Weekly salon 21/9

1. What is going on with Brexit?

Bloomberg tells us that Boris Johnson is engulfed by chaos over his plan to renege on a treaty with the European Union by rewriting the Brexit deal with the EU, by breaking his promise and international law in selling the Irish down the river.

What he did was to promise the Democratic Unionist party there would be no border down the Irish Sea, then signed a withdrawal agreement that entails exactly that, and now proposes a bill that would break the very treaty he had signed.

According to Jonathon Freedland at The Guardian:

    Put simply, if the UK leaves the single market and the customs union, there has to be a meaningful border (and border checks) between the UK and the EU. That border either divides the island of Ireland, reinflaming the conflict healed by the Good Friday agreement; or it falls in the Irish Sea, separating Northern Ireland from Great Britain and thereby splitting the United Kingdom.

There is no solution, so there should have been no Brexit.

Except there is, and if there is now no trade deal with the EU, then I expect there will be a hard land border.

Freedland says that the Tories failed to understand that the Irish problem was only ever solved because both Britain and Ireland were in the EU, so Northern Islanders could be Irish and British at the same time.

Johnson doesn’t seem to understand that people can’t deal with you if you habitually tell lies.

Now the rightwing press are down on him and some uncharitable people think he is being crushed by the job, his illness and worries about money. Some say his wife used to run his life for him, but he has divorced her for a new partner who doesn’t.

Ian Dunt says the parliament is voting to put the government above the law.

Of course, countering COVID has also been problematic, with government messaging confused and wrong, and only 2,000 of half a million frontline NHS staff tested to date.

2. The West is burning

Lethal Heating in Stark New Imagery Reveals The Scary Extent Of West Coast Wildfires shows the movement of smoke off the fires over the ocean on 6 September.

There are umpteen articles about the effect of climate change on wildfires, like this one from National Geographic.

NBC talks to a scientist who worries that the future scientists warned about is here.

However, if we settle for a warming of 1.5°C and then fail to take action preventing 3°C or more, we do need to think about the implications. Even with 1.5°C the future will be worse again than the present.

This 2018 NASA article looks at trends in wildfires in the US after analyzing more than 40,000 fires from Colorado to California between 1950 and 2017. They found six trends:

    1. There are more fires.

    2. Those fires are longer.

    3. However, only a small percentage of the West has burned.

    4. The same areas keep burning.

    5. Recent fires are burning more coniferous forests than other types of landscape.

    6. Forecasting the future.

This map shows the forecast increase in the weeks where conditions will be conducive to very large fires by 2041-2070 compared to 1971-2000:

Apart from smoke and stress to the US’s aging and deteriorating infrastructure, effects include:

  • Wildfires on rangelands are expected to disrupt the U.S.’s agricultural productivity, creating challenges to livestock health, declining crop yields and quality, and affecting sustainable food security and price stability.
  • Increased wildfire activity is “expected to decrease the ability of U.S. forests to support economic activity, recreation, and subsistence activities.”

More photos at LiveScience.

At the same time Predictions for the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season just got worse.

3. Australia’s 300 year climate plan

I tuned into John Menadue’s Pearls and Irritations to check what he had gathered together about Morrison’s gas recovery plan.

First up was a republishing of Ketan Joshi’s RenewEconomy article of 18 September Morrison thinks gas is the new coal, and it’s just as big a climate threat. Even better is Joshi’s Scott Morrison’s three hundred year climate plan is a dark moment for Australia. I’ll post more on this separately, but here is a single chart:

The red line is where Labor said we should go before the last election. It still says the same now, Joel Fitzgibbon notwithstanding, as this path conforms with the mainstream IPCC advice.

Purple represents what the Coalition offered as its Paris commitment.

Blue is what Morrison is now offering. Green is where he is actually going if he does what he says.

It’s all based on lies, cherry-picked data, some of which is false, politics and spin. He has kicked coal under the bed, but replaced it with gas in a way that may pacify his climate deniers while more than likely wedging Labor, and locking us into a dystopian future.

Along with Peter Saintsbury’s Sunday environmental roundup which tells of a:

    One in four chance that global warming will exceed 1.5oC at least once in next five years, and floods, water scarcity and food insecurity are set to create more displaced persons.

we have:

Meanwhile there is more to what Morrison announced last Thursday, not all of it bad. You will be pleased to know that despite attacking Labor over its 2018 election promise to spend $57 million on increasing the number of electric vehicles across the county, Morrison announced more than $70 million to incentivise the building of regional charging or refuelling stations for electric, hydrogen and bio vehicles.

By the way, Queensland has just added 13 charging stations to its Electric Super Highway from Coolangatta to Port Douglas.

The Queensland Country Life still publishes copy from the AAP, so we have Energy plan will weaken renewables agency, experts warn. One of the experts is Richie Merzian, director of the Australia Institute’s climate and energy program, who says talk of technology neutrality always ends up favouring gas:

    “The government champions ‘clean hydrogen’, which is just clean coal 2.0, using the same failed technology of carbon capture and storage to support the same high-polluting fuels of coal and gas.”

How come country folk get something other than Rupert’s propaganda?

