Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Waste of Taxpayers money

Australian government wants to give 6 billion dollars to the car industry.

How mad is it to offer 6 billion dollars to the car industry. We are coming to the end of the carbon based economy. We need new companies and government direction/initiatives to change the type of motor cars we use. I can't see Ford or Holden moving in that direction. They have shown very little initiative and have wasted years of profits which could of been used to develop alternative fuel based cars.
In fact I think Holden's latest car cost the best part of a billion dollars and it was so in the mode of powerful petrol driven cars, it was a joke.
Giving money to large corporations who are having difficulties can come unstuck.
I remember Kodak getting a big government payment, and we all know what has happened to film photography.
Same with Ford and Holden. Both companies have failed to understand the future of motorized transport. Fancy spending a billion dollars on designing a new car that doesn't use alternative fuel.
They are both corporate dinosaurs and we shouldn't be giving them another cent. If we sink 6 billion dollars into the car industry and don't expect outcomes like a totally green, air or electric car, then we are throwing our taxpayers money away. Better use it to set up a comprehensive solar/wind power electricity supply grid.
There is so much that needs to be done and very quickly, but instead we get politics and big business getting in the way of sensible alternative developments.
So no don't give billions of dollars to a couple of old failed dinosaurs. Keep it to make a better future for us all.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Financial Melt down [My Arse]

What a load of hype we have been subjected to over the last month or so. You would think that the world was coming to an end. Well surprise, it was Wall Street that was having a melt down not us. It is like that old saying that if, "America gets an economic cold the rest of the world gets pneumonia." We are playing into the hands of these mega wealthy, large institutions that brought on their own problems through greed and manipulative behaviour. The multinationals and banks have prolonged a consumer cycle so they could continue to collect their mega profits. HERE is a link to an article about the Bretton Woods System. And here is a quote from Noam Chomsky which heads the article.

Anti-Democratic Nature of US Capitalism is Being Exposed

Bretton Woods was the system of global financial management set up at the end of the second World War to ensure the interests of capital did not smother wider social concerns in post-war democracies. It was hated by the US neoliberals - the very people who created the banking crisis writes Noam Chomsky.

Yes we have been hoodwinked into believing yet again that we were operating in some sort of free will environment. No we are by and large, swept along by forces much greater than we can comprehend. The truly sad thing about this is that our Governments are not blind to these forces they are in fact party to them. Especially in the U.S.A.
So now we are all suppose to focus on saving our savings and retirement funds. our homes, and small businesses. And all the while our environment, that is in dire need of help, will be pushed aside as we grapple with. this other man made problem.

As someone said "If we don't do something about our environment there wont be an economy to worry about."

From what I'm hearing from politicians all over the world is that we have to provide funds so we can all get back to spending as soon as possible. The only answer they have is to stimulate the economy, create a buying spree, that's the answer. That has been part of the problem, too much indiscriminate spending on disposable goods. We use too much of everything, create a big environmental stench and then wonder why the world is getting hotter and the Ice caps are melting.

The politicians of the last couple of decades have happily allowed the world economy to go it's own sweet way. Big business to get bigger and bigger. The crumbs from this economic "Miracle' have been tossed to the masses as Tax cuts and hand outs, in a vain hope they would appease the voters. Well it worked, but with no plan for the future, [And still no plan for the future] all they can come up with now is. 'Lets stimulate the economy, spend more again, hurry up the recovery. so we can all make believe we don't have any problems.

Here in Australia. with a change in the Federal Government. we started to talk about using the surpluses on making our economy sustainable. From electricity generation to household emissions. Everyone was going to be part of the Greening of Australia. That was before this Wall St. induced melt down. Now the focus is back on saving the arses of the big banks and investment houses.
If we could be as decisive in our response to Climate Change as we are to Economic Change, The world would be a much safer, cleaner, happier place to live. For all.
Woof x

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The mother of all rip-offs

The Following article is in todays AGE newspaper.
We have had our common wealth ripped from our economies over the last couple of decades and some people should be held accountable.

Hank Paulson has got to be kidding. He wants American taxpayers to hand a cool $US700 billion ($840 billion) to his pals on Wall Street in return for a gigantic bundle of their delinquent assets ... without his pals taking a pay cut.

Could there be a finer reward for failure? Could there be a worse deal for taxpayers?

No stake in the upside, no ceiling on extortionate Wall Street salaries, no guarantee the system will be stabilised. Just the mother of all rip-offs: a deal to privatise Wall Street's profits and socialise its losses.

How about this bit: "Decisions by the (Treasury) Secretary (Paulson) pursuant to the Authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to Agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency''.

Paulson and his pals get an explicit protection against any review by the courts and Congress while taxpayers fork out top dollar for rubbish the banks can't sell. It is the quintessential dudding.

If the Paulson "cash for trash'' plan could avert systemic failure and this is by no means assured - it could have legs but Congress is jacking up at the ample "trust me'' element. And rightly so.

There is no reason to trust Wall Street, or the regulators. As House Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi put it, Congress would not "simply hand over a $US700 billion blank cheque to Wall Street and hope for a better outcome."

Until now Americans have been mostly apathetic when it came to the excesses of their investment banks. But now that Main Street is being asked to bail out Wall Street, again, and in huge measure, the temperature is rising.

Congress wants a brake on salaries, some kind of guarantee that Paulson's pals won't simply load up the truck with billions in bonuses again, this time funded by Ma and Pa Kettle.

The four biggest investment banks on Wall Street, which included Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, shelled out $US30 billion in bonuses last year. Lehman just went under and Bear Stearns was bailed out earlier in the year.

