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

41 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. I’ve re-posted this from the last Monday Message Board because it really belongs in this one to my mind. Momentous and catastrophic beginnings are happening right now. The two that come to mind are the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change. To deal with COVID-19 first.

    l refer to this document which I summarize very, very briefly below as a few of the most salient points.

    Click to access S1335_Long_term_evolution_of_SARS-CoV-2.pdf

    More dangerous variants are now arising relatively rapidly and frequently. Delta is the most recent, notable example which has spread on a truly global scale.. Delta was first identified in India in December 2020 which equates to just one year, approximately, of viral evolution from the original strain.

    The report also canvasses the possibilities for evolutionary trajectories from this point in time. It turns out that multiple more dangerous variants are realistic possibilities short term whereas any relatively mild variant which dominates evolutionarily is UNLIKELY to appear in the short term to mid term. This is the opposite of most naive expectations that it COVID-19 will likely rapidly mutate to a mild version in short order. In other words, we should realistically expect much more bad news, over and over in the short to medium term, which could mean for up to several more years, at least.

    Here are some excerpts:

    “Scenario One: A variant that causes severe disease in a greater proportion of the
    population than has occurred to date. For example, with similar morbidity/mortality to
    other zoonotic coronaviruses such as SARS-CoV (~10% case fatality) or MERS-CoV
    (~35% case fatality)…
    Likelihood of increased severity phenotype: Realistic possibility.
    Impact: High. ”

    “Scenario Two: A variant that evades current vaccines…
    Likelihood: Realistic possibility.
    Impact: High for a completely new spike, medium/low if a spike from a seasonal CoV is

    “Scenario Three: Emergence of a drug resistant variant after anti-viral strategies…
    Likelihood: Likely – unless the drugs are used correctly. Impact: medium unless a scenario
    arises where drugs are needed more widely.”

    “Scenario Four: SARS-CoV-2 follows an evolutionary trajectory with decreased
    Likelihood: Unlikely in the short term, realistic possibility in the long term.

    To sum up, the evolutionary appearance of a variant with a 10% to 35% case fatality rate is a realistic probability. The evolutionary appearance of a variant or variants which evade current vaccines and/or anti-viral strategies is a realistic probability. Indeed, these latter two processes are already happening to degrees and to increasing degrees.

    A “miracle” early exit from this crisis is now highly unlikely. We will have to change the entirety of our thinking, our society and our economy to survive this. The combination of serious climate change effects and the COVID-19 pandemic are clearly civilization-threatening on a global scale. The systems, including capitalism and late stage neoliberal capitalism plus globalization plus production science in the service of political-economic power and naive techno-optimism have clearly brought us to this pass and equally make things demonstrably worse with every attempt at their continued application.

  2. Ikon said “To sum up, the evolutionary appearance of a variant with a 10% to 35% case fatality rate is a realistic probability.”

    Plus “These taxonomic results indicate that glacier ice has a diversity of unique viruses, consistent with, but much higher than, other environmental studies in oceans (52% unique genera) [37] and soils (61% unique genera) [71].

    “Glacier ice archives nearly 15,000-year-old microbes and phages

    “… Glaciers potentially archive environmental conditions and microbes over tens to hundreds of thousands of years. Unfortunately, glaciers around the world, including those from Tibetan Plateau and Himalaya, are rapidly shrinking, primarily due to the anthropogenic-enhanced warming of Earth’s ocean-atmosphere system [116]. Such melting will not only lead to the loss of those ancient, archived microbes and viruses but also release them to the environments in the future.
    Earth is now squarely in the Anthropocene, and human activities are impacting the planet and its interconnected ecosystems in ways no single species has done before [122]. Fortunately, application of advanced research capabilities for the intensive study of ice-core-derived biotic and abiotic information may reveal the primary drivers of both natural (pre-anthropogenic) and anthropogenic variations in microbial evolution.”

    Zhong, ZP., Tian, F., Roux, S. et al. 
    Glacier ice archives nearly 15,000-year-old microbes and phages. 
    Microbiome 9, 160 (2021).

  3. 12 covid $500,000 or $6m to rescue Tony Bullimore in 1997. We can do both.


    “Mr Bullimore’s yacht, the Exide Challenger, capsized in winds of up to 160 kilometres per hour.

    “But in Australia there was backlash about spending $6 million in taxpayers’ money for the rescue of a lone sailor who knew the risks of what he was doing.”…

  4. Black Letter Law is now Grapple With and Why.

    I thought the people and parliment grapple, with underlying ideas. Not judges. Yet… 

    Justice J Beach says “I need to grapple with the underlying idea”. Which I feel is a pity as the underlying legislation is from the Patents Regulations 1991.

    Justice Beach also says “Why cannot our own creations also create?”

    Having read this, I now want a remedy in legislation requiring judgements to;
    –  be suspended for parlimentary and legislation directions and updates if 
    – the presiding judge “need to grapple with the underlying idea” and
    –  “if a judge needs to as ‘why’ of a concept and
    – if technology sems to place humans behing technology and
    – if legislated Act is over 5 years since last update.

    And then retrain and update judges.

    In 1991 it looks like the first AI conference,  yet no update of patent law in Australia in 30 years. During the most explosive growth in AI knowledge. And 30yrs later a judge grapples with an idea. Sounds like a plot device. See Snow Crash by Neil Steaphenson.

    “Artificial intelligence in design ’91
    / edited by J.S. Gero
    Bib ID1424478
    Format Book
    “Author International Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Design (1st :, 1991 : Edinburgh, Scotland)
    Description Jordan Hill, Oxford : Butterworth Heinemann, 1991 
    x, 942 p. : ill. ; 24 cm. 
    “Papers from the first International Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Design held in June 1991 in Edinburgh”–P. ix.
    Includes bibliographical references and index.

    J Beach Judgement.

    Thaler v Commissioner of Patents [2021] FCA 879

    Review of: Stephen L. Thaler[2021] APO 5
    Judgment of: BEACH J
    Date of judgment:
    30 July 2021

    – artificial intelligence
    – machine learning
    – artificial neural networks
    – invention produced by a computer
    – semi-autonomous systems
    – concept of inventor
    – whether a machine can be an inventor
    – whether only a human can invent
    – device for the autonomous boot-strapping of unified sentience (DABUS)
    –invention created by DABUS in the form of containers, devices and methods for attracting enhanced attention
    – patent application 
    –nature of inventor as distinct from patent applicant 
    – concept of “inventor” underPatents Act 1990 (Cth) 
    – validity of patent application where inventor a machine
    – relevance of human-ness of inventor to patent grant
    – whether decision to reject patent application valid

    “15    Fourth, much of the Commissioner’s argument descended into dictionary definitions of “inventor”. But more is required of me than mere resort to old millennium usages of that word. If words are only “pictures of ideas upon paper” (Dodson v Grew (1767) Wilm 272 at 278; 97 ER 106 at 108 per Wilmot CJ) and if, as Holmes J described it, they are not “crystal[s], transparent and unchanged, [but]the skin of a living thought and may vary greatly in colour and content according to the circumstances and the time in which [they] are used”(Towne v Eisner, 245 US 418, 425(1918)), I need to grapple with the underlying idea, recognising the evolving nature of patentable inventions and their creators. We are both created and create. Why cannot our own creations also create?”

    More info on Dr Thaler.

