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Miscellaneous comments from 8 Jun 2015

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I was born in Melbourne 35 years ago (scares the hell out of me) I have always been passionate about this city up until the last 5 or so years... so with the ugly over-development, over-population and the overly-sensitive defenders of this touting all these wonderful things we now have... Can I ask, in Melbourne, aside from increased traffic, racial intolerance driven by housing and personal space related tension- what is it that we now have that we didn't have in Melbourne 5 or 10 or even 20 years ago?

My answer is nothing.

If anyone can come up with anything or even tries to, well, you are a complete f#$%^&. Simple!

We should all very sad but motivated to start speaking out about what's happening to Melbourne and to those who are pushing for this population growth well shame on you and no doubt it will come back to haunt you and not soon enough!

I believe the correct answer to the question "what is it that we (in Melbourne) have that we didn't have in Melbourne 5 or 10 or even 20 years ago?" is "VIBRANCY". I'm yet to work out what this actually means or even if I like it. It is hard to see it for all the downside listed by Will Archie. It's funny but I hear British migrants of my acquaintance agreeing about how boring Melbourne was when they arrived about 30 years ago. The thing is that people I knew were having fun, getting around without too much trouble, not too many parking fines, finding places on the beach to put their beach towels, getting out into the countryside quite easily. Melbourne might have been boring for these new arrivals because they didn't know anybody at first and expected life to be all on the outside. The thing is, it wasn't, to the extent that it is now. Turning, Melbourne's leisure into organised events and big fireworks displays as has happened are features of this more populous Melbourne. This may or may not be coincidental. Melbourne probably looks better to certain types of visitors or newcomers than it might have in 1970 or 1980 but it is definitely not as good a place to live as it was those decades ago. I characterise the lives of people living in Melbourne in those past decades as more private and maybe with more individual, internal control. Humorist, Barry Humphries made great fun of this and of Melbourne's suburban complacency. He has so far not commented on the disappearance of what amused him and us for so long. Humphries' depiction of Melbourne was of a place utterly lacking in "VIBRANCY" and full of mediocrity and complacency. The thing is that another way of expressing this is that mediocrity meant that ordinary people of ordinarily means could have a very comfortable existence. This access to the security of a "nice home in the suburbs" meant that stresses were far less than they are now when this is not an expectation. There were far fewer battles over one's immediate environment being changed by development. Time and emotional energy now spent on trying to defend the local urban environment must have been spent on subjects of individual choosing. Maybe Barry Humphries has not semi-retired because of his age but because Melbourne and its people are no longer funny.

I can understand where you're coming from Will. I, too, was born in Melbourne at St.George's Hospital in Kew almost 66 years ago. Today Melbourne is just another bloated, ugly city as you say overpopulated, overdeveloped and overblown. In the 1950s, 60s and 70s as Kelvin Thompson repeatedly says Melbourne was a vibrant place to be. Its people were amenable, employment aplenty, education and health services were adequate, transport public and private catered for our needs with plenty of sporting, recreational and artistic activities to keep us occupied in our leisure hours.

What happened? I once did a piece on the achievements of Sir Henry Bolte, some good some not so good depending on your viewpoint. The boy from Ballarat was a ruthless but shrewd politician and Premier, a true liberal unlike today's conservatives, Bolte understood the needs of both urban and non-urban Victorians. He was able to attract foreign investment for vital infrastructure projects that were vital for Melbourne and Victoria.

Henry's infrastructure achievements were many and varied, from dams to freeways, the city loop and grade separations, both the West Gate Bridge and Tullamarine Airport, universities and hospitals, established National Parks and instigated the Soil Conservation Authority and promoted the 0.05 bac and seat belt legislation for motorists.

His successor Dicky Hamer picked up on these initiatives, but slowly the initiatives dried up until the early 1990s when the wheels fell off completely as we got Jeffed! The beginning of the neoliberal malaise was the beginning of the end for Melbourne. Neoliberal dogma predicated that economic rationalism must prevail and that everybody and everything must bow down to market forces. This led to schools and hospitals closing, council amalgamations, services discontinued, utilities privatised and rising unemployment.

We were advised that the service industries would cater for employment opportunities, what we were not told is that these jobs wouldn't pay as much as our old jobs. Those still in jobs went from central enterprise agreements to having to bargain for individual agreements which caused a drop in morale in the work place as those bargained best got more money that those who couldn't.

Jeff got Jeffed when the bastards from the bush, who were treated like second class citizens, said enough was enough. The incoming Labour government were beholden to the same neoliberal ideals as Jeff and as an answer to the decline in manufacturing they promoted population growth as the panacea. Population growth meant jobs for the construction industry while the immigrants could work in the service industries.

