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

42 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. Stiglitz is one of my favorite “conventional economists” as I call them. He also appears to be a lovely gentle bear of man and it’s positively endearing when he pronounces “ineqwuaity”.

  2. Sound familiar?
    “TCJA increased tax benefits for purchasing equipment (which would include automation), significantly enhancing bonus depreciation”.*

    I know most here have heard this all before and are sympathetic, yet another paper from US tax perspective, with great references to bolster JQ’s efforts re robot tax, JG / UBI & climate change. And a good title “I Robot: U Tax?…”

    “Roberta Mann teaches and writes about tax law, with a particular emphasis on how the tax system affects the environment.  Professor Mann served as the only tax lawyer on the National Academies of Science committee studying the greenhouse gas impact of the Internal Revenue Code.  She is active with the ABA Tax Section, the National Tax Association, and the Portland Tax Forum, and regularly speaks at the annual Global Conference on Environmental Taxation”

    I Robot: U Tax? Considering the Tax Policy Implications of Automation

    McGill Law Journal,
    Vol. 64, No. 4, 2019

    43 Pages

    Roberta F. Mann

    University of Oregon School of Law

    June 15, 2020

    …”Taxing robots could in theory provide revenue for a UBI, although any source of revenue would work just as well. While this would solve the survival problem, humans need more than basic survival. In his classic work, psychologist Abraham Maslow put survival at the bottom of his hierarchy of needs. Work satisfies the higher order needs of social identity and self-esteem. 

    “The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), enacted in December 2017, significantly cut the U.S. corporate tax rate, from 35 percent to 21 percent. In addition, TCJA increased tax benefits for purchasing equipment (which would include automation), significantly enhancing bonus depreciation. The new tax legislation continued and deepened the existing tax bias towards automation. This article explores policy options for solving the revenue problem and the “jobs” problem, including a discussion and critique of UBI proposals and recommendations for other policy options, such as an enhanced earned income tax credit, incentives for employers, and reviving an idea from the Great Depression, the Civilian Conservation Corps.”

    Via amediadragon – thanks.

  3. Sacry aerosols. 

    20x air change per hr min in enclosed spaces as min guide. Tangara trains 60 air changes per min I think. 

    Electrostatic masks please.

    Yes… “We Need to Talk About Ventilation

    “How is it that six months into a respiratory pandemic, we are still doing so little to mitigate airborne transmission?

    …”But they disagree that the dominance of close-contact transmission implies that ballistic trajectories or larger respiratory droplets are the overwhelming mode of transmission. In their view, even some portion of that close-contact transmission is likely due to aerosols, and many experts told me that they think even particles bigger than the WHO’s definition of respiratory droplets (larger than 5-10 microns in diameter) can float for a bit. In response, the WHO published a scientific brief on July 9 acknowledging the possibility of airborne transmission, but still concluding that COVID-19 is “primarily transmitted” between people through respiratory droplets and touching, and that the question needs “further study.”

    Via… Nature Briefing – Nature newsletter. 

    “Transmission of SARS-CoV-2: implications for infection prevention precautions

    Scientific Brief
    9 July 2020

    …” Airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 can occur  during medical procedures that generate aerosols (“aerosol generating procedures”).(12) WHO, together with the scientific community, has been actively discussing and evaluating whether SARS-CoV-2 may also spread through aerosols in the absence of aerosol generating procedures, particularly in indoor settings with poor ventilation.

    “The physics of exhaled air and flow physics have generated hypotheses about possible mechanisms of SARS-CoV-2 transmission through aerosols.(13-16) “…

  4. Maybe most people in Australia should now believe that there is only one answer to COVID-19: Hard lock-down to effective eradication as New Zealand has done. That of course entails continuing isolation from the world until when and if there is a safe and effective vaccine and global effective eradication has been achieved. There is NO way of living with this virus and NO viable economy with this virus. That option has been proven foreclosed by the empirical data now discovered about COVID-19. The WHO head now “warns there may never be a ‘silver bullet’ for COVID-19”. That means no very safe and effective vaccine nor any easy and highly effective treatments may ever be possible. This statement stands despite the conspiracy theorist nonsense about treatments. I for one will not reply to such unscientific nonsense.

    And follow the links to “Chloroquine or Hydroxychloroquine”.

    There are three hard cores of antisocial or just plain deluded people in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. These are;

    (a) Criminal and antisocial people who flout restrictions and lock-downs.
    (b) Hard core capitalists who say “open up no matter how many people die”.
    (c) Conspiracy nuts, science denialists and quack cure peddlers.

    All of these groups, by intent or default, are essentially moral criminals and sometimes legally definable criminals. There are some cases where insanity might be a defense. Their dangerous and anti-social claims, behaviors and misinformation campaigns cannot and should not be tolerated by democratic, sensible and rational people. I fully support the current necessarily draconian laws (in Victoria for example) in bringing these anti-social and dangerous people under control. Such egregious misbehavior is not default murder perhaps but it is certainly default manslaughter.

  5. Ikonoclast said “there is only one answer to COVID-19: Hard lock-down to effective eradication”.

  6. Short and sweet.,101 is the new 80.

    Happy, and now mildly optimistic due to the uptake of renewables…

    “James Lovelock: Gaia theory creator on coronavirus and turning 101

    James Lovelock, one of Britain’s greatest scientists, is famous for developing the Gaia hypothesis, which sees the Earth as a self-regulating system.

    In his long and influential career, he also revealed the chemicals that were destroying the ozone layer.

    He’s just celebrated his 101st birthday and the BBC’s chief environment correspondent Justin Rowlatt visited him at his home in Dorset.”

  7. I haven’t peer reviewed this. Ironic VW funding rhis after dieselgate. Caution? Seems transparent as code and data available.

