Geoff Simmons on a UBI stimulus package for coronavirus, rangatiratanga, local government funding & localism, funding political parties and tech optimism in the face of environmental crisis

Geoff Simmons on a UBI stimulus package for coronavirus, rangatiratanga, local government funding & localism, funding political parties and tech optimism in the face of environmental crisis

This week’s Top 5 comes from Geoff Simmons, leader of The Opportunities Party.

As always, we welcome your additions in the comments below or via email to david.chaston@interest.co.nz.

And if you're interested in contributing the occasional Top 5 yourself, contact gareth.vaughan@interest.co.nz.

1) Should we have a UBI stimulus package for coronavirus?

Labour and National’s response to the coronavirus crisis both seemed incredibly conservative and timid. National is calling for a regulation bonfire, but it isn’t clear what will be different from their last attempt with 2015’s Rules Reduction Taskforce. Meanwhile Labour are set to hand wage subsidies to employers. This looks like it will be complex and full of anomalies - including overlooking growing numbers of contractors.

Overseas the debate is a bit bolder and more innovative. The coronavirus looks to be a one off shock - albeit we don’t know how long it will last and how deep it will go. So why not respond with a one off injection of resource into the economy? Why not give it directly to the people instead of businesses? Calls for a Unconditional Basic Income (UBI) Stimulus - a $1000 one-off payment to everyone - are growing in the United States.

Giving the people money directly allows the labour market to stay responsive, whereas wage subsidies tie people to jobs where there is nothing to do. A UBI Stimulus will also involve a whole lot less bureaucracy to deliver. Sure, some people will get money they don’t need. We can ask them to take a holiday in the Catlins.

This is not without precedent. During the Global Financial Crisis Australia gave everyone $1000. It was controversial at the time but it seems that with the benefit of hindsight, voters are positive:

Ten years on from the global financial crisis, Australian voters are comfortable that the $52bn stimulus package launched by the then Labor government, while politically controversial at the time, kept the country out of recession.

A new poll commissioned by the progressive think-tank, the Australia Institute, in cooperation with Labor’s Chifley Institute, finds 62% of a sample of 1,408 voters believe the stimulus package kept Australia out of recession in contrast to other major developed economies.

This video discusses the UBI stimulus proposal.

2) Rangatiratanga - giving people more say in the services that affect them.

To me the UBI is the ultimate in rangatiratanga. I think this word is feared by a lot of Pakeha because they don’t understand it. And it is a massive concept, for sure. As best I understand it rangatiratanga means having agency, being in control of your own life, being able to paddle your own canoe. I think it is a beautiful concept, and one that all Kiwis would embrace if they understood it. It isn’t about one person having power over another. We can all have rangatiratanga, which in turn makes honouring the Treaty good for all of us.

Like I said, I think UBI is a great example of rangatiratanga. Giving people money involves trusting people to know the best way to spend money in order to make their life better. However, as a country we struggle giving people more say over the services that affect them. It seems our politicians or officials are too interested in holding onto the power that comes with handing out cash.

Whanau Ora is probably the other best current example of rangatiratanga in our public sector, yet even that seems to be being subsumed back into public sector control:

In the 2019 Budget, Whānau Ora received an $80m funding boost over four years. But problems arose when the three agencies who commission Whānau Ora services around the country realised they were only allocated $10 million of that so far. About $12m was set to go to Te Puni Kōkiri to manage and expand Whānau Ora.

On top of the $80 million boost directed to Whānau Ora, an extra $35m was secured in a joint bid with Corrections to trial a Whānau Ora service for families of inmates, Paiheretia Te Muka Tāngata.

But Dame Tariana [Turia], who created the policy when she co-lead the Māori Party, said government agencies, such as Corrections already had large budget pools to draw their services from. She said new money earmarked for Whānau Ora should be directed to the commissioning agencies that were already doing good work. "It's the only policy in government which is successful for Māori people," she said. "Now why wouldn't you continue to fund it and continue to fund it in a way where Māori are able to make a difference for themselves."

It shouldn’t be a surprise, but Whanau Ora shows that giving people more say over the services that affect them works.

3Devolution in practice - local government funding.

Despite our history and the cultural importance of rangatiratanga, New Zealand does poorly when it comes to giving people a greater say in the services that affect them. You only need to look at the state of local government to understand that. We are the most centralised country in the world when it comes to deciding how money is spent. The Provincial Growth Fund is a great example - Shane Jones wants to help the regions but he doesn’t trust them to make their own decisions.