By this time infrastructure construction had slowed to a walk and most of that built was an after thought. Some of the infrastructure that was constructed was whimsical to say the least none more so than the Desalination Plant at Wonthaggi. The plant, completed in 2012, hasn't produced a drop of water at the astronomical cost of $20 billion!! It's projects like this one that have shanghaied infrastructure development in Melbourne.

Talking about putting the cart before the horse! The editorial in last Thursday's Age blamed Victorian governments past and present for not building enough roads and railways for Melbourne's chronic overpopulation problem. This is sheer hypocrisy!! Fairfax Media owner of the Age is a proponent of a Big Australia with interests in the housing industry. Until we can get some vision back into government at both state and federal level Melbourne will remain a second or third rate city.

There is a groundswell of people "speaking out" against the destruction of Melbourne, and it's heritage, but our government is not listening. They have their ears solely on the whims of property developers, and the lucrative nature of the real estate industry. There's nothing to be gained from pumping up the population of Melbourne, and much to lose. We are being restricted in what we can do in the city because of inadequate public transport and congested roads. The cost of infrastructure is blowing out.

So much of our investments, superannuation and finance industry is resting on property, housing growth and developments. These industries don't pay for growth, but we do! It's time to leave the rat race.

Our economy is divorced from reality, the physical, tangible world. We now have the stick market going up on bad news, because it means low interest rates and stimulus.

We have housing markets judged by abstract figures and not the ability to provide housing. It seems economists are measuring lots of things, but not the ability to produce what people need efficiently. Money is abused as a concept.

Its all a sham: none of this is making our lives better, which I would have thought the whole point of an good economy is.

This was posted to a forum discussion, Big Oil changes sides in the War on Coal.

Ultimately, whether it is achieved directly by accountable democratic government or, somehow, by 'market forces', I expect a sustainable world, which would not be threatened with global warming, would include something like the following:

  • Population stability - an end to the high immigration encouraged by the Abbott government and most state governments for the benefit of property developers and land speculators;
  • communities in which most places of work, education, leisure and retail are less than a 15 minute cycle ride a way;
  • public transport sufficient to make car ownership for longer journeys unnecessary;
  • most food consumed by a community produced in market gardens close to that community or in the yards surrounding the free standing houses of its inhabitants;
  • the manufacture of artefacts with built-in obsolescence to be outlawed;
  • over-packaging outlawed, or at least taxed sufficiently to cover the cost of disposal in council landfill;
  • all beverage or food containers to be manufactured to conform to design standards, be reusable and be paid for by consumers with refundable deposits.

Unless something like this is achieved I think we stand no chance of reducing our consumption of non-renewable resources, including fossil fuels, to sustainable levels. The chance of achieving this with the 'free market', which is still the official ideology guiding Australia and much of the rest of the world, is close to nil.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/immigration/ridiculous-immigration-fires-housing-spike-bob-carr/story-fn9hm1gu-1227393713757 (story behind paywall - editor)

Finally, a politician, Bob Carr, is speaking out about our population growth, and drawing the dots to stress on infrastructure and housing costs!

Any attempt to address soaring house prices in Sydney and Melbourne should focus on “ridiculously overambitious’’ immigration targets, says former NSW Labor premier Bob Carr.

Immigration was running far ahead of the ability of major cities to absorb new people, straining infrastructure and pushing up the price of dwellings that increasingly are seen as being beyond the reach of average Australians.

On Sunday, Assistant Treasurer Mr Frydenberg said the increases in house prices were due to a "number of things".

"It's a function of population growth, it's a function of state governments not engaged in enough land release. It's a function also of foreign investment." It's not rocket science, and these two factors would be primary compared to any "number of things".

"As someone who, along with the bank, owns a house in Sydney I do hope our housing prices are increasing," Mr Abbott said in question time on Monday. The ruling classes have no scruples in putting their own vested interests, and hat of their elitist colleagues, against the interests of the masses - the "normal" people who make up the great majority of the electorate! It's time for a clean up of our government and break the heavy collusion between the housing/mortgage industries and government!

Hi everyone! Just wanted to let you know about a new Facebook page where we are planning a better system for Australia. We need all the help we can get. Please take a look:

Direct Democratic Communities

21 June 2015 MEDIA RELEASE- SAVE OUR SUBURBS

Baird’s Building Program Won’t Make Housing Affordable

The State Government has trumpeted its latest housing release program as the solution to Sydney’s housing affordability crisis. However, Dr Tony Recsei, President of the community group Save Our Suburbs says that the releases announced in the program are completely inadequate.

