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A progressive alternative economic agenda

June 26th, 2015

This is a statement released yesterday and endorsed by a group of unions and individuals, including me. It calls for a progressive alternative economic policy. It’s a statement of principles rather than a program, and essentially a restatement of the social democratic position that represents the best of the Australian labor movement, free of both dogmatic leftism and the capitulation to market liberalism we’ve seen over the past thirty years or so.

A program developed on these principles would, I believe, be electorally popular if only we could get it before the public. But the policy elite, including journalists and the press, remain under the spell of market liberalism, despite its evident failures. So, our public debate will continue to be dominated by silly pointscoring about debt, deficits and the need for “reform”.

The full text is over the fold (the link goes to a properly formatted version)

Media Release
June 25, 2015
People’s movement needed to achieve
a progressive alternative economic agenda –
a secure prosperous and sustainable future for all Australians
A new grassroots movement is underway which should demonstrate to next month’s ALP National Conference that there is strong community support for a progressive change to Australia’s cosy consensus-at-the-top that ‘markets are best’.
Instead of a public debate about the real drivers of and dangers to our economic and social security and prosperity, the focus continues on ‘more of the same’ extreme fetish for a Budget surplus, smaller government, lower taxes and ever more privatisation and deregulation.
A People’s Economic Alternative is emerging to call on Australians to engage with each other to devise a new economic direction which can overcome the ever-widening inequality and ever-greater insecurity that mark the lives of more and more people, and meet the challenge of ecological sustainability at a time of accelerating and unmitigated climate change.
A People’s Economic Alternative is an initiative of trade unions, welfare, community and political organisations. These organisations have memberships totalling over 300,000 and this is the basis for a new grassroots initiative to change the debate over the next two to three years.
The global economic system, especially in Europe, continues to be marked by high unemployment, recession or very low growth, and harsh policies directed at the majority of working people rather than on the rich who refuse to sacrifice. Fundamental reforms to the way finance functions haven’t materialised, neither have changes in the dominant economic agenda of further de-regulation, privatisation, shrinking of the state and dilution of social contracts. Unlike the period following the Great Depression, it seems few countries have learned any lessons from the GFC. Eight years on, more financial shocks are to be expected, not fewer.
In response to the continued dominance of the neo-liberal agenda, the labour and broader social justice movements want to put forward a credible, well-defined, economic agenda as a progressive alternative.
A progressive agenda needs to take the latest thinking in economics and marry it to progressive Australian values and traditions. The labour movement, as the voice of workers, and the broader social justice community, has the capacity and social connections to lead such a great project.
A People’s Economic Alternative is trying to reverse a three decade’s long conventional wisdom about what constitutes good and credible economic policy.
We intend to build a nationwide campaign for a progressive political economic strategy. That involves a broader debate about how the economy and politics work to mainly benefit the rich and powerful, and what are the basic values that a progressive economy should serve – security, fairness and ecological sustainability. The economy should serve society, rather than the reverse.
To begin this process of challenge and change, the People’s Economic Alternative has proposed a set of values and principles that can underpin a new progressive economic agenda and a process for uniting the many dynamic parts of the labour and broader social justice movements.
For further comment, contact:
Andrew Dettmer AMWU 0419 899 345
Prof John Quiggin 0400747165
Fran Hayes f-collective 0419 416 061
Underpinning values
Equity; Fairness; Equality of opportunity; Recognition of the rights of future generations; Basic equality of outcomes, e.g. a living wage and dignified social support; Recognition of roles of both markets and government; Respect for science and education, e.g. economics is much more than a slogan like ‘markets rule’; People’s wellbeing is the ultimate objective, not profits.
10 Principles
Principle 1: Economic growth is not an end in itself, but is a means to better the lives of the Australian people, including future generations.
• The environment, mental and physical health, strong communities, security, art, freedom, and fairness matter as much if not more for wellbeing as growth in income and wealth.
Principle 2: Economic growth must lead to broad-based and inclusive economic development. No discrimination – all citizens have the right to participate fully in the society
• Growth must benefit all – women, the aged, youth, Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander peoples, immigrant communities. Strengthen human rights laws and agencies.
Principle 3: Government benefits must be targeted to those in need, adequate to achieve their goals and not used as punishment.
• People have a right to sufficient welfare support or a living wage.
Principle 4: Good budget management is essential, but this means ensuring solvency, not a blind insistence on budget surpluses.
• A budget surplus is not the measure of good policy, which should aim to fulfil the government’s role in a solvent way. If you don’t need our money, give it back to us.
Principle 5: Fair regulation means that we all get a go. Good regulation recognises Principle 1: it is people’s welfare, not just economic growth, which matters.
• Reject the idea that regulation is a ‘bad’. Non-income drivers of wellbeing need strong regulation to support them.
Principle 6: Workers have a fundamental human right to organise, collectively bargain and take democratically-determined industrial action.
• Workers are people, not just units of production – an economy should work for people, not the other way around.
Principle 7: Provision of government services by an independent and impartial public service is an important responsibility of our elected government.
• We want a government that understands and does its job as best as possible, not one that doesn’t think it has a job.
Principle 8: Companies and high income earners must pay their fair share.
• Our tax system is skewed for high income earners – it needs to be re-balanced and made fairer.
Principle 9: We need a broad-based economy, and not one simply based on agriculture, resource extraction and the services sector.
• The government has a strategic industrial role to play, to ensure a diversified economy.
Principle 10: Trade is crucial, but it must be fair and in the national interest.
• Trade shouldn’t be used to place corporate interests above people’s interests.
Australian Manufacturing Workers Union National; Construction, Forestry, Mining & Energy Union; Finance Sector Union National, Maritime Union of Australia Sydney Branch; Fire Brigade Employees Union NSW Branch; National Tertiary Education Union NSW Branch; ALP Socialist Left NSW; Greens NSW; SEARCH Foundation; Evatt Foundation; F-Collective; No Westconnex Community Action Groups; Migrante Australia; AFTINET; Australian Political Economy Movement; Immigrant Women’s Speakout; Asian Women at Work.

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  1. Susan Craven
    June 26th, 2015 at 08:29 | #1

    Great to see an alternative economic proposition. Hopefully it will start a debate and not be dismissed by the liberal quackery which predominates in today’s media.

  2. June 26th, 2015 at 08:36 | #2

    The first part of principle 1 is unquestionable. The second part remains to be seen. Have you any empirical support, John, for the claim that economic growth, per se, is a means to a better life or are you just basing that on historical correlations?

  3. June 26th, 2015 at 08:44 | #3

    @Sandwichman
    What I mean is that vastly expanded consumption of fossil fuel may well have enabled both economic growth and improvements in the standards of living, at least in the wealthy countries. But that has been at the unaccounted cost of an immense concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Unless you can show that economic growth and improvements in living standards can continue with a radical reduction in the use of fossil fuels and consequent emissions, you are simply assuming that the past correlation between growth and better living (in the wealthy countries) implied a causal relation between growth and living standards.

  4. Ikonoclast
    June 26th, 2015 at 08:55 | #4

    I agree with the sentiments overall. I might cavil at details and re-word some stuff but that is not really important. I just wonder if there is any chance of the rank and file in the ALP or the people influencing the direction of the ALP party? Frankly, I don’t think there is much chance. I maintain my prediction that the ALP is un-reformable and essentially a party of neo-liberalism now, at least at the level of the Parliamentary wing.

    The only way to effectively reject the neo-liberal policies of the LNP and ALP is not vote for them. Vote for the Greens. It really is that simple.

