Saturday salon 28/4

1. Computer hard drive 1956

Here’s a photo of an IBM 5 megabyte computer hard drive from 1956:

The hard-drive in the picture, most likely the IBM Model 305 RAMAC, only had room to hold 6 copies of that actual image.

    The hard-drive wasn’t even available for purchase — a company could lease the storage for around $3,200 a month, the equivalent of $28,000 today when you account for inflation.

Here’s a current portable hard-drive that fits in your back pocket and can hold two terabytes, about 400,000 times more space than the first hard drive — and that costs less than $60:

2. The live sheep trade is at death’s door

It’s hard to get an objective read on the live sheep trade issue, passions are engaged on both sides of the debate. Craig Emerson is a rational person who was minister for trade when the Gillard government called a halt to the live beef trade for five weeks in 2011. His comments make interesting reading.

The bottom line is that the trade can never be both humane and economic. He says that the rules state that sheep should have enough room to lie down. If they did you couldn’t get enough on the boat to make it pay.

He says agriculture minister David Littleproud has called for an independent review, but how independent is it?

    The veterinarian appointed to conduct the external review, though eminently qualified, has been integrally involved in an industry that has failed to protect animal welfare. A far better choice would have been the Australian Chief Veterinary Officer. From the minister’s public statements, the government’s presumption is that the long haul, live sheep export industry can continue without horrific animal suffering, when all the evidence suggests it cannot.

He says:

    It is a sunset industry. Our live-sheep exports have declined from more than six million head in the early 2000s to less than two million. Four-fifths of those exports are from Western Australia.


    A recent economic study by Pegasus Economics, whose team includes former senior public servants and an assistant auditor-general, estimates that the cessation of the live sheep export trade would result in an annual loss of around $9 million for West Australian farmers. But it could also facilitate the engagement of around 350 employees for West Australian sheep-meat processors.

Moreover, farmers engaged in supplying the trade do not depend on it as their sole income stream.

The figures in the Pegasus report have been challenged, but Emerson says more images like we’ve recently seen will damage our reputation as a clean and ethical supplier of food, with a cost more than the industry is worth. So:

    Come on Minister [Mr Littleproud], make us all a little proud and end the animal suffering on these cruel long haul voyages.

3. Politics on a knife edge

Newspoll at the beginning of the week had Labor 51-49 in front, but that would still leave the LNP with 76 seats and Labor well short of the treasury benches. The change from 52-48 two weeks earlier had been wrought by everything staying the same except the Greens had gone from 10 to 9 and ‘Other’ had gone from 8 to 9.

Essential Report has the Greens on 11, and TPP remaining at 53-47 to Labor, so good luck with all that.

Paula Mathewson thinks we could have an election by August or September this year on the back of tax cuts and budget goodies targeted at low to middle income earners.

Katherine Murphy says the election will be a budget contest as Labor to match Coalition in dumping Medicare levy rise as tax battle lines redrawn.

Meanwhile the number of Australians who earned more than $1m a year yet paid no tax has surged 30% to now reach 62.

Behind those 62 there is a phalanx of people who came close:

    But in the 2015-16 financial year, 59 millionaires claimed to have taxable income below $6,001, one claimed to have taxable income between $6,001 and $10,000, and two claimed to have taxable income between $10,001 and $18,200, putting them all below the tax-free threshold.

    None of them paid the Medicare levy.

    Twenty-two reduced their taxable income to zero by claiming a combined $4.34m for the “cost of managing tax affairs” – nearly $198,000 each.

    Fourteen claimed gifts or donations worth $54.9m to help them do so.

Time for a dose of Ross Gittins, who points out that those heroic self-funded retirees have cost the government more in cash concessions than they would have received on the pension.

While the media obsesses about how Labor wants to shave a bit off the incomes of the rich it ignores this government’s war against the poor, with a bill recently passed with Pauline Hanson’s help:

    You’ve heard the news that homelessness is much more prevalent than we thought. According to the Australian Council of Social Service, the Senate’s passing of the Orwellian Welfare “Reform” Bill will, in its first year, add to homelessness by cutting off payments to more than 80,000 people.

    The bill contains 17 measures that will adversely affect the lives of thousands of the unemployed, single parents and women and children escaping violence.

    You’ve never seen such a list of pettifogging nastiness, yielding tiny savings to the budget.

    The unemployed will no longer be back-paid to the day they lodged their claim, meaning the longer Centrelink takes to process that claim, the longer the jobless go without (or have to go cap-in-hand to outfits like the Salvos) and the more pennies the government saves.

    Let’s hope it doesn’t make lengthening processing times a KPI.

    Until now, the legislation has protected people who can’t complete and lodge their claim because they’re in hospital, are homeless, are escaping domestic violence, or are victims of natural disaster or fire. Sorry, such pathetic excuses will no longer be accepted.

4. Other news

In other important news, the new royal is to be named Louis, Abba have written two new songs after 35 years, Bill Cosby was found guilty on all three counts but put on a show in court calling the district attorney an “a****hole” perhaps so that his team can claim dementia, and Kim amd Moon met at the border, held hands, crossing it back and forwards, declaring peace in our times:

Elsewhere Stormy Daniels is on a national tour and a mission:

    The New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd recently referred to Trump as “the first porn president”. If so, Daniels is trumping Trump at his own game.

    Her national tour, twisting his campaign slogan, is called Making America Horny Again. He screwed her, she seems to be telegraphing, so now she is going to screw him.

Trump has now admitted that lawyer Michael Cohen represents him, but the judge has put Daniel’s matter on hold while the criminal charges against Cohen proceed.

Here’s Stormy, getting into her routine, with clothes on:

117 thoughts on “Saturday salon 28/4”

  1. I have been distracted lately and may have missed Clive Palmers intention to mine coal in the Galilee Basin. There’s a pretty good ABC link here:

    It is hard to believe that Palmer is fair dinkum about this considering it may not produce coal until 2030 and the market may not exist by then. And then there is Palmers diminished credibility or integrity following his nickel fail that will inhibit his ability to fund the project.
    But all that aside it is time that government, or government-in-waiting, took a clear stand on mining the Galilee basin.

