Homeseekers warned over small buying window

I have got to agree with this. The steadly increasing Queensland population due to immigration from interstate and overseas combined with the very slow rate of new builds must inevitably increase scarcity and scarcity inevitably brings price rises

It’s a buyer’s market but home seekers have been warned they may only have a small window to purchase properties at lower prices before they rise again.

Housing experts revealed many property markets were on track to rebound in the months ahead following record price falls over the past year.

The main drivers of the uplift in prices over the second half of the year were worsening housing shortages, rampant migration and runaway rental increases coaxing more first homebuyers to purchase.

Agents reported buyers had also adjusted to the initial shock of the Reserve Bank’s recent barrage of rate rises and were factoring future rises into their spending budgets.

My Housing Market economist Andrew Wilson said the market was already improving and looked likely to bottom out by June.

Ray White chief economist Nerida Conisbee said there was mounting evidence the worst of the year-long housing slump had passed and prices in some cities were closer to static than falling.

Prices nationally inched down by just 0.09 per cent over January and by a similar margin over December – a far cry from the more than 1 per cent drops over the months following the first rate hikes in May.

Ms Conisbee said rate rises had pushed down prices but their impact on future price movements had been overblown.

“It’s a big influence on the market, but it’s not the only factor,” she said. “Little housing stock is coming onto the market in most areas and this doesn’t look like it will change. In fact, it could get worse because we’re not building enough new homes and builders are going bust.”

Property figures showed current listings across the country are about 30 per cent below the five-year average. Three- and four-bedroom houses were in particularly short supply.

“The quality homes are rarely listed. Buyers who want them have to compete and prices for those houses will go up,” Real Estate Buyer’s Agents Association of Australia president Cate Bakos said.

“There are a lot of people who can buy, but aren’t doing so,” Ms Bakos said.

“They’re all for the bell to ring saying it’s the bottom of the market. Those buyers will be your competition when the market recovers. The exact same thing happened during pandemic. People held off until the market started booming, then it was too late.”

Buyer’s agent Rich Harvey of Property Buyer said sitting on the sidelines waiting for further falls in property prices before making a purchase wasn’t a smart strategy given how rapidly rents were rising.

A typical capital city tenant is currently spending about $30,000 a year in rent and some renters would not necessarily get this kind of saving on their purchase price if they kept waiting to buy.

“The biggest falls have already happened, any additional falls will be a lot smaller, but during all that time you’re paying a lot in rent that could have paid off your mortgage,” Mr Harvey said.


Two Tales of Higher Education in North Carolina

The African woman below describes the ambience at an historically black college and compares that with the ambience at a college in an affluent white area. The scenery is undoubtedly better in the white area. She sees the facilities and scenery in the white area as conferring more opportunity on the students who go there. She sees the black college students as disadvantaged by comparison.

Yet she also says that the educational environment at the black college is very good and likely to help the students there to develop themselves in constructive directions

That seems a non-sequitur to me. Does nice scenery make you learn better? Any such influence is surely marginal.

The real difference between the two colleges lies not in facilities but in the family background of the students. The lush environment of the white college tells us that a lot of the parents of the students there are affluent. And affluence is substantially transmissable. The habits of thought and behaviour that made the parents and grandparents affluent will tend to be passed onto the children who will thus be well equipped to become affluent themselves.

So the advantage that the writer sees as coming from the college environment in fact comes from the family of the students there and little more. Different families lead to different lives

Aweek ago, I visited the first Historically Black College or University for women in the United States, Bennett College. The college itself is landmark, a beautiful representation of Black women, and a hallmark of Greensboro.

The women who attend and teach at the college are known as the Bennett Belles — epitomizing grace and intellect with every step they take. The campus is laid out intentionally with residential halls facing the academic buildings so that, as the tour guide informed me, “the young women of Bennett remain focused on what matters.”

At the tip of the campus is a brick chapel, which once hosted the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., facing gates that women can walk through only twice in their time at Bennett — when they first become Belles and when those Belles finally leave the ball (also known as graduation). The gates are parallel to the president’s home, which serves as the campus’ North Star.

As I sat, perched, at the bench in front of the chapel, I felt an overwhelming sense of joy mainly due to the fact that Black women had a place they could call home — a space in which they could and should delve into all their interests without remorse. I imagine that I would have felt this way had I gone to Spelman, another Historically Black College for Black women situated in Atlanta.

After speaking with the Black women who attended Bennett, my heart was full. Before me were tens of young women, from different walks of life, passionate about making the world a better place — and they had the added bonus of having each other to lean on.

That same day, I travelled to another higher education institution, Elon University, which was about 30 minutes out. I drove with a professor who also had not yet visited the university, and when we turned into campus, our jaws immediately dropped.

Flanked to our left was a beautiful brick building simply titled “The Inn” and ahead of us was a huge fountain surrounded by the greenest grass you could possibly imagine. (I later found out that Elon is known for being one of the most picturesque campuses in the country, and it surely lived up to its name.) The school was simply breathtaking.

Though my time at Elon was edifying and exciting (I taught my first class there based on my edited collection!), I could not help but think about the Bennett Belles, their campus, and how some years back the college was in the news for potentially losing accreditation. I could not help but think about how Dr. Tressie McMillan Cottom discussed Bennett College in her piece about student debt for the New York Times. Or, how at present nearly all full-time first-time Bennett College students receive financial aid.

In comparison, a quick look at Elon University’s demographics suggests that the majority of college-age students are white, rich, and from the Northeast. Lots of students who attended the private school I graduated from landed at Elon. Though a fair amount of Elon’s students still need financial aid (~36 percent of first year students needed aid this past year), there is no shortage of resources.

The differences in facilities, for example, between the two schools are stark. At most public universities and HBCUs, separate colleges or departments may share floors or even a building. At Elon, and lots of private PWIs, colleges and/or departments have their own campus or building.

To me, these two colleges, thirty minutes apart, represented two completely different institutional realities, which differ along the lines of race, gender, and class in higher education.

Bennett College is more than equipped to educate students, but the noticeable lack of investment in HBCUs, like Bennett, that serve purposes beyond educating Black students, is egregious at best.

What’s more Elon isn’t unique in its proximity to whiteness and wealth (and the legacy thereof) in the higher education sphere. My dad used to say that predominantly white institutions are where the resources were concentrated. And he’s right.

In 2016, the United Negro College Fund found that Howard University, the HBCU with the largest endowment of $600 million, has a significantly lower endowment than the 10th place non-HBCU university, University of Michigan at $9.5 billion. Billions to millions. Comparing Elon and Bennett, Elon’s current endowment is 335 million as of 2021 while Bennett’s is $15 million. The differences are stark. Yet, the outsized cultural and economic impact of HBCUs are unparalleled.

At the crux, the [type of] access to higher education is an excellent representation of how inequality still shapes the spaces that generate opportunity. And how when we talk about who faces challenges in higher education, and who ends up makes decisions for students overall, there is a gap.

The two tales of higher education boils down to this: The Bennett Belles are as capable as anyone I met at Elon University, but because of their race, gender identity, and for many, class, they will not be easily granted the space to lead in the way Elon students will be expected to, they will not receive every resource they are entitled to.

Even amidst challenges faced, Bennett College students are thriving in every area, being selected for high ranking graduate programs, interning at Fortune 500 companies, and the list continues. What would happen if these women were granted the resources to go above and beyond what they’ve already achieved?


Another attack on democracy in New Zealand

Under their recently retired PM Ardern, significant power in the country was transferred to the Maori minority. The Parliament became no longer supreme. NZ journalist Marc Daalder has mounted another attack on NZ democracy. See below.

Daalder is a global warming true believer. And he doesn't let the facts get in his way. For a start his assertion that "Human civilisation has never before seen a world as hot as Earth is today " is quite false. It ignores the Medieval warm period and the Roman warm period. Is he saying that the ancient Romans were not civilized? Is he denying that it was hotter then? Elephants cannot now traverse the Alps the way they did under Hannibal.

And note in his third paragraph how he slides from saying (correctly) that there is a lot of CO2 in the atmophere today to linking that to New Zealand's recent weather disasters. Even the IPCC says you cannot infer climate from weather.

But he really nails his colours to the mast when he says that "It is incontrovertible that human burning of fossil fuels is the primary driver of climate change". Incontrovertible? A lot of people have controverted it. He is just a foolish young man. He is not worth a Dutch dollar

National Party MP Maureen Pugh echoed an old adage of climate deniers on Tuesday when asked about her belief in human-caused global warming. The climate, she said, has always changed, but she was still awaiting evidence that humans are causing changes this time around.

This is a classic example of paltering - the use of selective truthful statements to create a misleading overall impression. Scientists are aware the climate has changed in the past, and it is the reality of these past changes that make our current situation so concerning.

The last time there was this much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, New Zealand had crocodiles, Central Otago was hotter and more tropical than Queensland is today and conifers lined the coast of Antarctica. Human civilisation has never before seen a world as hot as Earth is today - let alone the 2.6C of warming we are on track for.

Clearly, past climates are not reassuring. But the human impact here is clear as well. Carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere is increasing at the fastest observed rate in 66 million years of records.

