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Thursday, 10 March

00:09

Why state governments are about to hike taxes Peter Martin

Victoria, NSW, and every other Australian state have been mugged.

Here's how it happened. The Coalition came to office in 2013 promising to continue to properly fund state hospitals and schools. It left the impression the commitment had no expiry date. Then in its first budget it abandoned funding some state programs (encouraging the states to continue them "at their expense") and announced that from 2017-18 it would lift hospital and school funding only in line with population growth and inflation.

Think about that. Population growth is 1.7 per cent in Victoria and 1.4 per cent in NSW. Inflation is 1.7 per cent. Combined, they are about 3 per cent. But the costs of running hospitals are soaring. In the past decade they've jumped 7.2 per cent a year.

What are the states supposed to do? Not pay those costs? Limit spending growth to population plus inflation, even though the cost of wages and medical technology is growing much faster? Or are they supposed to find more money.

In the days immediately following the budget, then treasurer Joe Hockey seemed to have an answer, or at least a wink and a nod. Asked whether the states should raise more tax, he replied: "Well, that is a matter for them because they do run the schools and hospitals."

He had made his budget better by making theirs worse, and...

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Wednesday, 09 March

18:24

The Monetarism Trap snares the second Wilson Labour Government Bill Mitchell – billy blog

This blog provides another excerpt in the unfolding story about Britain and the IMF. As I noted in this blog – The British Monetarist infestation – I am currently working to pin down the historical turning points, which allowed neo-liberalism to take a dominant position in the policy debate. In doing so, I want to demonstrate why the ‘Social Democrat’ or ‘Left’ political parties, who still have pretensions to representing the progressive position (but have, in fact, become ‘austerity-lite’ merchants), were wrong to surrender to the neo-liberal macroeconomic Groupthink. This is a further instalment of my next book on globalisation and the capacities of the nation-state, which I am working on with Italian journalist Thomas Fazi. We expect to finalise the manuscript in May 2016. In the last instalment, I traced back and demonstrated that Britain was engulfed in Monetarist thinking long before Margaret Thatcher took over. She really just put the ‘(rancid) cream on the top of the (inedible) cake’. I showed that the British Labour Party were infested with the Monetarist virus in the late 1960s and James Callaghan’s famous 1976 Black Speech to tge Labour Party Conference was just a formal recognition of that disease. It really just consolidated what had been happening over the prior decade. This historical journey also helps us understand that it was not the OPEC oil crisis in the early 1970s that provided the open door for governments to reject Keynesian policy. In Britain, the Treasury and Bank of England had fallen prey to Monetarist ideas following the elevation of Milton Friedman onto the world stage. These subsequent events just helped keep the insurgency moving until total dominance in the contest of ideas was won. Today, we start with the Bank of England’s...

17:05

Snow Gums Bushland Working Bee, Sunday, 20th March Sustainable Living Armidale

[ Sunday, 20 Mar; 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. ] Hello bushcarers, There was a fire towards the southern end of the reserve on Wednesday evening. It burnt part of the really high conservation value woodland and part of a 40-year old revegetation area before the fire brigade put it out . I have said more about the burnt area at the bottom of this post*. The [...] full article »

15:06

Is oil becoming stranded? Renew Economy

The recent collapse in oil prices is reminiscent of a similar dive in the price of coal. But will it have the same effect on oil assets as it has for coal?

15:02

Tasmania bows to fossil fuel lobby as it turns to yet more gas/diesel Renew Economy

The fossil fuel lobby gets its wish. Tasmania's energy minister says he has a plan, but his "longer-term supply options" focus entirely on gas and diesel, with no plans to encourage rooftop solar or more wind farms. Even energy efficiency is not on the table.

15:01

A week of thinking big: wind, carbon, storage Renew Economy

It has been a week for thinking big around the globe: on offshore wind energy development, green investment, pricing carbon emissions, and disincentivising coal.

14:55

Japan is living up to its nickname as the land of the rising sun Renew Economy

Japan is putting almost $20bn annually into new solar developments that are bringing 8GW of solar-powered electricity online per year.

14:44

What we’re reading: 5 Tweets about extreme heat, one on Australian coal Renew Economy

As NSW Liberals call for public debates about climate change, the rest of Australia Tweets about record March temps.

