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

63 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. Worth repeating imho.

    Behooved, Bill & billionaires, and boiled, Blair & blood stained! Big. Buying “Winners Take All”

    Anand Giridharadas. ‘We’re all passengers in a billionaire hijacking’ says the critic who has the world’s richest people buzzing
    “…but I think again, what you need in the moment that we happen to be in, it behooves us just as much if not more on making it harder to do something bad. It seems to me that making 5,000 or 10,000, or even 20,000 companies do good, better, or certify themselves as doing better, pales in comparison to the effect that you’d have making it illegal to ruin the climate, making it illegal to employ people in ways that drive them into hunger when they work 40-hour weeks.”

    Cory doctrow: “Anand Giridharadas is the Aspen Institute Fellow and former McKinsey consultant whose book Winners Take All is a must-read indictment of the way that charitable activities are used to launder the reputations of billionaires who have looted and boiled our planet, amassing titanic fortunes while starving the public coffers, and still retaining sterling reputations and massive influence thanks to the trickle of funds they release through “philanthropy.”
    In a new Business Insider interview, Giridharadas reflects on Davos (see his remarks in advance of the event) where Bill Gates called him a communist and Tony Blair dismissed his critiques with a wave of his blood-stained hands.

    Anand Giridharadas. “Did @BillGates call me a Communist at #Davos? He was asked about my critique of plutocrats.  
    [Bill Gates]
    “If people think Communism works better or something, I don’t know…The people who suggest there’s an alternate system, I’ll just respectfully disagree.”

  2. Funny how the MUPpets story sank without trace.

    I thought it an astonishing and disturbing example of misuse of power and the more so for what seems to me and more tertiary institutions having recourse to rule by fiat on ideological and commercial matters, pertaining to accountability.

    Very few commentators have found the demise of Louise Adler worthy even of comment, but It was a relief to listen to Laura Tingle remarking quite seriously on the dirty deeds done dirt cheap aspects of something IPA ish that may have related to the suppression of information concerning the fall of an eminent cleric whose name we must scarce dare mention…for whom it tolls.

  3. It’s not news that old media companies, struggling against digital competition for advertising and with high legacy overhead costs, have been shedding journalists. But now new digital news publishers are struggling too, against the mighty and seemingly unstoppable Facebook and Google. Journalists might soon end up like blacksmiths and farriers, a profession that once existed but does no more.

  4. And the really big recent Australian events which nobody on this blog seems to be mentioning?

    1. Hottest January in Australia since records began.
    2. Murray-Darling record fish die-offs
    3. S.A. Royal Commission finds Murray-Darling Authority acted unlawfully.
    4. Unprecedented bush fires this summer in Qld and Tasmania.
    5. Record floods in Townsville and environs.

    Going back a few years, half the Barrier Reef dies and there was s world record die-off of 7,000ha of mangroves over 700km of Gulf of Carpentaria coast. One can easily find other frightening firsts and records on the internet.

    This paints a clear picture of the real and present commencement of runaway climate change in Australia and the world. At the same time there is near complete inaction by the nations of the world on climate change. Catastrophic climate change is now locked in by accumulated emissions to date and highly probable emissions given our complete failure to do anything substantive to date.

    As well as emissions mitigation, we are now going to have to adapt all our infrastructure as well. For example, many homes which are flooded should simply never be repaired as they will only flood again soon. It would be better for the state to buy up such homes in the worse hit areas and suburbs and recreate flood plains or even create new “flood parks”.

    In the (not so) long run, our houses and infrastructure will have to retreat to high ground away from floods and even underground to escape deadly heat and bush-fires. Grazing and agriculture will collapse. Australia is going to become a hell-hole where even 25 million will struggle to survive.

  5. Ikon, the mentality is described in the olf folk tale “The Goose That Laid The Golden Egg”.

    What do you reckon, reincarnation is the dominant mode post death and we are parachuted back into the mess we have caused or permitted to suffer the consequences of laziness or complacency at best;m malice at worst.?

  6. I have just scanned the recommendations contained in the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking Superannuation and Financial Services Industry Final Report and now understand that the gust of wind that I felt as the report was released was actually a collective sigh of relief from the banks. But what do I know? I was only in the industry for 47 years.

  7. Hayne has delivered the smackdown on NAB Chairman Ken Henry, whose performance in the royal commission witness box breathed new life into the word hubris. Henry should fall on his sword, but of course he won’t.

