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Monday Message Board

February 12th, 2018

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.

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  1. February 12th, 2018 at 22:25 | #1

    Update on Chinese coal consumption and emissions for 2017: *****climatechangenews.com/2018/02/12/china-counts-emissions-growth-shaken-free-carbon/

    Views Differ, still, and we will need to wait a bit for anything definitive. My reading is that Chinese and therefore world emissions are still on a slightly bumpy plateau, coal is still doomed, and it’s still nice to own a lot of natural gas. There is sign yet of the needed downturn. But it’s coming. The auction prices for wind and solar can’t all be rigged or massaged.

  2. Greg Pius
    February 13th, 2018 at 07:05 | #2

    I have a contact that is doing his masters thesis of energy science on the changing energy sources around the world, According to him the coal industry is now in terminal decline. He points out that alternative energy sources are booming in most OECD countries. The exceptions seems to be Russia and India.

  3. Ikonoclast
    February 13th, 2018 at 08:04 | #3

    What are the relative pollution burdens of solar power versus coal and oil? I ask this not to be a snark but to try to find out the true position. I am sure I can assume that solar power produces less CO2 (and methane) per unit energy produced than coal does. However, it would not produce zero. There will likely be some of these emissions in manufacture and transport (the latter for the time being).

    What is the rest of the pollution profile like in each case? What pollutants are produced by solar panel manufacture and how much of a concern are they? I have read claims that China, which makes lots of solar panels, is not doing too well with regard to the pollutants from this manufacture. The claim is these pollutants are being dumped around villages. I guess there are pretty much villages everywhere in China, except where there are cities or deserts.

    None of this is to snark at solar power. However, let’s have our eyes open and see what the transition problems might be with high volume solar panel manufacture. I have been of the opinion, for some time, that if we made say 90% less cars then we could certainly switch that investment to making solar panels. I imagine overall that less pollution would be created by making the latter.

  4. Troy Prideaux
    February 13th, 2018 at 08:16 | #4

    I think it starts off relatively high(ish) and theoretically is aspired to zero ie. when the manufacturing/transportation/resourcing chain itself is running on solar or some form of renewable.

  5. Ikonoclast
    February 13th, 2018 at 09:26 | #5

    Worldwatch Institute provides this viewpoint.


    These pollution problems are not a reason to stop solar panel development and production. They are a reason to make solar panel development and production as low pollution as possible. There is also the important observation about the “pollute first and clean up later” model of economic development. This model is much favored by current capitalists (including state capitalism apparatchiks) as they get the gains now and others (other humans plus animals, plants and the biosphere itself) pay the negative externality costs and clean-up is put off into the never-never.

    This is not the ideal development model. We can both transition faster and clean up pollution faster. But we need a new system of political economy, economics and accounting which counts the full costs better and distributes the benefits better: true social democracy at the very least and democratic socialism at best. Plutocratic and corporatist capitalism, as we have it now, is simply not going to do it. Its terrible track record to date demonstrates its total failure in the face of these challenges.

    Doing too little, too late is very much the modus operandi of late stage capitalism. Short termism, corruption of political process by money, obfuscation, delay and a mostly anti-science stance are the hallmarks of this system. Only production science in the service of private profits and their further concentration is promoted. This includes the use of production science for war. Production science in the service of egalitarian goals and impact science of all forms (study and amelioration of impacts on environment, impacts on people and society) are all suppressed and de-funded. Something’s gotta change or we are still all “fooked” as they say in certain dialects.

  6. pablo
    February 13th, 2018 at 09:47 | #6

    Iconoclast. “These pollution problems are not a reason to stop solar panel development and production… I wonder about the economics of this every time I see a truckload of aluminium ingots heading to port for shipment elsewhere. This means double the energy to produce the extrusions and frames of solar panels among all the other ‘advantages’ of what Bob Carr correctly called solidified electricity. Value adding seems to have escaped our Al exporters or have I missed something, like exporting the pollution factor? Now we face the same dilemma with China refusing to take our recycled plastics. Too many contaminants apparently.

    our plastics for recycling

  7. rog
    February 14th, 2018 at 04:17 | #7

    Following on the pollution theme, this guy got 14 years gaol for his comments during a live streaming of a protest by fishermen against the pollution from a large US steel plant.

