Saturday, December 25, 2010

The 'Free Market' is a shibboleth

The "free market", "market mechanism" etc is virtually a shibboleth these days.

But the free market or cargo-cult market fundamentalism as I prefer to call it is the problem not the answer. Free markets or rather unregulated markets are what have caused the Great Recession and the climate change disaster.

"a carbon price might, in theory, make complimentary measures redundant. But, as Professor Ross Garnaut points out, it would need to be $50-$100 a tonne to make it so."

Compare this with Stiglitz who says the tax needs to be somewhere near $88/t.

Why can't we start at a low rate ($10-20/t) and move up from there over time? And return the fee as a citizen's dividend to post compensate for increased energy prices and mute criticism of the 'great big tax'.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Liberal Defence of Extraordinary Rendition

The Assange Case (Wikileaks) was the biggest story in the world for at least a week and a half.

Richard Seymour over at Lenin's Tomb didn't seem to notice it was happening.

No doubt he was busy playing 'revolutionary at the barricades' at some lefty protest or other.

He finally he jumps in with something on 21 December when it was all over (at least this initial skirmish). With an absolute tin ear for the local and international politics of the affair, his remarks involve wasting everybody's time discussing the sexual misconduct allegations. Seymour doesn't seem to realize that this doesn't matter. Maybe he's in the pay of the Empire like it was suspected Anna Ardin was.

The issue with the Assange case is simple:

Under no circumstances must Assange be extradited or rendered to the United States.

I'll repeat that. Rape be damned, Assange could be up for murder. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES MUST ASSANGE BE EXTRADITED OR RENDERED TO THE UNITED STATES.

The reason is, persons cannot be extradited to a place where they may not get a fair trial, may be detained without trial, tortured or executed. Especially persons who are critics of the Empire and who are not guilty or even charged with any crime concerning their dissenting activities.

Remember also that Assange is a White Male of Christian origin and a Citizen of an Allied Country. Who's next if he is fair game?

There needs to be an effective guarantee from the Swedish Government that he will not be so extradited. Otherwise there should be protests up to and including civil disobedience to physically prevent any such extradition to Sweden.

My suspicion is Seymour can't see this issue for the same reason he couldn't see the Global Financial Crisis, otherwise known as the Great Recession or Great Depression 2 depending on how it pans out. He's a traditional Marxian lefty and has a blind spot on the issues of civil liberties and finance capitalism.

This deficiency in politics and economics is pretty major considering the nature of the Marxist project. In fact, it is tragic. We cant put all the blame on Marx, the sad fact it the understanding was simply not there for him and for much of the 20th Century. But it is now time to do better.

Neo-liberal oligarchism has been running amuck across the whole world for the last 30 or 40 years now. Part of the problem no doubt has been the near total collapse and incoherency of the traditional left.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Modern Day Marxism


[Marx] offered lots of insights into how society works, and he was an extremely good analyst of the current events of the day. I think he would take it for granted that elites are basically Marxist - they believe in class analysis, they believe in class struggle, and in a really business-run society like the United States, the business elites are deeply committed to class struggle and are engaged in it all the time. And they understand. They're instinctive Marxists; they don't have to read it.

Warren Buffett:

“There’s class warfare, all right,” Mr. Buffett said, “but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

What on earth could he mean?


Americans have the highest income inequality in the rich world and over the past 20–30 years Americans have also experienced the greatest increase in income inequality among rich nations. The more detailed the data we can use to observe this change, the more skewed the change appears to be... the majority of large gains are indeed at the top of the distribution.

Neoliberalism, all that b-s about privatization, deregulation, economic reform etc etc has in fact been nothing but a plot to reestablish high and growing income inequality. Congratulations, well done. You've succeeded. Can we have a revolution now?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Christopher Hitchens Catches his Death of Cancer

I'm not some kind of droog kicking drunks in the street. One's opponents should be sober at least and preferably in good health also. But it's hard to avoid this remarkable statement from Hitchens:

I'm glad we're not having an inquest now, as we would be, into why we allowed a Rwanda or a Congo to develop on the Gulf, an imploding Iraq right in front of our eyes, a vortex of violence and meltdown, a whole society beggared and fractured and traumatised, waiting to fall to pieces.

