Monday Message Board

It’s time once again for the Monday Message Board. Please post your thoughts on any topic. Civilised discussion and no coarse language, please.

45 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. I’m glad you’re prepared to modify your arguments once challenged Tony. But if you look around, I don’t think you can compare either the input costs or the outcomes of healthcare, infrastructure and education now and then. Basically, we’re both paying more and getting a lot more.

    I paid what seemed like a great deal of HECS, it’s a system that I thoroughly support, though Howard did his level best to bugger it up. How are those private Unis going (particularly if you’re from the lower classes)?

    Funny how conservatives have been the ones responsible for much of the increase in tax take.

    wizofaus, I agree, as did the governments through national competition policy, which the the PC (but not JQ) cite as the primary reason for the productivity boost of the 90s. It’s still the case that public sector providers of roads, schools and hospitals in Australia appear according to most of the evidence to be the best, lowest cost solution. Plenty of rent-seeking private businesses sucking on the public teat, but that’s a political choice, not the rational choice that the bureaucrats would have pushed.

  2. wizofaus, one further point in agreement with you, re telecoms. That was an absolute disaster of a privatisation, as anyone can tell. The Govt should have retained the backbone infrastructure in monopoly hands and sold off the retail arm. As it is, it’s almost dysfunctional. Proof that mixed solutions are the way to go.

  3. wilful Said;

    “Basically, we’re both paying more and getting a lot more.”

    I agree we are definitely paying a lot more and we might be getting marginally more in services.

    BUT with a lot of the services previously supplied by public sector now privatised,and with the revenues of the public sector rising continually…..

    You would have to say…

    Basically, we’re both paying a lot more for the public sector and they are doing hell of a lot less.

  4. Basically, we’re both paying a lot more for the public sector and they are doing hell of a lot less.

    Who is this ‘they’? Bureaucrats? Did something magically happen to make them lazier and less productive between the 70s and 00s? I really don’t think so, in fact the limited evidence is that your average bureaucrat is as skilled, dedicated and productive as any comparable private or NGO sector person. Certainly that’s my anecdotal experience.

    The main explanation for the waste arising (particularly from Canberra) is middle-class welfare and other boondoggles spurred principally to buy votes. In other words, largely the fault of JWH and his cheer squad. Get ’em off the teat and we can better afford universal government provided health and education and natural monopolies.

  5. “…your average bureaucrat is as skilled, dedicated and productive as any comparable private or NGO sector person” – two out of three isn’t bad, but unfortunately the third is wrong, from confusing a comparatively high ratio of output to input from the person with productivity of the activity; it isn’t, because the structure is set up to do wasteful things. It’s like measuring the efforts of a horse that isn’t pulling on a collar but a noose, or with a plough fastened to its tail (both of which happened when horse collars were unknown or unavailable); you should be measuring the ploughing, not the horse.

    Someone once remarked that the worst form of waste was doing well that which should not be done at all, and unfortunately much of what is done by the public service is in that category – and we can’t separate that out and stop doing it. As someone else once said, “half our advertising is wasted, if we only knew which half!”

  6. There was an amusing (in both senses) letter in yesterday’s AFR, saying that only bad economists write articles in the AFR, since the good ones are lying low, living and working in the South of France. It was amusing because I know an economist who did precisely that (after leaving Peter Dixon’s mob), and doubly so because a certain economist had an article on that day’s opinion pages…

  7. Terje,

    Too bad not many people saw those videos. Many people are sick of big spending governments and they are also disapointed with the major parties.

    The liberal democrats are a serious party in the UK. If you guys want to be taken more seriously you shouldn’t align your party with loony pot smokers, the shooters party or the Milats.

    wilful;

    We agree on a few things though we look at them from different world views.

    I am against privatisations when the government uses them to raise taxation by stealth. i.e. privatising the government services and maintaining or increasing revenues.

    There is nothing wrong with “universal government provided health and education and natural monopolies”. It is a matter of who can cost effectively deliver them.

    We had more services universally government provided in the mid 1970s costing 26% of GDP and now we have them largely privatised costing 50% of GDP. I do not believe the sevices have improved to justify costing 24% more of GDP

    “Who is this ‘they’? ”

    ‘They’ are the elite political ruling class and their cronies. They control the other 98% of the population under the guise of the 2 party system where they divide and conquer the community, carving up the spoils for themselves.

    I don’t begrudge bureaucrats as they are victims here like everyone else. Ask them how they feel being made to deal on a daily basis, with an expanded bureaucracy that allows them to achieve very little.

