Weekly salon 8/10

1. Trump in travail

POTUS Donald Trump who has contracted COVID-19. This US Today report has a video of him telling us he is doing well. I saw the same on SBS news the other night, and he looked very ill indeed.

We must not make fun of a sick man, but Trump has a way of turning things into a joke himself. Seriously! His Sunday motorcade drive-by was described an an act of insanity:

    “Every single person in the vehicle during that completely unnecessary Presidential ‘drive-by’ just now has to be quarantined for 14 days. They might get sick. They may die. For political theater. Commanded by Trump to put their lives at risk for theater. This is insanity,” Dr. James Phillips tweeted.

Trump’s medical people were dutifully brightsiding, but did admit that Trump required supplementary oxygen twice. Even episodically, this by definition makes the case serious.

As to Trump’s behaviour, there is perhaps some insight from his niece in Mary Trump Says Trump Family Saw Illness As ‘Unforgivable Weakness’:

    Attitude about illness is looming large over the president’s coronavirus treatment. White House physician Sean Connelly said on Sunday that he didn’t initially disclose that the president was given oxygen on Friday, despite multiple questions about it from reporters, because he was trying to “reflect the upbeat attitude” of the president.

    Trump’s estranged niece, Mary Trump, says members of the Trump family have viewed illness as “a display of unforgivable weakness.”

Apparently Trump’s father was during his life never ill, could not tolerate pain in his wife. Trump saw his brother’s alcoholism as moral weakness.

Now he knows the virus better than the doctors, because he has learnt from the book of life. And now as he looks like recovering quickly, he says, “Don’t be afraid of COVID. Don’t let it dominate your life.” This is a disease that has killed 209,000 of his fellow citizens and is currently killing one every five minutes.

Many think Trump brought his sickness upon himself, and the nation. David Corn at Mother Jones doesn’t miss in With COVID Hitting the West Wing, What Happens When the President Is a Liar? (Thankyou John D for the heads-up.)

    One of the best weapons to deploy against a killer virus is accurate information—that is, the truth. If the public is fully and well informed about the dangers and the best countermeasures, the better the chances this threat can be arrested. Donald Trump, who with his wife, Melania, has tested positive for COVID-19, recklessly chose not to adopt this fundamental strategy in the face of a pandemic that has claimed over 207,000 American lives and that has yet to be tamed. You know the list: He downplayed the coronavirus (comparing it to the flu), he pronounced it was under control (it wasn’t), he said it would miraculously disappear with warmer weather (it didn’t), he promoted unproven and crackpot remedies (bleach, light, and hydroxychloroquine), he denigrated the most basic means to stop the spread (mask-wearing), and he refused to encourage safe practices (holding rallies with thousands of unmasked supporters).

    Trump has mounted a disinformation campaign since COVID-19 landed in the United States. He has undercut and contradicted the guidance provided by his own government’s public health experts. He has fueled the passions of the misguided anti-maskers and provided ammo to fools who believe the pandemic is a hoax. This week a Cornell University study that analyzed 38 million English-language articles about the coronavirus concluded that Trump was the largest driver of the “infodemic.” In other words, he is the chief spreader of the virus of disinformation. That was hardly a shocker.

When Trump’s key adviser Hope Hicks had been diagnosed with COVID, Trump should have isolated. Yet he didn’t, nor did his press secretary say anything. Then he apparently went to a fundraiser when symptomatic.

2. Is Trump really smart?

Trump keeps telling us how smart he is. Is he really smart, and if so why does he keep doing dumb things?

Definition.org has a Ranking [of] United States Presidents by Their IQs which they say will definitely surprise you. To perhaps save you from scrolling through here is the ranking of some that interested me from the smartest first.

They didn’t rank Trump and Obama but gave them 1??? and 2??? respectively.

Then we have:

    3. John Quincy Adams 175

    4. Thomas Jefferson 160

    5. James Madison 160

    6. John F Kennedy 159.8

    7. Bill Clinton 159

    8. Jimmy Carter 156.8

    9. Woodrow Wilson 155.2

    11. Theodore Rooseveldt 153

    14. Franklin D Rooseveldt 150.5

    15. Abraham Lincoln 150

    23. Dwight Eisenhower 145.1

    28. George H W Bush 143

    29. Richard Nixon 142.9

    30. Ronald Reagan 141.9

    33. Lyndon B Johnson 140.6

    34. Gerald Ford 140.4

    35. George Washington 140

    37. Harry S Truman 139.8

    43. George W Bush 138

    44. Ulysses S Grant 130

To explain, IQ puts the whole population on a bell curve with 100 by definition the midpoint. ‘Average’ IQ is said to be 85-115. Anyone who is 130+ is in the Mensa category of the 98-100 percentiles, so none of these people are deemed dumb. I had another list I can’t find which I think had the same scores. It ranked Obama at 156 and Trump at 145.

So Trump is around mid-range for presidents and could be borderline genius.

There are other lists with similar ranking order, but scores can be different:

The main thing to remember about an IQ result is mainly it tells you how you went on that IQ test.

BBC has a useful entry about Trump and the concept of IQ in Can we tell if Donald Trump has a high IQ?

    There is no single “IQ test” – Mensa accepts results from more than 200 tests, including its own. Some tests last an hour, while some have no time limit.

