“We know what to do but we don’t know how to get re-elected after we do it”

I used to say often during the great Peter Costello years that everyone would see what was happening but never understand why it worked. Public spending would come down – even in the midst of the Asian Financial Crisis – and the economy would simply go from success to success. Falling unemployment and falling taxes followed year on year. Not just a zero deficit but ZERO public debt. And on we would roll. Why it would work you cannot find in a single modern economics text (well, actually there is one). What you saw before your eyes was specifically ruled out by the economic theory everyone, including everyone at Treasury, is taught. Peter Costello did what he did in the face of Treasury opposition and set a standard for performance that no one is ever again likely to match.

So we have this from the paper today: on the Government trying to think through what to do on the economy.

As Coalition MPs speak out against a GST increase, Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison are examining other ways to pay for an ambitious agenda centred on tax cuts designed to encourage workers and lift economic growth. . . .

“The only realistic option for very significant income tax cuts is by changing the tax mix, and that is why a number of people have advocated increasing the GST for the purpose,” Mr Turnbull told parliament.

The strategy is to increase the goods and services tax to pay for a fall in personal tax. The Peter Costello option, of cuts to spending, is off the table, not even being considered. How this change in the tax mix would create growth seems incomprehensible to me, since no matter how you slice it, no cuts to public spending are involved so no additional space for the private sector is opened up. But there was also this I found quite interesting.

The Prime Minister insisted yesterday that he had not made up his mind on a GST increase”.

Is this to be a captain’s pick? Is it not a cabinet decision? Are we to understand that an increase in the GST rate is up to Malcolm alone and the rest must merely fall into line?

I was given a great quote yesterday apparently from some European Prime Minister:

“We know what to do but we don’t know how to get re-elected after we do it.”

The problem here is I don’t think these guys even know what to do. If they think raising the GST is the answer, they have lost the plot.

Posted in Budget, Federal Politics | 87 Comments

Jacques Barzun on race

From Race: A Study in Superstition by Jacques Barzun, 1937/1965

The principle of judging individual cases must apply whenever a group, thinking racially, feels attacked through a representation of one of their members in a work of art. The repeated attempts to have The Merchant of Venice banned and Huckleberry Finn removed from library shelves proceed from the same associative tendency which the interested group should on the contrary combat…The children in school must not be protected from reading about Mark Twain’s lovable creation but from thinking that Negroes are born slaves and fated illiterates.
The anxious wrangling which goes on about books and plays at times seems trivial but is in fact fundamental. If democratic culture yields on this point, no prospect lies ahead but that of increasing animosity among pressure groups. A dozen years ago a Broadway play was picketed by a union of domestic servants because the maid in the play was made fun of…

It is clear that in the absence of such limitations on race-thinking and group solidarity as I am suggesting, every self-conscious group will have to engage in raucous self-defense and self-praise or risk being slandered and abused by a more powerful group or cartel of groups. In social and cultural relations the law rarely intervenes effectively; the protection of rights and feelings only comes from decency and self-restraint…

How ridiculous and even offensive to be told that one must love one’s fellow man because the geneticist tells one to – via UNESCO. The point is not to love one’s fellow man but to be fair to him; is not to show that social groups, previously despised, are all good companions and budding geniuses who will shortly reinvent the electric light. The point is to render absurd (not to say obscene) the hostile or friendly attribution of qualities to men otherwise than as individuals…

Despite modern cant, there is no duty to “get to know” the members of an alien group towards which one is not attracted, no obligation to like foreign food, art or manners, provided one is content to let them be. Forced encounters and even voluntarily acquired knowledge of other peoples do not guarantee friendship…With the known or the unknown the right to quarrel must not be denied. Only, the moral man’s quarrel is always with some aspect of reality. Race-quarrels are with a phantom which will not let men sleep and which ultimately imbrues them with blood. The moral remedy, imperfect but aimed at the heart of the problem, is to uproot the habit of hating and despising en masse on the basis of imputed traits.

More on Jacques Barzun, and others including Bill Hutt.

Posted in Cultural Issues, Freedom of speech, Politics of the Left, Rafe | 17 Comments

The science is settled, so get another job

There is a certain logic here:

CSIRO is set to cut dozens of jobs from its climate research units, as part of a wider series of job losses to be formally announced today.

In a message to staff, chief executive Larry Marshall said that the question of human-induced climate change has largely been answered, and outlined a list of new priorities for the agency, including health, technology, and “big data” research fields such as radioastronomy.

With the science being settled and all, there is no need for further basic research and valuable research funds need to be allocated to other purposes.

