Last day of the financial year

I’ve been travelling and going to meetings, hence slow posting. Light posting for a while to come, but I thought I’d throw in a last minute reminder that there’s still a few hours left in which to support the Queensland Cancer Council and claim a tax deduction in the process.

Thanks, everyone! More please!

I’ve been travelling, so I only just got around to putting in my $100 as promised for the fundraising appeal. By the time I got to it, we were well past $1000, which is great. But there’s still a long way to go to the target of $5000. And, I’ve got a fair bit of training to do if I’m going to run the implied time of 1:55. So keep the money rolling in and keep me motivated to train hard.

Once again, thanks to everyone who has donated so far. The fact that I can raise funds for good causes is one of the things that motivates me to keep blogging especially at those times when it feels a bit like the 15k mark in a half-marathon.

Marxism without revolution: Crisis

I’m writing series of posts examining the question – what is left of Marxism, as a way to understand the world, and as a way to change it, once it is accepted that capitalism is not going to be overthrown by a working class revolution. Last time I talked about class. This post is about crisis. As before, the shorter JQ is “there are lots of valuable insights, but there’s a high risk of political paralysis.”

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On the right hand sidebar you can see my latest fundraiser, a half-marathon run where I’ll be supporting the Queensland Cancer Council. It’s tax-deductible and there’s still time to donate before June 30, so you get the refund straight away (or, to think of it differently, you can give twice as much as you planned, and the government will pay half).

As I said last time, the deal with this fundraiser is that I’ll commit to a minute below two hours for each $1000 I can raise. We’re just about there for the first $1000, so to hurry things along, I’ll put in $100 of my own if the total gets past $900 by the end of tomorrow (Friday) evening.

Marxism without revolution: Class

I’ve mentioned Erik Olin Wright’s Envisaging Real Utopias a couple of times, and I’ve also been reading David Harvey’s Enigma of Capital and Jerry Cohen’s if You’re an Egalitarian How Come you’re so Rich. In different ways, all these books raise the question: what becomes of Marxism if you abandon belief in the likelihood or desirability of revolution[1]? To give the shorter JQ upfront, there are lots of valuable insights, but there’s a high risk of political paralysis.

I plan alliteratively, to organise my points under three headings: Class, Capital and Crisis, and in this post I’ll talk about class

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Families slugged by NewsCorp Innumeracy #NewsCorpFail

According to Steve Lewis in the Daily Telegraph

CONSUMERS will be slugged with price rises on everyday items like milk, cheese, chocolate and pizza’s as the carbon tax puts the squeeze on retailers and producers

(the apostrophe in pizza’s suggests News may have cut the subediting budget a bit too far). He illustrates with a picture of a mother of three who is currently paying $300 a fortnight for groceries.

Steve can’t say how much, and neither can his sources, though they are happy to give scary quotes. So, instead he quotes some big-sounding numbers derived from the Dept of Climate Change analysis. Woolworths, for example, will pay around $73 million a year in higher electricity costs. That certainly sounds like it would put a dent in the household budget. As the old saying has it, a million here, a million there, pretty soon you’re spending real money. That’s where Lewis leaves the story

But those of us capable of primary school arithmetic can take things a little bit further. There are 20 million or so people in Australia, so the cost amounts to aroun $3.50 a year, or 7 cents a week for us. For the archetypal (if unrepresentative family of four) that’s around 30 cents a week or 60 cents a fortnight (an increase of 0.4 per cent for the mother in the example). Looking at the illustrative photo, that’s rather less than the difference between the Kleenex tissues in the shopping trolley and the home brand alternative.

For a validity check on the impact, we could look at Woolies’ total sales of around $18 billion a year. A cost increase of $73 million is approximately 0.4 per cent. Of course, this doesn’t really get to the right answer either, because it doesn’t take account of changes in the wholesale cost of goods (so-called Scope 3 emissions).

But doing the analysis at an aggregate level fixes this pretty well. A tax at $26/tonne will raise around $10-$12 billion, depending on exemptions and particularly on the treatment of petrol. That’s about 2.5 per cent of total household expenditure on goods services, meaning that the gross impact of the carbon tax will be about a quarter that of the GST (note however, that the GST was offset, for goods, by the removal of Wholesale Sales Tax). The increase will be greater than this for energy services (electricity, gas and so on), and therefore must be less on non-energy goods. Overall, it’s safe to predict that the impact on grocery bills and similar items will be around 1 per cent.

Over the fold, I’ll do the cents per week exercise for all of Lewis’ examples when I get a moment

Monday Message Board – Queens Birthday Edition

Time for another Monday Message Board, but we’re enjoying a long weekend, at least in Brisbane where the miserable weather of last week, forecast to continue for several days more, has disappeared. I’d welcome thoughts about the monarchy, honours lists and so on, and would also be interested to hear from readers affected by the volcanic ash clouds.

I’m tightening up on the civility rules and will, from now on, delete anything I regard as personal criticism of another commenter, along with coarse language. As usual, save long rants, extensive debates with other commenters, and repetition of old themes for an appropriate sandpit.