Would we be better off without corporations?

Following up my initial response to Lane Kenworthy, I decided to approach the question from a different direction and ask “Would we be better off without corporations?”. That is, I’d like to consider a society in which all large enterprises were publicly owned. There would still be room for owner-operated private businesses, worker-controlled co-operatives, partnerships and perhaps some other forms of business I haven’t thought about. I won’t get into disputes about whether this would constitute socialism, except to say that it would be radically different from any version of capitalism we’ve seen so far.

I’m also going to reverse the burden of proof implicit in Kenworthy’s approach. I start from the assumption that the expansion of corporate power under the neoliberal (or market liberal) policy package of privatisation, financialisation and deunionisation that has prevailed since the 1970s has been bad for most of us.

Given that neoliberalism is a term that’s often used loosely, I’ll try to be more specific about the adverse effects that can be tied specifically to the resurgence of corporate power.

The most obvious is the growth in inequality that has coincided with the rise of neoliberalism and corporate power. Virtually every aspect of neoliberal policy reform from increasing capital mobility to union-busting to flattening of tax scales has contributed to increased inequality. Moreover, they all reinforce each other.
?So, if we can do without for-profit corporations without incurring significant economic costs, we should.

I started looking at this on a sector-by-sector basis but then realised I would need to write a whole book in reply. So, over the fold, some disorganized thoughts

First, the privatisation of public utilities that was a central feature of late C20 neoliberalism should be reversed. Public utilities delivered a wide range of services successfully, and, in most cases, with steady improvements in productivity over time

By contrast, despite some extravagant initial claims, the outcomes of privatisation have been, at best, ambiguous, and at worst disastrous. Massive fortunes have been made by individual kleptocrats and by financial corporations, but the existence of these fortunes makes the rest of society worse off not better. Ignoring these windfalls, there is no clear evidence of net social benefits from any large-scale utility privatisation program of which I am aware. Even in rare cases where public utilities may have been so badly run that privatisation represented an improvement, the correct response would have been to reform the business not to sell it.

The end of corporations would clearly eliminate most of the financial sector. But even if some private corporations were to be retained, the case for eliminating most of the financial sector, and nationalising much of the rest, is strong. Beyond the basic functions of taking deposits and making loans (which could be handled by co-operatives or publicly owned banks) there is no reason to suppose the activities of major financial institutions and markets is socially beneficial. Much of it relies either on tax fraud (politely called minimisation) or regulatory arbitrage (taking profitable risks and relying on regulators for rescue when things go wrong).

The same is true of private corporations in sectors like education and health, which typically involve a lot of public money. The clearest cases include for-profit universities in the US, which exist primarily to rip off public programs like Pell Grants, and for-profit prisons. Not every for-profit business in the human services sector has been as bad as the University of Phoenix and Serco. But I’m not aware of any successes so clear as to overcome a presumption in favour of direct public, or publicly-funded non-profit provision.

As far as energy is concerned, the malignant activities of companies like Exxon, long the main promoter of climate denial, provide a good argument for public ownership of energy resources as the default. The obvious model here is Norway’s Statoil (now Equinor), still majority publicly owned and highly successful.

Next manufacturing. Public enterprises have done a perfectly adequate job in large-scale manufacturing industries, such as steel and motor vehicles. Still, there would probably be room for some private firms.
?Retail, hospitality and similar industries are probably not suited for public ownership. But they can be provided perfectly well by small businesses.

The most complicated case is that of the information technology companies that now account for much of the value of corporate assets in the US (Apple, Microsoft, Google/Alphabet, Facebook/Meta and Amazon). Of these only Apple has any real claim to have produced anything truly innovative (even if some of it was first invented at Xerox/PARC). So, we are faced with the general problem of encouraging innovation to which I will return in later post.

The others were in the right place at the right time to capture network and scale economies. It’s clear they aren’t doing much to justify their profits. Microsoft in particular is just collecting rents on products developed decades ago by copying others. The search for advertising revenue leads both Facebook and Google to make their products much less useful than they should be. We could certainly do better, even if it’s hard to say precisely how.

82 thoughts on “Would we be better off without corporations?

  1. My first thought (still reading) was that the elimination of the financial sector (or financial industry as they like to call it) might be a good thing in itself. Most people intersect with it only through where their compulsory super has been invested, and it produces nothing on its own. It would be like removing gambling from society

  2. Almost all economists favour a mixed economy – one where markets persist in most areas but where there is substantial public intervention. For most of us the core divisive issue is where the line should be drawn. Very few firms operate to deliver a perfectly known output to well-informed consumers as in the model of perfect competition with price equal to marginal cost. In most cases there is slippage somewhere – a case can be made for regulation to ensure product quality, to ensure good information is available to consumers or to eliminate monopoly power. There can be explicit regulation (food quality inspections, public information provision or monopoly regulation). Alternatively, the imperfections can be ignored on the grounds that they are minor (e.g. that reputation issues will guarantee reasonable product quality) or because regulation is seen as highly imperfect relative to the market imperfections (e.g. the well-known adverse consequences of forcing a monopolist to price at marginal cost or given the dynamic efficiency virtues that stem from firms innovating to pursue short-term extra normal profits etc). The final position is the extreme one that John adopts – running all large businesses as public enterprises. Moreover, John’s arguments are mainly non-economic – they are not based, for example, on natural monopoly considerations. Wise bureaucrats operating in the public interest would, it is claimed, outperform profit-seeking private managers.

    I think John’s tentative prescriptions would be disastrous. Capital raising for large public corporations would need to come from the public purse and be made by government bureaucrats and ultimately by politicians. Under this type of arrangement I could imagine Australia having a much larger manufacturing sector than it does now and a much smaller service and resources sector. Vote buying by regional political interests is already a problem in Australia but with the option to set up large manufacturing businesses it would be much worse. Let’s hear it for automobile assembly in the Latrobe Valley – an area where, for politicians and social romantics, high unemployment forces the need for new factories irrespective of economics. Or for public corporations to develop northern Australia into a food bowl for Asia. Or for XYZ Public Corporation that would generate 4000 jobs at a hidden $10b cost to the taxpayer….

    Telecommunications? Well I can remember when the old Telecom took a year to effect a telephone connection to a Sydney household. I cannot believe that the communications and information revolution that has swept through our economy would have been implemented by a board of bureaucrats sitting in Canberra. It is inconceivable. Yes this is anecdotal evidence but I could talk about aviation and many other industries were privatisations have been successful.

    Education? I hardly think the current public universities, their legions of bureaucrats struggling to keep up with the latest central government directives on commercialising research etc. and their dumbed-down offerings as providing a model that should be pursued by the entire tertiary sector. The best system is obviously one that is mixed with public and private offerings.