Posted in Global warming and climate change policy, Hypocrisy of progressives, Shut it down. Fire them all. | 78 Comments

Progressive taxation is immoral

Posted in Economics and economy, Oppressive government, Taxation | 25 Comments

Inflicting on-going damage: the relentless green energy push

Yesterday saw the publication of one of the regular horse-chokers that emerge from the electricity regulators and government funded analysts.  This one was looking at the Queensland situation, with a view to examining how the ALP can implement/diverge from the crazy policies they proposed for an election they never expected to win.

One piece of good news? “Modelling of a Queensland 50 per cent target for renewable generation by 2030 suggests an average increase in retail electricity prices of 0.5 per cent for households and 0.3 per cent for industry, and a reduction of 0.7 per cent for commercial customers for the period 2015–16 to 2034–35.”

Less than good news “The ACIL Allen modelling estimates that (this) would require a subsidy of about $10.8 billion (real) over the period to 2030.”

Doubtless the renewable cheer squad will highlight the former but not mention the latter.

But even with the $10.8 billion subsidy (say, $650 million per annum) the numbers have a credibility shortfall.  If we lift the share of renewables (which cost three times fossil fuels) from 5 per cent to 50 per cent, the annual cost, given a 70 terawatt hour demand, on the present price differentials, ends up in 2030 being about $1.2 billion a year.

Depending on the path to 50 per cent, that might be consistent with the average cost to Queensland energy customers of $650 million a year.

However, the irregularity of renewables will mean very big additional investments required  in storage and fast start gas plant.  To protect political sensitivities, there are clearly some hidden assumptions contained in the report.  Doubtless these will include fables about how renewables are going to become comparable to the cost of the demonic fossil fuels they’ll replace, how fast storage costs will be reduced in price and so on.  

At the Commonwealth level, the ALP, Greens and motleys have also combined to institute a new Senate inquiry into greenhouse to put pressure on businesses to declare how they are to move towards the fabled zero emission future. 

There is some gnashing of teeth in the “concerned” media about the climate change propaganda unit in CSIRO being considerable downsized by 110 positions in the Oceans and Atmosphere division, hopefully Turnbull’s need to save money is overpowering the case for this me-too climate activist unit.

But the ceaseless propaganda and regulatory intrusion has an effect.  The new green AGL CEO saw the Paris Conference as reinforcing his preference for getting out of “dirty” coal and into renewable investments – he discusses the need to get consumers to exercise choice in energy consumption – what a joke when energy choice is dictated by regulatory measures that force people to use high cost renewables!

In line with its anti-fossil stance, AGL has today announced a cessation of coal seam gas exploration and a $750 million hit to the firm as a result of low prices (and the ceaseless opposition of green groups to the activity).

Posted in Uncategorized | 13 Comments

Repellent versus Repulsive

Here’s the distinction:

“Repellent” and “Repulsive” both speak to dri­ving oth­ers away, but REPULSIVE is more REPULSIVE than REPELLENT is REPELLENT.

Repellent is more about distaste.

Repulsive is more about disgusting.

Here’s the context:

Malcolm Turnbull risks punishing more than nine million workers with higher taxes on their retirement savings as he prepares a drastic change to superannuation alongside controversial plans to increase the GST.

The super changes would hit every worker earning more than about $18,000 a year if the government proceeds with a tax ­increase on super contributions, highlighting a grave political danger at a time when Coalition MPs are nervous about a GST hike.

Modelling obtained by The Australian shows the government would have to scale back the super reform — and sacrifice $6 billion in extra revenue — in order to limit the damage to millions of workers on average incomes.

The modelling also highlights the challenge the government will face to ensure 200,000 Australians earning more than $300,000 are not left untouched or even better off under the key super ­reform plans being considered.

Angry MPs are pushing back at the Prime Minister’s reform ambitions amid fears of a voter backlash against a GST increase, but the increase in the consumption tax and the separate overhaul of super tax breaks remain the leading ways to pay for generous cuts to income taxes.

I get it, they are going to raise taxes so that they can cut taxes. Makes as much sense as the rest of it. Cuts to spending are for a parallel universe. Taxing superannuation so that they can blow more of our money on projects of their own choosing is not only a loser so far as the economy is concerned, it is a vote loser as well.

The fact that Labor is worse only works for someone like me since there are lots of other issues that matter. But this business how Julie prefers Rudd to Helen Clarke as Secretary General of the UN only makes her marginally preferable to Tanya, and that is only because of the party she represents and whose standards she must more closely conform to. What she personally believes about anything at all I have almost no idea. How Tony must have suffered having to deal with such people over the years.

