Posts Tagged ‘Disinformation’

The National Energy Guarantee

July 17, 2018

The Australian Federal government is pressuring States to sign the National Energy Guarantee (NEG) by August 10. Many people are saying the States should sign because it is the only offer there will be. The Labor party is looking friendly towards the NEG on the grounds it is better than nothing.

The question is, “Is it better than nothing?” That was the subject of a business seminar run by the Smart Energy Council, that I attended this morning. https://www.smartenergy.org.au/

The NEG sets an unchangeable emissions reduction target in the energy sector of 26% by 2030. One problem is that this reduction will already be achieved by 2020, factoring in current renewables development, so the NEG effectively sets a target of no further emissions reduction for 12 years. There is no formal requirement to build any renewable energy between 2020 and 2030. It seems to be expected that reductions to meet Australia’s promises under the Paris agreement, will have to come from farming, transport and mining which are much harder, although they should be reducing as well. The probability is that the Government will simply abandon the targets altogether.

We have no explanation or comparative analysis from the government as to why the NEG is good policy. At one stage the emissions reduction target was changeable over time, now it is not and we do not know why. The NEG is also not finalised. It could be changed in the Government’s party rooms after the States have agreed, so the States are signing blind. Of course the short period for consideration is also a way of avoiding good policy and good discussion – which does not suggest the government is interested in the best policy.

We are told the NEG will fix reliability. However, despite political and Murdoch Empire based assertions to the contrary, the energy supply is well over 99% reliable, and faults so far have resulted from distribution not generation (except when the coal stations fall over because it was too hot).

Our government is a proclaimer of the virtues of free markets, so of course they say the NEG is not regulatory. However, the speakers from the industry this morning, thought the NEG as it stands was highly regulatory, and indeed the points about ensuring possibly unnecessary reliability for everything, means that people have to go through all kinds of hoops they don’t have to at the moment – but it looks like fossil fuels don’t have to, not because they are more reliable, but because they are defined as reliable. So it regulates one part of the industry and not another part.

The Government also says the NEG is technology neutral, but as already implied it is not. Because it set extremely low levels of emissions reduction for 2030 -which will by most accounts be achieved by 2020 – it is not technology neutral it favours greenhouse gas emitting energy sources. It continues the Government’s ideal of apparently sacrificing the environment and climate for fossil fuels.

The view of the speakers at the forum was that the NEG is worse than nothing. It would be better not to have it. Consequently, they advised that even if the government offers nothing else it should be rejected, unless it has a decent emissions reduction target.

At the same time as all this the ACCC is recommending the end of the small scale feed in tariff scheme. This along with other recommendations will massively increase the price of household solar which has so far been very popular. While the parliament had previously agreed this scheme would last until 2030, the government is now refusing to deny that it will end the scheme very soon.

What the NEG does do is probably increase the price of food if targets are imposed on agriculture, and destroy jobs in the renewables business, which have been amongst the growth areas of the economy. It also over regulates the industry. The NEG attempts to lock in a particular market which allows high levels of emissions. This benefits high polluting power companies.

If the NEG gets through we are left with three options.

  • 1) Hope that despite all the subsidy losses, and subsidies already present for fossil fuels, people will want to build renewable power,
  • 2) Find that people won’t build any power at all and when the coal stations close in 15 or so years, find we are without power, or
  • 3) use taxpayers’ money to refurbish or build new coal stations.
  • The technology neutral position seems to prefer option 3. The government voted for something like this in the Senate recently, so we can assume that is the aim.

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    Trump and ‘collusion’

    June 13, 2018

    President Trump denies there is any evidence of his personal collusion with Russia, and that collusion is not a crime anyway, and the investigation should be shut down… An interesting argument. He is innocent and if he is not innocent its not a crime, and no one should investigate any possible crime anyway.

