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Refugees? Or Infrastructure?

The following is a guest post by the Alexandria ALP Branch.

There’s an anger in Western Sydney that could cost us the next election – “our schools, trains, roads, hospitals are full of refugees”.

We allowed and encouraged this anger to focus on how refugees can be stopped, a good Liberal issue. We ignored and continue to ignore the underlying issue of our schools, trains, roads, hospitals being full. We allowed a single Liberal issue to displace a suite of good Labor issues.

In 2010-11, a total of 4828 Humanitarian Program visas were given to onshore applicants, not all maritime arrivals. That number is from a total of 13,799 visas granted under the Humanitarian Program, itself a number out of a total of 158,943 new immigrants. Putting that number in wider perspective, new immigrants were part of a total population growth for 2012 of 394,200 people. Australia’s population is 22.32 million. Boat people are about 1-2 per cent of annual population growth which is about 1-2 per cent of our population.

In real terms, the nation is reducing government spending. You cannot have a decade and a half of income tax cuts without consequence. It has been a bipartisan squeeze. The squeeze hurts everyone who depends on public facilities and public services.

This is true not just in the western suburbs. There are stations in the inner city, near where I live, at which peak-hour trains are too full to board. We have kids commuting to nearby suburbs because the local schools are full. I don’t need to tell you what our roads are like. Here in the inner city we blame developers rather than refugees, but the anger is just as real. There’s a reason we’re nimbys. We’re being squeezed. Successive governments have contrived to squeeze public spending. Squeeze spending and you are squeezing the people. The people are the public. That understanding was basic to our civic culture. Used to be.

Here is the problem. Not the one that some people would like to have us believe, not that we have too many refugees, not that we have too many people. No, our problem is we do not have enough infrastructure per person. We are not investing in infrastructure. Cut taxes, you cease investing in infrastructure. That is the basic problem that this government denies.

The UN estimates that about 1% of ‘ irregular maritime’ travellers drown, and this may be an underestimate. Presumably, a similar percentage of turned-back boats sink. A person who chooses not to become a refugee will not die at sea, but they may instead die at the hands of their own government. The calculus is complicated, and we do not have enough information to be sure that turnbacks do more good than harm.

We do know that turnbacks are damaging our relationship with Indonesia, and we know that they are illegal. We also know that refugees, after balancing the risk of drowning against the risk of staying put, sometimes chose the risk of drowning. It is no surprise that, when assessed, almost all maritime refugee applicants are found to be ‘genuine’ refugees – no one takes lightly to these boats.

We don’t need to spend billions on concentration camps. We need to spend billions on rail lines and on schools and on hospitals and on roads. It is not going to be cheap. It is necessary.

Having an adequate revenue base to facilitate spending is a debate we need to have, a debate we will win. Despite our record in recent government, the electorate perceives us as weak on refugees and economic issues, but strong on health and education and public transport. Why then should we indulge the Liberals in a debate on the refugees when we could be having a debate on health and education and public transport?

This article was first published on the Alexandria ALP Branch site.


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  1. Pamela

    There is so much misinformation in this piece that I don’t know where to begin so just two points- let others sort out the rest.
    The writer claims that boat arrivals are 1-2 percent of the population- that is 220,000 people. This is an exaggeration beyond belief. Go look up the stats.
    I thought it was a classist joke when I hear this line about Western Sydney folks blame
    Ing refugees for clogging roads schools etc. guess not. Hell how do they get so mean and stoopid?

  2. Bighead1883

    So who are they going to vote for then? Tony Abbott

  3. Florence nee Fedup

    We need to have a strong policy, that undermines Abbott’s I stopped the boats. Especially as he didn’t do so. Abbott has with Sovereign Borders managed to keep all out of the public view. The conversation has to move past I stopped the boats to the cruelty, I injustice and incompetence being carried out in our names. I think that can happen now. Labor hasn’t said it will turn back boats but needs the power if necessary. There is much more to be done.

    Same goes for carbon emissions and the effect they have on climate. I hope that Abbott’s cry of Labor all about taxes which I got rid of. Conversation never got past big toxic tax onto what we need to do about carbon emissions. I also think that can now occur.

    Yes, now we can in the upcoming campaign discuss other things, which in the scheme of things are more important. A fair tax system. A way of stopping decline in revenues so government can afford to provide the human and physical infrastructure for future growth.

    A civil society where the rule of law, is supreme. Where governments respect separations of power. Where democracy is built on, not pulled down. Where presumption of innocence is the norm Where governments rule for people not corporations. Where respect for Magna Carta and Westminster is the norm.

    I hope the ground is set, that does not allow the PM to roam the country sides, screaming, I got rid of the taxes, I stopped the boats and they are coming to get us.

    There are jobs to protect. Trade pact to be pulled to pieces. Worry that our labour market and jobs is being handed open to overseas entities’ through 457 visas.

    Health, education and other government services are being closed down or handed over to the private sector. So much has gone, especially effective, cheap and worthwhile community and NGO organisations. Many run on the smell of a oil rag, but kept people afloat.

  4. trishcorry

    Good article. Yes, let’s start having these conversations indeed.

  5. Florence nee Fedup

    Up to now that has been impossible. One never got passed stopping the boats and maybe none are coming. Those that are here are only getting TPV. All that will collapse, as occurred under Howard. Pacific Solutions was imploding before he was kicked out of office.

    Is he going to leave those people on the Island, not resettled forever. What happens when the TPV run out. Do we renew them, with their restrictions for another three or maybe five years.

    Do we sit by and watch Abbott destroy our industrial system. Is it a coincident that the Industry this government has withdrawn assistance from all unionised. Cars, SPC, subs and coastal shipping.

    Abbott expected Shorten and Labor to split during this week end conference. He is prepared to go back into parliament with his extreme IR laws, based on announcements from TURC to get his triggers for DD. Believing people will turn on the unions.

    Was it an accident, that one of the unions that supported Shorten today in CC policy the CFMEU. A union that one would not expect to be first in line to support him.

    We have had something we have not had since Abbott gained ascendency, strong, vigorous debate of topics. Abbott doesn’t debate. he is into slogans, motherhood statements, stunts and straight-out lies and dirt throwing.

  6. wmmbb

    Yes the problem is called neoliberalism, and it about structural violence. In this situation always find a scapegoat. “The Other” always carries around with them little tags which say, “I am a refugee. I have escaped terrible conditions you may not imagine. Please despise and blame me for everything that is wrong here.” Without these little tags and their forlorn message, right thinking people would not able to judge all the refos on the roads and in the hospitals. Bill’s stated policy to increase the refugee intake must be toxic in the Western Suburbs.

    And then there are those fighter jets that cannot fly, for which Abbott is so enamoured, and that might be appropriately sold back with interest on the money spent, or else sold to the Chinese, who at least will be able to afford to buy them.