You might argue that we should be centralised because of economies of scale when it comes to administration, but in the modern digital age, that argument is rapidly disappearing. Central Government could, if it chose to, provide common infrastructure that empowers local action. Instead it pushes responsibilities to local government without any resources to do anything about it. Then blames local government for doing a crap job (e.g. with water infrastructure, or building houses).

As NZ Initiative’s Oliver Hartwich succinctly puts it, localism is about:

• Bringing government closer to the people (subsidiarity principle).

• Aligning the incentives local and central government face.

• Ensuring local government promotes economic growth by letting it benefit from it.

• Allowing local government to find local solution to local problems.

• Strengthening public participation and local democracy.

This chart from Infrastructure NZ summarises one aspect of the problem well. Local Government has more than its fair share of infrastructure, but nowhere near its fair share of funding to manage it.

4) Funding political parties.

On the subject of funding it is hard to look past the current political party funding scandals. These seem set to dominate the 2020 election cycle. We are in the incredible position where both sides of the house are under the microscope, and no-one in Parliament seems capable of speaking the plain truth of the situation. The current system is quite clearly a joke. Our reputation as an honest, corruption free country is on the line here.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but when I hear the sums involved I have to ask - is that all it takes to get the ear of politicians in this country? No wonder making real change is so hard.

Danyl McLauchlan says it far more articulately than I could:

Politicians and political operatives like to think of themselves as basically decent people, and the way they deal with the cognitive dissonance of being implicated in our obviously rotten donations system is by convincing themselves that the system is actually good, or at least defensible. But it is not. It’s clear that we need a Commission of Inquiry into political donations: the incidents which come to light through a dumb sequence of hilarious accidents are unlikely to be the only breaches of the law. It’s also clear that neither National, New Zealand First or Labour have any interest in such an outcome or in any meaningful change to the status quo.

Most people who follow politics and pay attention to political stories see things through the prism of party politics. We support one party or leader and oppose their adversaries, along with their supporters. But we don’t seem to know how to react to scandals in which the whole system – including the parties and people we like – are implicated.

The donations scandal looks very different if we see ourselves not as Labour supporters or National voters but as citizens of a country whose politicians are selling us all out, and that we can try and fix this problem by critiquing our own parties, not the ones we oppose. No matter what your politics and beliefs are, they are almost certainly not the values of the corporate fishing industry, or the racing industry, or the Chinese Communist Party, and none of us will get the country we want if our political leaders were to be secretly beholden to those interests instead of ours.

This cartoon pretty much sums up the madness of the situation. 

5) Tech optimism in the face of environmental crisis.

Looking at all the challenges we face, it is easy to get overwhelmed with bad news, so let’s finish with something upbeat!

As I travel around I meet a growing belief amongst some that capitalism is the root of all evil when it comes to our environmental challenges. I’m not sure what the proposed alternative is, but it seems to be a return to peasant farming. I don’t know about you, but that isn’t my idea of a good time. I know enough farmers to know they work bloody hard.

I’m ultimately a tech optimist. I firmly believe that a market-based model - crucially with the right incentives in place - can encourage us to innovate and transition to a truly sustainable lifestyle. It won’t be easy, and we might have to do things very differently than we do now, but I do believe it is possible.

Andrew McAfee has done a lot of work showcasing the good news stories thus far.

The book makes the provocative and counterintuitive argument that two of the most important forces responsible for the change are capitalism and technological progress. In the past this combination caused us to take more and more from the planet over time. Now, it’s letting us get more from less. So what changed? Essentially, we invented the computer, the network, and a host of other digital tools that let us swap atoms for bits [think, for example, of how many different devices and media have vanished into the smartphone]. Quite literally, these inventions have changed the world. They’ve provided the opportunity to save on resources, while capitalism has provided the motive.

The most recent example of this is from the UK where growth has clearly decoupled from carbon emissions and are at their lowest since 1888.

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64 Comments

I think Geoff is confusing Tino Rangatiratanga and Rangatiratanga. The first is self determination, and the second is about leadership. But that is trivial and I don't disagree with his point.

I am however a little sceptical of the outcomes. There are plenty of reports which identify that Whanua Ora is successful, but a look at the detail shows opinion only, and very few if any numbers. For example on comment i saw identified that 55% of respondents who were engaged in Whanau Ora agreed that their circumstances had improved. But there was no substantiation of this. I am an analyst, so I always ask the quests how, what and why, and these are not being answered here.

That aside Geoff makes some good points here.

Interesting commentary. I'm inclined to agree that UBI might be a good way to get money into consumers grubby little mitts and keep them spending. One reason we've not see much action from central banks or central governments is that they aren't working with statistics generated in real time. The amount of fiscal spending currently proposed will only be a fraction of that needed over the next year.

Good Top 5. I especially agree that the way NZ funds local infrastructure is nuts.

funding things is nuts full stop.

You have to guarantee the energy and the raw resources, not just for the build but for the increasing-with-time maintenance

Even before this virus, we had huge problems and nobody in power seemed willing to take bold enough action. All the truly smart kiwis I know support TOP now (except some oldies who still vote tribally). Will NZ's deeply conservative voters resist any real change for another term?

None of the truly smart kiwis I know consider TOP anything other than a joke. Taxation based on deemed income was common under the old Feudal system. The crux of the matter is that Humans are themselves capable of being productive and as such under a deemed income system are the ones who should be subject to taxation based on their deemed productivity (avoids taxing non existent income during down turns, as humans can be productive regardless of the value of money). People do not like poll taxes.

Consider this. A serious pandemic like CONVID-19 strikes. Thousands of businesses across the country are earning little to no income for months on end. Geoff, with TOP’s insane tax regime, would require those struggling businesses that are on the brink of collapse to pay tax based on the imputed/imaginary income that they should theoretically be earning based on value of the businesses or their assets, even though they are earning little to no income at all and can’t afford the tax.

Yes, I’m not making this up - the businesses would be required to pay the same amount of tax based on imaginary income even if they are earning no income at all due to the pandemic. Real smart, Geoff.

But, but... DD we're on average a wealthy nation, look at how our RE pricing, so much so.. no need any consideration for CGT right? - the irony things for the tax payers expensive cancer medication subsidy, those who are on the benefit, have to have 'the same subsidy' with those makes handsomely profit selling their RE without CGT - may be? even after CGT (even if that ever be possible here).. then those with handsome profit on the pocket, can claim for earlier/more expensive cancer medication option. It is a Tui ads suggestion though.

My only problem with UBI is that it creates (for some at least) incentive to have more babies. I do not mind it for loving, caring and responsible parents. Those who go hungry before their children have to suffer and that take their education and upbringing very seriously.

But unfortunately these type of things will exactly motivate the wrong sort of parents (they are not really parents).

A UBI is a universal (i.e., fixed sum) payment to every adult. Nothing to do with how many children an adult might have.

a one off injection of resource into the economy?

That's debt.

Only an economist would call it a resource.

And tech-optimism is silly. Either you have access to energy and resources, or you don't. And entropy never sleeps. But we will know more than peasants of old. We just weren't sapient enough to restrict our population and/or consumption.

That's debt.

MMT explained in one tweet
They also wrongly assume that government deficits create money, when actually they create national debt & growing regressive interest transfers from the many poor to the few rentiers who they seem to be serving. Link

I don't think there has been any species in history which has been 'sapient' enough to restrict it's population.
To artificially restrict your short run population growth based on an unknown long-run outcome would be pretty counter-intuitive to nature.

Also. Tell us what you mean by "entropy never sleeps". I see you throwing entropy around quite a lot in your comments, but it doesn't really make sense in the context of economic systems. That is, although theoretically there could be an infinitesimally smaller that 100% reduction in resources there is no reason why overall entropy should change.. Earth isn't a thermodynamically closed system, is it?

entropy is the trend to chaos from order, in other things besides thermodynamics.

A cup of hot coffee, trends to cold. An unmaintained house trends from pristine to derelict. Neither process involuntarily goes the other way. Both processes are inexorable. Both need inputs, traceable to energy, to stem the trend, indeed both are the result of initial low-entropy energy-application.

The result in energy terms, is almost always high-entropy (low-grade) heat. If physical, low-grade stores of what was a high-grade resource (E-waste vs raw copper, say).

Thermodynamically, we should try and keep Earth balanced in the range which accommodates us. Unfortunately, more low-entropy energy comes in (sunlight) than leaves (radiated heat, curtailed by GHG's). It's a simple, and ultimately life-threatening, equation. But our never-bigger, never-older collection of infrastructure, is a problem too. Eventually, if you merely keep on building the stuff, you take all your available energy (and maybe physical resources, supplied by said energy) just to maintain what you've got. Then the supply(ies) reduce and your triage begins, then accelerates. Hence the decay of US bridges, Wellington pipework, the hollowing of Detroit.

https://wtf.tw/ref/tainter.pdf is a good weekend read.

This doesn't really explain the casual use of 'entropy' in every comment.
The reason why planetary thermodynamics is used as an analogy for economic systems (incorrectly) is on the basis of equilibrium. Closed systems and all that.
However, this is exactly the reason why it makes no sense. While economics assumes finiteness, the nature of planetary thermodynamics doesn't make this assumption with regard to entropy. Anthropogenic entropy can always be radiated out of the system into space. Hence no possibility of thermodynamic death (which again, I believe is what you are alluding to as an analogy?)

I see the points you are trying to make. However, they don't really make sense with the analogies you draw.
I think you conflate short run growth volatility with long run levels a lot. And long run in terms of the scale we are talking about is tens of thousands of years. Not what has happened in the previous 100.

Sorry, I think it's you who don't make sense.

Was that a way to sound clever while obfuscating, or a genuine attempt to discuss?

In terms of short and long, don't forget exponential growth. Growth in resource draw-down, growth in energy-use, growth in GHG emissions from that energy-use, growth of infrastructure (think sprawl) all of which will need growing maintenance with age.

And they all compound. Hence the World3 graph (google it).

"In terms of short and long, don't forget exponential growth."
See. This is exactly the point.
Exponential growth is a short term thing. Take the derivative of any spectral function extrapolate it out at any point - you arrive at a completely incorrect long run level. Which is what you are arguing for with "look we have 'exponential growth' in xx right now."

you explained it perfectly .. but he is not going to get it.

But. Entropy.

I was on a County Council, a while back.

Alkathene pipework would go in new. With time, it would develop breaks. One here, two there. At about year 20, is was cheaper (took less effort, read: less energy) to dig up the whole thing and replace; the breaks had outweighed the 'existing'. The neolib mantra sort of saw this, and legislated 'funding for depreciation'. The joke is that computer-held digits don't guarantee anything; it's the future supply of alkathene and digger-fuel you need to guarantee.

And there we have an example of entropy never sleeping (and I don't give a R's A if you want to call it decay), and an example of economists failing to recognise the disparity between the real planet (resources thereof) and the real future demand driven by decaying infrastructure.

Entropy. Never sleeps.

Don't you know economists are immune to entropy. Actually they don't understand it so they ignore it. Maybe they think they are immune to Coronovirus also.

I don't see where the comment was going. Or where it came from.

Hey ho. Not sure if it was an attenpt to put down (shoot the messenger is common) or a serious query.

Don't get the short-term long term either

"Don't get the short-term long term either"
Exactly the point. Nothing makes sense in the short term. Yet you use it as an argument.

They don't ignore it.
It's just that it is at odds with the notion of scarcity. As above; economics assumes the earth is finite. i.e. a closed system.
Thermodynamically speaking the earth is not a closed system.

So, why the analogy?

Ah, now I get where you are coming from.

Economics does NOT assume the Earth is finite. It tells all the wide-eyed lecure-theatre-fulls that at a certain price point, a substitute will always be found. It covets growth (apparently unlimited, or what's the plan for beyond the last doubling-time? They don't have one. Were never taught that there are Limits).

So it's a bit disingenuous to suggest they do.

And to say the Earth is not thermodynamically closed is disingenuous too. As far as the human species is concerned, energy in has to equal energy out (you seen to have trouble with time and therefore with rates-of) or we either freeze or fry. And we are forcing the AGW rapidly. But other problems will beset us first. As per the Aussie fires, AGW will just make all the other depletions, pollutions and the overpopulation problem, worse. And every piece of equipment, for pumping water or driving somewhere or digging ditches or bulldozing firebreaks has but one future - at some time it will break down, or need maintenance. As those things get older, they will need more and more maintenance. Cuba is the example of energy-starved triage, and worthy of close study. It's where we will go globally. They can tell you all about entropy....

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Power_of_Community:_How_Cuba_Survived_...

I think you take a liberal approach to facts.

You obviously misunderstand what the concept of economic growth actually refers to.

I don't think saying that the earth is an thermodynamic system is disingenuous given that it is a fact.
You saying below "Put a cold cup of coffee on the bench and it never heats up.". Again. demonstrably false and implies that you don't understand what thermodynamic equilibrium is.

But hey. You have an opinion. It may be demonstrably incorrect. But you're entitled to it.

So what does the concept of economic growth refer to? And what are it's physical manifestations in our biosphere?

I think we have another economist there. Bit of denial too, perchance.

And if we can obfuscate.........

Ironic.

obfuscate.
Verb.
Make obscure, unclear, or unintelligible.

And tech-optimism is silly. Either you have access to energy and resources, or you don't. And entropy never sleeps. But we will know more than peasants of old. We just weren't sapient enough to restrict our population and/or consumption.

That riddle is the perfect manifestation of obfuscation. Hence why we needed clarification of what you actually meant.
And... As we see later on in the thread, not even you knew what you meant.

you, sir/madam, are the one doing the obfuscating.

and ?????

I understand fully. Have come across many who started where you are. A lifetime of believing something, of hitching one's mana/standing to something, only to have it discredited. The Church was in the same position, a whiles back.

As for your critique (in italics) that is perfectly clear. Tech in energy terms, can only give you efficiencies. A comuper-controlled, fuel-injected vehicle still rolls to a halt with an empty tank, alle same a Model T Ford. Either you have access to resource and energy or you don't is a simple fact. Entropy - the trend from low to high, towards low-grade heat, towards decay, is indeed inexorable. And if we collapse, or morph (inevitably) to a lower energy and resource throughput, we will indeed be better off than those at the same level were on the way up - we know more. And given the repercussions of overshoot, we clearly weren't sapient enough to avoid overshooting.

WTF is unclear about that? Answer: nothing. Reason for your obfiscation? I'm guessing fear (having come across it a lot). That's OK, it's just a stage.

The pure definition is a growth in production of goods and services.
The mistake is made when you don't decouple economic growth from resource draw-down. Which is obviously the case here. Pretty much what #5 is demonstrating.
You can choose to believe "tech-optimism is silly", but that's merely further ignorance of reality.

no, sorry. It is you - and economics generally - who ignore reality.

You can trade virtually until the cows come home (oh dear, there goes another reality...) as far as I'm concerned. The amount of financial churn vastly outweighs real work; real stuff done. The problem comes when the churners and the virtual earners want to but something real - bog roll, for instance. At that point, they are restricted by reality, including the laws of physics.

Tech optimism cannot reduce the energy required to life x tons y metres. You can reduce rolling resistance, nudge up against the carnot problem and control the burn, but a laden truck going up a hill has an efficiency limit. And de-coupling claims - as per the emissions nonsense presented - are disingenuous.

It's when you virtual types want to purchase processed parts of the planet (processed resources, using energy) that you're in trouble. And there's no other source of anything.

Only an economist thinks you can decouple economic growth from resource drawdown
If money/ debt/ wealth isn't a claim on a future resource, what value is it?
Eventually the future buckles under the claims...

Am I still able to use LOL, or is that old hat? Not sure how you come to the conclusion increasing economic growth (increasing resource use), can be decoupled from increasing resource use? Guess you have to be an economist to understand that equation? Economic activity is basically a measurement of energy and resource flows through society. Graph 5 demonstrates declining CO2 emissions, as would be expected with a shift from more polluting coal, to less polluting gas. While being environmentally a net benefit, it has more to do with the depletion of UK coal reserves. Luckily North sea oil and gas came on stream to save UK economy, after a period of stagnation. Now that too is depleting. So what to do? Install renewables, retrofit buildings for efficiency, export carbon/energy intensive industries to someone elses carbon account, use bio energy, which is CO2 intensive, but by accounting slight of hand isn't included in inventories? Where are the emissions from the era of mass people and goods transit on this graph? Hint. They aren't! Then, what to do? Once all the low hanging fruit have had all the juice squeezed out and the economy still demands more? What the graph shows, is more a shift down the energy density curve. What it doesn't signify is a decoupling of the economy from energy use. The period on the graph with steep decline in emissions, oddly corresponds to the era of economic contraction. Go figure?

A lot of what you say is like "your death starts the moment you were born and it is coming closer and closer with any second you breath". But the reverse is also true, from ever increasing chaos comes order :) at least this is the "Creation" story of many old religions and the more chaos you have your are closer to order. It is crazy but it makes sense the same way entropy makes sense i suppose.

Nope.

Although the creation story and growth-lauding economics have much in common.

Sorry, but it's always one way traffic, as far as we are concerned. Put a cold cup of coffee on the bench and it never heats up. Put a broken record in it's jacket, it'll never play again. Real sustainability - long-term maintainablility - is a hard act indeed. No civilisation has yet pulled it off, and this is the first and only time we can run the experiment at global level.

Actually, if you put a cold cup of coffee on the bench the rate at which it heats up / cools down will be based on the ambient temperature. Given that we are talking about concepts such as entropy I will postulate that cold coffee refers to coffee with an absence of energy in it (0 kelvin), the coffee will heat very rapidly on any room temperature bench and then trend towards ambient temperature whenever ambient temperature changes. The lag being due to thermal mass and thermal resistance (something has to hold the coffee).

Huh? Relevance of your comment is? All matter in the universe will ultimately trend to 0degK. Rather than trying to be smart, why not think for a second, past human hubris and try to understand the roll of entropy in the obvious decline in environmental and societal health of our (technological) civilisation?

Better refer that notion to the core around the centre of Planet Earth, which is not gonna get to 0°K anytime in the next few billion years.....

You'll be adding that low-grade heat to the atmosphere then?

It's amazing what the need to believe, will do to an otherwise thoughtful intellect. One with solar panels at that.....

https://dothemath.ucsd.edu/2011/08/recipe-for-climate-change/

Great thread there powerdown. Seem to be a couple of geniuses here trying to pick holes in reality, as happens when your faith is challenged. :-)

otherwise known as catabolic collapse...(already) coming to a community near you.

https://www.resilience.org/stories/2011-01-20/onset-catabolic-collapse/

Kia Ora Geoff, from a certain point of view Rangatirotanga could be viewed as liberalism. However, the historical colonial pakeha mindset is indelibly framed by the deeply patronising and ultimately dehumanising if not outright genocidal control of the church. In particular, the anglican/protestant branches of christianity and the meddling missionaries that came with it that underpinned colonialistic conquest of Aoteroa...therefore its hard for most pakeha to realise they can actually determine their own destiny too. This is because for generations they too have been colonised by the greed, ruthlessness and sheer murderous actions of the christian church and its attendant benefactors the British Monarchy.
Chop off the monarchy's head and breakfree from the tyranny of the churches and set all ourselves free. That is the way ahead for our country.

Sorry but just rubbish! This is not about colonisation it is about Government and the right of people to make their own choices. Democracy is currently the best way to do that, but it is also about individuals exercising the choices they have.

While i did not say it in my earlier comment another concern I have with Whanau Ora is that it is an extension of colonisation based on an underlying belief that Maori are somehow inferior and unable to be trusted to make their own choices for the better. That is racism cloaked in a korowhai.

My personal view is that Maori are a superior race who are being shackled to past injustices by political elements who just want more and more funding but don't actually deliver any real good. For Whanau Ora, which has been going since 2011, but when will we see a significant outcome in Maori health, education and employment statistics? Nine years and counting.

Within our democracy any and every individual, regardless of race creed or colour has the ability for self-determination. We all get the same education and the same opportunities in society. A lot of the differences in outcomes are due to attitudes, sometimes of the parents.

I disagree, by definition, if you have been colonised you have been conquered, likely dispossesed of your assets and most certainly not able to act in your previous free state. On democracy, if we could lose the queens head and become a republic, that would be a good start.

If you have democracy the head of state can be changed at anytime and their power and patronage continuously checked. So look at the democracies which are monarchies and compare with the similar countries that are democracies but republics. There is not much difference. Take the EU's monarchies: Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden are they really worse than Italy, Poland, France, Germany, etc?
Chopping off the head of the head state in USA, Russia and China might well be progress. Anyway NZ is a peaceful place and prince Charles becoming Head of State may offend many but the obvious replacement as a figurehead president would be president Winston.

Not necessarily. It is disingenious to simply use the term democracy to describe how all those countries are administered as they all have widely differing governmental structures and certainly more or less political corruption to go with it. What I boil down my argument to is that there are many alternative means to run a society than simply democracy, infact I would almost go so far as to say that democracy by fixed term vote is no longer appropriate given our succesive failures to master it. Lately I have been wondering if a crowd sourced form of democracy could be created where in realtime via online connection government policy is created and influenced by the citizens of the country in question, no more 3 term bollocks...just thumbs up or thumbs down... sounds familiar doesn't it?

