Monthly Archives: June 2022

How Many Violent Offenders Return to Crime After Release from Prison?

Earlier this year, the U.S. Sentencing Commission released its study on the recidivism of violent offenders released from federal prisons in 2010. The study tracked some 13,883 individuals to find out how many might go on to be arrested for new crimes within nine years after they completed serving their original sentences. How many of these violent offenders would you predict returned to crime after their release from federal prisons?

We won't keep you in suspense. Within nine years of their release, 63.8% of this sample cohort of violent offenders were subsequently arrested for committing new crimes. No fewer than 26% of this criminal cohort were arrested for new crimes within the first year after they were released, while over half had done so within four years.

The following chart visualizes the Sentencing Commission's data for the number of violent offenders who were arrested for newly committed crimes within one to nine years after they were released from prison in 2010.

Number of Violent Offenders Rearrested for New Crimes Within Nine Years of Being Released from Federal Prison in 2010

We opted to present this data using a Sankey diagram to illustrate both the relative share of total offenders that went on to be arrested for committing new crimes and how many were added to that total within each year following their release from prison. 76.4% of these individuals had been sentenced for their original crimes after 12 January 2005, when the Supreme Court issued a ruling that affected U.S. federal sentencing guidelines, so the vast majority of these former prisoners had served fewer than five years in federal prisons before their release in 2010.


U.S. Sentencing Commission. Recidivism of Federal Violent Offenders Released in 2010. [PDF Document]. February 2022.

Australian Politics 2022-06-30 00:34:00


Census 2021: Boom time for middle Australia

The past five years have been revealed as a period of booming prosperity for middle Australia, with census data revealing the average Australian’s income increasing by 20 per cent between 2016 and 2021, or at twice the pace of living costs.

The median weekly income lifted from $662 in 2016 to $805, or equivalent to $41,900 a year, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Canberrans enjoy the highest average annual gross personal incomes in the country at $62,600 – 50 per cent above the national figure – according to the census, while Tasmanians earned the least, at $36,500.

After the ACT, the next highest earning jurisdictions were the resource-rich but sparsely populated Northern Territory – at $48,700 on average in 2021 – followed by similarly blessed Western Australia, where the median personal income was $44,100.

Among the big east-coast states, the averages were $42,300 in NSW, $41,800 in Victoria, and $40,900 in Queensland. South Australians on average earned $38,200 a year.

Victorians reported the fastest-paced growth in median incomes for individuals, up 25 per cent over the five years, and the NT the slowest, at 7 per cent.

Alongside booming housing and superannuation wealth, the ABS data painted a picture of five years of climbing national prosperity and rising real incomes.

Housing stress fell despite the strong upward trajectory for property prices, as rents failed to keep up with income growth, and home loan rates trended lower despite a climbing indebtedness.

Economists said this year’s surge in inflation to multi-decade highs, alongside what is anticipated will be a string of Reserve Bank rate hikes, presented a more challenging outlook over the coming 12-18 months.

The figures include the adult population from 15 years to above 85 years, including those who were unemployed or retired.

The data revealed about 40 per cent of Australian households reported annual personal income of more than $100,000, and a similar proportion said they earned under $78,000.

By household, the ACT recorded the highest median total personal income, at $123,400, and Tasmania the lowest, at $70,600.

Associate professor Ben Phillips at the ANU’s Centre for Social Research and Methods said the census showed, at least on the surface, that “it’s been a very good five years in terms of household living standards for a typical Australian family”.

He said there was little in the initial census data to show the trends around inequality, although the ABS’s use of the median figure meant the outcome had not been distorted by large moves at the top end of the income scale. “At least middle Australia is doing reasonably well – we don’t know about lower income groups, or in the regions,” he said.

“Overall, it’s a pretty rosy picture, although obviously with some potential storm clouds with rates and the general cost of living increases. There are more concerns about where we’re heading, rather than where we’ve been.”

The ABS figures revealed a lower proportion of Australians in housing stress.

