December 25, 2011


ABC Radio National

Coal is King

Malcolm Turnbull (1954):
As the world's largest coal exporter we have a vested interest in showing that we can provide both lower emissions and reliable baseload power with state-of-the-art clean coal technology.
(National Press Club, 2016)

Tony Wood [Director, Energy Program, Grattan Institute]:
What are we talking about here, in terms of this what appears to be a contradiction in terms: clean coal?
The Prime Minister [is] in some ways is flying a kite, [since] no one's [knows] what he's actually going to do next. …
[If] you are looking to [invest in] coal fired power stations, with low emissions (because the technology does exist) …
What technology?
Tony Wood:
… you're not going to do that without … significant subsidies from government, which we do have but only so far for wind and solar …
Apart from the $9 billion a year in direct and indirect subsidies to the fossil fuel industry via energy and transport.
Tony Wood:
More gas, which is also quite expensive in Australia …
Unless gas is quarantined for electricity generation (as opposed to being exported) as currently occurs in Western Australia.
Tony Wood:
What we do have is a vacuum of [state and] federal climate change policy … you can't specifically blame anybody for that except perhaps government generally …
A failure of government or a failure of governance?
  • Leaders advocating the repeal of the carbon price and dismantling of the clean energy infrastructure, and
  • enough people willing to follow them.

Grattan Institute:
[We] cannot rely [on] switching to gas-fired electricity to achieve all our emissions reductions.
[The carbon intensity of coal-fired power stations is between 0.8 and 1.2 tonnes of CO2 for every megawatt-hour of electricity produced.]
Conventional gas-fired power plants can achieve … about 0.4 tonnes of CO2 emitted per megawatt-hour. Australia must achieve a carbon intensity of 0.2 tonnes of CO2 per megawatt-hour or lower if it is to meet its targets.
(p 4)

A range of technologies available today can generate electricity at or below 0.2 tonnes of CO2 per megawatt-hour and have significant scale-up potential (excepting hydro, for which little expansion is feasible in Australia). …
[The] most important task will be to further refine the underlying power technologies such as wind turbine blades, photovoltaic cells and fuel combustion.
(No easy choices: which way to Australia’s energy future?, February 2012, p 6)

Supercritical steam technology is applicable to combined cycle gas turbines and solar thermal as well as coal.
This suggests that while supercritical coal may be "cleaner" than conventional coal it is just as "dirty" in comparison with supercritical gas or solar.
Therefore, from a mitigation viewpoint, if you were choosing between conventional coal and supercritical coal you would go for supercritical coal.
If you're choosing between supercritical coal, gas or solar; gas or solar would still be superior.

Using (ultra) supercritical coal fired power plants with thermal efficiencies of 45% (conventional coal being 33%) instead of combined cycle gas turbines with thermal efficiencies of 60% means additional carbon savings would need to be found in other sectors.
Which sectors and at what cost?
And what is the market mechanism for delivering emissions reductions at least cost across the economy?
A carbon price.

Of the 22 demonstration [clean coal] projects funded by the US Department of Energy since 2003, none are in operation as of February 2017, having been abandoned or delayed due to capital budget overruns or discontinued because of excessive operating expenses.
(Coal pollution mitigation, 19 February 2017)

In most scenarios for stabilization of atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations between 450 and 750 ppmv CO2 and in a least-cost portfolio of mitigation options, the economic potential of CCS would amount to 220-2,200 GtCO2 (60–600 GtC) cumulatively, which would mean that CCS contributes 15–55% to the cumulative mitigation effort worldwide until 2100, averaged over a range of baseline scenarios. …
For CCS to achieve such an economic potential, several hundreds to thousands of CO2 capture systems would need to be installed over the coming century, each capturing some 1–5 MtCO2 per year.
(Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage, IPCC Special Report, Summary for Policymakers approved at Eighth Session of IPCC Working Group III, 22-24 September, 2005, p 12, emphasis added)
Where are they?

Grattan Institute:
Gas can play a important bridging role, but in the longer-term Australia will need to either
  • retrofit existing coal and gas plants with Carbon Capture and Storage technology or
  • replace them with low-or zero-carbon technologies. …
(No easy choices: which way to Australia’s energy future?, p 5, emphasis added)
If carbon capture and storage does become available, replacing coal fired with bioenergy power plants (BECSS) rather than refitting coal plants with CCS would be the optimal strategy — since BECSS actually draws down atmospheric carbon.

(The Role of Coal, 13 February 2017)

Trickle Up Economics

Amanda Vanstone (1952)

When governments get out of the way, things in the economy can get going.
Perhaps we should be saying to our governments:
We don't want you to spend more. …
What we want you to do is undo some of your regulation.
Get out of the way and let the business people get on with it and make a buck.
And create jobs, and wealth and income.
(Counterpoint, 10 October 2016)

I am in the category of people who say:
Why do we keep regulating and passing laws?
We've had a law against murder for a long time and it hasn't worked!
There's a lot of people [who] put a lot of faith in regulation without realizing [that we then have to] pay a lot of public servants … to implement [it.]

(Counterpoint, 13 June 2016)

Climate change! [exasperated]
You're so ABC, Fran … [laughs]

(The Party Room, 26 May 2016)

It is primarily the Coalition that says we have to the deficit and public debt under control. …
[While Labor] sees itself as owning the concept of fair shares.
[This] makes it very easy, whenever you want to bring a budget back into some sort of control and make any cuts, to say:
Lower income people shouldn't have to pay anything for this — even though they may have been the beneficiaries of the spending which in large part has contributed to the deficit.
(Counterpoint, 16 May 2016)

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Green Army: Communications

The Final Frontier

Space … is big.
Really big.

Douglas Adams (1952 – 2001), The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Chapter 8, 1979 emphasis added.

(Emer Reynolds, The Farthest, 2017)

(Back To The Moon, Episode 15, 2018)

(Gravitational Waves, Catalyst, ABC Television, 29 March 2016)

Brendan O'Neill [Editor, Spiked Online]:
[Trolling] is a free speech issue.
[What] we have is a situation where people are being prevented from saying certain things — often … just insults or abuse.
In my mind that falls under the category of freedom speech.
And if you're not free to hate someone, then you're not free. …
[I get abused] all the time.
If you put yourself out there, if you express and opinion, if you say what you think — you will get abuse.
But … that's the price you pay for living in free society …
My concern … is that everything gets conflated.
So you have a situation in which trolling can be everything from someone issuing a death threat — which is obviously a serious thing to do — to someone writing an article saying:
I don't think climate change is not the biggest problem facing humanity.
If we are serious about freedom of speech then we have to allow people to say hateful, obnoxious, racist, sexist things.
(Jonathan Baltrusaitis, Rise of the Trolls, 20 June 2016)

Anthony Grayling (1949):
[Liberty] is not licence … it is open-minded, tolerant and reasonable restraint.
(The Meaning of Things, Phoenix, 2001, p 141)

Geoff Thompson:
Bond University's Paul Glasziou chaired a 2015 review of homeopathy by … the National Health and Medical Research Council.

