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Weekend reflections

March 17th, 2013

It’s time for another weekend reflections, which makes space for longer than usual comments on any topic. Side discussions to sandpits, please.

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  1. Garry Claridge
    March 17th, 2013 at 10:16 | #1

    In this weekend’s AFR, Tony Abbott has an article. In which he states:

    “… should the Coalition win the election. Along with scrapping the carbon tax and the mining tax, stopping the boats and gettiiig the budget back into the black; along with boosting our competitiveness by cutting red tape and slimming the bureaucracy; along with building the infrastructure that a first world economy in the 21st century needs, fostering community-controlled public schools and hospitals and turning a passive welfare system into a more active one, and along with giving our foreign policy a Jakarta rather than a Geneva focus, I want a new engagement with Aboriginal people to be one of the hallmarks of a Coalition government – and this will start from day one.”

    So, can we assume this implies:
    1. Remove Carbon Price
    2. Remove Mining Super Profits Tax
    3. Attack Asylum Seekers
    4. Fiscal Austerity
    5. Corporate Responsibility Compliance reduction
    6. Public Service reduction
    7. “Infrastructure” Building
    8. Community Controlled Public Schools
    9. Community Controlled Public Hospitals
    10. “Active” Welfare System
    11. Jakarta style Foreign Policy
    12. Aboriginal “Engagement”

    In particular, his claims of Fiscal Austerity and Public Service reduction seem very naive as methods for maintaining a deeply prosperous economy (i.e. long-term widespread prosperity and wellbeing). Why is he not able to see alternative and intelligent methods???

  2. TerjeP
    March 17th, 2013 at 10:50 | #2

    The video version of what Garry refers to is here:-


    I think it is a mixed bag.

  3. March 17th, 2013 at 10:54 | #3

    Professor Quiggin has closed the discussion on sandpit, before I had a chance to respond to Mel’s tirade against me and my web-site, candobetter. I think this is unfortunate, both for me and other site visitors. Those wishing to read my response to Mel, including links to other resources including a very popular article, which includes video broadcasts of a recent public meeting of Syrian Australians for Peace in Syria at the Melbourne Unitarian Church can read it here.

  4. John Quiggin
    March 17th, 2013 at 11:08 | #4


    If I waited until everyone had the last word before closing off, i would be waiting a long time. As your response indicates, this discussion can be carried on better at your own site.

  5. March 17th, 2013 at 11:36 | #5

    I appreciate your concern, Professor Quiggin.

    Thank you for having provided informative and interesting articles and a forum for discussion for all this time.

    Site visitors are most welcome to act on Professor Quiggin’s suggestion and post their comments to our web site. Just conceivably, although this hasn’t happened yet, if we were to judge the contributed material to be too repetitive or too verbose, we might also ask that it be published elsewhere, but we would always allow such material to be linked to from candobetter.

  6. BilB
    March 17th, 2013 at 11:37 | #6

    What Abbott is signalling there GC#1 is an Australian recession the likes of which we have not seen for decades. That level of Federal Austerity on top of the already State Austerity, and coupled with freer corporate profit taking on the one hand and a 1.5% business tax to pay for pregnancy leavers on the other, is a potent mix of messages for an already confused economy.

  7. Jim Rose
    March 17th, 2013 at 11:40 | #7

    See http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9935179/Ukip-steals-a-march-on-Tories.html right-wing popularism is make an incursion in the UK now. The next election is fixed term in 2015.

    In troubled times, democratic elections provide opportunities for radical parties that provide an alternative to discredited policies of incumbent officials.

    The worse the incumbent party, the better even an extremist challenger looks.

  8. March 17th, 2013 at 11:55 | #8

    You don’t consider the policies of the current UK and Australian governments to increase our population through immigration, ‘baby bonuses’, 457 visas and selling university places overseas, when we are faced with inflated education costs, hyper-inflated housing costs, grid-locked peak hour traffic traffic, water shortages, the destruction of bushland and wildlife to be ‘extreme’, Jim Rose (@ #7) ?

  9. Ikonoclast
    March 17th, 2013 at 12:56 | #9

    Let’s hope my predictions are wrong. I predict;

    (a) A Tony Abbott / Liberal federal election victory.
    (b) Harsh budeget austerity measures.
    (c) Stalling of all attempts to deal with environmental and resource depletion problems.
    (d) A final pillaging of the remaining natural capital of the country.
    (e) Harsh financial measures on the unemployed, single parents and basic wage earners.
    (f) Wage restraint but no profit restraint.
    (g) Little infarastructure spending of value.
    (h) Crumbling of the public education system.
    (i) Crumbling of the economy over the next decade.
    (j) Descent of basic wage workers and lower middle class into poverty (joining the unemployed)
    (k) Steady reduction of the environment’s ability to properly sustain future projected populations for Australia.

    T.A. will need only 3 terms and maybe even only 2 to bring all this about. He will probably get them. Labor have destroyed themselves and the values they once stood for so there is no hope there.

  10. March 17th, 2013 at 13:27 | #10

    Ikonoclast (@#9)

    If we had real democracy or Direct Democracy in our constitution, as Switzerland has, that would not be possible. Any proposal for a new law or to repeal an existing law must be put to a nationwide referendum, if more than 100,000 signatures are gathered nationally, or a canton-wide referendum if a commensurate number of signatures are gathered in the canton. There is no way that Howard, Keating, Howard, Bligh, Greiner, Kennett or Newman in recent decades could have so harmed our interests, if we had had the protection given to Swiss citizens.

    On another matter, referred to above, a good antidote to cornucopian idiocy is Sheila Newman’s new book:

    Book Launch SPAVicTas 23 March 2013 of Sheila Newman’s “Demography, Territory, Law: Rules …”

    BOOK LAUNCH & DISCUSSION, Balwyn Library 2pm: Sustainable Population Australia, Victorian and Tasmanian branch

    At this meeting we are proud to launch an exciting new book, published in December 2012, Demography, territory and law: rules of animal and human populations by population sociologist and SPA member, Sheila Newman.

  11. Ikonoclast
    March 17th, 2013 at 15:30 | #11


    It’s interesting. A lot of people on the social democratic left deride Direct Democracy. They seem to see it as a libertarian or front or fifth column that will allow democracy to be highjacked. I am not quite sure why social democrats are so suspicious of direct democracy. Perhaps some social democrats here (Prof. J.Q. for one IIRC) can state why they are so opposed to any version of Direct Democracy.

