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

14 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. Just sayin’; sandpit as last mention of it flushed out a lot of opinion.

    Effects of temporary migration: shaping Australia’s society and economy
    15 JUL 2019

    …”CEDA’s analysis shows that contrary to some concerns, recent waves of migrants have not had an adverse impact on the wages or jobs of local workers.”…

  2. The water hitse / donkey / camel.

    What could go wrong?

    “”State Environmental Water Holders and Environmental Water Managers
    Victorian Environmental Water HolderNew South Wales Office of Environment and HeritageNew South Wales Department of Primary Industries – WaterNew South Wales Department of Primary Industries – FisheriesSouth Australian Government Department of Environment, Water and Natural ResourcesQueensland Government Department of Natural Resources and MinesQueensland Department of Science, Information Technology and InnovationQueensland Department of Agriculture and FisheriesRiver OperatorsQueenslandQueensland Murray-Darling Committee IncSunWaterNew South WalesLocal Land Services – Northern TablelandsCentral Tablelands Local Land ServicesMurray Local Land ServicesWestern Local Land ServicesRiverina Local Land ServicesNorth West Local Land ServicesWaterNSWVictoriaMurray-Darling Basin Authority (The Living Murray Program)Goulburn-Murray WaterLower Murray WaterColiban WaterNorth Central Catchment Management AuthorityNorth East Catchment Management AuthorityWimmera Catchment Management AuthorityGrampian Wimmera Mallee WaterGoulburn-Broken Catchment Management AuthorityMallee Catchment Management AuthorityVictorian Catchment Management AuthoritiesSouth AustraliaSA WaterMonitoring and Evaluation PartnersEco Logical AustraliaUniversity of CanberraCharles Sturt UniversityUniversity of New South WalesCatchment Specific PartnersBorder Rivers Environmental Water NetworkBorder Rivers Food and FibreGwydir Environmental Contingency Allowance Operational Advisory CommitteeLachlan Environmental Water Advisory GroupNature Foundation South AustraliaBanrock StationNgarrindjeri Regional AuthorityRenmark Irrigation TrustSouth Australian Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management BoardMurray Darling Wetlands Working Group LtdMacquarie-Cudgegong Environmental Flows Reference GroupMacquarie-Cudgegong Customer Service CommitteeMurray-Lower Darling Environmental Water Advisory GroupMurrumbidgee Environmental Water Allowance Reference GroupNamoi Customer Service CommitteeOther Australian Government AgenciesMurray Darling Basin AuthorityBureau of MeteorologyDepartment of Agriculture and Water ResourcesDepartment of Infrastructure and Regional DevelopmentAustralian Competition and Consumer CommissionDepartment of the Environment and EnergyAustralian National Audit OfficeProductivity Commission

  3. Juncker’s successor in the EU: Dr Ursula von der Leyen (medical doctor) CDU Germany. She was proposed (27 out of 28; Merkel abstained) by the Heads of the Member States) and was narrowly elected by the EU Parliament following her speech in which she outlined the major areas of work ahead: Climate Change, EU Asylum Policy and the law of the sea, upholding the values (constitution and laws) of the EU (a message against the AFD, the PiP party in Poland, Orban in Hungary, Salvini in Italy, Le Pen in France), the historical and current importance of the EU including internal and external security, social policy (eg unemployment insurance and minimum wage in all of the EU, measures to alleviate the regional effects of climate change policies).

    von der Leyen gave her acceptance speech in partly in French, partly in German, and partly in English.

    Some commentators termed her approach as an attempt of a Grand Coalition (centre right, centre left including the greens, and liberals).

    In terms of economics related issues, I would say von der Leyen’s objectives correspond to the idea of a social-ecological-market economy with more emphasis on social and ecological than during the time of Helmut Kohl (CDU), reflecting the relative shift in importance.

    PS: There is also a Riesling wine named von der Leyen.

  4. The thought occurs to me that maybe Donald Trump should go back to the covfefe he came from.

  5. A new person in this or that chair, governmental or corporate, seldom means anything or makes any difference. I hope Dr Ursula von der Leyen can prove me wrong but I have my doubts. It’s the overall system and the systemic behavior that counts. The global system of capitalism (type, neoliberal) has not changed and is not going away voluntarily.