4. Where will leadership come from?

Certainly Joe Biden If President Will Push Allies Like Australia To Do More On Climate, Adviser Says. However, Biden’s chances may be fading, as Trump hatches a plan to sabotage the presidential election, so that the result will end up in the Supreme Court, where he will try to engineer a favourable disposition bias.

In all the chaos around the world, we have AFR’s Hans van Leeuwen reporting a clarion call from the new President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen:

    In her first annual “State of the European Union” address to the bloc’s parliament on Wednesday, Dr von der Leyen fired off broadsides at the US, China, Russia and Britain, and sought to position the EU as the defender of the world’s multilateral rules-based order.

    “In the face of the crisis, some around the world choose to retreat into isolation. Others actively destabilise the system,” she said.

    “Our global system has grown into a creeping paralysis. Major powers are either pulling out of institutions or taking them hostage for their own interests. Neither road will lead us anywhere. Yes, we want change. But change by design – not by destruction.”

    The EU would lead reform of the World Trade Organisation and the World Health Organisation, she said, but its leadership “is not about self-serving propaganda. It is not about Europe First”.

    Brussels’ chief bureaucrat also used her 80-minute speech to bid for ‘more Europe’ in member-state policymaking areas such as pandemic preparedness, biomedical research, minimum wages, fiscal support and cloud computing.

    She promised to bring in a digital tax on American tech giants if the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development could not find a solution that won US approval, and a carbon border tax to push other countries towards cutting emissions.

    The speech signalled that Brussels will continue its conscious effort to use its economic heft to act as a de facto standard setter in areas such as data, artificial intelligence and environmental policies.

    “Without any doubt, there is a clear need for Europe to take clear positions and quick actions on global affairs,” Dr von der Leyen said.

Earlier this year van Leeuwen wrote about Anu Bradford, a Finn and director of the European Legal Studies Centre at New York’s Columbia University, who believes that people underestimate the EU’s influence.

If you want to do business worldwide, you can’t avoid Europe, and you can’t normally run two systems. Rationality and ethics still seem to count in Europe, in the main, definitely not in all of it.

Of course von der Leyen is a bureaucrat rather than a politician. The politicians and bureaucrats together have been working on an investment agreement with China for six years. A conference at Leipzig was to be the final chapter of Angela Merkel’s career. The virus changed that to a shorter video session. Germany’s Angela Merkel says ‘political will’ exists to wrap up EU-China investment deal says the South China Morning Post.

Reports are hard to find, but Foreign Policy, before it shut shop on me, was not impressed. I think they take the view that you don’t do deals with a state that treats the Uighars the way they do unless they stop.

These talks will take time.

There is a similar issue, but not on the same scale, with a gas pipeline from Russia to Germany.

The real world is quite intractable.

A word comes to mind:

    realpolitik
    /reɪˈɑːlpɒlɪˌtiːk/

    noun: realpolitik

      a system of politics or principles based on practical rather than moral or ideological considerations.
      “commercial realpolitik had won the day”

    Definitions from Oxford Languages

89 thoughts on “Weekly salon 21/9”

  1. Brian: You and I have been talking from time to time about going on to a war footing to deal with climate change. You might be pleased to know that “Prince Charles calls for climate change action similar to post-WWII Marshall plan.”
    “Prince Charles says climate change poses such a severe threat that the world’s only option is to adopt a military-style response reminiscent of the US Marshall Plan to rebuild post-war Europe.
    Key points:
    Prince Charles says only option to tackle climate change is “a Marshall-like plan for nature, people and planet”
    He recorded the message for the launch of a week of virtual climate change events in New York
    Pledges by cities and companies to slash greenhouse gas emissions have roughly doubled in less than a year
    A long-time advocate for nature, the British royal said climate change was rapidly becoming a “comprehensive catastrophe” that would dwarf the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
    “At this late stage I can see no other way forward but to call for a Marshall-like plan for nature, people and planet,” Prince Charles said in a video recorded for the launch of a week of virtual climate change events in New York.
    “We must now put ourselves on a warlike footing, approaching our action from the perspective of a military-style campaign,” he said.
    Under the Marshall Plan, the US provided $15 billion to help rebuild 17 nations across Europe following WWII.
    Today, that would equate to about $150 billion in aid.
    The plan helped restore industrial and agricultural production to avoid famine, establish financial stability and expand trade.”
    Should be supported. Beats the gas led recovery being spruiked by our empire royalist party. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-09-22/prince-charles-climate-change-action-plan/12687722

  2. This probably belongs here now, from bilb2,

    The thing is, Jumpy, that the Republicans demanded that the last late term appointment opportunity under Obama should not happen within one year of a presidential election. That led to Neil Gorsuch as a Trump appointee. Now those demanded hard and fast rules don’t matter and Trump is desperate to appoint someone in the last month of his presidency. This says three things. The whole Republican party is corrupt to the core, they don’t think that trump will win, and they are prepared to delegitimise the Supreme court in the interests of power. With such flagrant abuse of precedent the logical next step is to ignore the life appointment precedent and sack judges to correct a power imbalance for the incumbent of the day.

    The thing is bilb2, RBG herself said there is no Constitutional barrier to a President nominating and confirming a SCOTUS Judge at any time within their term.

    The thing is, if we’re bringing up precedence, 29 times a sitting SCOTUS has vacated and needed replacement in the last year of a term. When the Senate leader and President are of the same stripe then the nominee sails through, if they differ then not.

