Monthly Archives: October 2018

Chairs to Haunt Your Dreams This Hallow’s Eve

It is All Hallow's Eve once again, and here at Political Calculations, that means taking time out to engage in what some might call pure silliness, but we call a public service. Because on this day, as on Halloweens past, we find the fear in furniture, where everyday objects lose their comfort and charm and instead become something... sinister.

This year's journey into the dark side of seating begins with a truly terrifying design concept: the Terra! Grass Chair. This was a Kickstarter project that combined a cardboard pattern, dirt and grass seed to create outdoor seating. The kind that you can easily hide bodies under.

Terra! Grass Chair

As a general rule, seating is meant to facilitate social activity, where sharing comfort is key. But what if you despise such things?

Perhaps then, you might consider the Delirium Chair, which has been described as "a tribute to a balance between city and nature, artificial and natural, Techne and Psyche", whose "form flows organically but also reminds us of rigid systems like highways".

Delirium Chair

You can see artistic shots of the Delirium Chair interacting with people (or rather, a professional model) here, where if you pay close attention to the design, you'll appreciate its potential application for use in public settings where preventing homeless people from sleeping upon the public's furniture is a desired objective.

Meanwhile, for those who do like to occasionally have friends over, but who don't want to invest a lot in their comfort, the Social Chair Set, which is the result of a student design project, solves the problem of how to have extra chairs when you need them and also how to store them when they're not around.

Social Chair

On the other hand, it does beat the alternative of those folding card table-style chairs!

Now, what if you don't like having people over, but still have to have them anyway? You can sent a strong message about how long they should stay by providing the illusion of playful comfort while keeping them continually off balance with the "Teeter and Tot Chairs".

Teeter and Tot Chair

This furniture concept requires a quote from the student designers:

Teeter and Tot look unsuspecting as chairs. When sat on, they unexpectedly collapse. George Duan and Megan Lee designed Teeter and Tot chairs for office lounge spaces to revitalize risky play in everyday adult lives. The person who sits on Teeter or Tot will experience a sudden, unexpected drop. This falling sensation will inevitably send a strong adrenaline rush through his or her body. Sitting on Teeter and Tot is a chance for adults to experience something unexpected, exciting, and fun in their mundane office lives.

We carefully designed the structure of these chairs to ensure the safety of users, while creating risky, fun experiences for them. Through several prototype iterations, we adjusted the mechanism of the chairs to drop in height just enough to surprise users, but not fall off the chair. Teeter and Tot are upholstered from head to toe with soft materials to absorb the shock from the drop while providing another layer of safety protection for users.

Our final chair of terror is a futuristic concept that makes it possible for you to sit anywhere. Meet the Lex Bionic Chair, which isn't a chair so much as it is a fanny pack that stows two wearable legs that allow you to sit anywhere there isn't a chair, with perfect posture. Watch the video....

Believe it or not, this is the "most funded exoskeleton on Kickstarter". The future of furniture has arrived, and it's just as terrifying as we all have hoped!

Australian Politics 2018-10-31 15:44:00


Australia: Endangered Koalas?

More stupid Greenie prophecy. If they ever get a disaster prophecy right will be the time to heed them, and not before.  As it is, this is just another of their old scares.  Scares are their stock in trade.

And it is as dishonest as usual. They say, for instance, that Koalas are "at serious risk of disappearing entirely from some areas".  A more honest statement would be that Koalas are "at serious risk of disappearing entirely from some areas while being in pest proportions in other areas, such as Kangaroo Island in South Australia".  There is no truth in them (John 8:44)

EARTH has lost a staggering 60 per cent of its wildlife populations since 1970, a bleak new report has revealed.

But koala numbers in Australia have declined at an even faster rate, and the beloved national animal is at serious risk of disappearing entirely from some areas.

The group WWF today released its Living Planet Report, a comprehensive study tracking 16,704 populations of 4005 vertebrate species across the world from 1970 to 2014.

It described the global decline in species — an average rate of 13.6 per cent every 10 years, or 60 per cent in total — as a “grim” result of the pressure humans place on nature.

While the figures are alarming, koala populations along Australia’s east coast have plummeted even faster, at a rate of 21 per cent per decade.

That shocking statistic can be explained by another figure in the report — eastern Australia is one of the 11 worst deforestation fronts in the world, and the only developed country on the list.