While pushing through his emergency deal, Paulson says he wants to defer the debate on salaries. Someone should take him aside and tell him, "Pal, it's over''. The moral and philosophical underpinning for $US50 million salaries is gone, let alone $US10 million salaries care of government.

These remuneration structures were struck on the basis of a compact with the market, that is that pay is "at risk'' and should reflect performance. That compact is finished. What is the risk if the losses are nationalised?

And what is the performance? The fancy deals and the structured finance rubbish brewed up by this crew gave the world CDOs, CDOs squared and cubed, RMBS, CLOs, ABS, CDS and all manner of noxious excuses for a fee.

From the sub-prime to the ridiculous, this orgy of leverage on leverage mimicked in financial centres as far afield as Australia has whipped the world to the edge of recession and destroyed faith in the entire system.

And now here is another $US1 trillion ($US700 billion is just for starters) to add to Bush's $US9.6 trillion national debt. Where will the money come from? The issue of Treasury bonds. Who will buy them?

Good question. Anyone for some bonds in an entity which can't pay off its debt but has just taken a trillion dollars worth of delinquent assets on its balance sheet?

The US dollar has been sinking thanks to the daunting prospect of a bond market deluged with bits of paper nobody wants: more US Government debt. The more paper on issue the lower the price.

Either the US defaults on its obligations an outcome many regard as "unthinkable'' or taxes will have to go up. Higher taxes, deeper recession. Thanks Wall Street.

All this makes it critical that Paulson and his pals demonstrate to the world that they understand the jig is up. The world changes.

People and pay are central to this understanding. Industrialists or entrepreneurs with their own businesses can pay whatever they like but the failed managers of licensed institutions on corporate welfare can hardly expect a blank cheque from those they have blown up. The contract is finished. Wall Street has not fulfilled its obligations.

As Paulson tries to shove his plan through in the face of congressional opposition the rewards for failure have already shamed the principal of pay for performance.

Fannie Mae boss Daniel Mudd and his opposite number at Freddie Mac, Richard Syron, walked last month with $US9.43 million in retirement and pension benefits on their way out the door. Failed, sacked and showered with money as their two giant mortgage operations were nationalised.

Lehman Brothers chairman and CEO Richard Fuld picked up $US22 million for 2007, the year thousands of his staff found themselves on the street. He took $US35 million the year before.

Merrill Lynch boss John Thain took a $US200 million payout with two offsiders for less than a year's work. Merrill was so close to obsolescence it sold itself to Bank of America for $US50 billion in scrip few days ago just as Lehman was biting the dust.

Thain was given a $US15 million bonus for signing on. Two former Goldman Sachs executives hired by Thain may do even better. Head of global trading, Thomas Montag, has already received a $US39 million bonus since signing on in August. With stock options accelerated by the buyout, he could finish up with $US76 million.

The bank's head of strategy, Peter Kraus, was bestowed with a $US95 million package just to beat what he was on at Goldman.

Paulson himself has shares in Goldman whose value was estimated at $US700 million. He is a direct beneficiary of his own bail-out proposal blind trust or no blind trust.

On the positive news front, the former head of broken insurance company AIG, Robert Willumstad, voluntarily forfeited a $US22 million severance package after he was giving his marching orders. He was only appointed in June.

"I prefer not to receive severance while shareholders and employees have lost considerable value in their AIG shares," wrote Willumstad in an email to his successor Edward Liddy.

Goldman boss Lloyd Blanfein took home $US54 million last year and Morgan Stanley's John Mack $US42 million.

The list goes on. Some of the investment bank's hedge funds clients have even been paying themselves more than $US1 billion.

Regulatory oversight and the ramifications of Bush's tax-cuts-for-the-rich policy alongside his catastrophic jaunt in Iraq have come home to roost.

On top of its $US9.6 trillion national debt, America is heading for its first $US1 trillion deficit this year. Paulson's bailout will add another $US1 trillion to the bill.

America is in trouble.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Water Madness

The current bunch of politicians here in Australia are struggling with the problem of, the lack of water. There are a couple of main areas of concern.
Watering the ever increasing city population, and saving the Murray Darling river system. The city dwellers rely on dam water to drink, wash, water, play etc. We do everything in the same water. We haven't developed a two tier system of water delivery. We also haven't been very good at recycling water either. In fact we have just relied on rain to fill our dams and up until a few years back that is exactly what happened. Now it doesn't and we think it has something to do with climate change. If that is the case, it is going to be a long slow process to change that back.
The Murray river falls into a similar category except it's water is taken to irrigate the farms that feed us and provide export dollars. So in a way we have been exporting our water through water usage.

Now when you are up against a rock and hard place you should really look to finding solutions that all of us can contribute to. And to a certain extent that is what we have been doing, at least here in the city. We have been on water restrictions for a few years now and we have been saving a lot of water. We have learnt to live with less.
The state government in Victoria has decided to opt for a desalination plant, [the biggest in the southern hemisphere] There are many reasons not to use this method of water collection I refer you to this Article in the Age on some options that we could use here that makes sense.

I heard today that the Federal government is having problems securing water from the Murray river. You see over the years the States and Federal governments have sold off water rights to the rivers to farmers. Now they want it back to SAVE the river and the license owners can see the government coming with millions of dollars in compensation.
My question is why don't we compulsorily reprocess the water. Save the river and find ways to make it a strong sustainable river again. We could get water from Tasmania that could help achieve this. No good paying people for the water that doesn't even exist at the moment. Forget the economists view of this world for a while and start seeing it as sustainable problem. That is, it may not have to be a totally economic answer, but through good leadership we can find solutions that are sustainable.
Any which way you look at these problems, the supply demand model that has been used for the last 100 or more years may have run it's course. At least for the time being, and in specific areas.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Money and Politics

I haven't posted in a while. It is winter down here so it must be something to do with hibernation. I have also been very busy, reading all your blogs, even if some of you have dropped off the perch ,London Lass being one of them . The article below was published in The Age a few days ago.

Our governments over here both state and federal are forever hiding deals behind Contracts they call 'In Confidence'

From public transport to health, education to new roads. Across the board we are being hoodwinked. Often at the behest of big business, accountants and economists.

Money is the root of all political evil

Two decisions on advertising have had a toxic impact on good governance.

POLITICIANS are bastards. But they are not necessarily born that way. I still believe that even the most cynical politician enters the game with at least a smidgen of idealism. But they are as much shaped by society as shaping it.

Reporter Royce Millar, who has been covering the details of Melbourne planning processes for a long time, gave Age readers an insight into how much the Victorian Labor Government is worth to the big end of town.

A good example is the sale for $80 million of 27 hectares of land, which housed 300 intellectually disabled residents in the Kew Cottages, for a medium-to-high-rise housing development. The money would be used to socially integrate the inmates into the suburbs and build additional new accommodation for those on the acute waiting list. Bollocks. The most cost-effective way of extending quality accommodation for the intellectually disabled would have been on site, a sensible proposition when there are 3000 intellectually disabled people on an urgent waiting list for this type of housing.

Furthermore, the site is unsuitable for housing redevelopment. Princes Street, which runs past it, is already gridlocked in the morning as cars attempt to get onto the Eastern Freeway and into the city via Hoddle Street. The problem is compounded by EastLink, which will pour another 20,000 cars onto the Eastern Freeway in the morning peak. This intensification of the problem of CBD congestion will be used as further justification for the north-west tunnel.

This is classic planning Melbourne style — one slice at a time. If there is any life left in politics in Victoria, Premier John Brumby will rue responding yesterday to Millar's article by stating: "There are corporations who want to donate to political parties … that's a good thing, that's a sign of a healthy democracy."

For arrogant stupidity this must rank with Transport Minister Lynne Kosky's 2007 statement: "Do I want to run a train system? I don't think so."

If Brumby were sincerely interested in a healthy democracy, he would begin by publishing information about the decision-making of his Government so voters could make up their own minds whether they are better off funding schools, hospitals, roads and other infrastructure as public-private partnerships rather than out of borrowings or consolidated revenue. If sincere, he would undertake proper environmental impact statements and public benefit cost analysis of major projects such as channel deepening or the Wonthaggi desal plant, and he would explain why the Government has refused to conduct an independent inquiry into the decision to persist with franchising public transport.

This is a bipolar Government. It makes decisions on water, brown-coal electricity generation and freeways while ignoring how these decisions relate to the global water, climate warming and "peak oil" crises. Money politics is the root of this bipolarity. It encourages secrecy, excluding the bigger picture. It undermines public ownership of decisions even when they are defensible, fuels cynicism about politicians and political processes and encourages public apathy, a characteristic of public life more readily identified in dictatorial regimes without the superficial trappings of democracy.

But let's be fair to our politicians. The huge sums paid by corporations to political parties detailed by Millar are not pocketed personally by the politicians. They are used by political parties to fight elections. Most of the money ends up as profits for the owners of the electronic media.

The cost of a 30-second TV spot covering Melbourne in peak viewing time is about $10,000 and the same spot covering the whole of Victoria will cost about $15,000 dollars. Commercial TV stations run on ratings. Politicians spouting politics, as distinct from behaving badly in restaurants, are a ratings turn-off. The average coverage of most elections on commercial stations during the height of an election campaign is a couple of minutes each day.

For most voters, who get their primary information about the world from the electronic media, their main impression of the campaign will come from these ads. Advertising is about persuasion, not information.

To their credit, a majority of the 1991 federal parliament passed legislation banning political advertising during elections on the electronic media. The legislation was challenged by the commercial broadcasters. A majority of the High Court found in favour of the broadcasters on the grounds that they found the legislation violated an implied constitutional freedom of political communication.

Who could possibly believe that election advertising was vital to free speech except the High Court and the media moguls concerned they might lose (then) about $30 million every three years from state and federal elections?

This High Court majority also found in 2005 that the government could spend $40 million on taxpayer-paid advertising of the most partisan nature (WorkChoices) without specific parliamentary authorisation or even the legislation being presented to parliament. These two decisions have had a toxic impact on good governance of Australia because of the power they put into the hands of ordinary politicians such as John Brumby, who will do whatever sharp practice the courts will allow to stay in power.

Kenneth Davidson is a senior columnist. Email:

Monday, June 16, 2008

Mugabe must go

South Africa must rid it's self of Mugabe. It has been too long this nasty bit of work has caused too much suffering to be allowed to dictate the out come of this election.
I have heard he is being propped up by a group of military and civilian cronies who are determined to not let the opposition take power.
South Africa, the country, have sat back and allowed this to happen. The leadership in S.A. is aiding and abetting a friend because of his past standing in Southern Africa. It stinks and the time is near for the international community to step in. Zimbabwe is falling apart and if Mugabe wins again it will slip into war and civil unrest.
I can't even write the number that represents the percentage of inflation.

Australia has said we need to do something and I hope our Prime Minister can affect some sort of international response.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

On the day that Qantas announced the removal of some domestic flights [Due to rising oil prices], Kenneth Davidson in his article in The Age.

"We are entering the era of global peak oil. Together with global warming and water shortages,
it will demand statesmanship not in evidence in the present political debate."

He is spot on with this observation. We are entering a new era of uncertain times. Many things we took for granted over the last few decades have come into sharp focus.
The disturbing thing, is that, where as we have become more and more reliant upon the private sector to take over the ownership and running of our utilities. We should really be looking to government leadership to tackle the major problems that present themselve
Economists and planners seem to think that private industry is best suited to running our essential industries, based on the supply demand, profit loss, free enterprise is best.

I would like to propose a counter argument. That is that in a time of major change and the possibility of social implications due to those changes we need governments who are prepared to take control of the decisions. So that a national and ultimately a global response can be coordinated. National and local governments will be able to coordinate infrastructure changes so as to minimise the social disruption. It is no good thinking that market forces will get us out of this Carbon related problem. They can and must play their part. But we need a national effort, a global effort. Just like in WWII when governments seconded ships and planes to help in the war effort. Governments today should utilize private industry to help in the massive task of cleaning up the atmosphere, sorting out global warming and water shortages. Not by using the existing relations
In good times, times of plenty, we happily sold off our commonwealth. Now the time has come to harness what we have left of that wealth of infrastructure and with statesmanlike leadership, utilize all areas of our society to transform ourselves from a carbon polluting society, to a green, reusable, sustainable one. Maybe in a couple of decades we will once again be in a position to offer the private sector a slice of our commonwealth to profit from. But by then it will be, wind power and solar panels, not coal fired powered plants

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Oil Gas call it what you like

Having just bought a new/secondhand car, which I hope will use less fuel than our existing large Ford. I have been thinking about Petrol. Here in Australia the price has gone to $1.60 plus per litre. A lot less than some places probably more than others. What ever, it is becoming a real concern of most motorists with the cost at least doubling in the last year. Now we have the added worry about how much we have left.
Here in Aus. we have been governed for the last 11 years by a political party that was in denial about energy and carbon, along with many other denials too. What that has meant, is that we haven't been making alternative plans for a post oil world. Unlike the article I have cut and pasted below most of us wont have the privilege to go carve ourselves out a farm in the hills and live off the land. We have to find collective solutions that do not include oil.
Recently a state politician of the labor conviction a minister no less. Argued in cabinet that offering subsidies for solar power should be cut, because it would make electricity distribution to the no solar assisted homes more expensive. And he won his case.
If governments hadn't sold off the utility suppliers, in the name of competition is a better way to supply cheaper services. The government could of taken some control over supply and costs and still provided that subsidy.
These important decisions that are becoming increasingly pressing and urgent to resolve, have been hijacked by economists and experts, who are hung up on profits and incentives. Despite the blatantly obvious changing world around them and a need at least during this time of change. [From carbon based energy. to renewable] to have government intervention to maintain supply and develop alternatives. Then if we are again in a period of stability and have a guaranteed energy supply we once again can contemplate some sort of deregulation.
So have a read below how some of the better off are going to set themselves up for the future. I'm thinking about driving my fuel efficient car.

Samantha Gross, Buskirk, New York
May 27, 2008

A few years ago, Kathleen Breault was just another suburban grandma, driving countless hours every week, stopping for lunch at McDonald's, buying clothes at the mall, watching TV in the evenings.

That was before Breault heard an author talk about the bleak future of the world's oil supply. Now, she is preparing for the world as we know it to disappear.

Breault cut her driving time in half. She switched to a diet of locally grown foods near her upstate New York home and lost 32 kilograms. She sliced up her credit cards, banished her television and swore off plane travel. She began relying on a wood-burning stove.

"I was panic-stricken," the 50-year-old recalled, her voice shaking.

"Devastated. Depressed. Afraid. Vulnerable. Weak. Alone. Just terrible."

Convinced the planet's oil supply is dwindling and the world's economies are heading for a crash, some people around the country are moving onto homesteads, learning to live off their land, conserving fuel and, in some cases, stocking up on guns they expect to use to defend themselves and their supplies from desperate crowds of people who did not prepare.

The exact number of people taking such steps is impossible to determine, but anecdotal evidence suggests that the movement has been gaining momentum in the last few years.

These energy survivalists are not leading some sort of green revolution meant to save the planet. Many of them believe it is too late for that, seeing signs in soaring fuel and food prices and a faltering US economy, and are largely focused on saving themselves.

Some are doing it quietly, giving few details of their preparations - afraid that revealing such information as the location of their supplies will endanger themselves and their loved ones.

They envision a future in which America's cities will be filled with hungry, desperate refugees forced to go looking for food, shelter and water.

"There's going to be things that happen when people can't get things that they need for themselves and their families," said Lynn-Marie, who believes cities could see a rise in violence as early as 2012.

Lynn-Marie asked to be identified by her first name to protect her homestead in rural western Idaho. Many of these survivalists declined to comment for similar reasons.

These survivalists believe in "peak oil," the idea that world oil production is set to hit a high point and then decline. Scientists who support idea say the amount of oil produced in the world each year has already or will soon begin a downward slide, even amid increased demand.

But many scientists say such a scenario will be avoided as other sources of energy come in to fill the void.

On the web site, where upward of 800 people gathered on recent evenings, believers engage in a debate about what kind of world awaits.

Some members argue there will be no financial crash, but a slow slide into harder times. Some believe the federal government will respond to the loss of energy security with a clampdown on personal freedoms. Others simply don't trust that the government can maintain basic services in the face of an energy crisis.

The powers that be, they've determined, will be largely powerless to stop what is to come.

Determined to guard themselves from potentially harsh times ahead, Lynn-Marie and her husband have already planted an orchard of about 40 trees and built a greenhouse on their three hectares. They have built their own irrigation system. They've begun to raise chickens and pigs, and they've learned to slaughter them.

The couple have got rid of their TV and instead have been reading dusty old books published in their grandparents' era, books that explain the simpler lifestyle they are trying to revive. Lynn-Marie has been teaching herself how to make soap.

Her husband, concerned about one day being unable to get medications, has been training to become a herbalist.

By 2012, they expect to power their property with solar panels, and produce their own meat, milk and vegetables. When things start to fall apart, they expect their children and grandchildren will come back home and help them work the land.

She envisions a day when the family may have to decide whether to turn needy people away from their door.

"People will be unprepared," she said. "And we can imagine marauding hordes."

So can Peter Laskowski. Living in a woodsy area outside of Montpelier, Vermont, the 57-year-old retiree has become the local constable and a deputy sheriff for his county, as well as an emergency medical technician.

"I decided there was nothing like getting the training myself to deal with insurrections, if that's a possibility," said the former executive recruiter.

Laskowski is taking steps similar to environmentalists: conserving fuel, consuming less, studying global warming, and relying on local produce and craftsmen. Laskowski is powering his home with solar panels and is raising fish, geese, ducks and sheep. He has planted apple and pear trees and is growing lettuce, spinach and corn.

Whenever possible, he uses his bicycle to get into town.

Whenever possible, he uses his bicycle to get into town.

"I remember the oil crisis in '73; I remember waiting in line for gas," Laskowski said. "If there is a disruption in the oil supply it will be very quickly elevated into a disaster."

Breault said she hopes to someday band together with her neighbours to form a self-sufficient community. Women will always be having babies, she notes, and she imagines her skills as a midwife will always be in demand.

For now, she is readying for the more immediate work ahead: There's a root cellar to dig, fruit trees and vegetable plots to plant. She has put a bicycle on layaway, and soon she'll be able to bike to visit her grandkids even if there is no oil at the pump.

Whatever the shape of things yet to come, she said, she's done what she can to prepare.Her husband, concerned about one day being unable to get medications, has been training to become a herbalist.

By 2012, they expect to power their property with solar panels, and produce their own meat, milk and vegetables. When things start to fall apart, they expect their children and grandchildren will come back home and help them work the land.

She envisions a day when the family may have to decide whether to turn needy people away from their door.

"People will be unprepared," she said. "And we can imagine marauding hordes."

So can Peter Laskowski. Living in a woodsy area outside of Montpelier, Vermont, the 57-year-old retiree has become the local constable and a deputy sheriff for his county, as well as an emergency medical technician.

"I decided there was nothing like getting the training myself to deal with insurrections, if that's a possibility," said the former executive recruiter.

Laskowski is taking steps similar to environmentalists: conserving fuel, consuming less, studying global warming, and relying on local produce and craftsmen. Laskowski is powering his home with solar panels and is raising fish, geese, ducks and sheep. He has planted apple and pear trees and is growing lettuce, spinach and corn.

Whenever possible, he uses his bicycle to get into town.

"I remember the oil crisis in '73; I remember waiting in line for gas," Laskowski said. "If there is a disruption in the oil supply it will be very quickly elevated into a disaster."

Breault said she hopes to someday band together with her neighbours to form a self-sufficient community. Women will always be having babies, she notes, and she imagines her skills as a midwife will always be in demand.

For now, she is readying for the more immediate work ahead: There's a root cellar to dig, fruit trees and vegetable plots to plant. She has put a bicycle on layaway, and soon she'll be able to bike to visit her grandkids even if there is no oil at the pump.

Whatever the shape of things yet to come, she said, she's done what she can to prepare.


Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Articles worth a read.

Here is an email I sent to Informniac

Sometimes it is better to show how others see your world they can bring a different perspective.

Dear MJ
I read this ARTICLE in our city paper The Age. It is about the changing nature of Melbourne and how success as a city can affect your standard of living. I have another one HERE about the dumbing down of the debate around the election in America. The writer is a very clear and impressive journalist. We unfortunately are continually being sold a pup in these so called democracies we live in.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

2020 Summit

A week ago the Federal Parliament had a summit called 2020. They invited a thousand people from around Australia to attend and discuss the future. If you thought we had a couple of really important issues facing our future as a Planet let alone a country, you wouldn't real know it from the reports coming out. Not to say some ideas put forward, are not good ideas, but they are not novel. One major concern was for Australia to become a republic. Not new, in fact we had a referendum on this only a few years ago. And it was rejected.

Over the last year or two we have been made aware of the growing concern amongst scientists that as a planet we are heading down a dangerous track. Where our norms, in weather which affects so many things, from, Food production, through to sea levels are changing much quicker than we thought they would. We need to approach our responses as if we are on a war footing. We can no longer pretend it is someone/somewhere elses problem. If we have any chance of seeing the next millennium we need to make big changes to the way we live.

See below, for one persons take on the 2020 Summit from Age columnist .


The great summit missed the mark on the really important issues.

THE two biggest constraints on Australia's social and economic development between now and 2020 are the dying River Murray (officially solved) and Australia's foreign debt (officially ignored). Neither issue was addressed by the 2020 Summit.

If the summit had been a serious exercise it would have begun with these questions: What are the alternative scenarios for Australia's development, which is the most preferred and what are the barriers for its achievement?

These scenarios might be: low immigration, which would give Australia a better chance to adjust to the environmental issues by muddling through; high immigration, causing major dislocation and requiring high tax levels to replace energy-intensive infrastructure and lifestyles incompatible with a sustainable environment; and, business as usual, justified by our history, which has shown that something always turns up or because global warming will turn out to be a scientific furphy.

Economic scenarios might involve revisiting the protection debate. There are meagre returns from further reductions in protection for manufacturing industry but the finance industry gets fabulous assistance. When push comes to shove, the central banks exist to prop up the financial system when the banks lend to the point of self-destruction in a deregulated financial market. It is happening now. Should the banks be re-regulated? What quid pro quo should the community demand for its largesse? Are financial markets sacred?

The $60 billion Future Fund circulates through the sharemarket, whose prime purpose is to provide liquidity for speculation rather than new capital for new enterprise. Tax concessions to the superannuation industry amounted to $27 billion this year and are rising rapidly. The commissions and fees charged on this financial churning cost billions of dollars. Do wage-earners get real value for money apart from the hope that their retirement coincides with the peak of an asset price bubble rather than the trough?

Are there better ways to allocate the nation's savings to boost real investment and distribute the returns equitably? What about examining the role of the Reserve Bank and central banks in general?

Despite the denigration of Keynesian economics when it serves particular right-wing agendas, the standard central bank response to the first sign of recession is to pump liquidity into the economy. Given the erosion of the power of trade unions, this credit expansion hasn't emerged in the form of wage-push inflation since the early 1980s. This is why the resultant inflation has been expressed through asset price bubbles, which don't show up in inflation as measured. Arguably the social consequences of this inflation are worse — rising wealth differentials and the demise of affordable housing for first-home buyers except on city outskirts.

Given the challenge of global warming and peak oil, debate about tax reform should be focused on what changes are necessary to encourage environment-friendly investment and lifestyles instead of the old debate about the "tax burden", which is completely divorced from what taxes buy.

Measures to stimulate consumption of fossil fuels total more than $4 billion a year. Why should the fringe benefits tax reward those who use their company cars mostly for private use while lesser mortals pay income tax and GST on their public transport fares?

Climate Change Minister Penny Wong squashed a move in the environmental group to recommend that no more coal-fired power stations be built. Why? Already base-load solar photovoltaics and solar thermal and geothermal energy can competitively meeting the full growth in electricity consumption with a $20-$30 a tonne charge on carbon dioxide emissions.

The governance group resurrected the republic debate without touching the central issue of whether the president would be elected or appointed by the parliament. If the president is elected, power will be leached out of the parliament into the president's office, as has occurred in the US, unless there is a constitutional amendment to prevent a hostile Senate blocking supply.

The debate should be about the future of the Westminister system, which is based on the accountability of the executive to the parliament.

The place to begin is the High Court decision in 2005 to approve the Howard government's authority to spend $40 million advertising its WorkChoices legislation. This, even though legislation had not been presented to parliament and was covered by a one-line omnibus appropriation for the Industrial Relations Department of $1.4 billion designed to produce the "outcome" of "higher productivity, higher paid workforces" plus "efficient and effective labour assistance".

The assault on accountability was made possible by the shift from cash accounting, where parliament appropriates money for specific purposes with objective descriptions, to accrual accounting, where appropriations are classified by "outputs", which have become little more than political slogans.

When the budget is brought down in May we will discover whether, thanks to an inept High Court, the rotting door of executive accountability has been kicked completely down or whether the Rudd Government will resist the temptation and restore some credibility to the budget papers.

Kenneth Davidson is a senior columnist.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Back From Holidays

Back from the Easter break.

While I was away Zimbabwe has sunk even further into disarray, If only the world could get rid of Robert Mugabe, he is an evil man who has been allowed by South Africa to get away with the most awful crimes against humanity.


A guy called Sir Rod Eddington has finished a report on transport needs in Melbourne and has recommended billions of dollars be spent on roads and rail. Read about it here.

Macquarie bank has been criticised for it's methods. I have been saying for years that banks like Macquarie are stealing our Common Wealth, we have been so hoodwinked by bankers and economists that it would be laughable if it wasn't for the fact we will be a poorer society due to their schemes. Read about it here

And lastly a proposal to the state government, is that we have different types of water. Some [Desalinated] would be 6 times the price of Dam water and would be available with out restrictions. You know who will get to use that. The rich.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Melbournes Water

Here is an article in Todays Age by Kenneth Davidson. Yet again our government is misrepresenting the facts to increase our water costs.
See Below.

Water policy direct from La La Land

Kenneth Davidson
March 13, 2008

Spurious Government projections point to a privatisation agenda.

THE Brumby Government's water policy is looking less and less sustainable every day. There are a range of options that are all cheaper and environmentally more sustainable than the Government's decision to build a $3.1 billion desalination plant at Wonthaggi, and the $1 billion north-south pipeline designed to divert water from the Goulburn reservoir to Melbourne Water.

The need to generate these additional supplies is based on water projections that are so flawed they border on the ludicrous, or the outright dishonest. The Government predicts a water supply crisis based on running a regression curve through the three drought years of 2004-2006, which shows the reservoirs that supply Melbourne drying up by 2010.

However, on the Government's own say so, the pipeline and the desalination plant will not begin delivering water until 2010 and 2011 respectively; but even if the plant is working by 2010 it wouldn't cover the shortfall projected by the Government.

Neil Rankin is the author of a recent and excellent supply/demand analysis of Melbourne's water until 2016. A science school teacher and member of the Kilcunda Your Water Your Say Action Group, Rankin writes that three years is far too short a period on which to base a long-term strategy, and would not be taken seriously by statisticians or scientific modellers. He might have added that when pap like the Government's predictions are used as the basis of policy to justify spending $4 billion dollars, one might have expected critical review by various government departments. But there hasn't been a word from the experts at Melbourne Water or the Department of Sustainability and Environment, from bureaucrats in the Department of Treasury and Finance, or from the Infrastructure Department. Clearly, the Victorian Government is in the middle of a dense forest in La La Land.

