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

50 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. Green shoots, perhaps? It does seem that Omicron is a milder version and this just may spell the beginning of the end of Covid, providing that vaccinations and public health treatment continues.

  2. Oh please, more of this “milder” myth? How many more times does this have to be debunked? If it is half as lethal and twice as contagious, it kills many more people. Lethality is linear and contagiousness exponential. But apparently no politicians and less than half the population understand what an exponential function is.

    “Overall, we find evidence of a reduction in the risk of hospitalisation for Omicron relative to Delta infections, averaging over all cases in the study period. The extent of reduction is sensitive to the inclusion criteria used for cases and hospitalisation, being in the range 20-25% when using any attendance at hospital as the endpoint, and 40-45% when using hospitalisation lasting 1 day or longer or hospitalisations with the ECDS discharge field recorded as “admitted” as the endpoint (Table 1). These reductions must be balanced against the larger risk of infection with Omicron, due to the reduction in protection provided by both vaccination and natural infection. A previous infection reduces the risk of any hospitalisation by approximately 50% (Table 2) and the risk of a hospital stay of 1+ days by 61% (95%CI:55-65%) (before adjustments for under ascertainment of reinfections).” – Report 50, Imperial College London.

    Meanwhile in New Covid Wales:

    “Sydney pathology clinic sends another 995 negative COVID-19 results in error.” – ABC.

    That’s in addition to the 400 they got wrong and revealed yesterday. The Sydney-Canberra LNP axis has created a major public health disaster in Australia. It was so avoidable too. We had all the warnings necessary from what Omicron has done to Europe, USA, etc. How many of these incorrectly cleared cases came to Qld. I wonder. I guess that’s supercharging our outbreak.

    Overall, it’s not even the beginning of the end. Lots, lots worse to come now we and everyone else (except China) have let this thing get totally out of control.

  3. Your gloomy prognosis is not supported by your reference;

    “Overall, we find evidence of a reduction in the risk of hospitalisation for Omicron relative to Delta infections,”

    Despite your misgivings we are not all doomed, Hanrahan.

  4. Compare the daily case rate Delta wave peak (in Aug-Sep) with the rapidly rising Omicron variant (in Dec).
    Professor Adrian Esterman tweeted earlier today (including graph of NSW moving daily average of daily cases):

    NSW had another 6324 cases and 3 deaths. The 7-day moving average is up to 5303, but the Reff is down to 1.67 – it was 2.60 on the 18th. This is a 5.5 day doubling time. There are 521 people in hospital, an increase of 63 on yesterday. Here is the epidemic curve.

    ABC 7:30 broadcast on Dec 13 a segment titled COVID-19 booster shots fast-tracked due to concerns over Omicron variant with Dr Norman Swan highlighting British data on the waning effectiveness of COVID vaccines to the Omicron variant.

    Double-dosed AstraZeneca vaccination effectiveness falls from 76% after 1-week, to 0% after week 15-19.
    Double-dosed Pfizer vaccination effectiveness falls from 88% after 1-week, to 34% after week 15-19.
    A booster shot increases effectiveness back above 70%.

    So, unless a booster (Pfizer or Moderna) is administered well within 4 months after primary vaccinations have been completed, it seems as if there’s little, if any protection against Omicron. That’s why ATAGI has recommended boosters be administered sooner, per their statement dated Dec 24:

    And then there’s long-COVID. It’s still too early to tell whether Omicron will lead to many long-COVID cases, but that doesn’t mean it should be dismissed as being inconsequential. From The Guardian article published on Dec 23 by JD Davids headlined Don’t dismiss Omicron as ‘mild’. Take it from a Covid long-hauler

    We’ve still got a lot to learn about Covid-19, including this new variant. But one thing we know for certain is that “mild Covid” can be debilitating and lead to long-term or permanent disease and disability.

    We now know that at least 10-30% of those who survive any Covid infection (from asymptomatic or “mild”to severe) will go on to live with (and sometimes die from) long Covid – a long-term, lifelong, or even life-threatening or fatal, disabling chronic syndrome, the biological pathways of which are still largely unknown.

    When will our leaders ever learn these lessons? By personal experience perhaps?

  5. It does seem that the govt is more than just inept, they are adopting an active collaboration with Covid.

    They have appeased active stakeholders; pubs and clubs, retailers et al.

    Welcome to the Vichy Govts of NSW and Australia.

  6. akarog,

    Point 1.

    Further on in the paragraph it is stated:

    “These reductions must be balanced against the larger risk of infection with Omicron, due to the reduction in protection provided by both vaccination and natural infection.”

    As I mentioned before, the effect of lethality on deaths is linear and the effect of contagion on deaths is exponential. We need to put the two ideas together and read the quoted paragraph in light off them. The two factors, and their interaction to generate a result, are what is important. Single factor thinking does not enable us to understand this pandemic.

    Point 2.

    I agree with your last post. The governments’ actions do look like active collaboration with Covid-19. You have hit on the reason why it looks like this. The governments’ actions have been active collaboration with “appeased active stakeholders; pubs and clubs, retailers et al.” Public health has not received any emphasis beyond vaccinations. There are no or inadequate preventative health measures involving non-pharmaceutical interventions, quarantines and what are known as cordons sanitaires (geographical isolations and lock-downs).

    You will note that the only interventions wholeheartedly researched / adopted arevaccinations and medications, as these enable businesses to continue to make money and even make more money in some cases. Those interventions like isolations and lock-downs that would mostly cost businesses money are resisted. The management of the pandemic has been carried out of the basis of the needs of capital meaning the greeds of those who own capital. The needs of the bulk of the people have taken a back seat compared to the greeds of the rich and their assumed need and right to continue to make large profits (and often pay no or low taxes.)

    This pandemic event has exposed the failure and ineptitude of late stage market fundamentalist capitalism coupled with minarchist (do-nothing) governments. The West will continue to collapse into chaos unless it changes this system and brings back social democratic measures.

  7. The infection of the world with COVID-19 is overall deliberate, not an accident. I am not saying anyone came up with a master plan to create COVID-19 and then infect the world with it. But once it was extant (most likely naturally but also possibly via a lab-leak), the early Western capitalist decisions to maintain business as usual, especially to maintain international flights (mostly non-essential people movements), amounted to a defacto decision to spread the virus globally. To willfully ignore obvious and warned-about dangers to others amounted to wilful blindness and indicated intention to continue pecuniary gain at the cost of harm to others.

    At the next stage, calls to lock-down were vigorously opposed by certain lobbies and finally the clear intent to spread COVID-19 everywhere became flagrantly obvious. These people wanted suppression attempts to fail.

    “Certainly, that’s what I’m picking up from the “Living with Covid” crowd on Twitter, arguing that NSW has already sent enough infections interstate to render suppression impossible.” – John Quiggin, Twitter.

    Even Qld’s CHO intends to spread COVID-19 everywhere. This is his avowed objective. In a speech which contains, in context, the key marker word of neoliberalism and managerialism, namely “inevitable”, he said COVID-19 HAD to be spread to move from pandemic to endemic. It was “necessary”. One can hardly imagine a medical and public official getting away with suggesting that Malaria, Cholera, TB and HIV were all necessary and should be spread to the entire population.

    This reaches the point of what might be termed social and public health sabotage. The health of the people is sabotaged to suit the dictates of capital. It is clear the strongest calls to open up without any safety protocols or limits (other than the sop of badly leaky vaccines at inadequate vaccination rates) came from big business and also from the small business proprietors in the non-essential and discretionary consumption sector. Meantime, the bulk of the population were lied to and then ignored.

    If the populace is to be so supine as to accept this outrage, this will signal to the elites that they can do anything they like without let or hindrance and that the public will never rise up, not even at the ballot box. The fully manipulable populace then will be letting the elites do anything they like.

    I suggest people both protect themselves and boycott all businesses supporting the spread of COVID-19. The two activities go hand in hand. You can only protect yourself if you boycott the type of businesses which spread COVID-19 and who indeed have lobbied for the spread of COVID-19. These are the business that cram people together for non-essential consumption and entertainment.

    In a time of crisis, we have to draw a firm line between essential and non-essential economic activities. Without drawing this firm line it is impossible to control this pandemic.

