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. I am frustrated by my inability to take my annual trip from frigid Melbourne to temperate Cairns/Port Douglas.

    Instead of bemoaning the fact that inbound and outbound international travel will not be possible in Australia for some time, get our tourism industry back on its feet by accommodating my desires by promoting domestic travel within Australia. In aggregate this would roughly cancel out the loss of foreign tourists. I don’t have recent data but inbound and outbound travel to and from Australia nearly cancel each other out in terms of injections and leakages from national income. Expenditure by international visitors to Australia totaled $34b in 2015–16 while outbound tourism was $38b.

    Obviously get rid of overly cautious barriers to interstate travel fostered by politicians/health bureaucrats who have enjoyed their day in the sun and their boosted authoritarian powers. Anastasia like Jo-Bjelke will protect Queenslanders from these feverish southerners. There are, after all, 150,000 direct jobs in the Queensland tourism industry.

    And free up domestic air travel to get Qantas and a restructured Virgin Airlines back in the air. Next step, flights to and from New Zealand. We do have an economy to operate.

  2. I too fear that opening up too soon will lead to a second wave of infections which could be worse than the first. It’s true that we don’t know for sure what will happen. However, it would be wise to proceed with caution. The right of someone with preexisting medical conditions to NOT be put at undue risk of premature death is greater than the right of someone to have a nice holiday. The issue is with the interpretations and risk estimates related to the term “undue”. There can be arguments around that for sure.

    Forgoing overseas travel is a saving to the Australian economy. That’s all to the good from an Australian economic perspective. The saving of a Victorian spending money in Qld. is a saving to the Victorian economy. That’s all to the good for Victoria if the money saved is spent in Victoria instead. Given that we are emitting too much CO2 and rushing pell-mell towards catastrophic climate change, the reduction of travel overall must be a good thing. The long-distance tourist industry is one of a number of industries which must shrink if we are to save the world from catastrophic climate change.

    The challenge will be to create a steady state, sustainable economy which does not rely on endless growth and demand-driven market economics. Capitalism is already ecologically obsolete. It’s past time that we recognized that.

  3. Harry should also stick to Ivanhoe and thereabouts. I would not like him spending money in other suburbs of Melbourne, and harming the Ivanhoe economy.

  4. Jason Wilson makes a great point in The Guardian today that Australia, as usual, has misinterpreted its good luck (a propos covid-19) as good management

    Also got a chuckle out of Dutton last week encouraging people to engage in civil disobedience against the Queensland govt. So much for that newfound spirit of cooperative federalism of which one has heard so much lately. Somehow I don’t think he’ll be strong-armed into a grovelling backdown like Tehan was

  5. > In aggregate this would roughly cancel out the loss of foreign tourists.

    Harry, you are assuming that Australians would spend as much travelling in Australia as they would travelling overseas and as foreigners would travelling here. I really doubt that. When people travel overseas they go for many weeks at a time. Not so when they travel domestically. Plus, their preparedness to spend overseas is much higher. People will travel to Europe and gladly spend $10,000 on accommodation and other expenses. No one will spend that much on a trip to the Gold Coast.

  6. What are you going to do when you get there? No bars open, social distancing still in force. No visits to the Reef etc.

  7. Instead of bemoaning the fact that inbound and outbound international travel will not be possible in Australia for some time, get our tourism industry back on its feet by accommodating my desires by promoting domestic travel within Australia.

    This is a very important point. No policy decisions should be confirmed until they have been checked against the ‘Does this accommodate the desires of Harry Clarke?’ test. There should be somebody in the Cabinet secretariat regularly assigned to this duty.

    Oh wait, no. I mean, the opposite of that.

  8. J-D

    If the High Court gets to decide on the constitutionality of the state border closures it should apply the “Is it good for Harry Clarke” test. It’s a venerable legal principle. Blackstone wrote about it at length in his Commentaries on the Laws of England.

  9. This thread needs a distraction. Here’s a freshly minted conspiracy theory for you, soundly based on SCIENCE and really quite plausible.

    It would be very valuable to know just how the covid virus infects its hosts. In particular, how infectious are asymptomatic and presymptomatic sufferers? They presumably shed lower numbers of virus than the symptomatic. And if you are exposed to a smaller number of viruses, does that change your chances of progressing to serious and possibly fatal illness? The question has certainly occurred to virologists. There is some evidence that low loads in influenza lead to milder infections.