    Dr Frank Lawlis, the supervisory psychologist of American Mensa, says they usually test spatial, quantitative, and verbal skills.

    Broadly, spatial questions are about shape and measurement; quantitative questions are mathematical; and verbal questions are about words – for example, how one word is similar to another.

With Trump this is the salient point:

    Professor Fred I Greenstein, professor of politics emeritus at Princeton University, lists six qualities that bear on presidential performance.

    They are: public communication, organisational capacity, political skill, vision, cognitive style, and emotional intelligence.

    “Trump scores low on emotional intelligence, cognitive style, vision, and organisational capacity,” says Dr Perry.

    “Where he has been superb, in order to win the presidency, is public communication and political skill.”

No mention of IQ as such.

My conclusion:

Trump has mental ability as measured by IQ tests, but is not the best person to make use of it.

3. Frydenberg’s budget

I’m not planning to spend too much time on Josh Frydenberg’s budget due tomorrow night, but here is some background.

This is a chart of the budget deficits since Federation, from around Frydenberg’s economic statement in July:

There is a similar chart with more detail in Stephen Hail’s Big budget spending isn’t new: it’s a return to what worked before:

We are in World War 1 territory, but debt was more than twice as deep in WW2.

Hail is a Modern Monetary Theory exponent who believes deficits can be extended until they cause inflation.

This graph shows how much was injected into the cash splash by measures taken as reflected in the July statement:

This measure helped people who lost their jobs, and virtually eliminated poverty by increasing the dole (JobSeeker), except for the 2.1 million who were not considered worthy of support.

Frydenberg has been roundly praised for this injection of demand into the economy. Apart from those it did not help, the payments fall off a cliff around now:

That comes from Five things you need to know about today’s economic statement, today meaning 23 July.

Obviously the budget needs to reshape the economy as COVID is suppressed and before we get a vaccination. Peter Martin summarises what priorities 49 economists saw in Top economists back boosts to JobSeeker and social housing over tax cuts in pre-budget poll:

I think the budget will be underdone on the first four, on aged care, child care and most of all on energy, climate change, the greening of the economy, university funding and research and development..

Michelle Grattan says the Morrison government needs to improve, rather than defend, its poor COVID aged care performance. Almost certainly they will come up short.

There are alternative plans aplenty, one of the first the Grattan recovery book.

There are plans too on tackling climate change, which I haven’t examined in detail. Here I’ll cite Adam Morton’s
Plan that tackles recession and climate change could create 76,000 Australian jobs, report says, Lenore Taylor’s Our world is facing irreversible destruction – and still there’s no urgency in Australian climate policy and David Spratt’s When climate risks are so high, short term actions matter most.

How can we say we are serious about climate change when 1.5°C will cook the Great Barrier Reef, drown many of our Pacific Island neighbours, seriously threaten the viability of the Murray-Darling Basin, imperil the great ice sheets and forests of the world, and institute an Armageddon-like fire regime?

Yet we must have tax cuts, which the economists rated a low priority:

95 thoughts on “Weekly salon 8/10”

  1. Brian: Before we skip away from the virus: “What is post-viral fatigue syndrome, the condition affecting some COVID-19 survivors?” https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-10-06/coronavirus-post-viral-fatigue-syndrome/12733100
    “For many of us, becoming ill with a virus might put us on the couch for a week or two. It’s frustrating, but after recovering we can generally get back to the things we’re used to.
    But for some people, contracting a viral infection can be life-altering. It can cause months, years or even a lifetime of debilitating symptoms that drastically reduce their quality of life.
    These symptoms, sometimes called “post-viral fatigue syndrome”, have been reported by sufferers of many viral diseases including influenza, glandular fever, SARS, and now COVID-19.
    What are the symptoms?
    The World Health Organisation has classified post-viral fatigue syndrome under the section of “diseases of the nervous system”. It’s defined as:
    …a complex medical condition, characterised by long-term fatigue and other symptoms. These symptoms are to such a degree that they limit a person’s ability to carry out ordinary daily activities…..”
    American son reports that some of his colleagues have remained seriously smashed and unable to work effectively after “recovering”.
    I guess that in the case of Trump we will never know if he is having any post virus problems.

  2. Brian: A few comments on the economist lists:
    1. We need to shift welfare such as jobseeker, old age pensions etc to a UBI. The problem with the current systems is that is that they create a real disincentive to work in the form of harsh clawback systems. http://pragmatusj.blogspot.com/2019/07/what-is-wrong-with-newstart.html
    For example:
    -Someone on jobseeker can lose up to 60% of an extra dollar earned. (Assuming they don’t have to pay income tax as well.) Going to a job that offers a few hours could leave you out of pocket by the time you have got there and back.
    -Starting jobseeker may be delayed if you have a few thousand dollars worth of fluid assets. (Means there is no incentive to build up a buffer to handle crisis.)
    – Fruit growers are whingeing about the difficulty of getting the unemployed to become fruit pickers. They say the problem is that the jobseeker is too high. If they understood the fruit picker claw back rules it might strike them that fruit picking could leave someone out of pocket if you take into account these rules.
    2. Quite a few things on the list are good things to do but may not make much difference to short term employment. Ex: Increasing education and training. (To what extent does lack of education reduce our ability to grow the economy in the short term?)
    3. Our capacity to quickly grow jobs by spending on infrastructure may be limited by skill and equipment shortages.
    4. One of the smart things Rudd did was use one off payments. Avoided the risk of temporary boosts becoming long term expectations.