The lift in median personal income since 2016 was twice the growth in average household rents, and three times that of mortgage costs.

Households spending more than 30 per cent of their income on mortgage payments – a common threshold for stress – fell from 19.3 per cent in 2016 to 14.5 per cent in 2021. The equivalent share or renting households under stress fell from 36 per cent to 32.2 per cent, the census showed.

Mr Phillips said “we’ve heard a lot about mortgage stress. For some people, this is true, like first-home buyers getting into the market. For the average punter on an existing rental arrangement or who got their housing loan five, 10, 15 years ago, they have done OK”.


Decline of Christianity is a loss for everyone

Amid all the social trends that this week’s census data reveals, none is more significant than the truly seismic collapse in religious belief, especially in Christian faith.

Doubtless, many will welcome this. Indeed, why should any of us have the “assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things unseen”, given – as we now know from a myriad of official ­reports – that the successors of St Peter have been guilty of the most appalling human betrayals. Even if there was once a Nazarene who said to his friend “you are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”, surely it was an impossible hope to think that any human institution could last millennia, especially when it has so often fallen so far short of its ideals. But lest we merely note this as just another one of the many interesting contemporary social trends, let’s consider the centrality of Christian inspiration to Western civilisation; and ponder the impact on the institutions and the attitudes we value, if the underlying religious convictions that created them are rapidly fading away.

Fifty years back, in 1971, 87 per cent of Australians identified as religious, and overwhelmingly as Christian. Now it’s just 54 per cent. And here’s the really striking feature: only five years ago, 52 per cent of us identified as Christian. Now it’s just 44 per cent. That’s an almost 20 per cent decline in Christian belief in just five years. Some of that will be people who don’t worship regularly anymore and feel fraudulent in ticking the religion box even though their faith is still with them. For others it represents a clear rejection of organised religion. Five years back, only 30 per cent of us identified as having no religion. Now it’s 39 per cent. That’s a 30 per cent leap in just five years, making no religion the fastest-growing “creed” in the country.

Why does that matter? It may not be fashionable to say so, but the way we live is unimaginable without a Christian cultural foundation. Our democracy, for instance, rests on the notion that everyone is equal in rights and dignity, something that’s come down to us through the Christian gospels. It’s on this very principle, as an example, that I reject the idea of a race-based body in our Constitution in the form of the Indigenous voice to the parliament and it’s disappointing to see some religious leaders support it because it’s an anathema to the fundamentals of Christian faith.

Elsewhere in our culture, our justice system rests on the notion that we should treat others as we’d be treated ourselves; again, something that’s come down to us through Christian teaching. Our sense of community too rests on the notion that we should “love our neighbours as we love ourselves”. It’s a commandment that lies at the heart of our volunteerism and philanthropy.

Then there’s the not insignificant matter of what religious organisations contribute in terms of social uplift. Beyond a values-based education, they run an abundance of health and community services. To reference the largest Christian denomination, the Catholic Church, as an example, there are 80 Catholic hospitals across the country and 25,000-plus aged-care beds in Catholic nursing homes, as well as social welfare bodies and charities with a broader Christian inspiration – from the Salvation Army, to the St Vincent de Paul Society, to Anglicare, to Lifeline, and Alcoholics Anonymous – all organisations that are generally thought to be serving Australians well, however discredited the zeitgeist might find the faith which inspires their good works.

For several decades, Christianity has been giving way to other religious and cultural traditions. The federal parliament might still start with the Lord’s Prayer but only after an acknowledgment of country. Christian beliefs and Christian representatives are routinely mocked and ridiculed in the public square (the witch hunt against Cardinal George Pell is only the most extreme instance) in a way that other faiths (Judaism perhaps excepted) never would be. And this can be expected to intensify, given that most schools are now not only indifferent but often hostile to Christian faith, and often ignorant too, to Christian knowledge.

