46 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. Its worrying that the messenger ,G Triggs, has been attacked but detaining children is still bi-partisan policy .I’m sure I can remember politicians saying we had to imprison them or boat loads of unaccompanied children will arrive. Also when did detention become about preventing drownings ?I dont remember any talk of that in the beginning.

  2. @sunshine

    The beginning – of the end of the Liberal party – for me was hearing the outrageous claim by Howard that ‘those people’ would throw their children overboard. That really did show how dysfunctional their assumptions about fellow human beings are.

    They really do think that there is the ‘other’ and they are bad people and not like ‘us’. This was when the us and them thing became acceptable behaviour for the racists.

  3. @Ivor

    It is indeed how they think and it has a valid application in a sense. But let me explain before I annoy a fellow Marxian too much.

    I very much think of economics as a system conditioned discipline. The “laws” of economics, insofar as such can be derived, are system conditioned. Thus, within a capitalist system coupled with a modern monetary system of sovereign fiat currencies floated on a global foreign exchange system, you can do such things.

    If one is following Marx, one is used to referring to real capital (factories, industrial plant) money capital (cash, bank deposits) and fictitious capital (stocks and securities). Fictitious capital is so-called because (quotes from Wikipedia);

    “Fictitious capital could be defined as a capitalisation on property ownership. Such ownership is real and legally enforced, as are the profits made from it, but the capital involved is fictitious; it is “money that is thrown into circulation as capital without any material basis in commodities or productive activity”.”

    “Fictitious capital could also be defined as “tradeable paper claims to wealth”, although tangible assets may themselves under certain conditions also be vastly inflated in price.

    In terms of mainstream financial economics, fictitious capital is the net present value of future cash flows.”

    It is “fictitious” because the ownership is a legally decreed fiction (essentially) and also because the “net present value of future cash flows” is also an assumption. Such future cash flows might never be realised.

    A dotcom bubble, or any stock market bubble, beautifully exemplifies fictitious capital at the extreme. At the height of the bubble, the stock has some high face value assigned because people are willing to buy such stock at a high price on the expectations of high future earnings. Yet the dotcom company might have few real assets (running on hired servers) and some relatively dubious IP and “virtual assets”.

    At the risk of stretching the terminology but not the truth we can say that all fiat money is fictitious. To state a truism, only real assets are real. Only real products and services are real. Every notional piece of value assigned (as dollars in our system) is notional or fictional strictly speaking. All fiat money is a fiction. It’s a useful fiction, existent relative to and dependent on the decrees of a particular system (late stage capitalism now), and it can be used or abused.

    Once you are playing with fictional or notional quantities you can create and annul what you like IF you are the accredited authority with the right to perform said creation and destruction. The correct term for the monetary and financial system would be to term it a Formal System. This is as opposed to a Real System.

    Real Systems.

    1. A Real System is any system governed by the Laws discoverable by the hard sciences particularly physics, chemistry, biology and ecology.

    Every real system will obey the highest or most general Laws if science has derived these Laws accurately. The laws of thermodynamics are amongst the highest and most general Laws derived. Physical processes, chemical processes, biological processes and ecological processes all obey these Laws. In fact, every real system obeys these Laws. Therefore, the real economy as a real system obeys these Laws. However, a total economy is a hybrid system. It consists of a Formal System combined with a Real System. To be more accurate it consists of a large set of Formal Systems combined with a large set of Real Systems.

    Formal Systems.

    2. A Formal System is any well-defined system of abstract thought based on the model of mathematics or language.

    Examples: (a) The Federal constitutional-legal system of the USA is a formal system.
    (b) The current monetary system of the USA is a formal system.

    We can see that (a) above precedes (b) above in time and to a very considerable extent creates, amends and conditions (b) above. We must also note that a real society of real people precedes, creates, amends and conditions (a) above. These realities must be noted because real systems and formal systems when establishing and once established can condition each other in potentially endless cycles of feedbacks via the interface(s) of formal and real systems.

    Formal systems have rules. Rules are alterable at the level of personal agency or at the level of social agency. However, within a given system, rules must remain strictly consistent if it is a maths based model or at least functionally or broadly consistent if it is a language based model. Rule inconsistency above a system-specific tolerance level will break the formal system.

    It is here that I must refine terms. Legal “laws”, the laws of the land, the laws of the constitution and laws of legislation, must really be termed rules and not “laws” in this context. The reason is that we must reserve the word “Laws” for a more precise use. The term “Laws” must be reserved for the Laws of science that are Universal Laws like the Laws of Thermodynamics. The need for this stems from the fact that we are discussing Formal Systems and Real Systems and only real systems obey universal laws. Thus legal “laws”, for example in the US constitution and/or in the Federal legislation that creates the US dollar as legal tender and define its characteristics (e.g. fiat money) are to be termed “rules” in this discussion. They are rules because they can be and indeed are from time to time changed by humans. This is a key point. Under these precise definitions we can say that humans can change rules but humans cannot change laws (for these are the unalterable universal laws discovered by science).

