Mexican unproductive talkfest.

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marcopolo
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Another hugely expensive, international conference has concluded in Mexico. Better stage managed than Copenhagen, but just as unproductive and pointless!

These talkfests are just an excuse for various politicians to look like they are doing something while actually achieving zero!

Like a scene from a Kafka novel, 'Environment Ministers', attendant public service courtiers, (all looking important and pretending to be very, very serious), revolve around the world on tax-payer funded aircraft to exotic luxury locations. (I would be more impressed if the next conference was held in a polluted, Rustbelt city located in the grim despair of the UK Midlands, US, Russia etc, or even the Gulf, opposite the BP spill! The locals could do with the trade!) ,

The Mexico conference, attracted the usual gaggle of Government funded Climatologists', 'Experts Speakers', 'Delegates' (from increasingly dubious and obscure organisations), demonstrators, crazies, (that category includes the delegates from Bolivia and Venezuela, as well as the less harmful species), and a burgeoning contingent of media, security analysts, etc.. all flown in at taxpayer expense (and harm to the environment),to achieve an inane result, everyone knew before the conference commenced!

One blessing this time was absence of the odious little Australian Ex-PM , thereby removing one grandstanding megalomaniac and giving the Bolivians a chance at crazydom!

Sigh, is this really the best we can do?

Platitudes and inaction give opponents of such conferences, including increasinly vocal sceptics, credibility when they claim the whole thing is beat-up, and such conferences are just gravy trains and photo-opportunities.

The lack of interest by the general public in this latest talk-fest is profound. It's evidence that Joe Public is losing interest in GW/CC. Although curiously, Joe Public still seems to accept the science of GW/CC in a detached manner, but is cynical about any ability to effect change.

In my own small nation of Australia, the Green Party seems to have reached a Zenith of influence with the last election, when due to voter dissatisfaction with major political parties, the Greens were able to secure a deal to support the centre-left Labour party in a minority government.

Since then the Greens have proved to be pests, forcing an increasingly desperate Prime minister to alienate her own supporters in order to pander to the whims of two 'Green' politicians, representing a tiny constituency, simply maintain a slender majority in parliament.

Having learnt a lesson, in the following Victorian State election, the centre-right Liberal Party, refused to seek any support from the Greens, and attacked the Greens head on, highlighting socialist aspects of the 'green' agenda. The centre-left Labour Pparty also abandoned the 'Greens'. As a result, voters rejected the 'Greens' and the Green vote disappeared s a cogent force. If that trend continued in the federal election, the "Greens third force' will become once again a marginalised party of protesters,idealists and cranks.

This trend is occurring all over the Western World.

It is a natural result of a concept/movement becoming trendy and fashionable as a protest vote among youthful voters, but as economic factors regain importance and the hyperbole dies away, the voters move back to support issues self-interest.

The heroic Green rebel, evolves into just another cynical politician.

Good grief, there is more support and interest for the circus of 'Oprah on tour', than for the Mexico talk-fest.

The spectacle of a formerly respected Green political leader, star-struck at being included in a photo-op with the American TV talk show host, Oprah. The fact that this US celebrity arrived with a fleet of aircraft, with a huge contingent of utterly unnecessary people, to participate in an environmentally harmful and extremely wasteful extravaganza,for no valid purpose, shows the level of 'Green ideological bankruptcy!

Cheap popularity, and the trappings of office, are always the baubles that corrupt radical politicians.

Manufacturers and investors in 'green' technology, must begin to consider what sort of of investment environment will exist, if as a result of the publics lessening interest in 'green' politics, governments begin to reduce (or fail to increase) subsidies for green technology.

Competition between PRC and the West, may prove the spur to 'green' investment. The PRC is uncompetitive in many areas, yet has enormous supplies of rare earth and a population willing to buy products considered unsafe or too crappy for West standards. But these products may evolve into the innovations of the future. With a huge and largely closed domestic market to fund the lead time in development, the PRC may force the West to invest in new technology just to remain competitive.

Trade issues, including currency reform, increasing competition between the US/Europe led west, and the PRC, for third world resources, and markets, are far more relevant to the planets health, than talk-fests in Mexico.

__________________

marcopolo

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PJD
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Points: 1240
Re: Mexican unproductive talkfest.

Marco,

From the neoliberal market-fundamentalist religion that you preach, I would have assumed that you were a USAn of the Tea Party persuasion.

It seems the Ghosts of Ronnie Raygun, Ayn Rand, and Thatcher (yeah I know, the latter is technically still alive) are stalking the rest of the English-speaking world big time...

Paul D.

marcopolo
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Points: 837
Re: Mexican unproductive talk-fest.

PJD wrote:

Marco,From the neoliberal market-fundamentalist religion that you preach, I would have assumed that you were a USAn of the Tea Party persuasion.It seems the Ghosts of Ronnie Raygun, Ayn Rand, and Thatcher (yeah I know, the latter is technically still alive) are stalking the rest of the English-speaking world big time...Paul D.

Paul,

Apart from name calling, and stereotyping, what's it that you actually disagree with?

Just to clarify, I am not a supporter of the US 'Tea Party' movement, nor Ayn Rand!

It is quite wrong to include either Ronald Reagen, or Margret Thatcher in the same category. Both the latter were pragmatic, and highly effective politicians, who dealt with the situation's and circumstances they inherited from the mismanagement of previous administrations.

Although others have tried to make both into ideologues, they were not. Both were simply pragmatic political administrators dealing with problems arising from the era. Since neither is in power currently, and world circumstances have changed dramatically, it's unfair, and unproductive, to assume what policies they might advocate today.

The defect in leftist political thinking, is it's need a to address every circumstance with an ideological doctrine, usually with a moral overtone. This control-freak mentality renders the left unable to deal pragmatically with administrative problems, most of which, if left alone, will sort themselves out. The entire leftist thinking is based, like theocracies, on a desire to create security and certainty by rigid adherence to an ill-conceived ideological doctrine, never mind how inappropriate to the circumstance.

But I digress, sorry!

Back to your point, what is it you disagree with?

What brilliant, imaginative, solutions emerged from the Mexican/Copenhagen talk-fests?
Exactly what was achieved that could not have been achieved by tele-conference, or the conference held in a more appropriate location?
Is political support for the 'Green Parties" increasing or decreasing?

You may not like my observations, indeed you may be a fervent Green supporter and believe that what I am observing should not be the case, but if you can't show me where I am inaccurate, then name calling and stereotyping simply give credence to the fact that I'm correct.

__________________

marcopolo

PJD
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Points: 1240
Re: Mexican unproductive talk-fest.

Sorry, probably a cultural misunderstanding here. In the US, it is the right who are the um-pragmatic ideologues.

In the US, the "left" (which is rendered invisible in our news media) proposes pragmatic things like public provision of health care for all (an estimated 35-40K USAns die each year due to lack of medical care because they can't afford it), a secure public retirement system, a livable minimum wage, the right to organize a union, public transportation and intercity rail service, carbon taxes, at the wellhead and tipple, to limit CO2 emissions (NOT the cap-and-trade shell-game and commodification of the atmosphere), constant improvements in environmental regulations to reflect the state of knowledge. We can pay for this with a steeply progressive income tax, which has the side benefit of removing the social inequities that are at the root of violent crime.

Also, abolish the death penalty, and rehabilitate our prisoners through education, jobs, and enforcement of anti-racial discrimination laws. Right now, the US has 25% of all the incarcerated persons in the world - a prison population 1.5 times larger than China. Most are in prison for things like possession of small amounts of marijuana, while black (whites just pay a fine or get probation).

And, almost forgot; get out of Iraq, Afghanistan, and the 700 other places the US has a military presence. Dismantle the near-trillion dollar US military-machine.

I suspect that in Australia, there is nothing controversial about much or most of the above list, but up here, anyone proposing such things would be regarded as a socialist-extremist. At any rate, the news media keeps the public from ever even hearing the above proposals.

The right's obstinate ideology is dragging the US back to the robber-baron era.

The climate conference was held in Cancun because Cancun put in the winning proposal to hold it there. The presence of a remotely located resort where the immense security needed that so the economic elites and technocrats can keep civil-society out, and would not paralyze the city, as the G20 did in Pittsburgh in 2009 and Toronto in 2010. They also like the sunny climate.

As far as a lack of accomplishments, that is easy to do when the by-far largest emitter of CO2 per capita basically boycotts the conference.

marcopolo
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Re: Mexican unproductive talk-fest.

PJD wrote:

Sorry, probably a cultural misunderstanding here. In the US, it is the right who are the um-pragmatic ideologues.

In the US, the "left" (which is rendered invisible in our news media) proposes pragmatic things like public provision of health care for all (an estimated 35-40K USAns die each year due to lack of medical care because they can't afford it), a secure public retirement system, a livable minimum wage, the right to organize a union, public transportation and intercity rail service, carbon taxes, at the wellhead and tipple, to limit CO2 emissions (NOT the cap-and-trade shell-game and commodification of the atmosphere), constant improvements in environmental regulations to reflect the state of knowledge. We can pay for this with a steeply progressive income tax, which has the side benefit of removing the social inequities that are at the root of violent crime.

Also, abolish the death penalty, and rehabilitate our prisoners through education, jobs, and enforcement of anti-racial discrimination laws. Right now, the US has 25% of all the incarcerated persons in the world - a prison population 1.5 times larger than China. Most are in prison for things like possession of small amounts of marijuana, while black (whites just pay a fine or get probation).

And, almost forgot; get out of Iraq, Afghanistan, and the 700 other places the US has a military presence. Dismantle the near-trillion dollar US military-machine.

Whew!

Well, I did ask! Thank you for your explanation!

Actually, there is a bit of a gap between most Western parliamentary democracies and the USA. Essentially, most advanced democracies have politically evolved until there is very little difference between the centre-right and centre-left policies. More of emphasis and personalities than ideological divide.

The problem with the US is the lack of a centre-right, economically Conservative, but socially progressive party. I suppose the Democrats come closest, but the system seems eliminate the RFK's.

In his own way, Ronald Reagan strived to follow this ideal, with limited success.

The problem the left encounters is a old fashioned belief that the failed policies of socialism can somehow be made to work to achieve beneficial social reform in the 21st century.

Sadly, the USA is the only modern western nation to retain the barbaric relic of the death penalty.

Definitely, US drug policy is insane! Suiting neither the individual rights/own destiny beliefs of the right, nor the effective harm minimisation policies of the left. The anti-drug (anti-pleasure) lobby of the US would appear to be foundered more on puritanism than political philosophy!

Although universal health care sounds good, it's very difficult, (as the British will tell you) to instigate. This is not to say that basic health care is not desirable, just that an idealist approach winds up delivering very little at a prohibitive cost when delivered by the government.

Probably, the best system is where the private sector delivers the services, and the government is a prudent customer. But the US is a huge market and not easy to organise efficiently.

USA law guarantees the right to form unions, however it outlaws compulsory unionism. The US is not alone in believing that compulsory unionism can become oppressive and disruptive. Serving political of even organised crime objectives, rather than genuinely protecting workers rights.

Quote:

Constant improvements in environmental regulations to reflect the state of knowledge

Agreed, it's a government duty to regulate for the commonweal. Not prohibit, but regulate.

Now is when you confuse economics with morality. The two are not necessarily compatible! Just because you believe that 'public transportation and intercity rail service, carbon taxes, at the wellhead and tipple, to limit CO2 emissions (NOT the cap-and-trade shell-game and commodification of the atmosphere), . We can pay for this with a steeply progressive income tax, which has the side benefit of removing the social inequities that are at the root of violent crime' should be paid for by the taxpayer don't really workout in practise.

Like all leftist thinking, you're great at spending other peoples money! I agree with prison reform, most of the problems of USA society are created by the ridiculous belief that you can solve social problems with laws. (Oh, and really, really harsh sentencing!) The desire for punishment in the US (along with gun ownership) seems to be a hangover prom the Puritan Founding Fathers.