  8. Following on from iko, there’s a narrower question of the way the nedia covers environmental disasters. Long report here in The Guardian on the Townsville floods: *****
    The words “climate change” occur once. They are literally the last two words in the report. I doubt if it is any better in Australian media.

    The impression created is that floods, droughts, wildfires and dam collapses are acts of God just like earthquakes and tsunamis. A responsible media would join up the dots and put the climate link in the first paragraph. “Record-breaking monsoon rains, supercharged by human-driven clinate change, caused devastating floods in Townsville as rescue srdbives struggled to evacuate thousands of residents”.

  9. Since readers need some cheer, here’s good news from China on EVs: 180,000 sold in December, 1m in 2018. YOY growth was 70%, market share 4.2% for the year, a staggering 8% in December. This is now unstoppable.

    One charming side-effect of the revolution is that red double-decker electric buses are now appearing on the streets of Xian.

  10. By the way, thanks Prof Quiggin for including the Guardian piece on the MUPpets saga, it is a polite version on what I surmised had taken place, not that I am saying there is anything IPA-ish as to it.

    I tried to get a conversation up on it at another blogsite; AIM, but not many seemed much interested, but it has me uneasy and that is why I am grateful for the inclusion of the Guardian article, which I missed as with many at the Grauniad, for its usual curious presentation of its content.

    It is why I wonder if Ikon, an astute observer identified over time as to substance and content, may have missed the damage to our intellectual and informational ecology through authoritarianist neolib and privatisation type policy and narrow commercial self-interest from competitors, similar to what has happened at the ABC, re Murdochite dumbing down of msm that leads to the “disappearing” of the critical issues that poster mentioned.

  11. If you are refused a loan or have your loan repayments increased or fail to make repayments and have to suffer the consequences – you blame it all on the banks.

    When the bank valuation on your collateral fails to agree with the ‘market’ – you blame it on the banks.

    If you can get a touch more % on your deposit or save a few dollars on your credit – you quickly switch providers.

    When you have to fill out numerous forms, supply all sorts of details just to open an account – it’s both time wasting and unnecessary red tape and an invasion of privacy.

    Everybody hates banks, it’s a national sport.

  12. PS on Chinese electric cars. The sales in China of mainstream ICE cars fell 16% in December (not stated if this was YoY or from the previous month). It’s a sign of peaking and decline, though not yet proof. There is expert talk, reported by the solid FT, that the world may have passed peak ICEV sales in 2018, an important milestone. There are many more such to reach before the last fossil-fueled car or truck is off the roads, but we may be able to have a modest celebration with budget cava later this year.

  13. Sorry Rog, just watching one of the banking gurus on ABC teev and listening to him talk about the refusal of the public to self educate on the banks.

    This bugs me, where is the service component? Can’t we hope to even figuratively walk down the street without being mugged as a matter of principle?

    ABC also pointed out the number of bank workers on stress leave due to management thuggery, the culture is stuffed and why should THEY not be forced to a culture change rather than workers and the public in a so-called civil society?

  14. Like all boundaries issues, arguments surrounding Melbourne University Press are not straightforward. I baulked at MUP publishing books about Mick Gatto and Chopper Read thinking those lucrative titles could have been money spinners for private (Melbourne) entities like Black Inc, Scribe and Text. When I read the MUP book on Michelle Payne, I thought differently. Ms Adler had shown editorial insight having John Harms as ghost writer and the end product had additional merit because of its subtle observations on growing up in a large family in country Australia. Others connected with this blog would have been amused as I was when a disgruntled letter writer to the Sunday Age, and a former employee of MUP, reflected adversely on MUP policies in the 1960s. That was when MUP published two major academic (and readable) works by Bruce Davidson, the contents of which (if absorbed) might have saved Australia a lot of money and a lot of grief, and altered the contents of the very issue in which the aforementioned letter was published. Academic publishing is part of the normal business of universities and its cost should not be described as a subsidy any more than teaching or research. Someone has to decide how much there is of each according to the funds that are available. Better for politicians to stay out of these decisions.

  15. Paul Walter, I didn’t see the clip but there is a point – personal finance can be a minefield and people appear to find it too hard. Maybe there should be a course in school with links to existing subjects eg the powers of compounding interest.

    We do have “easy” money and I don’t know if the younger ones are on top of this, they do seem to spend what they can borrow now and worry about other stuff later.

  16. A lot of smaller lenders eg credit unions, were swallowed up as the increase in banking compliance became an expensive burden. The needs for this compliance includes the need to protect depositors.

  17. I’ll draw a long bow here, the trend for personal tax cuts and privatisation of public services has shifted those costs from the govt to the household.

