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Monday Message Board – Queens Birthday Edition

June 13th, 2011

Time for another Monday Message Board, but we’re enjoying a long weekend, at least in Brisbane where the miserable weather of last week, forecast to continue for several days more, has disappeared. I’d welcome thoughts about the monarchy, honours lists and so on, and would also be interested to hear from readers affected by the volcanic ash clouds.

I’m tightening up on the civility rules and will, from now on, delete anything I regard as personal criticism of another commenter, along with coarse language. As usual, save long rants, extensive debates with other commenters, and repetition of old themes for an appropriate sandpit.

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  1. Rationalist
    June 13th, 2011 at 10:32 | #1

    Thanks Liz for the holiday!

  2. Ikonoclast
    June 13th, 2011 at 10:41 | #2

    For those who have never watched “Yes Minister”.

    Woolley: In the service, CMG stands for “Call Me God”. And KCMG for “Kindly Call Me God”.
    Hacker : What does GCMG stand for?
    Woolley: “God Calls Me God”.

    I must say the thing I like about Australian society is our relative lack of class distinction, our irreverent attitude to authority, pomposity in all forms and overall egalitarianism compared to say England and the USA. It should be a clear goal of social democracy to remove all formal civilian rank distinctions leaving only the natural and feely accorded distinction and respect that is given those for a job (including home-making), profession or helpful social actsperformed well.

  3. BilB
    June 13th, 2011 at 11:18 | #3

    Iagree Ikonoclast. The complete class homogeneity of our society is a strength.

    When it comes to heads of state I am perfectly happy for that role to be filled by the Queen. There is usually howl to that idea until the conversation moves on to consider the propect of swearing allegiance to President Abbott!!! Or any other politician appointed by their fellow politicians.

    The recent royal wedding displayed the depth of the history from which we draw our heritage on the one hand, and when I view aboriginal ceremony I see an equal depth of history. That is worth preserving. I cannot see anything in the variety of “republican” options that comes even close to being appealing enough to warant change.

    The greatest public servent of all time, in my opinion, was Alfred of Wessex. There is so much of everything that we accept as being the basis of our society, government, and system of values that originated from this one person, and I for one will not break that link.

  4. June 13th, 2011 at 11:43 | #4

    This blog post was the first I had heard about the erruption and ash cloud. I went to search for a news article on it, but then decided it would be easier and to just look up the Wikipedia article.

  5. Chris Warren
    June 13th, 2011 at 11:58 | #5

    Fran

    The issue of scientific integrity is not a one-way street.

    The baseless attacks (as you so conveniently misconstrue them) are precisely in the same terms as the attacks on integrity emanating from BNC.

    They are the necessary response to the seriousness of nuclear disasters and the obscenity of short-term economic wealth attempts to drive an agenda down one-dimensional nuclear gutters.

    Barry Brook receives what he deserves, just as colonial slaveowners, nicotine scientists, weight-loss and wrinkle removal perveyors, ‘intelligent design’ ideologues, ‘One Nation’ front people and pretentious bunyip aristocrats have in the past. BP, Exon, TEPCO executives and Japanese nuclear and US oil industry regulators also lack integrity. Brooks inherits his lack of integrity from them and his reliance on industry source materials.

    Scientific integrity requires using all evidence – not just some evidence. This is Brooks’ key failing. All scientists need to be aware of the risk of tunnel vision. The BNC has shown that this camp is not. Real integrity comes from long-run social responsibility not short-run economic convenience.

    So lets not play the card of “poor victim” for BNC now. They need to cop a smack-down.

  6. Robert (not from UK)
    June 13th, 2011 at 12:18 | #6

    I see Bob Ellis is predicting, and hoping for, a switch by Turnbull to the ALP: like Joe Lyons but in the opposite direction:

    http://www.spectator.co.uk/australia/6997223/come-over-to-our-side-malcolm.thtml

    Oh yes, and also in Spectator Australia, editor Tom Switzer maintains (I can’t find this allegation online; it’s in the latest issue) that his students include a remarkably high proportion of monarchists. How much or how little this is connected with That Wedding, he doesn’t say.

