Tuesday 31 December 2019

New Year’s Eve Fireworks (Updated).

Fireworks began early today. It’s beyond the scope of this post to provide an extensive coverage. Here I offer only a few highlights.

Mallacoota, Victoria, at about 0733 AEDT:


A little later during the day:


Sunday 29 December 2019

Fires, Firies, and Fireworks (Updated).

Self employed and small and medium-sized business employees acting as volunteer firefighters for the NSW Rural Fire Services will receive up to $6,000 (tax free), at the rate of $300 per day, as compensation for income loss.

The announcement was made Sunday morning by Scott Morrison and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian during a press conference at the Sydney headquarters of the RFS. It comes after Morrison repeatedly dismissed calls to compensate firefighters for their losses. They were there because they wanted, Morrison said two weeks ago, to widespread criticism.

Wednesday 25 December 2019

On Faith, Heroes, and Hope.

I have faith in humanity. Coming from a self-described cynic, that profession of faith may sound contradictory. Maybe it is. I am aware of that.

Let me explain.

That faith is not based on believing all people good or heroic, smart or wise. Some clearly are not and will never be. It would take too much self-delusion, I think, to deny that in this movie there really are “bad” guys (I use scare quotes deliberately).

Saturday 14 December 2019

The War of the End of the World (Updated).


That’s a good representation of the sky over Sydney on Friday, December 6. It’s artistically composed and faithful to reality. Temperature had not risen much yet: at 1600 AEDT that day it was 27.4º C in Sydney, according to my little weather station (humidity: 57%).

That red, luminous disk is not the full Moon, although one could be forgiven to think otherwise (as people I spoke to afterwards, as a matter of fact, did). It wasn’t the Moon, because, for one, the real Moon was midway between new and full.

Monday 9 December 2019

Join the Fight!

It didn’t surprise me that Scott (“Duterte Knockoff”) Morrison and his errand boy Christian Porter reintroduced the Union-Bashing Bill on behalf of the big end of town. Like I said, Morrison is waging a class war on unions and workers and he will not stop willingly.

What did surprise me was that they rammed it through the Lower House of Parliament the week following their initial failure, before parliamentary break. You have to give it to them: the bastards know what they stand for. We could learn that from them.

Monday 2 December 2019

Meet the Quiet Australians (Updated).

Smart and experienced local political observers, like the ABC’s Laura Tingle, have thought long and hard about Scott Morrison’s “Quiet Australians”. They even went to the field to learn straight from them what makes them tick.

Readers might remember. During his election speech, Morrison appealed to the vote of those Quiet Australians to explain his May 18 surprising election victory (a little earlier he had also appealed to God’s miraculous intervention):

Wednesday 27 November 2019

Breaking: Union Busting Bill … Busted!

The COALition’s ironically titled “Ensuring Integrity Bill”, more appropriately known as Union Busting Bill, did not pass in the Senate, after the COALition bulldozed it in the Lower House.

Observers and pundits, as the COALition itself, were sure that abomination would pass (to be honest, so was I). Apparently, its leading promoter, the Attorney General and federal Industrial Relations Minister, Christian Porter, had even invited the press to a conference to crow about a victory they were already savouring.

Instead, Michele O’Neil (ACTU President) and the indefatigable Sally McManus (Secretary), after intense campaigning, had the last laugh.


Wednesday 20 November 2019

Come Clean, Rex Patrick (Updated).

ACTU’s radio ad asking Centre Alliance Senator Rex Patrick to explain his deal with the COALition to pass the Union Busting Bill.


Interestingly, today it was revealed that AUSTRAC, the Commonwealth financial intelligence agency, applied to the Federal Court to impose civil penalties on Westpac (one of Australia’s 4 largest commercial banks) over Westpac’s breaches of its anti-money laundering and terrorism financing obligations.


Sunday 17 November 2019

As it Happened.

The still above is part of a short video (1 minute and 10 seconds) produced by an ABC News crew last Tuesday November 12. I reckon in its brevity it captures and describes with eloquence the situation Australia and the world is going through right now.

I will ask readers to watch the video, but before that, study that image carefully.

Friday 15 November 2019

Have Peter Khalil and Anne Aly the Attention Span of a Goldfish?

What should pro-gun lobbyists say when a mass shooting takes place and the public demanded gun control laws?

Lars Dalseide, National Rifle Association of America (NRA) media liaison, taught his far-right One Nation visitors from Australia a tried and tested tactic applied successfully in the US in those situations:
Lars Dalseide: “ ‘How dare you stand on the graves of those children to put forward your political agenda?’ Just shame them to the whole idea.”
Steve Dickson, at the time One Nation QLD party leader: “I love that.”
Lars Dalseide: “It’s like, ‘If you, if your policy, isn’t good enough to stand on itself, how dare you use their deaths to push that forward?!’”
James Ashby, One Nation media advisor: “That’s very good, very strong.”

Sunday 10 November 2019

Is Earth Reaching a Tipping Point?

The Arctic isn’t a major concern to most Australians. I hope overseas readers won’t judge us too harshly for that: the Arctic is a long way away and we have plenty causes of concern closer to home:

NSW bushfires as seen from space, last Friday. (source)

Saturday 2 November 2019

Daniel Andrews: “An Outstanding Job” (II)

From "Gravis Tray" Facebook.