    Not all households have the resources to meet with these requirements and rely on the banks for additional liquidity so that they might muddle their way through.

    It now looks as if we are heading for an economic contraction thereby exposing households to an increased burden while govts talk about “balancing the budget”.

  18. In relation to Australian banking, my basic thought lines are;

    (1) The privatisation of the Commonwealth Bank was a big mistake. The federal govt. needed to keep ownership of this bank as it offered extra policy levers to government including usable market leverage over private banks in order to further national policy.

    (2) We need a government owned or nationalised bank to be re-established.

    (3) In the long run, there is no need for private finance for private owner/occupier mortgages. A government owned bank could supply that market in its entirety and keep much better control of finance policy and housing supply in the process. There is no need for private finance to be skimming cream off the top off an essential national requirement, namely housing for the populace. The ersatz competition and cartel-like behaviours of the oligopolistic private banking sector essentially result in theft from ordinary workers (excessive interest rates and commissions) and distortion of the housing market. The latter is particularly the case when negative gearing is also part of the mix.

  19. The privatisation of the Commonwealth Bank was a big mistake. The federal govt. needed to keep ownership of this bank as it offered extra policy levers to government including usable market leverage over private banks in order to further national policy.

    The CBA might have in theory been used for that purpose but in practice it always acted as just another commercial bank. The only notable difference between the CBA and other banks, back in the day, was that it only employed Catholics and they only employed Protestants.

  20. (2) We need a government owned or nationalised bank

    Problem is that this bank would be subject to political interfence. You only have to look at how they treat the ABC, ASIC, ATO, CSIRO and many others – having links with govt does not automatically provide security.

  21. rog,

    You are correct. Neoliberalism and privatisation move costs from government to households. Since the federal government runs predominantly on taxes*, we can deduce in the final analysis that neoliberalism and privatisation move costs from richer households to poorer households. Part of the cost moved to poorer households will be in a lower social wage (lower welfare and social services).

    * The “tax-spend” argument between MMT and mainstream economics exists only at the margins. Although, it has to be said that margins are still important. In terms of repeating formal system cycles (the series of annual budgets) the question of what comes first, taxing or spending is irrelevant. Whether you regard the tax/outlays cycle as taxing before spending (mainstream view) or spending before taxing (MMT view) is truly only a matter of where you want to mark the start and end of a continuous circuit for formal quantities.

    There are formal arguments in favor of the MMT view when looking at the national finance system as a formal system. There are real arguments (using “real” in the precise sense meant in the phrases “real economy” and “real material and energetic resources”) in favor of the mainstream economic view. Where mainstream economists and MMT economists seem to talk at cross-purposes is in the matter of failing to explicitly state their ontological categories re the formal and real. That is, they fail to state explicitly (and agree upon) at what level or levels (formal and/or real) their discussions and arguments are taking place. It is this ontological confusion which bedevils their controversies.

    Even more complex is the issue of analyzing the interaction of formal systems with real systems (which can only happen when humans act in the real world on the basis of their formal prescriptive and attempted descriptive models internalized as ideational models and externalized as institutions. I’ve noticed the consistent failure (IMHO) of mainstream economists to address the ontological confusions in their discipline. MMT economists offend less in this regard. Even so, the MMT economists, focused as they are on the formal national accounting system and giving only some attention to real systems, do not fully explore the central importance and emergent phenomena of real system / formal interactions.

    It appears, from the lack of traction that I get in mainstream and MMT blogs that neither mainstream economists nor MMT economists really “get” this issue. Either that or they don’t want to address it because it is difficult to include in what are essentially arguments with rhetorical and ideological motivations rather than being genuine searches for truth; truth here being defined as per the correspondence theory of truth. Complex system philosophers do get this issue.

    There is an article by Jason Potts, “Ontology in Economics” which I have not been able to read yet (paywalled) but its Abstract seems to indicate it is analyzing matters in the correct general vein.