    But there’s a snag – my emphasis:
    “.. The initial dose could be related to the severity of the infection. Researchers say that the load of the virus in the aerosols that lead to the infection and its proportionate effects on the severity of the disease can be determined only by “experimental challenge studies.” This means infecting healthy volunteers deliberately, which is ethically not permissible. “

    There are plenty of governments in the world, perhaps most, unscrupulous enough to override such ethical quibbles. The real barrier is that any research they got done could not be published in a reputable journal, and any scientist carrying it out would lose their international collaborators and prestige. But there’s a loophole. One small group of virologists don’t publish or collaborate anyway: those working in secret government biowarfare laboratories. (Entirely defensive, of course.) Their employers could get them to carry out challenge studies, say on groups of healthy long-term prisoners offered reduced sentences for taking part.

    The government of China ticks all the boxes here: means, motive, opportunity, scientific literacy, ruthlessness. Perhaps they already have the knowledge, acquired at an easily affordable cost in lives of incarcerated Uighurs, but for obvious reasons can’t release it. Watch out for Chinese policy action that makes better sense on the hypothesis than without it.

  10. Every major media outlet says the Federal Court ‘found long term casuals are entitled to paid leave’. Everyone from the ABC to the Murdoch vanity press has used that description.

    The Full Court of the Federal Court found nothing of the kind. And it went to some trouble to make clear what it said. Its judgment is accompanied by a Summary (WorkPac Pty Ltd v Rossato [2020] FCAFC 84).

    The Full Court found, again, that a worker wasn’t a casual. Had the worker been casual, various entitlements would have been excluded. Because the worker wasn’t casual, those entitlements applied.

    This is under arrangements between WorkPac and Glencore for coal mine work, on which the Full Court had already ruled in 2018 in the same way. Workers under those particular arrangements aren’t casuals. There was no appeal brought from the earlier decision.

    By pretending these decisions extend paid leave to casuals, the government ignores the real issues. By ignoring the 2018 decision to the same effect, the government implies a surprise, falsely.

    The press have not reported accurately. The real story is when and whether workers aren’t casuals. That’s a story readers should be told.

    The Glencore/WorkPac arrangement was for permanent employees, working side by side with permanent employees of Glencore and on the same basis, but paid rather less and called casuals. This undercut the standing enterprise arrangements for those Glencore mines.

    The Federal Court Full Court has now said, twice, that applying the label ‘casual’ to an employee is ineffective when the arrangements overall are for permanent employment.

    How does the government propose to make workers who aren’t casuals into casuals? Why should the government do so? You can’t be informed on this by the mainstream press. Instead you get employer, and government, stenography.

  11. Victoria University in Melbourne is under fire for outrageous interference by university management in the content of a course on human rights.

    One aspect of the issue is highlighted by this quote from the university. “Victoria University aims to provide a safe and inclusive space in the class room where controversial topics, such as this, can be explored and discussed freely by all students without fear or judgment”. This points to the uncomfortable fact that university managements are likely to interpret and apply the concept of “a safe and inclusive space” in ways that are not intended or anticipated by activists of various kinds campaigning for universities to provide “safe and inclusive” spaces.

  12. This points to the uncomfortable fact that university managements are likely to interpret and apply the concept of “a safe and inclusive space” in ways that are not intended or anticipated by activists of various kinds campaigning for universities to provide “safe and inclusive” spaces.

    True: this is an example of the more general phenomenon that terms used in laws, rules, instructions and so on can be interpreted and applied in ways not intended or anticipated by the people who wrote them. So what can people do about that? People who write laws, rules, instructions and so on should write them in the clearest language they can, but even after they’ve done that they haven’t eliminated the possibility of people interpreting and applying them in ways that weren’t intended or anticipated.

  13. James, sounds far more convincing than the average movie plot, but as it’s something that can and has been done with animals, you’d have to add word “stupid” to the list of characteristics of the Chinese researchers.

    Of course, if it was for a movie, I’d suggest the twist turns out to be the experiments were done by the mafia in Italy on refugees. Ticket sales will be much better in China that way.

  14. ‘Safe and inclusive’ – how often nowadays is ‘safety’ used by management as an excuse for authoritarian repression

    We need some modern George Orwell’s to skewer this nonsense. But they don’t exist though do they? The modern left is part of the problem when it comes to taking offence at open thinking. And the right just cherry pick which dissidents they support.