    Australia gets bad press for coal mining, killing the Barrier Reef and killing fish in the M-D basin, as indeed it should. However, the EU’s and Germany’s pretence to be any better ecologically is just that, a pretence. Clearly, the car making companies in Germany and the EU were and are too big to fail, too big to regulate properly and too big to be honest. I assume we all remember VW’s Dieselgate scandal.

    If you followed the global story you would have noted;

    (1) Key VW executives lied and obstructed investigations in the US as long as they could.
    (2) The pollution cheat device conspiracy was large and systemic throughout VW, including in the software engineering department and executive management.
    (3) EU legislation contains loopholes which permit cheat devices to continue to operate under the pretext of being engine-protection devices.
    (4) The emissions test defeat device problem in Europe, and globally, is much wider than just VW. It includes Opel, Chevrolet/GMC/Buick (German branch), Daimler, Fiat Chrysler, Mitsubishi, PSA and Renault.

    “This is by no means a complete list: Independent investigations in Europe have found that nearly every diesel-powered vehicle emits far more in real-world driving than in government-designed testing scenarios. Volkswagen’s test-cheating software may have brought the issue to the forefront, but the result has been increased scrutiny of nearly every major automaker, and not just for diesels. As time goes on, we expect environmental groups and governments alike will continue to probe how automakers use legal loopholes, creative interpretation, and all-out deception in the emissions and fuel economy realms. We’re not nearly out of the woods yet.” – The Facts Behind Every Major Automaker Emissions Cheating Scandal Since VW – Road and Track.

    The bigger question to ask is this. Why can’t governments control corporate malfeasance? It’s a global problem of course not just an EU problem. In any nation where certain industries are central to the nation’s economic and global position in their own view, like coal in Australia or autos in Germany, there will be a corruption nexus or a selective blindness situation between the government and the corporations involved. This won’t be solved until and if the corporate monopolies and oligopolies are broken up. I can’t see that happening any time soon. Meanwhile, we keep hoping that a new person in a chair will change things.

  6. “Why can’t governments control corporate malfeasance?”

    The Chinese government controls corporate malfeasance by shooting people who get caught malfeasing. That is excessive, but the underlying principle applies everywhere. If the likelihood of getting caught and the punishment are big enough, than the malfeasers will think carefully before doing the act. This has to mean jail time. Fines are just shrugged off as a cost of doing business.

  7. Ikonoclast, you are quite right regarding CO2 emission problems the world over and their different sources in various countries. The corporate form of business is the source of many problems; we have agreed on this a long time ago.

    The recent European Parliament elections sent a clear signal that a) the topics of Europe and Democracy are popular again (voter participation) and b) people are serious about the environment, not only global warming but also biodiversity. It seems to me von der Leyen’s speech reflects the change in the mood of the 500 million people of the EU.

    You may recall, Juncker has been criticised by many and for a long time. Much of the criticism came from outside the EU, except for members of Farage’s former UKIP , the AFD, the Polish PiS party and Salvini’s group in Italy, the FPÖ from Austria, Orban’s party in Hungary, Le Pen in France (not sure I have all covered).

    It seems to me there are two divergent of socio-political agendas. Firstly, the EU has to be strengthened in policy areas, which are beyond a single nation’s power to change and constitute an economic and political power in the world with 2 or 3 major players. Second, move toward authoritarian nationalism.

    I listened to the EUP debate before the election of von der Leyen, subject to my limited languages (I could not understand one word in any of the East European languages). One MEP from Hungary spoke in English, pleading with the EU to be tough on Orban. A Scottish MEP had a go at the Farage. An Austrian MEP spoke against authoritarian nationalism. These speakers were obviously in favour of strengthening the EU and making their voting intentions clear. If you want to get a quick overview of the complexity of policy issues then I recommend listening to EUP debates.

