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 Mastodon here

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

28 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. My wife saw a segment on TV about Valerie Taylor. Now 87, Valerie is still snorkeling and working at conservation. On a trip to Indonesia, she noted that during the COVID-19 shutdown, the Indonesian fishermen and patrols were less on the water. I don’t know the specific location. The Chinese fishing fleets turned up and stripped the area of its fish. The Chinese are not the only predatory fishers in the world but they are the worst. This is their standard modus operandi now.

    China and more especially S.E. Asia are heavily dependent on fish for protein. When the oceans are stripped of fish and when that plus climate change produces ocean death, up to 2 billion people in Asia alone will be starved for protein. This is one of the many disasters we humans are walking into by recklessly and selfishly destroying the environment instead of doing things sustainably.

  2. Saw the US Federal Reserve Chairperson try to justify the repeated rises in official interest rates despite it increasing unemployment in the US economy. It seemed that he was saying that 2 million unemployed was necessary to get inflation back to the target range of two percent. See the report on this at
    or just google.
    “Fed Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell faces Senate committee questions about inflation”.
    Story by Samantha Manning • Wednesday
    Jerome Powell is quoted as saying the following:
    “My colleagues and I are acutely aware that high inflation is causing significant hardship,” said Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell in his opening remarks. “The process of getting inflation back down to two percent has a long way to go and is likely to be bumpy.”
    “I would explain to people more broadly that inflation is extremely high and it’s hurting the working people of this country badly,” said Powell. “And we are taking the only measures we have to bring inflation down.”
    Now that last part is not true. The US Fed Reserve can lower inflation by using other measures. It’s just that the official interest rate measure is the “sharpest” of all its blunt instruments of monetary policy.
    He actually lets this slip out in answer to another question, when he says
    “Senator, not for us to point fingers,” said Powell. “Our job is to use our tools. You asked whether we have the tools to get this job done, and we do.”
    Notice he said “tools” not instrument or measure.
    Then came the buck passing in his answer to yet another question. Powell is reported to have said
    “These are really matters between the executive branch and Congress. We do not seek to play a role in these policy issues,” said Powell. “But at the end of the day, there’s only one solution to that… Congress really needs to raise the debt ceiling. That’s the only way out in a timely way that allows us to pay all our bills as due and if we fail to do so, I think that the consequences are hard to estimate but they could be extraordinarily adverse and can do longstanding harm.”

    Again, he shows his hand at the end. There he indicated that his main concern is “longstanding harm”. This may explain his focus on the long run control of inflation and his dismissal of short run collateral damage.

    To ignore short run consequences of any macroeconomic policy measure seems to be at best reckless and at worse contemptuous.

  3. Neoliberal economics consists in the government only using instruments which benefit oligarchs and corporations, that is to say big business. It is always too costly to help the people but it is never too costly to help big business. Money printing, quantitative easing, financial rescue packages, subsidies and tax breaks are always available to help the rich. Only a trickle is available for the poor, excluded and vulnerable.

    It is time for people to stop voting for the political duopoly (Rep / Dems, LNP /ALP) which favors big business over people and environment. Otherwise in the long run we are all dead, even as a species. It’s as simple as that.

    The Australian Govt can find $368 billion over three decades for nuclear powered subs (and other conventional ones?). That’s the current plan anyway to protect us from the Chinese. COVID-19 is far more likely to kill my wife (medical preconditions), my daughter (immune-suppressed), me (age ), maybe son (vulnerability unknown) and our fellow vulnerable Australians than the Chinese are at this time. Yet, the spending on COVID-19 control or elimination is derisory. There are leaky vaccines which only protect partially for about 4 months and which are parsimoniously held back to longer intervals. There is no serious attempt any more at TTIMFQ (test, trace, isolate, mask, filter, quarantine). Data collection and publication are also derisory. Data is being suppressed or not collected at all.

    It’s contradictory to defend “the nation” while not defending the people. What are we defending if the people are to be allowed to die, sicken or contract long Covid at astonishing rates? We need some balance. Currently, the spending plans are all for war and next to nothing for public health and welfare. I mean in relation to real need in each case.

    We must throw the pro-war, pro-oligarch duopolies out of government. Defences in modern warfare for an island or island continent can be largely land based hidden and/or hardened missile sites. (Hat tip to J.Q. for promoting this understanding.) Mobile land forces defend this network. Who is going to land a conventional army on the Australian continent with the US as our allies? Nobody has a chance.

