44 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. The TPP is apparently nearly a done deal.

    More bipartisan idiocy here in Australia. A secret deal negotiated beyond any public scrutiny, not so much to do with “trade” and much to do with giving away our sovereignty, democracy and judicial functions to a secretive corporatist global elite.


  2. The TPP is really worrisome I think, particularly since we don’t know has is in it. There was an article by George Monbiot recently that discussed the Transatlantic version. I hope ours won’t be the same, but…

    “The purpose of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is to remove the regulatory differences between the US and European nations. I mentioned it a couple of weeks ago(2). But I left out the most important issue: the remarkable ability it would grant big business to sue the living daylights out of governments which try to defend their citizens. It would allow a secretive panel of corporate lawyers to overrule the will of parliament and destroy our legal protections. Yet the defenders of our sovereignty say nothing.

    The mechanism is called investor-state dispute settlement. It’s already being used in many parts of the world to kill regulations protecting people and the living planet.”


  3. Democracy is dead. The corporations are now nailing its corpse into the coffin. Welcome to the world of corporate, oligarchic dictatorship. Oh well, it won’t last long. The corporations unhindered will wreck the biosphere faster than ever. Then it’s back to the stone age for the (few) survivors.

  4. Cheer up, I’m pretty sure you can get out of trade treaties, tho I don’t know the exact process.

  5. There is an interesting article in yesterday’s Naked Capitalism about the problem of shadow finance.


    I read this with great interest as it centrally concerns the lifecycle and fate of ‘pension funds’ or as we know them Superannuation.

    For predominantly selfish reasons I’ve been trying to understand better this magic pudding and what I’ve seen looks very scary – essentially lots of quasi savings looking for a real substantive home but because of the demand for short term profits and the lack of places to actually put the loot it seems to be mostly going into dubious shares (banks and mining companies), opaque financial vehicles and the property bubble much beloved by Steve Keen. Meanwhile various managers in each stage of this take their cream (actual limited real earnings) and leave us contributors to carry the risk. Also meanwhile the few remaining substantive Australia assets are getting outsources or sold off to other pension funds overseas desperate for some security. Getting out isn’t easy either because as Thatcher said ‘There is no alternative.

    Essentially our super savings need to go somewhere and it is going into inflating asset values far beyond reality.

    Am I being paranoid or have Keating Hawkes Howard and Costello created the conditions for the mother of all crashes? Certainly all the asset growth since about 2000 appears to have flatlined when corrected for inflation and you are best to put money simply into term deposits. The Naked Capitalism article thesis is basically that there is this whale of an uncontrolled and uncontrollable shadow money system which is creating money and in effect taking control over more and more assets notionally of ours through jigging the rules.

    Maybe the knowledgeable here can comment and reassure me.

  6. On Remembrance Day, the buildup to next year’s centenary of WW1 has led to a call by the Melbourne Herald Sun (note the accidental irony of its nickname the Hun) for stories and letters from descendants of soldiers. This patriotic wallowing will no doubt be called“ history” by some. In his book debunking the Simpson’s donkey legend, military historian Graham Wilson said he had read hundreds of “next of kin” letters announcing war deaths and there was never a man who was unpopular or disliked, or suffered any pain, every one of them dying “cleanly and immediately.”

    But the “Forgotten War” as Henry Reynolds’ calls his recent book about the frontier conflict between blacks and whites since colonisation, is also named as such by many military historians, who support acknowledgement complete with official memorials and tributes. We have 4-5000 war memorials around the country, none for militant aboriginal opposition, often described at the time as guerrilla war. The confusion between property seizure and ceding of sovereignty seems part of the reason why many non-indigenous people do not see it as a war, but contemporaneous and modern legal views seem to bear out this difference, and situate it as a political conflict.

