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


http://eepurl.com/dAv6sX You can also follow me on Twitter @JohnQuiggin, at my Facebook public page   and at my Economics in Two Lessons page

17 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. The sound of chainsaws and the sight of a very big crane shocked me a couple of days ago in Seven Hills where I live. There they were cutting a perfect beautiful Eucalyptus molluccana (an endemic tree thats found on the Cumberland Plains of western Sydney. This tree that I have seen for about 40 years stood on Ellam Drive on the footpath on this main road in the area. It had been a home to many birds and was just standing there ‘cleaning the air that we all share’. The tree was about 80 years. It was a healthy tree and Blacktown council cut it down, it took a couple of hours. Most locals hated this tree because whenever the wind blew they thought it would fall down. Its been there for a long time, it was healthy. This was an act of total vandalism. Blacktown council is not a ‘green’ council and even our few parks and reserves are neglected by the this council. Our rates are also very high some of the highest in the country and we really don’t get much for it. The council is a mixture of Labour, Liberal and a few independents. There are no Greens. Greens are also hated in this area. Western Sydney becomes a ‘heat Island’ in summer and temperatures reach up into the 40’s, but locals don’t really care and don’t even know this. Western Sydney is a basin and a pollution trap. Building Badgerys creek airport will be the last nail in the coffin. People are been kept the the dark about this pollution guzzler. They have cleared 1180 hectres of Cumberland plains woodlnd to build this monster airport. We have only 6 percent real bushland left. This council is also building far too many flats ( as I call them) in the area. They are building the new slum suburbs. Another monster they want to built is an incinerator. Thats another story. It’s total madness and greed and ‘developorous ravenous’ (greedy developers), corrupt politicians and councillors have been very busy destroying what is really our heritage and our children’s. But who cares about Heritage. My two children have left the area and will never come back to western Sydney. I am glad about that. I cannot afford to move. Western Suburbs becoming the new slums of tomorrow. Sonia Bennett.

  2. Can anyone explain this headscratching comment by David Crowe in the Saturday SMH, specifically the first part of the sentence?

    “Tax cuts are always bigger by value for those on higher incomes, unless a government includes an offset to favour those with less.”

    That’s….that’s not how marginal tax rates work? My most charitable reading is that he means *within* a tax bracket, but that’s a hell of a qualification to leave out. (To my ears, it has the vague implicature that it’s some kind of law of nature that tax cuts disproportionately favour the wealthy)

    Is that what he meant, or am I missing some other interpretation of the sentence that makes it not obviously, head-smackingly false?

    https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/the-corona-budget-heroic-assumptions-and-phantom-fears-20201009-p563mv.html

  3. The OECD are making real progress towards stopping international corporate tax evasion. From their press release https://www.oecd.org/newsroom/international-community-renews-commitment-to-address-tax-challenges-from-digitalisation-of-the-economy.htm:

    “The aim is ensure that digitally-intensive or consumer-facing Multinational Enterprises (MNEs) pay taxes where they conduct sustained and significant business, even when they do not have a physical presence, as is currently required under existing tax rules. … Participants also approved for public consultation a new Blueprint for Pillar Two of the project, which would introduce a global minimum tax that would help countries around the world address remaining issues linked to base erosion and profit shifting by MNEs.”

    The project is nominally about the “digital economy” but the tax bureaucrats have sensibly decided to use this as a pretext for a global scheme of formulary apportionment. About bloody time too.

    This will still be very difficult to get through. Tiny tax havens like Panama and Jersey can be steamrollered, as with shipping flags of convenience, but plenty of bigger countries like Ireland play the beggar-my-neighbour game of competitive tax breaks. But the “too complicated” technical objections no longer work. If the Biden Administration (touch wood) wants to make a real push for this, along with the EU, it could get it done.

    In other good news from the dinosaur baby steps department, JP Morgan Chase have committed (soggily) to Paris virtue. CoalWire https://endcoal.org/2020/10/coalwire-342-october-8-2020/:
    “JPMorgan Chase, the world’s largest funder of fossil fuel projects, has announced it will align its financing with the Paris Agreement goals and will assist clients’ transition to a low-carbon world. However, the announcement made no new restrictions on its coal financing beyond committing to announcing in 2021 emissions targets for 2030 for the power sector.”

