Monday Message Board

Another Monday Message Board. Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please.

20 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. On April 1st the Productivity Commission released a paper on ‘efficient’ gas markets, some key points here
    http://www.pc.gov.au/research/completed/gas-markets
    If I read it right they say it will be good for us to pay double or triple the old gas price. It seems to me that’s good news for gas exporters not so much for laundries, bakeries, brickworks, urea manufacturers or peaking power stations. Think of two islands, one with a diminishing tree cover that trades timber with the other island in exchange for pretty shells. I think it will end in tears.

    The PC also seems to be saying obliquely ‘drill baby drill’ with the advice to gas companies to be nicer to farmers to gain access. Both expansionist free market theory and common decency in the one document.

  2. I’ll just drop this here (given that “we” are currently over-seeing the slow death of yet another refugee):

    The Government is conscious of the extraordinary nature of the measures which will be implemented by the amendment aimed at boat people. I believe it is crucial that all persons who come to Australia without prior authorisation not be released into the community… Indeed, I believe it is vital to Australia that this be prevented as far as possible. The Government is 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.

    The most important aspect of this legislation is that it provides that a court cannot interfere with the period of custody. I repeat: the most important aspect of this legislation is that it provides that a court cannot interfere with the period of custody.

    I might say, in closing, that this legislation is only intended to be an interim measure. The present proposal refers principally to a detention regime for a specific class of persons. As such it is designed to address only the pressing requirements of the current situation. However, I acknowledge that it is necessary for wider consideration to be given to such basic issues as entry, detention and removal of certain non-citizens.

    I think that this is an issue where we can work towards a bipartisan approach.

    And it has certainly been a “bipartisan” approach for the last 23 years since the ALP’s Gerry Hand spoke those words at 4:06pm on 5th May 1992.

    As I keep saying, we are ruled by a fascist ALP/LNP duopoly. The sooner Australians wake up to that the sooner we have a chance of saving this country from neo-con barbarism.

  3. @Ivor

    There is a wide range of differing views of the definition of the term. I use it in a broad way that fits one definition:

    “Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power.” – Benito Mussolini.

    I agree generally with the following sentiment:

    “The early twentieth century Italians, who invented the word fascism, also had a more descriptive term for the concept — estato corporativo: the corporatist state. Unfortunately for Americans, we have come to equate fascism with its symptoms, not with its structure. The structure of fascism is corporatism, or the corporate state. The structure of fascism is the union, marriage, merger or fusion of corporate economic power with governmental power. Failing to understand fascism, as the consolidation of corporate economic and governmental power in the hands of a few, is to completely misunderstand what fascism is.”

    I understand that a lot of people quibble about whether there is necessarily a “nationalistic” element before the term can be used. In this globalised corporatised 21st century, I think that aspect (nationalism) is not essential to the definition.

    I’m happy for other people to call it other things, but I’m going to continue to call it fascist.

  4. We are witnessing a corrosive force at work, diminishing our freedom of association, curtailing our freedom of speech, and restricting our use of our non-working time—our personal time. This corrosion is no better exemplified than by the operations of Transfield, as described in the Guardian online today.

    Where is the Freedom Commissioner on this subject? Well, his past remarks indicate he sides with the corporation over the employee, believing that the employee—simply by being paid during work hours—has forfeited their right to live freely outside of their work hours. This encroachment and subjugation of our right to live freely is happening all around us, and yet where is the moral outrage, where is the government in all this? Making it happen even faster, that seems to be the answer.

  5. more Trans-Tasman rivalry. Cricket aside, the Kiwis are making all the right plays at the moment.

    “For New Zealand to succeed longer term we do have to build our diversity of industry sectors,” Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce told The Australian in Wellington.

    He said New Zealand was “recruiting actively in Australia” and urged out-of-work researchers and scientists to consider making the move.

  6. @Megan

    I am more cautious. You can have decentralised corporate and governmental power, but still have Fascism.

    Fascism is better understood as the “thug rule of Capital”. This erupts when capitalist contradictions get so severe that capitalists resort to pure, unadulterated force to maintain their political and economic position in society. If this can be linked with religion, racism, nationalism, or any other jingoistic scare mongering – so much the better. But these are just particular tactics.

    You can get the thug rule of capital even in homogenous societies.

  7. This seems consistent with Marx’s analysis – properly understood.

    http://archive.today/7ttp3

    The entire bourgeois economic theory from Ricardo to Keynes is being trashed right before our eyes.