You are interested in real democracy not representative democracy. So am I. Some issues are very complicated and we defer to an expert - the surgeons who worked on my heart asked my permission to go ahead but didn't ask for my advice on how to do their work. With democracy when there is an issue that is simply a matter of morality and therefore we are all experts our representatives do not consult us: abortion, capital punishment, immigration, homosexuality, slapping children, etc.

Sorry double post

And of course, the UK has merely offshored it's manufacturing.

That is the only reason for the drop-off in emissions.

Although we might be seeing an overall drop-off now

Bit disingenuous, Geoff. You're capable of better than that.

Totally agree. Emissions should be counted where they can be controlled which is in the country of consumption. Britain has exported its heavy industry; very few iron and steel mills now compared but the British still consume iron and steel.
A similar argument applies to NZ's emissions - about half are agriculture but the products produced are sold overseas. These figures should not be counted in the NZ totals; if NZ stops producing milk the rest of the world will just produce more to replace the shortfall.
Maybe the best solution is to count both the produced and the consumed but give most weight to the latter. That way the fossil fuel used to produce plastic junk items in China for sale in our $2 shops will be counted against NZ not China.

Absolutely, just because you outsource your pollution does not mean it isn't yours

Under Thatcher the country moved away from coal fired energy production, huge investment in offshore wind production has helped.

She did have a degree in Chemistry; she understood that in science unlike politics wishful thinking doesn't help. Still UK has a long way to go and the easier options have been taken.

Like all good neolibs/cons, once Thatcher understood exponential growthism and action on enviromental destruction were incompatible, she abandoned reality, for her faith. https://theecologist.org/2018/oct/17/who-drove-thatchers-climate-change-...

Offshore wind even now is only 8% of total UK energy.

Thatcher 'got' AGW, interestingly. I guess even awful people have to have a good facet.

Yes it is surprising but true Margaret Thatcher warned the world about climate change 30 years ago.
https://www.margaretthatcher.org/document/107817

Its higher then 8% and is climbing.

I was referencing offshore wind and it was 2018. You must be one of those who think we can morph to renewables and carry on? We will end up on renewables (they're all solar-derived) but we won't be doing BAU on them. That is the crucial point: https://www.withouthotair.com/

Oh I thought you where rubbishing the energy industry, "And of course, the UK has merely off shored it's manufacturing.That is the only reason for the drop-off in emissions."

#5 - Was skimming the AFR (or maybe The Australian) on the way back from Hobart a week ago. CSIRO is on the verge (with the UK IIRC) of commercialising a cattle feed with a seaweed inclusion, which tests at 0% methane emissions. Yes, zero. Of course, having 100% control on what the beefies eat is needed (feedlots, barns, the Euro way) but this is a significant example of exactly what Geoff is talking about. And have just finished reading Matt Ridley (Rational Optimist) who is, similarly, techno-optimistic - the theme of the book is that ideas, given the opportunity to meet and mate, drive prosperity. But that's only if we don't talk ourselves into a Feudal Funk in the meantime.....irrationally.

You're not that stupid, Waymad.

That seaweed is part of a food-web. An already-full food-web (apart from the part of it our rapacious species has decimated and in an increasing number of cases, wiped out. One of the dangers, food-wise, it that the hoovering-up of protien from the sea collapses completely, transferring the load to land-based extraction.

Rational is fine. Optimism is fine. But reality is what we must be discussing. Hows the thorium sieving going? Two molecules so far? Three? How much energy have those three cost you? Just askn.

How did Ridley go with Northern Rock? All good? Saw it coming? Didn't need a bailout fro the taxpayer?

Plenty of intelligent input here, but from field observation? the local/Maori values tend to be artificially carried on into the modern world of thinking. It's eventually will die down by it's own simple matter that somewhat always been made to be more complicated, blur into verbal diarrhea full of it's own philosophical conflicts (remind me to evolution of several religious holy books) .... and in the end it's about their absorption into the world stage.Technology area not one of them. Check it; on Astronomy, Electronics/Electrical/Computing, Maths, sciences, engineering, pharmacology etc. - Unless they're super unique & beneficial for the world.