Sunday, 31 May 2009

Sunday night rock 'n' roll

No cover version tonight. I'll post a few videos of the remarkable Rory Gallagher.

Rory Gallagher (born Liam Rory Gallagher, 2 March, 1948– died 14 June, 1995) was an Irish blues/rock guitarist. Born in Ballyshannon, County Donegal, Ireland, he grew up in Cork City in the south of the country. He is best known for his solo albums, and for his tenure in the band Taste during the late 1960s. A multi-instrumentalist who gained a reputation as a gifted and charismatic live performer, Rory Gallagher's albums have sold in excess of 30 million copies worldwide.

(Nothing Follows)

Monday, 25 May 2009

Australia should really be the lucky country

Gerard Jackson's latest commentary on the Australian economy and the Rudd government's unbelievable mismanagement of the global financial crisis is a good place to start today's post.
The economic commentary swirling around Rudd's budget reveals how bad economic thinking is in Australia. What none of our so-called pundits have grasped is that government spending in the form of borrowing from the public is never stimulatory — and it certainly is not Keynesian. When the government borrows from A to put B to work it is not expanding aggregate demand but merely transferring purchasing power from one person to another. A economic fundamental fact that every classical economist fully understood.

The Keynesian approach consists of monetary expansion to fund deficits and government borrowing. In case you are wondering, this is called inflation. Unlike Rudd and Treasury head Ken Henry the devious Mr Keynes knew exactly what he was about. He also understood the inherent inflationary danger of such a policy. This is why in in 1937 he publicly called on the British government to end new public works projects, warning it against the inflationary effects of any "general stimulus" even though unemployment stood at 12.5 per cent. (T. W. Hutchison, Keynes v. the 'Keynesians'...?, The Institute for Economic Affairs, 1977, p. 11).

What we need to look at is the money supply. A vital factor in the economy's behaviour that our all-knowing economic commentariat keep overlooking. (This lot even manage to talk about the Reserve's monetary policy without ever referring to the money supply). Reserve figures show that since last September all measures of inflation have been falling. They also show that the prices of materials used in manufacturing started to drop in the same month and that the CPI flattened out at the same time. Therefore it should be no surprise to see that GDP also started to slow in September and has obviously continued to do so.

...Allow me to once again repeat a basic economic fact: entrepreneurship drives an economy and savings fuel it. Savings are what produces capital accumulation, otherwise called economic growth. The idea that GDP and growing productivity always indicate growth is a grave error. A situation can actually emerge where GDP and productivity continue to rise even as the capital stock is consumed and heavy unemployment continues to burden the economy. This is what happened in the US during the Great Depression. For example, from 1929 to 1936 labour productivity rose by 25 per cent.
Jackon's basic economic fact - entrepreneurship drives an economy and savings fuel it - should be taught in school so that the next generation can aspire to become entrepreneurs, as well as focus on saving for the future rather than spending now and paying (more) later.

In 50 years' time those societies that have enabled their people to look after themselves will have advanced past those who ensure their people are reliant on government doing things for them.

In 1964 Donald Horne released The Lucky Country, a book about how lucky Australia has been to have, as the Wikipedia page describes, "...natural resources, weather, history, distance from problems elsewhere in the world, and other sorts of prosperity."

As Horne put it, "Australia is a lucky country, run by second-rate people who share its luck."

It's hard to argue that we are lucky to have so many natural advantages over the rest of the world. It's unfortunate that from time to time we end up with second rate governments and, in the case of the current one, third rate.

The Rudd government's predicted public debt is $300 billion, which is about $380 billion lower than when they came to office in 2007 due to the surplus built up by the previous government.

If you want to get a sense of how lucky we are then check out the following:

(click to embiggen)

The itty bitty decrease on the right hand side is Australia.

There's no doubt that things are going to get much worse in the world before things get better.

However, there's also no doubt that the policies of the Rudd government are going to make Australia's recovery slower and more painful than they would otherwise be.

The same goes for the US where Obama's policy of bailing out failed states could lead to the country losing its AAA credit rating.

