Australia

Dats Shtraya, Mite.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 17/01/2019 - 8:48pm in


Acting PM Michael McCormack offers his scientific assessment of the Darling River disaster: Sometimes it rain, sometimes it dont. Dats Shtraya, mite.

The man blabbered the official party line and that’s it. End of story. No mismanagement, no water over-extraction, no climate change, no nothing. Everybody did their best. That’s nobody’s fault. It just didn’t work.


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Two days ago it was Phillip Glyde’s whingeing about unjust allegations of mismanagement. He is the top bureaucrat in the Murray-Darling Basin Authority and refuses any responsibility. The results were unsatisfactory, but that wasn’t the bureaucrats’ fault.

Yesterday is was Les Gordon’s turn to cry us a river: those guys had nothing to do with that. It wasn’t their fault, either. He is the chair of the Farmer’s Federation water task-force, he must know.

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So, this is the situation: the bureaucrats, suspects of mismanagement, aren’t responsible; the farmers, suspects of over-extracting water and polluting the river, aren’t responsible either. The politicians behind the Murray Darling Plan side with them. So, who’s responsible?

Goddamn you, God!

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The Greens’ Sarah Hanson-Young proposes a royal commission to get to the bottom of this. To that effect the Greens shall introduce -- next February -- a member’s bill setting the commission.

Royal commissions are ideal stages for revelations (whether dramatic or merely entertaining, I’ll leave readers to decide), as the recent Banking Royal Commission illustrated. They, however, are costly, take lots of time and their results often are underwhelming.

At any rate, the Greens’ proposal will need Labor’s support to pass. The immediate question is whether Labor, that supported the Murray Darling Plan with the National-Liberal Coalition, will support it.

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I have a better idea. It’s cheaper, simpler, more expeditious.

As we’ve seen everybody did their best. The photo is proof of that. Let’s be smart, then. Scrap the whole very expensive Murray Darling Basin Plan and defund the MDBA. There’s no reason to believe management can be improved (ask Glyde). Nor is improvement required: let everybody do whatever they like, because we know will be the right thing (ask Gordon).

The problem with the Murray Darling Basin is simple: sometimes it rains, sometimes it doesn’t (ask McCormack). The solution is prayer (ask Scott Morrison). We don’t need a bureaucracy to do that, we can do it by ourselves. There’s no reason to keep the managers.

Of course, there’s little point to prayer, because it’s all God’s fault anyway!

Let’s save ourselves the money and the trouble. Instead, let’s take that money and party.

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Yep, dats Shtraya, mite.

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Game over people. The planet is so fucked and us with it.

UPDATE:
Phillip Glyde wanted to know who came up with the idea that hundreds of thousands of fish, possibly up to a million, had been killed. He might be interested in the NSW Department of Primary Industries media release of January 7.

You are welcome.

Menindee Update.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 16/01/2019 - 6:40pm in

No comments:

Screen capture from ABC Broken Hill website taken at 1755 (AEDT)----------
Did the current crisis fall unexpectedly, out of the blue or were there reasons to believe things could get ugly?

This multimedia report by Anne Davies, Mike Bowers, Andy Ball, and Nick Evershed, published in April 2018, offers a look up close and personal around country Australia and suggests answers to those questions: Murray-Darling: when the river runs dry

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Yesterday Les Gordon, chair of the National Farmers’ Federation water taskforce (collective representative of farmers, including large cotton and rice farmers) published: Fish kill blame game unhelpful, amid perfect storm of problems.

Four independent experts (two scientists, a water economist and an expert in water policy reform) seem to disagree with the “perfect storm” view espoused by Niall Blair and Gordon:

'Drought, climate change and mismanagement': What experts think caused the death of a million Menindee fish
By Nick Kilvert. Posted about an hour ago.

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I believe something needs to be done. Australian readers may feel the same.

A possibility is to sign or join one of a few online petitions/campaigns around the subject of the Murray-Darling. I located these:

The Australian Conservation Foundation petitions PM Scott Morrison and federal opposition leader Bill Shorten an independent EPA to protect our rivers (link).

GetUp! Save the Murray Darling campaign (link)

Earthlings Studios promotes this downloadable letter to the Prime Minister of Australia (link). Make sure you read the note appended at the bottom.

