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After the riots

December 14th, 2005

There’s not much to say about the riots that hasn’t already been said, but one point that hasn’t been stressed enough is the small numbers of people actively involved. The crowd at Cronulla on Sunday was large, but it seems that only a couple of hundred were engaged in violence. Similarly, forty car loads of thugs were said to have been involved in the subsequent round of attacks on Monday night. That’s alarming but again it amounts to a couple of hundred people. The same was true in the French riots, which mainly consisted of small groups burning cars under cover of darkness. The availability of mobile phones makes organising this kind of thing a lot easier, and calls for a response. I hope that, in addition to those already charged, the police will pursue everyone involved in this shameful behavior. Many of them have been recorded on film and ought to be easy to identify.

Then there are the instigators of the violence. The senders of SMS messages will no doubt be hard to trace, but there’s no doubt about the role of talkback radio and 2GB in particular. It’s unclear whether Alan Jones or his talkback callers have committed a criminal offence, as suggested in comments here and elsewhere, but if he hasn’t, then the government’s spanking new sedition laws are clearly a dead letter.

The laws governing broadcasting are also relevant. Radio stations like 2GB get free allocations of valuable spectrum under a system of licensing which includes a prohibition on broadcasting matter that is likely to incite violence. If this system is to be maintained, 2GB should be stripped of its license by the Australian Broadcasting Authority for broadcasting people like Jones.

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  1. James Farrell
    January 21st, 2006 at 21:46 | #1

    James

    I asked you to substantiate your claim that economists on the whole advocate population growth as a means to prosperity. Your reponse has been to concede that not all economists advocate population growth as a means to prosperity. That’s not really the same as conceding that, as far as you know, most economists don’t do it. But if you don’t want to concede that, you still need to substantiate the claim.

    And why do you keep going on – in your answers to me – about Richard Pratt? Perhaps you use economist as a synonym for tycoon or industrialist; in which case we simply have our lines crossed.

  2. Will De Vere
    January 22nd, 2006 at 16:18 | #2

    As this lunatic symposium began with anxiety about the riots in Cronulla (cross references: Smug Aussie Slums, the Herren Volk, Australian desert regions, Shit Sydney), I was fascinated to notice that one of the Whities charged with violence in the slum is very keen to claim that he is NOT racist and only became caught up in the spirit of it all ie kicking a man in the guts.

    His mum and dad testify that he is Of Good Family and gosh no, he’s not racist. Very respectable, like. He has a nice job.

    So it was all just a Mark Latham thing.

  3. January 22nd, 2006 at 17:24 | #3

    James Farrell,

    I think you’re splitting hairs here.

    That ‘continually rising population is necessary for economic prosperity’ has, in recent decades, been practically the official ideology and justification for the population growth policies of the Federal Government and a number of State Labor Governments which are demonstrably harmful to the interests of many people who already live here as well as to the long term sustainably of our society.

    It has been given credibility by large numbers of economists who have parroted this line in our newspapers and in the electronic media. Perhaps there are others who have not been parroting this line. If I have inadvertently passed on an impression that I have formed, which is not fair to these other economists, then I apologise. However, my point stands that they need to try harder to make their contrary views known.

    No, I can’t at the moment give you the names of economists who preach the line that population growth is necessary for prosperity, but I don’t believe that the impression I and others have formed has come from no-where.

    Certainly, the authors of the recent National Productivity report on the “Economic Impacts of Migration and Population Growth”, who I presume includes economists, seem to have gone out of their way, against the evidence, to paint the effects of immigration in as positive a light as possible. This has been shown by John Coulter who is quoted in the media release of Sustainable Population, Australia.

    Why not, instead, tell us where you stand on these substantive questions?

    Yes, also, I did realise that Richard Pratt was an industrialist and not an economist, and you are right, I have inadvertently repeated myself in regards to him.

    Will De Vere wrote :

    Your intelligence is outta date, daddy-o

    Wasn’t this how beatniks talked, back in the 1950′s? Please remind me, again, what year we are now in.

    Anyhow, Will, if you must hang around, as you say, for ‘the fun of it’, please spare us the self-righteous humbug about how I am supposedly hectoring, sermonising and bullying everyone. I, and others have invited you many times to substantiate your statements, but you have have failed to do so, instead, only offering more unsubstantiated opinion and your own ignorance as argument.

    So, if you find yourself unable to do any different from this point on, then, at least, please try to be a little understanding if you begin to get the impression that others may be ignoring you.

  4. jquiggin
    January 23rd, 2006 at 07:46 | #4

    I think James Farrell is right, if by “economists” you’re referring to the academic discipline of economics (not just academics, but people who would be accepted as economists by them). Naturally enough that’s the meaning James Farrell and I (being academic economists) use.

    There’s a range of views on either side, but I’d say the median position is that population growth is roughly neutral in economic terms (good for scale economies, bad because of diminishing marginal returns with fixed factors),. The PC report James Sinnamon mentions suggests impacts that are, in its own words “positive but very small” ( a gain of 0.6 per cent), which scarcely puts them in the camp of those who think the economy will collapse unless we reach a population of 50 million.

    On the other hand, I think James Sinnamon is probably right to believe that “market economists”, the kind you see on TV, mostly favour high immigration and population growth. But since no-one here seems eager to defend “market economists”, or the view that we need a population of 50 million, it might be time to call a halt to this.

  5. January 23rd, 2006 at 13:37 | #5

    Surely the “we need 50 million” question is solely looking at standard of living, not the viability in a wider world thing (which includes strategic questions like “populate or perish”)?

    I’m not asserting that this argument is correct, just checking which point is being addressed. I suspect that the viability thing isn’t even being addressed, rather than being checked and then left out as immaterial.

  6. Andrew Reynolds
    January 23rd, 2006 at 13:53 | #6

    Really, all you need is enough of a population for strong specialisation benefits to take effect. I do not know if this happens at 10, 20, 50 or 100 million, but there are several countries that are very wealthy with small populations and some that are poor with large ones. To me it is the functioning of the economy and the degree to which specialisation is possible that drives above average growth, not population quantum. I would tend to agree that we can leave this alone.

  7. January 23rd, 2006 at 17:45 | #7

    James Farrell wrote :

    Which economists are those, James?

    Sheila N has passed this on to me. She tried unsuccessfully to post this, herself. I will now attempt to post a cut down version of her original post.

    Here are three Australian growthist economics educated population boosters:

    Prof. John Nieuwenhuysen
    Prof. Glenn Withers
    Prof. Raja Junankar

  8. Terje Petersen
    January 23rd, 2006 at 21:50 | #8

    I think that any specialisation effect due to a large domestic labour force is pretty irrelevant if we have a world of open borders and free trade. Of course we don’t have either but to the extent that we do, we mitigate any advantage that population size may bring.

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