Joe Hockey should read John Quiggin’s 'Zombie Economics'

If he did, he would be confronted with the inconvenient fact that the arguments he advanced to demean the Rudd Government’s management of the global financial crisis have been debunked comprehensively. If he has read it, he will be familiar with John Quiggin’s exposé about how discredited ideas in economics don’t die, nor are they alive, they are simply ‘un-dead’ – zombie like. Of course that may simply cue Joe to just go on repeating the same old lines, the same old platitudes, the same old zombie ideas as if nothing had happened to discredit them. After all, what do facts matter, what does truth matter? It’s perceptions that can plausibly be fostered in an unthinking audience that do matter.

Zombie Economics (Princeton University Press, 2010), which has the subtitle: How dead ideas still walk among us, is a good read, even for a non-economist. At times it is heavy going for anyone unfamiliar with the history of economics, but nonetheless leaves one with the strong impression that the author knows his subject backwards. He plausibly argues his case, quotes hundreds of studies that make his case and provides comprehensive references and further reading. I wholeheartedly recommend the book for any non-economist, like myself, wanting to delve into contemporary economics. Whether economists would find it appealing may depend on the school of thought to which they are wedded, and their capacity to entertain alternative ways of viewing the world.

This is not meant to be a book review; instead it is an attempt to expose the flawed thinking and the falsities that Joe Hockey inflicted on us in an attempt to discredit the Government’s response to the GFC.

Many of the quotes in this piece are from Zombie Economics, which I gratefully acknowledge.

At the outset Quiggin points out that “If we are to understand the financial crisis, and avoid the kinds of responses that set the stage for a new and bigger crisis in a few years time, we must understand the ideas that got us to this point…They are:

The Great Moderation: the idea that the period beginning in 1985 was one of unparalleled macroeconomic stability.

The Efficient Markets Hypothesis: the idea that the prices generated by financial markets represent the best possible estimate of the value of any investments.

Dynamic Stochastic [random] General Equilibrium: the idea that macroeconomic analysis should not concern itself with economic aggregates like trade balances or debt levels, but should rigorously be derived from microeconomic models of individual behaviour.

Trickle-down economics: the idea that policies that benefit the well-off will ultimately help everybody.

Privatization: the idea that any function now undertaken by government could be done better by private firms."

As it would take as much space as John Quiggin took to debunk these ideas, I will give here but a brief summary.

Regarding the Great Moderation, Quiggin asserts that the GFC has “…invalidated most of the popular explanations…the idea that improvements in monetary policy have been a force for economic stabilization looks rather silly now…If the pretensions of central banks have been shaken, those of financial markets have been utterly discredited. There is now no reason to accept the claim that financial markets provide individuals and households with effective tools for risk management. Rather, the unrestrained growth of financial markets has proved, as on so many occasions, to be a source of instability.”  He concludes: “The end of the Great Moderation has forced policymakers to relearn the basic lessons of Keynesian economics. Economies can collapse to a point where only large-scale monetary expansion and fiscal stimulus can revive them. But having revived the economy, can Keynesian policies restore and sustain full employment in a system that is inherently prone to crisis? An answer to this question will require radical new directions in macroeconomics. As I will argue…that means abandonment of more dead and obsolete ideas.”

While I didn’t hear Joe Hockey use the term ‘Great Moderation’ he certainly did strongly criticise the Government’s fiscal stimulus, in the end having to concede that it did provide some benefit, insisting though that it was too big and of course the Coalition would have done it much better.

It may help to here explain the terms micro and macroeconomics. The former applies to individual markets, the latter to the economy as a whole.

Regarding the second idea – the Efficient Markets Hypothesis – Quiggin points out that it “…is the central doctrine of market liberalism [his polite term for the somewhat pejorative term ‘neo-liberalism’], born just as the Keynesian era was drawing to a close.” and continues: “It was finally killed, in terms of intellectual credibility, by the Global Financial Crisis.”  He shows that the Hypothesis was beginning to crumble in the 1990s as a number of developing countries experienced severe financial crises, and was finally discredited by the GFC. Even as troubles emerged in 2007 with the ‘subprime mortgage’ crisis, advocates of the Hypothesis still believed that nothing would, or could, go badly wrong, and it was not until Bear Stearns was rescued from bankruptcy in March 2008 that confidence faltered, and with the nationalization of US mortgage agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in September, followed by the collapse of the investment banking industry and the bankruptcy of Lehmann Brothers, the Bank of America taking over Merrill Lynch, and Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan forced to seek government guarantees, confidence finally collapsed.

The Efficient Markets Hypothesis posited that the markets always know best and outperform public ventures, and so market liberalism led to more investment in the private sector. Quiggin points out that while some private sector take-overs of public utilities have been successful, for example in Finland where private investment in telecommunications led to the rise of firms like Nokia, the results have been mixed. He concludes that experience suggests: “…that a mixed economy will outperform central planning and laissez-faire.” - in other words an economy that includes a mix of public and private investment will do better. The unanswered question is: ‘What is the appropriate mix?’

You will recall that Kevin Rudd challenged the basic precepts of what he termed neo-liberalism in his essay in The Monthly on the GFC, and was roundly criticized for doing so by Joe Hockey, Coalition ministers and economists who still adhered to the Efficient Markets Hypothesis. What would they say now?

Dynamic Stochastic [random] General Equilibrium (DSGE) is a high-sounding name for an idea that succeeded Keynesianism in the late 1960s, with which Milton Friedman was associated. It has many facets and twists and turns that Quiggin explains in his book, but essentially it rests on the belief that macroeconomics derive from microeconomics and as Quiggin puts it: “Complex macroeconomic models can be reduced to simple relationships between one policy instrument (interest rates) and two targets (inflation and growth in GDP). Since there are two target variables, it’s impossible to hit each target exactly, so the models give rise to a trade-off.” Later he says: “By the eve of the Global Financial Crisis, the DSGE approach seemed to have conquered all rivals and to represent the future of macroeconomic theory. The crisis, and the failure of mainstream macroeconomics to offer a successful prediction, useful diagnosis, or coherent responses to the event, shattered the DSGE consensus.”

He says later: “If the micro-foundations approach underlying DSGE is of little use in understanding the macro-economy, where should we turn?” He replies: “…the best answer has been given by George Akerlof and Bob Shiller, in their book ‘Animal Spirits’: ‘In our view, economic theory should be derived not from the minimal deviations from the system of Adam Smith but rather from the deviations that actually do occur and can be observed’.”

Towards the end of this chapter he canvasses a return to Keynesianism but cautions: “But if a Keynesian policy framework is to be successful, it must be revived. Hopefully, the memory of past disasters will promote a more cautious and cooperative approach in future.”

There is much, much more to DSGE that this very brief account can provide; only by reading Zombie Economics can the complexity of the idea and its many nuances and contradictions be digested and comprehended.

If one can judge from his utterances, albeit couched in the language of politics rather than economics, Joe Hockey would likely be an opponent of a return to a form of Keynesianism. As Shadow Treasurer he needs to thoughtfully consider this option free from any doctrinaire position he may now hold.

The two remaining ideas that have been discredited need little explanation.

Trickle-down economics is an idea that whatever benefits are given to the wealthy, they will filter down to the poorest. Quiggin begins: “As long as there have been rich and poor people, or powerful and powerless people, there have been advocates to explain that it’s better for everyone if things stay that way.” While great economists such as Adam Smith, John Stuart Mills and John Maynard Keynes have supported income re-distribution through progressive taxation, and most economists still do today, there are still some who argue that we should let the rich get richer and wait for the benefits to trickle down to the poor. One could be forgiven for thinking that is what Joe Hockey and the Coalition believe, as they insist on giving tax relief to the wealthy.

Quiggin gives example after example showing the trickle down hypothesis is false, and caps this with a telling graph of household income distribution in the US from 1965 to 2005 that shows that those on the 95th percentile for income steadily improved their position by over fifty percent, while those on the 20th percentile and below were static.

He points out that the biggest challenge of the failure of the Trickle-down Hypothesis is to understand why and how inequality increased so much under market liberalism, and how it can be reversed. Restoring progressivity to the tax system is seen as an obvious move.

Privatization is always better than public provision of services and infrastructure according to some economists, and seems also to be the view of Joe Hockey and his Coalition colleagues. How many times have we heard him say ‘Labour can’t manage anything’, and of course he quotes the HIP and the BER to support his claim. Extrapolating, one assumes he believes that private initiative will always be better than government endeavour, even with a Coalition government.

Government often sees privatization as a way of achieving public works at no cost to itself, or realizing the value of a held asset to balance a budget. Quiggin gives many examples of failed privatization, where governments have had to re-nationalize the enterprise. Other privatizations have worked well. But the mantra that private enterprise will always do better is manifestly wrong.