    And Chinese mastodon CEIC, the world’s largest power company, “has revealed plans to install up to 30 GW of solar” https://www.pv-magazine.com/2020/10/09/chinese-pv-industry-brief-ceic-vows-to-deploy-30-gw-of-solar/ It’s state-run, so the announcement, following closely on Xi’s “net zero by 2060” target, looks like a shot across the bows of the provincial leaders and crony coal firms who are building massive amounts of loss-making new coal generation. Xi may have stopped dithering on coal.

  4. Did they ask you JQ? Interesting for you work’s longevity.

    “What 21st-Century Works Will Merit a Close Reading in 2050?: First Tranche of Responses

    “Abstract
    Collected here are nine responses to the question, “What 21st-century works will merit a close reading in 2050?” Clarifications of that question are provided in the prologue. The nine respondents are Niclas Berggren, Arthur Diamond, Lanny Ebenstein, David George, Hannes Gissurarson, Charles Goodhart, Jimena Hurtado, Daniel Klein, and Arnold Kling. In the future another tranche of responses will be provided, from respondents with last names beginning L through Z.”
    https://econjwatch.org/articles/what-21st-century-works-will-merit-a-close-reading-in-2050-first-tranche-of-responses

  5. Permanent is the word I was hoping for.Tutors vs teachers – covid disadvantaged student ‘boost’.

    Should we employ tutors as gig workers paid on an hrly rate for six months as private $’s. Or increase number of teachers permanently? And where are these proposed 4,000 expert remedial tutors (teachers) hiding? And whatndo they do after the 6mths is up?

    “A $250 million Victorian Government initiative to help disadvantaged students bounce back from a pandemic-interrupted school year will see an additional 4,100 tutors added to the education workforce, with 80 per cent of them expected to be women.”
    https://abc.net.au/news/2020-10-13/coronavirus-australia-live-news-covid-19-victoria-daniel-andrews/12759292

    $250m is a quarter of necessary funding says Grattan – “First, $1 billion should go towards helping large numbers of struggling students” [Grattan link below] 

    $250,000,000 Vic govt. tutor budget ÷ $70,000 teacher pay = 3,571 teacher years.

    Article states “additional  4,000 tutors”.

    As of February 2019, Victoria had 1,529 public schools
    “More than 552,300 students were enrolled in primary schools and more than 418,600 in secondary schools. … Victoria has about 46,523 full-time teachers.[58]”
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victoria_(Australia)

    “the average student to teaching staff ratio for all schools was 13.7”. ABS

    3,571 teachers ÷ 1,529 schools = 2.36 extra teachers per school for 1 year only. @$70,000 yrly pay.

    Now: 970,000 students ÷ 46,500 teachers = 20.9 teaching staff to pupil ratio.

    With additional 3571 teachers 970000 students/50,271 teachers = 19.3 teaching staff to student ratio.

    Where are these 4,000 expert remedial tutors (teachers) hiding? 

    “​The teacher supply and demand report”
    https://www.education.vic.gov.au/about/department/Pages/factsandfigures.aspx#link81

    Click to access TSDR-2018-final-report.pdf

    Click to access TSDR_2018-_Supplementary_Data_Report.pdf

    Grattan Institute says:
    “Disadvantaged students may have lost a month’s learning during the COVID crisis

    “We estimate around one in four students will need help to catch up on their learning. 

    “We recommend a recovery package of A$1.2 billion targeted at vulnerable students for the next six months. This will help one million students, around one in four, recover the learning lost during COVID.

    “The money should be spent on two high-priority initiatives.

    “First, $1 billion should go towards helping large numbers of struggling students access small-group tutoring. Tutoring would be delivered in groups of about three students, either in or outside classes, three or four times a week over a 12-week period.

    “Evidence shows small group tuition can boost student learning by five months over one or two terms of schooling.

    “Second, we recommend investing $70 million in successful literacy and numeracy programs which can improve student learning by three or more months

    “To ensure the students who most need help are accurately identified in the first place, we recommend the national assessment body – the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority – create a A$20 million package of suitable in-class assessment tools. The right support depends on pinpointing student needs.

