Saturday salon 28/3

voltaire_230

An open thread where, at your leisure, you can discuss anything you like, well, within reason and the Comments Policy. Include here news and views, plus any notable personal experiences from the week and the weekend.

For climate topics please use the most recent Climate clippings.

The gentleman in the image is Voltaire, who for a time graced the court of Frederick II of Prussia, known as Frederick the Great. King Fred loved to talk about the universe and everything at the end of a day’s work. He also used the salons of Berlin to get feedback in the development of public policy.

Fred would only talk in French; he regarded German as barbaric. Here we’ll use English.

The thread will be a stoush-free zone. The Comments Policy says:

The aim [of this site] is to provide a venue for people to contribute and to engage in a civil and respectful manner.

Here are a few bits and pieces that came to my attention last week.

1. Scientists at Large Hadron Collider hope to make contact with parallel universe

LHC_scc

The LHC is being fired up again after two years down time when it was refurbished and enhanced. In their first experiment they hope:

a completely new universe will be revealed – rewriting not only the physics books but the philosophy books too. It is even possible that gravity from our own universe may ‘leak’ into this parallel universe, scientists at the LHC say.

As mentioned at Mark’s Facebook, if they want a parallel universe a plane ticket to Australia might be cheaper.

2. Crazy polls

Either opinion is swinging wildly or the pollsters have lost it.

Two weeks ago there was a significant crossover of Newspoll and Morgan. Now they’ve crossed back again.

Morgan has a 2.5% swing to to ALP, putting them on 56/44 TPP.

Newspoll has a 4% swing the other way to leave Labor barely ahead on 51-49.

Essential has a 2% swing to Labor this week to leave it comfortably ahead on 54-46. Essential’s weekly poll has been reasonably steady over a four-week period.

3. ‘Supertide’ at Mont Saint-Michel

Mont St Micael_slide_411974_5196966_free_600

They call it the tide of the century, but it actually happens every 18 years. Mont Saint-Michel is a tidal island off the coast of Lower Normandy. Acessible by a causeway at low tide, the tide comes in at the speed of a galloping horse. Mont Saint-Michel receives over three million visitors each year.

4. Native title threatens Adani’s Carmichael mine

Adani’s Carmichael mine in the Galilee Basin is planned to mine 60,000 tonnes of coal per year, creating 10,000 direct and indirect jobs. Adrian Burragubba as spokesman for the Wangan and Jagalingou Family Council says that under native title they do not approve of mining in any shape or form and no amount of money will change their mind.

We’re concerned that it will devastate the land beyond repair.

It will destroy the waterways and our totemic animals and beings that are on that land and our ancestor dreaming stories and those things that are associated with our culture and heritage.

And it will also destroy it beyond repair to the point where we’ll be displaced forever from that land as the original custodians of that land.

It seems that the native title claim substantially overlaps with another native title claim lodged by the Bidjara people. If the claim cannot be settled between the groups then the Federal Court will test the matter at trial.

106 thoughts on “Saturday salon 28/3”

  1. It sounds as though the government is actually starting to look at ways of increasing revenue. Long overdue given the ridiculous and grossly unfair attempt last year to solve our financial problems by really screwing those at the bottom of the pile. Hope the other parties take revenue raising seriously instead of using it to score points against the master point scorers.

    They could start by getting rid the unsustainable tax cuts introduced by Howard as he fought to survive.

    My take for tax and charges reform includes:
    -Taxing those that can afford harder than those that can’t
    -Avoid new taxes unless they replace others. (Boost the take on existing taxes.)
    -Go for robust taxes like the GST that vary little with changes in economic performance.
    -Tax families on average income over say 5 yrs. At the moment family income tax is much higher for families with large differences between husband and wife and large variations in year by year income.
    – Get rid of many deductions that have become lurks.
    – Get rid of tax advantages of the family car but encourage companies to give employees paid up public transport cards.

    One of the things that amuses me is that most people don’t realise that company tax is just as regressive as the GST.

    Even fewer people seem to realize that value added taxes like the GST are essentially a combination of a payroll tax, a profit tax and government charges.

    Christine Milne had the following wish list.

    Abolish tax breaks for big mining, raising $10.5 billion
    Reinstate the price on pollution, raising $18 billion
    Implement the original super profits tax on Big Mining, raising $18.6 billion
    Impose a $2 per tonne levy on thermal coal exports, raising $1.7 billion
    Reduce tax avoidance by taxing discretionary trusts (excepting farmers) the same as corporations, raising $3.6 billion
    Implement a Millionaires Tax on incomes over $1 million, raising $637 million
    Apply a public insurance levy on the Big Four Banks that are ‘too big to fail’, raising $16.8 billion
    Introduce a progressive superannuation tax system, replacing the 15% flat rate, to prevent tax loopholes being rorted by the mega-rich, raising $10.16 billion

  2. Jumpy: I played with something like what you are talking about years ago.
    I agree that a flat tax combined with a fixed payment for all adults gets rid of the unfairness I talked about @3 as long as the fixed payment is high enough to make poor people better off. It comes with a number of attractions:
    1. A lot of tax avoidance is all about avoiding the unfairness I talked about @3. (For example, there would be no tax benefit from moving income to a partner who is earning less.)
    2. Some welfare payments would be partly or completely replaced by the fixed payment and people who used to get welfare would have more incentive to work.
    3. The whole system is simpler, particularly if the income tax rate and company tax rate are the same.

  3. 2 ways of increasing revenue are to put in place a carbon tax and a federal minerals tax. I know…. there used to be taxes such as these but some brain dead politician removed them.

    A flat tax is a disasterous idea as it fails the property ownership test. Under a flat tax, over time all property moves into the hands of those with the most money, just as is happening in Florida right now where property is moving into the hands of the investment funds. A flat tax will only work if you have a fixed income for everyone, I think that is called socialism.

  4. Karen, I think that you are missreading the text in the image you have put up. I read it that it is saying that Monsanto are the “murderers” to be brought to jstice…… and depending upon the outcome of their seed crops with the terminator gene, which include farmer suicides, there could be an arguable case for what is being suggested. But then maybe I am missing something.

  5. Bilb: I seem to remember Malcolm Turnbull saying something like “A flat tax without any special lurks for the rich would be fairer than the current system which “makes income tax optional for the rich. ”
    The rich like simple flat taxes because the result will be lower taxes for the rich and higher taxes for the poor. Adding a fixed payment to all taxpayers provides a mechanism that makes people towards the bottom of the pile better off while avoiding the need for net tax reductions of the rich.
    The problem of wealth concentration and ownership/control moving away from individuals towards funds we need to have a conversation about things like capital gains tax, negative gearing, death duties etc.
    On a related subject I think that tax on interest should be paid on interest less inflation. Tax deductions on loans should be calculated on the same basis.

  6. I’m with Christine Milne. There is something like 80 billion dollars in that package. The deficit will turn instantly into a surplus, and any accumulated government debt will discipate fairly quickly. That is good government and financial management.

  7. “Karen @ 6, you seem to be on a campaign about Vandana Shiva. ”

    Yes I am on a campaign against this charlatan. Shiva is a charismatic fraud, much like Lord Monckton, the climate change denier. Also, much like Monckton, she collects awards and buckets of money from useful idiots wherever she goes. For instance, Shiva charges $40,000 for her one hour speeches on the talk circuit.

    What do you think about her claims about autism and SARS being linked to agribusiness? And her lies about farmer suicides?

  8. Oh yeh, Milnes a genius.
    Imagine the economic utopia with the tax free threshold was $90 k, and free everything.
    Payed for by a 99% tax on anyone earning over $100 k.
    Brilliant !!
    It’s not like investment capital or it’s owners can change jurisdictions right ?
    Yep, top plan, guaranteed growth and surpluses there.

    Even open the borders completely and double welfare for everyone standing on this Big Brown Land regardless of their nationality.

    Everyone will be so happy that GDP will go through the roof and social crime will evaporate !

