A new sandpit for long side discussions, conspiracy theories, idees fixes and so on.

To be clear, the sandpit is for regular commenters to pursue points that distract from regular discussion, including conspiracy-theoretic takes on the issues at hand. It’s not meant as a forum for visiting conspiracy theorists, or trolls posing as such.

7 thoughts on “Sandpit

  1. Harry Clarke, my apologies for my strident accusitive tone in the “2-4-6” thread.

    I took umbrage at whining and cost push – as you noticed – after years of stagnant wages, and my kids public education being actively defunded. My kid has had now 3 years due to the pandemic of inconsistent education. Worse this year. I calculated that last term – term 1 of 2022 – I have spent one sixth – 1/6 – of my waking hours, covering for the oandemic & education department to keep my kid on track and deal with related issues. 2x hung up on by principals who, due to department policy!, refused access to immediate online resources. Why? “You may watch them at another time”!

    My kid is in a distance ed opportunity schiil for math English science, as lical ti ke the high school had no opportunity / gifted & talented funding or program.. Of the opportunity class teachers I’ve come to know over 2.25yrs, one in particular is performing three roles. And trying to get a pedagogy review last term took an inordinate amount of effort.

    And ambos and, aged care nurses and workers, are other trigger /wage /job earners who have saved my mothers life on more than one occasion, and the opportunity cost of me not wiping bottoms is huge. Cimoare and contrast this kabour cost with say Aspen Medical’s $459+m gp during a pandemic. Ecin 101 and politics Lib/Nat/Lab & 23.8% gdp to tax block and all excuses on the supply side fall away for me.

    I do appreciate your grasp of economics, though don’t share your recommendations or occasional tone. Cheers.

    But I do have a suggestion.

    A New Pre Economics 101 course (announced by KT2 U)…

    “Understanding The Metaphysics of Causation.
    [KT2 tagline: “Causal Catagorisation, Variables, Correlation & Autocorrelations. Identification”]

    “Just as we distinguish between token happenings and types of happenings, we may distinguish between token variables and type variables.”

    “The Metaphysics of Causation

    First published Thu Apr 14, 2022

    “Consider the following claims:
    – The drought caused the famine.
    – Drowsy driving causes crashes.
    – How much I water my plant influences how tall it grows.
    – How much novocaine a patient receives affects how much pain they will feel during dental surgery.

    “The metaphysics of causation asks questions about what it takes for claims like these to be true—what kind of relation the claims are about, and in virtue of what these relations obtain.

    “Although both 1 and 2 are broadly causal claims, some think that they are not claims about the same kind of causal relation. These causal relations may be differentiated by their relata. Claim 1 relates tokens. It talks about a particular drought and famine, not droughts and famines in general. On the other hand, claim 2 relates types—it is not talking about any particular instance of drowsy driving, but rather drowsy drivingin general. A prominent view is that there are different kinds of causal relation corresponding to these different kinds of relata. (See, for instance, Sober 1985 and Eells 1991.)

    “Contrast 1 and 2 with claims like 3 and 4. In claim 3, the causal verb “influences” is not flanked by token happenings, nor types of happenings. Instead, it is flanked by what we can call variable expressions. Variable expressions are interrogative clauses like “how much I weigh”, “what the scale reads”, “when the game ends”, and “whether I catch the bus”. We can call the denotation of variable expressions variables.”…

    Any takers for the Pre Ecn 101 course?

    Thanks as always.

  2. The way I look at it, things are very difficult these days for young adult people and for parents with dependent children. I can only compare this current situation to my path through life. I am 68 and fathered children (twins) late-ish at age 40. My wife was 34 at that time. We married when my wife was 24, are still married today and still 6 years difference in age. Astonishing, that. Our adult kids are now 28.

    We had it easier than today’s young adults and easier than today’s parents with dependent children. We started work in an era when work was a bit easier to find I think. Tertiary educated but we did not have student loans. There were more promotions, at least early on. It was easier to be DINKs (double income no kids) at that time. Houses (and rents) were a LOT cheaper, like 1/2.5 to 1/3 rd cheaper then, relative to the median annual wage then. Interest rates were high: mortgage rates went up to 18.5% at one point but we had a Commonwealth Bank home loan limited to 13%. Since we only had to borrow $35,000 (with a deposit of $31,000) to buy a good house this was easy on two incomes, no kids at that point, honestly.

    It was a good house too. Original architect designed, built early 1960s, mid-century modern style. Beautiful hardwood floors (brush box, very long boards), chamfer board exterior, slate flagstone courtyard facing north (in U shaped house plan ), slate steps, flat roof sloped a little to the back. Hardwood frame. If people want to talk hedonic adjustments to CPI this was a far better house than any contemporary pine frame, pine this, cladding that etc. house today You can’t get Australian timber that good anymore, full stop, end of story. It was all cut down and milled yeas ago.

    Also, we had no novel disease pandemic to deal with while raising kids. That is an enormous burden and worry on modern parents. Our jobs and incomes weren’t ruined by neoliberalism at least at first. That came on slowly like a boa constrictor taking 30 years to squeeze the life and hope out of many ordinary workers.

    Education was easier because state schools were better, though declining because the same old neoliberal boa constrictor was getting to work on the nation, its political economy and its public services and social wage services. We sent our kids to a private high school because we felt state highs were getting dubious even then in our new area.

    My kids learnt reading as much from their librarian mother as they did from the primary school with its new reading method (sight identification, not sounding out) at that time. That method was a semi-failure for many kids. I still remember my wife teaching them reading and then reading them a chapterof the first Harry Potter book early each night in our double bed. They were wide-eyed and rapt at every word of the story. Then, several books in the series later, each twin had to get his/her own copy and they each had the 400 (or was it 600?) page H.P. book read in less than a full week-end. The school also failed to teach my daughter maths properly. She may have had some “maths dyslexia” or rather dyscalculia. We sent her to Kumon for quite a while and that worked really well. My daugher also had elocution lessons at one point for some, mainly pronunciation, speech difficulties. Both kids went on to get tertiary degrees and unfortinately the neoliberal decreed student loans.

    But we faced nothing like the difficult educational and social disruptions brought on for kids (and adults) by the COVID-19 pandemic and more especially by the egregious mishandling of it by the global neoliberal system. Fortunate first world baby-boomers like myself have no right to lecture the young adults and children of today. We had it relatively easy. We also failed to prevent the worst of our own generation implementing economic fundamentalism on the nation and on the world, not to mention unleashing climate change. I can understand the younger generations being as mad as hell about all this. They have a right to be. You have a right to be. Remember, some of us oldies are still in your court. We will do what we can. First thing is to throw out the current neoliberal economic fundamentalist wreckers who govern only for the rich and for the so-called self-funded retirees (my wife and I included). We at least acknowledge that we are over-privileged and will do what we can to redress matters no matter that it might cost us some more taxes. Taxes pay for social services which are keenly needed by many in our society. Enlightened self-interest demands it too. We will be safer if younger generations are safer and have viable life chances. Otherwise it can all turn very bad for everyone very quickly. This is my fear.

    Wages and welfare HAVE to be lifted. Taxes on the well-off and the rich HAVE to be lifted. Don’t tell me in the same breath that we are wealthier as a nation and yet can only do less, not more, for the poor and working poor. That can only happen if the rich, the capitalists and rentiers are taking too much profit. Any other claim is plain old BS.

