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Monday Message Board

April 19th, 2004

It’s time, as usual, for the Monday Message Board. Please post your comments on any topic (civilised discussion and no coarse language, please). I’d be interested to hear how long people have been reading this blog (any claims in excess of two years will be viewed with great suspicion) and how they first heard about this blog or blogging in general.

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  1. Andrew
    April 19th, 2004 at 13:59 | #1

    I noticed the other day that Brits are useing the capital gains from their housing boom to buy up property in France/Spain/Tuscany.

    Given that it was actually likely to have been funded by the willingness of the younger Brits to go heavily into debt and not necessarily from increases in production /wealth generation, the UK can crash now and still end up with the British baby-boomers owning half of Europe after having done little apart from go mad for real-estate.

    How can this make economic sense?

  2. April 19th, 2004 at 14:01 | #2

    I’ve been reading this blog for around 6 months and found it via Deltoid. I guess I first came across blogging in 1997 when I first encountered Slashdot. I set up my own blog using home-grown software in mid-July 2000 and kept it running for a couple of years before losing interest. I recently moved that journal to a new site and software and plan to start blogging again shortly.

    As far as a discussion topic, how about “Where’s Saddam?”. Since his capture in mid-December I’ve heard very little about him. Is it because the US has remained tight-lipped about him or because the media sees no story in it? Maybe I just haven’t been paying close enough attention.

  3. April 19th, 2004 at 14:01 | #3

    I’ve been reading this blog for around 6 months and found it via Deltoid. I guess I first came across blogging in 1997 when I first encountered Slashdot. I set up my own blog using home-grown software in mid-July 2000 and kept it running for a couple of years before losing interest. I recently moved that journal to a new site and software and plan to start blogging again shortly.

    As far as a discussion topic, how about “Where’s Saddam?”. Since his capture in mid-December I’ve heard very little about him. Is it because the US has remained tight-lipped about him or because the media sees no story in it? Maybe I just haven’t been paying close enough attention.

  4. April 19th, 2004 at 14:04 | #4

    Oops, sorry for the duplicate post. My browser was did some weird stuff when I hit post the first time.

  5. Steve Edwards
    April 19th, 2004 at 15:11 | #5

    At least a year and three months. I first heard about blogging through Rob Corr. I didn’t know anyone else had blogs, until I did a google search for “David Horowitz” in 2002 and then later stumbled on Tim Blair’s blog.

  6. April 19th, 2004 at 15:36 | #6

    I only discovered John’s blog about eight months ago – I’m pretty much a blogging neophyte. But the idea of online debate and discussion has been with me for some time.

    In the 90s I discovered Usenet and MSN groups. My fascination with discussion groups was twofold: On one hand I thought it exciting and wonderful to participate in debate with hundreds of different people living in different parts of the world. However, there was an element of horrified fascination as well as I quickly discovered just how low public discussion could sink where there was complete anonymity and any tool with a PC could log in and spray his or her sexism / racism / antisemitism / whatever-else-ism, around. This nearly drove me to neurosis as I frantically wore my fingers out typing whole essays to demonstrate where some spotty antifeminist or Stolen-Generation-Denier had gone wrong. He/she, on the other hand, would merely reply with a new variation of the original, badly spelled drivel.

    This wasn’t confined to the spotty young AOL-er (OMG WTF!) I might add – there are hordes of cardigan-clad RSL rejects on MSN, doing their bit now that Pauline Hanson’s gone. As for UseNet, I think you all know the sewer that it’s become, although I got some good doggy advice from rec.pets.dogs (plus a spray from the local madman, but he abuses everyone.) For a long time I’ve stuck with just one MSN group, which is run by a right-wing Republican from the US, now living in Australia. If you’ve seen my left-ish blog you might find this odd, but I thought it was a good thing to mix it with people who didn’t see things my way, rather than cosily reinforcing my own prejudices.