    It’s pretty clear that our current representative democracy in Australia is only very imperfectly representative of mass democratic opinion. A majority of Australians opposed involvement in the Gulf War 2 (Iraq and Afghanistan) and yet we got it. A majority of voters in all states, so far as I can tell, oppose sell-offs of crucial government infrastructure assets. And it keeps happening bit by bit. It is also pretty clear that our major political parties are bought and suborned by capital in general and mining capital in particular. They are also subservient and servile to the US government.

    Some sort of reform to re-make our democracy as responsive to popular opinion needs to occur. The arrogant know-all, plunder-all elites have control and taking us into total disaster.

  12. Fran Barlow
    March 17th, 2013 at 16:21 | #12


    A lot of people on the social democratic left deride Direct Democracy.

    For the record, my preferred governance model incorporates elements of direct democracy (but is mainly based on an amalgam between deliberative voting and sortition) with direct democracy for the big picture components.

    I’d also like to see better resort to direct democracy making use of electronic voting channels.

  13. Chris Warren
    March 17th, 2013 at 17:07 | #13

    Classic capitalist crisis phenomena are appearing everywhere and the internet is filling up with concerns over a possible global depression.

    Here is the situation for individual insolvencies in England and Wales (fig 2, Quarterly short run, fig 5, annual long-run)

    see: Insolvencies

    In this context, and due to the impact of around 100 trillion of world stimulus, I do not think that skyrocketing stockmarkets are to be taken seriously.

  14. BilB
    March 17th, 2013 at 17:19 | #14

    100 trillion in stimulus spending?????? That would mean that half the states in the world would have had to have access to a trillion dollars to put up. Two short words to describe the probability of that Chris W.

  15. Chris Warren
    March 17th, 2013 at 18:03 | #15


    OK, not stimulus, but global credit stock as at 2009

    see: 109 trillion

    And they want another 100 trillion.

  16. Chris Warren
    March 17th, 2013 at 18:34 | #16

    Capitalism in crisis…

    First of all they take away your job;

    Then your house;

    Then your cash – Capitalism?

  17. TerjeP
    March 17th, 2013 at 18:45 | #17

    I predict as follows:-

    1. Abbott wins the election.
    2. Per capita real government spending continues to grow.
    3. Per capita real government tax revenue continues to grow.
    4. A few pro market reforms.
    5. A few anti market reforms.
    6. Same as the ALP on same sex marriage.
    7. Same as the ALP on drug reform.
    8. No meaningful labor market reform.
    9. Continuation of the NBN but a change of design.

    Boring, boring, boring.

  18. Ikonoclast
    March 17th, 2013 at 18:48 | #18

    @Chris Warren

    “The global credit stock has already doubled in recent years, from $57 trillion to $109 trillion between 2000 and 2009, according to the report.”

    That is almost double in 9 years. Using the rough “rule of 72” to work out compound growth that means about 8% minus 1% (because it wasn’t quite a doubling) = 7% annual growth average. Since world GDP grew at about an average of 3.5% over that time (and this may be generous) then this means global credit stock is growing at about twice the rate of global GDP. Given that we started at high levels of debt (ramped up from 1970 to 2000) this doubling from 2000 t0 2009 despite the GFC correction looks ominous and unsustainable. Capitalism exhibits another unsustainable trend due to end in disaster.

  19. Ikonoclast
    March 17th, 2013 at 18:51 | #19


    Don’t worry. The coming economic collapse will cure your boredom and my overweight problem. Could be a win-win for us.

  20. TerjeP
    March 17th, 2013 at 18:51 | #20

    Regarding democratic reform. I would appoint our senators via sortition. And I would have a citizens veto mechanism where by a citizens initative could repeal any law. I’d also like an act of parliament that makes all regulations by government agencies subject to a ten year sunset clause.

  21. TerjeP
    March 17th, 2013 at 18:52 | #21

    Ikon – when is this economic collapse going to happen?

  22. paul of albury
    March 17th, 2013 at 19:03 | #22

    I wish I could disagree with you on #17, Terje :-/ Not sure about 9, I think there’s a fair chance they’ll kill it unintentionally or at least recklessly

  23. Ikonoclast
    March 17th, 2013 at 19:12 | #23


    It has started. The Financial Crisis of 2007-2008 (Great Recession) was the first round. Europe has not really recovered with (measured) unemployment over 10% and under-employment likely to be double that. Greece, Spain, Portugal, Cyprus, Ireland and possibly soon Italy are in a depression. Greece and Spain face 50% youth unemployment. Cyprus is obviously a basket case. The whole of MENA (Middle East and North Africa) is beyond basket case status. The USA is experiencing a dead cat bounce before its next crash. China’s path is totally unsustainable both from the resources supply and pollution perspectives.

    A slow motion crisis is difficult to perceive in the first 10 years. By 2020 or maybe 2025 at the latest you will be looking back and thinking, gee that fruitcake Ikon was right after all.

    What can we do? Frankly, I think fatalism is the only option now. Events and financial conditions will be so chaotic that there is almost no predicting safe strategies, personal or financial. But I would rather be in Australia than almost any other country. Being a long way from most of the rest of the world may now be our best asset.

  24. Ikonoclast
    March 17th, 2013 at 19:27 | #24

    @Chris Warren

    I had to check it wasn’t the 1st of April! Cyprus has signed its own economic death warrant by this action. Its economy will implode. Capital flight, residential flight, an unstoppable bank run and a catastrophic collapse in aggregate demand.

    Usually, a draconian, one-off, unannounced, unmandated (not an election issue) tax surcharge of 10% on savings over a set amount (to bail out rich bankers no less) would be totally beyond the pale. The level set would pull in many middle class savers and quite a few workers for that matter.

    Interesting thing though is that Cyprus is (or was?) a tax haven. Thus, is it poetic justice? All those expat tax avoiders who were too cheap to pay tax in their own country are now getting stung. Maybe they deserve it. I can’t say I feel much sympathy for tax haven users. Maybe other tax havens are now at risk too. Certainly, tax havens are risky places to have your money in the current climate. Anything can and probably will happen now.

