Uncategorized Sandpit August 19, 2019 John Quiggin7 Comments A new sandpit for long side discussions, conspiracy theories, idees fixes and so on. Like this:Like Loading... Related
7 thoughts on “Sandpit”
Economic development is often overlooked when politicians get obsessed with economic growth. Structural change is necessary for economies to remain vibrant. But this wont happened if an economy is not allowed to make periodic efficiency adjustments. Recessions can facilitate such adjustments. Germany is perhaps the best example of this so far this century. Yet politicians generate a fear of recessions by their careless statements.
This fear of recessions is uneconomic. A “soft landing” recession can do a lot of good via the “creative destruction” of inefficient firms. They may also be able to increase occupational mobility. The only risk is the possibility of external factors deepening the recession beyond the point of no return. This almost happened in Australia in the 1990s. Still there are benefits to be gained from mild recessions. To turn them into some sort of terminal disaster is an instance of poor economic management.
Sandpit’s a great idea. Remains to be seen as to who will take advantage of it. The mind boggles. Could be twits like myself who feel like commenting about anything and everything, but who, mercifully for the other kids in the pit, don’t have the time to do it.
Could be the worthy people from The Conversation, (and they ARE worthy), who have to have a relatively prestigious position, and so can speak with authority.
Could be everyone who has a barrow to push.
Could all be quite exciting and refreshing.Could be bloody boring. Who knows?
Here is Catherine Williams, abc today, after JQ in 2003, pointing out what many of us here would say about THE MARKET.
“Unfortunately, it feels like another example of where profits are for the few, but losses are borne by many.
Market failure doesn’t really capture it.”
Catherine Williams holds a builder’s licence, degrees in Civil Engineering and Law and is a dispute resolution consultant in the construction industry.”
Today – in 2019…
“How have legislation changes influenced profits?
“Prior to 2002, this insurance was a mandatory feature of all domestic building contracts.
“HIH Insurance Limited, a major provider of Home Warranty Insurance, was placed into administration in March 2001 and left the insurance market.
“In 2002, in response to a failure from other insurers to fill the gap left by HIH, State Governments agreed to exempt builders from providing this type of insurance in buildings above three** stories.
“As a result, an important way of keeping high-rise builders accountable for the quality of their product was removed.”
And JQ said – sixteen – 16 years ago, in Jan 2003 –
“It’s not government bailouts that let Adler, Williams, Rich and others walk away from failed companies with their personal fortunes intact. Under the institution of limited liability, this is the rule, not the exception.”
(JQ quotes in above from james morrow of – gulp – theoz!)
Near where I live we have a $75M infrastructure project. The nsw state government declared it ‘State Significant ” ( it isn’t – serves 10k people) so no, you may NOT get any information nor dispute at law. Not even the local authority could sway nsw govt, so the result is a building specification from 2006 (initial proposal) delivered in 2020 and already under sized for the rising population.
** Guess how many stories it is? Hint; “State Governments agreed to exempt builders from providing this type of insurance in buildings above three stories” …
You guessed it… 3 stories.
Can’t wait to see if the building – and I can tell you construction methods look like a cheap project home – is covered after builders warranty runs out.
What is your guess?
I raised questions re demolision dust – silicosis – with the epa, “ask local authority”. Local authorities said “ask epa”. Round and round “Oh! It is state significant – ask commisioning department” – so I did. But the demolision company is a private family business so contract workers will in 5-25 yrs time get emphysema or silicosis. I tried to tell them… they thought I was stupid and hussled me off site. We will pay money to look after them. They will pay with their lives. I spoke with expert witness re benchtop dust. He stated kitchen manufacturing first, demolision dust next… say 10-15 yrs before legislation!
The specifications have jumbo sized loopholes and vague language. Prior to construction, the demolision crew were bathing in 80 yr old brick and sand and cement dust. Asbestos removal by workers in full hazmat with forced air supply. And the kindergarten across the road. “No. The dust is acceptable “. I then asked the fox guarding the henhouse “what dust type and particle size / shape do you monitor for?” Asbestos only. Not dust! Full obfuscation by nsw govt. If exact question not asked, answer is vague at best.
