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

33 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. Now that JobKeeper is terminated and JobSeeker is at its lower benefit rate, the arguments are raging about what will happen to official unemployment figures. Apart from acknowledging a “temporary rise” in the unemployment rate, Federal Treasury is pushing the myth that, in the long term, unemployment will fall. This relies on a theoretical premise that increasing labour mobility is the key to reducing the number of people registered as unemployed. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is gliding this myth by saying that “..continuing operation of the program would hamper labour mobility and people moving to more productive roles in the labour market” (AFR page 5 29-03-2021). The work done by Treasury on job support programs seems to perpetuate this myth. But in practice where is there empirical evidence to support this view.
    With the end of JobKeeper in Australia, the newly unemployed in industries still affected by the pandemic (Tourism, Higher Education, Migration) must endure alienation, shrinking social contact and scaring. To suggest, as the Treasurer seems to be doing, that all unemployed persons have to do is leave the industry that they are most likely to receive remuneration matching their qualifications seems naive. It is not a simply matter of occupational mobility. One case may illustrate my point. If a worker in the tourism industry has spent the last ten years building up a network of contacts in that industry, to suggest that such a worker can simply go get a comparably remunerated job in another industry ignores certain realities. But to go further and claim that such a newly unemployed person can relocate to a “more productive role” (Treasury quote in AFR page 5; 29th March, 2021) is illogical. How can someone who is highly experienced in one industry so easily move to a “more productive role” in another industry? If the Treasurer is relying on job retraining, then he will have to put up with a considerable time lag. And if job retraining is focused mainly on young workers, then the number of older redundant job seekers must surely rise in the short term..

  2. Of course they can move Gregory! 😉 You know, when Qld. (or any state) is a made red COVID-19 alert area again, the workers can just move to another state. What’s that I hear you say? Red alert means they can’t move to another state? So what? Let’s not let facts spoil a good neoliberal myth. I mean, people (working people that is) aren’t really people at all. They don’t have connections, family, friends, support networks, homes, flats, accommodation! Noooo! Heck no! They can just float like dandelion seeds to any corner of the nation, at the slightest puff of wind from a neoliberal pollies lips.

  3. Anecdatum: “China has successfully increased access to electricity with per capita demand now above the UK and Italy.” (

    There are some structural factors here – China is the world’s largest smelter of aluminium, which is negligible in the UK and Italy. But basically, it’s a safe bet that electricity demand in China won’t keep on rising, but will plateau as has happened all over the OECD. Europe:,_EU-27,_2000-2018_(GWh).png

    Increased demand for air-conditioning and electric vehicles will be offset by the steady efficiency gains in lighting, heat pumps, variable-speed motors, and better controls.
    When the slowdown happens – when not if – the coal plants will be the ones with the falling capacity factors and growing losses, as in India.

    Mem: gasoline energy isn’t replaced one-for-one by electricity in vehicles but one-for-six (EV efficiency: ca. 85%; ICEV efficiency: ca. 15%) .

  4. Good old China eh? What a pity it is an authoritarian, expansionist power. China and Russia right now are falling over each other to provide support to the coup in Myanmar where the army is shooting civilians by the hundreds every day. The world has nothing to look forward to with totalitarian China in charge. The idea that capitalist trade and economic development lead to democracy has been proven a complete furphy [1].

    Indeed, the opposite has been proven true. Capitalism is uniquely suited to authoritarianism and dictatorship. In the West, this has taken the form of strong tendencies to oligarchic and corporate totalitarianism. The oligarchs rule our parliaments through their bought and suborned representatives. Each corporation is a totalitarian system ruled by a strict hierarchy of bosses. Neoliberal capitalism has proven to be the perfect tool for the dictators of China and Russia: the tool perfectly adapted to controlling the populace with oligarchic, corporate and party power. The totalitarian CCP, led by dictator-for-life, Xi Jinping, proceeds apace with its plan to dominate and rule the world. As long as democratic nations [2] continue to trade with totalitarianism, they feed totalitarianism, to their ultimate destruction.

    1. “A furphy is Australian slang for an erroneous or improbable story that is claimed to be factual. Furphies are supposedly ‘heard’ from reputable sources, sometimes secondhand or thirdhand, and widely believed until discounted.” – Wikipedia.

    2. All current “democratic” nations are only imperfectly democratic. True democracy is not possible under capitalism. This applies particularly to the USA which teetered on the brink of an auto coup and dicatatorship in 2020-2021 and will again in 2024-2025.

