Looking for a new direction

My latest newsletter is here

Opening para

Labor has finally released its climate policy, which is just ambitious enough to differentiate it from Morrison’s do-nothingism. Apart from that, and process issues like the introduction of a federal version of ICAC, it seems unlikely that there will be any significant policy differences between the parties at the forthcoming election. Labor’s support for high-income tax cuts and budget “repair” means any spending initiatives will be small, and possible (as in the case of the social housing fund) shunted off-budget. And of course there is no guarantee Labor will win.

So, I’ve decided to shift my attention away from economic policy for the moment. 

15 thoughts on “Looking for a new direction

  1. I sympathise. But with respect, isn’t it a bit short-termist to quit the policy soapbox just because things are going so badly in Australian politics? Progressives of every stripe should ideally take the long view, as old-fashioned Marxists used to do. Presumably you are in this spirit still exposing your students to dangerous doses of common sense. Take a break from punditry by all means to stay sane, but please not for too long!
    “And perhaps the horse will learn to sing”: https://everything2.com/title/And+maybe+the+horse+will+learn+how+to+sing

  2. JQ, thanks for asking  “where I can make a more useful contribution”.

    I believe your most useful contribution would be to prepare a submission for the inevitable Royal Commission in The Pandemic.

    Specifically the Economic Consequences of Delayed Vaccines.

    Probably a 4-6 month shift in  vax rates which would have – probably –  negated a great deal the lock downs and impacts.

    1) Such an open submission prepared well in advance would also allow for some emergent factors to be incuded before a final submission from unknown supporters. Adding veracity. 

    2) allows for time and recognition to get social & business endorsement, and individuals “please impliment JQ’s sensible strategies” petition support. 

    I’d assist in any way.

    Further, this style of analysis may yield a breadth fresh air, of learning for both you, and bolster policy, fairness and decisions.

    “models to provide insights into the exploitability of human choice” 
    …  “Indeed, to show this, we create an adversary in the social exchange game whose intent is to enforce a fair outcome, rather than an unfair one.”

    “Adversarial vulnerabilities of human decision-making

    Amir Dezfouli, Richard Nock

    “To show the promise of this framework to surface such vulnerabilities in human subjects, we applied it to three decision-making tasks involving choice engineering (1), response inhibition (8), and a social exchange game (9) and tested the resulting adversaries on volunteers to assess the biases. We show that in all of the tasks the framework was able automatically to specify adversarial inputs which were effective in steering choice processes to favor particular target actions or goals. We further use simulations to illustrate and interpret the strategies used by the adversaries. Note that although we refer throughout to “adversaries,” exactly the same framework can be used for cooperative ends, or to increase social welfare. Indeed, to show this, we create an adversary in the social exchange game whose intent is to enforce a fair outcome, rather than an unfair one.”…

    “What I cannot efficiently break, I cannot understand.” Understanding the vulnerabilities of human choice processes allows us to detect and potentially avoid adversarial attacks. We develop a general framework for creating adversaries for human decision-making. The framework is based on recent developments in deep reinforcement learning models and recurrent neural networks and can in principle be applied to any decision-making task and adversarial objective. We show the performance of the framework in three tasks involving choice, response inhibition, and social decision-making. In all of the cases the framework was successful in its adversarial attack. Furthermore, we show various ways to interpret the models to provide insights into the exploitability of human choice.”

    PNAS November 17, 2020 117 (46) 29221-29228; 

    [Ernestine et all, care to comment on this AI style learning ‘model’]

    James said “Take a break from punditry “. Spot on.

    Cory Doctorow’s advise today. Slack off! Interesting read and background as to why Cory is Cory. 
    James, I’d say JQ is over ‘it’. How long has JQ been doing this? New = fresh motivation and insights.

    Thanks as always.

  3. A new direction need not be a radical direction. The case for a more efficient tax system is important as are equity objectives. The base of the GSP should be broadened – it covers a bit more than 50% of transactions. Stamp duty on housing purchases should be abolished. There are still reasons for supporting a destination-based carbon tax. and the capital cities of Australia should introduce congestion taxes on road transport. The road transport sector should be reoriented to user pays – particularly as electric vehicles will make use of the fuel excise an inappropriate surrogate for user pays. Once comprehensive road charges are in place , new roads should only be constructed or expanded if they are forecast to make a social profit. A difficulty with these proposals is that the case for them is non-new (reduced impact-factor for academic commentators) but some are now being discussed seriously today e.g. the use of taxes on property values rather than property transfers in NSW. Serious advocacy of the main proposals of the Henry Tax Review is generally important. It was a very good Review.

