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Last of the Mohicans/Singing the same old song

January 1st, 2010

For me the big change that came with the last decade was blogging. I started in 2002, and it’s been a big part of my life (sometimes too big) ever since. So, when it came to review the decade, the obvious place to look was the Wayback Machine, which captured my old blogspot blog on 27 July 2002. Looking at the blog as it was then, two things jump out at me

* Looking at the blogroll, I feel like the last of the Mohicans. The bloggers of those days have nearly all retired, and almost no-one runs a solo blog like this one anymore.

* I’m singing the same song now as I was all those years ago. The top post on the page is about how the financial crisis has discredited the efficient markets hypothesis, trickle down economics, privatisation and so on. Of course that was the dotcom financial crisis of 2000-01. I think a few more people are paying attention this time around, but we will have to wait and see.

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  1. charles
    January 1st, 2010 at 07:54 | #1

    There is no doubt the system is unstable and unsustainable. But I it has another cycle in it before something in done. As each cycle pours a lot of money into the bubble before it burst, and good things are left behind, I was hoping for a Green bubble this time around.

  2. Alice
    January 1st, 2010 at 10:01 | #2

    I think JQ you have only been saying what a growing body have been thinking out there…thank goodness for your blog. It gives others a chance to raise their concerns. Of particular concern to me has been the accompanying debasement and diminution of the public sector. With respect JQ you even work (IMHO) in one of the worst casualties of the growing mania for privatisation…universities. It doesnt take too much much to notice how it has affected these institutions in Australia over the past 15 to twenty years….not well for the knowledge base, not necessarily well for the quality of output due to pressure for qantity over quality, not well for staff in terms of support and security in their work lives, and certainly not well for students.

  3. nanks
    January 1st, 2010 at 11:47 | #3

    not surprised you still have to ‘sing that same song’ – taht’s consistent with Planck’s famous “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it. ”
    Doubly so for any idea in conflict with where the money’s at.

  4. BilB
    January 1st, 2010 at 12:35 | #4

    A good song well sung is worth hearing again. And again.

  5. Ken
    January 1st, 2010 at 15:43 | #5

    Thank you JQ for your informed posts on a variety of subjects. And thank you for allowing others to comment and express their varied opinions with relative freedom.

  6. Fran Barlow
    January 1st, 2010 at 16:53 | #6

    Earliest I could get on wayback was this:

    Fenruray 21, 2004

    Stuff on Iraq, What kind of postmodernist are you … who was that woman in the image — she looks familiar, albeit nothing like a Mohican … 😉

  7. Alice
    January 1st, 2010 at 18:59 | #7

    @Fran Barlow
    The girl in the image looks vaguely like a cross between Dita Von Teese, Kelly Osborne, Wednesday Addams and Patti Smith!

  8. Alice
    January 1st, 2010 at 19:25 | #8

    Here is JQ in 2002 arguing against the economic rationalist view……the first time I ever heard this expression (which has now passed its used by date…in favour of what? economic liberalism….efficient flexible labour markets? ) was actually about ten years before 2002. I was a student and suddenly, it seemed out of nowhere, the phrase “economic rationalism” was adopted by not one but about three of my lecturers in close succession (one in an economics undergrad subject, one in corporate finance and the other one in a management subject).

    I recall thinking, “this is weird” – three different subjects in the same year pushing this idea that “economic rationalism” , when asked for an explanation, meant…the markets would work everything out the best, if only we didnt “intervene”.

    I recall thinking these thoughts, “something doesnt smell right”….”this is starting to look like a religion”…”how come more than one of my lecturers seem to have caught the same disease at the same time”…and finally “this just aint going to work…have they gone mad?.”

    Terrible thing for a student to start to wonder about the credibility of one’s lecturers.

  9. plaasmatron
    January 1st, 2010 at 19:37 | #9

    It’s a very good thing for a student to start to wonder about the credibility of one’s lecturer’s. It implies an inquiring mind that doesn’t tow the line. We need much more of it.

  10. nanks
    January 1st, 2010 at 20:02 | #10

    dunno about that – I think it best to have an education where students can respect their lecturers as quality intellectuals but nonetheless be open to and keen to test the ideas presented.

  11. Alice
    January 1st, 2010 at 20:21 | #11

    I think its important to be aware of fads which can also sweep through the intelligentsia…
    some types of academic activities and studies are rewarded more readily than other types. Doesnt mean its wise policy.

  12. jquiggin
    January 1st, 2010 at 20:39 | #12

    @Fran Barlow
    That’s the first appearance of johnquiggin.com as opposed to johnquiggin.blogspot.com. The woman in the picture is a quizilla illustration!

  13. Donald Oats
    January 2nd, 2010 at 03:17 | #13

    I’m glad that your blog was here for me to stumble across. Sometimes a good ol’ fashioned argument develops and thrashes out the odd idea hiding in the thickets, which is a lot more than can be said for what constitutes an argument in the modern Australian news article. The difference is usually one of intelligence compared to idiocy respectively, although occasionally transposed 😀

    The decline of print could in my opinion be measured by the rise of the ubiquitous PR-sculpted media release. The modern news article shows no inquisitiveness by the writer – not author, in most cases – and the resultant storyline is dictated by ideological battlelines, with cut-n-paste decisions of paragraphs from the media release to news print chosen accordingly. Even in the case of scientific news items. Especially in the case of scientific news items! What’s wrong with ringing up the original sources behind the PR handouts and getting a more interesting story? Ask Murdoch and the beancounters.

    Anyway, as a non-economist I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the journey this blog has taken me on for the last 3 or 4 years since I stumbled across it. A continuing stream of good choice of topics spanning economics, politics, climate science and environmental issues, and the off-beat, has kept this blog running fresh where many others have withered for staleness. I sincerely hope you keep it up and running for a while yet, Pr Q.

  14. Donald Oats
    January 2nd, 2010 at 03:19 | #14

    PS: And it’s provided reading material when insomnia has hit, like right now!

  15. Alice
    January 2nd, 2010 at 07:16 | #15

    @Donald Oats
    Perhaps a few cracks are emerging in the Murdoch media Don…but then I often note that when we are between elections with quite a way to go…you can get decent and balanced reporting. Come the lead into elections (or wars) his media empire usually turns hard right with a vengeance. Nice picture of a new and up coming economist page 5 Weekend Business (you cant see the the little angel in this link) with a label that says “it is hoped young economists will be the salvation of the profession.”


    And for Fran

    Aunt Meanie Miranda is pouring her usual bile on that lovely movie Avatar……what a nasty old Xmas Scrooge she is.


    Perhaps we need a tranquilizer dart for Aunty Meanie.. and some old fashioned good advice… “surrender the war of your own creation”. Shades of the heart of darkness and the madness of Kurtz exists in her own party- with rogue generals out of line and out of touch with the rank and file and the voters… yet the conservatives still hope to keep this tired old internally generated McCarthyist war of lefties and righties going….

    Miranda…how many more times must she bore us before she retires to Maybrook Manor?


  16. John H
    January 2nd, 2010 at 07:29 | #16

    Terrible thing for a student to start to wonder about the credibility of one’s lecturers.

    There was a study released some time ago which demonstrated that while teachers in survey questionnaires stated they preferred creative thinking in their students in class they actually demonstrated a greater liking for students who towed the line. That’s just human nature, as it is human nature for some to pre-suppose some animistic notions about the power of the market. The market works but it needs regulation and we need to be very careful over estimating its utility. Saul Bellow, that wonderful American Jewish writer, once quipped: “democracy might be saved if served the occupant rather than the buck.” That highlights one of the central problems in the neoliberal agenda: just let the market do its stuff and everything will work out for the best. Have we got things arse about face, is society in the service of the economy?

  17. Freelander
    January 2nd, 2010 at 08:25 | #17

    “… a few more people are paying attention this time around, but we will have to wait and see…”
    They are amazingly resilient and seem perfectly able to amble and ramble on, even with multiple stakes through where their hearts should be. The Australian now seem to have reduced their staff overheads even more, with much of the paper filled by material from the IPA and CIS and so on. Presumably they don’t pay them for that muck?

    Happy New Year and Decade everyone!

  18. Fran Barlow
    January 2nd, 2010 at 09:06 | #18


    The odd thing is that I read the Miranda Devile review and like that in the Blot it couldn’t actually speak to anyone who wasn’t already a rightwing misanthrope.

    Interestingly, (like a left-of-centre blogger, P Z Myers), she compared it unfavourably with District 9. How she concluded that this film was less anti-human than Avatar is hard to fathom. There were no positive human characters in District 9 at all. At best, some were less nasty. She also totally missed the fact that District 9. like Avatar, was an allegory about human nastiness to other humans — in the first instance, apartheid and the townships policy but more generally about refugees. How unsurprising. Myers liked District 9 becase it failed to make the aliens attractive and so forced us to confront the question of what is intrinsically ‘grievable’ (to borrow from Butler) about others.

    One might add that one never needs an excuse to paint pretty pictures and Avatar certainly is that. Taking pleasure in community speaks to virtually every human’s notion of authentic happiness. While one recognises Utopia is by definition impossible, the struggle to reach it is a worthy thing, and if Avatar predisposes those who are unthinkinkingly instrumental and self-focused to enlarge their vista to be mindful of their relationships with the ecosystem and others sharing it then the movie has already contributed something valuable to human culture.

  19. John H
    January 2nd, 2010 at 09:16 | #19

    @Fran Barlow
    Myers liked District 9 becase it failed to make the aliens attractive and so forced us to confront the question of what is intrinsically ‘grievable’ (to borrow from Butler) about others.

    Just saw District Nine two nights ago. The aliens could also be construed as being indicative of what happens to human behavior when you sequester them into ghettos and like environments. After having read “Human Behavior in the Concentration Camp” by E. Cohen, a psychiatrist and holocaust survivor, I do not find the behaviour of the aliens andor humans reprehensible but rather as an example of what happens when you sequester …

  20. iain
    January 2nd, 2010 at 12:50 | #20

    The politics of D9 is far more interesting than Avatar. But the rwdb’s response to Avatar has been entertaining none the less.

    The reason why they attack Avatar, of course, has more to do with it’s audience reach and the corrupting green (blue?) influence on the kiddies.

  21. Alice
    January 2nd, 2010 at 12:52 | #21

    @Fran Barlow
    Fran – couldnt agree more re this comment “and if Avatar predisposes those who are unthinkinkingly instrumental and self-focused to enlarge their vista to be mindful of their relationships with the ecosystem and others sharing it then the movie has already contributed something valuable to human culture.”

    Thats why Aunt Meanie Miranda is a miserable soul…. she needs to lighten up and stop looking for an ideological demarcation line in everything around us….

  22. Alice
    January 2nd, 2010 at 13:02 | #22

    @John H
    Fran – warning this is a bit rude in parts but it is a funny take on Miranda’s activities

  23. Fran Barlow
    January 2nd, 2010 at 13:20 | #23


    The politics of D9 is far more interesting than Avatar.

    I’m not sure I agree. Both pieces make interesting and substantial politico-cultural claims with important implications for our manner of dealing with others, though as you correctly note, to somewhat different audiences. District 90 is more an attack on existing mores whereas Avatar offers an alternative set to which one can subscribe.

  24. Fran Barlow
    January 2nd, 2010 at 13:26 | #24


    Miranda Devine is, like most reactionaries, fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with her fellow cultural morlochs to make the case for filth, banality and the compliant and desperate humanity that her kind crave, so it’s not surprising that she sees this movie as an instantiation of much that she opposes, and why those of us who affirm equitable collaboration and community take pleasure in its vision of utopia.

  25. nanks
    January 2nd, 2010 at 13:53 | #25

    haven’t seen avatar yet, but saw D9 and was very impressed / loved it. I thought it would probably be cliched and/or narrow and preachy, but I didn’t find that at all. I read it as primarily about ‘this is how a certain type of social organisation will play out’ rather than as a reflection on specific circumstances. Not that there aren’t plenty of specific circumstances it could apply to.

  26. Alice
    January 2nd, 2010 at 14:15 | #26

    @Fran Barlow
    I particularly liked this comment by one of the bloggers when we have all been so overexposed to the politics of hate a division that both Miranda De (withered old)Vine and Janet “Allwrecktsen” have been peddling for years….

    “The likes of Miranda Devine and Janet Albrechtson are loathsome. What infuriates me is that in addition to advocating hateful agendas, they also, with breathtaking hypocrisy, masquerade as arbiters of civility in public discourse.”


  27. paul walter
    January 2nd, 2010 at 15:59 | #27

    Yes, it was amazing stuff.
    Must be very frustrating for Quiggin and co, who can read the signs and are then are ignored and brushed aside by grubs acting for vested interests.
    Thought the snippett about Clintonomics, Rubin and Volcker was facinating.
    I presume some of you are talking about the Defined Miranda’s particularly amusing comments about the movie Avatar as socialist plot.
    Couldn’t stop laughing!
    Time she put the bong away, now xmass is over!
    But yes, “Song Remains the Same”, to quote an old rock song title.

  28. rog
    January 2nd, 2010 at 21:08 | #28

    JQ, this is your first post – if only they had kept an eye on the deficit!

  29. Donald Oats
    January 3rd, 2010 at 01:20 | #29


    You beat me to it, Freelander! I was going to make note of the Australian’s outsourcing deal to IPA and CIS as well. Unbelievable just how many articles per week come from those two organisations directly; then there is all of the indirect stuff. Weevils in the flour.

  30. Fran Barlow
    January 3rd, 2010 at 01:25 | #30

    Oddly, Song remains the same is on Go! right now.

  31. paul walter
    January 3rd, 2010 at 16:52 | #31

    Way to go, yo, Fran.

  32. nanks
    January 3rd, 2010 at 17:03 | #32

    @Fran Barlow
    saw them Adelaide 1972

  33. paul walter
    January 3rd, 2010 at 23:19 | #33

    Me too, Nanks.

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