    “Forecasting unprecedented ecological fluctuations

    Samuel R. Bray, Bo Wang

    …” Empirical evidence and theoretical analyses suggest that these dynamics are in a regime where system nonlinearities limit accurate forecasting of unprecedented events due to poor extrapolation of historical data to unsampled states. Leveraging increasingly available long-term high-frequency ecological tracking data, we analyze multiple natural and experimental ecosystems (marine plankton, intertidal mollusks, and deciduous forest), and recover hidden linearity embedded in universal ‘scaling laws’ of species dynamics. We then develop a method using these scaling laws to reduce data dependence in ecological forecasting and accurately predict extreme events beyond the span of historical observations in diverse ecosystems.

    Code for the analysis and plotting of data is available at the Github repository:

    Received: December 17, 2019; Accepted: June 5, 2020; Published: June 29, 2020

    Funding: This work is funded by Volkswagen Foundation (No. 94819). SRB is supported by a NIH CMB training grant (T32GM007276). BW is supported by a Beckman Young Investigator Award. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

  8. Ikonoclast, I agree with your statement:
    “…there is only one answer to COVID-19: Hard lock-down to effective eradication as New Zealand has done.”

    Nigel McMillan, Program Director, Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Menzies Health Institute, Griffith University stated in a The Conversation piece published on Jul 16:

    “An important new study released online this week could have a large bearing on how our future looks in 2021 and beyond.

    It suggests our immunity to SARS-CoV-2 does not last very long at all — as little as two months for some people. If this is the case, it means a potential vaccine might require regular boosters, and herd immunity might not be viable at all.”

    Most people look at the death stats for COVID-19. The more important numbers that seem difficult to get hold of are the recovery times and long-term prognosis for those people who get serious effects but don’t die.

    On ABC Q&A last night (Aug 3) Hamish Macdonald asked:

    “Just… You did speak to the longer-term implications of this. Thomas Hudson wrote in to us this week from South Yarra. He tested positive for COVID. Five months on, he still doesn’t feel right. He’s got shortness of breath, he experiences heart palpitations, he’s got serious fatigue issues – all things that he hasn’t experienced before. I know you’re saying we don’t have all the answers, but do we know what this can do to a young person?”

    And Dr Lucy Morgan, a lung specialist caring for people with severe COVID infection in Concord and Nepean hospitals in Sydney, responded with:

    “Well, Thomas’s experience is similar to several patients that I’ve been looking after…and this prolonged fatigue, significant anxiety and depression symptoms are very characteristic. We… None of us, nowhere in the world, has had enough time to have anything more than sort of six months of follow-up of patients with COVID-19. Even the first outbreaks, remember, are only just before Christmas, and it’s only August. So, we don’t know what the very long-term outcomes are going to be, but certainly Thomas’s experience is not unique, and we…clinicians are anticipating a significant burden of this infection that will go on and on, you know, for many months, if not years to come.”

    So could the long-term serious non-fatal casualties of COVID-19 infections be a big number that the economy cannot afford if we don’t eradicate?

  9. Could somebody please check my maths for me?

    I have tried to work out how quickly Covid will kill all vulnerable people if we don’t take protective measures like lockdowns. I did this after that economist Gigi was on Q&A saying deaths from Covid are less important than the economy. I am disabled and know many disabled people, and this worried me.

    Doing the maths I found that without protections in place within 3.6 to 8 years every person vulnerable to dying from Covid would be dead globally.

    This would be unless these vulnerable people managed to self isolate totally to avoid infection.

    I also assumed that a working vaccine isn’t discovered in that time.

    My maths is based on the information that without protections in place 1 Covid infected person passes Covid on to 2 to 3 other people.

    At a rate of 1 person infecting 2 others within 14 days, it would take around 66 weeks for Covid to infect the entire global population.

    At a rate of 1 person infecting 3 others within 14 days, it would take around 38 weeks for Covid to infect the whole global population.

    Death rates for Covid are variable depending on factors like if the health system is coping or overloaded. Australia has a low death rate of around 1.2%, and we also have a high testing rate meaning there are not a huge number of undiagnosed cases in the community. The death rate in America at its highest was around 5% and has gone down to around 3.5%. The death rate in Italy was around 10% or a bit higher.

    At a death rate of 5% and with Covid infecting the entire global population every 66 weeks the entire global population would be dead in about 5 years if immunity did not develop.

    But because Covid only kills vulnerable people like the aged or the sick and some others for reasons we don’t yet know, this would mean actually the global population would not be killed in 5 years, but all the vulnerable people would, unless they self isolated.

    With a death rate of 1.2% like Australia has, the vulnerable would all be killed in 8 years, unless they self isolated.

    If we look at the worst case scenario of Covid infecting the whole world in 38 weeks instead of 66 weeks, at a 5% death rate that would take around 4 years to kill all the vulnerable people.

    At a 1.2% death rate it would take about 6 years to kill all the vulnerable people.

    At a high 10% death rate like in Italy it would take about 3.6 years to kill all the vulnerable people.

    But I’m not sure how to work out how many people are in the vulnerable group exactly, just the speed at which they would be killed if we didn’t take any protection measures against Covid.

  10. More from Shell. It now has a carbon offset division, which has just bought an Australian farming sequestration specialist, Select Carbon. “Select Carbon currently runs 70 projects covering 9 million hectares, an area larger than South Carolina.”

    I know what Iko will say: Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes. You can’t trust big capitalist corporations, especially oil ones. This is PR to buy time for business as usual. We mustn’t rely on Shell to save the climate.

    Yes, but. You go to war on the beach where the tides have taken you *, with the enemies and troops and allies you have. At the very least, Shell are indeed buying time to continue to sell oil and gas – in a world where Greta has won the argument, though she doesn’t know it. Look at the EU Green Deal, look at the platform of Joe Biden, the next President of the United States. The large green investments Shell are making are not greenwashing stunts but serious strategic hedges. In the many futures that include significant carbon taxes or equivalent regulation, oil companies that have solid offset programmes in place will do better than rivals (Exxon Mobil?) that are slower to react. Of course we must stay vigilant, and not compromise on the goal of ending fossil fuels completely. But public and élite opinion has already forced significant changes in corporate behaviour, and there is no reason to think that this cannot continue.

