Soulless Economics 101

Van Dormael (1978: 32) quotes the British Economist John Maynard Keynes in 1941 as saying

‘the secular international problem‘ of maintaining equilibrium in the balance of payments – a problem that ‘had that had never been solved since methods of barter had given way gave way to money and bills of exchange.’

(and)

‘To suppose that there is some smoothly functioning automatic mechanism of adjustment which preserves equilibrium if only we trust to methods of Laissez-faire is a doctrinaire delusion which disregards the lessons of historical experience without the support of sound theory.’

Basically the problem with economics is that there is no way of establishing a rate of exchange. What is fair and what is unjust? Who knows? The only alternative seems to be no rules and that as been a disaster. This leaves a situation where human attributes (or lack of them) determine economic policies and outcomes. If the object is create a society that has a soul and acts humanly towards all its peoples then human qualities such as empathy and compassion have to be the guiding principle of economic decision making. If screwing the poor to give to Rupert Murdoch is the aim then Joe Hockey is the man for the job, but don’t suggest for one moment that there is any empathy, compassion or soul involved in Hockey’s policies.

Presenting spending years of mental and physical suffering in a squalid concentration camp with no charges laid and no prospect of release as being the only alternative of crossing the seas in a leaky boat is the act of a totally soulless country. How can a country that rushes to war in a foreign country at the slightest excuse, and without being asked but refuses to give significant aid to help stop Ebola until being forced to by universal condemnation from the rest off the world say it has a soul.

I used to like Australia when it had a soul, the days before Abbott became leader of what used to be the Liberal Party. The days before Kevin Rudd sent refugees of to concentration camps. But those days are gone. Can those days be revived?

The simple answer would be to bury Abbott and his whole front bench down the same hole as Azazel never to be seen again until judgement day, but that would be too simplistic. The problem is that if a despot is deposed what happens then? Is there any alternative? Sadly in Australia at this time I don’t see any viable alternative. Bill shorten seems a reasonable sort of fellow but he is no match for Abbott and he leads a party that has lost it’s soul. A beginning for labour would be to accept that Rudd’s refugee policy was a political move that failed and that it was also inhuman. If Labour reversed its refugee stance and supported speedy onshore process and humane treatment of all peoples it would be a beginning. A little bit of soul is better than no soul. Bill Shorten moving aside for Tanya Plibersek would be a major step forward. Tanya is a lady who seems to have empathy and compassion as well as the ability to stand up to Abbott.

With only about eighteen months to the next election we need to begin rebuilding Australia’s soul now because if the extreme right of the Murdoch/Abbott government becomes entrenched Australia’s soul could pass beyond revival.

Reference

Van Dormael, Armand. 1978. Bretton Woods: Birth of a Monetary System. United Kingdom: Holmes &; Meier Publishers.

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The Great Big F35 Con

The F35 is the last fighter any sane PM would buy. Reports indicate that it flies like a pregnant duck and computer simulations show it is completely outclassed by the Russian Sukhoi fighter, and it’s Chinese copy that are already in service. Even the US Air force don’t want it.

But worse that it is a complete con by the Americans. The F35 comes in three versions. The A, B and C. The A version is the pregnant duck version. The B is a short take-off and landing version for the US Army, and the C version is a vertical take-off and landing version for the US Navy. The con is that Australia and other nations are sharing the development costs of all versions but only getting the pregnant duck at $m90.00 each. The only entities who need Australia to have the F35 are any potential enemies.

We are paying for the development of aircraft for the US Army and Navy and getting nothing, absolutely nothing in return. Without the B and C versions the F35 would have been in service many years ago. It is under-powered slop bucket, completely out-dated that will never do the job we are buying it for. Abbott is robbing money needed make Australia a compassionate country so he can buy a few new, and totally useless toys for the air force. If ever there any decision that emphasis just stuffed Abbott’s decision-making faculties are this is it. We are robbing pensions, the unemployed and many other disadvantaged groups to subsidised the US Army and Navy.

Do we really want to screw the disadvantaged even more that the Abbott government has already to pay for a few useless aircraft?

The Vatican embraces Reganomics.