But you can't achieve a better society with a progressive tax system. It just doesn't work! (except possibly in some very small, rich nations) The wealthiest, most law abiding nation on earth, is Switzerland. The Swiss have a low flat tax rate!

Whether the US likes it or not, since the second world war it has become the leader and defender of the free world. Mistakes and blunders aside, it simply cannot abandon that role without descending into the sort of well-meaning, but undeceive humiliation of the Carter administration. During that era the US abandoned friends, created enemies, and failed to placate enemies.

The USA must prepare for the coming economic and trade war with an emerging PRC and allies. If you guarantee a high minim wage in the US, who will pay for it? Industry? Sorry, everyone just moved offshore! Get rid of the Military? Hell that's just about the only industry still employing US citizens!

All these concepts sound good, and when you advocate social reform through liberty, or wise expenditure, great! But ill-conceived leafiest obsolete socialist economic models don't really work! (they never really did)

Tax US industry with massive carbon taxes?, kill the coal industry?, that won't work, it will just shift pollution to India, PRC, Russia etc.. Same Planet?

It's all a question of balance. Economic policy looks so easy, until you try to implement idealistic economic policies and reap the unintended consequences.

Quote:

The climate conference was held in Cancun because Cancun put in the winning proposal to hold it there. The presence of a remotely located resort where the immense security needed that so the economic elites and technocrats can keep civil-society out, and would not paralyse the city, as the G20 did in Pittsburgh in 2009 and Toronto in 2010. They also like the sunny climate.

Hmmm...I can't really see violent protests from the sceptics, can you? Mess up the bow ties!

Quote:

As far as a lack of accomplishments, that is easy to do when the by-far largest emitter of CO2 per capita basically boycotts the conference.

Oh c'mon, Australia sent ex-union leader, and Environment Minister Greg Combet to Cancun. Better organised, but less interesting than the previous minister, Ex-Rock Star, Peter Garret.

Actually, the whole venture is pointless since the PRC, India and allies are never going to agree, or obey any resolutions. At least the US openly objects, knowing once agreed it would have to keep it's commitment. The others would just cheerfully cheat!

Although we see somethings differently, I share many of your values. Perhaps being closer to economic decision making breeds cynicism.

But it's good to exchange views!

__________________

marcopolo

PJD
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Re: Mexican unproductive talk-fest.

Thanks for the response, but I can't let these items go by:

"just that an idealist approach winds up delivering very little at a prohibitive cost when delivered by the government."

The totally private system of medical insurance used by the US, is, by far, the most expensive in the world. Per capital medical expenditures ($7400 per year) in the US are more than twice those of Australia or Canada and 2 1/2 times those of the "socialistic big-government" UK system. And yet, 50 million USAns have no coverage of medical expenses at all, and up to 40,000 die because of it and the next of kin or survivors face bankruptcy.

Also, as far as you "socialism" never works, why are all the nations with the highest UN Human development rankings invariably rather "socialist" ones like Norway, or Sweden?

What has changed so that progressive tax rated no longer work. In the booming 1950's, the US's top marginal income tax rate was 91 percent, through the booming 1960 it still was 70%. What has changed? the stupendous power wielded by The Wealthy, that's what.

It is shame to see so many people outside the US - notably Canada and Australia - falling for the "libertarian" gospel of the capitalists, when they can see for themselves how well it works by where the US itself is headed. Where are they headed? Go visit some unregulated capitalist oligarchies like El Salvador, Honduras or Colombia. Or save the carbon emissions, and in the spirit of the holidays, just read some Charles Dickens.

marcopolo
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Re: Mexican unproductive talk-fest.

PJD wrote:

Thanks for the response, but I can't let these items go by:

The totally private system of medical insurance used by the US, is, by far, the most expensive in the world. Per capital medical expenditures ($7400 per year) in the US are more than twice those of Australia or Canada and 2 1/2 times those of the "socialistic big-government" UK system. And yet, 50 million USAns have no coverage of medical expenses at all, and up to 40,000 die because of it and the next of kin or survivors face bankruptcy.