    Guardian report on a major piece of research on sequestration through rock dust on farmland. Unfortunately – I would say scandalously, given the huge importance of the topic for public policy – the Nature article is paywalled. Taxpayers paid for the research once already, it should be ours to see.

    * Reference to the famous quip – actually a command decision – of US Brigadier-General Theodore Roosevelt Jr, Utah Beach, June 6 1944.

  11. Here are couple of factoid claims I have come across. I haven’t bothered to fact-check them.

    1. Internet energy use causes more CO2 pollution than all the aircraft of the world, even when those aircraft where flying before the covid-19 pandemic.

    2. CO2 pollution could destroy the earth’s altocumulus cloud cover by 2100. Loss of the altocumulus would add 6 to 8 degrees C to the temperature increase already expected in the existing climate models.

  12. James, crushed rock spreading certainly could be part of the solution. People spread it on fields anyway in modest amounts. (Modest from the point of view of CO2 emissions.) Unfortunately, since crushed basalt is already a thing we can see there are no huge savings to be made. Decreasing energy costs and electric transport will help, although that also applies for other methods to capturing and sequestering atmospheric CO2. But there is no shortage of rock to crush, so anytime we wanted to we could start turning this thing around.

  13. Zoe Emily, it’s important to be concerned about the health of vulnerable people in the coronavirus epidemic, but I think your concerns are greater than they need to be. It is true that if left untouched coronavirus has the potential to infect everyone – it is very infectious – but it won’t do so as quickly as you calculate. The calculation you have made assumes that each infected person has a completely open network of contacts so they’re guaranteed to infect exactly 2 or 3 more people, but actually due to hte nature of network effects they won’t, so as the disease spreads the infection process will likely slow – this network effect is not well understood yet and mathematicians are still developing the tools to properly understand it (and the data required to study it). Nonetheless you’re basically right that eventually this disease could get everyone.

    But you miscalculate the mortality rates. The observed mortality rates of 5 or 10% arise because asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic cases are not reported. In reality there are probably 10 times as many cases as are observed, since we only test sick people. So probably the mortality rate is more like 0.5 – 1% [<- this is still very high!] and in vulnerable people 5 – 20% depending on age and comorbidities. So it won't kill all of them unless, as you suppose, there is no immunity.

    I think the claims that humans don't build up immunity are wrong. There are now 4.5 million confirmed cases in the USA so probably between 30 – 50 million total cases. If reinfection were possible we would be seeing common reports of it in the USA by now (or in Brazil), and we aren't. There are very few confirmed reports. I suspect that this means infection does confer immunity, and the disease won't reinfect past victims. It's possible immunity fades after some time and we haven't yet observed it, and I think Ikonoclast has mentioned reinfection may be more dangerous, but there's not a lot of evidence for that yet.

    In sum I think this means it won't be as catastrophic for vulnerable people as you worry. But it won't be pretty, regardless, and we should be doing all we can to stop it as soon as possible. Ikonoclast's preferred strategy of lockdown to elimination is the best and only way to get this thing under control until we can get a vaccine.

  14. Zoe Emily,
    Here’s my simplified scenario, assume:
    1. one person infects two people (R2) or three people (R3) every two weeks with no restrictions for transmission;
    2. those that are infected remain infectious for only 4 weeks;
    3. those that do get infected and recover remain immune against further reinfection for the duration of the scenario.
    The tally is for cumulative infections at the indicated week.
    Week _ Cum. Infected (R2) _ Cum. Infected (R3)
    00 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 1 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 1
    02 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 3 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 4
    04 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 9 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 16
    06 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 26 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 63
    08 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 75 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _248
    10 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _216 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _976
    12 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _622 _ _ _ _ _ _ _3,841
    14 _ _ _ _ _ _ _1,791 _ _ _ _ _ _ 15,116
    16 _ _ _ _ _ _ _5,157 _ _ _ _ _ _ 59,488
    18 _ _ _ _ _ _ 14,849 _ _ _ _ _ 234,111
    20 _ _ _ _ _ _ 42,756 _ _ _ _ _ 921,328
    22 _ _ _ _ _ 123,111 _ _ _ _ 3,625,824
    24 _ _ _ _ _ 354,484 _ _ _ _14,269,185
    26 _ _ _ _ 1,020,696 _ _ _ _56,155,412
    28 _ _ _ _ 2,938,977 _ _ _ 220,995,824
    30 _ _ _ _ 8,462,447 _ _ _ 869,714,111
    32 _ _ _ _24,366,645 _ _ 3,422,701,032
    34 _ _ _ _70,160,958
    36 _ _ _ 202,020,427
    38 _ _ _ 581,694,636
    40 _ _ 1,674,922,950
    42 _ _ 4,822,748,423

    So in theory, if COVID-19 was allowed to run rampant through the global population, then the whole human population could potentially be infected within 44 weeks at R2 or within 34 weeks at R3. However, reality is more complicated than the simplistic scenarios given above, but this exercise shows the potential of the power of the exponential function.

    There is some anecdotal evidence that some people that have been infected with COVID-19 can be reinfected within a few months.

  15. In reality Geoff it won’t work like that because the virus is confounded by borders (when it jumps countries it has to start again at the beginning of the process). Also network effects slow the growth of the virus – it’s hard for people later in the epidemic to maintain an R0 of e.g. 3 because the people they know are already infected or immune – and natural changes in behavior (staying home) slow it. We have seen this repeatedly in countries where even the virus is “out of control” (like some parts of Brazil and the USA) where it stops doubling quite rapidly. I think this is a mixture of loss of testing capacity, a crush on medical facilities (so people stay home and don’t get diagnosed), personal behavioral changes and network effects. I don’t think though that it is possible for those effects by themselves to stop the virus spreading – if we don’t act it will infect everyone, just a little more slowly than your model suggests.

