Monday Message Board

Back again with 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

41 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. The assasination of General Qassem Soleimani seems an action that will have many unintended consequences. He was a military leader of a country the US had not declared war on and he was killed in a third country. It seems he was on a peace mission to that third country to deal with the Iran-Saudi conflict. In the past, he had collaborated with the US in defeating ISIS. The claim that he was planning to bomb US embassies is not based on evidence and is already being disputed within the Republican Party.

    A dangerous and immoral action.

  2. Harry

    the new American doctrine is they do what they want, because they can, because they have the power to do what they want. This applies across the board, from trade disputes to killing people. The American commitment to the rule of law was always inconsistent and self-serving but now they don’t even pretend.

  3. My concern from Taiwan is if the US gets themselves embroiled in another immoral and senseless war in the Middle East, the Chinese Communist Party might feel they have the space and opportunity to take a harder crack at annexing our country, whatever form that may take. (It’s odd as a loud critic of US imperialism to find a situation later in life where it is actually a force keeping me and my family safe from CCP tyranny – given that neither is obviously preferable, but if you had to pick one, US or CCP imperialism, which would you choose?).

  4. Harry, I’m reading quite a few US people saying that of course the US is/was at war with Iran, that Iraq is a vassal state that is the site of a shooting war and so the murder was entirely appropriate and reasonable. They do not like even the question “what if Iraq responded by killing a US general in Canada”, let alone the more common scenario “an Iranian drone strike kills 50 people at Malia Obama’s wedding”.

    The US has been above the law for a long time (their refusal to join the ICC for example) and has an equally long history in Iran (their work to install the Shah for example). Mind you, it’s not just Iran they actively meddle in, allegedly they were involved with The Dismissal here in ‘straya.

    What holds Iran back is the long history of US retaliatory massacres. They know that if they kill even a single US citizen the US will slaughter as many Iranians as they feel appropriate,but unlikely to be less than the traditional ratio (10:1).

  5. Timothy “Niven but if you had to pick one, US or CCP imperialism, which would you choose?”

    Absolutely 100% I’d be a refugee. So obviously, I’d be declared a danger or insane by fearful people and shot at the time of the choice.

    Moz of Yarramulla, pardon my ignorance, but is “the traditional ratio (10:1)” for retaliation a documented or accepted rule of thumb? Your phrasing makes it seem as tho there is a rule.

  6. From;

    “Multi-century cool- and warm-season rainfall reconstructions for Australia’s major climatic regions

    [ JQ – cry – 9 mths to pub. ]
    Received: 28 Feb 2017 –Discussion started: 10 Mar 2017 –Revised: 17 Oct 2017 – Accepted: 17 Oct 2017 –Published: 30 Nov 2017

    “… We find that recent 30- and 50-year trends towards wetter conditions in tropical northern Australia are highly unusual in the multi-century context of our reconstruction.

    “identifies a number of severe droughts over the past several centuries that vary widely in their spatial footprint, highlighting the high degree of diversity in historical droughts across the Australian continent. ”

    Multi-century cool and warm season rainfall reconstructions forAustralia’s major climatic regions: Data and additional information on a seasonal rainfall reconstruction of major the eight natural resource management regions (NRM) based on paleoclimate data

  7. When dealing with freedom fighters Godwin’s military would line up the civilian townsfolk and murder 10 for every Nazi soldier killed. The US* is in some ways better, they just spray munitions around the landscape and slaughter anyone in the area indiscriminately. There are chunks of the world where the buzzing sound of an aircraft never goes away and intermittently results in arbitrary deaths.

    * including their allies such as the valiant soldiers of the Australian Army and the notoriously open and peace-loving NZ SAS

  8. Entertaining theory – the kind that ought to be true even if it isn’t – that the popularity of EVs in China, including expensive foreign ones like Teslas, is in part down to sexual selection. (That’s the counterintuitive theory in biology that explains beautiful but practically useless plumage in male birds of paradise, etc.) The story goes that as a result of the one-child policy and selective abortion, there is a huge shortage of Chinese brides. A de facto bride-price system has evolved, in which luxury cars play a big role. The young man has to impress the girl as well as her parents. It’s plausible that women value more highly the virtues of EVs such as quiet, ease of driving, and greenness, and are less concerned by the range drawback. The price is not her concern. Well?

