mining

The Stepford Daughters of Brexit and Slavery and the Emergence of Capitalism

Yesterday for our amusement the awesome Kerry Anne Mendoza posted a video on twitter made by two very definitely overprivileged girls talking about the evils of socialism. The two young ladies were Alice and Beatrice Grant, the privately educated granddaughters of the late industrialist and former governor of the Bank of England, Sir Alistair Grant. With their cut-glass accents and glazed, robotic delivery of their lines, they seemed to fit the stereotype of the idiotic Sloane perfectly, right down to the ‘Okay, yah’, pronunciation. Mendoza commented ‘I don’t think this was meant to be a parody, but it’s the perfect roast of the “yah-yah” anti-left.’

Absolutely. In fact, what the girls were describing as socialism was really Communism, completely ignoring democratic socialism, or social democracy – the form of socialism that demands a mixed economy, with a strong welfare state and trade unions, progressive taxation and social mobility. It also ignored anti-authoritarian forms of socialism, like syndicalism, guild socialism or anarcho-Communism. They were also unaware that Marx himself had said that, regarding the interpretations of his views promoted by some of his followers, he wouldn’t be a Marxist.

But it would obviously be too much to expect such extremely rich, public school girls to know any of this. They clearly believed, and had been brought up to believe, the Andrew Roberts line about capitalism being the most wonderful thing every invented, a mechanism that has lifted millions around the world out of poverty. Etc. Except, as Trev, one of the great commenters on Mike’s and this blog, said

If “Capitalism works” why are there a million people using foodbanks in Britain today? Not working that well is it? Why did the Government bail out the Banks using our money? Why did the Banking system collapse in the first place, was it because of Socialism? I don’t find these idiotic spoilt brats in the least bit funny, I feel bloody angry. When was the last time they ate food they found in the street? Bring back the Guillotine!

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2019/08/14/these-young-ladies-of-brexit-need-to-be-seen-to-be-believed/

The two girls were passionate supporters of the Fuhrage and his wretched party, and were really looking forward to a no-deal Brexit. It shows how out of touch these girls are, as Brexit is already wrecking the British economy, and a no-deal Brexit and subsequent deal with a predatory America would just wipe it out completely. Along with everything that has made post-war Britain great – the NHS and welfare state. But these girls obviously have no connection with working people or, I guess, the many businesses that actually depend on manufacturing and exports. I think the girls’ family is part of financial sector, who stand to make big profits from Brexit, or at least are insulated from its effects because they can move their capital around the globe.

The girls’ views on the EU was similarly moronic. They really do seem to believe that the EU is somehow an oppressive, communistic superstate like the USSR. It wasn’t. And the reason anti-EU socialists, like the late, great Tony Benn distrusted it was partly because in their view it stood for capital and free trade against the interests of the nation state and its working people.

And they also have weird views on slavery and the EU’s attitude to the world’s indigenous peoples. To the comment by David Lammy, the Black Labour politico, who dared to correct Anne Widdecombe for comparing Brexit to the great slave revolts, they tweeted

“Lammy being pathetic as usual. The chains of slavery can be intangible, as amply shown in China, the Soviet Union and the EU; to deny that just shows your ignorance and petty hatred for the truth”.

To which Zelo Street commented that there two things there. First of all, it’s best not to tell a Black man he doesn’t understand slavery. And second, the EU isn’t the USSR.

They were also against the Mercosur deal the EU wishes to sign with the South American nations, because these would lead to environmental destruction and the dispossession and exploitation of the indigenous peoples.

“As usual the GREED and selfishness of the EU imposes itself using their trade ‘deals’ in the name of cooperation and fake prosperity. The indigenous tribes of the Amazon need our protection not deforestation”.

To which Zelo Street responded with incredulity about how they could claim environmental concern for a party headed by Nigel Farage.

And they went on. And on, going on about how the EU was a threat to civil liberties. And there was more than a touch of racism in their statement that Sadiq Khan should be more concerned to make all Londoners feel safe, not just EU migrants. They also ranted about how Labour had sold out the working class over Brexit in favour of the ‘immoral, money hungry London elite’. Which shows that these ladies have absolutely no sense of irony or any self-awareness whatsoever.

In fact, Zelo Street found them so moronic and robotic, that it dubbed them the Brexit party’s Stepford Daughters, referring to the 70s SF film, the Stepford Wives. Based on the novel by Ira Levin, the films about a community where the men have killed their wives and replaced them with robots.

See:  https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2019/08/brexit-party-presents-stepford-daughters.html

There’s a lot to take apart with their tweets. And perhaps we shouldn’t be two hard on the girls. They’re only 15 and 17. A lot of young people at that age have stupid views, which they grow out of. But there is one issue that really needs to be challenged.

It’s their assumptions about slavery and the genocide of indigenous peoples. Because this is one massive problem to any assumption that capitalism is automatically good and beneficial.

There’s a very large amount of scholarship, much of it by Black activists and researchers, about slavery and the emergence of European capitalism and the conquest of the Americas. They have argued that European capitalism was greatly assisted by the profits from New World slavery. Caribbean historians like Dr Richard Hart, in his Blacks in Bondage, have shown that transatlantic slavery was a capitalist industry. For the enslaved indigenous peoples and the African men and women, who replaced them when they died out, capitalism certainly did not raise them out of poverty. Rather it has done the opposite – it enslaved them, and kept them in chains until they were able to overthrow it successfully with assistance of European and American abolitionists in the 19th century.

And among some left-wing West Indians, there’s still bitterness towards America for its constant interference in the Caribbean and Central and South America. America did overthrow liberal and progressive regimes across the world, and especially in the New World, when these dared to challenge the domination of American corporations. The overthrow of Jacobo Arbenz’s democratic socialist regime in Guatemala is a case in point. Arbenz was overthrown because he dared to nationalise the banana plantations. Which upset the American United Fruit Company, who got their government to overthrow him in coup. He was replaced by a brutal Fascistic dictatorship that kept the plantation workers as virtual slaves. And the Americans also interfered in Jamaican politics. They were absolutely opposed to the Jamaican Labour party politician, Michael Manley, becoming his nation’s Prime Minister, and so did everything they could to stop him. Including cutting trade.

