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

26 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. “The evidence for these claims was scant, but that didn’t matter. By 1936, Lysenko led a major research institute and was a member of the Central Executive Committee, the nexus of Soviet power. With the help of a government-appointed philosopher, Lysenko developed a theory of his work that mixed Marxism with the discredited ideas of French naturalist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck. The offspring of vernalized plants, he argued, could inherit that acquired characteristic, so that by changing their environment he could create new breeds of staple crops in a fraction of the time of traditional breeding techniques—just as, by changing the environment of the working class, communism could create a new breed of men.

    “All the claims were based on a principle of malleability, that genes were not all that important,” says Loren Graham, an emeritus historian at Harvard who has tracked Lysenko’s career. “Lysenko was a little unclear on the existence of genes.”

    Sounds familiar…
    “just as, by changing the [ market ] environment of the working class [ finance banking ], communism [capitalism ] could create a new breed of men [ society ].”

  2. I’d like to support KT2: Lysenko’s role in Soviet science was explained by the USSR in ‘The situation in biological science’ (Moscow Publishing House) and in many Western books e.g. Julian Huxley 1949 Soviet genetics and world science: Lysenko and the meaning of heredity. (London, Chatto and Windus). Later writers (Zirkle, Medvedev) added more, but what was happening was clear: a certain kind of leadership allowed charlatans free reign. It is indeed happening again.

  3. The idea of investigating China’s possible negligence early on in the Covid crisis is gathering steam .A demand for reparations to be paid is popular too. When superpowers make mistakes they should be made to pay. The US military has directly killed about 7 – 10 million since the end of WW2 ,seriously wounded could total 50 million with 100’s of millions of refugees. Sanctions have killed millions too, then there is the sponsorship of cruel regimes and coups. Also I would like to know if the ‘Spanish Flu’ was really taken to Europe by US soldiers .Yes ,I think investigating with a view to reparations is a good idea.

  4. sunshine,

    1. China did show some negligence and lack of transparency but also considerable competence after that, albeit at some cost to the human rights of Chinese citizens. (And I am no apologist for the Chinese totalitarian regime as my other posts trenchantly criticizing China show.)

    2. The rest of the world showed negligence and incompetence on an ignobly grand scale. We are responsible for 90% of our own mess. I would sheet 10% of the blame home to China because of the eating of wild-life foods like bats and simians which is ethically abhorrent and highly dangerous to all humans in a connected world.

    3. All superpowers have committed and will again commit atrocities until they collapse (and they will collapse). It’s what they do with power in the search of more power, wealth and resources (leading ultimately to collapse of course).

    4. Realpolitik and real power (especially large armies and nuclear bombs) mean that no superpower can ever be held to account even by another superpower unless they want mutually assured destruction.

    5. The reparations call is political theater playing to the jingoistic nationalism of the domestic audience. It’s a sign of frustration, weakness and inability to cope properly with the crisis at hand.

  5. “What would this “societal consent” look like? How would it be measured? By referendum? Opinion poll?”^1 Or “So the worry for me is that if it snaps back it’ll catch a lot of people napping.”^2

    Viva la France!
    France has already put up a website to decide on;
    Theme 1 -“Le plus important, c’est la santé !”: quel système de santé demain ?”
    Theme 1 – “The most important thing is health!”: Which health system tomorrow?

    Theme 2 – Metro, work, robot ”: what world of work do we want?

    Theme 3 – “Consume with moderation”: towards a society of sobriety?

    Theme 4 – “Links rather than goods”: how to reweave solidarity?

    Theme 5 – “Education and youth”: how to build a learning society?

    Theme 6 – “Man in front of the machine”: can we humanize digital technology?

    Theme 7 – “A more open democracy”: how to share power?

    Theme 8 – “The future of our territories”: what new contract to strengthen them and preserve their diversity?

    Theme 9 – Europe in the world ”: how to recreate European and international solidarity?

    Theme 10 – “Our wealth is invisible”: how to better assess the common good?

    Theme 11 – “The nerve of war”: what funding & what new sharing of wealth?