Bonus – it is a health facility. Parking for 175. Underneath. If 175 car engines park at facility the toxic plume will then be a health hazard – in a health facility. Oh, and roads around development? Nothing. Even though next year it will be a major traffic bottleneck with frail and ambulatory patients accessing facility. No mri or mental health tho.
Extra bonus – the builder has information sheets plastered at site entrance. One of the sheets mentions a union specifically – in a slanderous manner imo – as a dog whistle / vieled threat. So NO unions on site. Nice touch.
Slap in the face bonus; We and ‘they’ already knew. Australian Construction Law and Melb uni law have been writing about this;
“Articles based upon research undertaken by construction law students at Melbourne Law School;
Catherine Williams (Masters), ‘Sub-standard Balconies are Flooding the Victorian Market – The Legal Context of Causes and Remedies’ (2018) 181 Australian Construction Law Newsletter 37
Jeremy Parsons (Masters), ‘Horses for Courses: Assignment of Building Warranties to Subsequent Owners’ (2017) 33 BCL 195
Jeremy Parsons (Masters), ‘Winnipeg-ging Coherency and Sound Policy to the Line of Pure Economic Loss Case Law in Australia – Recovery for Dangerous Building Defects’ (2017) 174 Australian Construction Law Newsletter 14
Emilia Budisavljevic (JD), ‘Have we forgotten the first “P” in Public-Private Partnerships?’ (2014) 158 Australian Construction Law Newsletter 32
Rami Marginean (JD), ‘Subsequent purchasers and defective buildings: Making a case for greater clarity in Australia’ (2013) 29 Building and Construction Law 315
Jaclyn Smith (Masters)’Buyer beware? The current Australian position on the liability that a contractor owes to a subsequent owner of a building’ (2013) 150 Australian Construction Law Newsletter 50
Olivia Aliwarga (LLB), ‘A review of the legislative framework of the domestic building industry: Are consumers adequately protected?’ (2011) 42 Building Dispute Practitioners Society Newsletter 12 – Winner of the 2011 BDPS Student Prize
Final words by JQ;
“But this is just, as Commissioner Dyson Heydon might say, the tip of the iceberg. It’s pretty clear that a more comprehensive inquiry would reveal extensive wrongdoing by senior ministers, and just about everyone involved in the Commission. ”
Tremendous that we have this concentrated solar power tower virtually operational in Port Augusta and I suppose we had to do it the way we did it, just to have the first really big solar tower on the continent. But in my view we, I mean we Australians, need to get absolutely awesome at building these ourselves with virtually the entire supply chain able to make these stations … that supply chain should one day be almost totally Australian.
There is a time-lapse photography of the Dane company Aalborg putting up the Port Augusta tower and heliostats. Probably with parts sourced over the entire globe. They did it very quickly. But I think the cost was something over 650 million AUD. Now thats great. We have the first one. We have our people working with it. Fine. We didn’t need to reinvent the wheel. Didn’t need to make all the same mistakes the Danes and the Spanish made and all that good stuff.
But we don’t want to fall into this trap of going into more and more debt getting foreigners to do everything for us. You cannot beat compound interest and those few who can are called millionaires. Government undertakings can be more effective than those of millionaires. But if we want to succeed with communist undertakings we need longer lead-times, and we cannot do things under the shadow of compound interest.
So we ought to be following up this project with first getting into surplus budgets, and then with a commitment to just providing enough cash-flow for getting local suppliers slowly up to speed with supplying all this gear locally. And to do this cost-effectively, for a long time it may be just a one Heliostat a month gig. Then without rushing, and once the cost is cheaper than the global price, we slowly get it to one Heliostat a week. Than one a day. Might take many years to get even that far cost-effectively.
