There’s a lot of ruin in a country

So said Adam Smith a couple of centuries ago, and he will, I hope, be proved right, in the US, and elsewhere in the world. Trump and the Republican majority in Congress and (imminently) in the Supreme Court will, in all probability, repeal Obamacare, restore and expand the Bush tax cuts for the rich, stop action on climate change, overturn Roe v Wade, expand deportation and more.

On the other hand, there’s no sign that he will attempt to overturn marriage equality, and every likelihood of failure if he does try. Considering that, as of 2008, Obama and Clinton were still “evolving” on the issue, that’s an indication of progress that can’t be reversed.

On climate change, Trump can ignore the Paris agreement and appoint a climate denier to run the EPA, but he can’t stop the decline of coal-fired power or the disappearance of coal mining jobs. This is one of many areas where his promise to Make America Great Again is going to fall flat. As far as places like West Virginia are concerned, the big impact of Trump’s victory is to ensure that the Federal money that might have eased the transition away from coal won’t be coming. And, if the Chinese government is smart, they’ll be able to present themselves as the real leaders of the world on this issue (and not just this one).

Looking beyond Trump, what can be done, can, mostly, be undone. Tax cuts can be reversed, laws can be repealed, action on climate change can be accelerated. Of course, that requires big electoral victories and the Republicans will be doing their best to build up barriers to voting. But none of those barriers would be enough to offset a 5 per cent swing, and that could be achieved just by turning out more voters.

The political reality, however, is that the initiative is with the other side, not only in the US, but in the UK, Australia and much of Europe. The collapse of neoliberalism as a dominant ideology (though not yet as a policy reality), has so far favored the tribalist right rather than the still disorganised left. The tribalists now have the chance to prove that their policies can work, or be perceived to work. If Trump can create and sustain an illusion of restored national greatness, as Putin has done (so far) in Russia, it won’t matter much what the Democrats do. The same will be true in Britain if Brexit can be made to work, or at least be seen to work.

At least in the short term, there’s not much the left can do to influence this. But there’s lots to be done away from short-term politics, from organizing to protect the groups most vulnerable to Trumpism to working out long-term policy alternatives to neoliberalism.

160 thoughts on “There’s a lot of ruin in a country

  1. @Julie Thomas wrote on November 13th, 2016 at 08:30 | #77 :

    There were not ‘national borders’ in Australia prior to 1788 …

    I fail to see how Australia’s shoreline prior to 1788 was any less a border than it is today, in 2016. Within Austrlia, there were different Aboriginal nations, each occupying a different region of the Australian continent. How could the lines at which these regions adjoined not be considered ‘borders’?

    Julie Thomas continued :

    … and there were other people – not nations around us – who did not invade this country.

    The societies in those countries were not of the kind that conquered other lands, as they were in Europe.

    Julie Thomas continued :

    The need to control borders arose when western people developed an ideology in which they had the right and the obligation even to take over and use properly those not nations that had not developed such an aggressive and self-serving ideology.

    Of course borders were necessary to delineate a territory conquered by one colonial power, for example, France, from a territory conquered by colonial power, for example, Great Britain.

    Julie Thomas continued :

    Why do people want to cross borders? The same reason humans have always wanted to move around the planet. …

    The people in countries to which they wish to immigrate in such large numbers – the United States, Germany, Sweden, France, etc. have strongly objected. What right do the likes of Angela Merkel, Barack Obama and Stefan Löfven have to impose high immigration, in disregard of the best interests and expressed wishes of those they claim to be governing for?

    Julie Thomas continued :

    Why are they coming in such numbers? …

    They are coming in such large because their movement from Turkey, Central Asia and North Africa has been orchestrated by the multi-billonaire open-border fanatic George Soros. George Soros has also been revealed by Wikileaks to have funded the ongoing riots in America against President-elect Trump.

    Julie Thomas continued :

    … Because we invaded their land and took away their way of life. …

    ‘We’ did not invade their land. The ruling elites of England and other European powers invaded their lands. In England they did this after they had first stolen the lands of the common people their in the 17th century. The common people then had no alternative but to work in dark satanic mills and live in slums. Those who could not find work would ofen end up in prison. Many were to be subsequently transported to Australia as convicts.

    Julie Thomas continued :

    … How do we stop them? Make their countries liveable.