The Catholic Church’s answer to Tony Abbott, George Pell, is to head the Vatican finance Ministry in Vatican City. Both Abbott and Pell were both disciples of B A Santamaria and Santamaria’s radical fundamentalist Catholicism and way-out economic policies make Attila the Hun look like a green senator. It seems we can expect the Vatican to explain that it has to screw poor so that it can balance its books. But then again mainstream Christianity of all persuasions has been doing that for centuries.

The other thing that we can expect is for Abbott to be summoned to Rome to receive a Catholic Knighthood. Murdoch has already received his for building a church, so with Pell in his new position how can Abbott fail? There is nothing like an old pals network to get where you want to go. Santamaria, Abbott, Pell, Murdoch and the Catholic Church is the stuff nightmares are made of.

Raganomics is the art of making the rich richer in the vain hope that the rich will spend some money that will filter down to the poor at the bottom of the heap. Mainstream churches have practiced this for centuries without it being formalized with a name, but precious little filters down to the poor. Nor will it ever. There could not be a starker example of the failure of Raganomics than the Catholic Church. It has accumulated vast wealth without doing any perceivable good works to alleviate poverty and suffering in this world. Pell has gone where he needs to be and I am certain that there will be a regular comparing of notes with Abbott and Murdoch and regular channelling of B A Santamaria.

The myth of high Australian labour costs.

There is a myth being perpetrated by the Abbott government that the Australian labour force is expensive and incompetent. This is a slur on Australia and a lie to cover Abbott’s twisted economic policy to give multinational companies the cheapest possible cost so they can screw Australian Workers.

The major problem with Australian labour costs is dumping. Dumping is when a company produces at the level that gives the lowest cost and maximises prices. When the lowest cost gives production units that is higher than the level needed to maximise profit the extra units are ‘dumped’ at cost on any country that has low levels of protection. When Abbott says Australia is open to business he means that Australia is open to anyone who wants to dump their excess production and in the process distort the relative costs of Australian labour. The cost of imported goods in Australia in many cases bears no relationship of the actual costs of production. This makes it impossible for say the Australian car industry compete with imported vehicles that are selling at thousands of dollars below their true price.

Protectionism is a dirty word according to Abbott and his economic minnows. Having tariffs that raise the cost of imported goods to the level of their true value is not protectionism; it is creating a level playing field. A system of tariffs that protects against dumping but goes not create not inhibit true competition would be flexible across industries and flexible over time would require a sensitive touch that is difficult to achieve, but the benefits would be a true indication of the cost of Australian labour and I would be surprised if we were to be found to be non-competitive.

There is another aspect to the argument. If Australia is to be competitive in a modern world Australians will need to get used to the idea that they will pay the true price of imported goods. Australians cannot have it both ways. We either have a vibrant economy or cheap imports. We cannot have both.

Mr Turnbull, to transform an economy you must know where you want to go.

Malcolm Turnbull’s performance on Q and A last night highlighted that the Abbott government has no idea what it is doing. His only answer to widespread job losses was to repeat over and over that it was part of some sort of transformation.

In a transformation there is a movement from one pace to another. We know where we are moving from, a strong economy with a triple A+ credit rating and increasing social justice, but where are we going too?

Please Mr. Abbott, Turnbull, Hockey, Morrison, Payne and the rest, can you tell us about the glorious new vision that awaits us? Where is this glorious new land? I know what we are leaving behind but where are you taking us? What can you promise the Ford, Holden, Toyota and SPC workers you have liberated from the drudgery of daily work? All I can see in front of Australia is a big black hole that is sucking us in and our only hope is the promise that we will somehow be spat out the other side into a parallel universe where everything is perfect.

Mr Turnbull did give us one slight glimpse of the future. It would somehow run on superior technology and information. Didn’t sound convincing to me. How can Turnbull talk of this technological wonderland in front of us when he is in the process of completely stuffing up the NBN? I was left with the sinking feeling that Turnbull, in spite of his reputation of having a brain as big as a universe, does not have the slightest idea what he is doing. Does the Abbott government have any understanding of where we are, where we or going or how we will get there? Sounds like a train wreck in the process of happening to me.

The return of the Australian Cringe.

Joe Hockey’s performance at the Lowery Institute on Thursday had me, as a confirmed part time atheist praying ‘please god don’t let this buffoon represent Australia at the G20 meeting.’ It is inconceivable to me that a person such as this could represent himself having any knowledge of economics, let alone represent Australia at a G20 meeting. He would definitely make a better stand-up comedian than treasurer, and the G20 delegates must surely laugh him out of the room. His performance as a comedian was even better than that of Abbott at Davos, and that was a tough act to follow.