    Reynolds says the highly funded Aust War Memorial and the military carnivals paying homage to wars of 70 to 100 years ago are partisan and discriminatory because many people knew about killings and frontier violence. The historical profession wrote aborigines up as pathetic bystanders, until anthropologists like Bill Stanner in the 1968 Boyer lectures started criticising historians for ignoring their opposition to the invasion, and joining “the great Australian silence.” And still, Reconciliation Place in Canberra avoids mentioning frontier conflict; rather than “Lest we forget”, more “Let us Forget” and be “relaxed and comfortable.”

    Reynolds’ conservative estimate is of 25-30,000 aboriginal deaths and 2500-3000 settler deaths, compared to 62,000 in WW1 and 40,000 in WW2, and hundreds in each of Vietnam, Korea and the Boer War, so on the numbers as well, the status of the frontier war is major. Developing “reconciliation” in this way might change some views about indigenes as more than objects of pity and social engineering towards people who fought back, and deserve respect for their resistance.

  7. It didn’t take long for the Abbott Government’s priorities to show. Reduce the tax ‘burden’ on those best equipped to bear it and screw the poor and powerless. Two proposals in particular demonstrate this mob’s sense of justice: (1) eliminate tax incentives for low income earners to contribute to superannuation, and (2) introduce GST on rents paid by residents of mobile home parks, who are overwhelmingly pensioners.

    Why they would fan the flames of class warfare like this is hard to understand, but they just can’t seem to help themselves. Perhaps it’s because Australian conservatives love to ape their American counterparts, heedless of the huge differences between our two countries. In any event if they wanted to generate enduring hostility amongst lower income groups they have gone the right way about it.

  8. I’ve gone off the ABC, so a quick straw poll:

    “Does the ABC still introduce every political story with the phrase ‘The Opposition Says…’?”

  9. Extracts from an email just received from Philippines:

    “I have never seen devastation like this. Incredible news videos and reports coming out.”

    “There was a complete communications and power blackout in Tacloban for 24 hours, and only now are news video and photos trickling out. The city has basically been erased. I’ve seen 20 typhoons a year…, but never devastation like this. There are bodies everywhere.”

    “The airport was devastated. Many of the casualties in Tacloban came from an evacuation center that was collapsed by the storm surge. It was packed.”

    “He was in a schoolhouse that had been filled with kids. It was filled with kids’ bodies when he stumbled on it.”

    “Issue #1 is antibiotics, and the other priorities are communications, power, shelter. There is no water, no cellphone services, and even the satellite phones are running out of batteries. Bantayan, Iloilo, Caticlan, Kalibo, Aklan, Coron, Busuanga were all directly in the path. There are no communications whatsoever from those places. At all.”

  10. Greg Mankiw, author of leading economics textbooks, opposes maternity insurance in health care because “having a baby is just like choosing to buy a Porsche“.

    I might be stretching too far but I see this kind of idiocy as the result of microeconomic Representative Agent thinking that forgets that real people aren’t just rational consumers but social and biological beings with limited lifespans and large reproduction costs which must be socially met. Build an economy for rational immortal pleasure-through-consumption-maximising autonomous automatons and you will end up in Japan’s situation, where the birth rate is crashing so fast that the Japanese people are going to be extinct in about 3 generations (Saturn’s Children, anyone?).

  11. Maurice Newman blasts our “high” minimum wage as a drain on productivity, and compares our minimum wage with Canada’s $22K and 44 hour working week.

    Perhaps he ought to examine the unemployment rates as well: Canada is still at 6.9% unemployment, cf Australia at 5.7–5.8%. With all that cheap labour unutilised, what are Canadian employers doing?

    Or, we could look at Labour Productivity figures in 2013, and see (in the first two paragraphs) that Australia outranks several other large countries, including—oh—Canada.

    Perhaps we could scan for some kind of productivity measure for which Canada performs (nearly) as well as Australia, but on a five second search I hit two economic statistics that indicate Maurice Newman is speaking out of (Tony Abbott’s) hat.

  12. @kevin1

    It was Maurice Newman who chose Canada as a comparison economy to Australia, not me: that’s why I chased up some Canadian economic productivity stats from Austrade.