    “Let’s all prepare the next day

    “The Covid-19 disaster, by its scale and speed, must force us to rethink our societies. As after each upsetting event, a profound questioning of our social fundamentals, our value scales and our production method arises.

    “Citizens, workers, associations, trade unionists, experts, elected officials: everyone is legitimate to reinvent our model of society by being proactive on the subjects that they consider to be priorities.

    “Over the next few days, let’s use the confinement to imagine what we want best. Let us be ambitious and daring for ourselves and for our planet.”

    “Parliment ouvert” = Open Parlimemt 
    lejourdapres = “the day after”

    I include this list below as an indicator of why we get snapback-  Australia snapback (no choice), and the French have “Let us be ambitious and daring for ourselves and for our planet” with “Parliment ouvert” = Open Parlimemt + lejourdapres = “the day after”

    List of incidents of civil unrest in France (see historical also)
    21st century

    2005: 2005 French riots, a series of riots that occurred in the suburbs of Paris and other French cities involving the burning of cars and public buildings at night.
    2006: 2006 youth protests in France, riots resulting from opposition to a measure set to deregulate labour in France.
    2007: 2007 Villiers-le-Bel riots, riots in theVal-d’Oise department that began following the deaths of two teenagers whose motorcycle collided with a police vehicle.
    2007–09: 2007–09 university protests in France, protest movements resulting from several reform projects under Minister for Higher Education and Research Valérie Pécresse.
    2009: 2009 French riots, a series of riots that occurred on Bastille Day (14 July) in the commune of Montreuil, an eastern suburb area of Paris.
    2013: 2013 Trappes riots, riots that broke out after police arrested a man who assaulted a police officer who tried to check the identity of his wife wearing a Muslim veil
    2014: 2014 Sarcelles riots, a pro-Palestinian protest against the Israeli ground invasion of Gaza degenerated into an antisemitic riot in Sarcelles, France.
    2016: 2016 French taxi driver strike, a strike by taxi drivers in several major cities against Uber, a transportation network company, included many road blockades, fires, overturned vehicles, and the blockade of roads leading to the two major airports in Paris.[6]
    2016: Nuit debout, protests that grew out of opposition to proposed labor reforms.
    2017: Protests started following accusations a police officer anally raped a young black man with a baton.[7] Anti-police protests continued well into March 2017 when migrants were met with resistance from Paris residents.
    2017: During May Day protests in Paris, a group of about 150[8] hooded demonstrators disrupted the march, throwing “Molotov cocktails, firebombs and other objects at the police near Place de la Bastille.”[9] These “violent protesters, who did not carry any union or election paraphernalia, appeared to be from the same fringe groups that have targeted anti-government protests in the past.”[9] Riot police responded with batons and tear gas.[9] Six police officers were injured, two of them seriously, by petrol bombs.[10]

    2018: Ongoing Yellow vests movement(French: Gilets jaunes protests) over dissatisfaction with wealth disparity and ongoing increases to fuel taxes.
    ^1. Over to you, talkback radio and citizen juries?
    16 APRIL 2020

    Calls for a “national discussion” paper over the reality of an evolving crisis

    Epidemiologist Tony Blakely also recommends full release of all modelling and options, suggesting, bizarrely, “citizen participation in deliberations, through mechanisms ranging from talkback radio to citizen juries”:

    We need to also hear from a wide range of experts to help us deliberate. Philosophers, ethicists, economists, public health experts and epidemiologists — to name just a few.

    At the end of this deliberation process, it will necessarily return to the politicians to “make the call.” But they need some sense of societal consent.

    What would this “societal consent” look like? How would it be measured? By referendum? Opinion poll? Even if it could be determined, it would chop and change as the weeks dragged on into months.”

    But I am also worried about this type of snapback – someone explain this please;

    ^2. “Speech RBA
    Panel participation at the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia
    Michele Bullock Assistant Governor (Financial System)
    2019 ASFA Conference Melbourne – 14 November 2019

    …”So you might say that’s fine, but this is still very unusual. And as risk-free rates are coming down, people are searching for yield. They’re looking for other things to invest in, and that’s pushing up asset prices in all sorts of other places. At the moment, notwithstanding the fact that there’s a lot of uncertainty about the global economy, and a lot of uncertainty about economies generally, corporate bond spreads are actually at historically low levels. That’s saying that there’s no compensation for the risk that some of these corporates in fact might face should there be a global economic downturn.