    The thing is I could play a truck load of Democrat speeches stating Trumps arguments in the positive about Scalias replacement ( pity they didn’t have the democratic, Constitutional or legal legs to get it done.

    The thing is if the SCOTUS was stacked 9 Dem Judges deep, you’d say it was fair and balanced but could be a bit more progressive. Am I right?

  3. The thing is, bilb2 , that the Democrats shat on the US Constitution by changing the Super Majority to just a plain majority. An Cocaine Mitch said they would regret that sooner than they thought.

    It was Harry Reid November 21, 2013.

    Having researched the position you base your hatred and bile upon, I’ve found it as solid as mangrove mud.

  4. No, Jumpy. Completely wrong.

    Your first point would be true if Republicans had not created a Rule which they are now claiming to not be a rule. That defeats your other points but the last one which is self defeating in that trump has stacked the high court with over 200 stooge judges, he even brags about this to Woodward in a taped conversation.

    As for the last point here is the roll call of hypocrasy …

    https://youtu.be/OuOLandsO_0

    …and where Cruz says Democrats would be nominating in this position, they would definitely have before the new rule created by Republicans. Republican Senate is a completely corrupt body clearly attempting a coup on the nation to create a Fascist State right down to planning to charge demonstrators with sedition. They are so close to pulling this off.

  5. The difference between Democrats and Republicans is that Democrats in power run the country, whereas Republicans from no on want to reign over the country. Where McConnell said ” Cocaine Mitch said they would regret that sooner than they thought” that demonstrates his default of domination rather cooperation.

  6. Ok, I’m completely wrong, totally and completely.

    Or maybe you’re being sucked in by narcissists that fool you with oily verbiage again. Seems to be in your nature.

    That clip confirms my point if you listen to it properly, highly edited as it is to fool, thanks.

  7. I just had a look at the Catallaxy Libertarian Fantasy Land where Jumpy likes to go to get his “gotcha” ideas (allegedly) and,…remember geriatric geologist Peter Lang who claimed solar energy would cost trillions of dollars and bankrupt the Globe? well he is still at it with his creative graphing with this latest little effort

    https://catallaxyfiles.com/files/2020/09/Capture-17.jpg

    claiming that Global Warming could be GDP positive. I think we have a bit of a Sharpie deployment competition going on in Libertarian circles (Trump is still winning).

  8. The thing is, if we’re bringing up precedence, 29 times a sitting SCOTUS has vacated and needed replacement in the last year of a term.

    Only two of them since 1900. The rest were before the civil war, and well before the Republican’s war on democracy.

  9. And here’s a good analysis of McConnell’s new rule.

    The President is the one office that everyone gets to vote for. In that regard, they are the person that selects SCOTUS nominees. With the Senate as a check to confirm.
    So far, so good.
    But if the “new rule” is that you can’t count on the president getting even a vote, let alone a seating, of their SCOTUS choice unless the Senate majority is the same party as the White House…if that is the “argument” here…then you have invalidated the notion that your vote for president is how you have a say in the SCOTUS process.
    You are saying that it’s not enough to have your choice- like Obama- win the presidency. You need to have enough other people vote to have Senators from the same party in the majority.

  10. bilb2, Graham can vote any way his conscience tells him, if he has one.

    You rebut nothing.

    And nor does zoot for that matter, to say a vote gets canceled because one wants their vote to limit excesses even from their own side, ludicrous and irrelevant.

    Zoot is on ignore now, bilb2 has one more chance to be somewhat sane.

  11. The thing that needs to be emphasised here is that the parties on the right (or in Jumpy’s universe the centre left) such as the Republicans, the Tories and our own Coalition are liars. It is pointless getting morally outraged at their hypocrisy because they were never standing on a principle, they were always simply lying.

  12. Jumpy I can bring up videos of every single one of the Republican Senators saying exactly the same thing. Declarations upon which people voted in 2016. That is the mandate. Cotton can try to twist it any way he wants but Republicans have zero mandate to do what they are doing. If this went to court they would lose on the strength of their statements and promises.

    Are we seeing your moral fibre unravelling even further here Jumpy with your devout support for criminal McConnell ?

  13. ..but Republicans have zero mandate to do what they are doing.

    Presidency and Senate dude, get over it.
    Pelosi must be equally TDSed right now.

    Good night, sleep well.
    I will 🙂

  14. John D, yes Prince Charles knows where it is at with climate.

    zoot mentioned Tories are liars. Today Angus Taylor gave a big speech about technology road maps.

    I thought it was the usual, the Coalition pretending they had a plan when all they had was something they could wave around, call a plan, but it was a cobbled up excuse to let them do whatever they wanted to do irrespective of rhyme or reason.

    Turnbull belled the cat. He knows Taylor. He says Taylor isn’t stupid, so Taylor knows he is telling lies, but he does it anyway.

    Trump tells lies, Boris Johnson tells lies. Morrison, Frydenberg, Taylor and most of the rest tell lies. Habitually, continually, especially when it matters. Turnbull when he was in power did too.

    I think Ken Wyatt doesn’t, but he’s the only one that comes to mind.

  15. That is a refreshing burst of reality there Brian.

    The question is why??? and were is all this going?