    On distribution we know there will be massive transfers of wealth from the wealthy to their already well-off progeny over the coming decades. Inheritances of wealth should be taxed but not wealth itself. We don’t need massive redistributions – the rich will remain rich – but some of this transferred wealth should be taxed. On income taxes – the top marginal tax rate should be shifted to around 65%.

    Governments on the expenditure side should be motivated to avoid waste and foolish handouts. Paying childcare subsidies to households earning $536,000 per year is bizarre Labor policy. I support a negative income tax directed at poverty (rather than race) so that people have incentives to work.

    And we don’t need more “tax summits” or committees of inquiry into the tax system.

  4. Harry, Perrottet spoke today in many of your points at NPC.

    He wants major changes and seems very politicaly aware.

    “the use of taxes on property values rather than property transfers in NSW.”

    NSW taking over “Paying childcare subsidies” entirely from Feds.

    Seriously dissed Feds, WA & gst.

    I see him, as with iCare, a controlling investor, not a ‘for all’ leader. I’ll reserve judgment.

    Ikon, others, your thoughts on Perrottet?

    Someone was kind enough last NPC to find a link to transcript. Anyone?

  5. Perrottet is just another neoliberal. Nothing good (economically) ever came from a neoliberal.

  6. Not very apropos, but an opportunity to recall the canonical time-outer: Charles Darwin. Timeline:
    1836; End pf 5-year voyage on the Beagle.
    1837-8: Conceives Big Idea of evolution by natural selection, attested by personal notebooks.
    1853: Publishes large monograph on barnacles. Also books on coral reefs etc.
    1858: Receives paper from Alfred Russel Wallace with independent conception of the theory. Joint publication of short essay on obscure journal.
    1858 : Publishes On the Origin of Species.
    Darwin was only forced into publication when about to be scooped. He was comfortably off and could choose his own projects free of career constraints. The barnacles can be explained by the need to build trade cred, but still: 20 years sitting on the greatest discovery in biology! The likeliest explanation is lack of bottle. In spite of being more or less the proverbial “seventh son of a seventh son” in the vast and progressive Darwin-Wedgwood clan, and a very decent man personally, Charles D was unwilling to take the starring role in the cultural war his revolutionary theory ignited. The war still burns today.

  7. People still under-estimate the power and complexities of evolution. Witness the broad failure to understand the punctuated equilibrium evolution of SARS_CoV_2 virus and what it means for us. Admittedly, the “punctuated equilibrium” thesis is later than Darwin, who I guess saw evolution as being always gradual. Am I right in saying this or did Darwin intuit (by inductive reasoning) rapid punctuated equilibrium evolution as well?


  8. JQ,
    “Benefits of megastudies for testing behavioural interventions

    “Trials of behavioural interventions are hard to compare, hampering policy decision-making. The effects of more than 50 interventions on exercise behaviour have been compared using an experimental design called a megastudy.”

    …”some of the limitations that exist even in gold-standard randomized controlled trials.

    “The idea behind a megastudy is to have multiple small groups of researchers all study the same problem at the same time — but from different angles — and then to compare their results.

    “Teams of scientists tested 53 ways to induce people to keep returning to the gym, such as sending text messages offering redeemable points or giving monetary payments. The most effective: very small cash rewards (just 9 cents) for attendance.”

    And please JQ, I stoooed asking you about;
    ” Epistemic & Personal Transformation:
    Dealing with the Unknowable and Unimaginable”

    So can you please give us a post with links about;
    Epistemic & Personal Transformation:
    Dealing with the Unknowable and Unimaginable


    50 scientists 53 ways. Results may even surprise you.

    Pick your ‘new direction’ poison.

