48 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. The announcement that Rudd is to fund a gigawatt of solar power has been kept low key
    It is not stated whether the technology will be thermal or photovoltaic nor whether there will a few large plants or many small ones. I presume that gigawatt is the total peak capacity of all the plants at their local summer noon. The budget is $1.4 bn or $1.40 a watt capital cost which nobody has achieved yet on a large scale.

    I wonder perhaps whether this is Fremantle Fright Factor at work. The logistics of this project would be difficult and it would soon be apparent that solar can’t easily replace coal fired electricity. Rudd seems to making all kinds of wild promises hoping not to lose more support to Greens. He needs at least one green initiative to show results before the full term election.

  2. Hermit, the ABC reports that there will be up to four plants across the country.

    The whole thing sounds like bullsh*t to me. The media statements refer to it being the biggest solar plant in the world, even bigger than some unspecified plant in California, which as far as I can tell doesn’t exist.

  3. I agree with you SJ. It looks suss (an appeal to the Green vote? iIwill believe the 4 plants when I see them and the 1.4 bill…thats outrageous when we could do with real stimulous). There is no info there on ABC (brief as brief). Id say its an appeal to green Hunter residents….thats all and it will come to nothing. Politiking.

  4. According to Rudd, via the ABC

    Currently the largest operating plant is in California in the United States.

    The Government’s Solar Flagships program hopes to create three times as much energy as that project.

    But this simply isn’t true. There is no solar plant in California generating around 300 MW.

    The closest you can get is the company Solar Energy Generating Systems which owns nine solar plants with a total capacity of about 354 MW.

    So the whole thing looks like hastily cobbled together rubbish to me.

  5. Alice, you are getting at stuff that gives context, proportion and perspective. Economic history, history of ideas, pol economy, sociology(achhh!), ethnology, crit theory, cultural theory, “vision”, philosophy in comprehensible form…
    Didn’t Arts/ humanities teach abbreviated slabs most of this, bypassing any obduracy from classical economics, but its the stuff Arts faculty hard (wo)men seemed to have slashed at deepest.
    Just when we have tutes filled with youg offshore people, as much in need of a critical faculty as locals in need of same, to cope with ecorationalism.

  6. 31# Paul Walter –
    “Just when we have tutes filled with young offshore people, as much in need of a critical faculty as locals in need of same, to cope with ecorationalism.”

    I agree Paul “critical faculty” is the missing ingredient in student courses these days but when the number of subjects got slashed from degrees the hard hats of a rationalised pared down ecorationalistic degree emerged victorious over real choice in student education.

  7. I do not think that there is such a problem with the basic microeconomic and macroeconomic theory, as far as they go.

    The problems are in the form of political economy underpinning microeconomic and macroeconomic behaviour. Politics distorts events.

    For example, once incomes have been determined by politics (capitalists by various degree of monopoly, workers by wage-cases, rulers by remuneration tribunals) then all microeconomic behaviour is disrupted, values go haywire, and this feeds upon itself over time.

    Also if debt creation is biased towards one element of the economy – private banks and big business – then again, macroeconomic behaviour is disrupted, values go haywire, and this feeds upon itself over time.

    It is a huge mistake to blame basic micro amd macro theory. The real problem is the mode of political economy.

    You have to read David Ricardo and Karl Marx.

    “There is no alternative”.

  8. Chris – Agree..the problem is not so much in the models of mic and mac – you are correct (they are fine to teach) but as I see it they are a very poor way to attract and retain students in this discipline if we put them off with this dry old stick basic lego model intro approach…doesnt do the discipline justice at all and its boring for many students……some economic history or HET as an entree I suggest. Encourage them to consider many famous economists broad views on the nature of what makes “an economy” and how you “treat” ills, with some history of development (international or national) before they get to the “mic mac models”.

  9. 36# Except that it doesnt fit with a half starved, business commerce $5 lunchbox approach to providing degrees. Bare minimum to produce half rounded technocrats.

