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

54 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. With Brexit now a harsh reality and a Bidden presidency imminent, what will 2021 look like on the world stage?
    Russia and China seem intent on dominating their neighborhoods. Asia seems divided between the rich countries and the wannabies. Central America seems politically unstable. South America seems to be on the edge of economic disaster. Africa looks like a mixture of downed economies and those already out. Europe is united in name only. Oceania is on the verge of climate catastrophe. The Middle East, in comparison, is doing better than it has for long time.
    So where does trade and development go once the pandemic is partly tamed?
    Trade flows in and out of countries with many surplus units. Development depends on political stability. But these are just parameters. Outcomes can be surprising at times. There are no guarantees.
    The year 2021 may see globalisation return to its former glory. Then again it may happen that regionalism takes over; and certain areas are deliberately locked out of any trade booms.
    As for economic development in South East Asia, the budding stars are India and Indonesia. Whether they get to play a major part in global growth remains to be seen.
    This year will be an economic turning point!. The new path taken by trade and development may surprise many, by the time the year finally comes to an end.

  2. @Gregory
    We should expect more of the same trajectory we were on since GFC in this decade.
    You have skipped to analise USA which is a central point of the world stage.
    As we can see by refusal to increase the help to their own people by Senate rejecting $2000 help for desperate population increased by pandemic that USA will continue on its trajectory of economic decline and desparation. The elite will keep blaming others in order to escape the responsibility of recovery. The fact that the pandemic originated in China is helping them in thier intent to avoid responsibility. But you could consider that economic decline of the USA and their state of health providers prevented them from even testing for virus before highly developing and organised China did, hence we can not know where pandemic did really originated.
    A post analasys of some American patients showed that Cov-2 virus was present in blood samples taken in October of 2019 and some symptoms of Covid-19 in September of that year.
    Elites will hide that fact in order to influence “blame others” campaign.
    We are on the course to more conflicting world stage that started in 2008.

  3. A test post to see if my posting is working but I will still try to make a few points.

    (1) Agree that Russia and China seem intent on dominating their neighborhoods. I would add “well beyond” their neighborhoods.

    (2) “Central America seems politically unstable. South America seems to be on the edge of economic disaster. Africa looks like a mixture of downed economies and those already out. Europe is united in name only. Oceania is on the verge of climate catastrophe.” Agree to all of that.

    (3) “The Middle East is doing better.” I really can’t see that. In what way(s)?

    (4) I doubt globalization will return in all its glory in 2021 or ever.

    (5) “As for economic development in South East Asia, the budding stars are India and Indonesia. Whether they get to play a major part in global growth remains to be seen.” Yeah maybe, time will tell, but remember there is not enough climate stability and resources left even for China to fully complete its development let alone India and Indonesia.

    (6) USA faces huge problems of inequality and unrest.

    (7) I’ve not seen any reputable, peer reviewed data on the net to suggest that “some American patients showed that Cov-2 virus was present in blood samples taken in October of 2019 and some symptoms of Covid-19 in September of that year”. though if it was the case that could put a new light on the very bad colds my wife and I caught in Arizona in Sept. 2019. Somehow I think they were just colds though.

  4. We’ve learnt two things recently: both JQ and Iko are married. Good for them. It’s a dirty secret in sociology that marriage is on the whole a successful institution. For an expedition to Mars, your best bet in assembling a crew of four is two married couples, one straight and one gay.

  5. The movie “2001: A Space Odyssey” showed a highly established moon base in 2001. Here we are in 2021 and there is still no moon base and no earth-orbiting space station of the size and sophistication of the space station in 2001. Yet, they still used clunky video displays and had no mobile phones in the movie.

    Technology moves on surprising paths. Stuff that requires brute force kinetic energy, like space launches, is way behind predictions. Stuff that requires relatively little energy or at least distributed energy rather concentrated energy, like AI, mbile phones, flat screens etc is way ahead of predictions and/or not imagined at all.

    I very much doubt that Mars is our future. We have to save Planet A. There is no Planet B. It appears the future will be distributed electronic stuff and bio stuff but not concentrated mechanical/kinetic stuff. That’s if we have any future at all. I doubt we do but we must keep on fighting just in case we can survive.

  6. A good example. Taxing is about human rights – “Nina Olson has changed each of their worlds for the better and, in turn, all of ours”.

    “Humanizing the Tax System: What National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson Did For America’s Kids and their Families

    Pittsburgh Tax Review, Vol. 18, No. 1, 2020

    …” This essay will use Olson’s exceptional advocacy reshaping the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to describe how empowering taxpayer rights has helped to lift millions of children and their families out of poverty. These efforts are especially critical because the EITC lifts more children out of poverty each year than any other government program. As a result, Ms. Olson’s eighteen years of advocacy have helped to enrich countless lives—a generation of children and, in many cases, their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and a second generation of the children’s children, have been spared from the abyss of poverty. Nina Olson has changed each of their worlds for the better and, in turn, all of ours.”

  7. Yes, my son gives me an interesting new perspective on the Australian tax system. he is a self-employed investor. Of course, the son of an armchair socialist becomes an active, investor capitalist. That’s how it works. Your offspring become your diametric opposite, sometimes.

    I worked in the Dept. of Social Security and then in Centrelink so I was concerned with welfare, not taxation. However, I knew the taxation system was over-complex and that it aided well off people, business people and corporates much more than the unemployed and the poor. But now with my son’s perspective thrown in, I see I did not know the half of it.

