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


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33 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. John
    I have found your articles very interesting over the years including 23/03/21 in the Canberra Times. I have some questions. First, my framework: I developed the view many decades ago that capitalist economies are the best way to organise production but they lead to extremes in distribution of wealth without government intervention eg USA. My problem is with interventions by governments that attempt to address such extremes by increasing real wages. To me, this reduces demand for labour and encourages substitution by automation which particularly affects low-skilled labour. I also suspect, and I have not seen any commentary on this, that it increases costs in economies in a way that increases inequality ie increasing minimum wages is like applying an additional indirect tax.
    So, my conclusion is that there probably should not be minimum wages or attempts to provide “secure work” but distribution of wealth should be addressed via the tax and welfare systems ie more tax on wealthy people and more welfare directed at those who really need it.
    I recognise Macron’s concern & that there is a risk that the wealthy will flee but I think this a risk that should be accepted in Australia. There are opportunities to tax very wealthy people more in Australia such as addressing the ridiculously generous superannuation tax concessions. There are taxation possibilities that do not strongly inhibit economic activity. (I sent my proposals re superannuation to the Henry tax review to you & you commented but they were ignored by that fighter against inequality, then Treasurer Wayne Swan.)
    I have not done enough research on UBI proposals but they seem attractive.
    Your comments are welcome.

  2. I am sad about the death of Carla Zampetti the fashion designer. I have always loved fashion and although I could not afford her clothes I thought she was a ‘class act’ one of many people who brought a bit of style and elegance to this insular country n the 60’s. She like myself was a migrant to this country The 60’s as we know brought a lot of change to mainly western culture and of course music. It was the time a good friend handed me a cheap guitar and said ‘you can sing, so you might be able to play this thing’. Well, how grateful I was to her because I still play and sing. I also loved fashion and nice clothes. There was a lot of style in the 60’s. I also did a fair bit of television in the 60’s into the 70’s when we had variety shows. I did Graham Kennedy, Bob Rogers and even Reg Lindsay’s ‘country and western Show’s’ and many in Adelaide. Wearing nice outfits were the thing and looking good was important. I would wear clothes from some of the small boutique shops helping with promoting their clothes. Good memories. . I do remember a time when a lot of nice clothes were made in this country and the designs were wonderful. Prue Acton was another local designer.. We made a lot of clothes a long time ago. I loved all my nice clothes I could buy and loved going through the smaller boutique shops looking for nice dresses etc. We have also been leaders in swim wear better than anywhere in the world. And a lot of beach wear was made in this country. I was only a typist and we were supposed to look good and martly dressed. It’s very hard to find affordable Australian made clothes snymore because of the cost I guess. Melbourne (a fashion centre) and even Adelaide were fashion centres but not so sure about Sydney. People like Zampatti brought a bit of style, design and class to a small rather insular country like Australia. Migration has brought a lot of good things to this wide brown land.

  3. Biden’s Jobs Plan includes a big swipe at tax havens. (Note: as Dan Nexon observes at LGM, it’s labelled as a “Jobs Plan” with a lot of infrastructure spending in it, not, as the GOP has it. an “Iinfrastructure Plan” with a lot of liberal social spending misleadingly thrown in.). The key change on this, from a professional tax site https://taxfoundation.org/joe-biden-tax-plan-2020:

    “- Doubles the tax rate on Global Intangible Low Tax Income (GILTI) earned by foreign subsidiaries of US firms from 10.5 percent to 21 percent.
    – In addition to doubling the tax rate assessed on GILTI, Biden proposes to assess GILTI on a country-by-country basis and eliminate GILTI’s exemption for deemed returns under 10 percent of qualified business asset investment (QBAI).”

    The most famous example of corporate tax evasion is Google’s now abandoned Irish scheme. It arranged for its massive European profits to be booked in Ireland, where it paid !!RC about 10% of profits in corporate tax, while having no employees in the country. The EU Commission levied a record €13 bn fine on Ireland for this unfair tax competition, but the ECJ eventually disallowed it https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EU_illegal_state_aid_case_against_Apple_in_Ireland . The US IRS was made of sterner stuff. As a liberal Silicon Valley company, Google did not enjoy Trump’s protection and his IRS eventually forced a change. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2020/jan/01/google-says-it-will-no-longer-use-double-irish-dutch-sandwich-tax-loophole. Still, we can be sure that hundreds of other companies are still using similar dodges.