Rightly, young Australians are taught to respect the Dreaming stories and Indigenous spirituality. But how many would be readily familiar with any of the Bible stories other than the Christmas one, despite their centrality in our culture? How many would understand the significance of Easter, except as a holiday with too much chocolate? Of course, faith is a matter of spiritual conversion that can’t be learnt like a lesson, but any Australian who’s not at least familiar with the gospels is culturally impoverished, even if not always spiritually worse off.

Tellingly, the census data this week revealed that mental illness is now our most prevalent chronic health condition (ahead of arthritis and asthma) and doubtless this owes much to the decline of the beliefs that gave the lives of our forebears spiritual comfort and purpose. As an imperfect Christian myself, who doesn’t always agree with the teachings of my faith, I don’t claim to know how an increasingly god-less ­society might be re-evangelised; just that there’s so much that we’ll miss when it’s gone, as individuals and as a society.

It’s worth noting another key feature of the census, the fact that a larger proportion of our population is born overseas than in any other developed country. More than 50 per cent of us are now foreign-born or have at least one ­foreign-born parent – and that’s much less, these days, in the UK or New Zealand, and increasingly in India and China.

Again, on the issue of the voice, creating two classes of ­Australian by virtue of their race risks unsettling the great multicultural nation we have become with the implicit message that only those with a demonstrated Aboriginal genealogy are legitimate; that the rest of us are somehow less worthy.

It goes without saying that professing religion doesn’t make anyone a better person. Still, in their own ways, every faith calls us to be better. Religious or not, Australia remains a wonderful country and the best place in the world to live. But there’s plenty to work on if we are to stay that way, and much we should protect.


A huge Marxist influence pervades education today

The NSW Liberal Senator Hollie Hughes gave a speech to the Sydney Institute identifying why the Scott Morrison government was defeated in the recent election. In doing so, she suggested that many young voters have been influenced by ‘an education system basically run by Marxists’.

There’s no doubt the popularity of the Greens Party and the so-called Teal independents was especially strong among voters under the age of 24 and with higher levels of education. There’s also no doubt since the late 60s and early 70s Australia’s education system has been infiltrated and dominated by the neo-Marxist inspired cultural-Left.

Despite the ALP’s education minister Jason Clare describing Senator Hughes’ comment as ‘just crazy’, the reality is those in control of Australia’s schools and universities have given up any pretence of being impartial, balanced, and objective.

As detailed in the chapters on school and tertiary education published in Cancel Culture and the Left’s Long March, Australia’s education system has long been captured by neo-Marxist inspired Critical Theory and cultural-Left ideology dedicated to overthrowing the status quo.

A commitment to a liberal education dealing with what TS Eliot describes as ‘the preservation of learning, for the pursuit of Truth, and in so far as men are capable of it, the attainment of wisdom’ has long been jettisoned in favour of using education to overthrow capitalism and undermine Western societies denounced as Eurocentric, racist, and misogynistic.

The school curriculum, in areas like Climate Change, gender and sexuality, multiculturalism, and Indigenous studies, is dominated by the cultural-Left. Generations of students have left school convinced about the impending apocalypse caused by man-made global warming, that gender and sexuality are social constructs and Western Civilisation is riven with structural sexism, racism, and xenophobia.

In her 1983 speech to the Fabian Society Joan Kirner, one-time Education Minister and Premier of Victoria, argues education has must be reshaped as ‘part of the socialist struggle for equality, participation and social change, rather than an instrument of the capitalist system’.

University faculties preach a rainbow alliance of liberating ideologies ranging from deconstructionism and postmodernism to radical gender, feminist, queer, and post-colonial theories. Trigger warnings, safe spaces, and diversity guidelines based on identity politics and victimhood abound.

Such is the destructive impact of cultural-Left ideology on universities, the ANU’s Pierre Ryckmans in his 1996 Boyer Lectures argues universities have long since been deprived of their ‘spiritual means of operation’. Ryckmans concludes the ‘main problem is not so much that the University as Western civilisation knew it, is now virtually dead, but that its death has hardly registered’.

