33 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. A few months back The Conversation ran a puff piece on how Australia was achieving its greenhouse gas emission targets. It was annoying as I remembered that Oz had got a special consideration at Kyoto for doing what we should have always been doing…..stopping land clearing (emissions) and really our policy was business as usual.

    The piece did though usefully refer to a 2014 inventory. This happily allowed for verification. There is was, all the gain was from notional land clearing while emissions from the key industrial sectors had increased 30-50% over 1990 completely contrary to the spirit of Kyoto. You had to go into the Appendix where it had been nicely buried – as is the usual technique with Environmental Assessment type reports when the proponent would rather see the ugly numbers buried. The (typically correct) belief is that most greenies are well meaning but innumerate or dont have time to search the devilish details for the truth.

    Anyway myself and a colleague protested to The Conversation about this factual distortion but got no response which indicated to me incompetent (inumerate?) editors and poor author selection and further confirmation that our cynicism tinged analysis was regretably on the money.

    Happily though today there is a follow up piece of the topic in the Guardian which shows you cant suppress the truth forever.

    Hopefully we will now see this dodgy environmental sequestration component of Australian policy consigned to the dustbin and Australia’s emissions irresponsibility shown for what it is, a farce.

  2. Remember Murray Salby?

    He claimed to have been dismissed from Macquarie University because of ‘inconvenient’ opinions about carbon dioxide and climate. He claimed that his return from travel to Europe was hindered by the cancellation of the return part of his ticket.

    Now his dismissal claims have been ruled on by a court: Salby v Macquarie University & Anor [2016] FCCA 3.

    He wanted travel leave for weeks during (teaching) semester. He didn’t get approval. He was told to cancel any travel arrangements made using University credit. He didn’t. He used a University credit card not only for travel arrangements but for air tickets, a purpose for which Macquarie credit cards may never be used (because air tickets come only through contracted travel agencies).

    He didn’t turn up to give his lectures – even while he was still in Australia. Macquarie started disciplinary committee consideration of this as misconduct on his part. The committee considered the matter after Salby went to Europe and before he returned – he had nearly two weeks notice but did not appear.

    Once Macquarie found he had not cancelled his travel arrangements, but instead had finalised them and left Australia, Macquarie deferred committee consideration of his credit card activity to allow him to respond. The committee met for this purpose only after Salby came back to Australia: but Salby did not appear.

    The court has now found that Salby was dismissed for, and only for, his extended misconduct. Although Salby had formally contended that his carbon dioxide views were a reason for his dismissal, he wouldn’t question University witnesses along those lines – though the court, and the University’s counsel, made it clear that he had to do so if he wanted to make the argument.

    Of course, none of the denial websites who shed tears and alleged Salby was being victimised have yet recanted their claims. On the internet, Salby will continue to appear as someone at least arguably victimised for his views.

    Do falsehoods ever die?

  3. With a 110 candidates in a Senate Election, as in NSW last time, do the results of Senate elections reflect the plurality of opinion among voters?The primary criteria to voting process should be consistency with basic democratic principles. We do not control who we are voting for. I propose that each candidate be given a 15-20 minute podcast outlining their case for election hosted by the AEC. This would extend to the each Division for the House of Reps.

  4. The obvious objection that I am waiting for somebody to point out is that over a hundred candidates on Senate Ballot paper is excessive. It is constitutionally possible, I believe, to subdivide into regions, and thereby have fewer positions and few candidates.

  5. John Howard has been talking a bit recently , I had almost forgotten how entertaining he was . Now describing our relationship with America as ‘an intimate alliance’ , referring to Britain as ‘she’ and ‘her’ ,and saying Trumps popularity is simply due to his refusal to speak along ‘politically correct’ lines. (what does P C mean anyway ?- just ‘correct but I refuse to admit it’ ?).

    My favorite from that era though would have to be how Alexander Downer would refer to Iraq as ‘the theatre’ – as in the ‘theatre of war ‘. His kids should have been sent to the theatre..

    My Trumpy theory is simple -that Conservatives are responsible for him .They have carefully nurtured the dumb bigoted vote for decades as it won them elections ,but it is a dangerous game and has now blown up in their faces. The Sanders phenomenon is more interesting .

  6. Too right, Troy. They are so antisocial they can’t even cooperate with themselves.

  7. Is the high increases in healthcare over the last two years mainly based on medibank private being floated, not allowing healthcare/health services etc…. prices to be “set”?