And then there’s the enslavement and genocide of the indigenous peoples.

Before Columbus landed in the New World, South America had a population of about seven million. There were one million people in the Caribbean. I think there were similar numbers in North America. But the indigenous peoples were enslaved and worked to death. They were also decimated through diseases carried by Europeans, to which they had no immunity. The Taino people were driven to extinction. The Caribs, from whom the region takes its name, were able to survive on a reservation granted to them in the 18th century by the British after centuries of determined resistance. The conquest of the New World was a real horror story.

And Britain also profited from the enslavement of indigenous peoples. I doubt the girls have heard of it, but one of the scandals that rocked British imperialism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was that of the Putomayo Indians of South America. They had been enslaved by British rubber corporations. It was this abuse of a subject people that turned the Irish patriot, Roger Casement, from a British civil servant to an ardent Nationalist.

On the other side of the world, in the Pacific, British imperialism also managed to dispossess an entire Polynesian people and trash their island. This was in the 1920s. The island was rich in mineral deposits, and so moved the indigenous people out, ultimately relocating them to Fiji. Their island was then strip-mined, leaving it a barren, uninhabitable rock. In the 1980s the survivors were trying to sue the government over their maltreatment, but with no success.

This is what unfettered British imperialism and capitalism did. And what I’ve no doubt Farage and other far right British politicians would like to do again without the restraints of international law. It’s why I believe that, whatever the demerits of the Mercosur agreement are, it’s probably better than what individual nations would do without the restraint of the EU.

The girls are right to be concerned about the fate of indigenous peoples. But they are profoundly wrong in their absolute, uninformed belief that unregulated capitalism will benefit them.

It doesn’t. It enslaves, dehumanises and dispossesses. Which is why we need international organisations like the EU, and why the Brexit party isn’t just a danger to Britain, but to the world’s weaker, developing nations and their indigenous peoples.

Nigel Farage Reveals Contempt for Royal Family to Ozzie Tories

Yesterday, the Groaniad reported that Nigel Farage had made some unpleasant, and quite possibly impolitic, comments about the royal family atthe Conservative Political Action Conference in Sydney. The Brexit party’s fuhrer spared the Queen his sneers, but went on to attack Prince Harry and Megan Markle for their ‘irrelevant’ social justice and environmental concerns, called the late Queen Mother a ‘slightly overweight gin drinker’. He then went on to say that he hoped the Queen would continue to live a long time to stop ‘Charlie boy’, as he called Prince Charles, becoming king, and that William would live forever to stop Harry ascending the throne. He also bewailed how Megan Markle changed Harry’s laddish behaviour. According to today’s I, page 9, the Fuhrage said

Terrifying! Here was Harry, here he was this young, brave, boisterous, all male, getting into trouble, turning up at stag parties inappropriately dressed, drinking too much and causing all kinds of mayhem. And now he’s met Megan Markle and it’s fallen off a cliff.

The I explained that when Fuhrage referred to him as being ‘inappropriately dressed’ at stag parties, he meant the time when Harry turned up at one dressed in Nazi uniform. According to the I, a spokesman for the man ‘Judge Dredd’ satirised as ‘Bilious Barrage’ claimed that the Groaniad had taken his comments out of context. But as Mike says in his article about this, it’s irrelevant whether Farage meant what he said or not. He was telling his right-wing audience what they wanted to hear: that he was their friend.

He was raising money from rich foreigners again.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2019/08/12/what-he-thinks-they-want-to-hear-farage-attacks-royals-in-speech-to-far-right-aussies/

Now I’m aware that some of the readers of this blog may well be republicans, who believe that the monarchy is a vestige of feudal privilege and that we would be better off with a proper democratic constitution and an elected presidency. I’m also aware that what Farage said at the conference would be unremarkable if it came from a member of the public or a journalist. A few years ago, before his career imploded due to plagiarism, Johan Hari wrote a very long article in either the Independent or Guardian attacking the royal family. A tranche of government material had been declassified and released to the national archives. These revealed that ministers and senior civil servants had been worried about Prince Charles writing letters to newspapers and various official bodies trying to influence government policy. He was, for example, very keen to stop the closure of the grammar schools. The officials found his interference a headache because the monarchy is supposed to be above politics. They are definitely not supposed to try to influence government policy.

The Tory press, including and especially the Heil, despise Charles. I can remember the Rothermere’s mighty organ claiming that that the Tories were discussing ways to ensure that the Crown passed directly from the Queen to William, completely bypassing Charles. The reason they cited for this was that Charles was too close to Laurens van der Post, the author of Testament to the Bushmen. Under van der Post’s influence, the Heil claimed, the future heir to the throne had become too New Age in his spiritual beliefs. He had indicated that he wanted to be known as ‘Defender of Faith’ when he ascended the throne, an inclusive title to cover all religions, rather than ‘Defender of the Faith’, meaning exclusively Christianity. As he would be the head of the Church of England, this would create a constitutional crisis. I wonder if the real reason was that Charles appeared a bit too left-wing, especially in his concern for the unemployed. And Charles’ office also spoke out against the decision by John Major’s government to close down Britain’s mining industry.

Hari was also scathing about the Queen Mother. He claimed that she was certainly no democrat, complaining that it was ‘so unnatural’ when she was a young woman. Ministers were also upset at the government apparently having to spend £1 million a year keeping an office open for her so she could get the results at Ascot. Private Eye has also described her as ‘greedy’ and criticised Charles for hypocrisy over his views on architecture. Charles caused outrage a little while ago by describing modern buildings as ‘monstrous carbuncles’. But the Prince himself was also employing the same type of architects to design similar buildings. They also attacked him for the colossal overpricing of his organic honey.