    However, no MSN group is really satisfactory if you’re not at home in the world of purple fonts and animated emoticons. I needed something interactive, but with more and better educated grownups. I also wanted to do something with writing, and was looking around for some kind of evening course. Then, and I don’t remember how exactly, I googled my way into Miss Shauny’s What’s New Pussycat. This is a purely personal blog, but Miss Shauny can Write, I tells ya. From there I found Virulent Memes and Road to Surfdom and from then on I was on the slippery slope to bloggerhood. I found John’s blog via Road to Surfdom and Blogorrhoea—I don’t think anyone venturing into the better Aussie blogs can avoid coming across it.

    Blogs give me the opportunity to be in a “community” of writers spanning several countries without the mud-wrestling juvenility (?) of the newsgroups. Blogging is like a combination of going back to university and being in the biggest library you’ve ever seen, with no borrowing limit. It’s also ideal for the busy working adult, because you can do it at any time and for any length of time you choose. I find it saddening that many people of my age (‘40s) make it a badge of honour to scorn any personal computer use – “Oh, I’d never have the time” (although there is universal acceptance of, for instance, magazine reading or mindless TV watching.) To most people, personal computers equal computer dating, gambling and other mindless crap. I overheard a friend say, “Oh, Helen’s into chat rooms”. Urgh! To this day, the people who read my blog are other bloggers. My friends and family don’t go there. Perhaps that’s a good thing.

  7. Warbo
    April 19th, 2004 at 15:37 | #7

    About six months for me as well.

    I used to read Salon pretty regularly, including Joe Conason’s journal, which was my introduction to blogging. I think I came to your site through Road to Surfdom.

  8. Don Wigan
    April 19th, 2004 at 15:42 | #8

    Hi John.

    I’m only about a month or so into reading your blog. Picked it up from Tim Dunlop’s review of blogs in Margot Kingston’s Webdiary.

    Being so recent, and incurably old-fashioned, may I ask you as a leftist for a current assessment of Keynesian Economics. I know it’s a non-goer in today’s deregulated globalised economies, and that as everything internationalises it is less easy for a brave government to apply (Japan and maybe France seem the last).

    But I remain unconvinced that Friedmanite Economics is a better choice. I’d be interested in your comments as an economic insider.

    I must confess, perhaps due to my own lack of discipline I find most economic writing – apart from the two Kenneths, Galbraith and our own Davidson totally boring.

  9. cp
    April 19th, 2004 at 16:35 | #9

    How long have I been reading your blog? Oh, about one day. I heard about it yesterday from a friend who’s an Economist.
    I have several friends in various countries with blogs. I started on the net with a home-grown mailing list/newsgroup thingie about 1994, I think.

  10. April 19th, 2004 at 17:30 | #10

    Been reading since October 2002.

  11. April 19th, 2004 at 19:21 | #11

    Seven months. A desperate man who works for the government gave me the URL. I’ve been running a personalised URL swapping service on email since about 1996 – but my contact with blogging was limited to occasional appalled/fascinated collisions with “Does Dwayne still love me with this new lipstick” teenagers. To my credit I never commented..

    Then I took to running a blog myself. Now my friends tell me they miss my emails. When I tell them its on my blog they explain that they are all too busy… and the less sophisticated ones ask me what blogging is and look appalled when I explain. And then say: “why do you do that?”, speaking very slowly as if to a dangerous idiot.

  12. Harry Clarke
    April 19th, 2004 at 20:16 | #12

    A month or so. I read about it in the AFR article on blogs. Still exploring blogs mainly through the sites you list. In one session I ended up at David Friedman’s website (not a blog)and came across his online microeconomics text –it’s a classic in printed form but now regrettably out of print — I might use this in teaching a micro course for graduate non-economists. So thanks!

  13. April 19th, 2004 at 20:48 | #13

    I’ve been reading pretty much since you began. As for how I found the blog, that would’ve been thanks to the email you sent out advising people of its existence.

  14. April 19th, 2004 at 21:19 | #14

    My friends and family don’t go there. Perhaps that’s a good thing.

    I haven’t told mine either, because I expect them to

    then say: “why do you do that?”, speaking very slowly as if to a dangerous idiot

    but if they ever find out, I’m gonna blame this blog, which was the first one I discovered and the only one I knew existed for about six months or so, way back when I can’t remember any more.

  15. john
    April 19th, 2004 at 21:34 | #15

    about a month found it through margos webdairy in the SMH its great

  16. Phil
    April 19th, 2004 at 23:48 | #16

    Have been following this blog and the other good ones (Back Pages, Road to Surfdom, Henry Thornton et al) for about 3-4 months. Plus a few US ones. They certainly get addictive, but like all good things, are we approaching ‘too much of a good thing’, particularly in relation to debate on political issues? Check out the debate at Gary Sauer-Thompson’s Public Opinion today. For informed economic debate they are excellent – particularly for alternative views to Washington Consensus orthodoxy, such as we get here.

  17. Brian Bahnisch
    April 19th, 2004 at 23:48 | #17

    I’ve read it pretty much since the beginning. I became aware of serious blogging when Tim Dunlop announced his venture on Webdiary, and I would have found you and Rob Schaap (also a former webdiarist) from there.

    I already knew about you as the hairy guy from James Cook on TV, articles in the AFR etc. Your name had also been given to my brother, a beef producer and life member of the National Party. The ag dept people had been telling farmers that the “The Lotus and the Olive Tree” was the only book worth reading on globalisation. My bro’s ideas are a bit similar to Bob Katter’s and he demanded an alternative view. The reply was, there isn’t one really, but if you insist you might try John Quiggin.

  18. kyan gadac
    April 20th, 2004 at 00:09 | #18

    Yup, Margo Kingston got a lot to answer for. I’d found Tim Blair and other aussi blogs of his ilk – but I had to retrain myself from ending up in flame wars in places like that. Far too left wing – it’ll never fly, Lawrence – you need two wings!

    Here’s a thought for the ether. I’ve been wondering recently whether there is a connection between Aussi Rules rather unique scoring (a miss is a point) with preferential voting… Far – fetched? Maybe but the currents of cultural connections can ran deep…

    We seem to like systems that aren’t all or nothing , I suspect.

  19. April 20th, 2004 at 03:02 | #19

    The first time I linked to you was Christmas of 2002, so I’ve been reading at least since then.

  20. April 20th, 2004 at 04:11 | #20

    I found this blog in late 2002 like the most of them. I probably came from a link on Tim Blair’s site.

    The first blog I experienced was “Silent Running”, which came up in a google search looking for information on the Bali bombing. I wasn’t convinced by the traditional media’s reporting on it and wanted another point of view. From them I found Tim Blair and all the other Australian blogs.

    I guess you could say that left wing bias in traditional media led me to blogging, like a lot of the other right wing bloggers.

    To Kyan: I think the obvious answer is that the scoring system was borrowed from Rugby, but the inventors realised that making it 1 point for a behind instead of 3 would lead to less draws. Im just making this up though, so I could be way off.

  21. Brian Bahnisch
    April 20th, 2004 at 09:23 | #21

    Oops! Four comments up it’s “Lexus” of course, not “Lotus”. But the ag dept officers were so ideologically blinkered they may well have been in Lotus land.

  22. Steve
    April 20th, 2004 at 15:41 | #22

    I’ve been reading this blog off and on for over a year.

    I work in the energy / greenhouse field, and began reading “The New Australian” (a now defunct RW online newsletter by Gerard Jackson) several years ago for kicks, to see what the dark side had to say about renewable energy, kyoto etc.

    From there I followed Jackson to Brookes news (don’t bother with this anymore), and Aaron Oakley to Bizarre Science.

    I first heard of JQ when reading frequent cranky references to someone called “Quiggin” on Brookes News and Bizarre Science. A quick search found me this blog.


  23. Jim Birch
    April 20th, 2004 at 16:37 | #23

    I have been reading from early on. For some reason, I thought the blog had been around for yonks and I just caught on.

    Found it googling “quiggan”. I knew JQ when we were kids through family links and wondered what he was up to. Here in Perth, he doesn’t have the profile (eg, newspaper articles) he does elsewhere.

    I’d been following (the original blog?) Robot Wisdom for some time but avoided most blogs as the bloggers seemed to be suffering from a serious and unhealthy psychological condition that forced them to “think” only in black and white, ambivaphobia perhaps. JQ was welcome relief, and I liked his empirical tendencies.

  24. kez
    April 20th, 2004 at 18:25 | #24

    i’m late with this one but I have a question:

    Do the rich pay tax?

    i’ve been reading this blog (along with Tim D and Gary S) for about 8 months.. i decided i wanted to understanding politics better and came across an article in the Green Guide from Thurs The Age about blogging..

  25. stephen
    April 20th, 2004 at 19:25 | #25

    I came across this blog by word of mouth – straight from the horse’s mouth in fact, I was unaware of blogging until John told me about it. And since then have I come to rue the knowledge! there are other blogs..other opinions..more to read…oh no!

    but to return to a substantive point, on the question raised by kez, yes the rich do pay some tax, but less than the rest of us. they can’t escape the GST on consumer items they buy – although they can enjoy some items courtesy of their corporate arrangements as long as they do it modestly enough not to attract fringe benefits tax. they make their money mostly in capital gains, so benefit from the 50% concessional rate – and timing can help reduce this further depending on the arrangements they make; putting off gains into the future and realising losses whenever it is advantageous is an ideal strategy. unlike the normal australian wage earner, nobody deducts taxes from the rich before they get spending money – and when the end of the year comes around a good (or should that be bad, as in “evil”) tax planner can dramatically reduce the bill. if all else fails, shifting any income to a country that has much lower tax rates is a strategy available to those with a lot of money to move around.

    the good news is that the evidence shows tax paid in Australia is relatively fair going up the scale all the way to the reasonably rich; the bad news is that the very very rich have a number of options they can use to minimise their taxes.

    the other bad news is that the very poor pay a much higher proportion of their income in taxation – the problem is what are known as effective marginal tax rates (EMTRs), where social welfare benefits of varius sorts cut out the more you earn. this, combined with income taxes, mean the EMTR of a low income earner can be 100% – that is, for each extra dollar earned, taxes plus loss of benefits loses a dollar in your take home income.

    the policy options to deal with this are well understood, supported by many leading economists and tax policy advisers, but alas politically unacceptable: death duties, together with taxes on large transfers of wealth (to stop avoidance measures on death duties).

  26. James Farrell
    April 20th, 2004 at 21:38 | #26

    I discovered the Captain’s blog one year ago, via his university web site. I hadn’t heard of blogs before.

  27. Blair Fairman
    April 21st, 2004 at 00:37 | #27

    I came to be a reader of this blog late last year when Peter Brent of Mumble wrote a guest post about the ALP leadership contest.

  28. Jill Rush
    April 21st, 2004 at 00:48 | #28

    I read about the blog in the paper and was happy to take up reading blogs over reading the paper. This was about 12 months ago as far as I recall.

    The advantage is that blogs consist of ideas that are censored in other forums. It is very frustrating to have the views of Rupert Murdoch being constantly dressed up as valid.

    Thanks for the opportunity to read and to occasionally put a view from another perspective.

  29. kyan gadac
    April 21st, 2004 at 03:20 | #29

    I feel obligated to point readers in the direction of this blog written by a British woman who is risking her life taking medicine to Fallujah. She is a circus clown who has become a negotiator for ambulances. If they gave medals to clowns then she deserves several. The so-called cease fire in Fallujah is a laugh, if it weren’t so tragic.

  30. cp
    April 22nd, 2004 at 07:10 | #30

    Further to my post above, I’ve been reading the archives, and they certainly are fascinating reading, especially with the benefit of hindsight! I agree with Jill Rush (see above); gotta love the web.

    It’s a pity the comments don’t appear to be there for a number of the early months, but no matter.

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