100 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. With government policies to induce older people to work longer and encourage parents to do more paid work, one would think we faced a labour shortage. However, we do not. We face a job shortage. Why is there this absurd disconnect between government policy to encourage more people to seek work and the reality that there are not enough jobs?

  2. Come on Ikonoclast. You know. Its the logic of neoliberal rule. So: We need an army of unemployed and underemployed. They are necessary to discipline the workforce, and keep inflation down. Mind you, all the unemployed are lazy sponging bastards who could get a job it they wanted.

  3. The disconnect represents a contradiction of capitalist accumulation in its dying stages.

    When capitalism is young (colonial era) or is being refreshed after catastrophe (WW I and II) then accumulation of capital is relatively low, and practically any job, or level of skilled labour can produce enough surplus to provide a return on the amount of Capital in existance.

    However when Capital accumulates it needs to extract more surplus to maintain its usual profit rates.

    So, when a large pile of Capital accumulates, only some jobs will have the necessary productivity, and only some workers will have the necessary skills or labour power, and then for only a shorter period in the adult years.

    So we end up with mountains of Capital, but fewer jobs, frantic efforts for most to get ahead through education, and an expanding underclass, ejected from capitalism, that SBS can use to make entertaining programs for the chattering classes to amuse themselves over.

    This is simply pure, orthodox, Marxism.

  4. There is a rumour that is hopefully sweeping UWA, largely because I’m propagating it.

    Its that the UWA VC’s decision to axe the Lomborg consensus centre was caused by UWA’s only Nobel laureate, Barry Marshall, threatening to resign from UWA if it went ahead. This would cause UWA to drop out of the top 100 university rankings – something that the VC would really rather not happen.

    This is only a rumour. It has no basis in fact. But it is so delicious that it is worth spreading.

  5. @tony lynch

    Yes, I know the answer. The thing is it is emperor’s new clothes stuff. Putting forward such absurd and nonsensical policies should make the government the butt of instant and total ridicule. Yet the charade goes on, treating Abbott as if he a serious PM and this government as if it is a serious government. We are ruled by the Abbottonian Stupidity Cult.

  6. @Ivor

    Certainly, we are in stage of capital overaccumulation. This is a crisis, or the beginnings of one, though few recognise it yet.

    The interesting thing to me is this. The capitalist system of production has this systemic and systematic bias towards capital overaccumulation and impoverishment of workers. Only crises of destruction (depressions and wars) or stern government action can correct this bias in practice. Any engineer developing a machine or complex system which demonstrated such systemic and systematic bias and required large inputs of energy, materials, money and human control to fight the inherent bias, would conclude that the machine or system needs to be radically redesigned. This is really the only logical consclusion.

  7. @Ikonoclast

    Deep down people must know this, but until they lose their job it just doesn’t rise to the surface of their consciousness.

    I explained to my son the other day that in the early 80’s, all one had to do to qualify as looking for work was write “CES and newspapers” on the dole form. He was horrified at this. I explained that back then governments actually felt bad if they didn’t provide full employment.

    But just how do we stop the slide into dystopia?

  8. The big laugh about the continued emphasis on getting people into jobs is that the government spent the past year pushing middle-aged and older staff out of jobs.

    The second big chuckle of the day is that several members of the leadership team (Australia) think that $185k isn’t a large income for households by Sydney standards, so God knows what this implies about their views for the median wage in Australia: perhaps they think it is chump change?

  9. The Copenhagen Consensus Center is now registered in the USA and I visited its home page:
    http://www.copenhagenconsensus.com/
    where I found this explanation as to why the centre’s address is a mail forwarding service.

    Our research is not done in-house, we work with more than 100 of the world’s top economists (including 7 Nobel Laureates) located at some of the most prestigious universities and organization world-wide, to identify the most bang-for-the-buck solutions to global challenges. In addition we collaborate with contractors and volunteers to disseminate the results in different countries and languages.

    By organizing ourselves as a network, we can work with the smartest people regardless of where in the world the might be located. Most of our core team, consisting of about 8 full-time project managers and communication people are working from Budapest. Despite the name we no longer have an office in Copenhagen. Our president and founder Bjorn Lomborg resides in Prague, but travels more than 200 days per year for conferences, seminars, meetings and interviews.

