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The resources of the nation belong to the people

Will someone please convince me this isn’t economic idiocy: PM orders gas giants: Australian consumers first:

Malcolm Turnbull will impose tough new restrictions on the country’s gas producers, introducing sweeping powers to block exports unless there are adequate supplies to meet the needs of Australian businesses and consumers.

Declaring that the domestic shortage had led to consumers paying much more for gas than overseas buyers, the Prime Minister said on Wednesday the Australia-first policy was needed to ensure prices were lower and “fairly reflect international export prices”.

“Australians are entitled to have access to the gas they need at prices they can afford,” Mr Turnbull said ahead of an announcement expected in Brisbane on Thursday.

“It is unacceptable for Australia to become the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas, but not have enough domestic supply for Australian households and businesses.”

Following warnings in March that gas companies needed a “social­ licence” to operate, Mr Turnbull hit out at the sector for failing to meet a demand to becom­e net contributors to the Australian market — that is, prod­ucing more for domestic consum­ption than was exported.

“Gas companies are aware they operate with a social licence from the Australian people,” he said. “They cannot expect to maintain that licence if Australians are short-changed because of excessive exports.”

For a parallel we have this direct from Argentina in 2014:

“You have to understand that the resources of the state belong to the people”, remarked Fernández de Kirchner.

Does this government of ours have no clue how a market economy works? Are we now heading for an Argentinian economic future?

Why you should read The Art of the Impossible

The Sydney book launch for my blog history on the election of Donald Trump – The Art of the Impossible – is tonight. Not sure how many would show up to hear me talk about my book, but as very good luck would have it, my presentation will be preceded by Ross Cameron and Mark Latham discussing Donald Trump and my book. But then it will be me, and what a pair of tough acts to follow. However, I also have some things to say. So for those of you who cannot make it, this is a brief rundown of what I will say on the night if there is enough time.

1) I am endlessly grateful to both Ross and Mark for agreeing to help put this book on the map. I’m not sure I would have come along myself if they had not agreed to come. But there they will be and then it will be myself.

2) My aim is to explain why I wrote the book as a means to explain why others might find value and entertainment in reading it.

3) Reasons to read the book:

a) It will explain how essential for our future welfare and well being it was that DJT became president. It is not just that we don’t have Hillary, but that we don’t have any of the other Republicans who were running. The way in which Trump’s agenda is held up not just by the courts but also by the Republican Congress should be all the reminder you need that if the log jams in solving our problems is ever to be broken, Trump is the only one who might possibly do it.

b) It reminds you of how much opposition there was and is to everything DJT is trying to do, which for most of us on this side of the fence are the things we ourselves want done. Dealing with the disastrous residue of eight of the most destructive years in American politics under Obama’s terms as president have left major problems that need urgent attention.

c) The book is utterly unique in being made up entirely of blog posts that were written at the time and in the moment. There is no looking back at what happened in the knowledge that Trump became president. The posts all reflect the personal concern that some other Republican might get the nomination – which was not necessarily a catastrophe although I think no one else could have won – but more crucially once DJT became the nominee why it was essential that he won and Hillary lost. The book brings back to life some of the tension that never disappeared throughout the campaign and which reached a crescendo in that last week before the election itself.

d) It reminds you of the issues at stake. The fantastic fog and misdirection laid down by the media obscures almost everything that is essential. You are reminded of the kinds of things Trump represented, but also how if he did nothing else other than not be Hillary Clinton that he would have achieved an enormous amount. That he is carefully working to put his policy agenda in place will only come back to you if you are first reminded of that that agenda was. The book makes that agenda clear.

e) It is a primer in conservative political thought. I think of myself as conservative in the most traditional Burkean sense. I therefore think about every political issue from a conservative perspective. We in the West have a long historical tradition of doing things in particular ways with a set of values in place that have been built on our Judeo-Christian heritage. It has brought us prosperity and a measure of civic peace and tolerance unknown anywhere else across the globe. It is this world I wish to see preserved even though I know change in so many directions is inevitable. And while hardly anyone else sees Trump as a conservative, I most certainly do. It may take one to know one, but I absolutely and without question see DJT as a fellow conservative.

f) The posts are made up of three different elements each of which is interesting in their own right:

i) A description of the most important events during the campaign, discussed as they occurred
ii) My commentary on these events
iii) The various articles and posts put up by others that I thought were relevant

g) The book can therefore be read in a number of ways:

i) Starting from page 1 and finishing on page 389 (or page 2 if that’s how it strikes you)
ii) Opening the book and starting anywhere you like and then continuing anywhere else you like, either going forward or backwards into the past either sequentially or at random
iii) Reading my commentary and leaving out the rest or
iv) Reading the articles written by others and leaving out my commentary.

h) This is oddly a different kind of history. There have been personal memoirs of individuals who have been in the midst of events. But what blogging has done has been to introduce a kind of memoir by someone who was no more than a spectator but one who was nevertheless as able to remain involved with events even though living literally at the other end of the world.

i) But as far away as I might have been, I did see Donald Trump speak on the very day that finally ignited the campaign that would send him to the White House. And although having lived in Australia since 1975, I grew up in North America and have a North American understanding of the American political system, with my first political memory going back to “I like Ike” which makes it no later than 1956! Beyond just that, I have been part of the political world in Australia and tangentially internationally, having worked for the Chamber of Commerce in Canberra. And it’s by no means my first book but my ninth (with a tenth that has now come after this one). And to that we may add my interest in political and economic theory and history, all of which is the background for my blogging which is the art of the instantaneous reaction to events.

4) And if I have time after I have said all of this, I intend to read three sections from the book: (i) the first post discussing Obama’s America which was written on arriving in New York in July 2015; (ii) my reaction to hearing Trump speak ten days later; and then (iii) my post on “Sunshine Conservatives” which I wrote a month before the election in which I described and discussed the #NeverTrump crowd who are pretend conservatives at best, with no common sense and none of the grit needed to get anything done worth doing.

The book turned out to be better than I had any right to hope it would be. You can buy it here if you can’t make it on the night. I will let you know what Ross and Mark said after it is all over.

Think NBN, pink batts and school halls

It is an anti-Keynesian article so I won’t complain a lot, but still it does get me down that no one any longer has much of a clue why public spending depresses economic growth. And it’s not as if Keynes wasn’t crystal clear about his own intent. His aim was to remove Say’s Law from within the midst of economic analysis. That he has most comprehensively done. Since only if you understand Say’s Law will you understand what’s wrong with Keynesian economics, and indeed all of macro and the policies that come with it, you will never get policy right until you see the point the classical economists made.

The article is Budget 2017: This is not the time to turn to Keynes and let me say how much I agree with this:

That brings us to the most contentious budgetary option of cutting government expenditure. By crude Keynesian closed economy logic, enthusiastically embraced by Kevin Rudd, Wayne Swan and federal Treasury during the GFC, reduced spending can be recessionary. But this is debatable in theory for an economy like Australia that is open to international trade and capital flows. It is also at odds with real world evidence.

Economic history is replete with examples of “expansionary fiscal contraction”. For instance, there were no economic downturns following the significant spending cuts undertaken by treasurers Paul Keating and Peter Costello in the 1980s and 90s; quite the contrary. More recently, Ireland has emerged as one of the ­strongest performing economies in Europe after severe public spending cuts.

Keynesian economics is also at odds with sound theory, or at least the theory that existed from the time of Adam Smith until the publication of Keynes’s General Theory in 1936. It has nothing to do with closed economy or open, nor whether we are a trading nation or not. It is that unproductive non-value-adding public spending drags an economy down (think NBN, pink batts and school halls). That is Say’s Law. That is what you need to understand.

PhD gender weighting

Throwing a bit of light on a very vexed issue. The data and the subsequent quote are both from “What’s Your Major”: Another Blow to the So-Called Gender Pay Gap.

Ph.D. Fields of Study With the Highest Gender Weighting

“Most Female”                             “Most Male”
Art History                           Aerospace Engineering
Psychology                          Mechanical Engineering
French                                 Electrical Engineering
Comparative Literature               Physics
Sociology                                Computer Science

The study goes further and lists which fields of study tend to be “most male” or “most female,” meaning fields in which the gender imbalance is the greatest. One must have lived under a rock not to know that so-called “STEM” fields are in great demand and pay well in the marketplace. Lo and behold, all of the “most male” fields of doctoral study are in the STEM fields, including Aerospace Engineering, Mathematical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Physics, and Computer Science. . . .

Ignoring how fields of study differ by gender is only one problem with the supposed 20% gender pay gap. The 20% figure ignores that men tend to work longer hours, to have more years of work experience, and to work in jobs that are more physically and financially risky than women. After accounting for these factors the unexplained portion of gender pay differences – the part that could potentially be explained by discrimination — shrinks significantly. Factoring in differences in fields of study, which exist not only at the Ph.D. level but in undergraduate and Master’s-level education as well, would shrink the potential range of gender discrimination even further.

Art of the Impossible Sydney book launch this Thursday

For those who can’t make it to Sydney you can buy your copy online from Connor Court at this link. But for those who can:

Mark Lathan & Ross Cameron introducing Dr Steven Kates “The Art of the Impossible” –  Sydney 27 April

Join Mark Latham and Ross Cameron as they discuss candidly the Trump election win before introducing Dr Steven Kates to speak about his new book “The Art of the Impossible: A Blog History of the Election of Donald J Trump as President“.

“The book is a complete compilation of my blogs on the 2016 American presidential election beginning in July 2015 as the election cycle began and ending with the tallying of the votes which was completed on November 9, 2016. It is a blog history, and may be the very first of its kind.”

Dr Steve Kates was the Chief Economist for the Australian Chamber of Commerce for 24 years and a Commissioner on the Productivity Commission. He is now associate professor of economics in the College of Business at RMIT University in Melbourne.

 

This LibertyWorks event is proudly co-sponsored by Connor Court and Australian Taxpayers Alliance.

When: Thur 27 April from 6:15 pm
WhereMetropolitan Hotel, Sydney
Early bird tickets can be purchased HERE for $15 inc complimentary drink. (Note: LibertyWorks financial members attend for free but you must reserve tickets)

International election scorecards

And now in France.

 

And in other election-related news:

WASH POST SHOCK POLL: Trump still beats Clinton, 43%-40%...

While at the other end of the spectrum:

Merkel’s populist foes in disarray as Germany defies Trump surge…

That must be why having stability like in North Korea is so important.

FRENCH ELECTION UPDATE: This could explain quite a bit: The crisis sends in its calling card. The concluding para with all the ones before it worth your time:

An entire generation of Europeans is facing economic stagnation and internal cultural exile in their own countries. That is surely explosive and would normally lead obviously to what Spengler calls an extraordinarily dangerous French moment. What is truly scandalous is how long it has taken to recognize the smash. The crises of globalization is only belatedly being acknowledged after years of denial by the mainstream press. A Narrative that stubbornly characterized Brexit as an irrational aberration and Trump as joint product of Russian hacking and bigotry may now reluctantly face the fact that a genuine challenge to the world order now exists.

Cleaning up after Obama

Donald Trump has followed the worst president in American history. Here is Daniel Greenfield discussing the foreign policy mess that must now be dealt with, but also how it arose in the first place. As he writes, it was hard for Obama to follow any kind of consistency since his number one aim was to support America’s enemies, but sometimes the really bad guys were on opposite sides in different theatres of war which made it hard for him to choose. Here is a sample from the article but read the lot about the guy the left incredibly wishes were still president.

Obama’s foreign policy was a wildly inconsistent mess. The Nobel Peace Prize winner couldn’t quite decide if he was a humanitarian interventionist or a pacifist non-interventionist. He couldn’t make up his mind if he wanted to take the side of the Sunnis or the Shiites in their Islamic unholy war. He didn’t know if he wanted to appease Russia or sanction it, to pivot to Asia or run the other way, to play another round of golf or replace his defense secretary for the fifth time. . . .

The Islamist democracy proponents got Obama to kick off the Arab Spring. When Gaddafi shot the Islamists in the streets, the interventionists got him to sign on to regime change in Libya. But then Syria boiled down to Sunni and Shiite Islamists shooting each other and interventionism hit a roadblock.

Obama stopped at his own Red Line and couldn’t figure out what to do next. His foreign policy had somehow boiled down to helping Shiites kill Sunnis in Iraq and helping Sunnis kill Shiites in Syria.

The left has no foreign policy since they side with every form of anti-American group across the world. Cuba, Iran, Islamists, or whoever is around at the time. It is now Trump’s role to straighten out the crooked road left behind, but must do it without the support of 90% of those who make a living by writing or reading from scripts (such as actors, journalist, newsreaders, public “servants” and academics).