Monday Message Board

Another Monday Message Board. Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please. If you would like to receive my (hopefully) regular email news, please sign up using the following link You can also follow me on Twitter @JohnQuiggin, at my Facebook public page   and at my Economics in Two Lessons page

12 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. +1.

    “A guide to setting up a What Works evidence centre and surmounting its challenges

    Since 2010, the UK has built a network of What Works centres, with the purpose of championing ‘what works’ across the UK and ensuring that spending and practice in public services is informed by the best available evidence.

    The UK What Works Network represents one of the first attempts to take a national approach to prioritising the use of evidence in public policy decision-making.

    The evidence-informed decision-making agenda is not new to Australia, reaching as far back as a decade ago with the Productivity Commission’s 2009 Annual Roundtable on “Strengthening Evidence-based policy in the Australian Federation”.

    Recent announcements by the federal Labor Party – such as the promise to establish an Evidence Institute for Schoolsand an ‘Evaluator-General’ in the Australian Treasury – are designed to improve the use of evidence in Australian policy and spending decisions.”…

  2. I’m amazed at how the coalition of LNP/UAP/PHON is unraveling – the combination of lazy intellects and immorality has made them very vulnerable to own goals.

  3. I’m fed up with seeing these headlines “Bank makes better than expected profit, but forecasts tougher times ahead”
    I’m begining to think “tougher times ahead” = better than expected profit for next reporting

  4. KT2 re What works centres.

    The linked article contains the following advice, which IMHO is the most important one:

    “Nobody believes that ‘evidence speaks for itself.’ It needs leaders who get out and make sure evidence is used at the right time and place in the right way.”

    Empirical evidence is time and circumstances dependent. Alternatively put, it is conditional. It seems to me experts (people who understand the theoretical and historical conditions as well as the research methodology to which the evidence pertains) are required rather than “leaders”.

    What is the difference between a “what works centre” and an “expert centre”?

  5. Troy Prideaux,

    As you hint at, the statement makes perfect sense when the terms are properly defined.

    “Tougher times ahead for ordinary people” = “Better than expected profits for rich people”.

    Of course, the above is not technically an equation. It’s more a causation mapping. Tougher times (austerity) are inflicted on poor and ordinary people in order to increase the profits of rich people. Essentially, taking money off poor people (or preventing money from reaching them) is what makes rich people.

    “The only part of the so-called national wealth that actually enters into the collective possessions of modern peoples is their national debt.” – Karl Marx.

  6. Ernestine. Great observation and questions – as per usual.

    Expert centre = we can do this, as we have the history and research using evidence applied in the right place and time in the future.

    What works centre = we are hoping experts combined with examples that “worked” by “our” criteria apply elsewhere in the future. Dependant on “us” being in government -a tad cynical yet fairly realist imo.

    I hope the experts and framers of “what works criteria” get down in the gutter – (gutter alternatively – see how what works is working for those it is applied to ) – to provide current and on ground feedback – allowing to total inclusion, better targeting and right place right time application. And I doubt we have cured “conditional” with “our experts” as in the example from 2009 below.

    From Mandarin article – “the Alliance for Useful Evidence [orwellian title!] has spoken to regretted not putting enough resources into communicating and marketing at the start of their work.”… The leaders need the the current, nor historical evidence of users on ground – stories of real world examples – to have followers marching towards the same “what works” leader.

    Or we then get… fine print policy, and as with evidence, these can be used as a two edged sword. “Our” expert / evidence / trial suggests for eg – private health insurance is / will be good” – with experts chosen to frame “what works” and leaders exhorting “my what works”.

    I note Henery Ergas was pontificating at the 2009 roundtable mentioned in the article – ” The Productivity Commission’s 2009 roundtable was organised around the topic Strengthening Evidence-Based Policy in the Australian Federation, and held at Old Parliament House in Canberra on 17-18 August 2009.

    “Participants included government officials, academics, consultants and representatives of non-government organisations. Keynote addresses were presented by Dr Ron Haskins, Senior Fellow of the Brookings Institution, and Professor Jeffrey Smith of the University of Michigan.” (are we still importing US “experts”? Don’t they listen to JQ)

    Chapter 6 Evaluating major infrastructure projects: how robust are our processes? (PDF – 212 Kb) – Henry Ergas and Alex Robson
    … as an example of using “our” experts with “our what works” policies.

    IF we had truely independent Evaluator General (gereneral as in the centre / usual / mostly or general as in I command you? – very poor title imo) with citizen juries, climate council with teeth, reconcilliation etc etc, tasked with “bringing groups of ordinary people from local communities together to deliberate on burning political issues that have become toxic and ‘stuck’. It will replace polarisation and rage with social, economic, and environmental healing.” … may provide leaders with enough followers “make sure evidence is used at the right time and place in the right way”. (one current local example of many examples Nic Gruen’s Reachout manifesto ).