    It’s just a shame that less than 10 of 100 people get this ( *sigh*)

  9. Karen @ 13, I don’t have time for a stoush, but I read a fair bit of Shiva’s stuff between 2000 and 2006 before I got immersed in climate change. I saw her as a person of interesting values who stretched your thinking.

    I read her book Water wars. I found that she occasionally made statements that didn’t strictly check out scientifically, but nothing outrageously wrong. These days she’s working outside her academic field, which was theoretical physics.

    I’m not aware of her claims on autism and SARS. I did hear her make a statement about climate change once that was unwarranted.

    I thought her organisation was the only one counting farmer suicides in India.

  10. Jumpy Green:

    Oh yeh, Milnes a genius.
    Imagine the economic utopia with the tax free threshold was $90 k, and free everything.
    Payed for by a 99% tax on anyone earning over $100 k.
    Brilliant !!

    Where did this brilliant misquote of Milne come from?

  11. John, it wasn’t.
    I’m i little time deficient right now but I’ll go through her actual above mentioned fantasy some time over the weekend if you like.
    But whilst you wait, ask yourself if there is a point when a tax increase raises less revenue.
    And at which level that decline starts.

  12. The science journal Nature dealt with the btcotton suicide myth two years ago. Farmer suicides haven’t changed much over the past few decades. The peer reviewed literature is unequivocal, Indian BtCotton farmers have experienced much greater net profitability, hence 95% of the market is now BtCotton. http://www.nature.com/news/case-studies-a-hard-look-at-gm-crops-1.12907

    In 2014, Jon Entine in Forbes reveled that Shiva has an undergrad science degree and her PhD on quantum physics was in fact a philosophy of science thesis. Since then, Shiva has bobbed and weaved when asked to explain the deception. There is of course no record of her ever having worked as a “theoretical physicist”, a “quantum physicist” or anything of that nature.

    It is difficult to understand how so many intelligent people in the West fell for Shiva’s charade for so long, particularly given that most Indian farmers ignore her.

  13. Sir J: No doubt there is a point where tax increases do actually slow down investment but the evidence suggests that it is probably much higher than rich Australians pay now. Think about the economic record of places like Sweden which had very high taxes that were used to provide a very generous welfare.
    The yanks kept rabbiting on about the Swedish tax rates but the funny thing was that the Swedish economy kept performing very very well. Funny thing is it helps having a welfare system that increases the wealth of consumers at the bottom of the pile and produces well educated, healthy workers actually helps an economy.

    Right now there is lots of cheap money sloshing around looking for something to invest in. Its not working because we have had successive governments working to actually reduce the purchasing power of consumers at the bottom of the pile while making these consumers feel too insecure about their jobs to run up big credit card bills. Think about it.

  14. Karen @ 18, thanks for the link.

    I googled and found this authoritative article, which overall supported your view, on the information available. I’m a bit sceptical about Indian government statistics, though I recognise that your link attempted to use data also from other sources.

    Nevertheless it’s not hard to find alternative views which contain worrying information. I feel there is something still missing from this story.

    I can’t see anything deceptive about Shiva’s qualifications. Clearly there is a world of difference between quantum physics and the science behind the issues Shiva deals with. She wouldn’t be the first to wade into another field and use inappropriate methodology, as I conceded she does at times.

    On fees for talks, it’s quite possible she has charged up to $40,000 and it’s quite possible she uses the money for beneficial purposes. However, I find it difficult to believe that the Australian Greens forked out $40,000, although tickets at $45 is to me on the expensive side.

  15. Ok,

    Abolish tax breaks for big mining, raising $10.5 billion

    Minerals are owned by the individual States in our Federation.
    Any tax breaks are given by States not Federal, therefore no change to the budget.

    Reinstate the price on pollution, raising $18 billion

    Didn’t we establish $ 8-9 bill before the ” compensation ” ?
    Brain may know the compensation amount, I’m guessing $ 7-8 bill

    Implement the original super profits tax on Big Mining, raising $18.6 billion

    It’s at over 40% ( royalties (S), company tax (F), payroll tax (S) now and they’re moving to less harsh jurisdictions, any gains are offset by reverse bracket creep and middle class welfare growth costs.

    Impose a $2 per tonne levy on thermal coal exports, raising $1.7 billion

    Again, State issue and constitutionaly challengeable, but I’ll give her $1.7 bill.

    Reduce tax avoidance by taxing discretionary trusts (excepting farmers) the same as corporations, raising $3.6 billion

    Not really an area I’m familiar with but, even though she’s swung and missed so much, I’ll go halvesys with $1.8 bill

    Implement a Millionaires Tax on incomes over $1 million, raising $637 million

    Ok, another tax bracket.
    What would the average $1m/year+ earner possibly do about that. ( hint; the tax system is complex to benefit the wealthy )

    Apply a public insurance levy on the Big Four Banks that are ‘too big to fail’, raising $16.8 billion

    Passed straight on to us muggles, Bonus for the banks that grew profits right through the GFC and were never going to fail.

    Introduce a progressive superannuation tax system, replacing the 15% flat rate, to prevent tax loopholes being rorted by the mega-rich, raising $10.16 billion

    This is the funniest.
    So Gina, Clive and their peers have superannuation accounts that dodge $10,000,000,000 per year ?

    Earth to Christine,

    { I would hope responses will address all points for a continued conversation rather than just one in a belief that that will disprove the rest, thanks. }

  16. Jumpy, I’ll comment on a couple, and I’m not intending to disprove the rest.

    My guess on the so-called ‘carbon tax’ is like you that it would have raised about $7-8 billion. Rudd/Bowen yanked it down by going earlier to the European price, so I’m not sure how it ended up. The Greens are probably intending to raise it above where it ever was, so the $18 billion probably relates to that.

    I think the big four banks have an after tax profit of about $29 billion. This implies that they would already have paid $12.4 billion in tax. What the Greens propose would see about $29 billion go to the tax man and $12 billion to the shareholders. As a shareholder I call that daylight robbery.

    The banks are very large businesses and as such not all that profitable, it’s just that the profits are steady and reliable.

    Jumpy, they didn’t increase profits during the GFC. My memory is that they took a 20% hit and took a couple of years to recover. That was a lot better than most other companies.

  17. Brian

    Yes, I should have said “ never made a deficit ” . Never a chance of failure nor a run, in fact international investment gravitated toward them.
    Some even credit Howard for instituting regs on bank practices during his tenure, others can’t credit him for anything.

    What the Greens propose would see about $29 billion go to the tax man and $12 billion to the shareholders. As a shareholder I call that daylight robbery.

    Allmost every worker, through their super, is a Big 4 shareholder even the green MPs.
    Milne economics is farcical.
    Who’s their economic ” spokes entity “, Wish-Wash-Wilson ?

  18. Jumpy,

    Christine Milnes tax programme makes more sense than Abbott’s by a country mile.

    Abbott’s actions to date are eliminate working taxes that have minimal public impact and decimate industry with the consequence a reduced tax take from income, while proposing pickinv the pockets of students. Howard reducd the top tax bracket during a period of optimal glodal economic growth, flatening tax, then imposed a GST, flattening tax further. Now Abbott is attempting to flatten tax even further but during a period of politically induced economic contraction. Abbott is a stupid person.

    The solution here is to raise the top tax bracket, apply a tax on the super profits of banks and/or a financial transactions tax, apply a levy on imported entertainment (movies, music, television,etc), reinstall the price on carbon but this time as a tax, and apply a federal minerals export tax to fund indigenous affairs.

    Or

    Christine Milnes programme.

  19. BilB

    The solution here is to raise the top TAX BRACKET, apply a tax on the super profits of banks and/or a financial transactions tax, apply a levy on imported entertainment (movies, music, television,etc), reinstall the price on carbon but this time as a tax, and apply a federal minerals export tax to fund indigenous affairs.

