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

55 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. Two articles I liked that are referred to in today’s AFR. I still find a lot of value in my daily dose of the AFR:

    Paul Krugman gets the case for carbon border-taxes more than a little confused. He argues that levying taxes on imports won’t address the problem of domestic carbon consumption. Of course, the correct argument is that the case for such border taxes stems from the idea that all carbon consumptions should be taxed – whether locally produced or imported. Taxing imports of carbon-produced steel but not taxing local consumption of carbon-produced steel would be discriminatory and ruled out by the GATT. It is only if both domestic and imported steel is taxed that the measure is GATT-compliant. It’s a simple point but Krugman argues for GATT-compliance at the start of his article but fails to see that this claim fails when only imports are taxed – the problem he identifies as characteristic of the border tax proposal at the tail of his article. He is confused.

    A second study uses evidence on lottery winner behaviour to examine the effects of a UBI. Sustained lottery winnings of $7800 annually are like recent UBI proposals. The effects of such exogenous increases in unearned income are to reduce creativity, motivation, and entrepreneurship, to discourage work effort and to encourage shifts toward lower-paid jobs. This is particularly damaging for young people who forego the big wage increases they would otherwise get in their 20s and 30s.

    This parallels earlier NBER studies of UBI which show that the policy disadvantages the young. A UBI would direct much larger shares of transfers to childless, non-elderly, non-disabled households than existing programs, and much more to middle-income rather than poor households. A UBI large enough to increase transfers to low-income families would be enormously expensive (Hoynes and Rothstein, 2019).

    As the AFR argues, Generation Z should fear a UBI. Moreover, once it is offered it is difficult to take away and taking it away can leave people worse off when the measure was initiated.

  2. This seems to sum things up nicely;

    “ “Everyone on the right has basically been fed this Adam Smith fairy tale about economic and political history, in which all the good things should go together,” Julius Krein, the editor of the right-wing journal American Affairs, told me. “That’s fusionism: free markets plus moral virtue. It’s all a nice, big, happy combination.” Seeing big business “at least rhetorically” embrace progressive causes has been, Krein added, “a huge threat to that whole fairy tale. Even if it doesn’t provoke resistance per se, it provokes a lot of consternation and panic because you have your origin myth directly threatened.”

  3. Harry Clark, it would appear the AFR are drawing a long bow, and aiming in their usual direction at the lower classes in order to please the rich. It’s typical AFR spin on behalf of the usual suspects it both panders to and serves.

    Consider just three statements and conclusions you’ve quoted below:

    1 “A second study uses evidence on lottery winner behaviour to examine the effects of a UBI. Sustained lottery winnings of $7800 annually are like recent UBI proposals.”

    2 “This is particularly damaging for young people who forego the big wage increases they would otherwise get in their 20s and 30s.”

    On 1 & 2. Presumably their quoted “second study” included all age groups, all socioeconomic and US racial cohorts etc, ie it was drawn from all sustained income lottery winners from across the entire US population, and not some restricted cohort subset aged in the 20s and 30s. The behaviour of many other cohorts will vary markedly from that grouping, eg., students, mature students, those retired and nearing retired, the sick, the disabled, those many already banged up against a ceiling and excluded from opportunities for personal advancement due to societal racial, or gender, or socioeconomic, or geographic factors. It is a stretch too far to say it is particularly damaging for young people, or any other particular cohort without clarifying any other circumstances that obtain. In order to say that they need that particular study first!

    3 “As the AFR argues, Generation Z should fear a UBI. Moreover, once it is offered it is difficult to take away and taking it away can leave people worse off when the measure was initiated.”

    On 3. You can’t get to there from where they started. No. It’s not an argument, Harry. It is a pure gibberish manifesto of conflated. rhetorical, illogical, vested moneyed interest spin.

    4 “…A UBI large enough to increase transfers to low-income families would be enormously expensive (Hoynes and Rothstein, 2019).”

    Everyone gets the same UBI payment set at, say, the Henderson poverty line. It is taxable income. At that income level or higher progressive income taxation (and GST on increased spending by those on low income) fixes the non- problem. Administrative costs would not increase and would as likely decrease.

  4. Surely, WHERE a UBI directs much larger shares of transfers depends on the SPECIFIC DESIGN of the UBI in question.

    I make this statement in isolation from the overall argument of whether we should have a UBI or not. Both Ernestine Gross and Bill Mitchell (two very different economists) have grave UBI reservations for their own very different reasons. This gives me pause and I now reserve overall judgement on the merit of a UBI until I think more about it.

    Both H.C. and B.M. assume the need for (a lot of?) human labor well into the future. They also assume the need for the discipline of waged work itself or otherwise the proles and feckless youth (me being a little sarcastic) will become aimless, shiftless and unmotivated. E.G. I leave to make her arguments again is she wishes.

    If we want to put a stop to income received without effort let us attack the massive rentier incomes going to the shiftless 1%. They are the most shiftless, useless, conniving, manipulative and destructive part of the entire population. They are total parasites and they promote nothing but zombie economics, science denialism, climate change inaction and false media propaganda direceted at the masses: let alone buying all our politicians to implement their 1% policies. They are a menace to human survival itself.

  5. The Dutch have made marine floating solar work:
    “The 50 kW modular PV system started operating at the end of November 2019. According to its developer, Dutch start-up Oceans of Energy, power production after 18 months of operations is in line with expectations. The installation had to withstand several storms and waves with a height of up to 10 meters.“

    The LCOE of this small pilot is still astronomical. But with the planned scaling up to commercial size, the cost of high-wave solar will come down fast. The developers surprisingly used standard panels, not specially manufactured ones. The plan is to moor big rafts of them between existing offshore wind turbines, plentiful in the North Sea. They will piggyback on the turbines’ power cables and nicely smooth the variability of their output. With bonus seaweed underneath:

    The progress is not earth-shaking. It does move yet another piece of the technology portfolio from the “interesting but unproven idea” to the “this also works” bin. The scheme is of course of no interest to Australia, with an unconstrained supply of sun-drenched land. It could fit the Yellow as well as the North and Baltic seas.

    There is already one ambitious paper scheme I’m not qualified to assess that uses electricity to mineralize and sequester dissolved oceanic CO2: . If any scheme like this works out, the power supply for automated megarafts is ready.

    These two data points illustrate a general truth. The path to net zero gets easier every day. On carbon removal, we are still gawking at shiny concept cars.

  6. ‘I was desperate’: the fight to get Australia’s fruit pickers a fair wage
    Backpackers tell of hours hunting for fruit that’s almost as meagre as their pay, as Fair Work Commission case begins

    Re “The Dutch” and (actual earth-shaking) tech…

    How the Netherlands has innovated agriculture to become the world’s #2 exporter of food

    Wageningen is to agriculture as Stamford University was to Silicon Valley.

    For some Dutch researchers, their concern for the threat of world hunger stems in part from a historical national trauma: The Netherlands was the last Western country to suffer a serious famine, when between 10,000 to 20,000 people died in German-occupied lands during the final year of World War II.

    Ernst van den Ende, managing director of WUR’s Plant Sciences Group, sums it up in the National Geographic article like this:

    “I’m not simply a college dean. Half of me runs Plant Sciences, but the other half oversees nine separate business units involved in commercial contract research. Only that mix, the science-driven in tandem with the market-driven, can meet the challenge that lies ahead.

    The planet will need to produce more food in the next four decades than all farmers in history have harvested over the past 8,000 years.”

    One suggestion he has for the next wave of feeding a growing population: Insects like grasshoppers.

    But not for us humans to eat.

    Instead, to be grown as feed for livestock.

    One hectare of land yields one metric ton of soy protein annually, a common livestock feed.

    That same hectare can produce 150 tons of insect protein annually…

    Better that than soon mining the sea of all life to feed chooks and cows and cats and dogs and tuna and salmon…

    The Netherlands in 2017: 41,543 km2, USD$92Bil agricultural exports

    Terrible Australis: 7.692Mil km2, USD$37Bil agricultural exports – approx

    (In 2016 the value of Australia’s agriculture exports was AUD$44.7 billion worth USD32,961,780.00 at 19/07/21 06:28PM AEST )

    Australia is 185 times the size of the Netherlands but with less than half the ag output – approx

    The terror Australia way: dig it up, chop it down, muster it, ship it off… and abuse unpaid, underpaid, stolen waged, ripoff imported labour hordes to do it..

  7. UBI is some kind of ancient touch-paper, when it comes to culture wars. I am not convinced by arguments that the higher the payment, the less the energy (or whatever you wish to call it) of the people on it to be creative, to participate in society. Through my own health difficulties, I can say this much: humans desire contact and connection, as a rule; it doesn’t mean they are all extroverts, but just that they feel the need for some personal connection with others of their kind. Adam Smith and Mill had some basic appreciation of this, even if it didn’t factor into their theories, as such. In fact, I would say that once a person is no longer in fear of starving to death, or going cold turkey on their essential medications, they can find the mental space to consider the bigger question, what next for them? They’ll figure it out, they’ll find ways of seeking a higher form of living than just sitting about—to be unkind in characterisation, for nobody I know just sits about. Not if they can avoid it.

