Starting as I mean to go on (updated)

As I said in my last post, I’m giving as good as I get from now on, and today I seem to be getting plenty

Over at Catallaxy (Google it if you want), Sinclair Davidson is complaining about my Australian Laureate Fellowship (total budget, including lots of postdocs, PhD students etc, $2 million over 5 years) as an imposition on the taxpayer. Sinclair also receives a taxpayer funded salary of at least $150K. The standard assumption is that 30 per cent of a professorial salary is for research, the rest for teaching, administration, community service and so on. By contrast, I’m funded 100 per cent for research, my own and that of my students and collaborators. So, let’s see who is goofing off on the taxpayer dollar.

Here’s Sinclair: two journal articles, and zero working papers in the last five years. On my arithmetic, allowing 30 per cent of salary for research, that’s a rate of over $100k per publication.
Here’s me 29 journal articles and 36 working papers in the same period. That’s about $30k per publication, without allowing for material produced by the postdocs and PhD students funded by my grant.

Those aren’t exhaustive lists of publications by any means, but I doubt that the relativities would change if we had a more complete list, including books, reports and so on. Adjusting for journal quality, as perceived by the profession, would make the difference even sharper.

Updated With their usual affinity for conspiracy theories, commenters here at and Catallaxy are suggesting that my current Fellowship is a favor from my Labor mates (readers here will be aware of my slavish devotion to our PM, which has, it seems, finally paid off). Of course, the great thing with conspiracy theories is that, the longer you look, the more conspirators you find. I’m sure the Catallaxians will be unsurprised to discover that this is, in fact, my fifth fellowship of this kind (the publication count above refers to my previous one), and that the previous four were all awarded by the Howard government.

Further update Sinclair Davidson has responded with a more complete list of his publications, including quite a few that appear neither on the IDEAS database (because it doesn’t include low-grade journals like Agenda and Policy nor on his personal webpage at RMIT. As I said above, it doesn’t change the relativities.

Yet further update Davidson has managed to convince the ever-gullible Andrew Bolt that pieces in Policy (not even ranked as a peer-reviewed journal by the ARC ranked C by the ARC), Agenda (ranked B) and a bunch of CIS/IPA publications constitute a stellar publication record. There’s nothing wrong with publishing in magazines like these (I do plenty of it), but it’s supposed to be a by-product of academic research, not a substitute for it. Bolt (innumerate, and out by two orders of magnitude on the impact of emissions policy), also repeats his claim that I’m the math-challenged one.

125 thoughts on “Starting as I mean to go on (updated)

  1. Yobbo: didn’t you at one stage make your living off online poker?
    It’s a bit hypocritical to abuse the host and tell him to “get a real job”.

    Do taxpayers pay my wages Peter?

  2. I prefer this blog when it triggers and enables discussion of real issues and ideas (even backed up by some facts).

    Unfortunately many of the comments here, including those directed at both John Quiggin’s worth as an academic and at bloggers like Yobbo, are petty and pointless.

    How about we all grow up a little and think before we touch the keyboard.

  3. @kevin1
    I think Terje’s end game is that political parties are tax exempt. Therefore on his reasoning no party politician can argue for increased tax. And of course an independent will never achieve increased tax without them. So nobody can increase tax – at all. QED.

  4. @Jim
    Jim, it is not “petty and pointless” to point it out when people make statements that blatantly contradict the facts. Or is blogging just fictional entertainment for you?

  5. Do taxpayers pay my wages Peter?

    So that is Yobbo’s definition of a ‘real job’ – someone other than the government pays the wage. No issue about whether what is produced is of social (as distinct from just private) value; just that government isn’t involved. That is just standard Catallaxian fare: ie, worthless.

  6. I propose a new definition of “crowding out”. Crowding out now refers to when ignorant conservatives start ranting and raving and circlejerking in an online forum and squeezing out other more worthwhile discussion.

  7. @William Bragg

    So that is Yobbo’s definition of a ‘real job’ – someone other than the government pays the wage.