When you finally get down to it, this is the Turnbull strategy for the likes of us. To be less repulsive, if even only by the slimmest of margins, than Labor. But you try for a 50% increase in the GST and then raise taxes on super, even if you did get my vote you will lose millions more along the way at the same time. Malcolm has the worst political instincts of anyone I have ever seen in politics, with the possible exception of John Hewson, whose own fate he may soon himself mirror.

Posted in Federal Politics | 56 Comments

Rafe’s Roundup 4 Feb

Progress on the nuclear front. Japan and the United States. LATE ADDITION in case you missed it last year Tesla electric car takes on the Model T Ford cross-country and wins in a photo finish.

Regulation nation. Richard Ebeling on the need to keep alive the discussion about the legitimate role of government.

News and Weather. Lewandowsky makes a fool of himself again, but what is his rubbish doing in Nature?

Popper versus proportional representation. Undermining responsibility and accountability.

The immediate consequence of proportional representation is that it will tend to increase the number of parties. This, at first glance, may seem desirable: more parties means more choice, more opportunities, less rigidity, more criticism. It also means a greater distribution of influence and of power.

However, this first impression is totally mistaken. The existence of many parties means, essentially, that a coalition government becomes inevitable. It means difficulties in the formation of any new government, and in keeping a government together for any length of time.

Minority rule

While proportional representation is based on the idea that the influence of a party should be proportional to its voting power, a coalition government means, more often than not, that small parties can exercise a disproportionately great—and often decisive—influence, both on the formation of a government and on its resignation, and so on all its decisions. Most important of all, it means the decay of responsibility. For in a coalition government there is reduced responsibility for all the partners in the coalition.

Lest we forget. The mythology that sustains the bloody aristocracy of labour. Bill Hutt’s demolition of 8 myths that keep the nightmare alive. Someone have a talk to Glenn Lazarus.

1. The industrial revolution and the factory system resulted in a period of brutal exploitation of the labouring masses. 2. The workers were frustrated and oppressed by the Combination Acts which were designed to favour the employers and to prevent the workers from forming associations. 3. Labour has an inherent disadvantage in the contest with capital unless the state
intervenes to provide assistance, especially by protecting the right to engage in collective bargaining and strike activity. 4. Labour had to wage a bitter struggle to achieve improved pay and conditions. 5. Collective bargaining by the trade unions is a manifestation of the solidarity of the working class to resist exploitation and get a fair go. 6. Wage rates are “indeterminate” so it is good for unions to bargain as hard as they can to get the best possible pay and conditions. 7. Strike activity with the use of violence against non-conforming workers is morally legitimate to adjust for the imbalance of power between labour and capital. 8. Collective bargaining, with strikes or the threat of strikes, is not only morally
legitimate but it was also necessary to improve the share of the common wealth between labour and capital.

Steyn on line. Clouston and Hall, February list of academic remainders.

Posted in Rafe, Rafe's Roundups | 7 Comments

Tone is illegal

I think The Australian is having a lend of Judge Mordy Bromberg:

Comments have been closed on this story due to concerns over tone.

Please remember the underlying case is currently before the courts.

Posted in Freedom of speech | 50 Comments

Is this presidential?

At a campaign rally in Milford, NH yesterday. His greatest virtues are his vices and his vices his greatest virtues. He may still be the only one who can beat Hillary. Or he may be the only one who can make Hillary electable.

Posted in American politics | 64 Comments

All comedy is critical

Here is a story on John Cleese and the modern left. And I have to say that the title of the story, John Cleese is tired of campus political correctness, as well as the title of original story from which it is linked, We Can’t Have Comedy and Be Politically Correct at the Same Time (which is better since it does not restrict its compass to a university campus), doesn’t get you there. The title of the video “1984″ does get you there, which has the statement scrolled across the top, that “political correctness can lead to an Orwellian night[mare]“, making it very plain how serious he thinks this issue is. It tells you exactly what he really means, that if you forbid people to say certain things in the name of political correctness, then you are living on the edge of a totalitarian state. This is what he said, which you can see is transcribed directly from his own words in the video:

Cleese said that it’s one thing to be “mean” to “people who are not able to look after themselves very well,” but it was another to take it to “the point where any kind of criticism of any individual or group could be labeled cruel.”

Cleese added that “comedy is critical,” and if society starts telling people “we mustn’t criticize or offend them,” then humour goes out the window.

“With humour goes a sense of proportion,” Cleese said. “And then, as far as I’m concerned, you’re living in 1984.”

And the point, of course, is not restricted to humour but all statements of any kind about any subjects whatever.

Posted in Freedom of speech | 64 Comments