Friday 24th of January 2020

liberalism has a fundamental problem...


Russian President Vladimir Putin caused a tea-cup storm on the eve of a summit of the world’s 20 largest economies with this searing observation: Every crime must have its punishment. The liberal idea has become obsolete. It has come into conflict with the interests of the overwhelming majority of the population”.

Western leaders lined up to condemn him. European Council president Donald Tusk sneered that he “strongly disagreed”.

“What I find really obsolete is authoritarianism, personality cults and the rule of oligarchs,” Tusk said.

Typical of EU heavyweights, Tusk prefers an idealised world to the real one. It is precisely this unwillingness to confront uncomfortable truths that has so many Europeans tearing at the bridle of their masters.

What is Donald Trump but a personality cult built on the rich foundation of a visceral reaction by many Americans to the dominant order? And what is Xi Jinping’s China if not an authoritarian regime that knows nationalism is a far more potent force than internationalism? While not agreeing with all of what he said, Australia can learn more from Putin’s brutal realism than from blinkered philosopher kings such as Tusk.

One of the mantras from Western leaders – save Trump – at the G20 was the need to preserve the “international rules based order”. In their telling of it this was hammered into place shortly after the Second World War under US leadership.

But from WWII until the fall of the Berlin Wall there was a cold world order, split between competing superpowers. The liberal order rose after 1989 – championed by the triumphant empire – and started to unwind during the financial crisis. It delivered many benefits but no Western leader ever acknowledged the costs.

In his essay Bound to Fail, American political scientist, John Mearsheimer argues the liberal international order was “destined to fail from the start, as it contained the seeds of its own destruction”.

“The liberal order’s tendency to privilege international institutions over domestic considerations, as well as its deep commitment to porous, if not open borders, has had toxic political effects inside the leading states themselves,” Mearsheimer writes.

“Hyperglobalisation, which sought to minimise barriers to global trade and investment, resulted in lost jobs, declining wages, and rising income inequality throughout the liberal world. It also made the international financial system less stable, leading to recurring financial crises. Those troubles then morphed into political problems, further eroding support for the liberal order.”

Putin saw it coming. In an aggressive, prescient speech taking aim at Europe’s rulers and their proselytising of the US-led order in Munich in 2007 he said: “It is a world in which there is one master, one sovereign. And at the end of the day this is pernicious not only for all those within this system, but also for the sovereign itself because it destroys itself from within.”

Now that the US sovereign king has abandoned the liberal order and the globalisation it spawned has supercharged the rise of China to challenge it, what does Putin see?

“The cold war was a bad thing ...,” the Russian President told The Financial Times, “but there were at least some rules that all participants in international communication more or less adhered to or tried to follow. Now, it seems, that there are no rules at all.”

It’s time for a dose of Putin’s realism in Australia because it has to defend itself in this world without rules. And a realist must assume the worst case: that we will be acting alone in an increasingly dangerous region where a war between superpowers is a real and present danger. From now on we, and we alone, must defend our values, interests and borders in the physical and virtual world.

We must become a hard target. That demands much more be spent on defence and intelligence. Defence analyst Professor Hugh White has had the courage to open the debate on Australia acquiring nuclear weapons and that is what a realist would do. At the very least we should end the ban on developing a civilian nuclear capability. That opportunity presents itself when the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act comes up for a 20 years review this year.

We must develop our capacity to disrupt adversaries offshore by building the cyber warfare capability of the Australian Signals Directorate and the human capital of the Australian Secret Intelligence Service.

We should fight to protect the US alliance but accept that our interests will not always converge. In the short term we cannot expect consistency from its mercurial President and in the long run shouldn’t live under the delusion that America can, or will, defend us if that time comes.

We must build better relationships with Japan, Indonesia and India, not to contain China but to push back in unison when the need arises. And the need will arise. We have belatedly begun stepping up to our responsibilities in the Pacific, but we should spend much more on foreign aid and soft power.

Critically, we must buttress our internal defences because Beijing has reached deep inside our Chinese diaspora, has cultivated or bought some elites and is interfering in domestic affairs.

These are uncomfortable truths. Internationalists will argue that to even discuss some of them is xenophobic. People such as Putin and Xi recognise this cardinal Western weakness and will push those buttons too.

Of course, we should hope for a better world but let’s prepare to deal with the real one.

Chris Uhlmann is political editor for Nine News.

