Asian Century Starts 2020?

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There has been much discussion over past decades on the rise of China and the Asian century viz a viz the USA and Europe. In recent months there have been clear Covid19 or Coronavirus amelioration strategies while the US, UK and several European nations have struggled, leading to significant economic impacts. More from the Asia Times:

 

Asian century began in May 2020

 

Region has emerged as an economic zone as closely integrated as the European Union

By DAVID P. GOLDMAN
MAY 21, 2020

 

Economic historians may date the start of the Asian century to May 2020, when most Asian economies bounced back to full employment while the West languished in coronavirus lockdown. Asia has emerged as an economic zone as closely integrated as the European Union, increasingly insulated from economic shocks from the United States or Europe.

 

Google’s daily data on workplace mobility uses smartphone location to determine the number of people going to work – by far the most accurate and up-to-date available reading on economic activity. As of May 13, Taiwan, South Korea and Vietnam were back to normal levels. Japan and Germany had climbed back to 20% below normal. The US, France and the UK remain paralyzed. Google can’t take readings in China, but the available evidence indicates that China is on the same track as Taiwan, South Korea and Vietnam.

 

Asian economic recovery is consistent with success in controlling the Covid-19 pandemic. China, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore have Covid-19 death rates a tenth of Germany’s and a hundredth of the rate in the US, UK, France or Spain. As I reported May 21, the US is struggling to re-open its economy despite a much higher rate of new infections than the Asian countries or Germany. That entails substantial risk. Two Ford Motor plants in the US that had re-opened May 17 shut yesterday after employees tested positive for Covid-19, for example.

 

Asia’s short-term surge followed its success in disease prevention. But the long-term driver of Asian growth is China’s emergence as a tech superpower. This week’s session of the People’s Congress in Beijing is expected to pass a $1.4 trillion of new government investments in 5G broadband, factory automation, self-driving cars, artificial intelligence and related fields.

 

Asia now acts as a cohesive economic bloc. Sixty percent of Asian countries’ trade is within Asia, the same proportion as the European Union. The Google mobility numbers confirm what we learned earlier this month from China’s April trade data. Intra-Asian trade surged year-over-year, while trade with the United States stagnated.

 

The surge in Chinese trade with Southeast Asia, South Korea and Taiwan shows the extent of Asian economic integration. China’s exports to Asia have grown much faster than its trade with the US, which stagnated after 2014.

 

China’s stock market meanwhile is this year’s top performer, down only 2% year-to-date on the MSCI Index in US dollar terms while all other major exchanges are deep in negative numbers. The strength of China’s stock market is noteworthy given the escalation of economic warfare with the US, including a US ban on third-party exports of computer chips made with US intellectual property to blacklisted Chinese companies, and the threat to de-list Chinese companies on US stock exchange……

 

For more articles and blogs about Asia, Australian politics, economics, EU European Union, GDP growth, global trade and nationalism click through.

 

Coronavirus – Trade Issues – US, China and Australia

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While the Australian media and government, following the Trump US White House, demand action on China regarding Covid-19 causes or sources, and trade tariff issues, Australian publicly owned and listed miners Rio Tinto, BHP and Fortescue Metals Group have made their first iron ore export deals with China in Yuan, what does this mean for USD as a reserve or training currency?

 

BHP completes first yuan-based iron ore sale to China’s Baosteel

Min Zhang, Tom Daly

 

BEIJING (Reuters) – The world’s top listed miner BHP Group said on Tuesday it had made its first yuan-denominated sale of iron ore to China Baoshan Iron & Steel Co Ltd (Baosteel) and would explore using blockchain for such transactions in future.

 

The sale of a Cape Size vessel of lump and fines, worth nearly 100 million yuan ($14.1 million), shows the Chinese currency is making further inroads in iron ore trading after Baosteel, the listed arm of the world’s biggest steelmaker China Baowu Steel Group, bought iron ore from Brazil’s Vale SA in yuan in January.

 

BHP said the deal was a part of a 12-month trial and will involve multiple cargoes.

 

The miner is also expecting to be able to complete its first blockchain iron ore transaction with Baosteel soon, it said in a statement. China, the largest iron ore consumer, brought in over 1 billion tonnes of the steelmaking raw material last year and has long sought to gain influence over pricing to help its steel firms weather market fluctuations.

 

In a separate statement, Baowu noted it had now struck yuan-based deals with the “three giants” of iron ore – BHP, Rio Tinto and Vale.

 

The fourth-biggest iron ore miner, Australia’s Fortescue Metals Group, is also selling in yuan after setting up a trading entity in China in April 2019.

 

“The active promotion of renminbi settlement in iron ore transactions is not only for operational needs, but also in line with the trend of yuan internationalisation,” Baowu said.

 

Baosteel recently concluded its first yuan-based iron ore purchase with Rio Tinto supported by Standard Chartered, blockchain financial platform Contour and other parties, according to a Rio Tinto statement sent to Reuters.

 

China’s iron ore imports jumped more than 11% in April from a month earlier as steel mills raced to restore production after the coronavirus pandemic paralyzed the economy earlier in the year.’

 

Related News:

 

How the Yuan Could Become a Global Currency

 

China’s Plan to Replace the U.S. Dollar. As China’s economic might grows, it’s taking steps to make that happen. A slim majority of institutional investors see it as inevitable, but don’t say when. Could we see a switch from a greenback to a redback-dominated world? If so, how and when would that happen? What would be the consequences’

 

China pushes ahead with making yuan a global currency.

 

But  Beijing still has its work cut out to rival the mighty US dollar. Beijing’s bold steps to globalize the yuan, such as its launch of yuan-denominated crude oil futures and its highly anticipated issuance of a digital currency, are in the limelight. But experts say that China has a long way to go to achieve its ambition to make the yuan a key global currency’

 

Rio Tinto, Baosteel use Contour blockchain for iron ore trade.

 

Earlier this week, Contour trade finance blockchain announced Rio Tinto and China’s Baosteel completed a yuan-based iron ore trade using its platform. It was the first blockchain-based letter of credit transaction on the platform for DBS Bank after it joined Contour on Monday. The Chinese government is encouraging trade to be denominated in the yuan / renminbi rather than the U.S. dollar and Baosteel is state-owned.

 

For more related blogs and articles on Australian Politics, Business Strategy, COVID-19, Economics, Global Trade and Nationalism click through.

Covid-19 Climate Science Vaccination Misinformation PR and Astro Turfing

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In recent months there has been an increase in confusion, misrepresentation and misunderstanding in news and social media round Covid-19 using same techniques as in tobacco, climate science denialism and anti-vaccination movements that seem to benefit US radical right libertarians’ preferred ideology and politics.

 

The following articles from The Fifth Estate in Australia and DeSmog Blog in Canada explain the communication techniques well.

 

Separating truth from lies in the causes of the pandemic

 

David Thorpe | 28 April 2020

 

OPINION: What’s caused this devastating pandemic that’s so far cost at least 207,000 lives (and it’s hardly begun) and wrecked the global economy? If, like me, you’ve been on the receiving end of a blizzard of bizarre messages claiming to reveal the truth behind the pandemic you might be forgiven for feeling confused, so here’s your handy guide to what isn’t the cause and what is.

 

Misinformation wars

 

Right from the start misinformation was rife: there was no virus; the disease was like flu and wouldn’t cause significant harm; emails offered baseless cures and treatments; and conspiracy theories spread like wildfire about its origin.

 

It turns out that many who circulated such misinformation have a history of casting doubt on climate science or seeking to debate issues that were already laid to rest within the scientific community, according to DeSmog.org:

 

“The decades that fossil fuel companies spent funding organisations that sought to undermine the conclusions of credible climate scientists and building up doubt about science itself ultimately created a network of professional science deniers who are now deploying some of the same skills they honed on climate against the public health crisis at the centre of our attention today.”

 

Some of this misinformation was/is channelled by presidents Trump and Bolsanaro. Others by think tanks, experts (some self-proclaimed), academics, and professional right-wing activists who are also climate change denialists.

 

After taking apart all of these arguments, DeSmog asserts: “COVID denial should forever discredit climate science deniers”.’

 

From DeSmog direct:

 

The Reason COVID-19 and Climate Seem So Similar: Disinformation

 

Repost By Guest • Monday, April 20, 2020  of Amy Westervelt, Drilled News. Originally published by Drilled News.

 

For a long time, the story went that the tobacco industry cooked up disinformation and then spread it to the fossil fuel guys, the chemical industry, pharma, you name it. But one thing that became incredibly clear when we began digging into PR firms and specific publicists was that this version of history was not quite right; if disinformation strategies were cooked up by any particular industry it was the public relations industry, which put these strategies to work on behalf of fossil fuels, tobacco, chemical manufacturers and more, often all at the same time.

 

The very first publicist, Ivy Ledbetter Lee, worked on behalf of both Standard Oil and, shortly after, American Tobacco, for example. Daniel Edelman developed astroturf campaigns for both RJ Reynolds tobacco company and the American Petroleum Institute, as did John Hill, who went so far as to have tobacco folks join the API. He also worked with Monsanto, juggling all three clients at the same time. E. Bruce Harrison worked for the chemical guys first, then managed front groups for tobacco and fossil fuels at the same time. You get the drift.

 

These industries all surely learned from each other at various points in time, but that was mostly because they were working with the same publicists. The history is less that tobacco or oil embraced disinformation first and then passed it on and more that a handful of PR firms and consultants created the disinformation industry, and then put it to work on behalf of whatever industry needed it at any given time.

 

Today, those same strategies are at work on behalf of those who worry that the response to COVID-19 will undermine capitalism, which is why climate folks keep noting how familiar the whole anti-science component of the rightwing response to the pandemic feels. It’s familiar because the exact same strategies are being deployed, in some cases by the same people. Here are a few key examples:

 

Disinformation Strategy #1: He who controls the language controls the narrative.

Disinformation Strategy #2: Leverage science illiteracy to create doubt.

Disinformation strategy #3: Astroturfing.

 

Our hope, of course, is that when people learn to recognize these strategies and know what’s behind them, they might become less effective. Disempowering the disinformation industry is a necessary part of any climate solution.’

 

For more articles and blogs about climate change, Covid-19, populist politics, critical thinking, marketing & communications and science literacy click through.

Trump’s White House Immigration Policies and White Nationalist John Tanton

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The aggressive anti-immigration sentiment and policies that are promoted by governments in the US, UK and Australia are not new and have been in the making for generations, John Tanton described as the ‘most influential unknown man in America’ appears central in modern day manifestations. A long game in the same eco system as radical right libertarians, evangelical conservative Christians, eco-fascists, eugenicists, autarkist proponents, climate science denialism and white nationalists, weaponised by deep pocketed philanthropists and ideologues, many of the same highlighted in research by Jane Mayer’s ‘Dark Money’ and Nancy MacLean’s ‘Democracy in Chains’.

 

The fulcrum of these seemingly unrelated entities, donors and operators revolves round the likes of John Tanton, James Buchanan, Paul Ehrlich, Paul Weyrich, Rockefeller Bros. Foundation (more in the past? and related fossil fuel players in addition to ExxonMobil), Colcom (Mellon Scaife), Kochs, then organisations they spawned such as ZPG Zero Population Growth, Club of Rome (‘Limits to Growth’), Heritage Foundation, Cato, Heartland Institute, Americans for Prosperity, ‘bill mill’ ALEC, FAIR, CIS Center for Immigration Studies, The Social Contract Press, and elsewhere including university academia. In Australia this includes Sustainable (Population) Australia, former head of Monash University based CUPR, demographer Dr. Bob Birrell (contributed to Tanton’s Social Contract Press), IPA Institute of Public Affairs (in Koch’s Atlas Network) and in the UK IEA Institute of Economic Affairs (Atlas Network), Population Matters UK ( Pa patronaul Ehrlich) and Migration Watch UK (linked to Tanton’s CIS).

From SPLC:

HATEWATCH – John Tanton’s Legacy – July 18, 2019

Swathi Shanmugasundaram
John Tanton, the racist architect of the modern anti-immigrant movement, has left behind a legacy that spawned more than a dozen nativist organizations, driven an anti-immigrant agenda for four decades, and found friends in the White House.

 

Tanton created groups that billed themselves as fact-based think tanks and lobbyists. Instead, those groups spread propaganda targeting immigrants that has become central to President Trump’s immigration policy.

 

Tanton, 85, died Tuesday in Petoskey, Michigan. The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), an SPLC-designated hate group that Tanton launched in 1979, announced his death in a press release.

