Better-Management Newsletter

Better-Management Newsletters keep you up to date with vital world issues. 

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Better-Management Newsletter 25 August

 A long list of issues and events that describe the world’s economies slumping.

Insurance companies and pension funds are looking ahead at a revenue crisis as global interest rates continue to fall trashing their incomes as payout demands increase.  Everyone (with any sort of wealth) is looking to find a place to invest their cash so they can get a yield…even banks…

http://www.caseyresearch.com/articles/will-your-bank-survive-the-coming-financial-crisis

 Almost every second article I see is talking about rushing into gold and gold shares instead of cash and even as a replacement for growth shares (given few are growing).  But I won’t bore you with the detail although gold prices are slipping, the trend is firming up.

Meanwhile crash alert alarms are ringing as most major investors start talking about the inevitability of a major downturn… just when would that occur?

Europe

 Even the big banks cannot see how ECB negative interest rates will do other than harm to the EU economy…

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/08/24/deutsche-boss-negative-interest-rates-are-fatal/

And even RBS wants to pass the costs down the chain…

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-08-24/derivatives-users-hit-as-negative-rates-raise-collateral-costs

The Rothschilds are getting deeper into gold as a result of poor bond yields and share risk, from DR…

“The Rothschild family’s listed investment fund is cutting its exposure to stocks from 55% to 44%. Lord Rothschild said that close to a tenth of his personal money and client’s money is now in gold and precious metals.

Lord Rothschild said that the UK’s low interest rates were ‘the greatest experiment in monetary policy in the history of the world.’ He added:

‘We are therefore in uncharted waters and it is impossible to predict the unintended consequences of very low interest rates, with some 30 per cent of global government debt at negative yields, combined with quantitative easing on a massive scale…preservation of capital in real terms continues to be as important an objective as any.’”

If Lord Rothschild thinks UK’s ultra-low interest rates are crazy, what about the USD15 trillion of bonds at negative interest rates elsewhere in everywhere from Japan, Switzerland, Germany and Scandanavia?

Aside from the ravages of BREXIT, there are good reasons why the Eurozone is doomed…

http://seekingalpha.com/article/4001179-eurozone-certain-fail-according-stiglitz?source=email_macro_view_eco_3_19&ifp=0

The three big EZ countries held a summit to show that Europe is great and they are running Europe… Germany, Italy and France.  I wonder what countries like The Netherlands and Spain think about that?

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-europe-crisis-meeting-idUSKCN10W0CO

But how firm is the French resolve?

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/08/24/french-support-for-the-eu-project-is-crumbling-on-the-left-and-r/

If you check out how Italy and France have fared from the Eurozone project compared with Germany – as contained in a graph on the following article on Italy – you can see they may not have much in common…

http://ggc-mauldin-images.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/pdf/OTB_Aug_24_2016.pdf

And Angela Merkel doesn’t seem very sympathetic to the rule changes that Matteo Renzi needs to sort out banking woes in Italy…

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-08-22/merkel-tells-renzi-he-can-t-bend-euro-rules-to-boost-growth

Meanwhile the ECB forgets about unintended consequences and sets about buying company debt to stimulate the EU economy.  Aside from potentially being illegal, this practice can best be described as risky.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/sellers-paradise-companies-build-bonds-for-central-bank-to-buy-1471815100

CME’s Chief Economist, Blu Putnam thinks the EU has some very complex problems emerging…post the BREXIT vote…

http://www.cmegroup.com/education/featured-reports/european-unions-rocky-road-ahead-to-brexit.html

As George Friedman points out in the Mauldin article attached below, the Middle East is on fire and Europe is in the firing line.  Meanwhile Hungary plans to hold a referendum on rejecting EU refugee quotas….so all is definitely not well.  In fact, the attacks in Germany are forcing a change in the personal freedoms people are allowed and the reintroduction of precautions that were once only applicable in war time…

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-37155060

We can talk about Russia and Putin’s game plan in the next email.

 The USA

Corporate debt is soaring (according to Weiss Research soon to hit USD75 trillion in the USA) as is the plight of the little guy…the folks who vote for Donald Trump….

Also from Weiss, Paul Singer the hedge fund manager and billionaire joins the list of billionaires predicting imminent doom and gloom in the markets…

“He said the overall bond market is “broken” and that “the ultimate breakdown (or series of breakdowns) from this environment is likely to be surprising, sudden, intense, and large.”

But I am starting to wonder as the signs are that derivatives are being brought under better control…or are we being duped?

Through the eyes of the little guy as per this auto loans skit from the UK… if only it was just auto loans?  Weiss says that 31% of auto loans are delinquent.  This is the same scenario for credit card debt and student loans too…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4U2eDJnwz_s&feature=youtu.be

This gives a better picture…not better as such, but certainly clearer …

http://www.mauldineconomics.com/connecting-the-dots/the-stressed-out-tapped-out-american-consumer

The numbers who live on the fringes seem to be growing…

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/22/us/as-homeless-find-refuge-in-forests-anger-is-palpable-in-nearby-towns.html?_r=0

and in some areas, squatters are considered desirable…why?

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-08-23/what-detroit-needs-now-more-squatters

The government accounts in the USA are a mess as this article testifies…

http://thecrux.com/shocking-government-report-finds-6-5-trillion-in-taxpayer-funds-unaccounted-for/

However, all government and local government accounting that I have come across in the OECD suffers from the need to account for the success of political policies, rather than generally accepted accounting practice (GAAP).

North of the border in Canada there are two cities (Toronto and Vancouver) where the Chinese property buying has inflated market prices in the extreme.  They are worth watching because there are indications that their crash may come before our own in Auckland, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne…

http://seekingalpha.com/article/4001484-canadian-houses-traded-like-hot-stocks-may-soon-drop-like-hot-potatoes?source=email_macro_view_edi_pic_4_6&ifp=0

China

The UK is suddenly finding itself sandwiched between the Chinese drilling in the North Sea and wanting to build Hinkley Atomic Power Station and Russia supplying both oil and gas to supplement what its own resources and Norway provides.  This has led to the strategic realisation that the UK energy supplies are strategically compromised.   London has put the Hinkley development on hold and the Chinese are “dirty” about being rumbled.  The Rockman’s comment about the article on CNOOC in the North Sea echoes my own opinion …

http://peakoil.com/publicpolicy/china-takes-control-of-north-sea-oil-drilling

But China has its own economic problems…

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/08/22/china-caught-in-dead-money-trap-as-central-bank-plead-for-fiscal/

Japan

 Buying bonds is bad enough and distorts bond values, but the Bank of Japan buying shares creates huge distortions both between companies and for the share market as a whole….

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-japan-stocks-boj-idUSKCN10X29O?il=0

Money

 Bitcoin seems to be getting plenty more competition from the banks…I wonder how their Blockchain will work and how this will play out? From Seeking Alpha…

Four major banks have teamed up with broker ICAP (OTCPK:IAPLF) to create a digital currency called the “utility settlement coin.” UBS (NYSE:UBS), Deutsche Bank (NYSE:DB), Santander (NYSE:SAN) and BNY Mellon (NYSE:BK), as well as ICAP, hope that the currency will become an industry standard used to clear and settle financial trades. The project is competing with similar initiatives from the likes of Citibank (NYSE:C), Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) and JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM).

Tesla

Are Elon and the Rive brothers kissing cousins?  If I owned any Tesla shares I would be worried about the SolarCity deal…from Seeking Alpha…

Elon Musk is buying $65M of bonds from SolarCity (NASDAQ:SCTY) in the latest debt issue by the money losing solar-panel company that Musk’s Tesla (TSLA) plans to buy for $2.6B. SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive and CTO Peter Rive, who are brothers and Musk’s cousins, are each buying $17.5M of the $124M offer”

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Better-Management Newsletter 3 August

 This newsletter focuses on financial manipulations, in particular, banks.

Australia and New Zealand each has an investment banker as Prime Minister.  Neither is serving us well.  Neither is avoiding the worst pitfalls of the 2008 GFC.  They should be speaking against the manipulation of the global financial system but as beneficiaries of the problems we now face, we are likely to wake up and find we have put the wolf in charge of the hen-house.

There are all sorts of government-sanctioned scams that no-one is meant to talk about….try these two…

 Share markets

The first is allowing share-market operators to provide index statistics over multiple years that are biased and blatantly wrong.  The missing aspect of published indexes is that they have been adjusted for something called the “survivability bias”.

In New Zealand a large percentage of the top 50 index failed and went bust as a result of the 1987 crash and yet as the companies were failing, they were taken out of the index and replaced with profitable ones.  For folk wondering whether shares are a good bet, you would think they outperformed the bonds and property market.  That of course is a blatant lie if you add back the losses.

In Europe this year, we have just seen the disgraceful spectacle of fraudulent “bank stress tests”.  The markets had already done their own tests and believed Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse were on a slippery slope so marked down their share prices hugely.  The net result was for these two huge organisations to be taken off the Stoxx Europe 50 index and replaced with better performing organisations…

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-08-01/deutsche-bank-credit-suisse-kicked-out-stoxx-europe-50-index

This will cause their shares to fall further as some funds are only allowed to invest in Stoxx top 50 listed shares/

Banking

Our politicians are meant to provide a level playing field and yet they continually move the playing field by either inflating the currency base and by altering interest rates.  Quantitative easing is a way of printing extra money to advantage one sector of the community over all those with savings.  The same goes for reducing interest rates.  That makes it stupid to save and sensible to go into debt (in the short term –long term, that is financial suicide.  These are ways of robbing Peter to pay Paul, in the full knowledge that the politicians can then always rely on Paul’s vote in the elections.

The RBA has just reduced the official cash rate in Australia to 1.5%p.a, the lowest for 50 years.  It is about getting people to borrow and using others’ savings for the purpose.  How long will it be before the Australian public are required to pay to hold their money in the banking system?  Will the RBNZ follow suit?

In NZ we have an organisation called the FMA to regulate and be a watchdog for investments in such things as retirement savings accounts, banks, finance houses and insurance companies.  But IMHO they are simply a creature of Government and a toady of big banks and big business.  They are there to give confidence to financial markets, where we can always expect them to be toothless.  After the next crash a new organisation will be set up to replace the FMA.  That is just a cynical process of politicians passing the buck and then blaming others for the calamities caused by their interference in the economy.  Folk who have funds in KiwiSaver and various financial institutions need to be aware that in the current state of general global insolvency, their funds will always be used as a political tool regardless of the warm words of the governments in power.

The Italian banks are meant to be reasonably sound, yet all their major banks would be considered insolvent if proper international accounting standards were being applied.

http://thecrux.com/chris-mayer-this-crisis-should-be-on-your-radar/

Who now believes the lies of politicians?  Matteo Renzi is simply a charlatan, trying to keep the wolf from the door…from Seeking Alpha…

Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena may have a strong future, according to Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, in spite of the stricken lender receiving the bottom score in a Europe-wide stress test. “There are some problems, yes. If now, without non-performing loans, with a clear strategy, I think this bank [BMPS (OTCPK:BMDPY)] could be a very good bank for the future,” he told CNBC in Rome. “My view is that Italian banks are good.”

The five largest US banks with their failure to account for contingent derivative liabilities in their balance sheets are also amongst the worst.

This rant below gives you a taste of what some folk think about the central banks… They are simply an instrument foistered on the public to defraud the public…Julius Caesar meanwhile just quietly washes his hands of the crime…

http://thecrux.com/politician-flips-out-exposes-central-bank-scam/

Of course the rant is not completely correct, because the governments are doing what we have given them the power to do…we all legitimise this fraud and yet today Barrack Obama called Donald Trump unfit to be the next POTUS.  This is after adding a further 9 trillion US dollars to the US government debt while in office, and authorising 1 trillion to be spent upgrading the US nuclear deterrent (that is the sort of stuff you get Nobel prizes for!).

Here is a mainstream view of the stress tests…FWIW….

http://seekingalpha.com/article/3994173-european-banks-stress-tests-cries-laughs?source=email_macro_view_mar_out_6_10&ifp=0

Japan has gone for broke and the Abe government and BoJ are printing money like there is “ no tomorrow”…from Seeking Alpha…

Looking to jolt the nation back to life, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet has approved a ¥28T ($274B) stimulus package amid a growing consensus that monetary policy alone won’t be able to revive the economy. According to Dow Jones, the stimulus package ranks among Japan’s biggest since the global financial crisis, and will: Lift GDP by 1.4%, include childcare benefits, provide $150 handouts to 22M low income people, loan ¥10.7T for infrastructure and provide ¥7.5T for direct fiscal spending.”

As the trend towards negative interest rates in major economies strengthens, this tells us one thing for certain.

“Get out of financial assets!” But isn’t this the wrong time to do so?  Chinese restrictions on money flowing abroad are about to take hold.

This is a world where the devil will take the hindmost.

Nothing the central banks have done will improve the situation…that is unless you count bringing about the re-emergence of precious metals.  Gold and silver are quietly moving higher.  Affected by a lack of consumer demand, the oil price is falling lower and given there is already very little re-investment to replace reducing supply, that means disaster is just lurking around the corner…. somewhere.

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Previous Better-Management Newsletters

July 2016

June 2016

May 2016

April 2016

March 2016

February 2016

January 2016

December 2015

November 2015

October 2015

September 2015

August 2015

July 2015

June 2015

May 2015

April 2015

March 2015

February 2015

  • Better-Management Newsletter – 27 Feb 2015 – The new cold war heats up / Putin “…smacks of genocide” / “Cover their eyes, kick-the-can and hope..” / Historic alliances subordinate to US Presidential politics / Superannuation in the Antipodes
  • Better-Management Newsletter – 26 Feb 2015 – Greece: temporary reprieve / Ukraine stand-off / The implausible Fed / Cutback in drilling rigs / Obama stymies Keystone again / Restraints on militant Islam / When solar energy fails / How good are batteries? / Will new batteries succeed? / Zenn/EESU looks promising
  • Better-Management Newsletter – 23 Feb 2015 – All this money printing / Gold and silver / Threat from Russia / Winners had access to oil / Resource sustainability / Misleading resource estimates
  • Better-Management Newsletter – 22 Feb 2015 – Ukraine deteriorates / Remember past starvation of millions of Ukrainians / Russia breaches British air space / Greece: keep the party going / Democracy no longer exists in Europe / Potential to collapse the global financial system
  • Better-Management Newsletter – 19 Feb 2015 – Greek “Trojan Horse” / Ukraine rebels ‘disobey’ ceasefire / Has Putin miscalculated??
  • Better-Management Newsletter – 18 Feb 2015 – Dynamic equilibrium – Population growth/drop?  A new paradigm?  “Shale is not even remotely economically viable” – Extreme fluctuations stimulate extreme over-corrections
  • Better-Management Newsletter – 17 Feb 2015 – Business 101 for Germany.  The world hasn’t learnt either.  Middle East holy war.  The angst is peoples against peoples.  Hold the culpable people to account.  Has China hit the skids?  Peakists v. Cornucopians.  Low-hanging fruit/oil.  
  • Better-Management Newsletter – 16 February 2015 – $26 Trillion ‘game of chicken’.  Ukraine ceasefire??  There are signs of growth about.  A slowdown in demand.  Baltic Dry shipping index plummets.  “Money for nothing and chicks for free”. Our master resource…oil.  EIA have never got any forecast right.  Debt works very badly if the economy is contracting.
  • Better-Management Newsletter – 3 February 2015 – The Twin Tower trigger…. and the horrors it triggered.  The error of America’s ways.  BRICS and the SCO grow stronger.  A financial meltdown??  Natural Gas in the USA. Oil trend – up or down?  Bitcoin currency – what next? Zenn – a turning point?  What is happening in Russia?
  • Better-Management Newsletter – 1 February 2015  Oil price bottoming?  Culture of opting out.  Be nice to nerds.  Economists lost the plot.  Greece was bullied for aeons.  Substitute credit for real growth.  ‘Business as Usual’ RIP.  Where to from here?

January 2015

  • Better-Management Newsletter – 27 January 2015 – Greece mandate – for what?  Germany prepares.  Ex KGB Putin playing Good Cop?  Will Russia crash? Oil to stay below USD45/bbl?  Shale industry will be suspect.  How is Bitcoin travelling? An escape to the Antipodes?
  • Better-Management Newsletter – 25 January 2015 – Nothing useful has emerged from Davos.  Another liquidity crisis?  “Economists are stupid”.  Few scientists focus on energy storage.   Negative returns on new oil wells. Economists and bankers’ solutions: print money to goose GDP.  Politicians are pawns to big business?
  • Better-Management Newsletter – 23 January 2015 – Nanotechnology.  King Abdullah dead.  Super Mario’s QE.  Last throw of the EU dice?  Russia’s WW3 Game-plan -oil.  China’s Mr Li at Davos.  China’s central bank injects $8Bn
  • John’s Newsletter – 21 January 2015 – Swissie repercussions.  America’s own Berlin Wall collapsing.  Europe in trouble – the EU could soon be toast.  Gold still glisters. Oil – future in peril. Obama lying about oil. We need a new vision of the economy. After the big crash.  The realities of history.
  • John’s Newsletter – 18 January 2015 – Swiss Franc drama. Oil price to fall further? Shale oil Ponzi. Population growth – and green illogic.
  • John’s Newsletter – 17 January 2015 – Swiss Franc drama.  Oil price to fall further?  Shale oil Ponzi.  Population growth – and green illogic.
  • John’s Newsletter – 16 January 2015 – Oil (as usual).  China – a mixed bag.  Can technology save us?
  • John’s Newsletter – 15 January 2015 – Oil (as usual).  China – a mixed bag.  Can technology save us?
  • John’s Newsletter – 12 January 2015 – New GM EV.  Terrorism – not new. Turkey – formerly sectarian.  Oil prices and the financial markets.  Gold – limits to growth.  US stock markets – manipulated highs.
  • John’s Newsletter – 10 January 2015 – Electric car uptake accelerates. Je suis Hebden. EU’s unpayable debt – ditto China? Sri Lanka – new President. The Keystone fiasco.
  • John’s Newsletter – 8 January 2015 – Investment in 2015 – tricky.  EU: German deflation, Greek exit?  All stock markets peaked – except US.  China, Russia – odd bed-fellows.  Middle East powder keg.  Love Tesla.  Oil chaos, commodities slide.
  • John’s Newsletter – 6 January 2015 – 2014: growth tanking, falling currencies, irrational exuberance, ISIS and Ikhwani, the maths of oil, covert plans of the Saudis and US.
  • John’s Newsletter – 3 January 2015 – The climate change con. Justice, US-style. War criminals who led the US. Mario Draghi gets desperate. Government services shrink in line with income.
  • John’s Newsletter – 1 January 2015 – More ‘must-read’ books.  Escalation of the US/EU/OECD v BRICS/SEO differences.  Ominous oil prices defy rationale.
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Another ‘must-read’ article.

Better-management.org brings you ‘must-read’ articles on finance, economics, geo-politics, the environment, government and much more.

Scroll down to read the most recent articles; links to previous articles follow.

The monumental stupidity of the failed war on drugs

The monumental stupidity of the failed war on drugs  By Mike Krieger, Liberty Blitzkrieg blog, from Zerohedge, 25 August 2016

Whenever an irrational and inhumane law remains on the books far longer than any thinking person would consider appropriate, there’s usually one reason behind it: money.

Unsurprisingly, the continued federal prohibition on marijuana and its absurd classification as a Schedule 1 drug is no exception. Thankfully, a recent study published in the journal Health Affairs shows us exactly why pharmaceutical companies are one of the leading voices against medical marijuana. It has nothing to do with healthcare and everything to do with corporate greed.

– From last month’s article: The Real Reason Pharma Companies Hate Medical Marijuana (It Works)

This isn’t my typical kind of article. Normally, I’d include something like this in my links post, but as I continued reading this piece it became apparent this is one of the most fascinating things I’ve read all year.

What follows are excerpts from the Wired article, Would You Take LSD to Give You a Boost at Work? WIRED Takes a Trip Inside the World of Microdosing. I strongly suggest reading the entire thing.

It’s 7am on a sunny Friday in a shared house in the sleepy San Francisco neighbourhood of Richmond. Flatmates buzz in and out of the kitchen as Lily (not her real name), a publicist for several start-ups, sits down with cup of tea and a credit-card-sized bag of dried magic mushrooms.

 The 28-year-old breaks up the caps and stems and places them into a herb grinder. She then scoops the pulverised mixture into empty gel pill capsules, weighing each one on a tiny scale. Once finished, she pops one of the capsules into her mouth and washes its down with PG Tips. She’s now ready to start her working day.

 “It helps me think more creatively and stay focused,” she says. “I manage my stress with ease and am able to keep my perspective healthy in a way that I was unable to before.”

 Lily is one of many young professionals in San Francisco and beyond experimenting with “microdosing”: taking small quantities of psychedelic drugs – typically LSD or psilocybin mushrooms – every few days in the hope of improving their performance at work. In small amounts, say, a tenth of a full dose, users don’t experience a consciousness-altering “trip”, but instead report improvements in concentration and problem solving, as well as a reduction in anxiety.

 Proponents WIRED has spoken to – including software engineers, biologists and mathematicians – say that it induces a “flow state”, aids lateral thinking and encourages more empathetic interpersonal relations.

 Albert Hoffman, who synthesised lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD’s full title) in 1938, and who took what is considered the first intentional LSD trip in 1943, microdosed throughout the last couple of his decades of his life (he died in 2008). The father of psychedelics, who lived to be 102, found consuming LSD in small amounts clarified his thinking, according to Dr James Fadiman, a long-time friend.

 A Reddit forum dedicated to the practice has grown its subscriber base from 1,600 at the start of 2015 to almost 7,500 in mid-June 2016. Google search volumes for the term “microdosing” have grown at a similar rate. Although WIRED found no completed clinical studies looking specifically at microdoses, Fadiman has been carrying out his own research by collecting anecdotal reports from volunteers who self-administer the drugs.

 Fadiman offers guidance to participants on how often to dose and, in return, asks them to keep a journal of observations. He started collecting these reports in 2010, following the advice of friend Albert Hoffman, who described microdosing as the most under-researched area of psychedelics.

 The high-pressure startup culture of the Bay Area leads many participants to view their bodies and brains as machines to be optimised using all of the tools available – meditation, yoga, Soylent, intermittent fasting, so-called “smart drugs” (including off-label ADHD and narcolepsy meds), microdosed psychedelics and legal nootropics.

 The trend for using “smart drugs” can be traced back to schools, where Ritalin and Adderall prescriptions are rife, explains Anjan Chatterjee, a professor of neurology at the University of Pennsylvania. Children even at preschool age find themselves in competitive environments with dense schedules of study, tutoring, music lessons and sport.

 Those who aren’t already prescribed ADHD medication can buy it with ease; a series of surveys suggest that around 20 per cent of US college students have abused prescription stimulants. It’s something Lily, who has been prescribed ADHD medication since she was six, can relate to. At university she would share her prescription with friends seeking help focusing on assignments – something that she continued when she entered the working world. “It’s what fuels not just the tech community but any millennial trying to work really hard and make it,” she says.

 At the start of her career working in a tech startup, she found Adderall useful. “It helped me launch a company. We went from three cities to over 30 in six months. I felt like a rockstar but I was being an asshole,” she says. Lily started to research microdosing psychedelics after experiencing unpleasant side effects from the amphetamine-based drug. “My heart would be racing when I took it, and when I didn’t I’d experience withdrawal and feel really dumb – like my brain was slowing down.”

 Even though magic mushrooms and LSD are illegal in many countries, Lily views them as safer than her legal meds. Not only are the doses small and infrequent, she has found no evidence that psychedelics are physically addictive. “I don’t think we’re going to find out that microdosing fucks up your liver,” she says.

 Lily still takes her ADHD medication, but microdosing magic mushrooms has allowed her to substantially reduce her dose. “In a perfect world I don’t want to take Adderall at all,” she says. Lily’s case highlights how inconsistent policymaking around drugs can be. It’s fine for six-year-olds to be prescribed amphetamines, but it’s illegal for adults to turn on, tune in and drop out.

Well yeah, one of them makes drug companies a lot of money, and the other doesn’t.

As a society, we’re medieval in how we classify substances,” says Woo. “Some compounds are prescription-only, some are readily available, and some are illegal. And the classification is pretty arbitrary if we really dig into their potency, addictive potential and harm risks to self and society.”

As a society, we are medieval in all sorts of ways. The global financial system also comes to mind.

In London, 34-year-old Blake (not his real name) works at a mobile startup as a software developer. He has been microdosing on and off since October 2015. He takes tabs of LSD, also bought on the Dark Net, from an online dispensary known as Nucleus Market for around £5 per tab. He divides each tab into ten, taking one dose in the morning, once or twice a week.

 “It makes me work in such a focused way,” he says. “It gets your brain out of its regular grooves and helps you snap out of unproductive trains of thought.” It’s part of a range of techniques he uses to optimise his mental prowess, including playing instruments, exercising and brain games. “I try to get as good as I can at everything I do. It’s a natural attribute of many software engineers, especially when it comes to optimising mental activities,” he says.

 When he was preparing a proposal for his masters thesis he set aside time to take the larger dose and try and visualise ideas. “My mind became a supercomputer. It allowed me to visualise ideas, shuffle them, put them into multiple combinations,” he explains. Alex says that he’s noticed a marked improvement in the feedback from his supervisor, who is none the wiser. “Maybe I could have got to the same result on my own, but it comes faster with the drug.” The benefits aren’t restricted to work, but spill out into the rest of his life. “It makes me more happy and social,” he says.

 Blake agrees: “I listen to people more, I have an appreciation for simple things, and an inability to eat unhealthy food. Looking at fried stuff can be repulsive.”

Of course, like with everything else in life, moderation is probably an intelligent strategy.

Fadiman’s research revealed other side effects: “Several people reported uncomfortable sweating on dose day, but they continued dosing. And two subjects reported increased anxiety. One person reported more migraines.”

 Furthermore, we don’t really understand the long-term impact of taking these drugs every few days. David Nichols carried out an experiment in 2011 in which he gave rats doses of 0.08 to 0.16mg/kg of LSD every other day for three months. Over time the animals became aggressive and hyperactive, showing behaviours that resemble psychosis in humans, brought about by changes in the circuitry to the brain.

 “Using these drugs once a month is one thing. Using them every day, I’m not sure they are innocuous,” Nichols says. “They may bring about subtle behavioural and hormonal changes that we don’t yet fully understand.”

Fadiman dismisses this study, arguing that no-one ever takes psychedelics daily for three months and that if individuals don’t feel as though their microdose is beneficial, they should stop. However, drug charities are more cautious. Although there’s currently no evidence that LSD and magic mushrooms do any long-term damage to the body or directly cause long-term psychological damage, in large doses they can lead to unpleasant hallucinations, flashbacks and exacerbate pre-existing mental health problems.

Now here’s where things get really interesting…

The study that has captured the attention of today’s microdosers is one that took place in the summer of 1966, at a research facility in Menlo Park, led by a then 27-year-old Jim Fadiman.

The question he set out to answer was whether psychedelic drugs could help solve hard science problems. Volunteers for the study had to be dealing with a problem – something that could be measured, built, proven or manufactured – that they’d been stuck on for at least three months. Twenty-seven men, including engineers, architects, mathematicians, a psychologist and a furniture designer, signed up.

 Each participant was given 200 milligrams of mescaline – the equivalent of 100 micrograms of LSD – and left to listen to classical music with their eyes closed for a couple of hours while the drug kicked in. Then, they were let loose on their problems.

 The results were startling. There were breakthroughs or partial solutions to 40 out of the 44 problems the volunteers were collectively grappling with.

 “It’s hard to estimate how long this problem might have taken without the psychedelic agent,” reported one scientist who took part in the trial. “But it was the type of problem that might have never been solved. It would have taken a great deal of effort and racking of brains to arrive at what seemed to come more easily during the session.”

 Tangible innovations to emerge shortly after the psychedelic experience include a mathematical theorem for NOR gate circuits; a new design for a vibratory microtome; a space probe experiment to measure solar properties; a technical improvement to the magnetic recorder; a new conceptual model of a photon; and a linear electron accelerator beam-steering device.

 Research came to a standstill as the US government classified psychedelic drugs as Schedule 1 substances, the most tightly controlled. Nixon’s subsequent war on drugs whipped up moral outrage among the socially conservative. This stigmatised psychedelics, causing funding for research to dry up, leading to a 40-year interruption to scientific advancement in the field.

 “This is the worst censorship of science in the history of the world… since the dark ages. It’s worse than the Catholic Church banning the telescope in 1616,” says David Nutt, who is widely known in the UK for being sacked from his role as the government’s chief drug advisor in 2009, after claiming ecstasy was safer than horse riding.

The U.S. government. Protecting the American people from creativity and scientific progress. Why am I not surprised.

The article ends by getting to the crux of the issue.

The logistics of researching microdoses are more challenging. With full-dose experiments, human participants are kept in a controlled environment with access to medical professionals and a sitter who stays with them at all times. A study on microdosing would involve, in theory, administering a Schedule 1 drug to volunteers before sending them home – a tough challenge for risk-averse institutional review boards.

 Compounding the issue is the fact that LSD was discovered so long ago that it’s off-patent. If it were to be commercialised today, it would be a less profitable, generic drug. “A pharma company needs to figure out how to make an obscene profit – that’s what gets their attention. The problem is that these drugs are not addicting and you don’t need to take them very often,” Fadiman says.

If this article isn’t enough to convince you of the monumental stupidity of the failed “war on drugs,” I suggest you read the following:

Federal Judge of 17 Years Repents – Compares Damage Done by “War on Drugs” to Destruction of World War II

The Real Reason Pharma Companies Hate Medical Marijuana (It Works)

How NSA Surveillance Was Birthed from the Drug War – The DEA Tracked Billions of Phone Calls Pre 9/11

Meanwhile, over at the FDA…

NYU Professor Uncovers How the FDA Systematically Covers Up Fraud and Misconduct in Drug Trials

Fraud Alert: FDA Allowed Drugs with Fraudulent Testing to Remain on the Market

The FDA is Caught Spying on its Employees and Creating an “Enemies List”

And you wonder why society is so completely messed up?

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The Genocide of a Land

The Genocide of a Land  By Paul Craig Roberts, 23 August 2016

In our days of darkness, spreading ignorance, and absence of serious debate in public forums, we can take hope from the fact that some scholars still produce serious and informative books on the most critical issues of our time. If in the future policymakers again seek the guidance of truth, they will have the information at hand. One such book of truth is Jeremy R. Hammond’s just published Obstacle to Peace, a closely reasoned, heavily documented (68 pages of footnotes), fully indexed, readable book with a Foreword by Richard Falk, an Introduction by Gene Epstein, and an endorsement by Noam Chomsky.

The obstacle to peace is the United States government, which has consistently opposed the entire world’s decades long effort to stop the Zionist genocide of a land called Palestine.

Palestine is a stolen and oppressed land. Israel’s greatest leaders themselves acknowledge the fact. Tom Are quotes David Ben-Gurion:

“If I were an Arab leader, I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural, we have taken their country. Sure God promised it to us, but what does that matter to them? Our God is not theirs. We came from Israel, it’s true, but that was two thousand years ago, and what is that to them? There has been anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing: we have come and stolen their country. Why should they accept that?” http://thomas-l-are.blogspot.com

What once was a country consists today of a few small isolated Palestinian ghettos in the West Bank surrounded by Israeli settlements and an open air prison known as Gaza. Periodically Israel launches military assaults on the civilian population of Gaza, destroying the lives of the people and the infrastructure of the prison camp.

Israel then prevents outside efforts from sending supplies to the suffering people in Gaza. “Freedom flotillas” crewed by Nobel Laurates, present and former members of US and European legislative bodies, and even members of the Israeli Knesset set sail with supplies for Gaza and are pirated and captured in international waters by the Israeli Navy, which, as a warning to others, kills some of the delegation in “self-defense.” The United States steadfastly defends Israel’s criminal behavior with its UN veto and other governments, though disapproving, are unwilling to confront Washington and force a change.

Washington’s 21st century wars in the Middle East were initiated by neoconservative regimes whose principal policymakers are tightly allied with Israel. The wars focused on Arab nations—Iraq, Libya, and Syria—that were supportive of the Palestinians and had foreign policies independent of Washington. Washington succeeded in destroying two of the countries and has not given up on destroying Syria despite the risk of confrontation with Russia.

The risks that Washington is imposing on Americans and Europeans in order to advance Israeli expansion in the Middle East are horrific. Zionists claim a “greater Israel” from the Nile to the Euphrates. Washington’s wars in the Middle East are designed to remove obstacles to “greater Israel.” For example, on past occasions Israel has attempted to seize southern Lebanon for the water resources, but were driven out by Hezbollah, a militia supplied by Syria and Iran. This is one reason Syria and Iran are on Washington’s target list.

To achieve its or Israel’s goals, Washington uses jihadists. Russia sees the jihadists as threats that could spread to the Muslim areas of the Russian Federation, and Russia acts to protect itself. China also has realized that its province bordering Kazakhstan is subject to jihadist destabilization and appears to be aligning with Russia, Iran, and Syria against Washington’s effort to overthrow the Syrian government and install in its place chaos as Washington has done in Iraq and Libya, thus removing another constraint on Israel’s expansion and the restraint of a secular Syrian government on jihadism.

To get all of this from Hammond, you might have to connect some dots. But what you will get is a massive amount of verbatim dialogue that documents beyond all doubt the conspiracy between Israel, Washington, and the US presstitutes to get rid of “the Palestinian problem” by getting rid of Palestinians.

What does emerge strongly from Hammond’s book is that justice is not a thriving characteristic of the Israeli government, US foreign policy, or the media. The United Nations has produced report after report documenting the extermination of a people, but is powerless to act because of Washington’s veto.

What has happened to Palestinians is a replay of what happened to the native inhabitants of North America and Australia. Palestinians have been dispossessed and murdered. For this crime, the United States shares responsibility with Israel.

Become informed while you still can. Propaganda is turning truth-tellers into “conspiracy theorists” and “domestic extremists.” We can’t take the continued presence of truth-tellers for granted. When one appears support him or her. Order Hammond’s book here: http://www.obstacletopeace.com

You will never regret being informed.

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Prohibition – it should be banned

Prohibition – it should be banned  By Lizzie Marvelly, NZ Herald, 20 August 2016

Imagine a natural product with medicinal benefits that human beings have used for centuries. A product so popular that its sale has funded the activities of certain enterprises for generations. A product used by people young and old, well and unwell, rich and poor.

One would assume that the tax revenue from this product would be significant. That its popularity would demand responsible regulation to protect both the industry and consumers. That its widely reported pain-relieving qualities would be utilised to provide relief to sufferers of chronic pain. That gangs would be the last “businesses” we’d want to be responsible for its sale. It would seem like a no-brainer.

Unless that product is cannabis.

We’ve been waging war on drug users for close to 20 years, since the UN’s General Assembly Special Session on Drug Control in 1998. The goal of that session was to eradicate illicit drug-use by 2008. It was a mission that failed spectacularly.

Despite billions of dollars spent, huge numbers of people are still using illegal substances recreationally and medicinally, drug lords and gangs are still rich and powerful, and addicts are still stigmatised.

Like most prohibitions, banning drugs just doesn’t work, and this week it was announced that 64 per cent of New Zealanders surveyed want to see the possession of a small amount of cannabis either decriminalised or legalised.

It’s not difficult to see why they feel that way. While our justice system spends millions of taxpayer dollars every year prosecuting and incarcerating people for low-level drug offences, our levels of cannabis usage remain largely consistent.

The burden on our police force is immense. In the six years prior to 2013, approximately half of all drug charges laid by police were for possession of small amounts of cannabis or smoking utensils (such as pipes), and more than 2800 people were imprisoned for minor drug offences. Between 2007 and 2011, we spent $59 million incarcerating people for low-level drug offences.

Many of those people are under 25. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that sending a young person to prison, an environment the New Zealand Drug Foundation has aptly described as a “University of Crime”, for a low-level drug offence is nonsensical. Not only does banning drugs not work, it has led us down a path where we have limited empirical information about drugs like cannabis (a term which encompasses the marijuana plant, hashish and hash oil). As you would imagine, it is difficult to study a drug when it is illegal. In a review of 79 randomised trials studying marijuana use, British researchers found that though there was strong evidence that cannabinoids could be used to relieve chronic pain, support for theories about the drug’s ability to reduce nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy was hindered by the limited reliability of the available research.

The deeper I delve into the issue, however, the more I am struck by just how frightening the consequences of prohibition are.

We do, however, have case studies provided by the countries that have decriminalised and legalised cannabis. In 2001, Portugal decided to treat possession of minor amounts of all drugs as a health issue rather than a punishable offence.

Drug-related deaths and HIV infections from needle-sharing have reduced significantly since. When the police catch people with small amounts of drugs in Portugal, they are ordered to appear before a so-called “dissuasion panel”, consisting of legal, social and psychological professionals. Repeat offenders are prescribed treatment, rather than sent to prison. When Portugal changed its thinking around drug legislation, many observers assumed drug-use rates would soar.

They didn’t. In fact, by most measures, drug use in Portugal has fallen over the past 15 years.

Legalising low-level drugs like cannabis would allow the government to regulate the sale of substances like marijuana, set age limits, require growers and sellers to be licensed, and would devastate the black market that has prospered under our current legislation. How great would it be if we could cut off a major source of income for gangs here in New Zealand?

It would allow us to commission high-quality research on the drug, its medicinal benefits and identify those for whom it could prove harmful. It would allow us to develop well-informed health programmes to assist addicts, education programmes for young people, and provide patients with chronic or terminal illnesses with a natural medicine to manage their pain. It would also make it significantly less “cool” among teenagers.

Until recently, I was completely against legalising, or even decriminalising cannabis. I’m one of the few people I know who has never used the drug and I had been influenced by the culture of fear fostered by the war on drugs. The deeper I delve into the issue, however, the more I am struck by how frightening the consequences of prohibition are.

Which is more harmful – a system that criminalises young people, burdens our police and judiciary, thwarts research, stigmatises addicts, funds gangs, and has no quality control, or a system that allows us to regulate cannabis like its close (legal) cousin, alcohol? It’s a question worth pondering.

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Globalization on Its Head

Globalization on Its Head  From Mauldin Economics’ newsletter, 8 August 2016

If we had to describe the last 50 years of economic history in one word, globalization would be high on the list. Thousands of small, independent economies around the world fused into one nearly seamless whole. The things we use every day – food, clothing, vehicles, furniture, electronic devices, even the materials that compose our homes – now come from far and wide. We don’t even notice. International trade over vast distances is now so normal that we forget it wasn’t always so.

Here’s how far globalization has gone: In cities and towns all over the United States, weekend farmers markets have sprung up, selling fruits and vegetables whose main attraction is that they are local. Eating food grown in your own region is now exotic and unusual. Our global diet served up at conventional grocery stores means our bodies and brains have been globalized, too.

Globalization ramped up slowly for a century or so before entering a new phase in the 1960s. I was born in 1964, so the explosion of the global economy roughly spans my lifetime. Mine is the first globalized generation. But if I reach 100, I suspect I will see children of a de-globalized generation.

That’s my theory: We are going full circle.

Humanity spent the last 50 years globalizing. Now, thanks to certain technologies, that whole process is going in reverse. I think historians will mark the 2008 financial crisis as the turning point:  Peak Globalization.

 I don’t say this because I want a de-globalized world. What any of us want or don’t want is irrelevant. I believe the transition will happen whether any of us want it or not.

It will not happen in a linear fashion, though. The process that brought us to this point had starts, stops, and slowdowns. Reverse globalization will have ups and downs, too, but a new set of technologies will keep pushing it forward.

I’ll tell you about those technologies in a minute. First, let’s review what brought us to this point.

Low-Tech Boxes

Behold, the box that changed the world. Blessed are those who purchase its contents.

Thousands of steel shipping containers like this one cross the seas daily, carrying the merchandise you see in Walmart and Home Depot. They are the red blood cells of the globalized consumer economy. It would not long survive without them.

Back in the ancient Pre-Container Era, loading and unloading cargo ships was a time-consuming, labor-intensive process. Swarms of dockworkers labored around the clock carrying man-sized loads on and off ships. At the destination seaport, they would disperse goods to railroad boxcars and perhaps later onto trucks before those goods reached end users. The process was slow and inefficient, though it had the advantage of providing many jobs.

Those jobs started disappearing in the 1960s, thanks largely to Malcom McLean.

McLean, owner of a North Carolina trucking firm, had the idea of separating a truck’s cargo space from the wheels and chassis, then loading the boxes onto ships. He converted two World War II tanker ships for this purpose and in 1956 took his first containerized cargo from Newark to Houston.

The idea itself wasn’t new. The U.S. Army had shipped supplies for the Korea conflict in similar containers, but McLean saw containers’ civilian potential. In 1960 he renamed his company Sea-Land Service Inc. and began refitting docks with the specialized cranes we now see in every port. Dockworker unions were not pleased, to say the least, but they couldn’t slow down progress.

Seeing the value of standardization, McLean licensed his patents royalty-free to competitors worldwide. By the end of the 1960s container ships were crossing every ocean. Sea-Land had a thriving business taking military supplies from the US to Vietnam.

Would world trade have grown as it did without containers and container ships? Certainly not. Reduced shipping time and labor savings gave emerging-market countries a chance to compete in high-volume, low-margin products. These low-tech boxes really did change the world economy. Globalization would look quite different without them.

Big Ole Jet Airliner

Engineers envisioned jet engines in the 1920s, but working models didn’t appear until the tail end of World War II. The world’s first production commercial jetliner, the de Havilland Comet, took off in 1949. Pan American World Airways began regular Boeing 707 service in 1956 – the same year McLean’s first container ships sailed.

Jet planes didn’t just fly faster; their higher cruising altitude made them more fuel-efficient and longer-range. Prior to the 707, you could not fly nonstop from the US to Japan, or from Europe to the US West Coast.

Think how valuable nonstop transcontinental flight is to business travelers – like John Mauldin, for instance. He can board a plane in Dallas, deliver a speech in London or Hong Kong, and be back home within three days. Such trips are tiring and stressful, but possible. They were impossible fifty years ago.

Now, multiply by millions of businesspeople traveling the globe to build alliances, make growth plans, and develop new products. Yes, they did all these things before jetliners existed, but they did them much faster afterward. The first wide-bodied 747 flights in 1970 brought travel costs down even further, opening the door for mass international tourism.

Just as important, the mere knowledge that they could reach the other side of the world so easily changed people’s thinking. They saw new possibilities and dreamed bigger dreams. Those dreams evolved into the millions of transoceanic trading relationships we now call globalization. Would it have happened in a propeller-driven world? Maybe – but it would look different.

Another key technology helped people see the other side of the world even if they couldn’t fly there. Communications satellites let broadcasters beam live television signals around the globe. The satellites emerged at about the same time as shipping containers and jetliners.

The Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite, in 1957. All it did was emit pinging sounds, but progress followed quickly. In 1958 a US satellite called Project SCORE carried tape-recorded Christmas greetings from President Eisenhower to people around the world. Another US satellite, Syncom 3, was the first to achieve geostationary orbit and retransmit live signals. It enabled broadcast of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics to television viewers in the United States.

In one sense, this was nothing new. Americans had seen images from abroad before. Hollywood studios routinely filmed features in exotic locations. Newsreels had brought World War II to the home front. But the old reels conveyed events weeks or months in the past. Seeing events “live” was a quantum leap.

Just five years after Syncom 3 was launched, people around the world watched Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon. It was a seminal moment – and not only because humans had walked on the moon. For the first time, humanity watched history unfold together. This brought to people everywhere a profound change in perspective. “The world is watching” had been a figure of speech until then. Suddenly it was actually possible. If we could see globally, then it was reasonable to think we could live, work, play, and trade globally, too.

Doing all those things, whether globally or locally, costs money. A financial technology helped distribute capital around the world: the mutual fund. It didn’t go well at first. Problems in the Great Depression led to the Investment Company Act of 1940. The industry had better luck in the 1950s bull market, but was still relatively small.

In the 1960s Bernard Cornfeld popularized mutual funds via his ill-fated Investors Overseas Services, Ltd. The company would later collapse, but not before his thousands of door-to-door salespeople taught small investors how to participate in financial markets. By 1970 the US had almost 400 mutual funds with $48 billion in combined assets. John Bogle launched the Vanguard Group and the first index funds in 1976.

Mutual funds grew even faster after 1978, when Congress added an obscure “section 401(k)” to the Internal Revenue Code. Benefits consultant Ted Benna saw that the provision allowed for a tax-advantaged retirement savings plan. Mutual funds were a natural fit with his 401(k) plan. Even better, they gave CFOs everywhere a way to get defined-benefit plan liabilities off the corporate balance sheet. They eagerly seized it.

Much of the cash flowing into mutual funds during this era found its way into multinational companies, who used it to develop new products for international distribution. It was more wind in the sails of globalization. The giant 1980s–1990s bull market both demonstrated and reinforced the worldwide economic growth wave.

What would our economy look like today if not for shipping containers, jetliners, satellites, and mutual funds? Would globalization have happened anyway? Probably, but it would not have looked the same.

When I say these innovations were critical, I don’t claim they were sufficient. All kinds of other events contributed, too: trade agreements, central bank actions, tax and regulatory policies, and more. They all went into the historical blender and gave us what we have now. Omit one key ingredient and the result might have been quite different.

Energy Untanked

Fifty years from now, what new technologies will have proven to be as critical as the ones we just reviewed? Which of today’s nascent innovations will be revolutionary?

We can only speculate – and John will do plenty of that in his forthcoming book. Meanwhile, I have four candidates to consider. The first one is renewable energy.

Solar, wind, and other non-fossil-fuel sources have become political footballs. They appear in debates about climate change, government subsidies, environmental regulation, and other touchy subjects. That’s unfortunate, because they aren’t inherently political. They are technologies we should judge on their own terms. Economically speaking, are they better alternatives or not?

“Better” is relative. Fossil fuels are the lowest-cost option in most of the US, in part because we’ve made a huge investment in their infrastructure. We have supertankers, port facilities, pipeline networks, railroads, storage farms, power lines, gasoline pumps, and so on. All of them serve one purpose: moving fuel from the place where it is produced to the place where it is consumed.

This apparatus works surprisingly well, considering that it hasn’t advanced a great deal in recent decades. It also points to the great weakness of fossil fuels: We must move them in order to use them. Transporting fuel to wherever it is needed (and keeping adequate amounts available at all times) is expensive and inefficient.

Now, think for a minute about the solar alternative. Today’s technology lets you to put solar panels on your roof and power your home. You can install storage batteries to keep the lights and air conditioning on at night. Your solar panels can recharge the electric vehicle you drive to work and back.

All that is possible right now. If you care to spend the money, you can probably go completely off the grid without changing your lifestyle very much. That is especially true in the sunny southwestern states, Florida, and Hawaii. Few people quit the grid entirely because to do so is still expensive. That won’t always be the case. Prices have been falling fast.

The equation is quite different in emerging-market nations near the equator. Decentralized, renewable energy sources are more cost-effective than fossil fuels right now in countries that don’t already have a well-developed energy infrastructure. Much of Africa will never have an electric grid like ours because it will never need one.

A world economy in which we don’t have to transport fossil fuels back and forth will look different. See all the red boxes and arrows on this Houston/Galveston map, via MarineTraffic.com? Those are oil, gas, and chemical tankers. The diamond-shaped ones are anchored, waiting their turn to load or unload. The map depicts globalization in action.

Get rid of fossil fuels and none of these ships will have to go anywhere. They won’t consume fuel just to move fuel; they won’t sink and make a mess; and they won’t be terrorist targets. Our navy will not need to guard choke points like the Strait of Hormuz. OPEC will be irrelevant for most people.

That world is possible already, and it is getting increasingly practical. I believe a shift to renewables will happen even without government subsidies. In fact, I would like to see subsidies eliminated now. They do more to hold up progress than to encourage it.

Fossil fuels won’t go away completely. They’ll remain necessary in niche markets and applications. Nevertheless, I think the economic benefit of harvesting energy near the end user will grow more apparent every year. In time, energy will cease to be an international concern and become a purely local matter. That facet of globalization will just fade away. Cheap, abundant energy will be as normal as the corner gas station is now.

Plastic Doodads

As John noted in last week’s letter, “The Trouble with Trade,” until recently there were two categories of imported goods. Some were expensive, high-quality luxury products: sports cars, wine, fine cheeses, and chocolates. Others were cheap, low-quality products made mostly in developing countries. Japanese cars weren’t a US status symbol in the 1960s or 1970s.

What do Americans think about imported goods now? We rarely think about them at all, even though we buy them every day. Globalization both raised the quality of foreign-made products and made them unremarkable.

Globalized manufacturing also had a dark side. Manufacturing jobs left the United States as companies moved production offshore. On the other end, gaining those jobs was a mixed blessing for developing countries. Millions of people emerged from deep poverty, but their cultures changed, and rampant, unregulated growth damaged the environment.

More importantly, all these new goods had to find their way from the factory to the buyer. Now, entire shiploads of containers stuffed with shrink-wrapped plastic doodads arrive in US ports every day. They have to be unloaded, sorted, and moved by truck or train to their destination. The logistics chains that do this are organizational miracles, but they consume valuable resources and time.

We wouldn’t need this massive apparatus if it were cost-effective to produce finished goods in small quantities near the final buyer. 3-D printing technology is doing exactly that. Commercial-scale “additive manufacturing” uses a wide variety of materials to make both simple and complex objects.

Additive manufacturing’s key advantage is its flexibility. The same equipment can make completely different products with just a software update and minor retooling. This capacity opens up a world of possibilities. Instead of specialized factories producing mass quantities of the same thing, local manufacturing centers can make only the quantity needed in the local area, as products or parts are needed.

Moreover, local manufacturing will enable much greater customization to fit local needs. Freed from a global process that forces them to sell monotonous, widely marketed goods, retail stores could use local manufacturers to produce exactly what local buyers want.

Will local manufacturing completely replace global supply chains? No, but it can still make a huge difference by reducing freight traffic. Consumers will have higher-quality goods at the same or lower prices, and the environment will stay cleaner.

Today’s just-in-time logistics systems have already reduced inventory levels and contributed to broad deflationary trends. Localized manufacturing should accelerate this shift even further. Instead of holding finished products in inventory, manufacturers will store raw materials: plastics, metals, minerals, wood, etc. Trade in finished goods will occur locally, in proximity to end users.

Virtual Airports

Communications technology was supposed to reduce the need for travel. Yet even with videoconferencing now widely available, globalized business professionals fly more than ever. Why?

One reason is that communications technology is still primitive. We can sit in front of a monitor across from another person in front of their monitor. We can see each other, hear each other, and view documents together. All this is wonderful, but it’s still a far cry from face-to-face interaction.

Virtual reality and augmented reality technology promises to fill this gap. Right now, we can wear special devices and enter startlingly realistic fantasy worlds. The potential for entertainment and gaming is obvious. The suddenly and immensely popular Pokémon Go game is a form of augmented reality. People love it, but the more common VR/AR use may turn out to be routine business meetings.

Walk through any airport and the “road warriors” are easy to spot. They’re veteran travelers like John, who jet between major world cities so they can… walk into a room and talk to people. They may spend more time going to and from meetings than they spend actually meeting. This is woefully inefficient.

With advanced VR/AR technology, people in different countries will be able to “meet” in a virtual conference room with the full sense of being physically together. Having access to subtle cues – facial expressions, tones of voice, sideways glances – will make these meetings seem almost real.

Something like the fabled Star Trek “holodeck” is decades away, but many road warriors would be happy to get 90% of the way there. Eliminating wasted travel time might easily double or triple their productivity.

VR/AR will let businesses operate efficiently without physical proximity to each other. The vast air transportation infrastructure, and all the energy and resources that go into it, will become less critical and will ultimately shrink. Meanwhile, workers and businesses will become more “present” to their local communities simply by virtue of spending more time at home.

Alaskan Bananas

Few sectors were more changed by globalization than agriculture. The US depends on low-wage, labor-intensive overseas farms for many important foods. Meanwhile, exports from our hyper-efficient grain producers feed millions of people in other countries.

As a result, consumers can now enjoy all kinds of non-native foods no matter where they live. If you are in Alaska and you like bananas, you can have them. The agricultural supply chain will grow them in Central America and bring them to your local store, for a price.

Bananas in Alaska are an extreme example, but the same process feeds practically all of us. Buy a hamburger anywhere in the United States and the lettuce on it likely comes from California. Why is this? Because areas of California have soil and weather perfectly suited to growing leafy vegetables. Bananas come from Central America for the same reason.

If we could re-create Central America indoors, Alaskans actually could grow their own bananas. To do this, they would need to regulate moisture levels, soil quality, temperature, and lighting at a cost that was competitive with bringing in foreign bananas.

The newest LED lighting technology brings this idea closer to reality. Scientists are learning how to deliver light at the intensity, frequency, and duration that optimizes growth. LED lights dramatically reduce the electricity required to do this. Paired with solar, wind, and other renewable energy sources, indoor banana farms are no longer hard to imagine – even in Alaska.

Carry that thought process a little further, and we can conceive of entire cities becoming self-sufficient for much of their fresh food. Produced locally in converted warehouses and vertical farms, the food would be truly fresh, too. Fruits and vegetables wouldn’t spend days or weeks in transit between farm and city, nor would they need chemical pesticides and preservatives.

This won’t work for everything we eat. Centralized production may still make sense for grains, meats, and some other foodstuffs. Regional production on land around cities will continue to increase, too. Nonetheless, when this technology reaches maturity, we won’t move nearly as much food around the world. It will grow near the people who eat it. This change will likely be good for our health, but the economic consequences may be even greater.

Early in the Game

 We’ve seen here that technology trends will nudge the world economy away from global integration and back toward local production and investment. Without container ships, jetliners, satellites, and mutual funds, globalization would have unfolded quite differently – and possibly not at all. Now, alternative energy sources, additive manufacturing, virtual and augmented reality communications, and sophisticated local food-production systems will take us back in the direction of regionalization and localization – and hopefully help to level the economic playing field for people worldwide.

