Australian Politics 2018-09-23 15:53:00


Australia set to run on 100% renewable energy within 15 years

How the Green/Left can blind themselves to the obvious is a wonder. Do they seriously think that any population would settle for an electricity supply that only worked when the sun shone and the wind blew?  Yet that is what we would have with 100% renewable energy.  "Renewables" will always need to be backed to 100% of demand by conventional generators

Australia is set to reach its target of 100% renewable energy by the early 2030’s, provided current uptake of renewable energy options in the residential and commercial sectors remains strong.

The Australian renewables energy industry will install more than 10 gigawatts of new solar and wind power before the end of 2019 and if that rate is maintained, Australia would reach 50% of its renewables target in 2025.

The reduction target, set under the famed Paris Agreement into global climate change, forms part of a commitment made by Australia in 2015 to cut carbon emissions nationwide by up to 28% of 2005 levels by the year 2030.

It represents reductions of around 52% in emissions per capita and around 65% in the emissions intensity of the economy between 2005 and 2030.

Homeowners and industry have embraced the renewables challenge so well that it now seems possible the nation will reach the equivalent of 100% renewables for its electricity supply well before then.

A report by the Energy Exchange Institute at Australian National University, says merely keeping up the current rate of renewable energy deployment – roughly divided between solar photovoltaics (PVs), wind farms and rooftop solar PVs – would meet the country’s entire emissions reduction task for the whole economy by 2025.
New global energy capacity additions 2015 2017 solar wind
Net new global generation capacity additions in 2015 and 2017.

That doesn’t take into account recent announcements at State level to make solar a more attractive option to consumers.


University free speech charters must be more than mere words

Federal education minister Dan Tehan has proposed that Australian universities be required to adopt new codes to protect freedom of thought and expression.

This is in response to the growing campus activism against free expression; typified by last week’s disgraceful scenes at Sydney University, when left-wing students violently tried to stop social commentator Bettina Arndt from making a speech questioning the idea of a ‘rape culture’ at universities.

Tehan’s proposal would be a timely initiative to help our universities avoid the kind of full-blown free speech crisis occurring in universities in North America.

But to prove effective and uphold the principles of rational inquiry and civil debate that all universities should stand for, university freedom codes or charters cannot be toothless tigers—all platitudes and no action.

Universities that don’t defend freedom of thought and expression should have some of their $17 billion in public funding cut by the federal government, as is starting to happen in other countries.

We simply cannot rely on universities to defend free speech when the anti-free speech culture in contemporary universities is so deeply mired in political correctness and identity politics.

At Sydney university, more than 100 academics have opposed working with the Ramsay Foundation to teach students about the history of Western civilisation because this would supposedly violate the university’s commitment to “diversity and inclusion.”

This is the same rationale offered at American universities to justify ‘no platforming’ certain speakers.

So-called controversial thinkers and writers are denied the right to speak on campus because they are accused of allegedly promoting racist, patriarchial or homo- or trans-phobic ideas claimed as ‘offensive’ or ‘hurtful’ to some students.

The dire implications of this for free speech prompted the University of Chicago to conduct a special inquiry into freedom thought and expression in 2015.

The resultant Stone Committee Report—which Tehan’s university freedom charters should take a leaf from—rightly argued that concerns about students being exposed to ideas they disagree with or deem offensive should never justify shutting down free and open inquiry, because universities should guarantee “the broadest possible latitude to speak, write, listen, challenge, and learn.”

Tehan should also look closely at the new approach to defending free speech on campus in the Canadian province of Ontario, which requires universities to develop free speech policies as a condition of taxpayer-funding.

More importantly, the Ontario government’s commitment to promoting free speech on campus not only has teeth, but also practical bite: universities that do not develop, implement, and comply with free speech policies will face funding cuts.

It might be pitiful to think that universities need to sign up to a freedom charter—let alone be threatened with financial penalties—to defend freedom of thought and expression. And this is not to advocate that government uses public funds to censor universities.  Instead it is about universities fulfilling their traditional obligations as institutions of intellectual freedom.

But if we are going to address the anti-free speech culture on campuses, the government—on behalf of all citizens and all taxpayers—needs to hold universities to account to protect the free speech of all.


Liberals in bid to reverse collapse in support from older voters

Scott Morrison has moved to ­reverse a collapse in support for the Coalition among senior Australians with his decision to call a royal commission into the aged-care sector in addition to jettisoning Abbott-era plans to raise the pension age to 70.

Coalition sources say internal polling and focus group research confirms a weakness in support among seniors — a voter group that was generously rewarded under the Howard government and which became its strongest bulwark of support.

The Coalition has always held a dominant share of the vote among senior Australians, while Labor has consistently led among younger voters. However, the ­Coalition’s margin among older voters has narrowed significantly over the past five years.

Newspoll does not separately identify the over-65 age group, but among the over-50s, primary support for the Coalition peaked at 54 per cent under the Gillard government, when the impact of the carbon tax was being felt, having held at just under 50 per cent under the Howard government.

Support for the Coalition among this age group dropped to 44 per cent after the Abbott government’s “tough medicine” 2014-15 budget. It now languishes at ­between 40 and 43 per cent.

Malcolm Turnbull moved to shore up support in this age group last month when he announced the retention of the pensioners ­energy supplement, worth about $366 a year to single pensioners. Morrison’s decision to probe the aged-care sector and keep the ­retirement age at 67 has intensified those efforts.

Liberal backbencher Ann Sudmalis, who last week announced she would leave parliament at the next election in response to ­alleged bullying at a local level, highlights the government’s vulnerability to a backlash among older voters.

The census shows 34 per cent of voters in her electorate of Gilmore, which covers a stretch of the NSW south coast including Batemans Bay and Nowra, are aged 65 years or over, far in excess of the 23 per cent national average. Department of Social Services data shows that almost a quarter of Gilmore voters receive the Age Pension. Once a safe Coalition seat, Sudmalis now holds it by just 0.7 per cent. Labor analysts have the seat chalked into their column.

The senior vote is increasingly important. Since the 2013 election, the number of people on the electoral roll has increased by 10 per cent but the number of voters aged over 65 years has risen by 17 per cent. Senior voters represent about 23 per cent of the electorate, while policies directly affecting them also influence the votes of people in their 50s who are planning for retirement.

The Abbott government’s first budget, in 2014, came as a tremendous shock to older Australians. In pursuit of the senior Australians’ vote, the Howard government had legislated generous indexation, setting the Age Pension at 25 per cent of male total average weekly earnings. Wages almost always rise faster than consumer prices, and men’s wages rise faster, and are set higher, than women’s. The Rudd government raised the benchmark to 28 per cent.

However, the Abbott budget ordered an immediate shift to indexation based on the consumer price index, which abandoned any relationship with earnings.

ANU economist Peter Whiteford estimated that over the time scale of the government’s intergenerational reports, the value of the pension would drop to just 16 per cent of male earnings.

To make matters worse, the Abbott budget proposed raising the pension age from the 67 years to 70 years.