Professor Paul Glasziou:
[The] conclusion we came to was that there was no convincing evidence for homeopathy for any of the conditions that it's been studied in, which is actually quite a few.
So it's not there's no evidence, it's that there's quite a lot of evidence.
It's either poor quality evidence or the good quality evidence suggests there's no effect. …

Carl Gibson [CEO, Complementary Medicines Australia]:
I'm saying the jury is still out on the NHMRC review — it was fundamentally flawed and skewed from day number one.
If we're going to have a proper review, let's have a proper review but to actually set the parameters so high that pharmaceutical studies wouldn't make it through, I think is questionable. …
Homeopathy has been around for thousands and thousands of years …
(Swallowing It, Four Corners, ABC Television, 13 February 2017)

Tim Costello:
[For] every dollar a man earns … 40 cents goes to the kids and family.
For every dollar a woman earns … 90 cents goes to the kids and family.
(774 ABC Melbourne, ABC Local Radio, 22 August 2012)

By 2030, the number of asbestos deaths in Australia is predicted to reach 60,000, equalling the number of Australians killed in the first world war.
(Devil's Dust, ABC Television, 2015)

Julian Porteous (1949) [Catholic Archbishop of Hobart]:
[If] you have a same-sex attraction it's not appropriate for you to be responsible for the nurture of children.
(For Better or Worse, Four Corners, ABC Television, 10 October 2016)

Malcolm Turnbull (1954) [Prime Minister of Australia]:
[We, in the Liberal party,] are not run by factions.
Nor are we run by big business or by deals in back rooms.
We rely on the ideas and the energy and the enterprise of our membership.
(Man on a Wire, Four Corners, ABC Television, 8 August 2016)

Joe Hockey (1965) [Federal Treasurer]:
I find [wind turbines] utterly offensive.
I think they are just a blight on the landscape.
(Power to the People, Four Corners, ABC Television, 7 July 2014)

Scott Heron [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration]:
It wasn’t just the El Nino.
2014 was the warmest year on record — an over 100-year record.
2015 exceeded that record by a new margin.
And we have estimates of a 99% chance that we’re gonna break that record again [this year.]
If you are 30 years or younger, you have never experienced a normal temperature month.
(Coral Bleaching, Catalyst, ABC Television, 11 October 2016)

Jonica Newby:
[What] the records show is that global warming isn't something that's coming — it's here … already.
It's pointless … to ask,
Is this climate change or natural variability?
What we see is one acting on top of the other.
(Taking Our Temperature, Catalyst, ABC Television, 15 November 2012)

December 22, 2011

Andrew Bolt

Blue Army: Persons of Interest

Charles Darwin (1809 – 82):
[Ignorance] more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge …
(The Descent of Man, 1871)

David Marr (1947):
[23 June 2003:] Andrew Bolt of the Herald Sun publishs details from a highly classified report by Andrew Wilkie, who had left the Office of National Assessments to blow the whistle on dodgy intelligence used to justify the Iraq war.
[John Howard's] office had already spread the story that Wilkie was mentally unstable.
Bolt mocked Wilkie's ONA predictions of civilian deaths and refugee numbers should war break out as "fairytale."
(The figures proved conservative.)
[Alexander Downer's] staff was widely assumed to be responsible for the leak, but no culprit was ever found.
(His Master's Voice, Quarterly Essay, Issue 26, Black Inc, 2007, p 56)

Isaiah Berlin (1909 – 97)

[Even in the most liberal societies, individual freedom is not] the sole, or even the dominant, criterion of social action.
We compel children to be educated, and we forbid public executions.
These are certainly curbs to freedom.
We justify them on the ground that ignorance, or a barbarian upbringing, or cruel pleasures and excitements are worse for us than the amount of restraint needed to repress them.
This judgement in turn depends on how we determine good and evil, that is to say, on our moral, religious, intellectual, economic and aesthetic values; which are, in their turn, bound up with our conception of man, and of the basic demands of his nature. …

To protest against the laws governing censorship or personal morals as intolerable infringements of personal liberty presupposes a belief that the activities which such laws forbid are fundamental needs of men as men, in a good … society.
To defend such laws is to hold that these needs are not essential, or that they cannot be satisfied without sacrificing other values which come higher … than individual freedom …

The extent of a man's, or a people's, liberty to choose to live as he or they desire must be weighed against the claims of many other values, of which equality, or justice, or happiness, or security, or public order are, perhaps, the most obvious examples. …

To preserve our absolute categories or ideals at the expense of human lives offends equally against the principles of science and of history; it is an attitude found in equal measure on the right and left wings in our days, and is not reconcilable with the principles accepted by those who respect the facts.

(Two Concepts of Liberty, Four Essays on Liberty, 1969)

December 21, 2011

Koch Industries

Blue Army: Finance

Well, Doctor, what have we got: a Republic or a Monarchy?

A Republic, if you can keep it.

— Mrs Powel of Philada & Benjamin Franklin (1706 – 90), Constitutional Convention, 1787.

The most disquieting voices joining the chorus of criticism [of the free enterprise system] come from perfectly respectable elements of society:
  • from the college campus,
  • [from] the pulpit,
  • [from] the media,
  • [from] the intellectual and literary journals,
  • [from] the arts and sciences, and
  • from politicians. …
[It] must be recognized that businessmen have not been trained or equipped to conduct guerrilla warfare with those who propagandize against the system, seeking insidiously and constantly to sabotage it. …
[The] time has come … for the wisdom, ingenuity and resources of American business to be marshalled against those who would destroy it. …

[As] every business executive knows, few elements of American society today have as little influence in government as the American businessman, the corporation, or even the millions of corporate stockholders. …
Business must learn the [lessons,] long ago learned by labor and other self-interest groups: …
  • that political power is necessary;
  • that such power must be [assiduously] cultivated; and
  • that when necessary, it must be used aggressively and with determination …

The threat to the enterprise system is not merely a matter of economics.
It also is a threat to individual freedom. …
As the experience of the socialist and totalitarian states demonstrates, the contraction and denial of economic freedom is followed inevitably by governmental restrictions on other cherished rights. …

Under our constitutional system, especially with an activist-minded Supreme Court, the judiciary may be the most important instrument for social, economic and political change.

Lewis Powell (1907 – 98) [Associate Justice, US Supreme Court], Attack of American Free Enterprise System, Memo to the US Chamber of Commerce, 23 August 1971.

We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both.