A few days ago, Daniel Andrews, Labor Premier of Victoria, could not find more words to condemn climate change protesters. As quoted by the ABC’s James Oaten:
“Premier Daniel Andrews described the actions of protesters as ‘appalling’ and ‘violent’. ‘[Protesters] are free to protest peacefully,’ Mr Andrews said. ‘What they're not free to do is to act the way they acted. It’s appalling conduct, absolutely appalling conduct. Violent conduct.”
Words, too, proved insufficient when it came for Andrews to praise the Victorian Police for its performance: “I think police have done an outstanding job.”

Friday 1 November 2019

Daniel Andrews: “An Outstanding Job”.

Observe the purple-headed woman in the screenshot above. She has her back partially turned to the Victorian Police officer who is raising his left arm (centre of the image). Indeed, the police are pushing her and other protesters away. She isn’t threatening anybody, least of all the officer himself. Note the fist. Go here to see the whole event developing (as the screenshot shows, a slow motion repeat starts at about 0:16-0:17).

Wednesday 30 October 2019

Police Brutality.

We have a problem in this country: The elite is untouchable, sacred. Everything and everybody else is fair game.

Yesterday Victorian Police limited itself to brutalising climate change protesters (other State police have manhandled old men and strip-searched teenage girls, presumably because they could carry WMDs in their vaginas). Today they decided that journalists, including a Chanel Seven reporter, were also a legitimate target. After all, they capture in images scenes Victorian Police don't want the public to see:

Monday 28 October 2019

Pleas for Help.

Entomology, the branch of zoology focusing on insects, is not a sexy area of research. As a consequence it has been relatively neglected. Yet, insects are vitally important for life.

Alarmingly, they are disappearing worldwide.

So neglected has been entomology that the credit for the first scientific confirmation of that disappearance can be attributed largely to Krefeld-based German amateur entomologists in a 2017 paper.

Australian scientists are attempting desperately to fill that gap. And it needs to be filled.

Saturday 26 October 2019

Climate Change as Threat to National Security.

A whiff of madness surrounds the Morrison freak show, their minions in the Commonwealth bureaucracy and sycophants in the Murdoch press-titute. The term "climate emergency" was banned, declared taboo, anathema. Caca.

And yet, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet

Climate change poses a 'direct threat' to Australia's national security. It must be a political priority

Climate change is expected to increase the severity of natural disasters in the Asia-Pacific region, straining Australia’s ability to respond through humanitarian missions and fuelling more climate migration. Vlad Sokhin/UNICEF handout
Chris Barrie, Australian National University
This is part of a new series looking at the national security challenges facing Australia, how our leaders are responding to them through legislation and how these measures are impacting society. Read the rest of the series here.

Friday 18 October 2019

The End of the World as We Know It?

To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time an article like Liam Mannix’s The End of the World as We Know It: Are we on the Brink of a Mass Extinction? (October 17) sees the light of the day in Australia. (If readers know of similar articles in overseas newspapers considered serious, please, let me know).

That it appears in The Sydney Morning Herald (although it has recently suffered financially, it remains our Antipodean equivalent of the The New York Times), suggests readers should read it.

Sunday 13 October 2019

Workers’ Mail: Morrison’s Kill the Unions Bill (Updated).

The working class has been reduced to this. Email from Michele O’Neil, ACTU President:

Two years ago Federal Police raided union offices in full view of the national media, who had been tipped off about the raids.
On Friday, the Federal Court ruled that the Registered Organisations Commission did not have reasonable grounds to organise the AFP raid of the AWU offices.
These raids should never have happened. The raids were not justified and were used as a political weapon against unions.
If the Ensuring Integrity Bill becomes law, the same Registered Organisations Commission who organised these discredited raids, will be given the power over a union’s very existence.

Monday 7 October 2019

Spring Rebellion.


Last week Peter Dutton, the federal Minister for Home Affairs (for overseas readers: a sort of Australian version of the US Department of Homeland Security), possibly on account of his experience as a Queensland Police Service officer, asked for climate change activists to be subject to mandatory criminal penalties, named and shamed, because they were a threat to the public.

Friday 4 October 2019

The Devil From Down Under (Updated).

We’ve all witnessed the Donald Trump/Scott Morrison bromance blooming. The mutual flattering (“Man of Titanium”  remark included), the hands held, the giggles; Morrison’s Trumpesque snubbing of the UN Climate Change Summit and his adopting of the equally Trumpian “fake news” and anti-globalist rhetoric.


It turns out that there was a string attached to that love affair: The Donald expects ScoMo to “investigate” Alexander Downer’s role in the beginning of the Mueller inquiry.­

Thursday 26 September 2019

The Anti-Thunberg Hysteria.

This year’s UN Climate Summit in New York came and went with little achieved and if something memorable came out of it it was the global protests preceeding it and Greta Thunberg’s scathing speech, delivered with impressive frankness and lucidity by a 16 year-old girl away from home, before the cameras and a huge audience of high-ranking strangers. And to top it all off, Thunberg, whose mother language is Swedish, made her speech in faultless English.

