Home > Regular Features > Monday Message Board

Monday Message Board

March 23rd, 2015

Another Monday Message Board. Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please.

Categories: Regular Features Tags:
  1. Donald Oats
    March 23rd, 2015 at 17:05 | #1

    Greg Hunt attacked the ALP today, saying that the 5% reduction in GHG emissions by 2020 is going swimmingly under the LNP policies, unlike the swingeing scythe of the Carbon Tax (oooh). However, both the ALP and the LNP have used the Environment Dept’s figures, to wit:

    The official figures attributed the decrease to “lower electricity demand … due to the uptake of household solar, energy efficiency and increased retail prices; worse-than-expected agricultural conditions due to drought; lower manufacturing output due to industrial closures and weaker growth expectations for local coal production due to a fall in international coal prices”.

    So, Greg Hunt—and by extension, the LNP—are taking ownership of a reduction in GHGs due to their policy of running down manufacturing industry, of extreme drought conditions (which, perversely, AGW will affect for the worse), of an uptake in solar under the ALP/Green RET target—which the LNP wants to ditch or at least reduce significantly, and for the end of the mining boom. Go Greg, way to turn poor economic conditions into a good news story! Pathetic.

  2. tony lynch
    March 23rd, 2015 at 18:55 | #2

    Only Jack could explain it.

  3. March 23rd, 2015 at 22:18 | #3

    I was greatly saddened today on hearing of the death of Lee Kuan Yew who, along with Gough Whitlam and Charles de Gaulle, were the national leaders who most impressed me in my early teens. I do remember being annoyed at him calling Australia “the poor white trash of Asia”. But I now realise that he was, as usual, doing us all a favour by straight talk, not pulling punches.

    He also banned Bruce Douhll from travelling through Singapore on account of his long hair. Being a Collingwood supporter I was secretly pleased.

    Prime Minister Yew was my idea of a heroic nation builder: motivated by a strong sense of justice for the average fellow citizen, but determined to defend his nation’s interests against foreign threats. This attitude was pretty much the political norm when I was growing up, But it seems to have given way now to a kind of forced enthusiasm for tribalism soaked in gigantic wishy-washy marinade of globalism.

    Being the leader of a multi-ethnic state he was forced, by circumstance, to be a “race realist”, or realist as we used to be called, back in the day. The old saying among realists is: diversity, welfare state, democracy- pick two. So PM Yew dispensed with hard core liberal democracy:

    SPIEGEL: During your career, you have kept your distance from Western style democracy. Are you still convinced that an authoritarian system is the future for Asia?

    Mr. Lee: Why should I be against democracy? The British came here, never gave me democracy, except when they were about to leave. But I cannot run my system based on their rules. I have to amend it to fit my people’s position.

    In multiracial societies, you don’t vote in accordance with your economic interests and social interests, you vote in accordance with race and religion. Supposing I’d run their system here, Malays would vote for Muslims, Indians would vote for Indians, Chinese would vote for Chinese. I would have a constant clash in my Parliament which cannot be resolved because the Chinese majority would always overrule them. So I found a formula that changes that…

    SPIEGEL: … and that turned Singapore de facto into a one party state.

    We should learn from Singapore’s hard won experience.

    PM Yuan was shattered when Singapore was expelled from Malaysia since Singapore had absolutely no natural resources and was threatened on all sides by countries with ethnic animus (Indonesia, Malaysia) not to mention the ideological animus of Communist China.

    Yet he did not despair, but instead strove to make Singapore the No 1 nation in Asia, in per capita terms. It makes me happy to know that he lived to see the achievement of that goal.

  4. plaasmatron
    March 24th, 2015 at 00:27 | #4

    @Jack Strocchi
    Singapore is the most boring country in Asia, and I have visited most. Describing a country as the “No.1 nation… in per capita terms” is so last millenium. How about you describe for me the most important cultural contribution that Singapore has given the world since independence. When I think of Singapore I think of banking, casinos, environmental degradation, artificial environments where even chewing gum is banned, and possibly a national flag-carrier airline. If that is the No.1 that you strive for, you are welcome to move to Singapore, but I am pretty sure you won’t enjoy it.