  13. @Julie Thomas the US is represented by senior State Department negotiator Trigg Talley. In the second week, the United States delegation will be led by Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern.

    are these more senior than who australia is sending?

  14. The direct and confronting media coverage of the Philippines disaster must strike a chord of responsiveness witih many Australians who distrust refugees, and breach the emotional brick wall against outsiders without our “rules of etiquette.” How do we open their minds for the future?

    Refugee acceptance may be premature and inappropriate at this stage, but a $10 mill. Australian govt contribution seems pathetic compared to the $1 billion contribution (by J Howard) to the tsunami of 2004. Despite issues of differential benefit, our aggregation of wealth has continued apace. What are the prospects to ramp up our contribution?

  15. @Donald Oats

    Not attributing views to you Donald, just noting Canadian econ parameters being influenced by the US neighbour, which modifies Canada as a comparator to Australia. The “global economy” is a generalised concept and, if I can make a vulgar joke here, the average person has one breast and one testicle and exists nowhere.

  16. @ZM
    @ #2 “The TPP is really worrisome I think, particularly since we don’t know has is in it. ”

    @ #5 “Cheer up, I’m pretty sure you can get out of trade treaties, tho I don’t know the exact process.”

    Can you please reconcile these two comments?

  17. Luckily we have ‘Wikileaks’ in the place where we should have government checks-and-balances, but don’t.

    I see Wikileaks have just released a draft chapter from the TPP which reveals that the ALP/LNP (in lockstep with global corporatists) are intent on selling us down the river.

    In a functioning democracy this revelation would be front-page news and the core of discussion in parliament tomorrow. But given that the ALP/LNP duopoly have both signed on, it will be ignored by their corporate propaganda arm – the establishment media.

  18. Kevin1, it is worrisome indeed, however as a sovereign commonwealth the crown ought to be able to break the treaty – there wouldn’t be binding international laws able to prevent this – that is why there is the notion of sovereign risk. Is that satisfactory?

    Wiki leaks here: https://wikileaks.org/tpp/

  19. I think the TPP is dangerous in terms of harming climate change negotiations too – b/c one of the things less developed countries want is shared/gifted access to knowledge on technologies etc, which with these laws it seems corporations could sue governments if they directed the corporations to share/gift knowledge.

  20. “IF the National Broadband Network is making money, then its speeds are probably too slow.

    That’s the argument that will be put by University of Queensland economist Professor John Quiggin at Thursday’s Colin Clark Memorial Lecture in Brisbane. (Colin Clark is considered one of the fathers of modern national accounting methods that measure growth and output in the economy.)”

    In the Courier Mail!


  21. @Jim Rose

    The latest climate conference is on in Warsaw. Did anyone important go?

    Yes. Just as tellingly, our own dissembling spiv, Australia’s Environment Minister stayed home, saving the country the embarrassment of having our rep cerrypicking wikipedia for tips on what to say.

  22. @Fran Barlow Obama sent his climate envoy. australia sent an official of similar rank.

    one third of participants did not send a minister. There are only two presidents and two PM attending.

  23. If anyone lives in Victoria, this symposium looks interesting:

    “Book Launch: Four Degrees of Global Warming

    Event date: Wednesday, 4 December 2013
    Event time: 6.00pm-8.00pm
    Event location: Carillo Gantner Theatre, Sidney Myer Asia Centre (Bldg 158), 761 Swanston Street, University of Melbourne

    In 2011, a conference in Melbourne first provided an integrated overview of the likely consequences of rapid global warming for Australia and its region. This symposium and book launch updates what we know now about the key impacts of a Four Degree World on Australia.