  15. Okay, my take…
    Universities? They got shafted…until you remember the non-permanent casual staff; they, they got really shafted! Trouble is, since their employer wasn’t accepted into the job-keeper program, all these casual, less than 12 months employed, staff were (let go) f*cked off. Very unpleasant, for those caught up in the swirl. Anyway, the universities, they can survive a downturn, but how can their 30–70% casual staff handle that?

    I know, based on basic humanity, that most universities wouldn’t want the rough end of the pineapple to be borne by the casual staff. However, if that were so, they’d be diving in to help the casual/non-permanent staff our, right? Can’t wait to see the unis really kicking up dust against the current government.

  16. Following on from BlackRock, BAML have put out this advice for the oil/gas industry

    Covid19 could be final nail in the coffin for sector with OPEC crisis: EVs impact on demand, growth of renewables & energy storage, plastic backlash/petchem risk

    and mining;

    Coronavirus to accelerate climate change decarbonization

    Who wants to place a bet against BAML?

    Click to access the_world_after_covid.pdf

  17. 30 million unemployed in the US but yesterday the S&P 500 closed a mere 11.7 % below its February high. US stock markets, up to February, enjoyed their longest bull run in history and by all accounts were anything but undervalued then.

    Now after the economic plunge of the century they are off a mere 11.7%. The implied economic forecast is a sharp V recovery with not much residual economic damage after 2020.

    Some claim that the surge since February is due to the Fed’s money creation. Some (like Greg Mankiw) that most of those unemployed will shift back into jobs they previously held without many ongoing job losses.

    Maybe. But it seems to be the weirdest US stock market ever. The obvious question: Will there be a massive forthcoming plunge and further economic dramas?

  18. “That road leads ultimately to war, as it did in the 1930s.”

    Taxation and Business: The Human Rights Dimension of Corporate Tax Practices

    If we want to narrow the North-South divide that threatens our world, some limits on tax competition are inevitable. The world faces a crucial choice in the 2020s. We can either continue retreating from globalization in favor of xenophobic nationalism, tariffs, immigration restrictions, and exchange controls. That road leads ultimately to war, as it did in the 1930s. Or we can revive globalization by investing in a robust social safety net, infrastructure, education, and job creation. While more needs to be done, we have made significant progress in curbing tax competition in the last decade. The key move now is to take the added revenue and spend it wisely.
    Keywords: Tax Competition, Human Rights, Inequality

    Taxation and Business: The Human Rights Dimension of Corporate Tax Practices

    U of Michigan Public Law Research Paper No. 678

    U of Michigan Law & Econ Research Paper No. 20-014
    Reuven S. Avi-Yonah
    University of Michigan Law School
    Date Written: April 15, 2020

    – “The key move now is to take the added revenue and spend it wisely.” –

    “The Big Failure of Small Government
    If the money falls on empty, weak, or poorly managed structures, it will have little effect, and may simply be sucked into the financial sector. Too many lives are at stake to repeat past errors.

    Rather than simply outsourcing with few questions asked, it [ Vietnam ] used public research and development funding and procurement to drive innovation. The resulting public-private collaboration enabled rapid commercialization of kits, which are now being exported to Europe and beyond.

    New Zealand is another success story, and not by coincidence. After initially adopting the outsourcing mantra in the 1980s, the New Zealand government changed course, embracing a “spirit of service” and an “ethic of care” across its public services, and becoming the first country in the world to adopt a wellbeing budget.

  19. ‘Safe and inclusive’ – how often nowadays is ‘safety’ used by management as an excuse for authoritarian repression

    How often? Not often. Rarely.

    That’s good, isn’t it?

  20. “30 million unemployed in the US but yesterday the S&P 500 closed a mere 11.7 % below its February high.”

    This is thanks to the four tech giants, who are all more or less back to their pre-Corona share prices. Between them they account for about 20% of the market cap of the S&P 500. The rest of the US Stockmarket isn’t all that flash.

  21. The modern left is part of the problem when it comes to taking offence at open thinking.

    Neither the modern left nor anybody else takes offence at open thinking, because nobody knows what anybody is thinking until it manifests in action, a category which includes speech. People (including the modern left) do take offence (sometimes) at things people say, but why shouldn’t they? The idea that nobody should ever take offence at anything anybody ever says is patently ridiculous. Would you take offence at my saying so?

  22. James Wimberley says at 12:42 am

    “This means infecting healthy volunteers deliberately, which is ethically not permissible”


    “I am interested in being exposed to the coronavirus to speed up vaccine development.