    “While costing a little over $1 billion, our suggested reform package would deliver about $3.5 billion in extra future earnings for disadvantaged students, given better results at school leads to better employment and income prospects in later life.”
    https://grattan.edu.au/news/disadvantaged-students-may-have-lost-a-month-of-learning-during-the-covid-19-disruptions/

  6. I agree that “The suggestions put forth by the Great Barrington Declaration are NOT based in science.”

    “Public health organizations condemn herd immunity scheme for controlling spread of SARS-CoV-2
    Date: Oct 14 2020

    “Great Barrington Declaration is not grounded in science and is dangerous

    “(Washington, DC) – SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has infected at least 7.8 million people in the United States and 38 million worldwide. It has led to over 215,000 deaths domestically, and more than 1 million globally – with deaths continuing to climb.

    “If followed, the recommendations in the Great Barrington Declaration would haphazardly and unnecessarily sacrifices lives. The declaration is not a strategy, it is a political statement. It ignores sound public health expertise. It preys on a frustrated populace. Instead of selling false hope that will predictably backfire, we must focus on how to manage this pandemic in a safe, responsible and equitable way.

    “The suggestions put forth by the Great Barrington Declaration are NOT based in science.”…

    https://apha.org/news-and-media/news-releases/apha-news-releases/2020/public-health-orgs-condemn-sars-covid2-plan

    “This statement was authored by:
    Trust for America’s Health
    American Public Health Association
    Big Cities Health Coalition
    American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare
    Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology
    Association of Public Health Laboratories
    Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health
    De Beaumont Foundation
    Johns Hopkins Center for Public Security of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health
    National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities Directors
    National Association of County and City Health Officials
    National Association for Rural Mental Health
    National Network of Public Health Institutes
    Prevention Institute
    Public Health Institute
    Resolve to Save Lives
    Well Being Trust

  7. KT2, COVID-19 deaths are just part of the story… and then there’s “Long Covid”.

    “These symptoms may be due to four different syndromes:

    * permanent organ damage to the lungs and heart
    * post-intensive-care syndrome
    * post-viral fatigue syndrome
    * continuing Covid-19 symptoms

    Some of those affected have had a long stay in hospital with severe Covid-19 – but others, who have had a mild infection, have never even been tested or diagnosed.”
    See: https://www.bbc.com/news/health-54540544

    “Estimates have suggested that 10% of Covid patients experience symptoms lasting longer than three weeks, and around one in 50 will still be ill at three months. The NIHR report said lasting symptoms had been observed in all age groups, including children, but unpublished results from the Covid Symptom Study suggest that women and older people may be at greater risk.”
    See: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/oct/15/long-covid-what-we-know-so-far

    IMO, the so-called ‘herd immunity’ theory is a dangerous, high risk strategy.

  8. “Can anyone explain this headscratching comment by David Crowe in the Saturday SMH, specifically the first part of the sentence?”

    Jones are you trying to gaslight us? You know full well that if you want to give the same amount back for everyone, the only way to do this is to increase the tax free threshold.

  9. Developers Energy Renaissance will soon break ground on an ultimately large lithium-ion battery factory near the Australian coal port of Newcastle: https://www.pv-magazine-australia.com/2020/10/13/energy-renaissance-lithium-ion-gigafactory-breaks-ground-in-tomago-nsw/
    They expect first production from the quite small first phase in mid-2021. That’s less than a year. Bear that timetable in mind when you read scare stories about shortages of battery supply. In a very fast-growing market, shortages are indeed likely from time to time, leading to delays in EV and stationary battery production. But they won’t last long.

  10. Currently, almost everyone seems to be obsessed with getting society and thus the political-economy back to “normal”. The whole world of people would like to get back to normal. This is probably descriptively accurate but prescriptively impossible. Yes, people would like to get back to what they came to perceive as normal under consumer capitalism. However, the Western and advanced Asian “normal” is ecologically and climatalogically impossible if we want to survive. It is unsustainable. If we want to survive we must NOT get back to normal. Normal will destroy the benign Holocene biosphere and human civilization with it. We have to take the COVID-19 pandemic as a sign and facilitator for NOT getting back to normal. Normal has been the ecologically destructive processes of over-production and over-consumption in capitalism.

    Yes, we do need to continue the expenditure of more real resources (money is meaningless) on vaccine research, on public health, on aged care, on education, on safe food and on fair distribution of necessities to all for a healthy and fulfilled human life WITHIN ecologically sustainable parameters. No, we do not need to restart much of the wasteful paraphernalia of consumer capitalism and the debased values and behaviors which go with it. To do that will be to consign ourselves to decline and collapse, ecologically and civilizationally.