What this army of apologists for the financial engineers who have taken over the infrastructure priorities of this state — and are in the process of taking over the infrastructure priorities of the nation if the appointments to the national Infrastructure Board and the broadband inquiry are any guide — should have done is projected demand based on a 10-year rainfall regression that includes 2007 statistics.

It has taken a schoolteacher and a group of volunteers fighting to save their local environment to point out that the emperor of Spring Street and his retinue of advisers have no clothes on. In short, what this group has put together is a far more scientifically honest. and hence realistic, forecast, with 2007 levels of per capita consumption scaled for population increase and severe climate change. This shows that in 2016 the supply of water will be double the level of consumption.

Even if there was unrestricted consumption and a 25% increase in consumption above current levels, the excess of supply over consumption would still be about 60% in 2016.

The group that has put together these figures has been trying to see Water Minister Tim Holding for three weeks to discuss them. They want to see their analysis subjected to detailed examination and debate. They fear that if they send it to the minister it will be dismissed in a load of spin.

As readers of my recent columns discussing the alternatives to the desal plant and the north-south pipeline will appreciate, a lot of concerned people have been writing to Holding wanting to know why these alternatives have not been examined before the Government commits to what are arguably the worst alternatives available. Some of the ministerial replies have been passed on to me. They suggest the Government is determined to avoid sensible discussion of the alternatives.

The big question is: who prepared the shoddy projections on which the Government is basing its plans? It doesn't appear to be Melbourne Water. If Melbourne Water was involved then there is a complete disjuncture between the forecasts and Melbourne Water's operating and capital budget projections between 2008 and 2012.

The not-so-secret agenda of Labor governments across the country and the corporatised urban water authorities appears to be to find ways to increase the price of water as a prelude to setting up a water market leading to privatisation of water infrastructure.

The peak industry body is the Water Services Association of Australia. It is chaired by Dr Kerry Schott who has impeccable connections with Labor governments. She was appointed managing director of Sydney Water in 2006 from the position of deputy secretary of NSW Treasury. Before that she spent 15 years as an investment banker in the infrastructure area, including roles as managing director at Deutsche Bank and executive vice-president at Bankers Trust Australia.

If the Brumby Government really believed water was going to run out by 2010, rather than using the forecasts as an excuse to set up a couple of dodgy public-private partnerships that won't be ready in time, it would already have instituted a crash program in conservation, water harvesting, recycling, rolling out of rainwater tanks and maintaining draconian water restrictions to meet the crisis.

It isn't. Because it knows its projections don't hold water. It can't be long before voters know this too.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

John Howard

John Howard has jumped out of his box. He has done it over seas and in what could only be called friendly company. I have been wondering where he went after he lost the last election and finally it was declared he had lost his seat too.
This is the man who was the miracle PM he had managed to survive for 11 years in the top job. Well when he came down he came crashing down. You would of thought he may of learnt a thing or two after his loss. But no, out he comes with support for his old policies and reasons for not saying SORRY to the Aboriginals. He still thinks signing Kyoto was a mistake.
Why we ever let this man run our country during such important times, I cannot understand. Even his own party is disowning him as fast as they can. He can't understand that either.
I'm sure that if he was to say the things he is saying in America over here, he would be roundly criticised.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Melbourne Grand Prix

If you say it fast enough it can sound like a male appendage. And that is what it is and always has been. We supposedly won it from Adelaide. Plonked it in a sensitive street-scape, infuriated the local population, including the business owners, who initially thought it was going to be a financial bonanza, only to find themselves locked in and the punters all left their area and partied elsewhere.

All in all it has cost the state of Victoria a bucket load of money. Now running at around 30 plus million a year. The attendances have dropped, but we are not allowed to know by how much cause the organiser can manipulate the figures. They even count all the drivers as attendees.

The main winner is Bernie Eccelstone, he amasses his fortune running the F1 circuit. He appears to be a very greedy man. This now reflects in the way the F1 circuit is run.

The Melbourne grand prix has to renew it's license by the year 2010, and to win a further term it needs to allow night racing. Which of course would further infuriate the local population.

I believe most Melbournians have had enough of this polluting rich mans hobby, and will lobby their government to not sign up for another 10 years. Lets hope so.
Here is an article on this subject.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


13th February 2008. Today the Australian Parliament said SORRY to the STOLEN GENERATIONS. of Aborigines.
Well done, about bloody time. Hopefully now we can build on that appology and start the long road that will bring equality to all Australians.
Woof x
Rudd says Sorry.

Hark Ye Hark Ye Bloggers Unite

A message for all you bloggers who think they can write here is a message from Vi

It is all in a good cause, see below. So give it a go.


The delightful Sarah Peach has come up with a fab idea.

We are going to publish our own blog book of short stories! She's not doing it all alone, she's recruited myself, Ms Robinson, Ariel and Sarah from He loves me not.

Blogland is such a fantastic place, where we can write down things that have gone on with our lives, and find all these amazing people out there, who, like us, have a story to tell. And the beauty of blogging, is meeting others like ourselves, or even totally different but still connect and we've sort of created our own 'internet families'.

Sometimes I wish I could have my computer in bed with me to read the stories. But I'm afraid, I'd fall asleep drooling all over it, then blowing it up.

So it would be great to read it all in a book!

The only problem is, I'm gonna be reading all the stories before they go in the book! But hey, the rest of you will enjoy it I'm sure!

The title of the book is 'You're not the only one'. (Since you aren't, there are so many of us out there!)