Louis Brandeis (1856 – 1941) [Associate Justice, US Supreme Court]

The Golden Rule: He who has the gold rules

(Alex Gibney, Park Avenue: Money, Power and the American Dream, 2012)

(Edward Wolff, A Century of Wealth in America, Harvard University Press, 2017)

(Executive Excess 2006, 13th Annual CEO Compensation Survey, Institute for Policy Studies & United for a Fair Economy)

Jane Mayer (1955):
[Steve Schwarzman, chairman and CEO of Blackstone,] made $398.3 million in 2006, which was 9 times more than the CEO of Goldman Sachs.
On top of this, his shares in Blackstone were valued at more than $7 billion.
(p 254)

The [carried interest] loophole was in essence an accounting trick that enabled hedge fund and private equity managers to categorize huge portions of their income as “interest,” which was taxed at the 15% rate then applied to long-term capital gains.
This was less than half the income tax rate paid by other top-bracket wage earners.
[It is] estimated that the hedge fund loophole [costs] the government over $6 billion a year — the cost of providing health care to three million children.
Of that total … almost $2 billion a year … went to just 25 individuals [— an average tax concession of $80 million each.]
(p 255)

[In] December 2010 … Republican negotiators insisted on cuts in estate taxes that would cost the Treasury $23 billion and save some 6,600 of the wealthiest taxpayers an average of $1.5 million each.
The demand didn’t materialize out of thin air. …
[Beginning in 1998, the] Kochs and the DeVoses … joined with [15] of the other richest families in the country, including the Waltons of Walmart and the Mars candy clan, in financing and coordinating a massive, multiyear campaign to reduce and eventually repeal inheritance taxes.
[These] 17 families stood to save $71 billion from the tax change, explaining why they willingly spent almost half a billion collectively, lobbying for it …
(p 290)

From 2006 until 2009, Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of the former president, worked as an associate at Avenue Capital Group, a $14 billion private equity and hedge fund firm.
Marc Lasry, co-founder of Avenue Capital, was a major Clinton supporter as well as a $1 million investor in a fund managed by the Clintons’ son-in-law, Marc Mezvinsky.
The Clinton administration had been rife with Wall Street tycoons.
(Dark Money, Doubleday, 2016, p 323)

Jane Mayer (1955):
A 2008 study of the wealthiest 400 taxpayers … showed that they earned an average of $202 million and paid an effective income tax rate of less than 20%. …
In other words, the effective tax rate on earning $202 million was lower than the rate paid by Americans earning $34,501 a year.
(Dark Money, Doubleday, 2016, p 288)

Robert Lenzner:
The top 0.1% — about 315,000 individuals out of 315 million — [capture] about half of all capital gains on the sale of shares or property after 1 year …
[These] capital gains make up 60% of the income made by the Forbes 400 [and are at taxed at 15%.]
(The Top 0.1% Of The Nation Earn Half Of All Capital Gains, Forbes, 20 November 2011)

George Domhoff (1936) [Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Sociology Department, University of California, Santa Cruz]:
[The] average income of the top 400:
  • tripled during the Clinton Administration; and
  • doubled during the first 7 years of the Bush Administration.
[A 6 fold increase in 15 years.]
(Wealth, Income, and Power, September 2005)

Charles Koch (1935)Koch Industries$44.7B
David Koch (1940)Koch Industries$44.7B
Steve Schwarzman (1947)Blackstone$11.3B
Philip Anschutz (1939)Qwest$11.0B
Ken Griffin (1968)Citidal$7.0B
Richard DeVos (1926)Amway$5.8B
Diane Hendricks (1947)ABC Supply$3.6B
Ken Langone (1935)Home Depot$2.9B
Steve Bechtel (1925)Bechtel$2.7B
Stan Hubbard (1933)Hubbard Broadcasting$2.0B
Joe Craft (1950)Alliance Resource Partners$1.4B

Jane Mayer (1955):
Of the 200 or so participants meeting secretly [at the Koch's donor summit in Aspen in June 2010,] at least 11 [of the "investors"] were on Forbes’s list of the 400 wealthiest Americans.
(pp 256 & 411)

Fewer than 200 extraordinarily rich individuals and private foundations [account] for the $750 million pooled by DonorsTrust and its sister arm, Donors Capital Fund, since 1999.
(p 347)

You wish to keep your charitable giving private, especially gifts funding sensitive or controversial issues.
Set up a DonorsTrust account and ask that your gifts remain anonymous.
Know that any contributions to your DonorsTrust account that have to be reported to the IRS will not become public information.
Unlike with private foundations, gifts from your account will remain as anonymous as you request.
(p 206)

On November 4, 2014, the investors of the Koch network finally got their money’s worth.
Election Day proved a Republican triumph.
The GOP picked up 9 seats in the Senate, winning full control of both congressional chambers. …
From this point on [Obama] would be largely relegated to playing defense against conservatives’ efforts to roll back everything his administration had done before.
(p 370)

Whether their motives were virtuous or venal, in the course of a few decades a handful of [fabulously wealthy] right-wing philanthropists had changed the course of American politics.
They created a formidable wealth defense movement, which had become a sizable part of what [Peter Buffett] dubbed “the charitable-industrial complex.”
(p 377)

Art Pope (1956) [Former Director, Americans for Prosperity]:
America does not have an aristocracy or a plutocracy.
(p 343)

In a generation, we’ve shifted the public-policy debate in North Carolina from the center-left to the center-right.
(Dark Money, Doubleday, 2016, p 338)

Jane Mayer (1955):
For several years, [Paul Ryan] had been advocating radically deep cuts in government spending, including to Medicare and Medicaid, the two main government health programs for the elderly and the poor. …
His ideas were wildly popular with most of the wealthy donors.
As the country’s highest taxpayers, they would be the biggest beneficiaries of the tax savings produced by spending cuts.
[Needless to say,] none of them needed to rely on government social services for their health or welfare.
(Dark Money, Doubleday, 2016, p 266, emphasis added)

John Galbraith (1908 – 2006):
No legislation in American history [has been] more bitterly [opposed by business] than the … Social Security Act.
(A History of Economics, Penguin, 1987, p 217)

December 18, 2011

2011 11 28 - COP17/CMP7 at Durban


The Climate Institute

The 2011 Durban Climate Summit ended with the adoption of a set of 37 formal UN decisions … in three key areas:
  1. Agreement to negotiate a single, legally binding agreement by 2015 that will cover all major carbon pollution emitters including, most importantly, China, India and the United States;
  2. Establishment of the Green Climate Fund, building on the commitment made in Cancun to raise US$100 billion a year to help the world’s poorest nations invest in clean energy and manage the unavoidable impacts of climate change;
  3. Commitment from all countries to increase the level of ambition of national efforts to reduce pollution, building on the formal recognition that existing commitments are not enough to keep global warming below 2 °C or 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels. …
With the agreement to a have a single legally binding agreement for all nations, an important roadblock and ongoing excuse for limited action has been removed.

The Durban outcomes also have domestic political significance for Australia.
Most importantly the unconditional 5% reduction target is increasingly irrelevant as it is based on the assumption of limited global action.
To increase international credibility and ensure Australia does its fair share internationally the Government should move to the higher end of its target range.
The Coalition is even more exposed as virtually no one believes it can achieve its minimum 5% reduction target with current policies.

