Help solve a mystery

As anyone who has read my views over the years would know, Malcolm has never been my cup of tea, but when it came to the election last year, I was all in for the Libs. After the bi[!] by-election yesterday, he will now lead the Libs into the next election and I am good with that. Surround even a very faulty Prime Minister with the right sort of party and things can work out. In politics, you pick the side you prefer and hope for the best. Perfection in everything is not to be expected. You are lucky to get a 51-49 for most of what is up for grabs, and often enough you are choosing 40-60 in preference to 30-70.

But this time I am coming back to a question I raised yesterday in an oblique sort of way. This is what I ask for an answer to. I know there are #NeverTrumpers and #AntiTrumpers out there but what exactly could they have expected to have occurred instead had Hillary or someone else been elected? To me it remains a mystery. What were they looking for and why is Donald Trump not at least about as good as one could have hoped for in an American president at the present time, with the political and media ebbs and flows being what they are?

Posted in American politics, Federal Politics | 41 Comments

Bennelong By-election Forum 2017

Posted in Open Forum | 128 Comments

It’s a new economic world coming

From Drudge:

You don’t get all that much credit for an economic upturn since life is never perfect even if everyone has a job, specially if everyone has to work to earn a living. But it will create wealth since the tax cuts are also coming with spending restraint (of a kind) and the removal of regulations at a rate of 22 gone for every new one introduced.

I know there are #NeverTrumpers out there but what exactly they could have expected to have occurred instead that was better remains a mystery. And speaking of which, here is a rhetorical question that needs no answer: Why Does the Media Not Report That ISIS Was Defeated in Iraq and Its Capital City of Raqqa in Syria Has Been Captured by US-Allied Troops? As he says, I would imagine for much the same reason the media is silent on the economy.

And let me add this: GOP Senators Unanimous in Support for Tax Bill.


Posted in American politics, Economics and economy | 16 Comments

Ho! Ho! Ho! A present from Santa Trump

Trumpie kicks another goal.

WASHINGTON, DC – President Donald Trump broke the all-time record on first-year judicial appointments to the federal appeals courts on Thursday, as the Senate confirmed James Ho to the U.S. Court of Appeals to the Fifth Circuit, a nominee notable as a racial minority who is outspoken on the importance of constitutional conservatism.
Senators voted 53-43 to confirm Ho of the Fifth Circuit, which has jurisdiction over Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Democrats voted overwhelming against Ho, as they have done for all of President Trump’s nominees to the appeals courts.

Unlike some judicial nominees, Ho is assertive and unapologetic about his adherence to originalism—the judicial philosophy that the Constitution must always be interpreted according to the original public meaning of its words. When senators asked him if he was an originalist, instead of the verbal tap-dance many nominees do to avoid that hot-button term, he answered bluntly, “Yes, I am an originalist.”

Ho likewise trumpets his affiliation with the conservative Federalist Society, which is vilified daily in left-of-center circles. Rather than downplay that connection, when asked if he was connected to the organization, he answered, “I am proud to be a member of the Federalist Society. I have been a member since my earliest days in law school.”

Ho is the 12th judge confirmed this year to the federal appeals courts. Kennedy and Nixon appointed 11 judges in their first year.

The Senate also confirmed six judges to other federal courts in the face of unprecedented obstruction from Senate Democrats. Their filibusters consumed up to 30 hours of floor time per nominee in an effort to limit the number of judges confirmed under President Trump.

Posted in American politics, Rafe | 9 Comments

David Leyonhjelm. Accelerating the share of women in management

Although men typically hold more senior positions in the paid workplace than women, this gap is shrinking. The question is, how fast should it shrink in the future?

Authoritarians will favour quicker action than libertarians, because authoritarians are less likely to concern themselves with the injustice to individual boys and men of an accelerated shrinking of the gap in managerial positions or of creating a less productive organisation.

The Government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency has some reasonable advice on how increased female representation in management might be achieved. It calls on organisations to advertise for all positions broadly, and to critically assess whether the criteria they use for recruitment and promotion are in the best interests of the organisation. The Agency also outlines how, if the pools from which staff are recruited have a higher proportion of women than current management, the proportion of women in management will naturally rise over time.

However, the Agency also gives some insidious advice that would sacrifice justice and productivity in order to accelerate the achievement of a higher proportion of women in management.

The Agency advises that female turnover can be reduced and prospects for female promotion boosted by increasing workplace flexibility and the use of ‘sponsorship’ programs to help female staff achieve their full potential.