  5. Peter Chapman
    June 26th, 2015 at 09:01 | #5

    Needs a good edit.
    A principle that reflects the notion that “housing is a basic right” is a desirable inclusion. Shelter and other organisations have articulated this principle. Housing should of course be safe, secure, affordable, accessible, well-located in relation to services and infrastructure (etc.). As a fundamental element of the economy, both as production and (necessary) consumption, housing deserves and cries out for separate recognition.
    A similar argument could be made for including clear statements about the economic role of education.
    I also take it that this agenda is to be pursued in the context of a (small ‘l’) liberal capitalism. The role of the state in such a system should be considered: the state should be strong (in the sense of having a self-confidence about the economic management tools available to it, and its capacity to wield those tools) and reflexive (in the sense that it can intelligently monitor economic conditions and know when to apply the tools and resources available to it, and when to be constrained). The state should also be strategic, as stated, and (for example) apply stimulus measures in activities that will generate employment and future revenue for the state to re-apply to a comprehensive program for supporting economic and social wellbeing.
    A final comment is that an “alternative economic agenda” will also be an “alternative social and political agenda”. The two are somewhat mixed in this statement; they are of course inseparable, but the difference should also be acknowledged. The alternative economic program will not be achieved without a broad-based social and political movement.

  6. Troy Prideaux
    June 26th, 2015 at 09:10 | #6

    Ikonoclast :
    I just wonder if there is any chance of the rank and file in the ALP or the people influencing the direction of the ALP party? Frankly, I don’t think there is much chance.

    In the long term? I really really hope so… but I doubt it. Not with the current party funding structures and sources. Not with the influence the Murdoch media has on the national debate. But… I suppose… the times, they are’a change’n so… who knows 🙂

  7. john goss
    June 26th, 2015 at 09:22 | #7

    I hope, John, this is the first step in your campaign to become the Independent member for the seat of Ryan.

  8. Mark Williams
    June 26th, 2015 at 09:41 | #8

    Nothing overtly on trashing the world through overpopulation? A progressive economic agenda built on internalizing negative environmental externalities – yes to some extent. But does the current dominant paradigm of the Left go anywhere near over population Issues? No. Get some Conservation Biologists on your team to give this backbone.

  9. June 26th, 2015 at 09:42 | #9

    Man, how many times have I seen theoretical economists (and the very good ones) looking at workers and unemployment and wages only as units and numbers and not a human matter. I am glad to be an empirical economist and thinking the same way as this manifesto.

  10. rational liberal
    June 26th, 2015 at 10:36 | #10

    Hi John,
    I’m no fan of the crony capitalist system we have now, but this sounds like the old “from each according to their ability to be given to each according to their needs” mantra.

    Over time and generations it weakens and destroys societies. It will destroy the very fabric of the society which currently shields the unwilling/unable from the harshness of the world. At its root, its driven by the psychology of envy resulting in actions aimed at taking down the successful rather than personally striving for what you want. It’s also profoundly cowardly and evil because you won’t even go after the successful ones yourself, you’ll hide behind the skirts of government and seek to have others do the dirty work for you. You need to get over your deep seated feelings of inferiority, because that is driving your envy. Instead, leave other people alone. Figure out what makes you happy and go after it.

    By the way, thanks for having me on this blog. I’m really enjoying it.

  11. Ivor
    June 26th, 2015 at 10:58 | #11

    The document indicates how seriously its sponsors, authors and supporters take carbon emissions to be.

  12. Historyintime
    June 26th, 2015 at 11:37 | #12

    Fails at 1st hurdle – calling it “alternative” economic policy. Redolent of late 70s/early80s “alternative” economic strategy. Branding as ‘alternative’ is feeble and invites dismissal Thatcher had it right – “there is no alternative”.

  13. Historyintime
    June 26th, 2015 at 11:39 | #13

    To make a positive contribution : call it New Economic Strategy or Modern Economic Strategy.

  14. Simon
    June 26th, 2015 at 12:05 | #14

    While I agree with the overall aim, I doubt this will make much headway. Why not?

    1. The ALP Caucus will not implement it. The same Caucus that will not support a Royal Commission into an obviously corrupt financial system will not engage in the kind of movement building and challenging of business interests that implementing this agenda will require. This is not simply a matter of argument and evidence. Many (most?) ALP MPs do not agree that this kind of agenda is either practical or desirable. Many support ‘free trade’ and an economy in which effective trade unionism has been largely demobilised and marginalised.

    2. There is no evidence that there is a social and political movement of sufficient size, organisation and cohesion that would make this agenda practical from an electoral perspective. Approx. 40 per cent of union members vote for the Coalition. Are they going to engage in the kind of movement building necessary to place sufficient pressure on a future Labor government to implement this agenda? I doubt it.

    A practical alternative economic agenda can only arise on the basis of the active involvement of social forces with the political weight and organisation needed to enforce change. Those forces do not currently exist. That is why the ALP Caucus is comfortable with most aspects of neoliberal policy and why it can ignore this agenda and still win the next election.

    This agenda does raise an important question:

    Is the ‘policy-implementing wing’ of the ALP (not Conference, not the members, but those groups in around the Federal MPs who actually decide what to do when in govt) likely to implement this agenda?

    If the answer is ‘no’, then what needs to change inside and outside the ALP to make it more likely that it will? That’s where this discussion needs to start.

  15. Tom Davies
    June 26th, 2015 at 12:08 | #15

    …especially in Europe, continues to be marked by high unemployment, recession or very low growth

    Would campaigning for better monetary policy be the best way to help working people?

  16. Nevil Kingston-Brown
    June 26th, 2015 at 13:05 | #16

    @rational liberal
    1) Have you ever read anything that wasn’t written by Ayn Rand? If we wanted to read a rehash of John Galt’s speech, there are places for that already.
    2) Have you considered taking your own advice, and going and doing something useful instead of trying to make yourself happy by trolling?

  17. Fran Barlow
    June 26th, 2015 at 13:06 | #17

    @rational liberal

    I’m going to suggest that you interrogate your claims here, which seem to have no foundation.

    Putting aside that PrQ is clearly not proposing anything like “from each according to his abilities to each according to his needs” (even commun|sts don’t advocate that until material abundance is approached and therewith the beginnings of the dissolution of class society on a world scale is achieved) …

    Your claim that

    Over time and generations it weakens and destroys societies.

    can point to no exemplar. It has never been done in a society approaching abundance.

    Your claim that

    At its root, it’s driven by the psychology of envy resulting in actions aimed at taking down the successful rather than personally striving for what you want.

    is again simply a wave of that hand — an attempt to pathologise something, again without any plausible research base — which is far more easily explained by the longstanding history of community. Collaboration requires a degree of empathy, and with empathy comes both solidarity, a desire to be part of something larger than oneself, to be affirmed by people recognised as peers and so forth.

    You also assume, uncritically, that ‘the successful’ are marked by wealth and privilege (with the implication that those not so marked are failures). This is a kind of secular neo-Calvinism (God would not allow the evil to be rich, ergo, being rich is its own ethical badge of virtue). Clearly the vast majority of the world, on this view are contemptible and deserve to be oppressed and explotied, on the grounds that they are inferior. Why ‘crony capitalism’ would be wrong in this paradigm is hard to say.

    It’s also profoundly cowardly and evil because you won’t even go after the successful ones yourself. You’ll hide behind the skirts of government and seek to have others do the dirty work for you.

    Again, this is specious — a kind of piling Pelion upon Ossa error, where you assume your categories are beyond demur and then build new levels upon them — if the state is an instrument of authentic community its work is not ‘dirty’ and calling upon its agency not ‘cowardly’ or ‘evil’. Indeed, it’s precisely because society ought not to be a free-for-all for those passionate about one thing or another that the state, assuming it really is an instantiation of authentic community — is the most appropriate vehicle for ensuring that the burdens and benefits of socially necessary labour are equitably settled.

    I don’t know enough about you to guess why you have reiterated right wing libertarian paradigm complete with pop psychology, but it’s a tawdry contribution on a blog like this.

  18. Collin Street
    June 26th, 2015 at 13:15 | #18

    > I’m going to suggest that you interrogate your claims here, which seem to have no foundation.