With 2.5 million recipients of the Age Pension, or about 15 per cent of the electorate (and the measure affecting a further 1.5 million people on disability and other pension payments), the Coalition government was taking electoral pain for very little gain. Although the change would make a huge difference in the long term, the measure was only saving $450 million over the budget period.

As social services minister from late 2014, Morrison took on the task of devising an alternative saving to the indexation cut, which had no chance of winning support in the Senate. His cleverly crafted response retained the long-established pension indexation, but ­adjusted the rate at which a part pension would be withdrawn under the assets test.

There would be an increase in the pension for those with low assets and a cut for those with high assets, apart from the family home.

The Department of Social Services calculated that 170,000 people would get more, while 320,000 would get less. Figures given to an estimates hearings this year suggest the initial impact hit 50,000 more people than expected.

Chief executive of the Council of the Aged Ian Yates said the first Abbott budget and the asset test changes cost the government political support. “There was a significant slippage of the older primary vote at that time,” he says.

Newspoll ratings among the 50-plus age group rose sharply following the ouster of Abbott by Malcolm Turnbull in 2015. They again topped 50 per cent. But Morrison, who was appointed treasurer following the leadership coup, made the reform of superannuation an early priority. The aim of superannuation was to reduce the 80 per cent of the aged population dependent on the pension rather than wealth creation, he said. “It is not an estate planning tool. It is to help people have a pool of retirement savings that they can draw down to live on,” he said.

His superannuation reforms were deeply unpopular with the Liberal Party base, imposing limits on the amount of non-concessional contributions and placing a $1.6 million cap on what could be transferred into a tax-free retirement-phase fund. Although share investors are typically strong ­Coalition supporters, analysis by Australian National University professor Ian McAllister found that in the 2016 election, the holders of self-managed superannuation funds were no more likely to vote for the Coalition than for Labor. “Controversial changes in Liberal policy effectively neutralised the electoral advantages that the party would otherwise have enjoyed on the issue,” he wrote.

Funding changes affecting the 65,000 aged-care residents add to the picture of a government seeking savings from a section of the population unable to lift their incomes to compensate. The reality is that the 2016-17 budget, saving $1.2bn, echoed similar moves under the Gillard government.

COTA’s Yates emphasises that Morrison has been responsive to the needs of senior Australians. This year’s budget included a package of measures to help older Australians remain in the workforce — an unusual social policy initiative for a treasurer.

Yet McAllister believes the damage has been done and Morrison’s efforts to cauterise the loss of votes will be ineffective. He suspects many of the Coalition votes among seniors have gone to One Nation, particularly in Queensland. “It has gone on for too long and people are not listening.’’

The Coalition is hoping Labor's plan to stop cash refunds of dividend imputation credits will help it turn the tide. Labor is untroubled. Its officials note the Coalition campaigned hard on the dividend imputation policy in the Longman by-election. But on Bribie ­Island in the electorate, where voters aged over 65 years represent 48 per cent of voters, booths showed an 11 per cent swing from the Coalition and a 4 per cent gain by Labor.


Scott Morrison’s marketing campaign targets the pain points

We have an election coming. And this time it’s different — our sitting prime minister is a marketing man.

A simple campaign strategy is emerging. Stripped down, this strategy is systematically to go through all the pain points of the Coalition out there in voter land and remove them. This is more than barnacle scraping because these pain points are not just slowing down the good ship ­Coalition — the ship is taking on water after a bloody mutiny.

However, once you remove the pain points, you take the oxygen from Labor on policy criticism. And once you do all of that, what this election comes down to is a battle between two personalities, Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten. And we know what the polls say about that.

If this sounds crude, look at what the Morrison government has been addressing.

First, the drought, a particular pain point for the Nationals, whose support Morrison desperately needs after the bitter personal spat between Barnaby Joyce and Malcolm Turnbull.

Next, ditching the hugely ­unpopular big company tax cuts, an albatross weighing heavier as each day of royal commission scrutiny passes. Enter Scott “Cry Me a River” Morrison, the man who put the levy on the banks.

Third, electricity prices, perhaps the single-most critical pain point to address in a campaign. Enter Angus “Down Down” Taylor, the new energy minister who now only has two targets: price and reliability. Emissions are not a pain point.

Then there is the royal commission into financial services in itself, which the Coalition fought off for so long: clearly in hindsight the wrong call. When he responds to Kenneth Hayne’s interim report next Friday, ­expect the PM to deliver at least as much theatre as counsel Rowena Orr has manufactured.

Fifth, the PM ups the stakes by announcing a new royal commission into the elderly and nursing homes, nipping in the bud the growing anguish of baby boomers and their parents, and getting in ahead of Labor. The government has also ditched its zombie measure of raising the retirement age. That’s not a bad pitch to boomers, particularly if you toss in a robust scare campaign against Labor on franking credits and negative gearing.

At number six, Morrison has now quelled the Catholic school funding issue, worth every cent in campaign terms.

There will be other pragmatic decisions to come, many pitched at delivering greater fairness­ ­between haves and have nots. Certainly, Cassandra Goldie at ACOSS is seizing the day: her joint call with Deloitte’s Chris Richardson for a $75 a week rise in Newstart is a strong candidate for a policy change that received no love in the May budget. But these are different times.

If Team Morrison can rid ­itself of the key electoral pain points, then the Morrison-Shorten face-off may be troubling for Labor. Turnbull versus Shorten opened up all manner of class-warfare opportunities that no longer are in play with the boy from the Shire.

A brilliant display of Team Morrison’s marketing deftness was the strawberry scandal, a genuine crisis for growers and a disturbing new threat of economic terrorism. The timing of the announcement by the PM and Attorney-General Chris­tian Porter to come down hard on these terrorist “grubs” with 15-year jail terms completely overwhelmed Labor’s new policy around getting rid of the gender gap through super contributions during maternity leave.

Now you’d think that at a time when the Morrison government is under fire for bullying, women are jumping overboard and the PM’s own directive for a woman in Wentworth went ignored, Labor’s announcement would have cut deep, but no. On his way to question time on Wednesday, Morrison did a walking, talking flawless piece to camera on strawberries worthy of any media professional, now sitting on the PM’s Twitter.


ABC’s undergraduate-style bias goes off the charter

Imagine if you had been stranded on an island for the past few years with nothing to watch, listen to or read from but Australia’s public broadcaster.

You would be under the false apprehension that our navy tortured asylum-seekers who were then raped on Nauru. You would think the people-smuggling trade was impossible to stop and that if boats were turned back there would be a conflict with Indonesia. You would think climate change was the greatest threat to the country, region and the world, and that it was already making our lives worse; on the bright side you would have faith that a carbon tax, emissions trading scheme or national energy guarantee would put an end to droughts, floods and bushfires while saving the Great Barrier Reef. You might be under the impression that our dams were dry and $12 billion of desalination plants were supplying us with water.