    And all that our IMF capitalists can do is:

    …(call) on policy makers to take action to lift potential growth rates across the world.

  8. It may be useful to view what our capitalists blame for the ongoing collapse.

    See: https://archive.today/xW6yq

    They blame;

    Debt is too high
    Interest rates are too high
    Inadequate productivity
    Inadequate consumption
    Inadequate workforce
    Inadequate investment

    All these are symptoms. And of course the only way you can feel these symptoms is if profits are too low. If continuous profits were available, none of these issues would emerge. No doubt our academics will now unleash a stream of international conferences to discuss and debate all these, without once considering the platform on which these erupt – capitalism.

    So far their solutions have been to:

    Increase debt
    Invent negative interest rates
    Run productivity crusades
    Attack workers consumption demand
    Increase unemployment
    Allow banks to with-hold QE funds instead of producing investment.

    All we need is a Mondragon

  9. Hi John

    You’ve probably seen this but I thought I should put this link to Larry Elliot in the Guardian in case you hadnt.

    http://www.theguardian.com/news/2015/apr/08/can-world-economy-survive-without-fossil-fuels

    The article is a cracker as it covers not just the issue of carbon but also sustainability more generally and the lack of solutions from both sides of politics.

    I think this is the sort of stuff/summary Iconoclast likes too and what I’d like to see more analysis of from you – the broader economics of possible futures.

  10. @Newtownian

    Nobody has presented a plan on how we actually change everything. That’s what we will have to change, absolutely everything. The power system, the transport system, the manufacturing system, the food system, the geopolitical system, the geostrategic system… everything.

    I have seen credible plans on how to change the electrical power system to fully renewable / sustainable. I have seen no plans on how to change anything else mentioned above. So, I guess we go into this next phase largely without plans and make it up as we go. It might work… I see flights of pigs high in the sky… or are they black swans?

  11. Given that our current level of global warming occurred while CO2 was over 350, it seems clear that such warming must continue until CO2 levels drop below 350 and even as low as 300 ppm.

    Unfortunately this is not possible. CO2 has a long half-life in the atmosphere – estimates vary but the IPCC says:

    About half of a CO2 pulse to the atmosphere is removed over a time scale of 30 years; a further 30% is removed within a few centuries; and the remaining 20% will typically stay in the atmosphere for many thousands of years.

    [IPCC 4th Assessment report: https://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/tssts-2-1-1.html%5D

    Also “Atmospheric lifetime of fossil-fuel carbon dioxide”, David Archer in Goggle Scholar.

    According to one source, in 1995, F. Joos and J. Sarmiento in the German Physikalische Blätter, said: “The oceanic CO2 pickup is slow in comparison to the rate of emission. So for example only half of the CO2 emitted in 1957 is dissolved in the ocean till today”.

    Further I am aware that the earths carbon sinks are becoming saturated.

    In short, all this means that it is probably too late now. the current rate of warming must continue unless we reduce CO2. We cannot expect natural processes to do this for us.

    It is a pity that the world has come to this, but you cannot contradict the science.

  12. With the recent internet movie piracy court case, and the soon to occur identification of approx 4500 people/machines who accessed/transferred at least some of the movie content, I laughed when I read about how Australia has supposedly high levels of internet piracy compared to other countries; I laughed, for this simple reason that the producers of the pirated content never intended to make it available in Australia at fair value, i.e. at a comparable value of the content at the country where it was produced. Ever tried getting hold of a specialist book, software, or movie, from an overseas company, and been told they don’t sell it in your jurisdiction? Ever seen a DVD restricted to a region other than yours? Happens all the time, Australia having a most limited choice of content. The upshot is if we were provided with that content at fair value, and in a contemporaneous manner when compared with the country of origin, I bet there would be far less piracy in Australia. Personally, I just wait for the DVD to hit the remainders bin, and if the content is electronic only and restricted, I don’t chase it down, I just let them lose the potential sale: it’s their loss, not mine.

  13. @Ivor
    Actually, it is even worse than that. While the current warming has come about due to the increase of CO2 from 350ppm to 450ppm (and an increase in methane as well, but let’s ignore that to keep the discussion simple), if we were to drop back to 350ppm tomorrow, the temperature would not decrease back to the 350ppm level we started with; this is because of hysteresis effects. As an example, snow and ice has melted as a consequence of the increase from 350ppm to 450ppm, exposing rock and water, both of which are much better at absorbing incoming solar energy than the original snow and ice. In other words, a highly reflective surface has already been replaced with a highly absorbing surface, making it impossible to return to the original conditions. Not until the CO2 is reduced below 350ppm will we return to the original temperature; in fact, it might not be possible to reverse without also getting snow and ice in places that didn’t have it at the time we started from, i.e. the original 350ppm state.