  9. Ho Chi Minh – “You will kill ten of us, we will kill one of you, but in the end, you will tire of it first.” …

  10. Another entertaining theory (from ABC radio Big Ideas recently) – Comparing domesticated animals to their nearest wild ancestors yields a set of physical and psychological changes that favor typically feminine traits, such as being physically smaller ,less re actively aggressive ,more cooperative ,less volatile , smaller brains , and some others. Interestingly comparing modern humans to our distant ancestors shows the same differences. Modern humans are a domesticated version of our species. Alpha males were selected against when groups realised they could conspire to easily overwhelm and kill them .Hunter gatherers do that ,Chimps do it too. So too our modern ‘civilised ‘ violence tends to be collaborative .Being better cooperators allows for much bigger groups that may have let Homo Sapiens prevail over our obviously physically and perhaps also mentally superior rival humans – on this historian Yuval Noah Harari concurs .The pea brained Sapiens won ! Size isn’t everything for brains .

  11. General Soleimani was an awful man, responsible for many thousands of deaths. He got what he deserved. One less mass murdering theocratic fascist. What the US did may or may not be dangerous but certainly not immoral.

  12. Tech snippets.

    – The low price of monocrystalline PV modules (state of the mass-production art, about 20% efficient) has hit 20.0 US cents per watt, according to the trade site PVInsights ( The average price is 22.1 cents. Chinese manufacturers have done well in replacing falling domestic demand (from a screwed-up subsidy “reform” last year). but the hitch has put prices under downward pressure. If Chinese demand rebounds, expect the price trend to flatten; but leading manufacturers like Jinko and Longi are still expanding capacity, so the long-term trend is still down.

    – Kyocera are putting li-ion battery cells into production using a “semi-solid” electrolyte ( They claim lower costs and better safety, not higher density. The technology is from US startup 24M, which has been working on it for 5 years. The pace of technical innovation in batteries is actually quite slow, as with PV cells; the cost reductions are mostly driven by economies of scale. They are still real and steady. Range anxiety for EVs will go away.

    – The US Virginian utility Dominion has gone operational with its scheme to subsidise electric school buses in exchange for V2G use of the batteries when they are in the depot ( Dominion is a typically grasping and gas-dependent regulated monopoly utility, with no axe to grind on V2G. It’s a striking and authoritative endorsement of the technical feasibility of V2G, and in this use case of its financial attractiveness. Expect further deals for other fleet users. To be welcomed: see La Rochefoucauld on hypocrisy.

    The technology for the transition is moving ahead just fine. Calls like Kevin Drum’s or Bill Gates’ for massive R&D à la Manhattan Project are a cargo cult. (Exception: carbon sequestration.) the problem is on the policy side, and the Masada-like resistance of the fossil fuel lobby. Two policy snippets to cheer you up (against a burning sky, I know):

    – Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has vetoed a recommendation from his technocrats to water down the current net metering scheme for distributed solar, and make solar generators pay a contribution towards transmission and distribution costs ( This is a vexed question among wonks, and you can make a case for either policy. Bolsonaro is a right-wing populist, and his decision was not motivated by such considerations but by popularity among middle-class voters and the interests of businesses keen to sell electricity at a tidy profit from their factory and warehouse roofs. Also, the losers are the unionised state electrical utilities.
    Right-wing populism is quite compatible with support for renewables; see also India (spectacularly) and Hungary. It can go the other way, as in Australia, the USA and Poland. In all three the pro-fossil policy has failed, while Modi rides high. Expect Johnson to follow him not ScoMo.

    – IRENA, the green energy IGO, published last year a scenario for 1.5 degrees C (pdf page 31, This calls for a doubling of global green energy investment (including transmission and storage) from $332 bn in 2018 to $730 bn in 2030. The money would mostly come from halving fossil fuel investment over the decade from the reference case, currently running at $1 trn a year. Total investment is 15% higher ($110 trn over the decade against $95trn). Of course, after that you are saving money from the negligible running costs of renewable generation and the not negligible but still low running costs of EVs. This is all clearly doable with a bit of the Greta spirit, or even a Modi eye for the main chance. Not with dithering ScoMos and Trumps in charge.

  13. > Range anxiety for EVs will go away.