  16. Regardless of the exact details of its spread, the Coronavirus is nasty stuff and I have decide to wear a mask whenever I’m around people in public, despite the lack of a requirement to here in South Australia. This is despite the fact my face is about five times normal size and it makes it look as though someone is trying to post a boulder. I just want to do my bit to help convince people who have social lives to wear them as well. Hopefully I’ll be able to get a larger one at some point in the future.

    I only have one mask at the moment. I got it off a dead body I found in an alley. But don’t worry, I didn’t put it on straight away. I’m not completely stupid. I licked it clean first.

  17. No relevance to the usual issues discussed in this blog, but I don’t know where else to find advice. The astronomer Fred Watson authored a little article (for the ABC) about the constellation Scorpius, and mentions an Aboriginal constellation, Ichamba.

    As it happens, I’ve been writing an article about Ichamba, which was pointed out to my father Percy Trezise in the early 60s, by an elder who had been born in the 1880s and had lived a traditional life in the bush as a child. Percy wrote about this in his 1969 book, Quinkan Country.

    The spelling of Ichamba is Percy’s, and I haven’t found any earlier reference to Ichamba (pronounced Eye-cham-ba), so I suspect that Professor Watson’s source, directly or indirectly, is Quinkan Country.

    I would like to contact Fred Watson to confirm this, but my efforts to find an email address for him have come to nought. Searching the websites of universities he is associated with produced no results, and the ABC is understandably unresponsive. I understand very well why an academic with a media profile needs to protect his privacy, to avoid being overwhelmed by naive or troublesome emails, but I think he’d be okay with my enquiry.

    I’d be grateful for any suggestions.

  18. @ Ronald

    If you opt for N95 masks …

    “N95 Masks Can be Rotated, 1 Mask Every 3–4 Days

    Use 3–4 masks, numbered on the outside as 1–4, for each day. They can be used each day in numerical order. All SARS-CoV-2 viruses on the mask will be dead in 3 days (2). Masks should be kept at room temperature (21–23°C [70–73°F]) and 40% humidity. There is no change in the mask’s properties.”

  19. I’d be grateful for any suggestions.

    Fred Watson has his own website with an online form for enquiries.

  20. Matt Trezise,

    from details given at try at the contact page of his website:

    Also there are contact details given at his home page bottom:

    +61 417 689 003
    97 Booralie Road,
    Terrey Hills 2084
    ABN: ​41600519300
    Travel Ogg Pty Ltd Trading as Dark Sky Traveller

  21. Thanks J-D and Svante, problem solved. Now I feel stupid! I was referred to Fred Watson by another astronomer who didn’t mention the website and somehow I missed it on the Wikipedia page. My daughter would say I had a man-look.

  22. Ronald: as long as you left the dead body in the alley for 24 hours before recovering the mask you ought to be all right.

  23. Watch out that it’s not ZOMVID-20, which takes 30 days to denature at normal temperatures. ZOMVID-20 symptoms initially mimic COVID-19, but it has a 100% death rate followed by intact bodies reanimating after three days.

  24. Zoe Emily at 10:09 pm
    “Could somebody please check my maths for me?”

    As seen by Geoff Miell & faustusnotes replies, network effects are tricky.

    I did same projection as Geoff with my child out to quadrillions but little use except to demonstrate exponential growth.

    So I need, as I ‘just cope with 3D geometry & algabra’, a tool or playground to understand. YMMV

    Here are two interactive explorable explanations which may be if value. Extemely valuable for me.

    The first is interactive;
    “This is our topic for today: the way things move and spread, somewhat chaotically, across a network. Some examples to whet the appetite:

    – Infectious diseases jumping from host to host within a population
    – Memes spreading across a follower graph on social media
    – A wildfire breaking out across a landscape
    – Ideas and practices diffusing through a culture
    – Neutrons cascading through a hunk of enriched uranium

    Suppose we make some nodes completely resistant or “immune” to activation. This is like putting them in the Removed state, then running SIS(a) on the remaining nodes.

    “You can play with it below. The “Immunity” slider controls the percentage of nodes that are Removed. Try varying the slider (while the simulation is running!) to see its effect on whether the network is supercritical or not: ”

    All of Nicky Case’s work,
    [ I absolutely agree and Nicky Case doesn’t even use CC licence  just use it please ]
    … especially Parable of the Polygons (with Vi Hart) and To Build a Better Ballot. These are the high water mark for what an interactive essay can be.

    – exceptionally high-quality interactive descriptions of machine learning work.

    – Bret Victor’s classic, Up and Down the Ladder of Abstraction.

    I haven’t done the best job moving up the ladder here, but there’s always next time.” [ M too ]


    People look at Nicky’s site and it presents as cartoonish graphics,  yet absolutely based in peer reviewed well known papers, and the best interactive explorable explanations!

    Nicky has inspired many:

    And Nicky inspired by Brett Victor inspired by the great Seymour Papert – Logos, Turtle robot learning, the best demo ever – preceding and foretelling Xerox Park.

    Brett Victor’s site (don’t go there – you’ll still be learning 3 days later)

    Brett Victor’s magnum opus;

    I’d appreciate to hear Geoff Miell, fuastusnotes and others imoressions of the above.

    And bonus; 
    “The political economy of networks
    JULY 5, 2008

    JQ said:…” (I’m aware of course that economists are coming late to a field in which sociologists and others have been active for a long time). Here’s a typical example, by a couple of the leading figures in the field, [link] Matthew Jackson and Anne van den Nouweland.”…

    …”The topology of a network economy is inevitably a matter of social choice, and the same applies to the associated distribution of income.”