    The accused “was convicted of abusing democratic freedoms to infringe on the interests of the state, organisation and people and opposing officers on duty”


  8. February 14th, 2018 at 05:23 | #8

    The IPCC is working on a report on the implications of the more ambitious 1.5 degree C target. An early draft of the summary for policymakers has been leaked. Text here:

    So we will soon have some credible numbers to work with. Short takes: 2 degrees is really dangerous; the window for 1.5 degrees is still open but it’s closing fast; most scenarios will (as I’ve been saying for a while as the Bleeding Obvious) require sequestration by the hundred gigatonnes; this will create major conflicts over land use assuming reafforestation and other biomass sequestration are the preferred technologies.

    It’s probably good news that the draft was leaked. This is how high-stakes politics is played, and somebody on the good side realizes this. Stand by for character assassination of the authors and a witch-hunt for the leakers.

  9. Collin Street
    February 14th, 2018 at 07:06 | #9

    @James Wimberley: or we could kill a few million anti-AGW-action activists. Don’t call it crimes against humanity, call it capturing externalities to block moral hazard.

  10. Newtownian
    February 14th, 2018 at 14:00 | #10

    Given John’s clear interest in Tin Foil hats this is worth a look and laugh


  11. Svante
    February 14th, 2018 at 17:16 | #11

    The rare Australian dividend imputation scheme gets one rare mention today. Someone at their ABC is doubling down with the 4 cents. Emma Alberici byline: now the ABC’s chief economics correspondent. Really?

  12. John Goss
    February 14th, 2018 at 19:56 | #12

    Her wikipedia page says Emma Alberici studied Journalism and Economics at Deakin. So she has some Economics at least.

  13. Troy Prideaux
    February 15th, 2018 at 09:32 | #13

    @John Goss
    A pretty good report I reckon.

  14. Svante
    February 15th, 2018 at 14:46 | #14

    The Guardian runs the following headline today:

    “Peter Dutton calls for migration cut: ‘We have to reduce the numbers’”

    How? Neither the plutocrats, nor their disingenuous major political party spruikers of GDP growth want that…

    Dutton said: “But we do have problems where people are concentrating in and around Sydney, in and around other capital cities, including Melbourne. We need to try and disperse people out.”

    Here we go. There’s that call to board a gravy train diversion for the spin to nowhere yet again.

  15. Know Teeth
    February 16th, 2018 at 11:24 | #15

    Interesting data…
    When Did Tax Avoidance Become Respectable?
    …”This Article offers a novel attempt to gauge the respectability of tax avoidance – using a unique, hand-collected dataset of newspaper advertisements for tax planning services in prominent national papers between 1930 and 1970 – and concludes that a shift occurred after World War II. The Article then explains the reason for this shift,”…
    I thought during the 1970’s. Any thoughts or similar datasets or studies please.

  16. Svante
    February 16th, 2018 at 18:35 | #16

    Svante :The rare Australian dividend imputation scheme gets one rare mention today. Someone at their ABC is doubling down with the 4 cents. Emma Alberici byline: now the ABC’s chief economics correspondent. Really?abc.net.au/news/2018-02-14/company-tax-rate-cut-arguments-missing-evidence/9443874

    Independent, reliable and honest news? Not. The ABC has pulled the Alberici article after Turnbull attacked it nd the ABC in parliament. It is available cached by Google.


  17. Svante
    February 17th, 2018 at 11:57 | #17


    Turnbull and ABC MD Guthrie in pulling this ABC News analysis piece by Alberici that refutes any case Turnbull may have for corporate tax cuts reminds of how Turnbull and then MD Mark Scott in 2013 gagged any NBN reportage critical of Turnbull’s NBN policy proposals by the then ABC Technology Editor, Nick Ross. They also gagged Alberici on coalition NBN policy, particularly that it can be run on copper wire and keep up to date.


    “Emma Alberici denies her NBN coverage was delayed …
    But the story – which Alberici appears to have started researching in early August – wasn’t published until September 9, two days after the Coalition swept to power in the federal election.”

    Former ABC tech editor Nick Ross appointed editor of IDG’s PC World and Good Gear Guide…
    “At the time of his departure, Ross claimed he was limited in how he wrote about the NBN, a claim denied by outgoing managing director, Mark Scott .
    “I want to make it clear that at no time has the ABC sought to shape editorial coverage in any attempt to gain favour with politicians or political parties,” Scott said.”