  3. “” But for some people, contracting a viral infection can be life-altering. ””

    I can vouch for that, living for 30 years with debilitating after effects from an Epstein Barr (glandular fever) infection and diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome . If it were not for my very understanding and caring partner I don’t think I would be still around.

    The symptoms described in the ABC link are very superficial, these single words do not describe fully the symptoms or evoke the lived experience. Take “dizziness”, a better description would be cognitive disfunction of various faculties and to various degrees. In my case for example, it includes speech function as well as decision making (to write this comment takes me about 3/4 hr). Just these symptoms on its own stopped me to pursue my career and participate in regular employment, never mind the chronic pain which makes me grumpy or dull, various chemical and food sensitivities and IBS and above all low in mental and physical energy.

    Often decision makers and punters can not understand or relate to these lived experiences. So let me express that in $$$ terms:

    “”Using a national prevalence of 0.76% (11), there are an estimated 191,544 Australians living with ME/CFS. The estimated total cost of ME/CFS in Australia was $14,499 million annually (Table 5). The estimated cost to the Australian Government was $858 million per annum.””


  4. Crikey, Ootz.

    Is life itself your recuperation, your besserung?

    All I can say, is good on you for making the contributions here, that you do. Long may your garden be fruitful.

    Alles besten.

  5. Ootz, what Ambi said. You had mentioned chronic health issues, but I had no idea!

    John, thanks for highlighting that aspect, and your son’s comment is interesting. I believe COVID is a vascular disease, not a respiratory disease, so it can affect all body parts including the brain. So some effects may be permanent.

    On Trump, specialists are saying he’s not yet out of the woods, as there is commonly a severe onset about 8-10 days in.

    Most are outraged by his irresponsibility, putting others at risk and making light of the disease. I’ve just checked the American COVID death rate, and it’s 31 per hour, so around one every two minutes.

  6. John, on UBI the Stephen Hail article at the end says Modern Monetary Theory brings:

      the idea of a job guarantee, first put forward by the American economist Hyman Minsky in the 1960s, and promoted now by University of Newcastle labour market specialist Bill Mitchell and the founder of the Cape York Institute Noel Pearson.

      It is the unconditional offer of a job at a minimum wage to anyone willing and able to work

    I’ve just noticed that John Quiggin in an article Step one, a liveable income says that giving everyone who doesn’t already have it a liveable income is the quickest way to stimulate the economy:

      In a recent ANU Policy Brief, Tim Dunlop, Jane Goodall, Troy Henderson, Elise Klein and I have suggested that the problem could be tackled within the current budget framework by creating a Liveable Income Guarantee. Under this plan, a payment equal to the age pension, and subject to the same asset and income tests, would be extended to everyone who is willing to make a contribution to society consistent with their capacity to do so.

      Those contributions would be broadly defined to maximise the opportunities for inclusion. Examples include full-time study, volunteering, caring for children and starting a small business, as well as job search.

    He says that could cost as little as $12 billion pa, which could be largely paid for by not giving tax cuts to the well-off, who don’t need them.

    I’d like to see it pitched above the existing pension, which is not a liveable wage for many.

    Bernard Keane at Crikey says Keynesianism for the rich: Liberals unveil a new politics of debt-fuelled individualism

    Frydenberg and Morrison are looking after the people they expect to vote for them at the next election.

    Richard Holden says thinks it does an OK job at patching up the immediate needs (he says he gives them an A-) , but has no ‘reform’ or vision for the later years.

  7. Brian: “by creating a Liveable Income Guarantee. Under this plan, a payment equal to the age pension, and subject to the same asset and income tests, would be extended to everyone who is willing to make a contribution to society consistent with their capacity to do so.”
    The above is a complicated system that still contains the toxic clawback rules and the related disincentives and stresses of dealing with Centerlink. A system that doesn’t understand what is involved in setting up and running a microbusiness.
    A system that wants volunteer organizations and business to do the policing and deal with people that don’t really want to be there.
    I like a UBI because it gets rid of all that crap while still enabling the things that job guarantee systems do.
    Some might want to argue that money is wasted on people who don’t do it. However, assuming a big part of the cost of a UBI will be paid for by taxes a UBI is not a gift to the rich who may actually end up being worse off.
    Some people may say that an UBI can end up supporting a system where people chose not to work at all. The two answers are:
    1. The removal of clawback means that means that many people will have the incentive of keeping more of what they earn.
    2. In a country that suffers from chronic work shortages with a lot of people wanting more work most would be better off if those who don’t want to work and are comfortable on the UBI makes everyone happier.

  8. John:

      In a country that suffers from chronic work shortages with a lot of people wanting more work most would be better off if those who don’t want to work and are comfortable on the UBI makes everyone happier.

    If we punish and starve those who don’t want to work, they usually end up costing society more.

    Seasonal work like fruit and veg picking is inherently problematic. First, it’s usually quite hard work. They say you can make good money, if you can pick 35 apples a minute all day, while going up and down a ladder, moving the ladder, emptying the basket etc.