    Thus as a Formal System the monetary and finance system is subject to the principles I outlined above. The rules of the Formal money system (as a mathematical-accounting system) can be changed or innovated so long as its central axioms are not violated. If its central axioms are violated it becomes undependable/unworkable in its own terms (breaks its own accounting axioms). It becomes another kind of formal system which is outside the “game space” of the current formal system.

    A central axiom set of the current system is that there are a limited number of legal ways in which a permitted agency or agencies or body or bodies can create fiat currency and/or fictitious capital ex nihilo and indeed destroy fiat currency and/or fictitous capital back into nothing. Here are the ways I can think of that are legal in our current system.

    (a) A government budget deficit creates fiat currency ex nihilo.
    (b) A government budget surplus destroys fiat currency.
    (c) A legal bank loan creates credit money (with a concomittant debt offset).
    (d) A loan repayment of part of the principle destroys credit money (and part of the debt).

    Items (a) and (b) above might use accounting methods which set up balancing debts but these strategems are not strictly necessary for creating fiat currency.

    Fiat created money and debt created money circulate in the same way in the economy and are indistinguishable while in circulation. They are both legal ways of creating money out of nothing but they both obey certain Formal System rules in their method of creation. There are limitations on their creation.

    Q.E. simply fits within the axiom set “The state can create money out of nothing (according to certain formal system rules) or can permit accredited agencies (licenced banks) to create money out of nothing (according to certain formal system rules).

    Q.E. is another way to create money out of nothing although there are arguments (too complex for me at this stage) about how much and in what way it actually creates money and how it affects the money supply.

    Summing Up

    Q.E. like all the other operations mentioned is consistent with the fictional nature of modern money in capitalism and such operations maybe would not even be limited to capitalism. It is possible and maybe even necessary to posit fiat currency operations and other operations in a modern market socialism for example.

    Q.E. is an uncoventional move of realtively recent innovation I believe and it helps banks, the rich and share prices far more than it helps the poor. Capitalism keeps amending its own rules to assist the rich.

    If we continue to proceed down the road of corporate capitalism I can imagine corporations (electronically) printing and managing currency in their own units and governments being relieved of this task. The whole world will be a company town then. Needless to say it will mean almost total oppression of all workers.

  4. @Megan
    For the record, on my ballot papers I have ranked Greens ahead of ALP more times than the obverse, and I’ve done so on three key issues: asylum seeker treatment/policy; AGW action; protection of intrinsically important environment. The Greens get a lot of bulldust thrown at them by the Murdoch MSM, and yet they are often the calmer voices of reason in committees and the like.

    We exist in a crazy world where right wing implies free market capitalism-loving, therefore everyone who has issues with (some aspects of free market) capitalism is cast as left wing (or batshit-crazy), as if there is a single dimension to politics.

  5. The Government refused to support this notice of motion today in the Senate (the ALP was nowhere to be seen, of course, since locking children refugees in inhumane indefinite detention offshore is their policy):

    Senator LAZARUS (Queensland—Leader of the Palmer United Party in the Senate) (15:35): I, and also on behalf of Senators Wang and Hanson-Young, move:

    That the Senate—

    (a) recognises that Australia has an obligation to protect the health, safety and welfare of people placed in detention by the Federal Government regardless of the location of the detention centres;

    (b) notes the jurisdictional issues involving detention centres, especially those located offshore, lead to allegations of abuse in these centres being referred to local police in relevant states or territories or in the countries in which the detention centres are located; and

    (c) calls on the Federal Government to urgently ensure that all allegations of abuse involving children in detention are referred to the Australian Federal Police and investigated on an individual basis.

    I had a bizarre twitter exchange with an ALP loving “refugee advocate” today. This person repeatedly tried to argue that supporting the ALP is not inconsistent with opposing their refugee policy.

    Apparently I can’t understand “nuanced political support”, or something along those lines.

    This person is also a proud member of “Labor For Refugees”, a group that has been around since 2001 and has maintained its support for the ALP as its refugee policies lurched further and further toward the criminal.

    “Labor For Refugees” strikes me as being an absurdity. A bit like “KKK for Racial Tolerance”.

  6. PS: And yes, Ikon, I am well aware that Clive Palmer is a fat billionaire coal baron.

    That doesn’t change the fact that he has consistently called for an end to mandatory detention of refugees – while the Wall Street-Fossil-Fuel-Loving ALP/LNP duopoly have voted together to imprison refugees and extend subsidies to the extractive industries.

