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
    What! You expect readers to track someone called ‘Yobbo’ down on the Web. Ok, if it is no secret, what is your real name and affiliation?

  2. The point is, Yobbo doesn’t care to understand the finer points, he merely wants to make his point.

    Exactly. Point stands.

  3. @wilful The PMs salary attracts considerable benefits whereas JQs package is gross and attracts costs. It’s not apples with oranges.

  4. Yobbo’s are well yobbo’s. Wilful is correct and Yobbo’s cannot even do basic research.

    Remuneration Tribunal report 2012/1 gives PM additional 160% salary on top of base parliamentary salary.

    Report 2012/2 determined base salary at $190,550.

    Yobbo’s will have great difficulty with the maths, but the rest of us can see that wilful has worked it out correctly.

    In a year, with other entitlements, the PM’s income is probably much higher.

  5. University training is over rated…mostly it is simpley an excuse for gate keeping society. The University elite on one side of the gate, the tax slaves on the other. Mostly they go from Uni into some sort of Bureaucracy.

    …. as for productivity from our lettered elites…. Zero…. Acually worse then zero, billions worse than zero.

    Down at the CSIRO the lettered elites are fighting over lollies and broken tooth compensation…. I kid you not.

    Could you imagine Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, etc, fighting over lollies instead of obsessing over their Geekish nascent technologies back in the seventies?….. Well if they had been, none of us would be sitting here typing and communicating like we are right now.

    Yet here are these Deep Space Communication CSIRO guys, working in a field of science that probably thousands of people would give their right arm to be involved in, being paid for by the Taxpayer… and all they can do is fight over friggin’ lollies.

    If they were truly expert and obsessed people, they would be developing an Aerospace industry. They’d have visions of putting up their own satellites, sending atmospheric probes to Venus. Designing better ion drives, rockets, scramjets, putting integrated circuitry and guidance systems in artillery shells, etc.. the Universe would be their oyster and their obsession. There’d be spin off technology into defence and allsorts.

    But not these mob. They’re too busy fighting over lollies and compensation….

  6. @wilful

    For the PM, add the super, the free use of the Lodge and Kirribilli House with all the servants and trimmings, and the remuneration package is well over $1 million per year.

  7. J.H., if you’re using wi-fi right now while you’re typing and communicating, thank the CSIRO:

    The team who cracked the idea back in the 1990s included John O’Sullivan, Diet Ostry, Terry Percival, Graham Daniels and John Deane. All five have been honoured for their achievements, with Dr O’Sullivan winning the 2009 Prime Minister’s Award for Science.

    Their technology is now estimated to have been used in more than 3 billion electronic devices globally, including computers, printers, game consoles, TV sets and phones.

    CSIRO started legal action over its patent in 2005 and settled major cases against 14 companies in 2009, netting $205 million that year.

  8. Hmmm. Davidson’s list of publications is mainly proforma opinion pieces for the CIS and IPA. I’m surprised Davidson is not embarrassed by such serious underachievement. How does he keep his job?

  9. No worries, kevin1. I can be a bit forward and blunt a lot of the time, which I really should do something about…when I read back, I could see where the misunderstanding came from. I’m glad you gave me a chance to clarify.

  10. Yobbo :
    That page is from the 2007 election btw, I am not running any more, indeed I no longer live in Australia.

    Hi Sam

    Thanks for identifying yourself. You have risen a couple of points in my estimation (but from a very low base!). Good luck pushing the libertarian cause overseas. Funnily enough, there are bits of the cause I quite like, being a Schumpeterian and an admirer of some of Hayek’s insights. But I don’t think trying to bulldoze an ideology through gets us very far in freeing up the bits of the economy that really matter. For example, discussing John’s salary is completely irrelevant and I should add that, in many contexts, he likes free markets!

  11. It’s important to research well. For example: before Assuming that the CSIRO Deep Space Communication Guys are wasting Australian Taxpayer money it is best to see whether they are actually funded by the Australian taxpayer. So I checked the website where it says: (All operational costs are borne by NASA. The Complex’s DSN activities are coordinated by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).) What should they be doing according to the query? Developing an Aerospace Industry. Hmmmm. NASA is an aerospace industry… What they are doing as presented: arguing over lollies. What they really are doing according to their website: missions including: Cassini spacecraft at Saturn, Mars missions – including the twin Mars Exploration Rovers, Messenger spacecraft travelling to Mercury, New Horizons spacecraft travelling to Pluto, Voyager 1 and 2, which have been in space for over 30 years. Of course not all of this is glamorous and involves toiling away but checking, double checking and tedious work. Probably the reason JQ was retained by J Howard. As one professor said to me that people can produce papers but quality papers require more. Imagine where we would be without the CSIRO. No wifi and many other inventions.


    Jumpin’ Jesus.

    Not only is it not Morrissey in the avatar, but the people of Australia can now vote for someone who is concerned that “Government is comprised of politicians and public servants with no special insight or wisdom”, but also thinks wireless internet is the same as 3G and is proud of using a private “wireless” internet provider instead of connecting to that copper line rolled out by the government.