    He be cra~yzee.

  19. Nick
    June 26th, 2015 at 13:54 | #19

    “A budget surplus is not the measure of good policy, which should aim to fulfil the government’s role in a solvent way. If you don’t need our money, give it back to us.”

    While I agree with the sentiment to me that wording is problematic. I’m no economist but isn’t the goal counter-cyclical economic management? i.e. surpluses in the good times and deficits in the bad. I realise that generally the right only believes in surpluses all the time but that doesn’t mean we should humour them.

  20. tom skladzien
    June 26th, 2015 at 14:07 | #20

    Great initiative and its especially pleasing to have someone of your caliber and reputation on board with it John.
    You lend the initiative a degree of credibility and legitimacy that’s hard for opponents to brush off.
    As wise men have said; first they ignore you, then they mock you, then they argue and finally they accept you. I suspect (and hope) we’re leaving the ignoring phase!

  21. BilB
    June 26th, 2015 at 14:32 | #21

    I think that is a good initiative and clearly it is a kick of which requires work.

    I would say though that in order to get broad acceptance some things must be given up.

    A new start must start anew for today,

    so it should reflect that we live in a 24 hour 7 day world and sllow people to create employment agreements and working arrangements to facilitate this.

    It should understand that we live in a country where everything is “owned” and it is essentially illegal to have nothing, so homelessness should not be possible. The State has a responsibility to ensure basic accommodation and sustenance or the means to earn this.

    It should recognise the unique nature of aboriginal culture and adjust fore that.

    I don’t believe that I saw the word “sustainable” in there anywhere. A new start should aspire towards sustainability at an achieveable rate.

    A new start should reject domination of mass media, marketing, resources, entertainment, sport, financial structures, etc, by single interests or ideologies.

  22. Donald Oats
    June 26th, 2015 at 15:35 | #22

    Good. I agree with Peter Chapman that something about housing as a right would be good. I’ve met and spoken with a number of the homeless people in and around where I live, and one thing is pretty obvious: a number of them have mental health issues that dog their lives, which is part of the reason they are homeless, and homelessness only serves to create yet more mental distress, quite a vicious circle. In such a prosperous society as Australia, it seems crazy that we can’t find a way of giving a home—which provides stability—for these people.

    Good luck with getting some media attention, given the frenzied attack upon the ABC (again), Bill Shorten’s woes with the commission, and cat videos.

  23. J-D
    June 26th, 2015 at 16:08 | #23

    @rational liberal

    You’re enjoying yourself on this blog? Why? Do you have difficulty finding an audience when you want to spout rubbish?

    I’ve read that reddit is supposed to be good for that, although I’ve never checked it out myself.

  24. Tim Macknay
    June 26th, 2015 at 16:21 | #24

    @Historyintime
    I agree with the naming proposals. Perhaps even ‘Twenty-First Century Economic Strategy’.

  25. paul walter
    June 26th, 2015 at 16:50 | #25

    Judging by the conditions the Troika are trying to impose on Syriza and Greece, this approach would be a source of great mirth for the likes of Merkel, Blanchard and Lagarde. Time will tell how long it takes and in what form before the black death reaches Australia also, given the sort of government we have and the deals they are signing behind or backs

  26. Julie Thomas
    June 26th, 2015 at 17:04 | #26

    @rational liberal

    you wrote “the old “from each according to their ability to be given to each according to their needs” mantra””

    I understood that the saying went like this; “From each according to their ability, to each according to their need”,

    That saying is far older than Marx and it is the only maxim or value on which to base any system that has to take human nature into account. This saying is actually quite brilliant.

    Who is this rational liberal dude? Could it be poor old Rafe?

  27. Ikonoclast
    June 26th, 2015 at 17:20 | #27

    @Fran Barlow

    I wonder if rational liberal’s nickname is intentionally a double-barrel irony? 😉

  28. Ivor
    June 26th, 2015 at 17:38 | #28

    @Ikonoclast

    Actually Scientologists, Randites and Mormons all think of themselves as being “rational”.

    Liberal is the same as Tony Abbott, Maggie Thatcher and Sarah Palin.

  29. June 26th, 2015 at 18:33 | #29

    Is this a case of “their poison is bad for you, try ours”? It would take a lot more than this to get to sound policy, let alone policy that people would favour.

  30. Ernestine Gross
    June 26th, 2015 at 20:26 | #30

    Preliminary comment.

    On first reading, there is nothing in the draft document I could find, which is outside contemporary (post 1950) economics, this includes the major developments in general equilibrium theory about which I wrote every so often.

    Why not call it The Economic Agenda?

    I agree with those who question the term ‘alternative’; it implies what we have is an economic agenda, which is not obvious to me. You, JQ, have discussed the notion of ‘progressive’ and ‘conservative’. My preference is to leave politics out as much as possible.

  31. Ikonoclast
    June 26th, 2015 at 21:20 | #31

    @Ivor

    small “l” liberal is something quite different from Tony Abbott, Maggie Thatcher and Sarah Palin.

  32. June 26th, 2015 at 21:50 | #32

    For God’s sake, why didn’t you tell us that that link went to a PDF file, or at the very least tell us how big it was? I had to kill it in case it killed my system by being too big.

  33. Tom Davies
    June 26th, 2015 at 22:27 | #33

    @P.M.Lawrence Are you surfing the web on a ZX-80? The PDF is two pages.

  34. plaasmatron
    June 26th, 2015 at 22:37 | #34

    I don’t like the wording in Principle 4.

    “If you don’t need our money, give it back to us.”

    That is a red rag to a Libertarian.

    I notice it only appears in the pdf version, not in the version above.

  35. plaasmatron
    June 26th, 2015 at 22:38 | #35

    No wait, it is there in both versions.

  36. June 27th, 2015 at 04:17 | #36

    Instead of the conservative slogan, “Economic growth is a means to better the lives of the Australian people, including future generations…” a people’s movement should inscribe on their banner the revolutionary watchword: “Abolition of the growth imperative!”

  37. James Wimberley
    June 27th, 2015 at 04:27 | #37

    Principle 3 is badly crafted. What does it mean to say that benefits “should not be used as punishment?” Perhaps “should not be used as the carrot in a scheme of rewards and punishments”.

  38. James Wimberley
    June 27th, 2015 at 04:29 | #38

    ” … is badly drafted”

  39. rog
    June 27th, 2015 at 05:56 | #39

    @Ernestine Gross Or perhaps “A Conservative Economic Agenda”.

    This should cut the ground from so called Liberals while appealing to the retro voters.

  40. Ikonoclast
    June 27th, 2015 at 07:11 | #40

    @Sandwichman

    How about;

    “Endless growth is the slogan of cancer.”

  41. June 27th, 2015 at 09:45 | #41

    @Ikonoclast

    The following reply went into moderation, I suppose because it contained a link. Here it is again without the link.

    Sandwichman :

    Well, no. That’s an analogy. In his 1947, “Measurement of Economic Growth,” Simon Kuznets warned about the danger of analogies:

    Growth is a concept whose proper domicile is the study of organic units, and the use of the concept in economics is an example of that prevalent employment of analogy the dangers of which have been so eloquently stressed recently by Sidney Hook.

    In the article Kuznets cited, Hook argued that an analogy”is formally worthless and never logically compelling” as an argument, adding that “argument from analogy can be countered usually with another argument from analogy which leads to a diametrically opposed conclusion.” He was especially critical of the analogy of society as an organism:

    The belief that society is an organism is an old but fanciful notion. It can only be seriously entertained by closing the eye to all the respects in which a group of separate individuals differs from a system of connected cells, and by violently redefining terms like “birth,” “reproduction,” and “death.”

    So I think the economic growth metaphor falls on its own worthless, fanciful illogic, if only the worshippers of the growth idol would listen to what their Moses said.

