174 thoughts on “Another sandpit

  1. I’ve been thinking about feed-in tariffs for rooftop solar and how high they should be. Many Australians installing new solar now only get a feed-in of tariff of eights cents for each kilowatt-hour they provide to the grid. As this is only a cent or two above the price of wholesale electricity during the day, and solar doesn’t have the negative externalities or transmission costs associated with burning fossil fuels, this seems low to me.

    I’m wondering if anyone has any thoughts on what feed-in tariffs should be. Perhaps they should consist of three components: The wholesale cost of electricity, a component to reflect transmission costs avoided, and a component that represents savings in health costs and environmental damage avoided as health externalites are not currently paid for by fossil fuel generators and the cost of greenhouse gas emissions are not fully covered by the carbon price.

    And possibly feed-in tariffs should be fairly high, say two thirds or more of the retail price of electricity, in order to prevent people installing home and business energy storage. High feed-in tariffs will keep energy storage on the grid and help preserve the current business model of electricity generators and distributers. They’ll have to adapt, but it could stop them from being pretty much wiped out if people start installing their own energy storage and potentially going off grid.

  2. Penn and Teller in their ‘Bullshit’ TV show put forward this argument:
    1. 96% of the population of prisons are male
    2. women are fall less likely to commit crimes or kill others with guns
    3. issue a gun to every women
    4. require the gun to be pink so that macho types are reluctant to carry it
    5. assume that only 50% of women actually carry this pink gun with them

    If there is 50% chance that a female potential victim of crime is armed, what would happen to crime rates against women?

  3. Since when does roof top PV reduce transmission system costs or avoid transmission system costs? It probably increases them. There is little doubt that in Germany PV and wind increase transmission system costs.

    External costs of fossil fuels should not be “accounted for” by subsidizing PV. Just have a proper price on carbon and a level playing field.

  4. Supply and demand suggest the PV export price should be lower on a cool sunny day. That is high supply low demand. As the sun sets on a hot day with heavy aircon use the price should be higher. I suggest the price should follow the hourly NEM spot price which for Queensland recently (if I recall correctly) was $12,000 per Mwh or $12 per kwh. OK maybe there should be price ceilings. I can confirm this for 2/7/12
    http://www.aemo.com.au/Electricity/Resources/Reports-and-Documents/Pricing-Event-Reports/July-2012

    A sufficiently smart meter that can handle time-of-use export pricing could be programmed to turn off appliances when the price is high. Conversely the freezer and washing machine could run harder on a day when the export price is low i.e. use it or lose it. The problem is who is going to pay for all this hardware and software. Do the frail elderly without PV keep the aircons on when it is 45C and power is dollars not cents per kwh?

  5. @Ronald Brak

    I had conctractors install a 5.5 kW (nameplate capacity) solar PV system just before the high feed-in tariff cutoff. Plus I had an evacutated tube split-system solar hot water system installed. Basically we make enough power for our house (4 adults, plenty of mod cons, no pool but a biocycle waste system pump) and another house that would use about 3/4 of our power. Clearly, the grid is my “free battery system”. I feed in in the daytime and take power whenever I want.

    This whole area gets very emotive. I have had people telling me I am free-riding and that they pay more for power because of people like me. Often those complaining about free riding are the same ones who took all the water tank subsidies and insulation batt subsidies (which I did not actually) when they were in vogue. They also tend to be first in line to get seniors’ cards and other freebies. There is a lot of hypocrisy about when accusations of “free-riding” are made. Other people simply say, “smart move, I wish I had done it.” or “I did it too.”

    I agree that the subsidy and the rules favour homeowners against non-homeowners and those who “got in” in time against those who did not. The subsidy field needs to be levelled. I would only agree that solar subsidies be removed entirely when all fossil fuel subsidies are removed and these are still massive and dwarf renewable subsidies.

    A “fair price” is always subject to debate. The market alone cannot sort out a fair price when fossil fuel negative externalities are uncosted or undercosted and when fossil fuels still get more subsidies than renewables.

    Principles of fairness would dictate;

    (a) the rules and feed-in prices should be the same for everyone who runs a household.
    (b) if the assistance is worth x dollars p.a. on average to home owners then non-homeowners should get an equivalent energy allowance (like and in addition to their rent allowance).

    A fair price might take some calculation but I would settle for one-for-one on own use and wholesale price for excess if any is fed in over the billing period. Generators should carry the fee-in grid costs and add it to the retail price. A simple and arguably fair set-up.

    Example:

    (a) In the daytime I feed in say 40 kWh (quite possible in summer)
    (b) I use 15 kWh during the day and another 15 kWh at night.
    (c) I get the above power “free” (one for one) except for my capital and interest costs.
    (d) the extra 10 kWh is sold for wholsale price to the generator.
    (e) I pay a normal connection fee like any other user.

    I get to use the grid as a “storage” for apparently for free but this can be recouped by the generator in higher fees.

    And BTW I would compulsorily re-nationalise the entire power grid and pay any private shareholder millionaries in generation only 50 c in the dollar for their shares. If they demur or shift capital, hit the rich with a super-tax. It’s time to re-nationalise and re-socialise our economy.

  6. Hermit, I doubt we will get smart meters with smart feedback throughout Australia anytime soon, but if they are available they could certainly take into account the spot price of electricity. At the moment with our current meter stock and quarterly readings we’ll probably have to settle for a flat feed-in tariff for most rooftop solar. There could be seasonal adjustments in the tariff, but they’d be fairly rough as meters aren’t all read at the same time and the information is instead collected over months.

  7. @Ronald Brak

    Personally, I’d think it apt if the feed-in tariff was exactly the same as the feed-out tariff, less a percentage for network “handling” charge. It’s apt that at least some of the extra costs associated with handling “uploaded” power and retailing it to others be borne by the seller. Or you could look it as “a commission”. If I sell someone else’s goods surely that’s worth something to the “wholesaler” — in this case, the operator of the PV system.

    Depending on the circumstances, a “commission” or “handling fee” of say, 20% might be justifiable. Thus, if at the time of sale, an identical property would be paying $0.32 per kWh then the FiT would be $0.24 * 0.8 (i.e $0.24). This would encourage the householder (or a business with lots of roof space) both to capitalise (and to minimise demand especially during the peak, using their own power at the lower cost). If the operator could find a storage solution that cost less than the network charge, they’d be tempted to adopt it.

    I understand the costs of PV are continuing to decline, and recently saw that some thin film technologies have become as photo conversion efficient as crystalline. If the peak could be knocked off demand then a lot of coal will be forced to get more out of the late-afternoon/shoulder period, which will in turn drive more solar, in a virtuous circle as coal is edged to the margin, Sumo style and then out of the ring or at best into a narrow corner.

    As wind also become more efficient, (and perhaps wave technology too) or better grid-based storage solutions arise, even the evening will be lost to fossil HC and eventually, they will be set aside as power of last resort. When that occurs, the big complaint against electric vehicles — that they use dirty power as well, will evaporate.

  8. Ikonoclast, on the topic of “free-riding” I would point out to detractors that the Small Scale Technology Certificates, which are the Renewable Energy Certificates for solar, only comprise 0.5% of household electricity bills and that feed-in tariffs are only 0.85% of household electricity bills. Then I would mention that solar power reduces wholesale electricity prices for everyone and that South Australians with non bastardly electricity retailers received an 8.1% cut in electricity prices at the start of this year, partially due to South Australia have the most solar per capita in Australia. (AGL has ads in the papers saying they are cutting standing rates by 9.1%)

    Because all Australians benefit from reduced electricity prices, reduced medical costs and increased average lifespance due to a reduction in fossil fuel pollution, and a safer environment due to the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, I’m not sure roofless Australians need to be compensated as a result of feed-in tariffs for rooftop solar. However, I can’t be sure if there is a good case or not without looking into the actual numbers. But I do think that Australians might need protection from being taken advantage of by monopoly power. Currently home owning neighbour Joe might be quite willing to sell electricity at a reasonable rate to home renting neighbour Jane, but at the moment legally can’t. The middle-men (middle people?) who Joe is not permitted to sack might be tempted to run the grid for the benefit of a few rather than for the benefit of Australia.

  9. Even if the capex of realtime PV doesn’t reduce any further we need a cost breakthrough on safe longlife batteries. There has been talk of recycling 13 kwh Chevrolet Volt batteries for home use
    http://www.engadget.com/2012/11/15/gm-and-abb-repurpose-used-chevy-volt-batteries-to-provide-home-b/
    Rather than a shed full of clunky lead acid batteries these ex-traction batteries could reside in a wall mounted cabinet. There may be limits to this weight reduction as we see with battery meltdowns in Boeing Dreamliner aircraft.

    The problem is after a rainy week and the batteries are flat we’ll need the despised fossil fuel or nuclear to make the electricity. This seems to have gotten out of hand in cloudy Germany with at one time 25 GW of installed PV that gets a guaranteed feed-in tariff. Hence the Germans are building 8 GW of new coal fired plant while retiring 1.5 GW. I spent $20k on PV in 2005 and I’m not so starry eyed.

  10. Fran, personally I’d be interested to see what the price of electricity exported from rooftop solar would be if we ran a computer simulation of a “free” market where all electricity produced was auctioned off with rooftop solar only paying local distribution costs and not parying for the long distance transmission and electrical substations that it does not use. I suspect that it’s value would average well above eight cents a kilowatt-hour. Currently I pay about 11 cents for distribution for each kilowatt-hour I buy from the grid. As a complete guess, if rooftop solar saved five cents of that, with a wholesale electricity cost of around seven cents during the day, electricity from rooftop solar should be worth about 11 cents. Of course this does not mean a reasonable case can’t be made for a higher feed-in tariff, particularly when other factors are taken into account.

  11. I guess the electrical grid (ie poles and wires) is a natural monopoly in the sense it would be daft to have multiple transmission lines side by side. Some might like that however to separate water from mountain dams and water from processed effluent. Grid tied PV owners happily pay around $1 daily connection fee to have the despised grid bail them out when the sun goes down. They can’t even console themselves with the thought that wind is always taking up the slack. On a still frosty night neither wind nor solar are of much help. The truly green will of course content themselves with a small fire of yak dung on such nights rather than turn on a gas or electric heater.

  12. @Hermit

    On a still, frosty night heat from concentrating solar power stored in a molen salt storage tank can be converted back to electrical power.

    On a still, frosty night thermal convection towers still produce power due to the temperature differential between the surface and the top of the tower. Every hundred metres you go up from the surface, the ambient temperature drops by about 1 degree (except in conditions of temperature inversion).

    On a still frosty night other heat needs can come from local heat storage. Solar hot water is heat storage. There a number of other ways of collecting day time for night heating. I would be using these before yak dung.

    On a still frosty night electrical power from wind can come from other regions. Rarely or never is a state or country windless over its whole extent.

  13. Hermit, I susptect the $1 a day grid connection fee will need to be scrapped. This is because $365 in savings a year may make it worthwhile for people with battery storage to buy a small generator and go off grid. Obviously this needs to be avoided as each person who disconnects is a person not feeding their surplus rooftop solar electricity into the grid, and from the point of view of the grid it is one less customer they can sell electricity to.

  14. @Ronald Brak

    I read somewhere a couple of years back that a significant problem in waste management was lead acid batteries from cars. I also read that the possibility of reconditioning these batteries at reasonable cost — not for cars but potentially as storage was very near.

    It seems to me at least notionally possible that some sort of “community storage hub” run by a local co-op might fund a storage hub from reconditioned lead acid and lithium ion batteries (there should be a lot coming on line). People could in theory sell their rooftop power to the co-op and then “buy” it back at a discount when they needed it.

    This might be more feasible (and probably safer) than everyone having their own homebased storage.

  15. Fran, I have wondered about something like this community energy storage being done in Australia, but not by surburban neighbourhoods, but by local councils in rural areas. Western Australia appears to have realized that solar can save a heap of money in supplying grid power to remote areas and while a new PV system in Perth might only get an 8 cent feed-in tariff, in some remote areas in WA it can be 50 cents a kilowatt-hour. I suspect that once enough solar capacity is built local energy storage will be installed (if locals haven’t already installed enough of their own) and a small local generator will be added. Then the high voltage transmission line to the area will be rolled up and sold for scrap.

    I don’t think recondtioned lead batteries will catch on. Different chemistry batteries being produced now are economically superior. While lead has a low upfront cost the new batteries win on lifespan, lack of maintenance, and high safety.

    And I doubt we will follow a cooperative model in Australia. There are several reasons why I think this, but one is the cooperative model is a big target that is easier for opponents to block and throw spanners in the works of. By the time community energy storage gets under way one in ten houses might have individual home energy storage, which will hurt the economics of community storage and reduce support for it. But I could be completely wrong. I do think Germany and Italy will be the places to watch to see what is likely to happen.

    But I doubt this will happen outside of rural Australia because of competition from individual home and business energy storage, which I think won’t take long to come down in price. The latest batteries being produced are economically superior than to due to their long life, lack of maintenance, and lack of acid and lead.

  16. @Ronald Brak

    It occurred to me that in some areas, community energy storage coops might buy energy wholesale at off peak rates from the grid and store it along with what else they had, retailing it as needed during the peak. They could thus be an energy retailer.

  17. @Ronald Brak

    Be that as it may, you are simply making stuff up and offer no supporting evidence.

    The reason intermittent generators cannot reduce transmission and distribution costs is that they are err… intermittent. The transmission and distribution infrastructure must be capable of dealing with the times they are AWOL. The peak load it must be able to carry is not reduced even if it’s average load may be. In fact the reality is that transmission systems need to be longer (eg north to south of Germany) and and of higher capacity to deal with peak loads from low capacity factor generators.

    Here is the German reality:

    “Germany’s energy agency has called on the government to allow power grid companies to raise tariffs to provide a greater incentive for the billions of euros of infrastructure investment needed to support the shift to renewable energy.”

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/11/germany-power-grid-idUSL5E8NB54020121211

  18. Fran, the coop could do that and they could pay spot prices for electricity they import and recieve spot prices for electricity they export, which is a lot more profitable for energy storage than just normal peak and off peak prices.

  19. @Ikonoclast
    I receive a $0.54c FIT and have been told it ends in 2015. I paid $3999 for my system in Sept 2011 and since then both the FIT and Government subsidies have dropped markedly YET, I can buy the same system for around $2500 now.
    Early movers were paid a higher FIT but also paid a higher price for their systems.

    Hermit@ #9, The Germans are building only those coal plants which were in construction or planned at the time of fukishima.
    The new plants are highly efficient and designed for quick startup for load following of renewable power.
    There are sure to be dirtier coal plants retired as more renewables come on line, including Geothermal power down the track a bit.

  20. @Salient Green
    If I recall from last year Hazelwood was to be retired in 2032 and Yallourn in 2031. I suspect that has since been fudged. The coal plants that have closed (Playford, Collinsville, soon Brix) were small and clapped out. I don’t think there has been an official net emissions figure yet announced for 2012. It was around the 550 Mt mark in 1990 and I suspect the new figure will be similar unless some kind of numerical swiftie is used.

    As for geothermal a few years back it was going to supply 25% of Australia’s baseload. Now Geodynamics appear struggling to get an 11 MW demo plant running in the outback far from any transmission. You’d think by now some reality would come to the debate.