  7. @Donald Oats
    Yes, one of our Nobel laureates was on RN this morning getting stuck into the government about this, followed by Minister Pyne whining about how he had to do this – destroying the village to save it, I think.

  8. @JKUU
    This reminds me that it was under Labor with Gerry Hand as Immigration Minister that mandatory detention came in. Hand subsequently became a ‘migration agent’ on leaving Parliament – a case of first clearly defining your market then servicing them.

  9. @pablo

    Not to forget Gareth Evans’ role. Peter Mares wrote an article in 2004 “Australia’s Sledgehammer”:

    There were many Cambodians aboard the Pender Bay boat and subsequent vessels and their arrival came at a sensitive time for the Labor government of Prime Minister Bob Hawke. Hawke’s high-profile foreign minister Gareth Evans was deeply involved in crafting a peace process for Cambodia, which involved the repatriation of 300,000 Cambodian refugees from camps along the Thai border. The federal government feared that confidence in the plan could be undermined if Cambodians in Australia were found to be refugees or if their personal stories were allowed to become public. Hawke was quick to declare categorically that the Cambodians were not ‘political’ but ‘economic’ refugees. He said he would not allow Cambodian asylum seekers to ‘jump the queue’ of Australia’s orderly migration program . The label ‘queue jumper’ has been used to denigrate asylum seekers arriving by boat ever since.

    While detention was initially ad hoc, it was soon developed into a formal system, and in 1991 the government opened a detention centre in disused working-men’s quarters in Port Hedland on the far north coast of Western Australia. According to Frank Brennan, the primary motivation for detaining Cambodian asylum seekers in Port Hedland was to make them inaccessible to ‘lawyers and the other community groups labelled by government as “do-gooders” so that their public description as economic migrants would stick without causing any haemorrhaging of the Evans peace plan’ .

    Other justifications for detention soon emerged, the most notable being that it would deter further arrivals. In 1992 lawyers challenged the detention of 15 Cambodian asylum seekers who had been incarcerated for more than two years. Less than 4 hours before a Federal Court judge was to hear the application the government rushed through new legislation to entrench the policy of mandatory detention more firmly in law. Immigration Minister Gerry Hand told parliament that the government was ‘determined that a clear signal be sent that migration to Australia may not be achieved by simply arriving in this country and expecting to be allowed into the community.’ …

    ALP fans’ selective amnesia on the origins of these policies may be accidental but I believe it is deliberate.

  10. Yes, it is deliberate. Younger MSM journalists possibly don’t even know this history; they should be daily driving it right back down the throat of every ALP parliamentarian and member until they abandon their traditional right wing labourite racism and come up with a humane and fair approach.

  11. @Donald Oats
    I read a similar piece in the SMH today. As a scientist I am apalled, but not surprised, at the treatment of science by this government.

    As the articles note, the damage has already begun. Talented researchers and technicians are leaving the industry and the country. Even if last minute funding is approved the damage to the reputation of Australian science has been done. I had personally considered applying for a Future Fellowship, expecting the call to go out last October as usual. Now 6 months on there is still no call and may never be one. I have lost interest and found alternative arrangements.

    As one commentator noted on the SMH article, “what has science funding got to do with the privatisation of undergraduate university education?”. This has come about because we have no minister of science, and scientists (now derogatorily reffered to as “researchers” in the MSM) are seen as unnecessary in our economy.

    As an example, for years I asked myself what is the use of the millions of dollars of funding in PV research that Australia has invested over decades, including my former lab at UNSW under Martin Green. The technology was just shipped off-shore to be manufactured under licence in China. There is not a single PV manufacturer left in Australia. Bu then I noticed that the price of PV panels was dropping rapidly and now 10% of Austrailian homes have installed PV capacity. This is a true example of the value of investing in Australian science. Even if we don’t make the stuff, we benifit globally from the science.

    Chopping down our forests to dig new coal mines so we can build bigger houses is so yesterday!

  12. @plaasmatron
    During the great purge of ’14, CSIRO made the undoubtedly tough decision of axing the entire Urrbrae (Adelaide SA) staff from the division formerly known as CMIS (CSIRO Mathematics, Infomatics, and Statistics—note the three STEM fields that made up the division’s name), thus ending an enduring practice which began in 1944, uninterrupted until 2014. Farewell, 70 years of history making science (or, science making history). The office ran through a whole host of acronyms, among them: DMS, Biometrics, CMIS, CCI,–% snip %–

    While change is the one constant of life, it seems so oddball that a capital city of a state—indeed, an entire state—of Australia should have no scientific research office/representation of the CSIRO Division for Statistics, Mathematics, and digital technologies, at its national research institute. I hope we see this decision reversed down the track, but that would require some major changes to occur elsewhere first…

  13. @Donald Oats
    I have noticed over the years that successive governments seem intent on killing off the CSIRO and transfering the research dollars to the universities. This raises the research rankings of the university and allows them to charge more for fee paying students, even though most research profs are absolved of their teaching responsibilities and the students are actually taught by under-qualified grad students and specialist educators.