  42. sunshine
    June 27th, 2015 at 10:28 | #42

    rational liberal ;- There is a limit to your theory. How much can you have before others will have no choice but to take it from you ,what happens then? Libertarians always respect violence so this point makes sense to them.

    James W ;- i think principle 3 refers to how less well off (deserving) welfare recipients are made to feel like evildoers .Well off recipients don’t suffer this fate.

    Since I am a dreamer * I would like to include (non-human) animal rights in principle 2 .Just as the concept of human rights has gradually been extended over the years from a very small origin to cover most kinds of humans (at least in the minds of Western educated folk it has) it should also eventually cover most other animals.
    * Principle 1 could also mention that while we pursue economic growth we should recognise that it doesn’t affect happiness levels much after the basics of life are taken care of ,we had the physical means to achieve this for everyone in the world decades ago, and that there may eventually be limits to growth anyway.

  43. Julie Thomas
    June 27th, 2015 at 11:09 | #43

    sunshine, I think rl is very much aware of and worried about that limit to the theory and that is why these freedom loving people he seems to be supporting are so happy to let the neo-conservatives trash so many of our ‘freedoms’.

    Look how they stand by and support this current build up of the forces of authority and repression.

    This build up may seemed irrationally aimed at the Muslims; you know how they are taking our way of life away, but it will come in handy to protect property from those others who just may be plotting to take away their privileged way of life.

    Oh they loves their stuff; it is how they define themselves; propertarians have nothing else do they?

    But the ordinary person who is as rl worries, envious of the rich. Envy is one of the deadly sins that Dante identified but rl with his narrow minded ideology and fear of losing his stuff and his priviliges can’t see that both Christianity and Buddhism offer positive ways for people rich and poor to deal with that emotion.

    Over the past decades ordinary people have been persuaded to turn that natural and very human emotion – envy – onto those who have even less than they do, rather than rationally look at those who have more and wonder; do they really deserve their wealth? What did they really do for freedom during the aspirational decades?

    Personally I think that buddhism is a far better ideology than christianity; it is the most rational ideology I have found. Buddhism provides a rational way of reasoning about desire and methods for the reduction of these irrational emotions that drive human reasoning and behaviour.

    But really rl is worried about the destruction of civilization because he can only visualise one version of civilization. I wonder if he understands the concept of creative destruction?

  44. Cameron Pidgeon
    June 27th, 2015 at 15:47 | #44

    Hi John,
    Is the PDF version the final edit? As I read, I found myself itching to make changes. The language could be simplified a lot. The title has already been dissected by others but here is my take: the first part needs to be shorted to three words, something like ‘A Progressive Economic Agenda’ or ‘A Movement for a Progressive Economy’ or other wording. Loose the word ‘Peoples’, I agree with the sentiment behind it but it turns too many people off. The second part of the title should start: ‘Creating a secure, prosperous…’.

    Would like to say more but no time right now.

    Cheers,

    Cam

  45. June 27th, 2015 at 21:55 | #45

    I like it a lot. We desperately need a set of guiding principles that are easily understood, and easy to apply against the neo-liberal agenda of grasping, short term greed.

  46. TN
    June 27th, 2015 at 22:59 | #46

    Ho hum, more slaying of straw economic men. The use of the term ‘Neo-liberal’ gives the lack of rigour on this statement sway. These creatures apparantly believe that economic growth is an end on itself, but that’s strange because, in all my years in and around policy circles, I’ve never meet anyone who thought that. Another air swing comes when the statement insists that regulation is not always bad, as if the mainstream view, or perhaps at least the view of these imagined Neo-liberals, is that it is. Again, from all my years in policy, including time in regulation review, I have NEVER come across such a view.

  47. Megan
    June 27th, 2015 at 23:38 | #47

    Test??

  48. Megan
    June 27th, 2015 at 23:41 | #48
  49. Megan
    June 27th, 2015 at 23:46 | #49

    Weird. Is “ICH” on some kind of absolute ban here? When I attempted to link my comment didn’t just go to eternal moderation, it vanished entirely.

    Anyway…

    Watch that video, it’s from CBS 1960, Ed Murrow. Very telling to hear so many of the same neo-con/neo-lib talking point hacked out again and again more than 50 years ago.

    The union doesn’t come out of it too well either.

  50. Megan
    June 27th, 2015 at 23:48 | #50

    PS: The quote that sums it up was: “We used to own our slaves, now we just rent them”.

  51. Julie Thomas
    June 28th, 2015 at 07:51 | #51

    @TN

    You probably have come across the ‘belief’ even if you have not come across the ‘view’ that you are characterising as not a not-a-thing. You would not recognise the belief in neo-liberalism that underpins the ‘pragmatism’ and ‘common-sense’ that you do see.

    Why can’t you see these neo-liberal beliefs that so many other people do see? Why choose to conclude that there is something ‘wrong’ with ‘them’ and their views, and choose not to accept that there is something wrong with ‘you’ that you can’t see these things that are so obvious to others?

    So what is the alternative belief that these neo-liberals have rather than it being true that they “believe that economic growth is an end on (sic) itself”?

  52. Julie Thomas
    June 28th, 2015 at 08:07 | #52

    The problem that I see is with the agenda is that it accepts that the ‘actor’ in the economy is an individual; it makes no provision for the case in which the economic unit or actor is a single mother with a dependent child.

    But the mother and child dyad has to be the first economic and social unit from which all other relationships stem.

    It’s possible to imagine and posit that women can be honorary men now that we are allowed to and even forced to compete with men for work and wealth, but this is not ‘fair’ or ‘just’ when or if a woman chooses to or is forced to raise a child and also compete with men for work and wealth.

    Speaking delusionally as I often do, perhaps birth control for women can be seen as the ‘perturbation’ that began this period of instability and it will create a new set of values or an attractor state that the system can move onto. 🙂

  53. Ernestine Gross
    June 28th, 2015 at 10:18 | #53

    JQ, some comments on page 1:

    1.”widening inequality”. Replace with ‘increasing concentration of wealth and political influence’?
    2. “especially Europe”. Do you mean the EU? The UK?, the Euro zone? The geographical Europe (ie including Russia, Scandinavia, …)? What about China? The USA? India? In short I don’t know what you have in mind with “especially Europe”, either in terms of location or in terms of what it is that is worse than say in the USA.
    3. “unemployment”. Not the only problem. Low wages are also a severe problem.
    4. “finance functions”. Do you mean the international monetary and financial system?
    5. “conventional wisdom”. ‘retrograde ideas’? (I can’t find any wisdom in going forward to the past. Historically, going forward to the past in terms of economics is what has happened since the late 1970s.) Retrograde seems to me to be a more suitable opposite to progressive, given the actual history.
    6. Minor point. “Great Depression” but “GFC”. Write Global Financial Crisis?
    7. The term neo-liberalism may need a few explanatory words or reference points such as Reaganomics, economic rationalism, Thatcherism, naive market economics.

    The end for p.1.

  54. TN
    June 28th, 2015 at 10:57 | #54

    Well Julie Thomas, it could be that I somehow can’t see these beliefs that apparently surround me, and that you and John claim to be able to see. Or it could be that I actually understand the views of those around me much better than you, and that you’re just making stuff up and/or mischaracterising the views of others to make your own seem more innovative and reasonable, and yourself more virtuous, than they/you really are.
    One way to test this would be for me to issue you a challenge, and that is to point to these people who you and john say think economic growth is an end in itself and that all regulation is bad. I can guarantee that you’ll be hard pressed to find a single economist who believes that and if wager that even the heartless Abbott government, the evil IPA or those crazy ideological Libertarianscontain a single member who holds those views.government

  55. Ivor
    June 28th, 2015 at 11:05 | #55

    @Ernestine Gross

    I do not thihnk John Quiggin wrote this statement. Amendments are pointless.