You see now we have the CSP power plant and the exponential interest on the debt. The bankers have the usurious income. The Danes have the cash money and the growing expertise. Is this an unambiguously good deal for Australia? I think we need to aspire to a continuous supply of heliostats as the first “pioneer tree” to greening the deserts entire. I think we need to cut out the usurers as unnecessary overhead. I think we want to be constantly struggling with the over-employment of Australians.
We may need to go back to the Danes or the Spanish one or two more times. But in the end our aspirations ought to be to slowly grow more cost-effective momentum so these Heliostats cover the desert, ahead of the greening going on underneath them. Since we must be patient to be cost-effective we need to start last Wednesday.
“I like the idea of silicon over molten salts as a phase change material, and it should have a much higher energy density than molten salts.”
I want to thank Nick for this tremendous suggestion, even though I at first showed skepticism at the idea. Its actually the keystone to my fantasy of a CSP energy corridor between Alice Springs and Tennant Creek. It completes the entire strategy. Because it makes all these industrial heat applications possible and as the driving force to the project. Of course unlike the rest of you I would wish for Thorium fission to slot into this situation after we are good and cost-effective at the rest of what we are doing.
Even halfway through writing a knee-jerk critique at the idea, you can see me warming to it sentence by sentence.
If history is any guide we may go through a period of competitive currency devaluations. Being as people eventually get jack of neo-classical foolishness and they begin to realise that trade deficits actually are a real problem and that in the end its pointless to get in a rumble against compound interest.
Getting in a fight of who can have the weakest currency may be a bad thing. Tariffs are worse. Worse than tariffs is losing your manufacturing. I favour a big tax surpluses/ tight money /weak AUD policy ……. but letting anyone who cannot threaten us sell anything they want and particularly sole traders. What could be more hateful than preventing a sole trader from Botswana selling stuff to us?
But I won’t oppose a move towards tariffs in the face of lunatic neoclassicals who say that trade deficits don’t matter. I’ll just tell people that there are better ways to go about things than tariffs. But I will wish them well and recognise the validity of their concerns.
If we get ahead of the problem and have a policy of always having strong trade surpluses (without tariffs and net of the mining industry) then when a crisis breaks out we can be a good neighbour and not panic and run big trade deficits for awhile as our good good friends in other countries get their acts together. But currently our neo-classicals, glibbertarians and fibbertarians have us following a Nauru bird poo strategy. Indeed a strategy much worse than Nauru ever contemplated.
So we are late to the party and when everyone tries to devalue thats a failure all around, so another option is to devalue against real things. And if we get ahead of the curve we want to start buying those elements that are needed for our energy future and for our defence future. So by accumulating these metals, when we have the labour force to expand our energy and defence capabilities, we won’t blow out costs.
These metals to stockpile are nickel, silver, titanium and tungsten. Gold has already priced itself outside of these considerations for historical monetary reasons. Tungsten is needed for CSP liquid silicon high heat applications (thank you Nick) and is the only ethical heavy metal we want for defence measures.
When the Americans fought the first gulf war it raised an eyebrow with me that they were using depleted uranium in their armaments. At the time I made the excuse that they had developed these weapons for an all-out war with the nuclearized Soviet Union and so we could let the Americans off the hook. The second gulf war … well as the years went by my excuses for these lunatics started running out. To use depleted uranium against a third world country in war of choice is a war crime. You could keep it in the basement for a few weeks and not worry about it. But if you using it in weaponry thats just poisoning the entire population. Really the Americans had no excuse the second time around, and we don’t have any excuses to do likewise, and therefore we ought to be accumulating Tungsten. “Heavy Metal Don’t Mean Rock And Roll To Me.”
So its silver, nickel, titanium and tungsten that we ought to start accumulating out of surplus budgets. Ahead of being fantastic at putting heliostats in the deserts and weaponry in the field or in the air.
Oops I forgot Antimony. Antimony is the most likely medium-rare element needed for liquid metal batteries. So its antimony, nickel, silver, titanium and tungsten. We need to accumulate these, so that when our production supply chain, and our workforce skills base is mature, there need be no cost blowouts.