selecting on the dependent variable”.

    The assumption is that trees are a proxy for temperature. By selecting only those trees that correlate with temperature, they are over estimating the confidence levels that trees are in fact good temperature proxies.

    By excluding those trees that do not correlate with temperature, they are hiding the data that shows that trees may not be very good proxies for temperature.

    The problem is the underlying assumption, that trees are good temperature proxies, has not been established. Thus, selecting based on the underlying assumption can lead to bias and faulty conclusions.

  65. Peter Lang
    June 11th, 2012 at 22:27 | #65

    Ernestine Gross,

    Thank you for your comment. I’ve asked a question and I am seeking a genuine answer to it. So before you ask me questions can we tackle mine first, please. [I may have a wrong understanding and may be chasing a non-issue; however, I will need to understand why I am wrong. I will only understand if I can get proper, persuasive answers to my questions. Obfuscation, diversion and avoidance of the substance of my questions doesn't help at all. In fact, it suggests those avoiding the question and obfuscation are hiding something or more interested in an ideological agenda than in advocating good policy].

    My main question I’ve been asking is in my first post on this thread and better presented here:
    http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=13578&page=0

    Can you tell me, and provide examples, of what level of precision and accuracy is required for measurement of quantities for trade in a commodity?

  66. Ernestine Gross
    June 11th, 2012 at 23:01 | #66

    Peter Lang,

    1. My post @13 is related to your post @11. My response to your post @15 relates to your post@11 and my post @13.

    2. I have nothing to add because I do not know that you have withdrawn your post @11.

  67. BilB
    June 11th, 2012 at 23:14 | #67

    Ernestine #13,

    Good points.

    There is however a key difference. The Carbon Price is more akin to a payroll tax than an income tax. For a payroll tax the only figure required is the total annual payroll figure ie the employment fuel. Individual disbursements and their timing are not required to achieve the goal of providing consumption (employment) drag.

    With regard to Peter Lang’s #12 post above, today complex hydrocarbons are disassembled in Plasma Gasification processes to form a fuel building feedstock which allows the construction of new more readily used fuels such as diesel. This is the same process that is used to convert carbonaceous domestic waste to fuels.

    Peter Lang’s real problem is that, being a climate change denier, his focus is to prevent all renewable energy uptake and to disrupt the means of stimulating the uptake of renewable technologies. It is this focus that makes him missunderstand the operating principle of the Carbon Price and the subsequent ETS. Lang has latched on to the notion of charging for emissions and assumed that emissions therefore must need monitoring post combustion at the exhaust port, failing to see that monitoring is unnecessary for most if not all industries as emissions are to be taxed precombustion at bulk source.

  68. BilB
    June 11th, 2012 at 23:33 | #68

    Peter Lang,

    Don’t you agree that the time has come when you should seek preselecion for a political party and put you arguments to the Australian people at large. This way you can proudly wear your Libertarain (I assume) colours and be an honest broker for change.

  69. Ikonoclast
    June 12th, 2012 at 08:05 | #69

    I think Peter Lang’s claims are pure humbug regarding the difficulty of measuring CO2 emissions. He is a advancing a straw man argument. At the level of compliance control (via a carbon tax) the measurements will be an estimate with (my guess) plus or minus 2.5% error.

    It is very easy to put an estimate on CO2 emissions from major sources. For example, coal is already (chemically) analysed and (administratively) classified in many jurisdictions. Tables exist of the classes of coals, their percentages of carbon, of volatiles and of trace elements. From these tables it is very easy to calculate the total mass of carbon per ton of coal. All coal burning businesses know what class of coal they burn and adminstrative authorities already know too due to existing laws about sulphur content and other pollutants.

    The same applies to hydrocarbon fuels. Industrial chemists in industry and in government departments already know the makeup of all major fuels in the fuel stream. These factors already need to be understood and measured for both industrial processing purposes and compliance with current pollution laws.

    In the case of burning waste products of a complex and mixed chemical character, we can note the following.

    (1.) These are not major sources of CO2 release compared to the burning of fossil fuels.
    (2.) Therfore a higher level of measurement error can be tolerated if necessary.
    (3.) A number of simplifying assumptions can be made (more below). *
    (4.) Under the aegis of simplifying assumptions the government can estimate and then “deem” the releases to be of a certain magnitude.

    * Note: Any paint manufactury will or should know the weight and chemical composition of all inputs to its manufacturing process. From this a calculation of the weight of carbon input can be made. It should also know the weight and chemical composition of all outputs put to wholesale. From this a calculation of the weight of carbon ouptu in product can be made. The missing carbon ( a simple subtraction operation) can be assumed (deemed) to have all disappeared up the flue of the waste burner. Doh! It isn’t that complicated. Most data will come from inventory data and industrial chemical analysis which is already performed for manufacturing process and business management purposes.