 

Tanton’s anti-immigrant influence goes far beyond FAIR. He founded or funded 13 anti-immigrant organizations, including three of the most influential anti-immigrant groups in the United States – FAIR, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), and NumbersUSA – known as the “Big Three.”

 

These groups spoke at congressional briefings and provided media interviews with mainstream outlets such as the Associated Press and The New York Times, all the while couching their racism in more palatable terms.

 

John Tanton’s anti-immigrant legacy spawned more than a dozen nativist organizations.

 

The Big Three also have close connections with a number of people in the Trump administration. As the president ramps up his anti-immigrant policies, extremists from Tanton’s network are finding positions of authority within the administration.

 

Tanton’s views were first revealed when a series of private memos he wrote to leaders of FAIR were leaked to the press. In an October 1986 memo he wrote, “As Whites see their power and control over their lives declining, will they simply go quietly into the night? Or will there be an explosion?”

 

FAIR, the action arm of the movement, regularly deploys its employees to lobby legislators to introduce anti-immigrant legislation in state legislatures nationwide. Its lobbying efforts to repeal birthright citizenship and ban sanctuary law span decades.

 

FAIR’s self-described mission is to reduce overall immigration and has big allies in, or connected to, the White House. Allies include former employees Julie Kirchner, who now serves as the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) ombudsman, John Zadrozny, an official at the State Department, and Ian Smith. Smith had stints at the State Department and Domestic Policy Council but ultimately had to resign in August 2018 after leaked emails tied him to white nationalists Richard Spencer and Jared Taylor.

 

Center for Immigration Studies, the think tank of the movement run by Mark Krikorian, regularly publishes discredited reports about immigrants. CIS reports have been widely criticized and debunked by groups such as the Immigration Policy Center and the CATO Institute. Still, the hate group has gained legitimacy in Trump’s administration.

 

In early 2017, Stephen Miller, a senior advisor in the White House, cited a CIS study in defending Trump’s executive order banning immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries. “First of all, 72 individuals, according to the Center for Immigration Studies, have been implicated in terroristic activity in the United States who hail from those seven nations, point one,” Miller said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Fact-checkers at The Washington Post debunked this talking point.

 

In April 2016, CIS published a “wish list” of policies, many of which have been implemented by the Trump administration. These policies range from terminating the diversity visa lottery program, to refugee admissions. In September 2018, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the lowest refugee cap since the passage of the Refugee Act in 2018.

 

Krikorian appears in the press and on television programs ranging from Fox & Friends, where he spoke about immigration with former ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan, to C-SPAN, where he defended the inclusion of material from the white nationalist site VDARE in CIS’s weekly newsletter.

 

VDARE is an anti-immigration, white nationalist hate site founded by Peter Brimelow “dedicated to preserving our historical unity as Americans into the 21st Century.” Brimelow says VDARE.com was an idea that “flowed out of the best-selling book I wrote back in 1995, Alien Nation,” an anti-immigrant book about Brimelow’s perspective on how the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 changed the United States. According to a Nov. 2, 1995, memo by Tanton, he “encouraged Brimelow to write his book,” and “provided the necessary research funds to get it done.” On July 17, 2019, Brimelow tweeted, “Very sad to hear of John Tanton’s passing – great immigration patriot. ‘Truly a citizen who has taken up arms for his country,’ in Robert E. Lee’s phrase.” He linked to a VDARE article about Tanton’s legacy.

 

NumbersUSA is the grassroots organizer of the anti-immigrant movement. The group sends action alerts urging its followers to contact their representatives in support of anti-immigrant legislation. Roy Beck, the executive director of the organization, has tried to distance the group and himself from Tanton and his legacy. However, in a memo, Tanton wrote Beck asking him to sign on as his “ heir apparent” in the case of his death and thanked him the next day, Jan. 6, 1998, for doing so.

 

Beck was also a longtime editor for Tanton’s The Social Contract Press (TSCP), a white nationalist group that publishes articles written by white nationalists. In 1994, while Beck was still an employee, TSCP published an English translation of the openly racist French book, The Camp of the Saints. Tanton wrote that he was “honored” to republish the novel.

 

Tanton was critical to securing initial funding for a number of these organizations, including by introducing leaders of FAIR to the Pioneer Fund. The Pioneer Fund’s original mandate was to pursue “race betterment” by promoting the genetic stock of those “deemed to be descended predominantly from white persons who settled in the original thirteen states prior to the adoption of the Constitution.” Tanton himself said in 1993, “I’ve come to the point of view that for European-American society and culture to persist requires a European-American majority, and a clear one at that.”

 

These groups still are able to thrive thanks to grantmakers including the Colcom Foundation and the Sarah Scaife Foundation. Political Research Associates published a report this year detailing more than $100 million being given to FAIR, CIS and NumbersUSA alone from 2006 – 2016. Other groups within this network, including Californians for Population Stabilization and Immigration Reform Law Institute, FAIR’s legal arm, boast more than $7 million each during this same period.

 

Tanton’s legacy is difficult to overstate. Other groups within the network also are experiencing mainstream success. ProEnglish, an anti-immigrant hate group that lobbies for English only legislation and policies across the country, met with Trump and aides to Vice President Mike Pence multiple times in 2018 and as recently as July 11 of this year. Executive director Stephen Guschov recounted the last meeting in a blog post. He said it was about, “official English legislation and to continue to advocate for President Trump to sign a new Executive Order to effectively repeal and replace former President Clinton’s onerous Executive Order 13166 that requires foreign language translations and interpretations for all federally funded agencies and contractors.” ProEnglish’s former executive director is Robert “Bob” Vandervoort, who is also the former head of the white nationalist group Chicagoland Friends of American Renaissance. That group is a satellite for white nationalist hate group American Renaissance.

 

Tanton’s influence is seen in state legislatures, and especially at the federal level, where his mentees and allies have imbibed his material, enacted his policies, and sold a rehabbed version of Tanton, critically leaving out his explicitly racist views.

 

On July 17, FAIR president Dan Stein published a press release, calling Tanton “a selfless giver of his time and talents in the interests of a better tomorrow.” He added, “For John, the big reward was to see a number of the organizations he helped conceive grow into tall oaks – guiding and shaping the public discourse in history-changing ways.”

 

Leaders of groups within Tanton’s network regularly obfuscate Tanton’s racist views or their connections to Tanton himself. In a spring 2018 edition of The Social Contract Press, Tanton wrote a blog directly attempting to do the same with NumbersUSA and CIS. He wrote:

 

NumbersUSA, an organization I helped start, but on whose board I do not serve, has also made stellar contributions to the immigration reform debate. I also helped raise a grant in 1985 for the Center for Immigration Studies, but I have played no role in the Center’s growth or development.

 

In September 1986, a year after CIS was founded as a project of FAIR, it became independent, but the relationship with Tanton was far from over. The same year, Tanton wrote a memo discussing the need to get CIS properly functioning: “We need to get CIS fully funded and entrenched as a major Washington think-tank, one that can venture into issues, which FAIR is not yet ready to raise.” Eight years later, in 1994, Tanton wrote that he still was setting “the proper roles for FAIR and CIS.”

 

Jared Taylor, the white nationalist who created American Renaissance, was a close friend of Tanton.

 

During the latest episode of Taylor’s podcast, “Radio Renaissance,” he mourned Tanton’s death, praising him as a man who “became very concerned about the demographic future of the United States.” His pseudonymous cohost, Paul Kersey, hailed Tanton’s legacy through the groups he founded that ensured “these ideas would flourish.” Taylor added: “Everything I know about immigration I learned from CIS.”

 

For more articles about immigration, populist policies, population growth and white nationalism click through.

Using Government Debt in COVID-19 Crisis

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After decades of neo-liberalism, especially the Anglo world, with demands to cut budgets, taxes and government services due to supposed unaffordable and unsustainable government debt, the truth is otherwise. Australia has relatively low government debt of little over 40% of GDP while household debt has become high and possibly unsustainable at more than 120%.

 

However, with the COVID-19 crisis and historically low interest rates, Australia is an excellent position to use debt attractive globally, in supporting the economy, not unlike the GFC period Labor government’s Keynesian money drop which allowed Australia to be less affected than most economies and not going into recession.

 

Following is an excellent article summarising the benefits and countering the supposed negatives of using debt in challenging times.

 

From Inside Story:

 

Before anyone asks: no, Australia does not have a debt problem

 

ADAM TRIGGS

 

30 MARCH 2020

 

And that means government spending is overwhelmingly beneficial in these crisis conditions.

 

Much is uncertain about the Covid-19 crisis, but two things are clear: government debt is about to become much bigger, and there’ll be no shortage of commentators who will say that’s a problem.

 

G20 governments have collectively announced more than $5 trillion in fiscal stimulus, with more to come. The Australian government’s measures, including yesterday’s $130 billion spending package, are broadly in line with other countries. So should we be worried about the consequent growth in government debt?

 

The answer is a clear and resounding no. Whether this new debt is justified depends on the benefit of the increased spending versus the cost of that spending and, in the current environment, the benefit is substantial while the costs are minimal.

 

Fiscal stimulus will avoid the current crisis turning into an economic catastrophe, a fact that appears to be well understood by the public. The lesson from the Great Depression is that my spending is your income, and your spending is my income. If we all stop spending at our local restaurants, the owners and workers in those restaurants lose their income. They spend less in other businesses, which lose their income too, producing a vicious downward spiral that ends in economic collapse. The solution is for the government and Reserve Bank to step in and substantially increase spending and support businesses to fill the gap until the private sector recovers.

 

Failing to expand government significantly would have catastrophic long-term consequences: huge increases in the number of unemployed people (many of whom will never work again), the destruction of thousands of healthy businesses (many of which will never recover), and the permanent destruction of income, wealth and the earning potential of our young people, to say nothing of increased suicides, increased mortality among the very young and very old, increased domestic violence, increased attacks on minority groups, the rise of political extremes and the increased probability of war. The benefits of increased spending are simply enormous.

 

Conversely, the costs of increased government spending are very low. These costs typically come in three forms.

 

The first is the potential for increased government spending to “crowd out” the private sector. When governments run budget deficits they are borrowing money from investors, money which is no longer going to other worthy investments. Increased demand on the limited pool of savings, in normal times, means higher interest rates (which make it more expensive for businesses to invest and households to borrow) and an appreciated exchange rate (making our exports more expensive than those from other countries). The increased government spending stimulates inflation, meaning higher prices for all of us. In normal times, then, increased government spending can hurt businesses, households and individuals.

 

But these are not normal times. Even before Covid-19 the world was awash with savings, which is why interest rates and inflation were so low. The current crisis means even more savings, even less demand for those savings and even lower interest rates and inflation, and an exchange rate that’s less responsive to increased government spending. Put simply, the costs of increased government spending in normal times do not apply.

 

The second potential cost of increased government spending is the future cost of paying interest on that debt. This is minimal in the current environment. The interest rate the Australian government pays on new debt is at its lowest level in history — just 0.8 per cent for money borrowed for ten years. Households and businesses can only dream of being able to borrow that cheaply. This is why it makes perfect sense for the burden of stimulating the economy to be placed on the government since it can borrow so much more easily and cheaply than households or businesses. This is also why it makes no sense to be asking households to access their superannuation (especially given they are already losing their jobs, taking wage cuts and watching their super balances plummet) or asking small businesses to take out loans (whether profit-contingent or otherwise). Stimulus should come from the lowest-cost supplier, and that’s the government.

 

Some might worry whether this increase in debt would mean higher taxes in the future, but there is no reason this needs to be the case. The reason a $10 million debt is a bigger problem for me than it is for Gina Rinehart is the same reason economists look at debt as a percentage of GDP — the denominator matters. The best strategy for reducing debt is to generate economic growth. The maths is simple. If the Australian economy resumes its long-run average growth rate after the current crisis, any increase in debt as a percentage of GDP will halve within twenty years. People would need to start having kids very early in life for this to become an intergenerational debt burden.

 

The third cost of increased government spending is that it can be unsustainable (meaning it can cause problems if that level of spending continues) or can destabilise financial markets. The sustainability of Australia’s current increase in spending is not a concern because it is temporary and doesn’t change the long-run growth rate of debt. Financial stability is not a concern given Australia’s debt is seen as a safe-haven by financial markets: this is why investors are willing to accept pathetically low interest rates for the honour of being able to finance our debt. Even if private investors stopped financing the government’s debt, or charged prohibitively high interest rates to do so, the Reserve Bank would take over that debt, safe in the knowledge that inflation is non-existent and the debt is denominated in our own currency.