    I’m kinda tempted to liken range anxiety to race anxiety. It doesn’t go away because of new facts, it goes away because of familiarity. I expect a wave of “EVs are stupid because… except my one is actually quite good”. Which will follow from “my neighbour’s one is quite good”.

    The car cultists often refer somewhat dismissively to “shopping baskets” in the sense of “that looks like a car but it’s a shopping basket”, and I can really see those becoming electric because the people most worried about range anxiety will buy one “for the wife” because they’re simpler to maintain and cheaper to run. Don’t be surprised if “wifey” wants one for exactly the same reasons, just phrased subtly differently 🙂

  14. TEOTWAWKI update
    Monday January 13, 2020
    Edge of Extinction: Australian Fires Predicted Long Ago
    December 13, 2019
    Abrupt, Irreversible Climate Change
    Nothing will remain on earth, or under the earth or in the waters which will not be persecuted, disturbed and spoiled, and those of one country removed into another. And their bodies will become the sepulture and means of transit of all they have killed.
    ~ Leonardo da Vinci
    The Aerosol Masking Effect: A Brief Overview
    October 7, 2019
    It was, of course a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal god and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.
    ~ Albert Einstein
    Am I an Anti-Natalist?
    October 29, 2019
    If children were brought into the world by an act of pure reason alone, would the human race continue to exist? Would not a man rather have so much sympathy with the coming generation as to spare it the burden of existence, or at any rate not take it upon himself to impose that burden upon it in cold blood? ~ Arthur Schopenhauer
    The McPherson Paradox, Very Briefly
    October 25, 2019
    Anarchism? You bet your sweet betsy. The only cure for the ills of democracy is more democracy. Much more.
    ~ Edward Abbey
    Edge of Extinction: Indigenous Peoples
    October 23, 2019

  15. The only cure for the ills of democracy is more democracy.

    I’ve said that before now more than once, so I’m particularly interested to discover that somebody else is on record as having said the same, and now plan to seek out more information about this Edward Abbey.

  16. Its good to see that Justin Trudeau has stated that much of the blame for the passenger plane downing goes with the actions of the US and Donald trump. Boris Johnson and the EU wants the US to make another anti nuke deal with Iran – so that they can avoid having to deal with an even worse refugee crisis. The world is sick of having to deal with externalities of US policy.

  17. BlackRock are to pull the pin on fossil fuels. This is a pretty big signal as they are a huge asset manager.

  18. “BlackRock are to pull the pin…” as I heard it only on invested funds that are actively managed, only on those funds invested in businesses deriving >25% revenues from fossils, nothing on fossils support businesses, and timing of commencement of this unclear. Blackrock has lots more in more passively managed index funds that won’t be affected by this when it happens if it happens. Pretty weak really. Pure pr? Spin? Or are they truly worried about the rapid heating global extinction event brought on due to reduction of atmospheric aerosols that currently keep global temp around 2°C cooler than it otherwise should be?

  19. This paragraph from BlackRock is, apparently, the one which makes them legit;

    “BlackRock has been engaging with companies for several years on their progress towards TCFD- and SASB-aligned reporting. This year, we are asking the companies that we invest in on behalf of our clients to: (1) publish a disclosure in line with industry-specific SASB guidelines by year-end, if you have not already done so, or disclose a similar set of data in a way that is relevant to your particular business; and (2) disclose climate-related risks in line with the TCFD’s recommendations, if you have not already done so. This should include your plan for operating under a scenario where the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to less than two degrees is fully realized, as expressed by the TCFD guidelines.”

  20. According to wiki Siemens revenue for 2019 was €86.849B and elsewhere the value of its Adani contract is $A15M / €9.29M.

    If they make 15% they would nett $A1.39M

    In the overall scheme of things the Adani contract is only peanuts yet Siemens seem to risk a whole lot of bad publicity, with all its attendant consequences. Looking forward, that seems to be a risky investment.

  21. @ Alfred Jay Knock

    Didn’t realize Graeme was a synonym for desperate ungracious duplicity.

