Open Forum: November 1, 2014

Posted in Open Forum | 7 Comments

A blast from the past

Posted in Libertarians don't live by argument alone | 7 Comments

Old Palmer Song

My favourite folksong when I first came to Oz. A great tune which ended up as the theme for the series “Rush”. It’s about mining in Queensland and searching for gold and things like that. It just sort of came to mind for no reason I can think of.

Old Palmer Song

The wind is fair and free, my boys, the wind is fair and free
The steamer’s course is north, my boys, and the Palmer we will see
The Palmer we will see, my boys, and Cooktown’s muddy shore
Where I’ve been told there’s lots of gold, so stay down south no more

So, blow ye winds, heigho
A-digging we will go
I’ll stay no more down south, my boys
So let the music play
In spite of what I’m told
I’m off in search of gold
I’ll make a push for that new rush
A thousand miles away

I also came across this looking for the above on youtube which is “The Old Maid’s Song” this time sung by someone named Clive Palmer. Have I mentioned that as part of my life on the left, I learned to play the banjo like all good children of comrades and naturally from Pete Seeger’s instructional manual. This is a great tune and well done but by today’s standards very non-PC.

UPDATE: As pointed out in the comments, the theme song from Rush was written by George Dreyfus but there ought to be no doubt that he was taking it from “The Old Palmer Song”. Lots of composers drew on folk song tradition. Here is Dreyfus’s version. And please do note the lovely sounds of the banjo.

FURTHER UPDATE: Again pointed out in the comments that the tune comes from an English sea shanty. But the “Ten Thousand Miles” of the title are about a lad who follows his true love off to Australia after she’s been shipped out as a convict. And if you go into this link on the history of the tune on disk, you can see a number of versions of the lyrics and one more video of the song being played. But if you are in England, the only place Ten Thousand Miles Away is Botany Bay so it may really be ours after all.

Posted in Australian Story | 23 Comments

Keith Windschuttle invokes the Colonel Jessup defence

This must be one of the greatest speeches in movie history – in an otherwise dull movie.

The Jessup speech captures the security dilemma facing liberal societies very nicely. People with guns have to secure our freedom. Yet the problem is, we know in the story that Colonel Jessup is a criminal. We know that he has exceeded his authority. We know that we have to guard against the Colonel Jessups of this world just as vigilantly as we do against the people on the other side of the walls that have to be guarded.

Here is how Keith Windschuttle characterises the issue:

Leyonhjelm is channelling those middle-class hypocrites Rudyard Kipling accused of “makin’ mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep”.

Kipling’s Tommy can be found here.

Keith Windschuttle is entirely missing the point here:

Moreover, the knee-jerk reaction to the new security laws confirms how deep-seated the culture of contempt for our intelligence services remains. This culture originated in the Cold War when the Communist Party developed the effective tactic of ridiculing Australia’s intelligence agencies for their allegedly obsessive surveillance — “looking for reds under the bed”.

First, of course, there were reds under the bed. More importantly, it is not a contempt for the intelligence agencies that drives a distrust of government, but rather a love of freedom. If we wanted a statist security apparatus that spies on its citizens, that dictates what can and can’t be read or said in the media, and lectures that no freedoms are absolute, we could simply have surrendered to those very reds under our beds.

Posted in Federal Politics, Liberty Clip | 97 Comments

How much tax do multinationals pay?

We keep hearing about those naughty evil multinationals not paying any tax. Well what do the ATO have to say about that?

In 2013, there were over 6,300 businesses reporting international related-party dealings and they collectively paid $40 billion in company income tax. Our focus is to ensure this represents a fair share of tax under current international tax rules.

$40 billion is company tax from multinationals. To get a feel for how much money that is the total company tax take in 2012-13 was $66.9 billion and in 2013-14 $67.3 billion – so some 60% of company tax revenue comes from multinationals.

Posted in Taxation | 21 Comments

Some economic basics

(HT: Sanjeev)

Posted in Economics and economy | 8 Comments

Damn statisticians (and accountants)

I suppose an inquiry into the Bureau of Meteorology is not a bad thing, but I’m wondering what George Christensen hopes to find?

He seems to be suggesting that any process involving statistics (or accounting) is hopelessly compromised. Now that is simply not true. He also seems to think that an inquiry will show the Bureau is up to no good.

What such an inquiry will find is that index construction is a complex task that involves many more or less arbitrary value judgements. That if you make a whole bunch of different value judgements that you might get a different outcome, or might not. I very seriously doubt that any inquiry into the temperature record methodology is going to find a deliberate effort to show rising temperatures in the present relative to the past. That may well be the outcome of the actual methodology employed to create the time series. More likely we would find that the temperature time series isn’t particularly useful for policy purposes given all adjustments that need to be made to generate “consistent” data.

