Monday Message Board

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

If you would like to receive my (hopefully) regular email news, please sign up using the following link
You can also follow me on Twitter @JohnQuiggin, at my Facebook public page   and at my Economics in Two Lessons page

35 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. Re today’s article on adani.
    Can you update readers on the current massive Turkish coal mine expansion and how it might play out against adani starting or not?

  2. Thomas, as far as I am aware, Turkish coal is all lignite and so will not be exported. In this respect what happens in Turkey has no bearing on Adani’s plans. But what Adani is hoping is that Australian governments will be stupid enough to subsidize coal production as the Turkish government does. That was not an unreasonable hope given the behaviour of the Coal-ition but it is looking like a distant hope now. So Adani is in the uncomfortable position of requiring subsidies but being unable to directly ask for them in the current political climate.

    But while Turkish coal won’t be exported, it’s also reasonable to point out that Australian coal may not be imported into India as they have stated they intend to end all coal imports. From Adani’s point of view the mine requires subsidies from Australia to make money while from Australia’s point of view the mine requires Adani’s influence to guarantee an Indian market. I guess Adani is finding his influence isn’t as influential as he thought it was.

  3. Does anyone have any insight into the grievances of the Paris rioters? I’ve searched online but can’t see any consistent or useful analysis.

  4. Boconner, economic growth has been very low in France since 2007 and there has been limited improvement in living standards since then. If they had decided not to have a grinding recession as Australia did their GDP per capita would currently be roughly equal to Australia’s, but since they decided to go the grinding recession route they have ended up considerably worse off than us. While France fared better than other parts of Europe where people were pointlessly forced to suffer lowered standards of living, people still aren’t happy about it.

  5. It’s relative poverty (rising inequality), within a general setting of social and economic decline. The official unemployment rate is 9.3%. A lot of workers are on very low wages and face a precarious month to month existence.

    The EU’s neoliberal, austerity policies are wrecking France, just as they have wrecked Greece and large regions of Spain, Italy and Ireland. Behind all this, the world, including Europe, is reaching the limits to population and economic growth, which adds another layer of problems.

  6. JQ, you must get tried of writing the same stuff ( “I’ve just been invited to make a submission to a Senate inquiry into TAFE in South Australia.” in Reviving Tafe Dec 8, 2017 ) with even more evidence and then get this…

    “$3 billion hole man” ( former  NZ Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce ) will be inviting you to submit to Australia’s “Familiar sounding VET evaluation ideologically-driven restructuring report” ( delivered jit before scomo’s 2019 budget ). Orwell knew the prime ministers dept (and Michaelia) would say this: ”
    “Mr Joyce was the architect of significant reforms to the apprenticeship and industry training system in New Zealand.”

    JQ said “Rather than conduct a post-mortem on the departed, it is instructive to look at some of the survivors.”
    This post mortem, when given to scomo etal, it will turn into vet-uni Frankenstein. Foi on 2019 budget development papers would reveal Libs vet-uni funding plans now I’d bet.

    “The ideologically-driven restructuring experiment embarked on by Unitec’s previous executive leadership team, with the blessing of former Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce, is one of the main reasons why current Education Minister, Chris Hipkins has been forced to dissolve the institution’s Council and appoint a Commissioner in its place.”

    Click to access Blind-Faith-Deconstructing-Unitec.pdf

    A student comment on the results of Unitec, New Zealand and CMC Academy (Tata 51%?) India joint venture private training company in India; “They will collect the fees including placement in the very begining by forcing you to the core and they will collect all your information from you so that after we got placed with our own effort they will post your name in their notice boards as if they have placed you to cheat other new customers”
    (Bonus for finding out beneficial owners and distributions.)

    …”During his first four years on the job Joyce cut more than $60 million from regional and urban training centres, according to New Zealand’s Tertiary Education Commission data….
       Over the same time period, Joyce oversaw an increase in funding for privately owned training centres by more than $23 million.”…
    “The real cost of his cuts is a $3 billion shortfall over the 10 years just gone,” Grey told BuzzFeed News. “A $3 billion hole… we’re never going to fill that. That’s where the strain on staff and students comes. He chose to keep the budget flatlined but it cost more and more each year to run the sector.”
    Figures from the New Zealand Treasury confirm the Key’s government budget left the sector more than $3 billion underfunded by not increasing year on year expenses in line with CPI.”…
    …”When asked about Joyce’s appointment in Senate Question Time on Thursday, vocational education and skills minister Michaelia Cash said Australia’s TAFE sector was “world renown”.