    The top tax bracket is effectively 50.5% now, what would you set it at ?
    The big 4 are owned by sharehonders, how much will you take from them ? ( incidentally, without the ability to tax foreign banks, that would distort the market in their favour )
    I’ll leave the co2 tax out of this conversation if you don’t mind, it’s been done to death already.
    Added tariffs on imports will lead to retaliatory tariffs on our exports, result = higher prices for consumers and loss of export competitiveness.

    Mineral aren’t owned by the Fed.
    And per capita, Aboriginal have for many years received more funding thrown at their ” affairs ” than any other racial group, can you see any difference ?
    Or will a few more billion do the trick, ya recon ?

  20. Actually, Jumpy, the top tax rate for adults is less than 45%, but as you suggest 50.5%, that sounds like a good start, 50.5% top tax rate it is. Howards tax cuts cost the budget 30 billion a year so the level could be set to recover 15 billion of that now that the economy cannot afford that level of generosity.

    Banks Super Profits Tax? John Quiggin covers this and suggests a take of 5 to 10 billion dollars.

    Jumpy, your being tired of talking about it will not make Global Warming go away. The fact is that Gillard’s Carbon Price was bargain low introductory price for Climate Change Action, but thanks to the interference of ultra Denialist Abbott the next Climate Change Action program is going to be far more expensive, hence the $18 billion figure.

    Entertainment levy will bring in $2 billion. Any levy applied against Australian entertainment exports would be minor cost against revenues from the overwhelming volume of imported entertainment.

    Aboriginals, or rather the “Survivors of the Great Australian Genocide”, have a natural claim to the minerals of Australia, both locally and collectively. On that basis a federal minerals export tax on behalf of aboriginals is justified to offset funds dispersed by the federal government for aboriginal affairs. This would bring in around $8 billion.

    So there you have it, a $50 billion, alternative tax plan to make everyone happy.

  21. BilB

    Actually, Jumpy, the top tax rate for adults is less than 45%, but as you suggest 50.5%, that sounds like a good START, 50.5% top tax rate it is.

    Add Medicare Levy of 2% + Medicare Levy Surcharge of 1.5% and Temporary( sic ) Budget Repair Levy of 2%, all on top income bracket and straight to consolidated revenue.

    In fact, in the last 5 years, the first was raised from 1.5%, and the second and third introduced.
    So we’re talking about a 4% increase to the top rate coupled with lifting of the tax free threshold for the bottom.

    We are seeing increased redistribution of money from top to bottom, how much is too much ?

    Just in my cul de sac alone there are 2 top, 6 middle and 8 bottom.
    And i promise you the standard of living, education levels and health levels are basically the same [if you remove addictions ( all levels )].
    The main difference is determination to and frequency of going to work.

    Ive never understood why its ” greedy ” to want to keep the money you earn yourself but not ” greedy ” to want the money you didn’t earn.

  22. Banks Super Profits Tax? John Quiggin covers this and suggests a take of 5 to 10 billion dollars.

    Ok, fine, but from whom ? ( hint; not CEOs )

    Entertainment levy will bring in $2 billion. Any levy APPLIED against Australian entertainment exports would be minor cost against revenues from the overwhelming volume of imported entertainment.

    Tariff squabbles are rarely apples for apples. A trivial nudge of the sugar tariff rate by the US negates $2bill in a heart beat.

  23. Jumpy:

    I’ve never understood why its ” greedy ” to want to keep the money you earn yourself but not ” greedy ” to want the money you didn’t earn.

    The problem is what we mean by “paid” and “earn.”
    I have always thought that it was a bit unfair that people like me who spent most of their time doing satisfying jobs in the air conditioning were paid more that a fitter out in the dust and the heat of the Pilbara trying to fix a broken down truck in the pit.
    Sure I could argue that I deserved all this money because I had all this responsibility and came up with all these things I did that were worth a lot of money. However, in the end I would have wanted a lot money to swap jobs with the fitter
    At the time I would have liked to have been a bit more senior than I was. But it was about satisfaction and being able to make things happen that I couldn’t do in the job I was in. Pay increases would have been a bonus.
    Back in the good old days when the top rate was over 60% and I grumbled about tax, the coal miner’s daughter that i live with used to say we were lucky I had a job that got me in the top tax bracket. I wouldn’t even try to argue that I deserved more than an underground coal miner.
    Ask yourself how many dollars after tax someone on the top tax rate gets compared with the minimum hourly rate.

  24. Jumpy:

    I’ve never understood why its ” greedy ” to want to keep the money you earn yourself but not ” greedy ” to want the money you didn’t earn.

    It is not greedy to want money you didn’t earn if you were unable to earn because some greedy work hog, incompetent government or a shortage of work was denying you a chance to earn. Ditto when you can’t earn because you are too sick, too old etc.

  25. John,

    I have always thought that it was a bit unfair that people like me who spent most of their time doing satisfying JOBS IN the air conditioning were paid more that a fitter out in the dust and the heat of the Pilbara trying to fix a broken down truck in the pit.

    And what did you do about it at the time ?

    Sure I could argue that I deserved all this money because I had all this responsibility and came up with all these things I did that were worth a lot of money. However, in the end I would have wanted a lot money to swap JOBS with the fitter ( your bold )

    You made a choice in you own self interest, we all do that every day.

    Back in the good old days when the top rate was over 60% and I grumbled about tax, the coal miner’s daughter that i live with used to say we were lucky I had a job that got me in the top TAX BRACKET.

    Smart you and her.

    I wouldn’t even try to argue that I deserved more than an underground coal miner.

    Simple supply and demand, I’m ok with it.

    Ask yourself how many dollars after tax someone on the top tax rate gets compared with the minimum hourly rate.

    No, I ask myself what did that individual sacrifice or risk to be in the top bracket compared to his classmate on less.

    Look, dude, with all due respect, if you need to go on a personal guilt trip because your life was sweet because you profited from the mining industry ( fossil fuel or not ) then go ahead but leave me out of it please.

    To me you worked hard and smart and got payed more because of that effort.

  26. “greedy work hogs ” have my respect, lazy bludgers do, most certainly, not.
    That used to be the Australian ethos that made us respected.
    I miss it dearly.

  27. BilB:

    The terminator gene is just another one of Vandana Shiva’s silly lies; there is no terminator gene in any GM plant. It would probably be best if GM plants were sterile (had a terminator gene), but the hysteria created by Shiva and others like her has made this impossible.

    Here is Shiva’s thesis record. Jon Entine tracked it down and Shiva has since refused to answer questions about. Note her quantum theory thesis was in the Dept of Philosophy. http://alpha.lib.uwo.ca/record=b1770869

    Anyway, this woman has no credibility left and the vultures now pick over her carcass. What a pity this didn’t happen 20 years ago, as she has caused so much harm to our world.

  28. Karen,

    It is important to cautious in drawing conclusions here:

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/genetically-engineered-terminator-seeds-death-and-destruction-of-agriculture/5319797

    “Since 2001, there has been a de facto worldwide moratorium on the use of terminator technology (UN Convention on Biological Diversity). By definition, such seeds are genetically engineered to make them sterile and unusable for replanting, resulting in farmers having to buy new seeds from a central supplier each year.

    Under Article 28 of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (the TRIPS Agreement), “planting, harvesting, saving, re-planting, and exchanging seeds of patented plants, or of plants containing patented cells and genes, constitutes use,” and is prohibited by the intellectual property laws of signatory states”

    The operative phrase here is “of signatory states”. Don’t be so blinded to think that profit motivated seed companies are not capable of growing low regrowth seeds in non signatory states and blending them with seed from other areas to make an uneconomic recycling seed, or, some other strategy to capture farmers in a country with hundreds of years of history of manipulative practices. I was hearing stories of the Indian Farmer suicides in the nineties, these claims are not new and I have no doubt at all that they are genuine.

  29. Jumpy a nudge of the sugar tariff rate by the US would be all good news for cane farmers. Farmers who grow cane for ethanol earn twice that of the farmers who grow for sugar. And it would be good news for Australian trade balances as the offset oil imports are worth more than sugar exports.

