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Weekend reflections

June 17th, 2005

This regular feature is back again. The idea is that, over the weekend, you should post your thoughts in a more leisurely fashion than in ordinary comments or the Monday Message Board.

Please post your thoughts on any topic, at whatever length seems appropriate to you. Civilised discussion and no coarse language, please.

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  1. June 17th, 2005 at 22:59 | #1

    should we bail out poor african countries?

    not according to pat buchanan – http://www.creators.com/opinion_show.cfm?columnsName=pbu

  2. June 17th, 2005 at 23:29 | #2

    Courtesy of Brad Delong’s blog I’ve just discovered that Charlie Stross’s Acclerando is now available for download as an ebook.

    However, if you prefer things more retro, you could do worse than have a look at the 1880s Atkinson Engine.

  3. abb1
    June 17th, 2005 at 23:58 | #3

    …not according to pat buchanan…

    He’s saying that what’s being bailed out if not poor African countries, but the IMF and the World Bank and that these organizations, their bosses and their so-called ‘economists’ need to be held responsible for the billions wasted. Do you have a problem with that?

  4. June 18th, 2005 at 00:36 | #4

    I know none of you economists are interested in rugby, particularly if you live in Queensland (heh). Let me put it to you this way. It’s healthy to follow action in other arenas, particularly ones that are close by and more transparent. Take, for example, thinking about the return of the governments of the so-called “coalition of the willing”, after they had collectively and individually made one of the worst possible calls governments can possibly make in going to war. How can governments be returned in the face of outstanding incompetence? Questions like this are ho hum to rugby fans, where the word on the street is that the hapless Wendel Sailor is going to hold his postion in the Wallabies at the expense of the brilliant Clyde Rathbone. Utterly unfathomable on every conceivable ground, bar media spin and incumbency.

  5. June 18th, 2005 at 01:56 | #5

    You have a point CS, Wendell Sailor is over-rated, over-priced, & now thankfully, he is over the border, heh!

    Btw, the worst possible call in going to war would have to belong to Adolf Hitler? Tojo?

  6. June 18th, 2005 at 11:04 | #6

    Here is evidence for my themanlyness.

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v496/zacius/THEMAN/Theman001.jpg

    It is a comic.

  7. Vee
    June 18th, 2005 at 11:40 | #7

    who is the late Robert L Heilbroner’s successor in his field?

  8. June 18th, 2005 at 16:28 | #8

    Education… Investment to unlock human capital, or merely a screening device?

    Any takers?

  9. June 18th, 2005 at 17:07 | #9

    I would but my doctor has said that it would be bad for my health.

  10. jquiggin
    June 18th, 2005 at 17:29 | #10

    Alpaca, I’ve already published what I regard as the definitive refutation of screening theory here

  11. joe2
    June 18th, 2005 at 17:47 | #11

    alpaca,good luck with that one but related.
    I ask a question of economic and political fundamentalists.
    J.Q has probably gone for this subject, in media ,already.

    How is it that somebody who has worked in an industry for a large number of years are derided by the term “unskilled”?

  12. Ian Gould
    June 18th, 2005 at 18:13 | #12

    Re. debt relief: most of this debt is nonperforming and has been for years.

    Any private sector lender would have written it off years ago.

    Government and supragovernemntal lenders should acknowledge that.

    The best way to prevent future large debt accumulation is probably to require governments to package their loans and on-sell them to the bond markets.

    They’d take a huge loss on the face value but it’d be a more transparent process than the current one.

  13. Ian Gould
    June 18th, 2005 at 19:30 | #13

    The FT reports that between 2003 and 2004, the median income in Iraq fell roughly 40%. http://news.ft.com/cms/s/a0c6194c-dece-11d9-92cd-00000e2511c8.html

    Given reports that Iraq’s GDP rose around 50% in 2004, a reader might reasonably ask how that;s possible.

    The answer appears to lie here: http://www.worldbank.org/data/countrydata/aag/irqaag.pdf

    Between 2002 and 2004, private consumption fell from 74% of Iraqi GDP to 39%. Government expenditure rose from 16% to 50.5%.

    Considering that Iraq’s GDP is only around US$20 billion (at market exchange rates – it’s around US$60 billion in Purchasing Power Parity) I’d say most economic activity in Iraq nowadays is tied to the US security effort.

    Question: is the salary of US employee workign for a US company in Iraq counted as part of Iraq’s GDP.

    Oh and if anyone still finds that 50% estimated growth in GDP impressive it mostly represents a recovery from the collapse of 2003, when GDP fell around 30%.

  14. Ian Gould
    June 18th, 2005 at 19:56 | #14

    Well it looks as though, Labour has been returned in the NT.

    Surely its unprecented for a party to be so successful at the state level and so unsuccessful at the Federal level.

    Other than John Howard’s own political skills (which I respect even though I detest the man) is ther3e any other explanation for this?

    And if Howard is responsible, what does his retirement (whenever it coems) impyl for his Party federally?

  15. June 18th, 2005 at 20:21 | #15

    Only once have we had all state and territory liberal and federally Labor and that was only for a year in the 60′s. It is wierd and neither party can be said to be irrelevant, although it appears that at the moment the Liberals are irrelevant at the state level everywhere and that the ALP are almost irrelevant federally. (By irrelevant I don’t mean irrelevant).

  16. Brian Bahnisch
    June 18th, 2005 at 21:35 | #16

    Re poor countries’ debt. I wondered what George Monbiot thought about it. In his book “The Age of Consent” he says the poor countries should force the advanced countries into abolidhing the World Bank and instituting Keynes’ idea of an International Clearing Union.

    How could the poor countries get there way? Well if you owe the bank $2.5 trillion then you own the bank, right? All you need is a bit of solidarity.

    Geaorge has had his say. He reckons the conditions being placed on the deal are the equivalent of saying “we will stop punching you in the face if you give us the Crown Jewels.� He reckons it is an extortion racket.

  17. June 18th, 2005 at 23:29 | #17

    This mutualist site also goes for the same “too many exploitative conditions” view of debt relief.

  18. Tony Healy
    June 19th, 2005 at 14:48 | #18

    If anyone is interested, the ACTU is tonight launching some powerful TV ads with the unions’ take on the IR changes. The ads do an excellent job of conveying the power imbalances at work in these changes.

    One shows a Mom with her children, suddenly called in to work by a boss who replies that, yes, he can sack her if she doesn’t come in. The other shows a long time staffer, told that he must convert to casual status, receiving vacuous reassurance from a stuffed shirt that “we all have to be flexible.”

    Here’s a short (470 KB) clip from one of the ads. Here’s the ACTU background to the campaign.

  19. June 19th, 2005 at 15:02 | #19

    Thanks Professor Q, I’ll go read it now…

    And joe2, does experience = skill?

  20. June 19th, 2005 at 16:07 | #20

    Gosh Tony, mention of that ACTU campaign conjures up images of ads made of all the current power imbalances in the workplace. Just can’t see my way clear to laugh at them however. I can’t wait for a little balance to be brought back. (waaaaay overdue)

  21. Tony Healy
    June 19th, 2005 at 16:33 | #21

    OK, Steve at the pub. That’s OK.

  22. June 19th, 2005 at 16:56 | #22

    Can’t wait to see the ads though Tony, hehe, they sound like they will be better than the Comdey Company! ( unfortunately, they will probably be about as accurate as the old John Singleton GST ads from 1992, “pay 10% extra, *ka-ching*”)

  23. Guardian of the Faith
    June 19th, 2005 at 17:37 | #23

    Over the last couple of weeks there have been plenty of issues for the federal ALP to run with – reform of mandatory detention and various issues relating to DIMIA being at the top of a very long list. With the Palmer report about to be released, with a report into military justice having come out a couple of days ago, with Chinese officials defecting every couple of days, can anyone actually say where Beazley stands on these things? In fact, has Beazley even commented on these? The last couple of items I’ve read about the Bomber were in Matt Price’s column. Neither reference was favourable. Both pointed to errors the Bomber had made. Last week? Some unintelligible quote. This week? A press release attacking Gary Nairn (later retracted).

    In contrast, Rudd has been putting forward clear and concise views. Every day Rudd seems to be on some show or another putting out his opinion. For example, Rudd reckons there should be a Royal Commission into mandatory detention. Not to sing Rudd’s praises (I doubt he’d make a good leader – to much of a ponce), he’s doing a much better job than the Bomber.

    So I wonder, is it time to drop the Bomb?

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