    If that many heads of government are blatantly dishonest how extensive is their dishonesty ( I think we all know the answer to that deep down).

    Does this make you think back to when Murdoch was inventing reasons to be able, step by step, to buy up the news industry? It probably wasn’t a complete plan back then, but those are the roots of the perversion of information with Murdoch’s titty picks in the Telegraph calving off his audience, now Trump’s audience (type). Hearts and minds, however feeble they are all voters and they can tell them what to think and do.

  16. On the Murdoch issue: Just in had “Foxtel benefited from fast-tracked Federal Government funds, FOI reveals.” https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-09-23/foxtel-benefited-from-fast-tracked-federal-government-funds/12690954
    Among other things the article reported that: ” Hundreds of pages of documents from the offices of the Prime Minister, Communications Minister and Foxtel — including personal emails, letters and cabinet submissions obtained through the Freedom of Information (FOI) process — reveal the speed with which the broadcaster was awarded a $10 million extension to an existing $30 million contract.
    Neither payment made to the company, which is majority owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation (65 per cent) and part-owned by Telstra (35 per cent), were ever put out to any form of competitive tender.
    Even after the grant was rushed through Cabinet within weeks, a ministerial brief warned Communications Minister Paul Fletcher that Foxtel chief executive Patrick Delany may not be satisfied.
    “He is not receiving everything he requested in his … letter,” the brief said.
    The FOI documents flesh out extensive communications between the offices of the Prime Minister and Communications Minister.
    A previous application for documents was partly refused by Mr Fletcher’s chief of staff Ryan Bloxsom because, he wrote, if emails between the offices became public it could harm their working relationship “now and into the future”.
    The deal — to broadcast sports under-represented on television — has been controversial since a $30 million grant was announced through a single line in the 2017 budget.
    Fox Sports is only available by subscription, meaning taxpayers must pay to watch the sports they are already paying to broadcast.”
    I await Jumpy’s rationalization for all of this with interest.

  17. The answer is John, I’m against Government giveaways to any media or sporting enterprises. They should stand on their own two feet and earn sponsorships and paying customers.

    I’d like a full rundown of ALL unnecessary subsidies, not just Foxtel but Fairfax ( now 9 ) SBS, ABC and there “ partners “ CNN, BBC, NPR……
    Also wasted taxpayer dollars on sports, including Olympic and all the rest.

    They should use our hard earned on the services they are Constitutionally supposed to, nothing else. Maybe they should do those properly first, which they’re not.

    That’s my rationale that you asked for.

  18. Jumpy: “Does anyone know who the greens party leader in Queensland is ?” At the moment my understanding is that Michael Berkman (Maiwar) is the only Greens member in state parliament. Larissa Waters is the only Qld Greens member of federal parliament and is Greens Senate leader.
    Anyone’s guess who, if anyone, will be the state parliament Greens leader after the election.

  19. Jumpy: “The answer is John, I’m against Government giveaways to any media or sporting enterprises. They should stand on their own two feet and earn sponsorships and paying customers.
    I’d like a full rundown of ALL unnecessary subsidies, not just Foxtel but Fairfax ( now 9 ) SBS, ABC and there “ partners “ CNN, BBC, NPR……
    Also wasted taxpayer dollars on sports, including Olympic and all the rest.”
    Tend to agree with most of what you said on the subject.
    Also “They should use our hard earned on the services they are Constitutionally supposed to, nothing else. Maybe they should do those properly first, which they’re not.”
    In principle, would tend to agree with that too but I am sure we could disagree with some of the details.

  20. Update on the question “Trump, the world’s most dangerous man?”. It appears Trump is now the leading cause of death in the USA. For the past 67 days the death toll from 9/11 has been equaled every day by the reported death toll from Covid-19.

  21. John, if there was a venn diagram of both yours and my positions on every issue , the overlap would by far dwarf the differences.
    That said, the David Lippson story you linked to is a brazen partisan propaganda piece by “ our “ ABCorperation.

  22. Anyone’s guess who, if anyone, will be the state parliament Greens leader after the election.

    Or right now even.
    The greens could be described in Queensland as being headless chooks by some larrikins.

  23. Sorry to hear you have larrikins in Qld, Mr J.

    We sent a lot of ours north but assumed they would perch, nest and breed in NSW. Being nearer. Just over the Murray.

  24. Interesting comparispn with the 9/11 death toll in the US, zoot.

    I seem to remember weeks and months of handwringing there, over the missed clues, the failure of different agencies to share information, before tbe 9/11 attacks.

    The general term used was “intelligence failure”.

    Could that term somehow apply to the same nation in 2020?

  25. Jumpy: The people I know on Brian’s Qld Greens office bearers list are competent.
    We will see how they go in the election. Given what the alternatives are offering, I am optimistic.

  26. Westpac’s $1.3 billion AUSTRAC money laundering fine raises question of what banks learned from royal commission. Yep $1.3 billion! And it won’t be tax deductible. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-09-24/westpac-money-laundering-fine-questions-raised-royal-commission/12698738
    “While inadvertent, Westpac’s weak checks and balances on foreign transactions resulted in the bank providing a platform not just for paedophiles but drug gangs, gun runners, tax evaders and slavery rings.
    Mr Porter said the Federal Government had a “strident” view that in the case of Westpac, “some of the great failures of a corporate entity in Australian history” deserved more painful medicine.
    The blowout in the penalty demanded by Mr Porter and the Prime Minister is clearly designed to send shudders through banking boardrooms around the country — especially large institutions in current negotiations with AUSTRAC after self-declaring breaches.”