Personally and for different reasons I do not endorse any of these initiatives. For example, is there any reason to believe an independent Australian EPA, similar to its American counterpart, would be immune to the failings manifested by State and Commonwealth bureaucracies? Readers, however, may think differently. Go there and judge by yourselves.

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Another possibility is to contact one’s representatives at State and Federal parliaments and demand immediate action. In case readers know for sure who those representatives are, just Google their names.

Readers unsure about their representatives may follow these tips:

For your representative at State Parliament (Legislative Assembly):
The NSW Electoral Commission search (link) should tell you the name of your representative; just enter your suburb or postcode and hit the “Search” button. Once you know his/her name, Google your representative’s name. Try any of the matches and chances are you will find at least an email address.

For your representative at Federal Parliament (House of Representatives):
The Australian Electoral Commission “Check my enrolment” search (link) should tell you your electorate.  Fill in the details required (name, postcode, suburb, street name and verification code) and hit the “Verify enrolment” button. Suppose your electorate is XYZ. With this information Google “who is the member for XYZ” (what’s inside the scare marks). As before, try any of the matches and chances are you will find at least an email address.

Suggestions and tips about different possibilities are welcome.

UPDATE:
Discuss this question with your friends. I myself have no Facebook or Twitter account and am unfamiliar with whatever possibilities they may offer. Readers more savvy, if they find it convenient, could use them to generate ideas or to exert some pressure on our masters.

Australia: Attempt to Form the Citizen’s Dividend Party

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 14/01/2019 - 10:42pm in

Tags 

Events, Australia

Picture Credit: Timothy Swinson Paul Ross is trying to found the Citizen’s Dividend Party (CDP) in Australia, and to take part  in the election of May 2019. The foundational pledge, as found on the website, is: “To render virtually Every Citizen Directly Better-Off and Australian Society absolutely Better-Off.” This would be accomplished through the introduction of a Universal Basic Income (UBI), the pillar of the of

The post Australia: Attempt to Form the Citizen’s Dividend Party appeared first on BIEN.

Rethinking Free Trade Agreements in Uncertain Times

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 14/01/2019 - 9:55pm in

Jomo Kwame Sundaram makes the case against the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free trade agreement that went into effect at the end of 2018, for six of its eleven member countries.

Menindee: an Act of God?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 14/01/2019 - 7:13pm in

Screen capture from ABC Broken Hill website, taken at 18:41 (AEDT)
Yesterday Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud met with the water “managers” of the affected states in the Murray-Darling Basin to decide what to do about this mess, report Carrie Fellner and David Wroe, from the Sydney Morning Herald.

Judging by Littleproud’s announcements, not much:

He said he’d offered NSW “any assistance it requires as it responds to these incidents, and to rebuild fish stocks when it rains” and announced $5 million for a native fish management and recovery strategy that would come from MDBA coffers.

$5 million.

Given the high temperature and luminosity prevailing in regional NSW, a new algal bloom is being forecast any time in the next few days. More mass fish death is predicted.

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Those guys met amidst the customary storm of claims and counterclaims following revelations that NSW State authorities had been warned as early as 2012 by the state’s own bureaucracy that the water-sharing rules in place were harming fish populations.

Niall Blair, NSW Minister, claims those warnings were heeded. In his version, it was “a perfect storm of events” that caused the Menindee fish kill.

Richard Kingsford, director of the Centre for Ecosystem Science at the University of NSW, disagrees.

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Related coverage:
Menindee bracing for another mass fish kill as temperatures soar in NSW
By Kevin Nguyen and Jamie McKinnell. Updated about 2 hours ago

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In this kind of post I try not to editorialise. This shall be an exception.

At one hand, I intellectually understand that, once the disaster happened, there’s probably little those guys can do now to fix it. They don’t want to use the word “powerless”. I can understand that. One must await for rain.

Yet, I am angry. That does not no entitle them to just seat on their hands. And that’s what they are doing.

In fact, I dread the possibility of rain, but that’s me. That toxic brew will be flowing downstream. What then? Are we sure we won’t see a repeat of what happened in Menindee all the way to the ocean?

