Time to call this one

I don’t have much of a reputation for accurate election predictions[1],[2], but I’m going to call this one for Labor. Short of something unexpected and uncontrollable by either side, I can’t see the Libs pulling this out of the fire. I think it’s just a matter of waiting out the remaining month.

[1] A week out from the 2004 election, I thought the position was in Labor’s favor, and even on the day I thought the odds close to 50-50, so I wouldn’t base large-scale betting-market investments on my judgement if I were you.

[2] By contrast, I think I’ve called the Iraq war pretty well, but that’s another story.

50 thoughts on “Time to call this one

  1. Because BBB believes in substitutability and human inguenity.

    I’m rather less sanguine about the general prospects – we’ve not found a decent substitute for water, for example.

  2. Precisely, wilful. There is no prospect of running out of anything useful, since capitalism economises. Of course, some things will become more expensive, but broad substitution will occur as soon as it is cost effective. On water, I am as optimistic as ever. After all, we have found a substitute for naturally occurring fresh water: saltwater + electricity.

    FDB, it’s a real possibility.


  3. Fine, be optimistic, but to say that substituability and human ingenuity will meet the problems is a far cry from saying that the issue should be given “precisely no thought” – unless you’re saying that ingenuity can occur without thought, substitutes can be found without thinking, and the cost or time scales involved aren’t worthy of consideration.

  4. Oh I see, “the market will provide” right BBB?

    I can’t tell you how and when it will provide, but I know that it will. Just have faith.

    I think market fundamentalism will remembered as one of the sillier religions of time.

    FDB and BBB. There is precisely zero chance of a
    60-40 2PP vote. I reckon 55-45 is the upper bound.

  5. gerard: LOL! Ingenuity without thought indeed.

    The problem for the market fundamentalists is they’re not the ones that need to do the thinking, its the geeks and techies that have to figure it out. Guess who hangs out at peak oil sites? Economists? Nah. Its the techies and geeks.

  6. I found that I’d fallen off the spamlist, to a level Akismet could handle, and it seems to improve access to the site.

  7. I would like to disagree with Andrew’s comments earlier. My view is that the 2004 election increased the margin by 2%. I understand that LP insiders are saying that the swings aren’t being replicated in the last 16 seats as based on Mackkerras Pendulums (or whatever they are officially called. However, it is the seats in the 5-10% margin that LP officials should be concerned with. There are many of them that have had an inflated margin after the 2004 Latham effect (often getting 5% swings) so they could easily have the big swing like in 1996. I’d love your comments

  8. observa -you may well be right. SA may well decide to send Nick Xenophon to the senate because he has a quaint sense of principled action. In a close tussle SA folk won’t mind having him there in their corner and won’t mind if he holds the balance of power either.

  9. crispin, and sjk: when has democracy been tried?

    rule by cabinet is not democracy. your right, it’s not working well, for most people. stop calling it democracy, and we can hope to get actual democracy. until you break out of your doublethink prison, you’re the problem.

    for those who had a british/ozzian education, actual democracy is distinguished by three conditions:

    direct election of officers of state,

    public administration of state activities,

    and primacy of citizen initiative law.

    oz has none of these features, it is an oligarchy masquerading as a monarchy whose national language is newspeak.

  10. al loomis: yes, I understood that to be your point. Unfortunately if we did have a more democratic system, our chances would be even worse. The average citizen-subject would kill rather than have to pay the real price of petrol, for example.

    If you can think of a way to trash the corporate oligarchy without destroying production, and then institute a generation-long education program emphasizing individual critical thinking, then democracy might, perhaps, improve things. But as long as the primary shapers of cognition are a crude congeries of superstition, hominid common-sense and corporate advertising, true democracy would lead to rapid disaster.

  11. al loomis: i know the oz chatterati like to pretend they are citizens, guiding discussion and decision making, but i suspect the bakers, real estate agents, and pensioners aren’t paying much attention

    Why are people persisting with this chatterati/chardonnay-socialist rubbish? It is the equivalent of the simple ‘big business is evil’ line that the mainstream left have long since ditched, but the mainstream right still seems to hang on to their equivalent caricature. Why is it that educated people trying to engage in the political debate are so objectionable? Other than the fact that they disagree with you, of course….

  12. al loomis, of course, strictly speaking we use a republican governance model, not democratic … but then, that was the price we paid to extend citizen participation in government as the demos grew larger than the city-state. Not ideal, could be better … could be much worse.

    I do however agree with your suggestion that we directly elect our officers of state. In fact, I wrote my thesis this year on electing our representative to the United Nations.

  13. Peter: one reason both sides persist (aside from the various common cognitive and affective biases that tend to strengthen stereotypes) is that there are kernels of truth to these caricatures that just ‘ditching’ them fails to deal with.

