Iran – unfolding

An Iranian oil tanker,

IRAN FORCES SAY THEY SEIZED BRITISH-FLAGGED OIL TANKER IN GULF
  • Saudi king approves hosting U.S. troops to enhance regional security
  • U.S. Army: We are monitoring the situation in the Strait of Hormuz
  • A London black cab taxi drives past Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament in late afternoon sunlight
    Britain says seizure of two vessels by Iran is unacceptable

From The Jerusalem Post. You may be sure PDT has no wish to enter a conflict with Iran, but you may also be almost as sure that he will not hesitate to take Iran on if the US is pushed too hard. The Democrats will only seek to criticise any decision when it comes. Guliani was just on Fox saying the US could obliterate Iran and set their economy back a decade, which is possible. But what can be done is not the same as what should be done.

The one red line I can remember was whether any American service personnel are harmed. It is also a British ship that has been captured. The British navy hardly rules the seas but leaving the response to the US would be a humiliation. Not to mention that the Iranian government is deeply hated by its own citizens, so this may be the only way to save itself. Beyond that, both Guiliani and Hannity stated that there is more to know, but which they cannot state in public.

Posted in American politics, International | 98 Comments

What is the most overblown issue of our times?

That was the question posed to a panel last night at FreedomFest, the most spectacularly interesting conference year after year I ever make my way to. In Las Vegas each year in July, a city more interesting than you might ever expect, and it has nothing to do with gambling or gamboling.

More later, but on the panel, each went for global warming (or whatever the in-fashion term might be) but the last panelist chose “White Supremacy” which, to me, won hands down.

Last night we were listening to Herman Cain, today it’s Candice Owen. If you want “diversity”, this is the place too come. Candice will be speaking on open borders.

And yet, in the hotel, Fox News was not in amongst the fifty or so stations I could choose from until I complained to management. The local paper politically is a super-charged version of The WP or NYT. How Trump keeps ahead is only because he is as articulate as he is, though every supposed error is featured beyond imagination.

And let me add these two items from Instapundit to round things out. Accusations of racism is the only arrow in the Democrat quiver and when you listen to “The Squad” – the new public face of the Democrats – there is nothing more repulsive and racist.

TAMMY BRUCE: Trump vs. AOC and ‘the squad’ – What bare-knuckle fight means for 2020.

Trump’s comments may be blunt, but they’re not “racist,” an accusation now thrown about by the Democrats as casually as saying hello. That, in fact, is the cold, hard strategy.

As Clay noted in his comments about Ocasio-Cortez accusing Pelosi of racism: “You’re getting push back so you resort to using the race card? Unbelievable.”

Unfortunately, it’s all too believable when smearing your opponents is the only card you have.

Still, after years of lies about his character and intention, USA Today reported the president’s approval rating among Republicans is now at 93 percent and the GOP’s approval rating among Americans is at 51 percent.

Trump is shoring up his base while at the same time turning Democrats against one another.

I’m not getting cocky, but this tumultuous week has nevertheless been a good week.

And then there’s this.

PAUL CURRY: The Squad to Re-Elect President Trump. “Donald Trump, by injecting himself into the Democrat’s civil war and compelling the Pelosi establishment to embrace the Squad, may have just pulled off a classic Tom Sawyer move. Rather than allowing the Democrats to reign in their extreme left flank and quell the temper-tantrum-like calls for impeachment, he has gotten the left to embrace their darker demons and make the Squad the face of the party. In doing so, he has made four freshman Congresswomen the Squad to Re-elect the President.”

It might be a Grand Master-level trolling event if Trump were to send them all campaign donations in the maximum amount.

It’s a pleasure to be at FreedomFest. Staying with my family in Toronto I never talked politics a single time though I love them all, each and every one. My wife, alas, wandered into a conversation with a cousin and never saw her insufferable indignation and anger coming, until it was too late. The shallower they are, the more angry they get is all I can say.

Posted in American politics, Cultural Issues | 27 Comments

Open Forum: July 20, 2019

Posted in Open Forum | 1,010 Comments

Renewable idiocy continues to prevail

Bob Brown is no longer among those appreciating the beauty of wind turbines and we’ve all had fun pointing out his apostasy. The half-million birds in the US and 200,000+ bats in Germany which turbines are estimated to mince every year might agree, although those gluing themselves to Brisbane’s roads and elsewhere will probably take longer to absorb the truth about these taxpayer-supported environmental destroyers.

Subsidies to otherwise uncompetitive renewables have caused commercial coal generators to collapse, doubling the cost electricity and savaging its reliability.

Idiocy continues to prevail.

