Friday, November 10, 2006

Good jobs result

The number of unemployed people has dropped below 500,000 for the first time since 1990, bringing the unemployment rate down to a 30-year low of 4.6 per cent. But there are signs this may mark a turning point. The fall in the number of people officially registered as unemployed did not result from more people getting jobs, but from a fall in the number of people without a job who were actively looking and available to work.

The latest labour force figures show there was in fact a fall in the number of people with jobs, which has slipped by 32,100 over the last month. It is the first time the number of employed people has fallen in 12 months. There was an increase in the number of part time jobs, but the number of full time positions dropped by almost 50,000.

The workforce has been rising strongly for the past six months, with the number of people in work rising by almost 200,000, leading the Reserve Bank to publicly question the accuracy of official figures showing that the economy is growing by less than 2 per cent on the latest figures.

The fall in the number of people with jobs supports the view that the economy is not growing too fast, however the Reserve Bank will not be comforted by the reduction in the pool of unemployed. The Reserve Bank has argued that the scarcity of labour is one of the bottlenecks preventing the economy from meeting fast growing demand, which is pushing up prices. The Reserve Bank would regard an increase in the number of unemployed as a sign that inflationary pressure was easing.

UBS senior economist Adam Carr said the annual rate of employment growth has now dropped back from 2.7 to 2.5 per cent, but he expects it to fall further. "The broader domestic economy already showing signs of easing and against a back-drop of three rate hikes in six months, it is unlikely that jobs growth will accelerate and the unemployment rate stay down at 4.6 per cent."


PM backs closing wetlands for drinking water supply

Shock, horror for the Greenies

Prime Minister John Howard says he will support the closure of wetlands if it is necessary to secure drinking water during the drought. Yesterday's meeting of state and federal leaders decided to form an advisory group to consider contingency measures in case the drought continues next year. One option canvassed was to close wetlands to divert water to towns.

Mr Howard says people must always receive priority over the environment. "Quite honestly if we have to face the possibility of, for a temporary period, closing down a wetland in order to give people drinking water then I will support closing down a wetland," he said.

Greens Senator Rachel Siewert has attacked the suggestion. "The Prime Minister still doesn't get it, that you need a healthy environment to support people," she said. "And to hear him saying these things makes my mind boggle that he still doesn't get this." [We need swamps to keep us healthy??]


Inexplicable long lives

An older Australian (born in 1951) reflects:

The way the world is run, it seems extraordinary that anybody over the age of 60 is still upright. They should be dead. Consider what they have had to survive to get this far. These people, in fact anybody over 30, went to school during very dark days indeed.

They were days when the canteen sold doughnuts, pies and chips to anybody who wanted them.

They drank carbonated water with weird flavors and absurdly mixed full-cream ice cream in it at times to make something called a "spider".

There were no teachers searching for contraband chocolate in school lunch boxes and no self-righteous doctors from VicHealth explaining impressive charts about childhood obesity.

How did anybody survive past puberty without a fridge and cupboard full of things labelled "lite" or "low fat"? How could life exist and thrive when nobody had the faintest idea what "low GI" meant?

But it did. These baby boomers ate fried dim sims and potato cakes with salt, gulped down bags of lollies, and considered Twisties a health food.

Red meat was served at one meal a day, not one meal a week.

Fish had to be cooked before you ate it, preferably in batter and boiling oil.

Tofu, if ever considered, would have been considered revolting.

Today's food police would have locked up the entire generation. So, how did that generation of boomers survive long enough to become a financial problem important enough to agitate Peter Costello? Of course, the threat was not restricted to killer food. That's only one of the social evils now identified and attacked. Most of the boomers also managed to survive other people's cigarettes.

They went to football games where fans were allowed to smoke in the grandstand in the belief the smoke would blow away.

They travelled on trains with carriages marked "smoking" and "non-smoking", in the belief people could make a choice about their own lives.

They even experimented with 10-to-a-pack cigarettes that were almost certainly designed as starter kits for kids. Yet most of them still developed the good sense to give up smoking.

But how did they survive such a dangerous social life? How did they eat in restaurants where the bloke on the next table would light up an after-dinner smoke with his coffee? Why are so many still alive after spending years drinking more than 4.3 standard drinks a day in bars where smokers were not treated like dangerous criminals? Again, it is probably my approaching birthday, but modern history seems to have thrown up so many questions and so few answers.....

Think about germs, too. A smelly old horse with a smelly old driver used to deliver bread and milk to the front door before dawn.

How did people survive drinking milk that wasn't straight out of the refrigerator and eating bread that wasn't so tightly sealed it could be opened only by laser beam?

And speaking of bread, how did generations thrive while eating bread that wasn't bursting with Omega 3, calcium and a dozen other additives nobody is sure exist?

How could young women still manage to look so attractive 20 years ago without a scientifically designed uplifting device guaranteed to deceive nature and gravity?

Who sorted out the rubbish in those days when it was placed in only one bin? How did households survive without three colour-coded monsters and an army of bin police likely to lay charges if a chicken bone is inadvertently re-cycled?

