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

34 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. I must admit I’ve been a bit sceptical about the potential for significantly reducing the social burden of common respiratory viruses. However, the below refers to an interesting development – the potential eradication of a strain of flu. That could make flu vaccines cheaper or more effective. Apparently there are two strains of flu that don’t have an animal reservoir, so if they disappear in humans, they disappear forever.

    How might a hypothetical environmentalist advocate that we protect this strain from extinction? I reckon increased casualisation would be near the top of their list of demands.

  2. John – Could you say something about Australia’s current covid policy? If you’ve blogged about this recently, I’ve missed it.

  3. Published at The Guardian on Oct 1 was a piece by Matt Stoller headlined America faces supply-chain disruption and shortages. Here’s why. It includes:

    The specific policies that led to our supply constrained world are lax antitrust, deregulation of basic infrastructure industries like shipping, railroads and trucking, disinvestment in domestic production, and trade policy emphasizing finance over manufacturing.

    And in conclusion:

    Fundamentally, America has to move away from the goal of seeking cheap stuff made abroad for consumers in a low-wage economy. That means rearranging our hierarchies of power so finance, consulting and capital-light tech leaders became less important than people who know how to make things. The problem we have is shortages, so it’s time to put people in charge who value production.

    Chickens coming home to roost!

  4. Geoff,

    Key thinkers warned us decades ago that this would happen. I am thinking of John Quiggin (Economist, Australia), Michael Pusey (Social Scientist, Australia) and John Ralston Saul (Novelist, Historian, Social and Economic Philosopher, Canada) all writing from the 1980s and/or 1990s on directly topics related to this. The basics were also implicit in quite disparate thinkers from Karl Marx and Thorstein Veblen to John Maynard Keynes. One could nominate other thinkers in the political economy arena. We all have our favorites.

    The key figures I mentioned above are all vindicated. This is not to say all or any were perfectly correct about every prediction. But their broad brush predictions were correct and they were correct for a good reason. They were/are all essentially empiricists. They paid attention to the empirical evidence from nature and society. They also understood the difference between the formal and the real, the prescriptive and the descriptive. They also thought and wrote from a position of “good faith”. I don’t mean that religiously, I mean it from the point of view that they were concerned about truth, as empirically verifiable truth, and also concerned about the common good.

    The right wing operate in bad faith. They don’t care about truth, only power. Only in so far as truth serves their power are they interested in truth. Otherwise, as post-truth developments have clearly shown, they are completely uninterested in truth. They are also completely uninterested in interests other than their own. They care nothing for other humans nor for animals, plants or the environment.

    Such bad faith is highly damaging. Not only does it sever the link to empirical truth it severs the link to all humanity and leads directly to the widespread destruction of all the environmental and human values necessary for quality survival or indeed any survival at all.

    The levels of corruption around the world now stink to high heaven. The system is ending in rampant corruption, destruction and collapse. The paradise papers and the pandora papers show that. Many, many other facts show that. Consider the levels of corruption exposed here:

    This is a system collapsing in terminal corruption and terminal environmental destruction. I wish it were different. I wish there were some hope. If people had listened to the above thinkers it would have been different.

  5. That’s a brilliant read, Geoff. I particularly like this line, “The entire industry has now consolidated globally into three giant alliances that occasionally crash their too-big-to-sail ships into the side of the Suez canal.” I think it highlights the fact that events which appear in the newspaper to be bad luck or isolated incidents may be symptoms of a deeper structural issue when viewed from a broader perspective.

  6. Ikonoclast: – “If people had listened to the above thinkers it would have been different.

    I’d suggest most people don’t want to think about and don’t want to listen to inconvenient information. Unfortunately, many people need to learn the hard way, by traumatic examples/experiences before they will even consider change – stop worrying, she’ll be right – until it isn’t.

    seqaugur: – “I think it highlights the fact that events which appear in the newspaper to be bad luck or isolated incidents may be symptoms of a deeper structural issue when viewed from a broader perspective.

    Eventually, good luck runs out and the fragilities of the system are revealed.

    Posted at Resource Insights blog on Oct 3, was an op-ed by Kurt Cobb headlined Things do not have to run out for their scarcity to become destabilizing, which concludes with:

    We are seeing just how much the cornucopian view of the future depends on the smooth functioning of a tightly networked complex global system which is filled with fragilities—fragilities that the pandemic and the emerging scarcity of physical resources and labor are making all too visible. The long-term sustainability of that system is now being called into question across the board. And, it’s not because anything is running out. The problems in the system are showing up long before that will ever happen.