He concludes by returning to the theme of a mixed economy with the ‘right’ balance of public works and private enterprise.

In his final chapter Quiggin sums up what he believes is needed in twenty-first century economics:

“More on realism, less on rigour
More on equity, less on efficiency
More on humility, less on hubris.”

He concludes: “Every crisis is an opportunity. The Global Financial Crisis gives the economics profession the chance to bury the zombie ideas that led the world into crisis, and to produce a more realistic, humble, and above all socially useful body of thought.” And so say all of us!

I trust this piece has been of some interest to those of you who puzzle about economics and wonder how economists reach their opinions and predictions. You may still be left wondering. It seems to me that the economics profession is encumbered with a plethora of competing ideas, hypotheses, theories and models, many of which seem to be mutually exclusive. There is vigorous and at times heated disagreement among the competing schools of thought. While in one sense passionate debate is essential in any discipline, the conflict of ideas that characterizes economics can leave policy makers up in the air about what to do next, especially when crises occur. They are obliged to select the theories and models that seem most applicable and use them without the certainty of outcome they desperately seek. If only economists could slide out of the procrustean bed in which so many seem to be constrained and look at the whole picture of models and theories with a view to discarding those that have been discredited, and combining the most useful features of the others, we, the victims of economic mismanagement, might, just might, be better off.

But with so many zombie ideas still refusing to die, the prognosis is not promising. Reading Zombie Economics I was reminded of Thomas Kuhn’s 1962 book: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions where he describes how he believes science actually works. Kuhn argues that it is an episodic model in which periods of conceptual continuity are interrupted by periods of revolutionary science. He gives many examples of how a scientific theory (‘paradigm’ is the term he uses) becomes fashionable and is warmly embraced by mainstream scientists, yet as evidence accumulates that cast doubt on it and eventually makes it untenable, too many scientists still tenaciously cling to it, making convoluted attempts to explain away the disparities long beyond when they are overwhelming, until finally the theory is overturned in a ‘revolutionary’ way, what Kuhn called a ‘paradigm shift’, a term he coined. It seems to me that the same phenomenon exists in economics where there are many dominant paradigms to which individual economists and schools of economics cling despite the gathering and finally overwhelming evidence that they are wrong.

At the end of his book, Quiggin quotes Richard Posner, ‘a rare example of a market liberal who has changed his views and embraced Keynesianism’: “Market correctives work very slowly in dealing with academic markets. Professors have tenure. They have lots of graduate students in the pipeline who need to get their PhD’s. They have techniques that they know and are comfortable with. It takes a great deal to drive them out of their accustomed way of doing business.” That just about says it all when we ask why economics zombies continue to lurk, ready for resurrection, ready to wreak destruction on financial systems all over again.

Whatever Joe Hockey believes, he really ought to read John Quiggin’s Zombie Economics from cover to cover. It is a goldmine of systematized information and references that would assist him to make more coherent and logically consistent statements about the economy in the future.

What do you think?

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Feral Skeleton

11/04/2011Ad Astra, Right on! Money line: [quote]'It’s perceptions that can plausibly be fostered in an unthinking audience that do matter.'[/quote] The Coalition, we have to all agree, are experts in perception management. Also, to my mind, 'Trickle Down Economics' is just kleptocrat code for "Ha! Haq! We've got you fooled! You work your guts out and tread water financially or go backwards, & we rake it in.' So, it's good to see that the Gillard government are not for turning in the recovery from the GFC, as this paper, 'Keynsians in the Downturn, Keynsians in the Recovery' by Wayne Swan shows: http://www.fabian.org.au/files/AustralianFabianEssay_WayneSwan_%28Final-VA4%29.pdf Finally, apropos of a scientific 'paradigm shift', you'd have to say that the current Global Warming debate is following exactly that scenario, except upside-down, in that the weight of the science is on the side of the Climate Change believers already, but the Sceptics are waging the insurgency, and having some success in turning the debate around in the public's mind, using outdated arguments not supported by the current science.

D Mick Weir

11/04/2011Well said that man! Thanks AA, a great summary, eleven and a half out of ten is my mark. You neatly captured Qiiggins main points. While the book does get a bit 'heavy and technical' at times I endorse your comment: [i]'... wholeheartedly recommend the book for any non-economist, like myself, wanting to delve into contemporary economics.'[/i] I was going to add that I thought maybe Mr Swan and Ms Wong should also read the book particularly given the stated intention of getting the budget back into surplus ASAP no matter what. However, with the link FS has provided maybe I will have to reserve 'judgement'. Thanks for that link FS, I have only skimmed so far and will read once I return from my other life :)

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11/04/2011FS Thank you for your very pertinent comments and the link to Wayne Swan's paper on Keynesianism, which I shall enjoy reading later. You are so right about the denial that pervades the climate change debate as an example (perhaps in reverse) of Kuhn's thesis. Folks I'm now getting on the road back to Perth. I'll be back this evening.

Lyn

11/04/2011Hi Ad Thankyou for your brilliant article "Joe Hockey should read, John Quiggin's "Zombie Economics', Ad I appreciate your work so very much. Ad, I don't think Joe Hockey is interested, or even wants to know about economics. Joe Hockey's whole approach is to whine, if the unemployment is down he whines, if inflation figures are good he whines, if the economy is good he whines. Joe Hockey needs to learn how to stop whining, and he sounds so mournful. Menzies House is not very happy with Joe: [i]Menzies House website again criticises Joe Hockey , James Massola, The Australian[/i] [quote]Two Menzies House website editors resigned in February after an anonymous article published on the site described Mr Hockey as incompetent and a stain on the party's reputation as a good economic managers. In the Menzies House article, Mr Andrews wrote: "If we were to report on every gaffe, or extreme Left wing policy idea, coming from Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey, it would drown out all the other commentary on this site."[/quote] http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/menzies-house-website-again-criticises-joe-hockey/story-fn59niix-1226035969933 Ad, I have collected a few articles about John Quiggin and Zombie Economics, I thought, would be an interesting read for you: [i]Financial Fetishes: Zombie phase stalks economy,Satyajit Das, ABC[/i] economy risks entering a zombie phase. The economy appears to be functioning. In reality, it is moribund and stagnant, manipulated by central bankers and policy makers to give the appearance of normality. http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/55660.html Profile: John Quiggin, Lucinda Schmidt, SMH The way to kill the zombie ideas off for good, Quiggin says, is to offer a plausible alternative. ''We need to look at restoring the active role of government of the 1950s and '60s,'' he says. ''A more sober and disciplined version of Keynesian theory, http://www.smh.com.au/money/profile-john-quiggin-20110329-1cdoc.html Avoid those zombie theories , Patrick Commins, SMH John Quiggin, recounts in his book, Zombie Economics: How Dead Ideas Still Walk Among Us. (If you think the title is dramatic, you should see the cover.) http://www.smh.com.au/money/avoid-those-zombie-theories-20110326-1cas3.html Hope you had another nice day Ad.

Ad astra reply

11/04/2011D Mick Weir I picked up you comment on the iPad on the road to Perth.  We are now in Mandurah having lunch. Thank you for your generous comments; coming from someone as erudite as you is very complimentary.  I too look forward to reading Wayne Swan's Fabian Lecture this evening.  You are right - Wayne Swan and Penny Wong should read Zombie Economics. Hi Lyn Thank you for your very kind remarks, and a special thank you for finding references to John Quiggin and his book, which I shall read this evening.  You are likely right about Joe Hockey's disinterest in seriously studying economics, yet he wants to be Treasurer. He seems to go off at the mouth unexpectedly to the chagrin of his colleagues and Menzies House.  With Tony Abbott uninterested in politics, Andrew Robb not particularly versed in economics and inarticulate, the Coalition has a poor economics team.  What a prospect they would be in Government!

2353

11/04/2011AA, well argued as usual. The implementation problem is in your last paragraph- [i]Whatever Joe Hockey believes, he really ought to read John Quiggin’s Zombie Economics from cover to cover. It is a goldmine of systematized information and references that would assist him to make more coherent and logically consistent statements about the economy in the future. [/i] Hockey won't read it on the basis that the book will not support his political narrative. On the other hand, you'd hope Swan and his senior staff [b]have[/b] read it. The interesting thing here is that I'm sure my Economics text from the mid noughties (from memory) didn't really support "trickle down" economics either.

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11/04/2011Folks I’m now back in Perth. 2353 Thank you for your kind comments. I suspect you are right – Joe Hockey feeds off narratives that match his belief system, and there are plenty of economists out there who will supply those narratives. I realize that he may not be prepared to accept John Quiggin’s views, but at least reading [i]Zombie Economics[/i] would be educational and give him other perspectives. If he wants to be Treasurer isn’t he obliged to inform himself about other viewpoints, other ideas, other models, other options? Or is he content to use cynical politics in lieu of information and reasoning? It’s so long since I took economics at school, that I have forgotten such details as ‘trickle-down’ economics.

