Home > Regular Features > Weekend reflections

Weekend reflections

July 21st, 2006

Weekend Reflections is on again. Please comment on any topic of interest (civilised discussion and no coarse language, please). Feel free to put in contributions more lengthy than for the Monday Message Board or standard comments.

Categories: Regular Features Tags:
  1. July 21st, 2006 at 17:01 | #1

    As per last weekend I am still keen to hear any additional economic theories or explainations as to why US Federal Tax revenues are going up significantly.

    http://www.tax-news.com/asp/story/story_open.asp?storyname=24210

    For the first nine months of fiscal year 2006, CBO estimates, total receipts rose by 12.8 percent compared with the same period in 2005. That increase represents the second-highest rate of growth for that nine-month period in the past 25 years (surpassed only by last year’s strong growth). Net corporate income tax receipts continued to show the largest percentage increase, but the rate of growth waned in June. Nevertheless, net corporate receipts during the first nine months of the fiscal year grew by 26 percent, or $52 billion, compared with the same period in 2005.

    Although significant uncertainty remains regarding the quarterly estimated tax payments due in September, CBO expects that corporate receipts will exceed $330 billion for the entire fiscal year, an increase of at least 18 percent over the amount collected in 2005.

  2. jquiggin
    July 21st, 2006 at 17:32 | #2

    Random year to year fluctuations seem to be the explanation preferred by most economists who’ve looked at this. Revenue fell more than expected in the immediate aftermath of the first Bush tax cut, and now they’ve bounced back.

  3. July 22nd, 2006 at 11:05 | #3

    Looking at the entry for Shout VC in Wikipedia I was struck by the convergence in the “Aftermath” of his death and that of Jacob Kovco. the more things change the more they stay the same it seems.

  4. July 22nd, 2006 at 11:32 | #4

    Just on the Shout VC sale it should be noted that record Liberal Party donor, Baron Ashcroft is the holder of the largest collection of VCs in private hands.

    If Ashcroft is the high bidder in Monday’s auction for the last Gallipoli VC not at the AWM will John Howard take steps to prevent its export?

  5. Derick Cullen
    July 22nd, 2006 at 17:44 | #5

    PrQ: “Random year to year fluctuations seem to be the explanation preferred by most economists” (in tax revenue in US).

    Although it is tempting to consider tax revenue as some function of GDP or other reflection of ‘real world’ events, tax revenue on a cash basis (as I suspect the US data to be) will have a notoriously slippery timing relationship with real world events.

    Tax revenue corrected to an accruals basis (the tax liability accrues as the taxable income is earned), particularly corporate tax, relies on judgement of accountants in either government or corporations, and is only a guess until assessments are worked through.

    Therefore, it is not surprising that the relationship between tax revenue and real world events appears random.

    An example close to home is the “stick” business organisations have applied to Treasury for poor budget forecasts of tax revenue vs. actual receipts over most of the Costello era.

    There must be a bunch of potential Phds in economics to be gained by delving into this murky area!

  6. July 22nd, 2006 at 22:21 | #6

    Random year to year fluctuations seem to be the explanation preferred by most economists who’ve looked at this. Revenue fell more than expected in the immediate aftermath of the first Bush tax cut, and now they’ve bounced back.

    Thanks for offering an explaination (although I am not sure if “random” is really an explaination so much a statement about the lack of one). If possible can you suggest the names of a few economists who have looked at this, or even better can you point me to their musings, blogs, articles or papers.

  7. Ernestine Gross
    July 22nd, 2006 at 23:53 | #7

    Terje,

    Given your persistence, I called up your reference. Why do you believe the story you have cited deserves comment?

    I would not draw any conclusions from the story you have cited other than some people are trying to make a living from it and one can’t blame these people for tryig to make a living.

  8. July 23rd, 2006 at 00:24 | #8

    Ernestine,

    Why do you believe the story you have cited deserves comment?

    The word “deserves” is interesting in this context. I am not sure that any story deserves anything. However I was interested in this story because it is about tax revenue. And the US president has cut tax rates using a specific argument about how tax rate cuts will impact on tax revenues.

    By the way the reference offered is merely one of many. The “story” has been run with various angles in much of the main stream US media (eg New York Times). So obviously some editors think the story deserves something.

    So long as you are reading articles here are some more:-

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/07/13/AR2005071301617.html

    http://washingtontimes.com/commentary/areynolds.htm

  9. July 23rd, 2006 at 00:25 | #9

    Sorry. Ignore the first of those links. Its about last years results.