Ditto Great Britain.

It's unfortunate that at a time of global financial crisis that we have such incompetents as Obama, Brown and Rudd.

(Nothing Follows)

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Non-scientist scrutinises real scientist

Computer teacher Tim Lambert has a history of beclowning himself when it comes to analysing those things he disagrees with.

For example, he denies there's a UN ban on DDT and, anyway, even if there isn't then mosquitoes are resistant to it so there's no point using it.

Facts, you see, are not one of Lambert's strong points.

DDT is listed as a persistent organic pollutant by the UN and if a country wants WHO funding then they can only get it if they don't use DDT.

Lambert does not believe this is the case. One of my close relatives was directly involved in the issue, working in Africa and representing the UN. What he told me, and showed me, proves Lambert and other DDT detractors dead wrong. When my relative retires from working and is not subject to the blowback of disclosure then I'll give the details.

Anyhow, Lambert has undertaken to critique Ian Plimer's new book, Heaven and Earth, subjecting it to exactly the sort of scrutiny they should be undertaking on anything produced by Hansen, the Hokey Stick team, Lonnie Thompson and the rest of the useless scientists that support the IPCC's ridiculous position on global warming.

Check out the latest posts:

Ian Plimer lies about source of his figure 3

Ian Enting is checking Plimer's claims

Sales of Heaven and Earth

Reaction to Ashley's review of Plimer

An astronomer reviews Ian Plimer's book

The Australian's War on Science 38: more denial from Ian Plimer

Ian Plimer 'can not recall' where his graph came from

Plimer does the Gish gallop

Ian Plimer and the health effects of mercury poisoning from land mines

The science is missing from Ian Plimer's "Heaven and Earth"

The fact that the left has reacted so violently, and irrationally, to the success of Heaven and Earth demonstrates how worried they are that the so called science supporting their position is about to be exposed for the sham it is.

Lambert is a self professed computer expert and I have no doubt he has a fair bit of skill in that area.

Why doesn't he analyse how climate models are created and why they have a zero percent successful forecasting rate?

That would be the intellectually honest thing to do if he really wanted to make a contribution.

(Nothing Follows)

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Rudd government to lower Australian living standards

Gerard Brookes has been knocking it out of the park lately in his critique of the reckless spending of both the Australian and US governments.

The only outcome can be reduced living standards into the future.

There is no other outcome possible.
In an effort to avert the nonexistent danger of another Great Depression the Labor Government has decided to spend like a squad of drunken Obama's. The real increase in government spending for this financial year and the next will be in the region of 18 per cent, with outlays running at about 29 per cent of GDP for this year. This lot is beginning to make the feckless Whitlam and Cairns — the latter being Whitlam's cretinous Treasurer — look like a pair of pikers.

Unlike some commentators I haven't bothered to wade through that monstrosity called the budget because most of it doesn't matter. For example, revenue and growth figures are utterly worthless. You would be better off reading tea leaves. One thing and one thing only matters here: sound economic principles. In this respect the budget — like the great majority of budgets everywhere — is a disgrace, just like most of our economic commentary.

It is being argued that this spending is basic Keynesian counter-cyclical fiscal policy and is necessary to keep unemployment below the 10 per cent level. For Swan this is a sacred duty and one that extends to eliminating long-term unemployment. As part of this duty he and Rudd plan to ruthlessly raid Australians' superannuation funds in an effort to offset part of their $58 billion deficit. This is what they call responsible fiscal management. The rest of us call it stealing. Not only does this proposed act of grand larceny reveal an absence of anything resembling ethics it also exposes their total economic illiteracy.

Allow me to return to my basic premise that what really matters are sound economic principles. For starters, the financial crisis is not a crisis of capitalism but of dangerous economic fallacies that central banks have been indulging in and which their staff learnt from their economics lecturers, not all of whom were Keynesians. These banks caused the world's money supply to explode by massively expanding credit. Much of this credit eventually turned up as "idle deposits" which were then immediately labelled by central bankers, treasury official and the usual band of useless economic commentators as "surplus saving".