  70. Peter Lang
    June 12th, 2012 at 10:05 | #70

    Ernestine Gross,

    Do you really expect to be taken seriously when you play games like this? Won’t answer questions. Avoid, divert and obfuscate. How childish.

    If you don’t want to engage, why did you write a comment in the first place?

    If you or anyone else here had a rational answer to my question you’d be providing it instead of all the silly game playing. Every answer John has provided so far (that is not avoidance or a diversion) has been shown to be wrong.

    The fact you play games like this is pretty clear demonstration that I do not have a misunderstanding about this at all. It is becoming plainly evident that the compliance cost issue is serious and it will become a huge cost over time. The ETS legislation has clearly been advocated and imposed on Australia without the proper cost analysis having been done. This is another case of many others, such as the NBN, BER, ‘Pink Bats’ insulation program, grocery watch, green loans, green cars, and who knows how many others. However, this will be orders of magnitude greater cost than all the others put together. That is the message I get from your obfuscation and silly games.

    And this is what’s behind Australia’s policies. Wow!

  71. June 12th, 2012 at 10:32 | #71

    Peter Lang, do you think human activity is having a significant effect on climate?

  72. Peter Lang
    June 12th, 2012 at 10:57 | #72

    Ikonoclast,

    You are guessing and babbling about something you do not have the slightest clue about.

  73. Peter Lang
    June 12th, 2012 at 10:57 | #73

    I’ve re-read #13, to try to understand what Ernestine Gross point is. She asks:

    I ask Peter Lang to provide evidence on the level of precision and accuracy of prices paid for the services provided by consultants, lawyers, CEOs and hospital staff.

    I thought the question was silly and irrelevant to the topic. The precision is $0.01 and the accuracy is 100% on all of these. Labour, consultants and lawyers charge by the our or by an agreed fee for a service. Time is measured precisely and accurately, so precision and accuracy is not an issue. The fee for the service is agreed and that fee is paid. The question has no relation to the question about pricing carbon emissions, a commodity which cannot be measured with precision or accuracy.

    In the case of CO2 emissions, the commodity is measured in tonnes. We cannot weigh it like we can other commodities. So the issues is accuracy and precision of the measurement of CO2 emissions.

  74. John Quiggin
    June 12th, 2012 at 11:37 | #74

    OK Peter, I think we’ve established that further discussion is useless. Please don’t post here any further.

  75. June 12th, 2012 at 11:52 | #75

    I used a black painted box to solar bake a home made muslei bar. Mmmm… Nuttier than a lumpy chocolate bar.

  76. Julie Thomas
    June 12th, 2012 at 13:30 | #76

    May I change the subject?

    I just read this in a transcript from the link below and am wondering if it is true that the ‘self-help’ industry is growing so strongly.

    “Rachael Kohn: Well that’s so interesting. Steve Salerno, when it comes to unhappiness with ourselves, there’s nothing quite like the New Age movement to provide every kind of remedy, is there? So how big is that industry?

    Steve Salerno: Well it’s recently been tracked as an $11-billion industry, and I think it’s interesting that when you look at the fact that practically every other industry here in America is collapsing and needs a bail-out, self-help is the one industry that’s still growing at enviable, double-digit rates. Or at least 5.5% last year when nobody was spending money on anything else, they were spending money on self-help.”

    http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/spiritofthings/seven-deadly-sins-envy/3090866

  77. BilB
    June 12th, 2012 at 14:45 | #77

    Julie Thomas,

    Google is always your best friend with these sorts of things

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=sham-scam

    “Surrounding SHAM is a bulletproof shield: if your life does not get better, it is your fault–your thoughts were not positive enough. The solution? More of the same self-help–or at least the same message repackaged into new products”

    That is one point of view, anyway. I’m sure that there are many others.

  78. Alan
    June 12th, 2012 at 15:37 | #78

    SHAM is not completely irrelevant to the Lang contortions in this thread. SHAM is the dominant religion in the western world. In it’s ‘prosperity goal’ branch it is a recruiting office for the Republicans in the US. Groups in Australia like Hillsong look alls et to become recruiting offices for the Coalition as well. SHAM is also the rigntwing cure to climate change. If we all just think it away then we can click our rubes;pipers together and it will be gone.

    Hockey’s claim that the economy may be going great but how much greater would it be going under a good (IE Coalition) government is really just more of the same.