For a moment, you would have believed that the Donald Trump “nightmare” ended on the day he lost the election. But now you would be confused as to how he fired up conflicts on the Korean peninsula and in Iran without any hostilities eventuating.

There is a good chance you would be unaware of the US’s economic recovery but you would know the ins and outs of every crackpot allegation about Russian interference in American politics. Julia Gillard and Hillary Clinton would rank among your pantheon of political winners and role models. Profit and revenue would be interchangeable business terms and you might not comprehend that businesses must recoup losses before paying tax.

The Liberal Party coup that toppled Tony Abbott would stand as an example of a sorely needed and democratically orthodox leadership switch while the felling of Malcolm Turnbull would rank with The Dismissal as a repudiation of all that was acceptable in political affairs. While you would recognise Abbott as the “most destructive” politician of our time, you would see Turnbull as a victim who was knifed for no apparent reason. Still, that confusion would have ended this week when you heard that the real reason we changed prime ministers was because a couple of media moguls decided they wanted to — all you need the ABC to tell you next is why they did it, and how.

This update falls a long way short of an exhaustive list of the public broadcaster’s litany of errors and unrepented deceptions. To be fair, all journalists and media organisations make their mistakes. It is the unrelenting and undisclosed ideological bent of the ABC’s errors that is so infuriating. The lack of intellectual integrity is less than we might demand of ­undergraduates.

The transgressions are so regular that to consume ABC news and current affairs is to enter an ­alternative reality of facts and expectations. Take the 7.30 interview this week with West Australian businesswoman Catherine Marriott, who had levelled allegations of sexual harassment against former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce. Leigh Sales declined to press her for any details about her claim. Allowed — nay, encouraged — to smear Joyce’s reputation without even a hint of what allegedly transpired, Marriott was not interrogated about why she did nothing for almost 1½ years before lodging a complaint with the Nationals in February this year, when Joyce was at the eye of a political storm over his personal life.

There was no scrutiny, no natural justice, no accountability — just a free opportunity to claim victim status and attack someone else’s reputation. Issues around the reporting of alleged sexual transgressions and how we treat alleged victims are difficult and sensitive, to be sure, but common decency and fairness demand that public allegations need to be sufficiently detailed to allow rebuttal, provide context and be tested.

An ABC News Twitter account this week circulated a picture of a delegation of six men and two women at Parliament House with the comment: “A ­visiting Saudi Arabian delegation has a higher proportion of women than the Coalition.” Really, the Coalition falls behind the Saudis on women’s rights? What an ­insult, not just to the Coalition, but to the women who suffer in that country. The ABC later deleted the tweet.

On Radio National’s Big Ideas this week, Paul Barclay spoke with US journalist David Neiwert, ­author of Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump. “I think he’s frankly too stupid to be an ideologue,” Neiwert said of Trump. And so it went.

Barclay invoked Germany in the 1930s and talked about white extremist terrorism as the greatest threat in the US at a time we are “obsessed by Islamic terrorism”. According to Neiwert, “fake news and alternative facts” were all part of a plan to create “chaos” to “introduce fear” so that “fear induces this authoritarian response”. He said there was a “crisis for democracy”, overlooking the fact Trump was elected democratically.

This taxpayer-funded media world sure is a topsy-turvy one, full of conspiracies, evil far-right groups, climate threats, misogynist conservatives and governments talking up terrorism to increase their power and authority. It is what you might hear at a meeting of university activists, a GetUp sub-branch or perhaps a Greens protest. Thousands of adults on dozens of television, radio and online platforms propagate this stuff at our expense, 24/7.

Still, the story this week about Rupert Murdoch and Kerry Stokes dictating the prime ministership of this country takes the cake. It was laughable when it led ABC TV news bulletins on Tuesday night, extraordinary when it was presented prominently online and humiliating that the reports came not from some eager kid but from the ABC’s political editor, Andrew Probyn.

Apart from the teenage silliness of pretending that Murdoch and Stokes could just phone a few underlings to create a false media dynamic and force serious journalists to conjure up stories and commentary that then swung the votes of more than 40 MPs to change the leadership of the Liberal Party, Probyn had obvious facts wrong. In these pages during the week I detailed how his claim that this newspaper had been “unabashed in its advocacy for an end to the Turnbull prime ministership” was not only wrong but the opposite to what transpired.

Across three years of the Turnbull prime ministership and about 936 editorial columns, Probyn will not find a single editorial calling for this outcome.

Nothing else in Probyn’s piece rang true either, detailing as it did third-hand accounts of alleged conversations that only could have taken place after the leadership trauma was already playing out, and ­ignoring all the events that led to that denouement.

This was the sort of conspiracy theory that belongs on Twitter or intheGreen Left Weekly. It is not the sort of reporting that can be taken seriously or should be promoted to grown-ups. Naive, jaundiced and implausible, it also was wrong. To lead major bulletins with this was to seriously mislead the public and plunge the ABC’s reputation to new lows.

But it soon got worse. Stokes denied the communications, comments and interventions attributed to him. Probyn’s piece served only to demonstrate how the ABC’s reaction to Turnbull’s demise has started to mirror the reaction of liberal media in the US to the election of Trump: indignant denial triggering irrational and misleading reportage.

The worry is that this goes much deeper than one ill-advised and poorly edited piece by Probyn. It is the latest in a series of ideologically convenient false reports. Intriguingly, it acted as an irresistible lure, drawing praise and endorsement from other journalists and demonstrating how their political bent distorts their journalistic scepticism. Radio National host Hugh Riminton declared it was “good, detailed reporting” and another RN voice, Paul Bongiorno, retweeted the story, claiming it shed “more light on dark places”.

MediaWatch host Paul Barry retweeted the story with this recommendation: “Read this and weep. Australia’s media moguls plotting who should be PM. Important story from ABC News and Andrew Probyn.” Even ABC News director Gaven Morris pushed the story around, noting that Probyn had “worked for these two guys” and that his version of events was “worth a read”.

Interviewing senator Eric Abetz on Melbourne ABC radio, Jon Faine said, “We’ve got Scott Morrison as Prime Minister ­because Rupert Murdoch and Kerry Stokes decided.”

Oh dear. The Left loves conspiracy theories. Gore Vidal said he wasn’t so much a conspiracy theorist as a conspiracy analyst. The ABC ought to be wary of conspiracies lest its wishful thinking reveals too much about a corporate view of the world that, according to its charter, should not exist.


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

The push factors of Guatemalan migration

Nick Miroff and Kevin Sieff dig into the recent report that most Guatemalans are leaving their country because of economic conditions rather than factors related to violence.
Asked about the CBP assessment of food insecurity, several migration experts in Guatemala said they do not believe this year’s surge is the result of an acute crisis. Rather, they say, it’s the product of years of grinding poverty, crime and increasingly well-developed smuggling networks seeking out new customers.
According to Julia Gonzales Deras, the executive director of the National Roundtable on Guatemalan Migration, the causes in the country’s western highlands remain the same as they have for years: poverty, unemployment and insecurity tied to criminal groups.
“We haven’t observed any change in the trend of migrants going to the United States. People continue to leave because the conditions of their lives here are not improving,” Deras said.
Migration from Central America has never been about a single factor. Most of us writing about Central America's Northern Triangle typically write about a combination of push and pull factors causing people to flee, even if some of us emphasize one or two factors over others.