    What happens next? Tax changes can pass the US Senate by simple majority though reconciliation, and going after “malefactors of great wealth ” is popular, so Biden probably get it through. Internationally two things seem likely. One, American companies with intangible profits like Google will have less incentive to hire expensive Jersey tax lawyers to set up such artificial schemes.Two, the Irish government will have an incentive to raise their own tax rate to the American 21%, – it makes no difference to the corporate taxpayer. It’s a step towards global tax harmonisation.

    How much further it goes depends on other big countries losing money to corporate tax evasion. The EU is split, as it includes two tax havens, Ireland and Luxembourg, and has close ties to a third , Switzerland (counting Liechtenstein as a de facto vassal statelet). Action on this as on most things requires a strong push by France and Germany. Macron must be looking desperately for something popular to distract from his covid flounderings. Merkel is a German Lutheran whose popularity is also slipping. They may very well go for it.

    As it happens, the OECD has already done much of the technical work through its BEPS initiative. https://www.oecd.org/tax/beps/ As I understand it, the ultimate goal is a unitary system of corporate taxation: the total profits of a multinational company,measured by an accounting standard, are allocated among the countries where it has real economic activity in accordance with more or less objective indicators of he latter (fixed assets, payroll, value added, etc.), then each jurisdiction levies its own tax rate on its share. Bye-bye tax havens, This all works better if the range of tax rates is narrow. What’s missing to get a real agreement is high-level political will.The tax havens themselves are small and powerless that’s why they got into the shady business in the first place. They are in no position to block determined and concerted action by major players. Swiss bank secrecy crumbled fast after 9/11, in the face of red-eyed American hawks prepared to do anything.

    The will part looks to be the case in the USA.. Biden, as long-term Senator for Delaware, presumably knows a lot about tax. He has hired people who know a lot more. The opportunity is there for other players to seize.

  4. GILTI pronounced “GUILTY!”, I take it. The CEOs of tax avoiding companies need to spend time in jail too: ten years minimum.

  5. There is little chance of a global consensus on corporate taxation. As Adam Smith observed at the dawn of capitalism:
    “Its not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from the regard of their own interests. We address ourselves not to their humanity but to their self love, and never talk to them of our own necessities, but of their advantages.'” (The Wealth of Nations ; Book 1: Chapter II page 19).
    Lloyd was right to point out the self seeking nature of employees. They rant and rave about the minimum wage but never mention their profits. Try and tax those profits and they will get their political
    puppets to bring in tax concessions and/or legislate for business welfare payments.
    James Wimberley has the truth of it. Only the USA can bring enough international pressure to bear to catch out the global corporations in matters of tax evasion..

  6. James W said “The opportunity is there for other players to seize.”… to me, is half the fix and works both ways. Everyrhing is connected so fixing capital and tax needs also at the same time, a fix for arm-breaking zombies.

    Not mentioned at the other end – the poor and powerless – and new opportunities to create “powerful engines for unlocking new debt markets”.**

    First they went after the powerless, then moved up to us… the privileged.

    ** “The zombie economy and digital arm-breakers 

    “Arm-breaker tech unlocks new markets by delaying defaults on unpayable debts. The zombie economy shambles on.

    “This is probably a good point to mention the Shitty Technology Adoption Curve: any disciplinary technology is tried out on powerless people first, and gradually works its way up the privilege gradient to encompass the whole world.

