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Monday Message Board

May 6th, 2013

Another Monday Message Board. Post comments on any topic. As usual, civilised discussion and no coarse language. Lengthy side discussions to the sandpits, please.

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  1. kevin1
    May 6th, 2013 at 10:41 | #1

    Just saw Jenny Macklin doing a press conference against Abbott’s paid parental leave scheme as some Libs again try to ditch it. Defence of this policy as a levy on employers (ie. not taxpayer funded) is one riposte to the argument that taxpayers can’t afford it, but another is the overseas comparison. Jacqueline Maley in SMH 4 May “Abbott cares for mums, but why so little support?” claims that Labor’s scheme is inferior to other developed countries, where 80% of income forgone is paid for 12 months, and every woman worker above the minimum wage would get a larger benefit. And Abbott levy includes super contributions.

    If it is so generous, it’s surprising that Joe Hockey – that foe of middle class entitlement – went further than just being loyal to his leader (SMH May 1 2013 “Hockey defends parental leave scheme”) when he said that “Of the 40 countries in the world that have structured paid parental leave schemes Australia is the only one that does not remunerate entirely at the level of pay that is actually provided to the recipient.” Perhaps loyalty to class and leader coincide here, but a scaling down of top end generosity may result in a more “laborist” PPL than Labor’s and satisfy no-one in the coalition. Could be another of Joe’s enthusiastic defences of a Lib policy just before it is completely pulled.

  2. Newtownian
    May 6th, 2013 at 14:52 | #2

    Just found the link to a really bizarre story of interest via Naked Capitalism on how loony neoliberal economists can get – one Niall Ferguson. Maybe he is vying for a UKIP council seat.

    Here is the original reference.


    It suggests there are worse creatures on the right than Andrew Bolt. But you can be the judge.

  3. Ikonoclast
    May 6th, 2013 at 15:37 | #3


    Yes, that’s already been discussed on another thread. Ferguson makes a lot of mistakes. Making overt his cryto-fascism was his first mistake. Making a mistake about Keynes’s sexuality was his next mistake. Keynes entire personal history shows he was bisexual rather than simply homosexual. Making a mistake about most men’s proximal interest in even heterosexual activity in the next mistake again. Most men are not thinking about the long run or the possible child to be at that point. Finally, Ferguson’s reasoning about why Keynes was not interested in the long run (supposed lack of interest in producing or considering children) is so wide of the general meaning of Keynes “long run” statement that Ferguson’s contention is “not even wrong” as the saying goes.

  4. Ikonoclast
    May 6th, 2013 at 16:19 | #4

    Oops, there’s a few typos and grammatical mistakes in the above. In particular, I meant to refer to Ferguson’s crypto-fascism.

  5. Ikonoclast
    May 6th, 2013 at 17:47 | #5

    This is an absolute disgrace. Australia’s web speed is getting slower.


    Clearly, relative to the stress of overall increasing demand, the copper network performance is decaying faster than the NBN rollout (which Abbott wants to neuter anyway).

    This is prood positive that Australia is decaying into a primitive backwater and proof positive of the total failure of privatised communication infrastructure to deliver anything useful and proof postive of woefully inadequate government expenditure on the same. If this is the way we do things then our chances of responding postively and effectively to climate change and renewable energy challenges are exactly zero.

    We are R O Squared TED.

  6. Newtownian
    May 7th, 2013 at 07:35 | #6

    Thanks for the additional background.

    What puzzles me about this and Ferguson’s other comments is his implication, perhaps assertion, that somehow neoliberal economists care/give a damn about future generations because of their philosophy. By way of support for this I note the following (which I’m recycling):

    1. The whole structure of depreciation of investment which says it makes no (neoliberal) sense economically to invest in very long term pay offs unless you get them really really cheap and they are sure things.

    (an example here I think is land on city outskirts which at least maintains value (so you cant lose) and from which you can extract rent and a some agricultural produce for for say 50 years – and then you clean up by way of housing development. I’m told this is what the first families’ of Sydney have done and why they are in real estate development rather than industrial R&D and probably lobbying for land zoning changes).

    I fully accept the ‘rational’ logic here, if you see the world as a giant gentle equilibrium equation with not bumps, hazardous events, black swans etc.

    i.e. that it does not make sense to invest in the long term at least on this narrow interpretation of what economics is about. The point here though is this is what Ferguson’s ascribes to is inherently short term and he cant see the flaws in this logic.