  25. kevin1
    March 17th, 2013 at 19:35 | #25

    What’s your view on the Citizens Electoral Council (part of the crazy La Rouche party) which has been pushing this stuff for many years (Citizen Initiated Referendums)?

  26. Chris Warren
    March 17th, 2013 at 19:38 | #26


    Don’t be so mindless and insensitive to what is going on all about the place:


    and now Cyprus. Who knows what stage Italy is at?

    And no doubt you could name states and cities in the United States in the same collapse. That is your homework.

    It is all covered reasonably well in New Left Review – October 2012. The portents for China are particularly interesting.

    What collapse ?? You are in it.

    Are you waiting for the day when capitalists close your bank account and say “Sorry but we need 10% to bail out our companies”?

  27. Chris Warren
    March 17th, 2013 at 19:39 | #27


    Don’t be so mindless and insensitive to what is going on all about the place:


    and now Cyprus. Who knows what stage Italy is at?

    And no doubt you could name states and cities in the United States in the same collapse. That is your homework.

    It is all covered reasonably well in New Left Review – October 2012. The portents for China are particularly interesting.

    What collapse ?? You are in it.

    Are you waiting for the day when capitalists close your bank account and say “Sorry but we need 10% to bail out our companies”?

  28. March 17th, 2013 at 20:03 | #28

    What has been the record of sortition? I know it was used in Ancient Athens, and to a degree for the initial selection of candidates for jury service. In practical terms would not lead to inappropriate candidates for Senate positions, who would be better off without the experience.

    My prediction is that Queensland will adopt MMP within two electoral terms.

  29. Ikonoclast
    March 17th, 2013 at 20:27 | #29


    I am sure we could all trot out crazy and semile advocates of every idea (good and bad) under the sun. The test is what sensible, logical and compos mentis advocates are saying for any particular idea and whether the contentions of the sane advocates stand up to analysis.

  30. Ikonoclast
    March 17th, 2013 at 20:27 | #30

    Oops, typo. I mean “senile”.

  31. TerjeP
    March 17th, 2013 at 21:39 | #31

    The EU27 just posted a GDP growth rate of negative 0.5%. I agree that is not good but I figured you meant something a bit more than that when you used the word “collapse”. This negative growth figure has be set against the fact that growth has been positive more than negative in the years after the GFC. Of course the GFC was a big hit to growth and the per capita figures are probably worse so it clearly isn’t a good story.

    Interestingly the best growth is coming from Latvia.


  32. sunshine
    March 17th, 2013 at 21:43 | #32

    I think the above predicted effects of a coalition govt look good. Also the loose consensus for immovable stagnation or complete collapse of manditory growth type economics over a 10 to 20 year time frame looks good . Also I agree that labor govt wouldnt make much difference .
    If the Roman empire economy had grown at 2 or 3 percent until now it would be bigger than our solar system . (maybe nanotech could do it !)

    Struggling to find a positive note, might i suggest feebly that opportunity on the national ( or more likely) the local scale can come in/from crisis . (in places where there arent too many guns) . No boredom then ! No time to be depressed .

    My firm prediction for the future on a longer than 20 or 30 year horizon (assuming any kind of general progress for humanity) ; is that one day we will look back on the way we treat animals now the way we now look back on public torture in the dark ages – as something horrible that we went thru to get to the better place we are now in .

  33. Jordan
    March 17th, 2013 at 22:48 | #33


    But I would rather be in Australia than almost any other country. Being a long way from most of the rest of the world may now be our best asset.

    I have been thinking about that for the last 6-7 years. I might decide to move down there after this summer. Sometimes i decide to do it but then get sidetracked by other things here.
    I still hold some hope for Croatia but it is dwindling down.

  34. Chris Warren
    March 17th, 2013 at 23:11 | #34


    You are just incompetant.

    Your figure was only for a quarter. The annual figures (Q to Q, seasonally adjusted) for collapse are:

    Finland -1.4
    Slovenia -2.8
    Portugal -3.8
    Hungary -2.8
    Cyprus -3.0
    Italy -2.7
    Spain -1.9
    Greece -6.0
    Denmark -1.0
    Czech Rep. -1.7

    But not only this – in most of these economies, the annual comparison with previous years quarter worsened from Q1 to Q4 as the year progressed. This trend is the real pointer.

    Even large economies with faint growth are trending to zero (Japan, United States, Germany) and the UK is bouncing on the bottom – effectively at zero.

    Next time you try this trick – please use per capita data.

    You are just peddling denial.

  35. TerjeP
    March 18th, 2013 at 01:52 | #35

    EU27 growth was negative 0.5% for 2012q4 versus 2012q3. For the annual figure it was negative 0.6% for 2012q4 versus 2011q4.

    The only thing we really seem to be arguing over is the meaning of the word “collapse”. I would normally work with the following sort of hierarchy of economic badness:-

    economic collapse > economic depression > economic recession

    Whether you take EU27 or the eurozone as the region in question I would think the appropriate term for the current situation is “recession”. Some are calling it the “great recession”. I don’t think many have started calling it a “depression”. And calling it a “collapse” seems a bit premature although one might forecast that things are headed that way, hence my question regarding when it will happen.

    Ultimately it’s a semantic argument. I’m not really interested in labouring a semantic argument so long as you’re clear about what you mean. If you call this an economic collapse then so be it.

  36. Jim Rose
    March 18th, 2013 at 05:02 | #36

    Direct Democracy resulted in proposition 8 that banned gay marriage. Similar popular initiatives were passed often easily in 30 other states in the USA. Two further state constitutional amendments failed narrowly.

    A key advantage of representative democracy is minorities can protect themselves from an intemperate and impassioned majority by vote-trading.

    • Many regional and sectional parties have done this successfully around the world. In Australia, they range from the greens and country party to the shooters and fishers party.

    • Family First, new DLP, WA Nats, No Pokies and Katter’s mob are other examples of the ease in which new parties can break into parliament. The little known Christian Democrats lost the last WA senate seat to the Greens in 2010.

    Democracy is a system in which tends to align public policy with public opinion, but there is no reason why public opinion cannot be exploitive and discriminatory.

    The straight up and down votes in a direct democracy results in the exploitation of minorities. They cannot trade their votes on other issues to protect themselves.