  21. Fossil fuels still produce about 80% of all our energy use. After tackling coal (25%) we still have to tackle oil 35% and gas 20%. The task is enormous. Even if we lick the stationary electrical energy generation problem and retire coal that would leave 55% of our energy coming from fossil fuels. Virtually our entire transport fleet has to be retired and replaced by electrical vehicles, mass transit, bicycles and pedestrianism.

  22. @Hermit

    If I recall from last year Hazelwood was to be retired in 2032 and Yallourn in 2031.

    Yes, wasn’t that an absolutely fabulous ALP policy. In the unlikely event that Hazelwood is still trading in 2031, it will be 66 years old.

  23. @Ikonoclast “Replaced by electrical vehicles, mass transit, bicycles and pedestrianism.”

    • Electric vehicles are pointless if the grid uses coal. They still take hours to recharge and are aluminium death-traps.

    • Mass transit is there to take the middle class to their jobs in the CBD. employment is more and more decentralising especially manufacturing and service jobs of the working class. These jobs require point to point transport for which even buses are hopeless.

    • Bicycles and pedestrianism – tell that to single mothers and pensioners in an ageing society.

  24. @Jim Rose

    1. Thus I presume you agree electrical vehicles have a point of the electrical recharge energy is renewable? (Solar power, wind power etc.)

    2. Look at the gridlock in Brisbane (or Sydney or Melbourne). Are you telling me extra trunk route and feeder route mass transit in trhose cities would not reduce car use and energy use?

    3. There are still plenty of healthy (and even otherwise healthy but somewhat overweight people like me) who would benefit from more use of bicycles and shanks’s pony.

    None of your objections are really obstacles at all. They are essentially objections people raise when they don’t want to change. However, the facts are we will be forced to change our energy profligate ways whether we want to or not. This will be dictated to us by the laws of thermodynamics. Useable energy (energy available for useful work) will get scarcer as easy to exploit eneergy sources run out and/or a phase out is forces as climate change becomes undeniable. A combination of a switch to renewables plus much greater energy efficiency and energy saving will be required to survive.

    The age of ‘voluntarism and cornucopianism’ * is behind us. The age of consequences and the re-establishment of man’s intrinsic subjection to natural laws and limits is now upon us whether we will it or no.

    * Note : crudely interpreted as “man can do whatever he wants and have whatever he wants”.

  25. Salient Green :
    @quokka
    If rooftop solar reduces power use, and it does, then it must reduce transmission costs.

    No, as I stated above even if average power carried by the network is decreased, there is no guarantee at all that peak power is decreased.

    Even your reference makes no such claim. What it does say is this:

    CSIRO also modelled the impacts of PV systems on the transmission network. It was found that carefully sited PV systems can reduce congestion on transmission networks and reduce the average price of electricity.

    However, if there is one thing that rooftop PV is not, that is “carefully sited”. It’s an unplanned mish mash. There is zero system planning. Throw some subsidies at PV capacity and hope the major operators can sort out the associated system issues – supposedly for free. This kind of works up to a point and then things start to get a bit sticky. See Germany.

    Furthermore there is no CSIRO “smart grid” that the claim was based on. There is really no experience at all of any such thing having been achieved in practice.

  26. @Ikonoclast

    It’s so tiring to here these memes repeated by the Rose troll.

    1. Electric vehicles, including those using a grid that is 80% coal fired, produce fewer emissions per unit of distance than an equivalently powered ICE vehicle. That’s because they use the energy they draw down more efficiently than comparably sized ICE vehicles do, most of the time.

    2. Plug-in EVs can make use of renewables, where ICEs cannot. Not only that, but the ability to function as quick ramp supply for the network makes networks for flexible and can reduce redundancy requirements. This would reduce the need for fossil thermal redundancy.

    3. Overnight charging of EVs from the grid is likely to make use of existing under-used capacity, meaning that the demand is likely to have a low marginal cost as the efficiency of plants is approached.

    4. As the grid is decarbonised, EVs will become even more relatively CO2-efficient. Having a substantial EV fleet improves the CO2 abatement return on closing coal and other fossil thermal plants, because the vehicles automatically become cleaner without further innovation.

    5. Electric vehicles, by moving emissions from the city to the fossil thermal plant will inevitably lead to lower levels of airborne contaminants in the palces where population is most dense. Assuming the government cares about pollution, the cost of cleaning up the emissions is sharply cut and the proces rendered far simpler.

    6. While it is true that the infirm will not be riding bicycles or doing so much walking, it’s a mistake to assume old = infirm. I’m not sure of “Jim” ‘s age but those of us born in the late 1950s became used to seeing people in their seventies as frail. One of the reasons our population is ageing (apart from declining birth rates and a tightening of immigration) is that older people are living longer and in better health. We have had nearly three decades of public health campaigns on smoking. Working hours have shortened. Occupational Health & Safety has improved. The health system has also improved, including in the care of older people. I regularly see people who are surely 70+ riding bicycles and walking unaided by frames without apparent discomfort.

    In any event it’s a poor argument to find someone who is an anomaly in order to show that a whole system cannot work. We certainly need to reconfigure our urban areas to make public transport far more feasible for more people. When EVs and better designed cities intersect, we will radically reduce the human footprint and yet have better quality of life.

  27. @Fran Barlow

    Yes, to all those points about an electrical economy. I think the target should be to have a near 100% electrical economy. It would be far more energy efficient.

    The elephant in the room is subsidies to fossil fuels.

    “The IEA, within the framework of the World Energy Outlook, has been measuring fossil-fuel subsidies in a systematic and regular fashion for more than a decade. Its analysis is aimed at demonstrating the impact of fossil-fuel subsidy removal for energy markets, climate change and government budgets. The IEA’s latest estimates indicate that fossil-fuel consumption subsidies worldwide amounted to $523 billion in 2011, up from $412 billion in 2010, with subsidies to oil products representing over half of the total. Changes in international fuel prices are chiefly responsible for differences in subsidy costs from year to year. The increase in the global amount of subsidy in 2011 closely tracked the sharp rise in international fuel prices.” – IEA Energy Subsidies summary.

    I have seen other estimates of up to $1 trillion if you widen the transfers and externalities costing framework. Add in the gulf wars 1 & 2 (which is a fossil fuel subsidy in many ways) and what number would one get?

    It’s funny but I NEVER hear the free marketeers say “remove all fossil fuel subsidies” (outside of the energy policy wonks in the IEA and OECD). The neoliberal belief in “free” markets is very selective. Actually, they mean a market where they are free to do what they like including successfully lobbying govt. for big subsidies.

  28. @Ronald Brak

    I heard a few years back that in Sardinia, they’ve a chap of 113 who still rides his bike to work. It could be one of those stories one likes to think is true, but apparently, the place does pretty well on avoiding degenerative disease.

  29. It is just so easy make sweeping statements on electrification, when the reality is that it is moving at a snails pace. There are 2 reasons for this.

    One is that battery technology is close, but not there yet. Not there yet to the extent that the US government (directed by Barak Obama) is to fund a $200 million “back to the drawing board” battery technology project with the funds spread over 5 universities. The current grounding of 787’s highlights the problem.

    The second impediment is with our government’s, more bureaucratic obstructionism than political incompetence, failure to recognise the importance of this transition and develop management structures to fast track electrification. A classic case is with electric cycles which have been pinned at a 200 watt power level for decades. Recently the cycle associations put a case to the Victorian government to allow a power level of 250 watts where the power could only be accessed through pedalling, ie no power with pedals idling. The whole argument was that people would be encouraged to become fit, rather than transported. What a magnificent concession from the bureacrats who with one hat allow only a 25% increase in power level, equivalent to a dim light bulb, for efficient transport, while with another hat applaud V8 super cars with power levels, both Holden and Ford, of around 650 hp, where the only exercise the user gets is applying pressure on the brake pedal.

    There is supposed to be a review of low powered vehicles in NSW this quarter, though where Stuart Ayres has promised to inform me of the announcement of this review, I have heard nothing yet. The point here is that it does not take many bureaucrats to stonewall an issue to favour their own interests. Anyone who has sat on a committee will appreciate that with a spread of opinions or interests the outcome can only ever be a luke warm representation of what is actually necessary (the whole climate “debate” being a prime example).

    So where there is an opportunity to involve a very large section of the population with the advantages of electric transport (eBikes) at minimal cost to the consumer/user, with no cost to the government, and while giving a very significant section of our manufacturing industry the green light to develop products that people will actually buy, it only takes one or two smug self interested bureaucrats to blockade eVehicle development for another 30 years.

    The Victorian legislation (accommodation) was allowed citing the Swiss eBike standards. This is how the process works. Scan the world for a standard that gives little but appears to be totally reasonable. When you examine this you quickly see that European standards on bicycle use are completely inappropriate for Australia. Throughout Europe distances travelled are short, villages are very close together, roads are narrow, and footpaths are scarce. Furthermore population to land area gives each European less that on third of a hectare per person. In Australia distances travelled are greater, roads are wider, and we have footpaths as standard nearly everwhere. Australian’s also enjoy 28 hectares per person. In Europe helmet use is not a requirement, the bureaucrats take only the standards that suit their purposes.

    The US powered cycle standard would have been far more applicable for Australia. Our roads are similar, distances travelled are similar and our population density is sparcer but similarly arranged. So the US 750 watt power level for eBikes would be most appropriate. Only it does not suite those with hidden agendas, and absolutely no direct answerability to the public at all.

    Another technology that will have to wait a decade or more is our GenIIPV system which has the ability to dramatically accelerate uptake of rooftop solar while significantly boosting Australian manufacturing, and that is despite the technology upon which it is based increasing its conversion efficiency from 40.5% a few years ago to over 50% just recently. With this increase taking the GenIIPV overall efficiency to well over 60%. We could not even get a discussion with government to demonstrate how this works, and there is a reason for that.

    Go to the CSIRO’s eFuture “explore future scenario’s” website (hat tip to Barry Brooke’s BNC thingy) and see if you can make this modeller give any result other than a thin line for rooftop solar PV 50 years into the future. Further you have to specifically exclude Nuclear to get anything other than a future entirely powered by Nuclear.

    If this is the best advice being given to government it clearly explains the “we’ve got this covered” fob off reply I got from Greg Combet’s office where we had requested a 10 minute phone conversation to discuss how GenIIPV technology had the ability to rescue our failing automotives componentry industry (GenIIPV has a large mechanical element), and the employment in creates.

    Even the CSIRO are not familiar with the full field of established solar technologies on the one hand, but have a very thorough handle on nuclear technology that we do not use in this country, and are only likely to be skewered with if the Coalition ever get their hands on the reins of federal government again, a prospect which I suspect Campbell Newman is shooting down right now aided by another round of climate “fluctuation”.

    In other news thin flexible solar PV panels have achieved an efficiency of 20%. This is important for aviation, automotive, and a broad array of agricultural solar users.

    This will be a frustrating transition to our all electric energy future. But that is the future, no doubt at all. In between I am committed to have as my next vehicle the VW XL1 100 klm per litre 2 seat hybride which should be in production some time this year. Hopefully by the time production has progressed to the point where one is available for me to buy they will have increased the battery capacity to where it can perform most local tasks with more electric component than (bio) diesel.

  30. I suppose many Qld people who blog here are currently (2:30 pm 27/01/2013) preoccupied with local flooding issues and household security from wind and water.

    I took a long inclement walk to look along the South Pine River before it enters Cash’s Crossing, Albany Creek. An eye-level check at about 1:00 pm confirmed for me that the South Pine River is well up and only about 2 vertical meters below its January 2011 flood peak. I note on the news Bundaberg is experiencing worse flooding than 2010-2011 and Grantham is being severely flooded again. No doubt much other flooding news is coming in.

    This supports the contention that parts of towns and suburbs severely flooded on a regular basis now need to be moved lock, stock and barrel to higher ground developments. I guess an economist or actuary (or both) could do the numbers but there must be a calculus which suggests that moving a chronically flooding area’s buildings and infrastructure to higher ground is cheaper than endless rebuilding once flooding frequency rises above a flood every x years.

  31. @BilB

    “An interesting screed, written you have, Jedi BilB.” – Yoda.

    You refer to “bureaucrats… (who) stonewall an issue to favour their own interests”. I am sure you wrote that blogging quickly but the real causal chain I think is;

    Capitalists’ interests determine Politician’s interests detemine bureaucrats’ interests. We need to go to the top of the chain and look at why entrenched corporate capitalists are opposing change. In Australia, it is clear that mining magnates, especially but not only coal and gas interests, are in control of Australian politics. To change anything we will have to change the influence mining capital has in distorting Australian politics and getting what it wants rather the people getting the policies they need.

    It’s a tough ask. The first step is to stop voting for Labour, Liberal, National and Country politicians whose campaigns are all in pay from the mining industry via the disgracefully legal corporate donations system. The mining industry donates to both sides to buy influence and to always have the threat available of withdrawing donations if policies affect their interests.

    The main obstacle to the renewable energy, low fossil fuel economy is the fossil fuel industry. Eventually these people will have to be arraigned as climate criminals.

  32. Fran, I have no trouble believing a 113 year old rides a bike. Generally speaking the very long lived are in pretty good nick right up the end or close to it. Those without the ability to stay in reasonably good shape for 95+ years usually don’t have the legs to make to 100+.

  33. @BilB

    In other news thin flexible solar PV panels have achieved an efficiency of 20%. This is important for aviation, automotive, and a broad array of agricultural solar users.

    IIRC is was 23.7% just tipping out crystalline by 0.1% … This was significant because the improvement from about 14% has occurred quite quickly — over the last five years.

  34. Sorry, Ikonoclast, creating a revolution just to have a different way of being employed is now proven to be a really, really bad idea (think Egypt here). You might be thinking Marx, but the Quinkans are thinking Islamic Jihad, and as they are prepared to blow themselves up and everyone else nearby to get what their religion wants, they will win given the chance.

    Rule one. Know when you are well off. Please point to any where in the world where Marxism has worked and actually prospered, and the “people” have enjoyed a higher minimum wage than our $15 per hour.

    Rule two. Cut through the crap.

    The eBike is an interesting subject because the only way that there will be any real change is if the Federal government department responsible orders a wide ranging review of the subject. That portfolio falls under Anthony Albanese’s clutch. Now this is the guy who a year ago in Perth when Julia Gillard was opening something or announcing something, chose to raise the “very important issue that must be resolved and the Labour Government is the only government that can get on with the job” of Sydney’s second airport. Since then there has been nothing but side stepping. Meanwhile the options are steadilly being shutout or built over. The cause of the delay is bureaucratic bungling on the one hand, and political ineptitude on the other. (Now here I have to wonder why you think that a Marxist anti capitalist economy would be devoid of this kind of farting about when all evidence is to the contrary). As the decision gets dragged out it becomes increasingly more entangled with other issues, the latest being a high speed rail. Should we build a high speed rail link between Sydney and Melbourne and have an international airport at Canberra?

    What is needed here is a method for stepping back and looking at the real issues.