    As for “speed limits should be determined by what most motorists regard as safe, not what public servants deem to be acceptable”, sure. Why not. Let’s take road safety away from bureaucrats with their bothersome statistics and declining road tolls, and let the Dunning-Kruger effect decide instead.

  13. For example, discussing John’s salary is completely irrelevant and I should add that, in many contexts, he likes free markets!

    John has spent his entire career trying to discredit and lampoon free-market organisations in Australia.

  14. @wilful I can think of many other jobs 100% supported by taxpayer; education, health, military, police, law, garbage collection…I could go on..border security…and on

  15. @Yobbo
    JQ discredits privatization of infrastructure. Infrastructures are natural monopolies that do not have competition market associated with it.
    To add that Adam Smith described free market as free of rentiers and monopolies so that they do not perverse incentives within the market. By that JQ is a defender of a free market while you, by opposing that, want rentier market.

  16. Please, Jordan. Not 3 days ago Quiggin posted an article defending the Fabian society, and calling Australia’s most prominent free-market think-tank “wingnuts”.

    I don’t understand why you are even pursuing this line of drivel. It’s no shame to say you don’t support free markets. You would probably be in the majority in Australia.

  17. Not 3 days ago Quiggin posted an article defending the Fabian society

    Actually, he pointed out that what Catallaxy thinks is the logo of the Fabian society is actually a hoax created in 1910 to – guess what – troll critics of the Fabian society.

    The fact that you guys fell for it over a century later says more about the IPA and its supporters than anything John Quiggin has ever written.

  18. Yobbo is an accurate description. He thinks that moving to Thailand is worth it because he can get an $8 brekkie. No doubt there are other pleasures that a yobbo can indulge in, on the cheap.

  19. Chris Warren :
    Your so-called free-market think-tank is a low-grade rightwing capitalist propaganda sect.

    if so, who is then the local ringmaster the the vast neoliberal conspiracy?

  20. Yobbo,
    First you criticized JQ for attacking “free market” organizations which actualy are pushing privatizations of natural monopolies under pretense that there is competitive market within those monopolies and those that are dening AGW. So, they are not for free market.
    I addressed that issue which you started, now you are starting another issue and repeated the previous one without addressing the counter-argument.
    So, you keep attacking JQ without proving your accusations.
    Why do you think, that such manipulative tactic will work? Does it work for you in your private life so you think it will work everywhere else?
    What are you hiding by avoiding to prove issues that you start?

  21. HelloJohn Queegan!
    Here’s a freeform Haiku just for you.

    Keep riding that wave
    Dont let the bubble burst
    Lest September
    Kick your ass

  22. Defending the Fabian Society? That really does not deserve a response in a free society. McCarthyism is not dead obviously with some. Quiggin did not say that the IPA were “Wingnuts” he did say that possibly because of using the logo of the gradual turtle it has always loomed large in the demonology of the right. His point then was concerning the IPA being the leading Australian representative of such “Wingnuttery” referencing that article and it’s quite correct. It’s important to note that he’s not saying that they’re wingnuts.

  23. The Quiggin vs Davidson game is an amusing distraction. Perhaps they should agree that Foster’s work on economic evolution is superior to both and move on?

  24. Yobbo: “John has spent his entire career trying to discredit and lampoon free-market organisations in Australia.”

    Actually characters like Novak step on rakes nearly every time they move. How could you actually believe such an obvious hoax? How does one get to be such as idiot?

    As to Sinclair Davidson, he has repeatedly shown himself to be a less than competent economist. For example, here he is in July 2011 arguing that Australia is heading into stagflation.

    Sinclair, are you reading this? How about you explain why you got it so wrong. More importantly, how about you tell how you amended your understanding of the economy in light of your spectacular failure to read the trends.

  25. Scott :
    His point then was concerning the IPA being the leading Australian representative of such “Wingnuttery” referencing that article and it’s quite correct. It’s important to note that he’s not saying that they’re wingnuts.

    Fair enough. And let’s point out that, to his credit, Yobbo is the only Catallaxian who defends the theory of evolution there, because with that one exception, Catallaxy attracts an audience which believes evolution is a hoax.

    As I said, there’s not much point denigrating the IPA’s fans when they just beat you to the punch every time.

  26. Better keep moochin’ and lootin’ while you can you commies.
    Come September you’re gone gone gone.

  27. Hey “Sancho”
    That’d be the same evolution Darwin guy that believed Australian aboriginal blacks are inferior to whites.
    Do you want to hitch a ride on that sinking boat? Google it!

  28. You should take heart John that you are being attacked by the wingnuts, the yobbos and the Murdoch press. Its shows you are having some impact. Those who are irrelevant don’t get attacked. ‘Woe to you if all people speak well of you’. Jesus of Nazareth. (Easter is probably a good time to refer to good people being persecuted!)

  29. Defending the Fabian Society? That really does not deserve a response in a free society. McCarthyism is not dead obviously with some.

    Did I say it should be illegal?