  7. Peter F

    @Pamela Before you start raving on about misinformation, you should be careful to actually read and understand what has been written. The exact words in the article are “Boat people are about 1-2 per cent of annual population GROWTH which is about 1-2 per cent of our population.” (Caps on ‘growth’ are mine so that you don’t miss the word.) ie”1-2% of 1-2%

  8. Neil of Sydney

    All that will collapse, as occurred under Howard. Pacific Solutions was imploding before he was kicked out of office.

    Rubbish. There were only 6 boat people in detention in 2007

    Is it a coincident that the Industry this government has withdrawn assistance from all unionised.

    Funding was promised to the car industry till 2020. No funding was withdrawn by the Coalition. What happened is that after Ford left under Labor, Holden went to the new Coalition govt and wanted even more money which Hockey denied.

    By the way in 2007, 25% of cars were made in Australia. After 6 years of Rudd/Gillard that had dropped to a terrible 10%. You cannot have a lock industry with 10% of the market. Labor destroyed our car manufacturing.

  9. miriamenglish

    This is an excellent article. It is short, to the point, and points to the actual problems versus perceptions and what needs to be fixed.

    When Abbott and crew say anything about “stop the boats” or “illegal queue-jumpers” he can be stopped by immediately have the ball taken from him by saying “billions of dollars wasted on cruelty while Australia crumbles”, perhaps with a side serve of, “the boats haven’t stopped, they’re just a secret now.”

    Labor need to capitalise on their strengths. While LNP are happy to let Australia degenerate into the racist hysteria of a country divided into a few rich and the rest of us poor, Labor wants a healthy, educated Australia.

    When LNP twits say Labor wants to spend big, Labor only has to say, “No. LNP spends billions on things that don’t benefit Australia. We want that money to go where it does the most good, not billions of dollars for torturing innocent people, or billions of dollars for making wars in other lands, or billions of dollars in handouts dirty coal, or billions of dollars tax breaks for the super-wealthy and their offshore accounts. We think that money would be better spent on Australia, on health, on education, on renewable energy. You know, things to ensure there is a future for our kids.”

    Maybe they could follow up with a nice twist on Tony Abbott’s cynical and divisive patiotism: “I would have thought that those who really love Australia wouldn’t be trying to tear us apart with racism and fear, but would be doing what they can to lift us into the 21st Century and beyond, not with 19th Century dirty coal, but with the future of clean energy, knowledge for our children delivered by information networks they deserve. I’d have thought the patriotic thing to do would be to build Australia up, not tear it down and sell it out to overseas corporations. I have to wonder why Tony Abbott has to use fear and hate all the time. It doesn’t seem a very Australian thing to do.”

    Don’t ever argue on Tony Abbott’s ground. Always shift it to Labor’s advantages. Abbott really has nothing to offer. The only positive thing I’ve ever heard come from him is about improving the roads. One good thing does not make an economic policy. And if that topic is touched on, don’t be drawn. Talk about how roads are very important, but so is public transport because it is hundreds of times more efficient. Improving one at the cost of the other is the wrong approach. We need both.

    If Labor carefully focussed on their advantages and always shifted the argument without criticising Abbott directly, but always asking why he feels the need to be so fearful then you take away his most important tool. People don’t like those who constantly bitch and moan, and when you come down to it, that’s really about all Abbott does. It would turn his “Labor wrecked things” crap around at him.

  10. Peter F

    I live in hope that we are about to see the necessary change in ALP approach. By remaining low key they have not given Abbott anything to create lies about.See the hysteria from Hunt and others on the renewable message. Soon, when more and more reasonable alternative policies are presented by the ALP, Abbott will be reduced to shouting in the wilderness of his own creation.

  11. corvus boreus

    Good post from the Alexandria ALP branch.
    I have previously referred to the groups of people classified as ‘illegal immigrants/unauthorised maritime arrivals’ (or ‘asylum seekers’) as ‘a squeaky toy that gets tossed and mauled every time the dog whistle gets blown` (no meaningful disrespect intended).

    The utterly obsessive preoccupation with this issue in political/media/social discourse over the past decde and a half(directed mainly for the sake of political pragmatics), and the extremities of the various ‘solutions offered and employed, has cost us dearly as a nation, both in economics(drain on public purse) and ‘externalities’ (cost to our collective moral compasses/souls).

    We have, as a nation, been paying dubious corporations to prolongedly incarcerate men, women and children, with the outsourcing of supervisory authoraty and power going to local ‘rascals’.
    We have also paid brown bags to the pilots of vessels engaged in the crime of carrying this desperate human cargo to 180 to port of departure.

    In my eyes, the biggest steps forward Labor could make would be to pledge an immediate return of direct responsibility for delegation of implemented authority and some transparency of oversight (no more ‘operational secrecy’ or legal exemptions).

  12. Douglas Evans

    Yes a good post which illuminates the real cause of our cruelty to unfortunate boat arrivals. Bipartisan neglect of requirements to grow urban infrastructure at a rate matching population growth. The situation does not only apply to western Sydney but also to other major population centres. However the causes of this are many. Government responsibility rests largely at State and local government level but the failure to keep pace with urban growth is not all down to government neglect or ineptitude. In Australia the role of government in urban growth has largely been to facilitate the flow of private capital to wherever it sees an opportunity. Urban growth plans are regularly prepared and updated/superseded by successive State governments which find in them a convenient stick with which to beat the previous government around the head. However these are simply ignored by private capital which inevitably has a cosy arrangement with State Planning ministers (whether Labor or Liberal) allowing it in effect to do what it wishes. The Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute AHURI in Melbourne has done some excellent work in this area if anyone is interested to follow it up. I researched this situation for a series of essays on the failure of housing authorities to enforce reasonable energy and environmental standards on new development. What I learned is that the construction lobby is incredibly powerful and sees its role as strictly limited to protecting and enhancing the profitability of its members. It is rapacious and implacably conservative. Unlike the so-called ‘greenhouse mafia’ which has for decades so effectively resisted progressive action on climate change on behalf of its industry constituents the construction lobby manages to fly underneath the radar without attracting attention to itself. Anyone wishing to address the causes of the failings underlined by this post needs to understand the power and internal dynamics of the construction lobby before they start allocating blame to political parties.

  13. mars08


  14. Kaye Lee

    It’s comical hearing Abbott and Hockey call for calm reasoned debate then listening to the hysteria from Hunt and Dutton.

    If only Labor were capable of thinking on their feet instead of relying on issued talking points for the day. Miriam has given examples of the responses they should be making. Labor spending is an investment in the future. Liberal spending is reaction to fear and propping up their donors.

    When the Coalition say Labor hadn’t funded Gonski and hospitals in the out years, there must be a ready answer to show where the money is coming from. Scrap the jets, halve the number of submarines and build them locally, stop fossil fuel subsidies, tighten up tax avoidance and evasion.

