135 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. Following on from the last post, I have a few general questions for discussion.

    Which Kind of Collapse?

    If a global economic collapse were to occur (which possibility is still contested of course) what form would it be most likely to take? Let us ignore causes like asteroid strike or nuclear war and just consider resources and economics. Let us also accept that a plateau or steady state economy in material terms (stabilised population and stabilised infrastructure) would not be a collapse. Indeed such an economy could still grow qualitatively as knowledge, science, technology and human services continued to progress.

    Which resource scarcities might trigger real global economic collapse? Energy seems to have been removed as a possibility. Advances in solar power and wind power alone indicate we can power an advanced electronic and electrical economy. Further, energy is a key resource or master resource (in my opinion) so removal of energy as a near constraint augurs well. If energy is freely available then other resource shortages can be overcome or ameliorated. Good energy availability allows greater leveraging of substitution possibilities in the economy.

    In this case, what of resource shortage dangers do we face? Shortages of fresh water, especially for agriculture, and shortages of topsoil, fertilisers and thus food might be a danger we face. The other candidate area for problems is the effect of waste on our environment. Waste heat is not a global problem though it can be a local problem. Material wastes (including CO2) would seem to be our problem along with species extinctions and loss of natural environments. This in turn leads to a loss of bio-services from natural cycles (physical, chemical and biological) in the biosphere.

    On the economic side, opinions seem to vary when it comes to the following question. Will economic stresses due to resource scarcity and bioservice scarcity (if these occur) lead to deflationary or inflationary pressure on the economy. Some pundits (I won’t call them economists) seem to predict deflation. Others predict inflation. There often seems to be an assumption that one or the other will inevitably flow from resource and bioservice scarcity. Surely, the answer would be “It would depend of which economic policies, especially monetary policies, are chosen to meet the problem”. I for one can’t see that the answer re deflation/inflation, if there was a resource/bioservice collapse and economic collapse, could be a foregone conclusion. That outcome must surely depend on economic policy decisions at the time? That is if that time comes.

    Hmmm, should this be in Monday Comments or a new Sandpit?

  2. I respect that JQ wants MMT discussions in general confined to Sandpits. However, Jeremy Corbyn, the new Labour leader in Britain, has explicitly called for “Quantitative Easing for the people” to fund governments “to invest in new large-scale housing, energy, transport and digital projects”, which seems to be MMT by another name, or something similar (http://theconversation.com/explainer-would-jeremy-corbyns-quantitative-easing-for-the-people-work-46368). So this seems to be a matter of direct relevance to current politics and hence I hope escapes the sandpit rule!

    Corbyn’s victory would seem to move MMT’s policy prescriptions much closer to being implemented in an activist policy form by a major economic power much closer to reality. The challenges raised in the linked article (inflation and depreciation) aren’t serious threats to Britain in the short-medium term, as they are near recessionary deflation as it is and depreciating against the Euro and US dollar would help their exports.

    But there’s still the longer term risk of a Corbyn government succumbing to “macroeconomic populism” and creating an inflationary explosion like Allende’s Chile or Garcia’s Peru (http://www.nber.org/papers/w2986), if they pursued “QE” policies beyond the point where currently slack resources in the UK (their unemployed) are taken up. Conversely the UK has several advantages over those states: a free-floating currency, no need to import foreign capital (both physical and financial) for development, and rather less chance of the US fomenting a coup. Those could mean that a Corbyn government would have space to rein in any inflationary pressure before it spiraled out of control.

  3. Would a Turnbull government move to install something resembling a rational climate change policy? Time will tell, I suppose.

  4. Malcolm Turnbull might have the numbers, but, assuming he wins a contest against PM Tony Abbott, I have real doubts about the cabinet he would inherit. It is the most theo-neo-conservative cabinet I’ve ever seen in government, and I don’t think too many of them would be happy with the kind of policy narrative which Malcolm Turnbull would be likely to put out there. Turnbull is right wing, but still far to the left of much of his cabinet—or, at least that is what they seem to believe.

    The other little difficulty for MT is that the national disgrace will tear him down, being a drone for some US media tycoon, it is claimed. He won’t get any help from most of the cabinet, ergo he must do a major overhaul—a mauling rather than a reshuffling. That would create even further animosity between the theo-neo-cons and MT, so MT is caught on the horns of a pointy dilemma.