    By helping to start the wars against Iraq, Afghanistan, republics of the former Yugoslavia, Libya, Ukraine and Syria, Hillary Clinton has made these countries unliveable for millions. Thankfully, Syria is still holding out, but at a terrible cost. 400,000 have died so far including 80,000 Syrian soldiers.

    Unlike Australia and every country I know of that is, overtly or covertly, supporting the terrorist war against Syria, the Syrian government gives to all of its citizens, free education up to the tertiary level, free medical care and subsidised government housing.

    The Syrian government has done quite well at making itself ‘liveable’, without any ‘help’ from the West.

  2. Don’t hope for Obama or fear Trump – Edward Snowden chimes in on US elections and surveillance (includes one hour embedded video)

    The world’s most famous whistleblower, Edward Snowden, has addressed the public on the US election result urging people to think beyond a single person or a single election and take their future into their own hands.

    “We can not hope for an Obama and we can not fear a Donald Trump rather we should build it ourselves,” Snowden said about creating positive social change.

    Snowden, an NSA contractor fled the US in 2013 after he leaked classified documents from the National Security Agency (NSA), revealing details about its global surveillance programmes. He has been granted temporary residency in Russia.

  3. The 2012 Romney voters for Trump thesis just doesn’t account for the Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and
    Florida electoral votes. Pollster models did NOT anticipate the cross-over from disaffected working class Democrats– who supported Obama !!
    Fully 10% of Republicans did NOT vote Trump. Trump had help from Democrats.

  4. @Dale King

    ‘Working class’ Democrats?

    A majority of voters on annual incomes less than $50,000 voted for Clinton; if voters on annual incomes less than $50,000 had decided the election, Clinton would have won; Trump owes his victory to voters on annual incomes more than $50,000.

  5. The majority of voters PERIOD voted for Clinton. What matters is those critical portions of the swing states that tilted for Trump. The distribution matters ,not simple majorities. Running up the vote in San Francisco accomplished nothing. Yes , rural Democrats are not all globalists.
    Trump tapped into their anxiety much as Reagan did in 1980. The urban centers of the swing states did NOT abandon Clinton, excepting possible diminished black support-Obama not being on the ticket. The only thing that matters is Electoral College.

  6. @Ernestine Gross
    Your #100

    … globalisation without increasing income inequality within countries). This applies to the UK as much as it does to the USA (not to Denmark though). The former PM of Australia, John Howard, realised this problem too late in his last term in office.

    Now I seem to have completely missed this evidence that JWH could understand such matters and perhaps it puts him in a better light than I’ve considered him thus far. Do you perchance have a reference you can link me to, or could you expand a little on this observation ? Or maybe both of the above.

  7. The “under $50,000 voted Clinton” meme has been much quoted but it appears to be misleading.

    ‘Bloomberg’ (and others) analysed the figures (‘The Voters Who Gave Trump The Whitehouse’) and part of that showed:

    Trump delivered big vote totals in counties where the median income is between $25,000 and $30,000 a year. He received 52 percent of the vote in those counties, beating Clinton by nine points. Barack Obama won those counties by one point four years ago. Clinton did well in wealthier counties, but there simply weren’t enough votes in those counties to match Trump’s strength among less-affluent voters.

    Another part of that analysis:

    It shouldn’t be surprising that Clinton did well in the most educated counties, which are often urban areas and college towns. She won 55 percent of the vote in counties where at least 40 percent of the population has a college degree. But that actually lagged Obama’s performance from four years ago. Trump more than made up for that margin in the least-educated areas, winning 7 in 10 votes in counties where less than 20 percent of the population has a degree. That’s a nine-point improvement over Mitt Romney’s performance with that group.

  8. @GrueBleen

    Shortly after the outcome of the 2016 US election became known, Keating and Howard were interviewed on ABC TV (my memory has ‘7:30 report’ stored – hope it is right). John Howard said words to the effect that globalisation has brought benefits in the aggregate but these benefits were distributed very unequally such that some people were left behind (suggesting struggling – doing it hard – to me). The reference is recoverable with a little effort, which I leave to you. I do not recall the interview nor a narrow time span prior to the 2008 election but I clearly recall Howard having said words to the effects that not everybody has benefitted from the mining boom. (The minining boom is related to globalisation in the sense the China ‘opened up’, joined the ‘club’ in one sense or another and drove the mining boom in Australia to a large extent.) In my reading, Howard understood or learned to understand from observations that macro-economic variables alone (those the then Treasurer was so proud of their values) are not sufficient for economic policy, both in terms of design and in terms of performance assessment.