    This is a quick summary of some of the suggestive evidence…

    1) We know Trump publicly asked Russia to release Clinton’s emails. This indicates that he was prepared to work with Russia for his benefit (this is totally in character, its not like its an aberration). We also know that if Clinton had asked the Russians to release Trump’s tax returns or whatever, that every part of the Republican media (and that includes more or less everything in the US with the possible exception of the LA Times and Mother Jones) would be nonstop calling her a traitor. His action could be excused as stupidity, but Trump supporters keep saying how everything he does is well thought out…

    2) We know that people from the Trump campaign met with Russian intelligence at Trump tower, without Lawyers, and denied it. We know Trump wrote the denial. We know they wanted dirt on Clinton and they denied it. We know that at the meeting Russians talked about their governments support for Trump, and we know that the Trump people welcomed this. The meeting was for the purpose of collusion or conspiracy. We know that Trump jr rang a blocked phone number while arranging this meeting, and that the Republicans refused to allow tracing or investigation of that number.

    3) We know that despite all the evidence that the Russians were attempting to manipulate the US campaign, the Trump team denied it and they keep denying it. This is what we would expect if they were colluding or conspiring. They even denied it during the campaign after being briefed by US intelligence that this was the case. In fact by these repeated denials they are helping the Russians manipulate US voting and are colluding for their own benefit (the Russians are not helping the Democrats). Again the Republican media would be screaming for Clinton’s head if she had done this. In any case they are leaving the US wide open for further attack in their favour. This is clearly, at best, opportunistic collusion

    4) We now know that various wealthy Russians associated with Putin were trying to buy influence with and support US conservatives and the NRA. So the Russians were eager to conspire and other ‘conservatives’ were eager for their money to help Trump and Republicans.

    5) We know that friends and associates of Trump and his campaign hunted out Russians to meet in secret during the campaign – by coincidence of course. Nothing to do with Trump, even if some of those people received money from the Trump campaign for unspecified reasons.

    For example it appears Manafort was massively in debt to a Russian oligarch who was working with the Russian government to influence Trump and that Manafort hoped working with Trump would reduce his debts to the Russian. So he, as a member of the Trump campaign, saw his work as useful to Russians.

    Likewise other people tried to get information on Clinton from the Russians for Trump, and lied about it, even when they were told that such actions amounted to collusion.

    Roger Stone ‘predicted’ the hacking of Clinton’s emails before they were released, apparently showing he had knowledge of the hack presumably through contact with Russians – unless he is a successful psychic.

    Trump junior also attended a meeting with a governor of Russia’s central bank, apparently to set up channels of communication – who knows what else? Whether this is connected with the Trump Tower meeting needs investigation.

    6) There is no evidence that Trump and friends believe they are innocent. They try to obstruct and smear the inquiry at every moment. They also draw fake equivalencies, accusing Democrats of spying on them, when there is little to no evidence of this etc. They display no eagerness to get at the Truth at all, merely to prevent it emerging. In this they are unlike Jill Stein, and nobody seriously thinks she is involved, despite this being a Republican talking point to make the inquiry look political. We know Trump tried to stop or corrupt the investigation from the beginning and remove people he considered unfriendly (we might consider these as people who tried to be ethical and not intimidated by him). We have repeated evidence of witness tampering and attempts to obstruct justice by people associated with Trump. Amazing if there is nothing in it.

    7) There are stories of Trump talking to people from Saudi Arabia about getting help.

    8) We know Trump was involved with supporters who used Cambridge Analytica to help manipulate disinformation and that these people had contacts with Russians and lied about it – as usual.

    9) We know that Wikileaks collaborated with Russian hackers, who were possibly connected with the Russian government to favour Trump and did nothing to favour Clinton or hinder Trump. We also know that that there was a lot of talk that Trump was planning to pardon Assange… We know there were two othe hacks into Democratic party email servers during 2016: One that stole Democratic National Committee emails and one that stole correspondence from John Podesta’s personal Gmail account, these hacks were also probably by Russian hackers. Trump and co were eager for scandalous content in these emails – ie they were hoping the Russians would collaborate with them. Almost nothing resulted from this, except that Republicans kept implying there was something shady about the Democrats…. and that stuff would soon be released. It was coincidentally released at times which benefitted the Trump campaign or distracted from his problems.

    Coincidentally people from Cambridge Analytica also met with Assange…

    10) Trump helped turn the Republican party and its masses away from the opinion that Russia was to be treated with suspicion to being a good guy who had never done anything nasty under Putin. He supported Putin’s role in Syria and Ukraine – both of which are (to put it mildly) dubious. In this he was helped by fake news from Russian accounts. He was working with Russian propaganda, whether this was conspiracy, payback or because he was a victim of the propaganda is difficult to tell at this moment.