  5. Global human civilization will collapse this century. Some regional civilizations might survive. Humanity itself might survive but very likely will be extinct by 2100.

    We have already passed key climate tipping points for loss of;

    1, Arctic sea ice;
    2. Greenland ice sheet;
    3. Boreal forests;
    4. Permafrost;
    5. Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation;
    6. Amazon rainforest;
    7. Warm-water corals;
    8. West Antarctic Ice Sheet; and
    9. Parts of East Antarctica.

    Once a tipping point is passed, the system collapses or shifts into a radically new state. Once a tipping point is passed, that process is unstoppable by anything humans can do even with a global civilization and modern technology. Each natural system which tips or collapses has a knock-on or domino effect on the rest of the system or the system of systems. This will lead to a cascading collapse of all Holocence (or Anthropocene) biosphere systems.

    The modern human race has been weighed in the ecological balance and found wanting. The modern human race has been weighed in the moral consequentialist balance (in theory constructable by all fully self-reflective, intelligent lifeforms) and again found wanting. The collapse of civilization is physically inevitable and perhaps even morally merited. Survival or extinction per se are outside moral parameters but civilization (for such an unwise species as homo sapiens) is clearly a dead end. It takes us off our own fitness landscape in evolutionary terms.

  6. Pot. Kettle. Black.

    “Liberal MP Tim Wilson has accused Industry Super Australia of bullying and intimidating the Morrison government, through the launch of an advertising campaign rallying the government to “stop messing with super”.

    “Inside Tim Wilson’s campaign against super
    “You know: fine to have super,” he says. “But is it really a more important priority than home ownership? No, I don’t think it is.”

    “So far, Wilson’s super crusade is closely following the playbook of his campaign against changes to franking credits at the 2019 election. That campaign was criticised for politicising a parliamentary inquiry and taking questionable evidence, including submissions Wilson had helped write, but it was also seen as central to tipping the election in favour of the Coalition.

  7. KT2, Tim Wilson is gold. While not as consistent as the Betoota Advocate or The Shovel, he regularly outdoes them in sheer audacity.

  8. Gregory J. McKenzie: the neoliberal PoV is that peasants should be grateful for any work at all, and punished if they refuse. Liberals may not have workhouses any more, but they definitely distinguish the deserving poor (working for minimum wage or less) from the undeserving (not working at all). Something something arbeit macht frei.

    But I’m not going to say that your only value to the Liberal Party is as a worker. After all, you can vote for them too!

  9. Climate. Exxon wittingly broke it, so they should fix it. But are they just faking it again?

    23 Feb 2021 | 21:00 GMT
    Reversing Climate Change by Pulling Carbon Out of the Air
    A startup founded by two economists thinks direct air capture of carbon can be made cost-effective
    By Steven Cherry

    Graciela Chichilnisky … Well, first of all, I do have two Ph.D.s; I started pure mathematics at MIT. That was my first Ph.D. My second Ph.D. was in economics at UC Berkeley. So I do have the mathematics as well as the economics in my background. What we’re doing requires several forms of expertise. You said it; Global Thermostat has made a joint development agreement with Exxon and is working with Coca-Cola and is working now, with Siemens; is working with a company called HIF, which is in Chile.

    So, how does that work? As you probably know, Exxon Mobil is a multifaceted company. In addition to fossil fuels, they have a huge expertise in carbon capture technology, the old fashioned, I would say traditional, type. And by that I mean capture of CO2 from the fumes of power plants, for example.

    They have the resources and the know-how, and we are a small company and we want to expand our production. So they offered an opportunity for us to go with the high-level technology, the advanced company in the area of carbon capture in a more traditional way that are willing to experiment and they’re willing to advance commercially the removal of CO2 directly from the atmosphere.

    So that with them in our contract, we intend to build a one gigaton plant, that’s what we contracted to do, which means that we then we will scale up or technology. So every year it can eventually remove one billion—with a ‘b’ as in boy—tons of CO2 from the atmosphere every year. That’s the scale-up I’m talking about, and that is the main purpose of our partnership with Exxon Mobil.