  30. Sir J @33: Some of us thought that the idea of a fair go and helping your mate was an essential part of what it meant to be Australian. To my mind someone working lots of overtime while others really cant get a job is neither. Worse when they try to blame the unemployed for the shortage of work.
    Greed is good sounds more like the US than the Australia I want to live in.

  31. BilB

    I’m not sure why I bother. You said: “I was hearing stories of the Indian Farmer suicides in the nineties, these claims are not new and I have no doubt at all that they are genuine.”

    Actually the Indian farmer suicide stories started appearing in the western media in the 1970s. GM Cotton wasn’t introduced to India until early 2000. Do you see the problem here?

    As to Global Research, even your link points out its founder link to conspiracy theories. It took me two seconds to find this chemtrail conspiracy theory article.

    Global Research publishes 9/11, chemtrail, vaccine, you name it conspiracy theories. Here is an article calling Nth Korea the land of human acheivement, love and joy.

    I may be overreaching here, but I suspect even John D and Brian B don’t buy into the chemtrails conspiracy theories and eulogies of Nth Korea that one finds on left wing sites like Global Research.

  32. Ah! good old Sir Keith II, glad you asked.

    So, a foreign citizen, that runs a listed company, that pays unfranked dividends , that employed 1000s of people in 50 countries, working like a dog for 50 years ( well into his 70s ) providing a product that Australians freely choose to purchase ( unlike his biggest competitor with far more market penetration and pays negative $1,000,000,000 per year in tax, your ABC, that if I choose not to fund I go to jail ), that gets most of its revenue from foreign owned advertisers, that personally uses none of our services ,is a bludger and owes you money.

    And BilB agrees.

    Fine, I disagree.

  33. John @ 39

    People only wan’t ” overtime ” because of job destroying penalty rates.
    Get rid of those and see unemployment plummet.

    In fact, set overtime rates at 10 time the usual rate, that should do it.

  34. Hey, hey John, now you got me thinking ( always happens here, thanks Brian )

    Being the director of my own little company ( and employee ) I can set the roster for myself.

    So I’m thinking, how about me rostered on for only 4 hours Sat arvo and 8 hours Sun plus public holidays.
    Over a year that’s 656 hours ( 12 h x 48 weeks + 10 PHs x 8 hours ) @ $35/hour ( same as my men ) $87.50 ( double time and a half ) = $ 57,400.
    Plus 4 weeks holiday at normal + 17.5% loading = $6,580.
    But wait… my sick days!! ( 8 days x 8 hours x $ 35 /hour)
    That’s another $ 2,240
    Right, we’re at $66,220 so far, let’s add Super of 9.25% ( $6125.35 ) that = $ 72345.35.

    So, realistically I actually worked 592 hours after sickies ( hung over, whatever, don’t judge me ).

    That’s not bad for 5 and a half days a week off.
    Maybe the missus ( also director ) could get a piece of that too. She wouldn’t have to do anything at all .

    In summery, $ 144,690.70 before tax !!

    Ok, now Im lost, is that now $144,690.70 / 592 hours equal to $244 an hour ?!?!?

    [ please, any clarifying mathematical corrections are most welcome ]

  35. Karen:

    I may be overreaching here, but I suspect even John D and Brian B don’t buy into the chemtrails conspiracy theories and eulogies of Nth Korea that one finds on left wing sites like Global Research.

    I find this statement a bit offensive because you don’t know me, my areas of expertise, who pays me or what I think of the debate on GM or the effect of chemicals on people or the environment. Your statement out of the blue comes across as setting me up to be dismissed if I have the hide to disagree with you.
    As a matter of fact my past does include being responsible for OH&S in the mining industry.
    All that I can really say on the basis of my experience is that many chemicals and metals have been found to have acute and/or chronic effects on people and the environment and, in many cases, discovering this has taken time. In the past, the mining industry has been slow to act on things like silicosis, asbestosis etc. when acting would have cost money or even shut the mine down.
    What I see in the GM debate is a situation where GM can make some very big companies serious money if it is approved, others suspect everything done by big capital is evil and there is always the possibility of serious problems taking a long time to emerge. Then there are people like the Indian farmers who may have to choose between extreme poverty and taking the risk that using a GM product, insecticide etc. may end disastrously.

  36. Sir J: It may surprise you but I actually think we would have a fairer society if overtime and weekend penalty rates disappeared and base rates were increased to the point where the average hourly rate was higher than it is now. I also think that we would be far more likely to share the work more fairly if the above penalty rates disappeared. (It is the high overtime penalty rates that encourage work hogs to work those extra hours.)
    Business of course would not be impressed. What they appear to want is the end of penalty rates without the offsetting increase in base rate.
    None of this means that I support the end of penalty rates for things like shift work, split shifts, casual work etc.

  37. Sir Jumpy the Green @43:
    You forgot the bit where through crippling hard work, indomitable spirit and unflagging strength of character, he was able to inherit a newspaper.

    BTW, how’s your tax revolt going?

  38. Karen, the vitriol you pour on Shiva troubles me in relation to our comments policy. I think it’s time you told us whether you have an interest in GM other than a personal one.

    I haven’t read any Shiva recently, but she struck me, amongst other things, as an advocate for smallholder farmers, which have long been troubled by ‘free’ trade policies and other developments in industrial farming and corporate agriculture. You may recall the dramatic suicide of a Korean farmer at the barriers of the WTO meeting in Cancun in 2003.

    I don’t know enough about GlobalResearch.ca to have an opinion about it, but the man does seem to have some quality control issues as well as rather unconventional views.

  39. Jumpy @ $244 an hour you’re at the bottom end of the big league. Last time I spoke to a lawyer his charge-out rate was $475 an hour. I got sick of chatting very quickly so I sent him an email. He charged $47.50 to read it!

    That was a couple of years ago.

  40. “I think it’s time you told us whether you have an interest in GM other than a personal one.”

    No. Do you have an interest in climate change other than a personal one?

    Farmers are major beneficiaries of free trade. What makes you think farmers want to be denied access to markets for their produce?

    Shiva pushes her own barrow, there is no evidence that Indian farmers support her. In fact, their rapid adoption of GM and the failure of her institute to garner widespread farmer support speaks for itself.

  41. John D:

    “Then there are people like the Indian farmers who may have to choose between extreme poverty and taking the risk that using a GM product, insecticide etc. may end disastrously.”

    Since when has farming not been risky. The last major meta-analysis showed that developing country GM farmers have decreased pesticide usage and increased profits at a greater than their developed country counterparts. The anti-GM forces are directly contributing to poverty and food insecurity for the world’s poorest people.

  42. Karen, I think that you need to start reading all of the words that are written. Farmer suicides are to do with debt induced by seed costs, pesticide costs and other factors. This quote puts a number on it but it does not assign deaths from 1995 to GMO crops.

    “Monsanto has a long history of contamination and cover-up. In India, another Monsanto cover-up is ongoing. Since 1995, nearly 300,000 Indian farmers have committed suicide due to massive debt. Monsanto has argued that these suicides have no single cause. However, there is clear evidence that Monsanto’s Bt cotton is implicated. Physicist and author Vandana Shiva has been monitoring what is going on in these rural farming towns. Shiva noted, “The price per kilogram of cotton seeds [has gone] from 7 to 17,000 rupees. . . . Monsanto sells its GMO seeds on fraudulent claims of yields of 1,500 kg/year when farmers harvest 300–400 kg/year on an average.” Shiva and other critics have concluded that Monsanto’s profit-driven policies have led to a “suicide economy” in India.”

    Now, as you are casting aspersions in all directions you really should declare who you actually are. For all we know you are the CEO of Monsanto calling himself Karen. It is one thing for you to criticise Vandana Shiva, but when you call anyone not swallowing your story a conspiricist this goes beyond a special interest discussion. I think that you need to offer an explanation as to why this is such a burning issue for you. You tactics and veracity suggest that you are a paid lobbyist. Are you?