  8. Professor Adrian Esterman tweeted this morning his summation of the latest update on NSW COVID case rates (including graph):

    NSW had another 6062 cases. The 7-day moving average is up to 5733, but the Reff is lower at 1.57, the fifth drop in a row. The doubling time has now dropped back to 6 days. Hospitalisations are still increasing, currently at 557 – 36 more than yesterday.

    I wonder whether the NSW COVID testing system, with anecdotal evidence suggesting it’s stretched to the limits (with stories of 4+ hour waiting times for testing, testing centres closed, delayed reporting of results, and some false negative reporting results) is giving an accurate (or is it under-reported?) level of infection rates.

    An old adage comes to mind: Avoid getting seriously sick or rely on medical services in Australia during the Christmas – New Year holiday period.

    JQ tweeted yesterday:

    4 weeks ago: high vax rates, low cases, no need for restrictions
    3 weeks ago: Don’t look at cases, look at hospitalisations
    2 weeks ago: Don’t look at hospitalisations, look at ICU
    1 week ago: Don’t look at ICU, look at deaths
    Today: Too late suckers, you’re all going to get it

    IMO, a rather grim but reasonably accurate perception of the evolving state of play with the Morrison & Perrottet ‘leadership’, JQ.

    I note the short-lived Morrison & Perrottet’s “personal responsibility” pleas are omitted from this list, but I guess the character limit for twitter precluded it. 😉

  9. My prediction…
    Asking a politician or power broker about what they see as allowing in the future and – worse luck – their reply is the prediction.

    “The History of Predicting the Future

    “Humans have long tried to determine the shape of what’s to come. But even the most advanced technology can’t solve the fundamental issues with predictions.

    “WHATEVER THE APPROACH of the forecaster, and however sophisticated their tools, the trouble with predictions is their proximity to power. Throughout history, futures have tended to be made by white, well-connected, cis-male people. This homogeneity has had the result of limiting the framing of the future, and, as a result, the actions then taken to shape it. Further, predictions resulting in expensive or undesirable outcomes, like Turchin’s, tend to be ignored by those making the ultimate decisions. This was the case with the nearly two decades worth of pandemic war-gaming that preceded the emergence of Covid-19. Reports in both the US and the UK, for example, stressed the significance of public health systems in responding effectively to a global crisis, but they did not convince either country to bolster their systems. What’s more, no one predicted the extent to which political leaders would be unwilling to listen to scientific advice. Even when futures did have the advantage of taking into account human error, they still produced predictions that were systematically disregarded where they conflicted with political strategies.”

  10. Another personal responsibility – “carbon footprint pr campaign sham”.

    ^1.; Ogilvy & Mather to promote the slant that climate change is not the fault of an oil giant, but that of individuals.” …

    “This is one of the most successful, deceptive PR campaigns maybe ever,” said Benjamin Franta,”

    Both these links almost make me want to puke – at how easy it seems to fool us. I entirely agree Ernestine, a professional wordsmith & satarist-ziegtgiest-surfer pointing out we know they know we know and they keep saying it, and we keep our inkling down and our linking up, like a drug – carbon footprint. Thanks.

    Ernestine in the last ‘MMB on Tuesday’ said:
    “And this is how a professional puts it:

    Another professional… And a climate of mind numbing “personal responsibility” climate of ear worms and memes, in need of our constant vigilance;

    “The devious fossil fuel propaganda we all use”

    “The real message, underlying the staged tear and feather headdress, is that pollution is your problem, not the fault of the industry mass-producing cheap bottles.

    “Another heralded environmental advertising campaign, launched three decades later in 2000, also won a laudatory advertising award, a “Gold Effie.” The campaign impressed upon the American public that a different type of pollution, heat-trapping carbon pollution, is also your problem, not the problem of companies drilling deep into the Earth for, and then selling, carbonaceous fuels refined from ancient, decomposed creatures. British Petroleum, the second largest non-state owned oil company in the world, with18,700 gas and service stations worldwide, hired the public relations professionals Ogilvy & Mather to promote the slant that climate change is not the fault of an oil giant, but that of individuals.

    “It’s here that British Petroleum, or BP, first promoted and soon successfully popularized the term “carbon footprint” in the early aughts. The company unveiled its “carbon footprint calculator” in 2004 so one could assess how their normal daily life — going to work, buying food, and (gasp) traveling — is largely responsible for heating the globe. A decade and a half later, “carbon footprint” is everywhere. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has a carbon calculator. The New York Times has a guide on “How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint.” Mashable published a story in 2019 entitled “How to shrink your carbon footprint when you travel”. Outdoorsy brands love the term.

    “This is one of the most successful, deceptive PR campaigns maybe ever,” said Benjamin Franta, who researches law and history of science as a J.D.-Ph.D. student at Stanford Law School.

  11. A near new EV for $20k is in the affordable zone. But buying a new battery shortly after might blow it.

    Inside Australia’s growing pirate electric car market By Nick O’Malley, December 27
    (from Japan) an entry-level second-hand Leaf will cost about $20,000 and arrive with a range of around 110 kilometres, suitable for most commuting.

    The range will deteriorate over subsequent years before the battery needs to be swapped. But even then, if and when Australia adopts similar inverter equipment common in Japan, it could be reused as a powerful home battery.

    “It’s just like buying a battery with a small car chucked in,” he says.

    Finnish Man Passes on Paying $22,600 to Replace His Tesla’s Battery, Blows Up Car Instead
    To put this in perspective, $22,600 would go a long way to buying another used 2013 Model S in Finland, which appear to sell for more than $42,900.

  12. Weeks ago Dan Andrews had said Victorias mask mandate could go on December 15 th .Then omicron arrived and he changed his mind and left it intact .The Herald Sun front page the next day screamed ” SLAP IN THE FACE ! ” . Why do so many still listen to the Murdoch press when right from day one of the pandemic they have been so wrong so often ? I struggle to think of anything they have been correct about. I agree with Iko that the supposed inevitability this era of living with covid seems a voluntary calculation .Unfortunately the vast majority of Australians think it inevitable . We were doing fine until a NSW international flight crew quarantine driver who was not required to be vaccinated or even to wear a mask caught Delta .This more than 6 months after Victorias report into hotel quarantine established best practice principles. Now the NSW health minister said we will all get covid .Why did they wait until now to reveal this part of their plan ? As far as I know there still hasnt been a Covid leak from the Howard Springs facility. Surely what we are going through and will continue to suffer is more costly than making proper quarantine .Viruses do not have brains ,they behave in an entirely predictable manner.

  13. “A country can be classified as underequipped if it cannot outfit each citizen with a bicycle or provide a five-speed transmission as a bonus for anyone who wants to pedal others around. It is underequipped if it cannot provide good roads for the cycle, or free motorized public transportation (though at bicycle speed!) for those who want to travel for more than a few hours in succession. No technical, economic, or ecological reason exists why such backwardness should be tolerated anywhere in 1975. It would be a scandal if the natural mobility of a people were forced to stagnate on a pre-bicycle level against its will.

    A country can be classified as overindustrialized when its social life is dominated by the transportation industry, which has come to determine its class privileges, to accentuate its time scarcity, and to tie its people more tightly to the tracks it has laid out for them.”

    He argues that the invention of the ball-bearing changed everything and bikes are very effective. But when these cars come alone and are going more than about 25 miles an hour you get all this blow-back. Elsewhere he also takes donkeys to be powerfully effective. But horses not so much. We might be having a higher quality of life if we biked everywhere and used donkeys on our hillside farms.

  14. Now my dear Queenslanders, you may as well hear the truth as to the cause of any pandemic related management problems that have or will emerge in NSW: It is your fault. You have closed the border for too long [1], demand a quarantine facility and you demand people to actually quarantine [2], require negative PCR test results not older than 72 hours [3], and in general you refuse to take your fair share of Covid 19 cases that are necessary to show that a) Australians adhere to egalitarianism and b) embarrass the World Bank’s specialist for global tourism [4].