    Majorities are well able to get their way through regular elections. An important part of constitutional design is slowing an intemperate and impassioned majority down.

    There is no double secret progressive left majority out there waiting to be heard. There are instead expressive voters who boo and cheer for contradictory agendas.

  37. Ikonoclast
    March 18th, 2013 at 10:26 | #37


    It’s the beginning of the collapse. That’s my argument. It is a recession now overall, a depression already in some countries (Greece, Spain for example) and it’s heading to a global collapse. The collapse will take up to 50 years to play out completely.

  38. March 18th, 2013 at 11:30 | #38


    My prediction is quite similar to yours but differ in the sense how “collapse” is termed.

    The ALP is and most likely will continue to run austerity even if re-elected; the only difference in this aspect is that we (or at least I) perceive the scale of austerity will “very likely”[1] to be bigger and “very likely” to be much harsher to social security under Abbott. Hence the economic damage is “very likely” to be bigger under Abbott than under ALP.

    Also unless our monetary system changes under Abbott, even if he impoverish the nation with hard austerity measures, the consequence is likely to be similar to Japan or worst, UK. Which means pro-longed economic slump but difficult to classify it as “collapse” (however it is still a disaster), if “collapse” is used to describe the kinds of economic woes troubled EMU nations face i.e. Greece, Italy, Spain.

    [1] Although pretty much a near certainty, I think it is still more appropriate to use very likely

  39. may
    March 18th, 2013 at 12:10 | #39


    bulldust bulldust bulldust—-just an opinion

    btw in Sats nufin

    the cartoon caricature had me stymied.

    who was the pointy eared picture trying to picture?
    the closest i could get was Stokesy,but the haulpac (faith might move mountains but haulpacs definitely do) and the little red heart? something to do with caterpillar maybe?

    also Cypriots are a bit annoyed but not as annoyed as the owners of the huge monies that has been parked there.
    i wonder to where the owners of said huge monies will take said huge monies

  40. Chris Warren
    March 18th, 2013 at 12:16 | #40

    Cyprus Capitalist Collapse

    The immediate pain is an expropriation of 6.75 for bank balances less that Euro 100,000 and 9.9 per cent for over 100,000 Euros.

    This is not a tax – a charge for public services. It is expropriation to protect capitalist enterprises.

  41. Troy Prideaux
    March 18th, 2013 at 14:42 | #41

    also Cypriots are a bit annoyed…

    Is that just a term used for those poor depositors of Cyprus or a prophetic portmanteau pun of what’s bound to happen there soon [sigh]

  42. Ikonoclast
    March 18th, 2013 at 15:13 | #42

    @Chris Warren

    As I pointed out, it is worth noting that Cyprus is (or was) a tax haven. Expatriot and international depositors of monies there were seeking to escape the legitimate taxes (charges for public services) of their country of origin in most cases. As such these tax avoiders and/or tax minimisers deserve no sympathy for being stung. The locals might be in a different boat.

    It’s also worth noting that when small to medium investors play big peoples’ games, like tax avoidance, the big sharks always find a way to chomp them. Be warned, the world of capitalist high finance is a world of sophisticated criminals with a vast array of resources, “legal” strategems and dirty tricks way beyond what the other 99.9% can muster.

  43. Chris Warren
    March 18th, 2013 at 15:32 | #43


    Yes, tax haven cash is a key factor. If the expropriation was targeted at only non-resident accounts over a threshold, then fair enough.

    But this appears not to be the case. The interests of foreign investors were protected by a general raid on all accounts. There may be some international treaty guaranteeing foreign capital the same treatment as domestic capital. A higher initial threshold and more progressive rates would have been better.

    UK banks, eg LLoyds TSB, have their foreign-owned sterling accounts registered in Jersey, presumably so they escape any inconvenient requirements under international treaties.

  44. Ernestine Gross
    March 18th, 2013 at 16:19 | #44

    Re Cyprus: According to yesterday’s Sueddeutsche Zeitung, “Schulz”, an EU banking official, proposed to exempt ‘small’ depositors from the levy.

  45. Jim Rose
    March 18th, 2013 at 17:01 | #45

    confiscating bank accounts?! you must wonder what ideas the EU rejected as worse than going after people’s bank accounts.

    we are going to encourage you to hide you money under the bed policies are never the best.

  46. Katz
    March 18th, 2013 at 17:16 | #46

    TerjeP :
    I predict as follows:-
    1. Abbott wins the election.
    2. Per capita real government spending continues to grow.
    3. Per capita real government tax revenue continues to grow.
    4. A few pro market reforms.
    5. A few anti market reforms.
    6. Same as the ALP on same sex marriage.
    7. Same as the ALP on drug reform.
    8. No meaningful labor market reform.
    9. Continuation of the NBN but a change of design.
    Boring, boring, boring.

    I agree. The wild cards are:

    1. Will Abbott get a workable majority in the Senate?

    2. Will Abbott risk a double dissolution if he fails to achieve that working majority?

  47. Ernestine Gross
    March 18th, 2013 at 17:20 | #47

    Jim Rose, it might be useful to be a bit more careful with the description of the EU bailout conditions for Cyprus (“confiscating bank accounts?” Obviously the answer is NO.) An alternative to the bailout conditions might be to let the banks in Cyprus go bust then all deposits might be lost, rather than a little less than 10% of ‘big’ (greater than Euro 100,000), a little over 6% for others and, as proposed by Schulz, EU, 0% for ‘small’ deposits.

    Unfortunately, given the way monetary transactions are recorded, it isn’t possible to quickly have a fairer way of stopping the rot.

  48. kevin1
    March 18th, 2013 at 21:33 | #48

    Remember at post #11 you said “Perhaps some social democrats here (Prof. J.Q. for one IIRC) can state why they are so opposed to any version of Direct Democracy.” That’s what I’m responding to. That is, direct democracy, in its majoritarian prejudice, can cater for local smalltown minds. This may be discriminatory against local minorities – aborigines, homeless etc.

    Or drinkers: I lived in Box Hill Vic for many years where pubs and licensed restaurants were outlawed, with some relaxation recently. This resulted from the temperance movement in the 1920s who achieved local govt statutes in some Council areas requiring residents in a defined area (4 or 5 local streets) to approve of any retailer/restaurant who wanted to sell alcohol. I presume this is the reason for the large BYO incidence in Melb.