    I do not know all the groups that have attached themselves to this statement but he may have simply joined this crusade as part of me-too-ism.

    It is not an alternative economic policy and most principles would be supported by many in the Liberal party – (maybe not the tax point).

    Race Mathews and the Christians have produced musc better stuff – [ here ]

  56. June 28th, 2015 at 11:14 | #56

    @TN

    I think the problem is that some folks believe they can mind read. Right wingers do this all the time to the left. Witness “Rational Liberal’s” (may I call him ratlips?) clairvoyance that egalitarian views are based on “envy”. Projection much? But that doesn’t make the reciprocal mind reading any more persuasive. As I said early, NOBODY believes that growth is an end in itself. Some people may behave as if they thought growth was an end in itself but even that doesn’t mean they believe it is an end in itself. People’s actions are not also consonant with their beliefs, etc.

  57. Crispin Bennett
    June 28th, 2015 at 11:41 | #57

    Sandwichman :
    @TN
    As I said early, NOBODY believes that growth is an end in itself. Some people may behave as if they thought growth was an end in itself but even that doesn’t mean they believe it is an end in itself. People’s actions are not also consonant with their beliefs, etc.

    Not quite true, though likely the case for many regular (unthinking/automatic) “believers” in growth. I got bumped from standby to Business class the last time I flew here from the UK. I spent a fair portion of the flight arguing politics over free-flowing wine with a well-known Gold Coast businessman. He thought Australia was “getting better all the time”, and the “environment” (by which I think he meant anything he or his ilk had not built) would “naturally” fall by the wayside. This was Human Destiny, and it was Good. He foresaw natural systems decaying, to be replaced by human engineering. The Gold Coast to Brisbane would be entirely built-in and enclosed, as the air outside would become poisoned and unbreathable. He was quite open about that fact that for many (outside, and shoe-shining inside) life would get worse, but that was Destiny’s natural price (and, coincidentally, he and his mates would live in a state of ongoing material plenty, for the duration a medically-enhanced extended life span).

    This image of growth is barmy enough only to be publicly flaunted under the influence of alcohol. But I wonder if something like it is fairly widespread amongst the 1% (indeed, in parts of the oddly similar US and China, it’s perhaps not so far away)

  58. Rob
    June 28th, 2015 at 12:23 | #58

    Possibly out of scope for an “economic” agenda, but it might be good to have some principle regarding security and privacy. Perhaps in the current context it could be considered economic, as actions taken in the name of security are often quite costly and often only benefit corporations.

  59. Ivor
    June 28th, 2015 at 13:01 | #59

    This whole thread could be a con.

    These Principles existed in 2013, and are propagated by right wing Labor at:

    http://www.chifley.org.au/developing-alternative-progressive-economic-agenda/

    We need an Alternative Economic Strategy but not as this blog knows it.

  60. TN
    June 28th, 2015 at 13:02 | #60

    @Sandwichman
    Its true that folks on both sides engage in misrepresenting the views and beliefs of the other (and I occasionally point out the equivalent behaviour on right wing blogs such as Catallaxy as I do on soft left blogs such as this).
    However, my sense (and I claim no particular science to it, although I have been engaged in this particular issue for more than 25 years) is that, at least on economic matters, the left get it wrong more frequently, and appear less concerned about ensuring that they characterise the views of their opponents correctly, than those on the right.
    John alas has been guilty of similar behaviour before, in his discussions of economic rationalists (although I take EG’s point that, in this case, John was probably not the author of this ‘alternative’ economic agenda, although he has added his endorsement and thus credibility to it).
    Julie’s suggestion that I probably can’t distinguish my or others neo-liberal beliefs because to me they just seem like commonsense is another common tactic used by people to avoid needing to do the hard work of finding out exactly what it is that their opponents think and believe. Its always much better to doubt the cognitive abilities of your opponents than to do the research and risk coming across some inconvenient truths. To be fair to Julie, by the end of her post she does at least ask the question:

    So what is the alternative belief that these neo-liberals have rather than it being true that they “believe that economic growth is an end on (sic) itself”?

    Leaving aside for the moment whether it is meaningful to use the label neo-liberal, my response would be that the first principle in this ‘Alternative (sic) economic agenda’ – that economic growth is a means to better the lives of current and future Australians – would be held true by virtually all those people (although they would probably take a more nuanced view on the sub-point that follows it).

  61. June 28th, 2015 at 13:31 | #61

    @TN

    “…my sense (and I claim no particular science to it, although I have been engaged in this particular issue for more than 25 years) is that…”

    Fair enough. I guess the difference between our views comes down to the question of “engagement in this particular issue.” I have been engaged in an almost 20-year research project that looks at a particularly persistent right-wing mind-reading exercise, the claim that people concerned about unemployment commit a “lump-of-labor fallacy”. The fallacy claim is entirely based on conjecture about what other people think without ANY substantive evidence based on written texts, interviews, surveys or what have you.

    My being immersed in such a research project gives me the impression that right wingers do it all the time because I am constantly looking at evidence of right wingers doing it. Of course that impression could very well change if I was to look at the more general issue of ideologically motivated mind reading rather than the specific one that I have been researching.

    I think, therefore, that it would be fair to say that I am basing my observation on a biased sample.

  62. TN
    June 28th, 2015 at 14:42 | #62

    @Sandwichman
    A very interesting post, Sandy. Indeed, I will admit that I sometimes presume that some of those arguing against, say, wage flexibility or for restrictions on working hours or immigration are guilty of arguing based on the fallacy. (I am also aware of more sophisticated arguments on these matters.)

    Of course, we all have our priors and beliefs and need to make assumptions, including about the basis of others arguments, and we do not have infinite time or intellectual resources/capacity to devote to verifying them. The relevant questions to my mind are (a) to what extent do we proactively and openly reassess our priors and assumptions (recognising that we must triage the most critical); (b) when confronted with counter-evidence to our priors and assumptions, do we openly and faithfully evaluate that evidence and change our assumptions and/or conclusions accordingly; and (c) when we have done neither of the above but are basing arguments on our (assumed but unproven) priors, do we qualify our arguments accordingly.

    As I indicated, w.r.t. the issues I have been most engaged in (or feel I am reasonably placed to judge), my sense is that those on the left score less well against those questions than those on the right. My observations w.r.t. the lefts misrepresentation of mainstream economics go back to Michael Pusey and indeed earlier. However, that is of course just one particular set of issues and, as your post implies, a different sample of issues might give a different outcome as between left and right.

  63. Ernestine Gross
    June 28th, 2015 at 14:44 | #63

    @Ivor

    The 2-page document is marked ‘Draft’. The publication date is unknown. I respond to what is in front of me, using my professional background in economics and finance, without trying to second guess the motivation of any of associated members of the draft document.

    Party politics is not of interest to me.

  64. Ernestine Gross
    June 28th, 2015 at 14:45 | #64

    @TN

    “although I take EG’s point that, in this case, John was probably not the author of this ‘alternative’ economic agenda, although he has added his endorsement and thus credibility to it.”

    I didn’t make this point but then EG may be a code name for whoever.

  65. TN
    June 28th, 2015 at 15:14 | #65

    @Ernestine Gross
    Ernestine, my mistake. It was actually Ivor responding to you in post #55.

  66. June 28th, 2015 at 15:17 | #66

    @TN

    I suspect — and have some limited survey evidence — that people both on the left and on the right tend to assume that their opponents have views “opposite” to theirs when the reality is the the pair of views would be closer to orthogonal, if plotted on an X,Y graph. The left-right spectrum idea is flawed analogy to begin with.

  67. Julie Thomas
    June 28th, 2015 at 16:10 | #67

    @TN

    I have no idea what you are on about. Can’t read your stuff – too convoluted and confusing.

    But have some advice anyway just for today. The reason you are missing all these ‘things’ that I can see – JQ can speak for himself – is that you have not been keeping up with the ‘literature’.