For those who have read the Manifesto of the Communist Party by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, it should not surprise the cultural-Left has long since targeted education as a key institution in its long march to overthrow capitalism.

Central to the Manifesto is the conviction, ‘The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.’ Capitalist society subjugates and exploits workers and the aim of the communist party is to overthrow capitalism and achieve a socialist utopia where conflict disappears and all are free.

Marxists argue that instead of education and culture being inherently beneficial or worthwhile, capitalist society and the bourgeoisie use both as instruments to enforce their domination and control. Given its impact on workers, culture is condemned as ‘a mere training to act as a machine’.

Marx and Engels argue concepts like culture, freedom and the law are ‘but the outgrowth of the conditions of your bourgeois production and your bourgeois property’ and communism’s goal is ‘to rescue education from the influence of the ruling class’.

While published in 1848, the Manifesto continues to have a profound impact on schools and universities in Western societies like Australia. Drawing on Louis Althusser’s concept of the ideological state apparatus, where education is employed to impose capitalist hegemony, the argument is curriculum must be radically reshaped.

Instead of being objective and impartial and dealing with wisdom and truth, knowledge is seen as a social construct employed by the elites to indoctrinate students and future citizens to accept as normal what is inherently unjust and inequitable.

Since the late 70s, the Australian Education Union has argued students must be taught Australian society is characterised by inequality and injustice and teachers must decide whose side they are on in the battle against oppression.

The Australian Association for the Teaching of English, instead of formal grammar and syntax and enduring literary works, champions critical literacy based on the works of the Brazilian Marxist Paulo Freire. An approach where literary works are deconstructed and critiqued in terms of power relationships and students are conditioned to be new-age, cultural warriors.


The Teals as populists

Commentators on the hard-left love to throw around the word ‘populism’ as a sneer word to attack conservative movements or politicians. If you don’t like Donald Trump, you can dismiss him with a wave of the hand as a populist.

But are the Teal independents the real populists? In his book The Global Rise of Populism, Benjamin Moffitt argues that there are certain traits associated with typical populists. One is claiming that we are in a state of crisis, facing a life-threatening emergency. Does that sound like the Teal climate alarmists?

Another is persuading people that they (the populists) are not part of the establishment – and here we have the Teals making a song and dance about being political virgins unstained by the inadequate climate targets adopted by the major parties.

Populists are also likely to be drawn towards authoritarianism – such as forcing us all out of our (evil) petrol cars.

And populists tend to promote very few policies. Not for them the messy business of foreign affairs, national security and economic management. And that’s the Teals, isn’t it? Give them drastic climate action and a federal ICAC and their political philosophy is complete.

Narrow interests and an emotional appeal – does that sound like manipulative ‘populism’? It certainly sounds like the Teals




Future Dividend Watch at the End of 2022-Q2

What does the future hold for the dividends of the S&P 500 (Index: SPX)?

We're now in the gap between when the index' dividend futures contracts for 2022-Q2 have expired and the actual end of the calendar quarter, which makes it a good time to see what investors expect for the rest of the year. The good news is the outlook for the quarterly dividends per share of the S&P 500 has continued improving since we last checked them at the midpoint of 2022-Q2. Better yet, the futures data extends through 2023-Q2 so we can peer into the first half of 2023.

The following chart reveals those expectations as of Monday, 27 June 2022:

Past and Projected Quarterly Dividends Per Share Futures for S&P 500, 2021-Q2 Through 2023-Q1, Snapshot on 27 June 2022

Here's how the dividend futures have changed since our previous snapshot:

  • 2022-Q2: Up $0.07 per share.
  • 2022-Q3: Up $0.35 per share.
  • 2022-Q4: Up $0.50 per share.

These increases indicate an improved outlook for the S&P 500's dividends has developed over the last six weeks, which you would think would have boosted stock prices during this time. If you've been watching the stock market, you know they've fallen significantly instead and if you've been following our S&P 500 chaos series, you already know why the index has behaved as it has despite its improving outlook.