    Okay, then we have to spend to satisfy allies and satisfy their demand to contain China. That’s Realpolitik. We have to dance to the World Sheriff’s tune to an extent. It’s unavoidable. The trick is to do it with the least forward projection spend possible and that includes omitting nuclear powered subs which are really force projection in the current environment. Much more silent conventional subs like the Swedes and Germans have (IIRC) are suitable for this task and we could save on destroyers and frigates. (Hat tip to J.Q. for promoting this understanding.)

    We need more rational policies suited to meet our real dangers. Someday one day, maybe, if we just throw out the corporatist / oligarchic parties.

  4. The Buddha says, “To be born human is as unlikely as if you threw a hoop in the middle of the ocean and a dolphin immediately surfaced through the hoop.” Might not be true if you threw a hoop where a dolphin super-pod is running after sardines.

    But in terms of scientific cosmology alone, what has and is happening on this planet has been passing rare. My guess? There would not even be an average of one intelligent life supporting planet being extant in any one galaxy at any one time. Still, that would mean quite a lot, in absolute numbers, in the universe. There are about two trillion galaxies in the universe, scientists think. And galaxies may have a range of something like 100 billion to 100 trillion stars.

    Intelligent civilizations which do arise would never either be existent at the same time and/or be close enough to ever find / contact each other. Now if I accepted intelligent design I would say that’s intelligent. Keep those lunatic intelligent species well apart. Nothing good would ever come from contact. 😉

  5. I’ve been discussing material footprints with Iko. Latest, from a submission by multiple NGOs to the European Commission on green industrial policy, my emphasis:
    “In particular, to avoid a race for material resources, Europe should find ways to reduce its material footprint by significantly rolling out demand-side management measures to reduce demand: ecodesign and circularity, energy efficiency, strengthening the sustainability of products, and supporting targeted innovative practices and techniques to achieve the Green Deal objectives.”

    Nice. Cutting the material footprint has moved in just a few years from the hobby-horse of a few cranks like me to standard progressive boilerplate. A few years more, and it will be standard CW boilerplate, in G20 communiqués, Davos powerpoint decks and the like. Who knows, after that we might even see some action!

  6. Who said the US government could not move fast? Literally over the weekend, it made a big shift in banking regulation. It used to be that bank deposits were insured up to a bit over $100,000, fatter cats were on their own. As of yesterday, all deposits are guaranteed from now on. I have no idea whether this is on balance wise. SVB’s influential and strategic depositor base – Californian tech startups – made it politically a no-brainer.

  7. I thought the limit was previously 250K, but I could be wrong. (I don’t get near that limit … )

    That is lovely news about the little town going solar! Also that footprint business. Oooh, that reminds me to complain to Consumer Reports about the microwave cr*pping out in less than 2 years. “Reliable?” I think not.

  8. N: You are right, it was $250k per individual and per bank. My bad. But my point holds.

    The limit is also “per ownership category”, so a depositor with $250k in an individual checking account, another $250k in a joint account with a spouse, and a third $250k in an IRA, would apparently get all three back. and scroll down to the table “FDIC Deposit Insurance Coverage Limits by Account Ownership Category “.

  9. Some people sure have a lot of money. Imagine having so much that you forget where you left it! So to speak. Ah well.

  10. N: $250k is plenty for a multibillionaire to keep in a no-interest checking account. If he wants to buy a superyacht or a small country, time enough to cash in some T-bills. But SVB’s base is small tech companies. One with 30 or so employees could easily have a monthly payroll more than the cutoff. Checking accounts are more or less identical, so it only takes a very small default risk to justify a switch to another bank. All the CFOs work online, so the transaction costs for a change are tiny. Twitter just speeds up the rumour – panic mechanism, well understood since about 1830. Tobin had the right idea: throw sand in the wheels to raise transaction costs and limit speculation.

    By conventional standards of banking prudence, neither SVB nor Credit Suisse should be at risk. They are losing money, but that’s just business. The panics were just that. Or should we be looking at conspiracy as well as cockup? Peter Thiel was one of those who quit SVB. He is not only very rich but a noxious libertarian nutter. Triggering or amplifying a classic bank run reinforces the libertarian case for cryptocurrencies instead of fractional reserve banking, ignoring the latter’s significant benefits (reliable and efficient payments mechanisms, access to cheap working capital). Perhaps he or someone likeminded shorted the stock of either bank in a classic bear attack.

  11. James, agreed that “He is not only very rich but a noxious libertarian nutter.”, and has his fingers on every pulse , leading him to provide the pile of sand which the nervous threw into gears at a rate of $42Bn in withdrawls A DAY!

    $42Bn – A DAY! Founders Fund –  Thiel et al – could have shored SVB up IN A DAY and owned a bank. Too unprofitable for him and just a service for his ventures.