    Volunteer For Challenge Trial
    Sign up here if you may wish to participate in a human challenge trial for COVID-19 if one were to occur, and, potentially, advocate for safe and rapid vaccine development. 

    Volunteers – 25104
    Countries – 102

    While any estimate is deeply uncertain, to give a sense of the scale of a vaccine’s impact, suppose one sixth of the world acquires COVID-19 each year. If a vaccine would avert 0.2% of those people from dying, speeding up vaccine development by:
    1 day saves 7,120 lives
    1 week saves 55,000 lives
    1 month saves 220,000 lives
    3 months saves over half a million lives

    No. I am not volunteering. You? And the number of saved lives… hmmm.

  23. Don’t Expect A Quick Recovery. Our Survey Of Economists Says It Will Likely Take Years.

    … “only an 18 percent chance that the unemployment rate will fall below 10 percent this year, and a 36 percent chance that it won’t fall below 10 percent until after the second quarter of 2021 — over a year from now.

    “Tellingly, only 1 out of 31 economists forecasted a V-shape, which would see a quick recovery after the sharp decline of the past few months.

    Click to access Results-Round-01.pdf

  24. Harry Clarke,

    This can’t last. The market does not reflect fundamentals. The excessive creation of cheap money, debt money and Q.E. for large borrowers means that market asset values are inflated without regard for expected future earnings. Fictitious capital forms its own circuits separate from the circuits of real production.

    The trick so far, by the people who run capitalism, has been to keep the real circuits and the fictional circuits separate. Assets inflate rapidly while real goods and services for the lower 95% exhibit relatively little inflation (because most of the money is kept out of their hands). Continued indefinitely this would mean that those holding the fastest inflating assets would end up owning all assets. That’s the way the system is heading.

    Financially, this should fail when debt is called in, in a massive way, but it seems rich debtors and their banks can rely on being bailed out indefinitely. In reality, the system will fail when private and state manufacturing and infrastructure fail substnatially. The USA’s real production, real manufacture and real infrastructure are all crumbling now. It’s in a massive decline now, notwithstanding the false numbers of the economy. I guess it just has to become manifest enough and cause enough riots and major civil disturbances, perhaps bordering on civil war, to spook the markets. Then there’s a rush for the exists, a market collapse and a lot of fictitious capital is destroyed.

  25. Smith9, The Australian market is now less than 20% off peaks also. Technically it is no longer a bear market. Again the Aussi market rose over 20% in 2019 and seemed fully priced.

    It is not only the big techs. Sharemarkets around the world are very optimistic about the punch from the virus being short-lived.

    I am fishing for a convincing explanation – runaway inflation coming, layoffs being temporary etc.

  26. Iconoclast, Your post arrived after I just posted. I agree the world has been flooded with money and excessive debt. Indeed both these were excessive prior to the virus and now it might be that people are seizing claims on real assets as a hedge against future inflation as these money and debt levels surge further. It is a bet against bad policies.

    But most economists don’t accept this view however. Most see the problem as deflation. I am unsure. It does seem that something very weird is going on in international capital markets.

  27. A spreading contagion of rampant QE globally has depressed interest rates which both disincentivises cash savings and encourages financing/leveraging for other investments such as property and stocks/equities. This became very apparent in the US in particular shortly after QE was 1st introduced following the GFC. Property is probably more exposed to local constraints such as lending standards, market speculation/confidence and gov policy & duties.

  28. Harry Clarke,

    I see the economic system problem as wage deflation. Deflation-inflation are relative. Wage deflation is relative to asset inflation (appreciation) and relative to the inflation of essentials and non-discretionary expenditures for households. There is no doubt that house costs, rents and mortgages have inflated greatly (by 100% to 200% in a generation) relative to wages. There is equally no doubt that groceries, insurance, medical insurance, education costs and other mainly non-discretionary costs for households have inflated compared to wages; hence making wages deflate relatively.

    Wage deflation and welfare benefit deflation (achieved by under-measuring CPI) are the problems in this regard. However, we have many more problems; too many to mention in short post. Limits to growth, ecological damage and climate change are crucial ones. Even the emergence of COVID-19 stems from ecological damage. Encroaching on wild areas and forcing wild animals and their feces into closer contact with large human populations generated COVID-19. COVID-19 may have come from wildlife wet markets in Hubei. It may also have come from the use of bat guano as fertilizer in Yunnan or elsewhere.