  79. Alan
    June 12th, 2012 at 15:37 | #79

    Ahem, ‘ruby slippers’.

  80. NickR
    June 14th, 2012 at 13:49 | #80

    This may be old news, but JQ gets a mention by Paul Krugman on Great Minds with a reference to zombie economics. About 8 min in.

  81. NickR
    June 14th, 2012 at 13:52 | #81

    Bah I didn’t realize that the link would show up like that… Apologies

  82. BilB
    June 14th, 2012 at 20:24 | #82

    Very good link NickR, thanks.

  83. frankis
    June 15th, 2012 at 13:06 | #83

    Christine Lagarde of the IMF says

    To ensure development is sustainable, the quest for global economic growth must coexist with environmental protection and social progress …

    “We are facing a triple crisis – an economic crisis, an environmental crisis and, increasingly, a social crisis,” IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said in a speech at the Center for Global Development in Washington.

    “The global economy is still rocked by turmoil, with uncertain prospects for growth and jobs,” she told the audience. “The planet is warming rapidly, with unknown and possibly dire consequences down the line. Across too many societies, the gap between the haves and have-nots is getting wider and strains are getting fiercer.”

    As these threats feed off each other, she urged governments to pursue joint solutions by restoring financial stability, accurately pricing energy including renewable sources and promoting inclusive growth.
    …….

    http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/cndy/2012-06/14/content_15500388.htm

  84. Tom
    June 15th, 2012 at 13:19 | #84

    @frankis

    With the IMF imposing austerity in an economic slump, financial stability won’t come anytime soon. Unless of course, this is what the neo-liberals want, to argue that acting on climate change will cause ‘economic armageddon’ like what the lunatic in catallaxy did.

  85. frankis
    June 15th, 2012 at 13:42 | #85

    I think Tom she was arguing the case for saving the world by saving the environment and saving the poor developing peoples. So the opposite of “acting on climate change will cause ‘economic armageddon’”.

    I liked her comments particularly because I wrote on the 10th, above “We seem to be living in remarkable times … it would have to be sad were we to be overlooking or undervaluing solutions that might simultaneously address the world’s current economic, social (unemployment for instance) and environmental crises. And … economies absent plague or famine are increasingly psychological phenomena, aren’t they?”

  86. frankis
    June 15th, 2012 at 13:48 | #86

    Fox News (yes you read that right) adds

    “Getting the prices right means using fiscal policy to make sure that the harm we do is reflected in the prices we pay,” she said.

    The IMF chief said not only would greenhouse gas fees or other tax-like policies help curb emissions, but they could also give a boost to government coffers in sore need of cash, as well as drive economic development of low-emission technologies. For example, she said the U.S. could raise over $1 trillion in new cash over a decade if it implemented a $25-a-ton carbon tax. Also, international charges for aviation or maritime emissions could help developing countries pay for strategies meant to protect against the impact from potential climate changes.

    http://www.foxbusiness.com/news/2012/06/12/imf-chief-calls-for-co2-taxes-to-bulk-up-revenue-tackle-climate/

  87. Tom
    June 15th, 2012 at 15:19 | #87

    @frankis

    I have nothing against what Christine Lagarde said in that article. I was worried however, that she maybe believe what she said by heart. With the current economic slump in Europe, it isn’t too difficult for the neo-liberals to argue acting on climate change will cause ‘economic armageddon’ (what Tony Abott is doing and what Samuel J did in catallaxy). Given her records of attitudes and policy towards Europe and Greece, I do have an impression that she is a neo-liberal.

    However, I have trouble understanding what’s going on in IMF or how that organisation operates to be honest when their chief economist, Olivier Blanchard speak things that is directly opposite of what the IMF is doing at the moment.

    http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/spn/2010/spn1003.pdf

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/business/imf-musings-can-higher-inflation-be-a-good-thing-a-679593.html

  88. Tom
    June 15th, 2012 at 15:31 | #88

    @frankis

    My response in moderation. To simplify, I agree what she saying is a good thing (I have always supported acting on climate change) but given what the conservatives are doing (Abott, Samuel J in catallaxy), it may not have good outcomes for the climate change ‘debate’ given the current economic slump in Europe and since the IMF is kind of doing everything they can to keep them in a slump.

    Corrections in my previous (moderated comment) – “that she maybe believe what she said by heart” should be “that she may not believe what she said by heart”

  89. Ernestine Gross
    June 17th, 2012 at 15:50 | #89

    Why I’ll buy gold if Merkel and Associates agree to Euro bonds.

