90 thoughts on “Off air

  1. @Fran Barlow

    Speaking of the illegal settlements and the relentless expansion, Pritchett made another prescient observantion about a ‘recent’ (to his tour of the region in 1926) dispute about the wailing wall area that required the intervention of the British police. The otherwise accomodating locals got shirty about what they saw as the thin edge of the wedge, not without justification in hindsight:

    “Recently, however, according to the claim of the Mohammedans, Jewish wailers have outstepped the limits assigned to them by establishing on Mohammedan territory benches upon which to rest while they lamented the departed glories of their race.

    “This dispute became so acute that eventually, to avoid rioting, the British police removed the benches of which the Mohammedans had complained. So large did the quarrel loom in the eyes of the Jews that the subject was carried to the League of Nations where after great difficulty a delicate compromise was affected.

    “The ground of the Mohammedan complaint was that the Jews were gifted with acquisitive abilities superior to their own and that if they were granted the privilege of establishing benches they would soon put a roof over these, they would then build a wall sustain the roof, and in the end claim ownership of the land thus walled in and finally that they would maintain the Mosque itself to be a mere appanage of their Wailing Wall!”

  2. @sunshine
    Crikey has recordings (paywalled) of the speeches of Andrew Bolt, Tony Abbott, Rupert Murdoch at the IPA bash, if anyone really wants to find out what was said. Apparently Mr Abbott engaged in some culture-warring about the importance of our Judeo-Christian heritage, or some such.

  3. Tony Abbotts speech is at: http://www.tonyabbott.com.au/LatestNews/Speeches/tabid/88/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/9135/Address-to-the-IPA-Dinner-Melbourne.aspx

    want to assure you that the Coalition will indeed repeal the carbon tax, abolish the Department of Climate Change, abolish the Clean Energy Fund. We will repeal Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, at least in its current form. We will abolish new health and environmental bureaucracies. We will deliver $1 billion in red tape savings every year. We will develop northern Australia. We will repeal the mining tax. We will create a one stop shop for environmental approvals. We will privatise Medibank Private. We will trim the public service and we will stop throwing good money after bad on the NBN.

    Presumably he hasn’t discussed his plans to stop spending good money on the the NBN with Malcolm Turnbull

    “We will complete the construction of the NBN we’re not going to tear it up or cancel it or do any of those things Julia Gillard says we will.

  4. @spottedquoll

    Having read that speech in entirety, and seeing the same old canards mentioned once again, and the same public policy trotted out for the umpteenth time, I am reminded of one Bertrand Russell quote which is the only thing that anyone ever needs to remember with respect to conservatism/libertarianism:

    Advocates of capitalism are very apt to appeal to the sacred principles of liberty, which are embodied in one maxim: The fortunate must not be restrained in the exercise of tyranny over the unfortunate.

  5. @spottedquoll

    Well, it’s back to the dark ages when those guys get in.

    Actually, it will be a new Dark Age as climate change and resource depletion wreak their havoc on our civilization. And just to think it would have been avoidable if we had allowed oursleves to be enlightened about these matters by the best thinkers of our time.

  6. I came across an interesting post by Poor Old Rafe at https://johnquiggin.com/2006/11/24/weekend-reflections-46/#comment-93787 explaining the day to day macinations of the ring masters of neoliberalism when meeting in NZ in 1989.

    James Buchanan and Tom Sowell played hookey to sample the local vinyards.

    many others had too much wine at lunch and the papers were long.

    The local Young Socialists picketed the meeting. I am surpised they knew of the organisation. I didn’t before the internet age. I did not know much more until a few years ago when they had enough money to start a modest web site

  7. Troubled times ahead for the national psyche I expect. We’ll get the Abbottslide in September according to pundits. Since the autumn rain is so far absent needed to plant major cereal crops we might have high food prices by Xmas. If for for some reason the ‘bad’ taxes linger on under Abbott the voters might wonder who has the honesty problem. On top of that perhaps we should have something after all about the weird climate.