  7. The full reasonings behind the Govt’s approval of the Mangoola coal mine are below.

    In essence, and I could have this wrong, the approval was granted because emissions from this coal, on a global scale, would be trivial and if the mine did not proceed coal would be obtained elsewhere.

    They say that the demand for thermal coal has been due to both a growing demand for energy and the failure of renewables to meet that growing demand.

    There was an acknowledgement of the GHG emissions but this was countered somewhat by the Govts own record of meeting and beating climate goals.

  8. England is getting one million cases per month and 1000 deaths per week .60 % of the deaths are disabled people .I am pretty sure that if those were otherwise healthy children this wouldn’t be acceptable. Our authorities here must be wondering what it will take for us to avoid the English predicament.

  9. akarog: – “In essence, and I could have this wrong, the approval was granted because emissions from this coal, on a global scale, would be trivial and if the mine did not proceed coal would be obtained elsewhere.

    Whether it’s the Mangoola coal mine in the NSW Hunter Valley or the Alpha coal mine in the Queensland Galilee Basin, it’s the excuse that so far keeps getting repeated. Environmental Law Australia discusses the so-called ‘Drug Dealers’ Defence’:

    This case is the leading example of the Drug Dealers’ Defence for Australian coal mines. This defence is used to avoid legal liability for the contribution the burning of coal from a mine makes to climate change. It says: “if we didn’t supply the coal, another mine would, so allowing this mine will have no impact on climate change.”

    The decisions of the Queensland Court of Appeal and the High Court have, in effect, approved this defence as lawful for Australian coal mines.

    This defence would not avoid criminal liability for a person charged with drug dealing. A drug dealer cannot avoid liability by saying, “if I didn’t sell them the drugs, someone else would.” Yet it has succeeded, at least for now, in Australian courts for coal mines.

    It’s why GHG emissions keep rising and why regulatory bodies keep failing to reign in climate change, as Ketan Joshi tweeted last night:

    I’d suggest Governments and regulatory bodies are facilitating human civilisation collapse through their continued encouragement and approvals of more fossil fuel projects.

    akarog: – “There was an acknowledgement of the GHG emissions but this was countered somewhat by the Govts own record of meeting and beating climate goals.

    Climate Action Tracker would say differently:
    Australia’s Overall Rating: HIGHLY INSUFFICIENT

  10. Frances Haugen’s testimony on Facebook is damning:
    Zuckerberg and his hired shill Nick Clegg.have striven, with some success, like to frame the problem as one of frees speech, creating furrowed-brow dilemmas. Should I be allowed to post a message saying “Off the pigs” on my FB page? But the frame is wrong. It makes no difference what I write to my small circle of acquaintances, who will merely think I have gone further off my rocker. If i were a Black Bloc anarchist, my circle of the like-minded would still be small (and half of them cops and spooks). What makes Facebook a Lord of Misrule, on a par with the Murdoch empire, is that its algorithms are primed to recommend my asinine post and similar web pages to strangers. Its corporate aim is tomaximise engagement: responses, polemics, page clicks that entice advertisers. For this purpose, the opposite responses “You commie cretin, Blus Llves Matter” and “here’s how to make your own armour-piercing ammo / tear gas mask” are just as good; the more rage and conflict the better.

    You think I exaggerate? This is how it played out in Burma:
    “Researchers began by liking a Myanmar military fan page, which was not seen to be violating Facebook’s terms. They found that Facebook then suggested several pro-military pages that did contain abusive content. “We didn’t have to look hard to find this content; FB’s algorithm led us to it,” said Rosie Sharpe, a digital researcher who worked on the report. “Of the first five pages they recommended, three of them contained content that broke FB’s rules by, for example, inciting or glorifying violence.” ”

    Recommendations are clearly an editorial function for a media platform, not a reporting or enabling one. Facebook, and its monocrat Mark Zuckerberg, are 100% responsible for each recommendation and the algorithm that sends it out to each of 2bn customers. Zuckerberg doesn’t have to offer recommendations at all, or he could stick to soothing cat videos and crochet circles. It´’s past time to force him to do so.