    The financial sector? It is a problem and the reasons for the financialization of the economy and for the dominant role of paper shufflers are unclear. Yes it’s a mess and many fortunes have been made by those who have contributed little – that it’s a mess does not mean a lot if you get overall efficiency gains. Innovations are messy and produce failures as well as successes – the early aviation industry is a textbook example. The alternative is to have large publicly-owned banks who do not rely on markets to determine interest rates but which ration credit on the basis of past savings behaviour at perennially low interest rates. I am not completely averse to this but would prefer to have public financial institutions such as banks and a competitive fringe of privately owned banks.

    Generally I think the profit motive outperforms public interest based decision making by politician-appointed bureaucrats. It isn’t perfect but it outperforms nebulous decision making procedures based on the political aspirations of ideologues. The evidence lies in our historical experience – the development of prosperous high consumption standards where the wealth is spread around quite a bit compared to the disastrous economic experience of those who have embraced socialism. Markets work imperfectly, I agree, but bureaucracy-driven economic judgements are worse.

    Finally, I also have my political biases. I don’t want a more powerful central government and an attendant bureaucracy that directs most of the economy. I prefer a bit of market chaos and imperfections to a plodding bunch of bureaucrats who will decide what I want to consume and what new industries will be established. I prefer our current imperfect democracy to a regime where the centre has even more economic and political power. That is true even if the centre thinks it has good moral values and even if it reads John Quiggin’s blog. I don’t trust them and should not have to.

  3. If it’s true that the effects of the establishment of the corporate form were, on aggregate, negative, it would be interesting to know more about how, historically, it came to be established and to be spread. Come to that, even if it’s not true that the effects were negative, it would still be interesting to know more about the history.

  4. First sentence of Brad DeLong’s new book, Slouching towards Utopia (to be published in September):

    “What I call the ‘long twentieth century’ started with the watershed-boundary crossing events of around 1870—the triple emergence of globalization, the industrial research lab, and the modern corporation—which ushered in changes that began to pull the world out of the dire poverty that had been humanity’s lot for the previous ten thousand years.”

    This book is attracting some positive comment from people who’ve seen advance copies and know some economic history (e.g. Thomas Piketty). Perhaps DeLong will have something to say about corporations that you’ll want to consider.

  5. “That is, I’d like to consider a society in which all large enterprises were publicly owned.”

    I don’t think size of the corporation is the issue – at least not solely or primarily – it’s more its purpose. It’s the Coke-or-Water argument. All sectors that deliver a ‘public good’, are a natural monopoly, an essential service – or as you say – rely on public money either as capital or revenue, should be owned by the people / government.

    I don’t think there is an ethical, social, or political argument to say that ‘society’ is better off when water, electricity, gas, roads, telephony, airports, schools, health services, hospitals, most insurance, law enforcement, prisons – and much else – are in private hands. OTOH I don’t think governments need to make Coke, cigarettes, candy, carpets, shoes, skis, and so on.

    The problem of course are the many sectors that are in between – oil & gas, nuclear energy, hydroelectricity, mining, even cars, telecoms, television and radio, housing, banking, finance, and dare I say it, ‘social media’. We could then consider agriculture, conservation, and the management of national parks – in fact all commonly owned resources and assets.

    But even before going the huge step of nationalising large corporation that have a long history of being privately owned, we could at least make sure they pay full and proper taxes, are subject to effective and non-captured regulation, and are prevented from polluting the environment and harming people.

  6. JQ has focused on the empirical side of the question, using a broad brush but still indicating that a one size fits all approach is not helpful. On this aspect of the topic, I’d like to note there are some large corporations that are completely privately owned by a family. I mention this to focus a little on what is the problem? Is it the corporate form of enterprise (an artificial person created in law) or size of the enterprise or essential services (natural monopoly) or all of the above.

    But there are also theoretical issues. IMHO, Jacques H. Dreze’s book Essays on economic decisions under uncertainty, Cambridge University Press, 1987 is still a good text to get an overview of the theoretical issues and there are many. Moreover, much of the literature cited in this book was available before the blind belief driven neoliberalism took off.

    I am a bit time constrained at the moment. JQ, I do hope you keep this topic alive.

  7. If you want to take education as an example; Finland has shown that private schools stand as a major barrier to national literacy and numeracy levels.

  8. I’m glad that Harry has mentioned Telstra; after privatisation they refused to build the NBN so the govt had to do it thereby refuting Harry’s notion that Govts can’t raise capital or do business.

    Privatising TLS meant that their focus shifted from serving the customer to serving the shareholder – as required under law. TLS hasn’t invented or created anything – they are a service provider.

    And Qantas serves its well rewarded ceo while leaving customers stranded at airports.

  9. I would also acknowledge the role of corporations in spearheading colonialism and imperialism, and responsibility for wars and atrocities done to the Global South.

  10. Just an anecdotal account of something very close to home (literally). At our house (inner-suburban Melbourne) we have (a) an Optus cable strung from the telegraph pole to our roof, (b) a Foxtel cable strung ditto, (c) Telstra copper (underground), and (d) a full NBN fibre cable running past the front fence.

    Despite all that, Foxtel last week installed a satellite dish on our roof to provide our pay-TV, as they have decided not to use the NBN, not to use their own overhead cable network, and not use the Telstra copper. This all represents a huge waste of money and resources by private corporations.

    Our Optus Broadband comes in via the NBN and the Telstra copper – but not from the new NBN service running past the house. There must have been a better way to provide modern pay-TV and broadband services … and we are just one house among millions.

    Anyway – I retain my view that a mixed economy is the right model, however the privatisation of essential services and natural monopolies over the past forty years has not seen a net benefit.

  11. Rig said “Finland has shown that private schools stand as a major barrier to national literacy and numeracy levels.”

    Education #1  “Would we be better off without corporations” and government boondoggles.

    “NSW government overfunding private schools by $850m, report suggests

    “Teachers federation-commissioned report says 28 schools overfunded by more than $1m each and public schools underfunded $2bn a year
    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/jul/05/nsw-government-overfunding-private-schools-by-850m-report-suggests
    *

    “NSW — Public Funding Schools and the School Resourcing Standard

    “Key finding 8: On a per-student basis, the revised bilateral agreement on school funding signed by the Commonwealth and NSW governments delivers by 2023 an annual funding shortfall in SRS funds for public schools of $1523 per student. At the same time, it delivers overfunding to private schools of $785 per student.
    (3)

    Click to access rorris-report_3.pdf

    *

    And America is worse.