    He basically say to me now that it’s not worth working for a boss unless you are a highly skilled worker who can get at least $100,000 a year. Then he tells me all the advantages he gets as a pure investor. The advantages are outrageous. Even my son admits it. But as he says, the system has made it rational for him to be an investor and speculator and irrational for him to work at being what he was trained to be (a computer software, firmware and hardware systems engineer. He could earn $100,000 a year now in a job with a boss but after taxes he would have much less left. He can earn less than now (with good prospects of more in the future) and still have more money left after all his tax and investment lurks. As I said the tax advantages to him are outrageous and make it only rational for him to be an investor and not a worker, with his skill set.

    The incentives to do real work are not great enough in our system. Orchardists complain they can’t get pickers unless they get immigrant labor, usually on temporary visas, and then, as usually happens, illegally underpay them. This means they don’t pay enough. Dropping the minumum wage is a race to the bottom. If we do that we will look like the USA or the most rural and backward parts of China or India.

    Workers need to be paid the true reproductive cost of labor. In modern societies, the true reproductive cost of labor is akin to the old basic wage in Australia but at a higher rate to account for higher costs of living, expecially housing and the quality or hedonic improvement in goods and indeed new goods as technology progresses.

    Now, it can be argued that labor is much less required. That is generally true (and yet fruit picking labor still seems necessary to use that example). With labor being less required, we see the importance of labor per se as a source of use value and this value creation declining. The labor theory of value, which never held completely, but was largely correct at the start of the industrial revolution, now holds less and less. Machines, mechanical and elctronic, can now robotize and automate much more production. The labor theory recedes as a valid thesis. Marx foresaw this in his “Fragment on the machines”. He continues effectively to be much smarter (in his extant works) than both his acolytes and his critics.

    Labor is declining in importance as a source of income. It needs to be replaced with a new source of income for ALL people. The two ways are a UBI (Universal Basic Income) and actually paying people in jobs what they need and not what they “earn” or are “worth”. The assumption that income reflects value creation is completely flawed. it is pure ideology. There is actually no objective way to measure individual human input to value creation. See Shimshon Bichler & Jonathan Nitzan and Blair Fix.

    The answer is to decide what we need. More workers and professional in research, medicine and pandemic control right now is one thing we need for example. You decide how many you need by scientific criteria via the hard and social sciences. Then the state mandates this employment, becomes the main employer itself in such arenas, and pays living wages at least sufficient to support a family of four for each worker (whether or not there is one or two of a couple working. Inflation is fought by taxing the rich and upper middle classes harder and also taxing harder those without dependents.

    Finally, with machines producing much more of the basic goods and services (but not necessarily skilled human services where the “human touch” is needed as we are evolved to need it) we see that socialism IS now possible. From each according to his skills (that includes machines now) and to each according to his needs. This is as Marx fully foresaw as in his “Fragment on the machines”. He foresaw the dialectical obsolescence of his own labor theory itself, inherently contained in capitalism’s very processes of development. We now need to understand this and stop clinging to “value” capitalism. Capitalism is not about value. It is about power. It is the power relations of capitalist society which we need to transform. We have to oppose the reactionary clinging to current wealth relations and the power relations they instantiate and uphold, and also the backing of this system by the brute force employed by reactionary capitalists (an oxymoron) which said brute force refers to police, security and military.

    Only if we see matters in this fashion and actively promote this best possible path will this come to be. Otherwise, if we continue to promote fallacious money value capitalism and its axiomatic wealth inequalities and ecological destruction, we will destroy the biosphere and ourselves. It’s that stark now.

  8. Ikon, I could never ‘work’ for a ‘boss’ either. But I just could not be a rentier or market player. Grated against my motals and ethics.

    Your son may now hide his gains here, as …

    “There will be much celebrating in the UK’s tax havens, and in the City of London at this news.

    “I cannot possibly count the hours I spent helping ensure that the UK’s Crown Dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man, in particular, complied with the EU Code of Conduct on Business Taxation between about 2004 and 2010. And I won, to be candid. Their tax laws were radically changed as a result of the campaigns I worked on then. Their planned ways to avoid the obligations of this Code were defeated, in a word.

    “And now the Code will no longer apply. And so they can reimpose the artificial ring fences that favour non-resident taxpayers and so recreate full tax haven status again.

    “Will the new deal the UK has proposed be good enough? I very much doubt it.

    “This is not a Christmas present that I wanted.”

    And learn to trade with – a new knife which learns can cut – or can be used to stab – an AI assistant such as MuZero, child of Deepmind, and assure us imo, another / more flash financial crashes by trying to use…

    “DeepMind’s New AI Masters Games Without Even Being Taught the Rules

    “By simultaneously learning the rules and improving its play, MuZero outdoes its DeepMind predecessors in the economical use of data. In the Atari game of Ms. Pac-Man, when MuZero was limited to considering six or seven simulations per move—“a number too small to cover all the available actions,” as DeepMind notes, in a statement—it still did quite well.

    “The system takes a fair amount of computing muscle to train, but once trained, it needs so little processing to make its decisions that the entire operation might be managed on a smartphone. “And even the training isn’t so much,” says Schrittwieser. “An Atari game would take 2-3 weeks to train on a single GPU.”

    Tobin + robot tax + ubi – soon. Please.

  9. KT2,

    My son believes that his rational investing is a “win-win” for him and society. I have my doubts but since this is clearly the only thing he is going to do I accept it. I also find it quite interesting to compare my concepts and notes with his. On some matters we quite agree, like solar energy.