But perhaps the greatest question of all is this: Why did a generation that spent the first half of its adult life dedicated to excess, independence, freedom and loud music decide to spend the second half of its life writing rules that tell everybody else how to live?


Stern report scare-mongering

Some skeptical comments from Australia:

Few government reports have been greeted with less scepticism than Nicholas Stern's scary scenario on climate change, but seldom has a report purporting to be a serious study been so deficient in scientific back-up. While its contents have been taken as gospel by various interest groups, the media and the ALP, a number of bona fide experts are deeply concerned at the report's lack of any real intellectual rigour.

Without gilding the lily, Dr Brian O'Brien, a strategic and environmental consultant, who was the foundation Director and Chairman of the WA Environmental Protection Authority, and previously Professor of Physics and Space Science in the US, has all the credentials necessary to make a reasoned, educated review of such a report. His verdict is damning. He says that not only are its forecasts out of whack with the last report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of 2001, but also that if Stern wasn't so driven by political goals he should have waited until next year when the IPCC's fourth report is due to be published. "I think they're being quite naughty,'' he said. "All this apocalyptic talk when the situation is not so cataclysmic that they couldn't have waited till 2007 for the best available transparent data rather than rely on the coupling together of a five-year-old, out-of-date IPCC report, amended with references to a difficult-to-obtain German publication Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change, edited by H.J.Schellnhuber (Cambridge University Press), which is not only not readily available but was not subjected to the usual process of peer review.''

Professor O'Brien, who has a number of experiments still orbiting Earth aboard various satellites is currently assisting NASA recover data from the Apollo 11 program which the space agency "misplaced'' before coding, was clearly exasperated when he spoke with me from his Perth home. "There are a number of obvious problems with the report,'' he said, "not least being that Stern relies on the IPCC's 2001 report which estimated the maximum sea level rise forecast by 2100 would be somewhere between 9cm and 88cm and a leaked report of next year's IPCC report says the rise is possibly between 14cm and 43cm.''

Clearly, Stern has chosen to take the darkest possible view of the future. The professor said that in its initial report in 1995, the IPCC explicitly stated that its definition of climate change differed from that of the United Nations and Kyoto, because their definition included natural events plus human activities. "The first question, then, is what is climate change, if the scientific group advising the UN is thinking about natural phenomena as well as the scary stuff?'' he asked. "How about the so-called Federation drought which ran from 1895 to 1903, and the drought which ran from 1991 to '95, or the two in between, which had the most devastating effect in extent and on primary production, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics Year Book for 2001?''

Professor O'Brien referred to remarks made by Robert White, the President of the US National Academy of Engineering to the annual general meeting of the US Academy of Science, in Washington, in April, 1989, where he said: "Whether we in the scientific community like it or not, we have awakened the political beast; we are confronted with an inverted pyramid of knowledge. "A huge and growing mass of proposals for policy action is balanced upon a handful of real facts.''

Professor O'Brien described a diagram of a big inverted pyramid, standing on a tiny little apex of a few facts such as increasing concentration of gases and a mass of assumptions rising on top of that, and exploding into all sorts of models and scenarios.

The Stern report, he said, is now at the peak of the apocalyptic drawing. He said the Stern report's sky-is-falling approach to climate change was exactly the same as the technique used at the first world conference on the changing atmosphere, and implications for global security held in Toronto in June, 1988. The opening quote at the conference, attended by more than 300 people from 46 nations was: "Humanity is conducting an unintended, uncontrolled, globally pervasive experiment whose ultimate consequences could be second only to a global nuclear war.''

This alarmist approach reeked of stupidity, snake oil, and misguided gospel preaching but was in line with a formula adopted by the first chairman of the IPCC, Sir John Houghton, who produced the IPCC's first three reports in 1990, 1995 and 2001 and wrote in his book Global Warming, The Complete Briefing, in 1994: "Unless we announce disasters no one will listen.''

Evoking the Great Depression and World War II may garner headlines for climate change but, without a factual basis, the Stern report is little but grandiose scare-mongering. It would be irresponsible in the extreme for politicians to make major policy changes - and major economic commitments - on such specious arguments.

Hollywoods Australian Idiot wannabees took to the streets of Sydney on Saturday Nov.4 demanding that "the government" do something to stop what was previously known as "Global Warming" they now call "climate change" thats the term they now use to cover their collective arses should it be hot or cold the day they are protesting, it just so happens the day they chose to march and share their collective wisdom among Sydney siders, it rained almost all day.

World famous scientist,climatologists actress /actor and member of the jugglers and clowns union, Cate Blanchett added her vast knowledge of science and meterology "Like the tens of thousands who marched today, I support clean energy and I vote.'' to the pool of chanting Green Peace, Green Left and International Socialist Movement activists who, using their best Henny Penny voices told us the sky is falling and we had all better pay more tax to stop it falling any further, apparently falling skies are very respectfull of World governments and Communist collectives and as such rarely fall on them.


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