    I suggest the last 35 years is an excellent case study the likes of Ferguson still cant come to terms with – that is using their logic you triumph in the short term (1979-2008) but then the unknowns and the illogicalities which were predicted at least qualitatively surface – and the rules change and your investment logic is revealed as questionable from a long term perspective.

    2. His likely violent opposition to the concept of intergenerational equity, the basis for directly mitigating climate change and environmental degradation. I haven’t been too far into what people like Ferguson believe but there was this interesting debate with Herman Daly about 20 years ago which is probably still extant. e.g.

    Beckerman W. ‘Sustainable Development’: Is it a Useful Concept? Environmental Values 1994; 3: 191-209.

    The claim is that rather than protecting the environment and future generations, sustainable development (in the older sense) people are positively evil.

    I’d be interested if you know of any other well written quasi-academic vignettes/links/ref on the logic of the right where their nastiness and poor logic is on display – as distinct from seductive rhetoric like for example Ayn Rand’s which seems to enchant the unwary on the right as aspects of Marxism do on the left.

  7. Newtownian
    May 7th, 2013 at 07:48 | #7

    While I agree with this concern on principle I’m a little wary about the example you use.

    While I use many of the fantastic resources of the web day today I’m not sure that this isn’t a case of diminishing returns – we do jobs faster but not necessarily better because we don’t stand still for long any more to say why and where is this leading and most importantly we are running out of spare time.

    And then I think of the huge use for downloading selfies and movies and wonder “why bother”.

    Transport is another interesting example – bigger better and faster but it creates increasing log jams which wont be solved with more of the same – freeways or now because we cant afford the more of the same solution – tollways facilitated by a transponder technology which promised universal road use taxing – the dream of the rentier but a waste of time existentially.

    I guess at bottom I agree privatization is a road to nowhere but for somewhat different reasons than keeping up with the Joneses current technology directions wise. Ancient Greece didn’t become what I would call great because they developed a bigger more grotesque version of the religious city state – Egypt. They are remembered because they went off on tangents and innovative philosophies.

    My grip is that currently we are emulating Egypt rather than Greece.

  8. Newtownian
    May 7th, 2013 at 07:50 | #8

    ps – first reply related to Ferguson, second reply relates to your post about technology. I know its obvious but just to save unnecessary reading.

  9. Alan
    May 7th, 2013 at 08:20 | #9


    I guarantee this was not a mistake by Ferguson. That claim will be canonical on the wilder shores of the Internet for years, and like other Ferguson retracted claims, will play very well with the nutters who control access to the incredibly lucrative rightwing lecture circuit. The retraction will be ignored as forced by the evil liberal media.

    Ferguson and others have a long history of playing for those fees.


  10. May 7th, 2013 at 10:40 | #10


    I’d advise not to refer to Ferguson & co on the rightwing as ‘neoliberal’ economists. While Ferguson’s political view can be classified as neoliberalism, he is not an economist, he only purports to be someone who think he knows economics. I’d personally refer to these people as rightwing strawmen, and keep the description of ‘something’ economists to which ‘something’ refers to a particular school of economic thought e.g. New Classical economists, Keynesian economists etc.

    As a related discussion, my personal translation of Keynes’ quote which he refered to is different. Since economics studies can not quantify a specific time frame to what economists refer to as short term and long term. This creates a big problem to the idea that market will self-adjust to equilibrium in the long run which is argued by various Classical and Neo-classical economists whom are/were prominent economic thinkers in Keynes’ time. Thus my interpretation Keynes’ quote is that he is criticising the usefulness of the concept of ‘long run’ and the reliance on this concept, due to the time frame being unidentifiable.

  11. Will
    May 7th, 2013 at 12:16 | #11

    My personal take on the Keynes line (for which he is bashed for perceived callousness ad nauseum) is that he is pointing out that the shift back to full employment could potentially play out over decades or even a lifetime, and so the platitude that “she’ll be right in the long run” is not much use to anyone who is stuck in a perpetual quagmire of underutilized capital and high unemployment.

  12. Newtownian
    May 7th, 2013 at 13:36 | #12

    How about celebrity economist? I take your point though as Ferguson appears more like an Economics Historian – at least that seems to be his CV. A bit like viewing medicos as hard scientists (some are but many are hybrids).