  8. Ernestine Gross,

    Policy Tensor is an interesting new site I have discovered. It’s scientific and objective credentials seem strong. It seems to cover everything from anthropology to political economy. It may have a World-systems Theory focus. It is certainly not a site that is simplistically on the one-dimensional Left-Right spectrum.

    One article in particular I found interesting: “Discourse, Reality, and Strategy in the Planetary Impasse”. It commences by quoting Greta Thunberg.

    “When I first heard about the climate and ecological breakdown, I actually didn’t believe it could be happening. How could we be facing an existential crisis? If it really was a crisis this big, then we would rarely talk about anything else.”

    This a statement worthy of the greatest philosopher alive, whoever that might be, and it might just be Greta Thunberg. Simplicty, directness and irrefutability come together with koan-like clarity.

    The old pond, A frog jumps in: Plop! – Matsuo Bashô (Translation by Alan Watt)
    Caterpillars of rain were munching leaves in the garden. – Nadine Gordimer (in a novel).
    A crisis this big. How can we talk about anything else? – Greta Thunberg

    Yet how much of our total discourse every day, every person, all over this world, is about this crisis? It’s not even 0.1% in my estimation. The Policy Tensor article starts with a discussion of this “gap between discourse and reality”. It then moves on to the very recent “shift in our scientific understanding from gradualism to catastrophism”. This has really only manifested with full force in scientific understanding in the last 5 years as the acceleration of certain trends reaches frightening exponentials; especially with an understanding of Arctic Amplification and glacier destabilization.

    I won’t give a further blow by blow story of the article but it finishes with recommendations which about equally please me and annoy me in terms of my Marxian biases. It does mention doing “a deal with the devil to stay out of hell” which translated means doing a deal with roughly 60% of dominant capitalists to defeat the 40% who need to be defeated (the fossil fuel industrial complex basically). I am not sure this will work necessarily but time is so late and so desperate this might be the only realpolitik possibility at this stage.

    Otherwise, we face a Götterdämmerung, in my opinion. The Old Norse phrase “Ragnarök, in Norse mythology, refers to a prophesied war among various beings and gods that ultimately results in the burning, immersion in water, and renewal of the world.” Outright climate change and sea level rise will indeed burn and then immerse much of our world (bread basket regions and seaboards being so important to us). There might be a renewal of other life, via evolution once again, but I doubt humans will be around to see it. As Greta Thunberg says, at this juncture we should “rarely talk about anything else.”

  9. It may be the Scottish tight side of my ancestry but there is something about compressing natural gas and sending it overseas in a ship that I find deeply troubling. Gas is meant to be used right away and the energy put into the grid, or its meant to be transported down a pipe powered by jet engines. Oil gained at sea is economically shipped, ever since the Japanese started coming up with these gigantic tankers after world war II. That doesn’t trouble me so much. Its a crying shame the world is so dependent on coal as well. That should be our heritage fuel because to put it in trains, then onto ships, then onto trains again on the other side of the world…… Well thats a shame right there. Nuclear may have many problems, but transport costs of uranium eating up all the energy gains isn’t one of them. But to me these gas exports are the most horrible violation of basic principles of stinginess and frugality.

    Now it turns out that a study has come out, and its been talked about at “The Conversation.” I take a different view of things than the people who conducted the study. They think the renewables have brought the price down, or more correctly stopped the prices going up even further than they did. I think what they have shown is that the way our high gas prices are dove-tailing with the auction system is what is really to blame for our electricity price disaster. I think since gas is the only peaking power in the system, the gas guys can sit back and get their bid in later. They are really only going to be competing with the other gas guys, and since they are the only one with that peaking power, they are likely to be charging something akin to a monopoly price a lot of the time.

    My recommendation would be to get budgets in surplus and then to supply zero interest loans for investments that would glut peaking power. Whether that be with renewables, hydrocarbons or even floating nuclear. That is to say wherever these can be paired up with energy storage. There would have to be some way to do this without unjust enrichment. I don’t think the auction system is likely to deliver the best outcome unless this peaking power is permanently glutted.