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11/04/2011Hi Lyn I've read the Quiggin links you provided and found them most interesting.  John Quiggin is an extraordinary academic and thinker.  His writings on climate change too are of high quality. FS I've read the Fabian essay by Wayne Swan with fascination.  It is a strong and lucid statement of why the Government acted as it did to address the GFC.  What surprised me was the overt use of a Keynesian approach to the crisis, conceding that the Keynesianism of the thirties was modified when applied in 2008.  Also revealing was Swan's insistence that a Keynesian approach was as necessary in recovery as in the crisis.   If only we could see a comparable statement from the Coalition as to what it would have done and why. 

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11/04/2011Folks What a positive boost for the NBN on Four Corners tonight with the always-balanced Stephen Long as the interviewer.  Malcolm Turnbull's objections were feeble and his UK expert's equally so.  That should make Tony Abbott's quest to 'demolish' the NBN look as ridiculous as it is.  If you missed it, an extended version is to be available on the ABC.

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12/04/2011Folks What a good Q&A again tonight.  For rational political discussion, it knocks Insiders into a cocked hat.

TalkTurkey

12/04/2011I suppose everyone watched Q&A . . ? . . Penny Wong is a legend eh. Right on top of her game. Hunt was not in the hunt. Rude and insistently interruptive and never reined in by Jones, nevertheless Hunt was bankrupt of any form of policy, he reminded me of the bunny that has the inferior battery, just running down inexorably as the Coalition becomes increasingly irrelevant as the Government achieves its agenda items one by one and as the scare campaign becomes ever more threadbare. Hunt made not one worthwhile point in the whole evening. I think it has started to sink in to the Coalition that like St Kilda in the AFL it peaked just short of victory and it's not gonna get up there at all now. Hunt and his creepy crew of Abbott supporters are performing an increasingly-ridiculous hornpipe on a sinking ship. Then came Turnbull on The Drum, he's only about 4 foot 8 now, I don't know what he's on but he keeps shrinking! He was already so plainly on a perpetual flaying to nothing on the NBN, now the legislation has passed both Houses he's still dopily flogging a horse so dead even his mongrel* mates in the Coalition don't want anything to do with it. He must feel like a mug, or if he doesn't he's even more of a mug than I gave him credit for. Fancy letting himself be thus wedged by Abbott in the first place! And Abbott's face btw looks like a zombie's putrescing visage as it emerges from a grave . . . It's all breaking up like a bad digital TV image . . . sort of crazed, in both senses of the word. The stress is getting to him far more than it is to *J*U*L*I*A*! The Coalition may be up in the polls but it will only move in one direction, down, down, down. I am very confident of this. Stephen Smith is as the young ones say, awesome. He has picked his issue sagely or at least, had it laid on him and since then played his hand both shrewdly and courageously, gaining support even from unimaginable quarters. Dog, even Reith supports Smith's action against the Defence bullies. I must admit I'll be sort of disappointed if Pretty Polly Pantsdown doesn't get up now. I know that's mischievous of me, but it seems to me that where one Green won't help much, one Hanson could make some poignant mischief for Fatty. We'll know today about PH I'm told. Happy Tuesday Swordsfolks.

Lyn

12/04/2011 [b]TODAY'S LINKS[/b] [i]Carbon debate leaves Gillard out of breath, Mungo Maccallum, The Drum[/i] Abbott and his colleagues have quite consciously and deliberately adopted the strategy of blaming the tax for everything: the big lie is, as always, the simplest approach http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/55676.html [i]$20b feud with Telstra drove NBN's birth, Stephen Long,ABC[/i] Four Corners has also confirmed Telstra had planned to retaliate by building its own rival network in city areas, killing the value of the Government's investment. http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/04/11/3187614.htm [i]Zombie Doppelganger, John Quiggin[/i] (Zombie Econ was originally going to be called “Dead Ideas from New Economists, and back in the 90s I wrote one which the publisher insisted on calling Great Expectations), http://johnquiggin.com/index.php/archives/category/books-and-culture/dead-ideas-book/ [i]Poorer by the week. Swan spins an even worse budget, Peter Martin[/i] The government also faces extra spending of 5.6 billion on reconstruction and support after the Queensland floods and cyclone, only partly offset by the $1.8 billion flood levy. http://www.petermartin.com.au/2011/04/poorer-by-week-swan-spins-ever-worse.html [i]Restricting “freedom of information” revelations, Jeremy Sear, Pure Poison[/i] See, that’s the attitude I’d expect from those who perceive themselves as the “gatekeepers” of the public’s right to know. As if they just won’t BOTHER trying to find important stories and making FOI requests http://blogs.crikey.com.au/purepoison/2011/04/11/restricting-freedom-of-information-revelations/#more-9718 [i]ABC Editorial Policies Come into Operation , Margaret Simons, The Content Makers[/i] Today is the day that the new ABC editorial policies come into force. As covered by Crikey previously, this is the product of a comprehensive shake-up, http://blogs.crikey.com.au/contentmakers/ [i]Simons: journalists do dirty work, but ethical rules matter, Margaret Simons, Crikey[/i] News Limited in Australia, for example, has a code of professional conduct. Yet ask young reporters within the empire whether they are aware of its existence, let alone what it says, http://www.crikey.com.au/2011/04/11/simons-journalists-do-dirty-work-but-ethical-rules-matter/ [i]Insufficiently robust: Murdoch issues a mea culpa on Phone Hacking, Derek Barry, Woolly Days[/i] The question becomes how high a price News is prepared to pay to avoid making public the reasons why their internal investigation wasn’t sufficiently robust. http://nebuchadnezzarwoollyd.blogspot.com/ [i]Silence on Murdoch's influence ,Paola Totaro, SMH[/i] reignites criticism levelled against the Tory Prime Minister, David Cameron, who appointed former News of the World editor Andy Coulson as his director of communications. Mr Coulson resigned his post just before a new investigation http://www.smh.com.au/world/silence-on-murdochs-influence-20110410-1d98m.html [i]WHO DO YOU TRUST? Liberal wets slip on tax reform,Andrew Landeryou, Vex news[/i] Hockey’s ill-considered thinking-out-loud on the issue this week was probably the worst moment of his recent parliamentary service other than his abortive and mishandled run for the leadership. Colleagues were appalled. http://www.vexnews.com/news/12893/who-do-you-trust-liberal-wets-slip-on-tax-reform/ [i]Essential: hit companies, not welfare, to fix the deficit,Bernard Keane, Crikey[/i] It seems neither leader is doing it for voters at the moment. http://www.crikey.com.au/2011/04/11/essential-hit-companies-not-welfare-to-fix-the-deficit/ [i]Essential Research (53-47) an the 2010 Australian Election Study, William Bowe, The Poll Bludger[/i] pointing to a continuing drift away from Labor who for the second week in a row have shed a point on the primary vote, now at 35 per cent. http://blogs.crikey.com.au/pollbludger/ [i]The sad, quick death of Ten'seditorial integrity, Patrick Ashworth, The Sporadic Rager[/i] NewsLtd columnist and generally unpleasantly minded conservative slimeball Andrew Bolt has been given a weekly program starting 8th March. http://sporadicrager.blogspot.com/ [i]Come Monday, Miglo, Cafe Whispers[/i] I’m sorry Tones, but while you’ve been sitting for hours in your office plotting and planning the downfall ofthegovernment http://cafewhispers.wordpress.com/2011/04/11/come-monday-8/ [i]Pubs and Clubs come out fighting against Pokie Plans, Reb, Gutter Trash[/i] It’s un-Australian for a government to support one man in Tasmania over the 300,000 Australians who work in pubs and clubs, and the millions of people who belong to a club,” he said. http://guttertrash.wordpress.com/2011/04/11/pubs-and-clubs-come-out-fighting-against-pokie-plans/ [i]whither the ALP? , Gary Sauer Thompson, Public Opinion[/i] Mike Pearce in Should the ALP labour on, or is the party over? in The Age offers a realistic assessment of the ALP. http://www.sauer-thompson.com/archives/opinion/2011/04/whither-the-alp.php#more [i]Last rites for the Labor Party? Part Two: An impasse for post-materialist Greens politics, Dr Tad, Left Flank[/i] However it is dressed up, whether in technocratic language about “sovereign debt” or confected fury about “unaccountable” public sector unions http://left-flank.blogspot.com/2011/04/last-rites-for-labor-party-part-two.html#more [i]More on the future of the ALP , David Havyatt, Anything Goes[/i] market economies needs to be seen in the broader context of Phillip Bobbit's work - in particular Terror and Consent: The Wars for the Twenty-First Century. This is his analysis of the issues confronting us http://davidhavyatt.blogspot.com/2011/04/more-on-future-of-alp.html [i]Coin - tossing and Chernobyl, Robert Merkel, Larvatus Prodeo[/i] George Monbiot, in the context of debates about the Fukushima nuclear accident, has claimed that 43 people died from the Chernobyl disaster, contradicting other figures in the tens of thousands.http://larvatusprodeo.net/2011/04/11/coin-tossing-and-chernobyl/#more-20738 [i]Enemies on all sides in the carbon price war, Alan Kohler, The Drum[/i] If the Government allows the climate change debate to become total war between the resource exporters and the Greens it will be the loser itself http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/04/11/3187543.htm [i]The Liberal Party receives millions from fossil fuel lobby, Independent Australia[/i] In his brilliantly documented exposé on the hijacking of the Liberal’s climate action agenda – High & Dry – he lays out in forensic detail the complicated money trail concocted to deceive the Australian public. http://www.independentaustralia.net/2011/politics/the-liberal-party-receives-millions-from-fossil-fuel-lobby/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-liberal-party-receives-millions-from-fossil-fuel-lobby [i]Bolt, Abbott distort climate science, Renfrey Clarke, Green Left[/i] We should not doubt both Bolt and Abbott know the key facts of climate science. To have set Flannery up, Bolt would need to have read at least a summary of Solomon’s paper. http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/47294 [i]A nation moving at the speed of light: this is the vision[/i] behind Australia's biggest-ever infrastructure project, the National Broadband Networkthe NBN is to the 21st century what the national road system and railways were to the previous two centuries - an essential infrastructure that links up the wide, brown land and a backbone for commerce and national development, including applications not yet invented. http://www.abc.net.au/news/events/national-broadband-network/ [i]National Broadband Network: Guide for Consumers[/i] Australian Communications Consumer Action Network The internet has changed most people’s lives in the past decade. But the technology that enables us to get connected can seem hard to understand. [b]This Handbook will try to answer common questions about the internet, broadband [/b]connections and the National Broadband Network (NBN). http://www.accan.org.au/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=263&Itemid=319