  27. “While inadvertent, Westpac’s weak checks and balances on foreign transactions resulted in the bank providing a platform not just for paedophiles but drug gangs, gun runners, tax evaders and slavery rings.

    So Westpacs shareholders ( superannuation accounts ) are being slugged for Westpac not doing the job of police,
    Perhaps before I do work on someone’s home I need to be judge and jury on their life’s activities or get fined by the police whos job it is to do just that.
    That’s some messed up logic right there.

  28. It appears Trump is now the leading cause of death in the USA

    Wow, Trump now causes all heart disease and cancer ?

    I think the correct story is “ Trump is the leading cause of mental derangement among the left around the World.

  29. FWIW the share price of Westpac dipped $0.02 today to $16.37, pretty much the same as the other banks, so the market was expecting what Westpac got.

    Mark it down, I more or less agree with Jumpy.

    Westpac was not actively making money out of bad people. There were problems over their reporting systems which they had been told to fix, and they didn’t. The management had to go, and lost bonuses, but they were not charged with crimes.

    The culture and management practices did need changing, and this penalty sends a strong message. However, the ones to suffer from the penalty are the shareholders, and everyone who has a super fund (a bit).

  30. AUSTRAC always depended on the banks cooperating and being efficient and scrupulous. The law obliged them so to be. The police were in a sense “outsourcing” an area of scrutiny….. or the banks were a first line of defence against criminality.

    There are instances everywhere, Mr J.
    Any business that’s involved with GST is helping the ATO.

    Most of us, I suspect, would rather have a leaner police force, and a smaller ATO; the alternatives are part way to a more heavily policed and bureaucratised society….. a state that liberty lovers would abhor.

  31. Final budget deficit for 2019/20 about 85.3 billion AUD.

    Now that, I would agree, is “unprecedented “.

    Gross debt up also, unsurprisingly.

  32. Ambi, the Westpac failure, and CBA before them, was in part a failure of the regulators also.

    Moreover, the media tend to suggest that 23 million loans were made to bad people. It’s actually 23 million that should have been reported, not necessarily to bad people, so were in a technical sense illegal.

    Elizabeth Sheedy in the AFR today (she’s an academic risk expert) says that Westpac have done their own review and in July produced a Culture, Governance and Accountability Report that outlines a comprehensive transformation program designed to address a non-financial risk culture described as “immature and reactive”.

    She describes this self-admission as a “massive breakthrough” and says now directors and executives have never been more accountable.

    So now we have treasurer Frydenberg urging banks to push money out the door, and let the customer decide whether they can meet the payments.

    This is not helpful. The banks can’t be expected to do Josh’s job for him in stimulating the economy.

  33. Jumpy: “So Westpacs shareholders ( superannuation accounts ) are being slugged for Westpac not doing the job of police,
    Perhaps before I do work on someone’s home I need to be judge and jury on their life’s activities or get fined by the police whos job it is to do just that.
    That’s some messed up logic right there.”
    You as a contractor are obliged to follow various laws associated with your business. If you don’t you can get fined jailed or whatever.
    As far as I know you are not obliged to report criminal activity by your customers in part because you don’t have access to information.
    Banks on the other hand can set up their systems to detect various serious and revolting illegal activities such as money laundering. Westpac didn’t do this and copped a fine.
    Shareholders in Ltd companies have limited liability for what their companies do. (For example, a shareholder does not have to pay if the company goes bankrupt.)
    Shareholders do vote for company directors so they do have some say re the way the business is conducted.

  34. So now we have treasurer Frydenberg urging banks to push money out the door, and let the customer decide whether they can meet the payments.

    This is not helpful. The banks can’t be expected to do Josh’s job for him in stimulating the economy.

    Ummmm, Brian.
    I seem to recall that something like this was a trigger of the Global Financial Crisis: high risk loans bundled; high risk mortgage loans funded by Fanny and Freddy; loose money (popular with lower income families), allowed – nay, encouraged – by earlier Administrations….

    Mr J will be able to sheet home the blame to Democrat Presidents, I predict.

  35. Back in the dreamtime when the Davidson’s bought their first house the CBA had a tight lending policy that only considered hubbie’s earnings and even then insisted that a max of 25% of hubbies wages were available for paying back loans.
    As a result most families were able to buy a house because the bank limits kept housing prices down. Things were relaxed after that and banks even started to consider wives earnings!!
    The result was that houses got bigger and more expensive and, a families ability to buy a house seems to have dropped, not risen.
    Now “Josh Frydenberg’s planned responsible lending changes defy Hayne’s banking royal commission.” by making it even easier to run up a loan you can’t afford. The commentators think it is crazy irresponsibility. Inclined to agree. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-09-25/government-responsible-lending-changes-home-loan-credit-cards/12702260

  36. The GFC had many contributors, irresponsible borrowing being one.
    The way I see it, the Rating Agencies were the biggest.
    They rated dogshit bundles of irresponsible borrowings as Gold Star, ridgy didge, blue chip AAA+.
    None of them ever got so much as a mild chastising let alone the complete condemnation they deserved for their part in it.
    It’s their only job.