    He is investing quite a bit into solar energy providers, ones who are doing apartment buildings, local community level and town systems with everything (generation, storage, smart-grid AI) and also self-contained from the grid. He also invests in commercial property companies (picking the ones that are insulated in some way from the working from home move. He invests in nano-tech. But he always does in-depth due diligence and picks companies he considers under-valued by the market and companies that are part of some technological new wave which he assesses will do well but their basic balance sheets still have to be excellent. He uses a “Kelly betting” approach to investing and does quite a bit of hedging the downside and attempting to maximize upside using mathematical modelling.

    He plays with speculation too like short puts and cryptocurrencies and has made considerable money off them. He believes techies and investment wizards (as he sees himself) can disrupt the corporate capitalism / financial capitalism / bankster nexus and take money and eventually financial power off them and thus transform the world into something better (at least for techies and investment wizards like him). It’s an interesting belief and some of his theories do seem to hold water but then the waste of energy on creating cryptos (for one example) greatly worries me.

    It is certainly a bizarre system. For example, if I had bought $X of bitcoin (which I easily could have afforded to risk losing) at a right time (but not an unrealistically early time before I knew of it and what is was) I could easily have turned that into $X times 100 by then realizing it at an opportune time. Of course, I would have needed a crystal ball (twice) to do that. But given the nature of this modern system, I probably should have done that anyway rather than buy a 4WD (eco-unfriendly I know). The 4WD is a total financial loss in all ways, except for resale value. I have used it far too little for its designed utility purpose and it’s almost completely useless now under COVID-19 conditions except for Qld. touring I guess. Factor in the wet season, bushfires etc, and the time window for using it is shrunk further. Basically it sits in the garage or carries groceries for us and food and gear to go help my elderly, housebound father-in-law.

    But it’s entirely wrong that (a) I could afford an eco-unfriednly 4WD and (b) that with a bit daring and luck I could have made $X times 100 instead. It’s all wrong and I’m guilty too like every other comfortable person in the West. In my view the incentives of late stage capitalism are entirely perverse. It co-opts us all to the bonfire of destruction. It’s systematized destruction.

  10. The tendency of tax systems to favour capital income over labour income is very unfortunate. That said, one still has to successfully transform labour income into capital income. Empirics suggest there are more ways to fail than to succeed in that regard, in particular when it concerns the stock market. So my first concern would not be the questionable utility to society as a whole. Frankly, if I would think day trading, or playing poker or finding Trump type anomalies in betting quotas or whatever was a viable option for me to earn an income, i´d probably do it. The odds are sure better for someone with a computer science degree and good health to pull something in that regard than for me, but they still look rather bad. Either way, 100k-high tax rate is still above the money adds significantly to life satisfaction level, so that is unlikely to be a pure financial choice.

  11. Ikon, set him a conundrum.

    How much capital can he raisenagainst a utility to buy out, then return to public ownership. In other words bain capital, kkr, the millionaire factory, but with a quiggin / Ikon outcome. He has 10 yrs only. Ie 2 election cycles + a bit. Aged care, transport, energy, education. Doable and in 15yrs he’d be a shoe in for politics.

    So like NN Taleb and many others ” I made astronomical amounts” – what to do with it then. For good. Make as much as you like, just return 90% to the commons.

  12. The social, political and many (greater sexism, racism, homophobia, xenophobia,) consequences of hegemonic masculinity. You? Any women agree?

    “Traditional stereotypes about masculinity may help explain support for Trump

    …” suggest that while American society seems to be ready for a female president, an active rejection of hegemonic masculinity may need to happen first. [ I agree ]

    ” This was true for women and men, white and non-white participants, Democrats and Republicans, and across level of education.

    “Additionally, we found that stronger endorsement of hegemonic masculinity was related to greater sexism, racism, homophobia, xenophobia, and Islamophobia,” Vescio said. “But, hegemonic masculinity continued to predict support for Trump even when controlling for these prejudices.”

    Theresa K. Vescio el al., “Hegemonic masculinity predicts 2016 and 2020 voting and candidate evaluations,” PNAS (2020).

  13. Comments are off for the next post on the vaccination rollout, so here.
    Back here in lackadaisical guitar- strumming Andalusia, the regional government issued a 40-page rollout plan in December, before the first vaccine was approved. It’s not pe

  14. . groups not registered with the national health service, including me. The first rule in disaster response is that any plan is better than none, as adaptation is always quicker than starting from scratch.

  15. Couldn’t find a comment sections for the Covid thingie, in my dotage.

    At this moment, it is a reminder of something everyone just about realised, that another outbreak of something nasty was inevitable, but because the other nasties were controlled when they broke out at different times over the last generation, complacency had set in, a bit like what happened with the bushfires last year, or WW2.

    I was thinking that while numbers here seemed under control, that we would have a couple of months to watch what happened with other places forced to move straight into vaccination programs.

    Two thing have happened. The thing mutated and numbers here, including those with the new, more contagious strain, arriving back from overseas, seemed refire a sense of urgency that precludes a more studied approach, the discomfort here maybe obviating the window of observational opportunity we might have had a month ago..

  16. The Israelis do one interesting thing, in their eccentric programme of getting the rollout right (but not for Palestnians). CNN reported on 2 January that at the end of the working day, Israeli clinics offer unused shots to random people queuing in the street, regardless of their priority. This saves throwing away thawed and opened vials of vaccine – these are sure to exist as the Pfizer vaccine has a very demanding ccld chain.

  17. I hope we all support “Coalition S” – S for shock to the scientific publishing money wall. I am one of “an “astonishing” 28% were general users” and it annoys me intensely when I am unable to access more than the abstract. And am accused of being a poor researcher or of not reading the full paper. Yes to Coalition S.

    15 min read.