    Let me give you a not unrelated example. When Sydney’s second runway was under construction a consultancy had been given the task for siting the radar that would serve the new installation. They had been on the task for 18 months at a cost of 10,000 a month and where not within site of a solution. My MBA brother who had been management review for the department of defense for a lot of years happened to be in an office where the manage of the runway project was complaining about the delays in siting the radar. So brother took the opportunity and said to the manager would he pay 10,000 dollars to have the matter resolved immediately. Even though he is an accountant he had considerable technical exposure with Defence, apart from being a good problem solver. So he collected the criteria, bought a basic design package and layed out the primary considerations. So even though there were endless technicalities the primary considerations to do with radiation exposure and local populations limited the siting of the radar to just one spot. Brother presented this to the manager with the proof, while pointing ou that this location was in between the two runways and out in the bay. To this the manager said good work, paid the money, issued a directive to the dredging contractor requesting that “from time to time we need a reserve of material for various sub projects, please place dredged material here”. An island quickly appeared, and that is where the radar for the second runway is to this day.

    Applying rule two to the second airport should eliminate the fast rail complication straight away. If in the middle of the best economic period Australia has enjoyed, the early noughties, we could not commit to high speed rail, and if later in the middle of a mining boom we still cannot easily commit to such a project, then it is never going to happen. Get on with job, name a sight for the Sydney’s second airport and build the dam thing. No matter where it goes someone is going to be disadvantaged (or rather believe that they are so).

    Getting back to eBikes, if Anthony Abanese cannot make a simple decision on the siting of a new airport for Sydney, then the tough decision of allowing people to have electric bikes with suitable power for Australian conditions is just way beyond him, and the Labour government, and any other government for that matter, as they have failed to achieve any realistic thought on this subject for my entire life. And I don’t see why the dramatic advancements in electric motor technology, battery technology, electronic control technology, the sevenfold increase in Australia’s population, the vast improvements in roads including the addition of cycling lanes, or the global need to conserve fossil fuels and reduce CO2 emissions,….. that have occurred over my lifetime would make the slightest difference to the evaluation process on power levels for eBikes, because these things had absolutely no influence on the Victorian government bureaucrats last year when they brushed aside the needs of the public with a power level increase barely sufficient to power an electric toothbrush.

    Rule three. Make the most of what you have got, and try to enjoy life. That does not mean buckle under to knucklehead politicians, or bureaucrats. Put up your best arguments and sometimes you will make a difference.

  35. @Hermit
    In regards to coal plant closures and Geothermal power I was still talking about the Germans. No one needs to lecture me on the Australian experience. As well as your examples of failure to shut down coal power, Australian governments have put more money into failed CCS projects than Geothermal efforts.
    If, and it seems likely, when the Germans commit themselves to Geothermal power you can guarantee they won’t piss-fart around like our governments have.

  36. Your right, SG. Australia’s piss-farting around with geothermal is both disgraceful and has been an incredible waste of money. By not properly funding the initiatives failure has been guaranteed for a project where success should have been the outcome. CCS was a failure guaranteed project for so many reasons.

    Meanwhile the CCS term is getting a greenover with a change of focus now to Carbon Capture from Seawater.

    I would expect that the political disruption across the top of Africa, Mali most recently, which threatens the stability of the Desertec programme will divert focus for the present towards other technologies. Geothermal would be a good candidate.

  37. @BilB

    This is so fatuous, I don’t know where to start.

    the “people” have enjoyed a higher minimum wage than our $15 per hour.

    Wages do not consist of an amount of money. No where in the world is the minimum wage A$15. To judge a wage you have to look at what commodities it buys.

    Australian $15 buys a basket of goods that are based on freetrade with rancid capo regimes where, often enough, there are paltry minimum wages. In Amerika, the minimum wage is half the rate as in Australia.

    The worth of a minimum wage is not measured by its level, but by the living standard it purchases. So in a capitalist country you will always need a higher minimum wage because housing and other vital services are priced at capitalist prices and include GST at varying rates.

    If you want to look at capitalist minimum wages – try Bangladesh.

    There is nothing stopping a socialist economy paying higher minimum wages, provided the economy is not a victim of economic warfare from the West. The Mondragon enterprise demonstrates this principle.

    Why would you wave minimum wages, when the system paying those wages can be destroyed simply by a Howard-type politician appointing a Harper-like fool to head a fake Fair Pay Commission?

  38. BilB @39, I assume you mean the ‘third’ runway at Sydney Airport when you write ‘second’ runway.

    If I may say, your example of an MBA graduate finding a suitable solution for the location of the radar quicker than a committee is a good one to illustrate how essentially trivial problems are solved efficiently in the process of creating a much bigger problem.

    The expansion of KSA (Kingsford Smith Airport) by means of the third runway is a planning disaster. The airport is difficult to access by any form of transport other than planes. There was a substantial cost overrun and special levies had to be introduced to cover noise insulation costs for the inner west. The noise insulation entails more CO2 emission because of artificial ventilation. The so-called flight management plan had to be reworked under the Howard government because there was a revolution under way. People from as far north as Hornsby down to Sutherland went to protest marches. Hornsby is about 35 km to the north of KSA. There was a Senate Select Committee on Aircraft Noise in Sydney, which produced a report with the apt title “Falling on Deaf Ears”. The so-called noise sharing plan introduced by the Howard government never worked well – it was merely a measure to give people ‘respite’. I am talking about more than 250 000 people who, according to the planning document – the Environmental Impact Statement – were not affected by aircraft noise. These people are still paying a cost which does not enter an accountant’s records because ‘property rights’ apparently exist only for the owners of airports, airlines and associated industries but not for the acoustic environment within residential houses . Now, how is it that more than 250 000 people were overlooked while the propaganda was that the building of the third run way would reduce the number of people ‘seriously affected’ (there is a report which makes this term precise)? Easy. You don’t see what you don’t want to know. Specifically, the authors of the Environmental Impact Statement used data collected from areas extending less than half way of the approach path from the north and they didn’t bother to check for land elevations and they dismissed the comments from local residents. KSA is now an expansive shopping mall (local monopoly) with horrific parking fees. (The profitability of KSA as ‘an airport’ is sensitive to these commercial fees. If environmental costs – noise and air pollution – would be counted, KSA would be a monumental economic loss manufacturing business.

    This planning disaster was not the bureaucrats’ fault, if I may say. Australia had a first class environmental protection (noise and air) system in place when so-called bureaucrats were working as professionals in an independent public service system. This planning disaster happened during the time when the public sector was corporatised. The Environmental Impact Statement was written by a private consulting company. The method of ‘project evaluation’ was straight out of an introductory corporate finance text. This document (several in fact) introduced me to a language and a ‘communications strategy’ which, I later learned, had been successfully used by the tobacco industry (and taught in some MBA schools). It is a way of writing which flows and sounds comforting. The give away is, when the reader asks him or herself a few questions of details then he or she finds that the answers are nowhere. Another give away is that false histories are created to deflect complaints.

    A few years before the KSA planning disaster started, the then Prime Minister, Mr Hawke, announced there will be no expansion of KSA. The reversal of the Hawke government’s decision to not expand KSA (Kingsford Smith Airport) took place with the collaboration of the Greiner (MBA) State government.

    I agree with you, good old Karl Marx is quite irrelevant to the contemporary issue of corporatism.

  39. C’mon Chris,

    “You can’t handle the truth!!!”

    …is what I’m watching at the moment. I’m laughing, and agreeing. Most of us can’t handle reality.

    Yes 15 is just a number. It is not the number itself that matters, but what you do with it. That number multiplied by another number gives you yet another number that defines ones options, for that week. If the number is not satisfactory then one has options to change their future. I can handle that kind of truth.

    Let’s consider your co-operative truth. No numbers. Sleep over there and you will be provided for, all you have to do is work all day,…for the good of everyone else. It is a bit hard to multiply that one out. Impossible to predict or change ones future.

    I wonder how many Australians would be able to handle that truth?

  40. ……and it all ended with an old Slovenian proverb, Ernestine G.

    “Speak the truth! Then leave immediately afterwards”

    In 1970 I lived for a year in a little house in Newtown. On a main bus route, right beside the railway (ten tracks wide there if I recall), and directly under the flight path to the KSA main runway (before noise sharing). I chose to live there, and barely noticed the noise becasue it was part of the place. I worked for several years as a lift mechanic. In that job you spend a lot of time on the tops of the buildings in a city. You don’t realise how a city throbs with noise until you hear it from above. Yet people chose to live there. In other cities near the airport is a prestigious area to live. It all depends. Last week I was standing in the water near a little jetty in Hunters Hill enjoying the ambience, several planes flew over, no big noise yet I’ve heard those wingers moan on, and on about the noise. Yet everyone of them fly 10 to 1 to the rest of Sydneysiders. How they suffer. I was on a headland in the mid coast on Friday, the sea breeze in the trees was very loud, that would be very hard to take. The cicadas in the west can drive a person quite nutty, and it goes on for months.

    It is not the truth that we can’t handle,…it is the reality of our own decisions.

    Stop moaning I say, if it bothers a person that much, move somewhere else. In this country you have that choice.

    ….uh..uh let me guess, you’re going to talk now about stamp duty and real estate charges.

    I’m outa here.

  41. Ikonoclast, with regards to people who say those with rooftop solar are free riding on those without, I might also point out that while solar received subsidies in the past, new solar may now be subsidising the rest of the grid. A lot of people now only get an eight cent feed-in tariff, which I doubt covers the actual value of electricity exported from home PV systems once savings in transmission costs, health, and so on are added in. And while solar still receives Renewable Energy Certificates, the solar multiplier has been cut short and the Renewable Energy Certificates that remain will fall in value as solar becomes cheaper and will of course eventually disappear.

    You might also want to ask detractors if they own an air conditioner as currently the largest free riders in Australia with regards to grid electricity are probably those with air conditioning compared to those without. Air conditioners increase peak demand which pushes up generatring costs and requires a lot of expensive infrastructure expansion. Since everyone pays the increased electricity rates that result, households without air conditioners apparently pay an average of $330 a year as a subsidy to those who do. People with rooftop solar are of course heroes as their solar lets them reduce their own demand during peak times, or better yet export electricity at these times. The true heroes are those with rooftop solar and no airconditioning.

  42. Ernestine G,

    Yes you are right it was the third runway, the second main runway that was built into Botany Bay. It was a team of consultant engineers that was displaced for failing to realise the obvious. It was an MBA who studied for 17 years to complete his degrees and masters in night classes while working supporting a family, and at the time was a seasoned professional public servant whose role in management review was to perpetually prune back the expansion of government departments while also being deft at avoiding IBM sales men who wanted to install million dollars mainframes into every public office space.

    Frankly I have no sympathy for those noise affected by KSA. It is a feature of Sydney established when this area was considered to be remote to the city. The area was for decades heavily industrial of the most noxious industries such as tanneries. The runway directions were set in 1933 and have not changed since.

    You should be venting your anger at Anthony Albanese for not resolving the second airport issue in his five years on the front bench. But also at Howard and Abbott for failing in the previous eleven years. Sydney’s noise problem will only get worse until there is a second airport and it will be many years after a site is announced before there will be any relief.

  43. @BilB

    If there must be “a second airport” I can’t see why it shouldn’t be a large floating airport, placed perhaps in the waters just off Sydney Heads.

    There’d be no land to acquire, a radically simpler EIS process, the possibility of moduralisation of the build, capacity to build to conservative scale and add as required so a more maintainable solution, improved security, proximity to CBD, minimisation of noise impacts, capacity for renewable energy (wave power; wind) …

  44. How about a mag lev bullet train between Melbourne and Sydney to cut down on air congestion? Of course, since Sydney can’t even manage to lay badly needed rail to get freight to its port it will probably need to be suspended in the air from balloons or something. Or maybe if the train was moving fast enough it could do a jump over Sydney and splash down in the harbour?

  45. @BilB

    Is this really your level of understanding?

    Yes 15 is just a number. It is not the number itself that matters, but what you do with it. That number multiplied by another number gives you yet another number that defines ones options, for that week. If the number is not satisfactory then one has options to change their future. I can handle that kind of truth.

    Let’s consider your co-operative truth. No numbers. Sleep over there and you will be provided for, all you have to do is work all day,…for the good of everyone else. It is a bit hard to multiply that one out. Impossible to predict or change ones future.

  46. They’re all good thoughts, Fran, but think about some of the projects that have been done and how the cost has streched the economy. To make an airport four or five times the basic on land cost just because of noise is an unlikely starter. And that is before you consider whose beach you will park it off and how people get too and from it.

    One major advantage would be with fuel management if aviation fuel came by tanker directly.

    The nearest equivalent to this notion from which could be measured some of the operational requirements is the airport for the Maldives. Take a look. It is one of my favourites.

    I was just thinking through some of the bouyancy issues and stress loadings of having 500 tonnes land on a floating structure and role along it. I think tyou would be requiring up to ten times the amount of concrete that is required for a regular runway. That is a lot of extra cost.

    The second airport will be at Badgeries Creek. We will all get used to its noise and profit from its presence.

    To my thinking, far worse than living in the proximity of an airport is living next to a motor way. The noise pressure from highspeed traffic is oppressive and constant.

  47. @Ernestine Gross

    I am not sure whether this is just a naive prejudice:

    I agree with you, good old Karl Marx is quite irrelevant to the contemporary issue of corporatism.

    or whether you have a useful argument underpinning such gaffes.

    Under capitalism, corporations arise from 1) concentration of capital, 2) intensified competition 3) gains, for itself, through efficiencies of scale 4) market and political power and 5) gains, for itself, through degrees of monopolisation.

    This process is inherently exploitative and unsustainable.

    Under socialism, things are different but as there will still be corporations, you need to understand Marx to realise how and why?

  48. Chris Warren,

    It is you who has the perception problem.

    And your problem is that your Utopia requires a universally accepted philosophy of acceptance for it to work.

    The nearest situation to your model that has occurred in our part of the world (that I am aware and actually experienced) was in New Zealand during Robert Muldoon’s fortress economy and “think big” national project years, and particularly near the end when a national freeze on prices and wages was applied.

    Up to that time incomes were fairly flat across the economy and product retail markups were modest. The country had an aging fleet of vehicles that were lovingly maintained and there was a strong sense of community.

    BUT……..it was voted out,…by the people.

    Next came the Labour leftwingers….who were actually ultra right wingers, and smashed it all apart. It was the nearest thing that you might expect from a capitalist coup de tat. One of the ring leaders Richard Prebble as minister for most things was responsible for sacking more people from NZ Rail (24,000) than there were people in his electorate at the time. The people brought that on themselves by voting in David Lange and Roger Douglas. The wanted a change, and they got it. The whole argument was “is the cost of maintaining the fortress too great?”

    The point that I am making is that if you have to enslave the minds of the people in order to achieve some fancifully different economic system, then you are have failed at the outset because it is just not sustainable.

  49. @BilB

    It seems to me you are not familiar with the history of KSA and the history of old Sydney suburbs such as Pymble and Gordon.

    Pymble and Gordon are two suburbs in the north of Sydney with established residential areas going back to before Federation. At that time there was no airport in Sydney.

    In 1933, the year you claim the runway directions have been determined, there was only gravel runways. The first runway was the East-West runway, which is now hardly used at all. There was so little aviation traffic that there was a railway line crossing the runway and there is a historical event of a plane crashing with a train.