    The modern Libertarian version of Capitalism is so far removed from the 1790s and 1800s, as to be in an entirely different galaxy. The modern version is one that boils everything down to being a contest between two (or more) parties. The entire theory is in my opinion framed in that manner (PS: I have the original volume on Game Theory, as it applies to Economics: von Neumann and Morgenstern).

    If you take a big and random chunk of humanity, you will find some are total psychopaths, some are schizophrenic, some are serial murderers; the bulk will be kind of okay, not wanting to harm each other, at least not on a second-by-second basis. There’ll be people who would rather be killed than to defend themselves. There’ll be people who won’t raise an arm to protect themselves, but will kill anybody who directly threatens their family. There’ll be people who have a massive diversity of opinions as to how their brethren should have behaved, given the circumstances. In simply terms, humanity is a parcelled up distribution of behaviours, and in any large enough randomly selected group, we’ll get all the psychopathic behaviour, the saintly behaviour (at least, by some individual’s reckoning), and all that is between the two goal posts.

    In other words, we can always find some humans who’ll proclaim the current system (whatsoever it may be) is the only one that optimises blah; or, is the Dark Lord come to Earth. There’ll be opinions that spray the manifold surface of options and parameter values that the “system” could have set for it, and the resultant behaviours.

    Humans, as a general rule, love to do *something* and so they do. If knitting is the big thing, they learn how to do it. If it is music, they learn how to do it. If it is growing plants for food, they learn how to do it.

    If humans have the UBI to fall back on, a small percentage might choose to do knaff-all, but quite frankly, most of them will sooner or later try to find a way of making their lives have some personal meaning. In other words, they’ll find things to do. Not because they have to, but because they are strongly motivated through personal drive to do so. If you have such motivated people wanting to be involved in things, it’s got to be better than people who need a whipping to just do a single 8 hour day (not that I condone whipping).

    So, UBI might prove to put a very small percentage of people into this lazy semi-poverty, one in which they can take drugs and sleep through the day, etc. Well, in every society, this will happen, even without any UBI at all. The larger point is what happens to all of the rest that are saved by UBI? I have a difficulty believing they’ll just sit about, watching Living Dead 182, instead of seeking physical and emotional contact with other people, thus getting involved in work, or in helping other people in difficult times; working in charities for their local community, for instance. The principal problem with the current version of right wing political parties is that they place such a high value on individuality, they deny the most basic drives of normal human beings. Communists—in practice—have made similar errors. Fascists relied on such errors. Tyrants, Totalitarians; they circulated such ways of thinking, with the overlay of the compliant media doing their dirty work for them. Naked Capitalism is not greatly different, sadly.

    The short-term damage of a decent UBI is a distinct possibility, for some people might hope to game the system. As time goes on, however, I sincerely believe that the vast majority of people on UBI who feel they can contribute to (what they see as) society, or in some other just as significant manner, they’ll do it. In part, they feel they need to, and in part, they just want to. Perhaps some of them contribute in ways that aren’t so directly measurable by Economists. I still think they contribute to society. Part of the reason for feeling like making a contribution, is that yo have the time and means to do so. It’s also a basic human need, to feel that you a part of something. Be it knitting, painting, building houses, or making food for people to eat. We all have our own preferred means of personal expression.

    Wasting all this effort on knocking people off of DSP or the Dole or whatever, it is tackling the one percent of the one percent of the people who need help. Only thing is, the process actually hoovers up about ten to a hundred times the people who might be deliberately or even inadvertently breaking the social contract (which, in the LNP version, is a myth thing anyway). It’s about “looking tough” on these groups, despite the minimal impact on the economic bottom line. Sure, we shouldn’t grant an entirely free ride, but by the same token, those who are free-riders are such a small percentage of those who would not be free-riders, it is a serious waste of money and time to pursue so many (not gaming the system), just to catch the odd one. By all means have laws, deterrents, and such what; but, don’t use RoboDebt behaviour. That’s so illegal, it should be a crime for the minister to answer to, rather than a mere shrug of the shoulders, and then continuing on with it.

    How much as a couple of dozen lock downs of Capital Cities and surrounding regions cost us so far? An extraordinary amount. If Rudd had blown a fraction of this dough on the GFC, he would have been basted and slow-roasted over the coals. Well, he was, actually. Four dead contractors brought him down. How many dead businesses does the LNP approach to Covid tote up, so far? A shitload, if the empty offices and shops are a guide. Hilariously, the unemployment figures show record low levels, but this isn’t right. It shows record low inflation, yet my shopping bill has increased by 50\%. The simple fact is that some of the currently used Economic Indicators are incapable of reaching beneath the number, and so are now unreliable indicators of the state of our societies.

    If I donate cash to a homeless person now, I give a \$50, whereas two years ago, it would have been a \$20. That’s a fairly accurate reflection of how hard it has become for the homeless to get through a day or week.

    At the moment, in my apartment building, EOI are beyond half a million. This implies a rental return of around $30K per year. Who the Hell is living in those apartments? Who earns enough?

    Anyway, they are chock full. No AirBNB that I am aware of. This is bat-shit crazy.

    And back to Covid-19. If any lesson can be gleaned from it, it is that capitalist societies are just as shite as any other kind, when it comes to dealing with such a threat.

    if we had used our brains a bit, we could have been over-producing multiple vaccines for the various Covid-19 variants, and we could have been shipping them to our neighbours, even as our own population were fully vaccinated.

    But we have the current fekking disaster, slowly but surely unfolding before our very eyes. Blocking the original virus was a combination of good fortune and good public health measures. The current delta variant is so much more infectious, the good fortune is not to be relied on, and the public health measures need to be so much more severe in order to rein it in. While the broad Australian population are willing—however unhappily—-to abide, this is not longer sufficient. Children, for who we have no real research data with respect to safety and efficacy of the various vaccines, pose as a reservoir for the snekking virus. As around a fifth of a country’s population are children, this means the delta variant cannot be eliminated, once it is in the population. Since it is too damaging to let it rip, this means we have to undergo excruciatingly horrible long lock downs, and we have to basically shut down international arrivals. Well, if we set up regional cabin based quarantine for international arrivals, we could at least dig ourselves out of that particular hole.

    Economics is interesting, and I watch it with interest. However, it fails to encapsulate so much of human behaviour, that it works in some fairly restricted scenarios. It isn’t wrong, so much as narrowly deployed and accurate. Psychology has many of these issues, too. Humans have certain predictable behaviours, but there are so many more that are way beyond our powers of either prediction or statistically significant measurement.

    So, UBI might be a total fuck-up, or it might lead to a much better kind of cooperative society, one that isn’t under the relentless threat of not being able to feed the family.

    Communism, Totalitarianism, Fascism. Nationalism. None of these “Isms” has shown itself to be of value to the general human population. Perhaps to a few people, at the top of the totem pole. Not to you, or to me.

  8. Only worthy follow-on, is that SA will probably close down due to inadequate international quarantine. I don’t see it as the fault of the family, but of a quarantine system that has no means of coping with incidental issues. The kind that arise from having an entire distribution of humans in quarantine.

    These are not events to ignore.

  9. In 20 years time???…

    “Concrete Buildings Could Be Turned into Rechargeable Batteries

    “But for now, a square meter of the building material holds roughly the energy of two AA batteries

    “She and her colleagues mimicked the design of simple but long-lasting Edison batteries, in which an electrolyte solution carries ions between positively charged nickel plates and negatively charged iron ones, creating an electrical potential that produces voltage. In this case, the researchers mixed conductive carbon fibers into cement (a main ingredient of concrete) to substitute for the electrolyte. They also embedded layers of a carbon-fiber mesh, coated in either nickel or iron, to act as the plates.

    “This setup proved capable of discharging power and then recharging. “The fact that they’ve managed to recharge it to some degree, I think that is a very important step to where we need to be,” Byrne says. Like its inspiration, the prototype is long-lasting (Edison batteries can work for decades). And it resists overcharging, Zhang adds. “You can abuse this battery as much as you want without jeopardizing the performance,” she says.**

    “Although the new design stores more than 10 times as much power as earlier attempts, it still has a long way to go: 200 square meters of it “can provide about 8 percent of the daily electricity consumption” of a typical U.S. home, Zhang says.”…

    < 1920 battery!
    "Edison Battery Booklet
    …" and retired the Edison batteries to his unheated garage (Louisville, KY) where they sat for over 30 years discharged.

    "The first thing I did when I got them was to hose them off and top-off the water in the cells.  I then put them on charge, figuring they were shot.  Not so!  They took a charge and, after discharging and charging them a few times, they worked just fine.

    "About four years ago, intending to use them, I changed the electrolyte.  After charging, I couldn't tell any difference.  I should have just left them alone.

    "For those of you who are interested in such things, here's the booklet:"…

    …"A disconnecting jack is shipped with each battery."…

    The left side of image shows series, parallel or series-parallel configurations. 

