Thursday, October 04, 2012

Michael Hudson: Financial Conquest or Clean Slate?

The history of how societies have dealt politically with their debt overhead throughout history needs to be highlighted in the public consciousness and placed at the heart of the academic curriculum and media discussion.
Michael Hudson

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

When Chomsky wept

When Chomsky wept

A moving tribute to Chomsky from an old friend.

Certainly not everyone, but a lot of us think Chomsky is the real deal: A hero, saint, prophet, 'truly great human being'.  A combination of intellectual capacity and moral integrity that is admirable in the highest degree.

One of the commenters points to Einstein's famous tribute to Gandhi but another says Gandhi was a bit odd and that such a tribute might be better said of Chomsky. It is hard to disagree. 

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Three Charts That Illustrate Why Solar Has Hit A True Tipping Point

Three Charts That Illustrate Why Solar Has Hit A True Tipping Point:
A new report from the prominent global consulting firm McKinsey shows why solar photovoltaics have hit a tipping point.
As the economics of solar PV continue to improve steadily and dramatically, McKinsey analysts conclude that the yearly “economic potential” of solar PV deployment could reach 600-1,000 gigawatts (1 million megawatts) by 2020.
In the year 2000, the global demand for solar PV was 170 megawatts.
That doesn’t mean 1 million megawatts will get built per year after 2020; it’s just an estimate of the economic competitiveness of solar PV. When factoring in real-word limitations like the regulatory environment, availability of financing, and infrastructure capabilities, the actual yearly market will be closer to 100 gigawatts in 2020.
That could bring in more than $1 trillion in investments between 2012 to 2020.
The McKinsey report, appropriately named “Darkest Before Dawn,” highlights three crucial factors that are giving the solar industry so much momentum — even with such a violent shakeout occurring in the manufacturing sector today.

1. Because solar mostly competes with retail rates, the economic potential for the technology in high resource areas is far bigger than actual deployment figures would suggest. McKinsey predicts that the cost of installing a commercial-scale solar PV system will fall another 40 percent by 2015, growing the “unsubsidized economic potential” (i.e. the economic competitiveness without federal subsidies) of the technology to hundreds of gigawatts by 2020.

2. The most important cost reductions in the next decade will come not through groundbreaking lab-scale improvements, but through incremental cost reductions due to deployment. The McKinsey analysis shows how the dramatically these cumulative cost improvements can change the economics of solar. (For more, see: Anatomy of a Solar PV System: How to Continue “Ferocious Cost Reductions” for Solar Electricity.)

3. Solar is already competitive in a variety of markets today. As the chart below illustrates, there are at least three markets where solar PV competes widely today: Off-grid, isolated grids, and the commercial/residential sectors in high-resource areas. Of course, the competitiveness of the technology varies dramatically depending on a variety of local factors. But this comparison shows just how steadily the cross-over is approaching.

Wait, solar is actually competitive? Didn’t the death of Solyndra mean the death of the solar industry? Addressing the solar skeptics, the McKinsey analysts counter the notion that the solar sector is down for the count:
“Those who believe the solar industry has run its course may be surprised. Solar companies that reduce their costs, develop value propositions to target the needs of particular segments, and strategically navigate the evolving regulatory landscape can position themselves to reap significant rewards in the coming years.”
The short-term picture for solar is extraordinarily challenging, particularly for manufacturers trying to figure out how to make a profit with such a massive oversupply of panels on the market. But this is not an industry in its death throes; these are natural pains for a disruptive, fast-growing industry. The tipping point is upon us.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Kilkenny People Article on Site Value Tax