  • Shell has advocated getting rid of coal using measures that include a $250 carbon tax (Gillard’s was only $20), that increases the price of electricity fivefold plus several new Greenbanks to subsidise the batteries that wind and solar need to back-up their intrinsically unreliable output. Shell CEO, Ben van Beurden stepped out of his firm’s greenhouse gas intensive corporate jet to advocate the emissions plan.
  • And Ursula von Der Leyen – not a modern Boadicea leading a Panzar Army but the new EU President – got elected by backing a plan to get a fifty per cent renewables share in the EU by 2030, something Boris Johnson has also supported.

For Australia wind/solar will be 16 per cent of supply this year.  Not only is this driven by subsidies and regulations but it is requiring ever more of them in order to shore up the commercial market they are poisoning.

Hence, we have more subsidies for the pumped storage facilities like Snowy 2 and the proposal to duplicate the Tasmania-mainland transmission line at a cost of $3 billion to allow a continued expansion of renewables. We also have the head of AEMO calling for new transmission to allow an expansion of Victorian windfarms, something that, encouragingly, Angus Taylor is opposing.

Now we have a “negawatts” proposal to set a baseline level of demand for firms and allow them to sell excess needs back to the grid when the price is high.  This will be subject to considerable gaming as firms exaggerate how much they might have used in order to increase their payments.  One ludicrous forecast was that it would reduce prices by 25 per cent.

A variation has long been in the armoury of the market manager under provisions known as the Reserve Trader.  In the first 15 years of the national market, before subsidies started to destroy it, Reserve Trading never actually occurred.  It has now become common as wind has created massive market price volatility and dangers of black-outs.

Another non-solution is carbon capture and storage to eliminate emissions from coal generators, championed by David Byers, the CO2CRC Chief Executive.  Australian taxpayers under Kevin Rudd bankrolled a $700 million Global Initiative for this.  Ten years on there is no commercial plant operating anywhere in the world and, even if the technology proved feasible, it would double the cost of electricity.

To get back to commercial normality, abolition of subsidies is necessary.  But this may not be sufficient, since the market is poisoned by zero marginal cost renewables preventing coal operating as it should to provide the bedrock of a low- cost, reliable electricity supply system.

An expanded version of this appears in Quadrant.

Posted in Uncategorized | 23 Comments

Progressive Pricing

Progressive taxes.  The progressives love them.  How about we employ progressive pricing to see how much they really like progressivism.

The biggest criticism of the recent income tax changes by the Commonwealth Government is that it would make the current tax table less progressive.  TAFKAS won’t call them tax cuts, because there will still be more taxes collected after the changes than before.  Treasurer Frydenberg may consider the words of Milton Friedman:

If a tax cut increases government revenues, you haven’t cut taxes enough.

However, given all the data the Government has on citizens and given the increased use of electronic payments and given the reduced “progressiveness” in the tax code, let’s increase the “progressiveness” in the price system.

On Harris Street Ultimo, there is a coffee shop.  It is literally across the road from the ABC and the UTS business school.  How does TAFKAS know this?  He was there today and saw ABC “journalist” Paul Barry, with SMH in hand cross, the road from ABC HQ and go into this coffee shop for his lunch.

Assuming the ABC does not provide a tax payer funded canteen (can’t be ruled out), it is likely that many of the highly paid ABC staff go to this coffee shop for their food and beverage.

As a pilot to test Albericinomics, how about compensating the budget for the loss of income tax revenue (paid by ABC high earners), this cafe charge higher prices for higher income earners and the difference is returned to the budget via either company tax or the income tax of the cafe owners.

The high ABC earners would pay $12 for their coffee whereas the low income earners would only pay $2.

Any bets to see what happens?  Will the high paid ABC types pay the higher prices (for the good of the community of course) or will they avoid the higher prices imposed upon them for the sin of earning more money and go buy their coffee elsewhere?

Gee.  What would happen?

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Built up rant

TAFKAS has been holding it in, but can’t do it any longer.  Here goes.

Last night on Paul Murray Live, there was a discussion on the “wage theft” by the George Calombaris companies and restaurants.  Paul Murray asked why is Channel 10 keeping him on TV given what he has done.  He then threw to former Senator and MP Bronwyn Bishop who rambled on about football players and the such and how that’s just the way it is.

Perhaps someone could please ask the same question of Mrs Bishop and why Sky keeps her on TV given her previous peccadilloes for using public funds.

Cats may recall a certain Speaker using public funds to charter a helicopter to engage in party political activities.  She and other parliamentarians always say, it is within the rules.  But the parliamentarians write the rules.

Then of course Nicholas Reese chimed in to talk about the disgrace that is wage theft while at the same time being a member of the Australian Labor Party whose recent electoral strategy was predicated almost entirely on wage theft.  Except they called it taxes.  Theft of wages from workers and theft of accumulated wages in the form of capital from investors.