  8. @Daniel
    Don’t know the answer but I’m guessing it has something to do with it. They recently announced an earnings upgrade of some 27% despite a substantial (claimed) drop in general private health cover across the industry. No doubt the never-ending increases in costs of technology and higher care expectations are also contributing, but I truly hope this is not another profiteering crusade like the banks after CBA was privatised or probably more relevant energy network privatisation where network providers claimed all sorts of gold plated network infrastructure costs and the government just keep allowing fee increases to cover it. Alas, I’m not optimistic 😦

  9. @Troy Prideaux
    My concern is that our taxes prop up these corporations via the health insurance tax rebate. This is despite the fact that private health is more costly, produces poorer health outcomes and is more expensive to administer and of course results in exclusion to healthcare on the basis of affordability. This tax give away could be better used elsewhere within the health system.

    Public provision of health is being attacked on all fronts. General practice is subject to a freeze on Medicare rebates for 4 years, after years of underfunding compared with CPI. Public hospitals are underfunded and the case-mix funding model creates distortions in the way patients are managed that is ultimately detrimental to the patients. We are allowing big Pharma to rip millions from the health budget by allowing them to overcharge on a wide range of drugs. Funding is for preventative health programs is woeful and declining in real terms.

  10. In clothing manufacturing, technological advances reduce costs, and the end price to consumers. In electronic appliance manufacture, technological advances increase what an appliance can do, while reducing the cost of it doing it, and bring cost reductions to the manufacture of the appliances. In just about every facet of engineering and management, technological advances have reduced costs while increasing capability.

    Except. In. Health. Insurance.

    I don’t recall a single year where the increase was as low as the CPI.

  11. @John Turner

    How can they claim the system isn’t working if they don’t break it first. The visceral hate for the humane administration of medical assistance to all who need it is perhaps the most damming indictment of the loss of human compassion by the ruling classes.

    On a similar note, observing Pell’s clever but ultimately futile obfuscation reminded me of many of our so-called leaders who are trained to speak to issues as if they are passionately engaged but which in fact they intend to ignore absolutely. What sort of human is that?

  12. Donald Oats :
    In clothing manufacturing, technological advances reduce costs, and the end price to consumers. In electronic appliance manufacture, technological advances increase what an appliance can do, while reducing the cost of it doing it, and bring cost reductions to the manufacture of the appliances. In just about every facet of engineering and management, technological advances have reduced costs while increasing capability.
    Except. In. Health. Insurance.
    I don’t recall a single year where the increase was as low as the CPI.

    I guess the problem with high tech medical equipment is it’s not just purchased for pure functionality with economics or productivity in mind. There’s a considerable portion of “toys for the boys” ie fun,cool,look what I can do now, keeping ahead of Dr Jones’ aspect to the decision making process of procurement and couple that with patients increasing expectations of what can be scanned to assist with the accuracy of diagnoses etc. It’s what it is… sigh

  13. John, I’d love to read your take on that very amusing BIS Shrapnel report incident. (Have they found out who commissioned it yet?)

  14. BilB :
    I found this very interesting and comprehensive fact check. Well worth storing away for future reference.

    … and if you read the comments you can truly appreciate the politics of this issue. A thorough illustrative analysis that would normally attract more general agreement. Even Joe himself finished up agreeing with the calls for some tapering back of the policy.

  15. @BilB

    I don’t know why people are getting too concerned about homeless people. If you want capitalism – you must have poverty.

    People do not realise they are already living in poverty because they have plenty of consumer items. But these (or components) are imported from economies with low wages and conditions.

    Housing is a local manifestation of the capitalist poverty because, in this case, there is little capacity to import building materials.

    So for housing – unlike TV’s, cars, books and furnishings, Australian wages must cover the costs of Australian capitalist production. This is impossible.

    For TV’s and etc, Australian wages only need to cover offshore oppressed labour costs plus a bit of transport. So the next generation are going to have plenty of household goods but no houses to put them in.

    And, as far as I know, there is not one economist in Australia who has woken up to this simple fact. All we get is silly side commentary about negative gearing – as if!

  16. The median house price in Adelaide is now around $590,000. The median house rental price in Adelaide is around $420 a week. When oh when oh when is the government going to do something about young people ripping off the older generation by providing such a tiny return on their rental houses? While the average rental house may cost less than the median house price, it is still a travesty. I don’t care how the government does it, just so long as people I don’t like get less money, and people I like, which is mainly just me, get more.

  17. @Ronald Brak

    How does someone on a median wage get a median house to rent out?