Amongst his routine was a gem about how Australia had shown the world how to navigate the Global Financial Crisis but now was the time to recover from the excesses of the previous government. I am certain that the irony of Hockey claiming responsibility for successfully navigating the GFC will not be lost on the G20 delegates. The centrepiece of the Hockey comedy show was how Australia would guide and lead the world out of the current global economic crisis.

You can find a sound recording of Hockey’s act at http://bit.ly/1c8xX54 If you want a really good laugh it is worth listening to, but it is a pity it is not on video because it was wondrous to see how a true professional can keep a straight face whilst delivering the most ridiculous material.

Poverty is relative.

Poverty and plenty. Rich and poor. These are relative concepts. Rich is someone who has more than you and poor is someone with less that you. The concepts cannot be measured, but the relativity of them can. We can measure the gap between those who have and those who do not.

The Murdoch/Abbott government seems determined to make the gap between rich and poor in Australia as wide as possible. The latest attack on the poor, up front fees for visits to a GP is a disgusting attack by a small minded little Hitler that could play havoc on the nations health. A healthy aging population is financially much easier to maintain than a disease ridden aging population. What next Abbott? Do our aged pay or die? Is this the logical result of user pays? For a developed nation keeping the population healthy, regardless of socio-economic circumstances, saves money.

Apart from the social aspects regular health checks for our elderly make a significant contribution to keeping health cost down by picking up problems at an early stage. If the disadvantaged of any age are unable to visit a GP with early symptoms it will also add significantly to our health cost. The cry from the medical profession for years has been early detection and early treatment. Treat a small problem before it becomes a big one.

Australia is fast approaching a tipping point where we must decide what sort of country we want to live in. Do we care for and help our aged and disadvantaged people or do we subscribe to the Social Darwinist philosophy that if we care for our poor and disadvantaged they will only breed more poor and disadvantaged people? There will probably always be a level of disadvantage in our society but the best way to minimise the disadvantage is to help/show how to escape recurring cycles of disadvantage. But what does that horrible little man Abbott do? He targets the disadvantaged. This can only increase disadvantage. Another three years of this and Australia will be poverty-stricken.

Abbott and Santamaria. Does Abbot want an extreme Catholic Theocracy to replace democracy?

At the beginning of this year I blogged about the connections between the Catholic Church, B A Santamaria, Archbishop Pell, John Howard, Tony Abbott and Rupert Murdoch. Since gaining office Abbott has implemented the nut-case policies advocated by B A Santermaria in the 1960’s. I decided it was time to rerun those blogs to a now much wider audience and question again where Abbott’s loyalties lie. Does he want to implement B A Santamaria’s dream of replacing democracy with an extreme radical Catholic theocracy?

As a disclaimer to start all religions have weirdos and this blog is in no way anti Catholic, only anti Santamaria’s brand of Catholicism.

Questions have been asked about Tony Abbott’s connection to the Catholic Church and whether his loyalties lie with the church or the Australian Parliament. This is a legitimate question. There is supposed to be separation between religion (all religion) and governance.

In an article by Phillip Coorey (Canberra Times, December 5 2011) Sydney Morning Herald chief political correspondent, Malcolm Turnbull is reported have said during the launch of a book by Hal Colebatch titled The Modest Member: The Life & Times of Bert Kelly:

”We should not delude ourselves with political humbug into imagining the opponents of freedom – economic, social, political – are only to be found on what we like to call the left,” he said. ”Nor should we imagine that there are no advocates of big government to be found on what is called the right.”

Coory also wrote that ‘Mr Turnbull did not name names but invoked Mr Santamaria, a central influence on Mr Abbott during his formative political years and somebody whom he still mentions.’

Tony Abbot was a pupil of B.A.Santamaria for 22 years, and once described Santamaria as ‘The greatest living Australian.”

Santamaria was a extreme Catholic radical who said that all private and public policy must be according to strict Catholic doctrine. Basically Santamaria wanted Australia to be governed as a Catholic theocracy.

In an interview on Radio National (March14, 2001) Fr Bruce Duncan  said of Santamaria.