    And if you think about it—you said it yourself—you want to know what the carbon budget really, roughly speaking, don’t forget that I worked in the Kyoto Protocol. And I created the carbon market of the Kyoto Protocols. So I know a lot about carbon budgets and how demanding they are and how far we are from what we need to do. We need to essentially remove 40 gigatons of CO2 every year from the atmosphere in order to reverse climate change. And what I’m telling you is that we these type of partnerships with companies like Exxon, we can do one gigaton—you’re at a shooting distance from that goal. And that’s why I a contract with Exxon is to scale up our technology to remove one gigaton of CO2 per year. And then if we had 40 of those plans, then we would be removing all the CO2 that humans need to remove from the atmosphere right now in order to reverse climate change…

    Some suspect claims in that article. And what are the numbers for energetic and resource inputs, and product output and demand, and any environmental pollution at large scale? In the article linked below other million tons per annum CO2 direct air capture tech is discussed, some already built, but for billions and tens of billions coming soon there’s only this one mentioned again:

    06 Jan 2021 | 16:00 GMT
    Carbon Engineering’s Tech Will Suck Carbon From the Sky
    It’s not enough to slash greenhouse gas emissions. Experts say we need direct-air capture of atmospheric carbon
    By Maria Gallucci

    …Global energy giants are also backing direct-air capture to undo some of the damage caused by their products and operations. In September, for instance, ExxonMobil expanded an agreement with Global Thermostat to help scale the startup’s technology. Global Thermostat’s machines are the size of a shipping container and capture CO2 using amine-based adsorbents on honeycombed ceramic cubes, akin to a car’s catalytic converter.

    Cofounder Peter Eisenberger, a professor of Earth and environmental science at Columbia University, says Global Thermostat’s goal is to remove billions of tons of carbon dioxide every year by licensing its technology to other firms. He believes the world will have to remove 50 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide over the next two decades to avoid catastrophic climate shifts. In 2021, the company will add three pilot projects, including a 2,000-metric-ton plant in Chile to produce synthetic fuels, as well as facilities in Latin America and the Middle East that will provide CO2 for bubbly beverages and water desalination, respectively…

    Global Thermostat

    Chichilnisky Graciela, Bal Peter (2020) Reversing Climate Change
    How Carbon Removals can Resolve Climate Change and Fix the Economy, World Scientific Publishing,
    You have access to this ebook
    Free Access

    ISBN: 978-981-4719-34-6 (hardcover) USD 108.00
    ISBN: 978-981-4719-35-3 (softcover) USD 48.00
    ISBN: 978-981-4719-37-7 (ebook) USD 38.00
    Also available at Amazon and Kobo

    Negative emissions technologies may not solve climate crisis
    Date: August 24, 2020
    Source: University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science
    Summary: Researchers used the Global Change Assessment Model to compare the effects of three negative emissions technologies on global food supply, water use and energy demand. The work looked at the role having direct air capture available would have on future climate scenarios.

    “Direct air capture can soften — but not eliminate — the sharpest tradeoffs resulting from land competition between farmland and land needed for new forests and bioenergy,” Fuhrman and Clarens wrote in a blog accompanying the release of the paper.

    Report on Greenhouse gas removal
    by Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering
    12 September 2018

  10. Xi Jinping has not declared himself, or been invested with he title of, dictator-for-life. What he did was bad enough; he got the CCP to remove the term limits introduced by Deng’s generation of leaders to ensure renewal of the oligarchy and stop any repetition of Mao’s personality cult. He’s opened the door to lifelong power, but has not gone through it. His resolute mediocrity (BRI, Hong Kong, Xinjiang, coal dithering …) has not enabled serious challenges, but neither has it created dazzling achievements that would grant him the imperial crown. The contradictions are still bubbling away behind the Great FIrewall under the surface of placid conformity. Putinism will collapse first, but I wouldn’t bet on Xi-ism reaching 2030.

  11. As 150k projected to lose jobs, and 5k businesses to go under in the short term – 6-12mths – what would be the extra cost to smooth out the “bumpy ride”?

    Not $15 – $44 an hr please.

    “If the Minimum Wage Had Increased as Much as Wall Street Bonuses Since 1985, It Would Be Worth $44 Today

    “The 2020 bonus pool for 182,100 securities industry employees could pay for more than 1 million jobs paying $15 per hour for a year.

    “During the Trump administration, regulators put the issue on a back burner as Republicans maneuvered to get rid of the Wall Street pay restrictions altogether. In 2017, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Financial CHOICE Act, which would’ve repealed most of the Dodd-Frank reform package, including the Wall Street pay provision. Due to Democratic opposition in the Senate, the Wall Street deregulation bill that was adopted was significantly scaled back and did not affect financial industry pay.”…

  12. 812 was a good year in Japan for data. Except:
    “Between 812–814 CE, a smallpox epidemic killed almost half of the Japanese population.[54]” Wikipedia History of Japan.