    Dr Malte Meinshausen, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany
    Prof David Karoly, Climate Science, University of Melbourne
    Prof Lesley Hughes, Ecology, Macquarie University
    Dr Mark Howden, Chief Research Scientist (Primary Industries), CSIRO
    Prof Emeritus Tony McMichael, Population Health, Australian National University
    Prof Robyn Eckersley, Political Science, University of Melbourne
    A/Prof Peter Christoff, Climate Policy, University of Melbourne
    To Register:

    This Symposium updates the expected consequences of this world for Australia and its region. Its contributors include many of Australia’s most eminent and internationally recognized climate scientists, climate policy makers and policy analysts. They provide an accessible, detailed, dramatic, and disturbing examination of the likely impacts of a Four Degree World on Australia’s social, economic and ecological systems.

    Peter Christoff (ed.). (2014). Four Degrees of Global Warming: Australia in a Hot World, Routledge (EarthScan).
    To purchase the book:

    This special event is brought to you by the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute, the Melbourne Energy Institute, and the Monash Sustainability Institute.”

  24. Interesting economic views expressed by Ross Garnaut:

    “This is the damning view of aid agencies responding to comments last week by Maurice Newman, the chairman of Tony Abbott’s Business Advisory Council, who lamented that Australia’s minimum wage was far higher than that of Britain, the US and Canada, a position echoed by economist Ross Garnaut in his latest book, Dog Days: Australia after the Boom, which was launched on Friday.

    Mr Garnaut would freeze the wages of the low paid but soften the blow by introducing new tax measures.

    “When we’re $US33,500 and the US itself is only $US15,080 you can see there’s an enormous disparity,” Mr Newman said.

    He also criticised the Gillard government’s commitment to Gonski education reforms and DisabilityCare. Mr Newman characterised the initiatives as good causes the economy couldn’t afford.”

  25. the artic 30 have now spent 2 months on remand.

    I wonder what they were told before going on what the risks were of detention and a prison term. were they told to expect deportation?

  26. @Jim Rose

    Well, such protestors need to be a little realistic before taking on a Chekist State. No absolutist state of super power status accepts any outside criticism or interference. The Realpolitik is that we can do nothing about Russia. That is up to the Russian people.

  27. Hmmm … Seattle looks a nicer place all of a sudden …

    Seattle Elects Socialist Candidate to City Council

    Seattle voters have elected a socialist to city council for the first time in modern history.

    Kshama Sawant’s lead continued to grow on Friday, prompting 16-year incumbent Richard Conlin to concede.


    While city council races are technically non-partisan, Sawant made sure people knew she was running as a socialist — a label that would be politically poisonous in many parts of the country.

    Sawant, a 41-year-old college economics professor, first drew attention as part of local Occupy Wall Street protests that included taking over a downtown park and a junior college campus in late 2011. She then ran for legislative office in 2012, challenging the powerful speaker of the state House, a Democrat. She was easily defeated.

    This year, though, she pushed a platform that resonated with the city. She backed efforts to raise the minimum wage to $15; called for rent control in the city where rental prices keep climbing; and supports a tax on millionaires to help fund a public transit system and other services.

    “I will reach out to the people who supported Richard Conlin, working with everyone in Seattle to fight for a minimum wage of $15 (an) hour, affordable housing, and the needs of ordinary people,” Sawant said in a statement. {…}

  28. I hope some others participated in the climate day marches today, and will in those to come. We had a good turnout locally. Additionally three local women organised a screening of the film Trashed particularly for those involved in local businesses as part of their project to greatly reduce waste in the shire.

    Question Bryce’s editorial today.