  10. The Gypsy Economist: The Life and Times of Colin Clark

    “This book offers the first intellectual biography of the Anglo Australian economist, Colin Clark. Despite taking the economics world by storm with a mercurial ability for statistical analysis, Clark’s work has been largely overlooked in the 30 years since his death. His career was punctuated by a number of firsts.  He was the first economist to derive the concept of GNP, the first to broach development economics and to foresee the re-emergence of India and China within the global economy. In 1945, he predicted the rise and persistence of inflation when taxation levels exceeded 25 per cent of GNP.  And he was also the first economist to debunk post-war predictions of mass hunger by arguing that rapid population growth engendered economic development. Clark wandered through the fields of applied economics in much the same way as he rambled through the English countryside and the Australian bush. His imaginative wanderings qualify him as the eminent gypsy economist for the 20th century.”

    1st ed. 2021 Edition
    ISBN-13: 978-9813369450, ISBN-10: 9813369450
    Part of: Palgrave Studies in Economic History (75 Books)

  11. Don,

    With regard to your long post, I agree on all counts. I can be taken as a kind of person who has been on a kind of (U)BI for about 15 years. The type of (U)BI I have been on is called retirement superannuation. We can call it “retirement superannuation” or we can call it a Basic Income. The claims (including my own claims if I made any) that I “paid” for my basic income by paying taxes and paying super contributions are all formal or formalistic claims. They relate solely to legal law, administrative rule and money and finance formalisms which amounted to calculating and setting up figures (my supposed and deemed super balance) stored as bits in a computer system.

    The connection of these figures to my supposed contribution to society (as a computer systems support person in the Dept. of Social Security and then Centrelink) is a purely formalised one that attempts to capture the value to society of something real I did and then expresses that value in the numeraire (money) which in turn supposedly allows us to equate many incommensurable things. I won’t go down the commensurability / incommensurability rabbit hole here. Suffice it to say that attempted justifications which hold that money can measure everything and allow all “things”, even including human subjective and ethical values, to be equated in quantities of money are essentially absurd claims. Such claims become extremely tenuous, and indeed downright absurd, when considered empirically or scientifically, ontologically (what exists and in what manner does it exist?) and axiologically. Axiology is the philosophical study of value. It includes questions about the nature and classification of values including real, formal or ethical / moral philosophy values (Last two definitional sentences more or less lifted from Wikipedia.)

    In summary, I am saying that there is no way to objectively measure my real (and ethical) contributions to society over my adult paid-work lifetime, so there is no way to say what my “fair” retirement date was/should have been nor what my fair “superannuation”… erm Basic Income rate is or should be. I am on Basic Income essentially and for me to claim otherwise and to claim that other people, say young people, should not get Basic Income or some equivalent when they need it and on roughly the same non-hassle conditions as I do, would be the height of hypocrisy on my part. The best form of a Universal Basic Income or the possibility of solving the problem in another manner like Bill Mitchell’s Job Guarantee, still exercises my thinking. I also leave aside going down that rabbit hole any further here.

    Now what have I done while retired? First, I became a house husband and cooked, cleaned, shopped, ran the household, picked up the kids from school and did all parental duties while my wife was at work. In addition, I provided visiting care for my ageing parents at that time, did all their shopping and took them to all their medical appointments. This is all unpaid work of course in standard economic terms. I note here that if anyone has a family, there will always be family duties for anyone beyond school age (and often for some of school age in poor families, ill fortune and illness-visited families and so on). Life and duty will never leave one alone.

    Later, with more spare time we traveled when my wife retired. My wife has always had the travel bug which luckily (for us) we more or less satiated before the COVID-19 bug. I enjoy travel too albeit less than the good wife and I really dislike expending what to me are quite large amounts of money for the one-off, relatively fleeting joys of travel. For a middle class and somewhat stick-in-the-mud person like me, world travel is almost like burning money (in the opportunity cost sense).

    I also engaged in hobbies where I cooperated with people in the ludic manner. That might sound rude but it refers to culture, fun and games. My main thing was/is certain strategic games which are online real time strategy games. I modified one of these computer games for a group of multiplayer team game aficionados who wanted to play a modified version which de-emphasized early rapid tactics to a degree and put more emphasis on long-term strategic play. We old people are slow at clicking mouse buttons but we can sometimes still think fairly well. 😉

    My point here is to agree with you. Most people given spare time find lots of things they both have to do (duties) and they want to do (labors of love, hobbies, culture, fun.) They most often can work really hard at these unpaid duties, volunteering and chosen activities/hobbies for example. The myth that people need the capitalist wage slave system and the capitalist selfish, self-interst, private property system to make them enterprising, useful, hard working, engaged and “virtuous” is just that; a whopping great self-serving myth promoted by the 1%. We can and should utterly reject neoliberal capitalism and market fundamentalism. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for regulated markets and a kind of market socialism which would have to embrace worker cooperatives and reject corporations. Professor R.D, Wolff is probably the best to read on that score. You can also watch his talks on Youtube.

  12. Don. Great post. Agree with all of it. I would add: the consequence of more and more of production being done by machines ought to be things like the UBI. If Amazon warehouses are completely filled with robots then why shouldn’t the previously employed workers (and of course all people) get an UBI so they can pursue other things in their life?

  13. I have only read the abstract to the UBI paper, I only have one free download left.
    , so my criticism may be inappropriate but what the devil do lottery winnings have to do with a UBI.

    Do they look at any actual UBI experiences (admittedly loosely defined) such as the Alaska oil revenues distribution or the one described here Why do the poor make such poor decisions? ?

    Have they looked at any of the pilot UBI projects such as te ones in Finland or the ones in the Canadian provinces of Maniutoba or Ontario. These last two are incompete in Ontario and only partially analyzed in Manitoba so not great but it would be nice if they seem aware of them.

  14. Nice chart from Bloomberg and IEEFA:

    It’s basically good news, but also a puzzle. Why has investment in renewables been flat for a decade, while that in electric cars and recently hydrogen has shot up? Wind and solar energy is vastly less risky. My solar panels came with a 25-year guarantee from Hyundai, far longer than for any other appliance I could buy. The same holds at scale. Developers of wind and solar farms can secure 20-year offtake PPAs as soon as they break ground. Technical progress means that $300bn buys a lot more capacity today than ten years ago, but you would also expect substitution to speed up, and investment volumes to shift from fossil energy. This has not yet happened. Maybe this time?

  15. @John I wouldn’t even bother with reasoning based on such obvious flawed studies..Lottery players and winners are the worst distorted sample imaginable, for well anything in general and finances in particular. Usually playing a lottery suggest there is something wrong in the first place, and winning does weird things with peoples brains.

  16. James Wimberley,

    Gee m8, I guess markets are not working. Why am I not surprised? I think we expect too much of markets. Markets are great for exchanging. That is an important task but it is not everything, not by a long chalk. Markets cannot make the kind of predictions we need. The predictions we need are those from the hard sciences. Markets cannot make the kind of decisions we need. Such decisions are the preserve of weighing multiple incommensurate human and natural values. Decisions on incommensurate and disparate values simply cannot be made by reducing everything to a money calculus.

    For the task of saving the world from catastrophic climate change we needed ethical, democratic and scientific statism, also called democratic socialism. I use the past tense. We probably have passed the point of no return. It is now too late, most likely. We must keep trying, however. There still may be some slim hope and giving up makes failure certain.

  17. The news on SARSCov-2 (which causes COVID-19 disease) just gets worse and worse and worse. First, a stem cell biology letter sent to the editor of nature dot com.

    “An evidence that SARS-Cov-2/COVID-19 spike protein (SP) damages hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells in the mechanism of pyroptosis in Nlrp3 inflammasome-dependent manner”

    I do not know the status of this letter in terms of peer review and attempts to replicate tests and outcomes. However, there is enough of concern in it for any person facing major surgery in the near future and/or recovering from recent major surgery. Should or should not a person in such a situation have a COVID-!9 vaccination or vaccinations? My GP and my specialist both dodged answering this question or even offering an opinion. One can understand why. They know that they don’t know, for certain at least. This is because the science (meaning the empirical facts) is/are far from fully known yet. It’s a new virus and a new area of research.

    The issues relate firstly to blood clots: more common after surgery anyway and also produced by some COVID-19 vaccines albeit at a very low incidence. But how would the incidence change when affected by these factors combined. For example, might the risks be additive or multiplicative? The second set of issues relate to the generation process for new blood cells and the signs that the spike protein (SP) coded for by the vaccines is itself an “agent” which attacks (stem) cells in this process and has inflammatory ramifications. A third set of issues, not alluded to in this paper, relate to SARSCoV2’s propensity (reported early) to promote abnormal blood vessel and capillary growth / re-growth: certainly likely to be an issue after both extensive and fine surgery. Whether spike protein plays a role in this phenomenon I do not know. I do not even know if this early reported phenomenon has been confirmed, though I could look it up again.

    I write the above, to add a note to the many ways that SARSCoV2 can affect the lives and decisions of vulnerable people or people who suddenly become vulnerable because of a nascent medical condition which surprises and/or shocks them. Ignoring SARSCoV2 and letting it rip through the population sooner or later or ever (the first time or many times) is a recipe for playing dice with any and everybody’s lives at odds dangerously unknown and rightly unacceptable to all likely or even possibly vulnerable persons.