    We use cloud-services for all our documents, mailing lists, multimedia and project management. Team meetings are mostly conducted via Skype. Mailing services, translations and other specialized tasks are outsourced to professionals. …

    Mr Pyne, why do we need that Australian based centre?
    Mr Lomborg has used synergistic cutting edge technology to make the organisation’s physical presence in any country completely unnecessary. All he needs is a PO Box.

  10. Eight police officers were killed and 37 were injured in the gun battles, which began at dawn Saturday, and 14 bodies were also found at the site, the spokesman said earlier.

    The assailants were from “a particularly dangerous terrorist group” whose members included people sought on international arrest warrants, Kotevski said.

    It looks like the Empire is desperate to get this WWIII going.

    Where better to start than the Balkans, a bit stereotyped but that’s their form. Never an original idea.

    If we’re lucky we’ll get the leaks shortly confirming US/CIA involvement.

  11. Turns out the US lied about the “kill or capture” Bin Laden execution.

    Well knock me over with a feather! I had no idea.

    The US is a fascist Empire, and we Australians are complicit.

  12. Just a passing thought, wonder how much the media gains from election advertising and therefore, what is democracy worth as a business input?

    The U.S. spent ~$6B in 2012, not a bad earner.

  13. @Megan

    Which major power is not a “fascist empire” (for want of better teminology)? Are China or Russia any better than the USA? The answer is emphatically no. Indeed, they are likely worse domestically, hard as that might be to believe. Abroad they have far less reach than the USA and so are more constrained in that sphere.

    The only geopolitical-geostrategic reason that some small nations still experience any peace or freedom at all is that the three great absolutist powers counterbalance each other, creating a stalemate in the nuclear age, and small states “bandwagon” with a great ally.

    “At the core of the balance of power theory is the idea that national security is enhanced when military capabilities are distributed so that no one state is strong enough to dominate all others. If one state gains inordinate power, the theory predicts that it will take advantage of its strength and attack weaker neighbors thereby providing an incentive for those threatened to unite in a defensive coalition. Some realists maintain that this would be more stable as aggression would appear unattractive and would be averted if there was equilibrium of power between the rival coalitions.” – Wikipedia.

    Weaker states, like Australia, bandwagon. “… to ally with the dominant power means placing one’s trust in its continued benevolence…. States choose to bandwagon because it may be a form of appeasement as the bandwagoner may hope to avoid an attack by diverting it elsewhere—a defensive reason—or because it may align with the dominant side in wartime to share the spoils of victory—an offensive reason.”

  14. Ikonoclast,

    Consider prison populations. Really.

    Consider police killings. Really.

    And now tell me about the ‘geopolitical, geostrategic’ convergent pressures.

  15. @tony lynch

    I am not sure which statement you are taking issue with. Probably it is the statement “Indeed, they (Russia and China) are likely worse domestically, hard as that might be to believe.”

    If so, that might be fair enough.

    Incarceration Rate per 100,000 population

    USA 707
    Russian Federation 470
    China 150 (approx.)

    I am not sure how reliable these figures from Wikipedia are.

    China has a considerably higher execution rate per capita (by several times). I can’t find a figure for Russia.

    Police killings is a hard statistic to find (at least for me). Most nation states don’t keep accurate stats on police kills and/or don’t define them and/or keep them fairly secret. Overall, I doubt one could make a case that Russia and China are free-er domestically than the USA. One could perhaps make the case they are no worse. It depends a lot of course what class you belong to. The USA has a lot of freedom for the more priveleged classes (not that that is anything to boast about when the poor are so unfree politically and economically).

    Not sure what to tell you about “geopolitical, geostrategic” convergent pressures other than that they seem to be very real. Corporatism/oligarchy plus a secret state supporting the same would seem to be the basic setup of each of the big three now. Orwell’s 1984 dystopian vision has proven most prophetic at least in the sense of predicting three authoritarian blocs in endless conflict (currently by proxy wars, border wars, drone wars, cyber wars, trade wars, currency wars and espionage wars).

  16. @Troy Prideaux

    That’s a good point. I simply don’t know if prison stats for China are for criminal prisoners only or not. I simply don’t know if political prisoners in China are another category hidden from standard internationally gathered incarneration statistics. I wonder if anyone commenting here knows more on this issue and/or can point to some verified data?