  11. Just had a social worker explain to me that she cannot apply* the usual get tested or vaccinated rules because, no joke: Someone might not get a certificate that he is unable to get vaccinated for medical reasons from his doctor, because the doctors are so strict! And one would not want to exclude that person! Apperently it is fine to exclude me or anyone else who does not want to get exposed to walking covid incubators however.

    *From the legal point of view, things are rather the opposite. Her boss managed to get away with a very creative classification of the setting due to a rather clueless health inspector. With a proper classification, a test or vaccination mandate would apply.

  12. sunshine: – “England is getting one million cases per month and 1000 deaths per week .60 % of the deaths are disabled people .

    As at Oct 7, in the UK there were 755 deaths over the last 7 days (within 28 days of a positive COVID test). The latest figures and graph suggest a downward trend.

    By comparison, there are around 48,000 deaths from sepsis in the UK each year, per BBC:

    IMO, the more pertinent question is how many people will continue to suffer from ‘long-COVID’? I’d suggest that number will likely be much larger than the COVID deaths. Time will tell.

  13. hix: – “Just had a social worker explain to me that she cannot apply* the usual get tested or vaccinated rules because, no joke: Someone might not get a certificate that he is unable to get vaccinated for medical reasons from his doctor, because the doctors are so strict!

    Broadcast on Radio 2GB on Sep 9 was an on-air discussion between host Ray Hadley and Westmead Institute for Medical Research Clinical Professor Graeme Stewart. In the podcast, Prof Stewart said from time interval 5:55 (bold text my emphasis):

    So this concept that you can’t be vaccinated against COVID for medical reasons or a medical grounds – I’ve been asked that often as a clinical immunologist – who are these people? And the short answer is: They do not exist. There is a COVID vaccine product for everyone. Um, some people can’t take Pfizer, and some people can’t take AstraZeneca, although these percentages are way under one per cent of people; more like ah, one in a thousand who can’t.

  14. Published at The Guardian on Oct 6 was an article by Royce Kurmelovs headlined ‘Eye-watering’: climate change disasters will cost Australia billions each year, study finds, that begins with:

    Climate change-related disasters will cost Australia $73bn a year by 2060, even if action to curb emissions is taken now, a report has found.

    And if nothing is done to tackle climate change, that figure will grow to $94bn a year by that date, a study by Deloitte Access Economics says.

    Dan Gocher, the director of climate and environment at the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility, reportedly said:

    “This research quantifies the cost of doing nothing about climate change,” Gocher said. “It’s the perfect riposte to those who repeatedly question the cost of reducing emissions.”

    Something to look forward to! 🙄

  15. GM: “Something to look forward to! ” 300 years ago…

    Para 3 & 4 below rhymes with the Murray Darling – unhappy locals, bought politicians, capital ‘works’ and the poor having lost access to bush tucker.


    “Age of Invention: Capital Finds a Way

    “One of these loose ends was a throwaway remark in Lewes Roberts’s 1638 description of the world through the eyes of an English merchant. In talking of Amsterdam, he noted how it had become wealthy because of the “great plenty of moneys which they deliver out at easy rates of interest”, which was now seeking investment opportunities with which to earn higher returns. 

    “Dutch investors and creditors spooked. When circulating coinage became scarce in 1621, some members of Parliament “were of opinion the withdrawing of the Dutch merchants was the cause of this sudden damp”.

    “Dutch capital soon returned, but it was often a source of tension. Dutch investors put up vast sums in the 1620s and 30s for the engineer Cornelius Vermuyden to drain the English marshes and fens — their reward was often thousands of acres of reclaimed land, to be put to pasture or plough. The king encouraged the schemes, taking a cut of the proceeds for himself. But the locals were often unhappy. The marshy so-called “wastes” were of economic importance to the poor: a source of thatch for shelter, of peat for heat, and of fish and fowl for food. And local landowners were annoyed by the diversion of waters that made their pastureland rich. Fennish resistance to the investments often turned violent, as catalogued in James Boyce’s book Imperial Mud.