“It is a wakeup call for our east coast to appear alongside notorious forest destruction hot spots such as the Amazon, Congo Basin, Sumatra and Borneo,” WWF Australia boss Dermot O’Gorman said.

Clearing for livestock is listed as the primary cause of forest loss, with unsustainable logging an important secondary cause.

By 2050, koalas are likely to disappear completely from the wild in NSW, WWF Australia estimates.

The group blames the axing of forest protection laws by the State Government, saying it all but signing the species’ death warrant.

“The Government needs to urgently reverse its recent axing of laws that has led to a tripling of koala habitat destruction in northwest NSW,” Mr O’Gorman said.


Anti-Islam activist Tommy Robinson joins Proud Boys founder’s Australian tour

ANTI-ISLAM campaigner Tommy Robinson has announced he will join Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes on his Australian tour in December, in a move likely to increase pressure on the government to ban the right-wing activists from entering the country.

Robinson, real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, is the former leader of the English Defence League and is one of the most prominent anti-Islam voices in the UK. Earlier this year he spent two months in jail after being sentenced for contempt of court for live-streaming outside a “grooming gang” trial.

The 35-year-old was released on bail in August and ordered to face a retrial. A judge last week referred the long-running case to the attorney-general to determine whether it should be dropped.

In a Facebook video on Monday, Robinson said he was coming to Australia to “thank everyone” for their support, “providing all is good”. “We’re going to see over the next couple of days,” he said.

“I guess there’s going to be a lot of people getting triggered in Australia and hopefully a lot of people happy I’ll be coming. Eight weeks ago I was sitting in solitary confinement in prison, and now I’m probably going to address American Congress and speak in cities across Australia.”

The tour, dubbed “The Deplorables”, is being organised by Penthouse magazine and follows controversial visits by right-wing provocateurs Milo Yiannopoulos and Lauren Southern, both of which were marred by clashes between attendees and protesters.

There are growing calls for McInnes to have his visa rejected on character grounds. The former Vice co-founder has described his Proud Boys group as a “gang” and encourages members to brawl with left-wing groups like Antifa.

Anti-Defamation Commission chairman Dr Dvir Abramovich called on Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton to reject both men’s visas, saying the tour would “whip up fear and unrest in our nation and should be of grave concern”.

He said McInnes held “hateful, anti-Semitic and abhorrent views” and he would “not be surprised if one of his rallies will result in rioting in the streets as well as in violence and bloodshed”.

“This is an individual who has said that he hates Jews and who has demonised Muslims, women, Africans and gays, and who brought a sword to an event and performed a re-enactment of the assassination of Japanese leader Inejiro Asanuma — a killing he described an ‘inspiring moment’ in history,” he said.

Dr Abramovich said in the aftermath of the Pittsburgh massacre and a surge in anti-Semitism, “we should not be giving McInnes a platform to spew his vile rhetoric”.

On Robinson, Dr Abramovich said it was “alarming that a far-right extremist and white-nationalist” was planning to visit Australia.

“Mr Robinson has a number of criminal convictions and has served time in prison for contempt and for trying to enter the US with a false passport,” he said.

“Allowing an individual, whose group has engaged in threats and incidents of violence with police, and who through fiery rhetoric and race-baiting promotes religious bigotry and vilification, would be a mistake.”

In his Facebook video, Robinson said he knew there would be “a lot of people trying to stop” his visit and that there would be “many people who know very little about me spreading lies and rumours and just out and out bulls**t about who I am and what I stand for”.

“They’ll be saying I’m a white supremacist,” he said. “For the record, I despise white supremacy. I’ve got a 10-year history of battling and confronting genuine Nazis. The real far-right hate me and despise me in my own country, I’m known as a race traitor.”

Penthouse publisher Damien Costas denied Robinson was Islamophobic. “There’s a big difference between Muslims and the perceived ideology of Islam,” he said.

“In my opinion, people don’t have a problem with Muslims, I think they have a problem with extreme Islam and the issues that come with that. I would say the vast majority of Australians don’t have an issue with multiculturalism, it’s when certain groups start advocating a nation with two separate sets of laws. That’s a very different story and a very divisive notion.”

He also claimed McInnes “doesn’t advocate violence at all”. “He’s a comedian, he advocates self-defence,” he said.