An admirable and articulate and brave young woman, if you ask me.

And brave and strong she will need to be for she, knowingly or not, is wearing the same bullseye Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib (US) or Jeremy Corbyn (UK) have been wearing for a while, the main difference being that Thunberg is young enough to be their daughter or even granddaughter.

Sunday 22 September 2019

UN Climate Action Summit: Shut Up, Australia.

A number of free-loaders countries, including Japan, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, the US, Japan, and South Africa will not be sending delegates/speaking at the UN Climate Action Summit to start next Monday in New York.

Scott Morrison’s Australia joined the ranks of international pariahs. Apparently, António Guterres, the UN Secretary General, wants speakers to have something substantial or at least truthful to say and Angus Taylor’s sophistry on GHG emissions reduction doesn’t make the cut (Taylor is the federal Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction).

I think Guterres is right. Wanna know why?

Tuesday 17 September 2019

The Gloves are Off: Global #ClimateStrike Next Friday.

The Global #ClimateStrike against climate change is set for next Friday.

Personally, I support the strike, intend to attend and I urge readers to join us. Readers can find further information on the strike in the SS4C website.

I think older generations have failed. Capitalism was bound to fail anyway, so its defenders, whether orthodox or heterodox, purists or reformers, were facing a hopeless task to begin with. So their failure to address climate change and its apocalyptic consequences is no surprise.

But we, socialists and workers, also failed. We failed in our attempts to create a better, more rational, sustainable society. And we are running out of time. There may not be another opportunity, thus there’s no time for despondency. That’s a luxury we can’t afford. It’s time to act, as we pray we are not too late.

Obvious Reason Why Wages Aren't Growing.

There's an obvious reason wages aren't growing, but you won't hear it from Treasury or the Reserve Bank

The most obvious reason for wage stagnation is the decline in unionisation over the past three decades. But you won’t hear that from government economists. www.shutterstock.com
David Peetz, Griffith University
Wages growth for Australian workers is among the worst in the industrialised world. For more than a third of workers on individual contracts, wages aren’t growing at all.

This is odd, given Australia is in a “record” 28th year of economic growth with apparently low unemployment and a supposedly strong economy.

Tuesday 10 September 2019

Workers' Mail: Support O-I Glass Strike.

From Sally McManus,

Last week I visited striking workers at O-I Glass. They have been on strike for nine weeks for a fair pay rise and they need your support.

All Australians need a pay rise. The Reserve Bank Governor says so, economists say so, even the government says pay rises are needed to keep the economy going. But as we know, pay rises don’t fall from trees - working people by being union, fight for them. These workers are taking up the fight against this multinational to break through for 3% - at least 3% is what the Reserve Bank says all of us need.

Saturday 7 September 2019

Take That, Bitches: Australia Burning.

A week into spring and Oz is burning in more than one way.

(Source. ABC News: Alistair Kroie)
Less than four months since the May 18 election victory of the COALition, predicated on their self-proclaimed reputation as matchless economic managers, the R-word is no longer the preserve of the perma-bear, chronically depressed, wild-eyed post Keynesian preaching on his pilgrimage to Mount Kosciuszko.

Thursday 5 September 2019

Rebellion in Hong Kong?

Frankly, I’m sceptical. If that photo isn’t enough to justify my scepticism, these may help. If still images aren’t enough, then these two short video clips in Dan Cohen’s Twitter thread could be.

But maybe images aren’t your thing. Well, Cohen’s article may be.

Personally, I found some data about the protesters useful. A team led by Prof. Francis L. F. Lee (School of Journalism and Communication, The Chinese University of Hong Kong) collected answers from participants in Hong Kong’s anti-extradition bill protests (website, report).

Thursday 29 August 2019

Global #ClimateStrike on September 20.

Email from the Nature Conservation Council:
Something groundbreaking is happening on September 20. For the first time in history, people across the world will walk out of work and school together for a global strike to demand action on the climate crisis.

Monday 26 August 2019

The Size of Hell.

The image photo below shows the Amazon fires: the red dots. NASA added the borders. I added the country and city names. Two tidbits of information to give readers an idea of the magnitude of those fires:
  1. the road distance between Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro (the two larger white spots towards the southeast) is some 450 kilometers; 
  2. the bold white line between Brazil and Uruguay is approximately 800 kilometers long.
Credit: NASA. Source

Was this man-made? From ABC News: "Experts say most of the fires are set by farmers or ranchers clearing existing farmland". Capitalism will still destroy us.

Saturday 24 August 2019

Amazon Rainforest Fire: Five Things you Need to Know.

Huge fires are raging across multiple regions
of the Amazon Basin. Guaira Maia/ISA

By Danilo Ignacio de Urzedo, University of Sydney
Record fires are raging in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest, with more than 2,500 fires currently burning. They are collectively emitting huge amounts of carbon, with smoke plumes visible thousands of kilometres away.

Fires in Brazil increased by 85% in 2019, with more than half in the Amazon region, according to Brazil’s space agency.