    Industries which have been significantly closed down and missed for income per se but not for essentials are proven by that very fact to be non-essential. International tourist travel is non-essential. As much as 80% or 90% of the previous airline industry is non-essential. Cruise ships are non-essential. Personal automobiles are non-essential whereas mass transit designed to be pandemic safe is essential and will be a great challenge to design and implement. Pets are non-essential. Elite sports and stadiums are non-essential. Excesses of fatty, starchy and sugary foods are non-essential. Excesses of animal protein are non-essential. All of these non-essential consumption items are highly damaging ecologically including to the climate and to people physically and mentally and yet people continue to regard them as normal and desirable. Ecologically and humanly speaking they are abnormal and highly undesirable on any enlightened assessment.

    Unless we take this near “Dark Green” approach to economics, and to what should be re-started and permitted in our economy, we will be committing ecological and human omnicide. The denouement is close. We are in a grave planetary emergency right now in every sense. In conditions of total war, to use that analogy, people, not just combatants, (those who survive at least) give up childish and frivolous things and knuckle down to the serious work and efforts which promise a genuine possibility of survival. We are now, or should be, joined in a common, total effort to save the biosphere and human civilization. To continue with our greedy, over-indulgent capitalist over-consumption will be the height of folly and will be swiftly and comprehensively punished by the natural and biological forces of nature. Even the rapid rise and accelerated emergence of novel zoonotic diseases, of which COVID-19 is just the latest, is a sign of the pathological maladjustment of our political economy to the natural world.

  11. “Currently, almost everyone seems to be obsessed with getting society and thus the political-economy back to “normal”. The whole world of people would like to get back to normal. This is probably descriptively accurate but prescriptively impossible.”

    You go on to claim that we are surrounded by emergencies. But imbedded in your statement quoted above is the idea that we should have a massive transfer of wealth to the international creditor class. Thats a losing position and a wrong one. Surrounded by emergencies we cannot be squandering resources in such a mindless way.

    I agree with the new statement by the W.H.O. These lockdown enslavement training sessions should only have been for a short time to scramble for resources.

    “Even the rapid rise and accelerated emergence of novel zoonotic diseases, of which COVID-19 is just the latest, is a sign of the pathological maladjustment of our political economy to the natural world.”

    No just nonsense. This was a terrorist attack. No evidence ever emerged for it being a natural occurrence. You don’t have a scrap of evidence for your theory. I could help you out and give you some ideas but you can’t back up what you are saying here. The idea of building up vitamin D levels ahead of exposure to the virus (just by way of example) has never been expressed by a lockdown fascist.

    The problem with you fascists is that you all have different requests for the use of the gendarmerie. So that if all your requests were met the fascist abuse would never end or take a break. And once you have that as the working norm then the mass killing always starts.

    So put this fascism behind you. Its completely unscientific and anti-philosophical. Sometimes the compulsion is needed but thats when the thinking caps have to go on to try and make that phase end as soon as possible.

  12. “Excesses of animal protein are non-essential. All of these non-essential consumption items are highly damaging ecologically including to the climate and to people physically and mentally and yet people continue to regard them as normal and desirable.”

    We need a lot more cattle. A lot more herbivores. We cannot reconstitute the soil and imbed carbon without a lot more cattle. You’ve just set up a manifesto for a slave state and not even on a scientific basis.

    “Yes, we do need to continue the expenditure of more real resources (money is meaningless) on vaccine research…..”

    What is the covid-19 problem caused by? Its a virus. What sort of virus? Its a corona virus. Is a corona virus amenable to a vaccine? No it isn’t. Are there alternatives? Yes there are. The President came dancing out of the hospital after getting a good mix of treatments not excluding swamping the virus with antibodies not his own. This treatment has precedent with the T.I.G (tetanus immunoglobulin shot). Instead of forcing your body to make antibodies with a vaccine you can swamp your system with anti-bodies. This sort of treatment has a good track record and I’m sure you’ve been watching the news and heard Trumps rather manic pronouncements on the subject.

    The point is you are asking for a slave state without serious analysis and when the serious analysis is complete you will be still after a slave state. Whereas you have a responsibility to help put the Dan Andrews disgrace behind us, and see to it, that these outrages can never happen again.