    Founders Fund has many such extreme wealth investors. Banking is not their business model. Turnover of capital / assets / IP is.

    “Key people
    Peter Thiel
    Ken Howery
    Luke Nosek
    Brian Singerman
    Cyan Banister
    Lauren Gross
    Scott Nolan
    Keith Rabois

    “AUM – US$11 billion (2022)

    “SVB collapse: Peter Thiel’s role scrutinized as spark of bank run

    by Christopher Hutton,
    March 13, 2023 01:01 PM

    “Journalists and critics have turned their focus on Thiel in the wake of SVB’s collapse, accusing him of influencing businesses to withdraw their funding from the bank. His efforts are thought to be the first that eventually sparked the bank run, leading to California regulators intervening.

    “To be clear, SVB did not properly hedge its risks against two threats, 1) concentration of influence by Peter Thiel, 2) rising interest rates,” tweeted investigative journalist Dave Troy. “That was mismanagement, but it still wasn’t fraud, and they still have sufficient assets to meet nearly all of the bank’s obligations.”

    “Thiel’s venture capital firm Founders Fund had pulled all of its funding from SVB as of Thursday morning, according to Bloomberg. The company also advised its portfolio companies to withdraw their money from the bank, saying there was no downside to moving their money out of the bank. The timing has led some to conclude that the investor’s actions may have led to mass withdrawals.

    “Founders Fund also hosted a capital call on Thursday, which venture capital firms do to ask investors to send them money to make investment startups. Founders Fund asked portfolio companies to begin moving funding to SVB. When Founders realized that technical problems were delaying the transfer, they implored investors to transfer money to other banks.

    “SVB, which was the 16th largest federally insured bank, was closed by regulators in the state Friday after attempts to raise capital failed. The bank failure is one of the largest since 2008. The bank scared investors earlier in the week when it announced that it sold off treasuries at a loss, causing a run on the bank. SVB customers withdrew $42 billion a day after the bank began falling underwater. The company quickly responded by selling $21 billion in bonds.

    Here is Y Combinator – the venture capitalist’s hang out and blog Hacker News, with every position possible in comments for those interested. Peter Thiel “served as a part-time partner at Y Combinator from 2015 to 2017”.

    I just picked 2 of >200 with –  of course – obligatory not his fault, it is just unsolveable human nature. Wrong! Most are in the dark, fed bullshit and are struggling to feed daily life necessities.

    “Hacker News
    “SVB collapse: Peter Thiel’s role scrutinized as spark of bank run

    “SVB collapse: Peter Thiel’s role scrutinized as spark of bank run (

    lg 2 days ago | root | parent | next [–]
    “There needed to be an adult in the room to coordinate a response that wasn’t just everyone panicking. Thiel didn’t necessarily need to be that adult himself, but his panicking eliminated the opportunity for anyone else to be that adult. The problem was fundamentally that everyone acted in their own best interest instead of coordinating a response that would have been in everyone’s best interest.”


    twblalock 2 days ago | root | parent | next [–]
    “> The problem was fundamentally that everyone acted in their own best interest instead of coordinating a response that would have been in everyone’s best interest.

    “Yes, this is a well-known and unsolvable problem of human societies.”

    The Dolphin heard Thiel from interstellar space. Thiel’s shockwaves reverberate that far, lending weight worse luck to JQ’s statememt “Inequality is growing and it is increasingly being locked in over generations.” in “Dominic Perrottet’s future fund”.

    Thiel – Fink = we own you and the technology you rely on, locking in inequality from here to alpha centauri.

    And so we just get back to humans and society. If somehow we could coordinate to get 30% of humans to say No! to predatory capital, we’d be on track to solve the polycrisis and inequality. 

  12. “Just say “No!” to predatory capital.” I like it for a grim laugh. It has such a Nancy Reagan ring to it. In reality, the average citizen (unless acting in solidarity and unity) has very little say on where and how the big money is spent and the big decisions are made in our society. These decisions are made by government and corporations: big government and big business. We used to have a triumvirate of big government, big business and big unions which sort of worked. Now we have duumvirate which we can pronounce “dumbvirate” to be facetious.

    When money buys government as happens now, then corporations and big business are really running our society. This is what we have today. Political donation monies buy friends office and friends in office: buying the compliance of politicians to the agendas of dominant capital, namely ever-rising wealth accumulation. Hence we see agendas contributing to ever-rising inequality.

    We can never solve our social and ecological crises under this system of capitalism (neoliberal corporate capitalism). This system is creating and exacerbating these crises. Whether we can solve these crises under another system of capitalism or something else is unknown. But it is clear empirically, to a high degree of probability, that we cannot solve it under this current system. The conditions of the people and the environment are continually worsening under this system.