    Further Thoughts.

    I continue on to say (and it’s not unrelated) that we face in the nearly immediate future a phenomenon we might call the “vaccination paradox” in relation to COVID-19. This in my definition will be the paradox that vaccination of an inadequate percentage of the population for so-called “herd immunity” may perhaps paradoxically make the remaining unvaccinated persons less safe, not more safe. Let us bear in mind that the unvaccinated now and for quite a while into Australia’s future will consist of far more than just antivaxers and the vaccine hesitant. They will also consist of people who cannot advisedly get vaccinated now or ever, due to;

    (a) Australia’s lagging vaccine rollout; or
    (b) Other medical conditions of temporary or permanent duration; or
    (c) Other reasons (like “no vaccine yet approved for cohort “).

    The “vaccination paradox” could arise basically because of the rapid mutation of SARSCov2 and what that means in terms of the rapidly evolving situation. First, some terms;

    (1) vaccine efficacy means how well it works in trials.
    (2) vaccine effectiveness means how well it in the real world.

    Vaccine effectiveness as a term is now used in two senses, at least since the arrival of this pandemic. We could call them total vaccine effectiveness and partial vaccine effectiveness. To make more precise definitions here of how the term “effectiveness” is now used, in public discourse and even scientific discourse in relaion to COVID-19:

    (i) Total vaccine effectiveness means it totally prevents infection for life or for a significant duration of years after which it can be re-activated by a booster. If a vaccine is totally effective on you, you cannot catch the disease and you cannot transmit he disease. Such a vaccine may be totally effective on say 95% of the population. That with just a few other likely temporary measures would confer herd immunity, squash an epidemic and maybe even lead to effective eradication.

    (ii) Partial vaccine effectiveness means it prevents serious disease or death of the person vaccinated. This is the kind of effectiveness the Astrazenca and Pfizer vaccines are demonstrating in practice and even then only for 60% to 90% of the population depending on the vaccine and the variant. You can still get sick, you can still test positive, and quite likely, might still be able to pass on the disease.

    All this means that if people get effective protection in the second sense only (which is what is happening) then it is very likely, if the society fully opens up like the renewed idiocy we are now seeing in the UK, lots of the unvaccinated may still get sick and die. They, as a cohort could be made less safe unless people still behave very circumspectly and considerately. Behave circumspectly and considerately? Who am I kidding? That won’t happen. I will have to totally lock down for another half a year at least. I don’t particularly mind that. I am a misanthropic hermit and I have the resources. But one unlucky essential outing, like to the Eye Hospital, could still kill or maim me. Not happy with people who minimized this disease and still minimize it in the face of all evidence.

  18. I have known and lived with lots of dropouts ,rejects , misfits ,outsiders ,damaged ,confused and lost people .They are the worst nightmare of Conservative elites. They are a generally untapped well of creativity and energy ,people like that are responsible for a lot of histories bright spots .They benefit from space and security in their youth and early adult years . If they get it they sometimes spend time doing things which can look like a stupid waste of time ,or downright dangerous, to the mainstream . Like I did ,they might just take time out from everything to sort themselves out . I am not sure I have ever met anyone who just did nothing .If its any consolation most of them did, one way or another ,end up making a standard easily recognisable contribution to society as well – like further education ,tax paying work ,getting a mortgage, having children etc. In this world anyone not doing tax paying work has a question mark over them .

    The Centre for Global Development says there have been 4 million excess deaths in India .A study in Niger sampled 1 in 5 bodies at morgues over several months and found more than 80 % had unrecorded covid .My Indian friends cousin died back home ( a Punjabi ) from what he called ‘lack of oxygen’ .He was 50 odd and had no health problems and wasnt tested for covid .I think we get about 60000 flu cases in a normal year ,after letting it rip we will be getting that many covid cases every day.

  19. …” What is perhaps most notable is that productivity as it is currently measured does not account for climate change.”

    Any bouquets or brickbats for above “does not account for climate change” statement?

    Is “as it is currently measured” the key? And robots?

    I may be wrong (!) yet I think highest avg productivity of human at 14Celcius. Can’t find link.

    “A Better Boom
    How to Capture the Pandemic’s Productivity Potential

    “Another reason for optimism is that in 2020, a year that saw the darkest economic days of the pandemic, 24 percent more new businesses were created in the United States than in 2019. Europe lagged behind the United States on this metric, with new business creation staying roughly flat in 2020 in France, Germany, and the United Kingdom and declining by more than 15 percent in Italy and Spain. If the American increase in business dynamism persists, however, it should contribute to more productivity growth.

    “Moreover, long-neglected problems, including the falling share of firms’ income going to workers, rising inequality, and the long-term decline in private investment, could drag down demand. Roughly 60 percent of the post-pandemic productivity gains that we estimate could come from innovations and organizational restructuring—the one percentage point of acceleration per year between now and 2024—would stem from firm-level measures, such as automation, designed to cut labor and other business costs. Unless firms do more to boost the volume or value of their output and help workers transition by acquiring new skills, the drive for efficiency will risk generating productivity gains through a vicious, rather than a virtuous, cycle, undermining wages and jobs and weakening consumption-driven demand and investment.”…

    JAMES MANYIKA is Chair and Director of the McKinsey Global Institute.

    MICHAEL SPENCE, winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize in Economics, is Philip H. Knight Professor and Dean Emeritus at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business.

  20. For TECotP & ubi JQ?

    And. Bring back JobKeeper.

    US focus. Heavyweights below say;
    …” the likelihood of large earnings declines among low-earning workers was not only smaller than during the Great Recession, but also smaller than in 2019.”

    “Earnings Shocks and Stabilization During COVID-19

    – Jeff Larrimore
    Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
    – Jacob Mortenson
    Joint Committee on Taxation, US Congress
    – David Splinter
    Joint Committee on Taxation

    Date Written: June 29, 2021

    “This paper documents the magnitude and distribution of U.S. earnings changes during the COVID-19 pandemic and how fiscal relief offset lost earnings. We build panels from administrative tax data to measure annual earnings changes. The frequency of earnings declines during the pandemic were similar to the Great Recession, but the distribution was very different. In 2020, workers starting in the bottom half of the distribution were more likely to experience large annual earnings declines and a similar share of male and female workers had large earnings declines. While most workers experiencing large annual earnings declines do not receive unemployment insurance, over half of beneficiaries were made whole in 2020, as unemployment insurance replaced a median of 103 percent of their annual earnings declines. After incorporating unemployment insurance, the likelihood of large earnings declines among low-earning workers was not only smaller than during the Great Recession, but also smaller than in 2019.”

    “Keywords: COVID-19, wage earnings, stimulus checks, unemployment insurance, countercyclical policy”

    SSRN: or

  21. Work doesn’t connect people to society. Human relationships do. Paid work is just one of many human relationships and not a very good one at that when its hierarchies are based on power, not on competence-ranks being benignly exercised and knowledge being freely passed on. Beyond the point where paid work does real and necessary stuff, it’s just make-work and power-rank generation and maintenance work. About 50% of paid work in a modern economy is make-work, also called bull-shit jobs. We who have done paid work know that from the 50% (approx.) of bullshit work the system forced us to do.

  22. Here we go now. Here it comes: Biden’s greenwash new deal just as was plainly laid out in his electoral platform.

    DOE Quietly Backs Plan for Carbon Capture Network Larger Than Entire Oil Pipeline System
    Obama Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and major labor group AFL-CIO are behind the “blueprint” for a multi-billion dollar system to transport captured CO2 — and offer a lifeline to fossil fuel plants.
    DOE Quietly Backs Plan for Carbon Capture Network Larger Than Entire Oil Pipeline System
    BySharon KellyonJul 18, 2021 @ 04:00 PDT

  23. Great – (alarming) – Covid delta twitter thread – more varients. “Once you’ve generated a lot of vaccine-resistant viruses, where do you go?” from “Why England’s COVID ‘freedom day’ alarms researchers” below.

    Via 30 post twitter thread:

    “But transmissibility like Delta makes that unlikely. And we should remember that antigenic drift is real, and will likely break SARS-CoV-2 out of sterilizing immunity over time anyway. This isn’t measles. 11/n

    “Quote Tweet
    Jasnah Kholin – 8964 – ACAB – · Jul 17
    “secondly, CoV antigenic drift is capable of giving us a virus capable of evading sterilizing immunity & giving us a nasty cold for a few days. this is not the same as an immunologically novel virus.”

    One of the many linked studies;

    “Why England’s COVID ‘freedom day’ alarms researchers

    “Easing restrictions amid rising infections raises the risk of new variants emerging and risks the health of those who are not vaccinated, say researchers around the world.

    “One of the gravest concerns is that if England’s number of infections grows as high as anticipated — some forecast up to 100,000 new infections per day over the summer — the chances of a variant emerging with even greater vaccine evasion are greatly increased. “All the experience we have with viruses”, says virologist Richard Tedder at Imperial College London, “is that if you let them replicate in a partially immune population, you will select inevitably for [vaccine] escape variants.”