  25. Labor has been talking about the need for a government owned people’s bank. We’ve seen it before. Is it something they can pump up and sell once again?

    Now the CEPU backs it to be run out of post office shop fronts. I think there will be an Industry Super connection behind this seeking to cut bank revenues and put pressure on banks to increase their retail super fund fees.

  26. Did you know JQ’s PhD Thesis was (correct me pls JQ) on topology? Now lost to history worse luck.

    Happy Topology Day! .. in Nature Briefing;

    “Barry Simon linked a phenomenon that had shocked physicists to topology, the branch of mathematics that studies shapes.

    “The mathematician who helped to reshape physics

    **** JQ & commenters re topology…

    KT2 says:
    October 17, 2018 at 10:17 am

    “JQ for president.

    Do all you commeters here realise jq has yaken on one of the most fundamental long term culture wars, written succinctly sincerely and I’d catagorise it as topologically. It is way above what is going on in Mathew or nottrampis… when a law is not a law.”

    John Quiggin says: at 3:33 pm “Thanks KT, I wrote my honours thesis on algebraic topology, so perhaps my training is showing through”

    (No, I dont have a sub editor. I dont register anywhere. Apologies.)


    The political economy of networks
    JULY 5, 2008
    JQ said:…” (I’m aware of course that economists are coming late to a field in which sociologists and others have been active for a long time). Here’s a typical example, by a couple of the leading figures in the field, [link] Matthew Jackson and Anne van den Nouweland.”…

    …”The topology of a network economy is inevitably a matter of social choice, and the same applies to the associated distribution of income.”

    Even though duckduckgo found this link, UQ says ‘page not found’.

    Clip from results:
    “John Quiggin – Conference Papers – Framing

    Machina’s functionals are defined on the infinite-dimensiSIZE=4>F) = V(x, n becomes large, the topology associated with the approach used here approximates that of the supremum norm. resentation of preferences for some given U. In a neighborhood of any x, …”


    Eddie, obeyed
    FEBRUARY 7, 2013

    In comments Jim Rose astutely mentions topology software re gerrymandering. Care to elaborate further Jim?

    Jim Rose says:
    February 13, 2013 at 5:38 am

    “A key to stopping corruption is competitive elections on fair boundaries. Topology software in the U.S. can gerrymander in a way unimaginable 10 years ago.”…

    Amateur content production, networked innovation and innovation policy
    By John Quiggin

    ” The central common feature of a number of recent technological developments (collectively referred to as Web 2.0) is collaborative production of content on an amateur basis, that is, for motives other than commercial reward. Amateur production of content generates significant external benefits that are shared by society in general. Indeed the amateur production of various types of content is probably more socially beneficial since it is typically given away free The individual and social benefits of such activity therefore justify public policy responses to the opportunity now before us.”
    [ JQ See Nadia Egbhal’s new book ” Working in Public: The Making and Maintenance of Open Source Software]

    pg. 10: ” As regards topology, the ranking given by Google depends primarily on the pattern of links to particular pages. The capacity to derive financial benefits from programs such as Google’s AdSense also depends critically on network topology and the pattern of visits. Any correlation between the capacity of a site to capture AdSense revenue and the value of the site to its users is indirect and tangential at best.”…

    Cultural Science Journal1(WPP08_1) · October 2008
    DOI: 10.5334/csci.14


    In JQ’s op ” The Oz melts down in the contest of ideas”
    JANUARY 3, 2015

    Jim Birch says:
    January 6, 2015 at 10:30 am

    …”  Apart from the not insignificant cost savings, it would be nice to be able to calculate the energy of the Higgs Boson working upwards rather than deduce it from zillions of particle decay cascades. Unfortunately we don’t know the topology at this level. (We might also find that some of these mysteriously “optimised” physical constants pop out of such a model.)”…

    [  “physical constants pop out of such a model” – I agree Jim. When do we try this? JQ?]

    Serepdipty bonus link: reffering to the band ‘Topology’.

    “Building an Australasian Commons: Case Studies Volume 1
    …” such as anime-inspired pop star Yunyu, experimental ensemble Topology and …”

    Uploaded by Creative Commons Australia

    In August 2008, as part of the CC Case Study Wiki project, CC Australia published Building an Australasian Commons: Creative Commons Case Studies Volume 1. 

    Edited by Rachel Cobcroft,
    Case Studies Volume 1 includes 60 stories of how people are using Creative Commons in Australia and internationally. It highlights the excellent work being done by commoners the world over, as well as providing examples, models and guidance for those wanting to explore their copyright options in the digital environment.”
    Jul 29, 2010
    isbn 978-09802988-8-8

  27. Svante,

    It used to the Commonwealth Bank before they privatized it. As a Commonwealth Bank customer I noticed how they had to become “more capitalist than the capitalists” once privatized. On the question of privatization and nationalization, what I have written in another context will have some applicability.

    I agree with a bias to small-business capitalism albeit with significant caveats. Natural monopolies will be found to exist in a large, inter-connected society or nation. Natural monopolies will include road and rail networks, power and water utilities, communication infrastructures and other distributed networks. These natural monopolies are best nationalized.

    Many aspects of the financial sector are also natural monopolies in a fully connected society. Hence, the issuing of fiat currency and of broad debt money should always be fully nationalized. A national commercial and retail bank like the old Commonwealth Bank would still make sense. Pensions, health care, health care funding and life insurances should all be nationalized along with education.

    To manufacture large machinery, perform heavy engineering, perform high-tech engineering and build large infrastructures on contract requires large enterprises. For a period or indefinitely (as empirical outcomes and tests lead us) a proportion of large-business capitalism or large-business cooperatives like Mondragon may well have to be tolerated. I would lean to encouraging the Mondragon cooperative model over capitalist corporations.