  5. Thanks, Icon (#1):

    Way I see it, a whole bunch of us made a fuss about AGW (Anthropogenic Global Warming) in the 1980’s, and we got blown off. Called Communists; Doomsayers; Catastrophists. Like, for decades. For those who cared to look, even in the 1980s, there were plenty of signs that things were afoot, even if we couldn’t quite establish the why and wherefore, given the absolute limits of data. However, enough data was in existence for a number of climate scientists to wonder at the big adjustment in climate, from the 1970s to the 1980s; to wonder at if this was mere noise, or something vastly larger in its domain. In other words, while nothing could be *proven,* the evidence was pointing in the wrong direction (for business as usual).

    The whole point of AGW is that the initial changes take decades, but the next lot happen *within* decades. They call them tipping points, or in the old Club of Rome terms, overshoot. I have lost interest in trying to explain to other humans that their grandkids could inherit this from them, so it isn’t just a matter of the enjoyment of their own grandfatherly existence, is it? No, it is not.

    I can’t decide if I am merely incredibly disappointed in humanity, or incredibly angry at it (or at a lot of it). I guess I want to see the best bit of us rise to the challenge, and avert truly catastrophic changes. I guess I want to see the bulk of us make the effort, and to essentially ignore the ones who feel a misplaced sense of lost freedom. I don’t mean we ignore their feelings about this, but at some point, you have to take that step off the paver, and hope there is no drop.

    We know that some places might benefit from AGW, but the bulk will not. The ones that benefit, as small as they are in landmass, will have to deal with an unrelenting influx of (hopeful) climate and war and pestilence related refugees. Won’t that be a lot of fun.

    Gee, I hope I am off the beam on this, but so far, things have tracked more or less as I have expected. Perhaps having a pessimistic outlook is more accurate than the rest of humanity’s view.

  6. Oh, and I’ll add: even now, certain people—including some scientists—are acting as if it were likely we might all wake up and see sense…have we not seen the anti-vax movement? They aren’t necessarily stupid people, but they have still fallen for the crap that poses as good enough reason to avoid vaccination. If it can happen for something as incredibly demonstrable as the benefit of vaccination over non-vaccination (in a snekking pandemic, for crying out loud), then I think we are safe in assuming that these few voices in the scientific society that think some great effort could reverse the irreversible…well, that’s make believe, isn’t it? I’d be the first person to shout to the roof tops, if it weren’t this way. However, the onus is on those scientists who are as yet, still proclaiming we’ll be able to turn it all around. My personal belief or guess, or speculation—your choice of phrase—is that we have crossed the Rubicon, alea jacta est, and there is no going back.

    There are a bunch of billionaires who think that dropping a shitload of iron filings (or some other shite) into the ocean would do the trick. What they fail to appreciate, to take into account, is the relative size of the ocean compared to the atmosphere. We have put so much carbon dioxide into the ocean, if it were even possible to remove some of the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, the ocean’s great dissolved reserve would immediately replace what we managed to sequester. This is just one of the reasons the whole sequestration argument is a load of baloney. What are they thinking they can do? Remove the 90\% of humanity’s carbon dioxide from the ocean, with a couple of packs of cool-cigars? Come on, man! It’s this shit for brains kind of argument that the politicians seem so rapt to lock onto to, without a moment’s thought for their own grandchildren. It’s astonishing, yet sadly unsurprising.

  7. Don: the oceans and the atmosphere have a massive contact area, made more active by waves, currents and winds. The CO2 concentrations are surely in equilibrium over some fairly short timescale. Removing carbon from the upper ocean, by any of the multiple schemes proposed, is almost as good as removing it directly from the atmosphere. Do you have any credible sources to challenge this presumption?

  8. Don,

    I agree with you. I also read “The Limits to Growth” within a few years of publication. It was published in 1972. I think I read it in about ’75 or ’76. I was a Humanities student doing an “arty-farty” B.A, for a lark and for the TEAS [1] but I also had some passes in semester 1 tertiary science subjects (Physics, Biology, Chemistry and Cellular Biology). I had friends in the Environmental Studies course. One of them loaned me “The Limits to Growth”. I read it in less than a day – it’s not a large book – and I said to myself, “Oh shite, that’s it. We are done for. Nobody will change. Business as usual and attempted endless exponential growth will continue.” It turns out my initial combined scientific and gut assessment was correct. Here we are at “the end of all things” as Frodo said to Sam. And there’s no discernible “eucatastrophe” [2] miracle around the corner.

    I can definitely decide that I am incredibly disappointed in humanity and incredibly angry at it. This judgement applies to myself also. After all, I too am all too human. It was very difficult to swim against the current, especially once one got enmeshed in marriage, mortgage, cars and kids, in a consumer capitalist system, one’s carbon footprint grew like Topsy.

    I endeavored to do what I could. I bicycled to the station and took the train to work. My wife and I took less traveling holidays and drove less miles or kilometers than anyone we knew (in middle class suburbia). We frequently bought second hard and recycled stuff. We kept stuff years longer than most people do and wore it out before replacement. My motives were mostly ecological although I can be stingy too. My wife was and is just naturally a frugal person with a great desire to educate and provide well for our kids, but with worthwhile experiences and things, not merely packaged consumerist experiences and plastic junk. But one always knows that all that was still not enough.

    My final modest career or rather job (after several earlier laborer and machinery operator jobs), was curtailed by my own dissent with bosses and the system. This dissent was mostly about the many mistakes I felt our (neoliberal) governments and my department were making in the delivery of welfare. I pretty much know my file was metaphorically stamped “never to promoted” and I was then pushed into early retirement. I didn’t have to be pushed hard. By that time I hated the system, was a very angry man, and realized I didn’t recognize or like the angry man I had become.

    I also found I could not talk to any of my (very intelligent) extended family and friends about environmental issues, sustainability, limits to growth and related matters such as political economy. I felt astonished at how anti-intellectual these intelligent, professional people had become, siloed in their specialties, their metiers, and unable to think in the humanities, generalist, or even complex interrelated systems paradigms. If I was not to be ostracized socially, I had to desist from raising any serious and intense concerns about where the political, economic and earth systems were headed. This did convince me that people need a generalist science-humanities education (as I obtained for myself by being an educational institution and autodidact gadfly) before specializing in a narrow discipline. Lamentably, the great scientific humanist polymaths seem to be very much a thing of the past. I am not great but I am a polymath and autodidact, except ironically not in advanced mathematics training.

    This I think is illustrative of how the whole system functioned at every level to narrow minds, narrow imaginations, narrow the communal SIS [3,] suppress dissent, suppress different ideas, suppress imagination and suppress creativity except in the service of mass entertainment and the propaganda commonly called “advertising”. Capitalism is a totalising system which requires and forces a person to think in one way only. This system has forced all of us along its “metal rails”, or rather along the normatively pro-ordained algorithmic prescriptions of capitalism, to where we are today. Capitalism is a normative system in an unconscious search for a real asymptote limit. It’s about to find it.

    It is hard for people to imagine catastrophes, especially one undoing their own beloved civilization, “immortal” capitalism, yet catastrophes are very much part of the geological and historical record. There are entropic reasons for this. Building anything complex, evolutionarily or socioeconomically, takes great time and carefully applied energies. Destroying it takes little time and only sometimes vast amounts of brute natural forces. The total weight of COVID-19 virions on earth (and mostly in people at any given time) were estimated at 0.1 kg to 10 kg at a recent time point of the pandemic; obviously a fairly wide error margin. If we assume a middle estimate of 1 kg, we must marvel at the power of this natural “bio-hacker” with its tiny packet of elegant, succinct and evolutionarily self-optimizing code. it has brought neoliberalism or late stage capitalism to its knees. I argue this despite the “green shoots” of the US recovery for example.