    This statute attracted wowser types, Baptists, Salvos etc. to live in BH which reinforced this prohibition influence, and in Box Hill it was always voted down by NIMBYs. Bottle shops at supermarkets were not affected however.(Being a lower to middle class area, people drank like fish, and garbos reported that BH was very high in the rank order of Melb suburbs for their weekly wine/beer containers recycling output.)

    The only exception was the RSL for obvious reasons, but also the BH Golf Club, who played a trick. The statute required the applicant restaurant to advertise in a Victorian daily newspaper of their intention to sell alcohol, and every time it was noticed, objections were made, local referendum held, and negative vote resulted. But the golf club advertised in the Sunraysia Daily, in Mildura, no-one in BH noticed, so no objection or referendum, and the permit was granted. I never confirmed this, but I suspect John Zigouras, a leftwing Greek Labor lawyer who had an office in Mildura and later stood for BH as a Labor candidate, may have been the clever dick.

  49. Chris Warren
    March 18th, 2013 at 22:37 | #49

    Cyprus banks still a target.

    The WSJ reports that a new deal could see depositors with up to €100,000, taxed at 3%; those with €100,000 to €500,000 taxed at 10%; and those with over €500,000 taxed at 15%, while sources told Spanish news agency EFE that the levy on small depositors would be reduced to 3% with those over €100,000 taxed at 12.5%.

    According to the Cyprus Broadcasting Cooperation, the vote in the Cypriot Parliament, originally scheduled for 2pm GMT today, could be postponed by 24 hours as Cypriot President Nicos Anstasiades continues his last minute efforts to secure a majority for the agreement. Anstasiades warned yesterday that voting down the package “would mean being ejected from the Eurozone.”

    Russian President Vladimir Putin called the tax, which will hit the large Russian holdings in Cyprus, “unfair, unprofessional and dangerous,” reports Reuters. According to Greek Reporter, Gazprom offered to cover the cost of the bank restructuring in exchange for exclusive rights to gas exploration in Cypriot territory, although the Cypriot government rejected the proposal. George Osborne said yesterday that the Treasury will compensate UK military staff and officials hit by the levy, but British civilians based in the country would lose out.

  50. Ikonoclast
    March 19th, 2013 at 05:42 | #50

    Ernestine Gross :
    Jim Rose, it might be useful to be a bit more careful with the description of the EU bailout conditions for Cyprus (“confiscating bank accounts?” Obviously the answer is NO.) An alternative to the bailout conditions might be to let the banks in Cyprus go bust then all deposits might be lost, rather than a little less than 10% of ‘big’ (greater than Euro 100,000), a little over 6% for others and, as proposed by Schulz, EU, 0% for ‘small’ deposits.
    Unfortunately, given the way monetary transactions are recorded, it isn’t possible to quickly have a fairer way of stopping the rot.

    Ernestine, this reads to me as if you are in favour of the bailout conditions and expropriation of client monies as a kind of least worst scenario.

    I think the whole scenario illustrated the verity of a number of propositions;

    (1) Small nations (city states, island states) are often economically unviable. They would be better off forgetting parochialism and merging where possible with a larger, viable nation.

    (2) Tax havens are economically damaging, nationally and internationally, to good economic governance and to crime fighting (financial crime, money laundering).

    (3) Larger, viable fiat currency issuing states can and should have at least one state owned national bank (like Australia’s Commonwealth Bank used to be) and the deposits in this bank should be 100% government guaranteed.

    (4) Arbitrary expropriation of banked funds (as opposed to legitimate ongoing taxation) should never be countanced except for proceeds of crime as proven in court.

    Cyrpus will permanently damage its good reputation (if a tax haven can be said to have a good reputation which is doubtful) with this policy. Who now with any sense would ever put a euro, dollar or yen into Cyprus? If they proceed as planned, they will see the mother of all small nation bank runs. A lot of local people will be hurt by this bank run.

  51. Chris Warren
    March 19th, 2013 at 07:50 | #51


    Ernestine’s point:

    it isn’t possible to quickly have a fairer way of stopping the rot.

    is interesting. Using wealth from larger accounts, leaving normal accounts alone, is a fair means of addressing a short-term problem, or a short-term crisis caused by a long-term tendency.

    It does not stop the rot.

  52. Ikonoclast
    March 19th, 2013 at 10:35 | #52

    I think we have to be clear that money is not wealth. Money is a representation of wealth. Moving money from depositors’ accounts to the government account is an accounting exercise like any other accounting exercise. The national debts requiring “servicing” could just as easily be defaulted upon.

    Case A is take money from depositors (depositors lose money).
    Case B is default on debt (lenders lose money).

    It seems to me that mid to high range depositors in Cyprus, probably still little fish compared to the real big sharks, are being hit in preference to hitting the multi-billionaire lenders who would be hit by default. Thus there has to be a hidden dirty reason for doing it this way. There always is in capitalism. The big manipulators are still playing their games.

    It is bizarre that people seem to have forgotten that default is an option IF a country maintains currency sovereignty.

    It is also bizarre to me that the debate is conducted as if money is real. Money IS NOT REAL. It is notional. There is a huge difference between objective reality and notional reality. Only matter and energy and perhaps raw conscious are real. The rest we make up as we go along and we can change our notional inventions as we wish albeit it takes democracy and consensus to do so in our system.

  53. TerjeP
    March 19th, 2013 at 12:49 | #53

    Defaulting on unsecured loans to the government is far better than fleecing deposit holders who have lent money to a private bank. Why you would call the later an example of capitalism is a mystery to me. Appropriating property is a socialist thing. But whatever you call it I think we should all agree that it is a bad thing to do.

  54. Fran Barlow
    March 19th, 2013 at 13:13 | #54


    Appropriating property is a socialist thing. But whatever you call it I think we should all agree that it is a bad thing to do.

    Err no. People “appropriate” property all the time. It’s not an accident that the word “appropriate” has the stem for property and ownership in it. The court system adjudicates matters of property as a matter of core business, depriving some of title or equity in it and awarding it to others where warrant obtains. This country was founded on Europeans “appropriating” the land to their own purposes. All the titles to land that now exist in this jurisdiction derive from that appropriation — and most people in this country think this was a perfectly valid thing, though many are uncomfortable with it.