    Indeed. It’s a religio-moral precept in which the god is “the free market” — a kind of idealised metaphysical agora where crowds of people mill about with perfect knowledge and the capacity to model in real time the dynamic consequences of their choices lending each choice authenticity and therefore sanctifying each good or service delivered as entirely authentic — i.e. ‘real work‘.

    It’s an article of faith that such things can exist and do, but our Catallaxians pretend that anything at arms’ length from ‘gubmint’ can be similarly sanctified in the kind of legal fiction that would do a Rabbi proud.

    Anyone who can affect the stance of ‘the little guy made good’ and call himself ‘an entrepreneur’ gets a similar halo for his capacity to channel the wisdom of crowds.

    Seen this way, one can see both yobbo’s nym and the paradigm he inflects as a species of populism (populisma liberpablumus perhaps), bolted in practice onto the defence of the privileges and power of those who trample ruthlessly over actual ‘little guys’ everywhere, adducing the Catallaxian moral code and perhaps Schumpeter too if they can be bothered, in the process.

    Amusingly, there’s a nice little article by Tristan Edis over at Business Spectator on ‘s%xy electric cars’ in which Edis seeks to account for the prejudices of his climate-policy hating uncle, his love of BMWs and for the elegance of the Tesla and the ex-paypal entrepreneur behind it making it authentic.


  8. John

    I wasn’t saying all of the comments were petty and pointless – just many of them. I agree with you entirely.

    Obviously my comment was a very poorly worded request to stop the BS and get back to what this blog is about – robust discussions about real issues backed up by facts. If you respond to pointless and petty comments, you are simply giving those contributors encouragement.

    @John Foster

  9. I don’t know but there may be long term research projects undertaken, which might have greater value than publication in journals, which then, with reference to Aaron Swartz, held behind pay walls.

    Teaching undergraduates and mentoring post-graduates would seem to be different activities. I am not clear about the role of primary research in the teaching area, other than keeping up with publications and developments in the field.

    So you see, I have broken Jim’s unilateral rule, and commented. Too easy.

  10. Quite simple, John Quiggin.
    They don’t want able, mentally healthy people who can discern and communicate the truth, only spineless, denial ridden liars and cowards like the sort of sh-t who write for the IPA and Murdoch tabloids.
    The same thing applies to the War on truth, reality, fact, consciousness and rationality waged interminably against institutions of education.
    If they must be blind, so must the rest of us, that is their dog in manger spirit.
    Didn’t Einstein suggest education was about learning how to think rather than how to unthinkingly absorb factoids uncritically.
    The only thing people like Blot, the Tele and Davidson want is for people not ( to be able ) to approach their truth claims critically.
    God help us if we were all that lobotomised, because if we weren’t we soon would be in such a world as they’d conceive of.

  11. @John Foster
    from #14 you said “For example, discussing John’s salary is completely irrelevant and I should add that, in many contexts, he likes free markets!”

    from #49 you said “John has never seen a market that wouldn’t be better off with some regulation. ”

    Would be interested to hear how you square this circle!

  12. Jim :Unfortunately many of the comments here, including those directed at both John Quiggin’s worth as an academic and at bloggers like Yobbo, are petty and pointless.
    How about we all grow up a little and think before we touch the keyboard.

    Yobbo’s easy to mock, but he’s not actually a troll: he represents the quality of thought that underpins the IPA, and to ignore him would be to ignore the mentality that allows the IPA to be anything more than a PR unit at the BHP head office.

    Cred where it’s due. He actually comes out to comment at blogs where the majority opinion is against him, when he could just hang around at Catallaxy with the creationists and exchange the urban myths that pass for fact on the conservative internet.

  13. @Sancho

    ” Yobbo’s easy to mock, but he’s not actually a troll: he represents the quality of thought that underpins the IPA……He actually comes out to comment at blogs where the majority opinion is against him”

    Oh please – providing “quality of thought”? So far 10 entries on this thread, all throwaway lines delivered with contempt, like you hear shouted out in the front bar.