Let’s end this rhetorical dance.  Taxes are wage theft irrespective of what their official name is.  And to steal money from workers to fund the lifestyles of the celebrities is exactly the same as stealing money from the workers to fund the lifestyles of the political class and bureaucratic elites.

But earlier in the week was the news about Dr Bob Brown complaining about wind turbines being an eyesore and a threat to bird life.  Out came the cries of hypocrisy.  Yeah yeah.

Dr Brown’s opposition was entirely consistent.  Let us all recall the origin story of Dr Brown and the Australian Greens was around the opposition to the Franklin Dam.  And what was the purpose of the dam?  To build a hydro-electric plant.  Dr Brown has always been opposed to renewable energy and always been in support of subsidies and handouts to Tasmanians.  Where is the news?

Then there has been the whole units/apartments/strata/cladding issue with the Victorian Government sticking their hands into other people’s pockets to bail out investors and developers.  Yes.  Victorian schools and hospitals will have to do without because developers built crap based on standards developed by Victorian public servants and investors/buyers did not do proper due diligence.  But hey.  That’s politics Oz style.  The people who actually caused and are party to the mess should not have to pay for.  That’s what tax payers are for.

But to put a cherry on top, Commonwealth (yes Liberal) Industry Minister sticks her nose in the matter saying that it is a state regulatory failure and that the regulatory system needs to be harmonized and nationalised.  Yes.  The Liberal minister has suggested that the regulatory problems she claims exists need be spread to the whole country.  With more Commonwealth public servants to oversee the state public servants of course.

Oh and also, the Minister has suggested that the other states bail out their investors.

By the by, approximately 50% of strata apartments in Australia are investor owned and well more than 50% are mortgaged so any bail out of unit owners is also a bail out of the banks.  But Australian Governments don’t bail out banks do they.

Fair dinkum.

Posted in Uncategorized | 23 Comments

It is best we all sing from the same sheet of music

Today in The Australian

That indigenous Australians lived on this continent for thousands of years before European settlement is a fact whose recognition in the preamble to the Constitution is long overdue.

Posted in Uncategorized | 51 Comments

Travelling

I shall be away for a few days – conspiring to overthrow the established economic order and create sound money.

In the meantime the regular posts will appear at the usual times. It will take longer than usual for comments to be cleared out of the auto-moderator and spaminator.

If you comment does get caught try not to repeat post it ten thousand times – if it got caught once it’ll get caught again, and again, and again. So stop. Wait about 5 minutes and then post a completely different comment.

In the meantime, play nicely.

Posted in Site News | 24 Comments

What is the biggest holocaust? Green fascism reborn!

A provocative comment came up on a post of Judith Curry’s podcast about the non-alarming status of climate chance. Not a clear and present danger.

Climate propaganda has reached stages far beyond the well known propaganda of Nazi Germany, trying to censure and destroy people’s lives and careers, is something Herr Doctor Paul Joseph Goebbels, Reich Minister of Propaganda of Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945, would greatly envy and value highly.

That drew a spirited response from a person who lived in Germany for most of his life.

Goebbels was above all, together with Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler, one of the top three persons responsible for the elimination of
– over 6 million European Jewish people
– probably 1 million Germans who publicly expressed their rejection of the Nazi regime (communists, socialists, social democrats, Christians, Muslims, etc.)
– half a million Sinti, Roma and other ‘colored’ minorities
– hundreds of thousands of physically and / or mentally handicapped people.

Climate propagandists aren’t very intelligent people, but they didn’t kill anybody.
Please stop such insane comparisons.

Yes I am not aware of climate propagandists who have killed anybody deliberately although there appears to be a body of Deep Green thought that regards some billions of people as surplus to requirements or the carrying capacity of the planet.

Leaving the outright loonies aside, just consider the unintended consequences of actions, the things that happen some distance away in time and space, like the dead fish downstream from a point of serious pollution. There are two sides to this argument, one is the lives lost due to carbon mitigation policies. The other is the lives that could be saved if some of the resources wasted in futile CO2 reduction programs were applied (sensibly) to the suffering millions in the developing world. Yes I know about Lord Peter Bauer and the harm done by government to government aid in the Third World.

Lives lost, the biofuel story. As much as 5% of the worldwide grain harvest is taken out of the human food chain to produce ethanol to add to petrol. That has a knock-on effect through the food chain with the most significant impact in the poorest parts of the developing world where tens of millions of people are on the edge of starvation. A small difference in the price of food is a matter of life and death for them and in some years there are estimates that up to 200 thousand people may die in a bad year as a result of the biofuel program.

That figure is contested and it is likely to be on the high side. Still it was circulated by Mike Hulme who is an international leader in the alarmist movement so he cant be accused of making it up to embarrass his colleagues.