(The Durban Climate Summit: Implications For Australia, December 2011, p 4)

December 10, 2011

Sunday Profile

ABC Radio National

Dick Warburton [Head of the Renewable Energy Target Review]:
There are at least 30,000 people who have signed a petition on this saying the opposite to what the climate change people do.
[The science] is just not settled. …
[There's] no convincing evidence that carbon dioxide is a major cause … of global warming.
Not climate change — no question about climate change — climate change is happening: it's happened for ten years, a hundred years, a thousand years and will continue to do so. …
(23 February 2014)

Rob Vertessy [Director, Bureau of Meteorology]:
We probably see, something of order of five times as many very severe heat waves today than we did in the middle of the last century.
And that's a trajectory that we expect to increase. …
(29 March 2015)

Andrew Harper [UN Operations, Jordan:
The apartment [in Homs] which they had been living in had been bombed. …
Two of the family members had died. …
So they're obviously extremely traumatized, particularly the children.
One of the children was just still in her pajamas.
She'd obviously escaped when she was sleeping and didn't have a chance to get changed …
She'd been travelling for the last seven days just in her pajamas.
There was another one whose only possession was her teddy bear which she brought across, which was obviously filthy after travelling through the desert.
(22 September 2013)

The Atlantic

Green Army: Communications

David Biello:
[The] Chinese, who are ostensibly Communist, are going to have the world’s largest carbon-trading market, while the United States, which is ostensibly capitalist, can’t fathom the idea of a free-market solution to our climate-change challenge. …
Most members of the [Chinese] government have been trained in science, and they don’t have a problem with climate change the way [we] do.
There is no debate over the reality of climate change.
And … they are aware that climate change poses even more significant challenges to China than it does to the United States …
(Robinson Meyer, President Trump and the Unnatural World, 21 December 2016)

Vannevar Bush (1890 – 1974)

The advanced arithmetical machines of the future will be electrical in nature, and they will perform at 100 times present speeds, or more.
Moreover, they will be far more versatile than present commercial machines, so that they may readily be adapted for a wide variety of operations.
  • They will be controlled by a control card or film,
  • they will select their own data and manipulate it in accordance with the instructions thus inserted,
  • they will perform complex arithmetical computations at exceedingly high speeds, and
  • they will record results in such form as to be readily available for distribution or for later further manipulation.
Such machines will have enormous appetites.
One of them will take instructions and data from a whole roomful of girls armed with simple key board punches, and will deliver sheets of computed results every few minutes.
There will always be plenty of things to compute in the detailed affairs of millions of people doing complicated things. …

Consider a future device for individual use, which is a sort of mechanized private file and library. …
A memex is a device in which an individual stores all his books, records, and communications, and which is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility.
It is an enlarged intimate supplement to his memory.

It consists of a desk, and while it can presumably be operated from a distance, it is primarily the piece of furniture at which he works.
On the top are slanting translucent screens, on which material can be projected for convenient reading.
There is a keyboard, and sets of buttons and levers. …

Wholly new forms of encyclopedias will appear, ready made with a mesh of associative trails running through them, ready to be dropped into the memex and there amplified. …
Thus science may implement the ways in which man produces, stores, and consults the record of the race. …

The applications of science have built man a well-supplied house, and are teaching him to live healthily therein.
They have enabled him to throw masses of people against one another with cruel weapons.
They may yet allow him truly to encompass the great record and to grow in the wisdom of race experience.
He may perish in conflict before he learns to wield that record for his true good.
Yet, in the application of science to the needs and desires of man, it would seem to be a singularly unfortunate stage at which
  • to terminate the process, or
  • to lose hope as to the outcome.

(As We May Think, July 1945)

Prosperity Without Growth 1

Green Army: Persons of Interest

Tim Jackson (1957):
[The] story of [our consumer society one] of us being encouraged …
  • to spend money we don't have,
  • on things we don't need,
  • to create impressions that won't last,
  • on people we don't care about or who don't care about us.
(Deakin Lecture, Big Ideas, ABC Radio National, 4 July 2010)

Low interest rates lead to easy credit, which creates higher asset prices.
Capital gains from these assets favour the richer members of society and increase both income and wealth inequality.
Since richer households typically have a higher propensity to save than poorer ones, this leads to a further increase in funds, lowering interest rates further and creating even more cheap credit.
(p 33)

Around 2600 employees at British banks were paid a total of £3.4 billion in bonuses in 2013, an average £1.3 million each almost 50 times the average annual salary in Britain [ie, equivalent to the average lifetime income.]
(Note 34, p 234)

[A study in] London revealed that life expectancy in Haringey (a poorer area) is 17 years shorter than it is in in Chelsea (a richer one).
People living in more deprived areas have
  • worse levels of drug abuse,
  • more alcohol-related hospital admissions, and
  • higher incidences of postnatal depression
Children brought up in those areas have
  • lower educational attendance, and
  • fewer qualifications.
(p 72)

The Kyoto Protocol, signed in 1992, committed the advanced economies to reducing annual greenhouse gas emissions by 5% over 1990 levels before 2012. …
By 2015, carbon dioxide emissions were over 60% higher than they had been in 1990 and being released into the atmosphere from human activities at a rate 'unprecedented in the last 66 million years'.
(Prosperity Without Growth, 2nd Edition, 2017, p 18)

United Nations Environment Program:
From 1981 to 2005 the global economy more than doubled, but 60% of the world’s ecosystems were either degraded or over-used.
(October 2008)

Prosperity Without Growth


Growth has delivered its benefits, at best, unequally.
A fifth of the world’s population earns just 2% of global income.
Inequality is higher in the OECD nations than it was 20 years ago.
And while the rich got richer, middle-class incomes in Western countries were stagnant in real terms long before the recession. …

[A] world in which nine billion people all aspire to the level of affluence achieved in the OECD nations … would need to be 15 times the size of this one by 2050 and 40 times bigger by the end of the century. …

Climate change, fuel security, collapsing biodiversity and global inequality … are issues that can no longer be relegated to the next generation or the next electoral cycle. …

[That] poorer nations stand in urgent need of economic development [does not mean that] ever-rising incomes for the already-rich are an appropriate goal for policy in a world constrained by ecological limits.
(p 6)


The myth of growth has failed us.
It has failed the two billion people who still live on less than $2 a day.
It has failed the fragile ecological systems on which we depend for survival.
It has failed … to provide economic stability and secure people’s livelihoods. …

Prosperity for the few founded on ecological destruction and persistent social injustice is no foundation for a civilised society. …

[At] the end of the day, prosperity goes beyond material pleasures.
It transcends material concerns.
It resides in the quality of our lives and in the health and happiness of our families.
It is present in the strength of our relationships and our trust in the community.
It is evidenced by our satisfaction at work and our sense of shared meaning and purpose.
It hangs on our potential to participate fully in the life of society.

Prosperity consists in our ability to flourish as human beings — within the ecological limits of a finite planet.
The challenge for our society is to create the conditions under which this is possible.
(p 5)

December 9, 2011

James Hansen

Green Army: Persons of Interest

Chuck Kutscher [National Renewable Energy Laboratory]:
If you want to know the scientific consensus on global warming, read the reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
But if you want to know what the consensus will be ten years from now, read Jim Hansen's work.