13:45

Floating solar installed at Brazil hydro plant Renew Economy

Brazil launches first stage of project targeting 10MW floating solar at its hydropower plants, in bid to reduce evaporation and bolster electricity output in drought.

13:22

Zayed Future Energy Prize 2017 open for submissions Renew Economy

Entries have opened for the $US4 million Future Energy Prize – a UAE-based international competition designed to reward innovators across business, schools and NGOs in renewable energy and sustainability.

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Tuesday, 08 March

18:11

Redflow sets up Adelaide “battery lab” ahead of home storage launch Renew Economy

Redflow has established a battery lab in Kent Town Adelaide, to support the imminent launch of its residential zinc bromine flow battery, and to ensure it works with a range of inverters.

14:03

The BIS adds to the financial turbulence and should be disbanded Bill Mitchell – billy blog

In 2014, it was apparent that the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) had made itself part of the ideological wall that was blocking any reasonable recovery from the GFC. I wrote about that in this blog – The BIS remain part of the problem. I was already concerned in 2013 (see this blog – Since when did the BIS become the Neo-liberal Ministry of Misinformation?). Things haven’t improved and the latest statements from the Bank in the BIS Quarterly Review (March 6, 2016) – Uneasy calm gives way to turbulence – demonstrates two things that are now obvious. First, that the neo-liberal Groupthink that created the crisis in the first place, and, which has prolonged the malaise continues to dominate the leading international financial institutions. Second, not only are these institutions (and I include the OECD, the IMF, to BIS, among this group) impeding return to prosperity as a result of their continued adherence to failed macroeconomics, but worse, their patterned behaviour actually introduces new instabilities that ferment further crises. Someone should be held accountable for the instability these organisations cause, which, ultimately leads to higher rates of unemployment and increased poverty rates.

The UK Guardian article (from Agence France-Presse) yesterday (March 7, 2016) – ‘Gathering storm’ for global economy as markets lose faith – demonstrated how damaging these international organisations can be when they make pronouncements that have no real basis in a robust macroeconomics but, instead, reflect the pattern responses that neo-liberal Goupthink invokes.

...

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Tuesday, 01 March

14:53

UNE Seminar — Population and consumption: the death of nature and the failure of science Sustainable Living Armidale

[ Wednesday, 2 Mar; 12:00 pm; ] This is a seminar about people; their environment, their future, and whether they will have either. Some in the audience will find my words confronting. I make no apologies. There is no time for apologies. Nor do we have choices. We act now, decisively, and with pain or we will be hated by our children's [...] full article »

14:53

ZNET Uralla Public meeting for election of office bearers Sustainable Living Armidale

[ Saturday, 5 Mar; 1:30 pm; ] Public meeting for election of office bearers for ZNET Uralla 1.30pm 5th March 2016 Uralla Community Centre. https://www.facebook.com/ZNetUralla/ By: Peter Low full article »

Thursday, 28 January

02:00

288 – Bowie albums ranked Pannell Discussions

Since David Bowie’s death a couple of weeks ago, I’ve playing his albums pretty incessantly. Playing them all within a short time made me think about which ones I prefer. I’m sharing, in case it’s helpful to others thinking of expanding their Bowie collections.

David Bowie is in my second rank of favourite musicians: not someone whose music I’m completely obsessed with, but definitely one of the greats. He fits into mainstream rock, but like the most original and creative rock artists (The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, Radiohead) he was renowned for making radical changes in his music from time to time. In fact, Bowie’s changes were more radical and more frequent than any other major artist.

My decade-by-decade summary would be:

  • The 1960s: An awkward debut, one brilliant single, and a very good second album.
  • The 1970s: Mostly stunningly good, progressing through five utterly distinct phases.
  • The 1980s: Starts with one very good album. After that, several dreadful albums that I can’t bear to listen to.
  • The 1990s, 2000s and 2010s: Everything from 1995 on was very good to excellent.

You can see that I have a strong preference for his more adventurous work, and a very strong dislike of his most commercial work (from the mid 1980s).

To be more specific, here is my ranking of all his albums, from best to worst, with some comments about each.

1. Low (1977). The second o...

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