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Knox coverage beneath Crikey

Crikey readers have their say on second-hand cars, whether the market or the government should guide industry, and the sensationalist coverage of Amanda Knox.

Knox trial pure voyeurism 

Peter Lange writes: Re. “Rundle: Amanda Knox’s story, full of violence and lies” (yesterday). What was Guy Rundle actually writing about? I tried to read past the first paragraph but when I realised he was  both contradicting himself and yet failing to justify his further serving of lurid crime faction, I lost interest. Amateur detective fantasies of journalists who ought to know better are not why I read Crikey. Pull your socks up and get serious, Crikey. Trash.

Let the market decide

Tamas Calderwood writes: Re. “Toyota exit without an industry policy is economic vandalism” (yesterday). Paddy Manning wants the government to indicate where the “new jobs for manufacturing workers [are] going to come from — if not precisely, at least roughly?” He also suggests green-energy subsidies and the government-funded NBN could help to create the “industries of the future”.

But who saw the mobile computing revolution before the iPhone? Even Microsoft missed it, let alone governments. And how does the mobile revolution play into the fixed-line government-funded NBN? In 1995 information technology was 6.4% of the global equity market while telecommunications was 5%. Today, IT is over 12% of the global market while telecoms has shrunk to less than 4%. Furthermore, governments didn’t plan the fracking revolution that has created abundant new low-cost energy supplies — energy was 5% of the global market in 1995 and has expanded to 9% today, while industrial stocks have fallen from over 14% to around 11% today.

How do governments plan for all that? They can’t. Central planning simply doesn’t work. The only thing governments can do is stand back and let the market decide — to grow an industry, shrink an industry, innovate and from time-to-time, sideswipe an incumbent. Economic growth is a bottom up process, driven by people on the ground who listen to their clients, spot new opportunities, take a risk and figure out how to do something better, quicker, cheaper. Governments should lower taxes, create a business-friendly environment (including education, infrastructure and the rule of law), and get out of the way. It is government intervention that usually turns out to be “economic vandalism”.

Say no to foreign second-hand cars

Mary Trewby writes: Re. “Toyota decision should herald the immediate end of car tariffs” (yesterday). There is a very good reason for not following New Zealand’s mass importation of used cars. The cars’ histories were often unreliable (and often this only became obvious when the car needed to be repaired), parts were unavailable for many models ( and some strange models ended up there), and there were even instances when one car contained parts from two or more wrecks. New Zealand ended up with a lot of cars that should have been sent to the wreckers in their country of origin rather than be imported — they were unsafe and broke lots of environmental regulations. Do some serious research before recommending Australia adopt the same policy.

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  • 1
    wayne robinson
    Posted Wednesday, 12 February 2014 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    Ah Tamas,

    So fracking has provided cheap abundant energy? Gas is cheap in America, because it doesn’t yet have the infrastructure to export fracked gas. The market for domestic gas is saturated so the price is depressed.

    Back in 1995, the global price for oil was around $18 per barrel. The average global price in 2013 was around $90 per barrel. The price of energy across the various sources (oil, gas, coal, etc) tends to be roughly equivalent.

    It would be expected that the share of the global economy of energy would be expected to increase as the cost of energy increases to the extent it has.

    Energy isn’t cheap if it costs almost twice as much as previously - money that could be going in paying for jobs elsewhere.

  • 2
    Richard
    Posted Wednesday, 12 February 2014 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    Peter Lange - maybe try reading the article before calling it trash?

  • 3
    Hugh (Charlie) McColl
    Posted Wednesday, 12 February 2014 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    Tamas, if the government steps back any further from regulating the CSG/LNG industry (at least in SE Qld) the Great Barrier Reef will decline into a stony algae-covered undersea landscape and the southern Queensland coastal hinterland will slowly become a foreign-owned quasi-industrial wasteland. Sure, it will be a landscape and sure a quite large number (slowly declining) of people will be employed there and sure it will be in one of the climatically attractive parts of Australia. But for what? What is the big deal about shitting in one’s own nest, denying you are doing it and insisting that government look the other way?
    Suppose you were a timber cutter on Easter Island, the last of the master craftsmen - last because there was only one more tree left. Would you be encouraging your leaders to build a new ceremonial canoe for a fertility ritual or would you insist on withdrawing your labour so that a couple of impoverished fishermen could build two or three scruffy fishing vessels which could at least supply your next meal?
    The ruthless pursuit of cheap fossil fuels comes at the expense of something else. Deny it all you like but when the hydrocarbon resource has been depleted and the mist before your eyes clears, you’ll realise that there’s bugger-all left.

  • 4
    David Hand
    Posted Wednesday, 12 February 2014 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    Mary,
    Your comments were very typical of views expressed when used imports began in New Zealand. That’s until information began appearing about the superior engineering in overseas assembled vehicles. The specific one I recall is that crash bars inside the doors of imported cars were missing in the ones emerging from NZ’s own tiny industry.

    And assembling on driveable car from two wrecks - give me a break! That’s a time honoured dodgy practice that has been around for decades. Are you telling me such cars are not on Australian roads today?

  • 5
    Tamas Calderwood
    Posted Wednesday, 12 February 2014 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    Wayne - US shale formations have unlocked vast swathes of new energy resources. This is pushing energy prices down. As you say: ‘gas is cheap in America”.

    My broader point is that governments can’t plan for these things. Only markets can allocate resources efficiently.

  • 6
    bjb
    Posted Wednesday, 12 February 2014 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    Tamas C: “Governments should lower taxes, create a business-friendly environment (including education, infrastructure and the rule of law), and get out of the way”

    I thought government was a way to organise society for the benefit of all the citizens. Create a business friendly environment ? - a small step to Fascism.

    The only thing governments can do is stand back and let the market decide”

    Complete nonsense. What is the biggest change in the world in the last 25 years ? The Internet - NOT something the “market” created, and looking at the complete hash many established businesses have made at understanding the opportunities the Internet presents, leaving progress to the market is the last thing you’d ever want. Even today, the LNP is trying to destroy the NBN, presumably at the behest of some established media companies who see change as a threat and not an opportunity.

    The development of the Internet shows governments should fund basic research, but apparently the LNP doesn’t think technological innovation created by basic research is worthwhile. Morons.

  • 7
    CML
    Posted Thursday, 13 February 2014 at 2:25 am | Permalink

    bjb - Bravo! Very well said.

  • 8
    wayne robinson
    Posted Thursday, 13 February 2014 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    Tamas,

    Gas is cheap in America because there isn’t the market to use it - either to export it or use it domestically. Other forms of energy are still expensive. Oil the last time I looked was still over a hundred dollars a barrel.

    If energy was cheap and abundant, then energy as a share of GDP would be much the same as in 1995 - 5% - but it isn’t. On your figures, it’s almost doubled to 9%. Unless you’re suggesting that the energy consumption has doubled also?

  • 9
    Draco Houston
    Posted Thursday, 13 February 2014 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

    But who saw the mobile computing revolution before the iPhone? Even Microsoft missed it, let alone governments.”

    Research In Motion saw it coming before the iPhone, remember blackberries and hiptops? RIM is going broke now.

  • 10
    Draco Houston
    Posted Thursday, 13 February 2014 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

    BTW most of the parts of an iphone and technology it depends on came from government R&D, Lol.

  • 11
    Andrew Dolt
    Posted Saturday, 15 February 2014 at 1:59 am | Permalink

    So Tamas is now channelling Ayn Rand, completely oblivious to the fact the global financial crisis exposed his free-market philosophy as a steamy pile of rotten fish. Does this mean he has stopped channelling Christopher Monckton, or has he just briefly wandered off in another completely wrong direction? I wonder what it would be like to mistaken about everything, all the time, on a completely consistent basis? I guess only a select few will ever know - Tamas, Andrew Bolt, Janet Albrechsten, Tony Abbott…

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