  37. Tweet from the official USA Senate account

    By unanimous consent, the Senate passed S. Res. 718 (Reaffirming the Senate’s commitment to the orderly and peaceful transfer of power called for in the Constitution of the United States, and for other purposes).

    Nice of the Republicans to vote for it unanimously, but how can anyone believe them after their lies in 2016 about letting the people decide?

    I’m stocking up on popcorn.

  38. “The people didn’t choose the Senate”… really?

    The Senators were appointed were they? Like the Lords in Westminster? Like members of a self-appointed military junta??

    Please explain.

  39. The people didn’t choose the Senate that consented then or now.

    You serious? (or pissed again?)
    Please put me back on the ignore list. You obviously have no idea of what I was getting at.

  40. Jesus this is tedious.
    How about “ the people choose a Senate that did not consent “

    It’s exactly the same thing.

  41. It’s exactly the same thing.

    Hate to break it to you, but it’s not. But I guess we can’t expect a humble subbie who preferred tormenting the teacher to learning from her to understand that
    And it has no relevance at all to the subject of my comment which was the lies the lying Republicans keep telling their constituents. Check Mitch McConnell and Co circa 2016. “Let the people decide” was their argument not mine.

  42. Mr A, no problem.
    But next time please don’t truncate my sentences to show a totally different meaning. It’s hard enough to express myself in text form as it is.
    My tools of trade didn’t include a keyboard till 2014.

  43. John, you say:

      Shareholders do vote for company directors so they do have some say re the way the business is conducted.

    As far as I can tell, Westpac has 3.6 billion shares. By my calcs I own 0.00000049% of the company. How much notice do you think they take of me?

    As a part company owner, I want them to make sure they only lend to people who can pay their dues, and for the bank to make a modest profit.

    I think they will do that to the best of their ability, but they are dealing with (between them) nearly $300 billion worth of loans where the interest has been deferred. That is for about a million people, plus small businesses.

    Actually the regulations in question were installed by the Rudd government. There is a chance that the red tape thus installed was burdensome and perhaps are not now necessary with better APRA supervision. Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry Commissioner, the Honourable Kenneth Madison Hayne AC QC, found that the regs were being ignored.

    So in truth I really don’t know, but I do think Matthias Cormann saying Australians could be trusted to work out themselves what they can afford was naive, if he actually believes what he’s saying.

  44. Mr Peter Costello, in his former role as Treasurer, advised Australians considering taking out a mortgage, to look at the interest rate now, but also the possibility that the rate might be 2% higher in the near future.

    In other words
    Don’t borrow to the max
    Don’t assume favourable interest rates
    Don’t assume you’ll always have a job
    ….
    Prudence, common sense.

    (I can’t remember; but it may have been one of those years when Banks were trying to lend out as much as possible…..)

    For me, that moment stood out as one of the better things which that Treasurer did. (Not a big fan.)

    ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥

    These days, with online calculators, every person/family can test out a few “scenarios” and do their calculations.

    Why, it’s simple enough.
    We don’t need to give it a fancy name like “financial literacy”.

    Nonetheless, I think Mr Cormann is overly optimistic about private persons being prudent.

  45. Ambi: “Mr Peter Costello, in his former role as Treasurer, advised Australians considering taking out a mortgage, to look at the interest rate now, but also the possibility that the rate might be 2% higher in the near future.”
    Problem is during housing booms and share market booms some people think it will last forever and their shares/houses will continue to grow in value and be easy to sell at a profit if they face a crisis. Ditto if they lose their job, the overtime cuts back or interest rates kick up. (Right now we have very low interest rates that could go back up again.)
    I think governments should upset Jumpy and impose rules that stop lending to levels that aren’t supported by individuals financial situation.

  46. The bust of Perikles (Pericles) in her office could nate save her.

    Ms Mikakos has resigned as Victorian Health Minister.
    The Premier didn’t have the strength to sack her himself.

    Instead, he used the Inquiry to rustle up a bus she could be thrown under.

    IMHO

    “I am disappointed that my integrity has sought to be undermined,” Ms Mikakos said in a statement on Twitter.

    – Nine newspapers

  47. Ambi: “Ms Mikakos has resigned as Victorian Health Minister.
    The Premier didn’t have the strength to sack her himself.”
    In retrospect the private security decision wasn’t a good decision in part because checks weren’t there to see the job was done properly and possibly in part because the health dept focus at the time was, quite rightly, elsewhere.
    It may have been smarter to use the expertise of our border force to organize the quarantine with health dept providing the health expertise as required.
    My wife had a crisis on the evening of the day she had both knees replaced. She started feeling very faint, I contacted the nurse. The nurse realized once she tried to measure blood pressure that there was a crisis and called a hospital emergency team. Within a few minutes this team of about 5 people showed up, worked out what they needed to do and did it. I sat in a corner, watched what they did and offered an occasional bit of information.
    What I watched was a very very professional team working as a team to do their job. Commented about this to a nurse we knew. She said teams like that practice and practice.
    The point I am making is management/governments need to be prepared for big, new crisis such as this pandemic and major bushfires and pandemics. They need plans and they need teams that can be pulled together to deal with the crisis.
    The other thing I don’t like are gotcha enquiries ran by lawyers who are trying to take scalps instead of working out what should be done next time.
    I have no idea how good your health minister was Ambi and no clear idea of what here priorities should have been. However, I do suspect that she has been harshly treated by an enquiry that didn’t understand what was really needed.