    Fiscal stimulus certainly works and asset inflation is probably much more a product of the quantitative easing that gives cost free (real-interest free) money to the oligarchs and corporations. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the almost instant about-face of fiscal policy with, as we see now, vast amounts of fiscal stimulus, much still being channeled to the oligarchs and corporations. However, real limits matter too, finally and ultimately. Without a sustainable footprint and circular economy we are all dead and in relatively short order in historical terms. It’s as simple as that.

    1. TEAS was the Tertiary Education Assistance Scheme, abolished of course by the neoliberal scum.

    2. Eucatastrophe is a J.R.R. Tolkien neologism meaning the opposite of a catastrophe. It is a sudden, vast, positive event which saves a seemingly hopeless position; the hopeless position and the saving event often both being vast and momentous. The way I see it, only people who believe in miracles believe in the possibility of eucatastrophes.

    3. SIS – A SIS is a “Socially Imaginary Signification”. I prefer to think of it as socially imaginable concepts in general or socially imaginable concepts of socioeconomic possibilities. People now, in the main, in the West cannot imagine anything other than consumerist capitalism. It is for them the only existence imaginable and they lack the concepts, the broad reading and the historical knowledge to imagine anything else. It is a lamentable one dimensional mental existence to use a Marcusian metaphor.

  9. Just as the Great Plague brought in the beginning of the end to serfdom after 1350, it remained in some empires until 1860, the Great Pandemic may bring in the beginning of the end to consumerism.
    This may be uptopism dressed up as eucatastrophe. No one can predict the future. Even the great futurists Karl Marx got that wrong. But just as the more than one thousand years of serfdom came to an end, consumerist capitalism will end. We must not fall into the trap of thinking that anything we can do will hasten than end. Western democracies have locked in consumerist capitalism as a way of distracting from their inadequacies. They have encourage great cathedrals of materialism to be built and set up a new state religion worshiping wealth. Political outcomes must change first before there is any change to economic systems. Not always are these changes for the betterment of humanity.

  10. I agree with Peter Singer’s argument that even accounting for issues of personal freedom and lost paternalism compulsory vaccination makes sense. The argument is stronger than something like seatbelts since not being vaccinated implies social as well as private costs. Indeed I had always believed that this was motivated by free rider issues in economics – that the decision to vaccinate involved a Prisoner’s Dilemma.

    But in a (unusually) wonkish moment I tried to think this through. In a 2 person society this situation isn’t a Prisoner’s Dilemma. Suppose I get 5 units of benefit if the other guy and I both vaccinate. I can do better than that if he vaccinates by not vaccinating myself since I avoid any (minuscule) health costs – suppose I then get benefits 5.1 but he still gets 5. Suppose the situation is symmetric so if I vaccinate but he doesn’t I get 5 and he gets 5.1. If neither of us vaccinate we get zero apiece. Then there are two equilibria to this game each involving one of us vaccinating while the other doesn’t. It’s a Chicken Game. The social optimum, too, is for one of us not to vaccinate and to rely on the vaccination status of the other for protection.

    But these numbers are unrealistic because of the 2-person setup. Suppose many people. If many people are not vaccinating then my best decision is to vaccinate to protect against infection. But if lots do vaccinate then the best I can do is to not vaccinate – I get the benefits without the minuscule health costs. Again it is a Chicken Game with the (Nash) equilibria (and, indeed, the socially optimal equilibrium) is for some people not to vaccinate.

    So we should not be too concerned if a small percentage of the population don’t vaccinate. Not startling since we know this anyway – if R is the infection number herd immunity requires only 100(R-1)/R% to either have had the virus and recovered or to have been vaccinated.

    End of wonk.

  11. AR6 Climate Change 2021:
    The Physical Science Basis

    Shorter or time poor;
    First standout for me;
    195 countries
    – line by line edit
    – and all kept the word “unequivocal” in text.
    195 countries. Good. Just need one ot two more large holdouts.

    “The latest IPCC report explained in 7.5 minutes
    Published on Aug 9, 2021

    “The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change just released their latest assessment report on the physical science basis of climate change. If the last few reports are any indication, we’re hopefully going to see a groundswell of climate action — here are my highlights of the report and a bit about how you can use its information to fight the climate crisis.

    Read the Summary for Policymakers:

    Read the full report:

    Read the IPCC’s FAQ:

    The IPCC Interactive Atlas:

    Above via:
    “The era of ‘rapid’ climate change has begun
    Here’s what the new IPCC report says, and what it doesn’t, about the most important moment of our lives.”

  12. Shocking news out of NSW. They set a new record with 356 COVID-19 cases and three deaths yesterday. Gladys B. made no sense when she said “Delta is different,” and then used that as a rationale to NOT implement increased restrictions. Her claim was that vaccination was the only way out of the pandemic. Wrong! Vaccination plus every other legal and implementable measure possible under a state of emergency declaration is the only way out.

    One suspects that Gladys B. and Scott Morrison (who I am tempted to start calling Baron Harkonnen) almost seem to be using increased infection numbers to drive vaccination numbers when a combination of solutions is possible. The calculation here might be that full vaccination may guarantee their re-elections. The other apparent causative factor in the mix is that business interests are still lobbying hard for a full opening up, no matter what, so long as the vaccination rate gets to some “magic” number. There is in fact no magic number or rate for vaccinations with Delta. A credible N.Z. study suggests a 97% vaccination rate is needed for Delta with no other measures in place. That is a clearly unattainable number even under strong mandates. Thus vaccinations PLUS other measures will really be necessary for a considerable time to come.The NZs study gains more credibility from he latest empirical data.

    Vaccination effectiveness is declining due to vaccine escape by new variants including Delta. Figures from Israel show this. Also, Iceland with 70% fully vaccinated is showing a third wave spike which is its highest to date.

    Princess Irulan. and Baron Harkonnen seem intent on a let-it-rip opening up as soon as possible via a certain-to-be inadequate vaccination rate. Got to keep the spice flowing. Dead Fremen are just collateral damage.

    Note: If anyone is wondering about the Dune references I just watched the old Dune film version directed by David Lynch (of Twin Peaks fame among others). This Dune is a stinker, a very rotten tomato, but Lynch’s surrealist style is intriguing as is its set-design steam punk, costuming.and quasi- Dr, Who space opera feel. Surely, the spice is oil (used for transport) and the desert is the Middle East, the Fremen Arabs and so on. We could draw more parallels.

  13. Latest IPCC report says ocean warming goes down to 2,000m. Lots of iron I’d say.

    James said “Removing carbon from the upper ocean, by any of the multiple schemes proposed, is almost as good as removing it directly from the atmosphere.”

    I’d prefer Tim Flannery’s seaweed led CCS, than iron filings via Twiggy.

    Cant find any comparison re iron vs seaweed.

  14. If Delta is twice as contagious as the original strain then isnt Sydney at 350 per day the same as Melbourne was one year ago at 700 per day ? Yet for weeks now (almost from the very start) the NSW government has sounded defeated .Todays press conference bounced between anger ,blaming Delta , impatience ,lecturing , frustration ,blaming the public ,resignation , and pleading. Its quite a different tone to how Victorian press conferences have always been .Still no coherent simple plan, still just a lockdown lite. Its just get vaccinated and let it rip .I suppose that is simply as close to a market based solution as they can achieve .Cases have been doubling each 2 weeks since this started ,if that continues they will have over 1000 per day in 4 weeks time.

  15. sunshine,

    “Data indicate that Delta is 40-60% more transmissible than Alpha and almost twice as transmissible as the original Wuhan strain of SARS-CoV-2.” – American Society for Microbiology.