It would have been obvious anyone actually versed in monetary economics and the history of economic thought that these so-called surplus savings were — like "excess investment" — a symptom of inflation. Let me put it this way, when savings exceed investment it is inflation. And that is exactly what we got on global scale.

Irrespective of what our economic pundits say Australia was fully embroiled in this world-wide lunacy. For example, from March 1996 — when Howard was elected — to last October currency rose by 129 per cent, bank deposits by 201 per cent and M1 by 185 per cent. It was this reckless monetary expansion that fuelled the boom and the government's surplus, not decent economic management. Booms, which are never good things, always come to an end. This brings us back to sound economic thinking.

Every boom creates distortions. When the boom busts these extortions are revealed as idle capital and rising unemployment. Moreover, before the bust makes itself fully felt it first emerges in manufacturing. I spent ages pointing out that Australian manufacturing was contracting and that this was evidence that the boom was coming to an end which meant that it was only a matter of time before the rest of the economy was hit and the rate of unemployment rose. The likes of Terry McCrann disagreed, writing nonsense about a "dual economy". Well, I was right and they were wrong. (And yes, I am one of those people who will tell you "I told you so").

The first thing to note is that there is nothing Keynesian about Rudd's spending binge. Nor can it halt a real rise in unemployment. This is not what Keynes was about. When Keynes spoke of deficits and borrowing he didn't mean that the government should borrow a pound from Fred the butcher to put Bill the bricklayer to work. This would be nothing but a transfer of purchasing power from one person to another via the government.

The essence of Keynesianism is that the central bank should expand the money supply. Even our economic pundits should be able to see that running down the surplus adds nothing to the quantity of money. Moreover, any stimulatory effects will be very short-lived. Unfortunately our economic Solons cannot even work that one out. Government borrowing for the sake of keeping people off the dole is self-destructive. It increases the national debt without providing a genuine net return to the country.

In a free market the emergence of a large pool of unemployed after a bust is always a temporary phenomenon so long as governments allow labour markets to clear. (This is a fundamental economic fact that Australia's so-called free market economists failed miserably to convey to both the public and to politicians, partly because the don't understand it themselves). Nevertheless, the government insists on running up a massive deficit which is bound to eventually raise interest rates and crowd out genuine productivity-raising investment.

In a pathetic and thoroughly immoral attempt to lessen the impact of their own profligacy Rudd and Swan are targeting pension funds. Now pension funds are savings. Without savings capital accumulation is not possible. It therefore follows that taxing these funds amounts to taxing future living standards. The same goes for venture capital and capital gains. Once again, it is entrepreneurship that drives an economy and savings that fuel it, not politicians and bureaucrats.

Ultimately the government will have to turn to the Reserve to pump up the money supply to increase what Keynesians call demand and what real economists call inflation. But using inflation to escape a recession is like trying to cure a drug addict by pumping him full of cocaine. The sad truth is that no one in our think tanks, the Reserve or the Treasury have any genuine understanding of the dangerous economic forces that are now at work. And this is why they keep getting it wrong. No wonder they are afraid of an open debate.
Economic blatherers on the left are blathering on like professional blatherers about how saving jobs has to be the government's top priority.

It's drivel, of course, because they're the wrong jobs and need to be washed out of the system.

That's what a recession does.

Australia has much more pain to come directly because of the policies of this government, the worst in Australia's history.

The US is going to be stuffed for more than a decade as a result of what Mr Obama as done...

(Nothing Follows)

Monday, 18 May 2009

Ideological enemies embrace

Notre Dame giving time to President Obama is like the Simon Wiesenthal Center giving time to David Irving.

In this embrace of competing ideologies Notre Dame will soon find that they're in a death embrace with a Black Widow they can't win.

(Nothing Follows)

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Sunday night rock 'n' roll covers

"Get It On" (retitled "Bang a Gong (Get It On)" in the U.S.) was the second UK number one song for the British rock group T. Rex. It was released from their best-known album, Electric Warrior.