    Group C Betacoronavirus in Bat Guano Fertilizer, Thailand
    Supaporn Wacharapluesadee,corresponding author Chirapol Sintunawa, Thongchai Kaewpom, Kritsada Khongnomnan, Kevin J. Olival, Jonathan H. Epstein, Apaporn Rodpan, Paiboon Sangsri, Nirun Intarut, Ariya Chindamporn, Kanyarat Suksawa, and Thiravat Hemachudha.

  29. ARM have released the annual upgrades to their phone and computer processor lines.

    Quick takeaways:
    – Progress continues. ARM claim improvements of 20% or so in performance, whether we need them or not.
    – ARM are now better than Intel at upgrades. It helps that they don’t manufacture anything, the source of Intel’s recent troubles, and that they now have far more processor lines than Intel. Who would you as a supergeek chip designer rather work for?
    – ARM have broken with tradition by adding a new line of so-called “custom” processors. Up to now they have basically had two lines for phones and upwards: a high-end processor where the constraint is a 1-watt power draw, and a complementary workhorse line (itself good enough to run a basic smartphone) where the aim is to achieve a more or less fixed fixed performance with ever less power and area. The latest in that line is the Cortex A-55, launched aeons ago in 2017. It stays awake in your phone so you can receive calls and alarms while its power-hungry big sister, an A-77 or A-78, goes to sleep.

    The new line, dubbed Cortex-X Custom, starts with a processor that beats the new A-78 in performance at the price of breaking the power draw constraint. This makes sense for laptops, desktops and above all server racks, Intel’s last redoubt.

    Worryingly, it is also described as a way of allowing key customers (say Samsung. Huawei, Mediatek) to tweak processor designs to their own criteria. It looks to me as if ARM are breaking or shading their rule of universal licensing of all the IP they sell. This is the key procedural feature of the ARM ecosystem that has up to now kept the design monopoly beneficent, with low prices (cents in IP fees per chip), rapid innovation, and healthy competition between licensees. Governments should be watching this risk closely, but don’t hold your breath.

    The above has little to do with ARM’s staple of tiny embedded processors, billlions on billions of them in every kind of electrical appliance, increasingly hooked up to networks. Big Brother as an army of ants.

  30. Read this and weep for all the deaths. Mongolia sounds nice this pandemic. And they “also shut down coal exports — a huge economic hit, which they took proactively.”

    “China has just shut down Hubei Province, the largest cordon sanitaire in human history. What would you scream to your leaders? What would you tell them to do?

    You’d tell them that this was serious and that it’s coming for sure. You’d tell them to restrict the borders now, to socially distance now, and to get medical supplies ready, also now. You’d tell them to react right now, in January itself. That’s 20/20 hindsight.

    That’s exactly what Mongolia did, and they don’t have a time machine. They just saw what was happening in Hubei, they coordinated with China and the WHO, and they got their shit together fast. That’s their secret, not the elevation. They just weren’t dumb.

    January 22
    If I could tell you the one secret to Mongolia’s success it’s this:
    I don’t know if I mentioned this but

    This is also when Mongolia told people to wash hands, wear masks, and all the other things many of us only heard later. Mariah Carey didn’t teach Americans how to wash their hands until mid-March.

    On the 27th, [of JANUARY!!!] started negotiating the return of 31 students from Wuhan. On February 1st they flew them back and quarantined the lot, including the flight crew. This began an ongoing process of repatriating and quarantining Mongolians, first for 14 and then 21 days. There wasn’t a mad rush back, they controlled it. This enabled them to manage imported cases and, again, reduce local transmission to zero.

    For example, when they heard of a case across the border (ie, not in Mongolia) South Gobi declared an emergency and put everyone in masks. The center also shut down coal exports — a huge economic hit, which they took proactively.

    COVID Underdogs: Mongolia
    The best COVID-19 response in the world
    View at

    And just to show the usa what to do about elections …

    MNT 2.4 billion to be spent on COVID-19 prevention during 2020 election

  31. The DAX with little high tech monopoly and lots of old industry is down 15% from the all time high, only little worse. So it really isnt just Amazon Apple Microsoft facebook and Alphabet (3 of those are worth more than the entire dax btw.). It does feal crazy, but then dead old people are not parituclar bad for profits.

  32. I am not a serious macroeconomist but can’t see how we are not going to get inflation back in a few years. So much cheap money and so much debt that needs to be inflated away to be manageable.