    Your comment about the unidentifiable timeframe is interesting. It had often puzzled me why when neoclassical economists put up their Cartesian plots of supply v. demand how time is largely (totally?) absent ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pareto_optimality ) or can be ignored as a factor when in biology, engineering etc. it is central.

    This and the theoretical origin of neoclassical economics (as I understand it) in chemical equilibrium theory would seem to explain this absence as many chemical equilibria their forefathers would have been familiar with would have been pretty quick – hence no need to consider time/reaction rates.

    It seems to explain also how the 2008 crisis was unforseen or was rationalized away much to JQ’s angst.

    Your point though is that Keynes being more of a process man(?) on the other hand would have been aware at heart of the centrality of at time big time lags, rates and rate limiting processes for economics. This also seems consistent with Will’s comment.

  13. Newtownian
    May 8th, 2013 at 07:18 | #13

    This link from the Guardian audio ‘abstracts’ may be of interest http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/2013/may/07/guardian-audio-edition-7-may-2013?INTCMP=mic_1593 . The first two relate to economics from two regulars, Monbiot and Elliot.

    Monbiot’s, deals with the dysfunctional psychology of the super-rich and arguably anyone who is obsessed with getting more wealth than they can ever use. His larger theme is how economic theory seems to have lost sight of its primary rationale, providing sufficient resources for ‘the good life’ with a growth for growth’s sake position which can never be satisfied and makes many either perpetually dissatisfied or miserable. Elliot’s offering discusses the UKIP phenomenon as a symptom of this dysfunctionality.

    Both themes are familiar to reader’s of this blog but are still quite nice summaries. They may also indicate a groundswell of questioning whither little crowded England is going as it continues to come to terms with loss of empire and wealth while its intellectual life is still vigorous.

  14. May 10th, 2013 at 10:04 | #14

    I am bemused that Julie Novak, now contributing regularly at Catallaxy, never misses an opportunity to call Julie Gillard a “fabian socialist”.

    The latest example – in her post arguing that the local government recognition referendum is a bad, bad idea, and will let Canberra gain direct stranglehold control of the entire country and be a triumph for “fabian socialist” Gillard.

    Her final reason for voting against it is to point out how much pleasure people should get from not giving Gillard anything she things is a good idea.

    Novak is, of course, also against the NDIS; probably at heart for pretty much the same reason: fabian socialists, [and um, the Productivity Commission] like it.

    Oh, and Catallaxy commenters have also pointed out the Agenda 21 e-vil connection with the recognition of local government too.

    I find large slabs of the Right very embarrassing at the moment.

  15. May 10th, 2013 at 11:00 | #15


    Julie Novak has been caught out using ‘ahem’ bad figures by both Matt Cowgill and Myself.

  16. Sancho
    May 13th, 2013 at 18:32 | #16
  17. Sancho
    May 13th, 2013 at 18:35 | #17

    The increasing Fabian references are to remind everyone that the public issues and policies of the left are only the tip of the iceberg and, somewhere, all of us progressive types are getting together to develop the hyper-communism that Novak knows is the real game.

    Look, the fact that she thinks the ALP is left wing is proof enough of someone who doesn’t understand politics.

  18. kevin1
    May 13th, 2013 at 19:02 | #18

    Gillard now repudiates even the “social democrat” label, much less the Fabian label which was ostensibly about constitutional rather than revolutionary means of getting socialism. But in the hot blooded 70s, nobody seriously accused declared Fabians Gough and Race Mathews of being threats to capitalism because, whatever their intellectual interests, they functioned as the anti-Left force in the ALP.

    Just an attempt to confect a conspiracy, or historical ignorance on Novak’s part, probably both.

  19. Sancho
    May 13th, 2013 at 19:05 | #19

    Have to say I’m fascinated to see how much influence the Tea Party wannabes will get if the Liberals are elected this year.

    I’m confident that preferential voting curbs the rush to that sort of extremism, but I’d also love to see it tested.

  20. kevin1
    May 13th, 2013 at 22:23 | #20

    Would you mind explaining how pref voting curbs the rush to extremism as it’s not self-evident to me?

  21. Jim Rose
    May 14th, 2013 at 17:31 | #21

    I thought fabian socialist were branded as neoliberals too?

  22. Will
    May 16th, 2013 at 22:15 | #22

    Hi JohnQ,

    I would very much like to see a blog post on the soon-to-be-introduced NDIS.

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