    “So far, vaccines have mostly held up well against the concerning variants. But if more variants appear, this could cease to be true, at which point vaccines will need to be redesigned. “Why, at this point in time, with the virus on the rise again, are we prepared to rely on vaccines with the knowledge that if the vaccines fail then we’re going to have to rebuild them?” Tedder asks. More death and long COVID, although seriously concerning, are minor problems compared to wiping out the efficacy of any vaccines, he says. “Once you’ve generated a lot of vaccine-resistant viruses, where do you go?”

    Nature 595, 479-480 (2021)

  24. Ikon

    Nature does conduct a peer review on most of its material.

    The article outlines the risks associated with both long Covid and latent Covid infection and clearly demonstrates that herd immunity by infection is not, at this point, a viable option.

    Given the degree of uncertainty I would think that a vaccination rate of 90% would be reasonable however due to the proliferation of anti vaxxers etc I think covid will be around for years, killing or permanently disabling the unvaccinated.

  25. I should add that the interpretation of these articles is better done by those qualified to do so.

  26. akarog,

    This article illuminates our discussion.

    The article does say;

    “Now, a major new study shows that the virus spike proteins (which behave very differently than those safely encoded by vaccines) also play a key role in the disease itself.”

    This statement that the integral spike proteins (SP) of a full “crown” behave very differently than those safely encoded by vaccines is something I need to check. The article further notes;

    In the new study, the researchers created a “pseudovirus” that was surrounded by SARS-CoV-2 classic crown of spike proteins, but did not contain any actual virus.”

    Now, in my understanding, a virus particle of SARS-CoV-2 is nothing more than a crown, envelope and encapsulated RNA. If the envelope is relatively innocuous in itself, then by elimination only the Crown of spikes and the contained RNA and/or what it encodes (more virus particles) and its full process of said hijacking of cell machinery are the only harmful things. In this analysis, the spikes are a big part of the cells ability to deliver damage. The other big part is making cells die and burst to release many more virus particles.

    The earlier article I linked to in my earlier post suggested that (full) spike protein (SP) but not a whole crown of same was used in ex-vitro experiments; experiments with cells outside the.body. But later that paper references another paper to say;

    “Next, since as reported in an elegant paper that exposure of human HSPCs to SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 derived recombinant SP inhibits the growth of hematopoietic clonogeneic progenitor cells [3], we performed clonogeneic assays…”

    This mentions experiments with recombinant SP which means SP made by recombinant methods. “Recombinant protein is a manipulated form of protein, which is generated in various ways to produce large quantities of proteins, modify gene sequences and manufacture useful commercial products.” – biologicscorp dot com.

    Thus the full spike protein is “made by recombinant methods”. Does that mean it is identical or different to wild spike protein as a stand alone protein? I do not know the answer to question but quite likely a full spike protein is not a full spike. Again, I do not know the answer to that question. I will keep looking. I imagine the developers understand all this and did not make what for them would have been a rookie error: namely encoding for full spikes in the vaccine DNA or mRNA packet. That does not mean that even a spike fragment of SP would be wholly innocuous. After all, it has to stimulate an immune reaction. But as I say I will keep looking. I am not saying AZ ad Pfizer are unsafe. I am questioinign how safe they are for pre-op and post-op people with regard to major syrgery. The national guidelines appear sparse and claim without citations or evidence in the public access site, just don’t have COVID-19 vaccination one week before of one week after major surgery. That looks a bit slim to me. I passed a cellular biology subject many years ago but I certainly don’t have a medical or medical science degree in anything let alone in virology or immunology.

    I simply feel that the authorities over-simplify a complex subject for public consumption in order not confuse people but also to almost patronizingly and manipulatively placate people. They do so by glossing over potential issues (which admittedly might otherwise be blown out of proportion by the non-expert and the anti-vaxxer fringe alike). I admit that a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. Maybe that’s my problem. But my trust in corporations and governments in the pocket of corporations was blown a long time ago.

  27. Continuation of post above. Okay, the developers did not make a rookie mistake as I stated would be unlikely.

    “The spike proteins from the virus and the ones generated by the vaccines are “essentially the same,” McLellan, the spike protein researcher at the University of Texas at Austin, told us, noting that they have the same function, structure and way of processing.

    But, he said, there is “one key difference,” in that the spikes encoded by the vaccines “contain 2 amino acid changes that help stabilize the spike in its initial conformation and help prevent the spike from undergoing a conformational change that is required to facilitate membrane fusion.”

    That’s because the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein is a shape-shifter. To fuse its viral membrane with the host cell membrane it substantially changes its shape from an unstable pre-fusion state to a stable post-fusion state. While previously working on a vaccine for MERS, a disease caused by another coronavirus, McLellan and others discovered that by adding two proline molecules to the spike protein, they could lock it into its pre-fusion state, triggering a more effective immune response and preventing cell entry. The same harmless mutation, called 2P, as in two proline molecules, is used in the SARS-CoV-2 vaccines.”

    However, they still do appear to sometimes make incautious knowledge claims which can get refuted by further evidence.

    “Walt, a pathology professor, added there is no evidence that the spike protein is a pathogenic protein that causes damage in several tissues.”

    Actually that statement is obsoleted by recent research UNLESS he was referring to vaccine generated spike protein, which he may well have been. Sorry folks, I have to check these things. My trust in the neoliberal corporation / neoliberal government nexus is very low.

  28. Many people also never do anything useful besides living for society. I´m in that category, too. Guess that could still change in my case, but in many other cases it is obvious that will never change. I´m likely eligible for a multitude of rather costly support services and if i were a long time welfare receipt i would probably even be pressured into using those services.

    The biggest category of those services is labour market “retraining” of various kinds. That typically involves sitting around 40 hours a week, while being watched by a social work BA. Usually not the brightest or most experienced of the flock, since those retraining measures are done by the lowest bidder, which pay their staff ridiculous bad.

    Still not cheap, having one person watch 10 for 40 hours a day. The retraining measures for anybody with a mental health record then typically involve either literally sitting around doing nothing or doing rather dumb mechanic tasks. At best, one might get some word training, albeit everyone will get the same low level, no matter the prior knowledge. Or one might have to present a PowerPoint about a random topic.

    Some other, often mandated “retraining measures”, even those targeting all long term unemployed, no matter why that is the case, consist of painting mandala for a couple of weeks, always for 40 hours a week. If you are late painting mandalas or to surfing on the internet after you have done your days tasks in 20minutes, or put your head on the desk, you might be called unfit for the labour market if you are lucky. If you are unlucky, your welfare will be cut.

    If you think there is any limit to whom they like to send off to those ridiculous authoritarian boredom mills, you are wrong. I did a rather excellent MA. When i made the mistake of asking the employment agency for support, the result was that the agency did nothing for almost a year, not even suggesting a single job. I had to write them again and again to even make them notice i´d still like them to help me. Then all the usual measures that are already questionable for the more typical target group were suggest to me. I said no thanks.

    A friend of mine actually did go through all off it after he already had a graduate degree in theology: 2 Years of dummy training for the mentally ill, 2 years of retraining as a clerk, then trying to find a job.
    Zero, chance, he´s mentally ill after all and now he also spent two years doing mentally ill dummy training which made him even less employable.

    Since he is not dependent on government money, he could also do stuff the authoritarian control bureaucracy does not . So he did a finance ba and is now doing a finance MA. My guess is he will stay unemployed. He´s in the mentally ill box after all with long cv gaps to proof it. I his case even in a somewhat visibly being bad with people way.

    Even a finance MA won´t heal that in the eyes of employers. Still a heck lot more useful than all the employment agency retraining. It is rather obvious the problem is societies discrimination (and a labour market that is generally not in equilibrium, no matter what the faked official unemployment rate says, giving employers ample opportunity to cherry pick based on more or less stupid criteria), not any lack of skill that could be compensated by training.

    Another one went through the system with a far less stellar prior schooling record: She was still bored by the conventional skill training part. The attempts by social workers with no formal psychological training to work on her social anxiety with authoritarian pressure (you have to do a presentation in front of class now etc.) sent her in a couple of panic attacks and more severe than usual depressive episodes. No progress, one horrible job obviously inapropiate for her mix of conditions before christmas in a packaging center and now considered unfit to work, which seems correct in this case, due to the anxiety disorder. Naturally she is now supposed to do stupid labour at a disabled workshop. Because unfit to work a regular job does not mean the government thinks you should not work, rather one should stay at a disabled workshop at a cost of some 2k a month. Naturally, she is supposed to do idiot tasks, because nothing says cognitive deficit is the problem like social anxiety and depression.

    The evidence that all those costly authoritarian control measures do anything positive for people’s mental health or employment prospects is zero. There is however ample evidence that autonomous financial security is great for people’s mental health. So why pay pointless pseudo training that costs thousands a month, why pay a social worker visiting 9 hours a week while at the same time penny-pinching, sniffing through your checking account and cutting welfare?