    And I must note both the Guardian and SMH convey little of the above. Press release almost. You have to read between the lines and hear the dog whistles.
    “KPMG proposed taking the politics out of the pricing of tertiary education by setting up an independent authority to determine the “appropriate price” for teaching and set the maximum amount of student contributions that can be levied.”

    We really don’t learn (haha groan). This statement by kpmg “and set the maximum amount of student contributions that can be levied.” Vet monetisation -> merge into uni + student loans = usa student loans. 

       And further down smh lets kpmg make it sound as though all Labor fault for uncap of fees led to $1.2bn loans to “unscrupulous providers”,  Is this correct?

       And they try on this statement; “under a bold plan for a complete federal takeover of tertiary education – including state-run Tafe colleges – proposed by advisory firm KPMG.”

    Here finally is “-$3b hole” man:
    “”…the sector has to be accountable to them,” he said.”…
    “…admitted his understanding of the sector in Australia “is not long or detailed” but said “we have to change the way people think about vocational education. It shouldn’t be a second chance education. It has to be foundational learning.”

    Foundational learning? I thought if you didn’t have foundation(al) learning you wouldn’t be at tafe or uni as you would be still asking “and how do I actually DO that” after the lecture (been there). What is -3bn mans’ definition of FL. Here’s one; “…build on their foundational and academic competencies, while preparing them for further education/training and/or employment.”

    The comments by Cash and kpmg are trolling. Like me, yet I have not come to acceptance as yet as this is going to seriously effect my child. The children currently striking from school re climate change had better read up on this as they will soon inherit a “new and improved” vet-uni (new word?) debacle. I will await JQ’s knowledgable analysis of ‘VETUNI’.

    “Former Finance Minister Steven Joyce also resigned from Parliament. The Novopay debacle, a costly copyright infringement case, a flying dildo and the fictitious $11.7 billion hole just a few controversies Joyce will be remembered for.” The National Party is a train wreck full of factions, infighting and political lethargy. As more of National’s rot is uncovered, an increasing number of rats will jump off their sinking ship.”
    Sound familiar?

    Submission guidelines:

    I would appreciate to see a suggested submission here please. My incredulity at the dejavu and potential Frankenstein vetuni will soon give way to rationality and a proper response.

  7. boconnor, unmentioned in Iconoclast’s NYT link, I hear via ABC that for may people in the regions running a car is a necessity. Public transport, let alone mass transit, is allegedly not a viable option for many. Previous French governments have heavily backed diesel fuelled cars on supposed economic, environmental, and health grounds. French car manufacturers were ‘persuaded’ to sell mostly diesel models. Today the grounds for prior support of diesel have evaporated, particularly that of public health. Allegedly in response, the Macron government has now introduced a heavy diesel fuel tax to get diesel off French roads. This has heavily hit the already stretched personal finances of.regional people and triggered an uprising they’ve taken to Paris.

  8. The French riots are a classic Poujadist, which is to say right wing lower middle class, tax revolt.

    They are protesting against fuel taxes which are a good thing for both economic and environmental reasons.

    Jean-Luc Melenchon, who heads what passes for the French left these days, opportunistically supports the rioters, which shows, again, what a clown he is.

  9. Why on earth would a union seek to deny Woolworths the right to offer workers the opportunity to work on Xmas Day at penalty rates? There is no compulsion and if enough workers decline the offer then Woolworths states that stores will not open. It is difficulty for me to understand how the union cannot in this case be seen to simply be reducing the welfare of its worker-members.

    Authoritarian paternalism.

  10. harryclarke

    Christmas is short for Christ’s Mass, and the union involved, the SDA, is big on Mass, on Christmas and every other day, preferably several times per day.

    It’s hard to know what to think about this one. One the one hand, Christmas Day is a public holiday, so any attempt by employers to turn it into a normal working day should be resisted. On the other hand, Christmas is the epitome of white imperialist culture, with a good helping of neo-liberalism into the bargain, so any attempt to undermine it should be supported. It’s hard to figure out the correct line sometimes.

  11. How about leaving th decision to work up to the individual worker? Or are they too stupid or immoral to make this judgement themselves?

  12. harryclarke

    Individual rights are a bourgeois construction. (It is well known that Thomas Paine’s The Rights of Man was a proto-neo-liberal tract.) The rights of the collective are supreme, though in this case they could go either way.