  8. If what’s happening in NSW is anything to go by an Abbott led Australia really will be going back to the dark ages. Anything remotely perceived as environmental in NSW is getting serious cutbacks, the few promises made have either been broken or seriously curtailed (but one of their three environmental policies was to sling a $100k to the conservation of Tasmanian Devils, I’ll have to check up and see if they did that) and I have been told staff in the Office of Environment and Heritage have been instructed to remove reference to climate change from new reports.

  9. It’s been said the coalition doesnt have much policy . It’s un-costed , but Abotts IPA effort has policy there ,some of it just undoing things tho .Costings can be arranged as close to election day as possible . He’s been saying people should know what to expect from him by now . . Looks like Gina may get her special economic kingdom up north. Apparently she made a brief formal address at the function -maybe not on the main stage tho . I wonder if the Hillsong Church was formally represented ,or just informally via its senior Liberal party devotees .
    Looks like they will win with the ‘mandate’ to do it . Maybe another 10 years of Conservative rule , but I hope JQ is right and the Liberals will find the giong tough like Labor has . They have lots of potential ministers ( bumbling idiots -should be easy targets for a lazy media) we dont hear from at all yet .Sophie Mirabella will be entertaining. Maybe media in general has become more savage recently .They will certainly always enjoy the help of News Ltd, but old media is getting older, and the Liberals face some of the same generational problems with their base the Republicans do in the USA . The angry old white men demographic is shrinking . I think News Ltd will still manage to swing the one after next the Coalitions way too tho .
    If we are 10 years behind the USA then Abott is our George W Bush (our Obama is out there somewhere !) . The 1 vote he beat Turnbull by may look like a very big 1 vote in years to come . The Coalition has been playing the class warefare card hard recently , and the gender wars card worked like the race one always has . They seem to be going a bit Tea Party / Libertarian in their retoric in an effort to distinguish themselves from their centre right opponents (labor ).

  10. Haven’t seen this reported in the “media”. but in his speech Abbott promised to repeal section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act (the one Bolt was guilty of breaching). Nice little gift to Bolt, Murdoch and the IPA.

    Also, I just read a “CORRECTION” in the October 2012 ‘New Yorker’:

    CORRECTION: In “The Lie Factory” (September 24th), Jill Lepore referred to Roger Ailes as the president of Fox News. In fact, he holds the title chairman and C.E.O.

    Glad they fixed that up.

  11. If ‘laissez fair’ is no more de rigueur, is there such a thing as ‘sustainable’ or even ‘green’ capitalism?

  12. @Megan I am waiting for Abbott and IPA links to call for repeal of defamation laws, but not holding my breath.

    They seem oblivious to the conflict presented by their ideology, or faith, between their rights and the rights of others.

  13. @Ootz At the IPA gabfest Rupert Murdoch opined that a free market is a fair market. That would imply that the market has a moral dimension, intended or not.

  14. @Ootz

    “Sustainable” capitalism and “green” capitalism are contradictions in terms. Capitalism is not sustainable and not green. It relies on ever greater exploitation of workers and of the environment. Eventually workers will be impoverished and the natural world pillaged and destroyed (all natural capital used up).

    The rise in worker and middle class living standards in the West was achieved against trend by scientific and technological progress quite apart from capitalism per se (much research progress was statist and dirigist) and also democratic redistributions of wealth away from the laws of monopoly accumulation of capital. It was also achieved by vast colonial exploitation of the third world and the repatriation of their wealth to the first world.

    All the unsustainable processes of capitalism are nearing their conclusion.

    (1) The world economy is at the Limits to Growth. In fact, it is in overshoot.
    (2) There is relatively little unspoiled natural capital left to exploit anywhere.
    (3) The third world or large parts of it like China, India and SE Asia, have escaped colonial exploitation and can never again be subjected.

    We have used about half of the world’s endowment of fixed or stock natural capital. (Forests, coal, oil and so on.) We have destroyed many productive natural systems (e.g. the oceans) so their natural productivity is about 1/10 th of what it was.

    The thing about exponential growth is that if you have used half of your (natural) stock or capital in all history to date then you will still use the next half in one more doubling of the economy. That’s in about 25 years from now. So we could say with a good degree of confidence that all our natural capital will be gone by about 2040. Of course, things will get obviously bad way before it’s all gone. I would say by 2020 to 2025 nobody who is compos mentis will have any denialism left in them about these matters.