It is incontrovertible that human burning of fossil fuels is the primary driver of climate change and global temperature increase. That's the conclusion of 234 experts from 64 countries who wrote the latest review of scientific evidence for climate change for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. They reviewed 14,000 scientific papers, responded to 80,000 comments from peer reviewers and produced a 2400-page report, as well as a summary for policymakers approved line-by-line by 195 countries.

The first line of that summary?

"It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land. Widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere and biosphere have occurred."

If that isn't enough, consider that the Royal Society of New Zealand first backed the scientific consensus on climate way back in 2001, back when Pugh had been a local councillor for just three years and before her nine-year mayoral term or seven years as an MP. It was joined by 33 other national science academies from around the world.

There's also the World Meteorological Organisation, the World Health Organisation, the United Nations, the American Geophysical Union, the European Federation of Geologists, the American Meteorological Society, the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society, the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences, the Royal Meteorological Society, the American Medical Association and dozens of other expert groups.

When Pugh said she was awaiting evidence from Climate Change Minister James Shaw on the human influence on the climate, why were the views and research of tens of thousands of practising scientists worldwide not enough for her?

Now, of course, Pugh says it was all a misunderstanding. "Human-induced climate change is real," she now says. She had been "unclear", she says.

Pugh wasn't unclear, she was crystal clear on Tuesday morning. She was asked point blank whether she believed in human-caused climate change. She didn't say "yes", she said she was waiting for Shaw's response with the evidence.

It is not credible that Pugh accepted the scientific consensus on climate change when she gave these answers, which inherently contradict her later claim that she had seen all the evidence she needed.

"I'm not waiting on the evidence," she told reporters on Tuesday afternoon, three hours after she told the same reporters, "I am waiting on the evidence".

It's not credible either for her to have missed or ignored two decades of scientific research on climate change, only to have reviewed the science over lunch on Tuesday and come around on the whole climate change thing.

Neither what Pugh wants the public to believe nor any alternative generous interpretations of her swift about-face are feasible.

Even putting aside this dishonesty, the situation raises greater questions about the quality of our representatives.

Pugh is of course an example of the historically poor quality of National's candidate vetting.

When she first arrived at Parliament, she said she didn't believe in pharmaceuticals. In 2021, she was one of the last of the party's caucus to get vaccinated, saying she had not yet booked a doctor's appointment. During the Parliament occupation, she briefly wrote in support of the protesters before deleting the social media post.

The climate issue is perhaps the most significant question mark over her record, however.

In 2023, as climate-intensified storms and cyclones have already killed 15 people, rendered thousands homeless and caused billions of dollars in damage, not accepting the scientific basis for anthropogenic (human-caused) warming is unacceptable in a legislator.

It speaks to both a callous disregard for the mounting toll of victims of climate change and an irrationality we wouldn't allow on other issues. Would anyone trust an MP who was a flat earther to make the best decisions for their constituents and their country?

Legislators make decisions on policy that have concrete effects on people's lives and the country's climate response. It's clearly untenable for people who deny the fact of climate change to be making those calls.

The rapid backlash to Pugh's statements and her unconvincing retraction show that the public and most sitting MPs also see climate denial as an automatic disqualifier for holding office.


Deficient medical care facilities in remote areas

Decisions about where to live will inevitably have consequences. I live in an inner city area and can get medical appointments very easily and promptly. But to expect that service availability out in the bush is simply unrealistic.

The government tries to provide good medical services to all but doing so has got to be difficult. And the further away from the metropolis you are the more difficult it will be.

If there were infinite funding available no-one would need to be disadvantaged but that is not the case. So priorities have to be looked at. The government is going to be able to deliver care at lower costs in urban areas. So servicing the bush to a high level would reduce care available in the State overall. To do so is obviously not an easy decision

A national crisis has been laid bare in black and white in a report from the Royal Flying Doctor Service, detailing the gross inequity of healthcare for Aussies living in the bush.

A shocking 44,000 people in this country have no access to a doctor within an hour’s drive; almost 120,000 are that far away from a dentist and 134,000 are equally distant from any mental health support.

It’s not just a matter of convenience, or simply how life is out in remote parts of the country.

This is taking years off everyday Australians’ lives. Women are dying 19 years earlier than average in very remote parts of the country, men almost 14 years. First Nations Australians are dying 14 years sooner on average and the gap is even wider in remote areas.

These are the very real consequences of a health system that is sick, and nowhere is it worse off than in our nation’s regions.

In Queensland, there are recent examples of failures in regional health, such as the Gladstone Hospital maternity unit being on bypass since July and sending expecting mothers 100km away to Rockhampton.

Unfortunately, it is just the most recent in a long line of regional maternity services shut down, or put on bypass.

Australia’s healthcare system was once the envy of the world, but now it seems close to being put on life support.

The Strengthen Medicare Taskforce report, touted as providing much-needed reform to make Medicare more sustainable, was released in February 2023, but it was largely found wanting.

At just 12 pages, some of its recommendations were motherhood statements about needing to improve access to after-hours care, or fast-tracking work to increase the supply of doctors and nurses.

Other recommendations were to have blended-model medical practices, with GPs, nurses, physios and more working together in an integrated model, or to develop funding models that are relevant for rural practices.

But these have all been proposed before, and there was little to be said for the specifics on how to do these worthy tasks.

Whatever happens, it will need federal, state and even local governments working together to achieve better outcomes for rural health. This has not always been the case, as has been seen in Queensland recently.

Meanwhile, the commonwealth is seeking ways
to encourage more doctors to bulk-bill, which would increase people’s access to healthcare.

But the Queensland government, as well as those in other states, sought to implement a new interpretation of payroll tax laws, which would have seen doctors slugged.

Medical peak bodies warned that this would hit the regions most, with many GP offices operating on slim profit margins potentially facing closure.

After much pressure, the government backed down and offered an amnesty on the tax until 2025, but only to kick the can down the road past the next election.

Action needs to be taken now; the divide between the regions and the capital cities cannot be allowed to keep widening.

It is no exaggeration to say that lives depend on it.


Natural immunity is best

From the outset of the pandemic the usefulness of natural immunity was pooh-poohed by all those in power. One would normally assume that once you had a viral illness, that would protect you from catching it again. For some reason --presumably political -- Covid was said to be an exception to that.

Naturally-acquired immunity was said not to matter. You still had to get vaccinated to be protected from the illness. That was always rubbish and a very comprehensive study just out in The Lancet really knocks the nonsense on the head. After examining all the research now available in the medical literature, they conclude:

"Furthermore, although protection from past infection wanes over time, the level of protection against re-infection, symptomatic disease, and severe disease appears to be at least as durable, if not more so, than that provided by two-dose vaccination with the mRNA vaccines for ancestral, alpha, delta, and omicron BA.1 variants"

So if you had already had the disease you didn't need vaccination. We were all lied to by those in power. Some of them may have meant well but all should have been aware that what they were saying was unlikely to be true.

Journal summary below:


Understanding the level and characteristics of protection from past SARS-CoV-2 infection against subsequent re-infection, symptomatic COVID-19 disease, and severe disease is essential for predicting future potential disease burden, for designing policies that restrict travel or access to venues where there is a high risk of transmission, and for informing choices about when to receive vaccine doses. We aimed to systematically synthesise studies to estimate protection from past infection by variant, and where data allow, by time since infection.

In this systematic review and meta-analysis, we identified, reviewed, and extracted from the scientific literature retrospective and prospective cohort studies and test-negative case-control studies published from inception up to Sept 31, 2022, that estimated the reduction in risk of COVID-19 among individuals with a past SARS-CoV-2 infection in comparison to those without a previous infection. We meta-analysed the effectiveness of past infection by outcome (infection, symptomatic disease, and severe disease), variant, and time since infection. We ran a Bayesian meta-regression to estimate the pooled estimates of protection. Risk-of-bias assessment was evaluated using the National Institutes of Health quality-assessment tools. The systematic review was PRISMA compliant and was registered with PROSPERO (number CRD42022303850).

We identified a total of 65 studies from 19 different countries. Our meta-analyses showed that protection from past infection and any symptomatic disease was high for ancestral, alpha, beta, and delta variants, but was substantially lower for the omicron BA.1 variant. Pooled effectiveness against re-infection by the omicron BA.1 variant was 45·3% (95% uncertainty interval [UI] 17·3–76·1) and 44·0% (26·5–65·0) against omicron BA.1 symptomatic disease. Mean pooled effectiveness was greater than 78% against severe disease (hospitalisation and death) for all variants, including omicron BA.1. Protection from re-infection from ancestral, alpha, and delta variants declined over time but remained at 78·6% (49·8–93·6) at 40 weeks. Protection against re-infection by the omicron BA.1 variant declined more rapidly and was estimated at 36·1% (24·4–51·3) at 40 weeks. On the other hand, protection against severe disease remained high for all variants, with 90·2% (69·7–97·5) for ancestral, alpha, and delta variants, and 88·9% (84·7–90·9) for omicron BA.1 at 40 weeks.

Protection from past infection against re-infection from pre-omicron variants was very high and remained high even after 40 weeks. Protection was substantially lower for the omicron BA.1 variant and declined more rapidly over time than protection against previous variants. Protection from severe disease was high for all variants. The immunity conferred by past infection should be weighed alongside protection from vaccination when assessing future disease burden from COVID-19, providing guidance on when individuals should be vaccinated, and designing policies that mandate vaccination for workers or restrict access, on the basis of immune status, to settings where the risk of transmission is high, such as travel and high-occupancy indoor settings.