  5. Megan
  6. Hermit
    March 24th, 2015 at 07:10 | #6

    According to the latest quarterly bulletin Australia’s emissions were 536 Mt net CO2e excluding land use in 2104. That publication shows the times series from 2004 but an ABS publication shows year 2000 emissions (presumably including land use) at about 550 Mt. Detective Kojak would not be saying ‘you’ve come a long way baby’.

    A more worthy reduction would be 20% or 440 Mt = 550 X 0.8. We’ve achieved bugger all. 2015 stationary emissions are showing an uptick since absent carbon tax coal can replace reduced hydro and soon-to-be-short supplied gas. That’s despite smelter closures and other factors.

  7. Ikonoclast
    March 24th, 2015 at 07:38 | #7

    Jack S. is a Collingwood supporter. Everything becomes clear.

  8. Ivor
    March 24th, 2015 at 08:01 | #8

    Isn’t it nice that Australia can help boost the USA by handing over ownership of airlines, forests, health care, tech companies, real estate, to Yankee equity firms (read salivating capitalists) who then earn an internal rate of return of 60%?

    As one gang of US capitalists said;

    Ben Gray, the TPG managing partner in charge of its Australian business, told a private equity conference this year that the firm’s internal rate of return on its Australian investments was 60 percent.

    And boy, do they still winge ….

    See more at:

    New York Times

  9. Ivor
    March 24th, 2015 at 08:19 | #9

    Yipee….Australia – all for sale

    Come and get whatever you want ….

    electricity, transport, ports, farms, iconic brands ….

    Open offer – come and get it

  10. jungney
    March 24th, 2015 at 08:55 | #10

    Right. The aim is to flog off all state owned income generating assets thereby narrowing the possibility for all future governments to finance social policy or projects except by raising taxes. Welcome to the impossibly small state.

    There’s an amusing little article at The Salon titled “My libertarian vacation nightmare: How Ayn Rand, Ron Paul & their groupies were all debunked” which describes a family holiday in Honduras:

    In America, libertarian ideas are attractive to mostly young, white men with high ideals and no life experience that live off of the previous generation’s investments and sacrifice. I know this because as a young, white idiot, I subscribed to this system of discredited ideas: Selfishness is good, government is bad. Take what you want, when you want and however you can. Poor people deserve what they get, and the smartest, hardworking people always win. So get yours before someone else does. I read the books by Charles Murray and have an autographed copy of Ron Paul’s “The Revolution.” The thread that links all the disparate books and ideas is that they fail in practice. Eliminate all taxes, privatize everything, load a country up with guns and oppose all public expenditures, you end up with Honduras.

    An attractive future.

  11. Uncle Milton
    March 24th, 2015 at 09:06 | #11

    @Ivor

    As one gang of US capitalists said;

    Ben Gray, the TPG managing partner in charge of its Australian business, told a private equity conference this year that the firm’s internal rate of return on its Australian investments was 60 percent.

    Ben Gray is not a US capitalist. He is Australian, the son of former Tasmanian Premier Robin Gray, of Franklin Dam fame.

  12. Sancho
    March 24th, 2015 at 09:36 | #12

    I’m very familiar with Singapore and its people, and when I read comments like Jack’s, I wonder if they reflect simple ignorance, or frank enthusiasm for an anti-democratic authoritarian state.

    Singapore is unique, and uniquely vulnerable, and I’d agree that LKY’s upmarket tyranny was necessary for survival in the 20th century, but it absolutely is not a rolemodel for any nation that doesn’t aspire to become Magnasanti.

  13. Ivor
    March 24th, 2015 at 09:43 | #13

    @Uncle Milton

    Not sure what the point is here.

    I assume that as he (Ben Gray) is “in charge of (TPG’s) Australian business” he is operating as a US capitalist.

    If he was an Indian 457 visa holder doing the same thi8ng – he would still be operating as a US capitalist.

  14. Paul Norton
    March 24th, 2015 at 10:14 | #14

    It should be noted that Singapore’s economic development task was greatly expedited by the fact that the place was and is an entrepot city-state with no countryside, no rural population and hence none of the problems of rural poverty, inequality and exploitative social relations, and consequent political conflicts, that most other countries of the global “South” have had to grapple with.

  15. Ernestine Gross
    March 24th, 2015 at 11:38 | #15

    @Ivor
    Irony alert: Asset stripping provides protection from creditors to get anything in case of bankruptcy (an extreme form of frustrating the old IMF advice).

