Interesting stuff

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Blowin started the topic in Friday, 21 Jun 2019 at 8:01am

Have it cunts

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velocityjohnno commented Thursday, 21 May 2020 at 2:02pm

Before I turn my eyes to the closing hours, it's time for a fubar monetary policy story. If you artificially distort the interest rate (QE) it goes lower than inflation, and thus is a negative real interest rate. If that happens, businesses that shouldn't exist (ie, unprofitable) will exist, and in this case go on a rampage, taking out smaller businesses that were actually profitable and grew organically. They do this by accessing near unlimited funds through stock and bond markets, when these are being bought up by the central bank so nobody fails, or financial companies close to the money spigot. Brilliant write up:

https://wolfstreet.com/2020/05/19/what-unicorn-money-sinkholes-actually-...

"So what are we really looking at here with Wayfair, Zillow, Redfin, Compass, Uber, Lyft, WeWork, Carvana, Tesla, Airbnb, Casper Sleep, Zume, just to cite a few?

These are companies that have an app – OK, anyone can have an app these days – and they’re doing what other companies have been doing for a long time profitably, except these new entries are losing a ton of money doing it.

Let’s start with Wayfair. Wayfair is an online furniture retailer. I’ve used it, and it was OK. I’ve used other furniture retailers, and they were OK too. The thing that makes Wayfair unique is that its losses have nearly doubled every year. They’re rising on an exponential curve: from $77 million in losses in 2015 to $194 million in losses in 2016, to $245 million in 2017, to $504 million in 2018, to nearly $1 billion in losses in 2019.

I dread to see what 2020 will look like. It’s going to be a doozie. During the stay-at-home phase of our economy, consumption has shifted to the internet, and Wayfair sales will likely rise sharply in the current quarter, but the losses will make our ears ring – because Wayfair operates on the principle: the more it sells, the more it loses."

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velocityjohnno commented Thursday, 21 May 2020 at 2:57pm

...and embedded mirth in that last one's comments, the original pizza arbitrage trader, funny story:

https://themargins.substack.com/p/doordash-and-pizza-arbitrage

"If someone could pay Doordash $16 a pizza, and Doordash would pay his restaurant $24 a pizza, then he should clearly just order pizzas himself via Doordash, all day long. You'd net a clean $8 profit per pizza [insert nerdy economics joke about there is such a thing as a free lunch].

He thought this was a stupid idea. "A business as successful a Doordash and worth billions of dollars would clearly not just give away money like this." But I pushed back that, given their recent obscene fundraise, they would weirdly enough be happy to lose that money. Some regional director would be able to show top-line revenue growth while some accounting line-item, somewhere, would not match up, but the company was already losing hundreds of millions of dollars. I imagined their systems might even be built to discourage catching these mistakes because it would detract, or at a minimum distract, from top-line revenue.

So we put in the first order for 10 pizzas."

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AndyM commented Thursday, 21 May 2020 at 3:05pm

I'm still waiting for Vic Local and Facto's cries of racist.

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Pops commented Thursday, 21 May 2020 at 3:12pm

VJ, that's just bizarre.

He who hesitates is lost

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velocityjohnno commented Thursday, 21 May 2020 at 4:19pm

It truly is. Like I said many pages ago, maybe it's like we've been in a financial twilight zone since 2008.

A best explanation of the mechanics of this new bizarre is by same author, Rajan Roy:

https://themargins.substack.com/p/zirp-explains-the-world

If one can understand this one can come to terms with a $120,000 banana, or WeWork.

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Blowin commented Thursday, 21 May 2020 at 4:57pm

Gareth Aird , Head of Australian economics at the CBA is a racist.

And probably a xenophobe. His latest report in full :

“Key Points:

Net overseas migration and in turn population growth is forecast to decline significantly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lower net overseas migration will have a material negative impact on aggregate growth rates in the economy, but per capita outcomes will be less affected.
The drop in net overseas migration due to COVID-19 is an opportunity for policymakers to review thelong term strategy related to population growth and immigration in Australia.
Overview

One of the profound short to medium term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Australian economy will be lower net overseas migration (NOM). Indeed there will be a lot less migration and emigration taking place globally. But Australia will feel the impact more than most other jurisdictions because we have been more dependent on NOM as a growth driver over recent years. The more reliant you are on something the more you feel its absence. Residential construction and some parts of the education sector in particular will be hit hard. But it’s not all one way. There will be some benefits to the resident population, like stronger growth in public investment per capita.

The bottom line is that lower NOM has both an impact on the supply and demand sides of the economy. A large drop in population growth will have significant negative impacts on aggregate measures of the economy like GDP growth and employment. But it will have a much more muted impact on per capita measures of the economy like GDP per capita and the unemployment rate. It is per capita outcomes which ultimately matter for living standards.

In this note we take a look at what the drop in NOM because of COVID-19 means for the economy in the near term. And we also bring into the discussion what a lower level of NOM more generally would mean for the economy over the longer run.