  13. @Smith9

    The protests in France is not due to the fuel tax which was already in place for more than a decade. The article in Ikonoclast’s comment, along with Svante and Ronald’s comment underlies the main reason for the protests – failure of the EU in delivering improvements in living standard across all income classes. The increase in fuel tax is merely a trigger, especially for regions where public transport is inadequate.

    Europe has been the forefront of environmental action and the media outlets are again, playing the dumb-down political rhetoric of blaming a policy which is linked to environmental action for what is fundamentally an inequality protest. This is not just the right-wing media which have always been against environmental action, but also the europhile left-wing media (Guardian for example) which wants people to think that all that is wrong is due to xenophobic and anti-environmental cranks, not the EU itself.

  14. Petrol is about $2.23 a litre in France. This may seem high to us but it is actually cheaper to drive the average car one kilometer in France than in Australia thanks to their much higher average fuel efficiency.

  15. Actually, I should mention that I don’t know if the fuel efficiency figure I used is a real one or a pretend one. European fuel efficiency figures can be off by a third. Australian figures can also be considerably off. Note that under Australian consumer law you are entitled to remedy which can be a repair, replacement, or refund if a product doesn’t do what the people selling it to you said it would. This applies to household vehicles.

  16. Macron “has buckled”. The fuel tax increase is now suspended for 6 months. If the increase was due to environmental concerns why was the increase fully compensated by introducing a diesel excise refund? More of the poor subsidising the business interests of the rich?

  17. Rubbish, Harry Clarke. Retail workers have next to no bargaining power. Wage theft, unpaid overtime, sacking juniors before an adult wage becomes payable etc is rampant. Workers will feel under pressure to work. It is naive or dishonest to suggest otherwise.

  18. Its naive and dishonest rubbish to offer views on issues without any thought as to the facts. These are individual offers to workers that they can accept or reject. How can the workers be advantaged by being even denied such offers?

  19. Harry, the reality of casual labour is if you knock back shifts, you tend to find your shifts get cut back. Employees will be pressured to work on Christmas Day, regardless of whether they’d choose not to.

  20. Re France: Macron is trying to meet some worthwhile goals (reduced pollution, climate) by simple price manipulation. Trouble is, this takes no account of systemic interconnections, and is being tried in a far less docile community than, eg the UK – where Thatcher’s similar policies trapped small town, rural and old industrial life in a cycle of decay and despair. Rural and small town France is poorer, more car dependant and more attached to community than the big cities. The tax, on top of other rises and the withdrawal of services, hits hard. Couple this with the general – correct – perception that policies favour the rich and voila – riots.

    One former minister is said to have advised that, if you wanted to reach these goals, subsidies, direct provision and control would be the way to go. A recipe with more success over the centuries than price, but not one suited to the age, it seems.

  21. I was in France over the weekend. The French people I met were as much at a loss as the pundits to explain the violent reaction to a small policy shift.

    My guess: this is the first protest movement against the energy transition, now taken on board by the political class. Rural Frenchmen won’t be major losers like coal miners, but they aren’t getting the same love (and rural Frenchmen expect to be privileged). The second-hand value of diesel cars has crashed. I think there is also a lot of unease about the electric future. The vehicles are still expensive. Many people don’t accept the technooptimist line of enthusiasts like me that battery prices will continue to slide, breaking below unsubsidised parity within five years.

    The fuss will blow over. Unstructured protests always do. Contrast Occupy Wall Street with the focused Black Lives Matter.

  22. How can the workers be advantaged by being even denied such offers?

    Argument-from-incredulity expresses your opinions effectively but it doesn’t actually help you learn where-if-any your mistakes are. I mean, we get that you don’t understand/agree, but we got that posts back: we’re now at the “how can/can this disagreement be bridged” stage, and for that we need to understand your basis for your position and you need to understand, to try to comprehend the conceptual framework and understanding, that lead us to this conclusion you find incomprehensible.

    And, well, your shouting “I don’t understand! it makes no sense!!”… that doesn’t actually help you understand, does it? You should do the things that help you get the results you want, obviously: what do you want?

    [it’s about second-order and structural effects: collective-action problems and coordination frameworks for solving same, in environments where not everybody understands that they’re in a collective-action problem. It’s a pretty standard regulatory situation]

  23. It is not a collective action problem. What are the coordination issues? Noises but no resolution.

  24. @James Wimberley

    Public reactions to fuel price changes are psychologically interesting. They seem to be very unpredictable and often not at all proportionate to the real-world impact of the changes. I still recall back in 2003, when the petrol price in Australia first hit $1 per litre at the bowser, there was a massive public outcry that prompted the Howard government to abolish petrol price indexation at considerable cost to the public purse. Then just three or four years later, the price as over $1.65 per litre, and no-one was complaining about it at all.