    It has nothing specific to do with ‘soc|al|sm’ at all, nor is appropriation of property either a bad thing or a good thing apart from the context in which the appropriation occurs.

    The key question should be — who has the most persuasive claim to hold a particular item of property?. That is a question that can only be answered on the basis of one’s cultural paradigm so there is no general answer to the question.

    “Socialism” is concerned with questions of equity — how can property be settled to underpin authentic community, productivity, equity etc …

    It takes account of both social labour and private labour, accepted usage and in broad terms “the greater good”. If appropriation of property is the result of bona fide considerations of this type, then at the risk of punning, it’s entirely apt.

  55. Chris Warren
    March 19th, 2013 at 13:16 | #55


    You are either trolling or deliberately piling error on top of error.

    Cyprus is appropriating property … as a direct consequence of capitalism.

    There is no appropriating property within socialism except where that is what society wants – as in confiscation of proceeds of crime provisions, and the resumption of land provisions that provided for the establishment of ACT, the development of the Snowy Mountains Hydro scheme, building many productive motorways, and will no doubt provide for a second Sydney airport.

    However in Cyprus, the capitalists are planning to just make a direct grab with no recompense.

  56. Chris Warren
    March 19th, 2013 at 13:29 | #56

    Given the verve and vigor “Australia’s leading libertarian and centre-right blog” deals with major economic issues to demonstrate to all the wonders of capitalism, you would think they would have plenty to say when capitalists rob citizens of hard earned cash.

    Nope – eyes shut, ears clamped, mouths gagged, keyboards silent.

    Maybe we could offer a prize to anyone finding a comment, in that other place, on the reality of capitalism, now reality has set in over in Cyprus.

    This Google search failed to find anything.

    site:catallaxyfiles.com cyprus 2013

    What are they really on about?

  57. may
    March 19th, 2013 at 13:54 | #57

    @Troy Prideaux

    prophetic portmanteau pun.

    i’m getting alliteration alley angst.

    as for the actal question.


  58. may
    March 19th, 2013 at 13:54 | #58


  59. Daniel
    March 19th, 2013 at 14:12 | #59

    Recently I have been brought to the attention of a interesting fact, which is “The Commonwealth of Australia” is a registered company under the United States with an American business number. Is this something to be concerned with or a trade requirement?
    There seems to be a documentry on it however I have not had a chance to see it myself, here is a link to the trailer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJxfD2mS0XU
    There are other facts of interest including our coat of arms being trademarked and that certain wording of government forms/websites make it seem that the citizens are actually clients and the government is more of a business.

  60. may
    March 19th, 2013 at 14:44 | #60


    but isn’t the government being more of a business exactly what business wants?

    the idea that “just in time” over-rides “just in case” is at the heart of their chemically difficult reasoning.

    i had to get that in somewhere—-chemically difficult——waaaahehe—nominated for

    “most meaningless conservative phrase of the year”.

    (and so useful)

  61. Tony Lynch
    March 19th, 2013 at 16:11 | #61

    News Flash!

    Julia Gillard today: “It will be a contest counter-intuitive to those believing in gender stereotypes, but a contest between a strong feisty woman and a policy-weak man, and I’ll win it.”

    What??? It is “counter-intuitive” because all the polling evidence is totally the other way. Surely this level of delusion is grounds for immediate removal. Or is the ALP now like the Republican Party an evidence free faith based movement?

    God Help Us.

  62. Fran Barlow
    March 19th, 2013 at 17:49 | #62

    @Tony Lynch

    What??? It is “counter-intuitive” because all the polling evidence is totally the other way.

    That ‘evidence’ is misleading because until the LNP spells out its program, it’s impossible to see who holds the advantage.

    God Help Us.

    If there were a god, the situation and the result would be his doing, so your appeal would be moot. I note the irony entailed in accusing others of being a ‘faith-based movement’ and appealing to ‘God’ for help.

  63. Chris Warren
    March 19th, 2013 at 20:23 | #63

    Labour rats are gnawing away at Gillard still.

    Rumours are emerging that some challenge is possible on Friday.

    Conroy has stuffed things up, practically everything he touches.

    Some say there is a gap of 5 votes, but this is a mile and, at this stage, not worth the constant media feeding by this gang of subversives.

    If a challenge emerges, this means that Rudd has done nothing to quell these forces. This was his public posture. If a challenge emerges, Rudd will be exposed as the master of duplicity.

  64. March 19th, 2013 at 21:00 | #64

    @Chris Warren

    The “media” is saturated with this ‘Stalinist’ (etc.. – insert News Ltd/Fairfax/ABC ‘shock, outrage, fury’ reporting) idea to pass some laws about the media.

    Abbott and Gillard just held hands (metaphorically) and waved through the first two parts of this “outrageous”, “draconian”, “Stalinist”, “extreme” etc.. program of six bills.

    The biggest and least covered by our “media” is cutting airwave rego fees for TV billionaires by 50%!!

    Gillard and Abbott, voting together on this “reform”! And the “media” won’t report this to the wider public because it would ruin the pantomime image of conflict/tussle between the two identical parties running our country.

  65. Ernestine Gross
    March 20th, 2013 at 07:55 | #65

    Ikonoclast, I’ll reply to your #50,p2, on the sandpit

  66. TerjeP
    March 20th, 2013 at 13:32 | #66

    However in Cyprus, the capitalists are planning to just make a direct grab with no recompense.

    The government is doing it. The government is not “capitalists”. And confiscating wealth by force is not capitalism. It is socialism. If you wish to confuse your labels then so be it, however we seem to agree that the decision is wrong in principle.

  67. may
    March 20th, 2013 at 13:33 | #67

    Megan you forgot “horrifying”.

    the rort (sorry) resort (sorry) retort ( blast,get it right nong) r.e.p.o.r.t on a “reached deal” on the front page of nufin?

    a slippery excercise in misdirection.

  68. may
    March 20th, 2013 at 13:44 | #68


  69. Tony Lynch
    March 20th, 2013 at 18:58 | #69


    Of course we can believe the polling! It isn’t “impossible to see who has the advantage” until the LNP policies arespelt out, because we all know those policies anyway. But many of us are going to vote for policies we loathe. & that’s the tragey, * Julia could do something about that…

    Saying “God help us” isn’t to go in for “faith-based theism”, it is to say “The sh*t is going to hit the fan”. (To say that saying this – or, I suppose, “There but for the grace of God” – implies a commitment to Theism is what religious nuts say.