    “Improvements to arm-breaking processes – cost-savings on traditional coercion or innovative new forms of terror – are powerful engines for unlocking new debt markets.”…
    https://pluralistic.net/2021/04/02/innovation-unlocks-markets/#digital-arm-breakers

  7. It didn’t take long – unbeknown to me at the time on Apr 3, I stated:

    “2. The Scripps Mauna Loa Observatory measuring atmospheric CO2 concentrations recorded hourly average levels spiking above 420 parts per million (ppm) on 20 Mar 2021 and above 421 ppm on 21 Mar 2021. I would not be at all surprised if we see daily, weekly, or even a monthly average reading crossing the 420 ppm threshold in the next few months.”
    https://johnquiggin.com/2021/04/02/public-debt-dont-target-the-quantity-target-the-price/#comment-235107

    Per NOAA Mauna Loa Observatory data, the CO2 atmospheric DAILY average concentration was:
    * on Apr 3: at 421.21 ppm; – RECORD HIGHEST so far
    * on Apr 2: at 416.97 ppm;
    * on Apr 1: at 417.60 ppm.

    Per a Scripps Mauna Loa Observatory tweet:

    “Baseline reading not available, data too variable 03-Apr-2021”

    If this record highest is confirmed, this is not good.

  8. Re Biden’s plan – it is sooooo nice to have a place like this, where I can say howwwww much more I like the phrase “Green Industrial Revolution,” than “Green New Deal.” One sounds like you’re going to get back to manufacturing and having a middle class. The other just sounds like you’re going to hand out free stuff. I know little about Johnson but in this case he has the much better communication style.

    I wish Biden would adopt the other phrase. There isn’t much hope for bipartisanship here – but, it might still help with people in the middle. (I still believe there are actual people there.)

    I count myself a liberal Dem, but I prefer an infrastructure plan to a jobs plan. Here in California, we are witnessing the slow torturous strangulation death of our high speed rail plan. (I voted for it way back when, but no one at the time said anything about digging under a forest. I guess I should have known?) That is, it hasn’t been killed yet, but pretty much no one believes in it anymore. Or defends it. It appears to be just pork at this point. And it undermines faith in the one party Democratic rule here. (It, and many other things, but those are off topic.) I know a train would traditionally be counted as infrastructure, but this project is so off course, it seems like a stimulus plan. It won’t go as fast as was promised. They’re not even going to build it all. It’s a mess.

    Thus, I don’t know that a “jobs” plan is a good idea. And, sorry but I wouldn’t have put social spending in an infrastructure bill. (Here, it was not called a jobs bill in the popular press – it is referred to as an infrastructure plan.) It just makes it look like Dems are unable to focus (and, can’t be trusted – though I admit, there was never any hope really of getting any GOP support).

    Mind you, I am still very grateful to have a normal president again.

    The tax change sounds like a great idea. Thank you for pointing that out, James.

  9. Just because the press calls it an infrastructure plan does not mean that it is what it is. It is a jobs plan with infrastructure, social and environmental spending. The press is trying to redefine it (as per Republican ideology) as an infrastructure plan so they can criticize the social spending. There is nothing wrong with social spending. It saves lives, lots of lives. The CDC and the US vaccination program are social spending. Without them millions more would die.

  10. Morrison has rewarded Michaelia Cash and Peter Dutton for taking one for the Prime Minister (“I decided where the sports grants went” and “I thought the AFP shouldn’t inform the PM about a rape in Minister’s office allegation”); Porter must feel reassured – and a new chief law officer in the land that ignores the rules for partisan political gain… may be exactly what Morrison wants. Not sure I’d want Dutton too close though; he has ambitions.

    Were the Libs and Nats always this bad? Still, no matter the little bit of current argy-bargy, NewsCorp is going to absolutely back Morrison over Albanese when election time comes around and Labor will avoid any show of policy ambition to appease them but it won’t work. Were Labor always this bad?

  11. This ABC Analysis article backs what I have been saying recently.

    “Coronavirus variants mean we can’t rely on vaccination. We need global suppression.”

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-04-06/coronavirus-variants-mean-vaccination-cant-control-pandemic/100049682

    “Put simply, the game has changed, and a successful global rollout of current vaccines by itself is no longer a guarantee of victory.

    No one is truly safe from COVID-19 until everyone is safe. We are in a race against time to get global transmission rates low enough to prevent the emergence and spread of new variants. The danger is that variants will arise that can overcome the immunity conferred by vaccinations or prior infection.

