Home > Regular Features > Sandpit

Sandpit

September 28th, 2013

A new sandpit for long side discussions, idees fixes and so on.

Categories: Regular Features Tags:
  1. September 29th, 2013 at 12:41 | #1

    This may be more suited to Weekend Reflections or Monday Message Board but I am unsure.

    If we take the Zombie Economics out of current mainstream economics, do we basically end up with Richard Koo’s positioning on Economics?

    At present I think so but I’m open to being persuaded.

  2. Ikonoclast
    September 30th, 2013 at 07:36 | #2

    Could we have a regular Macroeconomics Sandpit?

    Today, I want to take issue with one (of the many) Howard/Costello policies that infuriated me with its rank stupidity.

    The creation of the Future Fund led to perverse effects. The normal “destination” of a budget surplus is the net destruction of that amount of fiat currency which is taxed in excess of the next round of outlays (expenditure). Technically, a budget is not in surplus at all if you apply the entire “surplus” to a future fund. For then the monies are spent into the future fund. From the future fund they are invested, usually in shares. Thence the future fund serves to inflate share prices thus having a perverse effect on markets.

    It would have been better to have taxed less (balanced the budget) and allowed people to make their own consumption and investment decisions. That would be provided the economy was not already overheated. But if the economy was overheated then damping consumption via a “surplus” but then putting that “surplus” to buy shares (pushing up share prices) must have a distorting effect. Aggregate demand is damped but share prices are held artificially high despite the lowered aggragate demand. How can this distortion be good for economy?

  3. sunshine
    September 30th, 2013 at 08:01 | #3

    ON ABC Radio Nationals Background Briefing show yesterday Coalition senator Tim Minchin spoke openly about how they repeatedly put winning power ahead of the national interest by saying no to everything Labor proposed -even when it was old Howard government policy .To his credit Tim opposed the universal application of that behavior but was far outnumbered by those who did not.

  4. September 30th, 2013 at 08:41 | #4

    @sunshine

    Did he sing the Pope Song?

  5. Ken Fabian
    September 30th, 2013 at 08:42 | #5

    Sunshine, I think that would be Nick Minchin – the one without the eyeshadow. I credit Minchin with a major part in entrenching climate science denial and obstructionism in the LNP and in mainstream Australian politics. Anyone as clever and well informed as him who willfully chooses to actively oppose and obstruct efforts to prevent permanent, irreversible harms derserves condemnation. He has spent decades encouraging community distrust of climate science through deliberate fertilising of community ignorance with BS and casual slander of scientist. Whatever good Minchin has done in his years as a Senator is undone and more by his dangerously ill informed and irrational position on climate.

    Science and the sincere and honest hard work of scientists have given us an incredible gift of incalculable value – ie advance warning of a serious and damaging danger to our future prosperity and security. Words fail me for describing just how appalling I think Minchin’s actions with respect to the climate problem have been. And I suspect the words I can think of would get me banned.

  6. Ikonoclast
    September 30th, 2013 at 10:37 | #6

    @Ken Fabian

    I totally agree with you. Minchin (Nick not Tim) is a preposterous and egregious charlatan. I thank Alex Downer for those adjectives. They apply so well to his necon side of poilitics.

  7. Donald Oats
    September 30th, 2013 at 13:43 | #7

    @Ken Fabian

    @Ikonoclast
    I’ll second and third your comments! Minchin played hardball on the climate thing, and given his obvious intelligence, that’s inexcusable. As Australia is at risk of some fairly significant increases in future maximum temperatures during this century, we have plenty to be concerned about. The 4C to 6C that Australia could face is more than enough to sink the boot into our agricultural industries. Couple that with the projected changes to rainfall—more flood events in the north, less rainfall in the south and southeast—and the picture isn’t pretty. Australia’s interests are not served by obfuscationists and denialists.