  70. March 21st, 2013 at 00:27 | #70

    So let me summarise for the benefit of senators. On Tuesday, 12 February, I asked the Attorney-General’s Department if an interdepartmental committee had commenced in relation to the Open Government Partnership. The Attorney-General’s Department witnesses assured the committee that no IDC existed and the process had not started. On Thursday, 14 February, I asked a similar question of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and I was told that an IDC did exist. In fact, the committee heard:
    The IDC has met several times … at director level …
    … … …
    The IDC met most recently in January.
    Well, where does the truth lie?
    Tonight I request that the Attorney-General’s Department and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade explain the inconsistencies in the evidence they have provided to the Senate. I request that a clear statement be made on this important matter of the Open Government Partnership as soon as possible in relation to, first of all, the existence of an interdepartmental committee on the Open Government Partnership. I also want to know its membership, the dates of its meetings and its work program. It goes without saying that, if any inaccurate or misleading evidence was provided to either Senate committee, as I have referred to, that is a matter on which I think action should be taken as soon as possible to ensure that the record is corrected. As Senator Feeney is in the chamber at the moment—and doing overtime—I do hope that Senator Feeney will draw my concerns to the attention of Attorney-General Dreyfus and Foreign Minister Carr.

    WTF? Anyone have any idea why the faux lefty Faulkner suddenly appears to be challenging Bob Carr and Dreyfus at this point?

    By all means – hurl Gillard out in the manner she came in, good for a laugh, but don’t expect us to believe that the ALP suddenly stands for something! You’ve had years to demonstrate if you stand for anything other than neo-liberal fascism and you have proven that you don’t.


  71. March 21st, 2013 at 12:57 | #71

    Apparently the anti-Gillard “spill” is on.

    I wonder why? Not the lame excuses, the real reason.

  72. Chris Warren
    March 21st, 2013 at 13:36 | #72

    Megan :

    I wonder why? Not the lame excuses, the real reason.

    A breakout of Queensland disease, mixed with blind ambition, sparked-off by plotters.

    Result – explosion.

  73. March 21st, 2013 at 21:57 | #73

    @Chris Warren

    ALP ultra-right (ie: ALP) has an interesting history of getting a woman to carry out the last gasps of their neo-con agenda just before the party gets slaughtered – Kenneally, Bligh, Gillard (?) – for having a neo-con agenda.

    Still puzzled by the existence of ALP supporters who appear to think LNP is somehow “bad”.

  74. Chris Warren
    March 22nd, 2013 at 16:31 | #74

    Looks like Crean was manipulated by Rudd, and then left hanging.

    As they entered the Caucus room Crean turned to Rudd and said: “You should have rung”.

    See: http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2013/s3721548.htm

    Crean went on to say:

    SIMON CREAN: I spoke to him in the Caucus when we went in. My only words to him were ‘you should have rung’. There is a right way and there’s a wrong way. He took the wrong way. There was only one right way given that he and his team had put us through and he should have exercised it.

    What does Crean mean – “he and his team had put us through”.

    Who is the “us”?

    Who is “his team”?

    I think Australia has had a very lucky escape, if Creans further comments are any guide.

    NAOMI WOODLEY: Simon Crean told News Radio that any future negotiations with Kevin Rudd should be treated with caution.

    SIMON CREAN: I think it would be wise for anyone that has dealings with Kevin Rudd in the future to make sure that they dot every i and cross every t in any conversation he has. He just gives different messages depending on who he’s talking to and this is a classic example of it.

    Too bloody right! Rudd is a danger.

  75. TerjeP
    March 22nd, 2013 at 20:18 | #75

    I like Simon Crean. But the reality is that he executed poorly if his intent was actually to change the leadership. Poor execution seems to be a bit of a pattern with the whole ALP at the moment.

    Oh and they have essentially dumped their media reforms in the midst of all this. Another failure in execution.

  76. Jim Rose
    March 22nd, 2013 at 21:00 | #76

    Rudd lost as PM to the anyone but Rudd candidate.

    Rudd then bottled it when he could have won as the anyone but Julia candidate.

    Those three ministers should have resigned before the ballot when it might have weakened Gillard, not today after the ballot when the resignations makes her stronger.

    Rudd lacks the ticker to be PM.

  77. Chris Warren
    March 22nd, 2013 at 21:55 | #77

    @Jim Rose




    Rudd is biding his time.

  78. March 23rd, 2013 at 01:07 | #78

    Nice post. I was checking constantly this weblog and I’m impressed! Very useful info particularly the ultimate section 🙂 I maintain such information much. I was seeking this certain information for a very lengthy time. Thank you and best of luck.

  79. iain
    March 23rd, 2013 at 14:05 | #79

    Some good recent posts indicating distributed energy and local grids are, potentially, close to reality.


    It will get to the point, potentially soon, that large scale electricity assets will be next to worthless (except as scrap copper).

  80. March 24th, 2013 at 11:45 | #80

    That was painful to read, Iain. I may never get the words ‘electron yolk’ out of my head now. Or the phrase ‘…as fast as two molecules a second.’ Home and business energy storage has a lot of potential, but I doubt we will get rid of power lines any time soon. At least not in towns and cities. Of course, not getting rid of power lines is not the same as not wasting vast amounts of money on recent transmission upgrades.

  81. March 25th, 2013 at 01:13 | #81

    Syrian Foreign Ministry: UNHRC Resolution rejected as it ignores support for terrorism in Syria

    DAMASCUS, (SANA)- Syria strongly rejects the selectiveness adopted while drafting the resolution which was endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on Friday, saying such resolutions are continuation of attempts to sabotage efforts seeking political settlement for the crisis, said an official source at the Foreign and Expatriates Ministry on Saturday.

    “Once again the UNHRC gets carried along by a wide misleading campaign led by countries supporting terrorism in Syria to provide a political cover for the crimes committed by the armed terrorist groups,” the source added.

    See also: Syrian People’s Assembly Speaker: Time for international community to listen to the truth, not mainstream media lies of 24 Mar 2013, Murder of 42 in mosque bombing a continuation of the war against the Syrian people of 22 Mar 2013.