    I will (note please Geoff M) write to Warren Entsch member for Leichardt. and offer my humble opinion and intention to not vote for LNP

  2. Geoff Henderson (Re: APRIL 28, 2018 AT 10:42 AM):

    I will (note please Geoff M) write to Warren Entsch member for Leichardt. and offer my humble opinion and intention to not vote for LNP

    Good on you, Geoff H. Perhaps you could draw his attention to Ian Dunlop’s op-ed headlined Climate Change: The fiduciary responsibility of politicians & bureaucrats, dated April 26, link here, while you are at it.

    Yesterday afternoon I rang the offices of:
    Andrew Gee MP – Federal Member for Calare;
    Paul Toole MP – NSW Member for Bathurst;
    Australian Prime Minister’s Office;
    NSW Premier’s Office;
    Mark Butler MP – Federal Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy;
    Luke Foley MP – NSW Leader of the Opposition;
    Adam Bandt MP – Australian Greens spokesperson on energy and climate change;
    Jeremy Buckingham MLC – NSW Greens spokesperson on energy and resources

    to draw attention to Ian Dunlop’s article.

  3. Ah back in the good old days when computers had gravitas. As I keep saying I learned to program FORTRAN on BHP’s second computer. The computer filled a large room down at the steelworks. Rows of cabinets and tapes. In put was made using punched cards. Not sure how much capacity it had but much of what i did was relatively simple array algebra. I seemed to remember that it couldn’t handle much more than a few 11×11 arrays. Larger programs involved splitting up the program, putting the results of the first part on tapes, using these results as input into the next part etc. The tapes were about 1000 mm dia and had to be loaded on and off the writer/readers by hand.
    These young fella programmers just don’t understand how hard we old fellas had it.

  4. Luxury JD, luxury. We had to put pencil marks on cards and load them into a machine that devoured them in seconds. Sometimes it worked…

  5. Good on you, GeoffM. That is powerful, make your presence felt. The politicians have got to learn that people are serious about Climate Action and their actions are being measured.

    We really do need to find tactics to ramp up the pressure rapidly.

  6. Luckily Government legislators agencies such as NASA and the Department of Defense made them better…


  7. We had a machine that punched holes in cards which you then had to stack in a sort of shoe box, in the correct order, and take over to the computer building in the afternoon.

    Computer had a try overnight.
    Output the next morning was a sheet of paper listing all the errors detected, e.g. typo on a card, cards out of order, and then possibly an error in the programming logic.

    Young folk nowadays’ve got nobloodyidea what real work is. Slaving for weeks over some Fortran thingamajig that a bloody “app” can do now. “Ape” more like. Kids!!! In my day, phones had proper circular dials.

  8. FIFY
    Nonsense, Capitalism made computers better.
    Citizens voluntarily tradeing capital for innovation.
    Thus that same capital, now in the hands if innovators, encourages more innovation.
    Government forced innovation is minuscule in comparison.

  9. Government forced innovation is minuscule in comparison.

    Without innovation initiated by the Governments you so despise, we wouldn’t have computers at all.
    The Hollerith cards which we are remembering so fondly are the result of the US Government needing a speedy way to tabulate the census. Hollerith’s company (the Tabulating Machine Company) became IBM – famous for its anticompetitive business practices (a bit like Microsoft later in the century).
    The first true electronic computer was ENIAC, a response to the need of the US Government’s Ballistic Research Laboratory for ballistics tables, and lots of them. Unfortunately the war finished before it was completed but it did prove its worth by running some of the first calculations in the development of the hydrogen bomb – definitely a government project.

    Your habit of argument by assertion is tedious (to say the least) and arrogant. Try tempering it with a bit of evidence every now and again. As things stand all you’re doing is testifying to your beliefs and after the thousandth iteration we all know what they are.

  10. aw zoot, be fair

    If that damn H-bomb had been left to private enterprise, hell, you woulda got more thermonuclear bang for your buck; three competing models with ad campaigns; stock market stampede on hydrogen futures; finishing up with a Senate inquiry into whether Bikini Corp had cornered the market in A-bomb detonators with deceptive practices.

    What’s not to like??

  11. That is total BS Jumpy.

    Most innovation occurs in Universities ie Government funded institutions.

    Private industry has in fact stepped away from R&D. Private industry is really good at cashing in on ideas stolen from other people, though, and this may be what has given you the impression that you have.

  12. What is there to be noticed in the hard drive photo are the shoulder straps the movers are using to lift the box. This is how things were done before tailgate lifters. Piano movers still use the technique.

  13. BilB too true. ‘Industry has also stepped away from training workers. I have seen ads for graduates “with two years experience”.
    As far as pinching ideas go, I am just starting to look at the misuse
    (aka theft) of indigenous intellectual property. IP legislation is couched in European terms and there are issues related to recognising indigenous IP ownership of concepts, property, art and more. How to improve that I don’t know yet. The problem is not limited to Australia, indigenous communities all over the world have had the IP shamelessly purloined without permission, acknowledgement or compensation. For fun, Google “boomerang patents” and explore that. For some more insights, and Jumpy I think you would like this, go to:

    In Mossman, Queensland a tropical garden is being planned. It is among other things, a depository for tropical plants along the lines of the seed depository on Spitsbergen, Norway. It turns out that some tropical plants cannot be preserved in a chilled form, and so it falls to the Mossman project to preserve various flora in perpetuity. Indigenous IP will need to be understood and respected as a part of that project.

  14. The Hollerith cards which we are remembering so fondly are the result of the US Government needing a speedy way to tabulate the census.

    Not true, the census adaptation was but one of many in a long evolution of punch card innovations by non government inventors.

    If Governments are going to splash huge amounts of money around for innovation, innovator get the credit not governments. Next you’ll be lionising Nanny State for everything Elon Musk has done.

    The evidence is in. If North v South Korea and East v West Germany experiments don’t convince you about innovation , nothing will.

  15. DDR was way ahead on doping athletes. What’s not to like?
    Gold, gold, gold for Socialist Man and Woman.

  16. zootmeister

    Didn’t we do ARPANET a while back?

    Deja vu Is just so last month!!

  17. … the census adaptation was but one of many in a long evolution of punch card innovations …

    And it occurred because the government needed a way to tabulate census results in a timely manner. Without that impetus the cards would have remained an artifact of the weaving industry.
    You seem blissfully unaware that there are enterprises which capitalists judge too risky for them to undertake – the space race of the 60s comes to mind. Without government underwriting the risk, Neil Armstrong would never have reached the moon.
    Innovation occurs within capitalism but more often than not it is because a government is funding it.
    Your favoured dichotomy of “government bad, private good” is simplistic and inaccurate.