“I don’t think he went out of his way to mislead and misinterpret events, I think he was just so convinced of his ideas that he automatically kept reinterpreting things to mean the exact opposite of what they had originally intended to mean.”

The same might be said of Santamaria’s pupil, Tony Abbott.

Looking back at B.A.Santamaria is a way of understanding Tony Abbott and why Santamaria’s ghost is alive and well and resided in Parliament House, Canberra.

Following discussion about Tony Abbot and B A Santamaria I wondered if Murdoch was in there somewhere. The thing that put me off was that Murdoch is not a Catholic. But;

Rupert Murdoch was given a Catholic ‘Knight Commander of St Gregory’ for his services to the Catholic Church 1998 by John Paul II. This was in spite of Murdoch not being a Catholic. Still, we have seen how Murdoch is not adverse to jumping from ship to ship as it suits his purpose, as shown by dumping Australia for the USA to get around minor legalities.

In Australia Santamaria’s Catholic connections included Mannix and Pell. Political disciples included Howard and Abbott. I am not even going to try to put this all together. All I can say is that the Catholic Church, B A Santamaria, Mannix, Pell, Howard, Rupert Murdoch and Tony Abbott are twisted together in a way that would be impossible to untangle.

Santamaria had no formal political role and never ran for office, but he kept Labor out of power for 17 years. He was also huge in the life of Abbott, who said after his death that Santamaria “saw politics as a way of giving glory to God”. Historical amnesia about Santamaria also raises the question about how well we know Tony Abbott, the man who would be Prime Minister.

Financial Review. Tony Abbott’s higher calling 27 Apr 2012 01:03:00 | UPDATED: 27 Apr 2012 09:00:42 Accessed 21 January http://www.afr.com/p/lifestyle/afrmagazine/tony_abbott_higher_calling_aNGk1uJKD26R4KQ6TWkbJJ

Politicians, know your place.

There is an old Taoist saying that the along the lines that the better the government the less the people notice them. What does that say about Australia’s politicians?

The place of the politician is to legislate on what the people want, not on how it should be done. The first needs to be the will of the people, and the second, how it should be done, they have no idea.

An example of democracy working properly was the introduction of legislation to limit the pollution emitted from motor vehicles. In the 1972 Vehicle Emission Standards where introduced and progressively tightened since. (Department of Infrastructure).

The people through the parliament legislated that motor vehicle emissions would be subject to new standards and then the motor industry worked out how those standards could be met. That is democracy in action.

Neither side of the political divide in Australia has the slightest idea what to do about climate change. Nor should we expect them to. Solutions to technological problems need technological answers.

If we are to cut carbon emissions to acceptable levels the answers will come form scientists, engineers, architects and other technocrats working together. In order for technocrats to find solutions to the problem of climate change they need direction.

The way to give technocrats direction is to legislate standards. “By 2015 the maximum carbon emissions per gigawatt of power produced shall be …..”” By 2020 it shall be …… ” That is all the technocrats need to fix the problem. Given the standards that need to be met those with the expertise will find a way to meet them.

Politicians arguing about the price of carbon, or about planting more trees is totally pointless because I doubt if there is a single politician in the Australian Parliament who has the slightest understanding of the technological issues involved. Australian politicians are a bunch of Nero’s fiddling whilst the planet burns. Just pass the standards and let those who know what they are doing get on with it.

Another issue where the politicians need to step aside is the NBN. Malcolm Turnbull may have had a little to do with the internet when it was Web 1.0, a few simple text pages with no interactivity, but that was long ago. Now we have Web 2.0 with its social interaction and we are on the brink of Web 3.0.

3D printing linked to the Internet now makes it possible to download data from the other side of the world and ‘print’ (construct) the object locally. It may sound like science fiction but on-line shopping with the object we buy materialising in our homes without any physical delivery is now technically possible. What is technically possible now will be commonplace in a few years.

It will require a massive data transfer speeds for web 3.0 to work properly. Do any of our Pollies have the slightest idea how to deal with that one? Turnbull’s Web two and a half is not adequate to meet today’s needs and if the NBN is adequate when it is finished it will not be adequate for long. With the NBN it is a case of too much power is never enough.

What is need is for those who have the expertise to understand what is happening and make intelligent guesses about what form of internet we will need to be given the responsibility of telling our politicians what is really needed. If we mess this one up the results could be very expensive and potentially chaotic for Australia.