    As members of the Lancet COVID-19 Commission Taskforce on Public Health, we call for urgent action in response to the new variants. These new variants mean we cannot rely on the vaccines alone to provide protection but must maintain strong public health measures to reduce the risk from these variants.

    Each time the virus replicates, there is an opportunity for a mutation to occur. And as we are already seeing around the world, some of the resulting variants risk eroding the effectiveness of vaccines.

    That’s why we have called for a global strategy of “maximum suppression”.

    Public health leaders should focus on efforts that maximally suppress viral infection rates, thus helping to prevent the emergence of mutations that can become new variants of concern.”

    We are going to pay a huge and ongoing price for the foolish assumption that we could ignore the pandemic in its early stages, keep much of the world open to travel and then vaccinate it away. This approach has not worked, does not work and will not work. This crisis will last for many more years yet and kill many more millions. Let’s hope we learn something from it. In the final analysis, we will need to eradicate COVID-19 globally or face decades of decimation from it.

  12. Good question. My answer – Less.
    TC “… how much would you fear it [technology] if we lived in a world that was a lot like Denmark or if the entire world was run sort of on the principles of one of the Scandinavian countries?”

    “Ezra Klein Interviews Ted Chiang

    TC:…”Let’s think about it this way. How much would we fear any technology, whether A.I. or some other technology, how much would you fear it if we lived in a world that was a lot like Denmark or if the entire world was run sort of on the principles of one of the Scandinavian countries? There’s universal health care. Everyone has child care, free college maybe. And maybe there’s some version of universal basic income there.

    “Now if the entire world operates according to — is run on those principles, how much do you worry about a new technology then? I think much, much less than we do now. Most of the things that we worry about under the mode of capitalism that the U.S practices, that is going to put people out of work, that is going to make people’s lives harder, because corporations will see it as a way to increase their profits and reduce their costs. It’s not intrinsic to that technology. It’s not that technology fundamentally is about putting people out of work.

    “It’s capitalism that wants to reduce costs and reduce costs by laying people off. It’s not that like all technology suddenly becomes benign in this world. But it’s like, in a world where we have really strong social safety nets, then you could maybe actually evaluate sort of the pros and cons of technology as a technology, as opposed to seeing it through how capitalism is going to use it against us. How are giant corporations going to use this to increase their profits at our expense?

    “And so, I feel like that is kind of the unexamined assumption in a lot of discussions about the inevitability of technological change and technologically-induced unemployment. Those are fundamentally about capitalism and the fact that we are sort of unable to question capitalism. We take it as an assumption that it will always exist and that we will never escape it. And that’s sort of the background radiation that we are all having to live with. But yeah, I’d like us to be able to separate an evaluation of the merits and drawbacks of technology from the framework of capitalism.”

    nytimes
    com/2021/03/30/podcasts/ezra-klein-podcast-ted-chiang-transcript.html

  13. Gregory McKenzie: I don’t read the implications of the Adam Smith passage the same way as you. For thousands of years, governments have recognized that tax collectors are economic agents too, and given them financial incentives to haul in more revenue. In fact, they are much closer to homo economicus than the average poet or fisherman. There’s quite a literature on performance pay for taxmen. From cursory random dipping, a nice quote on a real-world controlled experiment in Pakistan http://economics.mit.edu/files/10678:
    “The results are consistent with a collusive setting in which performance pay increases collectors’ bargaining power over taxpayers, who either have to pay higher bribes to avoid being reassessed, or pay substantially higher taxes if collusion breaks down.”

    The OECD guesses the global revenue lost to corporate tax evasion at $240 bn a year. Since it’s carefully and expensively concealed, an informed guess is what the estimate must be, but it’s as good a starting point as any. That creates a lot of rational-agent space for both incentives and collusion. The stakes are high on both sides, but higher for evaders. You can be jailed for tax fraud, as Trump may still find out.

  14. Totally unsurprising news on PV module shipments in 2020 (in spite of covid) http://taiyangnews.info/business/longi-largest-solar-module-supplier-in-2020/:

    “Overall, the top 10 companies claimed catered to 81.5% of global demand translating into shipping around 114.1 GW of solar modules in 2020.” Longi just pipped JInko for the top spot at 20 GW, but overall, the leaderboard is quite stable.