  10. Visigothkhan,

    At this point coal, oil and gas are “meant” to be left in the ground. That is if we want to avoid catastrophic global warming. Yes, I know that is unrealistic politically and energetically bu that’s because we haven’t prepared an energy transition in time and we haven’t curbed wasteful use.

    What Australia should do, and should have done some time ago, sequentially, was;

    (1) Ban the opening of all new thermal coal mines;
    (2) Progressively close existing thermal coal mines;
    (3) Ban thermal coal exports;
    (4) Build renewable energy.
    (5) Progressively close thermal coal power stations;
    (6) Ban the export of natural gas;
    (7) Replace petrol and diesel vehicles with gas and electric vehicles.
    (8) Eventually phase out all gas use except for irreplaceable gas peaking plants.

    We couldn’t ever stop other nations burning other fossil fuels but we could have stopped them burning our supply, much of which should stay in the ground now. The above policy is still implementable (although its probably already too late to stop dangerous global warming). Maybe we can still keep it to dangerous rather than catastrophic.

  11. “At this point coal, oil and gas are “meant” to be left in the ground. That is if we want to avoid catastrophic global warming.”

    If you believe that stuff. Hard to make a call on it when all the data is being rigged. But the reality is that the solar cycles will leave us very cold for some decades to come. Cold and wet now, colder and dry in the 30’s. So its not time to panic. Its time to “make haste slowly” as Caesar said. The easiest way to reduce CO2 output is higher royalties on coal exported alone. Not on the coal burnt locally. Then take the financial measures needed to keep us in relentless trade surplus even with more modest coal exports.

    The easiest way to intern carbon in the ground is agricultural reform. See that black stuff that comes out of a cows butt? Thats not black because of a special cow dye. Its carbon and fixed nitrogen coming out there. The cows body pulls all the hydrogen out of the biomatter, she sucks in the oxygen and she actually creates more water than she uses up. If Cows are bunched, as though there were predators afoot, then there will be carbon internment and fixed nitrogen production. If we have a myceleal network thanks to heaps of trees then we don’t need all these energy sucking fertilisers that send us backward via hurting the soil life.

    I’m looking for a better type of agriculture; permaculture and silvopasture based. But with a very big bias on water-holding so that eventually every farm is producing extra energy with plant oils, wood-gas, wind, and every hillside farm has hydro.

    The proof of carbon internment would be “in the pudding” since if you come back and there is 12 feet of black soil ….. thats a lot of carbon interred.

    We need a finance system that leaves small businessmen tooled up to the gills. Its kind of hard to discuss this subject without referring to the findings of Alan Savoury.

  12. Visigothkhan. “The proof of carbon internment would be “in the pudding” since if you come back and there is 12 feet of black soil ….. thats a lot of carbon interred.”

    Not 12′ but 1′. 11′ short and better for it.

    I visited Tarwyn Park on the last day before Kepco took over Bylong Valley. Shades of Adani.

    The walk around had us in a paddock which looked like about a million sq kms of the central west nsw. Except both dry and green grass all over

    A hole about 40cm x 40cm was dug in the middle of the paddock about 70cm deep.

    Top 30-40cm was BLACK. + water table at about 60cm deep so hole was wet at base.

    Tarwyn Park only saved from mining due to homestead, not the years of soil conditioning and carbon sequestration.

    Tarwyn Park still leased and used as training ground.

  13. JQ, surely you or someone you know, needs a picketty sized dataset? Or a researcher who might build a crawler bot to amass every paper you have always wanted yet never heard of… or a “change over time” dataset. Yet more may be less???

    “”The plan to mine the world’s research papers

    A giant data store quietly being built in India could free vast swathes of science for computer analysis — but is it legal?

    …”…to build a gigantic store of text and images extracted from 73 million journal articles dating from 1847 up to the present day. The cache, which is still being created, will be kept on a 576-terabyte storage facility…” BIG data.

    “No one will be allowed to read or download work from the repository, because that would breach publishers’ copyright. Instead, Malamud envisages, researchers could crawl over its text and data with computer software, scanning through the world’s scientific literature to pull out insights without actually reading the text.”

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