Monday Message Board

Another Message Board

Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please.

I’ve moved my irregular email news from Mailchimp to Substack. You can read it here. You can also follow me on Twitter @JohnQuiggin

I’m also trying out Substack as a blogging platform. For the moment, I’ll post both at this blog and on Substack.

20 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. “Prince Charles, once dismissed as a plant-talking oddball, takes his environmental bona fides to COP26”

    By William Booth and Karla Adam
    November 1, 2021 

    “GLASGOW, Scotland — Britain’s future king, Prince Charles, told world leaders at the U.N. climate summit on Monday that they should seek solutions to global warming in nature.

    “After billions of years of evolution, nature is our best teacher,” the Prince of Wales said. “In this regard, restoring natural capital, accelerating nature-based solutions and leveraging the circular bio-economy will be vital to our efforts.”

    Let’s hope KC3 stays green, and doesn’t let the red, white & blue render ‘off’ green.

  2. This is important.
    More so than economics.
    “…Chileans are already taking to the streets again to demand their own constituent process – one in which there are no backroom negotiations, and the people themselves have the power to make binding decisions.”

    A cautionary tale for
    any plebiscite – Republic vote, The Voice, Constitution etc – and political communications.

    Every moral, political and financial hazard evident.

    – no donations above $x
    – extreme and proven communication effects before vote
    – at least 2 rounds of voting
    – severe and public penalties for promotion of actual lying – at least be vague not false
    – greater than 50+1
    – place your favourite suggested protection here

    “Chile’s Rejection”

    09 SEPTEMBER 2022

    “Support for Rechazo (‘Reject’) was strongest in low-income municipalities, where turnout was also higher than in upper-class neighbourhoods.

    “Such efforts were bolstered by the spread of disinformation on social media, as well as the distribution of fake copies of the draft constitution with doctored articles. In one illustrative episode, the far-right Convention representative Constanza Hube was caught giving out fake copies of the constitution during a Rechazo meeting.

    “Exit polls and vox pops revealed that many people were confused about what the plebiscite was actually about; some even thought that by voting to reject they were abolishing the Pinochet constitution. This is not surprising given that the only official information on the constitutional draft amounted to thirty minutes of television broadcasting a day, divided equally between Rechazo and Apruebo, over a 28-day period.”

  3. The whole question of the different merits of a constitutional monarch versus a republic seems to be one that needs urgent answers. Of course, simply becoming a republic will not solve all Australia’s political problems. Just look at the USA and its problems with Donald Trump’s refusal to adhere to the US Constitution. There is also the side matter of what sort of republic would replace Australia’s version of a proxy constitutional monarchy. Witnessing the oath taking that is going on to the new United Kingdom monarch, and under our Constitution now Australia’s monarch, you get a sense of unreality. Imagine if lawmakers in the USA, or in any republic for that matter, had to swear an oath of allegiance to their president. What farcical images that evokes. No one person can sit over and above all others, even if it is customary for monarchs to do so as a matter of custom and tradition.
    Then there is the cost of maintaining the monarchy, even if this is largely born by the parliament of Britain.
    “To begin with one of the criticisms against the monarchy is that it is incredibly expensive. It costs far too much for the royal family to live their lifestyle. Much but not all costs of the monarchy is met by the civil list. The civil list pays for the running of the royal household.”(Jones et al, 2006)
    “This includes the cost of staffs, catering and hospitality, executive admin and any ceremonial functions. Any other costs of the monarchy such as royal trips and the upkeep of royal castles are met by government departments through grants-in-aid from parliament.” (Rogers, 2009)
    Now for Australia this means that there must be a Governor-General’s residence (there are in fact two) with staffing and ceremonial event costs. There are also residences for six state Governors with their own staffing and events budgets. The argument here is why should the average taxpayer be paying out of their hard-earned money for the maintence of vice-regal accommodation and their lavish lifestyles?
    The vice-regal administration takes good money from the country which must be borne by the Australian taxpayers. Therefore, arguing that the vice-regal Constitution clauses should be removed makes sense since they are extremely expensive to maintain.
    Another argument against having vice-regal clauses in our Constitution is that even though the Governor-General is head of state he does not exercise any formal power himself, but most prerogative powers are exercised by prime ministers on behalf of the British crown. In making any vice-regal decisions, with or without the advice of the Australian Prime Minister, the Governor-General is not accountable to parliament for the executive decisions he made, sometimes in secret. We have, in fact, our own head of state who can sack the elected representatives of the people, who can make changes to parliamentary traditions and can ignore constitutional conventions. Oh yes and he is the head of the Australian armed forces.
    One third and final argument is that the monarchy to a large extent promotes social division.
    “The British monarchy represents a feudal society of medieval England in a modern democratic state.” (Bagdanor, 1997).
    Having a monarch breeds excessive deference and living in a modern society he is seen as being out of touch with the needs and aspirations of a multicultural society like Australia. This is especially true amongst the first nations peoples. When traditional land was renamed as crown land, it was being from first nations peoples. That this was allowed to continue under the reign of not one but ten British monarchs, must be the most telling reason for its abolition.
    It will be hard to find a republican model that is not as flawed as some currently causing distress. That should not stop Australia from moving to republican style governance. Any faults and flaws will then be of our own making and not been fostered upon us by an out-of-date monarchical attempt to recreate feudalism by stealth.

