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17 April 1981. Thought for the Week: Changing attitudes is, I have discovered, one of the most difficult things to achieve. Indeed, societies tend to roll on, under their own momentum. The danger is that people may not stop and rethink where they are going until a disaster occurs."
Prince Charles in "The New Zealand Herald", March 30, in article putting the case for small, decentralised technology.
THE REAL LESSON FROM RUNDLE
The real lesson of the Rundle affair is that
the danger of a nation pinning its faith in big scale planning,
has been dramatically exposed. Assuming that Esso is genuine
when it says that it now finds that simply to test the technology
needed to mine and treat shale for oil would cost $2,100 million,
three times the original estimate, what a damning indictment
of the alleged "efficiency" of massive, highly centralised
technology to develop sufficient energy for Australia's genuine
The history of the oil industry reeks with corruption from the days when John Rockefeller frankly outlined his strategy for monopolising the oil industry. While we have no sympathy for Prime Minister Fraser and his colleagues, who before the last elections made every effort to "sell" the Rundle project as the centre piece of their much publicised "resources boom," we completely disagree with those who say that the future energy outlook for Australia is now gloomy. What is required now is every encouragement, including the provision of adequate credits, to those individuals and small groups capable of the initiative required for the development of the various alternatives available in the energy field.
Reading the mass of comment on the Rundle affair, one could get the impression that the production of shale oil in Australia is something beyond available technology. Few Australians are aware of the vital contribution, which the Glen Davis shale oil project made to Australia's oil supplies during the Second World War. Shale oil was being produced in Australia in commercial quantities during the latter part of the last century. Vast quantities of the shale were being exported before the turn of the century. During the 1934 Royal Commission on the price of petrol, evidence was provided that the development of the Australian oil industry was being crippled in the interests of the international oil companies. There are, of course, other alternatives to shale for producing oil, including wood and vegetable matter. Mr. Jeremy Lee has reported from Canada on highly encouraging developments with hydrogen.
Every potential, which would break the monopoly of the international oil cartels, is discouraged. If Prime Minister Fraser and his colleagues are genuine in their concern about Australia's future energy requirements, they will ensure that adequate finance is made available to all those who, through decentralised initiative, can make a contribution. A fraction of the $2,100 million which Esso now estimates would be necessary for a shale oil pilot scheme, would produce spectacular results in a relatively short time.
The Polish crisis has enabled some Western politicians to do a little grandstanding. Loud talk about dangers the Soviet would be creating if they invade Poland tends to obscure the realities. All the evidence available to us indicates that the Polish crisis is going to deepen. And if the internal Polish situation starts to threaten the Communist Government in Poland, it is as certain as the sunrise that Soviet controlled troops will intervene. There will, of course, be no response from the West.
Prime Minister Fraser promises that there will be economic sanctions against the Soviet if an invasion takes place. Western and Japanese economic blood transfusions will continue to flow to the Soviet bloc. These same blood transfusions have continued since the "big talk" by the Frasers of the West when the Soviet forces rolled into Afghanistan.
One of the most significant aspects of
the Polish crisis is the open suggestion that the U.S.A. should
offer sophisticated military equipment to the Chinese Communists.
We wonder if any of the West's politicians have ever heard
of dialectics! Communist practitioners of dialectics believe
that internal clashes amongst the Communists advance the total
Communist cause. Marxist-Leninists everywhere must be delighted
at the spectacle of the West offering advanced military equipment
to Communists pledged to advance the cause of world revolution.
And so the overall result of the Soviet threat to Poland could
be a continuation of economic aid to the Soviet Bloc - so
long as no actual invasion takes place - and military aid
to the Chinese Communists.
JEREMY LEE REPORTS FROM SUFFOLK, ENGLAND
"Reading the morning newspapers on one's first
day in England is something of an experience. I first came
to this country at the end of 1946, when the ravages of war
still scarred the face of Britain. Much of London was rubble,
and Plymouth almost flattened. Yet I would venture to say
that Britain was in better shape then. Her wounds were material,
and were quickly mended. Her wounds are now spiritual.
This morning's Daily Telegraph
(March 30th) gives a hint of the crisis: The leading article
discusses a statement issued by 364 academics, including 76
Professors and five chief economic advisers to previous governments,
making 'in toto' what the Telegraph called the "establishment"
of British economics. The statement says that Margaret Thatcher's
policies of monetarism are wrong, and likely to bring serious
disrepute on the economics profession! Mrs. Thatcher, the
Telegraph said, "is most unlikely to be influenced
by the academics' plea. She is more likely, indeed, to conclude
that it shows there is something wrong with Britain's universities
and the way in which economics are taught there ..."
The most sobering comment came from the one voice that knows something about real economics - the business of production. As the Telegraph reported: "The recession will stretch into next year when unemployment will reach 3,250,000, the Confederation of British Industry says in a pessimistic survey. The CBI challenges forecasts by Ministers and the Treasury that the recession is bottoming out and argues that current indicators suggesting an improvement is in sight are showing a "false dawn...."
One can only applaud Margaret Thatcher's single mindedness, while deploring her judgment. It is quite clear that no evidence will make her deviate from her course. She appears to have set her sails for the most glorious disaster in Britain's history. Speaking to 1,500 Tory delegates at the Party's Central Council Conference in Cardiff on Saturday she said: "...It once seemed obvious that so long as there were unemployed hands and underused plants we could put them to work by more or less throwing newly created money in their direction. In practice, as governments increasingly discovered, the extra money did less to raise production than it did to push prices up even higher and unemployment up even more..."
She added: " I do not greatly care what people say about me...This is the road I am resolved to follow, this is the path I must go..."
The latest T.U.C. figures show that between November 1979 and November 1980 over 900,000 jobs were lost. Included in these figures were engineering (down 157,000 jobs), textiles (down 114,000), metal manufacturing (77,000), vehicles (63,000), and metal goods (58,000). Non-manufacturing industries lost 211,000 jobs in the same period, most being in transport and distribution (106,000) and construction (71,000). As we might have guessed, few of the job losses were in public administration!
On top of economic woes, racial issues
refuse to disappear. Enoch Powell is in the news again, warning
that Britain's cities face civil war through the growth of
their coloured populations. The usual rash of nonsensical
reactions followed his speech, suggesting that any conflict
between races will be due to the Powell speech itself! However,
the Daily Telegraph, in its editorial, stressed that
Powell's speech should be taken seriously, although they baulked
at Powell's suggestion that enforced re-emigration was needed.
By way of compensation, however, is the fact that April is ushering in a glorious English Spring. Bird life is abundant, and the countryside is a mass of blossom. The cuckoos note will soon be added to the cries of the political cuckoos in Westminster and Britons will sigh as they have for so many hundred years "Loude singe cuckoo!''
We came across a booklet "Why Big Finance Backs Communism", by James Guthrie: the same James Guthrie who wrote, "Our Sham Democracy" ($1.40 posted). The former book consists of a series of broadcast addresses he gave during the latter years of World War 2. We regret that it is not presently available.
In one address, "The Efficiency of Large Organisations", and under a subtitle, "The Electric Grid System of England", James Guthrie had this to say: The cost of generating electricity is only a small part of the total price charges for light and power; by far the larger portion of the price you pay (over 60%) is for capital charges involved in the transmission lines and apparatus required to deliver electricity to your house. Even in the power stations where coal is burned to produce electricity, the cost of the coal is only a small portion of the total cost of this industry, and in Australia, averages under 25% of the total (1943).
"It is easy to see, therefore, that a
large and very efficient power station, burning less coal
per unit, will have all its economic advantages wiped out
if its transmission lines are long and scattered. This has
been known for many years among electrical engineers; and
it has also been known that small power stations under these
conditions can, and are distributing power more cheaply than
the larger ones.
The fact that some of the smaller and
older stations were supplying power more cheaply and more
efficiently did not matter to the financial wizards who devised
this scheme; the fact that no intelligent engineer would sanction
such a scheme was a matter of no importance; the fact that
the people of England didn't want it did not enter into the
picture; the scheme went through, and the smaller stations
had all their plant scrapped. And upon the unpaid debt of
this old plant was raised another and greater debt - a grander
"Now, not only was this scheme inefficient from an economic point of view, and from the electrical point of view; it was very dangerous from a military point of view. Then why was it inflicted upon the people of Britain? The international financial monopolies are not interested in private enterprise; they prefer to invest their money in large national schemes with no competition, and where their bonds are guaranteed by the Government. The Big Boys don't gamble; they like certainties, backed by all the forces of the Crown."
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