  82. iain
    March 25th, 2013 at 11:17 | #82

    @Ronald Brak

    If you know more than the science is currently saying and see any obvious hurdle, let us know of your discovery. If this is commercialised in the next 5-10 years, it will make most existing electricity generating and transmission assets obsolete and worthless (except for scrap copper or alternate use). Distribution assets will likely still have some value, however.

    In advocating for non-privatisation of electricity assets, this argument should be considered.

  83. March 25th, 2013 at 12:32 | #83

    I don’t think I know more that ‘the science’. But I do think I know more than ‘the science writer’. At ‘as fast as two molecules a second’ it would only take about 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years to get a gram of hydrogen gas. Pass the beans and my digestive system will do that in a month or two. my guess is they couldn’t work out what small burrowing mammals had to do with hydrogen and wrote molecules instead of moles.

  84. March 25th, 2013 at 12:45 | #84

    @Ronald Brak

    Yes, I read the two molecules per second part also. I thought it had a strangely upbeat quality.

    I did wonder if there was another part to the description though. For example: “two molecules per second per molecule of catalyst”. I’m sure this would then be faster your digestive system, Ronald. 🙂

    However, I don’t know how fast it would be compared to what is required.

  85. March 25th, 2013 at 14:33 | #85

    @David Jago
    I’d like to appologize. It would actually only take about 10,000,000,000,000,000 years to get a gram of hydrogen gas at the rate of two molecules per second. I should have realized I had made a mistake as having to wait around for 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years is just ridiculous.

  86. Fran Barlow
    March 26th, 2013 at 16:09 | #86

    I was listening to Newsradio this morning while brushing my teeth and from the other room I heard it reported that the ALP in NSW had challenged the O’Farrell regime to get moving on its ‘anti-bikie’ laws.

    Now from a civil rights point of view, I have serious concerns over legislation that seeks to criminalise mere association. I cannot begin to see how anyone who regards laws targeting identity and association (rather than specific conduct) can claim to be any kind of progressive. But let’s put that to one side, because I long ago stopped thinking of the ALP as ‘progressive’ in any meaningful sense. Certainly, they survive, when they do, because people who count themselves progressive vote for them despite the fact that they clearly aren’t, merely on the basis that the other lot appear to be even more oppressive and reactionary. I’ve often pointed out how flawed this reasoning is.

    My question goes to what the ALP thinks it will get out of contesting the field on ‘laura norder‘ with their more insistently reactionary and dog-whistling rivals. Does the ALP really believe it can outflank the Liberals on the right? Is there, in its view, a large bunch of people in winnable seats (let’s not call them marginal because few are close enough for that title) who, hearing the ALP say ‘me too’ on Laura Norder will coo their approval and consider voting for a party that is still widely regarded as incorrigibly corrupt and repulsive? If the ALP believes this, it really is in no better shape than it was when it was smashed in March of 2011. Firstly, if I weren’t an environmentalist and had not turned off the water, I’d not have heard the item at all. “ALP agrees with Liberal government, only more so” is not much of a story and not one that is going to get it any kudos. At best, someone like Jones or Hadley will have to find some other talking point, and Obeid is a lot more interesting.

    Really, the NSW ALP would be better off shutting its mouth if this is what it has in its head. If it can’t stand up for civil rights, because its forces are too puny, largely from being too much like the Liberals plus being corrupt, then it should at least not cheer their dissolution. A better idea, given that most people couldn’t care less what they said right now, might be to focus on building an organisation that people would want to join and support between elections. It’s a radical idea, but given that the downside risk in this is currently zero, if they can’t do this now, it’s hard to imagine when they would. Given that the Liberals already have the Laura Norder and assorted reactionaries pretty much sewn up, why not focus more on appealing to people who like civil rights, social justice, the environment, etc? Yes, that might be the minority but as they are now a minority anyway, having one that is coherent might be a help.

    In a similar vein, I was looking into the Gary Gray matter yesterday and at his website came across a tweet from Andrew Leigh, lately the Parliamentary Secretary to Gillard, who claimed that “the ALP is the party of Deakin” or some such thing. Again, I’m wondering what the ALP thinks it is getting out of such claims. Are there really people in winnable seats who are not already committed to one of the major parties who like Alfred Deakin (I presume it’s this one) so much that the mere mention of his name will make them look fondly on the ALP? To the best of my knowledge, none of the major polling organisations have ever identified Deakin nostalgia as an opening for the ALP. I’d be surprised if even 1 in 50 voters knew his first name let alone point to any substantive achievement of his in the glory of which the ALP could bask.

    OK, people educated in the 1940s and 1950s in Australia might know of him, as would history buffs and people who paid attention in compulsory history class. My Year 9s last year knew of him as an author of the White Australia Policy, attempts to Pacific Islanders, and as someone who agreed to exclude Aborigines from countring in the new constitution. He was a protectionist who, in 1890 had helped to violently (but successfully) suppress the first big maritime strike in Australia. So even allowing that there are some out there who have heard of him, Andrew Leigh has to hope that they’ve not heard these bits, or that they have heard of these bits but think that’s a good thing. This is obviously some multi-toned dogwhistle.

    It seems to me though that citing Alfred Deakin as a patron of ALP values probably falls well short of anything that would save the furniture. Maybe there are 50 people currently intending to vote for Abbott who would be favourably impressed, but surely, there has to be better. Now, if they’d said they were the party of Curtin, Chifley and Evatt, people would laugh, but more would be impressed — maybe 100 or so.

    Really, they are a clueless bunch. This is what happens when you abandon all coherent ideas in an attempt to win support from people who ought not to respect you. You just talk tosh.

  87. paul walter
    March 26th, 2013 at 17:36 | #87

    @Chris Warren
    Hear, Hear!!

  88. Jim Rose
    March 26th, 2013 at 17:47 | #88

    @Fran Barlow consorting laws have a long history as a method of controlling career criminals. RICO laws are far worse.

  89. Jim Rose
    March 30th, 2013 at 10:53 | #89

    see http://mruniversity.com/ for a online course on the economics of the media.

    It has an excellent section on media bias and tests for media bias. an example is a change of ownership should change the slant of a newspaper if the new owners indulge their politics at the expense of circulation

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