    IMO, MT should have waited until another cabinet minister chucked a grenade at the PM, then stepped in to split the vote. If he won that way, he could say it was a three-way contest, thus allaying some of the criticism which would follow from destabilising a sitting PM, and he could say that he beat, not one, but two, other opponents to win the slot. If he failed, he could at least say he wasn’t the spoiler.

    Goodtimes, Badtimes.

  5. At last!

    A Turnbull/Bishop/Morrison led government might finally return this country back to sensible and mature government – something we haven’t seen for a decade. I’m not sure what was going to be worse – another term of Abbott, or Shorten as PM.

  6. @Donald Oats
    Presumably Turnbull will initiate a major reshuffle if he becomes PM. But I agree that the preponderance of wingnuts in the Liberal Party room does have the potential to limit his ability to change the direction of government policy . We can’t be sure that an actual spill will get up yet, although presumably Turnbull would not have made this move if he didn’t think he had the numbers.

  7. Turnbull has had no choice. Clearly Abbott’s hard conservative agenda is offensive to him, he has just wasted the years since he was rolled for the leadership implementing policies that he knows are useless.

    If he wins the leadership the party will have to swallow a bit, end some of the more reactionary stuff and reinvent itself as a small l liberal government in tune with the feelings and aspirations of a twenty first century electorate, or without even the pretence of liberalism it will go the next polls seen as it is now; reactionary and void of good attitude, motivations and constructive ideas, in which case Labor may be back in government within a year.

    If Abbott holds the PM ship, he will be badly wounded after Turnbull’s scathing attackhim and headed for probable defeat in a year or sooner.

    If Turnbull loses, he is free to leave and who would blame him if he did. Abbott drags his name down along with his own with the sort of government he does.

  8. Abbot has announced there will be a spill this evening. The wags who said the Coalition would deliver a ‘faster, cheaper’ leadership spill than Labor were on the money.

  9. Read PM Tony Abbott’s comments on domestic violence. Perhaps he could broaden that to include off-shore detention centre violence, or is on-shore domestic violence just the latest issue to be randomly sprayed with Three Word Slogans, on the way to the next political issue.

    As for Malcolm Turnbull and his identification of leadership style as the issue, it isn’t just about the style, it is about the broken promises and the ransacking of our legal system, the entirely unnecessary and rather creepy incursions into our privacy, the incredibly conceited attitude in relation to South Australia and our major manufacturing industries, the cuts to health, science, education, research, and the wholesale assault upon the renewable energy sector.

    If MT wants to ride the winning horse, it had better not just be a show pony.

  10. I think Turnbull has been set up (a bit like he was with the Godwin Gretch non-existent email) to flush him out. Right now heads will be getting kicked and stragglers being brought to heel. If Turnbull loses (I’m guessing he will) then he and his supporters are gone and the machine rolls on.

    $0.02

  11. @Megan Turnbull is an advocate, he has no real principles that would make him a politician. While I admire his intelligence I hope he loses. OTOH Abbott has a big task ahead of him, to turn the polls around.

  12. Abbott was a populist wingnut with catholic social tastes. Legacy: about zero. I’ll be glad to see him gone. And his idiot mates.

    Turnbull actually has liberal values. It will be interesting to see how this goes.

  13. I should be happy because my Sportsbet ledger has just added a $535.00 credit:

    Item Date Type Transaction Details Debit Credit Balance
    14/09/15 22:03 Will Abbott face a leadership ballot? $100.00 @ 2.50 Win-$250.00
    14/09/15 21:52 Next Liberal Leader Malcolm Turnbull $100.00 @ 2.85 Win -$285.00


    But beneath this smiling face I am wearing a frown.

    Constantly chopping and changing popularly elected PMs on the basis of monthly poll flunctuations is bad for democracy. Moreover it gives unaccountable indirect political power to the MSM outlets who can afford to sponsor these polling companies. NEWS used Newspoll to unseat Rudd and get rid of the hated carbon tax and minerals tax. Fairfax used Ipsos to unseat Abbott, to pursue their pet policies of homosexual marriage and open borders for people smugglers.