    “VALEDICTORIAN RIPS INTO EROSION OF PUBLIC EDUCATION IN GRADUATION SPEECH

    “Los Angeles, CA – On June 6, Axel Brito, Hollywood High School Class of 2022 valedictorian, gave a powerful speech during his senior graduation ceremony at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. His speech is an indictment of the entrenched corruption within the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) at the expense of quality education and services for students and the working conditions of teachers and school workers.”
    https://popularresistance.org/lausd-high-school-valedictorian-rips-into-the-erosion-of-public-education-in-graduation-speech-sparking-mass-support/

  12. “Teachers federation-commissioned report says 28 schools overfunded by more than $1m each and public schools underfunded $2bn a year.”

    One of the first things an emerging ruling class does (in any economy, society, or colony) – is to establish, legitimise, and fund a private education system for the children of the elite. I’m proud to say that my commie father was a member of the NSW Teachers’ Federation, and very active in the 1960s Defence of Government Schools movement (DOGS) – sadly they lost the war, since both the Coalition and Labor had strong ideological (and electoral) incentives to support government funding of private – mostly religious – schools.

    So to this day, elite schools ponder whether to hire a fourth rowing coach, build a new sports centre, or have a three week trip for Year 11 to the Himalayas, while thousands of public schools struggle for basic amenities, often in ageing buildings. I concede that lots of Parish Catholic schools are pretty similar to state schools nearby … but I expect they weren’t the ones to get the bonus funding.

    Schools should be free, compulsory, secular, and publicly owned. Apparently this remains a minority view. The arguments about “freedom of choice” are a cover for the entrenching of class privilege and inequality. Life chances depend on your school – probably even more than the universities.

  13. Rog

    “I’m glad that Harry has mentioned Telstra; after privatisation they refused to build the NBN so the govt had to do it thereby refuting Harry’s notion that Govts can’t raise capital or do business.”

    The problem is that the government can fund virtually anything it likes – it has access to the public tax coffers and the money printing press. Even for you, this is an amazing misrepresentation.

    The difficulty is that capital raisings by government can be in aid of narrow political objectives rather than meeting consumer needs. They need have no commercial or indeed social rationale.

  14. I’m surprised at the number of comments here that state or imply that governments and government bodies are incompetent at achieving things. This is part of the lies fed to us to soften us up for the privatisation of everything

  15. The mix is more complicated than Harry represents. The division in most modern economies is roughly 30 units of government, 40 units of communistically-organised non-monetised goods and services (the household sector), 10 units of not-for-profit (charities and such) and 70 units of for profit enterprises. Of the for-profits, the overwhelming bulk (probably 60 out of the 70) is organised on command and control lines – large corporations and their satellite suppliers (think VW, Mitsubishi, Nestle, Exxon..). The classic free-market is a small part of the total. We can look at shifting any one of these boundaries. Much of the last 40 years has been a shift from the household into the ‘for profit’ world more than a shift from government to private.

  16. It’s important that for a mix of private/public to be successful there needs to be a competent and skilful PS to ensure that targets are properly defined and achieved.

    Hollowing out govt might achieve ideological goals but leaves the private sector without the direction and control that it so needs.

  17. The division in most modern economies is roughly 30 units of government, 40 units of communistically-organised non-monetised goods and services (the household sector), 10 units of not-for-profit (charities and such) and 70 units of for profit enterprises.

    I am puzzled by the choice to divide into 150 units. Why that particular number?

  18. “I am puzzled by the choice to divide into 150 units. Why that particular number?”

    Yes – I was puzzled by it as well – and how it’s an advance on the more normal 100 percent. And can you please advise how you achieved the Block Quote in your post above? And are italic and bold also available?

  19. Yes – I was puzzled by it as well – and how it’s an advance on the more normal 100 percent. And can you please advise how you achieved the Block Quote in your post above? And are italic and bold also available?

    Usual HTML tags: b inside angle brackets to start bolding, /b inside angle brackets to stop it; similarly i for italic and blockquote for a block quote.

  20. Thanks comrade … I actually knew those HTML codes, but definitely had a brain-fade.

  21. “I would also acknowledge the role of corporations in spearheading colonialism and imperialism, and responsibility for wars and atrocities done to the Global South” (Kien above)

    Kien, there is a long history in support of your argument. East-India Company (British), Dutch East India Company (United East India Company) are perhaps the most widely known that fit the picture. Earlier on the Marco Polo family (Venice), not incorporated, but with high wealth. The major 20th century USA and EU multinational corporations are well researched. But in the meantime there are also Russian (eg Gasprom) and Chinese multinational corporations. Like their European predecessors, they are linked to the political power of the day. Over time the picture of the ‘rich north’ vs ‘global south’ became a little more blurred because there are quite powerful multinationals with headquarters in South America (Brazil, Argentina, Chile), in South Africa, in India.

  22. “Is the Pope Catholic?”

    It´s only half a joke to me to see the catholic church as a good point in defense of for profit corporations stereotypical anglo type. The catholic church just does not seem to be able to go away, dysfunctional anglo corporations are doing far less sustainable damage by being dissolved for good eventually.

    The jokeing part of this is that the alternative could be a government managed more liberal church like in , ah yada Sweden again or US style evangelicals – the second alternative would be the one more close to a “market” solution. There is also the aspect that the catholic church isn´t exactly the antithesis to capitalims either, in particular here in Germany the churchs capital assets are huge (albeit capital ownership is not quite the same as an ideal type for profit corporation but then which corporation really is….).

  23. Is the Pope Catholic?

    ‘Pope’ is not one of the official titles of the head of the Catholic Church, but it is an official title of the head of the Coptic Church.

  24. Further to the comments about the funding of private schools which includes the Catholic sector.

    Using Gonksi, each Catholic school is funded per assessed need. However, the Federal Government gives the bucket of money to each State-based Diocese. The Diocese then re-divides the $ pie as it sees fit. The process creates and maintains and underclass (no pun intended) of winners and losers with schools being regularly underfunded according to Gonski needs. We hear of no complaints because: 1) the Diocese knows best and 2) principals would not last long.

    The situation is further exacerbated by Diocese withholding ‘voluntary donations’ made by all Catholic schools to the funding of the Diocese.

    The situation is not much better in privately run (religious and non-religious) aged centres who are an impediment to genuine and sustained reform. Giving private aged care centres extra-funds to improve the quality of meals and increasing physiotherapy provision AND THEN expecting these centres to self-regulate outside of the small window that is their ‘re-accreditation period’ is not much more than a joke.

