Trump’s ‘Basket of Deplorables’ Deliver Lesson on Energy Policy: Politicians Ignore Workers at their Political Peril

hazelwood-stats

After America’s “basket of deplorables” banded together to send Donald Trump to the White House and Hillary Clinton to the Dog House, everything politicians and pundits thought they knew about politics is patently wrong.

Ignoring the working class is one thing, but condescending, denigrating and ridiculing those who plump for people like Trump as ‘idiots’, or worse, is quite another; as teary Clintonestas have learnt with disastrous (for them) consequences.

The political/media class which spawned and sustained people like Hillary Clinton is now so out of touch with the electorate, that results like Brexit and the election of Donald Trump as President of the USA come as gut-wrenching ‘shocks’.

In the lead up to the Presidential election, STT had the fortune of speaking to a number of Americans, who made it plain that Donald Trump was a serious contender and that Hillary Clinton was more detestable than deplorable.

From their perspective, America had never really recovered from the 2007 sub-prime mortgage fiasco that destroyed millions of jobs and trillions in wealth, with whole states and industries still struggling almost a decade after Lehman Bros and a band of other Wall Street bankers went belly up (for an entertaining reminder of how the sub-prime mortgage disaster arose, check out the quasi-documentary, The Big Short).

The view among this group of Americans was that Donald Trump would win, as voters would place their bets on the pony with a chance of delivering something other than the status quo. Trump was seen as the wildcard and there were plenty of Americans who were sick to death of the political/media class pushing Clinton (and her politically correct agenda) on Americans, who have been ground down by long-stagnant wage growth, in moribund regional economies, and who were plainly fed up with Clinton’s promises of more of the same. On the strength of that inside info, STT backed Donald Trump and is still gleefully collecting from those foolish enough to have backed Hillary as the next American President.

Sneeringly referred to as either the “rustbelt” or the “flyover states”, it was in places like Michigan, Iowa, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin that Trump’s message resounded loudest.

One of Trump’s campaign messages that clearly hit home in America’s industrial heartland, involved the promise of scrapping all those policies which are deliberately designed to make energy crushingly expensive; and which drive not only the producers of energy out of business, but which also inevitably drive to the wall all of those industries that depend upon having secure, reliable and affordable power – mineral processors, manufacturers and industry of all descriptions.

Australia has the same grab bag of ludicrous, economically destructive policies, such as its Large-Scale RET – a $3 billion a year tax on all Australian electricity consumers, designed to be directed as subsidies to wind power outfits until 2031; although with investment in new wind power capacity at a complete standstill, the 33,000 GWh target will never be met and, instead, around $1.5 billion of what will be collected from retail power consumers each year will be recovered as a Federal ‘penalty’ on power retailers and directed into general revenue as a $20 billion ‘stealth tax’ on electricity.

Not so much a ‘policy’ as an economic suicide pact, the LRET has already claimed thousands of jobs in places like Leigh Creek and Port Augusta in South Australia (regional centres hitherto hosting, respectively, a coal mine and coal-fired power plant) and Hazelwood in Victoria, with thousands more job losses to follow in both South Australia and Victoria in energy hungry businesses, such as mineral processing and manufacturing: the town of Portland will lose 800 jobs when its aluminium smelter inevitably closes due to the spike in power prices that will follow the closure of the Hazelwood power plant, along with hundreds more indirect service jobs, as well.

South Australia’s principal cash cow is BHP Billiton’s Olympic Dam gold, copper and uranium mine, which is under threat as a result of SA’s ludicrous obsession with wind power: on occasions when wind power output collapses, BHP Billiton has been forced to pay more than $2.5 million a day for electricity that would ordinarily cost $250,000.

Understandably, BHP Billiton has scrapped the plans it once had to expand its Olympic Dam operations; an investment which would have been worth more than $1 billion and which would have created thousands of jobs in a State with the worst unemployment in the nation.

Donald Trump’s emphatic win surely demonstrates that treating energy policy as an ideological playground, and the working class with barely concealed contempt, will ultimately end in political disaster for those politicians slavishly obsessed with listening and responding to whatever they hear rattling around inside the green-left echo chamber of Twitter, instead of getting off their arses and going out and actually listening to the people that vote: the latter strategy worked a treat for Donald Trump in America; and, so far, it’s worked a treat for Pauline Hanson and her One Nation party, and will continue to do so.

The lessons laid out in America by its “basket of deplorables” for people like PM, Malcolm Turnbull and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg are plain enough. However, whether they have the wit and temerity to learn and profit from Hillary Clinton’s experience, is another matter.