    “A new mandate highlights costs, benefits of making all scientific articles free to read

    “The group, which calls itself Coalition S, has fallen short of its initial aspiration to catalyze a truly international movement, however. Officials in three top producers of scientific papers—China, India, and the United States—have expressed general support for open access, but have not signed on to Plan S. Its mandate for immediate open access will apply to authors who produced only about 6% of the world’s papers in 2017, according to anestimate by the Clarivate analytics firm, publisher of the Web of Science database.

    Still, there’s reason to think Coalition S will make an outsize impact, says Johan Rooryck, Coalition S’s executive director and a linguist at Leiden University. In 2017, 35% of papers published in Nature and 31% of those in Science cited at least one coalition member as a funding source. “The people who get [Coalition S] funding are very prominent scientists who put out very visible papers,” Rooryck says. “We punch above our weight.”

    “These nonscholarly mentions buttress reports that open access enables a broader audience, beyond the core scientific community, to read research findings. In November 2020, Springer Nature and partners released findings from a survey of 6000 visitors to its websites. They reported that an “astonishing” 28% were general users, including patients, teachers, and lawyers. Another 15% worked in industry or medical jobs that required them to read but not publish research.

    “Even for faculty members who can read subscription-based journals through their institution’s libraries, open access could allow quicker access to articles in journals to which the institution doesn’t subscribe. Some 57% of academics surveyed said they “almost always” or “frequently” had trouble accessing the full content of Springer Nature’s articles. “…

    As you will be able to ‘pay” to have your research hosted, distributed and indexed etc by major journals, I still see a few teething problems and potential fee hikes. “Plan S aligned transformative” Elsiver??? Just let googl index the lot – then we have more public interest to rein in googl. And tthen no “transformative” paywalls sort of open if you pay walls.
    “160 Elsevier journals become Plan S aligned Transformative Journals

  18. Baked into $210Bn investment “shows yearly emissions rising 17% by 2025,”.

    “Exxon’s Plan for Surging Carbon Emissions Revealed in Leaked Documents

    “Internal projections from one of world’s largest oil producers show an increase in its enormous contribution to global warming

    “Exxon’s own assessment of its $210 billion investment strategy shows yearly emissions rising 17% by 2025, according to internal projections.”

  19. One thing we can all do for ending parasitic IP rents in scientific publishing is complain. The only field in which I am likely to cite a journal article is renewable energy. A depressing number of good scientists see nothing wrong in publishing in Elsevier’s paywalled journal Joule. I try to call this out. So can you. Conversely, publication in open access should be praised.

  20. With new COVID-19 infections, especially in N.S.W. and Victoria, and new highly infectious strains entering Australia, we are seeing that our ring-fencing and quarantine measures are NOT nearly stringent enough. There are too many exemptions for out-going travel and incoming travel across Australia’s international borders. We will have to be a lot tougher or many, many more people will die. We will end up looking like Britain and indeed we are teetering on the brink of heading that way already.

    The special pleading for all sorts of exemptions for outgoing and incoming travel has to be rejected. Nobody, except diplomatic, consular and military staff, and essential air crews and ship crews mainly for goods trading, should be permitted to voluntarily leave Australia for ANY reason IF they intend or expect to come back in the next 5 years. You go, you stay gone essentially, with no guarantee that you can come back for 5 years. People overseas at the start of this pandemic should still be permitted to come home IF they intend to stay here for at least 5 years. This refers to people with Australian citizenship. Persons without Australian citizenship, except those in an accepted “travel bubble” (like New Zealand) should NOT be permitted to come to Australia at all. Things look so dire now that pleading for family reunions should also be rejected.

    We need to greatly upgrade our ring-fencing and quarantine measures and REDUCE peoples’ expectations and demands for travel, especially inter-state and inter-nationally. The Australian States should be permanently ring-fenced for 1 year from each other, to be reviewed on an annual basis and not before. Local and regional ring-fencing in states should be outbreak relative. Quarantine stations need to be built outside major population centers and staffed by state-employed professionals and NO private contractors. We need to rapidly ramp up and transition to this. Quarantine must be a form of enlightened temporary detention with the rulings on entry and release made by medical and epidemiological professionals and subject to legal tribunal inspections and appeals. The guards must work under the direction of medical staff, police and judiciary, regulations and orders.

    We will have to become this organized and stringent or we will certainly have a pandemic catastrophe on our hands like the USA and UK. All this special pleading for exemptions MUST be resisted or many, many more people will die. To use one example, NOBODY has a right to come in to this country to visit a dying relative IF that visit could likely result in several or more deaths of other people related or unrelated to them. To pressure to do so is maybe understandably emotively. However, such moral and emotional “blackmail” needs to be strongly resisted, at least until we have the ring-fencing and quarantine measures, mentioned above, fully in place.

    For most of human history people could NOT just get on a plane and travel around the world in 12 to 24 hours for good reasons or frivolous reasons. Now, we have entered a period in history where this can again be seen to be the case if the case is assessed objectively for the greater good of the greater number. I remain astonished and highly concerned that this level of realism, self-denial and community care as opposed to emotionalism and selfish concerns seems to be impossible for the majority of indulged Westerners with their highly inflated expectations. Get real and get a little more self-denying or expect a lot more deaths including many among you family, friends and acquaintanceship circles. Which do we want to choose?