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12/04/2011LYN'S DAILY LINKS updated: http://www.thepoliticalsword.com/page/LYNS-DAILY-LINKS.aspx

Feral Skeleton

12/04/2011I see 'the new jj' came back with a whimper, not a bang. And away again it seems, back to the seamy world of Right Wing brainwashing, er, viral e-mails, and agitprop from the likes of Jones, Hadley, Smith, Akerman, Bolt, Blair and Sky. It's enough to do your head in, and, it appears, it has done just that to little 'jj'.

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12/04/2011Folks Lyn’s links as usual cover a variety of issues. The article by Margaret Simons [i]ABC Editorial Policies come into operation[/i] http://blogs.crikey.com.au/contentmakers/2011/04/11/abc-editorial-policies-come-into-operation/ is a case in point. Talking in the context of the climate change debate she says: [i]“The many ABC reporters who are concerned about what constitutes balance in reporting climate change are particularly excited about the explicit statement that in applying impartiality standards, the ABC is guided by hallmarks of objectivity including: “a balance that follows the weight of the evidence” (emphasis added) Now, these new Ed Pols have been signed off by the Board, which must mean that Chairman Maurice Newman regards them as consistent with his concern that ABC reporters not be guilty of “group think” on climate change. What a relief. I’d say the weight of evidence should also put paid to the idea that climate sceptics are automatically entitled to the same shake of the stick as that given to the weight of scientific opinion. ABC types have been claiming that this is the case for a while, as I reported a week or so ago. But now it is explicit. It will be interesting to see how this one plays out in practice, particularly given the propensity of some sceptics to scream bias, and use the ABC’s complaints procedure to do so.”[/i] We shall watch with interest for any sign that ‘balance’ has returned to programs where it has been sadly lacking.

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12/04/2011Hi Lyn Thank you for yet another comprehensive set of informative links. For those who missed the [i]Four Corners[/i] episode on the NBN last night, there is a good summary at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/events/national-broadband-network/ I haven't previously seen anything like this representation of a [i]Four Corners[/i] episode. The ABC is to be congratulated.

BSA Bob

12/04/2011Talk Turkey at 12.53 Just learning now that Hanson has apparently lost her election bid, but like you a part of me sort of hoped she'd win. Barry would've been funny to watch. A bit nihilistic perhaps, but my friend in N.S.W. who's on our side said much the same. But the Greens winner will probably be a better result.

janice

12/04/2011Ad astra, [quote]I haven't previously seen anything like this representation of a Four Corners episode. The ABC is to be congratulated.[/quote] You're right there Ad astra - for a brief moment we got our ABC back. Anyone watching the programme surely must appreciate the benefits of the NBN to this Nation and also have their eyes opened to the idiotic stance of the Abbott Opposition attempting to destroy it. Malcolm Turnbull was left looking like a great big dill. I haven't read "Zombie Economics" but it is definitely the right description for the Coalition's economic thinking. I'm no economist but I found the whole bundle of coalition criticism of Labor's response to the GFC to be incredibly stupid. All the screaming of "debt and deficit" managed to scare the hell out of people who view a nation's budget on a par with their own household mortgage. Of course the Coalition must know better but they used this ignorant perception to try to derail the government (with the help of their msm mates). What really infuriates me though is that when it became obvious the Government's strategy was (a) working and (b) worked so well that we came through the GFC almost unscathed, the insane shrieking and criticism continued unabated. The new meme became 'what GFC? - it didn't happen here in Australia so the Govt just wasted billions of money'. I read Wayne Swan's Fabian Essay and like you, found it fascinating. I gave myself a pat on the back because I did understand the strategy the Govt went with in responding to the GFC. However, I did not understand the reason for the government being hell bent on returning the budget to surplus, until I read the Essay. This Essay should be mandatory reading for all Australians.

Lyn

12/04/2011Hi Ad I agree, ABC four corners was the best I have ever seen, the small amount of criticism, was fairly constructive, The whole program was extremely informative also exciting. There were 2 links, that I posted yesterday, one, the handbook been published on the use of the NBN, the other a fantastic web page, designed by the ABC on mostly everything, anyone would want to know about the NBN. Maps are fantastic. ABC needs Congratulating on the Network web page, I think it's brilliant: National Broadband Network: http://www.abc.net.au/news/events/national-broadband-network/ Handbook: http://www.accan.org.au/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=263&Itemid=319 Seems the Liberal supporting, Journalists are worried about the ABC being biased towards the Government, at least this one anyway, yes I know, who wrote the article, but it's been approved by the Editor: Punters despise pollies' stunts ,John Pasquarelli , The Australian [quote]The ABC has got away with blue murder for years with "Red" Kerry O'Brien the ex-Whitlam staffer doing over Coalition interviewees as he liked on the 7.30 Report. From now on, Coalition MPs should firmly resist the efforts of their media enemies to participate in mindless and destructive stunts saying, "thanks for the offer but with all respect I haven't come here to make a fool of myself for your cameras; I've come here to listen to the concerns of ordinary Australians". The next target for a Coalition determined to take on their media enemies is the ABC's Q&A which is simply a disgrace where Coalition dummies are set up to be shot down: Boycotting Q&A will destroy the show as it will not survive just having Greens and Labor on the panel so Tony Jones will be left with Lateline. [b]Chris Uhlmann and Leigh Sales on 7.30 should be given a fair go, as to date they have proved to be objective.[/b] The ABC is firmly handcuffed to Labor through its hosts on other shows and it should be given no quarter by the Coalition that has to endure a long, hard haul to the next federal election. [b]Abbott must set the example and show Australians he is much more than just another extra for those undergrad TV stunts.[/b][/quote] http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/punters-despise-pollies-stunts/story-e6frg6zo-1226036879309 Have a nice day Ad

TalkTurkey

12/04/2011Lyn, Margaret Simons, Ad astra, thank you all, Yes let us hope that the dreadfulness which has stalked our ABC since about Kevin Rudd came to power has been scotched! I'll believe it when I see it, but just Bolt having been seen off and a few of the last bits of Q&A have shown hints of possible indications of hopeful suggestions that just maybe the ABC is clutching at itself again. Who knows, Ad, it could even have been influenced by our flurry right here on the Sword! But it makes me cringe to realize how we sit watching in HOPE that just MAYBE the interviewer gives Swan or *J*U*L*I*A* or any of the decent people a decent run . . . We shouldn't have to hope! It is our right to expect proper reporting, it's Our ABC after all, when it's all said and joked ruefully about, it's publicly funded, and it had a proud tradition until the last few years. Its current affairs programs are horrible most of the time now, and ABC 24 apart from its Rightist bias and its metooism is the biggest disappointment of all due to its general amateuristic production and its mediocrity. It is not good enough that we just hope things get better now. It really is the 5th Estate's responsibility to find ways of making the ABC accountable if we possibly can, I know it sounds hard to think of ways but we do need to. We really owe it to the future. The ABC is precious, and it doesn't belong to THEM.

BSA Bob

12/04/2011I agree with Pasquarelli that there are Coalition dummies- far too many in fact.

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12/04/2011janice Thank you for your comments, always thoughtful. You are right – the NBN program on [i]Four Corners[/i] was very positive and the opponents, Malcolm Turnbull and his imported supporter Robert Kenny, sounded unconvincing, with the latter trying to persuade us that the broadband we have is OK for most applications. What was missing from their assessment was any trace of imagination and anticipation of applications not yet thought of. Yet the advent of mobile technology brought forth thousands of applications hitherto unimagined. I’m sure Turnbull has more imagination than this, and probably Kenny does too, but under Tony Abbott’s instruction to ‘demolish the NBN’ poor old Malcolm is being forced to say things he doesn’t believe to make the case, like a lawyer defending a guilty party, when his heart, and mind, are not in it. In August last year, I wrote [i]Would Tony Abbott really be stupid enough to trash the NBN?[/i]. The arguments for the NBN presented then – applications in health, education and business, were among those mentioned last night. Sadly I fear that the answer to the question is probably ‘Yes’ if we are so unfortunate to have Abbott as PM. The piece is at: http://www.thepoliticalsword.com/post/2010/08/04/Would-Tony-Abbott-really-be-stupid-enough-to-trash-the-NBN.aspx Regarding Wayne Swan’s Fabian essay, I agree that everyone should read it and understand the rationale behind the Government’s moves. You may be interested in John Quiggin’s comment on Swan’s essay. [i]Swan on Keynesian policy[/i]: http://johnquiggin.com/index.php/archives/2011/04/11/swan-on-keynesian-policy/ Here are some excerpts: [i]"Over the past year, however, the economic news, both locally and globally, has mostly been bad, with natural disasters producing short-term shocks, and the US and Europe mired in heavy debt and sluggish recovery. The economy has slowed a bit and tax revenue has fallen short of expectations. Unsurprisingly, on the government’s current policy settings, the return to surplus would be delayed, though probably still ahead of the original 2015-16 target. "From a Keynesian point of view, that’s exactly what should happen. Although the slowdown isn’t enough to justify an active fiscal stimulus, the standard Keynesian prescription would be to allow the automatic stabilizers to work, smoothing the path back to full economic recovery. Unfortunately, that’s not what the government is doing."[/i] The rest of his assessment is worth a read.

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12/04/2011Hi Lyn Thanks for the links. The one on the NBN is particularly good. The Pasquarelli article is an opinion piece. I don’t agree with his view that “[i] The ABC is firmly handcuffed to Labor through its hosts on other shows…”[/i]. Most who comment here would feel the same as I do. His suggestion that the Coalition should try to destroy Q&A as the Coalition representatives there so often come across poorly, as BSA Bob says when he uses the word ‘dummies’, is scary. I don’t agree that the [i]7.30[/i] presenters are objective; Leigh Sales has been objective so far, in my opinion Chris Uhlmann has not. TT Thank you for your comments. I agree that the Fifth Estate must be vigilant and call unfairness and bias whenever we perceive it.

Feral Skeleton

12/04/2011I spent all of 4 Corners last night taunting Malcolm Turnbull on Twitter. :)

Feral Skeleton

12/04/2011Speaking of NBN matters, here's a fair and reasonable article about the NBN Tender process and the conniptions it underwent last week, from Paul Budde: http://www.businessspectator.com.au/bs.nsf/Article/NBN-Co-Telstra-Leighton-budget-pd20110408-FQ5QF?OpenDocument&src=kgb

BSA Bob

12/04/2011Lyn Tying in Pasquarelli's piece with criticism here & elsewhere of the ABC's increasing right wing slant, something to beware of will be the emergence of a "Murdoch Approved" "Good Indian" class of ABC journalist.

thenewjj

12/04/2011Last nights QANDA and Four Corners were great for the ALP. It is just a shame that the only way they could get any positive air time was to have the always biased Steven Long (judging by his comments on the drum yesterday he is a big fan of the NBN) and Tony Jones. Penny Wong managed to take up around 40% of the programs time with her gobwobble about silly signs and 'not delving into the past'. And whenever Hunt got the chance to say something he was always prompted to, "answer briefly if possible" by Jones, who subsequently gave Wong a chance to drone on again afterward. Four Corners produced by the NBN's biggest fan was, well, what you would expect from a part time economist, part time ABC political commentator with obvious leanings toward the ALP. He did a great job at blurring the whole debate to cause the end to justify the means ie wonderful classroom environments and out of hospital care all thanks to the NBN. What Long seemed to forget is that it is not a debate about whether we do something to improve services or not, therefore that it is either the NBN or nothing. The debate is about how best to achieve improvements in service at the least cost for taxpayers. For instance i doubt the couple from rural Victoria need 100mbs per second for their children to play soccer on the internet or to check emails or do online shopping; but the way Long structured this section of the program made it seem that he was implying that this is the sort of thing the NBN is trying to fix and therefore it is justified. I think we heard a couple of 20 second bites from Turnbull and his ex adviser from the UK, but heard plenty from Conroy, the head of Optus, the principle from the school in Tasmania, the family from rural Victoria, the photo developer from my neck of the woods. We all know that fibre is great, but we also know that wireless is the greatest mover and shaker in terms of take up of broadband services at the moment. So this begs the question, why setup a monopoly that blocks entry of such new and improved technologies; which almost certainly will be cheaper and in more demand in the future? Doesnt the rejection of the 'build it and they will come' Soviet style economics apply today? Even after two obviously biased programs toward the Labor party i am sure i will see your continuous rants about the government funded channel being a hideout for those evil conservatives.

thenewjj

12/04/2011TT, Your comments on the ABC getting back to its good-old-self are just ridiculous! Your idea of a good interview of Julia and Swanny would be for the journo to just let them spew their nonsense non stop. I believe that our journos should ask tough questions of all in politics including and most especially Gillard. This PM has much to answer for, especially the fact that she obviously doesnt believe in the Carbon tax/ ETS proposal that she now quite extraordinarily now advocates.

thenewjj

12/04/2011Here is a good piece off the DRUM. Although i dont agree with all of it, he makes some good points: Last night’s Four Corners special on broadband hit all of the issues and is a near-perfect representation of the debate. As I watched it, I could only reflect on the fact that everyone had a point and yet somehow there was no way of resolving it all. Four Corners concluded that impasse was ideological. I suspect that is not the case, it is political. Let me begin, as did the report, with the stuff that causes economists like me great pain: the Regional-Urban divide. The pain is not caused by the notion that if regional broadband is uneconomic we should just give up. Instead, the pain is caused by the fact that if we have a social goal to provide regional broadband then the ‘cross-subsidy’ model is one of the worst and most expensive ways to achieve this. And it isn’t expensive because it somehow raises the costs of laying cable in regional areas. It is expensive because it kills the social returns to broadband in urban areas. To explain, the cross-subsidy model involves taxing economic areas of broadband provision to pay for losses in the uneconomic areas. The tax occurs by, first, ensuring that urban areas pay more on the NBN and, second, by preventing competitors for grabbing the urban money. That means less usage in urban areas and so less social value. And if the goal is to allow someone in regional areas to talk to a doctor in urban areas, that doctor will be paying more and so will everyone else. There is a cheaper alternative that allows a much better outcome. You pay for regional broadband losses directly through the government (raised from taxes on all) while allowing urban broadband to have competition and, yes, lower prices. It is an economic no-brainer as one group (regional Australia) is no worse off than they would be under the cross-subsidy scheme while the other (urban Australia) is better off. But it is a political no-go. Why? First, there is a perception that it is unfair to regional Australia so to compensate we punish urban areas. Second, there is a continual accounting need (for reasons I can’t fathom) to ensure the NBN somehow breaks-even as a whole. But what is the point of government ownership of infrastructure if we can’t sustain some book losses when social value is enhanced? But time and time again ordinary Australians are punished because politicians can’t work out how to sell economic sense. And it is happening again in a big way. The cross-subsidy issue is much deeper than this as the Four Corners report demonstrated. It works on a person-by-person and business-by-business basis. We saw a printing outfit in Glen Innes for which higher-speed broadband would allow better management of the Christmas rush. But who is paying for that? Does a few businesses peak demand require an entire township and all its residents have fibre connections? We saw a school in Tasmania whose digital classroom exercises were enabled by high-speed broadband. Do we need every home in that area to be hooked up to get school to the world connections? We saw a woman suffering from cystic fibrosis and heard of a Year 12 student at home for a couple of months who could benefit from high-speed connections to manage health issues and their consequences. But did their neighbours need to fibre connections to resolve those connectivity issues? The health issues actually loomed large. Four Corners touched a little on education and not at all on the environment. But in each case, the health issues were ones that impacted very few people and, moreover, I suspect there were individually expensive but compared with the fibre roll-out, cheap, solutions. The Year 12 student could be handed a wireless option. The cystic fibrosis patient could be given a government subsidised means of transportation for consultations or better still a high-speed facility in a nearby regional centre where the consultation could be held. And when you think that the Government is floating the idea of cutting a massive $400 million from their health scientific research budget to pay for deficits in part contributed to by expensive broadband roll-outs, you have got to believe that something is amiss. Ask our patient – would she rather consultations in her own home or progress towards new treatments for her condition and I wonder what her choice would be. So the Government has a point that services need to be provided and that in some cases high-speed broadband is the solution. It also has a point that in proposing and rolling out the NBN, it was correcting past mistakes. Telstra’s privatisation was botched and should never have happened without structural separation. To correct that, the Government needed to prove its seriousness in by-pass. But having done that, surely an optimised plan could be put in place. In effect, the Government is fixing past mistakes by repeating them. It is creating the old cross-subsidy model that itself drove the privatisation that was a disaster. The ACCC could have put pressure on the Government to keep competition alive but was absent. And looming large are some basic economic forces. The cross-subsidy model will work so long as urban customers buy from the NBN. But wireless options are (currently) outside the competitive constraints. To be sure, they may not be the same as wired options in terms of connectivity and speed. But consumers choose based on a broader equation – price and convenience too. The Government is betting that they will choose a higher priced wired option over a lower price but possibly lower quality wireless one. Everyday, telecommunications companies around the world are losing that same bet. That said, I'd also like to know whether the Opposition (should they get into power after the NBN is built) will unwind the cross-subsidy model they so oppose. And on a final note, I viewed the Four Corners program soon after it was broadcast here in the US on a wireless connection that gets me 9Mbps locally and to Melbourne, less than 1Mbps. I watched the entire high bandwidth version without a skip. Joshua Gans is an economics professor at Melbourne Business School and a visiting researcher at Microsoft Research (Cambridge MA). All views here are his own.