This sudden increase is likely down to land degradation: land clearing and farming reduces the availability of water, warms the soil and intensifies drought, combining to make fires more frequent and more fierce.

Friday 16 August 2019

Australia’s Capitalist Climate Change Diplomacy (2)

Locator map of Tuvalu. [A]

Previous to his political career as backstabber COALition federal leader, Scott Morrison’s professional experience was in tourism, marketing, public relations, advertising.

That experience shows in this week’s 50th Pacific Islands Forum in Tuvalu. In a moment you’ll understand.

Monday 12 August 2019

Being Ripped Off?

Or reaching the “heights of unlawfulness”.

In Australia, when we are not learning of workers being ripped off by their bosses, we learn of people on social security being ripped off by Centrelink.

As a service to readers of this blog, I’ve been researching what possible actions one can take in those cases. Here is a short list of resources.

Friday 26 July 2019

The Good Capitalist.

Some twenty five years ago I was going through a rough patch. In addition to difficult personal circumstances, I was broke. Much more to the point, I desperately needed a job.

That’s when I met Kevin (not his real name). Kevin hired me.

Before that meeting, I would describe myself as no more than vaguely leftish. After it, I was on my way to becoming a Marxist.

But this is not your usual Dickensian tale of misery.

Sunday 21 July 2019

The Week That Was: Economic Parasitism.

Slavery was profitable to the slaveholder because slaves produced more for him than what he spent in their maintenance. Masters didn’t pay slaves their labour. Of what slaves produced in their labour time, a fraction went to their maintenance; the master kept the rest for himself. That much is evident, even to economists.

Things are evident, too, in the case of medieval serfs (although here I wouldn’t be surprised one had to draw a picture for economists, usually ignorant of history). During a part of their working week serfs worked the land his lord allocated to their maintenance; the rest of the week they worked the land the lord reserved for himself.

Those remarks are useful to understand contemporary Australia.

Saturday 13 July 2019

Quo Vadis Australia?

Although under the extremely competent management of the COALition (particularly of Treasurer Josh Frydenberg), the Australian economy, ungrateful that it is, is not doing well. It is not for nothing, I suppose, the RBA has cut interest rates to historical lows … twice … in two consecutive months.

But how worried should Australians be?

Well, I am no expert. It would be hard for me to say. So, I decided to find out what the experts have to say.

The problem is that they give conflicting messages. Philip Lowe, for instance, the RBA governor,  says everything is under control. Steve Keen, however, believes there is a 95% probability of a recession in the next two years.

That, as readers might have guessed, left me uneasy.

Monday 8 July 2019

This is Why the COALition is Victorious (Updated).

There’s class warfare, all right. But it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning -- Warren Buffett.

As reported here over a week ago, the Morrison government is again launching an offensive against the organised trade union movement. John Setka and the CFMEU are the pretext du jour chosen to justify their eternal class war on workers on behalf of capitalists.

Just today the alliance of coal-mining big business and their political cheerleaders achieved another victory against workers


Friday 5 July 2019

The No-Surprises Country.

Labor’s electoral defeats aside, Australia is a most predictable place.

Tuesday the House of Representatives passed the “Morrison” income tax cuts and to no one’s surprise Thursday night it was the turn of the Senate, where it passed with no amendment whatsoever. The COALition, with the complicity of every party and independent (the Greens and independent Tasmanian MP Andrew Wilkie excepted) ruthlessly threw four out of every ten Australians under the bus. Australians like this young couple and their infant son:

(Frankly, I’m not interested in Josh Frydenberg’s sophistry. The less I see his ugly, porcine mugshot, the better. I don’t care either about Anthony Albanese’s spin.)

Saturday 29 June 2019

Take that, Bitches (2)


Another matter the COALition government is readying itself to tackle is industrial relations/labour laws. Unlike the “Morrison” tax cuts -- virtually their only proposal -- they never said a word about IR in the election campaign. In fact and to the best of my knowledge, with the partial exception of Georgina Downer, Liberal candidate for the seat of Mayo (South Australia), the COALition carefully avoided that subject. (It was a sensible decision, too: Downer lost to Centre Alliance’s Rebekha Sharkie.)

Sunday 23 June 2019

Another Nail in Labor’s Coffin?

When Parliament reconvenes next month the first order of business will be the “Morrison” personal income tax cuts. In fact, a legacy of Malcolm Turnbull, the “Morrison” cuts were proposed slightly over a year ago -- when Turnbull was PM and Scott Morrison was federal Treasurer -- together with a bill cutting corporate taxes. Given the numbers in Parliament at the time, Turnbull had to dump the corporate cuts and months later the COALition dumped him and the Treasurer was promoted to PM.

The personal cuts weren’t particularly popular either. Labor opposed that bill then. But Labor lost the election. The COALition won. Parliament numbers changed.

During the elections, other than opposing every single proposal Labor put forward, virtually the COALition’s only proposal was the personal cuts.

So, what should be Labor’s stance on that issue now? Should they oppose that bill? Should they support it?

Tuesday 11 June 2019

Police State: is This the New Normal?

In Australia, freedoms of speech and press are not constitutionally protected.