  25. Unpredictable? Howard had introduced a regressive tax on the working class, including taxing the excise on car fuel, and reduced taxation for the rich. Not so different to the recent Macron triggers in France of removing the solidarity tax on wealth (impôt de solidarité sur la fortune, ISF) and substituting a personal fuel tax.

  26. @Svante
    Apologies, I now realise that petrol hit $1/litre in 2001, not 2003 as I said before.
    My point was that the fuel price point that caused an outrage was arbitrary. A much higher price a short time later did not cause a peep. I take it that you’re suggesting the outcry against petrol reaching $1/litre was essentially an outcry against the GST (notwithstanding that the GST did not cause the price increase). Given the timing, you may well be right about that.

  27. (Not deliberately hogging the mike, just lots of news and stimulating comments)
    Re gilets jaunes and Katowice miners. Simon Wren-Lewis has a good post up on economic geography. Capsule: cities have been doing well in the knowledge economy, towns have been stagnating. The gilets jaunes come from towns.

    Germany, especially the south, has many prosperous small towns based on Mittelstand manufacturing: an admirable model, but it’s not clear it can be extended to services.

    The Mittelstand is supported technologically by the large and effective Fraunhofer network in innovation. IP is shared.

  28. According to the ABC, the ALP has won 56 Lower House seats, the Greens 3, the Lib Nats 26 and independents have won 3. In the 40 seat Upper House ALP 18, Greens 1, Fiona Patten 1, Lib Nats 10 and Others 10.

    The Vic ALP is proposing heavy penalties including jail time for employers who cheat workers and they will make it much easier for workers to recoup unpaid money. From Premiers’ website:

    “Employers who deliberately underpay or don’t pay their workers will face up to 10 years jail under new laws to be introduced by a re-elected Andrews Labor Government.

    Too many Victorians are being exploited by unscrupulous employers, with the Fair Work Ombudsman recovering millions of dollars in unpaid wages and entitlements for workers every year.

    Under the proposed new laws, employers who deliberately withhold wages, superannuation or other employee entitlements, falsify employment records, or fail to keep employment records will face fines of up to $190,284 for individuals, $951,420 for companies and up to 10 years jail.

    The new laws will also make it faster, cheaper and easier for workers to get the money they are owed by their employer through the courts. For claims of up to $50,000, court filing fees will be lowered, claims will be heard within 30 days and court processes will be simplified.”

    Hopefully every state Labor government will commit to introduce similar laws, or even better, the federal Fair Work Act 2009 will be amended by a Shorten led ALP government to incorporate these changes.

  29. @ Harry Clarke

    Under the Fair Work Act 2009, workers do not have an unfettered right to refuse to work on a Public Holiday.

    The big supermarket chains are soulless meat grinders. If upper management want work done at a particular store on Xmas morning, the store manager will be under pressure to make sure that happens. That pressure will filter down.

    It is naive to think that a casual worker can say “no” to a “request” to work on Xmas Day without fear given they have no guarantee of ongoing employment and can be easily replaced.

    Even us atheists generally place a high value on Xmas Day.

  30. Then you are saying that Woolworths is lying. They claim the choice is completely free and that if enough workers decline they simply will not operate the store. You would want top be sure of your facts if you wish to indulge this union-driven paternalism. I know at least one worker who would be happy to get the penalty rates for 5 hours work.

  31. harryclarke

    I think you are being a little naive here. Woolworths’ corporate HQ might be completely genuine when they say that choice is free, but (I know for a fact) they put a lot of pressure on their regional managers to deliver sales, who in turn put a lot of pressure on their store managers (who in the hierarchy of supermarket companies can be thought of, at best, as foremen). It’s not a big leap to think that the store managers will put the hard word on their employees, who will feel pressured to say yes.

    Of course it may be that some workers would be happy to take the money. It’s possible for more than one thing to be true.

  32. @ Harry Clarke

    I base my opinion on what family members including one ex-store manager have told me. Admittedly, they all worked for Coles but I’ve been told Coles and Woolies have much the same culture.

    Sometimes paternalism, eg. compulsory seatbelts, delivers a net gain.

    As to unions, please compare living standards and labour conditions in countries with traditionally strong unions with countries that have traditionally had weak unions. Is a blue collar worker or low skilled white collar worker better off in Australia or the US? Truly, there is no comparison.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s