The context

Australia’s population grew by a strong 1.5% (i.e. 373k) over the year to Q3 19 (latest available). NOM accounted for 62.5% of that increase. NOM differs from the permanent migrant intake although it is a big driver of immigration. NOM arrivals are international travellers, overseas students and temporary workers who stay in Australia for 12 months or more over a 16-month period (charts 1 & 2). Many travellers, students and temporary workers go on to be permanent migrants so there is a strong relationship between NOM and immigration.

Australia’s strong rate of NOM means that our population growth rate has been significantly higher than most other OECD countries (chart 1). As we have remarked in the past, a high population growth rate means that making comparisons of economic performance between Australia and other OECD countries using aggregate growth rates like GDP can be misleading. As Governor Philip Lowe commented in 2017, “our strong population growth has flattered our headline growth figures.”

Having a strong population growth rate for a sustained period of time has had implications for the industry composition of the economy. More specifically, Australia has a larger construction sector relative to other developed economies that have slower rates of population growth. Strong growth in the number of people means that more needs to be built –dwellings, roads, schools, hospitals, ports etc. This means that a greater proportion of the workforce in Australia is employed in the construction sector than would otherwise be the case.

The Government recently announced that it expects NOM to fall by ~30% in 2019/20 and by ~85% in 2021/22. The 2019 Budget assumed NOM of ~270k so applying the Government’s expected reduction in NOM to its previous forecasts leaves NOM of ~190k in 2019/20 and ~40k in 2020/21. This means that there is an expected shortfall of around ~310k in NOM over the next 18 months compared to original estimates. Population growth will slow sharply from 1.5% to 0.7%/yr over that period (chart 4).

What does lower NOM mean for the economy

A material drop in NOM has both short and longer term economic impacts. These primarily relate to GDP, the labour market and the housing market. We cover each below.

GDP

Lower NOM means less people spending and less economic activity than would otherwise be the case. This lowers potential GDP growth, which is a function of population growth, participation and productivity. Put simply, GDP will be lower than otherwise with a reduction in NOM. On our estimates we are looking at a reduction in GDP of 0.75%-1.0% over 2020/2021 due to the sudden drop in NOM (note that we are forecasting overall GDP to fall by 2.8% in 2020/21). Things don’t look as bad, however, on a per capita basis.

The drop in NOM over 2020/21 is only expected to shave 0.2% off GDP per capita. The reason that GDP per capita falls in the short run is primarily due to the big demand shock to residential construction (see below). But in the medium to longer term a permanent reduction in NOM each year should have no impact on GDP per capita once the economy has rebalanced. For example, NOM could be halved without any impact on GDP per capita over the medium to longer term.

It is often argued that that a higher rate of NOM helps to offset the impacts of the growth in the dependency ratio (the age-to-population ratio of those typically not in the labour force). And this should lead to higher GDP per capita. That is true in the short run. But it makes no difference in the long run. As the Productivity Commission argued in April 2016, “the continuation of an immigration system oriented towards younger working-age people can boost the proportion of the population in the workforce and, thereby, provide a ‘demographic dividend’ to the Australian economy. However, this demographic dividend comes with a larger population and over time permanent immigrants will themselves age and add to the proportion of the population agedover 65 years.”

In other words everybody gets old and so a higher rate of NOM cannot boost GDP per capita in the medium to longer term (chart 6).

Housing

Lower NOM will have an impact on the demand for housing. Lower growth in the population means less demand for new housing and less residential construction than would otherwise be the case. In Australia’s case the impact of lower NOM on new dwelling construction will be very significant. Australia’s population has grown by ~380k per annum over the past two years. That means underlying demand for new housing has been running at ~185k dwellings per year (i.e. on the assumption of 2.1 persons per dwelling).

But with population growth set to drop to 185k in 2020/21 the underlying demand for new housing plummets to 90k. As such, we recently materially downwardly revised our forecasts for dwelling commencements in 2020 and 2021 (see here and charts 7 and 8). This means that we expect a big drop in residential construction (down ~9% in 2020/21)and we do not expect dwelling investment to return to pre-COVID-19 levels until Q1 22 when NOM is assumed to lift towards the budget assumption. Over this period the fall in dwelling construction will have a big impact on the number of people employed in the residential construction sector.

We also downwardly revised our outlook for dwelling prices and expect a 10% fall in prices over the next 6 months. While lower NOM is not the primary reason we did that, it did feed into our view on house prices because everybody needs a roof over their head. Strong NOM keeps a lid on vacancy rates as well as puts upward pressure on rents and prices. As the Productivity Commission also noted in their April 2016 report, “high rates of immigration put upward pressure on land and housing prices in Australia’s largest cities. Upward pressures are exacerbated by the persistent failure of successive state, territory and local governments to implement sound urban planning and zoning policies.”