We are inviting you to write a story to go into the book. It's quite broad, it can be from your children, relationships, illness, work, whatever. Or even how blogging has changed your life somehow, making you understand things about yourself that you didn't know before (cause, I reckon blogging is really apart of therapy!) We are looking for humourous, or moving, or inspirational. (or all of the above!)

Here are the guidelines....

  • Submit stories that have not been published outside blogland. A piece from your own blog is fine, but nothing published previously in hard copy.

  • Maximum words is 1500. The shorter, the better, as there will be more chance of it getting published.

  • You must be a blogger and have a live blog. It's open to all countries.

  • It must be about something you've been through personally. Amusing or serious, whatever style you like.

  • You can submit in your blogname and remain anonymous if you like.

  • If you intend to submit, then it would be great if you pimped this on your blog. The more coverage, the more submissions, the more chance of the book to sell.

  • All entries are to be sent in to

  • All entries must be in by the 29th February 2008.

Oh, and we aren't doing this to make money you know.

All this hard sweat and tears is for a reason. The charity we have chosen is War Child. It's an international charity, since it's going to be an international blog book. We are publishing through . There is no upfront fee, but Lulu takes £4.70 per book sold if we make it no longer than 200 pages. We are pricing the book at £9 so £4.30 goes straight to charity.

Because we can't go anymore than 200 pages, not all submissions may be added. But give it your best shot! No bribing will be taken (unless, of course, one of you can magically bring my Chief back from the war to me!)

I'm really excited about this, and I hope you are too. Even if you aren't interested in submitting, it would be great if you could plug us on your blog, and pass the word.

Oh, and if you would like to use the 'war child' logo on my side bar, in your blog (or on a post yourself) please feel free to save it and use it.

In support of War Child, registered with the Charity Commission no. 1071659

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Ancient Greeks

I believe that from way back the Ancient Greeks would of have thought about the cycle of nature and how we fit into it. Whether I am correct in that believe or not, it doesn't seem that strange that we put 2 and 2 together and made 4, and when it comes to what you sow you reap. Got the picture?

So it follows that if you start using something that you dig up from the ground you might work out over time, how it got there, and how you might replace it.

Carbon is an amazing element. It effectively absorbs the sunlight and we get to release it either within a few years or as in the case of Oil, Coal, and Gas millions of years later. We have been pulling Carbon out of the ground for at least a hundred years, and long before that, we cut down trees to burn. We must of known early on how these deposits of Carbon had been saved for our use. We may not of known how to replace them exactly as they are found, but we could work out how to save something similar. Trees are an obvious choice, however now we are really wanting to replenish our used energy store, we are going directly to the sorce i.e. solar.

If we had used the principle of what you sow you reap, we should of been finding ways of replenishing our energy use for the last 50 years. I wonder how many other things we are missing out on, just because we can't think out side the consumption box.


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Port Phillip Bay

Melbourne is situated within a bay Called Port Phillip Bay . It has become a place where Melbournians swim, fish and play water sports. The Yarra river runs into the bay and when Melbourne was being established in the latter part of the 19th century a port was established on the river and fed by ships coming through Port Phillip bay. It has been described as a 19th or twentieth century port, but not suitable for the 21st century and beyond.

There are alternative places that could serve Melbourne and Victoria as a deep-water port. One being Western Port bay which is a deep water bay. Which is literally just around the corner. [See Port Phillip Bay link above] It has towns along the foreshore that could be developed into port cities. In fact a proposal to make Hastings a port was floated back in the 1960s.

As it is, we are just about to embark on a billion dollar dredging exercise, to create a deep water shipping channel for the new generation container ships. Even with a number of environmental impact studies and Federal Government approval, there is a ground swell of opposition.

The Premier [Mr Brumby] supports the recommendations, but I think he is missing the point. That being, that Port Phillip bay is used in a very different way to a century ago. The people of Melbourne don't want their bay side polluted by dredging up a 100 years of toxic waste and sludge. Even the main users of the Port of Melbourne [shipping companies] are not unanimous in their support for the billion dollar dredging.

I think, yet again, it is a case of the experts told them so, so therefore we will do as they say.

There are many ways to skin a cat, and putting a deep water port in a deep water bay may be the best way to go. As long as we insist on using heavy rail to cart the containers to distribution points around Victoria it should work well.

So honk your ships horn if you think we should send a message to Mr Brumby.

Oh and by the way, I have read that our former Federal treasurer Peter Costello, who jumped after the last general election. Has been offered an eight figure annual income to work for the Macquarie bank. I wonder, if his often kind support for their take over plans has anything to do with that. A bit like the former Premier of NSW Bob Carr getting a decent wedge from Mac Bank when he retired from politics.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Back on your Bike

A new year and at last I'm climbing out of my holiday/xmas/hot summer hibernation.

Over the xmas hols the state government here in Victoria decided to ban Bicycles on trains during the morning rush hour period. This is despite the relevant transport minister being supposedly in favour of bikes as a means of transport.
Of late the public transport system is being used more, due in part to a hike in petrol costs and also the greater awareness of Global warming. This has meant that the railway carriages have been full in the mornings as commuters get to work. Some travellers want to use public transport in conjunction with their bikes. So here is the rub, busy train, person gets on with bike, potential for conflict.
The transport minister had a couple of options, one was to restrict the carrying of bikes on trains. The other was to make arrangements for an extra carriage during the morning rush hour to accommodate the extra patronage, including people with bikes.
He chose the first, I don't know why, perhaps cause the government no longer run the railways and their contracts with the private operator is locked into so many carriages. Who knows? All I can say is there will be many more commuters with their varying needs in the not so distant future. The government should look forward with enlightenment not put their collective head in the sand and behave like they have.