In El Salvador and Honduras, people often flee because of gang violence. Sometimes they flee because of targeted violence while at other times their decision might come after two decades of surviving perilous conditions.

Guatemalans, on the other hand, have more often left for economic reasons. The lack of jobs, food insecurity, roya, drought, flooding, etc. Some people flee because of gang violence, particularly from areas of the capital, while others flee organized crime and drug traffickers, particularly those from areas outside of the capital. There is also the increasing repression of social movement activists, broadly defined, causing outward migration.

The United States has the capacity and the need to accept more immigrants. We can implement policies that would make it easier for people to move from Central America to the United States and vice versa. It is in our self interest to help cultivate conditions in Central America in order to reduce people's need to flee. It's not clear how dedicated the Trump administration is to this effort. And I've been in favor of dedicating more resources to the asylum process so that we can fairly and justly resolve cases. The Trump administration wants more resources to process asylum cases but it has given no indication that it wants to process them in the spirit of the law. They just want to close as many as quickly as possible.

Week-end Wrap – September 22, 2018

Week-end Wrap - September 22, 2018
by Tony Wikrent
Economics Action Group, North Carolina Democratic Party Progressive Caucus

The Spider’s Web: Britain’s Second Empire
[Naked Capitalism 9-22-18]
Until I saw this new film on Saturday, I had the following story -- on how the effects of climate change is now causing an increase in global hungry -- as the lead. But I long ago concluded that it is the financial and economic pressure imposed on companies and countries by predatory financiers -- including but not limited to budget austerity -- that is the fundamental obstacle to solving climate change, and most other problems. Thus, the number one task must be confronting the banksters and financial powers that be. The USA was originally founded in opposition to the economics of the British empire, but American School economics has been almost entirely repressed and replaced by its British free trade nemesis. This also corroborates the lead of the Sept 9. wrap, How the City of London created Eurobonds, destroyed the Bretton Woods world financial system and saved crooks, criminals, and dictators from the rule of law.

The theme of the fight between the British and American schools of political economy is whether a national economy should be controlled by the richest economic elites to suit whatever ends they select, or by the people, to promote the General Welfare. You will see echoes of this theme in most of the stories below.

See also Mainstream Economics Has Become a Celebration of the Wealthy Rentier Class, by Michael Hudson.

Global hunger is no longer decreasing, and is now increasing, because of the effects of climate change
By Charles Benavidez, September 19, 2018 [, via Naked Capitalism 9-20-18]

Tim Geithner, Ben Bernanke and Hank Paulson dealt a catastrophic blow to public faith in American institutions.
By Zach Carter, September 15, 2018 [Huffington Post, via Naked Capitalism 9-17-18]
...throughout the mess, the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Treasury had been permitting the largest banks in the country to funnel as much cash as they wanted to their shareholders ― even as it became clear those same banks could not pay their debts. Lehman itself had increased its dividend and announced a $100 million stock buyback at the beginning of 2008. Insurance giant AIG paid a dividend of $4.40 per share, the highest in company history, on Sept. 19, 2008 ― three days after the Federal Reserve handed the insurance giant $85 billion in emergency funds. According to Stanford University Business School Professor Anat Admati, the 19 biggest American banks passed out $80 billion in dividends between the summer of 2007 and the close of 2008. They drew $160 billion in bailout funds from the U.S. Treasury, and untold billions from the Fed’s $7.7 trillion in emergency lending.... 
[Ben Bernanke, Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner] didn’t really rescue the banking system. They transformed it into an unaccountable criminal syndicate. In the years since the crash, the biggest Wall Street banks have been caught laundering drug money, violating U.S. sanctions against Iran and Cuba, bribing foreign government officials, making illegal campaign contributions to a state regulator and manipulating the market for U.S. government debt. Citibank, JPMorgan, Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays and UBS even pleaded guilty to felonies for manipulating currency markets.

Not a single human being has served a day in jail for any of it.

The financial crisis that reached its climax on that Monday morning 10 years ago was not fundamentally a problem of capital, liquidity or regulation. It was a crisis of democracy that taught middle-class families a grim lesson about who really mattered in American society ― and who didn’t count.

For most of American history, financial policy was a central political battleground. There was the feud between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton over Revolutionary War debt; the Whiskey Rebellion; Andrew Jackson’s assault on the Second Bank of The United States; the greenbacks Abraham Lincoln issued to help finance the Civil War; William Jennings Bryan and the cross of gold; the creation of the Federal Reserve; FDR’s New Deal. These were among the most heated political issues of their day. And they were all understood to be questions of power and democratic accountability, not merely matters of growth or efficiency.... 
Here’s what happened to everyone who didn’t work for a bank: As a percentage of each family’s overall wealth, the poorer you were, the more you lost in the crash. The top 1 percent of U.S. households ultimately captured more than half of the economic gains over the course of the Obama years, while the bottom 99 percent never recovered their losses from the crash
....Geithner hadn’t set the dials wrong. He had made a choice about who deserved the government’s full attention and how aid would be distributed. And he had done it without any meaningful input from Congress, or even a public debate. 
“It led to a breakdown and a lack of trust in institutions,” says Admati. “What we witnessed here … is kind of ominous. It raised a lot of questions about who controls society ― corporations or the elected government.” 
Financial crises foment authoritarianism. In 2015, a trio of German economists studied financial panics in 20 advanced economies dating back to 1870, and concluded that they almost always result in major gains for “far right” political parties after a lag of a few years. The most pressing question for policymakers facing a banking meltdown is not, “How do we restore our banks to profitability?” but, “How can we prevent social collapse?” 
And on this front, the technocrats at the top of American government failed every bit as thoroughly as their counterparts in Europe. By crafting bailout-and-austerity packages that protected German and French banks while imposing direct hardship on everyone else, the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and German Chancellor Angela Merkel sent a very clear message about whom the European Union really represents.

The result has been a predictable and terrifying resurgence of authoritarian politics unseen since the Second World War. In Greece, it takes the form of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn. In Italy, it has taken power as the Five Star Movement. In Austria, it is the Freedom Party; in Hungary, the government of Viktor Orban. And in the United States, it has manifested in the presidency of Donald Trump.