  15. Ikonoclast, never would have spotted you as a old fashioned red-green. on

    It was also achieved by vast colonial exploitation of the third world and the repatriation of their wealth to the first world.

    see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExWfh6sGyso for What have the Romans ever done for us

  16. It is classic that Jim offers a cartoon in defence of his views. In actuality most of the things on the Monty Python list were actually the invention of earlier civilisations and many of them, like public order, were simply not things that Roman governance provided. The one great Roman invention was the professional army.

    See The barbarians for a somewhat more balanced and empirical view.

  17. Alan, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_technology

    the Life of Brian was as much a satire on left-wing sectarian politics in the 1970s.

    What the film does do is place modern stereotypes in a historical setting, which enables it to indulge in a number of sharp digs, particularly at trade unionists and guerilla organisations

    Marx predicted the growing misery of working people would lead them to revolt.
    • Joan Robinson noted in 1942 that when the communist manifesto was published, its battle cry ‘Rise up ye workers for you have nothing to lose but your chains’ would have had some currency in 1848.
    • Alas in 1942, Robinson suggested that this battle cry would have to be amended to ‘Rise up ye workers for you have nothing to lose but your suburban home and your motor car.’

    The forces of history can be cruel to consciousness raising. Not surprisingly, communist revolutions bypassed the industrialised nations where they were predicted to happen exclusively. Because of the withering away of the proletariat, Marxism failed to predict the basic evolution of capitalism.

    Rise up ye workers, rise up, for you have nothing to lose but your suburban home, air points and Iphone

  18. @Megan When I was at ANU, I watched with much amusement how the campus Trots and other communists reacted to the fall of the Berlin Wall once they had stopped booing. Green-Left Weekly was launched.

    Some wag at admin assigning rooms to students groups booked two groups back to back in the next room to where my lecture was. The campus Christians at noon were followed by the Trots. The happy smiling Christians moved out of the room at 1pm to be followed by thick Glaswegian accents talking of agitating.

  19. @Jim Rose

    So gloating, so triumphalist.

    “Don’t speak too soon for the wheel’s still in spin,
    And there’s no tellin’ who that it’s namin’.”

    Apologies for quoting a cliche-ridden, plagiarising doggeralist but he does sum it up.

  20. @Jim Rose

    Jim, please don’t refer me to Wikipedia where I have been a mildly active editor for some years. I note that, as with so many of your links, the referenced article does not actually support your claims.

  21. Jim, you can take your batman suit off, it is save to do so now. And if you can, please explain to me how capitalism is sustainable. Thank you.

  22. Ootz, it depends on your definition of capitalism ,maybee depends on how narrowly you want to define it ? – Im not sure there is one that would be sustainable in the long run . I think a big part of the problem is that the long run seems to be normally only about 5 -10 years . I like Ikons quick overview @#18 above . For me Im not really sure how much of my outlook is evidence based and how much of it comes from my personality( disposition) . There is lots of evidence – but there are also seemingly intelligent forces everywhere telling us not to worry . Obviously though, barring some mirical scientific fix, infinite growth is a problem .

  23. over at Catallaxy Files, I have justed been accused of being a labor voter.

    I have come back here for moral support.

  24. @Jim Rose

    over at Catallaxy Files, I have justed been accused of being a labor voter.

    That’ll happen when you hang out with fools and fundies.

    I have come back here for moral support.

    Oh I regard you as entirely beyond the point where support would be helpful. You are a dogmatic reactionary. Is that what you were after?

  25. Gosh, Jim. You’ve posted twice on the same thread on the same day. You told us you were banned from doing that.

    Why you lie? Hmmm?

  26. @Ootz The Earth’s carrying capacity is a central issue in ecological economics.

    Herman Dally and others put forward the idea of birth credits as the solution to the population bomb. this idea dates back to kenneth boulding in the 1960s.

    A “choice-based, marketable, birth license plan” or “birth credits” for population control.
    • These birth credits would allow woman to have as many children as she wants as long as she buys a license for any child beyond an average allotment that would result in zero population growth. this is 1.1 birth credits for each adult. these can be sold in units of 1/10th of a credit.