The UN’s special rapporteur on the right to food condemned the growing of biofuels as ‘a crime against humanity’ because they diverted arable land to the production of crops which are then burned for fuel instead of sold for food…Rather than contributing to the theoretical food security of hundreds of millions of the world’s poor in 50 years time, it has reduced the actual food security of tens of millions of the world’s poor today.

Lives not being saved indoor air pollution. Nearly three billion people in the developing world cook and keep warm by burning wood and animal dung. This is classified as renewable energy biomass and it makes up by far the majority of all kinds of renewable energy generated around the world. Biomass burned indoors generates toxic fumes causing lung diseases that kill up to 4 million according to the WHO.
These lives can be saved if the people have electric power to eliminate indoor pollution and drive the infrastructure required to deliver clean drinking water and public health programs, plus agricultural productivity and economic development. In most developing nations electric power could come from local resources of coal and gas but the international lending agencies were pressured by the Obama administration and the European Union to direct funding to renewable energy projects.

The notorious Indian village experiment demonstrated the lunacy of that idea. In 2014 Greenpeace activists set up a solar-powered microgrid for the Indian village of Dharni. A great celebration was planned for the benefit of Government Minsters who were invited. Of course the system could not handle the load when people tried to use appliances beyond the level of electric lights and mobile phone chargers. On the great opening day the visiting dignitaries were met by villagers with banners stating “we want real electricity, not fake electricity”.

Looking at the numbers you can make a case that, on the scale of lost lives, if not on the scale of evil, the “war on CO2” would appear to rate higher than the crimes of the Nazis.

The WHO on Household Air Pollution and Health.

Key facts
Around 3 billion people cook using polluting open fires or simple stoves fuelled by kerosene, biomass (wood, animal dung and crop waste) and coal.
Each year, close to 4 million people die prematurely from illness attributable to household air pollution from inefficient cooking practices using polluting stoves paired with solid fuels and kerosene.
Household air pollution causes noncommunicable diseases including stroke, ischaemic heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer.
Close to half of deaths due to pneumonia among children under 5 years of age are caused by particulate matter (soot) inhaled from household air pollution.

The Green New Fascist Deal By Mark Musser From max in the comments.

Even as early as 1935, Nazi Germany was the greenest regime on the planet. Their ecological projects worked hand in hand with their wild Social Darwinian biological programs connected to eugenics and scientific racial hygiene. Cleaning up the blood also included cleaning up the environment. Indeed, Nazi biologist Ernst Lehman defined fascism accordingly, “We recognize that separating humanity from nature, from the whole of life, leads to humankind’s own destruction and to the death of nations. Only through a re-integration of humanity into the whole of nature can our people be made stronger. That is the fundamental point of the biological tasks of our age. Humankind alone is no longer the focus of thought, but rather life as a whole… This striving toward connectedness with the totality of life, with nature itself, a nature into which we are born, this is the deepest meaning and the true essence of National Socialist thought.”

Out of such a Nazi holistic nature-based worldview came a number of environmental laws that preceded their more overt racial laws. In 1933, the Nazis passed a strict animal rights law. In 1934 they passed a hunting law. Along similar lines, the Nazis also introduced sustainable forestry practices, and essentially became the very originators of what is today called sustainable development that included a great concern for recycling. Even the Four-Year Nazi war plan was to be guided by sustainable development concerns. In 1935, the Nazis passed the totalitarian Reich Nature Protection Act which opened the door to ecological regulation over private property.

Posted in Global warming and climate change policy, Rafe | 54 Comments

“Benevolent” dictators don’t grow the economy

How often we hear the argument “If only there were a strong leader to take charge and make the tough decisions to get the economy growing”. Well it turns out that that is a folk tale that happens – when it does happen – by chance.

My RMIT colleague Ahmed Skali has co-authored a paper that looks at whether dictators have  a positive influence on economic growth.

Supposedly well-intentioned dictators are often cited as drivers of economic growth. We examine this claim in a panel of 133 countries from 1858 to 2010. Using annual data on economic growth, political regimes, and political leaders, we document a robust asymmetric pattern: growth-positive autocrats (autocrats whose countries experience larger-than-average growth) are found only as frequently as would be predicted by chance. In contrast, growth-negative autocrats are found significantly more frequently. Implementing regression discontinuity designs (RDD), we also examine local trends in the neighbourhood of the entry into power of growth-positive autocrats. We find that growth under supposedly growth-positive autocrats does not significantly differ from previous realizations of growth, suggesting that even the infrequent growth-positive autocrats largely “ride the wave” of previous success. On the other hand, our estimates reject the null hypothesis that growth-negative rulers have no effects. Taken together, our results cast serious doubt on the benevolent autocrat hypothesis.

I have to say that I’m not surprised by the results – but it is good that somebody has actually tested the benevolent dictator story (and found it wanting).

 

Posted in Economics and economy, Oppressive government | 81 Comments