  16. pablo
    March 24th, 2015 at 15:30 | #16

    @plaasmatron
    Staying briefly in Mr Lee’s Singapore in the mid 1970’s my host pointed down to the single main entrance to the hi-rise apartment blocks everyone seemed to be living in as old city sectors were bulldozed. Race riots in the late 1960’s meant that with hi-rise you only needed to aim your guns at the entrances to control the population.

  17. Donald Oats
    March 24th, 2015 at 16:02 | #17

    Once again, in a now familiar play, the Abbottian LNP government takes a wrecking ball to social services by equivocating on funding. Mental Health services are coming under the same sorts of pressure that the NCRIS research arena did, their funding from July 2015 and on being withheld or deferred, awaiting some arbitrary decision by the relevant minister. It makes no sense, and causes great collateral damage, no matter what the final decision is. This is not good government.

  18. jungney
    March 24th, 2015 at 18:20 | #18

    @Donald Oats
    Well, eff you mate. The mentally ill are clearly defective. Surplus to requirements no matter how many picture they paint holding brushes between their toes. In the history of the Warsaw Ghetto is evidence that the National Socialists measured how much protein wa neeeded, daily, to keep a slave population functional. Pretty much in the same way that Apple managers run their Chinese factories. By the ounce.

    The bourgeois left is p*ssweak. Ooooh, sign an online petition; go to a march or two. Yeah, that’ll stop a class of Pharaohs.

    Absolutely pathetic.

    What will we do with the class injured, the mentally ill, the gender deranged, the poor maddened blackfellas and everybody else who has fallen victim to a propaganda regime as dumb as a box of hammers?

    Starve them? Turn them into an underclass as contemptible as dirt, like the US has done?

    I’d rather give ’em guns and a sense of justice.

  19. plaasmatron
    March 24th, 2015 at 19:04 | #19

    It seemed to go under the rader with the tiz over funding the NCRIS, but the Future Fellowship scheme has now been axed.

    From Murdoch’s main rag dated 19th March, “Education Minister Christopher Pyne said the defeat of the government’s university reforms on Tuesday meant $139 million included for the Future Fellowship program was no longer available.”

    That means the ARC is now funding up to 200 DECRAs for researchers up to 5 years past their PhD, and up to 17 Laureate Fellowships to attract “world-class researchers and research leaders to key positions”, of which I believe Prof. Q is a worthy recipient.

    Mid-career researchers are now falling over the funding cliff as current fellowships expire, with jobs slashed at the CSIRO, the old QEII fellowships abolished, and tenure increasingly out of reach. Of course these unemployed, highly educated, internationally mobile workers are going to move into private sector jobs and create a blossoming of Australian Industry in the high-tech sector. Oh wait, that sector wilted during the mining boom years and someone forgot to water it…

  20. Donald Oats
    March 24th, 2015 at 20:38 | #20

    @plaasmatron
    Sadly now, the ruination is a daily story, only the issue of ruin changes.

  21. Megan
    March 25th, 2015 at 00:11 | #21

    I really do feel sorry for you guys and the plight of you and your colleagues.

    I’m not personally, directly, affected by that situation – but I can very easily empathise and support you and them.

    My biggest concern at the moment is the fact that we, as a nation, are torturing children allowing their rape and abuse and also the torture and murder of other refugees in our concentration camps.

    A few months ago I spent a lot of time trying to get union leaders to be active on that. I was ignored by them all except one, who should be credited with at least interacting with my pleas. His response was that he only cared about his members and refugees had nothing to do with them (even though no refugees could be taken anywhere by plane if his union took a stand on the issue). I had previously done what little I could to stand up for his workers.

    He wasn’t swayed by my argument that if we allow atrocities against those vulnerable people his members would inevitably also find themselves victims. I’m finding it increasingly hard to give a stuff about selfish people who think their “issues” somehow stand isolated from everyone else’s.

    The ALP has 100% abandoned you, the refugees, the environment, social democracy, workers and many others and instead have sided with the 1% of the Empire.

    You can abandon them and join the rest of us anytime you like, but time is running out.