Labour market and wages

A drop in NOM slows the rate of demand for labour, while also lowering the growth in the supply of labour. It means that a lower level of employment growth is required to keep the unemployment rate from rising because growth in the labour force is slower than otherwise. A drop in NOM means that headline employment growth will be lower, but the impact on the unemployment rate is negligible in the long run. In Australia’s case, however, there is likely to be a negative short run impact on the unemployment rate coming from job losses related to residential construction and some parts of the education sector that are impacted by lower NOM (students who stay more than a year are counted in NOM but not those that stay less than a year. Note that we do not include tourism here as most tourists do not stay for more than a year – NOM and short term arrivals are two different things).

From a wages perspective, a high level of NOM augments the supply of labour beyond what would have naturally occurred. That intensifies the competition for existing jobs, while of course also adding to the demand for labour. The bigger the supply side shock, the more that the competition for existing jobs intensifies. This puts downward pressure on wages initially, but its effect should only be temporary. However, if the supply side shock continues when slack is elevated the temporary impact may not prove to be so short lived. This has been the pre-COVID-19 case in Australia since the end of the mining boom. We have essentially run a high immigration program via elevated NOM based on the notion of skills shortages even when there has been plenty of slack in the labour market (chart 9).

In 2018/19, the “Skill Stream” accounted for ~70% of the total migration programme outcome. From the perspective of an employee, working in an industry that has a skills shortage means that the labour market in that profession should be tight. In industries with skills shortages, bargaining power between the employee and employer should move more favourably in the direction of the employee and higher wages should be forthcoming. But in Australia’s case there has been a lack of evidence of widespread skills shortages based on the broad-based weakness in wages growth (chart 10 & 11).

The relatively high intake of skilled workers in the past looks to have been a pre-emptive strike on the expectation that there will be skills shortages in the future. If NOM is lowered on a permanent basis then “skills shortages” are likely to manifest themselves over time because employees will find it harder to hire from abroad. This means that employees may see a boost in their bargaining power that is independent of the level of slack in the local labour market. Essentially talent is a scarce resource if firms cannot hire from a global pool of labour as they may have previously done.

Wages growth is going to very weak in Australia for several years now regardless of the drop in NOM because of the big increase in the unemployment and underemployment rates and resultant increase in labour market slack. But we wouldn’t be surprised to see some pockets of wages growth due to the sudden drop in NOM as firms cannot hire workers from abroad. Fruit picking is an obvious example that illustrates the point. It may be the case that local primary food producers will need to offer higher wages for fruit picking to attract local workers to the jobs. The bottom line is that there will be opportunities for local workers to push for higher wages if the demand for labour exceeds its supply.

Public Investment

Public investment has risen as a share of GDP in recent years as many state governments as well as the federal government have focussed on relatively large infrastructure programs (chart 12). The COVID-19 pandemic is not expected to result in any material changes to the public works programs. This means that as NOM declines public investment per capita will rise (chart 13). This should be considered a positive development for all Australians as more public investment per person means a lift in living standards, all else equal.

As a basic rule of thumb, public investment should at least be sufficient in size to both replenish the capital stock and match the lift in population. If the population is growing rapidly then underinvestment in the number of schools and hospitals, as well as public transport and a host of other vital public facilities, leaves households worse off. The drop in NOM will allow infrastructure to partially “catch up” to the growth in population.

Time for reflection?

Australia is one of the most desirable places in the world to live, work, holiday, retire and raise a family. The major cities of Australia are almost always near the top of the various lists that rank cities by “quality of life” metrics. Australia usually scores very well on measures that relate to the political and social environment, economy, healthcare, education, public services and climate. In addition, Australia is blessed with an endowment of natural resources that is second to none. It is indeed the ‘lucky country’ and policymakers should seek to preserve the things that make Australia such a great place.

There has been a lot of discussion around policy reforms that may result from the COVID-19 pandemic – the phrase ‘never waste a good crisis’ has been thrown around frequently over the past two months. The push for productivity enhancing reforms is the correct one because improvements in productivity raise living standards. Indeed living standards should take centre stage in the policy debate.

The drop in NOM due to COVID-19 is an opportunity for policymakers to review the long term strategy related to population growth and immigration in Australia. The targeted level of NOM and immigration over the medium to longer term should strike the right balance between fostering growth in the economy while preserving and indeed enhancing living standards of the existing population. A full appraisal of the benefits and costs of various levels of NOM and by extension immigration should be undertaken to determine the optimal level of NOM for Australian residents.”

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Vic Local commented Thursday, 21 May 2020 at 5:04pm

Andy M, I'm more than happy to read VJ's opinions because they are made in good faith and are interesting.
I just won't cop anti-immigrant opinions that are based on racism, are mean-spirited, and justified with bullshit facts.
BTW, all the companies that VJ lists (uber etc) are valuable because of their databases. They mine valuable personal information from hundreds of millions of people. They don't just sell lifts, easy shopping, food delivery etc, they will eventually be selling our data or using it in other profitable schemes. Companies are happy to lose shitloads of $$$ mining our information, knowing they will be raking in the $$$ using that data later.

"angry online, smiley in the brine"

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freeride76 commented Thursday, 21 May 2020 at 5:53pm

that was a good read Blowin.

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velocityjohnno commented Thursday, 21 May 2020 at 5:59pm

That is a very good point VL, the data harvesting. Maybe my brain isn't capable of seeing a 3rd dimension of profit, but I can't see how 150 million people's data ordering a pizza can add up to more than the $ value of 150 million pizzas... If anyone has the good oil on how Big Data works, that would be a great read, cheers in advance

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Vic Local commented Thursday, 21 May 2020 at 6:22pm

Here's a couple of examples of data mining. Strava is a fitness app popular with cyclists. They started off getting their revenue from premium subscriptions, but the information they collect from the millions of cycling trips is staggering. City officials love the data for transport planning and are happy to pay for it.
A few years ago airports started offering discounts for parking if you paid online using a specific credit card. Now as soon as you arrive at an Airport, tracked by that credit card getting inserted at the boom gates, the airport company can then track you via your phone. They know where you go in an airport, where you fly to, where you shop, where you eat etc etc. They could even work with other airports to work out where you rent cars from, and whether you stay at an airport hotel. It's staggeringly valuable information.
While the companies you mentioned may be loss leaders, I'm tipping the information their customers hand over, allows associated companies (most likely domiciled in tax havens) to make a lot of money.

"angry online, smiley in the brine"

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AndyM commented Thursday, 21 May 2020 at 6:24pm

VL I don't see any of Blowin's last post being based on racism.

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Vic Local commented Thursday, 21 May 2020 at 6:32pm

"VL I don't see any of Blowin's last post being based on racism."
Andy M, It's because it's a copy and paste job. When Blowin starts inserting his own opinions, that's when the racism kicks in.

"angry online, smiley in the brine"

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AndyM commented Thursday, 21 May 2020 at 6:37pm

I was assuming that Blowin's views were the same as the cut and paste, that's why he did it.

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Blowin commented Thursday, 21 May 2020 at 7:06pm

This is getting farcical.

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Terminal commented Thursday, 21 May 2020 at 7:28pm

On the topic of big data, imagine what health insurance companies could do with this little bad boy:
https://www.lumen.me

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Terminal commented Thursday, 21 May 2020 at 7:35pm

That thing generates what is essentially a longitudinal dataset at the individual scale for body conditions, activity levels etc.

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Blowin commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 6:15am

Courtesy of Beachgrit , the Surfing Australia guide to Wuflu etiquette :

Chas Smith took the piss out of it well enough .

“1. Surf the spot closest to your home ONLY.

2. Wax up and prepare at home. Put on your wetsuit, boardies and other gear at home before driving to the beach.

3. Follow physical distancing at all times coming and going to the beach. For example, if you have a narrow path to the beach wait an extra minute for it to clear before you walk down.

4. Have a surf and leave immediately, don’t chat with mates in the car park. Call them on your phone.

5. If the surfing spot is overcrowded – don’t go out

6. Don’t paddle next to someone like you would normally. Give them more space.

7. CRITICAL CHANGE – take it in turns. Do not paddle back over to the peak after catching a wave. Wait your turn patiently on the shoulder.

8. Don’t change in the parking lot. Wrap your towel around yourself and go home.“

https://beachgrit.com/2020/05/surfing-australia-delivers-highly-anticipa...

Wonder if Surfing Australia would be interested in a guide on “How to not fuck a good thing “ regarding their commercial imperative to overwhelm every break in Australia ?

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Fliplid commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 6:13am

That Macrobusiness article was a good read, thanks for putting it up Blowin

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Blowin commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 6:20am

Fliplid .....when the Head of Australian Economics at one of the Big Four banks is calling time on the population Ponzi you know there’s been a paradigm shift . The CBA has profited more than anyone. If they’re pulling back the curtain it’s telling me that there’s cracks appearing in the architecture of the Big Australia movement.

Thank Christ for that.

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Blowin commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 6:27am

It’s in the mail ....digital Global currency by 2023 at the latest.

US will go down swinging.

https://decrypt.co/29513/france-announces-first-successful-test-of-a-dig...

BHP has accepted a payment in Yuan for a shipment to China. China pushing its digital currency hard.

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Blowin commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 6:31am

Taiwan as the location for the proxy hot war between China and US ?

Tensions ramping. China coming down hard on Hong Kong is the excuse the West needs to galvanise the rhetoric against the CCP.

https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/International-relations/Taiwan-is-extre...

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Fliplid commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 6:31am

If anyone has a handle on the situation it would be someone in his position. A good note of optimism for the way forward as well. See what happens when that comes against self interest though.

A big win for China re the Yuan, aiming to be the new global currency?

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Blowin commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 7:42am

The ALP no longer even trying to hide its capture by the CCP.

ALP federal frontbencher , Joel Fitzgibbon: "We've been demonising the Chinese and their system of governance,"

What did he just say ?

That it’s wrong for Australia to hold a dim view of a totalitarian dictatorship which violently oppresses its own people ? That we should encourage a government which holds zero regard for human freedom or individual rights ?

The ALP is like a formerly valuable beast which has fallen into the water supply and it’s rotting carcass is poisoning the essential qualities of Australian life.