    We rolls the dice…

  14. @Donald Oats

    Yes, exactly.

    Our politicians simply do not understand exponential growth.

    When they realise that something radical needs to be done – it will be too late.

  15. Their ABC has teamed up with a TV production company and the US State Department (i.e. the CIA) to make “drama” TV which is, in the words of one of the executives, “psy-ops” and “propaganda”.

    They have done it in Afghanistan, PNG and are now doing it to “deter” refugees from seeking asylum in Australia.

    Is everyone OK with that?

  16. @Megan
    Nope. We should be comfortable with making people clear of our laws and our treatment of asylum seekers arriving by boat, but this sort of $4 million dollar project is way out of line in my book. I saw on Lateline tonight that two other doco makers had different views on it, one of them perhaps seeing it as a professional challenge. Anyway, given the (alleged) budget emergency, and the cuts to ABC’s production in SA, can we justify farming out four big ones to do this sort of propagandrama? I feel mighty queasy about our government doing anything like this, to be blunt.

    Then I heard what the PM Tony Abbott had to say about the policy of locking up kids in detention off-shore, in spite of repeated reporting of grooming of very young children, and their abuse. In the PM’s words [1:24min], it seems he sees the reports as propaganda from human rights lawyers that he won’t cave in to—that’s about the most polite, way I could frame it; the less polite way would be that he is comfortable with balancing the documented claims of repeated abuse of children in off-shore detention against the possibility of one person drowning on the way to Australia by boat. Remember there is also the recent open letter with signatures including those of specialists, psychiatrists, etc, at some personal and professional risk to themselves, once again informing the government of the documented claims of abuse of minors, and sexualised behaviour of extremely young children who are in off-shore detention.

    I don’t want to put more words into the PM’s mouth—it’s a waste of good words—but after 17 months of being aware of reports of abuse of minors (of anyone, for that matter), and of abuse of a sexual nature, surely our non-delegable duty of care for these minors means we must treat these reports on the assumption they will prove true, and remove those minors from the circumstances in which the abuse is presumed to have occurred. That won’t in any way reduce the deterrence effect of off-shore detention of asylum seekers, but it would protect children to whom we have non-delegable duty of care. I mean, can’t the PM walk and chew gum at the same time? Can’t he ensure that the children are protected *and* still maintain the deterrence effect he believes the off-shore hell-holes provide? Or is the news of this possible abuse of minors part of the deterrence value? I really have to ask that question because that is truly how it sounds to me after hearing the PM’s own words.

    What next?

  17. @Ikonoclast

    I agree, there is no fully fleshed out detailed plans to change everything you describe.

    But as a precursor there needs to be widespread recognition of the depth of the problems and identification of if you like ‘keystone species’ propping up the present mess like in this story, poor economic analysis.

    I think Larry Elliot’s piece is a great contribution to getting a debate going among more open minded economists like John and the RWE lot that because currently the left and right of politics still seem both to be clueless de facto the free market will solve all capitalists – which I think you would agree is no solution. Meanwhile the Greens still dont seem to have discovered economics at all even though in principle they support balancing and redressing ecological budgets.

    What Elliot’s piece seems to reflect I hope is an emerging broader recognition of the need to move to an ecological economics basis for running the world (not to be confused with conventional environmental economics), taking the more useful/interesting insights of the current economic paradigms and dumping their more dubious ideas like re-equilibration will solve all hiccups.

    Separately I agree there are grand strategic plan components for example in respect to energy which is pivotal. So things are hopeful e.g.

    DELUCCHI, M. A. & JACOBSON, M. Z. 2011. Providing all Global Energy with Wind, Water, and Solar Power, Part II: Reliability, System and Transmission Costs, and Policies. Energy Policy

    JACOBSON, M. Z. & DELUCCHI, M. A. 2011. Providing all Global Energy with Wind, Water, and Solar Power, Part I: Technologies, Energy Resources, Quantities and Areas of Infrastructure, and Materials. Energy Policy

    For a while I had hoped to see a coherent policy wish list being developed by the Greens. But this still hasnt happenned. Certainly they have wish lists but the coherency to underpin them still seems lacking.

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