    “Flowering deviation (days)
    Hiroshima has earliest now at -16 days.*

    …”Since the year 812 people in Japan have recorded the first day in the year the Cherry Blossom was in full bloom in Kyoto. Based on this record you can see some of the local climate effects.

    “The dates are a local proxy on the impact of climate change ”

    * “Release of 2021 Cherry Blossom Forecast (9th forecast)
    March 25, 2021

    “Historical Series of Phenological data for Cherry Tree Flowering at Kyoto City
    (and March Mean Temperature Reconstructions)
    …”On this page, you can see the long series of phenological data of full flowering for cherry tree at Kyoto since 9th century.”…

    And Australia –  Australian Wine Future: A Wine Climate Atlas

    “This is a culmination, he says, of the fact that “over the past 20 years, we have seen the start date of vintages creep forward at about a day and a half per vintage, but more concerning is that the end of vintage dates have also advanced, but at a faster rate of two and a half days. The impact has been both earlier and quicker vintages.”

    The observations of those in the vines now have comprehensive scientific backing through this year’s publication by Wine Australia of Australia’s Wine Future: A Climate Atlas.

    “Transcript of the future climate and insights for the wine industry – new climate atlas webinar

    …” the recently released Australian Wine Future: A Wine Climate Atlas, which is a collaborative industry effort which showcases how Victoria’s wine region climates have changed and what is expected in coming decades.”…

  13. Moz, I would not vote for a Liberal Party candidate if they were the only candidate on the ballot paper. You cannot trust a Liberal politician! I have meet a few in my life and they are all the same : so wrapped up in themselves that they cannot have any empathy for the poor. They do not realize that there is no real distinction between “deserving poor” and “Workhouse poor”. Having lived in a poor family, and gone to school with boys from poor families, I can assert that there is only the “desperately poor”. If some knuckle under to the outrageous demands of liberal politicians – e.g., Robo debt; pointless job interviews – its because they have no support system to keep them alive.
    Desperation can be seen etched on the face of those who cannot get work!
    i have been there more than once. You lose faith in your own abilities, you are embarrassed when you can’t even but your best friend a cup of coffee, you go into a store urgently needing three basic food items but only able to pay for two of them, you walk to interviews because you cannot afford the public transport fares, your clothes wear out just as you do; and you see rejection in the eyes of everyone interviewing you for a job or even for a measly welfare benefit.
    Poverty is not a theory. it is not a political ideology football; Poverty is a reality for too many people. That is what the Liberals refuse to understand. No one wants to be poor. Anyone who even uses the term “deserving poor” simply betrays the fact that they have no idea of the lived experience of poverty.

  14. ” that’s a furphy ” .From Furphy water tank carts ,made in Shepparton ,the decorative cast end pieces are now collectable. These tanks were often used to provide drinking water to gatherings of various kinds ,WW1 ,goldfields ,public events of all kinds etc. People spent time around the Furphy socialising and inevitably gossiping and speculating.

  15. Breaking news: Russia has released a covid vaccine for animals, including mink, cats and dogs.

  16. The power of one in a financial system where leverage involves derivative securities.
    (and the flow-on effects in the financial sector. Risk weighted capital requirements on banks are no defence.)

    Compare the content of the above linked smh article with Finance texts used in universities and beyond. Two different worlds.

    The discrepancy between macro-economic notions of ‘money and finance’ (Keynes as well as Friedman) and what goes on in reality is bigger still.

  17. Somewhat doubtful even the rich would rally around all aspects of those swap games. What they are likely to support are the options to circumvent disclosure requirements. Whether most would be on board with those levels of hidden leverage seems doubtful. My not particular unique thesis would be that part of the problem in this particular case is the other way round – capital has no control over management in investment banking. Those companies already pulled enough questionable stunts when they were partnerships with personal liability of the partners. Now they just do whatever the hell they want. This is just not the kind of client you allow that kind of leverage if your own capital is on the line. Well, at least not until you self brainwashed with 100+ hour working weeks. Sad to see the little edge in the information flow of the more insiderish banks was enough again for them to lose almost nothing while the outsiders are down a couple of billions.