  17. @Donald Oats

    That’s interesting. There are 4 adults in my household; one semi-professional worker, one retired worker and two adult fulltime students with no current part-time earnings.

    The little caclulator shows we are a 50th percentile household for income relative to household size (and age). I guess this means we’re are median but not average. We are actually of course a below average household on this income measure. This is good or a good joke, I am not sure which. I can stop feeling guilty for being an over-privileged Australian because apparently I am not over-privileged.

    This illustrates to me how absurdly high our expectations are as a society. Apparently mature households like mine are median, not even average, and yet would have (I would guess);

    (a) A 3 or 4 bedroom house with an office or study.
    (b) 2 or 3 bathrooms.
    (c) 3 cars
    (d) 2 TVs
    (e) 2 desktop PCs and internet connection.
    (f) 3 laptops
    (g) 4 mobile phones.
    (h) half a million positive equity in house and land.
    (g) a million positive equity in super accounts, shares or the equivalent thereof.

    And that just puts you at the 50th percentile! Hilarious!

  18. Footnote: Maybe my example above illustrated a household that is income average but not asset average. Anyone know these numbers and how they relate?

    For example, a million in super funds sounds a lot but it would generate (I guess) only about $40,000 p.a. safe income, if that, (non-depleting) or maybe $60,000 p.a. if you depleted it at quite a hefty rate.

  19. 2nd footnote.

    I see I am not far off in my estimates.

    The MYOB site says;

    “A common rule of thumb is that if you want to retire at 60, you will need about 15 times the amount you have calculated for your annual after-tax retirement expenses. So if you estimate $60,000 per year then you will need $900,000 (in super).”

    So next question, does the average couple have this amount in super now at 60? Will they in the years ahead? And what happens in a world of capital over-accumulation wich arguably we are entering? One would assume in such a world that capital investments will collapse in value at some point. After all, the capital must collapse to match real assets, real production and income.

    Much “wealth” now is inflated asset wealth. Look at Australian housing (and flats and units) which are arguably valued at about 2.5 times their genuine market fundamental value on average. The crash in these assets has to come sooner or later. House prices have gone from about 3 times a years gross wages to about 7 to 8 times a years gross wages. This has occured from about 1983 to 2013. Since fundamental value must related to returns (on investments) and the ability to repay (on home mortgages) then this would seem to indicate a problem.

  20. Now Indonesia is doing “Stop The Boats“.

    JAKARTA: A boat carrying hundreds of migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh has been towed out of Indonesian waters, a navy spokesman said Tuesday (May 12), but it remains unclear where the vessel is destined next.

    The vessel arrived off Aceh early Monday with about 400 migrants on board, local authorities estimated, one of a series of vessels to arrive in Indonesia and Malaysia in recent days carrying people from Myanmar and Bangladesh.

    But the Indonesian navy confirmed Tuesday it had provided the boat with fuel and towed it out of Indonesian waters, declining to say if it was heading to Malaysia, its suspected destination.

    “It was towed out of Indonesian territory,” Manahan Simorangkir told AFP. “We gave them fuel and asked them to proceed. We are not forcing them to go to Malaysia nor Australia. That is not our business. Our business is they don’t enter Indonesia because Indonesia is not the destination.”

    Another boat carrying an estimated 600 migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh arrived in the north of Aceh, the westernmost province of Indonesia, at the weekend.

    Many of those aboard are ethnic Rohingya, considered by the UN to be one of the world’s most persecuted minorities.

    Buddhist-majority Myanmar views its population of roughly 1.3 million Rohingya as illegal Bangladeshi immigrants, and they have been targeted in outbreaks of sectarian violence there in recent years, prompting many to flee.

    There are about 8,000 refugees dying aboard hulks floating in the Straits of Malacca (narrow strait between Malaysia and Indonesia – one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes). Our TVs, sneakers and cheap consumables are cruising past this human tragedy and not a single Australian politician or media outlet gives a damn.

    Shame on us.

  21. Can Fran Barlow (or anyone else in the Greens) tell me why the silence on this unfolding tragedy, and also on the internet ban on Nauru, from the Greens?

    What is going on?

  22. Megan, The Greens and Labor probably recognise that asylum seekers can be a divisive issue and a dangerous one for Australian democracy, at this stage.