  48. Great comment, John. Lawyers and journalists actually do quite a lot of damage IMO.

    I too felt sorry for Ms Mikakos. I would have thought that the main responsibility for quarantine (other than that it is a Commonwealth responsibility, taken on by the states on their behalf) would have been with the police, with health input from the health department and chief health officer if needed.

    However, after Andrews told the commission he saw the health minister responsible, resignation is unsurprising.

    There has been a lot of commentary about how health had been hollowed out in Victoria. This crisis may be to their long term advantage, as long as they don’t elect a bunch of small government, cost-cutting nutters.

    Part of the problem has been, I think, a lack of understanding that government agencies need reserve capacity to cater for emergencies. There has been an attitude that if you need extra capacity you can just whistle it up from the private sector. So turning to private security firms may have seemed like the default action.

  49. I’m trying to pull together a post I started on in mid-July, looking at where we are at with “aggressive suppression” and “elimination”. Seems to me there is no precise agreed meaning on what these terms mean, which is what is bedevilling the border problem.

    Tim Colebatch has a great article Colebatch – Covid-10: where next?

    Looks like the best prospects for an international bubble are NZ, Taiwan and China. That’s apart from the Pacific Islands. I can’t understand why the Pacific Islands are not open, except they may not be too keen on NSW. I believe Norfolk Island is open to Qld but not NSW, but that may have changed in the last little while.

  50. Brian

    I would have thought that the main responsibility for quarantine (other than that it is a Commonwealth responsibility, taken on by the states on their behalf) would have been with the police, with health input from the health department and chief health officer if needed.

    The Federal Government is responsible for the Federal border quarantine. The State Governments are responsible for their own State border quarantine. The 10 territories are Federal responsibilities due to them not having Statehood.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/States_and_territories_of_Australia
    We are a Federation of States as Australians.

    My focus would be on whom were these “ private security firms” were, how they got the no tender contracts and and what relationships the owners had with the politicians or bureaucrat that signed the very large cheques.

  51. Good points from everyone.

    The little I’ve heard is that
    1. the Vic Health Dept has the smallest proportion of medicos on staff (higher proportion of ‘health bureaucrats’
    2. the focus in the hotels was n the logistics of food supply, guarding etc. with insufficient attention to disease transmission
    3. the ADF or Border Force might have done better
    4. there is video of Ms Mikakos standing near a podium with Mr Pakula as the private security firms are announced, days before the moment she claimed (at the Inquiry) to have first heard
    5. the new wave spread very rapidly via abbattoirs, houses, before it reached into aged care homes
    6. the recent attack on Ms Mikakos by the right wing Health Services Union was seen as factional warfare, pure and simple
    7. the labyrinth of Victorian Labor politics: shifting alliances, branch stacking, favours owed etc. is in principle unknowable by outsiders.
    8. the rumour that the private security firms were hired courtesy of Govt. Minister patronage, has been denied.

    I agree that these specialist teams need to exist, and to train together, and to develop plans in advance… before a major event begins.

    Fires
    Floods
    Pandemics

  52. Ambi, your comment reminds us just how much we don’t know as outsiders.

    No doubt the inquiry is shining some light in dark places, but do you think it looking where it should?

  53. I’m a Victorian but certainly have no insider knowledge to share. I trust Tim Colebatch to have political contacts and a keen intelligence.

    Please don’t mistake my sardonic comments as indicating either specialist knowledge (medical or epidemiological), or a feeling that the Vic Govt is significantly less competent than other State Govts.

    All humans have human failings; consequences include avoidable errors and comedy gold.

    Learn from our mistakes. Even better, learn from mistakes made by others.

  54. Understood, thankyou Ambi.

    I think the Victorian government has learnt a lot in this pandemic, and I admire Andrews in lots of ways, including his stamina, his calmness, patience and logic, and his refusal to get into political biffo with the feds.

    Unfortunately the labyrinthine ways of Labor politics, at least in Victoria, NSW and Qld, will remain opaque.

  55. Apparently the NYT* has copies of many of The Donald’s Federal income tax returns. (reported in “The Guardian”)*

    Apparently, in 11 of the 18 years records (!!) the reporters examined, he paid $0.00 in income tax. In two of the years, he paid $750.00.

    It’s puzzling.
    He says he’s a multi-billionaire.
    And yet his businesses seem to make huge losses.

    Whatever could the explanation be??
    😉

    * F—-d News

  56. In Australia they call that …….. negative gearing, Ambi. You make losses on your properties so sufficient to balance against your cash flow income (from your job) so you pay minimal tax, and your gain is from market value growth.

    In Trump’s case that income was from his The Apprentice show with NBC (Fake News Channel), now ended, where he earned some $420 million.

    Problem is that Trump’s properties reportedly carry debt, and Trump after being black listed by the banks for his property loans began taking out personal loans, I believe, to balance his books. The only two Trump properties that make money are Mar Alago and another property in New York that is managed by another company (not Trump).