    If correct, that means Delta is about 1.5 x 1.9 (say) = 2.85 times as transmissible as the original Wuhan strain But if are talking the Delta strain versus Alpha, yes about twice as transmissible or contagious.So your question seems reasonable to me. Seasonal, geographical and demographic differences might mean something. Even so, why is G.B. sounding so defeated?

    I agree. It looks like it’s a let-it-rip policy based on a fallacious hope than about 70% vaccination can contain it. It can’t and it won’t without other strong measures. This is what business wants. G.B. and the business lobby better watch out what they wish for. If NSW’s hospital system is like Queensland’s with ambulance ramping going on even when there’s no significant numbers of pandemic cases, then the gods of random help them.

    I think G.B. and Scomo are playing fast and loose with human lives. Preventable deaths will occur… are occurring already. It’s a morally bankrupt, economically self-defeating and scientifically illiterate policy approach to socioeconomy. Apparently the potential incomes of some people matter more than the lives of others. However, they are completely mistaken. The more the pandemic spreads, the more that nearly everybody loses income and wealth, not to mention loved ones and maybe even their own lives.

  16. Harry, the Prisoner’s Dilemma (2 and many players) game belongs to the class of non-cooperative games. This class of games is characterised by the property of ‘non-binding commitments’, which distinguishes this class of games from cooperative games. Health Orders are legally binding commitments for all players, issued by elected governments. In this sense and subject to some qualifications, Singer’s argument makes sense to me in a game theoretic framework. However the qualifications are non-trivial. There are people who cannot be vaccinated on medical grounds and there is no available/approved vaccine for people under the age 12 years.

  17. Don, the oceans are a carbon sink. The upper waters absorb CO2 from the atmosphere and then very gradually transfer it to deep waters. If humanity cut CO2 emissions to zero the oceans would continue to draw down CO2 from the atmosphere for a long time. This is why it’s not impossible to keep warming under 1.5 degrees — with a (hopefully) temporary overshoot. (This will, of course, require immediate and rapid cuts in emissions.)

    If there was a good method for reducing CO2 in surface waters then that would help remove CO2 from the atmosphere. Methods tried so far have not been great. If someone can get it to work, yay.

  18. Instead of debating the pros and cons of mandatory vaccination it would be more effective to simply apply existing OHS laws.

    That would mean that persons entering a workplace could not endanger workers lives by being unvaccinated.

    Those that refuse to be vaccinated can stand out side, swapping germs with other unvaccinated 🙂

  19. After watching Morrison’s response to the IPCC I’m now confident that he is easily our worst PM, outpacing Abbott and McMahon.

  20. John where did you get your 200k per life year saved figure? I can absolutely promise you that the WTP “threshold” that the PBAC applies is between 50-75k per QALY gained. Even accounting for the quality of life adjustment, there is no way that it comes anywhere near 200k
    So yes, COVID posits some interesting challenges on the other side. Will we be willing to pay a similar amount to gain additional life years for other diseases? What will we be willing to pay to avoid a death given the “precedent” set by ATAGI in avoiding death from the AZ vaccine and the cost incurred as a consequence in delayed vaccinations?
    Or does consistency not matter?

  21. Ronald: – “This is why it’s not impossible to keep warming under 1.5 degrees — with a (hopefully) temporary overshoot.”

    It depends on what you define as “temporary”, Ronald?

    NOAA recently updated its Annual Greenhouse Gas Index (AGGI), that included:

    In terms of CO2 equivalents, the atmosphere in 2020 contained 504 ppm, of which 412 is CO2 alone. The rest comes from other gases.

    Professor H.J. Schellnhuber, Director Emeritus, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, in his Aurelio Peccei Lecture, delivered on 17 October 2018, said the paleo-historical empirical record indicates that in the so-called Mid-Pliocene period, that occurred 3-4 million years ago, atmospheric CO2 levels were in the range 400-450 ppm, global mean temperatures were in the range +2.0 to +3.0 °C (relative to Holocene Epoch pre-industrial age), and sea level was in the range +10 to +22 metres higher than today – see the table presented in the YouTube video titled Keynote Debate Can the Climate Emergency Action Plan lead to Collective Action_ (50 Years CoR), from about time interval 0:24:12.

    The Earth System Dynamics (ESD) paper titled Climate model projections from the Scenario Model Intercomparison Project (ScenarioMIP) of CMIP6, published on 1 March 2021, that missed the AR6 WG1 literature cutoff date (31 January 2021), shows in Table 1 that crossing the +1.5°C global mean warming threshold (relative to Holocene Epoch pre-industrial age) is now INEVITABLE* and will likely occur BEFORE 2030 (best estimate), irrespective of any measures humanity takes globally to reduce emissions in the interim.

    There is no carbon budget remaining for a safe climate for humanity. Per Sir David King, returning the Earth System back below the +1.5 °C warming threshold requires:
    1. A deep and rapid decarbonisation of civilisation as soon as possible; AND
    2. ‘Negative emissions’ or atmospheric carbon drawdown at large-scale to get CO2 levels safely back to well below 350 ppm;
    3. Maintaining arctic summer sea ice cover.

    *Caveat: Barring significant Earth System cooling events, like:
    1. super-volcanic eruption(s);
    2. major meteor impact(s) with the Earth surface;
    3. thermonuclear war.

  22. Yep, we definitely need to also slash emissions of methane and other greenhouse gases. And an overshoot is unavoidable unless we are very wrong about some stuff. But provided we act sensibly there is still potential for the temperature increase to drop below the 1.5 degree point.

    Given the number of horse punchers and people who think vaccines contain tracking chips around, sensible behaviour might seem unlikely, but, I’m hoping… hoping they’ll get tired and start being sensible for a change of pace?

  23. Thanks Ronald, and others, who corrected me on the removal of Carbon (DIC) from the ocean; it is different in manner to the issues with removal from the atmosphere; certainly, it is worth at least considering how it would be done, and what the overall cost to benefits are. A number of scientific studies have been done, at least on the engineering aspect of it.

    However, recent scientific work has indicated that there is substantial climatic hysteresis in the process of human-added carbon to the atmosphere and the oceans, meaning that to return to a climate remotely resembling the one of 1850–1900 (say; or 1950–2000), we would need to extract much more carbon from the system, and more rapidly, than we put it in. This overshoot means it is far cheaper to forgo the opportunity to add carbon and then remove it from the ocean, than it is to add that carbon, only to remove it. The linear minds in parliament can’t possibly cope with this notion.

    A second substantial issue is what happens to the shallow-water biota, if we suddenly and at great scale begin removing carbon (Dissolved Inorganic Carbon) from that water? We can do it using an Acid-based process, or by using a Base-based method. That biota feeds whales, fish, and so on. The buffering in the oceanic shallow waters can only protect shell-based animals to a point.

    A third substantial point is that we may have already set in train vast ocean sinks becoming oceanic sources of greenhouse gases. There are upwelling deep ocean waters in the Antarctic zone, and elsewhere. There are methane and carbon dioxide clathrates on ocean floors, being disturbed by our human-induced AGW. This level of uncertainty makes the risk assessment of continued human-based carbon emissions even more fraught.

    A fourth substantial issue, seldom addressed, is that these large scale processes have to occur where they can have the most effect; what if those coastal areas are not inclined to bear the costs of these processes, or are even quite aggressively antithetical to it? Are we going to force the local climate effects upon those regions, or the other effects that might be a result?

    It is even possible that some regions could experience large temperature drops, simply because of the multi-decadal change to the ocean currents in the seas of those regions. Even as the rest of us experience higher average temperatures, and larger variability in maximum temperature readings.

    Finally, on most issues that have been within the remit of the IPCC, the language has changed over time, going from maybe and possibly, to virtually certain and already here. If that hardening of the language in describing our current and future scenarios isn’t enough to stir our political class to doing something remotely constructive, then God help us all.