Last week the Australian Federal Police, which reports to Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton -- himself a representative of the COALition far Right and former policeman -- legally raided the Canberra home of journalist Annika Smethurst (News Corp Australia) and the offices of the ABC.

Both  Dutton and Prime Minister Scott Morrison deny previous knowledge of the raids, and, whether by accident or design, both were in official visits overseas when they took place, all but out of reach of the media. They claim the raids were instigated by the higher echelons of the defense and police bureaucracies acting with absolute independence of their political bosses, the relevant ministers (Dutton being one of them).

Criminal charges against leakers and journalists (and, presumably, against their publishers although no one really expects News Corp being charged) have not been ruled out.

Friday 7 June 2019

Getting all Tied Up (5)

This series considers Paul Mason’s “Risks are ‘a Thing’… and so is the Death of Capitalism”, a critique of MMT.

In the previous post I argued that Mason’ s choice of Prof. Ferguson’s views as emblematic of the theoretical differences between Marxism and MMT was problematic.

Thus, so far in this series I’ve focused on things I believe Mason got wrong. But it’s time to go into the things he got right.

There may not be a theoretically “irreconcilable split” between Marxism and MMT, as Ferguson claims. However, to me and in terms of policy recommendation, things look different. Mason pointed to this passage in Ferguson’s article
“Rather it [MMT] implicitly de-prioritizes gravity’s causality in political and economic processes, showing how the ideal conditions the real via money’s distributed pyramidal structure”.
That was a good choice.

Tuesday 4 June 2019

Take that, Bitches.

In the wake of the botched Hayne Royal Commission on Banking, yesterday the RBA finally decided to cut interest rates to a historical low of 1.25%: a drop of 25 basis points.

The RBA governor, Philip Lowe, using the insipid bureaucratese spoken at the RBA, explained that was meant to “help make further inroads into the spare capacity in the economy”, which in English means something like they are trying to start the faltering economy run by those clowns who just got re-elected on their claims of being great economic managers.

The idea is to make loan repayments to banks more affordable to consumers and investors, to try and avoid a recession.

Monday 3 June 2019

Election Post Mortem.

Why did the Australian Labor Party lose the “unlosable” 2019 federal elections is the question keeping all and sundry busy lately.

That I’ve seen, the best take on that question by far came from Annabel Crabb, the ABC’s chief political writer. Those who know me may say that’s predictable -- it’s no secret to them I’m her fan.

Friday 31 May 2019

Getting all Tied Up (4)

This series considers Paul Mason’s “Risks are ‘a Thing’… and so is the Death of Capitalism”, a critique of MMT.

In the previous post I argued that Prof. Tcherneva’s quote doesn’t support Mason’s “finding” of a monetary theory of value native to MMT.

To buttress his case on the alleged differences between MMT and Marxism Mason invokes Prof. Scott Ferguson’s article “Some Remarks on MMT & Marxism”, from where Mason takes this quote, which, in his opinion, sums up neatly said differences:
Marxism assumes that money is a private, alienating, and crisis-ridden exchange relationship that ought to be overcome. Yet MMT holds money to be a boundless public utility that, while by no means untroubled, is well-equipped to actualize radical collectivist ends.
Ferguson’s views on the differences between Marxism and MMT are the subject of this post.

Sunday 26 May 2019

Workers’ Mail: “We Are Not Going Away”.

It ain’t over until it’s over, for Australian workers and for kids fighting for climate change action. Yep, we got knocked down. But we get up again. As that old Chumbawamba song says: They’re never gonna keep us down.

First, Sally McManus’ message to us, workers and trade union members:

Friday 24 May 2019

Getting all Tied Up (3)

This series considers Paul Mason’s “Risks are ‘a Thing’… and so is the Death of Capitalism”, a critique of MMT.

Mason believes to have detected in MMT a monetary theory of value. In the previous post I argued that is just a mirage. So, where did he take a wrong turn?

Much like Marxists, MMTers write a lot. Out of the ever expanding MMT literature, academic and popular, this single sentence, taken from one of Prof. Pavlina Tcherneva’s papers, is the smoking gun proving the existence of an MMT ToV: “since the currency is a public monopoly, the government has at its disposal a direct way of determining its value (Mason’s emphasis).

Wednesday 22 May 2019

What’s Wrong with the CFMEU-QLD?

In the aftermath of these disastrous federal elections, that is a question that all of us, Australian workers and trade union members who took to social media and attended rallies and street protests and donated our money and our time by volunteering should be asking ourselves.

Under the leadership of Sally McManus and Michele O’Neil, we proudly fought back against the COALition’s class warfare against workers all over Australia. We campaigned to see an end to the COALition’s endless efforts to erode our wages and our working conditions. We did that not only in our own names, but in the names of all workers in this country.

Sunday 19 May 2019

Why Didn’t Anyone See it Coming?

That’s not the question talking heads are asking; they are busy thinking about the whys and hows of the election results. Deep thoughts.

However, they should stop and ask themselves precisely that question. More precisely, how come Newspoll, YouGov/Galaxy, Ipsos, Essential, and Roy Morgan, all trusted opinion pollsters, could miss so badly the result of the 2019 election?