    What about former rival nuclear? Five reactors were shut down in 2020 and four connected to the grid, for a princely net gain of 305 MW. OK, more in real terms, as the shut-down plants were probably getting unreliable. https://www.powermag.com/5-reactors-connected-to-the-grid-5-removed-in-2020/

    To compare the two, assume a reference new nuclear power reactor is 1GW and its capacity factor 90%. For solar we’ll take a CF of 25%, so the 1 GW reactor equates to 3.6 GW of solar modules. So the top ten PV manufacturers made the equivalent of 37 nuclear reactors, with a time to grid connection of under 12 months. Longi and Jinko made at least 5 reactors’-worth each. They are all planning big expansions. The competition is over. Solar won.

  15. James I do take you point. It is one I shared during the decades I taught tax policy. But my research for my book convinced me that the rich are too good at looking after their own tax interests. Only one Australian example, but a good one, was when Kerry Packer was assessed for a payment of $40 million in percent income tax due. When asked by a reporter if he was worried, Packer said that he had no intention of paying one dollar. Then he went off and hired the best tax lawyers money could buy. In the end the ATO had to pay for the court cots of an embarrassing defeat in the courts of Australia. Now Australian economists have gotten used to statutory authorities losing high profile cases they take to court. But it gets worse when you recall that under the Australian Constitution, as you rightly pointed out, tax fraud is illegal. Our tax fraud law is draconian but still smart tax layers arrange tax evasion structures for all the rich people who want to buy their services. My point was that no one country, except the USA, can do anything about this plague of tax evasion/avoidance/minimization (?) sweeping the world. Smith’s point was that it was foolish to rely on the goodwill of those whose best interests lay elsewhere.
    Economists should always be realists. We don’t have all the answers. In fact we state that matters of legal enforcement our outside our area of knowledge. Yes, as you gain rightly pointed out, tax systems can be designed to encourage people to pay their taxes. You can even impose value added taxes to force most people to pay their fair share of tax. But no national tax system will ever force people to pay their taxes if they can afford the lawyers to find the legal loopholes. The only thing that can be done globally is to reduce the wiggle room the rich have to evade national taxation. Withholding taxes may stem the flow a bit but not effectively enough to be efficient. Improvements in equity and fairness in national tax relativity may induce more tax compliance but never total compliance.
    The last word on tax, of course, goes to the rich. Kerry Packer was fronting up to the 1991 print media inquiry; in open session he told the parliamentary committee:
    “Anybody in this country who does not minimize his tax wants his head read..”
    Between 1990 and 1992 Packer’s company Consolidated Press, that was for that period making over $3 million a day, paid a total tax bill of $25 000. Privately, Packer paid nothing to the ATO for that same period. The stark reality was that he did not even try to hide the fact that he was using tax lawyers to “minimize” his tax bills.
    Nothing has really changed over the last thirty years. Dr. Ken Henry had a good try at doing something in Australia to introduce a fair and equitable tax system. But his efforts were overpowered by the politics of greed. Political pressure was successful in abolishing the Carbon Tax and stopping the introduction of a super profits tax on mining conglomerates. There are now more tax concessions in Australian tax legislation than in Packer’s days. The pursuit of equity in tax laws has been abandoned. Any attempts at fairness are thwarted by the very politicians who are supposed to represent all the people and not just the rich.
    Ipso facto I am a tax system skeptic. The non-rich are forced to pay their taxes even if this means losing their homes. The rich merely buy the services of another tax lawyer then pay little or no tax in this country.

  16. A valuable paper for pandemic times imo. Some over confident experts may find this paper produces cognitive dissonance. I’d like to see this as societal wide data collection -“what is your prediction of … recovery … opening … closing … loss … health etc etc”… and reflection of judgements every week publicly, allowing societal wide updated priors and heuristics, and future planning of pandemic projections.