  18. ” [Some historians ] describe ancient Rome as being destroyed mainly by creditors using interest bearing debt to impoverish and disenfranchise the population .Barbarians always stood at the gates ,but only as societies weakened internally were there invasions successful .The invasions that ended the fading Roman empire were anticlimactic . In the end the only debts that emperor Hadrian could annul with his fiscal amnesty were Romes tax records, which he burned in 119 AD – tax debts owed to the palace not debts to the creditor oligarchy that had gained control of Romes land .”

    from ‘ …and forgive them their debts ‘ by M Hudson .2018

  19. Close to JQ’s home turf, researchers at QUT have invented a very ingenious floor-wax-plus-dessert-topping electrochemical process that produces hydrogen from seawater while simultaneously fixing dissolved CO2 in inert calcium carbonate: The hydrogen bubbles clear the chalk particles off the cheap stainless steel electrodes. A long way from commercialisation of course, but a great concept.

    BTW, the researchers are PhD candidate Olawale Oloye and Professor Anthony O’Mullane. Coming on the heels of the UNSW ammonia plasma reactor of Emma Lovell and Ali Jalili, bigots must be wondering what Aussie science is coming to. Micks! Blacks! Women! Arabs! A better place, actually.

  20. I’m not sure how the rest of Australia feels but just cant wait until everyone is vaccinated and we open up so the virus can come roaring in and we all catch it .Yes ,I really am looking forward to getting it. Freedom at last !

  21. That’s pretty right sunshine. AstraZeneca ” says vaccine (is) 76% effective in updated US trial data.” “Efficacy” refers to the results for how well a drug or vaccine works based on testing, while “effectiveness” refers to how well these products work in the real world, in a much larger group of people. So, the term for a drug trial should be “efficacy” not “effective”. Of course, the use of “effective” in a media report could be a reportage mistake. It’s hard to know. Also, from what I have gleaned, they now mean by “effective” that you won’t get relatively bad symptoms and/or die. They don’t mean you won’t catch it. They also don’t mean that you won’t still be contagious.

    There is no way, in my opinion, that 76% EFFICACY in a trial will ever equate to 76% effectiveness in the real world with continuing mutations and other problrmd. If it is 60% effective we will be lucky and some vaccinated people may well still be carriers. That is not enough to stop a pandemic outbreak so we should stay locked up anyway. It is a false promise (if it is made) that we can open up with or without other measures after the AstraZeneca program. Even that assumes that we will get all Australians vaccinated any time soon. Frankly, we won’t.

    “The government has fallen more than 3.3 million doses short of it’s target to deliver “at least… 4 million doses” by the end of March (later revised to early April).

    As of March 31 — more than five weeks into the vaccination campaign — some 670,400 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been delivered across Australia.
    Charting the spread of coronavirus

    Australia’s vaccination rollout has been plagued by problems, ranging from delays in international supply, local production and delivery both to and within Australia.” – ABC.

    The AstraZeneca vaccine frankly is problematic – inadequate effectiveness and some concerning safety issues now hovering over it. It is experimental and inadequately tested, like all COVID-19 vaccines at this stage. They have been rushed through, understandably of course. The safest course will be take it when it is offered to one’s cohort. It still appears to be a lot safer than the disease. But really, because globally we let this pandemic virus get out of control, we are now experimenting on the entire global population. There is a small but real possibility that things could yet go horribly wrong. I don’t to speculate too much.

    I suppose ultimately it probably doesn’t matter. Climate change is likely going to send humanity extinct this century anyway. Once we are dead it won’t matter how we went. I have no faith in the existence of supernatural being(s) that save humans or just sit around drinking mead. I also have no faith in science as marshaled by capitalism. The bad values of capitalism twist science to atrocious ends. I have no faith in the goodness or wisdom of humans in general either. But we must try to fight on and hope that natural processes of evolution and emergence (including maybe even scientific and knowledge emergence) might save a few people. You never know, it might just be possible.

  22. James, I tried to read the QUT press release. They seem unaware the world is either around or has passed peak cement production. Pandemic related construction stimulus may boost this year pas the previous peak of around 2013, but we’ll see.

  23. Mutant dangers: AstraZeneca vaccine doesn’t protect against South African COVID variant

    It is still too early to say for certain but it is beginning to look like the AstraZeneca vaccine will not provide fully adequate protection against the standard variant and will not protect significantly against one or some mutant variants. Longer term, this means initial vaccination by the first AstraZeneca will be insufficient to guarantee long term immunity or even long term safety . It also means repeated doses of the current AstraZeneca vaccine will be insufficient.

    The latest thinking is that a COVID-19 vaccine needs 80% effectiveness for herd immunity (if herd immunity is even feasible). AstraZeneca has a rubbery latest claim of 79% and many authorities doubt that number. It comes down to 10% or so for the South African variant. Naturally, that variant will be naturally selected for if we rely on the current AstraZeneca vaccine. Perhaps it can be re-engineered and updated. That would require another vaccine cycle of course (and likely another and another and another… You get the picture.