Has anyone bothered to warn residents not to drink that water? I’m no doctor, but I wonder, shouldn’t these people stay the hell away from it? What about supplying them at least with clean water for their personal consumption?

Has anyone verified whether any multicellular animal life survives in those waters?

What about livestock and wildlife? There are informal, anecdotal reports of mass death of land outback life. How much truth they contain?

Couldn’t the mass deaths of galahs and other birds in South Australia last December be related to this?

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Maybe I am worrying myself sick for no reason. Perhaps those guys have thought the whole situation through and have everything under control. What do I know?

Still, I would rather have answers now, instead of waiting to see what happens.

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Australia is one of the world’s richest countries. There’s no lack of educated people here. Available to our government are resources that people in poorer countries can only imagine. Lots of money went into the Murray Darling Basin. And the only thing we get is Blair babbling brainlessly that insipid “perfect storm” commonplace?

It’s all an act of God. Blame Him, not Blair.

Imagine if (maybe when would be better) something like this happens in poorer, more populous, countries.

The Devil in the Details: Algal Blooms.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 13/01/2019 - 5:34am in

It is accepted that the recent mass fish kill in the Darling River was triggered by an “algal bloom”. But what on earth is an algal bloom?

Believe it or not, I think some basic, high-school level science could throw considerable light on the whole catastrophe, counter some misconceptions about it and offer valuable, if sobering, lessons for the Left.

Photomicrograph of cyanobacteria, Cylindrospermum sp.[A]
The first detail is that those “blue-green algae” -- more generally referred to as “algae”, period -- behind the bloom strictly speaking aren’t algae: BGA are unicellular, microscopic aquatic bacteria (cyanobacteria, to be precise). Although genuine algae can be unicellular, algae are plants, not bacteria.

BGA, however, do something very unlike other bacteria. They, like plants, photosynthesise:

6 CO + 6 H O --> C H  O  + 6 O
    2     2       6 12 6      2

BGA use energy in the environment (from sunlight, not shown in the equation; that’s the “photo-” prefix) to break down carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (H2O) into its constituent atoms and to “reassemble” them into glucose (C6H12O6) and oxygen (O2): i.e. synthesise those molecules. Some of the energy is stored within the glucose.

During the day, BGA release the oxygen into the environment and accumulate glucose, which they use at night (together with oxygen) for the energy it contains (reversing the equation above: cellular respiration):

C H  O  + 6 O  --> 6 CO  + 6 H O
 6 12 6      2         2      2

Any excess glucose goes into reproducing themselves.

So, like plants, cyanobacteria require water, carbon dioxide (dissolved in the water), light and warmth to survive. All of that, considering their tiny size, is often readily available in their environment.

That, however, is not their complete list of requirements. Like plants, they also need other nutrients, like phosphorus and nitrogen. That can be harder to find.

In their natural environment, nutrient availability constrains define the life-cycle of cyanobacteria: they reproduce to the extent those constrains allow, photosynthesise, net-release oxygen and accumulate glucose. Some die naturally, some are eaten by other organisms and some reproduce. The oxygen and glucose they produce sustain other life forms.

Important human sources of those more naturally scarce nutrients, however, can disturb that cycle: agricultural run-off (plant fertilisers!) and sewerage (human manure!). Farmers deliberately employ fertilisers to promote plant growth. Shouldn’t one expect fertilisers to promote BGA growth?

In a flowing course of water, water inflows can keep the concentration of carbon dioxide and phosphorus and nitrogen compounds low enough. Of course, eventually they will still reach the ocean, where they may trigger algal blooms. But the algal bloom in the inland course of water was averted.

Bacterial bloom south of Fiji on October 18, 2010.[B]
Now, there’s no prize to guess what could happen in hot, sunny days, if the water, because of drought, over-extraction or a combination, stopped flowing: BGA multiply explosively -- algal bloom. All the while, BGA remain bacteria, producing more bacteria-like effects: some of them release toxins.

Eventually, some of those conditions falter (say, temperature and/or luminosity falls) and a mass die-off ensues.

Other bacteria present in the environment feast on the glucose the BGA accumulated, reproducing beyond measure, consuming the oxygen the BGA released and releasing in turn the carbon dioxide BGA had consumed. They do what the second equation indicates.