Now we live in a democracy, where you are allowed to criticise the government and the monarchy. One where people do, often. But what makes Farage’s comments unwise is that they come from a ruthlessly ambitious politician. Attacks on the royal family are bound to be controversial because they still have a central role in the country’s constitution. The Queen is the head of state, and the royal family act as this country’s ambassadors. They also have a politically unifying role. Some people may find it easier to respect a head of state like the Queen, who is above party politics. To many people the royal family also embody British history and tradition, and they are still regarded with respect by millions of British and commonwealth citizens. I dare say this is particularly true of Conservatives. I’ve a Conservative friend, who hates the Scum because, in his view, it has done nothing but run down the royal family. And looking at the wretched rag, I can’t say he’s wrong either. Nor is it alone – all of the papers run stories trying to create some controversy about the royal family. The latest of these are about Markle, and how she is apparently throwing her weight around and causing some kind of feud with the rest of the royals.

Farage’s piece of lese majeste Down Under is controversial and offensive because it comes from a politician, who clearly hopes one day to serve in government. If he did, it would surely create tensions between him and the Crown. It’s also impolitic, as even though the culture of deference is supposed to have gone, the constitutional importance of the monarchy means that any criticisms politicians have of the royal family or differences of opinion between them should be settled discreetly. Farage has shown himself to be incapable of maintaining a tactful silence on the matter.

Of course, what Farage really hates about Harry and Megan, along with Conservative rags like the Spectator, is that Harry has dared to be environmentally concerned, like his father. He’s also fallen behind Markle’s feminism, so obviously they despise him for that. And there’s also a nasty tone of racism there was well. They certainly wouldn’t have objected if he’d married a White American. But instead he married a woman of colour. Farage’s apparent view that Harry dressing up as a Nazi officer was just natural masculine hi-jinks shows just how seriously he takes the issue and the offence it caused. I’ve no problem with comedies spoofing the Nazis, like Mel Brooks’ The Producers or the BBC’s ‘Allo, ‘Allo. But the Nazis themselves were far from a joke, and people are quite right to be angry at those who think dressing up as them is a jolly jape. But Farage and his audience obviously don’t. Quite possibly the Conservatives he addressed are still pining for a White Australia policy. But in their environmentalism and their social concerns, Harry and Megan, as Mike says, are just showing themselves to be a modern couple. The monarchy also has to move with the times, whatever reactionaries like Farage like to think.

Farage’s comments aren’t just disrespectful to the royal family, they also show how he places his own political ambitions above them as an institution as well as showing his contempt for the genuinely liberal attitudes Harry and Megan have espoused. I hope they lose him votes with that part of the Conservative-voting public, who still revere the her Maj and the other royals above the sneers of press and media. 

 

Boris Booed in Wales and Scotland – But Is Anyone Surpised

Boris and his fan club prepare to meet the rest of the UK

On Monday, Boris Johnson, the unelected Prime Minister of the UK, decided to grace Scotland with his presence. And, not surprisingly, he was roundly booed by the guid people north of the border. And then yesterday he turned up in Wales, and got the same treatment.

It was pretty well inevitable that he was going to get a rough ride in Scotland. A few days ago the I published a map showing the Blond Brute’s popularity in different parts of the UK. From what I can remember, it was highest down in south or south east England, where he had a whopping 29 per cent. In the English midlands or north, this fell to 22 per cent. But in Scotland only 16 per cent liked him. That high, huh? I wonder about the accuracy of these polling figures, considering how some of the polling companies are linked to the Tories, and some have been caught using leading questions. Nearly all of them, with the exception of Survation, have severely underestimated Labour’s true popularity. Which makes you wonder if these figures for Johnson have been inflated to make him appear more popular than he really is. And if they have, then how minuscule is his popularity really up in Scotland?

Some of this unpopularity goes right back to Maggie. Realising that the Tories were never going to be popular in Scotland, Thatcher decided she had nothing to lose by alienating them, and so started to use them as her laboratory. She used the country to test legislation before inflicting it on the rest of the UK. As a result, Tory fortunes fell further, with Malcolm Rifkind, one of her cabinet ministers, telling her that she had killed the Conservative party there.

And some of it is Boris’ own fault. This is the man, who thought it would be jolly japes to publish a poem in the Speccie about rounding the Scots up in ghettos and exterminating them. Among his other offences against the working people of the UK as a whole. Much of the movement for independence in Scotland has been provoked, one way or another, by the Tories and their determination to force through policies that will only benefit the London-based financial sector. Now that he’s been appointed PM by the Tory party, he has decided on going on a goodwill visit to the rest of the UK in order to show his commitment to the union. This is despite the unpopularity of the Brexit he’s so determined to force through in the rest of the UK, to the extent that it’s a positive danger to it. But presumably he felt he’d be safe up there as Rab C. Nesbitt is no longer on television. How wrong he was!

And the Old Etonian morlock got a similar reception when he rocked up in Wales. He was booed there. Again, not surprising. The farmers at this year’s Royal Welsh Show in Builth Wales were worried about the impact Brexit would have on the Welsh beef and lamb export industry. If Britain leaves without a deal, those meats will face a 40 per cent tariff in Europe. This will make them uncompetitive. Minette Batters, of the National Farmers’ Union, has said that as a result of this, there would be a massive surplus of British beef and lamb, and called for the government to look at forcing hospitals, schools and other public bodies to buy them.

According to the Times, Gove, who looks to me like a slightly melted Thunderbird puppet, has done just that, and is just finalising legislation to commit the government to buy up lamb and beef at a predetermined price, as well as some crops. This would cost the government about half a billion a year. Zelo Street in his article on this issue has wondered if Gove and the Tories also intend to buy up and subsidise British sugar beet and the dairy farmers, who have now diversified into specialist cheeses. And what about the British car industry, where investment has practically stopped because of uncertainty over Brexit. According to the Groan, the car industry here was investing between £2.5 and £2.7 billion. Zelo Street commented

Half a billion here, a few more billion there, soon it starts to add up – soon it will overhaul the UK’s current annual contribution to the EU budget.

and  concluded

There is no better deal than the one we have with the EU. The proposed antics of Mr Gove The Butcher underscore this. So when are the grownups going to stop this idiocy?

See: https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2019/07/mr-gove-butcher-wastes-half-billion.html

This is a good question, as whatever he is, Boris Johnson ain’t a grown-up. Rather, he’s like his American counterpart, Donald Trump, a massively egomaniac manbaby.