Protecting the Home Planet

[Nature] and the laws of physics cannot compromise — they are what they are.
(p xi)

[On] June 23, 1988 … I testified to a Senate committee [that,] with 99% confidence [the] Earth was being affected by human-made greenhouse gases, and the planet had entered a period of long-term warming.
(p xv)

"Clean coal" is an oxymoron.
The clean-coal concept, at least so far, has been … a diversion that the coal industry and its government supporters employ to allow dirty-coal uses to continue. …
[To prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system, coal] use must be prohibited unless and until the emissions can be captured and safely disposed of.
(p 174)

Now, what are the means by which fossil fuel use can be reduced and eventually phased out? The first priority … must go to energy efficiency. …
People in the United States, Canada, and Australia use about twice as much energy per capita as those in Europe or Japan …
California achieves energy efficiency close to that of Europe and Japan.
Since 1975, per capita use of electricity in California has remained constant, while growing 50% in the rest of the United States. …
(p 190)

Utility regulations in California also are structured such that the utilities make more money by encouraging efficiency rather than by selling more energy.

The second priority … is renewable energies …
(p 191)

However … renewable energies will not be a sufficient source of [baseload] electric power [in the forseeable future.]
[Currently,] there are now just two options for nearly carbon-free large-scale baseload electric power: (p 193)

[It would cost trillions] of dollars for new carbon-capturing power plants to replace all the old ones in China and India that emit carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.
(p 194)

The World Health Organization calculates that there might be as many as four thousand [excess] cancer deaths because of radiation released at Chernobyl, which compares with one hundred thousand other cancer deaths among the same population. …
[A conservative estimate of deaths attributable to coal related air pollution is] ten thousand deaths per year — every year.
(p 195-6)

[The] backbone of a solution to the climate problem is a flat carbon emissions price applied across all fossil fuels at the source.
This carbon price (fee, tax) must rise continually, at a rate that is economically sound.
The funds must be distributed back to the citizens (not to special interests) — otherwise the tax rate will never be high enough to lead to a clean energy future.
(p 219)

Climate history is our best source of information about how sensitive the climate system is, and, it turns out, the climate is remarkably sensitive — large climate changes can occur in response to even small forcings.
(p 35)

[Humans,] by burning fossil fuels, are now increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide by 2 ppm per year.
[This human induced] climate forcing is [twenty thousand times] more powerful than the natural forcing [ie one ten thousandth of 1 ppm per year due to tectonic activity.]
(p 161)

The carbon dioxide amount 34 million years ago, when Antarctica became cold enough to harbor a large ice sheet, was found to be 450 [350-550] ppm …

If humanity burns most of the fossil fuels, doubling or tripling the preindustrial carbon dioxide level, Earth will surely head toward the ice-free condition …
It is difficult to say how long it will take for the melting to be complete, but once ice sheet disintegration gets well under way, it will be impossible to stop.
(p 160, emphasis added)

[The] last time that Earth was 2 or 3 degrees warmer than today [ie] about three million years ago, [sea] level was about 25 meters (80 feet) higher than today. …
About a billion people now live at elevations less than 25 meters. …
A sea level rise of [even] 5 meters (about 17 feet) would submerge most of Florida, Bangladesh, the European lowlands …
(p 141-2)

The rate of sea level rise can be rapid once ice sheets begin to disintegrate.
About 14,000 years ago, sea level increased 4 to 5 meters per century for several consecutive centuries — an average rate of 1 meter every 20 or 25 years.
(p 38)

If ice sheets begin to disintegrate, there will not be a new stable sea level on any foreseeable time scale.
Instead, we will have created a situation with continual change, with intermittent calamities at thousands of cities around the world. …
Change will not be smooth and uniform.
Instead, local catastrophes will occur in association with regional storms.
Given the enormous infrastructure and historical treasures in our coastal cities, it borders on insanity to suggest that humans should [rely on adaptation to, as opposed to mitigation of, climate change.]

Would coastal cities be rebuilt, given the knowledge that sea level will continue to rise? …
[Where] would people in low-lying regions such as Bangladesh migrate to?
Global chaos will be difficult to avoid if we allow the ice sheets to become unstable.
(p 85)

[Most] of the climate response to fossil fuel emissions will occur … within the lifetimes of our children and grandchildren. …
[If] we burn all [known conventional] reserves of oil, gas, and coal, there is a substantial chance we will initiate [a] runaway greenhouse [effect and] destroy all life on the planet …
If we also burn the tar sands and tar shale … the Venus syndrome is a dead certainty.
(p 236, emphasis added)

The [safe] limit on permitted global warming, if we wish to preserve the great ice sheets on Antarctica and Greenland, and thus preserve the coastlines that have existed for the past seven thousand years, is much less than has generally been assumed [ie 350 ppm of carbon dioxide.]
Halting global warming is still feasible — but requires international cooperation in taking urgent, unprecedented actions, which would have additional benefits for human health, agriculture, and the environment.
(p 34)

[In 1863] Abraham Lincoln … established the National Academy of Sciences {to advise the nation on important matters that required the best scientific expertise}.
President Bush, early in his first term, asked the academy for advice on global warming.
Specifically, the White House sought the academy's evaluation of the conclusions reached by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [which had been making] increasingly strong statements about the likely consequences of continued increases of greenhouse gases.
The White House was probably hoping that the academy would document some criticisms of the [IPCC's conclusions.]
If so, the White House was disappointed.
(p 56)

The answer that the National Academy of Sciences had delivered … was not the answer the White House wanted to hear.
The president did not ask the academy for advice about global warming again during the remainder of his eight years in power.
(p 58)

Coal burning at power plants is the greatest source of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide.
It is also the source most susceptible to control.
[Bush's decision in March 2001] not to restrict power plant emissions reneged on a promise [he] made repeatedly during the 2000 presidential election campaign … to include carbon dioxide in a "four pollutant strategy" to reduce the most damaging pollutants from power plants.
That promise, together with the Clinton-Gore administration's poor record in constraining carbon dioxide emissions, stymied Al Gore from raising the environment and climate change as an effective campaign issue.
Given the razor-thin margin in the 2000 election, and the environmental awareness of Florida voters, it seems clear that Gore would have become president if it were not for Bush's pollution-reduction promise.
(p 2)

[On the other hand, the Bush administration did take steps to reduce] non-carbon dioxide emissions, including methane and black soot. …
[The methane-to-markets program] helps reduce methane emissions via capture at coal mines, landfills, and agricultural and waste management facilities and uses the captured methane as fuel.
White House interest helped Kruger and the EPA initiate the program in the United States and extend its effectiveness via cooperation with several developing countries that have larger methane emissions than the United States.
This approach, extended globally, is better than the Kyoto Protocol approach [since methane] is one of the escape hatches that make the Kyoto approach ineffectual for carbon dioxide.
The Bush administration also deserves credit for major tightening of soot emission limits in the face of opposition from diesel producers, truckers, and other industries.
In addition to supporting rules that reduced soot emissions from trucks and buses, the administration later expanded regulations to cover tractors, trains, and ships.
(p 52, emphasis added)