“It’s easy to take what he says out of context and silly to do so. For a number of years, conservatives, especially in the US, have been told to turn the other cheek and take a beating from groups like Antifa because violence is wrong. Now it’s at the point where it’s expected. That’s just wrong.”

He added historically “in many cases, the authorities haven’t intervened”. “There’s now an attitude that if the police are not going to get involved, the victims should hit back,” he said. “That’s a very sad state of affairs.”

Speaking to in August, McInnes said he saw it as a “comedy tour” but predicted it would draw violent left-wing protesters.

“I don’t know why,” he said. “We don’t come to their things. I don’t understand why there’s a problem with free speech. Why is that seen as a threat?”

He added “people will show up and if they want to fight, I’m happy to fight”. “Our motto is we don’t start fights but we’re happy to finish them,” he said.

A spokesperson for the Department of Home Affairs declined to say whether visas for the pair would be rejected. “The Department does not comment on individual cases,” they said.

“All non-citizens entering Australia must meet the character requirements set out in the Migration Act 1958 (the Act), prior to the grant of any visa. For visitors who may hold controversial views, any risk they may pose will be balanced against Australia’s well established freedom of speech and freedom of beliefs, among other relevant considerations.”


Another charming Muslim immigrant

EUAN Fraser’s night out in Melbourne almost cost him his life. The 30-year-old former cage fighter from Dundee in Scotland was holidaying Down Under last year.

Inside a taxi on the way home to Aberfeldie, just north of the CBD, in the early hours of the morning on June 12, 2017, Mr Fraser and his driver started talking about religion.

Mr Fraser says what seemed like a casual chat enraged the driver to such an extent that he grabbed a weapon from his car, followed his passenger to the door and beat him almost to death with it.

His victim was left with bleeding on the brain, broken ribs, a dislocated shoulder and significant facial injuries — but the man responsible is still on the loose.

Mr Fraser’s girlfriend Sharon Macrae told her partner was “not doing great”.

“The driver struck him from behind with a crowbar,” she said. “(He) suffers bad PTSD and has recurring flashbacks and nightmares which means he hardly sleeps.

“It’s a terrible shame and it breaks my heart.”

Mr Fraser called an Uber to get from his home to hospital. Pictures taken shortly after the attack show his face bloodied. In the images, he wears a neck brace and a hospital gown and reportedly required several stitches.

UK-based newspaper The Scotsman reports Mr Fraser paid more than $AU7200 (£4000) for medical treatment but was reimbursed a percentage of that — about $AU4500 (£2500) in compensation by the Australian Government.

The conversation inside the cab before Mr Fraser was attacked involved him telling the taxi driver he was atheist. The driver, who Mr Fraser says is a Muslim, reportedly took offence.

“As I got out of the taxi I just heard footsteps behind me and heard a loud bang,” Mr Fraser told local newspapers. “Then I felt this immense pain in my head and I was knocked clean out.”

Mr Fraser said the house was covered in blood and later “looked like a murder scene”.

During his Mixed Martial Arts fighting days, Mr Fraser weighed 102kgs and fought in the UK’s light heavyweight division. He described himself in one interview as “a real crowd pleaser”.

Aberfeldie, where Mr Fraser was attacked, ranked 57 out of 351 Melbourne suburbs for liveability in 2015, according to Domain.

The suburb bordering Essendon has a relatively low crime rate but the City of Moonee Valley, which covers Aberfeldie, saw 614 assault related offences committed in 2017.

That figure was down this year to 510. approached Victoria Police for comment. In a statement, police said they are investigating.

“It is believed a man was standing outside his home address on Fawkner Street in the early hours of the morning when he was struck in the back of the head by an unknown offender,” the statement said.

“The victim, 29-years-old at the time, sustained serious head injuries. The victim reported having a verbal altercation with a taxi driver prior to the incident.

“Investigators have not identified the offender at this stage and the investigation remains ongoing.”


Finally, Keating can see the folly of his super scheme

If you were in any doubt our system of compulsory superannuation is essentially pointless, other than making industry players extremely wealthy, check out the latest suggestion from the father of the scheme, former prime minister Paul Keating.

Evidently, superannuation is of no use to many people over 80 because their superannuation balances will be largely exhausted.

“We have no policy in Australia for the 80 to 100-year-old cohort,” he said. “I don’t believe that should be left to superannuation. I think it should be a national insurance scheme. Only the commonwealth can insure across generations.”