    Once again, in the religious sector, aged care centres make a voluntary annual donation to their Diocese. Donations have a way of being dressed up in some instances. The situation where St Basils paid a non-commercial $14.6m in ‘rent’ over a 5-year period to its Diocese is clear evidence that private religious aged care centres do not operate in the best interests of patients. No prizes for guessing where a good portion of the rent funds came from.

  25. “Capitalist realism isn’t just a war on imagination, it’s also a war on history.”^1.

    JQ, thanks for realizing “The past 40 years of neoliberal rule have been defined by “capitalist realism” (“It is easier to imagine an end to the world than an end to capitalism”).”^1

    And imagining an alternative to; 
    “The standard-bearer for capitalist realism was Margaret Thatcher, whose maxim, “There is no alternative” was framed as an observation, but was actually a demand: “Stop trying to imagine an alternative.””^1

    Albert Einstein agrees: “The mere formulation of a problem is far more often essential than its solution, which may be merely a matter of mathematical or experimental skill. To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle requires creative imagination and makes real advances in science.”
    https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Albert_Einstein
    *

    ^1. Cory Doctorow on debtors & creditors.

    “Finance caused the fall of Rome 

    “The civilizations of antiquity solved this problem with “jubilee” – periodic festivals of debt forgiveness that would wipe out debtors’ obligations and creditors’ rents:

    https://pluralistic.net/2020/03/24/grandparents-optional-party/#jubilee

    “The notion that humans can choose their social structures is a deeply subversive one. The past 40 years of neoliberal rule have been defined by “capitalist realism” (“It is easier to imagine an end to the world than an end to capitalism”). The standard-bearer for capitalist realism was Margaret Thatcher, whose maxim, “There is no alternative” was framed as an observation, but was actually a demand: “Stop trying to imagine an alternative.”

    pluralistic
    net/2021/11/08/tina-v-tapas/#its-pronounced-tape-ass

    “Capitalist realism isn’t just a war on imagination, it’s also a war on history. If we know about the different societies our ancestors built, we will inevitably start to imagine alternatives to the creditor society that we’re stuck in today.

    “As Orwell put it: “Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.”

    “That’s why history is so contested. When bigots seek to extinguish queerness, they insist that queerness is a recent phenomenon, an aberration that upends thousands of years of straight missionary sex. When Eleanor Janega explains just how kinky the middle ages were, she doesn’t just correct the record, she rebuts the argument:

    going-medieva
    com/2022/07/08/on-medieval-kink-part-2/

    “Unsurprisingly, the Graeber memorial seminars devote a lot of energy to unearthing suppressed histories.  This week in Lyon, France, a group of activists and academics are celebrating Graeber at an event called “Construire des passerelles” (“building bridges”):

    https://davidgraeber22.sciencesconf.org/

    “Yesterday, Michael Hudson opened the event with a keynote called “From Junk Economics to a False View of History – Where Western Civilization Took a Wrong Turn,” which digs into the history of creditor and debtor protection and what it tells us about our current polycrisis:

    nakedcapitalism
    com/2022/07/michael-hudson-from-junk-economics-to-a-false-view-of-history-where-western-civilization-took-a-wrong-turn.html

    “Hudson tells us a history of antiquity that takes a sharp turn when ancient Rome decided to protect creditors over debtors, eliminating the jubilee and creating a hereditary aristocracy that drove Roman civilization into its grave.

    “Rather than recognizing the failed ideology of Roman civilization, we exalt it, erasing all the long-run, stable, debtor-friendly societies that came before it. The contemporary hypercapitalist ideology that holds that government’s only legitimate roles are protecting property and enforcing contracts are a thinly veiled version of protecting creditors over debtors.

    “The “contracts” that society upholds are inevitably debt-creating contracts; the “property” that society exalts is inevitably the accumulated rents from debt extraction.

    “Hudson says that these ideas were well-understood in ancient civilizations – and thoroughly rejected.

    https://pluralistic.net/2022/07/08/jubilant/#construire-des-passerelles

  26. For JQ’s case: agriculture. The problem of over-concentrated land ownership predates capitalism. Generally, latifundiae are terrible, whether in the hands of Roman senators, feudal seigneurs, ancien régime nobles, or modern agribusiness. The usual imbalance of power in the employment relationship is multiplied by local monopoly. In a city, the poorest labourer has a choice of Gradgrinds; back in the village, it’s working for the Duke of Omnium or starve. Millions of British farmworkers thought they were better off in the urban slums and sweatshops of the early Industrial revolution. Conversely, redistributive land reform has IIRC been very successful in East Asia. Most economies of scale in agriculture can be captured in a socially benign way through cooperatives.

    Against JQ’s case: manufacturing. The sector tends to be fetishized as the textbook paradigm, which is unsound, but it does generate a disproportionate share of innovation in products and processes. Paul Volcker was fond of reminding bankers that the one indisputable advance in finance in the postwar era was the invention of the ATM – not by banks but a company making cash registers for shops.

    The peacetime record of various forms of socialist ownership in manufacturing is poor, in marked contrast to agriculture, finance and retail. Apart from Mondragon in Spain, what are the successes? The Soviet command economy was successful in weaponry, a failure in consumer goods. Why? Hypothesis: the risks to a single firm are much higher in manufacturing, given a reasonable pace of background innovation. Cooperatives shy away from big bets, state-controlled ones make bad ones. DARPA and Fraunhofer socialize technical risks from innovation in different ways. This looks to me like a case of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. It may be broke in pharmaceuticals and books.

  27. Re 150 units – government stats bodies give percentages for the standard GDP measurements, which cover private enterprise and a derived figure for government services. Measurement of the household sector is sporadic, but a figure of 40% of GDP is usual for where it is done. Volunteering and similar add another 10 units. One could reduce it to percentages, but I kept it to avoid false precision.

  28. Dammit, “latifundia” is already a plural noun in Latin, singular “latifundium”.

  29. James Wimberly, the latifundia were an early example of a historical tendencies followed to this day with drastic results for plebs then, as now.

  30. Ah… Western Australia is socialist?

    Coal & power? Easy really. “As shire president Sarah Stanley says: “We had to take the fight out of it”.
    *

    “Look to the west to find out how to get the end of coal right

    “Also, the mines and power stations on the east coast are mostly privately owned, whereas the ones in WA weren’t privatised, so the state government there can control what happens.

    “Taking the fight out of coal

    “Collie has two coal mines and three coal-fired power stations that have been the basis of the town’s existence for 100 years.

    “In 2019 the WA government made the first of a series of announcements that the state-owned power stations would close, culminating in a final statement last month that all coal would be shut down by 2030.

    “A Just Transition Working Group was set up in 2019, but the first meeting of about 50 people was unwieldy and argumentative, so the numbers were cut to 15. They’ve been meeting every six weeks for three years.

