Wednesday, July 18, 2007

German Greens going capitalist?

The following grouchy summary from a far-Leftist site says so:

Germany's Green Party recently agreed to a new economic programme, published under the title "The Green free-market economy." The programme paper was developed by prominent party figures under the auspices of the party's parliamentary faction leader Fritz Kuhn, heralding the free market as the guardian angel of the environment-and their own wallets.

Every line of this document reflects the class outlook of the upper middle class-those owning medium-sized businesses and the better-off self-employed-by glorifying the market and private property, while simultaneously expressing the authors' fear of mounting social inequalities. The entire document is characterised by a continuous "on the one hand...and on the other hand" type of argument.

Kuhn and his entourage are looking "beyond the neo-liberal worship of the market and the old-fashioned left-wing overestimation of state planning and the command economy for the new economic framework that needs the functioning markets of the future." They "place value on the statement that a Green free-market economy is not only more ecological, but is also economically more successfully than the previous ecologically blind free-market economy."

They dream of a free-market biotope, in which small businesses, the self-employed and other economic small-fry can prosper like vegetation in the tropical rain forest. The "Green free-market economy...wants to create a framework in which small businesses, tradespeople and new business start-ups will find excellent conditions. To that end, we need reforms that increase the freedom and security of the self-employed and establish a framework of fair competition. We want to optimise conditions for those who take risks and employ commercial creativity, as well as to shape corporate and tax law in favour of innovation and new business growth.... We Greens want to increase the attractiveness of starting new businesses, smaller PLCs and self-employment."

They reason that small capitalist enterprises need the resources of major capitalist companies-where else can it obtain credit and find customers?-but the latter should behave in a civilised manner, because "the high regard of the free economic system depends heavily on public attitudes and good business management. Firstly, this means businesses should pay tradesmen and -women punctually and "oppose the increasing trend towards late payments."

A separate chapter is devoted to "business culture." The German system of mitbestimmung (union-management co-determination), which the Greens describe candidly as "co-management," is expressly praised: "The German system of co-management, with union representatives sitting on company supervisory boards and work councils, has functioned satisfactorily for over 30 years and improves collaboration and conflict resolution."

Only when the Green Party document starts to speak about the unemployed does it use clear and unequivocal terms: i.e., they should roll up their sleeves and get down to work-no matter what. Here, the paper bears the hallmark of the free-market Free Democratic Party (FDP), with passages that easily could have been written by FDP leader Guido Westerwelle. "If the state effects social justice all too bureaucratically, then we end up with an expensive and incapacitating welfare state," the Greens write. "Green politics require an encouraging and enabling state, which does not curb social life but opens it up."

The source of such reasoning is well known-it stems from the ideology of neo-liberalism. According to this outlook, it is not unemployment that is responsible for the high number of people on social security, but welfare payments that are responsible for the high number of unemployed. Since the state "discourages the unemployed" by paying them a small sum for their living costs, they do not seek work ("participation in social life"). However, they are "encouraged and enabled" when the state cuts their benefits, forcing them to look for a job, even if it is so badly paid that they can hardly manage to survive on their earnings.

This is the logic of the so-called welfare reforms embodied in the "Hartz" laws, which the Greens initiated when in government with the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and now expressly defend. Under the terms of the Hartz laws, the benefits paid to an unemployed person rapidly diminish so that the worker is forced to accept badly paid work.

The Greens have already started to consider how such oppressed people can be put to work: as poorly paid service workers in small trades and in private households. "There is an enormous potential for providing personal services, in hand work trades, child care and home help," the programme notes. "The range of services is very wide and stretches from commercial to distribution services to personal and social services. In principle, we want to make service occupations more attractive by sinking ancillary wage costs in the lower income range."

Educational standards should also be lowered accordingly. "Training is to be aligned more strongly to the special requirements of the service sector," the Greens demand. Instead of "passing on specialised knowledge," "social competency and basic skills" should form the core of vocational education.

If any questions remain about the direction in which the Greens are headed, they are clarified by the chapter on budgetary policy. Here they demand "a rule that ties the permitted [state] expenditures to the development of [state] receipts." "Such a rule," they continue, "effectively limits [state] indebtedness." Laws strictly linking public expenditure to the levels of state receipts rank among the most effective means of lowering social spending. They practically eliminate the right of parliament to decide on the level of public expenditure and leave fiscal policy to the arbitrary decisions of the state bureaucracy.

While the Greens want to lower state expenditure, they welcome the inflow of international speculative capital. In the first draft of their economics paper last autumn, they expressly defended private equity funds, corporate raiders that scour the globe for the best investment opportunities and make their money by smashing up and plundering various enterprises. "Instead of sweepingly bad-mouthing foreign capital in the locust debate, we must attract more foreign direct investment to Germany," the original draft stated. In the final draft, this passage was softened linguistically, but the essential content remained. It now reads: "We want to ensure that new technical developments and new research-based companies have access to sufficient risk capital," adding, "Germany should become one of the most attractive locations for venture capital."

The picture presented in the Greens' document-of a capitalist biotope in which the self-employed and small enterprises flourish to the benefit of the whole of society-is a utopia. In reality, the free-market economy is controlled by transnational corporations and global financial institutions; the middle classes are crushed between big capital and mounting poverty. While a small minority gain in influence and prosperity, the overwhelming majority descend into an uncertain existence. Many highly qualified university graduates today earn less than an unskilled worker. On the other hand, the attacks on social security benefits and the defence of the interests of big capital, for which the Greens' document argues, are very real.

Prominent big business representatives were directly involved in its elaboration. Last November, a "political-economic congress" organised by the Greens' parliamentary faction to discuss the party's economic programme attracted 40 experts, 30 from the world of big business. Those invited included the CEOs of Arcor, Steag and Toyota Europe, as well as executives of the Federal Cartel Office and several leading banks.

The document was developed under the auspices of Fritz Kuhn and Matthias Berninger, the former state secretary of the Green Party environmental and consumer protection minister, Renate Kuenast. Other authors included several Green Party bundestag (federal parliament) deputies who in the past were linked to business-friendly policies.

Gerhard Schick, at 34 the youngest author, came directly to the Greens from a neo-liberal think tank. He attained a doctorate in political economy and worked at the Walter Eucken Institute and the Free-Market Foundation, and more recently worked as a project manager for the Bertelsmann Foundation. Walter Eucken was the joint founder of so-called ordo-liberalism, the German variant of neo-liberalism. According to experts, the Free-Market Foundation is financed by the engineering employers and some manufacturing families. According to Ulrich Mller of "Lobby Control," it provides ideas for the Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) and the Liberal Democrats (FDP). The Bertelsmann Foundation is one of the largest lobbying groups for German big business, with influence in all fields of policy, and in particular in educational policy.

The Greens' new economic programme is a further step towards a government coalition with the CDU/CSU and FDP. When the first draft was presented, party head Fritz Kuhn already said that his party would "prioritise" economic policy at the next bundestag elections. The Greens could no longer leave this area to the CDU/CSU and FDP.

In the meantime, how far the Greens have moved to the right has been recognised by federal Interior Minister Wolfgang Sch„uble (CDU). In a recent interview with the conservative Frankfurter Allgemine Zeitung, he said, "For a long time, talk of a Christian Democratic-Green Party combination was considered almost a slander. That is really nonsense. Such a combination is not what we want, but it is an option for the CDU/CSU. We are always looking for solutions for which everyone can take responsibility. So of course, we come into contact with the Greens."


A pompous Greenie ignoramus

There has been some difficulty tracing the source of this story, perhaps because the government employeee who blew the whistle needs to remain anonymous. Or perhaps it is "fake but accurate"

When employees of The State came in to work following a three day weekend, they found their workstations overloaded with "cannot logon" and "Exchange communication" error messages. The Network Services folks had it even worse: the server room was a sweltering 109ø Fahrenheit and filled with dead or dying servers.

At first, everyone had assumed that the Primary A/C, the Secondary A/C, and the Tertiary A/C had all managed to fail at once. But after cycling the power, the A/Cs all fired up and brought the room back to a cool 64ø. At the time, the "why" wasn't so important: the network administrators had to figure out how to bring online the four Exchange Services, six Domain Controllers, a few Sun servers, and the entire State Tax Commission's server farm. Out of all of the downed servers, those were the only ones that did not come back to life upon a restart.

They worked day and night to order new equipment, build new servers, and restore everything from back-up. Countless overtime hours and nearly two hundred thousand dollars in equipment costs later, they managed to bring everything back online. When the Exchange servers were finally restored, the following email finally made its way to everyone's inbox, conveniently answering the "why"

From: ----- -----------
To: IT Department
Re: A/C constantly running.

To whom it may concern,

I came in today (Monday) to finish up a project I was working on before our big meeting with the State ----- Commission tomorrow, and I noticed that there were three or four large air conditioners running the entire time I was here. Since it's a three day weekend, no one is around, why do we need to have the A/C running 24/7?

With all the power that all those big computers in that room use, I doubt it is really eco-friendly to run those big units at the same time. And all computers have cooling fans anyway, so why put the A/C for the building in that room?

I got a keycard from [the facility manager's] desk and shut off the A/C units. I'm sure you guys can deal with it being warm for an hour or two when you come in tomorrow morning.

In the future, let's try to be a little more conscientious of our energy usage!


As for the employee who sent it, he/she decided to take an early retirement.


The ethanol madness

From pre-school to planning funerals, green is in. Very in. But green policies and decisions need to be based on more than a vague desire to save the planet. The principles of the natural sciences and economics must play an essential role -- a part of policy-making that often eludes politicians. The latest examples are the federal government's efforts to reduce the United States's dependence on imported oil (now more than 60 percent) by shifting a big share of the nation's largest crop, corn, to the production of ethanol for fueling automobiles.

Good goal, bad policy. In fact, in the short- and medium-term, ethanol can do little to reduce the vast amount of oil that is imported, and the ethanol policy will have widespread and profound ripple effects on other commodity markets. Corn farmers and ethanol refiners are ecstatic about the ethanol boom, of course, and are enjoying the windfall of artificially enhanced demand. But it is already proving to be an expensive and dangerous experiment for the rest of us.

The U.S. Senate is debating new legislation that would further expand corn ethanol production. A 2005 law already mandates production of 7.5 billion gallons by 2012, about 5 percent of the projected gasoline use at that time. These biofuel goals are propped up by a generous federal subsidy -- via tax credits -- of 51 cents a gallon for blending ethanol into gasoline, and a tariff of 54 cents a gallon on most imported ethanol, to keep out cheap imports from Brazil. This latest bill is a prime example of the government's throwing good money after a bad idea, of ignoring science and economics in favor of politics, and of disdain for free markets.

President Bush has set a target of replacing 15 percent of domestic gasoline use with biofuels (ethanol and biodiesel) over the next 10 years, which would require almost a five-fold increase in mandatory biofuel use to about 35 billion gallons. With current technology, almost all of this biofuel would have to come from corn because there is no other feasible, proven alternative. However, it is unlikely that American farmers will be able to meet such demands: Achieving the 15 percent goal would require the entire current U.S. corn crop, which represents a whopping 40 percent of the world's corn supply. This would do more than create mere market distortions; the irresistible pressure to divert corn from food to fuel would create unprecedented turmoil.

Thus, it is no surprise that the price of corn has doubled in the past year - from $2 to $4 per bushel. We are already seeing upward pressure on food prices as the demand for ethanol boosts the demand for corn: Nationally, food prices were up 3.9 percent in April, compared to the same month a year earlier. Until the recent ethanol boom, more than 60 percent of the annual U.S. corn harvest was fed domestically to cattle, hogs and chickens, or used in food or beverages. Thousands of food items contain corn or corn byproducts. A spokesman for one of California's largest cattle ranches and feedlots noted that since the end of 2005, the company has experienced a 36 percent increase in the cost of feed, "which translates to an additional expense of $101 per head raised." Reflecting these trends, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association has demanded an end both to government subsidies for ethanol and to the import tariff on foreign ethanol.

The poultry industry is also squawking. The National Chicken Council is demanding remedies from senators who represent the big southern poultry states, and the National Turkey Federation estimates that its feed costs have gone up nearly $600 million annually.

The law of unintended consequences strikes again.

These effects may be only a hint of things to come. Any sort of shock to corn yields, such as drought, unseasonably hot weather, pests or disease in the next few years could send food prices into the stratosphere. Even Gregory Page, the CEO of agribusiness giant Cargill, a major beneficiary of the ethanol boom, shares these fears, "We just have to be sure that the more-is-better mindset [regarding ethanol] doesn't get way out ahead of the capacity of the land to provide the fuel . . . What we would like to see is some thoughtfulness about what we will do if we have a weather calamity." Such concerns are more than theoretical: In 1970, a widespread outbreak of a fungus called southern corn leaf blight destroyed 15 percent of the U.S. corn crop, and in 1988, drought reduced U.S. corn yields by almost 30 percent.