    It’s like that slow motion train wreck you witness, thinking, surely they’ll brake, surely they’ll brake; surely, they’ll break.

  24. Sorry to dominate this MMB, but another matter worth thinking about is the UBI that many, including our host, advocate. Even without it, there is one obvious area where Centrelink could be empowered to help out, and that is with respect to age-related needs, such as glasses for failing eyesight, etc. Not crappy stuff, either, but stuff that can make a real impact on how people get to live. If you can no longer see more than a dozen or so metres, then a lack of appropriate glasses is a serious impediment to day-to-day living. Loss of hearing has similar impacts. It should simply be assumed that people need alterations to lens’ prescriptions, on an annual or semi-annual basis, once they get into their early 50’s. Most won’t need it, but those who do, they’ll get a much greater boost to quality of life than the cost of a grand for multi-focal lenses, for instance.

    If our current system was a bit more pro-active in dealing with these age-related issues, our population’s health and enjoyment of life could be elevated, and since we can manufacture both eye and ear equipment here in Australia, we could do this with little net cost. Money goes around, and it comes around.

    We can blow 12.5 billion on companies that took JobSeeker and then made record profits, but we need to reclaim 22 million, about 0.2% of what the big corporations raked out of the gov coffers, from Centrelink welfare recipients? That’s a pretty warped view of the world, isn’t it? By the way, 300 bucks per new person vaccinated would amount to 5.4 billion dollars, nearly all of which would be spent in our economy, and some of it possibly recovered via tax. All up, it is dwarfed by the amounts that the large corporations got (freely) from the gov.

    Surely the UBI makes sense. Economists have done the numbers, and it could be done. We can’t prevent people becoming to infirm to do a 9 to 5 job five to six days a week; it is almost inevitable, once you get beyond about 55 years old. However, being unable to zot about like a 20 year old can, doesn’t mean you should be compelled to sleep beneath a skip’s lid. If we cannot make enough money to support people who, while unable to work in regular hours, are none the less a big part of our society, then what’s the friggin’ point? One of the reasons that billionaires can work until their 70’s and then, more, is that, along with sheer good fortune, they have the best diets, the best GPs, the best best. The other 99.99% of us do not have that kind of access to health knowledge and technology. Should we be judged, for failing to meet that standard? Of course not.

    As people are able to reach older ages before expiring, we need to adapt our understanding as to what such people (i.e. what we surely would aspire to) receive from our society, as opposed to being treated as if their value was purely limited to 40 years of work life, and then is valueless.

    I know people in their late 70’s and early 80’s who volunteer for Meals on Wheels. From a purely economic viewpoint, MoW is absent from the equation. At least, it isn’t considered a first order matter, but those people who get those meals, it immediately increases their quality of life (at that moment, at least); the money that keeps such things afloat is shadow money, for it comes in the form of people who can volunteer a few hours, here and there, and if they can’t manage a given week, someone else does. Businesses will sack you for such variability in capacity, and is one of the significant ways in which the beyond 50–55 years old become locked into unemployment. We shouldn’t penalise people for their incapacity to work a regular set of hours, and we shouldn’t treat such work as more precarious in nature, as if it is a decision of the worker, and not the employer. Many older people who volunteer to help out in these organisations, such as Meals on Wheels, do so in the knowledge that they can’t necessarily promise/commit to a set roster. They do it when they can, and not when they can’t.

    So, to end my very long log of claims. I think that UBI, at least something that took into account (properly so) the effects of ageing, and gave people permits or something for purchase of much needed glasses, hearing aids, and walking aids, then we would find those very same people would be among those helping—even running—volunteer groups that are big contributors in an economic sense, even if they are not directly part of the commercial aspect of free markets. While such volunteer groups mightn’t behave like corporations in a free market, they do draw resources from such markets, they purchase or get given food to cook up, they make use of other people’s transport, they use people’s time. And this is just one of many volunteer groups that aged people are heavily involved in, for they are invested in it. The bald fact is that our federal government(s) have taken such volunteering as a convenience they can pretend is not actually a crying-out-loud necessity, something the feds should be ensuring is already happening under their own policies.

    All federal governments need to think about this, for now that our natural lifetimes extend well beyond retirement age—even though too age-affected to work beyond that retirement age—there is a growing cohort of citizens that are being left to suffer for no more reason than getting old. There is no good logic in this. When people, oh, only 70 year old people get this Covid-19, there was a strange silence from our government (and they weren’t alone in this), for the basic calculus of votes meant the most afflicted wouldn’t alter the likelihood of the LNP returning to power. How that calculus has changed. In any case, why were our federal politicians so quick to accept casualties among the eldest of society, as if those people had no more to contribute? As if that idea of contribution as a net good was all that mattered?

    Once 40 and 50 year old people began to mount up among the casualties, the vibe changed, didn’t it! Oh, it changed. When pollies worked out that 80 and 90 year old people were grandparents, parents, and so forth, their appreciation of the political calculus shifted. If only their humanity had put them into thinking about this at the very beginning.

    One of the starkest lessons is in who matters…and who doesn’t. Meanwhile, look at the support that the casuals and part-time workers at Australian universities received: nothing. Not even a pretend good luck to you. The feds simply shut unis out of the JobKeeper system, and let the tens of thousands of university employees swing from the rope around their necks. 12.5 billion dollars for the record-breaking profit-making corporations…for the university staff, nothing.

    How is it that we are unable to secure the future of our post-working cohort? A lot of them were not in good paying jobs, but they were necessary jobs, they were essential jobs. Should we now say they should have been CEOs, if they wanted a reasonable retirement? That’s the most crap cop-out, that line of thought (to garner it with more praise than it’s worth).

    It can be difficult to be optimistic, when it is the federal government that is a large source of current problems. Not that they created the situation of people living well beyond their working years, or of Covid-19’s arrival, or even AGW; however, they are as informed on these facts as the rest of us, but are the ones who are uniquely able to shape policy to address all of these structural issues. Why don’t they?

  25. Don,

    I pretty much agree with all you say. We need to be very careful about excess techno-optimism and geo-engineering, especially the latter. Why would anyone in their right mind trust the corporations that trashed our planet to fix it? Geo-engineering is a complete boondoggle as is all carbon capture except by trees, lots of trees, and other appropriate re-vegetation.

    Also, as a repeat offender in the wall-of-text stakes I would never criticize the length of a screed. Indeed, I feel a long screed coming on. 😉

  26. When it comes to the methods of neoliberal governance, the common interest simply is not represented. Instead, a minarchist position is taken where only business and corporate interests are heard as stakeholders. Only those interests have a seat at the bargaining and decision table. The NSW situation is classic example of how neoliberals govern. Whether it is a catastrophic cumulonimbus flammagenitus bush-fire regime or a novel zoonotic pandemic disease burning down our infrastructure or our people, Morrison and Gladys B. do nothing for the common interest.

    I might have said some of these things before. The Chaser has created a Scott Morrison “Inaction Figure” as a tribute to this politician who apparently never acts in any crisis. Actually Morrison does act but only for the capitalist stakeholders, large and small. This is why it feels to the rest of us, the 90% of adult Australians who are workers, unemployed, students or retirees, that Scott Morrison does nothing. He does nothing for 90% of the population. The Chaser should add a Baron Harkonnen figure (from Dune) to their range: Morrison as a malevolent blimp hovering over the suffering people. There is something fitting in that image of someone who floats above the destruction and gloats.