    [1] This caused family members to be unable to visit each other freely; totally unacceptable, particularly for those who promote large family values. (I recall at least 3 personal stories published in the smh).
    [2] As a consequence Qantas has to bring back its mothballed A380s earlier than planned because the pilots of B…. planes have to quarantine in QLD. (smh recent past). Considering that Qantas was founded in QLD, this is a slap in the face of this national icon.
    [3] This requirement has overloaded the NSW PCR testing system resulting in long queues at testing centres that is unacceptable. Moreover, on two occasions we know about so far, excessive work loads in a private facility attached to St Vincent hospital have resulted in human errors in the form of sending out a lot of false negative test results that were not corrected for a few days. How many isn’t quite clear to me, except there are several hundreds involved.
    [4] (a) The Premier of NSW has announced “we open up” and NSW is leading Australia out of the pandemic; NSW treats people as adults who take personal responsibility (see link reproduced by KT2 above). The Minister of Health says we expect a peak of 25,000 cases a day and we all get Covid. Obviously this calls for you Queenslanders to pull your weight (5.2/8.2), using the appropriate denominator for relevant populations.
    (b) The current specialist of global tourism at the World Bank is an Australian by the name of John Parrettet.

    The foregoing is not the output of a research project but a sincere effort on my part to convey the content of public messages I have received primarily from the smh. Unfortunately, a large part of daily life experiences of individuals, adults or otherwise, is not conditioned on academic research output but by messages received. This stuff also enters the memory of individuals. I don’t know how common it is for individuals to try to make sense out of messages by making up an ad hoc theory – I’ve tried to illustrate this process above. I noticed I can recall details of public statements made by virologists, epidemiologists, immunologists even in roughly chronological order, but I have difficulties with management talk, private or public.

  15. Iko: how do you think the pandemic will end? And how does this scenario differ from what we are seeing now? What I see is a variant of high infectiousness and low lethality busily mopping up all the non-vaccinated, mainly kids and young adults. mostly with mild infections.The UK is now the model for other rich countries. Infections are though the roof (100,000 a day), but hospital admissions are only moderately up and deaths slightly declining. BTW, since Omicron is only half as lethal as Delta by your pessimistic account, it will lead to half as many deaths over time – on the reasonable assumption that Delta would have hit herd immunity with the same number of infections summed over time. Omicron just compresses the timetable, with additional incidental deaths from hospital overload.

    I do agree with others that right or wrong, this take is fairly clearly the rationale behind the observed policy behaviour of many governments. It’s not just cowardice in the face of restriction fatigue and noisy antivax holdouts. There is also a widespread feeling that deaths among the latter group are no longer the responsibility of the government or the vaccinated majority. We sent you a lifeboat, you refused to climb into it, so if you drown, it’s on you.

  16. Ernestine’s ironic post is very funny. Everything is Queensland’s fault. How dare we not catch COVID-19 at the decreed rate? How dare we want to protect ourselves even a little bit? After all, it is our patriotic duty to get sick and risk sequelae or death. Clearly, the way to protect people from a disease is to infect everybody with it. I can’t wait until we apply this to preventative medicine in general. I look forward to being infected by malaria, TB and cholera. Can’t wait until we get SARS1. MERS and Ebola here. Man, it’s going to be a hoot.

  17. Anonymous, I don’t know how the pandemic will end in scientific and medical terms, though I have some guesses. We have been given a big hint by the Qld. CHO of how it will end in administrative terms. It will be ended by making the disease “endemic” by spreading it everywhere. Then, you don’t have a “pandemic”. This ends the pandemic only by definition but it does not end its activities in reality. This is the neoliberal managerialist approach to public health and disease control.

    In scientific and medical terms, nobody can know how the pandemic/epidemic outbreaks will end or even if it will end in our lifetimes or ever in human history. Is flu ending? What we do know is that the virus still appears to have an open-ended capacity for mutation in the short to medium term at least. There is no guarantee, for example, that the next variant will have low lethality. A combination of high contagiousness, high lethality but slow progress to the lethal stage is quite possible.

    Equally, the scenario you paint is possible also: high infectiousness and low lethality becoming the dominant mode of the virus over time. But the progress to that point is not as benign as you imply and living with it in that way is not as benign as you imply either. Omicron is still far from being as benign as a common cold. Proportions of children, the un-vaccinated and the immuno-compromised could still suffer a lot from morbidity and deaths. Also, you still assume herd immunity. Herd immunity is not occurring with omicron. Re-infections of the previously infected and the vaccinated are common with Omicron.

    There will be no fully effective herd immunity. That’s what “endemic” implies: no effective herd immunity and no effective public preventative medicine control. COVID-19 will essentially be permitted to circulate and mutate forever on the current plan. My prediction is that it will lead to a grim world with problems going on for many years, if not decades.

    Endemic diseases manage to circulate in several ways:

    (1) Immunity doesn’t last;
    (2) Benign strains operating as in 1 can mutate to create new dangerous new epidemic strains, as with periodic dangerous flu outbreaks.
    (3) Ineradicable pockets of disease will remain in poor and disadvantaged enclaves and nations which will function as pools for producing dangerous new mutations.

    COVID-19 will do all of the above. We’ve very possibly created a new plague for the ages by failing to eradicate it. My prediction at this stage is indefinite grief from this virus for years if not decades to come. Very likely if will become a perennial danger with dangerous outbreaks of new mutations being far more common than flu epidemics, precisely because SARS_CoV_2 mutates more rapidly than the flu virus.

  18. Eugene ;

    The average traffic speed here in Melbourne is decreasing . I remember one test pitting different forms of transport against one another over a 40 odd km commute ,much of it on so called freeway ,into the city center in peak hour .A fit young guy on a good racing bike won easily .Even a Penny Farthing beat the car, it was a modern built one with a good rider . Bikes used in conjunction with trains are a good option for longer commutes. BTW ,Mules are considered superior to horses and donkeys in almost every way.

    In cities like Jakarta bicycles have mostly been replaced by motorbikes and a few cars with a lucky few driving big SUV’s .Most of the roads in central Jakarta are only just wide enough for two cars to pass. Bicycles and motorbikes flow fairly well but when an SUV comes through everyone has to stop and get out of the way so they can pass – its madness.

    The Murdoch press has long been waging a war on bicycles .I have just bought an electric bike ,its great .I thought it might make me lazier but I find I am riding more and longer distances .I am not young and it is pedal assist so I still pedal enough .I feel sad when I see my trusty old bikes which have been so good to me and are superseded now but I have gotten over my initial consumption guilt .I think it does 80 to 90 km on about a 20 cent charge and the battery is good for 40,000 + km so I probably wont need to buy another. With battery power, one bike is all you need as a cargo bike can also be good for long distance riding .

    11201 cases in NSW today .3700 in Vic .The Xmas New Year surge hasnt even started yet .

  19. Published within the last hour at, re NSW COVID cases:

    NSW’s daily COVID-19 case tally has almost doubled in a day, with 11,201 new infections and three deaths recorded.

    Hospitalisations have risen to 625, up from 557 in the previous reporting period.

    There are also now 61 patients in intensive care.

    The latest figures were taken from more than 157,758 tests.

    It is the highest number of daily COVID-19 cases recorded in any Australian jurisdiction.

    Yesterday, the state recorded 6,062 new cases from 93,581 swabs.

    On Dec 24, I stated:

    So, if the doubling rate is 4.4 days, then that’s potentially 10,000+ cases per day by next Wednesday (Dec 29) and 20,000+ cases per day by Sunday (Jan 2).

    There’s some discussion that the already stressed/overwhelmed testing system is not adequately reporting in a timely manner the true infection rate.

    We’ll see soon whether the doubling rate persists, or is curtailed. It seems that Christmas 2021 has been a ‘super-spreader event’.

  20. Lesson 1. Lesson 2.

    Now we need Lesson 1&2+:
    L1&2 as mediated by new technology.

    Lesson 3. How markets are beholden to the ‘curated consideration set’ choke points of FAANGS profitability & power.

    “Technology-Augmented Choice: How Digital Innovations Are Transforming Consumer Decision Processes

    …” For instance, today’s new technologies often help curate consideration sets, shape how options are evaluated, and even guide choices themselves. As a result, market choices must now be viewed as a joint function of both consumer preferences and the characteristics of the technological environment in which those preferences are expressed.”…


    Lesson 4 will be;
    Lesson 4. How AI owners made every policy advantageous to the ‘curated consideration set’ choke points of FAANGS profitability & power putting techno totalitarianism within reach.

    I suppose i am to say something smart like epustemic status or wonkess. As I read what I wrote my brain sees above Lessins as an inevitability.

    Who owns the nodes and dynamics of decisions, rules.