“Of the 20,000 extra homes to be delivered over the next 4 years, 12,000 will be imposed on existing suburbs as higher densities” said Dr Recsei. “This leaves only 2,000 per year to provide the homes that the vast majority of people want – freestanding houses.”

Dr Recsei went on to say “Before the advent of high-density policies, 10,000 new housing lots were annually released to accommodate Sydney’s increasing population. This resulted in sufficient affordable homes that people wanted. But to drive high-density policies, governments have increasingly strangled the land supply. To force people into units, the number of new housing lots released annually has been steadily decreased to the current 2,000. This created artificial scarcities which drove land prices into the stratosphere. In 1976 the land component of the price of a house was 32%. Now the price of land comprises 70% of the cost of buying a house.

“High-rise developers exploit this government created shortage by charging excessive prices. Thirty years ago, it took 3.5 years of household income to purchase a dwelling, now it takes 9.8 years, making Sydney after Hong Kong and Vancouver the least affordable city in the English speaking world,” Dr Recsei said.

“The Government’s new plan will cause yet more traffic congestion, less housing choice (more than 80% of people want free-standing homes), overshadowing, destruction of urban greenery and wildlife, loss of heritage and adverse effects on health (including illness and deaths from the increased air pollution and a significant increase in schizophrenia).

Dr Recsei concluded “The scenario of yet more profits for high-rise developers at the expense of the public will continue. Developers comprise the largest category in the Business Review weekly top 200 rich list.

“For the past ten years Save Our Suburbs has been advocating release of sufficient land to meet demand and so maintain affordability. Successive governments, it seems, have fallen under the spell of the high density developer lobby, where profit trumps the people’s right to housing choice, availability and affordability.”

Save our Suburbs should be advocating for zero net immigration rather than land releases?

This is a copy of an email from Senator Jacinta Collins in regard to lack of gas reserves for Australian consumers: It's in response to a petition to reserve OUR gas for domestic consumers, and not allow prices to be blown out by foreign mining corporations!

Senator Jacinta Collins writes that: I understand that there is concern in the community that the price of gas is increasing. A gas reservation imposes a requirement that producers must reserve a fixed volume or proportion of gas for household use, power generation and local manufacturing consumers. Unfortunately, this short term response will likely lead to further price increases.

She continues:As you may be aware a gas reservation system currently exists in Western Australia, with no clear evidence that it is having any affect, and one is legislated for but is as yet inactive in Queensland. At the Federal level, the former Labor Government ruled out introducing a gas reservation policy because they do not work.

(my comment: this is a peek into the future of "free" trade agreement costs - we will lose cheap access to our own natural resources, and politicians will be in the palm of their hands)

Collins claims that the The Federal Labor Opposition does not support domestic gas reservations for the same reasons. (ie it does not work?) A gas reservation policy leads to distorted price signals, inefficient industries, lower investment and, ultimately, higher prices.

(my comment: don't "offend" the foreign investors, or "distort" their market! Prices keep going up, so how are exporters actually addressing this?)

She says that The key to managing gas prices is looking to increase supply, by bringing more gas onto the market while ensuring that strong environmental protections are in place, and increasing production or pipeline capacity in existing sites. Gas has and will continue to play a vital role in Australia’s energy mix.

Thank you for raising this important issue with me

(Thanks for nothing)
Yours sincerely,

Senator Jacinta Collins
Senator for Victoria

So the solution to gas prices is to keep increasing supply? This is very convenient for the mining companies, a license to increase supply!
Until recently gas consumption has been relatively cheap because electric appliances weren’t yet highly efficient and the cost of gas in Australia was not linked to prices prevailing in world markets. Distributors of electricity will cannibalise distributors of gas, in several circumstances are the same companies. Gas and electricity prices are expected to rise, so the cost-of-living impact will only worsen. Customers battling to pay bills in full and on time are facing an increasing risk of unfair electricity and gas cut-offs, a peak welfare agency has warned.

Victorians' gas bills will skyrocket by hundreds of dollars over the next few years and low-income earners will be the worst affected, according to a report from a consumer utilities body.

Domestic prices have been rising as gas producers in Australia seek higher prices in export markets, made possible by shipping gas in liquid form, mainly to Japan. So, domestic consumers are meant to pay global export prices and bear the brunt of having multinational mining companies pay what they want!

All gas-exporting nations, except Australia, have either a gas reservation scheme - in which a portion of gas is reserved for domestic use at a fair domestic price - or equivalent statutory requirements aimed at ensuring local industry and consumers are not disadvantaged by exposure to the high global price for gas.