  18. It’s a worry zoot: too much deja vu just gives me this spooky feeling of, I dunno, deja vu?

    [Would it be more pleasant to deal with circular definitions and tautology?]

    Your “govt bad, private good” has a ring of farmyard frolics to it:

    Four legs good, two legs better
    – Eric Blair, writing as George Orwell.

    Praise the binaries!!

  19. The US went to the moon because they were in the Cold War and wanted to save face because the Russian was kicking their arse in everything space related.

    And a particularly useless and expensive exercise for what ?
    I can’t think of a single thing that benefited Humanity by putting a flag on the moon.

  20. Ah, Jumpy I saw Sputnik sailing overhead from our Sydney home. It was amazing.
    What it did, unashamedly, was galvanise the west into making a huge emphasis on science. Even at school, there was a notable shift, and that new attention to science had enormous impacts. Electronics was one area that was positively affeted.
    If you had been there Jumpy, you would have seen and felt the change and I don’t think you would have written your last comment.

  21. I’m sure that there is a huge long list, but silicone glue, micropore insulation (glass top cookers), the knowledge of the dangers of sub micron particles entering the body, freeze dried food, image sensors used in cell phone cameras, space blankets, cochlea implants, dust busters, tele medicine, the game joystick, non refelctive displays, ear thermometers, satelite gps navigation, 3d virtual reality, satelite tv, for starters.

  22. Ahh yes, that incredible knowledge + the feelings, that’s lowering poverty all right.

  23. Solving poverty is the responsibiulity of the rich people, you know, the ones who have most of the wealth in the world. Direct your comments to they who have untold trillions of dollars swashing around the world through tax havens.

    The United Nations are willing to help those people keep a track of that money with a global transaction tax, if only their puppet politicians would allow that to happen.

  24. How does one lawfully, without being the author of Laws, become rich if not by accumulation of voluntary transactions for the benefit of both parties ?

    If you have a problem with enforcement of laws don’t blame or envy the rich, blame government.

    At any rate, way to dodge any responsibility toward poverty BilB, keep star gazing, your empathetic duty ends with a tweet or blog comment demanding others act.

  25. Ambi: You had it pretty easy if you could get a list of errors in one go. The beast i learned on stopped as soon as it found the first error.
    By the end of the sixties we had phone link to a computer in Sydney. You could load using a tape, attempt to run and correct online. Decadence.

  26. Jumpy et al: Applied science is built on progress in pure science and mathematics. Some private companies that compete by being technically ahead do in fact do pure science but the bulk of their research spending is spent on research that converts new ideas generated by pure science.
    When I was facilitating mining industry group research projects some companies supported pure research but a lot of the money went into stuff that might create tools and techniques that the companies had a shared need for. (Cooperative research worked for mining and mineral processing because mining companies tend to compete on the basis of the mineral deposits they owned. We found it didn’t get much support for smelting because smelting companies all tended to start with the same feed and competed in terms on the smartness of their technology.)
    Having said all the above it is things like defense and space races that led to a lot of the gains made during my lifetime.

  27. John D

    Quite correct. It stopped at the first error. After all, why should it be bothered going any further. “Computer says No.”

  28. Space Race, of course it was linked to the Cold War and ICBMs and scientific/engineering competition.

    It’s just that nothing in warfare, politics and science is ever isolated from people, governments, economic transactions, historical influences and the whole damn thing.

    You know that Jump. Deep down you know that.

    So why simplify the story?
    The truth, the whole splendid, terrible, tragic and profitable truth is laid out like a banquet.

    What a pity to restrict your attentions to the dry biscuits and bottled water.

  29. Yes John, and many innovations happen from millions of tries and failures, far too many to leave to government.
    1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.
    For inspiration I’m backing everyone combined rather than Government.

    And some are just accidents looking for something else.

  30. I can’t think of a single thing that benefited Humanity by putting a flag on the moon.

    That’s probably because you’re unaware of most of them.
    As an addendum to Bilb’s list at 4:48 pm, try this, and notice how innovations which owe their existence to government projects (and government capital) flow on to benefit private enterprise.
    Here’s a fuller accounting.

  31. Jumpy, if you listened to Sarah Kendzior’s second youtube you would see that she is talking about people who just ignore the law, just as Trump does routinely.

    Apart from that Jumpy I can only do my bit, which for me is trying to make it so that the people, such as those who work for you, can afford to buy a house of their own.

  32. GeofH,

    As it turns out, Pascale on Mirrool (see Free Range Sailing) a yacht heading your way quite soon, is a Lawyer with an interest in Aboriginal art. So keep an eye on the Marina up there and get on down to have a chat with her when she and Troy turn up. She just might have some ideas for you.

  33. Geoff Henderson (Re: APRIL 28, 2018 AT 12:24 PM):

    BYW how did your calls go? Any response?

    The calls were only brief (approximately 90 seconds each) to draw attention to Ian Dunlop’s op-ed. I was not expecting a reply.

    The staffer at Mark Butler’s office informed me that Mark Butler had made a speech on this subject earlier in the year.

    In most cases I walked them through finding the article on the internet (over the phone), but some staffers made excuses that their computer had many windows/applications open and they resisted looking for the article online, and I can only take their word that they noted my conversation and would pass the information on to the relevant parliamentarian.

    That’s all that I intended to do – a small act that hopefully gets some of them thinking, and acting responsibly. The more people who spend a few minutes highlighting these important pieces of information to our leaders, the more likely they might get the message.

    May I suggest you try ringing your state and federal members and your state premier and opposition leader and anyone else that may be influential (you’re in Queensland, yes?). I think doing it by email is less personal, and possibly could get lost/overlooked in the blizzard of other emails.

  34. JD at April 29, 2018, at 6:58 pm
    Yes, what happens is that technology is brought into being and companies find associated uses for that technologies so that later users of the science stand on the shoulders of previous science. A good example is the development of computer abilities to permit new software to develop. Then it came to hardware being developed to enable more ambitious software to be developed. Science keeps on giving Jumpy… to not see that flow of ideas is odd.

