Thursday, June 28, 2007

Education - Nationalise or privatise?

My simple rule of thumb is: that for the longer the term of the investment (before being profitable), the further it should be towards nationalisation on the continuum. Pre-school children are basically a very long term investment before what they have learnt makes an impact on society. University students, however, in a few short years, can go from being smart to being an asset to an employer, society or whatever. Therefore, the efficiency of competitive private finance is critical for universities, but almost meaningless for kindergarten. This is why I think "The Economist" is correct when it states that governments should deregulate and privatise higher education.

No! It is nothing like New Orleans!

Re: Australian outback alcoholism, child abuse in remote communities.
The comment by the prime minister is quite irresponsible. Let's see, Sending the army and police whom know little about the regional culture, don't really know which are the worst criminals because most crimes have been done in high secrecy; The problems are not amenable to "one-off" surge of interest, intrusion and intervention. Really, the only hope of "fixing" the problem would take 35 years and billions of dollars. This is more like IRAQ than New Orleans! I guess the political technique is, move out after a few months, claim victory, then re-bury our heads in the sand.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Finally back over 20 degrees celcius

Since Wednesday here in Townsville, the temperature has dipped below 20' C and on thursday we had our lowest EVER maximum of 13.9' C. Today the maximum was back up to 20' C. I blame all those internal migrants from Melbourne bringing their depressing cold rainy weather. On the other hand, I could blame global warming for triggering a severe antarctic blast that permeated all the way to the tropics, as temperatures differentials suck away the cold air.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Marconomics predicts longterm failure to reduce CO2 emissions

Going straight from my axioms,
- The judgement on policy is essentially which country does well in a typical competitive environment in the ideal where the policy concerned is the only point of difference.

Policies which involve ignoring, lying about, or failing to meet targets will put countries at a competitive advantage economically. Geopolitics, for good and ill, is optimised such that any policy which gives a distinct competitive advantage to any country, becomes policy in competing countries. The average citizen is completely oblivious but complicit, just by their own cost-benefit analysis in their own head. This process for say fifty years into the future is pretty much immune to global targets of any sort. The trick is to globally constrain the economy such that "doing well" CO2 reduction wise, is going to be "doing well" money-wise. This is just not going to happen without a global government with teeth. A global government with teeth is not compatible with the benefits gained from the competitive aspect of nations. Basically for the future 50 years or so, we will all be talking about CO2 global targets, but have no chance of meeting them. Regional CO2 targets will occasionally be met, but only by accident of say economic ruin, or accident of geography (eg. Soviet breakup, France's love of Nuclear/hydro)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Lamarckism returns?

New information as explained in this Economist Briefing RNA - Really New Advances seems to discredit what I call the "Darwinist Triumphalists". That is, those scientists that believe we know all that there is to know about evolution and natural selection. That there is easily possible avenues for direct Lamarckian adaptation which doesn't depend on random mutations, to me, means that there almost certainly is. The competitive advantage of organisms directly mutating appropriately to environmental inputs would mean that organisms that don't would become extinct more often.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Israel-Palestine score-sheet

Outright war between the Palestinian Autority and a privately funded terrorist organisation, I had counted as a "win" for Israel in my three player reference game theory. Since Israel has neither been made illegitimate nor destroyed with recent events, I would have to say that they are ahead of the ball game at the moment. Israel's current strategy may be to engineer a continuation of this civil strife indefinitely.

Marconomics

Dr. Clam, quite flatteringly suggested future Giant robot leaders would be well versed in "marconomics" and therefore avoid the pitfalls of democracies and Holy Roman empires. Somewhere in between Microeconomics and Macroeconomics, is the space where policy matters. A good starting point would be the privatisation/nationalisation axioms. Good Marconomic policy is choosing policies that are shown to work in our grand global experiment that is the rise of nations. Also to have an experimental mindset about new policies.

Monday, June 18, 2007

The other reason why Polar Bears are 100% safe from extinction

Like elephants, tigers, whales, koalas etc., selected large mammals have such an importance in human's consciousness, that an unfathomly high priority ends up being placed on salvaging at least the genetic pool of these animals in captivity, if not special "reserves", where their natural habitat is preserved or they are protected from competing wildlife and human encroachment.

This is with a background of a possible large scale extinction in the chunk of climate specific/sensitive species which is not very visible to the human consciousness. Through climate change, the overall number of organisms shouldn't change that much in any particular class, but opportunistic species will win out over the highly specialised in any particular category.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

"Overshoot" Theory

This is my theory about oil prices principally, but it works equally well for prices for a range of other stuff. My theory is to do with pricing as a tool for matching supply and demand, coupled with profits being used to invest in increased capacity, coupled with the long-term average price being a fairly simple function of the cost of extraction. Thus the long term average price is fairly independent of demand and supply. Thus as it runs out, it is the increased cost of extraction of a depleted resource that will determine higher average prices, rather than the discrepancy between supply and demand. That particular increase in cost doesn't appear to exist in the places which have the most oil left.

Thus the supply curve is still behind the demand curve. Capacity is increasing financed with the profits. The Supply will catch up with demand because the profits have nowhere else useful to go other than increased capacity. The (long) delay is because the profits have to build up, the capacity needs time to ramp up. But the march is unstoppable. When the supply and demand curves intersect, prices will undershoot their long term average.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Stuff That should remain nationalised

As in ownership and control.

Lawmaking - The Government is that which makes the laws about stuff.

Law enforcement - Enforce the laws that one makes.

Judiciary - Make judgements about the laws one makes.

Infrastructure - These sort of investments are of such a long term nature, very hard to structure into a market, are natural monopolies, have risks which are hard to insure for, have little advantage of competition, and competition can cause unnecessary duplication of infrastructure and waste. eg Roads, Rail, fibre-optic networks, power networks, airports.

Fallback basic primary school education - Government owned and controlled schools can compete on an even keel with private schools at a primary school level.

Fallback basic universal health care - including emergency, preventative and educational. "elective" stuff should be private.

Pensions - same reasons as for infrastructure. Highly regulated private superannuation system as in Australia is great too.

Disaster recovery - As opposed to insurance, there is no reason why any private interest would have a spare reserve trained specialists for immediate help. The Australian army seems much better for instance.

National Security - Command and control is necessary to at least protect the functions of government.

Privatisation/Nationalisation Axioms

* - Continuous Spectrum. For any "Stuff" there is a continuum of policy of ownership from Government-owned monopoly all the way to unregulated competitive private ownership. Some markers being Highly regulated private monopoly, Government owned but some private subcontracting, majority owned near-monopoly competing with private enterprises, Government services competing in a fairly level field with private. Conveniently economists can come to a consensensus on where on the spectrum a policy puts itself.

* - Independent nation-states able to individually pursue and experiment with policies without being able to impose such policy on other countries or be imposed on from the UN or other supranational entity.

* - The judgement on policy is essentially which country does well in a typical competitive environment in the ideal where the policy concerned is the only point of difference.

* - There is little or no interdependence between different "stuff" being privatised. ie. if A is privatised, and B is privatised, the net effect will be approximately the sum of the effects of each.

* - Price controls on "Stuff" which is nominally privatised has the effect of removing a large chunk of control from private interests and should be considered in the nationalisation end of the spectrum.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Polar Bear "species" is 100% safe from global warming

Environmental "scientists", I believe have been guilty of Species Inflation with regards to polar bears. One of the things that evolutionary and genetic science has given us is a "tight" definition of a species. Ignoring the look, habitat and lifestyle and just concentrating on the genetics, polar bears are a sub-species of the brown bear. Focusing on the plight of the white bears is just racism.

Sunday, June 03, 2007