Politicians like to say that ethanol is environmentally friendly, but these claims must be put into perspective. Although corn is a renewable resource, it has a far lower energy yield relative to the energy used to produce it -- what policy wonks call "net energy balance" -- than either biodiesel (such as soybean oil) or ethanol from many other plants.

Moreover, ethanol yields about 30 percent less energy per gallon than gasoline, so mileage per gallon in internal combustion engines drops off significantly. Finally, adding ethanol raises the price of blended fuel because it is more expensive to transport and handle. Lower-cost biomass ethanol - for example, from rice straw (a byproduct of harvesting rice) switchgrass, or other sources - would make far more economic sense.

Even in the most favorable of scenarios, large volumes of ethanol from biomass will not be commercially viable for many years, but we should not delay production unnecessarily by government policies that, by means of corn subsidies, discriminate in favor of corn-based ethanol. Government policies should stimulate innovation as broadly as possible, and let the marketplace determine winners and losers.

Recent issues of the journals Nature Biotechnology and Nature describe precisely the kinds of advances that should be permitted to compete with corn-derived ethanol on a level playing field. Researchers at the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation in Oklahoma report in the former journal the genetic engineering of a new variety of alfalfa that contains less lignin, the substance that imparts mechanical strength to plant stems and woody tissue, than conventional alfalfa and that is, therefore, a better crop for ethanol production. Because the new variant is defective in biosynthesis of lignin, it is more susceptible to digestion by the enzymes used to convert plant material into the sugars from which ethanol is produced; some of the engineered varieties of alfalfa yield almost double the amount of sugar that is available from conventional alfalfa. This approach has dual advantages: It promises to reduce the costs and increase the yield of ethanol production from alfalfa, as well as to reduce the need for environmentally damaging acid in the biofuel refining process.

A research team at the University of Wisconsin described a catalytic process that converts the simple sugar fructose -- which can be obtained directly from biomass or derived from glucose, another simple sugar -- into 2,5-dimethylfuran. The advantage therein is that compared with ethanol, the only renewable liquid fuel currently produced in large quantities, 2,5-dimethylfuran has an energy density -- the amount of energy stored per unit mass -- 40 percent higher and is also less volatile; and because it is insoluble in water, it is easier to obtain in pure form.

American legislators and policymakers seem oblivious to the scientific and economic realities of ethanol production. Brazil and other major sugarcane-producing nations enjoy significant advantages over the U.S. in producing ethanol, including ample agricultural land, warm climates amenable to vast sugarcane plantations, and on-site distilleries that can process cane immediately after harvest. At current world prices for sugar and corn, Brazilian ethanol production would remain competitive even if oil prices were to drop below $30 per barrel, but U.S. corn-based ethanol plants would be losing money at forty-dollar oil, even with the subsidy. Thus, in the absence of cost-effective, domestically available sources for producing ethanol, rather than using corn it would make far more sense to import ethanol from Brazil and other countries that can produce it efficiently - and also to remove the 54 cents-per-gallon tariff on Brazilian ethanol imports.

Another important strategy would be to encourage a more prominent role for nuclear power, which consumes no fossil fuels and emits no greenhouse gases. Good news on that front is that with electricity demand projected to soar more than 40 percent by 2030 -- not including the potential demand from greater availability of plug-in hybrids and other forms of electric cars -- the Nuclear Regulatory Commission expects applications for as many as 11 new units this year, and for as many as 28 by the end of 2009.

Our politicians may be drunk with the prospect of corn-derived ethanol, but if we don't adopt policies based on science and sound economics, it is consumers around the world who will suffer from the hangover.


Australian professor challenges global warming theory

(Global warming beachwear above -- via Vanderleun)

An Australian academic has spoken out against the popular view that global warming is caused by greenhouse gas emissions. He believes that global warming and climate change are caused by cycles in the sun's electro-magnetic radiation. He says scientists are taking a narrow view and politicians are making policy with the wrong information.

Emeritus Professor Lance Endersbee AO is a former Dean of Engineering and Pro-Vice Chancellor of Monash University. He told Tom Harwood, ABC Western Queensland's Morning Program producer that the world has been warming naturally due to increased magnetic radiation from the sun.

"One thousand years ago the Vikings were in Greenland, and they settled there and it was a warm period, known as the medieval warm period and Europe was prosperous," he said. "And then from about 1300 on it got progressively colder and in the time of the 1600s it was terribly cold in Europe. Finland lost about one-third of their population and the Thames froze over regularly every year and people were able to travel from London up the river on sleighs - so it was a different climate," explained Professor Endersbee.