After suffocating larger life forms unable to leave the area affected, these latter bacteria themselves die.

The end situation is similar to the initial one: concentrated carbon dioxide and phosphorus and nitrogen compounds. Is it conceivable this process could repeat itself? Well, yes. Yes, it is conceivable.

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The purpose of this post exceeds delivering a high-school level lecture on science. Neither do I aim to deny the tragic and ominous nature of the events, quite to the contrary. It’s not my intention to cast doubt on the sincerity of the feelings those directly affected expressed. I truly believe you all and I know your situation is really dire. To make things worse, we might not have seen the end of this.

I agree this episode demands great scrutiny of large cotton growers and their links to bureaucrats/politicians. It’s likely that the former exceeded their water entitlements thereby turning a bad situation into an environmental disaster. They, however, aren’t the only large water users or the only large contributors to algal blooms.

It’s likely, too, that bureaucracy and parties were captured by those big farmers; corruption isn’t out of the question. However, governmental ineptitude and simple, garden-variety impotence aren’t out of the question, either: the government may have failed to act when action could have prevented or minimised things; but that was then and this is now. And now they just can’t make it rain. To manage capitalism looks more and more like a fool’s errand.

My point is that the situation is more complex than it seems. To deny that does a disservice to us all.

The Darling catastrophe could be a smallish dress rehearsal for what is to come at much larger scale (I’m not kidding: put yourself in the shoes of the second bacteria.). Everybody, but particularly Lefties (I’m looking at you, MMTers), should pay attention.

Let me sum up my conclusion: excessive faith in governmental technocratic management and too much business for too little natural resources was the road to this chaos.

RELATED READING:

What Exactly Is a Red Tide?
By Danielle Hall, August 2018

Toxic Algal Blooms
Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development
Government of Western Australia, page last updated: Thursday, 4 January 2018 - 1:33pm

IMAGE CREDITS:
[A] "Photomicrograph of cyanobacteria, Cylindrospermum sp. Cyanobacteria are capable of nitrogen fixation, which takes place in the anaerobic environment of heterocysts". Author: Matthew Parker. 22 January 2013. Source: Wikimedia. File licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Nobody endorses me or the use I make of that file.

[B] "Bacterial bloom south of Fiji on October 18, 2010. Though it is impossible to identify the species from space, it is likely that the yellow-green filaments are miles-long colonies of Trichodesmium, a form of cyanobacteria often found in tropical waters".
Author: Norman Kuring, NASA Earth Observatory. Source: Wikimedia. Public domain.

UPDATE:
13-01-2019. Although this appeared yesterday, I've just read it. Check the underlined within the brief summary, at the bottom:

(source)

Australia Takes Two Week Break From Being Crap At Cricket To Enjoy Being Crap At Tennis

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 11/01/2019 - 8:05am in

bernard-tomic

Australia has tucked away the recent woeful form of its cricket team and is ready to kick back beside the telly for a couple of weeks of delighting in how dismal its tennis players are.

“The middle of January is a special time of year where the streets are free of traffic, whatever hayseed currently is in charge of the National Party is the Prime Minister and we get to be disappointed by Ashleigh Barty crashing out in the third round against a qualifier from Bhutan,” said Aussie sports fan Doug Lamington. “An added bonus this year is we can actually put a face to John Millman when we hear that he’s been beaten in round one on an outer court at Rod Laver Arena that’s closer to Wonthaggi than it is to the Melbourne CDB.”

“You could give me any Slavic first name and a random combination of consonants and tell me that’s the name of the current number one women’s player and I’d believe you,” said Bendigo sporting tragic Allyssa Beetroot. “Sam Stosur is in a bit of form so I hope she has enough points on her Rydge’s card to afford a hotel room in Melbourne for the second week otherwise she can doss down on my lounge room floor.”

Yellow and green zinc cream faced members of the “Fanatics” are drooling in anticipation at a rematch of this week’s game between Bernard Tomic and Nick Kyrgios, which ended in a draw after Kyrgios got a crick in his neck watching Tomic toss the ball up for the first serve of the game, an action that strained Tomic’s ball tossing wrist.