Jason

12/04/2011thenewjj, For all your venom about the NBN since you last were with us it passed through both houses! Turnbull who was given the task to destroy it failed as did Abbott. Say what you like jj the fact is it's getting built, because the "market" you go on about failed and what the coalition done to Telstra failed! everything you clowns touch fails, Labor does the reform you take the credit why? you have a party of dinosaurs that have the vision of Mr Magoo!

thenewjj

12/04/2011Once again Jason you are back to your intellectual best!

2353

12/04/2011At least Jason has an intellect - someone else only has LNP talking points.

TalkTurkey

12/04/2011Oh frabjous day! Second only to the time Lyn called the Turkey 'magic', this is my best-ever bit of stroking: "TT, Your comments on the ABC getting back to its good-old-self are just ridiculous!" . . . thenewjj Meet thenewjj! Same as the old jj! Would someone please tell thenewjj from me how reassured I am that she has said so. (For now, of course, I KNOW I'm on the right, 'cos I know SHE's on the Right track!) WHO said: Won't get fooled again!? http://www.google.com.au/search?source=ig&hl=en&rlz=1G1TSHN_ENAU397&q=the+who+meet+the+new+boss+ Gee I like looking up the lyrics of old songs I never heard perfectly before. Wonderful world wide web.

TalkTurkey

12/04/2011oops . . . I'm wrong . . . above . . "I KNOW I'm on the right, 'cos I know SHE's on the Right track!" No, I mean I know I'm on the right track, I'm not on the right . . . weird.

thenewjj

12/04/2011Numbers man (2353) So what if what i say is in line with what some in the Liberal Party have said... if it makes sense, so what!

NormanK

12/04/2011Ad astra As clear as mud. No fault of yours I hasten to add. For some reason the hardwiring in my brain won't allow me to get a firm grasp of economic abstractions. Swan's essay was informative, couched as it was in layman's language and with a practical situation from which he could draw examples. Unfortunately, and perversely, when I hear, see or read an 'expert economist' waxing lyrical about what is wrong with our economy and what should be done to fix it, I initially react as though it's advice from my GP - here's the ailment, here's how you caught it and here's how you cure it. But it's not that simple is it? It depends which school of thought the economist adheres to and what barrow they are pushing. All very confusing really. Presumably one could seek out an economist to back whatever course of action best suits one's desires. Oh to have a GP like that! "Yes Norman, copious amounts of chocolate will cure that problem for you."

Lyn

12/04/2011Hi Talk Turkey And you are still magic today, you will always be magic. Love your "designer label" invented words, this one is my favourite:- frabjous [i]Oh frabjous day![/i] What a lovely way to start your post Talk Turkey, magic one, unique 2. I know your right Talk Turkey, you know, I know your right. cheers :):):):):):):):)

TalkTurkey

12/04/2011Lyn, I do make up portmanteau words, i.e. words made of two or more existing words, but the word 'frabjous' comes from the magical pen of the Rev.Charles Dodwell, aka 'Lewis Carroll', of Alice fame. It is one of several in 'Jabberwocky', must-be-the-best of all not-quite-nonsense verse in our lovely language, wonderful to learn and recite to kids and old kids. Voici le link avec une illustration: http://www.jabberwocky.com/carroll/jabber/jabberwocky.html I actually wrote a parody based on Jabberwocky a couple of years ago, in honour of the brave attack by an intrepid quartet of youths with sticks on a half-blind octogenarian flamingo, the oldest denizen of Adelaide Zoo. They broke its beak but it recovered, amazingly. The heroic lads got off scot-free, don't ask me to explain. But it's good to see the tradition being upheld by bold koala exterminators armed only with slug guns.* Twice in the last year. Here is my parody: Flamingocky 'Twas swillig: and four heroes young Did gulp and guzzle West End Draught: Of Heroes deeds their Daddies sung, And drunk until they barfed. Beware the FlamingO, fair Youths! The Eye that's blind! The Plume that plucks! That swanssome Neck! Those trampling Hoofs! The Beak that flips and sucks! They took their cudgels stout in hand: Eftsoons the pinksome Foe they found; Then two on two, there at the Zoo, They circled round and round. And whilst in circles round they pranced, The FlamingO, with blinded Eye, And swansome Neck outstretched, advanced, And honked a Goossome cry! One! Two! Three! Four! Twelve times! A score! Their cudgels stout went Whack! Whack! Whack! They knocked it flat, and, feather in hat, They clapped each other’s back. Hast thou laid low the FlamingO? Oh come to us, thou bold brave lads! Oh frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! Rejoiced them thus their Dads. 'Tis swilling, and four Heroes proven Gulp and guzzle Tooheys New: On their brave deeds their Dads a-groovin’ Drink until they spew. *Since I started writing this, ABC 24 has broadcast a news item tte that in Victoria the RSPCA has had to destroy an injured and then castrated young kangaroo . . . There are no words . . . Humour doesn't get there.

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12/04/2011NormanK Of course you can find an economist to support almost any idea you prefer. The joke that if you have a dozen economists in a room you will get thirteen opinions, is apt. I found John Quiggin’s arguments plausible and convincing. The problem is that economists hold their views so strongly that too often they are unwilling to see other viewpoints. Thus they hold to zombie ideas when they are long defunct.

Feral Skeleton

12/04/2011Sounds like 'the new jj' has been to a Tea Party Brainwashing session, er, Conference in the US. However, it's a pity she is having to come over all 'Stalinist' as Malcolm Turnbull would say, in order to find a way around the 'frabjousness' of the NBN. To whit: [quote]'The cystic fibrosis patient could be given a government subsidised means of transportation for consultations.'[/quote] Yep, that's right, jj, force the disabled and weak out of their houses into a 'government subsidised means of transportation', in order to deny them fast enough broadband to be able to consult their specialist in-home. Just so the neoliberals can save a few sheckels on a first class fibre rollout. Of course, they'll all have their frabjous wireless iPads, which they'll make sure has the fastest speeds in the best suburbs, dahling. As they'll probably be the owners or major shareholders of the companies which provide the service. [quote]Do we need every home in that area to be hooked up to get school to the world connections? [/quote] Yes. Why not? Oh, that's right, according to the 'jj's' of this world, society should be stratified and you should only get the best of everything if you've 'earnt it'. Well, I happen to approve of the idea of the Year 12 child with Glandular Fever being able to continue to participate in school, even though they cannot be physically present in the classroom, or the child of the growers of our potatoes in Tasmania being able to access exactly the same quality of education as the students at the poshest Private School in the city. And, yes, I think all students, in every classroom should have access to super fast broadband now, and into the future, for who knows yet what applications will be formulated for it. Not Wireless, ny the way, for 'jj', like Malcolm Turnbull, conveniently ignores Physics by saying: [quote]'The Year 12 student could be handed a wireless option.[/quote]' Erm, no, actually. If the Year 12 student was handed a Wireless option at home, if the school transmitting to her only had 'the Wireless option', congestion on the network as a result of multiple users, would not see a very fast 'blipless' data transfer at all. Also, if you tried to have all students in every class , in every school, using Wireless, the consequent congestion would be buggy as hell. That's just the simple Physics of Wireless data transmission again. Sigh. I could go on taking the rest of the 'Billy Tea Party' rhetoric of 'the new jj' apart, but I tend to not like wasting my time on incoherant & illogical Right Wing trolls.