    11) By constantly repeating the narrative there is no direct evidence of collusion, Trump resembles a housebreaker stating ‘There was no embezzlement’, and making claims evidence of housebreaking is irrelevant. This is a story that seems persuasive to those who want to believe it. Trump was never going to be tried for collusion anyway, as it is doubtful that such a crime exists…. The question is about finding out what he, or his team, has done.

    12) Mueller has so far obtained 17 criminal indictments and five guilty pleas, but this is presumably not relevant to the conduct of Trump and his crew, in any way whatsoever, and the inquiry is purely an unfounded witch hunt.

    Modern Politics

    June 8, 2018

    For the last 40 years, in the English speaking world, we have been told that “free markets” and putting business first would bring us liberty, opportunity and prosperity.

    It hasn’t done that, and can’t do that. All it does is bring liberty, opportunity and prosperity for the wealthy. Ordinary people’s prosperity is a cost and should be cut. Any attempt by people to get the State to help others in misfortune is a cost and to be opposed. Every virtue which does not generate a profit for the established powers, is a cost to be eliminated. Wealth buys politics, laws, regulations and so on. “Getting the government off people’s backs” has been used as an excuse to regulate ordinary people, give corporations more power and wreck the environment. There is no longer any hope. Wages (for ordinary people) do not increase like they used to. Social mobility is dead. Education is declining. and so on.

    Given the failure of the so called free market neoliberal project, the only way that its benefactors can get people to vote for them, is through fake news, and stirring up nationalism and hatred. If you hate your opponents, then you can’t co-operate with them and you won’t learn from them, and you won’t team up against those oppressing you. You will vote for the people oppressing you because of your loyalty to something else, and you won’t get any real information….

    There are some who think this is an aberration of the market or the state, but the problem is that a capitalist market nearly always seems to generate the same structures. The people who succeed and accumulate wealth and leave it to their offspring, eventually create a class society and succeed in buying the government – so the rich have a dominating say, and have (in a vaguely electoral political structure) to lie to people and deceive them to keep their support. In a free market there are no values other than profit, so its hard to object to this, or get your objections heard.

    There was a time in the 60s and 70s (and still in some parts of Europe) when workers were organised and collaborative and there was a market which was regulated favourably for the people, and business sometimes had to compete against State owned companies and so found it hard to found unofficial cartels. The system was not perfect by any means, but most of us did not seem to have the problems we have now. There is also no doubt that if we had been aware of looming ecological catastrophe and climate change with the same kind of organisation, that attempts to deal with the problem would have proceeded much more rapidly than in an era of corporate dominance and belief in ‘free markets’. Everyone would have been better off. The truth is that humans are a cooperative and competitive species, they do not like hierarchies of the type capitalism generates, and they like organising together to carry out projects.

    Conclusion: Some free market is good, lots of free market is bad and unfree. We need a balance. No one should be able to make vast profits destroying our future and that involves restraining ‘the market’.

    The dominant political and economic forces in the Anglo-capitalist world generate destruction, and their political tactics involve distorting the truth to stop people from doing anything about it.

    They aren’t the only destructive people on the planet of course, but they are the ones we can do something about.

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    One more time: Economics of Waste

    May 31, 2018

    (Based on a reply to a comment)
    In the last post I argued pollution erupts everywhere there:

    a) is no support for ecological thinking;
    b) where the costs of pollution are not factored into the economic process; and
    c) where there has been conquest.

    I should have added a point

    d) that pollution appears to be a strong part of developmentalism wherever it operates, whether in capitalist, socialist, communist, or nationalist systems.

    Making products or energy by cheaply destroying the ecology is an easy way to make money, and generate the products associated with development. Again the ecology (and often the people who depend on it) are sacrificed to the gods of development, which are usually material prosperity (for some more than others), modern technology, industrialism and military power.

    The more speedy the development the more pollution seems to occur, and if it takes force or law to overwhelm those who resist, then force or law will nearly always be used. This was first illustrated in 19th century England where people were poisoned and restrained by law, and the environment was polluted on a visible scale perhaps never seen before and rarely replicated since – although parts of the communist world which did similar development in an even shorter time were probably up there with it. Its hard to compare descriptions, and to measure the past.

    Developing countries can see attempts to reduce their pollution as attempts to keep them undeveloped – particularly when countries like Australia refuse to diminish their own pollution.

    It may be possible to make the argument that capitalism is now often justified by its ideologues in terms of it being a major force for development, which is why it is so bad for the environment. Both the demand for profit and the desire for development give each other support in their destructiveness.

    If pollution was only marginal to capitalism we probably would not have had so much political action trying to justify pollution and make it sacred. How often do we hear something like: “If we stop polluting then the economy will crash. We can’t afford these restrictions?” Likewise, I have not seen that many companies protest against President Trump’s attempts to ‘free the market’ by making it easier to pollute and poison people, but I dare say there may be some – after all being capitalist does not mean a person is inherently evil.

    The days in which ‘the people’ could use ‘their State’ to attempt to unambiguously reduce pollution, or enforce costs onto business use of pollution seem pretty dead, as the idea of the ‘free market’ fossilises corporate power, and any such anti-pollution movement is accused of wanting to bring about poverty and primitivism- that is they are said to be “anti-development.”

    The ability of people as consumers to affect capitalism is probably limited – after all they still have to buy something to live… but if the consumer wants less pollution, they have to find correct information about pollution and who is making it (which companies may try to hide) and find a difference between companies with similar products. They must also be able to afford buying products with less pollution. There is no sense they should participate in the processes of the State to gain enough power to enforce less pollution, as that might diminish the liberty of the powerful to pollute on those less powerful.

    We should also probably note that in capitalism the word ‘cost’ usually means ‘monetary cost’ alone. If the creatures and the land do not belong to anyone who both cares and is wealthy enough to go to law, or to make law, to protect them, then there is no recognisable cost; even if the destruction may be fatal to humans in the long term. If the person destroys their “own land” then everyone should be happy, as it is their ‘private property’ to destroy as they will, as if that property was separate from everything else in the world. Non-monetary cost, or cumulative dysfunction, seem difficult concepts to deal with once monetary profit becomes the only mark of virtue and success. If something is priceless, then it has no value.

    In response to these kind of arguments, some people will appear to argue that there can be an ideal capitalist market in which problems dissolve, ie we just get rid of State regulations and protections for the environment and workers. This is bold, but the problem is that this ideal process never arises, and all the talk of free markets appears to do, is justify a more stringent plutocracy. So I assume that producing plutocracy is the function of that talk.

    I may be wrong, but it does seem to be the case that the more pro-free markets the political party claims to be, the more they defend pollution and ecological destruction with vigour. They see themselves as vigorously defending capitalism and development, and demonstrate why we have to be careful with both of those institutions.

    Classical Liberalism

    April 30, 2018

    Liberalism was an ideology whereby the rising business classes fought against the land-owning aristocracy. It’s birth is usually assumed to occur in the 17th Century, with the alchemist, doctor and sponsored political writer, John Locke being its first significant philosopher.

    While it has many virtues as a philosophy, classical liberalism (and modern libertarianism) also functions as a way of disguising the interests of capitalists and protecting the liberty of the capitalist and helping to ensure the wage-slavery of the workers. This is not accidental. Classical liberalism has been used to justify conquest, because of its insistence that unworked land is open for conquest, as people have not ‘improved it’ in a recognizable capitalist way – even if it was common land and occupied and used. Classical liberalism also either approved of slavery or the conquest of “lower races”, as part of capitalist expansion. It was a convenient philosophy. The work of Domenico Losurdo is good on this.

    By emphasizing the individual alone, it also naturalizes people’s alienation from each other and from the creative process of co-operative labor and co-operative survival, this further acts as a way of preventing workers from organizing to form unions or political parties to participate in the political process, or to reject the organization of their lives by wage labor. Classical liberalism tends to be hostile to workers organizing, as it is a disruption of “free trade” and business power. Anything that disrupts business power becomes bad and unnatural in liberalism. In the long run everything becomes judged in terms of profit. Art is good if it makes money. Virtue is good if it makes money, and so on.