    So what does this all mean? Why might this be a worry? 

    Well, the reason it might be a worry is if things 
    snap back, 
    if for example, inflation reasserts itself, so you see the traditional relationship between unemployment and inflation reassert itself, you might see a snapback in these risk-free rates. If that happens, you might see asset prices fall in other places, and if that happens, and people are in debt, and they’ve got lots of leverage, you’ve potentially got issues for the financial system.

    It might be that the economies around the world in fact continue to not perform very well, and trade tensions worsen, and all those sorts of things, in which case you’d have to wonder about the financial viability of some corporates. So this is all just saying that you’ve got these really low rates of interest. You’ve got these really low risk premia, and you’ve got an uncertain world, and something just doesn’t seem right about that. So the worry for me is that if it snaps back it’ll catch a lot of people napping.”…

    I wonder if Michele Bullock has chatted with scomo & joshie about the meaning of snapback?

  6. A menu of posibilities? Yes please.

    “What can literature tell us about the post-coronavirus world that lies beyond the dark mountains?From literary and historical clues to activist hopes, a menu of possibilities.

    “Which force will prevail, and what could be the contours of a desirable alternative? Let us slip back to literature for a moment and see what has been envisaged in the realm of imagination. In Kim Stanley Robinson’s Pacific Edge, which is set in the near future, a long and difficult legal struggle has led to a series of reforms which include limiting of company sizes, a ceiling on management pay packets, and nationalisation of energy, water and land.”

  7. And a book… YOU may effect.
    And comment please. JQ? Review?

    “Economics in the Age of COVID-19
    By Joshua Gans
    Forthcoming, The MIT Press

    “Please join us by leaving comments on the manuscript here, or by emailing them directly to the author at Feel free to share the link to this page with anyone who may be interested, whether or not they intend to leave comments. We hope that the information contained here helps you navigate through this uncertain time.”
    Draft DOI: 10.21428/a11c83b7.c48fa91b


  8. Yes iko all that is true .Now might be a good time for us to prepare for reconsidering our embarrassingly slavish alliance with the US and repositioning toward a more independent regional one that would include China .There is no point following the US over the cliff edge they appear to be rapidly approaching. A lot will happen over the next 12 months ,the coming US election is crucial, but the signs aren’t good. Unfortunately ,baring the not insignificant possibility of large scale civil disorder there, the US will continue to have the most potentially destructive military for a decade or more. With a chaotic homeland their military might become even more of a problem for the rest of the world.

  9. sunshine,

    The USA is a major problem of course but China as an ally? I don’t think so. China is an authoritarian state let us not forget that. The USA might still listen to the democracies of the EU, Canada and Australia (last and least) and become a little more “sensible” for again want of a better word. I did say “might”.

    Natural bloc interests will basically pit the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (China, Russia and Central Asia) against most of the rest of the world. Where India lines up could be telling. But with global collapse now on the way, big regions will destabilize and collapse starting with Africa and the Middle East most likely. These collapses will destabilize the entire world system. As I have said before, I give homo sapiens about a 50% chance of still being around in 2100.

  10. The year 2100 is a long long way off. I bet there is only a small chance of nuclear weapons staying safely in their launching places for that long .There is an impressive list of near misses already .It probably wouldn’t have triggered a nuclear exchange but check out the 1980 US Damascus missile explosion, the missiles fuel ignited and its warhead was blown off landing 30 meters from the silo but didn’t go off. New quite possibly worse global pandemics look to be a certainty and climate problems are too. Humans breed like rats and with so many already here some ,possibly many, would surely survive that date. Multiple different catastrophes on top of each other could take a huge toll though.