    “Internationally, stories of suffering and oppression have made their way to world conferences on human rights. In recent years, we have returned as a respected and mature international voice in human rights; a thoughtful and constructive partner to other nations. Australia’s evolving role carries a responsibility to be cautious in dictating human rights principles to our neighbours. We need to continue our collaborative work in education, health and social justice programs. It’s a quieter, more-focused kind of diplomacy that is beginning to reverse systemic human rights breaches in our region.
    I know that many Australians feel a fondness, a closeness, towards our nearest neighbours. They are working as lawyers setting up democratic and judicial structures; as doctors and nurses addressing poor child nutrition and maternal health; as soldiers in peace-keeping and reconstruction forces; and as volunteers building schools and community facilities. We must commit more of our effort to building capacity in these places, and strengthening our regional neighbourhood.
    At home, we are seeing human rights issues re-entering the domain of civic responsibility and caring. After decades of private suffering and through their own exercise of courage, compassion and resilience, Australians who as children were taken from their mothers, who were forced to give up their babies for adoption, who were sexually abused in institutional care – their stories have finally been heard. Their government has listened, and conceded their grief and immeasurable loss.
    This is progress, for sure. We are awakening to the difficult and painful lessons of our history. We are learning how to say sorry and to seek to make amends, though we must do more than simply hope that past harm is not repeated.
    Fundamentally, there is no difference in the essential nature of good leadership and citizenship exercised by individuals and nations. If we are able to see and comprehend these things at a personal level, we must trust our capacity for broader influence and change for the better”

  29. @John Quiggin,

    Misinformation on the anthropologist Napoleons Chagnon is being published on Crooked Timber through comments which are chosen to be published, and comments pointing out that he is considered controversial and often disreputable by other more responsible anthropologists are not being chosen to be published. Anyone who knows anything about Napoleon Chagnon knows this is actually a serious matter.

  30. I would like to share another reflection on the Climate Day marches. There were very few teenagers or twenty-something’s involved locally – I don’t know if this was the same t other protests.

    I thought the wording our climate our future was somewhat badly put, although I hope this is simply because people are at the stage where they’d like to burn effigies of government and bankers rather than accept the sacrifices to come if they are committed to providing a future for their children, nieces, nephews, and others’ children, nieces and nephews

    As a reason of a certain vintage, the our climate our future expression necessarily reminded me of the Sex Pistols.

    When there’s no future how can there be sin
    We’re the flowers in the dustbin
    We’re the poison in your human machine
    We’re the future your future

    God save the queen we mean it man
    There is no future in england’s dreaming

    No future for you no future for me
    No future no future for you

  31. Interesting news from CHOGM

    “Colombo, Sri Lanka: Prime Minister Tony Abbott has rejected a proposal from the 53-nation Commonwealth to establish a new fund to help poor and island countries to combat climate change.
    As an extraordinary Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting concluded in Colombo, Mr Abbott joined with Canada in rejecting a decision by the summit to push for a Green Capital Fund to help vulnerable island states and poor African countries address the effects of rising sea levels, prolonged droughts, or catastrophic weather incidents, caused by climate change.
    The proposal is for Commonwealth countries to work within the UN climate change network to build the fund for small and poor countries to access.
    But the final agreement from the 53 members of the Anglosphere Commonwealth noted that “Australia and Canada… indicated they could not support a Green Capital Fund at this time”.”

  32. @John Quiggin

    The piece on Crooked Timber on refugees also edits out comments citing the numbers of refugees permanently settled in Australia as opposed to lower numbers in Europe, and edits out comments referring to the problem as a Wicked problem – especially in regard to the difficulties of Australua not being able to take 45 million refugees all at ince, that therefore for every be taken others are rejected, that those that arrive here va smuggling tend to be ones who have the means to pay for smuggling therefore rejecting poorer refugees, and tat they are lao predominantly men, rejecting women and children.

    I think these are important points for Crooked Timber and its readers to know, rather than rejecting comments for publication that refer to them.

  33. @ZM #39

    I attended the one in Ballarat, organised by the Greens which may be why there was a reasonable sprinkling of young people some of whom made prepared and impromptu speeches, including a young man from Brisbane with the AYCC Aust Youth Climate Coalition. No visible ALP presence or speakers, although I got a notice about it from them in another seat, where I live. Although K Rudd seemed positive about the role of Getup in his video interview with Sam McLean during the election campaign, it could be that the ALP does not support it, if the Greens are front and centre.

  34. As CT has no place to comment on this sort of thing, I will write it here. I have banned myself from commenting on Chris Bertram and Belle Waring’s posts dues to biased moderation practices. I will not complain about their misinformation again here in the future either, I will simply observe the posts and threads through gritted teeth.

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