 

All of this means that Australia won’t come out of this crisis with a debt problem. The International Monetary Fund ranks Australia’s fiscal position as being in the highest category possible, meaning there is ample room to substantially increase spending. The Australian government could increase debt by three-quarters of a trillion dollars — far more than anyone is suggesting — and still have less debt as a percentage of our economy than the average among its G20 peers.

 

Sadly, this will not prevent a flood of commentators and politicians in the coming months warning of an impending debt crisis in Australia. As soon as the health crisis shows the faintest sign of abating, or perhaps even before then, the government will face tremendous political pressure to cut spending and pay down debt. It is no doubt already facing calls to limit stimulus out of fears of future debt. To protect the living standards of Australians, it must withstand this deeply misguided advice.’

 

For more articles about Australian politics, populist politics, economics and government budgets click through.

Anglo Radical Right Libertarianism and Economics

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The Anglo world especially including the US, UK and Australia, and elsewhere, have been subjected to neo classical economics, monetarist etc. theories exemplified by demands for small government, low taxation, cuts to state services, low regulation etc., with unwitting support from conservative and other voters.

 

Nancy MacLean in ‘Democracy in Chains’ stumbled across odd bedfellows and links to discover this movement promoting nineteenth century economic ideology and eugenics.

 

Radical Right Libertarians – MacLean

Misinforming the Majority: A Deliberate Strategy of Right-Wing Libertarians
BY
Mark Karlin, Truthout
PUBLISHED
July 9, 2017

When and how were the seeds sown for the modern far-right’s takeover of American politics? Nancy MacLean reveals the deep and troubling roots of this secretive political establishment — and its decades-long plan to change the rules of democratic governance — in her new book, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America. Get your copy by making a donation to Truthout now!

 

Many individuals who follow politics and journalists think that the right-wing playbook began with the Koch brothers. However, in her groundbreaking book, Nancy MacLean traces their political strategy to a Southern economist who created the foundation for today’s libertarian oligarchy in the 1950s.

 

Mark Karlin: Can you summarize the importance of James McGill Buchanan to the development of the modern extreme right wing in the United States?

 

Nancy MacLean: The modern extreme right wing I’m talking about, just to be clear, is the libertarian movement that now sails under the Republican flag, particularly but not only the Freedom Caucus, yet goes back to the 1950s in both parties. President Eisenhower called them “stupid” and fashioned his approach — calling it modern Republicanism — as an antidote to them. Goldwater was their first presidential candidate. He bombed. Reagan, they believed, was going to enact their agenda. He didn’t. But beginning in the early 2000s, they became a force to be reckoned with. What had changed? The discovery by their chief funder, Charles Koch, of the approach developed by James McGill Buchanan for how to take apart the liberal state.

 

Buchanan studied economics at the University of Chicago and belonged to the same milieu as F.A. Hayek, Milton Friedman and Ludwig von Mises, but he used his training to analyze public life. And he supplied what no one else had: an operational strategy to vanquish the model of government they had been criticizing for decades — and prevent it from being recreated. It was Buchanan who taught Koch that for capitalism to thrive, democracy must be enchained.

 

Buchanan was a very smart man, the only winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics from the US South, in fact. But his life’s work was forever shaped by the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision. He arrived in Virginia in 1956, just as the state’s leaders were goading the white South to fight the court’s ruling, a ruling he saw not through the lens of equal protection of the law for all citizens but rather as another wave in a rising tide of unwarranted and illegitimate federal interference in the affairs of the states that began with the New Deal. For him what was at stake was the sanctity of private property rights, with northern liberals telling southern owners how to spend their money and behave correctly. Given an institute to run on the campus of the University of Virginia, he promised to devote his academic career to understanding how the other side became so powerful and, ultimately, to figuring out an effective line of attack to break down what they had created and return to what he and the Virginia elite viewed as appropriate for America. In a nutshell, he studied the workings of the political process to figure out what was needed to deny ordinary people — white and Black — the ability to make claims on government at the expense of private property rights and the wishes of capitalists. And then he identified how to rejigger that political process not only to reverse the gains but also to prevent the system from ever reverting back.

 

Why, until your book, has his importance to the right wing been largely overlooked?

 

There are a few reasons Buchanan has been overlooked. One is that the Koch cause does not advertise his work, preferring to tout the sunnier primers of Hayek, Friedman and even Ayn Rand when recruiting. Buchanan is the advanced course, as it were, for the already committed. Another is that Buchanan did not seek the limelight like Friedman, so few on the left have even heard of him. I myself learned of him only by serendipity, in a footnote about the Virginia schools fight.

 

How would you draw a line connecting Buchanan to the Koch brothers?

 

Charles Koch supplied the money, but it was James Buchanan who supplied the ideas that made the money effective. An MIT-trained engineer, Koch in the 1960s began to read political-economic theory based on the notion that free-reign capitalism (what others might call Dickensian capitalism) would justly reward the smart and hardworking and rightly punish those who failed to take responsibility for themselves or had lesser ability. He believed then and believes now that the market is the wisest and fairest form of governance, and one that, after a bitter era of adjustment, will produce untold prosperity, even peace. But after several failures, Koch came to realize that if the majority of Americans ever truly understood the full implications of his vision of the good society and were let in on what was in store for them, they would never support it. Indeed, they would actively oppose it.

 

So, Koch went in search of an operational strategy — what he has called a “technology” — of revolution that could get around this hurdle. He hunted for 30 years until he found that technology in Buchanan’s thought. From Buchanan, Koch learned that for the agenda to succeed, it had to be put in place in incremental steps, what Koch calls “interrelated plays”: many distinct yet mutually reinforcing changes of the rules that govern our nation. Koch’s team used Buchanan’s ideas to devise a roadmap for a radical transformation that could be carried out largely below the radar of the people, yet legally. The plan was (and is) to act on so many ostensibly separate fronts at once that those outside the cause would not realize the revolution underway until it was too late to undo it. Examples include laws to destroy unions without saying that is the true purpose, suppressing the votes of those most likely to support active government, using privatization to alter power relations — and, to lock it all in, Buchanan’s ultimate recommendation: a “constitutional revolution.”

 

Today, operatives funded by the Koch donor network operate through dozens upon dozens of organizations (hundreds, if you count the state and international groups), creating the impression that they are unconnected when they are really working together — the state ones are forced to share materials as a condition of their grants. For example, here are the names of 15 of the most important Koch-funded, Buchanan-savvy organizations each with its own assignment in the division of labor: There’s Americans for Prosperity, the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the American Legislative Exchange Council, the Mercatus Center, Americans for Tax Reform, Concerned Veterans of America, the Leadership Institute, Generation Opportunity, the Institute for Justice, the Independent Institute, the Club for Growth, the Donors Trust, Freedom Partners, Judicial Watch — whoops, that’s more than 15, and it’s not counting the over 60 other organizations in the State Policy Network. This cause operates through so many ostensibly separate organizations that its architects expect the rest of us will ignore all the small but extremely significant changes that cumulatively add up to revolutionary transformation. Gesturing to this, Tyler Cowen, Buchanan’s successor at George Mason University, even titled his blog “Marginal Revolution.”

 

In what way was Buchanan connected to white oligarchical racism?

 

Buchanan came up with his approach in the crucible of the civil rights era, as the most oligarchic state elite in the South faced the loss of its accustomed power. Interestingly, he almost never wrote explicitly about racial matters, but he did identify as a proud southern “country boy” and his center gave aid to Virginia’s reactionaries on both class and race matters. His heirs at George Mason University, his last home, have noted that Buchanan’s political economy is quite like that of John C. Calhoun, the antebellum South Carolina US Senator who, until Buchanan, was America’s most original theorist of how to constrict democracy so as to safeguard the wealth and power of an elite economic minority (in Calhoun’s case, large slaveholders). Buchanan arrived in Virginia just as Calhoun’s ideas were being excavated to stop the implementation of Brown, so the kinship was more than a coincidence. His vision of the right economic constitution owes much to Calhoun, whose ideas horrified James Madison, among others……

 

…..Having said that, though, I also believe that panic is the last thing we need. There is great strength to be found in the simple truth that Buchanan and Koch came up with the kind of strategy now in play precisely because they knew that the majority, if fully informed, would never support what they seek. So, the best thing that those who support a robust, non-plutocratic society can do is focus on patiently informing and activating that majority. And reminding all Americans that democracy is not something you can just assume will survive: It has to be fought for time and again. This is one of those moments.’

 

For more blogs and articles about economics, populist politics and white nationalism click through.

Borders Nationalism and Pandemics

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The Anglo world including Australia, US, UK, parts of Europe and developing world there have been xenophobic and nationalist obsessions coursing through political and media elites as not just a political strategy but as deep seated nativist ideology.

The COVID-19 pandemic was originally viewed as an Asian or Chinese problem but has now spread and managed to show how unprepared many western nations have been.

From John Quiggin in Inside Story:

Border deflection

 

The pandemic shows up the weaknesses of nationalism
Supporters of ethnonationalist and anti-immigrant sentiment have been quick to seize on the Covid-19 pandemic as evidence against what they call “open borders,” by which they mean any relaxation of the stringent controls that prohibit international migration by anyone who falls outside a tightly defined set of categories, each subject to numerical limits. The underlying idea is that foreigners who don’t look or think like us are all potential carriers of infection, and that we can keep ourselves safe by excluding them.
The reality is quite different. The vast majority of Australia Covid-19 cases acquired overseas had a recent history of travel to Europe or the Americas, or arrived on cruise ships such as the Ruby Princess. Hardly any (in fact none, as far as I can determine) were new migrants to Australia.

 

It could scarcely be otherwise. Australia (or at least some Australians) welcomed 162,000 migrants in 2019. The same year saw forty-two million passenger arrivals. On average, a Boeing 787 landing in Australia with a full load of 300 passengers contains just one permanent migrant.

 

This is the contradiction within the thinking of immigration restrictionists. While many like to cast themselves as “left behind” “stayers” — in contrast to “rootless cosmopolitans” — lots of them enjoy international travel. This was strikingly illustrated by the Brexiteers’ attachment to the traditional blue-covered British passports — hardly something that would matter to anyone content to stay in their home country.
More generally, the push to reduce international migration has been matched by all-out efforts to promote tourism. Scott Morrison embodies these contradictions. As managing director of Tourism Australia he famously asked, “Where they bloody hell are you?”, inviting the entire world to enjoy our beaches and charming cities; as prime minister, he cut the immigration intake by 30,000 (about one day’s worth of passenger arrivals) declaring “enough, enough, enough… The roads are clogged, the buses and trains are full.” Tourists, of course — who are by definition engaged in travel — use our roads and public transports at least as much as permanent migrants.
It’s not only migration that ethnonationalists have in their sights, but also any kind of international cooperation (unless it involves waging war). Greg Sheridan, foreign editor of the Australian and admirer of Hungary, Poland and other anti-democratic regimes, says that “coronavirus is the hunter-killer enemy of globalisation”…..’

 

Many conservative governments’ white nationalist and ‘great replacement theory’ narratives and arguments, promoted too easily by like minded media, have been wrong footed or contradicted, to the point of appearing incompetent and bigoted.
For more articles and blogs on immigration, white nationalism and related populist politics click through.

 

Fighting Fake News in Finland via Schools

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We have witnessed years now of conventional and now digital media being manipulated to confuse, misinform and mislead the public of all ages round science of climate change or global warming, politics and campaigns, immigrants and population growth, vaccinations, natural disasters, religion and minorities etc.

Like some states in Australia used to teach critical thinking to high school students in the 1970s, since been ’embedded’ and/or disappeared, Finland has taken the lead in developing skills at primary school age dealing with Russia especially, and global warming denialism.

From The Guardian:

‘How Finland starts its fight against fake news in primary schools

Country on frontline of information war teaches everyone from school pupils to politicians how to spot slippery information

You can start when children are very young, said Kari Kivinen. In fact, you should: “Fairytales work well. Take the wily fox who always cheats the other animals with his sly words. That’s not a bad metaphor for a certain kind of politician, is it?”

With democracies around the world threatened by the seemingly unstoppable onslaught of false information, Finland – recently rated Europe’s most resistant nation to fake news – takes the fight seriously enough to teach it in primary school.

In secondary schools, such as the state-run college in Helsinki where Kivinen is head teacher, multi-platform information literacy and strong critical thinking have become a core, cross-subject component of a national curriculum that was introduced in 2016.

In maths lessons, Kivinen’s pupils learn how easy it is to lie with statistics. In art, they see how an image’s meaning can be manipulated. In history, they analyse notable propaganda campaigns, while Finnish language teachers work with them on the many ways in which words can be used to confuse, mislead and deceive.

“The goal is active, responsible citizens and voters,” Kivinen said. “Thinking critically, factchecking, interpreting and evaluating all the information you receive, wherever it appears, is crucial. We’ve made it a core part of what we teach, across all subjects.”

The curriculum is part of a unique, broad strategy devised by the Finnish government after 2014, when the country was first targeted with fake news stories by its Russian neighbour, and the government realised it had moved into the post-fact age.

Successful enough for Finland to top, by some margin, an annual index measuring resistance to fake news in 35 European countries, the programme aims to ensure that everyone, from pupil to politician, can detect – and do their bit to fight – false information.

“This affects all of us,” said Jussi Toivanen, chief communications officer for the prime minister’s office. “It targets the whole of Finnish society. It aims to erode our values and norms, the trust in our institutions that hold society together.”

Finland, which declared independence from Russia in 1917, is on the frontline of an online information war that has accelerated markedly since Moscow annexed Crimea and backed rebels in eastern Ukraine five years ago, Toivanen said.

Most campaigns, amplified by sympathetic far-right, nation-first and “alternative” Finnish news sites and social media accounts, focus on attacking the EU, highlighting immigration issues and trying to influence debate over Finland’s full Nato membership.

Resistance is seen almost as a civil defence question, a key component in Finland’s comprehensive security policy. Toivanen said: “We are a small country, without many resources, and we rely on everyone contributing to the collective defence of society.”

The programme, piloted by a 30-member, high-level committee representing 20 different bodies from government ministries to welfare organisations and the police, intelligence and security services, has trained thousands of civil servants, journalists, teachers and librarians over the past three years.

“It’s a broad-based, coordinated effort to raise awareness,” said Saara Jantunen, a senior researcher from the defence ministry who has been seconded to the prime minister’s office. “Like virus protection on your computer: the government’s responsible for a certain amount, of course, but ultimately it’s up to the individual to install the software.”…

…..He wants his pupils to ask questions such as: who produced this information, and why? Where was it published? What does it really say? Who is it aimed at? What is it based on? Is there evidence for it, or is this just someone’s opinion? Is it verifiable elsewhere?

On the evidence of half a dozen pupils gathered in a classroom before lunchtime, it is an approach that is paying off. “You must always factcheck. The number one rule: no Wikipedia, and always three or four different and reliable sources,” said Mathilda, 18. “We learn that basically in every subject.”….

…..Part of that continuing education is also provided by NGOs. Besides operating an effective factchecking service, Faktabaari (Fact Bar), launched for the 2014 European elections and run by a volunteer staff of journalists and researchers, produces popular voter literacy kits for schools and the wider public.

“Essentially, we aim to give people their own tools,” said its founder, Mikko Salo, a member of the EU’s independent high-level expert group on fake news. “It’s about trying to vaccinate against problems, rather than telling people what’s right and wrong. That can easily lead to polarisation.”

In the run-up to Finland’s parliamentary elections last April, the government went so far as to produce an advertising campaign alerting voters to the possibility of fake news, with the slogan “Finland has the best elections in the world. Think about why”.

Similarly, Mediametka has been developing and working with media literacy tools since the more innocent days of the early 1950s, when its founders were motivated mainly by fear of the irreparable damage that comic books might do to the minds of Finnish children.

These days, the NGO, part-funded by the culture ministry, organises ed-tech hackathons with inventive Finnish startups in a bid to develop “meaningful materials” for schools and youth groups, said its executive director, Meri Seistola.

“We work with pictures, videos, text, digital content; get our students to produce their own; ask them to identify all the various kinds of misleading news,” said Seistola: from propaganda to clickbait, satire to conspiracy theory, pseudoscience to partisan reporting; from stories describing events that simply never happened to unintentional errors of fact.

Finland has something of a head start on information literacy, ranking consistently at or near the top of international indices for press freedom, transparency, education and social justice. Its school pupils have the EU’s highest PISA score for reading.

“The level of trust in national institutions, in the media, in society as a whole, does tend to be higher in the Nordic countries than in many others,” said Faktabaari’s Salo. “But that means we really need even greater vigilance now, to prepare ourselves for the next phase. Because we have more to lose.”’

 

For more articles and blogs about younger generations, critical thinking, climate change and curriculum click through.

 

Global Warming – Climate Change – Eco-Fascism

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With the science of climate change and global warming under attack as Australia experiences bushfires not seen before in scope and intensity, there are now clear links between white nationalism and niche environmentalism, or ‘eco-fascism’.  According to many this has included long term support from fossil fuels oligarchs’ foundations in promoting eugenics and anti-immigrant sentiment as an ecological solution.

Parts of the environmental movement are linked to white nationalists and eugenics.

Fossil Fuels and Eco-Fascism (Image copyright Pexels)

Jeff Sparrow in The Guardian Australia presents a summary of his recent book Fascists Among Us: Online Hate and the Christchurch Massacre below:

 

‘Eco-fascists and the ugly fight for ‘our way of life’ as the environment disintegrates

Genuine fascists remain on the political margins, but we can increasingly imagine the space that eco-fascism might occupy.

Earlier this year, when the fascist responsible for the El Paso massacre cited ecological degradation as part motivation for his killing spree, many considered him entirely deranged.

Eco-fascism sounds oxymoronic, a mashup of irreconcilable philosophies.

Yet, while eco-fascists violently oppose contemporary environmentalists, they often appropriate ideas from the past of the environmental movement.

In the United States, the first conservationists – men like Teddy Roosevelt – were wealthy big-game hunters trying to preserve creatures they liked to shoot.

These elite enthusiasts for “the manly sport with the rifle” blamed impoverished arrivals from eastern and central Europe for “pot hunting” – that is, for killing game for food or money rather than for fun. But they also saw immigrants as polluting America’s racial stock, making an explicit parallel between “lesser races” and the invasive species threatening native animals and plants.

On that basis, Julia Scott from the Daughters of the American Revolution could speak at the National Conservation Congress of 1910, urging attendees not only to protect flora and fauna but to conserve “the supremacy of the Caucasian race in our land”.

You can get a sense of the centrality of eugenic theory to the early movement from the career of Madison Grant, the most important environmentalist of his generation.

We can thank Grant for saving the American bison, the bald eagle, the pronghorn antelope, the Alaskan bear and the fur seal, as well as, according to his biographer, contributing to the preservation of elephants, gorillas, koalas and many other charismatic species.

But Grant also campaigned for the racist Emergency Quota Act of 1921 and the Immigration Restriction Act of 1924, and wrote the bestselling The Passing of the Great Race, or The Racial Basis of European History, an impassioned defence of white supremacy that Hitler described as his personal “bible”.

The book’s popularity in Germany was not coincidental. Grant, like many of his colleagues, derived his environmentalism from a conservative Romanticism, the philosophical source for Nazi concepts about the importance of Lebensraum (living room) and Blut und Boden (blood and soil).

Modern eco-fascists still draw on the same Romantic contrast between the sublime hierarchies of nature and the supposedly effete degeneracy of modernity.

They also exploit the legacy of a tendency influential in environmental circles in much more recent times.

In 1968, Paul Ehrlich published a book called The Population Bomb, in which he argued that ecological destruction – and, indeed, almost all social problems – could be attributed to overpopulation.

As the historian Thomas Robertson notes, few signs of a mass environmental movement existed when The Population Bomb first appeared. Yet, “by the spring of 1970, Americans could hardly pick up a magazine or a newspaper without seeing mention of ecology and the environment”. That year, the first Earth Day attracted an astonishing 20 million people to environmental teach-ins, a result attributable at least in part to Ehrlich.

Today, his influence – and that of population theory more generally – has waned considerably, not least because the rate of world population growth has slowed substantially while his predictions of ever-worsening famines in the 1970s proved spectacularly wrong.

But progressive environmentalists also recognised the succour populationism provided to the extreme right.

The attribution of ecological destruction to demographic growth obscures the social relations through which, for instance, a mere 20 fossil fuel companies can be linked to more than one-third of greenhouse gas emissions in the modern era.

Worse still, arguments that (in theory) blame all people often (in practice) target particular people: usually the poor and the oppressed.

The Population Bomb itself opened with Ehrlich describing how he’d understood the case for population control “emotionally” during a visit to Delhi where, he said, the streets “seemed alive with people” and the “dust, noise, heat and cooking fires gave the scene a hellish aspect”. At the time, Delhi housed some 2.8 million while the population of Paris stood at about eight million – and yet it would be difficult to imagine Ehrlich reacting with equivalent disgust to crowds on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées.

Other populationists came to oppose not just fertility but also immigration, on the basis that, if the teeming masses from poor nations moved to the rich world, they’d adopt a western resource-heavy lifestyle. As a result, as academics Sebastian Normandin and Sean A Valles argue, America’s modern anti-immigrant movement “was built and led by – and in some cases is still led by – a network of conservationists and population control activists”.

The vast majority of greens now disavow the environmental populationist John Tanton, who, according to Susan A Berger, constructed many of the anti-Mexican organisations relied upon by Donald Trump as he electioneered for his border wall during the 2016 poll.

Yet the argument that ordinary people, rather than social structures, should be blamed for climate change still circulates – and invariably pushes in rightwing directions.

Think of the El Paso shooter and the document in which he justified his racial massacre.

“If we can get rid of enough people,” he wrote, “then our way of life can become more sustainable.”

The glibness with which he advocates environmental murder marks the El Paso perpetrator as distinctly fascist.

Fortunately, genuine fascists remain on the political margins in the English-speaking world. Nevertheless, we can increasingly imagine the space that eco-fascism might occupy. When asylum seekers fleeing floods and famines arrive on Australian shores in their millions, how will politicians respond?

Unless there’s a radical shift in the political culture, they will, presumably, rely upon the strategies perfected during decades of bipartisan anti-refugee campaigning, deploying the familiar arsenal of boat turnbacks, naval patrols and offshore detention, albeit on a much, much larger scale.

In other words, they’ll embrace an approach already advocated by European racist populists like Marine Le Pen’s National Rally, who posits massively intensified border policing as a “realistic” response to the inevitability of the environmental disaster.

Just as the stop-the-boats campaigners of recent decades depict refugee advocates as indifferent to drownings at sea, the supporters of “green” border policing will denounce climate activists for sabotaging “practical” responses to climate change with their utopianism.

It’s not difficult to imagine “eco-authoritarianism” or what Naomi Klein calls “climate barbarism”: a politics centred on the state making “our way of life” sustainable as the environment disintegrates. Future governments committed to this project will be able to draw upon the vast array of coercive powers they’ve acquired over the past decades: draconian anti-protest laws; secret trials and imprisonment; the deployment of the army to quell civil disturbances; and so on.

Eco-fascism represents a related but distinctive tendency. It will emerge not through the state but as a political movement, with people like the El Paso perpetrator violently defending climate privilege against immigrants, environmentalists and progressives.

We’re nowhere near that point yet. But it’s a lot less unimaginable than it should be.

Jeff Sparrow’s new book, Fascists Among Us: Online Hate and the Christchurch Massacre, is out now through Scribe.’

 

For more blogs and articles about white nationalism, environment and population growth click through.

Tactics Against Bipartisan Climate Change Policy in Australia – Limits to Growth?

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A recent ABC article ‘The day that plunged Australia’s climate change policy into 10 years of inertia‘, endeavoured to describe how climate change consensus was broken by former Liberal MP Andrew Robb who claimed he had followed the ‘Limits to Growth’ (LTG) theory via the Club of Rome but changed his mind, hence withdrew support on bipartisan support on carbon emission measures (?).

And so it was that Andrew Robb made one of the most extraordinary and — by most conventional measures — indefensible tactical decisions in the history of political chicanery.

Also reported in climate science denial blog in the USA Watts Up With That with post titled ‘How “The Limits to Growth” Broke Australia’s Bipartisan Carbon Tax’, as did Catallaxy Files in ‘Australia Follow the climate money and the time when Tony beat Malcolm by one vote’ which also promotes climate science denialism.

In fact the LTG theory, ‘a riddle wrapped up in an enigma’, is irrelevant to climate change as it was developed as a PR construct of liberal and environment ideas or theory then (misre)presented publicly as grounded and tested empirical science to confuse debates, then both opponents and protagonists.

The pseudo-science of LTG was developed and presented via the Club of Rome and applied by some of the participants and collaborators including Herman Daly’s ‘Steady-state economy’ (autarkist economy), Paul Ehrlich’s ‘population bomb’ and his Zero Population Growth (ZPG) colleague John ‘passive eugenics’ Tanton to support immigration restrictions for non-Europeans.

Interesting was that the Club of Rome was hosted on the Rockefeller (Standard Oil/Exxon) estate and sponsored by Fiat and VW, while ZPG had support from Rockefeller Brothers, Ford and Carnegie Foundations; strong whiff of fossil fuels, global corporates/oligarchs and eugenics.

LTG helped encourage a pincer movement of seemingly unrelated ideas or constraints which in fact protect the corporate and personal interests of such global players.  Daly’s autarkist Steady-state theory stresses nation states, avoidance of trade agreements (and environmental regulations) etc. while allowing long standing global corporates (with existing footprints) to operate without commercial, competitive or regulatory constraint (James Buchanan’s radical right libertarianism for all, i.e. ‘Public Choice Theory‘, except when there is state support for global corporates).

From University of Sussex on Limits to Growth or ‘Models of Doom‘:

‘An interdisciplinary team at Sussex University’s Science Policy Research Unit reviewed the structure and assumptions of the models used and published its finding in Models of Doom; showing that the forecasts of the world’s future are very sensitive to a few unduly pessimistic key assumptions. The Sussex scientists also claim that the Meadows et al. methods, data, and predictions are faulty, that their world models (and their Malthusian bias) do not accurately reflect reality.’

How could they promote not just junk science but inequitable libertarian economics to the masses for the benefit of the few and have ‘Turkeys vote for Christmas’?

Brexit is a good example, Trump also and Australia since Tampa refugee incident, i.e. dog whistling immigration, population growth, and white nationalism, then encourages borders, withdrawal from trade agreements and insular view of the world, while allowing global corporates to fly under the radar and conservative political parties to gain votes (especially amongst the upper median age cohort) to implement the right policies (or not at all).

 

The day that plunged Australia’s climate policy into 10 years of inertia

BY ANNABEL CRABBUPDATED SUN AT 1:28PM

Ten years ago Andrew Robb arrived at Parliament House intent upon an act of treachery.

No-one was expecting him. Robb was formally on leave from the Parliament undergoing treatment for his severe depression.

But the plan the Liberal MP nursed to himself that morning would not only bring about the political demise of his leader, Malcolm Turnbull, but blow apart Australia’s two great parties irrevocably just as they teetered toward consensus on climate change, the most divisive issue of the Australian political century.

They have never again been so close.

A decade later, according to the ABC’s Australia Talks National Survey, climate change is a matter of urgent community concern. Eighty-four per cent of respondents said that climate change was real and that action was warranted. When offered a range of 19 issues and asked which were of gravest personal concern, climate change ranked at number one.

As bushfires ravage the landscape and drought once again strangles vast tracts of the continent, the inability of the Australian Parliament to reach agreement on how to answer the threat of climate change — or even discuss it rationally — may well be one of the drivers of another shrieking headline from the Australia Talks research: 84 per cent of respondents also feel that Australian politicians are out of touch with the views of the people they represent.

This is the story — told on its 10th birthday — of a political event that changed the course of a nation’s history.

How bipartisan policy fell apart

Robb was on sick leave from his job as shadow minister for climate, managing the notoriously difficult transition from one anti-depressant medication to another.

In his absence, acting shadow minister for climate Ian Macfarlane had successfully negotiated, with the authority of Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull, a deal with the Rudd government to land the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, or CPRS.

An extraordinary tactic

And so it was that Andrew Robb made one of the most extraordinary and — by most conventional measures — indefensible tactical decisions in the history of political chicanery.

Parliament House is no stranger to mental illness. Historically, its sufferers have covered their tracks, loath to be seen as vulnerable.

But this must be the only recorded occasion on which mental illness has been used as a tactic.

Robb ripped himself a scrap of paper and scrawled a note to Turnbull.

“The side effects of the medication I am on now make me very tired. I’d be really grateful if you could get me to my feet soon,” he wrote.

Turnbull called Robb to speak soon after. He rose, and denounced the proposed scheme in forensic detail, his words carrying significant weight as the erstwhile bearer of the relevant portfolio.

The deal never recovered. The meeting went on for six more hours. Turnbull — a streetfighter when cornered — added the numbers of shadow Cabinet votes to the “yes” votes in the party room and declared that he had a majority.

Leadership contest

The party room wasn’t buying it. Turnbull was cooked.

One week and one day later — December 1, 2009 — a ballot was held for the leadership of the Liberal Party.

Tony Abbott — who nominated against both Turnbull and shadow treasurer Joe Hockey — won by a single vote.

The Abbott opposition was born, with its strident campaign against Labor’s “great big new tax on everything”.

The next day, the emissions trading scheme legislation went to a vote in the Parliament and was defeated soundly.

Both the Coalition and the Greens voted against.

The Rudd government relinquished its attempts to put a price on carbon. Rudd himself was overthrown mid-2010. Julia Gillard staked her political life on installing a carbon price, but lost it at the 2013 election in the face of Abbott’s muscular anti-carbon-tax campaign.

Abbott installed his “Direct Action” model which survives to this day, despite Turnbull’s subsequent prime ministership, during which he tried and failed to introduce the National Energy Guarantee, a legislative device aimed at establishing reliable supply and reduced emissions from the energy sector….

….’You can still see the scars’

For Kane Thornton, chief executive of the Clean Energy Council, the past 10 years are a tale of intense frustration.

“What happened back then has just so fundamentally shaped the direction and the context for climate and energy policy ever since,” he says…..

…..Visiting Sydney this week, the founder of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, British-born Michael Liebreich, was brutal in his assessment of Australia’s contemporary energy situation.

“It’s unbelievable how you can have a country with such cheap solar power, such cheap wind power, frankly such cheap natural gas and yet you still have expensive power and an unreliable grid,” he told ABC’s AM.

“I mean, how do you do that? It’s a government failure.”

Turnbull, in an interview published on Saturday by The Guardian, said the climate debate in Parliament was hostage to “insurgents” inside the Coalition.

“There are plenty of odd beliefs out there and conspiracy theories but what I have always struggled to understand is why climate denialism still has the currency that it has, particularly given the evidence of the impact of climate change is now so apparent, and it is particularly apparent to people living in regional and rural Australia,” he said.

“Precisely what has been forecast is happening.”…..

…..Robb admits that his was an extraordinary intervention in a sliding-doors juncture of Australian political history.

“I’ve seen so often in my career where something monumental gets down to one vote. Then when the vote’s taken, it sticks, and the world adjusts. It was the beginning of Tony — who won by one vote. Democracy’s an amazing thing, really. And it does show you that if you’ve got half of the votes or just over half or just under, that can reflect community attitudes too,” he says.

“This is not a fault of democracy, it’s a fact.”

He mentions that when he was a much younger man, he was “a great student” of the Club of Rome, an association of scientists, bureaucrats, politicians and public thinkers who in 1972 published the book Limits To Growth, warning that the world’s resources could not withstand the depredations of ceaseless economic growth indefinitely.

Limits To Growth is still the highest-selling environmental book in the history of the world, having sold 30 million copies in more than 30 languages.

But Robb’s early fascination with the work gave way to distrust of its conclusions and primitive computer modelling; he says its warnings of resource exhaustion and economic collapse towards the end of the 20th century were overstated.

“The thing they didn’t talk about was technology. That you could find gas 300 kilometres offshore, for example, and find a way to bring it onshore. Because of this, the Club of Rome — which was quite a reputable group of people — looked more and more ridiculous as the years rolled on.”

The Club of Rome has its critics and its defenders; Limits To Growth was commonly derided by the 1990s as a misguided Doomsday scenario, but has enjoyed something of a renaissance lately. The CSIRO published a paper in 2008 finding that the book’s 30-year modelling of consequences from a “business as usual” approach to economic growth was essentially sound.

But what’s not deniable is that this work influenced one young man who grew up to be one member of a parliamentary party with a singular role to play in one vote on a policy that would either change or not change the course of a country.

Democracy, he says, is an amazing thing.

Or an infuriating thing. Or mysterious. Or random.’

 

For more articles and blog posts about population growth, immigration and white nationalism click through.

 

Ageing Populations, Politics and Demographic Decline in the U.K.

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The England and the U.K., like much of the developed and now developing world has an ageing population, even more so electorally, which is having a significant impact upon democracy and the economy, at the expense of younger generations.

Not only are politicians catering to ageing and regional electorates, younger generations although ignored, are expected to support older generations through the tax system, but will not receive similar state benefits in future due to budget impairment.

From The Guardian:

Some parts of UK ageing twice as fast as others, new research finds

Study by thinktank Resolution Foundation warns divergence will have political and economic impacts

Parts of the UK are ageing twice as fast as other areas of the country, while in some cities the population is getting younger, a divergence that will have a lasting impact on local economies, local government and national politics, according to new research.

A study by the Resolution Foundation, an independent thinktank, found that the populations of Maldon in Essex, Copeland in Cumbria and Richmondshire in Yorkshire are ageing twice as fast as the rest of the UK, while Nottingham and Oxford are growing younger.

The report, entitled Ageing, fast and slow: When place and demography collide, said that while the UK population as a whole is ageing – one in four will be older than 65 by 2041 – there are widespread divergences in the pace and even the direction of ageing.

The UK’s average age has been rising steadily, from 36 in 1975 to 40 today, but there is a 25-year gap between the oldest and youngest local authorities: North Norfolk, where the average age is 54, and Oxford, where it is 29, reflecting its large universities, the Resolution Foundation said….

….Charlie McCurdy, researcher at the Resolution Foundation, said: “Everyone knows we’re getting older, but how and where this ageing is taking place is less well understood.

“Britain is growing apart as it ages because many rural and coastal communities are welcoming fewer babies each year, while migration within the UK and from abroad has seen younger people concentrating in urban areas that are already relatively young.”

Middle-income areas are ageing fastest, while the richest and poorest areas age the slowest, the research found. There are two key drivers: young people are leaving rural and coastal communities, which are already older on average than other locations, for urban areas, and low local birth rates are a key factor in ageing in older communities.

Poorer urban ethnically diverse areas are ageing more slowly because of high birth rates. The high birth rate in Barking & Dagenham – 19 births per 1,000 people, compared to 11 in the UK as a whole – has given it the highest proportion of under 18s in the country (30%).

The think tank says increasing divergence between old and young areas will have a lasting impact on local economies, local governments and national politics.

MPs are becoming increasingly reliant on the demographics of their constituencies, with older and younger seats becoming safer for the Conservatives and Labour respectively.

For local economies, the foundation says that policymakers should tailor their economic strategies to local demographics, including benefitting from the potential of young graduates, or the greater spending power of pensioners.’

For more articles and blogs about demography, population growth and economy click through.

 

Population Growth or Decline?

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Since the 1970s, and earlier with Malthus and eugenics movement, we have been presented with the threat of catastrophic population growth due to fertility rates in the less developed world, then due to ‘immigration‘ from the less developed world when in fact we are facing population decline from mid century; contrary to UN Population Division data which inflates future headline growth?

This ‘misunderstanding’ has been highlighted by science journalist Fred Pearce in ‘The Coming Population Crash: and Our Planet’s Surprising Future’; Hans Rosling in ‘Don’t panic the truth about population’; Prof. Wolfgang Lutz of Vienna’s IIASA and Sanjeev Sanyal demographer at Deutsche Bank.

Most belive the world is experiencing high population growth but research debunks this and finds we will be facing population decline.

Global Population Growth or Decline? (Image copyright Pexels.com)

‘Book review: ‘Empty Planet‘ explores the world’s next biggest population threat

Humanity is facing an imminent catastrophe, Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson assert in their new book

The central assertion Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson make in Empty Planet is one that readers of the daily news or regular government reports will find deeply counter intuitive. According to all that received wisdom, there is a worldwide population crisis, with humans reproducing at ever-increasing rates, rapidly eating up all the world’s resources and driving the engines of runaway climate change.

Stripped of modern trappings such as greenhouse gases and industrial meat farming, this is fairly close to the old vision of 18th-century scholar and theorist Thomas Malthus. He declared back in 1798 that in conditions of economic and cultural stability, the human population would continue to increase, even to the point where it chokes resources and overburdens the Earth itself.

Such a view has been the standard for centuries, and some of its proponents have made quite tidy sums writing books about the doom it foretells, most notably Paul Ehrlich. His 1968 bestseller The Population Bomb warned of imminent, widespread famines as the result of human overpopulation.

Bricker and Ibbitson say such books and the thinking behind them are “completely and utterly wrong”. They agree with Malthus, Ehrlich and company that humanity is indeed facing an imminent population catastrophe – but the problem won’t be overpopulation. “The great defining event of the 21st century – one of the great defining events in human history – will occur in three decades, give or take, when the global population begins to decline,” they write. “Once that decline begins, it will never end.”

The authors know they’re working against not only popular perception, but also raw numbers. They point out that the United Nations predicts the human population to hit 11 billion in the 21st century, up from the nearly eight billion on Earth today, an increase from five billion since 1950.

But Bricker and Ibbitson say that population growth rates have declined slightly in the 21st century, particularly in what they refer to as the richest places on the planet. Japan, Korea, Spain, Italy, much of Europe – all such places are facing long-term reproduction rates that won’t come close to sustaining their current population levels. And they claim this same levelling and then downward trend will be seen in places such as China, Brazil, Indonesia and even such fertility hot zones as India and Sub-Saharan Africa.

The main reason Bricker and Ibbitson cite for their certainty about all this is that the floor of the world’s basic prosperity is steadily rising. Two things happen as a result: an increasing number of women in developing countries are gaining more education and more control over reproduction, and an increasing number of couples are therefore either postponing having children of their own or having far fewer children than their ancestors did.

Empty Planet makes the case that this change is not only inevitable but already well under way, and that it will be permanent: humanity will simply go into terminal decline, no asteroid or other global catastrophe required. As mentioned, readers have heard such alarming claims before – Ehrlich, for instance, was certain the human population would reach its breaking point in the 1970s.’

 

For more articles and blogs on population decline, population growth and immigration click through.

 

Ageing Democracy, Nativism and Populism

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Liberal democracies in western world need to make sure they do not become populist gerontocracies with changing demographics creating elderly ‘Gerrymandering’ where influence and numbers of older voters (with short term horizons) increasing proportionally over younger generations with longer term interests but less voice and influence.

Western world electorates are ageing and impacting democracy

Ageing Demographics, Democracy and Populism (Image copyright Pexels)

From Alan Stokes of Fairfax round 2016 elections:

It’s on for old and old: younger voters don’t stand a chance

One startling statistic shows why 65+ voters hold all the power at this election – and it will only get worse for the young’uns.

This election will not be decided by modern issues or fashionable personalities. It will not be aimed at the nation’s future. It will be about living in the past.

The 2016 election will be decided more than any other by Australia’s elderly.

We have seen a surge in the share of voters aged 65 and over – wartime children and now baby boomers, many of whom once burnt bras, voted for Whitlam, had a day off work when Alan Bond won the America’s Cup in 1983 but then backed John Howard, pocketed huge superannuation tax breaks from the mining boom, banked capital gains from home ownership and negative gearing, and can afford to say now that 70 is the new 50……

…One startling statistic defines this reversal of the 1960s-70s-80s generation gap.

Since Kevin07 rode youthful exuberance to victory nine years ago, the number of enrolled voters aged 18-24 has increased 7.9 per cent, reflecting some improvement in encouraging younger people to enrol.

But the number of enrolled voters aged 65 and over has increased 34 per cent.

Yes, oldies are out-growing young’uns by a ratio of more than four to one….

…As I wrote last week, the youth have good reason to be revolting. The 65+ voter demographic makes up 22 per cent of the vote this time – more than twice the 10.6 per cent for 18- to 24-year-olds….

…..These revelations are not intended to deny the elderly their voice. Rather, they raise questions about the morality of voting for self-interest when you will not be around to carry the burden of your decisions.

The median projection from the Australian Bureau of Statistics suggest the numbers of Australians aged 65+ will have increased by 84.8 per cent between 2011 and 2031. The proportion of the population 65+ will have increased from 13.8 per cent to 18.7 per cent….

….And what if parties realise they can win elections by kow-towing to the older demographic and downplaying issues that matter to younger Australians? We have seen this already on same-sex marriage, a republic, climate change and housing affordability….

….Expect to see more youthful candidates revolting against the demographic demons. We can only hope they can get through to older voters because the future belongs to the children, not the parents and grandparents.

Such is life …

 

Meanwhile in Europe:

Is Pensioner Populism Here to Stay?

Oct 10, 2018 | EDOARDO CAMPANELLA
MILAN – The right-wing populism that has emerged in many Western
democracies in recent years could turn out to be much more than a blip on the
political landscape. Beyond the Great Recession and the migration crisis, both of
which created fertile ground for populist parties, the aging of the West’s
population will continue to alter political power dynamics in populists’ favor.

It turns out that older voters are rather sympathetic to nationalist movements.
Older Britons voted disproportionately in favor of leaving the European Union,
and older Americans delivered the US presidency to Donald Trump. Neither the
Law and Justice (PiS) party in Poland nor Fidesz in Hungary would be in power
without the enthusiastic support of the elderly. And in Italy, the League has
succeeded in large part by exploiting the discontent of Northern Italy’s seniors.
Among today’s populists, only Marine Le Pen of France’s National Rally (formerly
the National Front) – and possibly Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil – relies on younger
voters…

…Most likely, a growing sense of insecurity is pushing the elderly into the populists’
arms. Leaving aside country-specific peculiarities, nationalist parties all promise
to stem global forces that will affect older people disproportionately.
For example, immigration tends to instill more fear in older voters, because they
are usually more attached to traditional values and self-contained communities.
Likewise, globalization and technological progress often disrupt traditional or
legacy industries, where older workers are more likely to be employed.

At best we are observing very cynical politics, influencers and media endeavouring to confuse, create fear and anxiety amongst older demographics round populist themes such as immigration, globalisation, nativism and identity.

For more blog articles about nativism, NOM net overseas migration, and demography, Click through.

 

 

 

 

Skills of Critical Thinking

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Critical thinking and related literacies are viewed as essential soft, work or life skills to be taught and learnt by school students, apprentices, trainees, university students, employees and broader society, but how?

Following is parts of an article from The Conversation focusing upon argumentation, logic, psychology and the nature of science to help people understand and analyse the world round us in an age of fake news, conspiracy theories, anti-science and anti-education sentiments.

‘How to teach all students to think critically

December 18, 2014 2.27pm AEDT

All first year students at the University of Technology Sydney could soon be required to take a compulsory maths course in an attempt to give them some numerical thinking skills.

The new course would be an elective next year and mandatory in 2016 with the university’s deputy vice-chancellor for education and students Shirley Alexander saying the aim is to give students some maths “critical thinking” skills.

This is a worthwhile goal, but what about critical thinking in general?

Most tertiary institutions have listed among their graduate attributes the ability to think critically. This seems a desirable outcome, but what exactly does it mean to think critically and how do you get students to do it?

So what should any mandatory first year course in critical thinking look like? There is no single answer to that, but let me suggest a structure with four key areas:

 

Argumentation

The most powerful framework for learning to think well in a manner that is transferable across contexts is argumentation.  Arguing, as opposed to simply disagreeing, is the process of intellectual engagement with an issue and an opponent with the intention of developing a position justified by rational analysis and inference.

 

Logic

Logic is fundamental to rationality. It is difficult to see how you could value critical thinking without also embracing logic.  People generally speak of formal logic – basically the logic of deduction – and informal logic – also called induction.  Deduction is most of what goes on in mathematics or Suduko puzzles and induction is usually about generalising or analogising and is integral to the processes of science.

 

Psychology

One of the great insights of psychology over the past few decades is the realisation that thinking is not so much something we do, as something that happens to us. We are not as in control of our decision-making as we think we are.  We are masses of cognitive biases as much as we are rational beings. This does not mean we are flawed, it just means we don’t think in the nice, linear way that educators often like to think we do.

 

The Nature of Science

Learning about what the differences are between hypotheses, theories and laws, for example, can help people understand why science has credibility without having to teach them what a molecule is, or about Newton’s laws of motion.  Understanding some basic statistics also goes a long way to making students feel more empowered to tackle difficult or complex issues. It’s not about mastering the content, but about understanding the process.’

 

This article is from 2014, however it is unclear what Federal and State Education Departments are doing to include the explicit teaching and learning of critical thinking skills to students via curricula and syllabi?

For more articles about university teaching and learning skills click through.

 

 

 

 

Hans Rosling – The facts and ignorance about population growth

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Don’t Panic – Hans Rosling Showing the Facts About Population

The world might not be as bad as you might believe!

“Don’t Panic” is a one-hour long documentary produced by Wingspan Productions and broadcasted on BBC on the 7th of November 2013.

‘With the world’s population at 7 billion and still growing we often look at the future with dread. In Don’t Panic – The Truth About Population, world famous Swedish statistical showman Professor Hans Rosling presents a different view…

… We face huge challenges in terms of food, resources and climate change but at the heart of Rosling’s statistical tour-de-force is the message that the world of tomorrow is a much better place than we might imagine.

World population growth has peaked and is in decline.

Population Growth Decline (Image copyright World Bank).

 

Professor Rosling reveals that the global challenge of rapid population growth, the so-called population explosion, has already been overcome. In just 50 years the average number of children born per woman has plummeted from 5 to just 2.5 and is still falling fast. This means that in a few generations’ time, world population growth will level off completely. And in what Rosling calls his ‘Great British Ignorance Survey’ he discovers that people’s perceptions of the world often seem decades out of date.

Highlights from Ignorance survey in the UK

Highlights from the first UK survey re ignorance of global trends. A preliminary summary by Hans Rosling, Gapminder Foundation, 3 Nov, 2013

Gapminder’s mission is to fight devastating ignorance about the world with a fact-based worldview that everyone can understand. We started the Ignorance Project to measure what people know and don´t know about major global trends.

The results indicate that the UK population severely underestimates the progress in education, health and fertility reduction in the world as a whole and in countries like Bangladesh, whereas they severely overestimate how much the richest countries have changed to renewable energy. It is noteworthy that the results from those with university degrees are not better than the average results, if anything they are worse. The results from UK are similar to those obtained by a 2013 survey in Sweden.

The aim of these surveys is to understand how deep and how widespread the public ignorance of major global development trends is in different countries. We are investigating the knowledge about the order of magnitude and speed of change of the most important aspects of the life conditions of the total world population. The first survey covered some major trends in demography, health, education and energy.

  1. In the year 2000 the total number of children (age 0-14) in the world reached 2 billion. How many do UN experts estimate there will be by the year 2100?
  2. What % of adults in the world today are literate, i.e. can read and write?
  3. What is the life expectancy in the world as a whole today?
  4. In the last 30 years the proportion of the World population living in extreme poverty has…
  5. What % of total world energy generated comes from solar and wind power? Is it approximately
  6. What is the life expectancy in Bangladesh today?
  7. How many babies do women have on average in Bangladesh?

 

Conclusions

Question 1: The answers reveal very deep ignorance about population growth. Only 7% know that the total number of children (below age 15) already has stopped increasing. Almost half of the respondents think there will be twice as many children in the world by the end of the century compared to the forecast of the UN experts.

Questions 2 and 3: Answers show that the respondents think the literacy rate and the life expectancy of the world population is around 50% and 60 years (median values), respectively. But these figures correspond to the how the world was more than 30 years ago.

Question 4: The results show that just 10% are aware of that the United Nations’ first Millennium Development Goal, to halve the world poverty rate, has already been met, even before the target year 2015. More than half think the poverty rate has increased. It is important to understand that random guessing would have yielded 33% correct answers. The result is therefore not due to lack of knowledge, rather it must be due to preconceived ideas. The results strongly indicate that the UK public has failed to be informed about the progress towards the first of the UN´s Millennium Development Goals.

Question 5: Two thirds of the respondents severely overestimate the present role of new renewable sources of energy in world energy production. The present proportion is close to 1%.

Questions 6 and 7: The respondents reveal a deep ignorance about the progress of Bangladesh during the last two to three decades. Only about one in ten know that life expectancy in Bangladesh today is 70 years and that women on average have 2.5 babies.

 

For more articles about population growth and immigration click through.

Population Ageing – Populist Politics

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With ageing societies, living longer, back grounded by increasing mobility of youth and working age, are younger generations viewed as a threat and going to be disadvantaged by upper median age voting demographics, led on by Nativist and populist politicians?

‘From Project Syndicate.

Is Pensioner Populism Here to Stay?

Oct 10, 2018 EDOARDO CAMPANELLA

It is often assumed that the rise of populism in Western democracies is primarily a response to economic insecurity and anger toward privileged elites. But the fact is that neither of those sentiments can be understood without also accounting for the political consequences of population ageing.

Elderly including pensioners living longer are voting for populist leaders and against youth.

Ageing Voters and Populism versus Youth? (Image copyright Pexels).

MILAN – The right-wing populism that has emerged in many Western democracies in recent years could turn out to be much more than a blip on the political landscape. Beyond the Great Recession and the migration crisis, both of which created fertile ground for populist parties, the ageing of the West’s population will continue to alter political power dynamics in populists’ favour….

….Britons voted disproportionately in favour of leaving the European Union, and older Americans delivered the US presidency to Donald Trump. Neither the Law and Justice (PiS) party in Poland nor Fidesz in Hungary would be in power without the enthusiastic support of the elderly. And in Italy, the League has succeeded in large part by exploiting the discontent of Northern Italy’s seniors. Among today’s populists, only Marine Le Pen of France’s National Rally (formerly the National Front) – and possibly Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil – relies on younger voters……

…Most likely, a growing sense of insecurity is pushing the elderly into the populists’ arms. Leaving aside country-specific peculiarities, nationalist parties all promise to stem global forces that will affect older people disproportionately.

For example, immigration tends to instil more fear in older voters, because they are usually more attached to traditional values and self-contained communities….

….By backing right-wing populists, older voters hope to return to a time when domestic affairs were insulated from global forces and national borders were less porous. At the heart of today’s nationalist politics is a promise to preserve the status quo – or even to restore a mythical past.

Hence, nationalist politicians often resort to nostalgic rhetoric to mobilise their older supporters. For his part, Trump has pledged to bring back jobs in the American Rust Belt, once the centre of US manufacturing. Likewise, there could be no clearer symbol of resistance to change than his proposed wall on the US-Mexico border. And his crackdown on illegal immigration and ban on travellers from predominantly Muslim countries signals his commitment to a “pure” American nation.

Similarly, in continental Europe, right-wing populists want to return to a time before the adoption of the euro and the Schengen system of passport-free travel within most of the EU. And they often appeal directly to older voters by promising to lower the retirement age and expand pension benefits (both are flagship policies of the League).

In the United Kingdom, the “Leave” campaign promised vindication for those who have been left behind in the age of globalisation. Never mind that it also touted the idea of a free and independent “Global Britain.” The Brexiteers are not known for their consistency.

At any rate, to the extent that today’s populist wave is driven by demographics, it is not likely to crest anytime soon. In greying societies, the political clout of the elderly will steadily grow; and in rapidly changing economies, their ability to adapt will decline. As a result, older voters will demand more and more socioeconomic security, and irresponsible populists will be waiting in the wings to accommodate them…..

For related blogs and articles about population growth (and decline), immigration and NOM net overseas migration click through.

 

 

Digital vs. Traditional Marketing – Kotler

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Digital vs. Traditional Marketing – Kotler

Digital marketing facilitates WOM word of mouth and horizontal communication within any target market with the customers being central in strategy and outcomes, complemented by more detailed ROI, and requiring more analysis of digital or e-consumer behaviour.  The digital marketing strategy should be viewed as the system or software development lifecycle is, along the customer journey, based upon user or customer input making the system live, dynamic and relevant.

What are the differences and similarities between traditional and digital?

Philip Kotler – Traditional to Digital Marketing (Image copyright Marketing insider Group)

Following is a summary of Philip Kotler’s Marketing 4.0 from The Marketing Journal (Kotler, Kartajaya & Setiawan 2018)

‘Marketing 4.0 is the sequel to our widely-recognized concept of Marketing 3.0, which calls for brands to touch the human spirit.

Digital technology is increasingly moving at the heart of most modern businesses today. As OECD states, digital economy is fast percolating a wide range of industries, from bank­ing, energy and transportation to media and health. No wonder thus how often we hear of the word ‘dis­ruption’ in the context of business.

Moving towards marketing 4.0 requires balancing our use of machines and devices with human contact to strengthen customer engagement.

 

From Traditional to Digital Marketing

As we move from traditional to digital, market­ing has undergone fundamental transformation in the way its various elements are incorporated. Let’s take a look at the four most critical shifts:

From ‘Segmentation and Targeting’ to ‘Customer Community Confirmation’

For brands to be able to penetrate these com­ munities and get their messages across effectively, they need to fit in naturally – acting as friends, showing care and genuine concern to address cus­tomers’ needs and wants. In essence, the process of segmentation, targeting and positioning is made more transparent.

 

From ‘Brand Positioning and Differentiation’ to ‘Brand Characters and Codes’

In this age of digital marketing, a brand needs to be dynamic and versatile in what messages it delivers and how. But what should remain consis­tent is the brand’s character and codes, regardless of the content of the messages that it delivers. The brand’s character – its raison d’être- is what defines its personality, it is what makes the brand stand true to its core, even if the outer imagery is flexible – think Google (with its ever-changing Doodles) or MTV – how they remain flexible with their varying designs, yet solid as brands.

 

From ‘Selling the 4P’s’to ‘Commercializing the 4C’s’

In view of greater connectivity in the digital economy, armed with increased customer partic­ipation, we reckon the emergence of a new set of marketing mix, the 4C’s – co-creation, currency, communal activation, and conversation.

Traditional customer service revolves around treating customers as kings, but in the collabora­tive customer care approach, they are viewed as equals. While customer service would focus solely on addressing their concerns while still attempting to stick to strict guidelines and standard operating procedures, collaborative care would put genuine effort into listening and responding to the cus­tomer, consistently following through, on terms agreed upon by both company and customer. In the connected world, this collaborative process is more relevant to customer care wherein customers are invited to participate in the process by using self-service facilities.

 

Integrating Traditional and Digital Marketing

Industry observers have been debating for a while whether traditional marketing is dead, in view of the rising influence of, and marketing spend in, digital marketing. What we believe however is that digital is not supposed to replace traditional marketing. Both are meant to co-exist and have their own roles to play across the customer journey.

Traditional marketing is still quite effective in building awareness and interest in brands, but digital marketing plays a more prominent role as customers go on to build closer relationships with brands. The goal of digital should be to drive action and advocacy, and in view of greater accountability, the focus should be on driving results, as opposed to traditional marketing where the focus should be on initiating customer interaction. In essence, Marketing 4.0 aims to help marketers identify and prepare for the shifting roles of traditional and dig­ital marketing in building customer engagement and advocacy.’

 

What does this all mean?

  • Digital marketing should not be viewed simply as a technical channel for budget allocation, while it includes community, word of mouth or horizontal communication with social media channels.
  • Underlying brand character remains the same but with constant customer participation and collaboration as per the 4C’s customer generated content, authenticity, horizontal communication via word of mouth, and reinforcement of the message.
  • Digital should complement traditional marketing’s building awareness and interest with customer interaction, also analysis of customer engagement, decision and action to inform ROI well.
  • Marketing strategy (development) should be viewed as a dynamic system, not unlike the systems or software development lifecycle (SDLC) for the duration of the customer journey.
  • Any system must to be based upon the needs of all stakeholders including customers, personnel, and users by continuous feedback for analysis (of outcomes) to inform improvements (including ROI).

 

For more blog articles about digital marketing and consumer behaviour click through to blog Education, Training and Society.

References & Bibliography:

Kotler, P, Kartajaya, H & Setiawan, I 2016, Marketing 4.0: Moving from Traditional to Digital, Wiley, New Jersey.

Kotler, P, Kartajaya, H & Setiawan, I 2018, ‘Marketing 4.0: When Online Meets Offline, Style Meets Substance, and Machine-to-Machine Meets Human-to-Human’, The Marketing Journal, viewed 6 August 2018, <http://www.marketingjournal.org/marketing-4-0-when-online-meets-offline-style-meets-substance-and-machine-to-machine-meets-human-to-human-philip-kotler-hermawan-kartajaya-iwan-setiawan/&gt;

 

 

Focus Group Research then Survey for Digital e-Marketing Strategy Development

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Digital or e-Marketing Research for Strategy Development

 

Conducting Qualitative and Quantitative Feedback – Focus Respondent Interviews for Survey Instrument Development

 

Following outlines steps in applying research techniques for marketing using a MBA cohort of professionals of diverse backgrounds mostly based in Europe.

Limited interviews, both face to face and email based, were conducted with selected former students and industry stakeholders for experiential feedback to ascertain or confirm important factors.  After analysis of feedback, this led onto the development of a simple survey instrument with the factors or clusters of elicited, making up dimensions or phases (Saunders et al., 2009).  One could then measure or relate the importance of each factor in the information search amongst a related population or student cohort, then drawing inferences, but neither correlations nor causal relationships.

 

While optimal language and communication skills are important for questionnaires, there must be a process of researching, identifying and forming the questions to be included in a survey, that leads to valid and reliable data for analysis; one cannot go back after collecting survey data.

 

Ordinal Likert scales can be used to assess the strength of perceptions on relevant factors, on a three, five or seven-point range and can indicate order e.g. not very important through neutral to very important.  Ideally scales are applied to many factors or questions leading to inference of a construct explaining the research focus.  In this study, simply assessing relevance of each factor grouped as phases or dimensions for inclusion e.g. if deemed to be important or very important by students (Bell, 2005).

 

While the quantitative data collection or survey was a ‘probability sample’ or ‘representative sampling’ i.e. all from the same online MBA cohort, to allow inferences to be made about the population, the ‘Focus Respondents’ informing the survey development represented ‘non-probability’ sampling for convenience or streamlining.

 

By accessing ‘Focus Respondents’ and gaining input from potential population, also including informed input from industry personnel, industry and scholastic research; a valid survey instrument could be developed (Saunders at al., 2009).

 

The sample population of university students surveyed represent the population’s ‘information seeking’ behaviour, through collecting quantitative data from this representative sample of enrolled European University students in online MBA program.

 

Ideally this could have been expanded further amongst other sample populations for comparison and cross tabulation, but the scope of this study precluded inclusion, however actual colleges, public organisations and SME business workplaces can replicate the process.

 

Reference List:

 

Bell, J. (2005) Doing Your Research Project. (4th Ed.). Maidenhead: Open University Press.

 

Saunders, M., Lewis, P. & Thornhill, A. (2009) Research Methods for Business Students. (5th Ed.) Harlow UK: Pearson Education Ltd.

 

 

How to Research the Digital Customer Journey

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Related Research on International Student or Customer Information
Seeking Journey

 

This study started with individual focus input from a limited number of former international students and stakeholders giving open and related feedback on information seeking factors; mirroring grounded research techniques allowing issues to emerge within time and resource constraints (Strauss & Corbin, 1990).

 

This study, through qualitative techniques of literature review, with stakeholder feedback from both students and marketers, was followed by quantitative measurement of data from a modest but relevant sample student population, using descriptive statistics i.e. data tables, informing a construct with analysis, then discussion and recommendations.

 

Good starting point for qualitative research is ‘grounded theory’, a methodology to allow issues to emerge from focus respondents; this was partially replicated, but in an abbreviated or streamlined version.

 

Qualitative Research – Grounded Research Theory & Inductive Approach

 

Qualitative data from interviews or focus respondent feedback can be used for the ‘Inductive Approach’ (to inform survey instrument) exemplified by fluid theoretical framework, identification of relationships in the data for potential hypotheses, then theory emerges from this process.  Further, there are various types of approach e.g. summarising meaning or ‘condensation’, categorisation or ‘grouping’ and structuring or ‘ordering’ leading to a narrative, this approach avoids becoming caught in a deductive process of proving theory (Saunders, 2009).

 

Further, analysis of the emergent qualitative data allows comprehension, integration, pattern recognition, then potential development or testing of theories.  Also significant are language terms that emerge from the data, which also appear in existing literature, that are used by participants and relevant industry (Ibid.).

 

Language analysis is especially important to inform good website design, SM usage, content marketing and SEO keywords and phrases, reflecting the language or communication means that students prefer, use and can find.

 

Why Mixed Methods & Grounded Research Theory?

 

The reasons for using mixed methods include ‘triangulation’ to corroborate both facilitation and complementarity through qualitative and quantitative, ‘generality’ assessing importance through quantitative, and ‘aid interpretation’ with qualitative explaining quantitative.  This approach can solve a puzzle through analysis i.e. asking students directly versus guessing or assuming the latent factors driving their behaviour when planning a purchase (Saunders, 2009).