Australia does not have a socialist system of health-care. It has a private system, with a government system of health-care underpinning basic health services. The British system is very basic, expensive and of generally poor standard. In fact, the British NSH system would have collapsed, but for the massive injection of private funding and facilities by the Thatcher reforms of the '80's.

Sweden and Norway are always extolled as successful socialist nations, yet both countries, have steadily moved away from the socialist model while maintaining an efficient public service. I think you are confusing socialism, (the nationalisation of the means of production, distribution and exchange), with countries whose population demographics and history, encourages governance with some aspect of a welfare state. What works in Sweden, or Switzerland, would be most unlikely to work in hugely different nations, such as the US.

But the health-care model that seems to work the best, is where the tax-payer funds a basic health-care system, (privately operated), where the government as the customer, can ensure efficient use of the tax-payers money. Coupled with a subsidised private health-care system paid for by the patients private health insurance. This would appear to offer the advantages of a safety net, yet allowing a standard of excellence and personal choice.

This system works well in education.

Sigh, let me explain why progressive tax doesn't work. To be brutal, the poor don't pay tax, the rich can afford to not to pay tax! Only those in the middle, who tend to be the most productive members of the community, are caught bearing the tax burden.

Progressive tax works a bit like this; Three guys enter a bar together, each order a beer, the barmaid asks the first how much he earns, "$500k per year," he replies proudly, The bar maid calculates and charges him $50 a beer, AH he says, but I'm paying with my expense account and I work for GM. After much calculation she charges him 20cents, The next replies he is unemployed, so he gets a beer and $5 dollars, the last one is a teacher and only earns $50,000, so he is charged $10. By this time the barmaid is so busy she needs ten accountants and 15 staff just to work out the prices! A plumber enters, (cash economy) and buys everyone several rounds of tax free dollars!

Well, maybe a bit exaggerated, but you get my meaning!

You don't need to read Charles Dickens, and earlier writer, Adam Smith, will explain it all. There are no other economies except capitalist economies left, with the possible exception of North Korea! Every nation embraces some measure of free enterprise. What you are really referring to, is the need for a free enterprise system to create and maintain consumers. This is essential for modern capitalism, the rich can't get rich in an mass-industrialised society, unless even the poorest can afford to purchase mass manufactured goods.

The US has been subsidising, not the poor of it's own nation, but the third world, when it exports jobs and industry to low cost labour countries. It's this policy that causes chaos in the US financial system, when government policy encouraged home ownership, yet the same government exported the home owner's job abroad!

__________________

marcopolo

PJD
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Re: Mexican unproductive talk-fest.

Thanks for the rejoinder.

But, they were rejoinders to some other imagined person's points, not mine.

I tried to point out that the US's totally privatized, every man-for-himself health care system is both the most expensive in the world, and yet yields mediocre outcomes overall. I specifically stated that it was 2.5 times more expensive, per person, than the British NHS. Yet your response seems to imply that the NHS is more expensive, with poorer outcomes. This is not correct.

I understand that under the prevalent CA, AU, NZ, JP, EU syatems the health care itself - hospitals and doctors - are private businesses (but must accept government-set fees for payment), and even the insurance providers may be quasi-private (in the manner of regulated electric or water utilities here in the US). That is not the issue. I am a proponent of single payer tax-funded, public health insurance for all, or as US conservatives call it, "socialistic" health care insurance. It seems we are in agreement about this. The Australian or Canadian Medicare systems would indeed be denounced as "socialism" in the US. And, as the zeitgeist of market-fundamentalism moves even more deeply into your country, it will come to be called "socialism" in Australia too, and will be dismantled in the form of tax cuts, funding-starvation, and "austerity" measures. But by that time, you and your friends at the country club will be in full agreement with its dismantling.

And as a final note, you seem to have a condescending style of rhetoric that I find quite maddening - the same "air of superiority" style that seems endemic among The Rich.

That is all for this discussion. Good day!

marcopolo
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Re: Mexican unproductive talk-fest.

PJD wrote:

I tried to point out that the US's totally privatised, every man-for-himself health care system is both the most expensive in the world, and yet yields mediocre outcomes overall.