  35. Bilb April 29, 2018, at 10:34 pm
    Thanks for the heads up. Have you a contact number or email I can use? If you ask Brian to forward it to me that will retain privacy.

  36. Geoff,

    Science keeps on giving Jumpy… to not see that flow of ideas is odd.

    I can certainly see that, no problem there.

    What I find odd is that some can’t see that in pre-capitalist times, when everything was owned and financed by the King/Emperor/Government,Innovation and Science was advancing at glacial pace for centuries. Then alone came Capitalism and the pace has accelerated to almost break neck speed where kids are teaching their parents about the latest things.

    Absolute poverty levels were astronomicaly high in pre-capitalist time, plummeted since.

    Literacy levels mirror this too.

    How the likes of zoot could be anti-that is baffling.

  37. in pre-capitalist times, when everything was owned and financed by the King/Emperor/Government,Innovation and Science was advancing at glacial pace for centuries.


    Then alone came Capitalism the Enlightenment and the pace has accelerated to almost break neck speed


    BTW, have you educated yourself yet regarding the benefits of the space race to Humanity? Arguing from ignorance is not a good look.

  38. Ahh, The Enlightenment gave Capitalism or Capitalism gave The Enlightenment debate. Nice one zoot.
    Now there’s something to get our teeth into.

    Marx gave the 16 th Century as the seeds of Capitalism. Then The Enlightenment was in the early 18 th and the rocket gained huge thrust in the late 18th with The Industrial Revolution.

    A few graphs on absolute poverty rates, infant mortality rates, etc over the last say 600 years should help.

    Before that was pretty much universal poverty for everyone but the King/Emperor/Government. Picture the darkest periods of communism.

  39. Hmmm,

    Heard of the mathematics and science in Ancient Greece?
    Heard of Athenian democracy? Yes, the slaves were excluded.

    Heard of Arabian science, and the Arabs’ veneration and conservation of Greek thought through Greek manuscripts?
    No Arab emperor.

    Ancient Chinese science, the odd occasional emperor, but in some periods a meritocratic public service.

    Roman architecture, engineering, botany, etc. Some emperors, some periods with elected reps.

    Don’t take Mr Marx’s word for any of this Jump. He had an axe to grind. There have been plenty of more recent historical discoveries and insights since 1850 that have increased knowledge. Marx and Engels would be forgotten now, but for the Bolshevik advertising blitz.

    Capitalism and the Enlightenment.
    Capitalism and the Protestant work ethic.
    Capitalism and Dutch mercantile genius.
    Capitalism and British Industrial systems.
    Capitalism and Spanish conquests in the Americas.
    Capitalism and US Robber Barons.
    Capitalism and Mussolini’s Fascism.
    Capitalism and the Amelioration of the Business Cycle.

    Take your pick.

  40. I await Jump’s erudite exposition of the steps Capitalism took to ensure Einstein’s Annus Mirabilis.

    BTW correlation is still not causation.

  41. Here’s a somewhat radical critique which shines some light on how innovation is not a defining characteristic of Capitalism.
    Jump will disagree in the strongest terms (wood, trees, etc) 🙂

  42. How the likes of zoot could be anti-that is baffling.

    I confess to bewilderment at this snark since it is even more opaque than the usual word salad. But after some consideration I think I’ve got it.
    Because the esteemed Jump sees things only in simple binaries, it appears he believes my arguments against unregulated capitalism constitute an attack on capitalism per se.
    Similarly, my insistence that free markets don’t exist in the real world is taken as evidence that I believe markets should be done away with.
    He’s wrong on both counts.

  43. Jump,

    Since you now cite Marx as an authority on economic history,
    Happy May Day!!

    “…for the union makes us strong….

  44. Strong indeed, I’ll be working and paying some of my men not to. The other won’t be working and will have a short pay this week.

    I was thinking of forming a Subcontractor Union of Employers ( SUE ) to collectively bargain but am told I could go to jail if I did.

    I don’t think I’d like that, but you’ll need check with zoot on my beliefs and the way I really see it.

  45. What a time to evoke Marx, who’s bicentennial birthday will be in a few days. Happy Birthday Karl Marx. You were right!

    Similarly, self proclaimed “erratic Marxist” Yanis Varoufakis, former Greek finance minister who has cut his teeth for many years as professor of Economics around world including in Australia, has it that Marx predicted our present crisis – and points the way out.

    Anyone reading the (Communist) manifesto today will be surprised to discover a picture of a world much like our own, teetering fearfully on the edge of technological innovation. In the manifesto’s time, it was the steam engine that posed the greatest challenge to the rhythms and routines of feudal life. The peasantry were swept into the cogs and wheels of this machinery and a new class of masters, the factory owners and the merchants, usurped the landed gentry’s control over society. Now, it is artificial intelligence and automation that loom as disruptive threats, promising to sweep away “all fixed, fast-frozen relations”. “Constantly revolutionising … instruments of production,” the manifesto proclaims, transform “the whole relations of society”, bringing about “constant revolutionising of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation”

    A rather lengthy and dense read with a sharp summary.

    What the Marxist manifesto promotes in moments of doubt and submission is a clear-headed, objective assessment of capitalism and its ills, seen through the cold, hard light of rationality.

    Nowhere is that argument more clearer in contemporary terms than the present situation with the banking inquiry and the BCA public campaign for tax cuts. Josh Bernstein sums it up

  46. Continue from above

    We live in an era increasingly defined by the blurring of public and private interests. From labour laws to climate change, corporate rent seeking has become a political commonplace.

    The private sector is not alone in lobbying politicians. Far from it. It’s just that it possesses the resources and relentless capacity to out-lobby all of the others. We live in an era in which the private sector enjoys enormous political influence and frequently uses that influence to increasingly blur the line between public and private interests.

    In Tony Abbott is right. Australia really is open for business

  47. You won’t get away with nuance and fine distinctions here, mr z.

    None so blind as those that will not see, Mr A.

  48. I do share a vehement disgust at corporate rent seeking.
    It’s totally at odds with the principals with Free Market Capitalism.
    And a mainstay of socialism.

  49. Thank you for sharing.

    And I hope you don’t mind me asking, but are you a Van Halen Jump, or a Pointer Sisters Jump? (now that you’re no longer a Ted Mulry)

  50. Oh those naughty socialist rent seekers in the sugar industry. Take it from David Leyonhjelm:

    “The sugar industry are the biggest pack of featherbedding bludging rent-seekers ever”.