  22. March 25th, 2015 at 03:34 | #22

    Paul Norton @ #13 said:

    It should be noted that Singapore’s economic development task was greatly expedited by the fact that the place was and is an entrepot city-state with no countryside, no rural population and hence none of the problems of rural poverty, inequality and exploitative social relations, and consequent political conflicts, that most other countries of the global “South” have had to grapple with.

    Duly noted.

    Of course Singapore does have a backward countryside with “the problems of rural poverty, inequality and exploitative social relations, and consequent political conflicts”. Its called Malaysia. This country provides manual and material resources in return for Singapore’s entrepreneurial and managerial talent.

    Once upon a time these two countries were one. Then the Malays decided to split, which has probably been to the benefit of both countries. Certainly Malaysia has been the world’s most successful Muslim country, in no small part due to its proximity to Singapore.

    Generally speaking, each nation should have its own state. And good borders make good neighbour. PM Yew grasped this fact and his results speak for themselves.

  23. Ikonoclast
    March 25th, 2015 at 08:57 | #23

    @Jack Strocchi

    “Generally speaking, each nation should have its own state.” – Jack Strocchi.

    Overall, I find myself in agreement. The question under your formulation is what defines a “nation”? I guess it can only be a large group of people who in the main self-define as a nation. Under that rubric, the Kurdish people are a nation and ought to have a state. The Palestinians are a nation and ought to have a state. Scotland came very close to self-defining as a nation again quite recently.

    We need to be careful though. There are various factors which can lead a people to self-define as a nation. It might be race or skin colour which in the main is not a good reason. It might be culture. It might be natural geographical containment. It might be a combination of these and other factors like religion or adherance to certain philosophical-political principles.

    The US rebels (Confederate States) wanted to self-define as a separate nation under different philosophical-political principles from the North. They were not permitted to do so arguably for good reasons. Yet the North actually fought to maintain national integrity and the power of industrial capital (over slave capital) before it fought to abolish slavery itself.

    It’s a nice principle “each nation should have its own state”. The devil is in the detail. Arguably, the Kurds need and deserve a state. Iran, Turkey, Iraq and Syria should all properly cede territory to create a Kurdish state. How likely is that to happen? ISIS wants but almost certainly does not deserve a state. And Israel has pretty much stated that the Palestinians will never get a state.

  24. Ivor
    March 25th, 2015 at 12:51 | #24

    @Jack Strocchi

    Generally speaking, each nation should have its own state. And good borders make good neighbour. PM Yew grasped this fact and his results speak for themselves.

    This is dangerous. A better formulation is that each nation should have its own government or right to self determination. Capitalists often create State machinery to over-ride this basic principle.

    There is little difference between a nation and a State. If an outside power denies a community its right to State-hood, it also denies it the right to nation-hood. You do not need to be a nation to be self-determining. You do not need a State to self-govern.

    You only get a difference when the word “nation” implies some other form of identity or difference that exists even in a State-less condition.

    This can lead to a debased form of nationalism. As in Singapore, this often leads to a form of Fascism (or ethnic, political or sexual cleansing). Alternatively one powerful nation can force different people to live under its State power. This also is Fascism.

  25. Sancho
    March 25th, 2015 at 16:21 | #25

    My post of yesterday languishes in moderation, and I can only guess at which word it contains that consigned it to purgatory.

    Truly I am the wretched of the earth.

  26. J-D
    March 26th, 2015 at 06:33 | #26

    @Jack Strocchi

    Empirical testing of the statement ‘In multiracial societies, you don’t vote in accordance with your economic interests and social interests, you vote in accordance with race and religion’ shows that in some cases it’s largely accurate, but in other cases it’s largely inaccurate; it’s not valid as a generalisation. Lee Kuan Yew was wrong.

  27. Donald Oats
    March 26th, 2015 at 13:54 | #27

    Some farmers have come out and said that AGW is real, they want an ETS, and it is a disservice to refer to climate change as “variability”. Given that they could have come out and said all this before the last election, or even two elections ago, my sympathy meter is measuring pretty low, though I’ll give marks for the farmers speaking up—better too late than never, is their apparent philosophy, as it helps to assuage the soul, if not helping with solving the problem.

    As PM Tony Abbott would helpfully remind them, farming is a lifestyle choice, in case they haven’t noticed. If the “variability” is too hard to deal with, they can sell their land at rock-bottom prices and move to the cities, like the 150-odd remote communities in WA.