    This is why the right spends so much time creating a false binary and arguing that socialism suppresses individuality and capitalism protects it, when (in reality, we are both social and individual. We exist in groups and require social being to truly exist – where else do we get language, ideas and culture from? Where else do our major satisfactions originate? Without society we cannot be individuals and vice versa. Any form which emphasizes one without the other is potentially tyrannous. Classical liberalism and modern individualisms all need modification by attention to their histories, unravelling the unintended consequences, and by the findings of social ‘science’.

    short libertarianism

    April 13, 2018

    Libertarianism seems to function as the friendly propaganda for the neoliberal project of tipping all power relations over to the side of the corporate sector and weakening any power that ordinary people may use to contain that sector.

    It occupies a similar space to that libertarian communism occupied with respect to Stalinism – except (and its a vital except) that some libertarian communists were some of the fiercest critics of Stalinism. If libertarians say they are against corporate power, they never want to eliminate that power before they eliminate the check of government restriction on it.

    This is why there is rarely any real facture between libertarians and ordinary politician conservatives, because they are both about preserving and increasing the power of money.

    Any real conservative would recognise that libertarianism reduces all virtue and value to profit and stay as far away from it as possible. And any real anarchist would have nothing to do with supporting religious or corporate authority.

    Libertarianism is fake news.

    Commercial in Confidence

    April 12, 2018

    Commercial in-confidence is when a government makes an agreement with a private company either to outsource work which could be done by the government or sells off public property to a commercial concern, and at least some details of the contract are not to be revealed to tax payers.

    Usually commercial in-confidence is used to hide details the public might object to such as: exit fees the government might have to pay if the work is not done on time; agreements that freight has to pay extra charges if it is landed in another port; tax and royalty concessions; changes of a road’s route so the toll charges can make more money; or simply paying more than is necessary to friends and donors. Yes this all refers to real cases…

    In terms of social category theory the government identifies with the private sector and judges them with a friendly eye and aims to support them, while it sees tax payers as a hostile other who are ignorant.

    Let’s be clear. If Taxpayers’ money is involved then commercial in-confidence should not exist after the contract is signed. It is our money, and we should know how it is being spent and what we are giving away. If companies don’t want to participate under these conditions, then that is their business and we probably don’t want them to participate.

    Commercial in-confidence is simply a cover for commercial incompetence.

    So far privatisation has failed, and it is largely because of these confidences, and sometimes because public servants do a better job.

    Minorities rule….

    April 12, 2018

    The interesting thing about Australian Coalition Government’s policy which has been revealed by the so called “Monash group” (which is pro-coal), is that policy appears to be dictated by the fear of not offending five non-cabinet MPs.

    This means our climate and energy policies, in a lower house of 150 people, is being decided by less than 10% of the members (I’m adding extra people to their cause out of generosity). This is not remotely democracy in action – this is rule by the miniscule; the fleas controlling the dog.

    How does it come about? Firstly because those 5 people have the support of the Murdoch Empire and the Minerals Council of Australia, which have helped make resistance to the idea of climate change, a hallmark and definer of conservative politics. Indeed they supress discussion of climate change to make everything about an ‘economics’ that is concerned with the profit of established corporations. Mass protests against climate change just don’t get reported, while tiny protests against the left do. Even those radical conservatives like One Nation who think international corporations are destroying local customs and culture, and need to be checked, support fossil fuel companies who are as international and destructive as they come. Any right winger who breaks on this issue will be misinterpreted, seen as a traitor, seen as losing nerve, and punished. Any right winger with principles, fears they will lose selection.

    This is polarized information group dynamics in action, and stopping discussion. These groups can be created for this purpose, and are reinforcing it. The 5 people become exemplary examples of a right wing ‘us’ group – while possibly moderate people like the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull become outsiders, who have to continually demonstrate their group loyalty, by not steering too far away from the extreme, and by refusing to challenge that extreme. In this situation the so called ‘centre’ suffers – even when the official ‘left’ move further rightwards to capture its shifting point, and even if ‘the people’ show their commitment to renewables by plopping them on every available rooftop.

    The dedication of the far right is reinforced because they stick with the Murdoch Empire and do not see contrary evidence, or have it explained away for them well enough. They are hung up on being just and fair (so if anyone is doing less to mitigate climate change than them, they can always argue it is just for them to support even less action) and they suffer the Dunning Kruger effect, were they do not realise their ignorance in the field and subsequently cannot recognize competence in the field – and they reinforce their ignorance out of group loyalty and the sense of persecution which comes from being wrong.