    Why not sell it and let a family of workers live in it as long as they want with all the benefits of security of tenure?

    Notice how capitalists supposedly wingeing about low returns on housing from rent never mention capital gain.

    Here is the 2016 situation in Adelaide Adelaide 2016

    Notice too that median house prices in Adelaide are $490 K, not $590 K.

  18. @Ronald Brak

    How does someone on a median wage get a median house to rent out?

    Why not sell it and let a family of workers live in it as long as they want with all the benefits of security of tenure?

    Notice how capitalists supposedly wingeing about low returns on housing from rent never mention capital gain.

    Here is the 2016 situation in Adelaide Adelaide 2016

    Notice too that median house prices in Adelaide are $490 K, not $590 K.

  19. Howe does someone on a median wage get a median house to rent out? Through negative gearing of course. I’ve done it, my whole family has done it, all my friends have done it… But for some strange reason I just can’t understand rents are really low at the moment. Clearly it’s due to young people ripping us off. And don’t tell me they don’t have money. I saw a young person pay six dollars for a cup of coffee just the other day.

  20. That really is low, Ronald. Young people using their pathetically low incomes as a excuse to pay low rent, and then have the hide to attempt to have some kind of a life for themselves with real coffee.

  21. @Ronald Brak

    So someone on a median wage gets a second median house by, in effect, getting someone else to pay their mortgage – a renter and other tax-payers?

    How come society is organised this way? Those with capital get borrowing capacity which they use to suck more assets to themselves by using other peoples (ie renters) hard won wages.

    This is obnoxious.

  22. @Ivor
    This surfeit of capitalist goods from overseas ‘with nowhere to be put’ might hold some explanation for the ‘phenomena’ to me of mushrooming self storage facilities. Has anyone documented the rise and rise of these soul-less buildings? People I know invariably proclaim that they are a temporary holding, but I doubt this is true judging from tv auction shows that climax with the revealatory lifting of the roller doors! Is it just a more sophisticated form of hoarding… given a capitalist imprimateur by being paid for?

  23. @pablo

    Yes, workers at the top of the global capitalist system are drowning in commodities while elsewhere workers live in crowded factory dormitories or shanties.

    The fact that we have this surfeit means that capital finds it almost impossible to invest anymore – even with negative interest rates as a prod.


  24. I predict that Trump will win rust-belt Ohio, based on Sean Trendes “missing white working class voters” thesis. Five Thirty Eight gives Kaisch a 60% probability of winning, no doubt based on the homeboy governor effect. The RCP poll average puts Trump 4% ahead. I can’t find any bookmaker giving odds on the Ohio REP primary.

    A Trump victory in Ohio would somewhat vindicate a US “Blue Labour” strategy. OTOH if he can’t win in Ohio I doubt he will get the REP nomination. So he needs to close the deal in Ohio if I’m to win my modest wager that he will be the REP nominee.

    Back in 2012 I was persuaded that Trendes analysis had shown that the conservative REP strategy of geeing up the white vote might buy US nationalists enough time to close the border before the globalists “elect a new people” strategy reaches a tipping point. After that’s it’s all over red rover for the Yankie-Dixie gringo as the US political culture morphs into a Norte American version of Brazil.

    It’s clear that Trump positioned himself in the REP primaries based on a political market analysis of this under served demographic: a populist nationalist appeal could drive up the poorer white vote in the REP column. Certainly enough to win the REP nomination although not enough to win the presidency.

    To win the presidency Trump will, in the post nomination period, have to perform what’s known as a “pivot” – i.e. betray his base – to broaden his appeal to the educated middle class. I suggest raising the specter of an AI Jobapocalypse. That oughta get their attention.


    ‘If there is hope,’ wrote Winston, ‘it lies in the proles.’
    If there was hope, it MUST lie in the proles, because only there in those swarming disregarded masses, 85 per cent of the population of Oceania, could the force to destroy the Party ever be generated.

  25. Further to Jack Strocchi @ 09 Mar 16 #30

    I finally found a betting site (Betfair) which offered odds on the Ohio REP primary. It’s actually pretty good value, not a bookie more a prediction market offering escrow service (in return for interest free loans?). Please gamble responsibly.

    Betfair were offering 3.2 this morning but Trumps odds have shortened to about 2.0 by this evening EST. I managed to put $200.00 on Trump at a range of odds between 3.2 and 2.8.