    The MSM lost its rivers of gold revenue base when classified ads went to the internet. It is now heavily dependent on real estate promotion. The only way it can retain relevance is to double down on its King-making powers.

    The trouble is that the so-called King-makers are really more like children who have pushed teacher off the platform and are now milling about aimlessly wondering what to do.

    A sad day for democracy.

  14. No good day for democracy I’d say. Abbott was not good for democracy and basically won the last election by dishonesty. I don’t have a high opinion of MT, but he is a LOT better than Abbott.

  15. It will be interesting to see if Turnbull promotes substantive changes in policy, I mean beyond pandering to wishy-washy liberal hand-wringers on the subject of legalizing homosexual marriage, giving yet another green light to people smugglers and trying to breathe new life into the moribund Republic movement. None of these issues are big vote winners, if anything most of them are on the nose.

    His one true point of difference between Abbott and Turnbull was, of course, climate change. But Turnbull made no reference to this in his grab for power statesman like call for unity. So it looks like Malcolm just wants to be top dog. Situation normal.

    In a way this is useful to psephologists as the absence of policy difference between Abbott and Turnbull controls for policy and thus gives a good test of the influence of politician personality on partisan alignment. My guess: not much.

    So my money is still on the ALP in 2016.

  16. Turnbull will enjoy a (brief) honeymoon period with the electorate. The pressure is now on Labor, and the clock is ticking …

  17. @jack strocchi

    “Constantly chopping and changing popularly elected PMs on the basis of monthly poll flunctuations is bad for democracy.”

    No, you’ve completely missed the point. The polls (by all polling companies) have been consistently bad for the Coalition for well over a year: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Next_Australian_federal_election#/media/File:Australian_election_polling_-_two_party_preferred.png. They haven’t been fluctuating at all.

    “Moreover it gives unaccountable indirect political power to the MSM outlets who can afford to sponsor these polling companies.”

    Are you suggesting that the polls would be giving different results if you were the one commissioning them? Actually, I believe you.

    It’s a potentially great day in Australian political history. If Turnbull is successful in dragging the Australian right back from crazy town he will leave an incredible legacy. I’ve no idea if he can do it, but it’s certainly going to be entertaining finding out.

  18. @J-D

    Careful, your comment could create the appearance that you are actually saying something for once.

    At least, that’s the way it could appear.

  19. @jack strocchi

    On the contrary, constantly chopping and changing popularly elected PMs on the basis of monthly poll fluctuations is excellent for democracy. For us believers in democracy, the problem is not that it happens too much but rather that it doesn’t happen nearly enough.

    Congratulations on winning your bets, though.

  20. Rapidly changing governments and even more rapidly changing Prime Ministers are signs that the electorate want real change. However, the electorate has not figured out yet that nothing will ever change under our two neoliberal parties. The result is this flip-flopping between them and the endless deposing of leaders. No effective repudiation of neoliberalism can begin to occur until the neoliberal majors (LNP and ALP) are both destroyed at the ballot box.

    It’s symptomatic and indeed systematic that under late stage capitalism, no matter who you vote for you get more late stage capitalism. Nothing really changes because nothing can change within this system.

  21. “Constantly chopping and changing popularly elected PMs on the basis of monthly poll flunctuations is bad for democracy.”

    There is no “elected PM” and those politicians that ignore polls are in danger of losing popularity.

  22. @rog

    There is an elected PM. The election mechanism goes as follows.

    1. To become part of the parliamentary wing of a party, members must win seats in an election.
    2. This elected parliamentary wing of the party then elects a leader.
    3. If this party is already in government this leader becomes PM.
    4. If this party is in opposition, they go to an election with this leader. They must win a majority of seats and the leader must win his seat to become PM.

    What you meant, no doubt, is that there is no direct, popular election for the PM. For that matter, there is no direct popular election for the US President. Check the US electoral college system.