    Why do we consent, by supineness and default, to be governed by those who do not have our interests as any part of their calculations? The “manufacture of consent” (Chomsky) depends on the manufacture of ignorance. As this pandemic “ignited” and spread, the manufacturers of ignorance were busy. Indeed, they had been busy before that and remain busy today, in the matter of pandemic diseases and our responses to them.

    The WHO was castigated for not acting early enough to escalate warnings, for not declaring a global pandemic soon enough and for not criticizing and blaming China for the origin of the disease. But in earlier cases (for example flu epidemics like the one in 2009), the WHO came under heavy pressure from the neoliberal globalists, headed by the Americans, to not declare for any measures that would curtail movement, trade and business. The WHO has been under consistent pressure for at least two decades to (as I say) not declare measures that would ever curtail (neoliberal) business.

    See “WHO bows to pressure not to declare pandemic – SWINE FLU OUTBREAK – Frank Jordans, Associated Press, May 19, 2009.

    “China, Britain, Japan and other countries urged the World Health Organization on Monday to be very cautious about declaring the arrival of a swine flu pandemic, fearing that a premature announcement could cause worldwide panic and confusion. WHO bent to their wishes.” – Frank Jordans.

    I would cavil at putting China at the head of that list and omitting USA altogether which in all likelihood should be at the top of the list. With a little more research I think I could substantiate that. It is clearly the neoliberal capitalists, in addition to the state capitalists of CCP China, who wanted to and want to, underplay the health requirements of the general populace to keep business as usual running; which means income continues to flow into the hands of rentiers, monopolists, oligopolists and petite bourgeois capitalists, like the owners of pubs, clubs, restaurants, bars and tourist traps: the whole conga line of parasites in trickle-up economics subsidized by state expenditure under neoliberal capitalism.

    Now, bear with me. A little recent history is required. As Bob Marley sings, “If you know your history, then you know where you are coming from”. The specific flu pandemic I refer to above was the 2009 H1N1 Pandemic. Our kids (twins 15 or 16 at the time) were laid low. Their entire school was nearly shut down. Probably, it should have been. On certain days, at the height of it, half of the student body was absent, IIRC. My wife and I turned out to be essentially immune to it. There were reasons for all of this. We will get back to the neoliberal pressures on the WHO but first a quote:

    “In 2009, a new kind of influenza A (H1N1) virus emerged in the United States and spread quickly around the world. Initially known as “swine flu,” this particular subtype of virus contained a novel combination of influenza genes that hadn’t previously been identified in animals or people. The virus was designated as (H1N1)pdm09.

    Very few young people had any existing immunity to the virus, but about 1/3rd of people over 60 had antibodies against it. Because it was very different than other H1N1 viruses, the seasonal vaccinations didn’t offer much cross-protection either. When a vaccine was finally made, it was not available in large quantities until late November, after the illness had already peaked.

    The CDC estimates that between 151,700 – 575,400 people died worldwide during the first year that the (H1N1)pdm09 virus circulated. About 80% of those deaths are believed to have been people younger than 65 — which is unusual. During typical seasonal influenza epidemics, 70-90% of deaths occur in people over 65.” – Simone M. Scully, The Weather Channel.

    Scully eh? Where’s Mulder? But seriously the real truth is out there if only we do our history. I suspect the article is wrong in one respect. I think some proportion of people over 50 at the time had antibodies against H1N. My wife and I seemed well nigh totally immune to it (50 and 56 at the time). But it was a nasty global pandemic as the figures above show. I would give much more credibility to the figure of over half a million deaths world wide. Casualty counts and “cause of death” attribution are very difficult even in countries that can actually keep even half-credible records.

    “Australia had 37,537 confirmed cases of H1N1 Influenza 2009 (Human Swine Influenza) and 191 deaths reported by Department of Health but only 77 deaths reported by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The actual numbers are much larger, as only serious cases warranted being tested and treated at the time. Suspected cases have not been reported by the Department of Health and Ageing since 18 May 2009 because they were changing too quickly to report.[10] Sources say that as many as 1600 Australians may have actually died as a result of this virus.” – Wikipedia.

    There is a pattern of neoliberal pressure on the WHO to NOT call pandemics. This pattern is at least two decades and perhaps three decades old now. The results of this historical pressure were apparent in the WHO’s skittishness. Sure, realpolitik alone suggests China pressures the WHO too, but to attribute all or even most of the WHO’s reluctance to call the pandemic to China’s pressure is to elide most of the historical facts. I am saying there is a long-standing neoliberal pattern to ignore or underplay pandemics at the cost of human health to the people for the benefit of elite business interests. The very real dangers of this tendency have came home to roost catastrophically (I use the term advisedly) in the event of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    I referred above to the manufacture of ignorance. The neoliberal ignorance manufacturing machine is now in full swing. It may well be continuing to win the science denialism propaganda war, at least in the USA. The amount of false scholarship on the COVID-19 pandemic and lock-downs in particular is astonishing ad deeply concerning. Indeed, “a lie can run around the world before truth can put its boots on”. This false scholarship threatens to falsify history as fast as history is happening.

    Here, in Australia, we the public know that lock-downs work to curtail and then halt the pandemic spread of a highly contagious virus. SARSCov2 which causes COVID-19 disease. We know from multiple empirical demonstrations of successes and failures in COVID-19 suppression that this is the case. We know from overseas examples the difference in outcomes between lock-downs plus other NPIs ( Non-Pharmaceutical interventions) that NPIs implemented well, work well, and that “let-it-rip” or “wait and see” policies towards the virus lead to waves of public health disasters. Implemented well enough NPIs plus vaccination can eradicate a virus not only in a country but comprehensively around the globe.

    Opposed to this empirical knowledge, well attested to by public experience in countries like China, Australia and New Zealand and well-proven by genuine epidemiological science, we now can see, if we look, a massive cottage industry of pseudo-schloastic, pseudo-scientific, neoliberal denial arising in the USA and possibly elsewhere, apparently in its neoliberal economics departments, academies and think tanks. Clearly there is a kind of deep and extensive pseudo-academia pumping out this stuff. It threatens to totally overwhelm the empirical truths of the matter.

    I refuse to link to this article but I will name it as representative of what I am writing about:

    “Lockdowns Do Not Control the Coronavirus: The Evidence” – AEIR (American Institute for Economic Research”

    This document provides links to 35 papers, I kid you not, which are marshaled to demonstrate the “evidence” that “lock-downs do not control the Coronavirus”, meaning SARSCov2. Now, if I began to examine, critique and debunk these papers in detail I would write a post longer than Bill Mitchell’s most comprehensive efforts. I don’t propose to do that. Suffice it to say that this pseudo-schloarship and pseudo-science relies on various methods of illogic, cherry-picking of evidence, gerrymandering of boundaries (geographic and chronologic) for “studies” and misuse of regression analysis to attribute cause and effect or obscure cause and effect as required by the authors according to their ideological imperatives.

    What is deeply disturbing is the sheer volume and pseudo-scientific veneer of all this stuff. This must be a matter of institutional power bought and suborned by capital. Capital, or rather capitalists, spend billions buying all the elections, and thus all the politicians. in the USA. “As of July 12, 2021, 2,276 groups organized as super PACs have reported total receipts of $6,855,087,990 and total independent expenditures of $4,256,095,206 in the 2019-2020 cycle.” – OpenSecrets.

    There is clearly a big spend going to buy economic “scholarship” as well and I have no idea at this stage how big that spend is in the USA alone. Prof. Bill Mitchell researches and writes as much as ten ordinary men or women. But even he, alone or with his small dedicated band of colleagues. cannot match this Niagara of money and pseudo-scholarship. I fear for the future of Australia, facing this tsunami of neoliberalism coming across the Pacific. Mixed metaphors I know but you get the picture.

