A surprising development in the intermittent nuclear debate has been the announcement by the South Australian Premier, Jay Weatherill, that the state will hold a Royal Commission into the possible expansion of the state’s uranium mining industry to include nuclear enrichment, storage and energy.
It’s surprising because we don’t need a long and expensive inquiry to see that the nuclear industry offers little potential for future growth in jobs or export income.
India has come under heavy criticism for blocking the implementation of a World Trade Organisation (WTO) agreement reached at Bali in December 2013.
Proponents celebrated the Bali “package” as a long-awaited achievement by the WTO, which had failed to reach a significant agreement since 1995. However, critics lamented that the Bali deal was skewed in the favour of developed nations.
A few months ago, I left my home in Adelaide and travelled up to Maules Creek, New South Wales. I’ve never been much of a wanderer, but when I heard that Whitehaven was working on the largest coal mine currently under construction in Australia in the middle of the Leard State Forest, I realised that things were pretty serious.
Australia’s Treasurer has wielded the hockey stick with great enthusiasm and inflicted many blows, but missed the goal of a stable and prosperous economy. However on an objective analysis I have to agree with him on the following: “We need to live within our means”, “We need to be sustainable”, “We don’t want to squander our children’s future” and there is a “moral dimension”.
He is not quite right about “the age of entitlement is over”. It isn’t; but it’s fair to at least head in that direction.
Coal has played a pivotal role in modernising the global economy. But if we had a second shot at the industrial revolution, would coal be at the centre? Would we design an economy that viewed Australia – as a senior politician recently described – as “an island of coal, floating upon a sea of gas”? Or would we put human ingenuity to the test and generate a sustainable economy powered by the sun and the wind?
Federal deficits, creating green jobs, austerity vs stimulus packages; how do you balance it all out? There are some important lessons to be learned from Europe’s recent experience.
In issue 464 of the New Internationalist magazine, celebrated author Susan George gives a spirited lashing to European leadership, accusing it of being entirely subservient to the desires of finance and the largest corporations. “European leadership is brain-dead, ignorant of economics and needlessly committing economic suicide” she writes.
Danny Dorling, The No-Nonsense Guide to Equality,
New Internationalist, Oxford, 2012, 176 pp, www.newint.org/books/
Reviewed by Frank Stilwell
New Internationalist has published a series of small books on controversial issues such as world population, world poverty, world food, world health and women’s rights. This latest ‘No-Nonsense Guide’ focuses on equality, making a strong case for this goal to be a much higher priority in public policy and strategies for social progress.
There is a long tradition of arguing for greater equality – in income, wealth, education, social opportunities and, of course, in human rights. One thinks, for example, of classics such as Richard Tawney’s Equality, the writings of British social reformer Richard Titmuss and the more recent books by Richard Wilkinson that describe the damaging social costs that arise from extreme economic inequalities. That these three writers are all called Richard is an odd coincidence – the more important thing that they have in common is a commitment to egalitarian social reform.
The interrelated capitalist world is in a state of crisis, unstable and almost out of control. The orthodox theory behind the lunatic policies being followed has little connection to the actual world it is meant to interpret and explain. Social unrest, prejudice, racism, self-interest, lack of compassion, anarchistic or worse forces are being unleashed: all the outcome of finance capital being out of kilter with industrial and commercial capital. Continue reading →