    “Other commentators lamented that the “innumerable wealth” of the Dutch was impoverishing the kingdom. “What trades are there in which they have not stocks going, or scriveners with money to lend,” asked admiral Sir William Monson, “what land is to be sold, or mortgage to be had, that they have not the first refusal of?” Monson thought it self-evident that they were taking masses of money abroad, and that they had captured various English politicians to support their interest, to the detriment of the country. “…

    …” When in 1624 the English Parliament debated reducing the maximum legal interest rate on loans from 10 to 8 per cent, MPs against the proposal — including a very senior merchant representing London — estimated that the Dutch had about £800,000 invested in the country and “would carry it elsewhere”, probably to Italy or Spain. Such heavy-handed economic policy would, they said, “breed a garboil” (a wonderful archaic word for turmoil).

    “Yet the anti-usurers carried the day: an alliance of religious moralisers, MPs who as debtors stood personally to gain from the change, and a few who believed that the Dutch had purposefully lowered their own interest rates in order to give themselves a competitive advantage in trade. They seem to have ignored the argument already being made by many economic thinkers of the time, that Dutch low interest rates were simply a reflection of underlying economic conditions. (When the maximum interest rate in England was lowered again in 1651, to 6 per cent, it was when a lot of Dutch capital had probably already fled the upheaval of civil war.)”…

  16. Ernestine, I haven’t forgotten to answer “Is this why you agree with me KT2?”

    The short answer is no, but that would be doing us both, and JQ & this blog, an injustice.

    I have 3 answers in addition to no. When I can make them one, I’ll post.

  17. James, Mark Z, at 52% of voting rights, one day will have to pay us reparations for theiving the Commons. 

    From ethics paper below:
    …” [Facebook ] now planned to follow us more deeply into the Commons by developing new mapping technology combined with smart camera equipped Augmented Reality (AR) eyeglasses, that will track, render and record the Commons—and us with it.”

    I have spoken up and complained. To PM&C, OIC & others. But try stopping the future. And if such becomes accepted, best place a Commons Tax on such recordings. The externalities will be huge in $s & resources to file, manage and secure.

    “Why Facebook is using Ray-Ban to stake a claim on our faces

    “To build the metaverse, Facebook needs us to get used to smart glasses.

    “Earlier this year, I wrote an ethics paperwith Catherine Flick of De Montfort University in the UK, which was published in the May 2021 Journal of Responsible Technology. We argued that the unbridled deployment of “smart glasses” raises serious unforeseen questions about the future of public social interaction.

    “While Facebook conducts an enormous beta test in our public spaces, concerned people will be even more on guard in public and may even take evasive measures, such as wearing hats or glasses, or turning away from anyone wearing Ray-Bans. If Facebook adds facial recognition to these glasses in the future, as the company is reportedly considering, people will have to find new countermeasures. This robs us of our peace.

    “Ray-Ban Stories are now for sale in the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Italy, and Australia. How people use and respond to the device will vary wildly across countries that have different social norms, values, laws, and expectations of privacy. Facebook may be one of the first companies to attempt to deploy smart camera glasses, but it will not be the last. Many other versions will follow, and we’ll need to look out not just for Ray-Bans, but for all types of devices recording us in more subtle ways. 

    “Now go out and get yourself some big black frames,
    With the glass so dark they won’t even know your name,
    And the choice is up to you cause they come in two classes,
    Rhinestone shades or cheap sunglasses.
    —ZZ Top

    “Facebook’s Project Aria indicates problems for responsible innovation when broadly deploying AR and other pervasive technology in the Commons

    “Facebook, once content to harvest our data through its website, cookies, and apps on mobile phones and computers, has now planned to follow us more deeply into the Commons by developing new mapping technology combined with smart camera equipped Augmented Reality (AR) eyeglasses, that will track, render and record the Commons—and us with it. The resulting data will privately benefit Facebook’s continued goal to expand its worldwide reach and growth. In this paper, we examine the ethical implications of Facebook’s Project Aria research pilot through the perspectives of Responsible Innovation, comparing both existing understandings of Responsible Research and Innovation and Facebook’s own Responsible Innovation Principles; we contextualise Project Aria within the Commons through applying current social multi-dimensional communications theory to understand the extensive socio-technological implications of Project Aria within society and culture; and we address the potentially serious consequences of the Facebook Project Aria experiment, inspiring countless other companies to shift their focus to compete with Project Aria, or beat it to the consumer marketplace.”