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Blowin commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 8:14am

In case anyone wonders why I bother harping on about the population Ponzi ... https://youtu.be/h8llN69Pmcw

I want to infect you !

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sypkan commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 8:16am

"The ALP no longer even trying to hide its capture by the CCP.

ALP federal frontbencher , Joel Fitzgibbon: "We've been demonising the Chinese and their system of governance,"

What did he just say ?"

I saw this interview, and even PK (as they call her) couldn't believe what she was hearing, and asked for clarification. he didn't back down...

what i want to know is, is this about money? or ideological alignment?

it does my head in this blind faith thingy, we see it on here, you'd hope their loyalty is not being bought so easily, the $ are pittance in the bigger scheme of things...

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sypkan commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 8:23am

...interesting scenes in hong kong parliment this week, with ccp rugby scrums and storm trooper walls needed to protect the ongoing corruption of the chamber

taiwan is the hot spot, i reckon china is about to do something really dumb there

(or really justified dependimg on who's ideological cash/cock one likes to gurgle)

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Blowin commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 8:30am

The LNP demanding greater transparency and accountability from the companies which police transparency and accountability of the private sector , whilst the government abrogates its civic responsibilities and allows the corporate Wild West mentality to flourish.

https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/new-rules-for-litigation-funders...

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sypkan commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 8:53am
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AndyM commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 9:03am

You gonna put your name down Syppo?

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sypkan commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 9:58am

dunno andym, never even considered it, i don't really do social media. I just use it to read stuff, I've literally never 'liked' anything, and that's not just my inherently grumpy persona talking...

pettitions, change.org, gofundme etc. ...all seems to be a bizarre mix of narccicism and slacktivism to me...

Im morally opposed to the whole kit and caboodle... i threw project nasi a few bucks, first time I've 'engaged' with any of these platforms

might go back and have a look tho now you've called me out on it...

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Johknee commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 9:29am

Going back a bit because I'm surprised most were agreeing to this post from saltyone.

"Tech- well I actually don't think we need to grow technology. I would like to see things revert back to before smart technology. Life was simpler, cheaper to maintain. We were all fine before mobile phones it wasn't a necessity ."

Sure, there are negatives sides to technology, but what makes you think that reducing reliance/growth of technology is a good thing? Your argument sounds nostalgic, emotional and negative. I don't think it is objectively true that those good old days were necessarily better, perhaps in your subjective experience and because it's how you like to live - which is fine. And just like the good old days, you have a choice so don't consume if you don't want to.

"Social media has taken over so much now and its a cesspool of information and opinions. everyone wants their slice of the pie. not all is bad but the bigger picture is it is too much and so our attention spans have been altered , I'm sure it affects the younger peoples brains to critically think .. as more time is spent grooming their selfie pics than reading up and learning about whats going on in the environment around them ."
True, the internet/social contains a lot of shite, but some valuable information/conversations too. Big claim that social media affects brains, but no evidence to suggest this is true. Young people have got to WANT to LEARN critical thinking. You really think it was any different when you/I grew up? The only difference was the type of distraction. There is no evidence that social media stunts the young's mental growth. Young people are always going to want to fit in and do what's new and exciting and fun. Again, your preference is to learn to be critical and you're free to share and hold that opinion/preference, but your post comes off as a little prescriptive.

"Interesting that many of the billionaires these days are tech nerds- musk/gates/zuckerberg/bezos .. starting out in their garages/bedrooms with their old computers and sucking us in. for better or worse.. I say worse. People are willing to spend thousands on new phones , computers and gadgetry that in the big scheme of things is not really helping the world to become a better place."

The technophobia argument is getting old. People spend thousands on surfboards that in the big scheme of things do not help the world become a better place. We need to take down Darrren Handley and Jason Stephens - the fuckin' surf-nerds!

"Kids are all glued to screens and phones and many addicted to violent video games"
Same, emotional, pining for the good ole days as above. And what is your point here? That violent video games make violent children? Have a listen to this podcast about the negatives of screen time. Also, Jonathon Haidt has written on social media and mental health.

"and snap chat, when they instead could be outside playing with other kids, being in nature and learning about growing food, being around animals, learning about sustainability , or learning an instrument ,art, building and creating and community ..all sorts. "

Sorry, but this made me laugh. Why do you want the young to be like you? What if they value and derive pleasure through their 'connections' on social media platforms? I think social media is a waste of time too, but I'm not naive enough to think they SHOULD go and do other things because I have a preference for worm farming. Very prescriptive and sounds a little too 'Nimbim, my Nimbim' to me.

"The amount of tech hardware that gets thrown away.. sure some gets recycled - but that's costly too. Mining for cobalt in Congo.. ( which is growing as demand for more and more tech grows ) children work in awful conditions so you can buy the latest apple watch etc. (Interesting - as a side note- Congo has a population of 84 million yet only 1,731 cases of covid so far and 61 deaths.)"

We're ALL shitting on this planet and its inhabitants in more ways than one. There seems to be a theme in this post and your posts in the past - technophobia. I agree the environmental impacts are bad, but it's not the whole story i.e. the positives of technology. The environmental argument applies to just about EVERY consumer product.

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Blowin commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 10:20am

University of Queensland seeking permission / approval from the Chinese government for their actions in Australia pertinent to pro-Hong Kong protesters.

https://twitter.com/DrewPavlou/status/1263268199627284481

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Blowin commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 10:23am

From Macrobusiness :

“In short, UQ collaborated with Chinese officials on how it should go about attacking pro-democracy protesters on its campus.

Let’s not beat around the bush. This is treason: aiding a hostile foreign power in its pursuit to silence, intimidate and even physically harm Australian youth. The purpose of this is to make an example that prevents any future pro-democracy protests, or thoughts of doing so, on Australian soil.

Why this has not triggered alarm across the Australian press is a question you might want to ask yourself. But it’s not the same on the other side of the ANZUS treaty. In the US, Drew Pavlou is creating a major stir. A week ago he appeared in the august Foreign Policy magazine to plead his case:

The Chinese Communist Party’s attempted cover-up during the earliest stages of the coronavirus pandemic doomed the world to a historic public health disaster, one that would shatter the lives of billions of people. In the face of this catastrophe, both U.S. and European policymakers and thinkers have called for a reevaluation of their countries’ economic and political ties with this regime.

Sadly, the experience of critics like myself in Australia, a country far more reliant on Chinese economic ties than Europe or the United States, shows that decoupling will not be an easy task. After being an outspoken campus critic of Chinese state human rights abuses, I now face expulsion from the University of Queensland (UQ), where I am a fourth-year philosophy student, on the grounds that I “prejudiced” the university’s reputation by using my position as an elected student representative to express support for Hong Kong’s democratic protesters.

And today, the bluest of US strategic policy blue-bloods, Walter Russell Mead, took up the alarm on the cover of the WSJ:

…keeping Beijing happy is essential to the UQ business model, and hosting a Confucius Institute is part of the package. Roughly 20 per cent of the university’s students last spring were from China, and international students pay much higher tuition fees than locals.

Furthermore, vice-chancellor Peter Hoj received a performance bonus of $200,000 in part because of his success in strengthening the university’s relations with China in ways that supported student recruitment. Hoj was committed. He not only allowed a Confucius Institute to be established on campus; he served for several years as an unpaid consultant to the Confucius Institute’s international board. At least one course jointly funded by the institute and UQ highlighted China’s emerging world leadership in, among other topics, counter-terrorism, human rights and the prevention of mass atrocities.

It was apparently intolerable that a student insulted an institution so august. UQ compiled a 186-page dossier of Pavlou’s alleged misdoings and summoned him to a hearing at which he faces possible expulsion.

If WRM has taken up Mr Pavlou’s case then concern over UQ treason now runs right to the very top of the US security establishment.

It is, therefore, not too much of a stretch to argue that treasonous UQ behaviour is now directly undermining ANZUS. Certainly such alliances are based upon national interests not individuals. But they are made up and interpreted by people. Why would any US citizen spill blood to defend an Australia that can be so easily lifted of its principles?

And this as the CCP press daily insults Australia, daily cuts trade agreements, and is now launching an all-out war on Hong Kong democracy. Via the always excellent Richard McGregor last night on Bolt:

UQ treason must be stopped. Its behaviour is an outrageous violation of an Australian citizen’s free speech, egged on, and directed by, CCP agents of influence and the dollars they channel via the international student trade. The federal government should pull UQ funding until it:

clears out China-corrupted management;
reduces its dependence on Chinese international students;
removes the Confucious Institute from campus,
and apologises plus makes reparation to Mr Pavlou.
UQ is operating far out on some autocratic limb in violation of community standards, intellectual principle, democractic rights, national interest policy, and now it is undermining bedrock Australian security treaties as well.“

sypkan's picture
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sypkan commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 10:45am

"Your argument sounds nostalgic, emotional and negative. I don't think it is objectively true that those good old days were necessarily better, "

it does sound very nostalgic, emotional, subjective...

but it is totally correct... haha

"..What if they value and derive pleasure through their 'connections' on social media platforms? "

I'm sure they do derive 'pleasure' through these 'connections', that doesn't mean anything is increasing or improving. many psychologists argue these connections are false and shallow at best

plus it makes the kids whingey, pasty, doughboy, inco. little telly tubbies... they're bloody annoying... useless...

plenty of experts think kids are developing brains differently, short attention spans that can jump from topic to topic, but lacking deep understanding that only comes from reading and engaging in a topic at a sustained deeper level

...basically, they know everything, with little understanding of anything...

always exceptions, and the nerd kids who's 'special interest' is tech. will kill it, but for many kids the tech. is an intrusion distracting them from all that is important

its no coincidence the smart tech. dudes put their kids in waldorf/stiener type schools... they know stuff ...they're literally pushing the buttons...

there's no going back though, this is the brave new techo. world, but a little critical thinking about its merits would go a long long way

luckily we are starting to see that now

freeride76's picture
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freeride76 commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 10:47am

I am seeing in my own close relations plus many others, the devastating, devastating impact of "social" media on the young.
there is an epidemic of mental health problems, particularly in adolescent girls that is being fuelled by highly addictive social media sites.