  23. It wasn’t one or two bad polls, it was succcessive poor polling, successive bad decisions and successive head bobbles and stunned silence everytime he couldnt answer a critical question. Good opposition leaders don’t necessarily make good PMs. Ultimately good PMs dont get the heave ho by their own party unless they over stay their welcome (i.e. Bob and John).
    I think democracy has worked as it was clearly the will of the people through successive polls that they had erred (but chose the best of a bad lot at the time). Not a lot of time for Turnbull to acheive much given Shorten wont be interested in bipartisanship due to his own ambitions and his indication as willing to consult. He can either consult or do.

  24. J-D :
    @jack strocchi
    On the contrary, constantly chopping and changing popularly elected PMs on the basis of monthly poll fluctuations is excellent for democracy. For us believers in democracy, the problem is not that it happens too much but rather that it doesn’t happen nearly enough.
    Congratulations on winning your bets, though.

    It’s probably good for democracy, but it’s not good for leadership so nobody (on either side of politics) can complain about a lack of political leadership in federal politics because we all know that anything unpopular with the electorate will likely be punished promptly. Whether that’s a good or bad thing… who knows.

  25. @Megan

    There are many subjects on which I have plenty to say if I feel like it. Sometimes I feel like it and sometimes I don’t. In general one of the factors that tends to influence me against expressing my opinions is whenever I get the impression that people aren’t interested. If you’re ever interested in what I have to say on any subject you could always try the experiment of asking me. I pay attention to that; and likewise I notice when people consistently do not take up the opportunity to ask me for my opinion.

  26. We’ll have to see how MT goes – he has gained enough support within the party to overcome reluctance to oust their leader and that is indicative of how deeply dismayed they must have been with Abbott, but I do wonder if parallels with Rudd apply; supported for the sake of popular appeal, to win an election yet he and his likely policy direction not necessarily well liked or regarded within the party. Whether Turnbull can win over the caucus remains to be seen. I didn’t see a lot of real policy and admin ability evident in the government.

    We need to wait and see if “Policy not Slogans” is anything more than another three word slogan.

  27. I’ll try again; is there any merit to the ALP (and perhaps in private discussions with Turnbull) reheating the Clean Energy Legislation (Carbon Tax – to the LNPers)?

    Hear me out.

    1. We have data on how it did work.
    2. We know every part of the scare campaign and what mistakes were made.
    3. Business would understand what to do (they’ve used the same rules previously) – is there a change cost saving there?
    4. Re-start with a fixed price, turbo-charge renewable job engine/stimulous.

    Anyway, I didn’t think the Clean Energy package was perfect, but it certainly got us started transforming the economy, even if mildly.

  28. Turnbull is outside the Lib political power group, to which Bolt Jones Newscorp IPA et al belong. Abbott was a faithful servant to that group and it did him in. Similarly Rudd rejected the ALP heavies leaving him isolated paranoid and eventually exhausted. Let’s see how Turnbull plays this one.

  29. @Pete Moran
    I believe that Labor has maintained a commitment to reintroduce an emissions trading scheme. If Labor does re-form government in the near future (now potentially less likely than it was yesterday), it stands to reason that a new emissions trading scheme policy would be based on the Clean Energy Future legislation, just as that legislation was itself a tweaked version of the earlier Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme legislation.

  30. Jim Birch :
    Abbott was a populist wingnut with catholic social tastes. Legacy: about zero. I’ll be glad to see him gone. And his idiot mates.
    Turnbull actually has liberal values. It will be interesting to see how this goes.

    No, Turnbull only has liberal values in the U.S. sense of the term; Abbott actually taps into the legacy of values he received far more, e.g. Menzies’s values which, rather more importantly, are still shared by a material proportion of the electorate and fall under non-U.S. understandings of the term “liberal” (I have heard it suggested that fifty years ago he would have been a natural D.L.P. man, which sounds fair). That means that Abbott’s legacy should be read in terms of changes he has prevented or delayed, not in terms of changes he has made or a body of thought or of followers he has created (since they were already there): zero is the achievement for those who agree with Viscount Falkland’s aphorism that “when it is not necessary to change, it is necessary not to change”.