While it only spent four weeks at the top in the UK, starting July 24, 1971 ("Hot Love" was number one for six weeks from March-May), it was the group's biggest hit overall, selling nearly a million copies in the UK. It peaked on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 at number ten in January 1972, becoming the band's only major U.S. hit. The song reached #12 in Canada in March 1972.

The Hollywood and Vine version has had less than 200 views on Youtube but it's actually a pretty good version and the girls have really good voices.

Bang A Gong (Get It On) - Terrific live version

Power Station - what was Robert Palmer (R.I.P.) thinking?

Hollywood & Vine - not bad at all

(Nothing Follows)

Saturday, 16 May 2009

The Real Rudd Budget

The history of Australian politics is that Labor gives us deficits and Liberals pay it off.

Not too different to the rest of the world in which the left insists on spending the next generation's wealth to pay for supposedly progressive policies in the here and now.

It's completely immoral, of course.

After the budget was released the other day the shadow treasurer, Joe Hockey, released a short video showing the reality of Labor's past, as well as uncomfortable truth about Rudd's budget.

(Nothing Follows)

Friday, 15 May 2009

20 minutes of complete fabrication - "The Story of Stuff"

I tell you whose opinion I respect the least when they make pronouncements on the economy - those people who went to school, went to university and have then spent their entire careers on the public payroll.

These people have no concept - nil, nada, none - at all about what it means to create value and to be judged on their real ability in the real world.

Unless you have had to sell skills or product into the market you simply do not understand how markets really work.

One such ignoramus is Annie Leonard, a former Greenpeace employee, who has developed a 20 minute screed on how bad American consumerism really is for the world.

She is a piece of crap.


Because the solutions these people propose have been tried before and not only failed miserably but also been massively damaging for the environment let alone caused the premature deaths of tens of millions of people.

There really is a reason that capitalist societies have the best environmental record.

From the New York Times:
The thick-lined drawings of the Earth, a factory and a house, meant to convey the cycle of human consumption, are straightforward and child-friendly. So are the pictures of dark puffs of factory smoke and an outlined skull and crossbones, representing polluting chemicals floating in the air.

Which is one reason “The Story of Stuff,” a 20-minute video about the effects of human consumption, has become a sleeper hit in classrooms across the nation.

The video is a cheerful but brutal assessment of how much Americans waste, and it has its detractors. But it has been embraced by teachers eager to supplement textbooks that lag behind scientific findings on climate change and pollution. And many children who watch it take it to heart: riding in the car one day with his parents in Tacoma, Wash., Rafael de la Torre Batker, 9, was worried about whether it would be bad for the planet if he got a new set of Legos.

“When driving by a big-box store, you could see he was struggling with it,” his father, David Batker, said. But then Rafael said, “It’s O.K. if I have Legos because I’m going to keep them for a very long time,” Mr. Batker recalled.

The video was created by Annie Leonard, a former Greenpeace employee and an independent lecturer who paints a picture of how American habits result in forests being felled, mountaintops being destroyed, water being polluted and people and animals being poisoned. Ms. Leonard, who describes herself as an “unapologetic activist,” is also critical of corporations and the federal government, which she says spends too much on the military.

Ms. Leonard put the video on the Internet in December 2007. Word quickly spread among teachers, who recommended it to one another as a brief, provocative way of drawing students into a dialogue about how buying a cellphone or jeans could contribute to environmental devastation.

So far, six million people have viewed the film at its site,, and millions more have seen it on YouTube. More than 7,000 schools, churches and others have ordered a DVD version, and hundreds of teachers have written Ms. Leonard to say they have assigned students to view it on the Web.

It has also won support from independent groups that advise teachers on curriculum choices. Facing the Future, a curriculum developer for schools in all 50 states, is drafting lesson plans based on the video. And Ms. Leonard has a contract with Simon & Schuster to write a book based on the video.

The enthusiasm is not universal. In January, a school board in Missoula County, Mont., decided that screening the video treaded on academic freedom after a parent complained that its message was anticapitalist.