On his state visit to Wales, Boris called in on that nation’s First Minister, Mark Drakeford, a Labour politician. And he wasn’t impressed. He tried to impress on BoJob how utterly disastrous a no-deal Brexit would be for Welsh agriculture and manufacturing. Boris gave the usual assurance about the government offering help and support, but when asked about the nature of that support couldn’t give any details. Boris simply told Drakeford again that there would be wonderful opportunities for Welsh agriculture and business. And Drakeford felt that once again there was no detailed thinking behind what otherwise becomes vacuous optimism.

Quite. But this is just par for the course. Brexit has been marketed and sold to the British, and here this means largely the English people, through egregious lies and vacuous optimism. Like the big lie Boris was peddling on the sides of buses telling everyone that the £350 million we’d save from giving to the EU – which was itself another deliberate lie – would be spent on the NHS. No, it won’t. And when it became apparent that it wasn’t, Boris blustered that he hadn’t been lying, just using the NHS as an example of what the money could be spent on instead. And then, when he thought he’d got away with it, he repeated the lie all over again. Everything Boris says is just propaganda and optimistic lies.

And just like Tweezer, he’s another one who’s terrified of public appearances that he can’t absolutely control. The assembled Beeb and ITV reporters were invited to ask questions, but they couldn’t film them. We’re back to Tweezer and her  meetings with members of the public, but only after they’d been very carefully selected first. As Mike pointed out, rigid control of the press and media is one of the classic features of Fascism.

BoJob booed again as the new PM fails in Wales

But going back to Gove’s decision to buy up all the unsold beef and lamb we’re not going to sell to Europe, it’s a good question how long this will go on. Thatcher didn’t believe in the government supporting failing industries, and so let large parts of British manufacturing as well as the iron and steel industries go under. Are the Tories going to do what they normally do, and which Boris appears to be doing now – promise government support but not actually honour those promises when the time comes? And if they do, what cuts are they going to inflict on other areas of public spending, like the welfare state and the NHS, in order to balance the budget?

Boris and his entire party are inveterate liars and the Brexit he’s pushing will be catastrophic, not just for Scotland and Wales but for the UK as a whole. And the Lib Dems are no better. It’s time both of them were gone, and a proper Labour government under Jeremy Corbyn was elected instead.

 

Riding the boom and bust

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 10/07/2019 - 10:59am in

Tags 

mining, tourism

This week, Keenan and Glenn are heading north to attend the Developing Northern Australia conference in Karratha, where they’ll be speaking with local policymakers, economic development professionals and a cross-section of industry representatives from Northern Australia about the economic and demographic challenges (and opportunities) in the region. In this piece, Keenan shares the recent history of boom-and-bust in the North.

See more from Keenan, including recent presentations such as ‘Understanding economic change across Queensland’ on his Meet the team page.

I recently had the chance to explore the changing economic conditions facing the top end of Australia, or more specifically the City of Darwin (LGA).

It is one of those strange places in Australia – on the surface, it appears very isolated but is actually right next door to hundreds of millions of people in Indonesia, East Timor and PNG. In fact, it is much closer to Jakarta than Canberra.

The city and it’s economy have both experienced substantial shocks over the last hundred years from both natural (Cyclone Tracy) and man-made (WWII) forces. The City of Darwin today is home to almost 85,000 residents with another 65,000 in the Greater Darwin area. Its economy is built around industries servicing this resident base (health, education) public sector employment (bureaucrats and Defence workers), tourism (the city serves as the gateway to the Northern territories many national parks) and a base for workers connected to onshore and offshore mining projects.

The boom

Levels of economic, job and population growth in Darwin fluctuate considerably with the trajectory of major resource projects. Case in point is the recent Ichthys Gas Project developed by Inpex, which is one of the largest LNG projects in the world and consists of three major facilities:

  • An offshore central processing facility in the Browse Basin, located 200 kilometres off the northern coast of Western Australia.
  • an 889 km subsea pipeline, and
  • an onshore liquefaction plant located at Bladin Point, near Darwin.

When the project was first announced it was apparently hailed by the Government as a ‘gamechanger’, underpinning the economy for decades to come. The construction phase certainly had a large impact with development commencing in 2012 and at its peak in 2016 the project employed almost 8,000 people. It is estimated that a quarter of all positions on the project in 2016 were filled by City of Darwin residents, 34% by other areas in the NT and a substantial 41% from interstate/overseas (2016 census data). Boosting the impact on the City of Darwin was the fact 5-10% of workers (interstate residents) chose to reside in the City while working at Bladin Point.

The bust

There is no doubt that this project brought a substantial windfall to local Darwin businesses during the period of construction. However, the transition from construction to operation has highlighted the weaknesses in relying on such temporal economic boosts. Job requirements at Bladin Point have decreased substantially and it is estimated that only a few hundred jobs are required now to maintain operations.The transition has also seen a decrease in local business numbers as supply chain impacts roll out. Since 2016, the City has seen a decline of almost 180 businesses in the Construction Sector. Demand for commercial space in the city is also low. In January 2019, Darwin had the highest office vacancy rate out of all Australian cities.

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As the work dried up, FIFO workers began exiting Darwin. The City added almost 7,000 people between June 2011 and June 2016. In the most recent year to June 2018, it lost over 1,300. This exodus has impacted other flow on service industries. In the two years since mid-2016, jobs change in mining and construction has been negative and jobs growth in retail, hospitality and recreation areas has been more than halved. The unemployment rate in Darwin increased in the two years to the end of 2018, at the same time it was falling in the rest of the country.

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The changing population growth levels have influenced housing affordability over this period considerably. After a large boom where the median price increased by $100k in two years, prices are now actually below 2011 levels. Rents have followed the same trajectory.

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Impacts on tourism

One of the interesting impacts of the project boom was its influence on visitation to the NT. Domestic visitation to Darwin increased to 2016 but has been falling since. International visitation has been declining the whole time, except nights stayed has risen. This appears to be because of the change in visitor type. Between 2013 and 2016 the estimated nights for international visitors travelling for employment reasons (connected to skilled migration visas) doubled. More and more visitors were coming to work rather than play.

