Archive

Archive for May, 2018

L-A-W

May 18th, 2018 12 comments

I’ve stopped doing instant reactions on Budgets. There’s always plenty available now, at places like Inside Story, as well as in the newspapers.

But there’s often something of interest that gets overlooked a bit. In this case, it’s the government’s proposal to legislate tax cuts for the rich seven years in advance. This is an idea with a lengthy and inglorious history, taken to a new extreme.
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Categories: Economic policy Tags:

The High Court: an agent of foreign influence

May 17th, 2018 21 comments

In a comment posted yesterday, I said

I suppose this should be obvious, but the HC decision actually creates a perfect opportunity to generate divided loyalties where none previously existed. Suppose you want to run for Parliament but your parent came here as a 3-year old from some other country. A government official explains that the process of losing citizenship normally takes years, but for special friends of the country, it can be rushed through in time to nominate. After you have been elected, an issue arises where friends of the country concerned have an opportunity to do a favour. The logic is pretty clear.

Just a day later, we have the Oz reporting almost exactly this allegation against Labor MP Anne Aly. I have no idea of the validity or otherwise of the claim, but obviously it’s one that can now be made against anyone who has fallen afoul of the Court’s absurd rulings by having an overseas born parent, but who has been lucky enough to get expeditious treatment from the foreign government concerned.

But, just as Trump’s supporters have swallowed worse and worse things from him, I’m sure the fans of the High Court’s black letter approach to the Constitution will convince themselves that it’s all to the good that foreign governments are now in a position to interfere in our elections. That’s one of the notable things about adopting a really bad idea: the rationalizations needed to defend it pave the way for worse ideas to come.

Categories: Boneheaded stupidity Tags:

Economics in Two Lessons, Chapter 10

May 17th, 2018 4 comments

Thanks to everyone who commented on the first nine chapters of my book-in-progress, Economics in Two Lessons.

Here’s a draft of Chapter 10: Market failure -Externalities and pollution. Comments, criticism and praise are welcome.

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Categories: Economics in Two Lessons Tags:

Sandpit

May 15th, 2018 5 comments

A new sandpit for long side discussions, conspiracy theories, idees fixes and so on.

Categories: Regular Features Tags:

Monday Message Board

May 15th, 2018 7 comments

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:

Against stupidity, the gods themselves contend in vain

May 12th, 2018 52 comments

The series of absurd rulings from our High Court has now reached the point where the majority of Australians are debarred from standing for election to Parliament, unless some foreign government chooses to help them. The latest ruling means that even renouncing a citizenship you never sought and have never exercised is not enough. Unless you start the process well before an election is even called, possibly years before, you are ineligible if you were born overseas, have an overseas-born parent and (probably) if you belong to an ethnic group which has a “right of return” to a national homeland. We have yet to explore the possible limits of other exclusion clauses.

There is some poetic justice in the embarrassment now being faced by Labor and Bill Shorten, who wrongly assumed they had prepared for the worst possible cases of High Court idiocy, and gloated over the misfortune of others. But that’s small comfort for anyone who would wish the outcome of democratic elections to be respected.

Until now, the line taken by the supporters of the High Court has been “it’s just a matter of following the rules”. It’s now been made clear that following the rules is impossible. An Australian citizen, even one who has never left Australia, can be ineligible simply because of the dilatoriness, incompetence, or even malice, of a foreign government. And, according to the High Court, there’s nothing they can do about it except wait.

The stupidity and bloody-mindedness of the High Court in this matter is matched by most of the political commentariat, and a large proportion of the Australian public, who will no doubt be represented in comments here.

From experience, I know that lots of readers will not be convinced. So, I will offer a question and answer another.
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Categories: Boneheaded stupidity Tags:

Marxism without Revolution: repost

May 9th, 2018 7 comments

It was the 200th anniversary of the birth of Karl Marx a couple of days ago. I planned to repost my series from 2011 on “Marxism without Revolution”, but didn’t get to it. I was reminded when Matt Yglesias mentioned it on Twitter, so here it is, in three parts.

Class
Crisis
Capital

The nuclear zombie, undead yet again

May 8th, 2018 27 comments

Zombie ideas never die. Among the hardiest, it seems, is the suggestion that nuclear power represents a possible solution to Australia’s energy problems, including the need to decarbonize energy supply. I just received an invitation to an event entitled Going Nuclear: Reconsidering Australia’s Energy Mix being organized by the by Centre for Market Design at the University of Melbourne.

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Categories: Economics - General Tags:

May Day

May 7th, 2018 22 comments

Here in Queensland, at least while the ALP is in office, we celebrate Labour Day as May Day, with a holiday long weekend on the first Monday in May. It’s a good time to think about how workers, in Australia and globally, can turn around the long decline in the reach and influence of trade unions and the resulting decline in the wage share of national income.
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Categories: Oz Politics Tags:

Monday Message Board

May 7th, 2018 18 comments

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:

The Business Council thinks the left has no plan? …

May 5th, 2018 8 comments

… That’s a bit rich

That’s the headline for my latest piece in The Guardian. Final paras

unlike the BCA, its opponents have been willing to specify the measures needed to pay for these desirable outcomes. Eschewing the small target strategy routinely recommended for opposition parties seeking office, Labor has announced a range of revenue measures that would finance a substantial expenditure program, combined with some tax relief for low and middle income households. These include scaling back negative gearing, crackdowns on tax evasion and avoidance, and a restoration of the 2% levy on top incomes.

The Business Council has long been a weak and ineffectual participant in Australian policy debate. If it is to be taken seriously, it needs more than astroturf front groups and websites. The Council needs to take on some of its members, both in relation to their corporate behavior and in their resistance to any tax reform that might cause them any pain. Until then, Jennifer Westacott should be more cautious in asserting that others lack a plan and believe in “fairies at the bottom of the garden

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Categories: Economics - General Tags:

The Coal Truth

May 2nd, 2018 5 comments

If all the coal in the Galilee Basin were burned, it would make it just about impossible to stabilize the global climate. Most attention has been focused on the Adani Group’s proposal for an integrated mine-rail-port project to develop its proposed Carmichael mine. There are however a string of would-be followers, including GVK Hancock and Clive Palmer.

The good news is that Adani’s March deadline for financial close, itself a deferral of earlier promises, has passed with no sign of anyone willing to finance the proposal. Even the Abbot Point terminal, which has long-term take-or-pay contracts with existing coal mines, is struggling to refinance its debt.

But there’s no room for complacency.
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Categories: Environment Tags: