Blogs now at ThrivalEconomics

This site will terminate in a couple of months. Sites with .au suffixes have restrictions that I no longer meet.

The Books part has moved to betternaturebooks.net .

The blog has moved to ThrivalEconomics.blog . Posts are also noted on Twitter: ThrivalEconomics, @TrivalEcon .

See and follow the new posts :

Thrival Economics?  My take on our society is anchored in my analysis that reveals mainstream economics to be hopelessly misguided and misleading, and in my reading, and our widespread experience, that people are highly cooperative by nature, contrary to the prevailing neoliberal ideology of selfish competition.

Don’t Call It Inflation. … If instead we say that the cost of living has just gone up, we might decide that everyone needs to make do with a bit less. We might decide that the wealthy are fine to look after themselves but the struggling battlers could use a bit of help. We might increase welfare payments, unemployment benefits (remember those?) and the minimum wage. We might close a few gaping tax loopholes to cover the cost.

Things we should ban, right now. Why are children being imprisoned? The law of the land says children as young as ten can be ‘detained’, incarcerated, whatever euphemism you want to use for prison. When did this happen?

Jobs summit: Aren’t we capable of providing for ourselves?  If the economy needs immigrants in order for us to prosper, this implies we who already live here are not capable of looking after ourselves. That is rubbish of course. There is plenty to do and there are plenty of us wanting to do things. If the economy is struggling it must be because we are not properly organised.

When will we live as if the truth is true?

It is not about the Greens, nor even about the teals, it is about the science and the planet. Despite the recent electoral shift, another parliament will desperately evade the truth, that we are destroying our bountiful, beautiful and only life support system.

In a music album by the Canadian group The Weather Station, songwriter Tamara Lindeman sings “At some point you’d have to live as if the truth was true.” The line is in the song Loss and, like the entire album, the reference is both to the loss of a relationship with another person and to our civilisation’s loss of its relationship with the natural world.

As parliament reconvenes with Labor in charge, our society’s relationship with the natural world is front and centre.

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What if we had a government that got serious?

There is so much more we can do, and must do, if we are to survive, let alone thrive.

Instead of drifting for another thirty years, or two hundred, we could go and ask the First People how we can help. Perhaps we could talk to them about negotiating joint sovereignty over this amazing, ancient land.

We could do what the IPCC says we must, based on the science: no new carbon extraction projects, abolish carbon subsidies ($10 billion or more per year) and phase out carbon burning as fast as possible, with net zero by 2035 if not sooner.

We could stop getting tangled up in other people’s disastrous and highly counter-productive wars. China would be far less of a threat to us if we just deal squarely with it instead of pulling the tiger’s tail on behalf of someone else.

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It is Critical that the Housing Bubble is Safely Deflated

[Published in Pearls & Irritations today 25 June. My pre-election attempt (the previous post) didn’t make it.]

Stratospheric housing prices are perhaps the most critical domestic issue in Australia. Not only are a collapse of the housing bubble and a recession now threatening, but homelessness and rent stress, unaddressed and exploited, can quickly fester into ugly politics. The elephant in the room is the excessive money created by under-regulated commercial banks.

Housing prices are a prime driver of severe inequality and a serious threat to the stability of the Australian economy. Rises in interest rates threaten to collapse the very high levels of household mortgage debt and bring on a serious recession. The dream of home ownership is disappearing for many.  Continue reading

How to Safely Deflate the Housing Bubble

[Sent to my one remaining plausible outlet 3 May.]

The main reason for stratospheric housing prices is that the commercial banks are allowed to create too much credit. The failure to understand and remedy this structural defect poses a serious threat to Australia’s economic stability and social cohesion.

Housing prices are an election issue. They are also a prime driver of severe inequality and a serious threat to the stability of the Australian economy. Foreshadowed rises in interest rates threaten to collapse the very high levels of household mortgage debt and bring on a serious recession. The dream of home ownership is disappearing for many. Homelessness is a rapidly increasing problem. Such inequality will further undermine our once-liberal society.