    Do others see AI “curating consideration sets” CCS as inevitable? As in Amazon has an overrun of stock item x in California as it is borderline carbon risk, so Amazon tweaks CCSets algorithm slightly to clear stick item where carbon not priced or where population ignorant.

    How does this effect hypothecation? And long run super / sovereign wealth funds?

  21. “Piketty jumps the shark with new book, attempts to set out a manifesto for modern Left

    “Picketty’s book will make you believe anything is possible — even ‘participatory socialism’. The impracticality detracts from his economical analysis.

    “If the first work was largely an economic treatise, the second (so far only available in French) is essentially a political one. It tracks how different political ideologies have justified and promoted inequality since the Middle Ages. To Piketty, the years between 1950 and 1980 were the most successful for “egalitarian coalitions,” by which he means parties of the left, but these have since faltered. To address that failure, he attempts to set out a manifesto for the modern left.”

    “Shout it out: Inequality is a political choice

    “All that and more is in the World Inequality Report 2022, which was released earlier this week from Thomas Piketty’s pioneering World Inequality Lab at the Paris School of Economics. 

    “As the Nobel Prize winners Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo put it in their foreword to the report, “It is the product of a relentless data amassment which makes it possible to provide better answers to almost every question we want to ask about what is happening to inequality world-wide.” 

    “Bottom line? “The answer is not pretty.”

    “Is there a way out from this ever-deepening hole? Banerjee and Duflo exhort us to remember that “Policy kept inequality in check, and policy changes let it run amok. This report once again makes it clear that profound policy changes are needed for things to fall back in place. The policy solutions often exist, and when they don’t, we often know how to find them.”

  22. Omicron surging in Queensland as PCR tests to be dumped for interstate travelers.

    “Queensland records 1,589 new COVID-19 cases, dumps controversial PCR test rule for interstate travelers from January 1” – ABC News.

    Queensland is about to be swamped with COVID-19 (Omicron). Hundreds of thousands of tourists and returning Qld-ers. swarmed into Qld for Xmas / New Year and have seeded COVID-19 all over the state. This is what the “open up and let it rip” crowd wanted. They wanted to infect Qld and the whole country. They especially wanted to infect hold-out states. They wanted to make control impossible.They are cock-a-hoop about it.

    Control has been made more or less impossible, especially by further decisions like the Qld. Premier’s decisions to give up on proper tests, give up on proper quarantine and give up on advising the public about infection contact points.

    My wife has noted that our suburb’s Facebook page is now crowd-sourcing COVID-19 casual contact data which the Qld. government has given up on providing its citizens. A whole host of other sites are noted. She found four Aged Care Homes noted with contacts without even trying. Some of these are scarcely casual as the contacts come out of the kitchens and/or other staff. She found that you can go to Coles and Woolies websites to found stores which have COVID-19 contact status. This story just goes on and on. Basically, you have to assume every place outside your front door is a contact zone.

    Also, vaccinations and boosters will not protect you against getting infected. They will provide some protection against the chances of severe illness and death unless they are waning badly (after about 3 months). The entire medical system will be shortly overwhelmed. Many businesses will close for lack of helahty staff if nothing else. I suspect a lot of people who wished for and lobbied for this are not going to like the outcomes. The long term repercussions will go on for many years. People better hope the “variant from hell” doesn’t evolve now, somehwere in the world, and get in. The Pandora’s box had been opened and there is no hope in it, just more mutated variants ad nauseam.

  23. Four fatalities occurred as part of the pink batts scheme used to pump money into the Australian economy during the Great Financial Crisis (GFC 2008–2009), in large part due to the unregulated private operators using inexperienced young people; this resulted in the scheme being halted, and a Royal Commission being established in its wake, during the same Labor government’s term. Nobody deserves to be put in harm’s way just doing their job. A Royal Commission because of four fatalities.

    Right now, several governments in particular have set Australia up to have a hell of a lot more unnecessary deaths, and there won’t be any investigation, will there. They certainly won’t be setting up a Royal Commission into their own failings, will they. Not on your life.

    Only blind luck will get us off the hook, this time^1. Between feeling even more unmoored from reality, and a simmering anger that it has been deliberately engineered to go like this, it’s hard to focus. What a shambles.

    fn^1: Since the ongoing public health policy malign neglect won’t cut it, there is nothing left but blind luck.

  24. From a post at Verisk Maplecroft by Will Nichols and Rory Clisby on Dec 16, headlined 40% of oil and gas reserves threatened by climate change, it begins with:

    More than 600 billion barrels equivalent of the world’s commercially recoverable oil and gas reserves are facing high or extreme risks from more frequent storms and floods, rising sea levels, and temperature extremes. According to our Climate Change Exposure Indices, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Nigeria are among the oil and gas producing countries where the risk of climate related events disrupting the flow of oil to global markets is highest. Between them, these three countries account for nearly 19% of commercially recoverable oil and gas.

    Climate-related supply threats to the oil and gas industry have already begun to manifest. This year a freeze in Texas knocked US oil and gas output to a three-year low, while Hurricane Ida caused a record 55 spills in the Gulf of Mexico and created historic disruptions to the supply of both crude oil and refined products. Record heat in Russia accelerated the melting of permafrost, a trend that has damaged 40% of buildings and infrastructure in northern regions heavily reliant on oil and gas production.


  25. When I was growing up there was an expression, “Don’t be a tourist.” I guess the expression is still around. The word “tourist” itself was a pejorative. We need to revive these meanings. It’s the height of absurdity that people are being tourists during a dangerous, infectious pandemic. People need to stop being tourists, literally. Stay at home. Don’t spread the bloody virus.

    By “at home” I mean in your suburb or locality. Now is not the time for tourism. DON’T BE A TOURIST.

    How hard is it to stay at home? Why do people find this so difficult? People find this difficult because they are unable to still their minds and have to go searching for sensations. In this context, rhythmic exercise is your friend. Choose your favorite one out of walking, running, cycling or swimming. Use it to calm your mind, tone your body and help you sleep at night. Aside from necessary work activities use good books and movies for mental escape. But that won’t work without a leavening of exercise. Your body needs it. Evolutionarily speaking you are adapted to daily walking and evening fireside tales folklore. Try it. It works. But go easy on TV and Streaming. That doesn’t exercise the mind enough. Try Shakespeare, Wordsworth or an evening of scrabble. Words are walks for your mind.

    But whatever you bloody do at this time, DON’T BE A TOURIST. Don’t carry COVID-19 to another locality.

  26. Looking at Europe, it seems to me it is almost over indeed as far as the time frame is concerned. For some definition of over at least. And frankly, at the moment i´m trying to focus on that perspective for myself. The catch is just, it will be very short because so many people will get it in a short period. When you start with a death rate of say 1,5% in a relativly old population with delta and no one vaccinated, we are still heading towards something like the death rate of 2-3 very bad flu years in the semi functional countries and a multitude of non lethal bad cases compared to a bad flu season. The prognosis for Germany are heading towards 50% getting it between non vaccinated, people with “just” two shots which seems to barely protect against getting infected (better against bad cases) and 3 shot breaktrhoughs. Some eastern Europeans are simply aproaching do nothing death rates. Not sure how the math works out in say Portugal.

  27. How strange it now seems to have capitulated at a mere 2 or 3 hundred cases per day ! .How odd the confident eagerness to let the virus spread unchecked ! .That feels like a long time ago now, but it wasn’t. The warning of 25000 NSW cases per day by end of January might be reached shortly after new year. If more virus means more mutations then omicron should mutate much faster than delta .Morrison cant make up his mind .One minute crowing about low unemployment , the next saying we have to ignore the virus because of the threat to jobs that protective measures would entail .One more highlight from the Herald Sun – when reports arrived about omicrons relatively less severe effects on the average individual their headline was a triumphal ” MILD RIDE ” .