Anecdotal evidence from NT suggests workers from the project were taking up hotel rooms and flights that would normally be open for tourists. The project’s demand led to higher costs that made Darwin much less attractive than other destinations. The workers have left, but the market hasn’t yet returned.

What now?

The City of Darwin and NT Government are well aware of the challenges facing the region. Last year they announced a $103m tourism stimulus package and they are still progressing the $200 million Darwin City Deal with the Australian Government. Other projects such as major upgrades at the City’s defence bases continue to reinforce existing specialisations. The City Deal holds the most promise in moving Darwin towards a position of sustainable economic development. It is a 10-year plan for the Darwin City Centre which involves a number of economic and social projects that include an expanded city campus for Charles Darwin University, a new art gallery and CSIRO ‘urban living lab’.

Lessons

While there is no question that regions in close proximity to natural resources will continue to try and attract and enable the development of major projects in this area, they should not be considered as some panacea for the whole economy. Booms and busts should be planned for to ensure they don’t crowd out other activities and to ensure the ‘hype’ of big developments don’t create the illusion that the good times will never end.

As local economies in other states such as WA and QLD are now aware, the boom period should be used to address long-standing problems and a strong pipeline of investment in other sectors is required to smooth transition of businesses and jobs post-construction.

Now, if only Australia had the appetite for some decent resource tax policies like other countries, we might be getting somewhere..

Queensland Announces New Tourist Attraction Grand Canyon 2.0

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 14/06/2019 - 8:15am in

coal-mines

The Queensland Government has this week announced that they will be launching a new tourist attraction the Grand Canyon 2.0 which will be located in the Galilee basin.

“What an exciting time to be a Queenslander,” said Premier Anastacia Palaszcuk. “All this doom and gloom over the reef dying off, well no need to worry anymore as we have the Grand Canyon 2.0 coming to replace it.”

“Who wants to see turtles, coral and Nemo’s when you can see coal being taken from the earth. Also the whole mine is automated, how’s that kiddies trucks that drive themselves.”

When asked why they are pushing the Adani mine site as a tourist attraction the Queensland Premier replied: “Well we have to do something to create jobs. I mean with a fully automated mine there won’t be any jobs there. So if we can kick the tourist industry into gear then everything will be bonza.”

“Now if you’ll excuse I’m off to set up the souvenir stand, can I interest you in some coral, it’s been freshly bleached.”

Mark Williamson

www.twitter.com/MWChatShow

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

Government To Issue Every Australian School Student With A Commemorative Lump Of Coal

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 13/06/2019 - 8:14am in

morrison 730

The Australian Government has announced plans to issue all Australian School students with a commemorative lump of coal to celebrate the Morrison Government’s re-election.

“We are so blessed in this country to have resources a plenty so why not give them out to our kiddies as a reminder that this is their future,” said Prime Minister Scott Morrison. “We did kick around in Cabinet what we could do for the next generation. Someone suggested levying a tax on them but we felt a lump of coal around their necks was just as good.”

When asked what the students could do with their lumps of coal the Prime Minister reverted back to his advertising days with a passionate and elaborate spiel, saying: “What can they do? What can they do? They can burn it, sell it, throw it a cultural Marxist teacher who tries to pollute their heads with tales of renewables or you know they can bury it for a rainy day.”

“How good is coal?”

Students will be issued their commemorative lumps of coal in the coming weeks. They will also be reminded that the coal is on loan to them on behalf of it’s traditional owners. Adani.

Mark Williamson

www.twitter.com/MWChatShow

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Tommy Robinson Exploiting the Misery of the White Working Class

Last Monday, 13th May 2019, the great man at the Zelo Street blog put up an article explaining how Tommy Robinson was avoiding the more prosperous areas of northwest England to concentrate instead on the poorest, and those areas with the highest levels of depression. The virulent anti-Islam campaigner, late of the EDL, Pegida UK and the BNP, was avoiding towns like Crewe, Chester, Southport, Lancaster, Northwich, Winsford, Runcorn, St Helens, Ellesmere Port, Chorley, Wilmslow, Ashton-under-Lyne, and places like them. Instead, he was concentrating on towns like Brinnington, Birkenhead, Blackpool, Rochdale, Burnley, and Barrow-in-Furness.

Brinnington has the highest levels of clinical depression in the north and midlands. According to the Groaniad, it accounted for 23.6 per cent of all cases seen by GPs in the town. Four other areas with the highest levels of depression are in or near Birkenhead – Bidston Hill, Tranmere, Woodchurch and Birkenhead Central. Another two are in Fleetwood, near Blackpool. Robinson is due to visit that fair town, as well as Carlisle, which has another area with a very high incidence of depression. Three more areas are Rochdale, whose Heywood area Robinson was due to visit on Saturday. Robinson cancelled a visit to Blackburn, but turned up in Burnley, which has two of England’s most deprived towns near it. He also planned on visiting Barrow-in-Furness, which has an acute heroin problem.

Zelo Street concluded

And by pure coincidence, Stephen Lennon is favouring the area with a visit this week. All the while, The Great Man is waving his begging bowl, telling those amongst whom he comes that he needs their help. That they live on the margins of society, and he lives in the lap of luxury, does not seem to occur to those willing to cheer him on.

Living high on the hog while preying on misery. Welcome to the Tommy Tour.

See: https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2019/05/tommy-robinson-campaign-trades-on-misery.html

It’s not just that Robinson is exploiting the poverty and poor mental health afflicting the people of those towns, he’s also trying use their misery to distract them from the real economic and political causes of their problems. These areas have suffered from the decline of traditional industries, resulting in high unemployment rates. Which would also account for the massive rise in depression due to the lack of self-esteem, hopelessness and sheer despair. These are areas that have not been helped by the neoliberalism embraced and enthusiastically promoted by the Tories, the Lib Dems and Blairite Labour. Thatcher made it very clear that she did not believe in providing any help to failing industries or direct state interference in the economy. Failing companies were to be allowed to fail, on the grounds that state aid was inefficient and would prevent the operation of the market forces that would see new industries take off to provide work and prosperity.