    The north-south runway was extended some time in the 1960s. The ‘third runway’ refers to the noth-south parallel runway which was opened in late 1994. Only the parallel runway operation can cope with high volume aircraft movement. You claim amounts to nothing having changed in terms of runway alignments since 1933 is a perpetuation of the myths generated to deflect public criticism of the expansion of KSA (third runway) is a planning disaster for several reasons, one of them being the deceptio of residents living far way from KSA to the north of KSA regarding aircraft noise.

    The wiki site: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sydney_Airport is not quite adequate in the description of the history of KSA but it is good enough as a reference to refut your glib statementments.

    You are wrong about me wishing to vent anger at either Albanese or Howard. The Howard government had to pick up where the Hawke-Keating (Brereton) government left off – it was quite obvious that not much could be done in the short term. Albanese has to pick up from the planning disaster – not easy either.

    There was a lengthy and detailed site selection process for a second airport in the 1980s which reported in 1985. Wilton and Badgery’s Creek were selected as the most suitable middle distance airports. The systematic process of decision making was sabotaged a few years later when the decision to not expand KSA was reversed. This is the point in time I am talking about.

    If you were to agree the operation of KSA is restricted to Herrier Jump Jets, , I would concur with you not having sympathy with aircraft noise affected residents at Mascot. Otherwise I would say you do not understand the difference between economic rationalism and rational economic analysis.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harrier_Jump_Jet

  50. @BilB

    Using schizophrenia terms such as “utopia” and “enslave the minds” does not build confidence in your argument.

    I do not understand your linkage to New Zealand as a relevant model. The regimes running capitalist governments regularly change all over the world. NZ had to smash its fortress because this was the only way NZ capitalism could survive for a few more decades.

    NZ products sold in Australia are now made in China – eg Masport lawnmowers.

    So what do you think happens when Chinese wages equal New Zealand wages?

  51. NZ is relevent because the NZ “experience”, actually being there, was the nearest thing to what you aspire to achieve in terms of community outcome.

    However, NZ went wobbly because the markets it had specialised to service since the end of WW2 with meat wool and butter had accumulated unsustainably high stock levels of all of those commodities. There were exchange rate issues which led to people feeling trapped within their economy, unable to travel and unable to sell their property and relocate. And yet they were in one of the most beautiful countries in the world.

    That is why Muldoon’s (in effect) socialist government was voted out.

    Your problem, Chris, is that you are trapped in this Marxist dogma that only you and a handful of other people could be bothered learning about, because it is totally irrelevent. There will be economic collapses in the future, but they will not lead to the formation of a socialist state as Marx envisaged. Even in Russia communism only barely got a foot hold. It wasn’t driven by mass demand, it was instigated through mass self interest by a handful of people who utilised political instability during a period of change to seize power for their ideology.

    The Marxist dream is dead, Chris. Tell your buddies BilB said so.

  52. @BilB

    You seem to be demonstrating “trapped in dogma” than anyone else.

    What socialist state did Marx envisage? He mentioned 10 points in the famous “Communist Manifesto”. Which of these are totally irrelevant?

    Or is it the case that you have no idea what you are talking about?

    Specifically what “dream” are you talking about? Where is it sourced in Marx?

    If you are going to use “socialist” to apply to both Muldoon and Marx, then you need learn the difference between national projects (to benefit capital) and socialist projects (to benefit society).

    If there is an economic collapse in the future – and this depends on whether countervailing tendencies are still viable – then the future had better be based on the analysis provided by Karl Marx because the only alternative is the thug-rule of a few.

  53. @Chris Warren

    I am telling you no knowledge of Karl Marx’s writing is required to reach the conclusion that the expansion of KSA (third runway) is a planning disaster and this happened during the period of corporatising the public sector.

    It seems to me any practical problem with economic content is seen by you as an opportunity to transform or weave it into a 1940s type of discussion. Other people read Karl Marx in historical context and may still draw some insights from his writing. But this surely is different from your style of argument.

  54. Ernestine Gross :

    I am telling you no knowledge of Karl Marx’s writing is required to reach the conclusion that the expansion of KSA (third runway) is a planning disaster and this happened during the period of corporatising the public sector.

    Correct – so why did you invoke Marx?

    It seems to me any practical problem with economic content is seen by you as an opportunity to transform or weave it into a 1940s type of discussion. Other people read Karl Marx in historical context and may still draw some insights from his writing. But this surely is different from your style of argument.

    Actually the economic content goes back to the Nineteenth Century. The historical context is the history of the form wage-labour and of surplus value.

    I know capitalists like to think they have ended history, but the old context continues even today. So if you read Marx in a historical context you are also reading Marx ion today’s context, unless you can demonstrate that wage labour and the capitalist mode of accumulation from history does not exist today.

  55. You are compleltely deluded about the reality of socialism, Chris. National socialism does not get started or survive without the “thug-rule of a few”. USSR has had a whole procession of thug rulers. In fact any artificially suppresed population (this is what your socialist society becomes) is a furtile feeding ground for psychopaths and sociopaths.

    Marx’s 10 points? WOW, you’ve got to be joking. Items 2 and most of 10 are the only points that I would subscribe to out of that denudation of individuality.

    If you subscribe to them all then you have been living in a fantasy land of false expectation.

  56. @BilB

    “The second airport will be at Badgeries Creek.” [BilB]. Is this an example of you having insider knowledge or are you trying to influence public expectations? (I understand, the Minister, Mr Albanese, had commissioned a scoping study for Wilton.)

    “We will all get used to its noise and profit from its presence.” [BilB]. Oh dear, this sounds awfully like Stalinist Communist propaganda.

    There is no evidence I know of that people get used to aircraft noise. Aircraft noise, as distinct from aircraft sound, is, by definition, unwanted sound. I am aware of a few isolated psycho-studies (eg Job), which claim that people’s responses to aircraft noise are ‘modified’ by their attitudes toward the aviation industry. A study by Gross and Sim (1997) does not support this hypothesis for areas to the north of KSA, which had litte or no aircraft sound exposure prior to the planning disaster of KSA (third runway). That is, people in areas with little aircraft sound exposure (overflights) had relatively more favourable ‘attitudes’ to the ‘aviation industry’ than people who had relatively heavy aircraft sound exposure. There may well be a few individuals ‘everywhere’ who have an ‘attitude’ toward the ‘aviation industry’. But the great majority of people seem to develop ‘an attitude’ toward the ‘aviation industry’ after they are exposed to aircraft sound in doses that interfers with their lives.

    Incidentally, the only economic (as distinct from corporate finance) analysis of the options available at the Environmental Impact Statement stage, a cost benefit analysis, reached the conclusion that the construction of the third runway at KSA is not the best. (If this economic analysis had been taken note of, then the location of the radar, which you mentioned as an illustration of the relative efficiency of decision making, would not have been a problem requiring a solution.)

    PS: One of my posts is in moderation, perhaps because of links (or a few too many spelling errors or whatever.)

  57. OK. We are talking socialism, so I had a look at the Socialist Alternative, a site that Chris Warren’s name seemed to lead me.

    On the subject of socialism and individualism, one Liam Byrne, after a very long screed on how capitalism denudes one of individuality (?), writes….

    “Human beings would labour for the replenishing of a society over which they had ownership and control. Work would gain a new meaning, and be liberated from the profit motive. Under such a state of affairs the human potential for individual expression would be limitless”

    …it would be better to have read a summary of the communist manifesto 10 point pathway to freedom from oppression.

    Can anyone else see the huge credibility gap in this thinking?

    The whole Marx thing to my thinking is little more than a cult because it hinges on the faith based notion that having been denuded of all property, the individual owns everything, in common with everyone else.

    So the sun is going down, you are tired and hungry, in Marx’s world you can only eat what is provided for you and you can only sleep where everyone else allows you to sleep. To my thinking that is owning nothing, especially hope. Where is the individual voice when everyone is talking equally at the same time?

    As all property has been confiscated for the common good no doubt the get out of jail notion here is that you continue to live where you have always lived. But what if someone else wants my luxurious place and everyone else agrees, for the common good?

  58. @BilB

    Huh? How was Gorbachev a “thug”? Didn’t Yeltsin unleash the worse capitalist thugs in the form of the Russian mafia? How is Mondragon ruled by thugs? Are you saying that it got started or survives because of “thug-rule”.

    How was the Western wars of intervention not an attempt at anti-Soviet thuggery? Are you implying that Tsarist Russia was not ruled by thugs backed by Ochrana?

    How was the basis of American capitalism – in slave-owning – not “thuggery”?

    How was the basis of Australian capitalism, based on convict labour, extermination of native peoples, plus blackbirding Pacific Islanders – not “thuggery”.

    How do you explain the wealth of nineteenth century British capitalists if not by thuggery against Indian, African and Chinese peoples?

    How was Australia’s and American efforts to erect a regime of their own liking in Vietnam – not thuggery. What else can a F111 bombing civilians represent?

    How was the massacre of Allende’s regime and supporters not “thuggery”?

    So have the populations of Indonesia, Vietnam, Chile and etc, been subject to American back thuggery or not?

    You whole capitalist economy, your whole existance, including New Zealand, was built only on the most viscous, long-running thuggery imaginable.

    If you want to object to thugs in power – why not object to the a whole range of Islamic states being set up by Saudi oil-capitalists across north Africa and Middle east.

    Marx’s first point (abolition of private property in land) specifically did not concern personal property. Enclosures were one of the earliest forms of capitalist thugs suppressing the then British population – finally shipping thousands to labour camps in Africa and Australia right through into the nineteenth century. Enclosures separated, by thuggery, the masses from their traditional property rights.

    So if you want to look at a suppressed population just look at Georgian England.

  59. Well, I guess I may as well answer Quokka’s question about how does rooftop solar reduce transmission costs. I’ll try to keep things simple. Quokka, all else equal, which do you think will have lower transmission costs? A power plant 1,000 km from where the electricity is used or a power plant 10 km from where the electricity is used?

  60. @BilB

    For Pete’s sake please provide evidence for:

    in Marx’s world you can only eat what is provided for you and you can only sleep where everyone else allows you to sleep.

    You are fabricating your own strawman.

    Marx said the exact opposite to:

    hinges on the faith based notion that having been denuded of all property,

    It is the capitalist form of property that is transformed not all property.

    What is the point of:

    But what if someone else wants my luxurious place and everyone else agrees, for the common good?

    Usually your luxurious place is resumed if needed for an airport, or freeway. This is normal and happens all the time. Only in capitalist Israel is personal property and rights to services generally denied based on race and religion.

  61. No special knowledge Ernestine, just a little bit of common sense. It is a distance thing. for every plane that takes off there will be up to 200 cars take their loved one to the airport to see them off on their adventure. Have a look at the map, the distances involved, the location of the M’s, and the location of the new Southern Sydney Freight line. Then think a little about the future probabilities on fuel prices and transport options.

    I don’t see how there was ever a doubt.

    There is a new drive in aviation to reduce fuel consumption, noise, and total travel times, by giving aircraft an unrestricted path from engine power up to exiting the airfield air space, and the reverse for landing. In other words aircraft do note start engines until they have a clear path to runway without delay.

    From Badgeries Creek most aircraft would be exiting the airspace towards Lake Burragorang and landing in a circuit over the same area providing minimal noise nuisance. The curved approach radar developed in Australia in the Badgeries creek area offers excellent scope for noise sharing. I think that it is a no brainer.

    The only thing that Wilton has to offer is no resistance.

  62. Chris,

    The communist 10 points manifesto that you forced me to read says the exact opposite of what you claim. If it comes down to interpretation then the outcome would be a dogs breakfast of applied ideologies, as is exactly what happened in Russia. Mega fail.

  63. @Chris Warren

    BilB certainly does love his strawmen …

    If there is a purpose to community, it is to meet the needs of its members. In complex societies, a division of labour is required so that these needs may be met most efficiently. If we are all ethical equals then it follows that all the burdens and benefits of labour should be settled with equity and efficiency in mind.

    Capitalism cannot do that as efficiently as can planned economy. While it may well be efficient and not inequitable for personal services and small scale distribution of consumer goods to be delivered on individual initiative, infrastructure, hevay industry, transport, communications, even light industrial ought to be the subject of plans spanning time frames from years to decades and that can attach suitable weight to the protection of the commons rather than the protection of the interests of equity holders.

    Governance must be inclusive, and that is, as we have seen, at odds with capitalism.

    This does not entail arguing that socialism will arise any time soon. Before we get anywhere near abundance we will need to have achieved inclusive governance and planned production therewith. That is foundational, IMO and we are a very long way from achieving that.

    If and when working people next perceive that capitalism has failed, it is this that we must point out — that societies based on the marginalisation of the many to serve the enrichment of the few must inevitably suffer collapse and a devaluation of their output, immiseration of small holders and workers, and that these processes are often attended by intra-communal violence and war. Only a society that holds its key assets in common trust can hope to resist the tendency of the system to self-destruct and just as importantly, lay the foundations for a dundamentally more just, rational and maintainable set of social arrangements.

  64. Chris,

    I don’t see how

    “At Mondragon, there are agreed-upon wage ratios between the worker-owners who do executive work and those who work in the field or factory and earn a minimum wage. These ratios range from 3:1 to 9:1 in different cooperatives and average 5:1. That is, the general manager of an average Mondragon cooperative earns 5 times as much as the theoretical minimum wage paid in his/her cooperative”

    …..fits your notion of equal return for the common good. The workers may “own” a share of the company for which they work, but when they leave they have nothing to take away. That means that they have no ownership at all. It fails the ownership test of being able to transport ones accruals. This is actually worse than capitalism as the “workers” cannot buy a share of the company for which they work, they only get the warm fuzzy notion of ownership while they are working. The summary that I read did not mention medical benefits or a retirement plan.

    Whereas I applaud this class of industrial organisation, I am sure that if I scan around I will be able to find plenty of family owned businesses that do as much or more for their workforce and enjoy every bit as much cooperation and loyalty.

  65. BilB, one of my earlier posts regarding KSA is still in moderation. That concerns the planning disaster of KSA (and important historical matters you have wrong).

    I don’t agree with your statement: “The only thing that Wilton has to offer is no resistance.”

    Firstly, it is not true. There is local resistance and I don’t know as yet how the planning bodies will deal with the issues raised by residents.

    Secondly, it is not true because Wilton is outside the air basin for Sydney, B.C. is inside. The western suburbs get a lot of air pollution from the rest of Sydney almost every night.

    Third, it is not true. Transport of aviation fuel is a distance and build-up environment matter, which you igore.

    It is not only the flight paths of a hypothetical B.C. ‘second airport’ that need to be considered but also the operation (flight paths) of all airports. I can assure you there is persistent resistance to the concentrated flight path at KSA and rightly so. People have been mislead at the planning stage. They have no budget feasible alternative to wearing the costs for other people’s benefits to an extent that is not considered unavoidable.

    I believe it would be more helpful if people would respond to the scoping study for Wilton, within the proper process, instead of asserting ‘common sense’.

  66. Chris,

    Reading a little further,

    I am not saying that capitalism is not awash with thuggery, I am saying that socialism, communism is dripping with it as well.

    So socialism is not a pancea for the world’s ills, it is simply a different way of organising things, and not a very palatable one as any summation of populations economies and governments will attest.

    On the other hand it is not a total failure either. As I said originally, socialism is most successful at tribal level or situation specific level.

  67. @BilB

    How?