  4. Wundering how electricity prices will be handled in central Europe and how that will play out for my personal purse. One way or another most countries and the EU are moving towards caping the astronomic earnings of non natural gas producers. Got no good idea how much electricity is sold through long term contracts with more normal prices to grid operators in the first place. In contrast to natural gas suppliers which would be bankrupt otherwise anyway, eletricty providers are not allowed to increase prices ahead of the current contract. We still pay “only” arround 30 cent per kwh for example. That will not last for long. Plans seem to be to use the curbed prices for non natural gas electricty partially to asign a relativly cheap base consumption to everyone.

  5. A few thoughts on COVID-19 from around the Twitter ridges.

    “Covidtarianism – the belief that one’s care/responsibility for public health ends at the slightest hint of personal inconvenience.” – Prof Cynthia Doença (Parody account). [1]

    “The death rate (in Australia) from COVID-19 so far in 2022 is 24X more than in 2020 and 2021. It rose from 1,000 / year to 2,000 per month.” – Dr Karl (Kruszelnicki)

    Note 1 – “Doença” is Portuguese for illness or infection. “Cynthia” is an epithet of the Greek moon goddess Artemis, given because Cynthus was the mountain on Delos on which she and her twin brother Apollo were born. Given the association with the moon and Doença’s parodic claim to be an “infectologist” (promoting infection) we get the true meaning of the parodic name: “Professor Lunatic Infecter”. In turn, given the behavior and utterances of some real Doctors and Professors in Australia we could fairly easily name some of the lunatic infecters who have ensured we now see 2,000 deaths a month from COVID-19.

  6. Personal responsibility makes us functionally amnesic and able to separate fear & reward functions from altruism, xohesion & cooperation.

    Hence Ikon quoting ““The death rate (in Australia) from COVID-19 so far in 2022 is 24X more than in 2020 and 2021. It rose from 1,000 / year to 2,000 per month.” – Dr Karl (Kruszelnicki)

    A perfect market primer.

    If profitability / gdp / gni figures were linked it if course ahows we are doing “well” by personal responsible market capital based standards.

    Hence amnesia about preventable deaths, pandemic profits, pernicious pAtent patent privacy, and a separation of care from those who provided all of the above.

    A libertarian dream, a social nightmare, a policy and polity failure. And why eternal vigilance seems to required eternally.

  7. Just a reminder, COVID-19 is really bad and it simply is best to not get it at all if you can manage that. So I suggest people use multiple layers of controls.

    (1) Vaccinate and boost are far you can and are permitted for your age-group.
    (2) Wear an N95 mask or better in all public transport and shared indoor public and workplace spaces.
    (3) Avoid crowds and gatherings as much as possible as is conistent with necessary work and important personal and social requirements.