He said since about 1700 the earth has been getting progressively warmer. "It's shown in what we call the sunspot records. The sun is also emitting a great deal of electro-magnetic radiation and nowadays with NASA we can see that more plainly on the surface of the sun."

The professor says that the incredible thing is that the electro-magnetic radiation from the sun varies up and down over an eleven year cycle. "And every eleven years there's a change in the electrical polarity of the sun."

He explained that the El Nino cycles we observe on earth are also related to these eleven year cycles with the sun. "NASA can now measure and observe the flow of plasma in the ionosphere (about thirteen kilometres above the Earth's surface). "This flow of plasma is equivalent to huge electric currents," said Professor Endersbee. He believes that this is influencing the climate on earth through electrical activity in the ionosphere. "NASA is now telling us the way the electric flows in the ionosphere seem to be connected with thunderstorms on Earth around the equator."

He explained the the earth is an electrical conductor moving through the magnetic flux of the sun. "So we have these electric currents being created within the earth in response to the electro-magnetic radiation of the sun and that is the main driver of climate change on earth - it's not man."

In summary, Professor Endersbee said that the world's been warming naturally due to this increased magnetic flow from the sun that started around the year 1700. "And now we're starting to depict that it seems to be reaching an end of that cycle and it does seem as though the earth may be cooling down."

Tom Harwood asked the professor what air pollution and carbon dioxide have to do with global warming? "We've been talking about global warming - now air pollution is an entirely different thing and what's happening is that mankind is putting a lot of pollutants into the atmosphere - they certainly cause problems and mankind is also putting dust and water vapour into the atmosphere and that has an influence... but there's a lot of nonsense being talked about carbon dioxide." He explained that we breathe carbon dioxide in and out - all the plants grow from carbon dioxide and so it's ridiculous to say that it's causing global warming..

"The oceans breathe carbon dioxide and methane in and out with the seasons and that's simply due to the fact that the oceans are a bit like a bottle of lemonade... if you warm it up the bubbles rise to the surface." "They're contemplating the possibility of cooling - that means that carbon dioxide levels will be decreased because the ocean is cooler and can absorb more," he said. "It's just a matter of Henry's law and so on - it's happening continuously and the same thing happens with methane."

The professor is adamant that the concept of carbon trading is absolute madness. "What terrifies me is the way the state governments in Australia with their emissions trading they are contemplating using the superannuation funds to invest in carbon trading - they're going to lose their money!" He says governments are getting tied-up with carbon trading for commercial and political reasons - not scientific reasons.

The other problem that concerns the professor is his view that scholarship has taken a nose-dive. "Scholarship is being driven by media and media attention and this is a terrifying state of affairs." All the research is determined by government, he said. "You can get all the money in the world if the research you're doing is related to climate change... if you say climate change isn't caused by man it's caused by the sun, it doesn't get any money at all."

He said a lot of the business of carbon trading and global warming is just a popular delusion. He refers to a book written by Mackay in the 1840s called "Extraordinary popular delusions and the madness of crowds". "We've got it now... he could see it 150 years ago - the crowd is mad!"


Global cooling in Sydney again

Sydneysiders woke up to their coldest July morning in 21 years today, when the thermometer dipped to 3.7 degrees. The minimum temperature was reached at 6.54am today and beat by one degree a July record set just yesterday. "We had high pressure sitting over the state so, with a clear sky and very little wind, here it comes, the lowest temperature," senior meteorologist at the Bureau of Meteorology, Peter Zmijewski, said. The temperature is the lowest recorded at Sydney's Observatory Hill since July 27, 1986, when the mercury plunged to 3.1 degrees.....

Early risers wrote into about frost-covered gardens in Hornsby Heights, rowing in Balmain on water like a millpond and running on ovals of crunchy grass....

As winds pick up, tonight is expected to be milder than last night, with a warmer morning tomorrow but a colder day later. The bureau has forecast snow and sleet today for the Southern and Central Tablelands (including the Blue Mountains) above 500 metres. Blizzards are also expected over much of the NSW snowfields this afternoon.



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is generally to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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1 comment:

Tradesmen Tom said...

Fantastic articles. It is hard to know if the alternative information suppied by other sources is just an academic trying to be different and scaremongering or if it holds real value. If it does and we are mishandling the whol;e situation this is a very scary position we find our planet in.