Monthly Archives: June 2012

How power companies undermine Australia’s climate strategy.

It seems that my electricity provider Origin (among others) intends to increase its green power prices by the same amount as black (carbon-producing) power when the carbon price kicks in.

Green energy customers are buying a product which does not produce carbon emissions, and the vendor is telling them that its price has increased because of the charge on carbon emissions. That is untrue and deceptive. Further, it means they are effectively subsidising their black energy customers by charging green customers a portion of the extra cost of producing the black energy they do not use. This is is counter to the purpose of the carbon price. Continue reading

Extreme mainstream

It is all too easy for The Australian to kick Fairfax while it is down, with the often repeated but never substantiated claims that it is “ignorant of mainstream Australia”, a “conclave of left-leaning professionals”, etc. (Editorial, 20/6). The Australian, on the other hand, can freely continue to lose money promoting its profoundly unpopular free-market ideology, knowing that its owner will continue to subsidise it with profits from his other tentacles in order to retain his grip on public opinion.

One dollar, one vote

David Young (The Australian, Letters, 20/6) is only half right when he asserts that Fairfax’s woes are caused by “the most democratic of institutions, the free market”. The most democratic of institutions is in fact universal suffrage, something the market will never produce. It may well have forced media restructuring, but as long as people do not have equal economic power, there is nothing democratic about it.

Nor does the market guarantee balance or quality, which is why we have government-resourced media, whose “aura of legitimacy” is not “spurious” but earned by recognised journalistic rigour and merit which is the envy of commercial media. Nonetheless, if Mr Young objects so strenuously to their existence, he may prefer to get his information from market-driven sources, like say, “Today Tonight”, or perhaps “The Bolt Report”.

Bloggers’ bedtime

If the denialists would stop crowing for a second over the revision of the “1000-year” climate study and actually read up on the facts, they would find that the scientists themselves – not “bloggers” – have delayed its publication while they check some subtle aspects of data interpretation.

It is that kind of nuanced thoroughness and accuracy which distinguishes scientists from the ignorant buffoons who mindlessly oppose science simply because they dislike its conclusions, like a child who denies it’s eight o’clock because that’s bedtime.

Dirt unit

It is doubtful that Labor’s “dirt unit” is any match for the Coalition’s, which has been spying for conservatives for 60 years – on the public tab. It’s called ASIO.

Tax, then subsidise..huh?

Don Stallman’s question, “Why tax an industry and give it back to us in subsidies?” (The Australian, Letters, 11/6), is understandable given that most of the media spreads fear of the carbon tax instead of explaining how it works. But the answer is simple: low-carbon products will be cheaper than high-carbon ones and will thus be chosen by consumers, giving producers an incentive to switch to low-carbon production. The compensation to consumers ensures that the only losers will be producers who are slower than their competitors to switch. The market will do its job and eventually carbon emissions, the tax and the compensation will all be minimised.

What baffles me is why such a textbook market mechanism is opposed by conservatives. Maybe they’re mad they didn’t think of it.

Nothing conservative about the Right

“There is nothing progressive about the Left”, says Frank Pulsford (The Australian, Last Post, 7/6). Was it the Left or the Right who fought for modern democracy, workers rights, racial and sexual equality, and many other values which are now mainstream? And who opposed these progressions at every step?

Conversely, the modern Right claims the word “conservative”, yet its project is radical, including the dismantling of collective instruments long fundamental to our polity such as public assets and services, economic regulation for the common good, collective bargaining and welfare.