Jason

12/04/2011FS, We have to help the work experience kids! thenewjj is still on a high from her efforts in getting rid of NSW Labor as though it was hard after 16 years

Casablanca

13/04/2011Jessica Irvine has a good article today in response to Swan’s Fabian Essay ‘Swan proved Keynes works but can he avoid Keynes's curse?’ She includes the following nice quote from Quiggin, ''If you think of Keynesianism in the narrow sense of fiscal policy, I would say Swan counts as the most Keynesian treasurer and Ken Henry as the most Keynesian treasury secretary. We have never seen as big and rapid a fiscal stimulus as we got [during the global financial crisis]'' The '' Keynesian curse'' more or less means that you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t (provide stimulus). Ad, you said somewhere above that Abbott was not interested in politics – I took that as a typo and that you meant to quote Abbott’s oft repeated remark that he is not interested in economics. He is primarily interested in the politics of opposition at the basest and most disruptive level. That is why he carps on about the debt and deficit. Irvine’s article also picked up on some of my unease about characterising Hockey as lacking an interest in economics. In the sense of ‘know thine enemy’ we need to acknowledge that Hockey has been a Minister in some of the key economic portfolios, including Financial Services and Regulation; Small Business; Human Services; and Employment and Workplace Relations. The guy actually knows his way around economics. Why then does he whine so much as Lyn points out. Well that is because of base partisan politics, not because of any lack of economic nous. The only semblance of policy from the Opposition has been from Hockey and then his colleagues have shut him down. I agree too that Andrew Robb is a poor communicator but again his economic credentials cannot be gainsaid - BEc (Hons); Public Sector economist; Economist with the National Farmers Federation. Irvine’s piece is at: http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/swan-proved-keynes-works-but-can-he-avoid-keyness-curse-20110412-1dcis.html Oh for some intelligent policy debates between our elected representatives.

Feral Skeleton

13/04/2011Casablanca, Thank you for Jessica's piece. She is always a water purifier in the muddied world of economic journalism. And, as per usual, the self-interested, Right Wing, know-nothing commenters on her pieces, slam her for being a 'Lefty' apologist for the 'useless, incompetent Gillard/Swan government', and worse! No wonder many journalists just want a peaceful life and a cheque at the end of the week to keep the home fires burning, so that write the sort of 'go along, to get along' space filler that doesn't upset the boss. :) Simply put, there must be a feeling among journalists that the plutocrats hold all the cards, and if you don't want to be marched out the door with a shoebox, you'll write what suits them. There are courageous economic journos, however, and mostly at Fairfax. People like Ian Verrender, Ross Gittins, Lenore Taylor, Jessica Irvine. However, now that Big Gina has bought a stake, and is cross-platforming with Channel Bolt, er, Channel 10, and 2UE, I am not confident that these good people will last that much longer.

Lyn

13/04/2011[b]TODAY'S LINKS[/b] [i]Pauline Hanson: the truth, Andrew Elder, Politically Homeless[/i] and of course lazy journalists who like to write the same stories all the time will give her the sort of coverage of which other independents could only dream. http://andrewelder.blogspot.com/ [i]Why the force is with Stephen Smith, Bernard Keane, Crikey[/i] The Coalition — which like The Australian has struggled to work out how to use the ADFA scandal to attack Labor — is now hampered in its response http://www.crikey.com.au/2011/04/12/smith-doesnt-let-a-good-crisis-go-to-waste/ [i]Bernard Keane on the hypocrisy of business, Nicholas Gruen, Club Troppo[/i] The one thing Keene left out that I’d hoped he’d mention was the way the BCA sat schtum when, early in its first term the Howard Government http://clubtroppo.com.au/2011/04/12/bernard-keane-on-the-hypocrisy-of-business/ [i]News Ltd goes on the defensive , Gary Sauer-Thompson, Public Opinion[/i] The episode indicates indicates a failure by the state to control the corporate media sector http://www.sauer-thompson.com/archives/opinion/2011/04/news-ltd-goes-d.php#more [i]Is the Defence Force capable of Change?, Reb, Gutter Trash[/i] Bound by an environment of male camaraderie, secrecy and bastardisation, it is a department is infested with a sickness of bullying and intimidation that would appear to be encouraged from the most senior officers in its ranks. http://guttertrash.wordpress.com/2011/04/12/is-the-defence-force-capable-of-change/ [i]Hanson supporters unite, Jeremy Sear, Pure Poison[/i] Ouch. Being called “objective” by John Pasquarelli is like being called “fair and balanced” by Rupert Murdoch. http://blogs.crikey.com.au/purepoison/2011/04/12/hanson-supporters-unite/#more-9721 [i]Economics – Make It Up As You Go, Neil Cook, The Bannerman[/i]Simply a figure latched onto by the media in a bid to promote something….anything….as news in the carbon pricing debate.That government hasn’t sold their initiative http://www.waddayano.org/blog/2011/04/economics_make_it_up_as_you_go.php#more [i]Green-baiting and the art of product differentiation, Peter Lewis, Unleashed[/i] These findings explain a lot of things: why the Prime Minister is using the language she is; why the Bob Brown is taking on his Left flank and why Tony Abbott is so desperate to wed Labor to the Greens. http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/55686.html [i]Medical research and corporate tax, Robert Merkel, Larvatus Prodeo[/i] For some reason, though, it seems like the government is considering a huge whack to the medical research community, with a 40% cut to the NHMRC budget. http://larvatusprodeo.net/2011/04/12/medical-research-and-corporate-tax/#more-20746 [i]The Standover Lobbyists Club, Ben Eltham, New Matilda[/i] The Senator was only halfway through his presser when the Australian Hotels Association’s Ian Horne crashed it. "You are spinning the community," Horne reportedly told Xenophon. "He’s accused us of lying, he’s accused us http://newmatilda.com/2011/04/12/standover-lobbyists-club [i]Right Wingers brains are different, David Havyatt, Anything Goes[/i] My daily fix Breakfast Politics of links to good stories today titled one "Science reveals right-wingers brains are different http://davidhavyatt.blogspot.com/ [i]All the news that’s fit for us not to read, Faye Anderson, The Conversation[/i] While news of the democratic uprisings in the Middle East rightly attract widespread focus, mass murder and oppression in other regions such as the Congo, Darfur, Burma, Zimbabwe and Chechnya continue unabated and with little media attention. http://theconversation.edu.au/articles/all-the-news-thats-fit-for-us-not-to-read-863 [i]An antagonistic relationship. Marius benson, The Drum[/i] give politicians prior notice of lines of questioning, forget it. You can certainly indicate areas that will be covered, but journalists are not under any obligation to give prior warning of all lines of inquiry. http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/04/12/3188743.htm [i]How many time does a corporate hack need to visit Israel to repeat its talking points? Antony Loewenstein[/i] It’s clearly too much to expect that a senior journalist from a major Australian paper would actually speak to people his guests haven’t arranged him to interview. Any Palestinians? Arabs? Gazans? Those under occupation? http://antonyloewenstein.com/2011/04/12/how-many-times-does-a-corporate-hack-need-to-visit-israel-to-repeat-its-talking-points/ [i]Is It True, Or Did You Read That in The Australian?, Alexander Stathakis, organizations, Climate Change and Adaptation[/i] let’s say outlandish or cobbled together coverage of climate change and climate policy related topics in The Australian. But… I was wrong. Geoffrey Lehmann, Peter Farrell, and Dick Warburton http://climatechangeadaptation.wordpress.com/2011/04/12/is-it-true-or-did-you-read-that-in-the-australian/ NBN [i]While last night’s #QandA was hardly riveting television , abwatson, Winds Light to Variant[/i] One wonders how the Opposition Spokesperson on Network Communication, Malcolm Turnbull, would reply to a humble blind man who has a better take on the advantages of an NBN than he does http://abwatson.wordpress.com/2011/04/12/graeme-innes-an-outstanding-australian/ [i]The NBN debate , Eyeball, EyeBall Opinion[/i] Turnbull and all the other NBN knockers who want to see varying versions of the proposed NBN – still want city demographics advantaged because that is where the profit source is – they just don’t get the real debate - http://bleyzie.wordpress.com/2011/04/11/the-nbn-debate/ [i]Why Malcolm Turnbull is wrong about the need for the National Broadband Network, Marxy's musing on technology[/i] Malcolm Turnbull knows, better than most, that as we head in to a world affected by climate change resulting from humans polluting the atmosphere with carbon, our broadband network will be as important as rail, roads, and hydro. http://blog.marxy.org/2011/04/why-malcolm-turnbull-is-wrong-about.html [i]Four Corners killed NBN technology debate - all that’s left is the politics,Joshua Grech, The Telegraph.com[/i] people who think the Federal Government shouldn’t be building the NBN are general, from what I have seen, the same people who rightly criticised NSW Labor for not building and maintaining infrastructure such as roads and rail. http://blogs.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/joshuagrech/index.php/dailytelegraph/comments/four_corners_killed_nbn_technology_debate_all_thats_left_is_the_politics/ [i]Analysis of the NBN Co infrastrucure situation, Paul Budde, Budde Blog[/i] or blow out the budget, and naturally critics will take advantage of these occasions to continue to preach their messages of doom and gloom http://www.buddeblog.com.au/frompaulsdesk/analysis-of-the-nbn-co-infrastructure-situation/

thenewjj

13/04/2011TT, Ah yes and i suppose you just got back from your socialist alliance group meetings eh! Where you all wallow and sob about the whole world ending because of Murdoch. TT You, like most others on this blog are fantastic at automatically labeling someone who doesnt hold the same view as you extreme! I am an avid supporter of anyone who wishes to see the Tea Party stopped in its tracks; so perhaps you should find some other 'insult'. As for the NBN debate, you just keep supporting this nationalist style of economics being displayed by Conroy and watch it unravel.

TalkTurkey

13/04/2011SameAsTheOldjj said "TT You, like most others on this blog are fantastic at automatically labeling someone who doesnt hold the same view as you extreme!" Folks jj should know that I no longer speak directly to her, since I feel so inferior when I come up against such erudition as hers, so could someone please tell her, I will faithfully send the Menzies Foundation or any other cause of her choice* ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS ($100) if she can find anywhere in anything I've ever written on TPS where I have fantastically automatically labelled anyone, even, Dog forbid, her own eminently-moderate self, 'extreme'. *Conditions apply. (1)Hell must have frozen over. (2)Pretty Polly Pantsdown must be Prime Minister of Australia. (3)I must be deceased.

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13/04/2011LYN'S DAILY LINKS updated: http://www.thepoliticalsword.com/page/LYNS-DAILY-LINKS.aspx

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13/04/2011Folks I have just posted another thoughtful piece by Hillbilly Skeleton [i]Labor Needs to Remember the Forgotten People[/i]. It is a prologue to further parts to follow. It addresses the important topic of the future direction of the ALP. http://www.thepoliticalsword.com/post/2011/04/13/Labor-Needs-to-Remember-the-Forgotten-People.aspx

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13/04/2011thenewjj What about a comment on the subject of this piece [i]Joe Hockey should read John Quiggin's 'Zombie Economics'[/i]?

TalkTurkey

13/04/2011Swordsfolk I am so hurt by SameOldjj's searing attacks on me . . . so this one by DMcL which I saw him perform in Sydney once is to soothe her savage beast and try to find out what I could have done so to offend her! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjKGQqy_tYM

Lyn

13/04/2011Hi Talk Turkey Please don't let JJ hurt your feelings, you are a thousand times more intelligent. Talk Turkey, you prove this every day by your interesting informative comments, and what about all those brilliant verses you write. JJ just trys to stir people up, it's called 'Jabberwocky' by me, common name "comments revolting", This is a good idea, JJ should think about attending an Abbott rally, with a great big, placard, this could help her to expel some accumulated resentment, sniping, and anger. Talk Turkey, what did you tell me yesterday, it was a fabulous day, well there is one every day. Beautiful day beautiful word 'frabjous' Cheers :):):):):)

Adam

13/04/2011Dear Mr thenewjj Allow me to address some of your comments. [quote]“There is a cheaper alternative that allows a much better outcome. You pay for regional broadband losses directly through the government (raised from taxes on all) while allowing urban broadband to have competition and, yes, lower prices. It is an economic no-brainer as one group (regional Australia) is no worse off than they would be under the cross-subsidy scheme while the other (urban Australia) is better off.”[/quote] In other words, allow private enterprise to generate profits in the profitable sectors and deny that revenue to the government, whilst taxing the population to pay for the non profitable sectors so more money to the big telcos. Fabulous idea.., Especially given the competition in Australian telecommunications has not really generated any savings to the end user, nor has it resulted in much innovation from the telcos. Why should it when they can keep generating billions of dollars in profits from old slow technology. [quote]We saw a printing outfit in Glen Innes for which higher-speed broadband would allow better management of the Christmas rush. But who is paying for that? Does a few businesses peak demand require an entire township and all its residents have fibre connections? We saw a school in Tasmania whose digital classroom exercises were enabled by high-speed broadband. Do we need every home in that area to be hooked up to get school to the world connections? We saw a woman suffering from cystic fibrosis and heard of a Year 12 student at home for a couple of months who could benefit from high-speed connections to manage health issues and their consequences. But did their neighbours need to fibre connections to resolve those connectivity issues? [/quote] Some nice arguments. But missing some important words. "Today", and "Tomorrow". Perhaps the rollouts to the rest of the community are not required [b]Today[/b], but what about [b]tomorrow[/b], the next day, the year after, 5 years from now. The neighbouring business may not need High Speed Broadband today, but what about tomorrow. 10 years ago, dial up would have been acceptable speed. Yet would kill many businesses in today's day and age. Today, the neighbour may not need medical assistance via high speed broadband, but what about tomorrow? [quote]Ask our patient – would she rather consultations in her own home or progress towards new treatments for her condition and I wonder what her choice would be. [/quote] Why cannot new treatments be progressed from consultations at home? I find this statement incredibly ironic given the home consultation in itself is a new treatment option that will be possible following FTTH rollout. [quote]So the Government has a point that services need to be provided and that in some cases high-speed broadband is the solution. It also has a point that in proposing and rolling out the NBN, it was correcting past mistakes. Telstra’s privatisation was botched and should never have happened without structural separation. To correct that, the Government needed to prove its seriousness in by-pass. But having done that, surely an optimised plan could be put in place. In effect, the Government is fixing past mistakes by repeating them. It is creating the old cross-subsidy model that itself drove the privatisation that was a disaster. [/quote] I disagree that the cross subsidy model drove the privatisation of Telstra. This was an action of Liberal Party ideology in order to get their hands on a great big wad of cash that they could then use to claim they were fixing the budget. [quote]To be sure, they may not be the same as wired options in terms of connectivity and speed. But consumers choose based on a broader equation – price and convenience too. The Government is betting that they will choose a higher priced wired option over a lower price but possibly lower quality wireless one. Everyday, telecommunications companies around the world are losing that same bet. That said, I'd also like to know whether the Opposition (should they get into power after the NBN is built) will unwind the cross-subsidy model they so oppose. [/quote] Perhaps you should see the statistics on new wired connections vs new wireless connections. The number of new wired connections is greater than the number of new wireless connections. If you rely specifically on percentages though, it will show the growth of wireless at a larger rate as it has a smaller base. Eg, increase from 4 to 5 (ie +1) is +25%. Increase from 10 to 12 (ie +2) is only 20%. There is money made in the wireless industry because that retail cost is actually higher to the end user than the home network. Forgive me for not providing a link to the latest statistics as I am operating from not my usual computer so cannot use my bookmarks. [quote]And on a final note, I viewed the Four Corners program soon after it was broadcast here in the US on a wireless connection that gets me 9Mbps locally and to Melbourne, less than 1Mbps. I watched the entire high bandwidth version without a skip. [/quote] Thats nice. I’ll see your positive anecdotal experience and raise with my own negative anecdotal experience of having to wait over 10 minutes for emails to download that were only 500kb or less. I was on a wireless network in Washington DC with full coverage that supposedly provided me with up to 10mbps. According to the technical support person I was able to speak to, fiddly things such as buildings and other wireless users were interfering with the network and slowing it down. Can anyone say the words “[i]complementary network[/i]”? Thanks Adam

Lyn

13/04/2011Hi Adam I hope you don't mind, but I have taken the liberty to copy your very welcome and interesting comment over to the next thread, a new piece by Hillbilly Skeleton. Cheers

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13/04/2011Adam What a breath of fresh air you have brought to TPS with your well reasoned comment that so elegantly answers Joshua Gans' assertions, promulgated here by thenewjj Facts and well argued positions are the life blood of this site, needed to counter the paucity of facts, misinformation and illogical reasoning in which some who comment here indulge. I hope you return often to contribute to the dialogue here.
How many umbrellas are there if I start with two and take 2 away?