    Then you have to relocate, live in quarters provided, notify Centrelink, and then restart Centrelink once the gig is over.

    It’s no surprise that there are not a lot of takers from the Australian population.

    [I posted this in error on the wrong thread, so I’ve moved it here.]

  9. The point has been made on ABC RN PM that the subsidy for employing people under 35 working 20 hours plus is an open invitation for companies to shed older workers and employ younger casuals at a cheaper rate with subsidy.

    Ideologically, if anyone thought this government had changed its spots they should now be disabused.

  10. Ootz, I’m so sorry for your agony, and appreciative of your efforts. Life can be so cruel, yet it is the only life we have. I am always thankful for the good things while keeping an eye on the exit, which is rushing up all to fast. Hence I have done the changes to live the life as I began it it for the years I have left.

    Trump? Total disaster. Morrison? A Trump wannabe and pretty much the same. I can ignore Morrison, but I can’t ignore Trump. Fortunately Trump has done his best to do his worst, and may have blown his chances. We’ll see.

    On the positive front and off topic, of course, I came across this organisation that is worth understanding.


    This group successfully sued the government on Climate Action and has been able to change Policy. I haven’t studied their achievement fully yet.

    In another direction a company I refer to regularly for their invention of an engine that is the perfect hub of a system to solve Solar Energy non solar problems Liquid Piston, is forging ahead finally. https://www.liquidpiston.com/ following several rounds of ARPA funding. Our non solar period battery charging and water heating power source may soon be available .

  11. I just stumbled over this which is a couple of years old, but explains heaps about the current state of the USA.
    Takeaway quote – Bannon on Trump

    I was fucking nervous as shit, I go, ‘Holy fuck, this guy doesn’t know anything. And he doesn’t give a shit’.

  12. That was worrying, zoot.

    Chimed with most reports we had in the first year or so of this Presidency.

    Grimly entertaining, in parts: in that “glad I don’t live there” way.

  13. Trump Plague. Good one zoot. It proves that God really does not love Republicans, despite how they think of themselves.

  14. Bilb, I reckon that if Trump can call the Covid-19 virus the Chyna Virus I can call the result of his abysmal mismanagement and denial the Trump Plague. Seems only fair.

  15. Chemistry Nobel Prize to Charpentier and Doudna for their gene editing paper.

    Good to see the Physics Nobel awarded to three persons including Roger Penrose, a wide-ranging and deep mathematician.

    (You know how tilings – tessellations – are typically periodic? Well, Roger showed there could be NON-periodic tilings. Big mathematical discoveries are not always such that they can be described so simply.)

    Onya, Roger.

    Oh, by the way, the Chemistry winners are both women. And one of the Physics winners too. (Count ’em on one hand in Physics, beginning with Marie Curie/Maria Sklodowska)

  16. “We’re all in the gutter.
    But some of us are looking at the stars.”

    – Oscar Wilde

  17. Zoot: “It proves that God really does not love Republicans.”
    You are probably right. Trump the God doesn’t appear to love the Republicans much either.

  18. Apologies for concentrating on Roger Penrose.

    His co-winners were Andrea Ghez (USA), and Reinhard Genzel (Germany).

  19. That was Bilb John, but I agree.
    Trending at the moment on the ultra left destroy-the-world-as-we-know-it revolutionary web sites I visit is the news that the two drugs administered to Trump (Remdesivir and Regeneron’s REGN-COV2) were developed during the Obama administration to counter Ebola.
    Furthermore, the Regeneron antibody treatment was developed with the use of a cell line derived from abortion tissue. Not really the sort of thing Republicans regard fondly.
    But they are past masters at do what I say, not what I do.

  20. Anyone with a suitably wicked sense of humour will enjoy this … https://youtu.be/B_dXSNBdvJ4
    Its about the UK and Brexit but as all conservative governments are joined at the hip via the IDU Alliance (look it up) it is relevant, or at least it would if Australia had any non mineral international trade to speak of.
    The commentator, Phil, is an astro physicist who has been overcome by the astronomical stupidity of Brexit and became involved in researching it.

  21. Ambi, three Nobel Prize Winners so far that I know of. The Girls are cranking it up. Two co developers of Crisper technology.

  22. bilb2, in the ideas desert we have a new rapid COVID virus test. The Murdoch press have got the story. The company is Ellume.

    In an interview on local radio we heard that the Americans are funding Ellume to set up a factory in Texas that will be delivering next month. Exclusively to Americans at first, of course.

    They are setting up to manufacture here, but the Australian authorities didn’t seem to know about it.

  23. BTW, I heard today from someone who should know that one of the side-effects of one of the drugs Trump is taking is that you go a bit manic.

    The doctors probably thought he already was, so what difference would it make?

    He looks in rude good health on TV, but then his face colour would be painted on.

  24. Brian, the reason why Ellume is in Australia will be because Australian R&D enjoys a 125% tax incentive. Yes the government effectively pays for true R&D 25% above cost. Now that is awesome if Australia gets to benefit through productive tax paying output, but I know that companies tend to start in Australia, move their productive capacity elsewhere but leave their R&D units in Australia for the free cash back.