    Climate change and renewable energy are clear winners and Hunt’s lies must be refuted. Paris will be very interesting. Will Abbott avoid that confrontation by calling an election before December?

    Andrew Giles impressed me when he spoke at the Labor conference.

  15. John Kelly

    Don’t we have an infrastructure prime minister now? What does he say?

  16. randalstella

    Why is it seemingly entirely beyond Labor to itemise and detail just who and what the Libs represent?
    Why can it not draw up a list of the 0.5% of Australians that the LNP are actually in power for?
    It would include very obvious things like the $2.5b. given to big polluters if they would be so kind as to investigate ways to lower their emissions – but if they don’t, keep the money anyway. Some of it is bound to come back to the Libs for their next election campaign, for a scare campaign about Labor’s Great Big Tax on pollution. Funding from that unlimited source, the taxpayer, now the guarantor of wealth and power.. (And they go on about a heli-ride by the hag from Central Casting.)
    The answer has to be that Labor is beholden to these same interests. Labor is another business Party that is unable to shake off its ties to working people, as that would mean it becoming a splinter group compliant to major Liberal initiatives that are designed to make the Libs seem as if they are representing the public – reactionary sort of ‘social’ beatups like with the refugees.
    Ah,wait a minute there….

  17. Florence nee Fedup

    Neil, no one is interested in the past. it is the now and future that counts. Even Abbott has woken up to that. Time for debate on what we do next, based on what is occurring now. I am sure your dad would agree.

  18. corvus boreus

    Florence nee Fedup,
    On the contrary, many of us, I for one, are rather interested in the past (lot to be learned there, hind-sight is well mapped), just not as an obsessive focus to the exclusion of any consideration or discussion of the present or future.

  19. Florence nee Fedup

    John, we do not have a infrastructure PM. We have a minister for roads. One that believes only he knows what roads need to be built. A true infrastructure minister begins with build human infrastructure, building a highly educated, skill and adaptable workforce to meet needs of the future. Needed for future productivity. We need one that knows the advantage of new technology. Yes fibre to the home and transferring industry and power generation to renewals. not fossil fuels.

    “So it turns out equality might be the bullet for economic growth…So it turns out equality might be the bullet for economic growth…So it turns out equality might be the bullet for economic growth…So it turns out equality might be the bullet for economic growth…So it turns out equality might be the bullet for economic growth…So it turns out equality might be the bullet for economic growth…”

  20. darkajameelaAnniyah

    More media BS! Photo is not in Australia. Looks like an American train. Who are they trying to kid?

  21. Florence nee Fedup

    corvus, I respect your view, but please tell me how remaining focus on the past, which most have made their mind up about , takes us to future solutions.

    Shorten did address the past brutally yesterday for Labor. Said Labor made big mistakes. What else does one expect from Labor. One cannot change the past. One can definitely have influence on the future.

    Time for diverse debate on what is occurring now. Time for debate from all quarters to debate solutions for were we go from here.

    From the rehearse sounding bites coming out of Abbott’s mouth, he has been told that.

  22. corvus boreus

    Florence nee Fedup,
    I already explicitly denied the practical validity of an ‘obsessive'(over-riding) focus on the past.
    Neither should it be entirely ignored (unlike NoS).

  23. The AIM Network

    More media BS! Photo is not in Australia. Looks like an American train. Who are they trying to kid?

    The photo was taken in Australia, genius.

  24. corvus boreus

    Funny thing.
    A 30 second search of google images for “melbourne trains” (The Age = Melbourne newspaper) showed similar trains with the same logo (white ‘M’ in double lines on blue background).

  25. Roswell

    I thought it was taken in Spain.

    *Sarcasm alert*

  26. Michael Taylor

    You’re all wrong. It was taken in Nairobi.

  27. corvus boreus

    The expat community in ‘Little Footscray’, Nairobi have a working replica of the Melbourne Metro?
    Good on ’em, that’s Aussie can-do!

  28. mars08

    I think what frustrates many progressives is Labor’s unwillingness to confront and question the Coalition’s basic premise for it’s actions and policies.

    Things like data retention, budget deficits, citizenship, defence spending, asylum seekers, trade pacts and superannuation perks… Labor timidly accepts Abbott’s argument as to how important they are and how they should be handled. And, invariably…. the Coalition approach is to be tough, macho and resolute!!! Austerity, military force, sovereign borders, nationalism, increased police powers.

    Abbott has been able to turn a lot of “issues” into a pissing contest and Labor has quietly followed along… trying to show they can be just as unwavering…. and cruel. They have just given extra credibility to the Coalition’s list of priorities. The only difference is (sometimes) in how those topics should be addressed.

    Unfortunately for the ALP, many of it’s members want a more liberal, nuanced approach. They aren’t satisfied with engaging the Coalition in a chest-thumping contest. They are sick of playing on Abbott’s home ground, and by his rules.

  29. Ann

    I do hope Western Sydney does not bestow upon us another 3 years of abbott and his destruction of Australia.

  30. Florence nee Fedup

    I hope grey haired old ladies in my age group wake up to themselves. Speaking to woman on the bus. She said to a friend, who was present, that she was not political but she attended get rid Abbott event at the local club.

    Told me she found it interesting.

    I said, I cannot understand why those on full pensions are still sticking up for Abbott. Can understand why self funded retirees do.

    She laughed. Said she told some friends she had attended the get rid of Tony event. These old ladies were shocked, quoting poor Tony. Seems they believe Abbott was getting a raw deal. Why does the idiot appeal to old ladies? Anyone know?

    Also, I have noticed, many people are willing, some eager to talk politics today. Not so long ago, one would have been shut up fast, if one attempted to raise politics.

  31. Neil of Sydney

    I do hope Western Sydney does not bestow upon us another 3 years of abbott and his destruction of Australia.

    Unemployment in 2007 = 4.3% and falling
    debt in 2007 = zero
    kids in detention in 2007= zero
    asylum seekers in detention = 6

    Labor gets elected
    unemployment in 2013 = 5.8% and increasing
    debt in 2013 = 10% of GDP and exploding
    kids in detention in 2013 = 2,000
    asylum seekers in detention = thousands

    I know who was damaging Australia

  32. Harquebus

    At current growth rate, 1.4% I believe, our population will approach 100 million sometime early next century. Do we have the resources to quadruple our infrastructure and what kind of damage would that do to the environment. I do not believe that this island continent of ours can support 50 million let alone 100.

    70 / 1.4% = 50 years for our population to double.

    Remember also, that for each doubling, more resources are consumed than all the previous doublings combined.

    Don’t believe me? Perhaps a professor of physics can convince you.

    Dr Albert Bartlett (RIP): Arithmetic, Population and Energy

    Increase energy production, grow populations, grow the economy, build massive amounts of energy guzzling infrastructure and pay off debt all while trying to reduce greenhouse gasses and the budget deficit…. Ha!