    The place to go to catch up on the term “motived cogntion” is Dan Kahan at the Cultural Cognition blog. Google is your friend and there you will find all the research and work that has been going on for years about how and why some people can see ‘things’ and people like you can’t see them.

    Why would I want to present myself as more virtuous than I am? What do I gain from doing that?

    Why would I want to appear to be more innovative and the other thing you said?

    And you know what, you blokes never answer questions. That is my way of deciding who is worth listening to and replying to and who is not.

    I asked you “what is the alternative belief that these neo-liberals have rather than it being true that they “believe that economic growth is an end on (sic) itself”?

    Answer that in a paragraph or less after you read the stuff about motivated cognition and then we can talk but this is an economic blog you know and JQ is so very generous and tolerant with all this psycho analysis stuff that I go on with, so I’m thinking?

    Have you heard of Noah Smith? He is a very clever young economist who can see things also and he has a blog and he explained motivated cognition pretty well using an economic example in one of his recent blogs.

    You may find easier for you to work through.

  68. TN
    June 28th, 2015 at 16:55 | #68

    @Julie Thomas
    Actually Julie, I’ve already answered the question you posed (see post 59)..
    Sorry to be a bit pointed, but I’d suggest you spend more time reading what the people you want to disagree with actually say and think, instead of simply presuming to know and then dismissing them when they tell you otherwise.
    Of course, as I said in my first response to toy, its possible that I simply can’t see the beliefs I’m surrounded by. But its also possible, and I would suggest far more likely, that I do understand the views and beliefs of those I work with far better than you.
    The fact that you continue to support the clearly false statement about the mainstream agenda seeing economic growth as an end in itself adds to my confidence on this.

  69. Mpower
    June 28th, 2015 at 16:58 | #69

    Maybe an evolving agenda is a less scary and realistic way forward rather than alternative. So “Evolving our economic agenda”.
    Further , societies evolve best by empowering groups and individuals with no voice. So that means to many ends needs to be very explicit in the principles.

  70. J-D
    June 28th, 2015 at 17:07 | #70

    @Sandwichman

    ‘The left-right spectrum idea is flawed analogy to begin with’ is a false statement because the left-right spectrum idea was not, to begin with, an analogy of any kind.

  71. Julie Thomas
    June 28th, 2015 at 17:20 | #71

    @TN

    Whatever.

  72. Julie Thomas
    June 28th, 2015 at 17:35 | #72

    Kahan uses an interesting way to put people into categories that are more informative about their ‘preferences’ than the right left dichotomy.

    In one of his early blogs he explains.

    “Drawing on a framework associated with the work of Mary Douglas and Aaron Wildavsky, we characterize ordinary people’s culturalworldviews—their preferences, really, about how society should be organized—along two cross-cutting dimensions: “hierarchy-egalitarianism” and “individualism-communitarianism.” We then examine having one or another of the sets of values these two dimensions comprise shape people’s perceptions of risk or other policy-consequential facts.”

    Taking a chance on a link to one of these blogs with more on this.

    http://www.culturalcognition.net/blog/2012/6/21/politically-nonpartisan-folks-are-culturally-polarized-on-cl.html

  73. TN
    June 28th, 2015 at 17:51 | #73

    @Julie Thomas
    That’s a disappointing but not totally surprising response, Julie. As I said earlier (post 61), everyone of necessity has priors and needs to make assumptions, including about the beliefs of others. A key question is what we do about them when the factual basis for them is challenged. Your approach is similar to many I’ve encountered from leftists when called out on this matter over the years: block-out and/or divert and withdraw, but in a way that avoids any clear concession and allows you to feel justified in peddling the same line another day. Presumably, you’ll at least be able to cite a good psychologist on this phenomenon.

  74. Other Rob
    June 28th, 2015 at 18:00 | #74

    Is economic growth the only way we can improve things? An economic descent plan anyone? How would it work if our money was worth less in the future instead of more, that would be creative.

  75. Rob Banks
    June 28th, 2015 at 18:11 | #75

    This is a bit tangential, but I have just read Michael Young’s “The Rise of the Meritocracy”, which is unnervingly prescient, and highlights the importance of being very open about the values used to guide decision-making – which in a direct sense this piece of yours is about. Having an economic policy implies that “the economy” is for something ie there are outcomes or purposes which the society may wish to achieve; rather than simply assuming that the economy, in some laissez-faire way is in itself the goal. Same as making the distinction between “the market” as an end in itself, or the means to some end(s). Each of these distinctions being of course dismissed by neo-liberals of all sorts, primarily because leaving things to “the market” or “the economy” simply maintains the inequitable and inefficient status quo.

  76. Ivor
    June 28th, 2015 at 18:13 | #76

    it looks like the so-called “Alternative Economic Strategy” was written by ANDREW DETTMER & DON SUTHERLAND, AMWU.

    or this is what I found at:

    http://workersbushtelegraph.com.au/2014/11/11/austerity-g20-and-growth-an-alternative-economic-agenda/

    In no stretch of the imagination can it be called an Alternative economic agenda.

    As John Quiggin noted:

    It’s a statement of principles rather than a program, and essentially a restatement of [lovely things for capitalism]

    We need much much more than this.

  77. Ivor
    June 28th, 2015 at 18:14 | #77

    it looks like the so-called “Alternative Economic Strategy” was written by ANDREW DETTMER & DON SUTHERLAND, AMWU.

    or this is what I found at:

    http://workersbushtelegraph.com.au/2014/11/11/austerity-g20-and-growth-an-alternative-economic-agenda/

    In no stretch of the imagination can it be called an Alternative economic agenda.

    As John Quiggin noted:

    It’s a statement of principles rather than a program, and essentially a restatement of [lovely things for capitalism]

    We need much much more than this.

  78. Collin Street
    June 28th, 2015 at 18:27 | #78

    I suspect — and have some limited survey evidence — that people both on the left and on the right tend to assume that their opponents have views “opposite” to theirs when the reality is the the pair of views would be closer to orthogonal, if plotted on an X,Y graph.

    This is gibberish.

    [“opposite” and “orthogonal” only exist in a specified geometry, but geometries exist only within a given person’s frame of reference: comparisons between people’s perspectives can only be done topologically — in which case there is no “opposite” or “orthogonal” you can use — or in the terms of one of the frames of reference, in which case you use the “opposite” and “orthogonal” of that frame of reference. The very fact that people have different perspectives means you can’t say that their perspectives are “wrong”.]

  79. Julie Thomas
    June 28th, 2015 at 18:37 | #79

    @TN

    Try and imagine that I might not be motivated by the things that motivate anyone you have ever previously known. Do you know many poor people who foolishly imagine they are rich?

    I am nonplussed that you can write this and expect people not to laugh? Pretentious or what?

    “Your approach is similar to many I’ve encountered from leftists when called out on this matter over the years: block-out and/or divert and withdraw, but in a way that avoids any clear concession and allows you to feel justified in peddling the same line another day.”

    If my approach is not of interest then why are you bothering me by replying?

    But if we look at what actually happened, I didn’t block you out “and/or divert and withdraw” did I?

    I provided you with a way to find the expert on this area of investigation so you could read for yourself what knowledge you are missing out on knowing and you denied yourself the possibility that if you did understand this new knowledge, it could provide you with the ability to see what you cannot now see.

    The term to google is motivated cognition. Don’t tell me you are too stupid or lazy to read this easy peasy psyc stuff and rip it to shreds with your superior knowledge system? Surely not?

