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Weekend reflections

February 5th, 2010

It’s time again for weekend reflections, which makes space for longer than usual comments on any topic. Civilised discussion and no coarse language please.

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  1. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    February 5th, 2010 at 20:22 | #1

    Six youths, aged between 16 and 18, have been sacked from a Victorian hardware store because the Fair Work Act won’t let them work less than three hours a day.

    The youths and their employer, the Terang and District Co-operative, 210 kilometres south west of Melbourne, had wanted to continue the arrangement where they could work 1.5 hours after school, The Australian newspaper reported today.

    http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/breaking-news/rudd-defends-work-laws-after-teens-sacked/story-e6frf7ko-1225827007317

    Another stupid law messing with peoples lives.

  2. Alice
    February 5th, 2010 at 20:28 | #2

    @TerjeP (say tay-a)
    Give me a break Terje. Another stupid employer messing with the act. Why was the fair work peopel involved? because someone called them…thats why. Maybe one of those kids wanted to work more and the boss said no? Or maybe the boss thought he could use a kid a the parents objected.

    You dont the full story here Terje but if everyone was happy, the schoolkids would be on cash otr an eft thats below the tax threshold and fair work wouldnt have been called in the first place.

    But no employers shouldnt have the right to demand people drive from home (or catch a train) work for an hour and go home.

    Thats exploitation pure and simple. Another stupid employer messing with workers lives Terje?

  3. jquiggin
    February 5th, 2010 at 20:30 | #3

    Alice, I’d like you to take a break for a week. You’re swamping the threads, contrary to my earlier request. When you come back, please try to focus on substantive contributions of your own rather than debates with other commenters.

  4. Alice
    February 5th, 2010 at 20:47 | #4

    Sorry JQ – I may post a lot in a short pace of time but really I do find the constant presence of hard right ideologues rather irritating to say the least and they are worth objecting to. I need a break too. I have made substantive contributions only to have them twisted and denied but thats par for the course. I am sure I am not the only one who finds the neoliberal / political views objectionable and I would suggest I am in in the majority rather than the minority.

  5. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    February 5th, 2010 at 21:43 | #5

    Maybe one of those kids wanted to work more and the boss said no?

    Either the employees didn’t want to work longer shifts or the employer didn’t want them to work longer shifts. Either way the net effect of the law is that they now lose their job. Bravo Mr Rudd.

  6. February 5th, 2010 at 22:25 | #6

    Don’t all laws “mess with peoples lives”?

    “Murdoch’s Law” applies, i.e.: he who uses a quote from a Murdoch outlet in an argument has lost instantly on credibility grounds.

    Sure, it does seem silly that these kids have to work 3 hours or not at all. I’d be willing to bet that it is indeed a shameless beat-up and that there is a way they could keep these jobs, maybe get an ABN and call them “contractors”? That’s what everyone else does, no compo, holidays, super, sick leave etc.. They’re great!

    Alice, you’re not the only one.

  7. Freelander
    February 5th, 2010 at 22:31 | #7

    @TerjeP (say tay-a)

    The restriction on hours (if correct) does seem a bit silly. Although the purpose might have been to avoid employees being mucked around by employers which is not silly. Even if this part is silly, that does not mean that anything else in the legislation is silly.

  8. February 5th, 2010 at 22:33 | #8

    The claim by Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, in Federal Parliament on Thursday, 4 February that electricity prices will rise by a maximum of 25 per cent (one-quarter) by 2012-13, the second year of the Government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS), should not alarm Sydney residents on non-market electricity contracts.
    In fact, it represents a substantial slowdown on the 33.3 per cent increase (one-third) over the two years between December 2007 and December 2009.
    In a question in the House of Representatives (see page 50 of the Proof Issue of Hansard for 4 February 2010), Abbott wanted to know if the increase in electricity prices would be the 18 per cent claimed by the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, the 20 per cent which the NSW Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) claimed or the 25 per cent which Frontier Economics claimed.
    Now, of the three I would be inclined to accept the 20 per cent claim by IPART which actually recommends the increases to apply in NSW.
    As an aside, the question by Abbott shows just how sloppy is the research by him and the shadow Treasurer, Joe Hocked. As Rudd pointed out, the Minister for Climate Change and Water, Penny Wong, released a statement last November showing projected electricity price increases as 7 per cent in 2011-12 and 12 per cent in 2012-2013.
    But, accepting the higher figure of 25 per cent cited by Abbott, that’s less than the 33.3 per cent Energy Australia’s non-market usage charge rose in the two years from December 2007 to December 2009 – and that’s without a CPRS.
    I was curious to find out how Abbott’s claim of the rise in electricity prices in the first two years of the CPRS compared with the increase in the two years between December 2007 and my last electricity bill in December 2009.
    The Energy Australia bill I received in December 2007 showed the rate per kilowatt hour (kWH) as 11.7000c. The Energy Australia bill received in December 2009 shows the rate per kilowatt hour (kWH) as 15.6000c.
    The increase in the two years is 3.9000c (to use the same terms as the Energy Australia bill). The 3.9000c is exactly one-third of the 2007 base of 11.7000c.
    The copies I have of these bills also includes a daily charge for SAC, which is the charge for the delivery of electricity and the maintenance of the poles and wires. (I had to use Google to find out what SAC was).
    This charge rose from 33 cents a day in December 2007 to 39 cents a day in 2009 – an increase over the two years of 6 cents a day (18.2 per cent).

  9. Donald Oats
    February 5th, 2010 at 23:16 | #9

    Laugh, Kookaburra, laugh…looks like “Men At Work” are going to have to go back to work.

    Really though, this decision/ruling is no laughing matter: just how many popular songs are derivative to an even greater extent? Once all of the lawsuits and countersuits litigious dust settles only the legal eagles with be the richer for it. And our cultural heritage ha ha.

    Final chuckle – what (if any) musical piece does our humour-laden Kookaburra’s song derive its sound from?

  10. Fran Barlow
    February 5th, 2010 at 23:47 | #10

    @Alice

    Objecting to a viewpoint is different from making posts composed exclusively or mainly of hectoring others.

  11. Ernestine Gross
    February 6th, 2010 at 08:20 | #11

    For the record, Alice has not been banned for a week because of hectoring. In the words of the owner of this blog-site:

    “Alice, I’d like you to take a break for a week. You’re swamping the threads, contrary to my earlier request. When you come back, please try to focus on substantive contributions of your own rather than debates with other commenters.”