    Some may be anachronistic as the underlying issue can be handled differently eg: the English estates were broken up by taxes not direct abolition of all rights of inheritance. Many are now owned by the National Trust.

    Workers’ Cooperatives generally own their own factories, real estate, and inventories. All their surplus is used for their common purposes if not for the public at large. However in Yugoslavia, workers enterprises – BOALS – made constributions to public services.

    The new regime in Iraq, under American tutelage, has simply confiscated the property of all emigrants and rebels. Presumably the same has occurred in Libya. Every single land title in Australia was based on confiscated lands. Is there an exception? Maybe Arnhem land and the deserts of South Australia? Israel only occupies confiscated land and forced people to emigrate.

    Centralisation of credit in the hands of the State is long overdue, but if this is a capitalist state there is little point. Although with modern technology, if savings occur within a cooperative presumably credit can be managed here as well.

    We certainly need production by the State, particularly as State produced goods and services can be sold at cost – not cost-plus.

    Equal liability to labour is more than necessary but you cannot expect capitalist enterprises to produce the necessary opportunities.

    Certainly we need a better distribution of the population into rural areas.

    What is wrong with free education, including apprenticeships in the workplace?

    If everyone has a job, free education, affordable goods and services, and are not threatened by any anti-social power of capital, there will be no structural cause of crisis.

  68. Ernestine,

    I am really not that interested in the airport siting issue sufficient to cause me to respond to the scoping study.

    On the resistance, I think that BC would have more relative to Wilton. Maybe I should have said less rather than no. Otherwise I would say that the Wilton area is a beautiful area which I would rather not have despoiled with an ill considered airfield.

    I did address the aviation fuel transport issue with the reference to southern freight rail line. Wilton could have the fuel pipe in from Woolongong, but so also can BC.

    Your most valid point is the pollution issue, and adding to that is the general air flows in the BC area. I know nothing about these items so would have to take advice of the experts.

    I don’t see an airspace clash between KSA and BC anymore than Wilton would have. But Camden would be impacted by BC. However Christchurch international airport had a club field right beside the main runway for decades. I had the spectacular experience once of land a Cessna right beside a 747 Jumbo. What a buzz. So there is not necessarily a clash there.

    The narrow flight path into KSA is an attribute of the twin runways. Aircraft need to line up more carefully when they are landing parrallel to another flight corridor. This problem could be eased with better radar on the northern approach side and installation of a HITS system which would allow aircraft to be seperated vertically (remember the staggered touchdown zones offer a higher approach for aircraft on the more eastern shorter runway). There is not a thousand feet in it but it could be enough to provide some flexibility with better control.

  69. @BilB

    Where on earth does …

    …..fits your notion of equal return for the common good.

    come from?

    You are simply making stuff up – why?

    If you work for a company and leave – you only take your clothes with you. If you live in public housing, if you leave, you do not take the house with you. If you rent from a capitalist landlord – they are not going to give you part of the house either.

    If you resign from Australia’s University Coop bookshop – you get your entry fee back, and people are happy with this.

    There is nothing within cooperatives that prevents various conditions for entry and exit. There is nothing that prevents establishing medical and retirement benefits. Cooperatives can be set up just to provide medical and retirement services.

    Who said socialism is the panacea for all the world’s ills.

    Again you consistently just make stuff up.

    Socialism is the panacea for economic crisis. It also provides opportunities for solving many social ills and for all – not just in nations at one pole of global political economy. It also does so permanently – not just a few decades while crisis tendencies build up into catastrophes.

  70. Years ago when I worked for a LendLease company after 12 months I received 100 shares in the company. A year later I received another parcel of shares. I was paid above award wages.

    Those shares which were quite valuable were very handy some years later.

    In Capitalist Australia workers receive 9% of their wage (or is it 12% now) applied towards their retirement. We get weekends off and public holidays with pay.

    Please explain the dark side of all of that.

  71. @Ronald Brak

    The cost of a 1000km maglev would be huge. I imagine it would also have a pretty serious ecological footprint with all the earthworks. Cost recovery would probably make the tickets on it considerably larger than air tickets — even assuming one fully priced in the ecological cost of both. I also imagine the land acquisitions in Melbourne and Sydney (and the tunnelling here and there) would add a lot per KM. It cost a billion dollars or so for a short conventional freight train bypass from Macarthur to Birrong. I doubt we would get it done inside 25 years. By then, we might actually have aircraft that were near carbon neutral. Indeed, it’s conceivable by then that air travel per capita may fall as we have more virtual conferencing.

    And unless you could get up to jet speed, it would still take longer than an aircraft.

    I do think we need to keep in mind the relationship between dollars spent on carbon abatement and the extent of abatement. There remain far better things on which to spend money from this pool. Separating passenger and freight rail, moving long haul freight off roads, redesigning urban areas to make mass transit more feasible, converting most motor vehicles to draw from the grid, cleaning up the grid itself, building more sustainable buildings … it’s all better than high speed maglev rail — much as I love the idea in aesthetic terms.

  72. BilB :
    Years ago when I worked for a LendLease company after 12 months I received 100 shares in the company. A year later I received another parcel of shares. I was paid above award wages.
    Those shares which were quite valuable were very handy some years later.
    In Capitalist Australia workers receive 9% of their wage (or is it 12% now) applied towards their retirement. We get weekends off and public holidays with pay.
    Please explain the dark side of all of that.

    The darkside is that a capitalist country paying 5% towards retirement, and giving less public holidays with pay, will sell the same products cheaper on the global market. Under free trade, this renders your benefit unsustainable.

    The darkside is if your retirement benefit is based on returns from international investment funds, and when these fail, you end up in penury.

    The darkside is that the retirement and working conditions Australian’s had in the past are not being passed on to future generations. New entrants into Australia’s workforce have nothing like the education and superannuation opportunities I had.

    The darkside is that provision of retirement benefits on a capitalist basis is contingent on a continually growing population.

    The darkside is that all such conditions are eliminated when a sizeable economic crisis breaks out.

    The darkside is that your conditions are not shared for all workers under capitalism – certainly not those making your clothes, books, electrical goods, and supermarket items.

  73. Chris,

    Yes you have a good point on the funds failure item. That is why I have argued for people to be more easily allowed to apply those funds to payout their family home faster, at which point they then switch to accruing more form their concluded mortgage payment amount towards the cash part of their retirement funds. That way at least if your fund turns out to be managed by Christopher Skasse you do not end up with nothing. You’ve at least got a house.

    The 5% issue does not hold up as products are rarely that finely tuned on cost for such a marginal item to be pivotal in marketing competition.

    The education issue not a starter, I think my kids are getting a better education than I had. At the end of your education it is how you use it not so much about the specific content. I don’t see an issue on the superannuation front unless you are talking about public servants.

    Economic crisis, I don’t have an opinion on that one being self employed I have not been affected. So far.

    The last point is that is a matter for the governments of those countries. Japan brought its population up to world standard. China is showing an increasing preparedness to protect the well being of its people. Still plenty of injustice, but change too.

    On the population item. Australia’s population will grow steadily for hte foreseeable future from Climate Change population displacement alone.

    On that socialism is the backstop to economic collapse, I think we covered that talking to Seth Ackeman’s socialised capital didn’t we? I recal not being at all enthralled with that idea.

  74. Ernestine,

    I think that Albanese should announce the site of the new airport right away and make that the focus of the election battle. I think that BC would draw more votes than it would cost particularly where there is a determination to reduce KSA northern approach noise.

    But somehow I don’t think that would appeal to you? Which area are you in?

  75. BilB,

    “The narrow flight path into KSA is an attribute of the twin runways.”

    Almost exactly (approach path rather than flight path). This is why I talk about the expansion of KSA by means of building ‘third runway’ (parallel to the north-south runway existing in or around 1985) as a planning disaster. More than 250 000 people north of Drummoyne have been assumed to not exist! Many of these people live at elevations up to 200 m above sea level, in areas with a background noise of 35dB(A) and they were assured they will not be aircraft noise affected. People are now waiting for this verbal assurance to happen in reality.

    Has anybody calculated the loss in labour productivity due to aircraft noise disturbances, the health effects on shift workers, etc, etc?

    Promises of easing the problem by means of control systems are not credible. The fact is that if weather conditions require landing from the north then the ‘easing’ is set off by the atmospheric conditions amplifying the sound on the ground. Furthermore, it is known by now that high volume aircraft movements require parallel runway usage.

    The ‘common sense’ solution to the planning disaster that is KSA (third runway) is to close down the third runway such that approach paths can be spread, using existing technologies or improved technologies, to conform with the assumptions in the Environmental Impact Statement. Alternatively put, the volume of traffic has to be reduced substantially such that ‘noise sharing’ is feasible.

    Sydney does not need a ‘second airport’, it needs an international airport with KSA being phased down to a domestic airport – over time – such that the curfew hours can be increased and nothing heavier than a B767 flies in or out of the place and at much lower frequencies with aircraft sound being not concentrated except over the areas ‘in the vicinity of the airport’ where residential houses have been noise insulated.

    The private initiative ‘Sydney Airport link’ is also a planning disaster. You can read up on this PPP at http://www.infrastructureaustralia.gov.au/publications/files/Review_of_Major_Infrastructure_Delivery_PWC.pdf

    Wilton is close to the existing train line to Woolongong (with a stump of a railway line toward Wilton).

    As you said, the aviation fuel could be provided from Woolongong.

    Christchurch, NZ is a pretty town (when it is not too windy). But the airport at this location cannot possibly be used as a model for Sydney; it might do for Canberra in terms of volume of air traffic. I do believe there are enough knowledgeable people in Australia to solve the problem from first principle instead of looking elsewhere.

    Has anybody calculated risk scenarios for KSA due to sea level rises?

    I suspect it is clear to you by now that, contrary to your assertion, I did not vent my frustration with the Minister, Mr Albanese, or the former Prime Minister, Mr Howard. I did object to you trivialising the difficulties these two politicians faced or face now.

  76. Very good points, Fran, except trains are faster than planes. Well, yes, okay, planes are faster than trains, but they are only faster than bullet trains in the strictly technical sense that they cover a much greater distance in a unit of time than a bullet train. But as far as the passengers are concerned, bullet trains are faster. This is because planes don’t take people to where they actually want to go. They take them to airports.

  77. @Ronald Brak

    This is because planes don’t take people to where they actually want to go. They take them to airports.

    It would make more sense to build fast train links from airports to stations then. Sydney has one — not sure about Tullamarine. Avalon only has a bus — so that’s an obvious opportunity.

  78. Fran, are we talking about the same thing? When I say airport, I mean an extra-legal, quasi-sentient, immense, bloated, civilization parasite that will stop at nothing to extract monopoly profits from those poor fools that pass through it gates. Or at least, that’s what Brisbane airport is. Adelaide airport has free wifi, so it’s not quite so bad. Anyway, airports will make use of the fact that people are pretty much stuck there and price gouge when it comes to train tickets and bus tickets and even manage to make taxis pay to come and take away their customers.

    Now of course we could actually change things so that airports actually become part of a system for making Australia a better place to travel in, but what are the chances of that happening when so many people who hold monopoly power still believe that Gordon Geko was right when he said, “Extra-legal, quasi-sentient, immense, bloated parasites on civilization is good.”

  79. @BilB
    This is what WIki says about Marx and i heard that from many Marxists:

    “It presents an analytical approach to the class struggle (historical and present) and the problems of capitalism, rather than a prediction of communism’s potential future forms.[”

    Marx barely presented how post capitalism should look like, he mostly wrote about how capitalism will unravel and slowly dissapear on its own due to inherent contradictions within it.

    Allow for another 50 years with robotization and resource limits and capitalism will dissapear on its own. If you could somehow give ideas to population that they need democracy at the workplace too that would be done in 10 years. All that would be left will be market just as it was before capitalism.

    Major malfunction in your critique of socialism comes from idea that Soviet socialism is and was the only one in the world. That is totaly wrong, please read about Yugoslavia’s socialism.
    The real problem for Soviets was that they destroyed market as free exchange, which is neccesary to keep people satisfied. Yugoslavia had prety free market after initial rationing post WWII.

    Future will be socialism with free market, workers democracy with available credit from banks managed by state. Fractional reserve banking is neccesary for developement of new, better businesses and bankruptcy of bad ones and technologies.

    I would like to write again about system of retirement, this will give you idea what a retiremet system is and how it is done in real terms.

    Imagine a world where every human have a great retirement savings, but there were no newborns for last 65 years.
    Can these old people retire and enjoy their savings? No, they can’t, there is no production and services they need to enjoy retirement.

    This shows that retirement savings is just a system of transfering products of new generations onto old. It is a support system by savings as accounting mean, just as you shared your production (real assets) to old generation by saving. Get it?

    Now imagine that the last generation spend their savings to develop robots and automatized production. Now the productions and services are operationaly free, but they do not have any savings. Can they decide to retire and declare distribution of basics to be free per needs? yes, why not it is just about organizing it that way. There is no need for savings to retire, just some accounting way to distribute as somene needs.

    This is future by robotics and socialism/ social conventions.

    We can do this without robots too, you know. Maybe with livable minimum wage and unemployment benefit, universal healthcare, free education. Ah, yes that is the way, LOL.
    Money and saving is just accounting way to get real values, not real wealth by itself. And government is there to organise best distribution possible. Is that socialism that you were talking about Bilb, or we are talking about? LOL

    Well, it is better with Job Guarantee with decent wages instead of unemployment benefits.

  80. Ernestine,

    Rather than get worked up into a lather of condemnation a little research might be a good idea. Apparently curved approaches to parallel runways are readily achieveable, and there is a good body of information on theis subject. Then someone needs to convince CASA that it is a good idea.

    Frankly, though, I feel that you are over inflating the noise problem for this area. I’ve worked in Hunters Hill for several years and I never found the passing aircraft to be particularly noticeable. John Howard himself lived in the area for years and found no reason to make an issue of the noise.

    TheChristchurch airport comment was about club fields coexisting with international airports, re Camden and Badgeries Creek. The airport link operators did themselves by not offering airport staff a concession train fare. They lost a lot of business in that one decision. KSA runway is 6 M above sea level, which should give it another 100 years.

  81. @Jordan when the Berlin wall fell, were you cheering or booing?

    Nozick pointed out that six per cent is the maximum proportion of any population who would voluntarily choose to live in a socialist community. More recently, 2.6% of the Israeli population live on a kibbutz.

  82. @Jim Rose

    Jim, statistics like that are meaningless. They depend on how the question is asked. They also depend on definitions and category simplifications. For example; “Would you like to live in a socialist country like the Former Soviet Union?” For a start this presumes that the FSU was a socialist country. By definition it was not. It was a state capitalist, one party dicatatorship.

    Australia is still a partly socialist country despite the inroads of neoliberalism. We have socialised medicine (free public hospitals and Medicare) running alongside privatised medicine. Welfare is essentially a socialist measure as are all other subsdies for the poor, elderly, infirm etcetera. Democracy itself is essentially a socialist feature. It socialises power (spreads power through society thus socialising it as a common right).

