catallaxy files

catallaxy in technical exile

Archive for December 2009

Austrian economists at play

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Some of the Austrian economists as they will never be seen again.

I wonder if Ludwig von and F A H ever partied like that?

The founding father, Carl Menger, was a bit of a playboy, he claimed that he spent too much of his youthful energy on love affairs. A liaison with one of his household staff resulted in a son named Karl who became a leading light in logical positivism. An unintended consequence!

Written by Rafe

December 30, 2009 at 8:39 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Those evil neo-liberals

CL left this in the open thread but it needs a thread of its own.

Mr Hawke fired up when fellow interview guest and public intellectual Clive Hamilton attacked the Hawke-Keating government’s economic reforms along with society’s obsession with growth and wealth generation.

The former prime minister dismissed the criticisms as “crap”.

“I say ‘crap’ because I find it strange verging almost on the obscene to hear comparatively well-situated people telling the poor they don’t need to aspire to improve their condition through wealth,” he said.

Mr Hawke said the world was not going to solve problems like climate change or provide better educational opportunities without gaining extra revenue from taxpayers in a growing economy.

“Tonight in this world one billion people will go to bed hungry,” he said.

“Now, if the affluent world is going to help these billion people, are they going to do it by saying a prayer, sitting in their professorial chair and saying growth is terrible?”

Written by Sinclair Davidson

December 29, 2009 at 5:14 pm

Posted in Uncategorized


with one comment

A lot of comments are getting spammed. I’m not sure why. I’ve just cleaned out several comments and posted them up. Comments with more than two links go into moderation as do multiple postings of the same comment. First time posters and returning commentators (to the new site) will also go into moderation, I’m approving people as quickly as I can. Please don’t change your ID to make new comments, as you are recognised as a new poster and go into moderation etc. Hopefully these teething problems will sort themselves out fairly soon.

Written by Sinclair Davidson

December 29, 2009 at 8:16 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Is Kevin Rudd the worst ever?

Has Kevin Rudd assured himself of a place in history as the worst PM on record?

A. Who are the other contenders? Whitlam, Gorton, McMahon.

You could even consider Sir Robert Menzies on the basis of one outrageous decision, to recruit boys to fight in Vietnam, which gutted the long-term prospects of the party.

B. Let us compile a list of the no  brainers, cynical gestures and abuses of power that he has committed.

1. Writing a speech that attempted to criticise F A Hayek but revealed that he and/or his advisors did not understand Hayek. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Rafe

December 29, 2009 at 12:02 am

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The Reith Lectures, Michael Sandel on markets and morals

with 18 comments

Radio National just just broadcast the first of the 2009 BBC Reith Lectures by Michael Sandell. Sound and transcripts can be obtained via Here.

Sandel has a famous lecture course on Justice at Harvard University. He is a communitarian who has made a career out of finding fault with various kinds of liberalism on the grounds that they are based on “atomistic indivivdualism” which fails to take account of the social context. I am not aware of any liberal thinker whose case is damaged by his criticism.

The theme of the series is A New Citizenship and the first lecture is on “Markets and morals“.  It is soft and predictable stuff, based on the assumption that the last 30 years saw the dominance of “market fundamentalism” and deregulation. He claims that it is time to rethink the function of markets, not just to re-regulate but to open up a public debate on a “new citizenship”.

He seems to have a problem with for-profit schools, hospitals and security services. He has got a point about using cash incentives to get kids to read books.

But the fundamental point that he overlooks is that markets are things that happen whenever people buy, sell and swap stuff. They are not over-arching, inhuman entities that are somehow or other imposed on us. Markets are us!

As to the morality and the kind of incentives required to get better results, the keys to  the problems with markets in recent times are the monetary policy of the US Fed Reserve Bank, excessive volumes of regulation, inept regulators (and raters) and the perverse incentives generated by Big Government including the expectation of a buyout of stricken banks.

Written by Rafe

December 28, 2009 at 7:19 pm

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A mixed bag of goods

with 40 comments

The leftwing answer to John Ray. Hyperactive writer Bob Gould.
A specially interesting letter to an old comrade.

Dear Liz and Keith,

I have known you both since we were young together in the creative and liberating turmoil of the sixties. Keith was my editor for a period when Keith Windschuttle, Liz Windschuttle, Hall Greenland and Rowan Cahill, amongst others, were the editorial collective of the Old Mole and I was a contributor. Hall and Rowan, both of whom are still firmly on the left, were your close personal friends, as well as your political associates, and Hall was the best man at your wedding. In the 1970s, my first wife Mairi, and my daughter, Natalie, lived close to your home in the Eastern Suburbs, and my daughter, who was older than your daughter Ruby, was sometimes her babysitter. Small human connections like this create bonds that often continue to exist even when deep political and ideological differences develop…

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Rafe

December 28, 2009 at 4:55 pm

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Bread and Circuses

with 22 comments

Ross Fitzgerald is bemoaning the rise of Christianity in public life in the Australian, while Chris Berg was bemoaning public spending on sports in the Age yesterday.
The bulk of Fitzgerald’s complaint relates to World Youth day

When Catholic World Youth Day descended on that state in July last year, many taxpayers resented being forced to pay $20 million in security charges for the event and $40m for the use of Randwick racecourse. The reason that atheists, agnostics, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Anglicans and even a few Catholics were being forced to go along with this was essentially because then premier Morris Iemma and many of his fellow committed Catholics in the NSW ALP Right were born into that religion. They didn’t want a confrontation with Catholic Archbishop of Sydney George Pell over a cheaper location.

But what does Berg say?

NOTHING excites state politicians more than having their government host major sporting events. Over the past decade, the Victorian Government has increased its self-imposed ”cap” on subsidising major events from $35 million a year to more than $80 million. Why bother calling it a ”cap” at all?

This mega event mania is not limited to the states: Australia’s bid for the 2018 or 2022 soccer World Cup is at $45.6 million. The bid now has its own special Commonwealth taskforce.

Roman politicians knew the most effective way to keep their citizens relaxed and quiet: lots of bread, lots of circuses. The Australian wheat industry has been almost completely deregulated over the past few years. So governments have doubled the circus money.

But politicians don’t like to admit they just buy our love. Instead they give lavish economic reasons why we need to subsidise mega events to the hilt: think of the tourism! The ”eyes of the world”! The eleventy-thousand jobs!

So why pick on religion? It is all ‘mega-events’. World Youth day, APEC, the Grand Prix, Olympics, World Cup, you-name-it, it is all an imposition on the taxpayers and residents of Australia.

The rest of Fitzgerald’s article is just nonsense. The PM goes to church, the Chief of Police is a Baptist, and so on. Like we care. On the issue of taxpayer dollars being wasted on mega-events we can all agree but I suspect we’ve come some way since the Federal constitution banned a religious test for holding public office. That you have to be an atheist or infidel to hold public office is just as offensive as having to be a member in good standing of the Church of England.

Written by Sinclair Davidson

December 28, 2009 at 10:15 am

Posted in Uncategorized