  18. “And the short answer is: They do not exist. There is a COVID vaccine product for everyone.”
    Just another doctor that is way to strict, not takeing into account the fealt alterantive facts of the patient! And i got no business saying vaccines are efficient anyway, since i´m no doctor and thus just fall fool to the fabriccations of the farma profit interests! And don´t you know vaccinated people can transmit the virus aswell, it is just political prophaganda serving other (possibly ominous capitalist) interestes to emphasice the utility of vaccines that much.

    Made up the first answer, the other two are comments by another social worker working at the same site. With regards to incoherent quasi sectarian anti-science closed subculture thaught bubbles and an utter inabillity to change perspective, social workers tend to be in the high risk category unfortunately.

    Usually that would not be that big of a problem if there were a sane adult in charge. Unfortunately most entities in that sector are run by the church, so the supposedly sane adult usually is just another type of crazy, the religious type. At least that is one working theory of mine for now – that the church side is also a problem with sanity in this case, since a quick overview revealed that two simiilar places run by different non religious entities do apply the vaccinated cured or tested mandate, while another one under the umbrella of the same church does not have one either. Those other sites are unfortunately a very long commute away, so they don´t help me. Neither do they help the more gullible visistors to the site i mentioned -many have schizophrenia, thus are hardly capable to stand up for their interests. At the same time, schizophrenia is the second highest covid death risk factor after age, ahead of things like obesity or smokeing according to one study.

  19. Got impulse control issues, want edit botton to improve horrible writing :-(. A social worker voodoo doll would also be nice.

    All that would be a non issue if we had a stricter government mandates like the other western European nations dealing with a larger loony wing. But no, freeedooomm! We would not want to impose on such a private choice like getting vaccinated or not. Everybody has the right to infect others!

  20. Big breaking news on global taxation

    The OCD has got the deal. Press release: Full incomprehensible communiqué

    Plea for a post by JQ to help us understand whether this is actually a big change, or too full of loopholes to make a difference.

    Random jottings:
    1. The global minimum profits tax rate on multinationals is 15% (Pillar 2). Expected tax yield is $150 bn a year, mainly to rich countries where the multinationals are domiciled. Under Piliar One, a step towards unitary taxation, “taxing rights on more than USD 125 billion of profit are expected to be reallocated to market jurisdictions each year. Developing country revenue gains are expected to be greater than those in more advanced economies, as a proportion of existing revenues.” Not egalitarian but still much better for LDCs than he status quo if it works out. At first sight, the deal bears out my earlier argument hat the Westphalian principles of international law give power to the crowd of small actors, if they work together.
    2. The importance of the deal is shown by Blinken’s attendance at the normally routine OECD ministerial meeting where it was announced.
    3. The end of tax havens for corporations? Don’t bet on it, but their scope should be reduced.
    4. The future timetable is tight, with implementation starting in 2023. Pillar One will need a multilateral convention (treaty) offering scope for delays, but very hard to undo once signed. For Pillar One, the approach is more though modifying bilateral tax treaties- I imagine this allows more US leverage, on the issue that matters most to Washington.
    5. One big loophole is evident: the minimum tax only applies to profits over 10% of revenue. This IIRC leaves out Amazon’s retail business – run on low margins to kill competition -, though not its IT services if these can be separated out. Finance, mining and shipping are also excluded.

  21. Sample unit from “The Economy” at end.

    JQ, Ernestine et al, love to hear a few words from you on;

    “Is It Time for a New Economics Curriculum?

    “The Economy,” a new textbook, is designed for the post-neoliberal age.

    By Nick Romeo

    “Carlin, now in her mid-sixties, speaks in short, precise sentences, with a trace of an Australian accent.

    …” [Martin Luther] King’s letter included questions about why jobs were leaving city centers and how exactly education might promote greater equality. “I didn’t have a clue how to answer them,” Bowles recalled. In attempting to respond to King, he consulted colleagues with a range of specialties at Harvard; afterward, he concluded that he had learned more in that effort than in his entire previous training as an economist. He made a resolution: he would either try to expand the field of economics or leave it. Now eighty-two, he heads the Santa Fe Institute’s behavioral-sciences program and has published on subjects ranging from inequality in the Neolithic to the modern American educational system.