    If you are so against socialism I hope you have never voted (democracy is socialised power) and never taken government assistance or subsidy of any kind. So depending on your country of residence I hope you have never accepted;

    (a) free medical care;
    (b) a government pension, benefit or allowance;
    (c) a business subsidy;
    (d) preferential government assistance;
    (e) emergency government assistance for flood or natural disaster;
    (f) rescue or assistance from government emergency or military services or assets;
    (g) a tax write-off or tax deduction;
    (h) mortgage assistance (USA);
    (i) negative gearing offsets (Aust.);
    (j) enduring national peace obtained via govt military personnel, assets and spending.

    I hope you haven’t accepted any of these socialist benefits Jim or that would render you inconsistent at the very least.

  83. @Jim Rose

    So what are you doing to bring down the wall between USA and Mexico?

    So what are you doing to bring down the wall between Israel and Palestinians?

  84. @BilB

    I appreciate you may have feelings on the basis of which you form opinions and then reach the conclusion that others get ‘worked up about something’ and you give advice on what they should do instead.

    I’d like you to consider the possibility that on this ocasion you assumptions about reality are totally wrong. My comments regarding the planning disaster of the expansion of KSA (third runway) are based on extensive research on the economic decision making models (1994)on empirical sound measurements in various areas, carried out by qualified acoustics engineers, and one by the ASA which corroborated the findings and surveys of people’s reaction.

    Furthermore, aircraft noise (and the deception associated) is only one of the problems I have mentioned. Others are land transport problems around KSA, the PPP Airport Rail Link, the monopolistic shopping mall, the parking fines and the methodological point (cost-benefit vs corporate finance decision making).

    (If you were to research curved approach paths you might find your advice is not a solution to the planning disaster.)

    It was I who acknowledged the difficulties inherited by the former Prime Minister, John Howard, and the difficulties inherited by the present Minister, Mr Albanese.

    No fobbing off, please. The KSA planning disaster is an example of NSW Inc (and the associated corporatisation of the public sector). You may not like to hear this. But this doesn’t change the reality of the problems generated.

    .

  85. @Jim Rose
    I was about 18 at the time. I did not even notice fall of Berlin Wall. AT the time i was noticing only booze, girls, drugs and music.
    I am happy that Berlin wall fell for former communist countries besides FSU which is about on the same level of prosperity as before. Other countries are better off.
    But when Berlin Wall fell it did contribute and opened up Yugoslavia for capitalist powers to destroy it trough war. Right after the Wall fell, IMF (which is a USA pupet) conditioned further crediting only to individual republics, not to federation as a whole, which strengthened separatist movements already felt because of inaction of bureaocracy to organise developement and inovation.
    You see, Yugoslavia was the most succesfull country closest to full socialist utopia and as such it was a real threat to capitalist dogma. There is a memo by Reagan in 1984

    “Despite Belgrade’s non-alignment stance and its extensive trading relations with the European Community and the U.S., the Reagan administration targeted the Yugoslav economy in a 1984 National Security Decision Directive (NSDD 133) classified as Secret Sensitive, titled U.S. Policy towards Yugoslavia. A censored version declassified in 1990 elaborated on NSDD 54 issued in 1982 which dealt with Eastern Europe. The latter advocated “expanded efforts to promote a ‘quiet revolution’ to overthrow Communist governments and parties,” while reintegrating the countries of Eastern Europe into a market-oriented economy.[26]”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_the_Socialist_Federal_Republic_of_Yugoslavia

    Today, people are slowly realising that we got benefits of capitalism only from astounding ammount of borrowing, meny people are looking back at what it was as better and more just.
    I just lately started to learn about what it really was and how it came to be manipulated into war. IMF used tensions allready present in Yugoslavia and enforced them to cause the war.

    Milosevic Slobodan was working with support of Bush sr. and CIA educated manipulation while on the other side German Chancelor Kohl and Vatican were supporting Croatian’s Tudjman promising new credit and acceptance of new country. While at the same time when war broke out, the USA put embargo on arms deals to Yugoslav area knowing full well that Milosevic had all of Yugoslavian weapons and army while croatians had only police to defend civilians which were ethnicaly cleansed, masacred, raped, looted.
    I was watching with disbelief when embargo was anounced. They could not know. This is why i started investigating suspicions about bigger plans of world powers on YU.
    Naomi Clain’s Shock Docktrine was applied on Yugoslavia after Berlin Wall fell.

  86. @Jim Rose
    My comment is stuck in moderation. I will add some more.
    After Berlin Wall fell, it allowed for USA to implement Shock Doctrine on Yugoslavia. AFter the war, Bechtel and Enron took over a lot of rebuilding and power distribution. Probably they would have more of it if that plane with US Comerce Secretary Brown and other business executives in 1996 did not crash. You can search on Wiki by 1996 Croatia USAF CT-43 crash.

    There is no doubt in me that the war in Yu was planned by USA and capitalist powers to destroy the most succesfull Marxist implementation, and then got rich by implementing Shock Doctrine. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is a monopoly owner of telecomunications in Kosovo, former Yu region. Former US ambasador in Belgrade William Dale Montgomery is underground boss today in Belgrade and multibillionare with many businesses in Serbia.

  87. Ernestine,

    You can’t change a planning disaster after it has been implemented and 20 years further on, all you can do is move forward and fix the problems created. The fact is that the runway cannot be “shut down”. For starters it services approaches from the south regularly, and most of its departures are to the south. Add the curve approach which allows a variety of approaches which share the load and a large part of your concerns are addressed

    The land access issue is a planning mistake that goes back to the 60’s when the state government announced the establishment of a ring road to break up the hub and spoke structure of Sydneys roads. The mistake was that they did not prevent the many councils form approving frontages onto this road so it became a congested mess and failed to achieve its purpose. So it had to be done again decades in the making and that is the m2/m7/m5/Southern Cross Drive/Cahill Expressway harbour Tunnel/Bradfield Highway/Gorehill freeway, with other associated tunnels. And that now works finally. The last major missing part is the Cumberland Highway/Pennant Hills road.

    The terminal management is certainly something that should be addressed forcefully. I’m sure that you are aware that it is now impossible to pick people up from the international terminal without incurring either a parking fee or a fine. I make a point of lugging my gear around to the Customs access road and being picked up from there. I think that there would be a good case for taking the terminal management to court for their oppressive profiteering.

    The problem with the rail link goes all the way back to the removal of trams. The issue is the rail gage and the vehicle profile. The London Tube was successful largely because the tunnel profile is much smaller and requires less than a half the material to be remove for the same functional result. The building cost is far less than our standard gage suburban trains which run on the freight weighted rails. This is the fundamental stumbling block preventing Sydney from having a world standard electrified public transport system. There just is not the money to rebuild everything. So we are stuck with half a system that can never be economic. That problem is an old which goes way back.

    One of Sydney’s most disastrous planning failures, which goes back to the 30’s is the Keith Road/Rickety road/Canal road bottle neck. This road should have become an inner ring thoroughfare which joined through to Sydenham road to West St and finally onto Parramatta Road to form an outer bypass around the main rail hub at Redfern and Central. That is the road failure that someone should spend some time costing out. The cost of that roading disfunction is in the billions of dollars.

  88. The way to fixup Sydney’s public transport is to take an approach that Christchurch NZ used to eliminate power poles. The council initiated a 50 year $3 million per year programme to dispose of all of the overhead power cables. It came a little unstuck when a series of horrendous earthquakes damage a lot of this, but the principle was sound.

    What Sydney should do is commit to a $200 million dollars per year tunnelling programe for the next 30 years to bore a London Tube sized ring rail system to service all of Sydney. Contractors could tender periodically for the work on the basis of achieveable tunnel length. The amount is sufficient to encourage innovation in machinery and techniques. Rolling stock could be bought from any number of successful systems around the world initially and later improved locally. By making this a fixed amount that can be easily accommodated rather than a multi billion dollar amount for fixed projects a far more cost effective result will be achieved in a reasonable number of years, and continually extended over time.

  89. When I think about it you could get quite an effective system in place fairly quickly by inititially boring a single tunnel line with stations every 2 kilometres. Trains would pass at the stations and all progress a section at a time with every second station having a train at each platform with none alternately at the inbetween station. Later you go back and bore the second tunnel in the heavier traffic sections as required and as the system became increasingly more commercial. The trains could be designed to operate in the open as well where the power was drwn from a third rail in the tunnel and an overhead cateniary in the open linking with the expanding tram system, or not. Trains would be single or dual carriage to promote higher frequency. Station building could be linked in with above ground commercial developments and paid for by those developers who benefit from the commuter traffic flow. Ticketing is done by debit card of various kiinds thereby avoiding the need to provide ticketing sales structures.

  90. BilB,

    The way to approach the problems is to close down NSW Inc, direct all interest groups (eg Sydney Airport Corp, Tourism Lobby, … BilB) to participate in the public consultation process on equal footing with residents with the aim of strengthening representative parliamentary government and an independent public service.

    The NSW Inc approach (under a different name) no longer works, although they seem to carry on as if their ‘strategy’ is a natural law. It is not. People have learned about the PR machinery of the Incs.

  91. I find concerning the relative lack of safeness and robustness of our general infrastructure when faced with predictably regular events. A standard cyclone / rain depression event occurs down on the Australian east coast and we can’t cope. Yes, pocket regions do get unusual events eg, Bundaberg gets largest recorded flood.

    However, all residential and commercial infrastructure should be progressively moved to higher ground. Any residence or commercial site inundated should see the following events occur. Owner is offered pre-flood market price by State or Commonwealth for land and structure. If owner refuses the purchase offer, said offer lapses after 6 months. If owner accepts, structures are dismantled, sold as scrap or moved as appropriate. Land becomes part of a “flood park”. Said flood park is state land and maintained as a grassed park. The state can use the flood park for roads, cycle ways, running paths, basketball courts etc as appropriate but always with the understanding that said roads, bikeways and facilities will flood periodically, be blocked off that their true express purpose is to form flood buffers and flood reservoirs in time of flood.

    The idea of flood parks ought to enter the collective consciousness. The idea of building domestic, commercial or industrial structures on any flood park or any natural flood plain will be seen by all and sundry for the short-sighted foolishness that it is.

    The standard would be;

    (a) no building construction is ever permitted again below any known historical flood level nor within 2 extra vertical metres of the highest known flood level.

    (b) all buildings below known flood levels will be progressively bought up, obsoleted etc. and the land turned into flood parks.

    In and around small towns, flood parks may become government owned grazing land where grazing animals can be agisted.

  92. I’m, in a fanciful frame of thinking, developing a plan for a tube line in Sydney.

    It occurs to me that there is a need for a Beaches line which progresses in both directions from Bondi Junction north to Vaucluse, under the Harbour entrance to manly then arcing across towards the spit taking in mosman and terminating at North Sydney. A branch line heads north following the main commercial and residential centre finishing at Pittwater. The southern end heads south from Bondi junction swinging towards waverley , clovelly, randwick/coogee, maroubra, matraville, and phillip bay.

    This line would take on a traditional metro theme style for Australia with a new artform I’ll sugest to be Abor-nouveau which I’ll justify as the line goes from the first French settlement of La Perouse to the Aboriginal haven between Sydney Harbour and Pitwater that Captain Cook made special mention of. Abor-nouveau extracts the beauty of Australian nature, the bush as well as the coast, translated through Aboriginal eyes into art and forged into steel, glass and natural materials as features in all stations.

    This line weaves through some of Sydney’s densest population areas to link in with existing rail nodes in a circuit not possible any other way. It would provide a circumfrel route while also servicing the spoke routes to the city. Some carriages would have surfboard holders.

  93. @Ikonoclast The studies starting from Sam Peltzman showed that OECD governments grew in the 20th century in line with the growth in the size and homogeneity of the middle class that was organised and politically articulate enough to implement Director’s law.

    Once a country becomes rich because of capitalism, politicians looked for ways to redistribute and churn more of this new found wealth to the middle class.

    Government spending grew in the 20th century because of demographic shifts, more efficient taxes, more efficient spending, a shift in the political power from the taxed to the subsidized, shifts in political power among taxed groups, and shifts in political power among subsidized groups and in particular to the elderly.

    The post-1980 economic and fiscal reforms are an example of a political system converging onto more efficient modes of income redistributions demanded by the middle-of-the-road voter as deadweight losses of taxes and regulation grew.

    Improvements in the efficiency of taxes, regulation and spending reduce political pressure to suppress the growth of government and thus increased or prevented cuts to both total tax revenue and spending. Economic regulation lessened after 1980 but social regulation grew unabated. The post-1980 reforms saved the welfare state.

  94. @Jim Rose

    Once a country becomes rich because of capitalism, politicians looked for ways to redistribute and churn more of this new found wealth to the middle class.

    That would be true if capitalist controled government, because that shift hapened only by government laws which you eloquently described after this sentence. You did explain how government did that.
    Now, we know that capitalist did not ask government to do this middle class enrichement, it was unions that forced government to do this, not capitalists.

    The trouble came from resource constraint of oil, somewhat by rage of OPEC about USA support of Israel war with Arab countries so they implemented oil shortage, which would be resource constraint which caused inflation rise into destructive levels. This inflation destroyed savings and capital accumulation. Governments then realised that they have to subdue unions and reduce wages by cutting marginal taxes from 91% to 75%. This allowed for higher capital accumulation.

    Inflation caused by price of oil and its impact on price of everything did not subside untill natural gas exploration replaced some demand for oil. At the same time high interest rates were wreacking havock in unemployment which additionaly helped fall of inflation. This allowed for fast capital accumulation and power of capitalist to take over the leverage over governments. This leverage was used to cut marginal taxes further which allowed for shift of income growth onto management. Now there is a lot of capital accumulation but not enough spending from stagnating income growth of consumers to support further capital accumulation. What to do?

    There is a lot of savings but not enough consumption, what to do? Aaha, debt can replace income as a source of consumption. Thats how we got to the absolute debt ceiling. Debt was serviced by more debt and every time we hit the debt ceiling credit conditions relaxed so debt growth can continue and extra capital accumulation allowed for more credit by lowering interest rate.
    This “absolute” debt ceiling came about because creditors do not trust debtors to pay it back. If it wasn’t so, they would keep krediting debtors even more just so they can consume and provide for more capital accumulation, because they have plenty of savings for investments but they can not find creditworthy borrowers.

    Now this debt fearmongoring is used to destroy welfare state claiming that governments can not do it anymore. Did post-1980 save welfare states or is it still an open question?
    Yes, reforms post-1980 reduced welfare state and by that supposedly it received less pressure now to be reduced. But, is it less pressure now or by succes did the reformes get more wind to do more cutting is alternative scenario problem. No, That can not be argued by alternative scenario.

    I can argue by alternative scenario too: If welfare was not reduced, people would relly less on debt to fund consumption and we would not hit the debt ceiling yet. That is more logical then yours, given the reason for financial collapse in USA which you do not accept.

    Now, what facts from history will you sellect to prove your thinking?
    I am sellecting the size of the private and public debt as proof of how economies grew through consumption growth while mean income growth was left stagnating. Low interest rate as proof that there is saving glut. Banking collapse as proof that consumers can not pay back the debt and grow consumption anymore.

    What are your real world observed conditions that prove your theories?

  95. @Jordan

    Jordan

    Unfortunately you were sucked-in by by a capitalist looney. Everything that Jim Rose has posted has been fake or has been capitalist propaganda.