But many educators say the video is a boon to teachers as they struggle to address the gap in what textbooks say about the environment and what science has revealed in recent years.

“Frankly, a lot of the textbooks are awful on the subject of the environment,” said Bill Bigelow, the curriculum editor of Rethinking Schools, a quarterly magazine that has promoted “The Story of Stuff” to its subscribers and on its Web site, which reaches about 600,000 educators a month. “The one used out here in Oregon for global studies — it’s required — has only three paragraphs on climate change. So, yes, teachers are looking for alternative resources.”

Environmental education is still a young and variable field, according to Frank Niepold, the climate education coordinator at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. There are few state or local school mandates on how to teach the subject.

The agency is seeking to change that, but in the interim many teachers are developing their own lesson plans on climate change, taking some elements from established sources like the National Wildlife Federation and others from less conventional ones like “The Story of Stuff.”

Ms. Leonard is self-educated on where waste goes and worked for Greenpeace to prevent richer nations from dumping their trash in poorer ones. She produced the video, with the Free Range Studios company, and with money from numerous nonprofit groups; the largest single giver was the Tides Foundation. She did so, she said, after tiring of traveling often to present her views at philanthropic and environmental conferences. She attributes the response to the video’s simplicity.

“A lot of what’s in the film was already out there,” Ms. Leonard said, “but the style of the animation makes it easy to watch. It is a nice counterbalance to the starkness of the facts.”

The video certainly makes the facts stark and at times very political: “We’ll start with extraction, which is a fancy word for natural resource exploitation, which is a fancy word for trashing the planet,” she says at one point. “What this looks like is we chop down the trees, we blow up mountains to get the metals inside, we use up all the water and we wipe out the animals.”

Mark Lukach, who teaches global studies at Woodside Priory, a Catholic college-preparatory school in Portola Valley, Calif., acknowledged that the film is edgy, but said the 20-minute length gives students time to challenge it in class after viewing it.

“Compared to ‘An Inconvenient Truth,’ ” he said, referring to Al Gore’s one-and-a-half-hour documentary on climate change, “it is much shorter and easier to compact into a class segment. You can watch it and then segue into a discussion.”

Mr. Lukach’s students made a response video and posted it on YouTube, asking Ms. Leonard to scare them less and give them ideas on how to make things better. That in turn inspired high school students in Mendocino, Calif., to post an answer to Woodside, with suggested activities.

Dawn Zweig, who teaches environmental studies at the Putney School, a private academy in Vermont, said that the very reason the video appealed to teachers — it shows students how their own behavior is linked to what is happening across the globe — could also raise sensitive issues. She said students, particularly affluent ones, might take the critique personally. “If you offend a student, they turn off the learning button and then you won’t get anywhere,” Ms. Zweig said.

Sometimes teachers observe the opposite: children who become environmental advocates at home after seeing the video. After Jasmine Madavi, 18, saw it last year in Mr. Lukach’s class at Woodside Priory, she began nagging her parents to stop buying bottled water. Her mother resisted, saying that filtered tap water, Jasmine’s suggested alternative, would not taste as good. But Jasmine bought the filter on her own, and the household is now converted.

“You just have to be persistent,” said Ms. Madavi, who is now a community college student. “When you use a water bottle, it just doesn’t disappear. That’s Annie’s message.”

Most parents take such needling with humor. But Mark Zuber, a parent of a child at Big Sky High School in Missoula, had a stronger reaction when a teacher showed the video to his daughter last year. “There was not one positive thing about capitalism in the whole thing,” Mr. Zuber said.

Corporations, for example, are portrayed as a bloated person sporting a top hat and with a dollar sign etched on its front.

He described the video as one-sided. “It was very well done, very effective advocacy, but it was just that,” he said.

Mr. Zuber argued before the Missoula County School Board that the way in which “The Story of Stuff” was presented, without an alternative point of view, violated its standards on bias, and the board agreed in a 4-to-3 vote.

Still, Ms. Leonard is hoping the video will circle the globe. “I’ve heard from teachers in Palestine and Papua New Guinea,” she said. “It is just spreading and spreading.”
Capitalism has lifted more people out of poverty than any other system.