    Since 1990-91, the Productivity Commission estimates the sugar industry has received almost $2 billion in tariff, marketing and budgeting assistance from the government. That’s more than $400,000 for every one of the 4000 farms in the industry. Yet when it comes to health impacts of sugar, Senator George Christensen thinks the focus should be on personal responsibility.

    Good estimation has it that a 30 per cent reduction in kilojoules in all sugar-sweetened drinks would not only reverse Australia’s obesity crisis, but drastically reduce the number of people succumbing to obesity-related diseases such as stroke, type 2 diabetes and kidney cancer.

    “The reduction would deliver cost savings of $8 billion and avert at least 155,000 premature deaths, including 47,000 from type 2 diabetes alone.”

    But no we have to keep those socialist rent seekers such as Coca-Cola, Pepsico, Unilever, Nestle and Kelloggs happy.

  51. Hi Ootz

    It’s the murderous thugs who set up dictatorships worse than the Russian Czars, worse probably than Chinese emperors, on a par with Batista in Cuba…… and did this in the names of millions of workers, farmers, peasants, landless…. whom I have an issue with.

    Allegedly following a bloke who wanted to see the poor liberated from capitalist and bourgeois tyranny.

    But the Dead Are Many
    -Frank Hardy, Australian loyal member of the Communist Party for many decades.

    Some of the alleged followers of Christ also strayed far from the founding principles of that faith of peace, love, brotherhood and forgiveness.

    Human lust for power seems to lurk in every continent and every era.

    Here endeth the sermon.
    Pax vobiscum.
    Alle Menschen werden Brueder

  52. “The Age ” online.

    ‘Victorian Govt furious as Turnbull takes credit for French solar deal.’

  53. Ootz
    Although that link is paywalled I’d agree with David Leyonhjelm, my attitude toward any subsidy is clear

    Not sure about Coca-Cola being predominantly evil sugar dealers. Go to any store and they supply many sugar free alternatives, even water. It’s up to the purchaser.
    Any wannabe sugar Gestapo needs to convince the purchaser, that’d be more effective.

  54. A public health advocate who wants to see less sugar used in processed foods, or a “sugar tax” introduced so that manufacturers have incentives to produce less sugary items, doesn’t deserve the label


  55. Unconfirmed report last week that Mossman mill, just north of Port Douglas may close. That came up during a discussion about buying power from the mill. Closure would have a profound affect on the area and its commercial base but not affect sugar consumption. Of course there is a strong chance it is posturing up for a government hand-out.
    But given the latest initiatives to save the reef to shut down sugar in the Mossman area might not be as bad as it could be. After 100+ years of cane the soil really needs added nutrients regularly. And the nitrogen cycle is a bit weird with only ~30% getting to the plant itself.
    Not sure what else would be done with the land, some has gone over to cattle . Medicinal marijuana would probably be popular….

  56. Lol, ok, how about wannabe sugar KGB or wannabe sugar Jihadists ?

    Substitute any freedom hateing social engineering enforcers.

  57. As my Leyonhjelm link above outlines, the sugar industry has a chronic bout of bad decisions all around, lack of decent leadership, lazy subsidies and rusted on politics.

    For a while the Tablelands sugar growers, where I live, use to supply their cane to Mossman rather than the one on the Tablelands because of a combination of above outlined malaise. To supply a rival mill up to 100 kilometres away has meant residents in Mareeba, Mount Molloy and Julatten have endured an extra 40,000 truck movements through their towns. It also caused unnecessary major damage to road networks, burned tonnes of diesel and would have costed a small fortune in transport costs.

    The clever cane farmers move on, up here on better soils Avocado and Blue Berry is the fashion atm. Smaller productive ones get swallowed up by Agribusiness. Less productive stagger on and there is always beef. There are a few truly innovating local farmers in the region but generally most resort to greenie bashing as light relieve and a distraction. See the hullabaloo around the new land clearing legislation.

    From my Josh Bernstein link above,

    On 5 February (2014), a Health Star website designed to provide ratings on processed food products to promote healthier eating habits went live. The website was a joint federal-state government initiative. On the same day, Gary Dawson, the head of the lobby group for the food industry, the Food and Grocery Council, swung into action. He called the office of the assistant minister for health, Fiona Nash. Her chief of staff, Alistair Furnival, had links to the lobbying company Australian Public Affairs, which had junk food companies as clients. Later that day, the website was removed.

    So what hope do ordinary punters have to inform and educate themselves against literally wall to wall of ‘unbalanced’ information. What choice do we taxpayers have in coughing up for the 8 Billion buckaroos to cover the health issues brought on by the Sugar mafia and corrupt politics?

  58. For information, Coca Cola Amatil makes and markets a huge range of products, including soft drinks, water, food and alcohol.

    Coke and other soft drinks have about 10 teaspoons of sugar in a serve, which I take to be a 375 ml can.

    Any way it’s 10-12 per cent, far too much and it’s killing people.

    I heard someone today on the radio saying that official dietary guidelines formulated in the US about 30 years ago, and largely adopted here, had no basis in the science of the time, and include far too much refined carbohydrates.

    It wouldn’t bother me if there were official limits on the amount of sugar in drinks and foods.

    Bob Katter says that the global sugar market is the most corrupted of any commodity. He’s probably right.

  59. Ootz

    On damage to roads, I heard years ago that the damage done by a vehicle is proportional to the fourth power of the vehicle mass. So a big truck does enormous damage.

    Do councils recoup road repair funds in a fair way from those who do the damage? Or does society subsidise that part of the tooth rot obesity ethanol production industry?

  60. Brian

    Yes, lower the sugar content.

    Then leave it up to individual responsibility : a person is free to purchase packets of sugar to spoon into their drinks or onto their food.

    Just don’t allow high sugar consumption to be virtually compulsory, by sleight of hand, because sugar is a hidden ingredient in all kinds of processed food where most of us are unaware that it’s there.

    (In Jump’s terms, I must be a “sugar Khmer Rouge”.)

  61. Ambi I did not see a mention of breakfast cereals, the ones we were fed and offered our own kids. Kellog et al have been urged for years to reduce the sugar in their products but to no avail. Even muesli is high sugar. Read the boxes – disgraceful. And it’s largely aimed at kids.

