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Mums and Dads

January 11th, 2013

I don’t have a strong view on the hoax announcement that ANZ had withdrawn its support for the Whitehaven coal project. However, I do have some thoughts on the widespread claim that “Mums and Dads” lost significant sums of money as a result of the short-lived fall in share prices that ensued.

First, the claim is undoubtedly true. By the time they have enough money to invest in, or speculate on, the share market, the great majority of Australians have children. Nathan Tinkler, for example, is a father of four. Gina Rinehart is, at least according to her kids, a spectacularly bad mother, but she’s a mother all the same. The unremarkable fact that most owners of shares have children does not entitle them to any particular sympathy.

More importantly, this was a zero sum event. For every Mum, Dad, or childless person who lost money by selling at the bottom, another gained by buying.

Finally, what kinds of Mums and Dads lost money on this event? Anyone who left their investment portfolio unchanged over the course of the day was unaffected. So, the losers fall into two groups
(a) Unsuccessful speculators, who might be better advised to spend more time with their kids and less time playing the market
(b) A few unlucky parents who shifted their long-term investments the right way (that is, out of coal) but at precisely the wrong time

As regards Mums and Dads in group (b), I offer the consolation that, while they didn’t get the timing precisely right, a decision to sell coal stocks will very probably turn out well in the long run. And, as far as investing is concerned, getting out of coal is certainly the best thing they could do for their children.

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  1. Katz
    January 12th, 2013 at 14:45 | #1

    JR, have you ever heard of the Case-Church Amendment of 1972 and the Nixon veto-busting majority it received in both Houses of Congress?

    After that amendment, there was no more war for Americans in Indochina.

    The protest movement got what it wanted before the end of the draft in late 1972.

    If you want to stop being foolish, you really should try to avoid regurgitating wingnut myths.

  2. Jim Rose
    January 12th, 2013 at 15:03 | #2

    @John Quiggin As you ask, the Vietnam anti-war movement were primarily the result of the draft: hell no we won’t go etc and the burning of draft cards.

    Vietnamisation and college exemptions from the draft changed everything.

    By the beginning of 1972, over 400,000 U.S. personnel had been withdrawn, virtually all combat troops. The protests were against ending up in the jungle – not up the rear with the gear.

    There is a large literature on how college exemptions to the draft during the Vietnam War led to an over-supply of graduates in the 1970s. The over-educated American. Draft deferments for married men and fathers affected average marriage ages too, as I recall.

    p.s. a Vietnam vet told me that when he returned to his U.S. campus in 1971, it was very quite compared to 1969 because the spectre of the draft had gone in their minds.

  3. Ootz
    January 12th, 2013 at 15:49 | #3

    Katz, the problem with wing nuts is, they are superficially critical for either simple reasons, such as just to be contrarian or alternatively for obvious self or vested interest. So like real wing nuts they tend to stick out so one constantly bumps into them or get caught with the cleaning rags. However, they are practical; you can unwind them easily. So lets see what JR is holding together.

    I made clear early on that, like our host, Moylen’s action is not my style. First, if you accept the proposition, like you do, that in certain social situations it is allowed to break the law for the betterment of the society, then who is going to be the arbiter, history? Further, if you extend that sort of reasoning universally could that not end in a state of anarchy. Second, talking about style, my personal favorite is Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi’s Satyagraha,. Then take Martin luther King, Lech Walesa, indeed Martin Bubers “Man’s Duty As Man” and it kind of goes right back to Thoreau. There are certainly plenty of other options available that people can take as civil action. As I argued previously, The Destroy the Joint movement was to a large part successful, because they themselfs kept it clean That is what you do when you stand up to a bully and say “Sorry, your behaviour is not tolerated for these reasons … and if you continue this way then x is going to happen.” the question is which one is the most suitable to achieve the result we would like to achieve in relation to coal and mining. Perhaps it would not hurt to ask the koories, murries and noongars et al. about their experiences on their land. As it is, in my parts and back then, most of their land and livelyhood was lost in the mad gold and grazing rush, and all for economic growth.

  4. Bring back Birdy at Catallaxy
    January 12th, 2013 at 16:02 | #4

    Ootz, I have formed the opinion that had you been the Australian cricket captain in 1932-33, you would have responded to Bodyline much as Bill Woodfull did, and would have resisted the advice of hard-nosed types like Vic Richardson that the most effective response by Australia would be to select Laurie Nash and Eddie Gilbert to open the bowling and beat the Poms at their own game. :-)

  5. Katz
    January 12th, 2013 at 16:23 | #5

    Ootz, your use of the word “allowed” generates a potent ambiguity.

    “Allowed” can mean legal or licit. Yet it is true that one may act entirely legally with profound bastardry. It is clear that Moylan acted illegally. He did the crime he should be willing to do the time. Who knows, he may become a minor martyr for a good cause.