    “Economics is the study of the ‘economic world’ of human action in relation to material resources. The economic world is therein composed of objects: including economic agents (e.g. Homo Oeconomicus, firms), resources (e.g. commodities), economic institutions (e.g. markets, money, central banks); yet is also composed of knowledge (e.g. technology, expectations, routines, preferences) and is thus in significant part subjective. The fusion of object and subject, and the complexity this raises (for example in the theory of value), however, is just the beginning of the vast ontological complexity of the economic world. For the economic world is also an emergent (and massively parallel) process of socially-coordinated individual knowledge. This knowledge is pragmatic, conjectural and mostly inductive. The organizations and institutions that coordinate economic behavior are themselves subject to self-organization and evolution. There is manifold supervenience and protean sets. The question ‘What is the economic system made of?’ or ‘What are the constituents of economic reality?’ has a great many possible answers that harbor substantial incommensurability. The upshot, then, is that the economic world is ontologically complex in a profound way.” – Jason Potts

  22. Ikon… dont dispare too much, if I posted everything I took some action I do for these “nobody on this blog seems to be mentioning?
    1. Hottest January in Australia since records began.
    2. Murray-Darling record fish die-offs
    3. S.A. Royal Commission finds Murray-Darling Authority acted unlawfully.
    4. Unprecedented bush fires this summer in Qld and Tasmania.
    5. Record floods in Townsville and environs.””
    … this would be my blog not john quiggins.

    Today I emailed the conversation and Prof Terry Hughes re.
    “There’s insufficient evidence your sunscreen harms coral reefs.
    In conclusion, there is actually no direct evidence to demonstrate that bleaching due to global heating is exacerbated by sunscreen pollutants. Similarly, there is no evidence that recovery from thermal bleaching is impaired by sunscreens, or that sunscreens cause coral bleaching in the wild”

    It read to me as the way a tobacco company researcher sounded. A bit harsh yet I have offered Prof. to be a volunteer researcher. volunteer

  23. And wow. News you can use. No idea what to say about it. Is this of value to anyone. 2011 update 2017.

    The Price of Nails since 1700: Even Simple Products Experienced Large Price Declines Daniel E. Sichel* Wellesley College and NBER April 2017
    …”these declines were nowhere near as rapid as those for lighting and computing, they were still quite sizable and large enough to enable the development of other products and processes and contribute to downstream changes in patterns of economic activity. Moreover, with the relative price of nails having been so much higher in an earlier period, nails played a much more important role in economic activity in an earlier period than they do now. [A not yet completed section of the paper will use a growth accounting framework to assess the proximate sources of the change in the price of nails.] ”

    Click to access Sichel.pdf

  24. What’s the difference between Ken Henry and God? God doesn’t walk down the street thinking he’s Ken Henry.

  25. I wonder at the strong push for sunscreens as opposed to using covering clothing. Even covering swimwear is possible except for the face and hands probably. I wonder if sunscreens are safe for humans let alone for marine life. There seems a possibility to me that the chemicals and nano-particles are at least as carcinogenic as strong sunlight (though not as burning).

  26. Comments on banking are interesting but entirely miss a central issue which is that the root cause of most of the problems is simply that banking is no longer a profession run by people who know what they are doing. When rapacious amateurs take over chaos reigns – and look at what has happened. A simple example is provided in recommendation 1.14 of the final report – “ensure that (distressed agricultural loans) those loans are managed by experienced agricultural bankers” I cannot imagine what went through the mind of whoever wrote that statement. Did they not think it would be a good idea if ALL agricultural loans where managed by experienced agricultural bankers and if that was the case there would be far fewer problems in the first place? And what about other forms of lending; shouldn’t all business loans be managed by experienced business bankers etc. If consumer lending had been entirely in the hands of highly dedicated and experienced consumer lenders, then all discussion about arrears levels and national household debt would not be happening.
    Consider this: if you were on an aircraft preparing for take-off and the announcement was: ” our pilot is young Brett, he hasn’t really done much flying, and this is his first time in this type of aircraft but never fear -if anything goes wrong, we can call up someone on the ground for advice. Well enjoy your flight and remember if something bad happens you paid your fare, and it is your responsibility to exercise your judgement on aircraft and flight safety before boarding” How would you feel? That’s precisely what banks do. As I mentioned above my statements are informed by 47 years in banking.

  27. @Ikonoclast

    I wonder at the strong push for sunscreens as opposed to using covering clothing.

    I don’t think there’s any such thing. In general, the push is for sunscreen and covering clothing.

  28. On the other hand you could also argue that farmers also need to understand financial risk. There was that case that Alan Jones ran with, that of Carrisbrook Station. The reality was that poor farming practices were exposed by increased pressure on margins, something that all business has had to contend with. The farmer at Carrisbrook was very old, his family had moved off as the property was unsustainable and they were eeking out a meagre living while managing a huge debt. There is a lot of property like that and the banks need to protect depositors funds.

  29. ikonoclast

    I wonder at the strong push for sunscreens as opposed to using covering clothing.

    Slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen and slap on a hat. The message hasn’t changed in 40 years.

  30. Hugo,

    Exactly. The problem is that the message has NOT changed. The message needs to be far more nuanced than that. “Slip on a loose fitting, long sleeved shirt with a 100% UV screening rating. Slip on long trousers and covered shoes with the same rating. Wear a large sun-screening hat. Use sunscreens in adequate amounts but only on those relatively small areas of skin which you cannot effectively cover in other ways. When swimming wear sun-top and sun-bottom swimwear. This can double as stinger protection and provide slight flotation assistance and streamlining (all enhancing your swimming experience in most cases).”

    The results of this message could be a large reduction in polluting sunscreens (which pollute the environment and often leach into the skin and body (some components and chemicals). Of course, there is the issue of how polluting the manufacture of better covering clothing and swimwear is.

    Finally, there is a reason the Arab peoples wear the garments they do. They have been wise enough to develop the wearing of garments to fully cover up against the sun and to protect the body and face from wind-blown dust and sand. If only we were as wise. Australians should probably dress like Middle Eastern people rather than like Northern European people on a Greek holiday.

  31. @Ikonoclast

    That is largely what contemporary sun safety advice does recommend (apart from the nonsense about providing flotation and enhancing the swimming experience).

  32. Finally, there is a reason the Arab peoples wear the garments they do. They have been wise enough to develop the wearing of garments to fully cover up against the sun and to protect the body and face from wind-blown dust and sand.

    Why do you write things like this? Only months ago we saw Iranian women risking imprisonment, torture and rape by defiantly removing their head coverings. The ridiculously restrictive clothing is more about misogyny and social control than health. Also note how the women are often forced to wear black, which must be fun when the temp is 40 degrees celsius or more.

    It is well known that the garb you advocate is disastrous for health: ***



    And ditto Tim on your claim about “providing flotation and enhancing the swimming experience”.

  33. The Drum panel was pretty unanimous that the change has to come in the culture, involving a bit of (previously unexplored?) reflexivity and honesty, starting with the so-called leaders. There is not much in what these people have shown as to themselves during public exposure that leads someone like myself that this will occur of course, but we must wait in hope, which at least gives us a little time before we die in despair as to these supposedly adult children.

    Personally, I have come round a bit to Rog’s comment that people themselves need to sharpen up a little bit, not so lazy, not so trusting.

    Caveat Emptor.

  34. Ikon… there is a push for sunscreen use.

    The school newsletter today for the first time (in 40 yrs) states:
    “Each individual student will need: 2 x HB lead pencils, 2 x red and blue pens, a 30cm ruler with mm markings, a glue stick (UHU or Bostik, as the cheaper brands do not stick as well), an eraser, scissors, a sharpener, coloured pencils, a pencil case, a library bag and sunscreen (for individual use)
    Optional Items: dictionary, thesaurus, textas, sharpies, water colour pencils, Mathematics tools (compass, protractor), calculator (Years 5&6 only).
    Class supplies: another glue stick (UHU or Bostik, as the cheaper brands do not stick as well), hand sanitiser (Years 3&4), soap (Years 5&6) and a box of tissues. (These items will be used by the class throughout the year as required.”

    I wonder how long before a brand of sunscreen ala glue stick is promoted!

    We need more proof and better usage protocols. If I were being paranoid sunscreens will be the new talcum powder or cough syrups.

    Prof Terry Hughes cited a study where one ingredient in sunscreen was placed in a plastic bag. “This study exposed small fragments of corals (branch tips) to high levels of benzophenone-3 and other chemicals by incubating them for a few days inside plastic bags. The fragments in the bags quickly became diseased with viruses and bleached. The authors concluded “up to 10% of the world reefs are potentially threatened by sunscreen-induced coral bleaching”. Someone was oaid to do that?!

    His article just didn’t convey, without a second read, the paucity of proper studies. Maybe just me.

    “In conclusion, there is actually no direct evidence to demonstrate that bleaching due to global heating is exacerbated by sunscreen pollutants. Similarly, there is no evidence that recovery from thermal bleaching is impaired by sunscreens, or that sunscreens cause coral bleaching in the wild.” … and I was then expecting the kicker… give me more money and I will get the evidence. Maybe the editors?

    He certainly expressed agw but used ‘heating’ ” However, coral bleaching at a global and regional scale is caused by anthropogenic heating, not sunscreen. ” … and the word heating, although probably a more appropriate word, threw me off the flow of reading.

