Monday Message Board

I’m back in Australia, catching up on a few things, and getting ready to resume normal blogging in a week or so. In the meantime, another Monday Message Board. Post comments on any topic. As usual, civilised discussion and no coarse language. Lengthy side discussions to the sandpits, please.

36 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. @Sam

    Yes, the whole electricty issue (and energy issue in general) is revealing the stupendous stupidity of neoliberal politics and of corporate power wedded to big coal and big oil.

    Our Qld minister for Energy and Water Supply made the outrageously stupid and insulting statement that people who have installed solar power pay no power bills.

    “I don’t believe that was the intent of the scheme and a debate must be had about who should pay what in regard to their power bills when you consider that a large number of people pay no power bill at all.”

    A household that installed (for example) a $10,000 solar PV system and subsequently, on balance, receives no net bill for network supply and also no net return (a parity position for the example), is still paying a power bill. (And this is ignoring the separate issue of solar hot water.) They paid $10,000 up front for their power generating capacity. Amortised and/or depreciated over 30 years and allowing for some maintenance costs this amounts to about $400 per annum. If we then allow for interest and/or opportunity costs on the investment at 6% per annum (a quite modest allowance), this is another $600 for a total of $1,000 per annum.

    Thus this household is paying $250 per quarter for its electricity not even counting its hot water costs. This household is most assuredly paying a bill for its electricity. But it is paying the bill to the suppliers and installers of solar PV and in interest to its bank where it probably borrowed the money to do it. (Or it is paying a bill in lost earnings – opportu nity cost – on saved monies deployed to install the solar PV system).

    Minister McArdle’s whinge, which is essentially that “this is not supposed to happen”, amounts to a statement that corporate energy generators profits were not supposed to be affected. He is implying that consumers should not be allowed to become producers because this interferes with large scale corporate profits. It undermines the whole neoliberal world view.

    There is good evidence to show that the solar feed in tarriff of 44 c per kWh (IIRC) is less than the cost of peak dispatch power which the generators would have to otherwise generate on hot days to meet air-con demand. Thus solar power generators are actually subsidising other users in that scenario.

    The ignorance, arrogance and crass populism displayed by McArdle is par for the course for neoliberal economics and its acolytes. McArdle had better never run into me in a street or corridor as I will give him a serious and sustained piece of my mind. (However, if TV cameras or mobile phone cameras are around and obvious I will bite my tongue and McArdle will be safe. Recorded “scenes” are undignified.)

  2. @Ikonoclast Mondargon is not a workers’ co-op. It has employees. It is a partnership whose trusted employees can, in time, apply for promotion to partner.

    Building societies, credit unions and some life insurance and power companies are or were mutually owned by their customers. Many hybrid organisations exist in ranging from joint ventures and agricultural seller and supermarket buyer co-ops to labour owned firms such as in most of the professions. Rarely do we see real cooperatives with all workers and only workers having equal ownership rights.

    Originally, most kibbutzim followed strict socialist policies forbidding private property; they also required near-total equality of wages regardless of differences in productivity, and in some cases, even abandoned the specialisation of labour.

    Kibbutzim are communities whose aim is equal-sharing. They are expected to unravel because of moral hazard and adverse selection. Other organisations subject to adverse selection and moral hazard are professional partnerships, co-operatives, and labour-managed firms because they are all based on revenue sharing.

    Like monasteries and convents, kibbutzim prevent people from fleeing through the communal ownership of property. You leave with the shirt on your back.

    Kibbutzim have persisted for most of the twentieth century and are one of the largest communal movements in history; 40% still run on communist principles.

    Ran Abramitzky is writing a book The Mystery of the Kibbutz: How Socialism Succeeded See http://www.stanford.edu/~ranabr/Abramitzky_book_presentation.pdf

    He found that high-ability individuals are more likely to leave kibbutzim. The brain drain would be worse if kibbutzim didn’t make it so costly to exit. Is this a familiar theme of socialism? Kibbutzim also put prospective members through lengthy trial periods.

  3. repost of post in moderation because of two links

    Mondargon is not a workers’ co-op. It has employees. It is a partnership whose trusted employees can, in time, apply for promotion to partner.

    Building societies, credit unions and some life insurance and power companies are or were mutually owned by their customers. Many hybrid organisations exist in ranging from joint ventures and agricultural seller and supermarket buyer co-ops to labour owned firms such as in most of the professions. Rarely do we see real cooperatives with all workers and only workers having equal ownership rights.

    Originally, most kibbutzim followed strict socialist policies forbidding private property; they also required near-total equality of wages regardless of differences in productivity, and in some cases, even abandoned the specialisation of labour.

    Kibbutzim are communities whose aim is equal-sharing. They are expected to unravel because of moral hazard and adverse selection. Other organisations subject to adverse selection and moral hazard are professional partnerships, co-operatives, and labour-managed firms because they are all based on revenue sharing.

    Like monasteries and convents, kibbutzim prevent people from fleeing through the communal ownership of property. You leave with the shirt on your back.

    Kibbutzim have persisted for most of the twentieth century and are one of the largest communal movements in history; 40% still run on communist principles.

    Ran Abramitzky is writing a book The Mystery of the Kibbutz: How Socialism Succeeded See http://www.stanford.edu/~ranabr/Abramitzky_book_presentation.pdf

    He found that high-ability individuals are more likely to leave kibbutzim. The brain drain would be worse if kibbutzim didn’t make it so costly to exit. Is this a familiar theme of socialism? Kibbutzim also put prospective members through lengthy trial periods.

  4. Regarding capping maxium wages, maybe we can take Mauritius as a guide where the top earner can only earn 8x the minimum earner, this is how I have heard it anyway.

  5. Rog, a better round-up is at http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/political-science/2013/may/24/climate-sceptics-winning-science-policy by Roger Pielke Jr who argues that the basic flaw of those wanting to take action on climate change is there is a political will but not a practical way forward:

    The idea that higher priced energy can be used as a lever to transform the global energy system may work in abstract economic models, but fails spectacularly in real world politics. As Martin Wolf explains, “A necessary, albeit not sufficient condition, then, is a politically sellable vision of a prosperous low-carbon economy. That is not what people now see.”

  6. The Australian press council has just upheld that a complaint about the use of the word Ponzi scheme.

    the phrase ‘Ponzi scheme’ cannot be used to describe something unless it has ‘the essential characteristic of a Ponzi scheme, namely criminal fraudulence’.

    US social security is routinely described as a Ponzi scheme. None of these suggestions imply criminal fraud.

    If Ponzi scheme is out, many other colourful epitaphs about capitalism are next.

    It is dangerous to cast the first stone and make a complaint to press complaints bodies.

    Who will be next, and you cannot complain if it is eventually you. Vexatious complaints are easy to make.

    To quote Pastor Martin Niemoller in 1955:

    First they came for the communists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

    Then they came for me
    and there was no one left to speak out for me.

  7. Obama and the NSA are the victims of a political beat-up.

    what do you think signals intelligence agencies are doing if they are not tracking who phoned or emailed whom? spies spy on people.

    signals intelligence is a fundamental and lawful tool in fighting a war.

  8. I’ve deleted a number of posts (along with replies) which weren’t consistent with the policy of civil discussion.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s