    For quite some time my intuition was that the conversion of national bonds, denominated in Euro currency units and issued by various EU governments, into Eurobonds would suit the proverbial Wall Street bankers (including those in Frankfurt and London) and nobody else (except perhaps some macroeconomists). A conversion of say Greek bonds into Eurobonds would spread the risk over more people and hence provide a cover for the proverbial Wall Street bankers (and macroeconomists) to carry on as before. I am not in the habit of trusting my intuition. But the other day I received a bit of information from an interview of a ‘finance expert’ who belongs to the proverbial Wall Street set. She said, on TV, something to the effect that, prior to the GFC her industry lent money to Euro member countries on the same terms because they have the same currency.

    Think about it. The content of this bit of news amounts to saying everybody who issues a debt security denominated in a particular currency unit has the same ability to repay the loan! Credit analysis goes out the window. Well this is how sub-prime mortgages were generated – NO? This is how the US citizens were made to pay for the proverbial Wall Street bankers and their allies, the rating agencies and those in politics who are responsible for legislation.

    This is how people who try to live within their means are being made to pay for the fantasies and incredible irresponsibility of others. This is how voters in some countries are robbed of their rights by being forced to pay for the decisions of other governments, whom they did not elect. This has nothing to do with ‘austerity’ versus ‘spending’ (or any of the other macroeconomic theories reviewed in JQ’s book on Zombie Economics). This has something to do with supporting a rip-off financial system that treats people as mere pawns in their grand scheme of enriching themselves via a legitimised Ponzi scheme. This is unsustainable. This is the Zombie of the Roaring Twenties that preceded the Great Depression (unfortunately, Paul Krugman doesn’t talk about this in public addresses, linked to above).

    The Greek people can be helped via EU development programs under the control of the EU commission. In other words, any wealth transfers between the still financially sound countries and the strugglers is to be under the control of the institutions that integrate the democratically elected governments in the Euro-zone and not under the control of the proverbial Wall Street bankers.

    So, the way I see it, either the G20 get together to change the rules of the game of the financial system (narrow banking is not enough) or one buys physical things, such as land, real estate, or gold.

  90. Chris Warren
    June 17th, 2012 at 20:45 | #90

    So, the way I see it, either the G20 get together to change the rules of the game of the financial system (narrow banking is not enough) or one buys physical things, such as land, real estate, or gold.

    We need better than this. Vague calls such as for ‘changing rules’ (!!!???) fill the internet.

    Vague blaming for peoples supposed ‘irresponsibility’ is a placebo.

    Surely, by now, honest Keynesians must seriously re-examine their doctrinaire stances. Hoping that good times will return, to obviate the need for stimulus, is not good enough.

  91. Ernestine Gross
    June 17th, 2012 at 21:10 | #91

    “changing rules (!!!???)”

    Question arises from copy error. The expression is: Changing rules of the game of the financial system. (ie changing the institutional, speak legislative, environment)

    Providing false data is irresponsible; the placebo is to say it is not.

    ‘Keynesians’ please stand up.

    “Stimulus” of what? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stimulus

  92. Chris Warren
    June 17th, 2012 at 23:27 | #92

    “Stimulus” ?

    They get 1 trillion euros – and just cry for more….

    http://money.cnn.com/2012/04/19/markets/ecb-euro-financing/index.htm

    This is what Samuelson-dogmas have produced. These are the so-called “rules” that have to be changed. Capitalism is the game.

  93. June 18th, 2012 at 01:14 | #93

    (This post belongs in the comments section of “High-cost basin plan water is bad for all” of 2 June, but comments in response to that article have been closed.)

    I consider these four embedded YouTube broadcasts of talks by Robert F. Kennedy Jr an a amazing discovery. Robert Kennedy seems to have every bit as much vision and compassion for humankind as his late father and his father’s elder brother, the late President Kennedy and even more talent:

    Robert Kennedy Jr. “Crimes Against Nature”

    How Corporations Threaten Our Environment and Democracy

    Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on the media

    Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (6/16/11)

  94. June 18th, 2012 at 01:22 | #94

    Book review: Meta-Geopolitics of Outer Space by Nayef Al-Rodham

    Here is a book by a philosopher and neuroscientist about how to keep Outer Space safe for everyone. “Dr. Al-Rodham hopes his book will spark new conversations about ways to increase the benefits of space for all countries, while expanding the working definition of “sustainability.” Sustainability is no longer just about using recycled paper products or eating local organic produce grown by eco-conscious micro-farmers. It’s also about thinking far beyond the Earth. And, stresses Dr. Al-Rodhan, these are issues that affect each and every one of us. “Ultimately,” says Dr. Al-Rodhan, “space will either be safe for everyone or for no one.” (And we could use a little more common-good planning on earth as well

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