    It is this subversion of historical truth, a subversion traveling at the speed of rapidly moving current events, that is truly frightening to me. It implies such a rapid manufacture of ignorance and propaganda that the truth will drowned even as it tries to put its boots on. Or in another metaphor, these neoliberal pseudo-scholars are like the Langoliers in the novella by Stephen King. They rapidly eat the past and make no genuine information visible to the general population, just a giant billboard of neoliberal “truths” and principles” strap-lined at the bottom, “Nothing Behind Here”, while people crawl and die in the apocalyptic landscape beyond. People have certainly crawled and died from COVID-19 in places like India, Indonesia, Africa and South America.

    A factual billboard would read “COVID-19 – Brought to you by capitalism”. This is quite literally true and at multiple levels. See:

    “COVID-19 and Circuits of Capital” – by Rob Wallace, Alex Liebman, Luis Fernando Chaves and Rodrick Wallace (May 01, 2020) – in the Monthly Review.

    I will end with a marvelous quote:

    “Coronavirus is too radical. America needs a more moderate virus that we can respond to incrementally.” – A Twitterer.

  27. An excellent cause, James. A huge increase in US vaccine production will not only help the world, it will help protect the United States from new variants and strains. I wouldn’t limit it to MRNA but, as they point out, it may be best.

    Australia should have aimed to produce at least twice as much vaccine as required to minimize economic disruption here (that is, more than was aimed for) and produced multiple vaccines in case there was a problem with one and because of benefit of mixing vaccines. Then the surplus would be sent overseas where it would protect Australians by helping others control the disease.

    We could have all had three shots by now. (Even with vaccine supplies we ended up having, we could have all had two half doses and three half doses in the most vulnerable by now, so we have been inept in multiple ways.)

  28. ” Income Inequality Has Changed Little In 50 Years” says;

    Joint Committee On Taxation:
    By Paul Caron

    Patrick Driessen, National Income, Transfers, and the JCT’s Tax Rates, 172 Tax Notes Fed. 249 (July 12, 2021):

    “In a recent pamphlet framing a congressional hearing on high-income and high-wealth taxpayers [Present Law and Background on the Taxation of High Income and High Wealth Taxpayers], the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation offered what I believe is its first-ever official judgment about trends in historical income inequality. In focusing primarily on the federal level, the JCT staff concluded that after-tax, after-government-outlay, after-government-deficit (three mouthfuls collectively referred to here as post-government) income inequality has changed little in 50 years.

    “The JCT further employed this historical approach to confirm prior results found with its standard distributional model (which doesn’t extensively attempt to distribute federal outlays or deficits and hasn’t specifically been applied in a historical context) that the federal tax system is progressive throughout the income spectrum (although the analysis didn’t reach the granular level of the 40 or 400 highest income or wealth units). The JCT reached these tax rate and post-government income conclusions by adopting much of the method and data from research by two Treasury Department and JCT staffers Gerald Auten and David Splinter, respectively [Income Inequality in the United States: Using Tax Data to Measure Long-Term Trend].

    “Joint Committee on Taxation, Present Law and Background on the Taxation of High Income and High Wealth Taxpayers (JCX-24-21 May 10, 2021):

    “The following figures present information about pre-tax/pre-transfer. .. “…

  29. They are coming for ephemera now.

    Cory Doctrow reposting;

    “So what are their intangibles? John Quiggin has an idea: it’s monopolies, “arising from network effects, intellectual property, control over natural resources and good old-fashioned predatory conduct.”

    The reason these intangibles are so highly prized by investors is that they prevent competition and allow the extraction of monopoly rents: “No one can sell a Windows or Apple operating system, even if they were willing to invest the effort required to reverse-engineer it.”

    Quiggin’s conclusion: “this means that traditional ideas about capital and investment are largely irrelevant in the information economy.”

    “Laws of Tech: Commoditize Your Complement

    “A classic pattern in technology economics, identified by Joel Spolsky, is layers of the stack attempting to become monopolies while turning other layers into perfectly-competitive markets which are commoditized, in order to harvest most of the consumer surplus; discussion and examples.”

  30. Don, and Iconoclast,

    Steve Keen Says Economists Get Everything Wrong (Especially About Climate Change)
    Spotify, July 8 2021, Bloomberg Odd Lots Podcast Episode
    69minutes –

    Steve Keen Says Economists Get Everything Wrong (Especially About Climate Change)The whole profession needs to start over, he says
    By Joe Weisenthal and Tracy Alloway July 8, 2021. Bloomberg
    pay walled –
    pay walled transcript –

    Bloomberg | Quint (India), Spotify/Apple listen links –
    LISTEN NOTES (India), Odd Lots Podcast – 1h:08m:31s

    tl;dl? My notes:

    4min Maybe the world financial system doesn’t work the way we are told
    6min public/private debt distinction
    6m:30sec Economics is about money not people – cf Krugman.
    10m:30 Why start analyses with money rather than people? BundesBank, BoE both say the textbooks are wrong, &etc. Say that is not how it works. Economists need to learn accounting… !

    15m:30 Empirical research into 150 years, 150 countries, and about 150 financial crises – “Every last one of them was caused by a run-away private debt bubble” – “The only way out of them was to write that private debt off”

    17m:10 Inflation.
    18m:20 “MMT is a description of how current financing occurs. But what we’ve had is a practise where that’s been ignored and you had constraints on how much money government can spend, you know, think of austerity type programs we’ve had ever since the days of Reagan and Thatcher. Now if you say well we actually understand it, that would mean that the policy now becomes to get the maximum level of employment you can get – the whole idea of a job guarantee is part of that program. And the issue about inflation is that inflation tends be something which comes out of competition over the income shares of the economy. When we look back at the last time there was major inflation in the 70s you had an economy going gangbusters, compared to what its done ever since, low level of unemployment, and high level of capacity utilisation, and strong demand on raw materials inputs. And you had in 73, you had, part of course of the Yom Kippur war, you had the price of oil being increased from $2.50 a barrel to $10.00, and then you had in 1979-80 another boom where the price went from $10 to $40. Well that takes money out of capitalists’ hands, means less investment can take place, and you have a slump in the economy. Equally you had low unemployment, so workers could demand large wage rises, and those wage rises also fed through to inflation. So you need this very very strong basis in aggregate demand out of a strong bargaining position for workers to get hold of, with the extra bargaining power they get from low unemployment, to get bargaining power, and demand higher wages. (19m:32) And that’s what tends to set off inflation. 19:34 So in that context, where we are right now, we’re miles from that happening because the working class unions have been smashed, there’s no real bargaining power for the individuals, until you are in a really really tight market, and we’re temporarily seeing that, but I don’t think there’ll be a sustained flow through of it. But if you did get to the stage where you had, you know, job guarantee, (20m:00) very low unemployment, people who’d lost their private sector job would get a lower paid but still job guaranteed income – that would potentially increase the bargaining power of workers, and you could have struggles over the distribution of income which could lead to inflation arising. So I think in that situation you’ve got to start talking about national agreements over income distribution – the sort of thing that the Swedish government used to do back in the 60s and 70s when they dramatically industrialised in Sweden by having, sort of, agreements between capitalists, workers, and the government about how to develop Swedish society over time. (20m:42) Once you realise that you can have full employment then you’ve also got to have some agreement about the distribution of income, and how money is spent. And I’m not going to suggest that’s going to be an easy thing to do. So if we actually start getting the government using the capacity it has to generate a level of aggregate demand that gives you full employment then we’re going to have to work out what’s the power relationship between workers and capitalists in America. (20m:11) And it can’t be as extreme as it’s got to be in the last 30 or 40 years. (20m:16) I’m going to add one little caveat there: it isn’t the industrial work that capitalists have got their power, it’s the financial system. So we’re going to have to take on financial capital, and that always tends to be more fun than you’d like it to be!”

