This site represents my efforts in debunking / mocking leftist terminologies and ideas in general and within the Australian scene in particular.
Due to lack of experience in matters of web design, there may be irregular changes herein. It is very much a 'work - in - progress.'
Diogenes was a Greek philosopher who was famous for wandering around Corinth with nothing except a lamp.
When asked about the lamp he would say, "I am looking for an honest man". His pupils founded the philosophical school of Stoicism which existed for many centuries.
I am still looking for an honest person. Their gender is irrelevant.
I haven't found many of these rare animals amongst the media, the economists and the politicians. I have stuck to the work that feeds and clothes me and haven't had to resort to living in a barrel like Diogenes did.
Recently, I was roundly criticised on ABC's The Drum for attacking the Government's tax approach to climate change. My invariable comment on the issue has been to say that I haven't got a clue about the science.
After 40 years of practice and major legal cases that sometimes went as far as the High Court, I do have some knowledge of our taxation system. My admission of cluelessness seems to have offended or even enraged a lot of people. They seem to think that they either understand the science or accept the "science consensus" and that every other decent person should know about it or take the consensus view.
I spoke to Senator Kim Carr some months ago and said that I was clueless. He sent me along to the CSIRO. They told me a lot of stuff and referred me to their publications. The first problem was that I didn't understand the studies. The second problem was that I didn't have a PhD in science specialising in an appropriate science discipline.
The third problem is that I do understand and am deeply sceptical of econometric models that purport to predict the future of 2020 or 2050 or 2100. Assumptions are, in economics and all other fields of academic endeavour, (I did not say knowledge) a very risky business.
My fourth problem is that a climate change industry exists which is benefiting to the tune of many billions of dollars from government policy. The industry hasn't produced much at all up until now. That may not be a problem, but there are many other industries which aren't receiving government handouts. Our Productivity Commission has ruthlessly eliminated assistance to industries for over 40 years. I know because I worked there in 1975 and was the project director on iron and steel, the introduction of color TV and a range of other manufacturing industries. I then worked for importers, mostly the car importers, for the next 20 years.
For the past 15 years I have worked, off and on, for the ATO as an independent expert on multinational taxes and worked for the multinationals during the same period. This is another area I know a lot about.
So my definition of "clueless" might be a bit different to the definition of other people.
I have read the 600 or so responses to my climate change articles and stand by my view that an emissions trading scheme is a great way for some people to make money out of a new type of derivative. Historically every auction the government has initiated (e.g. for cars, textiles, clothing and footwear import quotas and for pay TV licensing) has ended up in a multi-million dollar rort by smarties who transferred money from the community to themselves with help from the government.
The Government has, of course, also walked away from 40-odd years of consensus on industry policy and not picking winners. Industries involved in climate change legislation and product development are big winners.
In my last article in The Drum I advanced the propositions that Gillard had specifically said she would not introduce a carbon tax before the next election, then after the election she said that she would. Abbott said the Coalition would unravel the tax if the Coalition won government. Then, Minister for Climate Change Greg Combet said it couldn't be unravelled. I don't think defeated governments should leave unexploded legislative landmines for the next government. It is an amoral approach to democratic government.
These propositions are all true.
I would like to be told why this Government has the moral high ground to ignore what its leader said they will do. Perhaps the view is that if an issue is important enough they are entitled to change their strategy, but to ignore the fact that they originally said they would do the opposite of what they are doing.
I believe that the massive policy shift implicit in the climate change measures needs a mandate from the Australian people.
I also said that I expect the Gillard Government to be defeated. That is not a hope. That is my expectation. If this happens, then the emissions trading scheme with a fixed price (which is simply another name for a tax) will not survive for even two years. That is simply a grossly inefficient major tax that will create substantial uncertainty for industry. The adventure will cost the Australian economy at least $30 billion for, ultimately, nothing.
This issue has resulted in a parliamentary melee that goes far beyond the petty denigration and sniping that might be regarded as acceptable. Our Prime Minister has descended to the gutter and is embarking upon a style of debating triumphalism that doesn't match either the likely outcome or what we expect from our leader.
I hope Australians are not divided by an issue that is not really about the survival of the planet in the foreseeable future. Have you seen the water in Eildon Weir? Do we have an econometric model that accounts for that? We need to take a deep breath and stop the denigration that has been obvious at the highest levels of our government.
Martin Feil is an economist specialising in Customs, logistics, ACCC actions, industry policy and international trade related matters, including transfer pricing.