    If farmers are truly serious about dealing with AGW, then they need to vote for the Greens, then ALP, then Indeps, and LNP last. It might stick in the craw to vote against their own favoured party, the National Party; however, the Nationals form coalitions with the Liberals, and then the Liberals dictate the score, i.e. AGW is not real, climate scientists are stooges of the secret global communist government, etc, etc. The only way to clear a path to truly effective solutions is to vote Green first, ALP second, and Indeps before NP and/or Liberals.

    Apologies for the sarcasm, but I find the too late, too little, special pleading of the farmer delegation a bit much. I’m sure there are some sincere farmers within the delegation and I have no beef with them; it’s the ones who hope to make a quid out of the consequences of AGW being treated as a real problem who I have little time for. Grumph.

  28. Hermit
    March 26th, 2015 at 14:33 | #28

    I think the problem is now that CSG and coal mining are no longer out of sight therefore out of mind to the farming community. Something must be seriously wrong with the system when prime farmland is under threat. As the Australia Institute points out we have 0.4m extra mouths to feed each year just at home.

    The carbon farming initiative under DA will probably turn out to be the administrative nightmare that early test runs have suggested. That is hard to measure in the first place then completely erased by drought or fire. In the rear view mirror carbon tax doesn’t look so bad after all.

  29. plaasmatron
    March 26th, 2015 at 16:37 | #29

    In other news, the Saudis have started bombing Yemen. That is an act of war in almost every definition of the term, except of course the US administrations. The US is behind the move after losing their drone base. I wonder what sort of kit they lost there that now needs to be destroyed?

    My new years prediction of the disintegration of Saudi Arabia moves a step closer.

  30. Ivor
    March 26th, 2015 at 19:11 | #30

    @plaasmatron

    What was the cause?

    Was this not an act of war?

    Before the launch of the offensive in Yemen, Houthi militants claimed to have captured the southern seaport of Aden, President Hadi’s stronghold. The fighters said the city was under their control and the president’s supporters were being arrested.

    Are Houthi militants nothing but a bunch of peace-seekers?

    were Houthi militants pursuing constitional change?

  31. Megan
    March 26th, 2015 at 22:19 | #31

    “We” (the operatives, supporters and enablers of the US Empire) have killed at least 1.3 million people in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan in the “War of Terror”. It’s probably 2 million.

    Killing 2 million people as a result of an illegal war of aggression is the “supreme war crime”.

    I see the US is blowing the hell out of Tikrit, in Iraq. Again.

    There is no excuse for us, as Australians, to still be supporting this Empire – even indirectly through our inaction against our own ALP/LNP duopoly.

    PS: The mass-surveillance law was passed today in the senate by the fascist ALP/LNP duopoly without amendment. Filthy scum.

  32. plaasmatron
    March 27th, 2015 at 01:16 | #32

    @Ivor
    So a national government invades a sovereign state. Last time I looked at the newspapers Putin was in deep water for that one. Oh the hypocrisy…

  33. rog
    March 27th, 2015 at 07:12 | #33

    The article by Matthew Rognlie on Picketty has found favour with many.
    Link

  34. Ernestine Gross
    March 27th, 2015 at 08:27 | #34

    @rog

    Matthew Rognlie takes out one type of physical asset from Piketty’s measure, namely housing. This is both arbitrary and useful. It is arbitrary in the sense that a building is a physical asset. It is useful in the sense that it reflects the changing importance (weight) of this item over time.

    His argument about depreciation of short lived assets is not clear to me. Does he have an argument with the international accounting standards, which Piketty says he used or with their application by Piketty?

    Rognlie’s point about the limitation of the categories ‘capital’ and ‘labour’ and his suggestion to analyse what has happened to income distribution within the category ‘labour’ is timely, IMHO. It is timely because except for people who, thoughout their entire life own nothing except a few personal belongings, we are all ‘capitalists’, except some more so than others. Piketty does treat the growth of income inequality to some extent in his book (managers vs workers) and there is of course an easily observable relationship between the relative size of income and the relative rates of physical and financial asset accumulation among individuals (ie the growth in wealth inequality). Focusing on income and wealth inequality only would not have allowed Piketty to get to his macro-economic conclusion.