This hasn’t happened. These areas are still poor and depressed. And it was situation made worse in the 1990s when the Tories decided to destroy whatever remained of the British mining industry. This was touted, again, as saving the country from supporting a failing and uneconomic industry, but the real reason was to destroy the NUM, which had overthrown Heath’s government in the 1970s.

But Conservative ideology prevents any discussion of the failings of private industry or the precious market forces, which the supporters of the free market are constantly telling us must be obeyed at all costs, and will ultimately bring back jobs and wealth. And so scapegoats must be found to explain why the free market isn’t working as it should, or to direct popular anger away the businessmen, think tanks and politicians pushing these policies. And so Fascists like Robinson accuse racial or religious minorities or outside groups of causing these problems. The Nazis made Jews synonymous with capitalism, and so claimed they had created a socialist Germany when they persecuted and murdered them. Capitalism, however, was retained and encouraged, although private industry was subject to a complex system of state planning. George Orwell described it as ‘the socialism of fools’. And right-wing populist politicians across the world, from Trump in America to the EDL, UKIP and the Brexit party in Britain are doing it today. Aided by mainstream Conservatives.

The right-wing press, and particularly the Heil and Speccie, have been telling their working class readers that their poor and underprivileged, not because of Tory policies that have decimated manufacturing industry and are destroying the NHS and welfare state for the profit of big business. No, it’s because high-spending Labour authorities and liberal ‘political correctness’ are deliberately diverting funding to undeserving groups, like Blacks, other ethnic minorities, gays and in the case of Tommy Robinson and his supporters, Scary Muslims.

The right have been doing this since Bacon’s Rebellion in 17th century. This was a revolt in Virginia where the slaves were joined by White indentured servants. The rebellion was put down, but to ensure that Blacks and poor Whites never united again to challenge the social hierarchy, laws were passed that separated Blacks from Whites, and gave Whites a higher social status. But crucially, these laws did not improve conditions for the indentured White servants. Materially, they gained nothing from these laws. Nevertheless, they had the psychological effect intended. From then on, White indentured servants didn’t make common cause with the slaves against their exploitation, or at least, not so much, because Blacks were now their social inferiors.

And it’s the same here. Robinson fully supports neoliberalism. Indeed, in his attack on a female academic at Liverpool John Moores University, he defended it against left-wing academics such as herself. He and his supporters offer precious little that will make the lives of ordinary working people better. The only thing they offer is more division and hatred.

There are issues with Islam, such as the continuing malign influence of the preachers of hate and the dangers of self-radicalisation for the young and disaffected through the internet. And authorities have targeted ethnic minorities for a greater proportion of aid because these groups are, or have been, more deprived, or have specific needs that can only be addressed through projects directed to them. Like the rape helpline for women from ethnic minorities, which Robinson so grossly misrepresented as deliberately excluding Whites and legitimising the assault of White women. It wasn’t the case, and his vile tweets about it resulted in the phone line having to be shut down because of the abusive calls they were receiving, thus depriving extremely vulnerable women of the help they needed.

Fortunately, Robinson’s tour of the northwest isn’t going as smoothly as he planned. A string of towns have made it clear that he is not welcome, there have been large counterprotests. And to cap it all, the internet platform, Stripe, that makes it possible for people to donate their hard earned cash to him, has thrown him off. Which makes it a bit more difficult for him to scrounge off the poor and misinformed.

Robinson poses as a member of the working class, defending them from the politically correct Left and militant Islam. He isn’t. He’s a very rich man, thanks to the money he’s been given by his followers. And he offers nothing to the working class except more neglect and poverty, but with racial hatred and suspicion added. He’s a disgrace.

This Thursday, those who really want to see working people’s lives improved should ignore him, and his lies about Europe and Muslims, and vote for somebody else instead.

Mineral wealth, Clive Palmer, and the corruption of Australian politics – The Conversation

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 17/05/2019 - 10:43am in

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Warwick Smith, University of Melbourne

Clive Palmer is reportedly spending A$70 million of his own money on his party’s campaign.

How is it possible for one individual to command so much wealth and where did it come from? The sad and strange reality is that Australian governments gave him most of it by letting him dig up and sell natural resources that, by rights, belong to us not him.

We’ve a history of handing vast wealth to resource and mining magnates and companies and then watching them use that wealth to undermine our democracy in order to continue to get access to that wealth. Palmer is small fry compared to Gina Rinehart and Andrew Forrest or the corporate power of BHP, Rio Tinto and others.

So, what do state and federal governments charge for our mineral wealth? You would hope that they use state-of-the-art methods to get the best possible prices.
You’d be wrong, of course.

We barely charge for resources

The federal government relies primarily on company tax and then on extra tax from employment and consumer spending and other things that are boosted as an indirect result of mining.

But many of the big mining and resource companies use the holes in our tax system to avoid paying company tax. In addition, mining is being increasingly automated, with self-driving trucks and trains becoming the norm, and ever-larger machinery meaning that fewer workers are needed for each tonne extracted and refined. These days billions can be spent with relatively few jobs created.

State and territory governments collect royalties from land-based mining companies, which are charged per unit of product. It means that when the prices of our mineral resources go up during a commodity boom the royalties do not rise with them – the mining companies benefit, but not the people who own the resources.

How much we collect in taxes is just the beginning of the story.

We also spend vast amounts of taxpayer cash on building the infrastructure needed for resource extraction; things such as roads, railways and ports. We also often end up footing the bill to clean up after mines close and the big companies sell depleted mines and their clean-up obligations to shell companies that then file for bankruptcy.

We could (and should) seek more

We could fix the system to get a fairer price.

We already have a more effective tax system for offshore oil and gas. It is, in effect, what the Rudd government tried to do in 2010 when it proposed a mining super profits tax. Foolishly, the tax was announced more than a year before it was to come into effect, giving the mining interests plenty of time to campaign against it.

They spent more than A$22 million just on advertising. Rudd abandoned the original proposal and was removed from office.

The Gillard government consulted the miners and adopted a watered-down version – the Mineral Resource Rent Tax – that was so toothless it collected almost nothing. Even though it was worthless, the mining industry still saw it as enough of a threat to pressure Tony Abbott to kill it off when he took government, which he did with Clive Palmer’s vote in parliament.