  28. NSW Health stats (up to 8pm 29 Dec 2021):
    * Active cases: _ _ _ 70,928
    * Hospital cases: _ _ _ _746
    * ICU cases: _ _ _ _ _ _ _63
    * Ventilation cases: _ _ _ 24

    * Cases within 24 h: 12,226
    * Cases this week: _52,775
    * Cases last week: _22,605
    * Total cases: _ _ _166,184

    Vaccine doses to NSW population:
    * 1st dose (aged 16+ years): _ _95%
    * 1st dose (aged 12-15 years): _81.5%
    * 2nd dose (aged 16+ years): _ 93.5%
    * 2nd dose (aged 12-15 years): 78.2%

    Vaccine doses by NSW Health – cumulative total:
    * 1st dose: _ 2,206,444
    * 2nd dose: _1,935,292
    * 3rd dose: _ _ 214,185

    Professor Brendan Crabb tweeted yesterday (retweeted by JQ and others):

    Denmark is a few weeks ahead of Oz in the omicron outbreak. Deaths are on the rise; equivalent to ~100/day in Australia. Their vaccination rates are better than Oz’s; 3rd dose is 42% vs 8%. Creating the impression that it is ok for omicron to spread is a public health threat.

    With minimal 3rd dose protection, rising case rates, and looming NYE super-spreader events, it seems to me case rates are likely to explode in NSW next week. It looks like NSW needs to learn the hard way.

  29. Prof Adrian Esterman tweeted earlier today:

    Another 1226 cases for NSW and 1 death. The 7-day moving average is 7728, and Reff is stable at 1.62, a 6-day doubling time. There are 746 cases in hospital, compared to 625 yesterday, that is a 19% increase. There are 63 patients in the ICU. NSW Health must be very concerned.

    Prof Esterman then tweeted his New Year resolution is “fewer typos”. 😉

    And yet business groups are calling on state governments to continue dismantling COVID restrictions even as case numbers soar amid staff shortages caused by the highly contagious Omicron variant.

    Are these business groups really that stupid, or is it deliberate sabotage?

  30. Businesses want certainty, or at least the kind of uncertainty they can treat as stable background noise, in terms of strategies for dealing with it. If stable involves several hundred to several thousand deaths per year from a widely circulating endemic mutating virus, then bring it on, they think—but don’t say out loud. While I am sure there are a lot of business owners who do not wish this on us, some of the big businesses have the clout and the hardness that buckets of cash seems to instill in some people, so they are quite pleased with themselves, if they can avoid non-trading days from pesky lock downs and such. If you don’t believe me, think of the tobacco industry, or the fossil fuel industry, and the way they managed the public health damage their products inflict upon society. They are hardly unique in this mindset and bloody-minded calculus of winners and losers.

    Very difficult not to be cynical, now that we’ve seen the recently engineered scenario of letting the virus out, infecting previously uninfected states with the omicron variant, and then going “Oh my God! We can’t do *that* much testing, let’s cut it right back,” conveniently losing the one tool that gave us insight into the true infection rate in the community. No doubt we’ll soon read (in certain news media) that the daily infection rate has peaked and all is good with the world, ignoring the matter of far less testing being done. What were all the previous lockdowns for, if this was always going to be the end game?

  31. Anonymous above is me – new computer still relearning the logins.

    Iko: do you have evidence that Omicron can infect twice? It certainly can reinfect over an earlier variant, but to rule out herd immunity, it has to evade the immune response to itself, which is a priori unlikely.

    The experts are clearly divided over the mildness issue. There is also a difference in mindset from pandemic history. In Europe, Omicron is just another wave. In Australasia and much of SE Asia, that have been using an eradication strategy with some success, Omicron makes this just about impossible (Xian is the draconian exception that proves the rule). Disciplined Vietnam and South Korea are seeing big Omicron infection spikes too, and the claimed low numbers in China and Myanmar are not trusted. I feel the eradicators are going to have to switch to containment and herd immunity like the rest of us. This does not mean the earlier strategy was wrong. It saved a lot of lives, since Omicron is less lethal and we now have reasonably effective vaccines against it..

  32. James,

    The same variant can re-infect a person again. Immunity wanes for COVID-19. New variants clearly re-infect. The variant after Omicron likely will be able to infect a person who had Omicron. Our experience to date has shown some new variants re-infect strongly and major new dangerous variants arise on at least an annual basis. Omicron is so infectious it is getting hard to believe that an even more infectious variant could arise. Yet, this virus has surprised us time and time again. New variants with unpredictable new ways to harm us still seem likely. Evolution to the enteric infection route, possibly in Africa, is a terrifying possibility, for example.

    “The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) told iHealth it was “definitely possible” to get Omicron more than once, in the same way that it is possible to get any Covid variant twice, but that UK studies have yet to look into how likely this is.” – iHealth online.

    I still favor eradication although it is getting seemingly more unrealistic as time goes by because of the extreme airborne contagion route.. We have long favored eradication (where possible) for serious diseases. It was pursued for smallpox and polio. We don’t permit malaria, TB, cholera or the plague to become broadly endemic in developed countries. We also do not expect that spreading them endemically will make them mild. Such a hypothesis simply is not considered seriously. So why the strange theories about evolution to mildness of COVID-19 (in an historically and biologically short time-span) and the push to capitulate to COVID-19 and even assist its spread? Pushing tourism is pushing the spread of COVID-19. Refusal to mask or mandate masks is pushing the spread of COVID-19. Many policies have been adopted which actually assist COVID-19 to spread and “conquer” or “infiltrate” our entire societies, as it were.

    In terms of political economy advocacy and social psychology, it is interesting to consider why this strange capitulation and even assistance to a dangerous pathogen has occurred. I have a few theories probably best left for a Sandpit. In summary here, I consider that eradication is still possible and most likely necessary if we are ever to create a healthy, equitable and sustainable society. The reason we can’t do this or rather won’t contemplate it, is that it would end consumer capitalism as we know it. It would not necessarily end capitalism as such but consumer capitalism would have to end or be changed markedly. Self-indulgent (and often anti-social) personal consumption would have to be reduced and the production of public goods (especially for health, welfare and education) would have to be increased.

  33. James Wimberley: – “…do you have evidence that Omicron can infect twice?

    Per a Reuters article by Clara-Laeila Laudette published Dec 18, headlined Omicron more likely to reinfect than Delta, no milder -study, the summary includes:

    * Omicron five times likelier to cause reinfections
    * No sign milder than Delta, but some say too early to know
    * Two-dose vaccines offer little or no Omicron protection

    Latest UK evidence (via Christina Pagel, see below) suggests Omicron is milder but much higher case rates leading to proportionate increasing hospital admissions, but so far less ICU cases.

    JW: – “I feel the eradicators are going to have to switch to containment and herd immunity like the rest of us.

    There is NO EVIDENCE herd immunity is applicable/relevant for the Omicron variant. Until there is, IMO it would be prudent from a risk management perspective to assume there’s no lasting immunity for Omicron.
    There’s evidence vaccination effectiveness wanes within 3-4 months for Omicron. Booster shots need to be administered frequently – see the ATAGI statement dated Dec 24.
    IMO, James, you are wallowing in ‘hopium’.

    JW: – “This does not mean the earlier strategy was wrong. It saved a lot of lives, since Omicron is less lethal and we now have reasonably effective vaccines against it..

    Prof Christina Pagel tweeted a few hours ago:

    Every infection prevented is still an infection prevented..and preventing infections that would have followed from that one. It is still worth doing.

    Today we are at 160k cases in England, 2.3k admissions. That + tech report unfort supports my thread.

    Less lethality doesn’t mean less suffering. I think you are ignoring all the potential 100,000s of long-COVID sufferers.

    Australia’s slow initial vaccine rollout meant that more than half of all second doses were administered in the final four months of 2021. Reducing the time interval between 2nd dose and booster eligibility from after 6 months, to 5 months, then (per the ATAGI statement on Dec 24) after 4 months, and 3 months “when practical”, now requires a rapid vaccination ramp-up for most Australians.

  34. Herd immunity is pretty much a myth when it comes to COVID-19. Herd resistance is possible but not herd immunity. Effective herd immunity to any disease is relative to a number of factors. These are whether immunity persists or wanes (and how fast it wanes) and how fast the pathogen mutates. COVID-19 continues to demonstrate very strong immune escape, vaccine escape and mutation rates. In the case of COVID-19, herd immunity is practically impossible. That leaves suppression to eradication as the only permanent solution to the problem.

    We cannot live with COVID-19 without a permanent deterioration in our quality of life. Life expectancy will decline. Quality life years will decline. Living with COVID-19 amounts to an acceptance of the cessation and reversal of progress in public health. It would actually amount to the end of social progress and public health progress. If we accept this we can mark it as the clear point, with clear metrics, where our civilization went into decline. It is the end of progress, or at least the end of progress for the majority of ordinary people, for the lower and middle classes. It is that serious.