    The Reagan administration promoted multinationals to replace (largely, I suppose) government to government transfers aimed at reducing poverty in some countries (ie reducing the income and wealth inequality across countries).

    Setting aside the obvious nonsense implication of the term ‘globalisation’ (where did humans live prior to the coinage of the word?), multinational corporations (including trading companies) are the vehicle of ‘globalisation’ (forerunner Marco Polo!). International investment banks provide the financial web of the project ‘globalisation’.

    For a while the project ‘globalisation’ looked promising (exactly the period in the 1980s and early 1990s when I tried to publish a theoretical model of ‘partially segmented markets with multinational producers’ in the Arrow-Debreu general equilibrium framework) because “millions of people were lifted out of (absolute) proverty” (I am sure you came across this phrase) and, in a sense this phrase was based on observables. But reports came of “the working poor in the USA”. The Germans at the time believed ‘not here’ – well it took 25 years longer, not unlike in Australia, partly because the governments of both countries were slow, relative to the US and the UK, in implementing ‘reforms’ (see JQ on microeconomic reform in Australia), partly because of lucky other events. The wake-up call for everybody came with the global financial crisis. The penny obviously dropped for John Howard: Yes in aggregate ‘it works’ but not for everybody’ – is another way of summarising his insight, which IMHO is correct.

    Against the background of my theoretical model as well as empirical observations, Trump’s idea of lowering corporate taxes to attract corporations back to the USA doesn’t work and it is not only because ‘others will do the same’ (eg the current Australian government’s policy goal). My model doesn’t have a government sector at all (hence no taxes) and still there is what I call ‘unintended exploitation’ among people in ‘local economies’. That is, there are wealth transfers between local economies, which accountants wouldn’t be able to discover. A ‘country’ can consist of more than one ‘local economy’. (Why? too long to explain.)

    There is one thing I am very confident in asserting: The Mexicans didn’t cause the GFC.


  9. Dale King, D

    As I understand it, the evidence from past elections is that the probability that a voter will vote Republican falls with higher levels of education and rises with rising income. This means that if you define ‘working class’ as meaning people with the lowest incomes, they are the people most likely to vote Democrat, but if you define ‘working class’ as meaning people with the lowest levels of education, they are the people least likely to vote Democrat.

    I have not yet found any evidence to suggest that the 2016 Presidential election did not follow this pattern. The direct evidence is that voters on low incomes were more likely to vote Democratic than voters on high incomes, just as has been the case at past elections.

    Obviously the margin in the percentage of the total vote between the Republican candidate and the Democratic candidate was different in 2016 from what it was in 2012, both nationally and in individual States, and in some States (Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin) the sign changed. But ‘voters in Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin’ is not the same thing as ‘voters on low incomes’ or ‘voters with low levels of education’ or ‘working-class voters’. Knowing that the Republican candidate did better in specific States in 2016 than in 2012 doesn’t tell us with which groups of voters he did better with, and knowing that he did better than the Democratic candidate in specific States doesn’t tell us which groups of voters he did better with (except for a reductive case like ‘Trump did better with Pennsylvanians than Clinton, and better than Romney’).

    Clinton doing less well than Obama in counties with high levels of education is not the same thing as Clinton doing less well than Trump with low-income voters; and Clinton doing less well than Trump in counties with low median incomes is not the same thing as Clinton doing less well than Trump with low-income voters. Using the median income of the county as a proxy identifier for the incomes of individual voters is obviously less reliably informative than using direct information about the incomes of individual voters.

    Since Clinton did significantly less well than Obama in aggregate, the default expectation for any selected sub-group of voters is that Clinton did less well than Obama; the sub-groups where she did better than Obama should naturally be expected to be the exceptions. Therefore it’s only to be expected that Clinton did less well than Obama with low-income voters; that’s not the same as saying that she did less well than Trump.

  10. Trump is about as elite as you can get. He is a consummate salesman. And he will cost the USA dearly, should he get his way.
    * Deport 3 million “Mexicans.”
    * Build a wall to ringfence America.
    * Exit the Climate Change agreements ASAP.
    * Accelerate the extraction and export/use of fossil fuels.

    And plenty more. The third and fourth points are deliberate and fly in the face of the best available scientific evidence; therefore to go down this road is to expose the USA to legal action by other countries, boycotts, etc. Perhaps it is bluster, but so far it seems to be exactly what Trump is going to do. Trump doesn’t strike me as someone who likes to back down from a fight though.