  8. Evan Elpus
    September 30th, 2013 at 18:21 | #8

    Yes, Minchin is a real book-burner. Unsettling to think one can rise high in the Oz political pantheon while simultaneously polishing your pig-ignorance till it shines. Watching him face-palm Naomi Oreskes on that ABC TV climate change show in April 2012 confirmed that if I’m ever sprung standing over a warm corpse with a smoking gun, Minchin can defend me. What a talent for blithe dismissal of the overwhelmingly obvious. But aren’t the hard Right really the new Stalinists? Les extremes se touchent…

  9. Ken Fabian
    October 1st, 2013 at 10:50 | #9

    This could be a bit close to home for our Host. I’d like to hear Pr. Quiggin’s unmitigated views but don’t expect it.

    Minchin’s remarks about the Climate Authority and Tim Flannery (abc I think) were appalling and, as is becoming the unacceptable but expectable norm, the egregious mistakes and slanders he expressed were simply passed over by the interviewer and allowed to go unchallenged.

    I can only presume that anyone prominent who sticks his/her head up and attempts to lead on this issue the way Pr. Flannery has will be attacked this same way; the least ill considered remark will be taken out of context, conflated and inflated, repeated and ridiculed until that’s almost the only thing most people will recall about them. This cannot happen except with the collusion of mainstream media.

  10. October 1st, 2013 at 22:06 | #10

    I spotted this in the latest piece by Chris Hedges:

    Occupy articulated the concerns of the majority of citizens. Most of the citizenry detests Wall Street and big banks. It does not want more wars. It needs jobs. It is disgusted with the subservience of elected officials to corporate power. It wants universal health care. It worries that if the fossil fuel industry is not stopped, there will be no future for our children. And the state is using all its power to stymie any movement that expresses these concerns. Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act show Homeland Security, the FBI, the Federal Protective Service, the Park Service and most likely the NSA and the CIA (the latter two have refused to respond to FOIA requests) worked with police across the country to infiltrate and destroy the encampments. There were 7,765 arrests of people in the movement. Occupy, at its peak, had about 350,000 people—or about 0.1 percent of the U.S. population.

    “Look how afraid the power structure was of a mere 1/10th of 1 percent of the population,” Zeese said. “What happens when the movement grows to 1 percent—not a far reach—or the 5 percent that some research shows is the tipping point where no government, dictatorship or democracy can withstand the pressure from below?”

    I’m interested in the idea that 5% of us could actually get our democracy back (assuming we could stop fighting amongst ourselves over trivia long enough).

    From a lot of the stuff I’ve read, fascists need roughly 20-25% acquiescence/complicity/blind approval to gain and keep power.

    From roughly the mid ’90s, I believe western ‘democracies’ have sacrificed civil liberties and other hard fought for rights. At first it was for ‘economic rationalism’ then ‘neo-liberalism’ now morphed into the ‘war on terrrrrrrr’.

    There certainly was a huge hate machine lined up against “occupy” and it was obviously driven by the dread of us reaching sufficient numbers to endanger the “1%”.

  11. Jim Rose
    October 2nd, 2013 at 16:41 | #11

    @Megan people take to the streets as self-appointed representatives of the masses when they fail at the ballot box – losing their deposits.

    it is easy to get into the state and federal upper houses. these minor parties range across the spectrum from semi-libertarian to economic nationalists of the left and right.

  12. Will
    October 2nd, 2013 at 18:09 | #12

    Jim Rose :
    @Megan people take to the streets as self-appointed representatives of the masses when they fail at the ballot box – losing their deposits.

    It is impossible to comprehend the amount of, for want of a better term, privilege, that goes into a single line such as this.

  13. October 3rd, 2013 at 19:16 | #13

    Establishment Media Theme, 2013 Election:

    “Greens Vote Collapses”

    Senate Fact, 2013 Election:

    Coalition is 1 seat down,
    ALP is 5 seats down,
    Greens hold at 9 seats.
    Xenophon holds,
    Palmer takes 3 seats (2 from ALP and 1 from Coalition),
    Family First takes 1 seat from ALP,
    Rev-Heads take 1 seat from Coalition.

    The Establishment Media have ignored this reality (even though the dodgy micro party Senate deals gamed the system to some extent).