True, I agree that the US health-care system, delivers an expensive and unsatisfactory outcome for everyone. yet at the top end, the USA has a standard of excellence surpassed by no other nation.

Quote:

I understand that under the prevalent CA, AU, NZ, JP, EU systems the health care itself - hospitals and doctors - are private businesses (but must accept government-set fees for payment), and even the insurance providers may be quasi-private (in the manner of regulated electric or water utilities here in the US). That is not the issue. I am a proponent of single payer tax-funded, public health insurance for all, or as US conservatives call it, "socialistic" health care insurance. It seems we are in agreement about this. The Australian or Canadian Medicare systems would indeed be denounced as "socialism" in the US. And, as the zeitgeist of market-fundamentalism moves even more deeply into your country, it will come to be called "socialism" in Australia too, and will be dismantled in the form of tax cuts, funding-starvation, and "austerity" measures. But by that time, you and your friends at the country club will be in full agreement with its dismantling.

And as a final note, you seem to have a condescending style of rhetoric that I find quite maddening - the same "air of superiority" style that seems endemic among The Rich.

I apologise if I seem condescending, it was not my intention.

Sometimes US advocates for socialist or 'welfare state' systems forget, that citizens of nations like Australia, New Zealand UK etc.....all grew up with varying aspects of the welfare state! We don't see socialism as a dreadful bogeyman, simply a no longer appropriate or efficient system.

Dismantling socialist infrastructure came about, not as a result of US influence, but because political and economic values changed. We came to recognise the inefficiencies and stifling injustices created by aspects of the welfare state. Likewise we experienced relief with liberation from the stifling and cruel application of socialist principles that had long outlived their usefulness.

The world first real welfare state was NZ, and it served NZ very well for a long time, until the NZ citizens found they had outgrown the socialist aspects. The reforms of the eighties, saw NZ retain the best while dismantling those policies no longer applicable in the modern era.

Australia, being a nation rich in natural resources, was always more of a free-enterprise society. Health-care was a patchy thing, each state having it's own system. In the 1970's we went through the pain of trying to create a national health care system. Many of the more socialist concepts of Australian society were dismantled by the centre-left labour party. (to the screams and roars of the old die-hards). In the UK, where I also live, the experience was more painful. The Unions held a almost Stalinist grip over certain industries and fought determinedly to keep alive concepts outdated with end of the second world war.

Growing up and experiencing both the strengths and weaknesses of socialist/welfare economies, I am in the fortunate position of understanding why these systems required modification, and in some cases abolition.

I appreciate that in the USA you still have a type of wealthy class that still thinks much like J.Peirpoint Morgan did at the height of the Industrial revolution. However, very few wealthy citizens of the rest of the industrialised world hold that view.

Currently, it is the Conservative Parties (centre-right) that advocate more funds for health-care. Few Australians, Kiwi's or British would be happy to see a situation where the poor, can't receive basic health-care. However, the average Australian pays for private Health-care insurance to have a higher, more elective, and more luxurious health-care benefits. This helps subsidise the major hospitals and gives greater benefits for all while maintaining incentives for excellence.

Like all professions, Doctors, highly trained technicians and nursing staff are in great demand. We know! In the 1940's and 50's they emigrated from the UK and Europe to seek a better lifestyle and more money than the UK socialised system could afford. Now we have the same problem with the US and Europe, our best Medico's are working abroad for more money and better technology.

I am a proud father of a son who has won a place at John Hopkins in Baltimore. He turned down Oxford to study at John Hopkins. Inspired by his pioneering Medical Grandmother, he is typical of a great number of young Australians and New Zealanders, seeking qualifications at the centres of excellence abroad.

Speaking of John Hopkins, a curious by-factor of US society is that the US does have a much greater tradition of private philanthropy than the more socialised nations.

The point I was trying to make,is that countries which have experienced several different systems tend to strive to retain a mixture of the more flexible aspects of what-ever works. We are also more conscious of how quickly the public service bureaucracy can expand, to no ones benefit if not regularly pruned back.

If this sounds patronising, I'm sorry.

__________________

marcopolo

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