'It's absurd': Childcare is costing parents more than fees for exclusive private schools - with some spending $50,000 a year. It's costing $50,000 a year for full time care, and $30,000 for part time care

We see the fruit of all encompassing regulation.  When I was a kid, parents would send their kids to be minded to the old lady over the road who had already brought up her own family.  She charged pennies so those who only earned pennies could afford it.  And because she was known in the area there were no fears about it.  

That should still be allowed but these days she would be a deep-dyed criminal, in breach of dozens of regulations.  Why not revive the old system by allowing a regulated and an unregulated sector?  We would soon see how much parents valued the regulations which are allegedly "for your own good"

Parents are forking out more for childcare than the cost of the some of the country's most exclusive private schools, with some centres now charging over $200 a day.

In the most extreme cases, daycare costs are setting Sydney families back $50,000 a year for care five days a week, and $30,000 for part time care.

Parents would be paying less to send their children to Cranbrook in Sydney's eastern suburbs, an elite boys' kindergarten to year 12 college, which costs $37,230 per year.

Australian Childcare Alliance NSW chief Chiang Lim told the Saturday Telegraph that Sydney is the hardest hit city in the country when it comes to extreme childcare costs.

'It is absurd that it can be more expensive than some of the elite private schools in Sydney,' he said.

A recent OECD cost of living report found that Australia has some of the highest childcare costs in the world.

On average, Aussie parents are spending 26 per cent of their joint incomes on childcare.

Sending one child to daycare in Mosman, on the north shore, costs an average of $159.56 a day, with one centre charging $210.

Meanwhile, fees in Coogee are slightly less at an average of $150 per day, while Canterbury in Sydney's inner west costs $115 for a day of care.

'We really need a review of the entire system,' Mr Lim said.

Wealthier families in Sydney's affluent suburbs put their kids on the waiting lists of community pre schools with cost just $40 a day.

Childcare subsidies are paid directly to the centres, but are capped at an hourly rate of $11.77, which doesn't offer big savings for struggling families.

Couples with a combined income of $351,248 per year don't qualify for subsidies, and parents who take in between $186,958 and $351,247 have a capped subsidy of $10,190 per child.

This has lead to parents working less or finding other ways to get their children looked after.



Will global warming endanger the U.S. corn belt, a key source of calories for the growing global population (?)

It would be more accurate to say that American corn is a major source of calories for American internal combustion engines.  It has virtually nothing to do with feeding the world.  Only 17% of the crop is exported, mostly to Mexico and Japan.

Africa has a variety of climates but Africans mostly live on self-grown corn in the form of "mealie pap".  They don't rely on American corn.

And the experiment described below is stupid.  To expose a cultivar designed for a cold climate to unusually high temperatures is simply irrelevant.  Corn is grown all around the world in a variety of climates, mostly warm.  Some cultivars grown in India, for instance, are very heat tolerant -- up to 35° C.

So in the event of global warming, farmers would just have to order seed of a more heat tolerant cultivar.  If the Midwest warmed up a bit, use of tropical cultivars would probably INCREASE production

The article below also ignores other factors of production.  CO2 is a plant food so more CO2 in the air would also increase corn production.  And a warmer world would be more rainy, which again favours plant growth. Farmers might have to look more to their drainage but that is a lot better than suffering drought, which is the current most common problem for corn farmers. Corn likes a lot of water.

So if you look at the full picture, a warmer world would be most likely to lead to a GLUT of corn, not a shortage. It never ceases to amaze me how dishonest Warmist articles are.  Is there such a thing as an honest Warmist?

It’s a bitter cold March morning in Ames, Iowa, and the sprawling cornfields outside of town are buried beneath a couple of inches of ice and snow. But it’s hot and humid inside the custom-built grow chambers on the campus of Iowa State University.

Blindingly bright lights beat down on a trio of squares, each containing close to 7,000 pounds (3,175 kilograms) of soil, sunk five feet (1.5 meters) into the floor. The steady churning of fans, ensuring air circulation and uniform temperatures throughout the room, echoes off the walls. Every few inches, a suite of infrared thermometers and moisture sensors track the microclimates surrounding the leaves of the plants.

Inside these growth chambers, it’s the future. And Jerry Hatfield, an affable agronomist who heads the US Department of Agriculture’s National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment, doesn’t like what he sees.

“Either we’re going to change the crops that we produce or we’re going to have to think about how we genetically manipulate that plant to have a higher tolerance to higher temperature.”
Three years ago, Hatfield used the growth chambers to find out how local crops would perform under the temperatures predicted for the region in 2100, which are expected to rise roughly 4 °C on average, or about 7.2 °F. He simulated a growing season, from April 1 through October 30, for three different strains of corn used by farmers in the area. In one chamber, Hatfield started the temperature at just around 50 °F (10 °C) to mimic conditions in early April, raised it well above 100 °F (38 °C) to simulate the hot summer days (as high as 114 °F in the chamber with 2100 conditions), and then brought it back down again for autumn. In a second chamber, he simulated the region’s current, cooler climate norms.

The differences between the plants in the two chambers were stark. While the leaves looked the same, the impact of that extra 7.2 °F was far worse than projected by even the most pessimistic scientific literature. The number of corn kernels per plant plummeted, in some cases by 84%. Some plants produced no kernels at all.

It was just the first in a series of alarming results. In the months that followed, Hatfield and his colleagues simulated the rising temperatures and altered rainfall patterns expected to hit the wheat fields of Salina, Kansas, as soon as 2050. Yields fell as much as 30% with low precipitation and as much as 70% with the combination of high temperatures and low precipitation expected in the decades ahead.

To date, it’s been relatively easy for American farmers to shrug off climate change. After all, under the most optimistic models, projected US yields for corn and soybeans — which are grown on 75% of the arable land in the Midwest — are actually expected to increase through 2050, thanks to warmer weather that will benefit the relatively cool northern climes. But after that, if Hatfield is right, yields will fall off a cliff, devastating farmers and leaving much of the world hungrier.

By 2050, the world’s population is expected to grow to 9.7 billion. As living standards and diets also improve around the world, food production will have to increase by 50% at a time when climate change will help make both sub-Saharan African and East Asia unable to meet their own needs without imports. Already US corn and soybeans account for 17% of the world’s caloric output. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization projects that American exports of corn must almost triple by 2050 to meet the shortfall, while US soy exports would have to rise by more than 50%. All this extra food has to be grown without using significantly more land. That means it’s going to be all about yield — the productivity of the crop.

And that is what has Hatfield so worried. A growing body of scientific literature suggests that climate change is likely to decimate yields unless we can find new ways to help plants cope with the droughts, vast temperature fluctuations, and other extreme weather that’s likely to become commonplace in the decades ahead.

“If something isn’t done, we will see major drops in production across large areas of the corn belt and Great Plains,” Hatfield says. “Either we’re going to change the crops that we produce or we’re going to have to think about how we genetically manipulate that plant to have a higher tolerance to higher temperature.”



What Trump's new ethanol rules mean for you

Trump has just been on a tour in Iowa in which he takes credit for loosening restrictions on the use of ethanol in gasoline.  The move will be of huge benefit to Iowa corn farmers so will undoubtedly shore up Trump's vote in the next election. And putting more ethanol in your tank will cost you slightly less than using pure gasoline. But you will also get less mileage out of a fill-up.

So who loses from the new rules? All Americans.  America should not be growing corn at all, other than for inclusion in dinners.  Import restrictions, tariffs, are the only thing keeping corn farming alive in America. Corn is the principal feedstock for making sugar in America. And sugar is the main feedstock for making ethanol.  And making sugar out of corn is absurd.  You can make it for half the price out of sugarcane -- which is a very widely distributed tropical crop.

Americans would have sugar at half the price if imports of it were allowed from Brazil, the Caribbean and many other places around the world. Ethanol would be REALLY cheap if you made it from Brazilian sugar or imported it directly from the very efficient Brazilian distilleries.

And there is no strategic argument for America to be self-sufficient in sugar production.  There are major supliers close by and all are well protected by  American military power. You can grow sugarcane in almost the whole of central and South America, rainfall permitting. Australia too is a major sugar from sugarcane producer.

It is a considerable irony that Trump is being a Greenie in all this.  He justifies his facilitating of domestic ethanol production as  the use of a "renewable" resource, which it certainly is.  You grow it. And Greenies never care about the cost of anything.

But there is no conceivable chance of anything changing.  No politician would risk alienating all those Iowa votes

At the end of May, the Trump administration announced it would allow for the year-round sale of gasoline with higher concentrations of ethanol.

That action addressed a rule the Environmental Protection Agency had in place preventing the sale of so-called E15 fuel, which contains 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline, between June 1 and Sept. 15. The purpose was to prevent air pollution and curb dependence on foreign petroleum, but the ban has stopped some retailers from selling E15 at all because of the need to change out pumps.

One benefit is that gas prices could come down. As previously reported by FOX Business, E15 is typically priced about 5 to 10 cents cheaper than regular gasoline.

“Now in the summer months when consumers are driving more and oil companies usually jack up their prices,” Iowa Renewable Fuels Association executive director Monte Shaw said in a statement to FOX Business, adding that the new statute will allow drivers to save money at the pump.

According to the Renewable Fuels Association, E15 was approved for use in model year 2001 and newer vehicles by the EPA in 2012. The group says 90 percent of cars on the road are approved to run on E15.

Shaw previously noted that E15 has been in high demand where it is offered. E10, however, is still the default regular fuel sold across most of the country.

The move is also a boon to corn farmers, since corn is widely used to make ethanol domestically. Allowing for the year-round sale of E15 will give farmers more avenues to sell corn, which could bolster revenue especially when prices are low.