Take it from me: it’s time to be afraid. With an insurance scheme comes the payment of premiums — by us. In the past, Keating raised the possibility of levying an additional 2 to 3 per cent on wages, a so-called longevity levy, to look after the oldies. He also might be inclined to support yet another surcharge on the Medicare levy.

So what is the purpose of superannuation, a form of compulsory saving? In theory it is to substitute or supplement the Age Pension. Mostly it acts simply as a source of additional income above the Age Pension amount or a nest egg to be cashed in.

There is no expectation that the proportion of totally self-funded retirees will change during the next several decades even though the system of compulsory superannuation has been here for almost 30 years.

Assuming that no political leader will have the courage to pull the plug on the superannuation racket any time soon, what are the glaring faults of the system that need to be remedied?

In particular, how can the highly respected Future Fund become an integral part of the system to drive down fees and charges as well as secure a better deal for members more generally?

One of the egregious features of compulsory superannuation is the mistreatment of young workers (and some others) with multiple accounts. Having worked several jobs in their late teens and through their 20s, it is common for young people to find their cumulative superannuation balances are close to zero when they hit 30.

Fees and charges are continuously subtracted from low-balance accounts and unwanted insurance premiums are deducted for death and disability cover and sometimes for income protection. Balances are quickly depleted. The funds mainly have stood by and allowed this to happen.

The previous minster responsible for superannuation, Kelly O’Dwyer, had developed a package of legislative initiatives to deal with some of the problems under the Protecting Your Superannuation Package.

The changes include:

* Three per cent maximum on fees and costs for low-balance My­Super accounts below $6000.

* Opt-in insurance for new members aged under 25, members of low-balance accounts and members with inactive accounts.

* Transfer of inactive low-balance accounts to the Australian Taxation Office.

* The consolidation of inactive, low-balance and lost accounts by the ATO.

These make sense and should be passed swiftly by the Senate.

It is estimated that more than $3 billion is paid in terms of unwanted or pointless insurance by young people. Note, however, should young people or others with low-balance accounts wish to buy insurance within their superannuation accounts, they will be perfectly free to do so.

A significant unsettled issue is the status of the default arrangements applying to new workers who fail to nominate a superannuation fund. For award covered workers, the modern awards set out a small list of funds, overwhelmingly industry funds, from which the employer can select.

Additionally, for a significant number covered by enterprise agreements — about 40 per cent of workers — a single superannuation fund is nominated and new workers are signed up to it. These workers have no choice even though they already may be members of other funds. These arrangements should be prohibited by law.

According to the Productivity Commission’s recent analysis of superannuation, the default arrangements are defective because they do not always direct workers to funds with superior returns (there are some industry super funds that have very poor records). The system also lacks transparency and is anti-competitive.

The Productivity Commission sets out a possible alternative based on 10 best-in-show funds that would be used by the ATO to enrol workers and to keep them there across time. Using a variety of criteria, these 10 funds would be selected by experts (there is talk of involving various government officials, including the governor of the Reserve Bank) and the competition would be repeated from time to time.

But the idea is unworkable. It would trigger the mother of all bunfights. It also is hard to see how funds, once on the list, would ever be dislodged, given the economies of scale and scope being on the list would entail.

The obvious alternative is to use the vehicle of the Future Fund as the key mechanism to receive default superannuation contributions. We’d need an agency — let’s call it the Australian Superannuation Guarantee Agency — and the administration and custodial functions could be outsourced, as they are with many funds. And other workers would be free to join. The Future Fund would be the wholesale investor of the funds, although the ASGA would be free to consider other fund managers.

With the likely annual flow of funds of about $10bn, ASGA quickly would achieve the required economic scale, and its fees and charges should be lower than the prevailing rates, putting competitive pressure on others to lower their fees and charges.

There are examples of these arrangements overseas and they work well. The argument that involving the Future Fund implies some sort of government guarantee — this was used by the Productivity Commission to dismiss the idea — is fallacious. There would be no more government guarantee for ASGA members than for all other superannuation fund members. If the superannuation system is to stay, and recall Keating’s declaration that it is useless for real old­ies, its more glaring faults must be fixed urgently.