The Threat to Democracy Isn’t Coming From Its People
By Jamelle Bouie, September 14, 2018 [Slate, via Naked Capitalism 9-16-18]
Has American democracy been hijacked by the passions of its people, now a dangerous and untamable majority undermining the republic? 
In a new issue of the Atlantic, Jeffrey Rosen, head of the National Constitution Center, says yes. “[James] Madison’s worst fears of mob rule have been realized—and the cooling mechanisms he designed to slow down the formation of impetuous majorities have broken.” 
....But this story of popular excess—to be tamed by enlightened elites—doesn’t stand to scrutiny. Our current president wasn’t elected by a majority of the people, the public’s preferences across a range of issues haven’t been translated to public policy, and ideological polarization—whatever its disadvantages—isn’t responsible for the decline of congressional deliberation. Far from an excess of majority rule, American democracy has seen the rise of minority rule, with efforts to entrench it in the states. If there’s a malign actor in this drama, it’s not “the people,” it’s many of the elites currently in power.... 
An honest examination of democratic decline would look at the ways in which our counter-majoritarian institutions are thwarting the public will—as expressed through its elected representatives—and how that can create support for truly destabilizing forces. It would account for how the Republican Party itself has made Madisonian institutions unworkable by abandoning the commitment to compromise and fair play that makes them work. The transformation of the GOP into a parliamentary-style party primarily responsive to donors, right-wing activists, and conservative media is arguably the central problem for American governance.

Real News Network, posted to Naked Capitalism front page by Yves Smith 9-18-18
...on September 7, an international tribunal found that Ecuador violated a treaty with the United States by allowing its court system to issue a nine point five-billion-dollar judgment against Chevron in this case. 
Chevron devastated an entire region with pollution, and the national government affected responded by fining Chevron less than what BP has so far paid for its fouling of the Gulf of Mexico. Now an international "court" established according to the plan of international free traders has declared that Ecuador is not allowed to do that. I'll repeat here: The Threat to Democracy Isn’t Coming From Its People.

by Michael Hudson, September 18, 2018 [Naked Capitalism]
Today’s financial malaise for pension funds, state and local budgets and underemployment is largely a result of the 2008 bailout, not the crash. What was saved was not only the banks – or more to the point, as Sheila Bair pointed out, their bondholders – but the financial overhead that continues to burden today’s economy. 
Also saved was the idea that the economy needs to keep the financial sector solvent by an exponential growth of new debt – and, when that does not suffice, by government purchase of stocks and bonds to support the balance sheets of the wealthiest layer of society. The internal contradiction in this policy is that debt deflation has become so overbearing and dysfunctional that it prevents the economy from growing and carrying its debt burden.

A new authoritarian axis demands an international progressive front
by Bernie Sanders, Guardian, via Naked Capitalism 9-16-18]

Here’s Why Setting a Maximum Wage for CEOs Would be Good for Everyone
By Mark R Reiff, September 20, 2018. Originally published at Aeon, via Naked Capitalism 9-20-18]

Further evidence that the tax cuts have not led to widespread bonuses, wage or compensation growth
[Economic Policy Institute, via Naked Capitalism 9-21-18]

Yes, Government Creates Wealth
By Mariana Mazzucato [Democracy, via Naked Capitalism 9-17-18]
Excerpted from The Value of Everything: Making and Taking in the Global Economy by Mariana Mazzucato (2018, PublicAffairs)
The narrative that government is inefficient and its optimum role should be “limited” to avoid disrupting the market has proven extremely powerful. But this prevailing view of government is wrong; it is more the product of ideological bias than anything else. The stories told about government have undermined its confidence, limited the part it can play in shaping the economy, undervalued its contribution to national output, wrongly led to excessive privatization and outsourcing, ignored the case for the taxpayer sharing in the rewards of a collective—public—process of value creation, and enabled more value extraction....

Government already has developed the key infrastructure and technology upon which twentieth-century capitalism was built, even though it has received inadequate recognition for things like the microchip and global positioning technology.

One big problem with how Jeff Bezos spends his fortune on charity
by Ted Lechterman, September 22, 2018 [Salon]
...the suspicion that philanthropy distracts the public from questionable conduct or economic injustice is a familiar worry. Since the days of robber barons like Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller, social critics have charged that philanthropy is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.... 
Dramatic acts of charity by the ultra-wealthy may reduce pressure on governments to tackle poverty and inequality comprehensively. Depending on private benefactors for access to basic necessities can reinforce social hierarchies. And when the elite spend their own money on essential public services like housing the homeless and education for low-income children, it lets the rich mold social policy to their own preferences or even whims.... 
Observers, including MarketWatch reporter Kari Paul and Guardian columnist Marina Hyde, have noted that if people like Bezos and the businesses they lead were to stop fighting for low tax rates, democratically elected officials would have more money to spend tackling big problems like homelessness and other urgent priorities.... 
My research indicates that using tax deductions to supply essential public services, such as education and housing assistance, may be a misuse of this privilege because it has the potential to undermine democratic control
Members of the public have a vital interest in being able to oversee the provision of goods and services that support their most basic needs. This kind of accountability is possible only when these needs are served by democratic governments, not rich benefactors operating in their place.

If Jeff Bezos wants to help low-income people why not just pay them better?
[Guardian, via Naked Capitalism 9-16-18]

Australian Central Banker: Loanable Funds Theory Is False
by Stephanie Kelton [via Naked Capitalism 9-21-18]
Kelton tweeted: "An indictment of textbook (deposit multiplier) money & banking. Assistant Governor of the Royal Bank of Australia (RBA) had to give a "landmark speech" to "clear up confusion" about how banking works."

For a fuller discussion of the theories of money creation -- and which is correct -- see Jon Larson's Creating money out of thin air, and my Creating Money Out of Thin Air and Trained Incapacity, both on Real Economics in January 2015. 

John Hancock will include fitness tracking in all life insurance policies 
[VentureBeat, via Naked Capitalism 9-20-18]
Predicted by Matt Stoller here [Naked Capitalism] in 2012. I hope this business suffers a speedy and costly death.
[Law and Political Economy, via Naked Capitalism 9-21-18]]. 
“Presently, both antitrust law and our dominant frame for economic policy more generally tend to favor top-down, hierarchical forms of coordination rounded in ownership rights, while viewing more democratic, horizontal forms of coordination with skepticism. This deep-seated preference, which itself precedes the contemporary concern with promoting competition, can be traced in part to antitrust’s (and the law’s) original preference for protecting property rights over workers’ freedom of association and contract – even as the pre-New Deal courts invoked the freedom of contract in other areas of economic and labor policy.”
[Governing, via Naked Capitalism 9-21-18] 
As in Freguson, and law enforcement for profit generally. From the article: “these revenue boosters carry economic costs that far outweigh the short-term revenue gains. Because the burden of these penalties falls disproportionately on people who can’t afford to pay, jurisdictions collect far less than expected and waste resources chasing down payments that won’t materialize…. States can further see net losses if driver’s licenses are suspended or residents are incarcerated for nonpayment…. “People can’t drive and go to work, which means they can’t pay the fines and fees or support their families,” says Joanna Weiss, co-director of the Fines and Fees Justice Center.”
[Jacobin, via Naked Capitalism 9-21-18]
“Tuesday’s one-day strike was workers’ way of ratcheting up the pressure on McDonald’s to finally take action — not only in its corporate-owned restaurants but also in its franchises….. McDonald’s women’s committees are regularly meeting in the ten cities where the strike took place, and more are being organized in other parts of the country… #MeToo didn’t start in Hollywood. Women leaders in the Fight for 15 have been talking about sexual harassment since the movement began. Women farm workers in the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, hotel workers in UNITE HERE, and garment workers in the International Trade Union Federation have all been organizing around sexual violence and harassment in the workplace for years. They spoke out long before #MeToo became front page news and they are continuing to. What may make this time different is the moment we are in.”