    And so it goes. It could be combatted by strong leadership which stood up for principles and argued against them for the good of the country. But we are probably not going to get that. All we can hope for is that the people themselves get on with the business of lowering carbon emissions, reducing their pollution, getting their workplaces to reduce emissions, protesting against government sell outs to corporations and doing anything else they can no matter how small. While voting Labor and Green is useful, it will not be enough either, because they continually move to the right, to keep on side with the powers that be.

    It is up to us to do we what we need to do to survive, and to take government back should we want.

    Organisational Ignorance vs Organisational Stupidity

    April 2, 2018

    I suspect “organisational ignorance” should be distinguished from “organisational stupidity”, even though they are related. Some level of organisational ignorance is normal and inevitable, some levels of organisational stupidity have to be cultivated.

    Knowledge implies ignorance, and in some cases creates ignorance. Firstly people know what ‘knowledge’ is by its socially made contrast with what form of belief or practice serves to illustrate ignorance to the group holding the knowledge. Thus literate groups can assume illiteracy is ignorance of letters, theological groups can assume science is ignorance of God and Salvation, Platonists make Sophism an exemplar of ignorance, and so on. Groups usually do this kind of thing, to reinforce their boundaries, and to give them energy by making some other behaviour or belief ‘bad’.

    Knowledge tends to create ignorance because, in complex interactive systems (and all social and ecological systems are complex), knowledge tends to be incomplete and a simplification. As such, what people know (and are supported in knowing) can actively direct attention away from areas of crisis and change, particularly if the knowledge has been successful, or associated with success (however that is measured) for a long time. We can see this with climate change; modes of waste disposal and profit acquisition which have brought success for the last 200 years are now threatening the conditions for that success. Hence many people are continuing as normal to destroy themselves, because there is no apparent alternative which delivers exactly the same benefits and distribution of benefits. This is also propelled by organisational and hierarchical stupidity, but more later.

    Some knowledge is definitional and relatively easily shared once definitions are agreed, but that does not mean it is always accurate. I would claim mathematics is this kind of knowledge – so it can be very powerful as well – but I’m not particularly bothered to argue about this at the moment.

    So knowledge and ignorance tend to be socially intertwined, and mastery can be a mark of status – in which case new knowledge can be dismissed if it comes from the wrong people – this is one place ‘organisational stupidity’ starts coming in.

    Organisational stupidity is the active structuring of an organisation or a situation, so that new, different, or more accurate, knowledge is rejected. Punitive hierarchy is one way of generating stupidity. If people in a hierarchy routinely punish underlings for diversion from the official line, then everyone ends up ignorant and stupid actions become the norm. The more those actions become the norm, they more they seem part of the cosmos, and the more they probably become intensified to remove the chaos they generate. People at the top don’t tell people what they actually plan, to protect themselves and their knowledge. So everyone operates in a haze of fear, guesswork as to what is going on, and stupidity. This is further reinforced if mastery of organisationally approved knowledge is a mark of status, and those with status try and remove those challenging them, as those challenging them do not see “common-sense” or “understand reality”. Relatively accurate knowledge can become downplayed or even heretical and forbidden, as when Trump refuses to allow information about climate change to appear visibly on government websites.

    Computer software encourages organisational stupidity when managers who have no idea what their underlings do become the consultants during requirements collection and the actual users are ignored, and have to adapt to what was thought to be an improvement.

    “Siloing” is the horizontal form of this structural stupidity, in which people in different parts of an organisation do not know what other parts do, but fantasise about them, and attempt to control what the others do. For instance, when admin tries to control academics, or give them more admin work to encourage “responsibility”, or rewrites computer programs to stop necessary fudging or whatever. Getting others to do your work seems useful initially, but ultimately it stops you from having any quality control over that work.

    Complexity can reinforce stupidity because, as nobody above knows what is possible in an engineering or social sense, and what is their fantasy is usually what is done, so they demand what they would like (even if it is not possible or not yet possible) and accuse people who tell them this is not possible as lacking positivity. Sales people generally don’t know what is possible either and agree to make the deal, because there is a lot of money being thrown around, and if they don’t get it someone else will. So the sale goes ahead and people get locked into the costly process of making the impossible, or the badly designed, work.