“If Geoff Marsh has any more sons I hope one of them picks up a tennis racket and makes an appearance on Margaret Court Arena getting pillocked in straight sets by Jack Sock,” said Geraldton holiday maker Sid Roofrack. “Maybe Dave Warner can give Alicia Molik a few tips on applying sandpaper to the rougher side of the tennis ball to make it swing a bit late in the second set.”

Peter Green
http://www.twitter.com/Greeny_Peter

You can follow The (un)Australian on twitter or like us on facebook

The Darling Dilemma.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 10/01/2019 - 8:08pm in

2018 annual rainfall compared to historical
rainfall observations. (source)
The Darling River is no longer flowing for lack of water and what little water there is for human and non-human consumption is contaminated with masses of rotting dead fish.

NSW independent MP Jeremy Buckingham’s personal account of the situation around Menindee:

NSW MP vomits after witnessing mass fish deaths in Darling River
By Rachel Clun. 10 January 2019 — 11:35am.

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Copious rains could flush the river. Although this would affect communities further downstream in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, it would certainly help locals and their situation seems dire. At any rate, however, that possibility seems unlikely.

BOM declares 2018 Australia's third-hottest year on record
By Kate Doyle. Updated about 10 hours ago

Today the Bureau of Meteorology released its Annual Climate Statement for 2018 (the map above comes from that release and is self-explaining: note the large red area, largely coincident with the Murray-Darling Basin). The ABC News’ Kate Doyle reports on statements Dr. Karl Braganza  — head of Climate Monitoring (BOM) — made on occasion of the release:

“Looking at what our drivers are in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, we’re not seeing conditions that are going to favour wetter or cooler conditions,” he said.

“So we will see an extension of the warmth and the dry — and the fire season obviously has a little while to go, particularly in southern parts of the continent and inland NSW.”

Rains — Doyle writes — could have to wait until March, “at least”.

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It’s widely believed that large cotton growers, north of the Broken Hill/Menindee area, have diverted and accumulated huge water reserves in excess of their allowances. That could be easily proved or disproved.

If those allegations were right, and depending on the volume of water effectively present, the river could be flushed.

Of course, even if the authorities decided to do that and verified the existence of those reserves, private property is sacrosanct and legally protected under capitalism.

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Menindee mass fish death fury escalates, NSW Police and Minister at odds
By Paige Cockburn. Updated about 2 hours ago

NSW minister Niall Blair, whose portfolio oversees rivers, agriculture and fisheries, had scheduled a public meeting with Menindee locals. He did not attend the meeting offering no explanation. Later Blair claimed to be acting under police advise over alleged death threats. The ABC News’ Paige Cockburn reports that NSW Police claims never to have advised Blair that.

John Quiggin on the Failure of Thatcher’s New Classical Economics

Very many Libertarians describe themselves as ‘classical liberals’, meaning they support the theories of the classical economists of the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This rejects state intervention and the welfare state in favour of free markets and privatization. This theory was the basis of Thatcher’s economic policy before the Falklands War, as well as those of other countries like Australia and New Zealand. In all of these countries where it was adopted it was a massive failure, like trickle-down economics and austerity.

Quiggin describes how Thatcher’s New Classical Economic policy was a failure, but she was saved from electoral defeat, partly by the Falkland War on page 113. He writes

The only requirement for the New Classical prescription to work was the credibility of the government’s commitment. Thatcher had credible commitment in bucketloads: indeed, even more than an ideological commitment to free-market ideas, credible commitment was the defining feature of her approach to politics. Aphorisms like “the lady’s not for turning” and “there is no alternative” (which produced the acronymic nickname TINA) were characteristics of Thatcher’s “conviction” politics. The slogan “No U-turns” could be regarded as independent of the particular direction in which she was driving. In a real sense, Thatcher’s ultimate political commitment was to commitment itself.

So, if New Classical economics was ever going to work it should have done so in Thatcher’s Britain. In fact, however, unemployment rose sharply, reaching 3 million and remained high for years, just as both Keynesians and monetarists expected. New Classical economics, having failed its first big policy test, dropped out of sight, reviving only in opposition to the stimulus proposals of the Obama administration.