Workplace flexibility means allowing working-from-home, part-time work and working irregular hours, and directing more of an organisation’s payroll towards paid leave rather than hourly wages. This might be good for the individual beneficiaries, but it is likely to inhibit the work of other staff and lead to less getting done at greater expense. A drop in productivity is assured if it is not part of the conversation when workplace flexibility is under discussion.
And female-only ‘sponsorship’ programs are inherently unjust. It means that when there are two staff members with similar qualifications and potential, the female employee is developed, mentored and shepherded towards promotion while the male employee is not.

How can anyone with a son think this is the right response to past decades of mistreatment of daughters? Visiting the sins of the father on the son is both immoral and lazy thinking. It is as if we see the injustice of blacks being ordered to sit at the back of the bus, and our response is to order all white folk to sit at the back of the bus instead.
The Workplace Gender Equality Agency unashamedly advises organisations to recruit and promote a higher proportion of women than the proportion of women in the pool from which an organisation promotes and recruits. So if an organisation is looking for 20 recruits from a class of 40 engineering graduates, only six of whom are female, the Agency would advise the organisation to hire more than three of these women (and thus fewer than 17 of the men).

So if you are one of the male graduates, being in the top half of your class might not be good enough. But if you are one of the female graduates, you might gain a position even if you are in the bottom half of your class.

The Workplace Gender Equality Agency calls on managers to report on whether they achieve their female recruitment and promotion targets, but does not call on them to report on any of the individual injustices or hits to productivity that occur along the way. Like so many authoritarians before them, the Agency either ignores or does not care about the means to its end.

Gender-blind recruitment is a worthy goal, but we are not heading in that direction. Instead we are being encouraged to see gender as the first and most important thing.

There are perverse consequences from a preoccupation with group identity rather than individual attributes. For example, while women managers are in the minority in most industries, they are the majority of managers in health care, social assistance, education and training.

True gender equality would necessitate promotions in these fields being skewed towards men rather than women. This would cause untold injustice for the women who deserve promotion, and damage the productivity of these industries whose importance will only grow in coming years.

It is said that when powerful men have daughters, they start to fight for women’s rights in the workplace. But they should also think about the future of their sons.

David Leyonhjelm is a Senator for the Liberal Democrats

Posted in Guest Post | 50 Comments

Open Forum: December 16, 2017

Posted in Open Forum | 839 Comments

Blockchain and Trust

From the WSJ:

Blockchain overcomes the problem of lack of trust, thereby eliminating the need for middlemen. The concept relies on math and technology that are complex and often unintelligible to the uninitiated. Here, it is sufficient to appreciate only a few elements: A blockchain is effectively an interconnected, distributed ledger. New transactions are added to the chain and then, once cryptographically locked, cannot be altered. The result is a system of records that is secure and auditable but controlled by no central authority. When a bitcoin user wants to transfer funds, that transaction is added to the blockchain and becomes a permanent part of the shared record.

Blockchains can reduce wasteful byproducts of distrust. Rather than paying intermediaries, the technology allows users to do business with each other by trusting in a vast collective to verify transactions. That’s more important than ever, as people buy and sell online with unknowable strangers.

Consider the repercussions if blockchain technology becomes widely adopted: Financially disenfranchised people, those without access to banks or credit cards, will be able to buy and sell online. Information on deeds, titles, professional credentials and even simple identification will be easily obtainable, transparent, reliable and free from error. The costs associated with many transactions will fall as middleman are cut out and cumbersome government regulation is avoided.

The transaction cost economics of that is explained here.

My RMIT colleagues Chris Berg, Jason Potts and I explain why this is important here (emphasis original):

But the blockchain allows us to exchange differently. A better metaphor for the blockchain is the invention of mechanical time.  Mechanical time opened up entirely new categories of economic organisation that had until then been not just impossible, but unimaginable.

One of the criticisms of blockchain is the amount of electricity that is employed in the mining process. That, however, is simply a realisation of the cost of trust that is imposed on the economy in traditional transactions. I expect to see innovation in that space at some point.

Posted in Cryptoeconomics | 15 Comments

David Bidstrup: “The madhouse effect”: how man-made global insanity threatens our future.

Looking at the behaviour of those who would lead us back to the dark ages in order to “save the planet”, the “science” of “global warming” and the insane policies put in place to achieve our salvation from “climate change catastrophe” provides some interesting insights.

We are expected to believe that the “average temperature” of the earth can be measured to an accuracy of hundredths of a degree and to be alarmed when the latest “hottest year on record” turns out to be 4 one hundredths of a degree warmer than the previous one. The question to ask is “how do you measure to that accuracy and what are the error margins in the observations”? We are supposed to be alarmed about a temperature rise of less than 1 degree C in 130 or so years.