Kilkenny People Article on Site Value Tax:
in the Kilkenny People
Jill Kerby: Preparing for the real property tax
Published on Sunday 22 April 2012 14:45
Next year we are expected to have a full-blown property tax – of some kind – that will replace the controversial €100 household charge and the second-property charge of €200.
The suggestion is that the government expects to raise at least twice as much – at least around €3.2 billion – than the €1.6 billion they will collect if every property owner signs up and pays the household charge.
The argument in favour of a property tax is that taxing property is a more sustainable source of exchequer funds than taxing labour (via income tax), which can de-incentivise workers and affect employment levels. It is claimed that it is also a fairer form of taxation, especially if the tax pertains to the site value or productive value of the land on which the dwelling exists, and not just the market value of the dwelling.
If the government adopts a site tax next year – and not everyone is singing off the same hymn sheet after junior minister Jan O’Sullivan implied on RTÉ recently that house values would determine what tax is paid – they will have to ensure that the complex will have to be both fair and transparent.
If you are interested to know how a site tax will work and how much you might have to pay, you should consider downloading a study that was done by the economist Ronan Lyons last December for the Smart Taxes Network. (See
In the study Lyons presents a very convincing argument in favour of taxing residential – and commercial land for that matter – on the grounds that “the supply of land… is fixed and thus a parcel of land cannot be ‘withdrawn from supply’; it can merely lie idle. Thus, SVT cannot affect economic outcomes: it is not distortionary.”
Furthermore, says Lyons, “land values vary. Much of the value of a site is created purely by its designation as residential, not agricultural land, i.e. at the stroke of a pen. More generally, land values vary with the value of surrounding amenities. These amenities are typically public goods, either directly, i.e. provided by the Government with taxpayers’ money or indirectly i.e. amenities created by the populations living there, such as social capital, or a rich market for jobs, services or cultural activities. All these amenities incur costs of maintenance or costs of opportunity. Therefore, if public goods create private value, the fairest way of paying for their maintenance is to recoup some of that value from those who benefit.”
He argues that a site value tax “is not a tax in the conventional sense. It is better thought of as a maintenance charge for the value of amenities enjoyed by landowners and residents.”
A site tax also discourages land being left idle or underdeveloped for speculative purposes, and derelict land zoned residential is taxed at the same rate as residential land with houses on it.
In the ideal site value tax world – and Lyons goes into great detail about how site values could be calculated, which households might be exempt or at least be able to postpone their payment (such as low-income pensioners living on high-value sites – their payments would be collected from their estate) and how previous costs to homeowners, such as high stamp-duty payments during the boom years, could be offset by tax credits. He also notes that a proper system of income distribution will have to take place between high-site-value areas and low-value ones if there are to be any services provided to people who live in more remote or poorer areas.
One thing is very apparent from this study, and that is that owners of even modest homes in busy, high-amenity towns and cities will pay a great deal more than €100 if such a tax is introduced. If a 2% equivalent SVT is introduced, top-ranked sites – where the land is valued at, say, €2 million an acre, could result in annual tax bills of €1,200; a €10 million an acre valuation would see an owner paying as much as €4,960 a year. (Incidentally, these are not untypical UK council tax values or property/site taxes for homeowners in Canadian and American cities where many readers may have family members residing right now.)
Ireland is very unusual in not having a formal property tax, but the old rates system was incorporated into our income and consumption tax system in the 1970s. Consumption taxes are high here and the marginal income tax/PRSI/USC is now around 52% and as high as 56% for higher earners.
Is it fair to burden already stretched middle earners, many of whom are mortgage holders in negative equity and arrears with a potential site value tax of a few thousand euro without reforming and reducing income and consumption taxes? (The Commission on Taxation said absolutely not in its last property tax report.)
As you read this, a new state body is compiling all property prices achieved since 2010. A new property registration authority will report to the government soon on the type of property tax that should be introduced, and everyone who has registered for the household charge will be on that property tax list.
The Smart Taxes Network report (which includes a number of property case studies at the end) could be the framework on which the new tax is based.
Read it and then act: Open a savings account called “Site Tax” at your local bank or credit union and start making contributions.
And get used to the idea that you are no longer just the King of your Castle: you’re now a tenant of the state and the tax you will pay is rent.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

The Fossilpower: 25 trillion dollars.

This is the estimated value of the fossil fuel industry, according to Mulga Mumblebrain.

The fossilpower deserves to be compared to the slavepower in the ante-bellum US, or the landpower in Georgist theory, or the moneypower in the context of monetary reform. It's a huge vested interest which generates propaganda and deluded followers in equal measure, and which will use any tactic - including violence and war - to prevent serious discussion of the issue, and the inevitable reform which by definition eliminates its value.

The fossil fuel industry simply has to be shut down - and replaced with renewables where possible but shut down in any case. The carbon tax (or better, the carbon fee and dividend) would be a smooth and efficient way to achieve this, but if that is not possible because of corrupted politics and media, then direct action might be necessary.