  35. Ivor
    March 27th, 2015 at 09:46 | #35

    @plaasmatron

    The Russians invaded Germany.

    Do you oppose this?

    How on earth have Houthi militants created a sovereign state??????

    They destroyed one.

  36. Ikonoclast
    March 27th, 2015 at 09:55 | #36

    We all knew that the US had become a rogue state and a surveillance state. Snowden just proved it. In like manner, we all knew inequity was increasing since about 1975; egregiously so in the US. Piketty just proved it (again).

    Those of us who have worked, observed the world and studied political economy (formally or informally) for the last 40 years already knew a lot in broad outline of what Piketty could tell us from his data. Of course, we did not know it formally, in detail and with such empirical definition but we did already know it.

    I seem to recall reading a paper years ago by Ann Harding about the stagnation of many real wages in Australia since about the 1990s. So, we all knew this was happening. There was plenty of data. Piketty gives us the big picture from about 1795 to the present.

    Marx demonstrated that capitalism was riven by internal contradictions. Piketty’s elegant r>g is simply the latest demonstration. This reality will certainly lead to problems, not only when r>g for an extended period, but especially when g becomes zero or negative as it will soon for the entire world. Growth is declining in the developed world due to “secular stagnation”: a grab-bag term which now implies, among other things, a levelling off of demographic growth, diminishing returns from technology and the exhaustion of natural capital. It also includes labour arbitrage (moving manufacture to poor countries) but this process too has an end-point.

    World population must stablise, technology will suffer from diminishing returns and resources will be exhausted with substitutions only a partial fix. Stagnation and decline are the future. The only question is this. Will it be an equitable or an inequitable decline for the world’s people? History strongly suggests there is no solution for inequality in capitalism itself. A “reformed” capitalism seems doubtful as history demonstrates it unreforms itself pretty much formulaically under r>g. This leaves violent revolution or peaceful transformation. We must leave capitalism behind for a new system if we want to save the biosphere and civilization. The new system needs to be responsive to the natural laws of physics and ecology and also responsive to all the people. Elite, exploitative, oligarchic leadership is a broken model.

  37. Ivor
    March 27th, 2015 at 10:21 | #37

    Pure rotten Australian capitalism …

    Fortescue Remarks Alarm Australia’s Antitrust Regulator
    Posted on 1 January 1 18:20 | By Ross Kelly

    SYDNEY–The billionaire chairman of Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. drew scrutiny from Australia’s competition regulator when he seemingly called on iron-ore miners to collectively curb output in an effort to lift depressed prices.

    The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said it was concerned Andrew Forrest’s comments, made during a Tuesday speech in Shanghai, may indicate he was encouraging rivals to consider colluding with Fortescue to manipulate prices.

    The ACCC said it had called on Mr. Forrest, one of Australia’s richest people, to explain his remarks, adding that it considered “cartel conduct” a deeply serious matter because of the potential to harm Australian consumers.

    “Look, I’m absolutely happy to cap my production right now,” Mr. Forrest said at the Shanghai gathering, according to reports by the Australian Broadcasting Corp. and several other Australian media outlets Wednesday. “All of us should cap our production now and we’ll find the iron-ore price will go straight back up to $70, $80, $90.”

    see:More Here

  38. Ivor
    March 27th, 2015 at 10:26 | #38

    @Ernestine Gross

    we are all ‘capitalists’, except some more so than others.

    This is the fog our academics seem to spread and our politicians revel in.

    No wonder they make so little sense. They don’t even know what capitalism is.

  39. jungney
    March 27th, 2015 at 10:39 | #39

    Wikileaks has released the ‘investment’ chapter of the TPP.

    https://wikileaks.org/tpp-investment/

    The Investment Chapter highlights the intent of the TPP negotiating parties, led by the United States, to increase the power of global corporations by creating a supra-national court, or tribunal, where foreign firms can “sue” states and obtain taxpayer compensation for “expected future profits”. These investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) tribunals are designed to overrule the national court systems. ISDS tribunals introduce a mechanism by which multinational corporations can force governments to pay compensation if the tribunal states that a country’s laws or policies affect the company’s claimed future profits. In return, states hope that multinationals will invest more. Similar mechanisms have already been used. For example, US tobacco company Phillip Morris used one such tribunal to sue Australia (June 2011 – ongoing) for mandating plain packaging of tobacco products on public health grounds; and by the oil giant Chevron against Ecuador in an attempt to evade a multi-billion-dollar compensation ruling for polluting the environment. The threat of future lawsuits chilled environmental and other legislation in Canada after it was sued by pesticide companies in 2008/9. ISDS tribunals are often held in secret, have no appeal mechanism, do not subordinate themselves to human rights laws or the public interest, and have few means by which other affected parties can make representations.