    Andrew, good catch. Graeme, please stop. You’rr wasting your own time as well as mine

  22. askarog, Siemens businesses are heavily into coal, construction, turbines, control systems, etc, elsewhere than Australia, including with Adani in India. Siemens would also be bidding for potential contracts / current contracts up for grabs on new builds and refurbishments of this stuff all over, including India, China, Australia, east Europe, the Americas, Africa. They wouldn’t very much like to piss off owners, co-investors, lenders, nor government agencies, governments, and politicians in the coal pocket. They are far more than just compromised by a little rail signalling in central Qld! That’s not to dismiss the NSW rail system money that goes their way, etc, amongst other Australian involvements with long term risk implications…

  23. The impossibility of turning the current “governments” stance on Global Warming is neatly encapsulated in this video. Like the activity elsewhere of Bridget Mckenzie, they are steadfastly without shame or morals. In the case of coal and Global Warming in general they are auto-wedged into a position they cannot leave even if they for some reason developed doubts. The only way around this deadly impasse is to ignore their existence and strike out afresh.

  24. Poselequestion – tragic that a prop was allowed in parliment.

    This link has one of the best cartoons re coal and adani – and references JQ. Worth a link here then…

    From David Popes site (thanks)…

    “Coal-fired country
    “The Minister for Coal warned students thatprotesting for climate action would only lead to the dole queue.

    “Lecturing the next generation of Australian voters to ignore global warming really should be an express ticket to the back of that queue. Instead, it will probably lead to a lucrative minerals industry lobbying job.

    “John Quiggin has written on where we’re at in the long struggle over Adani’s plans for a giant coal mine in Queensland.

    (The Canberra Times, 1 December 2018 |

  25. A group called Follow This are using a Trojan horse method of changing fossil fuel companies to act on emissions.

  26. akarog,
    I guess we’ll all have to boycott/blockade Siemens’ other businesses / business “partners”, such as NSW Rail, and when required now permanently in future seek out different radiologists, & etc, with other than Siemens installations and equipment.

    Kaeser’s language in that letter is just more of the same from him: conflicted, self-contradictory, duplicitous, out of touch, a pathetic attempt at covering a simple fact that fossil filthy Siemens/Kaeser will always take the money and run with it. Cripes they even try on a “Canavan, brother of the Qld coal mine owner, made me do it’!

  27. Coalophilia – An unreasoning ideological, pathological and money-grubbing love of coal and the climate change that comes with it.

  28. A smart wanna be 30yo, Peter Theil, Regans lawyer, rudi Guilianis ex editor, anti semite republican – what could go wrong?

    And how does this guy get to conclude – decide, privacy – YOURS & MY privacy – is dead?

    “Another early investor is a small firm called Kirenaga Partners. Its founder, David Scalzo, dismissed concerns about Clearview making the internet searchable by face, saying it’s a valuable crime-solving tool.

    “I’ve come to the conclusion that because information constantly increases, there’s never going to be privacy,” Scalzo said. “Laws have to determine what’s legal, but you can’t ban technology. Sure, that might lead to a dystopian future or something, but you can’t ban it.”

    “… an anti-Semite and self-described “pro-white” Republican running for Congress in Wisconsin — to use “unconventional databases” for “extreme opposition research”

    “Because police upload photos of people they’re trying to identify, Clearview possesses a growing database of individuals who have attracted attention from law enforcement. The company also has the ability to manipulate the results that police see. After the company realised I was asking officers to run my photo through the app, my face was flagged by Clearview’s systems and for a while showed no matches. When asked about this, Ton-That laughed and called it a “software bug”.

    “It’s creepy what they’re doing, but there will be many more of these companies. There is no monopoly on math,” said Al Gidari, a privacy professor at Stanford Law School. “Absent a very strong federal privacy law, we’re all screwed.”

    Ton-That said his company used only publicly available images. If you change a privacy setting in Facebook so that search engines can’t link to your profile, your Facebook photos won’t be included in the database, he said.

    At some point soon, we will need:
    – a bill of rights
    – constitution chg – my data is mine
    – a reverse licence to operate freely. Ala “you are a good person, we will call you first before the black ops swoop”. Which is a poxy proxy for social credit score.

    Oh, and lots of “utopia” stories to bend the next generatiin towards unattainable but worthy society, not distopia.

    “The Secretive Company That Might End Privacy as We Know It

    “A little-known start-up helps law enforcement match photos of unknown people to their online images — and “might lead to a dystopian future or something,” a backer says.”

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