Did Trump just kill the US auto industry?
By David Goldman, September 22, 2018 [Asia Times, via Naked Capitalism 9-22-18]
The future of the auto industry lies in electric vehicles, for which China will be the world’s largest market by far. China also has the world’s most advanced battery technology as well as the most robust supply chain for battery production. 
China’s response to American tariffs has been to offer German and Japanese industrial companies a privileged position in joint ventures with Chinese manufacturers. China also is reportedly planning to reduce import tariffs for America’s competitors. Toyota and Honda also announced plans to expand Chinese production in July.... 
China has prepared a supply chain for electric vehicles in depth, and it is extremely difficult for automakers who are not entrenched in the Chinese market to compete.
China also holds the keys to the future of self-driving cars. Rather than attempt to design autonomous vehicles to negotiate the poor infrastructure of American cities, China is designing cities around the concept of autonomous vehicles, with roads fenced off from pedestrians and 5th-generation mobile broadband. 
China is not only the largest auto market in the world, and likely to grow as a percentage of the world auto market, but it is the center of auto industry innovation.

Manufacturing: “In a World of Robots, Carmakers Are Hiring More Humans"
[Industry Week, via Naked Capitalism 9-21-18]. 
“Of the 13 publicly traded automakers with at least 100,000 workers at the end of their most-recent fiscal year, 11 had more staff compared with year-end 2013, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Combined, they had 3.1 million employees, or 11% more than four years earlier, the data show…. In developed markets, tasks that can be handled by robots have already been automated years ago and automakers are now boosting hiring in research and development as the industry evolves. Auto companies are hiring more for software positions than hardware roles to prepare for a future in which more vehicles are communicating with each other and their surroundings….”

China’s Trade-War Tack Is Steeped in History
[Bloomberg, via Naked Capitalism 9-19-18]
Finally, someone gives an overview of the painful history of China's "trade" with the West, such as the Opium Wars.

NY Governor: “Cuomo’s Win: It’s All About the Money”
by Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone, via Naked Capitalism 9-19-18]. “
The issue that’s dividing Democrats is not marijuana legalization, or a $15 minimum wage, or body cameras for cops, or any of a dozen other things. The issue is money. The “real” candidate is inevitably the one that lets donations from Wall Street and the pharmaceutical industry and big tech and military contractors come pouring in. That candidate will always, 100 percent of the time, end up voting against an obvious reformor worsening an existing law.”

Shield of the Republic: A New Democratic Foreign Policy
By Peter Beinart, September 16, 2018 [Atlantic, via Naked Capitalism 9-19-18]
Amid all the talk about the democratic party’s move to the left, a contrary phenomenon has gone comparatively unnoticed: On foreign policy, Washington Democrats keep attacking Donald Trump from the right. They’re not criticizing him merely for his lackluster response to Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections. They’re criticizing him for seeking a rapprochement with key American adversaries and for potentially reducing America’s military footprint overseas.

Brett Kavanaugh’s Role in Schemes to Politicize the Judiciary Should Disqualify Him
The Trump nominee is trying to bury his connection with one of Karl Rove’s ugliest gambits.
By John Nichols, September 14, 2018 [The Nation, via Naked Capitalism 9-17-18]

In 2001 and 2003, two Republican staffers on the Senate Judiciary Committee hacked and stole 4,670 files from the computers of six Democratic senators. The theft was discovered only when in late 2003 The Wall Street Journal printed excerpts from some of the stolen files. According to the Senator Patrick Leahy, "The ringleader behind this massive theft was a Republican Senate staffer named Manny Miranda. The scandal amounted to a digital Watergate—a theft not unlike Russia’s hacking of the DNC." The stolen files were used to help win confirmation for President Bush’s most controversial judicial nominees, most notably Priscilla Owen, who was described at the time as a "special project" by Karl Rove to fill the federal courts with conservative ideological extremists. 
Judge Kavanaugh was asked extensively about his knowledge of the theft during both his 2004 and 2006 hearings. And I mean extensively: 111 questions from six senators, both Republicans and Democrats. He testified under oath—and he testified repeatedly—that he never received any stolen materials, and that he knew nothing about it until it was public. He testified that if he had suspected anything “untoward” he would have reported it. At the time, we left it there. We didn’t have evidence to suggest otherwise. 
Today, with the limited amount of Judge Kavanaugh’s White House record that has been provided to the Judiciary Committee, for the first time we have been able to learn some information about his knowledge of this theft.
With Supreme Court Decision on Dark Money “We’re About to Know a Lot More About Who Is Funding Our Elections
[Common Dreams, via Naked Capitalism 9-20-18]

The Racism v. Economics Debate Again
[Current Affairs, via Naked Capitalism 9-20-18]
Political scientist Tom Ferguson is well along on a granular analysis of voters who flipped from Obama in 2012 to Trump. The data overwhelmingly show it was economic issues that led to the change.

Vote No Sentiment Escalating at UPS
[Labor Notes, via Naked Capitalism 9-19-18]
“Delivery drivers’ top complaint is that the deal would allow UPS to create a second tier of ‘hybrid drivers’ who could deliver packages at a much lower wage. That’s the deal-breaker for 20-year driver Eugene Braswell. As far as he’s concerned, it’s unfair to have workers ‘doing the exact same thing that I’m doing, for less money.’ And in the long run, he believes selling out future hires will tear the union apart. Someday he’ll be a retiree, he said, and disgruntled hybrid drivers could be the ones deciding whether or not to safeguard his pension. He’s been comparing notes with his friend Vinnie, a shop steward at the post office, about how the letter carriers union has suffered since an arbitrator imposed a second tier in 2013. ‘They have the casuals working for less money, and they’ve got no unity at all,” Braswell said. “We’ve got to fight that tooth and nail.'”

This Labor Day, A Clean Slate for Reform
[Law and Political Economy, via Naked Capitalism 9-20-18]
Lots of suggestions. One such: “The number of significant strikes in the U.S. has fallen to almost none. That’s because the law puts up so many hurdles and obstacles – it severely limits where, when, and how workers can act together. Instead of maximizing power, the law diminishes it. We need to rewrite the law to allow workers to analyze power relationships and exercise collective power strategically. For example, when companies fissure their functions into separate firms connected by subcontracts, we could allow workers to treat those connected firms as one for the purpose of strikes, pickets and boycotts.”

By Emily Sinovic, September 11, 2018 [KCTV, via Naked Capitalism 9-17-18]

Supercritical CO2: The Path to Less-Expensive, “Greener” Energy
by Stephen Mraz, September 10, 2018 [Machine Design]

"Generating electricity from heat could become more efficient, more compact, and less costly" using Brayton cycle turbines.
"This graphic shows how much smaller a cSCO2 turbine is than a steam turbine with the same output. The sCO2 turbine is being designed and built by Echogen."