  40. Donald Oats
    March 27th, 2015 at 13:17 | #40

    @Donald Oats
    As if to mock my previous comments, Maurice Newman has an opinion piece in today’s national rag, saying global warming is just a scare campaign mounted by people who hate capitalism and big business, etc. As PM Tony Abbott’s business adviser, hand-picked by Abbott himself, I think we can safely say that it is a complete waste of effort trying to persuade this particular government to take meaningful action on this front. They are implacably against any action at all, secure in their belief that it is all bulldust. I hope a few more of the Nationals think about the consequences to their electorates of getting this so very wrong. In the meanwhile, put the green parties up the top of your preferences when you vote, and the silly gooses at the bottom of your preferences.

  41. plaasmatron
    March 27th, 2015 at 16:15 | #41

    @Ivor
    The Russians invaded Germany? Which planet are you on?

    If the Houthi militants destroyed a sovereign state (some might argue, restored a sovereign state) then the Americans also destroyed one in the Ukraine. Last time I checked Yanukovych, the democratically elected President, was removed in a bloody coup in 2010. It seems that Russia invading the Ukraine to protect their interests is somehow different to the Saudis invading Yemen. Oh the hypocrisy…

  42. rog
    March 27th, 2015 at 17:51 | #42

    @Ivor Maybe but we are all directly or indirectly benefitting from capitalism eg dividends from publically listed companies flow into pension funds.

  43. rog
    March 27th, 2015 at 17:56 | #43

    @Ernestine Gross As a rule of thumb most assets, including buildings, depreciate – except land which benefits from proximity.

    In Aus REIT collapsed during the GFC and only a few are recovering.

  44. alfred venison
    March 27th, 2015 at 17:57 | #44

    i don’t know about you, but i feel safer with russia in control of crimea. nato through its proxy would have used crimea to invade russia; russia will use crimea to defend itself from nato. simples. -a.v.

  45. Ivor
    March 27th, 2015 at 20:04 | #45

    rog :
    @Ivor Maybe but we are all directly or indirectly benefitting from capitalism eg dividends from publically listed companies flow into pension funds.

    I think Picketty nailed that lie.

    When the contradictions develop further, as they have since WWII, the dividends from companies will probably diminish, and pensions will evaporate. Each generation after the boom seems to get worse pension entitlements than the earlier.

    You have to separate-out the benefit due to economic growth (irrespective of the mode of production), from the supposed benefit of capitalism as a mode of production.

    Without capitalism we can all enjoy economic growth, pensions and dividends. With capitalism only some people enjoy economic growth, pensions and dividends. And the proportion of have-nots increases.

  46. Ivor
    March 27th, 2015 at 20:04 | #46

    rog :
    @Ivor Maybe but we are all directly or indirectly benefitting from capitalism eg dividends from publically listed companies flow into pension funds.

    I think Picketty nailed that lie.

    When the contradictions develop further, as they have since WWII, the dividends from companies will probably diminish, and pensions will evaporate. Each generation after the boom seems to get worse pension entitlements than the earlier.

    You have to separate-out the benefit due to economic growth (irrespective of the mode of production), from the supposed benefit of capitalism as a mode of production.

    Without capitalism we can all enjoy economic growth, pensions and dividends. With capitalism only some people enjoy economic growth, pensions and dividends. And the proportion of have-nots increases.

  47. rog
    March 28th, 2015 at 05:53 | #47

    @Ivor My understanding is that Piketty claimed that returns in capital would increase thereby benefitting the holders of capital whereas Rognlie says that returns on capital, allowing for depreciation and minus housing, would decrease.

  48. Ivor
    March 28th, 2015 at 10:51 | #48

    @rog
    Yes, but

    A claim that returns for capital increase, is precisely why it is not possible to say:

    Maybe but we are all directly or indirectly benefitting from capitalism

    Piketty noted that inequality was increasing.