  18. Svante
    February 17th, 2018 at 13:02 | #18

    “The truth bomb that terrifies Turnbull

    …The truth is, Emma Alberici is spot on. The truth is, there is no evidence that tax cuts either increase wages or create jobs. If there was such evidence, Turnbull would be able to point to it, instead of censoring an opposing view. … I have long said that once workers realise wealth doesn’t trickle down, right wing governments will never be elected again. Turnbull knows this too.” – Victoria Rollison February 17, 2018 theaimn.com/truth-bomb-terrifies-turnbull/

    From a comment there:
    “Among the complaints that the ABC received were those from Turnbull, Morrison, Fifield, Qantas chief Alan Joyce and the Business Council of Australia. … Alan Joyce, the other day said that he does pay a lot of tax : GST and Departure Taxes for instance but he failed to mention that these are taxes on the consumer, what we are talking about, as he well knows, is the question of company tax.”

  19. rog
    February 17th, 2018 at 16:57 | #19

    Michael West is claiming that it was his article that the ABC ‘borrowed’

    From his website

    “A new study by Queensland University of Technology’s Kerry Sadiq and Bronwyn McCredie finds that those companies paying more tax actually provided shareholders with a larger return on their investment.”


  20. Graeme Bird
    February 18th, 2018 at 06:50 | #20

    “A new study by Queensland University of Technology’s Kerry Sadiq and Bronwyn McCredie finds that those companies paying more tax actually provided shareholders with a larger return on their investment.”

    For me this vindicates classical economic theory. In that its the attempt to make a profit that creates wealth. But if you are trying to avoid taxes you are avoiding making a profit, so it follows that your wealth creation has been compromised. But I don’t think there ought to be taxes on retained earnings for the sole trader. Taxes on total revenues. Taxes on total assets. Taxes on excess land holdings. These are all fine in my view. But I don’t think a sole trader ought ever be taxed on retained earnings.

  21. Svante
    February 18th, 2018 at 16:23 | #21



  22. david
    February 18th, 2018 at 16:48 | #22

    Lest we forget the now cottaging Brandis and his abuse of the rule of law re Gillian Trigg and Justin Gleeson SC – watch Gleeson’s performance in the High Court v Georgie’s boy Donoghue on section 44 issues generally!

    This Coalition is riddled with baggage of the dishonest use and abuse of institutions like the Courts eg. Slipper/Ashby/ Pyne/Lewis/AFP/Brandis. Craig Thomson falls into the same category.

    Turnbull’s attack on Nick Ross and the ABC generally is unforgivable and hopefully not forgettable in the upcoming election.

  23. ChrisH
    February 19th, 2018 at 13:30 | #23

    @Graeme Bird
    Sole traders, like other individual taxpayers, pay tax on their earnings. Graeme Bird says they should never pay tax on retained earnings.

    Why, then, should other individual taxpayers pay tax on the income they invest?

    Why should investment, but not consumption, be in pre-tax dollars?

    Compound the current excessive returns to capital, by adding the individual tax rate…now, what could go wrong?

  24. Graeme Bird
    February 20th, 2018 at 13:04 | #24

    “Why, then, should other individual taxpayers pay tax on the income they invest?”

    What do they invest in? Derivatives? Shares, which are derivatives? Bidding up the land price? You see the societal value of investments is dependent ultimately on what I call “Pristine savings.” Whereas most investments that people seem to make these days are in putting people under obligations.

    Pristine savings is where the sole trader uses his retained earnings to buy producer goods or otherwise renovates his business. He is in a unique position to create wealth and employment.

    To create full employment and upward pressure on wages, we need sole traders to be awash in the producer goods they need to make a profit with. Supposing you have a beekeeper. If he’s got too many hives, too many flowering trees, he grows the timber for a mead-making brewing operation, well he cannot use all these producer goods on his own. There is too much work BECAUSE there are so many producer goods. He’s got to employ people. He cannot do the work himself. So a workers paradise comes out of the retained earnings of a sole traders paradise.