Sign the petition: RESERVE OUR GAS

Indonesia - which accounts for about 56 per cent of Australia's $1.3 billion live export market - will only take 50,000 head of cattle this quarter, down from 250,000 for the same period in 2014.

Labor has blamed Canberra's tense relationship with Jakarta over the executions of Australian drug smugglers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran as well the Abbott government's asylum seeker boat turn-back policy for the live cattle reduction.

Most animals who are exported live for slaughter have their throats cut while fully conscious. Millions have died at sea. Some 35 investigations have revealed that in destination countries, many animals endure routine abuse and brutal slaughter in places where laws do not protect them from cruelty.

Barnaby Joyce says Indonesia's decision to cut its quota of live Australian cattle exports is 'disappointing'. However, it's a partial victory for those who've been lobbying to end the misery and brutality. The industry was never sustainable, politically, economically, ethically or environmentally.

To: swansmembership@sydneyswans.com.au

To whom it may concern,

I have virtually nil interest in football of any kind, but I can’t help being aware of the disgusting bullying by “fans” of Sydney Swans star Adam Goodes. I don’t know if it is racially motivated but it is personal and relentless. I think if Goodes were to retire from football as a result of this disgusting mindless campaign it would show up the AFL as weak and able to be manipulated easily.

One suggestion is that when this booing starts, the players from both teams should go on strike and refuse to play. It is unmistakable and everyone knows when it is happening. The AFL and their team management should support them. In this way, the AFL and players stand up against bullying and racism. The offenders would pretty soon get short shrift from the better behaved fans. Sponsors should also support this action.

It seems everyone is being extremely weak about this. Football should symbolise strength and courage both physical and moral. As I write this I hear on the radio that Goodes may not play next Saturday because of this stupid “meme” (something that is spreading as a behaviour as does a gene as it is passed down) The question in the media is “is it racially motivated” To me that question does not need to be answered in order to censure the behaviour. The booing is targeted towards one person and it is affecting his life. It is totally reprehensible if no action is taken by other players and those in authority.

Please direct my letter appropriately if necessary.

I totally agree with you! After reading of the latest outburst at Adam Goodes I was absolutely disgusted. I'm and avid football follower, a life member of my local club, a past administrator and player. I've born witness to various isolated incidents that could be put down to passion, ignorance and stupidity.

The current wave of harassment surpasses this in the racism stakes. The booing isn't people being passionate, ignorant or stupid, it's orchestrated and therefore blatant racism and therefore cannot be tolerated. I agree with your suggestion that the players from both teams should walk off the ground during such incidents. The AFL is culpable by their lack of action on the matter by not ensuring the workplace (the stadium) is free from such incidents.

Walter Palmer, and American dentist, has come under fierce criticism after he was named as the hunter who killed Cecil, amid allegations it took the lion 40 hours to die.

Cecil, a popular attraction among many international visitors to the Hwange National Park, was reportedly lured outside the park's boundaries by bait and initially shot with a bow and arrow. This was in the name of the "sport" of trophy hunting!

Mr Palmer and Zimbabwean professional hunter Theo Bronkhorst had gone hunting at night and tied a dead animal to their vehicle to lure Cecil, who was aged about 13, out of the national park. The world started on a tirade of disgust. "You are a disgusting excuse of a human" and "when does hunting season start on Walter Palmer".

Palmer paid $US50,000 ($68,000) to two people who lured the animal to its death. Celebrities, meanwhile, have taken to social media to express outrage and exasperation over the death of the animal. The death of Cecil has left conservators deeply worried for the safety of several lion cubs, who are now living unprotected in the park.

“I had no idea that the lion I took was a known, local favorite, was collared and part of a study until the end of the hunt. I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt,” said Palmer. If convicted, the men face up to 15 years in prison.

What lures these "hunters" to kill? Poor self-esteem, desire for blood and dominance, or just a macabre trophy to adorn a wall?

Two turtles and two seabirds have been found covered in oil in the wake of a spill near Townsville, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has confirmed.

GBRMPA general manger operations Mark Read told reporters in Townsville that a large dead flatback turtle and a juvenile flatback turtle, plus two boobies, had been found covered in oil. However Mr Read said tests by veterinarian experts at James Cook University suggested the adult turtle may have died before the oil spill.

Queensland oil spill: Turtles, seabirds found slicked near Townsville (30/7/15) | Brisbane Times

The Queensland Transport Department, which is coordinating the clean up response, said more than 100 workers helped to pick up the oil patties, which posed no danger to the public. And a turtle found dead on at Taylors Beach, south of Lucinda, was being tested to see if it was affected by the oil slick.