    There need to be limits on personal wealth and the passing on of patrimonial wealth. My son is an investor. What he uncovers in his due diligence before investing is quite revealing about capitalism and patrimonialism. He has researched a company in our country which is an old family business, operating for about 100 plus years. It is worth perhaps $250 million today and is in property and (commissioning) construction. My son uncovered the fact that it is building an entertainment center in a regional city and that it is getting two gifts (no other word for them) of one million dollars and two million dollars respectively from local and federal governments to build this center.

    The governments receive nothing substantial in return for these gifts apart from minor rights to use the center occasionally for events. Who knows, maybe this company regularly donates campaign funds to political parties? These free grants in the millions are essentially what is known in the trade as “grey gifts”. You or I would call it corrupt misallocation of government funds. By what rights or economic principles should private, already viable ,for-profit companies get large subsidies from governments? This is simply socialism for capitalist owners.

    Really existing capitalism as it is practiced in the West (I know less about the East) is riddled at all levels with this kind of corruption and massive and extensive subsidies to already rich people and rich corporations. Unless we end this corruption, our system will decay further and in all likelihood collapse since it is not dealing with its real problems of rampant inequality and environmental destruction. This corruption has become serious, extensive, severe and destructive under late stage neoliberal capitalism. Patrimonial capitalism is the worst kind of rent-seeking corruption.

  28. Andrew, four N95 masks would be nice, but they might be better off being sent to Melbourne. My mask is mostly to prevent droplets from my mouth and nose ending up in other people’s mouths and noses if I cough or sneeze.

    I’ll mention that a couple of weeks ago in Adelaide I caught a bog standard cold, which suggests we are very vulnerable to SARS-CoV-2 at the moment. I don’t know why I haven’t received some masks in the mail. It would cost a couple of bucks per resident to mail a couple of cloth masks to everyone. It would increase mask use and if community spread is detected — boom! Everyone wears a mask. No delay. The fact we haven’t gotten any yet reeks of incompetence and SA is supposed to be the low incompetence state when it comes to COVID-19.

  29. Ronald,

    What, you can’t buy your own masks to save your life… or somebody else’s? I am a blithering socialist and I still bought my own masks when they become available. Of course, they are only the crap cloth type from China that might save somebody else’s life but not mine.

    Mostly, I stay isolated and wash in a food-safe detergent in a tub everything delivered to the house that can be washed. The rest is put aside for 3 days before being touched again and hands are washed for 20 seconds after handling in the WHO approved manner.

    You are right about one thing. If you catch a cold or a flu. it’s a sign your isolation, distancing and hygiene measures are still not strict enough or else you have been very unlucky. I have been hoist on my own petard on that score once. I got a cold in late February early March from a family member visiting from outside of my current house, while that was still legal. At that time there were 0 detected COVID-19 cases in Queensland.

    If you are not a worker then: If there are zero detected COVID-19 cases in your state on a given day, it’s reasonable to assume that most basic errands can be run albeit with full hygiene and distancing protocols. If there are 1 to 5 detected COVID-19 cases in your state on a given day, I wouldn’t go out anywhere where you could meet people except in an emergency or for an absolute requirement. If there are more then 5 detected cases in your whole state then lock down at home completely and receive no visitors.

    If we could get Australia as a whole to 0 cases a day for a week or longer then I would slowly start going out and about normally, except that I would continue to distance and hand-wash (maybe not wear a mask) in the ways I have learnt from this pandemic. Avoiding the majority colds and flus going round will be well worth that little bit of trouble. I would never again go out with the slightest sniffle except an allergic sniffle which is different and usually self-diagnosable by a person used to allergies.

    Of course, life is much trickier for people who have to go to work and school their kids. I understand that. Been there done that in a flu epidemic but not in a COVID-19 pandemic. But those of use who are vulnerable or simply have the luxury [1] to isolate stringently, should do it to safeguard ourselves and to reduce the number of possible infection chains in the community as a whole.

    Note 1 – I consider it to be a great luxury to be able to avoid all humans most of the time, except for partner, close family, a few good neighbors and a few online sites.

  30. A few dollars per person distributing masks through the mail now, or huge crowds in the shops attempting to buy them when they are made compulsory.

    One move is smart and, given the upside, extremely inexpensive.

    The other move is dumb.

    Guess which one we’re going with so far?

    PS: I’m a capito/egotheist. Therefore everyone else should pay for me.

  31. Ronald,

    They’ve been available for a couple of months at all sorts of outlets. Almost easier to buy than toilet paper. Plus people can make their own and improvise with handkerchiefs, kerchiefs, mufflers and scarves.

    PS. I’m a reality-depressed priority monist. We are all connected but I wish we weren’t.

  32. More pandemic projections incl Joshua Gans… hope we seena review of this by JQ, because I can’t see how “rational agents can provide some insight”.?

    “The Economic Consequences of R̂ = 1: Towards a Workable Behavioural Epidemiological Model of Pandemics

    Joshua S. Gans

    NBER Working Paper No. 27632
    Issued in July 2020
    NBER Program(s):
    Health Economics, Productivity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship 

    “This paper reviews the literature on incorporating behavioural elements into epidemiological models of pandemics. While modelling behaviour by forward-looking rational agents can provide some insight into the time paths of pandemics, the non-stationary nature of Susceptible-Infected-Removed (SIR) models of viral spread makes characterisation of resulting equilibria difficult. Here I posit a shortcut that can be deployed to allow for a tractable equilibrium model of pandemics with intuitive comparative statics and also a clear prediction that effective reproduction numbers (that is, R) will tend towards 1 in equilibrium. This motivates taking R̂=1 as an equilibrium starting point for analyses of pandemics with behavioural agents. The implications of this for the analysis of widespread testing, tracing, isolation and mask-use is discussed.”


    “Estimating COVID-19 Under-Reporting Across 86 Nations: Implications for Projections and Control

    …” Scenarios through March 2021 show modest enhancements in responsiveness could reduce cumulative cases ≈80%, to 271 (254-412) million across these nations.”