  80. TN
    June 28th, 2015 at 19:46 | #80

    @Julie Thomas
    ZOMBIE ANTI-ECONOMICS

    Were I lacking a half decent comeback, and unwilling to concede that point, I might reply to you in the way you earlier did to me and say ‘whatever’. I am half inclined to do so anyway, but let me recount where we’re up to.
    You asked the question Julie about economic growth. I answered it. You had no direct comeback. But had you tried to challenge me on it, I could also point you to plenty of places where people and organisations associated with the ‘mainstream economic agenda’, that you would probably label neo-liberal or economic rationalists, have said words to the effect that we pursue economic growth to help improve living standards and wellbeing; not as an end in itself. I could also point to numerous instances where such bodies have advocated policies – including regulation – that would REDUCE economic growth (at least as imperfectly measured by GDP) because of the need to correct market failures or address inequities. You have no facts to rebut any of this, so instead you are left with your theory of motivated cognition (not the newsflash you seem to think, incidentally) which you somehow think trumps direct knowledge of the issue and and engagement with people and institutions associated with the mainstream economic agenda.
    I challenged you to point to the actual people – as distinct from the neo-liberal zombies that seem to infest your imagine – who apparently think that economic growth is an end in itself and that all regulation is bad. You haven’t. Because you can’t. Because they do not exist.
    I see that Rob Banks (comment 74) has now joined you in slaying more straw economic men. It is ironic that the host of this site is also the author of Zombie Economics, because the site itself is a prime example of zombie anti-economics – forever creating and then slaying the same straw economic men.
    Good night.

  81. June 28th, 2015 at 20:18 | #81

    Think it is fairly predictable stuff. Eat the rich!

    When you mention the “workers” and the CFMEU in the same breath what CFMEU? The NSW’s branch? If your talking about the employed as the mandate , what about the 25% of youth unemployed and where I live, the 50% underemployed. Not to mention the underemployed. I haven’t seen unions looking after those for many a year. I used to work for the TLC WA and didn’t hear them ever mentioning these groups in their campaigns for better wages and conditions. More in advancing their own interested, privacy and collectively. Even the leader of the once radical Left, the MUA, is more concerned about their own workers’ privileged conditions than those of the ordinary worker surviving on a basic salary of $40k – $50 a year, less if you are female. I know from close contact with them that they have dropped their concern for other workers’ needs and commitment to radical change and more interested in protectionism for their own. Sucks!

  82. June 28th, 2015 at 20:22 | #82

    @TN

    Ahh yes, guilty as charged:

    Ho hum, more slaying of straw economic men. The use of the term ‘Neo-liberal’ gives the lack of rigour on this statement sway. These creatures apparantly believe that economic growth is an end on itself, but that’s strange because, in all my years in and around policy circles, I’ve never meet anyone who thought that. Another air swing comes when the statement insists that regulation is not always bad, as if the mainstream view, or perhaps at least the view of these imagined Neo-liberals, is that it is. Again, from all my years in policy, including time in regulation review, I have NEVER come across such a view.

    As you say, its never black or white. Those characterised as neo-liberals don’t actually believe in no welfare at all – just less. They don’t believe in no regulation at all, just less. Less of those annoying rules that protect the environment and stop the strong exploiting the weak too egregiously. They don’t believe in economic growth at any cost – clearly the loss of any of their own money would be too great a cost.

    Of course, anyone with half a brain would understand the nature of argument, and address the actual points rather than picking trivial technical points.

  83. J-D
    June 28th, 2015 at 20:36 | #83

    @Julie Thomas

    You can map more information about people’s preferences by using any two arbitrarily chosen dimensions than by choosing just one. And you can map more information about people’s preferences by using three arbitrarily chosen dimensions than by choosing just two.

    Every increase in the number of dimensions allows you to map more information; this indisputable fact provides no guidance in deciding how many dimensions to use, or what those dimensions should be.

    And all of this is irrelevant to the validity of the left-right spectrum model for its original purpose, since that original purpose was not the mapping of individual preferences.

  84. Megan
    June 28th, 2015 at 20:57 | #84

    @John Brookes

    Yes, it’s like Strawman WWF. Very showy, but completely bogus.

    TN might have put it better (if I get his initial point), and more succinctly, as:

    “Principle 1 says that ‘economic growth is not an end in itself’. I know my stuff and I can tell you that nobody believes it is an end in itself.

    Under Principle 5 is the call to ‘reject the idea that regulation is a ‘bad’’. Again, nobody believes that all regulation is bad.”

  85. Ernestine Gross
    June 28th, 2015 at 23:07 | #85

    @Mpower

    “Evolving our economic agenda”.

    Good one, IMHO.

  86. June 29th, 2015 at 00:52 | #86

    @J-D

    Huh? The analogy was between the seating arrangement in the revolutionary French National Assembly and a supposed political spectrum that corresponded to it. If you want to call it a metaphor rather than an analogy, fine. But it is a figure of speech nonetheless. There is nothing literally “left” about the left or “right” about the right.

  87. June 29th, 2015 at 01:03 | #87

    @Collin Street

    “This is gibberish”

    May I presume the term “this” refers to your response? Are you claiming that right-wingers’ perceptions of left-wing views and left-wingers perceptions of right wing views are generally objective and accurate?

  88. Julie Thomas
    June 29th, 2015 at 04:29 | #88

    @TN

    This is it?

    “that economic growth is a means to better the lives of current and future Australians – would be held true by virtually all those people (although they would probably take a more nuanced view on the sub-point that follows it).”

    This is all you got?

    Sorry but not worth responding too; this is the delusion you have and it is one that all those people – and I don’t really know or care who you are referring to here.

    But i do know that all the people I know are taking a very much more nuanced view of what has actually happened rather than continue to drink the kool aid that keeps you going so strong and virile, and they are seeing probably because they can’t afford the type of kool aid that you drink that economic growth does not lift all the boats in a fair and balanced way.

  89. Julie Thomas
    June 29th, 2015 at 04:33 | #89

    @J-D

    Why are we needing to continue to use the original way of dividing people into right and left?

    Do you think that there is any way one could map the left right dichotomy onto the concepts yin and yang?

  90. Julie Thomas
    June 29th, 2015 at 04:48 | #90

    Tn,

    Below is an article from an old Courier Mail. I think it is dated sometime during 1951 but if you can google you can find it and the exact date – should you be that interested – on Trove. One can access a lot of old newspapers and magazines there and it is very interesting to check out what was happening on a random day in the past.

    This article I came across had not been edited; the text are digitized and needs editing unless someone has already done that.

    Read through, if you are so motivated, and still desire to interact with me, see if you can *see* the motivated cognition that happens on the part of the writer when he assesses the relative truth value of the two arguments in this ‘dispute’.

    “BRISBANE waterside workers have decided to support their Federation’s proposal to ban Sunday work, midnight shifts, and work on public holidays. No man likes to work when almost everybody else is either playing or comfortably asleep.

    The men probably feel that these restrictions would help to spread the available work among as many of their mates as possible. Work on the wharves has not been so plentiful this year; and many men are afraid that mechanization will decrease the demand for- their labour.

    If these were the only reasons for the ban, and if they were valid, few’ would quarrel with the Brisbane watersiders’ decision.

    But is it not more likely that some of their leaders have emphasized these dubious reasons to win support for a ban which would hold up shipping, raise costs and prices, and help inflation?

    The BrisbaneviBit (I couldn’t edit this) of Mr. E. Roach. Communist assistant general secretary and organiser of the Federation, was contrived. Australian watersiders must remember their useless three-month ban on overtime this winter.

    Moreover, their special privileges, like attendance money, do give them special responsibilities. It is, therefore, sincerely to be hoped that a majority of the Federation’s branches will not support the proposed ban. At the same time it is the duty of employers so to regulate the movement of their ships that extra wharf work does not always become necessary at times least convenient for the watersiders.

    For example, penalty rates are higher for Sunday than for midnight shiftwork. It is an alleged grievance of the men that when employers deem it urgent to get a ship away they ask farely for Sunday work, often for night work through Monday and Tuesday.

    Good waterside relations are the responsibility of both men and management.”