    Yes, Climate Change is a burning issue for me, but then that is because it is about the survival of my children, the survival of everyone else, and because we have only one short window for getting climate action right.

  43. I have no particular interest in GMO crops, but I think that one of the biggest arguments against them is the risk of dominance which leads to lost of genetic diversity. It is proven time and a gain that mono culture introduces risk of total failure. Incremental crop improvement is safer than sweeping change.

    The other risk with GMO’s are the unintended consequences such as crop released insecticides poisoning waterways and insect deaths such as butterflies and bees.

    http://naturalsociety.com/37-million-bees-found-dead-canada-large-gmo-crop-planting/

    Local bee deaths are not an issue for a business that provides seed from another locality, but it is a huge issue for all other agricultural activities in an affected area.

    It is one thing to focus on specific “good” aspects of one mono culture, but agriculture has to co reside with a multiplicity of farming activities and the broader environment. Economic studies highlighting the positives of one particular activity rarely highlight where that activity negatively impacts on other enterprises.

  44. BilB

    The screed you quote comes come a 9/11 truther site called Project Censored- see the Steve Earl Jones articles for instance. You’re now two for two for truther sites in support of the suicide myth.

    Congratulations.

  45. Karen you are becoming extremely annoying for your personal attacks.

    I know that the quote came from a truther site, but the figures and the timing are real. I was in NZ when the farmer suicides were topical and were well covered at the time. But what also was topical was India’s programme to supply at least one computer to every rural village. The benefit of that was that local farmers were able to access produce market information which told them what the true value of their crops was. With that information they were then able to obtain higher prices for their products, a gain far greater than any alternative crop. There are many ways to improve the welfare of farmers.

    Forbes covers the bee issue with more detail identifying mites as being the most common cause of bee colony collapse, but that does not exonerated GMO’s from the specific Canada case as varroa mites are not new and are easily detected.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/jonentine/2013/04/11/science-collapse-disorder-the-real-story-behind-neonics-and-mass-bee-deaths/

    This more recent article looks at the possible causes from a different perspective and implicates the GMO’s seed, not from a genetic basis but from the seed’s handling

    naturalnews.com/047771_GM_corn_neonicotinoids_honeybees.html# (add the usual prefix to activate the link)

  46. Hmm. Natural News is Mike Adams’ infamous anti-vaccine site. It is not a personal attack to point out that you repeatedly source most of your information from some of the most notorious sites on the web.

    Bee numbers are up in Canada, the US and Europe, according to government figures. Jon Entine has collated these in posts on Forbes. Entine and others have reported that inexplicable mass die-offs of bees has been reported on numerous occasions going back hundreds of years.

    Australia, which incidentally doesn’t have varroa mite, has seen an increase in neonicotinoid use but no mass bee die-offs.

    Credibility is earned; you don’t have it as an automatic right. I would never site a climate change denialist on anything because I am pro-science. I apply the same principle to GM.

  47. John @ 48
    Other that the reality that business with no penalty rates pay a higher base rate, I think you and I have some common ground to work with.

    zoot @ 49

    That small town ( Adelaide 1952 ) rag didn’t turn itself into a global network in 50 countries.
    On the ” tax revolt ” thing I’ve been reading up on Gandhi, Adams, Marx, Eureka Stockade… those lads that actively advocated it… you know the ones.
    A common tread looks like doing it by yourself is more difficult.
    Any chance of you jumping on board ?
    For Gandhis sake, think about it, at least.

    Brian @ 51

    Just trying to do my bit about income inequity and work/life balance, gotta start somewhere. 🙂

  48. I think that you and Karen are made for each other, Jumpy.

    Here is an interesting piece on GMO by Karen

    “GMO 101: Genetically modified corn, soy, sugar from sugar beet, canola, cotton & alfalfa have genes from unrelated species forced into their DNA to make them able to tolerate being drowned in Monsanto’s herbicide, Roundup, and not die. The weeds are supposed to die but we now have Roundup resistant super weeds, which causes farmers to spray ever increasing amounts of Roundup on your GMO food. Roundup was patented as an antibiotic in 2010 by Monsanto and was recently found to be the most toxic of 9 pesticides tested. A recent study found that chronically ill humans had higher levels of glyphosate in their urine”

  49. BilB

    I’m not sure how you can live with yourself. Why are you saying I wrote that? I would never write something as deceptive and unscientific as that.

  50. Here, Jumpy, is another little factual by Karen

    Genetically Modified Foods Labeling Program
    From a recent NY Times article: ‘Genetic Changes to Food May Get Uniform Labeling’. Executives from Pepsi-Co Con-Agra and about 20 other major food companies, as well as Wal-Mart and advocacy groups that favor labeling, attended a meeting in January in Washington. The results have brought about actions in Washington State, Connecticut, Vermont, New Mexico and Missouri, and a growing consumer boycott of some organic or “natural” brands owned by major food companies. Roughly 20 states are considering labeling requirements. Regardless of any legal *requirement*, if a consumer wants to know the origin of their food, they should not have to fight for the info. If Stevie Wonder decides he wants to wear blue, but his assistant thinks it doesn’t matter since he can’t see the difference anyway, doesn’t Mr. Wonder still have the right to be dressed in the color of his choice? Go to the website below, watch the info and sign the petition. The Ugly. The VERY Ugly. As it stands right now there is not enough NON Genetically modified foods to feed the nation. Monsanto’s patent on seeds and their mafia tactics in taking out organic farmers would be responsible for not enough non-GMO supply, and they should be accountable for the crime of that. To learn the role that Monsanto has in all of this genetically modified foods subject, please visit http://geneticroulettemovie.com/ Never-Before-Seen-Evidence points to genetically engineered foods as a major contributor to rising disease rates in the US population, especially among children. Gastrointestinal disorders, allergies, inflammatory diseases, and infertility are just some of the problems implicated in humans, pets, livestock, and lab animals that eat genetically modified soybeans and corn.

  51. I think that you and Karen are made for each other, Jumpy.

    Haha, condemnation implied due to perceived likeness of ideology?
    Your butthurtness with Karen has zero to do with me bud.
    I’m just eatin popcorn enjoying the show.
    Please, carry on.

  52. Although, I think Brians guests here would appreciate proof linking those words to Karen.
    You know, out of politeness and clarity and such.

  53. Unless this interchange returns to politeness and respect my inclination is to close it down.

    Meanwhile I’ll leave it open while I have some kip.

  54. Sir Jumpy the Green @59:

    Any chance of you jumping on board ?
    For Gandhis sake, think about it, at least.

    Why should I? For me taxation is the price of a civil society and I’m willing to pay it.
    One of these days you’ll wake up and realise that the less Rupert pays, the more you pay. That’s what defines him as a bludger – he’s not pulling his weight (and it’s not as if he needs the money).

  55. Brian, why are you allowing BilB to post stuff he says I wrote but clearly didn’t?

    BilB, please don’t. It’s not helping.

    Karen, I perceive that BilB was offended by the manner in which you commented on his sources.

  56. Karen, I haven’t yet responded to two matters you raised @ 52.

    My interest in climate change is personal. I spend money on it, though not much.

    You said:

    Farmers are major beneficiaries of free trade. What makes you think farmers want to be denied access to markets for their produce?

    It’s a bit more complex than that. Farmers from developing countries are often disadvantaged by ‘free’ trade, because farmers in developed countries tend to have access to better transport infrastructure and are often subsidised.

    Unfairness in the treatment of agricultural goods was one of the main reasons the World Trade Organisation talks at Cancun in 2003 failed. It’s a bit long, but here’s an excerpt from a piece I did for Webdiary on the Cancun talks in 2003:

    My final example is cotton. There are 25,000 cotton farmers in the US who receive a subsidy of $3.9 billion each year to produce a crop that is worth only $3 billion on the world market. This subsidy is larger than the US foreign aid budget to Africa, which in turn is comparable to the support the US gives to Israel. The effect of the subsidies is to threaten the viability of 10 million farmers in Africa and four countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali) where cotton is a staple crop.