    The article also suggests “Without a sustainable and long-term funding source, centres can waste lots of time chasing grants from government or not-for-profits.” My grandma could have said that. I want to know where the seed funding for trials and proof is coming from to show “what works” and why isn’t it sustainable? Examples of the seed funding for trials of ubi seem to dry up prematurely. And a long term example is native americans being given gambling rights. It took a generation for the fruits of the that cash flow to show ” what works”.

    And really how is this able to be said with a straight face… “evidence-informed decision-making agenda is not new to Australia, reaching as far back as a decade ago” – a new name and worthy goals show nothing is new under the sun. I am hopeful though, that “what works” works better than our 2019 policy on the run “we’ll make it work – later” current malaise.

    Maybe “What Works in Two Lesssons” is in order? I could have linked 4 prior JQ op’s to this.

  7. Advert for a long blog, stodgy post on the cost of the GND in the USA (link). No very solid answers but IMHO at least some of the right questions. Positively no more off-colour jokes, and a cute photo of a gopher. H/t to Andrew Blakers of ANU for his 100% renewable scenarios.

  8. Good work Fran Kelly! She raised the question of opportunity cost with Angus Taylor in the interview on RN just now. I don’t think Angus did very well in his attempt to discredit this as an issue and Fran seemed quite confident that she understood the concept.

  9. -99 how your polictical party is litte brother tracker leading to big brother. I have a complaint with AEC as I have been receiving emails from a party I would never, and have never, supplied any personal details.

    “How the Australian election has invaded your inbox with email tracking tools

    “And while political campaigns are increasingly data-driven, Dr Vaile suggested the online practices of Australia’s political parties are largely opaque — thanks, in part, to their exemption from the Privacy Act. ”

    “A 2018 Princeton University study of email tracking found 70 per cent of the almost 13,000 examined emails contained tracking technology, with varying levels of security.

    “This means that trackers can connect email addresses to browsing histories and profiles, which leads to further privacy breaches such as cross-device tracking and linking of online and offline activities,” they wrote.

    “Australian political parties (but not lobby groups) have access to the electoral roll, which means that combined with data they collect online and offline, they have the potential to create data-rich profiles of Australian voters.

    “Dr Vaile said we have little visibility of these collections or their security.

    “The political parties in Australia have given themselves an absolute free kick, an exemption from virtually any form of a privacy or data protection law or spam regulations.

    “In effect, you know, they are data addicts. Big data addicts.”

  10. What works?

    Sometimes fade out effects, sometimes not… a wise Evaluator General please take note.

    From Straight talk on Evidence;

    “Beware the pitfalls of short-term program effects: They often fade

    “Highlights: For many social programs, it is important from a policy perspective to know not just whether the program produces positive effects in the short term, but whether the effects endure long enough to constitute a meaningful improvement in participants’ lives.

    “Unfortunately, we know from the history of rigorous evaluations that short-term program effects often fade over time.

    “In this report, we provide graphical examples of fade-out that span different areas of social policy—workforce development, opioid addiction treatment, and postsecondary education—along with two exceptional examples of effects that endure over time.

    “The bottom line is that, for many programs, relying on short-term positive findings as evidence of program effectiveness is hazardous, as the true impact may be fleeting and the ultimate effect on participants’ lives marginal.

    “Doing so can also blind researchers and policy officials to the need for program enhancements or changes that might lead to a more enduring effect, or to the need for development and testing of new programs.”

    “… iii) reductions in unnecessary and costly rehospitalizations of patients, as a result of a hospital discharge and home follow-up program. In such cases, the outcome of key policy importance occurs in the near-term (e.g., within a year of random assignment), and the program may therefore be deemed a success even if there are no effects in future years.

    …”…In addition, some inexpensive social programs may still be worthwhile from a policy perspective if their effects fade over time but last long enough to justify the program’s low cost”…

  11. Jules,

    I have found Taylor to be a highly unimpressive minister. I think like Wayne Swan or Julia Gillard for that matter he could not nsell a beer in a pub on a hot day

  12. They say that Angus is in witness protection until after the election. He *is* very unimpressive. My opinion about why Wayne and Julia couldn’t sell a beer is different. They were and are not, unimpressive.

    What happened to the character of the Liberals, not to mention the Nationals? I may be biased but the issues the Labor party had pale into significance compared to the collapse of the LNP.

    And who is going to end up with the Liberal name? The delcons want it but it doesn’t suit them does it?

    But check this out! Look at the face of the young man in the photo. How sad. What does he want?

    “In Queensland’s Lockyer Valley, a militant white supremacist group, whose members and supporters have been linked to far-right terrorism, has launched its first foray into politics.

    “Under a park enclosure at Gatton, wearing T-shirts with the “True Blue Crew” insignia, group members handed out soft drinks and cooked sausages, with the stated aim of helping like-minded federal election candidates work together.

    “They hired a face painter for the children.”

    Love that they got a face painter in. So family oriented.

    There are overseas students at the Ag College in Gatton. This sort of attitude can’t be fun for them.

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