  11. On December 31st 2019 I would have put the odds of humans being around in 2050 at 33% and humans being around by 2100 at .05%. I have become much more optomistic in the past 3 months.
    Now I put the chances of humans being around in 2050 at 66% and being around in 2010 at 2.5%.
    Why the higher relative long term aasessment. Because for me the crucial event for humanity will be the complete melting of the ice covering the Arctic Ocean. If that event can be pushed back we will lenghten human history.
    It seems to me that the key to savng that ice at this point depends upon developing nuclear fussion technology. Who can say what the chances of that are? But if humanity takes radical action we could delay the melting of the Arcitc ice cover for awhile which would give humanity extra time to develope and deploy working nuclear fussion. Furthermore I suspect that if a leadership can come to power that is operating on good faith there is a better chance that this leadership will get the covert support of the simulation administrators or perhaps sympathetic aliens and more scientists will have eureka momements or very lucky chance discoveries which will increase our chances of arriving at a result that the simulation administrators or aliens would be pleased with.
    The odds for humanity are still bad. I think one event that would really shift things in favor of human survival would be if Canada made a public decleration of war against the USA. Sadly the Canadians have to figure out this for themselves. Nothing that I can do or say at this point is going to help them along this path. It is the Shining Path.

  12. Corporate capitalists should never be bailed out. They don’t even pay taxes in some cases when they can get away with avoiding them. It’s a good thing our government has refused to bail out Virgin Australia. These businesses take on massive debt at zero or nearly zero interest rates and at the same time they indulge in grotesquely high CEO and executive pay and bonuses plus share buybacks and high dividend payouts. The net result is that they have no cash reserves for a business downturn or a black swan event. Such businesses deserve to fail and should be left to fail.

    The claim that Australia needs an airline duopoly is nonsense. Out history has shown we can only support one regional, national and international carrier due to our small population and long distances. It is a natural monopoly situation, The Federal Government, if it is required to assist QANTAS, should demand and receive adequate shares for that assistance. The long term goal should be for the Federal Government to become a majority shareholder in QANTAS. Conflict of interest claims by corporations ring hollow when they avoid taxes, manipulate stock prices and demand bailouts and quantitative easing to feather their tax avoidance havens. The Federal Government should use its power to assist ordinary people not corporations and decamillionaires and above.

    The people who count are the ordinary workers who will lose jobs because of the failure of Virgin Australia. The way to help these people is not to prop up poor business models based on cheap finance and executive and shareholder greed. The way to help them is to create new government businesses and enterprises (not all for profit) in the natural monopoly areas of water, power, infrastructure, transport, health, welfare, education and environmental remediation. Our society and planet need a shift of resource use from pure consumption to productive resource-saving, pollution-preventing investments.

  13. And a roadmap.

    Roadmap to Pandemic Resilience

    “Our bipartisan group of experts in economics, public health, technology, and ethics from across the country, with support from The Rockefeller Foundation, has released the nation’s first comprehensive operational roadmap for mobilizing and reopening the U.S. economy in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.

    “Roadmap to Pandemic Resilience: Massive Scale Testing, Tracing, and Supported Isolation (TTSI) as the Path to Pandemic Resilience for a Free Society,” lays out how a massive scale-up of testing, paired with contact tracing and supported isolation, can rebuild trust in our personal safety and re-mobilize the U.S. economy. 

    Among the report’s top recommendations is the need to deliver at least 5 million tests per day by early June to help ensure a safe social opening. This number will need to increase to 20 million tests per day by mid-summer to fully re-mobilize the economy.

    [ Tests using above US ratio of test / popn = 330m/5 t per day = 1 in 66 or 25m / 66 = 379,000 rising to approx 1.5m tests per day! ]

    For a video explanation of the Roadmap, see Vi Hart’s transcript;
    And video “How We Reopen” on YouTube. 

    You can also find the report and related material at the Pandemic Resilience Roadmap website,

    At our house we love Vi Hart. If you have kids or grandkids, please show them Vi Hart videos on pi, hexaflexagons etc. Excellent.

  14. Where do I sign up? We have the highest testing rate – don’t we? “it’s actually reckless to begin lifting before we have any information – or enough information – about how the virus moves through a community.”