    Obviously Abbott’s many exhortations to give him sole control of the Senate didn’t gain acceptance (remembering that this was an electorate determined to throw out the ALP).

    Another simple fact ignored in all the political coverage is that, between them, the ALP/LNP control both Houses and will use that control far more frequently than they will vote against each other – just as they did in the last parliament.

    Most legislation quietly passes on the combined votes of these 2 duopoly parties without any media comment.

  14. October 3rd, 2013 at 19:18 | #14

    Correction:

    Palmer takes 2 from ALP and 1 from Greens

  15. Jim Rose
    October 3rd, 2013 at 19:49 | #15

    @Will the socialist left are losers in australia. Socialists and communist parties win seats in many parliaments in the EU and japan and india

    These include the left party in germany, and various reborn communists in italy, greece and french presidential elections too, 10% to the trots and the like.

    Why does the left lose its deposits in australia when election to parliament is so easy overseas

  16. Will
    October 3rd, 2013 at 19:55 | #16

    Jim Rose :
    @Will the socialist left are losers in australia. Socialists and communist parties win seats in many parliaments in the EU and japan and india
    These include the left party in germany, and various reborn communists in italy, greece and french presidential elections too, 10% to the trots and the like.
    Why does the left lose its deposits in australia when election to parliament is so easy overseas

    Maybe I should attack your trite position from another perspective. I can’t think of a single great populist movement which was offered on a ballot and rejected which then subsequently morphed into protests and demonstrations. You have things bass-ackwards. The popular movements occur BECAUSE of the lack of representation.

  17. October 3rd, 2013 at 20:28 | #17

    @Jim Rose

    You might not have noticed that the Establishment Right (ALP/LNP) were the losers in the recent Australian Senate election – down 6 seats in all.

    The Greens missed out on holding a Senate seat in WA by 14 votes, but picked one up (from the right, ie ALP) in Victoria.

    To re-phrase my original point, using your rhetoric: “Why can’t the establishment right in Australia even manage to hold their senate numbers, let alone increase them?”

  18. October 3rd, 2013 at 23:28 | #18

    Also,

    The Liberal Democratic Party took one Senate seat in NSW – from the ALP.

    That was the one we were supposed to believe was just a mistake because “Liberal” voters are too stupid to notice that the “Liberal Democratic Party” isn’t the “Liberal Party”.

    That isn’t a plausible argument.

    And I imagine it isn’t one that the LNP would seriously want to promulgate. “How did we lose that NSW seat? Well, our constituents are stupid. Hmm, whose fault is that? Ours, sir.”

  19. Jim Rose
    October 4th, 2013 at 18:17 | #19

    T@Megan
    The greens elected 6 senators in 2010. 3 seanators this time.

  20. October 4th, 2013 at 18:37 | #20

    @Jim Rose

    I must bow to your novel logic.

  21. October 4th, 2013 at 23:58 | #21

    @Jim Rose

    Meanwhile, on planet earth, the Greens had 3 in the 2007 election up for contest in 2013 and held 3 (losing one by 14 votes on preference deals in WA -subject to appeal, and picking up one in Victoria).

    And picked up six in 2010.

    Whatever reality you choose to subscribe to, you cannot deny that the Greens have the same number of Senate seats they took into the 2013 election whereas the ALP/LNP lost 6 seats.

  22. October 9th, 2013 at 10:48 | #22

    http://milescorak.com/2013/10/08/americas-children-are-the-silent-victims-of-the-great-recession/

    A lot of the debates on the current economic woes around the world failed to consider a lot of serious problems that may come unnoticed by influential people in the debate such as politicians and economists.

    While austerity proponents have various arguments for implementing austerity measures which will most likely (if not certainly) prolong the economic downturn around the world i.e. in US and EU; in my opinion, the cost of lasting recession outweighs whatever benefits the proponents believe austerity MAY bring.

    Various plausible negative effects in a prolonged recession has been raised such as delaying the action on climate change, effect on output maybe permanent (as raised by Professor Quiggin), intergenerational effect on the future workforce (including negative effects on self-esteem, confidence, loss of skills and potential loss of education participation) and possible link of economic slump to physical abuse of children has been raised. I personally do not believe any supposed positive outcome (if any) from austerity measure really outweighs these potential costs.