    Of the two main groupings, the Coalition is the harder-nosed of the two, the public have had a glimpse of just how hard nosed it can be from last year’s Cameronist budget and treatment of aborigines, asylum seekers and people on welfare.

    Labor is also neo- liberal, but only a softer second option for Murdoch and high finance and as the Brit elections as well as recent ones here have demonstrated, the traditional second big party is in trouble in a deindustrialised era, where hard conservatism is set to gain a definitive hold on power long term.

    For now, the Greens don’t want to be the issue, or for that matter Labor; they want attention to be focussed on the Coalition.

    The Greens and some Labor won’t let the asylum seeker issue go though, because Coalition policy in particular is harsh and inhumane, but the Coalition’s hard attitudes will continue to be highlighted by the issue.

    But politics here is close to irretrievably undone. It’s too close to a definitive defeat for the rest of us, for the Coalition to be given an “out” of the sort they’ve worked so well in the past, as to the asylum seeker issue. The focus on the budget is a practical move that maybe goes against the interests of asylum seekers, who have suddenly and sadly become the component more expendable, lest ALL be lost for people here, including the hopes of asylum seekers in the future!
    The public, as commonsense, has been waiting to see if there is a change in attitude from the government and from this, politics in the near future flows.

    Realpolitik.

  23. @paul walter

    But, sticking to the UK, the SNP demonstrated spectacularly that a party ignoring the “realpolitik” and campaigning on such a ‘too hard’ issue (anti-austerity in their case, as well as better treatment of refugees btw) can win hands down.

    The ‘less-evil’ concept doesn’t ring true, and if the Greens are to continue their upward trajectory they cannot afford to be ALP-lite. To do so will doom them just as surely as the Lib-Dems for being Tory-lite.

    And besides, this is one of those issues that is bigger than some tactical play. This is a humanitarian tragedy.

  24. Take a deep breath Megan. I know what irks you and it irks me, too. You wear your heart on your sleeve.

  25. @Megan
    Megan I don’t know what they’re saying about it, but it is not simply about what a party says, it is also about what the media reports.

    Worth looking at Greens website or Sarah Hanson Jones website or twitter account.

  26. There isn’t anything about it on the Greens website or Sarah Hanson Young’s personal website but she has tweeted or re-tweeted messages about it twice in the last two days.

    I agree they should be doing more.

  27. @Val

    I’ve looked in those places. Numerous ‘tweets’ to both SH-Y and Scott Ludlam have been ignored. Unless I’ve completely missed something, the Greens ARE silent and have been for weeks in the case of the Nauru internet blocking.

    It can’t be because they don’t know about these things. They put out several statements every day usually and I’ve seen nothing. I’m seriously wondering if the Greens are somehow fatally compromised (but I can’t work out why they might be).

    Sorry Paul, but it does a great deal more than ‘irk’ me – and no, I won’t take a deep breath!

  28. @Megan

    I can assure you Megan, there’s no policy, informal or otherwise, not to speak of this matter.

    Firstly, we would have every interest in raising it and even if, perversely, some in the parliamentary party thought to run dead on it, it’s hard to see how they could implement it. There’s simply no structure for the party to do it. If you look at the stoush between NSW and ACT Greens over kangaroo culling down there, it’s pretty obviously not something we like seeing canvassed in public and yet, there it is.

    I can tell you that nobody has raised the matter at any party gathering I have attended in the last six months. I haven’t seen it on Twitter either, where emerging issues tend to appear. Probably just a matter of a story falling between the cracks.

  29. @Fran Barlow

    Thanks.

    Yes, facebook (and other sites) as a subset of the internet was what I was referring to.

    But still….8,000 people in the Straits of Malacca; Indonesia pushing refugees back out to sea; I can’t get my head around how it gets missed (especially looking at all the things they have been putting out statements on).

  30. Megan, SBS had a news story on the 8000 trapped people, and the ones who had been rescued. If SBS can cover the story, there is no excuse for commercial stations missing it, or for major newspapers missing it.

  31. These 8,000 people appear to be Muslims. They have fouled their own nests and must now live with the result.

    Remember Man Haron Monis in Sydney

    Remember the 2004 Madrid train bombings

    Remember the London 7/7 bombings

    Remember the New York WTC 9/11

    Remember Charlie in France

    Stop the Boats.