    “What is the benefit of testing every single person?
    Over and over, we see people saying that they’re ready to lift the distancing restrictions and open everything back up, but it’s actually reckless to begin lifting before we have any information – or enough information – about how the virus moves through a community. We can’t safely start returning to normal life until we learn more about the transmission of the virus, until we learn about the development of antibodies – the extent to which they give us immunity, and for how long. Community-wide testing is really what we need in order to answer some of those questions.”

    Vo, Italy.
    Now –  Bolinas in California
    When – here???

    “COVID-19 Testing in Mission District, Bolinas to Inform Next Steps in Fight Against Disease

    “Comprehensive Study of Virus’s Spread in Distinctive Bay Area Communities

    “The new study aims to counteract the lack of data about the community spread of SARS-CoV-2 that has made the virus so challenging to combat – in part because many people who become infected never show symptoms but can still spread the illness, and many who experience symptoms but recover without hospitalization have never been tested.

    “All our public health decisions, including when it will be possible to relax regional and statewide shelter-in-place orders, are driven by rough assumptions about how this virus behaves based on very limited data,” said Greenhouse, an associate professor of medicine at UCSF and a CZ Biohub Investigator. “Studying in detail how the virus has spread in these two distinctive communities will give us crucial data points that we can extrapolate to better predict how to control the virus in similar communities nationwide.”

    “Free COVID-19 Testing For The Entire Bolinas Community
    April 20th-23rd, Mesa Park.
    A drive-through only test, in partnership with leading infectious disease experts at UCSF.

    Our local McDonald’s & KFC drive through commandeered + hospital open from 5am (health/ cops/mine workers!) to midnight at 2min per test approx 1500 per day = 8 days to cover my local area. Real data please.

  15. I thought Monday Message Board would be the right place for this post. Some people have written on this blog before about procedures for claiming a pension or benefit from Centrelink. I believe they were working to help others; vulnerable or disabled people. I have some questions but first a bit of background.

    I turn 66 in less than 13 weeks, being born in 1954. I begged and pleaded with my wife to let me NOT claim age pension, at least not yet. My reasons were:

    (1) I might or might not get it, probably being on the boundary of eligibility.
    (2) Centrelink are now so overwhelmed that they probably won’t be able to process my application in the next 12 months at best (my estimate based on the current mess).
    (3) The pitiable amount I would be paid, if any, would not be worth the infuriating trouble of claiming.

    But my good wife has decreed I must claim, and as she helps a lot with finding documentation, I can hardly say no. Lock-down means one must be amenable and accommodating at all times.

    I have never had a CRN. My wife got the family allowance at one stage so she has a CRN.

    It seems to get a CRN for an age pension application, I have to ring Centrelink or go in, in person. The latter course of action is out of the question, so I have to ring. It is my (typically pessimistic) assessment that I could hang on the phone, or await a callback, all day and it would never come. Is my assessment too pessimistic?

    I have some broader observations too. I am university educated but with a mere arts pass and a few science subjects. I actually used to work in Centerlink up till about 12 years ago. I am computer and web site literate to some reasonable extent. I can even do relatively simple computer programming. However, finding out how to navigate the contemporary Centrelink site, the myGov site and the relationship between these two does not seem possible from the information on the sites alone. One has to research further afield. If I struggle, with my wife’s help and my own background, how do people with less advantages cope? Admittedly, I do struggle because I lack patience with what I term “illogically designed crap” and I am prone to pound the desk and make statements like “Life’s too short for this crap”.

    Compare this existing mess to the logical simplicity, greater social welfare provision and more efficient, humane and respectful welfare delivery of a UBI plus JG. There really is no comparison.

    But any hints on the best way to get CRN would be greatly appreciated.

  16. Hix, Belgium’s figures suspected COVID-19 deaths rather than just confirmed, so things are probably much the same as Italy or Spain. That is, terrible.

  17. A High (Supreme) Court is not valid unless it has 13 members. Lots of people might treat the rulings of such a court with less than 13 members as valid. But they are in error when they do so. That does not mean that all High court rulings should be disobeyed. It means that it is up to you to determine the legitimacy of the rulings.
    A High Court with 13 members is not sufficient to make it legitimate. That is a prerequisit though.

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