A transport department spokesman says oil samples from nine out of 10 domestic tankers in the area at the time have been tested in a bid to identify the culprit. Four tankers that have since headed overseas will also be tested.

The damage oil does to marine ecosystems is well known. But the nature of damage that would be done by such a large mountain of coal seems less certain.

Back in 2010 Maritime law specialist Dr Michael White, adjunct professor with the University of Queensland, said oil is the major environmental threat posed by ship groundings. He says a cargo of coal dumped into the sea could do "considerable localised damage" and there would be some element of localised toxicity.

Marine pollution is widely recognised as one of the four major threats to the world's oceans, along with climate change, habitat destruction and over-exploitation of living marine resources.

The UN say by the year 2030 (that's 15 years away), Earth's population will grow from the 7.3 billion it currently stands on, to 8.5 billion. That's not it; by the end of the current century, it'll be at 11.2 billion, 6% higher than what was projected earlier.

India be taking over China's population in just seven years, taking over the number one spot of being the most populated country in the world. Africa has the highest birth rate in the world. On average where a U.S woman bears 1.9 children, Europe 1.6, and Japan 1.4, African mothers bear a staggering 4.7 children.

Globally the number of persons aged 60 or above is expected to more than double by 2050 and more than triple by 2100. But, Africa has the youngest age distribution of any major area, but it is also projected to age rapidly, with the population aged 60 years or over rising from 5% today to 9% by 2050. The numbers are astronomical, and will drive further the existing global problems of climate change, food security, conflicts, environmental degradation and "shortage" of water!

While natural resources are declining, global human populations are exploding, yet few people are able to join the dots on the latter. India, one of the largest agrarian economies in the world, is deeply at risk from climate change, and could see economic losses of up to 8.7 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) by 2100 if the world fails to respond to a host of climate threats, a Manila based multi-lateral funding agency said in a report. Their GDP is hardly a problem!

Please add a comment:
India to be the world's most populated country by 2020

The Grimethorpe Colliery band will be performing tonight at 7:30PM at the Frankston Arts Centre in Frankston Victoria. Details of subsequent concerts in Hobart (13 Aug), Monash University in Melbourne (14 Aug), Norwoood in South Australia (15 Aug 15) and Perth (16 Aug) can be found here. The world renowned Grimethorpe Colliery Brass Band was formed from coal-miners who lost their livelihoods following their heroic year long strike against the neo-liberal policies of Margaret Thatcher which ended in January 1985.

UNHCR tells Al Jazeera a record 224,000 migrants and refugees have arrived in Europe since start of 2015. They claim that refugee crisis in Europe is a crisis not because of the number of refugees, but because of Europe’s failure to respond to it in a coordinated fashion, the UN Refugee agency has said.

Surely these numbers are far more than can be accommodated by the UN Refugee Convention, or EU policies to asylum seekers?

"In our view, European countries need to work together rather than point fingers at each other. In order to deal with this situation, Europe should open more legal ways for refugees to come," William Spindler, senior spokesperson of the UNHCR, told Al Jazeera.

Migrant crisis a failure of European policy, UN says (6/8/15) | Al Jazeera

The ongoing crisis off Europe's shores have prompted a wave of debate across Europe over migration, with each government deferring responsibility for each passing crisis. There's a Cornucopia belief that the impoverished and persecuted, in whatever numbers, can not be overwhelming!

France blames Italy and Greece for failing to process asylum seekers arriving on its shores, opening the doors for them to travel elsewhere. The European Commission reproaches member-states for not taking their share of asylum seekers: it wants to set up a system of compulsory quotas. the migration crisis is testing the EU’s ability to find long-term solutions to pressing challenges. The Arab Spring and the subsequent Libyan and Syrian conflicts have shown that the EU urgently needs to find a common approach to migration.

Calais currently houses some 3,000 migrants, mainly from North African countries. EU countries have so far only agreed to take about 32,000 of the asylum seekers from Italy and Greece, but there are 40,000 to be placed. Spain is very critical of the relocation plan because it will create a pull factor" attracting more migrants to Europe instead of preventing their departure.

"Most of those crossing the Mediterranean are refugees fleeing war and persecution, not economic migrants," U.N. refugee agency spokesman William Spindler said, adding that Syrians fleeing the bloody civil war accounted for 38 percent of arrivals this year.

Taking in refugees does not reduce the number of refugees. It will actually increase the number. The world's number one issue is overpopulation. The UN say that the Sub-Saharan regions of Africa, in particular, will likely face massive overpopulation problems in the next decades due to “persistent high levels of fertility and the recent slowdown in the rate of fertility decline.” Of those migrants who crossed the Mediterranean this year, Eritreans formed the third-largest national group, behind Syrians and Afghanis. The UNHCR says 5,000 leave every month. Eritrea is not at war, but its a possibility of a return to conflict with neighbouring Ethiopia.