However, Thatcher did not pay a political price for this policy failure, either at the time of (the Falklands war diverted attention from the economy) or, so far in retrospective assessments. The only alternative to the “short sharp Shock” was a long, grinding process of reducing inflation rates slowly through years of restrictive fiscal and monetary policy. While it can be argued that the resulting social and economic costs would have been significantly lower, political perceptions were very different. The mass unemployment of Thatcher’s early years was either blamed directly on her predecessors or seen as the necessary price of reversing chronic decline.

New Classical Economics was a colossal failure. In fact Thatcherism, whether implemented by the Tories or New Labour, has been a failure, though New Labour was better at managing the economy than the Tories. The only reason it has not been abandoned is because of the charisma surrounding Thatcher herself and the fact that it gives even more wealth and power to the upper classes and the business elite while keeping working people poor and unable to resist the exploitative demands of their employers. And its given a spurious credibility to ordinary people through its promotion by the media.

John Quiggin on the Absolute Failure of Austerity

One of the other massively failing right-wing economic policies the Australian economist John Quibbin tackles in his book Zombie Economics: How Dead Ideas Still Walk Among Us (Princeton: Princeton University Press 2010) is expansionary austerity. This is the full name for the theory of economic austerity foisted upon Europeans and Americans since the collapse of the banks in 2008. It’s also the term used to describe the policy generally of cutting government expenditure in order to reduce inflation. Quiggin shows how, whenever this policy was adopted by governments like the American, British, European and Japanese from the 1920s onwards, the result has always been recession, massive unemployment and poverty.

He notes that after the big bank bail-out of 2008, most economists returned to Keynesianism. However, the present system of austerity was introduced in Europe due to need to bail out the big European banks following the economic collapse of Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain, and the consequent fall in government tax revenue. Quiggin then goes on to comment on how austerity was then presented to the public as being ultimately beneficial to the public, despite its obvious social injustice, before going on to describe how it was implemented, and its failure. He writes

The injustice of making hospital workers, police, and old age pensioners pay for the crisis, while the bankers who caused it are receiving even bigger bonuses than before, is glaringly obvious. So, just as with trickle-down economics, it was necessary to claim that everyone would be better off in the long run.

It was here that the Zombie idea of expansionary austerity emerged from the grave. Alesina and Ardagna, citing their dubious work from the 1990s, argued that the path to recovery lay in reducing public spending. They attracted the support of central bankers, ratings agencies, and financial markets, all of whom wanted to disclaim responsibility for the crisis they had created and get back to a system where they ruled the roost and profited handsomely as a result.

The shift to austerity was politically convenient for market liberals. Despite the fact that it was their own policies of financial deregulation that had produced the crisis, they used the pretext of austerity to push these policies even further. The Conservative government of David Cameron in Britain has been particularly active in this respect. Cameron has advanced the idea of a “Big Society”, meaning that voluntary groups are expected to take over core functions of the social welfare system. The Big Society has been a failure and has been largely laughed off the stage, but it has not stopped the government from pursuing a radical market liberal agenda, symbolized by measures such as the imposition of minimum income requirements on people seeking immigrant visas for their spouses.

Although the term expansionary austerity has not been much used in the United States, the swing to austerity policies began even earlier than elsewhere. After introducing a substantial, but still inadequate fiscal stimulus early in 2009, the Obama administration withdrew from the economic policy debate, preferring to focus on health policy and wait for the economy to recover.

Meanwhile the Republican Party, and particularly the Tea Party faction that emerged in 2009, embraced the idea, though not the terminology, of expansionary austerity and in particular the claim that reducing government spending is the way to prosperity. In the absence of any effective pushback from the Obama administration, the Tea Party was successful in discrediting Keynesian economic ideas.

Following Republican victories in the 2010 congressional elections, the administration accepted the case for austerity and sought a “grand bargain” with the Republicans. It was only after the Republicans brought the government to the brink of default on its debt in mid-2011 that Obama returned to the economic debate with his proposed American Jobs Act. While rhetorically effective, Obama’s proposals were, predictably, rejected by the Republicans in Congress.