It's just good luck that concentrated solar electric power can now be produced at an estimated 20c kw/h, and expected to fall with deployment close to the current market price of electricity of 16c kw/h.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Amusing Remarks by George Bernard Shaw on Henry George

George Bernard Shaw, in a letter written in 1905 to Hamlin Garland, describes how, more than twenty years earlier, he had attended Henry George's first platform appearance in London. He knew at once, he said, that the speaker must be an American, for four reasons:

Because he pronounced 'necessarily' . . . with the accent on the third syllable instead of the first;

because he was deliberately and intentionally oratorical, which is not customary among shy people like the English;

because he spoke of Liberty, Justice, Truth, Natural Law, and other strange 18th-century superstitions; and

because he explained with great simplicity and sincerity the views of the Creator, who had gone completely out of fashion in London in the previous decade and had not been heard of there since.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Afghanistan massacre: Lone nut theory?,8599,2108798,00.html

Afghans expressed doubt Monday that a single U.S. Army soldier could have shot and killed 16 civilians in houses over a mile (2 kilometers) apart and burned the bodies afterward.

"It is not possible for only one American soldier to come out of his base, kill a number of people far away, burn the bodies, go to another house and kill civilians there, then walk at least 2 kilometers and enter another house, kill civilians and burn them," said Ayubi.

Abdul Ghani, a local councilman in Panjwai district, said local villagers reported seeing two groups of soldiers.

"The villagers said they were hearing machine gun fire and pistol fire from different directions," said Ghani.

The statement quoted a 15-year-old survivor named Rafiullah, who was shot in the leg, as telling Karzai in a phone call that "soldiers" broke into his house, woke up his family and began shooting them.

The U.S. military has said there is no indication that more than one soldier carried out the attacks in two villages in Kandahar province before dawn Sunday.

No indication at all, apart from logic, logistics and eyewitness and survivor accounts.

Heavens, things must be bad in Afghanistan if the damage-control cover story - a mass murdering psycopath - is better than whatever the truth might be.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Guest Post: Legal Experts Destroy Rationale for Obama’s Assassination Policy … And Slam Democrats for Supporting It

Guest Post: Legal Experts Destroy Rationale for Obama’s Assassination Policy … And Slam Democrats for Supporting It:

Obama Expanding Program Started by Cheney

Attorney General Eric Holder announced at Northwestern University law school that the U.S. can assassinate U.S. citizens without any without disclosure of why they are even alleged to be baddies and without any review of any nature whatsoever by any judge, Congress or the American people.
Northwestern University’s law school professor Joseph Margulies said:

Monday, March 05, 2012

James Inhofe Takes the Climate Conspiracy Theory to New Heights, Even as Global Warming Bakes His Home State

James Inhofe Takes the Climate Conspiracy Theory to New Heights, Even as Global Warming Bakes His Home State:

by Chris Mooney, reposted from DeSmogBlog

James Inhofe, Republican Senator from Oklahoma, has a new book out. It is entitled The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future.

I have not read it yet. So I cannot say much about its contents, but I can say this: The title suggests that Inhofe, like Rick Santorum, is endorsing the global warming conspiracy theory. Indeed, where Santorum only muttered the word “hoax” without a great deal of elaboration, it looks like Inhofe is going to put some real meat onto those paranoid bones.

Let me once again reiterate why the global warming conspiracy theory is, well, just plain ridiculous.

To believe that global warming is a “hoax,” or that there is a “conspiracy,” you must believe in coordinated action on the part of scientists, environmental ministers, politicians, and NGOs around the world. It won’t do just to situate the hoax in the United States and its own scientific and NGO community, because the idea of human-caused global warming is endorsed by scientists, and scientific academies, around the globe.

Any one of these could blow the whistle on the so-called “hoax.” That this has not happened either means there is no hoax, or that the degree of conspiracy and collusion—among people who are notoriously individualistic and non-conformist, by the way—is mindboggling. We’re talking about some serious cat-herding going on.

Oh, and by the way: You also have to believe that the colluding hoaxers have nefarious objectives—basically, they want to kill capitalism and strangle economies. This is even less plausible.

In other words, there is no hoax, and to believe in one is to be a conspiracy theorist. Inhofe himself uses the word “conspiracy” in his subtitle, so I do not think it at all unfair to describe him in this way. Either he is actually right in  his claims—not likely—or else he’s conjuring a conspiracy where none exists. It’s that simple.

I point this out, incidentally, because I am continually amazed that our national discourse basically shrugs at conspiracy theories. That’s saddening evidence that we live in an “anything goes” political culture that has become unmoored from reality.

And how did this happen? Here’s a hint: Inhofe will debut his book on Fox’s Sean Hannity program tonight.

Let me end this post with a dose of reality. Inhofe, the climate conspiracy theorist, not only hails from but represents the state of Oklahoma. Here is what has been happening, climatologically, to Oklahoma lately, according to NOAA and other sources:

* The summer of 2011 was the hottest summer on record for the state. According to the Oklahoma Climatological Survey, “Oklahoma experienced the hottest summer of any state since records began in 1895 with a statewide average of 86.9 degrees.”