  7. may
    June 13th, 2011 at 13:41 | #7

    it’s not so much monarchism as much as a fairly stable nicely boring devil-we know vs what-the hell-is-coming-next.

    the referendum was for a “rich list republic”.

    nothing real. no debate.what would happen to the Queens Chain? would we have “bogans out” signs and fenced off private beaches?
    little things like that.

    lots of little niggly questions never saw the light of day.

    and aside from all that,the idea of a head of state way over on the other side of the world, not interfering and getting on with their own life in a family every bit as dysfunctional as every body elses’ has a very comfortable feel to it.(definitely not relaxed though)

    and

    can you imagine toxic tony in charge of the army?

    and

    for myself,if there was a collection taken up to build a palace on the moon to shift them all,
    i would chip in $1 maybe $2.

    getting an organic garden up and running under those conditions would be a true test
    of kingship.

    and

    the polo would be amazing.

    halfwits aren’t always stupid.

  8. Paul Syvret
    June 13th, 2011 at 13:56 | #8

    John, any top of the head thoughts on what the economic impact of abolishing the (IMO irrelevant) Queen’s Birthday holiday altogether would be?

  9. Tim Macknay
    June 13th, 2011 at 14:27 | #9

    Over here in WA, the Queen doesn’t have her birthday until the end of September. Guess our Queen must be a bit younger.

  10. W
    June 13th, 2011 at 14:30 | #10

    John,
    It is pleasing to hear that you are tightening the civility standards. This must make your “blog work” even more time consuming but I think it enhances the quality of thread debate.

    I would like to hear your opinions on the ERA discussion that has occurred at economics.com.au given the intense debate between the other prominent economists.

  11. Chris Warren
    June 13th, 2011 at 15:18 | #11

    Tim Macknay :
    Over here in WA, the Queen doesn’t have her birthday until the end of September. Guess our Queen must be a bit younger.

    Of course if we put the Queen in a capsule, and sent her around the earth 7.5 times a second, she would live forever.

    Strange but true – (bloody Einstein).

  12. June 13th, 2011 at 15:24 | #12

    Nasty things, volcanic ash clouds.
    As for the rest, Monarchist for a day!!

  13. Gavin R. Putland
    June 13th, 2011 at 20:23 | #13

    MAKING PAYROLL TAX PROGRESSIVE

    A disaggregated payroll tax, in order to raise the same total revenue as the existing State and Territory payroll taxes in 2007-8, would have required a rate of 9.7% with a threshold of $52,000 per annum, or 16.5% with a threshold of $67,600 per annum.

    More: http://is.gd/ptprogress .

    (Note: I discussed this in a sandpit at http://is.gd/b6ad2h , giving more details of the calculation, but perhaps confused the issue by considering the Superannuation Guarantee at the same time.)

  14. Ernestine Gross
    June 14th, 2011 at 00:07 | #14

    A constitutional monarch with primary residency several thousand miles away seems to me to be a benign competitor to corporate dynasties who, by law, have potentially an infinite life and revealed ambitions to govern ‘the global economy’ (except when they run out of cash!)

    Hope you all had a good holiday.

  15. Ikonoclast
    June 14th, 2011 at 10:17 | #15

    Erm, but the UK Monarchy is a corporate dynasty.

    “The Estate is a statutory corporation owned by the Crown. Historically the possession of British monarchs, the Estate it is not private property and cannot be sold. The Estate is managed by the Crown Estate Commissioners. The Estate’s £6 billion (about $8.5 billion) portfolio includes major real estate holdings in London, largely in the Regents Street, Regents Park and St. James. The Estate also owns over 276,000 acres of agricultural land and various maritime assets, including 55 percent of the shore and all the seabed to12 nautical miles. In 2008, the Crown Estate generated annual profits over £211 million (about $300 million). The Estate’s revenues are paid each year to HM Treasury.”

    http://www.taxpayertreasurehunt.com/index.php/The_Cost_of_the_British_Monarchy

    The crown’s profits from its estate conventionally defray the cost of the crown to the civil list and security costs to a total of about 90 million pounds and pay the remainder to the Treasury. Nevetheless as all these private holdings ought to be part the people’s common wealth in any case, the cost of the Crown and aristocracy is still 90 million pounds.

  16. Ikonoclast
    June 14th, 2011 at 10:19 | #16

    Correction: “As all these quasi-private holdings etc… “

  17. Ernestine Gross
    June 14th, 2011 at 11:20 | #17

    Quite right, Ikonoclast, institutional arrangements are a bit more complex.

    Focusing only on the money side, here are some statistics on the average exeutive pay of the 500 S&P:

    http://www.aflcio.org/corporatewatch/paywatch/

    The data includes information on how ‘quasi-private’ (equity ownership in this case) is privatised – a kind of private wealth empire building.

  18. Ikonoclast
    June 14th, 2011 at 11:38 | #18

    @Ernestine Gross

    Let us assume a large corporation where the the CEO gets total remuneration of $11,000,000 p.a. Let us also assume mid-tier workers and operators get total remuneration of $55,000 p.a. in this corporation. This means these workers each get 0.5% of the remuneration of the CEO.

    Another way of saying this is to say that a CEO is worth 200 mid-level workers on this measure. This sort of relative worth I have always been sceptical about. Thus it seems, if my opinion is correct, to be a case of market failure. The market is not operating properly or it would see CEOs proced more realistically. Any theories on why the market / regulatory apparatus / corporate law fails to prevent this apparently unrealistic inequitable outcome?

  19. may
    June 14th, 2011 at 12:47 | #19

    hmm.

    the difference between a corporate dynasty and say,rio tinto or microsoft,aside from longevity,seems to be that the people in charge of the latter fight tooth and nail to attain that position and can vacate the position..

    the former did not seek the position or own the position,the position owns them.

    however so much blood, gore,deviousness,perfidiousness(perfidious albion anyone?)
    and ambition was displayed by the forerunners.

    and it’s taken damn near a thousand years to rein them in.

    the former are tied by birth,precedent and oath to maintain for the present and future all properties and privileges of the corporate system.that’s us
    (privilege or privelege?)

    it’s messy but seems to function a bit or a lot better than what we see elsewhere.

    and there would have to be a bloody sight better reason to change it (in a country where most peoples’ ancestors are from somewhere else)than “oh,how demeaning we don’t have our own home grown head of state”.
    most people couldn’t care less.

    small brain contribution.

  20. Ernestine Gross
    June 14th, 2011 at 13:29 | #20

    @Ikonoclast

    It seems to me the request for theories as to why the income distribution within (500 P&S) corporations is so unequal goes beyond the topic of this thread . Using the information in your post @15, it seems to me the Crown Estate is more heavily regulated than the non-royal corporate sector.

  21. Ikonoclast
    June 14th, 2011 at 16:53 | #21

    @Ernestine Gross

    You brought it up. :) And anyway, this is a Monday Reflections – Queens Birthday Edition. Going by other media, a Queens Birthday edition may have a lot about the Queen but also a lot about other things. I see no problem re this thread but then I am not the owner of this site.

  22. Ernestine Gross
    June 14th, 2011 at 17:16 | #22

    @Ikonoclast
    I am not the owner either. Taking your word for it regarding the other things, I’ll go along a little bit..

    1. That which I brought up was my attempt to illustrate (not prove) the meaning of ‘benign competitor’. (I take the historical findings on how the Crown Estate came to exist as given.)

    2. Assuming for the moment you agree that in or around 2011, the non-royal corporate sector seems to be less regulated than the Crown Estate in the UK , I’ll restrict the discussion to your specific questions arising from my link @17 and I’ll move to the last sandpit. ok.?

  23. June 14th, 2011 at 18:12 | #23

    Jack, you seem to have missed the memo about Gotcha and I Told You so posts. If you want a blogsite showing your infallibility as a prophet, set it up yourself. Anything more along these lines here and you will be banned.

  24. Ikonoclast
    June 15th, 2011 at 09:06 | #24

    @Ernestine Gross

    I agree to the terms and conditions of the discussion. :)

  25. Christopher Dobbie
    June 16th, 2011 at 07:24 | #25

    @may

    ‘Cause markets aren’t efficient.

  26. Christopher Dobbie
    June 16th, 2011 at 07:26 | #26

    @Ikonoclast

    Stratch @May

    That was in reply to your question Ikonoclast, made the error pressing the wrong Reply.