Book review of Joshua B. Freeman's Behemoth: A History of the Factory and the Making of the Modern World
by Deborah Cohen, September 27, 2018 issue [New York Review of Books]
With nostalgia for manufacturing jobs now thoroughly weaponized in American politics, Joshua Freeman’s Behemoth: A History of the Factory and the Making of the Modern World is timely. Freeman, a historian of American labor and the author of American Empire, the Penguin history of the post–World War II United States, takes as his subject huge factories, the behemoths of his title: River Rouge; the Soviet steel complex Magnitogorsk, east of the Urals; and China’s Foxconn City, with its hundreds of thousands of workers, arguably the largest factory ever in operation. Focusing on these giants, Freeman suggests, reveals what happens when concentrated production and economies of scale are taken to the showiest extreme. It also helps to explain the hold that factories have had on the imagination over the past 250 years: the promise (largely delivered on) that industrialization would lift billions out of poverty, competing with the fears (also realized) that it would wreck the environment and sharpen social conflicts.

Robotics Dominate at 2018 International Manufacturing Technology Show
by Carlos Gonzalez, September 11, 2018 [Machine Design] (slide show)

Australian Politics 2018-09-22 15:43:00


Pro-coal Coalition MPs schedule private dinner to discuss 'Australia's energy future'

We know that there is no consistency on the Left but this is a lulu. A policy from the conservative side of politics that they failed to suport when conservative PM Turnbull proposed it -- the "NEG" -- is now set to be Leftist policy.  It's far from an ideal policy but at least it should keep the lights on.  It shows that Turnbull was a better policy-maker than many give him credit for. He was only slightly right of centre but getting things done while leading a very precarious government required something like that

The pro-coal Monash Forum is attempting to convene a private dinner when federal parliament resumes in mid-October with Trevor St Baker, part-owner of the Vales Point coal generator and founder of the business electricity retailer ERM Power.

With the energy minister, Angus Taylor, working up options for cabinet to lower power prices and boost generation capacity by expanding existing plants, upgrading ageing legacy generators and pursuing new investments, the Coalition’s pro-coal ginger group has scheduled dinner with St Baker in Parliament House on 16 October.

According to an invitation circulated among members of the Monash Forum, seen by Guardian Australia, Coalition MPs will meet for dinner and discussion on “Australia’s energy future”.
Coalition won't replace renewables target after it winds down in 2020

St Baker has previously signalled interest in pursuing a replacement for the Hazelwood power station if the federal government settles on a favourable energy policy, and members of the Monash Forum want the businessman to update them about his investment plans.

Planning for the soiree comes as industry associations and energy associations met in Canberra on Thursday with the shadow climate change minister, Mark Butler, and the Labor leader, Bill Shorten, and urged them to persist with the national energy guarantee.

Malcolm Turnbull, as one of his last acts in the top job, dumped the policy after an internal, conservative-led insurgency. The new prime minister, Scott Morrison, and his cabinet have now taken a formal decision to dump the emissions reduction component of the Neg.

Before the policy was junked, the Turnbull government and the then energy minister, Josh Frydenberg, spent months lining up stakeholders to support the policy, which was designed by the Energy Security Board.

Business groups and energy associations are dismayed by the abandonment of the policy because they fear there is now no clear investment signal to guide investment in generation assets with 30 and 40-year operating lives. The groups sent a clear message to Labor that the current mess needed to be resolved.

Shorten and Butler – who are yet to make a final decision on whether to keep or junk the Neg – convened a meeting in parliament on Thursday with AiGroup, the Business Council of Australia, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Energy Users Association of Australia, the Australian Energy Council, the Clean Energy Council and the Smart Energy Council.

According to people present at the meeting, the groups made the case that Labor should persist with the Neg rather than junking it and pursuing a brand new policy for the electricity sector.

In his opening remarks to the meeting, Butler said Labor had heeded the message from industry players that reaching a bipartisan consensus was important, so Labor had attempted to be constructive when the Turnbull government brought forward various policy options, culminating in the Neg.
Steep emissions reductions targets won't drive up power bills, modelling shows

Butler said there was always going to be a difference between Labor and the Coalition on the level of ambition of emissions reduction but he said “getting the rules agreed upon would have been a monumental step forward in resolving the energy crisis and set us up for the investment and jobs that we need over coming years that will start to clean up our energy sector and bring power prices down”.

He told the groups Labor understood there was strong buy-in from stakeholders for the Neg, and Labor wanted “to make sure that good thinking is not entirely lost”.

“We want to make sure the energy policy we put forward at the next election is the most compelling policy that we can possibly come up with from business and household points of view, and we need your help with that,” Butler said.

While Labor is yet to make a final decision, Shorten gave a strong hint at the start of the week that the opposition would keep the Neg as part of a suite of climate policies for the next election. “We are prepared to use that as part of our framework going forward,” he said on Sunday.


Kerryn Phelps backflips to preference Liberals over Labor in Wentworth byelection

This is massive good news for Morrison.  As Australia's most prominent homosexual, Kerryn Phelps will wrap up the big queer vote in the electorate -- which would otherwise have gone to Labor

The independent candidate Dr Kerryn Phelps has backflipped and is now urging supporters to preference the Liberal party ahead of Labor as the battle heats up in Malcolm Turnbull’s former seat of Wentworth.

Phelps, the former head of the Australian Medical Association, said on Friday she would issue how-to-vote cards advising supporters to preference the Liberal candidate Dave Sharma ahead of Labor’s Tim Murray.

At her campaign launch on Sunday, Phelps had urged voters to put the Liberal party last but had not announced any formal preference deals.

“It’s really important you send that message that they know that Canberra needs to be a voice for the people,” she said on Sunday.
Kerryn Phelps: a liberal alternative or the voice of Wentworth voters' fury?

Phelp’s unexpected change of heart on preferences came as reporters were waiting in Double Bay for a news conference with the prime minister, Scott Morrison, and Sharma.

While the Liberal candidate chatted with the owner and patrons at a cafe where the news conference was due to take place, Morrison did not turn up and Phelps arrived instead.

It’s unclear why the media event was cancelled after the unexpected arrival of Phelps, who operates a GP surgery 400 metres away.

She told the media she now believed it was important to hand out a how-to-vote card given the number of candidates running. Labor’s Murray and the independent investment manager Licia Heath are among 11 people who have announced their candidacy.

Phelps said she was a “true independent” and rejected claims of connections with the Labor party, after it was revealed her campaign was being coordinated by the former Labor strategist Darrin Barnett.

The Liberal party has never lost the seat of Wentworth, which goes to the polls on 20 October.


Corrupt Egyptian woman finally cornered

An obvious psychopath who floated on a sea of lies.  Why did it take 10 years to catch her? Was it because she is a Muslim and must not be doubted?