  13. Ikon: “These decisions are made by government and corporations: big government and big business.”.

    Brad DeLong has your back.

    “Then chaos monkey Peter Thiel showed up:”:.. after …
    “What Dan does not mention is §401 of the 2018 Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act:

    “”§165 of the Financial Stabiity Act of 2010… is amended… in the matter preceding paragragph (A), by striking “$50,000,000,000” and inserting “$250,000,000,000”…

    “supported by 50 Republican and 17 Democratic Senators (and by 225 Republican and 33 Democratic House members), and signed into law by President Trump.

    “Saturday Night Thoughts on the Need for a Lender of Last ResortIs Silicon Valley Bank systemically essential? No. Is it systemically important? Yes, in that a failure of the U.S. government to act as a lender of last resort is likely to cause other banks to…

    Brad DeLong

    “Then chaos monkey Peter Thiel showed up: advising companies to pull their money out of SVB.

  14. Brad says that insuring all deposits at commercial banks, the new de facto emergency policy, is the right thing to do long-term as well. Good enough for me.

    Any data linking Thiel and friends – sorry, acquaintances, people like that don’t have friends – to the Credit Suisse sequel?

  15. What is the risk of getting ‘Long-COVID’? Here’s a graph of the 1%, 5%, 10%, 20%, 30% & 50% risk curves for the cumulative probability of getting ‘Long-COVID’ versus the number of times being infected with SARS-CoV-2.

    Per the graph, the CDC estimate suggests there’s a 20% risk of getting ‘Long-COVID’ for each infection, meaning by the 5th infection there’s about a 65% probability of getting ‘Long-COVID’.

    If the risk is 10% (the Nature paper Long COVID major findings, mechanisms and recommendations suggests 10-12% of vaccinated cases), then by your 7th infection the probability of having ‘Long-COVID’ exceeds 50%.


  16. Below is a graph, over time, of the number of COVID-19 patients in hospital in Canada. (Hope this link works.) It has a number of interesting points. You will note the large, early pandemic waves, each getting larger until the Omicron BA.1 wave. Then there is a change in character in the graph. The trend then goes sideways with the oscillations damping off. However, the damped level, if we can call it that, is above all pre-Omicron peaks. That is to say it presents a very high level of continuous hospitalizations.

    The trend line drawn in illustrates the rise in the trough heights. This is significant but it doesn’t look like the rise in trough height can or will continue. Nevertheless, this new higher trough level can be likened to a rise in sea level in a sense. If you no longer get tsunamis but the sea level is a lot higher then you are still in a lot of trouble (to use this analogy).

    Those familiar with these kind of graphs will understand that is the “area under the curve” or the area under the squiggly line that counts total cases and thus total hospital and disease burden. If we end up with a high base line of endemic infection, which was the true likely end goal of the let-it-rip covidiots, whether they understood it or not, then this new, large and chronic disease burden will continue to assail our society indefinitely. There is little to no reason to expect any improvement under current policies.

    There are a number of reasons to expect this situation to take further turns for the worse with any or all of the emergence of a super variant or the continuous increase in persons suffering from long covid, suffering immediate or delayed death with COVID-19 as main or contributing cause and from seeing a rise in other infections from the immune system damage and physiological damage caused by COVID-19. With the continuous COVID-19 “endemic pandemic” we face the collapse of public health and the continuous reduction of national and global life expectancy until some new, much lower base level is reached.

    I predict this situation will get far worse yet. The disease burden will become immense and our society faces economic and social collapse from the combined burdens of unprevented / unameliorated climate change and unprevented / unameliorated disease. We are in an existential crisis and hardly anyone gets it yet. One wonders how obvious it has to become before the penny drops.

  17. Timothy Snyder gave evidence to a session of the UN Security Council recently called by Russia to condemn “russophobia”. His superb intervention and reply to a question from the representative of Russia is here: . The ambassador must have felt he was being fed into a woodchipper.

  18. Which occupations have the largest incidences of COVID-19 infections?
    See the graph of COVID case rates by ANZSCO L3 occupational group in the tweet below, apparently obtained by FOI:

    Top-10 riskiest occupations for acquiring SARS-CoV-2 infections are apparently:
    #1 School Teachers
    #2 Child Carers
    #3 Hospitality Workers
    #4 Checkout Operators & Office Cashiers
    #5 Education, Health & Welfare Services Managers
    #6 Education Aides
    #7 Defence Force Members, Fire Fighters & Police
    #8 Sports & Fitness Workers
    #9 Food Process Workers
    #10 Hairdressers

  19. hix says: “Did someone mention Peter Thiel?”