    The chattering classes are obviously a false bogeyman, as they don’t have real power. But the right are correct that they are out of touch with ‘ordinary people’. Anyone who’s spent time in workplaces not dominated by the university-educated (and I don’t mean just blue-collar here) will easily call to mind conversations that make the left-leaning blood curdle, and see how fundamentally fake is our public discourse, and I don’t think there’s much doubt that the educated play a role in that fakery.

    And on business: it may not always be evil, but that’s only because of the cumulative effects of law and regulation. It’s always going to be as evil as it’s allowed to be, or can get away with it, as that’s how the market’s discipline arranges it. Even now, companies will use armed militias where they can get away with it (http://www.aseed.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=21&Itemid=38), and it’d be naive to suggest that if offered slave labour as in Europe’s not so distant past (http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/germancos.html) the majority would refuse.

    Both stereotypes are exaggerated, but jettisoning what’s right about them doesn’t help gain a clearer view.

  14. gerard, I was saying (admittedly unclearly) that ‘resource depletion’ per se should be given precisely no thought. Obviously a lot of smart people will have to do a lot of thinking to improve extraction methods, manage transitions, etc. However, the debate that surrounds the phrase ‘resource depletion’ strongly implies (at least to me) that resources do something useful in the ground and that somehow we would be better off leaving them there (ie. it is the depleting itself which is undesirable). That, to me, is insane.

    carbonsink, no one is blindly following ‘market fundamentalism’. The economisation of resources and substitution is simply a matter of lived experience in the real world over many centuries. No faith is required.


  15. BBB I agree with both you and Julian Simon that for a large class of inputs, substitutability will continue to work well. My favourite example is the use of copper – fibre optic cables work better and we’re not about to run out of sand.

    However, faith in the historic inevitability and universality of this stuff is I think optimistic at best, or naive. It works for most goods, but there are a bunch of things that aren’t about to be substituted easily. Water is as I’ve said one of them – I don’t think desalination will make for profitable agriculture any time soon. Soil is another. Oil another. Sure we can postulate low soil, low water and low oil futures, but they’re really really big hurdles to get over, and I don’t think we can blithely wave our hands and say the market will provide. Getting over those humps will require concerted effort and massive government support, which is therefore a political and not an economic problem.

    Anyway, this is a major diversion from the thread topic, maybe we should cut and paste it into weekend reflections later. Why isn’t anyone else giving their seat predictions? or Senate guesses? C’mon, put your numbers up, so we can mock in a few long weeks.

  16. Crispin Bennett said: one reason both sides persist (aside from the various common cognitive and affective biases that tend to strengthen stereotypes) is that there are kernels of truth to these caricatures that just ‘ditching’ them fails to deal with.

    The chattering classes are obviously a false bogeyman, as they don’t have real power. But the right are correct that they are out of touch with ‘ordinary people’.

    I still dont see how it is useful, for a few reasons. Firstly, the term is used in a strictly pejorative manner, and so merely reinforces any real division, which is unhelpful, just as blanket branding business as money-grubbing evil multinationals is unhelpful. Secondly, what does it mean to claim that the `chattering elites’ are out of touch with the mythical `common man’? Does it just mean that they have a different set of priorities and values to other sections of the population? Can’t we say this about any sub-group of the population that we choose to define? Single mothers? Aboriginals? Small business owners? Pensioners?

    Are the so-called chattering classes any less in touch with the rest of the population than pensioners? Or some other groups? I think we’d all be better off if we left the pigeonholing alone and just discussed the issues at hand.

  17. Fully agree with Peter, I’ve found it quite absurd that someone such as myself can be labelled an ‘elite’ by the likes of Professor David Flint or the News Ltd hacks. What an absurd label to fling around.

  18. Peter: I’ve contributed to hijacking this thread too much already, so I’ll make this my last comment.

    I entirely agree with you that talking about substantive topics is better than using stereotypes to abuse ‘opponents’. All I’m saying is that by denying stereotypes (rather than understanding, unpacking and only then challenging their contents), all you’re doing is denying fault-lines that really exist. And, yes, one of these is undoubtedly between the guardians of public discourse and many uneducated Australians. Although there was lots else going on, I think this is one of the things that Keating fell foul of. Huge numbers of people (you can call them ‘common’ if you want) see nothing wrong at all with complaining about ‘our Indigenous brothers’ (said with a nasty little wink); and more generally the process of challenging sexism and racism has as yet only progressed through a thin layer of society. When right-wingers complain of lefty or liberal elites, they are being ludicrous, but the reason the jibe has longevity is that it taps into very real differences between how Australia looks in the media, and how it plays out across huge swathes of the country. Denying that fact won’t make it go away.

  19. I hadn’t followed this thread before writing my latest post, but the recent comments fit naturally there, so I suggest moving the discussion there and leaving this one for more directly electoral concerns.

  20. You also deserve some credit for advocating a Rudd leadership, back in the Crean days when he was still obscure.

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