  33. diannaart

    I’m with John Kelly, searching for the infrastructure PM – We seek him here, we seek him there, we seek him bloody everywhere.

    Excellent article – more like this from Labor, please. Less political expediency, please & thank you – messing with lies and truth too much leads to soooo much confusion that electorate will just give up vote the LNP back in.

  34. Ann

    And where are the stats for now. How’s that unemployment going. Why have you only produced 2 sets of data. Is it to make Labor the bad guys or is the data so horrific that it is not printable. Lets have all the eggs in the omelet please.

  35. Andreas Bimba

    The real power centres in Australia; the mining/resources industry, banking & finance, the China and farm lobbies, a few others and their media moguls pull the strings for the Liberal National Coalition and the ALP. This is why we have had total free trade, deregulation and privatisation supporting neo-liberal governments ever since Hawke/Keating.

    Neo-liberalism promised greater efficiency, lower costs and lots of new jobs but instead was a gradual wealth grab by the big end of town and delivered the closure of tens of thousands of businesses and entire industry sectors like the automotive industry, a net loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs, fat easy profits for the big banks and super fund managers, greater tax deduction rorting by many corporations and the wealthy as well as tax evasion, increased costs to consumers for example electricity, gas and water, increased economic instability by concentrating on low value added and volatile commodity exports that also employ very few, made housing unaffordable for most by subsidising speculative investment and led to a degradation of all government services.

    Government and semi government organisations can be as efficient as the best private sector businesses as long as they have competent management that is not constrained unnecessarily from performing its role. They can also obtain finance more cheaply and usually don’t need to waste so much money on marketing for example like the current electricity retailers. They can also be sufficiently large to take on economic roles that would otherwise not be attempted by the private sector and form the core of new industry sectors.

    The ALP is not an alternative government, it is the same government with a different but more competent crew.

    The ALP must instead look back at some of its former inspiring policies and leaders of the past such as John Curtin or Ben Chifley and aggressively take on the challenge of developing the renewable energy sector, our infrastructure, a sustainable economy and a fair and efficient health, education and social welfare sector.

    Moderate trade protection is necessary for some industry sectors so that we retain a more balanced economy and are then able to take advantage of science and technology rather than being just a quarry and farm for the world. This offers the best opportunity for substantial employment creation and participation in the transition to and ongoing improvement of the world’s sustainable economy.

    The corrupting influence of lobbyists and vested interests must be removed from our political system and the voting system improved through proportional representation voting for the lower houses of parliament such as the Tasmanian and ACT Hare-Clark system.

    Governments should take advantage of moderate deficit spending to grow the economy in a sustainable way and increase employment and tax paying capacity. The Modern Monetary Theory economists have proven the benefit of this approach.

    As the ALP currently lack the wisdom and courage to abandon neo-liberalism the best opportunity for Australia lies with the Greens and other small parties and independents. When will the electorate realise this?

  36. totaram

    Andreas Bimba: I appreciate your backing of the Greens, but the whole problem lies with the dominant neo-liberal macro- economics rubbish, which the Greens also believe in ( how will we fund this? ) not realising that a sovereign government that issues its own currency is not fiscally constrained except by the need to control inflation, and as long as there are unemployed persons to be employed, the government of the day can indeed employ them and use them to carry out much needed economic activity. . Etc. etc. which you know I’m sure.

  37. Andreas Bimba

    @totaram Yes the Greens have also failed to publically adopt the core MMT concept of recurrent government stimulatory spending to attain full employment. Unemployment and underemployment are probably our biggest reason for poverty and social misery and also represent our biggest wasted resource. The economy can be expanded in a sustainable way to employ these people through stimulatory government spending and wise planning and this is not inflationary if done prudently. In regard to most of the other failings of neo-liberalism, the Greens have adopted the appropriate policies and are currently Australia’s best bet.

  38. Harquebus

    The economy can not be expanded in a sustainable way. That requires cheap and abundant energy. Seen any lately? Debt and environmental destruction is what was fueling economic growth and that is not sustainable as is now becoming apparent.

  39. miriamenglish

    Hmmm… cheap and abundant energy… let’s see now…

    How about that giant thermonuclear fusion reactor safely situated almost 150 million km from us in the sky spewing free energy down on us every day? Maybe an appropriate name for this conjectured energy could be “solar energy”.

    Or… let’s see… there must be more… maybe that other manifestation of solar energy, differentially heated air resulting in wind. There must be some kind of device we can use to reap that free source of energy. Perhaps we could call it “wind power”.

    Or… maybe there’s more… wind travelling across the oceans produces waves. Maybe human ingenuity could develop a way to reap that, and call it “wave power”.

    Or… the water that the sun evaporates from the oceans falls again as rain. What if we collected that in big dams and used its gravitational energy to spin turbines and generate electricity. We could call it “hydroelectric power”.

    Or… maybe the moon’s gravity, in pulling large bodies of water with it as it swings around our planet causing the tides could be tapped as a source of free energy. We might call it “tidal power”.

    Or… if we want to make yet another variation on the 19th century steam engine, but instead of having to constantly get, at great expense, wood or coal or gas to burn in it, or refine horrendously dangerous radioactive isotopes, letting them almost go nuclear bomb-critical, heating the water to steam… instead of those we drill down to the hot rocks at accessible depths at many locations around our planet and use their free heat to boil the water to run the steam engines… We could call that “geothermal power”.

    Oh, wow! Gee, look. Six sources of abundant free energy*.

    I’m sure I can think of more too if I put my mind to it… we could use the difference between daytime temperature and nighttime temperature via perhaps a peltier thermoelectric device…. or maybe piezoelectric devices to generate a trickle of electricity from sound because it’s never completely quiet, and some places are very noisy… or we can use a nano device similar to one developed some time back that turns a cog in one direction powered by brownian motion… or we could use a heat pump to provide enough heat to power itself plus run a generator, because a heat pump can deliver more energy than being used to run it as a result of the fact that it moves heat from one place to another instead of generating heat… or we could grow sugar which can be stored as a stable fuel and imitate the sugar-metabolising chemical systems of our mitochondria to turn it into electricity later (though that’s really another form of solar power). And I’m sure I can think up more…

    The economy can be expanded forever because the economy is imaginary. What can’t be expanded forever is our use of resources and energy.

    Due to our shamefully wasteful use of resources we are probably already well beyond our safe limit of resource use, however if we decided to do the intelligent thing and lived a bit more lightly on the planet, using resources in a more sensible way, recycling all our materials, eliminating the insane throwaway aspect of our culture, built things to last, and rejected the idiocy of fashion, then we could all live in far greater luxury than we currently do and would almost never need to dig another mine.

    As for energy, we waste almost all our energy in ridiculously inefficient vehicles and houses, but even so are bathed in vast amounts of energy far beyond our most gluttonous cravings. We are just using the densest forms of energy in an obscene orgy of waste, recklessly expending millions of years of the stuff so that there will be none of the dense form for our kids.