  21. Dem senate. Unless Rep voters mailed in ballots!

    Georgia Senate runoff

    UPDATED JAN. 5, 2021, 7:59PM EST

    U.S. Senate

    J. Ossoff Dem.
    460,033 – 51.8%
    D. Perdue*Rep.
    428,577 – 48.2%

    21% of expected votes counted

    U.S. Senate special election

    R. WarnockDem.
    462,401 – 52.0%
    K. Loeffler*Rep.
    426,165 – 48.0%

    21% of expected votes counted

  22. Line dropped from last comment. Don’t trust polls or early voting results. Fun to watch tho.

    James W – ” I try to call this out. So can you. Conversely, publication in open access should be praised.”

    Seems a dumb question, but what is the best way to complan or call for profit publishers out?

  23. JQ will Prop 22 get a mention in TECOTP? If not – New Book? The Economic Consequences of Greed or How Late Stage Capitalism uses Prop 22 to Gig-Over Labour.
    (Australia doesn’t even need prop 22 to do it. Qantas listening?)

    “Kamala Harris’s brother-in-law Tony West is Uber’s head lawyer. If he isn’t the sole architect of Prop 22, he was certainly part of the design team. He’s been put forward as a potential Biden Attorney General.”

    “Pavilions replacing union workers with “gig workers” 

    …” The private-equity-backed grocery titan Albertsons (Vons, Pavilions) will fire its unionized delivery drivers (“essential workers”) by month’s end and replace them with gig workers.

    “Like their unionized predecessors, these workers will risk fatal covid to keep us from starving. Unlike unionized workers, they will not be entitled to adequate PPE, sick leave, disability benefits, or enough take-home wages to feed their families – even as they feed ours.

    “Major costs for Albertson’s – vehicles, fuel, insurance – will now be borne by their workforce.

    “This is the start. It only took nine weeks.

    “This is coming for your job. Every major employer in California is figuring out how to do an Albertson’s on its employees.

    “And the gig companies – overflowing with investor cash and desperate to turn a profit – are working with Chambers of Commerce, the GOP, and corporatist Dems, to introduce versions of Prop 22 in every state in the union.

    “They’ll have friends in the White House. Kamala Harris’s brother-in-law Tony West is Uber’s head lawyer. If he isn’t the sole architect of Prop 22, he was certainly part of the design team. He’s been put forward as a potential Biden Attorney General.

    “If you want to tell Albertsons what you think of their labor practices, here’s the number: 877–723–3929.”

  24. Human civilization is the caribou. Climate change is the bear: This is relentless and remorseless. Warning, natural predatory behavior unedited, albeit at a distance.

  25. KT2:I thought I was clear. “John and Joan Smith found (paywalled article in Joule, black mark) that A, while Dogsbody from ANU (open access article here, gold star) that B …” Not much, but it helps create a norm.

  26. What is happening in Washington at the moment is one possible end point for the kind of politics that our own Liberal -National coalition is happy to engage in .Its a long process ,Trump is only a symptom. That kind of politics needs to be vigorously called out every time .Our media is negligent ,the ABC has been nobbled and are afraid their funding will be cut more. Time for them to stop pussy footing around.

  27. We’ve seen, this morning Australian time, the Trumpian Fascists temporarily take over Capitol Hill. They prevented the completion of the ceremonial counting of the Presidential election. From the ABC Australia:


    “Donald Trump held a rally in Washington DC, urging Vice-President Mike Pence to overturn the election result.

    Congress began a joint session, with Mike Pence presiding, to count the electoral college votes.

    After Trump’s rally finished, the crowd left and some supporters stormed the US Capitol Building, which was placed in lockdown.

    Rioters breached the US Capitol Building and the the US House of Representatives and Senate were evacuated. Congressmen and women were taken to secure locations.

    There was an armed standoff outside the House of Representatives. Rioters breached the US Senate chamber and posed for photos.

    One woman was shot in the chest on the grounds of the US Capitol and taken to hospital in the critical condition.

    President-elect Joe Biden spoke from Delaware, called the events an ‘insurrection’ and demanded President Donald Trump call off the ‘siege’.

    A short time later, Donald Trump released a video on Twitter telling the rioters to ‘go home’, but repeated his unfounded claims about electoral fraud.”

    End Quote.

    A number of thoughts occur to me. The right-wing insurrectionists were white people, hence there was only one casualty. If they had been left-wiing insurrectionists and/or black or latino people there would, in all likelihood, have been hundreds of people killed. The insurrectionists have been treated with kid gloves. While it is good that the fascist and racist insurrectionists are being seen off (at least so far), the whole series of events, including those leading up to this, indicate something far more profoundly wrong with the USA.

    The USA is not a full democracy. It is a partial democracy by and for capitalist privilege, white privilege and male privilege. It’s a democracy created to meet the interests of the white oligarchs. They started out being the Whig owners of land and slaves in the new world. They rebelled against the British monarchy but only to secure their own interests. Their modern equivalents have become owners of corporations, banks, land and other assets. Their constitution, in operation, really guarantees the rights of rich, white people, not the rights of all the people.

    Their first revolution was against the British monarchy. Their second revolution was that of the northern industrial millionaires against the southern land-owning, slave-owning “aristocrats”. The Americans need a third people’s revolution to further their progress. I give it little chance of happening and even less chance of happening peacefully.

    Biden’s speech was revealing at a number of points. Biden is preferable to Trump but he is still the choice of the white oligarchs. He will still promote their interest over all else and everyone else. He refers to “mobs”. In the USA, “mobs” is a dog-whistle with long historical roots. “Mob rule” is a dog whistle against full democracy with all enfranchised persons having a fair stake and a fair say in the running of the country, including (sarcastically speaking) all those annoying Black people, Latino people and basic wage Workers. It’s not only right-wing populist mobs that the oligarchs want to stop. It’s also the majority of the people who would be designated mobs if they ever demanded true democratic and economic equality.