  12. Alice
    February 6th, 2010 at 08:20 | #12

    @Fran Barlow
    With respect JQ – Ill take my week off immediately from now but I object to Fran’s slight above and its not fair and nor is it true (yet another twist) – if Fran wants to label a post as hectoring – she go straight to John Coochey’s posts and Tony G’s and others like him who are still here for some unknown reason.

  13. Salient Green
    February 6th, 2010 at 08:38 | #13

    Donald, I reckon all rap ‘music’ is plagiarism. It all sounds the same to me anyway:)

  14. frankis
    February 6th, 2010 at 09:24 | #14

    Alice those two are merely out and proud delusionals who will never get a clue, whereas you could and should know better (sorry for this gratuitous advice).

  15. Tin Tin
    February 6th, 2010 at 10:57 | #15

    News.com is reporting that a secret central bank summit is taking place in Australia this weekend – http://www.news.com.au/business/secret-summit-of-top-bankers/story-e6frfm1i-1225827289543.

    Anyone know anything more?

  16. Ken Miles
    February 6th, 2010 at 11:12 | #16

    The first proper investigation that came out ClimateGate has concluded. Penn State Uni has investigated climate scientist Michael Mann who has been the victim of a huge number of smears, has essentially been exonerated. The pdf can be found here.

  17. February 6th, 2010 at 13:19 | #17

    Terje #1 has a valid point. Similar provisions have been a part of many awards for years. The provision for a minimum “book-on” time is specifically to prevent commute cost for staff (especially casual staff) from exceeding wages for the shift.

    Fine in some metropolitan scenario when staff live 4 suburbs from their workplace. A pain in the neck in small towns, regional cities, semi-rural districts, or other occassion when staff live near to their workplace.

    This provision has historically possibly the second-most breached award condition, and was one of the tangles that workchoices (now “fair work”) is designed to eradicate.

    Breaching IR laws is not an option. Thus people who would otherwise have a shift miss out. Businesses that otherwise would have work done, or a customer need met, miss out.

    The new awards, under Fair Work, are full of such complications. Little to no common sense went into writing them.

  18. Ernestine Gross
    February 6th, 2010 at 13:38 | #18

    @Ken Miles

    Thank you for the update and in particular for the attachment.

  19. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    February 6th, 2010 at 13:50 | #19

    It is fair enough that a worker should know before accepting a shift the minimum number of hours that it may entail. It is also fair enough that they should be able to say no to the shift if it they are not guaranteed enough hours. However the minimum number of hours that is acceptable is an entirely personal matter. People may not like haggling with the boss but haggling is part of life. As a former small business owner I never much liked haggling with employees but sometimes they insist. Next they will wish to ban the boss from talking directly to the worker lest somebody gets offended.

    Mandatory minimum work hours is monumentaly stupid.

  20. Freelander
    February 6th, 2010 at 14:01 | #20

    @TerjeP (say tay-a)

    If everyone was independently wealthy and had no need to work except as it pleased them what you suggest would probably be fine. However, that is not the case. There is quite a difference, often, between the power of the employer and the employee in negotiations, hence, the opportunity for explotation can exist. The opportunity for people to express their views through government is something you may not like, but government and laws, including industrial law, are facts of life.

  21. Freelander
    February 6th, 2010 at 14:03 | #21

    @TerjeP (say tay-a)

    I am not surprised that you have been a small business owner.

  22. Adam Smith
    February 6th, 2010 at 14:04 | #22

    Tin Tin, It’s the RBA’s 50th birthday, hence all the celebrations and all the bankers here.

  23. Fran Barlow
    February 6th, 2010 at 14:09 | #23

    @TerjeP (say tay-a)

    Mandatory minimum work hours is monumentaly stupid.

    I disagree. In hospitality, it is not uncommon to have wait staff come in and wait to even sign on. There are costs attached to the business of attending work that are not scaleable to the hours worked.

    While there may be some justification for allowing someone who is already at work but due to finish to hang about for another 90 minutes after a crib break, I regard 3 hours as a minimum for general purposes. If the employer wants to employ the person for less than that they should either part-reimburse for travel time and cost or pay three hours.

  24. Tony G
    February 6th, 2010 at 15:45 | #24

    RE 12

    Alice, I have been sin binned here plenty of times in the past and when I was I did not post. John puts a lot of work into this blog and his directions should be respected for that reason.

    Recently, you have resorted to specifically calling me derogative names, which for you is not usual. I bag most people and ideologies tongue in cheek and in a general sense (Iam not racist, I just hate nearly everybody) ,but I try to avoid bagging people specifically. Although sometime it does not come out that way. With Chris O’Idiot it is different as he has directly attacked me several times before, so I decided to fend of his bullying by only retorting the vile words he used on me first.; scum like him would be put on their arse in the real world very quickly.

    Alice, I do not think I have specifically called you anything derogatory (that I can remember). I have had run ins with nearly everyone here, even Terje and his gun laws, nuclear position and other LDP stuff that I do not agree with, but hey there are billions of people with just as many points of view, so there is not much point worrying to much about their ‘views’, but if they want to infringe or impose on your freedom, standard of living or way of life, that is another matter.

    Sure, there is an ideological divide between me and most people who blog here. That is because I left school at 14 and as such I did not get corrupted in the indoctrination centres. Some people might call me ignorant, but I feel I am an independent thinker who likes to question virtually everything. (especially the smoke and mirrors that is politics and economics as it is preached around here)

    Someone has to sort the crap from clay, especially when most people follow consensuses like lemmings.

  25. Rationalist
    February 6th, 2010 at 16:00 | #25

    Linky poo: http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-business/china-to-buy-a70b-of-australian-coal-20100206-njko.html

    “Mining magnate Clive Palmer says his company has secured Australia’s biggest export deal with a $US60 billion ($A69.39 billion) agreement to sell coal to China…creating 7,500 direct jobs and 50,000 to 60,000 indirect jobs…More than 100 million extra tonnes of coal could be exported every year from Queensland with a total of $25 billion of new projects under consideration by the state government.”

    Leave it to the private sector to get things moving :) .

  26. Fran Barlow
    February 6th, 2010 at 16:01 | #26

    @Tony G

    Sure, there is an ideological divide between me and most people who blog here. That is because I left school at 14 and as such I did not get corrupted in the indoctrination centres. Some people might call me ignorant, but I feel I am an independent thinker

    I recall Thomas Gray the words of :
    To each his suff’rings; all are men,
    Condemn’d alike to groan,—
    The tender for another’s pain,
    Th’ unfeeling for his own.
    Yet ah! why should they know their fate,
    Since sorrow never comes too late,
    And happiness too swiftly flies?
    Thought would destroy their paradise.
    No more; where ignorance is bliss,
    ’T is folly to be wise.