The New South Wales corruption watchdog has recommended former Australian of the Year state finalist Eman Sharobeem be prosecuted for misconduct in public office for rorting almost $800,000 from charities.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption on Wednesday made 24 serious corrupt conduct findings against Ms Sharobeem following a lengthy inquiry held last year.

The commission heard that the purchases were made between 2007 and 2016 and billed to the now-defunct Immigrant Women's Health Service while Ms Sharobeem was CEO of the organisation.      
The Independent Commission Against Corruption found that

'The commission finds that between 2007 and early 2016 Ms Sharobeem improperly exercised her official functions while service manager or chief executive of the Immigrant Women's Health Service and the person in day-to-day charge of the Non-English Speaking Housing Women's Scheme,' the commission said in a statement.

ICAC found Ms Sharobeem transferred more than $440,000 of IWHS funds to her own bank account and used IWHS funds for various other personal purchases and expenses including $30,000 in payments to Sydney Water and the State Debt Recovery Office and $18,000 towards the purchase of a Mercedes for her husband.

She also spent $13,500 on jewellery and used company funds to pay for botox, the commission found.

Ms Sharobeem further arranged for the IWHS to pay $60,000 for work on her Fairfield property; submitted $140,000 in invoices that falsely claimed she and her sons worked as facilitators; and transferred $3000 from the NESH bank account to her own to reimburse herself for payments she made for her son's liposuction.

'I want to die, I've been framed, I want to die,' Ms Sharobeem said at the beginning of the inquiry when claiming her colleagues had set her up.

At another time she said: 'I wouldn't take the organisation's money and pay for a Mercedes. I'm not stupid.'

On the final day of the hearings, she insisted: 'My work is known, my work is shown. You cannot take this away from me until the grave.'

The ICAC on Wednesday said 'consideration should be given to obtaining the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions with respect to the prosecution of Ms Sharobeem for various offences' including misconduct in public office, fraud, obtaining benefit by deception, publishing a false statement, using a false document and giving false or misleading evidence.

The commission also made 12 corruption prevention recommendations to the two NSW government agencies that substantially funded the IWHS and the NESH.


It’s official: Australia spends more than enough on schools

The education debate at the next federal election is shaping up to be about the magnitude of future school funding increases: the Coalition want a big increase, Labor want an even bigger increase, and neither provide any evidence that it’s necessary.

But the latest data highlights the futility of more school spending. The annual OECD Education at a Glance report was released last week, and in breaking news that should shock no one, Australia spends much more on schooling than the OECD average and several top-performing countries.

So… our falling education results on international tests can’t be attributed to not spending enough taxpayer money.

Australia spends a higher dollar amount per student in both primary and secondary than the OECD average, and some top-performing countries like Japan and Finland. Furthermore, Australia spends 3.8% of GDP on school education, higher than the OECD average of 3.5%. And 13.5% of total Australian government expenditure is on education, compared to the OECD average of 11.1%, despite absurd claims to the contrary.

The OECD figures are from 2015, which means they do not take into account the larger recent ‘Gonski funding’ increases in Australia. So they likely understate how much Australia spends compared to the rest of the world. Of course, we can still argue about how school funding can be better distributed or if some schools are underfunded. But our total spending amount is enough.

Another interesting finding of the OECD report is regarding equity of education outcomes by student socioeconomic status, with Australia being at or slightly above the OECD average for equity. This is consistent with previous research findings and undermines the ubiquitous claim that the non-government school sector causes ‘social segregation’. Australia has a relatively high proportion of students attending non-government schools, about 34%, more than double the OECD average of around 16%. And yet this hasn’t led to more student inequality (even if we accept that equity of student academic performance should be the key metric, which is arguable).

Australia can do better. But more spending and blaming non-government schools isn’t the solution.


You protest, you pay: Education Minister's bid to bolster free speech at universities

Students and activists who protest at campus events would have to pay for their own security under a plan being pressed upon Australia's major universities by federal Education Minister Dan Tehan.

Mr Tehan put the idea to Group of Eight vice-chancellors on Thursday night as they met to discuss a string of incidents that the Morrison government believe show free speech under threat.

That included a speech by controversial author Bettina Arndt to the Sydney University Liberal Club, which was charged for security. The event was targeted by left-wing students opposed to Arndt's view that there is no such thing as a "rape crisis" on Australian university campuses.

Last month the University of Western Australia cancelled a talk by American transgender sceptic Quentin Van Meter, saying the organisers had been unable to provide the risk paperwork in time.

"We've seen some examples where groups have tried to prevent forums taking place, and I think what we have to ensure is that where that is happening, there is an ability - especially on our university campuses - for those events to go ahead," Mr Tehan told Fairfax Media on Friday.

"We want to make sure that there are procedures and structures in place that mean events can occur ... and not be put in jeopardy because of increased security costs.

"It might well be those people who seek to disrupt [who] might have to end up bearing some of the responsibility of the financial cost. It should not be based solely on those who want to run events [having to pay]."

Mr Tehan acknowledged the Sydney University event ultimately went ahead as planned, but said the problem was becoming more frequent and should be dealt with right away. But the vice-chancellors told Mr Tehan they already have measures to protect free speech on campus.

"They said they have policies in place, they’ve agreed to provide me with those policies," Mr Tehan told Fairfax Media.

Sydney University vice-chancellor Michael Spence was unable to attend the meeting with Mr Tehan. But in a statement, a university spokeswoman said: "We'd be interested to hear any suggestions the minister has in practice for charging a crowd of protesters, only some of whom may be members of the university."

The Sydney University Liberal Club was charged $475 for security for the event. But it never had to foot the bill - it was paid by Victorian Liberal Party president Michael Kroger, who cut a cheque for $5000 to cover all the event's costs.

Asked how to enforce a "you protest, you pay" policy, SULC president Jack O'Brien said one could "identify key protesters and the key organisations that ran the protest", and send them the bill. "We want to see a bit of action on this," Mr O'Brien said on Friday. "It's a bit disgraceful."


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

Will Guatemala’s Stalemate Over CICIG Continue?

I have some comments on recent developments in Guatemala for the Inter-American Dialogue’s daily Latin America Advisor in Will Guatemala's Stalemate Over CICIG Continue?
CICIG has established itself as an indispensable instrument in the fight against corruption and impunity in Guatemala. Hundreds of individuals, including several members of the political and economic elite, are awaiting trial or have already been convicted on various corruption charges. Those currently under investigation include President Jimmy Morales and members of his family and political party.
As a result, Morales and his allies have launched an all-out assault on CICIG. There is no reason to believe that Morales’ actions have been made in the best interests of the Guatemalan people.
You can read the rest of my answer and those of Mario Polanco, director of Grupo de Apoyo Mútuo in Guatemala City, Donald J. Planty, senior advisor to Albright Stonebridge Group in Washington and former U.S. ambassador to Guatemala, Adriana Beltrán, director for citizen security at the Washington Office on Latin America, and Helen Mack, founder and executive director of the Myrna Mack Foundation here.