    “Carlin and Bowles began talking seriously about collaborating in 2011″…

    “Compared with other textbooks, “The Economy” sometimes seems to reverse foreground and background. “Principles of Economics,” written by the Harvard economist N. Gregory Mankiw, declares that “markets are usually a good way to organize economic activity”; “Macroeconomics,” by Paul Krugman and Robin Wells, tells students that “markets move toward equilibrium.” Bowles and Carlin, in contrast, present market failure as far more pervasive, and not as a rare deviation from a generally efficient and desirable status quo. Most economics textbooks, they argue, in a recent paper on economics pedagogy, lead students to “reasonably conclude that the economy is about interactions in competitive markets (a positive statement) that function pretty well (a normative one) and in which governments ought not to meddle.” coreprovides reasons and evidence to challenge all three positions.

    “Recently, Bowles and Carlin published a statistical analysis, comparing the relative frequency of topics in core’s “The Economy” with other textbooks. Some of the words that appear more commonly in “The Economy” are “Gini” (a measure of inequality), “bargaining,” “environment,” “global,” and “democracy.” Their analysis also shows that core offers greater coverage of economic history and thought, game theory, behavioral economics, and comparative international development. It’s not that the other textbooks omit these topics entirely but that coreforegrounds them. Bowles told me about an informal rule among publishers that no more than fifteen per cent of the material in a new textbook should deviate from the dominant ones. He estimates that the figure for core is closer to seventy per cent.

    “What might have been radical thirty years ago may strike many young people today as obvious. After a summer of floods and fires, readers will not be shocked to learn that the economy depends on a functional ecology: “The economy is part of society, which is part of the biosphere,” the core textbook reads. The pandemic also has underscored how much economic activity consists of “goods and services that are produced within the household, such as meals or childcare (predominantly provided by women).” If taken seriously, such insights would probably require major changes to how we measure the economy and its performance. Using G.D.P. to assess economic growth without somehow including the costs of widespread environmental degradation or the value of domestic labor would be incoherent. corestill relies on G.D.P., but it acknowledges some of the limits and criticisms that pertain to long-dominant models in economics.

    “core also presents a view of psychology in which people are motivated by more than self-interest.”…

    Unit from “The Economy”:-

    “EXERCISE 22.11 
    “Redraw Figure 22.16 and 22.17 using a different definition of democracy, over the same period as in Figure 22.13 (1890–2015). For example, allow a country to be ‘democratic’ even if “…

    “22.11 A puzzle: The persistence of unfairness and market failures in democracies

    “Contemporary South Africa is just one example of a society in which there are opportunities for mutual gain that are not exploited—for example, More than one-quarter of the labour force are unemployed. And it is widely held—even by many well-off South Africans—that the distribution of the economy’s burdens and benefits is still grossly unfair.

    “The previous units have shown similar cases in which economic outcomes are Pareto inefficient, so potential mutual gains remain unrealized, as the summary table in Figure 12.8 showed. Figure 22.3 listed policies aimed at addressing inefficiency and perceived unfairness. And we know that citizens in many countries think the distribution of wealth or income is unfair.

    “This is a puzzle. If government action could realize potential gains, and the citizens in a democracy would prefer that it did, why do these inefficiencies persist in a democratic society with a capitalist economy? The short answer is that just as markets fail, so too do governments.

    Government failure
    “Fixing some problem of Pareto inefficiency or perceived unfairness will happen only if:. ..”…

  22. Doctors who won’t have COCID-19 vaccinations! You really have to wonder what they learnt in pre-med science and medical school. Not much, has to be the answer. These (rare) science denialist outliers in the medical profession are refusing to provide service where they are required to have a mandatory vaccine. I say good riddance. A science denialist doctor is a contradiction in terms.

  23. KT2,

    The main reason modern, democratic governments fail is “government capture”, meant in the same sense as “regulatory capture”. The main political parties, and the governments they form, are captured by the elites; by corporate and plutocratic capitalists forming a marriage of convenience with right wing populism and religious fundamentalism. The corporations and plutocrats get the policies they want. The majority of the people do not get the policies they want. This has been studied and proven.

    Click to access gilens_and_page_2014_-testing_theories_of_american_politics.doc.pdf

    The Western systems of governance are captured by capital and are terminally corrupt. This will lead, and is leading, to Western collapse. We are collapsing right now. It’s a slow motion collapse from a high base and people don’t notice at first. But as it accelerates more and more people will notice. Will anything change? Yes, but possibly not in time. We have to hope that very soon people get seriously exercised about what is happening and that there is a robust movement to overthrow elite rule and give effect to mass democratic rule. Without that we are lost.