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

Australian Politics 2018-10-30 15:36:00


The terrifying moment a cyclist is rammed by a furious motorist

The driver immediately points to a place behind both of them -- suggesting that the cyclist had previously done something offensive to provoke the attack.  Just a rude gesture can infuriate some people.  The court judgment would have been based on all the facts, not just a video, and would presumably be appropriate. Provocation is a defence.

Cyclists can be very arrogant and irritating -- drunk on testerone at times.  I wouldn't do it myself but I would like to see more of them knocked off their bikes.  It may be what is needed to restore civility and consideration of others to some of them

SHOCKING dashcam footage has been released of the moment a Victorian man rammed his 4WD into a cyclist before getting out of his car to scream at him.

The clip was posted to YouTube on Saturday but was actually taken during an incident that occurred in November last year.

According to the YouTube user, “the owner of the video only decided to post it” over the weekend.

The video, titled “A cowards attack on a vulnerable road user”, shows a man pedalling in the cyclist lane, beside a 4WD on a suburban street in broad daylight.

About 10-seconds into the clip, the 4WD swerves deliberately to the left, hitting the innocent cyclist and sending him flying off his bike and on to the pavement.

Seemingly in shock, the cyclist stands up, checks his pockets and starts feeling his shoulder for injuries.

But by this time, the motorist has already pulled over and is stalking over to the cyclist, yelling and jabbing his finger towards him.

Barely able to contain his rage, the motorist picks up the cyclist’s bike and throws it into the bushes as the cyclist stands and watches helplessly.

The clip was accompanied by a caption condemning the motorist’s actions. “There is nothing that can justify this type of driving, even though it is nearly a year old, it is still a shocking insight (into) those that road rage,” the caption read.

“There is no reason, no law … that could possibly justify the actions of this driver.”

It is understood that the driver was charged by police with Reckless Driving Causing Injury and fined $1000.

The clip has been seen more than 10,600 times, with people furious that the motorist got off with such a lenient penalty.

“Driver should have been jailed for assault with a deadly weapon. Never to have a license again on release,” Geoff Semon wrote.

Another user, named Stewart, wrote that charge did not suit the attack. “If instead he had been charged with assault (and assault with a deadly weapon) then the punishment could have been much greater,” Stewart said.

“Given that this occurred late last year, it is overwhelmingly likely (that) Mr Road Rage is back behind the wheel already”.


William Shakespeare is slammed as a racist who helped spread 'white supremacy' on Q&A

Sheer ignorance. Has she ever studied a Shakespeare play?

English playwright William Shakespeare has been described as a 'whitesplainer' and a product of 'white supremacy' on the ABC's Q&A program.

Audience member Katriona Robertson started the discussion by asking how The Bard, often described as the greatest English language writer of all time, could be relevant in the 21st century.

'What kind of influence can a 454-year-old dead white guy have on Australia's varied cultural landscape without whitesplaining things?' she said.

Indigenous actress Nakkiah Lui, 27, answered by suggesting there was a racist element to Shakespeare's writing. 'I'd like to be able to call Shakespeare 'white classics',' she said. 'We identify that the canon in which we draw so much of our culture is actually racialised.'

Lui, who has previously featured in an ABC indigenous comedy skit describing white people as 'c***s', disputed Q&A host Tony Jones's suggestion that Shakespeare's writing on the human condition was 'beyond race'.

'I don't think bringing up race is a bad thing. Let's talk about race when it comes to whiteness as well,' she said.

'One of the reasons Shakespeare is so prolific is because he was a white guy.

'Because white supremacy is something that has been very prevalent around the world. Part of that is bringing in culture and Shakespeare's part of that.'

The theatre-special panel show in Sydney was discussing how Shakespeare had written about a black general in Othello.

Elements of the arts community use the term 'cultural appropriation' to disparage the idea of Europeans writing about ethnic minorities.

Lui, a co-writer of the ABC series Black Comedy, suggested telling the modern stories of racial minorities.

'I would like to see the way that we all still continue to embrace Shakespeare is to start to embrace the stories of people who aren't Shakespeare: the people who are young, who are people of colour, gender,' she said.

'People who don't necessarily fit the role or who don't come from the culture Shakespeare came from.'

Shakespeare died at age 52 in 1616, 172 years before the British First Fleet sailed into Sydney Harbour.

The bard who penned masterpieces Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Much Ado About Nothing and the Merchant of Venice died 150 years before the Industrial Revolution began, leading to Great Britain embarking on imperial expansion.