They are not benign. Not neutral.

There is a reason the Silicon Valley tech nerds keep their kids away from social media/tech.
https://www.businessinsider.com.au/silicon-valley-parents-raising-their-...
They understand how addictive and harmful it is, particularly for developing brains.

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Pops commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 11:10am

FR, agree with that... looks like there is some small benefit of limited exposure due to the social connectedness/support, but heavy use has links with elevated stress, decreased perceived quality of life, etc.
Funnily enough, I'm doing the "pushup challenge" fundraiser for headspace at the moment; each day has a certain number of pushups representing some mental illness-related statistic, and todays stat was to do with social media use.

He who hesitates is lost

Dale -Cooper's picture
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Dale -Cooper commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 11:14am

Does Swellnet qualify as 'social media'?

Asking for a friend...

“The dog leg. That dog had four legs. One you found in my trunk. The other three went out with the information you're thinking about right now. Two people you don't want coming around here if anything bad happens to me.”

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Pops commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 11:31am

Blurry line... depends on how you use it?
At times the forums/comment sections seem a bit like a faux facebook, but with anonymous strangers rather than distant acquaintances.

He who hesitates is lost

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sypkan commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 11:32am

I fucken hope not...

mowgli's picture
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mowgli commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 11:34am

(or really justified dependimg on who's ideological cash/cock one likes to gurgle) - hahahaha

Thanks for that share Blowin.

I would've thought the govt has no choice (seems they've been resisting ever since Abbott won in 2013) to stimulate the economy via mass infrastructure spending. There is a massive backlog/need, debt is cheap (so need for bullshit PPPs), it picks up a lot of labour slack from construction sector, the needs a geographically distributed so the love is shared in metro and regional areas, got fuck all to do with negative gearing so hard for the wealthy to rent seek from it (unless you've got a stake in Transurban and Qantas), and they take ages to complete so the stimulation goes full Sting-tantric-love making (i.e. for a long time).

Also, 'Yuan' is an amount of Chinese currency. The currency is actually called the 'Renminbi'

nah....yeah...but, nah

sypkan's picture
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sypkan commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 11:35am

but yes , probably...

it's just a website in my book

('just' not meant to diminish it's goodlyness)

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mowgli commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 12:04pm

oh, I didn't realise there was a bunch of posts between when I started typing and then finally posted.

UQ is my alma mater, and it's behaviour is atrocious. I'm very concerned. I think I've mentioned elsewhere on here how important it is to look at incentives - positive and negative. Successive Australian governments have sought to push Australia's universities to a self-supporting financial model. The easiest and largest method for doing this is ramping up revenue sourced from international students. So not to absolve UQ's management of its behaviour and getting into bed with the CCP apparatus, but some of the blame lies at the feet of the Commonwealth (especially coalition govts) for essentially pushing them into the arms of foreign revenue reliance.

We've seen other abandonment of principles when it comes to academic standards. Talk to someone that's undertaken study at places like ACU and UNSW over the last several years and they'll tell you there are international students for whom English is not their first/native language that are getting pass marks when they clearly should not. I went to uni in the first decade of the 21st century and it was already starting then. I actually had good support from a particular lecturer that failed two students that I had to work within on a group project who couldn't do even the basics. I basically present a case (with evidence) that I'd done all the work (got a 7 - booyah!). From what I hear I was lucky compared to many experiences in recent times. These observations* in and of themselves are not racist. Sure, how people respond to them can be. But, the current state of affairs should be of concern to everybody as it all has the subsequent effect of undermining the integrity of society across a range of metrics.

*empirical observations cannot be racist. That is quite literally physically impossible. How the info is presented or responded to can certainly be based upon racist beliefs, no doubt about that. Same goes for sexism, etc, etc. But the nutters within the left would have everyone think otherwise. Blows my mind. It's taking us all backwards and in some part has contributed to the right of nutjob thinking/backlash on the right.

nah....yeah...but, nah

AndyM's picture
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AndyM commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 12:20pm

With regards to social media, yes this site is social media and in my opinion yes it can contribute to a "malaise of scrolling" if you don't keep a handle on it.

And talking about engaging at a sustained deeper level, when I'm doing uni assessments the reading and thought processes that take place are on a profoundly different level than just jumping about online or even in hard copy magazines - it's a real change of brain usage to go to that place and it can be uncomfortable because it's an effort and it's a learned and practiced behaviour.

When I see my 11 year old nephew using his phone hidden behind his hat at family gatherings instead of engaging (or importantly, being encouraged by his mum to engage) with what's going on around him, I just can't see it as being a good thing.

As for being a young girl being permanently connected to social media, christ almighty what a minefield.

freeride76's picture
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freeride76 commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 12:31pm

It’s an epidemic of very poor mental health outcomes Andy.
You’ve got no idea how rampant it is.