  35. I also like the Arctic Font, mapped to sea ice data and projecrions. It is very bold and heavy in 1979 slowly deteriorating and almost disappeared by 2050.


    …” Other acquisitions also address the 2020 election, including Ben Doessel and James Lee’s “Ugly Gerry” font. The typeface’s letterforms are assembled from the jagged and lopsided shapes of many congressional districts, plainly illustrating their irregularity and the problematic nature of gerrymandering.”

    “Ai Weiwei created a mask that is silk-screened with a graphic of a middle finger, one of several designs sold to raise money for charities like Human Rights Watch and Doctors Without Borders. The imagery speaks to his commitment to human rights and free speech and points to the way that masks, in their prominent place on a wearer’s face, can powerfully express political beliefs. Monique Péan’s “Unity” face mask, sold by President Joe Biden’s campaign, uses language and neutral colors to urge Americans to come together during a period of political divisiveness heightened during the months leading up to the November 2020 election.”

  36. Iko: As I thought, you don’t have any evidence on double infection by Omicron. The Imperial study uses “reinfection” in the sense of “a second infection by any variant”. This means hat you have no evidence either for the impossibility of herd immunity.

  37. James,

    All those talking of endemicity as the goal have ipso facto abandoned herd immunity as the goal. This below sums up these issues best.

    “Despite the unprecedented speed and scale of data accumulating on breakthrough infections and related topics, several important questions remain open. For example, although there is evidence that the vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 reduce transmission in households and communities, it has been argued that sustained high levels of herd immunity against SARS-CoV-2 infection may be an impossible goal for vaccination given that it is a mucosal infection without an obligate stage of dissemination through lymph or blood. In this scenario, even with high vaccine coverage, some combination of waning immunity and antigenic variation will produce enough susceptibility in the population to maintain endemic transmission of SARS-CoV-2 for the foreseeable future, likely similar to what is seen for the four other coronaviruses circulating in the human population. Nevertheless, this situation seems unlikely to produce the same level of disruption that has been seen in the first 1.5 years of the COVID-19 pandemic. Pandemics are rare events in which all or nearly all humans lack exposure to a novel pathogen and are thus at risk for severe disease and transmission, particularly, in this case, those who are older and have certain comorbidities. As with influenza virus or even more so as with human coronaviruses, this pandemic pattern may gradually fade into a pattern of milder disease, because virtually everyone will experience multiple exposures through one or more vaccine doses and/or one or more exposures to viral (possibly breakthrough) infection123. On this view, the role of vaccines is not to provide durable herd immunity as with measles or smallpox, but to prevent severe outcomes during the transition to endemicity.” – SARS-CoV-2 breakthrough infections in vaccinated individuals: measurement, causes and impact – Marc Lipsitch, Florian Krammer, Gili Regev-Yochay, Yaniv Lustig & Ran D. Balicer – Nature Reviews Immunology.

    It is clear from the above that the idea of herd immunity has generally been abandoned in the relevant scientific community. The idea now (of many) is “to prevent severe outcomes during the transition to endemicity.” In the state of endemicity, the “pandemic pattern may gradually fade into a pattern of milder disease”. Note the word “may”. They day “may’. They do not know.

    To summarize:

    1. Herd immunity is probably impossible as laid out above (with current vaccines).
    2. Endemicity is a “Hail Mary” strategy which “may” work.
    3. Eradication was abandoned early on when it was the best strategy. It seems too late for eradication now unless we get a new generation of vaccines.

    We are stuck with the endemicity “Hail Mary” for now. I predict it will fail with current vaccines. The fade to milder disease could take decades. It might never occur. New state of the art vaccines or medicines which mess up the virus’s replication system might make point 1 work again and then even point 3 work: a total game changer. We better hope for that.

  38. Iko: – “We cannot live with COVID-19 without a permanent deterioration in our quality of life. Life expectancy will decline. Quality life years will decline.

    This tweet caught my eye from John Kriby (that’s similar to what I think Ikonoclast is saying):

    Sorry to hear that! It underscores a factor many overlook, which is that endemic Covid could prove to progressively erode human lifespan by way of cumulative damage done per re-infection.

    If it doesn’t kill you the first time, it may inflict damage it will exploit the next time.

    The Independent Sage published an Emergency Statement on Omicron on 15 Dec 2021, recommending:

    * A return to Step 2 of the UK Government’s Spring roadmap where outdoor mixing, retail and outdoor hospitality remain open but indoor hospitality and entertainment are shut.
    * No indoor gatherings between households of any size (excepting bubbled individuals and other roadmap exceptions).
    * All close contacts of new cases must isolate for 10 days, with financial and practical support to do so.
    * Adequate financial support for affected businesses
    * Neither schools that choose to end term early nor parents who take their children out of school for the last few days of term should be penalised.
    * Continuation of the concerted effort to get as many people vaccinated (particularly younger age groups for whom uptake is low) and boosted as possible.

    Meanwhile, UK NHS palliative care doctor Rachel Clarke tweeted less than 11 hours ago:

    We’ve just reached the stage of even *emergency* care having to be rationed.

    One A&E is now only seeing people with life-threatening illnesses or major injuries.

    Nobody *wants* unnecessary Covid restrictions, but are we really OK with this?


    It seems NSW is likely to be in a similar position (maybe worse because of much lower booster vaccination rates) in a fortnight.

    This is what “living with COVID” really means, coming soon for Australians (except perhaps WA).

  39. Thanks in total, for the federal boys chucking us all under the bus. Omicron could be milder than Delta, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t kill people. Words like “milder” are referring to “on average,” i.e. do not take into account the upper tail of the distribution of severity of the infection, which is the part that causes the hospitalisations and fatalities. The average for the flue is that it is rather mild, but boy oh boy, a bad flu season sees off a lot of people, thanks to the long tail of the distribution of severity of infection. Same thing here, only with a much more infectious/contagious variant of concern. The let ‘er rip philosophy is nihilistic in the extreme, is utterly irresponsible, and a dereliction of duty. We know enough to know that if ever the precautionary principle were to apply to a situation, this is one of those times. Instead, Australia has just become a Petri dish for other Nations’ scientists to pore over, gather data, and the rest of it.

    Thanks to the virtually irreversible course that Dom Exocet and PM Aukus have set us on, our fate is now in the lap of the gods. Breathtakingly reckless doesn’t even come close to covering it.

    As a minor prediction—I know, dangerous to do, in these Covid times—I reckon that once the daily raw positive test case numbers trend down for a bit, the climbing hospitalisation numbers that were meant to be the numbers the Premier was concerned about will be dropped like a hot potato, and the declining positive test case numbers will be crowed about, as if the decline wasn’t to do with all removal of all the rules that required people to get tested in the first place. Look, problem is going away, like a miracle! Yeah, right.

  40. News item:
    “The Government of ]X] has announced ambitious targets and a comprehensive set of incentives aimed at overcoming the barriers associated with transitioning to electric vehicles in ]X]. These targets include a transition of 20% of the minibus/bus fleet to electric vehicles by 2030. Challenges that deter operators from adopting electric buses include the initial purchase cost, availability, and accessibility of adequate charging infrastructure, and lack of awareness about the operation of electric vehicles.

    Among the incentives most relevant for bus operators, the Government of ]X] has reduced the electric tariff for charging stations to the industrial tariff level. Electric vehicle parts, batteries, and charging equipment are also exempted from import and excise duties. Under non-fiscal incentives, bus operators and electric vehicle companies have also been allowed the use of rent-free, government-owned land for setting up charging stations. Companies manufacturing and assembling electric vehicles (battery electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and hybrid electric vehicles) in ]X] are also given other incentives in the investment code, such as 15% Corporate Income Tax (CIT) and tax holiday (irrespective of the investment value).”

    Unexciting perhaps – except that country ]X] is Rwanda, with GDP per head of $850. Australia’s is $56,000 (x 66), with twice the population.

    Source: The author, Ms. Yizere Ange, is a young recent Rwandan graduate. Her current job is described as “intern”, so she could be available to replace less qualified and energetic members of the Australian Federal or Queensland governments.