At the state and local government level, austerity policies were in force from the beginning of the crisis. Because they are subject to balanced-budged requirements, state and local governments were forced to respond to declining tax revenues with cuts in expenditure. Initially, they received some support from the stimulus package, but as this source of funding ran out, they were forced to make cuts across the board, including scaling back vital services such as police, schools, and social welfare.

The theory of expansionary austerity has faced the test of experience and has failed. Wherever austerity policies have been applied, recovery from the crisis has been halted. At the end of 2011, the unemployment rate was above 8 percent in the United States, the United Kingdom, and the eurozone. In Britain, where the switch from stimulus to austerity began with the election of the Conservative-Liberal Democratic coalition government in 2010, unemployment rose rapidly to its highest rate in seventeen years. In Europe, the risk of a new recession, or worse, remains severe at the time of writing.

Although the U.S. economy currently shows some superficial signs of recovery, the underlying reality is arguably even worse than it now is in Europe. Unemployment rates have fallen somewhat, but this mainly reflects the fact that millions of workers have given up the search for work altogether. The most important measure of labour market performance, the unemployment-population ration (that is, the proportion of the adult population who have jobs) fell sharply at the beginning of the cris and has never recovered. On the other hand, the forecast for Europe in the future looks even bleaker as the consequences of austerity begins to bite.

The reanimation of expansionary austerity represents zombie economics at its worst. Having failed utterly to deliver the promised benefits, the financial and political elite raised to power by market liberalism has pushed ahead with even greater intensity. In the wake of a crisis caused entirely by financial markets and the central banks and regulators that were supposed to control them, the burden of fixing the problem has been placed on ordinary workers, public services, the old, and the sick.

With their main theoretical claims, such as the Efficient Markets Hypothesis and Real Business Cycle in ruins, the advocates of market liberalism have fallen back on long-exploded claims, backed by shoddy research. Yet, in the absence of a coherent alternative, the policy program of expansionary austerity is being implemented, with disastrous results. (pp. 229-32, emphasis mine).

As for Alesina and Ardagna, the two economists responsible for contemporary expansionary austerity, Quiggin shows how their research was seriously flawed, giving some of their biggest factual mistakes and accuracies on pages 225 and 226.

Earlier in the chapter he discusses the reasons why Keynes was ignored in the decades before the Second World War. The British treasury was terrified that adoption of government intervention in some areas would lead to further interventions in others. He also quotes the Polish economist, Michal Kalecki, who stated that market liberals were afraid of Keynsianism because it allowed governments to ignore the financial sector and empowered working people. He writes

Underlying the Treasury’s opposition to fiscal stimulus, however, was a fear, entirely justified in terms of the consequences for market liberal ideology, that a successful interventionist macroeconomic policy would pave the way for intervening in other areas and for the end of the liberal economic order based on the gold standard, unregulated financial markets, and a minimal state.

As the great Polish economist Michal Kalecki observed in 1943, market liberal fear the success of stimulatory fiscal policy more than its failure. If governments can maintain full employment through appropriate macroeconomic policies, they no longer need to worry about “business confidence” and can undertake policies without regard to the fluctuations of the financial markets. Moreover, workers cannot be kept in line if they are confident they can always find a new job. As far as the advocates of austerity are concerned, chronic, or at least periodic, high unemployment is a necessary part of a liberal economic order.

The fears of the Treasury were to be realized in the decades after 1945, when the combination of full employment and Keynsian macro-economic management provided support for the expansion of the welfare state, right control of the financial sector, and extensive government intervention in the economy, which produced the most broadly distributed prosperity of any period in economic history. (p. 14).

So the welfare state is being dismantled, the health service privatized and a high unemployment and mass poverty created simply to maintain the importance and power of the financial sector and private industry, and create a cowed workforce for industry. As an economic theory, austerity is thoroughly discredited, but is maintained as it was not by a right-wing media and political establishment. Robin Ramsay, the editor of Lobster, said in one of his columns that when he studied economics in the 1970s, monetarism was so discredited that it was regarded as a joke by his lecturers. He then suggested that the reason it was supported and implemented by Thatcher and her successors was simply because it offered a pretext for their real aims: to attack state intervention and the welfare state. It looks like he was right.

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