    Rahmandad, Hazhir and Lim, Tse Yang and Sterman, John, 

    Estimating COVID-19 Under-Reporting Across 86 Nations: Implications for Projections and Control 

    (August 3, 2020). SSRN:

  33. hmmm, I wonder if this research area is where the HCQ boosting pseudo-medical-scientists take a wrong turn?

    Humans Might Be So Sickly Because We Evolved to Avoid a Single Devastating Disease (malaria)

    …This radical rewiring of our immune system is no small thing. If the malaria-hypothesis carries weight, it would have given Neu5Ac humans living in areas prone to the parasitic disease a huge advantage over their Neu5Gc relatives.

    But it might have been a big price to pay. A decade ago, researchers from the same team suggested the mutation would have separated our ancestral communities, potentially preventing them from reproducing.

    In other words, our species’ lineage might have splintered as a result of this complex of immune mutations, possibly occurring with the emergence of Homo erectus a little more than 2 million years ago.

    But there are other consequences of the change we’re still experiencing today.

    …As for that swap in sialic acid, it might have provided a new opportunity for a slew of other pathogens.

    A wide variety of viruses and bacteria gain entry to our cells by grabbing onto the fuzz of sialic acid, many of which infect humans but not apes. Many, such as cholera, smallpox, influenza, and coronaviruses, are far from trivial.

    “Most coronaviruses infect cells in two steps – first by recognising abundant sialic acids as binding sites to gain a foothold, and then seeking out the higher affinity protein receptors like ACE2,” physician Ajit Varki told Science magazine’s Ann Gibbons.

  34. Phew. That sandstorm was bad.

    Thanks to the pudding. …
    Where do climate refugees go?

    Anti gerrymandering!  Yay.

    US stimulus scenarios

    “How is flooding affecting your community?

    “A new peer-reviewed study The First Street Foundation projected flood risk for every home in America. The model identified the likelihood that homes will flood both today and 30 years into the future, accounting for increases in storm severity and sea level rise due to climate change.”

    **** And then… 
    “Where Will Everyone Go?
    ProPublica and The New York Times Magazine, with support from the Pulitzer Center, have for the first time modeled how climate refugees might move across international borders. 
    This is what we found…”

    By Abrahm Lustgarten, 
    July 23, 2020
    [long read, charts, data & links]

    …”Together, Oppenheimer and Krueger, who died in 2019, began to chip away at the question, asking whether tools typically used by economists might yield insight into the environment’s effects on people’s decision to migrate.”…  
    [ The study: 
    “Linkages among climate change, crop yields and Mexico–US cross-border migration
    Shuaizhang Feng, Alan B. Krueger, andMichael Oppenheimer
    PNAS August 10, 2010 107 (32) 14257-14262; ]

    You are in charge if re gerrymandering the gereymanders now. De- gerrymander or…

    Open source software to generate congressional districts and fight gerrymandering.

    Github [ code & data ]

    By Joel Simon with contributions from Joel Lehman
    and design by Nio Ono.

    None selected, click to reset”

    $600 Unemployment: What Happens When a Stimulus Lifeline Ends

    By Ella Koeze
    Updated July 27, 2020

    “Here’s how unemployment benefits could shift in every state if the $600 expires, ordered from the lowest to the highest level of benefits for someone who makes $35,000 a year:

    [ 3 scenarios selectable chart -$600 – 70% – Regular ]

    “Estimated payments in each state were calculated using an unemployment benefits calculatordeveloped by researchers at the University of Chicago. The calculator uses state unemployment eligibility requirements and rules to estimate the regular unemployment benefits of a worker without dependents, as of January 2020. The calculator may not capture every rule in every state, and estimated payments may not match an individual’s actual payments. These estimates assume that annual income was earned over 52 40-hour weeks. Averages do not include Washington D.C. or any territories.

    Source: Peter Ganong, Pascal Noel, Peter Robertson and Joseph Vavra, University of Chicago”

    [Search title + New York Times]


  35. My apologies to Ikon & Curt. I read both of your posts and hardly know how to reply. Upsetting. Cog diss? Yet here it is.   

    A fascist  (oops – “as a representation of magisterial or collective power, law and governance” Wikip) symbol on US coinage and US House of Reps! I hope this coin gets a spot in your forthcoming book JQ.

    Birds of a 0.01% feather… at least we know where the tree is… No wonder Jay Z & Beyoncé chosen another tree to live in.

    “This shady Police news website uses openly fascist logos and is run by a cop from a town of 86 billionaires

    “In unity there is strength” is a slogan derived from the original Fasces symbol, which inspired Mussolini’s National Fascist Party. While I certainly knew there was an overlap of pro-police propaganda and fascists, I didn’t expect this mysterious shitty website with a million followers to be openly boasting about fascism.

    So of course, I kept digging.”…

    …” it is present on the reverse of the USMercury dime coin and behind the podium in the United States House of Representatives; and it was the origin of the name of the National Fascist Party in Italy (from which the term fascism is derived).”

    “”Inside The Dangerous Online Fever Swamps Of American Police

    “Cops have a far-right media ecosystem of their own, where they post racist memes, spread disinformation and call for violence against antifa.

    “Greenberg, who founded Law Enforcement Today in 2007, is listed as a police captain with the Indian Creek Village Public Safety Department on its official website. It’s not exactly a rough-and-tumble job on the front lines of American policing. Indian Creek Village, Florida, is a tiny island enclave for the superrich that bills itself as “the world’s most exclusive municipality.” At the time of a Miami Heraldreport in 2014, it had only 86 residents, whose combined net worth exceeded $37 billion. Jay-Z and Beyoncé previously owned a home on the island. (Incidentally, Law Enforcement Today ran an article earlier this month opposing Apple Music’s support of Black Lives Matter and criticizing “cop-hater Beyoncé,” who was included in Apple’s playlist.) ”

    (Feel free to delete this image JQ. Or co-opt into sheafs and plowshares.)