  41. More specious nonsense from our Prime Minister. After refusing to do anything about the bush-fires and climate change, he then refused to do anything about the COVID-19 pandemic until pushed into belated policies like the late vaccine push. Then, with Perrottet, he led the charge into making the pandemic, endemic. Apparently, the way to deal with a dangerous new disease is to spread it to every person in the country, cross your fingers and hope it mutates to mildness. That has never worked with any other known disease in a short time-span, to my knowledge. It happened sometimes over thousands of years before modern times. Thousands of years of co-evolution, at least, might be why the “colds” are mild to humans. Yet thousands of years of co-evolution have not made other diseases mild. Malaria comes to mind. Bubonic and pneumonic plague come to mind.

    Now, Morrison refuses to fund universal access to the rapid antigen tests (RATs) that his “infect everyone” policies have made necessary for any measurement and control at all. Another lame neoliberal excuse has come out of the playbook. Scott Morrison said businesses needed confidence they would not be “undercut” by free testing regimes. This is specious nonsense of the worst kind. Chemist businesses, small and large, have multiple lines of profitable revenue makers including prescribed medicines but also vitamins, curatives, dietary supplements and many other products of dubious real health value. Few if any well-nourished and basically healthy people need vitamin supplements for example. Chemists also sell cosmetics, sweets, “health foods” and lots of other (frankly) consumerist garbage. I am sure they are not so short of a buck that they would go broke without making profits on RAT tests. In fact. I am sure most chemists owning one or more shops are rich by ordinary worker or pensioner standards.

    In any case, the government could subsidize the RATs. Now they are crying poor. I don’t see subsidies being cut to the fossil fuel and tourist industries for example. I don’t see a projected shortage of $50 billion up to $150 billion, or more, eventually, to buy nuclear subs. They can find big money to help business profits and they can find money for war machhines. They can’t find pin money to help people fight a pandemic they have rendered endemic. Endemicity of a serious disease means being plagued by it forever at least compared to a single human lifespan.

    The pandemic peddlers want us to have pandemics forever. That’s what endemicity of a serious pandemic disease means. Why do they want this? What does it mean? They are either stupendously stupid, stupendously greedy or stupendously malicious and it can be more than one at the same time. Wise and moral they certainly are not.

  42. Joe Blow (re your comments at the thread Grim Covid prediction for January in NSW: ‘LUNACY’, Jan 3): – Come on Geoff. You only had to look at the Oil Drums last post to see that they ‘sort of’ realised that they got it wrong.

    Come on Joe. Then you should have no difficulty providing a link to “the Oil Drums last post”. Please stop spewing a big pile of 🐘💩.

    JB: – “ Fracking has completely changed the economics of oil.

    Yep; it has been a ‘wealth hazard’ for many US tight oil & shale gas investors. 😉 Per Deloitte:

    The year 2020 marks the 15-year anniversary of the US shale boom, which heralded an era of US energy independence and more than doubled tight shale oil production over the past five to six years. But beneath this phenomenal growth, the reality is that the shale boom peaked without making money for the industry in aggregate. In fact, the US shale industry registered net negative free cash flows of $300 billion, impaired more than $450 billion of invested capital, and saw more than 190 bankruptcies since 2010.

    Deloitte mischaracterizes the so-called “era of US energy independence”. US petroleum geologist Art Berman said in his blog post on 18 Jun 2020:

    The idea of U.S. energy independence is ignorant at best and fraudulent at worst. The U.S. imported nearly 7 mmb/d of crude oil and condensate in 2019 and more than 9 mmb/d of crude oil and refined products. That’s almost as much as China—the world’s second largest economy—consumes.

    JB: – “PLENTY of fracking is economic at ~$60 per barrel.

    Art Berman suggests if ALL production costs are included then fracking is NOT economic at ~$60 per barrel. In the YouTube video titled Here´s a Reality check on Fossil Fuels and the Energy Markets with Art Berman I Part 1, from time interval 0:16:04, Art Berman says (bold text my emphasis):

    So first of all, um, oil prices at, let’s just say the mid-sixty-dollar level, um, should be sufficient ah, for most companies to make a profit, ah, in all different forms of… different basins, different geographies, ah… some will be, you know, a little bit more challenged. But, but the, the shale, um, companies, the tight oil companies here in North America, ah, they tell, ah, you know, the US Federal Reserve Bank that basically they can, you know, they’re making money at fifty-five dollars per barrel. So, you know, that should be a comfortable margin. Now, having said that, um, um, they seem to lie a lot, about their ah… you know, well… they’ve said they are profitable, hugely profitable for the last decade or so and yet their, you know, their financial statements, ah, do not reflect that or have not reflected that. So, again, you know, as we discussed before we started the recording, whenever somebody makes a statement of any sort, my first question is tell me what’s included and excluded.

    JB: – “Any sustained price over $100 or so will only speed the transition away from oil

    I’d suggest, until the energy transition has progressed with a substantial reduction in petroleum dependency, sustained high oil prices (i.e. over $100 per barrel) in the interim will likely retard/stall any energy transition in progress.

    JB: – “So yes – there will be peak oil…

    So your earlier statement: “Peak oil also proved to be a myth.”; is entirely false, apparently like some other statements by you. 🙄

  43. Geoff, you really should carefully check your sources before using them to defend your position. The artberman link claims in THE VERY FIRST SENTENCE that output would drop ~50% in 2021 and that ’nothing could be done about it’ yet US production in 2021 was HIGHER than 2020. Not a very accurate prediction.

    Even the Deloitte publication doesn’t support your position, being mainly about the disruptions to the industry due to Covid. The oil industry in the US has always been pretty speculative, so who cares – other than shareholders – if they haven’t made any money. Even 190 bankruptcies is small fry in an industry with over 9,000 players in the US ( average 12 employees each ).

    “But in 2020, the double impact of COVID-19 and the oil price supply war seems to have led many investors to shun shale stocks”

    “But the COVID-19 pandemic has abruptly fast-forwarded the specter of peak demand to the present.”

    Even your little dig that I did admit that there would be peak oil is also entirely missing the point. There will be a peak BECAUSE OF DEMAND, whereas you are claiming there is a real supply issue. The whole ‘Peak Oil’ hysteria was ALWAYS about lack of supply. I mean who would get hysterical about declining demand – I don’t get it.

    Oil Shale Economics – Wikipedia has many sources showing shale oil is profitable above $35 – $60.

  44. Q: Does anyone know of the fabled unicorn ” one solid study done to demonstrate the benefits of privatisation, of soaring consultancy costs.” please?

    Q2: I know a partener at MinterEllison, so I am open to suggestions as to what and how to say ‘it’ – the elephant in the room.

    “In thirty years of privatisation, there has never been one solid study done to demonstrate the benefits of privatisation, of soaring consultancy costs. They have not bothered to justify their fetish, not even to take stock of it in a Treasury report or half-decent inquiry.

    “And now, the cherry on top of this mountainous cake of deceit, is the narrative that everything is everybody else’s fault. Nothing is the fault of the political classes. It’s “personal responsibility” for people, not politicians.”

    “Whopper Returns: Tax Office fee bonanza the latest in the privatisation of government

    By Callum Foote|January 3, 2022

    [ note: these clips are from the 2nd half of this article.]

    “Chris Jordan, who became Tax Commissioner in 2013, was a partner of Big Four tax avoidance facilitator KPMG. Two commissioners on the ATO Executive Committee are ex-KPMG. Current and recently departed Deputy Commissioners also ex-KPMG and moving to Minter Ellison. 

    “For instance, this contract with MinterEllison for the provision of legal services has been running since 2016, and has now been extended to June 2022.

    “The original contract has been extended by $10 million to $52 million over the contract period.
    “MinterEllison receives the greatest amount out of the six on the panel. The graph above only considers available competitive tenders as seen on AusTender, and not the money paid through Standing Offer Contracts.

    “Outside of Standing Offers, each contract undergoes a rigorous assessment process by a panel and is awarded on merit and cost.

    “Under a Standing Order, this process is undertaken by an assessment on the part of the ATO legal services team headed up until recently by Jeremy Geal ex-KPMG and who now works for MinterEllison.

    “Since Jordan and Hirschhorn joined the ATO there has been a major push to outsource legal work, facilitated by Kirsten Fish and Jeremy Geal as head of law and disputes respectively. Jeremy Geal is ex-KMPG and now works for MinterEllison as of August 2021. 