But this improving outlook may be in jeopardy. With recessionary risks now rising in the U.S., expectations for future dividends will take a greater role in shaping how stock prices behave. That's why we're increasing the cadence for presenting and analyzing future dividend data, which we'll now do at roughly six week intervals. Our next update will arrive in mid-August 2022 and will present the Summer 2022 snapshot of the future for S&P 500 dividends.

About Dividend Futures

Dividend futures indicate the amount of dividends per share to be paid out over the period covered by each quarters dividend futures contracts, which start on the day after the preceding quarter's dividend futures contracts expire and end on the third Friday of the month ending the indicated quarter. So for example, as determined by dividend futures contracts, the "current" quarter of 2022-Q3 began on Saturday, 18 March 2022 and will end on Friday, 16 September 2022.

That makes these figures different from the quarterly dividends per share figures reported by Standard and Poor, who reports the amount of dividends per share paid out during regular calendar quarters after the end of each quarter. This term mismatch accounts for the differences in dividends reported by both sources, with the biggest differences between the two typically seen in the first and fourth quarters of each year.


The past and projected data shown in this chart is from the CME Group's S&P 500 quarterly dividend index futures. The past data reflects the values reported by CME Group on the date the associated dividend futures contract expired, while the projected data reflects the values reported on 27 June 2022.

Australian Politics 2022-06-29 06:54:00


Alarming statistic reveals the depths of Australia's housing crisis as more than one million homes remain empty while renters struggle to find a place to live

This mismatch is almost entirely a government creation. As I said previously:

Only a minority of these homes will be actually unused but some will be -- particularly homes owned by people living overseas. Some owners are so wary of the unrecoverable damage that tenants can and do sometimes inflict that they regard protecting their investment as a higher priority than renting it out for income.

And given the extremely pro-tenant laws, who could be blamed for not wanting to tangle with tenants? Landlord protection laws would put most of the properties into the rental market but there is no prospect of such laws emerging. Government meddling in the market is once again producing perverse behaviour. Legislation designed to help tenants in fact hurts them. At the very least, it pushes up their costs

I in fact have a rental property that I do not rent out even though it is little used. I prefer to keep it available for occasional use by family rather than bother with tenants and all the "protections" that come with them. I am not even allowed to bar pets these days. Awful of me but if you smell what some pets do to carpet you will understand. I have been a landlord. I know.

If tenants want more choice of housing, they should be telling governments to back off but it's the opposite that's being advocated

Australia's housing crisis has been laid bare with new Census data revealing more than one million homes are sitting empty as renters struggle to find a place to live and first home buyers are locked out of the market.

Some desperate Aussies have even been forced to live out of caravans and tents, as they battle soaring cost of living pressures and one of the tightest rental markets in the nation's history.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed earlier this month, the national vacancy rate had dropped to just 1.1 per cent in April.

Census data released on Tuesday by the ABS, uncovered about one-in-10 Aussie houses - believed to be holiday homes and investment properties - are currently vacant.

Australian National University demographer, Dr Liz Allen, told The Project she's shocked by the contrast between the haves and have-nots.

'Let me tell you, it's a punch in the face for all those Gen X's and Millennials who have no hope of ever owning their own home,' she said.

'What this Census does is allows us to bare witness in real time, to the impacts Covid had across a wide range of things in Australian society.'

'This is by far and away a global first and something that the world will look to, to examine the impacts of Covid,' Dr Allen added.

The survey uncovered that of the 10.8 million private dwellings counted, 1,043,776 were vacant the night of Census.

Dr Allen added: 'The over one million homes should definitely be a priority for Governments across Australia to consider how we can truly make Australia fairer and redress housing inequality.'

She said that this can be achieved by considering this large chunk of homes that are 'just waiting for someone to move in.'