    Thats really the secret of it all. Bringing up the density of producer goods so we are struggling to find the people to use them. Now how can this be done, if the sole trader is getting taxed on his retained earnings, and if everyone and his Momma is trying to divert loanable funds into the collection of rental properties? Or indeed loans are going to anything else but durable producer goods? That so much loan money is going into negatively geared rental properties is anti-economic craziness. New houses and major renovations is what the funds ought to go to. Not buying and holding and failing to build.

    So no I don’t necessarily think the investor should get a 100% break on his investments. Since in the current financial market his investments aren’t creating wealth.

  25. ChrisH
    February 20th, 2018 at 19:35 | #25

    @Graeme Bird
    So sole traders only put retained earnings into stock of producer goods. They don’t access, say, futures or, say, shares. And others only put retained earnings into things that aren’t producer goods, and that contributes nothing to growing the stock of producer goods. Subscribing for shares may add to equity, but that does nothing for producer goods.

    Silly me! I thought that subscribing for shares directly added to equity, from which firms can acquire producer goods. I thought that buying shares supported their value, which firms access through equity management from which, again, they can acquire producer goods. And I thought that no-one’s retention of profit has to go to increased producer goods rather than to derivatives. But then I have trouble distinguishing ‘pristine savings’ from any other savings.

  26. Graeme Bird
    February 21st, 2018 at 06:26 | #26

    Well if they were to access futures or shares than we would call the funds DRAWINGS and tax them at the income tax rate. The point is that our financial system is utterly useless. The more fancy “innovative” and sophisticated it has become the less effective it has become at producing wealth. Hence the weak labour markets in the Western world since the 70’s, and in Australia since the 80’s.

    Yes you were silly. Because you got confused between an accounting function and the real world. If you subscribe for shares directly the company could use this for money to invest in real estate, it could use it to fandangle a greater part of the fractional reserve interest rate subsidy. It could use it to pay higher executive salaries. It could use it to buy back shares. It could use it to pay higher executive salaries as part of automatic rewards that kicked in when the share price increased as a result of buying back shares. Each step you go further away from PRISTINE SAVINGS the less plausible is the wealth creation story behind what we are calling here an investment.

    A well-made loan is one that takes an existing cash-flow and makes it bigger, at least prior to the repayment of that loan. Either you are buying producer goods, to reduce costs or increase revenues, or in a more general way you are renovating the business in order to do so. So the key to this sort of loan is that it builds cash flow and therefore it can be paid back quickly.

    The “best” if best means “the most carefully constructed from a logical perspective” … the best economic models that we have from Ricardo to Mises and onwards, implicitly suggest that all investments are wealth creating. They act as if every new debt increases the stock of producer goods. In other words our best economic models are a white-wash for usury. In reality most usury is highly destructive of wealth. Riccardo, Mises, Reisman Rothbard et al never claim that all debt is used to create wealth. But the conclusions they make are AS IF this were the case. We can take their implied fantasy and make it real like the South Korean dictator of the 1970’s did. Or we can admit that most investments are crap from a wealth creation point of view.

    There was a time where most investments were wealth creating. That was after the economy was just beginning to recover after having a horrendous credit crunch under fractional reserve gold. During some part of the upswing the chastened population would have only been making wealth creating investments for the most part. In the US the mid-80’s would have been a bit like this, just after the worst part of the Volker crunch and prior to the real estate market kicking up again.

    But for the most part these models, the very best models we have, whitewash extreme banker and capital markets dysfunction. They act as though compound interest was the saviour of the species rather than a curse on humanity. And I say this even while recognising that some small measure of usury may be needed to grease the wheels.

  27. February 23rd, 2018 at 08:24 | #27

    More on Indian coal. I’ve checked the table of coal generation capacity under active construction on Coal Plant Tracker, with data for July 2017, against a list of “troubled” (suspended) projects at Sourcewatch, as of December 2017. (****sourcewatch.org/index.php/Troubled_Indian_Coal_Plant_Construction_Sites). The latter is based on monthly status reports from the government’s Ministry of Power.

    I found four plants totalling 3,705 MW in the second and not the first list (Athena Chhattisgarh, Gadarwara, KSK Mahanadi, and Tuticorin). So the pipeline is now at most 39.1 GW. I’d expected faster progress, but we are now two months further on into Modi’s renewable revolution, and I’d be surprised if another couple of gigawatts of coal has not been consigned to the Hindu equivalent of Limbo.

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