The “global average temperature”, whatever that is, must keep rising to keep the narrative alive and there are legions of people searching for it every day. They look under the bed, in the garden shed and everywhere in between because “it has to be there somewhere” or the whole ridiculous idea collapses.

We are told that carbon dioxide, a substance that is the foundation of all life on earth and is vital to the growth of all plant life, is “pollution”. Without carbon dioxide there would be no life, intelligent or otherwise. I suppose we can blame carbon dioxide for providing our politicians.

It is vilified as a “greenhouse gas” but in the real world carbon dioxide concentrations are increased in commercial glasshouses by a factor of about 3 times the “natural” level as it promotes faster plant growth – so it really is a “greenhouse gas” and a very useful one.

Higher concentrations in our atmosphere would do more good than harm in terms of feeding the ever increasing world population and too low a concentration would be a disaster.

We are told coal is “dirty” because its use produces carbon dioxide and this allows fanatics to rationalise the destruction of the second most effective means of producing electricity to provide the energy needed for society to thrive.

In the insane quest to “reduce carbon emissions” we replace cheap and effective electricity generation with the most expensive and inefficient alternatives that produce intermittent energy at the whim of nature and are totally unreliable.

We suffer eye wateringly high prices and energy insecurity as well as the visual pollution of the ghastly wind farms and the health effects they have on the near neighbours.

Apparently “climate change/global warming” is caused by “the greenhouse effect” but it bears no similarity to the operation of a physical glass greenhouse other than the name.

A “real” greenhouse stops warm air from rising and being replaced by more dense cooler air by means of a physical barrier that separates the interior from the outside world so convective air movements cannot take place.

Apparently this effect is supposed to happen in an open environment where the air gets warmed by the surface of earth, (which is warmed by the sun), carbon dioxide “absorbs the heat” and then somehow defies physics and does not get intermixed with the cooler air around it.

Hot air rises, it does not stay still. As it rises, cooler more dense air from above will flow in to replace the warmed rising air. As altitude increases the temperature drops by 10 degrees per kilometre so as the hot air rises it will exchange heat with the cooler air until there is thermal equilibrium. At that point there will be no further exchange of heat.

The branch of physics called thermodynamics, (the branch concerned with heat and temperature and their relation to energy and work), has a fundamental law that says heat always flows from a hot body to a cool body – never the other way around – and that an object being heated by a source can never get hotter than the source. Thermal equilibrium strikes again.

If the heat transferred from the surface, (which is heated by the sun), warms the adjacent air it cannot warm it in excess of the surface temperature.

The warmed air cannot transfer heat back to the surface because at best it is at the same temperature, (thermal equilibrium again), and more likely is cooler. To transfer heat back to the surface it needs to be warmer than the surface and the question to ask is where did the extra heat come from? There are no “free lunches” in physics.

Heat cannot flow from a cooler object to a warmer object. If it did you could warm the kitchen by opening the freezer door or boil the kettle by placing it on a block of ice.

It seems that the mechanism that underpins the “science” of global warming/climate change” is based on disobeying the basic fundamentals of physics and so is a bit like perpetual motion machines and alchemists turning excrement into gold – although the “renewable energy” industry is having some success with this.

We are told it is “our fault”; we are putting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and cooking the planet but exactly how this is being done cannot be explained by some fanciful “greenhouse effect” as it is inconsistent with basic physics.

It seems clear to me that carbon dioxide has absolutely nothing to do with changing “global temperature” and that “natural causes” might be a better place to start looking and leave man alone.

The fact that climate is always changing and has managed to do so without our contribution of carbon dioxide in the past millions of years might make those of us with the capacity for critical thinking accept that our tiny “emissions” might not amount to a hill of beans and that “natural forces” might actually be the reason. Try googling Milankovitch cycles or sunspot data.

The earth managed to come out of an ice age without our help and it will go into another one some time, also without our help. When that happens life as we know it will cease to be. Let us hope it will not be too soon.

We are told we must “reduce carbon emissions” and the preferred method is to return to the dark ages and suffer the economic consequences.

It matters not that the “developing economies”, (China and India), pump out more that our annual contribution every few days and do not look like stopping anytime soon, in fact they are increasing.

It has become our “moral duty” to make some immeasurable reduction so we can “feel warm and fuzzy”, sitting in the dark eating cold baked beans as our society falls apart around us while we meet our “international obligations” to commit economic suicide in a grand but futile cause.