    If we had the foresight to use our resources appropriately, and make good and efficient use of the energy all around us we could have an ever-increasing economy based upon services, information, knowledge, and creativity.

    Will we wake up? Place your bets ladies and gentlemen. Round and round she goes. Where she stops nobody knows. I have my hopes that we wake up in time. We can be a truly marvelous species at times. I hope this is one. We are cutting it pretty close though.

    * Yes, I know the devices used to reap the energy are not free, but they are getting cheaper and more efficient as we get better at making them. Unlike our main sources of power today (coal, oil, gas, nuclear) we don’t have to pay anything for the energy sources. Even better, we don’t have to worry about pollution and waste products (particularly problematic with coal and nuclear).

  40. Douglas Evans

    Very eloquent Miriam English and of course you are right there is no shortage of non polluting energy. So good have we become at harvesting this energy that it is already cost effective to make use of it. However although Harquebus is wrong about the availability of cheap abundant energy he is not wrong about our capacity to go on expanding the economy. Along with energy, expanding the economy requires resources, raw materials. While renewable energy is, to all intents and purposes inexhaustible resources definitely aren’t.

    A good measure of how we are doing with respect to resource use and resource availability is the Ecological Footprint. Data I exracted some time ago now from the Global Footprint Network – – illustrates this pretty well. The Ecological Footprint of a country is an amalgam of a Cropland Footprint, a Grazing Footprint, a Forest Footprint, a Fishing Ground Footprint, a Carbon Footprint and Built up Land. The biocapacity of a country is an amalgam of Cropland, Grazing, Forest, Fishing and Built up land. The world-average ecological footprint in 2007 was 2.7 global hectares (gha) per person (18.0 billion in total). With a world-average biocapacity of 1.8 gha per person (12 billion in total), this leads to an overall ecological deficit of 0.9 gha per person (6 billion in total). So nearly a decade ago our global ecological footprint was already 50% higher than the earth’s capacity to deliver resources. The situation is worse today.

    An ecologically sustainable future requires that the global Ecological Footprint does not exceed global biocapacity. An equitable disposition of resources sets a target of 1.8 gha per person. This would require the United States to reduce its ecological footprint to less than a quarter of its current level. It would require Australia to reduce its ecological footprint to slightly more than a quarter of its current level. It would require the United Kingdom to reduce to about one third of its current level. By way of illustration countries whose Ecological Footprint is currently about the required level are Guatemala, Ghana, Georgia and Armenia.

    We are already running down global bio capacity, the ecological capital of the Earth. The population continues to expand exponentially. We are living on borrowed time. The economy cannot continue to be expanded. It is simply impossible.

  41. Harquebus

    miriam english
    Your ignorance is showing. EROEI.
    Abundant but, diffuse. Solar energy must be collected over a large area or over a long period of time.
    As for your other brilliant ideas, I suggest that you wait until these technologies are proven before you brag.

    The era of economic growth is over, it’s not my fault, get used to it.

  42. Neil of Sydney

    not realising that a sovereign government that issues its own currency is not fiscally constrained

    I think you lefties are mad.

  43. Harquebus

    I’ll put a caveat on my previous post. Hydro electricity is the only exception.
    Scraping the solar energy from large areas of ocean and funneling them through a turbine is the scale needed for renewables to be viable.
    Places for hydro electric dams are limited and they also have other drawbacks.

  44. miriamenglish

    Douglas, I’ve learned to be very careful of what I call impossible. 🙂

    Currently, we in “developed” countries waste most of the food we grow. I’m not sure of the cumulative percentage, but we waste it during production, processing, retailing and consumption. At many of those steps we waste more than half. This is particularly insane because what we do actually eat is far in excess of what we need and is actually killing us early. The same is true of almost every aspect of our lives. If we reduced our consumption of food, clothing, and luxury items to sensible levels, we might consume, I’d guess, perhaps a tenth or less of what we currently do. If what we do consume was built to last, repairable, and easily recyclable then our footprint would actually be much, much lower than even that.

    Such an approach would allow us to fix world poverty, raising everybody everywhere to a good standard of living. Doing that is the most effective way to reduce population growth. At the moment people often think that a good standard of living relates directly to level of consumption, but in reality it relates to level of well-being. A lower level of consumption can actually increase well-being. The best example can be seen in food consumption. We consume far more food than is healthy and it is literally making us sick for decades before we die far earlier than we need to. Caloric restriction and limiting the amount of protein eaten to only a small amount each week has been shown in every experimental animal tested to increase lifespan by up to a third longer than the healthy “normal”. These test animals don’t just live longer, they actually stay younger for longer, getting sick less.

    If our economy concentrated on services, information, knowledge, and creativity then it could be expanded infinitely while keeping resource use minimal.

    Realising this is perhaps one of the great challenges of our time. But we have overthrown apparently immovable constructs before. The church ruled everything in the West for a thousand years of Dark Ages and had absolute power, which most people would have thought impossible to break, and then we had the scientific and cultural phenomenon called the Renaissance. Before slavery was rendered immoral who would have thought it possible to do that? A year before the Cold War ended who would have ever thought that it could finish so abruptly? We can change very quickly and do the seemingly impossible when we have sufficient reason to do so.

    My biggest fear is that we’re running short on the amount of time left to fix the bad mess we’ve gotten ourselves into.

  45. miriamenglish

    Harquebus, you only say that about hydroelectricity because it is well established technology.

    You keep pointing to energy return on energy invested (EREOI) as if it is some magic validation of your doomsaying. It isn’t. As I pointed out before it is easily proven to be wrong by the fact that plants have been capturing solar power on small scales and reaping more than the energy invested for hundreds of millions of years.

    I would sit down and calculate out the energy involved in the several energy forms I mentioned above, but

    a) we are constantly developing more efficient ways (we have already developed solar capture technologies many times more efficient than plants manage), and

    b) it would be futile because you can no more be swayed by what I say than a mormon would listen to an atheist. You have sadly formed inflexible beliefs that facts will never penetrate.

    You love the doom too much.

  46. Kaye Lee

    Really enjoying your contributions Miriam. Could I also add that growth doesn’t necessarily have to involve greater consumption eg education, aged care and childcare are three essential growth industries.

  47. Harquebus


    Have you ever sat and watched a plant grow?

    As I stated, solar energy is diffuse. Hydro electricity scrapes the energy from millions of kilometers of ocean, transports it and conveniently funnels it through a turbine or as in the past, to a mill. It is physics that drives this process, not technology.

    I want society to take practical measures to avoid doom and not waste precious time and resources on unrealistic hopes and dreams. Renewable advocates are only making matters worse.

  48. Harquebus

    Education, aged care and childcare are only growth industries because of growing populations. The last thing that we should be doing.

  49. stuff me

    Neil please stop wasting space on this blog.

  50. miriamenglish

    Harquebus, as I said, you love doom too much to hear what I say, so I’m probably wasting my time…

    If I point out that a relatively small solar panel array can capture kilowatts of power, then you’ll switch back to arguing about energy return on energy invested. When I point out that doesn’t hold true you switch back to the diffuse argument. That is how mormons argue. I know you can’t see it, and I’m sorry for that.

    You say you want things to improve, but you offer no solutions. When pressed, you only handwave about magical things like making some kind of decree to prevent most people breeding (as if that was workable). When people point out how utterly unrealistic that is (not to mention horrific in its own right), you merely state in imperious tones that nature will be far harsher. That isn’t a solution. That is you gleefully welcoming calamity.

    Renewable energy works and is improving further almost daily.

    Lifting living standards painlessly reduces reproduction rates and is not only feasible, but a good thing to do in its own right.

    Will we get the solutions all lined up in time to avoid some catastrophes? Probably not.

    Will we fix things sufficiently that we avoid global collapse? Maybe. It’s too early to tell yet. Neither you nor I can tell. If you are certain of your doom beliefs then your certainty in the face of uncertain information should tell you that you are absolutely wrong.

  51. miriamenglish

    Thanks Kaye. 🙂 And you’re right about education, aged care and childcare. Those and other parts of a services and information economy can expand without clear limits, to our great benefit, and without hurting the planet. Sometimes two things can even be synergistic. Having older people care after children, and vice versa, can benefit both.

  52. Harquebus

    EROEI does hold true.
    I get scolded for offering my solution so, I try to keep it to a minimum.

    You might like to play around with this. You will see just how measly your kilowatts and megawatts really are.

    Is it humane to have such large and unsustainable populations that diminishing resource induced famine reduces us to sustainable numbers?

    Renewable energy is a fallacy and if it did work, it would be the predominant energy source. All that “free” energy you keep talking about.

    Unlike yourself, I look at the evidence and as yet, you have provided none. All I hear is rhetoric and criticism.

    The economy, environment, living standards etc., are all deteriorating and while you and other dreamers refuse to see reality and pursue your pipe dreams and illusions, they will continue to. Thanks.

    Growing populations doesn’t hurt the planet? Without population growth, child care, aged care and education are not growth industries.

    Any chance of getting a physicist on this site to answer this question once and for all.

  53. diannaart

    Well said, both Miriam & Kaye.

    Harquebus, you are welcome to your doom-saying just are others are to refute such nonsense. Yes it is nonsense, while you continue to present no solutions, apart from population control (as Miriam has pointed out here and I have on other threads) you continue to chip away at what little credibility you have left.

    A question for you, Harquebus, do you believe we should continue to use fossil fuels as our primary energy sources? – if memory serves, and I stand to be corrected, you have stated elsewhere that fossil fuels will not run out.

    Thank you

  54. Harquebus

    I posted a video link here if your interested.

    The Myth of Technology and Sustainable Development

    Still being lied to

  55. Harquebus


    There are no other viable solutions.
    Fossil fuels will never deplete. They will eventually become too difficult to extract. This is why they must be conserved. They are a vital resource and we will not have time to safely transition to a no carbon economy if we continue to waste them as we are doing.

  56. Kaye Lee

    My problem with the EROEI argument is it is based on today’s technology. To assume that we will not find better construction materials, storage and distribution methods is arrogant and flies in the face of history. We are custodians who must achieve what we can. Those who say it is too hard can go suck their thumb. You may be right but in the absence of practical suggestions beyond culling the current population I will continue to hope for whatever future remains to us – something NO-ONE can predict with any certainty.

    As I have said many times, recognising the problem is one thing. Making practical suggestions towards at least alleviating it is another. By practical, I mean something that can actually be done, like educating and empowering women which will lead to a natural curbing of population growth.

  57. Harquebus

    Kaye Lee.
    Do we have time to let education on population filter through the global society? I think that we at the stage where we immediately need zero births globally and for at least a decade. As you say, this is unrealistic and is why I believe that nature will be one that imposes the solution upon us. This may also manifest itself as resource wars. Either way, it ain’t gonna be pretty.
    To assume that we will find better construction materials, storage and distribution methods is a dangerous gamble with fatal consequences if we lose.

  58. Kaye Lee

    We have little choice Harquebus. That is the point. Unrealistic solutions aren’t solutions at all. Countries in which more children are enrolled in school—even at the primary level—tend to have strikingly lower fertility rates. Research consistently shows that women who are empowered through education tend to have fewer children and have them later. If and when they do become mothers, they tend to be healthier and raise healthier children, who then also stay in school longer.

    Worldwide, 69 million elementary-school-aged children were not in school in 2008, 37 million fewer than in 1999. By 2005, almost two thirds of developing countries had achieved gender parity in elementary school enrollment. Still, a majority of children not in school are female, and early marriage and motherhood keep many of the world’s poorest girls from completing secondary school.

    Extending educational opportunities to all the world’s children can clearly reap vast rewards in lower population growth—which in turn brings greater stability, prosperity, and environmental sustainability.

    Many countries already have less than 2 children per woman

  59. miriamenglish

    Harquebus, do you hear yourself? I guess not.

    You pose a rhetorical question on whether we have time to fix things. You then pronounce that we can only opt for a draconian, dictatorial step, saying that (in your opinion) we need an essentially impossible goal (zero births globally for a decade). When you admit it is impossible you say that basically we’re all screwed no matter what we do. No path forward. Just give up and surrender to the doom.

    It’s really all about the doom with you, isn’t it.

    I guess you’ll be surprised in 20 years when we have solved many of the current problems and life goes on. Of course, at that time you’ll point to other, remaining problems (there will always be problems) and continue to predict doom… like the Jehovah’s Witnesses continue to do after their many failed predictions of the end of the world. Some people just love their doom too much.

  60. Harquebus

    Kaye Lee.
    Depopulation would be a realistic option if, the corporates, the banksters and their minions, the politicians and journalists would allow it to be discussed.
    Why is it missing from the conversation? Population growth is perceived as essential for that great destroyer, economic growth.

    I think when we start to see terrible things, it will be the journalists who have been conned along with most of the rest who will howl the loudest. By then of course, it will be too late.

    Unrealistic does not mean not viable. It can be done. It is the will that is lacking.
    Those such as yourself advocating population reduction will help. Quite a lot I think.
    For alternative energy, the will is there however, it is the technological breakthroughs that are missing.

    I am not alone in my opinion on population.

    “It’s coming home to roost over the next 50 years or so. It’s not just climate change; it’s sheer space, places to grow food for this enormous horde. Either we limit our population growth or the natural world will do it for us, and the natural world is doing it for us right now.” — David Attenborough

    “Using his burgeoning intelligence, this most successful of all mammals has exploited the environment to produce food for an ever increasing population. Instead of controlling the environment for the benefit of the population, perhaps it’s time we controlled the population to allow the survival of the environment.” — David Attenborough

    I have posted this sometime before. Apologies for the duplication.

