Think before we get rid of the monarchy

Today in The Australian

Shorn of its bombast, the argument for becoming a republic is that it would complete the “Australianisation” of the office of head of state without altering the ­substance of our constitutional ­arrangements.

Posted in Uncategorized | 102 Comments

Why don’t you Google it?

What comes up first if you google Google’s New Fact-Check Feature Almost Exclusively Targets Conservative Sites. You might even pair this with this: James Damore sues Google, alleging intolerance of white male conservatives.

Google’s New Fact-Check Feature Almost Exclusively Targets …

dailycaller.com/…/googles-new-fact-check-feature-almost-exclusively-targets-conserv…

 

Google’s New Fact-Check Feature Almost Exclusively Targets Conservative Sites. Photo of Eric Lieberman. Eric Lieberman · Tech and Law Reporter. 12:04 PM 01/09/2018. Pinterest. Reddit. LinkedIn. WhatsApp. Share. TOP …

TO WHICH MAY NOW BE ADDED THIS:

 
Need anyone even mention Facebook?

SPEAKING OF WHICH:

FACEBOOK to put cameras and microphones in homes…
Publishers concerned with Zuckerberg plan to define ‘reputable’…
Bans Bestselling Author over ‘The Scandalous Presidency of Barack Obama’…

Posted in Freedom of speech, Media, Politics of the Left | 24 Comments

Lessons in Morality From Hollywood

Following the 2018 Golden Globe celebrity virtue-signalling awards, we discovered that:

  • black is now quite literally the new black (I guess it was only a matter of time);
  • #metoo apparently means that, while behaving in a sexually inappropriate manner towards adult celebrity women is now definitely not ok, the issue of behaving in a sexually inappropriate manner towards girls under the age of 14 is still a bit of a grey area:

…and, for good measure:

  • the left is considering the merits of Oprah Winfrey running against Trump at the next US Presidential election, simply because she stood out among a bunch of self-indulgent, narcissistic idiots on the night. You know the type:

(PS: Does this mean that the left has given up on impeaching Trump because of ‘the Russians’? Or that they knew it never had legs in the first place?).

As for Oprah, unlike Hollywood and the left did with Trump, I’m not going to arrogantly dismiss the possibility her making a run out of hand:

That said, let’s all imagine for a minute what US economic policy under President Winfrey would look like:

 

Where do I sign up?

UPDATE:

Posted in Ethics and morality, Hypocrisy of progressives, Politics of the Left | Tagged , , , | 58 Comments

Snowy 2: the policy of despair

Snowy Mark 2 as a pump storage is designed to use cheap off peak power to pump water uphill to a reservoir so that it can be used at a later stage when electricity prices are high.  It does not create any new energy – in fact it requires some 15 per cent of the available energy to be used up in the pumping process.

Starting out with a $1.5-2 billion estimated cost when announced by Mr Turnbull in March of last year, a heavily redacted feasibility study has now put the cost at $3.8 to $4.5 billion but this is likely to increase when a further iteration is published in April and excludes some considerable upgrade costs to the transmission system.  Snowy would be hoping consumers would fund these though electricity rules ostensibly require the generation facility to cover such costs.  Transmission costs are likely to be at least $3 billion and Judith Sloan’s speculative $10 billion cost may well prove conservative.

Unperturbed and donning his political salesman’s hat, Minister Josh Frydenberg endorsed the project but he would do that wouldn’t he?  He claims to favour Snowy 2 partly because, like all those wind farms, it creates “up to 5,000 jobs” presumably in construction.  I bet the 5000 jobs could be multiplied many times over if the crews did not use modern machinery! The Minister suggested the alternative fast start generation would entail $180 billion in Tesla power walls.

Snowy’s CEO says “As for claims that the economics don’t stack up — I refute them categorically. Snowy 2.0 can be funded off our balance sheet, while delivering a healthy internal rate of return of 8 per cent.”

Well, he would need to get that through his shareholders. It would be easy to do this with the spendthrift Commonwealth which owns 13 per cent but the NSW (58 per cent) and Victorian (29 per cent) are less likely to agree.  If the Commonwealth wished to proceed it would need to buy out the states but with an underlying profit after tax of $411 million and booming prices as a result of the destruction of coal power stations the cost would be well over $4 and might reach $8 billion.

And let us not forget, the whole value concept is purely a function of the regulatory regime created by governments in favouring and subsidising renewable energy which costs at least twice the price of coal and requires the kind of back up that the whole farrago about batteries and pumped storage has spawned.

The electricity industry suffers from having become the plaything of politicians and seeing its cheapest fuel, coal, having been successfully demonised by activists.  As one comment from an insider said on a recent post

Many in my organisation don’t believe in climate change but speaking out is risky. We now sit around and nod our heads to SSM, how awful it is that Donald Trump was elected and lament the terrible things the white person has done to aboriginal people. At one meeting a senior manager asked “aren’t we happy that no more coal fired power stations will be built in Australia?” We all agreed it was wonderful.

The fact is the government’s policies are leading to impairments for each of the energy companies’coal-fired assets. The middle-of-the-road shareholder might be annoyed by that. However companies are more concerned about loud minorities which turn up at their general meetings. There are increasing numbers of green board members.