    • If the allotment was determined to be one child, then the first child would be free; the market trading the credits would determine the cost of the license for each additional child.

    Being nice members of the educated middle class, the penalty proposed for having an illegal baby would be community service.

    I am sure most parents would welcome a break, some time outdoors, and the free child care. Obviously, none of the proponents of birth credits seem to know of the length to which some will go to have children.

    Dally and his followers were smug enough to think they could see the future and were most concerned about the population bomb, but plainly they got the sign of the demographic crisis wrong. Sub-replacement fertility is now the demographic crisis.

    The price of those birth credits would be now lower than a EU carbon credit.

    p.s. If you really believe what you say about sustainability, invest your retirement savings in resource sector shares and futures contracts – oil in particular – prices must be about to soar because of peak oil?!

    In the early1980s, Julian Simon had Paul Ehrlich (and John Holdren) choose five commodity metals and sign a ten-year futures contract. Simon bet that these prices would decrease while Ehrlich and co. bet they would increase. Who lost on the futures contract?

  27. Jim, how do birth credits and a thirty year old bet substantiate that capitalism is sustainable? Sorry this looks more like another one of your snipe hunting escapades I have got used to. Surely you can do better, how about a short but concise case for the affirmative?

    Re your “If you really believe what you say about sustainability, ..” I did not say anything about sustainability, I just asked a question about it. You are projecting.

  28. Because the Simon Ehrlich bet was limited to by time the bet was lost. Had time be not so short term the results would have been as Ehrlich predicted.

  29. Better to look at a commodity index over a longer time period which evens out the lumps and bumps caused by one off events. When adjusted for inflation the overall trend is down. Technology is having an enormous impact.

  30. What is unsustainability? Resources will not keep up with future demand?

    Or is unsustainability just a moving feast shifting from the population bomb to peak oil to whatever is next as environmental alarmists bob and weave as their previous predictions of woe and doom are quickly falsified?

    I discussed two specific examples – population pressures and imminent resource depletion – to show that concept of unsustainability is regularly refuted by capitalist innovation. The facts are on my side. Whatever happened to peak coal? Peak lead?

    Amending the Simon’s bet to longer periods or different time periods does not pass muster.

    Remember well that the Simon’s wager was for ten years because Ehrlich was predicting imminent food riots in America and rapid resource depletion. He was very specific on time lines. Martial law was predicted to cope with the civil disorder in the 1980s.

    The point of the wager was to put their money where their mouths were over a demographic crisis with demand outstripping the supply of food and resources in a few years time.

    Ehrlich called the Simon’s bet an “astonishing offer”. He could choose any five metals for the futures contract with a free hand over the end date as long as it was more than one year away. Ehrlich accepted the bet “before other greedy people jump in”.

    Most of all, Ehrlich predicted that India could not possibly feed two hundred million more people by 1980. He did not anticipate capitalism coming to India.

    Population growth is a benefit because there are more people to work on inventing new things and larger markets to make more inventions commercially worthwhile.

    A green portfolio should be made up of shares in green rent seeking companies and futures contracts in the resources sector. Get in now before other greedy people jump in.

    Ehrlich is still at it in 2013 at http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/human-population-growth-has-become-unsustainable-by-paul-r–ehrlich-and-anne-h–ehrlich

    But our guess is that the most serious threat to global sustainability in the next few decades will be one on which there is widespread agreement: the growing difficulty of avoiding large-scale famines….

    Can humanity avoid a starvation-driven collapse? Yes, we can – though we currently put the odds at just 10%. As dismal as that sounds, we believe that, for the benefit of future generations, it is worth struggling to make it 11%.

    The first part of his solution is bizarre:

    ‘stop increasing land for agriculture (to preserve natural ecosystem services)…’

  31. Jim Rose :
    The first part of his solution is bizarre:

    ‘stop increasing land for agriculture (to preserve natural ecosystem services)…’

    Yes bizarre… well, providing you’re not a local inhabitant of a jungle somewhere who simply just wants to live within your means, not encroach on anyone else or start wars or force your ideologies down others throats or decimate your environment and ecosystems.

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