    “The pandemic fallacy: Inaccuracy of social scientists’ and lay judgments about COVID-19’s societal consequences in America

    …”Social scientists were no more accurate than lay people, neither in prospective nor retrospective judgments. Across studies and samples, estimates of the magnitude of change were off by more than 20% and less than half of participants accurately predicted the direction of changes. Taken together, we find that experts and lay people fared poorly at predicting social and psychological consequences of the pandemic and misperceive what effects it may have already had.”
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/349221867_The_pandemic_fallacy_Inaccuracy_of_social_scientists'_and_lay_judgments_about_COVID-19's_societal_consequences_in_America

    February 2021
    DOI:10.31234/osf.io/g8f9s

  17. Knowing that our government at the moment cannot even organise a ‘chook’s Harem’ with this covid vaccination, Still waiting to get mine, hate to think what an absolute mess they will make of this hated Badgerys creek airport. Lets hope it never gets built. Again we in Western Sydney are been treated like third class citizens. But who cares about the massive growing population of western Sydney. We will always get the rough end of the pineapple out here like this ‘white elephant’ of an airport. More pollution, more noise and no sleep 24/7 no curfew.

  18. JQ, Marion Godman may be of interest to provide an alternate method of groupings, and explain the “shift to the right among older voters, and this needs to be explained” JQ Inside Story – ‘Tides of opinion’ today.

    “Questions that I am currently considering include: How we might determine what groups are suitable as subjects for generalization & scientific investigation? Should we research and generalize over already stigmatized groups or is social classification in fact a crucial asset in detecting and fighting injustice?”
    https://mariongodman.wordpress.com/about/

    Via…
    “The Epistemology and Morality of Human Kinds

    “In today’s post, Marion Godman (Aarhus University) presents her new book, The Epistemology and Morality of Human Kinds(Routledge 2021).
    ….
    …” Say we want to find out if men and women in Denmark have the same risk of facing bankruptcy in their small businesses, or whether an indigenous group in Canada face the same risk of severe illness upon infection of COVID-19 as a non-indigenous population. This implies that we can use empirical, statistical and, if we are very lucky, experimental methods to study comparisons between the same features of different groups. Even then it is of course not sufficient to detect a difference to be able to uncover an injustice (both value judgements and explanations are typically often needed for this), my point is just that a necessary first step for change is to first discover or check for differences between human kinds.

    “The first thing is that it corrects for misunderstanding about human kinds such as them typically being explained by fixed neurological or genetic differences. Human kinds are instead predominantly constrained by the available models and different pressures and needs to conform to these models.

    “Since they are very much part of our inherited cultural fabric, human kinds are not easy to change. In fact, it may not even desirable to change all aspects of human kinds. True, many kinds may be associated with domination and subordination (such as with gender and ethnicity in many places) and this is surely something to resist. But human kinds do also matter for learning how to navigate the world, for inhabiting a social identity that gives us both a sense of uniqueness as well as a sense of belonging.”
    http://imperfectcognitions.blogspot.com/2021/04/the-epistemology-and-morality-of-human.html

  19. Tides of opinion. When the tide of inherited financial behaviour, not generations – “… indicates that inherited financial behaviour is important for explaining differences in financial trouble.”

    “Financial Trouble Across Generations: Evidence from the Universe of Personal Loans in Denmark

    “Abstract
    This article uses administrative data with longitudinal information about defaults for the entire Danish population to analyse the driving forces behind financial problems. Non-parametric evidence shows that the default propensity is more than four times higher for individuals with parents in default compared with that for individuals with parents not in default. This intergenerational relationship is apparent soon after children move into adulthood and become legally able to borrow, and is remarkably stable across parental income levels, childhood school performances, levels of loan balances and time periods. The evidence indicates that inherited financial behaviour is important for explaining differences in financial trouble.”

    https://academic.oup.com/ej/article-abstract/130/625/233/5580581?redirectedFrom=fulltext

    Claus Thustrup Kreiner,Søren Leth-Petersen,Louise Charlotte Willerslev-Olsen

    The Economic Journal, Volume 130, Issue 625, January 2020, Pages 233–262,https://doi.org/10.1093/ej/uez046

  20. International tourism is finished (hopefully) for all time. Thus, there should be no need for an airport at Badgerys Creek. It seems highly unlikely that International tourism will ever recover to its former numbers and we mus hope for our survival’s sake that it does not. The COVID-19 global pandemic will be running for at least another 4 years. Any country opening up (to hordes of tourists) would suffer a mass outbreak. New, mutated variants are very likely to mean we need to maintain international isolation and a continuous vaccine “arms race” against the mutating virus.