    Now Pyne has taken it to a new level. He has essentially said, privitise the universities and we will fund the research there (strange since they are now private and should fund their own research), or we will kill off the research at the universities too. If the research is killed off, the scientists will either leave the country or go into the private sector. In the first instance the government saves paying the salaries, in the second the private companies get highly qualified technicians at bargain basement rates.

    I don’t know how much off this Pyne and Mr Rabid have actually thought through, but they have overlooked the fact that there are no private companies left to employ skilled technicians. They all left during the mining boom.

  14. @plaasmatron
    And then along comes this article, quoting Simon McKeon on a “one term rule” that seems to be in play for ALP appointed board members, eg CSIRO, but elsewhere too. I didn’t know it was sufficiently widespread for board members around the traps to register it, but once again this government has phlegmed me. I am not surprised; disappointed, very.

    Successive governments have shown limited engagement with CSIRO in terms of retaining staff numbers; I think the high point was 1994/1995, and it has slowly declined since; well, until falling off the precipice in the great purge of ’14 😦

    Seriously though, there has been a fairly steady downwards trajectory for staff numbers, which does highlight the question as to what end we would reduce scientific research staff numbers—it isn’t like we can purchase a robot off the shelf to go start a research project into X or Y; that requires individual people who can think things through, as well as supporting staff. Now, if CSIRO had its own footy team, they’d be flush with funds.

  15. I stumbled upon a site called “Newslo.com” which bills itself as :

    the first-ever hybrid news/satire platform on the web.

    That description looks dodgy at first (e.g. the Onion, and many many others, have been doing satirical takes on “news” for ages). But when you look at it you realise that they really do mean a hybrid of news and satire. To the extent that they are deliberately presented as being indistinguishable.

    The “unique” feature of the site is:

    .. a proprietary “fact button” that highlights the underlying truth within each satirical piece with a click of the mouse.

    So you will get a headline that is a lie, but based on a kernel of truth, followed by a story that contains some facts but is distorted with fabrications to become the “shock, outrage, fury” story promised by the headline.

    If you click the “fact button” the factually correct bits will be highlighted – and the fabricated bits won’t be.

    The Murdoch empire is based on that model (except of course without the “fact button”).

  16. This sounds familiar:


    DEP officials have been ordered not to use the term “climate change” or “global warming” in any official communications, emails, or reports, according to former DEP employees, consultants, volunteers and records obtained by the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting.

    The policy goes beyond semantics and has affected reports, educational efforts and public policy in a department that has about 3,200 employees and $1.4 billion budget.

    “We were told not to use the terms ‘climate change,’ ‘global warming’ or ‘sustainability,’ ” said Christopher Byrd, an attorney with the DEP’s Office of General Counsel in Tallahassee from 2008 to 2013. “That message was communicated to me and my colleagues by our superiors in the Office of General Counsel.”

    Kristina Trotta, another former DEP employee who worked in Miami, said her supervisor told her not to use the terms “climate change” and “global warming” in a 2014 staff meeting.

    “We were told that we were not allowed to discuss anything that was not a true fact,” she said.

    This unwritten policy went into effect after Gov. Rick Scott took office in 2011 and appointed Herschel Vinyard Jr. as the DEP’s director, according to former DEP employees. Gov. Scott, who won a second term in November, has repeatedly said he is not convinced that climate change is caused by human activity, despite scientific evidence to the contrary.

    All over the Empire the ‘Faith-Based Community’ is bumping up against reality and despite their domination of the lying media establishment, it isn’t working out for them.

    In Australia we really need a strictly non-ALP/LNP “Australian Centre For Investigative Reporting”.

  17. I think Australia should be open to almost unlimited immigration. The only restrictions that I would like to see Australia have on immigration are as follows:-

    1. We should not let individuals into the country if they are a clear threat. eg convicted violent criminals, suspected terrorists.
    2. We should not let individuals into the country if they present a serious health threat to the general community.
    3. Immigrants should make an upfront contribution towards public infrastructure. By my calculation the correct figure is about $25k. We should waiver the fee for a given number of humanitarian cases each year. And for nationals from selected countries (eg New Zealand) where bilateral immigration agreements dictate.
    4. Citizenship should not be granted easily to immigrants. Specifically the waiting period between becoming resident and becoming a citizen should be much longer. Ten years or more.
    5. Except for immigrants coming under humanitarian programs welfare payments (eg pensions, unemployment benefits) should not be available until they become citizens.

    Interested to know what restrictions, if any, other people here think that Australia should place on immigration numbers. Especially keen to hear from those that favour completely open immigration.

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