    And his bravery? Obvious answer is that some people just get their rocks off on verbal biffo, hence no attempt at a coherent argument.

    @John Foster
    My previous request for you to clarify apparent contradiction is withdrawn. I now see that you were quoting the Yobbo but didn’t include quote marks, so it appeared to be your own view. Apologies.

  14. Fran: “the ex-paypal entrepreneur behind it making it authentic.”

    I think I’ve said it before, but Musk is pretty much the only libertarian (albeit moderate) I have any time for. Why? Because you’ll never find him complaining there’s something holding him back. You’ve got the talent and the smarts, you’ve got the money…quit whining, and just go do it already…

    That and because he believes in the power of entrepenuership to achieve social good (in a way which ties in with a lot of things that appeal to me about social enterprise). Assuming he pays all his staff their super etc…I agree with Edis he’s a good role model for the right.

    Libertarianism so often strikes me as such an insecure philosophy. I’m echoing my previous comment, but the constant need to run others down, and run around telling everyone who’ll listen why they’ve got it better than you (Bolt, Sinclair etc). I can never work it out – do you believe in yourself, or don’t you?

  15. Davidson is at it again. He is saying that Agenda is a ‘B’ journal and Policy is a ‘C’. Unless I am missing something obvious, in the 2010 ERAs (the reference point for all economists that I know) Agenda is a ‘C’ and Policy does not appear to be in there. Perhaps Policy goes by a different name or something?

    He also claims to have published in A* journals too, but the only thing I could find was a single paper in the Griffith uni law journal. I somehow find myself doubting that he also has half-a-dozen AERs or Econometricas or something comparable).

    The thing I dislike is how shameless he is in driving home an utterly misleading point. He is trying to imply that JQ gets the facts confused and that he has a fine research record. The reality is that whether Davidson’s Agenda and Policy papers are included or not, his research record is poor relative to virtually all profs, and much, much worse than that relative to JQs. No amount of bluster will obscure this and everybody who knows anything about academic publishing in economics will see through it.

    I guess this means that Davidson knows he is misleading people, but will settle for impressing those without the knowledge required to assess him properly. Reminds me of a guy I knew in undergrad who would lie to high-school students about all the attractive girls he was (not) getting at uni.

  16. @NickR Not being a statitician many arguments are over my head but for me Davidsons credibility was irrevocably damaged over his position on Climategate.

  17. @Nick
    What I find deeply scary about the Catallaxy crowd and their like is that, if they ever get their hands on political power and follow through their agenda to destroy most roles of government the result could be totalitarianism. Why? Because their radical agenda will have to be implemented using ‘strong arm’ tactics. We saw a little of this when the Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher, tried to pursue her quite modest anti-government agenda in the UK back in the 1980s. Pinochet also use strong arm tactics in Chile. When this practical political point is raised, the anti-government ideologues tend to react very strongly. Back in the 1980s, when I was a junior academic economist, I wrote a critique of one of James Buchanan’s proposals along these lines whereupon he wrote directly to my VC at the time asking him to sack me forthwith (he didn’t!). On seeing the attacks on John, I couldn’t help but think back to that unpleasant career threatening incident.

  18. I’m giving as good as I get from now

    Given that “peace has broken out in Ozblogistan” – is Prof Q now resiling from this admirable stance?

    That would be a shame.

    “We” (the people who don’t have a big enough platform to actually cause discomfort to people like News Ltd, the IPA & pollies) need fighters who have some clout to ‘speak truth to power’.

    If, and when, they next have a swipe it would be sad to find Prof Q declining from “giving as good” back at them.

  19. @Megan
    I still intend to give as good as I get wrt News Limited, but I’m happy to make a separate peace with Catallaxy.

  20. @John Quiggin
    Sorry been away and travelling a lot so have missed all the brouha with catallaxy. Whilst I agree that it is best to sometimes ‘turn the other cheek’, my experience of catallaxy and its crew is that; no matter what the side agreement with Davidson may be they will not back off from their warlike and attack dog stance.

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