    COVID-19 is more dangerous than government, business and public discourse generally acknowledges. Here as some papers. One in this post. One in the next post.

  8. The second, older paper which the one in the post above illuminates.

    The titles of the papers illuminate some issues too;

    “SARS-CoV-2 infection causes immunodeficiency in recovered patients by downregulating CD19 expression in B cells via enhancing B-cell metabolism”

    “T cell perturbations persist for at least 6 months following hospitalization for COVID-19”

    An airborne virus which causes immunodeficiency. Just pause for a minute to consider how profoundly disturbing this is. Just pause and think, that’s all I ask.

  9. “It is hard to answer the question “Which is better, living with Covid or living with lockdown?”, because both will devastate our lives in different ways. At present, I can just say that such a hopeless situation is a nature of the Covid pandemic.” – Hiroshi Yasuda.

    Of course this accepts the false dichotomy of rampant spread or harsh lock-downs. These were not the only possibilities and I would argue even now they are not the only theoretical possibilities.

    However, given the way our political economy is structured and the way people currently think, they appear to have become the only practical possibilities. We will pay a very high price for this. Our society and economy will go backwards indefinitely. Expect decades of pandemic trouble and mentally add climate change disasters on top of that.

  10. Emmanuel Saez & Gabriel Zucman revised wealth. G Adani now 3rd richest.

    Via Article…
    “America’s billionaires are twice as rich as previously estimated

    “Due to the lack of administrative data on wealth and the complex holding structures and tax-planning strategies of the ultra-wealthy, one has to combine a variety of data sources, make assumptions, and be open to revising earlier approaches when new information emerges,” wrote Saez and Zucman. Instead, a more accurate picture of the share of the nation’s wealth held by the 0.1% sits at about 20%, they say.

    “Gautam Adani becomes the richest Asian ever
    “In global super wealth news: India’s Gautam Adani became the third richest person in the world this week, the first time an Asian has ever cracked the top three.

    “Top Wealth in America: A Reexamination

    Emmanuel Saez & Gabriel Zucman

    DOI 10.3386/w30396
    ISSUE DATE August 2022

  11. I wish I was as able as Erasmus & Keneally.

    Keneally solves the mystery and quotes John Shaw Strange’s …”But leaves the greater villain loose, Who steals the common from the goose!”

    Thomas Keneally said today, in an ecominium of sorts re “the nonstop public piety in operation”:
    “So the encomiums (fn^Folly) fall flat and stick to our earlobes like treacle. Because they are signs of a woman being disciplined by herself to a remarkable extent. Negative virtues are then elevated to the rhapsodies of positive, godlike, saintly probity.”

    “Though Elizabeth II outlasted and undid our republican impulses, it’s astonishing to see the nonstop public piety in operation

    “Nearly every convict sent to Australia was influenced by Spence at least through such rhymes as:

    – The law locks up the man or woman

    – Who steals the goose from off the common,

    – But leaves the greater villain loose

    – Who steals the common from the goose!

    “[John Shaw] Strange (fn^Strange) would be astonished that this late in history we still, and at such tiresome length, mutter our prayers for the so-called House of Windsor.


    “In Praise of Folly

    “Wisdom makes men weak and apprehensive, and consequently you’ll generality find the wise associated with poverty, hunger, and the reek of smoke, living neglected, inglorious, and disliked.

    “Fools, on the other hand, are rolling in money and are put in charge of affairs of state; they flourish, in short, in every way.”


    “John Shaw Strange worked as a personal messenger to the Commandant in Newcastle by 1821, and continued this position when he and his fellow conspirators were transported to Bathurst. He applied in 1822 to have his wife and children brought to Australia, unsuccessfully. By 1825 he was a constable under the Commandant, and was involved in numerous investigations and arrests of a multitude of criminals, including the Storey Bushranging Gang, for which he received praise by the Commandant.