Technology isn’t the only factor, though. Much depends on central bank decisions, international trade agreements, electoral politics, and geopolitical factors.

That said, technological change is implacable. Useful innovations rarely disappear once they’re invented. They can be suppressed or delayed but not eliminated. The globalized economy based on shipping stuff back and forth will make less and less sense as the technologies I’ve described continue to mature.

The political debate over manufacturing jobs is missing the point. Manufacturing is already coming back to the US, as are manufacturing jobs – but not in the numbers that once existed. Additive and robotic manufacturing technology will raise productivity far faster than humans can manage to do, and humans will be displaced.

Last week John quoted General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt saying that “wage arbitrage” is over. Robots do not care where you install them. They cost about the same and work at equal speed no matter where they are. Robotics will greatly reduce the incentive to make goods far from the end user simply to save on labor costs. The new incentive will be to produce in proximity to your customer. This will let you deliver faster and offer greater customization.

Technology is changing the foundational principles of globalization. That which loses its foundation eventually disappears – though its demise can take a long time. We are still very early in this megatrend.

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Previous ‘must-read’ articles

August 2016

July 2016

June 2016

May 2016

April 2016

March 2016

February 2016

January 2016

December 2015

November 2015

October 2015

September 2015

August 2015

July 2015

June 2015

May 2015

April 2015

March 2015

February 2015

January 2015

December 2014

November 2014

October 2014

September 2014

July 2014

June 2014

May 2014

April 2014

Posted in Must-Read Articles | Comments Off on Another ‘must-read’ article.

The perils of socialism and bureaucracy

Articles describing how bureaucracy – and bureaucrats – systematically cause delays and unnecessary expenditure.  ‘Yes Minister’ really was a documentary, not fiction!

The welfare state fails Aboriginals yet again

The welfare state fails Aboriginals yet again  By Gary Johns, The Australian, 25 August 2016

The ACTU was there at the start of the land rights movement, supporting the walk-off by Aboriginal stockmen at Wave Hill in August 1966, 50 years ago.

And now, at the end, the ACTU is there again. I say at the end because Wave Hill never made it as an economically viable Aboriginal-run property. In fact, it is hard to find a single Aboriginal venture on Aboriginal land that is viable. Fishing trawlers, cattle, tourism, market gardens, carbon farming and myriad others have almost all failed.

The only employment that has ever been “successful” in remote Aboriginal communities is public sector and “bought” jobs. Many public sector jobs minister to people in need who would not be in need if they had a job. “Bought” jobs are those jobs created for those who would not otherwise find employment. Both types are an admission of failure.

The proof is that the commonwealth has run the Community Development Employment Projects scheme, in various guises, since 1977. It is a paint-rocks-white scheme that makes failure look like success. CDEP came about because of a decision by the Commonwealth Arbitration and Conciliation Commission in 1965, at the behest of the ACTU, to include Aboriginal workers in the Cattle Station Industry (Northern Territory) Award 1951. The decision created widespread unemployment among Aborigines in remote areas of northern Australia. The “solution” to unemployment was to grant Aboriginal people access to unemployment benefits. Unfortunately, when access was granted, the absence of realistic work prospects created a disincentive to work. Aboriginal people were paid to “sit down”.

First came equal wages, then the market sorted out the real worth of many Aboriginal workers and created unemployment. Then came sit-down money. Then came the pooling of unemployment benefits for make-work, which was CDEP. CDEP became known as “stand-up” money. Understand?

As for community development, well, that never happened. Instead came family destruction, the likes of which is reported every other day: crime, child abuse, domestic violence, alcoholism. The Abbott government rebadged CDEP as the Community Development Program. There was an interim program between CDEP and CDP, but it was the same deal, masking the failure to thrive of Aboriginal land rights.

The ACTU wants the CDP dismantled. And it is right to do so. Just as it was right to push for equal wages for Aboriginal workers in the 1960s. But the ACTU is like a stopped watch; it’s right twice (a day) but has no clue what the time is. Equal wages had unintended consequences.

Not every worker was worth his keep. Collective rights to non-tradeable land had unintended consequences. Land is worthless without a productive use. I understand that Aborigines derive a spiritual “income” from the land, but that is a matter for Aborigines, not taxpayers who prop up land rights with make-work schemes.

But the ACTU does not want to abolish CDP because it masks the failure of land rights. It wants more workers’ rights. At the announcement last week of a campaign to remove CDP, ACTU indigenous officer Kara Keys said: “This is a program which discriminates on the basis of race and has no place in a modern society.” On the latter she is so right. But when ACTU secretary Dave Oliver says, “These workers labour without the protection of federal OHS standards or workers’ compensation and earn no superannuation,” he is so wrong.

I have observed many such schemes in many communities, and I can report that there is not a lot of labour involved. This is not work, this is welfare. To pretend that welfare is work is typical of the ACTU. Bugger the unintended consequences, just make sure the “worker” gets his due. In this case, the due is a make-believe job in a non-economy. If the ACTU had its way the entire Australian economy would look like a remote Aboriginal community. No economy, but everyone getting their due and claiming compo.

The ACTU is also campaigning for recognition of Aborigines in the Constitution.

I can tell you now, Dave Oliver, it is not going to happen. It has been 10 years since John Howard promised to consider the proposition and still there is no proposal any government could possibly agree to.

Instead, we keep paying for the new CDEP scheme, and to consult Aborigines about the Constitution, only to be told Aborigines would rather have a treaty. A treaty would be like a mega workers’ compensation scheme forever.

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I quit, the bureaucrats had beaten me

  I quit, the bureaucrats had beaten me  By Charles Hugh-Smith, 13 August 2015

“For many years, many of my friends and family who have come to my home and experienced my cooking, have told me that I should “open a restaurant”. Of course, I took this with a grain of salt since many people say this exact phrase, to many other people. There are a lot of people who are able to create very delicious meals.

About five years ago, there was a restaurant for sale, not too far from my home and business. I thought about buying the restaurant, but at that time, the economy was not doing well and I wanted to take a wait and see attitude before I committed to anything. Eventually, the restaurant closed down and a different type of business opened up in the space that had been a restaurant. That business went under in the middle of 2014 and I decided it might be time to open a retail food establishment in the space that used to be a restaurant. How hard could it be?

I signed a lease with the property owner for his 1000 square foot space. I contracted with a general contractor and designed the restaurant floor space on a CAD program I have on my office machine.

Having boot-strapped two seven figure companies from the ground up over the past 25 years, I knew all of the permits needed in order to open a regular business. First, I had to have my attorney file for incorporation in my state. Then, I secured my FEIN (Federal Employer Identification Number) from the IRS, opened a bank account, got my sales and use tax permit (to collect sales taxes) from the State and contacted the person at the state level who is responsible for food establishments at the state level. The department that handles such things is the Nevada Health Department.

I would need to pay additional fees 

The inspector who is responsible for my geographic area (since I live in a sparsely populated county, we don’t have a county health department) at the state level told me that since the space had not been a restaurant for a few years, I would need to pay additional fees the first year and my endeavor would be treated as a “new” retail food establishment. The cost was an additional $500, but that’s just the way it is. The property already had a grease interceptor (1500 gallons), floor drains, a mop sink, air exchanger on the roof and was mostly plumbed. I’ll get back to this later.

I submitted plans to the state contact person and was told that my symbology was not standard for the plumbing and electrical. The suggestion was made that I seek the services of an architect. Very well. I did. I found an architect who has done some restaurants in the area and we got to work. I submitted my floor plan to him, which he said was very detailed and seemed to use the space to its maximum potential. However, he did mention that if I were going to serve one single person as a dine-in customer, I would have to have at least one ADA compliant bathroom. The space had two existing bathrooms that were ADA, but not the latest version. So, those would have to be upgraded. Next, he told me that if I served, in-house, I would need to provide two ADA compliant bathrooms. I was going to remove one of the ADA bathrooms, so I could have more seating, but if I had more seating, I would need two bathrooms. Catch-22.

I would need to expand the hallway

My architect submitted to the state for review and was told that I would need to expand the hallway. That means that the current hallway walls would need to be completely gutted, with plumbing removed and drains moved.

I guess it really did not matter though, since according to the State of Nevada, I was required to have EIGHT (8) sinks in my 1,000 square foot space. I needed two bathroom sinks (which I had), one dirty sink with three wells, clearly labeled “wash, rinse, sanitize”; this sink needed to have two side-boards of not less than 18 inches etc. I also had to have one prep sink, with a wand facet, one dedicated mop sink, two hand wash stations (that could not be near any other sinks) and a bar sink for smoothies. This meant I had to have an extra floor drain put in, while the others needed to be moved. Great. 8 sinks. Cost to bring the plumbing to code and provide engineered drawings and system? $20-25 thousand.

After six revisions to the plans (to make the state happy), I finally gave the plans to a general contractor. He sent it to his electrical and plumbing sub-contractors. They informed the general that due to code issues, they would have to quote an engineered HVAC system that provided balanced air for the replacement needed by the hood exhaust. The hood exhaust would need to be tied into the HVAC, so that my customers would be in an environment that met the state standards for air quality. OK. The plumber also said that I needed a brand new, engineered waste pipe system, one that could only be installed by jack hammering the entire plumbing system, since the state was requiring a detailed drawing of the pipes in the floor, and since it was put in before they had these requirements, they would want it all dug up and put into a plan. Great. Engineered HVAC cost? $40,000 (even though the place seemed to work fine for 25 years with an evaporative cooler and a gas heater).

New EPA compliant transformers

Next, I was told that since I would need a 200 amp electrical service panel (which I knew), the power company would have to replace the transformer on the pole outside, since new construction (the buildings are 30 years old, but hey, it’s a restaurant) requires new EPA compliant transformers. The power company fee alone would be 12-15 thousand dollars. Cost to upgrade electrical to code? $20,000, including power company costs to install EPA approved transformer.

Next, I was told that I would have to have the gas pipe dug up, jack hammered and replaced with a larger diameter gas line. This would be $20,000 or so dollars. The reason is, of course, that the new code requires a minimum pipe diameter for gas; even though I was only going to have one appliance on gas; the range. Everything else is electric.

Keep in mind that all of this was taking time. In point of fact, from the time I signed the lease in late December, until just this past week, I was doing nothing but getting my paperwork ready and trying to comply with government mandates. Essentially, I spent 7 months trying to not only figure out what I needed to do, while I was paying rent and utilities, but I also spent many hours trying to figure out the complexities of what the state required.

Each person has to take a Food Handler Course

For instance: Each food establishment is required to have at least one Food Service Handling Manager. Each person who serves or prepares food has to take a Food Handler Course. The manager course is about 500 dollars, when all is said and done. The food handler course is about half of that. This is an annual fee.

Aside from what I was being required to do for the construction, the state also required the following:

— A complete list of vendors. Said vendors must be USDA certified wholesale food suppliers. No farmer’s markets, supermarket or home grown.

— A complete menu, listing calories of each ready-made product.

— A sample of my labels for prepackaged product showing nutritional data, ingredients, warnings about any allergens (peanut etc).

— My estimate of how many employees I thought I would need (so they can tax me on each employee, annually, something the county does too)

— Certificates for any employees who would be handling food, including any managers. My Federal EIN and my State tax ID.

— Complete plans, contractors, amount of estimated business (so they can PRE TAX me on estimated sales taxes)

The statutes for retail food are about 500 pages thick

It just goes on and one. The law in Nevada is called the Nevada Revised Statutes, or NRS. The statutes for retail food are about 500 pages thick. That’s just the codes that cover food. This does not cover the building, electrical, plumbing and service codes (such as ADA compliance, handicap parking, etc.)

So, I quit. They beat me.

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The Unquenchable Bushfire Bureaucracy

By Roger Underwoord, Quadrant Online, 4 December 2014.

The end of that great Australian institution, the volunteer country fire brigade, is drawing nigh, done in the ignorance of greens, the ambitions of empire-building desk warriors and layer after counterproductive layer of managerialist protocols. Why use a rake when the taxpayers can be billed for a helicopter?

White Overalls Days

I have been reading Geoff Walker’s wonderful little book White Overalls Days. It is a modest, but entertaining collection of yarns about his time as a member of the Lemon Tree Passage Bushfire Brigade in central coastal NSW in the 1980s. Although I enjoyed it, I was left with a feeling of sadness as I turned the last page. Geoff’s story is told light-heartedly, but it is essentially a tragedy. This is because he describes a process that has been replicated all over Australia to the detriment of our society and our environment: the bureaucratisation of bushfire management.

Geoff’s time with the Lemon Tree Passage brigade typifies an unhappy transition. His early days coincided with the times when local volunteers, with local leadership, organised themselves to go about the business of preventing and fighting bushfires and carrying out fuel reduction burning. They did a great job, and they had fun. By the time he gave it away, the locals had become merely a small cog in a large city-based organisation, led in many cases by people with no real bushfire experience, mired in bureaucracy, and beholden to the political influence of environmentalists. The fun had gone out of it, replaced by the grim business of fighting fires of increasing intensity and danger, due to a lack of basic prevention. (Geoff Walker wrote of his time fighting fires and bureaucracy for Quadrant Online in October)

Fuel-reduction burning program

I have been part of a similar transition. I can remember the days (in 1964) when I was a junior forester with the WA Forests Department, working at Dwellingup in the central jarrah forest. We had a big fuel-reduction burning program, and it was well organised and professionally carried out. Every proposed burn had to be inspected and a prescription prepared that laid out the way the burn would be done and the conditions that must apply on the day. The aim was to get a good burn, but to do no damage. Preparing burn prescriptions was one of my jobs, and I used to do about four a day. For each burn I would do a field inspection and then fill in a one-page form. The forms would be handed in to my boss, DFO Frank Campbell, who would check them over, occasionally make an adjustment, and then approve and sign them. The prescriptions were then given to the field staff whose job it was to do the burns on the days when conditions were as prescribed. It became a little more sophisticated after the advent of aerial burning, but not much.

Compare this with the modern system. The last time I looked at the department’s burn prescription form it was 75 pages in length. Every burn requires a mini-management plan. The entire emphasis has changed 180 degrees, from the outcome of getting a burn completed, to the process of doing the prescription. For example, one of the aspects the prescribing officer must consider is a detailed risk analysis, including the political risks of the burn. Each prescription must be sent to head office (via the district and regional office), and up to nine different senior officers must sign off on it before it is approved, including directors who have no practical bushfire experience whatsoever.

First check for endangered plant species

Most laughable of all, it is a requirement that every proposed burn must be checked to see whether endangered plant species are present. If they are, a special application must be prepared and presented to the Minister for the Environment. This is the same minister who has jurisdiction over the department wanting to do the burn, and as he does not know an endangered plant from a cow, he relies on information from the department to make his decision. This is always to approve the burn. Never once has an application for ministerial permission to undertake a fuel reduction burn been rejected. Well, that’s good and sensible (there are no species of plants in the Jarrah forest that are threatened with extinction by a mild-intensity fuel reduction burn), but this is a story about bureaucracy, not good sense.

All in all, the preparation and approval process for one fuel-reduction burn in the Jarrah forest (which might have taken me two hours in 1964), now can take weeks and can involve up to 12 different officers and even the minister. There is no evidence to suggest that the outcome is better burning, but it is certainly less burning. I suspect that the main advantage of the new system, at least from the departmental viewpoint, is that accountability is now spread so thinly that it will be impossible to find anyone to blame if something goes wrong.

Old-fashioned bushfire management

Meanwhile the old-fashioned and economical method of bushfire management (fuel-reduction burning on the one hand, followed by hand attack of fires by crews with rakes, hoses and shovels on the other) are being replaced by modern and obscenely expensive methods, usually involving helicopters.

There was a classic demonstration of this in a recent, mind-bogglingly awful program on bushfires on SBS television. In a scene in the first episode, a fleet of helicopters (I counted four in the air at the one time in one scene) were looking for lightning strikes in the Blue Mountains. A smouldering log is spotted and a team of park rangers are winched down to deal with it. The log, which is about the size of a power pole, is burning at one end. This is cut off with a chainsaw, leaving a smouldering butt piece about the size of a kerosene tin. The head ranger reaches for his walkie-talkie. “Send in The Bucket!” he commands. A moment later a helicopter carrying a few thousand litres of water choppers in and releases the water onto the burning remnant. I estimated that this operation cost several hundred dollars. Back in the day, the offending piece of wood, having been knocked off with a crosscut, would have been buried, using a shovel. Cost: nothing. Presumably modern park rangers are not capable of using a shovel, or are not allowed to under Health and Safety rules, a further example of bureaucracy gone made.

Preventative burning prevented

Everybody knows what is going on. Bushfire brigades are no longer doing the preventative burning that they used to do to minimise bushfire damage in rural communities. They are submerged in a system in which constraints are layered over constraints, where their work is opposed by environmentalists and made more difficult by local Shires. Firefighters no longer go in to deal with a fire edge using rake, hose and shovel – they are instructed to stay out and wait for the fleet of water bombers to arrive. The tiny number of foresters still left in forest districts in the south-west are fuming with frustration as they confront a system that is all about process and nothing about outcome. Local communities are rumbling with discontent.

But the forces at work are inexorable. It’s basically the old power game, the shots now being called by the bureaucrat in his suit or flashy uniform in head office, with the ear of the minister and an eye to political advantage. Meanwhile the boys in the bush in their white overalls, good with a rake and a hose, but without political power or influence, are increasingly losing the faith.

End of the volunteer bushfire brigade

I foretell the end of that great Australian institution, the volunteer bushfire brigade, with its captain, secretary and treasurer, their fire station, their membership drawn from the local community, their admired status and their pride and esprit de corps. They will be bureaucratised out of existence. We will end up with the American system of paid and uniformed firefighters, operating out of the cities or the larger regional centres so as to minimise costs, lacking local knowledge and constrained from preventative burning by environmentalists operating within government departments or shire councils.

This has certainly been the pattern with government bushfire management in WA. District centres have been closed, staff shifted to regional centres, not replaced — or replaced by officers who play no part in bushfire operations. About 20 years ago you would find a large corps of professional foresters and highly experienced field staff in district offices in places such as Dwellingup and Manjimup. Now they are virtual ghost towns. Meanwhile the burning program has declined to about 30% of where it should be, as field staff grapple with the absurd bureaucratic constraints imposed upon them, and dangerous bushfire fuels are now more extensive than ever before in history.

Two tragedies

There are, in fact, two tragedies in all this. First there is the tragedy that an economical  system that worked has been replaced by an expensive one that does not. The second is that the changes have a sort of ghastly momentum to them: everybody can see what is going on, but nobody seems able or willing to do anything about it. The most disastrous changes seem somehow to be irreversible.

Over the years ahead there will be an increase in the number and nastiness of bushfires in southern Australia. Global warming will be offered as the explanation, as well as the excuse. But the truth is different: once effective management and community systems have been dismantled, and the result is a countryside utterly exposed to unstoppable wildfires. We are reaping what has been sown.

Reference: Walker, Geoff (2002): White Overall Days. Newcastle City Printers

Roger Underwood is a retired forester, and is Chairman of The Bushfire Front, a volunteer organisation dedicated to improving the standard of bushfire management in WA.

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A wider perspective of the insidious perils of bureaucracy was described in the Kis report – Government for the Silent Majority.  The full KiS report can be downloaded from the post link in Latest Posts.  But to save the reader time, Section 3.14 is repeated below.

The KiS report – Bureaucracy

 The KiS report – By Peter Senior, 11 May 2011

Bureaucratic Government Management

Most Government Departments become increasingly bureaucratic over time.  The Sir Humphrey Appleby mindset – named after the head of the Civil Service in the brilliant British comedy, Yes Minister – becomes entrenched in many influential government leaders.  Many factors cause this creeping disease that often results in additional and unnecessary costs, delays, poor decisions, excessive intrusion into people’s lives, manipulation of data and generally sub-optimal results.  This section considers just a few indicative examples.

Most government department staff are competent and diligent.  But working within a culture of bureaucracy where leaders regularly demand bureaucratic complexity is enough to defeat even the most sincere staff member trying to promote a better approach – pity these staff.

Administrative costs of 15 home loans: $10 million

An editorial in The Australian provided an insight into the world of bureaucrats:  ‘In the real world, $10 million builds forty large, family homes or 100 comfortable, three-bedroom bungalows.  In the world of Canberra bureaucracy, it merely covers the administrative costs of fifteen home loans’.  An allied example was noted:

The funds set aside to construct and renovate houses in the remote Aboriginal community of Wadeye are going towards administration and company costs.  A leaked draft budget, prepared by the company contracted under the federal government’s Strategic Indigenous Housing and Infrastructure Program to perform the work at Wadeye, allocates $20.642 million for administrative and establishment costs.  According to the government’s published budget for SIHIP, the Wadeye package, which consists of 105 new dwellings, 167 refurbishments and 28 rebuilds, would cost $65.375m, putting the administration and establishment costs at 31.6% of the total budget.  The Coalition’s indigenous affairs spokesman, Nigel Scullion, said this was before the guaranteed profit for the company of up to 20% that was written into the contract and the project management fees of 8% were deducted from the program budget.

National Audit Office report

An Australian National Audit Office report tabled in the federal parliament noted most of the $178 million pledged for 106 projects through the Better Regions program was promised to marginal seats in rural areas.  Only thirty-five projects had been completed by 30 September 2010, nearly three years after approval.  Administration of the scheme had serious shortfalls: one South Australian council was promised $275,000 for a business centre that had already won a similar grant from the former Howard government.  The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government took 10 months to notice that two business centres in Adelaide Hills, each approved for $275,000 in funding, were one and the same.  In four cases, the department did not even know which politician had promised the projects it was funding.  Eight projects were approved even though the department had rejected them from a similar Howard government scheme in 2007, on the grounds they failed a value-for-money test.  The audit report found the incoming Rudd government drew up funding guidelines for the Better Regions program six weeks after it had announced the successful projects, during the election campaign.

Taxation

The objectives of taxation have become confused and opaque

Consider part of a July 2002 address by Michael Carmody, Commissioner of Taxation:

On the subject of complexity of law […] I would love to have simple law to administer.  But I do not believe there is such a silver bullet.  This is because the objective of simple laws has a history of running up against the objective of achieving equity, often reflecting demands for recognition of special cases legitimately raised by industry and others.  The law also necessarily reflects the complexity of the commercial and social environment it operates within.  Let me illustrate.  When the GST was introduced in Australia, it was necessary for the Government to weigh up these competing factors.  We now have in excess of 540 pages of GST legislation but only 95 pages covers the basic rules of the GST.  That is 95 pages cover the basic rules as to when and how GST arises and who is liable to pay it; when and how input tax credits arise and who is entitled to them; how to work out payments and refunds of GST; and when and how the payments and refunds are made.  Most of the remaining pages deal with equity issues (such as food and charities), rules to deal with complex arrangements in certain industries (such as financial services and insurance) and rules to deal with other special circumstances.  The increased use of the tax law as a vehicle to deliver social benefits also adds to the length and complexity of the law.  However, I can’t see too many people prepared to give up entitlements to these benefits in the interests of shortening the Tax Act.

The points made by Carmody represent a very small fraction of a tax system that has evolved into some 16,000 pages of federal tax legislation.  One key problem is that very few, if any, people involved in creating and applying tax law have an incentive to simplify the law:  it is arguable that most have more incentive to make tax law even more complex.  A simple tax system would reduce or remove the incomes of an army of people involved in each step of the convoluted process.  Another basic question is: does Australia still want to apply socialist principles of ‘achieving equity’ through its tax system as well as pandering to special interest groups, often associated with political ‘pork barrelling’?

Health reform

………….is bogged down in squabbles over who will pay

Rohan Mead, Chairman, Business Council Australia stated research conducted by the BCA underlines that health is critical to the prosperity of individuals and for the economy.  Poor health and disability prevent both sufferers and carers from participating fully in education and the workforce.  It drives earlier retirements and leads to more absenteeism and lower productivity.  People are living longer, but with more illness.  Chronic disease costs about $30 billion a year (3% of GDP) in direct costs and lost productivity.  Yet up to one third of this is preventable.  The healthcare sector costs are growing, currently over $113 billion annually, or 9% of GDP, employing some 1.3 million people.

Ensuring efficient allocation of resources within our increasingly capacity-challenged economy, the health sector’s efficiency and effectiveness is vital.  Considerations of efficiency, effectiveness, productivity and achieving value for money are largely lost in political debate about who will pay for health.  Experts estimate that up to 20% of resources used in the health sector are wasted, either through treatment in inappropriate settings, duplication, errors or administrative inefficiency.  This is reinforced by research showing relatively low rates of productivity improvement and claims of innovation being stifled by bureaucratic processes.  Poor morale ensures that too many highly trained health professionals, such as nurses, leave the profession.

Another example reported in February, 2011:  the Australian Health Practitioner Registration Agency was failing to complete registrations on time.  Some of the 290,000 health practitioners and some physiotherapists and doctors had been forced to stop working.  Dozens of nurse graduates were arriving for their first jobs, but could not start because their registrations were not available.

Australian Defence

……….. challenges Gosplan and Yes Minister

Henry Ergas, a regulatory economist, wrote in The Australian:

[Defence] is a world of central planning without a central planner, as endless committees blur responsibility, ensure there are few penalties for being wrong or rewards for being right, and entrench a culture in which to get along is to go along.  This week’s saga, revolving around the navy’s inability to provide a single amphibious ship, highlights the resulting pathologies.  How can it be that there were ‘insufficient resources to address shortcomings’ in the ships’ maintenance when the department’s 2009-10 annual report says cost reduction targets in maintenance were ‘over-achieved’, that is, exceeded by $200 million?  How is that it has taken since 2006, when “competence in the System Program Office had fallen well below an acceptable level”, to rebuild that competence, especially given the 60% increase in the number of senior Defence staff over the past decade?  Defence spends about $26.8 billion a year, close to 2% of national income, and directly or indirectly employs 1% of our labour force.  The aim of this spending is to be able to defend Australia from attack.  The reality is of frequent bungles.  Baseline defence funding, excluding supplementation for operations, increased by more than 50% in real terms in the decade from 2000/01. The 2007 Defence Management Review concluded that the ‘comparative wealth’ that growing funding has provided Defence ‘undermines respect for cost and efficiency’  With no sensible mechanism for setting spending priorities, it will not take long for the force structure to become unviable.  Averting that outcome requires dramatically better processes for taking defence decisions.

System or systemic failure?

The Queensland Health payroll fiasco is an example of exceptionally poor management even by normal government standards.  An inspection of how this major IT project was undertaken reveals that many of the normal checks and balances for a project of this type were ignored or over-ridden.  For instance, failing to run the new system in parallel with the old system several times until the new system produced correct results, identical to the existing system – the first full ‘test’ was in fact a live run which failed dismally.  By then it was deemed impossible to revert to the old system.  Months later there were still numerous errors with many staff underpaid or not paid at all.  And, to cap it all, the accountable senior managers and politicians (in particular, the Minister) neither resigned nor were sacked.  Another example is the appalling Roof Insulation program managed by government that resulted in massive expense, rorts and several deaths before it was cancelled.

Every government group, project or program involves purchasing, or supply management to use its modern extended name that takes account of the full ‘end-to-end’ process.  The annual total of government purchases of services and products in Australia is over one trillion dollars, depending on exactly what is included as a ‘purchase’.  Stating the blindingly obvious, Australians expect the very best levels of competence and processes to ensure all purchases are optimal.  A review of recent Defence Department purchasing reveals massive waste, the Building the Education Revolution (BER) was riddled with disgraceful management and purchasing, as was the roof insulation program.

Supply-management

Problems in supply-management can include corruption, but fortunately this is quite rare in Australia, although it is a major issue when purchasing from overseas where expectations of kick-backs are often the norm.

Most people involved in government purchasing in Australia are both competent and diligent.  Problems of unsatisfactory purchases usually concern the purchasing processes that have invariably evolved over many decades.  Current purchasing systems such as the commonly used German SAP have become extremely complex; operating the system often becomes an end in itself rather than optimising a particular purchase.  Horror stories abound, such as NASA spending $4,382.50 to purchase thirty-four pencils, and before Federal Reinvention, government processes and red tape were so costly that buying a $6.00 hammer cost the government about $400.00.

Focus on the rear-view mirror

Probably the two areas that create the most complex, bureaucratic and unproductive effort are current historic accounting requirements and accounting for the Goods and Service Tax (GST).  Accounting has become so complex that compliance work is the largest part of most accounting effort.  The great majority of the detail is totally and utterly useless from a productivity and planning viewpoint, except in the occasional case where fraud is detected.  Even with fraud, were it not for the horrendous complexity of accounting systems it is likely that fraud would have been noticed much sooner.  Supply management suffers from similar problems, and in any case accounting for purchases has to obey accounting rules.  The really useful part of accounting (understanding the financial aspects of a business, organisation or government and quantifying strategies and plans) becomes confused with the complexities of historical accounting and the mass (or should that be ‘mess’?) of associated regulations.  These regulations have evolved since double-entry book-keeping was invented (the first written description of double-entry book-keeping seems to be a 1458 manuscript by an Italian, Benedetto Cotrugli).

Accountants’ work mostly historic

Most accountants’ work relates to the past, providing historical records and financial measurement of past performance.  In most cases accountants operate up to sixteen months behind. Much of their work is compliance for which they really are servants of the tax office.  Many of the more capable accountants find compliance work is very tedious and long to branch out into various challenging aspects of planning: cost/benefit analyses, financial modelling, scenario development and more – the really interesting stuff that requires different skills plus more advanced and broader levels of thinking.

Many corporations have fallen into the same trap as government departments and allowed their information technology (IT or computer) departments to introduce ever more complex supply management systems.  Rarely do the additional complexities result in overall savings; the opposite is often revealed if a full audit is carried out.  Government departments rarely carry out full post-project audits, knowing these often reveal failure to produce the savings promised in the proposal preceding the system or system change purchase.

Talking to private company staff who are involved in supplying government departments can elicit comments, often including expletives, about their frustration and annoyance at delays, waste and bureaucracy.  Again, pity the government department staff on the receiving end when they have no choice but to follow official procedures.

The Australian Public Service

…..are the Australian Public Service Code of Conduct and Values ignored?

Many issues noted in this report raise questions about the Australian Public Service (APS) Code of Conduct and Values:  ‘APS employees are required, under the Code of Conduct, to behave at all times in a way that upholds the APS Values.’  The APS Values include:  ‘The Australian Public Service: has the highest ethical standards; is openly accountable for its actions, within the framework of Ministerial responsibility to the Government, the Parliament and the Australian public; is responsive to the Government in providing frank, honest, comprehensive, accurate and timely advice and in implementing the Government’s policies and programs.’

Thou shalt support thy Minister

Staff in one government department made no secret of the fact that their key driver was ‘thou shalt support thy Minister at all times’.  Their Minister, a typical career politician with few qualifications and no business or management experience whatsoever, reacted immediately to any media comment about his department.  The Minister simply told his staff to ‘fix’ the problem.  He usually rubber-stamped his department’s budgets (which had already been agreed with Treasury) and had little interest in the department’s plans or performance criteria.

What sort of staff behaviour would you expect in this situation?  It’s difficult to think of any positives, but easy to list numerous negatives.  If a member of staff spots a major problem, they could report it to their manager who is unlikely to want to ‘rock the boat’.  Or he or she could become a ‘whistle blower’?  Most countries’ laws, including Australia’s, provide little protection for ‘whistle blowers’; support often relies on media publicity, but that can be a mixed blessing – recall Dr Patel’s disgrace, at Bundaberg Hospital:  the staggering incompetence and the agonies the courageous nurse, Toni Hoffman, was put through for years after ‘blowing the whistle’.

‘Make-work’

Typically bureaucracy involves ‘make-work’, ensuring rules are not broken, step-by-step processes are followed exactly and an almost total lack of opportunity for innovation.  But as one civil servant commented:  ‘The pay is OK, the only time things get rushed is when the Minister demands a fix for the latest media leak, superannuation is great and job security is even better.  Can’t be bad, eh?’  Perhaps this last point explains why most staff at government call-centers are invariable pleasant, polite and helpful within the limitations of the processes and regulations they are asked about.

Reiterating, most government staff are competent and work hard.  However, with rare exceptions, the overly complex processes that have evolved in government departments over many decades invariably prevent even the best, most capable and most innovative staff from making significant improvements.  The natural order of government appears to be entropy; descending to the maximum degree of complexity.

Some government staff find they can live within such an environment and gain satisfaction from aspects of their work. Others depart out of utter frustration.  Peter’s Principle – everyone gets promoted to their level of incompetence – often prevails.

Bureaucratic flood damage

Jennifer Marohasy is a biologist and adjunct research fellow in the Centre for Plant and Water Science at Central Queensland University.  The following is the beginning and end of a long story she wrote recently:

‘While residents of Wagga Wagga scrambled to save their belongings from rising flood waters there was a rumour circulating that the crisis was exacerbated by bureaucratic incompetence, in particular that Snowy Hydro was releasing environmental flow water into the already flooded Murrumbidgee River.  […] So I sent some more queries back into internet world and all was finally revealed.  A most reliable source and someone who recently attended a meeting with David Harris, the boss of Snowy Hydro, explained that somewhere in the range of 4,000 to 5,000 mega litres of water per day would continue to flow from the Snowy Hydro System, regardless of downstream impacts, because of environmental flow obligations in the Snowy Hydro operating licence.  Yep!  Blowering Dam may be out of control, the water belting out of Burrunjuck, the Central Murray likely to go under again as early as Wednesday, but because of a formal agreement between NSW Office of Water and Snowy Hydro, involving an obligation to South Australia, approximately 500,000 mega litres, equivalent to one Sydney Harbour of water, must be released as soon as possible as environmental flow.

In short, senior bureaucrats have signed off on an agreement, which they are now honouring, which requires environmental flow releases into the already swollen Murray and Murrumbidgee Rivers.  Of course these men in suits don’t live in the Murray Darling Basin and they would continue to receive a salary, paid into their Sydney bank accounts, regardless of how many extra wheat fields flood and extra homes are destroyed.’

Derivative trading by Snowy Hydro

Subsequently Jennifer added:

What I didn’t know back then, but I do now, is that the formal agreement facilitates derivative trading by Snowy Hydro on the electricity market with the profits flowing to the Commonwealth, NSW and Victorian governments.  […]  Indeed it is the ultimate in hypocrisy for Minister Burke to be insisting farmers give back water allocations under the new planning scheme to save the environment, while his corporation wastes water in derivative trading on the electricity market.

The good old days

………… before complexity entangled all

A colleague was head of Works in Papua New Guinea whilst Australia was still involved in PNG’s government (PNG became independent in 1975).  He describes how he managed all Works for a huge and wild area with very basic infrastructure, few staff and no regulations.  He had a small budget and minimal guidance except to provide the essentials (including escorting Queen Elizabeth during two visits).  He asked, ‘why can’t governments do as good a job given their vastly greater resources?’  The answer is simple:  stupendously complex systems, excessive regulations and bureaucracy.

Fortunately, there are examples of government departments being managed well with capable staff delivering efficient services.  These examples provide clues about how to overcome the malaise.  A series of large departments were headed by a career bureaucrat whose natural instincts were to follow sound management practices, including leadership and excellent people-management.  She resisted attempts to bring her into line with more normal government management approaches through sheer force of personality, intellect, delivering the requisite results within budget and stone-walling.  Oh that there were more of her type either already working for government or prepared to shift from private industry.

‘The Australian Government beat me to it.’

Appendix G is a joke distributed on the Internet.  It tells the story of God directing Noah to build an ark within six months before he sends floods to Australia.  When God called six months later, Noah apologized abjectly, describing a long list of bureaucratic delays and complications that had prevented him even starting to build the ark.  ‘So, forgive me, Lord, but it will take at least ten years for me to finish this Ark.’  Suddenly the skies cleared over Australia, the sun began to shine, and a rainbow stretched across the sky.  Noah looked up in wonder and asked, ‘You mean you’re not going to destroy the world?’  ‘No,’ said the Lord.  ‘The Australian Government beat me to it.’  Biting humour is a trademark of writers and cartoonists used as a means of demonstrating important issues.

It would be unfair and wrong to imply that all government systems and results are failures.  There are numerous examples of successes.  However, examining these successes often uncovers the result of government staff and contractors working outside of the official systems and procedures, applying their own initiative and ‘bending’ rules to enable a better result.  Other successes involve smaller, less complex and less interconnected systems.

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Elitists, Left and PC activists threaten democracy

PC, the acronym for ‘politically correct’ and even worse, is insidiously insinuating the Progressive’s program of state nanny control, welfare, collectivism, bureaucracy and even Marxism on an unsuspecting population.

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George Soros’ evil influence on Western politics

George Soros evil influence on Western politics  By Jennifer Oriel, The Australian, 22 August 2016

In perhaps the biggest political scandal since WikiLeaks, a group of hackers has dumped hundreds of files exposing the influence of socialist billionaire George Soros on Western politics.

The files show Soros has established a transnational network that pressures governments to adopt high immigration targets and porous border policies that could pose a challenge to legitimate state sovereignty. His Open Society Foundations target individuals who criticise ­Islamism and seek to influence the outcome of national elections by undermining Right-leaning politicians. The Australian arm of the Soros network is GetUp!.

GetUp! was established by ­activists Jeremy Heimans and David Madden with funding from Soros. The Labor-affiliated Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union donated $1.1 million to the group. Bill Shorten and John Hewson are former board members. A major funder listed on its 2014-15 Australian Electoral Commission expenditure return is Avaaz, the US GetUp! ­affiliate that has received copious amounts of funding from Soros networks.

Like most NGOs, GetUp! claims to be independent from political parties. Like many NGOs, however, it has close ties to the Left. As Sharri Markson ­revealed in this paper, GetUp! chairwoman Sarah Maddison urged people to vote for the Greens in the past federal election.

In the wake of the election, GetUp!’s Paul Oosting revealed its campaign strategy was to target conservative MPs to reduce their influence. Immigration Minister Peter Dutton was a primary GetUp! target. In Tasmania, the organisation spent up to $500,000 to unseat Andrew Nikolic and forked out $140,000 on campaign advertising alone.

GetUp! has engaged in an ­effective reframing of politics by rebranding conservatives as the hard Right while recasting the Left as moderate or progressive. Many sections of the media have uncritically adopted GetUp!’s rhetoric, which effectively divides the ­Coalition by aligning conservatives falsely with a range of hard-Right views that they abhor.

Soros-affiliated organisations follow a well-worn political and rhetorical strategy updated for the digital age. Like the socialists and communists of old, they attack liberal democracy by delegitimising the classically liberal values of ­individualism, free speech, logical argument and public reason. They attack democratic states by advocating a porous border policy, ­reframing illegal immigrants as refugees and degrading critics of totalitarian tendencies such as ­Islamism in orchestrated campaigns of PC censorship. Documents uncovered by Soros leaks reveal a pattern of funding for programs that prosecute porous borders, mass immigration into the Wes­t nations from Islamist regions, and overt campaigns against dissenters. OSF has provided several million to the Centre for American Progress, whose programs ­include the explicit targeting of free­thinkers critical of Islamism. A recent program grant described a strategy to target six critics of ­Islamism and the “right-wing media” in an “audit of Islamophobic activities”.

OSF has extended its reach in the European Union through NGO and human rights networks. It sought to influence EU elections by thwarting the success of candidates it deemed xenophobic or racist. The term xenophobic is commonly applied by the Left to politicians who seek ­rational immigration with a focus on resettlement rather than the disastrous porous border policy championed by the EU’s Green-socialist bloc. The OSF also funded a range of media projects focused on changing how journalists report on politicians and policies cast as xenophobic, intolerant or far Right. Leaked documents reveal OSF’s endorsement of questionable tactics to achieve its aims. A document ­reviewed by news source Breitbart states: “Naming and shaming from us is problematic: we are also in the business of channelling money into other countries for political purposes.”

It is neither uncommon nor ­illegal for philanthropists to fund political advocacy groups and lobby politicians. However, there is an ethical line between evidence-based advocacy by NGOs and disproportionate influence on the democratic process.

Following the Soros leaks, concerns have been raised about the influence of groups claiming to be disinterested third parties and NGOs on core Western values such as free speech and government by the people. In one of the leaked documents, there appears to be a problematic connection ­between Soros funding and campaigning against politically incorrect media. OSF took credit for funding an advocacy campaign in which a group worked to “take away” news anchor Lou Dobbs’s platform on CNN. Dobbs resigned from CNN amid controversy over his critical views on immigration. I would criticise some of Dobbs’s statements but conform to the view that free speech is protected unless an individual or group ­incites violence or engages in terrorist or treasonous activities.

Another leaked report suggests Soros and OSF played a direct role in Barack Obama’s decision to ­increase the US immigration target. Soros wrote to Obama to ­request the increase while OSF advocates organised a group to act. In its 2015 report, the OSF board stated it took “very active efforts … to provide a special allocation of an additional 100,000 refugee slots for Syrians … In the face of this pressure, the Obama administration announced … that by 2017 it would raise to 100,000 the total number of refugees the US takes worldwide each year.”

While NGOs and human rights groups routinely demand greater governmental transparency and accountability, they are rarely required to live up to their own standards. A new global transparency group, Transparify, rated Soros’s foundations zero for transparency among 200 organisations. Ironically, Transparify ­receives funding from OSF.

The belief the NGO sector has been hijacked by interests intent on challenging sovereignty to ­destabilise legitimate states is driving governments to introduce legislation to neutralise the perceived threat. A NGO transparency bill introduced by Israel was condemned by the EU, the UN, US Democrats and many human rights organisations. The law ­demands that NGOs whose primary support comes from foreign political entities publicly disclose the fact. Unsurprisingly, many of the NGOs exposed by the law were left-wing and human rights organisations that challenge ­Israel’s right to sovereign power by attacking its border ­security policy.

Expect NGOs to continue ­attacking conservative MPs who champion liberal democracy by defending Australia’s sovereign border and national security policy. It is perhaps time to rewrite the NGO sector’s demand for government transparency and accountability as a mutual obligation.

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What Became of the Left?

What Became of the Left  Paul Craig Roberts, Institute for Political Economy, 20 August 2016

Acquaintances of my generation are puzzled by the disappearance of the American left. They remember when there was far less war, far less monopoly capitalist theft, a less rich and powerful elite, less police violence against civilians, less militarization, less privatization and deregulation, fewer attacks on the social safety net, less propaganda from the media, and yet, despite the milder state of affairs, the leftwing was present raising hell about it all.

For fifteen years, and more if we go back to the Clinton regime’s destruction of Yugoslavia, the US has been engaged in wars on populations in seven—eight counting Yugoslavia/Serbia—countries, causing millions of deaths, disabled, and dislocated peoples. A police state has been created, the US Constitution stripped of its protective features, and massive crimes committed under both US and international law by three administrations. These crimes include torture, transparant false flag events, naked aggression (a war crime), spying without warrants, and murder of US citizens. Yet, the leftwing’s voice is barely heard.

Clearly, my acquaintances are beginning to miss the challenge to explanations and the country’s direction that the left formerly provided. I know how they feel. We used to be pushed along by biases and stereotypical thinking, and the left was there to rattle our cage. Now we are pushed along by propaganda and there is no countervailing force except a few Internet voices.

I remember telling the audience in the Q&A session after my Frank M. Engle Lecture in 1992 that I never realized how much we would miss US Supreme Court Justices Brennan and Marshall.

Today we need a leftwing far more desperately than we did when we had one. Today governments considered democratic have the powers of a dictatorship. In the United States, for example, habeas corpus has been erased from both law and Constitution. Even worse, White House officials can create lists of citizens to be murdered without due process of law. These are the powers of a dictator. Yet, these attributes of dictatorship are now institutionalized and go unremarked.

One would think that the dispossessed American workers, whose jobs and financial security have been moved offshore and given to foreigners, would be protesting in the streets like the French do. But not a peep. When presidential candidate Ross Perot warned American workers of what was about to happen to them, they did not have enough confidence to vote for him. Have the dispossessed American workers gained enough sense—or is the problem a lack of leadership—to vote for Trump who acknowledges the job loss that is eroding the prospects of the 99 percent? If Trump does not intend to deliver or is incapable of delivering, we are still better off because a failure to deliver raises the awareness of the people.

From the standpoint of the left, there is a perfect environment for them in present day America. So where is the left?

Here is my answer to the question. The left suffered a tremendous blow when the Soviet Union collapsed. The Soviet collapse deprived the left of its belief that there was an alternative to American “democratic capitalism.” The Soviet collapse also disheartened the left because the collapse removed any constraint on Washington’s unilateralism. With China shaking off Mao and moving into the capitalist camp, there was no one to pick up the torch.

People are puzzled why the left goes along with the government’s explanations of what appear to be orchastrated false flag terror events. If people of no political persuasion, such as architects and engineers, physicists, nano-chemists, firemen and first responders, airline and military pilots, challenge on the basis of evidence the official account of 9/11, why does the leftwing defend the account of a government that in other circumstances the left distrusts 120%? The left knows that Tonkin Gulf was an orchestration for war, that Saddam Hussein had no “weapons of mass destruction,” that Iran had no nukes. The left knows that the government lies through its teeth, so why does the left believe the government’s improbable conspiracy theory of 9/11?

The answer, I think, is that with the demise of Marxism, the left’s only hope is that the peoples oppressed by the West will rise up. The left finds huge emotional satisfaction in 9/11 as blowback of the oppressed against the oppressor. This is why the left clings to the official story of 9/11. And to the stories of other “terrorist events,” such as Orlando and Nice despite the lack of any real evidence in behalf of the stories.

I can remember when the Amerian left, if told that a large truck travelling at a reported 56 miles per hour had mowed down 185 people and, then, being shown in the immediate aftermath the truck devoid of a spot of blood, clothing, human flesh, or even a small dent, would have shouted down the obviously false account.

Ask someone who has hit a dog at 56 mph about the blood and damage to the car. Ask someone who has hit a deer and the car is totalled. Ask experts if a large truck hit a person at 56 mph if the person’s body would remain intact and could be viewed lying without any apparant damage or blood in the street.

You don’t need to ask, do you? You see the point. The force of a large truck moving at 56 mph that hits a human is going to splatter that human all over the street. Yet, the Nice photos show no such event.

I can remember when the American left, if told by a Nice police official that the French Minister of the Interior in Paris had ordered Nice authorities not to release and to immediately destroy the entire filming of the alleged terror event from security cameras posted along the entire street where allegedly 185 people were hit by a truck and, additionally, to falsify the police report of the event, the left would have been demanding blood from the authorities, not calling those who do demand explanations “conspiracy kooks.”

Today the American left wants to shut down those who do raise questions about such very strange events in which a few Saudis who could not fly airplanes prevailed over the American National Security State and in which 185 people are allegedly hit by a large truck but the photos show no such results and the Paris officials order the destruction of the recorded evidence and the falsification of the report.

The official story of 9/11 is the justification for the wars. It is difficult to oppose wars when you accept the reason for them. By accepting the government’s 9/11 conspiracy theory, the leftwing killed the antiwar movement.

Why does the left trust the government precisely on those matters that the government uses to justify war and a police state? The answer is that those who challenge the official story deprive the left of the emotional satisfaction that comes from the belief that oppressed peoples are capable of striking back and do strike back. Alexander Cockburn once explained this to me himself. He said that when I report the challenges of experts to the official 9/11 story, I am taking away the dignity of oppressed peoples by assuming that they do not strike back against their oppressors. Alex could not accept the truth, because it meant that the oppressed acquiesced in their oppression.

I understand how Alex saw it. I understand the importance to any movement of hope, and I regret that the left has positioned itself such that facts undermine hope, causing the left to come out against facts.

I offer the left, or the simulacrum that remains, a different hope: trust the power of truth. Don’t defend the oppressor, attack him, and as you attack him your might will grow. People are not forever fools. A time comes when their personal situation contradicts the story fed to them. But if there is no leadership, awareness cannot graduate into revolt.

The West needs a strong leftwing movement with the strength to challenge the lies that are leading the world to a war of extinction of life. I would prefer a reformist left to a revolutionary one, but this is not to say that a revolutionary left is not preferable to what exists today, which is revolutionary neoconservatism without opposition from a countervailing force.

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21st-century Left waging new war on free speech

21st-century Left waging new war on free speech  By Jennifer Oriel, The Australian, 15 August 2015

Free speech was forged as a right through centuries of bloody wars. Western history brims with the names of martyrs who sacrificed their lives so the children of enlightenment ­­— you and I — would be liberated from the yoke of censors to discern the truth and state it openly. The 21st-century Left is waging new war on free speech by eroding its legal protections and degrading its cultural value. There is no better way to devalue freedom than to publicly disesteem its most potent defenders. But after years of sustained attacks, illustrator Bill Leak and columnist Andrew Bolt are still standing.

Like the censors of old, Australia’s censorial class is brimming with mediocrities who perceive Leak’s unfettered talent as a threat to their illegitimate power.

Despite being fattened on taxpayer funds and surrounded by fawning dullards, the PC censors proscribing our right to reason are demonstrably incapable of beating Leak or Bolt in a battle of wits. So they incite the mob to bully freethinkers out of public life. Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane has urged people to complain about Leak’s latest thought crime: a politically incorrect cartoon.

Aren’t jihadists waging war on the West? Wasn’t Leak forced to move house after Islamists threatened to kill him? Apparently, what concerned the Australian Human Rights Commission more was the unfolding drama of cartoon capers. After Leak’s cartoon was published, grown men got outraged. Caps lock felt the burn all over Twitter. Then the ABC reported on Twitter. Then Twitter reported on the ABC reporting on Twitter. Then right-on dudes tapped out super aggro letters about Leak’n’stuff to 4realz social justice warriors @postcode #2000. OMG. Trigger warning!

Meanwhile, children are being beaten, abused and neglected every day in Australia. And some of them are Aboriginal children neglected by drunken Aboriginal men — the subject of Leak’s cartoon. People who neglect and abuse children should be held up for public scrutiny whatever their skin colour, culture or sex. And artists who reveal that abuse should not be censored for offending those offended by truth.

There should be no get-off-scot-free card because you are born female, or black, or haven’t migrated from the land of your forebears. None of those facts makes you a better human being than your fellow citizen, or deserving of superior protections and privileges under law.

The idea that made the free world free and the world’s most humanising principle is that we are each born free and equal, endowed with reason. Under the regime of minority privileges enshrined in the Racial Discrimination Act, however, we are once again unequal and endowed with emotion. I feel therefore I am has replaced reason in the minority Left rule book. I’m offended therefore you’re wrong is the revelation bequeathed by the PC Left.

In a speech last Friday, Tony Abbott conceded that as prime minister, he failed Australia on free speech because his government did not repeal section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act. The notorious section prohibits speech deemed offensive or insulting by state-designated racial minorities. It was introduced by the Labor Party under Paul Keating. The most infamous 18c case was brought against Bolt. Justice Bromberg’s ruling on the Bolt case makes for fascinating reading. In particular, the broadening of the legal definition of race to include religious groups deserves more critical review.

Soutphommasane recently produced his own interpretation of race and religion in an article on racism: “Some believe something is only truly racist if it involves a belief in racial superiority … Anti-Muslim hostility, meanwhile, is frequently excused on the grounds that ‘Islam is not a race’ … As for Islam not being a race? That’s a clever trick — one that ignores how anti-Muslim feeling can involve a mingling of ideas about race, culture and religion.”

I have never read a more confused analysis of racism. But there is a much clearer pattern of persecution emerging in Australia. And it seems not to trouble human rights commissioners, the Press Council, or other taxpayer-funded organisations such as the ABC. It is the persecution of Australian artists and writers by Islamists.

In 2015, Leak was forced to move house after Islamists threatened to kill him because he drew a cartoon featuring Mohammed in response to the jihadist slaughter of Charlie Hebdo artists. A year and a half later in a safer house, there are five emergency alert cards affixed permanently to his computer in case jihadists find their way to him. How many of the outraged Twits and commissioners attacking Leak put their lives on the line each day in defence of free expression?

In 2015, a Muslim also threatened the life of Bolt. In 2016, there has been another jihadist threat on his life and this time, he had to move his family from their home while police investigated.

Where is the outrage from the ABC, Human Rights Commission and Press Council and about Islamists threatening to kill our artists and writers? Or is free speech only protected in Australia if it’s left wing?

Liberal senators who champion free speech have joined with Derryn Hinch and Pauline Hanson in a renewed push to amend or repeal s18c. In response, the minority Left and Labor Party have reverted to the strategy that thwarted the Abbott government’s attempt to restore free speech. Opposition legal affairs spokesman Mark Dreyfus has suggested that critics of 18c support “race hate speech”. Dreyfus appointed Soutphommasane to the Human Rights Commission in 2013.

The coming battle over free speech and the Racial Discrimination Act will test the Liberal coalition’s commitment to freedom. This time, however, the tactic of using race as a political tool to browbeat dissenters into submission is well known.

We need a more muscular liberalism to defeat PC censors, their culture of codified bigotry and their determination to destroy the hard-won freedoms that distinguish the West from the rest. We will not let another freethinker fall while 18c stands.

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Rise and Fall of the US Empire

The US is the dominant world power.  But it is failing, for similar reasons the Roman Empire failed.  Read the following articles to understand why.

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Decline of Empire: Parallels Between the U.S. and Rome

 Decline of Empire, Parallels Between the U.S. and Rome  By Doug Casey, Bonner and Partners, Inner Circle, 19 August 2016

Let me start by saying I’m not sure the collapse of Rome was a bad thing.

There were many positive aspects to Rome – as there are to most civilizations. But there was much else to Rome of which I disapprove, such as its anticommercialism, its militarism, and, post-Caesar, its centralized and increasingly totalitarian government.

In that light, it’s worth considering whether the collapse of the U.S. may not also be a good thing. Another point of clarification: It’s somewhat misleading to talk about a simple “fall of Rome.” It’s more accurate to talk about its gradual transformation, with episodes of what paleontologists describe as “punctuated disequilibrium.”