Unhappily, there is more anguish before us with future prices now estimated by the Prime Minister to be over $110 per MWh, double those that would prevail if only the industry had been left alone, and a constant wind/solar-induced unreliability knife edge.  The propaganda continues unabated with a new chatbot launched today by the no-longer-taxpayer-financed “Climate Council” providing the electronic media with attractive and scary footage of reef distress heat waves and hurricanes.

Nothing is inevitable but common sense will hopefully emerge as the absurdity of the Paris Accord is understood and the damage to the economy becomes apparent alongside the demonstration effect of a booming US economy that has rejected carbon taxes.

Unpicking the distress regulatory meddling has caused will involve new generator investment, (probably by Chinese who are less susceptible to green pressure).  In the interim we will likely see a panicky government forbidding the 2022 closure of the NSW Liddell power station its policies have produced. Part of this will entail spending the $900 million in investment necessary to keep it operating at close to capacity.

It will however be some time before the industry again operates on the auto-pilot that in the decade to 2005 gave us the cheapest electricity in the world.

Posted in Uncategorized | 57 Comments

How do you deal with people who know all the answers before they hear the questions?

This is the most significant political problem of our time. The left are on the left because of a will to believe, but have virtually never had a political success other than by taking the reins of power which they quite often do, and not always peacefully either. They have imposed their will time and again because they often temporarily have the numbers, but are removed as soon as possible – which is often not very soon at all – since their beliefs create neither wealth nor freedom.

The outcome has been that no one on the left is any longer willing to debate since they have run out of arguments because virtually everything they say and do has a proven history of failure. And so the question has become, is it worth trying to convince people on the left who never listen to what anyone else says? Is it worth trying to show how markets work better than government direction, for example, or that there is no evidence of the existence of global warming? How do you deal with people who think that Barack Obama was worth electing president, or now even Oprah for heaven’s sake? It is the greatest problem of our day, and may yet lead to the collapse of our Western way of life. Anyway, I came across the brief schematic that I think sums up quite a bit.

Conservative, AKA Normal People = facts, analysis ——-> conclusion.

Liberals AKA Walking Nerve Endings = feelings, conclusion ——> rationalization

They are not “stupid” in the normal sense, political idiots though they are. They cannot learn from history because they do not want to, because history continuously demonstrates the dangers and vacuity of their ideas. If anyone ever works out how to get past the barricades they put up to protect their political prejudices from examination, they will save the world from a good deal of grief. In the meantime, we have to find ways to barricade ourselves from the destruction they cause whenever they achieve political control. There is always another Venezuela just around the corner if these people cannot be made to see how things really are, and that next Venezuela might be right there where you happen to live right now.

Posted in Media, Politics of the Left | 58 Comments

Wednesday Forum: January 10, 2018

Posted in Open Forum | 1,791 Comments

Inventing benefits from regulations reducing farmers’ use of water

An article by the excellent rural reporter Sue Neales, examined the sales and purchases of irrigation water rights for agriculture in the Murray-Darling Basin (agriculture uses about 90 per cent of water collected in dams for industry and personal consumption). The focus of the article was on the overseas purchasers of the water rights, the prices of which have risen strongly – high security rights now trade at $3000 per megalitre, more than tenfold the price 15 years ago.

Reasons for this increase include enhanced agricultural demand from overseas, but the most significant cause has been the curtailment of water supply for agricultural use and its diversion to a panoply of environmental uses.  The policies (and John Howard started the ball rolling) are taking 2,750 gigalitres per annum from the region (out of 7,000 gigalitres “high security” and 10,000 gigalitres in total of water available) from productive agriculture to uses designated as “environmental”.

These diversions from productive use started with claims about salinity, which were driven by the ACF and WWF and supported by their spokespeople in the government owned media showing pictures of salt-infused farmland.  The facts are that only 0.4 per cent of farmland showed any signs of salinity and almost all of this was due to natural salt outcrops.

The initial production-suppressing measures were built upon during the millennial drought under which we were supposedly to see the entire Murray system drying up.  In addition to salinity being proved to be a hoax, rainfall is, of course, unchanged from that observed over the past 200 years.

But why let facts waste a good crisis?

Farmers responded to scare campaigns fomented by activist groups by looking for compromises little realising that for their opponents each concession was only a staging post for the next claim.  Hence the momentum is developed, institutions are in place and rolling back the regulatory tide becomes extremely difficult.  And it goes without saying that nobody brings the scaremongers (including Garnaut and Flannery) to account or ridicules the politicians (led by Tony Burke) for their gullibility.

One institutional reason why the regulatory momentum cannot be wound back is the changed nature of the agricultural bureaucracy.  Over the past two decades Primary Industry Departments have been transformed from ones that aggressively lobbied for favours to farmers (fertiliser subsidies, drought relief etc) into agencies which wish to constrain output by regulatory restraints including reducing the producers’ use of environmental resources.  They have become the accomplices of the green activists.

