THE VIEW FROM MY POND

the online presence of Don Keayes

The real consequences of being Green

I love being green. I live in a pond, after all, so it’s pretty much what I do. But even I am sick and tired of the “environmental movement” hijacking sensible management in favour of cash-grabs and power.

Tim Blair wrote such a wonderful piece on this topic yesterday that I’m forced to quote it here in full:

New South Wales has a long tradition of exporting trash to Queensland. This is generally referred to as Schoolies Week.

But we also export actual garbage. Huge reeking truckloads of it, hauled for hundreds of kilometres along highways by diesel-burning semis before being deposited in Queensland garbage dumps.

Naturally, this environmentally-harmful circumstance came about due to a desire to improve the environment. The NSW Waste and Environment Levy was introduced during the 1990s, requiring waste facilities to pay for the garbage unloaded at their sites. “The levy aims to reduce the amount of waste being disposed of and promote recycling and resource recovery,” the government’s website reports.

Problem is, the levy keeps going up. It’s now reached a point where recycling and resource recovery are giving way to elemental market forces. “The government here has created a waste levy of $95.20 per tonne,” Tony Khoury, executive director of the Waste Contractors and Recyclers Association of NSW, told the ABC last week. “It’s increasing by $10 plus CPI every year.” And Queensland, which imposes no waste levy, suddenly becomes an option.

“When the waste levy in Sydney was $70 per tonne, there was no talk of waste going to Queensland,” Khoury continued.

“When the levy was $82.20 per tonne, there was talk of waste to Queensland.

“At $95 per tonne, the trucks are on the road.”

And thus we have the latest case of environmental do-goodery leading to both greater costs for consumers and no environmental benefit. This is an almost universal outcome for any environmental initiative. Consider Labor’s carbon dioxide tax, which was supposed to change Australian buying habits. “There will be price impacts,” Prime Minister Julia Gillard promised in 2011. “The whole point of pricing carbon is to say that goods that have got a lot of carbon pollution in them get relatively more expensive.”

Now the government is gloating that the impact of the carbon tax is sufficiently concealed so as to have no impact on consumer behaviour. What with a welter of wealth-shifting compensation arrangements, the “whole point”, as the Prime Minister put it, has been missed.

Similar examples abound. Solar power sounds just dandy, until you strip away government rebates. There’s also the matter of where most solar panels are manufactured. China’s environmental record with photovoltaic cells is remarkably anti-environmental. Last year villagers in Zhejiang stormed a solar panel maker accused of dumping toxins in a local river. Local solar fans have the blood of innocent fishes on their hands.

Wind turbines are great for … well, I’m not sure they’re great for anything, unless you enjoy turning birds into mince ‘n’ feathers. Or setting fire to bushland, as sometimes happens when these pointless turbines ignite.

Battery-assisted hybrid cars offer marginal fuel economy advantages, but this is offset by complexity of manufacture and eventual disposal. And the greater purchase cost, which basically erases all of your fuel economy benefits. It’s much cheaper to buy a used V8.

The introduction of bike lanes in Woolloomooloo sure helped the environment. Too bad they were built so wide that they stopped buses from using Bourke st.

Remember the Port Kembla sea-power experiment that scored nearly $3 million in federal funding? It sank after just two months, causing a 45-minute power outage as it gurgled towards the ocean floor.

South Australia’s ban on sales-point plastic bags led to a boost in purchases of plastic bin liners. The same thing happened when Canberra banned plastic bags. Also, Canberra shoppers began driving to nearby Queanbeyan, where no ban applied.

Nobody is immune from the tyranny of unintended green consequences. The faith’s leader, former US vice president Al Gore, went on a greening binge a few years ago after investigators discovered that his Nashville mansion was a massive energy gobbler. But, as the Beacon Center of Tennessee reported in 2008: “Despite adding solar panels, installing a geothermal system, replacing existing light bulbs with more efficient models, and overhauling the home’s windows and ductwork, Gore now consumes more electricity than before the green overhaul.”

Gore has always been a perfect symbol of the green movement: wealthy, bossy, impractically idealistic, hypocritical and utterly unaware of various economic realities. But now, thanks to NSW environmental regulations, he finally has a rival.

The next time someone pitches up some kind of clean-green planet-saving notion, simply imagine the likely outcome. History is your guide. Instead of ecological harmony, an accurate image of life under green law may be found as you drive along the Pacific Highway.