  11. Trump is in the first instance a corporate businessman with apparent salesman qualities on top of it.

    Those among the readers who have mixed with corporate business people may agree when I say there is quite a bit of rough talk going on among them in a ‘fight’. If the deal turns out satisfactory at the end of a ‘fight’, these people face the public with a handshake and smiles and all the harsh words and accusations are forgotten (because the money accounts are o.k.).

    This method is not helpful in public life because, in contrast to corporations where the audience is limited to say the board of directors and possibly a few lawyers, the antagonists have no control over the memory of the listening public.

    Last week, the smh reported a group of pro-Trump students at Sydney University were removed from a mixed-sex party because some male Trumpers shouted: “Grab them by the pussy.” Now, where did they get this phrase from?

  12. I have in mind the Rust Belt Democrat. Union member. Former income good but static.
    Now struggling with economic uncertainty. Trump clearly appealed to a significant number of this demographic. They are working class , high school educated , and of FORMERLY above average income. Not in your naïve scheme at all. And they voted for Obama! Income levels don’t explain the swing states at all.

  13. @dale king

    … Not in your naïve scheme at all. …

    This is plainly inaccurate, since everybody is included in my scheme. On the other hand, not everybody is included in your scheme, and that’s what’s wrong with it.

  14. @Ernestine Gross
    Your #8 in part 2.


    Yes, definitely enough for me to be going on with pro tem. Though I think having been forcibly liberated from his PMship and also his seat most likely “helped” JWH see a few things a little more honestly. Just a suspicion of mine.

    However, one quibble:

    “…multinational corporations (including trading companies) are the vehicle of ‘globalisation’ (forerunner Marco Polo!).”

    Just an observation about times passed, the Silk Road and the Pax Romana courtesy of the Silkroad Foundation:

    After Chang Ch’ien’s (aka Zhang Qian) trip to the west, the regular traffic began along the Silk Road, on which goods – above all China’s silk – were carried across Asia, finally reaching the Roman Empire. Passing through land controlled by the Chinese, the Kushans, the Parthians, and the Romans, the goods were transferred from the caravans of one people to those of another, so that no single individual normally made the entire journey.

    Chang’s trips began around 138 BCE which is just a year or three before Marco was even a gleam in his mummy’s eyes.

    PS: “(where did humans live prior to the coinage of the word [globalisation] ?” Err, the Great Rift Valley in Africa, I do believe.

  15. I’m thinking, and hoping, that Trump is both a warning shot and a safety valve – don’t forget that with good policy the deplorables can change to adorables.

    I really don’t think that he is reincarnation of fascism, Hitler et al (bing* Godwins) – he has allowed a long ignored group to be heard.

    And if you believe in equality..

    Both sides of politics have been living off the dream for too long, now its time for others to have a ride.

    Of course if he doesn’t produce the goods it will be baseball bat time at the midterms.

  16. @Ernestine Gross
    Your #15 Pt 2

    Pleased to be able to partly return the favour occasionally. But truly wondrous, and vastly underrated (at least IMHO) was the Pax Romana and all that flowed from it.

  17. @dale king

    You can think about such a specific group all you want, but you can’t draw any conclusions about how they’ve voted or why on the basis of the data that’s available.

    For one thing, exit polls haven’t asked about 2012 voting, so we don’t know how many Trump voters had voted for Obama.

    And we can’t conclude that because they voted for Obama, they must be voting for Trump now because of “economic uncertainty”; you only need to read Zed Hogan’s anti-Mexican immigration screed to see that.

    What we can say is that, for the five states that make up the Great Lakes, the percentage of Democrats who voted for Trump ranged from five to 13 per cent, and all up would be about nine per cent, which is the same as the national average.

  18. @rog

    “…don’t forget that with good policy the deplorables can change to adorables.”

    Even if we circumscribe “good policy” to exclude anything that advances civil rights for the vast bulk of Americans who are not straight white males, it is quite clear that most of his supporters have no interest in good policy—which is why they voted for Trump. They aren’t interested in addressing climate change or inequality, improving access to higher education or providing public health insurance. Most want taxes on the wealthy lowered or kept the same.

    They want governments to do less, not more. They only decided they were against free trade when Donald Trump told them they were.

    They are interested in reducing immigration and crime, and keeping their guns. They are standard Republicans, as Professor Quiggin has pointed out.