  24. Published in today’s SMH Traveller paper edition cover story headlined Gateways to the Future, Lee Tulloch writes:

    But, believe it or not, experts predict the golden age of air travel, and for that matter airports, is still to come.

    Which “experts”?

    Meanwhile, published in Nature on Sep 8 was an article headlined Unextractable fossil fuels in a 1.5 °C world, that included (bold text my emphasis):

    Parties to the 2015 Paris Agreement pledged to limit global warming to well below 2 °C and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C relative to pre-industrial times[1]. However, fossil fuels continue to dominate the global energy system and a sharp decline in their use must be realized to keep the temperature increase below 1.5 °C (refs. [2,3,4,5,6,7]). Here we use a global energy systems model[8] to assess the amount of fossil fuels that would need to be left in the ground, regionally and globally, to allow for a 50 per cent probability of limiting warming to 1.5 °C. By 2050, we find that nearly 60 per cent of oil and fossil methane gas, and 90 per cent of coal must remain unextracted to keep within a 1.5 °C carbon budget. This is a large increase in the unextractable estimates for a 2 °C carbon budget[9], particularly for oil, for which an additional 25 per cent of reserves must remain unextracted. Furthermore, we estimate that oil and gas production must decline globally by 3 per cent each year until 2050. This implies that most regions must reach peak production now or during the next decade, rendering many operational and planned fossil fuel projects unviable. We probably present an underestimate of the production changes required, because a greater than 50 per cent probability of limiting warming to 1.5 °C requires more carbon to stay in the ground and because of uncertainties around the timely deployment of negative emission technologies at scale.

    And from YaleEnvironment360 was an article by Fred Pierce headlined Amid Troubles for Fossil Fuels, Has the Era of ‘Peak Oil’ Arrived?, published on Jun 24, it included:

    While road transport makes up 48 percent of global oil demand, petrochemicals account for 14 percent, aviation 7 percent and shipping 6 percent. So net-zero will also require cuts to those markets. Those cuts may often depend on technologies that are not yet fully developed, said Rystad, the Norwegian consultancy.

    It foresees reductions in petrochemicals demand from technologies that allow much greater recycling of plastic waste, for instance. It also expects ships to switch to hydrogen fuel cells or electric batteries starting in the mid-2030s. But it anticipates a “strong upward trajectory” in aviation demand for kerosene through to 2050, because “no viable oil substitution technology exists.”

    An inhabitable planet or more air travel?

  25. Actually, the final result won’t be an “inhabitable planet or more air travel?” The final result will be an uninhabitable planet AND no air travel. The system is collapsing now. People just can’t see it yet. Large swathes of the planet are trending towards uninhabitability (by humans) as we speak or write.

    Australia’s top climate scientist says “we are already deep into the trajectory towards collapse”.

    “Given the momentum in both the Earth and human systems, and the growing difference between the ‘reaction time’ needed to steer humanity towards a more sustainable future, and the ‘intervention time’ left to avert a range of catastrophes in both the physical climate system (e.g., melting of Arctic sea ice) and the biosphere (e.g., loss of the Great Barrier Reef), we are already deep into the trajectory towards collapse,” said Steffen.

    “That is, the intervention time we have left has, in many cases, shrunk to levels that are shorter than the time it would take to transition to a more sustainable system.

    “The fact that many of the features of the Earth System that are being damaged or lost constitute ‘tipping points’ that could well link to form a ‘tipping cascade’ raises the ultimate question: Have we already lost control of the system? Is collapse now inevitable?” – Will Steffen.

    Steffen frames it as a question by using the word “inevitable”. He could easily have framed it as a statement by using the words “very likely”. It is very likely we will collapse catastrophically. It is very unlikely that we can save ourselves now. Having said that, we still have to try of course.

    The picture will be one of rolling regional collapses. Certainly the whole world of humans (called global civilization) will not collapse all at once and everywhere: at least not unless there is a nuclear war, supervolcano event or a large asteroid strike. But regional collapses will begin and become part of the new patchwork picture of ongoing global civilizational collapse.

    Below is an excellent article about collapse, albeit a particular kind of collapse brought on by civil war. But it takes little extra imagination to apply it to any collapse, which is the point of the article. And of course real collapse will bring wars, civil wars, insurrections and riots. There will be all that too… almost everywhere eventually. Here’s an excellent quote first and then the link.