    Outside the frame of the law “allowed” can mean justified by one’s own sense of right and wrong. Here we are in “A Man For All Seasons” territory. You may recall how Sir Thomas More sought all manner of stratagems to avoid becoming a martyr. Yet there came a time when his conscience gave him no choice. Did STM stop attempting to avoid commitment too soon? Didn’t he have choices? I guess Moylan also had choices but in the end, STM felt that he couldn’t look at himself in the mirror without self disgust.

  6. Ootz
    January 12th, 2013 at 16:36 | #6

    Bring back Birdie, as you may gather I have a CALD backround, thus cricket utterly escapes me. You are welcome to translate your comment in another context. If it helps, I have done armed service, lived several of my formative years in civil wars, had guns poked at me, saw whole townships burn down, dead people in the streets …. Options are a precious gift when you want to change the world. However, they do not preclude assuming a last stance, as long some thought went into. As I understand, at present we have available more than five times over the amount of fossil fuel to turn into energy and CO2 than is required to keep at a minimum of ‘safe’ 2 degrees C level and a growing population all wanting GROWTH. PriceWaterhouse reports, that to keep to the 2oC ‘safe level’ we, globally, need to achieve 5% co2 emission reduction every year from NOW. Surely no situation to play games and amuse ourselfs?

  7. Bring back Birdy at Catallaxy
    January 13th, 2013 at 06:05 | #7

    Ootz, in the serious light of morning I agree with you, especially your last three sentences.

  8. Jim Rose
    January 13th, 2013 at 09:14 | #8

    @Katz There were 24,000 US troops in Vietnam in 1972. this compares to 560,000+ in 1969. The senate voting to end the war when that was Nixon’s policy was a token gesture.

    I remember some guy saying that peace was at hand just before the election.

  9. Ootz
    January 13th, 2013 at 09:43 | #9

    Thanks, Bring back Birdy and Katz for making me nostalgic of Brian’s CC threads on the old LP.

    “I guess Moylan also had choices but in the end, STM felt that he couldn’t look at himself in the mirror without self disgust.”
    Katz, what a poignant summary, perhaps all of us should look at ourselves and our involvement with fossil fuel. Not all of us are capable or willing to perform in a media. Nor do media stunts and publicity solve the problem per se. There are many more actions individuals, including mums and dads, can take to become proactive and indeed resilient in the face of the co2 behemoth. Personally I’d like to see an organised push to shame investors in dirty energy. However, as individuals we then also have to be prepared to stop taking advantage from ‘cheap and easy’ options to fuel our habits. It is a drug, you know, or as Mick Jagger puts it:

    Please allow me to introduce myself
    I’m a man of wealth and taste
    I’ve been around for a long, long year
    Stole many a man’s soul to waste

    Pleased to meet you
    Hope you guess my name, oh yeah
    Ah, what’s puzzling you
    Is the nature of my game, oh yeah

    I shouted out,
    “Who killed the Kennedys?”
    When after all
    It was you and me
    ….
    So if you meet me
    Have some courtesy
    Have some sympathy, and some taste
    Use all your well-learned politesse
    Or I’ll lay your soul to waste, mm yeah

    Tell me, sweetie, what’s my name

  10. Bring back Birdy at Catallaxy
    January 13th, 2013 at 10:00 | #10

    Ootz, can I recommend “Greenwash” by Guy Pearse as a guide to the traps and pitfalls that the corporates are setting for those of us who want to do the right thing by the climate?

  11. January 13th, 2013 at 13:20 | #11

    Jim Rose, you’re making sh!t up. Again.

    From the statements you’ve made, it’s clear you’re too young (unlike me) to have direct, personal memory of the anti-war protest movement. While it’s true that the Australian anti-war movement became irrelevant upon Whitlam’s election in 1972 when he called the troops home and told the Nashos they could leave any time they wanted, it was still ongoing in the USA, as they still had troops in Vietnam.

    Still, you’ve never let facts interfere with a good story in the past, so I can understand why you’d stick with what looks like a winning strategy.

  12. kevin1
    January 13th, 2013 at 13:50 | #12

    @Jim Rose Can you substantiate that student opposition to Vietnam declined in 1971 because “the spectre of the draft had gone in their minds.” Wikipedia on Draft Evasion cites a govt document which says in 1969 “it implemented new standards that greatly restricted the availability of deferments. They were ended for graduate students and limited for undergraduates.” and this Slate article http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_reckoning/2012/08/23/_2012_brings_a_field_without_military_service_does_it_matter_.html claims “The actual draft had been suspended in 1973, with the U.S. withdrawal, and then Gerald Ford abolished the selective service (registration) requirement in 1975.”