    I want to know and asked him directly via email;
    Who makes the checials,
    Who and what q.a. is done before making the sunscreens,
    As the sun cancer people expressed concern at not using sunscreens, where is the comparison of sunscreens to physical barriers ala hats, vests etc.

    We will know when I have grandchildren I’d say! In the meantime the precautionary principle guides me. Right time, good physical cover and sunscreen on nose if no peak or low sun.

  35. Something completely different. Mexico’ new left-wing president Obrador has suspended the planned renewable energy auction: ***** This has surprised everybody, as the previous auctions had produced record-breaking low prices for both wind and solar. As far as I can make out, AMLO’s decision is based on reflex support for the old Mexican model of state energy monopolies.

    The crisis offers a test case or at least new data points for JQ’s thesis on Australian electricity, viz. renationalization. My prediction FWIW is that AMLO’s plan will work out badly, and both slow down the renewable transition and raise prices. We’ll see.

    My humble take on this follows Deng’s black cat – white cat epigram: the question is which catches mice better. Australia once had pretty effective publicly owned electric utilities, and the privatised system is a high-priced and unreliable mess. California made a hash of it too: black cats. The reform model (monopoly grid and distribution split from competitive generation) has worked better in Texas, India, Germany and its homeland the UK, the white cats. The limited data I have on Mexico, the success of the auctions plus the unimpressive record of the old national champions, suggests that the country is in the white-cat group where reform is the better bet. The choice has very little to do with the model – perfect nationalization and a perfect market give the same unattainable result – and everything to do with history, institutions,and the details of market and non-market design.

  36. @KT2

    Some writers prefer the term ‘global heating’ as they believe it better conveys the sense of risk than ‘global warming’, which they think sounds too comfortable. Whether they are correct in this, I’m not sure.

  37. Sorry, error apparently. Government is paying $30 million according to only report I can find..elsewhere someone claimed the higher figure.

  38. You see now why Hayne did not want to shake the minister’s hand. Then the collusion would have been too obvious unless Hayne was in the dark over it all.

  39. 5 years, 300 researchers, 125 reviewers, and still the deniers will deny. This report is open scource so anyone may publish or extend (maybe a prof of economics might pass a topology brush over it?) and republish for a wider audience. We may all use the social media megaphone for good by posting key phrases and noting 300 researchers and 125 reviewers. Keep it short and sweet. But I don’t do soc media! We here I think will have to rely on a new ‘digital native’ generation.

    “One-third of Himalayan glaciers will melt by the end of the century due to climate change — threatening water sources for 1.9 billion people — even if current efforts to reduce climate change succeed, an assessment has warned.”

    “It comprises important scientific research on the social, economic, and environmental pillars of sustainable mountain development and will serve as a basis for evidence-based decision-making to safeguard the environment and advance people’s well-being. The compiled content is based on the collective knowledge of over 300 leading researchers, experts and policymakers.”

  40. How refreshing to have a Commissioner who has attracted no criticism for his conduct of the enquiry. He fortunately was not sprung attending Liberal Party functions mid-Commission.

  41. Via cory doctrow.

    This from link below:
    “Companies that contribute to climate change are, in effect, stealing. They are gaining a benefit at the expense of others, for which they are not paying. First, have a look at the latest National Climate Assessment put out jointly by 13 federal agencies. It documents the staggering economic costs that are expected to result from climate change. For example, “lasting damage to coastal property and infrastructure driven by sea level rise and storm surge is expected to lead to financial losses for individuals, businesses, and communities,” and “changes in extreme events are expected to increasingly disrupt and damage critical infrastructure and property, labor productivity, and the vitality of our communities.”

    Ah… the u.s. govt. 13 feds!


  42. A new problem ahead: traffic jams caused by driverless cars cruising slowly around to avoid parking fees. It’s clearly fixable of course, but only by government regulation. ******

  43. James, I drove a car today and it wasn’t at all like my youth in rural Queensland where if you saw another vehicle on the road it was so disturbing that grandad would have to pull over and have another beer to calm his nerves. It was so busy and there were so many rules! We’re not allowed to drive on the wrong side of the road even if there aren’t any cars on it.

    We obviously desperately need self driving cars. There is so much inefficiency currently as a result of the need to have a driving system that ape nervous systems can handle. Fortunately, self driving cars appear to work, although the final few steps on these types of projects can often be doozies so I don’t want to guess just how soon we’ll be able to hop in a self driving taxi in Australia but I hope they arrive before my parents have to give up driving. (Nothing human should be forced to put up with my father’s conversation.)

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