  10. July 23rd, 2006 at 04:40 | #10

    The thought of Harry Potter briefly crossed my mind as I was reading The Glass Bead Game. But I quickly packed that thought off as too quirky and possibly due to my reading too much of “shallow” stuff! I’m glad that someone else also thought along the same lines!!!

  11. Katz
    July 23rd, 2006 at 10:04 | #11

    Terje, here is a dash of cold water that may extinguish that flash of light you seem to discern at the end of the deficit tunnel:

    Speaking of these terribly encouraging figures, Douglas Holtz Eakin, former director of the Congressional Budget Office, remarked “One cannot reasonably expect corporate income taxes to grow at double-digit rates forever,” … “It would be prudent to assume that this might not be permanent either.” … “This is tiny compared to the big problem, and it’s on the wrong side of the budget. The big problem is on the spending side.”

    http://www.cavalierdaily.com/CVArticle.asp?ID=27155&pid=1453

  12. July 23rd, 2006 at 10:14 | #12

    MacBank sets its sights on Telstra

    If anyone thinks Telstra is bad now, wait until the MacQuarie Bank gets its hands on it. Telstra customers will be paying through their noses for the multi-milion dollar salaries of the MacBank’s employees and investor returns.

  13. Terje
    July 23rd, 2006 at 11:51 | #13

    Katz,

    My interest in the US deficit is pretty low, although I have little doubt that it is a spending problem. My question was about tax revenues. I am interested in the drivers of tax revenue. From this discussion so far it seems that random forces play a big part and that revenue is somewhat independent of reality. Personally I was hoping for some more profound insights, however beggers can’t be choosers I guess.

    Regards,
    Terje.

  14. July 23rd, 2006 at 12:26 | #14

    Does anyone here have an AFR membership? It has this story on its homepage today: Ian McLachlan: Why he did it. It was quoted on “The Insiders” this morning.

    I’d love to know more!

  15. July 23rd, 2006 at 15:19 | #15

    After a comment over on the norton soon catalaxative blog I’m curious about the price of a big mac as an international comparison.

    I think the original logic was that the cost of labour, materials, transport, utilities would be (largely) captured in the price of a big mac so that it served as a reasonable proxy of the comparative price of living.

    However looking at the price of a big mac in a few countries lately (Lebanon being one) made me wonder if perhaps there isn’t also a “luxury” element or what the market will bear element in the price, thereby making it not so useful.

    Any comments?

  16. July 23rd, 2006 at 18:13 | #16

    FXH,

    I think the idea is that a Big Mac is a Big Mac is a Big Mac wherever you go, so the Economist is comparing like with like to hazard a guess at Purchasing Power Parity. It’s an interesting approximation but it’s not what academic social scientists use. They generally rely on the cost of a standardised ‘basket of goods’. The World Bank’s basket, if I recall correctly, includes all goods and services available in an economy. This isn’t without it’s own problems either though. See: http://socialanalysis.org/

  17. David Michie
    July 23rd, 2006 at 18:33 | #17

    Quote from Ian McLachlan on the front page of the weekend AFR:

    I might be old-fashioned but I find it just incredible that an absolute arrangement was made for John’s benefit, which I was part of, and later it can all be denied by somebody like John. I just find, and have found, that incredible over the last five years

    The key point being:

    and later it can all be denied by somebody like John

    Well, d’uh! Of course it will be denied by somebody like John. John is a pathological liar.

  18. Derick Cullen
    July 23rd, 2006 at 20:02 | #18

    FX Holden: “I think the original logic was that the cost of labour, materials, transport, utilities would be (largely) captured in the price of a big mac so that it served as a reasonable proxy of the comparative price of living. ”

    The big mac kinda substitutes for the basket of goods used in PPP (Purchasing Power Parity) comparisons used more formally. How both PPPs and the Big Mac perform may be judged not only by comparisons with each other but by comparisons with currency exchange rates.

    By and large the big mac performs reasonably in lockstep with currency markets, suggesting that there is little “cultural” bias. I guess it also says that rich young things the world over are subject to the same peer pressures and advertising impacts.

    Check out the Economist website for more on the big mac index.

    Unfortunately, it averages the EEC area, thus not letting me disprove a theory prevalent before monetary union that prices would be the same for a given commodity/service all over the union. It averages the Champs Elysee big M with that of Piraeus (amongst others), which I think is outrageous given the variance between Switzerland (top Big Mac cost in USD equivalent) and other places in their data.

    BTW, the US data at least averages regional Big Ms, so you can get a handle on NY/Chicago/California relativities.