    Although you imply that the motives of those opposed to the war are devalued by their concerns about being drafted, it is without question that Republicans and their acolytes were active in avoiding active service. Not just Bush junior and Mitt Romney, but Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Bill Kristol, John Bolton, Donald Trump, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Karl Rove. Nowadays there is almost total abstention from military service by the US upper class, and only 1% of Congress reps have children serving http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=2270473&page=1This link also cites a Duke University study which reportedly says that “when we have the fewest number of veterans in leadership and staff positions in Congress and the executive branch, we are most likely to engage in aggressive (as opposed to defensive) war fighting. And we are most likely to pull out of conflicts early.”

    Tom Barker, the Australian Wobbly did 12 months time in 1916 for publishing a cartoon which said “To Arms! Capitalists, Parsons, Politicians, Landlords, Newspaper Editors and Other Stay-At-Home Patriots. Your country needs YOU in the trenches!! WORKERS, Follow your masters.’’ http://links.org.au/node/1104 It is an unfortunate consequence for our polity that with “volunteer” armies, drones and robots that we can wage war while the great majority of the population is insulated from the slightest discomfort or even awareness.

    Just as former ADF chief Peter Cosgrove said we should never have gone into Vietnam, now Brigadier Cantwell, former chief in Afghanistan says that conflict is not worth the loss of one more Australian life. Rather than old stereotypes of military adventurers, we are fortunate to have military leaders who place more value on loss of life than our political class do.

  13. Katz
    January 13th, 2013 at 13:58 | #13

    @Jim Rose

    @Katz There were 24,000 US troops in Vietnam in 1972. this compares to 560,000+ in 1969. The senate voting to end the war when that was Nixon’s policy was a token gesture.

    You have just demonstrated your incomprehension of the Case-Church Amendment. It didn’t just end the war, it prohibited all future commitment of US forces to designated countries.

    Regardless, your partial understanding of events at the end of 1972 should be sufficient to demonstrate that the antiwar movement had achieved its core demands by that time. Why continue to protest for causes that have already been won? It’s not sensible.

    Granted, fringe organisations wanted to press for greater victories, but these folks were not popular.

  14. January 13th, 2013 at 18:30 | #14

    “A decision to sell coal stocks will very probably turn out well in the long run” seems like good advice.
    The global coal price is in steady decline, competition from US coal exports is ramping up, and natural gas is increasingly replacing coal.

    Investors in coal place their financial security at considerable risk. For example: http://blog.gerbilnow.com/2013/01/nsw-coal-exports-to-double.html

  15. January 14th, 2013 at 12:47 | #15

    Perhaps relevant to this discussion – an article just out in PNAS argue for shareholders to be held liable for the damages that companies cause to the environment and people
    News piece: http://environmentalresearchweb.org/cws/article/yournews/51987
    Paper: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/01/02/1219791110

  16. Uncle Milton
    January 14th, 2013 at 14:58 | #16

    @Megan Evans
    If you want to kill capitalism as we know it, that would be a very effective mechanism. No one would ever invest in anything.

  17. Jim Rose
    January 14th, 2013 at 15:38 | #17

    @Katz A 95%+ reduction in US troops in Vietnam between 1969 and 1972 suggests to me that the US was on the way out of that war by 1972.

    In January 1972, President Nixon announced the removal of another 70,000 troops over the next three months, but 25,000 to 35,000 American troops would remain until North Vietnam released all American POWs. The last US ground combat troops left on 23 August 1972. No war to protest against on a hell no we won’t go basis.

    On ‘Why continue to protest for causes that have already been won?’ in 1972, John Q. was offering to correct an earlier post of mine on the grounds ‘“the antiwar movement in the US in the 60s died off when the draft was repealed.” appears to be missing the phrase “in 1973, after the US withdrew from Vietnam”’

  18. Katz
    January 14th, 2013 at 17:01 | #18

    So, if there was no disagreement between Nixon and the Congressional antiwar majority, why did Nixon threaten to veto the Case-Church Amendment and, when he realised that the numbers were against him, work feverishly to delay its currency?

    Hint: there was serious disagreement. In December 1972, Operation Linebacker II was unleashed on North Vietnam. Such operations did not require any ground troops at all. The antiwar movement suspected correctly that Nixon proposed to continue to prosecute the war by other means. The Case-Church Amendment stymied Nixon’s plans.

    So you see JR, even though Nixon’s strategy required no ground troops and therefore no draftees, the antiwar movement acted effectively to end all forms of US military involvement in Indochina.

    Or to put it in your terms, the antiwar movement wanted to ensure that Nixon got completely out of Indochina, not partially out. And as I said earlier, they wanted to make sure that Nixon stayed out.

    And to return to your original assertion, without the Draft the US would have been incapable of occupying South Vietnam at all. It is therefore impossible to talk about US involvement in Vietnam without also talking about the draft. If the US had simply sent a professional army to Vietnam, there may not have been an antiwar movement spawned by the war. But under those restraints there would not have been a war, or at least one involving the US. Instead, the Viet Cong, with some help from the North would have won a speedy victory.

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