    I will get the AstraZeneca vaccine when told to by the Australian authorities. I will hope that it doesn’t harm me. It is very unlikely to. I will place little faith in the hope that it will actually substantially protect me. I will maintain social distancing indefinitely and avoid many venues as I do currently. That will be pretty easy because I am old and boring with almost no social circle outside family.

    But the wider community will be in trouble if people and the government think it will be “once and done” with the AstraZeneca shots (1 & 2) and that we can open up without national or international restrictions. If we do that we could end in a world of hurt.

    My personal, subjective opinion is that the AstraZeneca vaccine will fail us and its approach will fail to show long term promise. But I emphasize this part is not a scientific opinion, it’s just a hunch.

  24. We already know the AstraZeneca Vaccine did succeed beyond the wildest expectations we had a year ago. In marketing terms, it’s unfortunate some other vaccines did even better when it comes to protection from a mild corona infection. In practical terms, that part is almost irrelevant.

    The possible autoimmune reactions are super rare. So rare that it’s not even 100% sure they were caused by the vaccine. And since we now know better and better what to look for as well as which age/gender groups are at risk, a truly dramatic outcome becomes ever less likely. Dying by getting hit by lightning is more probable. Dying from corona is more likely in all age groups.

    As things stand in Germany, I will get my second dose with something else. Maybe that is a slightly better trade off for my age group considering we got a lot more people to vaccinate than AstraZeneca shots even in the lowest risk groups for autoimmune reactions. What really matters to me is that I got my first shot 3 weeks ago, which already makes my life a lot saver for myself and reduces the chance I will infect someone else.

    When the numbers are as bad as they are here, every week of protection matters. Trying to sit it out until you get the perceived Mercedes when you can get a great Toyota right now is just dumb while you live100km from civilization with no car, food running out and no public transport right now.

  25. That should read dying form Corona is a hell lot more likely in all age groups of course -_-. Not just more likely.

  26. As I said, I will get the AstraZeneca vaccine when the Australian authorities make it available to my demographic. Getting it earlier than that is not an option. The EU withheld AstraZeneca from export to Australia. The EU blocked a shipment of 250,000 AstraZeneca vaccines from leaving Italy for Australia using controversial export laws for the first time. Other exports of AstraZeneca have been blocked too, by France I think. There is also a general global shortage of vaccines to all nations which do not make their own or do not live in a bloc (like the E.U.) which makes its own.

    That’s all fair enough in my book. But it means Australia’s roll-out of the vaccine is delayed until we can ramp up our own production. This illustrates an issue which will become bigger as global civilization begins to collapse. Nations will block exports of crucial items if there is a shortage in their own nation. This will happen more and more. Nations will need to become more autarkically self-reliant. This will progressively cease to be a world where one can trust other nations in trade and exchange.

    The E.U. needs the vaccines more due to its totally incompetent performance at pandemic suppression via isolation and quarantining. Most of the world was incompetent at this except for a handful of nations. It is thanks to this rank and unforgivable incompetence (of neoliberal capitalist systems) that we now face a global pandemic disaster with multiple variants. This pandemic will take years to bring under control. In fact, it may never be brought under proper control.

    Was Australia competent at suppressing the virus or just plain lucky? It’s a bit of both. We were not super-competent but we muddled our way through with the assistance of distance from the rest of the world, seas right around the country (a sea moat), a hot climate and a spread-out way of life. Now, at the stage of vaccine rollout we are demonstrating a clear lack of competence. Our vaccine rollout is a shambles. Supply issues are paramount but there appear to be many other mix-ups as well.

    Overall, this pandemic crisis, along with the climate crisis and others, is demonstrating the severe inability of neoliberal capitalism to deal with system wide crises sparked by near approach to the limits to growth. For so long as we persist with this style of political economy we will keep destroying the biosphere as a livable place and civilization will keep collapsing. That’s the big picture.

  27. If the Australian government had any sense it would have donated its consignment of European to whichever region it would save the most lives. If it was developed country it could be in return for a promise of vaccine later. This would have…

    1. Generated goodwill.
    2. Reinforced norms of cooperation.
    3. Potentially saved many more lives by encouraging other countries to send vaccine to where it’s most needed.
    4. Improved the world economy.

    But now, instead, we got nothing.

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