“Climate change” is all about drama. We have the fanatics shouting at us daily about the catastrophes that await us unless we “act now”.

Every problem is caused by mankind and carbon dioxide – sea level rise, (not true), ice caps melting, (not true, Antarctica has an average temperature of minus 49. It will take a lot of heat to melt that), “extreme weather” like storms, floods, hurricanes, cyclones, bushfires and droughts, (all not true) and the “death” of the Great Barrier Reef, (also not true).

“Tackling climate change” is the rationale behind any insane policy that increases the cost of living. “We have to do it to save the planet”. It’s a pity you cannot afford to have electricity, gas, water, a job and a home with food in the larder and glass in the windows.

“Climate change” is a blend of fanatical dogma and opportunities for “renewable energy” providers to gouge the populace with high prices that arise from using stupid technology instead of methods that have served society well for years and could continue to do so if sanity prevailed.

We need to remember the first principle of propaganda that says “a lie told once remains a lie, a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth”.

Also we need to remember that those that control the information control the narrative so it is vital that we insist that all the information and varied views – for and against – are made public and that policy makers take note rather than adopt populist positions where they milk the drama for political purposes.

We need to see those propaganda statements for what they are.  “97% of scientists agree” is the catchcry without a skerrick of proof that it is true. It is not – show me the list, what is a “scientist”?  “Climate change is real” is another although it is actually a statement of the “bleeding obvious” – it does and always has.

We need to see that the abuse hurled at anyone who dares offer a contrary view might be because there is something people are trying to hide and that attack then becomes their best form of defence.

While our “leaders” carry on in their state of blissful ignorance with their minds unencumbered by any actual knowledge they are being led by the nose by “science” fanatics, renewable energy carpetbaggers, economists and greenies who shout at us and foam at the mouth while the place is falling apart.

They paint themselves into populist ideological corners and rather than seeing the error of their ways they nail the colours to the mast and double down indulging in stupid competitions with their “oppositions” and promise more outlandish “solutions” to the “energy crisis” their policies have produced.

Bad decisions are made which make the country poorer, throw people out of work, shut down industries and impose costs that society cannot afford. The costs are charged to the federal or state credit cards and the people as ultimate underwriters of this profligacy pay the bills.

It is insane. It’s not the “greenhouse effect” that will end us all; it will be the “madhouse effect” where delusional intellectual dwarfs lead us down the road to ruin.

When we perform our act of collective insanity every 3 or 4 years and vote thinking the outcome will be different we need to look very carefully at the qualities of those who present themselves as candidates.

We need to determine whether they have IQ’s anywhere above ambient temperature, have the capacity for critical thinking, are not captives to vested interests and have actually done something socially useful in their lives.

We need to agitate and be noisy and demanding rather than hoping things will be better after a cup of tea and a lie down because they will not change unless we get off our bums and do something to change this insane situation.

Imagine the outrage when the “greenhouse effect” is officially pronounced a dud idea and all the pain, expense, disruption and impoverishment that has flowed from the quest to “save the planet” turns out to be a monumental waste of time and money?

It will be a classic example of “act in haste and repent at leisure”.

“The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him”.

Leo Tolstoy

Posted in Global warming and climate change policy, Guest Post | 16 Comments

So this is what Treasury does these days

I was looking for the Treasury paper on wages growth –  it is a very solid piece of work, by the way – but came across the newly designed website.  Actually, I thought the old one was better but I guess all those staff in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth have nothing much to do, so they got to it and redesigned it to make it worse.

But here  I learned:

The Treasury is engaged in a range of issues from macroeconomic policy settings to microeconomic reform, climate change to social policy, as well as tax policy and international agreements and forums.

Is this a joke?  Treasury engaged in climate change.  Treasury engaged in social policy.

Mind you, the Treasury is really making headway with tax policy by recommending all sorts of new levies such as those in relation to superannuation and the Major Bank Levy.  Gosh, I’m glad we pay over 1000 Treasury bureaucrats to dream up those additional, economically damaging imposts.

But don’t you just love Treasury engaging in climate change?  Because that went so well when they undertook the modelling for Gillard’s ill-fated carbon tax.  You know the one that showed there would be minimal impact on our GDP because there would be global carbon price of $28 per tonne from 2016.  That worked well.  But I guess Martin Parkinson wasn’t going to have it any other way.

Along with successive governments of Australia over the past decade, it has been a steady downward decline in the quality of Treasury output and its associated prestige.

Hilariously, the Treasury website even references the bizarre Productivity Commission Shifting the Dial report.