In my talks I began to emphasize the first line of the NASA mission statement:
[To] understand and protect our home planet.
But in the spring of 2006, a NASA colleague sent me an e-mail warning me that I had better stop using that statement as a rationalization for my actions because it no longer existed.
Sure enough, when I checked the mission statement on the NASA Web site, the phrase "to understand and protect our home planet" was gone.
[Nobody] knew what had happened.
It had just disappeared.
The second thing to disappear was 20% of the NASA earth science research and analysis budget.
Because most of the budget goes toward fixed items, such as rent and civil service salaries, a 20% cut is monstrous, a signal almost of going out of business.
(p 135)
Mark Bowen:
A high insider at headquarters told me that Michael Griffin rewrote the mission statement and the agency's strategic plan basically on his own.
(Censoring Science, Dutton, 2008)
(p 136)
Michael Griffin (1949) [NASA Administrator, 2005-9]:
[Climate change is only a problem if you] assume that the state of the Earth's climate today is the optimal climate, the best climate that we could have or ever have had, and that we need to take steps to make sure that it doesn't change.
First of all, I don't think it's within the power of human beings to assure that the climate does not change, as millions of years of history have shown.
And second of all, … I would ask which human beings … are to be accorded the privilege of deciding that this particular climate that we have … right now, is the best climate for all other human beings.
I think that's a rather arrogant position for people to take.
(p 152)

David Mould, [George W Bush appointee and] head of public affairs for NASA, [had] held senior positions in public and media relations at the Southern Company of Atlanta, the second-largest holding company of coal-burning utilities in the United States and thus the second greatest emitter of carbon dioxide.
Southern's contributions to the Republican Party [in 2000] were exceeded … only by Enron's.
(p 127)

Would you like to know more?

December 4, 2011

Climate Change Research Centre: Climate Science 2009

Green Army: Research and Development

It is over three years since the drafting of text was completed for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report (AR4). …
The purpose of this report is to synthesize the most policy-relevant climate science published since the close-off of material for the last IPCC report. …
This report covers the range of topics evaluated by Working Group I of the IPCC, namely the Physical Science Basis. …
The authors primarily comprise previous IPCC lead authors familiar with the rigor and completeness required for a scientific assessment of this nature.
(The Copenhagen Diagnosis, 2009: Updating the World on the Latest Climate Science, 2009, p 5)

December 3, 2011

Peter Singer

Green Army: Persons of Interest

Jeremy Bentham (1748 – 1832):
The day may come when the rest of the animal creation may acquire those rights which never could have been withholden from them but by the hand of tyranny.
The French have already discovered that the blackness of the skin is no reason why a human being should be abandoned without redress to the caprice of a tormentor.
It may one day come to be recognized that
  • the number of the legs,
  • the villosity of the skin, or
  • the termination of the os sacrum,
are reasons equally insufficient for abandoning a sensitive being to the same fate.
What else is it that should trace the insuperable line?
Is it the faculty of reason, or perhaps the faculty of discourse?
But a full-grown horse or dog is beyond comparison a more rational, as well as a more conversable animal, than an infant of a day, or a week, or even a month, old.
But suppose they were otherwise, what would it avail?
The question is not,
  • Can they reason! nor
  • Can they talk?, but,
  • Can they suffer?
(An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, 1789)

Robert Bellah [Sociologist]:
In earlier days the individualism in America was one that also honored community values.
Today we have an ideology of individualism that simply encourages people to maximize personal advantage.

The Annual Holocaust

[In 2011] 6.9 million children died from preventable poverty-related diseases. …
[In] 1990, that figure was 12 million. …
Its dropping all the time.
[So] extreme poverty [is not] a black hole where you just pour money into it and does no good. …
We are actually making significant progress …

[Nonetheless,] 6.9 million children dying every year is 19,000 children dying every day.
Imagine [if] there were 19,000 children … at some sports ground …
You had them all there, in the stands, and they were going to die in 24 hours — unless somebody helped them. …
All of the media of the world would be focusing on this.
The donations would be pouring in.
They would certainly not die.
There would be enough people to ensure that they had what they needed.

But because the 19,000 children [are scattered] around the world [and it's] not a new story [—] its not in the media. …
And … although I hope the number will continue to decline — if its not 19,000 it will be 18 or 17,000 for 2012 and it'll be something similar, perhaps a little bit less, for next year, and so on — it will go on for years and years, with all those millions of children dying unnecessarily because we could be helping them. …

Currently there are 24 billion animals in factory farms around the world. …
Three and a half times the population of the world. …
We have made progress, not enough, we need to make faster progress, but we're headed in the right direction. …

But there is a third issue … where I don't think we really are making progress.
And its one which … has the potential to undo the good that we do in those others.
That issue … is climate change. …
Its already causing [as estimated] 600,000 extra deaths a year — not just through extreme weather events … but through things like tropical diseases spreading into areas where they previously did not exist.
Disease, like malaria and dengue, that now have a wider range because of global warming.

(Great moral issues for the 21st century, Big Ideas, ABC Radio National, 24 July 2013)

The Equal Consideration of Interests

The principle of equal consideration of interests prohibits making our readiness to consider the interests of others depend on their abilities or other characteristics, apart from the characteristic of having interests. …
Enslaving those who score below a certain line on an intelligence test [or on the basis of some other morally irrelevant characteristic] would not … be compatible with equal consideration.
Intelligence [race, gender, sexual orientation etc have] nothing to do with many important interests that humans have [such as] the interest
  • in avoiding pain,
  • in satisfying basic needs for food and shelter,
  • to love and care for any children one may have,
  • to enjoy friendly and loving relations with others and
  • to be free to pursue one’s projects without unnecessary interference from others.
(p 21)

[If] it is in our power to prevent something very bad happening, without thereby sacrificing anything of comparable moral significance, we ought to do it. …
[Because this injunction] applies only when nothing comparably significant is at stake … the principle cannot lead to the kinds of actions of which nonconsequentialists strongly disapprove — serious violations of individual rights, injustice, broken promises and so on.
(p 199)

(Practical Ethics, 3rd Edition, 2011

Social Costs — Private Profits

[For private enterprise to be able to generate and retain profits, it requires:]
  • a legal system that fosters and protects [resource] rights,
  • private ownership of land,
  • an accepted currency,
  • systems of transport,
  • the production and sale of energy,
  • the existence of an educated labour force,
  • corporate oversight,
  • the protection of patents …
  • the prevention of monopolies,
  • judicial resolution of disputes,
  • national defence and
  • the protection of trading routes.
(p 19)

Herbert Simon, a Nobel Prize-winning economist, has estimated … that social capital is probably responsible for at least 90% of income in wealthy societies.
(p 20)

A system of government is conceptually prior to property rights — and a system of government requires taxation. …
[In] a complex modern society, there is no way of sorting out what your property entitlements would be, if there were no government and no taxes.
(p 21)

Bertrand Russell

Green Army: Persons of Interest

Nicolaus Copernicus (1473 – 1543):
All the spheres revolve about the sun as their mid-point, and therefore the sun is the center of the universe. …
[And the Earth] performs a complete rotation on its fixed poles in a daily motion.
(Commentariolus, 1514)

The harmony of the whole world teaches us their truth, if only — as they say — we would look at the thing with both eyes.
(On the Revolution of the Heavenly Spheres, 1543)

Martin Luther (1483 – 1546):
People give ear to an upstart astrologer who strove to show that the earth revolves, not the heavens or the firmament, the sun and the moon.
Whoever wishes to appear clever must devise some new system, which of all systems is of course the very best.
This fool wishes to reverse the entire science of astronomy; but sacred Scripture tells us that Joshua commanded the sun to stand still, and not the earth.