  23. Jim Rose
    October 9th, 2013 at 14:28 | #23

    @Megan there bigger probelm is there is an alternative protest vote party now, assuming the palmer party can stay together, which is a big assumption.

  24. Tim Macknay
    October 9th, 2013 at 17:22 | #24

    @Jim Rose
    Indeed. That is an interesting question. PUP suffers similar problems to the old One Nation in that it’s organised around a personality, and it had to cobble together a large number of candidates in a very short space of time, so it’s not clear whether the members have any durable commitments or interests in common. On the other hand, Clive Palmer has a lot more money than Pauline Hanson did, and possibly has more sense (although that certainly remains to be seen).

    Personally I subscribe to the view that the decline in the Greens’ vote was mainly due to the “pure” protest vote (i.e. disengaged voters without strong ideological commitments who wanted to vote against the establishment) that usually rested with them moving to PUP, because of that party’s extremely high media profile during the latter stages of the election campaign.

  25. Fran Barlow
    October 9th, 2013 at 21:16 | #25

    Personally I subscribe to the view that the decline in the Greens’ vote was mainly due to the “pure” protest vote (i.e. disengaged voters without strong ideological commitments who wanted to vote against the establishment) that usually rested with them moving to PUP, because of that party’s extremely high media profile during the latter stages of the election campaign.

    It seems the most plausible to me, though we always tend to do worse in “plebiscite” elections.

  26. Ikonoclast
    October 9th, 2013 at 21:37 | #26

    I really don’t understand how any working class or middle class person could have been stupid enough to vote for PUP. Clearly (even in the name) it was a front party for the interests of one (near) billionaire.

    Why would anyone think that a billionarie or near billionaire would give two hoots about the interests of ordinary people? Take a look at Silvio Berlusconi and all the corruption and neglect of common peoples’ interests surrounding him. That is what happens when people are stupid enough to elect billionaires. But geez, all it takes it an advertising budget and people will fall for any nonsense. It’s very depressing actually.

  27. Fran Barlow
    October 9th, 2013 at 21:55 | #27

    @Ikonoclast

    I really don’t understand how any working class or middle class person could have been stupid enough to vote for PUP.

    There are a great many stupid and craven people in this country. There always have been and its not restricted to the poor either.

  28. Tim Macknay
    October 9th, 2013 at 21:58 | #28

    @Ikonoclast
    If it makes you feel any better, PUP only got 5.5% of the vote in the House and ranged between 2.2 and 9.8% in the Senate, depending on the State (the 9.8% figure is for Queensland).

    But the makeup of the Senate, coupled with wacky preference flows, has given it disproportionate influence, of course.

  29. October 9th, 2013 at 22:34 | #29

    Long-time readers will be unsurprised to hear that I don’t quite agree!

    There is a narrative put about by the establishment media that “it woz Clive’s money wot won it”.

    I suggest that this is probably untrue. The establishment media (with far more clout than a few bill-boards and MSM ads – and don’t forget Palmer spent less than the LNP) attempted to ridicule and denigrate PUP as a joke/novelty voting option. I imagine that alone pushed a chunk of voters his way. Then there is the fact (not lost on many “bogans”) that he may be a cynical and opportunistic billionaire, but at least he is Australian and (as a bonus) he is not Rupert Murdoch.

    The Greens/Palmer idea is odd. The Greens have been consistently building their base vote over about 17 years with a fairly clear political message. Palmer was essentially saying: “Hate the current record of Labor (on everything – including refugees) but don’t want to give the LNP a free kick? Vote for me”.

    As I keep trying to point out, the Greens vote did not collapse. If Palmer took a slice of cluelessly unthinking “protest” voters away from the Greens, then he took a much larger slice of genuinely protesting voters away from ALP/LNP.

    I’m one of those clueless moronic braindead Queenslanders who (after Greens) voted for Glen Lazarus because I didn’t want another robotic automaton from the ALP/LNP duopoly sitting in the Senate thanks to my “vote”.