But Republican Rome fell in 27 BC with the accession of Augustus and the start of what’s called the Principate period. The emperors were now in charge. But they were still, at least in theory, just the “first among equals.” [See nearby box.] The U.S. entered its own Principate period with the accession of President Roosevelt in 1933. Since then, the president has reigned supreme over Congress, as Emperor Augustus did over the Roman senate. Pretenses fell off increasingly over time in Rome, just as they have in the U.S. After the 3rd century AD, with constant civil war and

The Three Phases of Rome

Broadly speaking, there are three distinct periods of ancient Rome:

  1. Roman Republic (509 BC to 27 BC) – The government was headed by two elected consuls, who were advised by the senate. The consuls held a one-year term.
  2. Principate Period (27 BC to AD 284) – The emperors took charge and ruled like military dictators. But they retained the façade of the Republic – with its senate, assemblies, and magistrates. To keep the outward appearance of the old Republic, they avoided calling themselves emperors. Instead, they referred to themselves in Latin as Princeps Civitatis (“First Citizen of the State”). Hence the name Principate.
  3. Dominate Period (AD 284 to AD 476) – The emperors consolidated their power and ruled as true despots. They nominated heirs. They downplayed the offices of consul and the senate. the destruction of the currency, the Principate period gave way to the Dominate period. From that point on, the emperor no longer even pretended to be the first among equals and was treated as an oriental potentate.

The same trend is in motion in the U.S. Just as the Roman senate, its consuls, and its tribunes, with their vetoes, became impotent anachronisms, so have U.S. institutions. Starting with the fourth emperor, Claudius, in AD 41, the Praetorian Guard – the emperors’ elite force of bodyguards – showed they could designate the emperor.

And today in the U.S., that’s probably true of its praetorians – the NSA, CIA, and FBI, among others – and, of course, the military.

We’ll see how the next hanging-chad presidential election dispute gets settled.

America’s Next Caesar

 My guess is that the booboisie (what the Romans called the capite censi, or “head count”) will demand a strong leader as the Greater Depression evolves, the dollar is destroyed, and a serious war gets underway.

War has always been the health of the state. And the Roman emperors were expected, not least by their soldiers, to always be engaged in war. It’s no accident that the so-called “greatest” U.S. presidents were war presidents – Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. (We can humorously add the self-proclaimed war president Baby Bush.) Military heroes – such as George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Ulysses Grant, Teddy Roosevelt, and Ike Eisenhower – are always easy to elect. My guess is that a general will run for office in the next election, when we’ll be in a genuine crisis.

The public will want a general partly because the military is now by far the most trusted institution of U.S. society. His likely election will be a mistake for numerous reasons, not least that the military is just a heavily armed variant of the postal service.

It’s wise to keep Roman historian Edward Gibbon’s words about the military in mind: “Any order of men accustomed to violence and slavery make for very poor guardians of a civil constitution.”

 500-Year Dole

 Along with political problems come social problems… After the Punic Wars (264-146 BC), in the period of the late Republic, the Roman government began offering useless mouths free bread, and later circuses. These were extremely destructive, but were provided strictly for a practical reason: to keep the mob under control. And it was a big mob. At its peak, Rome had about a million inhabitants, and at least 30% were on the dole. The dole lasted over 500 years and became part of the fabric of Roman life – ending only when wheat shipments from Egypt and North Africa were cut off by the Vandals at the start of the 5th century AD.

In the U.S., there now are more recipients of state benefits than there are workers. Programs such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, and numerous other welfare programs already absorb over 50% of the U.S. budget. And they’re going to grow rapidly for a while longer, although I predict they’ll come to an end or be radically reformed within the next 20 years. I recognize that’s a daring prediction, given the longevity of the dole in Rome.

The Rise of “Greenism”

 The Roman Empire appears to have suffered a demographic collapse late in the 2nd century AD, during the reign of Marcus Aurelius. This was, at least in part, because of a plague that killed about 10% of the population. But there may be other, subtler reasons for the drop in population. Perhaps people weren’t just dying. They also weren’t reproducing, which is much more serious.

The rising Christian religion in Rome was puritanical and encouraged celibacy. Something similar is now happening throughout the developed world. After World War II, American women averaged 3.7 children. Now, it’s 1.8. In parts of Europe, it’s 1.3.

Part of that is due to urbanization. Part is due to an understanding of birth control. But a growing part is that we just can’t afford larger families; it’s very expensive to have a kid today.

And I believe another major element is a new religious movement of “Greenism.” This is analogous to early Christianity in many ways. In particular, it’s now considered antisocial to reproduce, since having kids raises your carbon footprint.

Nothing Left to Steal

 Then there is the issue of war…

Wars made Rome. They turned the whole Mediterranean into a Roman lake. With the Punic Wars, Spain and North Africa became provinces. Pompey the Great (106-48 BC) conquered the Near East. Julius Caesar (100-44 BC) conquered Gaul 20 years later. Then Augustus took Egypt.

In the early days, war was profitable. You conquered a place. You stole all the gold, cattle, and other movable property. And you enslaved its people. That was a lot of wealth you could bring home; then you could milk the area for many years with taxes.

But the stream of new wealth to steal ended with the conquest of Dacia in AD 107. The advance in the east stopped with the Persians, a military power comparable with Rome. Across the Rhine and Danube, Germanic tribes – living in swamps and forests with only tiny villages – were not worth conquering. To the south, there was only the Sahara. There was nothing new to steal. But there were continuing costs of administration and border defense.

It was inconvenient – and not perhaps just coincidental – that the barbarians started becoming really problematic when Christianity started becoming popular, in the 3rd century AD. Unlike today, back then, Christianity encouraged pacifism… not the best thing when you’re faced with barbarian invasions.

The Roman army started out as a militia of citizen soldiers who provided their own arms. But it eventually accepted anyone. And it morphed into a completely mercenary force staffed and led largely by foreigners.

And this is how the U.S. armed forces have evolved. For all the “Support Our Troops” propaganda, the U.S. armed forces are now more representative of the barrios, ghettos, and trailer parks than of the country as a whole. And they’re isolated from the rest of the country, too – a class unto themselves, like the late Roman army.

Even though the Roman army was at its greatest size and cost in the Dominate period, it was increasingly a paper tiger. After its rout at the Battle of Adrianople in AD 378, the Western Roman Empire went into a death spiral.

Bankrupted by War

And the U.S. armed forces may now be in an analogous posture… one comparable to Soviet forces in the 1980s. Although the U.S. has won many engagements and some sport wars, it hasn’t won a real war since 1945.

But the cost of its wars has escalated hugely. And my guess is that if the U.S. gets into another major war, it won’t win… even if the enemy’s body count is massive.

Recall Osama bin Laden’s plan to win by bankrupting the U.S. He was astute. Most U.S. equipment is good only for fighting a replay of World War II. The $2 billion B-2 bomber, the $350 million F-22, and the $110 million V-22 Osprey are high-priced dinosaurs.

The U.S. Army lost 5,000 helicopters in Vietnam. At $25 million each, how many Blackhawks can the U.S. afford to lose in the next war? World War II cost the U.S. $288 billion, in 1940 dollars. The pointless adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan are guesstimated at $4 trillion, a roughly comparable amount in real terms.

In the future – unless it completely changes its foreign and military policies – the U.S. will likely be confronting scores of independent, non-state actors, rather than other nation states.

We won’t really know who they are. But they’ll be effective at attacking hugely expensive infrastructure at near-zero cost simply by hacking computers. They won’t need a B-2 when a stolen Pakistani nuke can be delivered by freighter. They can take out a $5 million M-1 tank with an essentially zero-cost improvised incendiary device. As the U.S. bankrupts itself with defense contractors whose weapons have 20-year development times, enemies will use open-source warfare, entrepreneurially developing low-cost, unconventional weapons with off-the-shelf components.

Wars destroyed Rome, just as they’re destroying the U.S.

Inflation, Taxes, and Regulation

 Economic issues were another major factor in the collapse of Rome.

Inflation, taxation, and regulation made production increasingly difficult as the empire grew, just as in the U.S. And Romans wanted to leave the country, much as many Americans do today. Consider the following from Christian writer Salvian, circa AD 440.

But what else can these wretched people wish for, they who suffer the incessant and continuous

destruction of public tax levies? To them, there is always imminent a heavy and relentless proscription. They desert their homes, lest they be tortured in their very homes. They seek exile, lest they suffer torture. The enemy is more lenient to them than the tax collectors. This is proved by this very fact, that they flee to the enemy in order to avoid the full force of the heavy tax levy.

Therefore, in the districts taken over by the barbarians, there is one desire among all the Romans, that they should never again find it necessary to pass under Roman jurisdiction. In those regions, it is the one and general prayer of the Roman people that they be allowed to carry on the life they lead with the barbarians.

One of the most disturbing things about this statement is that it reveals that tax collectors were most rapacious at a time when the Roman Empire had almost ceased to exist.

Economic factors were paramount in the decline of Rome, just as they are in the U.S. The state made production harder and more expensive, it limited economic mobility, and state-engineered inflation made saving pointless.

This brings us to another obvious parallel: the currency. The similarities between the inflation in Rome and the U.S. are striking and well known.

In the U.S., the dollar was relatively stable from the country’s founding until the creation of the Federal Reserve System in 1913. Since then, it has lost over 95% of its value. And the trend is accelerating.

Rome’s currency, the denarius, was stable until the Principate period. Then it lost value at an accelerating rate until reaching essentially zero by the middle of the 3rd century AD.

This was coincidental with Rome’s near-collapse.

A Disturbing Trend

What’s even more interesting is to compare the images on the coinage of Rome and the U.S.

Until the victory of Julius Caesar in 46 BC, the likeness of a politician never appeared on the coinage. All earlier coins were graced with a representation of an honored concept, a god, an athletic image, or the like. After Caesar, a coin’s obverse always showed the head of the emperor.

It’s been the same in the U.S…

The first coin with the image of a president was the Lincoln penny in 1909, which replaced the Indian Head penny; the Jefferson nickel replaced the Buffalo nickel in 1938; the Roosevelt dime replaced the Mercury dime in 1946; the Washington quarter replaced the Liberty quarter in 1932; and in 1948, the Franklin half dollar replaced the Liberty half dollar. It was in turn replaced by the Kennedy half dollar in 1964.

The deification of political figures is a disturbing trend the Romans would have recognized.

Conclusions

 What led the greatest empire in history to its decline and its eventual fall?

We can never fully know. But the parallels with today – the rampant social spending programs… rising military costs… an overburden of rules and regulations… and a rapidly devaluing currency – are too close to ignore.

Another historic parallel that’s hard to ignore is that the fall of Rome coincided with the rise of militant Islam. It was a Muslim army that dealt the coup de grâce to the Western Empire, advancing as far as Poitiers in France.

It was a Muslim army, too, that sacked Constantinople and brought the Eastern Empire to an end.

These are very big-picture trends, but worthy of careful consideration……

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How the Deep State is ruining the USA

How the Deep State is ruining the USA  From Doug Casey, Founder, Casey Research, 18 August 2016

Casey Editor’s note: Master speculator and economic expert Doug Casey believes a global financial crisis is just around the corner, which will result in what he’s termed the “Greater Depression.”

In today’s essay — originally published in the September issue of The Casey Report — Doug details a hidden but powerful force known as the “Deep State” that’s ruining this country. You’ll want to read this educational piece very closely. Tomorrow, we’ll share Doug’s advice on how you can protect yourself from what’s coming…

I’d like to address some aspects of the Greater Depression in this essay.

I’m here to tell you that the inevitable became reality in 2008. We’ve had an interlude over the last few years financed by trillions of new currency units.

However, the economic clock on the wall is reading the same time as it was in 2007, and the Black Horsemen of your worst financial nightmares are about to again crash through the doors and end the party. And this time, they won’t be riding children’s ponies, but armored Percherons.

To refresh your memory, let me recount what a depression is.

The best general definition is: A period of time when most people’s standard of living drops significantly. By that definition, the Greater Depression started in 2008, although historians may someday say it began in 1971, when real wages started falling.

It’s also a period of time when distortions and misallocations of capital are liquidated, and when the business cycle, which is caused exclusively by currency debasement, also known as inflation, climaxes. That results in high unemployment, business failures, uncompleted construction, bond defaults, stock market crashes, and the like.

Fortunately, for those who benefit from the status quo, and members of something called the Deep State, the trillions of new currency units delayed the liquidation. But they also ensured it will now happen on a much grander scale.

The Deep State is an extremely powerful network that controls nearly everything around you. You won’t read about it in the news because it controls the news. Politicians won’t talk about it publicly. That would be like a mobster discussing murder and robbery on the 6 o’clock news. You could say the Deep State is hidden, but it’s only hidden in plain sight.

The Deep State is the source of every negative thing that’s happening right now. To survive the coming rough times, it’s essential for you to know what it’s all about.

The State

Now, what causes economic problems? With the exception of natural events like fires, floods, and earthquakes, they’re all caused directly and indirectly by the State, through its wars, taxes, regulations, and inflation.

Yes, yes, I know this is an oversimplification, that human nature is really at fault, and the institution of the State is only a mass dramatization of the psychological aberrations and demons that lie within us all. But we don’t have time to go all the way down the rabbit hole, so let’s just talk about the proximate rather than the ultimate causes of the Greater Depression. And here, I want to talk about the nature of the State, in general, and then something called the Deep State, in particular.

A key takeaway, and I emphasize that because I expect it to otherwise bounce off the programmed psyches of most people, is that the very idea of the State itself is poisonous, evil, and intrinsically destructive. But, like so many bad ideas, people have come to assume it’s part of the cosmic firmament, when it’s really just a monstrous scam. It’s a fraud, like your belief that you have a right to free speech because of the First Amendment, or a right to be armed because of the Second Amendment. No, you don’t. The U.S. Constitution is just an arbitrary piece of paper…entirely apart from the fact the whole thing is now just a dead letter. You have a right to free speech and to be armed because they’re necessary parts of being a free person, not because of what a political document says.

Even though the essence of the State is coercion, people have been taught to love and respect it. Most people think of the State in the quaint light of a grade school civics book. They think it has something to do with “We the People” electing a Jimmy Stewart character to represent them. That ideal has always been a pernicious fiction, because it idealizes, sanitizes, and legitimizes an intrinsically evil and destructive institution, which is based on force. As Mao once said, political power comes out of the barrel of a gun. But things have gone far beyond that. We’re now in the Deep State.

The Deep State

The concept of the Deep State originated in Turkey, which is appropriate, since it’s the heir to the totally corrupt Byzantine and Ottoman empires. And in the best Byzantine manner, the Deep State has insinuated itself throughout the fabric of what once was America. Its tendrils reach from Washington down to every part of civil society. Like a metastasized cancer, it can no longer be easily eradicated.

I used to joke that there was nothing wrong with Washington that 10 megatons on the capital couldn’t cure. But I don’t say that anymore. Partially because it’s too dangerous, but mainly because it’s now untrue. What’s now needed is 10 megatons on the capital, and four more bursts in a quadrant 10 miles out.

In many ways, Washington models itself after another city with a Deep State, ancient Rome. Here’s how a Victorian freethinker, William Winwood Reade, accurately described it:

Rome lived upon its principal till ruin stared it in the face. Industry is the only true source of wealth, and there was no industry in Rome. By day the Ostia road was crowded with carts and muleteers, carrying to the great city the silks and spices of the East, the marble of Asia Minor, the timber of the Atlas, the grain of Africa and Egypt; and the carts brought out nothing but loads of dung. That was their return cargo.

The Deep State controls the political and economic essence of the U.S. This is much more than observing that there’s no real difference between the left and right wings of the Demopublican Party. It’s well known by anyone with any sense (that is, by everybody except the average voter) that although the Republicans say they believe in economic freedom (but don’t), they definitely don’t believe in social freedom. And the Democrats say they believe in social freedom (but don’t), but they definitely don’t believe in economic freedom.

Who Is Part of the Deep State?

The American Deep State is a real, but informal, structure that has arisen to not just profit from, but control, the State.

The Deep State has a life of its own, like the government itself. It’s composed of top-echelon employees of a dozen Praetorian agencies, like the FBI, CIA, and NSA… top generals, admirals, and other military operatives… long-term congressmen and senators… and directors of important regulatory agencies.

But Deep State is much broader than just the government. It includes the heads of major corporations, all of whom are heavily involved in selling to the State and enabling it. That absolutely includes Silicon Valley, although those guys at least have a sense of humor, evidenced by their “Don’t Be Evil” motto. It also includes all the top people in the Fed, and the heads of all the major banks, brokers, and insurers. Add the presidents and many professors at top universities, which act as Deep State recruiting centers…all the top media figures, of course…and many regulars at things like Bohemian Grove and the Council on Foreign Relations. They epitomize the status quo, held together by power, money, and propaganda.

Altogether, I’ll guess these people number a thousand or so. You might analogize the structure of the Deep State with a huge pack of dogs. The people I’ve just described are the top dogs.

But there are hundreds of thousands more who aren’t at the nexus, but who directly depend on them, have considerable clout, and support the Deep State because it supports them. This includes many of the wealthy, especially those who got that way thanks to their State connections…the 1.5 million people who have top secret clearances (that’s a shocking, but accurate, number)… plus top players in organized crime, especially the illegal drug business, little of which would exist without the State. Plus mid-level types in the police and military, corporations, and non-governmental organizations.

These are what you might call the running dogs.

Beyond that are the scores and scores of millions who depend on things remaining the way they are. Like the 50%-plus of Americans who are net recipients of benefits from the State… the 60 million on Social Security… the 66 million on Medicaid… the 50 million on food stamps… the many millions on hundreds of other programs… the 23 million government employees and most of their families. In fact, let’s include the many millions of average Joes and Janes who are just getting by.

You might call this level of people, the vast majority of the population, whipped dogs. They both love and fear their master, they’ll do as they’re told, and they’ll roll over on their backs and wet themselves if confronted by a top dog or running dog who feels they’re out of line. These three types of dogs make up the vast majority of the U.S. population. I trust you aren’t among them. I consider myself a Lone Wolf in this context and hope you are, too. Unfortunately, however, dogs are enemies of wolves, and tend to hunt them down.

The Deep State is destructive, but it’s great for the people in it. And, like any living organism, its prime directive is: Survive! It survives by indoctrinating the fiction that it’s both good and necessary. However, it’s a parasite that promotes the ridiculous notion that everyone can live at the expense of society.

Is it a conspiracy, headed by a man stroking a white cat? I think not. I find it’s hard enough to get a bunch of friends to agree on what movie to see, much less a bunch of power-hungry miscreants bent on running everyone’s lives. But, on the other hand, the top dogs all know each other, went to the same schools, belong to the same clubs, socialize, and, most important, have common interests, values, and philosophies.

The American Deep State rotates around the Washington Beltway. It imports America’s wealth as tax revenue. A lot of that wealth is consumed there by useless mouths. And then, it exports things that reinforce the Deep State, including wars, fiat currency, and destructive policies. This is unsustainable simply because nothing of value comes out of the city.

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How the US got both Cold Wars so wrong

How the US got both Cold Wars so wrong  By Paul Craig Roberts, 12 August 2016

The Cold War began during the Truman administration and lasted through the Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, and Carter administrations and was ended in Reagan’s second term when Reagan and Gorbachev came to an agreement that the conflict was dangerous, expensive, and pointless.

The Cold War did not cease for long—only from the last of Reagan’s second term and the four years of George H. W. Bush’s term. In the 1990s President Clinton restarted the Cold War by breaking America’s promise not to expend NATO into Eastern Europe. George W. Bush heated up the renewed Cold War by pulling the US out of the Anti-ABM Treaty, and Obama has made the war hotter with irresponsible rhetoric and by placing US missiles on Russia’s border and overthrowing the Ukrainian government.

The Cold War was a Washington creation. It was the work of the Dulles brothers. Allen was the head of the CIA, and John Foster was the Secretary of State, positions that they held for a long time. The brothers had a vested interest in the Cold War. They used the Cold War to protect the interests of their law firm’s clients, and they used it to enhance the power and budgets associated with their high positions in government. It is much more exciting to be in charge of foreign policy and covert activity in dangerous times.

Whenever a reformist democratic government appeared in Latin America the Dulles brothers saw it as a threat to the holdings that their law firm’s clients had in that country. These holdings, sometimes acquired with bribes to nondemocratic governments, diverted the country’s resources and wealth into American hands, and that is the way the Dulles brothers intended to keep it. The reformist government would be declared Marxist or Communist, and the CIA and State Department would work together to overthrow it and place back in power a dictator in bed with Washington.

The Cold War was pointless except for the Dulles brothers’ interests and those of the military/security complex. The Soviet government, unlike the US government today, had no world hegemonic asperations. Stalin had declared “Socialism in one country” and purged the Trotskyists, the advocates of world revolution. Communism in China and Eastern Europe were not products of Soviet international communism. Mao was his own man, and the Soviet Union kept Eastern Europe from which the Red Army drove out the Nazis as a buffer against a hostile West.

In those days the “Red scare” was used like the “Muslim terrorist scare” today—to force the public to go along with an agenda without debate or understanding. Consider the costly Vietnam war, for example. Ho Chi Minh was an anticolonist leading a nationalist movement. He was not an agent of international communism, but John Foster Dulles made him one and said that Ho must be stopped or the “domino theory” would result in the fall of all of Southeast Asia to communism. Vietnam won the war and did not launch the aggression that Dulles predicted against Southeast Asia.

Ho had pleaded with the US government for support against the French colonial power that ruled Indo-China. Rebuffed, Ho turned to Russia. If Washington had simply told the French government that the colonialist era was over and that France needed to vacate Indo-China, the disaster of the Vietnam war would have been avoided. But invented threats to serve interest groups had become hobgoblins then as now, and Washington, along with many others, became a victim of its imaginary monsters.

NATO was unnecessary as there was no danger of the Red Army sweeping into Western Europe. The Soviet government had enough trouble occupying Eastern Europe with its rebellous populations. The Soviet Union was faced with an uprising in East Germany in 1953, from Poland and Hungary in 1956, and from the Communist Party itself in Czechoslavia in 1968. The Soviet Union suffered enormous population loss in World War II and required its remaining manpower for post-war reconstruction. It was beyond Soviet ability to occupy Western Europe in addition to Eastern Europe. The French and Italian communist parties were strong in the post-war period, and Stalin had grounds for hope that a communist government in France or Italy would result in the breakup of Washington’s European empire. These hopes were dashed by Operation Gladio.

We had the Cold War because it served the Dulles brothers and the power and profits of the military/security complex. There were no other reasons for the Cold War.

The new Cold War is even more pointless than the first. Russia was cooperating with the West, and the Russian economy was integrated into the West as a supplier of raw materials. The neoliberal economic policy that Washington convinced the Russian government to implement was designed to keep the Russian economy in the role of supplier of raw materials to the West. Russia expressed no territorial ambitions and spent very little on its military.

The new Cold War is the work of a handful of neoconservative fanatics who believe that History has chosen the US to wield hegemonic power over the world. Some of the neocons are sons of former Trotskyists and have the same romantic notion of world revolution, only this time it is “democratic-capitalist” and not communist.

The new Cold War is far more dangerous than the old, because the respective war doctrines of the nuclear powers have changed. The function of nuclear weapons is no longer retaliatory. Mutually Assured Destruction was a guarantee that the weapons would not be used. In the new war doctrine nuclear weapons have been elevated to first-use in a preemptive nuclear attack. Washington first took this step, forcing Russia and China to follow.

The new Cold War is more dangerous for a second reason. During the first Cold War American presidents focused on reducing tensions between nuclear powers. But the Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama regimes have raised tensions dramaticaly. William Perry, Secretary of Defense in the Clinton regime, recently spoke of the danger of nuclear war being launched by false alarms resulting from such things as faulty computer chips. Fortunately, when such instances occurred in the past, the absence of tension in the relationship between the nuclear powers caused authorities on both sides to disbelieve the false alarms. Today, however, with constant allegations of pending Russian invasions, Putin demonized as “the new Hitler,” and the buildup of US and NATO military forces on Russia’s borders, a false alarm becomes believable.

NATO lost its purpose when the Soviet Union collapsed. However, too many careers, budgets, and armaments profits depended on NATO. The neoconservatives seized on NATO as political cover and an auxillary military force for their hegemonic ambitions. The purpose of NATO today is to implicate all of Europe in Washington’s war crimes. Since all are guilty, European governments cannot turn on Washington and accuse the Americans of war crimes. Other voices are too weak to be of consequence. Despite its vast crimes against humanity, the West still retains the position of “a light unto the world,” a defender of truth, justice, human rights, democracy, and individual liberty. This reputation persists despite the destruction of the Bill of Rights and police state repression.

The West does not represent the values that the world has been brainwashed to believe are associated wirth the West. For example, there was no need to attack Japanese civilian cities with atomic weapons. Japan was trying to surrender and was holding out against the US demand for unconditional surrender only in order to spare the emperor from execution for war crimes over which he had no control. Like the British sovereign today, the emperor had no political power and was a symbol of national unity. Japan’s war leaders were fearful that Japanese unity would dissolve if the emperor, the symbol of unity, was removed. Of course, the Americans were too ignorant to understand the situation, and so, little Truman, bullied all his life as a nonentity, glorified in his power and dropped the bombs.

The atomic bombs dropped on Japan were powerful. However, the hydrogen bombs that have replaced them are far more powerful. The use of such weapons is inconsistent with life on Earth.

Donald Trump has said the only hopeful thing in the presidential campaign. He called into question NATO and the orchesrated conflict with Russia. We don’t know if we can believe him or whether his government would follow his direction. But we do know that Hitlery is a warmonger, an agent of the neoconservatives, the military-security complex, the Israel Lobby, the banks too big to fail, Wall Street, and every foreign interest that will make a mega-million dollar donation to the Clinton Foundation or a quarter million dollar fee for a speech.

Hitlery declared the President of Russia to be the Ultimate Threat—“the new Hitler.”

Could it be any more clear? A vote for Hitlery is a vote for war. Despite this most obvious of all facts, the US media, united as one, are doing everything in their power to drive Trump into the ground and to elect Hitlery.

What does this tell us about the intelligence of the “Unipower,” “the world’s only superpower,” the” indispensible people,” the “exceptional nation”? It tells us that they are as dumb as shit. Creatures of The Matrix created by their own propagandists, Americans see imaginary threats, not real ones.

What the Russians and Chinese see are a people too brainwashed and ignorant to be of any support for peace. They see war coming and are preparing for it.

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Any ‘New World Order’ will fail

What is the ‘New World Order’, or NWO?  Main stream media describe it as conspiracy theory; some weblogs describe scary scenarios.  This post examines a range of views.

Scan down to read the latest articles.  Links to many more articles are at the end of this post.

The Reasons Why The Globalists Are Destined To Lose

The Reasons Why The Globalists Are Destined To Lose By Brandon Smith, 18 August 2016

Under the surface of almost every sociopolitical and economic event in the world there burns an ever-raging, but often unseen, war. This war, for now, is fought with fiction and with truth, with journalistic combat and with quiet individual deeds. It is defined by two sides which could not be more philosophically or spiritually separate.

On one side is a pervasive network of corporate moguls and elites, banking entities, international financial consortiums, think tanks and political puppets. They work tirelessly to reshape public psychology and society as a whole into something they sometimes call the “New World Order;” a completely and scientifically centralized planet in which they control every aspect of government, trade, life and even moral compass. I often refer to them simply as the “Globalists,” which is how they at times refer to themselves.

On the other side is a movement that has developed organically and instinctively, growing without direct top-down “leadership,” but still guided through example by various teachers and activists, driven by a concrete set of principles based in natural law. It is composed of the religious, the agnostic and even some atheists.  It is soldiered by people of all ethnic and financial backgrounds. These groups are tied together by a singular and resounding belief in the one vital thing they can all agree upon — the inherent and inborn rights of freedom. I call them the “Liberty Movement.”

There are those who think they do not have a dog in this fight, those who ignore it and those who are completely oblivious to it. However, EVERYONE can and will be affected by it, no exceptions. This war is for the future of the human race. Its consequences will determine if the next generation will choose the conditions of their environment and maintain the ability to reach their true potential as individuals or if every aspect of their lives will be micromanaged for them by a faceless, soulless bureaucracy that does not have their best interests at heart.

As you can probably tell, I am not unbiased in my examination of these two sides. While some of the more “academically minded” cynics out there do attempt to marginalize the entire conflict by accusing both sides of simply trying to impose “their ideology” on the rest of humanity, I would say that such people are generally ignorant of what is at stake.

There is in fact an elemental force behind this war. I would even call it a conflagration between good and evil. For a more in-depth analysis on the evil behind globalism, read my article “Are Globalists Evil Or Just Misunderstood.”

Some people don’t adhere to such absolutes or they think good and evil are fantasies created by religion to keep society in check. I have no intention of trying to convince them otherwise. All I can say is, I have seen and experienced these absolutes first hand and, therefore, I have no choice but to remain a believer.

I would also point out that the general experience of most men and women is that the act of organized and legitimate oppression is inherently evil and such actions in the name of satisfying delusional elitist narcissism are even more evil. While these experiences are subjective, they are also universal, regardless of the culture, place or time in history. Most of us feel the same horror and the same defiance when presented with rising tyranny. We can’t necessarily explain why, but we all know.

While I am firmly on the side of liberty and am willing to fight and trade my life to stop the “New World Order” the globalists are so obsessed with, I will not turn this examination of their tactics into a blind or one sided farce. I will point out where the elites are effective just as I will point out where they are ineffective. It would do more harm than good to portray the globalists as “stupid” or bumbling in their efforts. They are not stupid. They are actually astonishingly clever and should not be underestimated.

They are indeed conniving and industrious, but, they are not wise. For if they were wise, they would be able to see the ultimate futility of their goal and the world would be saved decades of tragedy and loss. Their cultism has dulled their senses to reality and they have abandoned truth in the name of control. Here are some of the primary strategies that the globalists are using to gain power and work towards total centralization and why their own mindset has doomed them to failure.

Globalism vs. “Populism”

The globalists have used the method of false dichotomies for centuries to divide nations and peoples against each other in order to derive opportunity from chaos. That said, the above dichotomy is about as close to real as they have ever promoted. As I explained in my article, “Globalists Are Now Openly Demanding New World Order Centralization,” the recent passage of the Brexit referendum in the U.K. has triggered a surge of new propaganda from establishment media outlets.  The thrust of this propaganda is the notion that “populists” are behind the fight against globalization and these populists are going to foster the ruin of nations and the global economy.  That is to say — globalism good, populism bad.

There is a real fight between globalists and those who desire a free, decentralized and voluntary society.  They have just changed some of the labels and the language. We have yet to see how effective this strategy will be for the elites, but it is very useful for them in certain respects.

The wielding of the term “populist” is about as sterilized and distant from “freedom and liberty” as you can get. It denotes not just “nationalism,” but selfish nationalism. And the association people are supposed to make in their minds is that selfish nationalism leads to destructive fascism (i.e. Nazis).  Therefore, when you hear the term “populist,” the globalists hope you will think “Nazi.”

Also, keep in mind that the narrative of the rise of populism coincides with grave warnings from the elites that such movements will cause global economic collapse if they continue to grow. Of course, the elites have been fermenting an economic collapse for years. We have been experiencing many of the effects of it for some time. In a brilliant manoeuver, the elites have attempted to re-label the liberty movement as “populist” (Nazis), and use liberty activists as a scapegoat for the fiscal time bomb THEY created.

Will the masses buy it?  I don’t know.  I think that depends on how effectively we expose the strategy before the breakdown becomes too entrenched.  The economic collapse itself has been handled masterfully by the elites, though. There is simply no solution that can prevent it from continuing. Even if every criminal globalist was hanging from a lamp post tomorrow and honest leadership was restored to government, the math cannot be changed and decades of struggle will be required before national economies can be made prosperous again.

Communism vs. Fascism

This is a classic ploy by the globalists to divide a culture against itself and initiate a calamity that can be used as leverage for greater centralization down the road.  If you have any doubts about fascism and communism being engineered, I highly suggest you look into the very well documented analysis of Antony Sutton. I do not have the space here to do his investigations justice.

Today, we see elites like George Soros funding and aiding the latest incarnation of the communist hordes — namely social justice groups like Black Lives Matter.  The collectivist psychosis and Orwellian behaviour exhibited by race junkies like BLM and third-wave feminists is thoroughly pissing off conservatives who are tired of being told what to think and how to act every second of every day. And this is the point…

If you want to get a picture of America in 2016, look back at Europe during the 1930’s. Communist provocateurs, some real and some fabricated by the establishment itself, ran rampant in Europe creating labour disintegration and fiscal turmoil. The elites then funded and elevated fascism as the “solution” to communism. Normally even-handed conservatives were so enraged by the communist spitting and ankle biting that they became something just as evil in response.

The U.S. may be on the same path if we are not careful. The latest shootings in Texas will make hay for the globalists. Think about this for a moment — on one side you have Obama telling the liberals that the answer to police brutality is to federalize law enforcement even more that it already is. On the other side, you have some Republicans arguing that a more militarized police presence will help prevent groups like BLM from causing more trouble. Notice that the only solution we are being offered here is more federal presence on our streets?

I do see, though, a rather large weakness in the plan to ignite a communist vs. fascist meltdown in the U.S., and that weakness is the existence of the Liberty Movement itself.  The movement has grown rather sophisticated in its media presence and prevalent in influence. It does have enough sway now to diffuse some aspects of a rise to fascism in the political Right. The only option the elites have is to find a way to co-opt us. If they can manipulate the liberty movement into supporting a fascist system, then they would be very close to winning the entire fight. This would be highly unlikely given the stubbornness of liberty proponents when adhering to their principles.

The elites might be able to get a large part of the public to take sides in their false paradigm, but if they can’t con the millions that make up the liberty movement into the fold, then their job becomes much harder.

Moral Compass vs. Moral Relativism

Moral relativism is perhaps the pinnacle goal of the globalists. Why? Because if you can convince an entire society that their inherent conscience should be ignored and that their inborn feelings of morality are “open to interpretation,” then eventually ANY evil action can be rationalized. When evil becomes “good,” and good becomes evil, evil men will reign supreme.

The problem is, conscience is an inborn psychological product, a result of inherent archetypal dualities universal to almost all people. It is ingrained in our DNA, or our very souls if you believe in such a thing. It cannot be erased easily.

Moral relativism requires a person to treat every scenario as a “gray area.”  This is not practical. Conscience dictates that we treat every situation as potentially unique and act according to what we feel in our hearts is right given the circumstances.  This does not mean, though, that there is no black and white; or that there are no concrete rules.  There is almost always a black and white side to any situation dealing with right and wrong.  Moral “dilemmas” are exceedingly rare.  In fact, I don’t think I have ever encountered a real moral dilemma in history or in personal experience. The only time I ever see moral dilemmas is in movies and television.

Only in television fantasy is moral relativism ever the “only way” to solve a problem. And despite the preponderance of moral relativism in our popular culture, the ideology is still having trouble taking hold.  If it was so easy to undermine conscience, then the NWO would have already achieved complete pacification. We are still far from pacification. Whoever hard-wired our conscience should be applauded.

Collectivism vs. Individualism

The very core of globalism and the NWO is the position that sovereignty and individualism must be sacrificed for the “good of the group”; in other words, they promote collectivism.  Of course, groups by their very nature are abstractions; they only exist as long as the individuals within them recognize them as viable.  Unfortunately, collectivists do not accept this fact because it would mean that the group, no matter how utopian, is not the pinnacle of human existence – rather, the individual is and always will be the pinnacle of human existence.

The elites MUST convince people that individualism is dangerous and that collectivism is the only way to prevent the tragedies wrought by those who wish to be separate.  Of course, most of the tragedies we experience on a national or global scale are actually engineered by the elites, not by wild individuals or sovereign nations looking for trouble.  They then blame the very concept of sovereignty as a barbaric ritual from the past that must be abolished for the sake of all.

In order for the globalists to reinforce the need for collectivism, though, they must engage people on an individual psychological level.  Most human beings have an inherent desire to interact with their fellow man, but they also have an inherent identity and drive to pursue their own development without interference.  We like to be a part of a group as long as our participation is healthy and voluntary and our associations are a matter of choice.

Human beings are instinctively tribal, but we have psychological and biological limits to the size of the tribe we prefer to be a part of.  Robin Dunbar, a professor of evolutionary psychology prevalent in the 1990’s, found that there is a cognitive limit to the number of individuals any one person can maintain stable relationships with.  Dunbar found this number to be between 100 – 200 people.  A limitation also extends to the size of effective groups versus ineffective groups.  He found that effective tribes and communities tend to remain between 500 – 2500 people.

The human mind does not adapt well to a vast tribal groups, and recoils from the idea of a “global tribe”.  The truth is, human beings function far better in smaller groups and they do not like to be forced into participating in any group, let alone larger groups.  This may account for the feeling of isolation that is common among people who live in metropolitan areas.  They are surrounded by millions of neighbours and perhaps hundreds of associates yet they still feel alone because they do not have a functioning tribe of acceptable size.

Vast numbers of people can be tied together by an ideal that resonates with them, which is the only purpose for nations to form (to protect that ideal), but that is as far as the voluntary association goes.  Globalist collectivism is simply unnatural.  People know it unconsciously, they know it is an act of force and oppression, and will invariably move to sabotage its false tribalism as they begin to see its true colours.

Total Control vs. Reality

This is where the globalists philosophy really begins to break down. The elitist pursuit of total information awareness and total social control is truly perverse and insane, and insanity breeds delusion and weakness.  The fact is, they will NEVER complete the goal of complete micro-control. It is mathematically and psychologically impossible.

First, in any system, and in complex systems most of all, there are always elements that cannot be quantified or predicted. To understand this issue, I recommend studying the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. To summarize, the uncertainty principle dictates that anyone observing a system in action, even from a distance, can still affect the behaviour of that system indirectly or unconsciously in ways they could never predict.  They are also limited by their ability to objectively perceive all available elements of what they observe.  Unknown quantities result, predictability goes out the window and total control of that system becomes unattainable.

This principle also applies to human psychology, as numerous psychoanalysts have discovered when treating patients. The doctor, or the observer, is never able to observe their patient without indirectly affecting the behaviour of their patient in unpredictable ways. Therefore, a completely objective analysis of that patient can never be obtained.

What the elites seek is a system by which they can observe and influence all of us in minute detail without triggering a reaction that they wouldn’t expect.  The laws of physics and psychology derail this level of control.  There will always be unknown quantities, free radicals, wild cards, etc. Even a seemingly perfect utopia can be brought down by a single unknown.

To break this down even further to the level of pure mathematics, I recommend study into Kurt Godel and his Incompleteness Proof. This, I believe is the ultimate example of the elites struggling against the fact of unknown quantities and failing.

Godel’s work revolved around either proving or disproving the idea that mathematicians could define “infinity” in mathematical terms. For, if infinity can be defined, then it can be understood in base mathematical axioms, and if infinity can be understood, then the universe in its entirety can be understood. Godel discovered the opposite — his incompleteness proof established once and for all that infinity is a self-inclusive paradox that CANNOT be defined through mathematics. Keep in mind that a proof is a set of mathematical laws that can never be broken. Two plus two will always equal four; it will never equal anything else.

Well known globalist Bertrand Russell worked tirelessly to show that the entirety of the universe could be broken down into numbers, writing a three volume monstrosity called the Principia Mathematica.  Russell’s efforts were fruitless and Godel’s proof later crushed his theory. Russell railed against Godel’s proof, but to no avail.

Now, why was an elitist like Russell who openly championed scientific dictatorship so concerned by Godel? Well, because Godel, in mathematical terms, destroyed the very core of the globalist ideology. He proved that the globalist aspirations of godhood would never be realized. There are limits to the knowledge of man, and limits to what he can control.  This is not something globalists can ever accept, for if they did, every effort they have made for decades if not centuries would be pointless.

As mentioned earlier, the issue is one of unknown quantities. Can human society ever be fully dominated? Or, is the act of rebellion against stagnating and oppressive systems a part of nature?  Is it possible that the more the elites wrap the world in a cage, the more they inspire unpredictable reactions that could undermine their authority?

This might explain the establishment’s constant attention to the idea of the “lone wolf” and the damage one person acting outside the dictates of the system can do. This is what the elites fear most: the possibility that despite all their efforts of surveillance and manipulation, individuals and groups may one day be struck by an unpredictable urge to pick up a rifle and put the globalists out of everyone’s misery. No chatter, no electronic trail, no warning.

This is why they are destined to lose. They can never know all the unknowns. They can never control all the free radicals. There will always be rebellion. There will always be a liberty movement. The entirety of their utopian schematic revolves around the need to remove unknowns. They refuse to acknowledge that control at these levels is so frail it becomes useless and mortally dangerous. In their arrogance, they have ignored the warnings of the very sciences they worship and have set their eventual end in stone. While they may leave a considerable path of destruction in their wake, it is already written; they will not win.

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When Disclosure Serves Secrecy

When Disclosure Serves Secrecy  By Steven M. Greer M.D. 1999

Ending the secrecy surrounding the UFO/ET subject is a laudable goal. It is long overdue. It would transform the world in ways both simple and profound.

And yet it is fraught with danger.

The covert projects which have been running UFO related programs for nearly 60 years are not interested in a disclosure which upsets their apple cart. They want such a disclosure to transform their apple cart into a freight train. And they potentially have the power and connections to do it.

There are multiple scenarios attending the disclosure of the UFO subject- and not all of them have the best interests of humanity at heart. Elsewhere, in the new bookExtraterrestrial Contact: The Evidence and Implications I write about the kind of disclosure the world needs. An honest one. An open one. One which replaces secrecy with democracy. A disclosure which is peaceful, scientific and hopeful.

But then there is the disclosure the powers that be would like to see: Manipulated. Calculated to consolidate power and engender fear. Configured in such a way that chaos and a deepening need for Big Brother is carefully inculcated into the masses.

We have seen the plans and it is not a pretty picture.

I write this as a warning. A warning that the wolves in sheep clothes are very cunning indeed. And have almost limitless resources. Most who work with them do not even know they are wolves. Indeed, it is likely that many of the wolves have been convinced that they are sheep.

The UFO matter is not so much a mystery as a matter deliberately obfuscated and mystified. Confusion and a lack of clarity serves the larger covert goal of keeping it off the long-range radar of society while power and plans are consolidated quietly. And the one thing more dangerous to society than all this secrecy is a planned, contrived disclosure run by the keepers of the secrets.

For years such plans have been made – to be unfurled at just the right time. During a time of great expectation. Of social confusion. Perhaps of millennial madness?

I have personally met with a number of people who are very involved with such plans. I do not speculate here. Be aware: The disclosure of UFO reality is being planned very carefully. It will assiduously follow a scheme to spin the subject in just the right way – the only way which will further redound to the glory and power of the secret-keepers. It will be a false disclosure – one born out of the age-old bane of human existence: selfishness and greed. Greed for power. Greed for control. Greed for domination.

We must be mature and informed on such matters. Only a vigilant and informed public can see through such deceit – and correct it should such a plan be unfurled. Every citizen needs to know that great good can come from the truth being known. But the mature citizen must also recognize that the ‘truth’ can be spun and spun again – until the goals of those who crave secret and overt power are met.

Consider: One scenario for disclosure is that the UFO and Extraterrestrial subject is acknowledged in a way which is scientific and hopeful. Excessive secrecy which lacks executive branch and congressional oversight is ended. Humanity begins to entertain open contact with other civilizations, with peaceful engagement as the goal. Technologies which are currently suppressed are allowed to be disseminated: Pollution ends. An economy of abundance and social justice is firmly established. Global environmental destruction and mind-numbing world poverty become a faint memory. Zero-point based energy devices transform the world. Electro-gravitic devices permit above ground travel without paving over the world’s precious fertile farm land. As an ET once told Colonel Philip Corso, “Its a new world, if you can take it…”. This is the disclosure which we are working for.

But the disclosure envisioned above could have happened in 1950. It did not – Why? For such a disclosure would lead to the total transformation of the status quo. Centralized energy systems would be obsolete. Oil would be useful only for lubricants and synthetics. The geo-political order of today would be a thing forgotten: Every country and people on Earth would have such a high degree of progress and advancement that all nations would have a seat at the global table. Power would need to be shared. Peaceful acknowledgment of life from elsewhere would make the Earth seem like the very small, organic homeland which it is. The vast trillion dollar global military – industrial sector would be reigned in. And a universal spirituality might dawn…

But remember, there are hugely powerful interests who dread this scenario. For them, it is the end of the world as they know it. The end of centralized, elite power. The end of a controlled geo-political order which today leaves nearly 90% of the people of Earth barely one step out of the stone age. And they do not wish to share the power they wield.

Now, let me describe the ‘disclosure’ which would make these covert control programs happy. This is the false or contrived ‘disclosure’ which has only one clear goal: The further consolidation of their power and their paradigm. It has to do with fear, not love. With war, not peace. With division and conflict, not unity. It is the dominant paradigm – but it is slipping away slowly. And a carefully orchestrated disclosure of the ‘facts’ of the UFO and ET subject could secure their power. This is the disclosure which is to be dreaded. This is the disclosure to watch out for. This is the disclosure which is already occurring.

My meetings over the past 9 years with covert operatives who have worked on UFO related programs have introduced me to some characters right out of a spy novel – and then some. Whether in private high tech industry, at the Pentagon or at a midnight meeting in a private mansion, a theme has emerged. It is one of immense, though currently hidden, power. It transcends government as we know it (at this point the government of ‘We the people…’ has been made irrelevant on this issue). And the theme has two main strands – the eventual covert militarization of the ET subject and a weird covert religious strain which can only be viewed as bizarre.

Here, we find some very strange bed-fellows indeed. War mongers and militarists in cahoots with industrialists who share a certain bizarre eschatological bent: A dark view of the future, featuring an extraterrestrial Armageddon – or at least the threat of it. Such a theme supports retrograde and fanatical religious causes as well as deeply covert military-industrial plans to expand the arms race into space.

In fact, the big players in the so-called ‘civilian UFO community’ are tied into such beliefs and agendas. It strains credulity, I admit, but here is what we have found by penetrating these operations.

From a military-industrial perspective, the disclosure of choice is one which frames the UFO/ET issue in a threatening manner. If a threat from space can be established (as President Reagan liked to say) then the entire world can be united around the need to fight such a threat. This would ensure trillion dollar plus military – industrial spending well into the next century, and beyond. If you think the cold war was costly, wait until you see the price tag for this ‘protection’ from the ‘threats’ in space: The trillions spent on the cold war will look like a blue light special.

Retrograde and fanatical religious groups, similarly, have great vested interests in fulfilling the promise of Armageddon. An eschatological paradigm, well enshrined in the belief systems of those running covert UFO projects, is supported by the portrayal of a cosmic conflict in the heavens. Voila! We have the necessity of spinning the UFO/ET issue in the evil invading aliens (translates in religious terms as demons) direction. Indeed, this has already been accomplished, courtesy of the ‘civilian UFO community’ and the tabloid media (swhich at this point is virtually all media…).

Additionally, there is a subtext which can only be viewed as thinly veiled racism. You will note that part of the ‘new myth’ regarding UFOs involves the ‘good ETs’ , which invariably are described as ‘Pleidians’ who are ‘handsome’ white, blue-eyed Aryan appearing types. Naturally, those ‘evil, bad ETs’ are darker, shorter, look funny and smell funny. Please. Such clap-trap would have us trade age-old human racism for an extraterrestrial variety. This nonsense and propaganda could only make Hitler proud.

In one lengthy meeting with a multi-billionaire, I was told that he gave great support to UFO activities which propel the so-called ‘alien abduction’ subject into public awareness because he wanted humanity to unite around fighting this ‘alien threat’. Later, this very influential figure informed me that he believed these demonic ETs were the cause of every setback in human history since Adam and Eve. Sound familiar?

Military interests, which are heavily involved in covert projects which hoax ET events, such as human military- related abductions, have a shared goal of demonizing the UFO/ET phenomenon. Doing so lays the foundations for the fear and dread necessary for an organized opposition to all things ET. And this subserves the longterm need to provide a rationale for an expanding global military even should world peace emerge. In fact, under this scenario, ‘world peace’, or strictly speaking peace on Earth, could be secured by the world uniting, eventually, against the ‘threat from space’ referred to by resident Reagan. (By the way, personally I believe Reagan was the victim of disinformation specialists who surrounded him and who manipulated him into the statements he made on this subject.)

Under this scenario, currently being gamed and ‘disclosed’ courtesy of the trial balloon UFO ‘community’, we would get peace on Earth – in exchange for interplanetary conflict. One step forward, ten steps back. Wonderful.

Such a false and contrived ‘disclosure of the truth’ regarding UFOs and ETs would, then, subserve agendas held by powerful covert interests in both the military-industrial sector and those of a strange collection of religious fanatics, who pine for Armageddon — and the sooner the better.

Lest the reader think such a strange amalgam of militarists and cult-like religious interests are unlikely, remember the weird views of the Third Reich. Or more recently, the views of one US Department of the Interior cabinet secretary during the Reagan years named James Watt. It was he who, not knowing a microphone was still on and recording his comments, stated in the 1980s that we did not need to worry about all these environmental problems since Armageddon was coming soon and the world would be destroyed anyway…This bizarre view, held by a man who shaped and applied policy for the Interior Department of the US Government, was later reported in the general media. At the time a comical footnote perhaps. But what does it say about the degree to which such beliefs may be shaping covert UFO policy — and specifically disclosure plans? We have found that such views — bizarre as they may seem to most — are heavily represented in covert policy development on the UFO subject.

And most disconcerting of all: This strange mixture of military cosmic saber-rattling and bizarre religious beliefs are the dominant forces shaping both the ‘civilian UFO community’ and the planned eventual ‘spin’ on UFO disclosure. Let the buyer beware.

To the rational and intellectual, such views seem ridiculous. Why, you might ask, would anyone want a cosmic war in space, an Armageddon and the destruction of the Earth? To comprehend this, you have to get inside the head of people who hold such beliefs – people like James Watt. In his case, why worry about a little bit of deforestation, air pollution and areas of dead oceans if the entire world is going to be destroyed in a couple of years anyway?

But the thinking goes further than this. Because such fanatical thinking has within it the concept that as a result of the Armageddon we will see the return of Christ- and with it the good people’s salvation. Now, people are free to believe what they want. But what we have found is a deliberate influencing of covert policy on UFOs by such beliefs. Some of these people want Armageddon – and they want it ASAP.

Strictly speaking, the militarists and war-mongers, itching to ‘kick some alien butt’ as it was said in the movie Independence Day, may actually only want a pretext to justify their existence and get the world to eventually spend huge sums of money on a perceived (if contrived) threat from space.

But in some cases – high up on the food chain of the covert entity running UFO secrecy – the two views meet. A place where militarism and eschatology merge. Where Star Wars and Armageddon join.

In tracing the history of both the UFO civilian community and the covert policy-making group concerned with UFOs, we have found a growing penetration of the latter into the former. So much so that at this point there are projects which ostensibly are innocent civilian initiatives but which in reality are totally controlled and financed by ‘cut-outs’ from ultra-secret projects.

Moreover, our careful penetration of such projects yielded the disturbing finding that deep-cover black project operatives are working closely with alleged civilian researchers, journalists and UFO glitterati. CIA and military intelligence operatives are working with civilian ‘think tank’ heads, alongside very wealthy business people who are eschatologists, and being advised by ‘civilian’ technologists and scientists – who are themselves proponents of bizarre religious belief systems involving the end of the world and ETs…

Thus, the new ‘chosen ones’ have been assembled. They are planning your disclosure on the UFO/ET subject. They are owned by the money whores and power brokers doing the bidding of the secret entity which runs UFO projects to begin with. And it all looks like a civilian initiative. So innocent. So well-intended. So ‘scientific’. And by the way, the sky is falling courtesy of ET and we need your money and your souls to defend against it.

Do not be deceived. You need to be awake to the darker scenarios which some would like to thrust upon the world. And you need to know that there are alternatives. If a ‘disclosure’ is unleashed on the world which is xenophobic, militaristic and terrifying, know that it comes from the spinmeisters of secrecy- regardless of how respectable the person or group may appear to be.

And remember: Part of this disclosure plan involves the use of UFO look-alike devices made by humans in an attack on Earth or military assets of Earth. This would be a well-orchestrated use of advanced human technologies to hoax an ET attack- all for the purpose of disclosing the truth with the desired military-oriented spin. In such a scenario, most of humanity will be deceived into believing the threat from space has arrived – and that we must fight it at all costs. This is nothing more than long-term social security for the military-industrial complex. There must be people who can expose this fraud.

But why should we wait for these darker scenarios to be unleashed on an unsuspecting world?

Here is another idea: Why don’t ‘we the people’ unite and launch a disclosure which resembles the first one described above. An honest one. One which leads to peace, not war. To a sustainable and beautiful world, free of pollution and brimming with abundance, of all types. One which reaches out into the unknown, instead of firing particle beam weapons into the darkness of space.

Additionally, we welcome those who can come forward with first hand knowledge of the machinations referred to in this paper and who wish to expose such madness to contact us. The one thing the darkness of secrecy cannot tolerate is a spotlight shining right on it. And the more of us holding the light, the better.

Evil steps in when good people do nothing. This is a lesson taught through thousands of years of human history. We stand at the beginning of a new time, and a new world awaits us. But we must embrace it, and help create it. For if we are passive, others will have their way- at least in the short run.

Steven M. Greer M.D.

– See more at: http://www.siriusdisclosure.com/cseti-papers/when-disclosure-serves-secrecy/#sthash.8tCJCQsp.dpuf

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Editor’s note: for those interesting in considering more on this subject, further reading and videos are available at:

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The UN’s “new universal agenda” for humanity

The UN’s “new universal agenda” for humanity  By Michael Snyder, Zerohedge, 20 October 20105

The global elite have never been closer to their goal of a united world.  Thanks to a series of interlocking treaties and international agreements, the governance of this planet is increasingly becoming globalized and centralized, but most people don’t seem alarmed by this at all.  In the past 30 days, we have seen some of the biggest steps toward a one world government, a one world economy and a one world religion that we have ever witnessed, but these events have sparked very little public discussion or debate.  So please share this article with as many people as you can.  We need to wake people up about this before it is too late.