Trad 'mock outrage' over 'racist' comment

Queensland treasurer Jackie Trad has been accused of "mock outrage" after calling on the opposition's deputy leader to resign for his "racist" comparison of her to Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's former propaganda chief.

Tim Mander likened Ms Trad, who is of Lebanese background, to "Comical Ali" while slamming her economic credentials at state parliament on Tuesday.

Comical Ali was the nickname of Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf, the spokesman for the Hussein regime during the 2003 Iraq War who frequently claimed Iraq was winning as coalition forces won battles.

Ms Trad said Mr Mander's comments were "deeply alarming and personally offensive".

"There are so many other references Tim Mander could have chosen to make his point but he chose a racially-based reference in relation to my background," Ms Trad said.

She called on Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington to sack Mr Mander if he didn't stand down.

Ms Frecklington cancelled a scheduled press conference and a statement was issued on behalf of Mr Mander, saying he didn't believe Ms Trad's concern was genuine.

"Labor's mock outrage today at my statement about their economic incompetence shows how out of touch Annastacia Palaszczuk's government really is," he said.

It is not the first time Ms Trad has been the target of racially based slurs from the LNP.

Member for Oodgeroo Mark Robinson called her "Jihad Jackie" on social media earlier this year.

Mermaid Waters MP Ray Stevens also called Ms Trad "Jihad Jackie" a number of times while the LNP were in office between 2012 and 2015.


Foreign threats to free speech at Australian universities

The growing concern about academic freedom and free speech on university campuses typically relates to illiberal student activists shutting down debate. But there is potentially a more subtle threat to free speech in higher education coming from foreign governments, especially China.

At a CIS breakfast on Monday, NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes outlined his concerns regarding Australian universities being too reliant on international students — to a point that undermines academic independence.

“When academics who criticise certain countries are hauled before senior diplomats to explain themselves, or when universities self-censor by using teaching materials that conform with foreign government propaganda so as to not upset international student cohorts, we have a duty as educators to speak out”, he said.

This may be controversial in some timid quarters but it shouldn’t be. To be clear, no one is suggesting that having large numbers of international students in Australia is a bad thing. Education is Australia’s third-largest export, and international students are an essential part of our higher education sector and university culture.

But given recent cases where academic independence appears to have been undermined on topics regarding Chinese politics, we should be vigilant.

Of course, some people will argue this problem at universities is imagined or exaggerated. Is there any concrete evidence of widespread political interference from China in Australian higher education? Surely, the more fee-paying international students studying here, the better for our economy? And shouldn’t we be far more concerned about attempts by local university student activists to restrict free speech?

Even if we concede the sceptics may have a point, one thing is certain: this is an issue worth debating. We can’t be afraid of identifying potential overseas threats to our universities’ independence out of fear of upsetting foreign governments.

Kudos to Minister Stokes for kick-starting the debate.


Institute of Public Affairs blasts Australian goverment's  'un-Liberal' energy policies

IPA’s John Roskam says government should ‘stop all subsidies to coal, wind and anything else’

The Institute of Public Affairs has blasted the Morrison government’s “big stick” in energy policy – a threat to break up energy companies in a bid to lower prices – accusing it of breaching Liberal values and endangering investment.

The IPA executive director, John Roskam, told Guardian Australia that “heavy-handed intervention” was “positively un-Liberal” and would open the door for Labor to campaign on policies bashing big businesses – which are “simply responding to the policy settings the government itself has created” to make a profit.

Roskam also warned against any form of subsidy for electricity generation including renewables subsidies, underwriting new power generation and indemnifying coal power against a possible future carbon price.

The intervention from the influential rightwing thinktank exposes divisions in the conservative side of politics on energy policy. Some, including MP Craig Kelly and former prime minister Tony Abbott, have called for an end to renewable subsidies and withdrawal from the Paris agreement, in line with demands from the IPA.

The Morrison government has indicated it wants to preserve popular solar subsidies and to stay in Paris while it pushes ahead with competition measures to lower price in the absence of a policy to reduce emissions by 2030.

Roskam said breaking up energy companies “continues the trend of targeting particular industries” as the Coalition did with the bank tax in the 2017 budget and would “further confuse Australians” about what it stands for.

“The idea that the government would determine the shape and size of the industry in this way cuts across every principle of the Liberal party,” he said. “If you want a guarantee that nobody will ever invest in Australia again, this is how you do it.”