    There is a sense in which capitalism furthers organisational stupidity, because;

  • 1) It’s organisations are extremely hierarchical. Even when they are supposedly level, there can be huge differences in power.
  • 2) Only the immediate small-future bottom line counts (but there are many other important things).
  • 3) Wealth becomes the only value, so plutocracy becomes the norm, and anything that produces wealth must be good.
  • 4) It depends on hype about existent and non-existent products to prevent other products being successful. So the environment is constantly full of informational falsity, even above the idea that wealth is the only measure of value and competence.
  • 5) Its managerial structures depend on managers fighting for allocation of internal wealth to allow their section to work and to give them status, and this may obstruct any observation of the external environment the company exists within.
  • 6) Elimination of costs, can eliminate worker satisfaction and competence, and leads to free-loading waste being approved without consideration of long-term consequences. Cost defined something as ‘unpleasant’, not to be observed or investigated, and to be removed forcibly.
  • 7) In takeovers, to establish power and discipline, those people who know how the victim firm works are nearly always sacked, as the victor reckons these people do not know anything, or might challenge their knowledge. So the firm begins its new career being forced into boxes and behaviours that may well not work for them.
  • The contemporary form of governance, which I call “distributed governance” which is power that is diffused through society via networks means that very few people with power have responsibility, or feel they have responsibility. Responsibility is elsewhere, so there is no need to know anything other than how to keep your own power and reinforce your own knowledge, and the chances of feedback overtly pointing out mistakes is extremely low, so managers do not learn from those mistakes. This helps reinforce stupidity.

    If these general points are correct, it does imply that decent knowledge workers may sometimes have to chose to engage in “revolutionary activity” even against their own organisational stupidity, or resign themselves to pointlessness.

    The Political Right and the ‘Bottom Line’

    March 8, 2018

    Do the right look after the budget bottom line in government?

    Probably not anymore. Not if it interferes with giving taxpayer’s money and possessions to the corporate sector.

    In the US, we have corporate tax cuts, massively increased military spending and license for corporations to pollute and poison people – none of this will apparently cost the public anything – while even the smallest increase to the dole or the basic wage is cause for catastrophe.

    In Australia, the Right wing Coalition has blown out the debt since taking over, and plans to blow it out even more, with more military spending, more spending on supporting the Adani corporation dig up and burn enough coal to wipe out climate stability, tax cuts for corporations who don’t pay any tax and so on.

    Then there is the Coalition in NSW. They apparently have plenty of money to throw at developers, while selling off public goods, making life easy for coal miners to pollute, and destroy our water table, and harder for ordinary people to protest. They constantly make massive commercial in confidence deals with public money. They sign contracts with private enterprise before business cases and Environmental Impact Statements are finished. They support the idea of public money being spent on private enterprise sports stadiums, when the sports organisations are tax exempt because they are supposed to provide their own facilities. They make totally stupid decisions with public transport – new trains without toilets on long routes, new trains that can’t fit in the tunnels, new tunnels that can’t fit normal stock. They dig up rail access into the centre of Newcastle so that developers can build on the ex-tracklines. They think that a major new tax on transport in Sydney (through the Westconnex set of motorways) is a great idea as long as the tax is a toll going to private enterprise, and it won’t end up funding public hospitals, schools or renewable energy research – and the public funds the building of the new roads. Cost, of course, blows out massively as it is remuneration for private business, and people get thrown out of their homes and undercompensated. This is either a pure waste of money and incompetence, or a deliberate policy about giving money to those who already have it, at the cost of everything else. The other way of seeing this is as normal crony-capitalism in action. The corporations control the parties who control the State, and the State exists to benefit the ruling corporations.

    The last two Federal Coalition leaders, have both failed to deal with any of the problems we face at all – in fact they have run away from them, tried to put the cost on the less wealthy, or have simply made the problems worse.

    It is always easy to pretend to live prosperously if you sell off your assets and overspend – eventually it hits, and that could be the grand idea, bankrupt the government and throw ordinary people to the wolves. Sometimes, as Walter Steensby says, it looks as though the neoliberal philosophy thinks that people and nature are just costs and an obstruction to its own development, and they need to be disposed of.

    The Right often only seems to worry about the bottom line when there is a chance that money might be going to people who actually need it to survive.