From September 25th to September 27th, the United Nations launched a “new universal agenda” for humanity.  Those are not my words, they actually come directly out of the core document for this new agenda.  The Pope traveled to New York City to give the address that kicked off this conference, thus giving his considerable endorsement to this new plan.  Virtually every nation on the entire planet willingly signed up for the 17 goals that are included in this plan, but this stunning turn of events made very few international headlines.

Turn our planet into some kind of “utopia”

The United Nations is promising that if we all work together that we can turn our planet into some kind of “utopia”, but the truth is that all of this talk about “unity” masks a very insidious agenda.  The following comes from a recent piece by Paul McGuire, the author of a groundbreaking new book entitled “The Babylon Code”

The UN is not asking permission, but issuing a command that the entire planet will commit to 17 sustainable development goals and 169 sustainable development targets designed to radically transform our world by 2030. The UN 2030 plan promoted by the Pope will advance Agenda 21 on steroids.

 Through a controlled media the mass populations will be told that this is all about saving the environment and “ending poverty.” But that is not the true agenda of Agenda 21. The true agenda of Agenda 21 is to establish a global government, global economic system, and global religion. When UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon spoke of “a dream of a world of peace and dignity for all” this is no different than when the Communists promised the people a “workers paradise.”

“The 2030 Agenda rebranded “the global goals”

For the general population, “the 2030 Agenda” has been rebranded as “the global goals”.  On September 26th, some of the biggest names in the music world (including Beyonce) promoted these new “global goals” at the “Global Citizen Festival” that was held in Central Park.  And you can watch a YouTube video where some of the most famous names on the entire planet urge all of us to get behind these new “global goals” right here.

None of this is by accident.  We are being trained to think of ourselves as “global citizens” that belong to a “global community”.  Decades ago, most Americans would have been up in arms over something like this.  But now most people just seem to accept these changes passively.  Very powerful secret societies and international organizations have been moving us in this direction for a very long time, and most Americans simply have no idea what is happening.  Here is more from Paul McGuire

The United Nations is a de facto global government and does not rule by the “consent of the governed.” The United Nations is a global government to which American politicians of both parties have surrendered our Constitutional rights. If you look at the Republican Presidential debates you see the vast majority of those running are “bought men and women.” They are there to do the bidding of their true masters, the international banking families and their interlocking secret societies. If a candidate has a different set of beliefs than the “Orwellian group think” which constitutes domestic and foreign policy, he is allowed to go only so far.

 Who are these powerful elite groups and the secret societies that run them? As we extensively document in our new book, The Babylon Code, co-authored by this author and Troy Anderson, a Pulitzer Prize-nominated investigative journalist, there exists a very real network of semi-secretive and secret groups. Groups like The Council on Foreign Relations, The Trilateral Commission, Royal Institute of International Affairs, United Nations, Club of Rome, The Bilderberg Group, and others control presidents, prime ministers, media networks, politicians, CEO’s, and entire nations. You will almost never hear any substantive analysis by the media, which is controlled by these groups nor of attempts at holding them accountable by governments around the world.

International trade agreements

Another way that our planet is being “united” is through the use of international trade agreements.

The ultimate goal is for the entire world to become a “single market” with uniform laws, rules and regulations.  But as we merge our economy with the rest of the globe, the United States has been losing tens of thousands of businesses and millions of jobs as the monolithic corporations that now dominate our economy shift production to areas where labor is much cheaper.  This is absolutely destroying the middle class, but very few people seem to care.

Negotiations for one of the biggest international trade treaties that the world has ever seen recently concluded.  The Trans-Pacific Partnership, also known as “Obamatrade”, would represent a giant step toward a truly unified global economy.  The following is an excerpt from one of my previous articles

We have just witnessed one of the most significant steps toward a one world economic system that we have ever seen.  Negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership have been completed, and if approved it will create the largest trading bloc on the planet.  But this is not just a trade agreement.  In this treaty, Barack Obama has thrown in all sorts of things that he never would have been able to get through Congress otherwise.  And once this treaty is approved, it will be exceedingly difficult to ever make changes to it.  So essentially what is happening is that the Obama agenda is being permanently locked in for 40 percent of the global economy.

 The United States, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam all intend to sign on to this insidious plan.  Collectively, these nations have a total population of about 800 million people and a combined GDP of approximately 28 trillion dollars.

And do you want to know who pushed really hard to give Obama fast track negotiating authority so that these negotiations could be brought to a successful conclusion?

It was the traitorous Republican leadership in Congress.  They did everything that they could to pave the way for Obamatrade.

A one world religion

We are also seeing some stunning moves in the direction of a one world religion.

In recent years, you may have noticed that it has become very trendy to say that all religions are just different paths to the same God.  In fact, many prominent religious leaders are now openly proclaiming that the two biggest faiths on the entire planet, Christianity and Islam, worship the exact same deity.

For example, just consider what the Pope is saying publicly on this matter.  The following is an extended excerpt from one of my recent articles on End of the American Dream…

What Pope Francis had to say at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan has received very little coverage by the mainstream media, but it was exceedingly significant.  The following is how he began his address

I would like to express two sentiments for my Muslim brothers and sisters: Firstly, my greetings as they celebrate the feast of sacrifice. I would have wished my greeting to be warmer. My sentiments of closeness, my sentiments of closeness in the face of tragedy. The tragedy that they suffered in Mecca.

In this moment, I give assurances of my prayers. I unite myself with you all. A prayer to almighty god, all merciful.

He did not choose those words by accident.  In Islam, Allah is known as “the all-merciful one”.  If you doubt this, just do a Google search.

And this is not the first time Pope Francis has used such language.  For instance, the following comes from remarks that he made during his very first ecumenical meeting as Pope…

I then greet and cordially thank you all, dear friends belonging to other religious traditions; first of all the Muslims, who worship the one God, living and merciful, and call upon Him in prayer, and all of you. I really appreciate your presence: in it I see a tangible sign of the will to grow in mutual esteem and cooperation for the common good of humanity.

 The Catholic Church is aware of the importance of promoting friendship and respect between men and women of different religious traditions – I wish to repeat this: promoting friendship and respect between men and women of different religious traditions – it also attests the valuable work that the Pontifical Council for interreligious dialogue performs.

Pope Francis clearly believes that Christians and Muslims worship the exact same God.  And so that helps to explain why he authorized “Islamic prayers and readings from the Quran” at the Vatican for the first time ever back in 2014.

What is happening is undeniable.

Steamrolling toward a one world government

We are steamrolling toward a one world government, a one world economy and a one world religion.

Of course we will not get there overnight.  It is going to take some time, and there are going to be quite a few bumps along the way.  In fact, I believe that our planet will experience an extreme amount of chaos before we actually get there.

But every major crisis will be used as an excuse to advance this agenda.  Virtually every solution that the elite offer us will involve more globalization and more centralization.  We will be told that all of our problems will be solved if humanity will just come together in unity.

For some, the goal of a “united planet” where we are all working together to eradicate things like poverty, war and disease makes all the sense in the world.

For others, a one world government, a one world economy and a one world religion would simply mean setting the stage for “one world tyranny”.

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Previous articles concerning ‘New World Order’

Posted in "New World Order" | Comments Off on Any ‘New World Order’ will fail

Economic Poker, Crime and Incompetence

Key parts of the world’s financial affairs have been hi-jacked by self-serving financial organisations, bureaucracies, country leaders and individuals.   The outlook is dire.

Pentagon Cannot Account For $6.5 Trillion Dollars

Pentagon Cannot Account For $6.5 Trillion Dollars  By Jay Syrmopoulos, Global Research, 17 August 2016

 Adding to the appearance of impropriety is the fact that thousands of documents that should be on file have been removed and disappeared without any reasonable explanation.

A new Department of Defense Inspector General’s report, released last week, has left Americans stunned at the jaw-dropping lack of accountability and oversight. The glaring report revealed the Pentagon couldn’t account for $6.5 trillion dollars worth of Army general fund transactions and data, according to a report by the Fiscal Times.

The Pentagon, which has been notoriously lax in its accounting practices, has never completed an audit, would reveal how the agency has specifically spent the trillions of dollars allocated for wars, equipment, personnel, housing, healthcare and procurement’s allotted to them by Congress.

Beginning in 1996 all federal agencies were mandated by law to conduct regular financial audits. However, the Pentagon has NEVER complied with that federal law. In 20 years, it has never accounted for the trillions of dollars in taxpayer funds it has spent, in part because “fudging” the numbers has become standard operating procedure at the Department of Defense, as revealed in a 2013 Reuters investigation by Scot Paltrow.

According to the report by the Fiscal Times: An increasingly impatient Congress has demanded that the Army achieve “audit readiness” for the first time by Sept. 30, 2017, so that lawmakers can get a better handle on military spending. But Pentagon watchdogs think that may be mission impossible, and for good reason…

The Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS), the behemoth Indianapolis-based agency that provides finance and accounting services for the Pentagon’s civilian and military members, could not provide adequate documentation for $6.5 trillion worth of year-end adjustments to Army general fund transactions and data.

The DFAS has the sole responsibility for paying all DOD military and personnel, retirees and annuitants, along with Pentagon contractors and vendors. The agency is also in charge of electronic government initiatives, including within the Executive Office of the President, the Department of Energy and the Departing of Veterans Affairs.

While there is nothing in the IG’s report specifying that the money has been stolen, the mere fact that the Pentagon can’t account for how it spent the money reveals a potentially far greater problem than simple theft alone.

For every transaction, a so-called “journal voucher” that provides serial numbers, transaction dates and the amount of the expenditure is supposed to be produced. The report specifies that the agency has done such a poor job in providing documentation of their transactions, that there is no way to actually know how $6.5 trillion dollars has been spent. Essentially, the government has no way of knowing how the Pentagon has spent the trillions of taxpayer dollars allocated by Congress for national defense.

In turn, employees of the DFAS were routinely told by superiors to take “unsubstantiated change actions” commonly referred to as “plugging” the numbers. These “plugs” – which amounted to falsifying financial records – were then used to create the appearance that the military’s financial data matched that of the U.S. Treasury Department’s numbers when discrepancies in the financial data couldn’t be accounted for, according to the Reuters investigation.

According to the Reuters investigation: For two decades, the U.S. military has been unable to submit to an audit, flouting federal law and concealing waste and fraud totaling billions of dollars.

Linda Woodford spent the last 15 years of her career inserting phony numbers in the U.S. Department of Defense’s accounts.

Every month until she retired in 2011, she says, the day came when the Navy would start dumping numbers on the Cleveland, Ohio DFAS…. Using the data they received, Woodford and her fellow accountants there set about preparing monthly reports to square the Navy’s books with the U.S. Treasury’s…. And every month, they encountered the same problem. Numbers were missing. Numbers were clearly wrong. Numbers came with no explanation of how the money had been spent or which congressional appropriation it came from.

While many of the problems occurred due to bookkeeping errors rather than actual financial losses, the DFAS has failed to provide the necessary tracking information essential to performing an accurate audit of Pentagon spending and obligations, according to the IG’s report.

“Army and Defense Finance and Accounting Service Indianapolis personnel did not adequately support $2.8 trillion in third quarter adjustments and $6.5 trillion in year-end adjustments made to Army General Fund data during FY 2015 financial statement compilation,” wrote Lorin T. Venable, the assistant inspector general for financial management and reporting. “We conducted this audit in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.”

The Pentagon has a chronic failure to keep track of its money – how much it has, how much it pays out and how much is wasted or stolen. Adding to the appearance of impropriety is the fact that thousands of documents that should be on file have been removed and disappeared without any reasonable explanation.

DFAS “did not document or support why the Defense Departmental Reporting System . . . removed at least 16,513 of 1.3 million records during Q3 FY 2015. As a result, the data used to prepare the FY 2015 AGF third quarter and year-end financial statements were unreliable and lacked an adequate audit trail,” according to the IG’s report stated.

The accounting errors and manipulated numbers, though obviously problems in their own right, highlight a far greater problem for the Defense Department than only bad recording keeping and wasteful spending habits. In reality, they are a representation of the poor decision making, and lack of oversight and accountability that plague our nation’s government as a whole.

While the Department of Defense can’t account for $6.5 trillion dollars of taxpayer funds, in 2014 there were 47 million people, including over 15 million children, living in poverty in the U.S. – %15 of the U.S. population, which is the largest total number in poverty since records began being kept 52 years ago.

Please share this story if you are appalled by the fact that there are Americans that are homeless and hungry, including U.S. combat veterans — while the government is unable to account for $6.5 trillion dollars of taxpayer money.

A little reminder: On September 10, 2001 Donald Rumsfeld spoke about $2.3 trillion missing from the Pentagon budget.

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IMF, An Inheritance of Incompetence

 IMF, An Inheritance of Incompetence  By John Mauldin | Aug 13, 2016

 “Practical men who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.”  John Maynard Keynes

I don’t often agree with Keynes, but he is the most quotable of all major economists. The above sentence was one of his best. He was right about defunct economists. Of course, he was talking about all those other defunct economists who no longer kept up with his new and improved way of thinking about all things economic. Now his quip comes back to haunt his legacy and his followers.

Theories and practices often outlive their usefulness in our fast-changing world. So do institutions, including those chartered at the 1944 Bretton Woods Conference. In today’s letter we are going to look closely at the International Monetary Fund and a scathing report from its own internal auditors. For those of us who have been following the IMF for decades, the report is not all that surprising.

My real purpose here is not to point the finger at the IMF but to point out where its problems are part and parcel of a greater problem in global institutions. During the next global recession we are going to see a continuation of the same approaches to crisis solving that we’ve seen in the past, based on the theories of defunct economists mixed with personal and institutional biases. Their prescription is a witches’ brew that we will be told is good for us but that will in fact ensure that those of us least able to cope will bear the brunt of its impact.

Let’s be generous to the World War II generation. In a war-torn world that had yet to recover from a depression that began 15 years earlier, revamping the existing economic order probably seemed a good idea. And the results did look positive for the first few decades. With US help, Europe and Japan launched huge rebuilding projects. Here in the States we enjoyed rapid growth and a Baby Boom that produced me and perhaps you.

Yet that era also bequeathed to us some new problems. What we now call the European Union grew out of a postwar Franco-German coal and steel trading pact. The euro currency is a branch in the same family tree as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and others. It’s a big, bushy tree desperately in need of trimming.

Today we’ll look at a report that suggests the IMF is indeed long overdue for a good pruning. This sordid story is just one thread in a much bigger one, but it helps explain a lot of global imbalances. Let’s go back to the very beginning.

Summer in Bretton Woods

The Second World War was still raging in July 1944, but the Allies thought victory was at hand. Representatives from 44 nations met at a Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, resort (pictured above) to design a new global monetary system. You might think this would be a long, involved task. Not so. They finished in three weeks. (Imagine trying to get a major trade agreement done in three weeks.)

Two things were already decided before the conference even started. They weren’t going to have a gold standard, nor would they allow free-floating exchange rates. John Maynard Keynes was a great influence at the conference, and his thoughts on gold relegated it to the past –it was he who first called it “a barbarous relic.” The basic concept agreed to at the conference was a hybrid system of fixed rates tied to the US dollar, which in turn was tied to gold.

The Bretton Woods conferees determined that an ounce of gold would fetch $35. Other currencies were given fixed rates in dollars with a 1% leeway. This was how the dollar became the world’s “reserve currency.”

There was little choice in the matter because the US owned most of the world’s gold bullion. To have tied every country to a gold standard would have been massively deflationary and would have seriously hindered the potential for global trade and growth at a time when both were desperately needed.

Whatever you think about the appropriateness of what was done, fixing rates in this way made payment and debt crises all but inevitable. The delegates agreed at Bretton Woods to set up two transnational institutions to manage problems: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD). The IBRD later became part of the World Bank.

The IMF’s job was essentially to lubricate the system when trade flows made currencies drift away from their dollar pegs. It worked for a while, but the Bretton Woods regime collapsed in 1971 when President Nixon “closed the gold window,” severing the dollar’s convertibility to gold.

With currencies now effectively free-floating, the IMF found itself with little reason to exist. Did it go off quietly into the night? Of course not. When has any bureaucracy ever volunteered to shut itself down? IMF officials simply redefined their mission. The IMF would now provide financing to nations with balance of payments issues, makes loans to nations in distress, and publish lots of economic research.

In the course of fulfilling this noble mission, the IMF has managed to get itself involved with dictators, human rights abusers, corrupt officials, and assorted other global shady characters. Sometimes the corruption has touched top IMF officials. The current managing director, Christine Lagarde, is currently on trial in France on corruption charges dating back to her time as that country’s finance minister.

The IMF’s structure almost guarantees that it will always be dysfunctional. Votes on the board are weighted by each country’s capital contribution, so a few big countries call the shots. In theory the smaller members could band together and usurp power with an 85% supermajority vote. Unfortunately for them, the US alone has 16% of the votes, giving Washington an effective veto on any serious change.

There’s also a huge divide between the creditor nations, who contribute capital and borrow little, and the debtors who contribute little and borrow much. Creditors want stronger lending standards and higher interest rates. Debtors want the opposite. But they are all represented on the board and are expected to somehow agree on IMF policies. They seldom do.

So what happens? The European members, well aware that the small fry can only squawk, make policy decisions that favor themselves. Every now and then a few sordid details leak out.

IMF Love Affairs

This UK Telegraph headline caught my eye a couple of weeks ago, alerting me to a new development in the ongoing saga of IMF incompetence.

That such a love affair existed was no surprise, nor that the IMF had participated in the immolation of Greece. No, the surprise was that IMF would publicly disclose the extent of incompetence and massive rule breaking that had taken place.

The Ambrose Evans-Pritchard byline told me this was a story worth reading. Here’s his lead:

The International Monetary Fund’s top staff misled their own board, made a series of calamitous misjudgments in Greece, became euphoric cheerleaders for the euro project, ignored warning signs of impending crisis, and collectively failed to grasp an elemental concept of currency theory.

This is the lacerating verdict of the IMF’s top watchdog on the fund’s tangled political role in the eurozone debt crisis, the most damaging episode in the history of the Bretton Woods institutions.

Ambrose knows how to turn a phrase. “Calamitous misjudgments” is a good way to describe the way the IMF, along with the EU and ECB, has handled the continent’s sovereign debt crisis, which remains unresolved even now, six years later.

What aroused Ambrose’s ire? A report from the IMF’s internal audit department describes an organization for which dysfunctional would be a compliment. The massive bailouts of Greece, Portugal, and Ireland broke the agency’s own rules and arguably enriched the perpetrators of those countries’ ills while further punishing the victims. And as we will discuss later in this letter, the IMF carried on with its disastrous policies while fully recognizing what it was doing, because there was huge internal debate about the bailout process. Clearly, many in the IMF knew that what they were doing was wrong and would result in crisis. An analysis of why the leadership decided to do inappropriate things tells us a lot about the way international institutions go about making decisions.

Among other lapses, IMF officials had no plans for handling a eurozone debt crisis, because they presumed such a crisis was impossible. And it wasn’t that the IMF hadn’t been warned. Long before the deluge, people within the agency had argued that the euro system was fundamentally flawed and would eventually fall apart. Those who said so found themselves overruled and even punished.

The bias developed because, as Ambrose says, the European elites in the IMF have waged a massive love affair with the euro. And like many in love, they simply could not see the flaws in the object of their affection, the common currency of the eurozone. It was at the very foundation of the whole European project in their eyes.

The IMF-EMU love affair led the agency to accept reports and reassurances from eurozone officials at face value, without the same kind of verification they routinely demand from less-developed countries.

I don’t know for sure, but I suspect those less-developed nations, perceiving favoritism toward Europe, asked the IMF Independent Evaluation Office to start probing. The IEO bypasses the bureaucrats and reports directly to the executive board. Once unleashed, the IEO had no trouble finding all manner of bias, incompetence, and underhanded dealing.

These tendencies led the IMF to cooperate in imposing harsh austerity measures on Greece while protecting Greek creditors from haircuts. The IMF was far more concerned about protecting the sanctity of the euro system and the stability of European banks than it was about making the citizens of Greece suffer. We can’t know for sure, but it seems likely an orderly debt write-down process would have put Greece back on its feet, with the pain spread equitably among the parties. The IMF instead pushed a plan that it knew would never work – or at least many inside the IMF were saying so.

The sad fact is that if Greece had simply walked away from its debt, left the euro, and reintroduced the drachma, it would have gone through a very severe depression but now be on its way to recovery. Instead, Greece is trapped in a five-, going on six-year-long depression that is worse than the Great Depression of the ’30s in the US. Further, there appears to be no way out of their crisis if they continue to adhere to IMF-imposed mandates in order to keep bailout money coming.

The irony is that at some point Greece may simply be forced to leave, which will create an even deeper depression, making a terrible situation even more desperate. I truly feel sorry for the Greeks.

The full IEO report with appendices is hundreds of pages long. You can explore it here if you enjoy such things.

But this report isn’t all. It is only the latest chapter in a long, sordid tale. To understand it in context, we need to back up a few years.

PIIGS in Bankruptcy

We think of Greece as the epicenter of the eurozone debt crisis, but it had company. The acronym PIIGS refers to five overstretched members: Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece, and Spain.

In late 2009, as the Fed’s initial QE program pushed US stocks higher, Greece’s growing budget deficit led credit agencies to downgrade its sovereign debt rating. The government cut spending but not by enough. Prime Minister George Papandreou formally asked for, and received, a bailout from a “Troika” consisting of the EU, ECB, and IMF.

As the crisis unfolded, it became clear to most everyone that Greece’s heavy debt load would require harsh measures. The question then became how to distribute the pain.

A normal bankruptcy proceeding would have resulted in some kind of balanced plan. Creditors would take a haircut while the debtor gave up assets and/or income. In this case, the creditors were large European banks that were not at all predisposed to writing down their asset values. Through the EU and ECB, they pushed for Greece to cut spending and sell state-owned assets to raise cash. On the Greek side, a population accustomed to generous government benefits and widespread tax avoidance was not enthusiastic about austerity. Further, the Greeks had created a bureaucratic system that was unbelievably bloated and a labor program that reinforced noncompetitive businesses and stalled startup activity. The population wanted its benefits, and the oligarchs didn’t want to reform. Europe didn’t want a banking crisis but also didn’t want to pony up enough money to really rescue Greece. A long standoff ensued.

IMF rules say the organization is not supposed to make a loan unless the borrower has a reasonable prospect of repaying it. It has routinely demanded harsh conditions in exchange for aiding smaller African, Asian, and Latin American countries. These conditions for getting the money all but guaranteed continued crisis in the countries that were subjected to them. Yet the IMF seemed reluctant to apply similar measures to Greece.

Thanks to the IEO report, we now know that IMF officials sneaked a major rule change into the plan they presented to the IMF board. It allowed an exemption from normal credit standards in cases where there was risk of systemic contagion.

I don’t doubt they were worried about contagion. Their action came on the heels of the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy and 2008–2009 financial crisis. Greece wasn’t the only problem, either. There was great concern that anything done for Greece would set a precedent for far larger Spain and Italy. The markets knew that and were watching closely. The fear that contagion would result if the IMF played by its usual rules was not irrational.

On the other hand, rules exist for a reason. Propping up banks that make unwise loans is not part of the IMF’s remit. Nor is it the IMF’s mission to prop up governments that will not undertake reasonable economic reform measures. Arguably, the whole Greek affair was not the IMF’s business. Greece was, after all, a member of the European Union, and the EU should have taken responsibility. I mean seriously, is the State of Illinois going to run to the IMF for aid when it topples into bankruptcy in a few years?

The IMF should have offered nothing but advice and best wishes. That’s not what happened. What were they thinking?

Well, it was around this time that Christine Lagarde’s predecessor, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, was arrested in New York for alleged sexual assault of a hotel maid. He admitted to “inappropriate” conduct but denied he had coerced her. Prosecutors dropped charges after the accuser’s story came into question. Whatever happened, it seems the IMF managing director had more than Greece on his mind. He stepped down in May 2011, and Lagarde took his place a few weeks later.

So in addition to being involved where it shouldn’t and breaking its own rules, the IMF was also embroiled in internal turmoil while entire nations teetered on the edge. The stress showed up in disastrously wrong growth forecasts used to justify the eurozone bailouts. The thin black line that scrapes the bottom of the following chart is actual Greek GDP. The other lines are forecasts the IMF made in the course of its periodic reviews. By the fifth review they were getting closer to reality but were still tracking far above actual GDP. (Does this put you in mind of the forecasts the Federal Reserve makes?)

It gets worse. It seems that as late as this year, IMF technocrats were actively plotting how to create another European crisis to further their own goals.

“We Need an Event”

You would think, amid all the hacking incidents and email leaks, we all would have learned that nothing we say is private anymore. Apparently that reality hadn’t dawned in IMF circles, because in April Wikileaks released the transcript of an IMF teleconference. The conversation occurred on March 19, 2016, and included the two IMF officials responsible for Greece, Paul Thomsen and Delia Velkouleskou.

Who exactly recorded the conversation and how Wikileaks obtained it is unclear.  Here is the interesting part.

THOMSEN: What is going to bring it all to a decision point? In the past there has been only one time when the decision has been made and then that was when they were about to run out of money seriously and to default. Right?

VELCULESCU: Right!

THOMSEN: And possibly this is what is going to happen again. In that case, it drags on until July, and clearly the Europeans are not going to have any discussions for a month before the Brexit, and so,at some stage they will want to take a break and then they want to start again after the European referendum.

THOMSEN: But that is not an event. That is not going to cause them to… That discussion can go on for a long time. And they are just leading them down the road… why are they leading them down the road? Because they are not close to the event, whatever it is.

VELCULESCU: I agree that we need an event, but I don’t know what that will be.

The “event” they are wishing for is something that will put Greece in default and force Europe, particularly Germany, to agree to IMF demands. They see the upcoming Brexit vote as an opportunity, since Britain and others will be looking away from Greece. They also think the “event” will jar the Greek parliament into agreement.

We don’t know if the hoped-for event would have done the trick, since the leak happened weeks before the Brexit vote. At least, the IMF may have demonstrated that it understood the situation. Their goal was to force recalcitrant Greek and EU negotiators into a compromise that had eluded everyone for years. On the other hand, to do so they were apparently willing to set off a whole new crisis, in which case they might have cured the disease but killed the patient.

European Bias

In June 2012, an executive in the IMF’s European division named Peter Doyle resigned via a scathing letter to IMF management. His letter made the rounds on the internet at the time but is even more interesting in the wake of the IEO report. It makes very clear the turmoil that was going on inside the IMF. He is describing the status quo within the IMF, and we can assume that he has been its victim (bolding is mine).

Here’s what Doyle said:

After twenty years of service, I am ashamed to have had any association with the Fund at all.

This is not solely because of the incompetence that was partly chronicled by the OIA report into the global crisis and the TSR report on surveillance ahead of the Euro Area crisis. More so, it is because the substantive difficulties in these crises, as with others, were identified well in advance but were suppressed here.

Given long gestation periods and protracted international decision-making processes to head off both these global challenges, timely sustained warnings were of the essence. So the failure of the Fund to issue them is a failing of the first order, even if such warnings may not have been heeded. The consequences include suffering (and risk of worse to come) for many including Greece, that the second global reserve currency is on the brink, and that the Fund for the past two years has been playing catch-up and reactive roles in the last-ditch efforts to save it. [“It” being the euro, which is not an IMF responsibility.]

Further, the proximate factors which produced these failings of IMF surveillance – analytical risk aversion, bilateral priority, and European bias – are, if anything, becoming more deeply entrenched, notwithstanding initiatives which purport to address them. This fact is most clear in regard to appointments for Managing Director which, over the past decade, have all-too-evidently been disastrous. Even the current incumbent is tainted, as neither her gender, integrity, or élan can make up for the fundamental illegitimacy of the selection process.

In a hierarchical place like this, the implications of those choices filter directly to others in senior management, and via the appointments, fixed term contracts, and succession planning of senior staff, they go on to infuse the organization as a whole, overwhelming everything else. A handicapped Fund, subject to those proximate roots of surveillance failure, is what the Executive Board prefers. Would that I had understood twenty years ago that this would be the choice.

The managing director selection process he mentions is indeed strange. By custom the job always goes to a European. Likewise, an American always leads the World Bank. These unwritten rules serve neither organization well. Both institutions should have the best possible leaders and not rule out highly qualified candidates who happen to come from the wrong continent.

Doyle’s letter should have warned people that something was badly amiss within the IMF. Instead it was dismissed as sour grapes on the part of a disgruntled employee – and the problems got worse. But the real smoking gun was still to come in the form of the IEO report some four years later, which bears out the warnings and confirms the very events that Doyle wrote about.

An Inheritance of Incompetence

The IMF was created to solve the problems of a war-torn world. When those problems no longer needed solving, it reinvented a purpose for itself and morphed into an entrenched bureaucracy, increasingly in the thrall of defunct economists and their hoary economic theories, forcing countries to self-immolate, attacking one crisis after another by creating even more problems. The IMF doubles down on failed strategies by prescribing more of the same, always blaming client states for not following through sufficiently and never acknowledging its own flawed strategies.

Reviewing the internal auditor’s report in the light of other revelations reveals hidebound bureaucrats creating their own internal fiefdoms and jealously guarding their turf, rewarding those who agree with them and banishing those who disagree to Outer Mongolia (or the bureaucratic equivalent). New directors and managers take their places in the hierarchy and inherit the incompetence and corruption endemic within the system.

I’ve been rather harsh on the IMF, but it is just one of many institutions that have created their own bureaucratic nightmares. While there are many people within these institutions who are personally competent, the institutions have come to be driven by their own particular biases and agendas, which they are collectively going to take into the next global crisis. For us to expect that global institutions, including central banks and national bureaucracies, will do anything other than apply more of the same failed fixes to whatever crisis we face in the future is simply to kid ourselves.

The sad thing is that, for most people in most places in the world, the IMF is just the tip of the bureaucratic iceberg. Most countries will not be able to blame the IMF for the problems that pile up in the next crisis. They will have to look hard at their own bureaucratic sclerosis. Until we can change the fundamental orientation – the controlling philosophies – of these organizations and excise institutionalized incompetence, we are going to continue to get the same dismal results from them.

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Abolish the FOMC

Abolish the FOMC  By David Stockman, from Zerohedge, 11 August 2016

The approximate hour Janet Yellen spends wandering in circles and spewing double talk during her post-meeting pressers is time well spent. When the painful ordeal of her semi-coherent babbling is finally over, she has essentially proved that the Fed is attempting an impossible task.

And better still, that the FOMC should be abolished.

The alternative is real simple. It’s called price discovery on the free market; it’s the essence of capitalism.

After all, the hot shot traders who operate in the canyons of Wall Street could readily balance the market for overnight funds. They would do so by varying the discount rate on short-term money.

That is, they would push the rate upwards when funds were short, thereby calling-in liquidity from other markets and discouraging demand, especially from carry trade speculators. By contrast, when surplus funds got piled too high, they would push the discount rate downward, thereby discouraging supply and inciting demand.

Under such a free market regime, the discount rate might well be highly mobile, moving from 1% to 10% and back to 1%, for example, as markets cleared in response to changing short-term balances. So what?

Likewise, the world is full of long-term savers like pension funds, insurance companies, bond funds and direct household investors on the supply side, and a long parade of sovereign, corporate and household borrowers on the demand side.

Through an endless process of auction, arbitrage and allocation, the yield curve would find its proper shape and levels. And like in the case of a free market in money, the yield curve of the debt market would undulate, twist, turn and otherwise morph in response to changing factors with respect to supply of savings and demands for debt capital.

It goes without saying that under such a regime, savers would be rewarded with high rates when demands for business investment, household borrowings and government debt issuance were large. At the same time, financial punters, business speculators, household high-livers and deficit-spending politicians alike would find their enthusiasm severely dented by high and rising yields when the supply of savings was short.

What would be the harm, it must be asked, in letting economic agents in their tens of millions bid for savings in order to find the right price of debt capital at any given time? Why concentrate the task among 12 people who, as Janet Yellen’s endless babbling so thoroughly demonstrates, can’t possibly figure it out, anyway?

There are three reasons given as to why capitalism’s monumental and crucial tasks of setting the price of money and debt cannot be trusted to the free market. But all of them are wrong; all of them are a variation of the giant Keynesian error that capitalism self-destructively tends toward entropy absent the ministrations of the state, and especially its central banking branch.

The three cardinal errors of which we speak are the claim that 1) debt is the keystone to prosperity, 2) the business cycle is inherently unstable and bleeds the economy of growth and wealth and 3) active central bank intervention is needed to stop bank runs and financial crises from spiraling into catastrophe.

The “Financial Contagion” Myth And The False Case For Activist Central Banking

Let’s start with the third claim. It’s the fear of financial contagion and catastrophe of the type which allegedly arose in September 2008 that is the bogeyman which ultimately undergirds the current cult of Keynesian central banking.

Yet we didn’t really need Ben Bernanke and his self-proclaimed courage to print—–and wildly and excessively so, as it happened.

Recall that the Fed’s balance sheet was about $900 billion before the Lehman meltdown, and it had taken 94 years to get there. The Bernanke Fed printed another $900 billion in just seven weeks after Lehman and $1.3 trillion more before Christmas eve that year.

In the process, any crony capitalist within shouting distance of the canyons of Wall Street got bailed out with ultra-cheap credit from the Fed’s alphabet soup of bailout lines.

Among these was the $600 billion AAA balance sheet at General Electric where CEO Jeff Imelt’s bonus would have been jeopardized by spiking interest costs on his imprudently issued $90 billion in short-term commercial paper.

Ben had the courage save Imelt’s bonus by funding him at less than 4% for no good reason whatsoever. General Electric could have readily raised the funds through a dilutive issue of common stock or long-term debt.

He also had the courage to fund Morgan Stanley to the tune of $100 billion in cheap advances and guarantees. That gift kept this insolvent Wall Street gambling outfit alive long enough for CEO John Mack to jet down to Washington where he got short-sellers outlawed and collected a $10 billion TARP bailout—-and all in less than two weeks!

Well, there is a better answer and it requires no FOMC, Ben Bernanke or specious courage to rescue crony capitalist bandits like John Mack and Jeff Imelt.

It is called mobilizing the discount rate. Implementation only takes green eyeshades.

 Yes, just a small number of competent accountants.

Indeed, no Harvard, Princeton or even University of Chicago PhDs need apply.

For all the false jawing about Walter Bagehot’s rules for stopping a financial crisis, a mobilized discount rate, not a hyperactive FOMC running around with hair afire and monetary fire hoses spraying randomly, is actually what the great english financial thinker had in mind.

To wit, Bagehot actually said that during a crisis central banks should supply funds freely at a penalty spread over a market rate of interest secured by sound collateral.

You don’t need macroeconomic modelers with PhDs in econo-algebra to do that. You need accountants who can drill deep into balance sheets and examine the collateral; and then clerks who can query the market rate of interest, add say 300-400 basis points of penalty spread, and hit the send bottom to eligible banks which have posted approved collateral.

Indeed, this was the sum and substance of the Fed’s original design by Carter Glass, the great financial statesman who authored it. That’s why he had 12 Reserve Banks domiciled in the different economic regions of the country and an essentially honorific but powerless board in Washington DC.

As we indicated above, the latter had no remit to target macroeconomic variables. It was not charged with managing, countering, flattening, or abolishing the business cycle. It could not even own government debt, and 91.7% (11/12) of its operations were to be conducted in the 11 regional banks away from Wall Street.

In short, the purpose of the Fed was actually to be a classic lender of last resort. Carter Glass called it a “banker’s bank”. Its job was liquefying the banking system on a decentralized basis, not monetary central planning or Keynesian macro-economic management.

Accordingly, the balance sheet of the Federal Reserve System was not intended to be a proactive instrument of national economic policy. It was to passively reflect the ebb and flow of industry and commerce. The expansion and contraction of banking system liquidity needs would follow from the free enterprise of business and labor throughout the nation, not the whims, guesstimates, confusions, and blather of a 12-person FOMC.

Needless to say, under the mobilized discount rate regime and Banker’s Bank that Carter Glass intended,the outcomes during the 2008 financial crisis would have been far different.

Bear Stearns was not a commercial bank, and would not have been eligible for the discount window. It would have been liquidated, as it should have been, with no harm done except  to the speculators who had imprudently purchased its commercial paper, debt and equity securities.

Likewise, Morgan Stanley was insolvent and its doors would have been closed on September 25, 2008. That is, long before John Mack could have gotten the short-sellers of his worthless stock banned or collected his $10 billion gift from Hank Paulson.

In short, the world would have little noted nor long remembered the chapter 11 filing of what was (and still is) a notorious gambling house. Likewise, GE would have paid a 10% or even 20% interest rate for its commercial paper refunding, thereby dinging its earnings by a quarter or two and Jeff Imelt’s’ bonus that year.

So what?

In a word, what happened in the run-up to the great financial crisis and its aftermath never would have occurred under a mobilized discount rate regime conducted by a Banker’s Bank. Funding costs in the money markets would have soared, causing speculators who had invested long and illiquid and borrowed cheap and overnight to be carried out on their shields.

The Crisis of 1907—–The Proper Way To Quell A Speculative Blow-Off

That’s exactly what happened during the great financial panic of 1907 when interest rates soared to 20% and even 60% of some days of extreme money market stress.

As it happened, the market cleared out the speculators and hopelessly insolvent, like the copper kings and real estate punters of the day.

At the same time, JP Morgan and his syndicate of bankers with their own capital on the line, re-liquefied the solvent supplicants who came to Morgan‘s library on Madison Avenue—–but only after their green eyeshades had spent long nights proving up solid collateral for liquidity loans from the Morgan syndicate.

By 1910 American capitalism was again booming. No Fed. No Bernanke. No harm done.

So in 2008, the money markets would have cleared, and any temporary expansion of the Fed’s balance sheet would have immediately shrunk once the crisis was over, and the discount loans were repaid. And, yes, at 10%, 20% or even 50% and a penalty spread to boot, they would have been paid off real fast.

That’s what a real lender of last resort would look like. Janet Yellen’s crony capitalist flop house is its very opposite.

As to the second proposition—–that debt is the keystone to prosperity—-that was true in a bad sort of way, but not anymore. That’s because debt does not ultimately expand economic activity and wealth; it just pulls it forward in time, leaving the future to reckon with the morning after.

The chart below tells the story in a nutshell. Prior to 1970 the ratio of total debt in the US—-government, household, business and financial—-was about 1.5X national income or GDP. Other than a modest fluctuation in the early 1930s when the denominator (GDP) collapsed during the Great Depression, the nation’s aggregate leverage ratio oscillated around this golden mean through boom and bust, war and peace.

More importantly, immense output growth, technological progress, capital investment and living standard gains were made during that period without any permanent change in the 1.5X  leverage ratio. For a century, American capitalism thrived without stealing growth and prosperity from the future through the Keynesian parlor trick of ratcheting up the national leverage ratio.

Once the Fed was liberated from the yoke of Bretton Woods and the redeemability of dollars for gold by Nixon’s folly at Camp David in August 1971, however, financial history broke into an altogether new channel.

What happened was a rolling national LBO. As shown in the chart below, total debt outstanding soared from $1.6 trillion to $64 trillion or by 40X. By contrast, nominal GDP expanded by only 16X.

Accordingly, the nation’s leverage ratio soared from its historical groove around 1.5X to 3.5X.  That’s massive; it’s two extra turns of debt on national income. At the old pre-1971 ratio, which had been proved by a century of prosperity, total debt outstanding today would be only $27 trillion.

To wit, the American economy is now lugging around about $35 trillion of extra debt. Yet the results are unequivocal. The trend rate of real GDP growth has been heading steadily lower since the 1960s. More debt ultimately means less growth, not more.

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Previous Economic Crime, Poker and Incompetence articles

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Brexit: democracy in action, or not?

What does the Brexit mean, both short and long-term?  Could it lead to more countries’ rank and file voters deciding to take back control from the elitists?  From the corporate and financial industries, United Nations and New World Order tyrants that are progressively subverting democracy?

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Democracy endangered, the unelected v. the hoi polloi

Democracy endangered, the unelected v. the hoi polloi  By Tom Slate, Spiked Online, 6 August 2016

Have you heard of Patience Wheatcroft? You know, Baroness Wheatcroft, the esteemed Tory peer who has served in the House of Lords since 2010? Of course you haven’t. Not because you’re ignorant, or uninterested in our political process. But because neither you nor I nor anyone in this country ever elected her. And yet, as we speak, she is plotting to overturn our collective will.

In an interview this week with The Times, Wheatcroft revealed that her and ‘several dozen’ of her fellow peers were working out how best to block or delay the implementation of the Brexit vote. ‘I would hope’, she said, ‘while we delayed things, that there would be sufficient movement in the EU to justify putting it to the electorate, either through a General Election or a second referendum’.

In practice, this would mean the Lords blocking any bill aimed at enacting Brexit. That is, the unelected second chamber would block the implementation of the biggest democratic mandate in our history. ‘Constitutionally we can do that. So if it got to that stage I think we would’, she said. In the wake of this great, democratic cock-up, it was incumbent upon the Lords, she said, to make ‘the House of Commons think again’.

And she’s not alone. Another Tory peer, who didn’t want to be named, told The Times that the Lords ‘will and can’ delay the triggering of Article 50. ‘Leave won on only 51.9 per cent of the vote, on facts presented that are patently wrong or misleading’, he said. ‘It’s absolutely astonishing that everyone is rolling over and saying “well that’s all done and dusted”.’

Then there’s Labour peer Oona King, who tabled a debate in the wake of the Brexit vote on the subject of a second referendum. King said voters were misled, and that it was the role of the Lords ‘to scrutinise the decisions of those with democratic authority – in this case, the British people – to bring more facts to their attention and to ask them to review their decision’.

Just take that in for a moment. This gaggle of lords and baronesses is scheming against our democratic wishes in the name of doing what’s best for us – in the name of stopping us moral infants from getting carried away with ourselves. It’s horrendous. Throwback. Positively pre-modern. But it’s only the most aristocratic expression of the elite fury that has been unleashed since 23 June.

We’ve had marches on parliament, organised by spurned, well-to-do Remainers, calling on the democratic will to be overturned. We’ve had law firms, backed by business interests, launching legal challenges against Article 50 being implemented. And politicians are getting in on the act, too. Labour MP David Lammy called on his colleagues to ‘stop this madness’ and block Brexit in parliament. And Labour leadership candidate Owen Smith is pledging a second referendum.

All corners of the elite are closing ranks against Brexit – and all democrats should be concerned. There are those who suggest that we should take Tory PM Theresa May at her word when she says ‘Brexit means Brexit’ – that her rebuff to the Lords’ plotting this week should be enough to reassure us. This is profoundly naïve. The government’s dithering over Article 50 has, in fact, been an invitation to this kind of elite, anti-democratic scheming.

Throughout the campaign we were told that our decision would be implemented. That Article 50 has still not been triggered – that the government is now saying it might be closer to 2020 – should strike us all as deeply suspect. The government’s crippling fear of taking responsibility for this seismic political change means it is desperate to delay in the hope Brexit will never happen – that something, or someone, will intervene.

From the House of Lords to legal chambers, members of the elite are plotting to do just that. We cannot be complacent. We must demand that Article 50 is invoked immediately. But we must not lose sight of the scale of the fight ahead of us. Asspiked has always argued, Brexit is only the first step towards rejuvenating democracy, and dismantling the various anti-democratic institutions and cliques that confront us.

Over the past few weeks, we have seen those shady, anti-democratic schemers step into the light. When Wheatcroft said it was within her gift to overturn the will of the people, she was right. The Lords, like the EU, exists to limit our democratic freedom. So, let’s leave the European Union, that death star of popular sovereignty, for good. And then let’s set about the next challenge: abolishing the House of Lords.

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Politicians must respect democracy, or get out

Politicians must respect democracy, or get out  By Brendan O’Neill, Spiked Online, 2 July

The fallout from last week’s EU referendum has brought one thing in particular into sharp, unforgiving relief: the immaturity of the British political class. I have never been a fan of the politicians and institutions that govern Britain, nor of the media elites and expert cliques that increasingly make up a key plank of the political realm. But even I’ve been shocked at the infantile nature of their response to Brexit. They’ve responded with fear, distress, emotionalism, statements about feeling ‘lost’, and they now run a serious risk of talking Britain into a state of crisis. We now know that we are ruled by a political class that lacks the institutional, intellectual and moral resources to deal with the uncertainty that attends major change.

Listening to politicians and the opinion-forming set, you’d be forgiven for thinking Britain was about to expire, or at least collapse into an historically unprecedented state of irrelevancy and difficulty. The political and media elites are feverishly predicting economic and social disarray, and in the process they threaten to make such things a greater possibility than they otherwise were. There’s been non-stop handwringing over the turmoil in the markets, even though it’s been fairly minor, and even though such panicked chatter could have a real impact on economic matters, primarily through making both domestic and foreign businesses even more reluctant to invest and hire in this nation apparently heading to catastrophe.

Even worse, politicos talk up the dangers of social conflict. They claim there’s been a huge rise in racism in the five days since the referendum. They are in essence scooping together relatively normal and unfortunate instances of low-level prejudice, and cynically systematising them, packaging them up as a post-referendum pogrom. It is a see-through effort to construct a moral panic. Not only is this deceptive, it is also grossly irresponsible, speaking to the irrationalism of their referendum response, since it threatens to convince certain communities they are under threat and to intensify social suspicion. Others, meanwhile, tell us that young people’s futures have been ‘destroyed’ by the referendum result, inducing alarming levels of fatalism and fear among certain constituencies of the young. A Guardian journalist went so far as to suggest that perhaps young people should ‘abandon Britain… a country that clearly hates them’.

The visceral nature of the chattering classes’ response to Brexit is captured in their numerous statements about feeling scared. They speak in the language of the threatened child rather than an in-control class. Britain is ‘in crisis and scared’, says Green MP Caroline Lucas. The headline to a piece by an EU-supporting academic said simply: ‘I’m scared.’ ‘I’m just frightened’, said a columnist for the New Statesman, the supposedly rationalist left magazine. There’s a performative element to these declarations of fear and predictions of crisis. They’re intended to demonstrate the political and media elite’s strength of feeling about the EU. They are elevating their need to advertise their heightened sensitivities, their grief for a cosmopolitan institution they loved, over the more pressing task of rationally grappling with a new reality.

These infantile expressions of personal fear find institutional expression among a political class that has gone into meltdown in response to the result. No one seems capable of taking charge, of confronting reality. Evasion and cowardice are the order of the day. David Cameron has backed off from his promise to swiftly enact the people’s decision; Labour has evaporated as a political force; other political actors agitate against the public call for a Brexit, or hope the momentum behind it will slow. The combination of fear and incapacity that now defines Britain’s political elite was captured in the disturbing, seemingly late-night language used by Labour MP David Lammy: he described the anti-EU vote as ‘madness’ and a ‘nightmare’ and said parliament should override it. Madness, nightmare… it was a stark insight into the minds of the ruling class, not only in terms of their disdain for democracy, but also their immature feeling of crisis and incapacity.

The elite’s disturbed response to the Leave victory is striking for many reasons. First, it rather shatters their claim that it is we the people who respond overemotionally to political matters. In truth, where the electorate calmly and seriously, and in huge numbers, went to polling stations and made their consciences known, it is the political class that has found it difficult, if not impossible, to approach this political reality rationally and honestly. Second, it shows how far the elite has internalised the politics of fear. Their fearmongering, their key political style today, is not some cynical exercise; rather, it speaks to their very real sense of things being out of control and their feeling that they lack the moral or institutional means to deal with things.

Thirdly, and most importantly, their response speaks to the shrivelling of the political realm. It is a consequence of that shrivelling. Having overseen the reduction of politics to technocracy, covering mostly minor matters such as reducing pollution levels or slapping warning labels on foodstuffs, the political class has lost the ability and resourcefulness to handle politics on a larger scale. And make no mistake, that is what the people did last Thursday: took a big, meaningful political decision, which will change Britain and the EU and impact on the global order itself. This will create uncertainty, of course, and be understandably disorientating for an elite wedded to the idea of Britain staying in the EU. And it is clear that our post-political political class, having abandoned politics for merely managing society, is now utterly bereft of the experience or the institutional strength required to confront the uncertainties that can be unleashed by huge political shifts. Lacking political nous, unrooted from society, inexperienced in real change, they respond to Brexit with embarrassing cries of ‘I’m scared’.

Will, they need to grow up. And fast. Of course Remainers will feel bruised by the referendum result. But enough is enough. They have a responsibility, in a democratic society, to engage with majoritarian opinion and to respect its writ (if not its content — that part is up to them). The political class in particular has a responsibility to heed and act on the will of the people. Yet what we have now is something genuinely awful: a situation where our political class, from a combination of internal disarray and anti-democratic sentiment, seems keen to oversee a slow-motion shelving of the idea of Brexit, a fudging of the momentum behind it. There’s a real possibility Brexit won’t happen, and that would be an outrage.

Brexit must happen, and it must happen now. Our political class must invoke Article 50 and set in motion the thing that a majority of the British people want: to leave the EU. More importantly, they must realise — we all must realise — that uncertainty isn’t only something that knocks us for six; it is also an opportunity. Indeed, a crisis isn’t a bad thing: it’s a moment of choice, of clarity. It comes from the Ancient Greek krinein: ‘to separate, decide, judge.’ That’s what we must do now: behave as adults, make judgements, take action. If the people’s vote has brought about a crisis, then it is one bristling with possibility, alive with ideas, packed with opportunities for reimagining the political realm and the role of the people. It’s a wonderful, dynamic moment, and it would be a crime to allow it to be reduced to a downbeat, fearful episode by a political class scared of us and scared of the future.

For us at spiked, the post-referendum moment represents a chance to remake the case for a truly radical democratic politics, which eschews both the elite’s tendency to hide behind detached cosmopolitan institutions and the right’s preference for a mean-spirited nationalism, and instead says: trust the people, engage with them, and make the case for a new era of democracy and freedom that might just sweep away the scared political pygmies that currently govern us.

Brendan O’Neill is editor of spiked.

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Brexit, and the Social Crisis Behind It

Brexit, and the Social Crisis Behind It  By George Freidman, via Mauldin Economics, 30 June 2016

In looking at Friday’s market decline, it is clear that the investment community was surprised at the outcome of the referendum in the U.K. What is most surprising is that they were surprised. There were two competing views of the EU. One view regarded the European Union as essential to British economic well-being. The other saw the European Union as a failing institution, and saw Britain being pulled down if it remained.

The European Union has been caught in long-term stagnation. Eight years after the financial crisis it is still unable to break out of it. In addition, a large swath of Europe, especially in the south, is in depression with extremely high unemployment numbers. An argument could be made that these problems will be solved in the long run and that Britain should be part of the solution for its own sake. The counterargument is that if the problems had been soluble they would have been solved years ago.

For a financial community, there is a built-in desire for predictability. It can make money in good or bad markets and economies. It has trouble making money in uncertainty. Therefore, the financial community was inherently biased toward Britain remaining in the EU because it gave them predictability. There was a subconscious assumption that everyone had the same bias toward maintaining the status quo. This was not just the view of the global financial community. It was one shared with other elites – political, journalistic, academic and the rest.

Someone I know, who has many friends in Britain, told me that she didn’t know anyone who favored a British exit. That was true. As the graduate of an elite college she is in touch with similar people around the world. This enclosure has profound social indications to consider, but in this case it created a psychological barrier to anticipating what was coming. When everyone you know thinks an idea is rubbish, it is hard to imagine that there is a majority out there that you haven’t met that doesn’t share your views.

There was also a sense of contempt for the opponents. The leaders, like UKIP leader Nigel Farage, were odd from the elite point of view. Their rhetoric was unseemly. And their followers by and large did not come from the places in London where the elite did. Their views were not the liberal, transnational views of the supporters of the EU. They led much narrower, harder lives and did not know the world as the pro-EU people did. So they were discounted. There was an expectation that the elite, who had governed Britain for so long, were dealing with an annoyance, rather than a peaceful rising against them. Thus, in spite of the polls indicating the election would be extremely close, the “remain” supporters could not believe they would lose.

The reporters of leading British media were talking to their European and American counterparts. The politicians were doing the same. And the financial community is on the phone daily with colleagues around the world. The challenge that was posed in the U.K. referendum is present in many countries around the world, albeit in different forms. What has become universal is the dismissive attitudes of the elite to their challengers. It is difficult for the elite to take seriously that the less educated, the less sophisticated and the less successful would take control of the situation. The French Bourbons and the Russian Romanovs had similar contempt for the crowds in the streets. They dismissed their lack of understanding and inability to act – right to the moment they burst into the palaces.

The analogy should not be overdone but also should not be dismissed. The distance between what I will call the technocratic elite and the increasingly displaced lower-middle and even middle class is becoming one of the major characteristics of our time. This elite did not expect “leave” to win because it was clear to them that the EU would work itself out. They didn’t know anyone who disagreed with them – a measure of how far out of touch they had become with the real world. And above all, they were dismissive of the kind of people who led their opponents.

Not understanding their own isolation and insularity; not grasping the different world view of “leave” supporters or that they couldn’t care less if the financial institutions of the City moved to Frankfurt; not grasping the contempt in which they were held by so many, the elite believed that “leave” could not win. Hence, they were surprised in spite of the fact that others, including myself in my book “Flashpoints: The Coming Crisis in Europe,” had noted all of these trends.