I think the message is: take care when surfing the net.

Posted in Uncategorized | 21 Comments

David Bidstrup: What is 2 + 2? An old joke re-told.

An Engineer, a Mathematician and a “Climate scientist” are each asked “what is 2 + 2?

 The Engineer says “somewhere between 3.9 and 4.1”, the Mathematician says “4” and the “Climate scientist” says “what would you like it to be?”

This is the problem we have today.

 “Climate change” can be anything you want if you are a “follower”.

 If science is supposed to be the pursuit of “truth” through the application of the “scientific method” then the behaviour of the pro-climate change brigade shows that they are not interested in participating.

 When I look at the variety of temperature “measurements” that somehow determine the “global average temperature” and the statistical jiggery pokery that is used to “process” them I wonder why anyone swallows the result.

 As example, ocean temperatures are supposedly taken by “Argo buoys”. There are 4,000 buoys and 360 million square kilometres of ocean. That’s one measurement for every 90,000 square kilometres.

 By comparison, South Australia has an area of 984,000 square kilometres so it is equivalent to taking South Australia’s “average temperature” with 11 readings.

Satellites measure “near surface temperature” indirectly. Wikipedia – the great climate change proselytising organ – says the following. (The italics are mine).

“Satellites do not measure temperature. They measure radiances in various wavelength bands, which must then be mathematically inverted to obtain indirect inferences of temperature.

 The resulting temperature profiles depend on details of the methods that are used to obtain temperatures from radiances.

As a result, different groups that have analysed the satellite data have produced differing temperature datasets.

The satellite time series is not homogeneous. It is constructed from a series of satellites with similar but not identical sensors. The sensors also deteriorate over time, and corrections are necessary for orbital drift and decay. Particularly large differences between reconstructed temperature series occur at the few times when there is little temporal overlap between successive satellites, making intercalibration difficult”.

Added to this are a number of terrestrial measurements from ordinary old weather stations, but I cannot find a definitive number.

All of this data gets “processed” with “algorithms” that fill in the blanks with “estimates” and the output is a number that is meaningless in the real world – the “average temperature” of the earth that has an area of 510 million square kilometres.

Is your BS alarm screaming yet?

Looking at 2 places in South Australia for 12 December, using BOM data, Oodnadatta had an average for the day of 34.15, ((46.7+21.6)/2). Kingscote had an average of 21.2, ((33.8+8.6)/2).

There is a 13 degree difference between the “averages” and both are well in excess of the supposed “global mean” of about 14 degrees.

Oodnadatta was 20 degrees “hotter” and Kingscote was 8 degrees “hotter” than the “global mean”.

So what? All this tells us is that there are places on earth with temperatures much higher and much lower than the average. Antarctica varies from -10 to -60 degrees C; Death Valley has a range from 17 degrees to 47 degrees C.

Oodnadatta has recorded maxima above 50 degrees C in the past and will do so again.

The purpose of all the convoluted “measurements” for the “global mean” is to try and identify some “trend” showing how our “carbon emissions” are leading the earth to fry.

There is no honesty about the accuracy of the measurements or any error margin, we are expected to believe and be horrified when someone pronounces 2016 was “hotter” than 2015 by 4 one hundredths of a degree C.

There is no doubt 2017 will be “hotter” than 2016. Records will be “smashed” again, by a few hundredths of a degree because if it were not so the “theory” would look a bit shaky.

The “climate change” juggernaut might be de-railed. “Scientists” will be looking in every nook and cranny to find some extra heat.

If all of this was treated as a curiosity rather than an all-out assault on mankind and guilt trip because we live in houses with glass in the windows it might be tolerable.

Unfortunately many people, some who should know better and some who are just plain thick, have accepted this “climate change” drama and we have suffered from ridiculous policies and acts of economic vandalism because we need “to save the planet” even though it might not need to be saved.

It is not so much that it has become boring and tedious, the issue is that it is taken so seriously and the steps undertaken to “reduce emissions” of a benign gas that is the source of all life on earth are stupid and impoverish us.

Here are two quotes from the Cosmologist Carl Sagan. I do not pretend that he was referring to “climate change” but they are worth considering:

“Arguments from authority carry little weight – authorities have made mistakes in the past. They will do so again in the future. Perhaps a better way to say it is that in science there are no authorities; at most, there are experts.” 


 “We have designed our civilization based on science and technology and at the same time arranged things so that almost no one understands anything at all about science and technology. This is a clear prescription for disaster”.

 I still believe that 2+2 does equal 4.

Posted in Guest Post | 68 Comments