  30. October 9th, 2013 at 22:58 | #30

    PS: I also think that a sizeable percentage of Greens votes (especially in the Senate) were cast on the basis that Rudd had rejected the Greens but Gillard had done them over.

    In much the same way that the Democrats demise can be tied to their Telstra sale deal with Howard and later identification with the ALP, the Greens made a terrible decision to trust Gillard’s ALP government and ended up being, not entirely unfairly, depicted as simply stooges of the ALP.

    If the Greens successfully distance themselves from the ALP in the opinion of the electorate, I believe they will continue to grow as a considerable force. I certainly hope so.

  31. Alan
    October 10th, 2013 at 05:21 | #31

    It’s also worth noting that PUP has a radically different policy on refugees to the major parties. One of Abbot’s major problems in the new senate will be finding a majority for Operation Sovereign Borders.

  32. J-D
    October 10th, 2013 at 07:13 | #32

    @Alan
    That’s a slogan, not a policy.

  33. Alan
    October 10th, 2013 at 08:08 | #33

    @J-D

    Palmer’s public statements have made his policy very clear. He wants onshore processing and the Convention rights observed. By the standards of the major parties that makes him a dangerous leftie on this issue.

  34. Ikonoclast
    October 10th, 2013 at 08:45 | #34

    As for this latest politician travel rorts issue, I think it’s a storm in a teacup. I really don’t care if politicians fiddle their travel expenses a bit. The real moral and intellectual crime is politicians who don’t understand macroeconomics, don’t care about solving unemployment and don’t care about or deny global warming, resource depletion and limits to growth. Those are crimes and oversights of a massive nature which will lead directly to widespread collapse and millions of unneccessary deaths. Travel rorts just don’t rate on the scale of the real challenges we face. But of course the media will always focus on the most trivial and emotive issues.

  35. Tim Macknay
    October 10th, 2013 at 11:36 | #35

    @Megan

    There is a narrative put about by the establishment media that “it woz Clive’s money wot won it”.

    Is there? I admit I don’t read or watch a whole lot of MSM, but I haven’t personally noticed this view being presented in the MSM. My view comes from my own observations and discussions with Greens members, most of whom endorse the “shift in the pure protest vote” hypothesis. Palmer’s money was involved to the extent that it funded his huge advertising blitz in the latter part of the election campaign, which massively boosted the party’s profile. The fact that the opinion polls showed a marked increase in PUP’s notional vote after Palmer’s ad blitz commenced supports the thesis that this boost in awareness helped his vote significantly.

    The establishment media (with far more clout than a few bill-boards and MSM ads – and don’t forget Palmer spent less than the LNP) attempted to ridicule and denigrate PUP as a joke/novelty voting option. I imagine that alone pushed a chunk of voters his way.

    Yes, I agree that Palmer’s status as an anti-establishment outsider was the main source of his appeal to protest voters. I doubt though, that many people who voted for him were paying attention to the insider commentary in the Murdoch press and ABC.

    The Greens/Palmer idea is odd. The Greens have been consistently building their base vote over about 17 years with a fairly clear political message. Palmer was essentially saying: “Hate the current record of Labor (on everything – including refugees) but don’t want to give the LNP a free kick? Vote for me”.

    It’s not as odd as it seems. It’s well known within the Greens, and among psephologists, that for the last two decades or so, a portion of the Greens vote has been “pure protest”, i.e. people who don’t have a particularly strong attachment to the Greens platform, but vote for them as an anti-establishment statement. It’s thought that this protest vote lines up, to some degree, with the minority proportion of the Greens vote that preferences the Conservatives rather than Labor. The fact that, in the recent election, the proportion of Greens preferences flowing to labor was higher than usual (i.e. around 90% rather than the usual 75-80%), supports the thesis that the decline in the Greens vote was at least partially due to the departure of this protest vote.

    the Greens made a terrible decision to trust Gillard’s ALP government and ended up being, not entirely unfairly, depicted as simply stooges of the ALP.