It’s a semi-trailer, blowing diesel smoke and loaded with garbage.

Compare and Contrast

Please take a little moment to compare and contrast this speech by a female Prime Minister with the self-serving drivel Julia Gillard demeans us with every day.

 

“Conservative” does not mean white, male, stuffed-shirt and boring … it means we’d like to retain this kind of dignity and servanthood in government.

Do you read?

Do you read? If you do, is it actual books or just the daily newspapers?

I only ask because in my tadpole years I was taught that the average rag was written for 11 year-olds. I doubt anything’s changed, so why not put down that childish junk and ruminate on some healthy brain food. My suggestions:

  1. The Bible (English Standard Version for accuracy, and the King James Version for beautiful, poetical prose). Here you will see every human frailty laid bare, every moral argument addressed, and gain a deep insight into ‘the human condition.’
  2. Biographies. It really doesn’t matter who you choose, because there is something interesting and meaningful to be learned from the life of every human being. Pluck a topic out of the air and enjoy two or three biographies then move on to another. I now have my favourite authors and seek their works out, but in the process of discovering who they were I read far more widely than I ever thought I might and learned far more than I ever thought possible.
  3. Histories. Ever wondered why history tends to repeat itself? Probably because nobody bothers to read it so they never learn from it! Again, choose the first topic that pops into your head and have a go. You will be amazed to find how many other of your interests are inter-connected to the one you’re learning about, and why the events unfolding around you have far broader causes – and implications – than you were ever trained to believe. (It is this aspect that I enjoy more than any other. As my horizons began to broaden I found myself wondering again, delighting in life again, and becoming excited at the prospect of discovery again. Life ought not be banal!)
  4. Quotes. You clearly have access to a computer, so why not search for some sites with quotations from articulate thinkers and sign up for their content? As quotes take only a moment or two to read they provide a very speedy entree into the worlds of philosophy and literature, and will very soon pique your interest in all sorts of topics.
  5. Library. If all else fails (or even if it hasn’t) drop into your local library and wander about for 10 minutes. Provided your cerebral cortex is still intact you’ll be sure to find something with which to begin your journey.

So that’s my list. Do you suggest anything else?

The ALP and the Unions

It really bothers me when I hear the phrase “for the working man” being bandied about by ALP politicians. This Party is not concerned with “working families” at all but rather, in typical Socialist tradition, in advancing the cause of its union base and officials. Moreover, while they decry the riches earned by entrepreneurs and those who save rather than spend their wages, have you ever noticed how many lawyers and union functionaries on huge expense accounts are saying such things with a straight face?

According to the ABS, in August 2011 there were just shy of 7 million full-time employees in this country, yet only 18% of them were trade union members. When we add in those in less than full-time employment, we reach a total figure on just 1.8 million employees who are union members. How can it be that such a small number of people can have such an enormous influence on the polity of a political party? Easy: the ALP was created by and for the unions!

First off, the “by the unions” bit. The ALP Constitution notes that the Party’s origins are found in,

… the recognition by the trade union movement of the necessity for a political voice to take forward the struggle of the working class against the excesses, injustices and inequalities of capitalism.

Now the “for the unions” bit. The very first stated objective of the ALP’s constitution is to achieve,

as “a democratic socialist party … the democratic socialisation of industry, production, distribution and exchange, to the extent necessary to eliminate exploitation and other anti-social features in these fields.”

Ever wondered why the Labor Party doesn’t listen to you? You’re probably one of the 82% of the working population who is irrelevant to their objectives (other than at election time, of course!) In order to get that voice you have to be in a union. Again, from the ALP’s constitution:

Membership
6 (b) Members of the Party are encouraged to be members of a union or to employ union labour. State and Territory Branch rules should require members of the Party to be members of a union or to employ union labour to the maximum extent permitted by law.
(c) To further encourage union members to join the Party, State and Territory Branches should offer discounts in membership subscriptions for members of affiliated unions. [And they do in NSW … a 40% discount]

and this in addition to the fact that Affiliated Unions are still guaranteed about 50% of seats at all Congresses and meetings and you really get the sense that, like all other Socialist politics, the ALP is a very closed shop indeed.

Judith Sloan had an interesting piece in The Australian on 1 May 2012, in which she noted that, “Over time, the fall in union membership has been steep, almost precipitous. In August 1992, 43 per cent of male workers and 35 per cent of females were union members in their main jobs.” Now here’s the important bit to take away with you:

The mainstay of union membership are now teachers, nurses and public servants. The sector with the highest union membership is education and training, followed by public administration and safety. Tasmania, with its large public sector, has the highest rate of unionisation at 25 per cent.

No wonder  just about every single transfer of your wealth to somebody else now involves teachers (BER, student-free days, national curriculum, etc), public sector expansion, and health workers. Oh, and car makers. Ever wondered why Kevin Rudd gave $30 million to Toyota when they said they wouldn’t use it to build cars in Australia? He was looking after his union mates who were doing side deals as part of the bargaining process! Same thing with the Holden and Ford plants … every job supposedly “saved” by government intervention has cost a little over $1 million of your hard-earned money. “Saving” Australia’s car industry is nuts, because in total we manufacture only about 5% of what a single company needs to sell each year in order to survive in a global market … we maintain our motor vehicle manufacturing sector (and, incidentally, pay the highest prices for our vehicles in the entire world) purely and simply as a means of keeping highly unproductive unionised labour aboard the gravy train.

I could go on about the Superannuation Guarantee Levy, which increases the cost of employing somebody by 9% thereby reducing the capacity of wealth-generating enterprises to employ people while filling the unions’ “Industry Scheme” war chests with billions every year but, hopefully, you’ve got the picture by now. It won’t be necessary to write about the ICAC revelations either.

A most gruesome competition

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has claimed, quite rightly, that Christianity is “the most persecuted religion worldwide.” This didn’t go down too well with her hosts in Tel Aviv, since Jews feel entitled to claim that title for themselves (bizarrely so, given the gruesome nature of the competition. Of course, their 6.5 million deaths in the Holocaust just doesn’t compared with the 60 million or so who died under Chairman Mao but that’s for a whole other post.)

Writing in the UK’s Telegraph newspaper, Rupert Shortt agrees with Merkel and asks why such a huge scourge is chronically under-reported in the West. He says about 200 million Christians face daily discrimination or persecution: it just isn’t fashionable to say so.

Imagine the unspeakable fury that would erupt across the Islamic world if a Christian-led government in Khartoum had been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Sudanese Muslims over the past 30 years. Or if Christian gunmen were firebombing mosques in Iraq during Friday prayers. Or if Muslim girls in Indonesia had been abducted and beheaded on their way to school, because of their faith.

Such horrors are barely thinkable, of course. But they have all occurred in reverse, with Christians falling victim to Islamist aggression. Only two days ago, a suicide bomber crashed a jeep laden with explosives into a packed Catholic church in Kaduna, northern Nigeria, killing at least eight people and injuring more than 100… Other notable trouble spots include Egypt, where 600,000 Copts – more than the entire population of Manchester – have emigrated since the 1980s in the face of harassment or outright oppression.

What’s with the Right?

I’m back! The pond has now been fully cleaned and is healthy again so we can all get back to business. And the first order of said business … what’s with the Right?

Stick with me for a while and you’ll soon gather that my perspective is broadly conservative. I have Libertarian tendencies and abhor hypocrites of any and every flavour. Which is why I just don’t get NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell lately.

Last week I attempted to gather all the shopping trolleys and car bodies from the muddy depths of my pond and have them recycled into more useful articles. Thinking I was doing myself and the environment a huge favour, I collected nearly one tonne of scrap metal only to find that the price here in Coffs Harbour is just $45 a tonne. That wouldn’t have been so bad, but before I can be rewarded for actually doing the hard yards for the environment, the EPA takes $35 a tonne so it can continue regulating my efforts.

What to do? I rang a bunch of scrap metal businesses, each of which told me they were not collecting any steel at present because it cost them more in fuel and labour to collect and sell the stuff than they receive for doing so. I checked out the local council’s “Waste Management Facility” but the recyclers went out of business 18 months ago and it now costs $180 per tonne to dump the stuff (of which, you guessed it, a significant proportion goes back to the state government as an “environmental levy”). Oh, and don’t forget the GST on top of it all. No wonder so many people dump their junk in National Parks!

So my issue with the Right is this: why aren’t you guys getting rid of these ridiculous restrictions on community-mindedness and entrepreneurial effort? I understand why the ALP and Greens of the Left want to keep unionised bureaucrats in power, but you guys are supposed to be against all that! Mr O’Farrell … DO SOMETHING! NOW!

Why the whole world is in the poo

Change ’em now!

Couldn’t believe my luck when I found this on a Liberal site … must have stumbled across the only Lefty on earth with a sense of humour!

Sound Familiar?

It’s amazing what you find when you flip over the odd lilly pad. This quote from the London Times atop a copy of NSW’s The Land dated 20 August 1915:

Undoubtedly, if the Labour (sic) proposals are forced, Australia will be plunged into a violent contest, and the stream of abuse, innuendo, and recrimination which has already flooded the House of Representatives will overflow the whole of Australia. Meanwhile, in the trenches at Gallipoli, Australians will be fighting for freedom under an alien sky. The contrast may not be seen as strange to the Australian leaders as it does to us, but is it worth while?

Following on from yesterday’s comments by Paul Howes, I began to wonder if those seeking to impose on the rest of us a Progressive fascist (for them) and socialist (for us) existence have ever read a history book? Check out a few excerpts from Tom Orsag’s  very interesting article in Solidarity issue #42,

Labor under Gillard and Rudd has been a disappointment—and the sense that the Labor government doesn’t stand for anything is widespread. But the party’s history shows that Labor in government has disappointed its supporters right from its beginning. Few of the betrayals of Labor governments have been more bitter than that of Billy Hughes’ government during World War I.

From the party’s inception, Labor leaders had wrapped themselves in nationalism, declaring Labor the party of nation, as opposed to an identification based on the working class the party was meant to represent. This reflected the aim of the Labor Party to take hold of government, which, in turn, meant accepting the logic of managing capitalism, and looking after business owners and the rich. … But the logic of running capitalism clashed with the aspirations of working class Labor Party members and voters for genuine social change. The war exposed those contradictions even more graphically.

The hardships felt by working class people began to open up the divisions between trade union leaders and the Labor Party leadership. The union leaders themselves are no radical layer—their position as paid officials who negotiate with employers exerts a conservative influence on them, and there are plenty of careerists among their ranks. … The unions had been the basis for forming the Labor Party, as the big strikes of the 1890s were defeated. They looked to Parliament and political action to provide some defence from the aggressive employers. But once in Parliament, Labor politicians were more strongly committed to running the system, rather than legislating to defend the workers who voted for them.

Read a book guys! None of this is new because human nature has not changed and history thus always tends to repeat itself.

Those who seek to impose the ‘Progressive’ agenda on the rest are not interested in keeping promises – either to friend or foe. They are interested in one thing and one thing alone: being in charge. Whether the cloak of nationalism in 1915 or the green religion of the 2000s, eventually the betrayals are too much for the populace to bear and out they go for the next two or three elections.

Come to think of it, perhaps we ought to turf the ‘Progressives’ out of the education system as well. Our kids might then learn to read, learn from history, and learn not to believe a word that issues from the mouth of a ‘Progressive’.

Paul Howes finally gets it

Writing in today’s Sunday Telegraph, National Secretary of the AWU Paul Howes finally gets what the rest of us have known for ages … that in the real world the Greens are poison.

The Greens … have carefully built a political brand based on social conscience and concern for the environment. The benign, smiling face of Bob Brown convinced many that the Greens and Labor could co-exist as two sides of a harmonious progressive political movement.

But beneath the marketing spin, the Greens are run by hardliners who believe they know better than anyone else. Beneath the marketing spin, the Greens are fundamentally opposed to the core values of the labour movement. They openly want to crush the jobs of hardworking Australians in the very industries that support our national prosperity.

Of course, it’s all a bit rich coming from a guy who seems to have very little problem with the lowest paid employees in the country handing over their hard-earned so that union officials like his good self can live very lavish lifestyles indeed. [And that’s even before we get to Craig Thompson’s hookers!]

Oh, and then there’s his Party’s alliance with the Greens in order to form government … didn’t he know what the Greens were about before now, or was he in fact willing to put up with it while his own interests were being served? What Mr Howes has finally woken up to seems not to be the damage the Greens are doing to workers, but how his Party’s ‘marriage of convenience’ to them has effectively torn up his ticket to ride the parliamentary gravy train again next year. I think that’s the real message in this classic line:

The Greens juggernaut is now threatening to cause serious long-term damage to the cause of the labour movement and progressive politics in Australia.

If only Mr Howes and people like him would realise that all ‘progressive’ politics is about gaining and maintaining power at the expense of everybody else – friends included. And just as there’s no honour among thieves there are certainly no scruples on the totalitarian side of politics. The ALP is no exception!