    The returns on capital may increase, but the rate of return cannot do anything but decrease unless you subsidise capital by incrementally reducing the shares of GDP flowing through to labour. Restricting minimum wages to once a year, petty increases is the first step in this attack on all workers.

  49. Ernestine Gross
    March 29th, 2015 at 04:13 | #49

    @Ivor

    To take a sentence out of context is a lousy method used by those who can’t do any better. To do what you did, namely to select only a segment of a sentence is silly at best. Can’t you do any better?

  50. Joe
    March 29th, 2015 at 09:07 | #50

    No Ivor, without Capitalism you get Venezuela.

  51. Ivor
    March 29th, 2015 at 12:16 | #51

    @Ernestine Gross

    By all means – provide all the context you like. I like reviewing academic smoke and mirrors.

    However, in general, in all contexts, and therefore independetly of context – the canard “we are all directly or directly benefitting from capitalism” is false and is impossible under capitalism.

    You claim of taking out of context dispays the fact you have not understood the issue.

    It is up to you to do better than that.

  52. Ivor
    March 29th, 2015 at 12:17 | #52

    @Joe

    No Joe, without capitalism you get Mondragon.

  53. ZM
    March 29th, 2015 at 15:37 | #53

    It is very concerning to read that the Abbott government is preparing for the Paris conference on climate change with an issues paper setting out a pathway to 4 degrees of warming 🙁 Surely this is against Australia’s international commitments made previously to stay within 2 degrees…

    “The Climate Institute said that while the government’s intergenerational report made reference to the 2 degree goal, its discussion paper used a global energy scenario that would put the world on track for nearly 4 degrees of warming.

    “The Issues Paper states ‘by 2040, it is estimated that 74 per cent [of the world’s primary energy needs] will still be met by carbon-based sources because of growing demand in emerging economies’,” chief executive John Connor said.

    He said this scenario was based on modelling by the International Energy Agency that assumed countries would only implement existing policies and proposals to cut greenhouse gases.” “

  54. Ikonoclast
    March 29th, 2015 at 17:05 | #54

    @ZM

    With 4 degrees C or more of global warming most of Australia will be uninhabitable and world civilization will collapse. Full stop, end of story.

    “Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and former climate adviser to the German Chancellor and the EU, asks rhetorically: “What is the difference between two degrees (of temperature increase) and four degrees?”

    “The difference,” he said, “is human civilisation”.” – The Conversation, “Are you ready for a 4 degree world?”

  55. Ernestine Gross
    March 29th, 2015 at 17:28 | #55

    @Ivor

    Now you wrongly ascribe a sentence to me. Your conclusions rest on your own errors.

  56. rog
    March 29th, 2015 at 19:18 | #56

    @Ikonoclast Closer to home; why the hell do office buildings and the like have to keep their lights on at night? My mate at the CSIRO says that the energy wasted is staggering but does help to use up the output from coal fired power stations during the wee hours.

  57. Joe
    March 29th, 2015 at 19:34 | #57

    Ivor, nothing stopping something like Mondragon under free enterprise.

  58. Ivor
    March 29th, 2015 at 19:55 | #58

    @Ernestine Gross

    You appear to have not made your point clearly enough.

    What is your point?

  59. Ivor
    March 29th, 2015 at 19:58 | #59

    Joe :
    Ivor, nothing stopping something like Mondragon under free enterprise.

    Bit too cryptic. Did you mean to refer to capitalist free enterprise, or cooperative enterprise?

    What is your point?

  60. March 29th, 2015 at 20:29 | #60

    Jack Strocchi, why Charles de Gaulle?

  61. Joe
    March 29th, 2015 at 21:11 | #61

    Ivor, Capitalism ‘is’ free enterprise.

  62. Ivor
    March 29th, 2015 at 21:21 | #62

    Joe :
    Ivor, Capitalism ‘is’ free enterprise.

    No – you can only make a capitalist profit in the long run if you restrict free enterprise or find some other trick.

    Once there is free enterprise for everyone, all capitalist profit is competed away.

    Capitalists make largest capitalists profits when they hide behind patents, copyrights, and are cocooned inside monopolies and kept safe by friendly governments.

Comments are closed.