    This issue was taken to the WTO. The answer included in the draft text at Cancun was as follows:

    The Director-General is instructed to consult with the relevant international organizations including the Bretton Woods Institutions, the Food and Agriculture Organisation and the International Trade Centre to effectively direct existing programmes and resources towards diversification of the economies where cotton accounts for major share of their GDP.

    In other words, sorry folks, we’re comfortable here thanks. Go and find something else to do and borrow some money to do it! Too bad that you are actually more efficient, with production costs less than one third of ours.

    The net harm done to those four countries was not more than a few hundred million dollars. Peanuts, really, but enough to cause problems with balance of payments, debt repayments, health and educational service provisions of the four countries as well as the farm viability for millions. These four countries have a combined population of 41 million and a combined GDP of about $40.7 billion, or a little less than the market value of the National Australia Bank. They are poor!

    Indeed the value of trade for the whole of Africa is estimated as a little less than Belgium’s.

    Cotton affects more countries than those four. I understand that it was the sheer parsimony, hypocrisy and the powerful symbolism of this WTO response on cotton that sent shock waves through the conference at Doha. This was how the development round was to be prosecuted in the raw reality.

  57. Well, no, farmers in developing countries generally benefit from genuine free trade because of comparatively low currency values and low labor costs.

    But certainly Indian GM BtCotton farmers have been huge winners and I applaud those left wing science bloggers who have come to the party.

    Shiva advocates economic autarky, the permanent maintenance of its peasant class and the eschewing of green revolution technologies. Such a policy course would almost certainly mean a dramatic collapse in living standards and a return to the types of famines that killed millions in the pre-Borlaug era. For whatever reason, a well-fed left wing elite in the West is captivated by this vision.

    But I’m surprised I need to spell these things out on a website that purports to be pro-science.

  58. Karen, I’ll respond to two matters. First this:

    But I’m surprised I need to spell these things out on a website that purports to be pro-science.

    This site is pro-science, but it isn’t a science site. I didn’t do any science beyond secondary school.

    I don’t mind being corrected, I welcome it, but I don’t expect to be poked in the eye at the same time.

  59. Secondly, I don’t consider myself corrected in this case. I’ve given an example, albeit from 2003, and you’ve countered with an assertion.

    Things seem very black and white in the land you live in. There is a lack of nuance so far in what we’ve been told about Shiva, GM, Bt cotton, India and farmer suicides, so I’ll try to maintain an open mind on all counts. I’m convinced there are dimensions to the story that have not been touched upon so far.

    On small farmers in developing countries and trade, in my full piece on Cancun, which I’ve just discovered is still there, I suggested that the case of cotton at Cancun would be pivotal, that developing countries had finally found their voice and made it clear that the bullying must stop, that trade negotiations would henceforth be bilateral or regional, and that developing countries are unlikely to sign stuff so disadvantageous on agriculture.

    It seems to me that most agreements have been constrained on agriculture, but I haven’t been following it as closely as I used to.

    Australia was always fairly open and it seems our farmers are now finding it hard to compete. Some produce is certainly being imported by supermarkets from developing countries, and you could be right in that farmers from those countries have in general fared better since Cancun.

    It’s just that I’m reluctant to accept free-floating assertions at face value, without argument or evidence.

  60. I given you a wealth of evidence, to which you seem impervious.

    Your one link that questions the consensus on the success of btcotton and suicide is a SciDev article from 2006 that contains claims but no statistics. As you are undoubtedly aware, no proper assessments had been made at that time. The SciDev site itself has swung around to a very strong pro-GM since that time.

    Shiva’s unravelling commenced with this article by Jon Entine.

    I also stumbled upon an old Quiggin thread in which you say in relation to GM in which you say:

    As I said further up, trust is a big factor in food choices. I don’t have the time or the qualifications to resolve the safety issue, so meanwhile I’d like the option of not eating the stuff.

    I will not comment here further as it appears pointless, but I will say that your suspicions about GM appear to be longstanding; deeply entrenched and unshakable; and in every way a carbon copy climate change denialism.

    Cheerio.

  61. zoot @ 71

    One of these days you’ll wake up and realise that the less Rupert pays, the more you pay. That’s what defines him as a bludger – he’s not pulling his weight

    He is just a human being, existing on this planet for a very short time, just like you and I.
    If you want to compare his contributions to tax revenue, GDP, philanthropy, employment or even GST to yours, then go ahead and show me if you ” out weight ” him.
    ( I prefer that in graph form. The more illustrative the better )

  62. He is just a human being, existing on this planet for a very short time, just like you and I.

    I’m sure you believe you’re making a profound point, but it escapes me.
    Did you think I was suggesting he was extra-terrestrial? Please explain?

  63. And as long as I’m here; Sir Jumpy the Green, you may find it enlightening to consider what Rupert’s Lord and Saviour had to say about the widow’s mite. It would relieve you of the need for pie charts.

  64. Karen, you hadn’t provided a lot of information, actually. There was a lot of emotion, and some vitriol, I thought, which made me wary of your views.

    Thanks for the Entine link. My apologies if you provided it earlier. If someone wrote that about me I think I’d crawl under a blanket and not come out! I have a good deal of respect for Mark Lynas, who has apparently parted company with Shiva. On the matter of her qualifications, I’m not concerned that she did her PhD in a Philosophy department, but I said at the outset that her qualifications were irrelevant to the fields in which she now operates. She does appear to mislead in how she presents herself as a scientist.

    His other criticisms, however, are more telling.

    Thanks also for the Quiggin link. I entered the thread at comment 57, and had comments @ 60, 70, 83 and 85. I had my head into the issues more back then and wouldn’t change my position a lot unless there was new information or unless I had the same immersion as then.

    I haven’t actually stated my position on GM on this thread.

    Firstly, I’d make a distinction between the use of GM in food and in other crops such as fibre. There are manifold problems in non-food GMs we haven’t canvassed here, such as superweeds, but the risks and the rewards are different from the use of GMs in food.

    In food I have concerns that GM is not thoroughly tested in the way pharmaceuticals are. Since the genetic changes are more substantial than you’d get from plant breeding, I’d prefer that they were.

    I think John Davidson made an excellent comment about the long term effects of metals and chemicals. This may be a bigger threat to humanity than global warming. The mammalian toxicologist I quoted on the Quiggin thread recently told me that he’s read a book where someone who had investigated the issue reckons the human race will be stuffed by about 2100 if we keep pumping chemicals into our everyday environment at the same rate. It’s worth thinking about and there were similar thoughts expressed on a Catalyst program recently.

    Please note that the same toxicologist said to me that he wouldn’t accept testing done in the USA. He’s worked there and says the place is too corruptible.

    One of our problems is that things are deemed OK until they are shown to cause harm, and that principle is enshrined in trade law. It’s the opposite of the precautionary principle.

    All that having been said, I think GM offers some hope in adapting plants to global warming. As a technology it can go further and faster than conventional breeding, which would seem to be be necessary.

    FWIW I think I’d give golden rice a tick in the circumstances. It’s probably worth the risk. I certainly wouldn’t be preventing people from growing or eating it.

    I haven’t taken offence at being likened to a climate denialist. It’s just dumb, and what you said of me is probably true of you too.

  65. zoot.
    If you want a conversation then start answering a few of the questions I put to you.
    Your conducting gotcha interview and ignoring any answers I give.
    We’re wasting each others time.

  66. Sir Jumpy the Green, (tugs forelock) I can’t answer your questions if I don’t understand them.
    But you’re right, I am wasting my time. Goodbye for now.

  67. Just in case some of that mud about climate denialism stuck.

    Climate denialists claim that an established body of science is wrong.

    With GM I’m not claiming anyone’s science is wrong. I’d simply prefer that they exercised more care in applying it.