  19. Helen
    July 24th, 2006 at 09:54 | #19

    FXH, I hope you’ll check out the price of a Big Mac on Craggy Island when you go there.

  20. Terje (say TAY-A)
    July 24th, 2006 at 11:29 | #20

    I’m curious about the price of a big mac as an international comparison.

    I think the idea is that a Big Mac is a consumer good that is relatively international and fungible.

    I think it would make more sence if the world used a benchmark “unit of account” by comparing the wholesale price of flour in various nations. Flour should be a reasonable proxy for bread and has a reasonable shelf life. Of course I think gold grams would be better still but that is another conversation entirely.

    In my view the management of inflation using domestic consumer goods, instead of international commodity goods, leads to unnecessary exchange rate turbulence without achieving anything superior in the way of domestic price stablity. A bit like the way that a cat chasing it’s tail causes a lot of turbulence but does not make any more progress than a cat that is sleeping.

  21. July 24th, 2006 at 11:42 | #21

    The Economist has always made it plain that it views the index as a “lighter” look at PPP, so I would suggest that getting worked up about it is probably taking it too far.
    It is interesting and a bit of fun, but, as terence correctly (IMHO) points out it should not be used for anything serious.
    Terje – basing anything on one commodity, even flour, (again, IMHO) puts too much weight on the demand and supply conditions for that commodity. Relative prices between commodities, other goods and services are important too – but lets leve gold out of this one.
    BTW, if you want to make a point on this and have some time to read through a very long thread (1400+ comments – many by Graeme Bird, and as such abusive) the one at Catallaxy on this was good.

  22. Terje (say TAY-A)
    July 24th, 2006 at 13:33 | #22

    Andrew,

    Gold is not going to go away so it can’t hurt if we leave gold out of the dicussion for a while.

    Commodity prices are more representative of monetary over-expansion (or under-expansion) than consumer goods. In particular they respond quicker to such errors and if used to manage monetary policy they allow a more timely adjustment to correct such errors.

    Keynes proposed the Bancor which was to be tied to a commodity index that included about 30 commodities. So it would deal with your concern about produce specific supply/demand anomolies. I think that a Bancor is more necessary than ever but unfortunately not very likely.

    I think the Big Mac as a unit of account is good starting point for such discussions in so far as it is fungible and international. However given that it is not priced in spot markets there may be a lot of lag between adjustments in exchange rates and wholesale price circumstances before the domestic price of Big Macs responds. Like most consumer goods it is a lagging indicator.

    It is telling that last time the world used a commodity price to manage monetary policy we had:-

    1. Pretty stable domestic prices pretty much everywhere.
    2. Stable exchange rates.
    3. Stable commodity prices. (Month to Month the Oil price was nearly flat).

    Regards,
    Terje.

    P.S. On the following chart Oil is normalised and shown in blue. The line in red is for the normalised price of some unmentionable shiny metal.

    http://members.optusnet.com.au/~terjep/GOLD/PRICES/gold-oil-1955-2003-log.gif

  23. Ernestine Gross
    July 24th, 2006 at 13:55 | #23

    PPP, International Trade and the Big Mac Index.

    I agree with Andrew that the Big Mac Index in the Economist is not to be taken too seriously.

    However, looking at the reactions of people to the Big Mac Index is quite instructive. For example, very few people seem to notice that ‘PPP’ is an old idea from international trade theory but the Big Mac is not an internationally traded commodity (although in some parts of the world, some inputs in the production of this thing, called Big Mac, are imported.) The international bit about the Big Mac is primarily that it is produced in various locations all over the world by a multinational corporation and the old international trade theory and international monetary theory (ie the one Terje and his colleague from the Libertarian party) keep on referrring to) does not incorporate multinational firms. I suppose not everybody will see the humour in it.

  24. Terje (say TAY-A)
    July 24th, 2006 at 14:07 | #24

    the old international trade theory and international monetary theory … does not incorporate multinational firms.

    Can you clarify this statement for me. Are you saying that the “old theory” fails because of multinational firms or just that multinational firms were not around when the “old theory” was formulated.

  25. July 24th, 2006 at 15:01 | #25

    thanks everyone for the spirited replys to my simple Big Mac query.

    If it may help I was /am under no illusions that the Big Mac should replace a “basket of goods” and currency comparisons and sensible analysis. However if I want to do a quick flick while wondering how things might compare the Big Mac is useful enough.

    Not that I have any intentions of eating any. and it always amuses me to see maccas as a symbol of high spending style in some countries. It’s especially funny, coming from Melbourne, to see Starbucks in Asia, with cache, although to be fair it’s years since I’ve been to Queensland and Starbucks may well be a high class coffee shop up there.

  26. Ernestine Gross
    July 24th, 2006 at 15:10 | #26

    Terje, why don’t you pass the question on to your colleague, John Humphreys. If he has questions, let him write.

  27. July 24th, 2006 at 15:27 | #27

    Francis,
    Perth is, as yet, Starbucks free. We were Big Mac free for years as well, due to a copyright issue.
    I suppose Charbucks will have some caché for a while here once it arrives. It should not last beyond about the 20th store.

  28. July 24th, 2006 at 21:23 | #28

    For a long time silver tracked economic value fairly well, once you had adjusted for sepeculative attacks. This was because about half the world’s supply is a byproduct of other activities, rather than deliberate mining of silver, and there was a fairly steady need (I do not say demand) for silver for industrial purposes.

    Taking both of those together, silver would have made a better store of value than gold, and a better proxy of value than flour. But latterly there have been technological shifts reducing the needs for silver.

  29. Terje
    July 25th, 2006 at 09:47 | #29

    Ernestine,

    I really don’t understand what you are up to by telling me to discuss this monetary issue with John Humphrey. Perhaps you are refering to the discussion he and I had on this matter recently at libertarian.org.au. For those not in the know JH and I disagreed quite strongly over monetary policy. JH thinks the status quo is fine whilst I think it is baddly flawed.

    Anyway, please elaborate Ernestine because I don’t see what you are trying to achieve.

    Regards,
    Terje.

  30. Ernestine Gross
    July 25th, 2006 at 14:17 | #30

    Terje,

    You quote from my post: “the old international trade theory and international monetary theory … does not incorporate multinational firms.”

    You ask: “Can you clarify this statement for me. Are you saying that the “old theoryâ€? fails because of multinational firms or just that multinational firms were not around when the “old theoryâ€? was formulated. ”

    I reply: The answer to your question is in the quote.

  31. StephenL
    July 25th, 2006 at 14:18 | #31

    The references to the Big Mac index sparked a thought in my mind. It used to be said by certain people, mostly with neocon leanings, that no two countries with McDonald’s stores had been at war. This was supposed to prove something about the peace-enahncing effects of capitalism and transnational corporations.

    I believe that there was a McDonalds in Serbia when it was bombed in 1999, but someone wrote an article claiming this was the exception that proved the rule (can’t remember why). However, since Israel has kosher versions of McDonalds, if Lebannon has the golden arches too then I guess the claim can be considered dead.

  32. Terje
    July 25th, 2006 at 17:44 | #32

    Ernestine,

    You may be right. However I don’t understand how or why or even if you are right.

    Regards,
    Terje.

  33. July 25th, 2006 at 19:23 | #33

    Terje,
    It must be interesting to ask Ernestine a question in a lecture. The response would be almost guaranteed to induce more confusion than the initial statement.
    Reminds me of Orac, from Blake’s Seven, who, when asked a question, would occasionally just testily say “The answer is obvious” and then leave the humans to painstakingly plough through mountains of data rather than just answer the question and save everyone’s time.

  34. Ernestine Gross
    July 25th, 2006 at 21:18 | #34

    Terje, would you mind giving Andrew the original question? He seems to be confused.

  35. July 25th, 2006 at 23:12 | #35

    Ernestine,

    The answer to your question is in the discussion history.

    Regards,
    Terje.

  36. Ernestine Gross
    July 25th, 2006 at 23:42 | #36

    True, Terje. Your original question is in the discussion history. I suppose its up to Andrew now to find it.

    PS: Congratulations to your third child – belated, I know.

  37. July 25th, 2006 at 23:46 | #37

    Sorry, Ernestine, but you must have mistaken me for someone who cares.

  38. July 25th, 2006 at 23:48 | #38

    It must be interesting to ask Ernestine a question in a lecture. The response would be almost guaranteed to induce more confusion than the initial statement.

    Interesting is one word for it.

    I have this view that in common communication it frequently makes sence to check for understanding by asking for clarification when you feel uncertain about a persons intent on specific details and to test your understanding of their statements by paraphrasing what you understood of what you just heard/read and asking if you have paraphrased correctly.

    The reason for this testing process is that each of us carry around certain perception filters and each of us make statements with some implicity assumptions. So to overcome potential mismatches between what is meant, what is said, what is heard and what is understood there is a need for some error correcting protocols.

    Most people don’t check enough to see that they have understood others, but they certainly respond appropriately if you check your understanding with them. They handle this naturally as a part of every day dialogue. Until I met Ernestine I took for granted this normal process of discourse by which somebody would clarify things if you said they seemed unclear or correct you if you paraphrased incorrectly.

    With Ernestine a request for clarification always seems to open up a guessing game where he tries to get you to guess his original intent by pointing you to various clues. This is very tiresome and usually entails a long digression away from the original topic. Conversation subsequently does not flow easily.

    With Ernestine an attempt to test your understanding of one of his statements by paraphrasing invariable leads to an accusation that you have misquoted him or else an implication that you are perhaps dim (or maybe just not as smart as him). Rather than just saying “what I meant was…”. This also tends to end up in a guessing game.

    He also takes statements made by others that are broadly correct and then dismisses them because of technicalities. For instance when I said “interest rates are the price of credit” he played a game of cat and mouse with the fact that percentages have no units and hence can not be a price. A technicality that he was well positioned to simply correct but instead used as a means to reject the entire original statement as simply wrong. In communication terms he would seem that his receivers lack an inbuild error correction system.

    I suspect that the main problem is an overdose of cerebral activity. He spends so much time analysing that he misses the art of communication. Not deliberately or out of malice but as a matter of habit. I think he also views the normal protocols of dialogue as merely inefficient overhead. If he was a communications engineer he would hate X.25.

    Anyway I have made it my minor mission to reform him. For the sake of his students, and because he seems like a nice guy with a sharp intellect and some interesting insights.

  39. James Farrell
    July 26th, 2006 at 00:06 | #39

    If you think Ernestine is obscure, you should meet his brothers Maxine, Pauline and Christine.

  40. Terje (say TAY-A)
    July 26th, 2006 at 00:19 | #40

    It is not very nice to make fun of peoples names. And yes I know that I have a vested interest in saying so.

  41. Ernestine Gross
    July 26th, 2006 at 01:40 | #41

    Terje, I am a female. No apology required.
    Surely, there is nothing wrong with all of us finishing the day with a good laugh.

    James, which monitoring program do you use? Your timing of recovering the ‘male choir line’ is impressive. I didn’t wish to reply today – it was just perfect.

    Its interesting, isn’t it, that gender is irrelevant as long as the game is to play the ball rather than the player and gender turns out to be a critical variable (in a technical sense) when the game is to play the player rather than the ball. I got two observations from the accidental experiment which came to my mind spontaneously when reading your male choir line some time back. It was a good line.

  42. James Farrell
    July 26th, 2006 at 09:59 | #42

    Ernestine, I was uncomfortable recycling my own joke so soon. But if the penny didn’t drop for Terje the first time (and I think in fact he’s had more than one hint), how much time can one afford to spend on thinking up new ones?

    Anyway, now the gender is cleared up, I think it’s high time the two of you got married.

  43. Ernestine Gross
    July 26th, 2006 at 17:04 | #43

    James,

    I don’t think Terje’s missionary ambitions, involving reformative communications strategies, can ever be married with my interest in theoretical models of non-dictatorial resource allocation systems.

    Terje’s Libertarianism is incompatible with the notion of personal liberty and rationality in the theoretical models of non-dictatorial resource allocation.

    .

  44. July 26th, 2006 at 18:29 | #44

    Ernestine,
    This: “Terje’s Libertarianism is incompatible with the notion of personal liberty and rationality in the theoretical models of non-dictatorial resource allocation”, if I have understood it correctly, is a big call. Do you have analysis that indicates that either:
    a) Terje’s Libertarianism diverges from libertarianism, properly so called, sufficiently to be “…with the notion of personal liberty and rationality in the theoretical models of non-dictatorial resource allocation”;
    b) libertarianism, properly so called, “…is incompatible with the notion of personal liberty and rationality in the theoretical models of non-dictatorial resource allocation”;
    c) some other option I have not thought of that renders this statement correct; or
    d) oops, I have mistyped it
    If you do have such evidence, please either produce or link to it, such evidence or argument to be in a form that a person who is not an academic, can understand and / or follow. If option d, please indicate any typing corrections.
    (There, I think I have covered all bases. Am I going to get just a response like “Option C, and the evidence is in the question?)

  45. Ernestine Gross
    July 26th, 2006 at 19:16 | #45

    Andrew Reynolds,

    I assume you know what you are talking about (rationality). You wrote:

    “Sorry, Ernestine, but you must have mistaken me for someone who cares. ”

    I strictly prefer to spend my time communicating with people who care (liberty).

    QED

  46. Terje (say TAY-A)
    July 26th, 2006 at 20:58 | #46

    Terje, I am a female. No apology required.

    That was a rapid communication improvement.

  47. Ernestine Gross
    July 26th, 2006 at 21:23 | #47

    Why? The information that I am a female has been public knowledge on this blog site for a long time. Ask Andrew.

  48. Terje (say TAY-A)
    July 26th, 2006 at 21:44 | #48

    I was working on an assumption that was wrong. Rather than provide the usual easter egg hunt of clues you cut to the chase and pointed out the exact nature of the error. I regard that as a huge improvement in communication style. Issue resolved in one step instead of 50.

  49. Ernestine Gross
    July 27th, 2006 at 00:04 | #49

    Such are your perceptions, Terje. The truth is closer to:

    “But if the penny didn’t drop for Terje the first time (and I think in fact he’s had more than one hint), how much time can one afford to spend on thinking up new ones?”

    It takes a long time to tease out from your verbal communications technology one implicit assumption (gender). It would take a very long time (and I am not convinced it would happen in finite time) to tease out all the implicit assumptions in all your statements. No offence intended, but I have better things to do with my time.

  50. Terje (say TAY-A)
    July 27th, 2006 at 00:28 | #50

    It takes a long time to tease out from your verbal communications technology one implicit assumption (gender).

    Actually it took seconds. The assumption that you are male is now gone.

    Will I ever make such a mistake based on an assumption again. Yes quite possibly. However should it happen it is not a time consuming mistake to fix (although obviously better to avoid in the first place).

    My first name is such that people have on occasion assumed that I am female. It has never required much investment of time to correct such an assumptions. Although I did have to think for a few minutes about how to reword my prefered announcement on my mobile phone messaging service so that the call centre workers didn’t make follow on statements such as “does she have your number?”.

    Your own “implicit assumption” that it takes a long time to tease out implicit assumptions would probably be somewhat mitigated if you adopted a direct communication style rather than a “tease” it out approach.

  51. Terje (say TAY-A)
    July 27th, 2006 at 00:41 | #51

    If you do have such evidence, please either produce or link to it, such evidence or argument to be in a form that a person who is not an academic, can understand and / or follow.

    Andrew,

    Do you not yet know how many angles can fit on the head of a pin?

    Regards,
    Terje.

  52. Terje (say TAY-A)
    July 27th, 2006 at 00:55 | #52

    That should be “angels” not “angles”.

  53. Ernestine Gross
    July 27th, 2006 at 16:31 | #53

    Terje says:

    Quote: “I was working on an assumption that was wrong”

    Yes. Only one?

    Quote: “Rather than provide the usual easter egg hunt of clues you cut to the chase and pointed out the exact nature of the error. I regard that as a huge improvement in communication style. Issue resolved in one step instead of 50. ”

    Thanks for your advice but I wouldn’t pay a dime for it:

    Your ‘communications’ writing style does not allow the reader to distinguish between your assumptions and facts regarding personal information.

    You want me to correct your false assumptions about matters relating to my person.

    Superficially this is a clever idea because, if I were to do as you want me to, I would reveal personal information.

    Tough luck, Terje, I won’t play this game.

    It is you who is responsible for your writing. Any misinformation, confusion or misunderstanding generated by your message is your responsibility, not mine.

    So far, you have extracted exactly no private information from me. As I said, the information about my gender was already public. I chose when to make it public.

    You may wish to explain to all of us why the following web-sites pop up when one right-clicks your name “Terje (say Tay-a)� on your post dated 21 June 2006, 11:48 pm, which contains your missive in question.

    http://auriumexchange.com/forum/index.php, which changes to http://img339.imageshack.us/img339/6240/turkbayragihackedbybatuhanturkac0.jpg

    I have written to John Quiggin about the hidden link on your name and I have asked other persons to check on the hidden link.

  54. Terje (say TAY-A)
    July 27th, 2006 at 17:16 | #54

    I have written to John Quiggin about the hidden link on your name and I have asked other persons to check on the hidden link.

    I am not really sure why, however knock yourself out.

    John Quiggin provides the fascility to have a link. It is the field called “website” that is below your name and email address when you add a comment. There is a link associated with my name but there is no mystery about it. You will find that my later posts no longer link to the site in question. The site has recently come under attack. That is why I recently stopped linking to it. Although on some PCs that I use the details were in the cache and this may have caused me to accidently continue linking even after I decided to stop.

    Quote: “I was working on an assumption that was wrong�

    Yes. Only one?

    I will be the first to admit that I make mistakes. No doubt I will in time discover other assumptions that I hold about the world that are wrong. In one way I actually find such events very rewarding. It is called learning. I have heard it said that people who make mistakes learn more than those that never make mistakes.

    You want me to correct your false assumptions about matters relating to my person.

    Only if they concern you. My point is merely that there are efficient ways to correct somebodies false assumption and an inefficient ways. For some reasons (perhaps habit or mirth) you don’t seem very accustomed to using efficient ways. At least not in my experience.

    Superficially this is a clever idea because, if I were to do as you want me to, I would reveal personal information.

    Now you are making an assumption. You are assuming that I am after your personal information. That seems somewhat paranoid. Your the one that follows peoples “hidden links”. If you wish to conceal things about yourself I have no problem respecting that. Although obviously some things (eg your opinion, insight etc) are going to be sought if we are engaged in dialogue.

  55. July 27th, 2006 at 17:34 | #55

    Ernestine Gross, I can vouch for Terje’s website being hacked. He seems to be another victim of Batuhan-Türk, a serial hacker who mainly targets message boards, especially those ones powered by phpBB. A simple google of the term ‘Batuhan-Türk’ will reveal a plethora of other boards that have been similarly hacked.

  56. Ernestine Gross
    July 27th, 2006 at 19:35 | #56

    alpaca, are you the hacker?

  57. Terje (say TAY-A)
    July 28th, 2006 at 00:41 | #57

    Ah!!! I notice that Alpaca has a “hidden link”. Very tricky. Maybe Alpaca has personal details also. Very suspicious. We better report it to JQ pronto.

  58. Ernestine Gross
    July 28th, 2006 at 01:35 | #58

    Terje,
    Subject: Efficient communication. Reply to your post of 27 July 5:16 pm.

    1. I did not ask whether you are ‘really sure’ why I wrote to John Quiggin and I did not ask for your advice on possible consequences.

    2. I understand you acknowledge that your post on JQ’s blog was hacked via your outside link, you knew you had been ‘attacked’ but you have an inefficient IT protocol to prevent ‘accidentally’ linking to your contaminated site, and your verbal communication protocol does not include the requirement of informing JQ and the commentators about your inefficient IT protocol. Is there anything I have misunderstood?

    3. I put to you, there are more efficient verbal communication protocols available than your preferred one. Moreover, under the public education system I know, these relatively more efficient verbal communication protocols are taught from primary school on with increasing levels of sophistication.
    A) One relatively more efficient verbal communication protocol is commonly known as grammatical writing.
    To illustrate its power and efficiency, consider the following 3 sentences:
    i. You want me to correct your false assumptions about matters relating to my person.
    ii. Do you want me to correct your false assumptions about matters relating to my person?
    iii. Only if they concern you.
    Sentence i is a descriptive statement.
    Sentence ii is a question.
    Sentence iii is a conditional statement.

    Sentence iii is a reply to sentence ii (although without clear information content). Sentence iii is not a reply to sentence i.

    I wrote sentence i. You subsequently wrote sentence iii.

    Your reply makes no sense.

    Without making any assumption about your motivation, I observe that you have substituted a question for my statement and then you replied to your question. I conclude that you are talking to yourself and I have nothing to do with the outcome of your conversation.

    B) “Superficially this is a clever idea because, if I were to do as you want me to, I would reveal personal information.
    Now you are making an assumption.�

    No, Terje, it is not me who is making an assumption, it is you who is making an assumption about me making an assumption. If I am making an assumption I say so, unless I make an error. If you suspect that I made an error (most people make errors although at different rates), there is this wonderful communication tool, called a question.

    C) “You are assuming that I am after your personal information.�
    No Terje, I made no assumption about your motivation. I wrote a statement which makes explicit what happens if someone would follow your advice on ‘verbal communication protocols’.

    D) “Your the one that follows peoples “hidden links�.

    No Terje, you are making an unsubstantiated assertion which excludes the possibility of accidental discovery. The verbal communication protocol, called English grammar, is much more efficient than your method because it allows for you to ask a question. The relevant question is: How did you discover this hidden link? I would immediately answer such a clear question. But you did not ask.

    E) “If you wish to conceal things about yourself I have no problem respecting that.�

    Terje, your verbal communication protocol is so inefficient that my message to you has been lost and replaced by something that makes no sense at all in relation to my post. So here is my message to you again:

    It is you (Terje) who is responsible for your writing. Any misinformation, confusion or misunderstanding generated by your message is your responsibility, not mine.

    Terje, I’ve come to the conclusion that your preferred verbal communication protocol is extremely inefficient.

    I am disappointed about the inefficiency of your own IT protocol and about your nonchalance regarding exposing the JQ blog site to hackers via your site. I understand you have expertise in IT.

  59. Terje (say TAY-A)
    July 28th, 2006 at 10:27 | #59

    I am disappointed about the inefficiency of your own IT protocol and about your nonchalance regarding exposing the JQ blog site to hackers via your site.

    I suggest to you that raising this concern about my inefficiency with IT protocol is an aggressive/defensive response to my criticism of your communication style. This is very human. It is an interesting point you raise but I think I will address some of your other points first and maybe return to this issue later.

    Sentence i is a descriptive statement.
    Sentence ii is a question.
    Sentence iii is a conditional statement.

    I did not substitute a question for sentence (i). Clearly sentence (i) is a statement. It is a statement that I regard as being incorrect. Sentence (iii) is a qualifying statement that improves the accuracy (in my view) of sentence (i). As such I don’t see any grammatical problem.

    For example person-A might offer a statement such as “Eggs are green”. And person-B may respond “Only when they are bad”. Person-B is not incorrectly interpreting the first statement as a question but rather is offering a qualifying statement.

    There is a stuctural difference between formal english, such as one may use in an essay or report, and conversational english. In my experience it is the latter form that people adopt in the comment section of blogs and in web forums.

    I think you are right to infer that a question is superior to an assumption. However dialogue is always going to include assumptions. When somebody appears to have made an assumption that prejudices their understanding of your statements then it is efficient to point out the apparent assumption. Efficient in the sence that it avoids the subsequent accumulation of communication errors.

    I accept that it is not your responsibility what other people think. However if you wish to communicate effectively with other people then you need to care about the thoughts that get created in their mind in response to your utterances. The skill involved is called empathy. The communication channel between one mind and another is often a noisey one. That noise has many sources but includes the personal baggage carried by the receipient of your message. You are not responsible for the existance of that personal baggage however if it is your aim to communicate effectively with them then you need to check for understanding and correct misunderstanding. The sooner the better.

    You make a similar point yourself when you say:-

    Any misinformation, confusion or misunderstanding generated by your message is your responsibility, not mine.

    This obviously cuts both ways. If people get confused by your utterances then you have some responsibility even if your grammar was perfect. I would qualify it further by saying that communication is a collaberative effort.

    In interviewing people who have english as a second language I sometimes encounter people who are terrific natural communicators. They often have terrible grammar but can communicate well in spite of it. I also meet people who have great grammar but are lousy communicators. Grammar is a subset of communication however it is far from being all encompassing.

    I think you are an excellant writer and your grammar is probably superior to most people. In terms of communication I think you have yet to achieve your full potential. However given how bright you obviously are (PhD and all) I think that with some concerted effort you will improve over time.

  60. July 28th, 2006 at 11:27 | #60

    Terje,
    It is incredible how some people can be supremely educated, yet incapable of communicating meaning.
    .
    Ernestine,
    The “hidden link” is not even hidden. It is the same colour as the other links on this site, as it is in mine. Terje has not “exposed” PrQ’s site to hacking. The fact that the site that Terje links to has been hacked means no more, nor any less, then the site he links to has been hacked.
    From what you have said, I understand you have little expertise in IT – which makes it three areas identified in which you have little expertise.
    Keep going – we will identify others.

  61. Terje
    July 28th, 2006 at 12:28 | #61

    Andrew,

    It should be of little surprise that people are not proficient at everything. I think that education and training are the only remedies on offer so I would caution against tarnishing the notion of being an educated person. I offer criticism of Ernestine from a position of frustration, not from one of perfection. If my preaching to her falls on deaf ears then ultimately I have also demonstrated short commings in the communication endeavour. Hopefully we are all still learning.

  62. July 28th, 2006 at 13:48 | #62

    Terje,
    I have been having this type of problem with Ernestine for a little while. I am not optimistic that a solution is in the immediate future.
    I also hope we are all learning. My discussion with James on the doomsayers thread is teaching me that the “deep greens” here have even less of an idea about how they are going to get to their idea of sustainability than I thought.

  63. July 28th, 2006 at 15:56 | #63

    Ernestine Gross accusation:

    alpaca, are you the hacker?

    No, I’m not. Are you?

  64. Terje (say TAY-A)
    July 28th, 2006 at 15:59 | #64

    Technically it was a question not an accusation.

  65. sdfc
    July 28th, 2006 at 23:08 | #65

    Its a boreathon.

  66. Terje
    August 1st, 2006 at 08:17 | #66

    I recall being told once that only boring people get bored.

Comments are closed.