In the end, the financial decline on Friday resulted from the lack of imagination of the elite. And it is that lack of imagination that led them to believe that the current situation could continue. That lack of imagination, the fact that the elite had no idea of what was happening beyond their circle of acquaintances, is a far greater crisis in the West than whether Britain is in the EU or even if the EU survives. We are living in a social divide so deep that serious people of good will and a certain class have never met anyone who wants to leave the EU or who supports blocking Muslim immigration or perhaps even who will vote for Donald Trump.

A democratic society cannot survive this divide. It occurred in the United States in the Great Depression, but was smashed by World War II when the young soldiers of all classes discovered that their lives depended on each other and social class meant nothing when the artillery opened up. The moderation of the post-war period had much to do with this experience.

Of course, World War II was unique and hardly the solution to a social problem. Nevertheless, something dramatic needs to happen. It will, as the situation becomes increasingly untenable. In the end, the palace doors may be kicked in. Hopefully, it will be done more politely and without the viciousness of the falls of the Bourbons and Romanovs.

No one had the right to believe that this couldn’t happen. No one should believe that it will be confined to Britain. No one should believe that it won’t happen again. The days when the elite could assert that the EU is going to be just fine in the face of evidence to the contrary are over.

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More articles concerning Brexit and implications

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Environmentalism: the good, and the green propaganda

The modern environmental, or ‘green’, movement has shifted from overt care for the environment towards activist and economic damage, self-serving agendas and covert promotion of more sinister agendas.    

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Young Heads Filled With Green Mush

Young Heads Filled With Green Mush  By Tony Thomas, Quadrant Online, 3 August 2016

Imagine being a pro-coal activist — or a climate sceptic, for that matter — and enjoying open access to Australia’s schools. Inconceivable, right? But if you’re pushing Oxfam’s green myths and downright lies, there is a welcome mat outside very nearly every classroom.

Officially-encouraged child abuse involves greens’ lobbyists brainwashing primary and secondary-school kids. A leading lobbyist is Oxfam Australia, gearing up for  a renewed assault this month on our idealistic and gullible schoolchildren.

Oxfam this Term 4 is pushing “Hunger Banquets for kids — “a fun, eye-opening (and mouth-watering!) interactive and experiential learning event centred on the issue of global hunger: and particularly food insecurity resulting from climate change.”[1]  Principals, teachers and their unions have put out the welcome mat[2]  for Oxfam’s zealots and their green-drenched propaganda.[3]  As Oxfam says, “The Hunger Banquets project is mapped to the Australian Curriculum (AC) cross-curricular priority of Sustainability. It is also accompanied by a whole heap of classroom resources, linked to AC Geography Yr 9, AC English Yrs 7-10, and AC Health.”

Oxfam Australia, the  $110 million local arm of the global $A1.5 billion international charity behemoth, will “help you [teachers] bring social justice into the classroom.”

“Social justice”  includes  Oxfam exhorting kids’ pocket money into its  own coffers:

“Hunger Banquet money box: Download our moneybox template if you’re asking Hunger Banquet participants for a gold coin donation or raising money for Oxfam’s work in other ways. Handy tip: Sticking your printout onto a manila folder or old cereal box will make your moneybox more sturdy.”

It matters not that half our kids’ parents are conservative voters. There is no push-back from conservative politicians: parents have to suck it up. Moreover, Oxfam is hardly the sole green-left-socialist indoctrinator with entrée to classrooms. Come on in, Greenpeace, plus the Australian Conservation Foundation,  Youth Climate Coalition, GetUp, teams of Al Gore’s indoctrinators, theAustralian Academy of Science, World Wildlife Fund, Cool Australia– each and every one promoting and cross-promoting[4] students with activist urgings. I asked a Liberal Party tactician what the party could do about all the brainwashed future greens voters emerging from high schools, and he said he had no idea.

Oxfam also  throws its weight behind the cross-gender-promoting and Marxist-inspired Safe Schools indoctrination, mandated in Victoria by CFMEUpuppet premier, Dan Andrews. Oxfam says,

We are proud to stand in solidarity with, and state our support for, Safe Schools Coalition Australia … as an ally in working towards a world that is more just, peaceful, harmonious and fair.”

No kid is too young to escape the Oxfam net. Oxfam wants to saturate schools at class-, year- and whole-of-school level, pegging “hunger banquets” in particular to World Food Day , October 16.[5]Oxfam’s Hunger Banquets involve kids sorting themselves into high, medium and low-income groups, corresponding to global regions. Most kids get only a cup of rice and water for the lunch, but the small group of First Worlders win a tummy-filling three courses that includes Italian pasta. Point made. Except that the point is a bucketful of Oxfam bull faeces: “Hungry for a fair climate? Climate change is the single biggest threat in the global fight against hunger.”

The reality is that over the past 50 years of sharply rising CO2, the extra produce grown by farmers runs to roughly $US274 billion for wheat, $US182 billion for maize and $US579 billion for rice. The current value of the carbon dioxide fertilisation effect on all crops is about $140 billion a year. The proportion of yield increases due to CO2 increase is estimated at 51% for cotton, 15% for soybeans, 17% for wheat, and 9% for corn. (Goklany, p19).

Once kids are suitably conditioned by Oxfam’s heart-wrenching videos and dodgy “science”, the charity steers  them towards directing email blitzes at local and senior politicians, plus us groupthink nostrums to “make this world hunger-free” and prevent governments and big businesses allowing climate change “to destroy the world we love”.

Oxfam exhorts kids to

  1. Email our political leaders telling them you’re looking for someone to step up and lead Australia on climate change.
  2. Get local for climate action! Get your friends together and visit your local Federal MP to talk climate.
  3. Join one of our local climate action teams.

Oxfam ramped up its anti-government campaigning among youngsters during the 2016 federal election campaign. Here’s a few Oxfam samples:

  • “The Australian Government has been shirking responsibility and acting in the interests of the big dirty polluters.”
  • “Our government is still failing the climate leadership test.”
  • “But while the energy revolution gathers pace, the Australian Government remains stuck down the deep, dark coal mine of the past…Captured by an ailing coal industry and urged on by conservative commentators, our government has delivered a series of bizarre and misleading pronouncements about the future of coal.”
  • “Dirty polluting companies are causing climate change to worsen, poisoning our clean air, and threatening our food, water and health.”

Earlier, it directed students to its “Take Action” page (link now obsolete):

“Tell the PM [Abbott at the time] to be the Australian leader we need. Demand he goes to New York and commits in person to the new UN ?#?Global Goals for Sustainable Development.”

Take Action also says, below a caricature of Abbott holding an umbrella against a cyclone, and alongside a political petition (sorry, another obsolete link):

“So far, the Abbott Government has absolutely failed the climate leadership test. Email our political leaders now. Tell them you’re searching for someone to step up and lead Australia on climate..

Tell them that Australians want a bold and visionary government that’s prepared to make the right choice. For everyone, not just for polluting vested interests. Take action now!”

Oxfam Australia spends about $4.5 million a year on pushing green political causes and other“public policy and education programs”, including $2 million for “community education”. This propaganda include shutting down Australia’s coal industry and keeping cheap electricity out of reach of the Third World’s poor. The Department of Foreign  Affairs and Trade doled out $29 million in taxpayer funds to Oxfam Australia last year (30% of Oxfam’s revenue), apparently unaware of Oxfam’s mission to kill our $40 billion a year coal-export industry.

Oxfam  International’s plan for 2013-19, integrating the 17 national bodies, tilts the charity’s humanitarian work even more towards political agitation:

“The proposed ‘worldwide influencing network’ aims to drive our shared agenda more powerfully within the broader global movement for change…. It marks a trend towards working more on influencing authorities and the powerful, and less on delivering the services for which duty-bearers are responsible.”    

Oxfam’s tax-exempt charity status requires it to be politically non-partisan. Rabidly anti-conservative Greenpeace in Canada was defrocked of its tax-exempt status by the Tax Office in 1989, partly because its timber-mill closing campaigns could drive people into poverty.[6] In New Zealand, the High Court in 2011 upheld Greenpeace’s 2010 loss of tax-exempt status, because of too great an involvement in politics and illegal activities, making charity work just a fringe activity. In the UK, Oxfam itself was warned by the Charities Commission about partisan political fusillades against the Conservative government’s austerity drive.[7] UK law requires tax-exempt charities to “remain neutral and should consider working with other parties to help ensure public perceptions of neutrality”. One Tory MP added, “This judgement should make all charities think very carefully about how the use the very generous donations by people when they are in ‘campaign mode’, rather than ‘poverty alleviation mode’.”

As if Oxfam Australia would ever give equal time to representatives of Australia’s 50% conservative-voting public. Indeed, its urgings of kids and others to do green-oriented email blitzes of politicians in the federal election run-up was cut from the same cloth that “appalled” Tory MPs in Westminster.

Our Charities Commission guidelines for tax-exempt status have grey areas in terms of permissible activism. They say that “promoting or opposing a political party or a candidate for political office”cannot be charitable (my emphasis), but that charities can still distribute information or engage in debate about the policies of political parties or candidates, “where these activities must be ways of achieving their charitable purposes.” It also lists a string of motherhood-style legitimate purposes, such as health and environmentalism, but adds, “If your organisation has non-charitable purposes and these do not further its charitable purposes, your organisation is unlikely to be registered as a charity.”  In the recent election’s run-up the charities commissioner further defined legitimate advocacy, in did so in ways that suggest, certainly to me, to me that Oxfam’s anti-government rhetoric is borderline illegitimate. Why not let the ATO decide?

India’s federal government of Narendra Modi a year ago deregistered Greenpeace’s 300-staff operation and froze its bank accounts, accusing Greenpeace of sabotaging India’s power development. The courts overturned the ban in an ongoing saga that includes Modi’s de-funding of 9000 other charities.  

In Australia, Oxfam’s schools campaigning is financed largely by donations from citizens who imagine the priorities, and their financial gidfs, are prioritised at ending the world’s hunger and want.[8] In fact, one in three Oxfam dollars   leaks to fund-raising (20%)  and administration (11%). At the top, CEO Helen Szoke was on a tax-concessioned $237,000 last year, significantly more than UK counterpart Mark Goldring ($A218,000 equivalent), who runs a six-times better-funded Oxfam organisation — $A700 million vs $A110m.  (As a contrast to Oxfam Australia, the $US950 millionRotary Foundation charity has only an 3.5% admin costs and 7.3%  fund-raising expenses, a leakage of only 11% from aid funds).

Apart from the government, our naïve banks and their staff have supported Oxfam only to get Oxfam’s smack in the face. ANZ for example put in $180,000 in 2012.  Westpac in the three years to 2012 was a massive Oxfam donor, including $250,000 in 2011 for Pakistan flood relief. Soon after, Oxfam was accusing them of  “backing companies that are kicking people off their land, destroying lives and leaving people homeless and hungry.” [9] The banks   by now  may have learnt not to finance their political foes.

Oxfam knows the world’s poor need more coal-fired electricity. As Federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan put it this week, coal is  a critical energy source for developing countries that want to lift their people out of poverty: “If [Third Worlders] decide that the best way to improve the lives of their people is to build coal-fired power stations and provide cheap electricity, I don’t think we’re in a position to deny them that right.”

Oxfam’s international parent concedes the impact of its assault on the Third World’s poor:

“Poorer developing countries …will inevitably have to move [develop] more slowly, especially as fossil fuels can play an important role in immediate social and economic needs…Rich nations should support them with public funds.” (My emphasis).

Curiously, Oxfam Australia board member Ann Byrne is a member of the Compliance Committee of BlackRock Investment Management Australia Ltd. The US parent, according to The Guardian a year ago, led the list of asset management companies investing in top-50 listed coal companies ($US24.6 billion worth).  BlackRock’s strategy was to go contrarian and  invest in  “beaten- up natural resources equities as a hedge if US dollar strength fades.” A naughty interpretation is that the green alliance (including Oxfam) beats down the coal industry. Meanwhile, BlackRock invests to cash in on the low coal  prices.

Oxfam actually thinks stopping climate change, i.e. global warming, is the world’s number one priority for ending global hunger  (much as President Obama thinks climate change is higher priority than ISIS terror.[10] ). Mains electricity, clean water and disease control, fertilizer, education, cheap two-way freight, land and investment security, open markets, women’s equality, freedom from official corruption — these are also-rans in the Oxfam narrative.

Of course, boosting food production requires the expansion of cheap coal-based electric power. Oxfam instead proffers  costly and unreliable solar and wind. These power sources have alreadydemonstrated their ability to wreck the South Australian economy, let alone the prospects of third-world peasants in grass huts.

Oxfam’s agenda is a 65% cut in Australian emissions below 2000 levels by 2030, and an economy-bankrupting zero-emissions target (including a 90% coal cut) well before 2050. Australia, Oxfam tells kids, must hand over $1.6 billion a year to Third World kleptocrats and UN corruptocrats as part of the first world’s $100 billion-a-year compensation for our past climatic vandalism.

Believe Oxfam and global warming is already devastating the land. “The warning bells are deafening. Take action now!” Oxfam says. “Smaller harvests mean farmers can’t feed their families or make a living. Even in Australia, climate change has affected the large-scale production of crops like wheat.” Pardon me, Oxfam, but don’t make stuff up. Australian wheat tonnages in the past decade have been around 24 million tonnes a year, far above the average of 1960-2000. (In the 1960s output was only  7-12 million tonnes).

“Climate change is already taking a heavy toll on poorer communities around the world,” says Oxfam, oddly since global warming has involved a mere 0.8degC in the past 100 years, a wholly beneficial emergence from the previous Little Ice Age to 1850. Global fertilisation by  increased CO2 has boosted plant growth by an area equal to twice continental USA, greening the deserts, according to new satellite recordings.

Never letting a catastrophe go to waste, Oxfam’s Helen Szoke presents that Cyclone Pam, which hit Vanuatu in 2015, was one of  climate change’s ‘devastating impacts’.

What we can see here is the massive impact of climate change, erosion of sea into what was once land, the impact of the cyclone on areas of this village that are still to be cleared. Why should Vanuatans have to bear the brunt of climate change? Let’s do something and actually make a difference  so climate change doesn’t continue to keep people in poverty and ruin their beautiful communities.”

The tide gauge at Port Vila has data for only 21 years, and this shows 25mm of sea rise, or a totally unalarming rate of 12cm (5 inches) per century, less than, say, Fremantle  1897-2010 (15.4cm or 6in). Szoke is making stuff up about these so-called “drowning islands”.[11]

I happened to be off a tourist boat in Vanuatu two year ago, pre-Cyclone Pam, and villagers showed us how, for generations, they have sheltered from similar cyclones inside the base of giant trees.

Similarly, Szoke denies the IPCC science that global warming does not cause extreme weather. The IPCC’s 2012 special report said warming may actually reduce extreme weather in the next 20-30 years.[12]

But Oxfam propaganda runs:

It’s not just the average temperature that is rising. [Satellites show insignificant atmospheric warming for almost two decades, and last year’s El Nino warm spike is reversing with startling rapidity]. With more heat and energy in the atmosphere and oceans, our weather is becoming more extreme and unpredictable. [As if weather was ever predictable, and extreme weather such as US land-falling cyclones have been on a decade-long low trend].

As leading satellite-monitoring scientist Dr Roy Spencer puts it, “There are no obvious changes in global hurricane activity,  heat waves, or droughts, and no decrease in snow cover.”  [13]

Oxfam shamelessly shoves at kids its music-enhanced videos of naïve Third World peasants parroting catastrophism. The kids feel the outrage, just as intended. For example, Oxfam quotes a struggling South African woman plot-tiller, a certain Yvette Abrahams, to push the worst-case IPCC scenario, which in her case will allegedly mean her tribal lands will get 4-6 degrees hotter. (The IPCC was actually talking year 2100).

“My family is meeting to discuss moving. We cannot stay… there will be nothing to feed our livestock soon. So the little [land] that we have managed to preserve through slavery, genocide, colonialism and apartheid, we are about to lose to climate change.”

Oxfam bleats that climate change will starve an extra 50 million people in 2050, with rising seas flooding another one  billion. In 2009 Oxfam was fibbing to Melburnians via billboards near Flinders Street Station that climate change was creating 50 million climate refugees. By mid-2016 the actual claimants to official climate refugee status total one – Mr Ioane Teitiota from Kiribati, whose claims were debunked by the NZ courts and who was later exposed for domestic violence and assaults.[14]

I have no problem with snake-oil vendors revving up teenagers outside of school gates. That’s democracy. But allowing them to proselytise uncontradicted from state classroom podiums is a travesty of education.[15] Would reps from the Coal Association or the Institute of Public Affairs be equally welcome to harangue primary grades? (That’s a rhetorical question). Some say the horse has already bolted. As one blogger wrote to JoNova last year:

I am somewhat despairing about what my grandchildren are reporting from school. Their talk is all about the horrors of European and English culture, about how we are destroying the earth through the climate and CO2, how we are to blame and it’s all about white privilege. When I attempt to counter some of it I get a disdainful, “the teachers wouldn’t be allowed to teach it if it wasn’t true.”

Kids might be more suspicious if they realised that teacher inflows now include the barely-literate and barely-numerate dregs of the tertiary cohorts. Of students with below-50 ATAR tertiary-admissions ranking[16] and entering primary and secondary education degrees, the proportion has almost doubled from 7.3% in 2013 to 14.3% in 2016. The Australian Council for Educational Research, blaming cash-cow-seeking university policies, says almost everyone who applies finds a place in a teacher education program.

Some rationalists despair that a mix of pro-and-con lobbyists to schools is now feasible. Instead, children should be taught logic, scientific method and the ability to see through propaganda from all areas of the spectrum. Given teacher standards, this may be whistling in the wind.

Hat-tips: Dennis Ambler, John McLean for help. My previous pieces on Oxfam are herehere andhere.

Tony Thomas’s new book That’s Debatable – 60 Years in Print, is available from  Connor Court

[1] Email to local registrants, Looking for an engaging simulation activity? 25/7/16.

[2]  The other two cross-curriculum Trojan horses for Left propaganda are “Indigenes” and “Asia”.

[3] The 2013-14 Oxfam Australia annual report says more than 20,000 teachers used Oxfam resources to teach 100,000 students. And more than 6800 students in high schools and universities took part in 40 Oxfam workshops to help them become discussion leaders among their peers.

[4]  Oxfam: “You can send student leaders to the fantastic Australian Youth Climate Council Summit, 17-18 August, Trades Hall in Melbourne.”

[5] These “hunger banquets” date back to  Hollywood in 1991, when Dustin Hoffman, Whoopi Goldberg, Mel Gibson,  Desmond Tutu et al skipped a meal.

[6] Revenue Canada’s charities division says that the Greenpeace Environmental Foundation can’t be considered a charity because its activities “have no public benefit.”

[7] Oxfam UK had close personnel links with high-ranking Labor figures. The tragically murdered Labor MP Jo Cox  was earlier an Oxfam head of policy.

[8] Oxfam’s third-party fund-raisers cream off 90% or so from the first year of  someone’s annual public donation.

[9] The Youth Climate Coalition smacked down its big-bank donors by campaigning against them on behalf of Bendigo Bank,  which doesn’t lend to coal producers.

[10] Oxfam’s GROW campaign “identifies limiting climate change as the world’s number one priority if we are to end global hunger.”

[11] Szoke was previously Federal Race Discrimination Commissioner and Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner

[12] “ Projected changes in climate extremes under different emissions scenarios generally do not strongly diverge in the coming two to three decades, but these signals are relatively small compared to natural climate variability over this time frame. Even the sign of projected changes in some climate extremes over this time frame is uncertain. For projected changes by the end of the 21st century, either model uncertainty or uncertainties associated with emissions scenarios used becomes dominant, depending on the extreme.” P22-23

[13] A Guide to Understanding Global Temperature Data, July 2016. P21

[14] Oxfam Australia also claimed in 2009 that climate crises would harm 375m people by 2015, “threatening to overwhelm the world’s ability to respond”. Anyone notices these 375m?

[15] Meanwhile, NAPLAN literacy and numeracy levels in our schools stagnate

[16]  Out of 100,  the average ATAR rank is 70.  Some student teachers are being admitted with scores of 30.

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Brexit threatens Climate Gravy train – time for Clexit

Brexit threatens Climate Gravy train – time for Clexit  By Jo Nova, joannenova.com.au/, 3 August 2016

Brexit was seismic. Even Nature can see the threat — The UK was big promoter of Climate witchcraft, but it’s gone now:

Brexit might be an excuse for some EU countries to withhold their signature,” says Oliver Geden, head of the EU Research Division at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin.   Before the Paris talks, the EU had pledged to cut its greenhouse-gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030, relative to 1990 levels.

“The UK not being part of the negotiating mix means there is likely to be less pressure for ambitious targets and ensuring that the EU delivers on its Paris agreement commitments,” says Martin Nesbit, a policy expert at the Institute for European Environmental Policy in London.

But don’t relax, the Clexit movement is needed more than ever

Czech President Dr. Václav Klaus recognises this, and he Monckton, Morano, I and many others from 60 countries have joined the new Clexit movement started by Viv Forbes. Check it out. Brexit gave us a big advantage but we must press it home.

There are lots of reasons Paris may still succeed

The Paris agreement may appear to be struggling with just 22 tin-pot countries (sorry Norway) and 1% of man-made emissions signed up, but watch the pea. We all know if the emissions cuts were supposed to be same for every nation it would never get off the ground, but like the Paris UN convention, it’s all theater – the signing of the “agreement” was just for show. And many ratifications can be too. Not for the West, but for countries like India, China, or Russia — they can ratify their weak promises to do almost nothing. If they do, they will bring their 4%, 20% and 7% of human emissions under the Paris agreement umbrella which will cost those countries little, but be a major PR victory for the UN. It would inflict real pain on the Western nations stupid enough to sign and ratify, but most of the rest of the world would be agreeing to nothing much, and benefiting from competing with a hobbled West. Let’s shut down a few more factories in Birmingham, Adelaide or Austin.

China, India and Russia want to be bought off by the UN. View their protests now as a part of their negotiating ploys to wring more Pork. Few developing countries face much electoral backlash, and all of them have something to gain from the Climate Gravy Train. China, especially, has been getting rich on carbon credits for dams it was going to build, and factories that it made dirty just to get the credits for cleaning up.  And there are other non-climate playing cards that any of these countries could be bought off for — consider India, which says it will delay signing the deal, but really wants to get membership to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) saying: “An early positive decision by the NSG would have allowed us to move forward on the Paris Agreement.”

In other words with a big pot of UN pork up for grabs, the thing stopping the “ratification” of expensive energy and the collective hair-shirt of The West are western voters, specifically, US voters. If Hillary wins the only thing stopping the agreement will be the US congress.

The Paris climate deal is about politics and power, not the weather

The point of the Paris agreement is not to change world temperatures, or even to cut emissions of CO2, it’s to prop up the Green Industrial Complex of renewable-energy (worth $300b plus just in the EU), and the $2 Trillion global carbon trading schemes that financial houses stand to profit from. If the UN cared about CO2 emissions we all know they would choose the most cost effective way to reduce them (super critical coal, nuclear power, and programs like Direct Action which cost a mere $14/ton in reduction as opposed to the $50 – $120 per ton that wind “farms” cost.

If Greens cared about the environment they would care that carbon credits don’t cut carbon emissions, that no one counts emissions properly, and that corruption is rife. Everything about this is deceptive. The Paris Agreement is a treaty, even though it is not called one. It’s called “non-binding”, though it could bind real costs, but that was also important, so Obama (or Hillary) can ratify it without taking to to Congress.

Check out Clexit.

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Golden rice, the miracle crop Greenpeace hates

Golden rice, the miracle crop Greenpeace hates  By George Harrison, Spiked Online, 23 July 2016

Rice is the staple food of over 3.5 billion people, most of whom live in the poorest parts of the world. But the world’s staple does come with one major drawback. Despite being loaded with other nutrients, rice is naturally lacking in vitamin A.

The Lancet estimates that, every year, around 670,000 children under the age of five die as a result of vitamin-A deficiency. Imagine, then, the development potential of a genetically modified, mass-market strain of rice that is packed with all the typical nutrients you’d expect, but which also comes loaded with vitamin A.

Golden Rice is such a crop, and it’s the genetically modified organism (GMO) the South has been waiting for. Unfortunately, certain groups are agitating against Golden Rice over claims it is dangerous – despite it having passed every test and safety check it has ever faced. This resistance is largely thanks to environmental organisations like Greenpeace, who have spent decades campaigning relentlessly against GMOs on the basis of unfounded health concerns.

This is despite the fact that GM foodstuffs are commonplace in the US, where the crops are needed far less than they are in the poorest parts of the world. Yet Greenpeace continues to wage war on these revolutionary new foodstuffs, batting away study after study that emerges in defence of GMOs like Golden Rice.

Greenpeace has become so blindly dogmatic in its approach that, late last month, 110 Nobel Laureates signed an open letter condemning its rejection of GMOs. The signatories, who account for one third of living Nobel laureates, went so far as to suggest that Greenpeace’s demonisation of perfectly healthy GMOs, particularly Golden Rice, is akin to a ‘crime against humanity’. They estimate that many of the two million annual deaths attributed to vitamin-A deficiency could be prevented by Golden Rice.

In its response, Greenpeace claimed that its opposition to Golden Rice is down to the failure of manufacturers to produce it cheaply and plentifully. This is a bit rich, considering obstructions by environmentalists has made production of Golden Rice difficult. In 2013, green activists destroyed trial plots of Golden Rice in the Philippines – setting its development back by years.

Perhaps eco-alarmists genuinely believe, in their own paternalistic way, that they are helping the global poor by restricting their access to these new crops. However, their dogmatic resistance to scientific progress is doing more damage than all the GMOs in the world ever could.

Greenpeace should consider looking at the facts. Throughout the history of their existence, nobody has died as a result of eating GMOs. Countless lives have certainly been lost in that time, however, and many development opportunities have been stifled, thanks to hunger.

It’s time organisations like Greenpeace ended their ingrained opposition to Golden Rice and other GM crops. It’s time we all embraced the life-changing potential of such crops.

George Harrison is a writer based in London.

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A fantasy green-tech future

A fantasy green-tech future  By Nick Cater, The Australian, 19 July 2016

It’s a little early to pass judgement on Britain’s new Prime Minister, but when The Independent newspaper’s resident tree-hugger ­accuses her of making “a historic blunder of global proportions” one senses she is on the right track.

Hours after taking office, Theresa May abolished the Department of Energy and Climate Change, a behemoth created by Labour’s Gordon Brown in 2008 in the mistaken belief that the first step towards solving any problem is to set up a stonking great ­bureaucracy. Environment correspondent Ian Johnston denounced the PM’s heretical action; it was proof, if proof were needed, that May was “not remotely bothered about global warming”.

May’s stupidity was compounded, in the view of the British cosmopolitan establishment, by the appointment of Boris Johnson as Foreign Minister. The list of supposed blunders that makes Johnson unsuitable envoy ­material includes climate scepticism and expressing support for ­Israel during a visit to the Palestinian territories.

Johnson’s appointment was “an embarrassing decision of epic proportions”, The Independent’s Kevin Maxwell thundered. “May has … undermined Britain’s international presence and status, and made us a global laughing-stock.”

The fear of relegation to global laughing-stock status troubles commentators on the Left in the way their counterparts on the Right fret about retaining a triple-A credit rating. One is a measure of sovereign economic risk; the other measures the risk of political correctness and the seriousness with which leaders observe the pieties of the day.

The elevation of politicians such as May and Johnson who challenge conventional wisdom is a refreshing moment for British politics. Slavish obedience to the “experts” on climate change has cost Britain and its citizens dearly.

It is a measure of the perverseness of climate change dogma that May’s promise to restore cheap and reliable energy is viewed as subversive. Britain outside the EU will succeed or fail on its international competitiveness. The price of electricity, an indispensable input in any business, could determine whether the country tanks or prospers.

Which brings us to the sorry state of South Australia, where the consequences of a strange and contradictory energy policy have recently become apparent.

Two years ago, Jay Weatherill announced the government would increase its renewable energy target to 50 per cent by 2025. This would ­“create jobs and drive capital ­investment and advanced manufacturing industries”, the Premier promised.

The success of this policy, like virtually every other plan to boost South Australia’s mendicant economy, would naturally rely on a substantial subsidy from the commonwealth, in this case the renewable energy target scheme that was then under review.

Well, the RET stayed in place, with some adjustments, but the thousands of jobs Weatherill promised failed to materialise. Unemployment runs at 7 per cent, well above the national average.

Not only that, but some of South Australia’s largest employers, including BHP Billiton, Arrium and Nyrstar, are warning of shutdowns after the closure of the coal-fired Port Augusta power stations this year created instability in supply. Will the state government take responsibility for its over-investment in fitful wind generators? Not a bit of it.

This, once again, is the commonwealth’s fault, “another example of the failure of the so-called national energy market”, claims Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis, who is counting on brown-tinged power from less enlightened states to keep the South Australian economy turning.

Labor’s mirage of green jobs and prosperity is one of the cruellest hoaxes perpetrated on an Australian electorate since settlement. It was the excuse used in December for Weatherill and his bloated entourage to run up a $13,000 bill at the W Paris-Opera hotel while attending the COP 21 Climate Change Conference.

If South Australia’s transformation to a windmill-powered economy were working, why would we need to prop up an inefficient steel plant in Whyalla? If the cost of renewable generation acts as a de facto carbon tax, forcing energy guzzlers such as Arrium to shut up shop, shouldn’t the state government be celebrating a job well done instead of pleading for another subsidy?

The Weatherill government is not alone in struggling with the contradictions of a decarbonising economy. The poor, we are told, suffer most from climate change and so have most to gain from mitigation. Yet in practice the redistributive effect works the other way; mitigation punishes the poor while the wealthy jump on board the gravy train of subsidies and sinecures.

In Britain, where electricity ­prices have doubled in the past 10 years, the number of “fuel poor” households has risen to 2.3 million, according to the government’s Fuel Poverty Advisory Group. ­Bureaucrats and politicians talk earnestly of “closing the fuel poverty gap”, but the two most obvious solutions, cheaper energy and higher pay supported by productivity, are overlooked in favour of welfare. At last count, the winter fuel payment, cold weather payment and warm homes discount schemes cost the Exchequer about £2.6 billion ($4.5bn) a year.

A decade after Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth made global warming cool, it is time to take stock of the consequences. A return to industry intervention driven by moral panic has exacted a high price on European economies and, to a lesser extent, Australia. In response to the exhortations of sainted experts such as Britain’s Nicholas Stern, governments reversed the trend towards lighter regulation and the privatisation of utilities to impose a degree of central planning unheralded since World War II. We have witnessed the return of targets and plans, buttressed by an illiberal disdain for real people who are regarded as wasteful energy consumers whose behaviour needs correcting.

Re-engineering the energy base of the entire global economy was an audacious ambition; technocrats underestimated the size of the task and over-estimated the potency of government, as technocrats are prone to do.

In South Australia the tragedy is being enacted in miniature. The government boasts of fantasy jobs and a fantasy green-tech future while pleading with the owners of the Pelican Point power station to take their gas-fired turbines out of mothballs. And the technocratic pixies who created this mess blame everyone but themselves.

Nick Cater is executive director of the Menzies Research Centre.

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Links to previous articles

 

Posted in Environmental battles | 1 Comment

The Rise and Fall of the EU

European countries ruled the world for centuries.  Since WWII the fall from grace has accelerated.  Now it remains to be seen how Britain’s EU exit pans out.

EU – “adopt the brace position”

EU, adopt the brace position  By Charles Gave, Chairman, Gavekal, August 3, 2016

In A Study of History the great Arnold Toynbee explained that the role of “elites” in any society is to handle challenges that allow the group to survive and move on to the next phase of their shared journey. If bad solutions are offered up then problems will intensify and pressure will arise for a change in the elite. This can happen in various ways: through elections in a best case scenario, a change of regime as with France’s forth Republic which failed to properly handle decolonization, a collapse in the political structure such as befell the Austrian empire at the end of WWI, or, most dramatically, the overthrow of a civilization as in South America with the arrival of the Spaniards or in Egypt when the Muslims took over.

In Europe, the main problem for a century or more was the internecine rivalry between Germany and France which led to three wars that became progressively more destructive. By the time Europe’s exhausted elites reached 1945, it was obvious that war was not going to solve anything and hence a new solution was tried in the shape of “political” Europe. The plan worked to such an extent that new challenges were spawned such as the handling of Germany’s reunification, managing the effects of an aging population and integrating lots of immigrants from a genuinely different civilization.

New problems, old solutions

These new challenges required new solutions, and yet the elites responded with solutions used to handle the previous challenge, with the forced integration of Europe into a single political and economic construct. Unsurprisingly, the old solutions have not worked and indeed their application is making Europe’s various problems worse. The interesting thing is that members of the elite are starting to openly admit this:

  • Mervyn King, the former governor of the Bank of England, wrote in his recent book The End of Alchemy that European leaders pushed for the adoption of the euro as a single currency knowing that it would cause an economic disaster in Southern Europe. The idea was that the impact of weakened economies would force national politicians to accept “reforms” imposed by Brussels. Put simply, Lord King argues that these elites consciously organized a huge decline in living standards in the expectation that it would undermine the legitimacy of local politicians. The problem is that most regular people (rightly) believe that their state is the best guarantor of their society being able to “live together”, which is the basic contract binding a nation.
  • Last week the International Monetary Fund’s independent watchdog offered a scathing assessment of the agency’s handling of the eurozone crisis with the allegation that staffers willfully ignored fatal flaws in the euro project due to an emotional attachment. It became a totem of IMF thinking that in a common payment area, there could not be a solvency crisis. Moreover, the “solutions” imposed on Greece hurt the most vulnerable part of society, causing a collapse in living standards. In an indictment of the IMF’s competence, its assessments (forecasts) about the impact its policies would have on the Greek economy were shown to border on the ridiculous. To boot, the processes followed by IMF staff were shown to be unprofessional with decisions being taken without proper discussion and documentation.

Our “experts” (the brilliant men of Davos) have thus been shown to protect their own particular tribal interests, rather than the common good. These testimonies are part of a revelatory exercise in Europe which must accelerate a collapse in the legitimacy of both know-better technocrats and the trans-national institutions, which have been all over the European project since 2011 with such deleterious effects. As such, not only the IMF but the European Commission and the European Central Bank have all seen their credibility decimated.

The really worrying thing with these demonstrably incompetent institutions is their continued power grab without any proper authority. Such hubris has seen them break pretty much every agreed rule of national economic management that existed prior to the crisis (it seems a quaint detail now that the ECB was not supposed to buy government bonds) in a bid to sustain a project which is manifestly pushing European economies toward a disaster. So where does this leave us?

Historically, when an unelected “mafia” has seized control of the political domain, the two remedial options available to the citizenry have been elections, and failing that a revolution. As usual, the British moved first— through an election (England’s last revolution was in 1688). The Brits’ decision to break free should not have been that surprising, given that in the normal course of events the EU system had been rigged to stop the genius “elites” from being fired democratically.

Yet for all the significance of the Brexit vote, the UK is not part of the eurozone and so could leave without dooming the system. Italy, Greece, the Netherlands, Portugal and Finland, by contrast, are subjected to that straitjacket. And getting out of the euro implies exiting the EU. For this reason, the next exit (Italy looks like a prime candidate) is going to be far more momentous, with very clear investment implications.

The savings of the problematic countries will likely move to Frankfurt (in expectation of the deutschemark coming back), London or New York on the basis of a slightly revised Gresham’s law that bad currency will chase out the good ones. The result will be a big rise in German M1 and a banking crisis in the weak countries, with banks being bled dry of their deposits. The value of the pound and the US dollar can be expected to appreciate. Since it appears that Europe’s banking crisis is already under way, my advice would be to watch these variables very closely. If the pound and the dollar start to rise against the euro, it will probably mean that German M1 is rocketing upwards. And at that point the advice would be to adopt the brace position.

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Is Europe Doomed By Vassalage To Washington?

Is Europe Doomed By Vassalage To Washington  By Paul Craig Roberts, 28 July 2016

“One Ring to rule them all . . . and in the darkness bind them.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

World War II resulted in Europe being conquered, not by Berlin but by Washington.

The conquest was certain but not all at once. Washington’s conquest of Europe resulted from the Marshall Plan, from fears of Stalin’s Red Army that caused Europe to rely on Washington’s protection and to subordinate Europe’s militaries to Washington in NATO, from the replacement of the British pound as world reserve currency with the US dollar, and from the long process of the subordination of the sovereignty of individual European countries to the European Union, a CIA initiative implemented by Washington in order to control all of Europe by controlling only one unaccountable government.

With few exceptions, principally the UK, membership in the EU also meant loss of financial independence. As only the European Central Bank, an EU institution, can create euros, those countries so foolish as to accept the euro as their currency no longer have the power to create their own money in order to finance budget deficits.

The countries that joined the euro must rely on private banks to finance their deficits. The result of this is that over-indebted countries can no longer pay their debts by creating money or expect their debts to be written down to levels that they can service. Instead, Greece, Portugal, Latvia, and Ireland were looted by the private banks.

The EU forced the pseudo-governments of these countries to pay the northern European private banks by suppressing the living standards of their populations and by privatizing public assets at pennies on the dollar. Thus retirement pensions, public employment, education and health services have been cut and the money redirected to private banks. Municipal water companies have been privatized with the result being higher water bills. And so on.

As there is no reward, only punishment, for being a member of the EU, why did governments, despite the expressed wishes of their peoples, join?

The answer is that Washington would have it no other way. The European founders of the EU are mythical creatures. Washington used politicians that Washington controlled to create the EU.

Some years ago CIA documents proving that the EU was a CIA initiative were released. See:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/1356047/Euro-federalists-financed-by-US-spy-chiefs.html and http://benwilliamslibrary.com/blog/?p=5080

In the 1970s my Ph.D. dissertation chairman, then a very high-ranking official in Washington with control over international security affairs, asked me to undertake a sensitive mission abroad. I refused. Nevertheless, he answered my question: “How does Washington get foreign countries to do what Washington wants?”

“Money,” he said. “We give their leaders bagfuls of money. They belong to us.”

The record is clear that the EU serves the interests of Washington, not the interests of Europe. For example, the French people and government are opposed to GMOs, but the EU permits a “precautionary market authorization” of GMO introduction, relying perhaps on the “scientific findings” of the scientists on Monsanto’s payroll. When the US state of Vermont passed a law requiring labeling of GMO foods, Monsanto sued the state of Vermont. Once the paid-off EU officials sign the TTIP agreement written by US global corporations, Monsanto will take over European agriculture.

But the danger to Europe goes far beyond the health of European peoples who will be forced to dine on poisonous foods. Washington is using the EU to force Europeans into conflict with Russia, a powerful nuclear power capable of destroying all of Europe and all of the United States in a few minutes.

This is happening because the paid-off with “bagfuls of money” European “leaders” had rather have Washington’s money in the short-run than for Europeans to live in the long-run.

It is not possible that any European politician is sufficiently moronic to believe that Russia invaded Ukraine, that Russia any moment will invade Poland and the Baltic states, or that Putin is a “new Hitler” scheming to reconstruct the Soviet Empire. These absurd allegations are nothing but Washington propaganda devoid entirely of truth. Washington’s propaganda is completely transparent. Not even an idiot could believe it.

Yet the EU goes along with the propaganda, as does NATO.

Why? The answer is Washington’s money. The EU and NATO are utterly corrupt. They are Washington’s well paid whores.

The only way Europeans can prevent a nuclear World War III and continue to live and to enjoy what remains of their culture that the Americans have not destroyed with America’s culture of sex and violence and greed, is for the European governments to follow the lead of the English and exit the CIA-created European Union. And exit NATO, the purpose of which evaporated with the collapse of the Soviet Union, and which is now being used as an instrument of Washington’s World Hegemony.

Why do Europeans want to die for Washington’s world hegemony? That means Europeans are dying for Washington’s hegemony over Europe as well.

Why do Europeans want to support Washington when Washington’s high officials, such as Victoria Nuland, say “Fuck the EU.”

Europeans are already suffering from the economic sanctions that their overlord in Washington forced them to apply to Russia and Iran. Why do Europeans want to be destroyed by war with Russia? Do Europeans have a death wish? Have Europeans been Americanized and no longer appreciate the historic accumulation of artistic and architectural beauty, literature and music achievements of which their countries are custodians?

The answer is that it makes no difference whatsoever what Europeans think, because Washington has set up a government for them that is totally independent of their wishes. The EU government is accountable only to Washington’s money. A few people capable of issuing edicts are on Washington’s payroll. The entire peoples of Europe are Washington’s serfs.

Therefore, if Europeans remain the gullible, insouciant, and stupid peoples that they currently are, they are are doomed, along with the rest of us.

On the other hand, if the European peoples can come to their senses, free themselves from The Matrix that Washington has imposed on them, and revolt against Washington’s agents who control them, the European peoples can save their own lives and the lives of the rest of us.

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Brexit: Britain voted for the parliamentary democracy it invented

Brexit, Britain voted for the parliamentary democracy it invented  By Dominic Lawson, The Times, 27 June 2016

The BBC’s Katya Adler politely put her question to Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, at his Brussels press conference on Friday: was the British referendum vote to leave the EU “the beginning of the end” of this organisation?

First, he pretended not to hear. Then Juncker uttered the single word “No” — and abruptly walked out. The bulk of the assembled journalists, after a moment of dawning realisation … applauded. What a cosy, complacent club.

The British radio audience got its own taste of it when Martin Schulz, the European parliament’s president, told BBC Radio 4 that “this is not a crisis for the Europ­ean Union”. Well, anyone can understand the need not to appear to panic; but sublime indifference to the public’s expressed wishes at the ballot box is almost a sacred principle of the EU.

This is ingrained in its very orig­ins: Jean Monnet, one of its founding fathers, envisaged a new Europe governed by an elite cadre of bureaucrats who would be magnificently aloof from populism and the petty day-to-day concerns of the masses. It was a Platonic vision — that is to say, one of a benign dictatorship.

This would be infinitely superior to the malign dictatorship that had almost destroyed Europe in the 1940s — and to that which ­oppressed the peoples of Eastern ­Europe until the fall of the Berlin Wall. Eternal credit is due to it for the two achievements of tying the bonds of peace between Germany and its immediate neighbours and of assisting the path to market economies for the former commun­ist states.

Unfortunately, the European movement, as it sometimes calls ­itself, has one thing in common with the Marxists. It too is a form of secular faith. Its advocates see a fully federal European state as a historically predetermined outcome, the very definition of progress. But, like the Bolsheviks, they are not prepared to wait for history to take its inevitable course; paradoxically, such alleged inevitability must be pressed on the peoples of Europe, whether they wish it or not.

Juncker is just the most disarmingly frank of these men (they are all men — the system-loving sex that worships grand ideas and scorns common sense). He it was who said in 2005 — when Valery Giscard d’Estaing’s imperial European constitution began to run into the buffers of hostile plebiscites — “If it’s a yes we will say, ‘On we go’, and if it’s a no we will say, ‘We will continue’.”

After its rejection by Dutch and French voters, “we will continue” was manifest in the Lisbon Treaty, which, as German Chancellor ­Angela Merkel noted, “preserves the substance of the constitution. That is a fact”.

This was when Gisela Stuart — the Labour MP who with Boris Johnson and Justice Secretary Mich­ael Gove led the Vote Leave campaign — became convinced of the need for what would come to be known as Brexit. The German-born MP for Neville Chamberlain’s old Birmingham Edgbaston seat was one of our parliament­arians on the committee drafting the European constitution.

She told me afterwards how whenever she and her colleagues put in clauses with the purpose of bringing the EU institutions more under the control of the national electorates — and closer to them — they would always be ­mysteriously struck out at the last minute. Stuart realised then that this was a movement with contempt for the notion of democratic accountability; that unlike other political institutions in what we call the West it was not to be created as a response to the call for ­reform by the people but to be imposed top-down.

No one has expressed this better than Michael Burrage, the ­author of Class Formation, Civil ­Society and the State: “In contrast with the evolution of democracy in English-speaking democracies, the new European polity has evolved backwards, with an executive and a court preceding a legislature, which is still nominal, with civil society very much an afterthought. It cannot therefore perform quite the same functions as the voluntarily and spontaneously organised civil societies of the Eng­lish-speaking world.”

It was, in fact, an astonishing experiment in conducting an upside-down pseudo-democracy, with the transmission of instruct­ions not from the people upwards, but from the European Commission downwards.

This political system most closely resembles that of the People’s Republic of China. The difficulty for its proponents is that the citizens of Europe do not, on the whole, have the Chinese willingness to endure imperial governance. Funnily enough, it was a former Maoist and later president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, who declared the EU was a “non-imperial ­empire”.

European history, as that ­former Oxford classicist Boris Johnson pointed out during the referendum campaign, is characterised by the formation and dis­integration of empires. The first was the Roman, which imposed its own coinage.

This was the most audacious decision of the modern planners of post-national Europe: to impose a single currency on a range of widely divergent economies.

Its consequences, in terms of the destruction of jobs in the southern EU states, do not need repeating here. It is, though, worth recalling that while Germany is seen as the villain of this arrangement, the German people themselves are blameless. They were never consulted about the abolition of the deutschmark — and at the time of the creation of the new currency, opinion polls showed most Germans were opposed to the euro, along with most of the nation’s economists.

As Margaret Thatcher observed in her memoirs: “The desire among modern German politic­ians to merge their national identity in a wider European one is understandable enough, but it presents great difficulties to self-conscious nation states in Europe. In effect, the Germans, because they are nervous of governing themselves, want to establish a ­European system in which no ­nation will govern itself. Such a system could only be unstable in the long term.”

If this was not obvious to others then, it is glaringly so now. It is hardly surprising that the people of Britain — or perhaps I should say England and Wales — have been the first to revolt against what Thatcher called “such a ­system”.

Britain invented parliamentary democracy and prospered mightily under it. Unlike the great maj­ority of member states, we did not join the EU as part of the escape from war (France and Germany) or dictatorship (Spain, Portugal, Greece). We also have an ancient legal system, characterised by popular participation, which has not shrunk from checking the powers of the executive. The British people do not need their liberties guaranteed by the European Court of Justice. At some visceral level, they realise that.

Last week I advocated a vote to leave, to demonstrate that “there is another way”. Possibly, there will be referendums elsewhere in the EU. What then happens is up to those countries’ own peoples — of whose existence, a French public­ation observed over the weekend, “the European Commission has just been reminded”.

It is endlessly said that there is a “growing loss of faith in democracy” across the Western world. The British vote to leave the EU has been described as a manifest­ation of this malaise. On the ­contrary: it is a vote for the re-estab­lishment of parliamentary democracy and a fully responsible, accountable elected government. It might even catch on.

The Sunday Times

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Comments:

There is a tendency to think, because Britain is at the forefront of all we enjoy, which is characterised as civilisation, that its culture and traditions are what is disparaging referred to by multiculturalists as “white bread”, boring and uninteresting. There is no reason to think that Brits are not as patriotic, fiercely protective and proud of their heritage as anyone from what is seen as a more colourful culture.

The clearly evident divide of the areas voting to exit and those to remain demonstrates that large swathes of that proud land do not feel the benefits of a European dictatorship, only its drawbacks. Odd that journalists reporting back to Australia had so much trouble finding these exit people to interview, considering their majority numbers. I guess they didn’t want to venture outside London to seek them out.

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Thank God that the English realised that there is no need to sell the farm so they can trade in vegetables. There will be a significant push to override the democratic decision though. It does not suit the preferred socialist control over upstarts, nor the captive market that the Germans now have to sell their production to; a lot of money against that.

I was just thinking how most of our toys said ‘Made in England’ before they said ‘Made in Japan’, then Malaysia, Taiwan and then China. It is very very hard to find anything that says ‘Made in England’ at the supermarket these days. Hope to see that change. Even the matchbox cars were better back then.

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The arrogant political elites across the Western world and the equally arrogant leftist media that do their bidding, have just woken up to what many of us have been saying for years, that people are angry and disillusioned in how their countries’ cultures and values are being sold out. Congratulations to the Brits for voting to regain control over their own destiny and watch this space, this movement is only just starting. So wring your hands and tut tut at how “stupid” anyone is who doesn’t agree one hundred percent of the time with what you want us to, but get over it because it is the very democratic process you pretend to champion that is at work. I actually call it Selective Democracy which is democracy on our terms provided you agree with us. It doesn’t work that way so suck it up. Watch what is going to unfold in France, Netherlands and a lot of other countries.

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This is the best article written about Brexit, Bravo.

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The churlish behaviour of EU leaders after the result came in says it all.

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Great article – the antithesis of that by Paul Kelly in the Weekend Australian which projected doom and gloom and the end of democracy! This was one of the greatest examples of true democracy at work. It also demonstrated something else – try to frighten the Brits and they will fight you to the death – ask others who have tried!!

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For freedom to be true, then all voices need to be heard, without restriction, and for every individual vote to count. The people have spoken, and selected democracy over governorship. The elite and their minions need to accept it and move on. Just as they would have expected, had the vote gone the other way. The people have spoken… Listen.

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A great piece.   It is pity that more of your fellow journalists do not realise that a limited form of democracy is no democracy at all.

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Brexit, Remainers are not pro-EU, they’re anti-democracy

Brexit, Remainers are not pro-EU, they’re anti-democracy  By Tim Black, Spiked Online, 25 June 2016

Listening to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, his mind glazing over while waxing prosaically about why we should stay in the European Union, ‘[an institution] I have no love for’ as he put it this week, captured an inescapable truth: the EU inspires no one. Not even its supporters. So, even if, as pollsters are now suggesting, Remain wins tomorrow, it will do so in a climate in which no one really loves or even very much likes the EU.

Just listen to someone make the case for Remain: they’ll admit the EU is flawed; they’ll say it could be more democratic; and they’ll even acknowledge that, despite some left-ish postures, it has screwed whole peoples over, strangling the life out of Greece, economically colonising Italy and Ireland, and causing chaos in Ukraine. It makes for a dispiriting sight. When Remainers make their furtive pitches, their hearts don’t swell; they sink, weighted down by caveats, bad faith and dead-eyed pragmatism.

‘I have no illusions left about the EU’s shortcomings and overreaches’, writes one EU champion; another pays due acknowledgement to it ‘as a cruel, fanatical and stupid institution’; and one left-leaning Remainer admits that ‘[the EU] has an executive so powerful it could crush the left-wing government of Greece; a legislature so weak that it cannot effectively determine laws or control its own civil service. And a judiciary that, in the Laval and Viking judgments, subordinated workers’ right to strike to an employer’s right to do business freely.’ With supporters like this, who needs UKIP?

In a sense, Remainers’ struggle to seize the EU day is understandable. After all, what exactly does the EU offer to inspire people? What is there to champion, to praise, to fight for? There’s the founding myth, which tells of Europe’s ravaged not-so-great powers, France and Germany, clubbing together to stave off future conflict. But it’s a myth that never really rings true, that remains stubbornly mythical – no one really believes it. That a third world war has not erupted in the Old World owes more to the exigencies of the Cold War and cold-eyed economic pragmatism than it does to the EU. Besides, the EU, as we know it today, was born not in the 1950s, but in 1992, with the Maastricht Treaty. It was a realpolitik response to the economic implications of a reunified Germany, and an irrational reaction to the imagined consequences of the reunified will of the German people. Only the most bug-eyed xenophobe could draw inspiration from a political project premised on little more than ‘reining the Krauts in’.

The ideological absence, the sheer intellectual and cultural lack at the heart of the so-called European project, is writ large in its putative symbols: they refuse to say very much. Take the EU flag, for example. As we know, it comprises a royal-blue background offsetting a circle of 12 gold stars, and ostensibly signifies the coming together of European nations (the stars) in a non-hierarchical union (the circle). Although its originator, Arsène Heitz, later admitted that he had taken his design cue from the Book of Revelations’ woman of the apocalypse, and her crown of 12 stars. There’s no eschatology here. Rather, there’s a symbolic acknowledgement of what the EU is not: it’s not a union in the strong sense, hence the stars are separate (rather than joined, as, for example, in the colours of the Union Flag); and it lacks a cohering centre, hence the stars circle nothing. To the extent it conveys anything at all, the flag expresses a sense of the EU as a loose hanging-together of nations – or better still, a huddling together of national elites, in the royal blue of a European nowhere. To many, it means diddly squat.

And then there’s the EU anthem, which is based on the final movement of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy from his ninth symphony. This is a high point of German Romanticism, indeed of European culture. It ought to be saying a lot. But it’s not, because the 1783 lyric by Friedrich Schiller, which inspired it, says too much, and, worse still, does so in German. And the EU does not have a language, and, even if it did, it probably wouldn’t be the mother tongue of the Fatherland. So the EU dropped the words, effacing any substantive, positive content, and reduced the ode to little more than a vague, bland sentiment. It’s now an ode to not very much.

The wilful paucity of the EU’s symbols, their determined inarticulateness, is no accident. Rather, it reflects the EU’s inability to realise itself as anything more than a pragmatic arrangement, sustained by the vested, demos-dodging interests of isolated political elites. It is incapable of inspiring any symbolism, because there is so little spirit to symbolise.

All of which raises the question: what it is about the EU that does appeal to its supporters? But that question misses the point. This is not black magic – there is no secret subtext that only EU initiates can decipher. There really is nothing appealing about the EU. As a pragmatic, political arrangement, which has done terrible damage to whole nations, it is steadfastly rebarbative. Its supporters cannot be attracted to it. They see its flaws, the way it treats people, its flight from accountability. So, no, they’re not attracted to the EU – they’re repelled towards it, repelled by the sight of ordinary people being able to determine their political future, by the spectre of the democratic will, in all its grubby uncontrollability and aspiration. It is fear of people, not love of the EU, that makes Remainers’ hearts beat that little bit faster.