  3. KT2
    Economists distinguish between determinants and variables.
    Definition: The determinants are factors that cause fluctuations in the economic outcomes; and
    : A variable is defined as a set of attributes of an object. Attributes are characteristics that describe an object.
    Now economists go further to distinguish between dependent variables and independent variables.
    Definition: Dependent variables are those which are changed by the independent variables. The change is caused by the independent variable. In one instructive example salary is the independent variable and the amount you spend is the dependent variable.
    These definitions are used to give scientific credibility to economic research. This is done in a variety of ways, the use of mathematics being the main way, but it can be done in other ways as long as it uses scientific method. An independent variable is the variable that is changed or controlled in a scientific research project to test the effects on the dependent variable. A dependent variable is the variable being tested and measured in a scientific research project . The dependent variable is ‘dependent’ on the independent variable.
    More to your own analysis requirements, but NOT excluding the above definitions, is the definition of codependency.
    Definition — Codependency is generally defined as a situational and/or episodic behavioral condition similar to that of dependent variables.
    The famous quote:
    “You can’t put the cart before the horse”
    is a classic example. Both are codependent. The horse needs the cart to carry the load but the cart needs the horse to move at speed. . Adam Smith in his book Wealth of Nations called this Interdependence.
    But economics has moved on since the late 18th Century. There is also the issue of cointegration.
    Definition: From the point of view of economics: we can say that the two series are said to be cointegrated if they move together over time, and the distance between them is stable. Hence, cointegration reflects the presence of a long-run equilibrium towards which the economic system converges over time.
    Economists called this dynamic analysis. The dynamic model is more complex than the static model because of the issue of cointegration.
    This is all Pre Ecn101 stuff. I learnt most of this at school in my HSC year. How useful it is depends on how you use it. For me it kept me grounded as I read theories from the Classical school, the Marxists school, the Neoclassical school, the Keynesian school, the NeoKeynesian school, the Chicago school and the rationalists school. Then there was my brushes with Welfare economics and Behavioural economics.
    You must be firmly grounded on what economics is supposed to study or you will become the flower in the wind. New schools of thought are not always better. Some are worse. Economics is meant to be rooted in the real world. Its methods may be based on assumptions, that may seem unrealistic, but that is only the method of analysis. What is analyzed must always be real world problems for today’s economies. That is the test of good economics. All the mathematical modelling available cannot make a school of thought relevant to real world situations. Only when a school of thought offers workable solutions that improve economic welfare can it be considered to be relevant to today’s world.
    Thomas Veblen put it best when he said that to be committed to outdated theories was to accept an anthropological tendency to liturgical celebration. Of course he was referring only to classical theory. But the same can be said about any outdated theory.


    Apologies for taxing on my response to your post but I am merely following chronological order.

    I was on the other side of the education divide. I was a teacher for 34 years. I am also 68 years old so I understand what you are saying. I taught in public high schools, systemic schools; and private schools over that thirty-four years. Frustration with the education system made me give up on teaching twice. But I went back each time with a sharper focus. The students I taught ranged from the functionally literate to the superbly gifted. No guesses for which students were easier to teach. But they all had their challenges. In my first year I taught a fourteen year old boy who had a measured intelligence that labelled him a genius. But he failed all my class tests in Commerce. In my third year I taught a bunch of girls varying in ages from twelve to eighteen who were the best students I have ever taught. By my fifth and sixth years I was back teaching functionally illiterate students in a country high school. That depressed me so much I resigned from the NSW Education Department. One year later I was back teaching but this time in systemic schools. I taught one seventeen year old girl who topped the state in English. At one and the same time she looked after her younger siblings because her Mum had to work long hours as the sole money earner. Once more I gave up teaching but this time to travel the world. Three years later I was back teaching in private schools. My first one was what we called a
    “Rugby school”. Teachers were selected for their ability to coach Rugby and Cricket. Many boys left after Year Ten. I did not teach one boy I would say was gifted and talented in academic ability. Then I got a job in another private school that was filled up with clever boys. They were so clever that they thought they did not have to study. Some of them topped the state at the HSC. I taught one boy Economics and he came second in the state.
    Children who can only go to public schools will not be taught by the most gifted teachers. The public teacher salary pay scales are pathetically inadequate. The workload on a public school teacher is unjust and unfair. Its not much better in systemic schools. There may be an occasionally gifted teacher who is there for non-income related reasons. But don’t count on it. As for private schools they do have the highest pay scales for teachers. I taught with teachers that had their doctorate in the discipline they taught. One teacher I taught with was adjudged to be the best teacher in the state of NSW two years running. But private schools are not all about excellence. They are all about funding! State funding, federal funding and foundation funding but not necessarily in that order.. One private school gets so much funding from its old boys that it had no need to charge school fees (but still did so to fund excessive sporting facilities). Teachers in private schools are under constant pressure to give their students the highest marks possible. Internally, subject departments are funded and staffed based on their exam averages and HSC results. This means that some students are given unrealistically high marks and grades.
    In my time as teacher I went from being well paid comparatively speaking in public schools to being poorly paid in systemic schools then back to being well paid in my last private school. I saw good teachers headhunted by rich schools. I saw very good students headhunted by rich schools. But I noticed that the students who got the highest grades were the ones most strongly supported by their parents. By this I mean these parents made sure they studied and did all their homework. If the pandemic has been good for anything it has been good for parental involvement with, and understanding of, the education of their children.
    I have been in teachers’ strikes. They have not always had a positive outcome. I hope the one going on now in NSW does result in better pay and a reduced workload for public school teachers. They deserve both. If more young people are to be attracted into teaching then they need to know that the pay and conditions are equitable.