    “If you’re waiting for a moment where you’re like “this is it,” I’m telling you, it never comes. Nobody comes on TV and says “things are officially bad.” There’s no launch party for decay. It’s just a pileup of outrages and atrocities in between friendships and weddings and perhaps an unusual amount of alcohol.

    Perhaps you’re waiting for some moment when the adrenaline kicks in and you’re fighting the virus or fascism all the time, but it’s not like that. Life is not a movie, and if it were, you’re certainly not the star. You’re just an extra. If something good or bad happens to you it’ll be random and no one will care. If you’re unlucky you’re a statistic. If you’re lucky, no one notices you at all.

    Collapse is just a series of ordinary days in between extraordinary bullshit, most of it happening to someone else. That’s all it is.” – Indi Samarajivah.

    The second last sentence is true to a point. Eventually, unless we are one of the super-privileged, difficult stuff will be happening to us everyday… if we are not already dead. Eventually, we won’t have any reliable power, internet, computer, TV, phone, or car with fuel. We’ll be lucky if we have enough food. Even here, in Australia.

  26. Lockdown mortality tradeoffs
    John Quiggin on Twitter on 8 October says
    Getting an actual number of acceptable deaths out of “living with Covid” advocates is like pulling teeth, but most seem to think that it would be OK t’o equal “bad flu” or “flu + pneumonia” which is around 4000/year or 14/day. We are above that right now.
    Conclusion: we shouldn’t make big changes until unvaxed rates are lower or we have other new interventions. At current rates, we ought to have unvaxed below 10 % (of 12+) by Xmas’

    I think 4,000 deaths a year from ‘flu + pneumonia’ is a good number to test out tradeoff issues. But most people don’t realise how big that number is relatively speaking. It is about a 2.5% increase in deaths in 2019. It is useful to understand that a 2.5% increase in deaths is roughly a 0.30 year loss in life expectancy in the year. This is 110 days of life lost on average for each Australian.
    So to understand intuitively the tradeoff between an early relaxation of lockdown versus a higher death rate, one can run a thought experiment of reducing lockdown by a month and estimating the utility gain in that month, and comparing it to the higher deaths that result. If reducing the length of lockdown by a month leads to the deaths in November increasing by 2.5%, that is 9 days of life lost (1/12th of 110 days). And that can be compared to the utility gain in October because of an earlier relaxation of lockdown. There needs to be a very substantial increase in utility in October to compensate for the higher deaths in November, because 9 days of life lost in a month can be considered to be a 30% loss of utility. Ie 9 days of life lost compared to 30 days lived in the month.
    I think people can intuitively grasp the tradeoff involved if the numbers are presented in this way.
    This thought experiment shows the importance of getting a good grasp of the mortality cost of relaxing lockdown earlier. So if the mortality cost was 9 days of life lost in November and 9 days of life lost as well in December, that is a very large cost that needs to be outweighed by the utility gain from earlier relaxation of lockdown if earlier relaxation is to be seen as worthwhile.
    A more sophisticated version of this sort of tradeoff is done in Tony Blakely’s piece last year on the maths and ethics of minimizing Covid 19 deaths, , though Tony is comparing an eradication strategy with a flattening the curve strategy in March 2020.

  27. John Goss,

    That’s an interesting way of looking at it: the 30% loss of utility example. It shows the intellectual, moral and even economic poverty of opening up to soon. It actually shows the intellectual, moral and economic poverty of the entire Western approach to this whole pandemic. I have an inconvenient memory of you opposing hard lock-downs, for suppression, in early to mid 2020. Have I misremembered or have you changed your mind? It’s fine to change your mind of course, as you learn new facts and indeed as facts change on the ground; the increased R-nought of the Delta strain being a major issue of course.

  28. I wanted lockdowns that were as hard as necessary to get the job done of bringing the virus under control, but no harder, because lockdowns do reduce utility. I think it still unclear whether Victoria’s lockdown last year was harder than it needed to be. But I can understand why the Victorian Government perhaps erred on the side of excessive lockdown, given that experience has shown us that the cost of not getting the virus under control is very high.
    I’m not into the one solution of lock down hard, lock down early. I want to do what works regardless of ideological pressures.

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