Since the migrants are driven not merely by war but by poverty, famine, drought, over-population and unemployment, there is no reason to think they will soon stop coming. Open borders don't work, and the EU should be disbandoned so that each nation can formulate their own criteria and limits to how many asylum seekers they can accommodate.

The population in the suburb of Grace which sits north of Canberra, grew 57 per cent in the past financial year - the fastest level of population growth during the period.

The suburb is about 13 kms from Canberra’s CBD. The suburb started out as bushland in 2009 but by 2014 recorded $112 million worth of new dwellings.

"Urban growth is as inevitable as progress" says Simon Crowther, CEO of nearmap. This is our present economic model, of "progress" in housing growth, and foreign investment in property!

Watch as one of Australia's fastest growing suburbs transforms from a vacant dirt block to suburbia in ACT

This former "dirt block" was actually bushland. The silence of protest to protect the legless lizards and sun-moths is deafening - the environmental reason for the ACT's annual kangaroo "cull" because they are an environmental threat!

The Victorian Government is currently conducting an inquiry into end of life issues. Submissions have closed - so far 300 have been posted on the web site. http://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/lsic/article/2609.

The weight of argument and evidence in the submissions is very strongly in favour of reform, i.e. the decriminalisation of voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide. My submission is too long to include here, but it can be read as submission no. 193. Comments welcome.

A video of my question to former Queensland Premier Anna Bligh has been posted to the ABC Q and A site. The video is Question on privatisation for Anna Bligh. The text of the question is:

This is a question for former Queensland Premier, Anna Bligh. In 2009 I ran in the Queensland elections as a candidate against the privatisation of state assets. I would have run again on this issue in 2012 but for a near fatal car accident in 2010. On page 186 of your recently published memoir, Through the Wall, you blame the campaign by affiliated trade unions against privatisation and not yourself for the Queensland Labor Party's devastating defeat at the 2012 state elections. Why didn't you ask the Queensland public at the March 2009 elections, as I had formally asked you to do in February 2009, whether or not they wanted even more of their assets privatised? Or, do you think, as, for example, John Howard, Paul Keating, and Peter Beattie evidently believed, that the owners of public assets had no right to say whether or not their assets were flogged off? Assets sold off included the Port of Brisbane, the coal carrying division of Queensland Rail, and the Abbott Point coal loader.

See also: To Q and A: Why wan't my video question put to Anna Bligh?

email from Ian Penrose, a Victorian candidate for the ACF Council, about his views on population.

He writes:

You have asked about the subject of the human population. Let me assure you that I firmly believe (like Geoff) that we must stop it growing – not just globally but also at the national and local levels – if we are going to live in harmony with nature and care for the other species that share this finite planet. I have been a long standing advocate (in a private capacity) of that viewpoint. As evidence, in the early 1970s I joined the advocacy group, Zero Population Growth, and for a short time led its Victorian chapter. More recently I have joined Victoria First, which (despite its poorly chosen name) is focussed on stopping population growth.

One hiccup in my candidacy for Council is that due to an administrative oversight, the information about me on ACF’s website is incomplete. The actual statement I submitted for publication is attached. In the section headed, “What do you hope to achieve as a councillor?” I said “to help ACF remain Australia’s leading organisation advocating for our wonderful natural environment, and contribute to ACF’s work on the drivers of sustainability.” A fundamental driver is a stable human population, and that is one key area I would advocate strongly for.

It would be appreciated if you would pass onto other likeminded people my position on this critical issue.

Wage slavery is being perpetrated against australians by corrupt Lieberal Governments

A thought-provoking article, Anon. Interest acts to transfer money from those who have little (the poor) to those who have lots (banks and the wealthy). It's like income tax in reverse. Robin Hood in the bizarro world.

But unlike income taxes, interest cannot be avoided. Not true, nineofclubs, you say! If you don't borrow money or use credit cards, you don't pay interest. This seems to make sense, but is actually very wrong. American money writer Ellen Brown has documented how hidden interest costs are built into the cost of everything we buy. She calculated that in Germany, interest costs represented a staggering 30% of all the money spent in the economy. The figure in Australia is likely to be somewhat less now, given the lower rates of interest prevailing now compared to the late 90's when Brown's study was conducted. However, the proportion is still likely to be significant.