  62. The fact is that where sugar cane producers swith to having their cane milled for the production of ethanol they earn twice as much from their production as they do for milling for sugar production, a product in glut status.

    Just as it was Rokefeller who manuevered the Temperence movement to kill the production of ethanol to fuel Fords cars, I think history will uncover secret manipulations of the food industry to kill the or minimise ethanol fuel mandates for ethanol in automotive fuels.

    Conspiratorial? I think that the end results speak for themselves. Do you remember Howard paying farmers to rip out their sugar cane while at the same time promoting the use of grain for ethanol production? That is what happened at the end of his, now known to be, not glorious time.

  63. Reminissing some more, south Australia paid farmers to rip out grape vines. Years later they ripped out almonds to plant grapes.
    On the Atherton Tablelands one can see many acres of avacados being planted. I think some mangoes are being displaced, but don’t know if they are inferior trees or the harvest has become too costly. Maybe both.
    Anyway the Tableland people show adaptability more readily than many cane farmers I know.

  64. Interested to hear more about the cane farmers in your area. Impressed by the cane train networks near Port Douglas.

    Couldn’t believe the lab reports some years ago on the sugar content of many common manufacturrd foods, especially foods not normally described as “sweet”.

    What to do?
    Read the labels.
    Eat more fresh fruit, fresh veges, fish..

    But that’s just a selfish individual response, ignoring the wide social effects of tooth decay and obesity-related illnesses.

  65. David Thodey, chair of CSIRO and former Telstra bigwig, will lead a full review of the Federal Public Service; the first since a review by “Nugget” Coombs in the early 1970s.

  66. Ease up on the fat shaming please.
    Anyway, it’s normally a medical condition unrelated to exercise or food. So they tell me. 😉

    On avocados, they hate wet feet so in high rainfall areas they need a very well draining soil. Ideal cane country has high moisture retention.
    The big trouble up here with mangos are the flying rats foxes in plague proportions, Lychee crops too. They don’t tend to bother with avocados.

    Fun little anecdote- my Dad has a few Bush lemons trees on his block and the sulphurs crested cockatoo striped every lemon last week. I’d never heard of them doing that.

  67. Mortality statistics are figures collected by medicos and analysed by statisticians. No shaming involved.

    Did I mention BMI?
    Did I call anyone fat?

    Sorry to hear about the cockatoos taking the bush lemons. Where we are, the flying rats fruit seeking birds are mainly blackbirds. Heavy netting the only way to reduce their thieving sampling..

  68. Ops, wasn’t aware Australia’s obesity problem involved non- fat people.

    Perhaps the obesity problem is partly due to illiteracy coz there’s a plethora of information, freely available, on every food type on the market.

    That could be backed up by the economic reality that obesity is highest among the lowest income earners.

    I’m a bit concerned by the gender obesity gap though, Government can fix that if they had the will to act ( and more tax money, lots more )

  69. Perhaps the obesity problem is partly due to illiteracy coz there’s a plethora of information, freely available, on every food type on the market.

    Only because we live in a Nanny state which has forced the manufacturers to place it there..
    If we lived in a libertarian paradise there would be no such information available at all. Capitalism thrives when it keeps consumers in the dark.

  70. Ootz

    That Health Star episode was very strange.

    People are now accustomed to a star rating for a new house, or for the energy use of some large white goods.

    So Health Star, while crude, could have been useful for shoppers. And the Minister kept promoting the scheme, for months as I recall, while the experts were developing it in the back rooms.

    Then, to have it disappear suddenly, strangled at birth, was astounding. The Nanny State became the Baby Strangler.

    Ninny Nanny.
    Au revoir, au pair.

  71. I confess to no knowledge of the subject, but there are health star ratings on almost every package I have just looked at in our pantry. The Lazarus effect?

  72. Au revoir, au pair.

    Leave DiNatales baby sitter outa this, she’s been through enough!


  73. golly zoot

    You’re right.

    There’s even a website:

    Nanny lives on. Lazarus rises.
    Bonjour, au pair. Tres bien!!

    The old Rene said cogito ergo sum.
    These days, it’s habeo webus sitius, ergo sum.

  74. “… there are health star ratings on almost every package I have just looked at in our pantry. The Lazarus effect?”

    Heh Zoot, keep yer eyes on the ball and don’t get fought by the pea and thimble trick. Some background

    Badly implemented

    The system’s main implementation limitation is that because it’s voluntary, food manufacturers can decide whether a product will display health stars or not. Understandably, although manufacturers might be happy to display stars on foods that attract between two and five stars, they are less likely to put one or half a star on their products.

    Are chips really healthy enough to attract four stars? Author provided
    So what the health star rating system ends up doing is encouraging marketing of unhealthy or discretionary foods, as healthy options. Discretionary foods are packaged and highly processed and can have their nutrient composition reformulated to increase stars. Manufacturers of potato chips, for instance, might lower their fat or salt content to gain a higher star rating. But chips with half an extra star are still a discretionary food.

    Part of the problem is that the campaign’s main message – “the more stars the better” – is misleading. Many of the items from the five food groups (see above) are not packaged, so they don’t display health stars. The actual health message is to eat more of these foods; it’s not that we should try to eat food with more stars.

    What the health star rating system ends up doing is communicating a de facto approval or giving a halo effect to the labels of products that carry stars. People tend to view any visual health information on food as at least suggesting it’s healthy. So packaged foods that carry the star symbol, even if only half a star, could be implied to be healthy.

    The view from the professionals.
    Health Star Rating System gets Zero Stars from Nutritionist

  75. Thanks Ootz, I was afraid that may be the case.

    And for more on the way Capitalism nurtures innovation:

    In 1979, James Dyson had an idea for a new vacuum cleaner — one that didn’t use bags. It took him five years to perfect the design, building more than 5,000 prototypes in his backyard shed. He then tried to convince the big vacuum brands to license his invention, but most wouldn’t even take his calls. Eventually, he started his own company. Today, Dyson is one of the best-selling vacuum brands in the world, and James Dyson is a billionaire.

    From here. My emphasis added.

