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The Forum > Article Comments > Resource tax? Green new deal? Or new social contract? > Comments

Resource tax? Green new deal? Or new social contract? : Comments

By Ariel Salleh, published 1/6/2010

Could Labor's proposed resource tax open the door for a 'green new deal' or even 'a new social contract' for Australians?

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The people who manage big businesses, like BHP, are employed for one purpose - to maximise profit for shareholders. If the 10 shareholders who own 57% of BHP felt that paying a RSPT would be a good thing for Australia, there would be no outcry from the company's management. These shareholders are –

HSBC Nominees Pty Ltd (16.08)
Citicorp Nominees Pty Limited (13.23)
J P Morgan Nominees Australia Limited (11.62)
National Nominees Ltd (9.41)
Australian Mutual Provident Society (2.42)
ANZ Nominees Limited (2.21)
Queensland Investment Corporation (0.9)
Potter Warburg Nominees Pty Ltd (.45)
Australian Foundation Investment Company Limited (.42)
UBS Nominees Pty Ltd (.4)

It is understandable if the shareholders in these companies who live overseas care nothing for the well-being of Australians, unless of course their ability to do the hard work is compromised. But for the shareholders who live in Australia, the quality of life here matters.

Is an Australian super fund member better served by a higher payout when they retire and a large national debt, or by a lower payout and a smaller national debt? My money is on the latter. But there's no point in complaining to company management who are acting on instructions from the big shareholders.

Greg Cameron
Posted by GC, Tuesday, 1 June 2010 12:56:55 PM
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Underneath the feel-good trendy catch-phrases, this is just the same old socialist creed of government control of anything and everything.
The socialists just don't get it. They think if they keep re-trying socialism, or keep re-naming it - keep destroying capital and people’s lives - it will work eventually.

But the author fails to come to terms with the basic issue, which is, how are we to know that the use of resources directed by government – forcing people to forego their freedom to choose by threatening to have them locked up in a cage - is going to be any better at satisfying human wants than the use of resources directed by the people concerned in their own voluntary transactions on the basis of what benefits themselves and each other?

The underlying assumption, necessary to make the argument work, is always a double standard, illogical. Under the dreaded capitalism, we face scarcity of resources. But under the wonderful dispensation of government, these scarcities magically disappear.

For example:
* leaving fossil fuels in the ground

Those fossil fuels are currently being used to grow and transport food. Are the people just supposed to starve? That would be the logical result of leaving them in the ground, wouldn't it, other things being equal? So why doesn't the author think herself guilty of suggesting a policy that would logically cause food shortages? Because she permits herself a double standard of imagining that, if only government could take over control of energy, there would be an ample abundance that is lacking under private control. In other words, what she's saying is that socialism will be more *physically productive* than capitalism. This is just invincible culpable ignorance. There is no ground in theory or history for thinking it is true. She is deceived by the illusion of forced redistributions into thinking that they create wealth and human welfare when they destroy it!
Posted by Peter Hume, Tuesday, 1 June 2010 1:07:15 PM
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* reasserting people's and community control over production;
The people, in their capacity as consumers, already exercise sovereignty over production. Businesses that don’t provide what the consumers demand suffer losses and go broke. But she wants to protect the market from shocks, in other words, shore up loss-making businesses. Businesses that use resources economically so as to produce end product swhich the people value more than the factors of production, make profit. That's exactly what the author doesn't like. The only logical alternative is to be more wasteful of resources. But she just doesn’t get it.
The people choose to use fossil fuels, and the author doesn't like it. They choose to prefer food to unseen native vegetation, and she doesn't like it. They choose to get from A to B by car, and she wants them to take the bus!

Remember, government has nothing to put into the equation but force. What government offers that the market does not, is a legal monopoly on the use of force. Everything else can be supplied by voluntary agreement. Government has no knowledge that the market does not; in fact it has astronomically less. It has no moral superiority, in fact in relying on a monopoly of violence it has less. It has no techncial competence that t that is otherwise lacking from people's *voluntary* co-operation.

So it is a bit rich of the author, all of whose creed boils down to forcibly restricting people in their individual choices as to consumption and production, to claim that she stands for reasserting their control. She stands for the opposite: vesting control in an elite who think the know what's better for people, than people, and who intend to force them to obey whether they like it or not!

Unless and until the author has refuted the arguments of Ludwig von Mises in his comprehensive devastation and explosion of socialism's fallacies in "Socialism", she has no title to participate in the discussion but that of a violent fraud.
Posted by Peter Hume, Tuesday, 1 June 2010 1:08:52 PM
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Peter wipe the foam from your mouth! I'll give you a hint, deep down your a socialist, yeap that's right you are . 99.9% of population is you just don't want to face it. I have never met anyone who want a full on capitalistic market, and just what is the market anyway?

That really is another subject, what this really boils down to is who owns the resources, and what is the best way to get the most and fairest benefit from those resources. the answer to the first question has already been answered, it's the Australian common wealth. The natural resources of this country are national assets, the mining companies are not nationalised by the assets are. Now it's a matter of the second question. Now no one that I heard is saying the government is best place to dig up and sell this asset, but we should set a price for it, and we need to think about how we can share it around to all Australian's.
Peter response will be I'm a pinko, LOL
Posted by Kenny, Tuesday, 1 June 2010 1:47:28 PM
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It never ceases to amaze how green-influenced political economists excel in prescribing solutions for fictional problems. The author refers to the crisis of global warming, the need for de-carbonisation, and green energy efficiency, among other things.
Crisis of global warming? Even Phil Jones, the scientist at the centre of the Climategate scandal, agrees that there has been no statistically significant global warming for the last 15 years.
Need for de-carbonisation? The environmentalists falsely assume that the atmospheric greenhouse effect is real, and consequently CO2 emissions must be capped. The simple truth is that the greenhouse effect only exists in a greenhouse because convective cooling is eliminated, whereas convection is the major process of heat transfer in the earth's atmosphere.
There is no scientific evidence that proves the supposed relationship between CO2 concentration and air temperature in the earth's atmosphere. Such a relationship only exists in the minds of those who have reached political consensus regarding acceptance of environmentalist ideology. Scientific experiments prove the lack of effect that CO2 content has on air temperature.
Without the atmospheric greenhouse effect, there is no anthropogenic global warming and, consequently, no need to cap CO2 emissions.
Green energy efficiency? The author shows his ignorance. Wind turbine power is at least twice as expensive as efficient coal-fired electricity, and solar power is 10 times more expensive. Besides, both of these unreliable green energies require coal-fired backup power, because the wind only blows part of the time, and solar needs sunshine.
Posted by Raycom, Tuesday, 1 June 2010 9:29:40 PM
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As something I co-wrote is mentioned I thought I should contribute.

The article suggests that proposals for a Green New Deal both here and internationally are inadequate, but prefigure more effective 'deals' that genuinely address the climate crisis. The article is in the vein of constructive critique - and is very welcome for pointing up both the possibilities and limitations of current green new deal proposals.

We need a constructive debate about such deals amongst people who recognise that we have no choice but to decarbonise. This debate has to begin with the proposition that we have no choice but to leave fossil fuels in the ground. How anyone - other than the rather quaint neoliberal denialists - can argue otherwise is beyond me.

The other starting point is the acceptance that the market has not delivered and will not deliver decarbonisation. Whether or not this position is deemed 'socialist', it is unavoidable. Market capitalism has given us the world's biggest 'market failure', as Stern put it. But the market will not solve that failure. As is amply evidenced by emissions trading and by carbon taxes, re-pricing carbon does not deliver de-carbonisation.

What we need is direct regulation to keep fossil fuels in the ground, to literally decommission carbon dependence, paired with direct carbon taxes (carbon income and corporate taxes) to raise the necessary funds for renewables, public transport, carbon sinks and energy conservation, and for a wholesale shift to regenerative modes of development here and internationally.

With the Green New Deal proposals, the policy debate is moving in this direction, but not fast enough. Not surprisngly, the denialists and neoliberals have made headway as climate policy has been turned into a compensation scheme for polluters. Australia is a case in point, as is France.

We need to clear the air. We need now to debate how to directly regulate to decommission the polluters. We need progressive taxes to deliver the funds. We need public provision to help households and localities delink from carbon. This is not so much a 'green' deal as a deal for regenerating society.
Posted by James Goodman, Tuesday, 1 June 2010 11:48:05 PM
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