    There are also issues that aren’t associated with the basic science, such as the questionable behaviour of corporations, the impact on farmers who want to maintain their organic certification etc.

    It was a garbage argument – basically name-calling.

  68. Brian: “It was a garbage argument – basically name-calling.”

    No, it is an accurate argument given your stated views, such as this:

    In food I have concerns that GM is not thoroughly tested in the way pharmaceuticals are. Since the genetic changes are more substantial than you’d get from plant breeding, I’d prefer that they were.

    According to a recent Pew survey of approx 3,500 American Association for the Advancement of Science scientists, 88% of scientists agree that GM is safe to eat. This is greater than the percentage who think humans are causing global warming.

    Extracts from the recent AAAS statement on gmo food labelling:

    The EU, for example, has invested more than €300 million in research
    on the biosafety of GMOs. Its recent report states: “The main conclusion to be drawn from the efforts of more than 130 research projects, covering a period of more than 25 years of research and involving more than 500 independent research groups, is that biotechnology, and in particular GMOs, are not per se more risky than e.g. conventional plant breeding technologies.” The World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the British Royal Society, and every other respected
    organization that has examined the evidence has come to the same
    conclusion: consuming foods containing ingredients derived from GM crops is no riskier than consuming the same foods containing ingredients from crop plants modified by conventional plant improvement techniques.

    The current testing regimes are also irrational because they don’t apply to the hundreds of food plant cultivars that have been developed by mutagenesis.

    It is also worth pointing out that some conventionally bred crops, such as the Lenape potato, have been withdrawn from the market because they expressed unusually high levels of natural toxins.

    The exaggerated concerns we often see with regards to GM is a psychological phenomena that has no grounding in the science.

    ps. I know I said I wasn’t going to comment further but your two additional comments warranted a reply, IMO.

  69. Karen, I’m out of time. I’ll get back to you later, but

    1. You are still abusing me.

    2. The AAAS statement looks interesting and on the face of it makes a difference.

  70. Huh? My comment is not abusive. All I’ve done is demonstrate your anti-science position in regards to GM.

    Your fear of chemicals

    I think John Davidson made an excellent comment about the long term effects of metals and chemicals. This may be a bigger threat to humanity than global warming.

    is also discordant with the scientific consensus and the available evidence, which includes increased longevity, thanks in no small part to “chemicals”.

    Science communicators spend a great deal of time trying to demystify chemicals, not that the public appears to listening.

  71. Karen; You say about Brian @82:

    Your fear of chemicals

    “I think John Davidson made an excellent comment about the long term effects of metals and chemicals. This may be a bigger threat to humanity than global warming.”

    is also discordant with the scientific consensus and the available evidence, which includes increased longevity, thanks in no small part to “chemicals”.

    The asbestos story of the sort of thing I was thinking about. Took years for the long term health problems associated with asbestos to come out. Then there was the rearguard fight to block the banning of asbestos by the asbestos companies. Then James Hardie restructuring in an attempt to avoid paying compensation…

    The way you are dealing with this reminds me of a debater trying to win a debate rather than someone trying to insert more balance into the GM issue.

  72. Lets not forget global contamination from lead in petrol and the decades long corporate rear guard action to maintain the polluting practice.

  73. Yes, but it is risible to site asbestos related illness as evidence that mankind faces some sort of chemical Armageddon. The WHO puts workplace and home deaths related to asbestos at about 110,000 per year. This is a tiny fraction of the approx 60 million deaths that occur annually. We have much better tools for detecting health threats today.

    There is no global threat to humanity created by “chemicals” and no peak chemistry, health or toxicology body anywhere in the civilised world, AFAICT, has ever made such an outrageous claim.

    Science education necessarily precludes needless fear mongering.

  74. There are several lines of argument opening up here. Not sure I have enough time to deal.

    On my own position being likened to climate denialism, the case is clear. Climate denialists say a whole body of established science is wrong. I’m doing no such thing. We are talking about the application of science here. We are assured that it’s safe to eat the results.

    All I’m saying is that I’m not confident enough in the testing procedures yet to make the personal decision to eat the stuff. Most likely it is safe. I don’t know. Certainly I doubt that genetically modified food presents the same threats as mad cow disease did.

    Now somehow I’m said to be afraid of chemicals. Well, yes I am, of the chemicals you get from an eastern brown snake bite or a redback spider, two organisms known around these parts. But I use 8-10 chemicals every day in the way of pills, drops and lotions. If I didn’t I’d be almost certainly dead from heart disease, mad from the lack of sleep and blind in one eye. I think of myself as living a chemically modified existence.

    Karen I think you come to your conclusions on too little information in this case.

    Time for some GMO-free grub now, I’ll get back to the chemical Armageddon later.

  75. On the so-called chemical Armageddon, I don’t have much definite at this stage, except a couple of alarming alerts. One from memory was a forum on coal seam gas assembled by a lecturer in the Agriculture Department of QU, possibly in 2011. One of the experts talked about, from memory, 23,000 industrial chemicals that had been released into the market, often with common household goods, that had not been vetted as to their health impacts.

    The second alert came recently from the mammalian toxicologist I referred to earlier, who told me he had read a book by an expert in the field who worried about the future of the human race for the same reason. It was a passing comment I didn’t follow up at the time, but when I see him next I’ll ask for more detail.

    Said toxicologist has a world-wide reputation. For example a few years ago when the Saudis were worried about their camels dying for unidentified reasons they assembled a team of cross-disciplinary experts. Of all the toxicologists in the world, he was the one chosen.

    What he read worried him, and if it worried him it worries me. I’ll be seeing him soon, so will follow up.

    Meanwhile there is plenty to worry about, short of an Armageddon. John D mentioned asbestos as an example of what corporates get up do if left to their own devices. I understand that asbestos cases in Australia are yet to peak. BilB mentioned leaded petrol. A Catalyst program recently linked the reduced incidence of aggressive crimes, such as assault, to the introduction of unleaded petrol. The same program, if memory serves, looked at the effects of lead on the young in places like Mt Isa and Broken Hill in terms of such things as autism and lower IQ as well as a propensity to violence.

    I wonder what you think of the work of the late Dick van Steenis who was one of the panel experts at QU. I think he began by linking asthma to power stations in Wales. He spoke at QU about the effects of coal mining on local populations in the Hunter Valley in terms of autism, IQ and various diseases. I recall him saying that open cut coal mining should not take place closer than 6 km from where people live. At the same time mining within 2 km of the centre of Wandoan had been approved. There are similar concerns at Acland near Oakey. He also said that in Australia the really fine micro-particles of concern are not even being measured. The safety standard only mentions coarse particles.

    There was an article Poisoning the Poor on van Steenis by George Monbiot in 1999, and an interview with Phillip Adams in 2011.

  76. According to a recent Pew survey of approx 3,500 American Association for the Advancement of Science scientists, 88% of scientists agree that GM is safe to eat.

    Sorry, I’m not impressed. Most scientists wouldn’t know a bee from a bull’s bum about GMOs. To me they often seem rather opinionated about topics in other fields of expertise. They should know what they don’t know. It’s not obligatory to have an opinion on everything.

    I don’t know whether GMOs are safe. I’m looking for someone credible and detached to guide me.

    I’m not aware of a credible survey of what scientists in general think about global warming, but I’d look to actual climate scientists for guidance – the 97%.

    The AAAS statement turns out to be a statement by the Board. You are no doubt aware that shortly after its publication 21 members wrote an open letter stating that the Board does not speak for them. Or so it is said.

    The AAAS statement does seem to reflect what the EU document said on safety, but I’m not sure it settles the matter. It’s too complicated to deal with here. If I get time I’ll do a post.

  77. “The AAAS statement turns out to be a statement by the Board. You are no doubt aware that shortly after its publication 21 members wrote an open letter stating that the Board does not speak for them.”