So the community would learn a lot of the limitations of aggregate data and the uses of those data, but not much about the intentions of the Bureau of Meteorology.

The overall lesson would be that we don’t know as much as we think we do – certainly not enough to be spending billions of dollars on direct action, or taxing carbon emissions and that the Bureau should stick to forecasting the weather.

Posted in Global warming and climate change policy | 55 Comments

Your vote is sacred, unless you vote Republican

The video is of another instance from the story quoted here, but the story is just the same: Voting machine casts candidate’s vote for his Dem opponent.

Admitting his confidence in Cook County ballot integrity is shaken, State Representative Candidate Jim Moynihan (R-56), was shocked today when he tried to cast a vote for himself and the voting machine cast it for his opponent instead.

voteballotbox“While early voting at the Schaumburg Public Library today, I tried to cast a vote for myself and instead it cast the vote for my opponent,” said Moynihan. “You could imagine my surprise as the same thing happened with a number of races when I tried to vote for a Republican and the machine registered a vote for a Democrat.”

While using a touch screen voting machine in Schaumburg, Moynihan voted for several races on the ballot, only to find that whenever he voted for a Republican candidate, the machine registered the vote for a Democrat in the same race. He notified the election judge at his polling place and demonstrated that it continued to cast a vote for the opposing candidate’s party. Moynihan was eventually allowed to vote for Republican candidates, including his own race. It is unknown if the machine in question (#008958) has been removed from service or is still in operation.

You will not be surprised to find that this is not a story on the front page of the New York Times. There are now so many scandals within the American political system that it is impossible to keep up.

Posted in Hypocrisy of progressives, International | 31 Comments

Wednesday Forum: October 29, 2014

Posted in Open Forum | 1,572 Comments

Ha-Joon Chang – please copy

Ha-Joon Chang seems to be the economist of the moment, with yet another book published by Penguin, Economics: The User’s Guide. But what is notable for me is that he has obviously, but only obviously to me, looked either at what I have written about Say’s Law or looked at someone else who has picked up on what I have written on Say’s Law. He does the usual ritual on “supply creates its own demand” but then adds:

“There can be no such thing as a recession due to a shortfall in demand.” [p 116]

You who have heard me harangue on this for many a moon may think nothing of this, but this is precisely the definition I use myself. It is apparently and pleasingly getting out and about. Because once the focus is in the right place and on the right thing, then we can have a genuine debate. Are recessions caused by a shortfall in demand? Because you would have to be demented to believe that the Global Financial Crisis was in any way caused by a fall off in demand. Same for every other recession in history. But if one merely looks at the GFC, a fall in demand because of decisions to save has to be the least plausible of all possible explanations. In fact, Chang, and I again think following my lead, goes on to describe the kinds of things that those classical economists used to look at for explanations, which you would have to be demented not automatically to look at yourself. He writes:

Any recession had to be due to exogenous factors, such as a war or the failure of a major bank.

He thinks bank failures are exogenous [ie external to the operation of the economy, like being hit by a meteorite, say]! A bank failure is precisely what might be thought of as both endogenous and not in any way a Keynesian explanation, which is based around demand failure due to too much saving, not some kind of crisis on the production side. And you would like then to know what caused the bank to fail, and whether the problem was more widespread than a single bank, since during a financial crisis there is never only one bank going to the wall.

But then he goes on to add the usual Keynesian idiocies since economists just do not seem to be able to help themselves:

Since the economy was incapable of naturally generating a recession, any government attempt to counter it, say, through deliberate deficit spending, was condemned as disturbing the natural order. This meant that recessions that could have been cut short or made milder became prolonged in the days of Classical economics.

You really do have to wonder about these blockheads! We are the midst of what may already be the most prolonged of all recessions in history, and it is by no means over yet, and he complains about classical economists’ reluctance to try to fix things by public spending. Let me once more quote from my Quadrant piece from February 2009 which was titled, The Dangerous Return to Keynesian Economics:

Just as the causes of this downturn cannot be charted through a Keynesian demand-deficiency model, neither can the solution. The world’s economies are not suffering from a lack of demand, and the right policy response is not a demand stimulus. Increased public sector spending will only add to the market confusions that already exist.

What is potentially catastrophic would be to try to spend our way to recovery. The recession that will follow will be deep, prolonged and potentially take years to overcome.

That is classical economics forecasting, now almost six years ago, the prolonged recession every economy in the world is in the midst of and cannot shake off. If you would like to understand more fully what classical economists actually believed, you cannot do better than this.

Posted in Classical Economics, Economics and economy | 10 Comments