  27. nanks
    February 6th, 2010 at 16:04 | #27

    @Rationalist
    How is China the private sector?

  28. gerard
    February 6th, 2010 at 16:09 | #28

    @Dork

    Leave it to the private sector to get things moving

    yeah! except…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China_Power_Investment_Corporation

    China Power Investment Corporation (CPI) is one of the five largest state-owned power producers in the People’s Republic of China, administrated by the State Council of the People’s Republic of China. It is engaged in development, investment, construction, operation and management of power plants and power generation in 27 provinces in China.

  29. nanks
    February 6th, 2010 at 16:12 | #29

    @gerard
    still gerard – they buy their stuff at our shop.

  30. Rationalist
    February 6th, 2010 at 16:14 | #30

    Australians aren’t paying taxes to pay for this investment so by my definition it is the private sector :) . Clive Palmer is a real mover and shaker in the modern Australian economy :) .

  31. James
    February 6th, 2010 at 16:28 | #31

    @Tin Tin
    That would be a Wunch then.

  32. gerard
    February 6th, 2010 at 16:32 | #32

    don’t ever let reality get in the way of your definitions, Rationalist.

  33. Rationalist
    February 6th, 2010 at 16:34 | #33

    @gerard
    Irrelevant of semantics, it means a lot of Australians will become more prosperous and wealthy in the private sector and more Chinese will have access to more energy which will improve their standard of living.

  34. gerard
    February 6th, 2010 at 16:36 | #34

    Irrelevant of semantics, it means that Clive Palmer the Chinese government is a real mover and shaker in the modern Australian economy, without which none of this would be happening. Just pointing out that the entire premise of your “linky poo” was crap, as per usual.

  35. sdfc
    February 6th, 2010 at 16:43 | #35

    Terje

    Haggling it not always an option for an employee. One of our boys was working in a fish and chippie for some extra pocket money and was given a shift on a Tuesday night despite previously advising the employer he couldn’t work Tuesdays because of soccer training.

    His reward for haggling was the sack. That’s fine for him it was only pocket money after all, however it might be different for someone who is relying on a job to support themselves or a family.

  36. February 6th, 2010 at 16:49 | #36

    Y’all are missing the point.

    The kids WANTED to work a shift, the employer WANTED them to work that shift. The law prohibits this.

    The kid’s jobs were eliminated by the new award provisions.

  37. Freelander
    February 6th, 2010 at 16:50 | #37

    @Rationalist

    Following your logic the Australian government is private sector too because Chinese taxpayers aren’t paying for it.

  38. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    February 6th, 2010 at 16:52 | #38

    Sdfc – if it makes way for somebody that really does need the job then on balance it may be a good outcome. Of course I’d agree that it is very slack if the employer explicitly promised no shifts on Tuesdays. I’m not trying to be crass but that is the bottom line.

  39. Fran Barlow
    February 6th, 2010 at 17:11 | #39

    @Steve at the Pub

    The kid’s jobs were eliminated by the new award provisions.

    Nonsense. You are doing tendentious causal ellipsis. The kids job was “eliminated” by the determination of the employer not to pay him for the ordinary time specifed by the award. Perhaps the employer didn’t think it was worth it and will now do whatever work the kid was going to do himself.

    That is a perfectly reasonable outcome, as the kid can now get a better job or at worst do something better with his time after school (his homework? socialising? Sport? chores at home?) and the employer will have a leaner operation and a better return on his investment. Everyone is a winner.

  40. February 6th, 2010 at 17:18 | #40

    @ Fran Barlow

    Nonsense yourself.
    The kid’s jobs were for 1.5 hours only.
    New award provisions made this illegal.
    Ergo, the jobs were eliminated by the new award provisions.
    Simple.

    Reasonable outcome? If you consider a kid losing a job, & a business losing an employee to be “reasonable”.

  41. February 6th, 2010 at 17:18 | #41

    There’s a very timely article in response to attempts by the Government and various commentators such as Bernard Salt to scapegoat older people for the Goverenment’s anticipated financial problems. The arrticle “Cost of housing and cost of dependency in Australia” of 6 Feb 10 by Sheila Newman shows that, in comparision to the elderly, the property ‘industry’ is a far greater burden on the rest of us.

    By having caused the hyperinflation of housing costs in the last generation, they have literally driven many Australians into poverty, most of all welfare recipients including pensioners. Many, even previously prosperous Australians describe theri predicament as ‘slavery’ as a result of the inflation of housing costs.

  42. sdfc
    February 6th, 2010 at 17:26 | #42

    Terje the bottom line is that the bargaining power between an employer and an employee is not always equal, especially for those workers whose skills are not particularly highly valued by the market.

  43. February 6th, 2010 at 17:32 | #43

    @ sdfc, and the bargaining power isn’t always with the employer, especially for those who require skills that are in shortage, or are in a geographic area of acute labour shortage.

    That aside, it is not an issue in the matter raised by Terje. Employer and employees were both perfectly happy with the bargain, until the new award stepped in & made the bargain illegal.

  44. Fran Barlow
    February 6th, 2010 at 17:40 | #44

    @Steve at the Pub

    The kid hasn’t lost a job so much as gained an opportunity to do something better. A reasonable outcome. If he/she uses the time to study a bit harder or to improve his or her fitness, that will be worth a lot more than the net advantage of 90 minutes work however many times each week it was.

  45. sdfc
    February 6th, 2010 at 17:46 | #45

    Steve at the Pub :@ sdfc, and the bargaining power isn’t always with the employer, especially for those who require skills that are in shortage, or are in a geographic area of acute labour shortage.
    That aside, it is not an issue in the matter raised by Terje. Employer and employees were both perfectly happy with the bargain, until the new award stepped in & made the bargain illegal.

    Just checking out the quote thingy Steve.

    I agree on the face of it that case is reveals a huge flaw in the legislation but in this case we are talking about after school work after all. It becomes a little more complicated when we deal with adults and ascertaining who isn’t and who is being exploited.

    Do I know the answer? No.

    My comment was in response to Terje’s about haggling.

  46. Rationalist
    February 6th, 2010 at 18:02 | #46

    Left wing centralised bureaucracies encouraging the youth of the nation to abandon an honest job and take up burdensome humanities subjects to become socialised academics in public institutions.

    It is effective policy to squeeze the work ethic out of the youth at a young age, setting them up to aim low in a poorly paid public sector or educational role.

  47. Hermit
    February 6th, 2010 at 18:02 | #47

    Rationalist I believe this country will not achieve greatness until every kiddie has their own coal boiler. That 100 million tonnes is peanuts compared to China’s annual consumption of 2,500 mt. China leaned on Vietnam to send it coal til they squeaked now they are casting their net wider. Could there be a problem?