  29. hix,

    I hear you and agree with you. Your testimony makes sense to me. People need personalized mental health help, not one-size-fits-all institutionalization in its various forms. Proper treatment is costly, in conventional terms, yet in the long run it saves the person and society immensely greater costs: not to mention the mental anguish it helps people overcome.

    If you are at odds with society at any level, it is because, quite likely, you think differently, not wrongly. You are in a sense a rebel and a thinker, not a “yes-man”, not a dull and unimaginative serf of the system.

    I try not to quote Bob Dylan too much these days but he kind of fits here:

    “I’ll go along with the charade
    Until I can think my way out
    I know it was all a big joke
    Whatever it was all about.”

    There is a lot of truth in this. Civilization, society, and many of their shibboleths and customs are just a big joke. Many things held true are patently absurd when examined properly. In particular, I mean all the rules and rituals in place to maintain power hierarchies. They are there to protect and enable people higher on the heap than you.

    “Though the rules of the road have been lodged,
    It’s just people’s games you got to dodge.”

    Many of these things in society are just games. However, they can be deadly or life-chances destroying games. People live and die for the games, all for power.

    In my gainful employment, early on, I tried to go the extra mile. I would take work home for no pay: devise new spreadsheet tools, write short reports exposing calculation and processing faults in the main processing systems and suggest new ideas and ways the office could be operated better and deliver its support to the organization better. I didn’t want to be a manager but I did want my section to be run and managed better for both altruistic and self-interest reasons. I saw how many, many good ideas (not just mine) were ignored for no better reason than because they would have affected the power and privileges of those higher-up.

    In the end, I gave up trying to go the extra mile by doing these things. I was eventually “punished”, in a sense, for thinking outside the box and being a nuisance (meaning thinking for myself). I was given long, tedious data analyses to do and long, tedious (to other people) reports to write with pages and pages of tables and graphs. I revel in writing long screeds as much as Br’er Rabbit revels being thrown into the briar patch. The tedious data analyses I liked much less but I devised my tricks.

    I devised scripts and macros (including “screen-scraping” scripts in those days), to automate my data collections, analyses and productions of tables and graphs. My technology illiterate managers, which was not all managers, thought I was brilliant (it really wasn’t that clever) because I did not tell them how I did it. “That report must have taken you a week to research and write. I love these graphs.” (The graphs were colorful, clear and did actually present the data well. And yes maybe they were just trying to butter me up.) “This must have taken you a week to produce.” Actually, the data collection and tabulation took a couple of hours with programmed scripts, while I created the report template with blank sections ready for graphics and word analysis of the data. I did not tell them this. A day of thinking and writing enabled a proper analysis and wriiting-up. I had spare time and discreetly went walkabout at times to “office-socialise” or run personal errands in town.

    The smarter managers knew exactly what I was up to. They were perfectly happy. “We let a very disgruntled and angry man work alone, do it his own way and he comes up with the goods in spades. Who cares what he does the rest of the time? And when we call on him to do the genuinely tedious stuff that really DOES take all day, or all week, he comes to the party and keep his head down. It’s quid pro quo and he knows it.”

    “Go along with the charade until you can think your way out..”

  30. I 100% agree with this rant in HuffPost.

    “The Tokyo Olympics Are A Moral Disaster”

    Our Premier of Qld. went to Tokyo and the IOC to beg for the 2032 Olympics like begging for a bone. She was “forced” (not really, she chose the hairshirt for herself) to abase herself before the IOC, beg for the games and then cop the most insultingly patronizing and bullying behavior from John Coates.

    Our Premier had to endure the ritual humiliation demanded of her by the IOC Committee when (likely) nobody else in the world wanted the ruddy games anyway. The penny has dropped for many governments. Nine times out of ten they are disaster for the host nation anyway. Let’s hope the Olympics and the IOC are defunct before 2032.

    To be holding the Olympics during a mass pandemic already killing millions of people, against the wishes of the Japanese people and against epidemiological advice and medical warnings is a moral disgrace. There has to be a fair chance some super-strain will emerge by combining aspects of multiple global variants gathered in one place. The athletes’ village looks like a giant hotel quarantine building. We know how well that works… not!

    Have human beings under corporate neoliberalism lost all their brains? It’s beginning to look like it.

  31. How will the accidental premier pay for the Queensland circus other than by her being kicked out and later parachuted into a more lucrative career post politics? Apart from coming down heavy on the poor, there will be more coal, coal, gas and even more coal exported. The ALP’s huge new Townsville coal loader will be delivering for the northern Galilee Basin mines by then. The QIC’s 10% stake in Dalrymple Bay Infrastructure’s (DBI) key liability, the Dalrymple Bay Terminal (DBT) coal loader, will provide ready spending money for sure. But those are just small change in comparison to the rise in royalties flooding into the Premier and Party for Coal’s coffers faster than downflooding in the Brisbane CBD due to climate destroyed severe weather events (but not as fast as they can flood into positions on fossil miners’ boards). For example, “the coal shipped through DBT accounts for around 35 per cent of Queensland coal royalty revenues, which comprised approximately 7 per cent of the state’s revenue 2018-20191.”

    PARADIGM SHIFT JULY 16, 2021 – on FM 102.1 4ZZZ Fridays 12:00 – 1:00 PM
    This week’s show is all about the Olympics! We hear from Megumi Hoshino who has been involved protesting the Tokyo Olympics, and we chat to Greens MP Amy McMahon and aboriginal leader Boe Spearim about the possibility of Brisbane hosting the games in 2032.

  32. Tail wagging the dog;

    “Study: the biggest barrier to solar expansion is that you can’t price gouge

    …” In that way, the Environmental Impact Litigation Act sort of proves the point of the recent Joule study: the biggest barrier to wide-scale solar expansion is that no one’s found a way to rip enough people off to make it worth their while.

    Solar and wind grid system value in the United States: The effect of transmission congestion, generation profiles, and curtailment [Dev Millstein, Ryan Wiser, Andrew D. Mills, Mark Bolinger, Joachim Seel, Seongeun Jeong / Joule]

    The Lurking Threat To Solar Power’s Growth [James Temple / MIT Technology Review]

  33. Scott Alexander says in “Things I Learned Writing The Lockdown Post”…

    “Whenever I talked to Aussies or New Zealanders, they just really wanted to stress that they had ascended beyond such primitive mortal concerns, defeated the virus their own way, and were somewhat annoyed that the rest of us were squabbling about the relative merits of our inferior plans rather than focusing on how great they were. Sorry, guys.”

    I’d say he will write a post now about things he leant after he wrote the post about the post he wrote about Aussies & NZ re delta lockdowns. Interesting watching his thought process and ability to notice things we may not notice matter. A lot. ymmv.

  34. Pulling the rope sideways works in the physical world of course. It has to do with vectors and leverage. It also has a safety angle. I got my son to help me get a tree I was felling to fall the way I wanted it to fall. The method was tie a rope around tree high enough up the tree to pull the cut tree over. Tie the other end of the rope to a stump in the direction of the desired fall. Tie it taut. Tie a second rope to the middle of that rope and send son with long rope out at right angles to a point of safety.

    Cut tree with cuts intended to fell the tree the correct way. But the tree had a growth bias and lean which was going to try to make it fall another way so its crown would fall diametrically opposite where my son was standing and pulling. Son puts force on his rope, pulling main rope sideways and pulls falling tree towards desired falling position. Accurate within 10 degrees plus or minus. Of course, this was no forest giant, just a young regrowth tree. The method works because of vector leverage, if I can call it that. It essentially creates a gearing system.

    However, how can “pulling the rope sideways” work in a political economy situation? The first assumption seems flawed: namely that the major parties pull in opposite directions. Do they really? Look at Australia. Both major parties have long supported fossil fuels in general and coal in particular. This was and is due to the large dual party donations made by these vested interests to the major parties. Both major parties also have supported neoliberalism for at least 30 years and maybe longer.

    In any case, do policies behave like physical vectors? I am not sure. Maybe there is a way but when the major parties are both pulling the same way how could it work? Then again, the metaphor and recommendation (in some quarters) for “wedge politics” also relies on a physical metaphor. It seems we grasp at concrete physical representations when struggling with non-physical system problems. If two parties are pulling the same way, first you wedge them and split them so they pull opposite ways. if these ways are say at right angles to the direction you want, then you and your pressure group or activist group get another “rope” and pull sideways. Lots of metaphors. Lots of assumptions Metaphor and assumption overload? How would any of this work in practice? wonder.

    Did just read through it. This is weird, all of it. The mention Australia/New Zealand explicitly just to ignore them part is only the most obvious of it. Not sure if it is worth discussing beyond that big blind spot, but it’s so fun to do!

    The entire thing is like that map the economist once published: How Americans see the world: HUGE America, then the other British settler colonies and Western Europe as small add-ons, everything else barely visible (hum, maybe China also gets a slightly bigger spot?). Scandinavia is a thing, for god’s sake! Cultural and institutional differences as well as similarities are real and important. They are not just a minor noise variable in huge regression games that makes European nations less neat than US states as data points.