    They are mostly bigots who are detached from reality—most think Obama is a foreign-born Muslim who has made the economy worse. What good policies are going to change that?

  19. For anybody who is interested in the restricted objective of a Democratic victory at the next Presidential election, and given the limitations of time, energy, and resources, I can’t think of a single reason for choosing to give priority to the strategy of seeking support from people who voted for Trump this time over the obvious alternative of seeking support from people who did not vote at all this time.

  20. The reason the world now has US president Trump is probably because there are a large enough cohort of people solely and above all else “interested in the restricted objective of a Democratic victory”. MSM are particularly included.

    For such people policy is secondary or even not a consideration at all. The “restricted objective” of partisan victory is everything.

    Ironically, that is the very reason for their failure.

    Australia now has the largest non Labor/Liberal type Senate in history as a result of such cultish partisanship.

  21. @D

    I have to agree with that analysis. In Australia the ALP and LNP demonstrate this same restricted objective. The goal is power. Real policy goals are non-existent. They merely pretend to have policies during the election. Trump is the same of course. He pretended to have policies during the election. Now he is President Elect he is jettisoning policies like there is no tomorrow. Actually, under him there is no tomorrow.

  22. From the point of view of which objective, and given the limitations of time, energy, and resources, is there reason to give priority to the strategy of seeking support from people who voted for Trump this time over the alternative of seeking support from people who did not vote at all this time? For which policies do you have a better chance of gaining support from people who voted for Trump this time than you do of gaining support from people who did not vote at all this time?

  23. It is too soon to truely understand what has happened in USA given that only around 50% of the adult population voted and less than 25% voted for Trump.

    People were led to believe that he would “Make America Great Again”. When this fails, and there is no imporovement in poverty, homelessness, jobs and minimum wages, the upsurge that temporarily benefited Trump will look elsewhere.

    The vote was a vote for change but this baton would have been better carried by Bernie Sanders. Trump is a cuckoo who has landed in someone elses nest.

  24. @Ivor
    Your #24 Pt 2

    there is no imporovement in poverty, homelessness, jobs and minimum wages,

    Who wanted any of those things ? Certainly not Trumpelstilskin’s supporters. And probably not a lot of Hillary’s supporters either.

    Perhaps it really, really is time to “Dissolve the people and elect another” ? Which is kinda what J-D is opting for (his #23), but will the “other people” be any better ?

    Epistocracy, anyone ? Assuming that there might, somewhere, be some “knowledgeable people” ready to take up the burden (not including Sanders).

  25. @GrueBleen

    You cannot make America Great Again if the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

    Poverty consists of homelessness, unemployment, working poor, and food stamps.

    You escape poverty if you have jobs and decent wages and conditions. This is Trumps promise but it was probably a dirty trick as he is now backtracking on almost everything.

    A liar in a campaign is a liar in office.

  26. “People were led to believe that he would “Make America Great Again”. When this fails, and there is no improvement in poverty, homelessness, jobs and minimum wages, the upsurge that temporarily benefited Trump will look elsewhere.”
    I really don’t think as harshly of Trump’s voters as that. They weren’t deceived. They believed he would make white America great again, and insofar as they cared about poverty they would be entirely satisfied if Trump made blacks and latinos poorer faster than he made whites poorer. They didn’t want money as much as they wanted dominance. They wanted their champion to say that white males were the masters now. Trump has said that, most recently by appointing Bannon to his White House Staff, and will say it over and over. People don’t want to achieve particular goals nearly as much as they want to believe in themselves. There’s no reason to believe that practical failure will have any effect whatsoever on voting. Bush won a second term after the (till that time, soon to be outshone) biggest debacle in postwar American history. That wasn’t what people cared about.

  27. @Ivor
    Your #36

    You cannot make America Great Again if the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

    Oh yes you can. Most of Trumpel’s supporters are all in favour of the rich getting richer because they like to “believe” that they – like that great self-made man Donald Trump – might just become rich some day.

    There’s hardly ever been a time in American history when anybody was much concerned – at least on any kind of consistent and continuing basis – about the poor. Just look at what happened to them in The Great Depression. And look what’s happened to the rich under every American presidency since at least Reagan’s.

    The best thing that ever happened for the American ‘poor’ was WWII and the 25-30 years following when, for just that short while, jobs were plentiful and wages were good, especially for the Baby Boomer generation. Other than that what has America’s “greatness” ever had to do with the poor ?