    I am producing evidence to rebut the ridiculous claim that “John Quiggin likes free markets.”
    John has never seen a market that wouldn’t be better off with some regulation. When all you’ve got is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

  30. @Mike Moore
    I nearly choked at Sinclair’s suggestion that his remuneration comes from teaching. I’m sure that list of articles titled with variations on “Why Gina Rhinehart Should Rule Without Impediment” and “Science is Communism” wouldn’t be of any value to lobbyists.

  31. John has never seen a market that wouldn’t be better off with some regulation.
    Have you seen one, ever?
    Like mining market that used tokens for paying lung clogged workers which can be used only in mine owned stores,
    financial market that took the world into recession/ depression for second time in last 100 years
    medical market that sells viagra and steroids that arent that and kill people or plastic surgeons that do unsanitary operations and use bad materials….
    insurance market that does not have colateral to cover claims (AIG) or deny valid claims,
    and so on and on and on and on

    After enjoying hundred years of somewhat effective but very benefitial regulation, you just take it for granted and do not see how it benefited you personaly. Now you want to see only one side and look only at vagely bad side of regulation.
    Your ideology blindness is astounding, but at least you are honest to show your onesidedness

  32. TerjeP :
    Is an Australian Laureate Fellowship grant subject to income tax. Or is it tax free?

    Okay I’ve done my own digging and as best I can tell the grant itself is given tax free. However I don’t know if this scheme delivers entirely tax free income for the end recipient or if there is some other mechanism in the mix. Given that it’s public money the process ought to be made transparent to public scrutiny. And if the end recipient is getting tax free income then they really shouldn’t be publicly campaigning for higher tax rates on the rest of us.

  33. @Yobbo

    I am producing evidence to rebut the ridiculous claim that “John Quiggin likes free markets.”

    Perhaps you could try the more interesting related claims that

    a) the term ‘free market’ describes something specific that can exist in the contemporary world
    b) that such a thing once existed somewhere
    c) that John Quiggin’s alleged reservations about them or your apparent enthusiasm for them can respectively hinder or predispose their emergence and operation.
    d) that if such a thing existed, it would be better in practice by some measurable criteria than the most likely alternative.

  34. I love all the comments to the effect that “come September, your day of reckoning will come”, as if Abbott had the power to usher in some conservo-utopia where there was no need for universities with active research and people stopped believing in the scientific reality of climate change.

  35. @TerjeP

    Unless the laureate professorship is different in this regard from other ARC fellowships – which seems unlikely – the income is taxable in the ordinary way. I hold an ARC fellowship two tiers down from JQ’s. The money is paid to my institution, who passes it on to me; the institution is my employer and nothing alters from a tax perspective.

  36. Robert in UK. The very structure of the political system places limitations on politicians. Concerning the fear of communism however Chifley thought he could nationalise banks when it was popular to do so and found out the hard way under s92 of the consitution it was not possible (trade and commerce between states must be free). There are limitations so the reds under the bed creeping communism fear is exactly what JQ points it out to be. Delusion.

  37. Davidson’s recent post gives the impression he is an esteemed academic economist, perhaps not too different from Quiggin. Of course the objective reality is that his publication record is very weak relative to most professors, and laughable next to JQ’s (Is Policy even peer review? I couldn’t find it in the ERA rankings).

    I think Davidson’s bluster is simply evidence of the degree to which he and his friends are willing to embrace denial. No wonder it is hard to argue climate change with them.

    My view is that Davidson owes it to his readers to inform them of the true gulf between his and JQ’s careers, and explain it without invoking a conspiracy theory.

  38. John has never seen a market that wouldn’t be better off with some regulation. When all you’ve got is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

    Yobbo makes a false distinction. There are no well functioning markets that do not have regulations to ensure that they work efficiently and fairly. There has to be an ongoing discussion as to what the best set of regulations should be as circumstances change. The greatest threat to a market in a modern mixed economy is not government but the emergence of monopoly power or oligopolistic collusion. This gets even worse if the monopolists get control of the political party in power. This is not left wing talk – read Hayek.

  39. @TerjeP
    “And if the end recipient is getting tax free income then they really shouldn’t be publicly campaigning for higher tax rates on the rest of us.”

    Are you suggesting a conflict of interest here? Is it not the same when you suggest silencing a unique contributor to Australian public debate (his non-mainstream opinions being informed by high-level economic expertise) with whom you are in fundamental disagreement?

    For consistency, you would also reduce free speech for other groups entitled to tax concessions – workers receiving Remote Area Allowances, or partial FBT exemption because they work for non-profits in disability services, aged and palliative care, arts etc. There’s probably many more groups that should shut up according to you, but somehow taking JQ out of the game looks like the real objective.

    I think you are being disingenuous and this is not a libertarian value at all. The idea that his personal tax position – whatever it is – should preclude others from hearing his contribution clearly would diminish the debate, which is to our detriment. I know you lot are irredeemable cynics, but this forum is not a cult, and JQ’s credibility would be destroyed if his proposals were judged as based on personal relative advantage.

    LOL that you should speak for “the rest of us” on this blog!

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