    Don’t use Czechia of all places as a fill in to represent universal truth about human Westerner behaviour in an efficient frontier game. If the game thinks the actual response there is that close to the efficient one, your model is wrong !$4&&&, no more regressions needed, failed skimming the news to one case. A case that is far to close to home for me to be ignored as the major $&(/&%( it is in a quite literal sense, by the way.

  36. Sweden is such a tragedy. There was so much potential in its culture to have a great pandemic response. Might have even pulled it off to do it with sky-high compliance rates to non-binding recommendations. It would still be utterly wrong to think such a success model would travel to any other western nation. Since the fool in charge decided he´ would rather dog whistle young people to be particular careless to achieve that mythical herd immunity thing and then turn around to pretend he did not, we will never know how a coherent government message regarding voluntary constraint could or could not have worked out.

    At some point, the realistic perception of Sweden doing quite a few things better than most other nations (in general not regarding covid specifically) seems to have turned into a toxic Swedish exceptionalism narrative where people rallied around the flag behind an incompetent leader. Many Swedes seem to have started to care more about how the Swedish Sonderweg was perceived abroad than how well it worked or how it could be improved, treating critical local voices with some outside connection as deviants in a national PR campaign.

  37. Dr Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency, told the UK’s Channel 4 News:

    “We are extremely clear here: if we want to reach net zero target in 2050, namely to have a temperature increase, maximum 1.5 degrees Celsius, which would provide, still, a liveable planet for us, we have to reduce the consumption of oil, gas and coal substantially, and if we reduce the consumption of oil in line with what is needed to reach those targets, we will not need to invest in new oil or gas exploration or new coal mining. Very Clear. We do not need any more to explore, discover new oil reserves. The ones we have already today, are more than enough to meet the demand.”

    The net zero target for 2050 is far too late.
    The evidence I see indicates the Earth System will inevitably overshoot the 1.5 °C global mean warming threshold, and it’s likely before 2030. I’d suggest humanity will be lucky to prevent the Earth System overshooting 2 °C global mean warming threshold.
    See Table 1 in:

    But the rest of Dr Birol’s message is crystal clear. Are governments paying attention, or is this message far too inconvenient?

  38. Geoff Miell,

    The governments are not listening because these facts refute capitalism. They even refute the state capitalism of China. Nobody wants to hear that sort of “news”. It is not new news at all of course. Some people have been aware of the limits to growth and capitalism’s endless growth imperative for well over 40 years.

    The USA, as an example, is in an endless crisis now. Having 21 percent of all children in the United States in poverty is a crisis and an infrastructure graded D+ is also a crisis. Over that looms the climate crisis to which the USA has been the major contributor so far, even though China now emits more greenhouse gases than the USA each year. Adopting reforms of capitalism, say MMT principles and/or tax/welfare reforms would help, quite a lot in fact with social and infrastructure issues, but still would not solve the central crises of capitalism including climate change. Capitalism has to be abolished because its central crises (as contradictions internal and external) are first axiomatic and then emergent as theorems. Hence they are programmed, systematic, systemic and unavoidable while the axioms of capitalism are maintained. What do I mean by this?

    The basic rules (axioms) of conventional capitalism, especially as unfettered capitalism, are;

    (1) That private property ownership, as supported by state power, and as the power of private owners of real property, money and financial capital, be able to dispose of all real assets and resources except to the extent of state ownership, spending and regulation but then modified by the power of money and financial capital to influence and direct state ownership, spending and legislation against the wishes of the democratic majority.

    (2) That money be deemed able to value all things incommensurable as if they were commensurable except as ethics, legislation and custom manage to limit or alter.

    (3) That possession of money be deemed to be a sign of virtue, entitlement and the right to do anything wished up to the exchange value of the money except insofar as ethics, legislation and custom manage to limit or alter these entitlements and rights.

    (4) That private possession of money and capital be permitted to grow indefinitely except insofar as blah, blah, blah.

    From these axioms, and a knowledge of capitalist – worker relations, you could derive Thomas Piketty’s most famous conditional equation as a theorem. It is is interesting that nobody did, at least to my knowledge, not even PIkketty, who to his great credit derived it from a few hundreds years of empirical data from French and English economic history. What is the conditional theorem?

    If r (return on capital) is greater than g (economic growth) then inequality increases.

    This is a “theorem-etic” outcome of the axioms of capitalism as modified by the precise construction, in each capitalist jurisdiction, of owner / worker relations and the operations of state power. Indeed enough state taxing and welfare spending can operate against this tendency, even enough to halt it, at least for periods of time. In turn, the natural tendency of capitalists is to oppose state functions like taxing (capitalists) and giving welfare to the working poor, unemployed and otherwise indigent or marginalized persons. Capitalists approve of and lobby for “welfare for the rich” as low taxes for the rich, deductions, subsidies and so on for the rich.

    The empirical outcomes in the modern, developed capitalist systems have been a tendency to cycle with the cyclical pattern having special features related to depressions and wars, in the following way. In times of peace and relative prosperity, that is in periods of economic growth, Pikkety’s conditional theorem comes into play in the following form. If g is kept greater than r by means of rapid economic growth and/or by means of redistribution (taxes and welfare) then the system can continue to grow without crisis (excluding serious exogenous shocks). If growth fails or fails to be sufficient, due to secular (long run) stagnation or any other cause, endogenous or exogenous, then experience and history (empiricism) show that r becomes greater by r rising, g falling or a combination but probably mainly by g falling.

    But we entering a new phase of economic history, One where secular (long run) stagnation and secular (long run) decline are unavoidable because of resource limits, the limits to growth. It was long thought by many, including me, that the limits to growth would be directly about material resources (fossil fuels, minerals, timber etc. running low). This has turned out to be (mostly) incorrect. The limits have turned out to be planetary or biosphere system limits of geophysical, biophysical, biological and ecological natures, including the supply of eco-services. Climate change as AGW (Anthropogenic Global Warming) is the key example. Fossil fuel scarcity is not limiting us. We have an aver-abundance of fossil fuels easily capable of wrecking our climate at least a couple of times over, sending it over tipping points into runaway climate change (runaway for hundreds of thousands of years at least. It might re-equilibrate after that sort of time span and/or return to glacials and inter-glacials (which latter seems to favor modern humans and civilization).

    All of this indicates that unfettered, endless growth capitalism (meaning its prescriptions as axioms and its extant practices) is and will be totally impossible to maintain. If we attempt to maintain it we destroy the biosphere and its systems as a place capable of supporting human civilization, many other species (the 6th mass extinction is real and happening right now) and quite likely even homo sapiens.

    Endless growth capitalism is the only kind of capitalism possible. Capitalism is entirely predicated on endless growth. Without the g above r for long parts of the cycles of capitalism it would disintegrate into endless conflicts. Without a “healthy” r capitalism cannot replicate itself at the financial and political levels. Capitalism is impossible to maintain and completely doomed. Let’s not doom ourselves by trying to hang on to it.

  39. ATAGI appear to be using hindsight in their advice; they are now advocating AZ for all adults in Sydney giving capacity restraints of Pfizer as the main reason. At this rate it could be late November before there are sufficient numbers of vaccinations to influence infection rates.

  40. I don’t believe it is hindsight affecting ATAGI’s advice. It is actually the facts changing on the ground which has changed their advice.

    To give an example. When the odds of catching COVID-19 are equivalent to 100 cases a year among 10,000,000 people (near eradication) then those odds are 1 in 100,000. Then, if the odds of a person of a particular cohort dying when not vaccinated are 1 in a 100, the risk of mortality for that given person is 1 in 10,000,000. Let us accept that the odds of a blood clot death from the vaccine are 1 in 1,000,000 for that person. In this case it is safer not to get the vaccine. Admittedly, this ignores the exponential expansion potential of the virus and the chances of an outbreak with say the delta variant. However, assuming that our nation’s ring-fencing from the world and contact tracing/quarantining were all secure then the advice to wait just months for a safer vaccine is reasonable.

    But if the infection rate goes up to 10,000 a year then the odds change. The odds of catching COVID-19 are now 1 in 1,000 and the odds of dying 1 in 100,000. This is 10 times higher than the blood clot death risk. It is now sensible to get the slight clot risk vaccine immediately. Indeed the further risk of exponential rise is there. If the infection rate has gone up to 10,000 a year it could easily climb further to 100,000 a year.

    In the case of NSW, I think the NSW govt. and the Sydney – Canberra Liberal Party power nexus have been caught out as hypocrites. When Dan Andrews locked down he was Dictator Dan and he didn’t get the level of political and even new economic support now being given to Gladys B. and NSW. When Victoria was struggling, Gladys B. dissed their performance. When Sydney is struggling, it is suddenly a “national emergency”, in Gladys’ words. Of course, it IS a national emergency but this should also have been recognized when Melbourne was struggling. The LNP are playing politics far too much during this pandemic and only really protecting their own. The LNP are terrified their failure during this pandemic will see them all thrown out of office, and so they should be. Labor’s performance has not been perfect either but certainly not as egregious as that of the LNP.