    Followed by;
    ‘AI-Generated Text Is the Scariest Deepfake of All

    Synthetic video and audio seemed pretty bad. Synthetic writing—ubiquitous and undetectable—will be far worse.”

    (And no faustus, I have not peer reviewed these ‘stories’.)

  36. “The fasces frequently occurs as a charge in heraldry: it is present on the reverse of the US Mercury dime coin and behind the podium in the United States House of Representatives… – Wikipedia.

    “Fasces (English: /ˈfæsiːz/ FASS-eez, Latin: [ˈfaskeːs]; a plurale tantum, from the Latin word fascis, meaning “bundle”;[1] Italian: fascio littorio) is a bound bundle of wooden rods, sometimes including an axe with its blade emerging. The fasces had its origin in the Etruscan civilization and was passed on to ancient Rome, where it symbolized a magistrate’s power and jurisdiction.” – Wikipedia.

    “Since the original founding of the United States in the 18th century, several offices and institutions in the United States have heavily incorporated representations of the fasces into much of their iconography.” – Wikipedia.

    “The original symbol of fascism, in Italy under Benito Mussolini, was the fasces. This is an ancient Imperial Roman symbol of power carried by lictors in front of magistrates; a bundle of sticks featuring an axe, indicating the power over life and death. Before the Italian Fascists adopted the fasces, the symbol had been used by Italian political organizations of various political ideologies (ranging from socialist to nationalist), called Fascio (“leagues”) as a symbol of strength through unity.” – Wikipedia.

    Thus, many uses of fasces pre-date fascism and do not reference it.

    “the swastika or sauwastika — as a character, 卐 (right-facing or clockwise) or 卍 (left-facing or counterclockwise) respectively — is a geometrical figure and an ancient religious icon in the cultures of Eurasia. It is used as a symbol of divinity and spirituality in Indian religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.[1][2][3] In the Western world, it was a symbol of auspiciousness and good luck until the 1930s[4] when the right-facing tilted form became a feature of Nazi symbolism as an emblem of the Aryan race. As a result of World War II and the Holocaust, many people in the West still strongly associate it with Nazism and antisemitism.[5][6] Swastika still continues to be used as a symbol of good luck and prosperity in Hindu and Buddhist countries such as Nepal, India, Mongolia, and China. Swastika is very commonly used in Hindu marriage ceremonies.” – Wikipedia.

    The left-facing un-tilted form is a standard Hindu symbol for prosperity and peace. The tale I have heard is that the Nazis reversed it to represent war. The tilting makes it look more dynamic. It also gives it a sense of it rolling or spinning to the right and being a ripping plough or a buzzsaw-like set of claw-teeth. It is usually set over a white roundel in a red field. The white roundel can be thought of as the blur of motion and the red field as blood (obviously). This I think helps explain its psychological effect in addition to its now very negative associations. People often do subliminally, if not consciously, understand such symbolism in the acts of design and perception.

  37. From CoalWire: “Global coal power capacity declined by 21,200 megawatts (MW) in the first half of 2020 with the largest changes being the closure of 8300 MW in European Union countries and 5400 MW in the US, according to a new report by Global Energy Monitor. Over the same period 18,300 MW of new capacity was commissioned, of which 11,600 MW was in China, resulting in a 2900 MW net decline over the period. ”
    A lot of covid in the timing here, but that won’t explain the decisions.

  38. EV update
    The sales numbers for July are out, and for once the one-month number is probably a better indicator than the six-month one. In the three largest national markets in Europe, EV sales (counting both BEVs and PHEVs) reached 9.0% in he UK, 9.5% in France, and 11.4% in Germany. The article is mainly about Swedish startup Northvolt raising $3bn from blue-chip banks and pension funds for two very big battery factories in Sweden and Germany.

    German customers seem to be overcoming their irrational fixation with long-distance high-speed autobahn cruising. You can’t actually drive for hours at 160 kph, because the road is clogged up with trucks limited to 80 kph, being passed by fuddy-duddies like me at 120 kph (the limit in Spain), but the FREIHEIT is highly prized, at least by the motoring press. The change may have something to do with the launch by Volkswagen of the ID3, so there is now a mass-market German-made family electric car for the patriotic to buy.

  39. James Wimberley (Re: Aug 8 at 4:14am),

    FYI, there’s an interesting post by Cameron Roberts dated Aug 5, headlined “There aren’t enough batteries to electrify all cars – focus on trucks and buses instead”.

    Meanwhile, Reuters reports today:
    “The U.S. rig count, an early indicator of future output, fell by four to an all-time low of 247 in the week to Aug. 7, according to data on Friday from energy services firm Baker Hughes Co going back to 1940.

    That was 687 rigs, or 74%, below this time last year. The weekly rig count has dropped or held steady since March.”

    Will an oil and gas glut now, that is suppressing new petroleum resource exploration and developments, quickly flip to global shortages when/(if?) the COVID-19 crisis ends?
    Is US energy dominance finished?
    Was Oct/Nov 2018 the all-time peak of global petroleum oil production and we are now living in a post- ‘peak oil’ supply world?

    Will private car transport become the privilege of the wealthy later this decade and beyond? Something to ponder.

  40. I don’t buy Cameron Robert’s doomsaying on batteries at all. There is no lump of batteries constraint. Tesla, a company new to large-scale manufacturing, built its gigafactory in Nevada – a state with no manufacturing tradition or ecosystem – in two years. Northvolt are following a similar schedule. The price of lithium is falling as it scales up from a niche mineral to a major one. If there is a battery shortage in 2022, it will be fixed two years later.

    Serious large-scale EV carmakers are locking in battery and minerals supply through long-term risk-sharing contracts, involving billions of euros and dollars. We should worry more about the ethics of such large capitalist corporations and less about their technical competence.

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