  10. David C, if you haven’t read it, have a look at Geoffrey Miller’s The Mating Mind. This is a book on Darwin’s other “overlooked” theory of evolution, sexual selection. It illuminates the biological basis for a broad range of the more curious human activities that don’t really fit natural selection; things like religion, philosophy, conspicuous consumption, and so on. Also, it explains why everyone wants to post but no one reads anyone else’s comments. Best thing I’ve read for yonks.

  11. Any chance the Henry tax review will suggest anything radical? I mean, I guess it is most likely that the review will call for a rationalization/simplification of the tax system, but I wonder if any major shifts will be proposed.

    I have always wondered why we don’t move away from taxing income to taxing resource use. I don’t say this because I have a high income and wish to avoid paying income tax (I don’t). Although technically it is regressive to tax consumption, the ability of the rich to engage in tax-avoidance probably makes it less regressive than you think. And you could always have some hybrid system of income support and consumption tax that would limit the impact on the poor.

    What are the main objections to a big shift to consumption taxes* and away from income taxes? Are they solely political?


    *My preference would not be for a GST-style tax, but resource-use taxes only (i.e. no direct tax on services).

  12. I really disagree with Ikonoclast about the internet being next to useless. I am sitting here listening to Ray Lamontagne via the internet, while reading about positivism, empiricism, Popper and John Locke. In between which I can read JQ’s blog & share exchanges will you fine people, play on-line chess, find out about and book my ticket to seminars at the Whitlam institute. I could go on…. but won’t

  13. Peter#40 asks
    “What are the main objections to a big shift to consumption taxes* and away from income taxes? Are they solely political?”

    No Peter. I dont think so. Its the lack of progressiveness.

    High income earners, you are right, still avoid paying income tax despite the pretty generous tax reductions they have been given since the 1970s under trickle down ideas (as a consequence inequality grew, and wealth trickled up into Goldman Sachs and AIG and a multitude of Investment houses who gambled it away, not down) …

  14. If we raised the tax free threshold to $100,000 that would be heaps more progressive. So how about it?

  15. Alice and Chris, the type of economics course you want is the type that any well educated person should do to help get a broad understanding of the world. As part of that they should also learn some basic analytic techniques. That’s really useful but it doesn’t suit everybody.

    Many people doing first year economics courses want to beome professional economists or econometricians, and for these people there is no substitute for the formal tools of the trade – identifying demand curves, cost-benefit analysis, modelling general equilibrium effects, non-experimental program evaluation, theories of money, etc. IOW plenty of maths and stats.

    It’s the difference between learning about quantum physics so that you can understand what the field does, and being able to do quantum physics yourself.

  16. Derrida Derrida – I did not suggest maths is not required in the study of economics ie the formal tools of trade. Yet there is also qualitative research and economics traditionally has encompassed both and should continue to do so, less it ossifies in some corner behind a computer stats package, overtaken by the cacophany of newspaper columnists views of economics.

    Its called a meaningful blend of information Derrida.

    What I am suggesting is that we equip “first year students” with an understanding of the underlying philosophies and assumptions of various economic views, on why they are doing what they are doing -before we hand them with Mr Gradgrind’s rulers…. Perhaps those rulers may be put to better use with a better and more critical understanding as a consequence.

  17. Steve @ 1, the answer to “How do you impress an autistic child?” was spot-on. (I have two of them … mild and high-functioning, thank god.)

  18. The IP debacle continues:


    “””An Argentinean philosophy professor is being sued for alleged copyright infringement for posting translated versions of French philosopher Jacques Derrida’s works on a website, according to the Copy South Research Group. The case is bringing international attention to the limitations on access to education brought about by copyright.”””

    Copyright is a tool to make sure your work gets absolute minimal diffusion, ie only to the rich. Pretending that copyright helps diffusion is nonsense.

  19. derrida

    I tend to agree with you, plus they need to be taught how politics, and gaming often produces opposite results to the “good” theory.

    I was not talking about first years.

    All graduate economists need to be aware that given oligopolies and capitalist relationships competitive markets do not exist, and prices are determined by “bad” political economy.

    Intelligent economists should incorporate concepts of “good” and “bad” for society and not be totally focussed on apparent (bad?) “scarcity” and (good?) “productivity”.

    All higher degree economists must be aware of Marxist critique, as for at least one future generation, this will come to bite them hard.

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