    Here endeth my rave for the moment.

  28. At least a former trump staffer calls it for what it is: “Pure insanity and disgusting” & “domestic terrorists”…

    Reince Priebus

    “Many of these folks are nothing but domestic terrorists. And many are criminals and trouble makers all acting in a manner opposite of patriotism. These violent people have no respect for democracy. Pure insanity and disgusting.”

  29. Another bite at the cherry. We also have to remember that American democracy, as limited and imperfect as it is, has not fallen yet. On the other hand, Russia and China have never achieved anything that could be called even a limited and imperfect form of democracy. Indeed, with Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, their systems doubled down on authoritarian, dictatorship and the cult of personality. I say this as a democratic socialist. Democratic socialists have to call out dictatorship on both sides of the left right fence.

    We have to hope that a movement the other way will take the USA away from oligarchy and its dangerous first cousin of populist, fascist dictatorship. The political spectrum is not a straight line. It is a circle. The extreme right wing and the extreme left wing go by different routes but meet up in dictatorship. Russia and China have succumbed almost totally to dictatorship. There is still some hope for us while the various imperfect but still existing democracies stand. This is we can face down Russia ad China and deal with climate change. I give us about 1% chance of success of being successful in both endeavors. One in a hundred is still better than zero.

  30. Mitch Mc Connell and Mike Pence ,having driven America to the edge of a cliff ,now stand there and refuse to jump off with their lame duck leader .I suppose they expect credit for that and think of themselves as champions of democracy .Tensions within the Republican party will be very high now ,Trump just lost them senate control. Even with mishandled Covid and a buffoon president they were hard to defeat. Biden needs to take this chance and do something real or there will be a competent authoritarian someday.

  31. To riff on and expand something George Dubya said (while leaving out his gratuitous word “patriotic”).

    (1) It is the responsibility of every citizen to support the rule of law.
    (2) It is the responsibility of the rule of law to support every citizen.

    It is this second proposition which George Dubya failed to voice. It is this second proposition which American limited democracy fails to put into operation. Government of the elites, by the elites and for the elites is not good enough. It is not genuine democracy. It is oligarchy with soft pretensions to democracy. Of course, Trump’s fascist insurrectionists, Trump himself and his enablers all have to be stopped and held accountable.

    At the same time, going back to corporate oligarchic rule is not going to be good enough to save the USA or world. The USA needs a massive physical infrastructure rebuild and massive social infrastructure rebuild. Without those it will certainly collapse. This rebuild will necessarily entail great transfers of wealth and power from the rich to the middle classes and the poor and from the parasitic financial elites to the levels of genuinely productive physical, social and intellectual work. Again, without this the USA will certainly collapse into a disastrous mess nation-destroying and likely world-destroying mess.

    This the final watershed of history leading to democratic socialism or totalitarianism or anarchic barbarism. It is also the watershed leading to action on climate change or the total collapse of civilization and the extinction of homo sapiens. We will know within months to a few years most likely whether we can hope to survive or not.

  32. IKO “We need to greatly upgrade our ring-fencing and quarantine measures and REDUCE peoples’ expectations and demands for travel, especially inter-state and inter-nationally.”
    Very poor and consequential economic and health choice to do otherwise.
    A QLD quarantine hotel worker taking covid (strain to be determined) into the community (with unknown forward infection at this stage) it is clear that Australia’s border quarantine is inadequate. Multiply by growing infection overseas and especially new more infective strains……..

    Need to minimise numbers of people entering and improve quarantine of each greatly.

    Commonwealth/States should publish numbers entering and complete protocols- type of masks (fit tested n95 I hope for cleaners) other PPE, ventilation separation of local workers from travellers on quarantine vehicles, (NZ has plastic partitions), and requiring similar for airline crew. These should be compared with Taiwan, NZ, Vietnam etc.
    Use isolated facilities and also consider quarantining/distancing workers from community.

  33. Interesting proposition from KT2 re likely direction of Bidenism.

    But then, we all knew this was probably the way it would go…botoxed Trumpism.

  34. Why doesnt Australia demand a World Health Organisation investigation into how UK bungling unleashed the new more dangerous Covid variant on the world ? Reparations might be in order. Hopefully the WHO Covid investigation which will ,and was always going to ,happen will look into this.

  35. Today will see a big red dot added to this US map. A blight on the US now for 200+ yrs.

    Next update from “Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED)” is 11th Jan 2021. Data and research linked at:

    “With the number of new COVID-19 cases surging across the US, pandemic-related demonstrations have doubled. ACLED Director of Research & Innovation Dr. Roudabeh Kishi examines how the worsening health crisis has led to a shift in protest patterns around the country. This infographic is part of our special CDT Spotlight series. Data on the US are made available through the US Crisis Monitor, a joint project with the Bridging Divides Initiative at Princeton University.×2048.png

    When authorities have engaged demonstrations associated with BLM, they have used force — such as firing less-lethal weapons like tear gas, rubber bullets, and pepper spray or beating demonstrators with batons — more than 51% of the time, compared to only 34% for right-wing demonstrations (see graph below).(10)

    I sent this to my super politically skeptical friend. This was the reply…
    ” ACLED is financed by the (Deep) State Department. Hmm. 
    I don’t like and don’t trust the left or the right of American politics. It’s quite simply a two headed snake.”

    I replied “where do I find this data without any bias or affiliations”.

    Any clues jq-bloggers?

  36. Ikon
    “ndeed, with Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, their systems doubled down on authoritarian, dictatorship and the cult of personality”
    What do you base that conclusion on?