  28. “The themes of Trump’s campaign were vilification, revanchism, and revenge. What he won are the tools of repression and amnesty required to punish his scapegoats, and what his supporters won is the expectation that he will use them.”
    Brian Beutler nails it in TNR.

  29. The deporting of 3 million Mexicans will provide employment opportunities for Americans. But shouldn’t it also send the housing market plummeting, and kill construction work? That is an awful lot of empty houses.

  30. @GrueBleen

    Perhaps it really, really is time to “Dissolve the people and elect another” ? Which is kinda what J-D is opting for (his #23), but will the “other people” be any better ?

    I know that’s not what I wrote, and I know that’s not what I meant. I don’t know how you extracted that meaning from what I did write.

    Here’s what I did mean.

    I wanted the Democratic candidate to defeat the Republican candidate in this election, as I have wanted in past elections, and I expect to want the Democratic candidate to defeat the Republican candidate in the next Presidential election as well; it’s not my only desire, but it is one of my desires, and it happens to be a desire shared by many other people, so discussion of how it might be achieved is of interest to a lot of people (although probably not of interest to people who have the opposite desire, for Republican victories and Democratic defeats, or to people who don’t care either way).

    I observe a number of people making comments that suggest they think the key to future Democratic victories is to find ways to win support (or win back support) from people who voted for Trump (or the kind of people who voted for Trump), and the point I am making is that seems an elementary mistake; given limited time and resources, they are better devoted to winning support (or winning back support) from people who didn’t vote at all (or the kind of people who didn’t vote at all).

    Parties normally go into elections trying to attract support from voters, and they always make strategic choices about how precisely to target their appeal; I don’t understand how that is supposed to equate to the Brechtian idea of ‘dissolving the people’.

  31. @J-D
    Your #31

    I’m going to have to be very courteous here or ProfQ will dob me again for being ‘sarcastic’, so here goes:

    they are better devoted to winning support (or winning back support) from people who didn’t vote at all (or the kind of people who didn’t vote at all).

    Umm, so you are recommending that one “people” – those who did vote this time – aren’t the ones that Democrats should target. Instead, they should target a different “people” – those who didn’t vote this time. So, could that be considered, even just frivolously, as “dissolving the people and electing another” ?

    No, you’re right, it simply couldn’t be, could it. Enjoy your day, J-D.

  32. @GrueBleen

    So, could that be considered, even just frivolously, as “dissolving the people and electing another” ?

    I confess I did not consider the possibility that your remark was a frivolous one. I guess I don’t feel much like frivolity on this topic.

  33. @J-D

    It seemed to me that what you are proposing is that the people who didn’t vote for either candidate are looking for something that was not on offer in the last election and maybe understanding why they didn’t vote and what they would vote for would be a thing to do. Yes?

  34. @J-D
    Your #35

    Forgive my brazen disposition J-D but you are never frivolous about anything as far as I have seen and that’s basically why I addressed my remark to Ivor and not to you.

  35. I have not read all this thread but I do see that there has been quite a bit of comment on climate change which is something that worries me a lot. I really do not want to leave this planet to the cockroaches. And won’t they get a marvelous start to their era by chomping on the carcasses of 9 billion plus human corpses.

    More seriously, I know that, leaving out our new Senator Roberts [is it?], there are some very clever people who are climate science deniers. But being clever does not preclude people from being f-wits. Otherwise how can they maintain their position in the face of the evidence which has been very nicely summarised in the following article in the Guardian and the graph published by NASA.

    The links are:

    I intend to follow up to find the reason for that very nice cycle in CO2 concentrations that has been broken in recent times.

    in that classI wonder how anyone but an absolute f-wit can be a climate science denier [and I ]

  36. One of the things I do understand but find hard to accept is that we do not have massive demonstrations about the need to take action on climate change. Sure we have the occasional protest but nothing on the scale of the anti Vietnam war demonstrations back then when Jim Cairns seemingly got a debilitating bash on his head.

    Of course the Vietnam war issue was immediate and direct — it clearly placed the lives of the conscripted men at risk. Climate change is different — it is something that, at least until recently, was possibly uncertain, would come sometime in the future and with its impacts not necessarily obvious to everyone.

    I think we need much more direct activism. Logical research and learned articles are not read by most of the population and are easily dismissed or ignored by politicians. The media has not helped by giving the deniers equal time/space in the interests of balance ahead of reality. Also our politicians have not leveled with the population by not making it clear that there would be costs and it would be impossible to shield everyone from those.