  13. Oh yeah! Spread human-bred ungulates everywhere and that will fix everything in the ecology! I think not.

    “Sheep and cattle are ungulates (hooved animals); a group of animals within which Australia has no native members. Ungulates inflict a terrible strain on Australian habitat, compacting soil, destroying native vegetation and increasing erosion, because our ecosystems are not used to them. The farming and consumption of kangaroos within Australia, in this context, makes far more sense than farming sheep and cattle, as their natural occurrence within our ecosystems has encouraged a natural resilience to their presence, and in some cases, they encourage growth of natural habitats.” – wildsiencetalk dot com.

    There are (or were) ecosystems which co-evolved with migrating herds of wild ungulates. Most of these ecosystems are now highly disrupted and many of the great herds are now gone. The American Bison comes to mind. African Wildebeest have declined markedly too. These ecosystems have been disrupted in many ways and cut by fences, roads and altered landscapes. Restoring natural herds would take a lot of changes… like returning the entire mid-west to the bison herds. In addition, thinking that human ungulates are going to do the same ecological job in many cases is fantasy.

    Grass ecologies have been altered and climate zones are moving. This introduces more complications. Nevertheless, there are savanna landscapes where managing cattle properly can restore landscapes, not to pristine, but at least to something better than their current woefully degraded state. The numbers have to be kept relatively low and the cattle moved around a lot. Essentially, most of the land is being spelled (rested from cattle) most of the time.

  14. “Nevertheless, there are savanna landscapes where managing cattle properly can restore landscapes, not to pristine, but at least to something better than their current woefully degraded state. The numbers have to be kept relatively low and the cattle moved around a lot. Essentially, most of the land is being spelled (rested from cattle) most of the time.”

    Close enough. We need more animals, tighter herding, more moves, more fences, smaller paddocks, more portable electric fences, more jobs doing strip-grazing. We need to be planting trees below swales that are nitrogen fixing and for the fence posts that will be needed. The medium-term goal is to move them 3 times a day. You get them to trample one third of the grass, turn one third into fertiliser and have one third intact, then leave for sixty days. So about half of the grass every sixty days becomes carbon internment.

    We need to get rid of all instances of year round mono-culture without animals. We have these genius farmers, who with exquisite timing have figured out how to get annuals grown but in the context of grazing during parts of the year, and a good mix of perennial grasses being there all the time. The perennials get knocked back a couple of times by the animals. This allows for a breathing space where the annuals can be planted. Thats great. Thats consistent with carbon internment and soil development. But post-war monoculture-only must be sent to the grave if we want both sides of the carbon balance-sheet right. Wheat-growing but no more wheat-belt.

    Doing things right means more animals and more labour on the land. We have the public servants and the unemployed people to do this. There are unemployed people right now who would be happy for the work. The money coming back in GST, beer excise, and extra food production.

    Not less meat, more meat.

  15. “Pristine” is not the word. Because it invokes a wrong and superstitious idea that mankind is incapable of working with nature and helping her improve. Whereas the bird with a tiny brain can help spread the forest by transporting the seed within the fruit, and fertilising that seed, there is the erroneous idea, that man, with all his learning, is powerless to improve upon anything at all.

    The rain falls on the roof and the sun beats down thereafter. Now the roof needs a new coat of paint. Whereas the same treatment applied to the garden can only make things better. While it has to be admitted that the achievements of evolution, or natures God, put anything that man can do to shame; this does not mean that we cannot guide nature to idyllic conditions, should the practitioners of obstruction, ethnic partisanship, lick-balling to foreign oligarchs, be neutralised.

    The word you were looking for is ‘IDYLLIC.” Idyllic and not pristine. Words like “wild” or “pristine” will only enforce bad mental habits.

    So no the Kangaroo on his own under pristine conditions is not the herbivore of choice to green the deserts. He can come along for the ride. He can bounce along with us. But he’s not the critter to do the job, since the response of the kangaroo to predators is not to bunch. It is to disperse. He’s probably not amendable to bunched herding and electric fences.

    So we have to unlearn a great many things here. Mostly we have to unlearn being disloyal to our fellow Australians. Nothing good can come out of failing to unlearn such grubby mental habits.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s