If the place of politicians in our live is examined we could well think that they are continually messing things up because they are constantly making insane statements and decisions about things they nothing about. They also prevent those who do know what they are doing getting on with it.

Our politicians know nothing about climate change. Our politicians know nothing about the Internet. They know very little about anything. But that does not prevent them from being good representatives of the people if they could remember what their position is supposed to be.

Politicians are not required to know the answers. Their job is to give direction, by way of legislation and according to the will of the people to those who do know what they are doing. Then it is the place of the politician to step aside and let it happen.

If politicians understood their place in a democracy and stop seeing politics as a stepping-stone to power we would all be much better off. We could also get things done.

Reference.

Vehicle Emissions Standards. Australian Government. Department of Infrastructure and Transport. .pdf file retrieved from https://www.infrastructure.gov.au/roads/environment/emission/index.aspx

Exploring Australian Democracy

Democracy is elusive because there is no definition to tell us what democracy is.

Democracy is not voting for a government each three years and leaving it to ‘them’ to rule us until the next election. That is just a series of time-limited dictatorships.

Doing whatever the majority of people vote for at any moment is not democracy. That is mob rule. And even mob rule is not the will of the majority.

We are all part of a minority. Mob rule is many minorities believing they have a common cause even though their rationale for thinking they support a common cause differs from the other minorities.

When thinking about democracy it is worth remembering that every one of us is in a minority. We are never in the majority. So if we are to have democracy it must be about minorities. If it is not it becomes a dictatorship suppressing minorities.

If we find a minority to blame for some perceived catastrophe we need to remember that next time it might be the minority we belong to blamed for things completely outside our control.

The strange thing here is that contrary to popular thinking a true democratic society is continually shifting groups of minorities working together for the greatest common good for any issue.

The biggest bar to a true democracy is that in order to make decisions the population has to be informed. That is a real problem. The last thing a politician needs is an informed population of minorities making considered choices for the common good.

Magee (1973, p.28) wrote;

Popper (Karl Popper) denies this. Any fool, he points out, can produce an indefinite number of predictions with a probability of 1 — propositions like “it will Rain” which practically bound to be true and can never be proved false—never, because however many millions of years go by without a drop of rain, it may still remain true that it will, one day rain. The probability of such statements is a maximum because the information content is nil, namely tautologies, which tells us nothing at all about the world because they are necessarily true regardless of the way things are.

The quote was about science but it is the principle on which our supposed democracy works. If information given to the people by politicians is sufficiently general it will always be true at some time. This is the perfect breeding ground for meaningless slogans that can never be proved untrue because they have the probability of 1 that sometime, somewhere, somehow they will be true.

What is missing in Australia’s version of democracy is content. Even with issues like climate change the content is zero in the public arena. Basically Australian democracy is a vacuum filled with predictions with no content but cannot be proved untrue.

It was part of Popper’s philosophy that the less content the harder it was to falsify. If we are to test content there has to be content.

The debate in Australia on climate change has no content. The debate the economy has no content. There is no content in the slogans about border security. Whenever there is any content provided by either major political party the other says ‘me too’ and there is no alternative to vote for. Without content democracy is an empty shell and that will lead to bad things.

When George Bush claimed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction the claims had no content, but that lack of content proved to be the reason it was impossible to prove Bush was mistaken and the US presentation to the UN was an example of using zero content masquerading as something in a way that could not be proved false.

The Australian election campaign is about nothing. Niether leader of the two major parties has any content to present to the Australian public. Who can be the cruelest to refugees is not about content it is about lack of content. If you have nothing to say or add find someone to blame. It saves the inconvenience of having to find real solutions to real issues.

Is there anyone out there who has the slightest idea what is happening with the economy? The pronouncements of Abbott and Rudd drown out anyone who might be able to add content to the debate,

According to those with the knowledge to add content human induced global warming is real. However the debate in Australia about global warming in Australia is not real because the politician’s slogans have no content and slogans is all the population hears.

The September election will be about slogans not content fought between two political parties that have nothing to offer and democracy in Australia will be dead because it will be devoid of content even if we continue to believe this is what democracy is about.

Reference.

Magee, B. (1973) Karl Popper. Modern Masters. New York, USA: Viking.