    We need Vietnam war like protests. But one problem is that there are so many little groups with fingers in the pie and with their own very varied solutions it is hard to get concerted action.

    At the age of 73 I say we need a revolution because I do care about my children and their kids.

  37. Ken Fabian :
    Mm, seems I shot off my mouth too early; Australia has just ratified the Paris agreement! I’m genuinely surprised.

    Australia is also a signatory to the Refugee Convention…

  38. Ivor :
    @John Quiggin
    Yes, everyone concerned for the fate of humanity should have a close look at this.
    It is shown that the rate of increase of CO2 is increasing over time with some fluctuations due to volvanos and El Nino’s. These instances vary the trend in the short-term but the overall rise in growth rate is there for all to see.
    Here it is:×695.png
    And it is forecast to increase even further into the future.
    This is a one way track to a ecological catastrophe.
    If Le Pen, Hanson, and Trump get their way, it really is “game over”.

    A couple of points. First, this:

    Second, I’ve lost count of the number of times that I’ve said it, but even if the rate of annual atmospheric carbon dioxide increase drops to zero, we are still setting up the planet to warm several more degrees by the end of the century. This is untenable. It will be decades and perhaps even centuries before the rate becomes negative, and even if it happened sooner rather than later it would need to be strongly negative to make up for the climatic damage that’s been locked into the system.

    The number that really matters is the absolute concentration of carbon dioxide and its equivalents, and how this number does (or doesn’t…) stabilise and drop. And as it stands that number is wrong, and growing wronger every day.

  39. John Brookes :
    The deporting of 3 million Mexicans will provide employment opportunities for Americans. But shouldn’t it also send the housing market plummeting, and kill construction work? That is an awful lot of empty houses.

    Not to mention the effect of Mexico suddenly haveing an extra 3 million people thrown back into its mix…

  40. @Henry Haszler

    “I think we need much more direct activism”

    I agree. But not protesting in the streets. What is needed is to integrate in some way with the ‘leaners’ who are hurting.

    It shouldn’t be difficult to encourage confused people to think about the fact that they have been voting for trickle down for decades and now we are admitting that it hasn’t trickled down. Ask them why everyone is worried about those leaners when the story for so long has been that these are just people who made the wrong choices and failed to become lifters.

    People have believed the nonsense about self-interest and competition being the only way to prosperity and freedom. Now they are ready for a narrative that explains how it happened that as Loonpond points out today there is such a disconnect between the editorials in The Australian that claim to support those who have been the victims of trickle down and the advertising on the same front page that supports the blatant lying and pointless consumerism that goes with the trickle down ideology.

    My neighbours hate this consumerism but they mistakenly blame ‘the left’ for it and for the way their children have abandoned the values that were part of the Australian way of life that they want back. They need a clear discussion of how to make the link between free market capitalism and the marketing and propaganda that uses every one of the 7 deadly sins to twist our human needs into shallow and dysfunctional avenues.

    The way to get socialism started is to start at the bottom, get out among those who are being hurt by capitalism and show them that co-operation – and even co-operatives – can and do work to float everyone’s boat; that it is Capitalism and not the left that has taken our way of life and the jobs for our children and encouraged the rise of the disgusting greed, selfishness and corruption that we see so clearly in the Trump family.

  41. J.Q. has said we should call racism what it is. He is right. We should also call “alt-right” what it is, namely neo-f a s c i s m. It’s quite clear that Trump’s new chief strategist Steve Bannon is a
    neo-f a s c i s t.

    “One common definition of the term focuses on three concepts: the f a s c i s t negations of anti-liberalism, anti-communism and anti-conservatism; nationalist authoritarian goals of creating a regulated economic structure to transform social relations within a modern, self-determined culture; and a political aesthetic of romantic symbolism, mass mobilization, a positive view of violence, and promotion of masculinity, youth and charismatic leadership. According to many scholars, f a s c i s m—especially once in power—has historically attacked communism, conservatism and parliamentary liberalism, attracting support primarily from the far right.” – Wikipedia.

    The regulated economic structure referred to is corporate authoritarianism within capitalism. A system which pretends to be deregulated but which in fact sets up laws to protect corporate wealth and power and to attack workers. The deregulation removes checks and balances on capital but strictly regulates and reduces workers’ pay and rights plus the rights of the weak, the sick, the poor, the different and women.