    “In fact, Shaw Strange was granted a TOL earlier than any other conspirator by 1825 on the order of the Governor. Specified for Sydney, he applied in 1827 to change the district to Bathurst where he continued to work as a constable. On January 27th, 1829 he retired as a constable. That same year, in April he married a local woman by the name of Jane Bayliss, with who he had ten children between 1832 and 1857. In 1830 he took a seven-year lease on a government tannery in Bathurst, which proved to be a successful business.

    “Shaw Strange received a conditional pardon in 1832. His lease expired in 1837, but he sought to not renew it thanks to its important position in the rapidly expanding town. In the 30’s and 40’s, Shaw Strange bought multiple properties of land and applied for a publican’s license. He in fact leased the Mountaineers Inn at Emu Plains, but unfortunately this was not a successful business venture.

    “Afterwards, Shaw Strange tried his hand at farming in a settlement 30km Southeast of Bathurst called Fish Creek. It was there he died, surrounded by family on January 11th, 1868. He was the last surviving conspirator.”

    “The West End Job: Bicentenary of the Cato Street Conspiracy 1820-2020
    “The Cato Street Conspirators were arrested on February 23rd 1820 and executed on 1 May. This was for their part in the ‘West End Job,’ an attempt to assassinate the British Prime Minister and his cabinet.”

  12. Another argument against having vice-regal clauses in our Constitution is that even though the Governor-General is head of state … We have, in fact, our own head of state …

    What makes you think the Governor-General is head of state?

  13. The queue to see the Queen’s coffin now entails a slow 30 hour progress to get there. Some older or more fragile people may collapse and even die from this attempt. All that is missing is hair shirts and flagellant whips to mortify the flesh.

    Deep down some think they can placate “god” and get “him” to lift the plague (SARS2). Others want to “see history”. They will see a flag-draped box, people in costumes and other gawkers. Some are seeking a profound experience. Their mind might deceive them that they have had one.

    The claim that this is about “respect” is spurious. If we respected human lives we would not have maintained the enormously expensive inequalities of royal and other privilege, nor permitted for so long the social and economic destruction of neoliberalism, nor unleashed a spreading, mutating and now apparently unstoppable virus.

    The response to these contemporary stresses is regression to a near medieval mode of looking at the world. It is summed up by Great Britain’s continuing self-inflicted destruction, and Australia’s for that matter. Endless money for never-submarines and subsidizing pandemic spreading events to show faux respect. It’s mainly tourists gawking at a pageant.

    Bread and circuses. This is how the ignorant groundlings are fooled and ruled. Trouble is when the circuses get too expensive, the bread shortages begin.

  14. John Quiggin’s article in Inside Story as to why a land and sea invasion of Taiwan by China wouldn’t work is good as far as it goes. But it misses the point that this is not China’s preferred strategy. China does not want a full scale invasion as many Chinese on both sides would be killed. So they will try every means short of invasion of the Taiwanese mainland first – over the next 15 to 20 years. One of the first things I think they will do is to take over the Kinmen islands – which are a few kilometres off the Chinese mainland. They could give six months notice they were going to take over the islands. And dare anyone to take them to an International Court if another country considered such an act was illegal. And they would have an excellent case in international law as the Japanese only occupied the Kinmen islands from 1937 to 1945 in an act of war. The 6 months notice would give anyone on the Kinmen Islands who didn’t want to be part of China the chance to move to the Taiwanese mainland.
    Then after 6 months China would put a blockade on anyone entering the island from Taiwan, and would move in. It is unlikely the Taiwan or the USA or other countries would be willing to use troops to defend the islands. (And of course ships and planes are pretty useless in such a situation). The Chinese would then proceed to treat the Kinmen Islanders very well as part of their attempts to convince the Taiwanese that they would do OK as part of China.
    I predict China will move on the Kinmen Islands in the next 5 years – which will give a great propaganda victory to President Xi Jinping.
    And from there they will gradually build their strategy to take over Taiwan using non-invasion methods over the following 10 to 15 years.