    Trump also reported in one self assessed tax year claimed 72 million in losses under an arrangement where the tax office paid Trump that amount (similar to how GST is managed) but allegedly that claim was false and he will have to pay the 72 million back when he leaves office. On top of that there is the corruption which is extensive ….allegedly.

    It seems that Trump is broke. He may command millions in assets for the time being, but his equity in those assets amounts to nothing, and if the equity market tanks he has way less than nothing and may find it difficult to find lawyers willing to risk acting for him in his copious legal actions to come.

  57. All the more reason he wants to stay in power. It’s a while ago, but I recall him being in hock over his eyeballs to Deutsche Bank who, instead of selling him up, doubled down and lent him more.

    So could he take DB with him if he goes down?

    A little amusing, but I heard the NYT piece included a debt he owed of $70,000 for hair styling.

    Sounds credible.

  58. Brian

    I’d reckon Deutsche Bank would be run by Deutsch persons smart enough to spread their risks far and wide, so that one impecunious mortgagee couldn’t bring down the whole shebang.

    Nicht wahr??
    True dinks??

    Thanks BilB. I’ve not investigated the finer details. Bombastic bullies put me off my Wheeties.

  59. My favourite Lee Rhiannon (ex-g-reens Senator) story is when she said “My parents are both dead!”, as if being dead is a defence against the bad things they did in life.

    Also, Lee, “m-ccarthyism” is *false* accusations of c-ommunism. so attacking you and your parents who were actual c-ommunists is not m-ccarthyism.

  60. Those alleged “ tax Papers “ didn’t show any Russian money other than a single Miss Universe pageant.

    So, so much for massive business interests with Putin.

    Not that that will stop those wild conspiracy theories some whackos carry on with.

  61. Ambi, the VW story showed that the Germans can perpetrate glorious stuff-ups.

    Mother Jones has a story Trump Has a Half Billion in Loans Coming Due. They May Be His Biggest Conflict of Interest Yet. in their July-August issue. Deutsche Bank was slow on the uptake, and definitely got caught with a client they would rather not have. Maybe not enough to sink the bank, but enough to hurt real bad.

    Opinion now is that Trump is toxic in thew financial world. While he is POTUS DB will probably quietly extend his loans.

    Now probably only the real sharks, like private equity firms, would deal. They always win. Whether they would do a deal that makes him look like a winner of sorts, who knows, but chances are they don’t care.

    I imagine he wants to be POTUS until he dies. Like Xi and Putin.

  62. Those alleged “ tax Papers “ didn’t show any Russian money other than a single Miss Universe pageant.

    Patience grasshopper, this was only information he was required to provide to the IRS.
    When/if his business interests are fully exposed by the SDNY we will find out if Junior (or was it Eric?) was blowing smoke when he bragged about how much money they got from Russian sources.

  63. Jumpy

    There are many allegations.
    Do you regard tax evasion as a normal part of being in business?

    Many businessmen do.
    Why, some boast about it.

  64. Scott

    I recall that both of Senator Rhiannon’s parents were very prominent Australian communists; first as officials in the CPA, then in the pro-Moscow SPA.

    By the early 70s the invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 had led to further departures from an already very small Party of diehards.

    Yet Lee herself still clung onto the SPA, and was paid to run a publication for it, I think.

    When some of this was raised later, she said she would provide a full statement. Did it ever appear? Perhaps it was in that context…. “They are both dead, so what does it matter what they (and I) once believed?”…. well, perhaps because it tells anyone interested, what your standpoint was….

    Stalinism was not only a creed; it was a way of acting politically within a Party and in relation to other (infidel, bourgeois) Parties.

    Tell us more, Scott.

    In contrast with Lee, Mark Aarons, for example, spilled some inner Party beans.

  65. “The Shovel” claims to be a satirical Australian website.

    It has published the following:

    The Coronavirus was offered $130,000 in hush money to keep quiet about its affair with the President, it has been revealed.

    The explosive allegations have been denied by the White House, but leaked exchanges from Trump’s legal team show evidence to the contrary.

    “With the election only a month away, it’s essential that we do whatever it takes to keep the details of this affair quiet,” Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani wrote.

    It is understood the two had been courting for months.

    The virus says it is not proud of its time with Trump, but claims the President ‘pulled out all stops’ to get the two together. “Trump did everything he could to lure me. He took off his mask, he got all close and personal – I couldn’t say no,” COVID said in a statement.

    While further details of the agreement remain unknown, a leaked copy of the terms of payment suggest the Coronavirus would receive annual installments of $750 over the course of 15 years.

    By Jordan Simon

  66. * the ‘Pell matter *

    A rumour is now about, that a Vatican rival of George Pell, may have bribed an Australian persons or persons) to give (false) testimony in Australian Court(s) against George Pell.

    Of course, traditionally, Vatican intrigue is more complicated and secretive than anything in Australian politics.

    > Here endeth the lesson.<

  67. it was always an ironic piss take on effeminate males,

    Not sure what that’s got to do with the gay community reclaiming the hashtag, but it’s good to know we can count on you to keep us up to date with the white supremacists.
    Thank you.

  68. Yeah, that black Latino dude is a real white supremacist.
    Let’s all believe that hate bullshit.

    Please stop lying to the people here Zoot.

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