    If and when COVID-19 is conquered we will then face the next pandemic, the one after that and so on in a continuous stream of outbreaks. We have so disrupted global ecology and impinged on natural habitats that dangerous new zoonotic diseases will continue arising in humans. In addition, international tourism is antithetical to controlling climate change. Our most pressing needs are to close down international people movements (except for bona fide refugees) and to reduce CO2 emissions. Any obsession with restarting the maladaptive and ecologically destructive tourist industry, if acted upon, will lead to even more major world problems leading to civilizational collapse.

  21. The virus sure is depressing. To make matters worse, even getting anti-depressants is a more depressing endeavour these days!

    My former psychiatrist rejects to wear a mask along with his staff. To make matters worse, he insists on his patients not wearing one either. The pharmacist right next door does not bother to wear a mask either.

    Next Psychiatrists, that is the next one who did make an appointment as many just don’t take any new patients period: I did a test today, so I hope you don’t mind if I take off my mask.

    Me: Even with a test, I would prefer not, speaking of masks as it happens that’s why I am here….
    Psychiatrist: I see why you would not want to see my colleague at the moment, but I got sooo many patients, we can do two or three short appointments for prescriptions, and you can go back to x once the corona situation is over. By the way there is also a corona denialist psychology Prof at the local university. GAAAHHHHHHHHHH. Maybe Manfred Lütz was right. (I did find someone in the end)

    At least a small continent down under on a Eurocentric map is resisting the virus…..

  22. Slightly more amusing: Bayern Munich just lost 2:3 against to Paris in the Champions League. The good thing about those matches is: It is easy to find a reason to be happy that that one side loses. Most sides at that level are owned by some shady billionaire with links to authoritarian regimes. If not that, they are at least involved in tax evasion one way or another. Bayern Munich re elected a convicted tax evader after his year in prison as shall we say CEO.

    Now to the slightly more serious part of it, according to 538 statistics https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/soccer-predictions/champions-league/ Bayern was the far better team that mainly got unlucky, with some stupid defending errors on top.
    One would not guess according to headlines, those were more along the lines of “Superstar strikers Neymar/Mbappé too good for Bayern.

  23. Addendum on nuclear reactors. Was it four or five new ones last year? My source article says five, but lists four. The Astravets plant in Belarus has twin reactors, but only one was switched on by year’s end. An update adds that an old Swedish reactor (Ringhals1, 760 MW) was permanently switched off in December, bringing the global total for net new nuclear capacity to -455MW.

  24. James Wimberley: – “Addendum on nuclear reactors. Was it four or five new ones last year?”

    Per World Nuclear Association, the most recent grid connections in 2020, and 2021 (so far), were:

    Belarus:
    * Ostrovets-1, VVER V-491 type, 1,110 MWe net, grid connection on 3 Nov 2020

    China:
    * Fuqing-5, Hualong-1 type, 1,000 MWe net, grid connection on 27 Nov 2020, operational on 30 Jan 2021
    * Tianwan-5, ACPR-1000 type, 1,000 MWe net, grid connection on 8 Aug 2020, operational on 8 Sep 2020

    India:
    * Kakrapar-3, PHWR-700 type, 630 MWe net, grid connection on 10 Jan 2021

    Pakistan:
    * Karachi-2, Hualong-1 type, 1,014 MWe net, grid connection on 18 Mar 2021

    Russia:
    * Leningrad II-2, VVER-1200 type, 1,066 MWe net, grid connection on 22 Oct 2020, operational on 22 Mar 2021

    United Arab Emirates:
    * Barakah-1, APR-1400 type, 1,345 MWe net, grid connection on 19 Aug 2020
    https://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/facts-and-figures/reactor-database.aspx

    Akademik Lomonosov-1 and Akademik Lomonosov-2, both KLT-40S ‘Floating’ type, 32 MWe net each, were grid connected in 2019, but only became operational on 22 May 2020.