    “A Palantir Co-Founder Is Pushing Laws to Criminalize Homeless Encampments Nationwide

    “Model legislation banning unsanctioned encampments and restricting funding to permanent housing has found traction in multiple states.

    “Cicero was founded by Joe Lonsdale, a co-founder of Palantir, the surveillance tech company whose data analysis software is used by the Department of Defense, ICE, and several big city police departments. Lonsdale is also head of the venture capital firm 8VC, which has invested in dozens of companies, including Palantir, Hims, Oculus and The Boring Company. 8VC’s motto is “The world is broken, let’s fix it,” and Lonsdale has shared his thoughts on how he would fix the world in the past, including his idea to movepeople into private prisons and then use  market-based incentives to reduce recidivism. ”

    Manhattan Institute
    “The institute supports the broken windows theory, named after a 1982 Atlantic Monthlyarticle “Broken Windows” by James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling.

    Joe Lonsdale
    “Then there’s the tax rate. California has the highest income tax in the country — 13.3% for top earners — while Texas is one of seven states with no income tax.

    “I could either put that money toward things that are fixing the world or give it to the California state government,” said Lonsdale, who became a venture capitalist in 2011 and started 8VC four years later.

    “Close to Musk and Dell
    “In Austin, Lonsdale will be joining what’s already one of the hottest start-up markets in the U.S. Outside of the Bay Area, only New York, Boston and Seattle attracted more venture dollars last year, according to Crunchbase. Lonsdale said that within his portfolio, six companies hired more than 500 people there in the last three years. Over the past decade, it was the fifth fastest-growing city in the country.

    “There’s a lot of additional activity there, too. Tesla CEO Elon Musksaid in July that the carmaker is building its new Gigafactory near Austin. Lonsdale is an investor in one of Musk’s other ventures, Boring Company, which has plans to build tunnels for high-speed underground transportation.

    “Lonsdale said he had Musk over at his house last week, along with Michael Dell, who started his computer company in Austin 36 years ago and is “very welcoming to entrepreneurs,” he said.

    Cabal comes to mind. The Dolphins hear “Thiel” across intergalactic space & time and so return with warnings – which will go unheeded.

  20. Where do the homeless go if the authorities criminalize homelessness? Prisons or poor houses? That’s taking social policy back 150 years. Remember, poor houses were only for the “deserving poor”. The prisons or death from neglect were for the “undeserving”.

    The only solution is proper funding of health, welfare and social housing. The $400 billion we are going to waste on soon-to-be obsolete nuclear powered subs could have gone a long way to solving homelessness in Australia. Albanese is the greatest betrayer of Labor or worker / unemployed / indigent / minority and indigenous assistance values and policies that this country has ever seen. He’s the arch-betrayer of all good social and scientific values. Zero effective action on climate change. Zero effective action on COVID-19. Zero effective action on poverty and inequality. Zero effective action on housing. Zero effective action on progressive tax reform. That’s Albanese and his government. A bunch of zeroes.

  21. ““I could either put that money toward things that are fixing the world or give it to the California state government,” said Lonsdale”

    How utterly unsurprising; how often can any business person give credit for things taxes pay for and governments do? Things that are very good for businesses, directly, like infrastructure they use and indirectly like statewide planning, orderly markets, law and order. Even healthcare, education and welfare make for more capable, healthier employees and a more civil society to the benefit of commercial enterprises.

  22. Ken Fabian,

    I agree. We have reached the point where the rich should be utterly disregarded.

  23. Environmental collapse in and around Australia continues;

    * The devastating floods in NZ.
    * Myrtle rust attacks Lord Howe Island. Its national parks are closed.
    * National Parks in the northern half of W.A. closed for 2023 after massive flood damage.
    * Menindee Lakes mass fish kill worst ever seen. Dead fish blanket river.

    Meanwhile the unstoppable SARS2 pandemic continues on its path of infecting nearly the whole human race. If it doesn’t kill now it disables later as Long Covid incidence increases continually with organ system damage and immune dysregulation accruing from repeated infections. The human race will be decimated. Premature mortality globally will easily reach the technical point of decimation, 800 million, over time. This is the scale of disaster I predict on that front.

    Prepare for a future of rolling shortages in anything and everything. Global production of real stuff will be in decline from now on. There is no way a collapsing environment and a diseased and collapsing population can keep up the production. Environment health collapse and human health collapse will lead population collapse. The globalized system will collapse into regional attempted autarkies as regions place their own survival first. As to wars and conflicts, those great diversionary actions, they will multiply.

    This is the age of consequences.

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