  27. Fran Barlow
    June 16th, 2011 at 10:18 | #27

    @Ikonoclast

    Another way of saying this is to say that a CEO is worth 200 mid-level workers on this measure. This sort of relative worth I have always been sceptical about.

    You and me both. While I’m not sure about how one couild model relative contributions to value with the kind of precision that one would like — at least some of the foundational assumptions are going to be highly subjective/arbitrary — I find the idea that any one human being in an organisation could be consistently 25 times more valuable than the average full-time employee doubtful.

    While absolute income equalitty in condituions of scarcity is probably unrealistic, a ratio within an organisation in which the best paid employee had a salary package worth no more than 25 times that of the average FT employee would put a cap on inequity that could be reconciled with the practicalities of systems operating under scarcity.

    If companies had to pay an increasing proportion of salaries above this benchmark out of after-tax income — perhaps 100% when the differential reached 30 times the average salary, then the very best paid employees, and those immediately below them would have a strong incentive to improve the average wages of FT employees as a whole. That sounds like the beginnings of equity to me.

    Of course, under this system, one would need a fairly expansive definition of both the organisation — (perhaps prescribed interests of 15%) and its contractors (who would count as employees based on more than half their work being for the one organisation) so as to avoid creative accounting.

  28. Ikonoclast
    June 16th, 2011 at 11:11 | #28

    @Fran Barlow

    “.. I’m not sure about how one could model relative contributions to value with the kind of precision that one would like… ” – Fran Barlow.

    This is a key point. Of course, the market system supposedly is able to do just that. Namely, a free market purports to be able to assign the correct relative worth of work in each case if the labour market is unregulated or lightly regulated or only regulated at the low end with minimum wages but no maximum wage/salary. In practice, the latter leads to some absurd outcomes at the extreme high end.

    Perhaps more important that possible inequity in wages/salaries is the growing inequity between the wages share of income and the profits share in our economy.

  29. Fran Barlow
    June 16th, 2011 at 15:52 | #29

    @Ikonoclast

    Perhaps more important that possible inequity in wages/salaries is the growing inequity between the wages share of income and the profits share in our economy.

    Indeed that’s so and the two, though independent, are related. The accretion in private hands of very substantial profits exaggerates and sustains inequity in the wages system because they place enromous power in the hands of a few, who can then adduce their specific interest to constrain public policy options, including over wages, benefits etc.

  30. Ernestine Gross
    June 16th, 2011 at 22:25 | #30

    @Ikonoclast

    My approximately 1800 word reply is ready but the sand pit is closed.

  31. Ernestine Gross
    June 16th, 2011 at 22:30 | #31

    Ikonoclast and Fran Barlow, the position of a CEO (and the directors) of a corporation is neither due to the Queen’s Birthday nor to a ‘free market’. These positions are due to corporate law.

  32. Ikonoclast
    June 16th, 2011 at 23:39 | #32

    @Ernestine Gross

    I think I knew that the position of a CEO (and the directors) of a corporation was not due to the Queen’s Birthday. I can’t pretend I didn’t think the “free market” had something to do with it. Now you remind me of corporate law I have had a “doh!” moment like Homer Simpson. Look forward to your post when u can post it.

  33. Scott
    June 17th, 2011 at 06:47 | #33

    The Queens Birthday Holiday is a very curious one; possibly the most curious holiday on the Australian calendar. The first point to make is that its existence is evidence of the inherent conservatism of Australian society; things will not be changed unless they absolutely HAVE to; (or stand between a corporation and profit). This holiday harms no one, there’s no real consitituency to abolish it, and therefore it stays, regardless of the fact no one celebrates anything specific on it.

    Indeed, I would be delighted to find one day that Australia should become a republic, and the House of Windsor deposed as Australia’s Head of State, and yet this anachronistic holiday should still be celebrated.

    In Canada, an equally conservative and even less republican minded Dominion of the British Crown, the holiday ascribed to the monarchs is the Monday closest to the 24th of May, celebrated as “Victoria Day”. This holiday however is very significant to Canadians, not because of the Monarchial feelings of the people (ask the Quebecor community what they think of the Crown), but because the day serves as an unofficial “start of summer” celebration; an important point after undergoing the rigours of a Canadian winter.

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