  8. Well yes Tony, we aren’t as far apart as I first suspected.

    The worst example of privatisation that I can think of is Melbourne’s CityLink. Unquestionably it should be a toll road, and built to the highest standards by private enterprise. BUT, for purely ideological reasons, rather than being a $1.7bn road project managed (at the highest level) by VicRoads, who had the skills and experience, it became a tax lurk, offshore profit generator that will cost the community $6bn for the same service.

    PML, I accept your point too. Individual productivity is as near enough the same (hey they’re paid less too), but yes there’s too much BS, driven by the Ministers, who are driven by polls and the media, and often unskilled or unsuitable for their jobs anyway.

    I reckon if you asked the bureaucrats a lot of them would tell you what’s not worth doing.

  9. “the elite political ruling class and their cronies”

    The nexus between the upper echelons of government and Macquarie Bank and alike is criminal. How many ex polies end up on there payroll.

    See what Tony Harris has to say;

    http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/content/2006/s1573798.htm

    Tony Harris also said if people at the coal face in the public sector had a say, they could could improve it markedly.

  10. you shouldn’t align your party with loony pot smokers, the shooters party or the Milats.

    We only associate with the non-loony pot smokers, shoorters and Milats. The loony ones don’t get a look in.

  11. “The liberal democrats are a serious party in the UK.”

    Apart from the name, the two parties have little or nothing in common.

    Some policies from the UK LDP:

    # They support “free education for all” and propose to abolish university tuition fees and set up a system of Government grants for university students.
    # They propose a substantial non-means tested increase in pensions.
    They support anti-discrimination laws (covering race, gender and sexuality)
    They would fund 10,000 police officers (on top of Labour’s plans) and provide an extra 20,000 community support officers to back them up. They would equip the police with new technology to tackle crime and cut time spent on paperwork.
    # They would cut down on illegal working by inspecting employers and bringing prosecutions against those who use illegal labour.[16]
    # They would use phone-taps and other “intercept communications” as evidence in court against terrorist suspects, making prosecution easier.[16]

    “The most well-known Liberal Democrat policy for most of the 1990s was to increase the basic rate of income tax by one percent to fund public services (especially education). This proposal was abandoned after Tony Blair’s Labour government increased national insurance contributions by the same amount, a policy with much the same effect. Other previous fiscal policy included increasing the top rate of income tax by 10 percent to 50% for those earning over £100,000 to fund their increased public spending plans, but this was abandoned in 2006 after the party conference approved new tax policies which left the top rate at 40%.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberal_Democrats#Policies

    But other than supporting higher taxes and higher government spending I’m sure they’re almost identical to the Aussie LDP.

  12. The liberal democrats in Japan are also a serious party. However like the UK example that also fails to negate the fact that the LDP in Australia is a serious party also. The fact that the LDP does not get millions of dollars in public funding and also does not get a refund of it’s candidate application fees like the major parties and yet still managed to field candidates in nearly 50 electorates should indicate that those involved are completely serious. You don’t hand over thousands of dollars of your own money and invest mountains of personal time just on a whim.

  13. Keep it up, and soon you’ll be as serious as the Democrats or Socialist Alliance. Are we done advertising the LDP yet, or should I come back next week?

  14. Terje;

    Upon reflection you are correct to assert “the fact that the LDP in Australia is a serious party also”. The LPD should be commended for their efforts and progress thus far.

    I withdraw my inference that the LDP is not a serious party and I apologise if I have offended you.

    At the last election when I had posted my 1 for Malcolm and my 11 for the developers son and bagman George, I hovered my pencil over Jonatan’s box for my number 2 vote, but decided against it due to the above associations mentioned in comment 34.

    My suggestion now being that, those associations might be a handicap to the LDP’s electoral prospects.

  15. P.M Lawrence wrote:
    “……..the structure is set up to do wasteful things. …….unfortunately much of what is done by the public service is in that category – and we can’t separate that out and stop doing it. As someone else once said, “half our advertising is wasted, if we only knew which half!â€?

    I work in the private sector and I can tell you that there’s plenty of waste there. Some of it is subsidised, effectively, by the public sector, through grants and tax rebates.
    As Keynes pointed out, the waste of paying unemployed people to dig holes and fill them in again serves a purpose, as aggregate incomes are increase and the unemployed (presumably) spend their mony on food and other essentials.

  16. Did Keynes really say that? How can paying money to people for results that nobody actually has any use for possibly make any economic sense?
    Why not just give them the money without them actually digging the holes in the first place?

  17. The testng agency for the IELTS is half owned by Seek and its a monopoly used by DIAC for its compulsory English test. Then the government gets half the revenue back via telstra(who owns seek). Im suprised the accept any ones country as proof of english ability! After all, its just a con to sap money out of international students!

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