  48. Rationalist
  49. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    February 6th, 2010 at 19:12 | #49

    Fran – the kid has lost a job and an opportunity. It is one thing to accept this as the price of your prefered regulation, it is quite another to dress it up as a good outcome. It simply isn’t.

  50. February 6th, 2010 at 19:41 | #50

    @Fran Barlow
    “The kid hasn’t lost a job so much as gained an opportunity to do something better.”

    Disguised broken window fallacy.

    The kids had obviously decided that the job WAS the better option out of all their choices. That they can now do their second-best option is not an optimal outcome – it’s a net loss to society.

  51. Bobimagee
    February 6th, 2010 at 20:06 | #51

    Tony: That is because I left school at 14 and as such I did not get corrupted in the indoctrination centres. Some people might call me ignorant, but I feel I am an independent thinker

    Tony why do people who who left school at a younger age use this to bolster their right wing credentials and for gods sake be proud of of their lack of learning. I also left school at 15 & was working for two years before that.

    However I did not embrace ignorance and later in life did attend an institution of higher learning .. I was disappointed that to me the University was a hotbed of right wing ideology with lots & lots of people thinking that the fact ‘they’ got was solely on their own effort. Nothing to do the access opened up by Whitlam on onto HECS etc. I was an independent thinker when I went in and when I came out …but with a lot more skills in sifting the shit from the chaff….. you should try it you might get your homespun beliefs shaken just a little bit. You my friend are corrupted by ignorance

  52. February 6th, 2010 at 20:35 | #52

    A solution would be to require employers to pay for a reasonable amount of commuting time rather then legislating minimum work hours.

  53. February 6th, 2010 at 20:37 | #53

    “Star Wars episode III – the Revenge of the Sith” is on Channel 10 at 9.35PM tonight.

    It’s the one Star Wars movie I failed to see at the cinemas. I read that 9/11-style false flag terrorism is a prominent theme of that movie.

  54. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    February 6th, 2010 at 21:23 | #54

    David – your solution would still kill jobs.

  55. gerard
    February 6th, 2010 at 22:51 | #55

    @Rationalist

    Left wing centralised bureaucracies encouraging the youth of the nation to abandon an honest job and take up burdensome humanities subjects to become socialised academics in public institutions.

    It is effective policy to squeeze the work ethic out of the youth at a young age, setting them up to aim low in a poorly paid public sector or educational role.

    I’m impressed that you’ve managed to fit the majority of your working vocabulary into a single post. But I think you’re being a bit hard on the humanities students. Remember Monckton’s only qualification is an Arts degree in the classics, and yet he still knows more science than all the world’s climatologists combined.

  56. Ernestine Gross
    February 6th, 2010 at 23:05 | #56

    Terje, the aim of having jobs for people is for them to be able to live of the earnings. In the limit, there is no point in having jobs where travel costs and travel time (opportunity cost) is equal or higher than the total income earned.

    In the case of earning pocket money, the argument does not change because if the net monetary gain is zero or negative then Fran Barrow’s argument becomes valid.

    The idea presented by David Stern is also not satisfactory because people who live further away from particular job would be disadvantaged by profit conscious employers.

    I don’t know all the reasons for legislating for 3 hours minimum. However, there are some pretty obvious ones. People who have children in pre-school or primary school or have other family responsibilities may have 3 hours per day where they can work uninterruptedly. Some people (eg students and pensioners) have limits on the number of hours or total income. Full time students in science and economics subjects usually spend between 40 and 60 hours on their studies per week. Adding 5*3 = 15 hours for making a little money plus travel time comes to a number of hours which some CEOs claim justifies their high incomes.

    None of the above excludes special cases happening (eg one particular person wanting to work 1.5hrs and having a job which suits this case). However, one can’t draw general conclusions from a special case. Similarly, the 3 hr rule is not optimal for everybody.

    It seems to me the language of macro-economics {GDP, employment, interest rates, exchange rate, balance of payments, government revenue and expenditure} is, at times, not helpful at all. Unfortunately (IMO), this is the language used primarily in public discussions.

    PS: We had very very very heavy rain on the North Shore in Sydney. One of our neighbours house was flooded – emergency service and all that. It is still raining but not bucketing.

  57. Chris O’Neill
    February 7th, 2010 at 00:18 | #57

    @Tony G

    he has directly attacked me several times before, so I decided to fend of his bullying by only retorting the vile words he used on me first.

    Obviously it hurts you to be told that anyone thinking with more than idiot intelligence would realize that at least one of your arguments is wrong. My heart bleeds for you.

  58. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    February 7th, 2010 at 06:16 | #58

    EG – Yes people have work related expenses. That is part of the math people do before accepting a job or shift. For some people the cost will be quite negligible and for others it could be quite considerable. To suppose that a centrally administered rule set is the best way to decide such things is simply daft. Such things should be decided by individuals according to individual needs and circumstances. If the job on offer does not pay a wortwhile return then people will look for an alternative. In some instances a lower paid job closer to home may be a better option. Although minimum wage laws also manage to limit those prospects for some people.

  59. Ernestine Gross
    February 7th, 2010 at 07:00 | #59

    Terje, would you please provide me with a reference to a precise (ie mathematical economics) theoretical model which spells out the conditions under which your views make sense (ie logically consistent) and a corresponding list of empirical data to support the conditions in the model.

  60. gerard
    February 7th, 2010 at 08:36 | #60

    EG, I don’t agree with Terje, but it’s pretty ridiculous (not to say pretentious and elitist) to demand that every opinion on social issues needs reference to a precise “mathematical economics” theoretical model.

  61. Fran Barlow
    February 7th, 2010 at 09:00 | #61

    @Jarrah

    The kids had obviously decided that the job WAS the better option out of all their choices. That they can now do their second-best option is not an optimal outcome – it’s a net loss to society.

    Not at all Jarrah. You are mapping a general (and contestable in practice) claim (“the individual always knows what serves his or her best interests and acts rationally in pursuit of it”) to a specific set of cases where this is most unlikely to be so. The September 15 2008 showed that this is not so even in the case of well connected people

    You are also zero rating opportunity cost to support this claim.

    Your position simply makes a sweeping edict out of a legal fiction and is thus dogma raised to policy.

  62. Fran Barlow
    February 7th, 2010 at 09:20 | #62

    @TerjeP (say tay-a)

    it is quite another to dress it up as a good outcome. It simply isn’t.

    Don’t verbal me Terje. I didn’t say it as good. I said it was reasonable. Had I said it was good I’d have been making the flipside of your mistake in implying it was “monumentally stupid”.

    The problem with your claim is that we don’t know and can’t know what the children involved (and yes they are still children in a cognitive sense) gave up to do their 90 minutes and what this foregone opportunity would have been ultimately worth had they exercises it best. What we do know is that they weren’t getting very much out of their employment and so they don’t need to do very well to be no worse off doing something else with their time in the long run.

    Children and people who are still child-like in their social competence, often over value pleasure in the present in relation to pleasure in the future. Indeed, even adults have not entirely escaped that impulse, as our discussions over GHG mitigation illustrate. Giving up 90 minutes now to do some job may seem like a good thing to do, but of course, it probably won’t be, and it definitely won’t be if the meager money they earn is poorly deployed.

    They’d probably be better off studying or socialising or exercising or being with their families in some combination than working for an employer who thought so little of them that the employer was unwilling to draw up terms that complied with the award and used this thing to utter a public cri de coeur. That portended ill of the value of the trade by the children in question.

  63. Ernestine Gross
    February 7th, 2010 at 09:43 | #63

    gerard @9, p2. If you know a better way to separate Moncktonian economics (in parallel with Moncktonian climate science as outlined by you @4, p2) from real world economics, let me know. Please note that I tried a common sense approach first @5, p2). IMO, it is pretentious and elitist to assume people are stupid and then mock them with weasel words. I don’t assume Terje is stupid. I’ve been challenged several times on this blog-site to deliver on references to back up my statements. In this sense I treat Terje as equal.

    On a different topic, your reference to the Real World Economic Review blog is good. I found a link to the University of Kassel and browsed around a bit. They offer a course on globalisation in the department of politics and they say this is where it belongs. I tend to agree.

  64. Rationalist
    February 7th, 2010 at 09:44 | #64

    @Fran Barlow
    It is irrelevant if individuals would be “better off” doing x, y or z. It simply is up to you to butt out of their lives and let them make their own decisions. I think it is pathetically arrogant to see that you honestly believe that you are able to make an accurate judgement on the actions of these individuals. I know you may find this distressing but this isn’t Stalinist Russia and you are not Stalin!

  65. Ken
    February 7th, 2010 at 09:47 | #65

    Continuing with the presumption that “coal is good” we hear the Qld Premier celebrating big new coal export contracts. The concession that it’s necessary for coal to be cleaner in future si not a precondition, it is mere afterthought or more likely some kind of excessively wishful thinking. Or not real thinking at all.
    If anyone is under the impression Australia takes climate change and it’s contributions to emissions seriously or that a process that separates out CO2 of quantities more than 3 times that of the coal used to make it, transports it to geologically suitable regions and pumps it deep underground and expects it to be low cost and economically viable they are as deluded as Anna Bligh.

  66. Ken
    February 7th, 2010 at 09:50 | #66

    Perhaps tourism on the Great Barrier Reef will survive global warming – after all lots of divers like visiting wrecks.

  67. February 7th, 2010 at 09:53 | #67

    @Fran Barlow

    You are mapping a general (and contestable in practice) claim (“the individual always knows what serves his or her best interests and acts rationally in pursuit of it”) to a specific set of cases where this is most unlikely to be so.

    That is not the claim I’m making (though it may appear so on the surface). My reasoning rests on two points (the following assumes we’re talking about sane, mature people, not children or loons).
    1. People usually know what serves their best interest, and usually act in ways to attain it. They do not behave as perfect marginal utility calculators, but do approximate that mathematically idealised model in important and significant ways. IMO this is also the assumption most consistent with empirical data and human dignity, but that’s a discussion for another time as it takes us deep into neurochemical, psychological, sociological and philosophical territory.
    2. The limitations on people matching the ideal model (subjectivity, imperfect information, imperfect rationality, and all the rest) also apply to any third party, such as a government. Therefore there can be no general claim that others can make a ‘better’ decision for anyone else (though obviously in many specific circumstances it would be true). It should be especially obvious that a one-size-fits-all regulation like “no shift under 3 hours” applied to millions of people will inevitably conflict with better (from their point of view) decisions by individuals. It will help some people, hinder others.

    In addition, there is no evidence that this “specific set of cases” belong to the class of exceptions to these rules of thumb. You yourself had to speculate as to what the kids would do ‘better’ with their now-free time – there is no data that would support your position. It’s possible that, through in-depth interviews and close study of personalities, habits and hobbies, we could determine that the balance of probabilities indicates that losing the job was indeed the better outcome. Without the means (or desire) to conduct these studies, we must rely on rules of thumb – in this case, that people who tried to have a job actually wanted that job.

    “You are also zero rating opportunity cost to support this claim.”

    On the contrary, it’s central to my claim, and I reference it explicitly in “second-best option”.

    You are saying that the kids miscalculated their opportunity cost. I’m saying it’s a conceit to assume you can calculate it better.

  68. Rationalist
    February 7th, 2010 at 09:54 | #68

    Those bulk carriers are good vessels, you shouldn’t see any wrecks of them.

  69. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    February 7th, 2010 at 10:10 | #69

    EG – no I can’t. However I look forward to seeing your references that demonstrate mathematically and logically consistently that prohibiting shifts shorter than 3 hours will lead to a better outcome on aggregate. Perhaps the optimal regulation is for a twelve hour minimum and perhaps it is for a 15 minute minimum but without clear evidence I think we are best of letting people figure it out for themselves. Taking away liberty on a ideological whim is outrageous.

  70. gerard
    February 7th, 2010 at 10:12 | #70

    @Ernestine Gross

    gerard @9, p2. If you know a better way to separate Moncktonian economics (in parallel with Moncktonian climate science as outlined by you @4, p2) from real world economics, let me know.

    As I’d hope you are aware, there is a difference between the physical and the social sciences. There is no “leftwing” physics and “rightwing” physics, chemistry etc. Just take a look at Professor Quiggin’s upcoming book to see the difference between that and the economics profession, where representative agent theory has ruled the roost for years, despite many economists (including yourself) pointing out that it is fallacious.

    On the existence of AGW there is close to a total consensus among climate scientists. Whether it is right or wrong, would you say that the idea that “labor market regulations increase unemployment” has the same level of acceptance in the economics profession as Monckton’s views have in the climatologist profession?

    Incidentally I totally disagree with Terje.

  71. gerard
    February 7th, 2010 at 10:23 | #71

    PS

    IMO, it is pretentious and elitist to assume people are stupid and then mock them with weasel words.

    I never make assumptions of stupidity. I only mock people who prove themselves to be stupid.

  72. Fran Barlow
    February 7th, 2010 at 10:49 | #72

    @Jarrah

    People usually know what serves their best interest, and usually act in ways to attain it. They do not behave as perfect marginal utility calculators, but do approximate that mathematically idealised model in important and significant ways.

    This is in the nature of an assumption which we must make in order to make organised societies structured around freedom and human dignity possible rather than a settled conclusion that one can draw about the nature of human social interaction. This is. after all, why we have courts and other mediating institutions. We think starting from the idea of human responsibility and agency is essential but we immediately see the limitations where the rubber hits the road. We don’t allow even adults to negotiate away OH&S. We try to protect children and the mentally feeble from exploitation. We understand that in practice legal and social equality are the exception in most transactions.

    It should be especially obvious that a one-size-fits-all regulation like “no shift under 3 hours” applied to millions of people will inevitably conflict with better (from their point of view) decisions by individuals. It will help some people, hinder others.

    From the point of view of utility and net public goods, the key question is what produces the greatest net public goods?. That is always (at best) an informed guess. My own view is that payment for at least three hours, or possibly some compensation for expenses deemed to have been necessarily defrayed in presenting for employment regardless of ostensible shift length and in addition to hours worked is reasonable. If a plumber appears at my door, the plumber will demand a substantial payment even if the problem requires no more than five minutes and a part worth 20 cents to remedy. OTOH, if the problem takes up to half an hour charging is for expenses only. This is reasonable. Plumbers have more leverage than schoolkids though so this has to be built into the system.

    You are saying that the kids miscalculated their opportunity cost. I’m saying it’s a conceit to assume you can calculate it better.

    I make no such assumption. I assert that it is

    a) not clear that they got it right
    b) probable on general principles that they will be, at worst, no worse off in the long run for this loss, given the trivial value of the benefit

    I would add that any net losses, if there are indeed any to this class of person, have to be set against the advantages to others from having this constraint and that these advantages would measurably exceed any conceivable losses borne ultimately by those being denied this arrangement. In short, this is the right place to draw the line even allowing the remote possibility that some loss may be shown by a small class of persons.

  73. Fran Barlow
    February 7th, 2010 at 10:53 | #73

    @Rationalist

    Your commentary shows that you haven’t considered the specifics of the matter. You want no more than to vent your angst about Stalin in circumstances where there is no connection to the discussion.

    I call upon you to keep to the topic, which is, I take it, a more complex one about how organised societies can secure an approriate context within which most (if not all) people can pursue their legitimate interests.

  74. Ernestine Gross
    February 7th, 2010 at 11:25 | #74

    My question to Terje was: “Terje, would you please provide me with a reference to a precise (ie mathematical economics) theoretical model which spells out the conditions under which your views make sense (ie logically consistent) and a corresponding list of empirical data to support the conditions in the model.”

    Terje’s answer was: “No I can’t”.

    This, I should think, settles the matter.

  75. February 7th, 2010 at 11:56 | #75

    I’m with Terje. These kids have parents, who died and made anybody else their moral guardians?

  76. Alex
    February 7th, 2010 at 12:23 | #76

    I’m with Terje and other far right-wing ideologues. Just look at the United States as an example that a removing employee entitlements and lowering the minimum wage to about $7.25 has a huge impact and drastically lowers unemployment rates.

  77. February 7th, 2010 at 12:55 | #77

    Fran says legislating kids out of a job frees them up to chase toads & other kiddy pusuits, that removing their job is actually an opporutnity for them (coping with hardship IS character building I suppose) and that it is reasonable to legislate them out of a job.

    Alex says (with the kids freshly unemployed mind you) that letting the kids stay in their job would somehow …er.. what exactly?

  78. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    February 7th, 2010 at 12:56 | #78

    EG – your arrogance is telling.

  79. Mr T
    February 7th, 2010 at 12:58 | #79

    JQ,

    You have been cited in Paul Krugman’s blog (sorry I am not clever enough to include a hyperlink)

  80. Freelander
    February 7th, 2010 at 13:00 | #80

    @Alex

    I’m with Terje and other far right-wing ideologues. Look at the US as a great example of success. Of course, I suppose they have a natural minimum wage, what with all the opportunities for a youngster to set themselves up in their own business, as a drug dealer or some other criminally inclined punk occupation. And if they fail in that business they still don’t appear in the unemployment statistics as they go to the ‘big house’ and if they’re lucky they learn a trade, like making license plates.

  81. Donald Oats
    February 7th, 2010 at 13:05 | #81

    When minimum wage is sufficiently low to create full-time workers who are still unable to fund the absolute essentials, then you have the situation of some workers holding multiple jobs in order to break even week-by-week. In the USA this is an issue and has been for a long time. Note: I am not making the claim that great numbers of people are in this awful situation, simply that there is a segment of workers who absolutely require multiple jobs to meet essential costs.

    Therefore the lowering of a minimum wage to a low enough level may well increase the number of full-time jobs per capita, but not lift the number of full-time employed people by the comensurate fraction. Furthermore, people working at the margin – ie income is approximately equal to weekly essential expenses – are extremely sensitive to minor changes in the costs of essential goods and services. That is, their need for a second job may suddenly occur due to a slight increase in food or public transport costs. They might find that the second job is not near their main job, causing a further discrete jump in public transport expenses in order to do the second job. That discrete jump may cause a discrete jump in the number of hours required at the second job in order to break even on it.

    Welcome to the working-poor’s version of Hell!

    As far as I can see, all substantive changes to policies concerning employment, pay and conditions, hit someone somewhere even as someone else potentially benefits. If the analysis is simply restricted to one individual’s “freedoms”, the impact upon others is effectively valued lower than the impact upon one individual.

    Time for a coffee!

  82. February 7th, 2010 at 13:23 | #82

    Donald .. ummm… yea. I am much more of a fan of the Malaysian system. This is not to make the claim that all aspects of it are superior or ideal. It is a much more apt analogy for those who swiftly revert to “look over there, this is what happens with lack of minimum wage & conditions!”

  83. Fran Barlow
    February 7th, 2010 at 13:26 | #83

    @Steve at the Pub

    It is as well that he perspective of the public house takes second place to the perspective of public policy.

    Speaking from the ‘house’ Steve asserts:

    who died and made anybody else their moral guardians?

    Steve of course simply asserts that the moral guardianship of people whose interests are in conflict with those of children is preferable to that of the community as a whole. His reasoning derives from his own cultural boilerplate.

  84. February 7th, 2010 at 13:36 | #84

    Fran, you frustrated Kommisar ambitions show in your every word. (And every word in your post #31 does not make sense)

    The parents of the kids are their moral guardians, NOT you. You want to decide if kids should have an after school job, or should chase toads down by the creek, or should bury their head in Das Kapital, breed your own. Meantime the moral guardians of the kids in question are their parents.

    In Terje’s example (from post #1, previous page) here is nobody whose interests are in conflict with those of the children, except it would seem, yours.

    It is jus that the law has frustrated the kids wish to be gainfully employed for a while after school. Nobody wins.

  85. February 7th, 2010 at 13:57 | #85

    @Fran Barlow
    “I make no such assumption.”

    I think you do. To wit:

    I assert that it is…probable on general principles that they will be, at worst, no worse off in the long run for this loss, given the trivial value of the benefit

    You have no means of determining this, and you are in fact elevating yourself to an unrealistic level of judgmental ability. And that’s just this case – what about the myriad others that the new regulations will cover?

    “I would add that any net losses, if there are indeed any to this class of person, have to be set against the advantages to others from having this constraint and that these advantages would measurably exceed any conceivable losses borne ultimately by those being denied this arrangement.”

    That could only be decided by extensive, pervasive and invasive measurement (with attendant high costs), or predicted through rigorous modeling (with a high level of uncertainty). It’s not something you or I can evaluate from first principles, and I put it to you that claiming you can is a form of arrogance. It’s classic paternalism – you know better than the people actually affected.

    What first principles CAN tell us is that it’s not necessary to have ‘protective’ legislation on all aspects of work if competition between employers is sufficient (and, to a lesser extent, if non-work options like study or leisure are feasible). If an employer will only offer short shifts, they reduce their labour pool, which is to their detriment in the medium to long term. This means most employers will not insist on short shifts. Of those that do, if they find willing employees, who are we to gainsay that arrangement?

    Contrary to your assertion, logic dictates that this legislation in fact will assist a small minority of employees – those who don’t have many jobs to choose from, and whose potential employers want to give fewer hours than the employee would prefer, and have personal circumstances that prevent their moving location or industry. Thus the CBA isn’t as positive as you imply.

    A personal example (not tendered as evidence, but as illustrative of my point) – when I was a junior manager for a company that by employee count was medium-sized, but was in fact the big fish in a small industry, my spreadsheets told me that putting everyone on 4-hour shifts would be far more efficient. It could have moved the company into profitability for the first time in years. However, when I floated the idea with staff, I was left in no doubt that people would leave in droves if we went ahead. So we didn’t. No legislation necessary.

  86. Ernestine Gross
    February 7th, 2010 at 13:59 | #86

    TerjeP (say tay-a) :EG – your arrogance is telling.

    Well, Terje, using your methodology, I conclude it is merely your point of view.

  87. February 7th, 2010 at 14:00 | #87

    “I would add that any net losses, if there are indeed any to this class of person, have to be set against the advantages to others from having this constraint and that these advantages would measurably exceed any conceivable losses borne ultimately by those being denied this arrangement.”

    I would add that this sentiment picks some people’s preferences as deserving of government support, and others not. Also, the losers in this arrangement must – through taxes – pay for their own punishment, a double whammy. Is that fair?

  88. Ernestine Gross
    February 7th, 2010 at 14:02 | #88

    @Donald Oats

    My sentiments exactly.

  89. February 7th, 2010 at 14:04 | #89

    @Ernestine Gross
    You haven’t spelt out precisely which “views” Terje is to defend with a “precise theoretical model”. You can’t demand one instance of evidence for an undefined general viewpoint that necessarily will be composed of a multitude of specific underpinnings.

  90. Ernestine Gross
    February 7th, 2010 at 14:41 | #90

    @Jarrah

    I suggest you talk to Terje to find out what he is talking about. Otherwise I refer to all posts by Terje and myself, starting with Terje@1,p1. If commonsensical discussions are considered ‘daft’, then I can surely demand something more substantial. By that I mean, a precise theoretical model necessitates defining “the general viewpoint” such that “a multitude of specific underpinnings” is made explicit (ie conditions) and the reasonableness of the ‘general viewpoint’ can be assessed in terms of its internal logical consistency. Only then is it possible to relate observables to the ‘general viewpoint’. This is what I have asked for. The answer is: There is nothing!

  91. Fran Barlow
    February 7th, 2010 at 14:46 | #91

    @Jarrah

    Your appeal to the uncertainty of the spread of benefits is unconvincing. Your own example suggests that most employees would prefer minimum hours to be even higher than 3 hours.

    I don’t follow your argument about the losers paying through their taxes. Perhaps you could develop this claim.

    Broadly though, all state policy supports some people’s preferences at the expense of others. As long as our states serve diverse interests, policy must approach rational compromise.

    Certainly in the case of children, there’s some vidence that focusing on their education, health ands social skills is rewarded in the longer run. People who work while they are at school tend to earn less over a life time.

    That may well be somewhat skewed as its probable that upper middle class kids dominate the long term advantaged group, but even so, it’s hard to say that some 90 minutes in the afternoon job is really going to greatly advantage any kid living at home.

  92. Freelander
    February 7th, 2010 at 14:55 | #92

    @Jarrah

    I am sure if you had put into your ‘spreadsheet’ a significant cut in their wages that would have improved profitability also. Whether they would have left in droves depends on their options, not simply on their preferences. Those worse off tend to have fewer options but they still have preferences.

  93. fred
    February 7th, 2010 at 19:08 | #93

    Some stats relevant to Donald Oats general points at #29

    Brotherhood of St Laurence submission to the Senate Inquiry into poverty 2005
    http://www.bsl.org.au/pdfs/unemployment_and_poverty_may05.pdf

    “Is it possible to have a job and still be
    living in poverty?
    Yes. It is estimated that one in five poor
    Australians are in paid work – they may be called
    the ‘working poor’ (Harding & Szukalska 2000).”

    The Aus Parliamentary Library estimated poverty in Australia in 2006 at about 11.5% ie 1 in 8 Australians or more than 2 million persons.

  94. February 7th, 2010 at 21:57 | #94

    @Fran Barlow
    “Your own example suggests that most employees would prefer minimum hours to be even higher than 3 hours.”

    Yes. Supporting my assertion that market forces will ensure that most shifts are longer than 3 hours, as happened in my workplace. It could even approximate, if I may dare to suggest it, an efficient level of >3-hour and <3-hour shifts.

    Re losers, the ones whose preference is not supported – indeed, suppressed – by government, they nevertheless have to pay to have these laws considered, passed and enforced (both outright and in dynamic effects).

    "Broadly though, all state policy supports some people’s preferences at the expense of others."

    Don't you feel that a valid objective of the evolution of the state is to minimise this? I certainly do, though I realise there are legitimate arguments on the other side.

    I don't doubt there is some evidence that not working during late teenagehood (I won't let you elide them into "children") gives some long-term benefits*. However, you still haven't addressed the fundamental issue of imperfect information for third parties. This is where I baulk at claims of benefits exceeding costs – how do you know?

    * – I’d imagine there’s some evidence the other way, ie working keeps them occupied and learning skills, away from idle boredom that could lead to crime and drugs. At the margin, of course – I’m not suggesting we whack teenagers into workhouses to keep them off our lawns.

  95. February 7th, 2010 at 22:00 | #95

    @Freelander
    Have you considered that, depending on their particular situation, outlawing short shifts would deprive some people of an option?

  96. Fran Barlow
    February 7th, 2010 at 22:14 | #96

    @Jarrah

    You quote me:

    Broadly though, all state policy supports some people’s preferences at the expense of others …

    and then ask …

    Don’t you feel that a valid objective of the evolution of the state is to minimise this? I certainly do, though I realise there are legitimate arguments on the other side.

    So do I, as I made clear here just recently on another matter. Yet it is a question of weighing the net public benefit, including the quality and extent of impositions on one side and benefits on the the other.

    In this case, how egregious is the requirement that an employer offer three FT hours or equivalent? How much harm would ensue from such an imposition, or from abandoning it? What kinds of harm? Who would bear it?

    One could of course do a study but the results would probably not tell us anything we don’t already know or can guess. The requirement may mean some kids look for something else to do with their time, but that’s no bad thing, especially if other employers who wouldn’t have, but for the requirement, decide to pay the three hours and have done with it. Underpaid employees tend to be used wastefully by employers, like everything else that is cheap.

  97. February 7th, 2010 at 22:29 | #97

    This is how it works now the requirement is that I offer a minimum of 3 hours. Having just been forcibly moved from an award with a 2-hour minimum shift to one that mandates a 3-hour minimum, there is quite an adjustment to be made by the staff.

    Prior to the new 2010 award, the weekday lunchtime shift at my place was a regular 2-hour gig. It finished at 2pm and has been tightly held by a housewife, who if she has to quit the job, usually bequeaths it to a friend.

    The new 3-hour minimum means that shift finishes at 3pm, and the incumbent has had to give it up, as she can’t guarantee to get to school in time to pick the kids up.

    The extra hour worked by the lunchtime shift means the daytime shift has an enforced extra hour off in the middle of their shift while the lunchtimer works out the 3rd hour.

    Just what they need, an hour sitting down without pay in the middle of their shift, too short to do much more than pop out for a short errand, they’d much rather be paid for it.

    Nobody is happy with it, but it is the law.

  98. Ernestine Gross
    February 7th, 2010 at 23:09 | #98

    @gerard

    Sorry for the delay in replying. I wanted to give your post some thought.

    I am not sure whether the term ‘social science’ is a helpful one. Be it as it may, I restrict myself to economics without wishing to suggest that economics encompasses the ‘social sciences’ or even that it belongs to it or that there should be an invisible communication barrier. It is merely my attempt to avoid ending up as a proverbial Moncktonite as characterised by you..

    Similarly, I am not sure whether my awareness of the difference between science and economics is sufficient. But I’ll try to give an indication. One example of the difference between the subject matter of science and economics, which I’ve posted some time ago, is: Water always runs down-hill (physics) but humans may be observed to walk half-way downhill and then turn around and walk up again (economics). Another one: A geologist who works with rocks never encounters a rock that shouts: I want ‘freedom’, I don’t want you to restrict me, I want to fly. When we come to biology, remaining on the same elementary level, things start to get less clear cut – some dogs of a particular breed are aggressive while others are not. My best guess is, neuroscience is going to provide useful information for the subject matter of economics. At present, I still think of economics as intersecting with natural sciences and philosophy.
    You write: “There is no “leftwing” physics and “rightwing” physics, chemistry etc. Just take a look at Professor Quiggin’s upcoming book to see the difference between that and the economics profession, where representative agent theory has ruled the roost for years, despite many economists (including yourself) pointing out that it is fallacious.”
    I don’t understand. Physics is not ‘leftwing’ or ‘rightwing’. The subject matter of physics cannot be classified as ‘leftwing’ or ‘rightwing’. However, I would be most surprised if no physicist could be found who, according to the criteria used by, say Professor Quiggin, would be classified as ‘leftwing’, and another one, who would be classified as ‘rightwing’. The terms ‘leftwing’ and ‘rightwing’ belong to Politics and not to Physics.
    The representative agent macro models, are not ‘leftwing’ or ‘rightwing’. However, they may be misused by people who are ‘left’ or ‘right wing’. (Personally, I don’t like calling these models general equilibrium models but this is another topic.) They are also not ‘fallacious’ in the sense of logical errors in the derivation of a solution. However, they may be useless for many practical problems. I recall having used the word ‘useless’ and giving two examples and the reason why they are useless. To be fair, I can’t think quickly of empirically interesting problems in our current environment where a representative agent model would be useful. But who am I to make a generic judgment? Professor Quiggin is Professor of Economics and Politics (note the ‘and’; ie not Political Economy). I don’t have a clear idea about ‘left’ and ‘right wing’ The empirical classifications of political parties is not a convincing method for me – actual policies seem to me to change quicker than the classifications. For example, the classification ‘confused’ seems to be missing. Professor Quiggin, I understand, considers himself ‘leftwing’. If he were to classify me as leftwing, I’d trust his judgment, without understanding. This does not matter because I don’t claim to be knowledgeable in Politics. I noticed that the criticisms of the ‘zombie ideas’ that are the subject of his book do not require the political classifications of ‘leftwing’ and ‘rightwing’. These ideas are from the 19th century or earlier and they were recycled in the latter part of the 20th century via political movements – that much I understand about politics – and they involved a few economists who were elevated by political movements to gurus, whether they actively thought this status or not I don’t know..

    You write:
    Whether it is right or wrong, would you say that the idea that “labor market regulations increase unemployment” has the same level of acceptance in the economics profession as Monckton’s views have in the climatologist profession?

    I can’t offer an opinion on this question because the statement “labour market regulation increases unemployment” is meaningless until the type of regulation is specified. Perhaps this reply satisfies the Monckton criterion.

  99. Ernestine Gross
    February 7th, 2010 at 23:13 | #99

    “actively thought” should read “actively sought” (line 10 from the bottom).

  100. Freelander
    February 7th, 2010 at 23:54 | #100

    @Jarrah

    Cutting peoples wages deprives them of an option or gives them a new option, depending on how you look at it.

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