    Part of this swing of punting sentiment is based on Trumps now familiar turbo-charged turnout spike. NPR (03 Mar 16) reports the huge Trump groundswell that propelled his Super Tuesday victories. This seems to be coming from Sean Trendes “missing white voters”, the hard hat “silent majority” who appeared to have been overlooked by poll-driven psephologists like Nate Silver. (I try to blend intuitive ideology into my inductive psephology.)

    If voter turnout is any indicator of enthusiasm, this year’s GOP voters are way, way more pumped than 2012 voters were. Democrats, meanwhile? Their excitement seems to have dimmed since 2008.
    Last night, more than 8.5 million Republicans turned out to m in the 11 GOP Super Tuesday states that reported results. That suggests far more enthusiasm than the last time Republicans picked a nominee. In those same 11 states in 2012, turnout totaled only around 4.7 million.

    That makes this year’s turnout in those 11 states 81 percent higher than four years ago.

    Compare the sleepy DEM 2016 turnout down from the hopey-changey DEM 2008 highs:

    In the Dems’ 11 states reporting results from last night, turnout totaled only around 5.9 million — that’s around 2.6 million fewer people than came out in those states 2008, when Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama b in the middle of what would would be a long, hard-fought race.

    The DEMs turnout obviously benefits from Sanders charismatic campaign. If, as expected, Clinton II wins the nomination she’s going to have an uphill battle matching The Donald’s populist momentum. Her 2016 campaign slogan should be “Vote Hilary: A cure for insomnia”.

    The turnout variable is the Trump trump card and must keep DEM strategists awake at night. Plenty can happen – recession, terrorist attack, assassination attempt – between now and Nov 2016. All summer long I’ve been saying to my friends that Trump is like one of Napoleans lucky generals, with a field marshals baton well within reach.

  26. Further to Jack Strocchi 14 MAR 16 # 31

    But much of the late money is probably based on the complex psephologic algebra and ironic demographic dynamics that Trump is unleashing:. WND (13 MAR 16) reports on the the way Trump disparate,y benefits from REP dropouts and the late surge of white blue collar IND & DEM voters seeking REP registration:

    With Carson endorsing Trump on Friday, Trump stands to gain ground on Kasich, presuming that some Carson supporters who switched to Kasich might be persuaded by Carson’s endorsement to switch to Trump.
    On Friday, Reuters reported that Trump is likely to pick up votes in the Ohio primary from blue-collar Democrats.
    In Ohio, voters registered as independent can show up at a primary polling station and ask for either the Republican or the Democratic primary ballot, in contrast to a “closed” primary system in which voters are restricted to the party for which they are registered.

    On Friday, the Columbus Dispatch reported Mahoning County Republican Party Chairman Mark Munroe, a self-described die-hard Kasich supporter who campaigned for him in New Hampshire, is taking calls nearly every day from Democrats wanting to vote in the Republican primary.

    “And nine times out of 10, or 19 out of 20, you get the sense they are doing so because they want to vote for Trump,” Munroe told the Dispatch. “It’s been fascinating to watch.”

    “He’s getting Democrats to cross over,” Munroe said of Trump, “but he’s also getting a large number of unaffiliated voters – people who don’t participate in primaries.”

    The Columbus paper noted Mahoning County, a northeastern Ohio county that includes Youngstown, 8,639 people have asked for absentee ballots.

    Of those, 759 were Democrats asking for the Republican ballot and 1,053 were unaffiliated voters asking for the GOP ballot.

    “We could have 4- or 5- or 6,000 new Republicans in Mahoning County,” Munroe said. “Which would be a very significant number.”

    The Trump mo can only have gotten more jo from yet another Left-wing attack on his First Amendment free speech rights at the Chicago university rally. Obviously post-modern liberal DEMs have given up all presence at concern for liberty and popular democracy for that matter.

    The phrase “getting Democrats to cross-over” should send a chill down DEM Establishment spines. The last two REP nominees who achieved this were Nixon (1968/1972) and Reagan (1980/1984). It’s possible that Yankee hard-hats may be joining Dixie good ole boys in a REP red-neck faction. If this persists beyond The Donald it would warrant the term: “partisan re-alignment”.

    Despite this I have $100 on Clinton II as President. I predict that The Donald’s appeal to the hard-hats will not be enough to overcome the large college-educated bourgeois-bohemian bloc that will reluctantly come out so that the David Brooks of this world can sleep soundly. Plus there is a huge element of personality in his appeal, which cuts both ways.

    If it was up to me I would vote for a Trump-Sanders co-Presidency. Trump to nationalistically deal with foreigners. Sanders to social-democratically set domestic policy. Ahh, We can all dream.

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