Capitalism has been more positive for the environment than any other system.

Not that you'd know that from watching The Story of Stuff.

Here's the critique (part 1 of 4, follow the links for the other 3 parts):

(Nothing Follows)

Monday, 4 May 2009

Plastic shopping bag ban lunacy

Ok. Ok. I know I said I'm busy and I am but this one just has to be commented on.

Tim Blair highlights an article about the South Australian government banning plastic shopping bags.
CHECKOUT-style plastic bags will disappear from South Australian shops from the close of business today as the state becomes the first in the nation to ban them.

All retailers - from large supermarkets to small takeaway food shops - are subject to the ban and will offer compostable as well as reusable bags at a cost to consumers instead.

"By banning checkout-style plastic bags we'll be cutting waste to landfill, we'll reduce the amount of litter on our streets, in our parks and our waterways,'' said state environment and conservation minister Jay Weatherill in a statement.

"Producing four billion of these bags across the country each year is an enormous waste of energy and resources and the ban will slash South Australia's share of that waste.''

The ban is expected to remove about 400 million plastic bags from SA's waste each year.

When stores open tomorrow shoppers will either have to carry the reusable so-called "green bags'', or pay up to 25 cents at major retailers for biodegradable bags.
How, exactly will this save even one marine animal's life, which is part the justification for banning them?

This is the lifecycle of a plastic shopping bag:
  • manufacturer makes bag
  • bag goes to supermarket
  • consumer buys goods, which are put in bag
  • bag happily transports goods home
  • groceries unpacked, bag stuck in a bag holder/other bags
  • when its time comes, bag removed from holder and used for rubbish
  • when full, bag tied up and thrown in garbage bin
  • garbage bin goes out on bin night
  • dirty, great garbage truck turns up and empties bin
  • truck wanders off to local tip, deposits contents
  • bag buried
  • R.I.P bag
Here are some plastic bag facts from Canada and I'm sure Australia would be similar:

Environmental Impact
  • They are one of the greenest and most energy-efficient bag materials produced today.
  • Compared to plastic shopping bags, paper bags use 3.4 times more energy, produce 2 times the green house gas emissions and use 17 times more water in their manufacture.
  • The amount of resin used in each bag has been decreased or “lightweighted” over time.
  • Today’s plastic shopping bags use 75 % less resin than they did 20 years ago and 63 % less energy in their manufacture, while maintaining the same strength and durability.
  • Yearly, the manufacture of all the plastic shopping bags used in Canada account for less than one-tenth of 1% of the annual oil and natural gas use in Canada.
  • It takes 7 trucks to haul 2 million paper bags, and only 1 truck to haul 2 million plastic bags.
Health and Safety
  • Plastic shopping bags protect our food from external contaminants, and other serious food borne risks such as Salmonella and e Coli.
Reuse and Recycling
  • Plastic shopping bags enjoy high re-use among Canadians. Independent waste audits show that at least 50% of all plastic bags are reused eg. as kitchen catchers, picking up after pets, carrying lunches and books etc.
  • Conventional plastic shopping bags are 100% recyclable.
  • If all of the plastic bags used in Canada were to end up in landfill, they would make up less than 1% of residential solid waste by weight.
  • Percentage breakdown of municipal landfill is: Organics 45%, Paper 22%, Plastics 9%, Glass 5% and Metals 3%.
  • Plastic shopping bags are not a major component of litter. Studies of Greater Toronto area communities show plastic shopping bags consistently account for less than 1% of urban litter.
The banning of plastic shopping bags is simply an act of bastardy by a government enthralled to environmental interests.

It's the poor who will be hit hardest, of course, which is why the SA government is an immoral piece of crap.

(Nothing Follows)

Please explain

Haven't got time at the moment to post as frequently as normal.

In the meantime, if someone can explain to me how this works then that would be great.

From today's The Australian:

Apparently, falling employment + lower house prices = increased stock market.

(Nothing follows)