    Later when you have recovered somewhat from the perpetual head wall banging that is Australian politics, have a look at … https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communitarianism … and the IDU Association, … and Andrew Peacock.

  25. * High pay at NBN Company *

    – from Nine Newspapers today

    More than 850 employees at the national broadband network are paid above $200,000 a year with more than three-quarters of its workforce earning six-figure salaries, new data has revealed, amid growing scrutiny from the federal government on public sector wages.

    The $51 billion taxpayer-funded organisation, under fire for paying bonuses to its executive team during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, has confirmed 110 of its workers are paid between $300,000 and $400,000 and 34 received base salaries above $400,000 before bonuses.

    Good old “private” enterprise, eh?
    Lifeblood of the land.

  26. “I’m not going to do a virtual debate” with Biden, Trump told Fox Business Network, moments after the Commission on Presidential Debates announced the changes due to Trump’s diagnosis.

    “That’s not what debating is all about – you sit behind the computer and do a debate, ridiculous. And then they cut you off whenever they want.

    “I don’t think I’m contagious at all,” Trump said

    “I think I’m taking almost nothing,” he said, describing his condition as “perfect.” He added of his current treatments that, “They have a steroid, it’s not a heavy steroid.”

    Question for armchair physicians: if this patient were thought to be manic, how would you be able to tell?

  27. He doesn’t want a setup where he can be prevented form bullying Biden and the moderator. Good riddace. American people and the world don’t need a farce like he gave us the first time.

  28. Ambi, it’s hard to trust what you are looking at. Some are saying that his most recent outdoor TV showing was not outdoor at all, and the background screen was fake. A tree blowing in the wind was doing it on perfect repeat.

  29. Them trees are tricky.
    In the bush, we sometimes had a long straight length of bark hanging on a tall eucalypt, swaying in a gentle breeze, going ‘clack’ against the trunk rhythmically.

    But not on ‘precise repeat’ by any means.

    Poetic justice if the media confection dwindles away with his empty celebrity losing its strength.

    (Tinkerbell’s light fading away.
    The children were sad…….)

    The Republic will need to rescue itself. The Constitutional means exist to do so. Then a long, slow patching up?

  30. Mr A

    * High pay at NBN Company *

    Yes, the second worst type of Company for waste, efficiency and draining the taxpayer is a Publicly Owned Government Corporation.
    The worst are “Public Private Partnership, you get, in practice, the worst of both worlds rather than a combination of best bits which is the theory.

  31. Jumpy, NBN Company is a product of the bastardisation of it by Liberals. You know, the ones who claim to be good managers and good with business.

    Nobel Peace Prize goes to the World Food Program, edging out Donald Trump, yet again.

    This should definitely be a question in the next Presidential Debate (should there be one). Barak Obama is worthy of Nobel Commendation, why not Trump??

  32. The worst are “Public Private Partnership, you get, in practice, the worst of both worlds

    Finally, an admission that there is a downside to private enterprise.
    I am genuinely interested in what Jumpy believes is the worst of the Private world. Care to enlighten us Mr J?

  33. BilB, what on earth did Obama do to get a Nobel Peace Prize for at the time ?

    Zoot, the worst are non-free market, rent seeking, SJW types that bribe politicians with Board seats so that they get government given market advantage over honest free market types. They often make secret deals with both sides of political backroom scum to make illegitimate profits that partially funnel back as election donations, sometimes through unions, sometimes straight up Aldi bags.

    And you ?

  34. While we’re on US politics, you know how much Pence crushed Harris in the VP debate when all the left media are talking about is a fly and mansplaining, hahaha.

    Harris really, really had a shocker.

    For the best coverage watch the facial split screen version, the body language added input is invaluable.

  35. And you ?

    In the past you have insisted that free markets don’t allow these things to happen. So I’ll repeat for the umpteenth time my question – how do you ensure a market is “free”?

  36. Jumpy: You obviously watched a different VP debate than I did. (Did Q-Anon produce a false debate??) They both did what they were supposed to – Not distract attention from their leader and not come across as someone who would be an insane disaster if their leader was no longer able to do the presidents job.

  37. Zoot

    So I’ll repeat for the umpteenth time my question – how do you ensure a market is “free”?

    Well no, that’s the first time you’ve asked me that exactly ( produce just one of the alleged “ umpteenth” and ill suck eggs so to speak)
    The answer is getting government out of it for a start.

  38. John, Harris had a pre prepared, invented Abraham Lincoln quote. That’s how bad she did. Pence didn’t destroy Harris, she did that herself with constant lies and being as fake as a 3 dollar bill. To not see that is to not have even a cursory knowledge outside of the US left media narrative.

  39. The answer is getting government out of it for a start.

    OK. Consider the government removed.
    Now, how do you get rid of the rent seekers? How do you ensure no secret deals are made between the participants? How do you ensure there is no insider trading? How do you make sure nobody colludes with their putative rivals when tendering for a contract?
    Curious minds want to know.

  40. Considering Ms Harris’s approval jumped after the debate and VP Pence’s remained static, I don’t think Jumpy is as tuned in to the general US public as he thinks. Can’t fault his familiarity with the extreme right though.

  41. John, with Campbell Newman, it’s no doubt his ego and his legacy. He did sack 14,000 public servants after saying he wouldn’t. And he ordered a lot of railway carriage from a Canadian firm, manufactured in Malaysia from memory, rather than from a Qld firm. The railway carriages delivered were almost entirely unfit for service, requiring major modifications.