  15. Stage 3 Tax Cut -JQ said last week “Labor wants to dump the cuts but needs to be seen to be pushed.” (^JQ.2).

    The Hon Dr Andrew Leigh MP says:
    “But you also need to keep your promises.” (^AL)

    Ernestine suggests a compromise. (^EG-compromise)

    Poli-ticking, Stage 3 Tax Cuts, Andrew Leigh and Labor “only went along with them because they were wedged by the way Morrison set the agenda'” (^JQ.2), and…”The End of Poverty” (^1.JQ)

    The Hon Dr Andrew Leigh MP
    8 September 2022

    “Interview with Adam Shirley, ABC Radio Canberra

    “Subjects: New funding for the ABS to measure barriers to employment participation, use of data in policy making, stage 3 tax cuts

    “… Does that make the case for considering those tax cuts and removing them stronger?

    “Adam you need to be evidence‑based in developing policies. But you also need to keep your promises. One of the real reasons that people were so fed up with politics over the last nine years was the sense that we had governments that just didn’t keep their promises.”…

    ^1.JQ on…
    “The End of Poverty”

    “Even more striking is Sachs’ observation that the United States could finance its own contribution simply by repealing tax cuts recently granted to taxpayers with incomes in excess of $US 500 000 per year.

    “Ours is the first generation in which most people in the world are not poor. We can be, if we choose, the first in which no-one lives in extreme poverty. Sachs makes a compelling case for action. It remains to be seen whether governments, and the voters who elect them, will listen.”

    AUGUST 15, 2005

    #1 Comment by:
    “Andrew Leigh says:
    August 15, 2005 at 4:33 pm

    “John, incisive stuff as always. My only thought would be to spend a bit more time at the end talking about what kinds of aid might work best (I found Easterley’s “The Elusive Quest for Growth” better than Sachs’ book on this point). Also, I’ve never before heard your explanation for the BJP’s defeat, but perhaps it’s commonly accepted.”

    “Scrapping Stage 3 tax cuts is essential, but won’t be an easy ride

    By John Quiggin | 6 September 2022,

    “As long as the tax cuts stay on the agenda, Labor will be unable to deliver any significant benefits to its supporters. JobKeeperwill stay below the poverty line, front-line health workers and others will suffer real wage cuts and crucial social needs will go unmet.

    “The tax cuts were always a bad idea, but the economic crisis that has arisen from inflation, slow wage growth and shocks to energy markets have made the situation far worse. Labor should use its first budget in October as the basis for reorienting fiscal policy away from a handful of high-income earners and towards the needs of the great majority of Australians.”,16739

    Ernestine Gross says:
    September 8, 2022 at 10:23 pm

    “Stage 3 tax cuts.
    “I agree with those who argue for repealing the stage 3 tax cuts laws. JQ, you expect a modified scheme would pass in both chambers. What do you have in mind?

    “IMHO, something like keeping the marginal tax rate reduction for those on incomes between $90,000 and $110,000 could be a reasonable compromise.

  16. Recession:
    of Human Development.

    Reliefweb: “For the first time in the 32 years that UNDP have been calculating it, the Human Development Index, which measures a nation’s health, education, and standard of living, has declined globally for two years in a row. Human development has fallen back to its 2016 levels, reversing much of the progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.

    “The reversal is nearly universal as over 90 percent of countries registered a decline in their HDI score in either 2020 or 2021 and more than 40 percent declined in both years, signaling that the crisis is still deepening for many.

    Human Development Report, “Uncertain Times, Unsettled Lives: Shaping our Future in a Transforming World”

  17. Very interesting short transcript featuring Paul W. Ewald, an evolutionary biologist. The thrust of it clearly supports the importance of NPIs as well as vaccines for COVID-19 control (or for control of any other serious infectious disease).

    Even if we have given up on elimination or eradication, we should support NPIs in addition to vaccines to “assist” the virus to evolve to possible mildness. With NPIs added in this is MORE likely to happen. The last bastion of human refusal of NPIs should fall to this logic, one would think. This would be the case if they were motivated by enlightened self-interest and/or some level of altruism.

  18. What do I understand – please inform me – from the RBA losing $30 to $59 Bn on bonds now being sold as junk (?) in the bond market please.

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