But that is exactly what happened in Iraq, as a direct result of the illegal and criminal invasion which you, the traitor Hitchens, aggressively supported. Surely you, Hitchens, cannot be unaware of this fact?


One of the bitter aspects of that is, well, I put in 60 years at the coalface, I worked very hard. In the last few years I've got a fair amount of recognition for it. In my opinion, actually, rather more than I deserve. Certainly more than I expected. And I could have looked forward to a few years of, shall we say, cruising speed, you know, just, as it were, relishing that, enjoying it.

Hitchens sold his soul to the devil to get his reward of money, fame, success and recognition. Instead, he got terminal cancer.

Truly pitiful.

Hitchens decided to switch his support to the US Empire over the criminal, baseless, counterproductive, disastrous, genocidal Iraq war.

It's like someone who decides to support Soviet Russia, not during the 1917 Revolution or the 1941 Great Patriotic war, but during the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia or the 1979 Afghanistan invasion.

You would have thought even the slowest of them would know better by then.

God didn't strike Hitchens down with cancer over his atheism or imperialism, he did to to give us a bitter, ironic laugh at this World-Historical clown figure.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Randall Wray on USS Titanic QEII


Maintaining the dollar's international appeal also requires imposition of the rule of law in the US. Currently, the fraud perpetrated by the biggest banks is far worse than anything the Russian kleptocrats and mafia combined could possibly imagine. The US is in the grips of the worst scandals in world history, with the financial sector no longer constrained by anything that would be recognizable as lawful practice. And that is the biggest threat to the dollar as international reserve currency. Unless the top banks are closed, with their management jailed, there really is no hope for the US dollar or for its economy.

Friday, November 12, 2010

21st Century Jubilee

Steve Keen:

We should write the debt off, bankrupt the banks, nationalize the financial system, and start all over again.

We need a twenty-first century jubilee.

[We’re going into] a never-ending depression unless we repudiate the debt, which never should have been extended in the first place.

If we keep the parasitic banking sector alive, the economy dies. We have to kill the parasites and give a chance to the real economy to thrive once more and stop the financial [crooks] doing what they did this time around ever again.

Chifley was right. We need to nationalize the banks. But the time to do it is when they become bankrupt in a depression, not twenty years later when they have recovered their strength. The coming financial crash in Australia is an historic opportunity to achieve this.

The provision of finance and credit in the economy is an essential public utility - it cannot be left to the inherently corrupt and inefficient private sector based on some delusional cargo-cult ideology of "the free market always lands the goods".

The issue becomes clearer by the day and maybe will come to a head. The Giant Vampire Squid of the financial sector (like some monster out of the imagination of Clark Ashton Smith) needs to be ripped off the head and neck of the real economy where it has been feasting and poisoning, and stamped repeatedly into the ground until it is completely lifeless.

But Steve Keen does not say what Michael Hudson does: that rents and surpluses also need to be nationalized or socialized because those are the income streams that become pledged to banks as interest in the financialized economy. Without doing that, we will be on the treadmill again to another crisis 18 years down the track. This is a far more radical and permanent solution than what Keen proposes, which looks almost mild in comparison in spite of its shocking directness.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Death Blow for the Nuclear Industry

Solar Energy Cheaper than Nuclear for the First Time

In a “historic crossover,” the costs of solar photovoltaic systems have declined to the point where they are lower than the rising projected costs of new nuclear plants...

This crossover occurred at 16 cents per kilowatt hour, they said.

The Green movement, environmentalists, antiwar and anti-nuclear campaigners have been right all along, for the past 30 or 40 years.

Nuclear power is costly, toxic, weaponable, non-renewable and not the answer. Solar not nuclear.

Actually its a stroke of luck that the sheer cost of nuclear power is going to kill it. Otherwise we would have to rely on environmental arguments about pollution or moral arguments about war and militarism. Unfortunately those arguments don't carry as much weight.