The Coalition has promised policies to encourage new generation – including providing a floor price, contracts for difference and government loans – and has not ruled out using those measures to support new coal-fired power stations.

The energy minister, Angus Taylor, has said the government should address investors’ concerns about “political risks”, in a sign it could also indemnify coal power against future emissions reduction policies such as a carbon price. Taylor has also said there is “no plan” to change the small-scale renewable energy scheme.

Roskam said the government should “stop all subsidies to coal, wind and anything else” because “picking winners should be an anathema to the Liberal party”.

Although the IPA wants to see more coal power, Roskam said the government should “reduce the regulatory barriers to them being funded”, not keep the barriers and overcome them with subsidies.

He said he had “some sympathy” for the idea the government should “compensate coal for the disadvantage they have been put under” by support for renewables, but warned that indemnifying coal against political risk would be a “further distortion” in the market.

Roskam said the Liberal Party is “hopelessly conflicted on climate change” and “riven down the middle”. He warned the party can not appeal both to “rich people virtue-signalling because they can afford to” in the blue-ribbon seat of Wentworth who want emissions reduction, and voters who want lower power prices in Longman in Queensland, both sites of recent byelection defeats.

“Wentworth is not Australia,” Roskam said, echoing conservative commentators who have played down the byelection defeat.

The sentiment is not shared by moderate Liberal MPs who privately note the Liberals hold many seats with a base of supporters with high incomes and progressive social attitudes including Brisbane, Goldstein, Higgins, Kooyong, Warringah, Mackellar and North Sydney.

Roskam suggested the Liberal party should present a “sharp difference” with Labor by exiting the Paris agreement. “You can’t out virtue-signal the Labor party,” he said.

Despite the suggestion emissions and price reductions are incompatible, renewables are forecast to lower prices while coal subsidies would increase energy costs.

On Friday Scott Morrison told ABC’s AM that “all the information before us” is that Australia will meet its emissions reduction target of 26% by 2030, particularly due to “increased investment in renewables which is happening as a result of common sense and technology”.

The claim is contradicted by environment department figures showing emissions are rising and advice from the Energy Security Board that Australia will fall short under a business-as-usual scenario.

Morrison said the government needs to prioritise “making sure we’ve got reliable power”.


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

Inside the S&P 500 Correction

Since it peaked at an estimated $24.84 trillion on 20 September 2018, the S&P 500 (Index: SPX) has lost about $2.557 trillion in its total market capitalization through the close of trading on Monday, 29 October 2018, bringing its market cap down to $22.28 trillion, which is below the level where it closed 2017.

S&P 500 Total Market Capitalization, 29 December 2017 through 29 October 2018

Just five firms account for more than $1 out of every $5 of the total net loss of market cap that the S&P 500 has seen since 20 September 2018: Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN), Alphabet A and C (Nasdaq: GOOGL and GOOG), Facebook (Nasdaq: FB), and JP Morgan Chase (NYSE: JPM). The following chart illustrates the disproportionate bite that the market cap losses in these five firms has taken out of the S&P 500's net market cap loss over the last five weeks.

Net Loss in Market Capitalization of S&P 500 Component Firms, 20 September 2018 through 29 October 2018

The really astounding thing is that much of this loss has come just during the last two days of trading!

Investors who hold a larger share of these individual stocks in their investment portfolios than their component weighting in the S&P 500 index are feeling more pain than those who invested in the index itself in the market's latest correction. In particular, Amazon's decline has been particularly noteworthy, as the company has gone from becoming the second in history to touch a trillion dollar market cap in nominal terms to now losing its place as the second-most valuable company in the U.S. in just the matter of five weeks, as the company has shed $200 billion of its market cap.

29/10/18: Corporate Credit and the Debt Powder Keg

As it says on the tin: despite growth in earnings, the numbers of U.S. companies that are struggling with interest payments on the gargantuan mountain of corporate debt they carry remains high. The chart does not show those companies with EBIT/interest cover ratio below 1 that are at risk (e.g. with the ratio closer to 0.9) for the short term impact of rising interest rates. That said, the overall percent of firms classified as risky is at the third highest since the peak of the GFC. And that is some doing, given a decade of extremely low cost of debt financing.

Talking of a powder keg getting primed and fused…