    “As shire president Sarah Stanley says: “We had to take the fight out of it”.

    “About half of the people on the working group represent various state government departments and the rest come from the unions, local businesses and the shire council.”

    https://thenewdaily.com.au/finance/2022/07/11/alan-kohhler-end-of-coal/

    “This work has been implemented using the internationally-renowned Just Transition framework, which focuses on supporting workers, industries and communities in the shift from carbon-intensive industries.”
    https://www.wa.gov.au/organisation/department-of-the-premier-and-cabinet/collie-just-transition

    “The Just Transition Mechanism: making sure no one is left behind”
    https://ec.europa.eu/info/strategy/priorities-2019-2024/european-green-deal/finance-and-green-deal/just-transition-mechanism_en

  31. “In 2019 the WA government made the first of a series of announcements that the state-owned power stations would close, culminating in a final statement last month that all coal would be shut down by 2030.”

    This is utter insanity. At the most they should be saying, “We will consider a transition from coal- and gas-fired base-load power if and only if we are convinced that ‘renewable’ sources of power will meet the demands of society at that time, and for decades to come”.

    Further – I would like to be convinced that the elimination of human-generated CO2 in Australia by 2030 will have the slightest impact on the temperature of the planet in 2100 … I remain deeply sceptical that it will. China and India alone are building literally hundreds of new coal-fired power stations annually.

    And if we do wish to be virtuous about not burning coal, at least be consistent and drop the hypocrisy … stop mining and exporting the stuff. Natural gas too. And iron ore.

  32. @ KT2.
    Pretty coherent, the real problem for decades has been the actuality of transitioning in a neo liberal pol-economic enviro.
    Politicians who have tried transitioning have often faced diabolical consequences from people afraid of being left behind, fears stoked by vested interests.

    Btw, the People’s Republic of Bowden SA extends comradely greetings to the proletarian Collie Collective..

  33. Cargill: – “This is utter insanity. At the most they should be saying, “We will consider a transition from coal- and gas-fired base-load power if and only if we are convinced that ‘renewable’ sources of power will meet the demands of society at that time, and for decades to come”.

    See Dr Saul Griffith’s Rewiring Australia: https://www.rewiringaustralia.org/
    Also see YouTube video titled Professor Andrew Blakers: 100% renewables and storage – part 1, published 23 Jul 2020, duration 0:31:27

    Cargill: – “China and India alone are building literally hundreds of new coal-fired power stations annually.

    Where do you get that nonsense from? Per Global Energy Monitor’s Global Coal Plant Tracker, as of Jan 2022, for Coal-fired Power Stations by Country:

    China: Preconstruction: 148; Construction: 92; Shelved: 35; Operating: 1,110; Cancelled 2010-2021: 502; Retired 2000-2021: 351

    India: Preconstruction: 22; Construction: 26; Shelved: 11; Operating: 285; Cancelled 2010-2021: 410; Retired 2000-2021: 39
    https://globalenergymonitor.org/projects/global-coal-plant-tracker/summary-tables/

    Cargill; – “And if we do wish to be virtuous about not burning coal, at least be consistent and drop the hypocrisy … stop mining and exporting the stuff. Natural gas too.

    Yep. But everyone must stop burning carbon – fast, or per the evidence/data there likely won’t be a civilisation by 2100.
    See my Submission lodged on 8 Jul 2022 to the IPCN re the Mt Pleasant Optimisation Project at: https://www.ipcn.nsw.gov.au/projects/2022/05/mt-pleasant-optimisation-project-ssd-10418
    Click on the Public Submissions tab, then click on the Objections tab, and my submission & attachment pdf document are available to view listed on the 5th page of group of 10 submissions.

  34. See Dr Saul Griffith’s Rewiring Australia: https://www.rewiringaustralia.org/

    This is not the appropriate thread for a debate about the feasibility and the cost of the current ‘renewable energy’ agenda … but the first five or six statements in Griffith’s blog were very contentious and debateable indeed. Plus I’m always sceptical of such appeals to vague and obscure authority.

    Perhaps get back to me when there is a $25,000 electric vehicle, with a range of 500 km or more, ready availability of recharging (at home, on the road, at work, etc), batteries that last 5-10 years, cost about $2000, are not prone to very hot fires, do not consume all the world’s cobalt and lithium and other rare earths, and are constructed and re-charged by electricity from ‘renewable’ sources.

    I trust you can see where my scepticism comes from. Elon Musk isn’t going to save the planet.

    Nor is shutting down our small number of – but totally essential – fossil fuel power stations, certainly not by some arbitrary and unrealistic date. And as I said – what is the point other than to be given an elephant stamp at the next climate forum? Especially when India and China ALONE have 1,673 power stations operating, under construction, or in pre-construction. And no plans to change until there is something better and cheaper.

    As I said, wrecking the Australian economy through energy policy is a very high price to pay for effectively zero result.

  35. CSL & Afterpay. We’d be better off. 

    First to return to the common wealth…CSL “a new record high would have been set by CSL’s Paul Perrault (who also set the last record in the 2020 financial year) with realised pay of $58.9 million”(^2.),

    JQ said re CSL;
    “Why then, are we paying nearly $1 billion to a company we once owned to provide pharmaceutical products that were developed when we owned it?

    “In 30 years of privatisation in Australia, there has not been a single case where the public would not have been at least as well off if the asset had remained in public ownership. Turning this around, there is now a strong case for renationalisation of a wide range of private assets, including roads, electricity transmission and distribution network and airports. It is time to call the failed experiment of privatisation to a halt.”
    https://johnquiggin.com/2020/11/27/paying-for-what-we-used-to-own-the-strange-case-of-csl/

    ^2.
    “Afterpay’s founders Anthony Eisen and Nick Molnar are Australia’s highest-paid CEOs

    “Even without the Afterpay duo’s windfall, ACSI’s report says a new record high would have been set by CSL’s Paul Perrault (who also set the last record in the 2020 financial year) with realised pay of $58.9 million.”

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-07-13/afterpay-ceos-anthony-eisen-nick-molnar-highest-paid-ceos-bnpl/101228586

    ^3.
    “Doherty points to the example of CSL Limited, the former Commonwealth Serum Laboratories, established in 1916 by the Australian government and privatised in the early 1990s.