  32. Question to the greenies and other lovers of electric cars:

    I am currently in the market for a new motor, and will look seriously at a Prius V. Anecdotally, hybrids are only just starting to take off in Australia, as I’m finding it hard to locate one for a test drive as they’re all sold out in my neck of the woods. I was at the local Nissan dealership and saw a Leaf there, which is all electric, and which has virtually no sales in Australia. I was told, but I would like to confirm, that the situation with the lack of electric recharging stations is so dire that if I was to drive to my in-laws in Wangaratta, I would not find a single recharging station along the Hume Highway on the Victorian side before reaching at least Albury (and not sure there’s one there either). There’s one at Beechworth, allegedly, but I’d run out of juice way before then.

    How can anyone buy an electric car in this context?

    Where are the subsidies from either government or the auto makers (okay so maybe just the govt) to set up charging stations along major highways? Is that going to be a priority for policy at any time in the current millennium? Or have I been misinformed?

  33. Today is the 30th anniversary of the fascist’s fire-bombing of an African American resistance movement house in Philadelphia.

    “Police” commandeered a helicopter and dropped C4 explosives onto their house, causing a fire that burned down about 60 homes and killed several men women and children. “C4” was only available through federal agencies.

    The Eurogliders were touring the US at the time, 13th May 1985, and wrote a song about it.

  34. Well, as more information about the fine detail in the Budget come to light, it seems clear enough that our foreign aid budget has been used as a piggy bank, razing it to stumpy bits—except if your country is the recipient of our “short straw” resettlement programme for asylum seekers caught (not) arriving by boat; those three countries—Nauru, PNG, and Cambodia—kept their aid funding or most of it, while Indonesia had its foreign aid (from Australia) cut to 60%, bringing it to the level just prior to the 2004 tsunami. So, an international diplomatic gesture with respect to accepting our returnees, an international political gesture with respect to some very recent executions, and a domestically acceptable rob Peter, pay Paul, strategy for chucking some cash into the key voting constituencies.

  35. @m0nty re Prius, cabbies in both NYC and Paris say that they are cost effective as they cost less to maintain e.g. brake pads, tyres etc. You’d think a cabbie would know about this sort of stuff.

  36. Even as we enforce mass collection and retention of metadata, tracking the where and when of people’s communication with one another, and even their peregrinations about town and country, the biggest democracy in the world is about to step back from mass collection of its citizen’s metadata.

    We try to puff up our chest and act big on the world stage, only to miss a step and fall flat on our arse (which is the same as falling flat on our face). What a lot of red tape for nought.

  37. @m0nty
    Having owned two Priuses over the last 6 years or so, I would recommend them if you’re looking for a very fuel efficient, comfortable drive, and you don’t require a large amount of boot space or need to pull a trailer.

    There’s no likelihood of subsidies for electric charging stations by state or federal governments any time soon, given current attitudes. Australia is well behind the US, Europe and China on the EV front.

    In WA, the RAC (Royal Automobile Club) is funding the installation of highway charging stations in the southwest of the state, which will enable EV owners to drive from Perth down to the wine/tourism hub of Margaret River (around 280km) without panicking about running out of juice.

    No idea if anything similar is happening anywhere else in Australia.

  38. @Donald Oats

    the biggest democracy in the world

    Actually, that would be India.
    Good news about the US Congress rejecting the constant expansion of government surveillance powers, though. Who knows, maybe one day they’ll even wind some of them back.

  39. Johnny Depp brought two dogs into Australia. It isn’t clear if Customs made a mistake, if Depp made a mistake, or if Depp deliberately concealed them. Now Barnaby Joyce has given Depp 50 hours to get them out of the country or have them seized and destroyed.

    Given the obvious solution of putting them into quarantine, getting Depp to supply relevant paperwork, and to pay a fine if he has been complicit in the dogs not going through full customs procedure, why make the threat of killing a couple of dogs—who are not responsible for their owner’s actions, or any mistake(s) made at Customs. Haven’t our ministers got better things to waste their time on cutting? Clipping a couple of pets is a new low.

  40. > Actually, that would be India.

    Which has also been a democracy for significantly longer than the US.

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