    James, what definition do you prefer?

    Grid connection in 2020: 5 (Tianwan-5, Barakah 1, Leningrad II-2, Ostrovets-1, and Fuqing-5), but not all became operational in 2020, some still aren’t so far.
    Grid connection in 2021 (to date): 2 (Kakrapar-3, Karachi-2)

    Became operational in 2020: 3 (Akademik Lomonosov-1, Akademik Lomonosov-2, Tianwan-5)
    Became operational in 2021 (to date): 2 (Leningrad II-2, Fuqing-5)

  25. Nulclear power sounds very last century. I used to work in the old Mines Department in Sounth Australia back in the late sixties, early 70’s. It was a crazy place I remember. My boss was a chain smoker and the place always stank of foul smelling cigs, was full of hard to find files and dust and rats. . I worked in the records department. I remember the geologists rushing in one afternoon shouting ‘Eureka, eureka’, so I said ‘why are you all so excited’. They said to me ‘we found it, we found it’ I said ‘what’? We found Uranium at Roxby Downs. Then they showed me a piece of Yellow cake. I said could I have a look and tried to pick up a piece up. They said ‘don’t touch it, it’s not safe to handle’. We now know Roxby Downs now called ‘Olympic Dam’ is one of the world’s largest deposits of Uranium. True story.

  26. But it gets worse when you recall that under the Australian Constitution, as you rightly pointed out, tax fraud is illegal.

    The Australian Constitution doesn’t say anything about tax fraud.

  27. “But no national tax system will ever force people to pay their taxes if they can afford the lawyers to find the legal loopholes. The only thing that can be done globally is to reduce the wiggle room the rich have to evade national taxation.” – Gregory J. McKenzie says: APRIL 7, 2021 AT 7:23 AM

    It was possibly not so much the case back in the Goanna’s day (disregarding harbour bottoms and such), but for a decade or two now it is the political class, individuals and parties, that are bought first to create, maintain, and expand any loopholes the rich exploit. The pollies also come relatively cheap. It’s the political class that allow insist on the revolving door between the big four accountancy firms and the higher echelons of the ATO. The big four operating inside the tent get the ATO to formulate and recommend laws and regulations to the political class for legislation, and the formulation of ATO binding policies, interpretations, determinations, and rulings. The big four wearing another two hats at the same time then provide their rich clients with specific tax advise and auditing services. The only fix is a political revolution.

  28. “The Australian Constitution doesn’t say anything about tax fraud.”

    What may be explicit in the Constitution and what may be implied depends on who is asking what of whom.

    Another more direct take may be under heads of power. Government is mentioned in the Constitution, as are Courts. Governments legislate tax fraud to be an offence. Alleged offenders are tried in Courts. Tax fraud offenders have been found guilty and convicted by Courts. No doubt some convicted tax fraud offenders have got off on appeal to another Court. No doubt back in the day rather than today, some successful appellants faced similar new charges.

  29. Sonia said “Then they showed me a piece of Yellow cake.”

    I was friends with a designer at Australian Museum in Sydney. She had ordered and received a large lump of uranium ore. 80cm x 60 cm approx. It was the talk as everyone was aware of the radiation risk and precautions taken. It was placed in a lead line display case w 6cm lead glass viewing panel.

    I provided control equipment for ventilation and timing of various lighting effects. Except no one at the Museum thought to install controls and lighting before placing a large radon and radiation risk into it.

    So as I was the only one left standing – no one else seemed to want to get into display box w rock – I sought dosage and time limits – and ended up also installing.

    20 mins max a day so the experts said. No danger money. One day prep and 2 x 20mins install. Inside w rock hugging me. I seem ok 30yrs later?!

    By selecting various lighting – incandescent and fluro – showed you a rock. A good looking rock. When UV selected wow. Everyone stared and ooh ah’d. A very special rock.

    I wonder what has happened to it?

  30. Hugging pitchblende for 40 minutes? That’s maybe 8 weeks natural background radiation exposure. Far less than one x-ray. I don’t recommend, but then I don’t recommend smoking one cigarette either.

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