Dale -Cooper's picture
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Dale -Cooper commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 10:43pm

Re: Mowgli...

Overseas students: immigration policy changes 1997–2015.

https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parlia...

"The nexus between Australia’s overseas student program and permanent skilled migration is complex and constantly evolving. The Howard Government, keen to take advantage of the significant economic benefit provided by the international education sector, sought to attract overseas students through immigration policy measures which provided a pathway to permanent residency. This period saw a rapid growth in the numbers of temporary migrants, including students, transitioning to permanent residency through the skill stream of the Migration Program.

However, these measures also created unintended consequences. In particular, there was a rapid growth in the number of overseas students studying in the vocational education and training (VET) sector, and several commentators expressed concern that overseas students were exploiting the program as a pathway to permanent residency.

In response to significant concerns about the integrity of both the overseas student program and the skill stream of the Migration Program, the Rudd and Gillard Governments moved to decouple the overseas student program from skilled migration.

Concern about declining numbers of overseas students coming to Australia following the reforms of the Rudd-Gillard Government, and in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis, resulted in reforms designed to restore confidence in the program and encourage overseas student enrolments, but these were largely limited to the university sector.

The Abbott Government announced soon after being elected that it intended to encourage increased enrolments in the Vocational Education (VET) sector and restore confidence in Australia’s international education sector as a whole."

In the same period, federal funding was decimated, and in the case of VET (TAFE) out-sourcing to private providers was rife.

Another Howard era structural gift (among many, many, many) we've been grappling with ever since.

And now with COVID-19 the shit has really spilled out all over the toilet floor in so many ways.

And never fear, we've got the Coalition in charge?!

Strap yourself in comrades, with Scotty's budget and industrial relations speechifying next week.

Engadine Maccas, anyone?

“The dog leg. That dog had four legs. One you found in my trunk. The other three went out with the information you're thinking about right now. Two people you don't want coming around here if anything bad happens to me.”

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AndyM commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 12:56pm

Reckon I've got half an idea FR but you're a lot closer to the coal face for sure.

Yep it ain't good.

It seems to me if you don't catch it early and put in boundaries, you're going to spend a lot of time butting heads with your kids and really putting stress on your relationships.

For lazy parents or even for motivated parents, dealing with teenagers with entrenched habits is too late.

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Johknee commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 1:06pm

"it does sound very nostalgic, emotional, subjective...
but it is totally correct... haha"

I think you've missed the point there - all good.

"I'm sure they do derive 'pleasure' through these 'connections', that doesn't mean anything is increasing or improving. many psychologists argue these connections are false and shallow at best"

Why? because they're not face to face? Sounds a little post-hoc to me. Take a read of the links I posted.

"plenty of experts think kids are developing brains differently, short attention spans that can jump from topic to topic, but lacking deep understanding that only comes from reading and engaging in a topic at a sustained deeper level"

Yep, many experts, without a shred of evidence with the exception of Terry's sister's daughter etc etc. And, if it is true, do you think these physiological changes are permanent? Have pre-tech children had infinite attention spans? And what outlier-child seeks a profound understanding of the world? They're kids, cut them some slack.

"...basically, they know everything, with little understanding of anything..."

Who? The psychologists? Aren't you using them to back up your argument? Not following you here.

"its no coincidence the smart tech. dudes put their kids in waldorf/stiener type schools... they know stuff ...they're literally pushing the buttons..."

Not sure how the choice of schooling reflects a distrust of technology. Are public schools in the US run/owned by Facebook? Who'd send their kids to a school with a bunch of stinkin' hippies anyway? ; )
It's true that people in/formerly in tech e.g. Tristan Harris, Jaron Larnier et al have made a name for themselves by pushing back against social media and for good reason, but that's not the entire story. If you can, get ahold of Jaron's book "Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now". It's an interesting read. Anyway, this quote from Jaron resonates with me i.e. really touches me deep in the chakra.

“My inclination is to say that people should become acquainted enough with what the technology can do so that they are less likely to be fooled by it. If you have learned a little bit of magic, you are less likely to be tricked by a magic show, but you still might enjoy the performance a lot.”

Education is key.

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Blowin commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 1:37pm

Facto , accepting that the universities were cornered into finding a new source of funding is a world away from allowing themselves to be captured by a repressive foreign communist dictatorship.

There’s 200 odd nations in the world from which to receive international students. That these supposed pinnacles of Western wisdom were either too ignorant or too greedy to prevent concentrating their students from a single country and then utterly reject the Australian democracy to keep their rivers of gold flowing, wasn’t just ridiculously poor business management, it was ideologically despicable.

Trying to shift blame away from the universities isn’t solving the entrenched problem within their current circumstance.

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Johknee commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 1:52pm
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Blowin commented Friday, 22 May 2020 at 1:55pm

Johnee.....that’s some low brow dogshit.

It’s a wonder the author put their name to it.

She’s got a book to shill , I suppose.