    “CSL can make two variants of the Covid-19 vaccine,” Doherty says. “It could easily have been bought out and moved offshore and we would have no capacity as a nation to manufacture these drugs. Why is it still here? Because they draw off the university talent.”
    https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/news/politics/2020/09/26/coalition-cut-2-billion-year-university-research/160104240010465
    *

    From…
    “Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI) report:

    “CEO PAY IN THE ASX200”
    July 12, 2021

    “Australia’s largest companies have mostly shown discipline and restraint in unprecedented circumstances. The research finds that pay outcomes for CEOs at Australia’s leading companies fell to their lowest levels in more than a decade in the 2020 financial year, and almost one third of ASX100 CEO’s received no bonus in the past financial year.”
    https://acsi.org.au/research-reports/ceo-pay-in-the-asx200/

    Click to access CEO-Pay-in-ASX200-Companies-2021-embargoed-13-July-2021.pdf

  36. Cargill: – “This is not the appropriate thread for a debate about the feasibility and the cost of the current ‘renewable energy’ agenda…

    You initiated the debate with your comments. It seems to me you are woefully ignorant of the critical energy issues.

    Cargill: – “I’m always sceptical of such appeals to vague and obscure authority.

    And yet it seems to me you are willing to swallow fossil fuel industry propaganda, propagated by the usual media suspects, and regurgitate it.

    Cargill: – “And as I said – what is the point other than to be given an elephant stamp at the next climate forum? Especially when India and China ALONE have 1,673 power stations operating, under construction, or in pre-construction.

    What’s the point? If humanity cannot rapidly reduce human-induced GHG emissions then we/humanity likely won’t have a civilisation and billions will highly likely suffer and die before 2100. The Laws of Physics are not negotiable. Ah, but perhaps you are a climate science denier, Cargill? 😉

    I’d suggest, either the the fossil fuel infrastructure being built and operated in India and China (and everywhere else) become “stranded assets” very soon, or humanity is right royally screwed!

    Cargill: – “And no plans to change until there is something better and cheaper.

    There are already cheaper and better solutions: https://reneweconomy.com.au/integrated-wind-and-solar-still-the-cheapest-and-green-hydrogen-costs-falling-fast-csiro/

    There are already plans by the AEMO to change: https://wattclarity.com.au/articles/2022/06/aemo-releases-2022-integrated-system-plan-isp/

    But I forget that you are “always sceptical of such appeals to vague and obscure authority”. 🙄 IMO, that’s ‘cherry-picking’ to suit your narrative and being wilfully ignorant.

    Cargill: – “…wrecking the Australian economy through energy policy is a very high price to pay for effectively zero result.

    Business-as-usual means Australian economic and societal collapse in the coming decades. See slides 9 through 17, and 32, plus a whole section on the worsening oil supply crisis from slides 33 through 47 in my Submission referred earlier.

    You can choose to remain ignorant, or become better informed.

  37. Cargill said “This is utter insanity.” 

    Which is utter insanity Cargill?
    a) WA shutting down carbon, or?
    b) for profit AGL shutting down carbon?

    This is insanity; 
    “The corporations making big money, paying no tax and laughing at us”
    17 December 2019, 

    “THINGS MUST BE GRIM at AGL Energy. This year’s tax transparency report released by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) reveals AGL paid $107 million less in tax in 2018 than back in 2014.

    “You would deduce from this that business must be tough, profits must be down disastrously and executives and shareholders having a thin time of it. You would be wrong.

    “AGL paid its executives $13.4 million in 2018. This was up 28.4% on the $10.4 million in 2014.  Dividends paid to shareholders were a staggering 253% higher, up from $269 million to $682 million.

    “At least AGL did declare a profit and pay some company tax — even if it was just 1.6 cents in every dollar of its colossal revenue.”
    https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/the-corporations-making-big-money-paying-no-tax-and-laughing-at-us,13419

    Cargill, which is “utter insanity” and why?
    *

    Angys Taylor (ahahaha) has a cheap coal fired generator to sell you Cargill… maybe, like Trevor St John, you’ll get it for $1, and can leverage it at $750m as an asset, and buy firmed renewables, making a grant from YOU to HIM, leaving ‘us’ to bail him out?

    And BHP has a ‘free” coal mine for you.

    And I’ll bet Cargill, you could afford an electric vehicle. It is just your mind set that requires a 500km range, at a bargin price. If your evaluation was sans ego and all cost benefit, you’d already have an electric vehicle.

    “The [dis]-Hon Angus Taylor MP
    Archived content”

    “Statement on early closure of Loy Yang A and Bayswater power stations”
    10 February 2022

    “The Government will closely monitor and model the impact of these closures, to hold industry to account on the dispatchable capacity needed to ensure affordable, reliable power for consumers.”
    https://www.minister.industry.gov.au/ministers/taylor/media-releases/statement-early-closure-loy-yang-and-bayswater-power-stations
    *

    Or, HOW about AGL being in charge of blackouts?
    “AGL’s Loy Yang A, Bayswater coal plants will close early, but environmental groups say it’s not soon enough

    “Johanna Bowyer from the Institute for Energy Economic and Financial Analysis says there are plenty of new renewable projects on the way to fill the void after the closure of the two major power stations.”
    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-02-10/agl-plans-to-close-loy-yang-a-bayswater-coal-plants-earlier/100818680
    *

    Jobs Cargill?
    “When AGL was trying to get its Gloucester CSG project up and running it claimed: ”The natural gas industry was responsible for an estimated 100,000 Australian jobs last year”.

    “For this to be true, the gas industry must have been responsible for 58 per cent of all job creation, as total additional jobs in Australia that year were 173,537. In fact, total employment growth in oil and gas was just 9372 (23,200 jobs all up) in 2013. That didn’t worry AGL, which breezily bandied about a figure of 100,000.”
    michaelwest
    com.au/nine-lies-how-the-gas-cartel-clouted-australia-with-price-rises/
    *

  38. Cargill: – “Perhaps get back to me when there is a $25,000 electric vehicle, with a range of 500 km or more, ready availability of recharging (at home, on the road, at work, etc), batteries that last 5-10 years, cost about $2000, are not prone to very hot fires, do not consume all the world’s cobalt and lithium and other rare earths, and are constructed and re-charged by electricity from ‘renewable’ sources.

    Based on the accumulating evidence/data, I think petroleum fuel supplies in Australia will likely become increasingly more unaffordable (and perhaps rationed or unavailable?) before BEVs satisfy your stated requirements. Time will tell.