In the EU, then, Remainers are seeking refuge from the demos, not seeking the promised land. That’s why those urging a Remain vote, often consciously in spite of themselves, almost always point to the likes of prominent Leavers like Nigel Farage or Katie Hopkins or even Boris Johnson, and say, ‘Look at the company I’d be in if I voted out – that’s why I’m sticking with the EU’. But this is not really about individuals like Farage or Johnson. They merely serve as metonyms for sections of the electorate itself, sneaky shorthand for Remainers’ real fear: flesh-and-blood voters. So those turning their nose up at a Leave vote, and choosing, in utter bad faith, to stick with the EU, are doing so because they’ve got a whiff of the electorate. That is what really gets up their noses, stimulating all their pent-up fear and loathing, not some ‘neoliberal’ establishment, or a crap anti-immigration billboard poster, or an Old Etonian spouting baloney about Hitler.

In short, Remainers are not really pro-EU at all; rather, they’re anti-democracy, often in the most snobbishly PC of terms. And that, as we at spiked have been arguing all along, is what the EU referendum is really all about: whether you are for or against people potentially having just that little bit more control over their lives.

Tim Black is a spiked columnist and editor of the spiked review.

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Cairns Port Development

Cairns Port development can be expedited

This post presents a chronology of issues and events relating to Cairns Port development. Scroll down for more background and sections 1 – 7.

Excellent news that Cairns Port development seems to be back on track.  The Cairns Post, 22 June, reported ‘PORTS North will zero in on two possible locations to dump one million cubic metres of dredge spoil from Trinity Inlet.  The Cairns Post yesterday revealed dredging of the Cairns shipping channel would be fast-tracked to allow cruise ships up to 300-metres long to dock at the city’s port.  City leaders welcomed the revival of the project, which would have a total cost of about $120 million.  Ports North chairman Russell Beer said the organisation would work hard over the next 12 months to complete a rigorous environmental impact statement and “turn that into an approval”.’ Some background:  After Ports North presented a practical plan in 2012, something happened causing their plans to veer off course.  Was this applying fashionable ‘green’ ideology?  Over $5 million dollars spent on consultants produced a draft EIS, checked by the Coordinator General and passed to Treasurer Pitt who pronounced the port development far too expensive at $365 million.  This draft EIS was shown to have major flaws.  Now different consultants indicate dredging only 1 million cubic metres of spoil – 23% of the previous 4.4 million – will enable larger cruise ships up to 90,000 tonnes and full fuel and sugar cargo ships to navigate the harbour.  The proposal includes innovative ideas such as pumping the spoil to an underwater location in a sand pit, so no expensive treatment will be needed.  Also, an East Trinity site is favoured – presumably to cover the small highly polluted area, as recommended by CSIRO in 1999.  Hopefully the new plan, costed at $120 million, will now be expedited.  It seems fair for the cost of this essential infrastructure be shared equally by the Federal and Queensland State governments.

8 June, the Cairns Post included an impressive 20-page supplement that presented a wide range of articles explaining the issues and benefits available from widening and deepening the Trinity Inlet.  The lead-article was an open letter to the Prime Minister, leader of the opposition and the Queensland Premier asking for their support to expedite the port development project.  The supplement is complimentary to the March 1 report to the Premier Cairns Port Development Report to Ministers.

1 June 2016: Advance Cairns, the peak independent non-government Advocacy and Economic Development Organisation for Tropical North Queensland (TNQ), advised on its new website: RECOMMENDATION – Prioritise Cairns port infrastructure as a strategic investment in the regional economy enabling long-term sustained growth for tourism, Navy, port and service industries.  Commit to this $1B industry by supporting the EIS process and implementing the CSDP’ (Cairns Shipping Development Project). The announcement continued: Project Timelines – The final cost will be assessed as part of the revised Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) with expenditure in 2017-20. EIS commenced and extended until June 2017′.   This very welcome announcement appears to override Advance Cairns and the Cairns Chamber of Commerce previous submission to the Coordinator General which concluded ‘We believe that the Cairns Port will need to continue to incrementally develop the inlet and associated port infrastructure’.  http://www.advancecairns.com/project/shipping-development/ and Cairns Chamber, Advance Cairns submission.

The Cairns Post editorial, 17 May, noted the state government’s record of blatantly ignoring the results of it’s own consultation.  ‘First there was the public hearing regarding dredging the Trinity Inlet…Business people presented a great case to have Cairns included as a “port of significance” that would allow large-scale dredging…They were so successful that the people  hearing the arguments recommended the Government include Cairns on that list. ‘  The result?  The Labor State Government kowtowed to the Greens and ignored the recommendation of it’s own committee.  So much for democracy!  (Click on editorial graphic to expand).

CP Editorial, 170516

The following article in the Cairns Post, 6 May, written by Queensland State Treasurer’s about Cairns Port deepening, comprised a mix of facts and misleading information (click on graphic to expand).  A letter published on 7 May explains some of the more egregious points: State Treasurer Curtis Pitt writes ‘Still room to move in the inlet’ (6/05).    The most worrying aspect is that readers may think this is a reasonable assessment.  Just a few of the shortfalls are noted below.  Pitt states the Ports North proposal included ‘land-based options around $365m’.  He formed this view based on the DRAFT EIS, ignoring the correct process to await public submissions, one of which explained the costs were grossly exaggerated, ignored optimum technology solutions, and should cost less than $250m.  Pitt explains simulations have enabled a few of the large cruise ships to berth at the CBD cruise terminal. He does not mention that the majority will still have to anchor off Yorkeys Knob.  Pitt wrote ‘we’ve seen a good environmental and economic outcome..’, but does not mention the many cargo ships that arrive and depart half full because the channel is too shallow, resulting in far higher costs.  Pitt notes Ports North ‘will also be allowed to remove … up to 150,000 cubic metres in any four-year period.’ That rate would take 120 years to deepen and widen the channel as proposed.’

Cairns Post Curtis Pitt opinion piece 8 May

Cairns Post’s InvestCairns magazine, April 2016, Loss of Cruise Control, include several quotes from ‘renowned economist Bill Cummings’ such as “While small to medium-sized cruise ships can be home-ported in Cairns, the city will only fully realise its potential to become a cruise shipping h um if deepening and channel widening takes place – something that will also result in efficiencies for Cairns as a cargo and naval port.”

Invest Cairns magazine 200416

A letter from Treasurer Curtis Pitt’s Chief of Staff, John Humphreys (Qld Treasurer reply 120416), 12 April included: ‘Far North Queensland Ports Corporation Limited (Ports North) requested an extension to the EIS deadline to allow it further time to review target vessel sizes and channel improvements options, include the latest survey and field information on revised channel designs, undertake simulations to verify the size of cruise ships and access of reduced  upgrade channel and a tidal window analysis. This request was approved by the Coordinator-General in December 2015 and the project lapse date has been extended to 30 June 2017.’ 

A letter published in the Cairns Post, 5 April, summed up the current impasse: ‘I refer to the Cairns Post story “Make Aquis Happen – Stop mucking around’ (26/03). A Cairns business leader is warning Queensland Government to stop playing politics with … Aquis”.  Then on page 23 “Cairns a jobless hotspot – Cairns was still 2.1% above the state average.” (7/3)  I also recall the article “HMAS Cairns major expansion to make it key northern defence base.  The confidential documents, obtained by The Cairns Post, reveal a new role for the city that includes dredging the inlet and expanding the base to accommodate 3000 personnel in an estimated $2 billion boon to the local economy.”  Since then, it has been a deafening silence.  Also, a recent report sent to the Premier and ministers explained how the reasons given for delaying Cairns Port development have been overcome.  The report (see www.better-management.org) recommended the State government should expedite completion of a “shovel-ready” project plan.  The total inaction suggests the rumours after the State election that the Greens did a deal with Labor to prevent large-scale projects in Cairns were true.   Sorry Cairns, you’ve been dudded by your Governments.’  Note: The report can be downloaded from Cairns Port Development Report to Ministers.  The report includes: ‘An independent group of specialists should be contracted as soon as possible to deliver a ‘shovel-ready’ plan to complete the port development, including a full benefit-cost analysis. Suggested terms of reference for this assignment are at Cairns Port Deepening Plan, TOR 081115.

 An article in the Cairns Post, 7 March, noted: ‘TOP-level documents reveal plans to triple the size of HMAS Cairns as northern Australia’s key strategic naval base. The confidential documents, obtained by The Cairns Post, reveal a new role for the city that includes dredging the inlet and expanding the base to accommodate 3000 personnel in an estimated $2 billion boon to the local economy.’  See http://www.cairnspost.com.au/news/cairns/hmas-cairns-major-expansion-to-make-it-key-northern-defence-base/news-story/975d9b137efb74d8479f7588ef4f2a27 . Also John MacKenzie discussed the issue with former head of the Australian Army Lieutenant General John Grey: http://www.4ca.com.au/mornings/50986-will-the-feds-force-the-dredging-project-to-happen.

CPDI presentation to Coordinator General – Cairns Port Development Inc. made a presentation to the  Queensland State Coordinator General from a high-level suite near the Trinity Inlet on 8 December 2015.  The venue allowed the presenters to point out the CoG the major developments in Cairns that had been achieved over half a century using spoil dredged from the inlet.  The presentation described the many issues relating to the proposed port development proposal, including several errors in the Ports North draft EIS such as the exaggerated costs.  The major benefits the Cairns Region would gain following the proposed development were explained, together with tables showing the calculations.  The Power Point presentation can be downloaded from: CPD Inc. Presentation to the Coordinator General, update.

The Cairns Post Editorial, 22 January, heading Public input just ignored, compared the  Labor State Government’s parliamentary hearing concerning the reduced nightclub opening hours with the previous hearings regarding the Cairns port “priority port” status.  In both instances, it is clear the supposed ‘consultation’ was a sham.  Even when the government’s own priority port committee recommended, without dissent, that Cairns should have priority port status, the Labor masters in Brisbane ignored their committee’s recommendation; an expensive con more worthy of a communist state.    The Editorial concludes: ‘To invite guidance from the public is fair and right, to then ignore it is the height of hubris and conceit – something the Queensland electorate has shown contempt for.’  The complete editorial below makes compelling reading:

1-CP Editorial 220116,2

A letter from Peter Campion, Tolga, in The Cairns Post, 2 January, summarises the current deplorable status: ‘Doctor Fanny Douvere, the marine program coordinator at UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre, does not expect the Abbot Point port expansion to hurt the Great Barrier Reef.  Yet here in Cairns, the State Labor Government, using dodgy legislation and its fully-owned company Ports North, is continuing to delay the much-needed improvement of our port.  Our local “environmental experts” at CAFNEC help the ALP’s anti-Cairns cause by spreading blatant falsehoods about our port, including that dredging it will kill the Reef.  Science has proven our anti-port minority wrong at every step and now even UNESCO agrees dredging is not a problem.  For Far North Queensland to be truly sustainable, we need our port to be fully functional.  It’s now clear that to return our port to full efficiency we need to expose CAFNEC’s propaganda and to dump the ALP at the next election.’  Note: responding to a letter criticising this letter (09/01), Campion replied (CP letter 07/01): ‘(The writer) has  been conned by CAFNEC and the anti-Cairns ALP and seems unaware of local history’, followed by supporting evidence. 

The Cairns Post Editorial, 1 January 2016: Tourism the way ahead…..With such a bright outlook for a tourism-related economic boost, it is timely for our city leaders to consider adopting a stronger stance on dredging Trinity inlet to allow larger cruise ships to dock. As the Australian dollar stays relatively low, more and more foreigners will add Australia to their travel lists, and the Far North and Great Barrier Reef are highly likely to be on the itinerary. In light of UNESCO’s tacit approval of recently announced wholesale dredging of the Abbot Point coal terminal near Bowen, surely that opens the door for the same in Cairns.  Dredging opponents and federal and state government have used UNESCO’s threat to downgrade the Reef’s status as a reason to ban large-scale dredging in the inlet.  But the world environmental watch dog barely gave a whimper after the Abbot Point dredging plan was revealed.  As the inlet’s Environmental Impact process drags on, Abbot Point has now made itself a compelling precedent….

An ABC Rural article noted Dr Fanny Douvere, marine program coordinator at the World Heritage Centre and involved in the recent UNESCO decision not to list the reef as ‘in danger’, said: ‘Port expansion is not an issue if it is managed well’.  http://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2015-12-24/unesco-not-worried-by-reef-ports/7052924?WT.mc_id=newsmail. This article gives the lie to many related statements from Federal and State Governments and other ‘green’ organisations.

An article was published in  the Cairns Post business section, 23 November:  ‘Benefits of dredging impossible to ignore’:

Cairns Post article, 23,12,15,

The article above followed the Cairns Post article by Nick Dalton, 19/12/15: Call to get big ships into port, reproduced below with additional comments in Italics:

Treasurer and acting State Development Minister Curtis Pitt has instructed Ports North to focus on ways to increase the size of ships entering the city’s port.

  The Government has granted the authority an 18-month extension to an environmental impact statement. The final Terms of Reference for the Cairns Shipping Development Project were released by the Coordinator General in September 2012. Ports North announced they had commissioned consultants ARUP to complete the EIS in April 2013. Ports North stated the draft EIS report would be provided in May 2014, then a delay to September 2014. Ports North said changed conditions required further work and had delayed the report. In fact, the Terms of Reference had not changed, and the ‘changed conditions’, ie government ruling against dumping dredge spoil at sea, required far less work rather than more as the TOR always required assessment of options to place dredging spoil on land. The draft EIS was finally released in April 2015.   Rather than waiting for submissions and a final EIS (a key requirement of the CoG’s assessment process), Mr Pitt announced ‘on the basis of the draft EIS, the government had decided against the proposed Trinity Inlet dredging’ – he later explained the $365m cost calculated in the draft EIS was unacceptably high. A submission to the CoG demonstrated the draft EIS had grossly exaggerated the project costs (Submission to Coordinator General.)

  While full-scale dredging has been ruled out, Mr Pitt said dredging the mouth or approach channel to the Trinity Inlet shipping waterway and the swing basin was expected to be included in the EIS.   Rather than ‘expected’, the EIS TOR required this inclusion.

  Wholesale dredging has been ruled out on the grounds of cost (estimated at $100m) and a ban on dumping dredge spoil in the Great Barrier Marine Park. The terms ‘full-scale’ and ‘wholesale’ dredging have not been defined, so are meaningless. Again, the draft EIS described options for on-land placement of spoil, albeit at a grossly exaggerated cost.

  The dredging was to allow larger ships, particularly cruise liners, to navigate the channel.

  The Government wants the port to look at dredging parts of the channel and the swing basin so bigger ships can enter and turn around. This is precisely what the draft EIS was directed to do.

  The Cairns Shipping Development Project is able to proceed under the transitional arrangements as part of the Sustainable Ports Development Act 2015 passed in the November 12 Parliament sitting. So the Sustainably Port Development Act 2015 was a complete red herring as far as Cairns Port is concerned – a massive distraction from the main event.

  “The scope of the project includes capital dredging of the swing basins and Trinity Inlet and deepening of the approach channel to the port”, Mr Pitt said. Mr Pitt said previously the Reef 2050 report, on which the agreement signed by Federal Minister Greg Hunt with UNESCO is based, precludes ‘capital dredging’ in Cairns Port, which Mr Pitt said the Cairns Shipping Development Project would require. In fact, the Reef 2050 report states ‘Dredging can either be capital dredging, for new channels and berths, or maintenance dredging, necessary to maintain existing and approved dredging areas.(Reef 2050 plan excerpts.) The Cairns Shipping Development project requires ‘maintenance dredging, defined as ‘to maintain the safe and effective ongoing operation of a port facility’.

  Mr Pitt said the Coordinator-General had allowed Ports North until June 30 2017 to re-submit an EIS for the project. Ports North contracted their consultants in April 2013 to produce a draft EIS report that covers everything Mr Pitt says he wants. The draft EIS did not adequately cover two key requirements of the TOR: ‘Sufficient baseline economic data to underpin a comprehensive assessment of the direct, indirect, cumulative, costs and impacts of the project’. AndThe indirect impacts likely to flow to other industries and economies from developing the project, and the implications of the project for future development.’ Competent specialists could complete these two requirements in a few months if they were directed to do so. An extension of 18 months, when there has already been a delay of more than 12 months, is completely unnecessary, and can only be deliberate procrastination.

  “Granting this extension gives Ports North more time to develop a project that is economically and environmentally sustainable for the expansion of Cairns Port”, he said. Nothing additional to the requirements of the original EIS TOR has been requested. It must therefore be concluded that Mr Pitt’s announcements can only be a deliberate means of delaying the port deepening and subsequent benefits to the Cairns Region even longer.

   “We can strike a balance that protects the environment and supports economic development, jobs and future trade growth.” This is exactly what the CoG’s TOR for the EIS required.

   Perhaps, as The Cairns Post Editorial, 3 September, noted: ‘The decision by State Development Minister Anthony Lynham to consign Cairns’ port to second-tier status should [has] cause[d] outrage throughout the Far North.’

   The editorial Cairns Post editorial, EIS backflip a big query, 220815 explains the main problem: ‘If the revised EIS suddenly comes back with a favourable opinion of increased dredging, surely this raises suggestions the government is advising its consultants what outcome they should find rather than merely letting the science do the talking.’  Not only the ‘science’, but assessing and describing in more detail the major benefits the Cairns Region will gain after the port deepening has been completed (See Cummings Economics submission Cummings Economics submission).

 It is highly unlikely that the Government will direct Ports North to produce a full plan for deepening the port that would be necessary for logical related decisions to be made, and so most unlikely Ports North will direct their consultants to produce such a plan. This plan should be produced by a new group of independent consultants as soon as possible, including a full benefit-cost analysis based on best-practice methods. Terms of Reference for such an assignment have been drafted: Cairns Port Deepening Plan, TOR 081115

==========================

A summary of the Cairns Port deepening saga

  • Cairns Region will gain major benefits from port deepening, estimated at $5 billion over 25 years, including business growth and many job opportunities.  See Cummings Economics submission.
  • Australia’s long-established defence programs need Cairns Port naval base as a fully-operational strategic port for regional and coastal operations.
  • Spoil from major dredging programs will not be discharged offshore in future, irrespective of scientific reports.  Why? Because government agreements and public perceptions and reactions preclude this.

…… HERE’S HOW

  • Dredging spoil has been put on land to develop Cairns city and its economy for many decades, and can be again – e.g. Portsmith.
  • But Ports North’s draft EIS exaggerated the cost of putting spoil on land. See Submission to Coordinator General.
  • So a new report is needed ASAP to present the most cost-effective plan and quantify the resulting benefits.
  • Government dredging decisions, including those following negotiations with UNESCO, have been based on the Reef 2050 report, which states: ‘Dredging can either be capital dredging, for new channels and berths, or maintenance dredging, necessary to maintain existing and approved dredging areas.Reef 2050 plan excerpts.
  • Port deepening: is NOT for a ‘new channel’; it IS necessary ‘to maintain (an) existing and approved dredging area’; and maintenance dredging IS allowed.

…… AND IF PORT DEEPENING IS NOT EXPEDITED?

  • The whole Cairns Region will suffer major economic, business and job losses, and Australia will not have a strategic port’ in the far north.
  • The miniscule coven of green/Labor extremists will have won their covert battle to impose their anti-growth ideology on the Cairns Region.
  • The State Labor Government can expect to lose the four local seats at the next election if the LNP demonstrate credible support for expediting port deepening.
  • Cairns Region Councillors that don’t support expediting port deepening can expect to be replaced at the election next year by Councillors that do.

SO WHAT SHOULD HAPPEN NOW? ‘PLAN B’?

  • Qld State Treasurer Curtis Pitt was reported in the Cairns Post on 15 May saying.  “What we’ve said is that Ports North, as the proponent, can go back, recast that EIS and make another proposal which has an emphasis on onshore disposal.’
  • Dr Anthony Lynham, Qld Minister for State Development said on 11 November  ‘The (Ports North draft) EIS proposal is respected by the government as being in place before this (the Port Sustainability Bill)….The Bill has nothing to do with the EIS….The Coordinator General (who controls the EIS process) is independent but has to abide by the government policy but on decisions such as extending EISs, he is independent…..I can’t tell him what to do….Maintenance dredging is for maintaining the existing channel.  It is not for widening channels….Unfortunately the strategic designation (instead of the Bill’s category of Priority Port) doesn’t come under UNESCO or the Bill.  That would be quite difficult to throw in another category now after all the negotiation with UNESCO.’ 
  • BUT…recall the Reef 2050 report, which formed the basis for Federal Minister Greg Hunt’s negotiations with UNESCO states: ‘Dredging can either be capital dredging, for new channels and berths, or maintenance dredging, necessary to maintain existing and approved dredging areas.’  The Sustainable Ports Development Bill 2015, Schedule 1 subsequently modified the Reef 2050 definition to: ‘Capital dredging – (a)  means dredging or enlarging a channel, basin, port, berth or other similar thing; or’……. (b) does not include dredging to maintain the safe and effective ongoing operation of a port facility.
  • Surely ‘effective ongoing operation of a port facility’ includes the ability for large cruise, cargo and naval ships to use the port?
  • The Ports North proposal was submitted well before the Bill, and the EIS deadline has been extended to the end of March 2016.  Minister Lynham said it is up to the CoG as to whether this deadline is extended, noting the only time an extension was not granted after a reasonable request was when the EIS was not completed after 7 years and the company had ‘folded’.
  • The State Government has given Ports North another $350,000 (on top of the previous $5.1m) for its consultants to review the draft EIS – presumably expecting different conclusions.
  • The latest technologies and methodologies should underpin the modified draft EIS, and result in different conclusions, including far lower costs (see Submission to Coordinator General).
  • The modified draft EIS could satisfy all requirements: lower cost dredging of the existing channel and all spoil put on land rather than at sea (thus complying with the Reef 2050 report, although possibly a problem with the Bill’s modified definition); meeting environmental requirements; complying with Federal Minister Greg Hunt’s agreement with UNESCO to not de-list the reef; meeting Australia’s naval strategic requirements; and last but not least, enabling the Cairns Region to benefit from the major economic benefits when the next stage of port deepening is completed.

How to ensure Ports North’s modified draft EIS results in expediting the requisite port deepening ASAP?

  • In a nutshell, the Coordinator General needs to ensure Ports North interpret the EIS Terms of Reference (TOR) correctly so the modified draft EIS provide:  ‘Sufficient baseline economic data to underpin a comprehensive assessment of the direct, indirect, cumulative, costs and impacts of the project’; and ‘The indirect impacts likely to flow to other industries and economies from developing the project, and the implications of the project for future development.’  (See Cairns Shipping Development EIS TOR Nov 2012.)
  • The CoG may also decide to revise the TOR if he decides ‘there are significant changes to the project concept or design, or significant new issues emerge during the preparation of the EIS,’ which arguably is the case with this proposal (See http://www.statedevelopment.qld.gov.au/assessments-and-approvals/terms-of-reference.html.) 
  • These points were not covered adequately in the current draft EIS.  The approach suggested in the following document would  ensure the modified draft EIS provides all the information necessary for the relevant authorities to decide to expedite the port deepening: Cairns Port Deepening Plan, TOR 081115

======================

Recent progress and events

The Cairns Post, 18 November article noted: SUPPORTERS of dredging Trinity Inlet will meet the state’s Co-ordinator General and lobby Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to ensure deepening and widening activities suffer no further setbacks.  Dredging restrictions are in place after the state’s Sustainable Ports Development Bill passed with bipartisan support on Friday…. The State Opposition has defended its stance in voting against exempting Cairns and Mourilyan from restrictions.  “The two major parties’ collusion has put the Port of Cairns back 50 years.” …. Cairns Port Development Inc. spokeswoman, Emma Thirkell, said members would lobby federal politicians to place greater weight on scientific evidence supporting dredging, its lack of impact on the Reef and the positives for business that dredging offered.  “Agreement is in place for us to meet the Co-ordinator General and we hope to update Cairns Regional Councillors on the present situation and the possible repercussions of this bill,” she said.   See full article at: http://www.cairnspost.com.au/news/cairns/cairns-port-development-inc-takes-trinity-inlet-dredging-proposal-to-federal-politicians/story-fnjpusyw-1227612935494

Cairns Post articles, 4 and 5 November, spell out the State Government’s latest restriction on dredging limits for Cairns Port.  At 150,000 cubic metres in 4 years, this would mean completing the 4.5 million cubic metres proposed to deepen the channel in 120 years.  Weirdly, Advance Cairns CEO is quoted saying this: “provides for the ability for the port to grow as our city grows”.  This is in line with the Advance Cairns and Cairns Chamber of Commerce submission to the Coordinator General regarding the Ports North draft EIS, which states: ‘We believe that the Cairns Port will need to continue to incrementally develop the inlet and associated port infrastructure to support the growth of the regional economy.’  Over 120 years?  Listen to John MacKenzie discussing this conundrum with Peter Senior on 4CA radio talkback.  Several other callers raised similar points with John, including a member of Cairns Chamber complaining that members had not been consulted, and she totally disagreed with the stance, as presented in today’s update ‘A workable solution for Cairns.  We have some very exciting news to share with you…’:

 28 October, 4CA Talkback: Federal Senator Warren Entsch discussed with Peter Senior the overall port deepening issue; in particular the point noted above that the proposed port deepening is defined as ‘maintenance dredging’ in the authoritative Reef 2050 report, as such is allowed and should go ahead – if only the local State Members would support what is clearly in the best interests of the Cairns Region.  This is essential listening:

22 October.  Senators Ian Macdonald and Bob Katter talked with John Mackenzie on 4CA Talkback about deepening Cairns Port to enable large naval, cruise and cargo ships to use the port and facilities.  Both Senators noted deepening is essential, should be expedited, and will bring major benefits to FNQ.  Naval access is also an essential Australian defence requirement.  Senator Macdonald said: “The Qld Government really has to ignore the minority greens groups who will make up any story to stop any sort of development in Cairns or anywhere else and get some sensible advice…”. Everyone should listen carefully to these comments:

A letter from Dr Anthony Lynham MP, Queensland Minister for State Development and Minister for Natural Resources and Mines, 16 October 2015 stated: ‘The government will not divert from elements of the Bill which form part of our Reef 2050 plan… However, any future development must be consistent with the government’s commitment to protect the GBRWHA and its ban on sea based disposal of port related capital dredge material.’  See Minister Lynham letter 161015.   As noted above, the Reef 2050 report states: ‘Dredging can either be capital dredging, for new channels and berths, or maintenance dredging, necessary to maintain existing and approved dredging areas(see Reef 2050 plan excerpts.) Given that the proposed port deepening: is NOT for a ‘new channel’; and IS necessary ‘to maintain (an) existing and approved dredging area’; and maintenance dredging IS allowed, it seems the Minister is approving port deepening as further maintenance dredging, particularly if the dredging spoil is disposed of on land.

6 October, the second cruise ship anchored at Yorkeys Knob in so many weeks is unable to get passengers ashore for trips – passengers express great disappointment; Cairns reputation sullied; tour companies lose big $$$$$.

1 October, new Chairman of Ports North announced by State Labor Government Minister.  Cairns Post article heading ‘Chairman confident of port progress’ only aligns with recent State actions if ‘progress’ means towards boutique port status. Noted on Facebook: Yes, another Labor stooge. If Labor wasn’t sure he’d follow their directives, he wouldn’t have been appointed. The sorry fact is, Government funds many activities in Cairns, and directs these operations through their well-paid bureaucrats that also mostly lean to the green/Left. What an unholy alliance! Labor’s recent decisions prove they intend financing Townsville expansion and downgrading Cairns Port to boutique status, irrespective of contrary evidence. If Cairns Port deepening supporters continue to play by the Brisbane-controlled Labor rules, we’ll lose – for sure. Go figure…

18 September: the Ports Sustainability Bill has been postponed.

The Cairns Port Development Inc. petition signature sheets were handed to the Queensland Parliament at 7.28 AM on 15 September.  The 4,099 written signatures plus the 2,017 online signatures totalled  6,116 – one of the largest petitions ever from the Cairns region.

As a reminder, the petition reads:  TO: The Honourable the Speaker and Members of the Legislative Assembly of Queensland.    Queensland citizens draw to the attention of the House the Sustainable Ports Development Bill 2015 does not include the ports of Cairns and Mourilyan as priority ports. If capital dredging is discontinued, new larger passenger, naval and cargo ships will not be able to enter the ports. The estimated earnings foregone may be more than $5Bn over the next 25 years, compounding the record high youth unemployment rates.  Your petitioners request the House to amend the Sustainable Ports Development Bill 2015 to include the ports of Cairns and Mourilyan as ‘priority ports’ allowing the ports to carry out vital capital works dredging NOW and always. We also request that an independent project be commissioned to assess and recommend the lowest cost environmentally acceptable dredging solution. Revitalize our economy, restore confidence and save many businesses from the brink of bankruptcy.

Six months out from the local government election, Cairns lawyer Jim Brooks on Friday announced the arrival of his Connect Cairns team in front of supporters, including Cairns MP Rob Pyne.  Brooks, Pyne and CAFNEC are joining forces to oppose deepening the Port and stymie the huge economic benefits the Cairns region would gain.

The Cairns Post 3  Sept. noted: ‘Minister shuns committee report into developing Port of Cairns’ and ‘A WIDE-reaching inquiry by a Queensland parliamentary committee has found that excluding the Port of Cairns as a priority port would have a “detrimental impact” on the growth of the region and have negative impacts on employment and tourism, and on business.  ‘However ‘Minister for State Development, Natural Resources and Mines, Dr Anthony Lynham, who dismissed the committee’s findings just hours after they were released.  “I appreciate the committee’s consideration of the Bill and their report will be considered in full and in detail,” he said in a statement.  “However, the Government will not divert from elements of the Bill which form part of our Reef 2050 plan.’              http://www.cairnspost.com.au/business/minister-shuns-committee-report-into-developing-port-of-cairns/story-fnjpusdv-1227509909212

The Cairns Post Editorial, 3 September, noted: ‘The decision by State Development Minister Anthony Lynham to consign Cairns’ port to second-tier status should cause outrage throughout the Far North….The good doctor rejected this (Committee Report unanimous) recommendation and bowed to the threats of a foreign environmental body (UNESCO) over the pleas of Cairns’ top business groups’ (http://www.cairnspost.com.au/news/opinion/second-tier-status-for-cairns-port-is-a-disgrace/story-fnjpuwl3-1227509793053).

An allied issue is flagged in the Cairns Post editorial, 27 August, ‘THE State Government must act immediately or we can all watch the Aquis ship and its bounty sail out of the (undredged) Trinity Inlet….the stench of bureaucracy-induced failure… If the Fungs walk away from Cairns, heads should roll in the halls of state parliament.’ CP Editorial re Aquis 270815.

The Cairns Port Development Inc. advertisement appeared in the Cairns Post again on Thursday 27 August  DON’T SINK OUR PORT petition advertisement.

The Cairns Post article, 22 August, ‘New look at dredging – Ports North told to come up with revised proposal’ can be read at: http://www.cairnspost.com.au/news/cairns/cairns-port-dredging-plan-back-on-the-cards-in-state-government-rethink/story-fnjpusyw-1227493667126.  The editorial Cairns Post editorial, EIS backflip a big query, 220815 explains the main problem: ‘If the revised EIS suddenly comes back with a favourable opinion of increased dredging, surely this raises suggestions the government is advising its consultants what outcome they should find rather than merely letting the science do the talking.’  Until a new independent assignment is completed (see below) the project will be stalled, along with realising the $25 billion of benefits forecast over 25 years.

Terms of reference for a new assignment to produce a Cairns Port Deepening Plan respond to Treasurer Curtis Pitt’s requests to:  ‘recast that EIS and make another proposal which has an emphasis on onshore disposal’; and put another option ‘on the table.’   This plan would provide essential information to enable State and local governments, Cairns business leaders and the Cairns community to understand fully and make informed decisions on deepening and widening the Trinity Inlet and basin.  Terms of reference for this assignment have been prepared: Cairns Port Deepening Plan, TOR 081115.  Any related decisions made before this or a similar project is completed, including public disclosure, are likely based on conjecture and/or ideology.

Cairns Post 4 August, article by State Treasurer Curtis Pitt: ‘Where we differ from the previous government is that its proposal for capital dredging in Trinity Inlet never stacked up on any measure and couldn’t proceed – the volume of dredge spoil and costs over $360 million were uneconomic….The EIS is a live process and will be used as a vehicle to put in an overarching plan for expansion works.’  The $360M has been shown to be very and deliberately exaggerated, and surely ‘expansion works’ does not suggest the proposed vital major port deepening project?

Cairns Post, 1 August: ‘Independent Member for Cook Billy Gordon and Katter’s Australian Party MPs Shane Knuth and Rob Katter have revealed to The Cairns Post they would move an amendment to the Government’s Bill that would designate Cairns and Mourilyan ports as “priority ports”.‘  The newspaper’s very supportive editorial includes: ‘The fact that the government even wants to limit coastal development in Queensland at all should be fought tooth and nail’. (Click on article to enlarge). http://www.cairnspost.com.au/news/cairns/queensland-mps-unite-against-bill-which-could-sink-cairns-port/story-fnjpusyw-1227465438442

Cairns Post Editorial 010815

The  Ports Bill Committee public hearing at Cairns, 29 July, was a great success for supporters of dredging the Trinity Inlet and basin as far as conveying our message to the Committee and emphasising the width and depth of Cairns’ public support.  But will it be effective?  The Cairns Post front page heading DON’T SINK OUR PORT, editorial, cartoon and double-page spread describe overwhelming support, demanding major changes to the Ports Bill, and action from Federal and State Governments to expedite the dredging.  Failure will lead to Cairns’ economy slowly sinking.  http://www.cairnspost.com.au/business/state-government-urged-to-rethink-ports-bill-for-far-north/story-fnjpusdv-1227462332057 .  The numerous calls to John MacKenzie’s 4CA Talkback were equally supportive.

Cairns Post poll, 24 July: ‘Do you support increased dredging of Trinity Inlet’.  Result in Monday 27th edition: YES 73%.

Friends of the Port of Cairns is now Cairns Port Development Inc. (Incorporation #IA55117).  A media release CPD media release 280715 includes a summary of Cummings Economics’ presentation, on behalf of CPD, to the public hearing of the Ports Bill Committee in Cairns 29 JulyThe presentation is at CPD Presentation to Ports Bill Committee, 290715.

Friends of the Port of Cairns submission to the Qld Coordinator General responded to the Ports North draft Environment Impact Report (EIS): Submission to Coordinator General The submission summary concludes:We request the Coordinator General recommend to the Government that a more comprehensive study be undertaken of placement options in consultation with the Cairns community with a view to developing a lower cost and environmentally acceptable solution to enable the project to proceed as soon as possible.’

Cummings Economics submission to the Sustainable Ports Development Bill 2015 on behalf of the Friends of the Port of Cairns supports the continuing development of the Port of Cairns. Details of the many major benefits that will result from dredging the Trinity Inlet are presented.  http://www.cummings.net.au/pdf/reports/J2865_IPNRC_SustainablePortsDevelopmentBill2015.pdf 

Cummings Economics submission to the Qld Coordinator General, Cummings Economics submission, presents a compelling case for the dredging.  Conservative calculations of the benefits to Cairns total $1.35 billion NPV – $5 bn in cash terms over 25 years, or at least $200 million each year.  Who is stalling these benefits?

Adam Gowlett, Branch President of the Urban Development Institute of Australia talked with John MacKenzie on 4CA radio talkback, 21st August, explaining how the Qld State Labor Government is short-changing Cairns in favour of the South East, and Townsville in particular where $65m has just been allocated to dredge and expand their port plus more major expenditure: .

Friends of the Port of Cairns Facebook page is at: https://www.facebook.com/PortofCairns

Local developer Ken Frost’s submission presents an exciting approach for Cairns long-term needs –  EIS submission KF

A brief submission from Advance Cairns and Cairns Chamber of Commerce equivocates, noting Ports North will need to be able to continue to undertake incremental development projects…’ : Cairns Chamber, Advance Cairns submission.

The current status of the East Trinity property is described in an article in The Cairns Post, 20 June: East Trinity, not a wetland, just a mess, CP article 200615

East Trinity for future urban growth and more vital benefits for Cairns were described in an article in the Cairns Post, 6 June (click on picture below to expand). 

Dredging Tinity to build a new city

Radio 4CA July 23, 2015. John MacKenzie speaks with Peter Senior from Cairns Port Development Inc. and Tim Nicholls MP for Clayfield and shadow minister for State Development, Infrastructure and Planning, Small Business and Trade 23rd July 2015 about progressing the dredging of Cairns Harbour. https://www.facebook.com/messages/1059953612

Talkback host John MacKenzie discussed Friends of the Port of Cairns’ submission with Peter Senior on 3 June:

Ports North $5 million draft EIS can be downloaded in sections from: .  Click here to see the draft EIS Executive Summary.

East Trinity’s history is described in this article, from page 25:   A Sustainable East Trinity

================================

More post contents

  1. Update
  2. Another option: a phased approach
  3. Articles and letters in the Cairns Post
  4. John MacKenzie’s radio talkback show
  5. TV News
  6. Background and history
  7. Other related documents

Introduction

An aerial photograph of East Trinity, Trinity Inlet and the Cairns CBD in 1942 is shown below, with points of interest flagged (click on graphic to expand).  Note the area some ‘greens’ insist should be ‘restored’ to wetlands never was wetlands – it was saltpan, grassland and woodland.

1942 aerial photo of Cairns

…. and this is a recent photo of the Southern end of the East Trinity property.  Note the dead Melaleuca trees as a result of flooding by sea water – which CSIRO strongly recommended against.

East Trinity now, dead maleleucas

The next 7 sections explain the convoluted steps that resulted in the current dismaying situation.

1. Update

For the latest in the long-running saga concerning dredging the Trinity Inlet at Cairns and reclamation at East Trinity, check the Facebook site, Friends of the Port of Cairns – https://www.facebook.com/PortofCairns. 

The Facebook site includes a petition you may want to send to the Coordinator General:  http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/save-the-port-of-cairns.html – it only takes a couple of minutes to read, then send if you agree.  As at 4 June, 1,298 have ‘liked’ the site, and 170 almost-all local people have sent the petition.

Check this Post for more background information and proposals.

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The Cairns Shipping Development Project draft Environmental Impact Statement report was released on Saturday 18 April.  State Government  Treasurer Curtis Pitt announced that, on the basis of the DRAFT EIS, the government had decided against the proposed Trinity Inlet dredging.   Listening to callers on radio talkback shows, the overwhelming overall reaction is extreme dismay. 

Cairns Labor MP Rob Pyne added to the dismay, as described in the Cairns Post Editorial, 25 April (see full text in Section 3):  Cairns MP Rob Pyne’s outburst against the business sector is about as undiplomatic as you’ll ever see from a politician…  Industry and commerce quite rightly supports the dredging of Trinity Inlet because it would have brought bigger cruise liners, cargo vessels and navy ships to Cairns and provided a $1.3 billion boost to the economy… He really starts off badly by describing business as the “big end of town” and then his Facebook rant continues with “your unsustainable, unfunded and illogical ‘capital dredge proposal’ will not fly…”.

Cairns Post article, 27 April (full text is in section 3) included: Industry group Cruise Down Under is urging the Government to consider the economic benefits of dredging of about $1.3 billion.  CDU general manager Jill Abel said a study showed cruise ships injected $12.6 million into the city’s economy in 2013-14.  Ms Abel said.  “… Cairns is a must-see destination from a passenger perspective, and integral to the eastern seaboard itineraries.” 

Cairns Post, 30 April, article (see details in section 3): BARRON River MP Craig Crawford has broken political ranks to back the dredging of Trinity Inlet.

This post suggests a practical and cost-effective way to avoid dumping the dredging spoil at sea as well as reclaiming the degraded State-owned area at East Trinity.  Many related issues are discussed, media coverage is presented and relevant background is explained.

The report, Dredging and East Trinity opportunities 081214, presents a proposal to dredge Cairns Trinity Inlet channel; and reclaim the State-owned degraded East Trinity property; and gain major short and long-term benefits for Cairns community and businesses……AT NO NET COST to taxpayers.  Imagine a residential suburb at East Trinity:

 ET with suburb, small

2. Another option: a phased approach

Note: This section has not been updated since the draft EIS was released.  Some of the assumptions and figures used in the draft EIS are in serious doubt, as are some of the conclusions.  It is expected that further checking by different specialist engineers will identify substantially different conclusions that may be more in line with the proposal outlined in the Phase 1 proposal described below. 

Another variation on Phase 1 (call it Phase 1b) could be, if both the State and Federal Governments are persuaded to allow capital dredge to be placed offshore (currently very unlikely), then the State could sell their 944 ha property at East Trinity to pay all dredging costs, with the proviso that the developer must resolve the current pollution problems on parts of this property.

Responding to comments by the previous State Member for Parliament, Gavin King, that East Trinity could not be developed for many years until the dredged spoil has settled, an alternative option is now presented.

Pending release of the Environment Impact Statement (EIS) report, it was stated that ‘500 hectares’ of East Trinity land will be required to place the 4.4 million cubic metres of spoil.  Given the fact that the State-owned property at East Trinity is 943.6 ha, the residual 443.6 ha of property could be available for development immediately, noting 168 ha of this part is raised, affording grand views across the inlet to the CBD and hills beyond.

The original report has been updated to include a Phase 1 where half of the residual 443.6 ha is sold to one or more developers for a nominal sum, on the condition that the developer(s) pay all the costs of dredging, spoil treatment and associated costs, which the original report estimated at $125m.  However, as it is understood the Ports North EIS estimates these costs as between $200m and $250m, a midway figure of $225m is assumed.   The changes to the original report are shown in red.  An alternative with the same effect would be for the state to sell the land outright and use the proceeds to pay for the dredging and spoil treatment.  Phase 1 is estimated to produce a profit of $7m, although more land could be available which could enable the level of profit to be increased.  The updated report can be downloaded from Dredging and East Trinity opportunities, phased, 230115.

Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan

The Federal Government’s Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan, released on 21 March 2015, includes the intention to: ‘mandate the beneficial reuse of port-related capital dredge spoil, such as land reclamation in port development areas, or disposal on land where it is environmentally safe to do so; [and] to establish a maintenance dredging framework which identifies future dredging requirements, ascertains appropriate environmental windows to avoid coral spawning and protect seagrass, and examines opportunities for beneficial reuse of dredge material or on-land disposal where it is environmentally safe to do so.’  Unfortunately the report becomes suspect when it introduces climate change alarmist ‘PC’ phrases such as ‘ocean acidification’, which are not included in the ‘glossary of commonly used terms’ and is an oxymoron anyway – all oceans are alkaline (PH about 8.1); it is physical impossibility for oceans to become acid, i.e. less than neutrality, about PH 7.  Recent government dredging decisions have been based on the Reef 2050 report, which states: ‘Dredging can either be capital dredging, for new channels and berths, or maintenance dredging, necessary to maintain existing and approved dredging areas.’  Port deepening: is NOT a ‘new channel’; it IS necessary ‘to maintain (an) existing and approved dredging area’; and maintenance dredging IS allowed.  See Reef 2050 plan excerpts.

During an interview by John MacKenzie with Federal MP Warren Entsch on John’s Talkback show, 18 March 2015, Warren described his proposals for the dredging and East Trinity which are identical to the proposal in the Phase 1 report.    Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch has applauded the government’s move to ban the dumping of any capital dredge spoil in Great Barrier Reef Marine Park waters, but says it shouldn’t be news to Ports North in regards to their Port of Cairns dredge proposal.

Warren Entsch: “dredging critical for growth”

An article in Dredging News Online, 20 March, noted: ‘Entsch says land-based disposal  “dredging critical for growth”.  “I congratulate Environment Minister Greg Hunt for this decision, it’s something that I’ve been arguing for forever – even in regards to maintenance dredging going into the waters,” Mr Entsch said.  “I’ve always said that we have an obvious opportunity on East Trinity, it’s the perfect site for disposing of the dredge spoil.  “It provides us with an opportunity to bring the next stage of the development of Cairns closer to the CBD by developing a site that is only five minutes across the water.”  Mr Entsch said he couldn’t see why the option hasn’t already been factored in by Ports North.  “Greg Hunt has indicated for a long time that his preferred option for disposal is on land, and I have certainly conveyed this message to Ports North with every meeting I have had with them. So I don’t see any reasons why there would be delays as they have already considered a number of land-based options.”  Mr Entsch said it was critical that the dredging of Trinity Inlet take place. “Just look at the expansion of the cruise ship industry, which has been phenomenal. One of the large cruise companies is looking at Cairns as a home base, but that may never happen without dredging.  “While undoubtedly a land-based option will be more expensive, what needs to be factored in is the environmental benefits of taking the pressure off hill slopes as our city grows, and the economic benefits of reducing ribbon development as we head south past Gordonvale.  “Originally the plan was for 25,000 people at East Trinity, this can be expanded further to the adjoining land west of the Yarrabah road, allowing a significant increase in our population base. It also gives us a genuine second access to Cairns and would significantly improve connectivity between the Yarrabah community and the city.”  Mr Entsch said he understood that it would be several years before any dredge spoil at the site would have settled enough to be developed. “However there’s an opportunity to develop the adjoining areas in the meantime, and encourage private investment,” he said. “The end result is that it would significantly expand capacity close to our CBD and contain the city to a much smaller footprint.  “There’s been more than enough time for EIS to be assessed. I’d urge the new Queensland government to release it as soon as possible, so that the Cairns community can talk about the options.”

Achieving a failed promise at no cost to the taxpayer

One would imagine that achieving a failed promise made by the previous LNP Government at no cost to the taxpayer would be viewed very favourably by the new State Treasurer, Curtis Pitt (who has inherited a very serious budget deficit) as well as the new MP for Cairns, Rob Pyne.  Regrettably, complications arising from current charges relating to the State Government member for Cook, Billy Gordon, may delay the long-awaited release of the EIS report for public viewing.

Why the delay?

Consider the statement by The Honourable David Crisafulli MP, Ex Queensland State Member for Mundingburra and Minister for Local Government  on John MacKenzie’s talkback radio 23rd January, a week before the State election:

…We do need to find a way to get that dredging done.  Now, there has been every roadblock put up that could possibly happen….. (details and context below).

Note: the Liberal National Party (LNP) was swept from power in a rout at the Queensland State election on 31 January 2015, to be replaced by Labor (ALP)  in a coalition with an  independent member and Katter party members.  To date, in addressing the dredging EIS, the four local Cairns region Labor candidates said only that they will await the EIS release before making any related decisions.   It may be relevant that the Labor Treasurer, Curtis Pitt, is the local Mulgrave  member and won his seat comfortably.  So, back to all in limbo, but with different people in charge!  It may also be relevant that the previous Cairns Member, Gavin King, who consistently spoke in almost sycophantic support of Ports North’s plans, lost his seat in a landslide.

Surely the general public has a right to know exactly what these ‘roadblocks’ noted by David Crisafulli are; not just hinting at dark secrets that sound more like a conspiracy.   Hopefully all will be revealed shortly by the new Labor Government and its four local members.

Who gains by delaying the EIS?

  • It would probably be quicker and easier for Ports North to dump the dredged spoil in the proposed extended area at the end of the Trinity Inlet Channel (if some-one else pays).  However, this is at odds with the Labor State Government’s view as well as Federal Government and the previous LNP State Government views and directives.
  • Both the Cairns Regional Council and all those involved in the sudden recent announcement of the  major residential development at Mount Peter would likely be very averse to competition from another residential development a few kilometres away at East Trinity.
  • Last year (2014) the CRC Mayor, Bob Manning, expressed his belief that the spoil should be placed at sea, and that the State-owned land at East Trinity should not be involved in the dredging project at this time.

There is a general rule that invariably assists resolution that first came to prominence in All the President’s Men (1976), Deep Throat: ‘Just follow the money trail.’  The three points above give rise to further questions:

  • Who are the ‘road-blockers’ that David Crisafulli (see above) refers to?
  • Exactly what ‘roadblocks’ would detractors be likely to put up?
  • Are there significant connections between the un-named ‘road-blockers’?
  • How much would genuine competition from an additional residential development  improve related outcomes for future residents?
  • What will a Labor Queensland State Government do, given that three local members are now Labor (the fourth, Billy Gordon is now independent but likely to align with Labor), including the likely Treasurer, Curtis Pitt, who has the residual of the previous Labor Government’s massive budget deficit to tackle?  Note: It is the Coordinator General’s role to assess the EIS, but it seems likely that the outcome will now be influenced by Labor’s plans and may be less influenced by current ‘road-blocks’ (see John MacKenzie’s talkback radio 23 January, below). 
  • Will new Cairns State Member, Rob Pyne, be able to fulfil his intention to expedite release of the EIS (see article in Cairns Post, 3 January, below)?

 “It’s just unaffordable …”

Gavin King, previous Member of Parliament for the Queensland state seat of Cairns, commented on the TV7 news on 15 August: “It’s just unaffordable, certainly in the short-term.  Unless either the private sector or the Feds come across with some dollars.” 

Both proposals (see links above  to download the reports)  respond to Gavin King’s comment:  The private sector could  ‘come across’ with all the costs for the dredging by buying the dredging spoil, a valuable resource, as part of the overall development of East Trinity.  Unless there are material errors in the reports assessments, they both demonstrate the dredging:

  • Could be ‘affordable’;
  • Could be achieved at no net cost to taxpayers;
  • Could avoiding widespread concerns about dumping huge amounts of spoil near the Great  Barrier Reef; and
  • Would make a major contribution to Cairn’s economy including allowing large cruise and other ships to enter Cairns port.

3. Articles and letters in the Cairns Post

15 May

TWO senior State Government ministers are not ruling out developing the Port of Cairns, including dredging.  Queensland Treasurer Curtis Pitt and State Development Minister Anthony Lynham are calling on Ports North to re-examine their Environmental Impact Statement on dredging Trinity Inlet shipping channel.  Dredging has been ruled out on economic and environmental grounds by the government, with sea dredge spoil dumping estimated to cost $100 million and land based $365 million.  “What we’ve said is that this EIS doesn’t rule out future port development, what it does is say the options that are on the table … are not viable options,” Mr Pitt said.  “What we’ve said is that Ports North, as the proponent can go back, recast that EIS and make another proposal which has an emphasis on onshore disposal.  CONDITIONS: State Development Minister Anthony Lynham said any dredging of Trinity Inlet would have to include land-based spoil disposal at Ports North’s cost.  “It could mean that they need to change focus from being on large cruise shipping to ensure they can look at a suite of works that may need to happen in terms of future port expansion.”  He said that might include expanding the Reef Fleet terminal, a barge ramp or a wharf expansion.  Dr Lyneham said any dredging would have to include land-based spoil disposal at Ports North’s cost.  The Cairns Regional Council has called on the government to defer a final decision on channel dredging and to re-examine the proposal.  Ports North declined to comment.  Royal Caribbean International commercial director Sean Treacy, who was in Cairns yesterday preparing for the visit of the giant Legend of the Seas cruise ship next month, would not be drawn on the dredging issue.  He said the company would continue to work with governments and ports on the best way for their ships to visit.  Mr Treacy said the practise of using tender boats to transport passengers to shore at Yorkeys Knob was common for the company throughout the world.

14 May

A letter to the Cairns Post Editor: Mr Hitchcock’s letter, 9-5, stated ‘Peter Senior’s opinion piece (2-5) is very misleading’.  This letter responds to some points in his letter.  Far from being misleading, I have provided credible evidence for every point I made in my opinion piece.  Warren Entsch, in his article also on 9-5, congratulated me for my ‘very considered contribution’.

Mr Hitchcock is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.  For instance, a 1942 photo on Warren Entsch’s office wall shows the East Trinity site, far from being ‘largely rehabilitated wetlands’, was mainly salt-pans and grasslands, similar to Portsmith. 

Mr Hitchcock had attended last December’s meeting of the local Volunteer Fire Brigade, he would have heard the overwhelming support for the dredging and East Trinity reclamation – except, of course, from the CAFNEC attendee.

If Mr Hitchcock and his colleagues had not strong-armed Peter Beattie’s government into cancelling the approval for the proposed world-class Royal Reef Resort at East Trinity, which included resolving all pollution problems, then Beattie’s Government would not have had to pay $10m of tax-payers money to NatWest Bank, plus the continuing maintenance costs.

6 May

A letter to the Cairns Post Editor: ‘For the Queensland Government and Ports North not to reconsider immediately their policy decision not to dredge Trinity Inlet and allow continuing expansion of the Port and the economic development of our City defies all logic.  Overwhelming evidence in the draft EIS giving scientific advice that an alternative off shore dump site is suitable and would not be damaging to the Great Barrier Reef and the environment.  Alternatively the EIS preferred site for on shore disposal area, a section of the 10 sq km East Trinity freehold property owned by the State Government, must be given greater consideration.  This is more important following the reported statements from the highly qualified Engineer and Consultant, Peter Senior published on Saturday last where he detailed the potential revenue to the State from development of that property could cover the entire cost of the dredging operation and secure a future suburban growth area for the City only one km from the CBD.’

2 May

An article in the Cairns Post was heavily edited from the submitted copy.   The article below shows words as-published in black, with the words edited out in red:

The Cairns Shipping Development Project draft Environmental Impact Statement draft report (EIS) was released on Saturday 18 April.

  State Government Treasurer Curtis Pitt announced that, on the basis of the draft EIS, the state government had decided against approving the proposed Trinity Inlet dredging.

  The overwhelming reaction of numerous callers on Cairns’ radio talkback was extreme dismay and disillusionment.

  Most Cairns people are now thoroughly confused.   Little wonder as there are so many conflicting views and reports.

  This article presents a summary of the main factors relating to the proposed dredging and draft EIS, then proposes a way forward.

  The economic analysis presented in the draft EIS report indicates the dredging project has a very strong benefit-cost ratio, with additional income benefits to Cairns over 25 years estimated in present values, with future benefits discounted at 7% per annum, totalling $1.3 Billion.

  The $4.2m draft EIS is just that: a ‘draft’.  Proper process requires a draft EIS to be published, inviting submissions to the Coordinator General’s office for consideration, then a final EIS.  The Coordinator General then required by law to send[s] a recommendation to the government.  No final EIS exists, so presumably the Government has not received the recommendation.  What then is the government’s decision based on?  Many articles in main stream media focus on alarmist reports and views.  For example, TV7 local news often shows a video with brown water around a dredge.