But miners have muscle

A more radical idea would be to put out tenders for the extraction and refinement of natural resources and then have the government or an independent authority owned by the government allocate them. Such a “single desk” would have considerable market power – it could demand good payments.

The truth is that all of this has been public knowledge for a long time and the solutions are well known. The problem is politics, not knowledge. The mining industry is so powerful that our leaders rarely attempt to take it on.

Given that Palmer set the record for most absent politician in two out of the three years he was in the parliament last time, why is he so keen to go back? There’s no evidence that he’s a conviction politician, trying to make the country better based on some strongly held principles; quite the opposite given how regularly he has changed his positions.



Read more:
Now for the $55 million question: what does Clive Palmer actually want?

Could it be that what he really wants is political power in order to defend and increase the extent to which him and his mates rake in the cash at our expense?

In 2016 the government used it’s position as a creditor to seek the appointment of a special liquidator to look at the collapse of Palmer’s Queensland Nickel company and the actions of Palmer’s actions personally. The government’s Michaelia Cash said at that time it would use every power as it’s disposal to hold company officers to account.

On Thursday at the National Press Club Prime Minister Scott Morrison was asked how he intended to manage the conflict between pursuing Palmer in the courts and courting his vote in the Senate.

He replied that he would be able to.

We will continue to pursue that measure through the courts with full vigor – we are very confident in our ability to pursue that as we absolutely should

It is obvious that we need political donation reform to keep the influence of money out of politics but we need to go one step further and reform how we, the Australian people, sell our mineral resource wealth so that we don’t create mining giants like Palmer in the first place. He is just the tip of the iceberg.The Conversation

Warwick Smith, Research economist, University of Melbourne

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Welcome to Hell: Peruvian Mining City of La Rinconada

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 29/03/2019 - 4:00am in

Andre Vltchek No one can agree how high above the sea level that La Rinconada really lies at: 5,300 meters or 5,200 meters? On the access road, a metal plate says 5,015. But who really cares? It is indisputably the highest settlement in the world; a gold mining town, a concentration of misery, a community of around 70,000 inhabitants, many of whom have been poisoned by mercury. A place where countless women and children get regularly raped, where law and order collapsed quite some time ago, where young girls are sent to garbage dumps in order to ‘recycle’ terribly smelling waste, and where almost all the men work in beastly conditions, trying to save at least some money, but where most of them simply ruin their health, barely managing to stay alive. I decided to travel to La Rinconada precisely during these days when the socialist Venezuela is fighting for its survival. I drove there as the European elites in Bolivia were trying to smear the enormously popular and successful President of Bolivia, Evo Morales, …

The Green New Deal: What’s Really Green and What’s Really New

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks at a Green New Deal press event

Caption: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) speaks at a Green New Deal press event Feb. 7, 2019. (Image credit: Senate Democrats via CC BY 2.0.)

By Brian Czech

Ask Americans what the Green New Deal is all about, and you’ll get two basic answers. Most often you’ll hear, “It’s about moving to renewable energy in order to fight climate change.” You’ll also hear, from a camp further right, “It’s all about socialism!”

Either way, the really green, really new feature is overlooked. What the Green New Deal is really about is the transition to a steady state economy. At least, that’s what it must be about, to be truly green and new.

Let’s start with green. “Green” connotes environmental protection. Some may view it naively as a tree hugger’s agenda, but ultimately, it’s about economic sustainability. That’s because economic activity starts from deep in the environment; namely with the agricultural and extractive sectors such as logging, fishing, and ranching. Only with agricultural and extractive surplus can we free the hands for the division of labor into manufacturing and service sectors. (Anyone thinking otherwise may kindly skip their meals until acquiring the necessary common sense.)

Now let’s take a closer look at the point that agricultural surplus—and therefore the rest of the economy—requires the green deal of environmental protection. Agricultural surplus takes soil, water, a stable climate, and plenty of space. If, for the sake of GDP growth, we use too much of that space and water for other activities, remove or erode the soil in the process, or destabilize the climate, the agricultural sector will decline. The rest of the economy will decline right along with it. “Down will come baby, cradle and all.”

In other words, the reckless pursuit—or even the systematic pursuit—of GDP growth will backfire like a canon plugged with cement. And that is exactly what is happening, albeit in slow motion (so far). Exceptions notwithstanding, soils are eroding, water supplies are dwindling, climate is destabilizing, and too much space is being robbed from the agricultural sector. This is the opposite of environmental protection, agricultural productivity, and economic sustainability. It’s the opposite of green.

So, we need environmental protection badly, and we need to pursue it quickly, if not for the sake of nature, then for the sake of the economy. We need the green in the Green New Deal. But no one should think that simply transitioning to renewable fuels will accomplish greenness. Not by a long shot. We are already committed to a “brown” 21st century and beyond. Loading up the atmosphere with greenhouse gases (and many other pollutants) has set us up for long-term ecological unravelling. Wholesale habitat disintegration, species extinction, unhealthy forests, shifting agricultural zones, and evolutionary chaos will take centuries and possibly millennia to sort out.

Not that anything resembling today’s “normal” will return. Polar bears will be gone, along with many other canaries in the coal mines. Half of Florida will be under saltwater, while the fresh waters of the Ogallala Aquifer will be depleted. Climate suitable for a wheat belt will be far north of the current American and Eurasian breadbaskets. There’s no guarantee the earth will retain a wheat belt or any type of grain belt.

The best hope for future centuries is that a new balance of nature—and a new economic equilibrium—is reached, and reached in a process that doesn’t starve, infect, or otherwise decimate billions of souls.