Aggregate of two-party-preferred election polling for the 2019 Australian federal election. [A]

Saturday 18 May 2019

Elections: the Morning After.


It’s a good thing that, in the great scheme of things, Australia is not a major CO2 emitter and, therefore, the solution to the looming climate catastrophe (to say nothing of the simultaneous mass extinction) does not depend on Australia.

Friday 17 May 2019

Getting all Tied Up (2)

This series considers Paul Mason’s “Risks are ‘a Thing’… and so is the Death of Capitalism”, a critique of MMT.

The previous post discussed Mason’s political doubts about tying the Green New Deal to MMT. Although that is evidently an urgent concern, by itself it has little theoretical implications for Marxists. The focus of this and the next posts are the two subheadings “What does MMT say?”, “What’s wrong with MMT?”, where Mason expresses his views on what MMT is.

Tuesday 14 May 2019

Dorman è Mobile, Qual Piuma al Vento.

You've got to love petty bourgeois intellectuals.

Peter Dorman on May 10

In a Marxian view of the world, the class structure of a given society generates a set of objective interests. Classes are constituted in part through their shared interests, and the ideological/purposive aspect pertains to becoming a class for itself and not just in itself. The role of ideas is to transform objective into perceived and then mobilizing interests.
That’s a rather deterministic conception of politics, to put it mildly. (...).
Marx’ theory of class interest is too schematic and incomplete even on its own terms.

Saturday 11 May 2019

Living Beyond the Planet’s Means.

Or killing the goose that laid the golden eggs.


This is as much an attempt to explain the predicament humanity is facing right now to economists and politicians and journalists -- fixated as they are on Government budgets -- as it is to the wider public.

Thursday 9 May 2019

Getting all Tied Up.

(right-click to open a larger image in a separate tab)

The big and tiresome MMT versus everybody else punch-up seems to be abating. Finally. Readers may guess the whole thing has left me unimpressed.

But my expectations about the part of the debate involving mainstream economists were low to begin with, so their bit in the debate didn’t surprise me. What surprised me, in the worst possible way, was how awful the MMT/Marxists debate was.

Commenting recently on that, Prof. Bill Mitchell, one of MMT founders, writes that Marxists are getting all tied up on MMT.

As both a Marxist and a sort of MMT sympathiser, I reached the conclusion he is right, unfortunately. But there’s more to that.

Tuesday 7 May 2019

This is the Situation.

Those more circumspect may dislike what they are about to read. However, I don’t think it inaccurate to conclude that our planet is dying, capitalism is killing it and we have little time to do something to avoid that.


Monday 6 May 2019

Can You Trust These People?

Can you trust fanatical free-marketeer ideologues from the Institute of Public Affairs Liberal politicians?


What would account for that miraculous change of heart?

Friday 3 May 2019

Bits and Pieces: Aussie Elections.


A perennial whinge of liberal/Leftish middle-class intellectuals, at least in rich English-speaking countries, is the torpitude and turpitude of their local “(white) working class”. Because of its innate intellectual and moral weakness, the “(white) working class” must of necessity subordinate itself to a higher authority. Luckily, that authority is precisely the one those esteemed intellectuals are selflessly willing to provide.

Wednesday 1 May 2019

How Much is your Child’s Life Worth to You?

A few days ago Christian Stöcker (Der Spiegel Online, April 26) proposed his readers a thought experiment. Before casting their votes in the next elections, Australian readers would do well to think about it:
Imagine this: You and your partner have a child of primary-school age with a rare hereditary disease. By the time they’re 18, they will begin to experience increasingly severe pain and other unpleasant side effects. Their life expectancy will be severely reduced.

Monday 29 April 2019

Indonesia: Overwork Kills more Than 270 in 10 Days.

Those guys were lifted from poverty and the Government saved money in the process: the twin goals of globalisation. Right now Australian employers and Scott Morrison must be drawing plans to replicate that achievement here.

Friday 26 April 2019

Workers’ Mail: ACTU’s TV Ad Campaign.

Email from Sally McManus:
Today we’re launching the biggest ad campaign we have ever run. And we wanted you to see it first. [link to adds page]
This election is about deciding what sort of Australia we want to be. We can either lock in US-style low wages & inequality or Change the Rules.
Our TV ads give voice to millions of working people that are experiencing insecure work & stagnant wages.
Can you help us get this ad on TV by chipping in here? [link to donate page]
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Don’t get me wrong. I don’t claim McManus is a Commie. In spite of which, I think she is doing a very good job. Much better than the Australian norm.

If readers can, please, consider donating. Alternatively, volunteering is also appreciated.

In the name of our families, friends and communities, in the name of our environment and our future, it’s time to stop the Morrison corrupt gang of leeches of the leeches and their Murdoch presstitute cheerleaders. Remember Menindee and Adani. Remember the impunity for banking scammers. Remember Barnaby Joyce’s 80 million bucks #Watergate. Remember the weekend penalty rates cuts for us and the tax cuts for their rich patrons.

Friday 19 April 2019

Oceania: Extinction.

Lake Gunn, New Zealand. [A]

Aotearoa New Zealand, much like Australia, is a rich country. Much more than Australia, NZ is world-famous for its astounding natural beauty and its blessed climate. Even if readers never visited it, film franchises like The Lord of the Rings have showcased its magnificent natural scenery.