    I’m afraid he has to live with it, and good question as to why he would be doing radio interviews about it all now.

  42. Brian, I doubt slimming the public service a bit lost him favour, they weren’t voting LNP anyway.

    The big thing that made him toxic to conservatives that I heard about the place were the VLAD laws. Everyone up here knows more than a few motorcyclists that were harassed constantly, and we were all very vocal about it.

  43. Brian: Newman’s outburst may help the LNP because it highlights how much better Frebington is better than Newman. However, doubt that Newman is subtle enough to be doing what he did for that reason.
    In the longer term Newman may be considered a good premier for all the civil engineering work he started.
    In the meantime that nice, sensitive man Matt Canavan has been criticized for posting a picture of a ute with “Black Coal Matters on the side.” Matt said: “he was joking when he posted a photo of a ute emblazoned with “Black Coal Matters” to social media this week and that the Black Lives Matter movement deserves “all the ridicule coming to them”. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-10-09/senator-defends-black-coal-matters-car-sticker-social-post/12747482
    Should help the Green vote in leafy suburbs.

  44. Mr J

    If the voters had decided not to support Premier Newman, why was that? (Even from way over here in Victoria, I can’t believe Bikies and Bikie Sympathisers would be sufficiently numerous to achieve his loss.)

  45. Mr A
    I was only expressing my experience of what, in my circles, was the main reason, not the only one.

    He turned an historic landslide election win into a narrow loss in just one term because he turned drunk on political power ( as many do )

    { incidentally, the VLAD laws are still in place despite Palacechook promising to remove them yet that didn’t resonate the following election. Which probably goes to your point but raises other questions about why. }

  46. Yeah, looks like the US 47th Commander in Chief will be Harris inside 12 months, 99% chance.

    We live in interesting times.

  47. Yeah, looks like the US 47th Commander in Chief will be Harris inside 12 months, 99% chance.

    Pretty much the same chance as Pence assuming the presidency should the Republicans steal it.
    Biden can still walk down ramps, drink water with one hand and he doesn’t have a life threatening infection while being morbidly obese.

  48. Zoot, you haven’t seen Pelosi dry running the 25th ?

    Anyway, not your circus.
    Keep up the tweeting.

  49. In a biography of LBJ, the historian Robert Caro, who has published 4 volumes (so far), described how LBJ tried but failed to get the Democrat Party nomination as Pres candidate in 1960. Jack Kennedy won it.

    But long before the Convention, Johnson looked at another avenue. He asked his staff how many VPs had acceded to the top job on the death of their P. Quite a few had. So he decided to accept a JFK offer of the VP candidacy if it came.

    He played the long game. And Kennedy was relatively young and seemingly in good health. (I don’t think LBJ knew that JFK struggled with Addison’s disease, which might have killed him young.)

    If I can find the quotes I’ll post them. The relevant volume is “The Passage of Power” and covers the assassination in Dallas.

  50. OK. Consider the government removed.
    Now, how do you get rid of the rent seekers? How do you ensure no secret deals are made between the participants? How do you ensure there is no insider trading? How do you make sure nobody colludes with their putative rivals when tendering for a contract?

    As usual Jumpy has no answer when asked how we can guarantee free markets do not get corrupted.

  51. To expand. If Jumpy can’t summarise his belief in a comment there’s no way I’m going to waste money getting his bible. The fact that Sowell is not stocked in the local library doesn’t inspire confidence in his worth. I’ll bet they carry Hayek and Friedman.
    I spent some time working in insurance so I’ll use as an example a story I am familiar with. Larry Adler was a crook. His company FAI (fondly referred to around the traps as “fuck all insurance”) regularly fleeced his customers.
    Judging from his semi-coherent contributions here Jumpy would have us believe that if only the regulations which Adler was ignoring were removed he would suddenly have morphed into an honest businessman.
    I am simply asking what mechanism would bring that about.
    Occam’s razor says Jumpy doesn’t have a clue, but he sure seems convinced it would happen.

  52. Ambi, I think most people in Qld knew about the VLAD (Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment) Act, because it specified that bikies in the slammer would have to wear pink jumpsuits (and T-shirts and undies).

    It seems that 27 persons actually did. When Labor came in a cache of pink clothing was found and sold off.

    The young attorney general Jarrod Bleijie promoted the laws on TV. This article in The Monthly (might be pay-walled) talks about Bleijie interfering in the justice system, causing Tony Fitzgerald to write a letter, lawyers worrying about the separation of powers. That was about a law that gave Bleijie the power to prevent sexual offenders from being released when they had done their time.

    Then there was the sacking and replacing the entire Parliamentary Crime and Misconduct Committee (PCMC), which oversees the state’s anti-corruption watchdog, the Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC).

    Bleijie was scary.

    Newman also rescinded the Wild Rivers act and the vegetation management act, which then led to some widespread tree clearing.

    I guess there was a feeling among many quite conservative people that the lunatics had taken over the asylum.

  53. Thanks for the wider context Brian.

    I just couldn’t believe that the lawless-association laws could have been sufficient, and Mr J says he wasn’t arguing that they were.