    All this very much captures what the Trump movement is about.

    However, liberalism and even feminist liberalism failed to recognise the serious corruption of the Clintons. HRC was the wrong candidate for the job. Sanders might have stood a better chance but that is perhaps doubtful. I would have perforce voted HRC if I lived in the US, poor alternative though that was. The current economic system conditions politics heavily. It’s a bit of a catch-22. The politics can’t be seriously changed without changing the system (obsoleting capitalism) but this requires political acts. As I have said before, it’s when the system fails via its own weight and shortcomings (internal and external contradictions) that the time will be right for real change.

  42. @Julie Thomas

    I don’t know how easy or how difficult it is to get across the kind of message you describe; but in a US context I would expect it to be less difficult to sell to non-voters than to Trump voters.

  43. @Bernard J.

    You seem to have got confused over derivatives, levels and rates of change. You say that

    “even if the rate of annual atmospheric carbon dioxide increase drops to zero, we are still setting up the planet to warm several more degrees by the end of the century.”

    and then

    “The number that really matters is the absolute concentration of carbon dioxide and its equivalents, and how this number does (or doesn’t…) stabilise and drop.”

    But if the rate OF annual atmospheric carbon dioxide increase drops to zero, then, by definition the bsolute concentration of carbon dioxide must stabilise. This is just saying the same thing in two different ways.

  44. @J-D

    I wouldn’t have any idea how to gauge the US voters and what they are looking for. But people are people and I think if one is a ‘real’ leftie one believes that everyone has the capacity to come to a rational conclusion when we are in a context in which emotional responses are minimised and factual explanations and arguments are presented to them.

    I’m only able to comment with any confidence on the way the local right wing voters I know are responding to ‘lefties’ and I’m not convinced that even the Pauline Hanson voters believe that Trumpism is the answer or that the left is evil.

    Utopian is the worst insult I have heard but some people walk away offended even though they are for 18C and not allowed to be offended, saying “I’m not listening to this!”. The other core argument against my ideas about bottom up socialism is the claim that people are not intrinsically altruistic or decent.

    I think Pauline’s head will explode or her hat won’t fit, if she gets any more big headed. I’m not good at subtle humour but my neighbours think that is funny especially when I remind them that was what our parents used to say to us when we were getting too ‘big for our boots’.

    All those old sayings are a way that I try and remind people about the things that were really part of our Australian way of life. The tall poppy syndrome was not all that dysfunctional when the poppies were ‘up themselves’.

  45. @Julie Thomas
    I suppose you and I are approaching the problem from different ends, or at least different points in the process of policy change.

    You would start at “the bottom” to build an understanding of and consensus for a different approach to things. Fair enough but that takes a very long time. I am concerned to get action now and for that the politicians have to see people are serious and determined.

    I suppose in the end our approaches are in fact mutually supportive. Without a good measure of consensus we won’t see the mass demonstrations needed to get people to understand climate change is real, it carries costs of one kind or another and they can’t ignore it which will then force our “leading from behind” politicians to get off their mental bums and do something effective.

    On the point of effective climate policies I’ve seen nothing to question the economic analysis that indicates that cap and trade policies provide the most effective, least cost approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions required to stabilise the climate. Sure, sensible and enforced regulations and standards will also help.

    Given all that I wonder if anyone has told the Hazelwood power workers who are about to lose their jobs – and the AGL shareholders who will take a capital loss — that with a cap and trade system the workers might keep their jobs for a bit longer.

    Sure the cost of base-load electricity would need to rise to cover the cost of the pollution permits Hazelwood would need to buy. But that would flow into higher prices for renewables which would stimulate investment and jobs in that sector.

    And just for the record, this argument abstracts from the changes in electricity prices we have already seen and whether those price changes were the result of the carbon tax or of industry regulation which made it profitable for power companies to invest in their poles and wires.

  46. Julie Thomas :
    people are people

    Unfortunately this is that rare beast, a false tautology. People are constituted in large part by their culture: societies manufacture people. Corporate capitalism is motivated to ensure its people are installed with false beliefs about their basic nature (the individualist satisfier of wants, via politicians’ predigestion of “economics”), and with the desires useful to it (for more goods and services, via corporate propaganda, aka marketing).

    Which is not to say that these processes of formation are entirely deterministic, but they run very deep, and mutate slowly without a powerful opposing force. Bottom-up change won’t come without substantial chaos and suffering to prompt it.

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