More than 500 species of plants have disappeared in the past 250 years potentially robbing us of sources for future drugs, new research reveals

Only 500?  I think it was a million last time I heard.  Nobody knows in reality. In 2016, scientists reported that 1 trillion species are estimated to be on Earth currently with only one-thousandth of one percent described.  But 500 extinctions is reasonable for the time period concerned.   On some estimates 99% of all species that have ever lived are now extinct.  Extinctions are a regular natural occurrence. 

And no extinction has yet been shown to be important to humans. Most recently extinct species have closely related or similar extant species.  The banded trinity, for instance, has dozens of similar species in Asia and elsewhere

The shocking number of plant species that have gone extinct in the past 250 years have been revealed by a new study.

Experts found that 500 species - more than twice the number of birds, mammals and amphibians recorded as extinct - are no longer found on Earth.

Around two species of plants go extinct every year - although the true figure is likely to be even higher as plants may be disappearing before they are even discovered, the researchers said.

Scientists at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and Stockholm University analysed all plant extinction records worldwide to arrive at the figure.

One plant - the banded trinity - has not been seen since turning up in a field in Chicago in 1916.

Others include the Chile sandalwood, a tree that grew on the Juan Fernandez Islands between Chile and Easter island and was heavily exploited for its scent.

Another is the St Helena olive, first discovered in 1805 on the island of St Helena in the South Atlantic.

One lone elderly tree survived until 1994 and two more were propagated from cuttings, but they succumbed to a termite attack and fungal infections in 2003.

The research brought together data from fieldwork, literature and herbarium specimens.

It showed how many plant species have gone extinct, what they are, where they have disappeared from and what lessons can be learned to stop future extinction.

The study found that 571 plant species have disappeared in the last two and a half centuries - four times more than the current listing of extinct plants.

The figure is also more than twice the number of birds, mammals and amphibians recorded as extinct - a combined total of 217 species.

Dr Aelys M Humphreys, assistant professor at the Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences at Stockholm University, said: ‘Most people can name a mammal or bird that has become extinct in recent centuries, but few can name an extinct plant.

‘This study is the first time we have an overview of what plants have already become extinct, where they have disappeared from, and how quickly this is happening.

‘We hear a lot about the number of species facing extinction, but these figures are for plants that we’ve already lost, so provide an unprecedented window into plant extinction in modern times.’

The scientists found that plant extinction is happening as much as 500 times faster than ‘natural’ background rates of extinction - the normal rate of loss in earth’s history before human intervention.

Islands, areas in the tropics and areas with a Mediterranean climate were found to have the highest rates of extinction.

The research suggested that the increase in plant extinction rates could be due to the same factors that are documented as threats to many surviving plants - change of land use resulting in the fragmentation and destruction of native vegetation, particularly range-restricted species.

Dr Eimear Nic Lughadha, co-author and conservation scientist at Kew said: ‘Plants underpin all life on earth, they provide the oxygen we breathe and the food we eat, as well as making up the backbone of the world’s ecosystems - so plant extinction is bad news for all species.

‘This new understanding of plant extinction will help us predict (and try to prevent) future extinctions of plants, as well as other organisms.

‘Millions of other species depend on plants for their survival, humans included, so knowing which plants we are losing and from where will feed back into conservation programmes targeting other organisms as well.”

Commenting on the research, Dr Rob Salguero-Gómez, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, said: ‘Plants underpin and provide key resources to entire ecosystems worldwide.

‘However, much of the effort to quantify the loss of species diversity worldwide has focused on charismatic species such as mammals and birds. Understanding how much, where, and how plant species are being lost is of paramount importance, not only for ecologists but also for human societies.

‘We depend on plants directly for food, shade and construction materials, and indirectly for ‘ecosystem services’ such as carbon fixation, oxygen creation, and even improvement in human mental health through enjoying green spaces.’

The full findings of the study were published in the journal Nature, Ecology & Evolution.


Depressed billionaires are good news

Martin Hutchinson below continues his Philippics against low interest rates.  Martin is an economic historian and by historical standards interest rates have been weirdly low for some years now.  Low interest rates in effect price the use of capital very cheaply and, as Martin says, that renders  acquisition of all real assets very easy.  So investors have it easy and profit accordingly.

An important question, however, is whether low interest rates also benefit the average Joe.  Everybody benefits from low interest rates so it should on theory be good for any borrower.  Even an average person can now afford a lot of borrowing to buy a house or whatever.

But the unmentionable person in the woodpile is the effect on asset prices of lots of keen borrowers in the market.  Asset prices are obviously bid up.  So low interest rates are not much benefit to you if the house you want to buy has had its purchase price inflated by the easy money environment.  What you gain on the swings you lose on the roundabouts.

It seems at the moment however that the easy money effect may have approached an asymptote.  A new price equilibrium may have been reached in the real estate market.  The party is certainly over for a while as far as real estate is concerned. House prices overshot the equilibrium level for a short while and may now be settling down to sustainable levels.  So what your house is worth should stay much the same for some time  -- barring unexpected shocks.

One shock would be the implementation of Martin's recommendations. If central banks did jack up interest rates to Martin's desired levels, there would be a huge rash of bankruptcies as people became unable to pay their mortgage interest bills -- with a concomitant huge slump in real estate values.  So anybody with a mortgage should be hoping that Martin is a voice crying unheard in the wilderness.

But I think he will remain unheard and unheeded. I suspect that he is overlooking something.  Administered interest rates need not closely reflect the market but they cannot easily be too far outside the market for too long.  And I suspect that the low interest rates of the last decade are in fact a market response to the abundance of capital poured out by first Obama's and now Trump's money creation binges. Capital has become cheaper because it is more abundant.  So while governments are "printing" lots of new money, interest rates should stay low.

But that gets us to the thorny question of how long can government continue to create new money without ill effects -- without galloping inflation in particular. We have seen recently the economic disaster that unbridled money issue brought about in Zimbabwe and Venezuela so the old economic laws can still be seen functioning.

And I think it is obvious where the money has gone in the U.S. and other similar economies -- such as Britain and Australia.  It has gone into real estate prices. Real estate prices have risen to soak up all the new money. Why the expanded  money supply  has not affected other prices much is a bit surprising but the way that people cut back on other expenditures in order to save up for a home probably explains that.

So where do we go from here?   There are a lot of people who wish they knew and I am one of them.  There are feeble efforts in the GOP to rein in government spending but with neither Trump or the Donks on side that unlikely event is not going to happen soon.  If I am right that real estate prices have stabilized, we may start to see cost pressures on other assets -- meaning that ALL other prices will start to rise sharply.  How long will Trump and Congress tolerate that?  For quite a while is my guess

“It’s a depressing environment” said billionaire investor Stanley Druckenmiller to MarketWatch, explaining that he is investing in Treasury bonds in the hope that short-term interest rates will descend to zero again. At first sight, that should be bad news for the rest of us. But when you examine the different financial universe in which billionaires live, you come to realize that Druckenmiller’s gloom may be a healthy sign – provided the Fed doesn’t follow his policy recommendations.

“What’s good for General Motors is good for America, and vice versa” famously said GM CEO “Engine Charlie” Wilson at his Secretary of Defense Senate hearing in 1953. That was undoubtedly true then. GM employed hundreds of thousands of people, its suppliers and distribution system employed millions, and Americans as a whole, in their jobs, their wealth and their consumption, benefited from the health of the great manufacturing companies of which GM was the epitome.

What was true for General Motors in the 1950s is much less obviously true for the major corporations of 2019, notably the FAANGS (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Alphabet/Google). For one thing, much of their business consists of manufacturing in emerging markets such as China. Thus if Apple’s sales zoom up, for example, it may merely mean the employment of another army of Chinese workers and a surge in profits parked in tax havens, with no obvious benefit for the U.S. economy at all.

If the interests of today’s large companies, especially in tech, are detached from those of the United States, the same is still more true of the billionaires who run those companies or invest in them. In particular, economic policies that benefit billionaires are mostly highly damaging to the interests of ordinary citizens and of the United States as a whole. Not only can billionaires benefit economically from policies that damage the interests of ordinary citizens, there is reason to believe that, at the present time, billionaire angst and gloom may lead to better times for the rest of us.

The principal policy that over the past two decades has benefited billionaires and damaged the rest of us is that of artificially low interest rates. Low interest rates benefit asset prices, of stocks, bonds and real estate, while artificially depressing the cost of borrowing. Billionaires obviously have more assets than the rest of us, not just as a truism, but also in the sense that a higher proportion of their income after expenses is derived from revenues from assets and fluctuations in asset prices, which are relatively unimportant for those mostly dependent on earned income and pensions derived therefrom.

Because of their wealth, billionaires also have access to more and cheaper leverage than the rest of us. This combination, of greater dependence on asset values and greater ability to borrow cheaply, gives them a double-whammy benefit from interminable periods of low interest rates. Their assets rise in price, increasing their wealth both in absolute terms and in relation to the rest of us more dependent on earned income. In addition, they can leverage at artificially cheap costs and thereby buy more assets.

The ability to take on cheap leverage has been especially valuable to two classes of billionaire: those investing in real estate and those engaged in money management through hedge funds and private equity funds. As a result, those sources of wealth have increased in importance in recent decades, overwhelming wealth from conventional businesses like oil and retailing, which dominated the “rich list” 30 years ago. However, real estate and money management billionaires are especially cut off from the rest of the economy; both can flourish while the economy as a whole stagnates.