    “As we all know, the biosphere or living mantle of the planet is being rapidly destroyed by this largest herd of mammals ever to graze it.
    We are already consuming 140 per cent of Earth’s sustainable living resources — that is, Earth’s natural living ecosystem is collapsing.”

  61. Harquebus

    It is my opinion. The fact that it might already be too late does not stop me from trying. I am fighting for my life, and yours and will never give up.
    Population is the cause of our dilemma and population will be, one way or another, the solution.

  62. Kaye Lee

    Why on earth do you keep trying to convince us of something about which we agree? It is enormously frustrating. You repeat the same doom and gloom ad infinitum yet when it comes to practical suggestions you just ignore it or say it can’t work despite the proof. If women are having less than 2 children that is population reduction, not a slowing of growth but an actual reduction and if you look at the full list of countries, many are already there. There is a direct correlation between poverty, education, and no. of children per woman.

  63. Harquebus

    Kaye Lee.

    It is only doom and gloom if we continue business as usual. Population and economic growth.
    Our lives are in serious jeopardy and we are running out of time.
    That is why.

    I would love to add you to my email list. What are the chances?

  64. jimhaz

    [I guess you’ll be surprised in 20 years when we have solved many of the current problems and life goes on. Of course, at that time you’ll point to other, remaining problems (there will always be problems) and continue to predict doom… like the Jehovah’s Witnesses continue to do after their many failed predictions of the end of the world.]

    “The Jehovah’s Witness Church in Australia received allegations of child sexual abuse involving more than 1000 of its members over a 60-year period but did not report a single claim to police, a royal commission has heard”

    A problem not solved in 60 years due to them burying their heads in the sand in order to avoid costs in the present.

  65. miriamenglish

    What is it about religion and sexual abuse of children? [shakes head]

    Religious people are always saying that morality comes from religion. Years ago I read an amazing investigation into the correlation between religion and morality. It turns out the correlation is there, but it is negative. The more religious a population, the worse they score on almost every scale of social and moral ill — homicide, child mortality, shorter life expectancy, sexually transmitted disease, teen abortions, teen pregnancies. The societies which are least afflicted by those moral and social ills are those that are most atheist.

    What amazes me most is that although I’ve pointed a lot of religious people to this study, not one has allowed their mind to engage with the facts. It is fascinating what belief does to people.

    [audio src="" /]

  66. diannaart


    Fossil fuels will never deplete. They will eventually become too difficult to extract. This is why they must be conserved.

    Alternative energy IS HOW we CONSERVE fossil fuels. There will always be a use for oil and gas and other minerals – just not polluting the atmosphere at the rate we currently doing.

    Again, Harquebus, population growth is only a part of the problems we face. We need to adapt our economy to include the environment, stop continual growth – actually ‘continual growth, like perpetual motion is not possible in a finite world, we do need to be cooperative across the globe – true global village not global corporatism – while private industry is based upon profit we cannot reach a state of sustainable living. Just as our problems are not confined to a single issue the solutions are diverse and varied.

    Meanwhile you bang on about EROEI, when not bleating about babies – there are downsides to everything, nothing is perfect, however we can do better, we can conserve earth’s resources because we are smart enough to do something about it.

    Thinking of the old adage; “If you cannot be a part of the solution, then you are a part of the problem.” Looking at you, Harquebus.

  67. Harquebus

    I read a lot. Science, economics, energy, politics etc. They are all related. I do this almost every day and is why I am always hanging around here. I read something, I check in, read something else, check in again. My reading list is large. Any URLs that I think are worthy, I record and forward them to politicians and journalists. This why I post so many links. I have hundreds.

    Even when presented with the overwhelming evidence that we are endangering ourselves, nothing is said by politicians and journalists let alone done about it.

    I wish that I could include miriamenglish, diannaart, Kaye Lee and the likes in my mailing list. I think you will all get a better idea of where I am coming from. I truly want a better and sustainable world for all of us as I know that you all do as well.
    TheAimn is included in my list but, how many there receive my emails I do not know.

    If you listen to politicians and the IPCC, we have time to plan and act. The people that I listen to are climatologists, ecologists, physicists etc. and they say we don’t have time anymore, we have to act. Some say it is already too late.

    The changes that we are causing are not linear, they are exponential. Events will very quickly overtake us.

    Here is something that I read a while ago but, didn’t keep the URL because, if I kept the link to everything I read, I would have thousands. When a climate scientist weeps on radio, it conveys a lot more than any report can.

    Here are a few sample links from my latest bulk mail out. I would like to post a lot more. My links about the Arctic and Antarctic would fill a book.
    Let me know if you want to read the rest. My mail outs also include economics, science, loss of liberties etc.

    “Survivable IPCC projections are based on science fiction – the reality is much worse”

    “We can confidently conclude that modern extinction rates are exceptionally high, that they are increasing, and that they suggest a mass extinction under way—the sixth of its kind in Earth’s 4.5 billion years of history.”
    “”What is at stake,” he said, “is the survival of mankind.””

    “The world is entering an era of global food insecurity which is already leading to the “double burden” of both obesity and malnutrition occurring side by side within countries and even within the same families, a leading food expert has warned.”
    “It’s not the fault of the mother, it’s the fault of the food system where the mother cannot afford to buy nutritious food such as dairy, eggs and fruit and is predominantly feeding her child a diet that is rich in calories, such as oil and cereal-based carbohydrates”

    “There are 2,100 new coal plants being planned worldwide — enough to cook the planet”
    “Of those, 557 are actually under construction.”
    “The authors calculate that if even just one-third of these 2,177 coal plants being planned get built and last their full lifetimes, the world will use up nearly all of the carbon budget needed to stay below 2°C of global warming”

    “The new report warns that the warming of the oceans is now unstoppable. Even if we were to cut all carbon emissions tomorrow, the temperature of the world’s oceans will continue to rise for decades, or centuries even.”

    “The study found that the current rate of energy consumption of modern humans is around 24 times that of hunter gatherers. It said the rate of net discharge between mankind’s metabolic needs and the remaining chemical stores is “obviously unsustainable”.”

    “This sudden surge of human impact upon the naturally evolved biosphere – as human numbers went from one to seven billion in just over a century – can fairly be characterized as willful ecocide.
    Yet this relentless industrial growth continues to be falsely equated with progress. Many are unlikely to respond to warnings of imminent doom from specialists until they are much more uncomfortable and unhappy than they are now. By then it will be too late.”

    I read this kind of stuff every day so, please forgive me for always sounding pessimistic. The fact that politicians and main stream media will not touch them is very disheartening for me and is why I do what I do.

    If you are counting on a technological breakthrough to save us then, it had better come along very soon.

    Most of us are on the same side. What can we do together that will produce positive results. Can we gang up on particular politicians about certain subjects perhaps. Turnbull and Brandis on privacy, Greg Hunt on the poisoning of our oceans etc.