* July 2011 was the worst. Says the Oklahoma Climatological Survey: “July’s average temperature was 89.3 degrees, becoming the hottest month for any state on record, besting over 67,000 other months.”

* August also fried Oklahoma, and was the hottest August on record.

* This, of course, caused serious damage and monetary losses: “Agricultural damage alone from the drought and related heat has been estimated as high as $2 billion.”

From the perspective of Inhofe’s constituents—say, an Oklahoma farmer—the global warming conspiracy sounds like an intellectual dalliance that the state simply cannot afford.

– Chris Mooney is Washington correspondent for Seed magazine, senior correspondent for The American Prospect, and author of the bestselling book The Republican War on Science. This piece was originally published at DeSmogBlog. The top graphic is from Grist.

Related Posts:


Summer 2011 Record Statewide Temperatures

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Fossilpower exposed

Heartland documents leaked: The exposure of these documents confirm what climate realists/scientists have been saying for many years about the source of climate denial, and that the people pushing denier talking points are doing so for money. This money comes largely from the fossil fuel industry, which this further proves.

The “Climategate” emails, whose motivated misinterpretation and attendant media blitz was *successful* at creating additional climate denialism, and importantly, gave politicians political cover to avoid climate legislation/renewable energy support. It was a case study of the powers of modern PR and misinformation, and just how effectively a lie can be made to persuade and effect policy.

These Heartland docs *should* be a very effective weapon to shut down climate denier arguments, disbar the media credentials of paid climate deniers everywhere, and demonstrate the sophistication and dishonesty of the PR machine that climate scientists are up against. It truly is a test of whether or not scientists and honest/objective media brokers will ever be able to turn the tide in the climate messaging/media fight. This is a rare gift, and I hope to see the same strength and media brilliance employed in its dissemination as we all had to witness and endure during the “climategate” media blitz.

Hopefully this episode becomes branded with a catchy name, which can then be neatly invoked forevermore to call to mind the devious and fraudulent nature of climate denial. You know, sort of like all manner of conservatives attempt when mentioning “climategate”. Please do better than “Heartlandgate”, though.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Gina Reinhart - Media Baron?

Mining in a new vein by Clive Hamilton

The mineral and other resources of Australia belong to the people of Australia, not Gina Reinhart or other individuals or corporations. Reinhart is being grossly overpaid for the work she does in the mining industry. She should be fired and replaced with someone on a much more modest remuneration.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Michael Hudson: The Man Who Fired Greenspan

Michael Hudson: The Man Who Fired Greenspan:

This is the transcript of an interview with Michael Hudson in an Australian film, discussing a 1966 incident:

MH: They increased it largely by having Alan Greenspan create the Greenspan Commission to look at social security and pushing the myth that social security had to be funded out of pre savings, so American labour was essentially taxed 11% between itself and the employers to pay social security and this vast increase in social security taxes was used to lend to the Government(US) to provide it with enough money to slash taxes on the rich and that was Greenspan’s ploy.

He was rewarded by being made head of the Federal Reserve for his actual hatred of labour and his desire that you had to reduce living standards in order to increase the profits of capital.

And so Greenspan was sort of the hack that was hired.

When I was on Wall Street, Greenspan was hired as part of a study I was doing on the balance of payments of the Oil Industry. And one day my boss, John Deaver came into my office and said he really worried about Greenspan being a part of this report because he was known as a hack that always gave …his clients what they wanted instead of something actual.

So he (JD) gave me Greenspan’s figures on depreciation of oil producing refinery assets in Europe and asked me to find out where the faking is? He said he couldn’t believe that Greenspan by himself wouldn’t of just faked the figures and it took me about a week to figure out where the faking of the figures came out (from) and that was Greenspan had simply picked up depreciation rates relative to output for the United States and projected them onto Europe.

So I went over and talked to his assistant Lucille Woo and she said “it’s all implicit, all implicit” and I confronted her with it and she said “Yes that’s what we did”!

And so, Greenspan was indeed ‘talked off the study’ and we met… John Deaver, David Rockefeller and myself and I was told…Greenspan was such a little bastard that if they fired him, he’d hold a grudge against Chase Manhattan for years and they told me to be the guy to give him the news that we couldn’t use his (laughs) statistics on it and I was a 25 year old economist at the time and he hardly new me at all, so I was the guy that…subsequently became known as ‘the man who fired Alan Greenspan’.