For that reason, the Barack Obama years were an especially joyful period for such people and especially miserable for the rest of us. The economy stagnated, while interest rates were held artificially low for a decade. The additional refinement of “quantitative easing” and the policy of globalization made matters even easier for them; it produced new pools of money, from foreigners and financial institutions, which could be poured into real estate and market speculation, growing the billionaires’ asset pools still further.

It is now clear that artificially low interest rates damage the real economy, in which ordinary people work. They distort investment away from productive uses – productivity growth in all the countries with near-zero interest rates has been abysmal over the last decade. Only in the United States, where rates have been allowed to lift somewhat, has it recovered, though there has been no retrieval of the productivity growth lost forever in the stagnant Obama years. With asset prices artificially high, a crash, wiping out huge amounts of wealth, is utterly inevitable – Lord Liverpool foresaw and warned against this repeated cycle as far back as 1825. Everyone except billionaires is currently poorer for these policies; once the crash comes, even some of the billionaires will suffer as well.

There are a lot of forces tending to continue the billionaire bonanza. For example, the IMF earlier this year proposed a new dual currency structure, in which cash would be forcibly devalued against e-currency, stealing people’s savings, simply so that central banks could institute even more cuckoo policies of negative interest rates. It beggars belief that globalist bureaucrats, all careful and diligent readers of the Financial Times and the Economist, can come up with ideas as destructive as that, and then express surprise when a despised, tortured people vote for populists. It is incredible that they would impose all the costs of a second currency on the economy, deliberately discriminating against savings, so that some damn silly Keynesians can impose their leftist fantasy monetary policies on us. I would probably vote for Attila the Hun or Genghis Khan against those guys — at least one would enjoy the spectacle of a massacre of IMF economists while one’s savings were being looted.

Other policies favor billionaires at the expense of the rest of us. One is the charitable tax deduction. This allows billionaires to reduce their tax bills to infinitesimal proportions, which acquiring a spurious reputation as a generous donor – and getting all kinds of non-cash benefits in return. Since many of the charities themselves spend most of their resources lobbying for policies that damage the interests of the rest of us, their special privileges are doubly obnoxious.

Druckenmiller and President Trump, both billionaires, are united in one demand: they want lower interest rates as soon as possible. Their wish is entirely self-serving; lower rates will merely further prop up the prices of the assets that both men own, already hugely overpriced. Declines in the prices of high-end real estate in the major urban centers are already happening, ding the wealth of billionaires, and are thoroughly beneficial to those of us not owning high-end real estate. Someday, we may be able to afford to live in New York and San Francisco again (not that one would want to!) Declines in loss-making tech private equity investments, also beginning, will be good for the rest of us as resources are reallocated from these money pits into products that are genuinely useful and not bottomless chasms of endless operating loss, sucking resources from more beneficial innovation.

Declines in stock market prices may seem more equivocal, but you should remember that most middle-class people with stock market investments are continually saving for their retirements. A market decline thus increases the future returns on their investments, brings them a higher dividend yield and allows them to make new stock purchases at lower prices. A market that declines and then recovers, through the magic of dollar-cost averaging and higher dividend yields, will make a middle-class stock purchaser far wealthier than a market that stays overpriced throughout.

Because of those years’ extreme monetary policies, most of the billionaires of the last twenty years are creatures of the night, that will disappear amidst much shrieking and wailing if we can restore the economy’s genuine health. A sustained period of higher interest rates, wiping out all the excesses of the Obama period and before, is needed to achieve. Let us hope the Fed stops its ears to the low-interest rate sirens, from President Trump, Druckenmiller and all those whose wealth depends on the currently grossly distended economy. A 4% Federal Funds rate, extended over the next five years, will restore the health of the U.S. economy, to the point that what’s good for General Motors and its 2025 equivalent will genuinely be good for America.



YouTube vs free speech

Pro-homosexual voices have almost a monopoly on public comment so it is bordering on the totalitarian to shut down one of the few voices on the other side, which is what we see below.

And Crowder, the censored voice, actually said nothing about homosexuality in general at all.  He just referred to one person as "queer", which is only marginally "incorrect" these days. So the censorship has risen to a point of hysteria.

The fact that homosexuality was illegal until a few decades ago tells us that there is a large and diverse body of opinion out there on the subject. There are undoubtedly many people out there who still find it distasteful.

I personally think that homosexuality has been glorified in recent years and that glorifying it is just as obnoxious as making it illegal

What I would like to see is tolerance of different opinions on the subject -- but homosexuals and their allies hardly seem to know the meaning of tolerance.  They preach it on occasions but it is only their own view that they in fact tolerate, which is no tolerance at all

I would be happiest of all if I never heard about homosexuality  again but that is not allowed it seems

As it is, homosexuals have become the royalty of social media, whom none dare criticize.  It's a situation just waiting for President Trump to exploit to his advantage.  He's pretty critical of social media already

A spat between two rival YouTubers on opposing sides of the Culture Wars is not normally news. But the clash between right-wing commentator Steven Crowder and Vox video journalist Carlos Maza has hit the headlines, because it has led to a tightening of YouTube’s content policies, adding further restrictions to what can and cannot be posted on that platform.

Last week, Maza edited together some of Crowder’s videos in which he makes fun of Maza’s ethnicity, sexuality and voice. Crowder refers to Maza as a ‘lispy queer from Vox’, a ‘gay Mexican’ and ‘Mr Gay Vox’. There’s no doubt that Crowder is obnoxious, bigoted and infantile. However, being insulted by your political opponents is par for the course in public life and should not be grounds for having them censored. Initially, YouTube appeared to recognise this.

When Maza tweeted the video as part of a Twitter thread, it went viral. YouTube responded by saying it had reviewed the videos in question and determined that ‘individually, the flagged videos did not violate our Community Guidelines’. In a tweet, it stated: ‘Opinions can be deeply offensive, but if they don’t violate our policies, they’ll remain on our site.’

With this refusal to censor Crowder’s videos, YouTube found itself accused of inaction and of enabling hatred towards gay people and ethnic minorities. Maza tweeted to his followers: ‘You have to raise hell. Use their platform against them. Hold them accountable for their neglect.’ And raise hell they did.

The next day, under considerable pressure from Twitter and the liberal press, YouTube reversed its stance. It demonetised Crowder’s channel – preventing the raising of money through advertising – and removed some of his older videos. But despite his successful scalp, Maza, a long-time proponent of censorship and de-platforming, was not satisfied. ‘Crowder’s revenue stream isn’t from YouTube ads. It’s from selling merch and “Socialism Is For Fags” shirts to millions of loyal customers, that YouTube continues to drive to his channel’, he tweeted. Only Crowder’s total expulsion from the internet or the removal of his means of making money would be enough to satisfy the new self-appointed censors.

In order to justify its volte face, YouTube pushed out a new hate-speech policy. Given the speed of its u-turn, the policy was presumably cobbled together on the hoof. In a blog post announcing the changes, YouTube vowed to tackle ‘extremist content’ and to remove any video which promotes or seeks to justify ‘discrimination, segregation or exclusion’.

As is to be expected with such a wide-ranging definition of ‘hate’, obnoxious shock jocks like Crowder were not the only ones caught up in it. For instance, Ford Fischer who runs the news channel News2Share, received an email from YouTube telling him that his channel had been demonetised under the new rules. He started his channel in 2014, uploading raw footage of the Black Lives Matter movement. But his channel was demonetised and his revenue was cut for hosting footage of the Charlottesville Unite the Right rally. Fischer told Newsweek that he had no intention of promoting the alt-right: ‘The work is meant as raw footage, so people can critique and analyse the tactics and things being said.’

Another account to be terminated was that of the award-winning history teacher, Scott Allsopp. Allsopp’s channel violated the new rules because his GCSE tutorials on the Second World War featured clips of Adolf Hitler’s speeches and other Nazi propaganda. YouTube has since reinstated Allsopp’s channel, but its initial action shows that in future it is likely to censor first and ask questions later.

YouTube’s response to the spat between Crowder and Maza illustrates how chaotic and opaque internet censorship has become. New, wide-ranging content rules are being devised and implemented at the behest of journalists and the Twittermob. The consequences can be far-reaching, with many innocent users being silenced. If Silicon Valley continues down this censorious path, the free, open internet will soon be a distant memory.



Brisbane ban on 'cookie-cutter' townhouses could be enforced by July

There can be conflicts between stability and economic efficiency and it is sometimes important to prioritize stability.  Money is not everything. People do value stability.  Change can be too much.  So a balance is needed.  And Brisbane people do value their reassuring streetscapes of old wooden houses.  They want them to stay

For many born-Queenslanders such as I am, those houses have a warm and comfortable feeling whereas a modern brick house seems cold and lifeless.  Hard to say why but there's probably more to it than familiarity.  Timber is from a living thing so that may have some influence.

I have spent a lot of time and money restoring old Queensland houses and when I walk into an empty one of them I can feel all the families who have lived there before.  I can almost hear the children playing. Its a feeling of continuity with other people like myself in the past. It feels right.

I suppose I am a sentimental old fool but I am far from alone.  There is already in Brisbane a total ban on demolishing any pre-war house

A ban on townhouses and apartment blocks in Brisbane’s character suburbs could come into effect before the end of the financial year, after the state government gave the green light for public consultation.

In September last year, the council requested state government's approval to amend the council’s City Plan 2014, in a bid to prevent apartment blocks and townhouses from being built on blocks larger than 3000 square metres in low-density residential zoned suburbs.

On Wednesday evening, Infrastructure and Planning Minister Cameron Dick gave Brisbane City Council the go-ahead to progress to public consultation.

He said council was required to consult with the community on the proposed amendments for 20 business days.

“Once the council has completed the consultation they will be required to submit the proposed amendments, including feedback received during the consultation period, for my approval to proceed to adoption,” he said.

“It is now up to the council to consult with the community to test the adequacy of the proposed amendment with the broader community and industry.” The ban would last for two years, if approved.

Brisbane lord mayor Adrian Schrinner welcomed the government's tick of approval for council to progress its plans to halt "cookie-cutter townhouses".

“I am committed to building the infrastructure our city needs, while protecting the liveability of our suburbs and that is exactly what this proposed major amendment can achieve,” Cr Schrinner said.

“Brisbane is growing, but Council is committed to maintaining the character of our suburbs and ensuring any development fits in with the existing surroundings.

The opening of public consultation comes as nearly 6000 properties around Coorparoo have been rezoned to character residential under Brisbane City Council’s latest neighbourhood plan.

The rezoning means more properties will be protected to retain the typical Queensland house from being demolished or altered significantly.



The song sucks': An Indigenous rapper insults the national anthem as he explains it why nine State of Origin stars refused to sing Advance Australia Fair before series opener

An Aborigine makes a case that the words in the Australian national anthem do not apply to Aborigines.  There is some point in what he says but many others could say the same thing.  I, for instance, am not "young and free" (in the words of the anthem).  Old and decrepit would be more like it!  An anthem is not a history lesson.  It is just a few highlights of our history

And by deliberately alienating themselves from the rest of Australia, Aborigines certainly do themselves no favours.  People are a mirror and disrespect tends to get disrespect in return.  So if aborigines want respect -- which they often say they do --  disrespecting Australian traditions is exactly the wrong way to go about it

An Indigenous rapper has explained why Advance Australia Fair is offensive to Aboriginals in response to the boycott of the anthem by a string of State of Origin stars.

Adam Briggs, who performed on stage at Suncorp Stadium in Queensland ahead of the Game One on Wednesday, revealed why he thinks the national song 'sucks'.

'I want to help you understand what the Australian anthem sounds like when black fellas listen to it,' he said on a video posted by The Weekly before the game.

Briggs played through the song until he got to 'For we are young and free'.

'Now, since all children in Northern Territory detention are Aboriginal and we are the most incarcerated people on Earth, we don't feel particularly free,' Briggs said.

'And as for young, we've been here for 80,000 years but I guess we don't look a day over 60,000.'

Playing on until he got to 'we've gold and soil and wealth for toil' in our anthem.

'We don't see much of that wealth. Only one in 10 of us are financially secure,' he said.

He continued on until he reached the line that mentioned 'our land' which he said is exclusionary. 'You see that just reminds us that our land was our land before our home was girt by you lot,' he said.

'We'll toil with hearts and hands,' the anthem continued.

'See, we're still fighting for half a billion dollars in stolen wages so we did the toil part, but we're still waiting for the pay cheque - I guess its in the mail, he said referencing a class action launched in 2016.

Briggs then continued until he stopped at the line: 'We've boundless plains to share.'

'Hold up there, sharing? We can't even share our opinion about a song without the whole country freaking out so that's when it's played, some of us don't feel like standing up or singing along,' Briggs said.

'The song sucks,' he said finally.

The explanation comes as the anthem continues to polarise.

Drawing attention to one of the same lines Briggs did, Labor frontbencher Tanya Plibersek and Liberal MP Craig Kelly recently called for the line 'young and free' to be removed from the anthem.

Instead the pair proposed the line be changed to 'strong and free' to acknowledge Indigenous history.

Nine players, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, chose not to sing at the State of Origin Game One in protest of the anthem they believe to be offensive.

Blues trio Cody Walker, Josh Addo-Carr and Latrell Mitchell vowed to abstain from singing the national anthem, along with Maroons rival Will Chambers, ahead of the first clash on Wednesday evening.

Indigenous player Justin Hodges gave his opinion before the game and said he chose to sing but respected those that didn't.

'I've never really had a problem singing with it because I always thought about the guys that have put their life on the line for us in terms of of the soldiers and all those people,' Hodges said. 'That's why I sung it, for those guys who give us the freedom to play rugby league.'



'Thirty years from complete catastrophe': Admiral claims human civilisation will end as we know it in 2050

Prophecies of doom are as old as the hills, and they are always wrong. And theres no science in this one.  Warmer oceans would mean more rain -- with vast beneficial effects.  But they say a warmer earth will be in drought -- "desertification".  They haven't got a blind clue.  Though you may be consoled to hear that their "report" was endorsed by former Australian defence chief Admiral Chris Barrie.  It takes an admiral ....

And a couple of degrees of warming would do nothing.  I was born and bred in the tropics -- where temperatures were often up to ten degrees warmer than the global average.  And our civilization was unaffected. Though we did drink a lot of cold beer

There is a high likelihood that human civilisation as we know it will come to an end by 2050.

That's according to a policy paper, Existential Climate-related security risk, which predicts more than half of world's population will face lethal heat conditions beyond the threshold of human survivability.

It says desertification could be severe in southern Africa, the southern Mediterranean, west Asia, the Middle East, inland Australia and across the south-western United States.

The report said a number of ecosystems, including coral reef, the Amazon rainforest and the Arctic, will collapse by 2050.

'Even for 2C of warming, more than a billion people may need to be relocated and in high-end scenarios, the scale of destruction is beyond our capacity to model, with a high likelihood of human civilisation coming to an end,' it said.

These scenarios were presented by David Spratt, the research director for Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration in Melbourne, and Ian Dunlop, former chairman of the Australian Coal Association and chair of the Australian Greenhouse Office Experts Group on Emissions Trading.

They said the social consequences of climate change range from 'increased religious fervor to outright chaos.'

'The flooding of coastal communities around the world, especially in the Netherlands, the United States, South Asia, and China, has the potential to challenge regional and even national identities,' they warned.

'Armed conflict between nations over resources, such as the Nile and its tributaries, is likely and nuclear war is possible.'

They have presented scenarios for three periods from 2020 to 2030, 2030 to 2050 and 2050. According to their report, by 2030 policy-makers will fail to act on evidence and prevent growing greenhouse gas emissions.

'While sea levels have risen 0.5 metres by 2050, the increase may be 2 to 3 metres by 2100, and it is understood from historical analogues that seas may eventually rise by more than 25 metres,' the report said.

'Thirty-five percent of the global land area, and 55 percent of the global population, are subject to more than 20 days a year of lethal heat conditions, beyond the threshold of human survivability.'



Stupid critics slam a mother over her eye preference

As you can see if you look, the mother has hazel eyes, due to what geneticists call incomplete dominance.  It arises because she has genes for both blue and brown eyes and both come out, giving eyes that are halfway between blue and brown.  It is rather rare and can be regarded as attractive.

And the mother thinks they are attractive too. So the mother was hoping that her baby would have "pretty" eyes like hers. But that is actually rare.  More usual is for a parent with hazel eyes to have BOTH blue eyed and brown eyed children.

But when the baby was born with blue eyes the mother was a little disappointed and said so. She got a lot of flak for saying that.  It appears to have been taken as a "racist" utterance.

But that is absurd. Blue eyes are part of the Nordic look, which is the worldwide beauty ideal. So blue eyes would not normally be disappointing.  It is clear therefore that she was simply wishing for the baby to look like her -- not anything racial. And it is aways a great topic among parents to say which parent a child looks like -- so it is clear that the woman was just being a normal mother in commenting on her baby's looks

A mum who shared her birthing video has gone viral for all the wrong reasons after fans noticed something “weird” with the special moment she held her baby for the first time.

Biannca Prince, who shares a YouTube channel with her husband Damien called “The Prince Family”, has been slammed for making some rather unusual comments when she first held daughter Nova Grace.

Instead of declaring her bub to be beautiful, as arguably most new mums would, Biannca seemed to be more interested in the colour of little Nova’s eyes. “She’s going to have brown eyes for sure …” the 22-year-old said, just moments after her baby was placed into her arms.

But as Nova’s eyes opened for the first time, Biannca is surprised to see they’re a shade of blue. “I thought you were going to have pretty eyes,” she quips, as she takes the details of her newborn in.

Her husband quickly responds, defending their baby. “She do have pretty eyes,” he claps back. The nurses too quickly tell Biannca little Nova is “beautiful”.

But while it was just a tiny moment in the 37-minute video, it has gone viral after one of their 3.6 million subscribers shared it on Twitter. “Imagine being one hour old and your parents are obsessing over our skin/eye colour,” the tweet read.

Reasons for the outrage were different, with some pointing out the comment could be hurtful to women struggling to conceive and others describing the family as “ungrateful”. Regardless, everyone agreed it was a misguided remark to make.



India weather: Temperature passes 50C Celsius in northern India

The 50 degree reading appears to be from one place in Rajasthan.  But Rajasthan is mainly a big desert and extraordinary readings from such places are routine.  Australia's Marble Bar is similar.  The late Monsoon is probably behind a lot of the heat.  And the Monsoon is often not on time.

Perhaps of particular interest is the following quote from an academic journal article published by the Royal Meteorological society (My caps.):

"Rainfall and temperature data during the period 1901–1982 are studied for the northwest Indian region consisting of the meteorological subdivisions of Punjab, Haryana, west Rajasthan, east Rajasthan and west Madhya Pradesh. The results indicate a DECREASING trend in the mean annual surface air temperature"

So the recent high temperatures are probably part of a long term oscillation.  It doesn't take much research to blow Greenie misrepresentations out of the water

Temperatures passed 50 degrees Celsius in northern India as an unrelenting heatwave triggered warnings of water shortages and heatstroke.

The thermometer hit 50.6 degrees Celsius in the Rajasthan desert city of Churu over the weekend, the weather department said.

All of Rajasthan suffered in severe heat with several cities hitting maximum temperatures above 47 Celsius.

In May 2016, Phalodi in Rajasthan recorded India’s highest-ever temperature of 51 Celsius.

The Indian Meteorological Department said severe heat could stay for up to a week across Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh states.

Several deaths from heatstroke have already been recorded.

About 200 million people live in northern India.

A red alert severe heat warning has been issued in the capital New Delhi as temperatures passed 46 Celsius, and residents were advised not to go out during the hottest hours of the day.

Even in the hill state of Himachal Pradesh, where many wealthy Indians go to escape the summer heat, temperatures reached 44.9 Celsius in Una.

Several major cities, led by Chennai, have reported fears of water shortages as lakes and rivers start to dry up.

In the western state of Maharashtra, farmers struggled to find water for thirsty animals and crops.

“We have to source water tankers from nearby villages as water reserves, lakes and rivers have dried up,” said Rajesh Chandrakant, a resident of Beed, one of the worst-hit districts.

“Farmers only get water every three days for their livestock.” Raghunath Tonde, a farmer with a family of seven, said the area has suffered worsening shortages for five years. “There is no drinking water available for days on end and we get one tanker every three days for the entire village,” Tonde told AFP. “We are scared for our lives and livelihood,” he added.

The Hindustan Times newspaper said many Beed residents had stopped washing and cleaning clothes due to the water shortage.

More than 40 per cent of India faces drought this year, experts from Gandhinagar city’s Indian Institute of Technology, warned last month.

The annual monsoon — which normally brings much needed rain to South Asia — is running a week behind schedule and is only expected to hit India’s southern tip on June 6, the weather department said.

And private forecaster Skymet has said there will be less rain than average this year.

The Indian peninsula has seen a drastic change in rainfall patterns over the past decade, marked by frequent droughts, floods and sudden storms.



Save your money on private school – DNA will decide whether your child does well at school not quality of education, leading geneticist claims

Plomin is basically right.  But a disorderly school can prevent a child from acquiring the knowledge he needs to pass exams. So that would normally require either a move to an area with better government schools or sending the kid to a private school.

But for many people top exam results are not sought.  Medium achievement may be more socially acceptable and a pleasant, safe  and peaceful school environment may be the aim.  But again moving or going private may be needed in some areas.

But most important of all for many parents the main aim is not educational at all.  The main aim is social.  Will the kid meet at school people who will be useful to him in later life? And private schooling is the big solution to that.

And most important of all is status maintenance.  Your family  has to be rich to use a private school so that usually means that you would like your son to marry a girl from a similarly elevated family. And private schools are VERY good for that.  The sons tend to marry the sisters of their fellow students -- who are almost always very "suitable"

A leading geneticist has told parents they don’t need to send their children to top schools like Eton – because genetics has already determined how well they will do in academics.

Robert Plomin, a professor of behavioural genetics at King’s College London, said prestigious schools ‘don’t add anything’ to children’s grades.

Speaking at the Hay Festival, he said that a child’s success is pre-determined by their genes, and ‘nature’ plays a much larger part in our lives than ‘nurture’ or external environmental factors.

When asked why a parent would spend money sending their child to Eton, he replied: ‘The reason why education is universal is literacy and numeracy are innate – children need to learn to read. We’re talking about what makes them different. So the issue is do differences in the quality of school make a difference in outcomes like GCSE scores or getting into universities?

‘There’s a correlation there – kids who go to selective schools have a GCSE score that is one full grade higher than kids who go to comprehensive schools. That’s a correlation though and correlations don’t necessarily imply causation and in this case they don’t.

‘If you correct for what the schools selected on, there’s no difference in GCSE scores. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you select the very best kids academically, yes they go on and do well. But have you added value? The answer is no.

‘So why send your kids to Eton? Don’t. If all you’re doing it for is educational achievement. But if you scratch the surface and talk to the parents it isn’t just for that. It’s for reasons like ‘I want them to be with the right sort of people, I want them to get access and credential, more than actual achievement.

‘But achievement itself – they [Eton] don’t add anything. Schools matter – kids have got to learn all this stuff. But do they make a difference? The answer is no.’

Eton, which costs £42,500 a year in tuition fees, has seen the likes of David Cameron, Eddie Redmayne and Boris Johnson grace their halls. Prince Harry and Prince William also attended the college.

But Professor Plomin argues they would have achieved the same grades if they had gone to a public school.

In his book, ‘Blueprint: How DNA makes us who we are’, he writes: ‘Students select schools and are selected by a school in part on the basis of the students’ prior achievement and ability, which are highly heritable.

‘Students in selective and non-selective schools differ in their DNA. Because the traits used to select students are highly heritable, selection of students for these traits means that students are unintentionally selected genetically.

‘Even though schools have little effect on individual differences in school achievement, some parents will still decide to pay huge amounts of money to send their children to private schools in order to give their children whatever slight advantage such schools provide.

‘I hope it will help parents who cannot afford to pay for private schooling or move house to know that it doesn’t make much of a difference in children’s school achievement.’



Living on the dole

Yesterday, in response to calls to raise Centrelink unemployment payments by $75 a week I wrote briefly:

In my youth I lived on the dole for a time.  It was then  £2/7/6 pw., if that notation means anything to anybody these days. Equal to $70.00 these days. I lived well and even saved money on it.  But I spent nothing on beer and cigarettes and I ate exclusively at home.  I could even afford an egg or two with my breakfast porridge.  Eggs, porridge and milk are very cheap to this day and form a very solid  foundation for a day's nourishment. And you can generally get day-old bread for a song. Good for toast. I don't think it is hard at all if one is not spoilt by uncompromising expectations

My comments that in my youth I lived on an unemployment dole of $70.00 pw evoked some incredulity. The current dole in Australia is $200 more than that. Why the difference?

For a start, I initially gave the actual dole I received: £2/7/6.  I then used the Reserve Bank's online calculator to translate £2/7/6 in 1960 to current dollars.  And $70 was the answer.  The Reserve bank calculator was based on official price indices so is a very scholarly figure which makes allowances for just about anything  that might distort the answers that it gives.  So I think we might have to live with the fact that I really did live on that little.

So how?  A revealing part of the answer is that before I went on the dole I had a job as a junior clerk -- in which I was paid around £6 pw So ALL young sprouts at that time had to live on very little by modern standards.  I was 17 in 1960.

Note the age factor.  As a junior I did not get the full dole.  The full dole was the equivalent of about $100 pw in terms of current purchasing power. But it's still not much, is it?

So how come?  I am afraid the explanation is pretty simple.  We ALL were a lot poorer 60 years ago.  The vast influence of international capitalism has been incredibly enriching for us all over time.  Back in 1960 we did have a lot of the things that people now do but we had to work a lot longer for them.  We did for instance have motor cars but only the well-off had new ones. My father never had a new car in his life.

Eating out was almost unknown but most people could afford a square meal at home at dinner time.  But it was a VERY square meal. Day after day, month after month and year after year it consisted of the same thing: Meat and 3 veg.  Australia has great herds of beef cattle so even working class people could often afford steak a lot of the time but when that failed there were always sausages or minced beef. And it was amazing what you could do with mince. The 3 veg. that came with the meat ALWAYS included some form of potatoes (usually boiled) plus a selection of boiled beans, cabbage and carrots. If you were a bit fancy you might get cauliflower. 

So EVERYBODY lived very economically in those days. They had to.  But there were also people who were really poor -- people who spent half their money on beer and cigarettes mainly.  They had to live the way I did: feeding themselves mainly off milk, porridge, eggs and day-old bread with plum jam on it.  Day-old bread was generally available for half price or less and made very good toast.  And you bought plum jam in big tins to keep the price down. Most houses had a substantial backyard where you could grow most of your fruit and vegetables if you were thrifty.

Food aside, unemployment was less than 2%.  You could get on a steam train and go interstate to visit family and friends at vacation time. There was always the family car for local trips. The newspapers had lots of interesting news, particularly from overseas. You could hear all the latest songs on the radio. The ladies could buy pretty dresses occasionally and even in small towns there were several bars where one could drink cold beer after a hard day's work.  What else is there?  So it wasn't too bad, all told. And there was a lot less obesity!

What I have writen above is a very abbreviated account  of working class life in Australia in 1960 but I think it still has the lesson in it that unemployed people today have lots of scope to cut back rather than raiding the taxpayer for money that will keep them in the style that they aspire to.

And there are some unwise people for whom no dole would ever be enough.  There is a story here of a "struggling" Sydney single mother who spends two thirds of her dole on rent.  And where does she live?  On Sydney's prestigious and very expensive North Shore.  And she feels hard done by! I lived in a small Queensland farming town when I was on the dole. For people with "expectations", that would not do at all at all, of course


How climate change can fuel wars

The article excerpted below is very shifty.  It includes crop losses from COOLING as due to global warming, for instance.  But its main focus is on disruptions caused by drought.  But drought is NOT going to be made worse by Warming. Warming will warm the seas and warmer seas give off more water vapor, which comes down as rain. 

Drought is more likely an effect of cooling and they admit that a cooler climate some decades back originated the Sahelian drought.  The Sahel in fact has been recovering in recent decades -- as it should due to the greatly increased CO2 in the air.  High levels of CO2 enable plants to require less water. Look up "stomata" if you don't believe it. 

In summary the actual facts about climate that they produce lead us to the conclusion that the travails in the region are NOT caused by global warming

Fifty years ago the Dar es Salaam camp would have been under several metres of water. In the 1960s Lake Chad was the sixth-largest freshwater lake in the world, an oasis and commercial hub in the arid Sahel. Water and fertile lands were shared by farmers, herders and fisherfolk alike.

The vast lake has shrunk from 25,000 square km to half that area today. In the camp, which the UNHCR (the UN’s refugee agency) helps run, over 12,000 men, women and children huddle in any shade they can find from heat that often reaches 45°C. The camp has no guard towers or walls. Boko Haram fighters are only a few miles away. A tangle of torn tarpaulins and human debris is scattered across the desert. For miles around, baked white sand is dotted with sparse, scraggy trees bristling with inch-long thorns. The sole signs of life are camels pecking at the dry vegetation.

As Mr Ibrahim remembers when the lake stretched over the horizon. “Before the lake began to shrink everything was going normally,” he says. “And now, nothing. We cannot get food to eat.” As the lake receded, people moved towards it, plagued by swarms of tsetse flies. Herdspeople, farmers and fisherfolk competed for access to the shrunken supply of water. Mr Ibrahim had to walk farther and farther to get to the fishing grounds.

Green campaigners and eager headline-writers sometimes oversimplify the link between global warming and war. It is never the sole cause. But several studies suggest that, by increasing the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, including floods and droughts, it makes conflict likelier than it would otherwise be. In a meta-analysis carried out in the early 2010s, Solomon Hsiang, then at Princeton University, and Marshall Burke, then at the University of California, Berkeley, found “strong support” for a causal link between climate change and conflict (encompassing everything from interpersonal to large-scale violence). They even tried to quantify the relationship, claiming that each rise in temperature or extreme rainfall by one standard variation increased the frequency of interpersonal violence by 4% and intergroup conflict by 14%.

History offers several examples of climate change appearing to foment mayhem. An examination of Chinese records spanning a millennium found that the vast majority of violent eras were preceded by bouts of COOLER weather. The team behind the study argues that lower temperatures reduced agricultural production, provoking fights over land and food.

Consider Syria. Between 2012 and 2015 three academic papers argued that climate change had been a catalyst or even a primary driver of the civil war. Headlines blamed it for the waves of refugees reaching Europe. The argument was that human emissions had caused or exacerbated a severe drought in Syria in the late 2000s that triggered mass migration from farmland into cities, contributing to tensions which ultimately led to war.

The headlines were too simplistic, as headlines often are. Climate modelling led by Colin Kelley, then at the University of California in Santa Barbara, estimated that greenhouse-gas emissions made the drought twice as likely. That is significant, but need not mean that in the absence of climate change, there would have been no drought and no war. Syrians had many reasons to revolt against their ruler, Bashar al-Assad, a despot from a religious minority who enforced his rule with mass torture.

The conflict around Lake Chad is also a tangled tale. Its roots can be traced back to a deadly drought in the 1970s and 1980s. Many have blamed that drought on industrial emissions of greenhouse gases. But climate models suggest they did not in fact play a big role in the drought. The recurrent failure of monsoon rains was caused by COOLER temperatures in the north Atlantic, which pushed the rains too far south. The cooling was itself caused by a mixture of natural and human factors, notably air pollution above the ocean—a striking reminder that greenhouse-gas emissions are not the only way in which human activity may alter the climate.

A report published this month by Adelphi, a Berlin-based think-tank, shows that *Lake Chad is no longer shrinking*. Its authors examined 20 years of satellite data and found that the southern pool was stable for the duration. The northern pool is still shrinking slightly, but total water storage in the area is increasing, as 80% of the water is held in a subterranean aquifer, which is being replenished, as is moisture in the soil, as the rains have returned.

Despite all these caveats, climate change clearly can play a part in fostering conflict. The Sahel is warming 1.5 times faster than the global average, owing to greenhouse-gas emissions. In future, most models suggest, it will experience more extreme and less predictable rains over shorter seasons. In a region where most people still grow or rear their own food, that could make millions desperate and restless.

Climate models predict that, as global average temperatures rise, dry regions will get drier and wet regions will get wetter, with more extremes and greater variability. Poverty makes it harder for farmers to adapt. Trying something new is always risky—and potentially catastrophic for those with no savings to fall back on. In conflict zones, farmers who once had the means to plant several different crops may only be able to plant one. They end up with all their seeds in one basket. On the shores of Lake Chad, violent clashes between government forces and armed opposition groups have created zones that are off-limits to civilians, says Chitra Nagarajan, a researcher for the Adelphi report, who spent two years conducting surveys in all four littoral countries.

Conflict itself makes the poor even poorer, and more vulnerable to the vagaries of a changing climate. Fearing murder, pastoralists cannot take their herds to places with water and vegetation. The UNHCR’s Mr Condé says that fishermen can no longer go into the deep lake to fish. Government troops block them, and Boko Haram is still on the prowl. Fighters steal farmers’ crops. All the farmers can harvest is wood, which they sell as fuel. In a bitter twist, doing so accelerates desertification, further degrading the land.



DESPERATION: After Failing On Collusion And Obstruction, Democrats Unveil New ‘Get Trump’ policy

They really are out of ideas. The claim that Trump is mentally unfit goes right back to his 2016 campaign.  I have looked at several of the claims e.g here and here and here and show how shallow they are

I was amused by the claim below that Trump had a very strict father.  That is in fact a boilerplate Leftist claim about conservatives generally but the speaker gives no evidence of it in Trump's case. To me, Trump's behaviour has all the hallmarks  of a very permissive upbringing -- which was the fashion during his childhood in the 40s and '50s -- Dr. Spock and all that

It's probably just old age in her case but Pelosi's mental meanderings  suggest that she is the one who is unfit for office.  There is a video of her going about which compiles many instances of her slurring her words and stuttering.

Democrats spent the past two years claiming they had proof that President Donald Trump colluded with Russia to win the election and obstructed justice to block Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

After Mueller’s report clearly stated there is no evidence of collusion or obstruction, Democrats have unveiled a new “get Trump” plan.

Now, Democrats are claiming that Trump is not “mentally fit” for office and must be impeached.

Last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “I pray for the President of the United States.” When asked if she was concerned about Trump’s mental state, Pelosi answered, “I am.”

Pelosi implied to reporters that Trump had mental issues, said she was “praying” for the president, and suggested that his family ought to “stage an intervention.”

This paved the way for Democrats to now claim that Trump should be impeached because he has “mental issues.”

Last week, Howard Stern spoke to CNN’s Anderson Cooper to discuss Trump’s mental health and said:

From what I know of Donald and his relationship with his father, it sounds traumatic. It sounds like the father was very domineering.

The father expected a lot of him. And the father, I don’t know, there was military school. You know, you read these drips and drabs and you go wow. I can assure you he’s been traumatized because, you know, Donald, you know, his level of narcissism is so strong.

He has trouble with empathy. We know that. And I wish he’d go into psychotherapy.

During an interview on Friday with MSNBC’s Joy Reid, Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin pushed the same talking point:

“Today, the 25th Amendment has come back into focus because of the extraordinary events that took place in the White House.”

“Speaker Pelosi showed her compassionate side when she said there should be a family intervention. Unfortunately, some conditions are way beyond the capacity of a family intervention to address. This might be far more serious. Professor Bandi Lee, the psychiatrist up at Yale Medical School, had a group do a mental health analysis of the special counsel’s report and they came back and said basically, the president is failing at every level of basic mental and cognitive health.”

“He cannot take in information successfully, he cannot process information successfully, he cannot engage in decision-making without bias, distortion, impulsivity, impetuosity. And he cannot keep himself and others free from danger, which I guess are like the basic minimal requisites of mental health and they’re saying it’s missing in that case. So, the constitution has a mechanism for this. The 25th Amendment.”

After Mueller’s report clearly stated there is no evidence of collusion or obstruction, it is more than clear that Trump’s “deteriorating mental health” is the new plan Democrats will use to push impeachment.



The Labor party's use of misleading advertising in 2016 came back to bite them in 2019

The Mediscare campaign in 2016 seemed a good idea at the time but it was a gross disortion of the facts. So it legitimated  scare campaigns by the coalition in 2019.

The Left never seem able to think ahead.  They never think their dirty deals will just lead to them being hit by similar deeds further down the track.  Some call it the "Harry Reid" effect -- after "clever" Harry abolished the filibuster and inadvertently gave the USA two very conservative High Court judges

Like many I was surprised by the election result two Saturday’s ago. While for many the double of Scott Morrison winning the prime ministership and Tony Abbott losing his seat was the perfect double, I only expected one of those events to unfold.

Bill Shorten’s loss must be personally devastating for him. I’ve heard that his house was half packed up, ready for the move into The Lodge. I know shadow ministers were organising post election briefings with heads of department, as well as lining up new names to take on such roles after the election. Shorten had already planned the timing and agenda of his first cabinet meeting before counting even started.

Never before has the phrase “don’t count your chickens before they hatch” been more appropriate.

While plenty of Labor die hards are angry at the scare campaign the government mounted, the simple fact is what goes around comes around. And, being frank, if politicians can’t sell their way past a scare campaign, they lack the necessary political skills to succeed.

Yes, labelling the franking credits policy a “retiree tax” was deeply misleading. It only affected four per cent of retirees. Pensioners and part pensioners were excluded. And anyone securing franking credits as part of a self managed super fund could shift their investments into a managed fund and the credits would still do their job.

But Labor failed to cut through with such details, and yes many more people were convinced Labor’s policies would hurt them than was actually the case. The scare campaign hit its mark.

Then there was the scare campaign on death duties. Yes some Labor frontbenchers has written about the virtue of inheritance taxes in the past — such as Andrew Leigh during his time in academia. But it wasn’t Labor policy, had been specifically ruled out by Shorten, and the chances of Labor ever changing their minds and introducing death taxes were zero. Yet the scare campaign persisted.

While I would welcome reforms to ensure truth in political advertising, without them the bottom line is Shorten was hit by a double decker karma bus. Because he launched an equally invalid, misleading and false scare campaign against the government back in 2016. The Mediscare campaign was effective. It almost cost Malcolm Turnbull the election. It certainly reduced his majority. It drew Labor close enough such that Shorten’s campaigning skills were praised and Labor’s performance defied expectations. It meant Anthony Albanese couldn’t challenge the always unpopular Shorten.

What goes around comes around. A Labor scare campaign in 2016 saves Shorten’s leadership and crippled the authority of the then PM in the election’s aftermath. A Liberal scare campaign in 2019 cost Shorten the prime ministership and has sured up Scott Morrison’s authority as PM.

It’s all very unedifying. It’s not conducive to good politicking and good policy making. But I do believe, with or without truth in political advertising reforms, politicians worth their salt should be able to successfully defeat such scare campaigns. If they are good enough, and if their reforms are good enough.

When they can’t they have no one to blame but themselves. Especially when they dabbled in the black arts themselves, just three years earlier.



Twitter is working with academic researchers to decide whether it should ban white supremacists from its platform

There seems to be no agreed definition of white supremacy. Does it include immigration critics and patriots?  It seems to on many occasions.  The only definition that fits all the cases seems to be anyone who disagrees with the Left.

But even if a reasonable definition of white supremacism can be devised,  it is supported only by a few isolated individuals.  It has no substantial organization -- unlike Islamic supremacism or Leftist supremacism.  A supremacist wants to rule the world so is in principle obnoxious.  If it is going to ban anything, Twitter should ban Islamic supremacism and Leftist supremacism. White supremacism is the least of the world's supremacism problems

Twitter says it's looking into whether or not white supremacists should be allowed on its platform, amid increasing calls for a crackdown on extremist content.

The social media giant is examining how white nationalists and supremacists use its platform to help it decide whether the groups should be banned, or if they should be allowed to continue to post so that other users can debate them, according to Motherboard. 

It comes as Twitter has faced criticism over the plethora of extremist content shared on its site and the fact that it has taken few measures to curb hateful rhetoric.

Researchers are looking at what roles Twitter plays in making conversations around white nationalism and white supremacy worse or better.  From there, it hopes to have a better idea of whether or not banning these groups would be the right move.

'Is it the right approach to deplatform these individuals? Is the right approach to try and engage with these individuals? How should we be thinking about this? What actually works?' Vijaya Gadde, Twitter's head of trust and safety, told Motherboard.

Last month, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Gadde met with President Donald Trump to discuss the 'health of public conversations on the site.

Twitter has become notorious for its characteristically slow responses to pressing problems on the site, such as abuse, trolls and hateful content.

For that reason, many aren't surprised by the company's decision to look into the issue of white supremacists and white nationalism several years after these kinds of content started to become amplified on Twitter.

'The idea that they are looking at this matter seriously now as opposed to the past indicates the callousness with which they've approached this issue on their platform,' Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters, told Motherboard.

Similarly, Heidi Beirich, director of the intelligence project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, told Motherboard it has been proven that white supremacists continue to thrive on Twitter.

'Twitter has David Duke on there; Twitter has Richard Spencer,' she told Motherboard. 'They have some of the biggest ideologues of white supremacy and people whose ideas have inspired terrorist attacks on their site, and it's outrageous.'

Twitter has taken some steps to crack down on extremism, joining Facebook, YouTube, Spotify, LinkedIn and others last year in banning right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his Infowars show from its platform.

In other ways, Twitter and several social media platforms have yet to fully reckon with the amount of extremist content on their platforms.

YouTube has also become a popular destination for white nationalism and supremacy, but it has so far refused to ban either forms of content from its site.

So far, the only major social media platform to take a stand against white nationalism and white separatism is Facebook, which banned those kinds of posts in March.

Posts that include statements like 'I am a proud white nationalist' and 'Immigration is tearing this country apart' will immediately be banned.

If a user tries to publish a post around these themes, they'll instead be redirected to a nonprofit called Life After Hate, which helps individuals involved in these extremist groups exit them safely.



Humans held responsible for twists and turns of climate change since 1900

The Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (the Gulfstream to you) has clearly had a large role in explaining oscillations in our climate.  As such it is something of an alternative to CO2 as an influence. So that is pesky to Warmists.

The authors below, however, have done all sorts of revisions, estimates and modelling which have enabled them to claim that the AMO has in fact done nothing. All the changes are due to human deeds.  So a simple explanation has been swapped for a complex one

When you are a Warmist however you have to ignore a lot.  You even have to ignore the philosophy of science.  One of the basic axioms of science is what some people call Occam's razor:  That a simpler explanation is always to be preferred to a complex one. When we apply that axiom to the explanation put forward by the authors below we have to conclude that their explanation is wrong

While industry and agriculture belched greenhouse gases at an increasing pace through the 20th century, global temperature followed a jagged course, surging for 3 decades starting in 1915, leveling off from the 1950s to the late 1970s, and then resuming its climb. For decades, scientists have chalked up these early swings to the planet’s internal variability—in particular, a climatic pacemaker called the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), which is characterized by long-term shifts in ocean temperatures. But researchers are increasingly questioning whether the AMO played the dominant role once thought. The oceanic pacemaker seems to be fluttering.

It is now possible to explain the record’s twists and turns almost entirely without the AMO, says Karsten Haustein, a climate scientist at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom and lead author of a new study published this month in the Journal of Climate. After correcting for the distinct effects of pollution hazes over land and ocean and for flaws in the temperature record, Haustein and his colleagues calculated that the interplay of greenhouse gases and atmospheric pollution almost singlehandedly shaped 20th century climate. “It’s very unlikely there’s this ocean leprechaun that produces cyclicity that we don’t know about,” Haustein says—which means it is also unlikely that a future cool swing in the AMO will blunt the ongoing human-driven warming.

Others aren’t convinced the “leprechaun” is entirely vanquished. “They are probably right in that [the AMO] is not as big a player globally as has sometimes been thought,” says Kevin Trenberth, a climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. “But my guess is that they underestimate its role a bit.”

The AMO arose from observations that sea surface temperatures in the North Atlantic seem to swing from unusually warm to cold and back over some 20 to 60 years; the ancient climate appears to have had similar swings. Researchers theorized that periodic shifts in the conveyor belt of Atlantic Ocean currents drive this variability. But why the conveyor would regularly speed and slow on its own was a mystery, and the evidence for grand regular oscillations has slowly been eroding, says Gabriele Hegerl, a statistical climatologist at the University of Edinburgh. “Those are harder to defend.”

The new skepticism kicked off with work led by Ben Booth, a climate scientist at the Met Office Hadley Centre in Exeter, U.K.. In 2012, he reported in Nature that pollution hazes, or aerosols, began thickening the clouds over the Atlantic in the 1950s, which could have cooled the ocean with little help from an internal oscillation. In the past year, several independent models have yielded similar results. Meanwhile, most global climate models have been unable to reproduce AMO-like oscillations unless researchers include the influence of pollutants, such as soot and sulfates produced by burning fossil fuels, says Amy Clement, a climate scientist at the University of Miami in Florida.

Now, it seems plausible that such human influences, with help from aerosols spewed by volcanic eruptions, drove virtually all 20th century climate change. Haustein and his co-authors tweaked a relatively simple climate model to account for the fact that most pollution originates over land, which heats and cools faster than the ocean—and there’s much more land in the Northern Hemisphere. And they dialed back the cooling effect of volcanic eruptions—a reasonable move, says Booth, who is not affiliated with the study. “We’ve known models respond too strongly to volcanoes.”

The also adjusted the global temperature record to account for a change in how ocean temperatures are measured; during World War II, the British practice of measuring water samples in buckets gave way to systematically warmer U.S. readings of water passing through ships’ intake valves. Past efforts to compensate for that change fell short, Haustein and his team found, so they used data from weather stations on coastlines and islands to correct the record.

As input for the model, the team used greenhouse gas and aerosol records developed for the next U.N. climate report, along with records of historical volcanic eruptions, solar cycles, and El Niño warmings of the Pacific. Comparing the simulated climate with the adjusted temperature record, they found that multidecadal variability could explain only 7% of the record. Instead, soot from industry drove early 20th century warming as it drifted into the Arctic, darkening snow and absorbing sunlight. After World War II, light-reflecting sulfate haze from power plants increased, holding off potential warming from rising greenhouse gases. Then, pollution control arrived during the 1970s, allowing warming to speed ahead.

It’s a compelling portrait, but it could have been substantially different if the team had used other, equally justifiable assumptions about the climate impact of aerosols, Booth says. Trenberth thinks the team’s adjustments had the effect of fitting the model to an uncertain record. “There is considerable wiggle room in just what the actual record is,” he says.

Haustein disputes that the team tailored the model to explain the 20th century warming. “All we did was use available data in the most physically consistent way,” he says. The researchers ran the model from 1500 to 2015, and he says it matches paleoclimate records well, including Europe’s Little Ice Age.

If a grand ocean oscillation isn’t shaping climate, a future ocean cooling is unlikely to buy society time to address global warming. But the demise of the AMO also might make it easier to predict what is in store. “All we’re going to get in the future,” Haustein says, “is what we do.”



Millennials Near Middle Age in Crisis: The cohort is in worse financial shape than prior living generations—and may not recover

Although it includes lots of statistics, the WSJ writers below  seem not to have fully grasped the implications of averages.  They fail to take account of the ever-spreading plague of credentialism -- where more and more young people are undertaking more and more degrees and taking them to a higher level at a higher price. Doctorates are now a dime a dozen. That has got to drag the net worth averages gown.

 And teachers used to be trained in an apprenticeship, meaning they started to earn from day 1. Now you need a Masters degree to progress in a teaching job. And four year teaching degrees are a huge crock anyway.  In "Teach for America", they get all their training in one summer school.  I taught High School with considerable success despite having ZERO teaching qualifications.  I just had a first degree.  For most people to be a teacher these days you have to pour four years of your life down the drain.

That has both explicit costs and opportunity costs.  Students could have been in the workforce and earning instead of taking degrees that end up being of little worth to them.

So students these days emerge from formal education owing a lot more and a higher proportion of young people are in that category.  The resultant debt has got to yank their average net worth and disposable income way down.  If you could take education costs out of the equation, I doubt that millennials would be at any disadvantage

American millennials are approaching middle age in worse financial shape than every living generation ahead of them, lagging behind baby boomers and Generation X despite a decade of economic growth and falling unemployment.

Hobbled by the financial crisis and recession that struck as they began their working life, Americans born between 1981 and 1996 have failed to match every other generation of young adults born since the Great Depression. They have less wealth, less property, lower marriage rates and fewer children, according to new data that compare generations at similar ages.

Even with record levels of education, the troubles of millennials have delayed traditional adult milestones in ways expected to alter the nation’s demographic and economic contours through the end of the century.

Millennials helped drive the number of U.S. births to their lowest levels in 32 years. That means fewer workers in the future to support Social Security and other public programs for the ballooning population of retirees.

Social Security last month estimated that in 2035, after nearly all baby boomers retire, there will be 2.2 workers per beneficiary. Last year, there were 2.8. The current birthrate of around 1.8 children per woman is expected to create a Social Security deficit of nearly $2 trillion over the next 75 years.

Prospects for a quick turnaround aren’t good. Men and women in their 30s are marrying at rates below every other generation on record.

“We’ll have to rethink a lot of things about taxation and how social programs are funded if fertility is really on a more permanent decline,” said Anqi Chen, assistant director of savings research at the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

Growth in property values and the stock market this past decade helped older households regain ground since the recession. Millennials, though, have made little headway.

“If I can’t afford a home, I definitely can’t afford kids,” said Joy Brown, 32 years old. She is a renter who is single and earns $75,000 a year. She also owes $102,000 in student loans and $10,000 in credit-card debt.

“Myself and a lot of my peers still feel like we’re playing catch-up in the game of life,” said Ms. Brown, a compliance officer for the city of Chicago More than half the 72 million American millennials are now in their 30s. The oldest will turn 38 this year, when their generation is expected to surpass the number of baby boomers.

Their slow start has been well-documented in the first years after the recession. New data show that millennials may never catch up with the generations of Americans that preceded them.

A generation apart

“Their economic fundamentals are fundamentally different,” said Christopher Kurz, an economist at the Federal Reserve. Mr. Kurz and his colleagues last year analyzed income, debt, asset and consumption data to figure out how millennials compared at similar ages with Generation X, people born between 1965 and 1980, as well as baby boomers, those born from 1946 to 1964. They found that millennial households had an average net worth of about $92,000 in 2016, nearly 40% less than Gen X households in 2001, adjusted for inflation, and about 20% less than baby boomer households in 1989.

Wages didn’t look much better. At the same ages, GenXmen working full time and who were heads of households earned 18% more than their millennial counterparts, and baby boomer men earned 27% more, when adjusting for inflation, age and other socioeconomic variables. Among women, incomes were 12% higher for Gen Xers and 24% higher for baby boomers than for millennials, using the same measures.

One explanation for their slowprogress is bad luck. Economists have found that entering the workforce during a downturn yields lower earnings for life. Till von Wachter, an economics professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, found that Americans who entered the labor market when unemployment rates rose by five points—about the same as in the 2007-09 recession—saw their cumulative earnings fall by 10% over the first decade of a career. “The effects have health and lifestyle consequences well into middle-age,” said Prof. von Wa chter. He reviewed four decades of earning data in his study, which was conducted with Hannes Schwandt of Northwestern University.

The disappearance of manufacturing jobs, which in postwar years paid middle-class wages to high-school graduates, is another misfortune. Those who lack a college degree are at the biggest risk of falling behind. Median household income last year was about $105,300 for millennials with a bachelor’s degree or higher, more than twice that of households headed by high-school graduates, according to the PewResearch Center.

Many millennials couldn’t afford to buy houses or invest in the stock market early enough to profit from the sharp escalation of prices over the past decade, said William Emmons, an economist at the Center for Household Financial Stability at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

About one third of millennials owned homes in 2016, compared with half of Gen Xers at similar ages in 2001, and just under half of baby boomers in 1989, according to Mr. Kurz’s findings. Even if millennials close the gap as they age, “asset prices are so high,” Mr. Emmons said, that their expected return on real estate is lower.

Losing out on a decade of gains in the stock and housing markets hurt the financial standing of millennial households. Between 2010 and 2016, Gen Xers, baby boomers and the older silent generation all recouped some of their recession losses, while the average family headed by someone born in the 1980s fell further behind the older groups, in relative terms.

The St. Louis Fed found the median wealth of a family headed by someone born in the 1980s was a third below the level that they would expect, compared with earlier generations at the same age and adjusted for inflation.

The regional Fed bank concluded that people born in the 1980s are at risk of becoming America’s lost generation, Mr. Emmons said, men and women who feel an almost insurmountable burden to catch up financially.

For richer, for poorer

Millennials, as a group, are better educated than any generation before them. About four in 10 ages 25 to 37 hold at least a bachelor’s degree compared with about a quarter of baby boomers, and three in 10 Gen Xers when they were the same age. Those college diplomas have come at a high price. The average student-loan balance for millennials in 2017 was $10,600, more than twice the average owed by Gen X in 2004, according to Mr. Kurz and his Fed colleagues.

For the Cochrans, the price was personal. Joseph Cochran, a real-estate manager, proposed to Tasha Brown in 2012. She said yes. Then Ms. Brown, a consumer finance attorney, realized that combining their salaries as a married couple could drive up their income-based student- loan payments.

They ditched their wedding plans but forged a life together. Each wear wedding rings. Ms. Brown, 36, legally changed her name and became Ms. Cochran. The couple run a financial-advice website, whittling away at their combined student debt of $377,000.

“If we had zero student loans we’d be married,” Ms. Cochran said. “We have to be far more strategic and creative in order to try to fit everything in around our student loans.”

Their strategy included moving from Philadelphia to Maryland four years ago. Ms. Cochran struggled to get pregnant, and the couple chose a state that mandated insurance coverage of in vitro fertilization, she said. The Cochrans now have a 3-year-old son.

Ms. Cochran also has a 17- year-old daughter from a previous relationship and has promised to pay for college as long as the teenager studies at an instate school. Last fall, the young woman enrolled in community college to get a head start. Her teenager “likes the idea of being able to graduate without having any student loans,” she said.

The family takes a more practical view of higher education, based, in part, on hardwon experience with jobs and school loans. “We tell her to think a lot about howmuch is a given major going to pay,” Ms. Cochran said.

The financial strain faced by many American millennials is driving shifts in their political views, reflecting a “feeling that as a citizen the system is not really operating as you expect it to,” said Mohamed Younis, editor in chief of Gallup.

A Gallup poll last summer found that millennials were the only generation that favored socialism over capitalism by a slight margin. The survey didn’t include Generation Z, people born in 1997 or later, and who are mostly too young to vote.

Tough times for millennials struggling to reachamore comfortable middle-class life have triggered support for populist candidates and promises of universal health care and free college education.

Tony Mancilla, a 31-year-old hospital maintenance technician in American Falls, Idaho, voted for Hillary Clinton, a Democrat, in 2016. Now, he is interested in Sen. Bernie Sanders, of Vermont, a self-described democratic socialist.

Mr. Mancilla, who earns about $35,000 a year, said he can’t afford the more than $600 a month it costs to insure his wife and two children on his employer plan. His children rely on a publicly subsidized plan. His wife is uninsured.

These health-care worries pointed Mr. Mancilla to Mr. Sanders’s Democratic Party primary campaign and “his way of looking at health care, trying to get that for everybody, taxing the rich,” he said. “He might have the best interest for the American people rather than just one class.”

As millennials approach middle age, more are asking for help from their employers. Ford Motor Co. two years ago expanded its financial-planning services after internal surveys found that the top monetary concern of millennials was saving for retirement. Ford’s planning services include one-onone reviews of employee investments. All 80,000 U.S. workers are eligible.

“A good number of them are in their 30s and are thinking about longer-term planning,” said Julie Lodge-Jarrett, chief talent officer at the Dearborn, Mich., auto maker. “While they want to save, and they inherently get the importance of saving and planning, they don’t know how to do it.”

ZillowGroup Inc., the Seattle real-estate company, earlier this year began offering a studentloan repayment program, contributing $25 a month toward the employee’s balance. The benefit was initiated after workers asked for help tackling college debts, said Dan Spaulding, the company’s chief people officer. About 580 workers have signed up, the company said, and they carry an average loan balance of about $28,000.

Mike Maughan, head of global insights at Qualtrics in Provo, Utah, which researches millennials, said the financial picture of the generation is rosier than it appears: “Millennials aremuch scrappier than we give them credit for.”

Employers have told Mr. Maughan that the desire of millennials for on-the-job feedback shows they are eager to improve their skills.

One other bright spot: Millennials are entering their prime earning years just as baby boomers retire. That should fuel demand for their skills and lift their earnings. “The job market is so much better, so much stronger than it was 10 years ago,” said Mr. Emmons, of the St. Louis Fed. “That’s a huge benefit.”