Here’s a couple from Alan Moran which Australia’s political class can choose to ignore, but only at their peril.

Hazelwood closure: higher costs and lower reliability
The Spectator Australia
Alan Moran
4 November 2016

A little over two decades ago, as the deputy secretary responsible for Victoria’s energy policy, I accompanied the then Coalition government minister to a Hazelwood visit. Although the plant personnel were solid Labor and opposed to the emerging policy of privatisation of the electricity supply industry, we were received with great cordiality. Apparently, the workers feared the ministerial visit to the plant – the first in the memory of the workers there – was to announce its closure and there was great relief once they learned no shutdown was planned.

In the mid-1990s there were reasonable grounds to expect the plant’s closure. Built in 1964 it had not been performing well – unreliability meant it was available to run only 70 percent of the time (paradoxically, a level that is twice as high as that of modern wind farms). Its design life gave it only a further ten years to operate.

As it happened, the plant was sold in 1996 for $2.4 billion a price three times higher than was originally contemplated. And the new owners, initially National Power from the UK, proceeded to shed excess labour, undertake low-cost capital improvements and manage the plant rather than allowing it to be worker-controlled. Although Hazelwood would always be the highest cost of the four major Latrobe valley brown coal stations, in spite of an accumulation of government regulatory cost impositions, it operated profitably for most of the next 20 years and accounts for about 15 percent of supply.

Electricity prices have been forced down over the period since 2000 when the renewable energy regulations were first introduced bringing increasing cross-subsidies to wind and solar. Subsidies through the Commonwealth’s RET scheme are currently about $90 per Megawatt hour, giving renewable suppliers a guaranteed support of twice the market price, in addition to receiving the market price itself. Other subsidies – both state and federal – add to the disadvantage under which fossil fuel suppliers operate and impose (mainly hidden) costs on electricity consumers and the taxpayer.

Reducing Victoria’s electricity supply by some 15 percent is bound to have an upward price effect. Estimates of wholesale price increases vary from 4 to 25 per cent. If the plant closure is also accompanied by the closure of the Portland aluminium smelter, which uses some 12 percent of the state’s electricity, the price increases will be at the lower end. But that, far from being a serendipitous outcome, would represent just another example of an ideologically driven de-industrialisation of the economy. This will make all but renewable energy snake-oil merchants poorer.

In a touch of irony, during my drive with the minister of energy to the Latrobe Valley all those years ago, he had to answer a call from the premier, Jeff Kennett. During that call Mr Kennett, at the behest of his departmental secretary, told the minister he should fire me. My crime was that I had given a television interview to a conventionally politically correct ABC journalist during which, much to the interviewer’s astonishment, I had dismissed the possibility of wind and solar energy being competitive with fossil fuels. Kennett, then at loggerheads with the nurses and teachers, was persuaded that he did not need another war front and that I’d just opened one with the environmentalists.

The energy minister, the eminently decent Jim Ploughman, refused to fire me. He explained to the premier that he’d instructed me to appear on the program and had endorsed the approach I took.

Hazelwood was always planned to be replaced as it aged and as power generation technology improved. Nobody twenty years ago, however, would have thought its replacement would be by plant – wind and solar – that is three times as costly as well as being unreliable. The issues at that time were whether competing privately owned plants could provide a product that is non-storable and necessitating plant interdependence at lower cost than a centrally controlled system.

That issue was resolved in the affirmative. Post privatisation, the electricity industry throughout Australia achieved world leadership with its low cost and reliability. But, that having been accomplished, we have seen political intervention creating a new conundrum by deliberately increasing the costs of supply in pursuit of the chimera of cheap electricity based on the vagaries of the sun and the wind.

And, in an attempt to take advantage of the enhanced fears that politicians now feel about the consequences of their constant undermining of cheap electricity, at least one remaining coal generator, AGL, is calling for a market rejig to guarantee higher prices for its baseload. Such a policy approach in Western Australia delivers an additional $100 million a year to the generators at the expense of customers.
The Spectator Australia

Minister for Communications Malcolm Turnbull during Question Time in the House of Representatives at Parliament House, Canberra Thursday, 5 June, 2014. (AAP Image/Gary Schafer) NO ARCHIVING

Malcom, ramming ideologically driven energy policy down the throats of the unemployed working class won’t wash any more. Ask Hillary.

***

Future prosperity and its enemies
Catallaxy Files
Alan Moran
7 November 2016

There are three pertinent pieces in today’s media covering the economy-crippling policies that our political elites are pursuing by attacking property rights and promoting their own favoured economic and political outcomes.

First we have Barnaby Joyce with a wonderful op ed which is worth quoting at length

I listened to Professor Hugh Possingham talking on the ABC radio last week about the benefit of more restrictive tree-clearing laws that it is claimed will save endangered species, and reduce global warming. A noble cause; but paid for by divesting private individuals of their property rights without payment and making some land useless and unsaleable by reason of new government caveat.

Heading further south, Victoria’s Hazelwood Power Station is closing and apparently a new water feature will be built to fill the hole where the coal came from. This feature will presumably assist in mollifying the increase in power prices from losing 22 per cent of Victoria’s power supply.

In South Australia the attraction of industry is impeded by a power grid over-reliant on a naive zealot-like approach to a heroic ­renewable power target.

In Queensland the government is trying to sidestep building dams in the regions because it will not be accepted by an inner-urban Green constituency.

Daniel Andrews (is) talking about how he “acknowledges the burden on families” by people losing their jobs at Hazelwood. He sounds pathetic as he talks about building new hospitals that require people to be gainfully employed to live there to use it, and he is apparently creating a new “hub”— for what Daniel? Unemployed angry people?

Service industries need industry to service.

Dams create new agricultural wealth with waiting markets in a hungry world. Cheap power creates manufacturing.

Social infrastructure, however, such as hospitals, is a legacy of a strong and vibrant economy in meaningful production, not the creator of it. Social policy is the colour of the icing, not the cake.

We better hope for a real epiphany in the way we do business — or get ready to be smacked between the eyes by an economic stick called reality.

All too true but Barnaby himself, rather than promoting such issues, has of late been sidetracked into railing against the so-called supermarket monopolies and assuaging his Alan Jones prejudice-fuelled attacks on coal seam gas.

Then we have a piece in the AFR, regarding the Hazelwood closure. This is largely based on an interview with Josh Frydenberg, who blamed the Labor government for putting pressure on Engie to shut the plant to encourage the exit of coal-fired power stations, adding, “The closure of Hazelwood has long been Labor’s policy”.

Frydenberg may be one of the nation’s better politicians but he neither mentioned nor was prompted by the journalist to explain that the policy is actually close to consensus. The closure of Hazelwood, like that of the two South Australian coal power stations, is due to the subsidies consumers are forced to give to wind generators, subsidies that are largely provided by federal government policy and deliver wind a price three times that of commercial generators. Subsidies to renewables started small under John Howard and have been expanded considerably; the current Coalition Government has maintained them and they are central to the climate policy that it took to the Paris greenhouse conference in December of last year.

Finally we have an article by Graham Lloyd in The Australian which is a preview of the policy conclusions that Senator Roberts is announcing following a very detailed briefing from CSIRO. One Nation’s view is that Australia’s climate change response is a waste of money. Senator Roberts says, “CSIRO’s approach has serious deficiencies. Policy failures at global, national, state and regional levels based on failed and ridiculous forecasts are costing lives, costing taxpayers billions of dollars, exporting jobs and destroying energy security and reliability,”

In a statement with which few of us would disagree, he added,

“The ultimate goal of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party is to dismantle Australia’s obsession with green guilt and assist in ­restoring our country’s former agricultural, manufacturing and economic base.’’

Catallaxy Files

lily-dambrosio

Daniel Andrews & Lily D’Ambrosio: enemies of Victoria’s working class, pledged to kill thousands of jobs & affordable power and happily did so.

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.

Comments

  1. Beverly Marquart says:

    Thank you – I happen to be in the Sciota Ridge development that is hurrying to be completed before Obamas end of term. The Hardin county commissioners that approved the PTC – of three – two would personally benefit, so despite a clear conflict of interest that was ignored we are getting them. Seeing the home my dying father built going down in value due to criminal conduct.

    Thank you — wish mainstream media would work to protect us — instead of making themselves $$$$$$

  2. Hi,

    I started a PETITION “SA PREMIER JAY WEATHERILL : Demand the RESIGNATION of the Energy Minister for HIGH POWER PRICES CAUSING SA’s JOBS CRISIS and 15,000 household POWER DISCONNECTIONS, frequent POWER BLACKOUTS and the JULY 2016 POWER CRISIS” and wanted to see if you could help by adding your name.

    Our goal is to reach 100 signatures and we need more support.

    You can read more and sign the petition here:

    https://www.change.org/p/sa-premier-jay-weatherill-demand-the-resignation-of-the-energy-minister-for-high-power-prices-causing-sa-s-jobs-crisis-and-also-15-000-household-power-disconnections-frequent-power-blackouts-and-the-july-2016-power-crisis?recruiter=135406845&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=share_email_responsive

    Please share this petition with anyone you think may be interested in signing it.

    Thankyou for your time.

  3. Reblogged this on Climatism and commented:
    Brilliant review of Trump’s Triumph by STT! Confirming why the people of America rejected the ruling class and the political elite in resolute favour of a man who is actually-listening-to-them.

    This a fantastic post and well worth sharing with friends, family and your “children’s, children”!

  4. Jackie Rovensky says:

    CSIRO at its core is a very competent and worthy scientifically based research institution – unfortunately the core is being eroded by the climb to power of social science based research which appears to be dictating and directing true independent scientific research across the world.
    Yes we all want a clean environment but should this be achieved by destroying the lives of those who have to suffer the consequences of the current concentration of ‘renewable’ intermittent energy from wind. Firstly is wind energy actually renewable, perhaps not if you consider you are not renewing the wind as each breeze is new wind. When the wind is not blowing there is nothing to be used you cannot go back and bring what has passed back into use you have to wait for a fresh lot to pass by – whenever that may be.
    That being said, those who suffer the consequences are many from a broad section of the community these include:
    Loss of health and ability to live in their homes without pain.
    High energy costs eating away at peoples income and savings
    Loss of jobs – from industries closing, from companies which service these industries and from those who rely on people being employed and having money to spare to spend on things other than necessities of life.
    What this push toward a so called ‘renewable’ energy sourced life is doing is changing the lives and environments of millions around the world, changes that return people to an earlier age of uncertainty and reliance on Government handouts, an age when the majority of people were servants to elitist classes who ruled with a heavy hand to maintain their power.
    This social science pushed ideology (read idiotically) driven influence on true scientific research and direction needs to be stopped, we need Scientists and Politicians to see and accept the disaster occurring and turn back to a time when people and the environment counted.
    We need scientists to be looking for other ways to stem the emissions and lead us towards a cleaner and better world – talk is one things action is another, scientific research and action needs to be directed to ideas and things that work for all not just a few.
    Change that is rushed and ill considered is never good, only change brought about by thorough research and consideration of all consequences can bring change that is good for everyone and thing.
    The money spent on funding an industry that has and never could be reliable and safe, is money spent on thrusting the idea of it down the throats of our children as well as adults which could have been spent on finding worthwhile changes, adaptations and processes that left no one in poor health, and without a means to financially look after their families needs.
    The money spent on shoring up an industry which cannot and will never be able to survive without financial backing by Governments has been wasted.
    Time crawling and bowing to this industry has been wasted time. We need Governments to take stock of what they have become and assess the damage they have and are doing to their citizens and their lives.

    • E Griffiths says:

      CO2 is not the villain portrayed by the mainstream politicians and media. Virtually all life forms on earth are either directly or indirectly dependent on CO2. Without CO2 all green plant life will disappear off the face of the earth, together with all life forms dependent directly and indirectly on plants in order to survive.

      At current concentrations CO2 is a trace gas, limiting the growth rate of plants. Putting more CO2 into the atmosphere will enabl plants to grow faster.

      About 20% of CO2 emissions are attributed to change of land use due to deforestation. Therefore, I would argue that deforestation is the major problem we face today.

      Below is a link to a video:
      Senator Malcolm Roverts (Qld senate) releases his report in response to CSIROs climate science claims, that were presented at the meeting held with CSIRO senior scientists on Monday 26 September 2016 in Sydney.

      At a press conference to release the report Senator Roberts was flanked by a number of renowned scientists and researchers who have supported his findings into the CSIRO. Those supporting the senator at his press conference were:
      1) Internationally eminent Canadian climatologist, geographer and environmentalist Professor Tim Ball, expert on the United Nations’ unfounded and politically motivated climate claims cited by CSIRO;
      2) American engineer, investigator and researcher Mr Tony Heller, internationally respected for exposing manipulation of temperature data by a small unit within NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies and relied upon;
      3) Australian scientist, engineer and inventor Mr Peter Bobroff who was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for his services to research and compiled the site reviewing CSIRO’s claims and presenting supporting data.

      • STT, to those who wish to watch this video, if you do not have facebook you must allow to link you to facebook. Then you must refresh at least 8 times to watch it in full. Keep an eye on the time stamp when it all of a sudden says, you are not allowed to view this video. Go back each time to viewing where you left off.
        Make sense? probably not.

      • Sorry, I have no idea how my comment ended up here. It is irrelevant to the thread at hand.

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