  76. Peter FitzSimmons in June last year.
    ‘It’s freaking hopeless’: why the Health Star Rating System has to go

    How did the system get so corrupted?
    Broadly, because its foundations are so flaky.
    Let’s start with the fact that the food industry sits on the freaking advisory panel! Yup, I know. Ludicrous. The food industry is driven by the desire for sales, so why would they be given input to determining a scale which should be driven by health only?
    The system is predicated on the notion that these stars are not handed out in a measure of overall health, but only how they measure up against other products in their food group. Say no more. This, too, is some explanation for the absurd results, but no excuse. And if your product doesn’t measure up, no worries. You don’t have to play because …

    I very much on this being guided by consumer groups such as Choice, how they see it.

    A tax on sugary drinks is suggested in an effort to meet recommended sugar intakes set by the World Health Organisation, which half of all Australians exceed.

    “A levy on sugary drinks that raises prices by 20% is likely to significantly reduce consumption, resulting in clear health benefits and contributing to the reduction of chronic disease in Australia,” the report says.

    Did you know: In Australia, food labels will only tell you the total sugar in a product, not the added stuff? Tell ministers that you want added sugars to be clearly labelled.

    The government is also being asked to restrict the advertising of junk food targeting children. The restrictions would apply to free-to-air television stations between the primetime hours of 5.30pm to 9.30pm.

    “Over the course of a year, the average Australian child will see 35 hours of food advertising on television, of which over half will be for unhealthy foods,” the report says.

    “Children are particularly vulnerable to advertising as a child’s capacity to comprehend and critically interpret advertising messages develops over time.”

    The groups are also asking for the controversial health star rating system to be made mandatory by July 2019. The standard, which is intended to help shoppers make healthy decisions quickly, was introduced as a voluntary system in June 2014.A tax on sugary drinks is suggested in an effort to meet recommended sugar intakes set by the World Health Organisation, which half of all Australians exceed.

  77. Dyson is amazing.
    But 5,000 prototypes in 5 years?
    Is that just under 3 per day on average?
    Amazing. Deserves his success.

    (All those year we were buying bags produced by the vacuum cleaner maker….. Harrumph.)

  78. Well spotted Ambigulous. I haven’t listened to the podcast yet so I don’t know if NPR is out by a large factor or if Dyson tells porkies.

  79. Could believe 500.

    Would hate to think NPR was as innumerate as me.

    And the defects of the Star Rating scheme: well spotted and explained, Ootz.

  80. Amazing, somehow raiseing tax on some things has a negative effect on participation is our market on those things.
    But raised taxes on other things have no negative effects.

    Even a mediocre, red bandanna wearing Rugby player can see that.

  81. Yo Zoot, it looks like our resident Free Market Utopian has some what morphed from Ted Mulrey into Captain Beefheart, given his comments recently. Sheer poetic beauty and senseless verbosity.

    Zig Zag Wanderer
    Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band

    Zig zag zig zag wanderer (rep.)
    You can huff, you can puff
    never know what I have found
    You can zig you can zag
    Whoa I’m gonna stay gonna stay around (rep.)
    You can jump you can holler
    Never lose what I have found
    heaven’s free ‘cept for a dollar
    you can zig you can zag
    Whoa I’m gonna stay around gonna stay around
    Zigzag wanderer had a zigzag child
    Zigzag traveller for the mercy mile
    …….(found his strength in?) and nature scene
    (Chris Viard suggests “Found my Queen and Nature Scene”)
    Twist his…

  82. I’m right here Ootz, but if you’d rather talk about me than to me then that says more about you than me.

  83. Let’s get to the core of this
    Freedom what does it mean to you?

    It is a long read but hefty critique
    The free market is an impossible utopia

    While markets are necessary for any functioning economy, Polanyi argues that the attempt to create a market society is fundamentally threatening to human society and the common good. In the first instance the market is simply one of many different social institutions; the second represents the effort to subject not just real commodities (computers and widgets) to market principles but virtually all of what makes social life possible, including clean air and water, education, health care, personal, legal, and social security, and the right to earn a livelihood. When these public goods and social necessities (what Polanyi calls “fictitious commodities”) are treated as if they are commodities produced for sale on the market, rather than protected rights, our social world is endangered and major crises will ensue.

  84. the Marxist wet dream.

    How eloquent … indeed it reminds me of Captain Beefheart again.

    Willie the Pimp
    Frank Zappa & Captain Beefheart

    I’m a little pimp with my hair gassed back
    Pair of khaki pants with my shoes shined black
    Got a little lady walk that street
    Tellin’ all the boys that she can’t be beat
    Twenty dollar bill, I can set you straight
    Meet me on the corner boy’n don’t be late
    Man in a suit with bow-tie neck
    Want to buy a grunt with a third party check
    Standin’ onna porch of the Lido Hotel
    Floozies in the lobby love the way I sell
    Hot meat
    Hot rats
    Hot zits
    Hot wrists
    Hot ritz
    Hot roots
    Hot soots
    Hot meat
    Hot rats
    Hot chicks
    Hot zits
    Hot wrists
    Hot ritz
    Hot roots
    Hot soots

  85. Ootz – Ahhh, Captain Beefheart, what a unique talent.
    As for your links at 10:54 pm, I confess I’ve never heard of Polanyi, but I believe he’s nailed it. Of course, Jump will be along soon to tell us he’s just a third rate sociologist.

  86. Thomas More (1478 – 1535), author of

    Utopia , 1516, published in Latin.

    Wiki calls the book “a work of fiction and socio-political satire”. This appears to pre-date Karl Marx, Marxist parties, Communism by several hundred years.

    But it does appear to be the source of the descriptive adjective ‘utopian’, commonly applied to socialist or religious community, etc plans for perfection; and by Karl Polanyi, to the ideal of a completely free market.

    “Tell him he’s dreamin'”
    The Castle (Aussie fillum)

  87. I too have never read any Polanyi, and still haven’t, that was more an interpretation his philosophy.

    It looks pretty silly today though.
    But I’ll give him a break. His “ Great Transformation “ was published in 1942. Well before the true of Mao and Stalin were clear, East Germany too.
    At the start of the WW2 reconstruction he clearly couldn’t imagine the gigantic benefits freer and open markets have spread throughout the world.

    He should have however known how the Smoot-Hawley tariffs and retaliation turned a stock market crash into the Great Depression though.