    Although I personally wouldn’t characterise the Greens-Labor deal this way – I think it was something of a ‘marriage of convenience’ that became less convenient for both sides later on – I do agree that the perceived closeness of the Greens to the Gillard government may have dented the party’s anti-establishment credentials and in doing so assisted the shift in the protest vote away from the Greens.

    As I keep trying to point out, the Greens vote did not collapse.

    Given that no-one on this thread has said that the Greens vote collapsed, I wonder why you keep doing that. Presumably you don’t deny that the Greens vote declined in comparison to the 2010 election.

    Personally, I hope that Scott Ludlam’s bid to secure a Senate recount in WA is successful and results in him and the Australian Sports Party candidate being elected to the Senate. Although I like and respect Louise Pratt, I would prefer to see the number of confirmed anti-carbon tax Senators reduced by one.

  36. Tim Macknay
    October 10th, 2013 at 12:53 | #36

    It looks like Scott Ludlam will be getting his recount.

  37. J-D
    October 10th, 2013 at 19:25 | #37

    @Alan
    I had not looked at Palmer’s public statements, but I have now. They are based on the assumption that claims can be processed in a matter of hours. Claims are not now processed anything like so expeditiously, so the question necessarily arises of what changes in the rules are expected to speed things up so dramatically.

  38. Jim Rose
    October 10th, 2013 at 19:58 | #38

    @Tim Macknay when palmer makes his crazy statements, he is not appealing to 90% of voters, he is after the 10% who want to protest vote. People forget that.

  39. rog
    October 10th, 2013 at 21:24 | #39

    Judith Sloan goes on holidays and blames penalty rates for the closure of the local Bunnings on a public holiday. As Bunnings elsewhere were open you could conclude that the QLD market for hardware is feeling the effects of austerity.

    PS there is no Bunnings in Mooloolaba

  40. Alan
    October 11th, 2013 at 00:38 | #40

    @J-D

    I spent quite along time working in the department of intimidation. Those claims could be processed much faster than the immigration bureaucracy and the government have persuaded themselves they could be. If there are no security issues, which is true of the vast majority of cases, there is no reason they could not be finalised in a month or so. The immigration bureaucracy processes those claims slowly because it empowers them as a bureaucracy and instead of making fairly routine decisions they are making great big important decisions. The UK and Canada manage to process these claims much more quickly than we do, and they do not need privative clauses to prevent the courts reviewing their work.

    As soon as you look at what happens in other countries the whole nonsense about th difficulty of processing collapses.

  41. J-D
    October 11th, 2013 at 07:15 | #41

    @Alan
    I don’t know how quickly they could be processed, although I’m absolutely in favour of processing them as quickly as possible. You suggest that most of them could be processed in a month or so. Palmer’s public statements suggest that most of them could be processed in a day or so. There’s a big difference. Do the UK and Canada process most claims in a day or so?

  42. Alan
    October 11th, 2013 at 08:24 | #42

    @J-D

    I have not made the claim that applications could be processed in a day. Nor have I claimed that the UK and Canada process within a month. Why then are you putting these claims to me instead of Clive?

  43. J-D
    October 11th, 2013 at 11:04 | #43

    @Alan
    The claim I am responding to is in fact your claim, namely, that Clive Palmer’s public statements make his policy clear. Since those statements imply that he thinks processing can be done in a day or so, but don’t explain how he supposes that speeding-up could be achieved, my view, in direct opposition to the one stated by you, is that his public statements don’t make his policy clear.

    If I had a strong interest in having it made clear, naturally it would make sense for me to direct my inquiries to Clive Palmer and not to you, but the only point I was making here is that, contrary to your stated position, it is not something that has already been made clear.

    I hope that helps to make my position clear.

  44. Jim Rose
    October 12th, 2013 at 11:02 | #44

    I have not seen any media reports on what Greenpeace expected to happen to them after they illegally boarded Russian ships and installations. Deportation? Plainly, they got that wrong.

    Greenpeace is rather precious when they complain that others board their ships over a political disagreement. They claim the right to board other ships uninvited.

Comments are closed.