In Sue Neales’ piece Commonwealth Water Minister Ann Ruston is quoted as saying, “the return of profitability to the citrus and table grape industry and the boom in ­almond investment is testament to the benefits of placing a real value on Murray irrigation.”

What does that mean?  The Murray region, which dominates Australian irrigated agriculture, has always seen water traded and therefore a real price on water.

The higher cost of water has certainly expedited water conservation measures as farmers invest in capital to avoid water usage.  But many such expenditures are made viable only because of the artificially enhanced costs of water that stem from the policies of restraining its productive use.  As such they have negative benefits.

It is, however, typical that politicians, under the influence of their environmentalist departments, should see merit in policies that have reduced real income levels.  It’s almost like seeing advantages in forcing the greater efficiency of the alimentary canal in processing a food supply that has been halved or, to use a more topical example, seeing benefits in economy of energy usage from taxing coal and gas!

Posted in Uncategorized | 28 Comments

Poverty sweater US$400. Hypocrisy priceless.

As reported in True Pundit, actress Connie Britton is wearing a US$400 sweater at the Golden Globes that says “poverty is sexist”.  It was a black sweater of course.

Hollywood hypocrites strike again.

Oh and Oprah is running for President in 2020!

Follow I Am Spartacus on Twitter at @Ey_am_Spartacus

Posted in Uncategorized | 40 Comments

Oprah for President!

First Greg Gutfeld

And then Mark Steyn with Tucker Carlson

Of course, there is then this

 

In the meantime

 

Posted in American politics | 38 Comments

David Leyonhjelm on Future Submarines

Major wars in future will be fought remotely, with drones, long range missiles and satellites. Surface ships will be quickly destroyed while manned aircraft and ground forces will either be wiped out or not particularly useful.

Submarines that can remain undetected beneath the surface of the ocean, on the other hand, will be largely untouchable. Armed with a variety of weapons, they offer genuine deterrence backed by the capacity, if required, to inflict massive deadly force on an enemy.

Replacing Australia’s Collins Class submarines is therefore a matter of major concern, given that the country’s future may depend on them.

The Navy’s program to replace the Collins Class submarines is known as SEA 1000. It involves modification of a French Barracuda Class submarine from nuclear to diesel-electric propulsion, plus other changes specific to Australia.

The 12 new submarines, to be known as Shortfin Barracudas, are intended to begin entering service in the early 2030s with construction extending to 2050. The program is estimated to cost $50 billion and will be the largest and most complex defence acquisition project in Australian history.

For a country with limited financial resources and industrial capacity, the decision to develop an original design is high risk. This was highlighted in a timely Insight Economics report, released in September 2017, which said: “The capability requirements for the (future submarine) set out in the 2009 Defence White Paper… were highly ambitious… and any attempt to satisfy them with a (diesel-electric submarine) of a new and untested design, apart from being excessively expensive, would inevitably risk compromising the Submarine Force’s ability to discharge its most essential operational tasks.”

“Going forward with just one design has resulted in Defence gifting to Naval Group almost complete market power over capability, price and delivery. Should the design turn out to be inadequate or unworkable, the implications for Australia’s future submarine capability would be dire.”

Then there’s the decision to build them in Australia. The Abbott government’s 2016 Defence White Paper only committed to building them in Australia if it could be done without compromising capability, cost or project schedule. That changed because of South Australian politics, and the new submarines could now be more appropriately described as the Xenophon class.

Even if all goes well, the cost of building warships in Australia will be 30 to 40 per cent more than if they were built overseas. However, the plan to build them in Adelaide at the Australian Submarine Corporation, the same group currently building the Air Warfare Destroyer, years late and a billion dollars over budget, adds to a sense of foreboding.

This follows the prize fiasco of the Collins Class submarine project. Their construction by the Australian Submarine Corporation ran years behind schedule, many millions over budget, and finally delivered a platform that the Navy has struggled to even keep operational.

And then there is the question of whether the new submarines will arrive before the Collins Class subs are retired, scheduled for 2026 to 2033. Even if delivery occurs on schedule, the first will not enter service until 2033. At best there will be one new submarine in service and a nine year gap between the retirement of the Collins Class and the introduction into service of the first six of the twelve new submarines.

Given this, the government has apparently committed an additional $15 billion to keep the 30 year old Collins submarines bobbing in the water. It’s like refurbishing a World War 2 German U-Boat for the mid-1990s.

The elements are all there for the submarine replacement program to become the procurement scandal of the century. Our Shortfin Barracudas will probably be the most expensive submarines ever built anywhere in the world.

For a lot less money, we could achieve a far more potent submarine capability. For example, off-the-shelf Japanese Soryu submarines cost only US$540 million. Modified to meet additional Navy requirements, they were quoted as costing A$750 million. If we simply bought twelve of those, the total cost to the taxpayer would be less than A$10 billion.

Equally, the existing nuclear Barracudas only cost $2 billion each, so we could get twelve of those for $24 billion.

For such an important defence capability, the government’s failure to guarantee Australia is protected by submarines is nothing less than gross negligence.

David Leyonhjelm is a senator for the Liberal Democrats

Posted in Guest Post, National Security | 68 Comments