    Capitalist politicians do not look for ways to distribute wealth to the middle class. In fact they only distribute to their own strata of overpaid gluttons feeding on expropriated wealth and this is getting worse as time goes by. In Australia this strata has set itself up with a very cosy Remuneration Tribunal so their incomes can fly up to great heights without being constrained by the constraints they place on the rest of society.

    This is all demonstrated by the income trends over time in capitalist America. The real middle class (ie the quintile in the middle of the income distribution) gets no major benefit from a country becoming rich compared to normal folks.

    The top quintile gets it all – and keeps most of the benefit of “a country becoming rich” to itself. The top 5% of this upper strata – ie 1% of the population – gets gigantic wealth. The lower

    All this is well demonstrated at:

    http://inequality.org/income-inequality/

    The chart “Increase in after-tax by Income Group 1979-2009” says it all.

    The top strata (top quintile) increased their incomes by 95% as the “country grew richer”.

    The middle class only by 25% pretty close to the social average.

    But worse is to come. The trend is for the upper quintile, those with levers on economic, social and political policy, are only making themselves richer and richer at the cost of depriving everyone else of a fair go.

    According to the presentation in the 8 charts, it appears the rot set-in around 1979.

  96. @Chris Warren
    Nope Chris, maybe you just did not read last sentence in first paragraph. True, i suck at english writing and i appologise for that. It is that a lot of my mistakes escape proofreading (if i do it) but it becomes obvious only after my comment get posted and that is when i can see my writing mistakes.
    I apologise to all about it. I hope that my heterodox point of view makes up for that.

  97. @Chris Warren
    I get it now.
    I intentionaly used conservative/ capitalist terminology trying to reach to Jim easier and you cought that and think that i “were sucked-in by by a capitalist looney”. I can differentiate ideological terminology and when i try to reach to someone i try to use their language. That is why you felt i was not progressive liberal, of course wrongly.

    The middle class only by 25% pretty close to the social average.

    That is true in income numbers, but consumption by same class was higher thanks to debt. So debt enabled usage of real values but nominal income was flat.
    What really matter to me is what value i used, not so much nominal value i received. Altough, after such debt fuelled consumption there is a problem left in its wake: debt. I can reduce it by bankruptcy since there is no inflation or refinancing with lower interest rate to eat it up.
    SInce huge numbers of people are in debt and that would requier multy year effort to process bankruptcies, why not do general debt jubilee and problem solved we can go on to consume real values again by debt or by income growth/inflation.

    Other problem is what to do to prevent future debt ceiling: raising marginal tax rates to reduce exorbitant savings which are pushing interest rates down and reducing income growth; Job Guarantee with livable wages to repair infrastructure and get it up to the age we live in; raise minimal wage; get financial sector reduced so it doesn’t get the most educated resources for themselves which are needed for ither sectors (with best salaries from financial sector our best and brightest went there for inovation instead into real sector)

    What is observed in real world is that middle class standards were raised quite a bit and JR is right about that, but the problem is that that was achieved by debt that is unsustainable not by capitalist benevolence. Nominal Surplus (savings/ capital accumulation) have been transffered to middle class for consumption by debt, not by raising income, and now, that has stopped.

  98. I was having a think about why it seems to be cheaper to mine coal than it is to create a tunnel for a train. It’s a shame that Sydney’s 3 metre thick coal seam is at 850 metres depth, otherwise we could have some coal mogul create quite an extensive tube system under Sydney for a profit.

    http://blogs.crikey.com.au/theurbanist/2012/10/04/does-melbourne-need-a-subway/#comment-7612

    of course a lot of the cost is in lining the tunnels (three tunels to make a fully operational line) building stations and developing the control system to make it all safe.

  99. @Jordan The growth of government and the welfare state were outcomes of the democratic process. Much of the welfare state is about increased subsidies for the elderly.

    The levelling of income differences across a large part of the population preceded the growth of government in the developed world over the 20th century. The levelling led to forming of larger voting blocs with common interests

    Labor held power once only every decade or two in Oz in peacetime and not for long.

    The welfare state emerged where unions were important and where they were not. Unions are minor players these days, but the Bismarkian welfare state is just as strong.

  100. @Jim Rose
    Yes, it is strong and it is strongest welfare state in all of the world, at par with Netherland, Germany and Norway and what you can tell from it. The countries with the strongest welfare state did not get harmed by GFC. Such strong automatic economic stabilisers are saving economies. But that also says that welfare states do have higher marginal taxes to cover for it and with that incomes are growing to support growing debt.

    Here is a great but long 90 min presentation about social costs of wrong ideology and about last 40 years that i was writing about last few days. First speaker asks an important question: is society there to support GDP/economy or is economy supposed to serve and support society?

    Second speaker is talking about monetary and financial effects on the economy.

  101. @Jordan

    “is society there to support GDP/economy or is economy supposed to serve and support society?”

    GDP is no more than the aggregate monetary value of transactions carried out by the members of a society during a period of time.

    The question posed indicates to me how confused people seem to have become. Every member of a society is an element of ‘the economy’ of the society. It seems to me, out of context macro-economic talk, typical of news and current affairs programs, contributes to this confusion.

  102. @Ernestine Gross
    Think harder EG.
    Please.

    Every member of a society is an element of ‘the economy’ of the society

    Correct one is: every member of a society participates to the economy.

    What you said is like saying that every member of a society is an element of the democracy.
    You can participate in democracy or not, not be an element of it. Why agency then?

    Your first sentence describes exactly how i said it but then you switched.
    Economy/GDP is a product of a social convention developed trough thousands of years and elements of the economy serve the society as members see fit.
    Size of the GDP/ economy depends on coordination of its participants and their decisions. That coordination is enforced trough government and trough succesfull coordination they can achieve whatever they agree to. There is only resource constraints that prevent a society to achieve anything imagined, there is no organisational constraints.

    Money is a mean to achieve anything desired and without resource constraints, since governments control the money, issue it, destroy it, distribute it, government can achieve Australian economy or Zimbabve economy. It is totaly up to them depending what government wants and government is chosen by the society. There is no operational constraints only political/ coordinational.

    It all depends what governments think they need to do; to sacrifice people to get good GDP numbers or satisfy people through economic messures.

    So the question is; is economy there to serve society (socializm) or is society there to serve economy/GDP (neoliberalizm)?

  103. @Jordan see Franklin Allen and Douglas Gale’s 2007 book Understanding Financial Crises for a good read. The introduction is online.

    financial crises have been around for hundreds of years.

    In the early 1990s, Norway, Sweden and Finland experienced systemic banking crises with bank failures and negative economic growth; double digit unemployment.

    Their welfare states were reformed big time to finance the bailouts. Sweden even introduced school vouchers.

  104. @Jordan

    “Think harder” seems to be a currently popular phrase among some members of the subset of societies who pose questions about ‘the economy’ without bothering to describe their mental model of ‘the economy’.

    Given your answer, your original question makes no sense to me and I therefore opt out of further discussion.

  105. Ernestine Gross :

    Given your answer, your original question makes no sense to me and I therefore opt out of further discussion.

    Bit odd.

    It seems to me that a real question is whether:

    “is society there to support GDP/economy or is economy supposed to serve and support society?”

    Rightwing economists would say either;

    there is no society except to the extent that individuals support productivity and growth, or

    society is only to support the economy. If you do not work you receive nothing.

    This also flows into history with such claims as: the British had a right to dispossess Australian natives because the British had a superior mode of production [Blainey view].

    It also flows into politics with strong economies exploiting other economies or migrant/guest workers, for the sake of their own economy, not the interests of humanity.

    Other economists would recognise that society and quality of humanity that arises, is more important than continuing to prop-up an economic system that is destroying society by concentrating most of the benefits within an elite strata – clearly seen in the USA since around 1979.

    Due to the real conditions that exist in the Third World and in the streets of most European capitals this issue cannot be swept away dismissively by rather overly-satisfied academics.

  106. @Jim Rose

    “financial crises have been around for hundreds of years.”

    Gee, thanks for that Jim. With my extensive (for a lay person) reading of history and economics I would never have realised that. Lucky you alerted me to it.

    😉

  107. @Ernestine Gross

    In my opinion, Ernestine looks at economic matters in an unorthodox manner which doesn’t even fit the (supposed) standard orthodox-heterodox split in (capitalist) economics. Although, Ernestine would disagree with my above statement at several levels I am sure.

    The debate initially turns on what is meant by the economy. I assume it can mean;

    (a) the financial economy including all monies, credits, debts, financial instruments and non-material assets plus the national accounts and standard macroeconomic measures.

    (b) the real economy including all material elements of the economy including humans, the latter at least so far as they labour, think and manage.

    (c) the economy can also equal a and b above, always understanding that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts and can emergent phenomena can… well emerge.

    Furthermore, we can talk of political economy which equals a and b above and the whole of our institutional and social apparatus and the whole of our mental apparatus at least at the ideational level.

    At the political economy level, we can see that by definition there cannot be a split between society and economy. However, there can be splits, divides and even chasms between individual interests and between class interests.

  108. Ikonclast,

    You appear to be more in agreement with Ernestine and at odds with Jordan

    Your “the real economy including all material elements of the economy including humans” equals Ernestines “Every member of a society is an element of ‘the economy’ of the society”.

  109. @BilB

    Well, if we look at it technically, yes.

    But Jordan was making more of a rhetorical point than a technical point. He was essentially saying the economy ought to be for the people, all the people, and not just for the benefit of the rich. We have to cut Jordan some slack, I dont think English is his first language.

    Ernestine was asking for some technical rigour with terms etc. so that we are talking about the same thing at each point in the debate. Ernestine, IMO, also wants to see the output of the economy reasonably equitably distributed.

  110. Ernestine Gross
    I sincerely appologise for a derisive instruction.
    My intention was not to hurt but to provoke and knowing that you are hard thinker, I did not expect such reaction.

    Since an economy is measured in GDP, i wrote “economy/ GDP”, giving it a meaning that majority are looking at GDP as all encompasing meaning of an economy and a meassure of a success. If using GDP, humans are not an element of an economy, only labor is, labor which can be quantified as a number of productive labor so that succes can be described in GDP.

    Then in order to get a better quantification of succes of a society, GDP is then divided by all members of the society to get GDP per capita.

    This is where GDP/ economy is taken wrongly as a measure of succes on its own. Knowing that small number of people can claim large part of GDP with just a little is distributed to majority it should be understandable that GDP is not all that matters.

    Such confusion is more visible in American thinking where just recently was acnowleged that there is a huge inequality gap that is not taken into account when looking at GDP number as explanation what happend in a long term. While total GDP numbers show a strong recovery, if separated by looking at lower 90% of income then and only then can real process be seen. and it shows that mean income did not grow.

    Because of such confusion, economists concentrate only on the GDP number not taking into account how different sectors of an economy behave. You can get enormous growth of financial sector and no rise in employment, no real benefit to the economy but a benefit in a measurable number of GDP.

    This problem is visible even in MMT community which tries real hard to differentiate real vs. nominal values and bases a lot of thinking around economic inter sectorial balance.
    By using only GDP as a meassure of a succes, it gives a meaning that that is all we need to look at and bases efforts on the path of lets grow GDP no matter how.
    FED by its actions of QEx money printing is growing only financial sector which shows in stock market succes. Many economists use QEx as prove that Keynesianism of printing money and putting it into economy did not work. The truth is that money went only into the banking sector and is kept there, it did not trickle down into the real economy. QExs did raise GDP but employment is not up.

    This phylosophical problem will be coming from USA to Australia.

    So, this problem is circling around my question: is society there to serve GDP/ economy (conservative thinking) or is economy there to serve society (socialist thinking)?

  111. GDP is a good measure of success, that those countries with high per capita GDP have the best living standards is no coincidence.

  112. sdfc :
    GDP is a good measure of success, that those countries with high per capita GDP have the best living standards is no coincidence.

    Yes, but the real issue is how they get there.

  113. @sdfc
    That is true but it was achieved by union power and by fractional reserve banking, not by will of the capitalists.
    Fractional reserve banking allowed for positive selection of new technologies.
    In former socialist systems there is no fractional reserve banking, it was 100% reserve requierments. The private banking system allowed for positive destruction which did technological advance.
    Unions on the other side forced capitalists to give welfare to greatest number of people which is a socialist atribute.

    The thing is that capitalism could deliver even more wellfare with socialist tweeking of the system. So it was a mixed economy, not capitalism, that gave the greatest wellfare to the greatest number of people.

    More importantly, my intention was describing the developement of a mixed economy, not wanting to compare -isms, and the issues it is encountering in solving its problems.

  114. Jordon,

    No need to apologise. I wasn’t offended. My response was my way of saying there is something wrong on the conceptual level.

    Regarding your subsequent post, I agree with you the QE money went to the wrong people. I seem to recall the phrase: ‘the wrong people have the money’ is ascribed to Keynes but I can’t quickly reference this at present.

  115. CL
    Explain to me why a legislature that redefines marriage to permit a ‘union’ between two men (for the first time in human history) cannot also decree that a man can marry a beagle.

    MK50
    And tiresome as this argument is, CL is perfectly correct.

    No lie.

  116. The reaction from Gross and Ikonoclast got me thinking that i introduced a radical concept of an economy serving the society. I know it is not wrong concept because i grew up in it, schooled with it in mind so it must be a radical concept only between capitalist schooling and fully socialist schooling.

    What i mean by it is how society solved problems as they come up in fully socialist frame of mind. Society discovers next problem as it solves a previous, larger one. A society solving smaller and smaller problems is called progress, right?
    So, capitalist society progress on economic problems and socialist society progress on social problems. Therefore, mixed economy is the best way.

    I lived in a society that had really advanced in social progress and that came from the mindframe that economy serves the society. This society really took to the heart french parole “Egalite, Liberte, Fraternite”. It really did a lot to equalise inequalities like between man and woman, by sizeable corporations have provided food and babysiter services at the place of work and other would provide money for it if unable to. Absolutely equal pay to woman as to man.
    Inequalities between rich and poor:Corporations provided for housing financing by who needs it the most order, or building housing apartment blocks. The whole subdivisions were built by huge corporations to provide housing for workers. Employee kitchen were great, i never heard anyone complaining about the food at work, never. Corporations were solving employee’s problems since they were in ownership and democratic control of its employees.

    Yes, socialist countries did fail somewhat at economic progress, but social progress was astounding comparing it now to what i encountered in the USA. Living in Croatia in socialist time were stress free economicaly. In the US, just to ballance my checkbook took a lot of time, to decide on choices and utility of them were stressfull time.

    Let me talk about the process of transition that Croatia as a socialist society took to transform into capitalist society which is still ongoing.

    First step was to introduce Holding companies as mother corporation that will manage only the flow of money. The purpose of Holding companies were to reduce nonmonetary benefits to employees (labor costs), like food at work, housing financing, babysiting, transportation costs and more in return for slight increase in monetary benefits to employees.

    The purpose of such program was to erase from people’s mind the idea that society can solve its problems, to overturn the thinking that economy should serve the society. The transition encompasses economical and more importantly psychological state of mind.
    In Croatia today, all you can hear is complaining and complaining, from not being able to understand this process and not coping with the changes. This transition was forced upon this society even tough it was seeked by population not knowing what it really means, attracted by beautifull and hypnotic Hollywood movies and capitalist propaganda.
    Today, there was more and more of grief and contrition about where this society chose to go. Croatia is a neoliberal heaven now.