    “Minters is the largest provider under this SON.  With recent recruits of Geal and former ATO Deputy Commissioner Mark Konza who have the inside knowledge on tax avoidance taskforce planning and case strategy (Konza) and litigation and disputes strategy under Part IVC (ITAA 1936) objection process weaknesses (Geal).

    ““Minters will be in the box seat to attract more big business transfer pricing disputes,” says an insider. 

    “For instance, this contract with MinterEllison for the provision of legal services has been running since 2016, and has now been extended to June 2022.

    “The original contract has been extended by $10 million to $52 million over the contract period.

    “Considered at its most elementary level, it is hard to see how a partner in a private firm charged out at $1,000 an hour could be more efficient, except in special instances, than a well trained public servant at a fraction of the cost.

    “And more broadly, the foxes are taking over the henhouse. Major law and consulting firms make large profits selling advice to multinational corporations on how to avoid tax while also making large profits telling governments how to conduct their affairs. Meanwhile they audit, supposedly independently, just across the other side of what can be rice-paper-thin Chinese Walls, the financial reports of these same companies.

    “It’s probably too much to hope for, after 30 years of privatisation, and the past 8 years of a rapidly escalating consultancy fee-fest, that somebody in government will demand a decent analysis of the costs and benefits of outsourcing and flogging publicly owned assets to private interests. “…

  45. Joe Blow: – “Geoff, you really should carefully check your sources before using them to defend your position. The artberman link claims in THE VERY FIRST SENTENCE that output would drop ~50% in 2021 and that ’nothing could be done about it’ yet US production in 2021 was HIGHER than 2020.

    Joe, it seems you don’t accurately comprehend what you see. The SECOND sentence states: “Output is probably going to drop by 50% over the next year and nothing can be done about it. PROBABLY, NOT “would”.

    Secondly, US crude oil production in 2021 is still significantly lower than during the first four months of 2020.

    JB: – “Even the Deloitte publication doesn’t support your position, being mainly about the disruptions to the industry due to Covid.

    I think you are living in a parallel universe. It seems to me you don’t understand the significance of Deloitte’s statement: “But beneath this phenomenal growth, the reality is that the shale boom peaked without making money for the industry in aggregate. In fact, the US shale industry registered net negative free cash flows of $300 billion, impaired more than $450 billion of invested capital, and saw more than 190 bankruptcies since 2010.” COVID woke up many investors to the realisation that the U.S. shale industry was composed of “capital destruction machines” and few wanted to continue to lose money.

    JB: – “There will be a peak BECAUSE OF DEMAND, whereas you are claiming there is a real supply issue.

    Goehring & Rozencwajg state: “…our models suggest that we could be entering a new period in the history of oil – a period without any excess global pumping capability.

    Global Head of Equity Strategy at Jefferies, Christopher Wood, said: “The oil price is gonna go higher in a fully reopened world because nobody’s investing in oil but the world still consumes fossil fuels.

    And Earth scientist David Hughes has examined the data behind the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA’s) latest projections for shale oil and gas output and finds its long-term outlook is so biased, it borders on fibbing.

    These are SOME of the indicators I see that suggest to me there’s an emerging global oil SUPPLY constraint that won’t go away.

  46. Deer zootonic mutation resevoirs? – dear dear. 

    If we are to be free of SARS-CoV-2 the ferals have to go. Or be quad vaxxed. Vulnerable, health workers, hoi poloi, kids, deer?!

    ^2. “SARS-CoV-2 virus was detected by rRT-PCR in more than one-third (129/360, 35.8%) of nasal swabs obtained from Odocoileus virginianus [white tailed deer] in northeast Ohio (USA)”^2

    “For example, in New South Wales, the six species of feral deer now inhabit 22 per cent of the State, where their distribution has spread by 35 per cent since 2016. 

    “Some farmland regions in NSW have 30 feral deer per km2. Such densities require expensive helicopter culls to get them under control.

    “The number of feral deer in Australia poorly understood, but there could be between one and two million feral deer.”

    “SARS-CoV-2 infection in free-ranging white-tailed deer
    “Humans have infected a wide range of animals with SARS-CoV-2 viruses1–5, but the establishment of a new natural animal reservoir has not been observed. Here, we document that free-ranging white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) are highly susceptible to infection with SARS-CoV-2 virus, are exposed to a range of viral diversity from humans, and are capable of sustaining transmission in nature. SARS-CoV-2 virus was detected by rRT-PCR in more than one-third (129/360, 35.8%) of nasal swabs obtained from Odocoileus virginianus in northeast Ohio (USA) during January-March 2021. Deer in 6 locations were infected with 3 SARS-CoV-2 lineages (B.1.2, B.1.582, B.1.596). The B.1.2 viruses, dominant in humans in Ohio at the time, infected deer in four locations. Probable deer-to-deer transmission of B.1.2, B.1.582, and B.1.596 viruses was observed, allowing the virus to acquire amino acid substitutions in the spike protein (including the receptor-binding domain) and ORF1 that are infrequently seen in humans. No spillback to humans was observed, but these findings demonstrate that SARS-CoV-2 viruses have the capacity to transmit in US wildlife, potentially opening new pathways for evolution. There is an urgent need to establish comprehensive “One Health” programs to monitor deer, the environment, and other wildlife hosts globally.”

  47. Yes, the above is one of several reasons why SARS_CoV_2, which causes COVID-19 disease, should have been eradicated. Allowing it to become pandemic and now endemic runs a huge set of risks for the future:

    Risk 1 : SARS_CoV_2 will keep mutating in humans and keep effecting immune escape and vaccine escape. In this process dangerous new variants will keep arising and impacting humans in new and dangerous ways, including more seriously impacting new segments of the human demographic, for example. children, babies and pregnant women. We have already seen several very dangerous variants arise including Omicron. Even if significantly mild (which is doubtful) Omicron’s infectiousness makes it hit and potentially re-hit many people. In addition, Omicron’s infectiousness now exists as a trait which can super-added (by mutation or viral recombination) to other dangerous traits which may arise. Likely risk: medium.

    Risk 2 : Cross-species infections and new animal reservoirs breeding new and dangerous strains which can possibly jump back into humans. There is already a paper (with some gene marker evidence) which suggests Omicron may have evolved in mice and then jumped back to humans. This is not peer reviewed or proven yet to my knowledge, but the principle remains eminently possible. Likely risk: medium.

    Risk 3 : Germ warfare. The proliferation of COVID-19 and the gene technologies needed to fight it open new possibilities for germ / virus warfare. Various super-powers cannot have failed to note that a disease in the “annoying zone” is perfect to unleash on enemies and allow it to attrit and degrade their people and economy over time. By the “annoying zone” I mean something not so mild as to be practically harmless and not so dangerous that it is blatantly obvious that it should be eradicated. The field is now open to create and unleash COVID-19 variants for which natural evolution would be a possible origin and thus grant plausible deniability of genetic engineering. Likely risk: low.

    The risk assessments are my own. The levels are plausible given what has happened to date.

  48. Guaranteed income trial report. The improvements in future planning alone plus, savings via better health, relationships and employment need to be highlighted.

    “What happened when people in this upstate New York town started getting monthly $500 checks

    “The pilot organizers of Hudson’s basic income pilot hope that gathering five years of results will show how much human potential extra money can unleash.

    …”conduct a guaranteed income pilot, the intent of which was to see “how basic income can create a safety net for those swings in the economy,” says Leah Hamilton, a senior fellow in guaranteed income at the Jain Family Institute, a social sciences think tank.

    “HudsonUP started in the fall of 2020 with 25 low-income recipients receiving $500 a month for 5 years. One year in, as the program inducts a new cohort of 50 more beneficiaries, organizers have released a report that illustrates how the supplemental cash assisted the first group. They found that employment more than doubled among surveyed recipients, who also reported better health, mended relationships, and the agency to spend their money as they see fit, including planning for the future, which traditional assistance programs rarely afford.

    “One of the most impressive findings, says Hamilton, who authored the report, was that employment among the participants went from 29% to 63%. Data aside, researchers also wanted to collect anecdotes about the concrete effects on people’s lives. One recipient said the assistance had allowed them to …”


    Click to access hudsonup_year_one_report_leah-hamilton-jfi.pdf

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