    Australian retail national average petrol prices have risen from:
    150.0 cents per litre (week-ending 18 Jul 2021); rising to a peak of
    212.5 cents per litre (w/e 20 Mar 2022, prior to the fuel excise cut); then declining to
    166.3 cents per litre (w/e 17 Apr 2022), then rising back to
    212.1 cents per litre (w/e 10 Jul 2022).
    https://aip.com.au/pricing/ULP/National/National-Average

    Australian retail national average diesel prices have risen from:
    144.2 cents per litre (w/e 18 Jul 2021); rising to a peak of
    221.6 cents per litre (w/e 20 Mar 2022, prior to the fuel excise cut); then declining to
    192.4 cents per litre (w/e 17 Apr 2022), then rising back to
    235.4 cents per litre (w/e 10 Jul 2022).
    https://aip.com.au/pricing/Diesel/National/National-Average

    Australian fuel prices will likely rise further due to:
    1. 22.1 cents per litre fuel excise increase after 28 Sep 2022;
    2. the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) release of 1 million barrels per day for 180 days (representing roughly one-third of the total available SPR storage) will cease on Sep 27;
    3. the output of petroleum fuels from Chinese refineries is down due to COVID.

    I would not be at all surprised to see fuel prices in Australia rising further, possibly around $3/litre by the end of this year. I think diesel fuel prices will likely get to $3/litre sooner than petrol.
    See News article dated Jun 11 headlined Petrol prices look set to skyrocket as three key factors combine

    Tom Quinn tweeted a thread on Jun 28 about scenarios on how long it could take Australia to transition its vehicle fleet away from petroleum fuel dependency.

    At 99% EV sales by 2030, even at this pace, it’s suggested 80% of Australia’s vehicle fleet would still run on fossil fuels. What will the price of fuel be then in 2030 to operate them? $5/litre? $10? $20? Would there be fuel rationing?

    Food for your thoughts.

  39. And I’ll bet Cargill, you could afford an electric vehicle. It is just your mind set that requires a 500km range, at a bargin [sic] price. If your evaluation was sans ego and all cost benefit, you’d already have an electric vehicle.

    Oh dear … it’s always the same … if anyone dares bring some rational and technical questions to the table, the cultists are straight out with the ad-hominem attacks. It never varies.

    Please note carefully – I am far from a global-warming denier, but I do retain a strong streak of scepticism on just about every front. But my greatest concern is that the almighty RUSH to alleged ‘renewable energy’ will be very destructive to the Australian economy, and way of life.

    Plus I am very sceptical about ‘renewable energy’ anyway – a huge amount goes into the construction, installation, and maintenance of wind turbines, and they operate at less than 30% of their claimed output. Solar panels have similar problems – including both a short working life, and serious environmental consequences.

    All these issues should be thoroughly discussed and assessed prior to closing coal and stopping gas. As I said – doing it too quickly is lunacy.

  40. As I said – doing it too quickly is lunacy.

    By definition, it is always a bad idea to do anything too quickly, but also, by exactly the same definition, it is always a bad idea to do anything too slowly. That is part of what ‘too’ means. The problem is always knowing how quickly is too quickly and how slowly is too slowly. In a situation where you are concerned that people are doing something too quickly, it is possible that you are right, but it is also possible that you have made a faulty judgement and that in fact they are doing it either just quickly enough or not quickly enough.

  41. At 99% EV sales by 2030, even at this pace, it’s suggested 80% of Australia’s vehicle fleet would still run on fossil fuels. What will the price of fuel be then in 2030 to operate them? $5/litre? $10? $20? Would there be fuel rationing?

    I certainly agree there are no easy solutions … and I have been a follower of Peak Oil for most of this century. But even setting aside the technical, practical, and economic issues surrounding EVs, where is the excess ‘renewable energy’ output that is going to be so significant that it can replace the energy provided by petrol and diesel for millions of vehicles?

    How many wind turbines and solar panels would it take to not only replicate current fossil-fuel power output, but to also double or triple in order to power millions of EVs? Green hydrogen is fairy-land, hydro has just about reached its practical limits in Australia, and nuclear is not supported by hardly anybody, and takes decades to bring online.

    I would like to see solutions as much as the next person – other than fossil fuels reaching very high prices, and rationing being necessary – but I do like to keep grounded about ‘solutions’ from politicians and boosters. I cringed badly when Chris Bowen (Minister for Energy, no less) said we can store water in dams so we can store electricity too.

  42. Cargill: – “I am far from a global-warming denier, but I do retain a strong streak of scepticism on just about every front.

    There’s always a but, and IMO you are attempting to pass off so-called “scepticism” with what is really denial of the overwhelming scientific evidence of human-induced climate change and the increasingly urgent existential threat it presents to humanity.

    Cargill: – “But my greatest concern is that the almighty RUSH to alleged ‘renewable energy’ will be very destructive to the Australian economy, and way of life.

    And IMO there’s another but, with an apparent denial of the urgent existential threat of the climate emergency. If we/humanity don’t get our act together IN A RUSH, then we won’t have any economy or civilisation in the coming decades. Clock’s ticking.

    Cargill: – “Plus I am very sceptical about ‘renewable energy’ anyway – a huge amount goes into the construction, installation, and maintenance of wind turbines, and they operate at less than 30% of their claimed output.

    It looks to me that these are your unsubstantiated opinions without any evidence/data. How much is “a huge amount”, Cargill? Can you put numbers to it and compare that with fossil fuel generation, or are you just ‘hand waving’ because you really don’t have a clue?

    The AEMO/CSIRO’s >i>GenCost 2022 (see my earlier comments above), and Lazard’s Levelized Cost of Energy Analysis, version 15.0 do quantify various energy technologies for comparison.
    https://www.lazard.com/perspective/levelized-cost-of-energy-levelized-cost-of-storage-and-levelized-cost-of-hydrogen/

    Data indicates wind was doing better than brown coal in Jun 2022, some with capacity factors better than 45%, and a few with more than 50%.
    https://reneweconomy.com.au/wind-generation-overtakes-brown-coal-in-june-in-month-of-new-records/

    Cargill: – “As I said – doing it too quickly is lunacy.

    It seems to me you still have no idea of the real climate & energy issues. Doing it too slowly will be fatal, and whatever path is taken now will inevitably be disruptive.

  43. Cargill “This is utter insanity.” Methinks Cargill, your skepticism borders on insanity. Further replies in sandpit.

    Cargill re KT2 “Oh dear … it’s always the same … if anyone dares bring some rational and technical questions to the table, the cultists are straight out with the ad-hominem attacks. It never varies.”. 

    Oh dear … it’s always the same … if anyone has agendas & priors so strong they put renewable energy in quotes, doesn’t read, and bring some rational and technical knowledge to the table, the trolls are straight out with the FUD & insanity attacks. It never varies.

    Normally followed by such “Please note carefully – I am far from a global-warming denier”. As in “The climate is changing”, as The National Party says?
    *

    Cargill “I cringed badly when Chris Bowen … said we can store water in dams so we can store electricity too.”