    There are some less than flattering interpretation of his work about the web if one wants to properly weigh his argument.

    In any event Ootz, thanks for bringing Polanyi up.
    And if you have a particular argument of your own I’ll be happy to chat about it with you.

  88. Jeez Jump, thanks for using your smoko to set us straight.
    Honestly, I don’t know why you waste your time in construction. Such a nuanced, detailed understanding of Economics could earn ten times as much with a tenth of the effort writing for Rupert, or lecturing at a University. You should be debating Quiggin, not humping RSJs.

  89. Addendum:
    Seriously, without having read Polanyi you’re able to declaim “It looks pretty silly today though”, and your supporting argument is because Mao and Stalin. Utter brilliance! You must be in line for a Nobel.
    I’ll stop gushing now. There’s work to be done.

  90. Lunch is a welcome break from quoting plans zoot.
    As for switching professions, I’ll stick with the bird in the hand approach.
    How was your work day ?

    But I think Quiggin avoids debates since Judith Sloan crushed him in 2012, he preferres his blog and soft ball interviews with the ABC and Fairfax.
    Regardless, he is far to slippery for worker like me.

  91. Zoot
    In all seriousness, did you look at Ootzs link to WaPo article about a book about Polanyi’s work. I don’t know how accurately it reflects the truth.

    To suggest ones labour is not a commodity is silly.
    It always has been and always will be, the alternative is labour is valueless.

  92. 1942 Herr Jumpi….

    East Germany eh?
    Part of Germany in 1942.
    Attacking and under attack.
    Bit of a war on, Mr J.

    East Germany as DDR still quite a few years away.* So please forgive Mr Polanyi for failing to consider it.


    * in what sociologists tend to call “the future”.

    No, look, happy to help.

    Der Ambi,
    Ulbricht Home for Failed Prognosticators

    und Osti Nostalgia

    und so weiter. ….

  93. Jump 6.46pm

    Because they gave a pretty fair indication of what a shocker Mr Stalin and his regime were. No need to wait for 1945 end of WW2, or 1953 demise of Mr Stalin, or 1956 Krushchev “secret speech” denouncing Mr Stalin, or books by Robert Conquest.

    The novel “Darkness at Noon” by ex-Communist Arthur Koestler tries to guess why old Bolsheviks imprisoned by Mr Stalin might agree to “confess” in a show trial. Tedious and nasty book. Dark side of Stalinism.

    Have you seen any novels that paint the dark side of Free Markets? By Charles Dickens? H.G. Wells?

    Dystopias have quite an audience if well written.

  94. I don’t know how accurately it reflects the truth.

    And yet you know it well enough to dismiss it with

    It looks pretty silly today though.

    What an intellectual giant, and omniscient with it!

    And yes, I did read the WaPo article, which should have been obvious to any competent speaker of English from my comment at 11:47 pm May 6.

  95. Mr A

    So please forgive Mr Polanyi for failing to consider it.

    I did give him a break, that’s in black and white above.

    Please forgive me though, I mistakenly said “ The Great Transformation “ was published in 1942, it wasn’t, it was 1944.
    Even so, the full extent of Stalin’s iteration of Marxism wasn’t known.

    I’d like to ask what you think the main economic differences between Socialism and Communism are ?

  96. Zoot
    Yet you say he nailed it ! whilst never having read Polanyi’s words.

    What did HE Nail ?
    Not Block and Somers, HIM ?

  97. Jump

    I will attempt your question later.
    But a note of caution: to emphasise the economic
    is perhaps to fall into a trap so ably explored by Marx and Engels: seeing society and history as fundamentally the story of economic “forces” .

    To misquote Ms Gillard, “it doesn’t explain everything, but it doesn’t explain nothing.”

    Now I quite understand that you are a recent convert to Marxoid views, but steady on.

    “The economy” is not the most important aspect of our lives.

    Plenty of folk will tell you otherwise; Mr Marx, Mrs Thatcher, many economists, some journalists, many politicians. IMHO they’re barking up the wrong bl**dy sapling.

    Der Ambi
    First Cave on the Right

  98. I wouldn’t mind joining this discussion, but I’ve been writing a new post. came up short again and tomorrow I’m going to attend a funeral first thing. Someone I went to school with, a smidgeon younger than I am.

    Then I’ve got a solid program of work up to Saturday night, but should have a couple of hours every night at the keyboard.

  99. I gave up a bit on Marx a bit when I realised he had no notion of human development in terms of personal maturation. Human beings were uniformly adult and able.

    When we were studying education in the 70s and early 80s ‘freedom’ was a central issue. Postmodernism hadn’t really been invented, at least for the people who taught me.

  100. Been rather busy, distracted and also problem-solving (the problems of others) lately so I missed out on most of this excellent discussion while it was active.

    I’ll start with Jump. Not picking on you but, once upon a time, I too was an enthusiast for rewarding individual hard work, talent, initiative, far-sightedness, thrift, well-considered use of one’s resources, nobles-oblige and all those other good things that add to the general well-being and progress of all humanity …. then I saw that the system we are forced to endure now is nothing but Communism Mk.II – with the kommissars wearing suits instead of uniforms and without hammers-and-sickles. Our future under this corrupt and evil system? North Korea is the model for where we are heading. No wonder the Bush Dynasty and their fellow plunderers were so crooked on Saddam Hussein: bad as he was, he was giving the world a workable alternative model to follow.

    John D. and all the Hollerithers: Your comments brought tears to my eyes. Wonder, just wonder, if anyone has tried to adapt Fortran to 2018 technology? Even with environmentally-friendly and wonderfully silent mini-Hollerith cards perhaps? Bye-bye Microsoft; bye-bye unreliable One-Does, bye-bye thumby-dumbies. Just input data – hit button – view results that you can actually use, immediately. Well, it doesn’t hurt to dream, does it?

    Ootz: You quoted Leyonhelm, “the sugar industry has a chronic bout of bad decisions all around, lack of decent leadership, lazy subsidies and rusted on politics.” How the mighty have fallen. Once upon a time, the Australian sugar industry was the flag-ship of free-enterprise and industrial efficiency, (except for their failure to utilize their give-away by-products and to produce biofuels on a large scale}. Now look at it. Maybe they should have had breathalysers in the boardrooms and I.Q. tests on aspiring directors to exclude those with a score below 70..

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