  9. Ephemera
    Applies to just about everything.

    – The Useless Staircase
    – The A-bomb type
    – Evaporation

    “Thomasson or Hyperart Thomasson(Japanese: Tomason トマソン or Chōgeijutsu Tomason 超芸術トマソン) is a type ofconceptual art named by the Japanese artistAkasegawa Genpei in the 1980s. It refers to a useless relic or structure that has been preserved as part of a building or the built environment, which has become a piece of art in itself. These objects, although having the appearance of pieces of conceptual art, were not created to be viewed as such. Akasegawa deemed them even more art-like than art itself, and named them “hyperart”. In recent years there has been a resurgence of interest in Thomasson, especially since the publication of Akasegawa’s work on the subject in English in 2010.[1]

    And NFT’s?

  10. New directions. For AI not humans.

    Who will consume ” GPT-3 makes up for consistency with a prolificacy that borders on profligacy. It’s currently generating the equivalent of 80,000 books per day for the various apps that are hooked into it.”?

    Q1. How long before economics writers relatively cease to exist.

    Q2. How long before economists are replaced.

    “Big Tech is replacing human artists with AI
    Corporations are automating everything, even our pets

    Eric Hoel

    “In my office hangs a painting called “Rule of Consciousness.” An ironic title, as it actually signifies the end of the rule of consciousness. For it was designed by an AI. I keep it not because I like it. In fact, I hate it. Or rather, I’m afraid of it. It’s a sobering reminder of what’s coming, which is that human art is close to total control by corporations and no one seems to care.”

    Caption. Art for The Intrinsic Perspective is by Alexander Naughton

    “In fact, I’d go so far as to say GPT-3 itself is already a better writer than Nathan Englander. Under some reasonable metrics, it’s already a better writer than any living person for short pieces of prose or poetry. That is, writing in short sprints has effectively been “solved” in the way that Chess and Go have been. Oh, I’m not saying GPT-3 is a consistently better writer, even for short pieces. But the measure of a writer is not just qualitative, but also quantitative. And GPT-3 makes up for consistency with a prolificacy that borders on profligacy. It’s currently generating the equivalent of 80,000 books per day for the various apps that are hooked into it. Notably, GPT-3 is licensed by Microsoft, and is therefore closely guarded. You interact with it only via apps which act as oracles. It’s basically a genie stuffed in Microsoft’s basement you can Zoom with.”

  11. A new direction beyond topology, says the “inventor of MoravaK-theory. “You can go through a door and you wind up in a completely different universe. It’s very much like Alice in Wonderland.”

    Just how I feel about econimics. Therefore transending to a different universe will provide new directions and insights.

    “Mathematicians Transcend Geometric Theory of Motion”.

    “Typically, symplectic things are harder than purely topological things. So being able to tell something symplectically from topological information is the main interest,” said Ciprian Manolescuof Stanford University.

    “Other applications are almost certain to follow, and in ways that are hard to anticipate as mathematicians stand at the threshold of a new theory.

    “That’s one of the exciting things about math,” said Jack Morava, a mathematician at Johns Hopkins University and the inventor of MoravaK-theory. “You can go through a door and you wind up in a completely different universe. It’s very much like Alice in Wonderland.”


  12. Why not JQ … ” ‘the cunning purchase of… wealth”.

    Great to show up incentives and free lunches. Great missed opportunity cost examples. Great book. Proceeds to charity or The Quiggin Foundation.

    Then … art.

    “A cunning purchase: The life and work of Maynard Keynes


    “Yet I glory More in the cunning purchase of my wealth Than in the glad possession
    Ben Jonson,
    PORTRAIT OF THE ECONOMIST AS A YOUNG MAN On 21 June 1921, Maynard Keynes delivered the presidential address to the annual reunion of the Apostles – a secret society of the Cambridge University students and alumni which included such luminaries as Alfred North Whitehead, Bertrand Russell, G. E. Moore and Henry Sidgwick. What had united the Apostles of Keynes’s own generation were their commitments, learned from G. E. Moore, to absolute truth and to the search for friendship and beauty. The ideal career for Keynes’s cohort of Apostles would have been to become an artist, creating beauty and living in a community of other artists with whom one had close bonds of friendship. But what should one do if one simply did not have the talent to become an artist? In his address, Keynes seems to suggest that the best option for those who lack artistic talent may be to use their talents to pursue a career in finance or business. Quoting Ben Jonson, Keynes argued that the true reward of such activity lay not in wealth itself so much as in the ‘the cunning purchase of… wealth’.”

    June 2006


    In book: The Cambridge Companion to Keynes (pp.1-18)

    Roger E. Backhouse
    Bradley W. Bateman


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s