The Census identified more than 58,000 people were living in caravans, while almost 30,000 were living on houseboats.

The survey also revealed the ability for Aussies to own their home has dropped 10 per cent over the past 25 years, from 41.6 to 31 per cent.


New '$100M senator' gives first interview since election victory

After four weeks of 'sleepless nights'—as the AEC counted preferences; Ralph Babet finally made it across the line, taking a seat in the Australian Senate 'for the freedom movement'.

Dubbed the $100M senator, referencing the United Australia Party spend, Babet gave an exclusive first interview to Rebel News.

"I wanted to give you guys [Rebel News and Real Rukshan] the first scoop because you always present both sides of the argument", Babet said.

The newly elected senator says it's his mission to 'unite the freedom movement' in the lead-up to the Victorian State election.

"I believe the freedom movement was a little fragmented", he added.

Barbet went on to passionately urge Australians to get politically active.

"You need to get off your behind, and you need to work. Because if you want change. If you want real, measurable change, it comes from you. It doesn't come from me. It comes from you. So get up there. Do something about everything you hate that's happening in our world right now."


Rainbow tyranny at universities

Universities should be impartial when it comes to active ideological disagreements, and they should certainly not cede that impartiality in order to side with a position in opposition to the rights of members of their community who they have publicly claimed to support. The first is anti-democratic, the second is hypocritical and unethical.

University impartiality is important because it facilitates pluralism within the academic community.

A report on global democracy released in March found that democracy is on the decline and dictatorship is on the rise, with democracy having backslid to 1989 levels. One shift thought to be responsible for this is ‘toxic polarisation’ and one solution, according to politics professor Matthew Flinders at the University of Sheffield, is for universities to operate as ‘sites of democratic socialisation’ by committing to pluralism as part of their existing commitment to freedom of speech.

If you head into the University of Melbourne campus today, you will find the ‘inclusive’ redesigned Pride flag at every entrance to the university, as well as unfurled down the side of one of its outward-facing buildings. On the surface, the message might seem innocuous: the university supports lesbian, gay, and bisexual people (the rainbow part of the flag), trans people (the pink, blue, and white part of the flag), and ‘queer’ people of colour (the black and brown part of the flag).

Let’s focus on the pink, blue, and white part: the trans flag. This flag was featured at the ‘Stock Out’ protests lead to the resignation of Professor Kathleen Stock from her position at the University of Sussex; used by protesters who assaulted a feminist in Manchester and blocked access to a suffragette statue; and featured on posters protesting against my teaching of feminism.

With that in mind, the message of the ‘inclusive’ Pride flag is actually far from innocuous. Rather than referring to a collection of people with diverse political views, religious faiths, and moral values who happen to be gay, or trans, or queer persons of colour, the flags refer to a specific collection of ideas – an ‘ideology’ – about sexual orientation and gender identity.

One of these ideas is that biological sex is a ‘social construction’ rather than a real difference found in nature throughout our evolutionary history and across the animal and plant kingdom. Another is that because biological sex is a social construction, we should stop caring so much about it, and start caring about other things that are more important like ‘gender identity’ which is a person’s subjective sense of themselves in terms of masculinity, femininity (or neither).

Yet another is that because there are a great many gender identities, there are correspondingly a great many sexual orientations, and sexual orientations are not what we thought they were. Yet another is that identity trumps any material facts. You can be a ‘woman’ without being female, you can be a ‘lesbian’ even when you are a male who sleeps exclusively with females.

Do you see the problem? If there is no sex then there is no same-sex attraction,so there is no homosexuality or bisexuality as the gay rights struggle understood it. Recent legislation aligned with this ideology removed protection for same-sex attraction from the Victorian Equal Opportunity Act, replacing it with a word salad referring to attractions between ‘persons of a different gender or the same gender or more than one gender’. The head of Stonewall, an organization once dedicated to the gay rights struggle, now describes exclusive same-sex attraction as a ‘social prejudice’.

