catallaxy files

catallaxy in technical exile

'Suspicious silence' or nothing to add?

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Not only am I not convincing Jenny Macklin on HECS and fertility, I am not convincing Andrew Leigh on how think-tanks operate. In today’s Canberra Times he has an article on government advertising. In it he says:

You don’t have to be partisan to see this [US restrictions on publicly funded political advertising] as a sensible restriction on government expenditure, though Australia’s conservative think-tanks have been suspiciously silent over their attitude to the WorkChoices advertisements.

Last month I tried to explain how think-tanks choose issues. Essentially, they run on a small number of issues in areas of staff or contributor expertise, and pick topics or angles that are otherwise under-represented in public debate. At least at the CIS, I would add that we never issue press statements on current issues unless we have an event or a publication to promote. On that measure, we are ‘suspiciously silent’ on about 98% of debates and controversies.

A quick search of the think-tank websites indicates that only Des Moore through his Institute for Private Enterprise has said anything specifically about WorkChoices. The CIS has criticised the minimum wage quite a few times over the years, most recently this article by Phil Lewis in Policy, but this is a discussion of the general economics of minimum wages, not a comment on the detail of the government’s package, which wasn’t known when Lewis wrote his piece.

This is much we would expect on my theory. At the CIS, we don’t have any experts on the labour market or political advertising on staff, and so we have been quiet on WorkChoices and the campaign. In the case of advertising, plenty of other people are saying that it shouldn’t happen, and I doubt if we looked at it we could come to any different conclusion. In my personal capacity, I have blogged on the campaign’s ineffectiveness, but that’s because I am interested in the dynamics of public opinion rather than the advertising itself. We haven’t got anything to say, and so we haven’t said it. I think this is sensible rather than suspicious.

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Written by Admin

October 27, 2005 at 10:01 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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