The birth dearth

This is probably a transitional stage. Non-maternal women are self-excluding from the gene pool and the maternal remainder could have quite a high birthrate. So growth will eventually resume from a lower base

And there is a silver lining to it all. The group least likely to have children would have to be feminists. So the genes of these unhappy women will be much less likely to be passed on. To a degree feminists will breed themselves out of existence -- leaving the world a much happier place

China’s population has begun to decline, a demographic turning point for the country that has global implications. Experts had long anticipated this moment, but it arrived in 2022, several years earlier than expected, prompting hand-wringing among economists over the long-term impacts, given the country’s immense economic heft and its role as the world’s manufacturer.

With 850,000 fewer births than deaths last year, at least according to the country’s official report, China joined an expanding set of nations with shrinking populations caused by years of falling fertility and often little or even negative net migration, a group that includes Italy, Greece and Russia, along with swaths of Eastern and Southern Europe and several Asian nations like South Korea and Japan.

Even places that have not begun to lose population, such as Australia, France and Britain, have been grappling with demographic decline for years as life expectancy increases and women have fewer children.

History suggests that once a country crosses the threshold of negative population growth, there is little that its government can do to reverse it. And as a country’s population grows more top-heavy, a smaller, younger generation bears the increasing costs of caring for a larger, older one.

Even though China’s birthrate has fallen substantially over the last five decades, it was long a country with a relatively young population, which meant it could withstand those low rates for a long time before starting to see population losses. Like many developed countries, China’s older population is now swelling — a consequence of its earlier boom — leaving it in a position similar to that of many wealthy nations: in need of more young people.

Countries such as the U.S. and Germany have been able to rely on robust immigration, even with relatively low birthrates. But for countries with negative net migration, such as China, more people requires more babies.

“The good news is that the Chinese government is fully aware of the problem,” said Yong Cai, a sociologist at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, who specializes in Chinese demographics. “The bad news is, empirically speaking, that there is very little they can do about it.”

That’s because the playbook for boosting national birthrates is a rather thin one. Most initiatives that encourage families to have more children are expensive, and the results are often limited. Options include cash incentives for having babies, generous parental leave policies and free or subsidized child care.

Two decades ago, Australia tried a “baby bonus” program that paid the equivalent of nearly $6,000 per child at its peak. At the time the campaign started in 2004, the country’s fertility rate was around 1.8 children per woman. (For most developed nations, a fertility rate of 2.1 is the minimum needed for the population to remain steady without immigration.) By 2008, the rate had risen to a high of around 2, but by 2020, six years after the program had ended, it was at 1.6 — lower than when the cash payments were first introduced.

By one estimate, the initiative led to an additional 24,000 births.

Dr. Liz Allen, a demographer at the Australian National University, said that the program was largely ineffective and that publicly funded paternity leave and child care would have been a more effective use of taxpayer money. “Government intervention to increase fertility rates is best focused on addressing the issues that prevent people from having their desired family size,” she said.

Experts say the most effective initiatives address social welfare, employment policy and other underlying economic issues. France, Germany and Nordic countries like Sweden and Denmark have had notable success in arresting the decline in birthrates, often through government-funded child care or generous parental leave policies.

But even the success of those efforts has had limits, with no country able to reach a sustained return to the 2.1 replacement rate. (The U.S. rate fell below 2.1 in the 1970s, slowly rose back up to the replacement rate by 2007, then collapsed again after the Great Recession to a current level just below 1.7.)

“You’re not going to reverse the trend, but if you throw in the kitchen sink and make childbearing more attractive, you may be able to prevent the population from falling off a cliff,” said John Bongaarts, a demographer at the Population Council, a research institution in New York.

Sweden is often cited as a model for increasing fertility rates, thanks to a government-boosted jump in its birthrate. After introducing nine months of parental leave in the 1970s and implementing a “speed premium” in 1980 (which incentivized mothers to have multiple children within a set period), Sweden saw fertility rise from around 1.6 early in the decade to a peak just above the replacement rate by 1990. (The country has since increased its parental leave to 16 months, among the highest in the world.)

After that uptick, however, Sweden’s birthrate fell through the ’90s. Over the last 50 years, its fertility rate has fluctuated significantly, rising roughly in tandem with economic booms. And while the country still has one of the highest fertility rates among the most advanced economies, over the past decade it has followed a trajectory similar to that of most developed nations: down.

Recent research suggests a reason Sweden’s fertility spikes were only temporary: Families rushed to have children they were already planning to have. Stuart Gietel-Basten, a demographer at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, said financial incentives seldom increase the overall number of children born but instead encourage families to take advantage of benefits that may not last. The spikes, he added, can have unforeseen consequences. “When you have 50,000 children born one year, 100,000 the next, and then 50,000 the year after that, it is really bad for planning and education,” he said.

Few countries have embraced pronatalist policies as vigorously as Hungary, whose right-wing populist leader, Viktor Orban, is dedicating 5% of the nation’s gross domestic product toward increasing birthrates. The government encourages procreation through generous loans that become gifts upon the birth of multiple children, tax forgiveness for mothers who have three children, and free fertility treatments.

Around the time these efforts began under Orban in 2010, Hungary’s fertility rate was just over 1.2, among the lowest in Europe. Over the 2010s, that rate climbed to around 1.6 — a modest improvement at a high cost.

It remains to be seen how far China will go to stem its decline in population, which was set in motion when the country’s fertility rate began to plummet decades ago. That drop began even before the country’s family-planning policies limiting most families to a single child, introduced in 1979. Those who defied the rules were punished with fines and even forced abortions.

The official end of Beijing’s one-child policy in 2016, however, has not led to a rise in births, despite cash incentives and tax cuts for parents. The country’s fertility rate rose slightly around that time but has fallen since, according to data from the United Nations: from around 1.7 children per woman, on par with Australia and Britain, to around 1.2, among the lowest in the world. That recent drop could be a result of unreliable data from China or a technical effect of delays in childbearing, but it likely also reflects a combination of various pressures that have mounted in the country over time.

Even though they are now allowed to, many young Chinese are not interested in having large families. Vastly more young Chinese people are enrolling in higher education, marrying later and having children later. Raised in single-child households, some have come to see small families as normal. But the bigger impediment to having a second or third child is financial, according to Lauren A. Johnston, an economist at the University of Sydney who studies Chinese demographics. She said many parents cite the high cost of housing and education as the main obstacle to having more children. “People can’t afford to buy space for themselves, let alone for two kids,” she said.

China’s government could ease the burden on young families through housing subsidies, extended parental leave and increased funding for education and pensions, experts say. Other policy changes, like reforming the country’s restrictive household registration system and raising the official retirement age — female blue-collar workers must retire at 50, for example — could boost the nation’s working-age population, alleviating some of the economic strain that comes with population decline.

Although the Chinese are unlikely to find more success than the Swedes in recovering a high fertility rate, “there is low-hanging fruit that can allow them to squeeze more productivity and higher labor force participation from the population,” said Gerard DiPippo, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

All this points to a Chinese population, currently 1.4 billion, that is likely to continue shrinking. In contrast to economists who have cast China’s population decline as a grim sign for global growth, many demographers have been more sanguine, noting the benefits of a smaller population.

John Wilmoth, director of the Population Division at the United Nations, said that after decades of exponential growth in which the world’s population doubled to more than 7 billion between 1970 to 2014, the doom-and-gloom assessments about declining fertility rates and depopulation tend to be overstated. Japan has been battling population decline since the 1970s, he noted, but it remains one of the world’s largest economies. “It has not been the disaster that people imagined,” Wilmoth said. “Japan is not in a death spiral.”

Worldwide, fertility remains above the replacement rate, which means that allowing more immigration will continue to be an option for many developed nations, even those that historically haven’t relied on it: Before the pandemic, net migration into Japan, while relatively low, had been increasing steadily.

Without immigration, pragmatic and noncoercive measures that encourage parents to have families while pursuing careers — as well as policies that allow people in their 60s and 70s to keep working — are the key to managing negative population growth, Wilmoth said. “Population stabilization is overall a good thing,” he said. “All societies need to adapt to having older populations. What really matters is the speed of change and how fast we get from here to there.”


No, ‘More Sex’ Will Not Cure Loneliness

The critical commentary below on a call for more sex is orthodox and mostly right. There can however be a middle way. At times in my life, I have had a number of "girlfriends" who all knew that they were not the only one in my life but with whom I had good sexual relationships lasting for more than a year. I obviously enjoyed my times with the ladies concerned and eventually parted from them on amicable terms.

The key to the good outcome is that I never lie to women so I deceived none of them at any time. In my experience, women will tolerate a lot as long as you are honest with them. It is lies that engender bitterness. So "more sex" can be good if it is with the informed consent of all parties. In my case there was genuine appreciation of one another and of our times together so that is an important precondition too

The New York Times often promotes socially destructive policies and reckless personal behaviors in opinion columns. The latest example sees self-identified “sex and culture” writer Magdalene J. Taylor promoting promiscuity as a socially desirable cure for loneliness that will benefit society by forging greater levels of “social solidarity.”

In, “Have More Sex, Please!” Taylor laments that Americans aren’t copulating enough. She writes, “Sex is good. Sex is healthy. Sex is an essential part of our social fabric. And you—specifically—should probably be having more of it.”

Taylor offers no preferred social context in which to increase your rate of coitus. She doesn’t recommend more spice as a means of improving romance in marriage. Nor is her focus on intimacy as bonding relationships. Indeed, she makes no mention of the importance of commitment to healthy sexual relations. She simply asserts, “Those of us in a position to be having more sex ought to be doing so. Here is the rare opportunity to do something for the betterment of the world around you that involves nothing more than indulging in one of humanity’s most essential pleasures.”

Talk about diminishing the importance, power, and meaning of sex! Taylor misses the potency of loving the person with whom one shares a bed. She makes scant mention of the importance of sex as a form of self-giving, devotion, family formation, and having children. And she ignores the crucial role of fidelity and trust in intimate partnering.

No, getting it on as often as possible is a “political statement” that will lead—she doesn’t say how—to “the betterment of the world.” Thus, she writes, “Any capable people should have sex—as much as they can, as pleasurably as they can, as often as they can.” She doesn’t even distinguish between what is proper conduct for adults versus that of teenagers.

What claptrap. Promiscuity—because that is what Taylor advocates without using the word—is reckless. Having indiscriminate sex is often harmful—both to those who indulge in the vice and to greater society. But the only warning Taylor offers about the emotional risks of casual intimacy is the potential for “regret,” and that “sex can bring people together, but that only works if it’s good sex.”

The issue is far more portentous than that. Let’s start with the pregnancy factor. Even if one uses birth control, promiscuity increases the chance of an unintended pregnancy. That, in turn, can lead not only to increased abortion—which, to say the least, is morally consequential and potentially causing its own mental health problems—but also to parenthood outside of a bonded familial relationship.

This is a real and growing problem. In 1980, a little over 18 percent of babies were born to unmarried mothers in the United States. In 2020, that figure had exploded to a socially devastating 40.5 percent of all births. That surge didn’t arise in a vacuum but in the context of an increasingly hypersexualized culture. To be sure, children can thrive in this circumstance and single parents are often splendid mothers and fathers. But let’s be candid. Out-of-wedlock births generally lead to greater incidences of poverty and increased potential for family dysfunction.

And let’s talk sexually transmitted disease. Having “as much sex as you can as often as you can” outside of a mutually monogamous relationship increases the chance of contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as syphilis, gonorrhea, HIV, chlamydia, and herpes. Having more sex partners can also increase the chance of developing prostate, oral, and cervical cancers. It can even lead to heart disease.

Not enough sex? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that the United States is experiencing an “STD epidemic.” Despite the COVID lockdowns, in 2020 diagnosed gonorrhea increased by 10 percent over 2019 levels and syphilis went up by 7 percent. In 2020 there were about 2.4 million reported cases of STDs—and that’s probably undercounted because many people didn’t go to doctors during the pandemic or didn’t take lab tests. Not only that, but syphilis among newborns increased 235 percent between 2016 and 2020. Especially worrying: A strain of “super gonorrhea” is spreading that’s resistant to most antibiotics.

Promiscuity can also be a significant contributor to depression, anxiety, increased substance abuse, and other mental health disorders. While certainly not everyone who engages in casual sex has adverse mental health consequences, many do. Indeed, particularly among adolescents, having as much sex as you want as often as you can is a potential driver of suicidal ideation.

Look, I know most Americans have a more relaxed attitude toward intimacy than was once the case. We are a secularizing culture in which traditional religious moral precepts about the proper time and place for intercourse exert little sway. Indeed, according to a 2022 Gallup Poll, 76 percent of respondents believe that sex outside of marriage is morally acceptable and 70 percent think having a baby outside of marriage is just fine. Still, only 9 percent think adultery is acceptable—which would seem to be at least part of Taylor’s call for New York Times readers to indulge in all of the sex they can obtain.

But having a more relaxed view of sex isn’t the same thing as endorsing Taylor’s irresponsible call for cavorting whenever and with whomever one can take to bed. Indeed, considering the significant problem of unintended pregnancies, the raging STD epidemic, and the worsening mental health crisis this country faces, what we really need isn’t increased licentiousness but greater probity in the conduct of our intimate lives.


A real gentleman and a foolish woman

The MAFS report below reveals what a great gentleman "Josh" was: A man of exceptionally good character. And the woman had him. She was "married" to him but dumped him. She dissed him because he was not enough of a sexpot.

But how shallow can you get? Sex can be great in the early stages of a relationship but it usually becomes rather mundane after a while. A good sex life in the beginning is not enough to enable a good relationship in the long haul. Finding a partner who is kind and forgiving is the real treasure in a lasting relationship.

I have had a really good sex life with a number of women over the years but the relationships concerned did not last. And I do have good and pleasing relationships with women with whom I am not sexually active.

"Josh" is to me the "pearl without price" for almost any woman. That Melissa dumped him over a few uninspiring sexual encounters is doubly dumb. She lost a good man and probably also lost the good sex life she was seeking. Good sex does not always come immediately. It can be greatly improved by both parties working on it. Her impatience made her a loser in every respect

Men tend to have an impression of hairdressers as air-headed. Melissa cetainly reinforced that image

It all tends to call to mind a raucous old song popular in the 1950s:

"You can throw a silver dollar down upon the ground,
And it will roll, because it's round.
A woman never knows what a good man she's got,
Until she turns him down"

Married At First Sight's Josh White has broken his silence after his ex-'wife' Melissa Sheppard was slammed for her appalling behaviour towards him.

Taking to Instagram on Monday, the advertising client director, 40, pleaded with viewers to be 'kind' to Melissa - even after she made shocking and insensitive remarks about the couple's sex life at Sunday's commitment ceremony.

'Hi, everyone. The events of Married at First Sight happened a few months ago and Mel and I have had a chance to heal from our experiences,' he said in a video.

'What you saw in the experiment is no different to real life where two strangers come together from different backgrounds to try to learn more about each other, and themselves in the process.

'I think that we had some really beautiful moments, but we also had some moments of reflection, and I think that both of those will be pretty long-lasting.

'I've always maintained the pressure of the experiment affects people in different ways. But let me be very clear about one thing: what happened in the experiment happened between Mel and I.'

Josh explained that targeting Melissa doesn't make him feel any better about what happened on the show. 'Please do not attack Mel. It doesn't make me happy. It doesn't give me any satisfaction. It doesn't raise me up at all,' he said.

'We are real people. We have real feelings. And we all came into the experiment looking for something.'

Josh added in the video's caption: 'I ask you as an audience to please be respectful and kind to Melissa.

'There isn't a need to attack her at all. I understand people will want to but that doesn't make me feel any better and it just perpetuates a cycle that we should all reflect on.'

He also told fans he'd been 'doing well' since leaving the experiment.

Earlier on Monday, Melissa doubled down on her criticism of Josh during an interview on The Kyle and Jackie O Show, accusing him of being a 'different person' in one-on-one interviews with producers and revealing unflattering details about their sex life.

Listeners were left stunned as Melissa - who is in damage control after being portrayed on the show as callous and sex-obsessed - alleged Josh was 'not the same person in front of the cameras' as he was behind closed doors.

She also told radio hosts Kyle Sandilands and Jackie 'O' Henderson the pair never actually kissed - despite having 'sloppy' sex several times in the experiment - and also claimed they didn't engage in oral sex.

'It was really sloppy and messy… I wouldn't say that was hot and heavy and intimate. It wasn't how I imagined to have an amazing sex life with someone,' she said.

'There was no kissing. It was very transactional. It was just physical - that was quite awful.'

The single mum also said her portrayal as an overly demanding lover was unfair and all she wanted was sex 'two to three times' per week.

Melissa explained that while things started off great with Josh on their honeymoon, their relationship went downhill once they moved in together.

'Josh is a very different person in front of me and he would go to [film] these vox-pops. I felt like I was sleeping with a secret assassin,' added the hairdresser.

Brisbane 2032: Heritage-listed East Brisbane State School to be closed to make way for Gabba revamp

It is always a challenge to get rationlity out of a government but these plans are borderline insane. Woolloongabba is already heavily congested with traffic and so should be the last place for new development. And demolishing a perfectly good large stadium makes no sense. It would be a much better use of funds to build a new stadium from scratch in a more outlying area. And the gain in number of seats is marginal. The existing stadium already has 42,000 seats

A brand new 50,000-seat Gabba stadium will include an active travel corridor linking to South Bank and the city, with the state government confirming the entire stadium will be demolished and rebuilt.

As part of the $2.7bn project, a walkable connection will be created to link the CBD with the new Brisbane City Council green bridge.

East Brisbane State School will close from December 2025, with the heritage buildings refurbished and integrated into the operations of the Gabba, with a new school to be built two kilometres away.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said hosting the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games was a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to accelerate the infrastructure and housing we need to support a growing Queensland”.

“The Gabba has hosted sport for more than a century and is home to cricket and AFL most weeks of the year,” she said. “But it’s no secret that Queensland is losing out on major sporting events already – and the tourism, jobs and investment that come with them because The Gabba is not up to scratch.

“It must be upgraded to maintain our competitiveness for international sport and events. “When it’s done, this stadium will shine for Queensland, and so will the area surrounding it.

“Woolloongabba has the potential to be the next bustling precinct, but that can’t happen without a co-ordinated approach.

“It’s important we further capitalise on major transport projects already under way like Cross River Rail and Brisbane Metro.”

Ms Palaszczuk said a new school would be built within 2km of the existing campus.

“Minister Grace Grace (Education Minister) is speaking with the East Brisbane State School principal at the moment. Years 4, 5 and 6 will complete their year levels and the school will relocate in 2026,” she said. “We are going to build them a brand new school.”


How to help Aborigine communities

Anthony Dillon is an academic with some Aboriginal ancestry. He makes reasonable suggestions below but offers no pathway to achieving most of them. Specificity about what should be done is needed.

I believe token reinforcement studies point to one strategy that is highly likely to work: Pay for results. One specific application of that would start from the fact that school attendance is usually very poor among children in Aboriginal settlements. But education is essential for one to get anywhere in the modern world. So PAY childfren to turn up to class. A small amount could be paid at the end of each schoolday. If need be, the benefits paid to Aboriginal adults could be reduced to pay for it

The extreme problems facing too many Aboriginal Australians were recently highlighted in the news cycle again. This time the focus was on Alice Springs. While news stories raised public awareness of the violence and neglect of children, so much so that it attracted the attention of the PM, it is important to recognise that similar dysfunction happens in many other towns and communities. Nor are such stories new, as Chris Kenny has stated: ‘This blight of violent crimes, substance addiction, abused women and children and wasted lives is nothing new.’ Responsible media outlets, like The Spectator Australia, Quadrant, and the Australian have been reporting on these problems for many years. We hear the same stories and the same tragedies, just different locations.

Among those who care about Aboriginal people, of whom there are many, there is a growing frustration because so many Aboriginal lives do not seem to be improving. While we see successes with more and more Aboriginal Australians completing university, occupying leadership roles and starting businesses, far too many still suffer needlessly, particularly in less urbanised settings. This is despite considerable government spending, dedicated departments in both the public and private sector and a huge amount of goodwill from the Australian public.

We know the problems; however, there is less certainty about the underlying causes, and hence, less certainty about effective solutions. Clearly, a new approach is needed.

Albert Einstein has been credited with saying that, ‘No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.’ He was simply saying that the problems we face require a deeper level of thinking. A deeper level of thinking about the seemingly intractable problems facing Aboriginal Australians and the contributors to these problems is needed, if we are to develop effective solutions.

Recently, action was taken in Alice Springs to restrict the amount of alcohol available to residents. This response has some merit, but must be part of a broader solution. By itself, an alcohol restriction is like a band-aid on a broken limb. A deeper level of thinking is needed for an effective solution. Alcohol management is one part of the solution, but not the complete solution. Alcohol misuse, is not only a cause of the problems we read about, but is also a symptom of deeper, underlying problems. Allow me to briefly discuss elements of what an effective solution would look like.

First, those leaders responsible for implementing solutions, must examine their ideologies and lay their egos aside. This is perhaps the biggest challenge. Doing this allows difficult conversations to openly occur. Alice Springs Mayor Matt Paterson was reported as saying, ‘We are all too scared to have the difficult conversations.’ Without difficult conversations, we will continue to see band-aids applied to broken limbs.

We must be free to openly discuss the problems facing Aboriginal people without the wild accusations of racism. Highlighting problems that disproportionately affect one racial group over another is not racism; it is simply truth-telling (cue for the proponents of the Voice in their quest for truth-telling).

Second, while alcoholic restrictions are sometimes a necessary circuit breaker, they are generally ineffective at promoting intrinsic motivation and agency within a person struggling with alcohol. A more effective solution that results in long-term benefits is one that motivates a person to want to stop drinking or to at least drink responsibly, because they want to live a healthy life. Incidentally, when an individual wants to take control of their life, this is true self-determination.

Sadly, the politics of Aboriginal affairs have cast self-determination as Aboriginal people seeking help only from other Aboriginal people. This is actually separatism, and has only ever failed. And will always fail.

Third, people are more likely to want to live a healthy life when they can see purpose in their lives. One way of achieving purpose is by helping and caring for others; this promotes connection with others. A multitude of ways can facilitate this, such as by having a paid job, volunteer work, helping a neighbour or engaging in community service. Paid employment, of course, has economic benefits. This is why Warren Mundine, when talking specifically about the recent crisis in Alice Springs, stated, ‘Any policy which does not increase economic participation and independence is a waste of time and money.’

Fourth, working adults are great role models for children. Children seeing working adults will learn that regular school attendance is a requirement for one day getting their dream job; it fosters hope. On this matter, Helen Morton has stated in the Australian that, ‘Unemployment is associated with poorer physical and mental health. The bright eyes of children’s early hopes and dreams quickly fade without opportunities.’ Further, working adults are more likely to ensure their children go to school and that home life is conducive to study.

Finally, dangerous ideologies, such as the idea that racism is the big culprit holding Aboriginal people back, or the belief that addressing the problems facing Aboriginal people requires a cultural solution that can only be delivered by other Aboriginal people, are huge barriers to empowering Aborigines. Other dangerous ideologies such as claiming Australia Day or an anthem are causes of pain to Aborigines must also be thrown in the bin.

These points are only some of the elements necessary for an effective solution, but they are all too often neglected. A total solution must also include access to jobs, access to good schools with dedicated staff, provision of affordable fresh food and modern services, and abandoning aspects of traditional Aboriginal culture that are no longer applicable in modern-day Australia.

I believe if we adopt the ideas in this article, next year on 26 January, instead of seeing stories about Australia Day protests, we’ll see positive stories about transformed Aboriginal communities where the people are living their potential, and making us a better Australia.

Whether you’re on the front line or the sideline, we all have a part to play. Let’s step up and let our voices be heard.


Canadian farmer forced to Dump 30,000 Liters of Milk—as Dairy Prices Surge

Milk at $7 a litre! It's $2 a litre in Australia. In Canada's punishing climate, dairy farming is difficult and costly so the price has to be kept up to give Canadian farmers a return commensurate with their costs. Canada must produce its own milk, apparently

The alternative, getting most of their milk from those two big countries to their South, is apparently not on. That would be free trade, which is un-Canadian. You could probably even ship milk up from Australia's contented cows for less than $7 a litre

In a video shared on TikTok by Travis Huigen, Ontario dairy farmer Jerry Huigen says he’s heartbroken to dump 30,000 liters of milk amid surging dairy prices.

“Right now we are over our quotum, um, it’s regulated by the government and by the DFO (Dairy Farmers of Ontario),” says Huigen, as he stands beside a machine spewing fresh milk into a drain. “Look at this milk running away. Cause it’s the end of the month. I dump thirty thousand liters of milk, and it breaks my heart.”

Huigen says people ask him why milk prices are so high.

“This here Canadian milk is seven dollars a liter. When I go for my haircut people say, ‘Wow, seven dollars Jerry, for a little bit of milk,” he says, as he fills a glass of the milk being dumped and drinks. “I say well, you have to go higher up. Cause we have no say anymore, as a dairy farmer on our own farm. They make us dump it.”

The (Old) Folly of Destroying Food

Before you chalk the milk dumping up to those crazy Canadians, it should be pointed out that milk dumping is also quite common in the United States (though for different reasons).

During the early stages of the pandemic, FEE wrote about farmers dumping millions of gallons of milk even as prices for dairy products were increasing. Nor was this some kind of pandemic quirk. It’s been going on for years.

“More than 43 million gallons’ worth of milk were dumped in fields, manure lagoons or animal feed, or have been lost on truck routes or discarded at plants in the first eight months of [the year], according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture,” the Wall Street Journal reported in 2016.

The reasons are different in Canada than the United States, but they both stem from the highly-regulated nature of the marketplace.

In the United States, the primary regulations are high-level price-fixing, bans on selling unpasteurized milk (which means farmers have to dump their product if dairy processors don’t buy it), and “price gouging” laws that prevent retailers from increasing prices when demand is low, which incentivizes hoarding.

In Canada, the regulations are even worse.

While the price-fixing scheme for milk in the US is incredibly complicated and leaves much to be desired—there’s an old industry adage that says “only five people in the world know how milk is priced in the US and four of them are dead”—in Canada the price is determined by a single bureaucracy: the Canadian Dairy Commission.

The Ottawa-based commission (technically a “Government of Canada Crown Corporation”), which oversees Canada’s entire dairy system (known as Supply Management), raised prices three times in 2022, citing “the rising cost of production.”

Food price inflation remains a serious issue in Canada, but the problem is particularly acute in regards to dairy products, which has seen their annual inflation rate triple over the past year, to almost 12 percent.

One needn’t have a PhD in economics to see why prices in Canada are surging. Ordering farmers to destroy tens of thousands of liters of perfectly good milk is hardly a solution to rising prices. The same goes for production quotas.

Canada’s milk dumping spectacle calls to mind FDR’s New Deal debacles, including the “1933 Emergency Hog Slaughter,” which saw American farmers ordered to destroy their own pigs in an attempt to raise the price of hogs.

Under the Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA), the federal government levied new taxes on the agricultural sector and used the funds to oversee the wholesale destruction of cattle and crops.

“Federal agents oversaw the ugly spectacle of perfectly good fields of cotton, wheat, and corn being plowed under. Healthy cattle, sheep, and pigs by the millions were slaughtered and buried in mass graves,” explained FEE President Emeritus Lawrence Reed.

This destruction took place, mind you, during the worst food crisis in American history.

‘This Time I’m Going Public’

This might seem like economic madness—and it is. So why does it persist?

One reason is old-fashioned protectionism. High tariffs protect producers from competition, and the quotas that cap production also are designed to keep out new dairy producers. This keeps prices high, which is supposed to make farmers happy; it also pleases the government, which makes revenue from the tariffs.

It’s lousy for consumers, of course, and as Huigen’s milk dumping episode shows, even the farmers who benefit by the protection have grown angry with quotas that prevent them from producing more milk (which would have the dual benefit of earning farmers more profit and lowering milk prices for consumers).

Another reason is that very few people—Canadians or Americans— realize the milk dumping is happening and the production quotas exist. It’s a very opaque process, but Jerry Huigen is trying to change that.

“This time I’m going public,” Huigen says in his video. “I want the people to see the pain that us growers have…our little bit of profit goes down the drain.”

Hopefully people take notice and begin to realize that functioning markets are the real solution to rising prices, not government production quotas and price-fixing.

That would ease not just Jerry Huigen’s pain, but the pain of consumers as well.


Sunshine Coast coral reefs thriving as COVID dive project uncovers 'enormous amount of coral'

This gives the lie to Warmist claims that Northern GBR coral is threatened by runoff from the land on Cape York Peninsula. There is very little development on most of the peninsula. Yet we read below that a very heavily developed part of the Southern Queensland coast supports thriving corals. So which is it? Does development along the coastline damage coral or not? It's actually arguable that development BENEFITS coral growth

Researchers have uncovered an abundance of healthy, thriving coral along a heavily developed coastline — far beyond what the team expected when they first pitched the project.

University of Queensland researchers and dive club volunteers wanted a project to focus on as COVID restrictions took hold and limited their ability to work and travel.

A pitch was made to re-examine 11 reefs off Queensland's Sunshine Coast, particularly around Mudjimba Island and the popular tourist destination of Mooloolaba.

Associate Professor Chris Roelfsema brought together researchers and 50 volunteers from the UQ dive club to help.

Dr Roelfsema said what they found was incredible.

"We looked at so many different sites — every time we put our heads underwater, the volunteers went down and they did surveys," he said. "And they saw coral, and every time it was a significant amount of coral, and we didn't expect it.

"We noticed that there was an enormous amount of coral there that we didn't realise was there — and not in a couple of spots but in the 11 spots we visited.

"And that's a big deal that there's so much coral so close to a major urban area."

The project involved 8,000 hours of training, collecting, and analysing data obtained from the underwater landscapes.

Beyond simply the amount of coral revealed by the two-year survey, the team also found little sign of crown-of-thorns starfish — which prey on coral — and almost no hint of coral bleaching.


Is the myth of left-wing authoritarianism itself a myth?

I am glad I have lived to see this. Psychologists have long been unable to find Leftist authoritarianism anywhere despite the huge example of the late unlamented Soviet regime.

I spent my 20 year research career from 1970 to 1990 pointing out the absurdity of saying that conservatives are the only authoritarians. But I was essentially ignored.

So I am glad that the the group of psychology researchers below have taken up the cudgels. Reality may dawn in the minds of most psychologists yet

Lucian Gideon Conway III et al.


Is left-wing authoritarianism (LWA) closer to a myth or a reality? Twelve studies test the empirical existence and theoretical relevance of LWA. Study 1 reveals that both conservative and liberal Americans identify a large number of left-wing authoritarians in their lives. In Study 2, participants explicitly rate items from a recently-developed LWA measure as valid measurements of authoritarianism. Studies 3–11 show that persons who score high on this same LWA scale possess the traits associated with models of authoritarianism: LWA is positively related to threat sensitivity across multiple areas, including general ecological threats (Study 3), COVID disease threat (Study 4), Belief in a Dangerous World (Study 5), and Trump threat (Study 6). Further, high-LWA persons show more support for restrictive political correctness norms (Study 7), rate African-Americans and Jews more negatively (Studies 8–9), and show more cognitive rigidity (Studies 10 and 11). These effects hold when controlling for political ideology and when looking only within liberals, and further are similar in magnitude to comparable effects for right-wing authoritarianism. Study 12 uses the World Values Survey to provide cross-cultural evidence of Left-Wing Authoritarianism around the globe. Taken in total, this large array of triangulating evidence from 12 studies comprised of over 8,000 participants from the U.S. and over 66,000 participants world-wide strongly suggests that left-wing authoritarianism is much closer to a reality than a myth.


Medicaid enrollment has skyrocketed 20.2 million to 91 million since Feb. 2020

Trump lowered the unemployment figures by making more jobs available. Biden lowered unemployment figures by helping millions to stop working, to exit the labor force. Many fewer people are now looking for jobs. It makes the figures look good but it is in fact a disaster. There are now many fewer goods and services available

By Robert Romano

Thanks to 2020 changes to federal law and regulations during the Covid pandemic not to disenroll Medicaid patients who no longer qualified for the program during the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) public health emergency which began in March 2020, Medicaid enrollment has skyrocketed by 20.2 million to more than 91 million since Feb. 2020, according to the latest data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) compiled by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

That was more than the entire period of expanded enrollment from 2010 through all of 2019, when the number went from 56 million before the Affordable Care Act was passed, to 71 million in 2019. It had reached 75 million in 2016, but continued decreases of the unemployment rate during the Trump years drove down eligibility.

And then in 2020, suddenly 25 million jobs were lost, unemployment claims soared, and suddenly, millions of Americans who had income suddenly qualified for Medicaid. Without any change to the law, that would have been true, but to nail it down, Congress enacted a law, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, that prohibited states from disenrolling Medicaid patients when they no longer qualify on the basis of income, so-called “continuous enrollment”.

Naturally, in the middle of a national emergency, it passed with veto-proof majorities in Congress without much debate, and certainly with little to no discussion about how this would expand. I doubt very many members read through or understood the implications of the provisions.

Every year, under traditional Medicaid, patients are supposed to be reevaluated on the basis of income to see if they still qualify, requiring financial documentation to keep receiving the benefit. But under Covid that stopped happening.

By the end of 2020, more than 16 million of the 25 million Americans who had lost their jobs and returned to work, but between Feb. 2020 and Sept. 2020, 10 million were on continued unemployment claims and yet Medicaid rolls had swollen by 10 million that year, a process that would continue through 2021 and 2022 via churning in the U.S. labor force when Americans would temporarily lose their jobs and get Covid or get Covid and lose their jobs, go to the hospital and, lacking insurance, be automatically enrolled in Medicaid.

As a result, thanks to continuous enrollment, these recipients—and their families—were never removed from the Medicaid rolls even after they got their jobs back, driving the number up 20.2 million to 91 million today. More people got added to Medicaid under Covid than after a full decade under the Affordable Care Act.

One of the mechanisms for the expansion was automatic enrollment into Medicaid by hospitals for patients who lacked health insurance. As millions of patients were contracting Covid, many of them would go to hospitals for care and, lacking insurance, were pushed into Medicaid. In 2020 alone, there were 20 million cases, according to data compiled by the Institutes for Health Metrics and Evaluation. Not everyone went to the hospital for care, but those that did and, importantly, were temporarily out of work were enrolled in Medicaid.

The largest increases came from California (2.3 million), Texas (1.5 million), New York (1.3 million) and Florida (1.2 million).

Now, Congress has lifted the prohibition for states to begin disenrollments again in the year-end omnibus spending bill that just passed, beginning March 31.

Here’s the strange part. For the past three years, I cannot find a single statement by House or Senate Republicans specifically about the continuous enrollment provision. There was a House Republican Oversight Committee letter about potential improper payments to Medicaid during Covid in Aug. 2021, but with no mention of the program’s expansion. By then, the program had already expanded by 13 million.

There were a few opeds in the Wall Street Journal about the expansion of the program but not until in mid-to-late 2022, and only a few hard news pieces by the paper in late 2022 when Congress was said to be ending the provision. Fox News had no national reports on the topic but I could identify a single oped mid-2020 that warned about “continuous coverage” and the costs involved. There are likely more not turning up in search results, but you get the point.

What’s strange about this is Republicans have been railing against socialized medicine for more than 50 years and fought Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, and this was one of the largest expansions of government-run health care in the country’s history. Seems like it might have been an important issue to talk about in 2022, especially as it related to the Covid emergency.

Did they even know about it? If they didn’t, it will be because Republicans lack representation in these institutions, and so nobody would have been there to raise the alarm. Or worse, did they know about it, and not say anything for fear of upsetting a massive potential voting bloc? Questions should be asked by conservative news outlets, to the extent they are at all capable of introspection on their side of the aisle.

This is an institutional reporting failure but you had to know to look for it. I missed it, too, and only caught it when my wife who works at a managed care organization told me about the disenrollments beginning this year.

Leaving aside the apparent lack of bipartisan Congressional input or even public input and comment into this massive expansion of government-run health care, overall this appears to explain the crude impacts of the prolonged economic lockdowns by states, which kept people out of the labor force much longer than was expected or was necessary, keeping children and adults locked in their homes so Democrats could achieve universal health insurance.

But the outcomes could not have been good, either. For every perfectly healthy working age adult who was enrolled in Medicaid, the system had to keep track of them as well as those needy and with special conditions, the developmentally disabled, the elderly — who were left waiting in line for evaluations and assessments. Labor turnover in the health profession has been abysmal and, anecdotally, federal workers unions have complained of being overworked. Now we know why.

Even the disenrollment, which the Department of Health and Human Services says could impact 15 million Americans, will tax the system, as every patient will have be reevaluated on the basis of income. Instead of dealing with real patients, the system will be tracking people down, who in turn will have a perverse incentive to conceal income and finances.

The 11 million plus job openings after Covid? Now we know why. With Medicaid coverage, many Americans who were put into the program might have been unaware of the continuous coverage provisions and either opted not to go back to work or did so off the books to retain the benefit long term — a perverse incentive. The amount of fraud that will be prevalent in the disenrollment alone will be gargantuan, all the while those elderly or infirmed who actually need the system will be left with lackluster care.

Hospitals were overwhelmed by Covid intake and also a lack of private insurance to pay for the costs, and then in turn dumped more than 20 million people into socialized medicine, drowning the bureaucracy and the public health system that was never supposed to administer to the healthy. President Joe Biden used this situation to prolong the national and public health emergencies indefinitely. Why wasn’t Congress raising the alarm bells?


Australia: Southern coral reefs thriving as COVID dive project uncovers 'enormous amount of coral'

This gives the lie to Warmist claims that Northern GBR coral is threatened by runoff from the land on Cape York Peninsula. There is very little development on most of the peninsula. Yet we read below that a very heavily developed part of the Southern Queensland coast supports thriving corals. So which is it? Does development along the coastline damage coral or not? It's actually arguable that development BENEFITS coral growth

Researchers have uncovered an abundance of healthy, thriving coral along a heavily developed coastline — far beyond what the team expected when they first pitched the project.

University of Queensland researchers and dive club volunteers wanted a project to focus on as COVID restrictions took hold and limited their ability to work and travel.

A pitch was made to re-examine 11 reefs off Queensland's Sunshine Coast, particularly around Mudjimba Island and the popular tourist destination of Mooloolaba.

Associate Professor Chris Roelfsema brought together researchers and 50 volunteers from the UQ dive club to help.

Dr Roelfsema said what they found was incredible.

"We looked at so many different sites — every time we put our heads underwater, the volunteers went down and they did surveys," he said. "And they saw coral, and every time it was a significant amount of coral, and we didn't expect it.

"We noticed that there was an enormous amount of coral there that we didn't realise was there — and not in a couple of spots but in the 11 spots we visited.

"And that's a big deal that there's so much coral so close to a major urban area."

The project involved 8,000 hours of training, collecting, and analysing data obtained from the underwater landscapes.

Beyond simply the amount of coral revealed by the two-year survey, the team also found little sign of crown-of-thorns starfish — which prey on coral — and almost no hint of coral bleaching.


Adherence to Healthy Lifestyle Prior to Infection and Risk of Post–COVID-19 Condition

There is an old, old fallacy here. Sure: Healthy people survived Covid better but why was that? Was a healthy lifestyle the crucial factor? This article cannot tell us that. It could well be that people who adopted a heathier lifestyle were healthier to start with. And the converse -- that sickly people are unable to adopt many aspects of a healthy lifestyle (such as vigorous exercise) -- is undoubtedly true. So was it lifestyle that protected from Covid in the study below? Maybe, maybe not

It doesn't prove anything by itself but I have a very unhealthy lifestyle and Covid has not touched me at all -- and I am 79, in a high-risk group. So the report below will not influence anything I do

Siwen Wang et al.

Question Is a healthy lifestyle (healthy body mass index, never smoking, high-quality diet, moderate alcohol intake, regular exercise, and adequate sleep) prior to SARS-CoV-2 infection protective of post–COVID-19 condition (PCC)?

Findings In this prospective cohort study of 1981 women who reported a positive SARS-CoV-2 test from April 2020 to November 2021, adherence to a healthy lifestyle prior to infection was inversely associated with risk of PCC in a dose-dependent manner. Compared with those who did not have any healthy lifestyle factors, those with 5 or 6 had half the risk of PCC.

Meaning Preinfection healthy lifestyle was associated with a substantially decreased risk of PCC.


Importance Few modifiable risk factors for post–COVID-19 condition (PCC) have been identified.

Objective To investigate the association between healthy lifestyle factors prior to SARS-CoV-2 infection and risk of PCC.

Design, Setting, and Participants In this prospective cohort study, 32 249 women in the Nurses’ Health Study II cohort reported preinfection lifestyle habits in 2015 and 2017. Healthy lifestyle factors included healthy body mass index (BMI, 18.5-24.9; calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared), never smoking, at least 150 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous physical activity, moderate alcohol intake (5 to 15 g/d), high diet quality (upper 40% of Alternate Healthy Eating Index–2010 score), and adequate sleep (7 to 9 h/d).

Main Outcomes and Measures SARS-CoV-2 infection (confirmed by test) and PCC (at least 4 weeks of symptoms) were self-reported on 7 periodic surveys administered from April 2020 to November 2021. Among participants with SARS-CoV-2 infection, the relative risk (RR) of PCC in association with the number of healthy lifestyle factors (0 to 6) was estimated using Poisson regression and adjusting for demographic factors and comorbidities.

Results A total of 1981 women with a positive SARS-CoV-2 test over 19 months of follow-up were documented. Among those participants, mean age was 64.7 years (SD, 4.6; range, 55-75); 97.4% (n = 1929) were White; and 42.8% (n = 848) were active health care workers. Among these, 871 (44.0%) developed PCC. Healthy lifestyle was associated with lower risk of PCC in a dose-dependent manner. Compared with women without any healthy lifestyle factors, those with 5 to 6 had 49% lower risk (RR, 0.51; 95% CI, 0.33-0.78) of PCC. In a model mutually adjusted for all lifestyle factors, BMI and sleep were independently associated with risk of PCC (BMI, 18.5-24.9 vs others, RR, 0.85; 95% CI, 0.73-1.00, P = .046; sleep, 7-9 h/d vs others, RR, 0.83; 95% CI, 0.72-0.95, P = .008). If these associations were causal, 36.0% of PCC cases would have been prevented if all participants had 5 to 6 healthy lifestyle factors (population attributable risk percentage, 36.0%; 95% CI, 14.1%-52.7%). Results were comparable when PCC was defined as symptoms of at least 2-month duration or having ongoing symptoms at the time of PCC assessment.

Conclusions and Relevance In this prospective cohort study, pre-infection healthy lifestyle was associated with a substantially lower risk of PCC. Future research should investigate whether lifestyle interventions may reduce risk of developing PCC or mitigate symptoms among individuals with PCC or possibly other postinfection syndromes.


Push to have disgraced former governor-general Peter Hollingworth defrocked to be heard by Anglican Church panel

I have followed this matter from its inception. And the treatment of Peter Hollingworth has been monstrous. A genuinely holy man has been given great anguish only because he was not politically correct. I did not know him well but I have spoken with him, shaken his hand and observed his joyous leadership of a eucharistic procession. And I have no doubt that he is a genuine Christian, a rarity in the Anglican episcopate.

His offence was to adopt a proper judicial attitude towards a serious accusation against one of of his priests. That was a great secular sin. Accusations of sexual abuse are expected by the Leftist press to be believed without question. In such matters the presumption of innocence is thrown out the window

He was a proper servant of his God in acting as he did. As it says in Deuteronomy 1:17: "Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God’s"

It would have been easy for Hollingworth to hunt with the hounds and condemn a potentially innocent man but he did not. He refused to act on an unsubstantiated accusation. That was his sin. His integrity became his undoing. His only fault was insisting on proper evidence rather than immediately believing a sex abuse complaint

It sealed his downfall when John Howard made him governor general. That was intolerable to the Left and all sorts of exaggerated stories about him have been dredged up in additional to the original complaint

Five years ago, an Anglican church investigator said there was enough evidence on the public record to defrock the disgraced former Archbishop for his failure to act on evidence of sexual abuse in the church.

Yet, Dr Hollingworth remains a bishop and the 87-year-old draws a vice-regal pension worth hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

Victim-survivors of Anglican abuse hope that will change after this week — when the church's special independent investigator, Kooyoora, finally hears the case against Dr Hollingworth.

In 2018, the ABC revealed that Dr Hollingworth was the subject of multiple complaints from survivors of abuse at the hands of Anglican clergy and teaching staff in the Brisbane diocese, where Dr Hollingworth served as archbishop in the 1990s.

Those complaints were investigated by Kooyoora but are still yet to be finalised, with the long-overdue hearing slated to begin on Monday.

"I'm not joking, this is probably the longest-running case of child abuse in the world,'' says Chris Goddard, an abuse expert and veteran advocate for survivors.

Victim blaming, the obfuscation of the church and constant delays reinforce the trauma for survivors, experts say.

Five years ago, the ABC revealed that a former Kooyoora director of professional standards told a sexual abuse survivor there was "…more than enough justification to prove [Dr Hollingworth's] unfitness to hold Holy Orders".

This fuelled the anger of survivors who have been waiting years for justice.

Despite survivors and their legal teams preparing for the upcoming hearings, the executive director of Kooyoora, Fiona Boyle, would not confirm if any hearing was taking place this week, nor if it involved Dr Hollingworth.

She says it is "terrible" if any matter takes five years to be dealt with, but has declined to comment on why this case has been delayed for so long.

Archbishop Philip Freier is on leave, but an Anglican spokesman says: "Dr Hollingworth has a limited permission to officiate in the diocese. If a finding is made against him, that will be revisited accordingly."

"The complaint process regarding Bishop Hollingworth is, properly, entirely independent of the Diocese of Melbourne. The diocese has had no influence on the investigation, and the Archbishop cannot comment on the process."


Interracial dating in Australia

This article seems to be largely anecdotal so it is a pity that statistics are not given. If the rate of interracial marriage is low, that would in part be explained by many migrant groups marrying within their ethnicity.

There are some statistics showing a lot of intermarriage between people of different national origin but most of those would be between Australian-born people and people from Britain and other Anglospheric countries.

The most striking type of interracial relationship I see about the place is between Chinese girls and tall Caucasian men, I do see a lot of Chinese young women as a part of couples and the partners concerned are rarely all Chinese. Chinese ladies overwhelmingly favour Caucasian men --- probably because they --like most women -- like their man to be tall. Chinese are Australia's largest minority -- at about 5% of the population

And the prevalence of those relationships is clear testimony to the low level of racism in Australia.

Australia’s leaders often say it is the most multicultural society on Earth, but when it comes to mixing those cultures in marriage, it seems Aussies stay in their lanes.

Sociologist Dr Zuleyka Zevallos says it’s “still the norm that most marry within their race”, despite more than 200 years of migration since colonisation.

“When you look at the out-marriage rates, very few second-generation migrants will marry outside their race.” If they do, she adds, people are more likely to marry a person from a similar ethnic or racial group.

“It’s not about exposure or education, but because of social forces and this sense of difference,” she says.

Of course, interracial relationships in Australia are not new, dating back to colonisation when racial intermixing was a way of ensuring whiteness prevailed. Migration, too, means that Australia’s demographic make-up is becoming increasingly diverse.

So, what about those who do couple up with someone outside their race?

‘We didn’t see interracial couples like us growing up’
Sue Kang, 28, and her boyfriend Midy Tiaga, 29, met in high school and have been best friends for 10 years. They became a couple three years ago. “We were both ready to settle down,” Kang says. Kang, who is Korean-Australian, and Tiaga, a Sri Lankan-Australian, say they didn’t see interracial couples like themselves growing up.

When Kang began modelling full-time during COVID, her agent asked her to bring along her partner to be in the shoot. From there, they continued to model together and Tiaga was eventually signed to her agency. The pair have modelled together for campaigns that include Tourism Australia and Commonwealth Bank.

Kang says it’s been great to see “authentic real couples” like themselves “rather than it being left up to the casting director”.

Both being from culturally diverse backgrounds, they say they share a common understanding. “There’s a cultural shorthand in the relationship where things don’t need to be explained,” says Tiaga. “We’re able to understand each other as we share similar intersections.”

Nigerian-American Valerie Weyland moved to Australia from the United States in her 20s. She settled in Perth, where she met her now husband Robert on Tinder. The couple has been together for more than eight years, and have a nine-month-old baby. She describes their relationship as “open and loving”.

She says that her experience of dating as a black woman in California was different to her experience in Perth, where it’s rare to see couples that look like them. “When I was dating [in California], of course there were racial tensions, but it was not the same as in Australia,” she says. ”I dated whoever I connected with in conversations and through passion, there was a whole rainbow of people.“

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Valerie and Robert Weyland live in Perth and are expecting their first child. She is a very good-looking African lady, obviously with substantial white ancestry

She notes that while Perth is becoming more diverse with pockets of migrants, she doesn’t always feel accepted in the community. The couple often encounters people who stare or openly voice their disapproval. “People don’t really have a healthy filter when they see a couple like us,” she says.

“Australians love to banter and crack jokes, but they don’t always have an understanding of what is appropriate or inappropriate.”

For Robert, being with Valerie has made him more aware of the discrimination many non-white people experience. “If you’ve never gone through it, it’s hard to understand,” Valerie sympathises, who says that it’s about “being patient with people’s process of understanding things”.

And she says Robert is always the first to defend her. “When I’ve been in situations where I’m being attacked for my race, he steps up. He will be the first to say something.”


Journal axes gene research on Jews and Palestinians

This news goes back to 2021 but is a strange example of something being unsayable. Apparently, saying that Palestinian Arabs and Jews have some genes in common is "incorrect". But it is actually a central Israeli claim that they trace their origins to ancient Israel, a land that has also been called Palestine.

So Jews SHOULD have some Middle-Eastern genes -- and they do. Perhaps its how you talk about the genetic commonality between Jews and Palestinian that raises hackles. Calling the two groups "almost identical" was undoubtedly a stretch. That could be nearly true of Mizrachi Jews (who come from Arab lands) but seems unlikely to be true of the Ashkenazim. Yet it seems to be the Ashkenazim who were studied in the paper concerned

A keynote research paper showing that Middle Eastern Jews and Palestinians are genetically almost identical has been pulled from a leading journal.

Academics who have already received copies of Human Immunology have been urged to rip out the offending pages and throw them away.

Such a drastic act of self-censorship is unprecedented in research publishing and has created widespread disquiet, generating fears that it may involve the suppression of scientific work that questions Biblical dogma.

'I have authored several hundred scientific papers, some for Nature and Science, and this has never happened to me before,' said the article's lead author, Spanish geneticist Professor Antonio Arnaiz-Villena, of Complutense University in Madrid. 'I am stunned.'

British geneticist Sir Walter Bodmer added: 'If the journal didn't like the paper, they shouldn't have published it in the first place. Why wait until it has appeared before acting like this?'

The journal's editor, Nicole Sucio-Foca, of Columbia University, New York, claims the article provoked such a welter of complaints over its extreme political writing that she was forced to repudiate it. The article has been removed from Human Immunology's website, while letters have been written to libraries and universities throughout the world asking them to ignore or 'preferably to physically remove the relevant pages'. Arnaiz-Villena has been sacked from the journal's editorial board.

Dolly Tyan, president of the American Society of Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics, which runs the journal, told subscribers that the society is 'offended and embarrassed'.

The paper, 'The Origin of Palestinians and their Genetic Relatedness with other Mediterranean Populations', involved studying genetic variations in immune system genes among people in the Middle East.

In common with earlier studies, the team found no data to support the idea that Jewish people were genetically distinct from other people in the region. In doing so, the team's research challenges claims that Jews are a special, chosen people and that Judaism can only be inherited.

Jews and Palestinians in the Middle East share a very similar gene pool and must be considered closely related and not genetically separate, the authors state. Rivalry between the two races is therefore based 'in cultural and religious, but not in genetic differences', they conclude.

But the journal, having accepted the paper earlier this year, now claims the article was politically biased and was written using 'inappropriate' remarks about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Its editor told the journal Nature last week that she was threatened by mass resignations from members if she did not retract the article.

Arnaiz-Villena says he has not seen a single one of the accusations made against him, despite being promised the opportunity to look at the letters sent to the journal.

He accepts he used terms in the article that laid him open to criticism. There is one reference to Jewish 'colonists' living in the Gaza strip, and another that refers to Palestinian people living in 'concentration' camps.

'Perhaps I should have used the words settlers instead of colonists, but really, what is the difference?' he said.

'And clearly, I should have said refugee, not concentration, camps, but given that I was referring to settlements outside of Israel - in Syria and Lebanon - that scarcely makes me anti-Jewish. References to the history of the region, the ones that are supposed to be politically offensive, were taken from the Encyclopaedia Britannica, and other text books.'

In the wake of the journal's actions, and claims of mass protests about the article, several scientists have now written to the society to support Arnaiz-Villena and to protest about their heavy-handedness.

One of them said: 'If Arnaiz-Villena had found evidence that Jewish people were genetically very special, instead of ordinary, you can be sure no one would have objected to the phrases he used in his article. This is a very sad business.'

For what interest it may have, the Abstract of the paper is below:

The genetic profile of Palestinians has, for the first time, been studied by using human leukocyte antigen (HLA) gene variability and haplotypes. The comparison with other Mediterranean populations by using neighbor-joining dendrograms and correspondence analyses reveal that Palestinians are genetically very close to Jews and other Middle East populations, including Turks (Anatolians), Lebanese, Egyptians, Armenians and Iranians. Archaeologic and genetic data support that both Jews and Palestinians came from the ancient Canaanites, who extensively mixed with Egyptians, Mesopotamian and Anatolian peoples in ancient times. Thus, PalestinianJewish rivalry is based in cultural and religious, but not in genetic, differences. The relatively close relatedness of both Jews and Palestinians to western Mediterranean populations reflects the continuous circum-Mediterranean cultural and gene flow that have occurred in prehistoric and historic times. This flow overtly contradicts the demic diffusion model of western Mediterranean populations substitution by agriculturalists coming from the Middle East in the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition

One wonders a little how their sample of Ashkenazi Jews was gathered. How reprsentative was it? Other studies have shown the Ashkenazim to have very little in the way of Middle-Eastern genes. Could that contradiction be a sampling artifact? It seems a pity that such concerns were not examined.