    One likely implication of this is that Turnbull and Bishop can never develop a pool of genuinely loyal followers but at best cupboard love from a sort of pilot fish and/or would be successors, or genuine loyalty from those who are deceived about them but only until they are undeceived. On the other hand, what Abbott faced was a shortage of people sharing his values within the party machinery – but people like that can be lastingly loyal. That’s because people sharing Turnbull’s and Bishop’s values can only exist within a party holding itself out as “liberal” if they are only using it but really false to it, and so naturally untrustworthy; the reverse applies within a party holding itself out as “socialist”, so Jeremy Corbyn can expect real loyalty within Britain’s Labour Party but Blair could only get that from the deceived.

  31. Tony Abbott didn’t even bother to gloss over the single biggest reason for his demise: he made promises he evidently never intended to keep, and people really really hate that in a politician, especially one who is vying for the position of Prime Minister of Australia; rather than gloss over this in his final speech to the media in his role as PM, he airbrushed it from history!

    The Australian public accept that when circumstances change unexpectedly, a politician may need to break a promise in order to deal with the changed circumstances; after all, this is real life. What the Australian public get miffed at is when promises are made which are never intended to be fulfilled. People really really hate naked deceit in politicians, and I’ll wager that is an underlying reason for the depressed polling of the LNP. Some of the biggest deceivers are still in cabinet, which is going to pose Malcolm Turnbull with something of a challenge. Further more, in honouring the policies set by Tony Abbott and the cabinet, MT has the recent record of NBN to worry about.

    Once TA is removed from the equation, we are still left with the scorched earth legacy of the first term LNP government. They’ve viciously attacked the significant policies of the previous two governments, terminating what could be terminated, and white-anting what couldn’t be terminated; unless MT can miraculously restore some of those policy areas to something resembling rational behaviour, the LNP will remain on the nose.

    Every new government likes to put its stamp on society. Tearing down all the policies of the previous (opposing) governments is rare though; the usual course is to adjust some policies, keep others, and to add new policies which align with the new government. Putting a wrecking ball through the previous opponent’s policies just smacks of vindictive and pretty spiteful behaviour. That is PM Tony Abbott’s legacy writ large.

  32. On the money Donald Oates.

    Abbott’s latest little tear down was of the board members of the NDIS., I was hearing the other night on Drive Time. If MT doesn’t do some restoration work he can fully expect every Lib political appointee being disposed of the day after the next election. John Howards speech demonstrated just where the stupidity of the Abbott government originated from. He attributions to Abbott were dumping the mining tax, dumping the Carbon Price, and keeping Labour out of government. Bipartisan government in Australia? you can forget it while Howard still breathes. He is a nasty piece of work, which explains why he got on so well with Abbott.

  33. With regard to the trickle down effect, I would hypothesis that the popularity of Turnbull is more along the lines of “hitch your wagon to a shooting star”

    Turnbull has successfully projected an image of competence, empathy and intelligence.

    However his record is that of one who acts only for himself without any regard for others.

    The Liberal machine might be in for a shock.

  34. It will be interesting to see if the ALP retain Bill Shorten as leader against Turnbull. It is hard to know what Turnbull will be like, but he should be able to discuss reforms more rationally than Tony Abbott was.

    I went to a talk uni held in Bendigo last week on Federalism and reforms. There was a law professor who spoke about the structure of Australian federalism, a man from PWC who spoke about taxation across the States and Commonwealth and advocated a raise in GST, a woman who spoke about education and said States should be responsible, and John Hewson, and John Brumby.

    John Hewson was the only one to mention climate change, right at the end in an answer to a high school student’s question about how people her age can become more knowledgeable about proposed policies. And no other environmental issues were mentioned at all.

    It is very blinkered to talk about the reforms we need at the moment, without mentioning climate change and the other environmental sustainability issues.

    I think the ALP are not much better than the Liberal Party on environmental issues at the moment, except for the odd thing here and there. Turnbull was Minister for the Environment and introduced some reforms of the governance of the Murray River, so he might be able to move the Liberal Party forwards on environmental issues. And hopefully Australia will be more constructive at the Climate Change negotiations in December now.

  35. @Ikonoclast
    No, Australians do not directly elect the Prime Minister, the Parliamentary political caucuses do.
    Yes, despite the Electoral College, Americans do elect the President. Candidates names appear on ballot papers for the Presidency, not the names of the State Electoral College members. How do I know this? I vote.

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