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Chris Uhlmann is a conservative journalist. Some of the many sins of liberalism (and to some extend of socialism as well) are the notion of growth which demand a larger cake, a larger population, a larger proportion of over-supplies and increasing rubbish. The laws of large numbers in a limited world are unsustainable compared to those of small sustainable numbers. On top of this, greed which is a "sin" in religious term (though often shown as profitable in the good book), is a death knell to the planetary balances.

peace and balance...


The International Conference on EcoBalance, organized by the Institute of Life Cycle Assessment, Japan (ILCAJ), has been held in Japan since 1994 as a biennial conference. Setting life cycle thinking as its core concept, EcoBalance is recognized as one of the world's premier conferences for academic, industry, and government professionals. EcoBalance serves as a forum for discussions on environmental performance evaluation, information disclosure regarding evaluation results, and for the development and implementation of discussed methods.

13th EcoBalance - October 2018 Tokyo, Japan
Nexus of ideas:Innovation by linking through life cycle thinking

12th EcoBalance - October 2016 Kyoto, Japan
Responsible Value Chains for Sustainability. 

11th EcoBalance - October 2014 - Tsukuba, Japan
Creating Benefit through Life Cycle Thinking

10th EcoBalance - November 2012 - Yokohama, Japan
Challenges and Solutions for Sustainable Society

9th EcoBalance - November 2010 - Tokyo, Japan
Towards and Beyond 2020

8th EcoBalance - December 2008 - Tokyo, Japan
The Challenge of Creating Social and Technological Innovation Through System-Thinking

7th EcoBalance - November 2006 - Tsukuba, Japan
Designing Our Future Society Using Systems Thinking

6th EcoBalance - October 2004 - Tsukuba, Japan
Development and Systematizing of EcoBalance Tools Based on Life Cycle Thinking

5th EcoBalance - November 2002 - Tsukuba, Japan
Practical Tools and Thoughtful Principles for Sustainability

4th EcoBalance - October 2000 - Tsukuba, Japan
Methodologies for Decision Making in a Sustainable 21st Century

3rd EcoBalance - November 1998 - Tsukuba, Japan
Progress in LCA for a Sustainable Society

2nd EcoBalance - November 1996 - Tsukuba, Japan
The New Stage of LCA as a Common Language

1st EcoBalance - October 1994 - Tsukuba, Japan
Life Cycle Assessment for Development of Materials and Technology

greed for meat...

The cows grazed under the midday Amazon sun, near a wooden bridge spanning a river. It was an idyllic scene of pastoral quiet, occasionally broken by a motorbike growling on the dirt road that cuts through part of the Lagoa do Triunfo cattle farm to a nearby community.

But this pasture is land that the farm has been forbidden to use for cattle since 2010, when it was embargoed by Brazil’s government environment agency Ibama for illegal deforestation. Nearby were more signs of fresh pasture: short grass, feeding troughs, and salt for cattle.

The vast 145,000-hectare (358,302-acre) farm is one of several owned by the company AgroSB Agropecuária SA – known in the region as Santa Bárbara. Located in an environmentally protected area, Lagoa do Triunfo is more than 600km (372 miles) from the capital of the Amazon state of Pará on the western fringes of Brazil’s “agricultural frontier” – where farming eats into the rainforest. To get there takes hours of driving along dirt roads and a ferry ride from nearby São Félix do Xingu, a cattle town accessible only by plane until a few decades ago.

AgroSB supplies cattle to JBS, the world’s biggest meat packing company and single biggest supplier of beef, chicken and leather globally, with 350,000 customers in more than 150 countries.

A joint investigation by the Guardian, Repórter Brasil and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism found that during 2018, the Lagoa do Triunfo farm delivered hundreds of heads of cattle to other farms also owned by AgroSB for fattening. Cattle was sent from those farms to slaughter in JBS plants.


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trash is trash...

Several Western countries attempted to send toxic waste to Indonesia in containers, according to local media. Indonesia’s Customs Office has announced that it will be sending the waste back to its countries of origin.

The country’s Environment and Forestry Ministry advised the Customs Office in a letter on Monday that the containers of disallowed material had been shipped from countries including the US, Australia and Germany. Inspectors had earlier found items including wood, fabrics and shoes in containers that were meant to only contain clean paper scraps. As a result, Indonesian officials decided to tighten their inspection procedures and search more containers.


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globalisation and liberalism are the bitches of profiteers....

Globalization is in trouble. A populist backlash, personified by U.S. President Donald Trump, is in full swing. A simmering trade war between China and the United States could easily boil over. Countries across Europe are shutting their borders to immigrants. Even globalization’s biggest boosters now concede that it has produced lopsided benefits and that something will have to change.

Today’s woes have their roots in the 1990s, when policymakers set the world on its current, hyperglobalist path, requiring domestic economies to be put in the service of the world economy instead of the other way around. In trade, the transformation was signaled by the creation of the World Trade Organization, in 1995. The WTO not only made it harder for countries to shield themselves from international competition but also reached into policy areas that international trade rules had not previously touched: agriculture, services, intellectual property, industrial policy, and health and sanitary regulations. Even more ambitious regional trade deals, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, took off around the same time.

In finance, the change was marked by a fundamental shift in governments’ attitudes away from managing capital flows and toward liberalization. Pushed by the United States and global organizations such as the International Monetary Fund and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, countries freed up vast quantities of short-term finance to slosh across borders in search of higher returns.

At the time, these changes seemed to be based on sound economics. Openness to trade would lead economies to allocate their resources to where they would be the most productive. Capital would flow from the countries where it was plentiful to the countries where it was needed. More trade and freer finance would unleash private investment and fuel global economic growth. But these new arrangements came with risks that the hyperglobalists did not foresee, although economic theory could have predicted the downside to globalization just as well as it did the upside.


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a piece-by-piece dismembering of the public sphere...

There is a popular Chinese proverb that goes: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.”

It would have been great if neoliberalism had been defeated 20 years ago. It wasn’t. Sections of the left found neoliberalism to be so nebulous, so difficult to pin down, that many even fell for its warped logic and were co-opted by it instead of fighting it.

The residual Blairism, here and abroad, which tries to resist the popular democratic socialist impulse, is textbook defeatism. It is a reflex that, in the name of democracy, dilutes democracy by stealth and encompasses a piece-by-piece dismembering of the public sphere.

The job of the progressive left is to make history, not just learn from it; to defeat inequality, not just measure it; to change society, not just analyse it.

If Australians want the kind of society in which no one is left out or pushed out, where no one is denied the right to a place to live, a place to work (and income security for those who cannot), a place to learn, a place to heal; if we want the kind of society where respect and dignity are democratised, one in which the economy is controlled by the people so that it might serve their needs instead of serving the wants of the satiated few; if we want these things we will need collectively to fight for them.


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the view from the privates...


Indeed, just once it would be nice to hear someone ask Warren, along with the other candidates (and to be fair, White House occupants), why we need them when we have smartphones? Surely near universal access to a supercomputer at prices that shrink daily is much more of a miracle than access to a doctor.

Some will doubtless respond that healthcare is a bigger challenge than is the creation of Peppa Pig or a smartphone, and while some will debate the previous assertion, the simple truth is that the bigger the challenge, the greater the reward for the entrepreneur who mass produces former luxuries.

Lest readers forget, computers, smartphones, and cars were viewed as wildly impossible to own before entrepreneurs like Michael Dell, Steve Jobs and Henry Ford succeeded in mass producing them. After that, few can say they were routinely demanding drivers at the touch of a button (Uber) and the world’s plenty at the click of a mouse (Amazon) before Travis Kalanick and Jeff Bezos began working feverishly to deliver their amazing innovations to us. Yet Warren wants to get us healthcare? Why? What could she possibly deliver other than incredibly expensive inefficiency?

In promising so much to so many, Elizabeth Warren insults the intelligence of voters while at the same time insulting the nation that houses the most entrepreneurial minds on earth. She plans to get us cheap healthcare? Sorry Senator, we have smartphones.

John Tamny is a speechwriter and writer of opinion pieces for clients, he's editor of RealClearMarkets, Director of the Center for Economic Freedom at FreedomWorks, and a senior economic adviser to Toreador Research and Trading ( His new book is The End of Work, about the exciting explosion of remunerative jobs that don't feel at all like work.  He's also the author of Who Needs the Fed? and Popular Economics. He can be reached at  


Yes... private enterprise can solve some problems... But should private enterprise be left to its own device and the powers of the "market", this planet would have been destroyed long ago. We should see the little wars that are fought on behalf of "freedom, democracy and capitalism" as private enterprises fighting to gain the upper hand in a ruthless competition rather than cooperation. Before the present "private marketeers", the same ploys were used by kings, despots and emperors to con people out of their B-Jesus by invoking the divine right to rule. The markets of kings were next-door little-kingdoms to plunder at will to fill coffers. The more people on the planet, the less freedom we can afford to let "private" enterprises run the roosts.


Some 35 short years ago we had Jobs everywhere.

We had Iron Ore and great steel industries. We had ship building, car manufacturing. We built TV’s, radio’s, washing machines, lawn mowers, hills hoists and furniture manufacturing.

We made car parts and we even made our own tyres! We had fishing ports and cheap Petrol that was made at Port Stanvac in South Australia, Bulimba in Brisbane and Mortlake in Sydney, using oil brought from Bass Strait, North West Shelf and Timor Sea. We built aircraft, boats and buses.

Locomotive diesel electric trains as well as the tracks and everything was “PROUDLY MADE IN AUSTRALIA”! We had Corner stores and Hardware shops all over the city and country. We had work available as a driveway attendant at all our local Service Stations. And at ALL these places you could find a JOB!!!

We had PUBLIC UTILITIES like Power Stations, Water & Gas which employed tens of thousands around the Country. Then Government sold our soul and started to ‘corporatise’ itself and began to compete instead of Govern.

Then we started going downhill! All our companies started going offshore or closing down because this new corporate government did deals with other countries under free trade agreements that allowed them to totally wipe out our business and manufacturing by selling us their cheap crap.

These foreign countries took over our mineral resources. They drove our farmers off their land and started selling it to these foreign countries and set up 457 visa’s as well which would let these countries bring in their own workers! These things left our once beautiful country in tatters!

Then these Politicians allowed foreign countries to buy our power stations and guaranteed them that they would always make a profit at our expense no matter what.

When the government realised that we had lost so much, it also understood that it doesn't as get much income anymore and had to find new ways to make money so it hits its own people further in the pocket.

They cut funding to our Education and over the years led us to import skilled workers because we didn't have any! They cut funding to our Emergency Services, to our police and Public housing.

These new Corporate Government Politicians laughed in our faces and gave themselves MASSIVE pay rises and they all pat themselves on the back knowing that we are so dumb and stupid we would not know what is going on! Now they tell us we have to tighten our belts and lose what little we have left to pay back the MASSIVE DEBT they left us all in.

Now I drive the main roads and all I see is the empty buildings that once housed all these great manufacturing companies and I begin to cry seeing them all run down or for lease!!!

This over paid government need more taxes to live on so they are now going to force our elderly (God bless them, for they are the ones that built this Nation) back into the workforce until they are 70. and tell everyone to go out and get a JOB!!

So, can someone in this new Corporate Government tell us exactly where these bloody jobs are?

Jack Rider



civilisation plastic...

Even in the Arctic, microscopic particles of plastic are falling out of the sky with snow, a study has found.

The scientists said they were shocked by the sheer number of particles they found: more than 10,000 of them per litre in the Arctic.

It means that even there, people are likely to be breathing in microplastics from the air - though the health implications remain unclear.

The region is often seen as one of the world's last pristine environments.

A German-Swiss team of researchers has published the work in the journal Science Advances.

The scientists also found rubber particles and fibres in the snow.


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high trash...

BEIJING – With the debris of more than 50 years of climbing – oxygen canisters, tents, backpacks and even some bodies – Mount Everest has been called the world’s highest garbage dump. 

Now China is moving to clean up its northern side of the mountain and protect its fragile Himalayan environment, announcing a trash collection campaign that could limit the number of climbers and other visitors in 2009. 

“Our target is to keep even more people from abusing Mount Everest,” Zhang Yongze, Tibet’s environmental protection chief was quoted Monday as saying by the Xinhua News Agency. 

Everest’s 29,035-foot peak – the world’s tallest – lies on the border between China and Nepal, with climbers providing a large source of income for both countries. 

However, overcrowded routes and the accumulation of debris have led to some calls for the mountain to be closed to climbers temporarily. 

Last year, more than 40,000 people visited the mountain from the Chinese side, which is located in Tibet, the China Daily newspaper said. Although that number was less than 10 percent of those who went to the mountain on the southern, or Nepali, side in 2000, the paper said environmentalists estimate they could have left behind as much as 120 tons of garbage, or about 6 pounds per tourist. 

There is no definitive figure on how much trash has been left on Everest in 54 years of climbing since Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay first conquered the mountain on May 29, 1953. 

The high altitude, deep snow, icy slopes and thin air make it difficult for climbers to carry anything other than the necessities down the mountain once they reach the summit. 

The Nepalese government has tightened its laws, and climbers and their guides are now required to carry out gear and trash or forfeit a $4,000 deposit.


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