  4. Gregory J. McKenzie, thanks for your generous economics explanation. I’ll have to digest it for a while. I am very glad to hear that Econ 101 includes “…dynamic analysis. The dynamic model is more complex than the static model because of the issue of cointegration.”.

    Perhaps Econ 2.0-101 will include, as I think JQ is, an “Empathizer-systematizers understand the world as it truly is: Composed of sentient beings that are made of interacting parts.”
    [hope you don’t mind the comparison JQ]

    As Patrick Julius says; “All I’m doing is bringing the insights of psychology, sociology, history, and political science—not to mention ethics—to the study of economics.” ^1.

    And “”The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good people refuse to do cost-benefit analysis” ^2.

    “How personality makes cognitive science hard

    “But a rare few of us, perhaps as little as 2% and no more than 10%, are both; we are empathizer-systematizers, strong on both traits (showing that it’s not really a continuum between two extremes after all, and only seemed to be because the two traits are negatively correlated). A comparable number are also low on both traits, which must quite frankly make the world a baffling place in general.

    “Empathizer-systematizers understand the world as it truly is: Composed of sentient beings that are made of interacting parts.

    “The very title of this blog shows I am among this group: “human” for the empathizer, “economics” for the systematizer!

    “Indeed, some of the world’s greatest moral problems could be better solved if people were better empathizer-systematizers, and thus more willing to do cost-benefit analysis.”

    Patrick Julius. 
    “… bachelor’s degree in cognitive science from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and a master’s degree in economics from California State University at Long Beach. Fitting this mix of degrees, I specialize in the new subfield of cognitive economics. 

    “This makes me in one sense heterodox; I disagree adamantly with most things that typical neoclassical economists say. But in another sense, I am actually quite orthodox. 

    “All I’m doing is bringing the insights of psychology, sociology, history, and political science—not to mention ethics—to the study of economics. The problem is simply that economists have divorced themselves so far from the rest of social science.”…

    “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good people refuse to do cost-benefit analysis”

  5. For KT2 and then Gregory J. McKenzie,

    I gave my “testimony” as I call it (though you could call it anecdotal evidence) to provide encouragement to KT2. There are older people who understand, at least to some extent, the plight of younger generations in the current world. Incomes are lower relative to some very important and essential costs like accommodation but also education costs, insurance and even good food meaning hopefully organically grown, low in pesticides, low in antibiotics, low in steroids, low in phthalates etc. And in addition, COVID-19 “let it rip on purpose” policies have made the social and work worlds a lot harder to navigate with physical and mental health safety.

    I also wanted to point out that extant education systems were never perfect. Good parents always did supplementary work, of course, and also did much of the primary socializing work for their kids, as now of course. That’s not a criticism of teachers. They too are embedded in imperfect systems. But again, it’s all a lot harder now due to neoliberalism and COVID-19, to name the two major problems.

    Economics is such a fraught subject. The way I see it, it faces these major difficulties:

    (1) Self-interest is intimately and extensively involved, both personally and professionally. The inducements and pressures for motivated reasoning are vast. And many people operate in bad faith, are corrupt, callous etc.

    (2) Economics is both a prescriptive and descriptive discipline. You could also say both a normative and a scientific discipline. You could also say both a formal system and a real system discipline. IMHO, neither orthodox nor heterodox economics have come to terms with this dilemma.

    I believe there is a way to unify formal system / real system ontology. Whether this could help economics I have no idea yet and may never have an idea. I better stop here or I will get too prolix. I will finish by saying that even if some humans developed a near perfect theoretical solution for economics (one that satisfied the correspondence theory truth requirement for the extensive homomorphic congruence of model with reality);

    (a) Most humans couldn’t understand it;
    (b) Most humans would be too selfish and short-sighted to follow it; and
    (c) It would still suffer from failures to predict evolution and emergence and also from general computational, algorithmic, combinatorics limits akin to the n-body problem where n is a very, very, very large number.

  6. We want…

    “The Map

    “The map was carbon-negative by design, even without accounting for various obvious positive spillovers. Economists had shown that it had nearly tripled well-being, doubled productivity, and halved carbon intensity in the territory within the first decade.”

    May 5, 2022 
    By Venkatesh Rao
    This entry is part 8 of 8 in the series Fiction

  7. Spoiler…

    “It was called Antipodalism, and it was rooted in the belief that there could be no free lunch. There could be no unbalanced force for good in the world. The Map was no exception.”

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