  37. well it looks like there is a Chinese virus an American virus and a British virus, all covid.

    when this contagion was first taken seriously in Australia, the findings of the Spanish Flu Royal Commission were hauled out of the archives.

    a century from the findings of that commission it showed,in Australia, lockdown was the go.
    it is working. (don’t whinge, look around at the rest of the world)

    the economic damage and health care facilities of hard lockdown regions are in a much less mess than in the regions of stop/start governance.

    so China carping about being picked on notwithstanding, a world commission to do what the Spanish Flu commission did,would at least show the many and various ways of how not to manage a pandemic.
    sveeedn?,herrd immmunity? erm no.


    tell the offspring that a portfolio of skills will get him through hard times better than a portfolio of shares.

    (unless of course he is one of the (what is it 19 or 20?) small group of private individuals who own half the worlds assets)

  38. May,

    Which skills? Adding numbers? Reading texts? Operating levers and buttons? Or learning to hunt and gather? Learning to use guns or the bow and arrow? None of us can hunt and gather. Even if we could, the land could only support 1/100th or less of us. Maybe only 1/1,000th of us after the temperature goes up a few degrees. My point being that the future is so uncertain we can’t possibly predict what skills we might need. Anyway, unless we are under 40 and in perfect health we can forget it. We ain’t gunna last long.

  39. That mob didn’t reveal anything substantial new. Maybe it did even help some people to emotionally distance themselves from Trump. Which is to say that Trump show was as bad before as it is now.

  40. As an aside:The delegates really should wear kn95 masks, not just those everyday masks when they are cramped like that. Also, Pence, ugh…. well you sure do shift the overtone window by showing up with no mask at all in such a cramped place.

  41. hix, imo they should wear an n95, and a surgical fibre mask over the n95 mask. Better both ways.

    May. Relatively a book length comment! And good advice “(don’t whinge, look around at the rest of the world)”

    Ikon – what skills in the 21C may be an interesting thread.

    James W. Thanks and complaint registered.

  42. KT2: I am pretty new here, but … it is refreshing to see someone else who’s unhappy about prop 22. (Aside: strangely, out of the entire internet, there are very few places where one feels complaining about Cali politics is worthwhile. It’s weird. I don’t do the moshpits of actual newspapers.)

    Anyhoo … I am hoping (but, not expecting) the Legislature will go ahead and muster the 7/8ths or whatever, and just get rid of it. Just throw it out entirely. A lot of people voted for it by accident anyway.

    The California Democratic Party is way too neolib to ever do it … but it’s a fun daydream. (I am not sure they could get enough Reeps, either … but then our GOP is in such straits, I still think it would be worth a try.)

    In the alternative, and this is maybe nutty … but I wonder if having that 7/8ths provision is entirely legal. I could imagine one or two strong state and maybe federal constitutional arguments against it. And I would love to see them have to spend their money defending it.

  43. Guess who penned this…
    (JQ, several went through UQ Economics. They must not have received their copies of Zombie Economics & Ein2L.)

    “Our hearts beat for the best of liberalism: a society that values individual freedom and an open economy, where everyone – whether you’re a rural shop owner, a startup entrepreneur or a single parent aspiring to give your child the best start in life – gets an equal opportunity to live well and contribute with their skills, hearts, hands and minds.”

    ● We are pro-market.

    [A nest of nationals, and;]
    – Richard Holden [weird or inside the tent??? Richard – care to comment?]
    – Robert Hill
    – Christopher Pyne
    – Michael Photios
    – Adam Spencer [why Adam?]
    – Bruce Baird
    – Wendy Machin
    – Adrian Piccoli
    – And many more from Georgetown to Oxford, Deloitte to a nationals nurse candidate.

    …”However, it would be foolish to take our prosperity for granted. In recent years our economy has been likened to a twin engine aircraft, with one engine the property boom and the other engine the mining boom. Those two engines cannot sustain our quality of life indefinitely and, in fact, cracks have already begun to appear.

    “On measures of economic complexity, a key indicator for the development of new industries, Australia holds the same rating as Angola. “…

    Blueprint Institute Pre-Budget Panel: How to Budget in a Recession
    – Steven Hamilton — Chief Economist, Blueprint Institute
    – Nicki Hutley — Partner, Deloitte Access Economics
    – Judith Sloan — Contributing Economics Editor, The Australian
    – Amanda Vanstone — Cabinet Minister in the Howard Government
    – Richard Holden — Professor of Economics, UNSW Business School

    Blueprint Institute are our latest incarnation of a ‘liberalism’ thinktank – actually it looks more like a lobby-liberalism-ist report pusher and a ‘never has a stranded asset not been compensated by the public’ private interest gladhanders to me.

    I now know of the Blueprint Institute because they are heavyweights who get media and political agency…
    …”A new Coal-Generation Phasedown Mechanism

    “We outline a market-based mechanism to achieve just that in a report published by the Blueprint Institute, an Australian think tank established last year to promote rational, pragmatic policy proposals.”

    Adam Bandt has referenced Blueprint to show even this group think coal needs to be retired faster than planned.

    New Daily says: “The first extreme is expensive – Blueprint estimates it would cost taxpayers more than $10 billion – but the second would be met with fierce resistance from industry.”…

    PV Mag says; …“A zero-emissions electricity sector and a thriving coal export industry are perfectly compatible,” says the pragmatic report — at least until world markets demand zero-emissions products and materials, including steel. “…

    And here is macrobusiness re Blueprint Institute: “Rebel LNP think tank demands zero carbon”

    “Lordy, are there a few brain cells left in the LNP? From Blueprint, a young liberal think tank aligned with Chris Pyne and Robert Hill: …”…
    “Indeed, this material is so out of step with the Morrison Government’s Gas Unplan, Gas Unreservation and Morrison’s power base in QLD that should really be seen as nothing more than virtue signaling.