John Calvin (1509 – 64):
Who will venture to place the authority of Copernicus above that of the Holy Spirit?

Johannes Kepler (1571 - 1630) [Letter to Hans Herwart]:
My aim is to show that the heavenly machine is not a kind of divine, live being, but a kind of clockwork … in so far as nearly all the maniforld motions are caused by a most simple, magnetic, and material force, just as all motions of the clock are caused by a simple weight.
(Richard Gregory, The Oxford Companion to the Mind, Oxford University Press, 1987)

John Locke (1632 - 1704):
Good men are men still liable to mistakes, and are sometimes warmly engaged in errors, which they take for divine truths, shining in their minds with the clearest light. …
[Thus, it becomes] all men to maintain peace and the common offices of humanity and friendship in the diversity of opinions, since we cannot reasonably expect that any one should readily arid obsequiously quit his own opinion, and embrace ours with a blind resignation to an authority which the understanding of man acknowledges not. …
For where is the man that has uncontestable evidence of the truth of all that he holds, or of the falsehood of all he condemns …
(Essay Concerning Human Understanding, 1690)

Bertrand Russell (1872 – 1970):
The scepticism that I advocate amounts only to this:
  1. that when the experts are agreed, the opposite opinion cannot be held to be certain;
  2. that when they are not agreed, no opinion can be regarded as certain by a non-expert; and
  3. that when they all hold that no sufficient grounds for a positive opinion exist, the ordinary man would do well to suspend his judgment.
(Sceptical Essays, 1928)

Science does not aim at establishing immutable truths and eternal dogmas: its aim is to approach the truth by successive approximations, without claiming that at any stage final and complete accuracy has been achieved.
(ABC of Relativity, 4th Edition, 1925, p 113)

[It] is not what the man of science believes that distinguishes him, but how and why he believes it.
His beliefs are tentative, not dogmatic; they are based on evidence, not on authority or intuition.
(p 514)

We may say, in a broad way,
  • that Greek philosophy down to Aristotle expresses the mentality appropriate to the City State;
  • that Stoicism is appropriate to a cosmopolitan despotism;
  • that scholastic philosophy is an intellectual expression of the Church as an organization;
  • that philosophy since Descartes, or at any rate since Locke, tends to embody the prejudices of the commercial middle class; and
  • that Marxism and Fascism are philosophies appropriate to the modern industrial State.
(A History of Western Philosophy, 2nd Edition, 1961, Unwin, 1984, p 751)

The growth of electronic and communication engineering … is transforming the world under our very eyes in a manner more radical [than even the industrial revolution.]
(The Wisdom of the West, MacDonald, 1959, p 300)

In Praise of Aristocracy

Aristotle (384 – 322 BCE):
Citizens should not lead the life of mechanics or tradesmen, for such a life is ignoble and inimical to virtue.

Scott Stephens:
I do think that social hierarchies are important.
I do think that according roles of public significance the honorability, the nobility that's due [to] them;
I do think that's important.
I think that de Tocqueville was right, that democratic society ultimately cannot survive without some latent sense of an aristocracy; that there is a virtuous class of people who have been set aside to be uncommonly selfless …

Judith Brett (1949) [Emeritus Professor of Politics, Latrobe University]:
I think all that stuff about aristocracy, that [Scott] was going on about, is just rubbish …
[What] we want in a democracy, are politicians who are both representative and larger than life … whereas, the aristocracy were [removed, they] were a different class of people.
We live in democracies; there's no going back to that.
One of the skills … of, say, John Howard, was that he was both able to represent and be recognizable.
People want to be able to recognize in their politicians someone they can … understand and identify with.
Because then, they think, that politician may understand them …

( Faith in politics: Can it be restored?, The Minefield, 6 August 2015)

Bertrand Russell (1872 – 1970)

Aristotle's opinions on moral questions are always such as were conventional in his day.
On some points they differ from those of our time, chiefly where some form of aristocracy comes in.
We think that human beings, at least in ethical theory, all have equal rights, and that Justice involves equality; Aristotle thinks that justice involves, not equality, but right proportion, which is only sometimes equality.

The justice of a master or a father is a different thing from that of a citizen, for a son or slave is property, and there can be no injustice to one's own property. …
A father can repudiate his son if he is wicked, but a son cannot repudiate his father, because he owes him more than he can possibly repay, especially existence.
(p 186)

In unequal relations, it is right, since everybody should be loved in proportion to his worth, that the inferior should love the superior more than the superior loves the inferior: wives, children, subjects, should have more love for husbands, parents, and monarchs than the latter have for them.
(p 187)

The Aristotelian view, that the highest virtue is for the few, is logically connected with the subordination of ethics to politics.
If the aim is the good community rather than the good individual, it is possible that the good community may be one in which there is subordination.
(p 189)

Aristotle never seems to have realized the difficulty of 'equality according to proportion'.
If this is to be true justice, the proportion must be of virtue.
Now virtue is difficult to measure, and is a matter of party controversy.
In political practice, therefore, virtue tends to be measured by income …
(p 201)

(Aristotle's Ethics, A History of Western Philosophy, 2nd Edition, 1961)

Quarterly Essay

Green Army: Communications

Foundation for Young Australians:
Over the past 15 years,
  • incomes of the top 10% have grown [25% faster] than the bottom 90%.
  • Incomes of the top 1% have grown [twice as fast as the bottom 90%, and]
  • incomes of the top 0.1% have grown 2.8 times faster than the bottom 90%.]
(The New Work Order, 4 September 2015, pp 8 & 26)

Nicolas Herault & Francisco Azpitarte [Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research]:
[The] direct effect of tax-transfer policy reforms [in Australia] accounts for half of the observed increase in income inequality between 1999 and 2008 …
(Understanding changes in the distribution and redistribution of income: A unifying decomposition framework, Review of Income and Wealth, 12 December 2014)

