NOVEMBER 2014

No Sense of Proportion!

Not another Medical Condition!

I have a growing concern I am becoming less able to “look on the bright side of life”.   With October consigned to history, I was determined to enter November full of optimistic radiance – this was short lived.

The opening bars of the November symphony on the farm provided a reflection of conditions in rural south-eastern Australia. Two galahs were perched on the edge of a cattle trough desperately trying to reach the water – they failed and flew off! Two large kookaburras were found drowned in another cattle trough. Kangaroos are now drinking at a birdbath close to the house. The continuing drought combines to grip the countryside. Dams have progressed from muddy brown soup to sun-baked clay.

As if on cue, a recent IPPC report has provided a stark warning on the dangers facing Homo sapiens. The ABC news bulletin gave equal time to the IPPC report and an obscure drive-by shooting in south-west Sydney. There was no sense of proportion on the relative seriousness of each news item. This even-handed treatment proves a collective “sleepwalking” to the disaster of the “great disruption”.

The Abbott Government may be unwillingly developing a dangerous mindset among less fortunate Australians. In the book “Global Crisis” by Geoffrey Parker, he dealt with civil unrest among the masses during the period of climate change in the mid-1600s. It was an aggregation of small imposts by ruling elites when their “loyal” subjects were suffering from a poor economy, unemployment, war and poor harvests.

In Australia there may in part be a mirror image and a combination of small financial irritations, namely:

  • Medicare co-payment of $7
  • Fuel tax of $0.01 per litre
  • Salary impositions of only 1.5% for military and civil service
  • Increased tuition fees for students.

The current unstable climatic and economic conditions in Australia, when considered with the dire warnings provided by Professor Steglietz, Columbia University, in his book “The Price of Inequality” (Big Ideas, ABC 4/11/2014) should be a flashing red light for Australia, other Western democracies and particularly America.

Factors applicable to Australia are:

  • since the mind-1990s there has been soaring financial inequality and lower growth
  • there is a lower level of opportunity for offspring whose parents are not wealthy
  • with very few exceptions dependency on natural resources is a curse since wealth does not trickle down
  • citizens of resource rich countries tend to atrophy since wealth does not come from intellectual energy, it comes from the ground
  • resource rich countries have a great wealth disparity
  • there are two ways for countries to increase wealth – this applies to Australia – namely to invent or manufacture something or pursue rent seeking wealth appropriation, the latter is pernicious and currently Australia is caught in this trap.

Steglietz contends advanced economies penalise the poor:

  • banks are always the first claimants
  • citizens lose homes and farms
  • billions are paid to keep banks afloat but there is nothing for small investors
  • rent seeking causes inequality and weakens the economy.

My progression “Towards the Final Hour” has been given a boost by the unexpected diagnosis of another medical condition – peripheral neuropathy. First indication was a night time tingling of the toes. Events moved to a North Shore specialist’s rooms where I failed the pinprick test in my extremities and was subjected to shock treatment and an MRI on my spinal column. Blood tests followed including those for mercury and lead. I now await the cause and the cure. Such has been my medical condition this year, I have been forced to admit I now have more social intercourse with the medical profession than I have with friends and family.

The China-American Climate Change Agreement was signed on 7thNovember, a few days before the G20 Summit in Brisbane. The Agreement calls for China to cap emissions by 2030, while America will reduce emissions by 26-28% below the 2005 levels by 2025. Details have not been released by either party.

There has been vocal criticism in the United States that it is a poor deal for America but, industrially and economically, China has a long way to catch up, its major problems being:

  • its high energy intensity industry
  • a slow growth in consumer and service industries
  • poverty
  • a requirement for greater GDP growth.

At the G20, Australia was embarrassed and wrong-footed by the Chinese-American Agreement. Australia’s “direct action” policy provides for financial inducements for polluters to reduce emissions. Business will compete to win tenders and be paid to undertake emission-reduction targets. The rest of the Industrialised World is using a carbon trading scheme. Australia has set up an Emission Reduction Fund of $2.55 billion over four years – the target is to reduce emissions by 5% below the 2000 emissions by 2020.

The Chairman of the UK Council on Climate Change, Lord Deben, is scathing on Australia’s climate change policy. The planned expenditure (2.55bn) and the target reduction (5%) is derisory. Direct Action will not work and Australia is out of step with the rest of the world.

Like an errant willy-willy, the G20 Meeting stirred up Brisbane and was gone. The G20 Leaders’ Communique dated 16th November 2014, appears to be a document of agreed principles that mandates Ministers must now implement policy. Principal objectives appeared to involve living standards, jobs, global growth, Third World infrastructure and the transfer of technology; there is a move to relocate global institutions away from the West. There is a move to expand global gas supplies. In relation to climate change, the G20 seeks sustainable development.

The overall objective of the G20 is to create sustainable economics through co-operation, transfer of resources and seek closer harmonious union. Philosophically, there may be a problem highlighted by the critical situation in the European Union – the policy of closer co-operation and less competition has moved Europe towards a condition of stagnation and deflation. Competition is one of the main drivers of prosperity and innovation. The G20 policies should consider Europe’s situation in relation to global growth.

The collegial spirit of the G20 has already fractured. Despite the recent steep fall in the oil price Saudi Arabia has refused to reduce production, an ABC News item alluded to the fact that a low oil price will damage gas production in the United States, thereby forcing the States to rely on Saudi oil.

A curious reverse migration is seeing increasing numbers of Jews returning to Germany. Israeli citizens are applying for European passports, many with the objective of settling in Germany. Reasons cited are the cost of living and the hostilities with the Palestinians. The Israeli government has condemned these ‘descenders’ for lack of nationalism and an insult to Holocaust survivors. The philosophical issue is unless brain washed how long will younger generations follow national ethos supported by parents and grandparents? This mind set has relevance to Australia due to the fading numbers calling Britain ‘home’ and the ANZAC tradition. In the years to come the Australian government will have to maintain a robust memorial policy.

I attended the local Light Horse contingent Christmas Party. I found it sobering to look around the gathering and realise it was these type of people who produced the deeds, myth and legend that is ANZAC

The closing bars of the November symphony mirrored the opening cadence, the rainfall for the month was the lowest in twelve years. Kangaroos are regular visitors round the birdbath.