    Angus Taylor says Cargill, re “we can store water in dams so we can store electricity too” …

    “This complements our actions to deliver the 2000 MW Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro project, and our support of every major priority transmission project to deliver generation when and where it is needed.”

    https://www.minister.industry.gov.au/ministers/taylor/media-releases/statement-early-closure-loy-yang-and-bayswater-power-stations
    *

    Cargill “Plus I am very sceptical about ‘renewable energy’ anyway”

    Cargill “the almighty RUSH to alleged ‘renewable energy’”. Alleged  (in quotes) renewable energy! AGW is not an alleged crime.

    Cargill ” All these issues should be thoroughly discussed and assessed prior to closing coal and stopping gas. As I said – doing it too quickly is lunacy.”

    Geoff M replied ” There are already plans by the AEMO to change:https://wattclarity.com.au/articles/2022/06/aemo-releases-2022-integrated-system-plan-isp/

    “But I forget that you are “always sceptical of such appeals to vague and obscure authority”.  IMO, that’s ‘cherry-picking’ to suit your narrative and being wilfully ignorant.”

    KT2 Monday msg bd yesterday “KT2 says:
    July 11, 2022 at 4:31 pm
    “And STILL renewables come out cheaper. So says “CSIRO GenCost 2021-22 Final report July 2022″
    https://johnquiggin.com/2022/07/11/monday-message-board-562/comment-page-1/#comment-253871
    +
    “The National Transmission Network Development Plan (NTNDP) provides an independent, strategic view of the efficient development of the National Electricity Market (NEM) transmission grid over a 20-year planning horizon.
    ….
    https://aemo.com.au/en/energy-systems/major-publications/integrated-system-plan-isp/national-transmission-network-development-plan-ntndp
    *

    And J-D, +1 “too”.

  44. There’s always a but, and IMO you are attempting to pass off so-called “scepticism” with what is really denial of the overwhelming scientific evidence of human-induced climate change and the increasingly urgent existential threat it presents to humanity.

    Can you please give up on the ad-hominem attacks, and also give up assuming to know what I think or what I believe … because you will inevitably be wrong.

    I defend my position strongly – (1) that alleged renewables cannot replace baseload grid electricity easily – and possibly not at all, and (2) Australia is such a tiny player in the whole scheme of things that whatever we do makes no difference. A million wind turbines and solar panels will not do what fossil-fuel power stations now do. And the cost would be trillions.

    So rather than attack me, please explain how ‘renewable energy’ is going to be made to work, both short-term and long-term. Especially if a million EVs start having to be charged. I find current policy is driven by some sort of wondrous faith, rather than hard-nosed engineering. YMMV.

  45. Cargill says with scare quotes “please explain how ‘renewable energy’ is going to be made to work, both short-term and long-term.”

    I’ll take JQ’s wise counsel: “it’s important to avoid this temptation as much as possible.”…

    “Burden of proof”

    ” And this is where the burden of proof works so brilliantly. Renewable technologies are well established, with annual installations of 100 GW a year a more, and a record of steadily falling costs. But, according to our authors, they haven’t met the burden of proof, so we have to put tens of billions of dollars into technologies that are either purely conceptual (Gen IV nuclear) or hopelessly uneconomic on the basis of current experience (CCS and generation II/III nuclear).

    “To be fair, this use of the burden of proof, while more blatant than usual, is very common. One any policy issue, most of us would like to compare an idealised model of our preferred solution with the worst case scenario (or, at best, the messy and unsatisfactory reality) for the alternatives. But it’s important to avoid this temptation as much as possible.”

    https://johnquiggin.com/2017/04/10/burden-of-proof/

    Cargill, if I look backwards I think we have been over this before, and it may read backwards as derF.tL.

    Don’t engage with Cargill re Burden of Proof, or further here, as this is derailing the thread.
    https://johnquiggin.com/2022/06/06/sandpit-190/

  46. Cargill: – “I defend my position strongly – (1) that alleged renewables cannot replace baseload grid electricity easily…

    Defend your position with what – unsubstantiated opinions? Please provide compelling evidence/data to back-up your plethora of apparently ill-informed opinions, Cargill. Bring compelling evidence/data to the table of discussion.

    Who said it was going to be easy, Cargill? I’d suggest it will inevitably be disruptive. It will be painful for many, and costly. The alternative is civilisation collapse, which I’d suggest will be much, much worse, and much, much more costly. How do you put a price on civilisation collapse and the suffering/deaths of billions? Do you want to go there, Cargill?

    Cargill: – “…and possibly not at all…>

    Adopting that attitude means that it’s inevitable we/humanity fail to prevent civilisation collapse, and the consequences that entails for humanity (including perhaps for you and your family). Think about it. We might fail anyway with time already rapidly running out, but if we/humanity don’t try at all, then the existential outcomes become self-fulfilling.

    Cargill: – “…(2) Australia is such a tiny player in the whole scheme of things that whatever we do makes no difference.

    Nonsense. Per BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy 2022, in 2021, Australia was the world’s 4th largest coal producer, and 7th largest gas producer in absolute terms.
    Australia is the world’s largest metallurgical coal exporter, & second largest thermal coal exporter.
    Australia is the world’s largest LNG exporter.
    Australia is a major player in the whole scheme of things – what Australia does matters.

    Cargill: – “So rather than attack me, please explain how ‘renewable energy’ is going to be made to work, both short-term and long-term.

    It seems to me you haven’t bothered to look at any of the references in detail I’ve already provided in my previous comments in this thread, and instead apparently summarily dismissed them as “vague and obscure authority”. There are none so blind as those who will not see.

  47. Per BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy 2022, in 2021, Australia was the world’s 4th largest coal producer, and 7th largest gas producer in absolute terms. Australia is the world’s largest metallurgical coal exporter, & second largest thermal coal exporter. Australia is the world’s largest LNG exporter. Australia is a major player in the whole scheme of things – what Australia does matters.

    All very interesting, and in fact nothing I didn’t already know – but hardly relevant to the centre of this discussion. The centre is about how Australia produces and distributes its 24/7 reliable, dependable, affordable, grid-sustaining, baseload power. That is the economic and technical challenge.

    I happen to believe that the solutions offered – wind turbines, solar panels, pumped hydro, green hydrogen, big batteries, and whatever – are going come even close to replacing our current power generation in a reasonable timeframe and at reasonable cost. It becomes doubling challenging when the number of EVs requiring nightly charging becomes significant.

    And in fact you further reinforce the argument I am making. We export really huge amounts of coal and gas for others to burn, seemingly without ideological qualms, but we’re hell-bent on closing down our own power stations in order to meet some arbitrary targets, without feasible substitutes in place. It is irrational and absurd, and can’t be defended on either engineering or climate grounds.

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