Libertarians are continually whining about the evils of taxation, because it represents 'an unjustified transfer of wealth'. It's high time that we started looking at interest in the same light, particularly where it's charged on money that has been created by book-keeping, rather than earned through effort.
.

Interest is justified when one person makes a loan to another. If I'm a depositor, and the bank loans my money to you, then you pay interest and I earn it.

This is because I am forgoing use of my money now, so you can use it now. As money is more valuable now than later, interest is paid. Interest is you paying me to defer my spending so you can bring yours forward. You get the car I could have bought earlier and enjoy it longer.

In this respect, low to zero interst rates are a problem because you are spending my money now, I have to wait, but there is no compensation. So why save?

The problem is when interest is charged on money which wasnt earned by somone. If a bank creates money out of thin air, and lends it, with interest, then who is deferring turning thier works into goods and services? No one. So why pay interest?

Here lies the problem, that so much money is created as debt, with interest. Even without interest, it is a problem. Rather than produce first, we get our payments up front and enter debt bondage as a result. Pushing more money increases debt, increases bondage. The money to fund housing bubbles is manufactured, its not a result of Australians having billions saved up.

Where an individual has earned and saved some money and seeks to lend it to someone else, I agree that it is their right to charge interest on the loan, if they wish.
But in modern society, how often does that happen? Virtually never.

The vast majority of money loaned out is created by private banks, out of nothing as a book keeping exercise. This is why you don't actually have to wait at all to get your invested money back from the bank. 'Your' money was there all along. With money created under the fractional reserve system, there is no moral justification for charging anything other than a fee for service to cover the cost of setting up and administering the loan. The interest charged by banks on 97% of the money they loan out is completely unjustified. The fact that interest acts to take money away from borrowers and give it to banks who created it out of nothing is a problem, make no mistake.

Separately, there are different problems with the creation of money as debt. The problems include (1) that those creating national currency - a public asset - are privately owned corporations who then lend it at interest to governments, and (2) that money created like this is directed into the economy on the basis of how profitable and/or safe a loan will be, rather than anything to do with the National Interest. The fractional reserve system facilitates these problems.

Money reformer Allan R Jones proposed a system for creating money that he called National Credit, which was similar to Social Credit but instead of just giving people cash, would spend the money into circulation on projects of national importance. This money would not be a loan, but would be put into the economy without any expectation of repayment. Only the Reserve Bank would be authorised to create money. Private banks would have to operate as most people imagine they do now, on full reserves. This was a significant improvement on Social Credit, in my opinion.

So under such a system, people who saved money could store it in a bank and loan it out at interest if they wanted. While it was loaned out, it would become unavailable for withdrawal by the depositor. It's commonly imagined that this would result in higher rates of interest, because banks would have to compete for deposits and the depositors cash really would become unavailable for a time.

But the example of the Swedish JAK Bank shows this is not necessarily the case. Your average Australian will pay far more in interest charges over their life than they will ever earn on their savings. Same in Sweden, presumably. So JAK bank allows borrowers to take loans interest free, on the condition that they repay their loan and then contribute (as 'aftersavings') to a pool funding other peoples loans for a period. These aftersavings do not attract interest. For most, this is a good deal. You get to borrow money interest free. You pay back your loan then have to save money into a pool that gets loaned to others interest free. At the end of the contract, you get your aftersavings back, without interest. Throughout the loan period, you pay a flat monthly charge which covers the bank's costs. Best of all, this system does not rely on fractional reserve banking to operate. In a system where fractional reserve banking was outlawed, this kind of system would flourish because it would offer a way for people to borrow for major expenses, without the usurious wealth transfer associated with interest that underpins our money system today.
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You're making sense there nineofclubs. Steve Keen has also studied the topic of money creation by banks, Ponzi schemes and the like and among other things suggests that modern jubilees and full reserve banking maybe the way forward in the future. This is not to suggest that your suggestions are unworkable, but we need a way forward that is workable for everybody.

Steve's article can be read at www.debtdeflation.com/blogs/manifesto Let me know what you think.

Thanks for the reference, John. I had a quick look at the website and would like to spend a bit more time trying to digest it all. It's certainly interesting and there are some concepts presented there that I would agree with. I couldn't get the graphs to display properly so some of the ideas might be clearer when I work out how to do that..

The criticism of neo-classical economics is encouraging, though I'm not familiar with the work of Minsky - on which much of Keen's ideas are apparently based. The fundamental idea that debt deleveraging can cause recessions / depressions sounds logical, and not something that you'd hear from mainstream economists.

I like the idea of the debt jubilee, which looks like a sensible way of reducing the levels of private debt which will certainly be constraining demand at present. Keen also deals with fractional reserve banking and notes the good work being done by Positive Money in the UK.