Supporters of this ideology rush to ‘affirm’ gender non-conforming children (who are most likely to grow up to be gay) as transgender, which greatly increases their likelihood of irreversible medical interventions. Arguably, then, this ideology is not affirming of, but rather actively undermines the gay rights struggle. The ‘inclusive’ Pride flag tells me, and all other lesbians on campus, that we are wrong to exclude males from our sexual orientations. We’ve heard that before.

Where does this leave the members of the university community who happen to be gay, trans, or queer persons of colour, and yet who reject this ideology? By flying these flags the university compromises pluralism on campus by making it more difficult for staff and students to voice a dissenting view. This is not just hypothetical: in April, in response to a social media post in which I expressed displeasure about flags put up for ‘Trans Day of Visibility’, the University tweeted:

‘This post runs counter to the views and the values of the University of Melbourne. The author has been counselled and has subsequently edited the post to remove the offensive content.’

Members who disagree with the university’s position risk censure. If most go along with the university out of fear or cowardice, and the university has taken the wrong position, then bankrupt ideologies gain a stronger foothold. And this is not the only consequence; what of the university’s commitment to inclusivity for women, and for lesbian, gay, and bisexual people?

Universities must facilitate constructive disagreement among the members of their communities. That is their obligation, given their function within democratic societies. They fail to do that when they take sides in complex and controversial debates; they fail doubly when the side they take undermines the rights struggles of other members of their community.

It’s time for the University of Melbourne to take down the flags.


Australia unfairly demononized by Greenies

When Australians eventually reach the Pearly Gates they may, whatever their earthly sins, finally receive some redemption for their efforts to save the world from climate change. After decades of persecution for not doing enough they may at last be recognised for doing more than most.

As the rest of the world suffers collective amnesia, Australia faithfully continues its missionary work to achieve its 2030 and 2050 Paris and Glasgow emission reduction delusions.

While China lifts its annual coal output by 300 million tonnes, (two-thirds Australia’s total production), Australia imposes a virtual moratorium on new mines. State bans, together with native title and environmental opposition, have also largely stopped new coal-seam gas drilling and fracking.

No coal plants are under construction in Australia with the largest, Eraring, due to close seven years early. The existing fleet is ageing and, with the end in sight, it is suffering predictable neglect. At the start of winter, one-quarter of Australia’s coal generation was offline. Not so China. It is building 43 new coal-fired power stations. Nor in Europe, where several countries, together with Britain, are bringing retired coal plants back online and are planning new mines.

Japan, always mindful of its national interest, has stalled its withdrawal from fossil fuels.

But, to Australian critics, none of this matters. Who cares if Australians spend four to five times more per capita on renewable energy than China, the EU, Japan and the United States? Or that Australia’s fossil fuel energy mix for 2020 was 76 per cent compared to China’s 84 per cent, the EU’s, 85 per cent (which includes burning wood), Japan’s 88 per cent and America’s 84 per cent?

Confirming Australia’s pariah status, the latest Climate Change Performance rankings published by advocacy group Germanwatch, rank Australia 59th out of 63 nations on greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy, energy use and climate policy.

The environment charity, Greenfleet, notes that ‘when it emerged that Australia contributed only 1.3 per cent of total global CO2 emissions, many people were led to believe that as a nation, we were already doing enough’. Not so it cautions. Australia’s coal exports accounted for more than a quarter of the nation’s total exports over the last decade and most of our electricity is still powered by fossil fuels. On that basis, Australia contributed about 3.6 per cent to global emissions.

Moreover, that number doesn’t include emissions from other mineral exports or consider the emissions produced as a result of those exports. By taking these into account, and Australia’s population being around 0.33 per cent of the world’s population, instead of being virtuous, Aussies are among the highest emitters on the planet.

Australian bumbling, we learn, has led to it shunning its closest neighbours’ plea for an end to the coal industry and to contributing to the climate change plight of Pacific Islands nations. This is why the Solomon Islands nation has become a virtual Chinese colony.