  68. diannaart


    I guess I can only speak for myself, although I am positive similar applies to Miriam and Kaye Lee; I read widely, I think carefully, I am tertiary educated (Applied Science).

    What we face is bigger than our petty politicians in Australia, I don’t see ganging up on any particular small-fry Australian politician as the answer – getting rid of the entire lot would be a great start, we need similar change of government across many of the OECD countries, particularly Britain, Canada & USA – we also need to cultivate friendship with countries such as India, Russia, China else not a lot going to be achieved without global cooperation. Therefore, we need to vote in politicians who not only are progressive but are collaboratively minded diplomats who can communicate at a sophisticated and nuanced level with the rest of the world. I don’t see either Abbott or even Shorten as measuring up to even a minimum of the standard required.

    We may well fail as a species – although I do not believe we will die out completely and, unless our failure results in some kind of amnesia, we will begin again, well informed – better informed than any other era.

    Therefore, no need to go back to the caves even in a bad scenario.

    Worst case scenario means Planet Earth will change and other species will adapt.

    So it goes.

  69. Harquebus

    I was sure that I read somewhere that either you or miriamenglish was a scientist. I have always been keen on science and science history. My idol is someone not many have heard of and yet, he has affected just about everyone on the planet and definitely everyone who visits this forum. Dr. John von Neumann.
    My diploma reads “Computer and Information Science”.

    Maybe someone in here will come up with something. Meanwhile, I will continue with my so far failing quest.

    Hope things turn out okay for you and everyone else.


  70. Harquebus

    Unbelievable! Look at this article that I have just read. A technological breakthrough.

    “Gates Foundation-funded birth control microchip implants.
    Callaghan notes that wireless technology allows the remotely controlled chips to essentially activate a woman’s ability to conceive, or prevent it, at will, which amounts to temporary sterilization (if a decision is made, say by an all-powerful government agency, to prevent a woman from bearing a child).

    I haven’t decided good or bad yet. What do the girls here think?

  71. miriamenglish

    You’re kidding, right?

    This is nightmare stuff. It’s the opposite of what’s needed. People, and in particular women, need more choices, not less. In India the government tried for many years pulling people of the streets and forcefully sterilising them. Notice the enormous impact it had on India’s population problem? No? That’s because it didn’t help even one tiny little bit. It probably actually worsened the population problem. Increasing uncertainty and lessening well-being increases the population growth rate. This is why wars, disease epidemics, famines, and natural disasters all cause massive spikes in the population growth rate.

    If you want to push population growth then take away choices from people (especially women) while doing nothing to help their living standards. You’ll be rewarded with accelerating births in those not yet forcibly sterilised. It would probably produce violent backlash eventually too.

    If you want to reduce the population, increase well-being and living standards, giving people (especially women because they’re the child-rearers) more control over their own lives. History shows that in those circumstances they choose to have less kids and lavish more attention on the ones they already have. Some will even choose to have no children and put their efforts into a career and helping their extended family. This is what we need: less people and those who are still being born growing up with maximum education and as many life advantages as possible, enabling them to be the best possible planetary custodians.

    There is one way the chip thingy could be a good thing, and that’s if the woman herself controls it… nobody else. Not her husband, not local authorities, not doctors — nobody. Only her. (But of course paternalistic control-freaks won’t allow that.)

  72. Harquebus

    If you have read the article then, you know as much as I do. This is the first that I have heard of it and I will be following it up to confirm shortly.
    It appears on the face of it to be eugenics on steroids and I find this very frightening. Not at all what I expected.
    Your suggestion is a good one although, it is, in my opinion, unlikely that self determination will be allowed.

  73. miriamenglish

    I have a lot of respect for Bill Gates nowadays since he married Melinda. Before he met her he seems to have been something of an asshole. She seems to have channeled him into being an honestly good person and trying to truly do good for humanity. That Natural News site seems to love conspiracy theories, so there is the possibility that he intends to give the women control over their own reproductive capability. However that probably won’t have much, or any, effect on birthrate unless it is accompanied by increases in standard of living.

    One risk is that they’ll think they’ve done enough for the woman after giving her the device. If that’s the case they will most likely be sorely disappointed.

    Another risk is that the choice to have children will be taken out of her hands. As I said, that is more likely to increase the birthrate because of fear and uncertainty it will produce in others. I can almost hear people saying, “Quick. We’d better have kids now before the government sterilises us.” Boom. Population explosion.

    When life is bad and uncertain, and people have no social safety net, they look to their kids to support them when they get old. And if kids frequently die early, parents have as many kids as possible to ensure some will survive.

    When life is good and people know they will be fine even into old age they concentrate on their careers, or if they have kids they have the minimum necessary so they can give each the maximum opportunities in life.

  74. Harquebus

    It appears on the face of it that, the article I posted is true. I have never liked Bill Gates and have always distrusted him.

    This could be a real game changer and I will be following this one closely.
    Although I am population control advocate, others deciding who gets to breed and who doesn’t seems to me to be inherently evil.

  75. Harquebus

    What else can this kind of technology do? Identification, tracking, cashless transactions….
    I think this has the possibility for the state to control ones life completely.

  76. totaram

    Neil of Sydney: “I think you lefties are mad.”

    Actually, either you are a paid shill, or you are brainwashed by neo-liberal macro-economic mumbo-jumbo like many others. Watch this video (if you dare)


  77. diannaart

    Excellent posts, Miriam.

    As you have patiently pointed out there is no single magic bullet solution; no point in addressing fertility if living standards remain dismal, cannot address inequality without free education for all, girls as well as boys, and so much more.


    You completely missed my point regarding who is well read, educated and so on – you claim to be educated yet fail to consider issues broadly, for example referring to adult women as “girls”? You do understand why male blacks loathe being called “boy” don’t you?

    I am energy poor ATM, so will sign of on this Harquebus, you are not the only ‘gay in the village’ – I don’t expect you to get that, try thinking you are not the only thinking person to post at AIMN – many intelligent, insightful, reasonable, brilliant people contribute here and much more worthy of my time.

    Instead of trying to convince us that only reducing population and then, we will somehow be enabled to continue with dinosaur technology. There are a couple of things you can do:

    1. Actually read what people say – instead of dismissing everything – many people have excellent ideas, the problem is not so much solutions, but how to convince our leaders, governments, corporations that we must adapt to changing planetary conditions immediately.

    2. Take a good hard look at yourself – you are not the fount of all knowledge you think you are.

    I am not learning anything from you the way I do with Miriam, Kaye, Douglas, Sir Scotchmistery, John Kelly, Roswell, Rossleigh and many, many more – not because I agree with everything they – I don’t always agree with everyone.

    However, what they have in common is the desire to provide interesting and thoughtful comment without an agenda to ‘win’ or whatever it is you wish to do here.

    So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye
    Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye

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