That beauty, peacefulness (somewhat tainted now by the recent and regrettable Christchurch events), and geographical isolation have made of NZ attractive to many. Just a couple of years ago, even Silicon Valley billionaires -- most notably Peter Thiel -- “discovered” NZ as a kind of “apocalypse insurance” or, as I prefer to call it, up-market Doomsday prepping destination.

Tuesday 16 April 2019

Unfrequently Asked Questions: What’s the Lumpenproletariat?

Reading Marx and Engels one sometimes find the terms “Lumpenproletariat” and “Aristocracy of Labour”. In some ways the mirror image of each other, those concepts seem to be much more prominent in the writings of later Marxists than in those of Marx and Engels.

But what are they? We’ll leave Aristocracy of Labour for another opportunity. So, what is the Lumpenproletariat?

Monday 15 April 2019

Bits and Pieces: is the Government the Problem or the Solution?

I’m sure readers have heard libertarians and free-marketeers roaring or wailing -- fire in their hearts or tears in their eyes -- that the Government is not the solution, but the problem. Lefties (Anarchists and similar excepted), on the other hand, sing hymns to the virtues of Government intervention.

Who is right (lower case)? The Right or the Left?

Sorry, fellow Lefties. At least in Australia, Righties have good reason to believe the Government is crap. Believe it or not.

Friday 12 April 2019

Liberal Democracy and Ideology as Farce.

I believe liberal democracy, at least as practiced in Western advanced nations, is a farce. I’m sure readers have noticed. In fact, I suspect many would agree.

Some, however, may object to that.

Well, I’ll attempt to substantiate my claim. To that end I’ll use a local example. Overseas readers are free to judge whether that kind of thing could happen in their own places of residence.

Thursday 11 April 2019

Australian Workers? Present!

The ACTU #ChangeTheRules Melbourne rally yesterday was, by all accounts, a success. Estimates put the crowd at tens of thousands, maybe over one hundred thousand, attendants. We are talking about workers from a number of unions, white and non-white, whether born in Australia or overseas, presumably of all religions and identities. Kids from the School Strike 4 Climate, I believe, were also present, together with vegans from the Monday protest.


Tuesday 9 April 2019

The Australian Comedy in Three Headlines.

What a difference a day makes.
Twenty four little hours.

This was news earlier today (check the times in the following screenshots):


Wednesday 27 March 2019

Bits and Pieces: Workers’ Mail.

Sally McManus, Secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), is promoting the Change The Rules campaign and calling workers to take part in it. On April 10 the ACTU is taking to the streets with a national political protest for fair wage rises and better job security.

The campaign received a significant boost recently when Bill Shorten, Federal Opposition Leader, committed Labor to replace the minimum wage with a living wage.

Can we count on you to be there?

Friday 22 March 2019

Elections in NSW.

Today is election day in New South Wales. As citizens, we are asked to choose among alternatives often hard to distinguish.

In NSW the main socialist party is the Socialist Alliance. These are their policies. They publish the Green Left Weekly. I sympathise with them, without fully embracing that option. In electoral terms their chances are reduced. I’d give them the highest preference, not because I’d expect them to win, but to send a message: if my higher preference is not elected, the vote “flows” to the lower preferences.

My second preference could involve the Greens.

Sunday 17 March 2019

The Gods Must be Crazy.

Capitalism in crisis? Never! Things are getting better and better.

Don’t believe me?

For one, Trump now is defending Clinton.

Saturday 16 March 2019

Sydney: Schools Strike 4 Climate.

Before commenting on the Schools Strike 4 Climate, I would like to express my solidarity to our New Zealand friends and neighbours in this dark hour and especially to the Kiwi Islamic community. To my deepest shame and regret, an Australian was involved.

Thursday 14 March 2019

The Children’s Crusade.

(Source. Credit: NSW Aboriginal Land Council)

The Darling disaster affected locals. Towns and isolated homesteads lost their water supply and with it their future existence was endangered. In addition to that, Aboriginal nations are seeing their ancestral land for tens of thousands of years destroyed.

They are among the first Australian human victims of climate change.

Saturday 9 March 2019

The Inmates are Running the Asylum.

I live here. What happens in New South Wales and Australia has to interest me. Overseas readers, however, may feel differently.

Ultimately, it’s up to them, but I still think this subject shall be relevant to readers abroad.

It’s not just parochialism that compels me to write about the Murray-Darling Basin. As climate changes, rain patterns are bound to change. Rain is bound to become scarce in areas where it was abundant. I’ve presented this chart before:
(source: PDF)
This nightmare may be coming soon to rural areas near you. If Australia is any indication, the future of our species is bleak.

Tuesday 5 March 2019

Australia: Is Decoupling THE Solution?

Things got hot (pun intended) last Sunday for Barrie Cassidy and Angus Taylor (COALition MP). Cassidy, host of Insiders, interviewed Taylor via remote link. Whether by design or chance, I can’t tell, but that may have saved Cassidy much grief.