  This video, provided and paid for by ‘green’ organisations, clearly suggests pollution.

  The major objectors to the proposed dredging comprise four broad groupings:

  • People who believe the scaremongering, many of whom genuinely care about the environment, some with almost religious fervour;
  • A few shrill extreme environmentalists who are anti-development (recall their attempts to prevent Skyrail);
  • Unelected organisations with other agendas such as the UN, WWF and Greenpeace (UNFCCC’s Christiana Figueres said: “We are setting ourselves the task.. to change the [world’s] economic development model”);
  • Several government departments such as GBRMPA (GBRMPA’s alarmist GBR 2014 report largely blamed climate change for their dire forecasts concerning the Great Barrier Reef,  mentioning ‘climate change’ 365 times).

  The draft EIS estimates off-shore sea disposal would cost about $100m.  [Some] Reports based on scientific evidence conclude disposal near shore would not be harmful or environmentally damaging.

  The EIS Terms of Reference includes: ‘Provide descriptions of all feasible alternative land-based spoil disposal.’  And ‘Sufficient baseline economic data to underpin a comprehensive assessment of the direct, indirect, cumulative, costs and impacts of the project.’

  The report selects the 964.3 ha state-owned East Trinity site as the preferred option for land-based spoil disposal.  Most of that area was in continual agricultural production since the first survey in 1894.

  CSR purchased the property in 1971 and expanded it by constructing a bund wall, then re-contouring the area into productive cane fields. [But when] Cane production [became] was uneconomical, so the land was sold to developers.

  The report notes ‘In the early 1990s a proposal to develop a satellite city on the site attracted community attention, but failed to gain approval. In 2000, the Queensland Government purchased the site.’  More accurately, the Royal Reef Resort proposal for this site was approved in 1995.

  But the Labor State government succumbed to persuasion from green pressure-groups and overrode the approval.

  The developer went into receivership.  National Westminster Bank commenced legal action against the State, resulting in a $10m out-of-court settlement.

  The draft EIS assesses placing spoil on 518 ha of low land at East Trinity.

  This area is highly degraded, costing about $500,000 for annual maintenance that has failed to fix the degradation.

  CSIRO advice to cover this area with spoil was ignored.  The report’s benefit-cost of developing this 518 ha concludes development would be uneconomical.

  The whole site comprises 518 ha plus partly-raised 428 ha.  The latter could be developed immediately, but the report ignores this option.

  Applying figures from the report to developing the 428 ha area indicates sufficient profit to pay for all the dredging and treatment costs, leaving the 518 ha to be developed later.  The report also ignores related benefits such as providing work for Yarrabah people, and funding potential tourist trails on adjacent wetlands.

  It seems the State and Federal governments is unlikely to be convinced that evidence-based science concludes responsible near-shore dumping of spoil would not be detrimental to the reef – political factors appear to outweigh evidence.

  Cairns now urgently needs a credible and visionary leader to assemble a well-respected team to develop as soon as possible a new proposal to achieve the many benefits to Cairns that will accrue when the dredging is completed.

  Optimising port operations and tourist potential is critical to Cairns’ future.  Surely an option that meets environmental standards and is self-funding, or requires minor taxpayer funding, would be acclaimed by our state government?

30 April

Crawford backs dredging on Trinity Inlet. BARRON River MP Craig Crawford has broken political ranks to back the dredging of Trinity Inlet. He says the widening and deepening of the channel to accommodate larger cruise ships may not happen in the short term, but needs to happen eventually – as long as the Queensland Government has the money to fund it. “I would like to see it happen. What’s restricting us at the moment is certainly the finances for it,’’ he said. The Palaszczuk Government dumped the Cairns Shipping Development Project about two weeks ago, saying there was no economic or environmental case for it. The draft environmental impact statement for the project stated the minimum cost would be $100 million, but only if the 4.4 million cubic metres of spoil was dumped offshore. It would cost an estimated $365 million for land-based disposal options. The LNP had committed $40 million for the project. Mr Crawford believed the dredging of the port could still go ahead, if more research was done on the income generation associated with the cruise industry. “The projection for cruising in Cairns is certainly good, pushing out into 2025, that sort of thing,’’ he said. “We don’t have to do this thing this year, and we certainly don’t have to do this sort of thing next year. “This is not a situation right now where if we don’t dredge the inlet right now, we’re going to miss the boat totally on these sorts of things. “We’ve got a window, so in time, hopefully we can get what we need. At the moment, the restriction is money.” He said he had faith the Labor Cabinet had made the right decision to knock back the proposal. “Coming into the campaign with this government, there was a lot of election commitments given by all sides and a lot of discussion with all groups about financial management and debt reduction and all things like that,’’ he said. “Now we’ve got a Treasurer who’s working on that and obviously trying to make sound financial decisions. “Throwing $365 million at dredging the inlet tomorrow probably wouldn’t be one of his best financial decisions. So I trust him in that, but I do want to see this done at some point in the future, when it’s right.” Treasurer and Mulgrave MP Curtis Pitt said since the EIS was announced, he’d made it clear alternative proposals for port expansion and other initiatives to support the cruise ship industry in Cairns may be considered. Cairns and Far North Environment Centre marine programs co-ordinator Josh Coates invited Mr Crawford to contact the centre to be told about the potential environmental impact of the dredging.

 27  April

Cairns Mayor Bob Manning responds to Rob Pyne’s dredging Facebook rant. Share.  FIGHTING WORDS: Cairns mayor Bob Manning has hit back at a dredging social media spray by Cairns MP Rob Pyne, urging residents to respond to the released EIS in the hopes people power will put it back on the agenda.  CAIRNS mayor Bob Manning has hit back at a dredging social media spray by Cairns MP Rob Pyne, urging residents to respond to the released draft EIS in the hopes people power will put it back on the agenda.  Last week Mr Pyne took to Facebook to slam the “big end of town” and vow the project “will not happen”.  He later stood by the comments and said health and education services should take priority.  But Mr Manning took a swipe back, warning such statements could be unpopular with the electorate.  “When you get involved in any form of political life people will judge you,” he said.  “The saying is the public always gets it right and in three years they will make their decision.”  Mr Manning has already called for the $40 million slated for the project to remain in Cairns.  But Mr Pyne said yesterday he was unaware the money was even available.  “Is there $40 million? If there is of course I want it spent in Cairns,” he said.  “But if there is $40 million I want it spent on a special school, I want it spent on a unit for brain injuries.”  Last week Mr Pyne took to Facebook to slam the “big end of town” and vow the project “will not happen”. The public have been given until June 1 to respond to the EIS and Mr Manning said it was vital people were aware of its conclusions.  He said he would never support anything that put the Great Barrier Reef or rainforest in jeopardy and believed the study affirmed neither were in trouble.  Industry group Cruise Down Under is urging the Government to consider the economic benefits of dredging of about $1.3 billion.  CDU general manager Jill Abel said a study showed cruise ships injected $12.6 million into the city’s economy in 2013-14.  “Here is an industry that wants to bring tourists and their spending to Far North Queensland in large numbers,” Ms Abel said.  “Having recently returned from our key international trade event, Cruise Shipping Miami, the message is very clear that Cairns is a must-see destination from a passenger perspective, and integral to the eastern seaboard itineraries.”

25 April

Rob Pyne’s rant against business is unfounded.  Cairns MP Rob Pyne’s outburst against the business sector is about as undiplomatic as you’ll ever see from a politician.  CAIRNS MP Rob Pyne’s outburst against the business sector is about as undiplomatic as you’ll ever see from a politician.  The ALP member has been elected to represent everyone in the community – to single out a sector that employs tens of thousands of workers is foolish, if not naive and inflammatory. Industry and commerce quite rightly supports the dredging of Trinity Inlet because it would have brought bigger cruise liners, cargo vessels and navy ships to Cairns and provided a $1.3 billion boost to the economy as well as lucrative taxes and other government fees this administration desperately needs. The Cairns Chamber of Commerce and Advance Cairns have called for the original $40 million promised for the work to be quarantined and even be used for a smaller dredging project.  But Mr Pyne wants none of that.  He prefers the money to be spent on health, something that is needed, but an area that does not create as many new jobs or generate money.  He really starts off badly by describing business as the “big end of town” and then his Facebook rant continues with “your unsustainable, unfunded and illogical ‘capital dredge proposal’ will not fly. It does not stack up and it will not happen”.  He then goes on to say that he is only interested in improved health, education, training, disability, community and sporting opportunities for the “ordinary people” of Cairns.  Industry and commerce quite rightly supports the dredging of Trinity Inlet because it would have brought bigger cruise liners, but Cairns MP Rob Pyne believes it will only suit “the big end of town”. Mr Pyne singles out “Tories” (conservatives) and says he will only deal with health board chairman and conservative Bob Norman.  The post also contains a photo of a man lighting a cigar with an American banknote.  Mr Pyne’s criticism is sure to alienate a large section of the community and appears to show he is not concerned about business, the sector which employs the most people in his electorate and produces the billions of dollars needed to keep the economy humming.  It’s no secret that the city’s economy continues to struggle and still needs a major project such as Aquis or the Aspial towers to start as soon as possible.  Fortunately his colleague, Mulgrave MP and State Treasurer Curtis Pitt, has a far better grasp of what makes this city tick and will achieve a lot more than Mr Pyne’s list of priorities.  At least our business leaders have shown the sense not to react to his surge of illogical rage.

20 April

LNP spent $4.2 million on failed Cairns Trinity Inlet dredge study. DREDGE DIFFICULTY: A huge amount of money was spent on finding out dredging Trinity Inlet is not feasible. TAXPAYERS forked out $4.2 million for a study which strongly found against the dredging of Trinity Inlet. [Editor’s note: these first two paragraphs are totally incorrect.] The State Opposition’s infrastructure spokesman Tim Nicholls yesterday revealed how much the Newman government contributed to the Cairns Shipping Development Project, which was knocked back by Labor on Friday. The long-awaited draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the widening and deepening of the city’s shipping channel was released on Friday, showing there was no environmental nor economic case for the project. The 3000-page report stated the minimum cost of the project would be $100 million – but only if the 4.4 million cubic metres of spoil was dumped offshore. Both parties have committed to preventing dredge spoil from being dumping within Great Barrier Reef waters. The LNP promised $40 million towards the project in 2012 as an election commitment. In a statement yesterday, Mr Nicholls said it was disappointing the Palaszczuk Government was “pandering to the Greens” with no thought or plan on how it would open up tourism or boost the economy and jobs in the Far North. “The money spent on this project is an investment in the future of Cairns and unfortunately the Treasurer has dismissed this project too quickly without looking at all the options or considering funding partnerships with the private sector,’’ he said. The former Queensland treasurer said with the ever-increasing size of new cruise ships, it was essential the port was positioned to respond. “Dredging Trinity Inlet would have provided access for larger cruise ships, boosting economic and tourism benefits for the region,’’ he said. “It is now on Labor to detail what their plan is to bolster and support industry, tourism and create jobs in Cairns.” He said the report was not released before the election as the Co-ordinator-General had to take into account the changing Federal Government position on dredge spoil dumping. His spokeswoman did not respond when asked if the LNP would still push for the dredging of Trinity Inlet. Cairns and Far North Environment Centre marine programs co-ordinator Josh Coates said the project was never necessary, never environmentally responsible, and did not represent a good use of taxpayers’ money. “The fact is that there is no need to expand the port for larger cruise ships, which continue to visit Cairns transporting passengers to shore at Yorkeys Knob,’’ he said. “We have welcomed the State and Federal governments’ commitment to put a stop to new dredge spoil dumping offshore in the Great Barrier Reef marine park. “This ban should be extended to all World Heritage areas to address dumping elsewhere in Queensland.” He said while the Government had ruled out funding the project and released the EIS for legal reasons, it was still important for people to have their say on the project.

JCU Trinity Inlet dredge report tells of damage. RULED OUT: Increased dredging of Trinity Inlet to allow larger cruise ships to dock in Cairns has been quashed by a number of sources. An independent study into the economic benefits of cruise shipping has revealed the industry would be of little-to-no benefit in Cairns. The findings have been released after an unrelated State Government review rejected a plan to grant extra dredging permits for Trinity Inlet to allow “mega” cruise liners to dock in Cairns. James Cook University’s report into the economic opportunities and risk of cruise tourism in Cairns, which will be released today, concludes that even if every person onboard a major cruise liner made a day trip to the reef or Kuranda, the net benefit for local companies would be negligible. The $10,000 study was commissioned by the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS). “The price of a shore excursion purchased onboard is typically marked up between 70 per cent to 200 per cent, with less than half that amount paid to excursion operators,” the report states. “The swift arrival and departure of high volumes of cruise passengers can put pressure on local tourism capacities, degrade the natural resources upon which they depend, and lower the overall level of tourist satisfaction.” The report states the average spend of an international cruise passenger in Cairns is about $200 a day, 66 per cent higher than domestic tourists. It comes just days after the Palaszczuk government released a 3000-page scientific report showing that dredging the inlet would do untold environmental damage. AMCS Great Barrier Reef campaign director Felicity Wishart said the report showed dredging was not necessary for the Cairns tourism economy to access the benefits of the cruise industry. “Dredging … could result in serious damage to the environment – which is the reason people want to come here in the first place,’’ she said. Advance Cairns CEO Mark Matthews, who read the government’s EIS yesterday, said there was no consideration of the impact of ships not being able to offload passengers at the current facilities at Yorkeys Knob due to bad weather. “The researcher has not spoken to any of the cruise lines,’’ he said. “Their information is taken from annual reports, they acknowledge that some of their data cannot be verified.” Ports North chairman Brett Moller said dredging could only proceed if it was fully funded by government and “the Queensland Government has indicated that it will not be funding the project.” Cairns Chamber of Commerce CEO Deb Hancock still backed expansion of Trinity Inlet to attract larger vessels. “While the Government’s decision is not to proceed with the port expansion project, the allocated funds should be used to develop portside or other infrastructure for our future economic development.”

18  April

Trinity Inlet dredging canned after Environmental Impact Statement raises issues.  CAIRNS’ potential as a mega-cruise ship and navy hub is sunk after the State Government used environmental and financial factors to stop the required dredging of Trinity Inlet.  The move is sure to anger business leaders hoping for more cruise passengers in Cairns. Treasurer Curtis Pitt yesterday released the long-awaited draft Environmental Impact Statement which he said showed there was no case in favour of dredging. “The $40 million the Newman Government committed to the project in 2012 was politically cynical and misleading because it was never enough to make the project viable,” he said. “The proposal, which includes dumping dredge spoil at sea, would cost more than $100 million and the land-based dumping options about $365 million.” Releasing the document is a legislative requirement but the Newman administration refused to make it public prior to the January election. LACKING BENEFIT: Treasurer Curtis Pitt yesterday released the long-awaited draft Environmental Impact Statement into dredging Trinity Inlet, which he said showed there was no case in favour of dredging. Mr Pitt said he wanted Queenslanders to have an accurate understanding of the economic costs and environmental impacts of dredging. “This EIS highlights the Newman government’s reckless disregard for the one of Queensland’s most valuable assets, the Great Barrier Reef,” he said. “It was never fully funded and anyone who looks at the proposal and its environmental and economic impacts can see why the government is not proceeding with it. “The Palaszczuk Government opposes the recommended option in the draft EIS to dump dredge spoil in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and World Heritage Area.” Ports North had proposed to widen and deepen the Port of Cairns channel in Trinity Inlet to allow the future expansion of the HMAS Cairns naval base and accommodate mega-class cruise ships. Great Barrier Reef Minister Steven Miles accused the LNP of having “complete disdain for Queensland’s environment” and putting election pledges ahead of sound economic policy. “We’re not going to waste $40 million subsidising a dredging project which has now been exposed as environmentally and economically unsustainable,” he said. “The money the LNP wanted to waste on this unviable project would be far better spent on frontline services or job-generating projects, including initiatives in Far North Queensland.” HOPES DASHED: Ports North had proposed to widen and deepen the Port of Cairns channel in Trinity Inlet to allow the future expansion of the HMAS Cairns naval base and accommodate mega-class cruise ships. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE Source: News Corp Australia. The Great Barrier Reef supports about 70,000 full time jobs and contributes $5.7 billion a year to the Australian economy. State Development Minister Anthony Lynham said on that basis alone the dredging proposal had no merit. “When people look at the EIS they will see why the only option is to discontinue the project,” he said. “That’s why the government, in line with its election commitment, has decided to withdraw the money allocated by the Newman government. “The Great Barrier Reef needs to be protected not only as a unique natural wonder, but also because of its economic importance.” Copies of the EIS will be available at the Cairns City Library from April 20 to June 1. Electronic copies can be ordered by phoning 4052 3888. To lodge a submission on the draft plan, click here.

23 March

A Letter to the Editor in the Cairns Post 20 March: The article ‘Port EIS release delayed – Labor tardiness questioned’ (18-03) is very worrying.    The Cairns Post is to be congratulated for requesting a copy of the draft EIS under the Right to Information laws, subsequently denied by the Coordinator General.  The department says there is an “intrinsic responsibility” to not disclose this multi-million dollar taxpayer-funded EIS.    Cairns Labor MP Rob Pyne notes this denial is “undemocratic”.  The delay and denial are also disgraceful and completely unacceptable.    It appears that a tiff between Ports North and the Coordinator General has somehow managed to delay progressing this project and the major economic benefits it will bring to Cairns.    The question must be asked: who is running our government?  A few unelected bureaucrats, or our elected representatives?  Hopefully this denial will be a catalyst to force immediate progress of this vital project.

 20 March

An article in the Cairns Post 20 March: Cairns Post article 200315

19 March

An article in the Cairns Post 19 March: A REPORT into the potential dredging of Cairns Port is expected to be publicly released “within weeks”. Cairns MP Rob Pyne has spoken with Minister for State Development and Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Dr Anthony Lynham about the draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Cairns Shipping Development Project, which has been locked away by the government since late last year. The Minister’s department blocked the release of the taxpayer-funded document after it was requested under Right To Information laws by the Cairns Post. Mr Pyne said Dr Lynham gave him an undertaking the 3000-page report would be released publicly after an upcoming Cabinet meeting. He could not say, however, how soon that would be, instead saying he would be “disappointed” if it was any longer than the next two months. “All I can say is it’ll be tabled over coming weeks and discussed by Cabinet, and then made public,’’ he said. Mr Pyne had previously questioned the department’s transparency but said the latest development had restored his faith in the Labor ­Government. He said the Far Northern community needed the report to inform the debate about whether Trinity Inlet should be widened and deepened to attract larger cruise ships to the region. “We need to look at the report and look at whether it actually stacks up,’’ he said. “I think the report will tell us if such expenditure would be supported or such an investment would stack up, in terms of benefits to the Cairns ­community. “It will, very importantly, look at any environmental costs as well.” Ports North submitted the EIS to the Queensland Coordinator-General and the Federal Government’s Department of Environment late last year. The Newman administration didn’t allow the document’s release before the January election. Cairns and Far North Environment Centre director Angelika Ziehrl welcomed the EIS finally being made public. “CAFNEC is looking forward to this finally being released so the public and CAFNEC can comb through it,’’ she said. Green groups have raised concerns the large quantity of sediment generated by dredging could impact the marine environment.

18 March

Two Cairns Post articles, 18 March: Cairns MP Rob Pyne questions government decision to block port study from public release.  THE transparency of the Queensland Government has been questioned by one of its own Labor MPs after it blocked the release of the ­report into the proposed dredging of Cairns Port. The Department of State Development has denied The Cairns Post’s request under Right to Information laws for a copy of the draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Cairns Shipping Development Project.  The long-awaited report was due to be released for public comment late last year but is still under consideration by the Co-ordinator General.  The department says there is an “intrinsic responsibility” to not disclose the taxpayer-funded EIS, which the Co-ordinator General needs to be satisfied adequately covers the terms of reference.  “The information was ­received in circumstances which would make it unacceptable conduct for the ­receiver to disclose the information in a way the giver has not authorised,’’ a departmental officer wrote.  Once the Co-ordinator ­approves the EIS, it will be ­released for public and state government advisory agency consultation for six weeks.  The Newman Government committed to fully funding the EIS as part of its $40 million investment in the project.  Cairns Labor MP Rob Pyne said for the department to deny the document’s release under RTI was “undemocratic.”  “These things need to be transparent and the document should be released for people to talk about,’’ he said.  Advance Cairns CEO Mark Matthews said it was in the ­region’s best interests to see the report, to have a way forward for the dredging project.  The Office of the Co-ordinator General did not respond to questions about when the report would be released.

Future in the balance.  Far Northern leaders are adamant the region’s economic future hinges on a plan to develop the Cairns Port.  The Cairns shipping Development Project promises to inject $634  million of 25 years into the local economy and create more jobs by dredging the Trinity Inlet to accommodate large cruise ships.  But complete bans on sea dumping proposed by the state and federal government could jeopardize the project.  Federal Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch said a land site must be found for dredge spoil, no matter what the cost.  Cairns Mayor Bob Manning was confident port development and a healthy reef could co-exist. “It’s inevitable that our region is going to grow and it’s inevitable the port will need to grow”, he said.

11 March

Cairns Post article, 11 March: ‘New bid to release Inlet EIS.  The time for talking about releasing the Trinity Inlet Environmental Impact Study into dredging is over, according to Advance Cairns CEO Mark Matthews.  And Cairns MP Rob Pyne agrees.  Both have been in discussions for release of the document which is stuck in the Coordinator General’s office.  “As an organisation we have been calling on government to release the EIS and get on with it,” Mr Matthews said.  “We asked for that in our early engagement with government and in my first meeting with Rob, so we expect that will be forthcoming.”  Mr Pyne has been applying what political pressure he can and insists he won’t be stone-walled.  “I wrote, emailed and phoned requesting its release last month and I’ll do that again today,” Mr Pyne said.  “Some people have foregone conclusions about what they want to see happen in the inlet, but I want the EIS released so those people who are thoughtful can read it and base their opinions on something that has rigorous content.”  Ports North submitted the EIS to the Queensland Coordinator General and the Federal Government’s Department of environment in November last year.  The Newman administration didn’t allow the document’s release before the January election.  The new Labour Government is yet to make a move on the document.’

9 March

A letter in the Cairns Post on 9 March noted: ‘Deputy Premier Jackie Trad has stated that strategic assets will be retained, but ‘assets such as unused land and vacant buildings will go under the hammer.’  Perhaps Ms Trad includes the 946.3 ha (that’s nearly 10 square kilometres) State-owned unused land at East Trinity?  The proceeds from this sale could well pay all the costs of dredging the Trinity Inlet Channel as well as providing land to place the dredging spoil.  It appears that only about 500 ha will be required for the spoil, so there is ample land left to sell to developers to pay for the dredging.  Perhaps this is what Jackie Trad is flagging?’

 27 February

Cairns Post article, 27 February:  Still no word on Cairns port Environmental Impact Statement. The release of a long-awaited study into the dredging of Cairns’ port has been further stalled by the new Queensland Government. It’s now been five months since the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Cairns Shipping Development Project was last expected to be made public. The state’s Co-ordinator General has now delayed the report’s release, citing the Palaszczuk Government’s policy on dredging within the Great Barrier Reef marine park needs to be taken into account. Prior to the state election, the ALP committed to preventing dredge spoil associated with the project being dumped within the marine park. A Department of State Development, Infrastructure and Planning spokesman said the 3000-page document would not be released at this stage. “The implications of the new State Government’s policy statements and position on the project need to be taken into account,’’ he said. “In particular, the Co-ordinator General is seeking the advice of the proponent on how it intends to meet the government’s commitment of no sea-disposal.” Cairns MP Rob Pyne, who previously vowed to make the report public, said he would continue to push for the study’s release. “As we speak I’ve emailed the minister requesting its release and awaiting reply,’’ he said. “How can you have an intelligent public discussion if this information isn’t made public?” Widening and deepening of Trinity Inlet will allow the city to accommodate larger cruise vessels in its main channel. Ports North has proposed to remove 4.4 million cubic metres of dredge material from the inlet and deposit it either at sea or on land. One of the sites under consideration for dumping the sediment is inside the Great Barrier Reef marine park. Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection and Minister for the Great Barrier Reef, Steven Miles, said the Co-ordinator General was assessing if the EIS was “adequate and suitable” for public release. “The Government was elected on a platform of protecting the Great Barrier Reef, which I know is important to many Cairns residents and the Cairns economy,’’ he said. “Consequently, the Government will not support any proposal that involves the dumping of dredge spoil offshore. “I would expect that the Ports North EIS has included a land-based disposal option (Editor’s note: assessment of land-based options is a requirement of the EIS Terms of Reference – see below). “When the EIS is released for public comment my department will assess the project and provide advice to the Co-ordinator-General.” Cairns and Far North Environment Centre marine programs co-ordinator Josh Coates said the project should be shelved.

3 February

An article in the Cairns Post, 3 February:  CAIRNS MP Rob Pyne has vowed to publicly release a study into the dredging of Trinity Inlet – as long as he has the power to.  The former Cairns Regional councillor has cemented Labor’s commitment to preventing 4.4 million cubic metres of dredge spoil associated with the Cairns Shipping Development project from being disposed within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.  Mr Pyne also said if his party formed government he would endeavour to publicly release the long-awaited Environmental Impact Statement – which despite being completed late last year, has yet to see the light of day.  “If I have the power to make it public, I will make it public,’’ he said.  “The public paid for (the report).”  He said his opinion of the project, to widen and deepen the city’s main shipping channel, was that it still “needed to stack up”.  Ports North has proposed to remove dredge material from the inlet and deposit it either at sea or on land.  Sites under consideration for dumping of the material include East Trinity, Admiralty Island, on cane land in southern Cairns near the inlet, along the Esplanade and near the Cairns Airport.  Five offshore sites were also under consideration, including areas within the marine park.  Queensland’s former Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney late last week blamed Ports North for the delay in releasing the project’s EIS, which was initially expected to happen in September.  In a brief statement yesterday, Ports North chairman Brett Moller said the authority had submitted the draft EIS to the Queensland Co-ordinator General last year.

30 January 2015

An article in the Cairns Post, 28 January:  ‘DEPUTY Premier Jeff Seeney has blamed Ports North for the delay in releasing a study into the potential dredging of Trinity Inlet.  The Environmental Impact Statement, which will determine whether the deepening and widening of Cairns’ port should proceed, has still not been made public by the government.  The draft EIS for the project, which involves the removal and disposal of 4.4 million cubic metres of dredge spoil from the channel, was initially expected to be released in September after being submitted to the Co-ordinator General.  Mr Seeney, who visited the Tableland yesterday on the election trail, told The Cairns Post he did not know when the EIS would be released.  The Minister for State Development, Infrastructure and Planning said Ports North had not yet addressed Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt’s new regulations to ban dredge spoil dumping in the Great Barrier Reef marine park.  “The Federal Minister took a decision in relation to offshore disposal,’’ he said.  “So we had to go back to the proponents and say, well the Federal Minister has said this is the situation and you have to address that situation in your application.”  He said the EIS did not need to be rewritten, only one particular section of the report.  “That section of the EIS that deals with the disposal of the material now needs to look at other disposal options, be it further out to sea or on land or whatever,’’ he said.  He could not say when the report would be completed or released.  Ports North refused to answer questions yesterday about whether it had resubmitted its EIS, and what – if anything – it needed to change in the report to address the Federal Government’s new regulations.’

28 January 2015

A letter to the Cairns Post Editor, 28 January, noted: ‘Dear Editor, ‘Resort project promised all help Newman can give’ (24-01).  Good one, Premier!  Most Cairns people are very frustrated about yet another delay of the dredging EIS.  The LNP will lose many votes if they tell us nothing before the election except that we’ll just have keep waiting.  Most Cairns people support ruling out dumping spoil at sea.  In any case there is a much better alternative: pump the spoil on to the lower 500 ha of the State-owned property at East Trinity, and sell some of the residual 446 ha to pay for the dredging and treatment costs.   This will also enable fixing the pollution there, as recommended by the CSIRO.’ 

‘How about two more promises, Premier?  Commit to supporting pumping the dredging spoil on to the State-owned property at East Trinity if the final EIS recommends this, and repeat your previous promise to fund up to $90 million dollars if necessary.’

12 January 2015

An article in the Cairns Post, 12 January, noted: Business leaders blast delay in vital dredging report.  A DECISION to delay the release of the long awaited Environmental Impact Statement for the dredging of Trinity Inlet to widen and deepen the shipping channel has been savaged by two leading business groups in Cairns. Advance Cairns and the Cairns Chamber of Commerce have blasted the State ­Government for holding back its release until after the ­January 31 election. Originally it was earmarked for a September release last year but has been dogged by hold-ups. Dredging of the channel was an LNP election promise in 2012 with $40 million pledged towards the cost. At issue is whether to dump the spoil at sea, which is cheaper, or on land. Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney said the Co-ordinator General was currently considering the Trinity Inlet EIS. “As the Co-ordinator General adheres to caretaker conventions, the EIS will not be released during the election campaign,” he said. Advance Cairns chief executive Mark Matthews said the delay was frustrating. “While we appreciate the assessment process and the conventions of a caretaker government, it is disappointing to see that the only key election promise for Cairns made by the government prior to the previous election has yet to be fulfilled,” he said. “We have no entertainment precinct, no shipping development. Is the government serious about growth and prosperity in the north? “And if so, then let’s see a clear commitment and action to deliver major infrastructure projects for our region.” Chamber chief executive Deb Hancock said the decision was “very disappointing”. “It’s very convenient to hide behind the conventions of a caretaker government,” she said. Ms Hancock said the ­government would have known when the election was to be called and “made a conscious decision not to release the information”. “It was an election promise (in 2012) and they have failed the community,” she said. “We would like to hear how the LNP government will continue economic growth, particularly in the shipping area.” She said the LNP had three years to honour the promise, which included a $40 million funding commitment. “They have taken no action with regard to implementation and even to make a decision,” Ms Hancock said. Tourism Tropical North Queensland declined to ­comment.’

6 January 2015

Another article in the Cairns Post, 6 January, noted: ‘THE Queensland Government has been urged to release a study into the potential dredging of Cairns Port before the State election is called (Editor’s note: the election was called for 31st January later that same morning), or shelve the project completely.  The draft EIS for the project, which involves the removal and disposal of 4.4 million cubic metres of dredge spoil from the channel, was initially expected to be released in September (Editor’s note: the first release date promised was May 2014, then September, then ‘the end of the 2014’ – after missing all 3 promises, no date has been announced since). In a statement yesterday, however, Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney said the report was still being assessed by the Co-ordinator General. “The EIS process is rigorous, thorough and undertaken without political interference,’’ he said. Before the 2012 election, the Newman Government committed to dredging Trinity Inlet so larger cruise liners could enter and dock at the Port of Cairns. Advance Cairns CEO Mark Matthews said the LNP had yet to honour its commitment. “I think it’s beyond the time,” he said. “If it can’t go, it can’t happen, then let’s say it can’t happen and let’s get on with it. “The dragging on of this whole process causes a lot of confusion.” ‘

6 November 2014

Another article in the Cairns Post (6-11-14) was very supportive of expediting dredging the Trinity Inlet.  The article covering the visiting National Geographic MV Orion, with about 100 passengers disembarking, noted: ‘One of the world’s leading adventure travel companies is willing to bring more of its fleet to Cairns if the city’s shipping channel development goes ahead. ….. Australian business development director, Jeremy Lindblad, said if Trinity Inlet could be widened and deepened the company would look at bringing more of its vessels to Cairns.’

11 November 2014

Another article in the Cairns Post (11-11-14) reported: ‘Labor environment spokesman Mark Butler vows to stop dredge spoil dumping on Great Barrier Reef off Cairns.  FEDERAL Labor has committed to preventing dredge spoil from entering Great Barrier Reef waters if the Cairns ­Shipping Development project goes ahead.  The ALP announced yesterday, if re-elected, it would impose a ban on capital dredge spoil being dumped in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.  The Federal Opposition’s environment spokesman Mark Butler, in Cairns yesterday with his Queensland counterpart Jackie Trad, said 4.4 million cubic metres of dredge spoil associated with the widening and deepening of Trinity Inlet could only be dumped onshore.’

15  November 2014

More from the Cairns Post, 15  November: Secrecy shrouds Cairns Inlet dredge report  release.  …. Despite the office of Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt being uncertain about whether dredge material from the channel expansion was included in a proposed ban, Mr Entsch said there was clarity on the policy. “We can be absolutely definitive that there is a new position on dredge spoil disposal,” Mr Entsch said. “Any new proposals will be subject to this and the Federal Government is currently setting out the legal frameworks and legislative instruments to accompany it. “We can be crystal clear on this….In addition, I’ve spoken to Minister Hunt about it many times and he is well aware that I am vehemently opposed to water-based disposal – it will happen over my dead body.” ’

 23 April 2014

Another Cairns Post article, 23 April, spelt out The Federal Government’s thinking, preceding Labor environment spokesman, Mark Butler’s, similar announcement above:  ‘Five million cubic metres of dredging spoil is unlikely to be dumped at sea if a port development in Cairns goes ahead.    Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt yesterday met with Ports North to discuss the Cairns Shipping Development Project, which proposed to widen and deepen the shipping channel at Trinity Inlet for so-called mega-class ships.    “The overwhelming preference if anything were to happen in Cairns is for land-based disposal.” Mr Hunt said.  He backed Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch, who continues to advocate for spoil to be dumped at East Trinity near Yarrabah.  Mr Entsch said: “I absolutely think it’s critical that we go ahead and do this,  I believe the most appropriate site is …the degraded NatWest (land at East Trinity) and it can be done in an appropriate way, which actually will strengthen Cairns in many ways.” 

Cairns Post G20 magazine, September 2014

The Cairns Post G20 magazine, WORLD OF INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES, reproduced the double-page photo with the superimposed new residential area at East Trinity, as above, on pages 52-53 in an article describing a future vision of Cairns:

Cairns Post G20 magazine     Cairns Post, Cairns G20 magazine

An inside source revealed that the authors of this article were ‘strongly ticked off’ for including this photograph, and were directed to remove this and associated photos from the newspaper’s library.  The source did not know who made the initial complaint, or why Cairns Post reacted this way, but it is interesting to speculate when considering the ‘road-blocks’ noted above.

4. John MacKenzie’s radio talkback show

4 May

A 22-minute interview with Peter Senior can be listened to at Note: if necessary, copy the address and paste into your internet link box.

20 April

John MacKenzie kicked off over two hours of non-stop discussion on the State Government’s decision to turn down the dredging proposal with an interview with Cairns Regional Council Mayer Bob Manning.  Bob explained at length how this was a shocking and altogether wrong decision for many reasons.  Bob noted that all ‘the science’ showed there would be no problems if the proposed dredging spoil was placed in the proposed area at the North East end of the Trinity Inlet.  A later caller added that internationally-recognised reef experts, Dr Walter Starck and Professor Bob Carter, endorsed this view, noting all the inner areas between the land and reef already have some one metre of spoil at the bottom of the shallow sea from centuries of sediment drained for the land.   Other callers noted: the $365m cost stated in the draft EIS was excessively high, and ignored the potential for selling some or all of the excess State-owned land at East Trinity to pay for the dredging and treatment costs.  Several references were made to the two proposals linked at the start of this post.  Every caller presented additional information in dismay, and in some instances, disgust, that the State Government had made this decision before even waiting for submissions on the DRAFT EIS report.  The overall view was that Cairns leaders and the general public must make their views known to the State Representatives to dissuade them from this fundamentally wrong decision.  The following day’s show continued the theme for nearly two hours as well.

20 March

During an interview by John MacKenzie with Federal MP Warren Entsch on John’s Talkback show, 18 March 2015, Warren described his proposals for the dredging and East Trinity which are identical to the proposal in the Phase 1 report.

23 January 2015

The Honourable David Crisafulli MP, Queensland State Member for Mundingburra and Minister for Local Government said:  ‘…We do need to find a way to get that dredging done.  Now, there has been every roadblock put up that could possibly happen…..  My role in the next Government will be work with blokes like Trout, like King, like Kempton to strike a balance for our part of the world.’

Would David, had he still been Minister, have succeeded in changing Gavin King’s views,  as quoted below?  And how will the new Cairns Member, Rob Pyne address these points now Gavin King is no longer in a position to ‘road-block’?

  • ‘It would be 20 – 30 years before the land at East Trinity could be developed’ – thousands of other reclamations started development within a few years, including Portsmith and Trinity Park.
  • ‘It’s just unaffordable, certainly in the short-term…’ – Gavin continues to ignore the potential for revenue gains from development.
  • ‘A bridge would be required’ – not necessary, noting it is faster to drive from East Trinity to the CBD in rush-hour than from Palm Cover.
  • ‘The change by Federal Government regarding dumping spoil at sea caused Ports North to carry out considerably more assessments which had caused the delay’ – Not so; the final Terms of Reference were released in November 2013 requiring all land-based options to be fully assessed.  This was 4 months before Ports North let the EIS contract to ARUP.
  • Portsmith reclamation: ‘That was a century ago’ Portsmith reclamation was completed in the late 70s; many of the current buildings were completed in the 80s.

20 January 2015

A conversation between Queensland State Minister for the Environment,  Andrew Powell, and Michael Trout, Member for Barron River and Peter Senior covered the following points:

  1. Peter asked why Gavin King had said it would be 20 – 30 years before the land at East Trinity could be developed, then noting there was ample land currently available for development that would not be required for spoil placement, further noting such development could pay for all the costs of dredging and spoil treatment.  Andrew said they were aware of such options but it was necessary to wait for the EIS report.
  2. Peter asked why the EIS report was delayed so much past it’s original promise of May 2014, given the Terms of Reference had not changed since the original TOR published in November 2013, requiring full evaluation of all land-based options.  Responses from Andrew and Michael did not really address the question, noting again the need to await the Coordinator General’s completion of the EIS assessment.

15 January 2015

A conversation between Gavin King and Peter Senior covered the following points:

  1. Gavin said it would be 20 – 30 years before the land at East Trinity could be developed.  Peter noted that ‘only’ about 500 ha of the 946.3 ha of State-owned land at East Trinity was apparently required to place the spoil.  So the other 446.3 ha could potentially be available for development immediately, including the 168 ha of raised land at the North East end.
  2. Gavin said a bridge would be required.  Peter noted this was costed by GHD in the late 90s at $400m, so about $800m could be realistic now.  But a bridge is not needed, noting it takes longer to drive from Palm Cove to the CBD in the rush hour now than it takes to drive in from East Trinity.  A small, regular fast passenger ferry from East Trinity across the 1 Km of water to the Pier marina would probably attract considerable numbers of residents for work and pleasure.
  3. Gavin twice said that the change by Federal Government regarding dumping spoil at sea had caused Ports North to carry out considerable more assessments which had caused the delay.  Peter pointed out that the project Terms of Reference had not changed after the November 2013 update that was the basis for the ARUP contract.  Full assessment of all potential land options were a requirement of the original terms of reference, so nothing has changed.
  4. Gavin said Peter should talk with Ports North, as he had previously offered to arrange.  At that point, John MacKenzie terminated the discussion due to shortage of time.  Peter had been about to tell Gavin that Norm Whitney and he had three long meetings: first on 18/o4/13 with the Mayor and executives from Ports North; then 3/9/13 with Ports North executives plus ARUP consultants; then a month later with the ARUP environmental consultant at East Trinity; then 3/6/14 Peter met with the Mayor to discuss progress – we agreed, politely, to disagree on most points.   Ports North clearly indicated at the three meetings they considered on-land disposal would be a far more costly option with no benefit.
  5. An earlier conversation on this talkback show between Gavin and ‘Bill’ concerned the issue of Portsmith having been successfully reclaimed.  Gavin said this was ‘a century ago’.  In fact filling at Portsmith was mainly carried out during 1960’s and completed in late 1970’s.  Buildings at Portsmith, especially around Aumuller street and Redden Street, were constructed mainly during 1980’s.

5. TV7 News

During an interview on the TV7 Bold Report on 16  November, the Hon Julie Bishop, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party stated: ‘I have been involved in some detailed discussions about the Great Barrier Reef and Australia is committing to world best practise in the conservation and preservation of the Great Barrier Reef, and last week we ann0unced there would be no dumping of capital dredge waste in the marine park’.  How much clearer can the Federal Government be?

6. Background and history

The report at  Dredging and East Trinity opportunities 081214 presents details and several photographs that tell the story of East  Trinity.  Then you will be able to compare this proposal with the Ports North EIS report when it is released by the Coordinator General. 

Ports North originally stated the EIS report would be presented to the Coordinator General last May, some 8 months ago.  Release to the general public would be authorised by the Coordinator General at a later date, expected to be announced in the Cairns Post.  Further information is noted below in.

Terms of Reference for the EIS

The Coordinator General’s Terms of Reference for the EIS report include the requirement for Ports North to present:

  •  An outline of the alternative options considered and reasons for selecting the proposed development option.
  • Detail the criteria used to determine the alternatives and provide sufficient detail to convey why certain options or courses of action are preferred and why others are rejected.
  • Provide descriptions of all feasible alternative land-based spoil disposal.
  • Sufficient baseline economic data to underpin a comprehensive assessment of the direct, indirect, cumulative, costs and impacts of the project.
  • The indirect impacts likely to flow to other industries and economies from developing the project, and the implications of the project for future development.

The EIS should therefore include full responses to the five points above with regard to the East Trinity option without the need for further extensive investigation. 

Ports North initially stated the report would be delivered in May 2014.  Later the delivery date was stated as September 2014.  In an article in the Cairns Post, 9 August 2014, Brett Moller, chairman of Ports North, wrote: ‘After 18 months of studies, the project EIS is due for submission to government later this year’.  A later statement from Ports North noted an ‘October’ completion.  On  6 November Chairman Moller told John MacKenzie on his radio show the report would completed ‘by the end of this year’.  The report will be available for public release when the Coordinator-General’s office authorise this.

Options East Trinity

Other approaches could be suited to the East Trinity property such as a large marina, residential and commercial properties, and a large resort with a golf course, as was proposed then approved by Queensland State Premier Peter Beattie’s government in 1995 (this proposal is described at the end of this post).  Imagine the now-familar depiction of the amazing Aquis resort superimposed on the graphic below:

East Trinity with marina 290714, cropped

The issues were captured brilliantly in a cartoon in the Cairns Post, 16 August 2014:

Cairns Post cartoon, 160814

Cruise ships

Cairns is a small idyllic city on the North-East coast of tropical Queensland.  The Great Barrier Reef, rain forest and glorious tropical weather are just three features that attract visitors from across Australia and the rest of the world.

Many cruise ships visit Cairns, docking at the cruise terminal adjacent to the central area with its many restaurants, entertainment facilities and the lagoon by the marina.  Larger cruise ships have to anchor a few kilometres North of Cairns off Yorkeys Knob.  Passengers come ashore in tenders.  A Channel 7 TV News item on 28 November 2012 interviewed several passengers who were dismayed at the long boat trip to get ashore, then the lack of welcome, unlike other ports they visited that have music, gifts of flowers and shelter.  Queensland State MP, Gavin King, suggested putting up a welcome sign. It was dismaying to hear a cruise director from the Celebrity Solstice, visiting Yorkeys Knob on 4 December 2012, tell me: ‘It’s like a dead city; no welcome, no taxis for my passengers…’. 

Almost 2 years later, on 19 November 2014, the Cairns Post announced the ‘Yorkeys Knob’s newly upgraded $2.2m cruise liner facilities will host its first cruise this morning.  Passengers from luxury P&O vessel Pacific Dawn are expected to arrive ashore at Half Moon Bay Marina from 9.30 this morning.  A two-year joint venture between Ports North, Yorkeys Knob Boating Club and the State Government, the upgraded facilities include a reconfigured car park with a large covered area, an improved jetty, resurfacing and lengthening of the boat ramp and a new floating walkway.’  A temporary shade tent was again erected on the nearly-sealed area for waiting passengers.

Proposal to dredge the channel

Ports North propose to dredge the Trinity Inlet channel to provide sufficient depth of water for all except the largest mega-cruise ships to navigate the channel and dock at the central cruise terminal – clearly a major advantage for cruise passengers, and certain to attract more cruise ships.  This dredging project has many implications and potential major benefits in addition to attracting more cruise ships.  The downside is that Ports North plan to dump the massive amount of spoil – 5+ million cubic metres initially plus ongoing maintenance – from the dredging in an extended area near the Great Barrier Reef (click on diagram of Cazalys Stadium for clearer definition). 

It is important to note that, whilst most local public opinion is against dumping this spoil at sea, and State and Federal legislation currently prevents ‘capital’ dredging spoil being dumped at sea, many credible technical explanations and assessments have demonstrated that such dumping at sea would not harm the reef providing it is done in a controlled manner.  Much of the negativity about dumping dredging spoil at sea has been stirred up by both extreme environmentalists and organisations, including some government departments, that have been seduced by bodies such a the UN that promote very dubious and ideological aims.  The key factors are explained well in an article by Professor Bob Carter, The Australian, 29-12-14: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/great-barrier-reef-a-shore-thing-muddied-by-misconceptions/story-e6frg6zo-1227168703706

What 5+ million cubic metres looks like

5m M3

Submissions

The Queensland Coordinator-General issued draft Terms of Reference (TOR) for the dredging project assessment; submissions were invited so anyone could comment on the draft TOR.  The deadline was 29 October 2012. One submission presented can be viewed at Submission for Cairns Shipping Development Project draft Terms of Reference, Peter Senior, 291012. This submission canvasses the key issues and presents several suggestions, in particular noting that dredging spoil could be used as a valuable resource for several land-based projects such as bulk-fill to assist fixing the environmental disaster at East Trinity.

Revised Terms of Reference

It was very gratifying that the Coordinator-General’s  considerably revised Terms of Reference document included a well-balanced approach that requires rigorous assessment of a range of land-based solutions for the use of Trinity Inlet dredging spoil.

On 25 September 2012, the Queensland Government declared the project as a “significant project for which an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is required”, following the submission of an Initial Advice Statement.  The Queensland Coordinator-General is managing the State’s assessment process and Terms of Reference (TOR) for the project are available at www.dsdip.qld.gov.au/assessments-and-approvals/cairns-shipping-development-project.

Ports North provided a submission to the Federal Government to determine if the project is a controlled action, which means it has to be assessed for environmental impacts under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).  The project was declared a “controlled action” on 5 October 2012 and will therefore require the preparation of an EIS that addresses Federal Government guidelines.  Information on the Federal EIS process and guidelines can be found on the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities website www.environment.gov.au

The Cairns Regional Council’s 12th December 2012 meeting considered the Great Barrier Reef Ports Strategy, a succinct and relevant paper which includes requests for submissions by 14th December:

http://www.cairns.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/66639/12dec12_ordinary_cl1.pdf

‘Deputation’ to the Cairns Regional Council

A ‘Deputation’ to the Cairns Regional Council was planned to be presented to the full Council on 27 February 2013.  This was cancelled hours before the scheduled start time because several people felt strongly that the presentation would be counter-productive at that time.  Here is the Power Point presentation that was planned for the deputation: Trinity Inlet dredging proposal (2.8 MB).

Ports North announced on 22 April 2013: The Cairns Shipping Development Project took another step forward today announcing Arup in partnership with BMT WBM as the Lead Consultants who will work with Ports North to deliver a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to meet the requirements of both the State and Commonwealth Governments.’  As at 3 September 2013 the consultants were making good progress towards completion of the draft EIS report.

Many Cairns local business people and community members look forward with great interest to reading what the report has to say, and what the Queensland Co-ordinator General’s departmental response is, regarding the EIS terms of reference points (as listed above).

Meeting the consultants

A meeting with Ports North and their consultants on 3 September 2013 demonstrated  the consultants were on track to prepare a draft EIS report for Ports North to make available for public consultation starting in May 2014.  At this meeting, the following points were re-iterated:

It is likely the lowest direct cost of the total dredging project will be to dump the spoil in an extended area by the current dumping area.  This solution also appears to fulfil the Ports North objectives.  A primary concern remains that there may be major benefits for the Cairns community, economy and environment through managing this massive amount of dredging spoil as a valuable resource that could contribute towards several important on-land projects – ‘may be’ because no significant investigation or cost-benefit studies have ever been undertaken in the past to address this issue.  

Also the EIS appears to extend well outside the formal role and objectives of Ports North, and moves towards a much wider mandate.  To this extent Ports North is in a difficult position in determining just how far they are required to go outside the Port’s mandate to fulfil the EIS. Recalling that the most obvious location to place the dredging spoils is over the environmentally-devastated East Trinity area, two close neighbours of that area, Brigadier Mansford and Norm Whitney, noted that, under the management of QASSIT (Queensland Acid Sulphate Soil Investigation Team) and other government bodies, this area has become a major health and environmental hazard. For instance, destruction of an entire new forest of melaleucas – a 2013 photo:

 East Trinity ruined, 2013 

Yet landowners face stiff penalties for such vandalism. A range of signs, community concern, media articles and reports such as the SKM’s ‘Improved Dredge Material Management for the Great Barrier Reef Region’ suggest dumping dredging spoil at sea off the Queensland coast has a very limited life. 

The 1988 aerial photo

The 1988 aerial photo below shows a light-brown area, lower-left where the developers purchased dredging spoil from the harbour board to test the effect of placing spoil on the land.  It is recorded that the trial was successful.  It is instructive to compare this area now with satellite photos on Google Earth

East Tinity property 1988 prior to purchase by State

LNP’s quarterly magazine, Dialogue

The Liberal National Party’s quarterly magazine, Dialogue, has an article (pages 24 – 27) in Issue 6 describing the history of the East Trinity property: LNP Dialogue magazine, A Sustainable East Trinity, that concludes: ‘Wise decision-makers, unafraid of disinformation from a very small but vocal minority, need to act now. The environmental catastrophe at East Trinity can be resolved and the property made available for the City’s future growth. The land, and potentially another four square kilometres, could become an urban residential development area very close to the CBD, as advocated by town planners. A bonus would be that valuable agricultural land presently earmarked for residential development would remain productive, extending the viability of the sugar industry and the associated jobs.  Surely that is a win-win for the environment as well as most Cairns stakeholders.’

The fundamental issue is this: is it better for the Cairns community to place this massive amount of spoil in an extended area close to the Great Barrier Reef, with possible attendant dangers, or to manage  this spoil as a potentially valuable resource that may enable the large East Trinity area – only 2 kilometres from Cairns’ CBD – to be reclaimed and become part of Cairns future development.  The EIS report is required to address this issue.

Earlier letters to the Cairns Post

A letter published in the Cairns Post on 17 February 2014 posed the question: ‘The dredged material need not be an off-shore disposal problem.  Instead this valuable resource could enable creation of  more land of a similar size to Portsmith only 2 kilometres from the CBD.  Our city’s forefathers chose to create Portsmith using dredging spoil from Trinity Inlet. Will our current city leaders be as wise?’

Another letter in the Cairns Post on March 11 2014, written by Brigadier Mansford addressed the issue of short-term expediency over long-term planning and benefits: ‘If the impending report on dredging Cairns Port advises that dumping at sea is safe, then do it as an interim measure.  However, given the long-term needs for continued expansion of port facilities it would be stupid to consider it a permanant solution.  The region’s future should not be determined by controversial and questionable treatment costs.  Government must pursue and determine innovative and economical methods to use the spoil on degraded land and convert it into assets that will contain future infrastructure, abundant green open space and environmental corridors on the very perimeter of the CBD that any city would envy.  The past history of reclaiming many areas of degraded land in Cairns should be part of the research to determine fact from fiction.  We need to be more positive.  It’s time to roll up our sleeves and find ways to do what we can and must do, as opposed to assuming it’s all too difficult.’

Meeting the consultants, 31 October 2013

Stepping back a few months, a meeting on 31 October 2013 with one of the consultants at a property adjacent to the Queensland State-owned East Trinity area in question demonstrated at that stage the consultants had minimal knowledge of the current and past status and events that lead up to the state of this ‘disaster area’.  Several previous reports about the area were passed on to the consultant, together with detailed explanations of related past events.

CAFNEC public meeting

The Cairns Post published an article on 5 April 2014 noting the draft EIS report is now expected in September rather than May.   (Click on graphic below to enlarge).  Much of the article describes the  views of the local miniscule extreme environmental group, CAFNEC, who organised an event on Sunday 6 April protesting dumping dredging spoil ‘near out reef’ (as several banners read)  Other banners and  T-Shirts had messages including:

    • Don’t stop our fishing
    • Our reef is already sick
    • i-care about our environment – www/acfonline/org.au
    • Save the Turtles
    • Save the Great Barrier Reef
    • Dump on Abbott, not our reef
    • Big Coal is killing Nemo
    • Sea Shepherd Australia
    • Fish are my friends

CAFNEC’s views for many years have been consistently against any development (recall they were strongly against the superb and world-acclaimed Skyrail project).  Their argument against dumping spoil at sea is quite widely supported by Cairns’ locals.  Their other argument concerns the dredging spoil ‘…so the obvious solution of using it as fill for building really isn’t an option in this case because of the nature of the sediment’.  They fail to point out that the real issue is the cost of treating and compaction, which of course CAFNEC do not address, nor how this spoil from the same area was successfully used over many decades to cover then develop much of Portsmith.  Note too there have been major advances in spoil management technology and equipment for preloading and compacting since Portsmith was created, including for the forthcoming Abbotts Point project. Perhaps CAFNEC’s ‘obvious solution’ is indeed both practical, economic and would provide a range of  major benefits for most Cairns residents and businesses.  Ports North chairman Brett Moller sensibly noted: ‘Ports North are not prejudging the outcome of the EIS in relation to the relocation of dredge material ….‘. That was, of course, before the 11 month delay – and counting…..