    It’s fascinating to watch when a pollie oversteps the mark and begins to alienate a big chunk of “his own” “base”.

    (I have some scepticism about those terms.)

    Down here we mainly heard about The Campbell, probably because Victorians were aware of him as Lord Mayor. The Bleijie sounds ….. unusual.

    Your CMC was admired from many States. (How foolish to mess with the PCMC)…..As was the Fitzgerald inquiry and its consequences.

    In the Backward State, we have yet to catch up.
    Our Police force faces a major clear out – if a Premier can be brave – after the “Lawyer X” Royal Commission.

  54. You don’t have to read Sowell’s book, zoot, just read the wiki and go down to “race and ethnicity”. Sowell is a serious academic and worthy of recognition, but that doesn’t keep him from flat out wrong on key issues. He identifies as a Libertarian with all of the “free market” “efficient market” “deregulated market” etc tags and rounds off his wrongfullness with “systemic racism is not a thing”.

    I suggest, though, that Jumpy hasn’t read any of Sowell’s material himself, he has only heard it being spoken about at His usual Libertarian haunts. Press him for a quote or two, or perhaps even a book review.

  55. Press him for a quote or two, or perhaps even a book review.

    No point. Every time I have asked the result is crickets.
    I don’t believe Jumpy has any real understanding of markets, he certainly hasn’t demonstrated any here. All we get is argument by assertion.

  56. Ambi, to go for a bit more context, Qld has had Labor governments since 1989 with two aberrations. The first was in 1996-1998 after a by-election loss in Mundingburra (Townsville) by a few votes and I think Goss didn’t fix the leaky roof of Gladstone hospital, upsetting conservative independent Liz Cunningham, so she gave him the flick. The second was 2012-15, the Campbell Newman experiment.

    Liz Cunningham was one of the pollies upset by ousting the PCMC.

    In the second aberration, Anna Bligh got beaten by Newman because Newman had been a successful Brisbane Lord Mayor, and Bligh had committed the mortal sin six months into her term of privatising state assets.

    Another figure to mention is Jeff Seeney, Newman’s deputy, the Member for Callide and one of the most loathed persons to have served, loathed even by his own. Seeney was credited with the putsch that ousted the ‘Borg’ (Lawrence Springborg) and replaced him pro-tem with ‘Can-do’ Campbell N before Newman was even in parliament.

    Generally speaking, even the unified party the LNP can’t disguise the cultural rift between the Brisbane Liberals and the provincial Nationals, who are in the majority.

    So some Liberal voters in the city vote for the best conservative party on offer, that being Labor. They tried Newman, didn’t like his government, and voted it out, rather than voted Labor in. A kind of mass protest vote.

    BTW Seeney had the electorate immediately north of current leader Deb Frecklington, and is said to have been a mentor of hers.

    We try to keep the rest of Australia amused.

  57. People may be aware of this about Campbell Newman:

      His father, Kevin, represented the federal seat of Bass from 1975 to 1984, and was a minister in the Fraser government. His mother, Jocelyn Newman (née Mullett), was a Senator for Tasmania (1986–2002) and a minister in the Howard government. Campbell Newman was raised in Tasmania, attending Launceston Church Grammar School, then returned to Canberra.

    From Wikipedia.

  58. Well I’ve definitely quoted Sowell here in the past, most memorably his definition of what economics is.
    What’s more I understood it.

    Do either of you know it, or will I hear just crickets?

    But zoot, BilB is probably right in you not reading his excellent works, it’ll look like ancient sanskrit to you.
    BilB just refuses to and reads Wikipedia for a factual perspective, hahaha.

  59. Thanks Brian

    I’m old enough to remember (at least the names of) Campbell Newman’s parents in their public roles.

    We in Victoria vie with NSW in the Preposterous Stakes. NSW was supposedly the main State of Corruption, for decades; but other States have certainly had their moments.

    We had a regionally based State election “mass protest vote” against Jeff Kennett, which most pollsters didn’t foretell. Suddenly the papers were full of RARA (regional and rural Australia); soon enough the papers forgot again.

    Fickle Fockers.

  60. You may have quoted Sowell but all you have ever done is assert that “free markets” are perfect.
    You have never explained to us how these magical “free” markets remain uncorrupted by the very human tendencies of greed and dishonesty. That’s all I want to know.
    In your words or Sowell’s, I really don’t care.

    Disclosure: I agree with Adam Smith that unregulated markets are a recipe for disaster (I paraphrase).

  61. Brian: Both Campbell Newman and his father were ex army. His father got in when Whitlam was stupid enough to cut the tariffs that protected Tasmania’s fabric based industries.
    My understanding is Campbell became Lord mayor without ever being a councillor and became leader of the state LNP without ever being an ordinary member. Like Morrison his leadership style was I am the leader and I will lead (no matter what the rest of you think. Even by army standards his style was probably considered arrogant.
    He was right of course to suspect that the rest of his party thought of him as as a Voldermort.

  62. Government has a roll in markets to the extent of enforcing property rights basically. That includes prosecution of coercion of buyers, sellers and potential competitors.

    That’s it, prices will be what the market decides

    Got that Sowell definition of economics for us yet, all I hear are distracting cricket noises.