The interview soon veered towards the subject of the COALition Government’s record on greenhouse gas emissions reduction. You see, the Commonwealth compiles and periodically releases data on that (with an unexplained delay). The latest release includes yearly data only to 2016, but quarterly data to the September 2018 quarter.


Above you see a screen capture of the latest official data release’s webpage.

Saturday 2 March 2019

Only in Shtraya, Mite.

Out on its own: Australia the only country to use climate funding to upgrade coal-fired plants
Green finance experts say Australia is out of step with World Bank, Europe and the US, which are using funding to combat global warming
By Adam Morton, March 1, 2019 04.00 AEDT

Told yah so: moolah for the mates.

Wednesday 27 February 2019

Unnoticed Death.


This was a deadly summer for Australian fauna.

In this blog I’ve reported a number of animal mass death tolls ranging from a few tens of large mammals (wild horses and donkeys) and hundreds of birds, to hundreds of thousands of cattle and maybe millions of fish, with intermediate numbers ranging in their thousands or tens of thousands for wild camels and flying foxes and farm chickens.

Monday 25 February 2019

ScoMo Speaks his Mind.

(source, sort of)

If the people behind Macquarie Dictionary ever decide to produce an illustrated dictionary, they can’t go wrong if they use Scott Morrison’s photo to illustrate the definition of “bullshitter”. It also works for the phrase “full of shit”.

Sunday 24 February 2019

Parallel Lives.

(Right-click to open in a separate tab)

I think it fair to say that as recently as last year, Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) was largely a preserve of a few respected but otherwise obscure academics outside of the mainstream. Active on social media, the founders (for lack of a better word) over time gathered a growing band of online enthusiasts, a few of them extremely qualified and talented[*], a great majority merely vocal, and another minority equally loud and barely distinguishable from the majority, except in one respect: their interest in self-promotion.[$]

Nothing of that involves a judgement on the theoretical merits (or lack thereof) of MMT. Frankly, that’s well above my pay grade. Rather, that’s a statement of fact, however simplified, general, or blunt: fairly or not, MMT was at the fringe, generally ignored by mainstream pundits, to say nothing of economists. Worse, whenever that unspoken rule was broken and MMT was at all mentioned, it was with a sort of condescending dismissal.

Friday 22 February 2019

Bits and Pieces: “Perfect Storm” Edition.


It may be silly, but I am relieved this hellish Australian summer is all but over.

And there are good news. On the plus side, a few local events, apparently of global relevance, give some reason to rejoice.

The first one happened on February 8.

Friday 15 February 2019

Why I Have no Faith in Leftish/Liberal Intellectuals.

So far, New South Wales had been spared the bushfires that in the last three months devastated all the other east coast states of Australia: Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania. No longer:

Crews rush to contain northern NSW bushfires before hot spell arrives
  • Firefighters working through the weekend as blaze destroys 22 homes and damages 15
By Australian Associated Press, Sat 16 Feb 2019 09.14 AEDT

After a PR exercise meant to highlight their conservationist bona fide and save some 100 Murray cods, after leaving hundreds of thousands if not millions to die, WaterNSW decreed the death of the Lower Darling, to free more water for large irrigators in northern NSW and southern QLD:

All the Lower Darling's fish 'could be dead by the end of summer', 
with flows from lakes now cut
By ABC 7.30 and national rural and regional correspondent Dominique Schwartz and the Specialist Reporting Team's Penny Timms. Updated Thursday at 2:50pm

And here I have to deal with American liberal/leftish intellectuals. Madness may be infectious.

Thursday 14 February 2019

Sydney Research: Insect Population’s Catastrophic Collapse.

The recently published article “Worldwide decline of the entomofauna: A review of its drivers”, by Francisco Sánchez-Bayo from the Sydney Institute of Agriculture in the School of Life and Environmental Sciences (University of Sydney), and Kris A.G. Wyckhuys (University of Queensland and the Institute of Plant Protection, China Academy of Agricultural Sciences) has received abundant popular news media coverage and it has created justified anxiety among the public.

I think it is always a good idea to refer readers to the source. So, these are the highlights of the paper and its abstract, verbatim:

  • Over 40% of insect species are threatened with extinction.
  • Lepidoptera, Hymenoptera and dung beetles (Coleoptera) are the taxa most affected.
  • Four aquatic taxa are imperiled and have already lost a large proportion of species.
  • Habitat loss by conversion to intensive agriculture is the main driver of the declines.
  • Agro-chemical pollutants, invasive species and climate change are additional causes.

Friday 8 February 2019

Malcolm Harris: “Kids These Days”.

This is a different post. It may sound too pessimistic, even by my own already pessimistic standards, but that’s not what makes it different. What makes it different it that this is also a rather personal post. That may make it less than interesting to the general reader. More sensitive readers may find it depressing.

At any rate, I understand if they leave at this point.

Menindee Lakes: Chronicle of a Death Foretold.

While we were distracted by the Banking Royal Commission fizzer -- which not for predictable was less attention-grabbing -- Michael McCormack and Niall Blair demonstrated why they are successful politicians and why it will take radical changes to our society if we want to save the Australian environment and our civilisation and ourselves.

Yesterday the news started with a PR exercise: