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Monday Message Board

February 14th, 2011

It’s time again for the Monday Message Board to resume. Post comments on any topic. As usual, civilised discussion and no coarse language. Lengthy side discussions to the sandpit, please.

BTW, apologies for slow response time and 503 errors if you are getting them. I’m looking into this.

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  1. paul walter
    February 14th, 2011 at 20:21 | #1

    Yes it seems horribly clagged re logging in, but hopefully that hasn’t impacted on the content and substance side of things.
    Can this writer troll for responses to the photo op thing with Kenneally, Gillard and Bligh. Folk in some places seem think this compares to the Second Coming.
    Now that women are running the country, it is a Brave New World.
    For my part, am looking for something more substantial, in trying to understand the health policy changes. Gillard seems to be being congratulated for these changes, but there must be a mix of politics and policy involved that plays into prospects for success or failure as to future outcomes involving health.

  2. Donald Oats
    February 14th, 2011 at 23:45 | #2

    Anyone seen the current edition of New Scientist? The editorial is a bit rough on scientists concerning statistical result reporting in the abstracts of articles. No room for science anymore; gotta be ever vigilant on how a spin-meister might selectively quote from the abstract of a scientist’s principal technical output, namely the scientific article.

    The other factor at play here, irrespective of agendas and the like, is that a single article reporting a new result is likely to be debated at length within the academic communities of interest; this in itself should spawn many more articles upon the topic in question, if it is of any novelty and or value at all.

    Just my five cents (can’t get two cents no more) worth.

  3. February 15th, 2011 at 00:34 | #3

    Given that it is likely that there will be a decisive result in the NSW Legislative Assembly on 26 March, would it not be unreasonable to play more attention to the Legislative Council. I do not think that will happen – but it will be a lost opportunity. It was a committee of the upper house led by Fred Nile brought some accountability to the sell off of the electricity grid.

  4. TF42
    February 16th, 2011 at 09:30 | #4

    How much of the gains in agricultural productivity has not been our advances in controlled inputs and management at all?

    We know that from Free-Air CO2 Enrichment (FACE) experiments and modelling that increased CO2 increases yields. From a baseline of 380ppm (now-ish) to 550 ppm (45% increase), C3 species (eg cereals such as wheat, and grazed temperate species such as ryegrass) could be expected to grow 23% more under non-limiting conditions, and C4 species (eg maize, sorghum) could grow around 7% more (eg Cullen et al, link below).

    ABARES presented a paper (link below) that decomposes productivity into various components, but does not appear to take into account CO2, which would have increased from 330 to 380ppm (15%) over the same period. On this basis, under non-limiting conditions, we would have expected an 8% improvement in yields – most broadacre being C3 based. Although this would be less than a .2% of the productivity per year, it is still significant. More importantly, going forward, temperature increases and potential changes in water availability are likely to mean that non-limiting circumstances become more common in some, and possibly a majority of Australian regions, so further increases in CO2 concentration may not be useful.

    1) http://www.wfsat.landfood.unimelb.edu.au/Climate_impacts_WFSAT_Report_2008.pdf
    2) http://adl.brs.gov.au/data/warehouse/pe_abares99001781/CP11.05_Broadacre_crop.pdf

  5. paul walter
    February 16th, 2011 at 14:44 | #5

    Me4rcifully, a few other sites must be Quiggin reders. Luke Swarmirski at OLP and Dr. Gary Sauer Thompson at Public Opinion, mercifully, have posts just up on health “reform”.
    Thanks all, here, for previous inputs, also…

  6. paul walter
    February 16th, 2011 at 14:45 | #6

    Mercifully, a few other sites must be Quiggin reders. Luke Swarmirski at OLP and Dr. Gary Sauer Thompson at Public Opinion, mercifully, have posts just up on health “reform”.
    Thanks all, here, for previous inputs, also…

  7. February 16th, 2011 at 15:45 | #7

    They play tackle politics over at Catallaxy. Still you cannot fault commentators for not being quick responders. I note the pattern of seeing comments in black and white. Sometimes it might be that I did not express myself as well as I might, or equally I was assuming I knew more than I do. Engaging with people you might disagree with is fundamental. There is something to be said for vigour, but inclusiveness and productive outcomes are equally, perhaps more, important. Still I have to say “the discussion” worked for me.

  8. paul walter
    February 16th, 2011 at 17:47 | #8

    Interesting site, Wmmbb.
    Am doing just that myself at the moment. It seems they are all right, provided you insult them back, they take that as a mark of affection and familiarity and will embrace you straightaway.
    Just the same, any toe-tangling in the water by the unsuspecting, you get the feeling could have serious amputational consequences for the offending limb.

  9. Graeme Bird
    February 18th, 2011 at 07:44 | #9

    “Tyler Cowen’s e-book, “The Great Stagnation,” has become the most debated nonfiction book so far this year. Cowen’s core point is that up until sometime around 1974, the American economy was able to experience awesome growth by harvesting low-hanging fruit. There was cheap land to be exploited. There was the tremendous increase in education levels during the postwar world. There were technological revolutions occasioned by the spread of electricity, plastics and the car…………..”

    I now think of neoclassicals economists in the way I used to think about leftists like Galbraith. I used to try and argue to my fellow rightists that many of the observations of guys like this had to be taken seriously. Some of these people had a sharp eye for things. The sort of things those on my side of the economics debates tended to be blind too. So one of my first threads on my own forum …. asked if John Ralston Saul and Galbraith had a point. And I think I concluded that they had many points but when it came to solutions the left tended to be hopeless.

    “Listen to their observations carefully. Reject their conclusions outright.” That was my advocacy to my own “side” as it were.

    Now the economics profession has split between the Keynesians (a religious order) The Neoclassicals (people who don’t understand economics) and those who have studied either the British Classical or Austrian Schools or both, and cherry-pick the mainstream for useful off-the-shelf concepts.

    Lets go over the Brooks interpretation of Tyler’s book again. And bear in mind that these observations of Tyler are all fine. To me Tyler looks like a pretty sharp-eyed fellow. A sharp-eyed fellow who doesn’t “get it” when it comes to economic science.

    “Tyler Cowen’s e-book, “The Great Stagnation,” has become the most debated nonfiction book so far this year. Cowen’s core point is that up until sometime around 1974, the American economy was able to experience awesome growth by harvesting low-hanging fruit. There was cheap land to be exploited. There was the tremendous increase in education levels during the postwar world. There were technological revolutions occasioned by the spread of electricity, plastics and the car.”

    Well thats all F I N E ………. FINE.

    But here comes the nonsensical conclusion:

    “But that low-hanging fruit is exhausted…..”

    Thats just so stupid. Tyler Tyler Tyler Tyler Tyler. Learn some economics.

    Now the terrible irony is I’ll be downloading his book this very day. Because the feebleness of the growth of base level living standards since Nixon cut the last gold tether is a pet peeve for me. And I don’t doubt that there will be excellent research and statistical work in Tyler’s book.

    But I’m far more looking forward to Professor Quiggins book when it arrives in the mail. Because Professor Quiggin, unlike Tyler (I presume) isn’t stooging himself that capital markets are the least bit “efficient” (whatever “efficient” means to a neoclassical any given day)

    Capital markets are an outrage. They are a disgrace. And capital market behavior, since the early 1970?s (with a brief respite in the post-Volker crunch) must surely have constituted one of the most astonishing mis-allocations of capital resources imaginable. Only overshadowed by the craziness and queues on the other side of the iron curtain.

  10. Fran Barlow
    February 20th, 2011 at 13:48 | #10

    Heads up on a couple of Green Functions in Sydney that some at Quiggin-folk might like

    to attend.

    1. Gasland movie — examines the problems in the US associated with Coal

    Seam Gas, fracking etc …

    Date/Time: 1PM Saturday 5 March 2011
    Venue: Boronia Grove, 49 Rawson St Epping (opposite Coles and adjacent to

    car Park)
    RSVP: [email protected] or simply turn up.

    Cate Faerman, Greens MLC will be in attendance to answer questions on issues related

    to CSG harvest in NSW.

    2. Climate Solutions Forumexamines the problems in the US associated

    with Coal Seam Gas, fracking etc …

    Date/Time: 2PM Saturday 12 March 2011
    Venue: Shepherds Bay Community Centre, 3 Bay Drive, Meadowbank
    RSVP: [email protected] or simply turn up.

    Speakers:Mark Diesendorf, Deputy Director Institute of Environmental Studies,

    UNSW, David Shoebridge Greens MLC

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