  117. Capitalism is always claimed to be a “job creator” and a “wealth creator”. It’s almost as if capitalism is a god, creating all of these things ex nihilo (out of nothing).

    I am particularly amused when I read a book about a “great man” who did things like this. “He built a new mansion by the river and cleared 600 acres for the cultivation of corn”. Oh, he did it all by himself did he? Oh no wait a minute, the carpenters and day labourers built the mansion and the slaves cleared the 600 acres and planted the corn.

  118. @sdfc

    Actually the opposite is true. If a capitalist can make a product with less labour, this is what they will do.

    But there is another aspect – if capitalists have to use a certain amount of labour – they will destroy Australian jobs and replace them with Third World offshore labour.

    And further – when capitalism goes into crisis, job growth collapses, and when recovery emerges, the quantity of jobs is less.

    Even OECD researches have exposed your claim. Free trade has not produced more jobs in the Third World, it has provided better jobs.

    Under socialism, social need creates jobs. If there is no need – ie productivity is high – jobs can be reduced through a shorter working week mechanism.

    If capitalism is forced by public opinion to create jobs, you will find that wages stagnate and/or factors shares of labour decline.

    You can see the basic pattern of post-war capitalist job creation in:

    “The OECD Jobs Study: Facts, Analysis, Strategies” (1994) isbn 9264141456

  119. why does socialism lose at the ballot box? Australia has had but one left-wing government elected since 1949.

    Democratic socialism is pointless because electoral power is fleeting: sooner or latter, the left wing parties representing the socialist alternative lose power and capitalism is resorted.

    Under pension fund socialism, with the majority of the share market etc., owned by superannuation funds, any call for wide-spread nationalisations is political suicide. The same for re-nationalisation later when the left-parties get another turn in office.

  120. @Jim Rose

    OECD capitalism, where the exploitation is exported into the Third World and there is funded general funded welfare, is in fact the best of all possible worlds.

    The problem is that eventually the Third World develops and offshore labour eventually demand the same wages and living standard as in the West.

    So anyone merely looking at conditions at one pole of global political economy are simply; fools looking through Rose coloured glasses.

  121. Not this clear, black-and-white dichotomous drivel again. Listening to Jim you would think that people haven’t been trading their labour for commodities/money for thousands of years and it was just recently that the concept was invented by the right.

  122. @sdfc

    That’s like saying under Feudalism, the overwhelming number of jobs are as peasants and serfs working for Feudal lords. It’s a truism of the system under standard conditions and standard definitions. Capitalism and the mixed economy are expressly set up to allow private enterprise to dominate our society hence it is a truism they will employ most people.

    Speaking of definitions, isn’t it interesting that family businesses which only employ family members are called private businesses. They could just as easily be called family cooperatives. It’s simply a matter of defintion. So, how many family cooperatives do we have in Australia? Is the so-called “backbone” of the economy not so much small business but family cooperatives? Interesting thought isn’t it? Every self-employed tradie seems to have a spose who answers the phone and does the office work. Sounds like a cooperative to me. Every small or extended family that runs a business within the family is a cooperative.

  123. We don’t actually live in a feudal society Ikonoclast. I don’t know what you have against the self employed but many small businesses employ non-family members. In fact every one I can think of off the top of my head that I know employs people outside of the family. Our family business employs both. From memory around 47% of the employed in this country are employed by smalll business, that’s a lot of family members.

    You might think communism is just smick but it doesn’t seem to work. Capitalist economies deliver higher living standards.

  124. @sdfc
    But if communlsm allowed for fractional reserve banking then it would be delivering higher living standards to all equally and it would not have a financial crisis as capitalist do, since in communlsm it was allowed for CB to print money as needed. CapitaIism does not allow government to print money when economy needs it desperately.

  125. sdfc :
    Chris, there is always going to be some unemployment. It’s why we have things like the dole.

    yes, but this is frictional unemployment. Capitalism creates additional unemployment.

    Capitalism also increases instability over time, so this element of unemployment ratchets up in concert with other signs of macroeconomic instability.

    Capitalist unemployment is often longer-term than normal frictional unemployment.

    Getting rid of capitalism will not necessarily abolish all unemployment but will decimate it. Without capitalism, the means will be available to abolish all unemployment if society decides this is what it wants.

    Capitalism only has low unemployment if capitalists can sell substantial quantities of products offshore, or they expect a larger population in the future when they will expect to realise their super profits.

  126. Chris,

    “Without capitalism, the means will be available to abolish all unemployment if society decides this is what it wants”

    Socialism/communism tends to resolve unemployment with artificial jobs and labour camps.

    Australian Capitalism resolves this with social welfare.

    It is purely an organisational matter. The cost to each economic system is the equal.

  127. @BilB

    There is no such thing as artificial jobs as there is plenty of social needs that can be served.

    The problem with capitalism providing welfare is that this is only provided against the wishes of capitalism and is unsustainable in the long-run.

    So we need to formulate an escape from capitalism.

  128. Well then, Chris, I suggest that you organise a citizens referendum on that very Point,

    “we need to formulate an escape from capitalism”

    It will be good to see how many down trodden victims of capitalism you are able to draw out of the shadows, and who might want to escape to Cuba. I hear the flights into Cuba are quite cheap as most of the traffic is outbound.

  129. You can always find the downtrodden victims of capitalism crawling on the refuse-tips in the Philippines, or the electronic reclamation yards in Africa, or the corpses in a burnt-out factory in Bangladesh, or the bankrauptcy courts in Sydney, or the Salvation Army depots in any capital city.

    Go to it.

    A referendum, in due course, is certainly on the cards.

  130. Ah, now I’m a happy capitalist so I won’t be signing your refferendum, even though I will applaud the effort particularly if you specifically mention the capitalistic oppression of poker machines and “sports” clubs.

    Might I suggest though that there is a huge difference between the poverty of overpopulation and capitalistic oppression.

  131. @Ikonoclast The first place I would look for insight into the face of a capitalist future is the number of votes won by anti-capitalist parties.
    • The Communist Party of Australia founded in 1971 as a socialist party rejected being a left social-democratic party and pledged to be Marxist-Leninist party. It won 6,999 votes in the Senate in NSW – 1000 less votes than the climate sceptics.

    • The UK socialist workers party got 20 more votes than the monster raving loony party in their only head to head contest in East Cardiff.

    When was the last time that a socialist was elected to an Australian parliament? Entryism into the ALP does not count.

    State and federal upper houses should be the happy hunting grounds for socialists.

    Kicking in the rotten door can be instead cruel: the Christian democrats (Fred Nile) and the Shooters party still will more seats than the socialist alternative.

    the new DLP, the Family party and no pokies all showed how easy it is for ordinary people to form a new party and win upper house seats by having a message that resonates with voters rather than founders as an old echo.

    p.s. I visit the Philippines regularly. I used to be tall. No longer now because the young people are so much better feed. The shopping malls now target the local middle class peso rather than the tourist and overseas contract worker dollar as per 15 years ago.

    My in-laws live in a level 5 province – the poorest: 10 years ago, no sealed roads or telephones. Now there is cable TV under the sealed road outside, mobile phones and wireless broadband. take-aways are now common because people can afford to eat out.

  132. Uh oh, I spoke too soon. Watching Al jazeria I see that Cuba is moving towards capitalism. This leaves just North Korea as a “pure” socialist (?) state to escape to.

  133. @Jim Rose

    Sorry Jim, wrong answer. The first place you should look at is the issue of sustainability. What humans vote for (under false consciousness I might add) is irrelevant as it is now material resource limits that will determine our future. Endless growth capitalism is an unsustainable model. Indeed, the US has now “hit the wall”. The US real economy is real goods and real services excluding the parasitic and unproductive FIRE sector – Finance, Insurance, Real Estate. This real economy is now flat. The US is going nowhere but sideways now. Soon it will be declining.

    We can also see that MENA (Middle East and North Africa) has commended the process of collapse. India and China will never complete their transition to a modern economy, at least not for their entire populations, as there are not nearly enough resources left in the world for that happen.

  134. @BilB

    Actually Marx predicted that the entire globe would become capitalist first before any transition to true communism. He’s looking correct so far. He also predicted that late stage capitalism would destroy all other values other than the money relation or “cash nexus” as it was later termed. He’s looking correct on that score too.

    What Marx didn’t fully predict AFAIK is limits to growth, at least in all its ramifications.

  135. Oh Gawd, Jim Rose getting everything wrong again.

    The Communist Party of Australia was formed in the 1920’s.

    The rest of his diatribe was probably just copy writing from NCC cheat-sheets.

    The Philippine economy is fundamentally subsidised by remittances from overseas.

    Of course, under capitalism, mall will serve the local middle class. That is a problem.

    This is the Xamas gift you get if you are try to survive under Philippine capitalism:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-20841396

    I cannot see any sealed roads or wireless broadband, nor trendy take-aways.

  136. We discuss the successes of capitalism in our defence of capitalism Chris. However you discuss the failures of capitalism in your defence of communism. Says it all really.

  137. @sdfc

    Who is this “we”?

    Could you indicate where I defended communism?

    So you defend the failures of capitalism with fabrication and word-games.

    Says it all really.

  138. Ikonoclast, “under false consciousness I might add…”! How did you lose your false consciousness?
    • All leading Marxists were bourgeois. How did their consciousness rise above a system so powerful that it determines the views of everyone else but them?

    • How is the consciousness breaking immiserisation of the Australian proletariat going? Rise up ye workers, rise up, for you have nothing to lose but your suburban home, I Pad and air-miles?

    False consciousness is an invisible hand explanation of social behaviour.

    False consciousness lacks:
    1. a filter (or selection mechanism) such as a profit and loss to channel desirable behaviour and eliminate undesirable behaviours not fitting a certain pattern; and
    2. an equilibrating mechanism such as relative prices to co-ordinate individual behaviour to guide them to adjust to local conditions and the environments of others close by so the sum of these millions of local adjustments against a background of constant small changes fit into the grand scheme.

    p.s. the reason so many people are still living on less than $2 a day is they live in India, China and various other former people’s republics in Africa and Russia. It is takes on long time to recover from great leap forwards and the permit Raj.

    See http://www.cato.org/policy-report/januaryfebruary-2013/how-china-became-capitalist for a summary of Coase’s recent book on China going capitalist from the bottom up. Still publishing at age 101!!

    p.p.s. your petition says that “An estimated 150,000 girls work in Angeles City, Philippines as prostitutes” and “300,000 women and children have died in the prostitution death camps of Angeles” in the last 20 years.

    The Wiki puts the total population of Angeles city is 326,336. It must be a ghost town now.

    NGOs sometimes forget to check the total female population of a place before estimating the number of prostitutes working there.

    p.p.p.s Phil cleary was elected in 1994 and he said he was a socialist

  139. More errors from Rose.

    You cannot compare a measure “over twenty years” with a measure of a single year.

    The people living on less than $2 a day – was in capitalist Philippines. And the reason may be better explored by looking at the capitalist corruption since the Second World War.

  140. Chris

    Your diabtribe against capitalism suggests you think the factors of production should be owned by the state. If you’re not arguing for communism then you are giving a good impression of doing so.

  141. I have never said that factors of production should be owned by the state.

    This is entirely in your imagination.

  142. @Chris Warren
    “The problem is that eventually the Third World develops and offshore labour eventually demand the same wages and living standard as in the West.”

    That’s not actually a problem. That’s the desired result – development and higher wages. China’s wages have been averaged double-digit growth for 13 years. This is what capitalism has done for China.

    The best thing is way capitalism will allow other, poorer countries to follow suit, and for richer countries to arrest their slide into a post-manufacturing economy. We’re already seeing Burma, Laos, Vietnam, Pakistan, and even Africa benefit from China’s ascent up the economic ladder. I don’t even care about the rampant industrial espionage that is helping China grow (though may limit it in the long run), because the faster they modernise, the sooner they can get a grip on their environmental crisis.

  143. The Vietnam War Memorial in Vietnam Would Be 20 to 50 Times Larger Than Ours of 4 Feb 2013 by Lieutenant Colonel (retired) William J. Astore (USAF), Global Research News, February 04, 2013.

    Imagine if we could bridge the empathy gap that separates us from the Vietnamese and our war with them and against them.

    When I was on active duty in the Air Force, I visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. I was moved to tears as I encountered the names of more than 58,000 of my fellow Americans etched in stone. What a waste, I thought, but at least they died for their country, and at least we didn’t forget their sacrifice.

    To be honest, I don’t recall thinking about the Vietnamese dead. …

  144. One for Mel.

    A while back I put up with a lot of nastiness, indeed, borderline bullying from someone who I’d probably consider myself to be, in general, reasonably politically aligned with.

    I wanted to bring this to Mel’s attention:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/feb/04/us-control-diminishing-own-world

    In particular:

    “Take the US invasion of Iraq, for example. To everyone except a dedicated ideologue, it was pretty obvious that we invaded Iraq not because of our love of democracy but because it’s maybe the second- or third-largest source of oil in the world, and is right in the middle of the major energy-producing region. You’re not supposed to say this. It’s considered a conspiracy theory.”

    Incidentally I agree with Prof Q that the US got lousy value for money with that invasion, but that was because the neocons thought they were fighting a conventional war, not an irregular one (remember ‘Mission Accomplished’?)

    Please address any further enquiries to Professor Chomsky.

  145. Dan, that’s dopey stuff. The US established a(n imperfect) democracy in Iraq. It doesn’t “control” Iraqi oil, the Iraqi government does.

    There is no reason for any country to “control” oil since it is readily available in the market place. Oil has no value outside the marketplace, so those who have it sell. Even OPEC, which sought to control the oil supply in order to maximise profits, has much influence anymore .

    There is also no reason for a banana loving country to control banana plantations, since it is far easier and cheaper to simply buy bananas.

    Australians love technological goods. In fact it is regularly said that Australians take up new technologies faster than almost any other country. Does this mean Finland- the home of Nokia- should fear an Australian invasion? Well, yes it does, in the mind of Dan and the octogenarian Noam Chomsky, but nowhere else.

    Now I must go as I’ve run out of milk. No, I will not be kidnapping a cow from a dairy farm, instead I’ll simply head to the shops.

  146. If I thought I was an act of aggression away from controlling the milk market, I’d probably think twice about that trip to the shops.

  147. poverty is falling in many developing countries. socialism made no contribution to this progress. socialism was their main barrier to riches

    Sala-I-Martin (2006) found that for 138 countries in 2000, poverty rates and poverty head counts were between one-third and one-half of what they were in 1970 There were between 250 and 500 million fewer poor in 2000 than in 1970.

    as the world embraced free market policies and rejected socialism such as in India and China, living standards rose sharply, life expectancy improved and absolute poverty declined.

  148. @Chris Warren if you cannot compare a measure “over twenty years” with a measure of a single year, let’s compare on year

    if “300,000 women and children have died in the prostitution death camps of Angeles” in the last 20 years, and the total population of Angeles city is 326,336, then 1/10 of the female population of Angeles is dying every year.

    A pinoy senater has invited the organisers of the online petition to contact the police with the locations of these camps. they must be big enough to find on google maps. (the North Korean camps are now on google maps).

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