    “The full report is here if you need to feel sick.”

    And ironically, they say they are forward thinkers – producing blueprints. Says it all.

    Eternal vigilance is needed eternally it seems. Sa la vie.

  44. For example. and apologies for my cr*ppy memory, but – there is a legal doctrine which says that it’s un-constitutional to pass a law which burdens a minority group from making otherwise legal changes. (Or at least, there was such a doctrine being fought over. I don’t recall the result.) Perhaps some such argument could be made in the context of a “citizen” (corporation) based prop, vis-a-vis the legislature. It may be a long shot, but otoh, there are some of these doctrines around … they are way in the weeds though. We need a professor here.

    Gosh I would enjoy watching such a food fight.

  45. Unfortunately the general mainstream attitude of shock and surprise in response to events in Washington yesterday lets longtime Trump enablers and supporters off the hook too easily .They should all be held responsible for this ,they cannot feign ignorance .Only when it blows up in their faces in a visually spectacular way with 2 weeks left do some of them see it for what it is ? Come on . They were always happy to pay any price or take any risk to get their tax cuts and deregulation .Racist enablers are themselves branded racists in my book.

  46. N, yes, 7/8ths for things you don’t want to change but 50.1 to 49.9% is acceptable for Brexit & general elections. Weird. But a feature not a bug to private interests.

    Nic Gruen pushes for:
    “Gruen: detox democracy through representation by random selection
    …”Sortition or the selection of citizens at random from the citizenry as in the Athenian boule and was far more common.”…

    I don’t have the answer but I am sure, like carbon targets decades out, we need to reform democracy, economics, finance, govt etc with ‘2+ generations’ plans -20 to 50 yrs – to allow for education and acceptance. Not 4yr polarization and tinkering.

    Any support & suggestions to strengthen democracy welcome.

  47. KT2,

    (1) Frugality and restraint in all consumption activities.
    (2) Tolerance, charity, compassion and being generally helpful.
    (3) Finding an activity you are good at and which helps you, your family and other people.
    (4) Numeracy.
    (5) Literacy.
    (6) Scientific literacy.
    (7) Cross-cultural and comparative understandings.
    (8) Understanding the difference between unwarranted belief and knowledge to degrees of certainty.
    (9) Consequentialist moral intelligence. (Actions have consequences.)
    (10) Enlightened advocacy and enlightened political activity.

    People will note that I make no overt recommendations for economic skills. Economics is a fourth order concern behind democratic socialist principles, moral philosophy principles and impact science principles.

  48. Ikon, thanks. Those 10 are just about my top ten for my parenting too.

    JQ may put economics as second order?

    And 7, 8,9 &10 came home to roost yesterday as a teaching moment.. Is the US a ‘culture’?

  49. Missed this one. A consequence of the pandemic as it was published on 6 February 2020 at 4:29am

    Keen, Nordhaus/ Tol, Stern/ Grantham Research Institute, Nicki Hutley – “Anyone who says a 4°C [rise] is not going to have an impact is quite frankly drinking something weird,” Ms Hutley exclaims”, Mohaddes, Quiggin

    “Are economists globally understating or overstating the cost of climate change?

    “Nicki Hutley: costs of climate change will be ‘astronomical’

    “Deloitte Access Economics partner Nicki Hutley says there are all sorts of technological options available to help reduce emissions, but none of that contradicts the fact that if we get to a 4°C rise in global average temperatures there would be huge economic costs.

    “Deloitte Access Economics partner Nicki Hutley says if we get to a 4°C rise in average temperatures there will be huge economic costs.(Supplied: Deloitte)

    “Anyone who says a 4°C [rise] is not going to have an impact is quite frankly drinking something weird,” Ms Hutley exclaims.

    “The Australian Business Roundtable for Disaster Resilience and Safer Communities — a group made up of community and business leaders who are working towards ensuring Australia becomes more equipped for extreme weather events — has considered the economic damage of natural disasters across states and territories.

    “In a 2017 report, it found that the total economic cost of natural disasters in the 10 years to 2016 averaged $18.2 billion per year, equivalent to 1.2 per cent of average gross domestic product (GDP) over the same period.

    “It said this was expected to reach $39.3 billion per year on average by 2050 (in present value terms), even without considering the impact of climate change (and the latest bushfires are likely to hugely inflate those estimates).

    “The report noted that “while the science has advanced, it remains difficult for experts to model the timing, location and intensity of disaster events in response to climate variability and change”, and therefore the $39.3 billion estimate was conservative.

    “This [climate change] is so multidimensional, and the costs are astronomical,” Ms Hutley says.

    “She also points out that the IPCC itself has called on international leaders to limit global warming below or close to 1.5°C, which would require the world to cut net emissions by about half by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050.

    “The idea is that we avoid getting to four degrees,” she said.

    “John Quiggin: Economists don’t look beyond tipping points

    “John Quiggin, an Australian Laureate Fellow in Economics at the University of Queensland, says the problem with economic models is how they treat the worst-case scenarios.

    “John Quiggin, from the University of Queensland, said the problem with economic models is how they treat the worst-case scenarios.(Supplied: John Quiggin)

    “A lot of attention has been paid to the lower levels of [global] warming because they are easier to evaluate,” he observes.

    “Once you get past tipping points, we don’t really have a good handle on what may happen.”

    “He estimates the economic cost of the latest Australian bushfires alone could hit about $100 billion.”…

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