As new Foreign Minister, Penny Wong now acknowledges, Australia previously ‘disrespected’ the struggle of Pacific nations as they grappled with the consequences of climate change.

But, what struggle is she referring to? The reality is that in the 30 years since 1990, a period characterised by consistent satellite observation, tropical cyclone activity in the Pacific has been decreasing. Moreover, rather than facing existential threats from rising sea levels, the latest satellite imaging shows 80 per cent of Pacific Islands, are growing or stable.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese sides with the nation’s critics and hopes some day, ‘Australia will once again be a trusted global partner on climate action’.

Is it intellectual cowardice or crass ignorance which drives Australia’s political class on its suicidal mission? It’s certainly not the science.

At least the leftist Potsdam Institute’s Professor Ottmar Edenhofer has the courage to say out loud what is becoming more obvious by the day. ‘One has to free oneself,’ he says, ‘from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. Instead, climate change policy is about how we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth’.

Assuming he was talking about redistribution from the rich to the poor, the reality is, it’s going the other way. Renewable energy rent-seekers, particularly Big Wind, have colluded with climate activists to bully governments into paying them massive subsidies and to levy imposts on electricity consumers.

Energy expert, Dr Alan Moran, observes ‘government no longer publicises the extent of these, but they come to about $7 billion a year. This gives wind and solar double the price which coal receives and it is this that is driving coal out of the market’.

Until now, the average Australian has felt removed from the complexities of energy and climate change politics. For those who can afford the capital outlay, subsidised roof solar panels have provided an incentive to support renewables. For others, rising electricity prices have been philosophically absorbed, offset, in part, by rising wages and declining interest rates. Most have broadly accepted climate change propaganda and left the esoteric scientific arguments for the elite to sort out.

Russia’s actions in Ukraine have changed all that. The West’s ageing coal fleet and dependence on renewables was always an accident waiting to happen. So when supply shortages hit a world ripe for inflation courtesy of years of reckless fiscal and monetary policies, household budgets were hit hard with the poor suffering most. Many will become jobless and in winter have to choose between heating their homes or buying groceries.

Globally, Australians are among the first to experience this, but its governments stubbornly refuse to change tack. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews believes, ‘It’s wrong to be doing anything else other than forging ahead’ and, new Energy Minister, Chris Bowen agrees. For him, nuclear power is an expensive ‘joke’. Batteries and band-aids are better and cheaper.

Still, shivering Aussies should take comfort that when their time comes, their fruitless sacrifices to save the planet may at least be acknowledged by St. Peter.




New Home Sales Boosting U.S. Economy

May 2022's new home sales in the United States were stronger than expected. Political Calculations' initial estimate of the market cap for new homes sold in the U.S. during May 2022 is $32.73 billion, an increase of 3.1% from April 2022's revised estimate of $31.75 billion.

The latest update of our chart shows the surging market capitalization of new homes in the U.S.

Trailing Twelve Month Average New Home Sales Market Capitalization in the United States, January 1976 - May 2022

While rising new home sale prices continued to boost the new home market cap, May 2022's data also benefited from an unexpected increase in the number of sales that came despite surging mortgage rates. Both these factors are illustrated in the next two charts.

New home sales rose in May 2022:

Trailing Twelve Month Average of the Annualized Number of New Homes Sold in the U.S., January 1976 - May 2022

Average sale prices reached $518,033:

Trailing Twelve Month Average of the Mean Sale Price of New Homes Sold in the U.S., January 1976 - May 2022

Because new home sales are counted toward GDP when their sales contracts are signed, a rising trend in the market cap for new homes boosts the U.S. economy. The National Association of Home Builders estimates new home sales contribute 3% to 5% of the nation's Gross Domestic Product.

That may not sound like much, but new home sales are providing a tailwind for an economy slowing under the growing weight of President Biden's inflation. How long that might continue in the economic climate the Biden administration has fostered is an open question.