Saturday, March 12, 2011

Andrew Bolt’s dodgy fundamentals

Andrew Bolt has today posed a couple of questions about the Gillard Government’s carbon ‘pricing’ plan that I’d have liked to have seen him ask John F. Kennedy in 1962:

There are two fundamental questions journalists never ask the Kennedy administration about its mad scheme to put a man on the moon.

They’re the two questions we’d ask whether buying an Electrolux vacuum cleaner or a Pontiac.

One, how much will this cost?

Two, how well will it work?

Actually there are some further fundamental questions the average shopper would probably ask, around costs-benefits and the like.

Of course, there are technological developments and innovations that would almost certainly flow from Kennedy’s, or indeed any, grand initiative. These were unquantifiable, of course, when Kennedy announced his grand vision in 1962 but are readily identifiable today.

The thing is, of course, that Bolt’s equivalence of the Gillard Government’s carbon pricing initiative with the mundane purchase of consumer goods is utterly simplistic and, well, just plain dumb.

If he’d have put that equivalence to Jill Duggan of the European Commission’s Directorate General of Climate Action, whom he lambastes in the above column for not answering his dodgy “two fundamental questions”, she might have been able to set him straight — failing which, you’d have to think maybe she really was clueless.

Unfortunately Prime Minister Gillard probably lacks the gravitas to convincingly deliver the Kennedy line about “we do this not because it is easy, but because it is hard...”

. . . because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.

And it may be recalled that Kennedy, in his election campaigning, did not categorically say he would not put a man on the moon.

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Friday, March 11, 2011

Longevity not so affordable in long-term

From a discussion of various models for reform of the residential aged care sector in New Zealand:

Enhanced integration of aged care and other health services could improve older people’s outcomes and lower direct costs. It is, however, a complex structural change and international experience suggests that it may, in fact, not reduce total costs, primarily because initial savings are often offset by increased longevity.

Always a catch, but then it stands to reason. Increased budgetary and other imposts due to increasing longevity is in fact a recurring theme in the Grant Thornton report above, as indeed it is in the Australian Productivity Commission’s Caring for Older Australians draft report.


Wednesday, March 09, 2011

McCrann and the great big new tax on dirty bits of grit

“Astonishingly,” says Herald Sun columnist Terry McCrann, “the PM, the Cabinet and members of the Canberra Press Gallery don’t know the difference between carbon and carbon dioxide.”

Apparently it has to do with nomenclature, because the Gillard Government wants to put a price on carbon, rather than carbon dioxide. McCrann seems to believe that carbon comes in only one form, namely “dirty bits of grit.”

The reason the term is used by Gillard is an exercise of quite deliberate despicable dishonesty. It is the modern political form of those subliminal advertisements that are banned.

To suggest that it is about stopping dirty bits of grit — the very real carbon pollution of yesterday’s coal-burning home fires which gave London its sooty smog and killed thousands every year.

Most people are familiar with the term ‘carbon sink’, which has been around for decades, but perhaps only a very few including McCrann believe it refers to something that absorbs dirty bits of grit.

McCrann also excoriates the Gillard Government for “peddling” another lie, that “putting a price on carbon is the 21st century equivalent of the tariff reforms of the 1980s.”

This lie has been peddled not just by the government but also by Treasury. Be afraid, be really afraid that we have a Treasury which is that incompetent.

I’ll indeed switch from being mildly amused if McCrann or somebody can refer me to exactly where Treasury said that.

There’s no doubt, however, that McCrann’s niche readership of the habitually afraid will find his exposition really, really frightening. They’ll indeed find confirmation that the guv’ment wants to tax human respiration.

The last word on this belongs to a commenter on an online forum, who seems to be precisely on McCrann’s wavelength:

Remember if they could kill you they would.

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