  63. My recollection is that Bligh got booted in an absolute landslide, and it wasn’t because Noddy was a superstar.

    I do get tired of the Westminster system being treated like a Presidential one.

  64. Property rights.

    They would include IP (patents, trademarks etc.), shareholders’ rights not to be swindled by insider trading, etc.

    What about the workers, I hear you cry?
    Does a worker have a ‘property right’ to her job after a period of probation? Does she have any rights to safety in the workplace?

    Must a tradie insure his own tools?

    Is a worker entitled to form an association with other workers to press for changes in their employment conditions?

    Are monopolies the highest form of succeasful corporations?

  65. Jumpy, you haven’t ever read a whole page of Sowell. Requoting from others’ readings doesn’t qualify as being conversant with the substance of the original author.

    You need to look up the term “coercion”, it doesn’t mean what you think it does. You might want to restate you notion of the governments role in a free market.

  66. That includes prosecution of coercion of buyers, sellers and potential competitors.

    And collusion between competitors? And the participation of rent seekers?
    It would appear you want your “free market” regulated by the government you despise. This is not the gospel you have been preaching here for so many years.

    Got that Sowell definition of economics for us yet

    The one about scarcity?

  67. Zoot, I want government to protect free markets not regulate them but you seem too dim to understand.


    coercion noun
    [uncountable] (formal)
    ​the action of making somebody do something that they do not want to do, using force or threatening to use force

    That’s from Oxford, what’s your definition?

  68. I want government to protect free markets not regulate them but you seem too dim to understand.

    And what’s the difference?
    How do governments protect the market without regulating it?

  69. Late thought – Jumpy wants government to coerce people into behaving honestly when they participate in markets.

  70. zoot, what Jumpy’s Libertarian world wants is to allow business to lie, cheat, deceive, corrupt, deny, steal, fail to deliver, excommunicate, etc, none of which evil practices involve …. force (see definition of coercion) ……… ,and then they require the coercive force of the government to protect their ill gotten gains. That is the unspoken hidden agenda of the Libertarian “ideal”.

    To protect that hidden agenda Libertarians conjured up the notion of ….. “Freedom” ….. but the gun lovers jumped onto that so now there is the absurdity of Jumpy’s non coercion argument as expressed in Michigan…


  71. To give yo an idea of how Libertarian work practices go, AB enticed Johno away from a good stable job with promises of higher in the hand income for shorter hours. Johno went with it and extra in the hand was good to have, but the hours steadily creapt up and soon involved working week ends, while still for the same in the hand money but AB promised a good Christmas bonus. AB made a dumb mistake ordering Johno to cut through re-bar and an important piece of the building fell off triggering a desperate effort to rebuild that bit. That effort continued right up to half way through Christmas day at which point Johno held out his hand for his Christmas Bonus, to which AB said

    “That wasn’t for this year”

    It turned out AB wasn’t paying Johno’s tax, so naturally he seemed very generous. But Johno got completely screwed over for money, time, tax, and he even lost his girl friend due to the hours he was working expecting a bonus.

    That all fits into smart non coercive (no force) business practice for Libertarians. AB stuffs his ill gotten gains into a bank safe deposit box, protected by government and Johno licks his wounds. Multiply that thousands of times and you have India, and you move into a whole other reality.

  72. Jumpy: Can’t understand why you support Libertarianism. As Bilb says, what it does is remove the protections that stop little fish like you being screwed by big sharks and the Mafia.
    Or have you got a Jumpy protection plan that you think will work i an unregulated economy?

  73. In an extremely happy announcement, my Daughter in law and Son have another grandchild !! 🙂

    Due date for birth is 3 weeks before my own.

    The flash grog comes out tonight in limited fashion due to it being a school night.

  74. Congratulations Jumpy!
    My missus always says grandchildren are your reward for having children. Enjoy!

  75. Presumably Jumpy the announcement is that they have child on the way? Yes? Congrats. Working the numbers does that mean you birthday is in early June?

  76. Developers in Qld….. personae non gratae?
    Sounds a bit like the fiasco in New South where MANY MPs were forced to resign after taking illegal campaign donations from Developers.

    Not just “dodgy” or “questionable “, mind. Actually illegal .

    ¿Of all the persons you might hope would be aware of the law, surely it would be lawmakers, si?

    Congratulations, Son and Daughter-in-law of Mr J.

  77. Jumpy: “In an extremely happy announcement, my Daughter in law and Son have another grandchild !! ”
    Enjoy the moment but you might like to do what I did for my last two grandchildren: How old will they be by 2100? AND what is the world projected to be like for 2100?
    Your grandchild will be about 80 by 2100 and it looks like the world your grandchild faces when she/he turns 80 isn’t looking real good – Particularly if the policies you champion end up being the way the world goes.

  78. Good observation, JohnD. The world will be a horror show by then, and not just “hotter”. There will have been a long series of wars, as evidenced how Trump can bring the US to near civil war over nothing but his ego. Many Coastal Cities will be reshaping themselves from the flooding to 7 metres of inundation, and where there still are working economies to pay for the transition. There will be huge migrations of people which border walls will not prevent. Trumps wall can be brought down in minutes with large plastic bags hoisted to the top, charged with petrol and a remotely triggered spark, amongst many other methods. Even 50 years from now will be a totally different world.

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