 A green field in Bangladesh in 2011

Left: A 1942 fertilizer experiment to build up soil fertility. Right: A green field in Bangladesh in 2011. (Image ©Rafi Bin Tofa, CC BY SA 4.0)

Now, let’s consider the more immediate prospects for us, our kids, and our grandkids in the 21st century. Even if we are able to rapidly replace fossil fuels with renewables pursuant to the Green New Deal, the type of fuel we use is only one side of the coin. We also have to think about what we are fueling. Here’s a short list:

  • Agriculture
  • Mining
  • Logging
  • Livestock production
  • Commercial fishing
  • Purification and reduction (of metals)
  • Milling
  • Machining
  • Chemicals manufacturing
  • Packaging
  • Transportation
  • Retailing
  • Medical services
  • Financial services
  • Information services
  • Entertainment
  • Disposal services

If we want to fuel the current, $19 trillion American economy or the $87 trillion global economy with renewables, we’ll be filling up vast landscapes with solar panels, windmills, wave power devices, and the ridiculous amount of infrastructure required to transport power from such widespread, low-intensity energy harvesters to the farms, factories, retail outlets, office facilities, entertainment complexes, and landfills where economic activities transpire.

But then, where will the farms, factories, retail outlets, office facilities, entertainment complexes, and landfills go? And what happens to our national parks, forests, and wildlife refuges? Don’t forget about housing, military bases, and the halls and monuments of government and civics. It is not as if there is some overlooked abundance of land just waiting for a manifest destiny of economic activity.

Now imagine growing the amount of economic activity, let’s say at the typical American goal of 3% per year. All else equal, in 23 years we’ll need double the space. How green is that?

So we’ve figured out what is really “green” in the Green New Deal (recognizing that “very green” is no longer an option). Green is all about protecting the environment, and therefore the economy, by moving away from fossil fuels and by limiting the scope of economic activity. In the process we’ve also identified what is truly “new,” and it’s certainly not renewable energy.

For millennia before the industrial revolution, farmers, millers, and manufacturers used nothing but solar, wind, and hydro power. The use of renewable energy is ancient; quite the opposite of new. The really new thing about the Green New Deal, then, is the same thing that makes it relatively green; that is, stable size.

Of course, as with greenness, all is relative in the case of newness. Homo sapiens has roamed the Earth for approximately 300 millennia, and the global economy was largely stable for approximately 299.7 of them. Then—with the dawn of the nation state, mercantilism, capitalism, and the industrial revolution—the human economy grew far faster than before. Growth solved more problems than it caused during the early stages, too, as described by classical economists such as Adam Smith and David Ricardo. Yet the vast majority of human experience is with non-growing (or imperceptibly slow-growing) economies.

Although steady state economics is not new to the human experience, the policy goal of a steady state economy is. Prior to the nation state, there were no macroeconomic policies. Then the study of economics commenced, with a focus on the wealth of nations in the 19th century, and by the mid-20th century, practically every nation on Earth had adopted the goal of GDP growth, as did far-reaching international institutions such as the World Bank and the United Nations. Therefore, in terms of modern economic policy, the steady state economy is brand spanking new.

It is a game-changing goal for Democrats and Republicans, and quite the opportunity for leadership. When Republicans stand in the way of steady state economics, progressive Democrats can say (ironically), “We are the real conserv-atives. We start by conserving resources, and we conserve our ways of life with the steady state economy. True conservatives will vote for us.”

Conversely, if Democrats are hellbent on GDP growth, Republicans looking for a political facelift can say, “Those liberals think we can have our cake and eat it too. Conservative policy means steady-state spending, not perpetual growth of debt, deficits, or even GDP. We’re returning to our Rooseveltian roots and taking back the mantle of conserv-ation.”

Then there is the Green Party, which jumps to mind by virtue of the capitalized “Green” in their title. They are the only party, thus far, with a steady-state plank, too. The problem is, the Green Party has become something of a Pink with Blue Polka Dots Party, running far left on every issue that arises. Boxing itself into a smaller and more irrelevant corner is no way to prioritize green.

All things considered, Democrats have a big jump on steady statesmanship by advancing the Green New Deal. To the extent they emphasize the steady state economy, they’ll gain converts quickly from the ranks of the Green Party and sustainability-minded Independents. I can testify to that, as a registered Independent and the ex-Green Party activist who drafted the steady-state plank in 2004. I’ll be joining the Democratic Party to help with the macroeconomics of the Green New Deal.

A steady-state Green New Deal will also attract the true-conservative Republicans who haven’t seen enough attention paid to… conserving! I can testify somewhat to that as well; long ago I belonged to Republicans for Environmental Protection (known today as ConservAmerica).

An excerpt from House Resolution 109 which calls for the creation of a Green New Deal

An excerpt from House Resolution 109, submitted to the 116th Congress of the United States on Feb 7, 2019 by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), which calls for the creation of a Green New Deal.

Regardless of current political party, bona fide steady staters (such as the 14,000+ signatories at www.steadystate.org), as well as members of the many organizations that have developed similar positions (for example, the U.S. Society for Ecological Economics) are constantly searching for a political home; a steady-state political home. Much the same may be said for those with latent steady-state leanings (essentially all those concerned with the build-up of environmental impact and the erosion of ecological integrity). A Green New Deal replete with steady state economics is long overdue and a breath of fresh air.

Numerous details must be worked out for infusing the Green New Deal with steady state economics, such as a workable timeframe for establishing a steady state economy, amending the Full Employment and Balanced Growth Act (with a Full and Sustainable Employment Act), and “steady statesmanship” in international diplomacy. Yet dozens of books, hundreds of university courses, and thousands of journal articles have already paved the way for such policy reforms. In fact, more policy work has already been done for the steady state economy than for the wholesale replacement of fossil fuels.

The agenda of the Green New Deal—its emphases, themes, and particulars—is still being ironed out. Politicians, policy wonks, and academicians are wrestling over turf. Some want credit for coining phrases, some want your vote, some want research funding, and some simply want to protect the environment and therefore the economy.

In the midst of it all, you can help with the ironing out. If anyone asks you about the Green New Deal, just say, “The Green New Deal? Why it’s all about the steady state economy. That’s assuming you want it to be really green, and really new.”

 

Brian Czech is the founder and executive director of the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy. He is the author of three books, Supply Shock, Shoveling Fuel for a Runaway Train, and The Endangered Species Act, as well as more than 50 academic journal articles. He served as a conservation biologist in the headquarters of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from 1999-2017 and as a visiting professor of natural resource economics in Virginia Tech’s National Capitol Region.

 

The post The Green New Deal: What’s Really Green and What’s Really New appeared first on Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy.


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