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Real Economies, Faux Economics and the Destruction of Universities

[No taker for this yet. The number of outlets for seriously non-mainstream thinking seems to be shrinking.]

This year’s Nobel prize in economics spotlights a core deficiency in mainstream ‘neoclassical’ economics, one of many. It is pseudo-science. It needs to be banished from government, universities and our thinking. Defensible alternatives are available, but marginalised.

The prize was awarded for showing that higher pay can increase employment. This is a direct contradiction of the simplistic ‘law’ of supply and demand, a core concept of the dominant ‘neoclassical’ school of economics.

Supposedly, if the price of cabbages increases then fewer cabbages will be purchased. Similarly, if the price of hiring someone goes up, then fewer people will be hired. Well, not always.

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A Parliament of Subversives and Traitors

[Published at Independent Australia 6 Oct as ‘AUKUS nothing more than a re-election stunt’. A more petty and partisan headline than mine. Oh well.]

Only once has Australia been actually threatened with military invasion, and the bellicosity of an Australian Prime Minister played a significant part in bringing on that threat. Now another Prime Minister’s provocations will put us in harm’s way again. Whose interests are served by such blind animosities?

At the 1919 Paris peace conference Australian PM Billy Hughes argued loudly against a Japanese proposal to insert an anti-racism clause into the charter of the League of Nations. Its rejection ensured the League would be a white man’s club, which suited the European powers whose dirty work Hughes was unwittingly doing. Humiliated, the Japanese declined membership of the League and began to prepare for war.

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You can’t argue with deniers, just throw them out

[Published by Canberra Times 24 Aug.]

Zali Steggal OAM, Independent MP for Warringah

You can’t argue with climate deniers, they have a never-ending supply of excuses. You won’t persuade the Coalition, the mining industry has hijacked it. Labor is too scared and too compromised to do what is needed. That is why your greatest power is your vote.

If you usually vote for one of the old parties, you need to change your vote. Find a candidate who rates global warming a top priority, who will stop the huge annual fossil fuel subsidies and switch them to renewables, who will disallow any new carbon extraction projects, and who will release the brakes on a rapid phase out of fossil fuels, supporting the workers as we go.

That candidate might be an Independent or with a minor party. If your response is ‘Oh I could never vote for them’, think about that.

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Is Bruce Pascoe’s ‘Dark Emu’ dead?

[Just published in the Canberra Times($), with a few editorial liberties.]

Bruce Pascoe’s popular book Dark Emu argues that First Australians lived complex lifestyles that included durable dwellings and cultivation of food and that they were far from the old ‘primitive nomad’ label.

However a new book, Farmers or Hunter Gatherers? The Dark Emu Debate by Peter Sutton and Keryn Walshe, is severely critical of Dark Emu, claiming it is riddled with errors, is derogatory towards hunter-gatherers, neglects the spiritual side of First Australians’ lives and pushes antiquated ideas of ‘progress’. Several historian reviewers seem to agree the new book ‘demolishes’ Dark Emu.

Paul Barry, of the ABC’s Media Watch, lamented that he and many people accepted Pascoe’s claims too uncritically, yet now they seem to be accepting the new book’s claims just as uncritically.

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Dark Ostrich: the attack on Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu

[Just published at Pearls & Irritations.]

Academics generally do not like outsiders trampling through their patch. Angry people are prone to missing irony. Semantics can be tricky when translating between very different cultures. These three factors seem to explain a fair bit of the vehement critique of Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu in the new book Farmers or Hunter-gatherers? The Dark Emu Debate, by Peter Sutton and Keryn Walshe.

As an academic who has done a bit of trampling in others’ patches myself, I recognise some common defensive responses. ‘That’s not original, we’ve known that for decades.’ ‘You haven’t cited all my favourite sources.’ ‘You didn’t investigate this or that possibility.’ Yet sometimes an outsider can bring a fresh and stimulating perspective that carries some significant truth, even if it has its flaws, and certainly an outsider can be accorded some basic respect.

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