    21 members in an organisation with 125,000 members. This isn’t even worth commenting on. By the way, the AAAS members are strongly left leaning:

    Among AAAS members, 35% are 65 or older (compared to 24% of the public) with a median age of 59. Nearly a ¼ of AAAS members are retired. Among those members who are employed full time, 58% work for a university or college, 21% business or industry, 10% government and 9% for a non-profit organization.

    On the whole, AAAS members are strongly left-leaning and politically like-minded. In 2009, more than half self-identified as either liberal or very liberal, only roughly a third as moderate, and just 9 percent as conservative.

    AAAS membership also has a strong partisan skew with 55 percent identifying as a Democrat, 32 percent as Independent, and only 6 percent as Republican.

    The left-wing science team is being embarrassed by the left wing anti-science team. Anecdotes about dire warnings from individual scientists have no place in a serious discussion about the state of science.

  78. I don’t know if anyone actually takes Jumpy seriously, but it annoys me to see his assertions @ 21 go without a full rebuttal. So in addition to what Brian said previously, here are a few more points:

    – Jumpy claims that as minerals are owned by the states, only state governments give tax concessions to miners.

    This is incorrect as well as illogical. The federal tax exemptions/ subsidies that the Greens policy is talking about are diesel fuel rebates and depreciation treatment for company tax purposes.
    http://greens.org.au/sites/greens.org.au/files/Resourcing-A-Caring-Society.pdf
    State governments offer additional subsidies in some cases.

    – Jumpy claims that any new tax on pollution/ carbon tax will be reduced by the amount of compensation.

    The Abbott government did not remove the compensation when it removed the previous carbon tax, so this does not apply.

    – Jumpy claims that the Greens suggestion about changing superannuation arrangements that benefit the rich is the “funniest” of all the suggestions, and then goes on “earth to Christine”.

    There is widespread agreement that current arrangements do benefit the rich and that something needs to be done about them. It’s not even controversial. People might disagree about the whats, whys and hows, but Jumpy is the only person I’ve seen claiming it’s a joke.

    Earth to Jumpy.

    (Just for the record, I also think that the reason Jumpy ridicules Christine Milne personally is that he is drawing on sexism – he thinks it makes his argument stronger, because ‘everyone’ knows women are incompetent leaders and say silly things about money)

  79. Hi Val

    Firstly, noone take me seriously.
    But, many a true word is said in jest.

    The DFR can be used by every company that doesn’t use the road when doing business , when they do, then no rebate. Why would a farmer, fishing boat skipper or miner pay a levy for a service (road) not provided ?

    Jumpy claims that as minerals are owned by the states, only state governments give tax concessions to miners.

    No, the Australian Constitution ensures the States own the minerals, various Feds continue to impinge on State sovereignty.

    Jumpy claims that any new tax on pollution/ carbon tax will be reduced by the amount of compensation.

    Nope, I didn’t.

    There is widespread agreement that current arrangements do benefit the rich and that something needs to be done about them. It’s not even controversial. People might disagree about the whats, whys and hows, but Jumpy is the only person I’ve seen claiming it’s a joke.

    No, the issue was the ” Mega Rich “, they are self funded retirees not super rorters.

    ( As for the ” sexist ” label, listen to the Senate Inquiry into tax and you’ll find Milne is economically dumb as a post. As is Dastyari. Neither Know the difference between revenue and profit, avoidance and aversion or taxable jurisdictions.
    Both idiots, genitals have nothing to do with it )

    #alinskyfail

  80. Karen @ 97, it matters not how many members there are in the AAAS or what their political leaning are. What matters is who the authors on the open letter are, their qualifications and experience and what they said. For example, if an open letter on climate science was signed by any of James Hansen, now of Columbia University, Gavin Schmidt of NASA, Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute, or any number of other scientists, I’d pay a lot of attention.

    Anyway I googled and first found this piece in Treehugger, and then got lucky and found this piece by Steven M. Druker, Executive Director, Alliance for Bio-Integrity, which contains the full text of the open letter, which he apparently originated.

    It seems the AAS statement was a political intervention in the Californian election where a ballot initiative (Proposition 37) that would have required labelling of genetically modified (GM) foods in that state was up for voting. The letter claims that the AAAS statement was false and misleading in important ways. It addresses the European study and also comments on the role of the Food and Drug Administration, saying in part:

    Even the evaluation conducted by the biotechnology task force of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) concluded that GM foods pose an unusual set of risks. This was exposed when the lawsuit headed by the public interest organization I direct forced the FDA to divulge its files. For example, Dr. Louis Pribyl of the FDA Microbiology Group wrote, “There is a profound difference between the types of unexpected effects from traditional breeding and genetic engineering….” He added that some aspects of gene splicing “…may be more hazardous.”

    It is alleged that the FDA have suppressed the findings of its own scientific panel.

    People can make up their own minds, but for the present I’d like labelling of GM foods and the option not to eat the stuff.

  81. Which confirms the point that you are on the anti-science team and that the only reason you’re on the climate science bandwagon is because it happens to align with your political prejudices.

    Steve Druker is of course a crank lawyer who is currently spruiking a conspiracy theory book, Altered Genes Twisted Truth.

  82. Good God. Steve Druker is the executive vice president of the Maharishi Institute. The Maharishi Institute is of course an Indian mystic cult movement that teaches yogic flying. Clearly you are an anti-science troll and not worth bothering with.

  83. Karen, our comments policy asks people to engage in a respectful manner. Your continued characterisations of me breach that policy.

    I’ll reply more fully later but the Maharishi Institute of Management doesn’t present as a cult. It stems from a different culture with no doubt different values and a somewhat different concept of the self. The main yogic practice used is Transcendental Meditation, which is as far as I can see is a benign but helpful meditation practice designed from yogic practice but adapted to better suit Westerners.

    Some people may take fright at it, but I know how it works, and there is nothing hocus pocus about it.

  84. Maharishi is the cult behind the Natural Law Party. Here is a picture of Jeffrey Smith, the author of Seeds of Deception and a fellow Maharishi cult member doing some yogic flying when he was a Natural Law Party candidate back in 1996.

    How can you possibly call this a pro-science site? I quote the scientific consensus on GM, you pooh-pooh it then draw the attention of your readership to widely debunked non-scientists and yogic flyers like Druker. Can you imagine how this looks?

  85. What a tangled web we weave! Karen, I’ve had some useful leads from you, but I’ve had to to some hard yakka myself, while being heckled from the sideline.

    Do you know anything about the European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility apart from the fact that they backed a paper by one Dr Séralini, which turned out to be a dud? They commented extensively on the EU paper.

    In general terms you appear to be right about Steve Druker himself. Can we leave aside the Maharishi Institute of Management for a moment? It’s accredited in the Indian academic system and their management courses may be better or worse or about the same as management courses elsewhere. I think management education is highly problematic.

    Here it’s basically a distraction. More important, I think, may be Druker’s beliefs in relation to natural law, which in itself is something we should all think about. In Druker’s hands, however, it seems to morph into a belief that nature is always good, which is just as ridiculous as saying that science is always good. Nature can be beastly!

    I went looking for Druker’s book and found Dr Terry Simpson’s review. It seems like an enormous own goal and it’s not surprising that it’s self-published. Lawyers should not attempt to write complex science.

    Nevertheless the letter that Druker co-ordinated (I’d suggest he didn’t write it) raises issues that need to be addressed one by one. The letter exists apart from Druker.

    Central for me is the issue of testing and regulation. Simpson says the FDA “have a regulatory process and do NOT say that all GE is generally recognized as safe”. On what basis do they make a decision? We keep being assured that testing is thorough and comprehensive. From the EU paper:

    The reader will note that recent projects dealing with the development of new products and processes based on GMO technology fully integrate safety assessments in their conception, experimentation and development.

    No-one has said in plain English how this is done. My understanding was that the FDA had a special dispensation for GMOs because using the same standards as for pharmaceuticals was too onerous on the companies. If those standards were applied there would be no GM crops.

    So what do the companies do, and what does the FDA do, exactly?

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