 

Grounded theory emerges from induction through the study of a phenomenon, e.g. study of student information searching preferences to derive a ‘grounded’ marketing and communications strategy or approach.  However, qualitative via grounded theory follows a process of systematic data collection and analysis related to a phenomenon so that data collection, analysis and theory relate to each other; it’s not subjective opinion (Strauss & Corbin, 1990).

 

Using mixed methods of data collecting or multi-method approach, adds up to enhanced validity and reliability through ‘triangulation’ (Bell, 2005).  Coding can also be done in a selective manner in choosing the core category for which relationships and other categories are viewed (Ibid.). Process or linking up of elements in the research or study emerges as a sequence of events, exemplified by identifying need, information search, analysis and decision; mirrors many cyclical processes including those outside of marketing (Ibid.).

 

The research process in this case, using grounded theory, allowed flexibility provided evaluation criteria are satisfied, leading onto empirical grounding (Strauss & Corbin, 1990). How or where do we start?

 

 

Reference List:

 

Bell, J. (2005) Doing Your Research Project. (4th Ed.). Maidenhead: Open University Press.

 

Saunders, M., Lewis, P. & Thornhill, A. (2009) Research Methods for Business Students. (5th Ed.) Harlow UK: Pearson Education Ltd.

 

Strauss, A. & Corbin, J. (1990) Basics of Qualitative Research – Grounded Theory Procedures and Techniques. Newbury Park CA: SAGE Publications.

 

FLIPPED Model – Pedagogy or Andragogy in Higher Education Teaching Learning

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FLIPPED Teaching and Learning Model in Higher Education

 

Introduction

 

Nowadays in higher education there is much talk of MOOCS (Massive Open Online Courses), e-learning, blended learning and the ‘FLIPPED’ (Flexible Environments, Learning Culture, Intentional Content, Professional Educators, Progressive Activities, Engaging Experiences, and Diversified Platforms) classroom; what does it mean, what are the issues and solutions?

 

Brief Literature Review

 

One of the first issues to be apparent is that ‘FLIPPED learning’ is under utilised and even when utilised, there maybe sub-optimal delivery for good teaching and learning outcomes (Chen et al., 2014).  Conversely, whether a fee-paying program, compulsory K12 or a MOOC, FLIPPED learning can dramatically increase access (Hazlett, 2014).

 

Flipped classroom is also a benefit to both teaching and learning, with students being exposed to subject content online and participate in active lessons; moving away from teacher directed pedagogy to student centred learning or andragogy (especially important for transition of youth to adulthood).  The benefits are exemplified by less homework issues, question and answer, deeper exploration and those away with illness can keep up.  For teachers it means supporting students in application, reusable, easier individual student attention and more transparency for parents (Mihai, 2016).

 

Another view includes the following benefits: more student control, student centred, content more accessible for students or parents, and more efficient.  However, this is tempered by disadvantages of digital divide or illiteracy, requires significant preparation and front-end input, not good for test preparation and increased screen time (Acedo, 2013).

 

Other related concerns including potential side lining of teachers and their related skills, online content and instructional design can be boring versus active and interesting lessons, excusing bad pedagogy, internet access issues (e.g. Australia has internet speed and bandwidth issues comparing with less developed nations), assuring online content e.g. videos are watched, online content and instructional design can be very time consuming (November & Mull, 2012).

 

What are the issues for FLIPPED model in adult vocation or higher education teaching and learning?

 

The obvious issue is that when developed for K12 it is based upon pedagogic learning theories for children and youth, supported by teachers with strong background in theory and application of teaching, learning, assessment and technology.  However, this may not translate well to adult education, vocational or higher education requiring skills of applying andragogy i.e. matching adult learning styles with instructors, trainers, teachers or lecturers lacking the same education background.

 

What are the differences between pedagogy and andragogy in teaching and learning?

 

Firstly, what do adults bring to learning and how do they learn optimally as identified by Malcolm Knowles?  Knowles identified six principles including internal motivation and self-direction, life experience and knowledge, goal oriented, relevancy, practical and need for respect.  Contrasted with pedagogy in the following table:

 

Andragogy versus Pedagogy in FLIPPED Model for Higher Education

Andragogy versus Pedagogy for the FLIPPED Model in Higher Education

(Education Technology & Mobile Learning, 2018)

 

Reflection on issues and solutions for FLIPPED Model in Higher Education

 

One has experienced online blinded learning in higher education i.e. online MBA with webinars, CPD (Continuing Professional Development) via e-learning platform and vocational training certificate via distance learning and recorded webinars as ‘add-ons’, not well integrated.

 

Issues encountered included lack of teaching, learning, assessment and technology skills in instructional design, lesson planning, delivery of interesting lessons, developing and testing activity resources, creating opportunities for interactivity, involving all students (not just strong or dominant), using existing or old lecture slides for content, technology breakdowns with no disaster plan, not using or updating discussion forums and relying too much on ‘presenting’ versus teaching.

 

Solutions could include CPD like ‘train the trainer’ or in Australia the TAE40116 Certificate IV Trainer & Assessor, however many are not suitable for adult learners whether young or old.  In more diverse international cohorts where English is not the first language, adapt using the Cambridge CELTA (Certificate to Teach English Language to Adults) framework (applied qualification studied full time intensively four weeks including practice and observations).

 

The latter is especially well designed to include all learning theories including pedagogy and importantly andragogy, for student centred communication interaction.  It is based on the PPP model (Presentation, Practice and Production), when applied well is active, interesting, with clear learning outcomes and multi levelled hidden curriculum, in addition to communication skills, when pitched at advanced or proficiency level students (UCLES, 2018).

 

Nowadays with empowered and fee paying adult learners, top down directed teaching and learning of subject matter may neither be accepted nor acceptable?

 

Reference List

 

Acedo, M. (2013) 10 Pros and Cons of a Flipped Classroom. Available at: https://www.teachthought.com/learning/10-pros-cons-flipped-classroom/  (Accessed on: 27 January 2018).

 

Chen, Y; Wang, Y; Kinshuk & Chen, N. (2014) Is FLIP enough? Or should we use the FLIPPED model instead? Computers & Education. 79 pp. 16-27. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360131514001559

 

Education Technology & Mobile Learning (2018) Awesome Chart on “Pedagogy versus Andragogy”.  Available at: https://www.educatorstechnology.com/2013/05/awesome-chart-on-pedagogy-vs-andragogy.html (Accessed on: 28 January 2018).

 

Hazlett, C. (2014) Parallel Sessions: MOOC meets Flipped Classroom. Available at: https://blog.edx.org/parallel-sessions-mooc-meets-flipped (Accessed on: 27 January 2018).

 

Mihai, L. (2016) Blended Learning: 8 Flipped Classroom Benefits for Students and Teachers. Available at: https://elearningindustry.com/8-flipped-classroom-benefits-students-teachers (Accessed on: 27 January 2018).

 

November, A. & Mull, B. (2012) Flipped Learning: A Response to Five Common Criticisms. Available at: http://web.uvic.ca/~gtreloar/Articles/Technology/flipped-learning-a-response-to-five-common-criticisms.pdf (Accessed on: 27 January 2018).

 

UCLES (2018) Cambridge English Teaching Framework. Available at: http://www.cambridgeenglish.org/teaching-english/cambridge-english-teaching-framework/ (Accessed on: 27 January 2018).

 

Featured Links

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This is a featured link post.

The Conversation

AIM The Australian Independent Media Network

Mumbrella – Everything under Australia’s media and marketing umbrella

Independent Australia

ABC Australia – Media Watch

Michael West Media – Independent Journalists

Politics U.K. – Ian Dunt

Hungarian Spectrum – Eva Balogh

BIRN – Balkan Investigative Reporting Network

The Guardian Australia

Gapminder Foundation

 

 

 

 

 

University Higher Education or VET Vocational Training?

Guardian article has interesting points about the value or not of higher education versus vocational, white collar professionals versus practical or blue collar occupations and front line personnel in let sectors versus invisible managers. Important that career counsellors, teachers, parents, peers and communities are aware so that youth are not compelled or led to expensive higher education for unclear graduate outcomes and careers.

 

Coronavirus is teaching the UK it’s wrong to deride the practical professions

Liz Lightfoot

 

Post-pandemic, we must put vocational courses centre stage and stop favouring academic pupils over those who invent, make or care.

 

When my son was 15 he announced he intended to study law and be a barrister. “Why law?” I asked. “That’s what clever people do,” he replied.

 

He changed his mind, but at universities up and down the land there are students struggling and dropping out of courses because they chose what clever people do, often under pressure from their families to pursue academic, rather than more practical, routes to employment.

 

As the Covid-19 pandemic whips us to our senses, the full extent of our reliance on people who didn’t pursue an academic route has hit us like a hurricane. So this has to be the time, at last, for the UK to put vocational courses and qualifications centre stage. That means recognising them for what they are, not chasing the chimera of parity of esteem with academic ones, as in the past.

 

We don’t need only doctors, lawyers, civil servants, accountants and money analysts. We are crying out for care workers, plumbers, electricians and car mechanics. We applaud manufacturers who change tack to make ventilators and face masks. We are prostrate with gratitude to those keeping some semblance of normality going – the supermarket cashiers, bus and train drivers, and the refuse collectors. Oh, how we miss our hairdressers as we battle to disguise our greying locks.

 

We’re grateful to the farmers who keep producing, the drivers who deliver our online purchases; postal delivery workers; to the cheerful cornershop owner, the bakers, the ICT technicians who can restore our devices.

 

Then there’s a new appreciation of the caring services, social workers, nurses, paramedics and, of course, care workers. Parents, struggling to amuse and home educate their children, are now in awe of the nursery and teaching professions….

 

For related blogs and articles about adult learning, career guidance, higher education teaching, TAFE education & training, VET vocational education & training and younger generations click through.

Australia Commission for Human Future

Australia has a Commission for the Human Future outlining a series of existing e.g. Covid-19 like pandemic, and other threats.  However, one of the threats cited is ‘human population growth beyond carry capacity’ with unclear support from demographic research and science, who lobbied for its inclusion?

Credible research shows already declining fertility rates with a predicted global peak mid century, then decline.  Further, ‘carrying capacity’ is linked to the debunked ‘Limits to Growth’ construct promoted by the fossil and auto supported Club of Rome, including Paul ‘population bomb’ Ehrlich, which is used by white nationalists to promote the ‘Great Replacement Theory’.

 

The following article from The Conversation Australia explains the Commission for the Human Futures:

 

There are 10 catastrophic threats facing humans right now, and coronavirus is only one of them

 

April 22, 2020 3.08am BST
Arnagretta Hunter – ANU Human Futures Fellow 2020; Cardiologist and Physician., Australian National University

 

John Hewson – Professor and Chair, Tax and Transfer Policy Institute, Crawford School of Public Policy

 

Four months in, this year has already been a remarkable showcase for existential and catastrophic risk. A severe drought, devastating bushfires, hazardous smoke, towns running dry – these events all demonstrate the consequences of human-induced climate change.

 

While the above may seem like isolated threats, they are parts of a larger puzzle of which the pieces are all interconnected. A report titled Surviving and Thriving in the 21st Century, published today by the Commission for the Human Future, has isolated ten potentially catastrophic threats to human survival.

 

Not prioritised over one another, these risks are:

 

decline of natural resources, particularly water
collapse of ecosystems and loss of biodiversity
human population growth beyond Earth’s carrying capacity
global warming and human-induced climate change
chemical pollution of the Earth system, including the atmosphere and oceans
rising food insecurity and failing nutritional quality
nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction
pandemics of new and untreatable disease
the advent of powerful, uncontrolled new technology
national and global failure to understand and act preventatively on these risks.

 

The start of ongoing discussions

The Commission for the Human Future formed last year, following earlier discussions within emeritus faculty at the Australian National University about the major risks faced by humanity, how they should be approached and how they might be solved. We hosted our first round-table discussion last month, bringing together more than 40 academics, thinkers and policy leaders.

 

The commission’s report states our species’ ability to cause mass harm to itself has been accelerating since the mid-20th century. Global trends in demographics, information, politics, warfare, climate, environmental damage and technology have culminated in an entirely new level of risk…..

 

For more articles and blogs about Covid-19, population growth, climage change, environment, populist politics and white nationalism click through.