  41. And a further reflection about opening up under COVID-19, especially now we have the delta variant.

    If anyone asks me rhetorically or otherwise “how many deaths should we accept” in relation to opening up, I am going to answer very sarcastically, “Oh, up until YOUR death. Does that sound reasonable?” But perhaps because I am in the middle of series of eye operations I had better not say that in person. I could scarcely afford a punch in the eye.

    There is a lot of nonsense written and spoken about “accepting deaths” by people who think they are not in the firing line of COVID-19. If they are correct, they are incredibly thoughtless, selfish or callous and incredibly poor at understanding the wider real issues. In addition, they may well be incorrect about their own assumed safety. The rate at which COVID-19 is mutating and some of the ultimate possibilities available to it, within the bounds of possibility, are seriously concerning.

    “… what happens when COVID-19 spreads through populations with minimal access to medicine and dramatically higher levels of poor nutrition, untended health problems and damaged immune systems? The age advantage will be worth far less to poor youth in African and South Asian slums.

    There’s also some possibility that mass infection in slums and poor cities could flip the switch on coronavirus’s mode of infection and reshape the nature of the disease. Before SARS emerged in 2003, highly pathogenic coronavirus epidemics were confined to domestic animals, above all pigs. Researchers soon recognized two different routes of infection: fecal-oral, which attacked the stomach and intestinal tissue, and respiratory, which attacked the lungs. In the first case, there was usually very high mortality, while the second generally resulted in milder cases. A small percentage of current positives, especially the cruise ship cases, report diarrhea and vomiting, and, to quote one report, “the possibility of SARS-CoV-2 transmission via sewage, waste, contaminated water, air conditioning systems and aerosols cannot be underestimated.

    The pandemic has now reached the slums of Africa and South Asia, where fecal contamination is everywhere: in the water, in the home-grown vegetables, and as windblown dust. (Yes, shit storms are real.) Will this favor the enteric route? Will, as in the case of animals, this lead to more lethal infections, possibly across all age groups?” – Mike Davis.

    We can NEVER open up again, in the way we were open before, IF COVID-19 remains pandemic and endemic throughout the globe. In such a situation COVID-19 becomes a scourge equal to, nay far greater than, the combined effects of malaria, TB, HIV, dengue, zika and the more serious influenzas. Would we accept TB, HIV, dengue, zika and bird flu in dangerous variants running rampant through our society non-stop. Of course not, unless we wanted to collapse our society. Why then we would we accept COVID-19 when we see how dangerous and dangerously mutable it is? Such a decision is the height of idiocy.

    The first chance to eradicate this virus was lost around about February-March 2020 by not putting in place global national border lock-downs. Now we are committed to the incredibly difficult path of having let it run rampant globally and in future killing many, many more millions of people and maybe even 100s of millions of people (the deaths have only started) AND then having to eradicate it globally: for eradicate it we must unless it fortuitously evolves into a benign form. The likelihood of this happening in the next 10 or even 20 years is quite low.

    There is currently little to no selection pressure for COVID-19 evolve into a more benign form. The selection pressures are, and will be for a long time to come, to evolve into forms;

    (a) more transmissible;
    (b) more able to transmit in asymptomatic stage;
    (c) more able to effect immune escape;
    more able to effect vaccine escape; and
    (d) more able to infect young people and children to a degree that generates more asymptomatic-stage infections passed on to others.

    This last selection pressure will be at best “indifferent” or un-selected one way or the other with reagrd to whether it affects the young person or child host by serious illness, long COVID-19 or death. Indeed, higher infectivity may go with higher harm to the young person or child. Then there is the possibility of evolution of the enteric infection route, though this just might be precluded by the virius’s total conformation and invective attributes. Does anyone know yet? I doubt it.

    These are all terrifying and real possibilities because near-idiots (correct term) from Donald Trump and Boris Johnson down to libertarian and neoliberal supporters of all ages have unleashed this scourge on us and all humanity when it was actually stoppable by best available epidemiological and preventive science and good-enough political economy.

  42. I really don’t know what to make of this. ARM have unveiled a working microprocessor – a clone of their tiny M0 chip – on a cheap plastic substrate. They are now talking of getting embedded processors on a trillion objects in a decade. Very nice quote:
    “As Arm research engineer James Myers told New Scientist: “It won’t be fast, it won’t be energy efficient, but if I’m going to put it on a lettuce to track shelf life, that’s the idea.” “

  43. Oh great plastic chips everywhere. Just when we are (barely) trying to stop plastics destroying the environment. The human race really is so unutterably stupid. Ditto for capitalism.

  44. A few days ago Victoria did over 700 door knocks in one day to check on people who were supposed to be in self quarantine .Only two weren’t home . Compliance counts .Hubris and false confidence from the top in NSW sets the wrong example.

    I would like to see big quarantine centers built and covid (along with the flu) kept out for 5 years until we know how this ends .Scientific advancements might mean that the quarantine time could be shortened ,and these centers will no doubt be useful again in the not to distant future for the next bug.

  45. sunshine, Correct on all counts.

    And now a poser for all thinkers who are socialist AND democratic. In relation to COVID-19 and libertarian, neofascist and supremacist thinkers and their violent protest and violent social/political disobedience, will the socialist and democratic left have to face the political need to reply with proportionate or greater force? I think the answer is yes. Reactionary and violent libertarians, neofascists and supremacists cannot be permitted to achieve their libertarian, neofascist and supremacist objectives by lies, attacks, force and violence which are their chief modus operandi.

    The term “Left Realism” is usually employed only in criminology. I leave people to research what it means in that discipline in theory and proposed practice. However, the underlying rationales for Left Realism in criminology apply to all of politics and political economy. An opponent determined to use violent force can push you to use violent force. On the protest side, peaceful protest and peaceful civil disobedience eschew violent force and destructiveness of all types which are criminal by legal definition. But where protest and disobedience become criminal then deterrence, arrest, charging, fineing and incarceration all become theoretically applicable and pragmatically necessary in some cases.

    Of course, the devil is in the detail. Fairly clearly, there may be just and unjust laws. And at times, justice or lack of it may be in the eyes of the beholder. But where a government is legitimate, democratic and concerned for the welfare of all citizens especially citizens who support and/or need that very democratic and socialist human welfare and equality position, then the government with its monopoly on legal force must act or be subverted, diminished or overthrown. The people will decide sooner or later by debate and democracy whether that government has acted within its legal and ethical remit.

    What I am referring to are of course the disgraceful demonstrations by the libertarians, neofascists and supremacists organized globally and taking part even in Australia cities. Many of these people are ignorant by nature or nurture (in many respects), willfully ignorant or cunningly manipulative of their rightful freedoms in seeking to overthrow rights and freedoms for others. The BLM protests were not equatable at all though perhaps unwise in their timing in some respects, relative to COVID0-19. (That may be considered patronizing and implicitly racist coming from a white guy like me. I will wear that.)

    Why not equatable? BLM protests are coming from a different position of much greater historical, systemic and contemporary injustice which continues in many respects, almost unabated. Studies and statistics show that BLM protests are largely peaceful unless infiltrated by neofascist, supremacist or anarchist elements. Left realists who recognize the institutions of democratic governance and institutionalized equality before law, now matter if still imperfect and evolving cannot realistically have any point of meeting with anarchists. Outright anarchy and ordered civilization at our current numbers and density scales are non-miscible.

    “93% of Black Lives Matter Protests Have Been Peaceful, New Report Finds” – Time, September 5, 2020.

    Black protestors have a number of incentives to be peaceful. One, they are dealt with more harshly by the police and courts and they are well aware of it. Two, they know peaceful protest is better for gaining allies, especially among more uptight, conservative, and yet still basically reasonable white people.(that last is not all white people of course). Libertarian, neofascist or supremacist ptotesters are often, though not exclusively white , in Western socitieis. They are highly aggressive, entitled and quick to resort to abuse or force, not least because they are treated with relative kid gloves by the predominantly white authorities. If black people had done en masse what Trump’s “brown-shirts” did in storming the capitol, there would have been many more fatal shootings and injuries to the protestors. I think we can say that without much danger of being wrong.

    A Left Realist would say, and I do say so as one, that no kid gloves at all ought be used in relation to responding to the any illegal, violent and highly inadvisable protests engaged in by these lumpenproletariat types known in our parlance as rednecks. They are ignorant, almost always incipiently violent and dangerous if they can get away with it. They also have a clear agenda that is, in many cases, patently neofascist. They must be dealt with, with the full but proportionate force of the democratic and socialist law and any nascent lurch to a neoifascist reactionary turn in our society, firmly prevented.

    Can I speak any plainer?

    “…Delta Plus, Lambda, and the third COVID wave
    Now, the “third wave” is expected to emerge from the Delta Plus variant (B.1.617.2.1/AY.1) that has appeared across 12 countries, including India, UK, Poland, Switzerland, Portugal, Russia, Japan, Nepal, China, Canada, Turkey, and the US… The new variants don’t have to be transported from another country by a carrier or infected person. It emerges from the extensive cycles of replication within the infected cohort.”

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