Milton Friedman (1912–2006):
I am in favor of cutting taxes under any circumstances and for any excuse, for any reason, whenever it’s possible.
(Jordan Ellenberg, Less Like Sweden, How Not To Be Wrong, Part 1, Chapter 1, Penguin, 2014)

George Megalogenis (1964):
This is the part of the Great Recession we did not avoid.
We had imported the American disease of budget-busting tax cuts for rich.
(p 39)

Business has convinced itself that globalisation means it owes no obligation to society other to generate profit.
(p 26)

[Indeed, business has, if anything,] become more presumptuous since [the 2008 global financial crisis:]
Give us a cut in the company tax rate.
Fund it with an increase in the GST.
There is no economic logic here …
(Balancing Act: Australia Between Recession and Renewal, Quarterly Essay, Issue 61, February 2016, p 27)

Paul Cleary [Senior Writer, The Australian]:
… 90% of a $330 billion revenue windfall [from the 2003 mining boom] was spent by the Howard government in the last few years of office.
(Australia's Mining Boom, 10 April 2016)

Tax Cuts for the Rich, Spending Cuts for the Poor

George Megalogenis (1964)

The default setting of politics in the 21st century — to trust the market — has proven to be bad economics.
It has left us with:
  • gridlocked cities,
  • growing inequality and
  • a corporate sector that feels no obligation to pay tax.
(p 13)

Both sides of politics have fallen for the line that in order to maintain our record run of prosperity you have to squeeze:
  • the employee,
  • the student,
  • the single parent,
  • the consumer
— anyone, really who does not run a business or own and investment property.
(p 27)

The electoral cycle runs too quickly for the investment cycle, and until the parties adopt a more mature approach, each new government will condemned to repeat the errors of its predecessor as it tries to rewrite the nation's infrastructure policy from scratch.
(p 23)

It is no use pretending that that the private sector can deliver physical infrastructure such as rail lines or roads better than the government.
The market has had two decades to prove otherwise, and its legacy is congestion.
(p 20)

The government must take the lead on physical infrastructure.
Only it has an economy-wide perspective.
The market, left to its own devices, will only build houses.
(p 21)

Household debt was 70% of GDP in 1990.
Today it is more than double that — 185%. …
(p 16)

Deregulation need not have increased household debt to the extent that it has, nor led to a greater concentration of national wealth in the property market.
These are not rational outcomes of a free market, but the result of political decisions to favour one form of investment over all others.
(p 61)

Infrastructure promotes growth, and maintains social cohesion by keeping people connected.
When the economy is weak, it has the bonus of saving jobs.
(p 22)

The danger to social cohesion multiplies because the resources boom has already hollowed out other industries.
The 140,000 new jobs jobs created in mining since 2000 matched an almost identical loss of jobs in manufacturing.
As mining inevitably contracts, where will these men go next?
They cannot simply return to their old workplace, because many of those businesses have closed down [— some driven to the wall by the boom induced high dollar.]
(p 16)

Another round of mass retrenchments is likely as Holden and Toyota wind up their Australian operations in 2017.
The question [for] the Turnbull government [is] whether the public sector can find work for tens of thousands of blue-collar men before they become a political wrecking ball.
(p 17)

Howard changed the budget from being a document primarily concerned with the economy to one with a purpose that was overtly political.
He taught people to expect a handout outside an election campaign, which created a permanent sense of entitlement. …
His successors fell into the same habit, even though the budget was in deficit. …
With each futile attempt to bribe, government wasted another opportunity to reconsider the role of the budget in the twenty-first century.
(pp 42-3)

[Malcolm Turnbull] has to correct for policy errors on the conservative side [of politics] running across two decades:
  • the six most wasteful years of the Howard government from 2001 to 2007, and
  • the six combative years when Abbott led the Liberal Party from 2009 to 2015.
(p 8)

[He needs to remove] the blinkers of ideology and nostalgia from his side of politics in the way Curtin and Hawke once did for Labor.
(p 56)

The Coalition can't lay claim to the future until it adjusts to the two big shocks of our age.
  • The first shock is that the version of capitalism favoured by conservatives is broken.
    The [global financial] crisis entered its ninth year in 2016, which places it in the same category as the global depressions of the 1890s and 1930s. …
  • The second shock is that the international community may finally be ready to tackle climate change. …
    In its first full year of operation, 2014-15, Direct Action saw emissions rise, reversing gains made under Labor's carbon tax. …
No post-war government has increased its majority in its second term, so Turnbull could [after the July 2016 election,] be governing on a parliamentary knife-edge.
(p 57)

The open model was supposed to ensure stability by removing four key prices in the economy from political control:
  • the currency,
  • interest rates,
  • tariffs and
  • wages.
The job of steering the economy passed from government to the invisible hand of the market. …
Governments forgot that markets and central banks can fail just as spectacularly as interventionist politicians.
(p 58)

The logical answer [to rising inequality] is to dramatically increase public investment in education …
But this would require a change of mindset in the Coalition, which supports
  • private systems over public, and
  • the winners of deregulation over the losers.
The onus is on Malcolm Turnbull to repair the social contract before inequality becomes entrenched. …

He said he wants Australia to remain a high-wage society with a generous social safety net. …
[And yet he] presents as a leader who wants to cut taxes further and shrink the size of government. …
  • The tax cuts of the boom years, which favoured higher income earners, and
  • the spending cuts since the global financial crisis, which punished those at the bottom,
overturned a century of political tradition to promote egalitarianism through the federal budget.
Turnbull can't improve the open model by repeating the formula which alienated the electorate in the first place. …

[In the 1980s, Hawke and Keating] cut spending and simplified the tax system, [without reducing] overall revenue.
They explained to the public that they were correcting for the spending errors of the Whitlam era, and Labor supporters accepted the argument.
Turnbull can do the same … by explaining the budget policy mistakes of the Howard era:
  • Too much money … given to those who didn't need it, and
  • too little of it … put aside for the future.
(p 61)

The challenge for government in the twenty-first century is to think for the long term. …
Part of the problem is that the main parties are stuck in the wrong past: they keep looking to the market to fix problems that can only be solved by government. …
If Australia is to stay ahead of the pack, it needs governments that understand markets well enough to know where government belongs.
Otherwise, Australia will become globalisation's next and most unnecessary victim.
(p 63)

(Balancing Act: Australia Between Recession and Renewal, Quarterly Essay, Issue 61, February 2016)

John Quiggin (1956)

The Howard government kept the budget in surplus, but it was also careful to run the surplus down in every election cycle, with the aim of precluding expensive electoral commitments by Labor.
The result was a budget with a structural deficit, concealed by the revenue generated by the commodity boom.

[Howard and Costello's greatest act] of fiscal irresponsibility was [their] massive three-year program of tax cuts, aimed largely at upper-income earners …
[And,] despite the disappearance of the projected surpluses that were expected to pay for the tax cuts, and of any possible economic rationale for aiding high-income earners, the Rudd government [went] ahead with the cuts promised in the utterly different world of 2007.
(p 102)

(Goodbye to All That?, Black Inc, 2010)