    25min If government gave $100k to every individual, to lower current private debt bubble, to fix private debt to GDP ratio, to lower overall debt, to increase productive finance, to eliminate parasitic finance, then, surprisingly, we get long boom times again.

    38min Climate change !!! Nordhaus et al ! 6 degrees warming ok, and 4 degrees is Norhausian ideal !! Don’t just junk Nordhaus and all, throw out the so called Nobel Prize for economics entirely!

    50min Limits to growth – but people won’t!
    54min Serious crises are required. NOT 2 or 3 centuries in the future per William Nordhaus bs! An existential threat – command economy needed to rebuild anthropocene climate – rationing – catastrophe catch up mode – a need for sufficiently severre crises soon to force a reverse in direction before it gets even worse.
    58min Humanity needs to practise restraint, BUT never has!

    59min How to change attitudes? How to shake up economics? Keen thinks economists are a lost cause! Unlike science, regurgitated economics is trapped in repeated failure. Contrast Plank (energy as discrete units, quanta) vs Maxwell (energy is smooth). Max Plank later said, “Science advances one funeral at a time”. Economics does not – there it’s out with the old, in with the old!
    60min Neoclassical vision is a beautiful seductive vision that nerds continue to fall for, to perpetuate, and can’t be gotten rid of!
    101min Neoclassical economists will be the last people to realise the world has changed!
    101:30min Wrap up.

  31. Did the IPCC really say that its latest report is a “code red for humanity”? Actually no, the striking phrase is an (accurate) gloss put on it by the SG of the Uniteed Nations, António Guterres. But the press release marks I think a much sharper tone:

    They have, for public consumption, dropped the deadening apparatus of confidence levels, and speak in simple declarative sentences like this: “Stabilizing the climate will require strong, rapid, and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and reaching net zero CO2 emissions.¨”
    Will this change hearts and minds? By itself, no, but every little helps. The threadbare equivocations of delayists are made still more evident.

  32. The trouble is nothing substantive is being done to stop climate change. It is all window dressing and green-wash. The Keeling Curve shows not the slightest response to any human climate initiatives, or rather should I say, to all the human non-initiatives. Amplifying feed-backs have kicked in in any case.

    We should keep trying of course. Using renewable energy, reducing our fossil fuel use and ecological footprinst where we can. However, we should also be realistic. Under corporate/consumer capitalism and geostrategic competition pressures nothing will change. Those forces aren’t going anywhere… until collapse forces their retrenchment.

    On those figures, collapse is inevitable. I doubt there is a single ruling elite in any nation which really understands and cares about this crisis. They say they do. And then the next day they go back to policies like doubling down on fossil fuel production. Maybe they understand, They certainly don’t care. Everything for the moment. Nothing for the future.

  33. Does the Overton window / tribal affiliation just rotate over time around its axis?  

    US political tragics – JQ et al – great discussion, rebuttals, excellent graphs and Picketty from “Contra Hanania On Partisanship” below 

    – “his more recent paper Brahmin Left Vs. Merchant Right: Changing Political Cleavages In 21 Western Democracies 1948-2020. Or, if even a 32 page paper is pushing it, here are three graphs:”

    All seemingly inspired by this Bloomberg article and bubble graphs showing…

     ” contributions through the two platforms still account for 57% of all donations to the Trump and Biden campaigns this year,…”

    “The Employees Who Gave Most to Trump and Biden

    …” The Bloomberg News analysis of employee giving through ActBlue and WinRed doesn’t account for all itemized individual contributions, and doesn’t take into account how much people who aren’t employed gave this year. But contributions through the two platforms still account for 57% of all donations to the Trump and Biden campaigns this year, and provide a glimpse into the spending of donors who give less than $200 and aren’t otherwise reflected in Federal Election Commission reports.”….

    “Why is Everything Liberal?Cardinal Preferences Explain Why All Institutions are Woke

    Richard Hanania

    …” What jumps out to me in these figures is not only how left leaning large institutions are, but how the same is true for most professions. Whether you are looking by institution or by individuals, there are more donations to Biden than Trump. Yet Republicans get close to half the votes! Where are the Trump supporters? What these graphs reveal is a larger story, in which more people give to liberal causes and candidates than to conservative ones, even if Americans are about equally divided in which party they support (and no, this isn’t the result of liberals being wealthier, the connections between income and ideology or party are pretty weak). Here are some graphs from late October showing Biden having more individual donors than Trump in every battleground state.”…

    Post by Scott Alexander referenced by Richard Hanania;

    “Contra Hanania On Partisanship
    My one regret is that I can no longer use the “too many graphs” tag”

  34. Gladdys says you can leave home if you think you have ” a reasonable excuse ” .
    Dan say you can only leave home for ” one of 5 approved reasons ” .If in doubt there is a phone number to ring.

  35. Ikonoclast: – “The trouble is nothing substantive is being done to stop climate change. It is all window dressing and green-wash.”

    ICYMI, on Aug 8, David Spratt and Ian Dunlop, in their op-ed titled The net zero emission illusion, they included:

    The assumption behind the current enthusiasm for NZE2050 is that, with a bit of tweaking and gradual action, an orderly transition can ensue, leading to a perpetuation of the current economic system and its power structures.

    That is no longer possible. The degree of change required to avoid catastrophic climate impacts, and the speed with which it must be implemented, means that emergency action, akin to a wartime level of mobilisation, is essential. A major discontinuity is inevitable; we must re-boot our societies onto genuinely sustainable pathways if human civilisation is to survive.

    It seems short-term interests trump future survival and prosperity.

    …There Masini’s 09Aug2021 paper linked below is one result of two. The Steve Keen 01Sep2020 paper being the other.

    The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought
    Research Article
    William Nordhaus: A disputable nobel? externalities, climate change, and governmental action
    Fabio Masini ORCID Icon
    Published online: 09 Aug 2021
    Download citation

    In 2018 William Nordhaus was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics for his contributions to the macroeconomics of climate change. Nevertheless, Nordhaus since the early 1970s was engaged in an academic struggle to contrast the major supporters of The Limits to Growth. Later, though acknowledging some impact of climate change on economic activity and suggesting taxes on greenhouse emissions, he systematically opposed pessimistic views concerning global warming; thus putting off governmental action. The aim of this paper is to enquire into the Nordhaus’s contributions to the economics of climate change, and their impact on academic and public debates.”

  37. Sounds like carparks and pork barrels;


    “The scale of the bailout that the political authorities cooked up for big business was mind-boggling, but their lack of concern about monitoring its disbursal was more remarkable still. The cares Act spelled out an elaborate set of formal conditions concerning who qualified for Fed–Treasury largesse and what they could and could not do with the advances they received. But the Act also left the door wide open for Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who was initially in charge of administering the law, to ignore those conditions over time, thanks to its ambiguity of language, inconsistencies, loopholes and qualifications.footnote7”

    23•May/June 2020


  38. Turkey has just been burnt out in the south, and is now washed away in the north.

    “..The floods brought chaos to northern provinces just as authorities were declaring wildfires that raged through southern coastal regions for two weeks had been brought under control.

    About 45 centimetres of rain fell in less than three days in one village near Bozkurt.

    Torrents of water tossed dozens of cars and heaps of debris along streets, destroyed bridges, closed roads and cut off electricity to hundreds of villages.”

Leave a Reply

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

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s