    I think History will ultimately show the COVID 19 response to be the worst economic policy choice since those made at the beginning of the Great Depression

  33. This technically deserves to go in to the Monday Message Board not the Sandpit.
    The leadership of the Volkswagen Company has stated in the past year that it is committed to selling 10 million electrics cars in Europe by 2030. That statement is a double dip of fudge. First of all if VW were abel to spell that many electric cars other auto manufactures would be selling large amounts of electric cars as well. It is technically possible, but managerailly unlikely tha the elctric grid would be able to support so many electircal cars by that time.
    But E V E N more importanly, under the B E S T of conditions electic cars take years to recover their investment in terms of CO2 saved while driving. The best transportation plan would be to murder eveyone with an automobil driving licence. But that might be difficult to politcally achieve. So a second best plan would be for the mahor auto companies to come up with a plan to remove the internal combustion engines from all the cars that are currently on the road and replace them with battery powered drive trains. NOW HEAR THIS. To make sure that there are enough raw materials to go around the horsepower equivilant that is allowed to be placed in to each car has to be limited to 30 hp for small cars, 45 hp for mid size cars and 60 hp lor large cars. The 30 hp battery packs will of course be tax free. The taxes for the mid size battery will be substantial and the tax on the 60 hp battery pack will be close to deadly. But if you have a large car you should be able to sell it back to the government at a reasonable price. Yes I understand that this probably means a 30 km range at 30 km an hour for most cars. But look at it this way. If they can be supercharged it will probably not take more than 8 minutes to get back to a full charge.
    GODDDDDDDDDDDDDD the buttbreaths that are in charge are so damned stupid they actually deserve to get a treat of something that looks like fudge but isn’t. Why do they waste our time and grey cells? Am I guilty of such behavior?

  34. How does it get to this?

    Nev Power & Twiggy “colonisers have come in and flexed their muscles and made it the case that Indigenous people are subservient to them, then that is a basis for taking away their rights”.

    “Fortescue and Andrew Forrest lose High Court appeal over exclusive native title of WA’s Yindjibarndi people

    Speaking to the ABC earlier this week, native title expert and former WA Law Society president Greg McIntyre described FMG’s argument as a “hard-nosed approach”.

    “It really boils down to an argument that if the colonisers have come in and flexed their muscles and made it the case that Indigenous people are subservient to them, then that is a basis for taking away their rights.”

  35. UQ is doing its best to destroy its reputation with the Drew Pavlou case. How to get Left, Right and Centre all opposed to you. The Vice Chancellor has to resign. He is clearly a fool.

  36. Fear, power & vigilance need to be given to the ‘common watchers’* to triple watch the watchers watching the spies. 

    “Time to abolish the spies?
     18 May 2020

    “Planned expansion of the powers of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) should alarm anyone who believes in democratic values and rule of law.

    The call for expanded powers for secret agencies is based on fear. 

    The federal government’s hope is that people can be made so fearful of external or domestic threats that they are willing to cede certain rights to agencies which supposedly know about such things.

    They might know or they might not. 

    … but certainly create [secrets] for their own purposes.

    In their fear, people who accept the call for special powers for secret police do not think that these powers will ever be used against them. 

    They think the powers are for use against the ‘other’ for their own benefit. 

    Decisions made in a state of fear are seldom rational and handing over one’s freedoms to an unaccountable agency is about as irrational as actions can get.

    Under the current proposals, ASIO would never need to exceed its authority. 

    It would be above the law. 

    Spies do not protect democracy. They are the antithesis of democracy and undermine it.

     * common watchers – a critically endangered canary in a coal mine species.

    But how will we know?
    “Deepfakes Are Going To Wreak Havoc On Society. We Are Not Prepared.
    As it turned out, the clip was not genuine: it was generated using cutting-edge AI. The commercial surprised, amused and delighted viewers.
    What viewers should have felt, though, was deep concern.

  37. Volkswagen sold 6.4 million cars last year. Given that very few people in developing countries buying new cars will want a car that isn’t an EV due to fear of perceived as being slow to take off from the lights — a fear that greatly exceeds fear of disastrous climate change or even, on average, pandemics — selling 10 million EVs in 10 years falls into the category of not really trying.

    Concerns about supply chain emissions can be eliminated by a carbon price equal to the cost of removing CO2 from the atmosphere and sequestering it long term. I think this can be done for around $70 a tonne or less. That’s about $50 US. (Because some people aren’t aware of this, I will point out that CO2 emissions would be very low with a $70 a tonne carbon price.)

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