The luck is the other way around with coal however. It's cheap to burn to produce electricity, and there is lots of it. We are having to rely on environmental, pollution, and intergenerational moral arguments to defeat it: a tough sell. This is why it is of fundamental importance that a carbon tax (combined with a carbon dividend) on CO2 be introduced as soon as possible. The price incentive is the one thing that can get the system moving.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Stiglitz: Carbon tax a no-brainer

Putting a price on carbon is ''a no brainer'' and should be the first priority of any government, Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz says.

''I'm an advocate of carbon tax, because the general principle is that it's better to tax bad things than good things,'' he told a capacity crowd at the Australian National University's Llewellyn Hall yesterday afternoon, drawing a loud burst of enthusiastic applause.

''We don't know exactly what the right price of carbon is some say around $US60 to $80 ($A66 to $A88) a tonne, but what we do know is that zero is the wrong price.''


Stiglitz thus joins what appears to be a majority of economists from all schools who advocate the carbon tax over 'carbon trading'.

In theory, 'carbon trading' would work, if the licenses were auctioned on an annual basis, but then if it is so like a carbon tax, why bother?

In my view, 'carbon trading' is designed to fail. It's designed to make money for Wall st traders and to allow corporate-dominated governments to giveaway 'permits to pollute' to the big polluters.

An obvious and inevitable line of attack against the carbon tax is the 'great big new tax' and 'raise the cost of standard of living' arguments. To counter this purely at the political level a carbon dividend should be proposed. Either 50% or even 100% of the revenue raised from a carbon tax should be returned to each citizen on a per capita basis as compensation for increased energy costs.

Or 50% of the revenue could be invested in the building out of the new clean energy infrastructure. This would be a genuine 'nation building' project, not the farcical and murderous wedding-bombing operation in Afghanistan.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ken O'Keefe on the BBC

Ken O'Keefe gives a spirited performance against a BBC 'journalist'.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Emily Henochowicz

21-year old Emily Henochowicz loses her left eye after being shot in the face with a tear gas canister.


Monday, April 19, 2010

Housing Bubble

Way back in 1983 Fred Harrison published his book "The Power in the Land" which relied on Homer Hoyt's 18-yr cycle theory to predict a land boom peaking in 1989 and a recession thereafter.

Back in the day we Georgists were amused to see the prediction come true and thought the bubble was a big one too. Anyone could also predict that the next peak would be 2007 or therabouts.

But look at this latest boom! No wonder the Economist called it the "biggest bubble in world history".

It's been Michael Hudson perhaps more than anyone else who has emphasized that a big land boom means huge amounts of money have been lent with land or property as collateral, which means in a bust all the banks are bust. In a financialised economy all available rents or supluses are pledged to banks as interest.

The financial sector is a giant vampire squid, sucking the life out of the economy and the workforce. Here again Hudson has rightly emphasized that 'debts that can't be paid, won't be paid'; that we need a 'Jubilee'.

However, the financial sector owns and controls the world and won't get it's fangs off it until there is some kind of revolution or popular rebellion.

Neo-liberalism will also have to be destroyed. The core of this dogma is to privatize, de-regulate, de-fund, de-tax and de-stroy.

Privatize: hand over land and resources and everthing in the nature of a natural monopoly to the private sector to allow them to privatize the economic surplus.

De-regulate: remove barriers to the raising of profits.

De-fund: the public sector and in particular the essential government role of infrastructure. Infrastructure will be provided by the miracle of market forces! Just like some sort of latter-day cargo cult. All you need to do is set up on some level ground somewhere wooden carvings of Adam Smith and Hayek, and all the good things anyone could desire will come down!

De-tax: lower or remove altogether taxation on wealth, property and capital.

De-stroy: the obvious outcome of it all, although a small class of the very rich have gotten smaller and even richer, which is their objective.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Change the System, Not the Climate

A People's Declaration from Klimaforum 09 -

The Copenhagen conference on Climate change was a flop and a joke. It was, literally, a bunch of Neros fiddling while the world burned.

But it may have the benefit of finally discrediting the approaches tried to date, such as carbon trading etc.

Another benefit of the Conference was the alternative summits, people's summits, such as the Klimaforum. The Klimaforum document is highly admirable and a sound basis for going forward. Change must come from below, and the exploitative Western capitalist system that created the crisis must be radically altered.