    Did you notice the biased reasoning of the writer toward the management side. and then the hypocrisy of the final sentence?

  91. June 29th, 2015 at 04:58 | #91

    @Julie Thomas

    What TN is saying — and I agree — is that “Economic growth is not an end in itself…” refutes a straw man argument. One could differentiate between those who think growth IS a means to bettering lives or OUGHT TO BE a means for bettering lives but there is essentially a consensus that it is not an end in itself. This is shadow boxing.

    The real question, that the straw man rhetoric ducks, is whether grow even COULD BE a means to a better life. This is NOT the same question as whether growth has been correlated with improved living standards in the past. Correlation is not causation.

    I’m afraid that the “progressive alternative policy” wants to have its cake and eat it too. It wants to appear progressive by disdaining a view of growth as an end in itself that no one espouses. At the same time it wants to appeal to conventional growth idolatry by not questioning the presumed causal relationship.

    In the end we get tweedle-dee, tweedle-dumb politics. “We are the true proponents of growth!” “No, WE are the true proponents of growth!” At least the right-wing proponents of growth have something to show for their efforts — accumulation of capital. The social democratic growth-as-a-means-to-a-better-life minstrels have nothing to show for it but their hollow manifestoes.

  92. June 29th, 2015 at 05:01 | #92

    @Sandwichman

    And one thin manifesto won’t even shine your shoes (on Broadway)

  93. June 29th, 2015 at 05:09 | #93

    The men probably feel that these restrictions would help to spread the available work among as many of their mates as possible. Work on the wharves has not been so plentiful this year; and many men are afraid that mechanization will decrease the demand for- their labour.

    Arrrgh!

    Abstract: The lump-of-labor fallacy has been called one of the “best known fallacies in economics.” It is widely cited in disparagement of policies for reducing the standard hours of work, yet the authenticity of the fallacy claim is questionable, and explanations of it are inconsistent and contradictory. This article [“Why economists dislike a lump of labor”] discusses recent occurrences of the fallacy claim and investigates anomalies in the claim and its history. S.J. Chapman’s coherent and formerly highly regarded theory of the hours of labor is reviewed, and it is shown how that theory could lend credence to the job-creating potentiality of shorter working time policies. It concludes that substituting a dubious fallacy claim for an authentic economic theory may have obstructed fruitful dialogue about working time and the appropriate policies for regulating it.

  94. Collin Street
    June 29th, 2015 at 07:04 | #94

    @Collin Street

    “This is gibberish”

    May I presume the term “this” refers to your response? Are you claiming that right-wingers’ perceptions of left-wing views and left-wingers perceptions of right wing views are generally objective and accurate?

    No you can’t, and that you’re even asking the questioon suggests terrible thiongs about your reading comprehension. [it’s plainly not my intended meaning that my own words are gibberish, so you must be using the phrasing you are for rhetorical purposes: this isn’t very funny, and it isn’t very compelling, and mostly makes you look like a smug tool. In general I think most of your life experience of people stopping arguing with you has been driven not by their becoming convinced of your correctness but of their becoming convinced of your impenetrability; this may have helped craft a false self-image about your analytical skills.]

    : the reason, I think, that people stop arguing against you is

    “Opposite” and “orthogonal” only make sense inside a particular system of analysis / frame of reference. Outside a system of analysis, considered absolutely, there’s only “different”, only one sort. You’re using “opposite” and “orthogonal”, which means you’re working within a framework… but you’re comparing frameworks and declaring some better!

    Esentially it’s a species of question-begging. Your analysis is rooted in your own framework, so it means nothing that it supports your own framework: it’s certainly not absolute truth or insight into the thinking of others.

    This is a very, very big problem, and also one that’s going to be invisible to you.

  95. Julie Thomas
    June 29th, 2015 at 07:49 | #95

    @Sandwichman

    “At least the right-wing proponents of growth have something to show for their efforts — accumulation of capital.”

    That is perhaps the problem that blinds many people. Surely the accumulation of capital comes at the expense of the accumulation of other things – we do have to make choices and weigh up the opportunity cost of our choices.

    Perhaps the other things that could be accumulated rather than accumulating capital, must necessarily be neglected in the determination to accumulate capital of the crass and material version at the expense of the family life of the worker.

    Values. It’s the values that shine our shoes; the values that underpin manifestos that determine if it is a thin or thick manifesto.

    Never mind your patriarchal reasoning about the Courier Mail article. Ask yourself what values would lead one group of people with one set of concerns to negate the concerns of the other group of people with such callous disregard?

  96. J-D
    June 29th, 2015 at 07:52 | #96

    @Sandwichman

    It wasn’t originally a metaphor. It was originally a factual observation. People who sat together on the left took one political position and people who sat together on the right took an opposing political position; or else people who took one political position sat together on the left and people who took an opposing political position sat together on the right. Describing the political position of the people who are sitting on the left as the left’s position is not a metaphor, and this was the original usage.

  97. June 29th, 2015 at 08:25 | #97

    Wow! Projection much? Guy walks in off the Street and insults me. I brush it off with a cheap witticism and he goes ballistic. Well, excuuuuuse me (and yes you may read behind the lines on that remark).

    Collin Street :

    @Collin Street
    “This is gibberish”
    May I presume the term “this” refers to your response? Are you claiming that right-wingers’ perceptions of left-wing views and left-wingers perceptions of right wing views are generally objective and accurate?

    No you can’t, and that you’re even asking the questioon suggests terrible thiongs about your reading comprehension. [it’s plainly not my intended meaning that my own words are gibberish, so you must be using the phrasing you are for rhetorical purposes: this isn’t very funny, and it isn’t very compelling, and mostly makes you look like a smug tool. In general I think most of your life experience of people stopping arguing with you has been driven not by their becoming convinced of your correctness but of their becoming convinced of your impenetrability; this may have helped craft a false self-image about your analytical skills.]
    : the reason, I think, that people stop arguing against you is
    “Opposite” and “orthogonal” only make sense inside a particular system of analysis / frame of reference. Outside a system of analysis, considered absolutely, there’s only “different”, only one sort. You’re using “opposite” and “orthogonal”, which means you’re working within a framework… but you’re comparing frameworks and declaring some better!
    Esentially it’s a species of question-begging. Your analysis is rooted in your own framework, so it means nothing that it supports your own framework: it’s certainly not absolute truth or insight into the thinking of others.
    This is a very, very big problem, and also one that’s going to be invisible to you.

  98. June 29th, 2015 at 08:31 | #98

    @Julie Thomas

    My “patriarchal” reasoning? Labels make thought so much easier. Why with the correct labels one doesn’t have to think at all! I’m tempted to slip into a drawl so you can call me a racist, too.

  99. June 29th, 2015 at 08:43 | #99

    @J-D

    @Julie Thomas

    @Collin Street

    So I take it you folks don’t want to talk about the “progressive alternative economic agenda” but would rather engage in peripheral bickering about the Sandwichman’s defects as a human being?

  100. Julie Thomas
    June 29th, 2015 at 08:50 | #100

    @Sandwichman

    Of course labels make it easier. Why else have them on jam and bread? What is diagnosis all about? Do you believe that once a word is defined that is *it* for all eternity?

    I’d say that the desire to categorise and the capacity to do so, are the aspects of human nature that lead to ‘progress’ of all kinds but this desire is one that periodically needs to be examined.

    And I do have to say with respect to the conversation you are having with Collin Street that the only projection I *see* going on is you making assumptions about what Collin Street said based on your own – flawed – understanding of the capacity of humans to confuse emotion with reason.

    I saw nothing insulting in the above but I suppose because I see nothing insulting in being asked to look inside myself and seriously consider what motivates my own version of ‘rational’.

    Your understanding is limited because you lack the knowledge required, not because you are evil or anything so dramatic.

    Check your drama queen privileges?

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