However, he says that he's not convinced that the ability of private banks to create money is, of itself, a 'causa causans' of crises, but rather it's the way that money in this way is used. This is worth thinking about. I wonder whether it's practically possible to separate the two? Keen suggests that over-investment in real estate could be addressed by imposing limits on lending based on the rental potential of the property. Perhaps this would work, but it seems like an attempt to treat symptoms rather than curing the disease. What do you think?

Also, the debt jubilee sounds like a great idea but if it just allowed banks to start pushing newly created money as interest bearing debt again, wouldn't that just be giving the current system another opportunity to start the cycle all over again?

Back in the 1980's, Allan R Jones identified that the creation of money and the use to which it's put are closely related and this underpinned his National Credit idea, which preceded the work being done by Positive Money and the American Monetary Institute by twenty years. I think that in the future, he will be recognised as an economic visionary.

Keen's ideas are obviously well thought out and I'm looking forward to working through his ideas a bit more. Thanks again for the reference.

The Swedish JAK example sounds interesting.

I agree partly with Keen, central bank issuing of money isn't the problem in and of itself, where it goes matters. If that money funds individual enterprise, good. Real estate bubbles, not so.

National Credit I think suffers from the same problem our current system has, namely the assumption that money generates wealth. The QE experiment has shown rather conclusively that making money doesn't create resources. You can print money, and then expect capital to be automagically created. When that capital is not created, you get price bubbles, which are deflating now.

You can make infinite money, but resources are finite. So'what is there to buy? What is the point of all this money, if there is little to buy?

The question isn't money. It's production. You can't increase production by printing or issuing money. Money isn't magic whose mere existence creates factories, oil and ideas. The central banks act as if it is. They create money for "stimulus" but the problem isn't there is no money, it is the potential of people to contribute to civilisation, which is based on the structure and demographics.

As the west is adopting a third world social structure and demographic, its economy moves to third world status (slowly, but surely). This reduces demand for goods, which impacts China, which impacts us. We print money hoping to turn the tide, but aside from inflated equities and homes, nothing happens. It just makes it worse as it entrenches a regressive debt slave based system.

But economists focus on money, so miss the point. If you went to fuedal England, and printed millions of pounds, what would happen? What would you get? Not much, as feudal lords keep serfs unproductive for control. If you did in the remote parts of Africa, what would you get?

Our economic woes are demographic and social, not monetary. Monetary policy makes things WORSE, but a fix in policy won't see the halcyon days return.

Properly created and used, I'd suggest that money can and does allow for the creation of wealth. It doesn't do it by itself, of course. There needs to be physical resources, labour and organisation as well.
If I want to build a new airport, I need money to do so. I might borrow that money (from a bank that will create out of nothing) and spend it on assembling the resources, labour etc to get the airport going. If I'm successful, I'll generate enough return to cover costs, repay my loan with interest and still make a profit. I will be generating wealth and helping others to do so too. If I can't access money, my airport remains an idea.

We don't have a problem with too much money in the system currently. Far from it. Too much money results in inflation. Zimbabwe and Weimar Germany were good examples. We have low levels of inflation. We also have the reserve bank keeping official interest rates low in an effort to stimulate economic activity. But that lever's broken, because as Steve Keen seems to be saying, we've reached a point where we are saturated with private debt. Relying on private demand for bank issued, interest bearing debt to stimulate the economy doesn't work any more.

QE as delivered by the Obama government was ineffective because it just threw more money at the banks to lend out. The National Credit proposal, which is effectively what Positive Money and the American Monetary Institute are now promoting wouldn't rely on the manipulation of interest rates to stimulate (or dampen) demand. It'd spend more money directly into circulation when the economy needed a kick along - and less if inflation rose unacceptably. Unlike Howard's $800 battler bucks, National Credit would also be spent on things of enduring value, rather than on imported flat screen TV's. The Reserve Bank's role would be to determine how much money to spend into the system, ensuring a proper balance between unemployment and inflation. Bill Mitchell has suggested that government should become an employer of last resort and use money it creates in this way to ensure full employment. This is kind of appealing, but might ultimately divert money to 'make work'projects that don't really need to be done.

So if we went back to feudal England with millions of pounds, we'd probably create inflation because the productive capacity of society at the time was constrained by a lack of technology. Almost everyone worked hard all the time, but by comparison to today they weren't productive. Today we have large numbers of people unemployed or under-employed. They are, by comparison, highly educated and can use technology in ways that make them productive. Spending on useful projects as opposed to lending for propery speculation would engage the productive capacity of these people like never before.

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