  More research CP 050414

4,000 ha is available…

A potentially overriding aspect of the issue of where to place the dredging spoil was summarized in a letter published in the Cairns Post on 12 April 2014: ‘Several recent letters and articles raise concerns about future housing and rental affordability if the huge Aquis development goes ahead.  For instance ‘Affordability key to fate of Aquis’ (10-04).  Perhaps it’s time to dust off proposals from the 1990s to develop housing on land at East Trinity?  There are over 4,000 hectares of land largely wasted at East Trinity that could become available for residential development.  This land could provide housing for at least 60,000 people, would avoid using other valuable agricultural land further South and fulfils modern town planners’ recommendations for urban development to be close to the CBD.  This option to accommodate Cairn’s certain population growth appears to have much merit.  Perhaps Cairns Regional Council have this on their drawing boards as one of several options for assessment?’

Ruling on land-based disposal

A further update of the Federal Government’s thinking was spelt out in a Cairns Post article, 23 April 2014:  ‘Five million cubic metres of dredging spoil is unlikely to be dumped at sea if a port development in Cairns goes ahead.    Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt yesterday met with Ports North to discuss the Cairns Shipping Development Project, which proposed to widen and deepen the shipping channel at Trinity Inlet for so-called mega-class ships.    “The overwhelming preference if anything were to happen in Cairns is for land-based disposal.” Mr Hunt said.  He backed Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch, who continues to advocate for spoil to be dumped at East Trinity near Yarrabah.  Mr Entsch said: “I absolutely think it’s critical that we go ahead and do this,  I believe the most appropriate site is …the degraded NatWest (land at East Trinity) and it can be done in an appropriate way, which actually will strengthen Cairns in many ways.” 

The deadline for the project’s environmental impact statement was extended to September to allow for further water-quality studies.  Earlier this month, hundreds of residents rallied in Cairns to protest port developments near the Great Barrier Roof, including the Trinity Inlet proposal. 

Legal personality for the reef

The Environmental Defenders Office of Northern Queensland is campaigning to grant the reef a legal personality so it can be defended in court.  It was prompted by a Great Barrier Roof Marine Park Authority decision to allow three million cubic metres of dredging spoil to be dumped in the marine park as part of the Abbot Point coal port expansion, north of Bowen.  An online petition for a referendum to award the reef legal rights has attracted more than 600 signatures.  Mr Hunt yesterday dismissed the campaign: “The reef already has a legal personality, the GBRMPA is there to represent the reef, it defines the area of the reef, it does a tremendous job.  “The GBRMPA is an independent executive agency, it is one of the world’s leading marine park agencies, if not the world’s leading marine park agency,” he said.’

These views were reinforced in a Cairns Post article, Committee fears for Reef, 24 July 2014: ‘Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch, however, said both he and Environment Minister Greg Hunt’s preferred disposal site was on-land. “Greg Hunt had already made it publicly clear that he wants the dredging on land,” he said. “I have made is very publicly clear that I want it on land, at East Trinity. It won’t be a blow-in from Tasmania who will influence a decision to have it there.” He said depositing the dredge spoil at East Trinity would also provide land for the city’s future population growth.’

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7. Other related documents

Plan for the Royal Reef resort

The plan that was prevented when Peter Beattie’s Labor government withdrew its approval to appease environmental activists, resulting in Cairns losing what would have been a fine development, and paying the National Westminster bank what is rumoured to have been many millions of dollars to avoid being sued.  The Royal Reef AIS and EIS reports (respectively 1992 and 1995), two exceptionally comprehensive 40 mm thick reports produced by a team of specialists led by Brannock Humphreys, Town Planning Consultants, describe the proposal in detail.  Section 10.0 CONCLUSIONS notes: ‘There will be no  major detrimental impacts to the environment as a result of the  proposed development which has been modified to be generally in accordance with the Trinity Inlet Management Plan.’  A selection of diagrams from the report are below: a hotel and beach, a plan of the whole resort and a location plan.

Royal Reef hotel and beach

Royal Reef layout

Royal Reef site boundary 2

Government documents relating to the project are available at: http://www.dsdip.qld.gov.au/assessments-and-approvals/cairns-shipping-development-project.html

A vision for Cairns

It seems The Cairns Post is the only ‘leader’ pushing a vision for Cairns on a range of issues including many articles describing the manifest benefits that would result from dredging the Trinity Inlet.  One example was published in the Cairns Post in May 2012:  Cairns Post front page 08-05-12  Cairns Post follow-on 08-05-12.  Hopefully Cairns’ civic leaders will take up the challenge soon.

Labor Premier Beattie turns a blind eye

It also seems no-one showed former Labor Premier Peter Beattie all the evidence that had been provided to his departments, or informed the Cairns City/Regional Council on related matters.  A letter from Peter Beattie dated 4 February 1999 included: “In relation to the acid sulphate and sewerage issues you raise, this Government has seen no evidence which would indicate there is an acid sulphate problem at East Trinity, while matters pertaining to solid waste disposal are primarily the responsibility of the Cairns City Council and, as such, should be raised directly with this authority.”

 

A history of East Trinity:  History of East Trinity, letter, 180607

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The dogma of sustainability

‘Sustainability’ is a modern buzz-word, a fashion, a vital tool for preservation and all-to-often a cover for dangerous covert agendas.

Solar and wind power simply don’t work

Solar and wind power simply don’t work  By Keith DeLacy, former Queensland State Labor Minister, The Australian, 22 June 2016

One policy which seems to have escaped scrutiny during this election campaign is Labor’s commitment to increase the Renewable Energy Target to 50 per cent by 2030. I am surprised because it is a proposal that has enormous ramifications for economic growth and living standards, and disproportionate impacts on traditional Labor constituencies.

The problem we have in Australia is when we talk renewable energy we are talking wind and solar only — low value, expensive, unreliable, high capital cost, land hungry, intermittent energy.

According to the Department of Industry and Science wind currently generates 4.1 per cent and solar 2 per cent of Australia’s electricity. But even this is highly misleading because it is such low value power. You could close it down tomorrow (which it regularly does by itself) and it would make no difference to supply.

If we talk about total energy, as opposed to just electricity, wind and solar represent 1 per cent of Australia’s energy consumption. This despite billions of dollars of investment, subsidies, creative tariffs, mandates, and so on.

Solar and wind simply don’t work, not here, not anywhere.

The energy supply is not dense enough. The capital cost of consolidating it makes it cost prohibitive. But they are not only much more expensive because of this terminal disadvantage, they are low value intermittent power sources — every kilowatt has to be backed up by conventional power, dreaded fossil fuels. So we have two capital spends for the same output — one for the renewable and one for the conventional back-up. Are you surprised it is so much more expensive, and inefficient, and always will be? So wind and solar, from a large scale electricity point of view, are duds. Now I know that will send the urgers into paroxysms of outrage. But have you ever seen an industry that so believed its own propaganda. Note, when they eulogise the future of renewables they point to targets, or to costly investments, never to the real contribution to supply.

Let’s look overseas where many countries have been destroying their budgets and their economies on this illusion for longer and more comprehensively than we in Australia. The Germans are ruing the day they decided to save the world by converting to solar and wind. Germany has spent $US100bn on solar technology and it represents less than 1 per cent of their electricity supply.

Energy policy has been a disaster. Subsidies are colossal, the energy market is now chaotic, industry is decamping to other jurisdictions, and more than a million homes have had their power cut off.

It is reported electricity prices in Germany, Spain and the UK increased by 78 per cent, 111 per cent and 133 per cent between 2005 and 2014 as they forced additional renewable capacity into their electricity markets. Sunny Spain used to be the poster boy for renewables in Europe — photovoltaic cells and wind turbines stretching on forever. Now they are broke, winding back subsidies, even the feed-in tariffs which were guaranteed for 20 years. But wait, what about the green energy jobs that everybody gushes about? Spain has an unemployment rate of 21 per cent with a youth rate of 45.5 per cent.

Britain is little better. Subsidies are being wound back, and a Department of Energy report points out that in 2013, the number of households in fuel poverty in England was estimated at 2.35 million representing around 10.4 per cent of all households.

It is no better in the US either. States with renewable energy mandates are backtracking faster than Sally Pearson can clear hurdles. Ohio has halved its mandate level (it was 25 per cent by 2025) because of high costs. West Virginia has repealed its mandate because of high costs, and New Mexico has frozen its mandates. Kansas was repealing its mandate which reportedly would save ratepayers $171m, representing $4367 for each household, and so the dismal story goes on. The US Department of Energy has found electricity prices have risen in states with mandates twice as fast as those with no mandate. As of 2013 California was the only state to adopt a feed-in tariff for solar power. It was immediately dubbed a failure by the renewable energy community because it offered only 31 cents per kWh, only five times the rate for conventional base load power.

Ah, but Asian countries are jumping on the bandwagon. Maybe. China built one new coalfired power plant every week in 2014, and India’s coal-powered investment in that same year equalled the total electricity capacity of NSW and Queensland. To summarise — with all of the trillions spent worldwide on wind and solar, wind currently represents 1.2 per cent of global consumption of energy, and solar 0.2 per cent.

The good news, it is possible to reduce fossil fuel use in electricity generation — through hydro-electricity and nuclear fuel. Plenty of countries have done it — Canada 60 per cent hydro and 15 per cent nuclear; Sweden 45 per cent hydro and 48 per cent nuclear; Switzerland 54 per cent hydro and 41 per cent nuclear; France 11 per cent hydro and 79 per cent nuclear.

But Australia has zero tolerance of these two workable alternatives to fossil fuels. At least we are consistently inconsistent.

So where does that leave us? On the basis of evidence everywhere we could easily double the price of electricity and get nowhere near the 50 per cent target. What would that mean?

First, it means rapidly disappearing blue collar jobs in high energy industries like manufact­uring, car and ship building, smelting and refining, steel making and food processing. There may be still some construction jobs, but they will largely be assembly only, as all of the components will come from those countries more interested in growing the economy and eliminating poverty than stoking the warm inner glow. Make no bones about it, a clean green economy has no place for high-vis shirts.

Second, rapidly rising electricity prices and the subsequent increase in the cost of living, disproportionately affects those at the bottom of the income scale.

Policies like this are OK for the Greens. They can keep their virtue intact because they never have to deliver. As Gough Whitlam once said, only the impotent are pure.

Mainstream parties don’t have that luxury. They need to look at the true costs, and benefits, of all policy proposals.

Keith DeLacy is a former Labor treasurer of Queensland.

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The dangers of ‘sustainability’

The dangers of ‘sustainability’  By Peter Wood, Rachelle Peterson; National Association of Scholars, 29 March 2015

Sustainability: Higher Education’s new fundamentalism

The full report can be downloaded from http://www.nas.org/images/documents/NAS-Sustainability-Digital.pdf

 “Sustainability” is a key idea on college campuses in the United States and the rest of the Western world. To the unsuspecting, sustainability is just a new name for environmentalism. But the word really marks out a new and larger ideological territory in which curtailing economic, political, and intellectual liberty is the price that must be paid now to ensure the welfare of future generations.

This report is the first in-depth critical study of the sustainability movement in higher education. The movement, of course, extends well beyond the college campus. It affects party politics, government bureaucracy, the energy industry, Hollywood, schools, and consumers. But the college campus is where the movement gets its voice of authority, and where it moulds the views and commands the attention of young people.

The sustainability movement has distorted higher education

While we take no position in the climate change debate, we focus in this study on how the sustainability movement has distorted higher education. We examine the harm it has done to college curricula and the limits it has imposed on the freedom of students to inquire and to make their own decisions. Our report also offers an anatomy of the campus sustainability movement in the United States. We explain how it came to prominence and how it is organized.

We also examine the financial costs to colleges and universities in their efforts to achieve some of the movement’s goals. Often the movement presents its program as saving these institutions money. But we have found that American colleges and universities currently spend more than $3.4 billion per year pursuing their dreams of “sustainability” at a time when college tuitions are soaring and 7.5 percent of recent college graduates are unemployed and another 46 percent underemployed.  In addition to the direct costs of the movement, we examine the growing demands by sustainability advocates that colleges and universities divest their holdings in carbon-based energy companies without regard to forgone income or growth in their endowments. What makes “sustainability” so important that institutions facing financial distress are willing to prioritize spending on it? In this report, we examine that question.

The belief that the world is experiencing catastrophic warming

Because the idea of “anthropogenic global warming”—or “climate change”—is so closely interwoven with the sustainability movement, we devote a chapter early in the report to laying out the arguments on both sides of this debate. The appeal of the sustainability movement depends to a great extent on the belief that the world is experiencing catastrophic warming as a result of human activities that are increasing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Is this belief warranted? We are neutral on this proposition, but we stand by the principle that all important ideas ought to be open to reasoned debate and careful examination of the evidence. This puts us and others at odds with many in the sustainability movement whose declared position is that the time for debate is over and that those who persist in raising basic questions are “climate deniers.” The “debate-is-over” position is itself at odds with intellectual freedom and is why the campus sustainability movement should be examined skeptically.

A hardening of irrational demands

We support good stewardship of natural resources, but we see in the sustainability movement a hardening of irrational demands to suspend free inquiry in favor of unproven theories of imminent catastrophe. And we see, under the aegis of sustainability, a movement that often takes its bearings from its hostility towards material prosperity, consumerism, free markets, and even democratic self-government.

We offer ten recommendations under three categories:

Respect Intellectual Freedom

  1. Create neutral ground. Colleges and universities should be neutral in important and unresolved scientific debates, such as the debate over dangerous anthropogenic global warming. Claims made on the authority of “science” must be made on the basis of transparent evidence and openness to good arguments regardless of their source.
  2. Cut the apocalyptic rhetoric. Presenting students with a steady diet of doomsday scenarios undermines liberal education.
  3. Maintain civility. Some student sustainability protests have aimed at preventing opponents from speaking.
  4. Stop “nudging.” Leave students the space to make their own decisions about sustainability, and free faculty members from the implied pressure to imbed sustainability into the curricula of unrelated courses.

Uphold Institutional Integrity

  1. Withdraw from the ACUPCC. Colleges that have signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment should withdraw in favor of open-minded debate on the subject.
  2. Open the books and pull back the sustainability hires. Make the pursuit of sustainability by colleges financially transparent. The growth of administrative and staff positions in sustainability drives up costs and wrongly institutionalizes advocacy at the expense of education.
  3. Uphold environmental stewardship. Campuses need to recover the distinction between real environmental stewardship and a movement that uses the term as a springboard for a much broader agenda.
  4. Credential wisely. Curtail the aggrandizement of sustainability as a subject. Sustainability is not a discipline or even a subject area. It is an ideology.

Be Even-Handed

  1. Equalize treatment for advocates. Treat sustainability groups on campus under the same rubric as other advocacy groups. They should not enjoy privileged immunity from ordinary rules and special access to institutional resources.
  2. Examine motives. College and university boards of trustees should examine demands for divestment from fossil fuels skeptically and with full awareness of the ideological context in which these demands are made.

The sustainability movement has become a major force in American life that has largely escaped serious critical scrutiny. The goal of this report is to change that by examining for the first time the movement’s ideological, economic, and practical effects on institutions of higher education.

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The great ‘sustainability’ fraud

The great ‘sustainability’ fraud  by Nick Cater, The Australian newspaper

‘Sustainability’ is “a leading-edge issue”?

‘Sustainability’ is “a leading-edge issue”, which means no one has a clue what it is, not even Wikipedia. The best it can manage is that sustainability is “a multi-faceted concept” and “a matter of ongoing argument”. So much for the wisdom of crowds.

Even the judges of the Global 100 awards were forced to admit that “determining which companies are ‘sustainable’ and which are not is challenging enterprise”.

It is not enough just to stay in business for 197 years, keep the capital-adequacy ratio respectable and return a stonking great profit. Westpac had to score against “a set of quantitative and clearly defined key performance indicators” determined by “a rules-based construction methodology”. It couldn’t be clearer than that.

The green-collar Oscars

For those who missed the live coverage of the green-collar Oscars, however, we will run through the main categories again.

Leadership diversity. It goes without saying that women run more sustainable corporations than men and, with chief executive Gail Kelly in the big chair, this one was Westpac’s to lose.

Horizontally integrated remuneration framework. To achieve a perfect score in this category, the CEO’s salary should match the company’s average wage. Since Kelly took home $5.6 million last year, Westpac did not quite get 10 out of 10, but since all bankers get paid pretty handsomely, it was presumably good enough.

Percentage tax paid. It may be counterintuitive to suggest that sustainable corporations pay more tax but that’s what the rules say. In the weird world of Davos, the percentage of profits paid as tax is regarded as a measure of corporate virtue rather than government vice.

Energy productivity

Westpac could teach BHP Billiton a thing or two here. The banker’s profit was only a third of the miner’s, but its carbon footprint was 250 times smaller. Clearly BHP needs to start thinking about recycling its printer cartridges.

The clean capitalist utopia as pictured by the economic romantics in Davos is, it turns out, unsustainable since it rewards those in comfortable offices who buy and sell money rather than those in fluoro who actually make it.

The fetish for paying taxes transfers money from the private to the public sector, and there is nothing remotely sustainable about that.

In these historically incurious times, it is worth reminding ourselves that business did not always operate this way.

As Adam Smith once noted, the baker, the butcher and the brewer used not to provide our dinner out of the goodness of their hearts “but from their regards to their own interest”.

Business’ new mandate

Nowadays, however, we like our businesses to be socially responsible, environmentally aware, ethically orientated, big-hearted Arthurs.

Thus the corporate sector has surrendered to the dispiriting dogma of sustainability, the heresy that took hold among the hippies in the late 1960s and mutated into a misanthropic, deep green movement in the 70s.

Today it wears a pinstriped suit and sits in the boardroom signing off on the most egregious muddle-headed nonsense in the name of corporate responsibility.

Sustainability may present itself as harmless mumbo-jumbo that helps build a brand, but its underlying philosophy is antithetical to freedom and to enterprise.

Ayn Rand warned us

“The uncontested absurdities of today are the accepted slogans of tomorrow,” Ayn Rand wrote in 1972. “They come to be accepted by degrees, by dint of constant pressure on one side and constant retreat on the other until one day they are suddenly declared to be the country’s official ideology.”

Four decades later, her prophecy has been fulfilled. Sustainability is one of the three priority themes in the new Australian curriculum, polluting everything from algebra to zoology.

“The sustainability priority is futures-oriented, focusing on protecting environments and creating a more ecologically and socially just world through informed action,” the curriculum says.

Students are encouraged to consider “that unlimited growth is unsustainable; sustainability – that biological systems need to remain diverse and productive over time; and rights of nature – recognition that humans and their natural environment are closely interrelated”.

Sustainability is Malthusianism

Sustainability is Malthusianism for the 21st century: the fallacy that population is growing faster than the available resources and that ruination is just around the corner.

The world viewed through the prism of sustainability is a deeply depressing place in which dreams are discouraged, imagination is restricted and the spirit of progress frowned upon.

Sustainability means never having to say sorry. In 1990 the World Hunger Project calculated that the ecosystem could sustainably support six billion people, and then only if they lived on a vegetarian diet.

More than two decades later, with 7.1 billion people living on the planet, global beef production has increased by 5 per cent per capita, pork by 17 per cent and chicken by 82 per cent, and that’s not counting the eggs.

The World Food Programme estimates that there are 170 million fewer malnourished people than there were in 1990.

The inconvenient prosperous truth

The inconvenient prosperous truth is that the human beings have, since the dawn of time, created more than they used on average over the course of a lifetime.

The happy by-product of an expanding population ever more interconnected is that the sum total of human knowledge grows exponentially.

The energy crisis, the one that is supposed to lie just around the corner, has been creating anxiety since the 1600s when Britain began to run out of firewood. Scarcity spurred the development of coal. The great whale oil crisis of the 1840s stimulated the search for oil. Time after time the coming catastrophe is postponed through abundance, and the inherent dishonesty of sustainability is exposed.

Human ingenuity

Human ingenuity is an infinitely renewable resource. Prosperity comes from seizing the elements of nature and rearranging their form.

“Wealth does not exist as a fixed, static quantity,” wrote Rand. “It is the creation of a dynamic, boundless mind. And it has no inherent limitation.” ‘

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‘Must-read’ book reviews

This post reviews books that add substantially to the understanding of business, economics, politics and what may happen in the future.

  • Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now, Ayaan Hirsi Ali
  • The Death of Money, James Rickards  
  • American Betrayal, Diana West
  • From Third World to First, Lee Kuan Yew
  • Lee Kuan Yew by Graham Allison

Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now

Author: Ayaan Hirsi Ali.  Ali was born in Mogadishu, Somalia, was raised Muslim, and spent her childhood and young adulthood in Africa and Saudi Arabia. In 1992, Hirsi Ali came to the Netherlands as a refugee. She earned her college degree in political science and worked for the Dutch Labor party. She denounced Islam after the September 11 terrorist attacks and now serves as a Dutch parliamentarian, fighting for the rights of Muslim women in Europe, the enlightenment of Islam, and security in the West.

Editor’s note: this book should be considered essential reading by anyone who has an interest in Islam as well as everyone who is or may be effected by Muslims (that means just about everyone!).  The book is very comprehensive and, unlike most other books on the subject, provides not only a wide-ranging background and analyses based on her own experience, but some thought-provoking solutions.  After scanning numerous reviews of this excellent book, the following written by ‘Helpful Advice’ on Amazon is more or less  what I would have written.

After ‘Infidel’ and ‘Nomad’ worldwide known, equally hated and adored Ayaan Hirsi Ali is back on literary (and considering the topic inevitably political) scene with her new and probably the most controversial book so far she wrote – ‘Heretic’.

A book that will certainly be subject of numerous texts, quoted or despised, she raised the question of some key Islam teachings incompatibility with the values of modern or free society for which the majority (or at least we think so maybe) people in the world stands for.

It seemed that comparing to some other major religions, Islam somehow proved immune to changes in the new world we are living, characterized by enormous speed of information exchange and the development of human rights. There were some attempts such as Arab Spring that tried to challenge traditional thinking, ingrained prejudices or facts about the Muslim world. But with the simultaneous proliferation of Islamic fundamentalism and even its acceptance in certain circles of the population in the West, according to the author it seems that it is time for some radical actions that must be implemented by the very Muslims, not someone else from outside.

So, what Ali proposes needs to happen for Muslims to defeat the extremists for good? Economic, political, judicial and military tools have already been proposed, some of them deployed, though it seems that all these will have little effect unless Islam itself is reformed.

Therefore she calls for a Muslim Reformation—a revision of Islamic teachings, alignment of modern society with traditional religion doctrine, that seems difficult, but not unfeasible due to the rejection of extremist behavior among the majority of Muslims around the world.

She reminds that such reformation has been called for since the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the subsequent abolition of the caliphate, but instead of general phrases and generalized objectives she precisely pointed out five key precepts that have made Islam resistant to historical change and adaptation. And only when the harmfulness of these ideas will be recognized and as result they will be rejected, a true Muslim Reformation would be possible.

Although to comment each of them would require writing essays, I’ll just list all five of them:
• Removing of Muhammad’s semi-divine status, putting him into the history context as important figure that united the Arabs in a pre-modern time that cannot be copied in the 21st century. And consequently also recognizing the fact that Quran is the book made by human hands.
• Emphasizing that life is more important than something that comes after it will reduce the appeal of martyrdom.
• Appreciation of modern laws that need to be put in front of Shariah legislation that is violent, intolerant or anachronistic.
• The abolition of the individual’s right and so called religious police to enforce the law, something for Muslim community is unfortunately particularly known
• And most important, Islam must become a religion of peace removing the imperative to wage holy wars against infidels

Once again this author must be admitted undeniable courage to tackle the dangerous subjects in a world where because of the drawn cartoons you can easily lose a life. Her theses are clear, her objectives are fully explained, her mission to change the Islamic world from the inside continues, causing the happiness and satisfaction of all civilized Muslims worldwide.

Therefore high recommendations for Ayaan Hirsi Ali, this brave author who after fighting for the rights of women engages into even greater battle with the hope that one day we will be able to say that books like these changed the world. For the better.

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The Death of Money

The Coming Collapse of the International Monetary System.  8 April 2014.  By James Rickards.

James Rickards, author of the other best seller, Currency Wars, has gone even further in The Death of Money: The Coming Collapse of the International Monetary System, in telling it like it is (and will be, so prepare yourself!). Jim’s all-facts, straightforward approach is peppered with just enough analogy and anecdotal wit to make sophisticated economic/mathematical/political concepts understandable to the (educated) layperson. His clarification techniques serve the book well by making sure the content never gets watered down or condescending. For anyone interested in knowing what is going on behind the scenes, how the dollar is being systematically devalued by The Fed (and why), what a rigged sham our banking system is, and how things are likely to play out in the very near future, read The Death of Money!

American Betrayal

The Secret Assault on Our Nation’s Character by Diana West (May 28, 2013).  Diana West’s newest book “American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on our Nations Character” is a highly researched, blockbuster of a story taking 356 pages to tell with 29 pages of notes.  Whilst not directly about ‘management’, this book is packed with information that any successful manager should understand, in particular regarding communications (propaganda?)  and planning.  It’s the most thought-provoking, worrying, disillusioning book I’ve ever read.  I’ve attached a couple of reviews of the book from Amazon.com. American Betrayal, Diana West, May 2013. Reviews  that give you a glimpse of what it’s about.  John, of John’s Newsletter fame, noted: ‘American Betrayal explains what many already know about the creation of the soviet monster by the FDR administration, stacked with communist spies and the author of the cold war from as early as 1942.  How FDR’s lackeys could give the USSR the atomic bomb via Lend Lease is fascinating and unfortunately true.  It is clear that powerhouse though she may be, America has been ungovernable since the outset…Just too big, too complex and too full of leaks and confused ideologies.  America is now, as a reaction, on the road to becoming a police state.  Folk who have read the book  called “The Open Society and Its Enemies” by Karl Popper will understand how the USA came to this pretty pickle and the realities behind this scandalous state of affairs.  Horrific though her anecdotes are, I have seen independent corroboration elsewhere of Diana’s central themes and accept them as factual – when asserted as such.  This book is too disturbing for general consumption.’

From Third World to First

The Singapore Story: 1965-2000 by Lee Kuan Yew  (Oct 3, 2000).  Note:  although older, it is useful to read this book before the Grand Master’s Insights book, below. Some comments on the Amazon website: Lee Kwan Yew had a clear vision, set himself clear goals…. Above all, what led to his success is his execution skills…. Although Singapore is a free market economy, its philosophy concerning workers and employees are caring and genuine, unlike in the United States….His views regarding leadership and a wide range of management issues are profound….. Read this book to be inspired.

Lee Kuan Yew

The Grand Master’s Insights on China, the United States, and the World by Graham Allison et al., 1 Feb. 2013.  Some comments on the Amazon website: Lee excels in pithy evaluations of regional and national strengths and weaknesses. At his best, the man is a cross between Confucius and Machiavelli. (Washington Times)……..”I found myself engrossed this week by the calm, incisive wisdom of one of the few living statesmen in the world who can actually be called visionary. The wisdom is in a book, “Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master’s Insights on China, the United States and the World,” a gathering of Mr. Lee’s interviews, speeches and writings…He is now 89, a great friend of America, and his comments on the U.S. are pertinent to many of the debates in which we’re enmeshed.” — Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal.

 

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Could energy be free?

Modern society growth is proportional to available energy, so the availability of cost-effective energy for everyone is clearly critical.  This post presents a range of issues with regard to the science, views and potential for free energy and so-called renewable energy.

Scroll down to see additional articles at the end of the post.

Could energy be free?

Could energy be free A selection of several articles and videos on the subject, 10 May 2016

This article presents a range of issues with regard to the potential for free energy.

Introduction

Modern society growth is proportional to available energy, so the availability of cost-effective energy for everyone is clearly critical.  This post presents a range of issues with regard to the science, views and potential for free energy and so-called renewable energy.

Of the seven largest markets in the world, namely, energy, agriculture, telecom, auto, chemicals, packaged foods, and pharma, the energy market surpasses all others by a minimum margin of $3.3 trillion dollars per year. The growing demand for energy drives market size projections to $10.4 trillion per year by 2020, helping energy maintain its dominant position in the world markets.   The 2013 world GDP was USD75.59, so energy comprised about 15%.

Several organisations are working hard to develop low-cost devices that could provide almost-free energy that potentially could destroy or replace most of the current energy industry.  Question: how do you think energy industry leaders are reacting?  Read banker J P Morgan’s reaction to Nicola Tesla’s inventions below, and view Thomas Bearden’s videos, also below.

However, the most of the official scientific views of ‘free energy’, Tesla’s demonstrations, zero point energy and the like are dismissive.   But then, recall everyone ‘knew’ the sun went around the earth, and peptic ulcers were caused by stress and acidity – until 2 doctors, who had been scoffed at for 20 years – proved these ulcers were caused by bacteria, and won Nobel prizes.  Scientific has an alarming history of ‘getting it wrong’. As Einstein said, it only takes one person to prove I’m wrong’.

Caveat

The reader is advised that most of what is presented in this section is very different from what he/she is likely to have been taught, read and viewed. Rather than scoffing, which is a natural reaction, it would be better to maintain an open mind and consider the degree that past information on this and allied subjects may have been manipulated for entirely different ends.

The subject of ‘free energy’ is best introduced and put into context by the Sirius project. Dr Carol Rosin interviews Dr Steve Greer to discuss an update on Sirius Disclosure (34 mins intro, implementation at 77 mins, ends 94 mins) – audio interview http://americanfreedomradio.com/listen_live.html

Interview with Dr Carol Rosin: Von Braun’s legacy – 34 min 2013 YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?=gP8ftWzFYI4&list=PLnrEt2fIdZ0aBgPuVF0C_T559Y

Tom Bearden

 Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Bearden, US Army, PhD explains how energy can be extracted from the ‘zero points field’, the ‘dipole’ effect and how and why this form of free energy has been buried by various black government, financial and industrial operations as well as the scientific community and non-availability of patents for ‘perpetual motion machines’. Recorded around 2002, but similarly valid in 2016. The main difference is that ‘money-printing’ has extended his forecasted deadline – 47 minutes https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wleifp3Fbe0

Thomas article:  Clean Electrical Energy from the Active Vacuum 2002   http://www.cheniere.org/articles/clean%20electrical.htm

A 6-minutes video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKFEmMotPNo, and a longer 50 min video that explains the article including many associated factors https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJY8XqFnAyg&ebc=ANyPxKoiO2_L3WFfQZyyXFBfL8GqxZ_cFZPrZTreDPlVY5OmjBo2cSRCdlSWUGDYCAqgVu8dBTQJ5uNoF6tJPFEI-PTeWJ4Vow

History of free energy, suppression, economic cartels in energy preventing free energy, assassination etc.  and how it works – over-unity power systems, Lt Colonel Thomas Bearden (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lsJybtR9YlM 47 minutes) – his website: http://www.cheniere.org/ – note quotes.  This is an old video ~2003 – predicts world will be into mass war in 2007/08 or sooner if new energy generation is prevented – his logic remains, but the various institutions, cartels etc. have managed to delay free energy for another decade since. Dr. Eugene Mallove RIP

Description of zero point energy by Dr Hal Puthoff – (watch Dr Mallove 3 videos at the end of first video, linked after the first video)

Perpetual motion machine?

Science skeptic and writer, Martin Gardner has called claims of such zero-point-energy-based systems, “as hopeless as past efforts to build perpetual motion machines.”  Perpetual motion machine refers to technical designs of machines that can operate indefinitely, optionally with additional output of excessive energy, without any cited input source of energy, which is in violation of the laws of thermodynamics. Formally, technical designs that claim to harness zero-point energy would not fall into this category because zero-point energy is claimed as the input source of energy’.  The issue is, then, what the are boundaries that comprise the overall system in which the energy resides.

A full explanation of progress in the zero energy science: ‘As to whether zero-point energy may become a source of usable energy, this is considered extremely unlikely by most physicists, and none of the claimed devices are taken seriously by the mainstream science community. Nevertheless, SED interpretation of the Bohr orbit (above) does suggest a way whereby energy might be extracted. Based upon this a patent has been issued and experiments have been underway at the University of Colorado (U.S. Patent 7,379,286).’  NB mainstream science ‘knew’ the sun goes around the earth, and stomach ulcers were caused by excess acid. http://www.calphysics.org/zpe.html

Nikola Tesla

 A Device to Harness Free Cosmic Energy Claimed by Nikola Tesla: “This new power for the driving of the world’s machinery will be derived from the energy which operates the universe, the cosmic energy, whose central source for the earth is the sun and which is everywhere present in unlimited quantities.” It is not clear how or whether this related directly to zero-point energy.  It is fully documented that banker J P Morgan believed it would work and preclude his profiting from selling energy; he sabotaged Tesla’s progress and stole Tesla’s patents.  Acknowledged as the greatest inventor ever, as a result, Tesla died a pauper.  http://www.nuenergy.org/nikola-tesla-radiant-energy-system/

Dr Steven Greer

 Steven Greer, re new/free energy/ET etc. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lL7uFTKUK_U

The potential for ‘free energy’ is discussed at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero-point_energy – Utilization Controversy section.  Zero-point energy, also called quantum vacuum zero-point energy, is the lowest possible energy that a quantum mechanical physical system may have; it is the energy of its ground state Despite the scientific stance to typically discount the claims, numerous articles and books have been published addressing and discussing the potential of tapping zero-point-energy from the quantum vacuum or elsewhere. See 44 references with links.

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Inherit the Wind (and not much else)

Inherit the Wind (and not much else)  By David Archibald, Quadrant Online, 8 Feb 2015

 The RET Scheme, a monstrous mis-allocation of resources, continues to make Australia poorer for no good reason.  Those who concocted and voted for it seem determined to hobble the nation’s prospects while slipping some $5 billion every year into the pockets of rent-seeking saboteurs

One Senate inquiry is addressing Australia’s drift towards a fuel crisis, a sin of omission on the part of the Rudd/Gillard government and the current Liberal one.  Another Senate inquiry is investigating a sin of commission that started under John Howard’s watch and continues to this day, namely the proliferation of wind turbines under the RET Scheme.

Submissions to the latter inquiry are online here.  I commend submission Number Five by your humble correspondent. It is reproduced below:

No electric power producer would take power from a wind turbine operation if they had the choice.  All the wind turbines in Australia have been forced upon the power companies that take their output.

Why do we have wind turbines?

So the question has to be asked, why do we have wind turbines in the first place?

Wind turbines are commonly considered to produce renewable energy.  This is distinct from energy sources that are once-through and thus finite. The rationale for renewable energy is that its use reduces the consumption of fossil fuels by substitution.  The rationale for that, in turn, is that fossil fuels contribute to the warming of the atmosphere through the greenhouse effect.  This last rationale goes to the source of the wind turbine problem.  So it is apposite to examine that claim.

While climate change is real in that the climate is always changing, and the greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide is real, the effect at the current atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide is minuscule.

The greenhouse gasses keep the planet 30°C warmer than it would otherwise be if they weren’t in the atmosphere.  So the average temperature of the planet’s surface is 15°C instead of -15°C. Of that effect, 80% is provided by water vapour, 10% by carbon dioxide and methane, ozone and so on make up the remaining 10%.  So the warming provided by carbon dioxide is three degrees.

The pre-industrial level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was 286 parts per million. Let’s round that up to 300 parts per million to make the maths easier. You could be forgiven for thinking that if 300 parts per million produces three degrees of warming, the relationship is that every one hundred parts per million produces a degree of warming. We are adding two parts per million to the atmosphere each year, which is 100 parts per million every 50 years and, at that rate, the world would heat up at a fair clip.

The relationship is logarithmic

But the relationship isn’t arithmetic, it is logarithmic. The  University of Chicago has an online program called Modtran which allows you to put in an assumed atmospheric  carbon dioxide  content and it will  tell you how  much  atmospheric  heating that produces. It turns out that the first 20 parts per million produces half of the heating effect to date. The effect rapidly drops away as the carbon dioxide concentration increases.

By the time we get to the current level in the atmosphere of 400 parts per million, the heating effect is only 0.1°C per one hundred parts per million. At that rate, the temperature of the atmosphere might rise by 0.2°C every one hundred years.

The total atmospheric heating from carbon dioxide to date is of the order of 0.1°C.  By the time humanity has dug up all the rocks we can economically burn, and burnt them, the total heating effect from carbon dioxide might be of the order of 0.4°C. This would take a couple of centuries.  A rise of this magnitude would be lost in the noise of the climate system.  This agrees with observations which have not found any signature from carbon dioxide-related heating in the atmosphere.

Carbon dioxide level is dangerously low

The carbon dioxide level of the atmosphere is  actually  dangerously  low,  not  dangerously  high.   During the glacial periods of our current ice age, the level got as low as 180 parts per million.  Plant growth shuts down at 150 parts per million. Several times in the last three million years, life above sea level came within 30 parts per million of extinction due to a lack of carbon dioxide. The more humanity can increase the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, the safer life on Earth will be.

Further to all that, belief in global warming from carbon dioxide requires a number of underlying assumptions.  One of these is that the feedback loop of increased heating from carbon dioxide causes more water vapour to be held in the atmosphere which in turns causes more heating, a runaway effect.  And that this feedback effect only starts from the pre-industrial level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere – not a higher level or a lower level, but exactly at the pre-industrial level.

Some estimates of the heating effect of atmospheric carbon dioxide are as high as 6.0°C for a doubling of the concentration from the pre-industrial level.  For this to be true, atmospheric heating of at least 2.0°C should have been seen to date. In the real world, there has been a temperature rise of 0.3°C in the last 35 years, as measured by satellites.  This is well short of what is predicted by global warming theory as practiced by the CSIRO, Bureau of Meteorology and others.

This is also a far more plausible reason for the warming of the planet during the current Modern Warm Period which followed the ending of the Little Ice Age in 1900.  The energy that keeps the Earth from looking like Pluto comes from the Sun and the level and make-up of that energy does change. The Sun was more active in the second half of the 20th century than it had been in the previous 8,000 years.  As shown by the geomagnetic Aa Index, the Sun started getting more active in the mid-19th century and the world’s glaciers began retreating at about the same time.

It is entirely rational to think that a more active Sun would result in a warmer Earth, and this is borne out by empirical observation. To wit, the increased Antarctic sea ice cover observed during the satellite period.

Arctic sea ice extent retreated for the last 20 years of the 20th century.  That is compatible with global warming for any reason.  At the same time, Antarctic sea extent increased by an amount similar to the Arctic sea ice loss. This is not possible if we accept that global warming is due to carbon dioxide.  It also means that global warming due to carbon dioxide did not cause the bulk of the warming in the rest of the planet because carbon dioxide’s effect was overwhelmed in Antarctica by some other force.

Increase in Antarctic sea ice extent

The increase in Antarctic sea ice extent is entirely consistent with increased global temperatures due to high solar activity, as explained by Henrik Svensmark’s theory, which holds that high solar activity produces a lower neutron flux in the lower troposphere from intergalactic cosmic radiation, in turn providing fewer nucleation sites for cloud droplet formation and, thus, less cloud cover. Sunnier skies over Antarctica in turn mean that more solar radiation is reflected by high-albedo snow and ice instead of being absorbed in the cloud cover.  Thus Antarctica has cooled.

The rest of the world has enjoyed the best climatic conditions, and thus agricultural growing conditions, since the 13th century.  But what the Sun gives it can also take away.  Solar physicists have been warning for over a decade  that the Sun is entering a prolonged period of low activity similar to that of the Maunder Minimum from 1645 to 1710. Most recently, Livingstone and Penn have predicted a maximum amplitude for the next solar cycle, Solar Cycle 25, of 7.  By comparison, the previous solar cycle, Solar Cycle 23, had a maximum amplitude of 120.

The longest temperature record on the planet is the Central England Temperature Record from 1659.  Using the solar-based forecasting model developed by Dr David Evans and the Livingstone and Penn estimate of Solar Cycle 25 amplitude of 7, a prediction can be made of the effect on the Central England Temperature out to 2040.  The reduction in solar activity now being observed will result in temperatures returning to the levels of the mid-19th century at best, with the possibility of revisiting the lows of the 17th and 18th centuries.  Peak summer temperatures may not change much but the length of the growing season will shorten at both ends, playing havoc with crop yields.

The notion of global warming

The notion of global warming has resulted in an enormous mis-allocation of resources in some Western societies, but we can be thankful for one thing.  If it had not been for the outrageous prostitution of science in the global warming cause, then the field of climate would not have attracted the attention that has determined what is actually happening to the Earth’s climate.  Humanity would otherwise be sleepwalking into the severe cold period in train.

As demonstrated above, there is no moral basis for Australian society’s investment in wind turbines if the purpose of that investment is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions through a form of renewable energy.  Global warming due to carbon dioxide is of no consequence and the world is cooling anyway.

Wind turbines

WIND TURBINES may lack a moral purpose, but might there be some other good involved?  Let’s examine the claim that wind turbines provide renewable energy, thus reducing our depletion of finite energy resources.

Wind turbines are made using energy from coal at about 4 cents per kWh and provide energy thought to cost of the order of 10 cents per kWh.  In effect, they are machines for taking cheap, stable and reliable energy from coal and giving it back in the form of an intermittent and unpredictable dribble at more than twice the price.

That is one thing.  But what stops wind turbines from being renewable is that the making of wind turbines can’t be powered using energy from the wind turbines themselves! If power from wind turbines costing 10 cents per kWh was used to make more wind turbines, then the wind turbines so produced would make power at something like 25 cents per kWh.  The cost would compound away and any society that attempted to run itself on wind energy would collapse. Wind energy as a component of a power system relies upon transfer of energy at its inception from another source.  It is not renewable energy.  It is no consolation that solar power from photovoltaic panels is much worse in this respect.

That wind energy is renewable energy is the second lie on which the RET scheme is based, the first being that renewable energy is a palliative against global warming.

There is not much more that needs to be said. The RET Scheme is a monstrous misallocation of the nation’s resources and continues to make the Australian people poorer for no good reason.  Those who concocted it and voted for it have sold the Australian people into the servitude and oppression of rent-seekers to the tune of $5 billion per annum. The science and economics it is based on are no better than voodoo and witchcraft.  The wind turbines scattered around the Australian countryside are a physical manifestation of the infestation of the body politic by the self-loathing, millenarian cult of global warming.

The RET Scheme draws resources from better schemes

Unfortunately, the RET Scheme and its ilk have drawn resources from the development of energy sources that would power Australia cheaply, efficiently and with enough of a return on energy invested to maintain Australia’s high standard of living into the next millennium.

The same kind of intense interest from the wider scientific community that determined what is really happening with climate has also determined that the optimum nuclear technology for society to adopt is the thorium molten salt reactor.  Any middle-ranking industrial power, such as Australia, could develop this technology, and should do so.

Much time and treasure has been lost chasing the phantom menace of global warming.  The sooner the RET Scheme is put to rest, the sooner that the nation’s efforts can be properly directed towards our security and welfare in developing the best possible energy source if the nation is to survive and prosper.

David Archibald is a visiting fellow at the Institute of World Politics in Washington DC where his research interest is strategic energy policy.  The Institute is a graduate school for US security agencies, State Department and Department of Defense. He has published several books and a number of papers on climate science.  He has lectured on climate science in both US Senate and Congressional hearing rooms. His most recent book is Twilight of Abundance (Regnery, 2014)

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Energy plan puts public service before public good

by Alan Moran, Director, Deregulation, Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) March 14, 2014

THE energy white paper under preparation proclaims that government has a role in the energy industry. But it is one that is best limited to controlling natural monopoly elements within the industry. It is certainly not to provide some blueprint for the future.

A history of public ownership

Energy has an ongoing history of public ownership, at least in part stemming from misplaced notions that it is a natural monopoly and a necessity requiring government interventions. The outcome has been deleterious and has been compounded by a determination of governments to use the industry to accommodate its social, environmental and industry policies. This has transformed an inherently low-cost industry into one that now has among the world’s highest prices.

A worrying feature of the review is a prominent role given to the supposed need to maintain analytical capability within the government. This appears to be a priority to protect departmental personnel jobs that sits badly with the market-driven industry the white paper claims to be championing. The priority may be partly due to an excessive number of goals that the white paper’s “issues paper” specifies. These encompass supplying and using energy:

  • To put downward costs of business and households.
  • To grow exports.
  • To promote low emissions energy technologies.
  • To encourage the more efficient use of energy.

Whatever may be said of the first two of these stated goals, the third and fourth are in conflict and have spawned the egregious interventions in energy policy that have created a need for a white paper. The fourth also adopts the discredited hubris: “I’m from the government and I’m here to help you.”

Markets develop from the interactions of consumers with businesses, which seek to sell their goods, access inputs and reduce risks. Government’s role is to allow these processes to be pursued and to uphold the law.

A plethora of goals

Rather than a plethora of goals, the white paper should have a single focus: to allow the market to bring about efficient production of energy with interventions limited to addressing natural monopoly situations. Anything beyond that will perpetuate the weaknesses presently evident.

Energy is a vital factor in the direct wellbeing of consumers.

More important still for Australia, it is a key component of economic development. Our minerals and agricultural processing industries are natural fits to the resource endowment that ­Aust­ralia has and cheap energy is both part of that endowment and crucial to its development.

Irresponsible government actions

Irresponsible government actions have impaired the value of our energy resources. This can be seen in four key areas:

  • Retaining ownership of energy businesses in networks where such ownership is verifiably inefficient and always likely to remain so.
  • Placing taxes and regulatory imposts on energy suppliers to force them into costly measures in pursuit of government-determined efficiency, consumer consultation and greenhouse-re­­­d­­uc­­­­ing measures.
  • Impeding access to land for gas exploration and development.
  • Suppressing prices to certain customer groups, thereby weakening incentives to supply and maintain industry resilience.

Policies to rectify these impairments often entail government action, which are the cause of the problems in the first place.

In the past, as with the post-­Hilmer competition policy ­pay­ments, governments were re­warded (and occasionally punished) with regard to an agreed set of principles.

But the use of government to combat government deficiencies is oxymoronic.

Indeed, if a previous commonwealth government had attempted more forcefully to exert pressure on states to promote a goal it favoured, energy saving measures, the outcome would have been even more perverse than that which has eventuated.

The white paper’s aforementioned issues paper continues to promote market interventions in many places associated with green energy and energy efficiency.

It also has to be said that providing incentives for governments to do things that are in the interests of their own consumers is logically questionable.

A useful starting point

A useful starting point for policy, in line with the government’s deregulation initiative, is to announce the early sun-setting of all regulatory measures and discriminatory charges and taxes on energy supplies at the commonwealth level. This would be accompanied by an invitation to state governments to adopt similar programs. In the absence of such a measure the best that can be hoped for is to have the process unveil costs of poor decisions in the past as counsel for future decision-makers.

 

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Government for the Silent Majority

The KiS report – “Keep it Simple” – Government for the silent majority.

The full report can be downloaded as a PDF file: KiS full report 100316  The report summary and table of contents are provided below.

The KiS  report describes an Australian government the ‘silent majority’ of voters would likely have elected – if they had the choice.

Why?  Because because it would benefit them far, far more than any recent governments which have evolved since federation over a century ago.  Many would say most if not all aspects of government have gone downhill ever since.  Like a corporation that is failing badly, the Australian Government needs a fundamental restructure – a ‘root and branch’ rebuild based on the needs of 2016 and the future.

The report includes assessments of, and proposed solutions to, key factors voters expect their governments to lead and manage appropriately on their behalf such as: finance, debt, defence, environment, law and order, energy availability, pollution regulations, immigration, taxation, healthcare, recreational drugs, education, infrastructure and related planning approaches.

Please note this report was written nearly 5 years ago and is in dire need of updating in some areas.  However, the substantive points remain valid, and the overall proposed solution will not change significantly in the update.  A few areas such as the system for taxation will be modified, as will aspects of foreign relationships.

Whilst the report is focused on the Australian government, much of the report could be applied to most governments in democratic countries.

It is suggested too that an article by Ron Paul in the section Rise and Fall of the US Empire is complementary, and very worthwhile reading – http://better-management.org/?p=2526.  Ron Paul, a US Senator who ran for the presidency on three occasions, presents a unique perspective based on fundamental principles and an in-depth assessment of the US governance.  His details can be viewed at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ron_Paul

 About the author: Peter Senior CV March 2016 – email: petersenior42@gmail.com

The report Table of Contents, then the Summary, are below:

KiS Report – Table of Contents

1Summary

2.  Introduction
2.01  There are glimmers of hope
2.02  Check the roadmap first

3.  Issues Influencing KiS Government
3.01  Democracy evolution
3.02  The modern nation-state
3.03  Cargo Cult mentality
3.04  Immigration
3.05  Freedom of speech
3.06  Trade unions, labour laws and productivity
3.07  Standards, regulations and intrusion
3.08  ‘Carbon pollution’ v. weather
3.09  The ‘green mafia’
3.10  Water management
3.11  Energy management
3.12  Global governance
3.13  NGO influence
3.14  Bureaucracy and convoluted government management
3.15  Levels of government

3.16  Justice
3.17  Economics and financial management
3.18  The modern politician
3.19  Human imperfections and differences

4.  KiS Issue Summary

5.  KiS Philosophy

6.  KiS Vision for Australia

7.  KiS Management
7.01  Management 101 delivers optimum results
7.02  A starting point to improve on

8.  KiS Government Organisation
8.01  KiS national government objective
8.02  KiS national government law process
8.03  National Government structure
8.04  Two levels of government
8.05  Democracy

9.  KiS Government management
9.01  Criminal Justice
9.02  National and local service fees
9.03  Excise tax and royalties
9.04  Financial management
9.05  Commercial and financial oversight
9.06  Citizenship and Visas
9.07  Infrastructure and the environment
9.08  Labour laws and productivity
9.09  Welfare
9.10  Retirement
9.11  Health
9.12  Education

10.  Implementing KiS Government
10.01  Transition plan
10.02  KiS government activities and resources
10.03  Planning and plans
10.04  International agreements and foreign aid
10.05  Asset ownership
10.06  Process and regulation simplification
10.07  Culture and values tests
10.08  Guardian group and freedom of speech
10.09  Communicating KiS changes

11.  Would the Silent Majority Vote for KiS?
11.01  Are the silent majority of Australian voters sufficiently fed up?
11.02  Boiling frog syndrome
11.03  An about-turn by politicians as well as the silent majority?

Appendices
A.  Australian immigration history
B.  The Greens’ agenda
C.   ‘Carbon Pollution’ in the UK
D.  The Silent Majority (1):  Australian divorce
E.  The Silent Majority (2):  ‘I’m tired’ (US)
F.  The Silent Majority (3):  What good people do
G. ‘The Australian Government beat me to it’

KiS Report Summary

Surveys, ‘pub-talk’ and media comment indicate that most Australians are very dissatisfied with their Government.  Few voters believe that current political parties can fix the plethora of problems which arise from the government itself – and politicians tend to exacerbate problems rather than fixing them.

Voter frustrations include: excessive governmental intrusion and bureaucracy; financial regulator failures; abysmal government management of risk, building, health, water, energy and immigration; ineffective criminal justice; ‘carbon pollution’ taxes and waste; the ‘green mafia’; variability of freedom of speech; covert influence from some NGOs; inadequate employment laws; and the regularity of politicians’ breaking of promises.

No democratic government in the world is widely viewed as very successful, so there is no ideal model to copy.  The complexity of government and the depth of related problems are too entrenched for incremental improvements to be effective.  A keep-it-simple policy could provide the best solution.  KiS is a completely different way of democratic government, starting with a ‘clean slate’ and applying the best management practices.  Key components of a KiS government would include:

  • Recognition that competent and diligent governmental staff are often thwarted by excessive complexity and by covert agendas of power brokers and ideologues.
  • Government structure comprises two levels: national and local.  States have figurehead roles only.  Local governments have wider roles including health and education boards.
  • House of Representatives and Senate member numbers are reduced to a total of 100.  Members demonstrate excellent competencies and comply with fiduciary duties of care.
  • All taxes are replaced by ‘flat rate service fees’ introduced over 3 years: 20% on individual incomes and 10% on business expenditure.  Compliance is simple.
  • Businesses such as mining companies using natural resources pay economic rents which enable fair profits and encourage investment and growth, including overseas investment.
  • Recreational drugs are not illegal.  Excise duties are charged on alcohol, tobacco and recreational drugs at rates that cover all related costs with rigorous auditing and penalties.
  • Government processes, systems and regulations are reviewed using ‘clean slate’ methods that optimise efficiency and effectiveness, and, if necessary, are modified or replaced.
  • All government departments have audited plans that conform to guidelines reflecting best practices, and which include preparation for such contingencies as catastrophic weather.
  • The criminal justice system focuses first on full compensation of all victims’ losses and all related judicial costs, then on the rehabilitation of criminals.  When appropriate and possible, custodial sentences consist of home detention – prison is a last resort.
  • Government asset ownership is retained only if no better alternative be available.
  • Commercial and financial oversight is strengthened to ensure that GFC-type greed and excesses are not repeated.  Net government debt is eliminated as soon as practical.
  • All government funding relating to ‘carbon pollution’ ceases.  Related actions are reviewed after rigorous assessments and recommendations from a Royal Commission.
  • Immigrant assessments are completed and decisions made within three months.  Immigrants sign contracts agreeing to abide by Australian law and to support Australian culture and values.  Major transgressors are evicted from Australia.
  • A Guardian group investigates concerns about covert influence and behaviour.
  • Implementation is gradual over several years; each step builds on the last success.

KiS solutions focus on the concerns and wishes of the ‘silent majority’ of voters — the antithesis of political power-brokers, ideologues and rent-seekers.  KiS proposals are not intended to be definitive; rather they provide a basis for improvements and further reforms.

Are the ‘silent majority’ of voters so fed up with existing governments that they would vote for radical change such as KiS?  Would sufficient candidates with the requisite competence and credibility stand for KiS and promote it, or would an existing political party adopt KiS policies if it became clear a growing movement of voters demand change?  Failure to implement radical change soon will result in Australian politics and government descending even further into complexity, intrusion and waste with little hope of real reform.

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